September 27, 2008

Adrift

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by czygyny

I haven’t felt much like writing my feelings and doings in a blog lately. My fears for the future of us all is not something I wish to burden others with, although I know there is a time of rejoicing later. I am troubled in spirit.

I have a lot of things I would write about if I could just make myself sit and start typing.

Still…

I have been taking pictures of course, and here are some of my favorites.

The first is my new betta! I have a beautiful cobalt blue female, too, but I couldn’t get a good image of her.

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One of my favorite flowers to bloom in the spare and dry autumn time is Lycoris radiata, a relative of the much larger pink ‘Naked Lady’ lily. These flowers come up from bare ground and get about 12″ tall.

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This is a new banana leaf, unfurling. The three green tones caught my eye, the two shades causing a deeper shadow of color on the bottom.

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The sun came up on the equinox morning, giving a twice a year shadow to my rusty sawblade collection.

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The last one is a stunning green dragonfly that spent the night on my harvest decoration on my front porch. He just sat there in a cold stupor, giving me a great photo opportunity.

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September 9, 2008

T-Shirt design

Posted in blogging, drawing, photography tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:05 pm by czygyny

Although I haven’t done much drawing or art in the last six months, I have been painting T-Shirts. I despair of ever being able to sell them, because they take so long to do, and I am not happy with the way the paints handle after a few washes.

Still, I think that it would be a fun and profitable hobby if I can get the amount of time down to a reasonable limit and make sure the paints, dyes and beads hold up wash after wash.

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This is my purple dragonfly shirt: I am pleased at how the flat paint is holding up, but my pearlescent paint cracks and some washed out of the sponged borders.

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 Here is my Flames shirt. This is my second time at trying this design. The first shirt was too large and the paint faded quite a bit. One trick is to get the paint on very thick. The hardest part for me is the heat-set to make the paint more permanent.

This design is freestyle, painted on without any pre-design patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

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 This is the very first shirt I painted with the Lumiere metallic fabric paints by Jacquard. I created the patterns with real oak leaves, using them as stamps.

 

 Here is the detail on the arm, and as you can see, one of the beads has come loose. I sewed them on tightly, but still have some problems keeping them on.

 

 

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Here is my favorite shirt. This cat design I created some time back on the computer, and used it as a pattern, and started embellishing it. I used embroidery floss for his fuzzy mane. I like the 3D aspect of the floss.

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The blue shirt is relatively plain. I used fabric pens to draw curlicue designs on the borders and painted the sewn hem areas. Alas, the paint cracks due to the stretchiness of the areas, but the fabric pen seems to hold up to laundering. Too bad I dislike sewing so much, I think that some sort of ribbon sewn on these areas would be attractive.

 

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I nearly forgot this shirt, I found the pink one hanging in my closet (which is behind where my printer sits, so it makes it difficult to see what is hanging inside) so I am working on a freestyle paisley/swirl design. I plan on using embroidery thread for some of the detail after I finish with the painting.

 

I really enjoy using the fabric pens for this free-style doodling. It is tricky to get an even and smooth line trying to draw on squiggly t-shirt fabric.

September 3, 2008

Tying up loose ends

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , at 9:21 am by czygyny

A few months ago, my ex invited me to come and spend some time on a houseboat he had reserved for Labor Day weekend. I remained vague and noncommittal about it since our parting has been less than cordial, with a few obstacles remaining that blocks the finalization of our divorce.

When he called me and told me his father was diagnosed with cancer, indeed the same very rare cancer that his mother had died from a few years back, I decided to go and spend a day on the Shasta Lake and visit him, for perhaps the last time.

It was a bit akward to climb into the boat waiting at the dock. This particular brother and I had our differences over time, but it was nice to be at a point where we could put those memories aside for the day. I sat in silence and watched the wake behind the boat, and watched the ringed shore as we sailed past. I had spent many an hour on that boat in years past.

 

 

I was exceedingly glad to have a photo opportunity with the Hawaii (Martin) Mars, moored at Bridge Bay! All summer long I wanted to get a good picture of this awesome plane in action. There was no action, but plenty of opportunity to get right up underneath it and marvel at its immense size.

