Denise Goldberg's blog

Monday, March 30, 2015

buds against blue

Yesterday's pure blue sky was a good backdrop for trees wearing buds, soon to be spring flowers.

buds, soon to be flowers

Sunday, March 29, 2015

seeking new (plant) life

Last spring I saw crocus in bloom on April 1st and snowdrops emerging on April 3rd. This spring it appears I'll need to wait a little longer. There is still a blanket of snow on the ground; more bare ground emerges from the edges every day.

I saw a few signs of spring life on my walk this afternoon, the leaves of still-green periwinkle emerging from the snow, a few spring perennials starting to show shoots of green, a few trees wearing buds. Soon...

periwinkle leaves in green, emerging from the snow

art at the airport

When I fly to Philadelphia on JetBlue I pass by an exhibit space in Terminal E that houses a piece of art, part of the Art at the Airport project.

On my passage through the airport this weekend I saw a new-to-me sculpture by Lucia Thomé titled Haulin’ Sol.

Philadelphia artist Lucia Thomé has created an installation made entirely of recycled materials. The artwork addresses the importance of re-purposing discarded materials and pays homage to one of the world's most famous modern artists, Sol LeWitt (1928-2007).

Thomé has fabricated a small scale flat-bed truck carrying cargo patterned after LeWitt's Wall Drawing 1152. LeWitt created a series of large-scale wall drawings that have been described as bold, geometric structures that appear deceivingly simple.


I found it fascinating to follow the flowing lines of the sculpture.

It's a pleasure to have art as a distraction from typical airport people watching.

A sculpture by Lucia Thome made entirely of recycled materials, as seen in terminal E at the Philadelphia Airport

Friday, March 27, 2015


A pansy from the side shows a bit of its painted face.

side view of a pansy

Thursday, March 26, 2015


What's that sound? I was ready to head out to walk when I heard the sound of heavy rain hitting the windows and the ground. I've been enjoying daylight walks lately but tonight it felt like waiting a while would be a good idea.

An hour later light rain was falling and fog had descended. I grabbed my blinking lights (to be seen) and headed out. Given the conditions I did loops through quiet neighborhood streets. While the streets are back to bare pavement, the lawns are still covered with a blanket of white although there are strips along the edge where the ground is peeking out. It was on the bare ground where I saw a group of robins, hopping, then flying off.

Robins always make me believe that spring is on the way. I see them occasionally in the winter - and according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds they spend the winter here too.

Although robins are considered harbingers of spring, many American Robins spend the whole winter in their breeding range. But because they spend more time roosting in trees and less time in your yard, you're much less likely to see them. The number of robins present in the northern parts of the range varies each year with the local conditions.

Seeing robins this evening made me smile.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

blue & white

While there was snow decorating the sand dunes on this chilly day in late January, the ocean and beach are seasonless. It was a day where the wet sand wore clear reflections of the sky.

reflections in blue and white
at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Monday, March 23, 2015

a pinwheel

The petals of this bright pink flower remind me of a pinwheel.

a cyclamen as a pinwheel

Sunday, March 22, 2015

on my wrist

Hey! What's that on my wrist?

At some point last year I started looking at fitness bands thinking it would be a good way to track my everyday movements and potentially a good motivator to do more. The bands typically pair with phones; I stopped looking when I found that for my Windows Phone I needed version 8.1 - and Verizon hadn't yet pushed that update. I didn't forget about the bands when my phone upgrade was completed in late December but I also didn't actively start looking again.

Early this year one of my colleagues stopped by to show me his Microsoft Band. Sold! The features looked right to me, including tracking of heart rate, calories, steps, the ability to track runs (for me that means walks), bike rides, other exercise as well. It can also be used to monitor sleep, a truly essential function. The Band also adds the magic of Cortana and notification of emails, texts, and phone calls. Oh! That looks good.

The Microsoft Band is designed to be used with a phone although some functionality is supported by using a USB connection to a computer. It supports use of Windows Phone 8.1, Android, or IPhone operating systems.

The bands were first released in October, apparently in very short supply. After looking, placing himself on a waiting list at the Microsoft Store, waiting, David received his band. I went through essentially the same process, getting mine just before Microsoft made them generally available at 3 retail outlets in addition to their own stores.

When not using the functions of the band I have it set to show the current time, day, and date. This shows against a black background. When the power button is pressed the background changes to the color I selected (purple for now!) and the current time is shown along with indicators with the current values for heartbeat, steps taken, distance traveled, and calories. The values other than heartbeat are automatically reset at midnight so you are always seeing the current day.

