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Uninspired (A Summer Photo Gallery)

This seems to be my central theme this summer — uninspired.  For the first time in several years, I have had a slow summer where I’ve had time to relax.  Rather than use that time wisely, I seem to have fallen into a lazy, selfish slump with an “I don’t care” attitude.  How very unusual for me!

My husband claims I am having my midlife crisis.  Lol  I think that claim is merely retribution because I accused him of the same thing last fall when he planned an expensive spur-of-the-moment vacation.  😉

Regardless of the cause, my blog has been a bit neglected as a result. I simply could not think of a single thing that seemed worth sharing here over the last month.

After looking through my WordPress reader this morning and seeing the blogs listed below, I decided to whip out my old Canon camera and search for inspiration.  If you are interested in great photography, encouraging thoughts, and/or interesting info (about photography, nature, famous landmarks, etc.), check out these blogs:

Dusting off my camera and playing for far too long on PicMonkey.com has enabled me to present you with a summertime photo gallery. I hope you enjoy!

fluffy cloud over a park filled with pink crape myrtle bushes

We’ve been blessed with several pop-up showers this summer. Today the clouds passed us by, and it was too hot for the joggers and the “Pokemon Go” players to fill up the park.

dwarf marigold called "Legion of Honor" (red and yellow blooms)

“Legion of Honor” marigolds are supposedly a dwarf plant, but they are still over knee high!

orange sunflower framed by a fluffy white cloud with bumblebee flying by

Bumblebees and honeybees were buzzing all around my garden, but I only managed to capture one in a photo.

milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) nymphs on milkweed seed pod

There were no monarchs in my neighborhood this year, so I let the milkweed bugs take over the plants. The nymphs of these bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) love to cuddle in groups on the seed pods of the milkweed plants.

"Suyo Long" cucumbers hanging from a vine on a black trellis

“Suyo Long” cucumbers are wonderful and easy to grow. The cucumbers are burpless, never have bitter skins, and grow to 18 inches long. You can buy seeds for these from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

"Ali Baba" red watermelon shining in the sun surrounded by vines and leaves

Treasures are hidden among the greenery!  To me, eating melons (and sugar snap peas) is the best part of gardening! One of my favorite melons is a honeydew type called “Boule d’Or (Golden Perfection);” seeds for it can also be purchased from rareseeds.com in the link above.

hot, panting chickens in many colors drinking from a water bucket

Our poor chickens are about to melt in the triple-digit temperatures this summer. Can you see the optical illusion of the long-legged hen on the left? It’s actually two chickens!  Let me show you…

white chicken with clump of feathers sticking up on the back of her head

This Leghorn mix got a unique “hairstyle” because of her stubbornness. In 2014, she refused to get out of the older hens’ favorite nest box and got her scalp peeled back by a dominant hen. With a little super glue, raw honey, and several weeks of care, we had her patched up. Unfortunately, the super glue didn’t work long to seal the wound. The skin on her head regrew, complete with new feathers. Strangely, the flap of skin lived as well, forming a unique pom-pom on her head.

dayflower bloom with two blue petals on Commelina weed, front view

I researched this cheerful vine-like weed that grows in the shade around our property. It’s called a dayflower, or Commelina plant.

dayflower bloom with two blue petals on Commelina weed, side view

Here’s another dayflower from the side. The chicken pen has never looked lovelier! ha ha

ant's view of tiny weed in yard, surrounded by moss

Here’s an ant’s-eye view under a bush in the yard. I often find that beautiful things are “hiding” all around me, if I look closely enough.

framed photo of dragonfly resting on a twig

The dragonflies are thick this year! I finally managed to snap a photo of one that paused on a bush.

As you can see, I experimented with framing the photos today. Do you think the frames enhance or take away from the photos?  Are certain ones better than others?  If you wish, you can compare these photos to a spring gallery I did last year without frames.  You can also compare them to an early spring gallery of garden seedlings, which is presented in a tiled format.  Which do you prefer?  Please let me know in the comments below!

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Photo 101: Street 3.0

 Day 2 goal:  Capture a wide-angle shot, paying attention to foreground and background.

You never know what you’ll see at an outdoor weekend flea market.  There were so many vehicles and people on the dirt streets, it was hard to see anything at times.

street photography with chickens

street photography with dog in baby carriage

street photography father and son with chickens~~~~~~~

I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Street 2.0 — We had a fun afternoon at this go kart track.

Street 1.0 — The streets were blanketed in snow the first time I participated in Photo 101.

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Poultry Animosity

Meet “Little Roo.”  He first appeared on this blog as a tiny fluffball of only two or three weeks old.  He’s bantam mix of a cochin and a silkie, hence the purple comb and wattles.

brown and cream rooster standing in snow, Silkie Cochin bantam mix

A cutie, right? What a sweet little guy, huh? Well…

Now he’s a big (as he’s going to get), bad adult rooster.  And I mean “bad” literally because he has a bad case of “little man syndrome.”  He’s the meanest rooster we’ve ever owned, and he has a definite grudge against my rubber yard clogs.  I did a photo shoot to show you how ornery this beautifully-feathered guy is.

small rooster with hackles raised who looks like he's tap dancing

We taught him to tap dance, too! Nah, just kidding, he’s fluffing his hackles and wings in attack mode there.