 

The houseboat he reserved was a big one, room to hold the extended family. With five original siblings, and the subsequent spouses and children, when this clan gets together lots of room is needed. Thankfully, there were only eight on board the day I was there.

It has been perhaps five years since I have seen these folks. Another brother had his three children there, and I was glad to see them doing well. I particulary liked the youngest, whom was only an infant when I saw him last. He became Mr. Know-it-all around me and seemed to be enjoying the attentions of a newly-found aunt.

 This was one of those moments where he was showing off. Cute kid.

Of course the water level is extremely low right now. We talked about how low it has been (I’ve seen it lower), how fast it can fill back up, and boy, a person with a small boat and some time would find a fortune in lost fishing lures, sunglasses and jewelry in a low time like this.

I found the banks to be fascinating photo opportunities, and managed to find some rocks to bring home. The denuded soil has been eroded away to show the intricate and varied backbone rock structure of the hills.

I found oppourtunity to give one of my eye-glazing geology lessons on the various mountain ranges that converge in our area, of course.

The play of shadow on the concentric rings and the contrast between tree, stone and water kept me snapping images all day.

I spent time with my sister-in-law, catching up on all the happenings, watched the kids play in their canoes and fishing poles. We filled in the gaps of information and soaked up the beautiful weather.

I finally spent some time with my father-in-law. He looked so much more haggard, with that look of knowing in his eye that he stood on the threshold of eternity. Leaving our differences from times past, we just spent silent time looking at waves and hills and sky.

I let memories pass by me like the waves, of all those camping outings where there would be perhaps 10 to 20 family members come together. We’d all have fun until the alcohol would show its troublesome face, and once again the old wounds of family drama would open. I played my part, too. I was not innocent to causing part of the drama. We were all volatile and defensive.

I remember helping to create lavish birthday parties, Christmas banquets and then stand watch with the family when the matriarch left the world after her brief bout of cancer. Then, the frightening agony of the disintegration of my marriage brought the dividing knife between them and me, and I saw them no more.

I was glad that all could come together and put the angst behind us for this time. The day played out, the sun began to sink low, it was time for dinner and then a quick trip back to the dock before darkness fell.

I stood on the bank and watched the boat leave, listened to the traffic whisper across Turntable Bridge,  glad that home was just a few minutes drive away. After watching the gathering dusk, the waves on the shore, the ducks swimming past and feeling the breeze play over my face, I turned to my car in the now vacant, rutted dirt parking area and left the day behind.

This time had stirred up a lot of emotion for me, and it was good to be back up on the lake I love so much. I was pleased to see the next generation growing up like well watered trees, and glad to see the now fading generation before their time comes to pass on.

Although the tree, my part in this family, has been cut down, the tangled roots remain, memories of the past.

August 25, 2008

Summer endings

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:20 pm by czygyny

 

The sweetest of Springs has now past, a smokey Summer of freedom is passing away. Some blue-oak leaves are beginning to show drought-induced senescence, and the Canadian geese are starting to practice their migration flights, strengthening the wings of this year’s offspring to complete the long journey ahead.

The evenings are sneaking up earlier, and the nights are spangled with stars that have been veiled all summer. The symphony of crickets still fills the night air making me I wish I had access to a top notch recording setup to bottle up their song for silent, dark winter nights.

The garden has matured, looking a bit haggard by the insect invasion that attacks every leaf and stem. Pumpkins, melons and winter squash peek out from the broad leaves and the tiny winter veggie seedlings begin their little green lives under cover of row cloth to keep the melting sun at bay.

The luxury of sleeping in has passed, school comes around again, and its up at a dark 5:30 in the morning now, instead of 7 or 8. It is just as well, the days are still so hot it is better to be outside working in the early morning than to wait until it hits 90° or more.

I haven’t completed my list of things to do: I haven’t had my big yard sale, yet. My sheep haven’t been sold, no firewood provisions made, nor do I have hay in the barn. Where did the time go?

