Monthly Archives: April 2009

Happy Spring!

A collage of blooming apple trees (and visiting bees) in my neighborhood.

Here's a collage of blooming apple trees (and visiting bees) in my neighborhood. (I originally designed this as a card, but I'm recycling it here.) If only I could insert the fragrance. (Blog-aroma!) It's intoxicating!

Spring officially arrived more than a month ago, but we’re just now getting lovely weather. (We did have one nice day here and there before.) The petals are already falling from the apple trees, but I’m looking forward to a succession of cheerful blooms.   Magnolia, lilac, peonies, iris, lilies…..

Moxey of Middleground explains how spring fever affects many of us in Sometimes My Train of Thought Gets Totally Derailed.  Paula of Locks Park Farm across the pond is side-tracked by the gorgeous spring weather in Devon.  Check out the photos of her adorable new puppy, which she carries in a backpack in Playing Truant.

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Filed under Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Personal, Photography, Random

Frugalista

Children grow so quickly that there was always a market for their "gently worn" clothing.  Now more and more women are buying "vintage" clothing for themselves.  Photo by Cathy Sherman.

Children grow so quickly that there was always a market for their "gently worn" clothing. Now more and more women are buying "vintage" clothing for themselves. This is a Kansas City consignment store, which recently underwent a major renovation and expansion. Business is brisk!

Being frugal is cool these days.  I like the new name — frugalistas, people who are experts at finding frugal ways to enjoy life.  Becoming or remaining debt-free is one of their top goals. (See link below.)

I was born a coupon clipper and a recycler.  There’s a photo of me as an infant with a pair of scissors (blunt, of course) with the caption “Cathy’s first tool”.  OK, I’m just kidding about the photo….. (I did recycle the photo above from my post on consignment stores.)

Couponing and shopping at sales are two obvious ways to save, but only if you buy items or meals you need. (Yes, need is a vague term, which is why our houses are full of stuff we thought we “needed”. )   These days, the half-life of a coupon seems to be about ten days, so some of the joy is gone.  What happened to “No expiration date”?  Of course, companies don’t last that long any more, either.  Being a frugalista is much more than coupon clipping, though.  It’s an attitude. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy life. You don’t need as much as you think.  Sometimes, it’s a decision not to buy something or to find a different, cheaper way to do something you enjoy. 

  • Check out books and movies from the library.  Yes, it means you won’t have a clue about this year’s Academy Awards nominees, since you’ll still be catching up on last year’s.  But so what?  We haven’t rented dvds in years, but I have bought a few dvds that I want to keep. (More on those dvds in a later post, probably entitled “Shameless Promotion”.)
  • Walk in the park.  Kansas City has more than a two hundred miles of walking trails in stream-side parks with lots of access, so that’s easy for us.  You can be a bird-watcher, cheap entertainment.
  • I save the newspaper plastic sleeve and use it to clean out the cat box.  (There’s no way you can make this fun, sorry.)   Plastic grocery bags, if you’re still getting those, can line trash cans, but everyone knows that!
  • Consignment stores.  I’ve bought some great stuff there and sold some stuff, too.

    I'd be lost without my scissors. I have ten pairs, so a pair will always be near.

    I'd be lost without my scissors. I have ten pairs, so a pair will always be near.

  • Garage sales. Yeah, I know, it’s pain in posterior, if you conduct one yourself.  However, sometimes it’s the only way to clear out your house.  You can donate your stuff to charities, which is good, too, but a lot of that stuff gets dumped, unfortunately, because charities don’t have the resources to sort, display, store and distribute the zillions of tons of donated stuff.  When someone invests a dollar for an item in your garage sale, they might actually use it.   There’s also www.freecycle.org  Conversely, you can get some great stuff at garage sales. We’re working on putting together a garage sale right now, because our neighborhood and several others around us are having one May 1-2.  I’m going to try to enjoy it.
  • Eat at home, including making your own espresso and lattes.  I tried giving up coffee, mostly to avoid caffeine withdrawal in the morning, but I just couldn’t do it. I have a cheap machine, but I’m not picky about my foam, which is a good thing because the foamer is clogged. I order my coffee  in bricks by the case from www.cafebustelo.com  with free shipping in the U.S. on orders over $50. I order six months’ worth of ground coffee.  I’m not hung up on grinding it myself. I’m happy if it’s strong and full of caffeine.
  • Since recycling is the theme this week of Earth Day, I’m recycling another blog of a young frugalista from Kansas City who explains how she does it.  She also has other great frugalistas on her blogroll.  Carrie on the Cheap, a young frugalista.

