Monday, November 20, 2017

Watching a Crow Decide Whether to Stay or Fly Away

I Found the Crow First on a Power Line

I'm trying to get back to walking again to get stronger, so after I got attached to my Holter monitor this morning I walked all over Posada Lane and behind MedWorks to a drainage ditch. I took almost 300 photos, some of which you will see in future posts. But today I will show you the crow I followed. I first saw it when I had walked over to Las Tablas Road toward the hospital to get a shot of where they are rebuilding a medical complex that burned down a year or two ago. Then I heard some cawing and looked up.  That's when I saw it.

Watching a Crow Decide Whether to Stay or Fly Away
Crow on a Power Line. Will it Fly Away? © B. Radisavljevic

It appeared that the crow couldn't decide whether or not to fly to the tree. Eventually it made a decision and flew away. That was almost the end of the story. Until I walked back around the corner to Posada Lane.

My First Introduction to Crows

I've seen crows around all my life, but I first learned a bit about what they were like when I read Blacky the Crow by Thornton Burgess.  I highly recommend the Burgess animal stories for getting children acquainted with nature in a fun way.

I Find the Crow Again

I was almost back to where my car was parked when I stopped to take this photo. I had never noticed this tree before. The color resembled a sycamore at this time of year, but the leaves were wrong. A woman walked by, saw me with a camera, and asked me if I were taking a picture of the hawk. I told her I was taking a picture of the tree and was trying to figure out what it was. She said, "It's an oak." I knew the leaves were the right shape, but I'd never seen oak leaves so big. 

Watching a Crow Decide Whether to Stay or Fly Away: Photos from a Nature Walk
Red Oak, © B. Radisavljevic

This is my go-to book when trying to identify my local trees in San Luis Obispo County. It's written by a professor at Cal Poly.

There are some cheaper copies at eBay if you prefer that to Amazon.

As I found out later, she was right about the tree, but wrong about the "hawk." It turned out to be my elusive crow, or its friend. There were two of them. This is the one that stayed in one place long enough for me to get a shot. 

Watching a Crow Decide Whether to Stay or Fly Away: Photos from a Nature Walk

Another crow began to circle and call and it flew to the next tree. Finally this bird decided to follow. 

Watching a Crow Decide Whether to Stay or Fly Away: Photos from a Nature Walk
Crow in Flight, © B. Radisavljevic

I think being among the birds and the trees had a healing effect today. How often do you take nature walks?

Watching a Crow Decide Whether to Stay or Fly Away: Photos from a Nature Walk

What is your favorite way to interact with nature?


Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Lovely End to a Peaceful Sunday

Health Issues Have Plagued Me This Week

It's been a rocky week with a heart that would not settle down and beat the way it should. It either raced or my blood pressure dropped really low. It hit a peak on Thursday leaving me almost unable to function to meet my basic needs. I would get dizzy walking from the bedroom to the kitchen or even sitting at my computer. I felt really old.

A Lovely End to a Peaceful Sunday

I haven't had any new episodes yesterday or today, so I'm hoping I'll be able to drive again before the family Thanksgiving Celebration in Fresno. People are praying and I'm hoping. My husband can't drive that soon after his cataract surgery on Tuesday. All plans are moment by moment. But today had a beautiful ending. I'm blessed with a beautiful church family.

A Busy Week Ahead

The beginning of the week is full of medical stuff. Both I and my husband have appointments -- me to get a Holt monitor for my heart, and Hubby to have cataract surgery. We do not know yet if we will be staying or going away for Thanksgiving. People have offered help whether we go or stay home. I really appreciate the offer to bring dinner over Thursday and another to drive us to Fresno if we are well enough to go.

We also have to choose a new Medicare plan soon if we are going to. There are bills to pay and decisions to make and I'd love to stick my head in book and pretend it isn't so. But tomorrow I'll  do what I need to do as God gives the strength.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful for such a gorgeous sunset. And tomorrow will be another new day.

A Lovely End to a Peaceful Sunday

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere

Many of my Neighbors Have Sycamore Trees

When I walk down to get the mail or even go into my own yard, there are sycamore leaves everywhere at this time of year. These were in a neighbor's yard.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere

It almost goes without saying that the sidewalks will be full of leaves. So are the gutters beside the curb.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Girl Walking Dogs on the Sycamore Leaf-Strewn Sidewalk, © B. Radisavljevic

The sycamore trees in the yards blow leaves onto and into the hedges and shrubs. You can see that below. They also wander onto the sidewalks and collect beside the curbs where the cars park.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Leaves under Sycamore Tree, © B. Radisavljevic

 I have a sycamore tree next door and another almost right across the street, so the leaves are always blowing into my yard. I had to get me a pair of these leaf grabbers to get them out of my flowerbeds. They go where my rakes can't.

