June 21st, 2008 - Nick & Brittney's Wedding!

A Parade of Faces from Nick & Brittney's Wedding in Sonora, California.
I "usually never" shoot wedding photography, but it's good to break from the herd once in a while.
Nice wedding. More at flick'r...

June 20th, 2008

Sacramento Airport- 6/20/08 - 12:55:44 PM
I knew ironing clothes was EVIL... If it wasn't for Beigeguy's wrinkles, he would not exist at all.
Yeah, high-speed belly-rubs, just the way Rufus likes 'em.
Fooled by an artificial flower petal, the spider questions it's own existence.

June 19th, 2008 - Sierra Foothill Evening Edition



Out behind my sister's family's place in Sonora, CA is a field of rock rubble pretty much unchanged since it was blasted and broken by prospectors scores of decades ago. Of course it was one of my favorite haunts during my visit, I'd go out in the morning sometimes when the rocks were cool and just sit in one I called "The Console", sort of a bucket seat of white granite and just sit and watch and listen, along with my camera. Then I started going out in the late evening, right at dusk, looking for the gray fox I saw out my bedroom window and looking for the buck I kept hearing snort out there. Or at least I thought I heard it. You see, they live right at the end of the Columbia Airport which services the CDF fire planes, medivacs, and recreational aircraft (including some cool bi-planes). It's very quiet out there when the planes aren't running and I kept hearing this noise that I first recognized as a bucksnort. Then I kept hearing it repeat and the more I heard it the more I thought it could be somebody trying to turn over their airplane engine by hand, kind of a "chufffff... chufffff" noise. Finally in trying to sneak around in the rocks (hard to do, everything's loose and it's inevitable that you cause a mini-slide or a rock you step on pivots against another to make a loud "clank") I scared up the real buck and watched him bolt across the drywash on the airport side.
There are also a lot of rocks that have drill holes left in them (not sure if these are for TNT sticks or poles to move them around with) and these are a favorite for funnel-weaving spiders...
Like this guy. Amazing face. I think this is a "Funnelweb Mygalomorph" from the species Dipluridae, feel free to hop in and correct me if you can put a sharper point on it. Giant pedipalps like boxing gloves. These spiders sense vibrations on their webs and know if they represent food, a mate, or just bad weather. If it's lunch they engulf them in the fold of a websheet and venomize them to suck out the liquefied innards. Spiders used to creep me out somewhat, but I started thinking that they are the animals that are probably the most misunderstood because we can't seem to think of them in anything but human terms. It's gross to us to think of binding our living food in a websheet and having giant (for our body size) fangs to sting them with, then liquify their insides so we can suck them out because we have no chewing teeth. We are so far away from that, it's way off our radar screen. But it's the most efficient and practical method for their lifeform, and you know what? They've been at it far longer than we can even imagine. And what would we see thru 6 eyes? 8 eyes? Eyes that might not even ever see what the other eyes see. What do we even think we see? Does the prey scream as it's held in a web straightjacket waiting for the sting? Do we say sorry, I really hate it that I have to do it this way, but a guy's gotta eat? Do you say sorry to the Chicken McNuggets for all you had to put them thru to be able to dunk them into a honey-mustard bath?

Spiders aren't gross. They are in a dimension that we can't really say what they are.

