Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bartz Brothers Snow Sculptures

Bartz Snow Sculptures of St. Paul, MN are amazing.
Photo from Bartz Brothers Facebook page
The Bartz Brothers have done it again. These guys have been sculpting sea creatures out of snow for the past 5 years, and they have really honed their skills. For the past two years they have been partnering with Onedayswages.org to raise money to provide clean water and sanitation for different villages around the world. Last year, they raised over $17,000. This year they are looking to raise $25,000.
Photo from Bartz Brothers Facebook page
This year, they created Finnegan the Fish. Absolutely amazing. Check out their Facebook page at Bartz Snow Sculptures and follow them through their snow art journey.

Hmmm... If I wasn't so completely exhausted from shoveling snow, I'd make a snowman, but even that is too much for me. I guess I'll have to live vicariously through the Bartz brothers!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ummm... This snow storm was a pretty good one!

SNOW TOTAL THUS FAR:  27.5" for this season.
The snow table was holding 9" of heavy, wet snow.
Well, the weather reports oscillated back and forth so much we didn't know what to expect. This is because we tend to be on a dividing line of coastal to inland weather conditions. 
In this case, we got all snow and only about 1/2 hour of freezing rain. Thus, we got a total of 11" from this storm. 
I shot this as the sunlight was just coming up over the horizon...
We didn't get the wind, but the snow was incredibly wet and heavy. Check out how much there is clinging to the branches, the bird feeder, the bench, etc.
We started clearing snow at 5am and this continued well into the afternoon. I must say that I am so exhausted that I didn't even go out to photograph the pond. The photos would have been magnificent... But, I had other, more important obligations today...
You can see where the branch broke off the tree and up-ended itself onto the power line.
We were without power from Thursday at 11:55 pm until 2:45 pm on Friday. And, we found that we were the last house on the street, with a branch hanging onto a power line, to get cleared. We got power within minutes of Asplundh cleaning up the line.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Snow update


At 6pm, we have 2" of wet, heavy snow. Check out the shadows of the huge clumps of snow falling from the sky!
Big "flakes" of snow falling fast. Aughhhh... they are ganging up on us!
How much snow will the ash tree branches capture without breaking off?
And, soon the freezing rain may begin. It is going to be a crazy night of uncertainty as to what we will get as far as rainfall.

A big snowstorm is on the way

THE STORM HIT US GOOD AND HARD. NO RAIN. ALL SNOW...
Turkey footprint probably made when there was slush on Tuesday.
This was on the trail over to the pond today.
We were supposed to get about 1" of snow but got hit hard instead! Yay!
Our dock stays over at the pond's edge and it rests on the picnic table all winter long.
Here are some snowy shots!
Branches reach out to grab sunlight (and snowflakes;-)
There are lots of mighty oaks, maples and pine trees along the pond's edge.
And, the pond sedges and grasses lean over due to the prevailing wind from the north.
Everybody leans toward the south as the cold north wind blows.
As you can see, there are indents into the ice as the grasses were blown down while the water froze.

Toasty, colorful wood stove flames

This is a Gif of several photos that Drew strung together. I need to take a video of the fire next time.
Ahhhh... the joys of a fire in the wood stove. In my opinion, there is nothing more mesmerizing than watching the flames as they move sinuously into a variety of shapes.
This ghost looks like it jumped right out of cartoons I saw as a child!
Some of the shapes are rather ghostly. Can you see the cartoonish ghost in these flames? I laughed aloud while scanning through the photos. 
I see ghostly eyes to the left of what looks like a ghostly duck! Ha!
Scene after scene showed other-worldly figures in conversation, then being transmorgified into ghastly, ghostly shapes at other moments.
A ghoulishly great horned owl! Ha! And, no, I didn't photoshop any shapes in; these occurred naturally.
This has to be one of my favorites, and I dedicate it to my owl-loving friend, Shannon. Hey, Shan, do you see the owl! Wicked cool... Flame photography rocks! I just snapped a hundred or so photos and I couldn't have been happier with the results.
Drew says I have a very active imagination. That's good, right? Ha!
I see a serpent in this photo. Do you??? Ooohh... and to the left of the serpent there is a barn owl swooping in!
What made these colorful results? Well...Drew let the fire get up to about 550F and then threw in a creosote buster block. As the block burns, it is supposed to break up the creosote that builds up in the chimney. The active chemicals in this block are copper sulfate (green flame color), ammonium chloride (maybe faint green flame color), magnesium acetate (maybe white flame color), and trisodium phosphate (maybe pale bluish green flame color.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Snow and rain on the way

