Friday, October 31, 2008

Who's there?

Camera Critters

A couple of years ago my husband and I were looking in a pine tree, after dark, for a geocache. Instead of the cache we ran nose-to-nose, er um nose-to-beak, with a Northern Saw-whet Owl. Of course, at the time we hadn’t a clue what kind of owl it was. It was the tiniest, cutest, little owl I had ever seen. It sat on the branch in the glow from our flashlight as we quietly ooed and awed. I only had a cell phone camera with me and I snapped one crappy photo of him.

My husband emailed the photo to someone in the conservation department and the owl was identified for us. The Saw-whet we saw was tiny; it could have easily fit in my palm. On average they’re only about 7-8.5 inches long and weigh 2.5-3.5 ounces




I saw this owl at a zoo, and I thought the tag said Saw-Whet and the owl was small, but comparing these photos to the bird book it just doesn't look right.  But I can’t see any owl without thinking of that night I was kissing distance to that miniature owl.

And because I'm dying sick *cough* and my time is up for *ugh - a-choo* Letter O in Martha's A-Z Photo Challenge, this post is pulling double duty.  Sorry. *cough cough*  See, even this Barred Owl is ill.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Basilica of Saint Mary (part 1)

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

First up let me say that I feel like big fuzzy pink something-or-other has taken up residence in my chest.  Yes, my grandson was so sweet and special to share his cold with me and breathing has become an effort.  Well, when you can't breathe, not enough oxygen gets to your brain, so you can't think so well either.  Luckily I prepared this post yesterday, before the oxygen deprivation began.  But if the elephant doesn't remove his tail from my lungs and lift his big furry pink butt off my chest I will be slow making the rounds.  Please forgive me.  Now on with the show.


Recently, I had the opportunity to admire The Basilica of St Mary, in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, up close and personal.


It’s 100 years old this year and was the first Basilica in America, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.


But I really don’t want to overload you with words when I have so many photos to share. I tried to weed it down, but there were so many I liked or so many features I wanted to share. The place is huge! And beautifully intricate! And old!










I loved the shadow on the wall - see it?

All of these were taken with the Canon 40D, 50mm 1.8 lens, handheld, with no flash, ISO 640 and shutter speeds of 8-15. Yes, I hate using a tripod so much that I handhold as low as possible, even if I have to hold my breath. When I first started I was lucky to shoot at 30 without the tripod, now I can go down to 8. I don’t think I’ll ever top that.

Oh, btw, Happy Halloween!

UPDATE: Part 2 is located here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Fall & Happy Halloween!


Look what I found! I had forgotten about these leaves! What a nice surprise as I was going through my photos.



Tiny little Indian Corn.


Tiny Little Indian Corn on an old child’s saddle. A saddle my kids once sat upon.


Big Indian Corn close-up. I love all the various colors in the kernels.


There’s all the colors in a crayon box there.



The stupid squirrels have stolen them now, and I found the remains scattered throughout the yard.


Tiny little pumpkins are my favorite.


A gourd, or a bird?


Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Do you eat flowers?


This plant is very easy to grow and is often chosen for children just interested in growing a plant from seed. I can confirm that, I did little to them yet they bloomed all summer. And all summer while I enjoyed the blooms of my Nasturtium (Tropaeolum), I never knew how edible they were. You heard me right, I could have eaten any part of the plant or blooms.

Most often it is the flower and leaf that is eaten, especially added to salad for a boost of color and it offers a slight peppery taste (reminiscent of watercress). The flowers or leaves are also sometimes used in stir fry. The leaves are more intensely flavored, but the blooms are a prettier addition. You can use them whole or chopped as a garnish in soups, butters, spreads, cakes, etc. You could even stuff the blooms with cream cheese, for instance, for a unique hors d’ouvere. Or maybe add some blooms to your sandwiches, or flavor vinegar.

And if you’re looking for something to use in place of capers you can harvest the unripe seed pods and pickle with hot vinegar, although they taste more peppery. Or grind some seeds in a pepper mill and use in place of black pepper. You can eat the tuber (root) as well, although I haven’t found details on exactly how that is recommended.

Nasturtiums also repel many garden pests, but attract black fly aphids, so sometimes people use them amongst crops in the hopes that the crop will be saved. And they attract beneficial insects.

Why would I grow anything else? I think next year I will try eating them, but for this year they are done, it’s too late. What about you, would you try them? Have you tried them?


I took these photos with the 15mm fisheye lens.

Can you believe we had snowflakes yesterday?  Already!  I think that's the earliest I've ever seen flakes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Macro Monday - Petals

Macro Monday is easy to play, snap a macro (or close-up) photo, post it on your blog and come back here and leave a comment.


I could not resist showing more of the beautiful strawflowers. This time more fully bloomed.







Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Jade, Fred


For the last few years, every summer my husband swears I am going to kill my Jade Plant. Maybe it’s because when we bought two Christmas Cacti and he cared for one which is still living (and preparing to bloom), I was in charge of the second one, which has long since passed.

But we found this Jade at a garage sale a few years ago and I had to have it. They grow slow and I could tell by it’s size that it had survived many years already.  The Marshfield Mall has one that's over 100 years old, I can't remember its name though.

Every summer I move the Jade outside and often I forget where to place it and some of the leaves get burned by the sun’s rays before I realize it needs more shade. But here it is, in all its glory at the end of this summer. It survived another year and has a lot of new growth. I may be able to keep it alive for many years after all.

Every time I look at it I think of Fred (a Jade plant) in the book, By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz. I thought of my Jade the entire time I was reading the book to Dennis. Maybe someday I will strap my ‘Fred’ into the car seat and go on some travels.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sandhill Cranes

Camera Critters


Driving the back roads of Wisconsin we stumbled upon some baby turkeys following mom across the road. They quickly disappeared in the brush, but they’re so cute. I hope they survive Thanksgiving dinner.


But a short way down the road it was my delight to come upon about 20 Sandhill Cranes in a field.


They still mystify me as much as they did the first time I saw one.


Have you ever heard their calls? They are very distinct and different than any other bird I’ve ever heard.


When I hear them (usually flying overhead) I feel I am back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. I found some calls online if you’re interested in hearing them, but they sound much louder and mysterious when you are out in the woods.


We’ll miss them over the winter but look forward to their return next spring. Hopefully, I will finally be able to capture a baby then.