Tuesday, September 29, 2015


In August. Laida Carro and I decided on the spur of the moment to go to NYC to see the John Singer Sargent exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last week, we took off.  Here are a few photos to show some of the many things we enjoyed along the way.
Lady Liberty welcomed us as we cruised by on our harbor tour.

And the Empire State Building hovered high above us on every hop-on/hop-off tour we took.

In NYC, one sees classic, old buildings lend an idea of elegant structures of decades ago, despite the invasive and overpowering modern structures that engulf them today. I would LOVE to take a tour based on the architecture of the city prior to skyscrapers.

These men, gathered in groups of three, await the arrival of the bus after a day's work. The diversity of the Big Apple's inhabitants makes it the extreme opposite of the Mid-Ohio Valley, recently given the honor of the second least diverse area in the country. I LOVED people watching in the city!
Little did we know that the Pope would decide to come to New York while we were there. I'm sure our presence was a deciding factor in his visit
We managed to avoid a lot of inconvenience caused by the papal presence by going in the opposite direction of where he was to be. That said, the city made the best of all the interruptions caused by the Holy Father's visit. 

One of my favorite works at the Whitney Museum.  I didn't get the name of the piece nor the creator, but I know it was done by an American artist. How's that for detail?
 Traveling with an artist like Laida equates to lots of museum time: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, et. al.  Most fine by me! On the next visit, I want to take in the Frick Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

I'm fine in large cities as long as I can get outside and as long as I see animals. New Yorkers love their dogs and horses. This guy was on break and seemed to like the idea someone talked to him while he stood in the middle of the city breathing bus exhaust.  (My favorite breakfast place, called The Barking Dog on 94th Street, provided my daily dog fix.)

It was interesting to learn that the southern part of the island, the area where Wall Street and the World Trade Center are found, is built on a land fill. And all that land fill supports these huge structures. The Big Apple is a city of 8.6 million people, a multitude of diverse groups who speak 300+ languages.

Throw in visits to Chinatown, Brooklyn, Chelsea, NoHo and SoHo (north of Houston / south of Houston), and The Lion King on Broadway, and the cubana-americana and ameriana-cubana felt as if they got a good bang for their buck.
This Green Acres mom was thrilled to be away from the cows and stinkbugs for a few days. But, she was even more thrilled to return to the peace and quiet the land offers. Nope, no sirens on an hourly basis and open spaces here at The Farm, thank goodness!

NEW YORK, NEW YORK (9/24-28, 2015) - Ground Zero

One cannot dismiss the soulful impact of the museum and memorial at Ground Zero. The recollection of the morning of September 11, 2001, parallels that of the disbelief those of us who recall President Kennedy's assassination felt - an instantaneous understanding that we were witness to a moment in history that would forever change our country.

I heard the news of the Twin Towers when I left a Grammar Techniques class I had just taught at our local community college. As I walked into the lobby of our main building, I heard the receptionist at the welcome desk telling students that our country was under attack. It was the day before my birthday, and any anticipatory happiness I felt for the following day dissolved on the spot.

As Laida and I approached the area on Saturday, I was amazed to see the new World Trade Center structure.

The light of the afternoon shadowed a cross on the side of the building.  I'm assuming that shadow is planned, but I don't know that for sure. The little dots ascending the building are lights that twinkle in the darkness and can be seen from a fair distance.

The fountain outside the memorial museum conjures the same feeling as the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. Simultaneously beautiful and somber, the area pays sweet tribute to those who perished there on 9/11.

Flowers decorated the names of people who perished. I remembered a young woman from the Marietta / Parkersburg area died in the Twin Towers' collapse, but I couldn't recall her name. Ironically, hers was the first picture I saw in area inside where each person who perished is honored. Her name was Mary Lou Hague. (I took a picture of her story photo at the memorial, but I later learned no photos were allowed, so I will not post it here.)

There are numerous twisted metal pieces throughout the museum that resemble huge metal sculptures. Had I not heard the constant repetition of the names of those who died in the background, I could have envisioned these displays as the work of an artist of reknown.

Relics of that day - a letter from a man to his sons and wife, the twisted remains of fire engines that responded, driver's licenses, shoes, etc.- remind visitors of the many whose lives ended that day.

It's impossible not to feel the sacredness of this burial ground, along with the resilience of the people of New York and their ability to move forward.

