One Dog’s Tale

This is the story of Gaston – who originally belonged to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Baby Gaston (2)

Baby Gaston

 

He learned everything he was supposed to do and he was patient with the younger dogs.

 

 

…but this was a bit much. Really? That puppy thinks she’s the boss of me?

Sadie leads Gaston4671qk

Sadie leads Gaston ( who has exchanged his fuzzy pale coat for a curly red one)

 

 

There was just one problem….unlike the other young guide dogs Gaston didn’t really want to work.

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This is the dog who flunked guide dog school because he just wanted to play with his toys.

Hey look guys ..TOYS!  TOYS! pse.1664

Hey here are some more! toys pse_1669want that 1_pse.1665

That one, I want that one ..

Can I have one, can I can I Huh, huh huh?can I pse.1667

I’m not leaving unless I can have one. Just one?

And so Gaston lived lazily….happily, ever after….Gaston n bunny_886ps

 

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With Apologies to Georgia O’Keefe

I love to shoot close-ups of flowers – to look right into their centers a la     Georgia O Keefe.

A macro of a cymbidium

A Cymbidium – one of the easier orchids to grow.

 

These are baby-blue eyes – Nemophila menziesii, a cutie with its silvery anthers and delicate petals – the bifurcated stigma  (center) look like Martian eyes to me.

 

 

Calochortus venustus is a wild mariposa lily.

 

C.leichtinii-xcrp pse7-15 024Calochortus leichtlinii or white mariposa lily.  This is a good one to identify the flower parts : the center column is called the style and is topped by the a 3-part stigma ( the unseen ovary is at the bottom of the style), which in these lilies is surrounded by six white anthers – those are the male parts.

 

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Note the same characteristics: three petals, 3-part stigma  and six anthers. You guessed it: another mariposa lily – Calochortus luteus.

 

Calochortus tolmeii

One more wild lily is C. tolmeii – pussy ears. This is one of my favorite little (no more than ¾ inch across) wildflowers with its blue anthers and fuzzy petals  – it’s nickname is pussy ears.

And I’ll close with a close-up of a Christmas cactus flower.

I’ll save some more for another time…..

A Few Wildflowers

Here are a few photos of spring from parks in Marin County, California.

Delphinium – or larkspur (note the “spur” at the top).

 

Gilia capitata from Azalea Hill.

 

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Several views of Calochortus umbellatus – a small lily also known as the Oakland star tulip.

 

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Fritillaria sp. – or Mission bells from Mt. Tamalpais

 

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A few more lovelies

 

I came upon a small hill that was like a wild garden, covered with several species. Shown here are annual lupin on the left,  owl’s clover (out of focus) behind and the ubiquitous California poppy on the right.

A WILDFLOWER TRAIL ALONG THE YUBA RIVER

My husband and I drove up to California’s “Gold Country” last week, specifically to hike a trail along Buttermilk Bend on the South Yuba River.

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The dog  scared us by running downslope to swim.  I had visions of throwing myself into the raging water to save him, but he was smart enough to find a pool and avoid the rapids.

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The wildflowers were fantastic – both in the abundance of display and diversity of species.

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For over a mile you could hardly take a step without discovering something.

Even the pipevine swallowtail butterflies were having a field day – they were everywhere.

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The Cotswold Region

I have always wanted to visit the Cotswolds and see the gardens, cobblestones and thatched roof cottages. We did one better – we rented an enchanting cottage that must have been built 200 years ago.

lil orch cottage_pse0185

Orchard Cottage

The beams were all rough cut, the ceilings and upper floor sagged – all adding to its rustic charm. Turns out Graham Greene lived here in the 1930’s.  (We rented through Honeypot Cottages my contact was Andy Smith:  info@honeypotcottages.co.uk  They even left us a delicious homemade cake to have with tea when we arrived.)

Ancient stone birdbath

Once a wealthy producer of fine wool, the Cotswold countryside is dotted with sheep and crisscrossed with walking trails. Most roads are hardly wide enough to pass another car without slowing to a crawl – a hardship to people used to driving on the other side of the road! However Main Street in certain towns, like the one we stayed in, were built wide to accommodate the carts and animals coming to market.

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covered market at dusk

The picture above shows the old market (middle right) built in 1627.

Below is the bell tower of stately St James church built 500 yrs ago…and do you suppose this was a dipping trough (right foreground) for sheep?

Church Chipping_pse0179

 

All of the cottages and buildings throughout the region were built of the same honey-hued limestone and today it is required of new stone buildings.  Eight Bells Inn (below) dates from 14th century.ChippingC_pse0176

 

This is the oldest house in Chipping; note the wavy roofline. Back in the 1300’s, when the villagers lived in smoky, damp “wattle-and daub” huts, a  well-to-do wool merchant built this first stone home with chimneys, instead of just holes in the roof.

1300 house_pse0204

 

There are a number of pretty gardens in the area; we visited well-known Hidcote Manor with gardens divided into a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, each with its own character. The manor house was built in the 17th Century as a farm house; and the garden and lawns were begun in early 20th century by American Lawrence Johnston.

Hidcote garden pse_0190

Manor

rd border Hdct._pse5697

The red border

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HIdcote garden_pse0187

The Cotswold may have been the hi-lite of our trip to Great Britain – I guess we saved the best for our last week. Have you been there? Live there?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING To ALL

November arrives here with chilly rain signaling any Indian summer is over; incongruously, we usually have sun for Thanksgiving. Who is to question the weather gods when they play in our favor?

pistache_psm1688

Tom and I planted this pistache tree 20 years ago. It makes a wonderful shade tree in summer.

(Thanksgiving is a US holiday, originally a harvest festival.) The Pilgrims celebrated the “First Thanksgiving” in 1621 with the Indians who helped them survive in the New World.

Ginkgo_pse1690

This gingko was 7-ft tall when we moved in and perversely refused to grow more than a few inches in a decade. Its roots must have found the water table as it has made up for lost growth since then.

 

Wildlife at Horicon Marsh

I haven’t written a Nature post for awhile and couldn’t top Jet Eliot’s on the this marsh in Wisconsin, USA.

Jet Eliot

Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin

One of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States, Horicon Marsh offers a plethora of wildlife. Located in the southeastern quadrant of Wisconsin, U.S.A., and covering 32,000 acres (12,949 ha), the marsh is a critical rest stop for migrating birds.

Wikipedia Horicon Marsh. 

I love the solitude and beauty of this marsh, have written posts outlining how it was shaped: first by the glaciers, then by humans. But today I’m focusing just on the wildlife, because this is what I find so enchanting.

Previously written post: Horicon Marsh

Common Yellowthroat, Horicon Marsh

Painted Turtle, Horicon Marsh

Black Tern, Horicon Marsh

One of the most elegant terns on earth, the black tern migrates to North America from South America, and breeds at the Horicon Marsh, as well as other sites in northern U.S. and Canada.

Forster’s terns also breed at the Horicon Marsh.

Forster’s Tern, Horicon Marsh

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