Skywatch Friday – The Skies Are Back

So lately our plain jane skies have spiced up a little bit, especially at sunset. So I have been flying my drone quite a bit.

DSCF0049

There are even interesting skies on our dog walks.

One day we had a spectacular sunset to the west and…

to the East we got a nearly full Wolf Moon rising.

Happy Skywatching to you! I am linking up at Skywatch Friday.

I Got a Major Award!!

Hey, I got a package from Amazon! I told my son that I won a major award!! I lied and told him that it said frajili on the cover.

Logan said, so you got a leg lamp?

20181202-163219-5

What, no!! I got something better!!

I got a trail cam!! True confessions, can a major award be something you bought for yourself?

DSCF0006

So I installed the 47 batteries, configured all the 94 settings and put it on a tripod to face one of Heather’s bird feeders….. No birds, but lots of crickets!!

DSCF0018

So I pivoted it to look at Heather’s other feeder. I sat outside with my book and my iphone. I played wordle, made an instagram post, read a chapter. And the whole time a flock of cardinals was flocking the feeder. And I thought oh boy, I got a bunch of bird pics. So I went to check it out.

DSCF0009

And I got this old boomer guy.

DSCF0018

I got my other gadget out and flew it front in front of the new gadget and it got picked up.

Right back at you loser trailcam!!

So, do I own my gadgets, or do they own me?

Ruby Tuesday – Mom’s Family Diner

Last week I took my Subaru in for some routine maintenance. I had to wait for a little bit so I did something very “unSubaru ownerlike.” I walked across the street to Mom’s Family Diner to eat breakfast without first consulting Trip Advisor, Google, Facebook, or anything else to check it out. Just went in naked so to speak (you understand I am not being literal here.)

Turns out I made a great decision. I had their 2x2x2 breakfast special. Two eggs, two pancakes, 2 sausage patties and it was great and the coffee was drinkable.

So that proves you can go places naked and it will turn out okay (I am not being literal here.)

I’m linking with Ruby Tuesday. Come join the fun.

Skywatch Friday – Oxley Nature Center

_DSC0319

Last Sunday morning I went hiking at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center. I ventured first to their North Woods area where there is almost always no one but me.

_DSC0320

And I lucked out I took off and saw no one. Suits me. Can’t do any better social distancing than that!

_DSC0314

Didnt see any deer which was a disappointment but lots of birds and squirrels.

_DSC0313

And lots of sky. All the trees have been stripped of their leaves so I lots of blue sky.

_DSC0332 - swamp

When I finished I drove to the main part of Oxley Nature Center and asked where the otters might be found. They told me where to go and said that it is best to get there around 5 am to 6 am. So I don’t know if I’ll ever see the otters or not.

_DSC0334

They said head to the big beaver lodge in the lake and they hang out from there to the waterway. So I did, you never know, maybe the otters would be feeling bored on a Sunday morning. I didn’t see any otters but I saw lots of ducks and geese.

_DSC0327

And some deer. I didn’t have a long lens so this very cropped shot is the best I could do with what I had. It was cool though. I was on a trail walking in parallel with their path so we stayed together for a couple hundred yards or so.

_DSC0335- bridge

And I found this cool bridge.

The otters will have to wait for later. I’ve never seen an otter in the wild and I would love to see these guys.

How about you? You ever have a wild otter sighting?

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

This is a book about trees and somewhat of a memoir of Suzanne Simard and it just blew me away. It starts with her as a student intern working for a logging company in Canada and she is trying to figure out why Fir tree seedlings planted in a former clear cut do not thrive as expected. Why not, they have no competition from other trees, lots of sunshine and water. What is missing? So she starts trying to find out. She designs experiments with help from people from her work and over time she finds out that the fir trees need birch trees. It turns out that to professional foresters birch trees are weeds. They rob the valuable firs of sunshine, nutrients, and water.

Simard eventually rediscovers that birch trees and fir trees are linked by a fungus, a mycorrhizal fungus, that links the roots of birch trees and fir trees and this fungus facilitates the transfer of water, carbon, and other nutrients between the trees based on the needs of the trees. A great part of the book is Simard’s description of the experiments she ran to prove all this. Experiments in the woods are hard. Lots of digging to install barriers to prevent this fungus from connecting certain trees. Lots of exposure to radioactive gases as some of the trees are fogged with isotopes of carbon to help with tracing. Exposure to powerful herbicides when vegetation needs to be killed as part of the experiment. And then the dreary following up measuring how the various trees are growing and then running the data analysis.