Saturday, September 05, 2015


June 1, 2015 - My first day as an official retiree!  A moment I've waited for for years - a moment that seemed like it would never arrive, especially during those stretches of burn out / frustration during the 37 years I stood in front of a group of students wondering if I could continue the next day. Or, as I sat in endless days of meetings that really recycled the same sort of administrative bullshit and requirements year after year.  A day that would redefine my life in terms of exactly what I want it to be.

Three months down the road, I can report that it does feel good, very good.  Free.  Liberating.  Peaceful.  Restful. Stress-free. Joyful.  Happy!

The Saturday before my colleagues headed back to the class room, we celebrated a "Tanya's Not Going Back to School" party at here at the farm. The cake, a gift from Charlotte Hatfield, Lori Fahn, Pam Plaskett, and Carol Garoza, summed it up:

And the Thursday night before, my beloved Bobbi showed up totally unexpectedly at the door.  A huge, wonderful surprise. One that filled my heart with joy and bubbly love. Samuel didn't make the fiesta, but having the two girls at home for a long weekend was more than I had ever envisioned. It'd been a long time since we all hung out here, and it took zero time to move right back into our crazy farm humor and laughter. Eliza got to hang out with her sister and fellow Scorpio; I had some special Bobbi time, and the three of us were together for some good fun and talk.  Over the top wonderful.

 (my girls)
With assistance from Christy Veladota, Eliza planned and carried out the party. She wanted to honor her mom, and that meant the world to me. E's such a beautiful woman, inside and out.  Organized.  Efficient.  Loving.  Caring.  I am so blessed to be her mom, and I love watching her blossom and grow. 
Many folks ask me what my plans are in retirement, and I've been amazed at the suggestions others have for me.  "Hey, you could do this.  Or that"  "Have you considered applying for this position or that position?"  "Why don't you try project A?  Or B?", etc. My honest response is that I'm giving myself one year (or longer, should I so desire) to do exactly what I  want to do, and if that is spend the day without crossing a thing off my list, then so mote it be.  I've worked all my life living by the guidelines and dictates of others.  It feels just great to know I don't have to do that anymore. I can be the master of my own fate! YIPPEE !!!! Highly recommended (for anyone who is on the fence about retirement life!)
What I have decided so far:
learn to play mah jong. I joined a group that meets once a week, and I'm hooked. I even mah-jonged twice one afternoon.
join a book club to jumpstart reading again.  It's been a while since I had a book in my hand to read for pure enjoyment. I found that looking studying textbooks for almost 4 decades. diminished my desire to read for pleasure.  Fittingly, just this past week, I was invited to join a local reading group.
And that's it for now.  I'll visit my mom frequently, make some paper, play with photographs, see friends, and play around the farm.  For once I'll be able to tend to a fall garden. The corgis and I should get ample exercise, as well.
I have not experienced any sort of nostalgia as the school year has begun. The highlights of my career have always centered on my students and their growth.  Perhaps I'll miss my contact with them, but as yet, I don't sense their absence greatly. 
The bottom line:  Tanya Wilder is loving her early morning conversations with her high school friend, Terri, is joyful at the freedom of taking a walk whenever she desires, is delighted to have time for fall chores around the farm that NEVER got accomplished previously, and is eager to score a few more mah jongs, make some paper, and listen to music all day!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

WINTER 2015 - OFF FROM WORK TODAY - 2/19/2015

It's been a typical black / white / grey (with dirty brown and pine-tree green  thrown in) winter here in the MOV.  There's nothing new about that, and in fact, one begins to expect colorless days in the valley beginning around Thanksgiving, if not a week of so before. A couple of days lately seemed to have been painted from a blue-ish palate, adding just a bit of variation to the otherwise monochromatic landscape. I'm happy to report, the sun is out at the moment; I counted 14 species of birds at the feeder a while ago. I'm sure they're delighted to much sunflower seed in the bright rays, even though it's cold as the dickens.

Today's classes are cancelled around the area because of the below zero temps, and I hear tomorrow morning we'll see the likes of -10 to -15.  Then with the thermometer soaring to slightly above freezing, rain and sleet will cover the snow for the next couple of days, and we'll really have a mess.  EERGGH!! I hear my dear Grandma Shook in the back of my mind, reminding me that "you cannot control the elements," so I might as well relax and sink in to the joys of solitude and stillness. I'm at home alone a lot!

