Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

DON'T Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

I have cleared the driveway and walks every day this week. I thought I would escape shoveling/blowing snow today but no, the snowplow pushed a ridge of frozen snow/ice across the end of the driveway and the turnout area for the newspaper delivery guy. Another morning of shoveling snow. At least I've no want of exercise.

The temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s later today and as high as 50 tomorrow. That will be good weather for finally putting out some Christmas lights. For some reason I just haven't gotten around to it this year. Not many other people have either. There are few outside decorations this year. Perhaps it is the expense of energy. Electricity hasn't gone up as badly as gas and oil but you have to cut corners somewhere and it is easier on decorations than heating the house. The last delivery of fuel oil was at $3.40/gallon. That's more than regular gas which is bad enough at $3.35 around here. It seems like buying either involves two hoses these days, one to pour the fuel into your tank, the other to suck your money from your wallet.

The price of fuel has caused the collapse of local air service in the North Country. Big Sky Airline which was providing service is having their planes repossessed because they can't afford to make payments on them and buy fuel. Consequently after the new year there will be no air service North of the Syracuse - Albany line unless some other airline steps in quickly. Thank you Exxon/Mobil, Shell, etc. The administration just successfully fought off an attempt by congress to remove tax breaks from big oil companies who are making record profits so a big "thank you" is also due to the Bush administration for protecting those poor abused multi-billionaire oil producers from having to pay a fair tax on their profits. Beginning with the Reagan administration the free market capitalists have been telling us that wealth "trickles down". I'm still waiting and that second hose is still attached to my wallet but it is pumping out, not in.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Got Snow?

The Nor'Easter dumped 15½ inches of snow on us Sunday. We now have more snow than we had all last winter and it isn't even officially winter yet. According to the calendar winter arrives on Saturday which in addition to being the 1st day of winter is also called "midwinter". I learned that on the evening weather report. Actually I didn't believe it so I had to look it up. It didn't make sense to me that the first day of the season would be called "mid" but sure enough midwinter is the first day of winter. English is an odd language.

After blowing snow from the driveway and walks on Sunday I got to do it all over again this morning. I'm glad I did it twice though. Doing the full amount in one shot would have been a problem. This afternoon I went to the Southville State Forest to snowshoe around the ski trails. I did the largest loop which took about 90 minutes. There is finally enough snow so that the guy who has been driving his 4WD truck around in there has had to stop. I'm glad of that. Much of the trail system are on fire roads so you can drive in there but it messes up the trail to have truck tracks in there. The photo was shot as I came out around 4:30.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Joining the'Glitterati'

I intended to make my own Christmas cards this year but time slipped by and I realized it was getting too late for that project so I went out and bought some cards. They are nice cards with chickadees on the front and lots of glitter.

When I took the cards out of the box there were mini-drifts of loose glitter in the bottom of the box. As I wrote addresses and signed cards glitter clogged the tip of my ball point pen so that I had to repeatedly clean it off with a paper towel. Seeing the glitter all over the dining room table top it occurred to me that perhaps I should seal these envelops with cellophane tape or a sticker, it might not be good to lick them and ingest all that glitter. I wiped up most of the glitter on the table but glitter remains on the floor around the table and in the kitchen from walking to the fridge to get a drink while working on the card project. The floors in both rooms sparkle with their own version of holiday cheer.

When Diane came home from work she commented that I had glitter on my face. Only then did I remember the odd looks I had gotten when I went out late in the afternoon on some errands.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Down by the Riverside

The last of the Christmas packages have been shipped except possibly for one. We haven't found that gift yet. We'll look for it this weekend and send it by mail if we find what we're looking for.

Since we now have snow I decided to go snowshoeing for the first time this winter. It was fairly mild, temperature around freezing, and I took my camera (as usual).

I shot a couple dozen pictures but this is the one I liked best. I found this beech sapling down by the river in amongst a grove of mature hemlocks. I've always been attracted to the beeches. They have wonderful grey bark and they hold their leaves longer than any other deciduous trees in this corner of the world. When all the others are stark and bare, the warm colors of the beech leaves stand out against the snow.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Weathering the Weather

Yesterday we got about 5-6" of heavy snow. The postmaster remarked that it was more than we got all last winter. I doubt that but it was certainly more than we had at any one time in the last two winters. It was the final straw or in this case snowflake that prodded me to buy a snowblower.

It kept up all night and by this morning we had 13½" on the level. Clearing up with the snow blower didn't take any less time but it was a lot less work. I still had a bit of shoveling to do and when I was cleaning around the bird feeder the chickadees continued feeding, although they did keep an eye on me.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Our Everlasting Christmas Tree

We broke down and bought an 'everlasting' tree this year. Everlasting is a nicer word than 'artificial'. Aside from not having to water it, clean up the fallen needles, etc. I find it handy that when decorating it I can bend the branches to hold the ornaments and they stay where I put them.

