Monday, August 31, 2009

Over the top--My World

I showed you some of the lower sections of the trail up Virginia Creek from the cabin in earlier posts. A "MyWorld" post in June had the lower portions and "Lake Reflections" last week had the lakes in the middle portion. Last week I wanted to go over the top. Hubby was reluctant so I decided to go alone. There weren't a lot of hikers on the trail and those I saw all seemed to be seniors.
It is about 7.5 miles with 1400' elevation gain. When I reach the top I look back to where I have come from, the cabin is beyond the right shoulder of the mountain on the left.
On top (a little over 11000') it is chilly and breezy but not too bad.
I cross over and go down the other side a bit to take in the view. The lake in the distance, Summit Lake, sits on the border of Yosemite's northern back country. I could go that way and join the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). If I went right at the bottom I could go to Green Lake. I showed you that hike a few weeks ago. For that I would need a car shuttle, one way it is 11 miles. We've done it several times but prefer to start at Green Creek. There is more uphill that way and it is easier on the knees.
Visit more worlds here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Manzanar Shadow

We visited Manzanar at mid-day, just after Memorial Day. There were few shadows at that time of day but at the entrance to the cemetery, this stone with its memorial gifts, cast a shadow and caught my eye.

For more shadows check out Hey Harriet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Kind of Nation

What kind of a nation do we wish to be, what kind of a people to we aspire to become.

This will be one of my occasional political posts, so if you think you will be so upset by my somewhat liberal leanings, quit now. I wouldn't want you to miss out on my other posts, the ones you enjoy because you are turned off by my views.

I occasionally read the comments posted in response to articles in our local paper. I am dismayed at the tone of responses to articles about health care and California's economic plight. Many people seem to believe that all our problems are caused by "illegal aliens" and if we get rid of them all will be well. The language used and the sentiments expressed certainly do not reflect our better nature.

Don't get me wrong, I do not support illegal immigration but there is a difference between immigration and immigrants. I have long championed "zero population growth" and have mixed feelings about immigration of any kind. The interplay of population, immigration and the environment is a complex subject that I will leave for another time.

Here I am speaking about immigrants, the people themselves, and I have great respect for them. For the most part they are hard working people who just want a better life for themselves and their families, just like the immigrant ancestors of those of us who are fortunate to have been born here. Researchers have found that undocumented immigrants add far more to the economy than they take, and I believe that to be true. I have observed how hard they work and how little they get in return.

Except for those in the underground economy, they are having payroll taxes withheld but many will never see the social security or medicare for which they have been paying. Unlike many Americans, most of their ailments go untreated. True, they wind up in the emergency room if they are seriously ill, but so do many uninsured Americans.

We are happy to have them mow our lawns and watch our children for low wages. We like the cheap produce that they pick and don't care about the poor working conditions they endure in the meat packing plants, unpleasant work many of us wouldn't do at any wage. We don't ask about the status of the care givers at the places we have put our elderly. No, we are happy to have the immigrants here until we need a scape-goat for the problems of our own makings

Where is our compassion? our "Christian values" that so many of these same people claim to hold? I am not saying that our problems are easy to solve, I am not even saying that we should open our doors to all who want in. It may be that we can not afford to be generous. What we should not do is demonize the "other".

Let us have an honest discussion of the issues. Ignore the dishonest rhetoric of Fox un-news. If we can't give health care and citizenship to all who need it and want it, let it be with sadness and regret that we deny it rather than irrational indignation. These people are just as deserving as the rest of us.
So, are we a nation of mean-spirited xenophobes or are we a nation of caring, thoughtful, generous people doing our best to see the inherent worth and dignity of all mankind.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eastern Sierra Skies

We had some nice skies last week in the Eastern Sierra.
After a less than successful photo outing at Mono Lake (the birds were not cooperating) we turned our back to the lake and saw some dramatic clounds building to the north.