See what I mean? A normal leaf rake would be too wide and need to scrape from the bottom. They are great for the lawn and sidewalks, but not not so great among the flowers and herbs.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Leaves around my Scabiosa Flower and Herb Bed, © B. Radisavljevic

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Leaves around my Gazanias and Herbs, © B. Radisavljevic

I guess that's why some people get leaf blowers, but I hate the noise they make. They just blow the leaves somewhere else where they may make your neighbors mad, or they could even come back to you if the wind changes. If you don't care about all that and just want the convenience, this is a good one.

If you don't want to bend over and you don't like the noise of the power leaf blowers, this might help you. It reaches into those hard places and brings them out where you can get them without tromping on your flowers.

Not all leaves are as easy to reach as those Mother Nature lets land on top of shrubs and hedges, like this juniper.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Sycamore Leaves on Juniper Bush, © B. Radisavljevic

Juniper, holly, and some other bushes where leaves land can be prickly and not much fun to touch while you are getting the leaves off them and into your bag. Of course, gloves can also help with that. And you can use them when you prune your roses, too.

The grabbers are especially useful for grabbing sycamore and other really large leaves that tend to stick in the tines of rakes. You can also use them to drop leaves directly into a bag or can easily. I even use them on the lawn when too many blow leaves blow over from nextdoor.

It's Time to Tackle those Leaves, Sycamore or Not

I hope the tool suggestions above will help you if you've been using your old leaf rake forever and want something that works better. Since I hate the noise, I use the grabbers. They would help free this baby oak from the mulberry, oak, and sycamore leaves almost covering it.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Autumn Leaves Smothering Baby Oak Tree, © B. Radisavljevic

Rakes are useful in cleaning up the gutters beside the curb -- until you get to the parked cars.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere
Sycamore Leaves on Sidewalk and Gutter around Car Tire,  © B. Radisavljevic

Those sycamore leaves really do go everywhere.

Sycamore Leaves Everywhere: Clean them up with the right tools.

Do you have a sycamore tree in your yard? Does a close neighbor have one? How do you deal with the leaves?


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Blessings in Disguise

Unexpected Blessings from an Inconvenience

If you have followed my last two posts, you know that I went for a photo walk on Wednesday and lost all but five of my 71 photos I took on my block. Seems I had a bad SanDisk. I was fortunate that all the photos were within quick walking distance and could be reshot. The plan today was to replace the shots I lost.

 Off I went with my camera. It was a beautiful day. Wednesday had been dark and overcast. One of the shots I had planned to reshoot was this pomegranate tree. I loved the sign at the bottom.

Blessings in Disguise
Loaded Pomegranate Tree with Sign, © B. Radisavljevic

I Left with Just a Camera and  Came Back with Much More Than Photos

Today as I walked by the tree I noticed someone was there, but it appeared to be a workman. I thought I'd ask anyway if the tree was his. He said it belonged to the homeowner, but he was authorized to let me have some fruit. He picked two lovely pomegranates for me and I brought them home.  Aren't they beautiful? The man who picked them for me told me they were ripe when they cracked. I never would have known that.

Blessings in Disguise
A Gift of Pomegranates,  © B. Radisavljevic

A Chat with the Neighbor Who Owns the Other Pomegranate Tree

I found Judy back in her front yard today, and stopped to chat and take pictures of her garden. I had noticed on Wednesday that all the pomegranates had been picked, so I figured she was planning to use them.  That's one reason I'm so glad the other neighbor shared. As we were talking, the neighborhood cat came up to us. I mentioned him in What's Going on in Kitty's Mind a couple of weeks ago.  He was a bit friendlier this time. I found out his name is Mack and that the neighbors want to fatten him up because he had been sick and not eaten. I didn't realize until I unloaded my photos that while I was trying to photograph him, Judy and I were both in the photo with him -- in shadow form.

Blessings in Disguise
A Shadow Chat over a Cat, Literally. © B. Radisavljevic

Then I caught Mac with his shadow.

