About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Fences - More Monet Inspired Gardens in New Zealand

In the previous Watery Wednesday post I shared some photos of Hortensia House and garden on New Zealand's South Island. The gardener is an artist as well and is inspired by the French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. The Wednesday post featured mostly water shots from the back lawn.

For Friday Fences, let's have a look at the front of the house. At the front entrance you walk down a graveled path to find this front fence and trellis covered with lush vines. The beautiful wood trimmed ironwork gate is fortunately open so that you can see the gardens surrounding the house:
Looking to the left through the gate you can see several seating areas where you have a good view of perennial beds full of color from hydrangeas, roses, flowering vines, and fruit trees:

To the right there are more trellises and plant beds that grow all the way to the front entrance of Hortensia House. Notice that the roof color complements the periwinkle blue of the gate and window trim:

This last photo is of the back of the house so you can see how everything is planned with an artist's eye--the house and trim color, the graceful roof line and that porch lined with flowering beds and wisteria:

For more fence photos, be sure to go to Janis' Place to link with other Friday Fence photographers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Watery Wednesday - Monet Inspired Garden in New Zealand

For this week's photography memes I'm going back to photos taken on a 2004 garden tour of New Zealand.

Hortensia House is on New Zealand's South Island near Blenheim. The gardener/owner is a Frenchwoman and artist. Her paintings and ceramics were inspired by the many flowers in her garden and by the French Impressionist Claude Monet. Hydrangeas in great variety, roses, fruit trees, and native plants blend together in this elegant garden.

Hortensia House has beautiful open windows accented with periwinkle blue that look out over intensely planted perennial beds to a graceful stream that runs through the property:

This Japanese bridge is inspired by the one at Monet's Giverny garden in France and leads to a small island:

The island has flower beds close to the gazebo--which echoes the house's architecture. Behind the gazebo are open fields:

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Zealand's Fantasy Landscapes

This week I thought I would share some more photos from a 2004 horticultural tour of New Zealand. This country is a land of contrasting landscapes from native bush country to almost desert-like tussock grass to flower-filled formal gardens. Today's photos are from the Otari Wilton's Bush Native Botanic Garden near Wellington on the North Island of New Zealand.

The most memorable plant in this garden was the huge tree ferns, which are almost prehistoric in feeling. We were able to see the tree ferns from all vantage points. First we walked across a "tree walk" which was a bridge that crossed over the tree tops:
Next we took stairs deep into the bush for some closeup of the tree ferns like these very young fiddleheads which will become the fern fronds as they mature:
This is a grown tree fern truck with its interesting hatched or almost plaited looking bark. Notice that the fiddleheads dry as the season progresses:
As the tree matures, the older stems turn this shiny black color and the fiddleheads get thicker and darker as well:
This photo of a tree fern "umbrella" was taken from the tree walk:

Come back on Wednesday and I'll share some lovely New Zealand water scenes, both natural and man-made in the formal gardens.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Fences - New Zealand Sheep Farm and Gardens

This week I thought I might share some rather insignificant fences in New Zealand, whose landscapes are as varied and fabulous as the fences are common. These photos are from a 2004 garden tour of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Today's photos were taken on the South Island. Here we're driving on the east coast of the South Pacific near Christchurch. These fences were for cattle and sheep. In the background you see the snowcaps of the Southern Alps.
To get to the farm and garden we were visiting (Waipapa Clarence Bridge) we drove through the Clarence River valley. You can still see the Southern Alps in the background. I think this whole area looks rather "Lord of the Rings", don't you?

The farmhouse was surrounded by pastures dotted with sheep as far as you could see, their movements controlled by simple fences and a whole contingent of hard-working border collies:

Here's another view of the sheep pastures and mountains that seemed to have just erupted from the earth.

This is the farmhouse that is over 100 years old. An artist owned the house and also designed the garden. Can you imagine how much enjoyment the owners must get from sitting out on this wraparound veranda enjoying the mountain views?

The gardens were formal with tightly clipped boxwood edging. The beds were crammed with primarily yellow flowering perennials accented with dramatic purple dinosaur sized spires whose names are a mystery to me.