I call it a Christmas tree but if you celebrate some other holiday at this time of year, religious or otherwise, feel free to think of it as a Hanukka tree, a holiday tree or whatever. The tradition of festivals around the winter solstice goes back centuries before the beginnings of Christianity and the Romans used to decorate trees and exchange gifts during their solstice festivals. December 25th isn't really the birth date of Jesus. Christians sort of inherited the tradition from the Roman holiday after Constantine made Christianity the 'official' religion of the empire in 324 CE. No one knew the actual date so the existing holiday was adapted as a matter of convenience.

Given its roots, the flap over whether a public tree is a "Christmas tree" or a "Holiday Tree" in recent years is a bit silly. There have always been a variety of celebrations around the winter solstice based on the hope of renewal that comes with the lengthening days. It is in that spirit that I share our tree of celebration and wish everyone a happy holiday.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Walk in the Woods

Diane and I took Gus for a short walk in the Southville State Forest today. There was fresh wet snow still falling as we walked. We didn't get to the river. The trail was underwater in a hollow and we didn't have waterproof boots nor did there seem to be a convenient path around it. I shot several photos including this one which I have 'messed with'. :-)

It got warmer during the day and much of the snow melted but it is coming back as I type. The cars will need cleaning off in the morning.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Craft Fair

Yesterday I 'did' the Saranac Lake Craft Fair. It was a pretty good day. If I count only the booth fee & gas money to get there I came out in the black. If I added the expense of producing the photos I'm sure I was in the red again so we won't go there.

I met several interesting folks with interesting stories. In the booth next to me was a couple with wood & stained glass boxes. The husband, it turns out is the industrial arts teacher in the Potsdam school district and remembered Ian. One woman was the daughter of the family that owned McCollums Cabins where Diane & I stayed on our honeymoon. One fellow was a retired DEC resource manager who spent his career wandering the northern ADKs and recognized almost every location I'd taken my photos without my telling him. And then there was a friend of my friend Jim who turned out to be my brother's next door neighbor. An interesting day.

I got home around quarter past 5 to a beef stroganoff dinner. That has become my traditional birthday meal and Diane outdid herself on last night's batch. It was clearly the best ever.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Since the 1st killing frost on October 29th we've had several frosts and the days are chilly. Our day time highs are running 8-10 degrees below normal for this time of year. I'm sure when we have January and February days in the high 30s or low 40s I'll think it is rather mild but on this end of winter I find those temperatures quite nippy.

The photo was taken the same day as the frosted cosmos blossom. I desaturated it and played with the image to add borders.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Bump in the Night & Hunches

We were anti-social for Halloween. We turned off the front lights and pulled the shades. Neither Diane nor I felt like running to the door for trick-or-treaters, dealing with Gus barking, etc. None of the trick-or-treaters bothered us but we got "tricked" by Mother Nature though.

Later during the night the wind blew and I woke up when I heard something 'bang' loudly outside. I figured it was probably a tree limb falling but we discovered this morning that a storm window I had left leaning against the house on the porch had blown over and broken. It wasn't a large loss since it was an old one that I had already ordered a replacement for but I didn't really need the mess of broken glass to clean up.

Actually it was an example of one of my hunches. Every so often I get a feeling, "a hunch" that I should do this or not do that. Every time I ignore a hunch I regret it. Just yesterday as I was passing the window on the porch in the midst of doing something else the thought popped into my head that I should move that window inside so the wind wouldn't blow it over. The wind wasn't blowing at the time and I was already busy with something else so I put off doing it, then forgot about it. I should have played my hunch.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This morning when I went out to get the paper I found the begonias and cosmos had been hit by frost. That is at least a month later than our usual first killing frost. Often I can shoot photos of autumn leaves with frost but this year the leaves are nearly all down before the first frost hit.

Winters in the North Country of NY are always unpredictable. A lot of people believe in the predictions the Old Farmers Almanac makes but they overlook all the times the Almanac is way off. The only prediction I would make about winter weather is "we will have some". I can remember a winter when it was below zero day and night for six weeks straight. I also remember two Christmases with temperatures in the 60s. I have photos of the aftermath of blizzards as late as April. There was one winter it stopped snowing any significant amount before New Years and I didn't use my snow shovel at all during the next calendar year. What snow fell was only an inch or so each time. We just walked/drove through it until it melted or packed down, usually within a few days. It didn't snow enough to bother shoveling again until after the next New Years. What will this winter be like? Judging by its start it will probably be mild but I won't put any money on that bet.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Digital Panorama Photo

Yesterday I took a walk and as I crossed the river I decided to shoot a photo of a small section of the waterfall by the bridge. I had to go out to a point on the shore that was below the falls and after shooting that photo, I realized that this was a natural site for shooting a panoramic view of the river and bridge. The full sized image is made up from 16 frames. They were all handheld shots so I made no attempt to blend them. If printed full size it would be over 78" wide and almost 19" tall. If you click on the small one above, you will see a greatly reduced copy but hopefully big enough so you get the idea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It Must be a Record

The begonias in the pots on either side of my front gate are still blooming, happy and healthy. We still have not had a frost. We can usually expect a frost as early as Sept. 1st. We almost always have a frost before the end of September. There is no frost in the 5 day forecast either.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Worlds Within Worlds

As of March 2008 I'll have been a photographer for 50 years. I began with an Ansco Readyflash that shot 8 photos/roll on 620 film. I still have the camera. They don't make film that size anymore although I could re-spool 120 onto 620 spools if I wanted. I don't. I've graduated from two schools of photography, taught photography in one of them and in evening courses. I was a 'pro' for a short while when young but it's a tough way to make a living and I had a family to support so I have relegated it to a passionate avocation for most of my life.

