Friday, April 29, 2011

Shadows at the Duck Pond

During one of our visits to the Montana State University duck pond, I happened to notice these shadows. The crookedness of the shadows was accentuated by the snowbanks that they rested upon.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Denver Zoo in the Daytime

We usually go see the Denver Zoo at night because they put up some really cool Christmas Lights. The exhibit is called Denver Zoo Lights. This year, however, it was very balmy in Denver, in the 50s, so we decided to go by the zoo during the day. Glad we did since we were able to see most of the animals we miss when we go at night.

If you ever get a chance to go in the day or at night during Zoo Lights, I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sundays in My City - Late Easter Wishes

Unknown Mami hosts Sundays in My City and gives everyone a chance to show off where they live. Check it out or better yet, join, and give a tour of your town.

Well, I was supposed to be on hiatus due to Screen Free Week, but that was a bit of a bust. While I didn't get a lot of blogging time in, I did use the time to work on my mad Photoshop skills. Last night, though, I channeled all that creative energy into one of my favorite annual activities - dyeing Easter eggs!

Like last year, we used Karo corn syrup and food coloring to make the dyes. Like last year, it was a sticky mess. Still, the combination of those two items makes for some very vibrant colors. I tried using a toothpick to drag dye across the egg. I tried putting some in a dish and rolling the egg around to make a pattern. I tried a fork. The best results came from using the dye like a finger paint. So if you can stand touching sticky stuff, that's the way to go. If you like your eggs a little lighter, that effect was acheived with the bowl.

Meanwhile you can check out our results below.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Technically I'm still on hiatus due to Screen Free Week. So I set up this automated post to wish everyone a Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Skywatch Friday - Sourdough Canyon

This week's Skywatch Friday post features the skyline of Sourdough Canyon.

Being one of our favorite hiking spots, this canyon was a natural choice for a hike last Saturady. For Montana in the spring, this particular day was a rare treat. Mostly sunny and temperate, I was fooled into believing that actual spring weather was just around the corner. I am so glad we took advantage of the break in snow to get out on such a picture perfect day. Even the clouds were amazing!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Screen Free Week

Not that I've been the paragon of blogging as of late, but I will be absent this coming week, April 18-24th. This is Screen Free Week, well, here in the United States of America anyway. I won't get into a big discussion about how disruptive this is. Nor will I complain about how I am perfectly capable of managing my own child's TV / Computer / Cell Phone (doesn't have one - see? easy.) habits. Let's just say, this is not my favorite week of the year. And so because my child is still into following the rules exactly as they are, I will be off line next week. Sigh. This whole following the rules thing has its advantages, but this one is a disadvantage for me anyway. I'll catch everyone on the flip side.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sundays in My City - The iPhone Rocks

Unknown Mami hosts Sundays in My City and let's us all show off where we live. Check it out. Better yet, show off your hometown.

Today's post is a bit lazy I have to admit. I've managed to come down with the flu again or maybe I never get rid of it, so I'm a bit under the weather. Even so, my enthusiasm for testing my new iPhone was not much dampened. So below are some shots I took around the house. They are unaltered except for cropping and a slight bit of sharpening. I was very happy with results.

The iPhone Rocks!

Garfield - Our Cat

Gold - Our Fish

First Grade Art Project (My Son's)

Cluttered Bulletin Board

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Get Your Foot Out of a Bog

Many years ago my husband and I lived in Utah. Our son wasn't even a spark in our eyes when we ventured out on this trip. Come to think of it, my D300 wasn't a spark in Nikon's eye yet. I was shooting with my Olympus 620 at the time. Fortunately I did everything wrong that day and survived to tell more tales of harrowing excitement.

The particular target for this day's trip was Utah Lake. I believe we picked that spot because it was supposed to be an excellent place to bird watch. True to this promise, I was quite entertained for awhile, photographing yellow-headed black birds as well as all kinds of bees and other insects. Still boredom began to beckon about half an hour in, and we began to look around for more interesting subjects. Our eyes settled on a field behind us with bits of debris littered throughout the grass. Hum. I love abandoned things. Don't know why. They speak to me.

In the blink of an eye, we were off to investigate. Mistake number 1 had clearly been made. We had gone off the path. Technically there were no paths around there, but we had left the gravel road that circumvented the lake. At first, I couldn't complain. I was finding thistles. Huge Russian thistle with those beautiful purple flowers. What I found crawling on the flowers was equally amazing. Flies, some I've never seen before or since. Vividly colored bees called Augochlora Green Metallic Bees seemed to love this thistle the most. I couldn't have been more ecstatic. That's when I began to notice that some of the discarded junk looked like encampments. Great. I couldn't see anyone else around, so I figured they were older and abandoned as I had originally presumed. Still, not a good feeling.

Desptite this somewhat red (pink?) flag, my husband wanted to press on so we walked through the field and began working on mistake number 2. At the back of the field was a stream, river, none of the above. Bog or swamp comes to mind, but it did seem to be a flowing body of water or at least it once was. Mostly stagnant by this time, the river / stream appeared to be more of a flowing mass of scum than anything that represented water. I kind of forgot about the unease all the detritus left in the field instilled in me and began to photograph the bog / swamp. I'd never seen anything like it and figured short of visiting Louisianna, probably never would. Although to be fair, when I was really little, my Uncle Leo drove us past the swamps in Florida. All I remember about that is having a really eerie feeling and wanting to get back to civilization. This particular day would have gone much better had this new found swamp instilled in me the same sense of eeriness. But that was not to be, a sense of awe had overridden the unease, and I continued to follow my husband back into the overgrowth that surrounded this bog.

