summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
I was certified for scuba diving with four wonderful friends in Monterey this weekend, and it was wonderful. I have coveted the ability to dive since that I learned what it was (I remember the moment; I was pretty young, and my mother very firmly emphasized how dangerous it was). As an adult, the equipment and perceived difficulty and expense in gaining the skill intimidated me, and despite my obsession with marine life and looking for it in the wild (in tidepools, up until now), I don't know that I'd have done it if friends hadn't had the idea and poked me. How fortunate I am.

It turns out that the equipment is relatively straightforward once one understands its use, its danger is not great if one takes proper care, and that obtaining certification was quite manageable. It's hard to explain how just delighted I am to have had this experience.

On our second dive, while hanging around under about 20 feet of water, holding onto a rope anchored in the sandy bottom of Monterey Bay and taking turns doing exercises, I saw a wild octopus. It was tiny, and the color of sand. It held very still, tentacles pulled in close and curled slightly upwards. I wouldn't have seen it if one of my companions had not pointed it out, and it quickly took its chance to disappear down one of the many tiny burrows that lines the seafloor. It was enchanting and beautiful. I hardly expected to achieve one of my life ambitions in wildlife-watching on my first weekend of diving.

So yeah, I want to do that lots more.

I managed to see a lot for relatively short dives in which our time was mostly spent doing the necessary certification exercises. (I hope that my mask never again has reason to be all the way off under water; it was a very sensible thing for us to learn how to deal with, but man, I hated that). Wild otters came very close on both days, hoping that our float contained abalone. Other sealife I spotted included a beautiful fish that I am reasonably certain (after a lot of time spent with my fish book and google) a black perch, a sculpin of some kind, a couple of truly enormous giant stars and sea cucumbers. There were oodles of bat stars everywhere, and I saw one gorgeous sunflower star. I have a very healthy respect for those; I have met them in tidepools, and they are very fast and inquisitive if you offer to touch one. I will not be offering to touch one the size of my face any time soon.

There was a glorious garden of tube-dwelling anemones, some with beautiful black tentacles, and cute little strawberry anemones.

A bunch of adorable juvenile sanddabs scuttled around on the sandy bottom, and a diving cormorant, who wasn't in the least bit concerned about us and practically brushed against us as it dove past. (That photo may not be the same species of cormorant, but you get the idea).

It was amazing and I loved it.
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Spring is beautiful.


spring photos; slug and spider warning )
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The Earth turned, the weather changed. We will have more hard storms and cold times, I'm sure, but spring has come here even if things haven't started growing yet. Have some pictures.

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azillion photos. One is of a spider. )
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More Sierras in late September. I love this one because of the reflection of the mountain in the lake.

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many more )
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Marie Lake was one of the most lovely I've seen.

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more )
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So, I am freshly returned from a week solo backpacking in the Ansel Adams portion of the Sierras. (well, solo save for my merles). It was glorious and I needed it a lot; this summer has certainly posed its challenges both emotionally and financially, and I just haven't been able to get away before now. Still, there's something incredibly special about being in the mountains in fall. I am so lucky.

Also glad to be back. Miz Kaya is licking the inside of my ear and making happy bird chirring noises at me, and as she is being gentle with her wickedly sharp parrot beak, I'm letting her for the time being. Unfortunately, Gavin plucked all of the damned contour feathers on his breast out, since he wasn't allowed out of his cage in my absence. I need to figure out something else to do with them when I'm away.

I brought y'all back photos! Lots of them; I will probably cut this into a few posts.

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First couple of days of pictures )
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Just a walk through the end of summer.

I am really happy with this shot.

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Bees and butterflies and collies )

Photopost

Aug. 9th, 2010 03:41 pm
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I haven't done a photopost in awhile, I realize. Kyn and I went to the beach this Saturday, it was lovely, and there were photos taken. I also have some neat bird shots I never posted from a walk last month.

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Dogs, birds, wild things )
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I've been meaning to make this post for a couple of months now, and just haven't; things have been busy. This was originally going to be a photoessay celebrating my resident gastropods, but as I was looking through the unposted pictures from spring, I realized that I have a lot of others as well, so have some flowers, fungus and spiders.

Mostly, it's all about the banana slug love, though. [livejournal.com profile] tailypo, this one's for you. :)

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walks when the world was moist; slugs and spiders, dogs and cats )
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Today's was a great walk. Standing in the middle of swarming bees, even for a moment, was an amazing, emotionally complex experience, but it isn't exactly something I could get pictures of. This was a great day for wildlife sightings, though. The reptiles are coming out of dormancy, everything is in bloom, and it was glorious.


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photographs from today; wildflowers, wildlife, my pack. Snakes 'n spiders warning. )

Maying

May. 4th, 2010 07:12 pm
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I was walking through the woods one afternoon in May
when the air was golden, the hills thick green, spotted in wildflowers
between the trees' cool shade
and ahead of me, the insects were awake.

I heard the buzzing
and curious, walked forward to see what they were
---and they were all around me, the air lively,
heavy with their drone.
Hard to focus. I found one. Honey bee.
They had no reason to sting, but still. I did the mental math
and backed out, heart racing, awake.

They were in swarm
a wild swarm
and they danced wildly above the fragrant fields
and spun swiftly down the hill
right now all the world and gone a moment later
like many wonders.

They left me unhurt.
Standing in joy with an empty rolling field
and the memory of that moment when I stood within them, surrounded
by the strength of their festival day, the founding of their hive.
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Yesterday, it was warm and lovely on the ridge, which is in full spring mode. It was gorgeous, and just windy enough to make sheltie fluff look elegant and windswept...

