Category Archives: Nature

Day Brighteners

I had to go to work an hour early yesterday, well before the agency opened.  My agency is housed in a six story former college dorm. It is surrounded by tall spruce and pine  trees.  I noticed a small hawk in the top of one of the spruces as I approached the front door. It was making a real racket, screeching and flapping its wings.  I heard its cry all day as it harassed the flock of crows that also hang out in the tall trees.  It zoomed past my window a couple of times. I  am not sure if it was a Kestrel or a Merlin. We have both of them here.  Work has been pretty stressful, and that little hawk was a real day brightener for me. I hope it is nesting nearby and I get to see it all spring.

What has been a day brightener for you lately?

Escape Artists

Photo Credit: Texas Biomedical Research Institute

Baboons were making the news again yesterday – escaping from a facility in San Antonio.

Per CNN, “Four baboons, having clearly read too much dystopian fiction, escaped a biomedical research lab in San Antonio by climbing a 55-gallon barrel and jumping out of their enclosure.  The institute says the three baboons and their turncloak co-conspirator are all “doing well.”  The blue barrels they used to escape, however, have been removed from the enclosure and will be evaluated. Perhaps they enriched too much.”

What would you like for a little enrichment?

 

 

Emus As Symbols

Todays post comes from NorthShorer.

Like everyone, I suppose, I made assumptions about what I would be like in retirement. I imagined a man straight of back, steady of hand, with a piercing chilling blue-eyed gaze. Well, make that a deep mysterious brown-eyed distant look above a rich white beard to tell of the lessons I had learned of wind and wave, time and tide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead I ended up being a doubled-over rumpled dumpling who cannot look at much but the ground, lost in pain, not deep thoughts.

You know what they say about people who assume. You end up being as daft as emus, a person who amuses others with fake truths. I like the word assumption, with its sump right in the middle, where one ends up from assuming.

But, of course, it is false thinking that making assumptions is bad. Life is based on assumptions. For example, we assume much about people we encounter on the road, that they will be polite and careful. It is only the few times our assumptions are false that we notice, and then over-generalize about it. It is also wise to assume idiots are on the road and keep a weather eye for them.

Love is a large assumption. If we do not assume trust and fidelity, then we cannot really love. Or in agape love, I assume I can only give and assume from their it is not my concern. Feed a starving dog and it may bite you, they say. But love says you assume perhaps it will. You guard your fingers and keep feeding. Who knows what the starving dog has survived.

So go ahead. Be an emu. Stick your long neck out.

But I assume I could be wrong.

What bird is your totem?

Say It Ain’t “Snow”

I moved to Minnesota in 1974 and at the end of my first Minnesota winter, it snowed 11″ on April  8.  At Carlton we celebrated by having a snow sculpture contest on The Bald Spot.  So I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that it’s snowing right now.  But really?

What trend are you just finished with?

 

Too Much of a Good Thing

Two years ago, husband and I bought cow pots (containers made from cow manure), in which to start our vegetable seedlings. It certainly made sense, since they were advertised to fertilize the plants while they were getting started. Then the plants could be put  in the garden pot and all, so they would continue to be  fertilized as they grew outside.

They sure didn’t work the way the ads said they would. We had the most pitiful seedlings the last two years.  (It didn’t help that last year the cat ate all the pepper seedlings before we could get them in the ground.) The seedlings started out fine, but  6 weeks after of germination their growth came to a stand still as the roots made contact with the pot, and they languished until we got them out of the pots and into the ground.  It dawned on us that the manure that made up the pots was too rich and “hot” for the seedlings to tolerate. We should have known, since we put composted manure on the garden in the fall so it has a chance to really rot and cool down over the winter.  The cow pots were too much of a good thing. This year we used plastic pots to start the seedlings, and they are the best we have ever started.

When have you experienced too much of a good thing?  When has a product (or person) not lived up you your expectations?

Sew Buttons on Your Underwear

Forty years ago I gave myself a quest: to photograph MY North Shore, the stretch from Flood Bay to Silver Cliff, or as locals called it then, Silver Creek Cliff. Because I had use of a darkroom, it was at first all done in black and white, or perhaps with some sepia toning, or duotone effect, or Sabattier effect. Flood Bay back then was not the mass of concrete and curbs and cables it is now. It was then as it is now one of the very few official state wayside rests. Despite that, back then it was just a gravel patch with some posts to keep people from driving into the lake, which every so often people still managed to do. Locals routinely hauled away lake stone and gravel for their use, which left no dent on the amount on the shore. Also, then there was no monstrous resort along the shore. And Silver Cliff was a road, not a tunnel. The pictures I framed in simple shadow boxes without glass. I hung them on our knotty pine living room wall. (More about that later.)

