Friday, October 31, 2008

October 2008




Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
Digital mouse drawing on digital photo
Using Adobe Photoshop 5.5


D'oh! I'm such a bonehead.

Friday, October 24, 2008


My weird, injured finger

About 2 months ago, I saw that my truck door was about to hit the next car to me. I grabbed my side mirror to hold the door just in time for it to get mashed between my mirror and theirs. It hurt like the dickens.

I often use my finger in my photos to point out the size of things. Bev once called it "Debi's famous finger" which I thought was darn funny. I haven't used it lately to point anything out, if you've noticed, because it looked gross. But now look at it. What does it look like to you? Here's a hint: something you associate with Texans.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Portrait of Tomas

Resident of West Odessa, Texas

I'm getting to be an hold hand at asking strangers if I can take their picture. I'm even branching out in other languages. Maybe it wasn't correct Spanish, but I was understood when I asked to take Tomas' photo. He smiled when I showed him his picture on the camera. I told him, "Tu eres guapo," which I hoped to mean, You are handsome.

Warning: I want to say something sort of political here. I don't understand why in the United States we don't at least have deposits on aluminum and/or glass. They are a terrible eyesore here in Texas and they don't have to be. Remember back in the old days when a found Coca Cola bottle meant a trip to the store to buy bubble gum? And, even more importantly, remember how rare it was to find one?

All I can say is thank heaven for retired people like Tomas who pick up aluminum cans for pocket money. Otherwise we'd see a lot more trash here than we already do.

How about this for a great idea, one I experienced in Malmö, Sweden. Upon entering a grocery store (market) there is a foyer that has this huge wall. On the wall are all sizes of holes marked with various recyclable item names. In the appropriate hole you deposit your glass, aluminum, and different grades of plastic right there. When you are done the machine gives you a receipt for whatever amount your recyclables came to by weight, redeemable as payment for your purchases in the grocery store! Very clever.

And while I'm at it, here's another keen idea from those smart Swedes. For things like old TVs, sofas, computers, and so on there is a place you can go that has appropriately-marked metal buildings. In those metal buildings are shelves to put your stuff on. The good thing is it is all separated, ready for pickup, and if you see something in one you need, you can take it. That, after all, is the best kind of recycling: reusing.

What about where you live? Any great ideas that your community has implemented to encourage the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?


If you want to be shocked and inspired, view the video "The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard." I promise it's quite entertaining and that you'll never look at your latest I-must-have-it the same way again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Study of Stucco

Stucco and weeds
West Odessa, Texas

This is a little corner in my neighborhood that always catches my eye.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ninety Six Pictures

"My Favorite?"
Walther Field
Odessa, Texas

Ninety-six. That's how many pictures I took of this one plant. In digital photography there is no penalty for taking as many pictures as you'd like. Your only limit is time, and well, continued interest.

I frequently take great interest in one thing, in this case one tuft of flowers so small that the yellow heads are about the size of your pinkie fingernail.

I think I'm going after its perfect portrait, representing how I saw it that day. And perhaps that day only. Time stands still for me when I'm in that particular groove.

Photo Hint: I only clicked the shutter 32 times. I've set my camera to "auto bracket" where it takes three quick shots at different exposure settings. I select a slight bracket (1/3). Doing this helps with focus, especially during macro shooting when the smallest movement -- yours or the subject's -- can cause a blur.

Here's a sampling of those ninety-six shots.




Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two Things Challenge for 2008-10-19 (late)

"Cleo in the Window"
At home in West Odessa, Texas

A belated entry for the Two Thing Challenge for this week's "black / white." The above picture, in spite of how it may seem, was not taken in black and white.

This picture, though, is a color picture of black-and-white Cleo, eyes closed, still experiencing an a open-window morning reverie, as only a cat can do.

Join in the fun for the weekly Two Thing Challenge. Next week is "big / little. " You may interpret with a photo, a poem, a drawing, a collage, or any creative way you wish. Publish to your blog by next Sunday.

Fall keeps creeping in

"Walther" Field
Odessa, Texas

It's hard for me to believe this is the same field that just a few weeks ago we had our "living thing" contest. Almost all those blooming flowers — and we counted at least 25 species — have now gone to seed. Ah, the cycle of life.

Below, though, are a few critters who don't seem to mind; either bloom or seed is just fine.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

October's Gifts

Wild grass (species unidentified)
West Odessa, Texas

Isn't October wonderful? The light, with the sun edging further south, plays perfectly into the vanity of Texas grasses, who want nothing more than to show off their beautiful hair. I confess, I'm an ardent admirer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

Bloggers around the world will be discussing poverty today in the second annual Blog Action Day. Once a year bloggers are invited to think and write about a single issue on one day.

I deleted my first post about poverty because what I ended up writing first was about my own anxiety. And sadly, anger even.

I will spare you the details, but I wonder how many of you might feel the same. How many of you out there feel put upon? After the $700 billion bailout that is now going to cost in the trillions? After a year of intense political mud-slinging and partisanship? After the lingering memory of our attrocious mishandling of Hurricane Katrina survivors? After being involved in two wars simulataneously (Iraq since March 21, 2003 and Afganistan since October 7, 2001)? And more. And now Poverty, too?