 

small rooster in the snow glaring at a shoe

Look at that glare — oh, how he hates my blue clogs!

 

small rooster with wings outspread attacking a shoe with his spurs

Full-out attack mode! His spurs have not developed yet, but I can tell he will know exactly how to use them when they do grow in!

 

small rooster ducking below shoe in his face

He ducked when I stuck my foot out to renew his attack for more photos. What an agile little guy!

 

small rooster flying sideways to attack shoe

Sorry about the poor camera angles. It’s really hard to do a close-up photo shoot of a moving target while defending yourself.

 

small rooster biting shoe

This boy doesn’t peck; he bites and tears like a crocodile. Once he latches on to something, he shakes his head from side to side and won’t let go.

 

small rooster attacking shoe, one wing up and one down like a dancer

The quality on this photo is not good because we were in the shade, but the image was too funny to overlook. This must be his version of the funky chicken dance.

 

I’d like to assume Little Roo is merely “cangry” due to the snow; but no, he’s this way all the time.  He’s really great to the hens; so as long as he doesn’t become too much trouble for us to safely handle, I suppose we will have regular boxing matches for years to come.

(What’s “cangry”?  Oh, sorry, that’s cold + angry…a silly joke from a previous post.)

~~~ Unfortunate Update ~~~

Wow, what a coincidence this post got pushed back until today! (The photos were taken on January 23rd.)  Less than 24 hours after this published, Little Roo’s fate has been decided.

I responded to a couple of comments on this post and went outside to enjoy the sunshine.  In the distance, I saw my daughter sparring in the chicken pen with this stubborn fowl.

My daughter tried to pick him up and calm him, as has always worked with roosters we’ve had in the past. He put two swollen lumps on her wrists and ripped fluff off of her furry coat.

Warning, gross part coming! — She put him down, and he fought so hard against her feet that he caught his toenail under hers (she was in flip flops as usual) and ripped off his own toenail!  Luckily for him, I went in the pen and grabbed him to allow my daughter to leave.  That’s when blood started running all over my hand as I held him by the legs.  We probably wouldn’t have known about his wound if I had not picked him up.

A few spoonfuls of peroxide and several paper towels later, I was able to stop the bleeding on his toe, clean him up, and calm him down.

Both parties are now in their separate corners nursing their wounded feet.  Lol

Little Roo will be relocated by the end of the week.  Poor dumb dude.  I really think he would fight another rooster to the death.

Moments of Joy: May 2015

The moment of joy I related last month was a fun one — seeing the smiles and looks of confusion on my loved-ones’ faces after a hard-fought battle to present them with a secret surprise.  This month was a hectic, emotional roller coaster.  Instead of telling one story, I’d like to mention a few simple pleasures that brought a smile to my face over the last four busy weeks.

photo collage of young pullet chicks in the grass

The tiny baby chickens we bought this spring are adorably feathered-out and testing their new wings.  The twinkle in my daughter’s eyes and the giggle on her lips makes me smile as I watch the chicks fly up and down from the ground to her lap and shoulders.  Their antics are comical as they stretch up and flap their wings, run in excitement with their heads near the ground like tiny race cars, and chase each other in circles to steal whatever worm or treat one of them finds.

black letters shaped like people that spell the word friendship on a colorful background

There is a lady I’ve known for years, and though I have tried many different approaches, I have never been able to develop a real friendship with her.  I have made deeper connections with her sister and a couple of other family members, but had resigned myself to the fact that she would always keep me at arm’s length.  I guess some people never “click” as friends.

Well, this seemingly-shy lady has begun to step out of her comfort zone to reach out and make connections with more people.  After soliciting help from myself and a few other ladies, she has even organized us into having a monthly get-together in order to spend more time together and become closer friends.  Our first meeting is later this week, and I’m looking forward to learning more about these great women.  There’s always room for a few more friends to bring joy to my life.

photo collage of sugar snap peas and strawberries growing in a garden

The cool of the morning feels refreshing on my skin as I step onto the back steps early in the morning.  I look up to see clouds floating gently by.  Robins, cardinals, sparrows, and mocking birds make background music as they feed their first sets of fledglings for this year.

I tiptoe across the grass and step over the short fence which surrounds my garden, while the thick layer of wood mulch keeps me from sinking into the sodden clay soil.  What a wet spring we have had this year!  While others watch from a distance as their berries rot beyond the soggy, tilled soil, I patter around the mulched paths of my no-till garden enjoying a tasty breakfast of fresh strawberries and sugar snap peas.  This is such a pleasant way to start the day!

school textbooks and binders lying int the green grass

On a day when the ground is (almost) dry enough (for a change), I break out the riding mower to manage our growing jungle of a yard before it gets tall enough to require a crew with a bush hog and hay bailer.  Round after round the grass is slowly beaten down to a manageable height (I say “beaten” because the blades are too dull at the moment to actually cut anything).

As I approach the large trees in the middle of our backyard, I cast a longing glance toward my hammock that I have not had time to enjoy so far this year.  Refocusing my attention, I carefully steer across a section of the 200 foot ditch I dug through our yard several years ago in a desperate attempt to turn half an acre of part-time pond into a usable lawn.

Suddenly I realize I am no longer moving, but am sitting in the middle of the ditch tilted over to one side!  After a second of shock, I remember to turn off the blade and assess the situation.  There in the ditch, lying peacefully under my beloved hammock, is the front wheel of the lawnmower.

“What?!”  I think to myself.  “Lawn mower wheels don’t just fall off!  This is something that happens in cartoons; this doesn’t happen in real life!”

I go into the house to gather tools; and after a loud wrestling match involving a wooden board, a crowbar, a heavy jack, and the much heavier riding mower machine, I manage to securely reattach the wheel.  All the while, I’m trying to be very careful not to re-injure my back that I hurt two weeks earlier when I fell on the concrete steps to our back door.

As I’m packing up the tools and equipment, my neighbor calls across the fence to ask if I’m having trouble.  Though he’s in his 70s, he also has never heard of a riding mower wheel deciding to leap off its axle and take a break.

I tell him the unusual things I did to get the wheel back on without hurting my back and how he had missed the great show I had put on for the neighbors when I bounced down the back steps and then shuffled around in slow motion for over a week.  He told me to call him first next time so he would not miss out on the entertainment.  Aah, my sweet, sympathetic neighbors.  Lol  We have amused them a lot over the years with the crazy things that go on in our yard.

To sum up this growing story…I finish mowing the lawn and go inside the house to enjoy a cool glass of water.  When I step into the living room, there’s my daughter with books spread all over the couch, taking notes from her science book in preparation for her upcoming test.

It warms my heart to have a trustworthy child who will work independently.  She can tell that I’m going to be outside for hours, but she continues to work without me checking on her.  She knows exactly where the answer keys to her tests are in the filing cabinet in the other room, but she never touches them because she realizes that what’s important to me is the process of learning, not just grades.

I smile at her and praise her efforts as I think to myself, “Next week, I think it will be her turn to mow the grass…”

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Blogging Difficulties: A New Kind of Writer’s Block

Blogging can be an interesting and rewarding pursuit, but it has it’s problems, as does anything in this world.

For example, I learned today that writer’s block can go beyond the typical mental challenge to actually become a physical problem.  Lol

black and white three-week-old Barred Rock chick walking on a laptop keyboard

My daughter’s favorite chick is an escape artist!

