Friday, September 04, 2009

Humming along nicely....

A hummingbird feeder...hung just inches away from where we eat.
I've been wondering if I could take a decent hummingbird picture.

All I need is a hungry hummingbird...

Two kinds of hummers visit us regularly: The Broadtail and the Black Chinned.

After playing with various camera settings....

I decide I need a faster better camera...

I take dozens of shots...each time w-a-i-t-i-n-g for the digital camera to load and clear me for another shot.

Anything to get a few fairly good shots...I was leaning way over the railing, and was just inches from the feeder at this point.

At one point the hummers were starting to get more interested in me than in the feeder.

There were three birds zipping around.

Bernie was laughing as he watched me learning over the deck railing to get inches away from the feeder...

While another hummer was hovering inches behind my head, trying to figure out what I was doing.
(And wouldn't that have been the best shot ever?)

War was on-going, as is always the case with the feisty little birds.
Look at the top of the above picture to see how wide the tail is on the top bird!
Very threatening, no?

As soon as one would get close to the feeder, another one would zoom in to intercept him.

I wonder why they used to call it a "dog fight" when the old airplanes used to do battle in the sky.
On the other hand...I guess a "hummingbird fight" doesn't sound very tough.

Bernie was cooking up some nice halibut for dinner, and told me the fish was done, and it was time to come inside. The picture is blurry because the window is creating a double reflection, but you can see that the hummers are just inches away on the other side of the glass, and they routinely check out what we are eating.

Yes...sometimes we have a very busy meal times.

I was itching to get back outside to take a few more shots.

Hart decided the hummers had had enough attention from me for the day.
(He can't get the birds unless he plans to fall over the railing and land one story down!)
Oh...and there was a wood pecker too!
(SO much excitement, all in one early evening. Whew!)

Just when you thought you'd seen it all...

Do any of you readers recall the post from a few years back about the Texas State Fair treat "Deep Fried Coca Cola"?
At the time, I thought that topped the Fried Twinkies treat for eye crossing craziness.

Well, let me just say "Ha. What did I know."

The folks down in Texas have manage to get crazier yet.

I'm sure Julia Childs would approve:

Fattening Fried Butter One of Many Creative Treats at Texas State Fair
Friday, September 04, 2009

Fried butter, which will be served at the Texas State Fair.
It's practically fattening just thinking about it.
Deep fried butter is among eight creative food items by vendors at this year's State Fair of Texas in Dallas.
Fair officials say a Labor Day cookoff will determine the winner of the Big Tex Choice Awards.
Deep fried butter is served by Abel Gonzales and it can be ordered in several different flavors: sweet cream, cherry or garlic, KSBY-TV reported.
"It's like, 'Butter?' I mean, everybody is like, 'What? Ohhh!' That's usually the first reaction until they try it and then they see that it's not what they're thinking," Gonzales told the TV station. "I'm not actually taking a big chunk of butter and putting it in a fryer, that would be kinda gross."
Gonzales' stand also serves fried Coke, peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches and fried cookie dough.
Other offerings for the annual expo include green goblins, twisted yam on a stick, deep fried peaches and cream, fried pecan pie, country fried pork chops, sweet jalapeno corn dog shrimp and fried peanut butter cup macaroons.
The State Fair of Texas runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 18.

Yup...Fox News: They decide.
So what DID you decide after reading about this??? Did you think you just might want to give the idea a whirl?
Go right ahead: Here's a link to the recipe, all you Yellow Bellied Marmot types.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pika or Yellow-Bellied Marmot?

****Be sure to take the poll on my sidebar after reading this!*****
Along the trail to Ruth Lake were educational stations explaining the ecology and wildlife of the area.
Formerly knowing nothing about Pika behavior or Yellow-Bellied Marmot behavior, I was amused to discover their differing approaches to winter preparation.

The Pika: During the brief summer, this active little "otter" busily harvests a variety of plant materials, dries them in the sun, then stores the "hay" in its rocky burrow. Undaunted by deep snow drifts that drive other animals to lower elevations, the pika lives off its bounty, which may contain a bushel or more of dried plants.

