A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Domino Theory

The Domino Theory originated back in the good old cold war days when I was just a kid. It was explained by President Eisenhower as: "...broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences."

As we have all learned since those days, the Domino Theory applies to things other than politics and fascinating YouTube videos. A very expensive Domino Theory seems to be going on inside my mouth recently but you don't want to know about it and I don't want to talk about it.

However, something resembling Ike's 'most profound disintegration'  is also taking place in my condo. It all started with what seemed like an innocent plan to get rid of a very large stash of old magazines. There were two stacks of mags in a closet and about 20 mag storage boxes in the studio. It made sense to work on them while I wasted much of my weekends watching Premier League Football (British Soccer) so I started bringing them into my bedroom where I have a small table set up. Makes sense, right?

First domino falling...I keep a stash of magazine pages to make envelopes, I keep them sorted. So the single page stash came into my bedroom so I could sort and file as I went along.
Second domino falling...Some of the pages didn't fit in the storage boxes so I made them into envelopes as I went along, which meant I needed to bring in the box of envelopes (sorted, of course) to file as I went along.
Third domino falling...I kept finding pictures and articles that I thought certain friends and family would enjoy so I sorted them out into a couple stacks to be mailed in my handmade envelopes.
Fourth domino falling...So many wonderful photos I needed to save for reference, which needed cropping, sorting and filling in the two big bins of hanging files which - you guessed it - came into the bedroom.

It might still have ended safely if I hadn't reached the years of British travel & history mags. In addition to reference photo clippings, scrapbook photo clippings, reference travel articles, and bits for my Anglophile friends, I had to put aside articles pertaining to my upcoming travels.

I can still walk in my bedroom but just barely. The massive influx of clippings has necessitated the purchase of several additional storage bins waiting to be filled - I may be crazy, but I am organized crazy. I'll be lucky to finish going through the articles for the rapidly approaching trip, so I will come home to a bedroom filled with hours and hours of sorting and filing waiting for me. Oddly enough, this would be quite satisfying if not for one major problem...by then the EPL season will be finished and I'll have nothing to keep me stuck in my bedroom for hours each week.

The good news? I have dumped at least twenty big brown grocery bags of torn down magazines into the recycling dumpster.

I came across an interesting undocumented quote recently: "I keep records, if you don't keep records you're just a hoarder." Well, I keep records, and files, and folders...sorted by subject, color, or usage.

"I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On Safari in Montana

My cousin lives about 15 minutes outside of the very small town of Absarokee in Southeast Montana. Visiting there is always a pleasure - I love my cousin & his wife, I love Absarokee, and I love the trip from Seattle across to Eastern Montana.

In 2010 I visited for a wedding and late one afternoon my cousin took me for a ride up into the hills to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife. In addition to a pair of Sandhill cranes, we saw 275 deer. I am not stretching the truth - there were three of us in the car and we counted very carefully. In fact, we surely must have missed some. There were a few small groups of 15 or so, most of them consisted of groups of 2-5 grazing peacefully. I very badly wanted to see some elk - or even 'an' elk, but the closest we came was a man on a bicycle that had us fooled for a few minutes. (you are more apt to see an elk than a man on a bicycle in the Montana mountains) It was an amazing experience, this was not 'managed' wildlife - this was the real thing.

Last August year I visited again and requested that we find time for what is referred to as The Safari. My cousin and his wife take this drive fairly often, with varying routes, depending on the amount of time they want to spend and where they want to end up. They always count the cranes, and the deer, and the elk. Their all time record is something over a thousand total.

We set off in the afternoon a little early for the deer to be down grazing, but we had planned a dinner out so it was in fact a little late when we started spotting deer. Just as previously, the deer were plentiful and the total grew rapidly. Pretty soon we were well over 200 (counting several Sandhill Cranes) and I was wearing a permanent grin.  I was quite pleased, but still holding out hope for a couple of elk.

And then it happened. We came around a long slow curve in the road and we saw elk - lots of elk, lots and lots of elk - spread across four or five hills. It was breath-taking to see this enormous herd moving slowly across the hills almost like a cloud shadow. As soon as we took in the vision, the sound hit us. This herd was almost equal parts cows & calves, and as they traveled they kept in constant communication. It was surprisingly loud and unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was a sound experience that will stay with me forever.
Just a fraction of the herd

There were a couple of other trucks stopped along the road, binoculars out. And we spoke softly among ourselves, spooking the elk only slightly.  I wanted to take pictures, but more than that I just wanted to stand and watch and listen. So I did, openmouthed and a bit verklempt. There was no way we could possibly count this herd, it was the largest my cousin had ever seen, but we estimated upwards of 300. I couldn't even begin to get them all in my camera viewfinder. Eventually, an approaching car at one end spooked the herd enough that it turned on itself. My cousin, educated in animal behavior, decided we needed to move on as the signs of stress were becoming evident among the cows with calves.

We counted at least another 100 deer on the way home - and it would have been more but we ran out of light. They are hard enough to spot in daylight, but they fade away entirely as dusk deepens.

Speculation was that extensive forest fires in the mountains had driven the elk down as one large group. I choose to believe it was just time for me to see some elk - lots and lots of elk!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mr & Mrs Heron

Anthropomorphism: Any attribution of human characteristics (or characteristics assumed to belong only to humans) to other animals (or birds)

I have mentioned before my great good fortune in living near a heronry. This morning, as I do as often as possible at this time of year, I stopped for a few minutes to drink my Starbucks and watch the birds. This is what I saw...

Mr & Mrs Heron perched on either side of their nest at the top of one of the trees, looking rather bored with the world. Before long Mr Heron took off and flew over my head to a stand of trees within my view. He wandered around a bit until he found just the perfect twig then soared back to the heronry, circling once (so everyone would take notice that he had brought home the PERFECT twig) and then landing right next to Mrs. Heron. She smiled, I presume, took the twig from him and turned to the nest to insert it in the very spot she had in mind for improvement. As she leaned forward to do this Mr Heron seized the opportunity and jumped her bones.

Awwww, Nature!
Mr. Heron Choosing his branch