23JUL2021 – OCF Update – The Prisoner Speaks

I’ve been washing venetian blinds all morning and am still only half done!  I’ve calculated that there are 450 individual slats to clean by hand one at a time.  Camera Girl is a harsh mistress.  Pardon my absence.  I will catch up as soon as I am released from bondage.

As a quick note I listened to ZMan’s Friday podcast and it was on “The Book of Five Rings.”  The book’s author was a 17th century Japanese swordsman named Miyamoto Musashi.  The book is ostensibly on the strategy of sword fighting but is actually a meditation on the philosophy of living in the real world.  I thought his podcast was extremely interesting and I’ll have to read book soon.  I wish the podcast was much longer it took my mind off the drudgery I am enduring.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

26JUN2021 – OCF Update

As you can tell I’ve been spending time doing some of these macro focus stacking projects.  It’s a weird thing and much less fun than just taking photos.  But it does allow me to make images that would be impossible otherwise.  But it’s fussy and time consuming.  I’ll be doing some flower shots soon and I’ll see what else I can think of.

Camera Girl has abandoned me today to learn how to paint pictures.  She left my lunch in the microwave.  I will have to feed the dogs and push the button on the microwave and talk to myself for several hours.  I told her this was a dereliction of her wifely duties.  She narrowed one of her eyes and I think she was thinking bad things about me.  Luckily I think she lacks psychokinetic powers.  Unluckily she makes my food so you never know.

Camera Girl has become a voracious reader of fiction.  It’s mostly crime novels but recently she read a book that was recommended by a friend.  Based on the quality of that book she picked up another one by the same author.  Yesterday she told me that the plot of the book involved a black maternity nurse who gets involved in the death of an infant whose father is a white supremacist.  He even has swastika tattoos on his head.  Apparently, in the story the hospital is punishing the nurse out of consideration for the influence of the swastika guy.  I told Camera Girl I thought this was quite a stretch of the imagination.  “How many white supremacists are out there who have the local district attorney prosecuting black nurses?  I’m thinking the number is slightly lower than one.”

I tried to browbeat her into abandoning her book but she never drops a book until she finishes it, no matter how bad it is.  Well, this prompted me to remind her why I don’t bother to watch most television and movies that have a Leftist slant.  She rolled her eyes and nodded.  I told her I’ll have to find a Dissident Right author for her to read as penance for the indignity I suffered through knowing she was reading this piffle and she made a disparaging noise that was sort of a guffaw mixed with a cough.  Women!

Anyway, I’ll have some stuff up later and we’ll see how the day goes.  It looks nice out so I’ll be at play in the Gardens of the Lord.  Enjoy your day.

09MAY2021 – OCF Update – Happy Mother’s Day

It’s going to be quiet on the site today because I’ll be gone for a chunk of the day eating delicious unhealthy food with the most important people in the universe, my descendants.  After all their relationship to that strangest of all human beings, me, ensures that I find them infinitely fascinating.  I will impose myself on them and assume the role of “one of the boys.”  Whatever they want to do I’ll join in.

And I’ll be a charming guest for their parents too.  But it is a well known fact that grandchildren are much more fun than children, especially after they become parents.  So that won’t be as fruitful an activity to my mind.  And I’ll be nice to Camera Girl.  But really that’s her children’s job today.  It’s right there in the title of the day.  But I’ll still be nice to her.  She deserves it.

The day has dawned and it is sunny, butterflies were fluttering by and the stupid blue birds are complaining that once again they were dispossessed of the houses I built for them by birds with more grit and verve.  I intend to go out now and perambulate in the Fields of the Lord and restore my faith in creation as a whole if not in the so-called pinnacle of it.

I hope all of you have a good day with your families and I’ll contribute something today when I can.

17MAR2021 – OCF Update – Camera Girl’s Birthday

The great religious holiday is upon us again.  Once a year to celebrate her birthday Camera Girl makes that traditional Barese meal, Corned Beef and Cabbage.  Now, I won’t pretend that I’ve always enjoyed it.  I confess that until I discovered the power of really strong brown mustard I didn’t always care for the cabbage.  And even today I do require that the cabbage is extremely well drained.  But with the availability of better grades of corned beef I’ve seen the light and now relish this once a year treat.