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More glamsheltie shots under the cut, as well as wildlife and wildflowers.

a walk in the woods )
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So this week [livejournal.com profile] madmanatw and I took a fun little road trip to Vegas (!) to see Cirque du Soleil and the Mojave in bloom. Here are some of my favorite photos to come out of the desert part of the trip.

I'll add more information later, when I'm not so tired. I haven't looked up what any of these things are and don't know Mojave biotia at all, so if you can ID anything positively, please tell me. For now, there are photos. And a really amazing wildlife encounter.

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the Mojave blooms )
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[livejournal.com profile] kynekh_amagire and I both have a quantity of puppies for whom throwing at scenery is a very good solution. The spring has been singingly beautiful, and the day before yesterday we enjoyed a long hike.

Here's my favorite pic from the day:

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and here are approximately three zillion more )
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ooohkay, I give up. I'm too juiced up from the day to sleep yet, it's spring, I have a ton of energy. I rode 4 hours after having done a set of three 3-hour rides in the past week and followed it today with a 12+ mile hike. I'm apparently now fit enough that this isn't any kind of problem; it felt great and I could totally do it again tomorrow if I didn't have to work. Strong and quieter of sorrow than I've felt in a while. I'm healing.

So here are today's photos that I was going to post later, a few decent shots of a gorgeous place and some just really dumb pictures of my dogs. Once they're up maybe I can convince my body that it's time to get some sleep.

you know the drill, it's a photopost to eviscerate dialup and I'm rambling about my dogs )
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It may rain again tomorrow.

A bit hefore noon, there flutters a flock of chickadees in plum branches a shade more supple than they were.
And to my rim of broken flower pot half-filled with birdseed comes a Stellar's Jay. All hopping tension and imperious sharp calls as he struts to take the food; sharp of beak and focused of expression. Such plumage: so unblemished and shiningly blue with newness, and on the sooty hood between his fierce black eyes a chevron of blue so pale as to be mirrorlike. All proud and fresh and lovely.

I breathe in this light, moist air and the jay calls twice. All around, everything is whispering about springtime.
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EDIT: WOW, go watch this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zxa6P73Awcg

Wildlife photographers kick ass. So do leopard seals. I want this guy's book. /fangirls on Paul Nicklen, bigtime/

*

I found this fascinating and beautiful. Mourning behavior observed in ravens:

http://newsminer.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Hundreds+of+birds+seem+to+mourn+deaths+of+fellow+ravens%20&id=4527699-Hundreds+of+birds+seem+to+mourn+deaths+of+fellow+ravens&instance=home_lead_story

I'm convinced that animals do so many complex things we never see because we just aren't looking, or don't know how.

*

Completely unrelated, the quote of the week from my house is probably:
(me to my brother)

"No, I'm actually pretty certain that tequila doesn't count as a vegetable."

*

Coming home late from a dance the other night, I saw a little raccoon in a ditch near my house. I stopped my truck and rolled down the window. We regarded each other for awhile, him rather uncomfortable at being caught out, me completely charmed. It's such a special thing to live in close company with the wild, that there still exists wild to live next to, and his soft fur, the delicacy of his hands, the moist and flexible nose are irreducible. Seeing a wild animal so close is always thrilling, and though I really don't want them killing my chickens, I'd prefer not to actually harm any raccoons over it. Still, we seem to have come to a tense resolution; I lock up the chickens every night, and the yard does tend to contain a wolf and three wannabes, so the hens remain a forbidden temptation to neighborhood procynid palates. I haven't lost any more birds, although when I went to let them out this morning, I noticed a spot where it looks like a raccoon made an abortive attempt to dig into the coop. Hm.

*

On a bike again. I've been off for a week, and now it's time to build some more. Cycles, always cycles, patterns, ebbings and risings of weakness, strength and pain. Guess life is like that.
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My friend Roq and I enjoyed a brief journey up to Siskiyou County on the CA/Oregon border this weekend. I haven't spent very much time in this forest, and seeing the area in its fall colors is pretty spectacular. I am inspired to spend more time in these woods in fall, and perhaps in general. Long drive, though.

I will start you off with a young whitetailed buck who was hanging around Roq's house in Mendocino county.

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lots and lots of pretty )
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Here in this forest, the soil is dry and the tan oaks are coming back, recovering from the disease that has ravaged them for several years with soft, fuzzy new growth. It was overcast this morning, and the tops of the redwood and doug fir I am currently staring at are moving restlessly with the first breaths of Autumn. Another year is getting ready to turn.

Elsewhere, the mountains remain high, remote and rarefied.

Here are the rest of my backpacking pictures, Ansel Adams Wilderness...was it barely over a week ago?

Bird people, I need help with another ID. I think he's some sort of warbler; he's, uh, several pictures down, somewhere in there.

The Minarets
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many photos )
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Hey all, I'm back.

The trip was amazing and beautiful. We saw all kinds of weather, including a thunderstorm which had us essentially hiking up the mountain into a cloud, and wildlife, including a perfectly gorgeous mother bear and her cub, who unlike most bears one sees stuck around long enough to allow us to observe them for a few minutes. Being there was very fulfilling, healing and excellent, and the place has an enormous beauty that these pictures only nibble at the edges of.

Back home, I am, as predicted, busy and dealing with some very difficult things. As you can probably guess, I took approximately elevendy zillion pictures, and I will eventually share more, but for now, here's a taste.

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Ansel Adams Wilderness )

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