Posted by: jsmcfadden | June 9, 2012

Remember this.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

for he has been good to me.”

Psalm 13:5-6 NIV

Posted by: jsmcfadden | April 11, 2012

Meet Iris.

Finally opened up her beautiful bright colors to show the world.

In the front planting bed, Iris is the star right now. There is plenty of green all around her, and a little bit of light cream and purple pansies near her feet, but … Well.

She stands above.

There are some sisters around her.

I especially like the way this looks, with the three steps right next to one another. Don’t you?

Posted by: jsmcfadden | April 11, 2012

Meet Rose

Who puts POTS in the ground? I mean, who doesn’t take the plant OUT of the black plastic pot from Home Depot, but just digs a hole and puts the three black plastic pots with climbing roses in them right into the dirt? Who does this?

John and I did. But here’s evidence that it’s maybe going to be OK:

Please, I’d like to introduce you to Rose. Isn’t she pretty?

For most of last fall, she was in shade from the potato bushes and the strange thing in our neighbor’s yard — the tree-ish bush with long, thin acorny acorns.

Last summer she didn’t bloom. Last spring she didn’t bloom. She got ignored a bit, as I was having a big crush on the lilacs. 

She has pretty sisters, too, and every day more of these buds are opening and the foliage looks healthy; the branches are climbing even though there’s nothing for them to rest on.

Despite our horrid gardening — pots in the dirt and no trellis for the climbing rose — Rose is doing just fine. She’s going to do, evidently, just whatever she wants.

This is the perfect house & yard for that!

Posted by: jsmcfadden | April 8, 2012

Time for a drive

Last weekend, with a few hours on my own, and already up in Vacaville, AND with a camera in the car, it was definitely time for a drive.

A person ought to enjoy the life she has!

So I drove out Pleasants Valley Road and then up toward Monticello Dam and then around the other way toward home. Oh, the greens!

Even on the sheer rock face of the cliff, green wins. This is the part of the mountain that was revealed when the other part of it was blasted off when they built the dam back in the early 1950’s. It’s across the roadway from the pull-out where people can stop and view the dam and the “Glory Hole” or spillway when the lake’s depth reaches the magic level. You can look it up right here if you’re curious.

Usually I drive this the other direction — starting in Solano County and going into Napa and then Yolo County. So I kept having to look in the rear-view mirror to really understand just where I was.

The greens were tremendous! There was green on green. Green beside green. Green atop green. And so many different greens. Take a look at the moss on this gnarly branch. And the grey greens in the background. There were more greens overhead — different ones.

Then I noticed the just barely green in the hanging moss. I love this moss, and the weird fantasy world it creates, especially when there is a breeze.

So here’s some more of that moss.

It’s like witch hair. So light that any breeze lifts it up. Then it furls and waves and I suddenly wonder if we’re under water in a denser medium.

I had pulled over to take these photos and let a big white pickup truck go past me, and I was so struck by the way our surroundings speak to us. Mostly what’s around me doesn’t holler but whispers.  Here, it was a musical whisper, breathy but not throaty at all. It was melodic.

 Just on the other side of the roadway from that mossy singing tree, was this magical grove.

Can you imagine the creatures who might live there? Doesn’t it seem like a perfect setting for an adventure for a … marmoset who speaks Gaelic? What’s a marmoset? Dunno, but the name is way cool!!

Here’s the spot with a little zoom on the camera. It’s a quiet place, but certainly not silent, is it?

Posted by: jsmcfadden | April 1, 2012

Infatuated with green

Every spring it hits me. I see new greens everywhere I look. Bright yellow green. Light grey-green. Silvery green. Forest green. Neon green when the sunlight hits the boxwood leaves.

I hold my breath as if the green might dissipate with an exhalation. I look and look and look.

And  today, today I took some pictures.

I started in the back yard.

These are the climbing roses who got “planted” behind the retaining wall still in their little plastic pots.

They’re looking better than ever — aren’t you happy to see their glossy dark green foliage shining in the sun?

How could you ever describe this green without a photo?

Notice the many, many little buds — we will have lots of little white roses in a couple of weeks, I bet.

Wouldn’t it be fun if they bloomed by Easter?

Then my attention was snagged by the apple blossoms. Why does it surprise me every March when these blossoms appear? I see the leaf buds, then the flower buds, but when the blossoms open, it’s difficult to stay calm.

