June 25, 2015
Closing in on the end of June and I’ve started many posts for this month but have yet to stay at my computer long enough to finish one! Instead of going in chronological order, I MUST share my exciting adventure from last night. I shot my FIRST AURORA BOREALIS!!! I am so excited I can’t stop thinking about it and don’t even care that Mt. Adams is blurry.
Wednesday’s adventure began when my friend Darlisa invited me to a ‘Solar Storm’ event on Facebook. I’d seen all the Monday posts (with photos!) about the gorgeous Northern Lights occurring this week but it didn’t occur to me to stay up all night myself to photograph this amazing light show.
Wednesday morning I studied blogs and help forums about how to shoot an aurora, then spent the afternoon scouting locations. I chose this view of Mt. Adams because it was clear and close ~ easy to get to & a short drive home. Then I reviewed my camera, remote, lenses and chose the best gear I had for the task while waiting for late night to arrive.
In spite of careful preparation ~ my wireless remote wouldn’t work; I couldn’t find the infinity symbol on my camera; I was out in the middle of nowhere by myself far later than my comfort level (11:45 until 3:15); feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing; the LCD on the back of my camera showed a lot of nothing but BLACK ~ and then all my worries disintegrated when I first saw amazing color on the LCD!
A little side note, after about 15 minutes I had to get back in my car and maneuver it so the headlights were illuminating the field next to me ~ to be sure the sound of crunching brush getting closer and closer, and slurping sounds were indeed the cows I’d seen earlier in the day! Fortunately there was a fence between me and the cows!
I don’t know if this is part of the Aurora, and I really couldn’t see it with my naked eye. I’d see what looked like mist or a thin veil far off behind the mountain.
I played with the ISO and shutter speed. The widest I could get my aperture was around 5.6 ~ this makes me want to buy a better lens for this type of work!!
Instead of throwing away many of my ‘black’ images, after bringing up the exposure, I could still see some color in many of them.
Alas, most of the black shots looked like this after editing. So many technical issues I need to learn more about.
Of course I didn’t take notes as I shot, so instead of repeating my best efforts, I will have more learning sessions! When all is said and done, I must say it was a fabulous first learning experience.
Just after 3 a.m. I felt myself fading into the night and had to get some sleep. I grabbed one last shot of the stars above, then headed home. It was a gorgeous and glorious experience! I’m glad I went out to shoot the Aurora Borealis and can’t wait for the next opportunity!!
I’m learning more about Northern Lights while trying to wrap my head around all the information at Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard and http://www.ips.gov.au/Solar/1/4
June 1, 2015
A beautiful sunset last night closed out the month of May. It was full of hard work, but also full of adventure and good friends.
Yesterday my friend & neighbor Katie popped in with a trunk full of tools to help me repair my veggie garden fence. After we finished I started planting this years crop. Today I’ll buy more seeds and finish – I can already taste those yummy fresh veggies – an assortment of lettuce, zukes, cukes, carrots, and more! Below the veggies are grapes and blackberries.
My giant ‘Slash Pile Burn‘ Fuel Reduction project through Department of Natural Resources is finally finished with paperwork submitted! That was a long, hard, cathartic project, and I’m glad it’s done! Yay ME!! The image above is my friend Eileen who came up one morning & helped with her husband Jim.
My fabulous ‘Gorge Glass Girls’ (Leila, Terri, Charlene, Kathy and Carolyn (who isn’t in this shot, but also an instigator), gave me a wonderful gift:
They hired young men from ‘Wings’ to help bring up firewood from my now-cleared and burned forest. These sweet, polite and respectful, hard-working young men – under the direction of Walt – brought up firewood from the farthest point of my property to the woodpile outside my back door. They cut branches into wood-stove lengths and stacked as much as they could in a day. Image above shows the remaing piles of firewood and I have all summer to leisurely haul it up.
My friend Nancy & I have been out on several photo adventures, looking for wildlife. While chasing down a lead for a Wood Duck family we found a Hooded Merganser family!
We went to Ridgefield NWR, one of our favorite spots to photograph birds.
We went to Conboy Lake NWR for a day where we ran into friends who showed us a Red-breasted Sapsucker nest – can’t wait to go back and photograph babies!!
And we went to Crystal Springs to watch Wood Ducklings learn how to be a duck.
I’ve also traversed the Columbia River watching my favorite little owl family grow up…..I plan to write a post on their progress from when I first found them.
As I worked in my back woods all these months, I’ve watched more birds come to my now-open forest, like this Pileated Woodpecker;
and Western Tanager.
Now with most of my hard work finished, I plan to spend more time at Conboy Lake NWR watching for baby elk, baby birds, and maybe even see a baby otter this year!! You’ll find me along the Columbia River checking all the Osprey and Woodpecker nests that I find. And anywhere else that looks like a promising adventure!