It’s been a great time of being home, life’s busy-making has filled in every niche and opening of time. But, money is getting tight enough to need to look ahead in a few months. Hopefully with the coming cold, dark and wet season, life will slow down to allow me to pick up the job search again.

But, lately I have let my worries get a hold of me when I look at the state of the world, today. We seem on the brink of disaster, our way of life has never seemed so tenuous. My thoughts turn to survival, not business-as-usual. The world’s weather seems to have become a foreign force, floods, fire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes in various places and in ever larger magnitudes. Unrest in nations, the financial health of banks are suffering, the rock-solid investment in real estate has proven a foundation of sand.

I have a feeling that the next few years will be a testing time for all of us.

But, for now, the year turns on the downhill slide. Soon, blessed rain will fall, trees will bare their branches, birds will depart for warmer climes. The winter coats and mufflers will come out of storage, and the summer of abundance will pass its torch to the cleansing time of winter, with the brief and colorful interlude of fall as a prize to enjoy before darkness falls.

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“Yeah, but what about the photographs?”

Well of course, I have been taking pictures!

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Is this a bee, a wasp or a fly?

It is a wasp-mimic fly, as the large compound eyes that touch one another proves. Cute little guy.

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Now this is the real deal! This red ground-hunter wasp has the most unique smokey, irridescent wings that reflect the blue of the sky. She looks potent and I believe it! I fished her out of the pool, so I had the opportunity to take a series of images of her before she gathered enough strength to fly away.

A relative of hers, a larger, black and irridescent green ground-hunter proves too elusive to get a good picture. She recognizes me, too, unlike the other species who ignore me. When I draw close she hovers in front of my face menacingly, all 2 1/2 inches of black venom! Maybe I can share her later. I hear they really pack a whallop in the sting business.

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I don’t see these formations very often, lines and lines of cumulus undulatus. I more frequently see higher, smoother undulating clouds.

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This is a close up of one of my Astrophytus cacti. This star cactus has a wonderful shape and is covered with tiny dots of white. Close up makes for a good abstract image.

Thanks for dropping by!

August 9, 2008

Potpourri pix

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 3:35 pm by czygyny

This is just a small mixed-salad of photos I have taken lately, life through the eye of my camera.

Water drop on an Aquilegia or Columbine leaf.

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A curve of light and shadow on Shasta Dam

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Solanum rostratum, Buffalo Bur. Just one of those odd volunteers that come up in my garden. It has fascinating prickly seedpods. This is a wildflower that hails from the south, so I haven’t a clue how it came to me.

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I LOVE rusty stuff! This is the door of my 45 Chevy dually flatbed, a rare model. It needs a new home. (hint, hint)

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Howz about that for a pretty sunset! Look at those cloud shadows!

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I can’t pass up a good dry mudpuddle, and this one had great geometric shapes created in the drying film of mud.

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This enterprising bumblebee on a nigella flower has her pollen sacks crammed full of sustanance.

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Botroyidal formations of sulfer and salts forming on the sand of E. Stillwater Creek.

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This last image is from a series I did exploring the bleached roots of a grand old white oak. The porthole led on to more textures and patterns of grey, like dusty hills.

August 1, 2008

Wildflowers in August? In Redding!?

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , at 7:28 pm by czygyny

Recently, I took the dogs down to East Stillwater Creek, which flows by my property. Thanks to beavers, there is still plenty of water in spots, with bullfrogs and dragonflies, herons and ducks enjoying the last haven of water. This is the time of year when the air is heavy with the resinous smells of plants that are tough as nails and that bloom during the driest and hottest time of year. Here are some that I found on my walk.

When the north state is powdery dry and withered, it may come as a surprise to local folks that wildflowers do indeed bloom in August. The oak trees may be hardened off to a blue-green, the manzanita parches away and the grasses are as golden as straw, but here and there you will find splashes of wild color. This Madia elegans grows where most of the late summer flowers are to be found, in dry gravel washes alongside waning creekbeds.

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This next lovely flower has the unfortunate common name of ‘Clammyweed’ due to its sticky plant parts, the Polanisia dodecandra  has an unpleasant odor when brushed. It grows in my garden so well I have to pull out several throughout the season. It resembles cleome, to which it is related.

