Category Archives: clouds

Want A Beautiful 1.25 Acres in the Country?

A few years ago Vince and I purchased five acres of beautiful property, and subdivided it into four parcels. Three have sold. Two have beautiful homes, and my favorite remains.  We thought it had sold to one of my former fourth grade students, but financing fell through. I was so sad – instant grandchildren came with that sale. But maybe there is someone else just as lovely that wants to build a home there.

2015 BV March110

Two days ago the weather was so perfect, I had to do a photo shoot there. It’s on a cul-de-sac and has a pad already cleared for building. This is the house across the private road.

2015 BV March132

It was about 4:00 pm. The full moon peeped out of the clouds in broad daylight. I see a rabbit. What do you see?

2015 BV March127

The lot has five or six oak trees that are probably between 50 and 100 years old. They are indigenous to this area, but are not protected like the Visalia Oak. The cute little house across the street is ours. We are very proud of it because it was a HUD house that Vince redesigned and remodeled years ago. It is small, but very I think very adorable. He’s getting ready to redo our master bathroom. His son is coming to help him today, and I’m going out of town. (Whew!)

2015 BV March149

The trees have many birds, mostly owls, woodpeckers and vultures. They are camera-shy. I waste so much time trying to capture them with my camera.

 

2015 BV March155C2

I almost missed this one, and it’s not clear. I’m probably spinning as I follow it. I shot using my telephoto lens, which gets really close, but it sticks out so far, I can’t hold it steady. You are looking at the underbelly of a woodpecker. They love telephone poles. Every pole stores thousands of acorns. They like to put them in our gutters as well, up under the edge of the roof.

2015 BV March118

This is probably a vulture in the top center of the maze of limbs.

2015 BV March151

He doesn’t want to even land.

2015 BV March120

To the east beyond the foothills, you see the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on a clear day.

 

IMG_3832R

There is a vacant lot right across the street next to our house. Vince has always wanted to plant a vineyard, but there are many regulations, and neither of us knows what we are doing, so it sits fallow.

2015 BV March117

You can see that the trees will bloom any day now.

2015 BV March116

The young couple that planned to buy the property asked about snakes. Mama Kitty ate one the other day. I think it was a garter snake. She made the funniest screaming noise while she was playing with it. After munching it down, she later gave it back, but  was no worse for the wear.

2015 BV March115We have seen about 2 tiny rattle snakes in the 15 years we have lived there, so they are there. We had Kalev rattle snake trained, so she is alert. The cats just eat them. They also catch gophers. The squirrels are too much for them, so we have help catching them and the raccoons. Scardy Kitty got stuck in the trap one morning. He was quite irritated as he waited patiently for me to figure out how to open it.

2015 BV March152

Country life doesn’t appeal to everyone, but city slickers, Vince and Marsha wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

 

 

Reward: What Does It Mean To Me?

I think accomplishments reward me.

2015 ride home126Frankly there is no reward great enough to recompense a person for the amount of effort they put into a project.  For example, why blog? Is it because someone rewards you? Of course not. Most of us blog to communicate with the world, to share what’s happening that’s important to us. My last blog told the story of  Bob’s old barn, I fell in love with it just in time – it’s coming down. It was rewarding to take pictures and tell the story.

2015 Hengst Barn106I took the picture below of this same path Saturday on my way home from Visalia. It has changed. History is all about change. Today it looks like this.

2015 ride home128This crane cleared out olive trees, and the barn will come down soon to make way for a new field of fruit trees.

Today I met with a friend, Laile Di Silvestro, today who is helping me heal a sick and injured website for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies. My reward for the three and a half hours that we labored is a website that works a little better, a closer relationship with a talented and generous person, and –  totally unrelated, but I’m counting it as a reward – beautiful weather giving me scenery to photograph.

2015 ride home110Seriously, you’d think it was mid-summer in Montana to look at that sky. It’s a bit chilly, but not enough to deter anyone. We’ve all been praying for rain. That would be a reward.

2015 ride home105A few of these clouds rewarded us with a light drizzle, but not much rain. Most of our water comes from wells pumped from underground aquifers or nearby irrigations ditches.

 

2015 ride home104These pumps may not look beautiful, but water is a huge reward.

2015 ride home106

And we are rewarded by food, not only for us but for the cows that provide one of my favorite foods – cheese. Tulare County is one of the largest dairy producing counties in the world. We probably have more cows here than we have people. Most of them live near Visalia and Hanford in large dairies of up to 5,000 cows. Talk about a lot of work. If you don’t like cheese, it might not seem like such a great reward, but I love it.

2015 ride home119This is the dairy I used to pass everyday on my way to and from work.

2015 ride home117Those cows probably aren’t praying for rain, but I’m guessing that the people who live in this house on that dairy farm are.  I hope they get their reward. :)

 

For more entries about rewards click here.