_DSC0756

And then presenting the data at conferences and trying to get published and getting the cold shoulder and outright hostility from the older, mainly male, foresters who reject her findings outright. It’s a story of perseverance as she slowly gets her message out and government agencies and logging companies start using her recommendation to make replanted forests grow faster and healthier, not just for the trees but for the whole ecosystem.

_DSC0678

She writes about birches and firs but the forests are interconnected by all sorts of fungi between all sorts of species. She also writes about mother trees who somehow recognize their offspring and provide these “sons and daughters” extra nutrition and help to survive. None of this is speculation, she has proof that it occurs.

_DSC0265

At the end she talks about salmon, grizzly bears, trees in the pacific coast of British Columbia. A major source of nitrogen it turns out in the trees on the coast, extending far inland, is from salmon. (How do they know that, because the isotope ratio for nitrogen in salmon is different from the native ratios in the soil). During the spawning season grizzly bears eat thousands of salmon and leave the carcasses to decompose. The evidence suggests that maybe the fungus network may be able to transmit the salmon nitrogen hundreds of miles underground. No proof yet, but stay tuned.

What makes the book special is not just the science but Simard talks about her own life and struggles with marriage, children, career, and health. She’s kind of my hero right now. Talk about somebody who has a passion for many things and does her best to carry forward.

_DSC0318

Tell you what though, I am looking at trees and fungus with whole new eyes. As I hike my favorite trails here in Oklahoma I am looking at the trees and fungus with new eyes. Simard focuses her story the mycorrhizal fungus but there are literally thousands of other fungi out there that form networks between trees and other trees, and shrubs, and grass and every other type of plant you can think of sending nutrients here there and everywhere depending on season and need. It’s all kind of mind boggling.

I don’t think we have heard the last from her.

Our World – Scavenger Hunt

Not to toot my own horn, but I guess I will. I helped to plan and implement a scavenger hunt on Turkey Mountain this past weekend. It was originally supposed to be New Year’s but it got postponed because of weather.

The RiverParks Authority gave me thirty items to give away. Small stuff like stickers (people go nuts over stickers these days) and key chains. I conceived the idea of using repurposed cd jewelboxes and designed new covers and “liner notes” for containers for the giveaway items.

So late last Friday I loaded up my jewel boxes and headed to Turkey Mountain. My friend Laurie from the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition helped me place them on different parts of the mountain. It turned out to be a good workout with about 5 miles of hiking involved.

We didn’t really hide them because we wanted people to find them. The RiverParks Authority also had people out and about placing bigger items like water bottles and tshirts on the mountain. They also had people adding new stuff during the day.

We hid one in the famous washing machine at a crossroads on Turkey Mountain. (It’s actually a drier but I get dirty looks when I bring up that fact. Ever notice that anybody who says “actually” gets dirty looks.?

I was busy but I always take time for photos.

Especially when the sun is setting.

Here’s a screen shot of the facebook invite for the event.

Channel Six here in Tulsa showed up and did a story on the event.

A good time was had by all. I was proud to be a part of it.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday. Come join the party!!

First Skywatch of 2022!!

Son is done graduated from college and is now looking for a job. He had an early morning interview at this place the other day and I liked the light on the east facing facade and the sky. Hey you know, you gotta get photos where you find them, right?

And this is a reverse sunset, looking south from the front yard.

And a similar shot from my brother’s assisted living place near our house.

And a sunrise photo from my back yard.

I launched the drone the other day at sunset. This is looking east. I love the pink that shows up in the sky opposite of sunsets.

And this is looking roughly north of northeast. The buildings just to the right of center is downtown Tulsa.

Tell you the truth I was not overly impressed with the photos so I ran one of them through a filter.

While I was flying the drone, I took a drone selfie of me. Heather got me that vest I am wearing. It is an electrically heated vest and I love it. Not only does it heat the front and back of the body, it heats the collar, and the pockets!! I’ve been testing it and I love it. It keeps me toasty warm. I haven’t been this excited about a Christmas present since I was a kid.

Graph by moi, compiled from Oklahoma State Department of Health Data

I am wishing everybody a happy and safe New Year. I hope everybody, who can, is up to date on their vaccinations, and are being careful. Our new infections are increasing rapidly. The public health professionals are saying to pay more attention to hospitalizations now. That metric is about double what it was in early November. I know everybody is tired of it but now is not the time to just give up.

And now I am going to brag on me a little bit. I mean why have a blog if you aren’t going to highlight yourself every now and then? Anyway I won the “Company Values” category for the photo above, taken on Memorial Day in 2020.

That’s all for now. I am linking with Skywatch Friday. Come join us!!

Closing Out 2021

I love the time between Christmas and New Years Day. The days leading up to Christmas are all in a rush especially if somebody in the family gets ill. Afterwards you can relax a little bit hopefully. I took advantage of one bright, sunny, day and went on a bike ride.

