Showing posts from 2019

A Little Town Called Rachel - with Cyanotype Image 9.16.19

Dear Henry,

I have been totally enthralled the news surrounding the "Storm Area 51" fiasco that is supposed to take place this Friday.  But only because I have been to Area 51 and Rachel Nevada and only because I can't imagine this turning out in a way other than comical.

If you haven't heard about this yet, let me fill you in. Back in June, a college student created an event on Facebook called "Storm Area 51: They Can't Stop All of Us" as a joke.  Only everyone decided to attend....right now there are currently 2 million or so people who plan on attending.  Fearing the worst, Matty Roberts (the student) began coordinating with Connie West, the owner of the Lil A'le'inn in Rachel Nevada to host a festival.

But that partnership has come to a close, with Matty Roberts now calling the party off and throwing a party in Las Vegas.  Connie West, however, is still planning on a potential party, however, just in case.

If you do decide to go to Rachel N…

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.

An Unreadable Book and Image 8.19.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

I have just heard of the most mysterious book ever made and now, I want to read it.

Trouble is, I can't. No one can.

The book is an illuminated codex called the Voynich Manuscript and it has been a mystery throughout the ages.

Carbon dating places the creation of the document somewhere between 1404-1438 but that is all anyone knows about its early life.

Although it was rumored that Emperor Rudolph II, and then Jacobus Horcicky de Tepenez, the royal gardener, owned the book. The first documented owner doesn't appear until 1639 when the alchemist Georg Baresch sent samples of the script to Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher hoping for a translation.

After Baresch's death, the book made its way to his friend Jan Marek Marci and then finally to Kircher.  The book disappeared into the Jesuit archives until 1912, when the book was sold, along with many others, to raise funds for the order.

The book was purchased by Wilfred Voynich, a rare book dealer in 1912 and that…

Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Everywhere - Boletus Tylopilus - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

This is one of the Tylopilus versions of the Bolete mushroom.  They are gorgeous, with deep purple caps and, like most boletes, are non-toxic (there is a bolete with red spores which is said to be dangerous.  They don't appear to be wide-spread and I haven't seen one).

There is, however, a huge variation in the edibility of "non-toxic".

Any bolete with a purple cap tastes awful and by awful, I mean so bitter that your tongue tingles.  You could not eat this mushroom, not even if you are starving.
Ask me how I know.

You see, once, Fish and I, armed with the "all boletes are non-toxic", picked, sauteed, and attempted to eat one. They smelled heavenly while cooking.  They taste horrific. The taste is so bad that we were afraid we had misidentified the mushroom.

I hear (unverified and unresearched) that they are a component of bitters.  I did, however, make a joke about eating one on social media and I should not have.  Anyone who tries to eat one …

Fear the Killer Parrot - Heracles Inexpectatus

Dear Henry,

This morning I found myself flying into the colorful world of parrots after I read about the discovery of a fossilized parrot skeleton found in New Zealand.

The parrot discovered, named Heracles Inexpectatus, would have been about three feet tall.

The article mentioned several times that this parrot was the size of a small child and I hadn't realized until this article that parrots were a bird to be feared.

As it turns out, parrots are considered raptors and are carnivorous.  For example, a current species of parrot in New Zealand called the kea, has been known to regularly attack and takes bites out of living sheep.

They are smart too, and like ravens, can remember, mimic, and hold a grudge.  They also have a dominant foot and can be "right or left-handed".  Parrots are monogamous and appear to mate for life, although they are difficult to study in the wild.

One of the most important things I learned about parrots is how bad it is to keep them as pets - at l…

Lighting Strikes and Plumbing Problems with Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru

Dear Henry,

There are days when it doesn't serve any purpose to read the paper.

Today seems to be one of those days.

I have learned, to my utter horror, what happens when lightning strikes a septic tank.

The effect is much worse than you have already imagined.

You see, plumbing is an excellent conductor of electricity. Plumbing that is connected to a septic tank can also contain a fair amount of methane gas. Methane gas is flammable.

And as a poor couple in Florida discovered, when lightning strikes a septic tank, not only does the septic tank explode, so does the plumbing in the house including the toilets.

Yes, yes, I think you now have a full picture of how horrific this situation is.  There are also so many puns that can be applied in this situation.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

As someone who both lives in an area of many lightning strikes and has a septic tank, my heart goes out to the Ward family.  I am also trying to figure out how to lightning proof my own tank.

