Saturday, November 30, 2013

Today's walk report: 113013

"Now can't you see
Where the raven flies there's jeopardy."

This was a really fun and invigorating walk. First I'll mention the music. Genesis Archive 1967–75. Specifically discs one and two which is a live performance of the album, A Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. This show was at a favorite venue of mine, The Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, 1975. How I missed going to this concert still eludes me. Anyway, the music seemed to pace perfectly with the walk.

For those who think we don't see any fall colors in SoCal.

The continuing saga of the green lynx spider # 1 and her unhatched eggs. But the very, very 1st green lynx spider report was the 2nd blog entry I did on my walks. That was April 20th and is here. That's before I knew what kind of spider it was. That was also a very young and quite tiny spider. The first adult green lynx spider was reported on 082413 here. That spider was located in the Salvia uliginosa (aka, Bog sage) in the garden and I lost track of it---until today.

Meanwhile, the green lynx spider I've been calling green lynx # 1 is still tending her nest. I was a little concerned because the plant she's on has been cut back some for fall but she's safe. I just wonder now if those eggs are ever going to hatch.

Now, onto the excitement. Two weeks ago I reported on a red-tailed hawk which had caught itself a nice big squirrel. Well there's a part of the story I never mentioned, the part where I went back to see if the hawk ever went back down from the tree to its prey on the ground below. It did not. I felt a little guilty for this because I was the reason the hawk flew off with his catch and I was the reason he left it on the ground and went into the tree. I figured once I left it would swoop back down and have a meal. But it didn't.  Here's a picture of the squirrel taken upon my return from the top of the hill almost 40 minutes later. It was getting dark and the hawk was nowhere to be seen.

I say I felt a little guilty but truth is there is so much squirrel and rabbit activity on this campus because they don't really have too many predators. These rodents and lagomorphs are rather complacent over the whole thing from what I can see. They certainly aren't too bothered by people which indicates to me people feeding wild animals. I personally don't think that is wise.

Today I felt vindicated however. Once again I crossed paths with my hawk friend, right across the street from the previous incident. This time though he had a jack rabbit. This time he wasn't going to leave because of me. But not only was there this tolerance of my presence I think the bird realized I was helping it out by scaring off potential competition for its kill.

I moved in gradually to get that shot. That's as far as I was going to go. As I turned and headed across the street I was alerted seeing this guy flying in. He was making a hell of a racket and I knew why.

I believe the crows calls were being directed at the hawk. I've seen crows swoop on hawks many times presumably as a territorial thing. Every time I've witnessed this the hawks simply out fly the crows, they never actually engage.

I wasn't planning on scaring the crow away but it had crossed my mind. As it turned out the crow was simply more intimidated by me than the hawk. In fact I don't think the hawk was very concerned over my presence at all. Maybe he remembers me, perhaps accepting me as a non-threat this round. I happen to know this crow and I mentioned before I'm sure this bird recognizes me. Crows are particularly adept at this by the way.

The lamppost is just above and about 15 meters in front of the hawk and here he comes...

I moved from the middle of the street to a spot in front of them both.

That got to be a little too close for comfort for the crow and he flew across the street perpendicular to where we started onto another lamppost. He bitched at me a bit. I was talking back too.

The crow finally flew off back to where I usually see him at sunset, typically with his partner. Once again once he saw me he decides to take off. I thought maybe back to the hawk and rabbit but no, he went off into the sunset.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Today's walk report: 112913


Good smells for the most part once I got away from a very modest number of people scurrying about in their automobiles. It rained a little today. It wasn't much rain. I checked inches recorded just before leaving for the walk and came up with .05". But it did clean the air and I caught a rainbow from my window here shortly before leaving.

On the walk, entering the garden I saw a rainbutton, which is much like a rainbow except it looks more like a button.

Onto the smells.

In the garden I found myself gravitating towards fresh smelling somethings. I'm not quite sure it was anything in particular though. I mean, there were smells I couldn't specify. Maybe it was a bunch of stuff simply coming together in the cool crisp air.

There are lots of sages and while flowers are a bit sparse right now sages still pretty much smell like sages without them.

There's also a lot of prostrate rosemary around contributing to the smells.

Crowea 'Pink Star', It will get pink too, come spring. I don't think it has any distinctive order I just happened to take a picture. I'll tell you what, I'll stick my nose in it tomorrow.

There are several different eucalyptus on the Aussie native side of the garden. Those help add to the pleasant smell.

This certainly wasn't contributing anything positive to the olfactory experience. What is it about so many cigarette smokers thinking the world is their ashtray? Besides, there's no smoking in the garden or on the campus in general except in a few designated places. That's another thing--smokers think they have this right to defy the reasons behind these regulations. I used to smoke, I know... and it's bullshit.

