Thursday, August 31, 2006

It Does Appear That We Have Become a Very Litigious Society

The dueling Yellow Pages both arrived within a few days of each other recently; the Yellow Book and the Verizon Yellow Pages.

Both are slavered with ads, of course, but one had a 3-by-3-inch square refrigerator magnet loose-glued to its cover. It features a smiling Kelly Gelof under the large red question -- INJURED? -- and phone numbers for several offices of the law firm Tunnell & Raysor.

I can't blame Tunnell & Raysor for advertising their services. And there's nothing at all wrong with the services they offer. I just can't help wondering what tale our refrigerator magnets tell about us.

Toilet fouled? Here's the plumber's number.

Lights flickering? Call the electrician?

Flue feeling sooty? Dial-a-chimney sweep.

Auto accident? Wrongful death? Personal injury? Call Kelly!
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More Blog Updates

I'm home from work today, at least for part of the day. With Colleen already in school, and Karen at pre-school-year in-service days at her school, we are left with Christina, who doesn't start her school year until next week and is too young to stay at home alone all day. Several days this week, she stayed with a somewhat older friend, but that friend started Academic Challenge today and so is off at Delaware Tech for the day.

So I have taken a vacation day. I'll drag poor Christina into the office at mid-day, though. I have a meeting that I can't miss. So we'll hit Dover for some shopping, a lunch in the "big city," my meeting, and whatever else strikes our fancy this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I have an hour free to play with Blogger and other toys.

I have added another link-roll to the sidebar. Recent Items of Interest is a short list of things I've found on-line that I wanted to highlight, but may not have a chance to blog about.

I have also added two links to my on-line photo collections. One is to my main flickr page which has my photos listed. The other is to the mapped presentation.

I imagine that this sort of fiddling, and golf, and photo-wandering, are what my retirement may be like.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogroll Changes

I've been meaning to make some changes to how I maintain and publish my blogroll. I finally went for it this evening.

I have been using BlogRolling, which is a handy little service. I found it limiting though. I wanted to start classifying blogs and linking to them by type. That would have required the paid upgrade on BlogRolling. Sometimes I'm just cheap.

Meanwhile, I've been playing more and more with and getting excited about "tagging." There are some easy little javascript ways to post lists of tagged items from to your blog.

This evening, I went through my blogroll and tagged all of the blogs I link to with appropriate tags that let me create collections of Blogs in General, Delaware News Blogs, and political blogs On the Left and On the Right.

I think almost everything I had listed is still there. I did drop a few that are dormant or have lost my interest. Notably I have left Delaware Views Journal off the list. This blog is remarkable for never having had any content at all. I got tired of waiting.

Have a look. Let me know if anything looks wrong.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And Now: High School

Colleen, First Day of High School, 8/28/06Colleen started high school this week. Here's her traditional "First Day of School" photo; the first in a few years without Christina at her side. Christina starts her journey through fifth grade next week. We'll take her "First Day" picture then.

Colleen is now going to Sussex Technical High School. It started as a vocational/technical school, but has become one of the better academic schools in our area. We think it will work well for her.

Though school started yesterday, Colleen has been going to the school for a few weeks now. She had a two-week band camp to get acquainted with the school, as well as two "freshman days." She's playing bass in the Tech marching band.

Being part of that group, which includes kids from all grades, has been a great help. She is already part of a crowd.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Update: Where the Photos Are

I suppose I should have seen this coming. Today, flickr added its own geotagging and photo mapping tool, using the Yahoo Maps API. It's a nice tool; they've made it quite easy to add location to the attribute data for ones photos.

I think this will replace, for me, the tool that I mentioned last week. It is simply more integrated into flickr. I was able to quickly import the geotags that I had individually added to some of my photos and easily add more photos to my flickr map.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Meet Mother Nature

We found ourselves a bit closer to nature in our otherwise suburban lives today.

Mantis 6This morning, I stopped at a WaWa for gas. After I started the pump, I walked to the front of the car to gaze out on the traffic on Route 113. When I turned back toward the car, I was startled by a bright green Praying Mantis posed on the newly red-painted bollard that's there to keep us from driving into the gas pumps.