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: My Favorite Things, Chorus

When Tule Fog hits the Woodlake Valley, the best thing to do is stay home until visibility is better. By ten o’clock this morning the fog had dissipated some, and I wanted to do something fun.  I grabbed my camera and walked around the yard with no intentions, but to have fun in the fog.

Black BirdsI found this black bird on the spoon handle waiting for the four-and nineteen others to join him to bake in the pie. Little does he know what awaits him. We learned this song in nursery school, and sang it to the next generation.  Do you remember it? I found two tunes. Which did you learn?

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocket full of rye.

Four and twenty blackbirds,

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.
They sent for the king’s doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.
Bird Encounter
This doggie scarecrow that guards our garden didn’t fare so well with his nose.The birds chewed his ear, too. Invisible seams didn’t happen. Maybe the doctor couldn’t see in the fog, or maybe he, like the brave pup, was a little rusty. Hard to tell. 
For a more adult chorus to illustrate these pictures try Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.”
Click the icon for more of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Entries. 
cees-fun-foto1

Practicing Descriptive Writing Here – Brain Fog? – No, Real Fog!

It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.

fog7

If you can get away from it, fog is beautiful. This week Debbie Simorte, my Girls on Fire editor, asked me how the weather in Visalia could be sunny and foggy at the same time, like that was a Kansas City impossibility. When I drove to Los Angeles this weekend for a meeting, I had to drive almost to Tejon Pass before I found an example of what sunny fog looked like. Visalia had no sun that day, only fog. The freeway, I5 South, split the fog in half as it curled up for a nap against the mountains north of the Grapevine.

fog5

As I drove south, the light haze on east side of the freeway foretold of the clear skies awaiting me in Los Angeles. The beauty of the graduated fading fog enticed me off the freeway long enough to snap these pictures before I continued on my trip. I didn’t move much from one spot as I rotated from east to west to capture the entire scene for you.

My favorite feathering of fog

My favorite feathering of fog

Tinkerbell should be in this picture somewhere sprinkling magical fairy dust in the mountain canyons. It seemed unreal to me.

fog3 The arc of fog needed a rainbow marking its border, but none appeared. It remained stark white. Fog tried to bar the sun from entering the valley.  At about two in the afternoon the sun tried to burn a hole in the clouds as it had already done on the east side of the freeway. I couldn’t stay to see if it succeeded.
I

 

 

Not a dense fog
Not a dense fog

I stood behind the tree and tried to shoot up at the sun, but the effect didn’t please me.

foggy night
foggy night

I left the meeting at 4:29 PM the next day in a rush to get over the Grapevine while it was still light. Dropping into the Central Valley, the fog greeted me. It probably had never left. At at night fog no longer felt benign. I took this picture through my dirty windshield as I ripped through the fog approaching Bakersfield, I must have plowed the clouds away. On a closer inspection microdrops of dust on my windshield remained as a calling card of the fleeing mist. I look straight ahead. I could see clearly now. When I looked to my left, there it was. It hovered just off the freeway at a gas station ready to pounce on me again. Once Bakersfield’s lights no longer protected my car and me from the fog, the sky dropped puffs of translucent cotton air onto the road. My car became a vacuum cleaner sucking in white dust bunnies. The stronger the suction, the thicker the fog became. By the time I turned off the freeway onto a country road, I could see only three lines ahead of me. A car passed me going the other direction. I counted to six as I watched him in my rearview mirror, and poof, he was gone. Fog turned the roads I know so well into a strangers.

For those of you who have never experienced Valley fog, this is a taste of what the natives call “Tule fog.” How do you describe the fog in your area?

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

 

Travel Theme: Illuminated

Without illumination, there would be no photography.  Even the worst pictures illustrate illumination.  That being said, shooting into the sun illuminates.  When the sun is blocked, an interesting outline appears.  I scooted under a huge anchor to take this picture.

Luau Kalamaku in KauaiIf an object is translucent, it acts like a filter shadowing what is behind it.  To me this looks like a little alien carrying a pappoose pointing its finger at something.  We had gone to a Luau in Kauai.  The grounds attracted us back the next day for closer inspection.

SFW Luau Grounds030c

The night before at the luau, illumination came from man-made lights.  Since it required longer exposures, the photographer has to be careful not to move.  When a tripod isn’t available, that is difficult, but the results can still be interesting.

Luau Kalamaku in Kauai

Slow motion shows up when illuminated.

Luau Kalamaku in Kauai

Some surfaces reflect back the sun or lights when the photographer shoots toward them.  Nothing behind or underneath the reflective object is visible.

SFW Santa Monica165

I visited Santa Monica to get this sparkly picture.  My bird friend is well illuminated.