Yes, I'll admit that the fences were not the star of this show, but I thought you may enjoy some scenes from this mythic countryside. For more fences of all kinds and the stories that go with them, be sure to visit Janis at Life According to Jan and Jer for a list of the Friday Fence players.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Watery Wednesday - Burano, Italy

Recently I watched a Rick Steves European Travels episode on PBS which spotlighted Venice and some of the small islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Reminded me of a 2008 trip to this most romantic Italian location, especially Burano with it's gaily painted houses and handmade lace. To get to Burano the easiest thing to do is to pick up a water bus, or vaporetti, in Venice somewhere along the Grand Canal:

From Venice you travel north on the Venetian Lagoon, enjoying views like this of grand churches, galleries, hotels and private homes.

After about 45 minutes on the vaporetti you arrive at Burano, an island of fishermen, lacemakers, and Murano glass artists. Gaily painted houses and shops sit along the narrow canals that run through the town. The houses were painted different colors so that fishermen could see their own houses from the water when out fishing.

After lunch at a delightful seafood cafe in the town square, we wandered along the canals looking for pieces of the exquisite Burano lace in small shops. We were also lucky enough to see elderly women sitting outside the shop making the lace.
Some shops also sold the beautiful jewel-colored Murano glass which is handblown in the area.

Venice is crowded with tourists and the accompanying carnival atmosphere from mid-morning to very late at night. If you are lucky enough to visit this area, I recommend that you take a break and enjoy a slower paced travel experience like on Burano.

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Fences - Snow Fences in Kiev, Ukraine

Today we have our first significant snow and icy roads in Louisville so I thought it might be an appropriate time to show you a different kind of fence. Look closely at the lower right hand corner of this photo and you'll see a snow fence on the rooftop which is used to control the movement of snow in places with heavy snowfall. Like here in Kiev, the capital city in Ukraine. I took this photo from my apartment window in December 2001 when I spent almost a month working with farm councils in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine.

Before I retired I worked for a large farm organization, teaching leadership, board training, strategic planning, and cooperative council work. One of my most unusual work assignments was to go to Ukraine under the sponsorship of U.S. Citizen's Network for Foreign Affairs Agribusiness Volunteer Program. I worked with mostly women farmers in western Ukraine helping them to set up farm councils. They were just learning to operate privately owned farms since being under communist collective farms up until the mid-1990s.

I've written two posts about my work there and the experience of visiting Ukrainian farms, living in a remote mountain village with a local family. There's lots of on the scene photos and tales of adventures and mis-adventures if you're interested in a peek at another culture.

# 1 Ukraine Assignment

# 2 Zakarpattia Women

For other Friday Fence photos, be sure to stop by Janis' place at Life According to Jan and Jer

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Watery Wednesday - Corporate Duck Pond

Last Sunday evening I drove past a favorite spot in my neighborhood as the sun was beginning to set. At one of Louisville's corporate headquarters there's this small pond with a walking path all around and arched bridge spanning the pond. It is enjoyed by employees as well as people in the community who come here regularly to feed the ducks and walk around the pond, sometimes with their dogs.

Sunday was a gorgeous day with white billowy clouds as you can see reflected in the water. The sunset was a yellow glow against the clear blue sky:

The ducks were in luck today. One family came with a sack of cracked corn which everyone seemed to enjoy as a change from stale bread for dinner. I don't think these guys waited the recommended half hour after dinner to go swimming!

Another view of the pond and woodland area with a walking trail. You begin to see the sunset reflected in the water.
I'm glad that we have this little watery escape in the middle of one of Louisville's industrial parks. The ducks appreciate it too, I'm sure.

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday -Spencer Quinn's Thereby Hangs a Tail & Dog On It

This nose belongs to Chet, the canine half of the Little Detective Agency in Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie mysteries. As Chet describes it "We run a detective agency, me and Bernie, called the Little Detective Agency on account of Little being Bernie's last name. My name's Chet, pure and simple. Headquarters is our house on Mesquite Road, a nice place with a big tree out front, perfect for napping under, and the whole canyon easily accessible out back, if it just happens someone left the gate open. And then, up in the canyon--well, say no more."

Chet is the delightful narrator for these two mysteries. We don't learn much about him except that he has mis-matched ears, is a self-described "one hundred pounder" and chief worrier about the detective agency bringing in enough income to keep up child support for Charlie, Bernie's son and Chet's best buddy,--and repair money for the aging Porshe and dog food. Chet loves riding shot-gun when they're out on a case and welcomes the occasional perk of taste testing a new line of dog treats or sharing a donut with the local police. Chet manages to be pretty much on the case, ready to leap and take a bite out of a perp's leg if necessary. But Chet also is the first to admit that he has occasional lapses in judgment. It only takes Bernie's warning "Che-et!" to get him back on task!

