Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Farmers Market - Western Maryland

Roadside farmer's produce stand
Driving from Deep Creek Lake to Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, we passed a roadside farmer's produce stand. On our return, we stopped for a look. The variety of squash and gourds were great, but it was the trailer of chrysanthemums the first caught our eyes on the outward leg of our day trip. The colors of the market stand complemented those of the leaves on the trees that we saw around western Maryland. The four-day-weekend weather was
perfect - we couldn't have timed it any better. The tree-covered 
Assorted autumn harvest
mountains were spectacular - tinged in yellow, gold, bronze, red, but still a slight touch of green - the autumn colors were at their peak once we got to Garrett County - before that, the change was just beginning. The leaves on the rows of corn were tan, with the stalks holding ears waiting to be harvested. The soybeans were the same, the rows of pods along the stems easy to see because the leaves had already been shed - maybe an earlier frost in the weeks before. The corn, soybeans, and alfalfa were planted in alternating blocks across the slopes of the hills to  keep the soil from washing away under the seasonal rains. Our drive back was leisurely, compared to the anxious ride to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania
Carmel Cove Inn
near the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece - we would have missed the turn if we wouldn't have stopped at a corner gas station and market for coffee and a pit stop. We discovered the morning light makes for perfect sightseeing of the autumn tree colors - our return trip was not as spectacular in the late afternoon. It was funny how we kept watching for the produce stand, and as it turned out, it was only a few miles from McHenry on the lake where we began that morning. A quick stop, photographs, looking around, and we were off again - our last evening in eastern Maryland where the state boundaries are tucked in between West Virginia and Pennsylvania - tucked in like we would be in our bed back at our B&B that night - the Carmel Cove Inn.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

One Flew Over The Parrot's Nest

Parrots in flight - free on their own
There is something surreal when birding in a wildlife preserve that holds specimens of native wildlife in cages while the birds fly freely overhead. These two pictures of Leopardus geoffroyi - a Geoffroy's Cat - capture the life-behind-bars of this native cat to lower South America. My hosts were kind to provide me the opportunity to see wildlife native to Argentina, while at the same time, I could view many native birds as well - free of the confines of the cages below them. For me, it was great to see entire flocks of parrots fly through the preserve - what motivated them to flock, I don't know.

Leopardus geoffroyi is primarily nocturnal, but has been seen hunting at dawn and dusk. It likes water, and is an avid swimmer. Secretive and solitary, it spends much of its time in the trees. These cats have been known to sleep and mate in the trees. They are quite agile, and have even been known to walk on the underside of a branch. Males and
Leopardus geoffroyi
females do not interact much, other than to mate. Females home ranges are about 2.5 square km. Males territories may be as much as three times the size of females. Female ranges may overlap each other, as well as males ranges. Although male ranges may overlap the females ranges, they do not overlap other males. They have a density of about 1.2 individuals per ten square km. Most people are not scared of this small cat, but should be, because it is very aggressive, and has never been truly domesticated. Geoffroy's Cat  is probably the most common wild cat in South America. It is about the size of a domestic cat. Its fur has black spots, but the background color varies from region to region; in the north, a brownish yellow coat is most common. Farther south, its coat are grayish. Melanism is quite common both in the wild and in captivity.

Geoffroy's Cat primarily preys on rodents, small lizards, insects, and occasionally frogs and fish; it is at the top of the food chain. Although it appears to be plentiful, some conservationists are concerned because Geoffroy's Cat is hunted extensively for its pelt. Geoffroy's Cat weighs
Geoffroy's Cat
only about 4-8 pounds and has a long tail and long legs. There have been attempts to breed this cat with domestic cats, but with very little success. Pregnant females appear to take extra care in choosing where they give birth to their kittens. Geoffroy's Cat kittens develop very quickly and at about 6 weeks they are fully mobile. The species inhabits the Andes, Pampas (scrubby forest parts), and Gran Chaco landscape. This cat is named after the 19th century French zoologist Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire who identified it as a different species when he studied his work as a professor of zoology in Paris, France. (1)
(1) Taken from the Website

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Montpelier - Over the Shoulder

Our latest trip to Montpelier - the third in twelve months - the place seemed familiar but still new. With each visit, the progress with restoration of the mansion's interiors is noticeable - the wall
Map of grounds at Montpelier
coverings are almost complete, more and more original pieces of Madison furniture have been acquired, so the historic narrative continues to expand. I didn't see it, but there is also the Grills Gallery that contains various artifacts of the Madison era on the estate. Jan and her sister Nancy came across it while Jim and I were wandering the grounds after the tour of the mansion. I guess this means there will have to be a fourth trip soon so I can see the displays. Also, with having a little familiarity with the layout of the estate, I have begun to know what I want to visit again, and am beginning to look for specific scenes and settings - both looking ahead, and over my shoulder.

