Thanksgiving 2015

IMG_6849This is Narragansett Beach on Thanksgiving Day. It was 62F, and some people decided to mark the holiday by going for a swim – without wetsuits. There was a lot of hollering.

IMG_6835Fidgit took a dip in one of the tide pools.

IMG_6843She always goes a little crazy after a swim.

At the mouth of Narrow River, where the ducks hang out, the current is strong. It’s rather wild sometimes.


After our walk, relaxed and refreshed, we dressed for the party.


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Beauty in miniature

IMG_6747I enjoy growing miniature orchids and this is one of my tiniest. Tubocentron Hsinying Girl is only about an inch tall (!)  and lives on my kitchen on a southeast-facing windowsill.

It is just now beginning to bloom, and should put on quite a show when all the buds are open.

This is a new hybrid from Taiwan, having been introduced just this year. It does not seem to be particularly demanding, growing in bright, diffused light. I water it thoroughly about three times a week. The one thing this orchid (and most other orchids) will not tolerate is bad drainage.

It is on the same fertilizer regime as my other orchids, Michigan State University “Tap Water Special” once a month, and Superthrive once a month, with plain water in between.

A pretty little thing, isn’t it? And quite festive, too.



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On the water

IMG_6580This is the Ichetucknee River, not far from Gainesville, Florida. As a participant in this year’s McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute, I not only got to see it, I got to paddle it.

IMG_6516We began our river trip here, at the headspring of the river – in other words, where the river begins. Notice the incredible clarity of the water. This is where groundwater comes up from the aquifer and becomes surface water.

The specialized reporting institute, entitled “Covering Water in a Changing World” focused on climate change and water, helping journalists understand the science and policy surrounding this resource. It took place at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

IMG_6531I have been to Florida, but never to the northern part of the state. It is very different from my home in RI. It even smells different: tropical and green with a hint of smoke. Organizers of this event hoped that a morning on the water would give us a deeper understanding of what we’d be talking about over the next couple of days. They were right.


The cyprus trees are festooned with Spanish moss, which is not really a moss but an epiphyte that grows on the trees but does not parasitize them.

IMG_6574This was a pleasant, easy paddle. The Ichetucknee  flows to the Santa Fe River, then the Suwanee River, and finally to the sea.


I had to stop and check out these spider lilies in bloom near the bank. Notice how they’re growing right in the water.

IMG_6594I also saw many big turtles sunning themselves on logs. Manatees can be found in the Ichetucknee in the winter, but we were too early to see them.

IMG_6612We ended the excursion with a stop at Ginnie Springs. This spring is clear, but with so many people using it, the eel grass is gone. Pretty to look at, though.

IMG_6656On our last night, we went to the University of Florida’s bat houses, which the university describes as one of the largest bat colonies IN THE WORLD. Some of my colleagues from the West said they still saw plenty of bats, but this was an especially great experience for me, since most of our native bats have been killed by white nose syndrome.

Three species of bats live in the two houses. The most common is the Brazilian Free-Tailed bat. They share the roost with Southeastern bats and Evening bats. All three species were completely new to me, and I was thrilled when, about 15 minutes after sunset, they began pouring out into the night. Not just thousands, more than 100,000. Wow. And they do us all a huge favor by eating millions and millions of insects every night.

Here’s a link to more information on Brazilian Free-tailed bats. I think they look a bit like winged chihuahuas.


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More scenes from NYC

IMG_6312 I have these photos I took recently in New York, but they don’t fit in a specific post, so I thought I would indulge in a photo dump. I hope you don’t mind. The above image is of the Brooklyn Bridge, which I walked with my friends.


The view from the bridge. Nothing like it. Powerful and arresting.

Contrasting with all that gray steel and glass are colorful scenes, like this flower stall.



And gardens, which are everywhere, tucked into the smallest spaces and usually beautifully designed.


This is in the West Village. Still colorful and cheery.


There’s always a spot for some flowers.

IMG_6314 (1)There are so many parks, most with beautiful, mature trees. This one is in Brooklyn.


New York is also a very doggy city. This is Ozzie, a NYPD dog in training. He’s just 7 months old, and he looks like he’s enjoying a rewarding career in law enforcement.

IMG_6342I saw this little dog on a balcony. I thought he or she looked sad.