They are just so sweet. Like a proud momma whose little baby shows up on Facebook albums multiple times a week, I take photo after photo of these flowers.

With so few leaves on the branches yet, and the tree just recovering from its winter pruning, it’s a surprise to see flowery life unfold there on the apple twig.

And they smell good. It’s a light scent, and sweet, but not cloying. Fresh and pink.

Then I moved into the front yard, and there was a symphony of greens, each one shown to its advantage by the closeness of another shade of green.

The boxwoods.

Their light green new growth and the darker green old growth and the sun as well, and everything washed from the rain of the last few days.  Green! Glorious green!

And then it was the boxwoods with the tree which makes a break in the sinuous line of these bushes.

It was a little dizzying when I looked at the picture; the trunk’s greys seems like they could be gravel or paving and I had to re-orient myself to what was up and down.

I’m so happy that the boxwoods aren’t pruned into little boxes.

I looked up from the boxwoods and was transfixed by the greens above our street, the trees in their new leaves, one from each house, and it all moving together in the breeze. So beautiful!

Had to get on my knees to get this shot. Think about that for a minute. Got a big idea?

Then I stood up and went around the other side of the boxwoods, to the front planting bed.

And there was the variegated euonymus. Don’t you love her name? What a different kind of green! See all the teeny flowering things?

She stands out in the planting bed because of her bright yellow-green and seems to love it when the yellow river of blooms finally pops into the garden.

Look at how the other euonymus sparkles in the setting to the eastern edge of the front bed! The tall hedge with its darker green leaves. The boxwoods, lit by new yellow-green growth and the sun, and then the yellow-green of the euonymus. In front of it, by the way, are the irises which will be blooming in the next few weeks. Photos of those will come, I promise!

And I like the river rock there, grounding it all and reminding me of a stream bed.

More photos from the drive I took! Up Pleasants Valley Road and all the way to Lake Berryessa!

Next time.

Posted by: jsmcfadden | March 31, 2012

What it looks like now

We believe these are double tulips.

Or quadruple tulips.

Big ole fists of tulips.

If we remember correctly, these will stretch up to about 14 inches high.

Posted by: jsmcfadden | March 18, 2012

Armies of Tulips

Hello from many months later.

From a dark end of summer and a darker fall and a winter darker still, life is beginning to push through.

Soaker hose gets lifted, even, with the shove of the green life out of the dirt.

What happens deep in the dark soil? Sometimes I fear it’s rot, but sometimes, maybe, it’s preservation. “In a Dark Time…”

And I don’t know what these flowers will look like. I think they’re double tulips, but they might be something else. I threw away the bag the bulbs came in. There will be a surprise in some days or a week.

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Posted by: jsmcfadden | July 16, 2011

Some miscellaneous previously unattached photos

These are from Alaska, clearly, which doesn’t seem that long ago and wasn’t that long ago, but which seems long ago in Blogtime.

We’re looking at Mendenhall Glacier from the lake we canoed across, with several other people of course.

Then we see Nugget Falls from a distance.

Then John and I are on the gravel beach of the lake near the Falls, with the Glacier in the distance.

I guess the styrophoam cup is for scale?

Then the photographer moved and we moved so that the Falls are in the background now.

I recall being stunned and obsessed by scale in Alaska.

Posted by: jsmcfadden | July 14, 2011

Brandywine Falls

So, on the way back to Vancouver, then Seattle and Portland after Whistler, we decided to stop at Brandywine Provincial Park to see the falls.

After a brief walk from the parking lot over to the river, past the information kiosk that told us about the river and the engineers who mapped and measured it, we crossed the river on a nice footbridge.

The brief walk to the viewing point was pleasant, not difficult or steep, on a wide cleared path, nicely maintained and usable for biking as well as walking, as evidenced by the couple groups of young cyclists who went past us. We walked in silence, meeting only a family or two returning to the parking lot. There’s a photo of the path in a bit.

Off to the left of us was the rest of the mountain, I guess, sometimes hidden in the forest, and other times opening up so we could see these rocks that looked as if they wanted to tumble down into the water on the other side of us.

How long, I wondered, had it been since they had slid and rumbled, powered down under the pull of gravity until something made them stop?

I was glad not to be in their way.

Then the river was on our right side for a ways.  

The channel looked 4-5 feet deep, but the cold water was moving fast.

The cliches of running or racing don’t seem to hold the power that was most striking to me.

