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Winter At Last! December 27, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Last weekend we had a taste of wintry things to come – frozen ponds:

Plainfield, Snow

…snow in the hill towns:

Spruces in Windsor

…and roads obscured by blowing snow:


I slid off that one going about twenty MPH (not at this exact spot) and did a nose-plant in a six foot ditch. Coulda been worse; I threw it in 4 wheel drive and kept going. The incident added to the deterioration of the lower plastic panel on my front bumper, which needed replacing anyway.

Hey, everything still works and I’m not injured in the least, so that’s a great outcome for a zero-friction event!

This morning, though, was the real  start of winter:

Snowy Morning

We got upwards of a foot of this beautiful stuff. Looks like Susan and I are going snow shoeing!  🙂

When it came to shoveling our cars out, my younger daughter Ursula (visiting from Boston) was a champion:

Ursi Shoveling

The snow was somewhat heavier than we’d hoped and stuck annoyingly to our shovels, but we toughed it out long enough to get the cars cleared with enough clearance for our plow guy to handle the rest.

Thanks, Ursi, and Thank You Father Sky!  😉

Beaver Fever. December 23, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Along route 8A in Hawley, a beaver has decided to turn a tumbling brook into a series of ponds:

Beaver Dam

It’s pretty, unless it floods your yard and home, or pollutes your well with Giardia lamblia,  or just plain takes down the trees along your private stretch of brook:

Beaver Damage

City people sign petitions to Save The Beavers, while country people have to live with the consequences. As often as not, they find a way to make the problem go away, regardless of whatever laws the mammal-huggers pass.

I’m a big booster of Nature, but see us as a part of it which ought not to be disregarded, as long as we recognize the rest of it.

Dark Horse Climbing Comp! December 19, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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This past weekend I had the opportunity to photograph the Dark Horse Climbing Competition at Metrorock climbing gym in Everett, MA.

That was pretty cool – some of the best young climbers from around the country going mano a mano  for real prizes, and for the love of trying reealy  hard.  😉

The three finals problems were set up so the competitors couldn’t see more than one at a time. Unfortunately, that meant that neither could I! As the competitors started at five minute intervals, I ran my butt off to get these shots, especially because I like to photograph these things from above, which meant climbing down from a shot, running around the gym and climbing up somewhere else.

And despite growing a few new muscles in the process, I missed a lot of the action – bummer!

But then, that’s how it goes when one person tries to be in three places at once.

So here are a few of the early highlights culled from the 440+ shots I took, most of which have yet to be processed.

Isabelle Faus holds onto a whole lotta nada as she balances around the holdless corner on Problem #1:


Francesca Metcalf goes wide at the start of Problem #3:


Meagan Martin defying gravity on Problem #2:


…and Sébastien Lazure snags the improbable fly-by cross-over on Problem #3, launching from the light blue hold at lower left:


My shoulders hurt just looking at that one. 😉

I may have more to share soon, but meanwhile, congratulations to all of the participants for their amazing efforts!

Drydock. December 19, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Along the road in Shelburne Falls:


A sailboat sits it out near the Lamson Sharp cutlery factory.


What’s Up With The White Stuff? December 19, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Inquiring minds want to know:


Apparently these Wee Beasties weren’t in the moooood for sleet.  😉


Being There. December 14, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.

Oh, what a beautiful morning! Clear skies, seasonable temps, a fresh pot of coffee.

You got The Boy up, fed and dressed, and Li’l Sis after that.  You don’t even mind going to work – it’s Friday, after all!

So off you go, The Boy to kindergarten, Li’l Sis to daycare, you to work. It’s blue skies and puffy clouds all the way from here to The Weekend!  🙂

Mid-morning, the smell of coffee break gets you up from your chair. Some work behind you, a little more to go, a light afternoon – you’ve arranged to get out a bit early. Christmas shopping, you know. Your boss understands – she’s got kids, too.

Your pocket vibrates: a text message.

Reading it, you put your cup down slowly, trying to process. “Come to the school. emergency.” Your smile fades to a furrowed brow, and your boss notices.

“What’s up? Everything OK?”

“Yeah, I… I think so. Hey, I gotta pick my kid up at school. Do you mind if I…”

“No, go ahead. We’re good here, have a nice weekend. And get an early start on that shopping.” She smiles, with just a touch of concern in her eyes.

You’re driving a little wild as you get to the school. A text message? Not a phone call? You try calling to find out if The Boy isn’t feeling well, no answer. Very strange.

As you turn the last corner, there are police cars, lights flashing, and a blue hand pulls you over.

“I’m a parent, I need to get…”

The Officer tells you to leave the car right where it is and directs you to a side lot, where other parents are standing, waiting, anguished. Damn,  why hadn’t you had the radio on? This looks like news, and you might have seen the congestion coming, had a clue.

