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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hooray! Snow at Last!

It is snowing, the wind is blowing, the temp is zero with wind chill factored in, and we are smiling and giving thanks. It has been so long since we've had any moisture and we've been so concerned about wildfires, etc. that we are thrilled with a blizzard.

All around us it is a major blizzard with winds up to 50 mph and drifts up to 5 feet, but here in the "brown spot" we have around 6 inches on the ground, the wind has died down, and it is still snowing. Often when those around us get rain or snow, the weather maps show our area around Canon City and Pueblo as a dry area brown spot. This is due to our position in a double rain shadow with the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Monument Divide to the North.

I normally consider snow to be a four letter word, but tonight I am as happy as I can be. In a drought I'll take any moisture I can get. It sure beats dust and wildfire. The best thing is that this is wet snow with good moisture content. This will help turn our brown prairie into green with colorful flowers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bird Photographer Wannabe

Since my brother Steve gave me the new camera, I have been intimidated by it, so it sits in the bag on a shelf in the office. Today with 70 degree, sunny weather, without heavy winds, while working at cleaning up the garden for Spring, I had the joy of hearing and seeing a Curved Bill Thrasher in the Toad Haven trees. I girded up my loins (can women gird their loins?) took the camera from the case and decided I might as well see if I could get an identifiable photo of Mr. Thrasher.

He hasn't been around since last spring, when he sang his heart out trying to lure Ms. Thrasher to join him in creating a nest in the very healthy clump of Cholla cactus along the fence, north of the mini prairie. Unfortunately, Ms. Thrasher evidently had other ideas so he left us and hasn't returned until today. I wish you could hear his lovely aria. He even got Joe's attention early this morning with his gorgeous voice.

With this Canon Power Shot Pro in my hands I feel so ignorant and awkward; but I managed to turn it on, open the viewing screen, crank up the zoom (why I needed a camera other than my comfortable little Canon Elph, which had no optical zoom and couldn't capture birds, even not on the wing) and click the button. Wow! the shutter works a lot faster than the Elph. After following Mr. Thrasher from the front yard Russian Olive tree to the side yard Locust tree in the herb garden, I managed to get several shots.

I then rushed to the computer, opened my quick guide to "uploading photos to the computer" and they actually uploaded. I saved them, printed some just as they came from the camera, and then did some simple Adobe Photo Shop experimentation in improving the contrast, and cropping photos and here are some of the results. I was pleased to find that when I cropped to close ups of the birds and then blew them up in size, I could actually see some details instead of blur. Maybe if I keep experimenting I will get comfortable with this camera. And even better, maybe I will get some great bird photos.

[Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them]

From this photo with lovely blue sky but the birds are not very clear

to this that sets off the birds from the limbs and sky.

To this single House Finch cropped from the right side of the large photo with the Curved Bill Thrasher in the lower middle.

What's Blooming?

I forgot to post a photo of what was blooming in my garden on the 15th, since I was out of town visiting family in Byers, Colorado.

Actually, nothing is blooming outside right now. I did have some snowdrops earlier but the blossoms are gone now and most of the garden is still very tawny and stiff. I have had a few days when it was warm enough and the wind was not blowing everything away to begin removing last years dead plants, that I leave all winter for the birds to forage for seeds. I can't begin to describe how much and fiercely the wind has blown this late winter. We've only had close to one quarter of an inch of moisture all winter and the dust blows in each wind, and every day we hear of wildfires here and there around us. We are supposed to have a big share of our moisture in the form of up slope snows in March and April, but it is not happening this year and I am worried that once again we will have no green grass or flowers on the prairie this spring.

Anyway, the blossoms I am posting are on one of my orchid plants in the south dining room window. I have had good luck getting my orchids to bloom each year and the blossoms last so long. I love them! There ought to be a way to make a quilt from the design of these orchids.

Edited to say this is in response to May Dreams Gardens' Garden Bloggers Bloom Days.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Times They Are A Changin'"

It's a sad time in Colorado with final publication of "The Rocky Mountain News" in Denver.

In 1859, along with the hopeful gold seekers, came William Byers with a printing press which he set up on the banks of Cherry Creek, Kansas Territory, and printed the first newspaper on April 23, in what was to become Denver, Colorado. The "Rocky Mountain News" has reported all the important events of the region, country, and world to those of us who lived in Colorado. The "Denver Post" later came into being and the two newspapers carried on a lively competition through the years, but "The News" has always been my favorite.

Joe's hometown, Byers, was named for the original publisher and editor, who was also one of the movers and shakers getting the railroad to Denver, and naming a town for him was a way the railroad showed their appreciation.

The final edition, which came out just short of the 150th anniversary of the paper, showed famous headlines from the years as well as facsimiles of the masthead as it changed through the years. Most of them pictured the Rocky Mountains and a lighthouse shining light into the region.

The front page is pictured here with the goodby superimposed over the very first edition of the paper. It interested me to read the advertisements from businesses in Nebraska and Iowa since there was only a rough mining camp with few businesses to buy an ad in the area, yet. He must have sold ads to places he passed on his trip to the "diggings". Please click on the photo to enlarge it so you can read the ads, also.

I love the internet, which makes it so simple to gain information and news, as well as communicate individually, but it is heart breaking to see this historic newspaper, that grew up with the territory and state of Colorado, go out of business. It has been one of the biggest stories in Colorado media this weekend.