Changes

16 February 2020

Springtime is a period when things change a little faster than normal. If you don’t pay attention, those changes might whiz on by unnoticed and uninspected.

Flowers

But most of us at least notice the flowers. Last week the flowering trees were just beginning to pop. This week they are all over the place.

Corporate flowering trees in Folsom last week.
Flowering tree on the bike path this week.

The slightly unusual greenery that always greets me at the beginning of my ride back to Sacramento has now been identified! It’s known as “Miners’ Lettuce” and apparently is edible when it is young like this.

Last week’s Miners’ Lettuce.
This week’s Miners’ Lettuce.

The ferns continue to develop and will probably enjoy a complete reproductive cycle before the summer heat causes them to die back.

Visitor-planted daffodils are growing better in some places than in others. Perhaps the big stand is being helped out with watering…

Daffodils last week.
Daffodils this week.

There is a unique species along the path, the “wattle” that is native to Australia. It blooms early and very brightly. It’s an acacia; there are many different varieties.

The wattle last week.
The wattle this week.

Another spring flower is oxalis. I don’t see much growing naturally in the woods, but it is in gardens everywhere, and at Pond Park there is a little hill totally covered with it.

oxalis (wood sorrell)

Animals

I haven’t spotted any pregnant deer but there might be one or two.

There are always a few egrets by the river.

Here’s another try at capturing an image of the elusive woodpeckers.

New Growth

Of all the photos I took of branches leafing out, this one of catkins (willow, probably) is the only one that came out.

catkins

Time and Change

If you inspect the situation carefully, you might realize that the only time you have actually directly experienced is present time. The past can only be experienced through memory, and the future through imagination.

The changes we make to present time are all that make it appear that time is passing. We can count the changes that appear to be cyclic (rotation of heavenly bodies, vibration of atoms) and thus “measure time.” The physical universe changes in such predictable ways that this works for us.

Yet all of existence actually only exists in this instant. This fact has been used in our spiritual work to help us understand how to gain more control over our present time, and thus, the future.

First of February

2 February 2020

In California, February often marks a warming period before the rains of March hit. In a place like Sacramento, where the winters are mild, you may even spot an occasional fruit tree blooming in February.

After missing my usual bike trip last week so I could have time to volunteer at the Pig Bowl (Police versus Firefighters charity event), I again cycled the 18 or so miles down the American River from Folsom to downtown Sac this Saturday.

Pig Bowl

signing the pledge

At the Pig Bowl we push living drug-free during the little pregame “Kids Safety Fair” for people who come early.

Various law enforcement and first responder groups have booths and encourage young people to think about joining up. Even the FBI was there. I caught this moment where the California Highway Patrol’s “Chipper” is posing with a girl. It’s possible they know each other.

Chipper and friends

Last year the Star Wars people (Rebel Legion Endor Base, a “Star Wars costuming group”) entered right through the booths area, but this year they came in some other way. I did see them exit, though.

Rebel Legion Endor Base

Spring begins on the American River

With the assistance of wet weather, new growth for this year’s regrowth of all the various perennial plants has started. Some young leaves look good enough to eat, and possibly are.

new growth

I revisited the ferns, but they seem only a little more mature than they did the last time.

fern fronds

Fishermen were back out in the salmon spawning grounds. It’s possible fishing is not allowed during spawning season, but the regulations I found were too complex for me to know for sure. Note the heron in the distance, also fishing or looking for frogs.

fishermen below the dam

Next I went by a place where I’d seen a young buck before. “Wonder if he’ll show up today…” Sure enough he did. He was wary of me, but when I knelt down he came up and crossed the bike path.

Somebody has planted a few garden flowers along the path. My closeup lens didn’t work perfectly, but this little daffodil protected by a circle of rocks really caught my eye.

narcissus variety

How to read a screenplay

22 January 2020

When I got my first idea for a piece of fiction, I used the platform I was familiar with, WordPress, to present it here: https://landofdeadtrees.wordpress.com/

However, I was interested what this idea would look like as a movie, so I started a script for it (not totally finished yet). In that process, I learned a bit about how writers make scripts for movies.

