In Bloom – enjoying outdoors

My Year in Bloom

by Jeanine Renzoni

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The earliest of the daffodils – they come in early, mid and later spring blooming varieties.

My year in flowers starts with violas or daffodils. I’m not sure why one or the other wins the race to bloom first. Is it daylight or snow melt or soil heat? Both are my favorites because it means the season of plants is here! Finding cool blooms, even if I was the one who originally planted them is always fun.

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Violas or Johnny Jump Ups … these seeded themselves for very early blooms last year. This year this bed was covered so only random violas volunteered.

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Tulip in rear, very large dandelion in foreground.

Tulips show their heavy heads and blatant color. Bright in the cool spring days and fading as the sun grows stronger. Turning pale and weak as everything else thrives. Competing with supposedly lesser flowers … gotta be impressed with those yellow bursts of persistence.

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Apple tree blossoms, our other trees bloom with only white flowers. Camera used for all photos  Canon PowerShot A710

Then comes the fruit tree blooms – apple, cherry, plum and pear, dancing the dance with hard frosty chance.

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Crab apple planted 7 years ago.

And the graduation ceremony flowers (or at least they used to be because they were free) lilacs, crab apple, lilies of the valley, violets and bridal wreath.

And now, after the petals have fallen from the trees come the avalanche of early June blooms here in northern Wisconsin. Iris in all sizes.

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Iris with two blooms, one above the other. The top one is the oldest, they open top down.

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Korean lilac, the buds are dark pink/purple and then as they open and age they get lighter and lighter in color.

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Clematis vine with first bloom of the season.

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Wild phlox – pale purple with some darker purple. They have a lovely scent. The perennial garden phlox blooms later in the summer.

Wild phlox – fragrant and prone to inhabit ditch sides, and the earliest day lilies (mine are yellow). Korean lilac, blooming later than the traditional lilac and having a sharper scent. Dianthus – the only hardy carnation-type flower that can handle our winters so far, clematis, Siberian Iris and honeysuckle vine – which the hummingbirds love.

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Siberian iris with variegated leaves. It has smaller flowers but looks nicer longer.

Honeysuckle vine blooms throughout the summer in waves. Bee and hummingbird magnet.

Honeysuckle vine blooms throughout the summer in waves. Bee and hummingbird magnet.

Chives! I’ve got lots of those. Several years ago it seemed like a good idea to propagate them and then they propagated themselves. I have a hard time pulling them out because I like the flowers and they are so healthy. I do use them in salads, but I haven’t seen benefit in drying them as their flavor declines so much.flowersJune 011flowersJune 002 Today the pink peonies on the south side of the house started opening up. The bumble bees are occupying them at the moment. They are pretty, but don’t smell very good. The white peonies and the dark burgundy ones smell much better, but are later to open.

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Elderberry has small white flowers and later small berries.

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Buttercups along the fence line. Yesterday I mowed these down as they are toxic to horses, but the horses avoid them anyway.

There are some other flowers that have come and gone. The wild ones are mostly smaller, but often have great scent or sometimes not.

And then there are cool looking seed pods.Kendra elderberrybuttercups 012

 Do you have floral favorites this time of year?

Posted in change of seasons, gardening, Life, outdoors, photography, Wester Ave., Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hay Field, robins and horses

It’s Friday afternoon, a sunny beautiful day beginning Memorial weekend. I walked out my backdoor and thought the horses looked stunning in front of the neighbor’s hay-field, which is (unlucky for him) blooming in mustard flowers.

Photo taken from ground level and cropped to remove some extraneous foreground.

Photo taken from ground level and cropped to remove some extraneous foreground.

I took some photos from the ground level feeling grumpy about the fencing and the shrubs and the raised garden beds wanting to get in my way.

Photo taken from 10 feet up (deck).

Photo taken from ground level, more telephoto.

So I went up on the deck. Which raised my angle, but maybe not enough to make a significant difference. Except the foreground miscellaneous shrubbery was no longer a problem. Then upon looking at my screen I felt the span of the field was really the most interesting part of the scene.

Same 10 foot up view, landscape setting, no telephoto and cropped to highlight the spread of the field.

Same 10 foot up view, landscape setting, no telephoto and cropped to highlight the spread of the field.

A very pastoral scene, so quiet (except for the robins who feel I am too close to their nest and are making a major racket). So I went to investigate and found out the babies were leaving the nest. Only one remained and as it saw me looking at it, decided it was time to take flight.

Fledgling decided, despite days and days of me walking under this same spot, now is the time to abandon the nest..

Fledgling decided, despite days and days of me walking under this same spot by the dog kennels, now is the time to abandon the nest..

First it clambered up and out and perched between a support and the metal roof.

First it clambered up and out and perched between a support and the metal roof.

Then making the decision it wasn't a good enough location...

