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Showing posts from July, 2019

Lake Ann Spillway - Long Exposure Photography

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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…

Yellow Daisy 2019 - Macro Photography

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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 m…

Image 7.25.19 - Cyanotype Process

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

I…

Daisy - Macro Photography

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 eattheinvaders.org 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

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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

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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.

xoxo

a.d.


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

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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

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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…