I just love Chet--and so does everyone else who reads these two books. So much that I couldn't limit to just two sentences for this week's Teaser Tuesday. Instead, here's some Chet lines that made me just laugh out loud:

Adelina (potential client)looking him over when they first met: " 'He looks big. I don't recognize the breed. And what's the story with his ears?' My ears again? How rude."

Lt. Stine gives him a treat: "I took the cruller back to my seat and had some quiet time".

When he and Princess (a kidnapped show dog)were on the lam: ". . .felt a pain in my head, a kind of heavy throbbing pain. It made me want to puke, so I did."

His dislike of horses: "Totally unreliable, always twitching for no reason, but humans don't seem to get that, go on and on about how beautiful they are until I just want to trot over to one of those weird legs, the real skinny part, and give it the tiniest. . .but I would never do that, at least not again, after what happened that time at the ranch."

On self restraint during an investigation: "Something about Bernie--or any human--on hand and knees always got me going so I had to wait outside with Colonel Bob."

Teaser Tuesday is described by its host, Miz B over at Should Be Reading ,as a "weekly bookish meme" open to any reader who wants to play along. If, like me, you're always curious about what people are reading or on the lookout for the next great read, then this may by your meme. To play, just click on Miz B's link above for the simple rules.

(Image credit: Chet's Nose- Philip and Karen Smith/Getty Images)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Watery Wednesday and Winter Photos, Day 14 - Beargrass Creek

I took these photos of Beargrass Creek that runs through Seneca and Cherokee Parks on a very chilly New Year's Day. These two parks are part of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, named for Frederick Law Olmsted, said to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted designed our Louisville, Kentucky parks system. There are several bridges spanning Beargrass Creek. This one I thought was particularly beautiful.

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.


Starting on the first day of winter, several photographer-bloggers have been posting daily photos of wintry subjects. We call the meme Two Weeks in Winter Photos. Today is the last day of the challenge. Other players:
Janis @ As Jan Sees It
Kim @ Kim USA

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Two Weeks in Winter, Day 13 ~ Snow Frosted Ivy

Yesterday we had enough snow to frost the ivy. And yes, I'm busted. On January 2, I still had not cleaned the fall leaves out of the ivy bed.

If you'd like to join me in this challenge, just post your daily winter snapshot for the next two weeks. Leave a comment here and I'll let everyone know you're participating. Here's the list so far:

Janis @ As Jan Sees It
Kim @ Kim USA

Monday, January 2, 2012

Two Weeks in Winter Photos, Day 12 ~ Blue Bird of Happiness

I snapped this rather out of focus bluejay--I think--on New Year's Day. Although the bossy bluejay doesn't exactly fit the traditional image of the Bluebird of Happiness, I'm taking his appearance on January 1 as a good omen for 2012. Okay?

If you'd like to join me in this challenge, just post your daily winter snapshot for the next two weeks. Leave a comment here and I'll let everyone know you're participating. Here's the list so far:

Janis @ As Jan Sees It
Kim @ Kim USA

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First of the Month and Winter Photos, Day 11 ~ Cherokee Park

I took these three photos of Baringer Hill in Cherokee Park this afternoon. Louisville, Kentucky has a great public parks system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), the father of American landscape architecture. Mr. Olmsted is most famous for designing Central and Prospect Parks in New York City. Baringer Hill is a popular playground for sledders, children and dogs and is at the summit of Cherokee Park so you can look out over the trees at all seasons of the year.

Last year for the First of the Month photography meme I focused on Kentucky skies. The idea is that we look at our surroundings and record the changes from month to month. The host for this meme is Jan at Murrieta 365 . Here's how it works: "The goal is to capture one thing repeatedly on the first day of each month. It can be a landscape, a person, an animal, a project; whatever your focus is fine. It can be a record of where you are each first day of the month." This year I decided to photograph Olmstead Parks here in Louisville.

Two Weeks in Winter Photos - We are near the end of a two week winter photo challenge. However, if you'd like to join me for the remainder of this challenge, just post your daily winter snapshot. Leave a comment here and I'll let everyone know you're participating. Here's the list so far:

Janis @ As Jan Sees It
Kim @ Kim USA