FROM BUD TO BLOSSOM: TWO SQUARES FOR BECKY B AND A FLOWER FOR THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

From Bud to Blossom and Flower of the Day

The interval between the fullness of a bud and the opening of the blossom is a time for the season. The Christmas cactus continues to bloom and our time is cactus time!

As I watch the changing cactus, I realize that before there were clocks, there was the growth of the soil, the height of the corn, the flowing, and drying of waters. The movement of sun and moon as the seasons change.

This is all around us. Every breath we take is a tiny piece of our life.

The bud
The flower
Flower of the Day – FOTD – 12/14/2018

A TIME TO BLOOM AND A TIME TO FADE – FLOWER OF THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

A Time to Bloom and a Time to Fade – FOTD – 12/12/2018

I thought, when I watered the cactus yesterday, the blooms would vanish quickly. And indeed, two flowers dropped — but two new ones opened up. So it lives on and maybe, if I am very lucky, it will make it through the holidays.

Still fully blooming!
Bigger and more beautiful.

AS GOOD AS IT GETS: THE FULL BLOOM OF THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

As Good As It Gets – FOTD – 12/10/2018

I’ve been following the progress of this lovely Christmas Cactus since its first bud last month and now, it has come, I think, to the end of its peak.

I watered it yesterday. The water quickly made the flowers limp as I knew it would. But the segments of the cactus were beginning to curl inward, a sign that the plant was thinking about dying too. So, there comes a moment when you either water it, or it could up and die.

I picked watering rather than death. This has been an extremely healthy plant and I’d like to give it another year to bloom a few more times. One of these days, I’ll be forced to put it in a new pot, but I shudder at the thought. These guys — as Mrs. Angloswiss discovered — have a knack for self-destructing when you try to pot them. The segments just separate. It’s what they are supposed to do, but it is very unnerving when it happens.

IF you are going to put them in a new pot, let them dry out completely first and don’t do it when they have any buds on them.

Since I didn’t want to lose it, I realized I was going to lose the last of the buds, but I watered it.

It felt like dried sand, so I don’t think it was too early. If I’m lucky, it will bloom again in a few weeks. This is, after all, the season for blooming cactus.

So these are the full blooming cactus. They are not macros, but they are shot very close, but not using the macro lens. I wanted to show more of the entire plant this time. I hope you have enjoyed the journey.

I certainly have had fun showing the process of budding, and blooming.

TOO MANY BIRDS — Marilyn Armstrong

I took my empty glass to the kitchen to get something to drink. Or, anyway, that was the idea. I put the glass on the counter and looked at the plant hanging on the kitchen window. It needed some water.

Maybe they all (finally) needed water.

I left the drink where I’d stood it. Filled the little red watering can, then thoughtfully dribbled water across the kitchen floor while getting my socks thoroughly wet at the same time. I am nothing if not graceful.

I watered — finally — the two Christmas Cacti and all the other plants, including the budding orchids and the big Philodendron. Emptied out the rest of the water while dousing my feet a little more.

A downward traveling Nuthatch

I turned around and said “Oh,” because there were birds. One squirrel in the flat feeder — and maybe a dozen birds fluttering and a few more striding the deck. Some new ones, too. Mourning doves were on the deck, picking up pieces of seed the birds had tossed aside. Also, I saw a few Slate-Colored Juncos. Those are the strutting birds who clean up anything let by the flying birds and the “stuffing her face” squirrel girl.

Suddenly, all other thoughts were forgotten and I found myself taking pictures of birds. I couldn’t help myself. As if I’d been hypnotized, the fluttering birds were waiting for me. On the deck, on the feeders.

Far in the woods, I saw a big red-headed woodpecker. I couldn’t get a picture — he was outside the range of my lens. I just got a flash of him in the trees. He was a big one!

Slate-colored Junco

I noticed new birds — a dark-headed, white-bellied bird with dark eyes and a white beak which I finally decided had to be a Slate-Colored Junco because he was the only bird in the book the looked remotely like him … and the Gold Finch that had to be a Gold Finch even though all the finches should have already flown south. He had to be one anyway because there was nothing else he could be.

Part of the clean-up crew: a mourning dove

Garry pointed out that we’d had a lot of storms and birds do get blown off-course.

I have ascertained that when you are trying to figure out what a bird is, especially when there are a lot of birds that look very similar to that bird, after you have eliminated all the birds he or she cannot be, then he or she must be whatever remains as long as it bears some resemblance to the image you are staring at.

You would think, if you have a clear photograph of the bird and you know where you are, it should not be that difficult to figure out what bird you are looking at. You’d think that but you would be wrong. Or at least if you are me, you’d be wrong.

Gold Finch in the wrong region

There is a section of my “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds” called “Confusing Fall Warblers.” They come in yellow, green, beige and many variations in between. Some of the birds interbreed too, so there are many variations on the variations and even though they are all supposedly gone from this area by now, the weather hasn’t been normal and neither have the birds.

I had to take the SD chip and stick it in the computer to see what I’d gotten and while I was at it, process some very pretty pictures of the blooming Christmas Cactus.

Bird in a tree

That was when I realized I was still thirsty and my glass was still on the counter in the kitchen and my feet were wet.

Birds. I’m totally hooked. Just as well, because if it weren’t for the birds, I’d probably be watching the news.

CHRISTMAS CACTUS MACROS – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Cactus Macros


Oddly enough, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing! Between the birds at the feeder and the genuine macros on the Christmas Cactus, it’s been all close-ups and macros for several weeks … with a few more weeks to come.

Tonight, though, we’re going to make an excursion to see if we can get the light on the Common. It’s cold, but it’s very clear and as far as I know, we aren’t expecting any rain or sleet or snow … or for that matter, toads and frogs, descending from on high.

A good time for cameras for as long as we can stay outside. If there isn’t much wind, we have a little longer.

I can’t tolerate cold as I used to. I was always warm, but these days, I’m always cold … even when it isn’t all that cold. So I guess we’ll see. Maybe I’ll wrangle with the extremely warm by complicated heavy winter coat I own.

I never wear it because I can’t always figure out what all those buttons, zippers, elastic, cords do. By the time I manage to get myself into it, I’m exhausted and need a nap. We shall see!

Meanwhile … closeups and macros!

CHRISTMAS CACTUS IN FULL BLOOM! – Marilyn Armstrong

 In Full Bloom – FOTD – 12/7/2018

This is probably the biggest blossoming this cactus has ever had. Each day, I find another bud has opened and it is so beautiful!

The cactuses are backed against the dining room French doors … which is right in front of the bird and squirrel feeders. Sometimes, it’s so amazing, I’m not sure what I should shoot first.

On a sunny day like today, when there’s plenty of light and the windows are clean, it’s a brilliant, joyful choice to make.


In full bloom

I shot everything and I do mean EVERYTHING. I shot so much that I spent this entire day processing and just didn’t have the strength of character to go out and shoot some more. So tomorrow.

Presenting also the first shots of this year’s Christmas tree. Because the season has arrived!

Merry Christmas, Good Chanukah and throw in any holiday you celebrate. I’m good with everything!

EVEN MORE CHRISTMAS CACTUS! – Marilyn Armstrong

Even MORE Christmas Cactus -FOTD – 12/6/18

Nothing else is blooming at the moment and we don’t live in a warm place where flowers seem to grow all year round. So other than naked trees, there aren’t a lot of flowers to show. So we are all stuck with the Christmas Cactus.

One of the new flowers
New blossom – an impression