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Honk Parade, Somerville, Massachusetts.

For the first time in years, I’m at home for Halloween. I’ve been alternating between Suzanne and John’s homes, which has been a lot of fun. Besides, all the children in my neighborhood grew up and moved away, so there have been no trick-or-treaters on my street for a long time.

Now some young families have moved in. I want to see the little ones in their costumes — and avoid driving on such a night. I’ll let you know if I get any takers for the candy, Goldfish cracker bags, or juice boxes.

Meanwhile, I want to share a few photos of the season and hope you like some even if you don’t like Halloween.

I’m starting with the Honk Parade in Somerville. It is on the Columbus/ Indigenous People’s Weekend every non-Covid year.

The band playing at a local church’s fall festival is the wonderful bluegrass group Southern Rail. I can’t resist putting one of their videos at the end of this post.

The boaters are enjoying the Sudbury River in Massachusetts. The meditative bench is on the Seekonk River in Rhode Island.

I love the idea of six-word novels. The creative woman on Sudbury Road had numerous “novels” on pumpkins this year.

Across the street from her yard, the public library featured children’s story books. I’m sure you recognize Curious George.

Don’t know who the banjo players are, given they lack any features, but one seems to be a Union soldier.

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Photo: Suzanne.
The Painted Rock gets the best art in the off-season. This was in early June.

Today I’m rounding up a few photos from summer in New England (although, of course, the badger photo was not taken in New England but on that wedding trip).

There are four photos of some really artistic work on the Painted Rock. Next comes a typical island clothesline in the mellow light near sunset. That’s followed by a pile of rocks that someone (a child?) collected at the edge of the Tug Hole, a sign showing that some landowners are welcoming, and a sharp Queen Anne’s Lace shadow on a guard rail. Those photos were all taken in New Shoreham,, Rhode Island.

The next few are from Massachusetts: Purple Loosestrife near a stone wall, a food-themed mural, a painted door with 3-D touches, and a juvenile red-tailed hawk at Minuteman Park. There were three of the young hawks horsing around that morning. They threw me off the identification until I learned that red tails whistle and that the tail isn’t red in the first year.

Finally, the Wisconsin tough guy.

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Photos: Suzanne and John’s Mom.
Walk this way.

It’s a hot July, but we’ve had a good breeze and I’ve been able to take walks and shoot photos regularly by heading out early. So walk this way.

Black-eyed Susans come up every year where they will no matter what else is going on in the world. Blackberries ripen and Pat gathers them so Sandra can make jam on the dark winter days ahead. I took a picture of Sandra’s mother’s lovingly tended oleander plants. They don’t normally live up North, but Sandra pounces as soon as she sees an aphid and that’s why they are still healthy.

The rust-painted “Recycling” sculpture at the New Shoreham transfer station (former dump) is by Peruko Ccopacatty and shows the possibilities of reclaiming history.

Speaking of history, I think we need to enjoy old-time movie theaters now, while they last.

Outside the Spring Street Gallery, I added a grape vine to this “community fiber tree.” I am also planning to thread and hang a feather and a couple shells with holes if I can interest a grandchild in helping.

Inside the gallery, there’s a large ceramic version of a skate’s egg case. Next Nature herself appears, in the form of a blue claw crab who was about to release thousands of eggs into the salt pond. Blue claws are moving north, which is nice if you love to see them, not so nice if you realize it’s because of a warming climate. The little girl at the Nature Conservancy seining-net demonstration was entranced with a green crab, too.

Painted rocks of various sizes are next, followed by precarious ones threatening to fall from the ever changing bluffs. All islands have messages about about the precarious — what Nature makes precarious, what humans do.

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Funny how quickly the photos pile up in beautiful weather. Winter days offer fewer opportunities, unless there’s a big snowstorm. Most of today’s pictures illustrate how I am drawn to spring’s strong sunlight.

Sunshine highlights the candles offered by the Barrow Bookstore, a shop featuring used books and much more — for example, birdhouses made from books.

