Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Vibrant Colors

It’s just so bright outside this week. I don’t know if we have reached peak. It’s a bit early for it, but it wouldn’t be the first time the foliage has peaked early.


Vibrant colors? You want vibrant colors? Here are some for you and they are nature’s own, one and all.

And now, a selection of Garry’s photographs. Because we have taken well over a thousand foliage shots between the two of us. With at least another week of full color to come, it’s time to start getting serious about posting pictures.

cee's fun foto chall


Yesterday, I realized we can’t spend the summer locked in our house with doors and windows sealed.

The invasion, now an official worst in living memory gypsy moth attack in the Uxbridge-Whitinsville area, has made it onto all the local network affiliates. This is likely to force the town to figure out how to prevent this happening again — but worse — next summer.

It’s too late to save the summer. The oak trees are bare. So are all the birch. The caterpillars are finishing off the maple and pines. They’ve killing my fuchsia and the garden is dead before anything had a chance to bloom. The damage is done. The pines are gone for good; they won’t come back. The caterpillars are way out of control and marching north. We may have been the first, but we won’t be the last.

The little crawling eating machines are not finished. They will keep chomping on anything they can digest until they become moths and stop eating– at least a month from now. Then, instead, they will begin laying millions of eggs to ensure the next generation.

That’s the life of gypsy moths. Eat a forest. Dump excrement everywhere. Morph into ugly brown and white moths (the white ones — females — can’t fly). Lay millions of eggs. Repeat until there are no trees left standing.

Late yesterday, UPS delivered my marmalade and jellies. Neither Garry nor I had the stomach to retrieve the package. This morning, I geared up. Long dress. Clogs with socks. Long sleeved over-shirt. I couldn’t find a hat, so I just did perpetual motion. It was lovely out there. I haven’t been outside for a couple of days. I almost forgot what a delightful time of year this is.

I spotted the package on the sidewalk in front of the wellhead, by the front gate.

Which is when, looking down, realized the ground is writhing with caterpillars. The package was covered with them. A small package, yet so many hairy brown crawlers. I knocked them off the package, grabbed it, and ran for the door, stomping them back from the entrance, hearing them crunching under my feet. OH YUCK.

Coming in, I opened the marmalade and the ginger jelly, put in an English muffin to toast and took a deep breath. I made it. I was out maybe 3 minutes or less? Glad I have a pacemaker. It kept my heart from stopping.

I settled down with coffee and a muffin and two (TWO!!) kinds of sweets. Very good. Delicious. Hot coffee, sweet muffin, and I’m alive, alive. The caterpillars didn’t get me!

The phone range. It was Lance of Turf Technologies Inc. calling, as promised. Quick conversation and he said “This is now, officially the worse infestation ever. Good for you. People like you squawking is probably why the news picked it up.”

I know, because — I’m married to a news guy. I may not know much, but I know if you make noise and pique their interest, the news people will come. Maybe the powers-that-be — the ones around here making like ostriches — will take notice. As the days roll on with no relief, I become increasingly less hopeful.

One of the worst side effects of this mess is that I’m horribly depressed. I sit here, watching summer slip away, realizing there’s nothing more I can do. There’s a package outside somewhere. It’s a movie I ordered from Amazon, but neither of us is willing to look for it, not if it means going outside.

caterpillars 2016

A neighbor posted this picture. It could just as easily be my house. That’s what it looks like. I’m not taking any pictures because I can’t bring myself to go out. I haven’t been out of the house for nearly a week. I suppose that’s contributing to the depression.

No matter how horrible it is for us, I can’t imagine how bad it is for the farmers. This is apple orchard country. We’ve got farms. Trees, corn, dairy cattle. I can’t imagine how they are coping with this and what a economic catastrophe this will be for them.

This is the worst summer ever.



When all is said and done, there’s no better place to shoot architecture than Boston … and no place in Boston more interesting than Beacon Hill.



Beacon Hill is the “original” Boston. From here, Paul Revere began his famed ride. Most of the rest of Boston was part of one or another gigantic land fill project, including all of Back Bay and Dorchester.

Only Beacon Hill was dry land in the early 18th century (1700s) when Boston was a young city full of firebrand revolutionaries.




The buildings on the hill are in amazing condition and look new, but don’t be fooled. Ongoing preservation work has kept them in marvelous condition … and of course … a lot of money lives on this hill. All these building are between two and three hundred years old. Some, even older.


cee's fun foto chall



Surviving slow drivers on life’s long highway

I’ve read many stories in which authors wax poetic about the good old days when travel happened at a more gentle pace. Long journeys by narrow roads through quaint towns past farms, field, and woods. No super highways with steel and chrome food courts to mar the beauty of the countryside.

