Waterfalls, Lotus Ponds, Atlanta’s Midtown Open Garden Stroll, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Liquid

Sunday was the 4th year we’ve gone to the “Midtown Open Garden Stroll” in Atlanta – it’s always a joy, and speaking of liquid, it almost always rains at least some time during the day. This year there was thunder rumbling as we walked home, but the rain held off until later. We were lucky to see the sun shining on garden ponds and fountains. Here’s a favorite from this year’s tour —

Garden Pool with waterfall - Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll 2018

This one had everything: lotus flowers, koi, and electric-blue dragonflies who were determined not to sit still for their close-up.

 

Lotus Pool - Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll 2018

Here’s the lotus side of the pool.

Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll sign

Signs identify homes on the tour, indicating which part of the yard/garden is open.

Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll 2017 - frog planter

This frog planter is from a front garden on last year’s tour.

Side Garden - Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll  2017

Here’s a side garden from last year’s tour – even the narrow space between homes is beautifully planned and tended.

Back Garden - Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll  2017 and 2018

There’s a koi pond at the end of the walkway in this serene back yard garden.

Atlanta Midtown Open Garden Stroll 2017: we liked this house across the street from one of the open gardens..

Sometimes there are surprises along the way. This house was across the street from one of last year’s open gardens. I was fascinated by the colors, the roofline, the arched windows and door. 

I’m lost in admiration for these gardens and the people who design them, care for them, and let all us strangers tromp in to see their private wonderlands. But I have a new outlook on garden tours now that I no longer have a back yard of my own. I can still identify and appreciate plants. If I see something new and different I want to know what it is, but there’s been a shift in my regard. They seem more like garden art, and (at least for now) I’ve lost my possessive instinct. I no longer yearn to have them for my own to nurture. Maybe it’s just laziness, or maybe it’s facing reality that there’s only so much time available. After all, I always liked development work more than maintenance and let’s face it – weeding is maintenance.

Here’s more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Liquid

Do you have a favorite local garden tour?

The High Line, the BeltLine, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

The High Line: on this year’s trip to New York, we finally got to see it greening up for spring.

High Line Park NYC - from the Whitney Museum

From a balcony at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The High Line: a 1.45 mile long park in New York City, created on a stretch of elevated railway that was no longer used. 

High Line Park NYC - spring

Looking back toward the Whitney. I love it that pieces of the old railroad track are incorporated into the landscaping. 

High Line Park NYC - spring blooms

The daffodils were blooming. That’s a first for us, after the last two years when we traveled in March and were blessed with snow.

At home in Atlanta, we have the BeltLine, not elevated like the High Line, but destined to be much longer. It’s a proposed loop of around 22 miles of trails planned to connect 45 neighborhoods. Here’s Sam on a rainy day last fall. It was one of the days with lots of hurricane-engendered rain, and for a while we were the only ones out braving the storm.

Atlanta BeltLine - stormy day

The BeltLine already needs a new lane. It’s often mobbed. Between speeding bicycles and people with dogs on long leashes making trip-wires, it can be difficult to walk safely.

There’s lots of art along the way, and landscaping is coming along nicely. These are from a sunnier day —Atlanta BeltLine - morning glory Atlanta BeltLine - grasses

Turning disused rail lines into walking trails is not a new idea. Years (decades) ago, when the trains no longer came through my small hometown, there was a plan to remove the rails and ties and make the railroad line into a walking trail. I’d already moved away, so I’m not sure what became of that, but I think it would have been hard to keep the trails going. For example, they were fragmented by the removal of two of the three railroad bridges. Here’s one that stayed,  (I think it’s still there) —

NH railroad bridge

The bridge on the other end of town is a background in this next photo, a family history photo now — the girl wearing glasses is my mother at 16.

When I was growing up there, we walked on the railroad tracks, played on the bridges (gasp!) and along the way, picked berries and asparagus that grew beside the tracks. With all these railroad track paths, it sounds like I’ve spent my life walking railroad lines, doesn’t it?

Do you have a favorite rail line path?

More on the Manhattan High Line  Wow – I see you can adopt a plant. I’m considering… I’d want to see updates on mine though, and maybe visit it each year to check on progress and be allowed to give it a little compost treat.