I have a couple shots of people getting ready for the Patriots Day parade, which is always a big deal here. (Well, unless there’s a pandemic.) “The shot heard ’round the world,” usually credited with being the first shot of the American Revolution, happened at the North Bridge in our town, April 19, 1775. This year I managed to get up there in time to join the crowd watching the reenactment. Lots of noise and smoke and harmless musket shots.

I have no idea why a pine cone is nailed into a tree, but my camera is always drawn to oddball things.

The Toad Abode is at a community garden in Massachusetts, and the flowering trees are in Rhode Island.

From sunlight to dark: the moving musical Titanic, sung by some of the strongest voices I have heard since Covid. We weren’t allowed to take pictures during the show, but they put up a couple of their haunting slides before the show and at intermission. I guess you know what happened at that longitude and latitude. So many people to blame! So much hubris!

Having not been to theater for a long time, I managed to attend three shows in one week, all masked up, of course. I saw my youngest grandchild in a production of The Wizard of Oz. She had written invitations to each child in her class, and many came. Then I attended Footloose with my eldest grandson, who had friends in the cast. And finally, I presented my vaccination card at our local community theater and enjoyed the Titanic along with a lot of other matinee-loving old folks.

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Suzanne’s mother-in-law, known on this blog as Stuga40 (see selfie below), flew from Sweden in March to hang out with family in Providence for a few weeks. She brought along her artist’s eye.

My husband and I had many nice walks with her, outdoor lunches, indoor conversations, and playtimes with grandchildren. Because of Covid, it had been three years since we’d seen her.

I wanted to share a few of Stuga40’s photos with you because I liked them so much.

Above, you see a view under the I-195 bridge over the Providence River, where a new bike trail passes. It reminded me of artists like Charles Sheeler, whose work was among those we saw on a rainy-day visit to the RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] Museum.

She also took shots of random things that intrigued her: utility-box art, a large mural, and the plant life we have all around us but don’t always notice.

When Stuga40 gets back to Sweden, I know she will continue to apply her connoisseur’s eye to the photos she takes on her walks around Stockholm. I hope to have some more to show anon.

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Bronze apple knocker.

During the Civil War, I was once told, soldiers from upstate New York who knocked apples off trees with their rifles were derided as apple knockers. But as I can’t find that history on the internet, I think it may be apocryphal.

Nevertheless, the expression was definitely used to differentiate New York City folks from every other New Yorker when we lived upstate years ago.

Back then, I said to my mother that I thought someone should make a door knocker in the shape of an apple. Whether she had thought of it before or was responding to my comment, she was the one who took action.

Her little company is long defunct, but whenever I visit a home of people who knew her, I see a bronze apple knocker on their door. My own house has the one above on the back door and another on the front door. If my children are the ones to sell our home one day, I hope they remember to stipulate in the contract that the knockers stay with them — collectors’ items now.

Moving right along, I have a few recent photos to show you. Below is another of my winter hellabore photos. I can’t get enough of these flowers, also called Lenten Rose, which bloom in the coldest weather.

The two snarly-twig photos show an abandoned nest over the Sudbury River and a fancy-dress fungus near the elementary school’s playground.

The post box for Santa reminds me that my youngest grandchild just got a response from her letter to the North Pole — exciting for all concerned. The cheery toy soldier on Main Street points passersby to a staircase leading to a toy shop below.

My husband and I went to our first post-Covid show at Umbrella Arts and especially loved the non-traditional holiday songs. Today, reading headlines about all the well-vaccinated people getting the Omicron variant, we’re probably going back in hibernation like the ground hog that sees its shadow. We’re not post-Covid after all.

I made the chocolate cookies from a recipe in the newspaper. The kids decorated some of them with frosting and sprinkles.

I also have a photo from friends who set off for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii after the guy in the last photo recovered from Covid followed by pneumonia.

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Photo Reflections

The next time that I post photos, I hope I can include some action around the bird feeder. Although there are experts who recommend feeding the birds year-round, I usually wait to put seeds in the feeder until it’s really hard for birds to find other food. As of this moment, they are still having a good time with all the berries and naturally occurring seeds in our yard.