I had to get out my camera and take a few pictures. It's not the first time I've found myself taking photos while pumping gas.

DeerThis afternoon, just after Colleen got home from school, a deer wandered through the neighborhood. Karen and the girls watched as it crossed our front yard. Colleen took this photo.

We've had deer in the neighborhood before, and I used to see a fox running around when we first moved here and there were only a few houses. But I hadn't seen anything like that for the last ten years or so.

A week or so back, a neighbor called one afternoon to tell Karen that a deer was headed through the back yard. It was gone by the time Karen got to the window.

I think this is due to the increasing development of the fields and farms in the around Lewes. Habitat is shrinking.
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Insert Gallic Shrug Here

Driving home this afternoon, I passed a small flatbed truck from Grand Rental Station. Painted on the side in black block letters: "NOT FOR HIRE."

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Too Loud? Or Too Sensitive?

This evening, we were waiting outside Big Fish Grill (a favorite restaurant) when a motorcyclist pulled out of the parking lot and headed south on Route One past the restaurant.

He, or she, was on a Harley Davidson. It had that distinctive, guttural roar. As it went past a white SUV with New York Plates, the rider shifted gears with an engine rev that set off the SUV's car-alarm.

We all just stood and stared as the motorcycle grumbled down the road and the white SUV whooped and wailed.

We were just about to head in and see if the restaurant staff could make an announcement. That's when the alarm stopped.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where the Photos Are

Here's a new toy that appeals both to my avocation and to my occupation. A new google/flickr mash-up called offers a way to present photos in a map format, based on latitude and longitude tags.

This photo of the fountain in the Circle in Georgetown, for example, was taken at latitude 38.690032 and longitude -75.385909.

I've been working through some of my photos and adding location tags. I'll try to keep that up.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tenth Golf Game of 2006

Par 4I played 18 holes at Old Landing Golf Course Sunday morning with Andy Southmayd and Sandy Schenck. It was a cool morning, cloudy, with a slight breeze. Rather a pleasant round, with good pace of play ahead of us, and no one piling up behind.

It was fun to put together my "home" golf buddy and my "work" golf buddy. We've all played together before, and I think this grouping works well. Sandy and Andy are closer to each other in skill. Both are helpful golf teachers as I struggle along.

I think both Andy and Sandy broke 100. I don't recall Sandy's final score, but Andy's 91 was, he says, a personal best. My 105 may have been mine. I thought I had a shot at breaking 100 when we made the turn, but I blew up on several holes on the back 9.

Alignment?We drove our round. I must admit that Cart 20 gave me some worries. I noticed as we pulled away from the first tee that it had a tendency to slide around; the steering was loose and slushy.

I took a closer look and found that the left front wheel appears to be out of alignment. It made the driving fun and adventurous.

It was a good round. We had fun. There were some great shots and some amusing miss-hits. I had a par or two and at least one shot at a birdie (lipped-out).

I was particularly pleased with how I finished. After flubbing and flailing along on 16 and 17, I hit a solid drive off the 18th tee, and a decent second shot to lay-up to the water on the par-5. I cleared the wide water to put my third just over the green. Unfortunately, I put that third shot into a green-side bunker.

I hate sand. It took me two to get out and two putts to get in the hole. Ah well.
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble.... A Book Meme

Annavenger says I gotta....

1. One book that changed your life: The Tin Drum. I've been thinking about this book again, perhaps because the author, Gunter Grass, has been in the news recently. I read this in high school, after my writing teacher suggested it. It opened up a new world of literature for me; bringing me to international writing and to writing that breaks the rules of reality.

2. One book that you've read more than once: A Soldier of the Great War. This is a wonderful book by Mark Helprin. I'’ve mentioned it here before. It follows a young Italian man through World War I. There are several books by Helprin that are worth owning and returning to.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Any one of the Foxfire Books. These are folk-craft how-to books. They apply more to being lost in the Appalachian Mountains, but seem worth a try.

