Friday, September 16, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: Trump as the Wizard of Oz

 What will our country look like if Trump is elected?  When voters are forced to remove the the emerald glasses they will see not a great nation but a train wreck.

Let's be a Beacon: Trump as the Wizard of Oz: "Don't look at the man behind the curtain, look over there!" Remember that line from the Wizard of Oz, when Toto pulled down...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fall in the Air

It was another beautiful evening, cool enough to lengthen our evening walk and head to "Mallard Pond".  We haven't been there for awhile.  In summer it is a quiet spot with little wildlife.  We might spot an occasional flycatcher or flicker but the geese, ducks, raptors and egrets are gone, until last night.

The ducks haven't yet returned but squadron after squadron of noisy geese were seen heading in for the night.  Now they gather together in large groups, seeming to enjoy each others company.  In a few months they will pair off and no longer tolerate the intrusion of other geese,  chasing them off from their territory and their mates.

In the dim light I spotted the snowy egret, returned to its place in the shallows.  It was too far away to see its large, bright yellow feet which it uses to stir up the mud.

Then we spotted a roiling in the water.  What could be causing the wakes, the turbulence. The light was dim and I didn't have my bins then "SPLASH", OK, beaver.  I don't have to see them to recognize them when they slap the water with their tail.

We also saw some year-round residents, a young coyote and the rabbits that supply sustenance to the coyotes tribe.

I look forward to the coming seasons as the birds return and we see a new generations of all the creatures that inhabit the nearby open spaces.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Exporting Californina's Water

I like this little creek that flows in the vale behind our house.  No, it's not the prettiest but it provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.  Quail, pheasants, raptors and many other birds make their home here.  Coyotes and bobcats find sustenance from the rabbits and voles that live here.  While the stream is natural, the flow is not.  It is managed to provide irrigation water for the rice fields father west.  Is that a problem?  Maybe, maybe not, it depends on your point of view
California is in a drought, homeowners are asked to conserve water and many of us do.  I use a minimum  of detergent when I wash clothes or dishes and collect the water to use on the garden.  No lawn for us, much of the landscaping produces fruit and vegetables and that which doesn't gets little water other than rain.

That irrigation water flowing behind my house mostly goes to grow rice and most of that rice is exported.  In fact, most of what California grows is exported.  Farmers choose crops for profit (it just makes economic sense) and not for what is needed here at home.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, the world needs to be fed and it is good that we have a surplus of food but perhaps there are less water intensive crops that can be grown.

Rice is only part of the problem, though.  There are other water intensive crops grown in California that do not feed people.  Alfalfa is a very water intensive crop and much of the alfalfa grown in California is sent to China.

Another water intensive crop, even more problematic is cotton grown in the San Joaquin  Valley.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry each time I see a cotton wagon covered with a sign saying "food grows where water flows".

Water is a complex and controversial subject in the west.  Streams that once flowed abundantly and freely are now diverted to agriculture so little water remains to reach the delta.  Aquifers are being drawn down at an alarming rate to grow almonds and other crops for export.  Our water laws were written for a simpler time, a time when water seemed abundant and few cared about the future of the environment or our ability to feed a growing world population.

Don't think I am maligning the family trying to make a living off the land.  Much of California's farms are owned by large conglomerates or hedge funds.  Unlike traditional farmers they don't take a long view, they will draw down the water table, take their profits and leave a dust bowl behind.

While I don't agree with all of the positions of the California Water Impact Project, they do have a lot of information on their site for those interested in the subject.

More information about water and agriculture can be found here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eastern Sierra--Virginia Creek

We went up to our cabin last week and I went hiking for the first time this summer.  Jules no longer feels confident in his hiking ability so I headed up the trail on my own.

In spite of all the fires in California and Nevada the air was crisp and the views spectacular.
I never tire of these lakes but I did get tired.  Since we spend most of the year near sea level the 9,600' elevation is starting to get to me.  I made it, six miles round trip with 1,000' elevation gain.  Back at the cabin I collapsed in the hammock for an hour.
We needed some distilled water for the batteries (our off the grid cabin uses solar cells to charge batteries for night time energy) and saw that there was a new fire in the area.  Now, five days later it is 85% contained.
Traveling further down the road we found evidence of nature's resilience.  The Marina fire burned this slope five weeks earlier and there is already new growth.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: trump in an Alternate Universe

Let's be a Beacon: trump in an Alternate Universe: I'm not sure what universe trump lives in but it sure isn't the one I live in.  Little that he says has any resemblance to the real ...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mono Lake and the Drought

We went down to the site of the Old Marina on Mono Lake near Lee Vining to see how five years of drought have effected the lake level

Easy to see that the lake level has fallen exposing more of the tufa formations.
A docent told us that he used to read the water depth on this gauge, now high and dry.
Turning around we could see what may be another effect of the drought, the results of the recent "Marina Fire".  It's hard to know how much drought may be contributing to fire in the west, fire is something we have always dealt with.  Drought and the extremely hot weather do not help.  
My hat goes off to the firefighters, I sure couldn't do that hard work in the heat.  
The fire burned all around this little lodge across from the lake.  It survived unscathed thanks to the fire crews but I'm sure that the owners were nervous.

Visit Our World Tuesday for more views of our wonderful world

Monday, June 13, 2016

Radical Christianity

 There are those who would use the tragedy in Orlando for political gain calling the actions of one mentally ill man an example of "radical Islam" and condemning all Muslims.
Some would have us exclude Muslims from our country for fear or "radical Islam".
Should we then exclude all Christians for fear of "radical Christianity" as exhibited by people like Eric Rudolph?
Around our nation so-called Christians have been preaching violence against the LGBT community for years.  Is this the type of nation we want to be?  Are hate filled Christians any better than hate filled Muslims.
Who was it that said "let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? Oh, right, that was Jesus, wasn't it?