Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #99-Old and New

As places go, the United States isn’t very old, only about 250 years old.  You have to travel to Europe or Asia to find really old artifacts.  One of the best places to find old construction is the State of Israel.  Itself, it is pretty new, having been founded in 1948. But the Covenant from God, giving the land to the Jews, is pretty old, dating from around 2000 BC.  In 2007, we visited Israel with Michael Medved, and I had a chance to explore the land of my ancestors  All over Israel, you find ancient things.  One place we visited was the Fortress of Masada, where, in the year 73AD, a band of Jews fought to the death, and committed suicide rather than be captured by the Romans.

Tram-Masada

This is how you get from the ground to the top of the massive fortress built right into the mountainside.  A very new mode of transport up the walls of an ancient structure. Here’s a sample of what you see when you get there.

Walls, Masada
Walls and room, Masada, Israel

Fast-forward to 1991.  In the summer, I spent a magical three weeks in Cambridge, England, on a UCLA program, studying Medieval English Society.  We went a numerous field trips around the area, visiting towns and castles dating from the period.  One of my favorite places was the monastery of Bury St. Edmunds.  We read the memoirs of a monk, Jocelyn de Brakelond, who lived at the monastery about 1080-1100 AD.

Bury St. Edmunds
House, built into the ruins of the abbey at Bury St. Edmunds, Ely

See how the relatively new house is built right into the medieval ruins!

Cambridge-Lavenham
High Street, Lavenham. A wool town.

The houses on the High Street in Lavenham date from the medieval period.  I think the vehicles are newer than that!

Cambridge view
Myself, in 14th Century doorway, Trinity Hall, Cambridge-I’m 5’6″ tall

This was me in 1991.  The doorway in the College where we stayed, dates from the 14th Century.

Orford Castle
Fireplace, Orford Castle, Suffolk

Orford Castle was built in the late 1170s.  I don’t think the builders of the castle had access to the device next to the hearth.

I think we should appreciate old things, especially ancient things that have survived to today.  Much of what we build nowadays is not built to last centuries, so maybe people hundreds of years from now won’t remember us as easily as we remember the ancient Israelites, or the early English.

As Ralph Stanley, the well-known Bluegrass artist used to say “Watch where you’re goin’, and never forget where you came from”.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #98-Delicate Colors

Others have mentioned that life is fragile.  This blogger begs to differ.  On our Planet Earth, not only is Life not fragile, there is no niche anywhere on Earth that is not occupied by some form of Life.  Living things have been found from the deepest deep-sea trenches under the oceans, to the volcanic craters of active volcanoes both below the seas and on islands in Hawaii and Indonesia; to the hot springs of Yellowstone, to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, to the deserts of Africa and Central Asia.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by temperate Rain Forests.  In places like these, Life is so profuse, layers upon layers have their own kinds of living things.

NurseLog

This is a “nurse log” at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on the Olympic Peninsula.  The logs all have mosses growing on them.  You can see the big hole in the fallen log-inside that hole are insects.  Insects also populate the moss on the logs.  You can see other plants growing out of that log.  It’s quite remarkable how many layers of Life there are in, on, and around that fallen log.  Eventually, big trees will grow on top of that fallen log, and the insects and bacteria will consume it.  Many of these logs are found to have holes in them, made by woodpeckers hunting for the insects that live there.

Down on the beach below, even the rocks have their beautiful color variations.

Rocks

And the various grasses.  These are very hardy grasses, growing in a sometimes-harsh environment of salt water and nearly-constant wind.

beach grasses

And sometimes, in the midst of these delicate colors, something very bright stands out.

OrangeFlowers

Welcome to Life on Earth.  How fortunate we are to live on this beautiful planet, with living things all around us.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #97 – Pastimes

One of my favorite things to do when I’m out and about is bird-watching.  I have a 1960s Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds, and I keep a “life list” in the back, checking off the birds I have seen.  I especially like traveling, and seeing birds that we don’t have here on the West Coast.  We’ve been to Alaska and Hawaii, and the East Coast of the US.  We also took a trip to Israel in 2007, and I made sure to buy a bird book so I could identify unusual birds that I saw.  But, to start with, we get some pretty interesting birds right here in our back yard in Everett, Washington.

WinterWarbler

This little bandit is a Townsend’s Warbler, and he comes by most winters, to eat at our suet feeder.

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This is a Varied Thrush, basically a Robin in different clothing.  That’s an insect in his beak-they are carnivores (remember the Robin and his worm?).

sparrow facing

A bit farther from home, I caught this White-crowned Sparrow at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on the Olympic Peninsula last year.  He sat very still for me to take his picture.

PelicansInFormation

I saw this flotilla of Pelicans off the deck of the Crystal Symphony in San Francisco before our cruise to Hawaii in 2018.  A perfect “V”.

Brazilian Cardinal

Then, when we got to Hawaii, I found this Brazilian Cardinal on the grass at Pearl Harbor.  That red cockade really attracts attention.

Egrets

Back in Honolulu, I captured this pretty pair of Egrets.

