Thursday, June 28, 2012

Water and Air

A friend of my cousins owns a sailboat docked in Lake Cuyuga, and he had offered when we arrived to take us out sailing.  The girls were both thrilled and terrified at the prospect, but it came up every day and in every lull in every day - are we going sailing today? Is it today?  When we finally determined the day, it was windy - more than leaves-moving-on-the-trees windy - and B. was really set on not scaring the pants off the girls, but giving them a great experience out on the water.  I could tell he was hesitant, trying to read them and the day, so we all sat on the boat for a while, just talking about what it would be like out on the open water.

Then we got distracted, trying to save a very nice hat from a very wet fate. No luck.

Then, while Ani ran circles around the deck of the boat, we deliberated a bit more, and we took a quick walk down to where we could see the boats already out on the water, and B. determined it was not as choppy as he'd thought and Eliza determined that she had enough courage to summon for the adventure, and we were off.

It was heavenly. Blissful. I got to see one girl overcome some serious nerves and another discover that she was fearless on a boat, both exhilarating feelings.

We all got to help - the girls managed the rudder and stayed out of the way of the lines, and cousin J got to try her hand at managing the sail.


It was such rush, and so peaceful, all at the same time.

Thank you, B! It was a dream of a day that we won't forget.
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tillandsia bulbosa
I fell in love while we were in Ithaca. For reals, as Ani would say.  With epiphytes.

tillandsia medusa

Known as "air plants" epiphytes don't require dirt for nutrition, and only need to be soaked in water once or twice a week and set somewhere to dry and flourish.  In the wild they would grow in the crook of a tree or on a branch.  They are so animate, so full of character, that I was smitten several times during our visit.  We had one already - Ani's best friend Ari gave it to her a week before we left - and we ran into them a few more times during our stay, until finally my cousin took me to a little greenhouse where I could select one several of my very own.

tillandsia tricolor

the heavenly epiphyte corner
 What a beautiful little place - A New Leaf - with a friendly owner who told us lots of stories about the critters he finds around his greenhouse, including smooth green snakes and mice nesting right amongst his pots.  

In addition to the epiphytes, there were many orchids, each so uniquely beautiful.

is it a wasp? is it a flower?
 A poor dutchman's pipe had lost one of its blooms, and the owner gave it to Ani to have and investigate.

She pried it open and it was like opening the shell of a sea creature...

So wonderful.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We love Ithaca, Part II

This chronicling of our trip is going to take me weeks, but it was such a rich, packed time that I am determined to get it all out there, for our own remembrance as much as for sharing!  Bear with me, or skip it all; it will be interspersed with the Here and Now as best I can.  So - one of the highlights of the trip for me was the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the surrounding Sapsucker Woods. Any time I have a question about identifying a bird or a bird call, I end up at the Cornell Lab of O. website, where they have hundreds of calls cataloged, and so much great information about bird identification and citizen science.  Going there was a little exciting for me...So, my cousin CB suggested we meet there in the morning (I believe he asked, "hey, does anyone ever picnic for breakfast??" The answer to which was "We'll bring the bagels and the strawberries, see you there at 8:30?") and we ate our bagels while watching this huge Great Blue Heron nest, filled with five "babies" (who, incidentally, have started to fledge, if you've been watching the Heron Cam!).  It's hard to see how scruffy and awkward they were in these photos, but they are hilarious and beautiful to watch. The parents seemed eager to demonstrate flapping, and did many cruise-by's, as well as perch nearby and flap like mad.  Any time either parent flew to the nest the babies let loose with loud clacking of their beaks!

five babies
parent on the branch
 This is also when we discovered that Ani has a natural ability with the binocs - she was able to pick out the nest, a frog, a swimming turtle...she wore this huge pair during the whole walk around the pond.

Checking out the muck
 The inside of the lab is just as interesting, but most of that will have to wait for our second visit...

python skeleton
hummingbird case

We were visiting the week before my cousin J was to head off to Ethiopia, and while I deal with leaving on a trip by cleaning and cleaning and cleaning, she seems to approach it by making a list of all of the craftiness she's been putting off and trying to accomplish it all by the day of departure.  I was impressed with what she managed to finish while we were there, and her crafty mode worked well for all of us to have a few hours of downtime here and there.

Lake Cuyuga, while really cold, was a relief on a 95 degree day, and the girls waded and wallowed and then figured out how to skip stones with all of those beautifully flat, smooth pebbles...three skips, seven skips...such an accomplishment on a summer's day.

Monday, June 25, 2012


It was lovely having grandparents here last week, to enjoy summer days and a birthday and each others' company. 

One beautiful morning while Ani stayed home sick with Dan, we went to the garden for an hour of weeding. That's a lot of weeding for three adults and one child. It brought us leaps and bounds from where we were, thick in mugwort and johnson grass, to cleared pathways.

It was also just nice to be home. Nothing like going away for 10 days to make home feel sweeter, no matter where you've just been.

Thank you for coming to see us! We love you!

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Saturday evening we had a celebratory potluck for Eliza's birthday, and it was wacky and delicious and so much fun.  She wanted to play games, and our friends brought her a Mexican Loteria, which is basically bingo, in Spanish.  Dan had looked up some old classics and took the kids and a few adults across the street to the school to play on the grass there, and they ran like mad for hours.

What time is it, Mr. Wolf?

It is one of the things I love most about my husband - at any gathering, you will find that he is one of the very few adults who joins the kids, willing to jump into a game for a while, unwilling to let them have all the fun.

carrot cake! happy happy happy!
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And then there was Sunday; a day made for golf. And conversation. And coffee.

Lizard demonstrates the fancy new ball washer - "Par Aide"

I don't know - with a new bench and a ball washer, things are getting mighty fancy over there in the woods.

So, yes. Home.  Good. And next up is some more Ithaca...