More on the Atlanta BeltLine

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

Sunset Views, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set

A balcony facing west is prime viewing for sunsets. Lately I’ve been complaining about losing the view of the horizon, with so many new buildings going up. I love looking at the cranes for their interesting patterns and angles, but not the new construction. One thing though — more buildings mark their places and emphasize the changing position of the sunsets. In winter the sun sets as far south as the Biltmore tower on the left. 

Atlanta - March 6 pink sunset

A pink fluffy sunset – early March

Here it is along the way… but since I took this photo it’s already “traveled” north to set behind the tall building to the right…

March sunset - Atlanta

Next is about as close as I can get to a sunrise photo — a reflection of light from the east. Jet trails are always a bonus…

Atlanta - April 1 sunrise reflection

If you look really close you can see the tiny full moon (setting) just off center to the right. It played a little April fool joke and didn’t focus well for me in close-up.

As for rising and setting, a hard-drive crash last weekend made me realize how much “the sun rises and sets” on our devices, and how, without care and multiple back-up, all our projects could disappear in a bit explosion. I’m still restoring. It’s all there, just not as easy to put back as advertised.

— Have you backed up your files lately?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge Rise/Set

MoMA, New York, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

How can I pick one all-time favorite place? — I have too many. But, “a favorite location I return to again and again?” That I can do. March weather has been unkind in the Northeast, so we’re glad we planned our New York trip for April this year. Here’s some favorite viewing from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from last year’s trip…

At MOMA: Parviz Tanavoli  Iranian/Canadian The Prophet - 1964

The Prophet, 1964. Bronze on wood base. By Parviz Tanavoli, an Iranian/Canadian artist, born 1937.

MOMA: Ibrahim El-Salahi - The Mosque, 1964. By Ibrahim El-Salahi, Sudanese, Born 1930

The Mosque, 1964. Oil on canvas. By Ibrahim El-Salahi, a Sudanese artist, born 1930. In 1964, he received a Rockefeller grant to travel to New York.

MOMA: Faramarz Pilaram, Iranian (1937 - 1982) - Laminations (Les Lames) 1962, Gouache,metallic paint, and stamped ink on paper

Laminations (Les Lames) 1962. Gouache,metallic paint, and stamped ink on paper.  Faramarz Pilaram, an Iranian artist and proponent of Iranian Modernism (1937 – 1982)

What do these pieces have in common? MOMA posted the following beside each —

‘This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens would be denied entry into the United States according to recent presidential executive orders. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to the Museum, as they are to the United States.”

On a lighter note, moving outside, here’s what was blooming —

Crocus - Central Park March 2017

Crocus – Central Park March 2017

What’s your favorite place for travel?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

Coming up at MoMA

 

 

Dragon Con Cosplay, Time Travel to 2012, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

The Face in the Crowd challenge asks how we can mask our subjects yet still let their uniqueness show through. The idea is making use of shadows, angles, or silhouettes, but I’m taking “mask” to heart and going for cosplay.

My hoarder instincts were challenged yesterday when I thought I’d lost a photo library I’d migrated from an old laptop before its hard drive failed. Panic — I am downsizing stuff, not photo files! Now in celebration of lost-is-found, I’m choosing photos from the virtual hoard today. Set your DeLorean DMC-12s for 2012 — and here we are in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, at Dragon Con:

Dragon Con Cosplay 2012

An expression perhaps too intent to be covering a giggle — maybe gobbling up a raw (or living) snack?

My Little Ponies - Dragon Con Parade 2012.

On the bright side – My Little Ponies prance (happily, always: ponies are happy!) in the parade.

Dragon Con Parade 2012 - Bender from Futurama

Bender: Our favorite “lovable rascal” from Futurama

Steampunk witch Dragon Con 2012

Steampunk was just gathering, um, steam, back in 2012, when they’d recently got their own track and their own exhibition space. I was impressed by this witch, her goggles, and her mechanical broom. I have not yet been able to convince my vacuum to fly.

Periodic Table of the Elements - Radon - Dragon Con Parade 2012

The Science Track marches as the Periodic Table of the Elements — here we have RN, radon. Not in our houses, we hope.

