THREE CHEERS FOR THE FOUR SEASONS by ELLIN CURLEY

It’s getting cold in Connecticut. The winter is late in coming this year, but now it’s definitely here. My husband is mourning the end of the warm weather. He is also missing his boat, which we just took out of the water to be shrink wrapped for winter.

On the other hand, I’ve just happily switched my closet from summer to winter clothes. I’m actually looking forward to wearing my favorite sweaters. I love boots and I feel very fashionable when I can wear high boots over my jeans. Another thing I look forward to in winter is coats and scarves. I have a terrific wardrobe of colorful, textured scarves, many purchased at craft shows over the years.

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I love the variety of clothing the seasons provide. I’d get sick of wearing the same clothes all year. If I lived in Florida or California, in order to get variety, I’d probably spend a fortune each year buying clothes. Now I spend very little on clothes because the four seasons (really three – winter summer and in between) give me ample variety in my wardrobe.

Another reason I don’t mind winter – once you put on your beautiful outerwear, you’re not cold outside. People talk about the horrors of winter as if you had to go outside everyday wearing nothing more than your pajamas! Snow is wonderful if you’re dressed to play in it and enjoy its beauty.

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I have to confess that I am not a heat lover. In fact, I get physically ill in severe heat. For me, it’s worse when it’s very hot than when it’s very cold. I can’t protect myself from the heat outside by removing layers of clothing. I can only go down to tee-shirt, shorts, or a bathing suit without getting arrested for indecent exposure. If I’m still roasting in those outfits, I’m screwed.

But in winter, you can always put on more sophisticated winter wear. For example, you can put on ski clothes and go out and ski down a mountain in the freezing cold.

So I dislike the heat and can stay warm in cold weather.

What else do I like about the seasons? The variety itself enhances my life. I appreciate spring and summer because I been through fall and winter. I don’t take green trees and flowers for granted because I live through colored leaves, bare trees, and the winter wonderland of snow-covered landscapes. I wouldn’t want to live in winter all year any more than I’d want to live in summer full-time.

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For the three months winter lasts, I appreciate it. We love the fires in the hearth on winter nights. Tom and I enjoy our Jacuzzi more in winter. Friends seem to have more time to come over and hang out in the winter, maybe because they’re not outside doing whatever they do in summer. Like playing golf, swim, take long walks, go on hikes, work in their gardens, and all that outdoorsy stuff.

I’m also lucky because I love where I live. I don’t dream of moving somewhere else. If I did, it would probably be to another place with four seasons. I just can’t imagine a life without watching the leaves turn red, yellow and orange in Autumn. I can’t imagine a life without getting to watch grass grow, flowers bloom and leaves suddenly burst out on trees. Every single year. I can’t imagine everything in my environment staying the same year in and year out.

I’m happy dealing with a world that changes. And now, it is changing again. Winter has arrived … with the promise of spring to come.

THE CHANGING SEASONS: NOVEMBER, 2016

The Changing Seasons: November 2016


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The Cardinal has announced that this challenge will run again through 2017. I love this challenge. It’s my favorite, first and foremost, because living here in the country, the weather is our calendar. It surrounds us, engulfs us. Regulates what we do and where we do it. It has presence and power in our lives. But the other reason is that I know it’s coming and regardless of the weather or my mood or plans, I have to go out and take some pictures. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that will get me into my boots and overcoat and outside with the camera. It’s a wonderful motivation for a lazy photographer.

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If you’d like a challenge that will actually challenge you — in a fun way — this is a good one. It’s also a challenge in which many of the participants are so much better photographers, it pushes me to try to be better, more creative. Find something new to say about a scene I’ve shot many times before.

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It’s the final month of shirtsleeve weather before winter comes. It’s the month where you may get snow, but the roses continue to bloom. Autumn leaves have lost the bright scarlet and yellow of October and transformed to the dark red, rust, and bronze of November. Leaves still cling to oak and maple trees. The quiet waters of the river reflect the gold of the trees.

The late afternoon sun is amber and casts long shadows. The strange sunlight changes the colors we see, turning bronze to yellow. Our eyes do indeed deceive us … or the camera’s eye cannot capture the November hues.

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The stores are advertising Christmas while families are still organizing their Thanksgiving invitations. Hurrying the seasons has become the standard. I understand the merchant’s need to sell, sell, sell. I hope they are equally understanding of how much we would like to get through one holiday before being battered by the next.

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From Cardinal Guzman:


What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?


«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2017.

It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcome.

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

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SIGNS OF THE SEASON

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2016 Week 46


Thanksgiving is next week, but as far as the stores are concerned, Christmas is just one day later. And down at the dam, the last few leaves are clinging to the trees … except weirdly, some still have all their leaves. It’s a bronze and deep red time of year.

Buy your wreathes and turkey at the same time.

Buy your wreathes and turkey at the same time

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The last red leaves of autumn

The last red leaves of autumn

The church seen from the river. I never realized you can see it from here because you can't until the leaves are gone ... mostly gone ...