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These next plants are Hemizonia, the species I am not quite sure of, but these hardy plants have a strong, resinous odor I find appealing.

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This buckwheat, Eriogonum vimineum is a delicate flower that you need to get up close and personal to see its beauty.

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A personal favorite native shrub is the Buttonwillow, Cephalanthus occidentalis. You find this shrubby plant only by areas with water close to the surface, right along side creek beds. It has a spicy fragrance that eludes definition. I use this in my water gardening.

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Now, I dare say that anyone that has been out walking down a country road has seen this lovely sky blue flower, chickory or Cichorium intybus, a relative of the Endive.

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This stunning flower is about 4″ across and sits atop a lanky, sticky plant. It is Blazing Stars, otherwise known as Mentzelia laevicaulis. I also call it Velcro-leaf, for the fact that it will so determinly cling to my clothing that the entire leaf will behave as if it was glued on.

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Not all that is colorful is in bloom. This noxious, but lovely plant is Poison Oak, the bane of kids and dog owners everywhere. It frequently turns red during this time of year as it approaches dormancy.

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This willow has the most interesting green/silver bi-color effect. I believe this is Salix lasiolepis, or Arroyo willow, but I may be mistaken. It makes pussy-willow catkins early in the spring. The beavers find this tree delicious, I find it fascinating.

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Even in death, beauty can be seen. This is the Seepspring Monkeyflower seed pods, looking like tiny paper lanterns. This common yellow wet-land flower, Mimulus guttatus, can be found along side creeks or even ditches alongside roads.

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There is something serene and quieting to a dry-grass display like this. Hare’s tail grass, American brooklime and Mimulus all come together to compose a lovely everlasting bouquet.

The California poppies may be gone and the lupines just a memory, but the determined wildflowers of our area continue on despite the arid weather, all you need do is look.

July 19, 2008

My summer garden

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:37 pm by czygyny

 

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Summer has reached its midpoint. It is a summer of opaque, dull skies, opalescent clouds and hazy horizons. It is a summer of choking smoke and anxious days while the wildfires burn tens of thousands of acres. It is mornings of ash covered cars and evenings of sack-cloth dark suns and nights of blood red moons. Mountain skylines are obliterated, the layers of smoke revealing the hitherto unseen layers of coastal range peaks that had been viewed as one seamless line. 

Not much keeps me indoors, not rain, nor hundred plus degree days, nor choking smoke. A day spent inside is a day wasted. So, despite the eye burning, allergy inflaming air quality, I’ve been out weeding, watering, and loving my gardens.

The images above are two views of my front yard. You can see the vegetable garden in the back, and the smokey tree line to the south. ‘Nessie’ my limestone sea-serpent sculpture jealously guards her cache of dog-bones, thrown there to prevent them from becoming deadly projectiles under the blades of the lawn mower.

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This view is the driveway strip, a dry, hot buffer between the gravel driveway and the lusher lawn and flowers. Hardy plants like Salvia gauranitica, lavender and germander show off my large driftwood piece.

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This view used to showcase my 7′ tall Opuntia ficus-indica, but horrific winter winds toppled it, and now my Opuntia ‘Santa Rosita’ shines in the forground with sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and various rusty things, at least until my tall specimen grows up again!

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Here’s a bit lusher spot of the yard, my perennial beds. Here is Canna Tropicana, hibiscus moscheutos, Stargazer lily and pink phlox.

A bit earlier in the season, the Shasta daisies and pale pink phlox are in bloom with threadleaf coreopsis in the back.

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I found the most amazing Calabrachoa, a pale orange with a terracotta center, grouped it with a purple Heliotrope, Amaranthus ‘Joseph’s Coat’ and a stiff trailing sedum, and it became a great focus in mom’s yard.

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For a dramatic plant that is hardy, drought resistant and all-summer-long color, Hesperaloe parviflora can’t be beat! The flower spikes are nearly eight feet tall this year! Hummingbirds love it!

