Reflecting on Refractions or How I Meet Myself At The Door

I’ve been cogitating, incubating, hatching, scrambling, meditating, and kicking my muse in the arse over his lack of inspiration. As all good researchers do these days I turned to Google for inspiration material.  All sources pointed to three necessary ways to create fractures. Water for submerging, or containers or vessels of water, colored paper, and flashlights. Macro photography of wee droplets of glycerine holding an exact copy of the image it sits near, actual or Photoshopped. One clever fellow used a terrific setup consisting of complex placement of objects, colored photo gels, and removing the lens from his camera. He obviously doesn’t live with a dog and three cats.

I was getting tired of ways to reflect refractions and still coming up short. I wanted to try the droplets, but alas, no flowers and no glycerine. I also felt, damn, it was nice the first time I saw it, but frankly, it doesn’t spin my squirrel cage anymore. I still wondered if I could capture detail in a REAL droplet.

Day three dawned with a hard freeze and heavy fog. Perfect weather for refractions. I waited two hours for the sun to pop through, hit the frost edges in my prairie, and pop those sparks into mind-blowing highlights. I drank a cup of coffee and linked to the computer channel, waiting for Operation Migration, and the Whooping Crane chicks to finally leave Marquette County. Their Ultralight went up and came down, cancelled, too choppy, big sigh. I may love this county, but I can’t imagine their crew hanging here for two weeks.

I drank another cup of coffee, lollygagged through Facebook, looked out the window and the frost had melted without the sun coming through! Well burn my butt, that idea trickled down the hill with the rest of the morning dew. I risked madness anyway, heck, I’m already a full bubble off – grabbed my camera and went out to try to find some drops still clinging to the leaves. I say, I got soggy jammy pants laying on my stomach trying to capture light through frost still clinging to my ground-cover evergreens. Some nice photos of leaves in the wet grass and dew drops, more bokeh than refraction.

Day four, did I tell you there was a challenge in this challenge? Today it rained! It poured! Had the light and opportunity presented itself I might of had a chance to get some photos shot through a rain-slopped windshield. I had my pocket camera set up to shoot video of my horse today. She decide to inspect the camera. Got great footage of the camera rolling off the pallet and bouncing across the sand before landing lens down. Of course, it was the type with the shutter on the outside. Always hated that shutter.

Lucky me, I still have my DSLR. I was getting soaked when I got home, but I wrapped my real camera in a plastic bag and went out back looking for the puny fairy droplets that cling to trees. I finally found a few with real refractions. I’m sure to shame myself among the gifted photographers that actually do macro photography. One day, I will catch a BIG refraction, after reflecting long and hard on how it’s accomplished. Late October in Wisconsin is not a very good time for refractions. I figure I’ve done enough reflecting on this subject for now. I’m off to ponder another subject, a good days rest. Thanks for stopping by.

Weekly Photo Challenge/Refractions

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Please Fence Them In

SAM_2966OOblog

Give me land

lots of land

under starry skies above

keep your dogs

and your cats

in your homes

and your yards

please fence them in

While I ponder

why my garden

once again

fails to thrive

the tartar-yellowed dog

dully, duly, dutifully

crosses from his pristine yard

to mark his pissted cross in mine

what say you

when spring comes

snow leaves

ice melts

on leaves

piles

November December January

February and March

his gifts to me

will be returned to sender

Daily Prompt: Good Fences? 

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Happy, happy, joy, joy – I love me most of all

Happy, happy, joy, joy, loving me, loving you! Nothing makes me smile faster than watching any of my critters at play. Lucy Dog, loves Frisbee, backwards in the snow. The three cats roll over one other around a sprinkling of catnip. Coo, our wee parrot, loves his swim-swims. Even the two fish in the tank get excited and wag their tails like eager puppies when visited.

The happiest times come from interaction with my mare, Maggie. Letting her off the line to dance at liberty and enjoy her own reflection in the barn mirrors and windows allows her personality to come out. She’s simply overjoyed visiting her own image.