I’m recycling this blog post of mine because I forgot to put tags on it the first time around, Coffee, the Miracle Drink. I’m sure it’s still steaming hot, ha, ha.

 “Austere Times? Perfect” — Article from the New York Times on Frugalistas.

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Filed under Bird-watching, Books, Conservation, Drink, Entertainment, Environment, Food, Howto, Humor, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Money, Personal, Random, Shopping

Earth Day 2009

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Coneflower Postcard
This black swallowtail butterfly visited my garden.  Now he’s featured in my Zazzle store.

 This is one of my first posts on this blog, first published April 19, 2008.  I’m re-cycling it, in honor of Earth Day on April 22.   It is still a good, somewhat patched-up, usable post with some wear left, I hope. 

The economic meltdown since I wrote this has focused more attention on cutting back, recycling, making-do, re-using, etc., but we’re still nowhere close to the same frugality the Depression-Era and World-War II Era citizens made such an integral part of their lives, even after prosperity returned.

On the first Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 1970, I slipped out of my house at 4 a.m. and hurried to the next street where my good friend Kathy Dawson was waiting for me at her kitchen door.  It was chilly.  Rather than dress sensibly, we were  in our school uniforms — navy blue wool blazers, skirts and knee socks – as we began our thirteen-mile trek to our high school, Mt. Carmel Academy, a Catholic girls’ school where we were seniors. (There was a much closer high school within walking distance that we could have attended.)  We soon left the comfort of Derby’s streetlights, crossing into the darkness of fields and pastures.  We trudged in the ditch along Rock Road, passing the chain-link fences of McConnell Air Force Base.  We picked up our pace as we reached Eastgate Shopping Center in Wichita.  Traffic was getting heavier.  There was nowhere to walk.

What were we thinking?  This was no fun.  Four hours after starting, we finally reached school just as the first bell rang.  We hustled to our desks, exhausted, rumpled and relieved.  We wanted to save gasoline for just one day to show our concern for the environment, although we did catch a ride home with our regular carpool.   We knew how limited our lives would be without cars and how our lives were not set up for walking or biking, but we were already living fairly frugal lives because of the way we were raised.  The following is an off-the-rack standard issue lament about consumerism. If I were you, I’d just go outside right now and enjoy nature!

Our parents lived through the Depression and World War II rationing.  Frugality was second nature to them.  They slowly and cautiously accumulated the comforts of technology and abundance.  The baby boomers left that caution and frugality behind.  On average, we had smaller families, but built bigger homes with all of the trimmings.  Our expectations grew.  We sought frequent vacations far more exotic than those old driving trips to Grandma’s house.  Cheap energy, an explosion in innovation and far-off labor created thousands of new gadgets that soon became a necessity — we recorded our children’s every move, cell phones for everyone, televisions with a hundred channels in almost every room.  Computers gave us instant access to the world.  Food arrived from all over the globe in every season.  Will we change?  We don’t even know how to do to make much of a difference. (See the link to “Why Bother?” below.)  It’s possible, but it won’t be easy.

We have to get back to the spirit of the first Earth Day.  Appreciating the simple.  Understanding the long-term consequences of our choices.  Acknowledging and respecting what the earth gives to us. It’s the only planet we have. Since I wrote this, I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand, which I know makes me sound like a hypocrite, because that took a lot of energy and resources.  Do I wish I hadn’t gone.  No!  Do I feel guilty? Yes.  Would I like to do it again?  Yes, but I probably won’t because it’s expensive. I do try to enjoy what I have right here at home — most of the time.