The water was being pulled, pulled hard by an irresistable force, down the channel. The water looked thick — not full of sediment or cloudy, but thick like heavy lead crystal, weighty.

The tall conifers were on either side of us, then, as the path moved off a bit from the river, or maybe it’s just that the river’s path changed.

After a curve in the path, we saw a warning sign that parents ought to watch their children.

We crossed a startling set of railroad tracks, still in use, evidently,  for we saw a town name sign and a km sign the other direction. 

A sudden sight of the far mountains, still with snow on them, was amazing. So was walking across train tracks in the middle of the forested mountains.

Not at all reminiscent of our other near-track experience at the Davis train station at first thought.

But then I connected the amazing mountains between Sacramento and Reno and the deep winter snow back there and then with these amazing mountains here and now. Oddly, I felt  at home.

We walked through the forest a little longer to a strange ruin, an abandoned Lincoln Logs project, I thought.

Had it been a shelter for long-distance hikers who needed to get in from the snow for the night? Except for the fact that it was sideways and maybe upside-down, it looked snug, was probably cozy.

Except that it was upside-down …

Finally we came to the viewing spot, a platform off toward the river, far over the river,  but nicely railed to protect us  from the drop to the stream bed.

The death-drop to the river bed.

70 meters from lip to splash, according to the information sign that pointed us toward the viewpoint.

It amazed me that someone measured it. 

The width of the river there was 10 or 12 feet, and then the wild drop into the gorge. The cold mist reminded me of the mist off the glacier when we canoed across the lake.

I kept staring at the lip, almost feeling dizzy as I imagined the pull of gravity on the water and the crash at the bottom of the falls. You can see the power of the water pushing, pressing toward the drop.

Here’s the lip, again, closer. 

I felt glad then for the long rainy season we’d had this spring, glad for the big river we could see here.

We just stood and looked and took picture after picture of the water and the cavern, dozens of them just the same, most likely. We were just mesmerized by the drop and the sound and the mist.

Off to the right of the lip was the other side of the gorge, but the mountain looked as if it had been carved and chipped out, hundreds of feet above the stream below. Had this river done that, long ago — carved out the cavern of the solid rock? See the gravel, where it stopped sliding down into the gorge?

I kept looking more and more often to the left of the falls, to the cavern’s broadening out, rather than at the falling water. I began to wonder if the ground under us did the same thing.

Were we standing on an illusion of stability connected to just 5 feet of rock stretched out, hanging over a hundred-foot drop?

Made me nervous, so I skedaddled back to the wide path on the solid ground, far from the cliffs of the river gorge. The sign said there was another viewpoint just ahead awhile.

This short walk, then, offered various glimpses of the river far below, in the gorge after the falls, as it went its way, still fast, but different here on this side of the falls: shallow, whipping rapids rather than a deep gorge of person-high throttling-toward-the-precipitous-drop river.
At last the whole wide valley opened up, straight to Daisy Lake. The broad opening let in not only more light for a tremendous view, but also a very chilly wind that  hit me right in the face.

I headed back to the information kiosk and the car.

Posted by: jsmcfadden | July 13, 2011

Spectacular drives, part 2

Vancouver, BC, to Whistler and back on the Sea-to-Sky highway.

Now, everybody knows that the 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, except that many events were actually held in Whistler, a litle under 2 hours away, up in the Canadian Cascade Mountains — the same mountains that have given the US Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, etc. Beautiful mountains, steep and deeply wooded and with volcanoes like large beads on a chain.

So. The Sea-to-Sky goes along the water up until Squamish, getting higher gradually, then goes a bit east-northeast toward the awesome skiing mountains. The view out the driver’s window on the way up to Whistler was water, steep hills rising, and islands, reminiscent of the landscape we saw on our cruise of the Inside Passage.

Out the windshield, even through the raindrops and the blink of the windshield wipers, the view was beautiful: mountains, water, trees. Plus the cool highway signs, names of towns in English and then the unfamiliar groupings of letters which was the First Nations’ names for those places.

The view out the passenger’s side window was  the mountainside: very steeply rising rock, feeling quite close off the shoulder. Later on, it was a broad valley that met the next high ridge, often snow-covered, even in June.

On the side I kept seeing announcements of some creek or other, and I’d stare intently, hoping to see the white falls as the water fell down toward the Bay, but I kept missing it, or my neck wouldn’t turn that far around.

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