Quite commendable, wouldn't you say?

On the other hand....

The Yellow-Bellied Marmot: The Marmot gathers no summer harvest. Instead, it spends the summer stuffing itself with grasses, leaves, flowers, fruits and occasionally, grasshoppers or birds' eggs.
When winter turns cold, the marmot waddles into its burrow, often dragging its furry belly along the ground, and avoids the bitter mountain winters by hibernating for six months or more, living off its body fat.

Being one to ponder just about anything, it only took me a moment to realize that the Marmot had a fail-safe plan, while the Pika was counting on his stores being safe against disaster. Should a flood occur, the Pika's stores could be washed away, while the Marmot, as long as he lived, would have his winter "supplies" safely attached to his body.

I took a glance down, and could have sworn my own belly had a yellowish cast. During the summer months I too had been stuffing myself with fruits, grains, leaves, and basically anything else that was available as fresh produce. The occasional trips to the vending machine at work had served to develop an extra roll or two of fat around my middle, and then I topped all that off with a viewing of the movie "Julie and Julia", which resulted in a burst of cooking using recipes calling for cubes of butter in each dish. Two weeks later my cooking skills were back up to my college Home Ec. lab days, and my weight had rocketed past full term pregnancy levels. My underwear was feeling tight, and one day I considered calling in "fat" to work when nothing in my "professional" wardrobe felt comfortable.

Suddenly I realized it had all been very Yellow-Bellied Marmot like of me. Thank heaven summer's loose fitting clothing served to cover an expanding waistline. Ice cold fruit drinks, and frozen treats were so nice on the hot summer days; they were the perfect treats for me to consume while sitting around the deck, watching the birds at the feeders after a long day sitting at my work desk, slaving away on the computer.

But here we are at September first, and fall is just around the corner. Yes, it does sound like a perfect plan; I should continue to be YBM-ish, and drag my belly along until I waddle into my basement burrow at first snowfall, and then sleep the winter away. I would awaken in spring slenderized and ready for swim suit season and another summer of inhaling all foods with gusto, and even frying bacon in butter, as suggested by Julia Childs herself.

Sadly, my company just isn't seeing a paycheck being issued for hibernation weeks. That option does not come under Vacation or Sick Days, or even the Family Leave Act. Obamacare didn't mention it either. Looks like I am stuck with daily winter life as usual, plus personal plushness all over.

Either I buy new undies or diet.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Camping: Butterfly Lake, Unitas Mountains, Utah

Butterfly Lake, about a hundred yard from our campsite, 10,000 ft up in the Unitas Mountains in Northern Utah.

Interesting factoid: The Unitas are the only mountain range to run east to west in North America.

Around the lake were lots of blue dragonflies in mating flight, dipping to the water to lay eggs against the upcoming winter, and these blue flowers springing up in the marshy meadow around the lake.

We travel light, and snug. This time in a campground with large RVs and shaft toilets, water spigots and trash containers. Lots of people and loads of children are enjoying the campground too.
We arrived Friday evening, and headed out for a hike Saturday morning. Ruth Lake trail head was just up the road, and the hike was featured as an easy 3/4 mile adventure.
It really was easy...we passed families carrying babies and toddlers on the way.
I admired the trail tones: rocks in mauve, pink, and rose shades that were difficult to capture somehow.
Harebells swayed along side the path. I'm such a sucker for blue flowers!
Small streams wound through meadows that must have been spectacular with wildflowers a few weeks back.
No snow on the mountain tops yet...but with the white stone, it was easy to imagine how it would look in a month or so.
Not Ruth Lake! Just a small lake along the way...
The pine tips were glittered with crystal sap droplets. (Click on the picture to see that effect!)
Bernie taught me something: These bunched branches were the result of constant "trimming' of a branch by by-passers. A similar technique is used deliberately in bonsai work.
Most of the lavender toned daisy like flowers were spent. What was left were being enjoyed greatly by insects gathering the last of the summers bounty.
Stony outcrops that appeared so evenly blocked out, it could have been the ruin of an ancient Abbey or castle on another continent. It was all natural, just a geological form, and evidence of one more thing in life that I know very little about, having never studied geology at all.
I love how tiny streams cut through meadows and how wild flowers follow the streams.

