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Dinner With TCR April 28, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Dinner with TCR.
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Earlier this week I had a delicious dinner of boneless chicken breast sautéed with ramps, the latter courtesy of neighbors Frau Biergut and Miz Lu(mena.) Their afternoon of foraging was obviously productive – Thank You, Ladies!

But by tonight I still had half a breast left, and it was time for Drastic Measures. So out came my little food processor, and the result was a Curried Chicken Salad, here served on a bed of field greens with tomatoes and kalamata olives:

‘Twas guud, and will make a perfectly passable lunch as well.

Enjoy!

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I Am One! April 28, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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Or, more accurately, Little Bang Theory is one year old today!

And WOW, what a year it’s been, filled with new friends, new challenges and new opportunities.

Since my first post on April 28, 2007 I’ve dabbled in poetry, taken up photography and gone under The Big Knife.  I’ve ranted about the asswipes who are running our Country, shared my goofy sense of humor and learned many things from each and every one of you who stop by here, God knows why, on a semi-regular basis.  The six of you have erred on the side of indiscretion well over twenty-seven thousand times and counting, and have given me over twenty-six hundred pieces of your mind.  I know those are relatively humble numbers, but still, they boggle my tiny mind!

I’m almost, but not quite, too boggled to say, “Thank You.”

On The Rocks! April 27, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing.
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Yesterday I had the pleasure of being invited out by some climbing friends, and without ever putting a hand on the rock (I’m not functionally ready for that yet) I had a blast!

The crew for the day:

Tanya, Neko, Tim and Brian.

We went to nearby Farley Ledge, where there’s a burgeoning “climbing scene” with people coming from all over to enjoy both the Sport climbing (with permanent “fixed” bolt anchors) and the “Trad” climbing (where climbers place their own removable anchors as they progress.) Being an Old Fart who grew up climbing before Sport climbing even existed, I tend to prefer the “clean climbing” ethic of leave-no-trace Trad climbing. But that’s just me, and I’ve accepted Sport as a valid variation of the vertical game.

Here’s Tanya climbing one of the Sport routes, Eye Opener :

The section of the crag with mostly Sport routes was pretty crowded though, so we beat feet to an upper tier of walls where the Trad scene still prevails, and I hope it remains that way – it’s beautiful up there, cloaked in hemlocks and looking a lot less worn.

Here’s Brian starting up the unfortunately aptly named Dirty Corner :

These first few moves (and the last few as well!) were the “cruxes” of this climb, that is, the most difficult moves, which inform the difficulty rating of the climb. I misremembered the rating, having not climbed this route in perhaps twenty five years, and told Brian that it was mostly 5.6 climbing, with a few moves of 5.8 at the start and finish. Turns out it was at least 5.9, a considerable jump in difficulty from the lower grades. Sorry Folks!

Tim high up on the route:

I had a great time hanging my butt off the top of this sweeping wall – I haven’t had a climbing harness on in a year!

Next, Tim lead a really nice face climb, moving delicately on thin face-holds and finding adequate opportunities to place “protection” in the propitiously spaced horizontal cracks:

Nice job, man!

It was pretty chilly in the deep shade, and Tanya and Neko snuggled up for a nice warm nap:

Aren’t they cute?

We’d almost packed up to leave when Brian, an inveterate Crack Master, succumbed to the Siren song of Peapod Crack, one of my favorite climbs at Farley, and perhaps in all of Southern New England. It more nearly resembles Out-West granite climbing (the rock here is gneiss,) with straight-ahead hand jamming and lay-backing being the techniques-du-jour:

Having my cameras with me took the sting out of not climbing. I actually missed it less than I thought I might, and was pretty content to just noodle around snapping off pictures. I’ll be doing a lot more of that as the season progresses and I get some strength back in my arms and shoulders – I’m (insert best Deiter vioce) as weak as a little guuhl! 😆

A Night Sky. April 25, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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From this evening:

Treading Water. April 25, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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The art and skill of Walking On Water has been mythologized and reversed-anthropomorphosized since it was first observed by sinking people, noticing and dearly coveting the abilities of so many other of God’s creatures to go about their business despite the fact that they were in over their heads.

