Sea Blue Lens


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Observing the Natives

I don’t usually decorate for Christmas until about a week before the big day, but for some reason, I’m getting the urge early this year. It’s probably part of the nesting that’s going on here in my new home.

Anyway, yesterday I hung a wreath on the inside of my kitchen door and then left the room. Two minutes later (no exaggeration) I heard noises and went to investigate. This is what I saw:DSC_3469DSC_3470DSC_3473

Really?

Keep in mind that this wreath is: a) INSIDE the house, b) behind a dual-pane glass door AND a screen door, and c) is FAKE.

I was truly amazed that the squirrels could see it well enough to think that it looked like a food source. Oh, well. Onward, troops!

The direct frontal assault not yielding profitable results, they decided to try a subtler approach.

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The door handle.

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Well, that didn’t work either. Now she’s getting frustrated. Forget subtlety!

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Sorry about the motion blur, folks, but that’s not me. That’s Ms. Squirrel jumping up and down on the door handle.

Man, I’m glad I locked that door.

To give them credit, they are not stupid. After repeated attempts by several individuals over the next hour or so, they realized that persistence was futile, and gave it up. Today they are going about their usual business, without giving that tasty looking but unattainable thing another glance.

Here’s my favorite image, the one that made it as my 365 photo of the day. This guy didn’t even blink as I walked right up to the door and took his photograph.

DSC_3479The Creatures Are Stirring 96/365

I do love my squirrelly neighbors!


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Turn, Turn, Turn

This song keeps running through my head: To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under Heaven. My favorite season has just begun. Fall always makes me feel a bit melancholy, yet excited and happy about the changes and new beginnings that always seem to hum in the air at this time of year.

DSC_2849 misty morningMisty Morning  21/365

The last day of summer dawned cloudy and cool, with fog veiling the mountains. By mid-morning it had burned off, leaving a clear blue sky and a sun already shifting to the south. The air is cooler but the light itself seems to have a warmer, more golden quality even at midday.

DSC_2772 blackbirdWatcher

A few flora are flourishing despite the drought:

IMG_1104 yellow daisiesYellow Spiny Daisy

DSC_2833 purple astersMystery Aster

California Buckwheat 23-365California Buckwheat 23/365

Fauna are frolicking in the cooler weather:

DSC_2805 NiñaKickin’ It Up

DSC_2904 bunny hopThe Bunny Hop

Fall visitors are coming back:

DSC_2894 Nutall'sWoodpeckers and Finches and Sparrows, Oh My!

I’ve seen male and female Nuttall’s Woodpeckers here before, but only one at a time. I was really excited to spot this pair in our Charlie Brown tree on the first day of fall.

DSC_2887 WC sparrowRight on Cue

This little guy, the first of the season, showed up the same day, just hours after I said to my daughter, “I hope the White-Crowned Sparrows come back soon.” They winter over here but leave in spring to spend the summer elsewhere — probably somewhere cooler, if they are at all sensible. I haven’t seen one since April. I don’t know why I like them so much. They sing the same few notes over and over, but it always makes me smile to hear it.

And last but not least, the apples have been harvested. We had plenty of help:

DSC_2446 apple birds

DSC_2565 bunny apple

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But we did manage to salvage a few for ourselves.

DSC_2867 apple basketLast of the Harvest  22/365

At the beginning of September I began a 365 project, my first, with a small group of online friends. It has so far truly been a gift of grace, keeping my interest in photography up even while other concerns are occupying much of my thoughts and time. I thought I might feel intimidated by the group, whose work I already knew and admired, but instead I’m loving it! I’m being inspired and uplifted every day by their photography, while learning to look wider and go deeper with my own. I can’t think of a better new beginning for this fall.


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Photo-Heart Connection: July 2013

DSC_2252_BlueRoseSummertime Blues

It’s been over a month since I last posted here. Last month, I missed (skipped, actually) the Photo-Heart Connection linkup altogether. I just couldn’t get myself inspired by any of the images I’d taken, and I’m still having the same problem. I’m in a slump.

The image above doesn’t exactly make my heart sing, but it says something about my world this July. This was taken mid-month. I looked out the window from my desk and saw an odd spot of bright blue in the yard. I went out to see what it was and discovered this stunningly fake rose blossom lying on the ground. Where did it come from? I have no idea. No doubt the wind dropped it there.

You can see in the photo how dry the ground is. In July, our well went dry for the first time ever. The well serviceman who came to check the pump gave us the bad news and said it’s been happening all over the area. Now we’re having water delivered by truck. I wash my dishes in a bucket so I can pour the water onto my plants afterwards. And I dream of rain.

I do have some real roses, planted in pots and set up on a bench where the rabbits can’t get at them.  Unfortunately, something else could, and did. Every leaf, every bud, gone — stripped down to bare stems. Almost everything we plant gets its own little fence to keep the rabbits out. Yesterday, I saw a ground squirrel inside one of those fences, lunching on my portulaca. Again, every bud and flower, gone. Maybe I should try planting blue silk roses.

In July, wild things began invading my personal space. I discovered a tarantula in the hallway near my bedroom door. My brother-in-law caught it and released it far down the hill. Birds kept flying or falling into the exhaust pipe for my stove hood and getting trapped. We set them free. Something began bumping around in the attic space over my head. Squirrels, we thought. So we put up a trap and after several days caught the culprit — not a squirrel but a big fat rat. Can I just say, UGH! OK, at least it’s gone. Except after two days . . . the pitter-patter of little feet is back. So is the trap.