4. One book that made you laugh: Right Ho, Jeeves. Or almost anything by PG Wodehouse.

5. One book that made you cry: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank. Maybe not when I first read it, as a young teen, but in retrospect.

6. One book that you wish had been written: Why I Stayed with Baseball and Gave Politics a Pass, by George W. Bush.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: I don't think there are any. I'’ve seen others answer this with Mein Kampf or the Qu'Ran. That just seems silly. Without Mein Kampf, how would we be able to study the madness that caused Hitler to do what he did? And to think that a holy book of any specific culture is at fault for a conflict we may have with that culture is jingoistically foolish.

8. One book you'’re currently reading: The Far Side of the World. I'’m still making my way through the Aubrey/Maturin series. Again.

9. One book you'’ve been meaning to read: Blue Shoes and Happiness, by Alexander McCall Smith. This was a Father's Day gift from Karen, but it keeps slipping to the bottom of my reading pile.

10. Tag five others. Well. Who to lay this on next? How about Del, Amanda, Paul, Howard and Fritz.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In a County Park

TreeI took a walk/jog in a local park this noon. I needed some exercise, but didn't feel like a ramble on the treadmill at the YMCA. So I headed over to Brecknock Park, a Kent County Park just south of Dover.

I was able to work up a sweat, grab a few photos, and head back to the one shower in the first floor men's room at our office.

Brecknock Park includes a woodland trail that runs along Isaac Branch past the park, along the edges of a few subdivisions, past a high school and an elementary school.

There's plenty of pocket greenspace flora and fauna to see. Early in my wanderings, I startled a small snake on the path. It was too fast for me to get the camera up, let alone on, and snap a picture. It was nice to see it, though.

I took a lunchtime walk here back in November of last year. I made a small photo set from that walk, and another from today's.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Curbside Recycling!

Curbside Recycling!Yup. We now can recycle from the comfort of our own home. For a small fee, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority will stop by every week and collect our recyclables.

We just started with the program this week. This, after years of hauling our bottles, cans, bags, newspapers, and stuff out to the DSWA "igloos" next to the Lewes Wastewater Treatment Plant every Saturday morning.

I am pleased, though we didn't offer a great deal of stuff for pick-up. I guess that's probably a good sign.

Look! Up in the Sky!

It seems some folks were little shook-up in San Diego last week when, just after the announcement of the arrests for an alleged terrorist plot in London, a skywriter flew what appeared to be the word "BOO!" above that California City.

Only it wasn't "BOO!" It was "3001," the name of a company that provides aerial photography services.

According to an item in a column today by Diane Bell, in the Union-Tribune, the folks at 3001 were advertising themselves to the 12,000 (or more) GIS professionals in town for the annual, week-long ESRI GIS Conference.

The ESRI conference is a major event in the GIS calendar. I had heard that the crowd was up to 15,000 this year. Maybe it just seemed that way.

I've attended this event few times in the past; it is huge. The notion of a skywriter overhead doesn't surprise me in the least. My friend Matt was there this year. He remembers the skywriter. He says that no one at the ESRI event that evening, their annual Thursday night, outdoor, themed party, thought it was anything other than 3001's ad.

That, my friends, is what you call "specialty advertising."

I owe a debt to Adena Schutzberg at All Points Blog for a pointer to this item, by the way. Also, I have a few alternate titles for this post to consider: "The Plane! The Plane!" or "Surrender, Jack Dangermond! Surrender!"

I Keep Wanting to Post Blog Entries With The Title "Irony!"

There's a Delaware Voice column in today's News Journal (New civic group will keep watch for public) about a new civic group set up to advocate for a more open government here in Delaware.

I don't disagree with the goals of the Delaware Coalition For Open Government. After all, a major part of my role as a state employee is to make information available to the public.

But the new group's acronym, DCFOG, just seems to pierce the haze a bit too sharply.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

We Have A House Guest

NestWe noticed this week that a bird has been building a nest in one of the hanging plant baskets on our porch.

