Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lots more photos and reflections to come


We've had a wonderful trip around the Argentinian Lake District, across to Chile and down the Carretera Austral, returning up the Ruta 40 on the Argentina side, now back in Buenos Aires for a few days before returning home. Gravel roads, dust, isolation, fiords, mountains, Valdivian rain forests, glacial lakes, posadas, trout, and merluza - all part of the journey, along with a short trip on the "Patagonian Express" - La Trochita, which now circles through a remarkable landscape of steppe, desert-shrub, and multicolored mountains from Esquel.


Our travels took us through vast landscapes of amazing diversity - it's going to take time to sort through all of the photos -and properly write about the experiences.


Bariloche, Argentina Lake District, Patagonia

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I went on a wonderful trip a couple of years ago to visit naturalistic gardens in Germany.  (This group of posts reflects on that trip and beyond).

Traveling solo creates a different experience than traveling with others, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it, spending reflective time as well as active time. 

Of course, traveling with a like-minded companion is wonderful, too.  Garden-visiting in the company of other gardeners is in that category, too.  I'm definitely excited about going to Toronto for my sixth Garden Bloggers Fling in June.  The smiles on our faces reflected the great time we had last year in Portland.

Thanks for the great photo, Helen!

Janet, Daricia, me, and Julie (all Carolina garden bloggers)
And traveling, whether alone or with others, can be such a source of self-discovery as well as a way to connect with the commonalities and differences of lives and cultures in parts of the world very different from my own.

As I'm off for another winter break journey, I'm thinking about what it means to share time in other places and cultures, and the enriching and remarkable experiences that result.

We can journey in our own places in the world, too, of course, and I'm a believer in gardening and learning about nature as a path to creativity and sense of place.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014


This is a good time of the year, for me, as we move through the "holiday season" and pass through the Winter Solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Here in the Southeastern U.S., we have 4 distinct seasons, to be sure, but winter isn't normally too difficult, unless you're high up in the mountains (Southern Appalachians).

Many of you, who might read this, are in MUCH farther northern areas than I am, so count me a wimpy winter person;  I'm mindful of that.

I spent an academic year in Germany several decades ago, and thought the winter was pretty darn difficult and dark. Light at 8 am, twilight at 3:30- 4 pm. I was not happy, although I loved the festive season around Christmas, and the holiday markets.

Holiday lights, the Solstice to come, and longer days all beckon. 

And I'm glad to have a dose of Southern hemisphere summer for a few weeks, too. When we return in early January, it's not so long until the early flowers of Asian species pop out, and our native woodland wildflowers are not long behind.

It was fun to read my older posts tagged winter!  Perhaps you'll enjoy them, too.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More holiday thoughts

This is really another test Blogsy post.
Here's Woody on the trail. It's hard to leave him at home, when we're traveling, but he's always in good hands.


Christmas lights

I was reminded, thinking about Christmas, and traveling to come, and various places that we've been over the holidays - of the wonderful lights in Lecce, in Southern Italy some years back.



They were magical, above the streets of the old town's (now) pedestrian walkways.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Traveling over winter break

Holidays are interesting times. We're heading off on Friday for three weeks of traveling, and I've been making sure everything is "battened down" here at home, etc. with house-sitters, mail and newspapers held, plant care instructions, and bills paid in advance, etc. etc.

It's a familiar dance, but is always a bit stressful (an understatement) to make sure everything is taken care of! I'm blessed to be able to travel, for sure.

We're headed to mountains, forests, and streams, with long summer days this time of the year (in Argentina). We'll be in Buenos Aires for a bit, but then mostly in the Argentinian Lake District (Northern Patagonia).

It's always interesting to see how Christmas and New Year's are celebrated in wherever we are; I expect a combination of restrained celebration with over-the-top commercial stuff, too. We'll see.

But most importantly, it'll be fascinating to explore the drier side of the Andes, too.  We visited the Chilean side (the wetter side) 12 years ago on a wonderful trip, which included a much farther south trek through Torres del Paine and Punta Arenas.

Lake Pehoe refugio at Torres del Paine National Park

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Woody's perch

I thought I had some better photos of Woody's perch.  He looks so delightful when we return from dinner or an outing without him (not frequent....)

A rescue boy, with an affinity for getting into trouble (think cat poop, decomposing debris, etc., with resulting MAJOR digestive issues, and expensive vet bills), he's become an indoor fellow, in spite of his size. 

He gets very long walks several times a day, so no need to feel sorry for him.

He snoozes most of the day, but when we're away from the house, he loves his perch!


Connecting with nature through art

I've had a great time tip-toeing back into doing art that connects me with nature.  Nature has been a touchstone for me, although art (aside from photography) has been absent for a long time.

Doing watercolor classes has been great fun recently, and helping me get through some of the "art blocks" that I still have.

This exercise was one of the most recent, in a class with Elizabeth Ellison, and I liked how it turned out.

So I was delighted to see (via a good friend) that I could have the image printed, put on mugs, placed on a shower curtain, or duvet.  Wow, who knew!

I'll be ordering a mug for myself -- perfect for morning coffee.

It will be a reminder to be creative every day.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014


I'm fussing around this evening trying to make sure that I remember how Blogsy works, with its tricky interfaces with photos, Picasa, etc.

It's the best option for blog posting on an iPad, still, apparently. I first used it 2 years ago in Germany, then a bit in the Caribbean.

In Colombia last winter, Google refused to recognize that I might be traveling, without a smart phone to receive a text message to confirm that I actually was "me."
They actually did that again this evening, when I'm home, just because I accessed Picasa (which they own) from an unfamiliar device (iPad), and hadn't done so for quite awhile. Hhmrph.

Posting photos hardly seems like a high-security endeavour. And, of course, they'd like to have me switch my log-in to my Blogger account (also a Google group) to a gmail account, even though they don't allow using a gmail account as a secondary "security" email -- go figure.

In any case, a few weeks without posting anything is not the end of the world, but it's become a touchpoint and reflection for me. I may need to fall back on notebook and pencil, which isn't a bad thing.

Today, I'm thinking that the fall color is stretching on -- with the oak leaf hydrangea out my study window still vibrant and the blueberries in the front now a scarlet red.

Hmm, I'll have to add the photo for that from my desktop! I'm still blocked from logging into to Picasa, for some reason.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wonderful fall color

The fall color just continues -- it's surprising. Maybe the mild weather has held the brilliant red leaves of the oak leaf hydrangeas still?

Here's what they looked liked a couple of weeks ago, and have the upper leaves echoing this still.

And the blueberry leaves have turned a lovely scarlet color, too. (I wish I had my camera!)

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Japanese persimmons

I should have persimmons to harvest about now, but don't, thanks to some sort of voracious herbivore (the fruits would have been VERY astringent when they disappeared.

The small tree that had produced them came with us to the Piedmont over twenty years ago.  I've written about that journey and its atftermath before.

Persimmon fruits (on an old tree)
It struggled quite a bit in its early years, and has never been truly robust, but often has produced 20-30 fruits.

That's what what it looked like would happen this year.  HMM. Deer, squirrels, woodchucks?  Very puzzling.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

A wonderful witch hazel

The witch hazel in the front is in full flower now.  It's beautiful.  My camera is "in the shop" so I'm just imprinting what it looks like to memory.

The beautiful fall color of the leaves (a buttery yellow) are lovely, and now past, but what's wonderful now is the flowers --they festoon the now small tree (it's no longer a shrub) with dainty yellow -- dancing in the light.

fall witch hazel
 This image of fall leaves and flowers, from several years ago, gives you an idea of the magic that this witch hazel creates.