And as a special bonus this year, Camera Girl will be going for her first dose of COVID vaccine today.  She is approaching this treat with a bit of trepidation.  She has always been a little more aware of her mortality than I.  And who can blame her?  Any chance that her privilege of spending time with me could be curtailed would seem like an unacceptable risk.  But honestly, if I can manage to snag a shot too this long imprisonment away from family will finally be over.

But to all those out there of Irish extraction and to anyone who lived in a place that celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy the day in your traditional manner while I get out the mustard jar.

Begorra!!!

 

Post Script: Well, Camera Girl arrived back from her shot alive so I guess she can relax.  Although now she claims she’s really afraid of the second shot.  I give up.

10MAY2020 – OCF Update – Happy Mother’s Day

Greetings everybody out there.  Hope all the moms out are somewhat enjoying Mother’s Day.  Although the whole cowering-in-place has rendered Camera Girl’s Mother’s Day sort of an academic exercise.  None of her kids can come to see her.  In recognition of this injustice I have spent the weekend as her company.  Unfortunately I’m a poor stand in for her children.  But I did what I could.  She is a Scrabble fanatic so I volunteered to play several games of this bizarre pastime.  It confirmed my belief that she has somewhat unorthodox ideas about what constitutes as legitimate English word.  She used “droid” without any embarrassment.  In addition we watched some movies together.  Interestingly we watched the movies I wanted to see but I attribute that to coincidence.  But I have been incredibly attentive.  I have been talking about all kinds of stuff and asking her all kinds of questions and talking about all the good things we can do together alone.  I’ll have to say, in my opinion, her enthusiasm was somewhat lacking.  Several times she seemed to wander away in the middle of one of these displays of attentiveness.  Apparently laundry and floor sweeping are time critical in her mind.  I’ve always thought men are much more sociable creatures.  Not to mention our pleasant and even-tempered personalities.  Well what can you do?

So anyway, I’ve been unavailable for output on OCF this weekend but that interregnum is now over.  I’ve got a post cued up for tonight on the Flynn fiasco.  I think that should be a major point of discussion for folks on our side of the aisle.  The fact that the information has been transmitted to the public is in itself encouraging.  More to follow.

We had a little more snow here yesterday but it wasn’t much to talk about.  But it really makes you wonder how much later into the year it would have to snow before we could question the reality of global warming.  Would a foot of snow at the Fourth of July qualify?  I’ll have to ask one of my Green friends (if I had any).

So enjoy the holiday to the extent that circumstances will allow but I’m back on the job and content will follow.

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

17MAR2019 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day

As a native inhabitant of New York City and a parochial school inmate with deep family roots in the NYPD, I grew up with the yearly ritual of the St. Patrick’s Day parade with its kilted and bagpipes playing policemen and endless blarney about the religiosity of the City’s inhabitants.  But I still think fondly of the ritual.  Also March Seventeenth is Camera Girl’s Birthday so she is honorary Irish and celebrates by making corned beef and cabbage for dinner.  So a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to any and all Irish and other fans of the day.

Images from Camera Girl’s Annual Christmas Cookie Project

Christmas cookies account for a full 30% of my annual weight gain.  Oatmeal, chocolate chip and Grandma cookies (or white cookies as one of my brothers calls them) are sinfully good with a mug of coffee.

 

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

 

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

 

The only ones that don’t tempt me are the sugar cookies.  With their sweetness and the colored sugar crystals adorning them I think of them as a snack for young children who haven’t yet developed a more discerning palate (to each his own).

 

Christmas Cooking, Sony A7 III, Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens

 

Camera Girl is revered by all who can get their greedy hands on any of these treasures and the short time that they last is one of the high points of the culinary calendar.

Fungus Among Us

Camera Girl is a great naturalist.  She likes being called Hawkeye because of her sharp and discerning vision.  She uses this keen sense mostly to see what it says on the speedometer in order to tell me I’m driving too fast.  But she also is adept at spotting interesting flora and fauna in the great wide world of our back yard.  She spots monarch butterfly caterpillars and hungry foxes and great blue herons and all kinds of birds around her feeders.  She discovers muskrats and minks and turkeys and turkey vultures, hawks and deer and coyotes and all kinds of flowers wild and garden.  Last year at about this time she spotted some unusual white plants sprouting underneath a conifer on the edge of a heavily wooded area of the property.  I thanked her for her find and proceeded to acquire a nice collection of mosquito bites crawling around on my belly trying to get a shot.  Here is the plant.