And, here is the "lovely" forecast for tomorrow. Why is there always rain?
 WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING... * HAZARD TYPES... HEAVY SNOW CHANGING TO RAIN. * ACCUMULATIONS... SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 2 TO 4 INCHES. HIGHER AMOUNTS NEAR 6 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE SEVERAL MILES INLAND AWAY FROM THE SHORELINE. * TIMING... SNOW WILL BEGIN TO FALL BETWEEN LATE MORNING AND MID AFTERNOON THURSDAY. THE PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED TO BE HEAVY AT TIMES THURSDAY NIGHT. AN ISOLATED THUNDERSTORM IS ALSO POSSIBLE. THE PRECIPITATION WILL END FROM SOUTH TO NORTH LATE THURSDAY NIGHT INTO FRIDAY MORNING. * IMPACTS... * WINDS... SOUTHEAST 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH. * TEMPERATURES... IN THE LOWER 30S. * VISIBILITIES... ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A warm and gorgeous day

Can you believe the 50F temp.! Neither can we. Absolutely loverly;-)
Wow, it is warm and partly sunny outside, today. We took a nice walk with the dogs and soaked up as many sunny rays as possible. I couldn't get enough fresh air into my lungs. I am feeling incredibly refreshed and somewhat renewed after all the inside work I have been doing.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Snowy Day

Snow Total thus far: 16.5" snow.

We got about 1.5 inches of snow today. It was wet and heavy due to the outdoor temp. being around 30F.

I trampled a trail from the street toward the pond.
View looking back at Neighbor Carla's house.
This was the first day of my Christmas vacation, and I took the entire day off. I walked over to the pond to check out the ice. We have yet to measure it, but as I chatted with neighbors Rhoda and Jeanetta , they told me that Dale had measured the ice, last week, at a bit over 4" thick.
Untrampled path to the pond
The ice is as slick as can be under the thin coating of snow. I know this firsthand as I almost fell down as I ventured about 10 feet out from shore. NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT VENTURE OUT ONTO THE ICE WITHOUT YAK TRAX;-)
Rhoda was sitting on the ice to cool off from a hard skating workout.
In this photo you can barely see Jeanetta and Rhoda in the distance. They are great ice skaters.
This shot shows the northwestern view of the pond. One of the two active beaver lodges is barely visible due to my using the wide-angle lens, but in reality it is like a huge, white mounded beacon.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Hidden Life of Trees

Thanks, Shannon!
I received a new book for my 60th birthday titled, "The Hidden Life of Trees", by Peter Wohlleben. And, I must say, I am enjoying it immensely. It is written by a forester who describes the intricate processes that are involved between trees and their surroundings, as well as the relationships between trees, and the inner workings of trees. One of his goals is to introduce people to forests and to encourage them to investigate the natural world in their own backyards. Besides the pure enjoyment of learning, I am looking forward to gathering new ideas for photography, for MND, as I delve into this book. Boy, do my friends know me well;-)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snowy Saturday

Snow Total thus far: 15" of snow.
We had a lovely snowy day with exactly 4" of fluffy, white snow falling onto our little acre of Maine! Our dogs had their buddies over for a play date, and they romped themselves silly around the backyard;-)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Weather update

Well, we sure are in a rough transition from autumn to winter (which will begin Wednesday, Dec. 21st.) We range from super cold, to warm and rainy on a daily basis. It is difficult to adjust to this variability. And, it looks like we will not have a white Christmas. Ugh...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snow Total

Snow Total: 11" of snow thus far this season.
Snow: We got 6.5 inches of snow from this storm.

SNOW DAY # 1


Well, it seems as just about every school in the lower half of Maine is closed today! Wahoooo!
4" of snow at 6:20 am
These photos are from 6:20 am, with a few more hours of snowfall to come.
All too soon, we may get the dreaded rain...then icing of surfaces tonight followed by icy road conditions as we drive to school tomorrow.  These in-between storms are the worst and we had way too many of them last year. We want just plain snow, than you very much!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ice-In

Houston...we have ice-in! Caesar Pond is nearing readiness for ice skating! We haven't drilled into the ice yet, to check depth, but will do so in a few days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Snow

Snow Total: 4.5" thus far.
Snow: We got about 0.5" of snow today. But, with the daytime high rising to about 35F, the snow all but melted.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Snow

We got 2.5 inches of snow today.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Darkness and Sunset Hours

Wow, it sure does get dark early this time of year. Currently, sunset in our neck of the woods is at 4:02 pm, and by next Friday and Saturday, the sun will set at 4:01 pm. Then, it will begin to set later by tiny increments. Unfortunately, so does sunrise. Ugga Bugga...It is so much easier to navigate the snowy roads during the light of day, but unfortunately, I rarely see daylight except for when I peek out of my classroom window for a few seconds per day. This is just about the only thing I dislike about winter...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First Film of Ice on Caesar Pond