The screenplay

It’s a bit of an odd-looking thing. There’s lots of room in a screenplay to scribble notes in the margins and such. The dialogue runs down the center of the page and is pretty narrow. The movie business has been using this format for years. It must work for them.

The more “scrunched” format of the ordinary novel, or even stage play, is apparently partly a function of the costs associated with printing paper books. We have become used to a printed format where most of the page is filled with words – with perhaps the occasional illustration.

Because computer files don’t require paper, it is now possible to publish movie or radio or stage scripts in the form in which they are actually used by directors, actors, technical people, etc.

The idea of publishing in this format appealed to me mainly because the punctuation rules for written dialog are so involved that I didn’t particularly want to learn them. I have read many stories written in the ordinary way, and I must say, it seems totally natural as one is reading. Yet one might notice that if you were just watching two people talking, all the “he said’s” and so forth would not be necessary, and you would have to judge their intentions and emotions by the expressions on their faces, not by extra lines in the written story. I wanted to present just a basic visual idea of how I thought a story could play out, so this “sparse” form seemed like it would suit my purposes.

Technical aspects

Somewhere it is written, “every screenplay begins with the words FADE IN and ends with the words FADE OUT.” This may be technically correct, but I saw no reason to include these in my screenplays. These are camera (or effects) instructions and most of that will be missing from pre-production screenplays. The story is carried forward through its scenes, the action and dialog between characters.

If you sit down and watch almost any modern film or video, you will notice how often the environment of the shot can change. A stage play, like the old sitcoms, might take place entirely in one location. That was a simple and economical way to tell a story. Motion pictures have always pulled away from that limitation, like radio dramas and novels before them. In a modern motion picture the viewer may even become confused about exactly where the action is taking place. In the screenplay, each change of scenery must be announced by a SCENE entry (in all caps). It is up to the Director and Cinematographer and Editor to decide whether the scene changes are obvious or confusing to the viewer.

Traditionally, any inside or indoor scene description begins with “INT.” for “interior.” And external or outside scenes start with “EXT.” for “exterior.” Though I was loose with this rule in View From The Forest, I followed it more closely in Space Captain. It is also traditional to indicate time of day in the scene header, at least “day” or “night.” In my screenplays I often left this out.

Under the scene title is the action, a description of what is going on in the scene, who appears in it and where they are located. A lot of this is up to the screenwriter. Where it seems that certain aspects of the scene should be obvious, or left up to the imagination of the Art Director (or someone else), the descriptions here might sometimes seem minimal. Technically, this description helps Art, Costumes, Props, Lights and others determine exactly what they need to provide for each scene, as well as informing the actors of what they are supposed to be doing.

The dialog consists of a narrowed column of text running down the middle of the page. It may include (parentheticals) indicating voice tone or demeanor, or whether we see the character while he is speaking or only hear him over the phone or off in some other room. Each character is announced by a short name or nickname in all caps before his lines. It is traditional for only one character to speak at a time, but there are ways to make the dialog messier if this is desired for artistic effect.

With the caveat that I am a beginner in all this, the above are the basic technical points to keep in mind while reading a screenplay.

View From The Forest

This story is offered as a short introduction to the most basic concepts of Permaculture, along with my long-lived love for trees and forests. The main characters are two trees who live side by side in a small forest. Though the idea of talking trees is not a new one, my studies perhaps give a new perspective on what they might say to each other if they really had that capability.

View From The Forest screenplay

inside the arboretum

Space Captain

Space Captain screenplay

Space Captain is a story of three ETs who get trapped on Earth in the long distant past and make peace with their fate. I got the idea from my Scientology studies, then ran into a version of the song Space Captain, which I vaguely remembered Joe Cocker doing a long time ago. The idea of the song went perfectly with my story idea, so I picked the song title for the name of this story.