The corgis LOVE the cold!  Their eagerness to get outside and roll in the snow inspire me to go out and play, even for just a few minutes at these temps. As I write this, MerryBelle's charging through the snow, plowing with her corgi nose and chasing the snow fluff she makes.  On days like this one, I'd like to have two layers of thick fur covering my body. My students got the "mom lecture" the other day about dressing for the weather (i.e.,  heavy socks and boots rather than tennis shoes with anklet socks...layers covering the chest rather than a t-shirt with a zipped-open hoodie, etc.) I reminded them that people will think they've lost considerable weight come spring since we all look 25 pounds heavier with tons of winter clothes on.) That notion seemed to resonate with the scantily clad goofball young adults! Even Buddha of the Field recalls Grandma Shook's wisdom and dons his winter snow cap to keep his head warm.

When I look around me and make a mental list of all the things I could accomplish today while I'm here at home, I come up with dozens of chores that merit my attention.  More than likely, however, I'll putz around the house, pick up some knitting, listen to music, and plan summer flower gardens in my mind. I find I excel in thinking a lot, accomplishing little on days like today.  And, I'm quickly arriving at the conclusion that thinking is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


The gray skies hang heavy, but I find that if I get outside, my desire to crawl in a hole and not come out until spring lifts a bit.

Mac and MerryBelle seemed eager to head to the back woods this morning, so off we went - the first time in a couple of days. I have an adjusted work schedule today, so the morning was mine to enjoy with the pups.

Turkeys, deer, coyotes, and raccoons had taken their morning stroll before our arrival - their tracks fresh and abundant - , and the corgis took off after a rabbit that bolted from the fence line. As always, MerryBelle found frozen scat to savor as Mac goofballed along the way in search of the perfect stick to bring me.

I remembered to take some dried lavender flowers to scatter where the big buck we lost before Christmas exhaled for the final time. Strange. I felt as if he were there still, and the dogs came to stop at the exact point where he lay to take flight.

We meandered on, and suddenly, the woods crackled with the sound of a large animal on the run. As I turned to look that way, I saw the stag's heir - the younger buck (possibly an offspring of the large stag) who now lays claim to the farm. 

He's not new to me; I've seen him before. (I know most all the animals who hang out here.) I do believe, however, it's more than coincidence that he let me get a good glimpse of his majestic, masculine self today.

I welcome him and will try to keep him safe, as I did his predecessor.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I just watched Eliza drive out the road on her way back to Cincinnati, and the emptiness that accompanies her departure has returned to signal the official end of our holiday time together. 

The Shook / Wilders had a wonderful 10 days together - a lot of time in the car with both kids, very special moments in Boone with Mom and Myra, and another Christmas dinner around the table with Aunt Lera, Richard, and the latest member of the family, Colton Moyer, a young man whom Richard brought home for the first time.

Samuel arrived on Christmas Eve morning. Eliza, Myra and I drove to pick him up in Charlotte where we stopped to have a brief visit with Aunt Linda, my dad's next to youngest sister.  She's a very special aunt, and since we don't gather around the table at Grandma Shook's anymore, having an hour or so with her helped fill that void.

Once we got home and Petie got her long-awaited hugs from Samuel, we decorated Mom's tree.  From her chair, she helped out by letting us know where to hang ornaments. Myra sparkled in her Christmas PJ's.  (She bought some for all of us, and eventually, we looked outfit-coordinated enough for one of those classic holiday family portraits.)

One of the many advantages of having adult children is that no one was up and full of energy at 6:00 AM - with the exception of a corgi who had to go outside to pee at 5:45 AM.  Mac was more certain that Red Wolf has ever been that he saw Santa, so yours truly was out on a walk before anyone (except Mr. Big Ears) thought about moving. All I could see while trying not to wake up completely as I slugged down the street was a happy little corgi butt, sashaying over to the rhododendrons to lift a leg. No Santa in sight!

I think everyone was ready to take it easy on Christmas day. We opened a mountain of gifts, had a couple cups of good coffee, and chilled until preparation time for our late lunch rolled around.  Myra, Eliza, and I were in the kitchen together at various times over the day.  The big debate on whether to have mashed potatoes AND macaroni and cheese was decided; Eliza prepared both, and both were appropriately consumed in their entirety.  Myra fixed the turkey and green beans while I prepared the table, cooked some collard greens, and made fruit salad. With Aunt Lera's rolls and cranberry salad, the Shook / Randalls celebrate Christmas Day together as we have for over 50 years.  It doesn't get much better !

All of us had another three days together before we had to return Samuel to the airport and before Myra headed back to Richmond. A bit of shopping, another good meal with the Randalls, a good long walk in the mountains with the dogs, and the annual University of Kentucky vrs. the Louisville Cardinals filled out the days. Time passed too quickly, but we sure did make some moments last!

