Thursday, December 29, 2005

Yosemite Falls, December 2005

Warm and wet describes Yosemite Valley in late December, 2005. We were only able to visit for just about 24 hours, but the weather was in the 40s and 50s (F, 5-10C) and it had been raining heavily for several days. Our one day was sunny and the falls and rivers were full. This photo was taken in the morning on December 23 (about 8:30 am) so there's a hint of fog hanging in the nearby field.

How would you arrange 31 stars?

This United States flag carries 31 stars in a pattern from about 1849. The flag is on display in Columbia, CA, at the historical park there. The park recreates the time of the California Goldrush and the original 49ers. Today, it is simple to arrange 50 stars, one per state, into a regular pattern that is pleasing to the eye. Then, then problem was how to arrange 31 stars in a pleasing pattern. When I first saw this flag, it was quite a surprise because it wasn't showing the 50 stars I expect from modern flags. Then I thought the flag was rather odd looking because of the stunted lines of stars. Now I wonder if this is the best they could do with 31 stars. Can you do better?

Christmas lights

I chose this house to photograph because it stands out for the mix of candy canes and sheer wattage.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Making snowshoes

We spent the day (Sunday) making snowshoes. Our patrol group of Boy Scouts and parents assembled early on a clear, brisk morning to begin work. We started by heating gray PVC pipe over propane burners to form the snowshoe frames. The careful application of heat and some clever forms created the shapes needed out of the straight lengths of pipe. Some jigs guided the drilling of about 50 holes per shoe, then some simple assembly formed the empty frames. After lunch, we retreated to the warmth of the basement where the real work began - string and weaving the platform within the frame. The picture to the right shows the final fitting of the binding that holds the boot.

None of the operations is terribly dangerous or difficult, but neither is any of them easy. Overheating of the tubing makes for bizarre shapes and flattened plastic instead of the gentle curves of rounded tubing, and extreme overheating will burn the gray to a peeling brown. The challenge of getting the heat just right keeps the kids focussed. The drilling isn't hard because the templates are so good, but several participants had to interrupt their weaving to go back outside to find a missing hole or two (so to speak). The real challenge is the weaving of the ropes. An error in the over-and-under pattern can only be repaired by removing the work since the error, then redoing it all. I joke that I made 15 snowshoes yesterday but only finished two. But the 11-year-olds will be proud to be out on the trail this winter on snowshoes of their own construction. Here's a (nearly) finished snowshoe to the left. A rubber binding triangle will be attached to hold the sole of the shoe over the yellow braid while the white braid helps provide the "float" over the snow. The bar in the Scout's hand is where the ball of the foot goes; it is PVC over a steel rod to transfer the weight of the snowshoer to the frame.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Alpenglow, Cascades Mountains

The setting sun shines on the western face of the Cascades as seen from Redmond, WA. On clear days, metropolitan Seattle is fantastic, with views south to Mount Rainier and north to Mount Baker.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Summer blossoms, Gibsons Landing, BC, Canada

Gibsons Landing is north of Vancouver, BC. There's someone living there who does a fantastic job with their plants.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Seattle Skyline

The Seattle skyline as seen from the northwest. Yes, that would put the photographer in Puget Sound. September, 2005.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rhody, it's cold outside

We've had a string of unusually cold weather - for Seattle, that is. The photo of the rhododendrons in the back yard testifies to the hard frost we had overnight. Some of the frost didn't even thaw from yesterday morning where it was protected by shade. Most of you will think of Seattle as the Rain City and we do work hard to maintain our reputation, but we have had a string of cold, clear nights to decorate our greenery with traces and coatings of white crystals. It's not quite as cold here as was typical in Boston. We're barely touching 30 degrees (F). In Boston, I could tell it was below 20 degrees (F) because the rhody leaves started to curl about that point. Our leaves are drooping, but straight.

In fact, let's make today a two-fer. To celebrate the frost I'll provide two photos. I think this next one is very Zen-like. Natural materials in a simple, regular design with a touch of irregularity. No big rocks, no human intervention, but a soothing image that reminds me of the dry gardens of Japan.

This is a simple photo from our back deck that covers a space roughly a foot square (roughly 30 cm by 30 cm). The stone is a natural river stone from Mexico, displaced from its usual place of repose in the garden by forces unknown.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Setting sun behind Brooklyn, NY

We left Seattle in the morning in mid-December, 2004, and arrived in New York's JFK airport late in the afternoon. As we were racing from one gate to another for the connecting flight, the sunrise was roaring outside the window. Handheld and almost random composition, but rich coloring and unusual foreground.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Cool heights, hot below

We took a day trip to Mt. St. Helens in February, while it was actively venting. It was an overcast day and the fog from the volcano merged into the clouds of the overcast. While watching the mountain, it didn't seem like it ever changed, but I took a video with my digital still camera and it quite clearly ends differently than it began.

updated: I dug up this photo because it echos the weather we've been having recently: rather cold. In the early mornings and evenings, we have localized fog. That damp, chilly, clinging fog that is featured on the moors of Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Photo post

The last time I tried to insert a photo, it lost what I had written. Let's see if I get it right this time.

Well, it worked this time. Looking north toward Langdale, BC, Canada, date uncertain.

Primal entry

This is the now-infamous first post. Its sole purpose in life is to hold a place for my return. (I tried to attach a photo on the first try, but it didn't work. Technically, this is the second post, but the first one didn't survive.)