Friday, October 23, 2009

Sweet Home Alabama

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As the largest city in the U.S., you can imagine how many radio stations there are in that massive and diverse market. Bakersfield (the nearest city of any size in our area) has, I think, a grand total of four stations. Furthermore, up here in the mountains, we get only one.

I usually have the radio on in the afternoons, since I’m not much of a TV watcher. A big part of the listening on KNZR includes the bumper music that both of the local talk show guys play. The three o’clock host is all about Frank Sinatra. Once in a while, he will throw in a little Tony Bennett, but mostly it’s “Old Blue Eyes”. The one o’clock guy, on the other hand, has a real weak spot for Merle Haggard. Yes, that’s a pretty big leap. Still, they are both all right with me. I’m rarely fully focused on the music, and I don’t mind either choice. I enjoy both of them.

This afternoon was a different story. The one o’clock guy did three hours that was all about Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now, I’m the first to admit that my pop musical tastes are not the most hip. I can take rap for about thirty seconds and never even got as far as acid rock, or heavy metal much less the stuff that came after that. I know it makes me a country bumpkin to admit that I’m not a super big fan of jazz. But, classic country rock. Yeah, that’s good music.

I was doing great—getting some work done while those southern boys were wailing away in the background. I was enjoying something different in the early afternoon, then I ended up in the kitchen doing some baking and some cleanup when “Sweet Home Alabama” came up in the host’s roster.

First, a disclaimer: Let's just say I never turned heads on the dance floor. But, since my first broken hip, I really don’t dance at all. Long ago, I made my peace with not having much talent in that department, so that isn’t the problem. But, once I was fully ambulatory again, I always ended up hurting my back every time I tried dancing. Pain is a great motivator. I gave up what passed for dancing in my case.

Yet, I have been known to make exceptions. Now, I could claim I was a victim of circumstance in this case, but I won’t make excuses. There I was, alone in the kitchen. The guitar riff at the opening of “Sweet Home Alabama” began; I was on my feet; and, well, one thing led to another. I may have still had a dish towel in my hand when I began making a fool of myself. My head was saying, “Stop”. My feet were saying, “Go.” I mean it was Lynyrd Skynyrd!

So, my back will hurt tonight. Right now, I think it will be worth it. Ask me about it tomorrow.

P.S. Fair warning: This posting twice a day thing is a bad precedent and not apt to be repeated often.

More from Lower Valley Trail

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I didn't have time for much of a walk yesterday, after all. Good intentions and all that. I got sidetracked setting up yet another external hard drive, so I can eventually have more working space without spending the tedious hours combing through old folders and deciding between file number xxx8 and xxx9. The photo above was taken a couple of days ago during that long walk bathed in lovely light.

Yesterday, I was on the way out for at least a short trek down Lower Valley when I saw both horses at full attention, staring intently toward Cub Lake. Peering more closely, I spotted the cloud of dust and eventually saw half a dozen girls out for a rather raucous ride. They were cantering, laughing, and shouting at one another—having a grand time. Lancer and Night joined in the excitement, so that meant, of course, that I couldn't possibly head out for a walk. Besides, I didn't particularly want to be in path of "The Wild Bunch". Not that I would have been in danger, but I would have eaten a good deal of dust. The trail certainly wouldn't have been my typical quiet, refuge.

No big loss. There are worse ways to spend my walk then ambling around the property near the house, watching the horses do something other than their customary munching, checking on the birch trees, and just soaking up the comfort of feeling more and more at home in Bear Valley Springs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Walking Lower Valley Trail

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Recently, I have been taking my evening walk down Lower Valley Trail. There are two trails that meet at one corner of our property: Lower Valley and Upper Valley. Lower Valley takes me down toward Cub Lake and, so far, I have ended up following that route. One of these days, I will get bored with going that direction and I’ll start turning left to go along Upper Valley.

In the beginning, I always carried the 24-105mm lens on the walk, until one day I had the 100mm macro on the 50D and was curious about how it would work out on the trail. I ended up sticking with that lens for a couple of walks. I never seem to think of the macro for landscapes, but it worked out fine.

My walk is a special time of day. It’s quiet. Occasionally, I bump into someone—a rider, a hiker, or a dog-walker. But, frequently, I have the trail all too myself. Back there I am far enough from Bear Valley Road to effectively muffle the traffic noise, so the only sounds I hear are maybe neighing horses calling for dinner, an occasional barking dog, and usually the whisper, or whine of the wind in my ears.

