Monday, April 30, 2012

Tulips: Take Three

As promised, here is another, but not the last, edition of tulip photos. Enjoy the deep shades of red, lush green backgrounds and pretty petals. In the near future look for another installment of these bright bloomers.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Today, while passing through your neighborhood, driving to and from work or looking out a window, quite possibly you saw a scene similar to these in the following photos.   Most of us know someone who cherishes his/her four-legged friend(s) and faithfully ventures outdoors to take Fido on his daily walk.  So, to all dog lovers and their loyal companions, these pictures are especially for you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Smell Before You See

Lilies of the Valley...such tiny bell-shaped blooms with a delightful fragrance that you will probably smell before you actually see. Let your nose lead!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scenes From The Heartland

Scenes like these are everywhere on rural Iowa roads as farmers busily prepare the soil and sow the seeds for this year's crop.  Although most producers use large, modern tractors and implements, a few, as featured in one of these photos, still use relics from decades past.  Quite a contrast when compared with those models equipped with climate-controlled cabs and auto-steer!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who Did This?

Within the last week someone placed this adorable pink flamingo garden decoration between two boxwoods in front of our house.  Not sure how long it was there before I noticed; however, THANKS as it is a perfect fit and adds a pop of color to the mostly green landscape.  Nevertheless, I must also state that we are NOT actively seeking additional pieces of outdoor decor as some of you folks might mistake my gratitude as an invitation to deliver more items that may not be perceived as sooo cute!  Anyway, now that some of you are laughing at the thought of all the former pink flamingos that adorned our lawn on various occasions, take a look at this cutie!
During an April shower

Monday, April 23, 2012

Never Too Many Tulips

As mentioned in a recent post, tulips are some of my favorite spring bloomers as well as subjects for photographing; hence, I have more.  Enjoy these vivid colors and bold shapes!  Stay tuned for another edition of tulips in the near future.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Garden Guests

Although we don't have pets, I am still fond of furry four-leggers, including these farm cats.  When working in our vegetable garden, I am often accompanied by a couple of these friendly felines who want my undivided attention as well as some fresh water.  By the end of the summer we have become good friends and I start to recognize their individual purring as they make their way across the yard to join me in the rows of yellow wax beans.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tulip Time

One of my favorite springtime arrivals is tulips as they paint the landscape with a multitude of colors and provide a long awaited reprieve from the often harsh, cold winter.  Even as a child I was thrilled to see the green tips as they emerged around the edge of our circular flower garden.  For this Iowa girl, tulips bring a bit of whimsy and refresh our spirits as they subtly announce, "Warm weather just ahead!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cute Kids

Need a mid-week boost?  These adorable faces should help.  The first little woman is darling in her Easter outfit; however, she appears to be more concerned with chewing on something in order to soothe her teeth that are almost visible. 

Next is an animated toddler who is delighted to have found plastic Easter eggs filled with candy.  Her chin is proof that she liked what she found. 

The third photo is of a smiling, adolescent brother-sister pair that actually seems to like one another.  May these cuties brighten your day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pink & Blue

About the time daffodils and other spring bulbs start to bloom Bluebells do the same.  While looking at that photo be sure to notice the clusters of pink buds that will become the blue bells.  Since Bluebells like moist soil and some shade, you might find these in a woodsy area or along a damp shady border of an existing garden. 

The second photo is of something I never knew existed until after I took the photo and had to find out the name.  Perhaps the same for you?  Nevertheless, the amazing ruffled pink blooms of the Flowering Almond shrub captured my attention as they looked like enormous kernels of popcorn lining the branches.  Set against the trees and lush green grass, this bloomer dazzles all who take time to notice its explosion of petite pink flowers.
Flowering Almond

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Orange & Black Surprise

While on an excursion to the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, located just off the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, I was thrilled when a pair of Hooded Orioles landed and started feeding in a blooming bush right beside me!  In fact, I was so delighted that I really had to focus on containing my excitement so I would not disturb the birds and could get some decent pictures.  This opportunity just does not frequently occur!