Maggie’s an alpha, or top, boss horse in the herd. In a herd all horses live within a hierarchy. She’s kind and gentle, but very confident and certain of her leadership ability. If she were human, I suppose she’d be a tad conceited, but I think she’d enjoy a good belly laugh over her own antics. I think Maggie finds her happy happy, joy joy in her free dance.

Daily Prompt:Happy Happy Joy Joy

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OMG – I’m officially a senior citizen or Live long enough this happens

My mentor!

It took less than thirty seconds to realize I was now a senior citizen. Not that I didn’t already know that my birthday had put me into that category. Renewing my driver’s license this August and looking at my new seven-year mug shot firmly drove that home.

Each visit to my doctor’s office requires the explanation that I’m not paying my bill with Medicare part D. My husband’s younger than me by several years, still working, and I’m covered by his employer’s medical insurance plan. The law states they can’t throw me out of their coverage because of age. One added benefit of having married a younger man. I’m more Miss Kitty at 100 than cougar.

Last summer I reunited with a Ohio cousin I hadn’t seen since I was eleven. We met at the house of a third cousin who hadn’t seen the Ohio one since she five or so. Our paternal grandmothers’ were very close sisters, but the families drifted apart sometime after my grandfather died in 1956. That would have been shortly after the three families had last visited.

While looking through the old photo’s we had each brought, stories exchanges, genetic similarities, and attempts to trace our ancestors, my long lost Ohio cousin looked at me and said I resembled my mother. That was the aching proof that my youth was gone forever. For the majority of my life, I’d resembled my father. Until he’d reached his late sixties, my father was tall, lean and physically fit with a youthful face younger than his years. When he did age, it seemed to happen overnight.

My mother already appeared to be old by the age of thirty. I only remember her laughing once during her lifetime and there are no photos of her smiling. Until now, the only part of me I inherited from her was her over-sized, Belgian-French nose, which is a direct genetic link to my material grandfather. I’ve since been told by distant cousins that the ‘nose’ did appear in other branches of the family, but in mine it only landed, like a piece of Mount Rushmore, in the middle of my face.

I grew up with dad’s sorta roundish baby face, plump lips (before they were stylish), and a body built along the lines of a couple of six foot long 2″x 4″s nailed together. I was also thin before that was fashionable. I guess I was years ahead of the curve, or the ‘curve’ was years ahead of fashionable me!

When I was in my thirties I was turned away from bars with an legitimate drivers license. In my mid-forties people were still asking what college was I going to. Applying for jobs (back in day when it was still required to put your age on your application), I would be turned down for lying about my age. I’ve had a couple of friends, one who was a few years younger than me, that were asked numerous time if they were my mother (ouch).

There’s something about aging that seems to hit innocently from the young. Mine was the first time the bag boy at the grocer called me mam.  Possibly he was simply raised to have good manners, but I hadn’t been told in a couple of years, “no, you don’t look that old!”. Time was creeping up.

A few years ago I attended a photographers weekend getaway. It was the second year in a row I’d gone. The previous year I’d had a terrific time, lot’s of laughter, new friends to make, great photography. The second event seemed to drag on forever. Their was a lot less laughter, the weather sucked, people were not inclined to friendships, and the photographs were terrible.

One of the weekend organizers took candid shots of the breakaway groups during sessions and I saw myself in a couple of them. I was so shocked at how much I’d aged, how much time I’d spent trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear that I gave it all up. It would be the last time in my life I’d waste time trying to ‘look my best’. Since looking at those two photos I’ve only bothered to wear makeup once or twice a year. Now my hair is almost always in a ponytail. I’ve given up trying to battle gravity, genetics, and things that need fixing but aren’t in the budget.

Yesterday, a Tuesday, I drove north forty-five minutes to another town to shop for groceries.  Our normal shopping town had a very nice, high quality, meat, fish market and deli. Unfortunately it closed a few weeks ago. The next town north supplied some of his products so it became the logical place to replace some of the lost products. One of the disadvantages of rural living, nothing is convenient.

