Monday, August 31, 2009


I like the feeling of nestling into a soft chair or bed. I like how it is a way of being positioned in an area, that fits just right. The bottom photo is like a magical forest from Alice in Wonderland with flowers peaking out from behind the woods.
Nestling in to your home where all your comforts await you. We should be home from Maine tonight. We will go pick up our loved dogs in the morning. My wife and I are like two old farm kids who have been out to see the world. What a deal! I hope all of my blogger friends are doing well.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Relaxed and Retired....

We have lost track of how old Yellow Kitty is. We should have called her Orange Kitty, but she is a sweet old cat. We are down to the basics now, eating and sleeping. I wanted to throw this chair away but she loves it and it is her favorite spot, other than being in her wooden barn. She moves all day to dodge the hot sun, but some days she moves to stay in the sun. Her teeth are almost gone and we baby her all day with soft foods to keep her going. She walks around fine but she was so matted over the winter that I had to give her a haircut with pet scissors. He coat is looking really good again. When we had the special needs Manx cat, she was kind of put on the back burner but now she is our center of attention again.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Informal Balance.....

Sometimes the design quality is most important. I like the abstract design this photo has with it's strong contrasting colors. I have never regretted painting that door blue. This is the second year for that coneflower, so next year it should be bigger and s stronger. The background linear stem is a leftover from my Grandma's regal lily. I don't understand the reflection on the door but maybe I did take this in the morning and it is the sun.
Color and texture balance each other. The formal shape of a bright flower really looks good against the textural free form of foliage of bachelor button plants.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fading Zinnias.....

This zinnia is in need to be dead headed soon. I have been told by garden show people, I watch a lot of garden shows especially in the winter, and that it encourages more blooms. The color scheme in that flower is such a wonderful value study, or maybe intensity study.
This fellow is weathered and weary but makes a great composition with the Martha Stewart whites in the background. I really like dahlia's and I think that zinnia's have given me a good substitute for them this year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bachelor's pink and blue....

I remember my mom growing these on the farm in Southern Iowa. I think they reseeded themselves each year as I don't remember her every planting them. I read an article about a man in Georgia once and his guru garden friends accused him of gardening like an old lady. In reality, women and men alike, did grow free flowing gardens that were more wild than controlled. My mom would go out and thin out the weeds around what she had desirable and if there was an open spot that is where the new flower from the neighbor was placed.
Iowa has bachelor buttons growing wild along our roadways, along with other wild flowers. They come up early in the year and are blooming before most wildflowers are out. Just on the edge of our town on a gravel road they are growing freely.
Since I am retired, I should get seed collected for next year. We will see how the fall turns out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Reaching back a few weeks I still have a few zoo pictures to show. They had a few pairs of swans that hung around the feeding area of the koi as they like fish pellets too.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gourds and Watermelon.....

Some of my fellow blogger friends have either not seen gourds before or haven't seen some of these varieties. Gourds in general are grown purely for decoration. We sell them at our super markets so you can mix them in with a fall flower arrangement or a fall wreath. I guess they are traditionally grown, even though in the early years of our country, large gourds that are dried, were turned into scoops, bowls or ladles. Also we have them to make birdhouses out of them.
As you can see these things have been judged including the watermelon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Natural Bouquet.....

The flowers are starting to fade, but it was a great show. I have had a lot of bees feeding on the flowers and I am pleased with the results of the zinnia and bachelor button garden. I must get organized and save seed of everything. This photo is rich in color and contrast and I like how it developed into a natural arrangement with great contrast.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Get your apples in a row....

I have a lot of apples that are mostly not any good. My wife and I are going to dig out her mom's old cookbook and see if we can juice them for jelly. I figure we can clean them then grind them in an old meat grinder and strain out the juice of apple jelly. Below the apples in a row are the volunteer coneflowers and the gourd that I planted. There is no way that it is going to mature fast enough to get gourds off of it but it makes a nice vine. I still have the seed and I will try again next year.
Gourds on display at the State Fair. As you can see Iowans out there planted their gourds soon enough to get these results. Mine will never make it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

At the fair......

