Friday, June 28, 2019

Some Eye Candy

Getting camera peripherals organized...ha ha.
I had my small point and shoot Canon at the recent mud-bath event - another time another story - and an elderly gentleman (probably my age) came up with his Canon DSLR model and looked at me and asked what I was shooting with and we discussed briefly photography and cameras. He admitted, and I have NEVER had a man photographer admit this to me, that he usually shoots in Auto mode with his big fancy camera! I explained that with my point and shoot I do not have to worry about too many settings, but my Canon DSLR is usually in Aperture mode. I have gotten comfortably used to that. I admit that I rarely use about 75% of the camera's marvelous settings.

Due to an upcoming trip this fall I have decided to buy a "bridge" camera which means you get the advantage of a DSLR without the weight of too many lenses.  I now have that new camera with its attached lens and it is a different brand from my Canon and absolutely a complete difficult change for an old lady like me. 
(If you are totally uninterested in photography you can scroll to the bottom for your reward for my sitting in the heat and humidity in the mornings and trying to figure out why this does not focus easily!  It is one of the stupid 100 settings, I know.)   

The photographers' group online recommended that I download the 400-page guide from some guru. The brand is a Sony and most of the professional photographers in the group have told me it is a devil of a camera to learn.  I downloaded some guide...not sure it is the one they recommended but am having a heck of a time getting the focus I want. For those of you who know anything about cameras and want to drool the non-removable lens is a 24mm-600mm. Takes a lot of battery power to drive this.

I have also set it to silent mode, which means if I am not careful, and I do try to be careful, and shooting in sports mode and failing to turn it back I get 25 shots of the same thing! When you do not hear the clicking noise, it is both a pro and a con.

It does weight slightly less than my Canon and they say it is super weather sealed.  Anyway, I have a steep learning curve ahead before my October trip and already my computer is getting too full of images.  Now the next step is to buy more memory?  I deleted almost 1,000 digital images today and I stopped shooting in RAW/JPEG and just shoot in RAW.  

OK, now for the reward of some eye candy;  my yard is brimming with butterflies!


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Chasing Our Tails or the Human Tinkering Issue

I wrote recently about a "meadow" trip that I took. Meadows are now the new thing to promote among environmentalists. 

First, what is a meadow? According to Merriam-Webster, the word's origins are: "Middle English medwe, medowe "grassland kept for hay, pasture field," going back to Old English mǣdwe, ... going back to West Germanic *mēdwō- (whence also Old Frisian mēde "pasture, meadow," Middle Dutch māde, mēde), "": most simply a flat land covered in grass.  Some definitions include hay or alfalfa, but I am talking about fallow or unused lands.

Let us use a definition by some Sierra Nevada scientists (my favorite group of people):    

A meadow is an ecosystem type composed of one or more plant communities dominated by herbaceous species.
It supports plants that use surface water and/or shallow ground water (generally at depths of less than one meter).
Woody vegetation, like trees or shrubs, may occur and be dense but not dominant.

Yes, a meadow can be for animals to graze or it can be fallow and maybe mowed once or twice a year to keep down fire threats to nearby communities or private lands.  A meadow can also be a wetland community edging other bodies of water.

We have lost many wild meadows because of our changes to this land.

A more bucolic image comes to mind for most of us with flowers and flying insects allowing romantic long walks with vast views.  

But let me tell you about the reality of  "managed meadows" first and then we can discuss the issues later. 

Why? Why does mankind want to restore meadows to certain areas? If you asked my husband he would say it is for the quail. He misses the song of the quail. Not good enough? Well, meadows can store rainfall and release it over time to other areas, protecting against erosion.  Meadows maintain groundwater storage which is a precious resource that is disappearing in many areas.  Meadows are sponges that filter out pollutants as well.  Meadows are also homes for rich biological diversity including many endangered insect and plant species.  

We toured this meadow in early spring before its beauty could surprise us.

It involved about 80 acres that are managed by a consortium of government and college agencies.  It is a study that has been conducted over a number of years.  It seems to involve a lot of work.

Routine plowing of the soil to disturb some plants and to provide habitat for ground birds and to break up dense clumps of grasses that small birds cannot walk through.

Routine burning of sections of the land in fall to minimize invasives, monoculture, etc.  We also visited the Longwood Gardens meadow below.

The above sign was at the Longwood Gardens meadow for education to the public.

Above is, perhaps, an invasive version of Helianthus (related to the sunflower) that they are letting go over a substantial area...perhaps for the beauty of watching the goldfinch in fall?

Large paths are cleared for scientists and students to work, machinery to move and visitors to walk.

Longwood created birdhouses for some of their insect eaters.

Well, that is enough for now.  Maybe next will be a post of my view of the pros and cons.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

You Can Always Talk About the Weather

The seasons are big shifting as the first day of summer comes to my area with its predictable heat and humidity.  Greenland and the arctic are loosing permafrost (as was predicted but not for decades) and Colorado just got two feet of snow at the 7,000 foot level, which is also unusual. My yard is working its way to a hellish summer, but surprisingly the June weather is perfect this week.  Yes, weather anomalies are normal while not predictable.  It is not the incident which we must accept but the trend for more frequent anomalies and anomalies of greater proportion.  Whole communities are burned to ash or drowned in rising waters.    Entire agricultural communities have been destroyed in drought and flood.   

I have accepted that mankind is changing the world dramatically in many ways (not just the weather/climate) and I accept that we can destroy this planet so easily in both little and big ways and that we are basically too naive or distracted to realize our power.  If you are a believer in a higher power, you may assume that there is a benign force that will pull us away from the cliff at the last minute while introducing a lesson in sin.  Perhaps you assume that the higher power is not benign and just an entity with an intellectual curiosity about the evolution of all the living things he/she has installed on this blue planet and watches with fascination as we destroy  ourselves.

