Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Telephones - Cellphones

Naomi and I, after dinner, stand around the kitchen island discussing how to make contact with our teenage grandchildren: Email - they almost never open their account; Call on the phone - they don't answer and their voice mail is full and they never check it anyway; Text - we live too far off the grid for our cellphones to work.
During our excursions out into the 'grid' we do find 'Texting' often elicits a response. I find myself wondering out of frustration - do young people even think of using phones for voice. Even the word Telephone seems quaint and out-of-date. It is now 'smartphone' or 'cell phone'. I find myself feeling like a hopeless hick every time I say telephone - sort of like dropping the 'g' on words endin' in ing. The word telephone seems as dated as 'rotary dial'. I don't begrudge the changes in the world. I just wish I could keep up without having to work on it. I feel like a play actor in a foreign culture where I have to keep studying new scripts handed out to me by forces beyond my control and I'm struggling to keep up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Woodcock Romance

A couple of evenings ago I heard my first 'Peent' of the season. That's not to say that it was the first of the season, but it was the first I heard. Well after sunset, as the twilight gathers in the early Spring, even while there is still significant snow on the ground, you can hear this persistent penetrating, rasping with some high pitches puncturing through the rasp - 'peent'. While it is making this sound the Woodcock is slowly walking around a little clearing in the tall grasses or alders somewhere near a stream with its body gently bobbing as it makes each 'peent'. It looks like a little wind up toy. It is also very hard to see and you have to be still and very observant. Fortunately, the animal is not too shy and allows a quite close approach, if you exercise a modicum of caution. But this is not the interesting part.
After a short time marching around 'peenting', the bird launches itself pretty much straight up in the air like an overgrown grasshopper, or a small fluttering helicopter with its rotors not exactly balanced. It goes up pretty much out of sight to all but the keenest eye on the clearest evening making quite a sound as it does so. Then in a few moments you hear the actual mating song and then the bird will drop in a zig-zag fluttering manner like a falling leaf and land on the ground right next to where it took off. If you are really careful, you can sort of sneak up on the launching and landing place and wind up with the bird almost landing on top of you in its return flight. Here is a sound recording of the whole performance. And here is a youtube of the flight under the lighting conditions that you might encounter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Right Now!

I sit - wood fire cozy - in my favorite chair
Looking out at a snow buried back yard.

Old gray snow
Littered with pine needles, small branches, leaves -
All the detritus of Winter's storms.

Picnic table upside down
Leaning against a boulder
Keeping punky feet dry.
Maybe one more season?

Hammock frame's splayed posts
Sticking up from the snow.

Blue tarp grasping the woodpile
Flappin' in the wind.

Pair of Ravens cruising overhead,
Hoping melting snow reveals some missed morsel -
An earlier victim of Winter's trials.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Arriving to the Blizzard of '11 in Chicago from Spring in Santa Cruz

On Jan. 31, '11 we flew into Chicago from sunny and warm Santa Cruz where the temp. was in the mid 70s with Spring flowers. On the next day, 1st of Feb., in Oak Park we experienced amazing blizzard. By about 7pm we lost electric power and heat in Jenna's apartment house. We were forced to crash on her sofa bed because we couldn't risk the walk through the storm back to our hotel room. An impromptu pajama party sans pajamas ensued! One of Jenna's neighbors with her child also spent the night because everyone was a little intimidated by the dark and high pitched sounds coming from the fire alarm system. Candles and flashlights were brought out. The girls played 'dress up' with clothes set aside in a special box just for this kind of thing. The girls also enjoyed playing games with flashlights and shadows. The night was punctuated by several thunder and lightening snowstorms wind gusts up to 60 mph swirling around the courtyard, and 18 inches of snow. On the morning of the 2nd we walked down the main street of Oak Park - down the middle of the street, since there was no traffic. No businesses were open. The main streets were plowed, but side streets are not really open yet at 1pm. At our hotel, one person showed up for work - a very determined cleaning woman who offered to restock our supplies of linen and stuff. It is dramatic and fun! Below are some of our photos showing the contrast and you can -

Almond blossoms in Santa Cruz - Jan. 30

At right - Main Business Street in Oak Park - 11am on Tues. Feb. 2

Magnolia Blossoms in front of our place in Santa Cruz Jan. 30

Naomi at left standing in the middle of one of the busiest crossroads in Oak Park. The wrought Iron fence at the right is at least 3 feet high! The snow was dense enough so people could walk on it pretty easily - packed down because of being shifted around so much by the wind. The woman in the pink/purple parka was looking for a cup of coffee - none to be found - even Starbucks was closed. Everything eerily quite for the middle of the day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hiking at Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz

Today was a beautiful January day in Santa Cruz with lots of sun, cool temperatures, and big breakers on the ocean. Naomi and I hiked along the flat trail out to the ocean at Wilder Ranch. We observed a person doing some conservation plantings in the marsh below the trail(maybe California's budget travails haven't resulted in a total loss of conservation efforts), saw some deer, numerous rabbits, huge numbers of gulls, and ocean breakers that topped the cliffs along the ocean. We both had our new Droids with us and took some pictures. I thought this one might be interesting for our Adirondack friends. If only we needed to post these Mountain Lion warning signs in the Adirondacks, they would be a much more complete place.