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Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch… March 31, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.

…Spring is arriving.  The weather is unsettled, with passing storms and patches of sunlight chasing each other across the landscape:


Horses who stood stoically by their hay bales now wander the pasture nuzzling the earth for fresh shoots:

at pasture

Open water appears on farm ponds:

pond with birches

Wild turkeys no longer have to dig in the snow for their seeds and bugs:

little turkeys

…and cattle graze the venerable farm fields of New England:

venerable fields

The rivers are running, and the first few hardy wild flowers are appearing.

Stay tuned.

Dinner With TCR! March 22, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Dinner with TCR.

Tonight, a flavorful treatment for white fish ( in this case, cod fillets.)

Curry-rubbed cod, simmered in diced tomatoes, with celery, fennel and carot added late enough in the game to retain their crunch:

fish and succotash

…served with a succotash of posole corn and lima beans.

‘Twas really, really guud!

An Ocatillo Patch. March 22, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.

Really, a beautiful place to pass a morning, with flowering ocatillo plants and cool clouds:


And then, a rustling in a bush.  I stopped and looked, stood still for a while, and finally saw what had stirred:


Do you see it?  …No?   Look closer…

bunny eye

Why, it’s Jack!  He’s patiently waiting for me to go away.  So patiently, in fact, that I was able to walk around him at a range of about fifteen feet and do several lens changes to get these photos.  And I never saw him move after the initial twitch which had alerted me to his presence.

He was a beauty, though…


Jumbo. March 21, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.

Camping at Joshua Tree is strictly regulated: camp in designated sites only.

What this stifles in my free spirit is more than made up for by the preservation of the area’s natural feel, even if it means we campers are all packed together in a few camping areas.

The most convenient (and largest) camping area is called “Jumbo,” and though there are prettier places to pitch a tent, most of the smaller ones get taken first.  So rather than scurry around in the dark trying to locate a vacant site in a pristine spot, we opted for the convenient Sure Thing and snagged a spot in Jumbo.

And herd mentality be damned, this was a pretty cool place to be:

jumbo campground

Hiking around the campsite was a trip – rock formations and canyons everywhere:

camp canyon

Lizz has the car-camping thing pretty wired, with a great tent which goes up easily, fits anywhere and accommodates two…

campsite at jumbo

…and a pair of plunge-pots for the morning coffee!

coffee time!

What an excellent tour guide!  🙂

The Cholla Garden. March 21, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.

We hit the road in the pre-dawn dark and got down to a nice patch of cholla cacti before the sun came up.

It was an interesting place to watch that happen:

cholla field at sunrise

cholla patch

As the light flattened we turned our eyes toward the details.  Frau B. at work:

frau b in the cholla

She’s difficult to see – left of center, in a red coat…

…probably taking close-ups of the flora.  Me too:

cholla branch

cholla fruit

Then it was back to camp for breakfast!

On The Road With TCR! March 20, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.

‘K, where was I?

Oh yeah, in Vegas.  Land of The Free, Home of The Broke, brightly lit lair of That Giant Sucking Sound.

We packed the Patriot (kids, don’t try this at home!) and got out of there tout-de-suite.

Headed south, we did, with Robert Cat eagerly scanning the road ahead for lunch:

robert at the helm

I’ve always found the desert to be intriguing, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.  Lizz drove The.Entire.Way.  Which was cool with me, as I get out West so seldom and loved the opportunity to play Swivel-Head.

We headed for our first night’s destination, Joshua Tree National Park, a couple of hours south on the divide between the higher Mojave and lower Sonoran deserts.

Evening found us in the vacinity of the Amboy Crater, somewhat north of Twenty-Nine Palms, where we stopped to enjoy what would turn out to be our last colorful sunset of the trip – the skies just didn’t cooperate that way.

But for this evening, it was good:

amboy crater

Amboy’s black cinder cone punctuated the planar landscape as the wind, another constant theme of the trip, picked up.  In these conditions, rocks and bushes make better subjects than grasses and flowers, which refuse to stand still for the long exposures necessary in low light.  Here, dried tufts of vegetation dot a vista of volcanic rock:

volcanic landscape

And amidst the starkness, a single desert lily, Hesperocallis undulata,   doubtless in reference to its beautiful wavy-margined basal leaves:

lily at amboy crater

And then, no big surprise, the sun went down, it got dark, and we continued on to JT to camp.

More in the future, though this weekend is looking busy.   🙂

The Smith College Bulb Show. March 20, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.

Last weekend, while in the depths of my physical discomfitude.  It was elbow-to-elbow, and we shuffled through like livestock at a slaughterhouse.  No tripods allowed, no room, no time.  And I felt like crap to boot.

But the flowers were indeed beautiful, and despite everything being hand held at very high ISOs, there were still a few decent shots:

smith bulb show

lots of blossoms

Finally, a purpose for a “gazing ball:”

gazing ball

Left to right, that’s Yours Truly, my girlfriend Slim and Ultimate Spawn, my littlest sweetie.  I was so glad she could join us, and subsequently dismayed as my condition went down the tubes and I fretted at the prospect of her becoming ill when she returned to school.

Ah well, back to the flowers.  There were skads of them, all shapes and sizes:

red and white bunches

Some in clusters, some complex:

striped blossom

But really, my favorites were the simpler tulips:

white blossom

red blossoms

orange blossom

Sorry, no names on these – I was just trying to get through it without collapsing.

‘Twas pretty, though.   🙂

This weekend I’m going to try to get to the Mount Holyoke Flower Show, which has a reputation as being pretty good!

OK, So I Went Out West. March 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.

Got there by plane.

Flew out of Logan International in Boston just as the sun threatened to rise:


…Down to Dulles in DC, then off to my destiny, over the corrugated hills of The East:


…the red rock canyons of The West:


Over snow-capped ranges


To Las Vegas, Cheap Flight Capitol of the World, where I reconnected with Frau Biergut and picked up our rental:


That’s Lizz on the right and Robert at the helm of our Jeep (in name only) Patriot.

Honestly, our little ride performed minimally throughout the trip, and if you’re shopping for a capable vehicle, keep the momentum up; this ain’t your stop.  The only remarkable thing about it was the Palm-Tree Floodlights on the roof!

Stay tuned for Part Two.

Dinner With TCR! March 18, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Dinner with TCR.

So this warm weather had me hankerin’ to fire up the grill and pretend it was Spring.

I rummaged through the freezer for something to sacrifice to the Gods of Vernal Longing and found some shrimp and a bag of big fattie scallops, and the deal was sealed.

Some time later:


Lemon Grilled Shrimp and Scallops, served over grilled polenta with an avocado aioli for dipping, and a side of wilted baby spinach and red onion with tamari-toasted Shitakes.

It’s nice to have my appetite back…

Ruby Tuesday! March 17, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.

Well, back in the saddle am I, with a photo I took out my kitchen window this weekend.

I have a pair of cardinals hanging around, waiting for the weather to be right to get their nest up and running.  They’re shy, though, and don’t like us Humans and our cameras.  So this li’l guy did his best to stay deep in my bushes and thwart my auto-focus, bur Manuel came to my rescue and managed this:


Thanks to Gizmo for the shot, and to Mary at Work Of The Poet for this lovely little meme!