Myra returned home Sunday morning after Eliza and I left to take Samuel down to Charlotte to spend the day with Harrison before Samuel headed back to Chicago.  Then yesterday morning Eliza and I packed up all our stuff and two corgis and headed back to the farm.  Tradition holds that she and I celebrate our Christmas once we return from NC, so she found some gifts awaiting her under the tree.  I was elated to find the 2015 Witches Calendar and two bird feeders under it for me! (My list is always an easy one to take care of thanks to Amazon.com.)

So now, I'm here with the corgis until tomorrow when I take off to spend a week with my friend, Laida, and a couple of other friends who are in from Cuba.  I look forward to being around festive Cuban energy for New Year's Eve.  I also hope to be on the beach for a couple of walks, as well as enjoy the outdoors without 10 layers of clothes. 

As I look forward to 2015, I know there will be many wonderful things that unfold in my life, not the least of which is RETIREMENT! I plan on getting my body in shape, traveling as much as my retirement budget will allow, making paper, taking photographs, and doing some "artsy" things.  I also will be honored to spend much more time with my mom during her 96th year.

Moving forward, I can't contemplate the horrendous atrocities and uncivil things that tend to define the world today, so I'll cling to my mantra here at the farm and look for those things that open my heart and make me laugh. 

Join my in putting this on your refrigerator and breathing in the spirit of these words into your life:

I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred but offer myself humbly as a guardian of peace, as a creator of beauty, as a healer of misery, as an architect of peace.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful, healthy life in 2015 and beyond!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


I don’t really know where to begin to tell today’s story, the day of Winter Solstice. The most powerful day of the year. A day of magic. A day of introspection. A return to the light.

Such was my Solstice experience today. I'll tell the story while it's fresh in my mind. I'm going to write it without edit for now, so it may sound a bit disjointed.

But first, I'll  digress for a moment in preparation for what comes later.

In in the past, one of my greatest holiday joys was watching Samuel’s and Eliza’s faces when they walked in the door from school to find each room decked out with greenery and holiday decorations.
Over the course of the past week, I putzed around the house and cleaned it top to bottom - literally washing down everything as if I were giving the house a bath in preparation of the Solstice, Christmas holidays, and Eliza's arrival. After the wash-down, I smudged every room from top to bottom and opened the window to release the smoke. Despite my pronouncement that decorations would be minimal this year, once I got started I found it impossible not to place all our family favorites around the cleansed house.  I moved from a good case of "humbuggedness" into celebration rather rapidly.

The other rationale for my busy-ness was to have everything in place for the arrival of the Solstice. I love to have my angels, goddesses, Santas, and candles placed as reminders for the return to the light.  I contemplated all week how I wanted to personally acknowledge the Solstice – what I wanted to include in my wishes and prayers for myself, my family, the Earth and its inhabitants. 

I read the story of the Stag and the Goddess several times, and it resonated in my mind. There's been a lot of deer energy around the farm this fall.  Back in the fall, our big farm buck came to let me know he again claimed the farm his territory this winter season; a friend had two unfortunate encounters with deer on the highway, and almost every morning since the leaves fell, I've watched a herd of the buck's ladies savor chestnuts in the side yard.

The Native American story of the deer as the animal who transformed a nasty ogre's foul energy into kindness is one I used to tell the kids in the car on long trips. I pulled out the animal card book to read the legend again.

My final decoration I made around the house was one for the picnic table outside the living room door.  There I placed a wreath I brought home from Boone at Thanksgiving, along with various antlers I have collected around the farm over the years and some that my cousin, Bill, gave me when I was home. They looked / look beautiful circling a Buddha who sits in the center of the wreath. I wanted the stag and his energy in clear sight for Solstice. 

I got up early this morning, had my coffee, played with the pups a bit, and stretched out to do some yoga with the thought I’d head out for a couple hours in the woods once I limbered up a bit. Mac and MerryBelle were impatient, and their eagerness to get outdoors motivated me to get ready immediately after I finished my practice.  They definitely wanted to me to get a move on.

So in my classic go-to-the-woods outfit, with my binoculars and my walking stick from Grandma Shook’s rhododendron patch in hand, I set out on  a beautiful sunny morning.  As I walked down into the field, the beauty of the flawless blue sky and the agitated squawking of blue jays atop the trees consumed me. Mac and MerryBelle ran spiritedly ahead, stopping to look back and make sure I hadn’t gotten lost in my thoughts along the way.

