Friday, December 31, 2021

Totally Unexpected


I was having a very hard morning. The end of the year blehs. The things I couldn't to do because I am the sole caregiver to a person with frail health were weighing on me. Maybe it was just the culmination of so much sameness in the past year. Or...perhaps even deeper yet was the question I'd asked myself the night before.

 ~ Who am I?~  [Deep thought is not for the faint hearted in the middle of the night!]

Today I asked Rich if he'd mind if I hike the Valley of Ice. That is what some folks call it. I hadn't really explored it yet. 
I set off. The day was dreary. Dreary.
It fit my mood.

I hiked the trail and noted fresh human and dog tracks. 

I started exploring and found my way to the first ice cave. I wondered if the tracks weren't from someone who had tied the blue ribbons up. But as I climbed around a snowy hillside and over downed trees, I heard a woof. And a "Hello there!"

I met a younger than ME fellow. He used to be a Geology teacher in Madison. Eventually we ended up in a larger Ice Cave where we sat down and talked about rocks and rock formations. He told me about his dog, who doesn't love talking about their loyal pets? He explained to me the history and make up of the  different layers in the rock that were were sitting in.

There was an area at the bottom of the ice where other older icicles had formed and dropped because of warm weather.

And as we admired the rock formations and the ice, I set up my camera to take a quick time lapse of the water seepage over the ice. The video is at the top of the blog and is 12 seconds long. I shot that just in front of where he was sitting.

I enjoyed his conversation and it was pretty fascinating. He explained the geology of this place in a way I could grasp it. Although, truth be told, I won't recall all the terminology he used.

We both joked about liking Lichen. He knew Lichen too! He didn't mind me taking his photo while he sat in the cave just enjoying nature. He said it would provide good perspective for the cave. He was right.

He is exploring all the Wisconsin State Natural areas and noting their specific and interesting formations his intent is to map them out so others can enjoy their natural beauty.

Eventually we parted and I went on to explore more of this valley. It is steep and rugged. 

I found the third formation.

There is a 4th but I didn't have enough time to climb around the deadfalls  to take any photos. I found an old equine trail and followed that on the ridge while stopping to peer down on the Kickapoo River.

By the time I reached my Subaru, I was the only vehicle around. My phone went off with weather alerts for our area. 
Just in time then.

By the time I got home, I was UN-bleh. I'd met another nature lover and interesting person.

I still hadn't answered that nagging question from the middle of the night.

But I figured I'd get to that ... next year.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Life ~ By Charlie

Charlie! Do you want to go for a Walk???

Hmmm. Hmmm. I'm currently holding down the couch and thinking about my camouflaged look. Don't bother me.

Aww come on, it is your Birthday!

As if I would recall that! Still, not impressed lady human. Go away.

I have cookies AND it is SNOWING!

Cookies? Snowing? COOOKIES??? Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Cookies. Yes! Let's go you fool!

It is simply amazing the amount of stuff that a people has to put on for a simple walk in the woods. It would be so much easier if humans just had fur like me and could go right out. 

However I imagine her feet would get cold while crossing the creek and walking in snow and ice.

She is always stopping to look at things. Always. I sniff around to find what is so interesting and she will tell me things like: Look at that ice forming!

And I am like. Hmmmm, no mice and no vole in the ice. I don't care. Let's keep moving!

Can we GO now???

Can we keep moving please?

There are deer carcasses to be sniffed and mice to be found. Let's go!

OH Wait. Um. Hmmm. Well, Okay, NOW I will be carried. I smell a kitty that is bigger than I am. 
Nope. Not afraid. Um, well. I think my feet are getting cold.

Perhaps if I shiver and look pitiful, she will pick me up and carry me through all this dangerous stuff. I smell cat. So I shiver and shake and look up at her ...I put my paws on her snowpants and implore with big Googly Eyes.

Oh goody. Coyote ~ Big Wild Dog too!

Sweet! I got a mini cookie and a lift! Phew, sometimes she can be awesome for a human person.

In fact she gave me a lift out of the scary place where the coyote and kitty have trails. Finally when we reached a 'good' place, she set me back down and off I ran. I can pounce and it makes her laugh. When she is so good to me, I like to make her laugh.

If I get too far ahead, she beeps me and I return. 

I don't know, but I kinda like these birthday walks, maybe I can have a lot more. 

Best part of these walks? SHE takes me home and I can resume my duties as a lap/couch/supervisor dog with the Him Human.

Life is good when you rule the house. Even better if you have Big Googly Eyes!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Is it review time?

Seems everyone does a 'year in review' during the last few days before a new year. [I just have to remember to write a new number on the few checks I do write]

Photographers on Instagram put up their top 9 photos. FB folk like to put up their TOP 10. 

There is a photographer I've know for a very long time. We both took on line classes together. He is a pro dude. He does layouts for hotels and spas ... and such. His hobby is producing landscapes. His work is beautiful but he insists that he must go to certain very over photographed spots to find THAT photo. That's cool and I admit, I am jealous. I have to stay home and find cool amazing stuff.

But the top 10. Meh. 

I love the one person I follow on Instagram that posted her TOP Fails from her year of hiking mountains and rough areas. Her boyfriend/husband/hiking partner helps out by videoing and photographing the places she goes. They are incredible and I like to view them because I like to dream.
Her Fails were wonderful. Because she wasn't trying to say: Look how perfect my year was!


I start thinking of my review of the past year. 
Pfft. Not much different than the year before. 

Good things did happen. I made a new friend! She was brave enough to hike with me in the Wilds of the Reserve.

I want to say all those fine things. Like. Hmmm, I grew as a photographer. What does that even mean? I didn't grow taller but I tried new techniques.

What were my accomplishments? Um. 

