Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yuma Bound

Finally feeling better, I wanted to make one last trip to Yosemite before heading to the Gypsy Journal Rally in Yuma to meet up with best friends Patty and Dan.

Although we think the weather has been beautiful, it has been less than perfect for the snowfall needed to provide irrigation water to the valley.  Little to no rain the entire season thus far has resulted in little to no waterfalls in Yosemite, and very little water in the Merced River.  A usually spectacular one is Horsetail Falls the last two weeks in February.  The sunset shining on the water cascading over the edge off the side of El Capitan makes the falls resemble the firefalls of old that were a spectacle in Yosemite Valley for years when I was younger.  After spending three hours in very cold weather looking for the perfect spot to catch this image, I didn't find it!!  Not every road trip ends up with beautiful pictures to post ... darn it!!!!  So after dark, I headed to the meadow near the Ahwahnee  Hotel to get at least ONE image of Half Dome with what little snow was left.
Very long exposures on a tripod resulted in one of my favorite images.  I know we have all seen this a hundred times, but I never tire of this view.  Finally a storm came in today and dumped a couple feet of snow ...

So it's off to finish packing, fuel up at $4.49 a gallon (eeeek ... not kidding) so I'm ready to leave Friday morning.  Next post from Yuma!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taking Flight

When I was a kid living on the ranch, the cattle business wasn't at its peak.  In order to make extra money, my dad worked at the Merced Game Refuge outside of town.  I've never been there.  After viewing some images a friend took at that sight, I decided it was time to take flight and see what it was all about.  At the entrance, I found a large map with many brochures describing the birds living in this habitat.   Although there are some hiking trails, the main access is an Auto Tour ... a dirt road that you follow for 5 miles through the marsh area.  At various intervals there are signs describing the environment and what it takes to keep it ship shape so the wildlife will spend the winter.

Blackbirds were in abundance ... red wings and yellow heads (very rare here).  Unfortunately I don't have a lens big enough to get close ... all the upper crust nests are too far out in the pond.  This red wing was close to the road, tweeting like crazy, trying to attract the females.
I know, I should be able to tell you what this is ... but I felt like taking a brochure would be one small expense they didn't need to incur.  Cute little guys, they are cruising the shallows looking for lunch.
Lets go this way ... no lets go this way!!!  These guys were cruising back and forth in the same spot ... they just couldn't decide which was the best way to go!!  Most of the areas are flooded like this, with huge cattail rafts in the middle for nesting.
Other wildlife is prolific here too ... I caught a muskrat swimming around, but wasn't fast enough to get a clear picture.  Also hanging out, or hiding out, were the cutest jackrabbits.  Hunkered down so I couldn't see them, this one remained motionless until I walked away.  As you can see, they totally blend in to the background.
Of course this is what I was waiting for  ...  sunset.  There were thousands of birds in this section.  It was amazing how noisy they were.  Not only were they talking amongst each other, they were talking to the birds flying around that had not yet landed.  Telling them there were no vacancies I suspect.  I have to say that this is exactly how it looked.  There is no photoshop color enhancement here.
It is funny how, as the sun started to set, the birds took off in waves of squawking, headed to the fields behind me where the great blue herons were making an even louder ruckus.  Even though I couldn't see them, the sound of their conversations was unmistakable.  Sooo amazing to stand there among all these birds listening to them squawk and carry on.
This won't be my only trip to this site.  I plan on returning to capture the great blue herons, and I highly recommend you venture out here around 5:00 pm to catch the spectacle!!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Not something I have ever condoned, graffiti to me is destruction of someone else's property.  If you get permission, graffiti can turn into amazing art pieces.  The camera club I belong to provides a one word subject each month as a competition category.  Each image submitted is scored by a guest judge from 1-10.  Last month it was "Forgotten" and my D Block Cell image received a big 10!!!!  Sooo excited about that.  This month however, the word is "Graffiti" and is not in my portfolio, so I ventured out to see what I could find.

