Serenity Sunday–and Spontaneous Sunshine

Several of my blogging buddies have been rallying around Liz’s post today (here) featuring lots of her yellow favorites. Others have also chimed in with yellow-related memories, and I mentioned the yellow car that CD and I  had back in Berlin. Liz asked to see it, so here it is—and here we are, dredged up from the archives of only some 45 (short) years ago!Obviously, I was not the photographer, so I figure I need make no apologies for the quality of the image, but it was a very precious moment in time. And yes, how we loved that car!

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Isolation Antidotes (37): Too Much Independence?

Here we are, on the 4th of July, the US Independence Day, and for the first time in many years, we are not at our cabin in the north woods to celebrate it. But we are well and safe and with our family, so all is just fine. On this occasion, I bring you a photo that I made exactly 10 years ago, of the annual fireworks display in the town of Walker, near the cabin.
We have several pressing issues taking precedence on our front burners at the moment—among which are applying for our permanent New Zealand resident visas, buying our first (used) car here, preparing for our first over-wintering, and contracting new additions to our home—so please bear with me if I default to “likes” in lieu of my usual comments to your posts for the near future. Rest assured that I am reading and following, and that I will resume normal interactions as soon as I can. Meanwhile, stay safe and well!

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The Oww and the Pussycat

I’ve highlighted our Grands on several occasions recently, but it’s really been quite a while since I featured the smallest member of our family—and even longer, I believe, since I posted an actual selfie, rather than just including myself in a tripod-based group shot. And so, for something really different, I bring you both. Leo joined us from the Nebraska Humane Society in January 2005, and we estimated his age at the time to be something between one and two years, so we figure that he’s now probably in his eighteenth year. We brought him with us when we moved to New Zealand, of course—but that’s another story—and he’s still in great shape (and yes, that’s a professional opinion) and he is loving being the king of his new castle here. He has never been out of doors, so I had to construct screens for all of the windows that open, but that was a very enjoyable DIY project for me. And, yes, back to my cryptic title: That was not a typo. We’ve noticed one recent change in Leo that brings him a bit closer to me in appearance, namely the development of his new and striking one white whisker (which provided me with the “oww”)! Did you spot it? No? That’s OK, just sit back and relax. And my little jest? Give it time. It may grow on you.

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Isolation Antidotes (36): Avast, Admiral!

While going back through my archives for today’s date in past years, I came across this photo that I made only two years ago in northern Minnesota, which somehow never quite made it into a post. It’s a red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), and many of you may recognize it, as it’s endemic not only to North America, but also to temperate Europe and Asia. I see these with fair frequency when we’re at the cabin, and I’m missing them this year; in fact, I can picture them going about their normal lives there as I write this here. This one had perched briefly on a young sumac bush, on which the flowers were developing.

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Isolation Antidotes (35): Flirting With a Fantail

Staying in the vein of the home bubble, I was working in the yard on Friday, moving a mass of mulch from its storage place at the edge of our garden to a new patch around some of our small trees that I had prepared for that purpose, when I noticed that I had some very attentive company. One of our favorite native birds (and one of New Zealand’s best-known) is the cheeky little fantail (Rhipidura placabilis), very familiar to hikers, as it is insectivorous and very bold, and fantails frequently flit about in very close proximity, hoping for small insects stirred into flight by the hikers’ passing. They will often approach to within a meter of a person, but they are rather hard to catch with a camera, as they are almost constantly in energetic motion. Their common name comes from their tendency to extend their tailfeathers dramatically into a wide fan. This one was obviously hoping for insects rising from the mulch, but did not produce this characteristic display for my camera during our brief encounter. I have seen this bird almost daily for the past week or so, and will try again (and again) to see if I can get that special shot. Stay tuned!

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Isolation Antidotes (34): A Brace of Beauties: Abutilon

We’re still cautious of leaving our bubbles, so I’ve been joining many of you in foraging close to home for photo fodder. Just outside our kitchen window grows a sparse but persistent abutilon. I have included it in two past posts (here and here) as co-star to the main roles dominated by the magnificent tui, but today I’d like to let it stand in its own spotlight without the distraction of being upstaged. It rained yesterday, and as I went out for some chores, these two nodded (and winked) at me and volunteered for portraits. The branches on which they grow are long and slender, and the slightest breeze will set them to bobbing around, but with patience and perseverance, I was able to get a couple of satisfactory results. (As usual, click on the photo for an enlarged and more detailed view.)

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Webnesday (59): Lady in Red

I haven’t had the chance for any photo ops with local spiders recently, but just a few days ago my photo buddy Steve in New England did a post (here) on an Arabesque Orbweaver (Neoscona arabesca) that he’d just seen the day before, and I was immediately reminded of a distant relative in my experience, a Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus), that had settled in at the prow of our upturned canoe in Minnesota nearly ten years ago. Yes, they are different species, but they do show a rather striking similarity. I might have wished for a more natural-looking background than the outrageous red of the freshly-restored canoe, but we work with what we have, and it does rather serve to dramatize her gorgeous markings, don’t you think? (If you’d like to get even more intimate, click on her.)

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Isolation Antidotes (33): Summer Solstice, Swimmingly

As the days hurry on and we greet the winter solstice here in New Zealand, I’m dreaming of past summer solstice days in Minnesota. Here’s one from exactly two years ago, featuring a mother goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) and four of her brood hurrying along in the lake just below our cabin. Wishing a happy solstice to you all, wherever you may be!

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Isolation Antidotes (32): Further Forest Forays

In my recent post about our holiday in Rotorua, I included a photo in which I tried to give a good impression of the size that some of the redwoods have attained by including a few of the family in the distance. I’d like to add one more from that afternoon that provides an even better perspective with the inclusion of The Elf, The Sprout, and The Urchin. A couple of days later we spent several delightful hours in nearby Paradise Valley Springs, which features an animal park that the kids always enjoy immensely, and through which the lovely Ngongotaha River flows, a natural stream with rainbow and brown trout.

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A Grand Day Out

During our first escape from the city, about which I wrote a couple of posts ago, while we were in the Hamilton Gardens, we corralled the four grands together for a group shot. CD and I, and all their parents, are quite pleased with the way this turned out, so I’d like to share it with you out there, too! From left to right, their names that I’ve adopted for this blog are The Bean, The Elf, The Sprout, and The Sprite. They are all great friends and (usually) get along very well with each other—as do we as well!

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