bird shot

drab day and woodpecker silhouette about all I couild shoot

I have made the decision to stay away from even possible sources of CoVid transmission on the advice of my good doctor.

He is right. Lifelong respiratory vulnerability is an open invitation for an infection. And being superannuated reduces the strength of the immune fresponse: a second reason to keep away. So I do it.

It is the right thing to do. If I get it, ipso facto I will have exposed others. Maybe even people I know and care for, although most of them are also my age or somewhat younger and staying put at home. But the nobility of it all has faded into….silence filled with the noise of troublesome thoughts and frustrations.

When we lived on the ridge on the side of the mountain in South Asheville, I could deal with cabin fever just by going outside. And if that didn’t work, I could watch Bruno and Zora and then after they died, Kaiser and Titan play.

(First row, third picture: me with Bruno and Zora at the Biltmore Estate. I would exercise them off lead==they were very obedient–and in the cooler weather, I wore a blue baseball cap with a German Shepherd insignia on it, a blue jacket with a Michigan patch on the front, khaki pants, and leather boots. People would gather to see the dogs do their routines and then ask us for directions. They though I was Security…. Second row, first two pictures TItan chasing or hovering, Kaiser leading Titan in chase or lolllygagging on the ground for more play–Titan really never got the lolllygagging.)

People places and things to visit and see — lots in the course of my life’s wandering journey. Lots of gratitude.

Bottom line, however, has been lifelong: antsy, bored, restless? Get out the camera and see what you can shoot and do better than the last time. that has led to Photos libraries of so many digital shots I’m embarrassed to name the number. The point is: taking pictures is, has been and always will be me.

The trouble is, off the mountain, in .8 acres rather than 6, in really unimaginative house a bit less than half the size of the mountain house, (it was all we couid get) is very practical for us and Roxy and Lutz, but quite sleep-inducing .

Rosy and Lutz: are partners but not much for playing together. Still each can havea big day and then they nap together.

Just less to see and do. Life on its terms: accept it and adapt.

OK. Maybe I can get some shots of that woodpecker who hammers away out in the trees around us.

I’ve been trying since April of 2017 — he or she makes a large racket but no image! It got to the place where I was sure, absolutely certain, that he knew I was down there with a camera and bigtime zoom lens. And just to spite me, he would always peck his tree caves on the other side of the tree from me.

Until two weeks ago, that is. It seems his arrogant self confidence got the better of him and he came out, onto the top of a couple trees on the neighbor’s lot, maybe 100 yards from me as the crow flies. And he came out into silhouette, perched on the top of one of those trees and even somewhat with his back to me. As if he were saying, come on, here I am, just see if you can get a good shot of me. I am, after all, very much worth it.

The shot at the top of the page is the result, the sad result. It was (yet another) foggy, soggy, misty greysky day. So my results, even with a good deal of photoshopping in Photos, did not get any better than this:

this was my first clue that I had here the very elusive, large and interesting pileated woodpecker, a male one. Note the red cap — clue #1 one, and the somewhat rectangular holes–clue #2: only the pileated ones make holes that shape. And this one is slim, not plump: a male.

I was happy I got that shot and that it could be improved so much — that one came from an almost black and white silhouette. I had a bit of my passion back, but it is addictive: I wanted something better, more interesting, more colorful, more revealing of this boy’s character.

In the meantime, I began to realize that if I want interesting bird shots from .8 acres and little flexibililty about shooting position, I’d have to find ways to make them come to me. And I have some ideas.

Two weeks later I was taking it easy (from what?) in the am with mly absolutely necessary cup of Aldi Coffee Store, when N out on the front porch called out, “he’s back”. I dashed out in bath robe and iPhone… and jhere he was. It was a clear, dry, blue sky and The Boy was showing off from the top of that same tree. His royal Aves Highness had bestowed his presence upon us once more!