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This is one of my sunflowers with a honey bee and Argentine ant. This photo just stops me dead when I look at it, for some reason. It looks like it has been drawn with colored pencil. The combination of smokey sky and facing into the sun has washed this subject out and given it a printed poster feel.

The pinnacle of the year, July. A summer we in California won’t likely forget for many years to come. The sweetest of springs has given way to the most scorching of summers. But a bit of beauty can still be found in the unfurling of a colorful petal.

July 3, 2008

Dogs, dogs, dogs

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , at 12:24 pm by czygyny

 

Where would we be without dogs? Whether it was sharing the warmth of a fire and a scrap or two with our wild ancestors, to the pampered life of a pedigreed pooch dining on the richest menu, we love and depend on our dogs.

Many a happy memory can be found in our hearts of the ‘good old days’ when we could be gone all day running around the neighborhood, perhaps with a dog in tow. In my instance it was in Etna, a small community in Siskiyou county, with our black Labrador, ‘Raven’. We would build forts in the bushes, wade through the creeks and ditches, and search for bird’s nests in dusty old barns. Her patience was wonderful, for at times we would tease her, and all she ever did was curl up a lip and turn away.

When I grew up and moved out, I have had my share of dogs. My first dog, ‘Reckless’ was a mixed cur who mauled my first sheep I ever had. After that, I became involved with stock dogs. ‘Tillie’ was the first, and by today’s standards, of poor conformation for an Australian Shepherd. With cat-feet and short coat she would not have won any awards, but that sweet dog would be my close companion for 12 years. She went hiking, camping, swimming and exploring, sometimes with her cat companions, until kidney failure took her. When she died, her longtime cat compantion ‘Fangus’ mourned her death. She had the uncanny ability to know when Fangus was out of food and she would pester me until I would feed him.

‘Shilo’ came in to my life when Tillie was still alive. She was a Queensland heeler, a blue merle with striking blue eyes. She was with me for 13 years, most of which was spent without sight, the victim of Progressive Retinal Atrophy. That little dog could still find her way all over the property, altough she lived in fear of falling into the swimming pool. She always gave it wide berth. I miss my little Shilo.

Later on, ‘Jake’ came along. Jake was an Australian Cattle Dog, a stray with no takers. He was a wild man who loved to fight and roam. I cured him of his roaming by taking him on lots of outings and also utilized a big ‘donut’ of wood attached to a long chain where he could wander about, but not get far, by dragging the donut about.  After a few months of that, he could be trusted to stick by my side. He and Shilo had a lot of adventures together.

The funniest outing he ever had was up at a small pond behind my house in Shasta Lake City, which was home to a beaver. Jake spend nearly an hour swimming about trying to catch that beaver, but the beaver made a game of it and would swim leisurely about the pond until Jake would get close, then he would slap his tail and dive. As Jake would swim in circles and whine, looking for his foe, the beaver would pop up on the other side of the pond and start the fun all over again, swimming right by me and I swear it seemed like he smiled at me when he went by. It frustrated that dog to no end, but I’ve never had a better belly laugh! Oh, for a video camera!

But, time took its toll on him, as well, and this year was his last. By this time he was staying with my ex spouse, who took his death very hard. Jake was also 13 years old.

Dogs have a way of finding me, and I have rescued ten or more over the years. Thankfully I have found the owners of most, but some dogs showed up and never left. “Harley’, another Queensland heeler was found by the roadside, terribly abused and emotionally crippled. I worked with him for a year, but he continued to bite family members so with great regret I had him euthanized. People need to do their research on these difficult breeds before bringing one home. What a waste of an intelligent, clever, fast as the wind, faithful friend. Robin from Lodi, you should be ashamed of yourself. (The dog’s original name was ‘Blue’, and the owner’s name on the tag, but left no forwarding address) Shame, shame, shame.

‘Ginger’ is another one of those dogs that found me. She came to us at Thanksgiving some six years ago, a pup of three or four months, a rolly-polly thing with RottweilerX heritage, and a crescent moon on the back of her neck. I tried to shoo her away, but she looked up at me and that ‘connection’ that will sometimes occur with me and cats and dogs was made. After posting notices and running a found ad with no success, Ginger was here to stay.