Blessings in Disguise
Just a Cat and his Shadow, © B. Radisavljevic

We actually did chat about more than the cat. We talked about her plants and I found out the names of some of them I didn't know. Then she told me she had just dug out some bulbs she didn't want and offered them to me. She thinks they are daffodils. I can always use more of those, but it means I'll have to start working in my garden again. I really need to do that.

I didn't have anything but my pocket to carry the bulbs in, but I stuffed them in my pocket. Then I put them in this strawberry basket so you could see my gift.

Blessings in Disguise
A Gift of Bulbs to Plant, © B. Radisavljevic

It always amazes me how something as beautiful as a daffodil begins like this.

A Final Gift

This last gift was one only God could provide. There was quite a sky show as I was returning home after my walk. There were a lot of contrails going in different directions. Here's a photo.

Blessings in Disguise
Contrail Signs Lead to the Oak, © B. Radisavljevic

Now let's watch the contrails as they are made. Pretend you aren't in a hurry and spend this minute and a half watching jets you can't see making contrails you can see. You can even still see them when they are partly into the cloud.

The sky show was an added blessing and I would not have seen it had it not been for another inconvenience. After I'd talked to Judy and had a pocket full of bulbs, I shot a few more pictures on the way back home. As I was almost back to the pomegranate tree, which was to be my most important shot, my camera battery died. I had to go home and charge it. So I put it on the charger and fixed dinner and ate while it charged. It had charged enough to shoot again by the time I finished eating and the sun was beginning to go down.

I went back to the pomegranate tree and got my final tangible gift. Then the sky show started and I shot as much of it as I could. So I guess it was also a blessing that my camera battery died when it did or I would not have been outside for the sky show.

Blessings in Disguise: Gifts I didn't expect.

All in all, it's been a day of blessing. Have you had days when inconveniences were blessings in disguise?

Friday, November 10, 2017

How I Solved My Photo Importing Problem

I Tested My Theory that the SanDisk Was the Problem

It made sense to me that it would be the problem. So I took it around the corner to Staples tonight to have a technician try it on his computer.

How I Solved My Photo Importing Problem
My Local Staples Store: A Test Photo on New Disk

The disk crashed his computer twice. So we made a deal. I bought a new disk. Then I took a couple of pictures in the store. Then he tried to import those pictures to his computer. Voila! No problem. He had a bit of a technical problem to solve with his credit card terminals,  so we had to change registers. Then I put the disk back in my computer and came  home and imported the photos, including the one above, into my computer.

Two Problems Remain

  1. I still can't get the rest of my photos off the defective disk. Looks like I've have to repeat the photoshoot tomorrow. I had intended to use those photos in yesterday's post. Fortunately I took those photos within a block of home. 
  2. The import window still won't close after the upload unless I close it with the Task Master. 
I need to figure out now if the drive I stick the SanDisk into is destroying my disks. I'm not sure how to do that. I'm too tired to tackle that tonight. At least I know the camera isn't the problem. 

I may not be posting tomorrow. My iMac decided to do a major update today and after I restarted it, it is no longer connected to the Internet. I have to try restarting my router, but don't want to shut down this computer yet to do that. I'm getting rather  tired of solving computer problems. I'm very tempted to get offline completely for a few days and catch up on some decluttering and reading. I miss reading books. Now I'm off to bed. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Don't Know What's Wrong!

It's a Sad Day for Me

I've been having trouble importing photos from my camera to my Windows PC for some time now. The photos would import, but the importing window would not close. I found a work-around by closing with the Task Master. Then I'd put the SanDisk into my iMac and import into it with no problems and it would erase the pictures on the SanDisk. It didn't work that way today. Out of the 71 photos I took today, I have only five that imported. Three of them are here.

Thursday Tree Love

This was the first day I was planning to participate in #ThursdayTreeLove. In today's photoshoot I concentrated on the trees on my block. I photographed bark, several birch trees, ornamental pear tree fruits, leaves turning color, and much more. I was planning several posts around those photos. I have only five photos that loaded and as you can see they aren't the best ones. So I'm sad because I'm not sure what's wrong. The gray day today fits my mood. Here's another photo from this batch -- the one I'll use for the Thursday Tree Love. 

So What Could Be Wrong?

I've narrowed it down to a defective SanDisk, a defective disk drive on my PC, since that's where the symptoms started, or something wrong in the software. I'm inclined to think it's the SanDisk. Since it's been acting up for weeks on the PC during the import, I thought it was the drive. But today it imported the few photos it did get very slowly. Normally within a couple of minutes even over a hundred pictures will import. Today it took about ten minutes to get those five photos and then another half hour or so for the drive to indicate the import was finished. All the photos after the first five were blank. 