The bleached roots of a fallen tree made a magnificent sculpture along the shoreline.

This was Ruth Lake...and it was the center of a hive of activity: a Boy Scout troop was whooping it up, fishing, swimming, throwing rocks, climbing trees, name it, it was being done, with the non-stop boasting and challenging and laughter that only boys create.

I thought to myself: What a pity it was that boys that age are ever cooped up in a classroom, when they are obviously so created for this sort of setting.

At that moment on of the boys in the lake shouted out: It is 15 degrees in here!

Hmmm...well, I guess some classroom time is in order, unless the boy was using Celsius in his temperature reporting. (That would be 59 degrees F. then. That was possible...but if it was 15F., then the water should have been rock hard.)

Back to those darling blue marsh flowers....

The tracery inside is so lovely.

I left Bernie to fish, and climbed up above the lake a bit to a rocky flat.
Pockets of soil were sustaining small moss gardens.

Up close they looked like a parkland viewed from an air plane.
Or maybe a golf course.
The solid flow of rock was encrusted with smaller stones of a variety of colors.
How long ago had that flow occurred?
What are such rocks called?
(Curious, but not curious enough to get a geology book out. I just want a geology maven to chum up with on these hikes.)

At 10 thousand feet up, the few butterflies I saw were going flap flap flap WHEEZE wheeze...flap...wheeze...Oh I need to rest for a minute...

It was pretty easy to get this shot. The butterfly just stayed right there the longest time.

It was interesting to follow a small stream and meadow up to the end of the timber line.

We are still not sure what bird this is: A gray jay or a ?????

Dad? Any clues?

The bird and his buddies demanded we feed them. Thankfully we did have some peanuts in our trail mix or I don't know what would have happened.

Did Bernie catch a fish? Yes he did....and several more! He actually only kept three...a rainbow, and two of these below:
This was a brook trout...and it had sweet pinkish meat,while the larger rainbow had white meat.
B. actually only caught and kept one up at Ruth Lake. The others (and the ones he released) he caught later that day back at Butterfly Lake.

The trout loved to hid beneath the lily pads! this not gorgeous? And there was entertainment too, as we watched a man and his father launch a canoe, and promptly tip over in the water, only to emerge covered with slime.

They cheerily called out "The second show will be held at 8 pm!"

A steady gently breeze rippled the water most of the time. I was glad of the few shots I could get of still water reflections.
Bernie dry fly fishing. Yes, he caught the fish on dry flies!
While he fished, I was napping. He put together a foil wrap stew dinner for us.
As the pink sunset to the west turned the eastern mountain range red...

We enjoyed a fire in the cool evening air, and I read John Adams aloud by lantern.
Back home we knew it to be close to 100 degrees F.

Being high in the mountains is a great solution to August heat.

Come morning...trout for breakfast!
I did wash up...and wondered what others thought: is mis-matched flatware fun or bum?
Should I stay with the odds and ends, or get a neatly matched set?
(Put your opinion in the comments please!)
After washing up and packing up, we headed back down the mountain, stopping by a portion of the upper Provo River, where a large waterfall was right off the road with a viewing area.
Of course fishermen were fishing...
We pulled over a bit more down the road, and Bernie took a try at a bit more angling.
While I did a bit more camera exploring.
I thought this was the prettiest flower of the weekend. Love the furry throat.
This was pretty wonderful too...
and this. I never get tired of photographing flowers.
Lichen catches my interest as well....
It makes for a nice balance: He fishes, I photograph.

More geology...the colors! It could be bark if the blue wasn't in it.

Pretty everything.
So much beauty all around...and less than two hours from home.