It takes two photos today to get the job done. Fairs hire different people who come to be enhancement to the fair experience. Shows of a one man band will be playing up and down the streets all day, monkey grinders, and those kind of things. This gaggle of geese are bonded to this man and he herds them up and down the fair grounds daily.
He apparently bonded with them as young ones so they will stay with him. His honking sound is wonderful and they go walking down the streets and sidewalks with class all dressed up.
When interviewed on TV, he said that each goose had a personality and he decided to dress them up a little to fit that goose's character. My wife and I are exhausted and we were going to see the rabbits, but we stopped for an ice cream treat. God wanted me to see this guy because while I am resting and eating my treat, he went by herding his geese. I had camera in hand, set my ice cream down on the bench and acted like a crazy man getting all sorts of pictures. Life is good. I just loved this whole scene.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bee Friendly Friday

I have seen a lot of bumble bees but I was glad to see the honey bee on the zinnia's. There were lots of chances to photograph this bee but I was only fast enough to get one good shot. I have a few blurry pictures to throw away, but that's great that I got one.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grapes in your trees.....

I have two bushes that are cherry bushes. They are near the property line and my neighbor planted a grape vine on a wire woven fence near there. One of the cherry bushes died back so I had to cut off all of the dead wood. Before I could do that I had to remove my neighbors three very long grapevines out of that bush. I twined them into their evergreen trees so the grapes would not be on the ground. They have done well there but it does look strange. I could help the guy build an arbor but I think I will wait and see if he will do it on his own. The bush that I trimmed back is now putting out sprouts so the short bush can cross pollinate with the larger one next spring, so I can have cherries again. The cherries are small and worthless but we crush them to get the juice out of them and make jelly. I do not recommend buying any cherry bush, even if they are cheap, but we have made the best of it with the jelly thing.
I happened to have a contribution to Motion Thursday. The duck and her babies were headed under the bridge at the zoo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Small and Big....

I have a pointella bush sitting in this arrangement. The bush was there first and I started putting roses in the area because it was a bright sunny location most of the a day. When I was taking the shot I saw this clear white flower creating a nice informal balance to the composition. That is my carefree rose which has continued to bloom many times. A normal Iowa summer will slow that down but the rains we have had all summer kept it going.
A weathered zinnia dwarfs the smaller ones in the back ground. It isn't a great color scheme orange and magenta, but the green neutralizes the shocking colors contrasts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time weathered.....

I regret that this didn't stay in better condition but the tornado that came through town brought winds that sent this into a strange shape. I hammered it back into shape but it loosened welded joints and they keep coming apart. I would repaint it but it looks better natural since it is in such bad shape. It was inherited from my wife's Aunt Irene's home. I am glad we have it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bachelor Button Valley...

This garden wasn't planned that well as the bachelor buttons are not as tall as the zinnia's that are in the front and back row of them. I do like the little valley that it creates. The color of this whole area is magical.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Glad day of red......

I planted about a dozen of these glads and it looks like this will be the one and only to bloom. It is my favorite color.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday's Sedum.....

I am amazed as to how photos come about. When you are not looking, the shot jumps out at you. The sedum has a great pattern of buds on them right now and the blending of the black eyed susans created a tapestry of pattern and color. This sedum has given me so many photos from early spring to now. It is a great plant.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Barney our border collie....
I have told some before about Barney but we got him from a rescue group when he was about seven months old. He wandered the streets in a Missouri town for awhile before they finally captured him. He would growl at our neighbors patrol car and anyone in a hat. He has so many fears. That is some of the characteristics of some border collies but this guy can't handle the neighbor twin girls coming down the sidewalk with swirling umbrellas. Things that come running out from the blue, like the school track team sends him running home with me behind him. I use to walk him every single day but after a year and half, he got more frightened than ever and we can only now walk two block out and back not much more.
He also loves to bark at and chase fast running cats. He would never hurt them but it is his job to watch at our fence for killer cats. He doesn't like to be photographed but especially if he is staring at potential cats in the neighbor's yard. When I was clicking away at him, he would flip his head at me a half a second and turn back so as not to loose track of a cat on the porch.