Recently I had the notion that I would like to pursue an MFA in photography in my retirement. I found an accredited school on the West coast that has an on-line MFA program and I inquired about it. Aside from the cost being prohibitive (it's hard to justify spending about $40K in borrowed money for a degree in something you don't plan to make a career of) I decided after reviewing their program that it wasn't a good match for me anyway. They proudly advertise that they train 'conceptual' artists. I'm not into conceptual art even if, as they claim, it is the 'dominant' art form today. My concept is that I'm a visual omnivore. I don't limit myself to a particular subject matter or way of working. If something catches my eye, I'll photograph it and share my vision of it with anyone who cares to look. I try to make images that convey the experience of being there.

I looked up some of the people whose work they train photographers to emulate and found several who are billed as "one of the most influential photographers of all time" or words to that effect. Now in my 49+ years of continual study of my craft I have encountered the likes of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Caponigro, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and literally dozens (maybe hundreds) of others, Muybridge, Curtis and on and on and on. The list seems endless as tens of thousands of their images swirl through my memory. The funny thing is, I never heard of any of these photographers the school lists as being the most influential of all time until I started researching this MFA program. I don't know who they've influenced and looking at their work... they wouldn't have influenced me even if I had heard of them sooner. I'm sure if an accredited MFA program and the galleries think these people are "influential" they must be to someone but I still don't like their work and have no desire to emulate them. If I had $40K I'd rather spend it on the photography I like doing and am proud to share with my audience than to learn to produce work I dislike.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tooley Pond Rd.

As promised here is a photo from my trip on Tooley Pond Rd. I had to play with it a bit. It wasn't as sharp as I wanted but the end result is okay. It has been 'simplified' to get rid of extraneous detail, thus the 'painting' look. I was primarily attracted to the flow of water and the pattern it made as the various small streams converged. The rocks and leaves are a nice counterpoint to the water, a mix of permanence, temporary and motion.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Magic Season

In the movie industry they talk about "magic hour", the hour around sunset when the light is wonderful. For landscape photographers autumn is the 'magic season'. Combine the magic hour and the magic season as in the photo I took of Connery Pond or the above one of the waterfall at Wilmington Notch and you get double magic. This is a scan of a slide I took about a week ago.

For an autumn that started out to be unpromising I've had a pretty good fall photographically speaking. In its early stages it was a definite case of making lemonade but this last week the leaves that turned brown early had fallen and the remainder turned fairly bright colors. I had an excellent day on Tooley Pond Rd. on Tuesday. Perhaps I'll post one of those tomorrow. If you like my photos (which are copyrighted) I'd be happy to sell you a print. I don't make any money at this but it would be nice to break even.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Prerogatives of Money & Fame?

The media are all giving attention to Jenna Bush's book tour. It seems she has written the story of "Ana", an abused HIV positive teen she met while working as an intern for UNICEF. The publisher has reportedly printed a 1st run of a half million copies, an amount that suggests they expect huge sales. Ms. Bush, who is sporting a new diamond and sapphire engagement ring, says she changed the name and country of the young woman who's story she tells "to protect her privacy". Her alleged motive in writing the book is to make people more aware of the problems of teens in Ana's situation.

I confess to not having read the book. I have made a point to read several reviews and articles about both the book and the tour and I note that in none of them does it say Ms. Bush is donating any of the profits from the book to addressing those problems. Some do say that writing this book improves her image from past bad press and shows that Ms. Bush has matured.

Perhaps I'm just being cynical but "Ana's Story" strikes me as a example of someone using her access to the media as the daughter of the president, and her position with an organization that was meant to help the less fortunate, to expropriate the story of one of those less fortunate for personal profit and image enhancement. I'd feel more inclined to think this was a truly humanitarian effort if somewhere in the promotional sales hype there was some small mention of exactly how the book helps the person whose life story it exploits and not just the image and purse of its already privileged author.

10/29/07: A correction is due. Since writing the above I have learned that 'some' of the proceeds will go to UNICEF. While that is commendable I still feel that "Ana" has had her story appropriated for the financial & public relations benefit of the author.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Autumn Color?

