Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bur oak impressionist and humorist?

Recently I found myself gazing in amazement at a piece of oak.  It got me thinking of how much the swirls just under the oak's bark reminded me of an Edvard Munch, or perhaps a Vincent Van Gogh  painting.  I'm thinking these painters may have been "Bur Oak" impressionists.  (laugh here)

Did you know...  "The word Baroque was initially used to imply strangeness, abnormality and extravagance, applying more to art than music." (Thinkquest)

I guess because Munch and Van Gough were so much on the cutting edge of Bur Oak impressionism they weren't able to sell their works of art at the much higher prices for which they should have been valued. Thus, like so many artist, that's why they were always brrrrroke. (no need to laugh here)

Don't people who try to make punny jokes make you want to scream?

I'm on my way to becoming a Baroque humorist.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Osprey photo series

Cruising around pond
Soaring overhead

Splash down

Captured goldfish

Taking off with catch

When being targeted as prey, in a pond mostly full of gray carp, seems like it would be a significant disadvantage being gold  Too much bling!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Subtle and sublime start to the day

Isn't it great the way the sun gradually rises to start the day? It doesn't hammer us over the head, suddenly glaring at us in full force. Rather it slowly creaps up over the horizon, giving us ample time to acclimate to the start of day. I'm growing more appreciative of this rhythm of life. Nature's slow, steady beat is in dramatic contrast to our new electronic pace of life, which is 24/7, go, go, go.

This morning when I took my camera down to the pond I was surprised to find a Great Blue Heron practically right beside me on the shore.

I had to be still with the camera, which was difficult while giving about half a pint of blood to the mosquitoes during the process.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Expediency versus quality

In my morning walk around the park I chatted with a friend about the abbreviated format of communication that has now become common via texting and social media. While these new formats are certainly expedient, they often lack the depth of thought characterized by handwritten letters or even the abilility to hear the nuance of feelings and thoughts via interactive phone calls.

Later in the morning, while washing windows, I discovered my expedient method of rinsing the screens with a strong flow of water provided a much inferior end result to cleaning them with a brush and then rinsing. That extra step of brushing removed much of the grime a quick rinse failed to clean.

I'm championing us all to consider taking time to do a quality job and allocate the additional time needed for good communication. The most expedient methods are not aways the best. In this world that only seems to be going faster, we can choose to slow down.

Okay, this has been a nice break from the window washing....now it's back at it, but not before a quick riddle that I fabricated while kayaking about someone trying to do things fast.

Q: You know what they call a person attempting to quickly run away from a hungry bear?

A: Fast food.

Misty morning with full moon

Great Egret and Great Blue Heron

Willows with moon

Flowers by pond with moon's reflection

Mornng dog walker

A couple of elements came together on an early morning this week. A cool morning created a fog over the warm pond. Additionally, a full moon provided an interesting photographic dynamic. The picture of a flower alongside of the pond shows the moon's reflection. The photo of a willow branch has a direct view of the moon.

I was also pleased to catch both the Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret in similar locations and positions.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pictures from the Apostle Islands

Bald Eagle look out over Lake Superior

Evidence of beaver at work on Stockton Island

Driftwood on Stockton Island

Traces of woodpecker activity on birch log

Flowers on the shore

Black Bear on Oak Island

Monday, August 23, 2010

Apostle Islands trip c/o Wilderness Inquiry

Just back from an inspiring five day sea kayaking trip around Lake Superior's Apostle Islands.

Group observations

1. Wilderness Inquiry . What a great thing it is that Wilderness Inquiry facilitates quality outdoor camping trips for people of varying ages and abilities. Our group of 15 bonded better together in five short days than many other groups I've camped with during much longer trips. We had a range of folks, including university students, a university professor and retirees. The most common camper expectation was to "have fun", which was accomplished by all ;-)

2. Good attitudes make for great trips. One of our group members had MS and needed considerable assistance throughout the trip. Yet he inspired us all with this steady comments of "COOOOL" or "WOW", and was always appreciative of help received. We were all appreciative of his great attitude.

3. Team work. Considerable work was involved with packing up the gear, loading it into the kayaks and paddling across the lake. All pitched in as needed. I don't recall hearing one complaint, other than about the quality of jokes, for which I can rightfully take much of the criticism.

Natural observations

1. Nature's diversity There must have been at least a couple of dozen types of mushrooms on the hike we took through the woods on Stockton Island. Simply amazing the different sizes, shapes and colors.

2. The amazing Monarch butterfly. This seeminly frail butterly is amazingly fast. While putting some muscle into our kayaking across a stretch of Lake Superior I witnessed a Monarch butterfly leave us in its wispy air current as it fluttered by. These butterflys can cover up to 80 miles a day.

3. Tenacity and audacity of trees. We observed trees that were rooted on Lake Superior's slopes of sandstone that seemed to have little if any depth of soil for nutrition and stabilization. Yet they were hanging in there. What role models they are for us all when we think we've got it rough... thriving despite adversity!

Additional observations

1. Cowboy coffee is a hoot. To makc this coffee on the trail one simply adds a heap of coffee grounds to some boiling hot water in a pot and gives it a quick series of windmill like rotations to separate the grounds from the coffee. Bonus points for yelling "Yeee Haw" during the process.

2. Sleeping pads. Pads should get thicker as the camper gets older.

3. Expanding comfort zones. I went on this trip never having been in a sea kayak and not knowing any of the participants. Yet within a few short days I felt close to all of the group members and started to get the hang of sea kayaking. Great risk, great reward!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who's a friend?

I was visiting with a neighbor while walking around the park this morning and watching a gathering of Great Egrets. He commented on how there is an upper limit of 5,000 "friends" on Facebook. We were both a bit skeptical about how many true friends people might have versus this new phenomenon of "friending" people via social networking. Seems this new definition of friends is a mile wide and an inch deep.

We were both of the opinion that friendships develop over time and take a lot of face to face interaction. A dictionary defines friend as "a person you know well and regard with affection and trust". Seems hard to imagine that we can really get to know and trust people all that well simply via social networking.

Over the past 20 plus years in the field of mentoring I observed how diluted the term "mentoring" has become. With the advent of e-Mentoring and various group mentoring opportunities watered down versions of traditional mentoring developed . I don't believe that the same quality results tat mentoring provides can be achieved though programs that lower the bar in an effort to make it quick and easy. One of life's basic principles is that we shouldn't expect significant gains without significant long-term effort. While there might be a role for quick and easy relationships, they can't supplant the need for quality long-term friendships.

Now with a click of a mouse we can become "friends" with someone. These new "friends" are not of the same quality as the one-to-one long term friendships that all of us need. If however you think that 5,000 Facebook friends is too few you can join the petition that is floating around to increase the maximum number.

While electronic communication provides a quick and efficient means of communication with many, I don't believe it will ever come close to replicating the value of a good friend.

Think the group of Great Egrets that gathered this morning, pictured above, are friends?