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Posts from the ‘photography’ Category

Fish and Flamingoes

The day promised to be very chilly, windy, and rainy…not a good day for these arthritic bones to enjoy hiking. The cabin did not have central heat and we finally wised up and put one of the small space heaters in the bathroom so we did not have to work to soap between the chill bumps.

We drove about half an hour or a bit more to the Texas State Aquarium. Glen had been there when it first opened, thought it to be smallish and not to be compared to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago–the first aquarium I’d ever seen and full of art deco details.

We were very surprised when we got to the Aquarium. There is a lot of road construction (isn’t there always) but some of it was repair work due to Hurricane Harvey.

The place is quite large with large glass domes. The ticket price was also a surprise ($35 each and that might have been the senior discount). But inside—-there is a Starbucks and a restaurant inside. We toured the Caribbean area first and were entranced by the 12 coral flamingos.flamingoe204-m

There were sloths, scarlet ibis, a screamer bird, macaws, not to mention deep tanks of fish you could see from on top and then from the side.l-m

Lion fish are so dramatic but they have taken over and are at the top of the food chain elbowing (if fish have elbows) other creatures.

We tried to identify the dolphins as they swam round and round in their tank; the otters came out to play–they are always so delightful, watched part of a bird show, and finally watched a 4 D Planet Earth movie.

It was a full day—and there were docents everywhere—all ready to explain the creatures and answer questions.

It was well worth that $35 dollar ticket.

 

Aransas Wildlife Refuge

Some years ago, I had the misfortune to slip and fall breaking the patellas on my left leg. I was fortunate enough–or dumb enough to work while on crutches. Having a standard vehicle meant I could not drive myself to work; husband drove me to work and while I was at work, took his motorcycle to various nearby places to photograph some of the wildlife. This wildlife refuge was one of his favorite places.

it had sustained some damage during Hurricane Harvey but had two large very tall lookout areas. Whooping cranes could be seen in the far distance and according to the rangers, there were several pairs.

It was windy and chilly up there but a great view.

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This was labeled the alligator pond but none had read the brochure stating they would be available for photo ops that day.

We did find this young fellow crossing the road—there will be more about him much much later

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And another BIG TREE—-I can’t remember how many we did see and we wondered if perhaps some of the ones we saw with multiple trunks within a very small area were a community instead of individual trees.

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Forgot to mention the best part of our trip. Because we both qualified and did buy National Park Senior Forever Passes and then a Texas State Park annual pass–we didn’t spend all that much money on entry fees—except for tomorrow’s entry.

The Big Tree

LIve oaks are known for their longevity along with sequoias. When we toured the western states retracing the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, we..like everyone else was stunned by their size—and took dozens of photos with one of us standing in front of a tree with our arms spread wide–to give an estimate of their size.

These trees are not as tall but they are equally large. Each area seemed to have a ‘Big Tree’ for us to admire. These trees have huge branches that lean down to the ground, some of them requiring props. One tree was thought to be over 500 years old, sprouting from an acorn when Coronado was looking for gold.

It is hard to see just how big they are as this one on Goose Island was fenced off but they are huge. In Beaumont our street is lined with them and in the McFadden Ward House museum there are two trees, brought back as saplings from a battle near San Antonio by a McFadden.

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A week on Goose Island State Park

Wanderlust appears occasionally but with bees, chickens, and dogs, it takes some organization to plan even a short time away from home. The bees don’t require much work this time of year, time is spent building frames, boxes and planning for splits and honey collection.  The chickens have gotten rather spoiled; they expect to be let out of the coop early in the morning, forage about in the yard for yummy grubs and bits of grass they convert into eggs—-dozens of them! And the dogs expect trips to the dog park rain or shine and disapprove of rainy cold nasty weather—if they had lower lips to stick out they would—and they eye us with disdain whenever the weather is not to their liking.

However, we got ourselves organized and took off for Goose Island State Park just a bit north of Corpus Christi. It was an easy drive and we arrived at our Air BnB around 2 in the afternoon.