The Earth and all her creatures fix me.  I always stand in awe of her beauty.  Being on the land calms my spirit, brings me clarity, provides me with answers, defines my peace. I think I get that from my dad.When I am outside, I sense my his and grandma's presence. The Earth completely opens my heart with joy and happiness and transforms my sadness when I need comfort.  Always. Unconditionally. Always.

As we went further toward the woods, the dogs stopped cold in their tracks. At that very same moment, I sensed thrashing movement in the brush by the fence line and spotted a large buck that didn’t stand and bolt as we approached. I knew something was not right.

From the other direction, I saw two men coming across the field - my neighbor and a young man with a bow in hand. Immediately, I knew the buck had been shot, and fury filled my entire being. The Solstice stag - the one in whose eyes I have stared as closely as I have ever been to any wild animal- was dying.  I knew it was him, and I believe he knew I was coming, for he quit thrashing and stretched out to die when he heard my voice.

I screamed in consumed anger at the hunters,  “YOU KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HUNT ON MY LAND!  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” And then, I couldn’t control my sorrow. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t save the animal, so I sat down beside him. I placed my hands on his body and cried uncontrollably. (One of the hunters acknowledged he saw the buck quit fighting life when the animal heard my voice.)

My neighbor came over to comfort me, to tell me he had watched the animal all morning.  He said the big guy was sick and had been staggering around in repetitive circles in the field in front of his house.  My neighbor had watched the animal lose his footing, fall several times and  tremble violently several as if in a seizure; he had been close enough to it to see that one eye was badly infected and gangrenous. He had decided to end the animal’s misery, and when he shot the buck, it immediately turned, jumped the fence line and crossed the field onto my land. Having lived my life with a hunter, I understood. My dad's voice told me the man had done the right thing.

By then, I had the buck’s head in my hands, and I gently caressed his soft head and ears as he moved toward spirit. His white muzzle reflected his age, as his eyes indicated his illness. What had once been haunches of strong muscle were showing signs of emaciation. Yes, his passage would bring him release from whatever was ravaging his body.

He died with my hands on his head. I was on my knees hunched over him, whispering to him, comforting him.  Mac stayed glued to my side, as if to guard the sacred space from which the buck would leave us and take flight into spirit. MerryBelle instinctively returned home to stand guard there. All I could do was thank this incredible animal, our stag - the lord of the farm fields - for coming home to take flight.

While I stayed with the stag, the hunters went for a truck to carry him away.  They promised to bury him, for we agreed his meat was not fit for consumption given his obvious sickness. I helped them load him and allowed him to go with them with the promise his head would not be mounted on the wall; he would be buried respectfully.

Mac and I then went into the woods and stayed for a while

I know there’s a greater message in all of this for me.  It’ll come to me in time. I don't sense fear or an omen of bad energy surrounding today's event. Rather, I am very grateful I was witness to this amazing animal as he began his journey of rebirth. He has been the core of masculine energy at the farm for over a decade now. My mom assures me there is a reason for this to unfold as it did.

While I am somewhat quieted at heart this afternoon, I am not mournful.  The big buck's legacy continues....the products of his union with his many does roam the fields....the next generation takes charge....I have seen them, and I am blessed.


(photo:  Bruce Lane)

Sunday, November 09, 2014


It's been a while since I've visited my blog, I see.  Yesterday's walk, however, brought it back to mind as I took photo after photo of the various fungi the corgis and I discovered in the back woods. With Mac and MerryBelle choosing the path, we walked along the creek bed and took time to look around us for surprises.  Here's what we found:
Chicken of the Woods - edible, supposedly tastes like chicken, but everything from turtle meat to frog legs  supposedly tastes like chicken. 

Turkey Tail - greened by the moisture of the nearby creek

No idea, but if I hadn't slipped off this log, I wouldn't have seen this and a couple of other little clulsters.

 More Turkey Tails - the log where these grew was about 12' long, and they ran the distance from one end of the log to the other.

No idea what the official name of this mushroom is, but I love the underside more than the top. 
As we headed out of the woods, who should greet us but Black Cow, CEO of the local Corgi Cologne manufacturing plant.  You can see several employees of the factory on break in the background.  Both Mac and MerryBelle have tested their products and are urging me to buy stock in this fragrance.  I think, however, I'll invest elsewhere - most likely in doggie shampoo and a doggie hair dryer!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Here at Namasté, we're giving a shout out to a member of the farm family as she launches her new blog:


Christy is an amazing woman - mother, poet, teacher, friend, creative spirit.  I hope you'll follow her!

