My beauty is inside

His unwavering gaze and decidedly un-Kermit like expression may not make him a beauty contest winner, but this gray tree frog is, after all, beautiful for what he is.

STEELY GAZE — Gray tree frog enjoys the cool hose on a very hot day in the suburban Ferndale yard. (Photo illustration)
COMPOSITION IN GRAY AND BLACK — Gray tree frog right in the middle of the coils of hose.

Axis mundi

Throughout the ages, trees been powerful cosmological symbols. Any why not? Their feet extend deep into the soil, while their branches soar into the sky.

Many cultures, regardless of continent or hemisphere, saw trees as the bridge between the sacred and the profane.  Ancient Celts and Greeks made sacred certain groves. The Norse envisioned the tree Yggdrasil as  holding the universe and its worlds in place. Trees play a significant role in Judeo-Christian beliefs:  the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis,  to the cedars in Ezekiel’s prophecy (17:22-24), and the role the tree plays in the crucifixion of the Christ.

The trees below seemed a modern echo of the axis mundi — a central pillar holding up the roof of the sky, connecting, yet separating earth and sky, ensuring heaven’s light shines down to the earthbound.

CONNECTION — The tree is a symbol, a bridge from earth to heavens. Architects thoughtfully designed spaces for the trees to reach their arms upward. These are near the south entrance of the Minnesota Zoo.


We are so honored to have been nominated for two blogging awards by and, two truly outstanding blogs. We’re still amazed and perpetually surprised that people stop and read, but are glad to be in a blogging community that offers so much inspiration, in so many ways.

Thanks to Windagainstcurrent for the nominating us for the Illuminating Blogger Award and to Biltrix, who also nominated us for that and the One Lovely Blogger honor.


The Illuminating Blogger Award asks the honoree to share one random thing about the blogger, and nominate five others.

Random thing:  Not very good at driving a stick shift.

Would like to nominate both Biltrix and Windagainstcurrent for the Illuminating award, but someone got to them first!  The five nominees are:

The One Lovely Blogger Award asks that the blogger to offer seven random things. Here goes:

  • Loves sailing.
  • Hasn’t finished that master’s thesis yet.
  • Hope to one day to shoot and post good photos of birds, especially the neighborhood wild turkeys.
  • Cradle Catholic.
  • Has tried foods made with insects and acorns.
  • Uses Mac and PC.
  • Doesn’t know very much about much, but sure wants to learn.

Finally, we’d like to thank everyone who comes to visit. We were tickled to hit the 10,000 hit milestone recently and are grateful to you all.

Weekly photo challenge: Create

This week’s challenge, “create,” has been a frustrating one. What to post? A thousand times the question was asked and a thousand times not even an echo replied. It’s terribly ironic considering my livelihood depends on creativity.

However, one of this week’s challenge responses, at lifebymagdalene, set off a flash of inspiration. My Dad! Eighty years young, Dad has been painting and drawing all his life. He has always inspired me with his artwork, whether a complex painting of a naval battle or a quick pencil sketch of Broadway Joe Namath for me to color with my broken crayons. I’d always aspired to his level of skill and talent.

And if any more inspiration was needed, my Dad is blind, his vision stolen by macular degeneration.

He continues, each week, to challenge himself  in art sessions at the Braille Institute. Some of his works:

BRIDGE OF TRANQUILITY — A painting from 2007.
BAMBOO — A watercolor from 2005.

Be sure to check out all the responses for the weekly photo challenge at:

Some favs from this week:

Minnesota nice

Far from being homogenous, America is divided by unique regional behaviors such as “Southern hospitality,” or further north, “Minnesota Nice.”

BE NICE — Even the highway signs ask you to take turns. This one was posted near road construction on Minnesota Highway 13 near Eagann.  Minnesot’ns say there are only two seasons of the year: winter and road construction. 




The mercury is within a hair’s breadth of the century mark here in the Land of Heat and Humidity.  Nothing like some underwater shots from the tropical tank at the Minnesota Zoo to create the illusion of cool.

SEEING DOUBLE — Soft shell turtle reflects under the water’s surface.
UNDERWATER BLUES — Cool blue fish cruises the big tank. (OK, failed to pay attention to the educational fish ID chart. Sorry.)
RUSH HOUR — Looks like the morning commute into NYC.
SHARK — Spotted shark slides through the landscape.

Falling to earth

Some avian treasures fell to earth, waiting to be discovered in the office parking lot before the work day began.

BROKEN — This half of a robin’s egg was sitting in office driveway. Guessing from the small peck hole at the top and the lack of yolk on the pavement that this was was the castoff from a hatching and not the leavings of a raccoon’s breakfast.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?– Like the rare tossed coin that falls neither heads or tails, this feather’s shaft managed to find a crack in the parking lot and land upright.

Shed my skin

We often peer down from the deck, in hopes of catching a glimpse our under-porch neighbors enjoying the sun. While we didn’t see our serpentine neighbors today, we did find they’d left us yet another beautiful gift.  And unlike last month’s find, this summer solstice present was complete, including head, eye scales and lower jaw. The former owner was much more slender and quite a bit longer: 6 feet and counting.

EMPTY HEADED — Where our serpent friend left his head.
MEASURING UP — The snake skin against the tape measure. The tail ends past the 6-foot mark on this tape measure.