I’ve been feeling as out of place (and out of sorts) as that crazy blue rose. But . . . I know this will pass. The last few days have brought cooler, fresher temperatures, a whisper of fall-to-come. We even got a few drops of rain, see?

DSC_2313_Raindrops

Literally, just a few drops, but welcome. I’m going to try to look up, to appreciate the wild visitors to my birdbath and feeders rather than focus on the invaders. I will count the blessings of sunshine, fair weather, and the beautiful blue of the summer sky. It’s a new day and a whole new month.

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Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for July. I always (well, almost always!) enjoy this monthly chance to review my photos and muse about the one that speaks to my heart in a special way.


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Peeping Tom

This afternoon my brother-in-law knocked on my door, stepped inside, and quietly told me that someone was spying on me. He pointed to the kitchen window.

DSC_1736The Spy Who Eyed Me

 

DSC_1738Caught In the Act

Some spy. His technique is not very subtle, and he doesn’t blend in well at all. Whoever he works for should probably have sent a Chameleon instead.

Isn’t he a beauty, though? He’s a big one — about 14 inches nose to tail. He wasn’t bothered a bit by having his picture taken. I think he’s a Southern Alligator Lizard, and the long slender tail makes me think it’s a male. We have a lot of smaller ones around the yard, but this is the first one of this size that I’ve seen. I love my wild neighbors, even if they do invade my privacy now and then!


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Photo-Heart Connection: April 2013

DSC_1038Awwww!

I know, right? So adorable. I love these little creatures.

But . . . (isn’t there always a “but”?) they are very destructive. They dig huge holes. They reproduce like…rabbits! They consume every green thing they can find, including garden plants and the bark of young trees. Sometimes I hate these little creatures.

But . . . they were here first. They are only trying to survive. They get hungry and thirsty just like I do. They are living the only way they know how, in the only place they have.

They know their place in the world. They don’t question the purpose of their lives. Sometimes I envy them that.

Besides, no one who’s read Watership Down can ever really hate rabbits.

Just look at him up there. He really is adorable. Love always wins out.

And that’s my Photo-Heart Connection for April. Click on over and check out this month’s linkup.


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So Long, Chickadee

There will be lilacs!

There will be lilacs!

It’s official, spring has sprung. But my walk this week has me thinking back to last fall.

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Scout

In my bird book, I noted my first sighting of a Mountain Chickadee on September 19, 2012. At first there was just one, but soon we had small flocks in residence, hanging out with the house finches and white crowned sparrows.

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Mind If I Join You?

Then I began hearing an odd little tapping noise. What on earth? Oh, I see! A chickadee would pluck a hard, round seed pod (they are actually tiny cones) off the big arborvita at the corner of the house, carry it to a crape myrtle or pine branch, and hold it between his feet while pecking it open with his beak, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.  Over the next few weeks, they stripped every seed off that tree. Only then did they join the other birds at the feeders.

One day I caught a glimpse of a bird I couldn’t identify. It looked a lot like a chickadee, but its beak was twice as long. A day or so later, I spotted another one, got a better look at it, and had to laugh–it wasn’t another species, it was just one of my little chickadees with a sunflower seed in his beak. Unlike the house finches, who crack and eat the seeds right at the feeder, the chickadees carry away one seed at a time, again finding a branch on which to peck it open.

They’re rather gregarious little birds, often chattering and scolding from a nearby branch as I sat on my patio or cleaned and refilled the bird bath. But my picture-taking efforts were frustrating. I couldn’t get very close with the camera, and they move quicker than I can aim and focus. I’ve taken dozens of images and deleted most of them.

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Please, stop wiggling!

A few days ago, I was walking around the yard with my camera, taking photos of the spring buds and blossoms that are beginning to appear, when a chickadee alighted on a branch right next to me. He watched me turn and raise the camera, and sat quietly while I took eight precious, perfect shots.

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Then — gone.

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Two days later, they were ALL gone. Every. Single. One.

God speed and fare thee well, my little friends. Thank you for your gracious parting gift. I hope to see you again come fall!

I’m linking with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday. This was a short walk–I didn’t even get out of my own front yard. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to take you the rest of the way home from the mail box . . . the long way . . . so we’ll do that next week.
laf Custom Designs


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Surprise Visitor

I was working at my desk this morning when I glanced out and saw a startling sight:

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I know, not very impressive, is it? I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but sometimes you just have to go with what you can get. Here’s the cropped, processed, close-up version:

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This beautiful Cooper’s Hawk was perched on the back of the Adirondack chair that is literally 30 feet from my front door. I didn’t even have my tele zoom on the camera, but I captured him (her?) as well as I could through the window with my 18-55mm zoom. I was afraid to move for fear of scaring him away!

Isn’t he gorgeous? All my pretty little finches, sparrows, and chickadees had suddenly vanished from the yard, which made me glad, though it meant that this lovely creature had to look elsewhere for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the image is clouded by interior reflections on the window glass (curtains and even the dining room table). And I only got off a few shots before my battery died! I should have paid more attention the the Boy Scout motto, “Always be prepared.” I knew last night that the battery was low, and I also thought about switching back to the telephoto lens after I finished shooting some sunset skies. Next time I will listen to that little voice in my head!