Archive for February, 2014

Orb Delights in Painting

Catalpa Seeds

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The clusters of 16-18 inch long seedpods

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  are quite noticeable on the catalpa tree.

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Wind disperses the thin, flat seeds. The lower seed flapped in the wind as I took pictures.

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The seeds stayed together in pods slow to open.

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Reluctant to turn loose and fly?

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I went out in the evening to take orb pictures, like I do a few times a week.

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The moon was three days from full and “hung” above the catalpa.

Ice and Sleet

Ice severely curtailed my activities. Even walking in the yard was a challenge.

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Temperatures remained in the teens.

Apparently, enough ice formed in the cup-shaped leaf’, that it then held the weight of additional freezing rain and sleet.

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The crystalline designs fascinated me.

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Ice covered the leaves in the magnolia tree. Then the weight of it bent the trunks of the young tree,

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resulting in sideways positioned icicles.

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Ice remained on leaves of one side of the magnolia tree and was off on the other side. Many of the leaves without ice had turned brown.

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The driveway and short hill down to the highway show little sign of melting.

So, here I stay.

An Upside Down World

A heavy rain fell last weekend — a welcome change from all the recent frigid weather? I hoped the rain would continue so I could get pictures of water drops hanging on twigs. It didn’t.

Water drops and ice,  both reflect their surroundings upside down.

These ice pictures were taken in 2008.

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Each “bulge” shows the snow, the brown of the shrub border around our backyard, and the clouds in the blue sky.

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The red on the left is the reflection of our barn.

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These globes show the snow-covered ground with a tree, a pine tree, the shrubby border and on up into the sky.

All this leads to a memory of when I stood in the barrens (a grassy plant community), drawing the inverted grassy landscape in a drop of rain hanging from the tip of a leaf. After I finished, I turned around, started walking, and there, a ways in front of me, was the tail end of a timber rattlesnake sneaking away from me. It disappeared into the little bluestem grass. I agreed to let it have the interior barrens, and I’d explore the one by the road.

My only other rattlesnake memory was considerably more unsettling. I was also hiking at my rural property and was at the edge of a mossy area where a tiny ladies tresses orchid grew. I didn’t see any, so I turned to head back to the truck. I hadn’t gone far when rattlesnake rattled at me! I froze. I looked and looked and couldn’t find it. So I started walking and immediately heard another rattle. I stopped. Still couldn’t find it. So I walked on back to the truck. No more rattling.

A few weeks later, it hit me that my hearing is backwards. I hear from the opposite direction than the sound’s coming from.

I was hearing the rattler from in front of me, when it was actually behind me!

A friend of mine was skeptical of my backwards hearing, until one day when we were on a Christmas bird count. There were 5 of us in my party. They all turned to the right when we heard a crow call. I turned to the left. My friend finally believed I have backwards hearing.

Obviously, the rattlesnake memories still remain vivid after 20 or so years.

My mind went from a drop of water, to drawing, to rattlesnake encounters because of the rain … my mind works in mysterious ways.

Backyard Hooting!

It’s been years since I’ve sat and listened to young owls hooting.

Tonight … in my yard … were 3 young great horned owls hooting! This was a rare occurrence.

Barred owls are one of my absolute favorite things.

I must apologize for the quality of these two barred owlet pictures. They were taken about 15 years ago in the woods across from my rural property. The only way I could get them in the blog was to take pictures of the pictures in my computer. They are the only owl pictures I have (plus others taken then).

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The nest was in a dead tree with the top broken off. There were 3 owlets.

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I set up a pup tent for a blind. I could also watch them from the road in my blazer, with my spotting scope mounted on the window. I even watched an adult twice bring a snake. When the owlets climbed to the top of the broken tree, there was no place to go but down. They all survived. I heard them in the vicinity for a few weeks.

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Buffy and I tent camped one night with a full moon (not connected to the above story). The owl family started hooting. They were all around us. Buffy just sat there, looking out the tent (had rain flap off and all windows open). We sat there, side by side, listening to the owl conversation around us. The young ones didn’t have the rhythm or volume right. It was such a special time!

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I took this picture of the waxing moon before I came in the house. I didn’t want to hurt its feelings by spending all my time concentrating on the owls.

Favorite Rocks

I was looking around the house the other day and realized I have favorite rocks that have been favorites for years.

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It’s a tad difficult to see its features in this picture. This is my owl pocket rock.

My youngest son is 33 years old. I found this rock when I had him and a friend of his on the west side of southern Illinois, checking out a lake for camping and fishing. Davis was probably in 5th or 6th grade. The rock was below the spillway.

Owls, especially barred owls, are one of my top favorites. It makes this rock even more special.

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“Sacred geometry” immediately came to mind when I saw this rock. It measures 3 1/4 inches long.

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For some reason I always think “universe” when I look at this rock. The spiral measures 5/8 inch in diameter. Part of a crinoid fossil is just to the right of the spiral. I found it in river gravel.

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This rock takes a little imagination. To me, if rotated to more of a profile, it looks like the head of an eagle. It is a fossilized coral, also from the river gravel.

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I couldn’t pass up this fossil design. The flat rock measures 2 inches tall.

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This rock had to have a human influence to produce this shape. It measures 1 1/8 inches wide and 3/4 at the tallest. I found this one in the river gravel too.

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I laugh every time I see this stone person. It stays on the window sill over my kitchen sink. I’m not sure, I’ve had it so long, but I think I found it in a dry creek bed.

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Petrified wood has always been a favorite — how could it be preserved long enough to become fossilized! This one is part of a good-sized collection of petrified wood from Montana. My mother took me on 3 trips to Montana rock hunting. We had an outfitter, did float trips down the Yellowstone River and day trips to various remote areas. Our outfitter, a man, cooked a four-course lunch, served us, and cleaned up afterward. Need I say more?

(After my two daughters left for college and I still had to boys at home. I realized I was the only female in the house. That made me the queen, and the queen believes treating the queen like a queen — my royalty philosophy.)

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This is my only mounted fish. I’m not a fisherman. The fish is actually yellow ochre, which is a bi-product of iron. I laid it down for the picture.  It’s 2 1/4 inches tall and stands on the shelf over my computer.

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Fluorspar used to be mined in southern Illinois. I was in girl scouts at a child (and leader as an adult). I was picked as one of the 28 girls from our council to attend the Girl Scout Roundup in northern Idaho when I was 16. Scouts also came to it from many other countries too.

Each unit had to take an item to swap. We decided to make bracelet charms with a the octrahedrons. Miners collected the right spar for the cutting. I got to cut them all. I sat in the basement, had reversed pyramids of several sized cut in an old cutting board. Then it was a matter of cutting off the 3 corners, turning it over and making one more cut. The “cut” was a matter of placing a heavy kitchen knife where wanted to cut and hitting it with a hammer.  The one in the picture was one of the few large ones I was able to cut. It measures roughly an inch from point to edge.

It’s also on the shelf over the computer.

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My yoga teacher (a long time ago) took me to a yoga workshop in Arkansas. We stopped at a bead shop where I bought this green turquoise bead. It has an “earth” feel to it.

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This flint isn’t exactly one of my favorite rocks (yet). I found it last year on a hike up on Eagle Mountain (a ridge of hills). Apparently someone/someones found a cache of artifacts and had dumped them out to sort through their find. I gathered up all the chips and tossed them in the woods on our drive off the mountain. The area is known for native American use.

This chip was in the remains they left behind. We don’t have pink flint that I know of in Illinois. Not to mention this piece also has fossils in it. The “donut” shape is a crinoid,  a disc from the stem of a sea lily.