The numbers of the so enabled are beyond my counting; among them are fowl in protracted take-offs, and more numerously and abundantly, insects of varied forms.

Now when water birds do The Jesus, they tend to explode in an orgy of flapping feathers and a flurry of flying feet. And frankly, to Human observers, that looks like a LOT of work, especially in light of the slimness of the chance that we could ever beat feet and fly.

But insects

Ah, the idyllic life of the water bug, flitting, pausing, posing, defying gravity with a deft command of surface tension, with agile agita, the staccato dance and Dervish-spinning of whirligigs and water beetles, and the gentle glide of the Water Strider, a stick-slender Hans Brinker on an unfrozen mission, both hunting and hunted, nearly invisible but for its shadow:

The Strider’s Light is deflected, channeled around the slim contours of its diminutive form, bent by its being, funneled to its feet and mirrored in the menisci where adhesion battles cohesion battles a phenomenon we’ve heard of but can’t quite comprehend, yet somehow know is true.

Oh, that we too could attain that lightness, rise to the surface and skate away,

skate away,

to Freedom!

Chesterfield Gorge April 23, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.
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On one of my recent homeward meanderings, I decided to visit the Chesterfield Gorge on the East Branch of the Westfield River.

Just saying that evokes a sort of geographical ambiguity, and interestingly, I’ve always found that area of the state to be in some sense ambiguous. The three branches of the Westfield share a common geology and a common destination, but otherwise their characters can be so very different.

The East Branch seems to be the largest of the three, though I don’t have any hard data on that. It just seems more present and powerful a lot farther north. And by the time it passes through Chesterfield, it’s a real river, and the high waters of Spring are a thing to behold.

Like the Deerfield River to its north, the Westfield has carved its signature in the land, most impressively in Chesterfield, where the river passes between the walls of a schist chasm, crashing through drops and eddys into deep, dark pools beneath shadowed walls:

The bracing spray of a youthful Spring flow is slowly supplanted by the mists of a steamy summer, and all the while the river infuses its surroundings with the Water of Life. Mosses grow in profusion on surfaces too steep for forests:

The late afternoon sun throws long shadows across the walls as evening approaches; the parking lot clears out, and you’re left alone in the chill air.

Savor it. Listen to the river.

Images From My Day April 23, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I’m still working an hour south of where I live, and despite having to rise early and burn the extra gas, I’m enjoying the opportunity to find new ways home in the late afternoon.

Every road has its views, its light, its revelations. And each time I pull over (I really am a hazard!) to look at something, I notice something else, usually the smaller things which so subtly contribute to the larger picture.

This farm in Cummington had a beautiful light, and colors which applied my brakes without my conscious involvement:

No photographic funny-business there – that’s pretty much a push-the-button shot.

I pushed through a nascent elderberry thicket to get it, and noticed the tiny umbels along their branches, destined with just a bit of luck to become clusters of white flowers, then purple berries. Their future is so all there for the appreciative eye to see:

And beneath my feet (well, between my feet – I’ve become something of a citizen/keeper of the natural world) a bloom of bloodroot crowed their fleeting supremacy over a patch of damp pasture:

In a couple of weeks they’ll be nowhere to be seen, subjugated by a conquering army of invasive Japanese Knotweed.

And along side, a herd of beefalo couldn’t care less:

It felt like a productive detour, this little dirt road did. Hope you enjoy it.

Baby Sundews! April 21, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Spring springs, and things bloom.

On the schist road cuts delineating the northerly edge of Route 2 in Florida, a relatively rare colony of sundews thrives on the perpetually wet biomass draping the soft, digestible rock. I’d photographed them before, with my fancy point-and-shoot, and the results were gratifying.

So I went back there today, scheming to catch the beginning of the seasonal cycle of these cool little plants.

After some crafty parking in a pre-improved pull-out (I specialize in Minor Modifications to Existing Structures) I got out my ladder and camera kit and started walking the narrow space between the traveling lane and the jagged rock wall.

Ten minutes later, I saw what I came for and set up for the capture:

This will be the inside cover photo for my forthcoming book, “Half-Assed Photography: The Rube Goldberg School.”

