Sunday, February 28, 2016

Roger's Inadvertent Tattoos

Back in December we caught a news story out of Australia about an aboriginal elder who had traveled from a remote island in Northeast Arnhem Land to Victoria to perform a special dance with his granddaughter on her graduation day. The photo of the two of them together was especially beautiful and evocative.
Seeing that grandfather's face made us wonder about the aboriginal peoples of Australia and also reminded us of the more well-known aboriginal people of New Zealand, the Maori. And somehow thinking of the Maori reminded Roger of their ancient art of tattooing. He remembered that they used soot in making the pigments for their tattoos. Then, we looked at Roger's hand where he still has two small bluish tattoos.

i have two marks rather permanently on the back of my left hand. one is small and almost hidden. the other is larger and more visible. i let them remind me not to be stupid. we had a wood stove. we had big leather gloves. dummy me would now and again be lazy and feed the fire sans gloves. some times, reaching into the firebox holding a piece of firewood in my naked hand, i would touch something hot. and retract my hand very quickly. sometimes bumping it on the hot sooty cast iron, tearing my oldster skin. yes. i did this twice. oh, there were uneventful naked hand fire feedings of course. and gloved feedings too. the second and larger wound convinced me to put the glove on always.

Thinking about the ancient art of tattooing made us google around looking for other old bearers of the skin permanently marked by the charcoal of ash. We couldn't believe who we found: Otzi, the Iceman!
His 61 tattoos were made the way Roger made his, although Otzi's skin was purposefully cut and marked, with "groups of lines or crosses. Unlike modern tattooing methods, the tattoos were not produced with needles but by means of fine incisions into which charcoal was rubbed." According to the Smithsonian Science News, Otzi's tattoos are the world's oldest.

It is interesting to consider how the face of a beautiful old grandfather sent us on this journey to Roger's ash infused scrape on a hot cast iron woodstove and then to Otzi and his ancient art. Thousands and thousands of years connected by fire and ash.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Shhhh...The Ducks Are Sleeping

A Teal Twosome
A Ruddy Duck Threesome
A Ruddy Duck Slumber Party
A Teal Slumber Party at low tide

Monday, February 22, 2016

Taking A Look Back

There's been a trend on Facebook to post beautiful nature photos on seven consecutive days to balance the craziness of the world. I participated back in November, posting photos of wildlife that I had photographed over the years. It was really fun to look back at all the bobcats, coyotes, sea otters and deer. A friend tagged me again in a post and asked me to post seven more nature photos. I thought about it and decided I would do it a second time. So, I looked back at some old photos on the blog and in my iPhoto library to see what beautiful sights I could come up with.

In my search, I came across a photo I took in March 2006, almost a full decade ago. We were still living up on the Olympic Peninsula and photographing the stunning Pacific northwest sights of eagles and the snow-covered Cascade mountain range, minus tides that went out forever, and foggy days that never seemed to end. The photo I found was taken on a rare blue-sky sunlit day. We had gone somewhere with a view to Indian Island across Port Townsend Bay off the Strait of Juan de Fuca. While we were out there we saw a nuclear submarine surface briefly. I photographed it, put it on the blog on March 20, 2006. Here's the photo.

When I looked at it all these years later, I noticed that the submarine seemed like it was hovering out of the water. That optical affect is a superior mirage (Update: I heard from Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics, and he said it is an inferior mirage. The wikipedia link explains those as well!).  I couldn't believe that I had photographed a submarine and a superior inferior mirage at the same time! What a wild surprise.

So the search for photos to post on Facebook yielded some nice looks back at the views we've seen over the years. Some of our friends and readers here on the blog are not on Facebook, so here is what I plan to post over the next week there, to balance the craziness of the world. Maybe it'll work here too.

Corona and tree in Grass Valley

Wavy iridescence in Grass Valley

Feathery sunrise clouds in Grass Valley

Sunset and sun pillar at the Santa Cruz lighthouse

Feeley Lake on the Round Lake Trail in Tahoe National Forest

A lovely tree in Grass Valley
Lighthouse at Fort Worden in Washington with the Cascade Range
I hope these views work, and that the world feels like a better place already!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Wildlife Out The Kitchen Window

One day I'm extolling the virtues of leaving wildlife to the wild lands, the very next day I look out the kitchen window and watch this juvenile Cooper's hawk land on the light pole. Oh yes, I was glad to see it!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why I Don't Miss Seeing Wildlife Out My Window

Roger and I have both spent many years living in the woods. There have been times we have been quite far away from "civilization"--

Fifty miles and a few years apart in the wild mountain forests
--when he was living in Seiad Valley in the late '70s and early 80s, and when I was living in the Illinois Valley in southern Oregon, on a piece of land near a very big wilderness area.

We've spent years together where we could not see a single light from a neighbor's house, no street lights, and only small country roads.
Bobcat on our driveway in 2012
I think back to those days a bit wistfully. I remember the bobcats and coyotes, the jack rabbits and skunks, the foxes, deer, bears, and raccoons that we saw out our windows or the markings they left behind. Broken fences, bird feeders down, scat on the driveway, feathers scattered near and far. It is a thrill to cross paths with such wildness. I knew when we moved to Arcata and chose to live in town, walking distance to the food co-op and the downtown plaza, the wildlife we would see would be very limited. It was a good choice, and I'll tell you why.