He barks at people like he is going to bite them, but what he wants is for everyone to meet him. Yesterday the Swann man was here selling ice cream and stuff, and I had step out on the porch to greet him. Barney has always barked madly at him, and yesterday he slipped through the door and stood between the Swann man and me. He leaned his head against his thigh and looked up at him, like aren't you glad to see me. The man didn't act scared but he did look down startled and said well hi Barney. He was surprised at how friendly that he was. All bark and no bite.
He has been an energy challenge but he has become such a nice part of our family. He was such a good therapy dog for my wife's father who lived here with us. He was a loyal fan to Clarence.
I keep trying to get good photos of him but he is determined to duck the camera. So I am going to be content to just take pictures of him on the sly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cichlid Thursday.....

You wouldn't think fish would have personality but this one has always been at the glass giving off fish impressions. I guess it is his size that makes him look like he is smiling at you but he is always happy. His eyes are looking at you not just staring into the deep. He is an interior decorator like most cichlids as he is always moving the gravel around in the bottom of the tank. I have never named him but he is a beautiful fish.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Backyard Rose....

I don't know the name of this rose but I think it is a Buck rose. The colors are so different, and as it blooms out it fades out to a light and dark colored rose. My roses are regrouping for their probably final blooms of the season. Fall is around the corner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Abstract images......

I have an appreciation for the abstract as sometimes it can express an emotion in a way that realism can't do. I love the light that shines back at me when I point and shoot at my meager fish trough. When I buy floating pellets for my fish, I will try for a clearer macro of a fish in the water. When they are deep in the water I can't get a focus. Instead I get the view that an Impressionist would paint.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Water Hyacinth.....

I have a lot of these photos but I thought this was the best color. I am torn as to if the textures of the water and the stream of water carries enough visual weight to make it an actual balanced picture. One day you think you have a good thing and the next day, you wonder what I was thinking.

Yes this is the better picture. I have been into the water reflections so much this year and sometimes they don't have the strongest of compositions. It is fun to keep trying. The brick holds down my filter system so I can't get rid of it. This is the first time I have ever had one of these water plants bloom. It was quite a surprise.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Relaxation at it's finest.......

I have been saving this one for a while. Some days you have to look hard to find a quality photo for a daily show, but I am really backing up on some shots that I have taken the last week. I guess I should quit shooting until i get them caught up.
The lioness is at the Blank Park Zoo here in Des Moines. She got tired of all of the activity going on and just laid down on the rock. I bet the rock feels cool to her and she must not care that the rock is hard. When we went into the gift shop pictures like this were everywhere, so I guess she rests on this rock on a regular basis.
There is plenty of green thick grass to lay in but she doesn't mind this position at all.
At one time when we walked by the male lion was laying deep in the grass on his back with his feet in the air cooling off in the heat. He was too far away for me to get a picture.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bird Hospital.....

This is my blurry picture of my rehab birds. I have many birds that were given to me by students when I was teaching in the public schools. It was like a bird rescue so to speak. I kept most of them in my classroom until I retired. As birds are like chickens, the Finches have a pecking order. In this cage that is shown are actually three birds. I have a male Zebra Finch that others think that he shouldn't have feathers around his neck area. I had to remove him to keep him alive and put him in this hospital so to speak. These two birds in the picture are best friends as they can't seem to grow tail feathers. I removed the female finch, one on the right, years ago to keep her alive as she also can't fly very well. She spends most of her time at the bottom of the cage on a low roost I put in just for her. The one on the left is a Society Finch which has a really neat song and she just likes to keep the female Finch company. So at night, or in the day, for naps they sit beside each other to rest.
It really is my hospital wing for birds as the two cages of Cockatiels are all doing fine and the one cage of Parakeets are happy and the rest of the Finches in one other cage are all healthy. Five cages if you were trying to count. I am going to give the three healthy Finches to a friend some of these days so there will be less beaks to feed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The three stages......