It's the time of year that photographers in the Adirondacks dream about all summer, the time when the mountainsides change from all green to a quilt of color. This year partly because we haven't had very many frosty nights yet and partly because we've been in a drought during August and most of September the colors are muted. The tourist promoters however have a different way of phrasing it. On the radio this morning they were describing the colors as "Plum" and "Firebrick". I'm all for taking a positive view of whatever life hands us but I'm not sure colorful language is an adequate substitute for real autumn color. For what it's worth though, here is a photo from Connery Pond looking toward the "Plum" and "Firebrick" colored trees in front of a silhouetted Whiteface Mt. I call it "Dusk at Connery Pond, Sept, 25, 2007"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Dropped Mail?

It all began innocently enough. Postmaster Pete Paquette noticed a hole in the porch of the West Stockholm post office that he feared might be large enough for one of the patrons to catch the heel of their shoe in so he asked the landlord to patch it. The handyman who fixed it used a piece of metal that was painted white and just happened to be about the size of an envelop. After several customers commented that they had mistaken it for mail that someone had dropped Pete decided to put a stamp on it and postmark it as a joke. One of the patrons then added an address to the "letter". Humor is alive and well in the West Stockholm post office.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I try not to get into politics too much on my blog but here goes again. I watched Bill Moyers Journal Sunday which was a rebroadcast of a July 13th program. His two guests are advocating the impeachment of both Cheney and Bush. The Bush supporters are of course dismissing it as so much left wing media bias but apparently they didn't watch very closely. The guest who argued most passionately for impeachment and even contended that Bush & Cheney's abuses were worse than Nixon's, was Bruce Fein a conservative who wrote the 1st article of impeachment against Bill Clinton. So much for left wing media bias.

Both guests argued for impeachment of both Cheney & Bush not on partisan grounds but on Constitutional grounds. They believe that the expansion of presidential power claimed by Bush & Cheney represents a long term threat to the balance of powers set up in the Constitution and thus to our democracy. For those who might not have seen the program there is a full transcript available at Both guests are Constitutional scholars whose credentials I respect. It is (IMHO) well worth reading the full transcript.

Unfortunately our Congress seems to have no stomach for protecting the Constitution or their own powers under the Constitution. They have taken impeachment "off the table" and most recently legalized one of the illegal acts of this administration by passing a bill that allows domestic spying by the administration without congressional or court oversight. I don't know if that bill also grandfathered in the illegal spying that the administration has been engaged in since 2003 which is now common knowledge. Perhaps congress's solution will simply be to pass bills that make all the abuses of this administration legal. If so we will have reached the point Ben Franklin referred to in his final address to the Constitutional Convention:
"I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

One observation by Bill Moyers was that the average citizen seems to be ahead of congress on impeachment. If you are interested in pursuing impeachment on your own it seems that there is a provision for the average citizen to do just that. Go to for an explanation of how and the forms necessary to initiate a citizen impeachment initiative. My own hope is that we have not reached the point that Ben feared.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Catching Up...

It has been a while since I posted anything. I spent several days at Stephanie's working on one of her bathrooms. Laid a tile floor and put up some bead board wainscot behind where the sink and toilet go. The plumber installed the fixtures. I have to go back to finish the wainscot on the rest of the walls, set some shelves into the wall and do a bit of electrical work.

On the 21st of July we went into NYC on a day trip that a local bus company in Endicott does. They drop you off around 34th St. at 10:30-11:00 AM and you do your own thing until 7 PM when they pick you up. We went to Chinatown, J&R (camera store) and then spent the rest of the time in Central Park. I have digitally modified the photo at right as you can surely guess. I simplified the whole image then added back only the detail I felt was necessary to the feeling of the scene. I shot mostly photos of architectural details. Those scenes that include people I treated as I did the one here since I wasn't after identifiable people but an impression of the scene. What doesn't appear here (aside from identifiable people) is the noise. Even Central Park was noisy. Within a 4-5 acre area near "The Lake" (the ADKs have ponds that are bigger) there were 2 guys singing with a loudspeaker system, a bagpiper, some guys doing something that attracted a very noisy cheering crowd (we didn't see what they were doing), a rock group and a drum circle. Stephanie's comment was that at least some of these people probably think of that as a day out in nature. More of the NYC photos can be seen at As always be aware that the images are copyrighted.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Another Loss

My friend Jim (yeah, we have the same first name) tells me he and his wife Ann just lost their dog Dusty. Unlike Ace, Dusty was an older dog. He had his 13th birthday earlier this year, a ripe old age for his breed. Never the less one is never ready to lose a friend. I met Dusty on several occasions when visiting Jim at his home. Dusty barked at me the first time we met but each meeting thereafter I was greeted with a wagging tail. Despite his age and difficulty walking he was a puppy at heart and aways ready to go for a walk or play.

I wish that everyone could have a good dog like Ace or Dusty at least once in life so that he or she could learn by the daily example the dog sets, what a virtue unconditional love is. In an ideal world our good dogs would last as long as we do and die with us but this is not an ideal world so we feel the loss when they depart before us. At least we have the memories of them and the blessing they were while with us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Product Research

I've decided to become an industry consultant doing product research. It seems that if I like something it will not sell. I first noticed the phenomenon when I was in college. I took a liking to Medford's Mustard. It was a nice sharp brown mustard that was inexpensive. It disappeared from the stores after a few years and I can't even find it on the web.