I wonde…

I Wish I Were An Oscar Meyer Hot Dog - Haw Creek Falls - Long Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

There has been enough buzz about a new ice cream flavor that I thought I would, at least, look into this concoction.  It is absurd.

Oscar Mayer made a hot dog ice cream sandwich.

That just sounds bad right away, doesn't it?

Anyway, the sandwich is a shortbread-type cookie outer layer, with a "hot dog sweet cream", and pieces of candied hot dogs.  One end is dipped in a spicy mustard gelato and made to compete with the new French's Mustard Ice Cream (I am suspicious of this product too).

I can't decide if this is supposed to be a sweet dessert or a savory one, or perhaps, Oscar Mayer is trying to apply the Chinese principle of  "Five Tastes" to this dessert.

Despite my willingness to give everything a try, once, I am really struggling to put a game face on this one.

The Weiner mobile will be passing them out in New York on August 12, I think I am going to wait for the reviews to decide.

xoxo a.d.

The Sounds of Summer and Image 8.5.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

Growing up, I never got to experience the summer sounds of cicadas - they don't (at least from everything I have read) live West of the Continental Divide and while I did hear them in Colorado, I was not at all prepared for the cicada cacophony of an Ozark summer.

Now that I have lived here for a couple of years, the sounds of cicadas, like the twinkling of fireflies (also not found in the Western US) have come to represent Summer to me and I couldn't imagine a Summer without them.

In fact, despite the humidity, I love summers in Arkansas best of all.

One of my favorite times of the day is the early pre-dawn and during the Summer months (which are long and warm in Arkansas), the predawn has become a wonderful moment of meditation while sitting on the porch, watching the fireflies, and listening to the cicadas.

I am still trying to capture this magic in a photograph.

xoxo a.d.

Vampires in New England and Image 7.31.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

Did you know there were vampires in New England?

In 1990, a coffin was discovered at a gravel quarry in Griswold, Connecticut, with the initials JB and the number 55 hammered into the coffin lid with brass tacks.

The bones within the coffin were arranged, several years postmortem, into a Jolly Roger.

Intrigued by this arrangement, local archeologists started "digging" (couldn't help it) into the mystery and though historical records and DNA testing, they were able to put together his story.

JB was a man named John Barber and he had tuberculosis and oddly enough, what happened to John Barber's body wasn't all that rare.

Tuberculosis was a real problem during that period of time and was called consumption because of the wasting and draining effects of the disease.  The disease was (and still is) incredibly contagious, and because of the disease's symptoms  (paleness, blood at the corners of the mouth, a decaying smell to the breath), there was a be…

Doodling with Carl Jung and Lake Ann Spillway - Long Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

I am currently reading Carl Jung's autobiographical musing "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" and I discovered something very interesting about Dr. Jung.

He liked to doodle.

Dr. Jung began drawing during a period of struggle within his own psyche and noticed that the circular patterns he would draw resembled the mandalas of Hinduism, and adopted the phrase for his (and his patients) drawings.

Dr. Jung came to believe that the mandalas represented his "Self" at that moment and he believed that they helped rebalance the psyche.  He would continue to use this tool throughout his entire practice.

It is interesting to note, that rhythmic, repetitive, doodling seems to span all cultures.  Not only are they found in Hinduism, but mandala-like drawings are also found in the religious philosophies of Buddhism, Shintoism, and Jainism. Additionally, many of the stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts of early-Christian works also invoke the rhymic plac…

It's Close to Chinquapin & Yellow Daisy 2019 - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

Do you remember me mentioning the Ozark Chinquapin?

Last night Fish and I were wandering around the forest and we came upon these cute little shrubs.

They looked kind of like little chestnut trees.

I immediately got excited.  Not only did I find one of the Chinquapins I found four of them

We noted the location of the trees, took a couple of the nuts and a couple of leaves so that we could verify the tree type (neither one of us had our phones with us).

Of course, if it were that easy to find an Ozark Chinquapin, no one would be looking for them.

Turns out, what we found is an Ohio Buckeye and I hadn't realized that there were two species of Buckeye in Arkansas.  The Red Buckeye is the most common and is distributed in almost every corner of the state, except the Ozark region,  the Ohio Buckeye, on the other hand, only grows in the Ozark region.