June 19th, 2008

Ghosts catching up
Okay, it's been pretty much a blur for the last week or so...
Remember "Casper the Friendly Ghost?" Hated that cartoon, it had just one repeating plotline. It was all about Casper being humiliated because everyone was too afraid of his face value. Then some naive child would come along, too young to be judgemental, and Casper would have a friend for awhile, but in the end he had to go back to ghostland. Frankenstein Syndrome. (Especially like the Mary Shelley book, the Modern Prometheus, nothing like the crappy interpretations that came later) Woops, off on a tangential ricochet there, sorry. Anyway, I hated Casper TFG but it had one shtick that really stuck with me... when the person got so afraid of Casper that their "selves" jumped out of their body, then they would run, and when they stopped, all of them would pile back together into a person again. Sometimes I find myself visualizing this after hard travelling, especially after long, long trips, it's like your ghosts are catching up when you finally stop. Everything slams back together. Memories from the things you've done over the trip start seeping back into your view, as your mind digests.
Let's see... last Wednesday took the LRT (train) to the airport in a haze with an enormous pack on my back and most of my camera equipment in my newly modified shoulder bag (put plastic panels in it to armor plate the thing and added fastloks to buckle backpack straps on (didn't finish that part yet)), missed the Lindbergh Terminal stop for some unknown reason, got off the train, got back on in the other direction, got off at the right stop this time, trundled my crap to the baggage check, took off for Phoenix, was delayed, busted ass down the moving walkways to the other end of the terminal (isn't it ALWAYS on the "other end of the terminal", how do they manage to do that???), flew to Sacramento, got car, sat in huge traffic jam, drove to my sister's family's place in Sonora, said hey, hugged, got set up, took photos, hiked the rocks, drove back to Sac on Friday to pickup my spouse, drove back to Son, helped with nephew Nick and bride Brittney's wedding setup, messed around, tweaked my sis's computer, played guitar for the first time in ages, fried in the heat, rested in the shade, walked the rocks at night, shot 401 pictures at the wedding, talked to people I didn't know, talked to people I did know, got rained on in California, ate a lot of wedding cake, drank really good juice from their Jack La Lane juicer, swilled too much really good coffee, packed up my camera and stinky clothes and drove back to Sac with my honey on Sunday, on the way almost hit a frenzied, foaming at the mouth, sunburned lady running down Highway 4 in blistering heat in sandals and a gown screaming, "I need WATER!!!", turned around but saw her climbing into some family's pickup with a boat on a trailer, couldn't navigate for crap when we got to Sac and ended up missing multiple turns and not getting to talk with our friend Betsy who picked up Shar, got a migraine waiting for the flight to Phoenix, took a bunch of head meds, had a nice conversation with a lady that just moved to Phoenix from LA but was in Amador City for wine-tasting with her relatives, busted ass down the moving walkways to the other end of the terminal because we were delayed, jumped into the boarding line without taking a piss first, (mistake) sat with my legs crossed in a sweatlodge called an airplane on the runway in Phoenix' 115 degree heat, "um, we request you NOT put your windowshades up until the plane is at a cruising altitude to minimize heat buildup..." (didn't work), took off after a short, token delay, sprinted to the bathroom at the back of the plane at the first available opportunity and took a 3 1/2 minute pee, sighed with relief the entire length of the plane back to my seat, climbed over and thru my seatmates that didn't feel it was necessary to get out of their seats to let me get to the window, drank about a gallon of water while listening to punk rock music on the way back, landed at MSP, strapped on my enormous pack after waiting for the other 198 passengers baggage to come down the chute, stepped off the escalator into the blissful 76 degree Minnesota sunset, got on the LRT, trundled home behind some hoodlum teens begging cigarettes from each other, said hey to the guy with the prosthetic leg that always tells me about his dogs but this time said, "sure is quiet" after the gang of noisy, swearing teen hoodlums had just clambered by, got back to the house, fed the turtle, scrubbed her rocks, changed her water, fed the cat, packed a bag for the canoe trip yesterday, collapsed in my own bed, woke up before the alarm, drove to Taylor's Falls, interpreted nature for middle school teachers via canoe on the St. Croix River, paddled to Osceola, WI, saw a great waterfall, took pictures of it, stuck my head under it, got the tops of my legs so sunburned they swelled up, drove back to the city, loaded several hundred images into my computer, collapsed in bed, woke up, cursed myself for getting sunburned, drove thru massive construction to Maple Plain to pick up Happy the Dog, got licked, got scowled at by Mary for taking him away again, said hey to Sporty and Josie, got grunted at and had a heavily salivated tennis ball thrust in my hand in return, said hey to Nancy, drove to the library to pickup Snow Crash on cassette, stopped at the hardware store to get some Scott's Liquid Gold for my old guitar, got Happy, Happy's stuff and my stuff put away, and here we are, ghosts catching up...

June 16, 2008 - Nice Ride!

Damn tricycle was in my blindspot.
I really like the clock on the faring (with second hand, no less), but I'm not sure who is supposed to see it. The parking meter attendant?
Welcome to Turtle Town! The finest Ungated Turtle Community scrap lumber can provide. With all the amenities, such as the Removable Pool, the Creeping Charlie Memorial Gardens, and Sugar Maple Helicopter Ridge hiking trail.
Please, no autographs while I'm in the pool.
Ahh Minnesota, Land of 10,000 (or so) Lakes, several hundred thousand Loons, and a Ginko!

June 15, 2008

Chomp. Chomp. Munch. Munch. Bwurp. Hey, I can see my house from here!
I have a sneaking suspection that this freakish looking bird may be a baby red-winged black bird. My reasons include getting buzzed by mom & dad RWBB and remembering that RWBB's have this extremely muscular beak that works backwards of the way you expect most bird beaks to work. Because they jam their beaks into marsh reeds and cattails they need lots of muscle to pop them apart, kind of opposite of the seed-cracking birds. This young' un has got some serious attachments on the top and bottom of the beak.
Three cheers for the Red, White, and Blue!
'Cause a duck must be somebody's mother!
Eastern Kingbird shopping for bugs in the prairie department.