Later, as the day was drawing to a close, I looked out and saw another beautiful sky as the setting sun illuminated the clouds above the ridge across the canyon from our cabin

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lake Reflections

The air was calm in the canyon for one of our hikes, good conditions for catching some reflections.
First we pass Blue Lake.
Cooney Lake is rarely completely calm.
It was still enough for some nice reflections.
Upper Frog is our favorite lunch stop. This is the view from the natural bench where we have lunch.
To see more watery sites, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to Virginia Lakes

It's too hot here in the Sacramento area, and the air is full of smoke. Neither is condusive to exercise so it is time to return to the cabin. I hope when we get back next week it will be cooler and the fires will be done. There is the possibility of thunderstorms in the mountains so maybe some nice "decorator clouds" for photography.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hazey day at Mono Lake

There was a lot of haze in the air last week, possibly from distant wild fires. I rather like the soft look it gave to this shot from the county park.

There was a lot of bird life but the boardwalk keeps photographers at a distance. The gulls were gorging on brine flies, the avocets were feeding, possibly on brine shrimp and the ducks just floated by. There were phalaropes, and sandpipers and others too far away for me to identify.

For more watery sites, click here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Green Creek--My world

A cold front moved through last week leaving our normally cool mountain downright chilly. The Green Creek trail is 1500' lower and normally too hot for a pleasant hike in August but this day, it was perfect.
The trail follows Green creek most of the way but the creek is below the trail and hidden by trees and brush much of the time, here I caught a glimpse. Often you can hear it even if you can't see it.
Sometimes the trail is in shade.
Other times it is in the open and can be quite hot.
In some places small side streams cross the trail.
The lower elevation has many plants that I don't see up on the mountain.
This old Juniper looks like it has had a hard life but it is covered with berries.
These plants (I think they are a form of manzanita) form themselves to rocks.
I'd love to have this old log to decorate my garden.
The reward for our effort was lovely Green Lake. Our son Mark went on to East Lake which I think is even prettier.
The return trip offered great views to the east.
Check out more worlds here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bridge Shadow

The deck of this bridge in North Cascades was a steel grid. It made an interesting shadow against the cliff.

To see more shadows check out Hey Harriet

Saturday, August 15, 2009

North Cascades Walk

Newhalem, Washington is a company town owned by Seattle Light. It is a lot bigger than the ten house hydro-camp we lived in for 15 years. This interesting sculpture made of insulators sits in a park behind the visitors center.
The Trail of the Cedars is an easy nature walk that starts across the Skagit River from Newhalem.

Strolling through this rain forest you get the feeling that the humidity we experienced was not unusual even if the heat was.
You can look right through this tree but it still lives.
Moss everywhere.
Sometimes you have to look down or you will miss something interesting.
Don't forget to look up, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Edit the Moon

I've been trying to get some really outstanding moon shots with no luck. While up at the cabin I waited in the cold for the moon to rise. Unfortunately by the time it rose above the ridge it was so dark that there wasn't even a faint glow on the land. I learned some things, though. The sunny 16 rule (ISO number for the shutter speed at f16) gives the proper exposure for the moon itself. I also found I got better results manually focusing. Next month, if I remember, I'll try to shoot on the day before full moon and do some more experimenting. I also tried to see if editing and special effects could improve the picture. The results are subtle, don't feel bad if you see no difference.

I duplicated the photo and extracted the moon. The first copy I used the emboss effect and the second the overlay. I think it gives a little bit of depth but as I said, the results are subtle. One problem, I think the process inverted the highs and lows.

For more sky shots, click here.


Some of the bloggers, especially Yogi, seem to get so much enjoyment out of the sport that Hubby and I thought we would try our hand. I checked out the Geocaching site and got the co-ordinates of several near the cabin. It was fun and not as hard as I had expected. Of course, I had been careful to choose ones marked easy. We found two and I think we will do some more. It's a great endeavour to do with a companion.

The site is free but you must register to view the particulars of a cache. If you want to try, give some thought to your "handle" first. I hadn't and just used my generic screen name, not as much fun.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shutter speed

North Cascades National Park is bisected by Ross Lake National Recreation Area. This area consists of several reservoirs that feed hydro-electric plants operated by Seattle Light. This was of interest to us since my Hubby had been an operator at Los Angeles' Gorge power plants in the Owens valley. This plant had four generators in one plant while the ones Hubby operated were each in different buildings separated by several miles. Behind the plant was a garden, currently being renovated. A lovely cascading stream ran along side so I thought I would try different shutter speeds to see which effect I preferred.