Clouds change colors when illuminated.  Cameras capture the sun as it truly is, a gaseous object.  People everywhere take sunset shots and it seems that we never tire of them.

SFW Santa Monica175

Santa Monica at sunset combined both artificial and fading natural light to illuminate the ferris wheel.

I hope you enjoyed my beachy tour of lights.  To be further illuminated, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Layers conjures all kinds of images for me.  As a gal from the Midwest, I learned to dress in layers, but layers envelops us at even more basic levels than that.  These pictures all came from our Accidental Vacation to the Oregon Coast then down the northern California Coast.

For example, here is an example of the air we breathe.  When we can see it, we can tell it comes in layers.  The more layers you see, the less you see what’s behind the layers. In this case, a hillside obscured by layers.

Sunrise1
Klamath River in Klamath, California

Trees grow layer after layer, year after year.  When we harvest the tree, we shave layers off it to shape it into a form that pleases us.  Then we add layers of protective coating to it so that it stays beautiful forever.  If we add too many layers of even clear varnish, we lose the beauty, and it can chip as it becomes brittle.

Oregon Trip 201320130913_0090r
Myrtle Wood Factory next to the Oregon Dunes KOA north of Coos Bay, OR.

This next picture has so many layers that it distorts the picture.  Layers do distort.  This next picture has so many layers that I can’t even count them all.  Maybe you can.

Oregon Trip 201320130913_0099r
A window display in Florence, Oregon

How many layers did you count, and what were they?

To see more wonderful layers, click here.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Hue of You

I love most colors.  My house and clothes closet swell with many colors that reflect my love of variety and life.  I love contrast.  Blue might be my favorite hue because it is the color of both sky and water, it was my mother’s favorite color, my eyes are blue, and people compliment me when I wear blue.  I’m a pushover for compliments.

SFW Nortre Dame390

My brother Randy and I took a cross-country trip, and saw many beautiful sights.  A picture that illustrates some of my favorite colors is one of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis where we attended when we were children.  All the colors are crisp.  I love red brick with white trim, dark green trees and perfect sky blue even without the clouds.

Chicago_0457

Here is one Chicago building I liked that displays many shades of blue. The color of aged copper  roof ornament contrasts with the reflective glass panes.  Set against a perfect sky, few pictures could show my favorite hues more beautifully.

One way to narrow down what you like is to throw out what you don’t like.  This next picture epitomizes the colors that depress me.

SFW Warren Dunes SP MI102

I love green, but these green trees did not invite me to sit under them and have a picnic, nap, or a chat with a friend.  These sparsely clad autumn trees said, “You are welcome to hold on to me to keep from blowing away, but I may fall over, too!”  I love clouds, but these clouds are dirty gray, not even promising rain, just cold. Even the sand and turquoise water in Lake Michigan has a grayish cast. I don’t recommend visiting Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan in late October.

I hurried up to get this challenge post completed before the new one comes out tomorrow.  If you haven’t taken a look at other people’s posts, click here.

Bravo Lake

I have to admit that I’m mad about Bravo Lake.  It takes up about 1/4 of the area labeled on a map as Woodlake, and you can’t stand on a street anywhere in town and see it!  It started out with great promise, “Bravo!  Bravo!”  sounds like an excited cheer.  Something like, “Yeah, here’s a big beautiful lake.  Let’s have a picnic.  Bravo, sport!”

 

I'm going to catch a fish here any minute.  Get the barby ready!
I’m going to catch a fish here any minute. Get the barby ready!

That is not what bravo meant in the case of Bravo Lake, however.  In the early 1850s, when Tulare County was established, quite a few Irish settlers came to this land of plenty, seeking their fortune.  Times in Ireland were not conducive to finding fortunes as  the Great Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845 to 1852.  They might have first tried their luck at finding gold in 1849 about 200 miles to the north, but their sights were set on finding a good place to grow some food.  The Kaweah Delta was a great place to settle.

This looks like a good place to settle down and raise a family.
This looks like a good place to settle down and raise a family.

Not to stereotype, but you’ve all heard of the fighting Irish?  In Woodlake the fight between two Irishmen, one a future California senator, gave Bravo Lake its name.  Grace Pogue describes the death-defying squabble in her book, Within the Magic Circle.  

Bravo Lake, named by Indians, was given a Spanish name.

Swamp John and Tom Fowler, two fiery-tempered Irishmen, met one morning on the shore of the lake, which extended at that time as far north as the Wacaser place. As usual, they were in a fighting mood and the battle was on. T. H. Davis Sr., exasperated at their continued squabbling, pulled out his six-shooter and said, “You fellows settle this scrap right now. Finish it up, completely. And I don’t want ever to hear of your quarreling again.”