Lately I've been seeing video after video posted on Facebook of wild animals looking in through sliding glass doors and windows into the living rooms and kitchens of humans.

There's a video where a cat scares away a bear;
the one where a cat screeches at a bobcat;
the one where a mountain lion peers in.

There are so many of them.Yes, they are gorgeous. Yes, I love them. But the way I feel about it is that those beautiful wild animals belong there and those sliding glass doors and humans with their video-recording phones and domesticated pets DO NOT. We are encroaching on their habitat, what little of it that they have left. It is not always safe for them to cross paths with us. And, we are sadly leaving them so little choice.

In fact, we have left them so little room, the news has been full of photos of coyotes that have taken up residence in cities and towns. This is not good news.

There was even a photo just the other day of a starving sea lion that made its way into a restaurant in San Diego.

We have so encroached and poisoned their habitats that they have very little choice but to seek out new spaces that will ultimately be so dangerous for them. We need to give them space, lots and lots of wild clean spaces.

So while I have loved every time I crossed paths with a wild creature, I'm only joyous now when it's on their turf and not mine.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

One Of Us Has Been Busy

... and it hasn't been me.

We had five cubic yards of topsoil delivered last week, and Roger has been filling the wheelbarrow with load after load of it into the raised beds he built the week before.
Here is what the yard look like on February 1. The middle bed with the chard and lettuce has been productive since fall. Roger added the two slightly larger beds on either side of it last week. He also moved the one on the concrete so that it's at the foot of the beds. We did a little online research and found that it's okay to plant in a raised bed on concrete like this as long as there is sufficient drainage. There are two more beds around the corner of the house to the left. That side gets full on southern exposure.
Here is what the yard looks like now. Roger transplanted the chard into the new bed, so he could empty the old bed, move it so that it lines up with the new beds, and refill it with better soil. He created a lot of growing space in a yard that was never intended to be a garden. A beautiful transition.
On the narrow, sunny south side of the house are these two beds The one at the farside of the photo is deeper than the others. That's where our tomatoes will be planted. It's an experiment to see if we can actually grow some here during the foggy summer months.

There's a lot of space out front for all the flowers we want to plant to keep our  hummingbirds happy. We are looking forward to seeing what will grow and flourish here. This is our first-year experiment.

The reason I haven't been helping the busy one with all of this hard labor of love is that I am still dealing with my injured finger. It had been healing quite well until it developed a strange bump of a blister over the deepest part of the wound. I have been to the doctor's office twice and she thinks it will resolve over time. I have been soaking it three times a day in hot water (per her instructions) to encourage it to move on. So far, it's just a painful lump that prevents me from doing any heavy lifting in the garden. I'm so looking forward to the day when I can fully help. Oh, and I also found out on Monday that I need a root canal. Life just ain't fair sometimes.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Trinidad Lighthouse

View from the sandy parking area
we read in the local paper that the lighthouse on trinidad head would be open to the public on sunday, January 31st. so we went. we have been to trinidad head before and hiked the trail around it. a very dramatic setting. we parked by the beach and took a look and some pictures of the ocean and sky and shore, and headed up the narrow road, closed to cars, to the lighthouse. it’s about a half mile or so. some parts steep. on the way there are stunning vistas of the coast, which reminded us of our walks in fort worden in port townsend where we walked often. the same coastal plants and shrubs and mossy trees, the same nip in the winter air. today there was a brisk very chilly breeze. we were prepared.
This photo is from the lighthouse history page
the lighthouse itself is a rather unimposing. a square brick building some 24 feet tall. its location though is quite dramatic. perched on a rock outcropping 190 nearly vertical feet above the ocean. the original light is gone. replaced by a modern high-tech thing that isn’t even inside the tower. Here's a link to some details of lighthouse history. I think the thing I found most interesting is that this little lighthouse was built in 1871. That's a very long time ago in California time. This is a fairly remote and hard-to-get to part of the coast, even now. Back then it must have been wild.
One of the cool things about going to the lighthouse on this day was that the Bureau of Land Management, which helps manage it, had one of their employees come dressed as the wife of the second lighthouse keeper. She quite enthusiastically shared the stories of what her life was like back then in the late 1800s, on this coast with her husband and three children. She was delightful, and the stories were grand. We listened while we waited for our turn to ascend.
View from inside the lighthouse
the ladder from the entry room up to the lantern room where the light should be is very steep. there is room for only 3 or 4 people up there. killer view (see above).


 the original light was a revolving fourth-order Fresnel lens.
 it lived on this post arrangement inside the lantern room.
the new high tech electric light.

 when we were ready to leave. robin pointed out the sign saying “face ladder to descend.” 
so we did. this woman is descending properly. It is straight down.

This photo is from the local newspaper, not us, but close enough!
we got to be alone for a bit when we were up at the top. This is what we must have looked like to the people waiting in line for their turn to come up the narrow ladder.

We had a great time and were really glad we ventured out on sunny Sunday morning. We arrived right on time when the touring had just begun, and had only a ten minute wait to take our turn at the top. The newspaper on Monday reported that more than 400 people came to see the lighthouse that day. 

This post was a joint effort by your Dharma Bum hosts. Roger types only in lowercase.