On this particular Sunday evening, I was glad that I had rushed a few chores to get started on the walk and stayed out long enough to get home a little late for dinner. The clouds were heavy and low producing a magical light. The swaying grasses—playfully tossing light in every direction, the trees standing watch in the distance, the foothills and mountains rimming the valley, and that expanse of sky—they all make great walking companions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Sign that Points to Questions

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Yesterday was one of our Bakersfield-trek days. Faced with errands that can’t be taken care of in Tehachapi, we devoted much of the day to the drive and schlepping store to store. If we could get a Trader Joe’s in Tehachapi, it would cut down considerably on time spent in Bakersfield. But then, I would want to stop with TJ's and that's not fair to the people who want other types of growth. Drat. Oh, well driving to Bakersfield isn't so bad. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Trader Joe's chain, their prices are exceptionally good and they have items that are either unavailable elsewhere or scarce at best. (For example, The Husband is crazy about their store brand frozen tamales. I am, too, but can no longer eat them, unfortunately.) The chain is bit like a poor person’s Whole Foods. The latter offers terrific products, but I have heard them referred to as Whole Paycheck, and let’s just say that we patronize Trader Joe’s instead.

I can’t resist taking a camera with me on these treks in spite of the fact that I don’t usually come home with much. Drive-by photography doesn’t typically produce great yields (especially with an incredibly dirty windshield). Of course, I want to stop about every ten miles. That isn’t practical for many reasons—including a time schedule to keep and most often no place to pull off going down through the mountains.

For yesterday’s trip, I took not only the 40D—because it happened to have the 24-105mm lens attached, but the G7, as well. I ended up using the small camera on the way home. As traffic slowed approaching a traffic light, The husband and I each spotted this sign at the same moment. It provided a nice giggle .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Macro Lens and Baby Birch Trees

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We have three baby birch trees in front of our house. Since they were planted by the original owners of the place just before we finalized our purchase, they are getting close to two years old. For the last few days, I have been been out there, with the 100mm macro lens, taking photos of the golden leaves in our yard as though my camera were in the process of melting.

For a couple of hours, each morning, the house provides lovely shade on at least two of the trees, and there are inviting piles of fallen leaves to keep me interested. The leaves aren’t those of grand and impressive maples, or rich and complex oaks. They are simple and not so flashy, but they suit me and have kept me busy right outside my front door. I keep thinking I should get out and do some more exploring. But, so far, I just can’t seem to get past those birch babies.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Photography and Late Lunches

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I’m putting the blame for my late Sunday lunch square on Monte Stevens. I almost named this post "Put the Blame on Monte". Posts of his, such as this one, got me thinking recently that I don’t spend much time making pictures of homely things. His intriguing photos of simple, everyday objects kept nagging at me, reminding me that I needed to experiment. After all, the world of photography is not all horses, trees, paths, fences, grasses, clouds, and such. I rarely take photos inside and with winter coming, I would be wise to think more about indoor photography.

I had been outside, yesterday, working with the macro lens and it was already past my lunch time, but I could not stop thinking about those photos on Monte's site. Yes, my stomach was complaining at the thought of further delays, but it was the appetite for food up against the appetite for just one more photograph. 

Ultimately, lunch was postponed again as I gathered a few things on the kitchen counter and set to work. I was having a good time, but I ended up not taking very many pictures in this session, after all. Okay, I confess that I couldn’t resist snacking on the set dressing. When there were only three baby carrots left, I surrendered, put down the camera, and consumed all the props.

There were lessons learned and some of them not so obvious. Clearly, if I am to produce any interesting photographs of this sort, I have to experiment more. But, next time I need to work with inedible props. Or, eat before I pick up the camera.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Black Holes

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I have known this was possible all along. I just never had any evidence. Heaven knows how I replicated this result—I must admit that it wasn’t intentional. But, clearly, I was way ahead of the curve with practical research in this area. For as long as I can remember, I have had things disappear from my desk. Most often, I would blame the poltergeists, of course, because we all know what havoc those little rascals wreak in our lives. The truth, it would seem, is that I had inadvertently created a desktop black hole—one that was actually devouring things I had safely stored on my desk. And, I don’t even recall purchasing any photon-absorbing carbon nanotubes. Whodathunk? Oh, well, now the poltergeists are off the hook—at least when it comes to the top of my desk.