The same thing has happened repeatedly. Most recently it was my favorite breakfast cereal, Kellogg's Cinnamon Crunchers. I loved that stuff but my local markets stopped carrying it. I found some stores at a distance (40-80 miles away) that still had it so whenever I was in those areas I'd buy several boxes. Then it disappeared all together. I did a web search on it and found forum posts saying how bad Cinnamon Crunchers were. ???? I looked for a substitute and settled on Eggo Cinnamon cereal (I like cinnamon) but now that is disappearing from the stores too.

So here's the business plan: Send me a product you are considering making and I'll try it. If I like it maybe you should reconsider. If I love it, it will never make the cut with the general public. The only fee I would want for my service is that you guarantee me a lifetime supply of the products I love. The trouble is if you aren't going to make it because I like it...? I guess I need to rework the business plan.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Enough Already

Our clock radio is tuned to NCPR so we wake up to the news. We continue listening while eating breakfast. This morning I switched the station to CBC2 during breakfast. Between the Palestinian conflict, which I literally cannot remember a time in my 62 years that wasn't in the news, the Iraq war, shootings, etc., etc. I don't need to start my day with this stuff. I already write my representatives with my views which our Rep in the House ALWAYS has good reasons to ignore and the Senators never seem to have to clout to do anything about. At times I communicate with them more than my family. What I can do about the world situation is limited.

I don't plan to stop listening to the news but for my own peace of mind I need to limit it. CBC has news every hour but it only lasts 5 minutes or so. NPR has solid talk, talk, talk (either news or discussing the news) from 6 AM until 3PM every day. I need to spend more time reading, drawing and working on my photography. I need to spend more time working on the house, changing the corner of world I can actually have a positive effect on.

I finally got the last of the old sidewalk torn up last week and filled the hole it left in the lawn with dirt. I sprinkled it with grass seed and sifted peat moss over it before wetting it down. The seed was "Quick Grow" mix but it hasn't sprouted yet, 4 days later. I suppose it depends on your definition of "quick".

Yesterday I worked on the baseboard on the SW side of the living room. I had installed new wiring on that side earlier. On the NE side I had drilled up through the sill from the cellar but that was a miserable process because I had to angle the drill over a thick stone foundation through a 14" square sill and try to hit the space in a 6" thick outside wall set over the outer edge of the sill. For the SW I wimped out and ran the wire over the inside wall surface a couple inches off the floor. I drilled into the wall at that level then cut the holes for the outlet boxes about 8" off the floor and ran the wires into the lower hole and out the upper one. To cover the surface wire I cut two furring strips and placed them above and below the surface wires so that the top strip would be 1/4" higher than the top of the new base board. The baseboard then went over the furring strips to hide the wires and a bit of painter's caulk filled the gaps caused by old uneven walls. It looks pretty good if I do say so myself or at least it will after it has been painted. :-)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mowing lawn today. I left the patches of 'volunteer' daisies, two of which are shown here. Diane grew daisies from seed many years ago and they went wild, popping up in the yard wherever their seeds fall each season. I mow around them until the flowers fade then mow over them the rest of the summer.

As I was mowing Gus (our other dog) started barking at the UPS man who stopped out front to bring me a Father's day gift. Gus is a nice dog but not a buddy like Ace was. Ace went out when I worked in the yard to follow me around and sit by me when I took a break from my chores. Gus' motive in going out with me is that it is an opportunity to harass the local chipmunk population and dig holes for me to fill in. I miss Ace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yesterday I did one of my lean-to maintenance hikes. I needed a walk in the woods. The lean-to I tend is a bit over 4 miles in and I also tend a camping area a short walk beyond the lean-to.

There was very little trash but some people insist on "going" in the woods rather than use the privy. Unfortunately they don't bury it. Picking up their used TP is quite disgusting even though I take disposable rubber gloves. The lean-to survived the winter with no noticeable damage. I sharpened the pencils that are in the zip-lock bag with the register and swept it out then wandered up to Scott Clearing to police the camping area by the old logging dam. The water was surprisingly low. On my way back out I stopped at Rocky Falls and ate my sandwich at that lean-to. There were dozens of new toads there, all about the size of a fingernail. I took several photos of the rocks including the one above. The toads were too small for a good photo.

On my way home I stopped at Mountain Pond and paddled around it in my canoe for about 90 minutes. I had the pond to myself. There were 2 tents on the shore but no people in sight. My only company was a pair of loons that eyed me from a respectful distance. It was a nice day.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Today I watered the garden with the hose, and tears.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Memorial to Ace

Big D's Ace of Hearts, May 12, 2000 to June 1, 2007

Ace died this morning. He was only 7 years old. He was my best buddy. I called him "my supervisor" because he followed me everywhere, from room to room and I couldn't go outside without him. He watched everything I did. He loved to play ball with me kicking the ball to him, he'd catch it and toss it back with a flip of his head. When I watered the garden he insisted on drinking from the hose. He seemed to think the hose was his personal drinking fountain. He drank from the hose just yesterday as I was watering. I'll never again water the garden without thinking of Ace.