1/25 of a second smooths out the water.
1/400 of a second stops the motion and shows the individual drops. Which do you like better?
To see more water, click here

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dementia or Delirium

I recently heard a story on NPR which caught my attention since it mirrored an experience we had with my mother. It discussed the problem of delirium in the hospitalized elderly.

After my dad died my mother came to live with us. Her mobility was impaired but not her mind. She formed a special bond with our grandson, Michael. Since his mobility was also impaired she was able to watch him while I did other chores. If he crawled out of her field of vision she would call out "I don't see Michael" and I would come and find him and put him back where she could see him. It made her feel useful and Michael enjoyed being with her.

After five years with us it became evident that it was no longer safe for her to be alone as she had started to fall and we were away a lot of the time. It was decided that Hubby and I would move to a retirement community in Northern California and Mother would move into an assisted living facility nearby where she would have more companionship and more care.

Eventually one of her falls resulted in an injury that required hospitalization and then placement into a rehab facility. This went well for several weeks and then another fall and the woman I knew disappeared. Most of the time she was unresponsive, if she did respond she made no sense. She was seeing things that terrified her. The facility was noisy and sometimes felt chaotic. The woman in the next bed was agitated, calling for help.

My mother was an intelligent woman with two degrees from UCLA. She was a tough lady, I once saw here chase a bear out of the back seat of our car in Yellowstone. Another time a purse snatcher had tried to grab her bag but she held on and he ran off. This frightened, disoriented woman was not the mother I knew and I wanted my mother back.

The discharge planner insisted that I should find a place where she would be in a room with another woman. I insisted that she needed a private room but I had little co-operation in finding such a place. Eventually I prevailed.

Within 24 hours of moving her to the new nursing home, a calm, well managed facility where she could have her own room, Mother was back. She told of frightening hallucinations that still felt real.

While it's true that the morphine patch she had to control the pain may have contributed to the delirium, she continued to wear the patch in the new nursing home with no such symptoms. The delirium only returned during one brief hospital visit later and on this occasion she received only her usual meds.

This is meant to be a cautionary tale, many of us have elderly parents or are seniors ourselves. Be wary of new meds and chaotic situations. Don't let professionals tell you a loved one is suffering from dementia when a week ago they were fine, look for environmental factors.
Mother lived contentedly for 14 months at Manor Care. She usually left her door open so she could observe what was going on. When she wanted more quiet she asked someone to close it. There was little turnover in the staff and they knew and cared about the patients. The night my mother died they called me at 2 am so that I could be with her. It was five days from her 90th birthday.

We were fortunate, my parents had lived frugally all their lives and my mother could afford the best, most people can't. Everyone is different, but every elderly person needs an advocate, someone who knows them well and will not give in to professionals who do not know the patient well.

There is a lot of talk about how society will afford to care for the growing population of elderly. What I worry about even more is will there be enough caring, compitent caregivers to do the job even if the money can be found.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blossoms in the Water

Lewis' monkey flower
Dropping blossoms in water
They float down the stream

This is my last post for a while. We've been too long away from the cabin and it is time to go back. October will soon be here and then we will have to close it up until spring. I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

For more watery sites and sights, click here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blogger World

Photo bloggers can be rather one tracked when it comes to finding pictures for their blogs. Some may say we are in a world of our own.

Kathy (Katney's Kaboodle), Paulie (Postcards From the Northwest) and I went down to the river one evening while camping at Mt. Rainier to see what pictures we could find for our blogs.
There was yellow monkey flower.
A photographer passing time waiting for sunset color by seeing how high he could stack some rocks.
Then came the pink clouds of sunset.
And a couple of patient husbands, mine and Kathy's, staring at the sky, waiting as usual, for us to finish.

To see the worlds of other bloggers, click here.