Friday, July 11, 2014


As the corgis and I took our morning walk about 6:30 AM, my trusty camera tagged along in my pocket.  There are many things, both wild and domesticated, in bloom around the farm now. It'll take more than one blog post to record them, I'm sure. Come along and take the walk with me.
My favorite zinnia - pale pink, delicate, feminine.  A heirloom from a variety pack I bought in NC. 
I tossed zinnia seeds in the cold frame at the end of the deck in late spring, knowing that I'd have some volunteer four-o'clocks there as well.  Oddly, the only four-o'clocks that came up are the brilliant fuschia ones, a beautiful backdrop for the pastel zinnias.

I frequently contemplate taking the gargantuan Rose of Sharon bush out since it occupies a large portion of the fence line space in the side yard. However, when it flowers and plays host to numerous hummingbirds and butterflies, I always reconsider.

All the Nicotiana on the farm is volunteer.  Along with milkweed, these blossoms provide an strong, sweet evening perfume that wafts all around the farm.  One of my favorite parts of the day is sundown on the deck, where I sit and contemplate the day while savoring the sweet fragrances of these elegant, delicate blooms.
Coneflowers abound in various places around the farm.  Plans for the fall are to clean out and separate the lilies, coneflowers, tansy, and various other flowers in this bed come fall. 

Remind me that I don't need to scatter handfuls of cleome seeds all over my flower beds next year.  If anyone wants seed, just give me a jingle!

When I walked out this morning three hummingbirds were vying for these hosta blossoms.

My orchids love vacationing outside during the summer in the shade of the corner maple tree.  They reap the benefit of its cover and summer humidity there.  I watch them carefully to ensure little spiders don't have a feast on the leaves.

Coleus grows alongside of the orchids.  I found this neat, sturdy bread display rack at Rink's for $5.00, and it's the best for housing the orchids in the summer. Six of eleven orchids are currently in bloom; the oncidiums will flower along about December or January.  I have now idea about the dendrobium.  I'm just not successful with them.

I'll share sunflowers and lilies in subsequent posts, and as other things open up, you'll see them here on Namasté in time. Welcome to the garden tour, farm style!


With pretty lilies, mostly all in a row.  All of these, save the fifth one down, are ones I brought to the farm from Boone.  I purchased them from the Farmer's Market there, and they've flourished here at the farm.  It's hard to get a good photo of them in the row that's planted in my side yard, so I feature them here individually.  I have three more varieties that are yet to open, so soon they're feature in a post by themselves. 
It'll be soon time to divide these beauties - perhaps after next year's blooms.  If anyone's interested in a few starts, let me know.  You can come for a visit and take some home.



With glorious sunflowers, not necessarily in rows, but all over the farm.
As the sun hit this one squarely in the face this morning, the drop of sunflower juice sparkled in its rays like a diamond.

Shaded at the moment but turning its face to the sun.

An heirloom varietal, Evening Surprise (I think), this deep maroon beauty is one I started from seed and planted as a spindly, gangly little plant that I wasn't sure would flourish.  This is the first bloom of four plants that survived an unexpected cold snap and corgis traipsing through the flower bed.  I love it!

I know, I know....I should (and will) keep record of the names of the flowers I plant, especially the heirlooms.  This soft lemony and multi-flowered beauty is a volunteer from an heirloom I started last summer.  One of my favorites, it's really more of a soft, pastel yellow - very delicate and prolific.

Sunflower and silo - both in awe of the flawless sky.

I believe I might have a cross-breed in this flower.  I have a variety that has a deep reddish-brown circle around the seed center.  If I am accurate in my hypothesis, this slightly circled flower could be a cross between my lemony yellow heirloom and its friend with the darker centered circle.  (I failed to get a photo of that one in this batch of images, regretfully.)

Two different varieties growing side by side, both volunteers from last year's seeds.  I will, yes I will, take notes of their names once I get back into my seed stash.
As I was taking photos this morning of all these happy flowers, I stopped to watch the number of pollinators that were busy on the plants.  I saw numerous bees of all sizes, along with other insects who shared the pollen.  And at this very moment as I type this, a female goldfinch is perched on one of the flowers within an arm's length of my chair. 
I invite everyone to enjoy these glorious flowers and plant some of your own.  At the very moment I type this, a pair of goldfinches are eating from a plant within an arm's length.
WOW !!!!!