Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Silence ~ But I can do better!

I live with a person who has several health issues and dementia. Some days are quiet and pretty darned boring. Those are really the better days. Then there are the days that something gets his ire up and well it can get rather tense.

The other day I was watering the large heated stock tank. The outdoor hydrant is above the house on a hillside. I use about 200 feet of construction strength black hose to run water to the stock tank which is plugged in on the porch of the house. I separate the hoses and drain them in the winter. Gravity is such a great helper. Once in the past 5 years I've had one hose ice up on me. 

I separate the hoses by the LP tank. You can see how the slope works in my favor.

The tank fills with very little work most of the time. The two mules that need special feeding requirements are kept separate from the younger mules. Fred the pony mule is 35. Mica is the grey mule. She is has heaves when it is dry and dusty and is a hard keeper. Mica is also blind in one eye. I still ride Mica and put kids on her even though she is our tallest mule. She has a very kind disposition and is very gentle.

So I finished watering, picked feet, and gave everyone except Fred a nice hug and some ear rubs. Fred is anti social and doesn't like being caught.

I wrapped things up and headed to the house. Rich had been watching from the porch door. When I got inside he proceeded to give me a very stern lecture on 'how to drain the hoses properly'. I had the angle wrong somehow and I left footprints and divots in the snow which made the hose freeze up.

He even showed me how to hold the hose properly along with how to walk. It went on and on and on. 

I internally rolled my eyes and then in a moment of stupidity blurted out. "I've been doing this for over 5 years and I've only frozen up the hose one other time during the other Polar Vortex a couple of years ago. It will be 40 today. The hoses will be just fine."

His retort was quick and sudden and a bit nasty. He turned and crossed his arms in a huff.

I realized instantly that I his time frames were confused. In his mind he'd just helped me with it not too long ago. 

He was also stressed out because the program he'd been binge watching had ended. And he was frustrated because somewhere in his mind that he was no longer out there doing simple things like draining the hose.

His punishment was the Silent Treatment. He tossed the remote and and sat on the couch. He stared at the wall arms crossed and breathing in big sighs. After about a half hour, he got up and went to take a nap.

I understand mental health issues a bit. I am a lay person who lives with it. I married a person with it. I don't have any regrets. But there are days when even I can't deal with it and I take my Angel Hat and toss it aside.

However, I grew up in a household where Mom was the Expert at Silent Treatment. She could've taught a Master's Class in Silence and exasperated looks.
I knew I shouldn't engage in it, but I did.

I plugged my earphones into my smarty phone and dialed in Pandora. Mom was the expert and I learned from her. My Mom had some mental health issues too, so I'd learned from the expert. My poor dad, I don't think he ever could understand Mom.

Silence feels like a superpower. It is a very powerful weapon. Sooner or later hubby would need help with the TV or he would want supper. I rolled these things over in my mind and decided that I'd break his silence as soon as he got up from his nap.
After all, I should be the better person in this as I am caring for him.

There is no arguing with Dementia. I discovered that with his mom. Let them rant, let them tell you what is what and simply move on. Hard to do when you literally live in close proximity.

After his nap, he wasn't having anything to do with breaking Silence. He stood with the remote and kept clicking through programs and sighing loudly. I let him.

I started to bake chocolate chip cookies. Our cottage/house is very tiny. Pretty quick, he entered the kitchen and stood.

"Whatchya doing?"

Me: Baking cookies.

Him: Didjya fall on your head? [His joke at any attempt by me at baking.]

Me: Must have.

Him: Let me have some.

Me: Okay. Can I help you find a program?

Him: Yes please.

The Silent Treatment broken and things back on an even keel.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Where did it go?

Time, that is.

10 months ago, a self portrait in April of last year. Don't mind the messy table, it is always that way. Of course this is where we eat, discuss life, and hang out. It is my 'work' station and our dining area. 

This morning.

I don't like self portraits per se. Especially now that I can see how I have aged. I wonder why it is okay for guys to be aged with wrinkles and it isn't so cool for women?

I'm an outdoors person. Most of my time is spent outside in all the weather. I've beat the hell out of my facial skin. Hopefully wrinkles will come in vogue. You know those lines around the eyes and mouth. That ugly neck that everyone covers up with fancy scarves. 