Anyway, I took in a general appreciation for how great it smelled out there today. I didn't do well once I headed up the hill to catch the sunset however. The hillside declines on the other side of the street I take and on that side is cow pasture. There are only 12 cows left on the campus but that's enough. The wet cow poop oder really seemed heightened today too.

Sunset was spectacular.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today's walk report: 112813

Happy thanksgiving.

Yesterday I mentioned a couple of things about how I was thankful for taking this blogging direction with my daily constitutional by opening it up as something to share no matter how trivial, personal or even  how significant documenting a rather routine walk in a typically uneventful environment may be. Certainly it's more for me than it is for you. But there's a common ground here, you know what I'm referring to because for the most part that's where we're all at. I encourage you to look for something interesting outside your front door too. It's there, I promise you. You just need to see that it is interesting. Meanwhile, my looking for something thought provoking in all of this somehow fulfills the prophesy. At least where's a curious effort--for me anyway. I only hope that some little things here and there are engaging for other people too. At least there might be the occassional pretty, amusing, or otherwise compelling photograph. And hey, there was this image, found by a photo editor for Science & Vie (Jr. version) magazine in France. This for a "special issue on, 50 projects for a better world." 40,000 copies for the print edition, my monarch caterpillar gets 1/8 page and I made some money. I'd love to do that all day everyday. This also reinforces my point because I learned a lot about the life cycle of the monarch when I did these images, just as I do about many plants and creatures I bump into with my camera. I don't just take a picture and say here... I do research and learn. In fact, with the monarch I am also planting milkweed seed, seeds collected from the very plant you're looking at in this image come spring. Monarch caterpillars are specialist feeders that feed only on milkweeds.

What I didn't mention and what I'm probably most thankful for in my walks is the incredible zone it often opens for me when it comes to problem solving. I can't even begin to describe and for sure nobody would care to know how many times I was stuck on some task, process, mental or emotional barrier and I was able to work through it or get past it on my walks. That's the 1st thing. The 2nd thing and this has been mentioned a few times before is, I get over physical pain on my walks. Most frequently I recover from back pain by walking. Granted my feet aren't always happy about it but it works and it also works to relieve stress related tension remarkably. No drugs, no side effects... well, again there are the feet. But even foot pain which to be honest is ever present tends, in most cases, to ease after 1-2 km into the walk. Sometimes they start complaining again around 6-7 km but I'm usually homeward bound by that point and they're fine once I relax and take my shoes off.

Today's walk was amazingly quiet. There were moments when I felt like I was the last man on earth. Then some idiot driving like he was the last man on earth snapped me back to reality. Aside from that the music was great, the air was crisp and it was a very satisfying 2 hour outing covering about 10 km. Yes, I stopped a couple of times just to relax and take in my surroundings.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today's walk report: 112713

Gobble, gobble...

No turkey here tomorrow... unless Lucy T. Cat gets some turkey baby food. I think there's a jar of that in the cupboard.

Another abbreviated walk today because I cranked on some housekeeping and yard work to get stuff done for the Thanksgiving weekend and to make the place nice for me and Lucy. Plus I still have some stuff to do before nightfall.

Me and Lucy, that's it, just the two of us this year. The first real family holiday since the mom passed in March. It brings everything forward again so maybe it's best I'm alone with my cat so my sorrow doesn't infect anyone.

The walk was a supermarket walk to pick up dessert for tomorrow. The menu is about to be called in for delivery today because I can't find anybody in this Valley who's open tomorrow. In Los Angeles you could. I've been doing this for 6 or 7 years now. Here's the menu...
  • Lemon Chicken
  • Shredded Pork with Brown Sauce
  • Orange Peel Beef
  • Combination Pan Fried Noodles
That's right, Chinese food for Thanksgiving. The dessert is homemade Dutch Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream. Yep, it's homemade, as soon as I take it out of the box and put it in the oven.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for joining me in my silliness here. I'm thankful that I have the gumption to override censoring myself and do this. It reinforces my walks in a very positive way, allows me to share, to feel closer to my own experiences and has been liberating on one than one occasion. Other times it's a pain in the ass, but that's okay, that makes it a discipline. I need some discipline.

Lucy says thanks too... meow.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today's walk report: 112613

the WHO?


20% chance of rain Thursday, 30% chance on Friday.



on me...

Sorry, just trying to be cute and I really had nothing more than a photo of a ceramic owl.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Today's walk report: 112513

Decorations waiting in the wings...