Two weeks ago he stopped eating. I took him to the vet after a few days and the vet thought he was suffering from allergies to pollen. He gave him an anti-histamine shot which did seem to perk him up to eat a little the following day but then he stopped eating again and he was vomiting up the grass he chewed on and what little he did eat. I tried anti-histamine tablets but they didn't seem to work so I took him back to the vet. Now he had a fever so the vet gave him antibiotics. After a few days of no change I called the vet yesterday who gave me anti-vomiting meds for him. This morning at 3AM and at 4AM he was vomiting phlegm. I tried calling the vet but there is no ER for animals. I had to wait until office hours. We got up at 6AM and he couldn't stand so I picked him up and carried him to the truck. We headed for the vets intending to arouse him at home but there was no one home. I tried another vet several miles down the road but it was too late. Ace died as I held him on the back seat of the truck in the second vet's parking area.

Ace was the best. A true and loyal friend. I'll miss you buddy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mt VanHoevenberg Sunrise

On Tuesday I got up at 2AM, drove to the Mt. VanHoevenberg trailhead by 4 and hiked up to the summit to take some photos at sunrise. The spring foliage wasn't as far along as I hoped but it was a nice hike anyway. Between the early hour and it being mid-week I had the mountain to myself for the entire trip even though I took my time coming back down. On the trip back down the mountain I shot lots of spring wildflower photos. I shot enough Purple Trillium photos that I never need shoot another as long as I live (but I'm sure I will) and even spotted one rare Creme Colored Trillium seen here.

After getting back to the trailhead I wandered down Rt. 73 to shoot more spring color. A selection of the photos can be seen at my web album page.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring comes to the Adirondacks

I went South to the mountains today in search of spring color, the myriad of greens, yellows and rust colors that mark the opening of leaf buds. Most of the woods were still brown (the High Peaks still have snow) but the lower elevations, particularly along creeks and around ponds are colorful. Within a week I'm sure the leafed zone will be creeping up the mountain sides.

This photo was taken at Mountain Pond, one of my favorite haunts. I'll be back for more photos in other areas as spring progresses.

Gay Marriage in the News Again

I heard on the news today that gays are suing the state of Connecticut for the right to marry. Connecticut provides for same sex civil unions but gays claim that civil unions are inferior and a violation of their civil rights.

Since 'marriage' as we traditionally define it has both legal and spiritual dimensions, I have a proposal. I think that states should provide only for civil unions (legal rights) regardless of gender and leave 'marriage' (spiritual commitment) to religion. Government's concern is for legal equity in the marriage contract and to insure that any offspring are cared for. The government's concerns are for the stability of society. The spiritual bond and the "status" attached to that is more of a religious concern and should be left to religion. Under this proposal everyone would be treated equally under law even if it is only a union of convenience (yes, people do marry for convenience). It would confer all the legal rights without impinging on anyone's religion since everyone got exactly the same rights of civil union. Those who wished to "marry" would then deal separately with their religion and any battles over how God views the union would take place in the religious community, where they belong, not in the courts.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring at Last!

We've had 2 days in a row now of warm "seasonable" temperatures and the crocus are blooming. They pushed through the ground almost two weeks ago but halted in their tracks when the weather turned cold again and waited patiently under the snow that blanketed everything.

The snow is gone and they wait no more. I'm getting yard work done, interrupted by photos of crocus of course and Ace's persistent attempts to get me to play fetch with him instead.

Monday, April 16, 2007

April Blizzards?

The Noreaster dumped about 5-6 inches of snow on us last night. It's hard to tell exactly how much as it varies from 4 to 8 or more inches depending on how protected the location was or how much drifted in. I spent an hour and a quarter shoveling very wet, very heavy snow. The bottom half inch was really just slush.

I didn't clear the walk and drive as well as I normally would. By the end of the week the temperatures are forecast to be in the 50s so it will all melt anyway.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April SNOW Showers Bring ???

After a false spring the weather turned winter again last Wednesday and we've had new snow on the ground every morning since. Not to be outdone, on Easter Sunday it snowed all day, accumulating almost 2". The birds enjoyed lots of seed to help them through.

Recently we've had a large group of Tricolored Blackbirds come and feed on the ground below the feeder. Their song always reminds me of spring when I was young and I remember hearing them singing along the roadside as I walked to school. Having them in the yard is a reminder that spring is coming despite the recent setbacks in weather.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Random thoughts

We went to visit Diane's parents in Canada for a week. This is a collection of random stuff from that visit and our return.