Will I walk again rather drive to my destination on Earth Day this year?  Unlikely.  I live in suburbia, at least a couple of miles from everywhere I usually visit.   I’m dependent on a car.  Biking in the traffic isn’t safe, as least not for a scaredy cat like me.  In the heart of cities I’ve walked almost everywhere –Chicago, New York, Boston — I do love walking.  It was great to have everything so close — for a while.  Then I tired of walking in the rain, hauling groceries a couple of miles, not knowing how to transport anything large.   I was happy to leave the noise and the congestion behind.  My car seems like freedom, but I’m trapped by it, too.  As gasoline costs climb higher again, I’m being even more careful about the trips I take.  There’s no public transportation in my neighborhood, and won’t be until people are desperate for it and demand it.

One really important thing we suburbanites can do, as Michael Pollan (“Why Bother?) suggests, is turn part of our suburban lawns into gardens, which is what we’ve gradually been doing. More on that later.   (In memory of Kathy. I still miss her so much.)

Why Bother?” is a link to a story in the New York Times by Michael Pollan.

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Filed under Birds, Conservation, Environment, History, Humor, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Relationships, Shopping, Writing

What a Relief!

new-madrid-fault

New Madrid Fault.

I don’t have the shakes any more!  Today’s Kansas City Star reports that the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the boot heel (southeast) area of Missouri may be quieting down, which is very good news.  A series of earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone from 1811-1817 could be felt as far away as Quebec.  One of the earthquakes woke people as far away as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Norfolk Virginia.  The few people in Kansas City at that time were tossed around in their bedrolls like popping corn.

So many cable television channels are devoting lots of airtime to possible disaster stories — asteroids, mega volcanoes, gamma ray bursts, magnetic pole flipping, climate change, you name it, it’s coming at us.  The news of real events isn’t comforting, either, with earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and fires.  It’s good that we can relax a little about one possible catastrophe.

At the bottom is an explanation from the U.S. Geological Survey of the New Madrid Fault and the earthquakes it has unleashed. You can also read a lot more about the New Madrid Seismic Zone on Wikipedia by clicking here: New Madrid Fault.  Also check out the post by Gallivance noting a book about the New Madrid fault and the Mississippi River, featuring herds of squirrels on the march, a bright, forked comet and pirates!  A Comet, An Earthquake, And The End of The River Pirates

Comparison: the 1895 Charleston, Missouri, earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone with the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake. Red indicates area of structural damage, yellow indicates area where shaking was felt.

Comparison: the 1895 Charleston, Missouri, earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone with the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake. Red indicates area of structural damage, yellow indicates area where shaking was felt.

The New Madrid Fault Poses Little Threat, Scientists say

(Kansas City Star, April 13, 2009)

The New Madrid fault zone that unleashed a series of violent earthquakes in the early 19th century may be quieting down, two scientists say.

The fault line, which stretches into southeast Missouri, shows no signs of building up the stresses needed for the quakes many seismologists expect to someday rock the region again, the scientists say.

The researchers from Purdue and Northwestern universities said that may mean the little-understood New Madrid Seismic Zone is shutting down or that seismic activity is shifting to adjacent faults in the country’s midsection.

Other scientists call those conclusions premature.

 U.S. Geological Report on the New Madrid Earthquakes 1811-1812

Shortly after 2 o’clock on the morning of December 16, 1811, the Mississippi River valley was convulsed by an earthquake so severe that it awakened people in cities as distant at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Norfolk, Virginia. This shock inaugurated what must have been the most frightening sequence of earthquakes ever to occur in the United States. Intermittent strong shaking continued through March 1812 and aftershocks strong enough to be felt occurred through the year 1817. The initial earthquake of December 16 was followed by two other principal shocks, one on January 23, 1812, and the other on February 7, 1812. Judging from newspaper accounts of damage to buildings, the February 7 earthquake was the biggest of the three.