I thought it would be fun to do some black and white work while I was in the mood.

Hands. My hands and how they have aged.
Once upon a time I looked at hands that worked in an office that were primped and polished. Beautiful nails and smooth skin.

Funny how I never saw the arthritic bumps and lumps and rough skin that are my hands now. But that is the progression of age and outdoor work. Our skin is the organ we all choose to ignore.

I remember being so impressed with my grandmother's hands. They were knotted, crooked, and bumpy. I recall standing with her as she used a scrub brush to get the garden dirt out of the cracks in her fingers. She was going to church and didn't want the other church ladies to see her rough hands.

While I was thinking about hands hubby sat down to cut up and apple. He didn't realize I could 'shoot' from across the table. The benefit of having live view and a flip screen. I set the camera to silent.

If I didn't know these hands belonged to my husband, I would have thought they were my father in law's hands. Age, medical conditions, and medicines all contribute to this dramatic change. 

I find it intriguing and curious. I see his hands while he is using them, but they look so stark when caught in a moment of time.

I'm making my mind up to get more comfortable with the looks of age. After all, I can't avoid it at this point. And I am not going to look suddenly younger. 
The face in the mirror is still aging even if I don't quite feel it on the inside.

Then there was this matter of going upstairs to clean up the room I'd left a mess with things scattered about. Suddenly, I found myself distracted. 

And amused.

I went to put some things away and organize some other things.

Well there you go. Another benefit of aging.
You can always give the excuse that 'my mind wandered' while I was upstairs.

Time keeps going. Funny how we are surprised at the changes we never noticed.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Have you ever...

Have you ever wandered lonely through the woods?
And everything feels just as it should
You're a part of life there
You're part of something good
If you've ever wandered lonely through the woods
If you've ever wandered lonely through the woods.

Have you ever stared into a starry sky?
Lying on your back you're asking why
What's the purpose I wonder who I am
If you've ever stared into a starry sky
Have you ever stared into a starry sky.

Have you ever been out walking in the snow?
Tried to get back where you were before
You always end up not knowing where to go
If you've been out walking in the snow
If you'd ever been out walking you would know.

~Brandi Carlile

So I was listening to Pandora and this song came on. I had to pause it and look up the lyrics. It was that stunning and spoke to me. 

Yesterday was a wandering day. I just slid on the snowshoes and started out. I had absolutely nothing in mind but just to go and observe. To see what would catch my eye.

Ice Crystals

Sunburst Lichen
I think...

I have no idea...

.....but it is
crazy cool...

Robins eating
Buckthorn berries
and spreading the seeds
in poop.

The ice wall

I took off the snowshoes and meandered down the creek. I had no idea what I was looking for or what I wanted to do.

Grumpy Dragon to his 
brother the Forest Dragon:
Hey, I thought you said
Spring was on the Way!

Cool Clear

Moss along the 
rock wall.

Have you ever been out walking in the snow?
Tried to get back where you were before
You always end up not knowing where to go
If you've been out walking in the snow
If you'd ever been out walking you would know.

That was me. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

I like Lichen

The winter doldrums are sometimes hard to shake and after days of being stuck inside, I've been getting out again.

Whew. Yesterday's excursion was just an amble through the woods and valley to see 'stuff'. I wanted to go explore Lichen.
The book I got said it can be found in the winter rather easily. 

I really like this book and could call it Lichen for Dummies. It is separated by where you can find certain Lichen. Trees, ground, rocks, for example.

So I headed out to the woods on snowshoes which was a good choice. 
And I stopped by one of the first trees I saw.

Next, I need to learn how to identify trees much better. I pretty much am clueless unless I have hubby with me. He can glance at a tree and tell you what it is just by looking at the bark and the shape. 

The moss book is much more difficult. I think the writer assumes that the reader already understands all of the biology and taxonomy behind plants. I don't, but I can learn.

I was pretty excited to try something new. 

Foliose Lichen. [Lichen having lobed leaf like shape]

I didn't know that Lichen is not a singular plant. It is composed of two dissimilar organisms. Lichen is a unique form of Fungus and Algae. The two organisms work together. Tree Dwelling Lichens.
There are between 14 thousand and 20 thousand species. So uffdah! I will only look for general ones!