The fight was on now in deadly earnest. It lasted until noon. The news spread like wild fire. In an unbelievably short time, a crowd of Indians had gathered to see the finish of the feud. Shouts of “Bravo! Bravo!” spurred the doughty old warriors on.

At last, Swamp John sank exhausted to the ground. Satisfied onlookers carried him down to the lake to remove the traces of battle. Tom Fowler walked to the on his own power and bathed his hands and face. He was proclaimed the victor. The erstwhile belligerent pair were good friends forever after.

The lake was immediately christened Bravo Lake by a pleased band of Indian spectators.

This all happened before 1889 because Tom Davis, Sr. died in that year.  So my guess is that Bravo Lake was here when the white settlers came in 1852.  That being said, I bet they could see it.  From the street, I mean.  It was the center of interest.

Bravo Lake Fish Fry

Today you can’t see the large lake from street level in any direction.  I worked in Woodlake for years, and people would ask me if I had walked around Bravo Lake.  I didn’t even know where it was, and it was in the center of town.  Because the western section of Tulare County is the drain for multiple rivers, you might guess that flooding was common in the early days.  That was a problem for these settlers, so at some point a levee was built around the lake shrouding it from public view.  Years after that the Corps of Engineers dammed the Kaweah River, which feeds into Bravo Lake, eliminating the flood danger, to the best of my understanding, but nothing was ever engineered to make the lake reappear to the drive by onlooker.

Come right in.  Enjoy the lake!  :)
Come right in. Enjoy the lake! :)

In order to see this beautiful lake you have to walk up a steep bank and through a large opening in a tall chain link fence  Nobody here seems to mind that.  There is a beautiful botanical garden edging the south side of the levee.  Houses rim another section, and the rest is flanked by well watered groves of trees, mostly olives.  Along the brim of the levee is a wide, partially paved walking path.  I guess that is how they placate the public.  No one is prevented from walking around the beautiful lake.  but unsuspecting folks driving through Woodlake on their way to see the Sequoia National Park would completely miss the gem of Woodlake.  I think that is downright inhospitable!

What do you think?

Bravo Lake Is All Filled Up

Sally Pace and I walked around Bravo Lake for the first time together on February 12.  It was so empty.  I darkened it to show you how sad it looked, and wrote my name in the sky so you’d know the sky wasn’t really that color.  The amount of water is real.

Bravo Lake in Feb.

Water managers turned on the faucets and filled Bravo Lake over the weekend.  Today I picked up trash along side of five middle school students, and their teacher, my friend Courtney, and the President of Kiwanis, Tony.  We split up to get the job done faster, but we didn’t get finished, in spite of having the best equipment.  Can you see our little pincher pick-up things?

Good bass, catfish , and trout fishing in Bravo Lake
Good bass, catfish , and trout fishing in Bravo Lake

Bravo Lake is the main attraction in Woodlake, but it is hidden behind a levee that is built up all the way around the .46 square mile lake to prevent flooding.  Right now it is filled to capacity so that the runoff from the Sierra Nevada Mountains doesn’t overpower the Kaweah River Terminus Dam I wrote about a few days ago.

It's about a 3 mile walk around the lake.
It’s about a 3 mile walk around the lake.  See how clean it’s getting?

Saturday at 6:15 a.m. I will go back to Bravo Lake to help register runners for the big fundraiser for Kiwanis “Round-Up for Hunger 5K/2K Walk/Run.  If you are interested you can register at http://www.WoodlakeKiwanis.com., or call Linda at 559-564-2485 or email linda.441@hotmail.com.

Everybody that sees Bravo Lake wonders why it is so undeveloped.  It wasn’t meant to be that way.  The picture below is from Pogue’s book covering the years 1853-1943.  Can you guess the year in which this picture might have been taken?

Fish Fry at Bravo Lake
We saw a huge dead fish today, April 9, 2013 hovering against the bank of the lake trapped in the tule weeds.  I’m guessing it’s one they either missed or threw back.

One of my questions is when did Bravo Lake appear?  I know it was a reservoir, #713 to be exact, but was it man-made or was it part of the landscape when white Americans first appeared in Tulare County in 1852?  So far I haven’t found that out.  Gary Davis and I poured over this 1892 Atlas of Tulare County that has been reprinted.  Here is Bravo Lake, plain as day, long before Terminus Dam was built on the Kaweah River.  The atlas was printed 40 years after the first white settlers appeared in Tulare County.