  • The photo was taken at the Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ont. I went as the guest of one of Diane's cousins who is a volunteer guide there. It was a fun afternoon. I shot 30+ photos and got to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. You can see them in my web gallery. I'll have to go back there again and spend more time.
  • Standing on the balcony of Charlie & June's 8th floor apartment after dark I noted all the lights and concluded that I like my nighttime bright lights in the sky overhead rather than around me on the ground.
  • The news of the pet food poisoning hit while we were there. After we got back I checked the list of brands that were affected to see if the food we give our dogs was on it. It wasn't but there are 53 brands of dog food that are ranging from supposedly low end brands like Walmart's Old Roy to allegedly high end brands like Eukanuba and Iams. It reminded me of my father's tale of the job he once held in a milk plant where they processed evaporated milk. My mother was fussing over which brand was better and he told her they were all the same. In the plant where he worked they made umpteen brands by simply putting different labels on the cans at the end of the production line. Prior to applying the label, there was no difference what-so-ever in the product.
The weather has finally started to act like spring and I'm impatient. I want budding leaves, dry trails to hike and post snowmelt streams to paddle in my canoe.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What's new is old...

I just bought a new computer and was going through some files to see what I wanted to transfer to the new one. The following is a short piece I wrote back in Sept. of '03. The more things change, (you know the rest).

"9/18/03 Over the last 24 hours a confluence of events has made me wonder about what American culture really values. One of the hats I wear is that of family genealogist and I spent a large part of yesterday in the county offices looking for missing details about my ancestors. I know from past experience that birth, death and marriage records are rare to non-existent in the town offices for the 1st 50 to 60 years that this area was settled and spotty for another 70-80 years after that. The stock response is that the records burned and/or that they weren't terribly concerned about keeping records in the early years. Yet when I checked the records of deeds and mortgages for the same periods I found that every inch of land and every dollar exchanged for land has been dutifully accounted for since the county was incorporated."

"This morning I heard a story on NPR about a veteran who despite having been returned from Iraq in a coma and still suffering from her illness had to do battle with the VA for care and she and her daughter spent 2 months homeless waiting to get subsidized housing. A congressman had to step in to get her moved up on the waiting list or she'd still be homeless. According to the report, only 9% of the US population are veterans but 28% of the homeless are veterans."

"Another story in the broadcast was not news to me. I had heard it before. The Bush administration, as part of their budget, is seeking to cut funding for veterans' health care. This is an already badly under-funded system. Appointments take months to get. Appeals of decisions by the VA bureaucracy take 2-3 years."

"We say that the difference between the US and many other countries is that we value human life more than in other cultures. So why is it that we keep strict track of land and money, but not the birth and death of our people? Why is it that we treat our veterans as a disposable commodity? If actions speak louder than words, it appears that land and money are what we value most highly, not our fellow man."

Now back to today: Needless to say I was not surprised at the recent "revelation" of conditions at Walter Reed or the reports that the VA health system is overwhelmed. Nor can I say I was surprised by Bush's hypocracy when he made a speech about how unacceptable the conditions in veteran health care are despite their being so in large part because of his own budget priorities. Several top military officers have been 'fired' over the situation but I suspect they were probably just doing the best they could with the resources the administration had given them and their crime was failing to spin the situation to the administration's satisfaction when they talked to media. Unfortunately the guy who should have been fired is still in the Oval Office tonight.

What does amaze me is that it took so long for the situation to register in the public consciousness. Similar stories have been around for years as evidenced by my essay from 2003 but somehow the public at large was too focused on trivia to notice. Sadly I have to conclude, as I did in Sept. of '03, that the American people do not value the individual nearly as highly as we claim.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More VanHoevenberg...

As I said yesterday, the light was flat and not particularly photogenic. This was shot with an 11mm lens on my Canon 10D and shows the view across the valley South of Mt. VanHoevenberg. Along the horizon (distance exaggerated by the wide-angle lens) from left to right are Mt. Marcy, Gray Peak, Redfield, Colden, Avalanche Mt., Algonquin, Wallface, McNaughton, Santanoni, Street and Nye. Click on the photo for a larger image. All the photos in this blog are available in larger size by clicking on the small one.

Mt. VanHoevenberg is a 4.4 mile round trip in summer from the South Meadow road trailhead. The South Meadow road is not maintained in winter so that adds roughly another ¼ mile to the round trip. It involves only about 500 feet of ascent so it is a very easy day hike.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Awesome Day

I went snowshoeing to an old haunt, VanHoevenburg Mt. I had never done it in winter but a friend was interested in doing it with me and off we went. Driving through Santa Clara the sky was totally overcast and it looked dubious that we would get any views from the summit but by the time we reached Saranac Lake it had cleared.

I saw something new on the way up the mountain. There were tiny black flecks on the snow and I asked Ron what he thought they were. "Snow fleas" he said. They were there in hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions, all up the side of the mountain. They looked like tiny seeds but as we watched, every so often one would jump. I'd never seen a snow flea before. Now I've seen them beyond count.