Goodbye Windows 7

16 January 2020

Two days ago Microsoft officially ended its free support for Windows 7.

This means that computers connected directly to the internet may become vulnerable to criminal attempts to cripple or steal them.

Because of this, I have switched to Windows 10 on the computer I use the most. It is not the only solution, but I want to play it safe on my most important machine.

Windows 7

Windows 7 was an operating system that remained popular from the day it was introduced in 2009. It operated in a similar way to earlier versions, but was a complete overhaul of the system, and was presented in a very aesthetic and appealing way.

The story of Windows 7 started much earlier, however. Initially, Windows was developed as a graphical “shell” operating over MS-DOS, an operating system that dates back more or less to the start of personal computing. Personal computers were designed as stand-alone machines for home use. But they became so popular so fast that they became widely used in the business world.

The problem with that was that the business world was a networked world, where users had to share work and files with co-workers at the company, even sometimes in other buildings or distant locations. This had been accomplished, usually, with large “mainframe” machines running a business-strength operating system such as Unix. Unix had user accounts, login screens, passwords, multi-tasking capabilities and similar features that were needed in the business world. DOS couldn’t do these things, but as DOS machines grew in popularity, add-ons were created that allowed DOS machines to be used in a business environment.

Operating systems started going graphical in the 1980s. These were big hits with consumers and businesses. Apple also had a graphical operating system, but by creating a system that would run on less expensive generic hardware (the “IBM PC”) Microsoft won a huge share of the graphical OS market.

By the year 2000, DOS-based computing had reached as far as it needed to go. The basic concepts and features of Unix-like operating systems were reworked into products that would run on personal computers instead of mainframes. This was partially due to the pressure from Linux, an Open Source and freely distributed version of Unix that was designed to work on IBM PCs. Microsoft started with Windows NT (marketed as “New Technology” but originally named after a variety of other obscure technical developments) which became the lineage that Windows 7 is a part of. This lineage also includes, famously, Windows XP.

The Windows 7 family of operating systems kept the basic concept of “windows” developed so many years ago and added features that made the operating system a solid choice for business applications, particularly office work. The huge popularity of PCs with consumers has now died out, though many still see a notebook computer as essential. The average smart phone has much more computing power today than the PC of the mid-1990s had. This was mostly a matter of improvements in electronics technology. But for serious home users and in business, Windows 7 became immensely popular. At this late date, it is estimated that almost half of all computers in use worldwide still have Windows 7 on them. Over the course of its existence, Microsoft sold more than half a billion Windows 7 licenses.

Upgrading to Windows 10

On my machine, the upgrade to the newer Windows was very smooth. It took some time, but ran without incident, in the characteristically Microsoft style of using progress windows that tell you as little as possible about what is actually going on, using phrases such as “this may take a while.” My computer is not that old. It has two processor cores. It has USB 3.0. It has the newer UEFI form of BIOS. This latter point, in particular, I am sure helped with the upgrade.

UEFI

The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface allows for more modern electronics to be used on the computer’s main board (motherboard) and can even make the computer hardware appear like “smart” hardware on a network or similar communications system, allowing for certain kinds of remote access. Though to me this would seem to increase security risks, the industry seems to think it’s important.

When Microsoft mentions “modern” hardware, this is mostly what they are talking about. The older operating systems, as far as I know, cannot connect properly to the UEFI. So they found a way to essentially force everyone to upgrade their operating systems if they want to use modern hardware.

Alternatives to Windows

I have a version of Linux running on a small notebook that originally was running Windows 10. Certain features of Linux help it run better on machines with lower-end processors.