Then making the decision it wasn’t a good enough spot…

Out onto the horn to launch, briefly flying with parental encouragement and landing in the raspberry patch to rest.

Out onto the horn to launch, briefly flying with parental encouragement or maybe threats and landing in the raspberry patch to rest. Wow, caught the takeoff.

Now to help out, at least temporarily, a happy ending. I will keep the dogs in for several hours to give the fledglings a chance to find better spots to perch, or somewhere I don’t see their demise. And hope whatever eats them is actually hungry.

And with that … have a great Memorial Day weekend.

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Finding crows

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Watercolor  11 X15 Strathmore 140lb cold press paper, vision of a crow family.

As a teenager I looked early every spring to see if I could find a crow’s nest. My intent was to climb up and steal one of their babies. I wanted a crow for a pet. My brother and I scouted the woods. Crows nest very high. Very high.

I had raised a pigeon and taught her quite a few things. She even went to school with me one day. She liked riding on top of cars as they left the school grounds where we lived. Then she stayed with my grandmother when we went somewhere for an extended period and grandmother apparently released her to her resident flock of barn pigeons. Back to the wild for Freedom. I grew taller and the next time we saw her she landed on my younger brother’s shoulder instead of mine and he was surprised. Scared her. She never came down to us again, despite frequent attempts to cajole her. She’d just look, pace and coo.

I never found a crow’s nest that was anywhere near accessible. Probably lucky me. One year we did find an easily looked at blue jay’s nest with three eggs in a red pine tree, however they are a protected species. It’s changed since back then, crows now are also protected by the migratory birds law. Every once in a while, I still think longingly of crows especially when the local gathering gets rowdy. Such smart, irritating and funny birds.

 

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Choices

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My watercolor art – I thought I’d create a haiku explanation. It seems that the same event, viewed at the same time creates different emotions in all of us. Only time reveals the most correct response, which is then boggled by differing memories.

For you non-horse body language viewers: the red horse wants to swirl and run, the brown/white horse is willing to investigate … but if the red horse runs the other horse will go with it.

Interesting isn’t it?

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Spring Flowers Muck Below

Daffodilscrowrobbinwatercolor 003Here today in Wisconsin sunshine, above freezing and the dusting of snow we had this week is all gone (except for in deep shadows). Yesterday I was in the winter horse paddock with my high yellow boots on, adding fence. Scout, the lover of food, is determined to get onto pasture. I would love to oblige him, but the pasture is way too wet and would be quickly destroyed by enthused horse hooves.

We had amazing amounts of frost heave this year. Amazing, the ground rising a foot or even more in some trafficked areas. I’m not sure why certain spots heave so much. The ground under my horse trailer came up to nearly touch the underside of the trailer while the wheels stayed down. Two posts supporting our deck rose right through the deck, the others stayed in place. The horse winter area, insulated in many spots by horse manure, is a result of frost heave, thawing, and repeated precipitation … yucky.

So yesterday, in the muck, I became stuck. Really stuck. Thought I was going to take a dive or at least lose my boots – which would be very bad. You know the scene where Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) falls in the pig pen? I totally understand the horror of it. Sham (my old Arabian) came to the rescue and stood there patiently as I used him as a support. Each footfall became a question, “Will I be able to pick that foot up again including the boot?” Suction unreal. I got one foot onto solid ground, holding onto Sham, I still couldn’t get the other foot free. Totally crazy. No wonder Cola hesitates to come out of the run-in shed and then just leaps through to the feeding area.

So I let Sham, my anti-mud hero, have some time on pasture while I caught Scout and escorted him back into the, lets face it, awful muddy area. I’m hoping we’ll have several days of warm, ground drying weather soon. At least they have several good spots to be on and the run in shed is good, but they’re using it as a bathroom — hmm. Nothing to do now but hope for Mother Nature’s bounty.

Meanwhile the daffodils are blooming. Those are tough flowers. Come snow, sleet or frozen nights they still look cheery. I picked these for my husband’s birthday and then photo’d them this morning in a sunny window. Hope you are somewhere the ground isn’t clay infused and mucky.

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Ice Creatures

We’re back to cold in Wisconsin – 7 degrees overnight and a high that barely skirts the 20s. Our brief springlike weather has blown over. But there is some melting, dripping, ice forming in the bright sunlight and that’s where the creatures are formed.

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Decorated ice photo – Dragonfly aka Mosquito Dragon photo Jeanine Renzoni

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Ice creature in the honeysuckle vine. Photo Jeanine Renzoni

Dragonfly, serpent gleam;

Delicate bridge, to in between;

Icy drips, aching cold;

Sunlight streams, never old.

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Photo edited to intensify ice frog … – Jeanine Renzoni

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Ice frog in the honeysuckle vine – photo Jeanine Renzoni

Sagging amid the honeysuckle vines,

Amphibian style so reclines,

Frozen in this awkward pose,

When will spring come, no one knows.