Polonium Polo - Periodic Table of the Elements Dragon Con Parade 2012

Polonium Polo – Periodic Table of the Elements

Francium - Periodic Table of the Elements - Dragon Con Parade 2012

Francium – Periodic Table of the Elements. Striped shirt: check. Beret: check. Cigarette: check. Dog? Clearly I should have zoomed out…

Copper -Periodic Table of the Elements - Dragon Con 2012

And just in case someone gets out of line, we have CU: Copper

 

I love the absurdity and creativity of Cosplay. It’s always fun to see what new things people come up with.  I could see myself as Faceless Old Woman (from ‘Welcome to Night Vale’). What would you choose?

 

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

More on Dragon Con

Grief, Tree-hugging, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved

We love being close enough to walk to Piedmont Park, and on a walk last November, happened upon this sign, surrounded by trees that each had their own ribbon and “Hug Me” label attached —

Piedmont Park: Hug a Tree sign

Kate’s Club Memory Walk

The signs were up in preparation for an event the next day, sponsored by Kate’s Club, an organization that helps grieving children honor the memories of their loved ones who have died.

Hug Me Tree-sign

And who could resist a tree with a “Hug Me” sign?

We have absent loved ones, too, so we took the opportunity for some tree hugging. And yes, we also love trees, so there was some dual purpose hugging going on.

Treehugger in action - Piedmont Park

Treehugger in action – Piedmont Park – No trees were harmed in the making of this photograph.

There are other, perhaps less poignant, reasons for tree-hugging… when I left my house in Kansas City to move to Georgia, I had my own parting ceremony. It was January 1, the start of a new year, and I was leaving for a new city. I walked all around the yard in the snow, taking a circuitous path to hug each of the trees good bye.

Those trees were a large part of the reason I bought the house, and it was hard to leave them. I would have hugged the trees when I sold my house here too, but the frantic rush of last-minute packing left me with no time to spare.

Do you suppose the new home-owners would notice if I came sneaking over sometime and hugged their trees?

 

*tree hugger — A slang, sometimes derogatory, term for environmentalists; someone who loves the environment and believes it needs to be protected for the benefit of ourselves and generations to come.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Beloved

More on Kate’s Club; the Memory Walk is held in coordination with National Children’s Grief Awareness Day.

Home, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

“Home”- where is it?  The question has been on my mind since selling the house where I lived for a couple of decades, the house I worked so hard to downsize.  Two trips to the Midwest over the holidays, and a recent post by blogger Mabel Kwong made me think even more about the concept of home.

little bitty Kansas City

I call this “little bitty Kansas City”

When I fly into Kansas City I like to get a seat on the right side of the plane, so I can see downtown. It doesn’t look like much from this altitude, but Kansas City was my home for a couple of decades too. I loved it, and only moved because I had to, to keep my job. Here are some variations on the road home to Kansas City.

Missouri river at Kansas City

Bridges over the Missouri River, a gloomy day just before Thanksgiving.

Here’s the “Big Muddy” — the Missouri River. Yes, Kansas City is in the state of Missouri. If you’re one of the people who asks me if I’m going to Kansas for the holidays, I forgive you.

Missouri River north of Kansas City

I love looking for patterns in the fields.

The river is not always so well behaved. The year we moved was a flood year. In one of those boxes I’ll find in my storage bin (someday, maybe) I have a trove of aerial photos of the river swollen in flood.

Snow after Christmas- Kansas City 2017

By Christmas, there were patterns in the snow.

Flying into Kansas City

Here’s a photo from back in October when it was still green…the first week of October is my favorite time to be in the country. The leaves are just starting to turn, the light is slanting, and the air is never clearer than on an October day.

I’m one of the few people left on the planet who’s still enthusiastic about looking down from an airplane, no matter where I’m going. The Midwest may still be one of the places that seems like home to me, but from the air, the whole Earth is home.

Where is home for you?

More on the Big Muddy

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

 

Skylines, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

I’m from the midwest, so getting to see the Atlanta skyline every day now is a real treat for me. Why? Because now I can see the horizon, something I’ve missed in the years since moving here and living in a house beneath the tree canopy. But now the city is full of construction growth, and it looks like my chances for a horizon view could soon be gone. There’s still some space to the left of this view, but more new towers may be going up.

