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Daffy-nitions: disheveled

An unhappy windblown cardinal is complaining.

Disheveled: untidy, disordered

“What a bad hair day it’s been. I look awfully disheveled, and I’m beginning to feel desperate.  I’ve combed and combed, and it just won’t cooperate! Maybe I need a styling.”

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I can certainly relate to what this cardinal must have been feeling. As the expression says, “Been there; Done that!” What about you? Have you been there too?

Carolyn aka Skip

Karen's beautiful smile represents  the spirit of Relay for Life.

Walking in the “Relay for Life”

Today was the annual Relay for Life event in Western Lake County. A group from our church, calling themselves Team B.A.R.B., has been a presence at Relay for 10 years in honor of their friend Barb who lost her battle to cancer before she was 50 years old. The goal of the many teams who participate in Relay is to raise money for cancer research, and today the “track” at North High School was crowded with people, young and old, eager to do their part in the fight to eradicate the scourge of cancer.

After the formal opening events, a group of cancer survivors took to the track for the first lap, known as the “survivor’s lap.” Following that first honorary lap, everyone is invited to step out onto the track and take their turn walking laps. Relay lasts 12 hours, from noon until midnight, and someone from each team is required to be walking the track at all times. A special luminaria lighting event when dusk falls recognizes those in whose honor the luminarias were purchased, and funds from those purchases go to cancer research. Relay for Life is a battle against cancer, and like any battle, the intent is to fight a good fight and eventually to win. However, there is a fun side to Relay also, with games, contests, costumes, food, entertainment, and other festivities. It is a family event for children of all ages. Take a look at the picture gallery to see what I mean:

Survivors' lap

Survivors’ lap

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Survivors’ lap

That’s Relay here in western Lake County, Ohio. If there is a Relay event in your community, I hope you will find a way to support it, so we can win the battle against cancer.

Thanks for walking the track (instead of the trail) with me today!
Carolyn aka Skip

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Friday Faces: The ” face” inside the cow costume

Yesterday on my walk in the Arboretum, I was so focused (pun intended) on using my new monopod that I passed up two really good opportunities to add someone to my Friday Face gallery. On the way home from the Arboretum, I briefly berated myself for my forgetfulness, but it was too late to go back and recapture the moments I missed. That’s the thing with Friday Faces. You want to get them when the “getting is good,” as the expression says, because you may see that particular person again, but you, equally well, may not.

So today I was determined to capture a new stranger for my Friday Face, even if I was a day late. (Remember, the rule says to post a “Face” on Friday, but rules can be broken). So don’t cry over spilt milk, or forgotten Faces, just find one and post it on Saturday or Sunday. There is no penalty for not posting it on Friday. And today I definitely found a strange face for my Friday Face.

Chick-Fil-A is a popular restaurant here in northeast Ohio, serving, as you would expect, chicken. (They also serve excellent chocolate milkshakes, but that’s just a side note). The restaurant chain is very community-minded and, with a delightfully counter-cultural attitude, refuses to open their doors on Sundays. When I spotted the Chick-Fil-A cow at the Relay for Life event where they were one of the sponsors, I said to myself, “There’s your Friday Face.” The cow was happy to pose, actually quite professional about it, and snap! I had my Friday Face.

Carolyn aka Skip

Lily Pond

If you took a photowalk with me today…

…you could have given me a break by carrying my monopod part of the time. Just kidding really, but I wouldn’t have turned you down if you had offered because carrying it is a new discipline for me…  and discipline is possibly the best way to describe it because I’m not yet accustomed to carrying (or using) this new piece of equipment. Put simply, it doesn’t feel natural yet. I will have to discipline myself to use it regularly.

Would I fall in love with this new addition to my photography kit?I bought this latest addition to my camera kit a couple of months (or so) ago, but then had to order a special plate to screw into the base of the camera to mount (wrong word maybe) both my camera strap and my monopod at the same time. It took 6-8 weeks, but the plate ($21 from Dodd Camera store) finally arrived. So off I went, out the door of Dodd Camera and directly to Holden Arboretum to give it a tryout. Was I going to fall in love with it? Umm, I had my doubts because it is a bit awkward to handle. However, after walking through the butterfly garden, down the trail to Blueberry Pond and returning by way of Lotus Pond, I could see at least three advantages:

  1. It steadied my camera (and me too, and that was a primary reason for investing in it.
  2. It helped me frame my pictures. I don’t know how, but it just felt better.
  3. It made me feel like a “real” photographer, not professional of course, but it made me consider each picture more seriously, if you know what I mean.