The winnowing process of history to our benefit has eliminated most of the pictures. A few exist in my computer, taken from the negatives. My goal was to push pictures to expressionism. Often with high or low contrast.

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One picture that I took in the remnants of a lumber mill a quarter mile from Betty’s Pies was our Christmas card picture.

Sometimes good fortune favored me, when it disfavored elsewhere with a massive storm.

A few I have drawn in graphite or pastel, often doing some adjustment of reality.

One sad picture remains, even though I did not frame it. How did history not winnow this poor picture out? It must be a sign, must it not. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

When this picture first appeared in the developing fluid, my first thought was it not worth making anything of it. My second thought was that here indeed was a sign. It must be from God giving me my life’s quest. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.) It could not be just random change. I was, in fact, until recently quite good with needle and thread, which my mother taught me at an early age, despite long sideways glances from my father.

I am sad to report that I never did discover how to fulfill the quest. Sigh. And now my chance is lost. Sigh. But I did fulfill one smaller quest and quite by accident. An undisciplined boy a year older than my son lived down the road from us. He was often in our house as small boy but not later. His teens were much troubled, as were his twenties. Now he is a brilliant photographer. I mean that. Does amazing work in the camera and in his computer. Travels the worlds. Makes a good living. Has a happy life. Most of his work is of the North Shore. He is friends with both of my children on facebook, where he told them that his inspiration came from looking at those photographs on our wall. To think such beauty came from such a shriveled seed!

Did you find a life’s quest? How has it gone?

Positive Lifestyle Changes

The month of March was pretty difficult for our daughter.  Early in the month she rear ended a large pickup with her Subaru Forester.  She was only driving about 30 mph at the time when the pickup in front of her stopped suddenly. She was cited for following too close.  The pickup sustained no damage. There was only $3000 damage to the front end of her car, but, since all eight of the air bags deployed, the insurance company wrote her car off.  It would cost $16,000 to repair them.  This, then, entailed her getting a rental vehicle, waiting for the damage estimate and the insurance cheque to get deposited in her account, and the purchase of a new vehicle.  There were tons of phone calls to me, with her in anxious agony when adjusters didn’t get back to her when they said they would or when the  cheque wasn’t deposited when it was promised.  (The local car dealership  was having a great sale on new Subarus, and she wanted to get in on the deal. They told her to just write them a cheque and they wouldn’t cash it until the insurance payment arrived.  Since the insurance payment was late, there was angst and heartburn that the cheque to the car dealership was going to bounce.)  This is the second car she has totaled in three years. Thank goodness the insurance company isn’t going to cancel her policy.  She lives in an area noted for horrible traffic and lots of accidents, and she isn’t even considered high risk.

March’s next blow was a doozy.  Daughter lives in a one bedroom apartment with her cat, a cat that never goes outside.  Last week daughter noted that her cat was particularly droopy and was avoiding eating and was hesitant to walk on the carpeted floor.  A closer look revealed that the cat and the carpets were infested with fleas. There were even fleas in her rental car.  Daughter surmises she brought fleas home with her from work.  She does intensive family therapy in people’s homes, and probably picked the fleas up in one of the homes. The same thing happened to her supervisor last year.  Daughter had no previous experience with fleas, so this meant multiple, distressed phone calls to me, trips to the vet, constant laundry and vacuuming, and setting off flea bombs in the apartment.  We are now flea free.

Daughter said that March’s events have prompted her to make positive lifestyle changes. She wants to slow down,  simplify her spaces, and get rid of unnecessary things and be more orderly. She said that when she cleaned her Forester out preparatory to  the insurance adjusters looking at it, she was appalled at all the junk she had there. “Mom! It looked like the Box Car Children were living in my vehicle!”  She stripped down to socks and underwear outside her front door after work the other night and put her clothes directly in the washing machine. I told her she could probably strip in the bath tub for the same results and less alarm for the neighbors.

It does no good to scold someone  when they are distressed, so my internal, unspoken monologue to Daughter during March has been a very constant and rapid “YOU NEED TO START  TAKING YOUR G** D***** ADHD MEDICATION AGAIN!!!  YOU ALWAYS DRIVE TOO FAST! SLOW DOWN! PAY ATTENTION!!  THERE IS NOTHING I CAN SAY THAT IS GOING TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER RIGHT NOW.  DEAL WITH IT!!  HERE, TALK TO YOUR FATHER!!

It is no surprise my dentist told me yesterday that it looks like I have been grinding my teeth in the daytime. This is a recent development since my last checkup six months ago.  I imagine it really increased in March. I paid attention today and noticed just how much teeth grinding I am doing. I hope that as long as Daughter sticks with her positive lifestyle changes, I can make my positive lifestyle changes and save my tooth enamel.

What has prompted, or could prompt, you to make positive lifestyle changes?