Soon you’ve heard the worst of it: somebody with a gun, shootings. Your heart is in your throat. Shootings??

The Parent-Mob grows until it seems everybody in town is there, or at least everyone with young children.

Then, from the fire station, a teacher appears, leading her class, and two dozen parents break off from your group, run forward calling the names of their children, some crying, each desperate to hug and hold their little jewel.

Then another teacher and his brood, and more parents swoop forward, snatching their children from the clutches of gravity, thanking God, lavishing kisses, bathing confused little faces in tears of gratitude.

You watch the firehouse doors, praying for the sight of your teacher, The Boy’s teacher, but the next one isn’t her, and the next  one isn’t her, and your chest feels like it’s in a vise.

You look around at the thinning crowd of faces, hearing only a roar in your ears where the desperate prayers of these other young parents should be, and you see mostly the parents of The Boy’s classmates. A slow, freezing cold grips you, the same awful cold you see in their eyes, and as a last group of parents break away and run toward their children, colliding in muffled sobs, you meet the eyes of the police separating you from the awful truth, see the grief and pity in the faces, their jaws clenched, their eyes filling as they struggle to Be Professional.

The woman next to you grabs your elbow, not looking at you, wild eyes overflowing, knees buckling. You catch her fall, this woman you now recognize as living half a block from you, the one with the little girl just The Boy’s age.

A police officer comes to your aid, helps her softly to the ground, and you see the look in his eyes, “I’m So Sorry,” and you know that her little girl isn’t coming out of that fire station.

And in that instant a lightning bolt sears its way through your mind, your heart, your soul,  and you realize that The Boy isn’t coming out either.


Perhaps I should apologize for putting “you” into this account; after all, it wasn’t your  child who was killed this beautiful Friday morning.

But there will be other Fridays, or Wednesdays or, God forbid, Sundays, and there will be other schools, temples, movie theaters, malls.

It happens in big cities, in small towns, wherever We The People might carve out our little piece of Heaven. It happens to Liberals and Conservatives, to Christians, Jews, Muslims and Atheists.

And there’s absolutely no reason it can’t happen to you or me, or to our children.

For a lot of parents in Newtown, Connecticut, there will be no Christmas shopping this weekend.

It’s time to talk about why.

Hoar Frost. December 14, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Along a frozen dirt road in upper Florida MA, a weeping shoulder pushed its wetness skyward as the dry sky demanded tribute:

_MG_5704 B&W

Hoar frost is by its nature dirty, and this black and white rendition dodges the visual complication of the coarse mingling of water and earth.

That one’s thanks to Ziggy, my Sigma 50mm lens, which has the shortest minimum focusing distance of the lenses in my kit, as well as a very small aperture. This was shot at f/40 for maximum depth of field without employing focus stacking HDR.

A Visitor To Our Yard! December 12, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This morning, from the kitchen window:

_MG_5672 Crop1

An Eastern Bluebird surveying things from our asparagus patch, perhaps thirty yards away.

Once again, not “magazine quality,” but still fun to look at. 😉

Zappadan, Day Eight. December 11, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, music.
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As we keep the flame alive during Frank’s absence, there’s plenty of material out there (yeah, He built that!) to choose from.

I’ll start with tonight’s dinner, a humble meal inspired by the 1970 album of the same name:


Now, that in itself would be a paltry tribute to  man who spent his adult life making music which will survive him by centuries, and defending Freedom of Speech from the Theocratic Crunge we here in America call “The Right.” So here is Frank speaking Truth to Power on CBS’ Nightwatch in 1988, as was his daily wont.

Frank Zappa tells Charlie Rose what he thinks:

Frank’s disdain for the Main$tream Media was always thick enough to cut with an axe, but here he treats Charlie Rose with more deference than he showed the troglodytes he ate whole on Crossfire in 1986 (6:16, “I love it when you froth like that ,”  he says to dim-witted gasbag John Lofton.)

More music and words from Frank will be forthcoming as we hold the fort in His absence.

Along The Deerfield. December 10, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On the way to the Shelburne Falls post office this morning I spied an eagle in a tree across the Deerfield river from Route 2.

Naturally, I hung a Bat Turn to get a shot.

I took these from my driver’s seat while pulled over on the shoulder:

_MG_5659 Crop3

That’s from about 50 yards away, with Gizmo’s 400mm and a 2X Tele-Extender, and cropped pretty hard.

I was hoping to get this beauty taking off, but all it seemed inclined to do was preen in the drizzle.  😦

At last it spread it’s wings:

_MG_5662 Crop2

…but only hopped to another nearby branch.

These were taken at ISO 4000 and f/11, so they’re not technically great. Still, I had fun shooting them; gotta practice that steady hand, especially with no auto focus or image stabilization on this lens!