My prey was cornered, cut off from escape, powerless as I trimmed away last year’s intertwining grasses, now brown with memories of their season. I opened her up for Spring to see, for the Sun to see, for You to see:

This little beauty is a thumb’s width across, but will soon be three times that.

At the risk of setting the bar where life doesn’t lead me, I’m planning on a seasonal goal of visiting selected natural sites repeatedly over the course of a year, and trying to discern the changes. This and the Green River Moss photos will be the first installments.

A Six Random Things Meme. April 21, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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OK, I’m abandoning my general principle of stiffing meme-passers and taking Mathman up on this one, because it’s easy and quick and I have more coffee to drink before I head out with my picture-box.

Here’s The Deal:

Link to the person who tagged you (done. )
Post the rules on your blog (done. )
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six random people by linking to their blogs.
Let each of the six know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment (on their blogs).
Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Had the task been “six things we don’t know about you,” I’d have screamed and sent him a virus for his troubles. I mean, I’ve already showed you my ass, what else could you want to know.??

Anyway, here goes:

1) I almost always wear two pairs of socks. The explanation is more complex than I really want to get into at the moment; it’s sunny out and this sitting-around-blogging stuff is making me fat!

2) I prefer to eat my tomatoes with lots of black pepper and NO SALT. Salt is for pussies who can’t handle pepper.

3) I’ve been arrested in three states, though not all of them “took.” If there were truly any justice in the world, that number would be much closer to forty-nine (haven’t been to Hawaii yet…)

4) As nature abhors a vacuum, so do I. My floors can be a bit, um, “festooned,” shall we say? But I keep my kitchen, bathroom and bed-sheets in What-If-I-Get-Lucky condition. If you know what I mean.

5) Speaking of which, I only have six. But I have it from Reliable Sources that they’re six particularly nice ones!

6) While I’m always, ALWAYS ready to try something different, and am foolishly looking forward to my first Haggis, I’ll pass on the fermented duck embryos which I heard described on NPR, thanks to some “foul” -smelling experiments I did in the fifth grade.

OK, that’s all I have time for, I can feel my nascent tan fading and my ass spreading out as I sit here typing, so I’m off into the ecosphere to fish for photos!

Oh, yeah, the “tagging” part –

Phydeaux and Phriends

A Few Choice Words

pidomons posts

Saying Nothing Charmingly,

and last but not least,

Hill’s Country.

Sic ‘Em, Kids!

The Schwing Of Spring! April 20, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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My recent foray up the North River was a duplicitous ploy to get up into Vermont and come down the Green River, namesake of our local Teeming Megalopolis of Greenfield.

I wanted to do this because, in addition to being a soul-soothingly beautiful little river running through yet another deep, verdant valley, I had also noticed that the dirt (read: mud) road which parallels it is flanked on its uphill side by myriad small blasted road-cuts through the world’s crappiest deteriorating schist (rock climbers notice this kind of thing,) and that these little escarpments are festooned with a variety of mosses.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention for any length of time, you know that I have Moss-Wood. Since beginning my forays into photography, I’ve discovered a whole ‘nother world in the forests of moss and lichen which glide unnoticed beneath our strides, some so fragile that a poorly placed boot can end its existence.

Forever.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to document, insofar as my rudimentary skills allow, the Universe of Tiny Things which I encounter in my travels, and the phases which they go through in their life cycles.

So back to The Green:

Here’s some moss which is just emerging from its winter cloak of snow and ice. In fact, just below the photo there’s a chest-high ice bank, the reminder of a banner snow year.

But what caught my attention (because I was looking for it!) was the appearance of some sort of reproductive parts (hereafter referred to as “sexy bits”) which had escaped my prior notice, despite having spent much of my conscious life looking at nature:

See it? No? Look closer:

Fifty years of tromping through the deep verdancy of New England’s splendid forests, of bedding down for the night on lush carpets of this stuff as a kid, of scraping it off of rocks as a climber, and I never saw this before.

It makes me wonder what else we’re destroying, or at least taking totally for granted, as we pursue our human mission of conquest and development and plunder.

I seriously think we need to slow down before we’ve paved Paradise to put up that parking lot.