It was a big risk, but I dashed back into the house to get the Canon with the Zoom Lens. To my utter surprise, he was still there, surveying his kingdom from his highwire throne:

Still just at the edge of my lens’ focus ability and a bit less sharp than I’d hoped, but I’ll take it.

When your photo quarry won’t move and it just a ibit too far away and you have very little position flex, then there are only so many pictures I at least can conjure up. So I wound up just watching, feeling a bit dissatisfied that I could not get any other more interesting shots,

And then he took off, hell bent for leather iln the air, headed to his next pecking place.

My lens is a sports lens basically. It is made for action shots and the Canon has a program for that. And I was using it for shots because it is not as persnickety about light as some other settings. So I aimed the camera by dead reckoning, line of sight guesstimate at where I thought he might be as he rocketed out of sight. But I expected not to have caught him at all, the odds were against me.

Oh well.

Later in the morning I was down here on the iMac, downloading the pix from the am into Photos. Boo. Nothing but blue sky and green leaves with lots of shadow.

But wait a minute. In those two shots there, the two before him against the blue sky came out with him as a blur in the heavens–what is that dark shadow? Lets try some adjustments in Photo…

Wow. How grateful for having lucked out and gotten those two shots. They made my day. He is beautiful. And beauty is so utterly consoling. Mr Canon: what a good job! the Gods were with us. Still just a tad indistinct but again, I’ll take it.

Now that’s the sort of bird shot I like. Maybe I have been looking to shoot the birds in all the wrong places. Mr Pileated Woodpecker is telling me that the richness of nature does not end just because my yard is smaller. Keep on doing your ‘tog stuff, Mr G!.

Not with a Whimper but a Boom? Neither?

As a boy growing up during WW2, I was taught that the US Army was intended to be used only against foreign enemies. Another loss toe grieve, another nail in Trumps self-images coffin.

Trump decries the outbreaks of violence as unacceptable to our way of life, itself. How would he know what our way of life is? He has always lived in his own delusions. Even more than that, however, if the street violence is not tolerable, why would governmental military violence be any less so? Of course that presumes that logic might enter The Donalds fried brain.

No question: why would the people who are being killed in droves by CoVid19, who are locked in teeming, fetid ghettoes, who cannot afford to have Obamacare rescinded, who are treated everyday in every way as pariahs in their own land — why would they not be setting fires to urban America? After a while, frustration and deprivation transform desperation into destruction. And that is what has happened here. And shooting at them will just make the fires burn hotter and swell the ranks of the rioters.

Of course this is just what DT has been looking for: some excuse to use force to suspend our quasi-democratic ways, to blame his enemies for his crimes and failures, and to put the power of terror into his little hands. Anyone who doubts that, has not been observing him well.

Did this just boil up by itself? Local people have said it was not the radical left who incited to riot in their communities, it was the radical right. Note that governors do NOT want this, refuse to accept using the National Guard, oppose the breach of 244 years of tradition in using the US Army against its own citizens.

Note also that DT named only one radical political group and it was not one of the right wing groups who have come in from the woods with their guns,; masks, and bombs. Must one not wonder, whether, Reichstag-fire-like or war-on-Poland-like, whether the right wing groups might not have been quietly invited to kick off events? Who knows? I sure do not.

But one has to wonder: is this a right wing catalyst event? Stranger things have been known to happen.

The question now drifts in the air, everywhere and in every way: Will it now end with a boom rather than a whimper?

The living in the USA question for me is: will the fuse burn fast and ignitre the growing pile of social, economic and political high explosives before the election or will the threat of that finally bring the democratic processes, the few remaining, to their final halt before we even vote?

The personal question is: how to extricate myself from the mania and be able to offer more than more fuel for Donalds Fires. Increasingly, I think the unthinkable and then as often as I can remember it, drop out of the maelstrom and work hard to find Eckart Tolles Presence. Experience shows me that it will be spiritual practices which resolve and heal all the damage that DT has done and will do. Not religious, spiritual. We need have neither the bang or the whimper, but we need to get at it.