Wearing very old, worn hiking boots, over-sized wool socks with the tops slouched down, black leggings and a hooked parka left over from the days I was 45 pounds heavier, I grabbed a shopping cart and entered the store. I’m currently in my Buddy Holly stage of life. Trying to find glasses that look good on my lopsided face is a zero return so I’ve opted for plain black frames that darken in bright light. Of course, they never lighten either, so I figure wrinkles and bags under my eyes are pretty well hidden most of time. I recently cut my own bangs, and I’ve cut them crooked. Trying to correct the problem made it worse. Oh well, at my age, what does it matter. I had to untangle my pony tale from the snap on the back collar of my coat so most likely it looked like half a dozen dogs have just come from greeting one another in the park.

My husband wants me to wear a sign pinned to my back while shopping that reads, ‘medicated for your When I get oldown protection’. I tend to get frustrated with the people that park in the middle of narrow isles and ignore oncoming traffic. At least early on a Tuesday afternoon, there weren’t any children playing gotta have, gimme this, where did momma go, or the family of seven all shopping using one cart with separate check-outs in line. It actually was pretty simple. I actually laughed at the bellowing cow mooing over the store speakers in the product section as I entered. Why the cow moos in produce and not meats I’ll never understand. Is it related to manure, makes fertilizers, which grows healthy produce? Doubt it.

Shopping done and ready to check out I’m actually directed by a young man to a empty isle. I think this is a first for me. There’s even get a second person bagging my purchases. This is service. The cow is still mooing in produce. I’m telling the young man how pleased I’m am with my shopping experience and the wide variety of products they had available, that it will help with my love of Hungarian cooking. He explained his school trip to Austria last year. The first day they served his class Austrian food and he loved it. He was looking forward to experiencing more European cuisine. The second day he sat down to dinner and they were served chicken nuggets and french fries. The remainder of the class trip all they got to eat was American cafeteria  meals. He was so disappointed. Probably the only trip he’ll make in his life and he’ll only have one memorable meal.

As my grocery bill  totaled I noticed a credit popped up on the bottom of the screen. He tore off the receipt and handed it me. “Have a nice day,” I said to him and walked to my car. After placing the bags in the trunk I opened my wallet to look at the receipt and figure out what the credit was for. My regular grocery store states, “Amount saved today” – this read, “Senior Discount 5%”. OMG – I’d been caught in public, not even asked, blatantly exposed,  the best days are behind me, I qualify without asking … I’m over the hill!

Wikipedia defines Senior citizen as: It is used in general usage instead of traditional terms such as old personold-age pensioner, or elderly as a courtesy and to signify continuing relevance of and respect for this population group as “citizens” of society, of senior rank.

Shut up or communicate, please

My father taught me focused driving on the streets of Chicago with a single statement that still sticks fifty years later. “Always drive as if the OTHER GUY IS DRUNK!” That was decades before I’d heard the term defensive driving course. I’ve amended that statement since the ubiquitous use of cellphones and texting while driving.  “Always drive as if the other person is DRUNK, DEAF, AND BLIND! No talking was allowed while we were in traffic.  Totally pay attention, shut up and drive.

Fifty years later, robo-phone zombies attempt to cross streets, push shopping carts, park cars, eat in restaurants, travel, and download and play games designed for jogging or walking and cheat death by driving. I think cell phones actually make more sense as  wristwatches.  Two things could be done at once while talking.  Think of a hurried upper management office filler, stuffing their face with a hot Cinnabon and talking simultaneously with a full mouth. You could plan that week long visit with your mother-in-law while running short on time and drying your hair on the high setting.

Certain people tend to talk with their hands.  If the phone could also transmit video the person receiving the call could choose to cut it short, or remember to take daily Dramamine. I think it would be convenient for dog owners. The loved one on the other end could share in the joy of Spuds repeated barking while waiting for the shush of the successful Frisbee fling in a November gale.

Go ahead, scratch your face, itch your scalp, pick your nose, boil water, wave to the neighbors and keep on talking. Billions upon billions of words – invisible symbols of language hanging in cyberspace waiting for an electronic signal to coalesce into communication, or numbing mindless chatter.

No video yet but getting closer.