Conclusion: For the first time out, the “stick” and I were on pretty good terms. Although I’m not feeling the love yet, I’m planning to keep it! Now take a look at some of the sights you would have seen in the Arboretum today. What do you think…did the monopod do a good job?

Thanks for walking the trail with me today (even if you didn’t carry the monopod).

Carolyn aka Skip

The blue dasher dragonflies were dashing around everywhere!

Dragonflies, damselflies, and birds, oh my!

Today I took a new trail, well, actually not new to me, but new to some of you. North Chagrin Reservation in Cuyahoga County is a Cleveland Metropark that borders our community. Lots of trails, good hiking, picnic grounds, and much more make it a popular park. Today, a weekday, there were many people walking, a few running, some with children, and still others, like me, carrying cameras and looking for birds, dragonflies, and such. I was hoping to come home with a picture of a great blue heron and maybe even a green heron. Seeing the GBH wasn’t inconceivable. There is at least one that fishes regularly in the marsh. Unfortunately, today he just did a flyover, landed briefly in the top of a very tall tree, beyond the reach of my lens, and then flew out of sight.

A dragonfly can spend up to several years underwater until it is strong enough to surface, shed its skin and evolve into this beautiful creature. Then it flies free among us but only for a very brief period of up to two months before it dies (Author ~Ruth O’Neill).So no herons today, blue or green. And no barn swallows. They used to be abundant and very easy to photograph, but they must have moved to a new neighborhood. Sad, that’s what I think it is because they were such fun to photograph.

As I wandered around to see what was available for a photo opp, I ran into Roz. I mentioned her in a post two weeks ago when she was kind enough to pose for my Friday photo and again last week when she told me where I could find bobolinks. Today Roz was looking for dragons and damsels. Now I know next to nothing about dragonflies and less about damsels, so I tagged along with Roz for awhile, thinking I might learn something, and that’s how I happen to have more dragonflies than birds to share with you today. Don’t expect me to tell you what the different ones are, however, because I’m not on a first name basis with any of them. They are all just dragonflies to me. Getting sharp pictures is a challenge because they are tiny and fast moving, but I had fun trying.

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

PS: Thanks to my friend Roz for helping to ID most of the dragons and damsels.
PS 2: Click on any picture below to scroll through the gallery and make or read comments on individual pictures. Thanks for taking the time to look!

My photo of the week

Purple flower and a weathered bench

Purple flower and a weathered bench

Walking along the trail in the arboretum for the first time in months, I came upon this weathered bench. I thought about sitting down to enjoy the view, but when I noticed the pretty purple flower, growing up from behind the bench, I decided instead to take a picture. I have no idea what the flower is, but I loved the color, its delicate lace-like effect, and the contrast with the lichens on the weathered bench.

If anyone can identify the flower, please let me know in the comments. This is my first post on Clare and Dean’s Photo of the Week weekly feature. Click here to see what they posted from New South Wales this week.

Thanks for checking out my photo of the week.
Carolyn aka Skip

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Bobolinks, Savannah sparrows, Friday Faces, and more!

Last week, two friends, one a bird watcher and the other a photographer, suggested that I should visit a park in a neighboring county where there is an over-abundance of bobolinks (if such a thing is possible). Because bobolinks are scarce non-existent in my local park, and I trust both of these women to give good advice, I took off yesterday in search of the bobolinks. I found them without any trouble. All I did was park the car, climb out,  head up the grassy hillside pictured above, and there they were. My faith in the advice of my friends had not been misplaced. Take a look at the gallery:


The grass at the bottom of the hill has been mowed, but farther up the hillside, the grass on both sides of the path I was following was knee high and taller. And that’s where the birds were. Some were nesting down in the grass and flew out as I passed by. Others circled and swooped overhead, landing on the tall stalks of grass. I mentally coaxed the bobolinks to land on the stalks of grass that were right in front of me, closer to the trail. Unfortunately, the stalks they chose were usually beyond the reach of my lens, so I found myself mentally coaxing them to land on stalks a bit closer to the path. “How about that stalk there, the one right in front of me?” Hoping they would “hear” me and heed my request, I stood still and silently stared at the stalk of grass. Of course they never heard and certainly didn’t heed, so most of my pictures are heavily cropped. Although I came home with pictures that I deem “good enough,” I also came home with a few additions to my camera kit “wish list,” most notably a longer, faster, sharper lens!