Microsoft Band funtions

More details can also be seen by swiping sideways and clicking on a tile representing the activity.

running activity tile on Microsoft Band

Even without selecting an activity to monitor the band records steps taken and calories expended.

I've had my Microsoft Band for less than a week and I've used it to track walks and to track sleep.

Both the run and bike functions allow the selected use of GPS to map the route taken. There are warnings on the web site that GPS uses a lot of power (and I've seen that to be true). Even without using GPS the distance and speed to tracked. With GPS those numbers may be somewhat more accurate and the generated workout statistics include a map of where I've been.

When walking the band vibrates each time I have completed another mile. I was surprised at that during my first walk but I quickly came to expect that feedback.

The band synchs automatically with my phone. If I am impatient I can open the app on my phone and start the synchronization process. Once it is done I can see the results of my activity on my phone.

results of a walk

... or on the dashboard of when I am logged in:

results of walk on

What fascinates me even more is the ability to track my sleep. I already knew that I really need to target an earlier during the week bedtime but that absolutely slapped me in the face when I looked at my sleep time on a weekday morning and found that I had less than 5 hours of sleep. Yikes!

sleep time

The dark purple longer lines represent restful sleep while the lighter purple shorter lines show light sleep. The red lines are awake times. Hmm... I think I need to figure out how to have more restful sleep.

The image above is a screen shot taken from my phone; there is additional information below that can be seen by scrolling on the phone. The full set of information can also be seen at when I am logged on to my Microsoft account. A screen shot from that application is shown below.

sleep time from

I love the ability to see how far and how fast I have walked or biked, the ability to see my total steps for the day, to see my heart rate, and to watch the quality of my sleep. I think this is going to be a very good training tool.

The ability to see incoming texts, emails, and calls with a quick glimpse at my wrist is an interesting addition.

So far, I'm pleased with my new device

If you've decided to follow me and get your own band, you might be interested in the (free) eBook Microsoft Band Field Guide by Paul Thurrott (as linked from this page).

crazy windy

I was driving home from Maine this morning and wow! it is windy out there. Even with two hands firmly gripping the steering wheel I still had to recover from a few wind pushes. I just checked the current weather conditions; the wind is west at 23 miles per hour with gusts at 38 miles per hour.

It's crazy windy!

Friday, March 20, 2015


Even knowing that the season lags the calendar date, it's time to welcome the vernal equinox. The air is still quite nippy right now and while a jump to warmer temperatures would be welcome I'll be happy with a slow edging into spring warmth.

There are actually three events to celebrate today. From The Weather Channel:

Friday, March 20 brings with it a celestial showcase, a trio of events that includes a new moon, at 5:36 a.m., a total solar eclipse, at 5:46 a.m. and the vernal equinox, at 6:45 p.m., all Eastern time.

I'm looking forward to seeing the first grasses and flowers (of the season) emerging to add color to our world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

can you hear the wind?

Listen. Can you hear the wind?

The forecast was for a sunny afternoon with temperatures in the 40s dropping into the teens overnight with cold for the rest of the week. I thought I might get in one last sort of warm walk before the chill returned. That wasn't to be.

Late in the afternoon rain started falling, whipped by a very strong wind. By the time I reached home the rain had stopped, the temperature had dropped to the low 30s, and the wind was howling. It was surprisingly good walking weather except for the few times when the wind almost blew me over.


Monday, March 16, 2015

ruffled and painted

Pansies wear a painted face and ruffled edges, presenting intricate beauty.

ruffled and painted


The snowfall record is officially broken!

Yesterday's snow at Boston's Logan Airport brought the season's total to 108.6 inches, a full inch above the previous record set during the season of 1995-1996. It feels right; after all the bulk of this year's snow came within a span of 4 weeks, not a full winter season.

falling snow

falling snow, from the beginning of this year's crazy snow season

Click to read the article Boston’s winter vaults to top of snowfall records in today's Boston Globe.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

a walk in the snow

Yesterday was a day of steady rain.
Today was a day of light occasional rain.
Late in the afternoon it started to snow.

I headed out for a walk. As I walked...

I heard the snow crunching beneath my feet.
I saw trees coated in white.
I saw the air decorated by floating white flakes.

red lentil magic

Red lentils make a good base for soup, one that is a favorite of mine. Recently I've found that cooking up red lentils as a sauce to toss with vegetables makes a quick, tasty, and healty meal.

