Monday, March 1, 2021
Saturday, January 9, 2021
The year has started out quite pleasant...not great for driving I'm sure, but the cold foggy mornings have brought pleasant tapestry everywhere. Its been a mild winter so far.
As far as critters visiting each day, we've had the usual Opossums and Raccoons at the bird feeders during the night and a flush of American Goldfinches, House Finches and a good crop of Purple Finches from up north. Our Juncos all seemed to have moved south on the heels of the blizzard a couple weeks back and occasionally we still see a Tree Sparrow or two, which is unusual as most winters they tend to stay in good numbers through at least February or March.
We have had one unusual visitor and I suspect is is an escapee from someone's pen. We had a Northern Bobwhite for a few days! It was very skittish and a loner so I don't have much hope for it surviving around here...we have lots of hungry Coyotes, Owls and hawks! We had a Northern Bobwhite show up here in the valley about 18 years ago too, so this has been fun to see!
A bit of a rush this past Christmas in the studio, some last minute orders and a very slow postal service for shipping anything! It makes it a bit hectic getting materials and supplies on time for clients! But we got through it and now settling in for the winter.
I usually try and write a positive blog...I'm struggling with this one...even what to say.
We all witnessed January 6th. I'm struggling to understand why some seem to think it was no big deal. I'm struggling to understand why some of our legislators swore an oath to the Constitution, yet are loathe to carry it out. I'm struggling to understand why people I thought were intelligent, believe anything a classic narcissist says. And I struggle to understand why we can't work together for the common good and benefit of one another.
I truly hope that this nation can pull together, quit finger pointing, quit crying wolf and be good to one another. Love thy neighbor as thy self - haven't we learned this yet?
Take care and cherish your family and friends. I'll say it again - please be good to one another.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Am I getting old or what? Here we were plugging along, being spoiled with warmer than normal days - Georgie even cut Spinach from underneath her row cover in the north yard garden a couple days before Christmas! We were feeling pretty smug about it all...even been putting off mounting the plow to the truck this fall/winter, I mean - why bother, right?
Ha! Of course it snowed - it was Christmas yesterday after all! I only remember one Christmas in NW Iowa when there was no snow, and that was in the mid 1950's! I remember fussing about how was Santa going to get around - guess I should have looked at the bigger picture...hey he had to deliver to the southern hemisphere too - DUH! Shouldn't be too hard switching sleigh runners to wheels right?
But ya, reality raised its head and there we were...spending the last day of no snow and decent temps getting ready for a Blizzard Warning the next day...not a lot of snow, maybe 5"? Hard to tell when its horizontal. Pretty good winds...a basic white-out for nearly 10 hours. Yup, sure looked like Christmas...should be a lot of happy kids anyway! Us old grumps will just have to enjoy the view - it is pretty😊
Just a week ago we were all excited checking out the "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn in the SW sky. For a good 10 days I thought we were doomed to cloud cover each evening, but two days before the event we got lucky and had a good look...it was kind of cool seeing both Jupiter and Saturn in the camera lens together...were able to see 4 of Jupiter's moons also but not any of Saturn's (Its just a camera lens after all). The next night we were clouded in again and it seemed maybe the best day - the 21st - might be lost as well.
But we got lucky! It was pretty windy the evening of the 21st but I did the best I could with the camera/lens...could see just 3 of Jupiter's moons...Callisto was too far out and too dim this time but Saturn was now very close in view with Jupiter. I tried taking some normal scenes with the two in the background but they just weren't shots I was happy with. This had plenty of hype for a few weeks before but really (not to rain on parades or the "emotional" event some portrayed) I remember plenty of single planet observations of Jupiter by itself - closer in its orbit to Earth, and Venus - especially last summer(!); that were much brighter than this conjunction...but it really was cool to see both planets so close by one another in the night sky!
And now we're hearing rumbles of another snow system coming in about 3 days. But its now winter and we'll just settle in to the rhythm of the season; at least the days are now getting longer - that's a positive!
I'm looking forward to a better year ahead...and I know of a few Billion people thinking the same thing...at least we had a White Christmas here and didn't miss out!
Have a Happy and Blessed New Year, and be kind to one another!
Saturday, November 21, 2020
If memory serves me, the past couple years lacked some of my favorite days of the season...Indian Summer. This year has tried making up for it and hasn't done too bad of a job. Although we've had 3 snowfalls this season already, they've been fairly light and melted in short order...just the past several days have been in the 60's and 50's and quite pleasant for late November!
Really I haven't relished this Fall too much, I won't get into it, just say I'd as soon forget it...in fact most of us would just as soon forget the entire year! Its been tough on some folks more so than others.
I will admit I have been having a good deal of trouble motivating myself, like many, many have I'm sure. But I have had a few bright spots appear here and there this year...so thankful for Georgie and the kids, and good friends who think of me and lift my spirits. I know I am blessed and am grateful.
Studio work has been slow, but I keep on plodding away with small jobs and also work on the acreage...the chain saw has been busy off and on, a little seed collection from the pastures and some patching of the barn and crib roofs have also kept us busy. Drawing, printing and some framing occupying each day now, tis the season😊.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Finally!!!!!!!!! It's the 29th of August and its "Decent" outside! Very pleasant day in the shade and even in the sun...I hope we outlasted the heat.
