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pangolin

back when reading the kids to sleep involved picking any book about any kind of animal in the world, we read a lot about the odd extremes of the animal kingdom, because those are what kids want to know about–the biggest, the meanest, the ugliest, the tiniest, the grossest, and the most unusual. i realize as i look at this protea flower that it reminds me in every way except its color, of a pangolin, which is an animal i haven’t thought about much lately, now that eva is reading steinbeck for english class instead of “animals of the rain forest” picture books, and joe . . . well . . . joe is probably still reading about pangolins at night.

protea flower

bought at a saint paul, minnesota florist; native to south africa

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hackberry-mjh
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three-plus

we worked very hard to have joseph, our number two child. it was a tough stretch and one we will be glad not to live through again. he’s eleven now, caught between the innocent enthusiasm of boyhood and the guardedness of adolescence. last night he got sucked in by the internet for an evening and, boy-like, forgot to get around to his homework project. then, adolescent-like, he told a lie about it. the latter is as close to a cardinal sin as we have in our family, and i tried really hard to be mad at him. but part of me will always live in that time before him, when we were three–mary jo, steve and eva. a time when joseph was a hazy shape in the background of our lives that we couldn’t seem to bring into focus. a time when we got very close to giving up hope. all i could think last night, as i halfheartedly scolded him for his behavior, was how happy i was to have him around to tell boyish fibs.

hackberry branches in winter

lake phalen, saint paul, minnesota

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  1. Jackie says:

    Big Love gives great perspective! xo

  2. Carol Sommers says:

    Beautiful.

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starfish-closeup
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spring break fever

i feel about this white. and about this dry. i need a week of 95 degrees and 95% humidity. and a foo-foo drink.

white finger starfish

florida

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  1. Elaine says:

    This is amazing – it almost doesn’t look real – the indentations are diamond like – so beautiful.

  2. Manisha says:

    I hope you get to the sun soon! I am of South Asian descent so my skin is naturally dark, but even I feel better after getting tanned a bit during our recent trip to FL.

  3. That starfish photo is amazingly beautiful.
    Totally with you on the pasty, dry skin at this point of winter. Mine is itchy too! Ugh.

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k dot

this is the big frozen period at the end of the iconic teenage text message called “K Dot.” It’s when you end a text conversation coldly, like this: “K.” It says that you emphatically have nothing further to say, because you are exasperated with your correspondent. It means, “End of conversation,” with an implication that the recipient of the K Dot has been, at best, lame, and at worst, infuriating. we have a sixteen year old in the house. we have received quite a number of K Dots over the last several months, both verbal and textual. we have come to accept that we are, as parents, both lame and infuriating. we are, on the one hand, exasperated ourselves at being bossed around by a creature whose diapers we were changing not long ago, and on the other hand, charmed at the pluck of our assertive daughter, as she builds the walls of her adult self on the foundation of a succession of boundary-setting K Dots.

snowball

saint paul, minnesota

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organic shelving

ok people. this is what you get when in addition to groceries, laundry, lunch, dinner and still blog, i am also asked to put together several collections of my images sorted by color. you get bracket fungus. from a stump. next to my driveway. i’m phoning this one in. can you hear me now?

bracket fungus

saint paul, minnesota

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oversight

our household has a busy season and a slow season. this is our busy season. my husband steve is a tax guy. from mid-january to late april, he will put in nearly a year’s worth of work, spending seven days a week down in his office. but it buys him six months off (mostly) during the remainder of the year. and he likes that bargain. the kids add some intensive piano practice to their homework this time of year, because this also happens to be the six-week season of a state-wide piano competition (both kids are finalists!). normally, all this busyness works, because i have flexibility and can pitch in to make sure all the i’s get dotted and all the t’s get crossed. but this week, the cold weather handed us a frozen boiler pipe in one of our rental properties in minneapolis. steve will be dealing with that by text and email tomorrow, between and among his seven tax appointments. and i have an extra agenda item too. remember that little local company i mentioned a few weeks ago? well, i have been a busy beaver putting materials together for them at their request. i deliver my first milestone on monday. and boy oh boy am i looking forward to a little down time and a return to routine. anyway, as a result of all the reviewing of my portfolio i have been doing, i ran across this junco wing photo i never published before.  “one from the cutting room floor” they call it on instagram.

junco wing

saint paul, minnesota

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coyote-tail-mjh
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insulation

insulation is just a fancy way of making air stand still. in minnesota one of the concepts you grow up knowing about is r value. windows, doors, fiberglass insulation, down jackets, all have an r value, meaning a particular resistance to the infiltration of heat or cold. when air is moving, it has almost no r value. that’s why wind feels so cold. trapped air, on the other hand, has the kind of r value that can keep you warm through the coldest night. it’s something you think a lot about when you live in minnesota with a short haired dog, a small flock of fluffy chickens, a newly balding husband, and 30 below windchill blowing in across turtle lake. the coyote in this photo trapped a lot of air inside that wiry fur. it kept him warm through several winters, until something blew in from highway 88 that couldn’t be resisted with r value.

coyote tail

minneapolis, minnesota

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shake your tail feather

these elegant locks are dangling from an egret breeding plume–the delicate, showy feathers egrets and herons grow to attract a mate when breeding season comes upon them. i wonder if they spend as much time admiring their reflections in still shallow waters as our daughter, who is technically, I suppose, approaching breeding season, spends looking at herself sideways in the bathroom mirror, checking out her own breeding plumage.

egret feather

turtle lake, saint paul, minnesota

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sometimes we get things right

i pick up feathers when i find them. i have a nice collection now. this photo is a just a sampling. i happen to live in the community that i grew up in. i was a tomboy. i spent hours upon hours outdoors. building forts and generally staying out from under the surveillance of adults. i can say with certainty that we didn’t have any of the large birds i see so abundantly today–no turkeys, no owls, few hawks, few herons, few pheasant, and believe it or not, hardly any geese. and absolutely for sure, no swans. and here we are, 40 years later, and these birds are regular and visible residents and neighbors. about 40 years ago or so, the US finally banned the use of DDT. i wonder…

found feathers from large birds: goose, eagle, hawk, owl, fowl, pheasant, heron, turkey

all from minnesota except the fowl (pintade) feather which is from france

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  1. Kerry says:

    this is great news…proof in the pudding for sure.
    I also have a collection of feathers. They are like little gifts from the wild.

  2. A good book for you if you haven’t read it: WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME: ON CREATIVITY AND SLOWING DOWN by Christian McEwen. Her uncle is Ron McEwen, wonderful artist and musician. She talks about “nature deficit” in today’s youngsters. I so enjoy your blog.

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wet flies

i was trying to write about a flicker wing that sort of disintegrated on me this week, and the scattered parts found their way into several different photos. i was struggling to describe this in an interesting way, when steve walked by my computer and said, “hmm. wet flies.”  by which he means not drowned insects, but trout lures. there is no open water anywhere around us. the windchill is 19 below right now. he spent all day in his office, looking out the window while his tax clients handed him w-2s and 1099s. now i know where his mind was.

flicker feathers

saint paul, minnesota

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