Notice that they have dug the Wuchumna Irrigation Ditch from Bravo Lake across the valley.  Water rights in this area have been, and still are a much contested item in California.  Nobody wants to share their water.  Our region is quite dry most of the time receiving less that 10 inches of rain annually.  However, there are many rivers, canals, and springs that are used to irrigate crops.  The work of digging and redefining the landscape in Tulare County began almost as soon as settlers appeared.  So settlers could have dug Bravo Lake, but did they?  I still have much to learn.

from the Official Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County Thos. H. Thompson.  Tulare, California. 1892
from the Official Historical Atlas Map of Tulare County Thos. H. Thompson. Tulare, California. 1892 Reprinted by Bear State Books in Exeter, CA

I love this old atlas.  I bought it from my friend, publisher, Chris Brewer.  His bookstore in Exeter, the Book Garden, is the best place to get books about Tulare County.  This historic atlas has the names of all the owners of all the property at that time.  You can see Bravo Lake in the lower left corner and the property that belonged to Jonathan Blair just right of the lake.  He was the fellow that pastored the Presbyterian church for 20 years.

Closer view of Bravo Lake
Closer view of Bravo Lake  Up at the very top right hand corner of this small part of the map you see the name T. H. Davis.  That is the edge of Gary Davis’s great-grandfather’s property.

“Steve R. Webb, Real Estate agent, had bought up a large tract of level land from Blair and others north and west of Bravo Lake. Now, to the utter surprise of everyone, except (Gilbert) Stevenson (millionaire from Los Angeles who had the vision to build a town around Bravo Lake),…, the lake suddenly found itself rechristened, and the town of Woodlake sprang up beside it in a phenomenally short period of time.” Pogue 37.  That was in 1910.  During the Great Depression, Stevenson lost all his money, and his dream died.  He had spent the grand sum of $135,000.  The reservoir remained, but Woodlake never became the developed resort that Stevenson envisioned.

In real life today it gets a lot of use as a walking path.  Unfortunately it gets messy.  We found a bur-infested coat, a shoe, lots of brittle, lake-permeated styrofoam cups that cracked into a million pieces when our pick-up tongs pinched them to pick them up, some cupcakes, an unopened bottle of beer, and lots of plastic bottles, bottle caps, potato chip bags, and plastic bags.

Here is the Kiwanis/Builders Club de-trashers standing in the Botanical Gardens.
Here are the Kiwanis/Builders Club de-trashers standing in the Botanical Gardens.

In 2003, Manuel and Olga Jiminez wrote a grant and started a botanical garden at the foot of the levee around Bravo Lake.  On Saturday I will take more pictures of the gardens for you because I will  be WALKING at the Run for Hunger.  Or maybe I’ll take pictures before that if you sweet talk me.  The roses behind us are just gorgeous right now.  I haven’t researched the gardens just yet, but they are gaining recognition in the area.  The new website, Tulare County Treasures has a nice article about the Botanical Gardens.

Vince Ingrao, Realtor

By the way, if you want to buy property in Woodlake now, you can always call the great real estate agent, Vince Ingrao – the honest agent I married.  559-799-9165

Photoshop Sky – So easy!

Of course we want reality in our lives.

Leslie came out looking stunning with just the touch of an artist's hand to bring out her natural beauty with some more color.
Leslie came out looking stunning with just the touch of an artist’s hand to bring out her natural beauty with some more color.

That’s why we put on make-up, and fake nails, hair, clothing that slims, clothing that builds up, paint our fences, and I could go on.  So the reality was that the sky was beautiful on Friday.  But the truth was that my picture didn’t show it right.  Here is your proof – Paul Bunyan standing around in Three Rivers.   This picture shows perfectly blue sky with no filter necessary.

See how blue the sky is.  This photo is untouched by Photoshopic hands.
See how blue the sky is? This photo is untouched by Photoshopic hands.

And right across the parking lot the sky was this color.

See how washed out the sky was.  Got out without her make-up!  :)
See how washed out the sky was? She got out without her make-up!  You can see between the trees , the sky is blue on the right side.  Splotchy sky – no good!

A warning to future photographers:  neither spit nor shoot pictures into the sun.  Or is that wind?

Anyway. shooting into the sun washes out the sky, and I don’t like the color of bleach it uses.  However, there are times that you either shoot into the sun, or you don’t get the picture, and this was one of them.  I didn’t want a backwards sign, and I wasn’t coming back in the morning.  So stuck between a rock and the sun, I chose the rock, and got rid of the sun’s damaging effect to my perfect sign and rock.

Like putting on make-up I want the effect to look natural.  What do you think?
Like putting on make-up I want the effect to look natural. What do you think?

I fixed it.  And it was so easy.  I simply picked a color I liked from the many palates of color.  Then I used my paintbrush tool and colored in the lines.  I got fairly close to the trees, then I zoomed in by pressing command 1, and made the size of the paintbrush tip small.  I dotted between the leaves – click, click, click.  Now  close to the tree line with a little blue like a Monet – click, click, click.   Next, I went to the spray tip, and painted in a few white clouds.  Finally I blended them with the mixer brush until I was happy that they looked natural.  And voilá – a perfectly made-up sky, ready to face the day.