Masked Booby

This is, I think, my best “catch” on that trip to Hawaii.  On the way home, I saw this Masked Booby flying off the side of the ship, hunting for fish.  This bird is rarely found on land, and it’s a real treat to see one at sea.

BaldEagle-Juneau

And last, but definitely not least, in Juneau, Alaska in 2016, I caught this Bald Eagle, master of all he surveyed.  Actually, Bald Eagles are quite plentiful here in the Pacific Northwest, and we see them cruising over Silver Lake by our house.

Bird-watching is a valuable pastime, something you can do any time, just about anywhere.

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Skimmers! We Have Skimmers (and Terns, and Gulls)

In October of 2012, Hubby and I went to New Jersey, where he was born, to attend his family Catholic church’s 120th anniversary.  On that trip, we drove out to the Jersey Shore, and spent a nice day at Cape May.  It was absolutely beautiful for October; bright and sunny with temperatures in the 70s.  We almost had the whole beach to ourselves.  Well, the “almost” included a big flock of seabirds. There were Black Skimmers, Forster’s Terns, and other seagulls.  Here they are.

Flock from afar
Seabirds, Cape May

And, closer-up:

terns and Skimmers

See the Terns in the foreground, white with the black eye-patch.  This is their winter plumage.

Walkin'  on the beach
Skimmers, sea birds on the beach at Cape May, NJ, October 23, 2012

And even closer, aren’t they cool, just marching right up the beach?

Also found at Cape May…

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There is a whole long street of these beautiful houses.  They are “summer rentals” so were mostly empty in October.

Now, we were there about five days before Superstorm Sandy hit.  I have always wondered how those houses made it through the big storm.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #96-Crop the Shot

I like to call it “Zoom-in-Zoom Out”.  Instead of taking one photo and cropping out the extraneous features, I find a subject and zoom closer in on it, to see the finer and many times more interesting features that might be missed in the wider view.

I took these one day at our favorite day trip, up the North Cascades Highway to the Diablo Lake Overlook.  Diablo Lake is one of the reservoirs behind the dams on the Skagit River in NW Washington State, where Seattle gets its (clean, hydro-electric) power. The water is that blue-green color due to its glacial origin.

Here’s the full-view picture.

out

Next, I zoomed in on the rock face.

in-1

Finally, I zoomed in even closer to see the patterns the various faces of the rock make.

in-2

You can see the lichens that cling to the rock and give it color, as well as the mosses.  It is those tiny plants that, along with rainwater, spell the eventual doom of the mountains by creating tiny crevices that the water wears away.   Link to Tina’s site.

Oh, yes…  I almost forgot.  Tina, this one’s for you.

Skimmers at Cape May
Skimmers at Cape May, NJ, October 23, 2012

This is Sad. And Criminal. LaConner, Washington

This afternoon, my husband and I defied the “stay-at-home” order, and drove our car up to the Skagit Valley.  It was bright, sunny, and around 80 degrees out.  LaConner is admittedly a “touristy” little town on the Swinomish Slough, with dozens of little local stores selling just about anything you might want.  Not one store is a member of any chain, and we look forward to going up there a few times a year to see what’s new.  This year, this is “what’s new” in LaConner.

LaConner

And then, this.

trail-rules

We were actually surprised to see so many cars parked on the main street.  But this was sad, sadder, saddest.

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closing

And this was only fewer than half the stores on the main drag.  In his infinite wisdom, the governor of the State of Washington has ruined the town of LaConner.  I wonder how many of those little stores will actually re-open, when His Lowness in Olympia decides it is again “safe” for them to operate.  This was the most depressing trip to LaConner that I can ever remember.  The town is not being destroyed by the Wuhan Coronavirus, it is being destroyed by the Government of the State of Washington.

Sickening, this is really sickening, and so unnecessary.  Destroying the town in order to supposedly “save lives”.  No concern for the lives of all those shop-owners whose livelihoods are now in danger.  I wish them all the best, but fear the worst.

And just outside of town, you would never know the anguish being felt.

Skagit5-10-20

What now, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway?

What now, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway?

This summer, the cruise industry is forced by the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic to cancel all cruises to Alaska.  Cruises to Alaska leave from the ports on the West Coast, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC.  So those ports will miss out on the cruise ship passengers’ money, but they have other sources of tourists.  The ports in Alaska, on the other hand, don’t have quite so many sources of tourist dollars.

In the past, those Alaska cities have expressed some degree of dislike of those cruise-ship passengers, who disembark in the mornings, swarm all over their towns, get back on those big ships in the evening, and sail away.  A few years ago, all those towns got together and proposed to levy some rather large taxes on each cruise-ship passenger, to cover the towns’ costs for rubbish removal and other wear-and-tear.  At least one place was concerned about the town’s “cruise-ship passenger carrying capacity”.  Obviously, that swarm of paying customers is a mixed blessing for the Alaska towns that see multiple cruise ships every summer.

So, how will they feel this year, when they receive zero cruise ships, and the many dollars their passengers spend in their cities?  Will they rethink their dislike of all those tourists swarming their towns?  Or will they breathe a sigh of relief when their towns remain quiet all summer?