Why am I so off center from a nature blog and into a rant? We’re in the middle of having our house re-roofed. I mean a total rebuild of our four-seasons room and a portion of the house roof. The damaged structure has already been removed and is open to the sky. Going on four weeks, four voice-mails, and nine emails over schedule. Finally, one subcontractor showed up a week ago. I could tell something was wrong. The two guys that were working the roof were jumpy, they didn’t want the whip around. This week we got some rain and 4-1/2 hours work our of the two regular guys, plus a visit from the whip who talked to our insurance adjuster, and then disappeared again.

During the entire process I’ve been stressing communication, communication, communication. Just call me and let me know what is going on, are the contractors coming out, not coming out, what’s the hold up, where are we going?

These are not the only people I’ve scheduled with this week that were supposed to follow up and failed. All this advanced technology, instant communication, wasted time,  while society remains firmly attached to cell phones, but accomplishes nothing. Is the cell phone the new excuse for malingering, hiding, or wasting employers time and money?

What about a lack of social skills? People are actually walking around pretending to talk into silent phones simply because they don’t want to appear out of place or unwanted. Come on, how many people does it really take to manage our modern lives on a daily basis. How many humans are being micro-managed to death via constant contact through smart phones.

Personally, I preferred the old way.  I  called a company and a live person answered the call. Someone cared about the company image, product, or my concern. If this really is progress. I really want a watch phone able to record and transmit video.  I want someone to finally answer their smart phone with video capability when I call. I want them to see which part of my anatomy is giving a shit because they can’t shut up or communicate, PLEASE!

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Anxiety, life’s surprises, and remembering to exhale

I suffer from Intention Deficit Disorder. The best of plans fall short, come off half-baked, or if successful, the credit always goes to someone else.  After the bottom fell out of the fortieth rebuild on my life a few years ago, I’ve been figuratively sitting in the last row of the theater watching life pass by. Sighing a lot, I’ve noticed a nasal whistle-like sound as I exhale. I was born into a stress filled life and have never been able to shake it.

I wake to a belly tightened by adrenaline and force myself to inhale. Anxiety causes difficulty breathing. Most times I’m not aware I’m holding my breath as if I were trying to slow the forward forces of life while I figure out my next do-over. My last ‘life’ ship took ten years to build and sank with several irreplaceable portions within four short months.

After a five-year dry land existence. I’m building a new ship. Most likely. this one will always be a leaky work in progress. Perhaps I’m just feeling time running short.  I’ve lost competitive and marketable skills.  Creatively and financially when something goes kaput it’s a long time before a replacement comes along. The strength to move obstacles just doesn’t exist.

As change creeps in, time heals, even if the scars remain. I’m gradually learning it’s necessary to inhale and exhale even during times of tension. A boat will break its bonds if kept tight at all times.  Line allowed to give against the pressure of the water will keep the boat in place.

I stood in the rain on a rural highway bridge over the Fox River in Marquette County, Wisconsin. My husband waited patiently in the car while the property owner looked on (I told him I envied his bit of heaven).  I took a few pics with my pocket camera. When I processed the wetlands photos this one left me breathless.  Please leave a few words and let me know, did you inhale or exhale?

SAM_2305OOblog

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/daily-prompt-safety/

ROAD TRIP

I know that bungling through wildlife areas and marshes behind the wheel of a car makes about as much sense as exploring the Arctic Ocean wearing a bikini while skateboarding. Neither process is going to actually get me up close or down into range of smelling wild roses. Nature areas, by design, keep people at a distance to protect native habitats and the birds, mammals and fish that allow for seasonal exploration, hunting and fishing opportunities for the bit of nature lover or cave dweller among us.

The paradox of nature areas is that if not for hunters, there would be no protected and restored areas to visit now. Approximately seventy-five years ago, the great sportsmen’s clubs started to realize their opulent lifestyle was disappearing. These were men with money, big business owners and politicians. Luckily, they also had foresight and the ability to organize, plan, and purchase properties that had been ill-suited for anything but marginal farming.

