Barbed Wire - A Cure for Depression with Image 9.9.19

Dear Henry,

Would you believe me if I told you that barbed wire once cured depression?


Maybe I should explain.

Prior to 1874, when Joseph F. Glidden patented barbed wired it was difficult to corral livestock (there was a previous patent held by Lucien B. Smith which inspired Mr. Glidden, but it wasn't commercially available until after 1874). 

Wood and/or rock fencing was prohibitively expensive (both in cost and in labor hours) and living fences (like India's giant hedgerow) were too challenging to maintain over large areas for the average small rancher and couldn't contain a herd of cows anyway.

Barbed wired changed that completely, it was very cheap to buy and very easy to set up and. most importantly, very good at containing cows.  The importance of barbed wire to the United States westward expansion and to the development of agricultural strength can not be understated.

However, as people began to move into the far reaches of the West, settlers were plagued by lo…

HMS Terror with Image 9.4.19 - a Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

Today I fell into the rabbit hole of arctic explorations, the tale of HMS Terror, in particular.

You would think that with a name like "Terror" the boat would have been doomed from the beginning, but she has turned out to be a stout little ship.

Built for the British Royal Navy in 1813, HMS Terror participated in the War of 1812 naval Battle of Baltimore and in the Bombardment of Fort McHenry (we shall forgive her for this).

She was later outfitted as a polar expedition ship and successfully participated in George Back's Arctic Expedition of 1836-1837 and The Ross Expedition of 1839 -1843. 

It was during Sir John Franklin's attempt to clear the Northwest Passage that she was lost. She left England, along with HMS Erebus, in 1845 and then, nothing.

There have been many expeditions looking for the both of the boats and the crew, the first occurring in 1848 (at the strong urging of the Lady John Franklin) and again in 1850 a large expedition, consisting of …

A Flock of Flamingos

Dear Henry,

Today I read what a flock of flamingos is called and fell in love with the term.

Of course, it also reminded me of my favorite flamingo - Flamingo 492 - the Kansas flamingo that broke out in 2005 and has haunted the Gulf Coast ever since.

While I applaud the bird's bid for freedom, I wonder if it's lonely. 

492 (a South-African flamingo) has been known to associate with a flock of the Gulf Coast Carribean flamingos but doesn't remain with them always.  It has just as often been seen alone (and as far north as Wisconsin).

Flamingos are such social birds, with colonies that can number in the thousands.  The birds like to form couples as well, oftentimes mating for life and I can't help but wonder if this poor flamingo is lonely.

In any case, the bird has struck a chord with me and I am always on the lookout for new sitings and information about it. 

I think its story would make a good children's book.

xoxo a.d.

Bird in the Window

Dear Henry,

The recent storm we have had has caused havoc with the area birds.

With so many trees down, many have found themselves homeless and searching for new places to live.

For example, a wren (formally of the strawberry planter, I think) briefly thought about moving into our bathroom.

I say briefly because, as you may remember Henry, I have three cats.

Fortunately, my girls are far too chubby to be great hunters and I found the bird before anything bad could happen.

The next ten minutes or so was quite the adventure, as I, standing in my bathtub, attempted to open the window next to the bird and quickly remove the screen (snort, screens never come of windows easily), all without any fatalities.

It was very loud.

Ziggy, attracted by the yowling of the girls and the squawking of the bird, added his own brand of mischief by encroaching into the girl's space, sandwiching them between the bird and himself, and then barking at them all.

It seemed like an eternity before I got the…

Paddling the Pacific and Image 8.28.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

How long do you think it would take someone to paddle across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii?

I don't know about you or me but it only took Antonio de la Rosa about 76 days.

A Spanish endurance athlete, Mr. de la Rosa created a modified, custom-built stand-up paddleboard named the Ocean Defender that he used to make the journey.

This isn't your everyday SUP. The Ocean Defender is a prototype vessel that is 24 feet long, with an open middle deck and a 65-pound central fin that keeps the craft stable.   The back of the craft is enclosed for sleeping and for gear storage, while the front of the craft houses a state of the art electrical system and a GPS system.  The entire vessel is very cool and looks like something Captain Nemo would design.

In a completely unsupported journey, Mr. de la Rosa paddled about 10 hours a day and survived on dehydrated food and the occasional fish, and while he was able to get some sleep every night, he had to wake hourly t…

Abyssian in the Rain and All About Ticks.

Dear Henry,

Over the weekend one of my mystery bulbs bloomed - it turns out they were abyssian flowers and then it rained and I was able to get a gorgeous macro photograph.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that I have had the opportunity to do an in-depth study of ticks this weekend.

Normally, I like to learn but really, ticks?

It seems ticks have been the bane of the earth since the beginning of time.  They even fed on dinosaurs.

They only serve two functions on this planet - as a food source (guinea hens and opossums love them) and as a form of population control, because ticks are great disease vectors. According to the CDC, ticks can transmit at least 16 different types of "bugs" (bacteria/virus/parasite) and while most of these bugs will cause symptoms resembling the flu, there are a couple versions of rickettsioses - Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most famous - that can be fatal.  The bacteria transmitted by tick bites is also responsible for the chronic il…

Catch a Falling Star W/ Devil's Canyon - Landscape Photography

Dear Henry,

A couple of weeks ago, while trying (and failing) to photograph the Perseid meteor shower, I saw the hugest meteor ever, like it was almost close enough to touch, huge.

It was beautiful and stunning and I didn't even think to try and photograph it (plus the camera was facing the other direction).

Anyway, I was sure it landed close by or at least sprinkled meteor dust everywhere and I wondered how hard it was to find a meteor.

Turning to Google, it turns out, finding a meteor is pretty hard. According to the Meteoritical Society, there have only been about 1,800 found since 1807. That is a very daunting statistic, so never mind, I won't be looking for any.

Poking around further into all things meteor, I discovered the American Meteor Society website, which has a great many resources on the timing and peak dates of these showers.

They also collect information on fireballs, which is apparently what I saw - on August 11th.

I feel very scientific now.

xoxo a.d.