In the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys the earthquakes did much more than merely awaken sleepers. The scene was one of devastation in an area which is now the southeast part of Missouri, the northeast part of Arkansas, the southwest part of Kentucky, and the northwest part of Tennessee. Reelfoot Lake, in the northwest corner of Tennessee, stands today as evidence of the might of these great earthquakes. Stumps of trees killed by the sudden submergence of the ground can still be seen in Reelfoot Lake.

Uplift of over 3 meters was reported at one locality several hundred kilometers to the southwest of the epicentral zone where a lake formed by the St. Francis River had its water replaced by sand. Numerous dead fish were found in the former lake bottom. Large fissures, so wide that they could not be crossed on horseback, were formed in the soft alluvial ground. The earthquake made previously rich prairie land unfit for farming because of deep fissures, land subsidence which converted good fields to swamps, and numerous sand blows which covered the ground with sand and mud. The heavy damage inflicted on the land by these earthquakes led Congress to pass in 1815 the first disaster relief act providing the landowners of ravaged ground with an equal amount of land in unaffected regions.

Some of the most dramatic effects of the earthquakes occurred along rivers. Entire islands disappeared, banks caved into the rivers, and fissures opened and closed in the river beds. Water spouting from these fissures produced large waves in the river. New sections of river channel were formed and old channels cut off. Many boats were capsized and an unknown number of people were drowned. There are some graphic eyewitness descriptions in contemporary newspapers made by the boatmen caught on the Mississippi River near Little Prairie, not far from the present-day town of Caruthersville, Missouri.

Although the total number of deaths resulting from the earthquakes is unknown, the toll probably was not large because the area was sparsely populated and because the log cabin type construction that was prevalent at that time withstood the shaking very well. Masonry and stone structures did not fare so well, however, and damage to them was reported at distances of 250 kilometers and more. Chimneys were thrown down in Louisville, Kentucky, about 400 kilometers from the epicentral area, and were damaged at distances of 600 kilometers.

Although it is impossible to know the precise epicentral coordinates of the earthquakes, contemporary accounts of the events suggest that the epicenter of the December 16 shock was close to the southern limit of the area of sand blows. The epicenter of the February 7 shock was closer to the northern limit of the sand blows, near the town of New Madrid, Missouri. There is not sufficient information about the second main shock on January 23 to know its epicenter. Thus the common practice of calling the entire earthquake sequence the “New Madrid earthquakes” is somewhat misleading. From what is known about the present seismicity of the area, it can be inferred that their focal depths were probably between 5 and 20 kilometers. The fault plane — or planes — on which the Earth rupture occurred are inferred to have had a NNE – SSW strike direction, more or less parallel to the Mississippi River.

The felt areas of the three largest earthquakes were extremely large. They extended south to the gulf coast, southeast to the Atlantic coast, and northeast to Quebec, Canada. The western boundary cannot be established owing to a lack of population. However, it can be estimated that the area of intensity V or greater effects was approximately 2½ million square kilometers. This can be contrasted with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, for which the area of intensity V or greater effects was about 150,000 square kilometers. The large difference in felt areas between the Mississippi Valley and San Francisco earthquakes, which had approximately the same magnitude and focal depth, can be explained by differences in attenuation of earthquake waves traveling through the Earth’s outer crust. The crust in the Western United States tends to “soak up” earthquake energy, whereas in the central and eastern regions of the country the seismic energy experiences a much lower rate of absorption. Quantitative studies of recent earthquakes confirm this explanation.

Invariably the three questions that are asked when one describes the 1811-12 earthquakes are (1) could such earthquakes occur again, (2) if so, when will they happen, and (3) what would be the effect of such an earthquake if it were to occur now?

