03 August 2017

“Our B&B” …

    … as in our Bees & Blooms

It has been a wet spring and early summer here in Vermont.  But over the past couple of weeks the rain has abated a bit and the sun has shown itself for more than a few days now.  In short, an idyllic Vermont summer has come to us.  One result is that our mid-summer flowers have popped into bloom.  And with their blossoms have come many of our favorite 6-legged friends – the Pollinators.

Except for the more skittish butterflies, these flower-friendly insects are not easily frightened of close encounters with humans and their apparatuses.  And of course, the flowers don’t care either.  The only time they shrink from you is when the wind is at your back.  As such, one can get one’s camera and tripod quite close.  Taking advantage of the full sun and warm temperatures, I mounted my close-up lens on the camera and got out to the front yard for a few photos of this mutually beneficial inter-dependency between species.  There is a lesson here.

Photos of our B&B are at:  Pollinators & Flowers

One of our front gardens is a small Liatris bed.  Not just Liatris but Coneflowers are there as well.  But it really seems to be the Liatris that the bumble bees go after.  Standing among the Liatris, I marveled at all the life buzzing around me.  Something comforting sharing that space with all the active bees.  Not what I would consider a swarm but enough to be encouraged to know that not all bees have disappeared.  Yet.  And it is hoped that our pesticide free wildflower gardens will help them to truly thrive.

Our Liatris Bed

Around our yard we have other small plots planted with various, mostly native wildflowers and shrubs.  Part of this never-ending game to eliminate more and more of the lawn.  

Here are a couple more photos from around the yard.

Some of our Coneflowers.
Notice the freshly mowed lawn.
Wish it would stay that way.

Front Entrance "Coreopsis" and more garden.

We planted the Coreopsis.
The Violas came on their own
to add more color.

To note, I am not an entomologist.  I can usually tell a beetle from a butterfly, though not always a butterfly from a moth.  So if there are any insect specialists out there who can identify the pollinators in these photos, please let me know.

27 March 2017

Millstone Trial Winter Hike

A week ago, this past Sunday last, on 19 March, we decided to take advantage of the remaining snow from our March storm earlier in the week by going snowshoeing.  Well, Stephanie used her snowshoes; I just wore my hiking boots.

We went to the Barre Town Forest; known to us as the abandoned granite quarries area.  We hiked it last fall with the leaves in full “bloom”.  Now we got to see the leafless trees against white snow cover, grey granite, and a brilliant blue sky.

Great Picnic Place

It was great to be outside in the fresh air and to find a refuge in the natural world away from political alternative realities.  And one of the benefits, we did not have to worry about ticks.

Here are some photos from our ramble:   Millstone Quarry Winter

And a very belated
Happy Vernal Equinox

to all

20 February 2017

Keep the Resistance Alive

It has been a month and a few days since the Women’s March on Washington.  In that short time, so much has happened it seems.  Most of it not good.

But the Resistance is still strong, still growing. 

And in hopes of, in some small way, helping to sustain and nurture it, here is a reminder of what happened on 20 January 2017.
Click on this link for

Let us not forget, we are in for the long haul

Pennsylvania Ave Late Afternoon

16 October 2016

2016 Vermont Fall Colors

Last weekend we were at the Stowe Craft Fair and one of the vendors there told us they heard on a local TV station that this fall was one of the most spectacular.  I will take exception to that.  I don’t know if it is because of the drought we had this summer or other reasons, but the leaves lack that brilliant punch I have seen in past autumns.  Many leaves seem more content to turn yellow, shrivel up, and fall to the ground.  But having said that, there was (still is in some places) Technicolor out there.  Follow this link, 2016 Fall Colors, to see some photos from Indigenous Peoples' Day, aka Columbus Day, weekend of leaf-peeping with our friend mr bob.  They were all taken walking the Millstone Trails in the Barre Town Forest.

A mr bob Inspired Hat

A couple words about Millstone Trails.  Go Visit Them!  Even if you have already done so.  They change from season to season.  The Millstone Trails are a set of mountain biking and hiking trails through old, abandoned granite quarries.  Most of these quarries are now filled with water, giving them an extra quality.  And the piles of stone rubble, called Grout Piles, are rather amazing.

Grout Piles From A Distance

16 May 2016

Spring Greetings

Greetings from Vermont on this morning of the 16th of May.

And to think that our Ruby-throated Hummingbird made its first appearance yesterday.


01 May 2016


                What does one wear to test drive a $140,000 car?

                A Tesla T-Shirt
Me & My T-Shirt

Yesterday was our day to test drive a Tesla Model S.

We had gotten the invitation a few days ago and I quickly signed up for it.  Even here in the middle of Vermont, test drive slots were going fast.  In fact when we got to Topnotch Resort in Stowe, where the event occurred, we saw that they had three Teslas there.  Our personal concierge on our test drive said they had only planned on having two but the demand was great enough that they brought a third.

