June 17, 2009

Cactus Crazy 2009

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 10:15 am by czygyny

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They are at it again! My cacti garden is bursting with blooms!

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Here is the one that started the Echinopsis collection, tentatively identified as ‘Stars and Stripes’.

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A nice combo of pink and Schick hybrid  ‘Hot Lips’ red.

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This one, I call ‘Pale Peachy Pink’, is a creation of my very own! It can take many years to get from seed to blooming plant.

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Not too sure, but I think this is another of my creations. I am not a good records keeper, much to my detriment.

Lemony

This yellow beauty came from Home Depot. It has a light citrus fragrance.

Pink

This is another of my seedlings. It differs somewhat from the original parent “Stars and Stripes’.

Icarus

Here is another Schick hybrid, ‘Oracle’, an electric fuchsia and red combination I so love in cacti flowers.

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Not just Echinopsis are in bloom. This Opuntia Santa-Rita looks like a color pumped image, but its delicate purple and blue colorings and its light yellow blooms look great against the backdrop of a purple variegated barberry.

Astrophytum

Lastly is this sea urchin lookalike, Astrophytum. Its very pale yellow flowers with their red rings look like eyes looking back at you.

Only lasting a day in most cases, these cacti flowers are worth rushing out in the early morning to drink up their incredible and fleeting beauty, and they live through my colder than Redding winter temperatures, with the added bonus of not needing much water in the summer, but they do need afternoon shade.

If you would like to try your hand at these beautiful Echinopsis cacti, take a look at these beauties!:

http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/Schick/catalogindex.html

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June 15, 2009

The Tale of Little Chicky

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 7:13 pm by czygyny

April 18. My niece, Stephanie, ran into the house, breathless and excited. It took a minute or two to get the story straight, something about chicks, eggs and murderous hens. I finally stitched together the story: she had gone to the chicken coop to check on the chickens, as she does every day. She brings me back eggs or tells me they are out of food, but today she exclaimed that an egg had hatched and the hens were pecking it and carrying it around!chicky_05

I followed her back to the coop to find a tiny, wet, fuzzy lump, bloodied by the attacks of the senseless hens. I scooped it up and also took the eggs that the broody hen had been sitting on, just in case.

While I didn’t really need any other chickens, I let one persistent hen gather a clutch to herself. She did only a fair job, she was so small she often left eggs sitting around her.

Once inside and under a heat lamp and equipped with a heating pad, we anxiously waited to see if the chick would survive and if the other eggs would hatch.

Days went by. No other egg hatched. Chicky (now named) was listless, but alive. I finally discarded the other eggs, and Chicky chicky_08gathered strength and awareness.

Living in a box in the kitchen, Chicky became the center of attention. Oohs and ahs from the children that came through my house, with the common plea, “Oh, can I hold him?”. Chicky became the star and became quite tame from the handling.

The only permanent damage that seemed to have occured was a scarred and deformed beak, but it didn’t seem to bother him (her?) much.

I didn’t have any chick starter food, so Chicky’s first couple of weeks was a diet of ground dog food and pecans! He thrived on the rich grub. I was pleased to find that our local feed store had chick starter food in 5lb bags, so his diet shifted to a more conventional fare.

Once again, I was blessed to have the sweet cheeping of a baby in the house. I’ve grown to love that little voice. There is a content chatter, a hungry rattle, a introspective tittering, so much communication from such a ball of fuzz.

As he grew larger and stronger, Chicky began to take outdoor trips to the vegetable and wildflower gardens. He began the hilarious routine of ‘dusting’ himself, digging down and throwing dust all over himself.  It is amazing to me how this behavior is instinctual. What a mess!chicky_09

He quickly outgrew his box and I had to press into duty an unused birdcage, complete with his mirror in which he likes to cuddle next to and gaze. Soon the tiny fuzzy chickymommachick began to look like a real chicken.

It is no guess as to who his momma is! Chicky looks just like Kiwi, my super tame black bantam hen…I sure hope ‘he’ is a ‘she’ when all is said and done.

We’ve had a lot of fun times, sitting out in the wildflochicky_07wers while Chicky roams about, or hiding in the broccoli and digging around for earwigs in the strawberries. Watching  him fly to find me is a kick.

He gets the run of the house on occasion, when the dogs are outside…we just have to watch and quickly clean up any ‘accidents’.

 

 

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Wearing chickens is not a good idea, not only do you have to worry about ‘deposits’, he will also peck you in the eye and mouth. Ouch!chicky_04

Chicky is getting big, now. All his black feathers are in and all the down is gone. He spends more and more time outside, whenever I am out in the garden for any length of time. 

Since we have many hawks of different sorts, and the big rooster attacks him, his days of roaming around on his own may never come, but I will continue to enjoy his company out in the garden whenever I can.chicky_01 (1)

So, Chicky, despite a bad beginning, ended up being a very lucky little chicken, after all. Except for a slightly mangled beak, he is a pampered, happy little Gallus gallus being, whatever sex he ends up being.

I guess when I hear a crowing or see an egg, I’ll know for sure.

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April 6, 2009

The Downpour of March 16, 2009!