The answer to whether such earthquakes can happen again is yes. Field studies by M. L. Fuller of the United States Geological Survey published in 1912, provided topographic and geological evidence of large magnitude earthquakes predating the 1811-12 sequence. This evidence included ground cracks as large as any caused by the 1811-12 earthquakes in which trees fully 200 years old grew from the bottoms and slopes. Indications of more recent faults and of sandstone dikes filling old earthquake cracks were also found by Fuller. Futhermore, studies of the seismicity since 1812 show that the region is behaving in a manner more or less typical of active seismic zones.

The second question — when will another great earthquake happen — is much more difficult to answer. Extrapolation of magnitude and intensity recurrence curves is presently the only method of prediction available, but this is full of difficulties because the earthquake record covers far too brief a period of time and because earthquakes do not follow an exact cyclical pattern. Although extrapolations of recurrence curves for the region indicate return periods — depending on the investigator — of anywhere between about 400 to 1,000 years for an earthquake the size of the December 16, 1811 event, there is a possibility that such an earthquake might occur as soon as next year or as late as several thousand years hence.

It is easier to speculate on the effects that an earthquake the size of the 1811-12 series would have if it were to occur today than it is to predict when it will happen. In the epicentral area, a repeat of the kind of surficial damage experienced in 1811-12 can expected. However, this would result in a much greater loss of life and property today because of the much larger number of people and man-made structures in the region than were there 162 years ago. Even more awesome is the size of the area that would be affected. The dispersion of the surface waves, combined with their low attenuation, would result in a large amplitude, long duration sinusoidal type of motion with periods in the same range as the natural periods of tall buildings. Although damage to buildings located outside of the immediate earthquake zone would be mostly nonstructural in character, the monetary amount should be expected to be very large. The emotional and psychological effects of a large earthquake in the central part of the country would probably also be considerable, particularly if the earthquake had a long aftershock pattern as the 1811-12 sequence did.

Perhaps the greatest danger of all arises from the sense of complacency, or perhaps total ignorance, about the potential threat of a large earthquake. The frequency of occurrence of earthquakes the size of those that took place in 1811-12 is very low; however, continuing minor to moderate seismic activity in the central Mississippi Valley area is an indication that a large magnitude tremor can someday be expected there again.

Earthquake Information Bulletin, Volume 6, Number 2, March – April 1974, by Otto W. Nuttli.

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Filed under History, Kansas City, Life, Personal, Science

Aussie Speak

It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.

It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.

I laughed when I read my friend Anita’s recent facebook status report: “having fun using words like kerfluffle, bungle (as a noun), shambolic (as in shambles), rectitudiness, verballing, and of course tradies, unis, bikies, footies. . .”

Anita, an American, moved to Australia last summer. As a journalist, part of her job is communicating with government officials and other journalists, so she is an interpreter of the various kinds of English, too. In her last position, she spoke Spanish, so she’s up to the challenge.
When we arrived to visit them, Anita and her husband began translating for us.  For example, they advised that “You don’t root for teams, you barrack for them.”  Rooting means something quite different from our definition and is probably not mentioned in polite society…….But we’re all friends here. Most Aussie words and phrases do make sense (sometimes you have to think about it), even if they aren’t the words we normally use.  Sometimes it’s the pronunciation that throws me.
We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way.  Their signs needs more letters, but it's easier to spell.  Also, not the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.

We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way. Their signs require more letters to get their message across, but it's easier to spell. (Don't we just look at the shape anyway?) Also, note the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.

I’ve been reading letters and later emails from Aussies for years and thought I knew what they were saying, but hearing it in person I found myself saying or at least thinking “What?”  I need a hearing aid of a different kind.
The people I most easily understood were transplanted English people.  Maybe it’s from my years of watching Masterpiece Theater.
Two of my favorite words are “brilliant” for everything wonderful and “shocking” for terrible, which I heard from my friend Monica when we were stopped in a massive traffic jam in Sydney.  Another good word is “chuffed,” which seems to mean excited, proud or happy, which I’ve heard Down Under and even from fellow English blogger Paula who writes beautiful posts.  She’s on my blogroll as Locks Park Farm.
A “good on you!” to Janelle of What Makes Me Laugh for her funny post on Aussie-isms.  Click here: It’s Not Weird, It’s Not Wrong, It’s Just Different.  She wrote several funny, insightful posts on her recent trip to Australia.  Don’t miss them!
Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!

Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!

Jan of Planetjan had fun with the language and other differences when her English friends came to visit her in Los Angeles.  Here’s one of her funny posts on the subject: Back to Reality.

  
In New Zealand…well, let’s not go there right now, except to say that egg is pronounced eeg, as in eek, and left as leeft.  Instead, I’ll hand you over to native New Zealander Kiwi Bloke, who has lived in Australia, Canada and even Texas, for all things Kiwi.  He’s Kiwi Bloke on my blogroll and is multi-lingual in the English language.  
Why don’t you tell me your favorite language choices?  Cheers!

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Filed under Australia, Friendship, Humor, Language, Life, New Zealand, Personal, Travel

I’m Addicted to Digital

My Newest Addiction!

My newest addiction! My photographs are the tabby cat in the second row and the Texas waffle in the third row. After all of the "arty" photographs I've taken and submitted, I never dreamed that my two most popular photographs, featured on the RedBubble home page, would be my cat and a waffle I made for my breakfast.

Last month, I stumbled across a photographer’s blog that mentioned the RedBubble art and photography website, so I checked it out — then I signed up.  Now, I can’t stay away from it.  The amount of incredible excellent art and photography on cyberspace is mind-boggling — and from teenagers, even.  

If only we’d had digital photography and computers when I was a kid.  (We did have electric typewriters with correction tape.  And boy did I need the tape! ) All of my hard-earned darkroom skills are now archaic.  Using film, an enlarger and developing chemicals these days is like listening to your music on vinyl disks.  You have to be hard-core to do it.  I love the instant gratification as well as the ability to edit in so many ways in digital photography!  We “edited”  in the film darkroom, too, but it was limited.  And I only did black and white.   (I won’t even go into cameras.  More on that later.)

I dsicovered that birds are an extremely popular photography subject.  You need a twist.  Here, a cardinal holds on for dear life as he's buffeting in a snow storm on a pear tree branch. encrusted with ice The blossoms are covered with snow.

Birds are an extremely popular photography subject. You need a twist to stand out from the flock. I took this photograph of a cardinal holding on for dear life as he's buffeted in an early spring snow storm on a pear tree branch outside my kitchen window. You can't see the detail here, but the blossoms are covered with snow and the branches encrusted with ice. The poor cardinal, as brave as he is, is probably too common.

I started with Flickr, but I love RedBubble’s Aussie cheekiness.   Etsy is fun, too. (I discovered Kenna Foster on Etsy. She’s also on Flickr.  She’s on my blogroll. Check her out!)  I don’t know how many photography and art sites are online, but there must be tens of thousands of photographers and artists looking at and commenting on one another’s work, everyone from professionals to the people posting their first work.  It’s inspiring, overwhelming and humbling at the same time.

This photograph of Paddington with his mis-matched eyes has been very popular.  Paddington is tired of me pursuing him with a camera and is going to take out a restraining order against me.

My photograph of Paddington with his mis-matched eyes has been very popular with other cat owners and lovers. Paddington is tired of me pursuing him with a camera and is going to take out a restraining order against me.

On RedBubble or Etsy, there’s a chance that someone will see one of your great photographs or artworks and decide that they can’t live without it. On Etsy, the artists themselves produce and deliver the work.  

If you order through RedBubble, RB produces and ships the art as a card, print, canvas, calendar or poster.  I suspect that much of the art sold on RB is to the artists and photographers themselves.  I bought my own photograph (below) of the View from the Sydney Tower on canvas.  Those RedBubble people know what they’re doing!

Anyone who signs up for RedBubble (It’s free) can also get a free photography website, which is very cool.  You can organize your photos into galleries.  It was incredibly simple.  You can join a huge number of specialty groups on RB, such as landscapes, sunsets and sunrises, wildlife, doors and windows, old theaters, rivers, pets, food, skies  — in fact not even the sky is the limit.   Each group has sub-sets, too.  There are groups with minimal standards, and there are groups by invitation only, and everything in between.