These groups eventually became dozens of citizen’s action organizations and land protection agencies. In Wisconsin, we now have a great diversity of public lands for recreational activities. By purpose or accident, the planners of these areas also ignored accessibility to prime viewing areas and zones by anyone unable to hike in. The exception is that All Terrain Vehicles are often permitted during hunting season.  Preserved areas, therefore, become available only to the physically able. And I’m not very capable or trusting of my abilities to walk very far anymore. I’m in a place where a great many citizens find themselves nowadays, viewing nature from a distance, looking for small signs of movement, blurs, flashes of colors or the very rare, but lucky roadside view.  I explore with greatly limited access.

Forget access roads, few exist in Wisconsin nature areas. I’m lucky if I can find a place to park a single car. I gave up looking for marked trails. I hiked many a deer trail only to find no view at the end. Whitetail don’t give a bleat about the view beyond dinner service between their agile hooves. The areas that show trails on their maps probably haven’t been maintained for many years. I found rows of full-grown trees and fence line weaving in and out of what should have been clearly marked trail.

Grand River Marsh Wildlife Area is 7,000 acres located mostly in Green Lake and a small portion in Marquette County, Wisconsin. Not a long drive via map, however the only roads in are also the only roads out so it’s necessary to repeat yourself to get home.

Hubby was home on vacation and he promised me a road trip. Road trip to me is, follow me into the wetlands and no complaining, okay?

“No problem, will I be back in time to run the Path of Exile race at 3 pm?”

My watch read a little after 11 am so I nodded yes with confidence. I didn’t feel there was any need to speak since he probably wouldn’t hear me anyway. He still had his computer headphones on and the sound cranked up.

I gathered up my trusty Wisconsin Southern Coverage All-outdoors Atlas and Field Guide by Sportsman’s Connection. I love this spiral bound wish book of all the places I want to drive to and manage to find my way out of. It’s my version of hitchhiking through Europe and a great African Safari. Will I really get lost or will I manage to find my way home. I don’t have a GPS or a smart phone. Just my Atlas, a standard compass and dumb ass cell phone that pings off every other cell tower like an electronic billboard with a new message from my provider. The big wave of the future will be the mass flushing of cell phones.

“Here we go surfing now, everybody’s surfing now…” I’m bobble-heading while sitting in the car waiting for hubby.

The car console contains water bottle, mine, big honking green energy drink, hubby’s, two cell phones, binoculars, camera, two sets of car keys, Atlas, we are ready to launch the little Kia Spectra on a new adventure.

Still buckling his seat belt, “You sure you know where you’re going?”

I try to arch my left eyebrow but the weight of the neck wrinkles win the pull of gravity and all I manage is a slow upward slide of my eyes.

“Duh, yeah …but be prepared, it’s going to be a long drive,” I reminded him.

“So kay, no problem, did you bring my camera?”

We’re already on the highway. “No…I asked if you wanted ‘YOUR’ camera because remember, you’re responsible for bringing ‘YOUR’ camera along,” I repeated for the twentieth time on the twentieth road trip.

“Damn, I hate your camera, useless thing!”

“Well, I’m not too fond of it either, but it fit’s better than the full size one for this kind of trip. We can always take video if we get lucky and see any White Birds.”

About then I’d driven down County Highway B and entered Green Lake County. I was always surprised when I drove south and east and found myself in Green Lake County. I regularly drove north by east to get to the same county to get to my boarded horse. I did mention we would be driving in a big loop with no exit. This is about the time my thinking gets, well, constipated, and I have to pull over to the side of the road and check the map again. I feel topsy-turvy, but I’m actually just south of normal, if there is such as thing as normal for me.

We’re into Amish country now, but surprised that no buggies are on the road. Don is trying to note where any Amish stores are, clearly disappointed they’re not open. The Amish stores sell yummy baked goods and in season have the finest honey in the area. All the head rotations a lapsed Southern Baptist can pull off still won’t open an Amish bakery on a Thursday.

I’ve turned off Highway B and onto Highway H. It’s a pretty drive, through wooded glades and curves reminiscent of times past when this was a summer resort area for the less than wealthy. Only a couple of campgrounds remain in the area now, tucked between the narrow, sluggish Grand River and much larger but equally shallow Lake Puckaway.