Anyway, although the male and female were both present, I was only able to get some good shots of the male.  He was brilliant orange with distinct black patches and whitish wing bars while she was primarily an olive-yellow tone with similar markings on her wings.  And, just to clarify, the photo of the male turned upside down (below) is just how he appeared feeding on the bright orange blossoms!  What a beautiful sight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lovely Lilacs

Along with other early blooming spring bulbs, trees and shrubs, lilacs are an annual favorite with their delightful fragrance and large clusters of soft blue, rose-pink, crimson-violet, lavender and white flowers.  In our area these hardy beauties are all abloom as they line numerous alleyways and are sprinkled throughout most established neighborhoods.  So, step outside your door and let your nose lead you to a lilac bush in full bloom.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Bit Squirrelly

Animated.  Mischievous.  Nimble.  These descriptors come to mind when I see squirrels frolicking in the yard, raiding bird feeders, tightrope walking electrical lines and chasing one another from tree to tree.  And, just thinking about their crazy antics makes me laugh.  So, today's photos include some scenes where I captured them doing what squirrels do best -- eating, slithering through tight spots and eating some more. 

The first picture is one of my favorites as it humors me to imagine how easily this furry little critter found a bag of birdseed on a porch and started inhaling.  However, I can also understand the home owner's frustration when he found an empty bag along with sunflower seeds, cracked corn and more strewn in all directions just outside his front door.   

And, if after reading to this point you still have not smiled, I want to remind you of a couple instances where squirrels certainly captured our attention and made us laugh.  First, recall the incident in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when the squirrel created havoc during a holiday gathering and caused great emotional distress for an elderly woman.  My dad still laughs hysterically when watching that scene. 

Second, think of last fall when a squirrel shocked everyone as it dashed across home plate during a Cardinals-Phillies Divisional Series game.  That squirrel quickly became known as Busch, The Rally Squirrel, and probably still has his own Twitter account.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flowering Trees & Bushes & Shrubs. Oh, My!

Everywhere all sorts of things are blooming, including rhododendrons, forsythias, flowering crabs and magnolias.  In addition to their spectacular color, some are also delightfully fragrant.  Forsythias are some of the earliest to bloom in the spring; therefore, due to this year's mid-March warm spell, most reached their peak a few weeks ago.  Regarding the rhododendrons, be sure to notice their thick, somewhat leathery, dark green leaves that remain after the beautiful clusters of blooms have withered.  In these parts the Saucer magnolia tree, with its large white to pale pink flowers that appear before the leaves, is a common sight in many yards as it can handle the often harsh winter conditions.  Finally, there are several varieties of flowering crabs that thrive in Iowa and provide glorious shades of pink, white and red along with a pleasant fragrance. 

So, on your next trip to the grocery or discount store, see if you notice any of these spring-time beauties in full bloom!

Blooms of a Saucer magnolia



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Giants Among Us

April 2012
About a year ago between the two small Iowa towns of Greeley and Edgewood construction started on the Elk Wind Farm.  Today 17 wind turbines operate in that rural area and provide energy to farms, businesses and homes within the state.  According to an article posted on the web by the Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative, this farm serves only customers in the state and can produce enough electricity for approximately 14,000 typical Iowa homes.

Since our vegetable garden is located near this site, last summer I had ample opportunities to witness this enormous undertaking and capture a few photos of the construction phase.  Now, a year later, most of these rural gravel roads are quiet again except for the local farmers preparing to plant corn and soybeans; however, the landscape is permanently dotted with these energy-producing giants that tower above the horizon and can be seen from miles around. 

Of course, as a former Spanish teacher who taught one of the world's most famous novels, Don Quijote de La Mancha, I can't help but wonder if, someday while I am picking strawberries or tomatoes, I will be greeted by the famous crazed knight-errant and his squire, Sancho Panza, as they roam the countryside restoring order and fighting injustices by performing chivalrous deeds.  So far, no sightings!

Cranes played an integral role 

April 2012

Construction, August 2011