The church seen from the river. I never realized you can see it from here because you can’t until the leaves are gone … mostly gone …

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PLAY BALL! – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I am a lifelong baseball fan. When October rolls around, I can smell baseball in the wind, I can hear it in the rustling autumn leaves.It’s World Series time again! The Red Sox are not playing in it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cheer from the sidelines. It’s been a long time since either contending team had a Big Win.

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Even though our team  isn’t in it, it has been an interesting season.

Last year’s last place Sox made the first round of this year’s playoffs. How did they do that? How do you take a losing team and become an (erratically) successful team in one year? Two years ago, they went from world champions to last place in a season, so I suppose the magic goes both ways. They achieved the leap both times without major lineup changes or anything weird happening with owners.

Improved esprit de corps? Better coaching? Something in the water? Wanting to give Big Papi a great send-off? But, I digress.

Go Cleveland! Go Cubs!

Spectator sports give all of us less talented lovers of the game a chance to participate, if not on the field, at least in the recliner. We all yearn for our personal “walk-off home run” at the big game. These days, it might be a really great night out at our favorite Sushi bar … or a little spare money to spend on something frivolous. Maybe a new lens for one of the cameras?

Mind you, we are not unhappy. Life continues to be engaging, entertaining, amusing, satisfying. Fun.

We’ve had to adjust. Find different ways to have a good time. We aren’t going to be partying all night (did we ever enjoy that, really?). Or taking long road trips. Life is not picking on us personally. Everyone has to adapt. We change. Our world changes. Unless you want to be one of the people who sits around grumbling about the “good old days” and how nothing is as like it used to be, we need to find things to enjoy and new ways to do them. It requires an effort of will to make it happen … and maybe a bit of creative thinking.

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Meanwhile, back in the stadium, the grand game — America’s Pastime — is being played out for our great enjoyment. The leaves may be falling from the trees (it was a spectacular display this Autumn), and to top it off, like the cherry on top of the banana split, we get our October classic … which could possibly run into November (but most likely, won’t).

Okay, all of these philosophical meanderings are prologue to the Frank Capra-resque World Series which begins tonight. The long-suffering Chicago Cubs versus the blue-collar Cleveland Indians. It’s Gary Cooper against Henry Fonda. Plenty of heroes and no villains except maybe the umps. It’s the sons of Tinker to Evers to Chance taking on the ghosts of Bob Feller, Al Rosen, Larry Doby and Vic Wertz.

I was collecting my first baseball cards when the Indians last won the World Series in 1948. My maternal Grandfather had just turned 21 when the Cubs won their last World Series in 1908. I still remember the stories he shared with me about those long ago Cubbies when I was still wearing short pants.

In those days, we wondered if our beloved Brooklyn Dodgers would ever beat the dreaded Yankees in the World Series. Thus began a lifetime of always rooting for the underdog. Angst has ever been a part of my DNA while rooting for my teams. So often defeat has been snatched from the veritable jaws of victory.

I felt nearer my God to thee when my hero Duke Snider and Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer finally defeated the damn Yankees for the 1955 World Series.  Apple-faced southpaw Johnny Podres was the unlikely pitching hero.

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Forty-nine years later, I stared in disbelief at the television as the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series after 87 jinxed years. It was the icing on the cake after a historic comeback in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees, finally exorcising the curse of the Bambino.

I recall describing my love of baseball to Teddy Ballgame, the legendary Ted Williams. Williams didn’t usually spend time with the media. But Teddy and I shared a link to John Wayne who I’d met and with whom I’d shared stories about legends. Duke admired Boston’s #9 and Williams liked Wayne’s no-nonsense screen heroes.

The movie “Field of Dreams” comes closest to capturing my love affair with baseball. Beyond your favorite team, there’s the love of the game, its complex drama and generations of heroes.

It doesn’t take a Hoyt Wilhelm-Tim Wakefield knuckleball to understand why baseball is a religion for some of us, especially in this year of political upheaval. The Cubs-Indians World Series will be a breath of fresh air from the toxic world of Orange Head and his minions.

See you at the park. Let’s play ball!

WOOD AND SHADOW – TEXTURES

TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 41 OF 2016


The deck is old and could really use a few coats of sealing stuff. And probably a sanding too. But it doesn’t look like it will happen this year, just like it didn’t happen last year. It’s a big job. I can’t do it myself … and the kid is busy. So it waits.

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Meanwhile, the textures of the old wood and the fallen leaves on the deck always make interesting pictures. Especially this time of day, when the sun comes through the fence to make long shadows across the surface.

UNEXPECTED WEATHER?

You can’t expect the weather … except … you really can. It’s unexpectedly hot around here. But it’s summer, so this unexpected heat wave was entirely expected and is completely normal.

The electric company apparently didn’t expect it and have gotten quite hysterical about the whole thing. You’d think it was their homeowner customers who created this emergency by our derelict over-usage of electricity. It’s not the mall which refrigerate the entire space to 65 degrees when it’s 100 outside. Oh no, never the commercial customers.

Meanwhile, it’s freaking HOT and the humidity is up there too. A couple of days ago with this weather visible on the map and the television meteorologists getting all excited, National Grid swung into action. It has been a pretty dull weather period, more notable for what isn’t happening (rain) than what is, namely muggy, gray days during which it looks like rain, but doesn’t.