Nevertheless, it was a great experience. Maybe I’ll rent a bigger lens and return someday. That might be a lot of fun. As I followed a winding path downhill to my car, I was thankful for friends who are willing to share information about the best places for birding. In case you’re wondering why I mentioned Friday Faces in the title of this post, it’s because I wasn’t the only photographer on the hillside yesterday. Craig was there also with his camera (that incidentally had a longer lens than mine). Because it was Friday, and I always try to add a photo of a stranger to my Friday Faces gallery, I asked if he would mind posing for a photo opp. However I’ve been a little wordy tonight, and this post is already long enough. I’m going to stop now and make a separate post for Friday Faces here where you can see Craig and read about his photo opp.

Thanks for joining me on this new trail today. It’s good to share my discovery with you.

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Friday Faces: Craig

Yesterday I walked a new trail in search of bobolinks, a bird rarely, if ever, seen in my neighborhood park. I found them, but I also found much more, including a new “Face” for my Friday Faces feature that I wrote about here.  I have been collecting Friday Faces, off and on, since December 2013, and it has been an enriching experience. I have met some interesting people, and now I can count Craig as one of them.

As I stood on the grassy hillside, hoping a bobolink would land nearby, I saw a man with a camera climbing up the hill. When he reached me, I asked if he came to this park often, and he replied, “No, it’s my first time here,” and went on to explain that he had spent the morning photographing at another location. Lunch time was approaching, and he decided some ice cream would taste pretty good, so he packed up his camera and headed for the ice cream store in Chagrin Falls. Our most migratory blackbird, the Bobolink makes a round-trip voyage of up to 9000 miles between northern North America and its wintering grounds in the pampas regions of Argentina and Brazil (Birds of Ohio). As he was driving past this little village park, a bobolink flew in front of his car and, momentarily at least, took his mind off ice cream. Swinging his car around, he pulled into the parking lot, and headed up the hill where he encountered me and my request for a “Friday Face” photo opp.

After a brief photo shoot, we both continued to wander the hillside, looking for bobolinks. I hope that Craig was successful and went home with the pictures he wanted on his memory card. I know I did. Thanks, Craig. You pointed out a Savannah sparrow, the first I have ever photographed in my 15 years walking the trails, believe it or not, and you were a good sport about the photo shoot. I’m glad that I met you on the hillside yesterday.

Notes:

  1. You can read more about the search for bobolinks here.
  2. Look on my SmugMug site if you want to see all of my Friday Faces.

Thanks for joining me “on the trail” today.
Carolyn aka Skip

Purple flower and a weathered bench

On a sunny Thursday morning…

…I went for a photowalk in the Holden Arboretum, one of my favorite places to spend time with (or without) my camera. My chosen destination was the butterfly garden, but once there, I saw very few  butterflies. There was a hummingbird flitting around in the colorful flowers, but he wouldn’t sit for a photo opp, if you can imagine that! However, there were plenty of wonderful things to see and photograph, so despite the scarcity of butterflies, I still came home with some special images to present the beauty of the Arboretum (Remember to click on a picture to scroll through the gallery).

I’m glad you joined me for my sunny walk in the Arboretum today. It makes me feel good to be able to share the beauty with you.

Carolyn aka Skip

Power towers in the meadow

Weekly photo feature

Hello friends. Today’s post is the inaugural post of “Skips’s Weekly Photo Gallery.” With just a few words to summarize the week, I am posting my favorite images. If you enjoy the pictures and like the idea of a weekly summary/gallery, I hope you will let me know, and if you can think of a catchy title for the weekly photo feature, please leave it in the comments at the end of the post.

ABOUT THE WEEK of JUNE 21-28, 2015…

It was cool and rainy…really rainy, resulting in soggy everything. There was one significant thunderstorm, but mostly just rain and more rain. >:( I’ve included some pictures of the high water that will show those who live in dry climates what “soggy everything” looks like. The upside of it is the really green grass that makes my park even more beautiful.  The highlight of my week photographically was my first opportunity to see and post pictures of a red-eyed vireo. I have just updated that post with a few better pictures of the red-eyed wonder. Take a look if you would like to see her again. Near the vireo’s nest is a skinny dead tree where a house wren has nested in recent years. Since the arrival of the-spring-that-never-was, I have been keeping my eye on that tree, and the wren finally showed up! She posed for pictures, so s/he is featured in this week’s gallery. (Yay!).  That’s enough talking; it’s time for the pictures. I hope you enjoy them (Don’t forget to click on the first one to scroll through the gallery).