Beyond that, Microsoft and the Open Source community operate on significantly different philosophies of life. The Free Software movement takes this even a step further. But the basic difference is that companies like Microsoft have relatively restrictive licenses for their software products, keep most of their code a secret, and think of their end-users as “dumb” when it comes to computer systems. Open Source software on the other hand offers more lenient licenses (in some ways), requires that all source code be non-secret, and tends to think of end-users as “smart.” On top of that, the Free Software movement adds the assumption that if the source code is secret, then software companies can, and will, have things to hide about their software. The freedom of the computer user is compromised and bad control, including unwanted surveillance, can be foisted on users if they wish to use such “closed source” systems.

Though many of us see the dangers that a computer-dependent society could bring, the short-term benefits of using non-free software seem to be worth the risks. Global sanity, not revolution, is the answer to the constant problem of freedom on this planet.

Linux is not a bad alternative to Windows, though, and the newest versions from the big distributors like Ubuntu have UEFI compatibility. I ruled it out for my main machine because I had so many Windows applications I wanted to keep. But I would consider it for a new machine, or a portable. The best versions now operate very similar to Windows.

Companies with large numbers of Windows 7 machines can keep them protected if they put a good “firewall” or “proxy server” in between their internal computer network and the internet. The internet has become an extremely lawless place; internal company networks are usually much less so. I’m sure there are companies that will operate this way until their Windows 7 machines actually stop working and require replacement.

A Winter's Trail

11 January 2020

After a short hiatus in my weekly bike rides, due to threat of rain, I returned to the trail today.

As the daytime is now once again getting longer, we can imagine a sort of “walking backwards” towards the warmer months ahead.

Geese invade Aquatic Center

This – as I have mentioned in earlier posts – is the wet season. And so, grounds which would ordinarily have little appeal to the likes of geese (who are well known for their love of open lawns) find themselves being pecked at after an early morning rain.

geese at the Aquatic Center

As usual, these birds show little fear beyond a certain desire to stay out of the way.

Wet season plants thrive

The fern fronds last inspected two or more weeks ago now show their spore sacs (sporangia, in the formal neo-Latin so common in the life sciences) more clearly. Their favorite growing places continue to be the rock piles so common along the upper part of the bike path.

fern sporophylls mature

The rocks are also covered by green moss and rather spectacular lichens. When I took the following photo, I thought that the little green branching things in the moss might be its “flowers” (sporophytes), but they appear to be new-growing seed plants.

moss growing among the rocks

The amount of growth in these rock piles is really quite something. What happens to it during the dry months? I don’t remember noticing it at all during the summer. I will have to look more closely this year.

lichen, moss and dead leaves

This almost looks like an underwater scene. These lichen are amazing!

By the way, I recently read an article about lichen – a new discovery concerning the fungal component. It was long thought that lichen consist of one fungus and one alga living in symbiosis. But in at least one lichen, a third organism was found, in the form of a second fungal, but yeast-like, component. This was determined by DNA/RNA analysis, as there is almost no way to detect the two different fungal components visually.

Woodpeckers remain elusive

A little further down the trail, a dead tree stands, proudly remaining erect, but peppered with numerous little holes made by woodpeckers in search of insects. My attempts to photograph these birds have not been highly successful, though they will sometimes at least stay in one place long enough to have their picture taken.

woodpecker on a dead tree

This bird, though obvious enough to the eye, remained in the shade, rendering my image of it less than wonderful. All the little holes stuffed – apparently – with acorns are quite clear in this photo, however. My guess is that the squirrels do that.

Doe, a deer…

Five deer showed up on this trip, all female. They were much further down-river than where I usually see them. These were grazing just outside the fence of a local organic farm (Soil Born), located right next to Hagan Park, an important part of the Rancho Cordova suburban community.

deer grazing next to organic farm

Pond Park, that’s William B. Pond

I usually take my “lunch” break at Pond Park. Technically, it’s a “Recreation Area.” It allows horse riding, fishing, and has multitudes of picnic tables. This park has been here for a long time, judging from the size of its biggest trees. The cottonwoods by my table look at least 150 years old. I can’t find any data on when the park was planted, however.

leaf skeleton

Most of the leaves on the ground look like ordinary dead leaves. But a few of them were just skeletons. I don’t exactly understand how this happened. They could be two-year-old leaves that finally fell off their branches. Or this year’s leaves that just died early and disintegrated on the tree before falling. The patterns are amazing. Very organic, yet with a regularity almost like city streets.