Actually, one house was just about done setting their's up. They have people who come in and do this for them. Seems like it takes the charm out of it but I know from experience here at home, the parents start pushing 60 and holiday decorations on the house aren't such a priority anymore. I'll be putting some lights out... mostly because I like colored lights though. I'd probably do it despite the holidays if it wasn't a little wacky.

Lots of Santas big and small...

I said... BIG!

Here's a preview from last year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Today's walk report: 112413

You know what I like about football?
It makes Sunday walks even more peaceful than they are without it.

Painted lady looking both bedraggled and plump. Maybe she's just looking for that spot to lay her eggs so she can say goodbye. Adult Vanessa cardui butterflies only live for two weeks.

I went to check on the green lynx spider (no, still no babies--I'm actually starting to worry for a spider) and while I had the close up attachment still on I saw this hoverfly on the Mexican bush sage just in front of me. I figure the spider is getting rather boring at this point so...

Aperture at f13 trying to compensate for the short DOF with the close-up attachment, not quite fast enough on the shutter though for this shot but I was sort of impressed to see how long the hoverfly's legs actually are.

The young falcon again, mentioned here, today on the other side of the street from top of the hill so I went over there and it got spooked on my approach...

I couldn't get focus quick enough in flight as it flew to where I was and where I usually see it. I will continue in my effort to get a good shot someday.

Yesterday I mentioned some geese getting past me before I got a shot off. Today I saw this small flock coming well in advance.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Today's walk report: 112313

Never closer to home than the day,
The day I started.

It's a lot of the same so mostly pictures today without the banter (yea!)

Red-tailed hawk above a sweetgum tree.
Green lynx spider still minding her nest--no babies.
Waverly sage (Salvia 'Waverly")
As soon as the music ended on my iPod I hear, honk! honk! Right over my head, I didn't have time to ready the camera. They will be around for quite awhile.

Visiting Canadian geese

Once again options on the sunset. The first shot is a crop from a single image shot 70mm, while the 2nd is a crop from a 7 image panoramic shot vertically at 300mm.

So ends the day. I had a really nice walk.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Today's walk report: 112213

Oh shit, it's Friday!

No, not TGIF but rather OSIF. I knew it was Friday, most of the day anyway. However once again I rushed to get out the door, this after lying down for about 1/2 hour and listening to music with the cat sleeping in my lap. Once I dumped her (gently) I began to hurry-hurry to prepare myself except I wasn't preparing for the right walk. To make things worse I didn't realize this until I was about 3 km into my Monday-Thursday walk. That's when I said, oh shit it's Friday. I looked at the sky and decided I was going to catch the sunset from my regular Friday sunset location, went to the end of the block and turned around for home so I could get the camera which accompanies me on weekend walks.

Once I got home and checked the sky again it was obvious that I wasn't going to make the hill on the college campus by sunset if I resumed walking. So I grabbed the camera and drove. I know, wtf, huh?!?

I decided to turn into the stadium parking and hike up to the cross country course, take some pictures and make a go of walking some of the course.

There were some other clumsy bits of nonsense along the way too but you'd have to have been there. The music somehow kept things in balance for me. It fit the goal of the sunset quite well anyway. The music was Yes, Tales From Topographic Oceans... So, all about the sunset... Nous somme du soleil.

A few of these images were based on different crops of the largest panorama (4th image down) which consisted of 9 stitched shots totaling a little less than 20,000 pixels wide. Most of the crops are CinemaScope, 2.55:1 and one is 16:9. Or something like that, after awhile it all melds together in my head. This took awhile.

Tomorrow is SATURDAY... please make a note of it. Thanks for joining me on me walk(s) today.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Today's walk report: 112113

Somebody get the phone!!

I'm going to try to make this brief especially since nobody cares. I have been complaining about the weather and unfulfilled predictions of rain ever since I put down 2 lb of wildflower seeds on my property on October 28th. Complaining mostly because I've had to water everyday sometimes as many as 6 times a day so the seed would germinate and get healthy enough before slowing down on the H2O. Until today.