While the nuts are poisonous, they do hold value - as a lucky charm.  The old saying is "You'll never find a dead ma…

Walking 500 Miles and Image 7.25.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

I have just heard about the most fun/coolest service project.

Medi Bastoni, from Dono, Indonesia, is currently walking 500 miles across Indonesia to raise awareness for forest preservation.

And he is walking these 500 miles backward.

Using a rearview mirror, Mr. Bastoni hopes to make it to the State Palace in Jakarta in time for the countries Independence Day celebrations on August 17th.

While at the celebration, Mr. Bastoni hopes to garner the support and attention from Indonesian president, Joko Widodo and also hopes that President Widodo will also supply a symbolic seed to be planted at the base of Mount Wilis, which is currently undergoing a reforestation project to restore the mountain after long term deforestation and fires have decimated the trees there.

Mr. Bastoni chose to walk backward because he is "looking back" at the heroes who have fought for the Indonesian people and to look back upon all of the good works President Widodo has already accomplishe…

Norwood Falls - Long Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

Do you like ice cream sundaes?  Have you ever wondered how they came about?

The first advertisement to the first-ever ice cream sundae, leads to an ad in the Ithica Daily Journal on October 5, 1892, offering an "Ice Cream Sunday". 

However, there are two different "First Sundae" stories.

One "First Sundae" claim happened in 1881, in Two Rivers Wisconsin.  Druggist Edward Barnes received an order for a (forbidden) ice cream soda on a Sunday. In the spirit of good customer service, Mr. Barnes instead served the ice cream (sans soda) in a dish drizzled with chocolate syrup.  It is important to note that in 1881, Mr. Barnes would have been a mere 18 and quite young to have been trained as a druggist, but, still, it could be possible.

Ithica New York's "First Sundae" happened in 1892 when  Reverand John Scott ordered a dish of ice cream after church.  Chester Platt, the owner of the Platt & Colt Pharmacy, went the extra mile for …

Blue Lotus - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

I read some good news about the California Condor.  This year, the 1000th chick hatched.

While I knew about the wildfire started by Johnny Cash which almost drove the critically endangered birds to extinction,  I didn't know what caused the population of the birds to decline in the first place.

It turns out that the biggest nemesis for vultures and other raptors isn't urban spread or DDT but lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning is affecting more than just the condors and other vultures.  All raptors (including the Bald Eagle) are struggling with lead toxicity.

Because the birds are carrion eaters and opportunistic feeders, they eat everything, including the remains left over by hunters and that is where the problem is.

The pellets from shotgun shells are toxic to birds of all kinds and when raptors feed on these carcasses they begin to suffer and die from lead toxicity.

The easiest solution would be to eliminate the use of lead pellets in shotgun shells, however, so far…

Norwood Base Cascade - Long -Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

I am in search of a tree called the Chinquapin.

The Ozark Chinquapin - Latin name Castanea Ozarkenis, is a hardwood tree similar to the Chesnut and was once, a majestic tree,  growing up to 65 feet tall and was an absurdly productive nut producer.

Unfortunately, the Ozark Chinquapin was susceptible to the Chestnut blight, Cryphonectria Parasitica that been killing the American Chesnut tree since 1904. 

When the fungus reached the Ozarks in the 1960s, it only took a decade to wipe out almost the tree population and now, no one even remembers the tree at all.

There is a foundation, the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, which has been working tirelessly to bring back the tree, through a seed program.  They have also, along with Hobbs State Park, are encouraging hikers, nature photographers, and others to keep their eyes open for any living trees, especially healthy ones. 

I think I will be ordering some seeds and I am excited about my next hiking/photography outing.  I love a goo…

Purple Dahlia 2019 - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

Do you know who the first person who flew around the world was?

Did you think it was Charles Lindbergh? Yeah, me too.

Charles Lindbergh was such a larger than life character that it is easy to attribute all acts of early aviation to him.  But this honor isn't his.

The first aviator to circle the world was actually Wiley Post, he completed the journey in 7 days 18 hours and 49 minutes, landing in New York on July 22, 1933.

Wiley Post, like Charles Lindbergh, was himself a larger than life character.  He was born in 1898 to cotton farming parents and he initially tried to enter the aviation program during WWI but the war ending before his training was complete.  He then, briefly, drifted through the professions of roughnecking and bank robbery (for which he served a year in the Oklahoma State Prison systems).