Lichens don't hurt trees. They can grow on the ground and grow on rocks. I can't wait to get back to Black Hawk Rock in the KVR and study all the lichens I've seen there.

Do I know what I am looking at yet? Nope. Just delving into it. 

Tree trunk with a crack in it and lichens of different kinds growing on it. I recognize the 'leaf' pattern of the most common type of lichen. 

White lichen and moss below. Did the lichen 'eat' the moss? Or is this just dried up?
I don't know.

So much to learn!

Cropped for a closer look.

When I got to the creek to search for mosses and more lichen, I got sidetracked.

Guess who? The Robin crowd!

I crept up on them and they flew off. So I squatted down on my snowshoes and waited. The Robins came back and busied themselves along the edges of the creek.

I really think this bunch has wintered here in the valley. 

I realized my hands were getting cold and I'd dropped my mittens somewhere along the way. 

I found the mittens at the second tree I'd stopped to look at. What a duh moment!

But the mitten retrieval took me past an old oak tree that had been blown down about 3 years ago. It was covered in exciting 'stuff'.

I put the mittens in my pocket and pulled out the Oly Tough camera with the super macro mode [this is what I used on the other photos]. I should have taken those shots with the auto focus stack, they would have been clearer. [Live and learn right?]

Cool white black lichen. I can classify it as a Crustose Lichen:

Very odd looking. I just thought it was some sort of slime moldy thing. Did you know that slime mold falls into the fungi category? Nah, me neither, but it does.

Last but not least. I think this is some sort of fungi growing on the lichen. 
They look like creepy little turds or something. They are less than 2cm across so you can have an idea just how small they are.

And for the last of the discoveries.
Unidentified orange 'stuff'.

This was growing in small cracks in the wood. So I may assume it is dead lichen or dead fungi of some sort.

I do love mysteries like this to solve. Tiny things in the woods that we don't even notice because we are always looking for the Big Picture.

I can't wait to get out and find some more curious things. 


I took a class in photography about 10 years ago. I wanted to learn more. And I did, but often I was chastised by the instructor for something he called 'Serendipity'.

He often said I was an okay photographer but I was missing out by just catching the moment. I would never be a great photographer because I didn't plan hard enough.

His complaint is that I let nature run its course and if I went somewhere I didn't plan in advance enough. 
Time, temperature, forecast, ... get an app on your smart phone to tell you the angle of the light in any location at any time... Sunset, golden hour, blue hour...


In a way I do plan. Heavy dew in the morning? Fog? Low lying fog? Hoar frost? Rime frost? I do get out to try and see it through my lens. 

A pro photographer? Nope I am not. So I am the casual for fun photographer. I am Not going to make money at it. My husband used to nag me about it. I've done weddings for friends [dislike] and thought of senior photos, but I am not clever with what I see in today's standards. I leave that to those pros who have studied portraiture. I suck at people photos. 

Besides why would I take something that is my stress reliever and creative outlet and turn it into a JOB? Ewww. No thank you.

My instructor kept at me. I used serendipity. I let things happen and just happened to be there. I would never be 'good'. I understood the push and I learned quite a bit from the 6 month course. What I learned most was the world of pro was not for me. And truthfully in these times, I am glad I do not count on photography as a source of income.

Well. I certainly went off on a rant didn't I?

What started me thinking along these lines was this shot I took yesterday. Totally unplanned. Charlie had freaked out over the coyote and was literally pawing at my coveralls. I thought he might be cold so I sat on a boulder in the creek. I was sweating and my glasses had steamed up under the goggles, so I needed to cool off and give Charlie a break.

I turned around while we were sitting there and thought I'd take out the Olympus I'd just had altered into a Full Spectrum camera and shoot it without an IR filter. 

I was using live view because I had a dog still in my lap. The glare of the bright sunlight made it hard to see, but I had an idea of looking down and seeing up in the still water.

I was really intrigued by the frosty formations on top of the ice formations that I could see with the naked eye. Any time I knelt to look at them, Charlie was climbing into my face and looking for a lift.

I gave up on taking anything interesting and hiked with dog in arms back up the steep hill to home. 