What stood out last year? Um. Oh, I know! But I am not going to say it as it will jinx us.

I started Yoga and that is good, however Yoga doesn't work when the TV in the other room 10 feet away is blaring Football or Boxing. Sort of ruins the concentration.

Wait, how about Mindfulness. 
Here is a definition of Mindfulness: a form of meditation being aware of what you are feeling in the moment. That is a loose definition. 

I think I flunked that. I start being Mindful and Meditating and my mind doesn't meditate it sort of floats off into a daydream.

It was another year of caring. Of being patient. Another year of being empathetic. 

My year's highlight was to sit quietly on a rock and sip coffee while the world awakened below me. 

And hopefully I end this year seeking out new ice caves.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

For Art's Sake

I'll just jump right in on this. I had a lot of tangents I went on first ... then I hit the delete button and started over.

Edits for Art's Sake:



This is a 'double exposure'. I didn't do it in the camera but used a plugin from DxO labs. 

Here is the entrance to the summer pasture with the brilliant red oak leaves glistening in the  late fall sun:


It is pretty. But ...this is how it felt. I use a paint program to 'paint' portions of the photo. Topaz Studio, an old program from a few years ago. 


Fall offered so many opportunities. I walked once a week past a Sumac Tree as it changed. On this foggy morning I struggled to find the proper way to present this scene. 



Update In 

I like to dabble in things. I like to 'create' sometimes. I enjoy trying new things and challenging myself.
I can't draw even though I used to draw cartoon critters as a teenager. 

Me as a Naturalist 
looking for creatures in the

When I used to write for a magazine,
I also tried my hand 
at cartoons again

Once in a while I get creatively stuck. 

After the snow had melted last week, I took my Infrared camera and went for a walk along the creek. Infrared shots work best with the reflection of light off from leaves with chlorophyll in them.

Most of what I shot turned out to be trash.

I used a 550nm filter which horrifies me each time I try to do anything with it. I felt since I disliked it so much, I should try and make it work. Do something out of my comfort zone.



This shot turned out so 'otherworldly' that I like it. Note to self. This filter still is very hard to work with. 

My next shot is another IR shot. No fancy camera, a point and shoot.
I rather like the challenges that October and November bring with IR.  The sky and the pond ice reflected blue when I 'channel swapped' the colors.
The pines on the other side of the pond did appear slightly different shades of white and grey.
The birds were added.

 October hike in KVR in a washout above Weister Creek.



I'm not even sure why I like this one, but I do and it was fun to work with. I painted in brush strokes and then erased them from the zig zag of the wash. I guess this is really how this particular spot 'felt' to me.

The only thing more fun would have been to see a unicorn, a dinosaur, or woodland creature hanging out in the back!

The fog on Christmas Eve was fantastic. Charlie and I couldn't get enough of it. Okay, Charlie really only went out with me for the first time.

I wanted to do something different and try some High Key work.

I dig fog, I really do!



The photo above was used as the base for Charlie in the double exposure in that first edit!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sunday Stills ~ 'Tis the Season #34

Sunday Stills 2.0 Tis the Season #34

Images from the last snowfall. 

Our table ...
Getting ready for a dinner 
for two...

More Shenanigans on the
Christmas Chair....

Tis the Season.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas fun

 Elf on the Shelf
as his eyes on
Val Barbie

The Troll Family gets together to exchange gifts....

Norman! I said 
somewhere NICE
not ICE!

Beary Christmas
and Girry

Awkward Moments
Dragon Relatives


And finally I set 
the table for the 
two of us...

And that is all she wrote...

Hope you all had a beautiful day.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Hiking with Charlie

This has been a tough week in a few ways but I won't go into those details. I was able to eek out a couple of hours to grab Charlie and take him with me to KVR [Kickapoo Valley Reserve].

I was surprised that I was the only vehicle in the parking area. In fact I'd passed several parking spots and hadn't seen anyone. Imagine my glee when I shared this information with Charlie. Poor Charlie wasn't exactly being gleeful. Sometimes he gets a wee bit worked up and a little car sick.

I needed a short quick Nature Fix so I chose Weister Creek.

We were not disappointed.

Pano of an ice 'cave'

Charlie and I climbed up into the cave on the top right and set up the camera and stood inside. I have wanted to do this for a long time. Photos rarely give anyone the true perspective of what we are seeing.

If you are wondering what is on my head. Well, it is my Skunk Hat. It has a face and a tail. It is definitely my most prized hat of all time. My regret is that it I can only wear it in cold weather.

By February, depending on the temperatures, I would be standing behind a wall of ice and the sandstone behind me would be slick with dripping ice. The Reserve actually offers tours on their website but cautions that a person should be in pretty good shape as the hike is demanding.

Climbing into these areas can be a bit tricky.

Charlie and I had some snacks here before moving on to the second formation.

This set of caves produces some of the most interesting ice colors I've ever seen. The ice reflects tones of blue, green, and yellow. The cave at the top generally becomes a wall of ice. This is only a small portion of this rather large area.

Charlie and I had another destination in mind. We wanted to walk the old equine trail and gaze at the Weister Creek ice.

The water is low this year, but thank goodness there is still seepage from the hillsides.

Yet we were still not at our destination. We had to take the 'super' secret old equine trail to one more place.

We spent a while here listening to the water run over the rocks and investigating the animals prints in the sand.

Charlie saw me pick up my backpack and he scurried up the next leg of the faint trail. I called him back, laughing. He knows these trails as well as he knows his own yard.

He trotted over and looked up at me with his soulful eyes. If it had been up to me, we'd have gone on exploring until dark.

The short days with all the shadows and light were amazing. I explained this to Charlie as we headed home.

He was disappointed and explained to me that the smells he found were simply amazing.