Atlanta forest of construction

If Atlanta is “a city in a forest”, right now it’s a forest of construction cranes, a big change from my now ex-house in the ‘burbs. This was a windy day, as you can see by the trees.

 Meanwhile, I’m having fun with the artifacts of growth…

Moon and red crane

The red crane is my favorite, so I keep trying to catch the moon in it

Then there’s waking up on a fogged-in white-out morning, with otherwise normal construction noises taking on an eerie quality, clacking and booming out of the nothing.

Atlanta white-out fog

‘The truth is out there’ and so are the people who are working.

The sunsets can be amazing…Sunset and Atlanta Biltmore

as can the street views. They’d stopped traffic for this next operation, and yes, I felt like I might not be parked in quite the most comfortable place.

Atlanta construction - street view

Next door to the new Whole Foods that’s going up on Spring Street.

Still, we’re small potatoes compared to “real” cities like New York. We don’t have that ultimate skyline view, our own iconic bridges, or the equivalent of the Chrysler Building.

Flying to New York March 2014

Flying in, March 2014. I always think of crystals growing upward.

Atlanta won’t be this dense anytime soon, so I may hold onto a little bit of skyline for a while yet.

What’s in your favorite view?

 

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Lofts, Stairs, Castleberry Hill, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

One of the things I love about lofts is that they can be so, um, lofty. That means they have stairs, and in many and varied forms. Here are a couple of my favorites from an October outing to the Castleberry Hill Loft tour.

Castleberry Hill loft stair

The ascending view, with a spiral staircase, colorful art, and a fabulous gallery wall above.

Here’s the descending view. I’m always leery of tumbling down, so I like to lurk about until Sam goes first, then I stop, catch my balance, and take a photo of him. 
Spiral stair, Castleberry Hill loft

Here’s another staircase, from another elegant and art-filled space.
Castleberry Hill - Loft stair ascending

 

… and the descending view.
Loft stair from top - Castleberry Hill tour

In transit between homes, we encountered this chicken, who had just crossed the road.

Chicken in the road; Castleberry Hill

Chicken in the road: no word on why he crossed it….

Do some lofts have a view from the top? Well yes. On this rooftop, Sam pointed out that we could see the building where he lives… here, it’s a tiny spire in the distance.

Rooftop view, Castleberry Hill loft tour

Now in an up-and-down-again, there-and-back-again, across-the-road-again way, the next photo is Sam’s view back toward Castleberry Hill. The stadium building (with the Mercedes sign, on the left in the photo above) is barely visible on the horizon in the lower right, below. It’s just above the red V-for-Varsity sign.

View south from midtown Atlanta

View south from midtown Atlanta

So we’re back again and ready for next year’s Castleberry Hill loft tour.

Do you have a favorite local homes tour?

 

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Ascend

And, some information on next year’s Castleberry Hill Loft Tour

Water, Swans, Loess Bluffs, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Funny, there’s one thing so many serene images have in common: water. Doesn’t everyone long for a lakeside/seaside/brookside view? Is it because we are 60% water, born swimming, and all little mermaids at heart? Perhaps it’s because that’s where we came from, historically speaking (you know, crawling out of the primordial soup and all)?

Here are some somewhat-serene swans at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri last week —

Swans - Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City MO

Swan silhouettes in the evening light.

Swans - Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City MO

Getting nibbley…

Swans - Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City MO

Swans - Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City MO

Still, sometimes there’s trouble in paradise.

Vacation trips are so much more enjoyable now that I don’t have to worry about my house. Water is not so peaceful and serene if it is leaking in the basement, for example.

Swans - Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City MO

I kept trying for ‘seven swans a-swimming’ but six is the best I could do.

Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City MO

Look closely at the sky. Your screen isn’t dirty – there are geese flying in for the evening.

But back to the primordial soup — I’ve always thought it would be fun to come up with a recipe, something to have for dinner when feeling primeval or dining in a single cell. Pasta in little amoeba shapes would be tasty, oh, and spiralized vegetables, and maybe some asparagus for its weird look.

What would you put in your primordial soup?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

More on the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (aka Squaw Creek)