Old trees become fantasy images in a front yard

I had never noticed these before. Perhaps they are new. They are carvings at the tops of dead birch trees. Were they carved in-situ (where they grew)? I sort of doubt it. So perhaps these were created in a studio then installed in this front yard. Great carvings!

Ferns and other unusual plants

28 December 2019
maidenhair fern
Photographed with a Pentax SLR camera on color slide film.

Last week I noted that ferns were springing up along the American River, even though it’s winter. I thought I’d go a little deeper into ferns and other odd plants in this post.

The beautiful symmetry of the maidenhair fern pictured above is unusual even for fern plants. I have always treasured this photo, taken in Ann Arbor when I was in high school, simply for the dramatic pattern displayed by this plant.

Botany

I was studying botany at the time, not as a passion exactly, but mostly as a way into the world of living systems and the exhaustive naming and categorization procedures of the life sciences. It had started with a penchant for taking long hikes in then-nearby Bird Hills. I wanted to know what the plants were, so I got into field botany (plant identification). I even did a science project based on it! This park (Nature Area) continues to be maintained by the city and its ecology is probably not that much different than when I lived there in the 1970s.

I found many old books on the subject; most were filled with drawings of plants, which interested me much more than all the theory in the text.

Asa Gray's fern illustrations
Asa Gray’s fern illustrations.

The thing about ferns is that they don’t have flowers and seeds. The leaves hold the reproductive parts, and reproduction is accomplished either on the leaf or on the soil, in the presence of moisture. Once a new plant has started to grow and established itself, the need for moisture may be much reduced, though moist environments are still favored.

And so it is that new fern leaves are sprouting up now, in “winter,” because it is the rainy season.

Typical bracken fern habitat along American River.

These ferns (the “weedy” type known as bracken fern) seem to favor the old rock piles left by the gold miners. These piles of rocks are now 100 to 150 years old, and in the parkland areas have remained largely undisturbed for most of that time.

sun shining through a fern frond, showing the "dots" that can bear spores.
The dots seen on these leaves may develop into spore sacs.

I wanted to get a fern leaf (or frond) with the sun shining through it to emphasize the pattern of spore sacs. By inspection, these have not yet matured on these plants.

Ferns in other places

The common bracken fern lives everywhere around the world, and is the archetypal “fern.” But there are many other ferns. The maidenhair is only one example of how amazing the fronds can look.

My nephew took a trip to Indonesia several years ago and provided the following photos via his blog:

fern of Harau Valley Sumatra
Harau Valley, Sumatra
Fern near Telaga Warna, Indonesia
Near Telaga Warna, Indonesia

There is so much possible variation in this group of plants, as is true of so much of life.

Other interesting plants

pitcher plants
Pitcher plants, Harau Valley

Andy got some great photos on his trip to Indonesia. Pitcher plants grow in many boggy places all over the world, but these are a great example. They are a “carnivorous” plant; they feed on insects that fall into their specialized leaves and get trapped.

Andy with Rafflesia
Rafflesia, plant with largest flower.

Rafflesia, however, is much less common. Andy made an extra effort to find and photograph this specimen is its native habitat. This plant attaches itself to certain vines, then grows this monster flower. It has no stems or leaves.

Another plant that uses other plants to settle on is Spanish Moss. However, it is neither a moss or particularly Spanish. It is a seed plant that grows on trees, probably to obtain more sunlight and avoid getting drowned by floods.