When an oil rigging accident caused the loss of his left eye, he used the settlement money to buy an airplane. Ultimately, Wiley Post caught his big, professional,…

Black Dahlia 2019 - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

Last Spring, in a sale bin, I found three tubers in a baggie with "Dahlias - 3.00" written on it in magic marker.

I figured why not?

They were all different, one of the tubers grew to a purple one with stripes, one was a fluffy yellow, and one was a black.

All three were beautiful but I particularly loved the black, however last Fall, after pulling the tubers for the Winter, I noticed one of them had mildewed.

I thought it was the black dahlia and I was very sad.

After what has been a particularly wet Spring and early Summer, the dahlias are finally blooming and to my surprise, there was my black.  It was my fluffy yellow one that mildewed.

(*Side note - I feel like I am maligning the yellow dahlia or implying that it wasn't a worthy flower.  Not at all, it was lovely and I wish I could have gotten a picture that did it justice.  I seem to struggle with photographing that color of yellow.)

Once, years ago, there was a woman in the neighborhood who grew dahli…

Image 7.16.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

How do you want your name to be remembered for posterity? As an artist?  As a politician?

As an inventor?

Are you sure?  Because sometimes, inventions aren't all that great and because sometimes, your inventions are something everyone loves to hate.

Let's take Carl C. Magee for example. 

Mr. Magee was a New Mexican journalist who first founded the Magee Independent in 1922 (which would become the New Mexico State Tribune and then the Alburquerque Tribune) where he broke the news of the Teapot Dome Scandal.

Later, when accosted by a judge who he had accused of corruption, he retaliated by drawing a pistol and killing a bystander.  He was later acquitted of manslaughter. 

Moving on to Oklahoma City, Carl Magee founded the Oklahoma News.

He isn't known, really, for any of this. He is known for the invention that follows.

When Mr. Magee founded his Oklahoma City newspaper, he also joined the Chamber of Commerce.  There, he was tasked to create a solution to the con…

Eggs - Nature Photography

Dear Henry,

Fish is really good at I SPY and his latest find was really cool.

While weeding the flowerbed next to the mailbox, he had moved one of the boundary stones and discovered a nest of Five-Lined Skink eggs.

We have a few of these little lizards living around our house.  They are great bug catchers and are rather cute.

Like the wren experience, finding the skink nest changed many of the preconceptions I had about lizards.

For example. skinks tend to their eggs.

I had always thought that all reptiles laid eggs and then abandoned them.  They don't - or at least skinks don't - mom was sitting with her eggs when Fish moved the edging stone.

It is considered to be one of the most common lizards in the US, although you probably won't find it in the West because it loves humidity.  In Arkansas, they are everywhere, although I am reading reports that they are threatened in Connecticut. 

They aren't very big, about 5 inches with the tail and can live about six years.

I …

Garrett's Sunset - Landscape Photography

Dear Henry,

What are your weekend plans?

I have been watching the weather forecast and have concluded that we won't be doing much.

It can get very hot and muggy here and this weekend (Saturday in particular) looks to be especially so.

The humidity has been one of the hardest things to get used to in the South and one of the things I truly miss about living in the West is the ability to run to the high Rockies and the perennial snowfields when the Summer heat becomes oppressive.

I Googled humidity, the heat index, and the whole mathematical formula, hoping to find an easy way to calculate (and share) the heat index versus temperature.  There isn't one.  The best I can offer you is the rule of thumb that anything more than 55% humidity will begin to be unpleasant.

There is, however, a handy-dandy calculator and chart provided the National Weather Service - this chart allows you to quickly figure out how the temperature will feel.

This Saturday it is expected to feel like 102.


Daisy - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

I think I have mentioned that I want to do a "Great American Road-Trip" before, and still, despite the logistical challenges, plan to take one.

While I was thinking about (pre-planning?) my road trip, I wondered where the idea of a cross American road trip originally came from.

It turns out, the first American road trip was done in 1919 by the U.S. Army.

It began as a post-WWI project for the military - imagine if you will, a bunch of soldiers, fresh from Europe, and with nothing to do.  Conquering the roads of America was the perfect project.

The operation, the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy was a convoy of about 100 vehicles (including a tank!) that left the White House on July 7, 1919, and headed toward the Presidio, in San Fransico California.

The convoy made it to the outskirts of D.C. before suffering the first of its many mechanical issues.