Do you like the look?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

A dear friend gave me wool yarn from Australia to make a warm sweater as a departure gift from Colorado Springs.  It was summer, and even in Colorado we weren’t thinking about cold weather, but certainly not in Tulare County where the 90 degree temperature recorded at 5:00 a.m. almost persuaded us to find a job elsewhere.  I wondered if I would ever need a sweater!  Was I ever naive!  While the temperatures rarely get below freezing, sweaters are VERY useful.

Changing SeasonsThis first picture, taken December 4th, shows the basic gray that indicates that winter is upon us.

Winter in TC

Last January, while hustling to a meeting, the picture above demanded me to stop, and remove my camera from its bag, and click it.  Where we only get 10 inches of rain a year, 99% of it comes in November – January.  Rain could start any minute – and it did.

TC January 2012 FogWhen the rain stops, dastardly Tule fog creeps across the landscape blinding drivers who can not longer see two feet away from them in the daytime!  On this beautiful January last year the sun broke through, dashing the plans of Fog’s armed clouds that stuck close, protecting their earthly territory.  Warrior Sun fought valiantly for two or three days to slash through thick foggy armor to free us.  We have not had fog this year, but we all know it’s on its way.

Featured Blog

Justice For Raymond, written by Ray’s Mom, differs from most of the blogs I see. The first time I visited it, I thought, “Wow could that happen?”  So far in my blogging travels this blog challenges viewers to do more than like the article or write a response.  The blogster says it best,

http://www.denied-justice.com is a web site that holds documents, court transcripts, autopsy for Raymond Zachry, the reason for the blog, Justice for Raymond.  Ray suddenly, unexpectedly died September 25, 2007.  The autopsy revealed that he had a huge amount of lethal poison in his system.  Still the coroner refused to cooperate and allow an investigation.”

In this season of giving, I need to pause sometimes, and think seriously about the meaning of life and my purpose for enjoying the privilege of being here.  Thanks Ray’s Mom for reminding me that life is precious.

More ideas for Changing Seasons

Celebrate the season!

Seattle Warwick Hotel

From this downtown Seattle Warwick Hotel handicapped room, I was not hampered from taking a few pictures from the window from my 9th floor room.

I like this picture because it almost has a 1950s art look about it.  It was chilly, but not raining the first day of the National Council for Social Studies Conference.

You can see the rain spatters on this picture, and I don’t know if they are new or used spatters, but I like what they contribute to the picture.  Too bad I don’t know my buildings, or I had to throw away as much weight and paper that I could to fit everything in my suitcases.  I mistakenly thought to myself, “Well, I won’t need this MAP anymore.”  WRONG!  If I could only convey to you how little good maps do me – even though I understand perfectly how to read them.  The never seem to translate into taking the right turns.

I have to admit that this chair was a total turn-off, and obliterated my love of the views.  Fortunately for me, the staff took pity on my, and moved me to the 15th floor the next night where I enjoyed the benefits of a luxurious bath tub, and the following views.

 

Doesn’t this look fake?  But it came right out of my own Canon camera.  There were actually little people, elves, I think building that building you see in the foreground.  I should have recorded the sounds as well.  The view was so beautiful at night that I kept my curtains open – not the windows!  It was cold out there.

The helmeted elves started before it got light in the morning.  I don’t know how long they continued at night, but they were done when I got home.  Trust me I was careful how I dressed because the elves were pretty close – even in the dark.

 

Off to the left was this magnificent building.  The flash reflecting off the window again gives the whole picture an adorable fake look to me.

Better than the views – relief from the cold, damp winter walks.

Thanks Warwick staff.

 

 

Mowing the Cotton Field

When the mountain stopped me and asked me to take a picture of it, I had no idea that right across the street something was begging me even more to take its picture.

a field of cotton

NO, it took more than a mere field of cotton.  You guessed it – farm equipment doing its job.

Here it comes, that ole cotton mower

It looks small and innocent enough from this vantage point.  Wait till you get closer!

Closer, closer. Be careful! It’s got teeth!

You can see why the air gets so dusty in the Central Valley.  The sky was so immaculate on Saturday because it rained Friday night – our very first rain of the fall.

It still looks small and harmless, just a little dusty!