My William Baffin rose has revived for it's second bloom. It is having problems. It was huge and green everywhere, and the full front half has now died. I think it actually got too much water from off of the shed. The thing was so much alive and now half dead sticks. I will use my new reciprocating saw on it to get the dead canes out. I am going to put an eave trough up to drain the water away to the other side of the shed. Usually in a normal season I am carrying water for it but not this year.
The photo that I shot was one that you take when you reach way high and hope your are getting it all in the frame. I really didn't notice until I started to prepare the picture that you have an early bloom, bud stage, a recently opened stage and the fading opened for a few days stage.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Coneflower jungle.....

This is originally a plains plant that grew throughout Iowa when we were solely a prairie state with very few trees. Can you imagine that it was less than two hundred years ago and this state was still undeveloped full of tall grasses, wild flowers and Buffalo?
Purple coneflower has now been sown all over the state in the ditches along our highways. It really is nice to see it doing so well. I have taken so many pictures of coneflowers in my garden but I thought this one reminded me a bunch of umbrella plants creating a forest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nesting Flamingo......

At the zoo they have a dozen or so of flamingos and of the group they have two females actually nesting. This was another group at the zoo that was difficult to photograph. They were almost always sleeping or turned away from the visitors. They are not very hungry as they are fed well so they are on the shore being placid and inactive.I hadn't thought of it until later that on Nature shows they are always foraging for food where here they don't have to. Anyway, the nesting females are facing the visitors and put on a good show as they continue to move mud up and spread it on the sides of their nest while sitting on their eggs.
One of these birds decided to leave the flock this spring and ended up near the freeway. Even thou his wings had been clipped it still could fly. Would not that be a surprise to be driving down the freeway and see a real flamingo standing in a ditch of water. No this isn't Florida, it is Iowa. Needless to say the animal control police had never had to capture a long legged bird before and return it to a zoo.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pure White Perfect Imperfection......

When I was planting my zinnia's I found I had more prepared rows to plant than I had seed. I used my last years seed but there weren't enough. I bought new seed on sale and it was all white zinnias by Martha Stewart seeds at K-Mart. I thought a complete row of white among mixed rows would be a good look. The above flower is deformed but it is perfect. I think it actually makes it a more interesting photo as one tries to see what is wrong with it and you can see I didn't pull off any petals, they just didn't grow. I think the color is so pure as the white rose I posted a few days ago.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Koi and water patterns....

Koi are actually slow moving and graceful in the water as they swim by, but when you are feeding fish food to them they turn into an angry mob. Well not really angry, but very competitive for the best feeding spot. While the feeding frenzy is going on, the light reflects off of the stirring waters.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

White rose bud......

I took this photo at the rose garden in Duluth, Minnesota. They were so healthy looking with their deep green foliage. I do remember that it was labeled "Iceberg."
I do not know if this is the same rose plant as the bud above. It was a cold, blustery, rainy day and we rushed through the garden and snapped pictures quickly. The shadows of the rose seem more cream colored but that could just be the interpretation by the camera of shadow. We want to return another year and take some time to really enjoy the garden.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bee Friendly.....

I have seen bumble bees all summer but this the actual first honey bee that I have seen so far this year. It encouraged me to plant this area again if it will help out those honey bees. I took six different shots and I have a few motion shots to post someday for blurry picture blog day, but this one surprising turned out almost in focus. Have a good weekend.

Blue gate view......

I have really grown to like my blue paint on this gate. It took a couple of days to dry in for it's true color. This photo idea came from two of my blogger friends who talked about gates being a mystery and you want to see what is on the other side. Another blogger friend mentioned it seemed like I must have a secret garden behind that wall and gate. I guess it is our refuge and a place to get away from the town around us. Click on the photo to get a closer peak. Have a good day.