 

 

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Right to health? Health and interventions are not the same.

Right to health, what? What do you mean by right to health? Right to medical intervention is not the same as health, in fact it’s far from it. Access to preventative screenings is several steps closer to giving people the information they might need to promote their health – assuming the screening is accurate and not prone to false negatives or positives. In the ideal setting the intervention would be early enough that it was minor and effective.

Healthy people generally have the least contact with the medical field unless you are part of the medical field (as I was). So I’ve had lots of contact, just not many interventions.

The current system rewards interventions with payment and interventions breed more interventions. Iatrogenic mortality (one source) is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. (medications, surgeries and hospital based infections are often fatal). Basically, if the system drives illness-based-wealth, we will get more illness. Because there is money in it, lots of money, goodwill and power. Why else would churches be a main player in hospital ownership? Hm, religion is a player on the field.

Non-healthcare people generally seem to believe the medications they take are keeping them well. Most medications only control the symptoms of being unwell, they do not cure the underlying disease or chronically poor behaviors promoting the disease.

The great exceptions are antibiotics, which are rapidly being undermined by stupid use (meat animal growth enhancement and as placebos for viruses) driving evolutionary changes in bacteria. And vaccinations, which are a proven prevention strategy, being undermined by misinformation and fear (and inadequate understanding of the risks of the diseases being prevented).

One of the reasons surgeons are the rock stars of the medical profession is because with a scalpel they can cure disease (sometimes).

Let’s take for example the approach to an ever increasing chronic problem overweight/obesity. The answer, the weight loss industry – diets and surgery.

As a dietitian I know something about it although, because I’m an idealist, I never partook of its riches – it seemed wrong to me. The best predictor of unintended weight gain is going on a weight loss diet. The efforts to find one main cause for the obesity and subsequent diabetes epidemic have not really uncovered ‘a’ culprit, but the ‘best predictor of unintended weight gain is dieting.’

If you never, never were restricted, shamed, never went on that first diet…and next and next it is exceedingly likely that you would weigh much less now. It is more likely that you would have maintained the internal system for hunger and satiety cues that those without weight issues use to maintain their body weight. You wouldn’t be charmed by recipes or be entranced by foodie shows or have undeniable need to eat when not hungry. You wouldn’t be a prime candidate for adult-onset diabetes.

However if I wanted to partake and make money off weight loss systems I would use some modified diet, controlled portions, an external system. Because then you would continue to need my services ($) after great initial success and praise, then, oh darn you failed, lost your focus, lacked willpower, but some people succeed and you could be like them! See they’re famous on TV.

Or I would get aligned with a weight loss surgical team and do counseling about how to deal with minimal stomach volume. Lots of clients, effective surgery (people definitely lose weight following surgery) and follow up issues usually related to absorption problems or eating through – regaining and need for another surgical intervention. Nice economic system. Justifiable because of the serious health problems that come along with obesity.

If I wanted you to be able to really become free of this chronic problem I would have to help you see it in a completely different way and you would have to resist the multiple forces driving you towards dieting, food policing, scales, portion controls, fast change, elective surgery and whatever newest and greatest extreme exercise craze. And nutrition and exercise would be of the gentle long-haul quality, something you could and wanted to continue forever without will power. You would pay attention to your own body, how it reacts – you would be aware. Sounds spiritual, it is.

Makes you think – maybe. But we don’t want to have to change our behaviors, they are ours and we’re used to them. So what if they are making us sick, making us feel sick, making us less than happy.

It is the government’s responsibility to make the decisions that will benefit the whole country. Decisions like ensuring clean air, clean water, untainted food sources, fairness in economic systems and security in those systems. Perhaps being the police force for the world is part of that, probably not. It is also important to prevent endemics of diseases that would threaten the population and the population’s ability to produce healthy food and a reasonable living, which ties into education. The government which we deride, is us. We vote, we buy, we accept, we want, we demand, we blame and we ignore our responsibility to think choices all the way through.

The financial system is a completely made-up, arbitrary system. Its consistency important only because it stands for other things. Its regulation is very important because of that factor. Money means nothing if there is no health, no clean water, no clean air, no untainted food, no way for the majority to have security, except of course those with the most will be able to garner the last of the supplies and sway the ones who also want the power of money.

Having people driven into insolvency, poverty and death instead of being a productive member of society is tragic. Having subsidies, benefits, cheap loans for companies who will significantly damage the air quality, water quality, food quality, devalue employees, is idiotic, and amazingly short sighted; except if your over-riding purpose is to quickly accumulate money – which is most corporations primary goal.

Continuing to support a system that benefits from illness is dumb. Continuing to promote systems that encourage the formation of morbid chronic diseases is also less than brilliant.