Don’t be fooled, You wouldn’t want your fingers down there.  About this time I had slid down the slight embankment, and was rushing toward the machine faster than it was coming at me.  In fact, it was ignoring me all together.  HOWEVER…

She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes…
Watch out tchistorygal.  Can you find my tchistorygal signature?  I’m hiding them now!
the cotton boll

As I turned from my engaging activity, I jolted to see, not 10 feet away, a white pick-up with a stern looking man sitting inside staring at me, just waiting.  That was a little eerie, I have to admit, but I greeted him with a friendly apology asking if he minded if I took pictures.  He didn’t, but reminded me not to get my fingers or feet near the cotton mower.  HELLO – like even a 2 year old would back away from a moving grinder like that!  But the slight reprimand was a small price to pay for being allowed to be at that place at that time with my camera in tow, fully charged with an empty disk.  I didn’t ask to take his picture, though.  Maybe he was worried that I was a safety inspector.

all ground up
Have you found me yet? My signature, not a miniature Marsha Lee.

Ok, that is pretty obvious, but don’t you love the little opening of light following the mower?  I did NOT Photoshop that in.  It was an amazing opening in the clouds.  How cool was that?

Just so you will be more knowledgeable at the end of this article than you were at the first, I want to clarify something.  I mistakenly thought that this machine was a cotton picker until I looked online.  I thought the fields looked pretty full of cotton still, but how wrong I was!  This machine in my pictures was merely mowing down the cotton remains.

http://www.toreuse.com/john-deere-7760-cotton-picker/

Did you find all my signatures?  I’m getting pretty cagey, don’t you think?

Under the Grapevine

Grapevine is a place, a town at the southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley.  I learned when I first moved here that when you start to cross over Tejon Pass you say, “I’m crossing over the Grapevine.”   It is quite a climb in just a few miles to the 4, 000 foot pass.  In the summer you are warned to turn off your air-conditioning so that the car doesn’t overheat.  That was not a problem on Saturday morning.  My problem in crossing the Grapevine was that it was so beautiful I kept stopping to take pictures.  I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Can you guess what lush crop is growing at the foot of the foothills?

As you are heading south, if you look to the southwest, this is the view you see.

Have you guessed the crop?

What captures your attention?  The mountains in the distance, the green crop, the patch of sunshine beneath the thick blanket of clouds, or the heavy sky?  For me it was the sun turning the mountains copper-colored as I looked west.  I hardly wanted to post this picture, yet as I analyze it I appreciate it.

The sign MIGHT tell you, if you could enlarge the photo enough. Or would it?????

Some of you may know without a sign.  I was still captivated by the sun sneaking through the moisture laden sun-blockers to tan the hills.  I couldn’t resist the texture of the canyons in the mountain sides.  Mostly I was captivated by the falseness of it.  When I was in school in the midwest, I remember seeing pictures of the west, and I didn’t think that the pictures could possibly be real.  How could plateaus be so flat and still be at such a high elevation.  How could the sky look so ethereal?  But here it is years later, still looking like Tinkerbell could pop into the picture sprinkling  fog dust any second.

Have you guessed yet? I had to get closer before I knew for sure.

Have you ever seen anything that looked so healthy?  If I eat a few of these I might turn into the Jolly Green Giant.  Instead I am just turning into the Jolly Giant.

Were you right? Did you guess carrots?

I didn’t pull one up to check, but they look similar to the ones I have grown.  Mine never looked this good, and they always come out short or twisted.

Fall in the Foothills

Come white misty fog
Dusting the sun-brushed hilltops
Polishing the air.

You know fall has finally arrived when the fog greets you in the mornings.

Fog in the foothills

This picture looks fake, but believe me, the only Photoshop touch on this picture was to give my husband credit for taking it.

fall flowers

By evening the flowers were drinking in the last rays of sunshine at about 4:00 in the afternoon.

“Give me just a little more sun.”

The cats look like they have gained 10 pounds.  It’s all fur.

“We’re good luck!”

“Check out all those abizia seed pods, Scardy Cat.”

“I think I could jump up and get those pods!”  “You’ve GOT to be Kidding – at your age, Mama?”

Hard to believe that at one time they were feral cats, Mama and Baby.  Now they actually pose for pictures.  Scardy is about 10 now.

Under the palm tree

It still looks like spring under the palm tree, but these annuals are lasting so far.

Kalev checks on my strawbabies.

There are even a few berries, but mostly they are putting out runners now.  I have a lot of work to do!!!

Kalev’s report, “It’s all good.”

Even though I think spring looks better on peach and apricot trees, our trees are doing their best to add to the fall spirit.

They even let go of a few leaves.

It’s not easy letting go.

You can’t have too many pictures of leaves.

Even Taliah’s caterpillar is looking a little wilted, and a bit faded this fall.

“If I had only one wish, I would wish I could fly away from this cold weather.”

Some of the fall blooms were blessed to be brought in from the cool weather.

Romantic Bouquet

Hope your enjoyed this photo walk around our yard.  V has designed and maintained it all, and the cats, Kalev, and I all enjoy the fruits of his labors.  I hope you will, too!