Today it rained. Mostly during the night. When I should have been sleeping. But no, instead from about 11:45 PM I was waking and looking at the clock every 1/2 hour. I think I went to bed about 11:15. Sometime after midnight I was waking looking at the clock and scratching the head of Lucy The Cat. Lucy had parked just to the left of my head until we both got up--at 4 AM! I could not figure out why I couldn't sleep or wouldn't stay asleep, until I tried to take a nap in the afternoon. I went to the living room couch and lied down with music on the stereo. I was tired, without question. However, I became acutely aware of something I was only moderately annoyed about before attempting the 20 winks. My tinnitus. I think it's the same pitch I always have but it had gotten louder, certainly more irritating over the last few days. It suddenly crossed my mind that it might be due to the change in barometric pressure. I did some cursory research in the Internet since my iPad was sitting right next to the couch and sure enough a lot of people have this problem. I've had tinnitus since I experienced a "sudden loss of hearing" (that's what Drs call it) back in the end of 2007 but I never noticed it becoming more pronounced with changes in the weather. Until now. This was going on a couple other times of late when we were borderline on rain too. I even started trying an antihistamine/decongestant about 10 days ago because I read that might help and I sensed it would. It's done little so it's off the remedy list. If you're wondering, it didn't effect my sleep either. Now with an actual storm coming in it seems to corroborate the theory.

So that sucks.

Here's what it looked like on my walk. The walk was lovely too. It also provided my 1st real relief from the ringing because of music from the iPod tending to cancel it out. However, even with the music I noticed this ringing at times where I normally would not. It's around 7 kHz if you're curious.

Weather report: Right now the prediction is, thunderstorms in the area are spotty. Showers with a possible thunderstorm early evening, then variable clouds overnight with still a chance of showers. Showers are also predicted for tomorrow. While I love the rain it will be interesting to see if my tinnitus adjusts once the atmospheric pressure gets back to normal.

I'll leave you with 7 kHz... (the cat just left the room)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's walk report: 112013

Breaking Meryl's pot and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

I don't have a picture of Meryl's pot because I had no idea I'd be writing about this at that moment. I was passing this woman's house as she was trying to break apart a 20" terracotta pot with a dead something prickly plant in it using a pair of lopping shears. She was chipping away at the thing so I stopped and said, give it a really good whack and it'll split wide open. She was trying to break the thing up to get it in her trash bin, tomorrow being trash pickup in her neighborhood. She seemed uneasy about my idea so I offered to do it for her. One whack and it was history. Then she went into her house to get a photo of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi while I threw her stuff away.

Notice the pot remnants and the lopping shear on the ground. I'm guessing by now someone reading this will be thinking... "wtf?", so I'll explain. Meryl is one of many people who have seen me walking in their neighborhood for some time now. Some of these people wave at me, some say hello in passing and some of them completely ignore me as if I were invisible, despite my rater formidable appearance. Some people, like Meryl, seem curious about where I came from since, on the whole this neighborhood still has some sense of community and a stranger suddenly shows up on a daily basis, it at least warrants some curiosity.  This is the neighborhood just south of my old elementary school. A neighborhood from what I gather still has quite a few residents who date back to at least my High School days. For me High School would be '71 - '74. Meryl, it turns out, is one of these people. We got on a timeline after I mentioned the grammar school, she asked me if I also went to Taft High School, then she asked me what year I graduated and then offered the year of her graduation, 1969. I said rather spontaneously, oh, so you were there when the Maharishi visited? Her jaw dropped. Apparently not a lot of people remember this and as it turns out Myrle not only saw the Maharishi at Taft she also ended up studying TM, getting a mantra, etc. She was excited enough to go inside and bring out this photo from the day he visited the school.

If you don't know, the Maharishi was kind of a big deal at this time because of his relationship with the Beatles. You know there was Sgt. Pepper's in '67 and Magical Mystery Tour about six months later... everything was pretty groovy and sort of far out, psychedelic with a flavoring of eastern mysticism thrown in for good measure. Hey, I remember wanting to go see the Maharishi myself. I was 12. Anyway, it makes for a good segue into what I did today while waiting for rain that still hasn't materialized but remains looming. This is the kind of stuff I like to do on rainy days. I'm still trying to find some inspiration for making some sort of "card" for Christmas. Today and last night I played with an application called ArtMatic which is a modular graphics synthesizer. I enjoy this because on one level it's sort of mindless with sometimes fantastic results and on another level the application is very complex with almost infinite possibilities in design via a "structure tree" of patches somewhat equivalent to patches on an audio synthesizer. There are a lot of parameters one can tweak. I can work with both mathematical equations for creating images but can also incorporate "analog" sources by importing image data from photos, etc..

Basically most of what I did was working with fractals. With the ideas of fall, winter and Christmas in mind here are some examples of what I created.

Falling Into Winter
Christmas Butterflies

Winter Arrives
Christmas Lights Though the Bathroom Window
and I'll explain the last title. Each bathroom in this house has one or two 27" x 18" textured (frosty) windows which looked out onto the Christmas lights each year along the eves of the house. The light would distort like this and with blinking Christmas lights outside I thought this was amazing as a child. I used to go into the bathrooms, turn off the light in the room and just stand there watching the changing patterns which would also alter as I changed my position.