May 17, 2015
This time of year is spectacular in the Columbia River Gorge. We are inundated with colorful melodious flying beauties. Plus Owls, Osprey, Eagles, Herons and more. Above is a Yellow Warbler we found at Trout Lake Marsh today. I’m so far behind in telling you what’s going on, that I’ll just start with today at the Trout Lake Marsh with our birding group and promise to add more later! I believe this is a Red-naped Sapsucker. I don’t remember what this little bird is! I knew I should have taken notes today. edit: Just learned it’s a Western Wood-Pewee. I think this little sparrow is cute balancing himself between the reeds. I think he’s a Song Sparrow. We were fortunate to see a Lazuli Bunting! I also saw them at the Sandy River Delta and at Ridgefield. Today was full of Warblers. This is a MacGillivray’s Warbler, a first for me! We saw a couple of Black-throated Gray Warblers and heard several other species of Warblers. We caught an Oregon Junco eating a dragonfly. Is this a Yellow-rumped Warbler? Western Tanager, one of my favorites! The end of another fun day. Over the last month I’ve watched a trio of owlets grow and learn to fly, plus 5 nesting Great Horned Owls further east. I’m watching a Bald eagle nest and almost a dozen Osprey nests along the Columbia River. I’ve been to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge several times. I finally went to the Sandy River Delta and I’ve traversed the Columbia River almost daily. I’ve easily taken over 5000 photos of all the above adventures. Oh, and my giant backyard forest slash pile burn project is very near finished thanks to several groups of friends who took it upon themselves to come help me! I try to post daily photos on my Facebook page if you’d like to see more images of all the birds and wildlife I’ve run into lately!
April 22, 2015
Most of my bird images are from the Pacific Northwest, mainly the Columbia River Gorge. In my Audubon Guide these are called ‘Long-legged Waders’.
American Bittern in flight
American Bittern vs Frog
Black-crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron, leucistic
Great Blue Heron in flight
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret portrait
Sandhill Crane pair
Sandhill Crane back
April 10, 2015
Since the beginning of March I’ve worked full-time on my ‘Burn Project’, burning slash piles left from a crew that came last summer to clear brush, limb trees and cut down overcrowded trees on my ‘back acre’.
Taking advantage of DNR’s ‘Fuel Reduction’ program, I have 2 years from the time my application was approved last May to finish. The first few months I spent just trying to get someone to come up here to clear brush, a daunting task that no one on the entire first page of contractors was willing to do. But that’s another story…
Columbia Tree Service came up last summer with a 5 man crew and spent 3 days limbing, cutting, and clearing. They were fabulous. To keep my costs down I decided to burn the slash piles myself, having absolutely NO IDEA just how much work would be involved. At first it was overwhelming and I began to doubt my sanity.
The first thing I did was stack up all the firewood they cut for me. I started at the bottom of my property and carried each log up my hill as far as I could carry it. I stacked it next to a tree to get it out of the way and keep it visible and stable until I can carry it up to my house.
I repeated that effort in each section, carrying firewood uphill until I couldn’t carry it another step and found a tree to stack it next to.
This task took several months from last fall to early winter. Then I was ready to start burning the piles of slash as they’re called.
Or I should say ‘almost’ ready. Many of the piles had potential firewood left in them!
Some of the firewood was simply too big for me to move (or so I thought at the time), and left too close to the piles I needed to burn.
At the beginning of March, the local DNR rep came by to check my progress.
He showed me various ways to light and then control my fires and even came back a few times to help me. With his help I managed to get the first section next to the house burned.
For each pile of slash I burned, I pulled out every branch, placing it into a new open spot and rescued larger limbs for firewood, then tentatively lit the pile. I managed to roll the big rounds out of the way and became quite brave at igniting fires using a gasoline soaked rag.
As I worked, a friend offered to come up with her husband and a chainsaw! Holly helped me stack and burn while her husband Rick tackled that giant log. I realized the phrase ‘Thank You’ is inadequate for how grateful I felt.
Just yesterday I noticed a Trillium blooming in the burned area that was so overgrown last year I didn’t know I had anything except overgrown brush and blackberries on this part of my property!
Rick and Holly came to help again, as well as my friend Kathy and a new friend, Annette.
Together we stacked 6 or 8 new piles ready for me to burn, stacked more firewood and chopped up more big rounds into manageable pieces.
We’re expecting an early burn ban this year, so I’m focused on getting all the slash piles burned, then I’ll saw all the rescued limbs into stove size pieces with my cute little ‘girlie’ chainsaw that I bought.
Finally I’ll finish carrying all my hard-won firewood up to the house. I’m thinking I’m about halfway done with burning.