Last night I opened the files and looked at the shots I'd take with purpose. They were okay. But they kind of were just okay

The one I took nearly blind with dog in the way ... I really liked.

Serendipity. I wouldn't have taken it if all those crazy events hadn't happened. If I'd planned it all out I'd have missed my Upside Down shot.

I believe in Serendipity!

Sunset [with the full spectrum camera] on Monday night:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Face to Face

Charlie begged me to go as I tossed on my coveralls. I knew I should wear snowshoes but...

I knew Charlie should stay home

I'm not always smart, see? I thought I would just take a short hike and walk in my tracks from last week. Charlie would be fine. Really he would. I pointed at him with a mittened hand. "I am not carrying you! So don't ask. You can do this right?"

He gave me that adorable look that I cannot refuse. 

Of course!

We made it to the creek bank and just as we were going to drop down about 20 feet into the creek, Charlie started to shake like a leaf and he tried to climb my coveralls. I reached down and scooped him up. 

I looked over to the fenceline that marks the end of my land and the start of Gary's land. Both ponds and the tiny falls were frozen solid. I wanted to climb down there and take a look.

Around the huge roots of the old cottonwood tree and rocks came a large coyote. He/she stood and stared at me. 
Well now. I knew it was breeding season and I know coyotes will grab a dog in their territory. They are much more aggressive towards dogs during their mating season. 

In the blink of an eye the 'yote turned and disappeared upstream. Of course, it made sense. The snow is less deep along the creek the frozen water makes for a great trail.

I fired a warning shot with my pistol and saw the 'yote bound eastward and up through the woods.

I set Charlie down and he had none of it. Nope. He was going to climb up my leg no matter what. 

Coyotes and Gunshots! Are You Kidding Me?

"Charlie, you chose to come along. I told you that you would be snow swimming." 

I watched for a bit and then we dropped into the creek. I hobbled along with a long dog clutched in my arms and trudged through the snow. I berated myself a bit in not wearing snowshoes and bringing Charlie. However the poor guy hadn't gone on a walk for nearly a week. 

I put him down again so he could follow my tracks over the ice and snow while I negotiated some tricky footing.

"No Charlie, you said you'd be good. Oh poor Charlie, you are shaking!"

Well, at least this time he wasn't off and running trying to find every smell and dig out any suspect voles under the snow. He was a cling-on. 

Our hike was extremely slow with me picking him up whenever the footing was good. 

I sat for a bit on a boulder and pulled dog treats out of my pocket. Poor fella was still pretty nervous. Dog treats always make things better. 

We made the trek to the other end of the creek and headed up the forest trail. I kept carrying Charlie and plunging through the deep snow. Each step reminded me of why I should have put on my snowshoes and why I should have left my dog at home.

"Cardio work out Charlie!" I said as we climbed the steep hill. "This is a good one!" It was hard. 

We got to the meadow and Charlie found a well trodden deer trail. He raced ahead while I admired the wispy clouds in the sky.

We approached the house and Charlie raced like the dickens to the porch and sat at the door until I arrived. I cracked open the door. Charlie sped through without a backward glance leapt onto the couch, and promptly laid down with a sigh.

Dismissed, human.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021


The horse that started it all. Her name was Cheyanne and I purchased her for about $400 green broke. I was green broke too. She taught me so much about equine. She was super sensitive to human attitudes. 
Her awareness of her rider's mental state was hypersensitive.

She did a stint in 4 H with Horseless Horse riders and went to state with a rider. 

Unfortunately that atmosphere was not her forte. She did well but stressed out so badly especially when her rider came out of the arena and started to slap Chey because she didn't get first place. 
The rider blamed Cheyanne. Interestingly enough the rider's mother came up to me and complained that I should have made them do better and they would win next year.

I asked the rider to dismount and told mom that her daughter would never touch my horse again.

I ended up moving from the Kenosha area out to the western part of the state. 

I started riding mules and Cheyanne was bred to our Jack. Her first daughter, Sunshine has that floating trot that Chey had. Cheyanne was 1/2 Arab and 1/2 Quarter horse. We never were quite sure which breed would show up while riding her. If we had really tough trails, she would be calm. If it was boring, she would look for monsters. That was Chey.

