Monday, October 29, 2007
Last Saturday the Fayette Photo Club met at Mr. Fowler's place. It was easy to find but you would never think from the highway that there is an auto junkyard of this size behind the white fence. When I arrived my first thought was where do I park? There is not a specific parking space except for those taken up by vehicles that will never move again (unless a tow truck is involved). There are rows and rows of these vehicles.
I am not good with years of cars but I can tell you I can't remember the last time I saw a Biscayne motoring down the highway. I saw a Biscayne Saturday but it wasn't motoring anywhere and did not look like it had been for quite a while. One car without and engine or much of a front end at all had written on the windshield (1945 Sudan).
What ever that is?? Sedan maybe?? There were old rusted cars from the 1960's and earlier and newer cars mixed together in rows. There was a Pacer there I had not seen a Pacer since the last time I watched the movie "Wayne's World." The rust spots spots?? some cars were nothing but rust and the cracked windows were interesting subjects to photograph.
The auto names were also interesting to me. I have one photo of the model name "Chevelle" with the last "E" hanging off at an angle. The rust design behind the name makes it interesting too. I brought along my gold reflector and made use of it a couple times.
We arrived at 3 p.m. and the sun was very bright. There was not a cloud is a brilliant blue sky. Saturday was definitely a day for the polarizing filter and lens hood. Even with the lens hood I shielded the lens with my hand a few times to prevent flare.
Some of the auto names and other features I was interested in were in a shadow compared to other parts of the vehicle in bright sun. I set the camera on the tripod clicked on the timer and stepped away with the reflector to shine a little "gold glow" on the spot I wanted highlighted in the photo.
All of the photos that day were taken in color the colors of the rusty cars and bright chrome were very photographic. I always take photos in color but then change them to black and white with my photo-editing software. The photos of the junk cars are just as interesting in black and white as they are in color. I can't decide with some of the photos if I like them better in color or not. An afternoon spent at Fowler's could give you an opportunity to complete a study of photos of cracked windows/windshields, flat tires, rust, old (and new) auto names --- you name it!
The "junkyard dog" was a friendly, blue-eyed, tail wagger. Not long after we arrived I was standing at the top of a row of cars setting up the camera for a long view shot of all the cars down that row. Off in the distance I see something running toward me.
As I am pressing the shutter button I notice it is a dog this dog is in two of my photos running toward me. All of those wild stories of junkyard dogs come flooding to my mind. This one is wagging his (or her I did not check) tail so much I hold on to the tripod and pet the dog on the head. Satisfied with sniffing me and getting a head pat the dog moved on to the next person.
I did not see the dog much again that afternoon but while wandering through the field I noticed by the souvenirs left behind something else lived there something larger than the dog.
After I negligently placed a tripod leg in a fire ant mound, it was one of those can I take the photo faster than those critters can hike up the leg to get to me I forgot about what had left those other mounds. I forgot until I heard a sound that made me think of Jurassic Park you know that sound like one of the dinosaurs is out of the pen? Well, this velociraptor turned out to be a shiny black cow.
As I stood out in the field of cars I watched the cow mosey along looking around in a very la-de-da sort of way.
One of the photo club members was out of town last Saturday. She was sorry that she was going to miss this outing. I told her when she returned that I would go with her to Fowler's so she could wander about and take interesting photos of vehicles that have not seen a road for years.
Now that I have been I think I have a couple ideas of things I really want to focus on the next trip there.
I might even take the junkyard dog a treat.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I can't remember the last time I watered the flowers in the yard I know it has been quite a while. The water restrictions and the drought really threw a wrench in the garden this year. We have been doing the bucket in the shower thing for a while now and we are getting quite a bit of water to keep some plants watered the ferns on the front porch, new pansies, etc. I bought this wonderful ginger lily at a local place (Turnipseed). I could not wait for August for it to bloom. Well, at this point I am happy it is still green. The zinnias I planted from seeds last spring are almost taller than I am and blooming like crazy. I am so surprised and how well they are coping. At the beginning of summer, I had some flowers in pots on the deck. The deck gets afternoon sun all afternoon until the sun goes down. It gets hot on the deck I mean hot like melt you flip flops hot. So, my flowers in pots on the deck kind of baked and died and since I figured the drought was around for a while I did not buy any replacements. What do you think I see BLOOMING from one of the pots? (a pot that held crispy remnants of marigolds) A hot pink zinnia!!! All I can think is it is a happy volunteer and I am pleased to see it.