 

I thought it a very interesting plant and assumed it was white only because it was in a darkly shaded area.  I thought no more about it until this year.  In the last few weeks we have had some extremely hot and also some extremely rainy weather.  So even though it is August my “lawn” is a verdant carpet of crab grass.  And at the same time a great variety of different species of mushrooms have appeared in the yard, especially close to some wooded areas of the property.  Camera Girl knows I like to use mushrooms as subjects for close-up and macro photography and so she provides me with info on the best new mushroom sightings.  This year was no exception so I have managed to photograph a goodly number of interesting fungi.  But what was different was her discovery of additional specimens of the sprouting white plants.  I was able to use the superb magnified focus of my new Sony A7 III to very good advantage on these plants.

Monotropa uniflora, Indian pipe, ghost plant, corpse plant, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens
Monotropa uniflora, Indian pipe, ghost plant, corpse plant, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens
Monotropa uniflora, Indian pipe, ghost plant, corpse plant, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens

And because the places I found the plants was not as dark as last year’s location I decided that their coloration was not a fluke of location.  They really were white.  Using all the resources of the interwebs I was able to identify these unusual plants.  It is known systematically as Monotropa uniflora but commonly it is called Indian pipe, ghost plant and corpse plant.  It has no chlorophyll to allow it to produce sugar from carbon dioxide and water.  Instead it steals its food from underground fungi of the family Russulaceae.

Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f4 Macro lens
mushroom, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens

 

mushroom, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens

 

mushroom, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens
mushroom, Sony A7 III with Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro lens

This condition of lacking chlorophyll and living parasitically off fungi makes the Indian pipe what is known in botany as an obligate myco-heterotroph.  And it gets even more complicated than that.  The fungus that Indian pipe is mooching off is simultaneously in a symbiotic existence with underground tree roots of beech and other woodland trees.  The tree roots allow the fungus access to sugar and the fungus breaks down decaying material in the soil so that the trees can absorb the nutrients it could not obtain on its own.  In fact, the tree roots and the fungi form an interface called a mycorrhizal network in which the cells of the roots and the fungus interpenetrate each other to allow nutrient materials to flow in both directions to the mutual benefit of both.  So it was no coincidence that Camera Girl discovered the Indian pipe while scouting out new mushrooms.  The torrential rain and torrid heat of the last few weeks is what triggered the sprouting mushrooms and the Indian pipe bloom.  And now I see the even closer relation between these two life forms.  The mushroom is the victim of the Indian pipe thief.

So, this is the kind of weird stuff that I am interested in.  This doesn’t really belong solely in photography or current events and definitely not in science fiction or reviews.  That is why photog’s Corner was made, for this kind of weird stuff.  Caveat lector, let the reader beware.

Camera Girl is Buying Goats

I think it is a sign of the coming apocalypse that suburban residents think they need to have farm animals on their property.  And women are entirely impractical about pets.

Now, coming from an individual who in the past has kept four of the six giant snake species in a Brooklyn apartment this might sound slightly self-serving and hypocritical.  In fact, it probably is.  But everybody always says a boy needs his hobbies.  No one ever says a girl needs her hobbies.  QED.

But I maintain that I am a reformed former animal horder.  For this reason, I feel that I have the right to pronounce judgement against this misguided practice.

Going through the various animal keeping proclivities of our marriage, it is obvious that eventually we would branch out from indoor menageries and end up in the barnyard.  And after the fiasco of the Great Quail Fail of 2017 (as it came to be known) it was inevitable that Camera Girl would want revenge.  But my actual problem with the new animal introduction is practical.  The winters in New England can be brutally cold and snow filled.  It occurs to me that during some prodigious snow fall when the goat enclosure is engulfed by some absurd 50” snow fall that I will be called upon at some god-awful hour to go out and clear a space for the goats to allow them to get at their food and water.  And based on my memory of Lovecraft’s description of Shub-Niggurath, (“The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”), I believe there is a better than even chance that the critters will take advantage of my proximity and vulnerability to stage some kind of satanic attack upon my person.