June 14th - Wilkie Revisited

Talk about camoflage!
Green Darner, I think. Not related to the Spiderman foe. That I know of.
12 - Spot...? One of those Spots.
Morning Cloak butterfly.
Hey, hey! This is a family show!

June 14, 2008 - Photo Hike at the Wilkie Unit

Nice DigitalNature hike at the Wilkie, amazing flowers, insects, birds, and smells abounded. I guess I made my "Pests you Love to Hate" flyer a little too convincing tho, as we were the only ones to show up. Ah well, we weren't the only living things there. You had to watch where you stepped or you could be squishing a Cecropia moth, as Sharon luckily pointed out.
Even the invasives were beautiful, as the Leafy Spurge can attest.
I had never noticed their shiny, iridescent centers that seemed to be providing nectar for appreciative ants, bees, and butterflies. "Learn something new every day, if you're not careful..." as my Dad used to say.
Fantastic dragonfly day. I don't know one species from the next, but they were all cool, and diverse. Did you know they found a dragonfly fossil in France once with a 19" wingspan?
The moths and butterflies were competing for coolness with the dragonflies. Plenty of flowers blooming for all, including Crown Vetch in this case, and tons of wild roses.
Of course we found what I came to talk about, everyones favorite scourge, the Wood (or Dog) Tick (Dermacentor variabilis). They were plentiful, as were the mosquitoes, but I wouldn't say epidemic. It was very windy and that helped keep the bugs down somewhat, but personally I see these parasites as a fact of life if you want to get to the natural world. I think we've gotten pretty spoiled with all of our spraying from helicopters, bug-repellent-impregnated clothing and the artificial habitat that we call home.
On the drive back I was thinking about the Lewis & Clark Expedition and all the natives and nomads that came before them and how they dealt with bugs. Maybe it was still the main campfire topic when the day was done, who knows?

June 12th, 2008

My green world. The morning creek scene just keeps getting more lush and green every day. The creepers reach out further from the banks and the grasses hold the morning dew for hours. Hey, wait. What's that speck coming around the bend? A dirty white hat, suntan and cheroot, could it be Humphrey B. and the African Queen? Ya gotta watch that steam valve, she sticks. Nah, it's nothing. Just the haze from last night's rain steaming off of the honeysuckle bushes. Tip your hat back down for a siesta.

June 11th, 2008

Oh! The flowers. It's Tia Peonie.
Spittle Bug got yer Salvia! Or maybe that should be saliva. Crafty leafhopper Meadow Spittlebug ya never see um Philaenus spumarius.
Unknown Captain. It appears to be a Womulan Wessel, decloaking. Mind-meld with it Spock, you've got a personality like a potted plant. Again I fail to understand your exaggerated attempts at Earth humor, Captain.

Firework! Ooooooaaahhh.
Hi Mom! I'm purple this year!

June 10, 2008

A bright spot in a rainy, cool day here in paradise. Wild roses from the bushes on our alley strip, where the little cottontail somehow eeks out a shelter between the thorns (literally and figuratively).

Rosebud! Rosebud! Don't burn the sled!

June 9th, 2008

I've heard the term "Shore Lunch" before, but this is taking it a bit far. "Nice ambience, but the service here sure is poor."

I attended a "Metro Naturalists Training" workshop at Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake, today (in the town, not the lake). We came across these cool fungi that I had never seen before called "Dead man's fingers" (Xylaria polymorpha). Fitting name. Want brain.


I love this nature's alphabet magnet wall they have. The workshop was about pre-school learning, so we got to play with a lot of kids toys. My favorite was the play-dough. Amorphous, yet salty.

Just can't get enough of those Columbine. I discovered a huge patch of it by the Falls.

June 8th, 2008

Our top story tonight, CECROPIA MOTH HATCHES AT SPRINGBROOK NATURE CENTER! Pretty cool. Actually, it's the second one in a week. Man, they have intricate patterns and shadings. It's like an oil painting. Or I should say, an oil painting is like it.

June 7th, 2008

Hey, look who was stuck to a tree along our walk home. Little Brown Bat, I believe. Not real appreciative towards the paparazzi. We weren't sure if he sucked blood from a couple too many drunks last night and ended up with a bit of a hangover, or if he just wanted to be first in line for mosquito hour.I can see where a few legends and fables could crop up around THAT face.
Monkey Pile on Charlie!!!

Seth Brundlefly, I presume? Nice goatee and red shades, not to mention pinstripes.

June 7th, 2008 - Early Edition

And on a lighter note, the Longfellow flowers are spectacular. Everything we planted last week is playing it's own solo right now, but I expect that soon the later blooms will fill in and there will be integration among the individual instruments of the orchestra. Um, so to speak.
No, it's not the runaway mine-car ride at Dizzyland, it's a try at a pull-zoom to make this four-wheeled bike supporting a family of nine look like it has some speed up. Eh.