~~~~~UPDATE  6/24/15~~~~~

My daughter brought “Peepers” the chick back into the house to recreate this moment and show you how much the young pullet grew in a mere six weeks.

black and white nine-week-old Barred Rock chick walking on a laptop keyboard

There’s quite a size difference between a three-week-old chick and a nine-week-old chick.

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Strange Photographer Selfies

Macro photography has fascinated me of late, though I don’t have the best equipment for pursuing it.  While looking through recent photos on my computer, I zoomed in on the “bug traffic jam” in this first picture and realized that my reflection was showing up on the beetle’s shiny black shell.  Can you see me?

millipede walking across a rock in front of a shiny black beetle

The fast-moving beetle was cut off in traffic by the longer, slower millipede. Don’t you just hate when that happens? Lol

reflection of a photographer in a beetle's shiny shell

I saw my reflection in a photo of our resident bunny, too.  It wasn’t very clear, so I grabbed my camera and purposefully captured a rabbit-eye-selfie.

rabbit relaxing in the grass while watching an Easter egg hunt next door

It took me a while to figure out that the fuzzy gray dots all over this photo were caused by a swarm of gnats that flew between me and my nervous subject.

reflection of a photographer in a rabbit's eye

Here’s another from a different day.

extreme close up of a rabbit's eye, showing reflections

You’ll never guess what momma bunny was doing when I took this photo. She was watching dozens of kids across the street having an Easter egg hunt! The dark, curving lines are reflections the of wild green onions that quickly grow tall in our yard between mowings.

Can’t leave out a chicken-eye-selfie!

close up of chicken's face with oatmeal hanging from her beak

Yes, that’s a reflection of me in front of a window — we had the chicken inside our house to do some health maintenance (I’ll spare you the gross details Lol).

reflection of photographer in hen's eye

~~~UPDATES~~~

This “selfie” was taken on purpose.  I wasn’t going to share it, but I was inspired to add it anyway after seeing a post by Rita Hueston on her blog Tidbits and Tales.

silhouette of a woman, trees, and sky reflected in a puddle

 ~~~~~~~

Have any Strange Photographer Selfies surprised you in your photos?  Please share them or describe them in the comments below!