Zinnias come in many varieties. One example of a zinnia is the typical single petal meaning just one row of the "ray flowers" making up the outside edge of the whole flower. A few blogs ago I mentioned the kind of flower a zinnia is a composite flower. A composite, remember, has ray flowers and those in the center area are called disc flowers two types of flowers in one bloom! Here is a link to show photos of various types of zinnia blooms http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/annuals/zinnias.html. I am not promoting purchase from this website I chose it because it shows the many varieties on one page. The variety called "State Fair" on this page looks similar to those I grew from seeds in my yard this summer. The "Profusion Cherry" looks like the volunteer plants in the pot on my deck. You know, I remember seeing those plants growing in the pot thinking I needed to pull up those weeds before they went to seed. Well, since they turned out to be such cute zinnias, I am glad I did not pull them up! I really thought they were volunteer petunias I have those appear occasionally in pots and in the back yard. The info on the State Fair plants say that they grow 36 inches s ome of mine are at least 48 inches tall or more. The zinnias have handled the heat and drought much better than my butterfly bushes (which are known to tolerate heat and drought well).
The butterflies love the zinnias. Daily I see three or more Gulf Fritillaries flying around them. Another butterfly I see often in the backyard all summer long is the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). Here is a link to see a photo of a Fiery Skipper http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recnum=BU0098. Sometimes you can spot them just sunning on a leaf they will spread their wings and be very still. They are fast and zip around from bloom to bloom. When they fly by me in the garden I can hear their wings beating it has a slight semblance to the sound you get from clipping a playing card to a bike wheel only not quite as loud. Another type of skipper I have seen in my yard frequently and I saw one at Lowe's a couple weeks ago is the Long-Tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus). This skipper looks like it sounds it has a long tail. Actually, the wings form what appears to be a tail. These little skippers don't look all that pretty; they appear brownish, until you see one in the sun and then the iridescent blue-green qualities of their body and wings. These are slightly larger than the Fiery Skipper. Here is a great link to see the Long-Tailed Skipper and its beautiful blue/green color http://www.duke.edu/~jspippen/butterflies/longtailedskipper.htm.
Another creature to look for on the zinnias is the crab spider they will live on the bloom and their body color will match the bloom for camouflage. Next year since I have been so impressed with the performance of the zinnias I will plant more seeds!
Friday, October 19, 2007
This makes me think more about the photos I took at
This is not a great time of year to not be "into" color though. The leaves are about to hit their peak for the season. This year is certainly not one of the best, but the colors I am seeing from the woods are enticing to say the least.
I have been watching the sumac at the edge of the woods in our yard. The leaves are turning that vibrant crimson color. In my yard I have many Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) shrubs growing at the edge of the wooded area. The foliage is pretty in summer when i t is green, but in the fall it turns a beautiful red.
The other variety common to this area is Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina). Sumac is part of the cashew family, yes, those delicious little nuts! Let's not confuse this Sumac with Poison Sumac. Native Americans used the fruit of Sumacs (Staghorn and Smooth) to make a pink lemonade of sorts. The fruit is collected, soaked and washed in cold water; this liquid is strained and sweetened to make the drink. No, I have not tried it.
Native Americans also have used the leaves and berries of the Smooth and Staghorn sumac mixed with tobacco as a smoking mixture. Sumac provides a tannin that will produce white or light-colored leather that is soft and supple. The roots of the Smooth Sumac yield a yellow dye.
I have some beautiful fall photos of the Sumac in my yard, the red leaves against the bright blue fall sky, a very striking photo. Hopefully I will get some others in the next couple weeks. I plan to take some at home and at the Line Creek Nature Area in
I am also seeing glimpses of bright yellow in the trees that are still green. This is a wild grape vine turning color. I have been told that the leaves of the wild muscadines do not turn yellow, so I am not sure what kind these are.
There are many state parks in
Side note: "Where did pink lemonade come from?" In my poking around for info for this blog, I found info on pink lemonade. One, or twelve, websites I visited about sumac likened the Native American drink to pink lemonade. Think about it --- are there any pink lemons? Wikipedia gives an interesting account to some 17 year old named Billie in the late 1800's. He was preparing a large batch of lemonade and a pair of red tights fell into the water by accident, giving the pinkish hue. The circus was opening, the crowd had already arrived, so no time left to make a fresh batch. I don't know about that story and who would want to drink lemonade that had tights soaking in it? I actually found a notice from the September 18, 1912 edition of the New York Times:
The death of Henry E. Allott will be mourned by the boys of the older generation. For he was the man whose red-coated cinnamon candies, dropped in a tub of lemonade, thereafter made the pink beverage popular wherever the traveling animals and chariots, the steam calliope, the band, the horseback ladies and funny clowns driving donkey wagons would draw up in front of the big tent after a parade. P. T. Barnum's show could not have evolved to the greatest show on earth without Henry E. Allott's pink lemonade."