I like to photograph oddball things, such as this van parked at Bondi Beach in Sydney.  I think the driver is trying to contact the mother ship.

I like to photograph oddball things, such as this van parked at Bondi Beach in Sydney. I think the driver is trying to contact the mother ship.

Featured photographs and art usually are exceptional, awe-inspiring, off-beat, fresh or eye-popping or else tug at your heart-strings (or else the person who selected it just took the next artwork that came along…..)

I know many of you out there are photographers.  What is your favorite photography website?  What are your favorite subjects. What do you do with all of your photographs? Do you print many?  Why do you take photographs?  I wanna know!  If you want to see a RedBubble website, here’s mine.  I’m still working on it.  My favorite gallery is “Fun Stuff”.  Catherine Sherman Photography.

RedBubble.      Flickr.   Etsy.  Beholden to Nature – Kenna Foster Photography.

Thanks to my daughter for saving the RedBubble screen shot for me.

I thought this view from the Sydney Tower was spectacular, but the number of spectacular photographs in cyberspace seems to be infinite!

I thought my photograph of this view from the Sydney Tower was spectacular, but the number of spectacular photographs in cyberspace seems to be infinite!

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Filed under Art, Entertainment, Howto, Internet, Life, Photography, Random, Shopping

Just Call Me Little Bo Peep

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them.

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them. These sheep are grazing at Port Arthur Historic Site, the location of a 19th century penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.

Sheep are probably more common in Australia than kangaroos, but on a recent visit there I never got close enough to hear so much as a bleat.   I wanted to see a sheep shearing (as seen on “The Thorn Birds”).  I  wanted a picturesque mob of sheep to flood out onto the quaint road, you know, the usual tourist adventures.  I should have just looked in my own neighborhood. (There’s a hilarious video about a movie starring sheep at the bottom of this post as a reward for traveling on my nostalgia trip.)

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

A friend, Evan J., told me about a sheep shearing he participated in recently at a farm not too far away from me.  In six months, the sheep will need another hair cut.  Only a tornado is going to keep me away.

Farmers are dedicated, determined and dazzling.  I’m in awe of what they accomplish and remember the hard work of my grandparents’ farm.  It’s easy to take farm fields and pastures for granted, until the raw timbers of subdivisions take their places.  I live in a suburb on the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area, near horses and soybean fields.  I’m always afraid I’ll find a CVS pharmacy staked out in the horse pasture. (Our neighborhood has already fought a CVS.)  One nearby farm was just sold off and leveled last year.  Asphalt streets curve around empty lots where a barn surrounded by hay bales once stood.  My own yard was once part of a forest that is now a golf course, so I can’t say I haven’t contributed to the sprawl.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long.  It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers.  Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long. It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers. Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

People can satisfy a little of their farm curiosity in our county with a visit to Deanna Rose Farm, a city park with farm animals and historic rural buildings.  Hopefully, small family farms don’t become novelty items that are remembered only in parks. 

I’ve been following the blog of Paula, who raises sheep and cattle and does just about everything else on her organic farm in Devon, England.  Here’s her post on lambing.  Lambing — It’s Started.  Her blog has great photos, too!

Closer to home, Natalya of Pinwheel Farm writes about the joys and sorrows of raising sheep. You can find “Girls at War” and “Memorable Shearing Day, two of her posts on sheep, at Pinwheel Farm.

I watched the movie “Black Sheep” on the plane trip from New Zealand.  It’s so hilariously Kiwi.  Sort of cheesy, but in a good way.  The special effects reminded me of those in “Dr. Who,” the ones with Tom Baker, my favorite doctor.  Here’s the imdb.com link, including videos, about the movie  Black Sheep.  Below is the video of the movie trailer.  The video is over the top, but there’s a lot of wry Kiwi wit in the movie. For more Kiwi wit and news, check out Kiwibloke on my blogroll.

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