National Grid started sending out (pardon the pun) heated warnings.

I got the first two via email, then two more via early morning robot calls.

Turn down your air conditioning to 78 degrees! Avoid high bills! Don’t stress our power grid. (Subtext: We need all the power to keep malls at 65 degrees. You homeowners are not big customers, so you can sit at home wheezing and sweating.)

If I turn the A/C to 78 degrees in this house, the humidity will turn our home into mold city.

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In the spirit of coöperation — and in hopes of not getting an electric bill that will knock me off my feet — I turned it up to 75 degrees. This is an older house without central air. Just window A/C. and even that, not in every room. We don’t cool rooms we don’t use much. Which is, to put it mildly, not as efficient as we might wish. It’s all we’ve got and summer is short. Our A/C units are less than two years old, so this is as good as it will get here.

By the time evening rolled around, the house was disgusting. We were disgusted.

Sticky. Hot. Everything was damp, especially us. The dogs wouldn’t sleep on the sofas, preferring the hard floors where it’s cooler. They’ll go outside only if threatened. Even so, they were throwing us dirty looks which hadn’t been washed this century.

By nine in the evening, I looked at Garry and said “How hot are you?”

“Bad,” said Mr. I Love Summer. “How are you doing?”

“I’m miserable,” I said. “I was thinking — damn National Grid. I can’t breathe!” I have asthma. The humidity was making my lungs work a double shift.

I turned the air conditioning to a more breathable 73. After an hour, air returned to the house.

I’m betting the people who write electrical usage “guidelines” are not sitting and sweating in their houses. I bet they have central A/C set for their personal comfort. They are not sweating out the heat wave. I know power is an issue, but so is quality of life.

Flash message for guideline issuers: OLDER PEOPLE TOLERATE HEAT POORLY.

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That’s right. You get older and your body is not as efficient at regulating core temperature as it was in youth. Those of us with other physical stuff, like arthritis, asthma and heart problems? Our ability to tolerate days of sitting in heat and humidity is dangerous to life and the continuation thereof.

I’m sure I’ll get the bill for this mad, crazy need to breathe. The bill alone might give me a stroke. Right now, I don’t care. I just want some air.

DAILY POST | UNPREDICTABLE?

THE CHANGING SEASONS – JUNE 2016: THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

The Changing Seasons: June 2016

THE SUMMER SOLSTICE


The weather has been strange everywhere. A mild winter, followed by an early spring. The leaves were at least a week ahead of schedule. Out in the middle of the country, non-stop rain created massive flooding, while the west and southwest have had temperatures so high the forests turned to tinder. At least half a dozen states are burning as I write this. With temperatures over 100 degrees farenheit (40+ centigrade), there’s no relief in sight yet.

Home. The bare trees are maple and oak. The ash and other trees were left (mostly) in peace.

Home. The bare trees are maple and oak. The ash, catalpa and other trees were left (mostly) in peace.

Here, in southern New England, our mild winter was followed by plentiful, but not excessive rains and it looked like it would be a lovely summer with full rivers and ponds where the birds could nest and feed.

Then … the Gypsy Moth caterpillars arrived. A week into June, and suddenly, the house, the driveway, and every hardwood tree in the forest was covered by aggressive, destructive, invasive hairy eating machines. Millions and millions of caterpillars. Everywhere. You could hear them dropping as you drove, like hail on the car roof.

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In short order, they ate every leaf off every oak tree and for dessert, consumed the maples, apple, and every other fruit tree that was not protected. The ground was writhing with caterpillars to which many people are allergic, making leaving the house a nightmare. It was like living in a bad horror movie.

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Trapped in the house, we finally got someone to spray the house and surrounding areas. Within a couple of hours, they began dying … filling the roof, driveway, walks, and ground with the corpses of caterpillars.

And then, they began to vanish. As mysteriously as they arrived, they disappeared. Starvation? They had eaten everything they normally eat. Caterpillar plague? There is such a thing and generally, on heavy infestation years like this one, it breaks out and they die by the millions.

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The trees are trying to come back. There are spring-like buds on many of the trees. Not every tree, but most of them. The oaks are the slow to leaf in the spring and even slower to re-leaf after defoliation.

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The gardens had no flowers at all until today when suddenly, roses appeared. Not where they were last year or any of the previous years. They showed up in a completely new part of the garden, leaving dead bushes in their wake. The day lilies — only two blooming — are covered with hundred of buds. Strange vision, with the naked oak trees.

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Summer is here. There will, I hope, be new leaves on the maples and some of the oaks. But today, you can see winter bare trees against a blue sky on the summer solstice.

NOTE: All the pictures on this page — except for Garry’s caterpillars — were taken yesterday afternoon. Also note how the trees are full in some places, but bare in others.


What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2016. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed. These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

This is the second year of participating and it is turning out to be much more interesting than I imagined possible. For followers of climate change, this shows rather more than anyone anticipated. Even if you have not participated previously, it’s not too late to join!

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