Owls returning...


Owl encounters are not uncommon in these parts.  If the surrounds are suitable, the eats plentiful, chances are good for visitations.   Several species have habitat here and while most visits are welcome, the occasional traveller can be a bit alarming...

The first autumn in this house surrounded by woods, a juvenile barn owl must have decided to explore the chimney opening a bit too closely and fell right down the shaft.  Alone here at the time, I had no idea what was causing all the racket -- all I knew was that unnerving sounds of shuffling and scratching were coming from inside the chimney and something ALIVE was trapped.  The damper was closed so no chance of said creature escaping into the house, but how in the world was I going to get this poor trapped thing, out?

Good friend Sam, well versed in all things animal and raptor-like, responded in his utterly  chivalrous and true Sam style (as he has since done several times over the years) and arrived armed with everything one might need for a rescue.  The plan was to temporarily "blind" whatever it was with that bright shop light you see glowing within the fireplace.  Then s-l-o-w-l-y, push the damper up in the hope of releasing the misfortunate one...whatever IT was.  Much to our surprise and amazement, this youngster plopped out.  By all appearances unscathed, he was nevertheless very peeved.  Barn owls can throw quite the hissy fit, literally.  Here he is protesting at the top of his lungs.  Please pardon the blurry photos -- it was quite the moment!

My young visitor was soon released into the night, gliding away on little grateful wings, I'm sure.  A successful outcome and a good memory.

This lucky Great horned (see the garter snake he's gobbling?) was one of last years welcome visitors, having decided to devour its meal *outside* on the front gate arbor rather than, shall we say, showing up at the dinner table or somewhere else meant more for humans.  

The past few nights I've heard them...owls in the woods again, hooting it up .  Although it's the last day of August, my most favorite heralds of autumn have certainly returned.  I checked the damper -- it's closed.  :>]]

Painting by Valentine Cameron Prinsep,  first exhibited 1863
~ Il Barbagianni (The Owl) ~


Change my world...


Filled the house with music today...great, glorious Celtic music.  Spent awhile working on this,  

and danced in my socks across the wooden floors to some mighty fine fiddlers!

Drenched my soul and was mightily transported elsewhere...swept away by this voice...
and this one...

In anticipation of unusual mark making ~ with the help of Brother Trees ~ a lovely tribute to the ancient pines was found.

May your weekend be taking you wherever you need to go,


Meteors and stars...


August.  Summer nights with clear skies.  Every year around this time the Perseid meteor shower puts on its show...part of what defines summer for me.  Years ago this is what I might have seen...the view from Land's End, San Francisco.  With quite a lot of light pollution from big cities, not many stars were ever visible.  photo courtesy of ehoyer   

I don't live there anymore.  Here's what home looks like these nights...nights with a bizillion stars.

Not the moon you're seeing there, but the planet Venus.  There's no moon this year between midnight & dawn to interrupt the meteoric display.  Scientists say that 2010 is a good year for the Perseids.  From NASA:

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle.
Every 133 years the huge comet swings through the inner solar system and leaves
behind a trail of dust and gravel.  When Earth passes through the debris,
specks of comet-stuff hit the atmosphere at 140,000 mph and disintegrate
in flashes of light.
The meteors are called Perseids because they fly out of the constellation Perseus.

Swift-Tuttle's debris zone is so wide, Earth spends weeks inside it.
Indeed, we are in the outskirts now, and sky watchers are already reporting
a trickle of late-night Perseids.

Sky watchers.  That would be me.  And this one...who follows me everywhere including out to the garden at midnight.  Who is my shining star by any definition.

She has a new "hedgie."  No less than 5 squeekers hidden within.  Bigger than dawg's whole head.  Hysterical  :>]]

May you find stars wherever you look for them,


Man dreams of flight...


'Man Dreams of Flight...Owls Wonder if This is Wise'

Just giving a little shout-out to art photographer extraordinaire, Susan Tuttle, and her amazing, totally fun, online digital manipulation workshops. Starting this evening, she is running three summer workshops (simultaneously):  Digital Layers and Photomanipulation 1 and 2 with use of Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop/CS.  Click on this linkie to read all about them.  No need to have much background with these programs...a desire to learn will see you through.  Well, and a little propensity for diving off the high dive  :>]]

The absolute BEST part of Susan's workshops (I've done two so far) is that you can work entirely at your own pace.  The month long courses are divided into three "projects" per week so you can work on one, or all three...or none, if life takes over for a bit as it often does.  Or you can work like a maniac and create to your heart's desire!  It's not at all like having homework due on a certain day.  You are your own taskmaster.  If you're prone to "night owling" it like I am, much can be accomplished in the wee hours of morn.

I posted about Digital Layers here and Digital Photomanipulation here.  Also, Susan set up a Flickr pool for all the participants and this is where one can have a pretty amazing time watching what others are creating.

If you've ever had an inclination to explore this kind of world I'm not sure you could find a more generous (with her knowledge & helpfulness), creative, and all around sweet person to be your guide.  Guess you can tell I'm kind of a fan.  I know this post is short notice but don't dismay. More workshops are coming this fall...some *new*!

'Man Dreams of Flight...' is composed of four layers.  My Flickr linkie is here if you'd like to see the image sources.  What a world there is out in pixel land.  Please do let me know if you're venturing there...