Yes we should have freedom to choose with informed choice, but then we also get to have the results of those choices and how educated are we in our choices? Are the repeated pieces of marketing doing all the education? Are students even taught how to evaluate the risks vs the benefits of a health care protocol? How many men get treated for prostate cancer, when the statistics show that 49 will get the treatment and only one will benefit by not dying from that cancer. The other 48 get the side-effects and no life saving, but you don’t know it, you might be the one who is saved. Would you be tough enough to say no if your doctor told you of your cancer and what he could do to possibly save you?

We have tried this current system of private insurance health care for a while now and the results? Well U.S. does not have statistics that support continuing as we have been. But the players have a lot of money on the field and it is better for them financially if things continue and people already in ‘disease’ are afraid.

Afraid of the things they might lose, afraid they won’t be saved, afraid in a culture that keeps death at arm’s length and wants to hide from the declines of aging. Afraid medications won’t be there, in denial that sick old people often just want it all to end, denial about the level of mental illness in the population…  Do you think fear and denial make a strong country or are they more likely to set up ill-thought-out panic? Scare mongering seems amazingly blatant lately.

And everyone in the system can’t see a way out of the system, that’s the way it is with systems, they overtake ones whole perspective. They blind us to the potential benefits of other ways.

But yes, I call for choice in interventions. However I think there needs to be proof of homework, proof of viable research for the choice being made. Where is the risk/benefit ratio? How likely is this intervention to actually produce a healthy recovery. Would a surgeon from another medical center agree to have it done to him?

Choice based on proof of quality of life after intervention and understanding of the likelihood of little benefit and a myriad of unpleasant side-effects.

 

 

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Birth of Night

SunstJan302015 003aFast silent fire

Pervade, absorb, adore,

The sun so beloved,

Gleams down no more.

Dark clouds summit,

Pose with god-like style,

Yes we fear darkness,

But end of light beguiles…

I was driving west on highway 64 today as the sun set, turning the sky an amazing orange hue, so I pulled over letting traffic whoosh on by and took some photos out my car window. I liked the ceiling of clouds and the fact I could see the globe of the sun through the trees. Darkness is coming later and later here in northern Wisconsin, although tonight is forecast as another cold one.  — J. Renzoni

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Learning mastery

Snowpinesdec272014 005My asking has celestial life in the shadowy garden still.

I once read it took at least 10,000 hours or maybe a lifetime to become a master of whatever you’re trying to master. It’s not possible at 10 minutes or even 20 minutes per day because you won’t live long enough.  At 4 hours per day, 2500 days.

Expertise is valuable, even though we live in a confusing time where access to information ranks almost the same as having mastery.

As I work towards mastery in my garden of interests, I find that my sporadic progress, and randomly focused gathering of tools and ideas, has suddenly allowed me to do lots of new things – which I couldn’t do before. I was learning things, that had limited use in and of themselves, when internalized and congealed, a whole new range of options magically appeared. I have graduated so connections light up. However, now there are new problems, new things become important, become visible and necessary.

Lethargic progress finds precious flame, enlightened.

When I’m learning from (talking to or reading or looking at videos of) someone, it’s obvious if they are a level above me, because they see instantly or do instantly what takes me work or time or both to figure out. The newly accomplished are good people to learn from, because they were recently where I am now, they remember the struggle. What they are doing is easy for me to make sense of (it’s not that much harder, even though I can’t do it yet, than what I can already do).

Early success fuels confidence, until…

Learning from someone many levels up is a different matter. They are barely understandable, incomprehensible, in fact, they speak a new language. It’s hard to think I would ever know or be able to do what they do. Trying to learn from them is good (barring the discouragement of being so far below), but the things they want to teach seem philosophical, not practical, and it’s hard to see how they’ll help.

Hard to see until the philosophy is what enables new jumps.

A master of ______ (fill in the blank) is speaking a different language. Even if the words are comprehensible the meanings are more nuanced, more specialized. They may seem less impressive than someone who is just several steps up, because most of what they’re thinking about and referring to is totally invisible to me.  So invisible it doesn’t even register. They usually are aiming for understandable, as opposed to trying to impress. They have gone beyond the complexity, to refined, deep knowledge and ability. I might think I can follow them because of the really entertaining stories they told. Any one of these stories, if I pay enough thoughtful attention to it, can have adequate insight to get me into my next phase of mastery. If they are recorded, I watch them many times with space and learning in between.

It’s always a head shaking surprise – why didn’t I catch that before?

What are you trying to master? Is there something that made you step up? Something invisible that became suddenly visible?

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On Beer and Mice

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Rodent sewer lungs,

Mouse track spyro gyro,

Death in a beer,

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First draft.

Leave a beer bottle open in the workshop and irresponsible vermin take a bath in it. It was easier getting in than getting out.

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Have you discovered a dead mouse in a place you’d rather not think of them in?

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