Rich purchased a big tall lanky mule for me in Missouri out of our Jack. His name was Badger. If ever I had a soulmate in equine form, Badger was it.

I had to finish 'training' him and by doing that, I learned so much more about mules and their loyalties. We showed in Western Pleasure, played at Gymkhana, and explored wild woods nearly every day together.
The man who 'started' Badger under saddle said he was worthless and no good. He didn't have heart and sulled out all of the time. 
Badger was 15 hands and thought he was tiny. For the rest of his life he did not tolerate big male people. 

He even tried Endurance Riding with me. We never won anything, but we always passed vet checks with a great score card.

He adored little people.

We lost Badger in 2012 and I struggled to find another soul mate. 

Sunshine is Badger's half sister out of Cheyanne without the Cheyanne attitude. We also had Siera a Peruvian Paso mule with an amazing attitude. 

Sunshine is steady. She has had her moments, but has turned into one of the best wild wood mounts I've ever had. She is small enough to go morel hunting with, easy on and off, and confident in solo riding.

Siera is an amazing ride. On the flat she can gait out like nothing I've ever ridden. She is calm when she has company and a bit nervous solo. She rarely gets bothered if her rider doesn't understand what they are doing. She just stops what she is doing and waits.
Best thing of all, when she is frightened she just stands there. Siera is the ultimate in lazy.

At first I thought Siera would be my next pure mule soulmate. 

The more I interact with my mules, the more I have discovered that Sunshine, that little red mule that everyone laughed at...has become my little darling. 

Every day at chore time. She comes and stands before me and waits for me. She is kind and attentively listens to my daily troubles and offers only her friendship.
She never runs away from me when I have a halter.

She is like her half brother. True through and through. 
My beautiful redhead.

There I go ... Memory Lane. Mules, horses, life, and love.
I can't wait to go riding again!
I may have take Siera or Sunshine out when the weather warms up and do some snow play.

Have a great day.

Monday, February 15, 2021

More Stuck In..side


The mules are officially out of water and today will be the high of zero, dammit.
I'll get it done though. I will carry them water this morning and put it in pans and this afternoon when the temps rise, I'll fill the large tank. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Yesterday I 'played' with the converted Full Spectrum camera. I found that I can get interesting colors that are slightly strange if I use the camera without the Infrared Spectrum filters. 

I did this photo with a 665nm Filter.

The shot below is where I took all the photos using just the light from the back door which faces north.
Behold the mess. Old antique boxes stacked with a piece of plywood and a lid to an antique box for the back stop. Paper for any textured back grounds.

My dear friend from Alabama sent me some darling little toys via Amazon. I can't wait to take them to the woods for some adventures. Charlie is perplexed with the wind up toys and will take his nose and tip them over while they are walking.

The shot below is with no filter on it. 

Okay. When converting a camera a clear filter replaces the one inside your camera that blocks IR light. A camera converted this way is also used often in Astrophotography as it picks up light differently. No, I haven't tried that yet, but I may  try it when the temperatures are much nicer outside!

The tiny fake flower in the little brown bottle is actually bright red and the colors in the paper below should be a bit more orange. If I put the 'hot' filter on the lens, the camera would see the light as any normal camera would.

Next up, my wooden toys sent to me by a childhood friend. 

The marbles in back are actually clear and the paper is black with white grunge markings on it.

Bored yet?

Infrared is considered an artsy, non traditional, and way out there type of photography. The scenes that can be shot are pretty neat. However there is a lot more work to the final product depending on how a person wants it to appear. Post processing can be hard. Everyone argues over white balances and RAW files along with how to channel swap...or not to. 
My take away is this. I consider Infrared to be a license to do odd and beautifully strange photography. 

This is a place I am comfortable with. I have so many trials and errors that I am grateful that I have a digital camera and not film.

On a good note. Tomorrow we are supposed to get UP to 12 degrees! I'm considering putting on shorts and flip flops.

I may even start the Subaru and go to town for some groceries. Meanwhile, stay warm and safe. 


Late afternoon Update: I laid out the hose on top of the snow and used the sled to transport about 50 gallons out to the tank. What a workout!