It’s been a while since I’ve been out this way and I missed the turn, even though hubby pointed out the weather tattered ‘Wedding’ sign hanging under the mailbox. I suspect that sign was placed there long before Estella left. A half-mile up the road I realize I’m looking at potato fields and Havisham’s corner was the turn.

Google Space Map was a fresco painted of forgiveness, use, abuse, repair, poor patching, making do and attempts to improve land for the use of the public. Eighteen reclaimed farms spread across my computer screen like faded wallpaper in an abandoned farmhouse parlor, half the roof gone, still a faint pattern after decades of sunlight and storm exposure. Amid the scabs of field edges previous scars of mounds and effigies left by people who inhabited the region prior to the farmers. Today’s field trip is edging close to a time trail of Native Peoples, failed farmers, hunters, conservationists, and day-trippers. The alterations to these lands will take generations to erase.

I’ve finally reached Grand River Road and I surge along between 30 and 5 knots, steering over a white-water of potholes washing under the poorly maintained road. As Commander of the wee imaginary bumper boat, Spectra, I’m weaving off one side of the road, down the center, and off-center again. Slowing for yet another pitfall, I glance at my husband and notice his love handles take longer to rise than fall.  I tilt sharply to the right to avoid another rut.

“HOLE,” yells hubby as both hands fly up and clutch his seat belt to his heart.

My pretend bumper boat flips to a stop as the left side of my head pinged off the window like a moth against a porch light. Of course, now an oncoming truck is approaching and a second one is moving up behind us. Not another car on the road until we find the possible entrance to the River Styx and a nanosecond to breath deeply and plunge axle deep and rise on a swell of gratitude with tires intact on the other side. I pull off to the side of the road while both trucks roll up what’s left of the broken concrete and take their individual piece of hell with them.

We’re at one of the pools where I enjoy stopping to swatch a wide variety of birds. Today nothing is happening. Hubby has the binoculars and he’s thrilled to spot a Grebe diving on the pond. We both make a full  sweep of the sky and adjacent area just in case a Whooping Crane might be in the about but nothing is hovering except dragonflies.

Farther along the road I hear, “Joe Pye Weed!”

A minute later, “ Look, Turk’s Cap Lilies!

“Did you see the pink Swamp Milkweed?” I asked. He’d missed that. I puzzled over his ability to identify Joe Pye Weed.

Eventually, the ‘improved road’ ended and we continued to the end of the drive on a nice flat graded gravel road. I loved the sound of crunching under the wheels, reminding me of an entire theater full of moviegoers chowing down of fresh, hot, buttered popcorn. When we ran out of road we found the gate to the dam open.  Unaware if there was parking down the access road we played if safe and parked at the road head and walked in. The view from the dam end of the marsh was lovely, a soft haze resting upon the horizon. A golf cart clattered past us, six family members hanging on to various handles and uprights. They pulled in and turned around at the dam and realized that our walking was our exercise for the week.

Reaching the spillway, we found the family, grandfather, son, oldest grandson, probably a preteen, and a couple of preschoolers, a boy and girl. Both preschoolers were wearing sandals as they romped over the gravel and rocks looking for insects and critters in the marsh grasses. The girl dressed for dinner out, a black sequined top dress with a sheer nylon skirt. Any fashionista posing for paparazzi would look stunning in it.

She ran up to us while her brother sailed into the cattails.  “What are you looking for,” she boldly inquired.

“Elephants…” replied my husband.

POKE … indentation meets love handle.

“What!” he exclaimed. “Could be, why let her down.”

I looked at her puzzled face just before she ran off behind her sidekick. They turned and charged back down the slope.

“Please be careful, I don’t want you to fall and hurt yourself on the rocks,” I asked her, concerned for her safety.

“Oh let her be, it’ll heal by the time she gets married,” my husband mumbled.

I couldn’t help it. I smiled.

The closest to wildlife we’d encountered were the deep resounding burps of a couple of frogs while walking the path to the dam. It was disappointing not to find birds of any type. We started the walk back to the car.

“You are a Whooping Crane,” my husband told me, “you’ve got long legs.”

“Yeah, I know – and a beak,” I reminded him.

“But wait,” he said, “you’ve got red hair.”

“… and you’re a white chick!”