During the upheaval with my crumbling marriage, in fear for my safety, I began to look for a full blood Rottweiler in need of a home. ‘Jewel’ came along in a needful time. Her person could not take care of a big dog anymore due to health reasons, and we had the room and the know how to care for the breed. We traveled up to Burney one fine summer day to get her. She became our ‘Big-Dog’ who indeed was a sufficient presence to deter any harm aimed at me.

Two large dogs are quite sufficient for my liking and for my small house, but my ex called a few months ago, despondent because he could not keep his dog due to his full time care of his father. He had brought ‘Sam’ home from a shelter, apparently abused by his former owners (what is WRONG with people, anyway?), mainly because he looked like Jake. He took Sam everywhere, even to job sites, but he was moving to the 30th floor of a condo in Emeryville, and that is no place for a cow dog. How could I turn him down?

He had already done a lot of work helping Sam adjust and trust, but it has taken some work to get him adjusted to our situation. We have had a few dog fights, he can get in and out of any gate (and in with the sheep to give them a good run around!) he rolls in ANYTHING stinky and pees on my garden! But, he is an intelligent, attentive, goofy, loving critter. He yells at me if I have been gone too long, eats my strawberries and barks at buzzards, and does the craziest ‘zoomies’ I have ever witnessed.

I’ve been through broken legs, blind eyes, illness, fights, heartache and joy. I’ve been awakened by skunky dog at 3am on my sleeping bag while camping, watched with joy as my dogs run along the banks of the lake while the boat leads them on, taught them to swim, been trained to do their bidding, been comforted by a cold nose and warm heart through my tears, and thanked for a bowl of food by a nose settled gently on my lap.  I’ve endured muddy paws, stinky fur, bloodied ears, bee-stung eyes, and nights filled with anguish during their illnesses, but I can proudly say my life has  ‘gone to the dogs’, and I love it!

June 27, 2008

The Firestorm of ’08

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 7:42 pm by czygyny

Saturday, June 21, 2008. The year of the firestorm, the year that California burned mightily.

The day started out in a strange way, an early morning thunderstorm, dark, menacing clouds to the west, its skirts a roiling mass of odd updrafts, pokes and pulls of clouds like cotton batting pulled in puckers from above. The grumbling of thunder was echoing in the hills. We were all of uneasy anticipation, knowing that this could end up being a very bad thing.

With desiccated mountains, tinder dry hills and scorching temperatures, summer lightning is a bad omen, indeed. The promise of trouble was not left unfulfilled, trouble visited us and the whole state on that day.

I took a few pictures of the clouds, and then went to my Sabbath fellowship in town. While we sat in worship, the booming came closer, the flashes more intense. Rain and hail began to fall abundantly, the lights flickered. When it came time to leave the storm was overhead. As I made my way home, I drove around chunks of cedar, debarked and laying all over the road, a tree disintegrated by a direct hit!

Looking out over the bruised sky, I could see strike after strike, large, thick, bright bolts, sometimes striking three, four or five times around the same spot. Bolts of lightning came through the outskirts of the clouds, emanating from higher up in the main thunderheads and striking out of seemingly harmless thin clouds.

The storm pounded our area all day, the line of cumulonimbus never moving from their position. Now this was quite odd, because our thunderstorms usually are smaller and on the move, this garrison stood its ground and beat us with a fury.

I finally made it home, fearing the worst. All I could think of was the threat of hail. Hail does quick work of gardens and fruit trees, I’ve watched it in person, a thick dark wall approaches, the first white rocks of plant death bouncing like popcorn, growing in intensity until the roar of it fills the ears and strains the heart as it pummels hours of hard work to a pulp.

Hail! Sure enough it was on the move towards me, lightning striking closer and closer, the countdown going from nine, seven, three-second counts to instantaneous flash and crash. “Please, please let the hail and lightning pass me over!”I prayed, fervently. “Spare my hard work, my beautiful gardens!”
It was so! The hail stopped, the lightning withholding itself until it all passed over to the northeast. I was spared!