Alright, I don’t really think it will be satanic.  But goats are jerks and they will probably butt me with their stupid horns and that will probably really hurt.  So, there’s that.  Plus, I’ll have to clean out their pen because let’s face it, men always get stuck with the crappy jobs.  So that’s why I hate the goats.  But Camera Girl does feed me and stuff so I guess it’s still a good deal.  I guess.

But have you ever looked at goats.  They’ve got those weird eyes that are really weird and maybe they are satanic.  And they’re gonna eat everything they can get their teeth into so they’ll turn their pen into the Plain of Gorgorath where nothing can survive.  Plus, I’ll bet the pen will be under constant assault by the local coyote pack and they’ll be howling every night and I’ll probably have to defend the stupid goats as if I actually wanted them to survive.  It’ll be like that scene in Whisperer in the Darkness where the old guy is defending his compound from the giant fungus lobsters with his rifle and german shepherds.  Except that german shepherds are actually useful and goats aren’t.  And I don’t have a rifle.  And coyotes aren’t lobsters.  But it was in New England.

I feel that the only hope is if biological science makes rapid advances in genetic engineering.  If genetically modified goats that only grow to the size of crickets could be commercially available then my problem would be solved.  I could set up a pen for them in the kitchen junk drawer and they would be a very small problem to take care of.  So that’s what I’m banking on at this point.  The goats are supposed to arrive a week from Saturday so there’s still time.  I know it’s a long shot but my luck’s got to change some day.  Maybe this will be it.  So, come on you genetic researchers, stop being so selfish and put aside all this cancer jazz for a minute, and solve a really urgent need, the world’s cricket-sized goat shortage.  What color ribbon is still available for the cause?

End of Summer Blues

 

In New England, the end of summer is akin to how it must have felt to the pyramid-building slaves when their break period was about to end.  A wonderful but horribly short respite was giving way to endless unimaginable agony.  And this cycle would repeat itself until merciful death interceded.  It’s just like that.

Summer is breathtakingly beautiful because of the contrast to what follows.  It was less than 40F here this morning.  On the second day of September.  Still summer!  And it goes rapidly downhill from here.  Sure, we’ll have some warm days.  Over eighty sometimes.  But it’s just a cruel tease meant to highlight just how bad things will soon be.  In the last decade or so New England has unleashed a new and terrifying alternative to winter storms.  This is where a freezing rain or snow descends on us in October while the trees are still full of leaves.  The trees in this condition hold onto much more snow and ice than normally and therefore huge branches and limbs can break off the trees.  And that’s how millions of people end up without power for days or even weeks.  So, what you have is houses without heat, some without a stove, some without water, which means without toilets.  It’s such a joy.  So, installing an emergency generator really isn’t an extreme decision.  It’s sort of mandatory if you want to eat and drink and stay warm and go to the bathroom and, you know, live.

So, why am I writing about this?  Well mostly to let you people living in other parts of the country know how lucky you are.  Sure, they have hurricanes down south and earthquakes in the west and tornadoes in between but those only very infrequently effect you.  Here we know as sure as night follows day that we will be wet, miserable and cold for eight months of the year, every year until we die or we have the good sense to get the hell out of this purgatorial region.

And why don’t I leave?  Ah, I am bound with the strongest and most adamantine of chains, the grandmother/grandchildren bond.  If a woman is possessed of an industrial strength maternal instinct (as, sadly, Camera Girl is) then no power in the ‘Verse short of a strategic thermonuclear strike will pry her away from these rugrats.

So here I am.  The rollercoaster is at the top of the lift hill and the slow ratchet up is done.  We’re staring down but the bottom has not yet dropped out of our stomachs.  Here we go.

End of depressing preamble.

So, I’ve got this cool three-day weekend.  Some relatives are coming up.  I’m going out to take some seasonal photos and I’m bound to hang out with the grandsons too.  Plus, the mystery of the disappearing quail needs to be answered.  I’ve put out a game camera and hope to catch some photos of them gamboling around in the woods and thickets.  And finally, I’m finishing up the available Cowboy Bebop discs from Netflix.  I decided to try out another anime title (Ghost in the Shell 2.0) and it just arrived.  All in all, it sounds like I’ll be having a very good time.

A very happy and relaxing Labor Day Holiday to all you good folks out there reading OCF.  I’ll have more serious stuff right along soon but today just enjoy a good rest and do something fun.