Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Trees

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Usually, when I think of trees, I imagine tall, leafy giants with spreading boughs, but for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week I decided to go with some of the trees that we saw on our trip to Utah; tortured by the elements, these grotesque shapes seemed to be ideal subjects for  b/w photography.

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For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/08/24/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-trees-2/

Green Bay Roses

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On our way home from Mackinac Island a few weeks ago, we stopped off in Green Bay overnight and were delighted to find that our hotel was just a short drive from the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.

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I find it difficult to ignore the opportunity to take a stroll around a garden especially as gorgeous as the one in Green Bay, so even though we were somewhat weary travelers and the weather, though sunny, was rather on the hot side, we took advantage of our Chicago Botanic Garden membership which affords reciprocal privileges and paid the garden a visit.

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I love roses but never seem to have much luck with mine.  The ones in the Lux Foundation Rose Garden were just fabulous! I wish I could tell you the names but as usual I was too busy taking photos to make notes.

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The colors were dazzling and the scent of the roses took me back to my grandmother’s garden which, although nothing like the one at Green Bay was, to my young eyes, an earthly paradise.

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Every time I visit a place like this, I come home with a renewed determination to replant my rose bed and grow something really spectacular yet somehow it never works out. But I keep trying!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Feathers

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What perfect timing! Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week focuses on Feathers.  Yesterday I spent some time at Brookfield Zoo with Zeus the American Bald Eagle who, if I have the story right, was struck by a train whilst swooping down to grab a bite to eat and was rescued by one of the railway employees.  After undergoing a careful examination it was determined that Zeus would no longer be able to fend for himself in the wild and so he is now cared for at Brookfield.  He seemed to be in quite a playful mood while we were there.

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For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2016/08/23/cees-fun-foto-challenge-feathers/

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Rare

Ben’s choice of topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge on The Daily Post this week is Rare.  I rarely take pictures of anything that’s rare but I thought these might possibly qualify.  Over the years we have often found caterpillars and butterfly eggs in the garden and kept them safe in an old fish tank until they made their miraculous metamorphosis into beautiful swallowtail butterflies, after which, we released them back into the garden to repeat the cycle.  In all that time it was only on the very rare occasion that I was able to capture the moment of change on camera.

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For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge go to https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/rare/

 

Mackinac Sunrise

On a recent trip to Mackinac City, I managed to stagger, half-awake, from the hotel to the beach, without the benefit of a morning cup of tea, to take a few shots of the sunrise over Lake Huron.Mackinac sunrise 1

It was very peaceful.  Not even the seagulls were awake, although there were the occasional signs of life over by the ferry boats that were preparing for the thousands of tourists that flock over to Mackinac Island every day during the summer.

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A heron, that had been standing unseen just a few feet away from me, took wing and headed off in the direction of Bois Blanc Island……….

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…….and was immediately replaced by a group of hungry ducks who, seeing some poor unsuspecting mug with a camera standing on the lake shore, decided that there might be food in the offing.  Not likely! I obey the rules.  The signs posted in the hotel lobby distinctly said “Do Not Feed The Birds!”

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They paddled around for a while looking hopeful but once they realized that they weren’t going to get anything, they gave a few quacks that may have been rude remarks in ‘duck speak’ and made their way over the landing.

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After standing around waiting for what seemed like forever, I finally got to see the sun rise over Lake Huron heralding a new day in beautiful Michigan.

The Silent Stalker

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Up until recently I have always enjoyed what I considered to be reasonably good health. Admittedly, the blood clots in 2009 threw me for a loop. I wasn’t expecting that, but once I had recovered I felt pretty good so when this year’s annual check-up revealed high calcium levels in the blood it came as something of a surprise to learn, after several blood tests and scans, that I had a silent stalker, namely significant osteoporosis and something called hyperparathyroidism.  Go figure!

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I had no idea that all this was going on inside me.  I felt fine!  So it was a difficult call to make. Should I go ahead and have the recommended surgery or leave well alone.  For better or worse, after much soul-searching and weighing up the pros and cons, I decided to go ahead and have the op on Tuesday.

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Things apparently went very well.  The surgeon seemed pleased with the results and if I hadn’t had rather an unpleasant reaction to the anesthetic I probably would have gone home the same day.  As it was, I languished in hospital overnight and was sent home the next day.

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Naturally there have been some severe restrictions on my activities for the past couple of days and taking short walks around the garden has me itching to get back to work, pulling weeds and tidying things up. No! Must not!

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So what do you do when you can’t get your hands dirty, get down on your knees and get in amongst the flowers?  Why, you take pictures of them, of course!  Hopefully in another week or so I’ll be back to somewhat normal.

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The Nature Of Biltmore

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As I imagined, there was far more to the Biltmore Estate than just walking around a magnificent house, although that in itself was well worth the price of admission.  The nature of Biltmore extends to every corner of the 8,000-acre estate which includes some spectacular gardens.

Biltmore was landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s final major project and what an almighty challenge it must have been.  In 1895, the original property purchased by George W. Vanderbilt covered 125,000 acres, much of it over-farmed and with many of its trees already cut down, but with the help of Olmsted’s brilliant planning it was turned into a profitable, self-sustaining estate.

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It is interesting to note that the Biltmore Estate appears on the National Historic Landmark Register not because of the house, but because Carl A. Schenck established the first forestry education program in the U.S. here on the estate grounds in 1898.

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Vanderbilt had asked Olmsted to set aside 75 acres to be transformed into formal gardens, one of which is the Italian Garden that features three large water gardens and classical statuary.  Each pool contains water lilies, lotus and papyrus as well as other water plants.   You will see koi and goldfish swimming about among the lily pads and I also noticed a large number of tadpoles in various stages of development lounging around the edges of the center pool.

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The 4-acre Walled Garden features thousands of tulips in the spring and colorful mums at autumn time. Our visit came just after they had planted out all the summer annuals and as they hadn’t had time to become established, the beds were not quite as spectacular as they might have been, but the garden still looked beautiful nevertheless.

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Similarly, the rose garden had already seen the first flowers in full bloom and they were past their best but if you didn’t examine them too closely you could imagine how gorgeous the garden must have looked just a few weeks previously.  Timing is everything and it’s not always possible to visit these places at exactly the right moment.  Still, we were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed brilliant sunshine throughout our stay in Asheville.

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Water plays an important part at Biltmore. The French Broad River runs through the middle of the estate which also features a bass pond and waterfall.

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Traveling further from the house you come to the Farm, Antler Hill Village and The Winery, all of which are overlooked by The Inn on Biltmore Estate.

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As always seems to be the case, we had to cram as much sightseeing as we could into one day, but you could easily spend a few days at Biltmore in order to look at everything.