That's how I arrived at mistake number 3. We came across a log used to reach the other side of this soupy mess that was once water. My husband's sense of balance is much better than mine. He probably should have gone first, but I went ahead of him. Perhaps a small piece of me was still in tune with that unease. I think though, I was just eager to see where we came out on the other side. Eagerness is a fatal flaw of mine and I tend not to pay attention very well when I am within its grip. Which is how, I managed to step into the bog instead of stepping onto the bank once I got across. Now I have one leg on the log and one leg being sucked into the mush.

The first thing that runs through my mind is - Oh my God, I've stepped into quick sand. How in the world am I going to get out of this. Don't struggle. You're not supposed to struggle. I pleaded, "Help me.", surpising both myself and my husband. To this day, I think he thinks I was talking to him, but I wasn't. I was actually praying to God. I even remember thinking please don't think I meant you and try to rescue me. I had seen too many of those darn shows on discovery where both people get sucked into the quick sand to actually want my husband to try to physically pull me out. I was hoping he would call 911, but I can't recall if we had our phones on us. I don't think there was any way he could have rescued me. Because of my position, half on the log and half off, he couldn't have gotten to the other shore where he would have had enough leverage to pull me out. Even that would have been a big risk. I sure didn't want him trying while balancing on the log because I was afraid he would fall in all the way and sink to his doom.

I decided as all desparate people do, that the only way out of this mess was to make a deal with God. Practically begging, I stated, "I don't want my tennis shoe back, just my leg. Please just let me have my leg back and I will walk out of here barefoot if I have to." (I really didn't want to do that. Even the road had some stuff on it that I wouldn't want my foot to come into contact with, but I figured tetanus shots were better than suffocating in a swamp.) I received my miracle answer shortly after my offer. Literally on a wing and a prayer, I began to do everything wrong.

I realized that my foot had an air pocket under it. I noticed that the swamp did not suck my foot down during the brief respite where my foot rested on top of this bubble. I realized my only chance to escape was to calmly and quickly take advantage of that. Before the current air bubble robbed me of all of my leverage, I yanked my foot up very smootly and very fast. This created another air pocket which gave me enough room to pull my foot up towards the surface. I did it again and again managing to free myself from my would be entombment. There was a brief moment when I thought my shoe would come off. I cheated the swamp of its prize by curling my toes around the inside of my shoe. Can't really say why that worked, but it did.

The swamp did get a taste of sweet revenge, though. My new mud bath attracted quite the swarm of mosquitos. My leg looked like a lump of mystery meat when they were done biting me. (Actually, this trip was the inspiration for the title of my autobiography: How I Got West Nile Virus and Other Adventures. May need some work. I'll worry about it when I write it.) The good news, beside surviving such an ordeal, was that we weren't far from the road and were able to walk back to the car that way. Trust me, walking back over that would be death trap would have been just as risky if not more so than the first trip across. Knowing me, I would have fallen in again. Not from carelessness, but from being too careful. What can I say? I am a woman of extremes.

This is the second story in a set about my adventures while out photographing nature. You can find the first story here.

Warning - Death Trap

Misquito Attractant

Putting on a Brave Face - Not

View Larger Map

Friday, April 8, 2011

Indian Winter

Is there such a thing as Indian Winter? If not, there ought to be. Why let summer hog all the glory? I woke up to this, and as far as I can tell, it's still lightly snowing out. Welcome to winter spring.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Submit Your Images - 2012 ESA Calendar & Good Luck Wishes

A big thank you to Alex Wild at Myrmecos for sharing the following call for submission on his blog.  Mr. Wild blogs about ants.  I enjoy the photos and the information on his site.

Here's the link for the submission information:
Submission to the Entomological Society of America's 2012 Calendar.

You don't have to belong to the society to submit.  The nearest thing I could find about photo rights is at this link: Membership Photocall.  They don't seem to be attached to owning others' works so I went ahead and submitted the following photos.  Wish me luck.  Good luck in return should you choose to submit as well.

Honey Bee and Hairy Scarab Beetle on a Tea Rose

Note: The Scarab Beetle is a Honey Bee Mimic.
I was thrilled to get this side by side shot.

Golden-Haired Flower Longhorn

Robber Fly - Neomochtherus geniculatus

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sundays in My City - Styrofoam Snow

Unknown Mami hosts Sundays in My City giving us all a chance to show off where we live. Drop by and check it out. Better yet, show us around your town!

Here in Bozeman it started to snow again. Lately, we've been getting this snow that's almost hail. It doesn't quite hurt as hard when it bumps against your skin. The sky looks like it's raining styrofoam bits. I actually find this kind of snow quite interesting. Today, I finally got around to capturing some of it for my blog.

Skywatch Friday - Evergreen Clouds

For this Skywatch Friday post, I dug into my archives and came up with this resplendent shot I took while on vacation in Evergreen, Colorado.