On a lark, a young Lieutenant Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower decided joined the convoy in Maryland.

The co…

Image 7.9.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

The other day I did something absolutely silly - I read the results of the area restaurant inspections in the local paper.

I will never do that again.

So horrified am I that I added it to my "List of Things You Should Never Do".

So far, this list is as follows:

1. Never argue with people who know better (or think they know better) than you, it's stupid.

2. Never drink and drive.

3. Never reveal secrets.

4. Never talk badly about people, including yourself.

5. Never break your promises.

6. Never eat gas station tuna sandwiches.

7. Never cut your own hair

8. Never ask someone when they are due.

9. Never read the results of the local restaurant inspections.

What is your list?

xoxo a.d.

Wailuku River - Long Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

The new technological developments never cease to amaze me (particularly those related to digital imaging), and, because this development could open up an entire library of books, I am doubly excited about it.

As you probably know, very little ancient literature survives and much of what we do know about those ancient books (er, scrolls) have generally come from referrals to them or quotes from those documents in more recent written (but still old) books.

I think almost every reader, book lover, and historian mournes the loss of the Alexandria library and the estimated 700,000 books that were lost in its burning (at least I do), there is however another, much, much, smaller, ancient library that has the potential of being recovered.

With the ruins of Herculaneum were found about 400 scrolls, tightly wound and covered with ash from the Vesuvius eruption of 79 and now, with the development of high-resolution CT scans and a software tool that digitally unwrap the scrolls,  i…

Sunflowers - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

I am sure that by now you have seen the photo of the lines getting to the summit of Mount Everest. 

Part of this congestion is caused by the lack of routes to the summit, while there are currently 20 named routes to the top, only two are feasible for the guides and widespread use.

Those two, especially in recent years, as mountaineering has become more popular, have seen heavy traffic.

Two guides, Cory Richards and Esteban "Topo" Mena are trying to ease some of that congestion.  They are creating a new route to the summit.

The process, due to the narrow climbing window and the difficulty of the undertaking, it may take several years for the route to be established.  The process is painstaking, slow, and quite dangerous. When it does, it will hopefully ease up the traffic jams to the summit.

As a side note, I noticed that Topo Mena worked as a guide for Alpenglow Expeditions, an expedition company that does NOT use supplemental oxygen for their Mount Everest exp…

Coneflowers - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

Have you ever heard of the green iguana?  A common reptile in Central and South America it has now become an invasive species in the Carribean, Puerto Rico, and Florida.

In Florida, the iguana problem is especially bad.

The green iguana lacks a natural predator in Florida and their population has exploded.  Their burrowing nests will undermine sidewalks, building foundations, and roadways.  They grow up to six feet long and they poo everywhere.

Florida has declared them a nuisance and is encouraging homeowners to eradicate any they find.

To help encourage Floridians to take part in the widespread culling of the iguana, it's culinary capabilities are being publicized.

Apparently, iguana tastes like chicken. (What doesn't taste like chicken?)

A quick internet search brought up a bunch of recipes - from an Iguana Pazole found on to Guyana's Iguana Stew and it appears that any chicken recipe could be easily adapted.

I like the exploration into d…

Section of Natural Dam - Long Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

The other day I was reading about the secret to longevity and appears that laughter really is the best medicine.

According to doctors, the effects of laughter are largely due to the reduction of cortisol, the stress hormone.   They say that it can help prevent heart disease and/or high blood pressure related ailments and will improve the quality of life when coupled with serious long term illnesses like cancer. 

There is also strong evidence that laughter helps during a person end of life and that we should, in fact, be placing whoopie cushions around hospice centers, rather than speaking in hushed tones and with tears.

I personally suspect that laughter (particularly the big, deep, belly laughs) also allows you to breathe deeply and "flush out your lungs, much the same way high-intensity exercise does.

If you need further evidence of laughter's life-extending effects may I suggest browsing the ages of some of our favorite comedians?  (The * means they are no lon…

Image 7.2.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

The other day Fish found wild blackberries and everyone suggested we make a cobbler with them.

Of course, we had eaten them long before I could make anything with them but I caught the cobbler bug from all of the suggestions.

The problem with baking though is it is just Fish and me, most of the time and the only recipe I have for cobbler makes a large dish for ten to twelve.

I played around with my recipe and I think I have got it - a fruit cobbler for two.