I continue to take outdoor walks in the cold, identifying birds with my Merlin app for birdsong. I’m also working with a grandson to learn more about birds through Wingspan, the board game. (I blogged about it here but didn’t understand then how difficult it is to learn the rules.)

Here are a few more photos: from cold, frosty walks; from a nice, warm art gallery featuring a circus of skate-egg-case performers; and from Kristina’s visit to balmy North Carolina.

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There were quite a lot of opportunities for photos on sunny October days this year, and I’m not even counting funny pictures from Halloween in Providence, where one grandchild was Harry Potter, another was Princess Aurora, Suzanne was the Fairy Godmother from Disney’s Cinderella, and Erik had turned into a vampire after getting vaccinated (as some would have you believe).

I didn’t get to see my young Captain Marvel and her scary brother the Mummy in person. Fortunately, their mom sent a dramatic action shot.

I do try to be a bit restrained with family photos on social media, so today I will show you other shots I’ve collected. The photo above is of a kind of mandala that a Providence resident is in the process of creating near Blackstone Park. She encourages passersby to add something. I added more red leaves.

On the library lawn back home, I got to see Dr. Seuss’s famous Thing One and Thing Two and Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. There was also a “walking” book, consisting of signs showing page spreads. The current choice is The Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade (illustrator).

My husband had been reading about Ralph Waldo Emerson — particularly about the influence that Quaker thinker George Fox had on him — and so decided it was high time to visit Emerson’s house. Among other things we learned was the fact that in the early 1800s, people didn’t know that tuberculosis was contagious. Emerson’s first wife died of it at age 18. Also, the original Emerson family still owns the home. It’s a rather dark and gloomy place, though. I preferred the recently restored barn and took a picture there.

Moving right along, I have art for you from the Umbrella. The two pieces of door art are “Pop Art on the Trail,” by Howie Green, and “Remember the Future,” by Amy Cramer.

Then there’s the art center’s fabulous annual Art Ramble in the Hapgood Wright Town Forest, which I generally hold off on visiting until the first frost kills off the mosquitoes that breed in Fairyland Pond.

The Shibori hanging series, “Windblown,” is by Kiyomi Yatsuhashi. The beautiful Luna Moth Life Cycle is by Jude Griffin. The lungs of the forest are depicted by Barbara Ayala Rugg Diehl (BARD) in a work called “In and Out.”

The next photo shows Lisa Nelson’s “Waves of the Aerial Sea.” And last but not least is a huge dragonfly, or “Ethereal Dreamer,” by Laurie Bogdan and Kimberley Harding.

Thanks for joining me in New England.

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Pumpkins and More

Huge selection of pumpkins and gourds at Wilson Farm, Lexington, Massachusetts.

Most people regard Halloween as simple fun — a moment to indulge in humanity’s playful side. That’s especially true for the very young, if not for the gruesome-looking teens or mischief makers. I always love seeing the littlest ones in their Spider-Man, Snow White, or witch costumes,

But even the creepy stuff is sometimes fun. I went trick-or-treating with John when he was 10, and we loved being startled by what we thought was a bundle of old clothes on the Dallas family’s front steps when it suddenly started moaning.

Back at the house, I would usually put on Halloween-ish records and turn up the volume: “Night on Bald Mountain,” “The Ride of the Valkyries,” a pre-Cats version of TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (narrated in a spooky voice by Robert Donat), and the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross song below, “Halloween Spooks.” Not sure anyone else listened to that background music, but it always got me in the mood.

Nowadays, we alternate between John’s neighborhood Halloween and Suzanne’s. Since we went to his in 2019 and did nothing in the pandemic, we will be with our younger grandson and granddaughter today.

Enjoy a few pre-Halloween photos from around these parts.

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In March 1990, thieves broke into Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and “cut Rembrandt’s ‘Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee‘ and ‘A Lady and Gentleman in Black,’ ” among other works, from their frames.

A renewed flurry of interest in the 1990 art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum occurred the week that my husband and I took Minnesota friends to see the collection.