Rockport was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and recovery has been slow. Congress has been busy with other things. Some houses are without windows; plumbing problems seemed to abound, and only a few restaurants were open; one of them opening the last night of our stay.

Whooping cranes were once on the endangered species list–probably still are. They migrate annually from North Dakota, Wisconsin and such to areas along the Gulf Coast including Goose Creek Island State Park and the wild life refuge. I was surprised and pleased to see and hear whoopers upon our arrival.

The people across the little salt water marsh had a deer feeder; three or four whooping cranes and sandhill cranes gathered around it every morning and late afternoon. I could hear the whoopers flying overhead—what a noisy bunch they are.img_3068-m

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

This week’s photo assignment was ‘mirror’. I knew immediately what image I wanted to capture—but it depended upon the electrician’s work schedule.

Our house is over a hundred years old and has original flooring and light fixtures. We’ve replaced  a few things along the way; updating some of the wiring, replacing broken plumbing pipes, installing mini splits for climate control (a vast improvement over open windows and ceiling fans in the summer and huddling around the gas fireplace in the winter.

But then there were the light fixtures. In some decorating whim of the seventies (I think), we had shag carpet on the stairwell (removed within a month of our moving in) and painted light fixtures. There were some other oddities—the water heater in the corner of the kitchen and the boarded up kitchen windows, the double sink double drainboard cast iron occupying nearly eight feet on one wall and  burst plumbing pipes.

One night while I was waiting for my back pain to ease, I entertained myself by just looking at stuff on the internet. I discovered a place in nearby Houston that would refurbish and rewire old light fixtures.

I took them a set of sconces and a rather plaint chandelier that had been in the breakfast room. When they were finished, they replaced a set of existing sconces and I decided to take the dining room and living room chandeliers in for refurbishing.

It takes some time for all of that to happen; we had a single light bulb in both rooms—mood lighting—romantic in a way but really tough to see the clues in the crossword puzzle each morning.

The chandeliers have now been successfully rehung—the rooms are bright and cheery and I just had to brag on how pretty they are.Sylviq Weir Week 2 Mirror

Here I am trying to get the perfect shot:

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Just to keep my humble, I took a photo through the mirror of a dresser (grandfather’s) looking at another mirror which served as a hat repository–and a place to check self before exiting (grandmother’s). hall20mirror-m

 

Onward

New Year Resolutions abound at this time of year—and a lot of them already broken. Some use a word or phrase to shape their year; I tend to do both. I tend to lean toward the list method. And ruefully the same things appear on the list each year—things like–recover the couch—–fix dining room ceiling…clean up yard….

Some of the tasks are never-ending—how can you ever stay caught up on laundry or cleaning the bathroom?

But then there is the Wisconin motto—Onward…

I think it is a great motto—looking forward, building on the past and still moving—not standing motionless paralyzed by regret or anger but going forward.

I’ve been part of a weekly photo challenge for several years. Some of the participants are expert at filters and composites and other fancy things in photoshop; others seem to live in particularly gorgeous areas with abundance of great photo ops; those are not in my skill set. One year I did try to do some fancy stuff and spent a great deal of time on it; I was rewarded by someone commenting I should have taken the time to find a better photo site…it was really hard not to look at that person’s submission with a highly critical and negative view. But I cheated myself out of not participating for the remainder of the year.

So this year—-it is Onward! and here is my photo:

Week 1 Sylvia Weir Word of the Year

This is a view of Amistad Resevoir just north of Del Rio Texas. Several rivers contribute to the Reservoir but the best known is the Rio Grande. This area is part of the Chihuahuan desert and features some of the typical vegetation but more abundantly due to the reservoir and the amount of water available. Some years the reservoir is quite low but this time it is quite high; fishing is a popular activity.

In Search of Goldenrod

turtle204-mWeather in this part of Texas can be and usually is hot and steamy. Sometimes we get a front from the north along with the lovely fragrance of the paper mills. But this past weekend was perfect–temps in low 80’s, low humidity and just a bit of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. It was a perfect weekend to be outdoors.