It seems like solutions to huge problems, like Poverty or Peace or Security, seem very very few and very very far between.

Still, I believe.

I believe ordinary people can make a difference. Maybe I even believe that only ordinary people can make a difference. So today, in spite of immense disappointment and personal worries that many of us ordinary people are experiencing, I'm joining others who still can look for solutions to problems outside themselves.

What do I currently do about poverty?

First and foremost, I try not to become impoverished myself. I work and have worked every day for 31 years. I don't mean to sound flip; I'm a true believer in taking care of yourself first, if you can, like the oxygen mask lecture on airplanes.

Second, I help my family and friends when they are in need. And -- God bless us and keep us -- it seems like we have all been in need at one time or another.

And third, beyond myself and my loved ones, what do I do? Not much, in truth. I pay taxes. I donate things to Goodwill on a regular basis. I give monthly to Amnesty International. I donate probably $100 a year to miscellaneous cash requests for charities that come my way.

That's paultry, especially when you consider that there are people in this world who go to sleep hungry. In spite of our wealth, there are even Americans that are hungry. And it's not even that vague or impersonal to me: there are Odessans that need a basic meal.

So today I'm selecting a local organization to call to see what I can do: The West Texas Food Bank. It doesn't get much more effective than this, from their site:

$1 donated becomes at least 5 meals for people with food insecurity.
$11 worth of food and essential non-food groceries provided for every $1 donated.

If you too are putting aside your own anxiety today and are thinking about poverty, perhaps there is a food bank in your community that would love to hear from you. I'm dialing 580-6333 right now.


The West Texas Food Bank has a wonderful site that represents Odessa, El Paso, and Alpine. They have various pdf document that outlines what volunteers can do to help.

It's not too late to join Blog Action Day 2008. After I call the West Texas Food Bank, I'm going to register my blog as one that participated today. If you miss today, you can sign up for their newsletter to be informed for next year's action.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From Australia to Texas

Cottony-Cushion Scale, Icerya purchasi
Highway 385, near McCamey, Texas

What would you guess this white stuff was? Plant? Gall? Insect? It had us stumped. Including Mr. Burr Williams. (Gasp!)

If you guessed insect, you'd be surprisingly right. Browsing this weekend through our new book, A Field Guide to Texas Critters by Bill Zak, Donna and I saw our "white stuff." It was quite thrilling and unexpected.

This scale is in the same family as aphids. And like some aphids, it produced honeydew, which is why that ant is so interested. The scale starts off as a normal-ish insect, but as it matures, it hooks itself onto a tree as a parasite, sucking the sap and in doing so becomes immobilized. If I understand it right, the long column projecting outward from the insect is the egg sac.

This insect is not native to Texas, or the U.S. for that matter. It accidentally hitched a ride all the way from Australia back in the 1800s. In no time it caused such a problem with the citrus growers in California that a pest control solution had to be found. Turns out the solution was importing another insect from Australia, a special lady bug (lady beetle). It was so successful it created the field of science where one kind of insect is used to control another (bad) kind.

  • You can read more and see more detailed pictures at a California site, Garden Bees.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fall Arrived Early

A sampling of fall in Upstate New York
Scanned leaves

My daughter Audrey sweetly gathered, pressed, and shipped a box full of Autumn leaves to me. I paced myself, going through them, one by one. The whole box smelled like the first day of school, Halloween costumes, and frosty mornings.

I love West Texas, but I miss a nippy, leafy fall.

Thank you, Audrey. MWAH!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Master Gardener's Demonstration Garden

Red clover, Trifolium pratense
Permian Basin Master Gardener's Demonstration Compost Garden
at the Time Machine Recycle Center
Odessa, Texas

I am grateful to the folks with the Master Gardener program here that install these gardens for every one to enjoy and to be inspired by well-adapted and native plants.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are


"Wild Thing" (Click for larger views)
Plebeian Sphinx moth, Paratrea plebeja
West Odessa, Texas

Apparently the answer to where the wild things are is frequently in my house, and specifically in my bedroom. Long time followers of my blog will remember that there is a trumpet vine that grows outside my bedroom window, and even more strikingly, inside my bedroom window. It is that wild vine that has now attracted this kind of moth. In its caterpillar (larva) form it has found a way inside also.

I discovered it hanging on my curtain this morning, looking from a distance just like a folded leaf. And what a big surprise seeing it was a leaf with legs!

Before I returned it to the great outdoors where it belongs (in my humble opinion), I brought into the studio (the kitchen table) for a few fearless close up shots.

A July 2007 shot of my vine as it grows outside and inside.
An August 2007 shot of the vine as it continues to grow, searching for what?
The site Discover Life where I was able to identify the caterpillar based on its body color and features.
The site Butterflies and Moths has a nice write up about it. I'm fascinated that this guy isn't usually found this far west.