It was the week that “Robert V. Gentile, a Connecticut mobster long suspected by federal authorities of having information about the whereabouts of $500 million worth of masterworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum decades ago,” died. (See Boston Globe story.)

Visitors still flock to see the blank places where the missing pieces were once exhibited, and the museum staff is well primed on details. (Our friends asked one guard how long it took the thieves to get in and out with the goods. “Eighty-one minutes,” he answered promptly.)

So today I will share some pictures from our visit as well as a few other photos of the season.

Isabella Stewart Gardner, seen in the portrait below, was an unusual, wealthy woman who imported the courtyard and many other rooms and reconstructed them in the mansion that became a museum. She insisted in her will that nothing ever be changed after her death.

That posed a challenge for trustees. So in recent years, a separate building was constructed and connected to the mansion museum. In the new building, we saw the Titian exhibition, which features a series of paintings that Titian created between 1551 and 1562 for King Philip II of Spain. The most famous of the series is a painting Gardner actually owned.

The scenes of violence against women from Roman Mythology have forced curators to jump through a few hoops. Read about that here.

I have included a photo of the fireplace in the Dutch Room, the room from which most of the art works were stolen, and 15th century artist Paolo Uccello’s “A Young Lady of Fashion.”

The sculpture of ballet feet was outside the Mass College of Art, where we sat for a while to chat with our friends without masks that day.

Later, when I was back home, I shot the formal garden of a house in town, thinking how much it reminded me of the Gardner courtyard.

Also in town, there was a neighborly Porchfest once again, having been canceled last year because of Covid.

For the red flower picture, I very carefully tried to exclude all the clutter around it, but there is still an orange traffic hat peeking through in back. The next shot features a creative Toyota bumper.

Finally, a few photos from Rhode Island — a wall of giant stones and a Blackstone Park Eagle Scout project that created an activity space for children.

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Once a year, they close off a block on Main Street.

Saturday was quite a joyful day in town. The weather was beautiful (not too humid), the farmers market boasted vegetable car races for kids as well as vegetable stalls for grownups, and the Covid-delayed library book sale made a record haul from book lovers overjoyed to be back.

So today seems like a good day to share pictures from those events and also from late summer in general. The beach plums are in New Shoreham. My neighbor knows the secret places for every kind of berry, and he goes out at dawn to pick them so Sandra can make jams and jellies. This year was a bust for blackberries, but Sandra expects to get several batches out of the beach plums.

Next comes one of the better Painted Rock designs from 2021, followed by a photo of seining for small fish and shrimp in Great Salt Pond.

From those scenes we turn to the lobster pots and breathtaking vistas of Lewis Farm. Then a view of Old Harbor boats and the National Hotel.

The windmills did not get much action this summer, partly because of the cost and partly because of repairs. That’s what I was told, anyway.

The fishing boat is docked in the active port of Galilee, the last stop in Rhode Island today.

Next we return to Massachusetts, where I want to share a bit regarding post-Covid life. First, a delicious Dutch pancake that I learned to make during the pandemic. Then, the story of my hair. My daughter-in-law loved how it grew out during the year and a half I stayed away from scissors, and she made beautiful braids for me. But in the end, I couldn’t manage long hair and resigned myself to easy care.

I was glad to see the Umbrella arts center still has a lot of opportunities to enjoy art outdoors. The Millbrook farm stand offers a different kind of art. Similarly, the colors of autumn sedum and lily-of-the-valley berries make an unstudied picture. The praying mantis is another work of art, busy going after the less welcome bugs in the yard.

Hello and good-bye, Happy Sunflower.

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Photo: Suzanne’s Mom.
At Verrill Farm’s Sunflower Day, lovers of pick-your-own sunflowers benefit both themselves and the pediatrics unit of the local hospital.

It’s only August, so I’ll have more summer photos down the road, but I decided to share what I have today. This collection includes both inspiration from nature and quirky things that just call out for a picture.