That’s it for this week. I’m going to stop now. If you’ve stayed with me through all these pictures, you’re likely thinking, “It’s about time!” Thanks for putting on your virtual walking shoes and joining me for this trek along the trail in Chagrin River Park.

Carolyn aka Skip

Here she is: The red-eyed vireo

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In yesterday’s blog post about Friday Faces I mentioned that I saw my very first red-eyed vireo while walking on the trail through the bog. Another blogger commented that s/he had never seen a vireo, so, at that blogger’s request, here it is: momma vireo sitting on her nest. It’s not a great picture (not even a very good one), because she was hidden away among lots of leafy green branches. Sunlight filtering through the leaves gave it a green cast, but given the difficulties, I am happy to have a picture of this pretty little bird.

For the past four weeks I have been busy with Blogging 101, an online course for bloggers who want to improve their blog. With a new blogging assignment every day, there hasn’t been much time to go on my usual photowalks, so I have actually taken only a few pictures during these weeks. Hopefully normal photowalking will resume next week…if it stops raining and we aren’t flooded out.

UPDATE ON THE VIREO

Before the rain finally stopped yesterday (Sunday), I went back to the vireo’s nest to see if I could capture a few more/better pictures. I’m going to include them in my weekly photo update (my new blog feature starting today), but I thought this sweet little bird deserved a spotlight all her own. Here are a few new pictures of her at the nest: (Click on the first picture to scroll through the gallery).

I was excited to get a second chance to show you her red eye.
Pretty neat, isn’t it?

See you soon if the rain stays away!

Carolyn aka Skip

Friday Faces: A weekly photo feature

Friday Faces: Roz

Friday Faces: Roz

Friday Faces is a weekly photo feature that I started in 2013. Because of the extremely cold and icy weather this past winter and early spring, I temporarily retired the feature, which I had been posting on my other blog. This summer seems like a good time to bring it out of retirement, so today I went for a photowalk in the park, and “captured” a Friday Face for this week. Today’s Friday Face is Roz, a fellow photographer I occasionally (although not regularly) encounter in the park. Roz has the same camera I have, a Nikon D7100, although with a better (longer) lens than mine. She is dedicated to producing excellent bird photographs, and spends many hours on the trail in one park or another in search of her quarry.

When I ran into Roz today, she was kind enough to show me the nest of a red-eyed vireo that she recently discovered.  If you are a bird photographer, you know how elusive the little critters can be when summer arrives and the trees are in full leaf.  We’re not talking about  eagles here, we’re talking about warblers and other small birds. If you are lucky, you will spot the bird flying into its nest, and that’s what happened with the red-eyed vireo. It’s tiny; it’s sweet; and it can be practically invisible when it sits on the nest. I never would have spotted it on my own, but, thanks to Roz, I got my first red-eyed vireo photo today.

Want to give Friday Faces a try? Here are the rules. If you enjoy photographing people, or perhaps would like to stretch your wings :P, give Friday Faces a try. There are just a few rules for this photo feature, which I will list below, but rules are meant to be broken when it comes to photography. Read the rules, but feel free to break them if that’s what it takes to capture the “face” you want. (I broke rules  #2 and 3 with Roz. She is not a stranger.) So go on, break the rules if you need to. Here they are…

  1. Always carry your camera.
  2. Smile and be friendly when you meet strangers along the trail (or wherever you meet them).
  3. Choose someone who smiles back, stop, say hello and engage them in conversation.
  4. Remember to be a good listener and give them your full attention. (See this recent blog post).
  5. After you’ve talked for a few minutes, explain about Friday Faces and invite them to help you with your project (Most people will agree, but if they don’t, thank them anyway).
  6. After you take the picture, offer to email it to them, or (and this is what I prefer) hand them a business card with your name and the website where they can find the picture.

That’s all there is to it. Let me know if you give it a try, and have fun.

Skip aka Carolyn

PS Look here and here for other posts I have written about Friday Faces.

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