This corgi looked much happier. He is doing the little “happiness howl” that corgis are known for. The “corginicenti” call it BAROO, because that’s what it sounds like.

IMG_6361And the skating rink is open at Rockefeller Center.IMG_6380

What an amazing city.

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A Halloween costume parade – for dogs


I had the good fortune to be in New York City for the insanely fun dog Halloween costume parade.


Some of the costumes were nods to the dogs’ countries of origin.


Others were dressed as THINGS – like this police car. Crazy, no?

These two were “Starbarks” lattes.


A corgi meet-up group had asked its members to dress their dogs as minions. These dogs were getting into character before the parade.


There were a couple of dachshunds dressed as dinosaurs. Their shape works perfectly with the costume.

IMG_6284And this couple, dressed in full “Where’s Waldo” regalia. What more is there to say?

A wonderful, crazy event, this parade, and a photo opp to die for.

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Scary New York

imageSkeletons on swings

IMG_6103Eyeballs on brownstones.


Witches in front of windows.


Pumpkins on steps.


Spiders everywhere.


This one was downright creepy.

IMG_6323And this was a combination of pretty and macabre.

Halloween in New York – over the top, like everything else in that awesome city. (I took these photos in the West Village.)

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Marvelous Montauks

thumb_IMG_5942_1024This is a common site in our part of southern Rhode Island right now. The Montauk daisies (Nipponanthemum nipponicumare) are in full bloom, and almost everyone has at least one clump. They begin blooming in early October and the show continues for about a month.

thumb_IMG_5960_1024Mature plants are very large and will take over your flower beds, so it’s best to plant them where they won’t crowd out anything else. The flowers smell kind of stinky, but the plant is very well- adapted to our part of the country, and therefore, just about bulletproof. They are hardy in Zones 5 to 9.


The leaves have nice, thick cuticles, which protect them from dog urine, so it’s okay to plant them near mailboxes and curbside sign posts.

thumb_IMG_5945_1024Our neighbor has just planted some young Montauks on her lawn. They’ll form a nice hedge next year.


These plants should be cut back hard in early May so they don’t get floppy and bare in the middle. I cut mine down to about 8 inches.

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Pineapple sage

IMG_5911This pineapple sage, named for its scent, has graced my deck all summer and is only now coming into its own. If I had read up on it when I bought it, I would have known that this herb, salvia elegans,  is a fall bloomer.

It tolerates some cold, but not the kind of freeze we get here in RI, which on the coast is Zone 7, so I think I will try to overwinter it indoors. It is native to the high forests of Mexico, and the tubular scarlet blooms are irresistible to hummingbirds. Too bad the hummers are gone by the time it really starts flowering.


Pineapple sage leaves are edible, and they are used for medicinal purposes, such as treating anxiety. Perhaps I should have chewed some of those leaves before attempting to use Apple’s  horrendous photo program, which I had hoped would be improved in the new El Capitan OS, but no. It is even more annoying than before, so I just gave up and circumvented it entirely.

To end on a positive note, we have stayed more than once at an eccentric but awesome place in southern AZ that is dedicated to hummingbird viewing (Beatty’s Guest Ranch) and they had planted this and other sages  all over, so the place was swarming with hummingbirds. This is an attractive and useful plant, and if it croaks indoors over the winter, I’ll buy another in the spring.


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Before and after

Before the gale: Helianthus Giganteus at the front of our house. Colorful. Impressive. Majestic.

IMG_5517After the gale: a pathetic mess of sticks.

IMG_5881That is all.



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Back to Maine

IMG_5762No rants in this post. I am feeling unusually mellow after a short trip to Maine. The above photo captured another perfect sunset on Bailey Island. Fall is a great time to visit this part of New England for many reasons.

One of them is a traditional seafood restaurant with great views of the harbor. I took this from our table at Cook’s Lobster House. We come here every year, as much for the views as for the food.

IMG_5765Then there’s a perfect gin martini. Another pleasure. Note ice on glass.

IMG_5777The wild asters are abundant in Maine this time of year. Much more so than in our part of RI.


I also appreciate the paler flowers.


IMG_5843Back to the ocean again. A gorgeous September day at Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth. We always find it difficult to tear ourselves away and drive home.

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