Saturday, January 23, 2021

Looking for ice

We had sunshine on Wednesday and it was cold as a Well Diggers ____________, you can fill in the blank.

My friend Bill wanted to go and the winds were absolutely wicked so I picked a hike that would get us out of the wind and next to the Kickapoo River.

These first photos are from that hike. We had Yak Traks but should have had snowshoes as we were 'off' trail and the snow was icy crunchy and pretty tough to walk in. Bill was okay with that as he said the effort was a good test to see if his hip and knee were feeling better.

Bill's commentary was constant, telling me about adventures with his grand kids and then he'd stop and wonder where we were and I'd assure him we were not lost. Next he'd stand still and say, "Wow...Oh Wow!"

This one is my favorite from the ice bluffs and the last one I did with my 'normal' camera.

Note the slight colors in the ice. Pretty cool right? Well I also brought my little pocket camera that is a Full Spectrum Infrared camera. That means I can use different filters for different light spectrums. I chose the 665nm filter. 

The first shot is 'channel swapped'. With the 665nm filter blue skies are orange and green is bluish-white while rocks reflect a blue-grey. It all depends on your subject for white balance for the filter and how you want your colors to appear.  

These last two are not color edited. I simply de-saturated the blues. And let the ice reflection that appears orange come through.

Most IR photographers put their cameras away during the winter months, but I think it is fun to see winter in a different light.

Part II is coming.

I went out Friday to clear my head. Wind chills were -15, but I was prepared and I wanted to go visit the Wiester Creek Ice formations and hike up over the ridge on the old horse trail.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Snow Day!

I'm way behind on 'stuff' but there isn't a whole lot going on around here. 
There is Charlie who adores snow and cold. You would not think so with his short legs! He literally snow swims and bounds through the snow. He has more issues with heat than he has with cold it seems.
I have to remind myself that he has a very thick hound dog coat that is moisture resistant.

Below is Siera taking a snooze in the snow. 

At feeding time, they all got squirrely and ran around while I pulled the hay sled through the snow to the feeders.

And then there is the Fearless redheads. They follow the sled and nibble out of it while the ding bat bays run like the sled will eat them.

Sundance~~ I'll just take it from the sled thank you very much!

Charlie, Bear, and I go on a little snowshoe trip to the valley.
An 'outtake' from an idea I had...

The day after the big/little snow. It was below zero.

But that was the day of mighty winds and a trip with a friend to hike along the Kickapoo River and search for ice.

Did I say how much I loved winter? 
I do.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Not sure

I had to spend the day inside and had done the 'house chores'. There was rain and sleet and icing going on outside.

I had so many things to do. Like stick around where I could get a call back from the VA. I dusted. How does so much dust accumulate on so few surfaces? It is a mystery. Dog hair. I got that too. Charlie is tiny but he is a mighty shedder. During the winter months we get a short break, I think he is hanging onto that fur coat so he can stay warm while snow swimming.

So I decided to try some Still Life Stuff. Truth be told, some of it was fun to set up but it didn't exactly make me go OHHHH or AHHH!


Tiny Soldiers and Eggs
Totally Boring.

A flat presentation
of my new baby dragon

One interesting note. You don't need much to do a homemade still life.

I eventually said to heck with it. Though my words may have been stronger. Nothing was that interesting. 

I ascended into the Magical Room of Creations. Otherwise really known as the spare bedroom in which I toss crap and leave it laying about. Toys and totes are scattered all over the place. I clean it up once in a while but it is easier just to close the door and forget about it.


I'd watched a video about being bored with outside photography and how to have some fun indoors and experiment with simple things like a desk lamp.

So I set up two crates and a board. I used a plastic tote lid to tape textured paper to and lit it up from behind. 

Glasses with water and 
drops of food coloring

Kind of cool. I had fun with it. Until I got bored. 
Then it became toy time.

Utter Failure of Dragons 
Backlit and out of focus

I had tried using a flashlight to 'creatively' light them up. Nah. Pfft. 

So I put some dinosaurs on the board. I draped the board and the backround with black felt. I took the desk light and laid it on the floor in front of the Dinos. Pretty gnarly!



Well, that was cool. I like black backrounds. I can then literally create another world with photoshop brushes.

So last but not least, I took one of the 'Fairy' Houses I made last year and some shredded brown paper and did this.

The dragons are quite detailed. And I love their colors. By this time I'd had enough of messing around and left the spare room an absolute mess. I did get the call back from the VA on my cell phone. 

If I'd gone hiking into the creek I wouldn't have gotten a call. The valley is a dead zone.

So, hours wasted? I don't know. Probably not. I think I learned something and can set things up again on the next dreary rainy/sleety/nasty day.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Hot Cocoa & Making Friends

Sometimes I get a notion and just go with it. 
Chores were done hubby was napping and Charlie was looking for his early afternoon walk. 
It was dreary and overcast.

So I had a notion to try something with one of the Teddy Bears.  

Off we went.

It was cold and damp in the valley so I decided to stop and have some Hot Cocoa.

The past 10 months haven't been easy. Isolation makes a person feel a bit lonely. 

I asked Bear to join me.
He didn't complain.

Bear may not be the best conversationalist but I can tell him anything and he won't tell my secrets. He says he can keep mum. That's the sign of a very good friend.

I tell him I like poetry and I adore the woods. He points out that bears like woods too but he could try to like poetry.
We drink Hot Cocoa and listen to the creek making music over the rocks behind us. It is okay. 

We just sit and watch as Charlie trots around smelling things under the snow.