When I ejected the drive from the PC and put it into the iMac, I expected the iMac would import the pictures as usual. Unfortunately I also had a thumb drive I was using in the iMac at the time, and when I put the SanDisk in, the iMac never even recognized it. When I finished my work with the thumb drive and ejected it, I also removed the SanDisk and then put it in again. The iMac still never knew it was there. If it's not the PC or the iMac or the SanDisk, that leaves only my fairly new camera, a Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. I hope it's not that. It's the only camera I have left. 

If any of you very experienced photographers has any idea which is the most likely culprit, I'd love to know. I was thinking of taking the disk into a tech person at Walmart tomorrow to see if the pictures show on their computer and if they can be saved. I'll also try another disk tomorrow to see if it works and unloads. 

I guess I'll have to repeat my photoshoot when I get this figured out. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God!

I Marvel at the Variations of a Single Sunset

Last evening I was chasing sunsets, as you know from yesterday's post. I got distracted when I saw an unexpected balancing act and wrote about that instead, only sharing a couple of the sunset photos. Sunsets change when you look in a different direction and as minutes pass. By the time I finished last night's photo shoot, I had 210 photos of just the sunset. It's really hard to pick only a few to show you. Here's one taken early in my walk. All photos were taken from Larry Moore Park or the Charolais Corridor Trail in Paso Robles.

I don't have a telescope or understand how every cloud is formed and what it means, but I cannot look up at a sunset without being in awe of my creator.

Pictures Cannot Do the Sky Justice

I can only share a bit of the glory of God here. 

Seeing a series of photos is like seeing pictures of food without being able to smell or taste it. To fully appreciate the splendor of the setting sun you need to be outside looking up in all directions. You need to keep looking until the sun is down. But all I can offer is the pictures, not the sky. So here are more photos. While you look at them, listen to the choir sing "The Heavens are Telling the Glory of God" by Joseph Haydn. The video is illustrated with photos by photographer Robert Stephens.

If you enjoy that music, you can download an even better version of it on MP3 or get the whole album, which is full of some of the greatest hymns of the Christian church.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1

When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Psalm 8: 3-4

Here's another song that comes to mind as I look at these photos and whenever I see a sunset. It was inspired by Psalm 19.

Several versions of this song can be found on MP3 for download at Amazon. I like the Azusa Pacific Version best because I like choral music.

Now back to the sky show!

We are finally beginning to see some pink now.

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.! The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!   Psalm 113: 3-4                                                                                              

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God upon the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds, he prepares rain for the earth, he makes grass grow upon the hills. Psalm 147: 7-8

The sun has almost disappeared now.  Let's listen to "Taps" as it sets.

Lyrics to first verse of "Taps." See the rest in the video above. Photo © B. Radisavljevic

If you know someone who might enjoy this, please share it. And next time you see the sun about to set on a cloudy day, spend a few minutes watching it. A sunset nourishes the soul. 


Sunday, November 5, 2017

An Unexpected Daring Exhibition

You Never Know What You'll See When You Take a Walk

Tonight I went out to Larry Moore Park to chase the sunset. It appeared the sky would be beautiful. I left as the sun was just beginning to set. There was just enough left to wink at me from the sky behind the clouds.

An Unexpected Daring Exhibition under a Cloudy Sky

As I walked, the sky grew more magnificent by the minute. As I stood at the entrance to the Charolais Corridor Trail across from the park, I saw an eye of blue in the middle of the gray and I wanted to chase it. But as I started toward it, I saw this. Of course, I stopped to watch.

An Unexpected Daring Exhibition

I haven't seen anything like this since I was a kid and we used to walk from yard to yard on the tops of block fences. But this young man is walking only on the tops of supports that have nothing in between them. We didn't do that as kids. Did you? Let's watch this in video, which the young man gave me permission to record and publish.

By the  time my camera started to record he was almost across, but you get the idea. Here's a larger view of the balancing act. It's the perfect size to share on Pinerest if you would like others to see this.

When is the last time you did anything like this?

As for the patch of blue I'd been chasing before I stopped to watch this daring feat, here it is. 

An Unexpected Daring Exhibition under a Cloudy Sky

Enjoy your day. May it bring you pleasant surprises. 


Friday, November 3, 2017

A Rude Awakening!

Worse Than an Alarm Clock!