Fruit Cobbler for two

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together for the filling:
2 cups berries/cherries (I used a mix of both)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
(you may want to add a teaspoon of lemon juice if you are using really sweet berries)

Add berries to a small, buttered, casserole dish (or small pyrex bowl)

Then mix together for the crust:
1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tea baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg

Drop the crust mixture over the berries and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Orchids in Purple - Macro Photography

Dear Henry,

Happy Independence Day!

No really, it should be today.

The Continental Congress began seriously discussing independence in May of 1776 - more than a year after the first armed resistance to the British crown - and in June 1776 the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence was being written and discussed.

The Declaration of Independence was put before the Continental Congress for debate on June 28, 1776, and on July 2, 1776, the resolution to adopt the Declaration was passed with an almost unanimous vote - the New York colony representatives abstained.

John Adams was sure, according to the letter he had written home, that July 2, 1776, would go down in history as the monumental day of independence, instead, it was July 4, 1776, the date when Thomas Jefferson finished the final edits on the document.

Another potential "Independence" day could also be July 6, 1776, the first time the document was read to the public, or perhaps we could celebrate August 2, 1776…

"My" Wrens - Nature Photography

Dear Henry,

I have a family of wrens living in one of my strawberry planters.

Several months ago, the wrens had moved into an old barbeque grill that we had on the deck. We bought a new one last fall but we hadn't considered moving the old one until this spring,  we discovered had waited too long.

Fish found the nest during the spring cleaning and pressure washing of the deck, and although we decided to leave the grill where it was until the babies had left the nest, the event proved to be too much for the birds and Fish and I received our first ever wren lesson.

Wrens can move their babies.

I discovered this a couple of days later when I noticed a birds nest in my empty strawberry planters and I recognized the birds from the barbeque grill.

I don't know how they managed it.

Their new nest is in the strawberry planter directly in front of my "morning coffee and paper on the porch" chair and over the last couple of months, they have finally gotten to where they trust…

Image 6.28.19 - Cyanotype Process

Dear Henry,

In September a curious science mission will begin.

This fall, a German icebreaker named Polarstern will leave Norway, filled will 600 researchers and other personnel, and position itself deep into the Arctic and allow itself to freeze into the polar ice.

For the next year, researchers will be "adrift" amongst the currents of the sea ice.

The study is called MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) and is a 17 country collaboration and will contain multiple scientific studies.

The goal is to try and pinpoint the cause, the true rate, and, hopefully, a way to correct the reduction in Arctic ice. The study also looks to put in place a monitoring system, so that future studies will not require such an extreme study again.

While I can't imagine how difficult it is going to be, cramped on a boat and freezing, I can imagine their discoveries are going to be thrilling.

I can hardly wait for the updates - and the pictures.

xoxo …

Fairy Falls - Long Exposure Photography

Dear Henry,

Do you find the world a kind place?

I get that it can be hard finding the kindness in the world, particularly during morning rush hour traffic, but really, the world is a kind place.

There was a study just recently done by Swiss university students where they left spare keys, wallets, and other necessary items lying around 355 cities across the world.

More often than not, the items were returned.

What was notable to me was that the larger the amount of money, or the more crucial the document found (eg passport) the more likely the item would be returned.

And there wasn't one particular city or place more (or less) likely than another to return the money.  Across the board, we (as a species) try to do the right thing.

Now, if we (as a species) could just get the zipper merge worked out.

xoxo a.d.

The NW Arkansas Travel Guide - Travel Photography

Dear Henry,

My cousins are safely back home and it has been such a fun adventure. I mean, how often do you get to explore your hometown like a tourist? 

I am grateful they came to visit and trusted me enough to allow me to plan a trip for them. I would like to call the trip a success as they seemed to have a good time (I hope they weren't lying). 

So here it is, a Take the Back Roads Ultimate Northwest Arkansas Destination Guide*
 *(according to me)

Day One: Eureka Springs Arkansas
Eureka Springs Arkansas is a quaint town nestled in the Ozarks. It became most known, during the early 1900s, as a mountainous spa and resort town.  Many of the oldest buildings have been maintained and the entire area is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Our first stop on our tour of  Eureka Springs was the Thorncrown Chapel. The chapel was commissioned in the 1980s by Jim Reed as a pilgrimage chapel. It was designed by E. Fay Jones. The design gives an open-air feel to the structure and it a…