Small moments after the flood. (Slaughter Creek)

These were taken 2 days after the Halloween flood of 2013. Slaughter Creek runs behind my house. Due to the drought, the creek has been dry with patches of stagnant water since I have lived here. The sheer amount of rain and flow in the creek was unexpected, to say the least.

Silt deposit.
Silt deposit.

Since the creek runs along the perimeter of a city park, people occasionally bring their dogs (and even fishing poles!) down to the dammed area.

Pensive man with his dogs.
Pensive man with his dogs.
Miniature "side creek" draining water into Slaughter Creek.
Miniature “side creek” draining water into Slaughter Creek.
Clam shell.
Some kind of bivalve.

Scenes from the Amish Auction

Inside and outside the auction
Inside and outside the auction. Yes, he is using a cell phone.

These are some scenes from the auction I attended today in St. Charles, Minnesota. I don’t like to be intrusive with my picture-taking. I feel like I am being rude to bother people with it.

We met some really friendly Amish people. The lady who sold me a doughnut gave me a tip to handle squash bugs: spray sugar water. Hmm. I might try that next year. I told her I usually wrap my plants in tin foil to confuse the bugs, but I was too late this year.

Inside the auction
Inside the auction. Note the glass around the top which lets enough light in to avoid the need for artificial light during daylight hours. Ingeniously green–something all barns/halls should have this feature to reduce energy usage.
Buggy
Buggy with antsy horse.
Horses
Horses impatiently waiting for their owners.
Propane lights
Propane lights. The Amish don’t use electricity. So, you’d think it would be all candles and darkness. This group has decided that propane does not break their rules.
Pony and buggy
Pony and buggy. Different groups of Amish argue about the appropriateness of  buggy coverings.
Rolling hills
Rolling hills outside the auction house.

The Amish are not a monolithic group. Each sets its own standards within agreed-upon individual community standards. From my perspective, I feel that other Americans could learn a thing or two about good manners from the Amish. They don’t put on airs. If they are judgmental about my relatively revealing clothing, they certainly don’t get in my face about it.

On the other hand, I do find some of the more conformist aspects of their culture to be problematic. While it can be a good practice to recognize one’s place in the world, too much submissiveness can result in an individual tolerating abuse and exploitation. That’s the dirty side of the shiny coin.

Itty Bitty Austin

I’ve been playing with my tilt shift blur filter in Photoshop again. Honestly, with as much interest I have in making things *appear smaller than they are* I should just get a tilt shift lens. Like that’ll ever happen! I get all skeeved out when I look at buying a better camera. I just can’t be trusted with nice equipment.

(These are pictures from the 4th of July.)

Late Afternoon
Late Afternoon
Dusk
Dusk
Night
Night

 

The Carnivorous Pitcher Plants of the Big Thicket Preserve

Beaker, Beaker; Peeker, peeker.
Beaker, Beaker; Peeker, peeker.

I spent Mothers’ Day weekend in Newton, Texas. That was my present! I’d been planning the trip for months, ever since I saw that the Big Thicket National Preserve has carnivorous plants. If you have ever spent any time in east Texas, you’d be overjoyed at the notion of plants that kill insect pests. When I saw a swamp full of bug-eating plants, I wondered why the heck those plants weren’t encouraged to expand their territory. Kill!!!

Field of feeders.
Field of feeders.

You have to understand, the Big Thicket is quiet…except for the eery buzzing of what must be mega-millions of biting insects. Or stinging ones. The bog of pitcher plants was pleasantly quiet, silent screams of the dying bugs aside.

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Juarez, Mexico

The first picture is of the iconic “La Biblia es la verdad LEELA” painted on the side of a mountain in Juarez. I started snapping more pictures when I suddenly noticed a great big X across the border. I did a little searching online to see what the sculpture is called.

It’s called La X.  The piece is not quite finished. It seems that there have been delays in construction due to lack of interest in the project by local leaders. It looks like they are working on it now, though.

 

 

 

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South Austin History: Maria de la Luz Cemetery

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About a block down the road from the Masonic cemetery in south Austin, you’ll find the Mexican cemetery. The growth of Austin has the place surrounded. I’m not sure if there are many spaces left for burial. It seems fairly full upon close examination. There are “empty” areas, but the ground rolls from the compression of soil upon the caskets.

I find both cemeteries aesthetically pleasing but for different reasons. The Masonic cemetery is your traditional, slightly intimidating, sedate resting place. The Mexican cemetery, on the other hand, applies color and individuality in a manner which would be unexpected in the traditional Western burial ground.

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The four nerve daisies were all in bloom today.

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My weeeeee pics in Corpus

I wanted some decent night pictures of Corpus Christi, Texas. Now, my idea of decent and yours may differ. In my mind, it’s all dark except the light from the  bridge. Or at least, that’s how I want to see things. I’m aware enough to recognize that there is a difference between my idealized reality and what’s really there. I’m just glad I have learned enough to get some of the pictures I wanted.

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Closed Canyon: Hike at Big Bend Ranch State Park

Mouth of the canyon.
Mouth of the canyon.

I recommend this hike to anyone either staying near the park or passing through on FM 170. It’s a relatively easy 1.5 mile round trip hike into a 200 foot gorge. The trailhead is right off FM 170 and well-marked with little cairns until the canyon appears.

The air is cool and still in the quiet depths of the canyon. It’s quite the change from the windy mountains outside.

I hiked the canyon until I reached an impassable drop off. According to one book I read, the drop off is twenty feet at two stages. You’ll know when you’ve hit it. Without equipment, there is not a method to safely descend.

Also, before that drop, there is a ten foot high pour-off. Don’t feel compelled to make that descent if it looks too difficult. The rocks are really slippery smooth at that point, and the views don’t change much the further in you get.

I wouldn’t go near the canyon during a storm. I can only imagine how the water gets whipping around the narrow canyon. Dangerous!

Some of the vegetation you'll see.
Some of the vegetation you’ll see.
This cave is way up high on the western wall of the canyon.
This cave is way up high on the western wall of the canyon.
Some parts are quite narrow!
Some parts are quite narrow!

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Tiny things in Big Bend Ranch State Park

Big Bend Ranch State Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert. With all the giant rocks, mountains, and expanses before you, it’s easy to pass by the tiny things.

Tiny star.

Tiny star-shaped pod.
Ants. They are tiny, even when they are kinda big for the ant family.
Ants. They are tiny, even when they are kinda big for the ant family.
Bitty grasses in a tiny puddle.
Bitty grasses in a tiny puddle.
Tiny tunas on a Christmas Cactus. These look like they might be normal-size prickly pear tunas. But, they were smaller than a dime. MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY IN ACTION!
Tiny tunas. These look like they might be normal-size prickly pear tunas. But, they were smaller than a dime. MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY IN ACTION!
Thin stripes of lichen.
Thin stripes of lichen. Just learned that lichens grow at a rate of 1/2 inch per year. These lichens are ancient, then, considering how slowly growth occurs in the Chihuahuan Desert.