Madison Temple view
The Temple is tucked away behind trees to the northwest of the Mansion. The Temple has lofty history as a place for meditation about the way to structure our government, but beneath it was the utilitarian purpose as an ice house beneath.
The library windown
Once having walked out across the lawn towards the Temple, looking back framed by the trees is a view of the house - the lighted northwest corner window being the library where Madison drafted our constitution: the Constitution of the United States.

Reminder of our relative smallness
Walking out the back of the house before passing through the garden gate, a quick look back at the mansion that is not as cleanly presented as the from the front. The life-size statue (1) of the Madison's is dwarfed by the house and landscape.

Lazy lion guard
One of a pair of lions that guard the steps leading from the upper garden near the entrance along the formal brick path lined by boxwood hedges down into the heart of the grounds that are encircled by a large brick wall and the surrounding woods. Northern Mockingbirds fly their swooping flight paths with the white patches on the tops of their wings displayed like the insignias on Spitfire fighter planes. Various hardscape are placed throughout, with many beds that are maintained and which catch your eyes' attention.

A look back at the garden exit
What seem like great walls from inside the garden - on the outside are dwarfed by the woods that are grounded in the hills founded on the earth. Two worlds: one formal, the other natural. The path leading away becomes less consequential the further we walk.

Woods on the hill
As we walked further from the garden on the path, the surrounding grounds seemed even more tranquil late in the day - we hadn't arrive until after 3:00 PM Sunday afternoon, but that added to the scale of the place in the Virginia countryside.

Timeless landscape
Montpelier is a wonderful place to visit, more than once - the setting untouched by time. Maybe that is what those who chose this site meant to do when they looked at the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west - without looking back over their shoulders.


James and Dolley Madison
(1)  The statue of the Madison's behind their mansion. Regardless of their size in perspective to the Virginia landscape around them, both were giants as Statesman/President and First Lady of our country. I was struck by their great contribution during the first visit to Montpelier last year. The tree beside them, the garden gate in the distance behind - this photograph was taken last spring, the second trip to Montpelier in the last twelve months.

Ellie Bogardus - French Connection

I received a reply from Mathias Bonnard to an earlier blog: Ellie Bogardus - Exterior/Interior Art. He happened onto the blog and wrote that his father and Ellie were married sixty years ago and lived in France in a cottage on the ocean. (2) The elder Bonnard was a
Voici SAM, la petite souris des dents...
draftsman and artist, and also worked in Los Angeles with Ellie on the "Peanuts, Charlie Brown and Snoopy cartoon in 60's." The French artistic connection runs deep - Mathias wrote that he lives in Nancy and is a draftsman for cartoons, video games, and comic books. He offered to send me more information about Ellie and images of paintings his father has - that would help add to the scant background that I have as mentioned in an even earlier blog - but his email address didn't work. In doing some searching on the Web to find a way to reply to Mathias, I found a blog of fanciful illustrations and animations by Justine Bonnard. Mathias was credited as the Directeur Artistique for the Mimik Chirerik blog. I assume Justine is his daughter - a third generation of cartoon illustrators. (1) The search continues.
(1) I have since found out that Justine is Mathias' sister - regardless, cartoon artistry runs in that family. (October 17, 2011 AM)

(2) Mathias wrote to me today, and sent the corrections in the comment to this blog. Ellie and his father were married in the 1960's and lived in the house in Cambria (not at the ocean in France). (October 17, 2011 PM)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Old Dog - Old Tricks

Moyer - at 49 years old

It can be common-place for pitchers - throw, injure, recover, throw, injure, recover.... Jamie Moyer is up to his old tricks. My favorite pitcher of all time - on his quest for another comeback.

Jamie Moyer Starts Big League Comeback

Former Philadelphia Phillies star Jamie Moyer is in Clearwater attempting to the near-impossible: return to the big league at the age of 49 after surgery.

Moyer had Tommy John surgery in December to repair ligament damage. He is not under contract to the Phillies but Moyer is working with the Phillies and their team doctors, with Ruben Amaro’s permission, to rehab.

Moyer’s goal is to make it to spring training and make the 25-man roster of a major league team. "We're providing him our space in Clearwater and our expertise," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told

Moyer grew up in Sellersville, Pa., and went to St. Joseph’s before starting a 24-season career in the majors.

If Moyer does come back, he would be the second-oldest pitcher in major league history to pitch on a regular basis.
Published : Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011, 1:41 PM EDT