One of my favorite trails is alongside a turnpike on one side and fields and farms on the other. I ran into a mutt and jeff combination of horses.

You got the little one, all cute and fuzzy.

And the older one, both looking for something better to eat than the dry grass on offer.

I got to the end and rested a bit in the shadow of a billboard.

When I came home, this guy was waiting for me. iNaturalist tells me that this is a Coopers Hawk. He was using our mailbox as an observation perch. We have lots of squirrels and bunnies in the neighborhood and he was looking to eat one of those cute little critters.

Hey you know, cute little critters don’t live forever and hawks have to eat to right?

Are you on instagram? If so, are we following each other? My handle is @yogiab. These are my top nine posts for the year. I love instagram.

Do you live close to Tulsa? Come join in the First Day Hike and Scavenger Hunt on Turkey Mountain. It was supposed to be New Year’s Day but we postponed it until Saturday, January 8th from 8 am to 5 pm. Check out this facebook post for the details. We are hiding the above repurposed jewel boxes for people to find. They are going to have various Turkey Mountain stickers and key rings to find. There are also going to be a bunch of tee shirts hidden on the trails for people to find.

Do you like the cd cases. I repurposed them and designed and printed new covers and the liner notes are the Leave No Trace seven principles. I hope that I am not spoiling the surprise. The RiverParks Authority posted the photo on their website so I figured I can post my own photo on my site.

That’s about it for now. I wish everybody a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2022. Take Care!

I am linking with the following memes. They are all fun so check them out!!

Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen.

Shadow Shot Sunday 2 hosted by the Magical Mystery Teacher.

And Our World Tuesday hosted by Lady Fi

Skywatch Friday – New Years Edition

Happy New Year from our bunch. The day after Christmas the whole family made an epic three mile walk to a Barnes and Noble store to take advantage of their 50% hardback book sale. Heather and Logan were not as enthusiastic about the walk as I was. I led them along the greenbelt so there were no sidewalks or other modern conveniences and we had a to climb a fence. I had a blast and that is what counts right?

Even our critters got toys. Rascal loves his new toy. Rascal has been in therapy for hip and rear leg issues and has responded great to his accupuncture and land therapy.

So we are taking him on walks again and he has his mojo back.

Heather made some gingerbread cookies. My wordpress is being strange now. It is not showing me previews of all my photos so if things look out of whack that is why. I save and reboot and things work like they are supposed to for about five minutes and then quit.

This is a Skywatch post right? Here is a sunrise to the east of our front yard.

And a sunset looking across the street.

I wish everybody a happy and safe New Years!! I had more to talk about but maybe the internet has decided that I am done for now.

Come link up at Skywatch Friday

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

This cover is bogus

I’ve been hearing about Zane Grey almost my whole life. A famous western writer who was active in the early 20th century wrote about the old west. I used to watch Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater when I was a kid. I have never read his books until this one “Riders of the Purple Sage” his best seller.

Forest Ranger on the Mogollon Rim, Arizona early 1960's
There is my Dad, the Forest Ranger, at the Mogollon Rim on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. I think that is my brother at the far right. The dog is Dupe the cocker spaniel. I don’t know who the guy on left is.

I grew up in Zane Grey country, the Mogollon Rim country in Arizona. Home of desperadoes, cowboys, and outlaws way back when.

IMG_0732
The Zane Grey Cabin in Payson, Arizona.

So I was expecting some sort of outlaw, desperado, rustler, lawman type novel when I read my first Grey novel. And there is quite a bit of that along with some great description of the country of southern Utah. A land of hidden canyons, secret passages, and beautiful valleys. There were outlaws, rustlers, and heroic hard bitten cowboys. But I’ll tell the dirty little secret of this book.

It’s a Romance Novel!! Oh my gosh, these cowboys when they meet the women their hearts go all aflutter, falling in pure, innocent love for these various damsels in distress. Page after page after page. I was never more glad to finish a novel than this thing. There were some “good parts in it” horseback chases across the sage flats. Hard charging horses. All the shoot outs and action is “off camera” if you will. They are told about afterwards.

Other than that it reminds of way back when when I worked in an office where one of the secretary’s didn’t have much to do so she read romance novels all day long. So I’d come by and say, hey let me see that. So I’d take the book and standing there for a few seconds read aloud what page she had been reading and it was all about heaving bosoms, quivering thighs, breathless anticipation, and soaring love (that is about as far as it went in this lady’s books). That is Riders of the Purple Sage, romance for cowboys.

The women are not treated much better. They are described as simple, childlike, and weak.

So I give this book three stars out of five for historical and literary interest. Otherwise I was pretty disappointed.