Photoshopped Foothill Peach Tree Orchard

Yesterday you voted on possible covers for a Kiwanis magazine published in the foothill communities of Woodlake, Three Rivers, and Exeter,California.  Thank you so much for your input.  At one time I took a series of fruit tree pictures, and I couldn’t find them.  I did find one picture, but I hated the sky.  So I tried a Leanne.  I tried to made major changes to it.  Please tell me whether you think my work is believable, and if it does the trick, or whether I should stick to the original.

Original peach grove

Sometimes the skies, even in the spring just look dirty.  Sometimes they are stunning.  So I borrowed a stunning sky from the following picture, and I copied it into the picture you see above.

Beautiful spring sky in the foothills

The next thing I had to do was fill in the area between the part of sky that I pasted in and the tops of the trees.  That was hard work.  I started with the cloning tool, and got all kinds of extra tree tops, ugly dirty sky, layers of clouds, and odd colors in odd places.  So I used the brush tool and picked up a light color from the sky and erased the weird layers of clouds.

Peach trees with altered sky.

I am not super pleased with the left side of the sky, but I’m not sure how to make it look any better.  So what do you think?

The Needle (Not the Haystack)

Before I start this post I want to thank you all for coming to visit my site, reading all my posts, making wonderfully encouraging and engaging comments, and in general, addicting me to y’all.  This is my 200th post.  Today, I may go over 9,000 views.  Who knew when I started this adventure that even ONE person would want to read my thoughts.  I am so grateful.

Secondly, I don’t want to get so caught up in my blogging that I forget to vote, and I don’t want you to either.  So if you are reading this and need to go vote, just go.  I’ll still be here when you get back.

I met a wonderful woman while battling the Hawaiian surf old-lady style.  On our last day there she told me about Iao Valley State Park where we had not visited.  So before we went to the airport we spent an hour or more hiking around this park wondering how in the world the ancient warriors ever hid behind this needle.

Watch your step; 133 steps to the lookout point!

So up we go to see this big needle that was a famous hiding ground for ancient warriors.  What did THEY do before these steps were here?

The climb was easy because we both stopped so much to take pictures.  We didn’t even try to stay together.  I got sidetracked by a spider web sparkling in the sun that wouldn’t cooperate.  Needle-like FOCUS Marsha.  (Self-talk is good.)

OK there it is.  Splendid view, and we are not even close to the viewing area!

This place is a little TOO inspiring!  What does that sign say?  Please pick up?  Is that what you want?  There are easier ways, Buff Man.

Oh NO.  Don’t Do It, Mr. Buff Man.

Viewpoint Headquarters

V and the French people made it to the top.  Of COURSE I did, too.  I’m taking the picture.  Still, we’re not very close to the Needle.  So how DID those warriors get there?  It’s still quite a climb.

What goes up, must come down.

And what a journey down was.  It wasn’t raining while we were there, but with this lush vegetation, you could well imagine that it should have been.

They don’t bother to post “Watch your step” signs here! (where it’s much more needed than on the safe stairs!)

Instead people were frolicking in the water.  With my inability to keep my feet under me on flat land, I didn’t try walking on boulders with cool river waters gurgling over them.

There was something for everybody at this park.

Is he looking for the Needle? He’s not even close to the Haystack!!

What is HE doing?

??? So what happened to Buff Man???

Where did HE go?

Did he turn into Spiderman?

Realistic costume Spiderman!  Nice crib, too!

Anybody seen Mr. Buff Man?

They were all waiting and looking.  Nobody could find him.  It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

If she saw him, she wasn’t talking!

I met this lovely woman from Bakersfield, CA lounging on the rocks just enjoying the shade.  The day was hot, about 86 degrees and muggy.

Watching the Vog Roll In

Finally, V and I met up at the entrance and sat in the shade and watched the vog roll in.  Vog was a result of the smoldering volcano ash from a nearby island.  It’s no healthier for you than smog, but we sat and breathed it in for a while just to get a feel for the place.

The Needle

With a needle this big, who needs a haystack?  I have to say, this needle is a little disturbing.  Cross my heart and hope not to die, I wouldn’t want IT in MY eye.

Related Hawaii Stories

SUNDAY POST : Wonderful

I would really love to learn to do animation, however, for now, that skill is just going to be left for the future.

Vince Up at the Crack of Dawn

I thought this was a wonderful picture of a wonderful sunrise that my husband snapped.  What I have learned to do with Photoshop I think also borders on superbly wonderful.  Let me share them with you as well.

A bit lightened up

This first layer played with brightness and contrast.

This next layer builds on the last layer by remodeling the hue.  I took out a bit of the blue.

I thought it was pretty wonderful when I removed all the color.  There’s just something about an old black and white, that makes the dramatic even more dramatic.

This was my last transformation with this picture before my eyes closed.  I posterized it.