The light was not the greatest for photography because we were there at mid-day and the mountain faces South but I shot a few anyway. Perhaps I'll post one or two summit views tomorrow. The photo today is for eArThworm who has climbed this mountain with me in summer. She should compare this shot with the one she took of me at the same location and note how much 'shorter' the register box is in winter. A mild winter at that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

News? What gets Covered

This morning my clock radio awoke me with yet another recap of Jet Blue's problems resulting from the Valentine's day blizzard. That makes 8 days in a row that Jet Blue has been a top story for the national media. Last Sunday Peter Pan peanut butter made the news in a salmonella scare but that story lasted in the national media only 2 days and has all but disappeared from attention.

So why is a story of inconvenience that was caused by weather and compounded by poor management by an airline worthy of 8 days of intensive coverage but a story that is potentially a life and death issue only 2 days? To hear the media coverage one would get the impression that Jet Blue was the only airline that experienced any problems, delays or flight cancellations due to the snow storm. How many other airlines were disrupted? We weren't told. As for the peanut butter, how did they settle on Peter Pan peanut butter as the "strongly suspected" source? Have they tested any of the peanut butter to confirm their suspicions? If it isn't confirmed is the source possibly still out there?

As you flip from station-to-station, whether TV or radio, they are all covering exactly the same stories. Who decides what gets covered? They must all be using the same formula for deciding. One bright spot on the cable is BBC America. I turn there and yes, there really are stories out there beyond the US media's "formula news".

Monday, February 19, 2007

Snowshoeing Again

It was -20° last night and the forecast was for a high around 10° with wind chills of -24° so I hesitated about going snowshoeing again but I bundled up and braved it. There was virtually no wind in the woods and it was actually milder than my last outing. Snowmobilers have found the ski trails and tore up the entry trail down to the river. The St. Regis river is still not completely frozen. I walked along the shore for a bit and shot some photos of the open sections. Someone had snowshoed all the way from town up the river to the State Forest. I walked back up the hill and through the woods (above) to where my truck was parked. The tracks in the picture are mine from a couple of days ago before the last light snowfall. No one had been through this particular trail since then.


Yesterday I went snowshoeing again after shoveling the driveway. After beginning as one of the mildest winters I've experienced (62 of them) the last month has been more "normal" for NNY. In the last 3 weeks I've shoveled more snow than in either of the 2 prior winters. I broke trail for the second time in 3 days but only 2-3 inches this time instead of 5-6 inches. I should have taken my camera. The woods were beautiful. I told myself I would take it today but the temperature this morning was -20°F and it is only supposed to get up to 10°F with wind chills of -24° so I may get my exercise on the treadmill today.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Frosty Morning

This morning Diane called me from work to tell me that the trees along the Racquette River were covered with hoarfrost. It was about -11° so I bundled up and set out for Ives Park in Potsdam to shoot some photos of the frost. The frost was already being blown from the trees by a light breeze. I only spent about 15-20 minutes shooting but even with lined mittens my hands got so cold I had difficulty unlocking my truck when I returned to it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


The forecast was for temperatures in the mid-20s today but it barely broke into double digits with a high of 11°. I was looking forward to a long walk in moderately mild temperatures but 11° with a stiff breeze is not moderate. On my usual route I go by a large farmer's field that leaves me wide open to the wind so I decided to try a snowshoe in the nearby State forest. I figured at least I would be out of the wind and it turned out to be a good choice. The snow wasn't deep but there was enough to justify the snowshoes and it was a good workout. I think I'll continue that in place of my walks as long as the snow holds out and next time I'll take a camera.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


This morning it was COLD. Minus 17° to be precise. I waited until about 10 to go out but it was still several degrees below zero. I drove the quarter mile to the Post Office rather than walk as I usually would. When I got to the bottom of the hill I noticed that all the trees along the river were coated with frost so after getting my mail I dashed home to get my camera.

After spending 15-20 minutes taking a dozen photos in the frigid air, trying to keep my fingers warm enough to work the camera I decided that my photo fixation must be a form of lust. I hate getting cold and can't imagine anything other than lust for beautiful photos that would get me to stand around in sub-zero weather.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Strange Christmas Revisited

Last night I took the Christmas tree down. In a normal year I would take it out and stick it upright in the snow near our bird feeders to give the birds a place to roost out of the wind while eating the seed we put out for them. This year there is no snow. Not even one flake.

In fact I put up and took down our outside holiday lights in weather more characteristic or late March/early April than Dec/Jan. I remember one other mild Christmas in my life time. It was 1957. I remember it well because that was the year I got a new sled for Christmas and had to wait several weeks for enough snow to use it. Fortunately I also got two books I had seen in a catalog and wanted badly. They were make-it-yourself projects for boys. Those books went to shop class with me several times and quite a few of the projects from them were built that winter.

So is this Global Warming? Even those scientists who are warning of the prospects of Global Warming are saying that this warm winter in the Northeast has more to do with El'Nino than Global Warming and a few are saying that we may have weather like this all winter. One thing I know it isn't... It isn't much like what I think of as Christmas. I don't suppose the birds will mind not having the tree near the feeder for shelter though.