How did this start?  Apparently when Stephanie was at a conference a while back she made a side trip to a mall to look at shoes.  But when she got there, the first thing she saw was a Tesla showroom.  And of course had to go in, since we had already put in our deposit for a Tesla Model 3 (we were around number 270,000 of the 400,000 or so deposits there are now). While there she got me this Tesla T-Shirt and signed up for their mailing list, which resulted our being at Topnotch Resort on a beautiful Vermont spring day admiring the cars.

Especially the red one.  The one we drove.

The Rocket Red Tesla
Being Fueled

As for the test drive?  When I emailed Shayne we were going on a test drive he wrote back:

“Enjoy your test drive, and resist the temptation to buy a Model S”. 

The only response to that is:

                RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

Here are some photos from the outing:
        Tesla Test Drive

BTW:  The title for this post, Ludicrous, comes from a driving mode button that is standard on the high end Tesla.  The button is actually labeled Ludicrous.  It is a performance enhancing option, which allows the car to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds.  As opposed to the standard 3.2 seconds it takes in normal driving mode.  And Yes, the car was in Ludicrous mode when I drove it.  And though I did not experience the 0 to 60, going from 40 to 70 in a flash was enough.

25 September 2015

Trip To The White Mountains

Taking a short break from the Oxford Tales to bring you news and photos from our Labor Day trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Labor Day – Can’t believe that was already so long ago.

We left our home in Vermont on the Thursday before, in the early afternoon to give ourselves ample time to make it to our anniversary dinner reservation that we had at the Christmas Farm Inn restaurant in Jackson NH.

After checking in at the Inn at Ellis River B&B (highly recommended), we took a walk around the village of Jackson, which did not take very long at all, perhaps 7 minutes.  A purpose of the walk was to see how nice it might be to stroll to the restaurant that evening.  And while the walk there would be pleasant, walking back, downhill, on a small two lane road, with no shoulder, in the dark was probably not a good idea.  We drove.

Friday we started our 3 days of hikes.  We first went to see Arethusa Falls, walking there via the Bemis Brook Trail.  And while looking at the trail map in the parking lot we decided to make it a long loop hike, returning by way of the Frankenstein Cliffs trail.  Falls were great, the cliffs – well, I am not sure we really saw them, not even an Igor cliff.  But it was a very steep descent.  

We have learned to take photos of the
trail maps to help keep us on the right trail.
It usually helps.

Saturday and Sunday were more hiking to see running, flowing, spraying, dripping, falling and still water.  Notable water features we saw were at Diana’s Baths, Glen Ellis Falls, Champney Falls and its mini-canyon, and Jackson Falls.  Jackson Falls was the pleasant surprise.  It is just a short walk from the inn and it is not so much a falls but a series of cascades, with people strewn about taking in the evening serenity.

The "mini-canyon"
at Champney Falls

On Monday morning, we saw the last of the falling water for the trip and got a geology lesson on the effects of water versus rock.   We hiked up to Sabbaday Falls, one falls we wanted to make sure we did not miss.  What makes this falls quite interesting is the 90° turn it makes coming down the mountain.  It follows the path of least resistance and in this case that path is dictated by veins of basalt rock embedded in the granite.  Basalt being softer, it erodes faster and it becomes the channel the water follows.  So when the water came rushing down the mountain side and encountered the basalt perpendicular to its path, it made its sharp, 90% turn and continued on.

Explanation on the path of the river.

After marveling at the wonders of nature, we back-tracked a bit to take in Fells Pond and then started our drive back to VT taking the Kancamagus Highway west.  A longer route than the one we took to the Whites but a goal for me was to visit the Old Man of the Mountain Memorial.  For those of you familiar with New Hampshire, you probably know that the Old Man of the Mountain profile is an iconic New Hampshire image; it's found on state road signs and is the state’s official image.  And you may also know that in 2013 the profile crumbled and fell into Franconia Notch and, despite signs at the memorial exclaiming “He’s Back”, the profile is no more.

Some 30 years ago we had a yearly winter ritual to go skiing in the White Mountains.  And I remember on more than one occasion of nearly driving the car off the road on our way to Canon Mountain while staring out the side window waiting for those brief, few moments when the profile would show itself and pass in the window.  So stopping off at the memorial to pay my respects was something to be done.

But the real story of this blog is about photography.

I, of course, took my digital SLR and a few lenses with me to have photos of the trip for remembrances.   On the first hike of the first day I took a few photos and then the camera battery went dead.  I would say that it was in the “rush to pack” but it was really more not being prepared. I had left the spare battery and the charger back at home.  What was I to do?

I relied on my trusty backup – my smart phone camera.  I have had good experiences with it before – as a backup – but this was to be the first time using it as my primary and only camera.  And I got some good photos from it.  To see our New Hampshire Trip Photos, Click Here; most taken with my smart phone camera (exceptions noted).

BTW:  Here is one photo
I could not have done
with my SLR