Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (http://www.cincinnatizoo.org/) is a holiday tradition for many in southwest Ohio. It's had it's up years and down years, years where the lights make me Ohh and Ahh and years where the lights merely fizzle. But whether at the top of it's game or the bottom, the Festival of Lights provides visitors with the rare opportunity to see animals at night. Nocturnal animals are awake and prowling, and others have just been fed and are gnawing at bones, digging at bananas, or prancing with post-dinner playfulness.

This year, 2.5 million LED lights lit up the zoo and its exhibits, the zoo trying to be as "green" as possible for the first time. A noble effort, for sure, and the more-environmentally-friendly aspects made up for the slight fizzle of the light show. Also, at the entrance, there was a zoo person carrying around a tiny owl (who head injured ears and could not survive in the wild) that was very near the cutest thing I have ever seen. Most of the animals houses were open, though many of the outdoor exhibits were closed either due to night or winter. Missed the gorillas... again. Bummer. Maybe if we get there in the summer?

Though costly at full price, there are discount tickets abound, and members often get guest passes and discount coupons that, from experience, they almost never use. My parents are members, and their membership covers parking fees and one guest, and with that and a discount pass, the four of us got in for $6! A zoo is always a worthy cause anyway, and always worth getting a pass if you live within 100 miles of one.

Some shots from our visit:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Enjoying my backyard...

In between times when my neighbor's dogs aren't barking at air, I take some time to slip on snow boots and play in the snow in my backyard. The back faces a cow/hay pasture (in fallow this past year) and out into hills on the Res. It's quite peaceful when the dogs are inside, especially with a layer of new snow and thin frost.

This is the view from the front of our house, out into the Winds. A beautiful view, as long as the semis don't muck is up.

And finally, a view of our house, and our house's view

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just a couple of shots of our new snow in Lander:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

This Year in Self Reflection...

A prompt by Thandelike on Twitter: metamorphosis chooses us. what inner surprises changed you in 2009? http://bit.ly/76ROTB

So what inner surprises or metamorphoses have I had this year?

1) That, after much resistance, I actually enjoy doing yoga.
2) That I’m not a hardcore outdoorsy person, and despite everybody’s superior attitude about being outdoorsy, I’m OK with that in myself. However, a 14-mile hike is totally worth it if there is beer and pizza at the end of the road.
3) That, as Crosby, Stills and Nash said, I will survive being bested, but I’m sure as hell never going to be happy about it.
4) That I really need to start telling people what’s on my mind, instead of just holding it all in, even if it gets me into trouble. I miss being tactless. I also miss not caring what people think of me, and though I entirely blame this on the people I've known in the last few years who think only of themselves and how they appear to other people and (in the process) hurt as many people as they can, I do know that I let them get to me in the first place and that this is something I need to work out on my own.
5) That I’m not a DIY kinda person even though I always thought I could be, but I guess I should learn. I also used to be pretty self-sufficient, but now that I’m in a relationship I feel very much connected and only one-half of a whole person. I love him dearly, but I’m still trying to figure out how all that works. And I think that’s OK.
6) That I really need to be better about communicating with friends. I hate phones and always will, so I will never voluntarily call people to chat, and “friends” really need to understand that and get over it. That being said, to the few friends I have who DO understand this: I know I need to be better at writing!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Study of Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

In how many different ways can you see one arch? Are there angles that haven't yet been seen? Are there mew ways to see the same angles? Does the value of a vision diminish simply because hundreds of other people have seen the same thing from the same point of view? Or perhaps a point of view is more than just a physical place in a physical moment, but a whole way of thinking...

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Study of Arches

Different arches in different poses and different lighting... there's only so many ways you can photograph something large and, in the scheme of the human lifetime, largely stationary. Though, someone back in the 90s DID get a sweet photo of a chunk of Landscape Arch (the largest arch, span-wise, in the world) falling, as some of you may remember. People have turned to PhotoShop to try to invent new ways of seeing Delicate Arch, but HDR is totally cheating.

Partition Arch, Arches National Park

Corona Arch, BLM land

Bowtie Arch, BLM land

Hiding the sun behind Corona Arch

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, with a person in it on the far left... jerks wouldn't get out of my picture!

Double-O Arch, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, and the empty, broken place where that chunk was before the 1990s, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch, black and white; you used to be able to walk underneath it until that chunk fell off. Jonmikel has some photo slides that prove it!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Chill

It's so cold you can hear it.

When it snows, the world becomes silent. The sounds of the city are dampened, cars far away, even the TV seems strangely muted when faced with the prospect of being snowed in.

But today, it's too cold for silence. The temperature is nearing zero, and the windchill is close to 20 degrees colder. It's not the wind I hear, though the intermittent laments of the Arctic front does numb the hearing. But the world sounds heavy, the echos of the snowfall, the echos of the pure cold, resound in my head. A deafening nothing, a hum inside a kettle drum, rattling around and screaming and throwing a winter fit in the heart of Wyoming. White noise like the white plains and white mountains.

I was not the only one affected. These horses, too, heard the resounding din, and began to kick up their feet in a celebration of frolic-worthy cold and play in the dripping powder.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dino DNA

I don't believe in creationism because, aside from all the completely logical reasons not to, it's way cooler to touch something that was alive 65 million years ago than a lame, probably fake, 6000-year-old bone from a dinosaur that was tamed by Sarah Palin and her drippingly feminine wiles. Damaged goods, man.


Ahhhhhhhh, alive dinosaurs!!!

JM touching a thigh bone!

Dinosaurs are coming!!!

Arguably, NOT a dinosaur... :-)

And also, dinosaurs are real. They just call them sandhill cranes, now. They look and sound EXACTLY like pterodactyls (I know this because I watch a lot of Jurassic Park), and while visiting Dinosaur National Monument, we saw 150+ of them amassing in a stretch of pasture along a river. I've never seen more than 3 in one place EVER, and here they are, organizing for a massive air-strike against the inferior humans! But at least I can be prepared now. Whew.