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , , , at 8:36 pm by czygyny

I had meant to get this out a bit earlier, but going through one problem after another left me run down which developed into a case of pneumonia. But I am on the mend and finally can sit at the computer and actually THINK for a bit. It is my first encounter with the spectre of not having medical insurance.

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I slept through most of it, the torrential downpour of March 16, 2009. The sound of the rain lulled me into a drowsy afternoon nap. When the hail came down, I finally got up to see what the racket was and knew we were headed for trouble!

downpour

Our property is out on a small, flat valley. Everything is level except for an area that looks as if a scoop of ground had been removed, perhaps the remnants of an old creekbed. At its lowest, it is about five feet below the rest of the five-acre plot. You can sort of see it in the image, below, where the fence dips down. 

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By the time I got up, the ‘slough’ as we call it, was filling up fast.  By time I had my camera out, and get changed it was rapidly getting deeper.

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In little more than 15 minutes, the water had risen, as shown below, and was now flooding the barn. This includes the chicken coop, the add-on on the right. With nearly eight inches of water in the coop, I had to put on some flip flops and shorts and wade out in knee-deep water to check on the banties. Most of them were huddled up in the corner of the large shelf, cackling and squawking in alarm, but poor Frazz, my frizzle hen, was floating in the water, in uncontrollable spasms of cold-shock. 

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I rescued poor Frazz, who received a warm bath to wash off the pen shavings and then a nice blow-dry to bring her out of her shock. She spent the night in the bathtub wrapped in towels! Thankfully, she came through the ordeal with nothing more than a tale to tell her buddies. 

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Thank goodness the rain stopped soon after, because the whole property was in danger of  being covered by the debris-filled brown water that was pouring in from the pastures from across the road. Gopher holes bubbled, bark drifted away and piles of flotsam and jetsam were starting to gather at the fences. Below is the view from the road.

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Not all of us were perturbed by the dowpour, these geese thought all this water was grand!

geese

The whole ordeal ended on a good, if not beautiful, note, we had a wonderful rainbow at the end, and a whole album of photo memories of the big Downpour of March, 2009. By morning the water was all gone…pity I didn’t have my water tank or pump yet, I could have filled it on just this one storm, alone! All’s well that ends well, I guess. rainbowe

March 9, 2009

Go fly a kite!

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , at 6:35 pm by czygyny

kite

Some days you need to get out and do something mindless and fun. There is no doubt that I see great calamity coming to our culture, very soon. The laws and situations have been stacked against us all, most folks have absolutely no inkling of the treachery. But, for now, I just want to share a few moments of good, clean fun.

I bought this kite many years ago, in a Discovery Store in the bay area. Every once in a while I get it out when the conditions are just right and today’s conditions were perfect. Not only was there a wonderful, brisk breeze to carry my sky-jewel up and away, but it was not the usual north wind, which always puts my kite right into the sun and in my eyes! Today’s icy south breeze carried my butterfly up high with very little effort, and I am blessed with wide open areas for perfect kite flying!

I reveled in the blue sky, the bright clouds, the greening fields, the quiet and peaceful ambiance and the crisp and energizing breeze that blew at my back.

My kite soared and dove, crashing to earth only once. Then it was back up, up, up in the air where turkey vultures soared and light clouds floated by.

When you are beset with worries and care, it is best to go out and send a prayer up in the sky to fly alongside a bright kite, letting your petitions be caught up in the breeze to be carried to heaven.

grand-view

“For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy, because everyone having been born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief. Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believe that Y’shua is the Son of Elohim?” 1 John 5:3-5 The Scriptures by IFSR

December 8, 2008

Spectacular winter sunset.

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , at 8:14 pm by czygyny

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Most people love sunsets. There is just something awe inspiring about watching the procession of colors, contrasts and textures as the day slowly fades. When everything comes together, cloud, sky and sun, the results can be dramatic. Thus it was so Sunday, December 7,  2008.

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I love a good show of altostratus undulatus any time of day. Fall and spring seem to bring the best displays. Now, most of you wouldn’t know your altostratus from cirrus uncius, and most of you probably don’t try to categorize the colors into a painter’s pallet, or stalk around your property with a bulky camera in hand, but I bet you do stand in awe as the show begins its crescendo, exploding across the skies like a giant fireworks, then darken and pale. The cool blues and greys and tans flowed into hot, firey orange in sharply stippled patterns, then muted to a darkening red-coal smolder and on into a frosty, star-glittered night.

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May this holiday season be a comfort inasmuch as we are in an uncomfortable time and uncertain future. This is always a tough time of year-cold, dark winter. Be thankful for your modern blessings; lights in abundance, heat at the touch of a switch, fresh healthful foods,  ease of communication. Having read  of how folks lived generations ago I have come to the realization that winter used to be a very difficult time to endure. We have blunted its scouring force with many wonderful things. Being the ever-anxious conspiracy nut, I wonder if this winter might be one to be very thankful for, the one to measure against in the times ahead, one in which to reminisce.  Maybe it is just the darkness and cold creeping into the mind and aging bones.

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.

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.

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