I ask Bear if he knows Winnie the Pooh. He tells me of course he does. I smile and  think of Winnie the Pooh. Bear is quiet.

When it's time to leave the valley Bear asks for a favor.

I consider it, and then decide it is only fair.

After all, he is such a nice new friend.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

A sense of wonder


The above video is of the Robins singing. It may not be very clear and you may have to listen very hard. I took this so I could play the audio for Rich when I got home. 
My intention was to hike with Charlie along the creek and find a good spot for the Lonely Looking Bear to sit. I brought a Rabbit to be his friend.

When I got to the Ice Wall, I stopped to listen. Birds.
Bird song. Not just the Nuthatches or the Cedar, and not just Cardinals either. A sound...


a sound I shouldn't hear in January!

Robins? It could NOT be!

Yet there they were. Hundreds of them flocking through the oak trees in the valley. I called Charlie in close and sat at the base of a tree. 

and listened. 

You know what? I forgot about the outside world. Whatever was occurring outside that valley was not important. The bird song was important. 


Every day
I see or I hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in a haystack 
of light.
It is what I was born for--
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy....
~~Mary Oliver

Thursday, January 14, 2021

It is a Wild Wild Life


I posted these photos in my WildLife album last week on FB.

There is a Bobcat and a Coyote caught on camera. Earlier in June, I caught this same or similar Bobcat in a different part of our land. I see coyotes about once a month on the trail cam. Lately in pairs.

Now there is a bear that I have yet to capture on the trail cam, but he/she has left piles of scat in the creek bottom and has been seen by two neighbors. This bear raided my neighbor's berry patch in July and I saw its behind this summer while out in the wild lands. Bear ran off as soon as it heard me.

Anyway my city friends cautioned me to start being very careful!

I was amused and fielded an actual phone call from one friend telling me that I shouldn't be out in the woods with a Bobcat around or Coyotes for that matter. I assured her that 99% of the time these creatures run amok at night and avoid humans like the plague. Or should I say, avoid me like the Pandemic?

Bobcats are very secretive and it is rare to see one. They normally eat mice, rabbits, and raccoon. They will grab and kill a fawn in the spring but rarely take on large animals. Their tastes are similar to coyotes. 

When I first moved here in 1996, the land next door was over grazed by cattle. Only the deer and coyotes were around. The 'yotes had plenty to eat. The deer had a bit less as most of the underbrush was gone. Most parts of the land next door looked like a golf course with streams and trails. 

Now it is the Wilds. There has been no cattle on the land in 15 years and the forest has taken over.

This spot in my woods is very active. I've seen raccoon, skunk, and an immature eagle on this camera.

This by far is the most active place on our land. It seems to be a resting place for the deer as well as a place they like to play. I must have found the highway for the critters.

Rich says this has been very entertaining. I will keep the camera there and let it observe forest life.

I moved the newer camera that shoots in color to another section close to here. We'll see what it captures in about a week.

Meanwhile, I'll be out and about after this next storm to read tracks. That is another one of my favorite things to do in the winter months.

This by the way is in the Buckthorn Forest which really surprised me. I didn't think that any of the wild life would haunt this area. It makes sense though because the undergrowth is almost non existent because of the heavy shaded canopy. It is on a slight slop with a good view all around. I have been back there on windy days and it seems to be protected from almost all directions from heavy winds. 

It might be the perfect spot indeed!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Teddy Tea Party and Infrared Fun

Hmmm. I was going to start this particular entry with something on the lines of Deep Thoughts. Nah. 

I'm just going to have some fun here. I had a notion that it would be fun to go out on the cropland with Charlie and have a Tea Party with my Creek Teddy Bears. I grabbed Percy and Chance. I've had those two since 2018 and the Big Floods. I did find Percy 1/4 of a mile downstream in one of the first floods.

August 2018
After I found Percy...

Now my Teddies stay on the porch unless I am going to take them out for Tea or some other playtime. Looking for them after the flood was pretty distressing. I mean come on, I felt responsible for them!
These two even got names. Percy and Chance. Perseverance and Second Chance.
Dumb, I know, but I thought they earned it after surviving that flood and being found again.

Chance...scrunched into a pile of debris further down the valley.
August 2018

I have another Bear. He is larger than the other two. I really love his fur. This bear looks so lonely all of the time. Not sure what name to give him.

There, I got sidetracked again. 
There is an area in the cropland that is an 'island of box elder trees'. The neighbor kids call it The Tunnel. I wanted to take the Teddies there. Sometimes I have an idea in my head and I just need to try it out.

I grabbed my Tough TG6 camera and the little Infrared Camera. Why not? I had a satchel of Teddy Bears and tea cups. I really didn't want to carry much more.

Heading up the neighbor's driveway to get out to the cropland.
Infrared with Charlie in the road.

I couldn't resist trying the Infrared camera. I used the 665nm filter. IR works better when there are leaves on the trees. But I find colors still interesting with a channel swap in the winter. The oak leaves and some of the branches still reflect enough light to make things interesting. 

Below, original shot before
channel swapping
with my shadow.
One of the things that IR does produce in the winter months is stunning black and white shots. The light refraction is pretty cool.

The Tunnel

We haven't had new snow in over a week now, so the deer and other creatures have left the snowy fields full of tracks.
Oh what do I see? 
Bears in a Tree!

And yes, we do actually have a real bear or two around the area as well as many other forms of wildlife.

But these Bears aren't so Wild.
They like having Tea in the oddest of places.

This lonely Teddy was waiting for someone to show up. 
All alone in the field.

I think I'll bring Chamomile Tea in a thermos next time and sit with him.