This is going forth to experience Real America.

I can remember some of those good old days. I’m just old enough to have been one of those kids in the back seat. Pinching and punching our siblings while simultaneously whining: “Are we there yet?”


All of you who ever waxed poetic about those long ago days of back roads travel should make the trek from Jackman, Maine to Danville, Vermont.

The beauty of your journey will not be marred by wide, smooth, high-speed roads. Nor will you be assaulted by fast food or faster drivers. Your pace car is more likely to be an aging pickup truck, rattling its way down the mountain, one of the driver’s feet permanently glued to the brake pedal while the truck rattles back and forth across the single lane.


It’s 231 miles from Jackman to Danville if you stay on the U.S. side of the border. Only one route is available. Route 201 from Jackman to Skowhegan. Hook a right on route 2. Drive for a really long time and do not plan on ever exceeding thirty miles per hour.

You won’t starve. You’ll find good food to eat, gasoline to be pumped as you pass through dozens of quaint little towns. There will be a pizza place in each village. Baked goods for sale. Sandwiches, too and chilled pop in bottles and cans. Clean bathrooms.

Autumn road to home

It’s a breathtaking journey through the mountains, especially in autumn when the trees are lit from within. The glory of Fall in the mountains of New England cannot be overstated. The mountains are alight with glory. It looks surreal.

And directly in front of you will be a slow, poky driver who will never exceed the speed limit. He will never reach the speed limit. In fact, he would never consider letting his vehicle get within 10 miles per hour of whatever the sign along the highway says is the safe (and possibly best) speed for traveling the twisting roads.

By the time we had been on the road for four or five of the 11 hours it would ultimately take to drive 231 miles, we were nearly overcome by unfriendly urges to get our little old car up to ramming speed and just push the slow, poky drivers out of the way.

“Wow,” I would say, “That mountain is insanely beautiful. Those colors, wow!” as we loop around a curve in the road. I’m over-compensating for my peevishness with the slow driver riding his brakes in front of us.


Slow drivers wait for us. Not just when we are away from home, but around the Valley, too. We try to pass. They appear out of nowhere, pull out in front of us, and slow to a crawl. If, by some minor miracle we briefly break free, another slow driver is waiting and he or she is going our way. All the way.

It took from early morning to sundown to complete the trip. We crawled through Maine and New Hampshire and as the sun was setting, limped into Vermont. We made it. We had fully experienced the glory days of yesteryear on our highways.

Never have I appreciated Dwight D. Eisenhower more. Truly, we had overcome.


March is not particularly green, at least not in New England. It’s a fickle month with warm days, cold nights, sudden thaws and freezes … and of course, snowstorms. Just to remind us who’s really in charge.


Two days ago …

Today, I went looking for signs of green and found a few.


The trees are bare, but fat buds are beginning to appear — a promise of leaves to come.


But there’s more. On the ground, despite two snows in the past few days (and another on the way), the day lilies are coming up.


A huge number of them are several inches out of the ground forming a blanket in the garden in the backyard.


They are looking very enthusiastic! I’m expecting a great year for the lilies.



We were in the middle of a snowstorm, the weather equivalent of a siege.


Underneath that hump, there is a table … was a table … will be a table … when spring comes …

And yet … spring is not far. Five weeks by the calendar. In between, there’s a lot of melting and mud coming. I hope we won’t flood. We deserve a break. All of New England deserves a break.

snow falling front trees



After a delightfully warm December and January (for the most part), and after the lying groundhog didn’t see his shadow, it began to snow.


Late last night, the first sleet mixed with rain began to fall and by this morning, it was entirely snow. Wet, heavy snow. The kind of snow that sticks to everything, especially tree branches and power lines.


The trees in the front and rear of the house are bowed with the weight of snow on their limbs. The weather services keep upping the amount predicted, though it doesn’t seem to be snowing heavily enough to accumulate a foot. I guess we shall see.

I’m hoping for a little breeze to move the branches and shake some of the snow from the trees. Snow makes pretty pictures, but it’s a real pain in the butt in every other way.


Meanwhile, complaints aside, it is beautiful outside. It is a classic winter wonderland, worthy of Currier and Ives … or Robert Frost.

I guess we’re going to have winter after all. I was perfectly content without snow. Really. I was.