This basket hangs just outside a large window on the small, triangular deck between our "new room" and the garage. The plant in the basket had pretty white flowers when I bought it. They have faded since then, but with an avian home in the basket I don't feel that I can replace it.

It looks rather like an enclosed sort of nest. I can't tell if there are any eggs in there. And, as far as I can tell, there is only one bird.

The bird is small, with a long, thin beak. It often stands perched on the wrought-iron-like metal hanger that juts out from the house; or on the edge of the garage roof, across the deck; or up on the peak of our roof. It stands there and squawks. I’m not sure if it is singing, trying to attract a mate, or yelling curses at us for disturbing its nest by looking too closely.

This bird is driving Mocha, our younger cat, crazy. She takes up watch on the bench that sits inside the house under this window and stares intently out at the bird. If we open the window, she scrambles up the screen to the level of the nest.

Poor Mocha, she is convinced that she must eat this bird. I understand; that is her job. But I don't think we can alow that.

I wonder if this is the same bird that used to sit on a large bush just outside of the bay window in the living room. It would sit there, not two feet away from the cat, but separated by a screen and glass, singing away to taunt the cat.

I don’t know birds, so I can’t tell what sort this is. Is there such a thing as a sadist-bird?
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

A New Blog From The News Journal

There is another new blog on the News Journal web site. Dialogue Delaware says it will present "inklings and oddments on the Delaware Way."

It looks to me like a collection of minor "reporter's notebook" items. I wonder who the author is. Is it set up to allow any of the paper's reporters to post?

I'd like to see attribution on these posts.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Molly Knows How to Avoid Heat Waves

I've just noticed that my old friend and fellow Lewes resident Molly Murray has joined the blogging ranks at the News Journal.

Molly is headed to Alaska on a journalism fellowship and plans to write about her travels in a new bog, North to Alaska, as well as (I assume) in the News Journal.

I first met Molly when I was making the switch from DJ/announcer to radio news guy back in the late 1980s. I got to know her while we were both covering Sussex County Council. She represented true journalism for me, and set an example for me to try to live up to.

Molly is a nice person. I'm happy she gets a chance to go to Alaska and learn new things. I'm also very jealous.

Update (8/11/06, 6:47 a.m.): There are details on Molly's Alaskan plans in this morning's News Journal. She's headed for Alaska today and will spend a bit more than a week up north, posting to her blog each day.

Yup. I've Felt Like This

I found this image on Flickr today. I don't know if this was intended to slam Microsoft or Apple. I don't care.

I'm really sick of these Mac ads. I know the intent is to make PCs out as stodgy and old and un-cool. I get that.

But these ads also make me think of Macs as patronizing, self-righteous jerks.

I have a similar reaction to those Geico ads that feature the insulted cavemen. All I can think of when I see the ad in which the Geico pitch-man has to take the caveguys out to lunch to apologize is what a prissy, petty, ungracious creep that one caveman is.

Oh Dear

I guess I should have thought more carefully the other day before posting my slightly self-righteous take on the recent visit of Girls Gone Wild to Dewey Beach.

I was reacting to an early version of the story from the News Journal's web site. I started having doubts when I read the full version the next morning and now that I have read Ryan Cormier's take on the story and Mike M's on Down with Absolutes, I'm having even more.
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Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Imagine My Surprise

I just finished a novel that is set, in part, in my home town, only in the late 1800s.

I had not realized that it would be set here in Lewes when I pulled Tunnell's Boys off the library shelf. I just did what I always do, I wandered along the New Books shelf and, judging them entirely by their covers, picked two to bring home and read. That approach usually works just fine.

Tunnell's Boys is a historical novel by Tony Junker, a Philadelphia architect and sailor. It tells the story of two young men who meet as apprentice Delaware River and Bay Pilots. It is set partly in Philadelphia, partly in Lewes, and partly on the Delaware River and Bay and on the Atlantic Ocean.

The sail and steam-powered boating in the book is very well told. Mr. Junker knows his boats and the moods of deep and shallow waters. It works just fine as a sea-going adventure.