But, the fun had just begun. As the clouds passed on, and the evening approached, you could see fires dotted all over the hills and mountains. Rough, rugged, steep terrain, with the grey plumes of smoke rising in the reddening sunset, the evil just beginning. The next day, the fires had spread exponentially, and the news telling us that the state all over was burning.

The smoke has smothered us all week, thick, acrid smoke of a thousand bushes and trees. Ash began falling on the cars and lawn, delicate, intricate ghosts of perfect manzanita leaves that turned to powder at a touch. How could something so ephemeral float some twenty miles away in entirety? The north wind came up yesterday, just enough to reveal the ever encroaching line of fire, and allowing the air tankers the green light to begin casting red Firetrol on the front lines of defense.

At night we can see the fires burning, torches that seemingly float in the night sky, revealing the slope of the mountains, here and there a tree flares up, glowing orange and uplighting the smoke reaching away from the fireline. It is fascinating and frightening all at the same time, a sober reminder of what lies just over the hills.

So far, few homes have been lost, but all it will take is a turn in the wind, a careless cigarette, an inattentive driver to make it all worse. Resources are stretched thin, air attacks can’t be made in zero visibility, people wait in anticipation and anxiety for the evacuation calls.

Let us pray that weather and wind will be a blessing, that homes will be spared, that lives will not be lost and that the firestorm of 2008 becomes a quick if not enduring memory on the collective minds of our communities.

June 12, 2008

Hey, what’s bugging you?

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 10:41 pm by czygyny

 

I know most folks don’t care for the buggy world of insects. Insects are someting to ward off with screened windows, something that keeps a can of Raid under the sink and a can of OFF! close by during the summer as evening approaches. Insects are what we hang the glowing house of death, the bug-zapper for on our back porches to take secret fascination at the gruesome manner of death of a particularly large bug that is having a more difficult time of its bitter demise.

Insects are a monthly visit from the pest control fellow pumping brews so toxic that he wears a spiffy white suit to isolate himself from the exposure. Insects are creepy, crawly pests that ruin picnics and spoil the pantry. And what is it with the six legs, multiple eyes and exoskeleton thing going on?

Well, if you are part of that crowd, it might find this gallery a bit discomfiting, but give it a try…insects are fascinating creatures close-up, their ornamentation and color, from warning hazard yellow/black combos in the venomous wasps to the  baubled and bright color patterned infant katydid to the bee-mimic hoverfly with wings a-whir, flying with the kind of precision that anything man-made can only envy.

Even the wasps are different from each other, some are rusty-red and yellow, but most come in the yellow and black motif, the difference being the size, I show three different ones in these images, and even a tiny black bee dwarfed by its giant cousins. One even has big green eyes.

The little green fella is what I am assuming to be an instar katydid, they go through incomplete metamorphosis so they are small versions of the adults, sometimes with a great difference in ornamentation and color.

The hover-fly is a bit difficult to see in the image, taken as she flies motionless over the creek-bed stones. They are one of my favorite little bugs, they seem the epitome of joyful flight.

The wasp with the green ball in her mouth is a great example of the insect eating capabilities these creatures offer. That is a yummy, chewed up caterpillar in her mandibles. I do my best to make sure nests go undisturbed in areas with low traffic after seeing just how much these little powerhouses hunt! Some hunt infant grasshoppers (before they get large enough to devour your garden), some hunt spiders, others just crickets. They make their brood nests out of paper, out of mud, meticulously gathered dried grass, little circles of leaf cuttings; building them in holes, under eaves, in the ground, some even build minute small necked pots as if a tiny potter had been hard at work.

They nectar on some flowers that butterflies seem uninterested in visiting, like my carrots left gone to seed, and take up the slack in the pollinating game that the bees leave undone, but the greatest reason for keeping them near is their insect control.

I am very seldom stung, always from disturbing a hidden and unknown nest. Otherwise, they fly past me on their ramblings, I stick my camera lens right up on them without distress and they are usually quite tolerant of my presence around their nests.

If this gallery gives you the willies, just wait until I complete a spider gallery. We get some really BIG ones out here in the country, some so large that you can hear them running up the walls!

 

 

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