Click on any photo for a more detailed view.
The first film of ice formed on Caesar Pond this morning. It didn't last long as we got rain on and off, but it was there, nonetheless. Drew photographed it as soon as he got home from running errands.
I know that you can barely see the ice, and the pond is not completely covered with it, but this photo shows a bit more detail.
And, here is a view of the southern shoreline from the dock (which, by the way, we need to pull up onto shore this weekend;-) You can actually see raindrops on the surface. I wish I had been home as I love photographing ice, close-up... Soon, I'll have some opportunities over the coming weekends.

Monday, November 21, 2016

First Snow of the season!

Click on the photo for a larger view.
Yahoo! We got snow (about 1.5 inches)! It wasn't much snow, but it sure did make the landscape real purty.... 
Click on the photo for a larger view.
Drew snapped these photos at around 9am. Caesar Pond is always gorgeous, no matter what the season or the weather;-)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Gardening and Weather Update

This weekend was my last weekend to finish planting bulbs, and plant I did. I also dug up as many gladiolus bulbs as possible and put them on trays to store in the basement. I just finished the job in the rain. Yup...rain! Yesterday, our high temp. was 57F, and today we'll reach 48F. Yowzer, it is warm outside;-) In fact, our weather will continue in this vein, through Dec. 4th, with daytime temps in the low to mid 40s each day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Environmental note of encouragement

Post-election blues... Upon coming home this evening, after a rather somber day at work, I read my e-mails and found this uplifting note from Lisa Pohlmann, exective director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. I'd like to share it here as I will need to read it periodically to stay positive.
Today we awoke to the results of a bitter and divisive election, wondering what it all means. 
The outcome has many of us deeply concerned about whether the harsh rhetoric of the campaign will translate into policies that put our communities and places we love at risk.
At a time when we need to be coming together to solve problems facing our state, nation, and the planet, the campaign caused increased polarization, and tapped into fears and hatred like nothing that we have seen before.
Rather than despair, we must focus on those things within our reach that we can actually influence. We need to keep our eyes and hearts on what we love and are determined to protect.  We know how to stand up for the people, places, and values that matter to us.  And we will. 
I want you to know that the Natural Resources Council of Maine is more determined than ever to protect the places that we all love.  We will work with citizens and elected officials at every level—from the White House to the Maine Legislature to town councils—to protect a healthy environment that provides the foundation for our communities and our economy. 
There will be new environmental champions at the State House, too, like former NRCM Executive Director Brownie Carson – a new State Senator – and several other lawmakers who are longstanding NRCM members. They will join many other lawmakers who care deeply and will work hard to protect Maine’s environment.
We know that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of voters here in Maine value clean air and clean water just as much today as they did yesterday, and they are not interested in rolling back crucial protections. 
In the past year, we have seen more Mainers take action than ever before to promote solar energy, fight against weak mining rules, stand up for the Land for Maine’s Future program, and support establishment of Maine’s new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. 
We are inspired by the impressive efforts of Maine people who are working for a better future.  They are actions of hope, and expressions of love for Maine. We will face the effects of these elections for months and years to come, and continue to draw strength and encouragement from the importance of our mission and the support of people like you
NRCM will never let down its guard in defending Maine’s environment.  Now more than ever, we look forward to working with you to continue to move our agenda forward.
All our best,
Lisa Pohlmann
NRCM Executive Director

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote Early and Boat Often

Wow, what a nail-biter of an afternoon and evening. First, we went to our voting place and saw some cute signs created by some elementary school students.
Click on the photo for a larger view.
Then, we hightailed it home and I quickly got out onto the pond for my last pond prowl of the season. As expected, there were very few leaves left on most of the deciduous trees, so many of which are maple trees lining the shore.
Click on the photo for a larger view.
Neighbor Carla came along for the ride, and we headed for the north cove in hopes of seeing more beaver activity, but the pond was extremely quiet. We did see quite a bit of golden color on the dying leaves of larch trees (unusual conifers that lose their leaves in autumn.)
Click on the photo for a larger view.
The sun was getting low in the sky and we were pleasantly surprised to still see a bit of color from beech trees and mighty oaks that still retained their leaves. As you can see, some trees are already producing their leaf buds for springtime. The pond is so pretty, even without the color of the maples.
Click on the photo for a larger view.
And, I leave you with a beautiful photo of the area around our dock. We have a huge number of oak trees in this area. This is the last view I will have of the eastern shore of the pond, until ice-in when we can again walk on the pond this winter.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mainely Wild Things Calendar - For sale

My newest 2017 calendar is now on sale. It is called Mainely Wild Things, and features some of my favorite animal photos. Also, visit our newly updated Maine Nature Bookstore for our other seven calendars for 2017. There, you can preview each calendar page. 