I got to bed later than usual last night because I encountered some technical problems I wanted to solve while they were fresh in my mind. That meant I got to sleep around 3:30 am. After all, the noisy roofers were gone and the neighbors' gardeners don't usually use their leaf blowers and mowers here until around noon.

As I was attempting to sleep, I heard a very loud and horrible sound that seemed to be right outside my bedroom window. It was actually in the backyard next door. By the time I jumped out of bed with my camera, the crew was working in the front yard, but it was just as loud. Imagine a dentist drill with the volume multiplied a hundred times.

A Rude Awakening! Stump removal is noisy!
Tree Stump Removal Crew, © B. Radisavljevic

They look a lot happier than I was. They had started at 7:30 am. At first my box fan and my white noise machine let me sleep another 90 minutes. I was going to try to listen to the radio on top of that to drown out the sounds and try to go back to sleep, but nothing doing. Their power equipment seemed to be causing interference with my radio transmission.

The Noise

Normally my fan or white noise machine can block out the common outside and inside noises like shutting the microwave door in the kitchen, neighbors slamming car doors outside, normal gardening equipment in other yards, and voices. They didn't have much effect on these sounds of loud tree grinding equipment.

I found out when I took my photos that the crew was removing stumps of shrubs and trees from my neighbor's yard to expedite his xeriscaping project. For your listening "pleasure" I have including a quick video with three small episodes of the noise I endured this morning. They are actually quieter than when they woke me when working in the backyard, which was closer to my bedroom.

Rain at Last!

As I was talking to my neighbor while I was taking the last batch of photos, it began to rain a few drops -- just enough to send me inside to protect my camera. What fell dried up while I was processing the video and editing these photos. Here's  proof that some rain did fall.

A Rude Awakening! Stump removal is noisy!
Raindrops on my Front Sidewalk, © B. Radisavljevic

The Aftermath of the Stump Removal

When the workmen finished, I had to admit they'd done a good job and left a pretty piece of bare ground where the old shrubs used to be. I just wish it could have been done more quietly so I could get my full night's sleep.

A Rude Awakening! Stump removal is noisy!

How well do you tolerate the noise of power equipment outside your window?


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Birch Trees Bear Fruit

Birch Tree Fruit is For the Birds

Many parts of the birch tree are edible for humans. These include the bark, the leaves, the buds, and the sap. However, edible does not necessarily mean tasty. The author of "Edible Birch, Chaga" shares the results she got when making tea, birch syrup, and just eating various parts. Most writers agree the fruits make good food for the birds.

Birch Trees Bear Fruit

The book Feasting Free on Wild Edibles by Bradford Angier explains how to make birch tea and birch syrup, as well as many other survival foods you can make from plants found in the wild.

Just Birch Leaves and Fruits

Birch Trees Bear Fruit
A Closer Look at the Leaves and Fruits at the End of October, © B. Radisavljevic

Birch Designs Make Great Throw Pillows

The graceful birch trees easily lend themselves to artistic photos and designs. Their bark is unique, especially the white birches with bark that peels like paper. The tree also can have a weeping appearance, especially when fruiting. You can see that in the photo above and in the final photo in this post. The birch tree inspired the creation of these throw and lumbar pillows on Zazzle.

Birches are Very Useful Trees

Birch trees have medicinal uses. American Indians use the tea to relieve headaches. Some tribes roasted the fruiting cones over campfire coals and breathed the smoke to relieve nasal congestion. These are just a couple of the medicinal uses for birch I found in Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, my go-to book for everything herbal. One can also make a hot poultice of the leaves, bark, and fruits to apply to the skin.

The skin will absorb the methyl salicylate in the birch parts to help skin irritations and minor wounds. Such a poultice may also be used to ease arthritis pain. None of these remedies have been tested by today's researchers for effectiveness, but some modern remedies for muscle pain do contain some methyl salicylate combined with menthol.

We know the American Indians made canoes of the birch's waterproof bark. An oil extracted from the bark was used as a glue when making arrows. You, too, can make beautiful and useful objects from birch. Some suggestions are star ornaments, baskets, rings, woven mats, and shoes. The book below will show you how to make these and many other things from birch you can use.

I'm glad I have a birch tree in my yard. Maybe one day soon I'll make better use of it. I'm glad I have survival food if necessary, along with a possible way to relieve pain. I'll leave crafts to those who enjoy them. I'd rather take photos and write when I want to be creative.

Birch Trees Bear Fruit. They are also very useful trees for people.

Do you have a birch tree in your yard? Have you ever used it for anything except the joy you get from seeing it every day? 

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