Thematically, this book is about war and responsibility and the duties of men and women in the world. Mr. Junker is a Quaker, and uses his story to examine some of the larger issues of life from the perspective of Quaker practice. The story turns on the US war with Spain over Cuba. It holds some parallels for our foreign policy predicament of today.

What fascinated me, though, was to read a novel set in Lewes, Delaware. I don't know our history quite well enough to know how much license Mr. Junker may have taken, but I know enough to say that he has painted a plausible past for the First Town.

Much of the action takes place on the waters of the Bay. The characters live and work on a schooner that anchors behind the breakwater off Lewes. They discuss the need for a second breakwater, to expand the anchorage. This would be built eventually. The old Cape Henlopen Lighthouse is there on the dunes, but a major storm erodes away the sand at the base, and characters worry that it may soon slide away. I recognized street names and places. It felt right; it felt like Lewes in the days of sail.

I do wonder about Mr. Junker's addition of a brothel, run and staffed by Cuban emigres, to 19th-century Lewes. I am not sure whether that might be accurate or not, and I'm not sure who to ask. Should I go up to one of the elderly ladies of the Lewes Historical Society and ask? I suppose they might surprise me.

I also found myself thinking of local "coastal conservative" Jud Bennett as I read this book. Jud is now working his way up in politics, and blogging. But he was once a Delaware River and Bay Pilot. I could see Jud, a big guy, bushy-bearded and commanding, climbing onto the deck of a three-masted ship and piloting her up from Lewes the Philadelphia.

In fact, I used Jud's face in my internal movie for one of the characters in the book.

I had thought to read another sea-story, fun and salty but nothing special. Instead, I found a sort of history machine, taking me back in my town's time.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Questions I Ask Myself on Reading Some of the Latest Delaware Headlines

I took a peek at some of the stories that the News Journal is working up for the news on Wednesday. A couple of questions come to my mind.

Didn't we see this coming? Bobby Jacobs now faces forgery and theft charges related to his management of the Slam Dunk to the Beach basket ball tournament. Also, what took so long? And where is Bobby? (Print version, from 8/9/06)

Where do they get the seasonal cops for Dewey Beach? Two off-duty Dewey summer police officers are under investigation for allegedly drinking with an under-age woman on the Girls Gone Wild tour bus recently. Also, why has it taken so long for Girls Gone Wild to roll into Dewey? Oh, and, on a personal note: ew.

Update (8/9/06: 06:49 a.m.): The more complete, print version this morning, suggests that there may be more, or less, here than first suggested.
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Sometimes Life Really is Just Like a Game, Played With Real Money

Sometimes Life Really is Just Like  a Game, Played With Real MoneyI've walked and driven past this sign at least once a week for years. It always struck me as odd, but I never really looked closely at it to figured out why.

Until this noon. Walking back from 33 West with a Caesar Salad, I paused to take a closer look.
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Monday, August 7, 2006

Blogroll Maintenance, Again

Here we are starting another month. Time to look over the blogroll and see what needs to be deleted.

Gerry Fulcher's Delaware Views Journal still says that it will start having content on August 1. Gerry? I'll keep it on the roll for now, but... Gerry?

Education and Community News from Home Town Delaware has been quiet for a month.

So, for that matter, has William Slawski's Newarking.

Meanwhile, I've added a few new links to Delaware-related or -located blogs. I've mentioned The Delaware Way, of course, but I have also recently found my way to Paul Bowman's Daily Life, Galaxy Girl, Project Gannon, and Zzardozz News and Satire.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Ninth Golf Game of 2006

Another ChallengeAndy Southmayd and I played a round at The Rookery this afternoon. It was hot. Very hot.

The Rookery is a great course. It is wide open, in places, with a variety of challenges, lots of water, and strategically placed trees.

I played like, well, crap. I have a pull, a knot, a strain, or something in my left shoulder. My range of motion is affected, though I thought I'd be able to swing without too much trouble. Not so much.

Either I was topping the ball, which I thought I had cured, or I was hitting weak shots with odd, counter-productive spin. I think I was unconsciously correcting, over-correcting, for my shoulder.