Red lentil and vegetables:

4 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin
red pepper flakes
1 block extra firm tofu, cubed

vegetables of your choice

from tonight's variation:
3 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
6 carrots, sliced
1 bag of frozen white corn

Place the red lentils and water into a pot and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, remove the white froth floating on top and reduce the head to low. Add spices as desired. Add the tofu to the lentil mixture (if desired), stir.

Add a lid, leaving it open a crack.

Cook the red lentil mixture on low for 30 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the other vegetables. I usually use the microwave to cook each of the vegetables but any method of cooking would work. As the vegetables are cooked, add them to a large bowl.

When the lentils are cooked, pour them over the mixed vegetables. Toss the vegetable and lentil mixture. Serve.

This concoction makes enough food for me a dinner plus lunches for the entire week.

You can easily use the recipe as a starting point, decreasing or increasing the amounts to meet your needs.

If you're interested in the nutritional value of red lentils, I found a concise summary at the bottom of this page on Bob's Red Mill site.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


The air outside is chilly and there is a freezing rain advisory posted for this morning. The forecast goes on to show rain for later today and a bit of snow tomorrow. Hmm... We're only a week away from the vernal equinox yet the ground is still covered by a blanket of snow.

When I look back to last year's emerging flowers I saw crocus on April 1st, daffodils on April 16th, and an early tulip on April 27th. I wonder if this year's late-leaving snow will push the flower season out a bit.

For today's color, I bring you a tulip from last weekend's Wellesley College greenhouse visit.

pretty in pink

Friday, March 13, 2015


The flesh of this cactus wears the look of fabric.It is very much alive, soaking up warmth in one of the greenhouses at Wellesley College.

cactus showing stripes

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I love that there is light during most of my early evening walk.
I hate that it's still dark out when I wake up in the morning.

I guess that means I have a love hate relationship with our recent switch to Daylight Time. I'll be happier in a few weeks when a bit of morning light returns.

Monday, March 09, 2015

from the edge

From the edge, a view of a bright pink pansy...

on edge, a view of a pansy from the side

Saturday, March 07, 2015

greenhouse tulip

The ground is still covered in snow, shrinking a bit but still there. Wishing for color, I headed to Wellesley College.

The Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses are a series of interconnected greenhouses with plants in different stages of life. There are cactus and there are ferns, there are flowers in bloom and some past peak. I was quite happy wandering, absorbing warmth and color.

One room housed pots of blooming spring flowers. The predominant types were daffodils and pansies, with a single pot of tulips just past peak bloom.

tulips in a greenhouse

More color is waiting for your eyes in the gallery gardens at Wellesley College - 2015.

Thursday, March 05, 2015


Layers of leaves, a splash of green provides some bright (photo) color on this still wintry day.

layers of green

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

patterns in water

Pools of water sat parallel to the edge of the beach at mid-tide, emptying into streams heading towards the ocean. As the water flowed it created swirling patterns.

water swirls to the ocean

Monday, March 02, 2015

orchid bright

I love the mix of orange and pink in this beautiful flower.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

beach walk

I headed to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge today in the hopes of satisfying my need for a walk on the beach.

There is still a lot of snow on the ground, too much depth to traverse without snowshoes or skis. Given that I was hoping to walk for a while on the beach I crossed my fingers and didn't bring my snowshoes - I simply took a chance and headed east.

The road in the refuge was cleared to a point a few miles in, barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass. I stopped at the (partially plowed) parking area for the second boardwalk and looked at what appeared to be deep snow leading to the boardwalk. Just as I popped out of the car I saw two people headed down through the snow. They told me that the snow between the parking area and the boardwalk was tramped down to a pretty solid surface and that the boardwalk was clear. Awesome!

Given the amount of snow that we've had over the last month I was surprised to find not a bit of white on the boardwalk. The snow was always light and fluffy; perhaps the wind cleared the boardwalk.

snow, stamped into a trail of sorts         a clear surface on the boardwalk

I reached the beach to find pure magic.

It was mid-tide, with the tide heading out. There were long pools of water between the snow and the ocean, sandwiched with broad bands of sand. There were places where I could step across the pools of water so I was able to wander from ocean to the snow.

sand, water, snow... at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

More photos from this afternoon's beach walk can be viewed in the gallery Parker River and... 2015 starting with this photo and ending here.


Funny... I was focused on the center of this tiny flower and I never saw the bugs.

When I opened the photo on my computer I had to look twice; I thought I was seeing things. Nope, there are bugs walking on the petals of this flower. There are so many of them I am having a hard time believing that I didn't notice them in real life.

flowers and bugs!