When you wait in line at the big grocery store in New Shoreham, RI, if your eyes wander to the ceiling, you will note the shop’s unusual version of a seahorse. More like a mermaid horse than a real seahorse. At the island’s smaller market, I was drawn to an antique cash register.

An artisan at a craft show converted watering cans and lanterns into bird houses — whether for actual birds or just for display, I don’t know.

In the woods near Ben Wohlberg‘s gallery, there was a wooden sculpture like a signpost.

The stove-in double-ender on display at the historical society is in need of some love and attention. This was historically the kind of boat island fishermen used.

Next is one of the many old, unused outhouses on the island, followed by bird nests, also unused. Then a picturesque outdoor fireplace by a stone wall.

Moving on to Massachusetts, Indian Pipes, giant tomatoes at Verrill Farm, and the farm’s version of social-distancing guidelines.

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Monarch caterpillar bulking up on milkweed in order to work a miracle.

Plenty of Monarch butterflies swooping around here lately, and I keep wondering if the hungry caterpillar I captured on video is one of them. I hope so. As much as I love birds, I hope they eat something else. We need our Monarchs.

In the first photo below, we see that something has been doing a good job of pollinating the sunflowers. Maybe Monarchs? Pollinators have also been working on the Black-Eyed Susans scattered through a field along the Greenway.

The Rose o’ Sharon and the Trumpet Vine are flourishing. So much beauty! I had to bring some of it indoors — Russian Sage and Potentilla.

Next are views of a lily pond, Fresh Pond, and a West Side New Shoreham beach, including long shadows from artists of various ages who work with stones. There’s also a shot of the Mohegan Bluffs.

And for good measure, another glamorous nature scene, but one that Caroline H. sent from Utah.

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New Shoreham, Rhode Island

Hello, Everyone. Here are a few summer photos. They mostly speak for themselves. The first eight are all of Rhode Island. As you can see, I’m fascinated by stone walls, lichen, and dirt roads.

Also, I took a shorebird hike with the Nature Conservancy and saw oyster catchers, among other cool birds. Our guide (with the telescope) taught Suzanne and John all about bird banding when they were young.

The Great Blue Heron here, however, is not the one I saw in Rhode Island but one that stood in the flooded path of Great Meadows National Wildlife Sanctuary in Massachusetts. After the heavy rains, I found I couldn’t walk there because I had no wading boots, but it was a treat to see people silently watching this bird, including a troop of little boys with bicycles. When I left, everyone was still waiting for the heron to decide what to do.

Also from Massachusetts, are photos of an agricultural lawn ornament, summer lilies and wild flowers, and Concord grapes in a vine honoring the founder of that variety, Ephraim Bull.

The last photo is neither from Rhode Island or Massachusetts but one Suzanne sent from the west coast of Sweden, where her family is renting an apartment on a horse farm near where they’re boating.

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I think I have enough June and early July photos for another round-up. Most of these were taken in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but I’m including two that Melita sent from Madrid, where (she reports with relief) foreign nationals have finally been able to get Covid vaccinations.

Working backwards from New Shoreham’s July 4th parade, I apologize that the banner is missing an apostrophe. But there was such a sense of relief and gratitude in the air, I think I can let that go. No one knows how long our relief will last — I for one, still put up a mask when I get close to strangers — but it sure felt good for one day.

Another shot from New Shoreham features a blue Lace-Cap Hydrangea. How I love that flower! It says July to me. Next, I have a photo of Great Salt Pond on a cloudy day when the waves on the ocean side of the sandbar were too rough for the grandchildren. Later on, I collaborated with them to identify the Red Admiral butterfly. My husband caught it flying around the house and let it go outdoors.

The gorgeous iris and peony from Madrid are followed by the papery bark of the river birch. Such a beautiful tree! And speaking of trees, please applaud the tree puzzle I finally finished. It took me almost six months. It was the hardest puzzle I ever did. But everyone said to do a puzzle in the pandemic.

The dry cleaner’s sign speaks for itself. It’s followed by the boat house on the Sudbury River, a kind of garter snake, more flowers, and shadows. I can never resist interesting shadows.

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