After the dogs had their twice daily trip to the dog park to check out all the other dogs and owners, chase frisbees, tennis balls, and bark at random bicyclists and skateboarders and other disliked dogs, we (sans dogs—they are not good travelers–Toby prefers to drive and Dora needs to alert us to all persons or creatures within her eyesight–and she has excellent eyesight) spent some time at Tyrell Park on the south side of Beaumont.

We were surprised  we had the place mostly to ourselves but enjoyed walking around the ponds. This is the tertiary treatment area for our sewer system; and is filled with water birds, alligators(ddidn’t see any), turtles (we saw two) and frogs (heard them but didn’t see them). Two nice young men were walking their three dogs and I tried to get their portraits (the dogs–not the young men–although they were nice looking but thought husband might have been a tad offended—or maybe not–I took photos of him)

another20purple20flower-mFlowers were blooming in the garden part of the park, but my goal for the day was to capture some great goldenrod photos for an art project I have in mind. It is still in the thinking stage but the photos will wait patiently for me on my smugmug site for the next phase.

You can take a look at the photos here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/A-day-at-Tyrell-Park-October-2019/i-ZLWdsQb/A

Crooked

Sylvia Weir CrookedThis week’s photo assignment was ‘crooked’.

This was taken in a smithy in Gladys City, a reproduction of buildings from the days of the Spindletop Gusher–the first in Texas. I spent a lot of time in the smithy–my dad did a lot of work in his workshop–welding, grinding-sharpening blades on hoes and mowers and occasionally knives, and in later years making reproduction engines.

We had an anvil in the basement, he used to crack black walnuts on it–so did we. He would pick out the nutmeats while watching television at night.

This anvil was held down by those crooked nails at each foot.

One of my brothers, destined to become a fine carpenter, bent a lot of nails–and put a few knobs on his head wielding a hammer far too heavy for his four year old hands.

I remember pounding nails into a nice five gallon bucket of paint–they made such a lovely plunk sound when they hit the paint….I think we put in about five nails in the lid before being discovered.

And then my grandfather kept a bucket full of bent nails–meant to be straightened and re-used…one of my cousins took those home with him, used them all, and hoped to find another bucket full.

MeadFest and Bottle Brushes

Our driveway had puddles; the skies had puffy white clouds floating across the bay, and there was a gentle breeze. Our drive through the marshes of southeast Texas was pleasant enough in itself but we hoped we would not be too late for the MeadFest.

A versatile musician was singing and playing a sax–a variety of songs appealing to those of us who remembered when we bought the vinyl records; vendors were offering samples of their mead, one offered  beautiful wooden mugs, and then there was the winery offerings.

I attempted to take photos of the bees harvesting nectar from the bottle brush shrubs–wildly waving blooms despite a helping steadying hand from husband.bee20at20bottom20of20bottle20brush20tree-m

And then there was the dog.

Glen nearly always has dog biscuits in his pants pockets.

This dog was not quite so sure about this.

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Of Levees and Tertiary Drainage Ponds

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Tyrell Park is on the south side of Beaumont and has the typical features of a park; picnic tables, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, and plenty of green grass and trees. There is also a golf course, greenhouses, formal gardens suitable for special occasion photographs such as graduations, quincinaras, engagements, weddings, and a riding stable.

But the best part–for me–is the Cat Tail Marsh.

It is huge and I’ve never walked all the way around it.

And every time I go, I take a gazillion photos of the birds.

Most of them catch the bird in not so elegant poses–sort of like taking a family portrait at the dinner table–forks looking like they are stuck on someone’s nose, mouths open, hands reaching, and so forth. But with people, you can ask them to stop and say ‘cheese’ but birds aren’t interested in their image recorded for posterity or looking their best with their hair combed and without spinach in their teeth.

So I toss a lot of photographs.

And then sometimes I catch one that reminds me of home.

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