Its been a bugger...slightly over a quarter inch for the entire month of August and most of the plants in the prairie pasture are going dormant or look like they wish they had. Everything will be fine, its just a "brown out" type of a scene with the golden rods and sunflowers doing the majority of the lifting of colors. One good side to it is we haven't had to mow the acreage since the first week of July! Oh - the other good side of it is we have not suffered through Durecho wind storms nor hurricanes or forest fires and we're still healthy! A person must always count their blessings and be grateful...I say this sincerely.
We have had some spectacular evening skies around here the past month. As storms developed in the region, they always split around us - leaving us dry but with awesome views of their majesty! It was frustrating but as I said, we've been very fortunate.
have been unusually brisk here at the studio, cannot explain it other
than just saying I'd better get busy this winter as my walls are getting
bare! My participation in the 2020 Birds in Art international exhibit
in Wausau, WI comes up in a couple weeks! Although this will be the
first time I haven't gone to see the opening in person when I've been
included - everything's changed with Covid...it will still be an
outstanding showing of Bird Artists the world over! I just sent a small
piece for an auction the Woodson Art Museum is having for Birds in
Art...they do a "post card" auction of small 4X6" originals and I
contributed a small color pencil drawing "Distant Thunder - Red-tail"
for the auction...I'll at least be there in spirit 😊
Bring on September I say...and I beg your sincere pardon if it sours on us all as this summer seems to have. Hope we at least finally beat the heat!
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)
Its been a warm one for sure and the faucet has been constricted a bit too. And here we are in July already...geeze - mid July! This is getting way out of hand; I know I'm easily distracted (Squirrel!!!!!!!!!) but give me a break! This was once a weekly blog and now its almost quarterly!
We have been keeping busy around the acreage...the gardens are all doing extremely well thanks always to the Mrs. - Georgie runs a tight ship and works really hard at it too...been too much water hauling with the low rain this summer but its going well for her.
Georgie and I started the early summer with a huge brome problem in the pasture where they laid a septic field in June of 2019...I mean huge! Although there were some "survivors" in the disturbed part of the pasture, it actually turned into nearly solid brome. Ugh.
I started weed whacking it bit by bit and hauling our "hay", but it looked like a better method should be found. Georgie started cutting it out - at the base of every clump - literally...I think it took maybe 2 weeks of every morning to get it done...I'm sure we could have made a nice big bale out of that mess! Then I went through and treated clump stumps...its going to be a process - trying to get new things to survive in chest high brome is problematic to say the least.
(photograph - © Bruce A. Morrison)
Its comet month in July - C2020 F3 (Comet NEOWISE) has become visible to the unaided eye, both in the morning and in the evening...but only after dark. It took me three tries to finally find it and get a shot (above). My first mistake was thinking that 4:45 a.m. was early enough to get up and see it...wrong. My second mistake was go out at 9:30 p.m. and see it...wrong again! Ugh, frustrating. But then I found some more specific times relating to viewing the comet...it just needed to be earlier or later...depending on the time of day of course.
I finally found NEOWISE out back here after 10:15 p.m., but I had to first spot it with the aid of binoculars...I'd never have found it without them. It's just too dim yet. The above picture was taken with my 200-500mm lens with a 1.4 converter attached, which gave me 700mm at F8. Now F8 is not fast by any stretch of the imagination but ramping up my ISO (ASA to old timers like me) to 3200 gave me the image above with a 1.6 second exposure.
If you're interested in seeing NEOWISE I'd recommend going out before 4:00 a.m. or after 10:15 p.m. It is getting brighter but I'd still recommend using binoculars to "find" it first then you can see it without if you like. (Its much more interesting magnified of course). In the a.m. look to the left of where the sun will rise (NE)...you'll see Venus rising at around the same time in the east - that is bright! NEOWISE will be dimmer so it'll take some looking first. In the p.m. look right of where the sun set that evening...in the NW. You can use the pan of the Big Dipper as a guide...follow down and to the right and it will get you in the right vicinity...again use binoculars to help locate it first. I believe its brightest (closest approach to the earth) is around the 24th of July, but there's no telling if it will hold out that long...comets are unpredictable.
We are having a nice number of Monarchs here this summer...hardly a day goes by that I don't see Monarchs in "tandem" flight, and we're seeing good numbers of caterpillars as well. But many other insects seem absent or at least in much lower numbers. I judge this by what I encounter when I'm pulling weeds...I'm just not disrupting or bumping into things like I normally would have during other summers past. But we have been having nice numbers of Lightning Bugs (Fire Flies to some) each night...if you look closely at the lower left corner of the photo above you'll see a Lightning bug resting under the forming blossom head.
In the meantime I'm taking much of the summer off...was out pulling brome in the pasture this morning and will likely be out this afternoon with the shears cutting out elms on the north pasture...elms and mulberries mostly...maybe a few locusts. But if the sun comes out from behind our current overcast, I may call that off too - its been beastly hot this summer!!! And dry - here any way!
Everyone stay safe out there and be kind to others please. See you down the road this summer!!!