Several shots were not bad, but it was not a memorable round. At least not for any good reason.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I did sink some long putts that I would be crowing about if it weren't for the fact that the best, longest putts I sank were all in the service of horrendous, blow-up hole scores.
"Woo-hoo! Great putt! Way to read that green! What'd you get?"

"An eight."

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

A Symphony Orchestra Concert at Lewes

Symphony 2We celebrated our hometown's history yesterday evening at a concert by the Delaware Symphony Orchestra at the College of Marine Studies' Virden Center, here in Lewes.

The concert was part of a year-long celebration of the 375th anniversary of our town, which began in 1631 when a group of (Dutch) Europeans attempted to set-up a trading post that they called Zwaanendael.

From that small, and ultimately futile beginning (the settlers failed to get along well with the established population and were eventually attacked and destroyed), flow almost four centuries of history. Based on that settlement, we lay claim to being the First Town in the First State. It all started here (You're welcome).

We used to have a symphony concert in Lewes every summer. For some years the concert was part of a larger Summer Arts Festival which included some great acts. One year, before the girls were born, we got to see the folk-singer Odetta.

A feature of the festival each year was a pops concert by the Delaware Symphony. It always ended with a rendition of the 1812 Overture, performed with a battery of historic iron cannon blasting away in the finale. If you have never heard the 1812 Overture with real cannon, you are missing a wonderful musical experience.

I still remember the first time we attended the concert. It was held at that time at Cape Henlopen State Park and as the show started, a thick fog rolled in from the Atlantic. By the time the cannon were fired, we could no longer see the orchestra. The cannons' muzzle-flashes lit the fog all around us. It was like being inside the thunder-head cloud during a major thunderstorm.

AudienceThis weekend's concert was in a large field alongside the Virden Center. We all brought lawn chairs and blankets. Many people enjoyed picnic dinners and gatherings of friends and family.

Karen and I packed a light supper of pita and hummus with carrots and zucchini. We sat and chatted with Andy and Lynn, who joined us for the show, and then sat back to enjoy the music.

The evening was fine. The week's heavy heat and humidity finally broke with an evening breeze, clear skies, and a hint of thunderstorms on the northern horizon. It was perfect evening to put your feet up and listen to the music.

The Delaware Symphony has new leadership since the days when they used to come down for a concert each summer. The program was still "Pops," but I think it was a more adventurous set than had been the case in the past. They started with Fanfare for the Common Man, which Karen and I both love, and continued with a set of variations on America by Charles Ives. Ives was one of America's first great composers and his approach to music -- standing it on its head, warping, twisting and resculpting familiar tunes -- appeals to my musical tastes.

There were also Sousa marches, but they threw in a Sousa dance number, described by the conductor as a "Victorian Tango." That's an interesting notion, isn't it?

The 1812 Overture was well-played, even without the cannons, and they finished with a traditional Stars and Stripes Forever, guest-conducted by the Delaware Secretary of State, whose budget helped support the event.

After a brief pause to let the sun settle, there was a fine fireworks finale. A good time was had by all.
Fireworks 3

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Miss Nancy!

Nancy Willing, often a blog commenter, is the newest to join the ranks of the Delaware bloggers.

Nancy has launched The Delaware Way.

She has been a consistent commenter on this and other blogs. She takes a dim view of the incumbent office-holders.
The Delaware Way is how our politicians use the system for their own personal gain. Let's turn the tables and game them for once.
I would say "welcome to the fray," but Nancy has been here a while. Now she has her own bit of Blog-Estate... Blog-Turf... Blurf?

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Flower Surprise

Lily 3This is Lily that is growing in my side garden. It's somewhat squeezed between a huge Butterfly Bush and a mass of Four O'Clocks.

Early in June, I thinned the Four O'Clocks back from this plant and was rewarded with several pretty flowers when we returned from up north.

I took a macro-setting close-up the other day. I cropped in close and adjusted a few brightness and contrast settings.

I like the result.
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