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
This morning I woke up to the sound of coyotes yipping and it did not sound like it was that far away. Rosebud (our Australian Shepherd) sat up and peeped at me in the not-so-dark bedroom. She seemed send me a telepathic message of "I'm not going out there!" The only thing I could think about when I heard them, so close, was the little dog that lives across the street from us outside tied to a dog house. I plan to make a point to talk to the owners. We lived in
I am not one of these people that move to a more rural area or even suburban these days and wish to banish all the wildlife that poses a threat. When you move to an area you need to understand the wildlife was there first. It is not just the plants and trees that make an area what it is it is the life that is there. I toss out old salad stuff and apples to the rabbits that live in the woods behind my house. The same rabbits that I watched eat my liriope and Indian Hawthorn one winter. We bought netting to cover the new shrubs to try to save them. The rabbits then leaned onto the netting to get to the leaves! So we bo ught rabbit pellets at the local feed store that helped a little but I think they preferred the plants to the pellets. The next summer the netting we bought to keep the rabbits out of the bushes caught a snake on the patio. One day when I was checking the chemicals in the hot tub and I was walking all around it I spotted a snake tangled in netting very close to my foot. Actually I thought the snake was dead. It had been very hot and I figured the snake had been tangled and without water so long it had died. So I came into the house left it where it was to wait for my husband to get home from golf so he could deal with it. When he got home I took him to the patio to show him and the snake had moved and then it continued to move. Most people would have not tried to save the snake. But my husband did. He spent most of the afternoon cutting the snake loose from the huge tangled mess that it was. As he got closer and closer to the head I got more and more nervous. How to cut the head free without having that thing bite his hand? When there was not much besides the tangle at the head left I convinced him to wait while I called animal control. Thank goodness they are close and were not busy. The animal control officer was able to come over to help. She had a clamp-arm-kind-of-thing t hat she held the snake's head with while my husband finished clipping the last bits of the netting from around the neck (does a snake have a neck??). As soon as the snake was free it made for my pond! Before it could get to the pond the animal control officer grabbed it with the clamp and walked it down to the woods away from my pond and backyard area. I knew it would come back at some time so when I am out in the backyard I am always on the lookout for it. Are you ever in the yard and smell that cucumber scent? That smell always makes me think a snake is nearby. A couple weeks ago I saw a large snake that looked very familiar in the yard. I wondered if it was the same one.
A couple years after we moved here and my husband was out of town I was walking through the house at about 11 p.m. turning off lights and getting ready for bed. The kids had already gone to bed hours before this. As I approached the kitchen I saw one of my daughter's rubber snakes lying in the floor in front of the refrigerator. (She always had a snake around and when we visited museums or zoos she always had to get a new snake as a souvenir) I walked toward the snake and then I realized the head was up off of the floor. None of her snakes were like that. Then it flicked its tongue! I reached for the phone to call a neig hbor who lived across the street. Thank goodness they were up. She sent her husband over to help me out. While I was on the phone with her I watched the snake slide behind the basket I have beside the refrigerator. When my neighbor arrived he asked me where was the snake and my broom and dustpan. I handed the broom and dustpan to him and then I cautiously moved the basket. I kept hoping the snake would not go under or behind the refrigerator. It did not. He swept the snake into the dustpan and headed for the front door I ran ahead and opened it for him. He tossed the snake out into the yard. I thanked him and then he walked, barefoot, down through the yard where he had tossed the snake minutes before.
Living where I do there are times when I have to deal with nature. (Don't ask about the time the mouse had babies in the basement. Our wonderful cat brought a couple upstairs to "play" with she even let one loose under the Christmas tree!) I would not want to kill off everything around me that caused a problem for me at some time. The plants and animals make this place what it is. A few days ago I was driving to the grocery store I had to stop to let three turkeys cross the road (sometimes I have to stop while the deer cross in front of me). As I drove on down the road a little farther, I saw a box turtle almost at the edge. If the turtle had been just beginning its crossing of the road I would have stopped and help it along. I hate to see them hit by a car. The lizards that sneak into the house, the rabbits that eat my plants, or the swallows that build those muddy nests under my deck and make a mess on the patio they all have a place and a purpose. The coyotes have a place and a purpose as well they do help balance the wildlife in an area. Coyotes have a great knack to adapt to new surroundings. The geographic range for the coyote spans the entire North American continent from
Now photo news I have added a page to my website showing a few of the photos I took at
And personally we are about to begin a LARGE renovation project at our home it involves two floors and many rooms and well I think I need to buy that large economy-size bottle of Tylenol! Wish us luck!