Spanish Moss, Florida
A Spanish Moss growing in Panama City, Florida.

I got this photo while I was visiting Florida as a Volunteer Minister to help with emergency supplies and clean-up after Hurricane Michael.

But for sheer lushness of undergrowth, there is nothing like a young forest’s floor during the warm moist days of a Midwest summer, such as we always experienced in Michigan.

Michigan forest floor
Typical Michigan forest floor, summer.

There are about six different plants in this photo, including the kidney-shaped leaves of Wild Ginger. I’ve never seen a habitat like this in California. Perhaps there are some coastal areas that get close.

Winter's Spring

22 December 2019
december clouds sacramento

A funny thing about this area is that it gets almost all its precipitation during the three (or four) months of winter. It seldom freezes here – if so, not for very long.

As a result, many plants start their “spring” cycle, essentially, with the first winter rains. Shortly after the first rains, you’ll see green grass everywhere. I really noticed it this year, as I have been braving the cooler weather to continue my weekly bike rides (when there is no rain). I thought this area was particularly pretty:

New green grass – at the beginning of winter!

While most of the trees act like it really is autumn, many of the smaller plants on the ground that don’t have access to the deeper water reached by the tree roots take advantage of the rains to start a new growth cycle.

winter ferns by the american river

If you look closely you can see that many of these fern leaves are sporophylls (fertile leaves). I hardly ever notice these ferns during the summer. This must be their time of year. After the rains leave they probably die back.

He’s hiding from me!

Grazing animals benefit from this burst of new growth, I’m sure. We have deer in the park – too few, it seems to me. And also quail which like to stay out of sight, and turkeys which like to go anywhere they please.

Not hiding from anyone!

Artemisia

There is a bush that is very common along the river that has caught my eye several times. But now it is particularly visible because it is staying green. I didn’t think I knew this bush, but I thought “that looks like Artemisia.” Problem was, I’d forgotten what Artemisia was! Well, it’s sagebrush, and there’s a lot of it along the lower river.

sagebrush closeup
Artemisia!

The bushes along the river flower profusely very late in the year, but the flowers are rather nondescript. Its leaves are quite small, and new foliage is bright green. These bushes can stand 6 or 8 feet tall.

Other river visitors

It is still spawning season on the river. Big salmon from the ocean swim all the way up here, spawn in the pebbly shoals, then die. They attract gulls and many vultures, but the birds don’t seem to like the dead fish that much. I don’t blame them.

vultures in a tree

This day (the last day of fall) the vultures were particularly numerous. Notice the one towards the bottom of the photo that is spreading its wings to dry them out.

I also spotted a kingfisher. This bird may be living here year-round, but they also migrate. The smaller birds are difficult for me to catch with my camera, so I am proud of myself every time I get a decent picture of one.

kingfisher on american river

The Mergansers return!

20 December 2019

The Folsom Mergansers were first mentioned here: https://lecox.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/i-sight-a-special-bird/

This is the first time I’ve been able to photograph one myself. As you can see, they are a striking bird (technically, this is the Hooded Merganser).

My understanding is that they migrate down from northern areas to winter in warmer areas like the California Central Valley.

Other returnings

Life Force Tree electronic art.

I have revived two of my older electronic art (eArt) projects. Above, the “Life Force Tree,” comprised of eight concentric circles of lights, each ring with one more light in it than the next inner one. That means 3-4-5-6-7-8-9 and 10 lights. I have switched this to be fed from a shift register, which needs only 3 signals to run 52 lights. This makes having a remote controller a lot easier. I added a pretty nice wood frame to make it look a little more elegant.

My other project uses rewired Christmas lights. They are in a 6 by 10 array, but my current electronics only controls a 6 by 8 array. Again, a shift register scheme has been used to reduce the number of wires needed to control all these lights. I am just beginning to work on a remote control box for this project. This is where the real creative work comes in, as the pattern that is generated (and constantly moves and changes) is a result of the interaction between the signals generated by the controller and those used to operate the display itself.