The remaining piles that I have to go through are mostly at the bottom of my property, on a steeper incline and harder to reach.
I counted a few days ago and had almost 40 slash piles left to burn.
Today I burned 2 piles and moved 3 additional piles into the fire. It feels pretty good to have another cleared area.
While my fire burns out I stack more firewood, prune off branches from rescued firewood and clip back brush already starting to grow again.
Neighborhood deer come by to watch my progress from time to time. Today I grabbed my camera.
This Pileated Woodpecker that I’m hoping takes up residence checked out my trees on Easter Sunday! Usually I see him in the forest below my property.
My beautiful girl Treasure runs along her backyard fence guarding me as I walk back and forth carrying brush to my burning pile. After awhile she lays down in the corner where she can watch in all directions and waits for me to come in and throw her a frisbee.
Initially overwhelmed, the first month was cathartic and I now feel a great sense of accomplishment. I’m hoping (and feeling confident) I can get all the burning done before a burn ban goes into effect, then spend the summer cutting and hauling my firewood.
Today was the last event for ‘Fine Feathered Friends’, a gallery show I co-curated with Robin Panzer. Sunday is the last day you can see our fabulous show. For our final weekend event, a group of us participated in a Bird Walk led by Field Biologist, Cathy Flick. We were thrilled to have Cathy available and willing to share her time and knowledge with us.
When we learned we’d be climbing ‘The Stairs’ we all looked at each other … hmmmm …. dare I say nervously. As it turned out I was not the only one who had never climbed this steep set of stairs. I had no idea how many stairs there actually are!
Our destination was a private garden in an older Hood River neighborhood to view birds and their habitat. But first we had to climb these stairs!
A series of five staircases….we’d stop and talk about birds for a minute here and there on our way up.
Finally, the last set. Did I mention how steep they are?
Our first reward at the top of the stairs and into our destination neighborhood was a flock of Cedar Waxwings!
This little bird was in the same tree but I’m not sure if it’s a youth or a different species.
At our destination garden we had a marvelous time watching all the different varieties of back yard birds at our host’s feeders. She had tons of Pine Siskins at the feeders, on the ground and waiting their turn in nearby trees and shrubs.
A couple of Scrub Jays made their presence known.
A Red-breasted Nuthatch joined us at our host’s wonderful smorgasbord for birds.
A crow watched us for a minute then decided on a little snack of cat food near a back door.
One of my favorites, a Downey Woodpecker graced us with her presence.
A Mourning Dove didn’t want to be left out of the action, but didn’t come down to the feast.
We thanked our host for allowing us into her gorgeous garden then meandered toward the stairs … watching neighborhood birds as we slowly made our way back.
Going down wasn’t too difficult, but the steps were slippery in spots so we did not hurry. And now we can all say that we’ve climbed ‘The Stairs’.
Back in town, we returned to Columbia Arts and enjoyed the ‘Fine Feathered Friends’ show. Tomorrow, Sunday is the last day to see it. Artists pick up unsold work on Monday and patrons will pick up their purchases. Thanks so much to all who bought my bird prints and greeting cards, it’s an affirmation that I’m going in the right direction!
March 25, 2015
Some of you saw this coming even before I did. The more I get out in nature, the more I want to be free to do as I please. Which is getting out in nature even more.
I want to play all day. I want to capture everything I see with my camera. I want to be responsible only to myself. I want to have fun every day without stressing about an upcoming art show or deadline.
I’ve done art shows since I was 16 years old. I sold macrame tie-dyed belts at the Rose Bowl Swap Meet back in the 60’s. I also sold them to my high school teachers, neighbors and relatives. I couldn’t stop making them. To this day I can’t stop making things.
I’ll still produce art, that is part of who I am. I just won’t be on a schedule, or mass producing for any shows. I won’t be marketing Steider Studios Glass Medium although I would love to find someone to take it over.
I won’t be replenishing any of the mica or tools for sale that I offer other artists. When they’re gone, they’re gone.
I’m tired of deadlines, numbers, taxes, headaches, the everyday worries and aggravations. Tired of responsibility, and jumping through hoops. I no longer want to count inventory and re-order supplies. Or worry about the ‘bottom line’.
I think I began formulating this decision during my family emergency in December. I put everything on hold for a wee bit but never fully re-committed to my business afterwards.
What will I do? I’ll play all day. I’ll take pictures. I’ll go on hikes. I’ll go out to breakfast with my friends. I’ll search for bird nests. I’ll rejuvenate my garden. I’ll have F.U.N.!!! And I’ll keep posting as much as I can in between fun adventures.
Thanks to all of you who’ve followed my adventures from the beginning and to all of you who recently added me to your e-reading list. I will understand if you don’t want to go with me, especially since I’m not sure where I’ll go next!