Nothing!!!  I guess I wouldn't be a good tagger, since I obviously don't know where good spots are ... after two hours of driving around a 40 mile radius, I couldn't find ANY tagging.  What I did find, had been painted over.  Finally, having decided to return home along the railroad tracks, I found one lone rail car.
The interesting thing to me is that these taggers are putting their mark ... their name usually ... on all these train cars for all to see.  But for the life of me, I don't seem to be able to read or make sense of anything they write.  This one was half covered over ... but TOO What????
Guess I need an interpreter.   Below is "B" XX??  The bottom looks like Osier Ridso.  Really??  I think if I was going to spray paint my name, or nickname on a train car for other taggers to see, I would definitely make it readable!!!
This final image is the one I will submit ... unless I find something better.  The last letter of a long name is the only letter that is recognizable.  I call it "Big E".
Next weekend I'm shooting a "legal" graffiti artist at his church where his art is amazing and colorful ... however still unreadable.  I hope he translates for me!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Boredom and Edible Dogs

It is amazing how the human body can repair itself ... especially when you have four holes in your belly.  Unfortunately, the process takes some time.  There is now a permanent indentation in my couch and I am bored to tears from sitting and waiting for the process to happen.   I have watched all the really bad TV I care to and have seen the good movies 5-6 times each.

Although my puppies try to keep me busy, I find myself itching to get back to photography.  So much so, that yesterday, I actually grabbed my camera and walked around my house to see what there was to capture and frame.  Of course, the answer was NOTHING!!!  A macro lens would have helped but that's not one I own ... yet anyway.

Here is one of the Polynesian dancer gourd rattles covered in feathers I found literally at the end of the road on the north end of Kauai in Hawaii.   There is an unusual store there that you must check out if you vacation in the area.  They travel by sailing ship throughout the world obtaining handmade crafts from indigenous people to sell in their store.  Amazing stuff, amazing stories and amazing guys in great shape that wear native Polynesian/Hawaiian clothing.  Ladies, you HAVE to check it out!!!
Another local craft of Hawaii I found in a dress store (crazy huh?) in the upcountry town of Makiwao on the island of Maui.  They are handmade from native materials by a local woman who only sells a few in this store every year.  I bought every one they had.  Some blue, some white, large and small ... beautiful work.  I tried this once and believe me, it is very hard to do.
One of the things I find while sitting around the house is that I'm at the fridge every other half hour looking for something to keep me occupied, if only while it passes my lips and hits my stomach.  At Christmas I received a box of Hickory Farms Petit Fours (scrumptious little cakes).  Granted, I did take a little photoshop liberty with this one ... these were coffee flavored!!
Finally feeling up to a little more activity, my friend Diane came over so we could make cupcakes.  Seriously I can't believe I let her talk me into this, let alone that I took a picture to put on this blog ... but here it is.  Looks EXACTLY like Ollie, her son-in-laws dog.  Funny what you can do with a cupcake, frosting, marshmallows and chocolate chips!!!!
By now I am sure YOU and well as I am thrilled that I'm almost back to normal and am going out this afternoon for a "graffiti" shoot.  Surely it's got to be better than doggie cupcakes!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Have A Pain In My Side!!!

The ins and outs of todays health care can be scary ... here's my story (and why I haven't been on the blog recently).

Week 1
Doctor, I have a pain in my side.
Lets take an chest x-ray.
??  Ok ... results ... negative

Week 2
Doctor, I have a pain in my side.
Lets do a sonogram of your stomach.
??  Ok ... results ... negative

Week 3
Doctor, I have a pain in my side.
Lets send you to a GI Doc and do an MRI of your lower back
??  Ok ... results ... negative

Are you getting the picture yet?????

Week 4
Doctor, I have a pain in my side.
Lets do an endoscopy and check your stomach.
???  No ... lets NOT do that.  Lets quit messing around.  I want a FULL scan of some kind NOW!!!!!

Week 5
Doctor, I have a pain in my side.
Lets do a CT scan ... in another week when they can fit you in.
Ok, but it really hurts.  I'm not sure I can wait a week.

Week 6
Doctor, I have a pain in my side.
OH MY!!!  You have a cyst ... it's probably cancer!!!!  Sending you immediately to an oncologist, a 2-1/2 hour drive away.  (Thankfully a highly recommended Doctor)

Surgery scheduled two days later, now home short a few parts that aren't necessary anyway and it wasn't cancer, just a cyst.

Week 7
Uh Oh ... Doctor, I still have a pain in my side.

You see all this time, I thought it was something else, but couldn't seem to convince the Doctor to do the right test to confirm my suspicions.  So as soon as I'm able, I am going to return to my original Doctor and DEMAND she do the test I wanted in the beginning.  Unfortunately, I'm sure the results of that test will result in another surgery!!!!  UGH ... not looking forward to that.  Especially because I have to depend on my few friends to take care of all the animals I have.  :(

Week 8
Doctor, I STILL have a pain in my side!!!!!