Electronic art using Christmas lights.

Happy holidays!

Dialogs

7 December 2019

I have added this new category under Spirit to provide a place for a type of writing that I have been using for a long time.

The word “dialog” (more properly spelled “dialogue”) comes to us via Latin directly from Greek, where “dia” represents “through or between” and “log[os]” represents “talk or word”. Thus, it resides in a group of words beginning with “dia-” that includes the modern coined word Dianetics, “though mind”.

I am of the habit (some consider it an ability) of imagining dialogs or speeches or presentations interrupted by questions as a way of thinking through how more difficult concepts could be conveyed, or made understandable, to others.

Here’s an earlier example of my experiments with dialog in writing:

A more recent example appears here: https://landofdeadtrees.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/the-georgia-guidestones/

I often do something like this at night, while others sleep (peacefully or otherwise). For some reason, I find it difficult to sleep in an unpeaceful world. I feel some need, or duty, to further the postulate that this will change, and that a higher sort of peace than mere “absence of war” can be achieved on this planet.

In that vein, I offer this video: https://www.scientology.tv/series/l-ron-hubbard-library-presents/is-it-possible-to-be-happy.html

I intend to create some more dialogs as an extension of my “science fiction” story called The Lands. All it really intends to do is to point out to those curious enough to read it that solutions for some of our more basic challenges here on Earth are closer than they might have realized. That’s all I really want to accomplish at this point: To let the planet know that a new kind of future is available to it; that we only have to reach for it.

Food!

28 November 2019

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood —
Cold jelly and custard!

From the musical Oliver!, lyrics by Lionel Bart.

I learned some of the songs in this musical in 5th or 6th grade at Wines School in Ann Arbor.

And since I didn’t get any shots of this year’s Thanksgiving meal, I’ll take you on a short trip down Memory Lane to a few major meals I attended in the long-ago.

19770729-Becks-with-Sophie

We’ll start with summer 1977 at the Beck’s (Culver City, Los Angeles). There’s Mom and Dad in the back, our friend Sophie facing the camera, a young Sherman staring down at something yummy, and my sister’s beautiful blond hair shimmering fuzzily in the foreground.

19770806-Piersons-with-Bill

Later that summer we stop by the Piersons. Here we see their piano and music books still prominent in the all-purpose room we spent most of our time in whenever we visited them.

19771125-thanksgiving-02

Next, a Thanksgiving spread featuring David, Mom and Barbie.

19771224-christmas-at-Piersons-Donna-and-the-rest

And Christmas dessert, with Donna and Barbie all over-exposed in the foreground. Donna had great blond hair, too.

19800615-reunion-33

And three years later, a scene from the big indoor get-together of the Pritchard Family Reunion (Grandma was a Pritchard). This was held in — can I remember? — the general vicinity of Garner, Iowa. The family started out in Belmond.

Food in the wild wild West

My most recent visit to the American River Parkway featured these food-related scenes:

ARP-scenes-20191123-49-vulture-with-fish

The salmon have been running in the American River. Last week I saw a big fish skittering up a shallow rapids near to where this vulture had caught another one.

ARP-scenes-20191123-53-woodpecker

Woodpeckers feed mostly on insects living in dead tree branches. It is rare indeed that I catch such a good view of a woodpecker.

ARP-scenes-20191123-57-deer

When I came across this doe she had a corn chip bag over her snout. She ran away when I tried to catch her wearing the latest deer fashion (she probably fancied the salt). Here she’s trying to hide from me.

ARP-scenes-20191116-21-walnut-orchard

I have ridden past this old orchard many times, and finally decided to snap a photo. These are walnut trees as far as I can tell. These specimens, however, are quite old. Most of the green on the nearest tree is mistletoe, indicating the tree is weakening from age.

Happy Thanksgiving!