I do not know.  I do  know  we ignore at our own peril.

I will not argue with you on the whys of this danger, because beliefs are not weak opinions open to easy change, and I do not like argument.  These are life-long postulations hung on the hook of certainty and security, and I am not able to reach that high and unhook them and then catch you as you fall..  I will discuss with you about mankind's ability to influence this planet, though.

I do believe finally in good and evil, but evil is hidden in camouflage and beauty and good is shrouded in sweaty work and sacrifice.  

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Free Days

This past week was a late return from our Father's Day weekend, going through the mail and checking on food and doing about 4 loads of laundry as we had hiked and river canoed. Yes, boring and trite stuff that we all do and which seems to take more time than it deserves. Then there is the yard and garden to revisit. 

Also on the schedule was a Wednesday evening meeting where hubby was giving a Powerpoint slide on the artificial creation of meadows. It is a new trend primarily to return fallow farmland to the meadow bird species. It sounds interesting but is a real effort because on the East Coast meadows most naturally return to woodlands. Maybe I will write a post on the work if readers are really interested. This meeting was supposed to be followed on Thursday by a visit from acquaintances up north who wanted a fishing adventure to celebrate a birthday and then the day after their departure a visit from son and daughter-in-law. My mind was going in circles trying to get a clean and well-stocked house before they arrived. Make sure bedding was all clean, rooms dusted, and lo and behold, they both canceled at the last minute!

It was a feeling like going 90 miles per hour while reading the Google maps very carefully and then finding you had come to a dead end/full stop at the edge of a forest!  Or like walking a tightrope and finding the floor was only a few feet below.

I usually love free time but must admit that I was pretty disoriented until this afternoon.  I have been given a four-day weekend with no plans.  Actually, I still feel a little lost...

Friday, June 14, 2019

Those Crazy Weekends with Young Adults

My daughter has generously planned a Father's Day weekend for my husband. He loves fishing and canoeing. So that is part of the trip. The cabin has a hot tub which daughter and her hubby and grands swimsuits are needed. I am deciding what type of camera gear to bring. Also with my husband's tick issue, I am packing tick repellent, tweezers, and alcohol. I am packing a small first aid kit even though I think my daughter has one.

The weather is going to cooperate, so little in rain gear is needed.

I have packed water shoes and hiking shoes because...who knows?

Daughter asked for 6 camp chairs, 6 beach towels, and with sunscreen all goes into a large bag.

Hubby is trying hard to keep his fishing gear to a decent size.

Anyway, my point is that even though we are leaving today and coming back midday Sunday (48 hours), we have TON of stuff.  Definitely a first world get-away problem.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Saying Goodbye is Always a Surprise.

I have lost many off my blog list. Too many! It is the way life is. Many if not most of my bloggers are my age.  Oddly a blogger just recently wrote that she hoped we would be around to say good-bye to her! Many of you may have not read Bill's blog about baking and dealing with his love for learning French,  but like a candle's flame, he is now gone.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Not What You Want to See

It had been a long and hot day at a booth working with children and teenagers and parents and grandparents. There was a gentle breeze blowing through the large tent that started to increase as the festival ended.  The tractors were back in the barns and the animals were being loaded onto trailers.  Our phones all kicked in with severe storm warnings as we hurried to break down chairs, tables, tents, and put assorted giveaways back into boxes.  By the time we were back in our cars and heading out to dinner somewhere, this is what I saw from my car window!

It moved through rapidly and dumped a bucket or so of rain, but moved on and left sunshine by the time we got to the restaurant.  

Sunday, June 02, 2019

I Am Getting Too Old For This

Yesterday was a very full day as I helped out in a food pantry garden during a green festival celebration. Lots of vendors selling organic honey, organic soaps, rain barrels, solar panels, electric cars, you name it! Our table and garden made contact with over 200 adults and children in a five hour period, so I was pretty tired at the end of the day. We joined a friend and her family to celebrate a birthday that evening, and I am sure I was less than coherent throughout the meal, even with only two glasses of wine and a gallon of water.

This was the endcap to an exhausting week of hubby getting a medical diagnosis regarding a new diet and changes to what we eat.   I had warned him about not being more cautious in his outdoor activities, but he seemed to just brag about his adventures.

He has been diagnosed with the "alpha-gal allergy". (It has nothing to do with any females he knows!) This is an allergy one gets to mammalian meat after a lone star tick bite. He had been having esophageal inflammation which they automatically said was acid reflux, and then they said it was probably due to the antibiotics he was on due to a mild infection he got from a tick bite, and now, after blood tests, they have diagnosed this meat allergy. There are various levels of an allergic reaction to mammalian meat products depending on your blood numbers.  Some can eat dairy products without issues and others can go into anaphylactic shock and into the hospital.  It is recommended that you carry an epi-pen in case. 

We had heard about such an allergy and know a few friends that have it in this area, but it seems to be increasing its span. It has been misdiagnosed in the past (unless they run the blood test) probably due to the allergic reaction not happening until 5 to 6 hours after the food intake.  Therefore, some people may have it and because it is a mild reaction, they did not know.  Now of course, they are tracking it more carefully with this blood test.

Currently, his numbers are on the low side, but we meet with the allergist next week.  I have so many questions.  Wondering if he can eat chicken on a BBQ that also has also cooked steak, wondering if he can eat cheese on pizza, wondering if he can eat ice cream!!

Wondering if I have to give up eating lamb!