All calendars are $16.00 each. And, yes...all photos were taken by Drew and I. A portion of the profit will be used for enrichment activities at Star Academy.

Our 8 Calendar titles are: Mainely Wild Things, A Bevy of Birds, Just Lilies, Maine Garden Flowers, Basin Brook Farm Foxes, Mainely Butterflies and Moths, Fanciful Flowers, Maine Scenery. If you live locally, send me an e-mail of the titles you would like to order and I'll add them to my bulk order.

Pictured below are small snapshots of portions of the different calendar pages for the newest calendar, Mainely Wild Things.
Calendar Cover.

January through April.

May through August.

September through December.
Now, check out the rest of the calendars at our Maine Nature Bookstore. Click on "More Detail", then "Preview", to see the pages of each calendar you are interested in.

Friday, October 28, 2016

First wood stove fire of the season

'Twas a cold and rainy day. We received 1.35" of rain...no sun...cold house...wood stove fire needed. Nice.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rain update

Wowee! We got a whopping 4.9" of rain overnight and through this day.  We were only predicted to get 0.25 inches, so we got very lucky!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rain in Maine

We have had so little rain this summer and autumn, that we are in a serious drought. But, this afternoon through tomorrow evening, we are getting rain, wonderful rain. Right now, it is downpouring. At 10:40 pm, we have received just over an inch of rain, and it is so nice and warm outside, at 63F. After this lovely rain ends, we are to get high winds. So, this seems to spell the end of the colorful part of autumn. There should be a gazillion leaves plastered to the ground after this storm is over.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Leaf Peeping Update


This has been an amazing autumn for leaf color change, and the outdoor scenery is still brilliantly colored as far as we can see. The entire state is past peak as far as the foliage is concerned, but the colors are still hanging on.

The Maine Fall Foliage Report states that,
 "Without a doubt, 2016 will go down in the record books as being one of the most colorful fall foliage seasons as seen in the past seven years. It was apparent that the entire state reached peak or near-peak conditions in early to mid-October and the colors were spectacular and long lasting, according to Gale Ross, fall foliage spokesperson.?"
And we totally agree. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Autumn on Caesar Pond (and beaver activity)

During my pond prowl, I saw more beaver activity than I have ever seen in the 16 years we have lived here. There was a tremendous amount of tail slapping (unfortunately I never did catch any of it on video.) I thought that the beavers might do this to defend their territory from each other, but I haven't found any evidence of it other than to warn each other of an intruder. I was causing quite a stir on the pond (being the only "intruder" out there) because, of the four beavers that I saw, three of them tail slapped quite often. Fun!

There are three active beaver lodges, and I'll bet that the inhabitants are probably all descended from each other. I have no idea how many beavers there actually are, but this is also a record number of lodges. I would imagine that there will be traps laid this winter to lessen the population. If there are too many beavers, they will start moving further inland in search of food, and may start taking down trees in our yards.

A late autumn afternoon on Caesar Pond

I just had to get out on the boat this afternoon. The temperature was in the low 70's, the air was dry, and there was a slight breeze. All in all, it was absolutely lovely out on the water. I used my 70mm-200mm lens on this trip, and began my photo session as close to shore as I could be to still get a view down the entire eastern shoreline. More of the focus was on the trees closest to me.
Then, I let the wind push me further back toward the south shore, and out from the shore a bit. This gave me a slightly different perspective, of the trees, as the pine branches reach out over the pond more in this view. I like this added texture to the photo.
I motored toward the middle of the pond and shot straight at the eastern shore. The sun had lowered a bit and the light really brought out the vibrance of the colors. I chose this shot due to the contrast of the broken pine tree backed by vibrant maples.
This land used to be pasture before the pond was created. This is an old rock wall that cuts up to the road. This little section of the pond reminded me of Colorado in autumn, with the range of colors from yellow to brown.
I continued motoring to the north cove and was delighted by this view as the wind was calming down. Brilliantly colored reflections were starting to appear on the water's surface.
The center tree is one of my favorite maples on the shoreline surrounding the pond. The tree to the left of it has it's bark covered with lichens, and is like a bright, white beacon calling me over for a brief inspection.
I am happy to see that this tree, with it's duck box, has remained standing for so long. I have been photographing it seasonally, during autumn, for 15 years! The tree will eventually fall, but until then I will enjoy its stark beauty.