Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 2009



Photo Essays:

Digital Collages, Digital Art:

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shadows and Patterns

"Shadows and Patterns"
Midland Air Terminal, Texas

2 Thing Challenge for March 1, 2009

It's been a while since I've done a 2 Things Challenge. (Everyone is invited, check it out.) When the two things were "Shadows / Patterns" for this week, I went on special alert. Yesterday when I came across this, I knew things had all come together neatly. I had been meaning to take a photo of one of these for at least a year. I'm curious, can you tell what it is?

Thank you to Janet for the challenge and opportunity.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Windmill grass

Windmill grass
West Odessa, Texas

It's not often at this time of year I see windmill grass looking like this. By now most of its structure has blown away, leaving only bare, scraggly arms. This one, though, is pretty enough for a picture. All the dark seeds are long gone, only the golden papery pods somehow hung on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The many sides of Acourtia nana, continued

Acourtia nana, skeletonized
West Odessa, Texas

Yesterday I wrote about how the dwarf desert holly leaves will skeletonize. I thought you might like to see how beautiful they are when they do.

Oh, and those little circular marks on the leaves that I saw at Tahoka Lake? They are on leaves here too. I just never noticed before. Funny how in simply a new environment you see things fresh.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The many sides of Acourtia nana

"The Many Sides of Acourtia nana" aka dwarf desert holly
South end of Tahoka Lake Pasture, Texas

I have quite a few favorite, "pet" wild plants. The dwarf desert holly that is native to Texas (also New Mexico and Arizona) is one of them. I love it not only for its delicate bloom in summer, but because its leaves in winter frequently skeletonize. And even those that don't are paper thin so that in the evening when the sun is at its lowest they look like small, scattered, dancing flames on the desert floor.

Some at Tahoka Lake, though, had these little marks (fungus? bacteria? disease? insect damage?). I'll have to keep a keener eye to see if I find any that have the same markings around here.

I have this thing for circle/dot designs and so these really pleased me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

TLP with TLC

South end of Tahoka Lake Pasture, Tahoka Lake, Texas

A few weeks ago I had hinted that I would be embarking on a special photo adventure. And so I have! Donna and I have been invited to hike and photograph the Tahoka Lake Pasture as part of a team of individuals who are hoping to see this very special place become a state protected entity. We plan to go there every weekend possible for at least the next year. My blog will now be taking weekends off, mostly because when I get back home I can hardly move from hiking and bending all day.

Tahoka Lake Pasture has been in the May family for more than a century. The family owns two and a half sections, or a whopping 1600 acres. Their property encompasses all but the most southerly end of the kidney-shaped salina. (The photo above is just the south end view.)

We have spent two weekends there now and have fallen for it hard. It is a dream come true in every sense for Donna and me. We owe an immense thank you to Burr Williams of the Sibley Nature Center for putting us in touch with Mrs. May, vouching for us as good human beings and dedicated photographers/nature nuts.

This last weekend we had the pleasure of meeting one of the important individuals associated with the future of TLP, Dr. Warren Conway, a waterfowl specialist at Stephen F. Austin University. That sounds really stuffy, doesn't it? Well, he was anything but. Instead he was warm, curious, funny, helpful, and of course, really stinking smart. Donna and I plied him with zillions of questions, and he gave each a thoughtful answer, answers I will be thinking about for some time to come. And I'm happy to report that my training with the 2009 Texas Master Naturalist program has already made me seem smarter than I am when Warren asked about a little weed at our feet. It was one of the exact plants that Burr had given us an impromptu lecture on during our field trip, the "filaree." Although, I'll confess, I botched it by telling Warren it was a "filagree." (Sigh.)

Currently at the lake there are tens of thousands of sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) roosting at night. They will be migrating their way to Canada for their breeding season soon. Luckily that will happen just about the time spring is due to arrive, taking the edge off missing their graceful silhouettes in the sky and their distant trumpeting during the day, things which right now seem as much a part of the lake as the wiry hackberry trees and golden clumps of grass.

I can't count how many times Donna and I have looked over barbed-wire fences with longing, like two kids peering into a candy shop window. We have used our imagination many a time to wonder what it would be like to hike, to photograph, and to experience deep inside one of the vast Texas landscapes that we have seen from county roads. Our trespassing days may be behind us!

We are most humbly grateful to be invited to participate in this amazing place.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Creosote pod

Creosote pod (Larrea tridentata)
West Odessa, Texas

Another very common plant here is a creosote bush. Indeed it does produce creosote, called "wood creosote" from an oil in its waxy leaves, but it's not the same as the black creosote, "coal tar creosote" used as a wood preservative on railroad ties. This creosote has been used by native desert peoples as a medicine, whereas the coal tar creosote has been shown to cause cancer. Recently wood creosote has been sold as a treatment for herpes.

The creosote has a lot of interesting characteristics, including the fact that is it extremely long-lived. And I do mean extremely. Perhaps the oldest living thing in the world is a creosote clone, dubbed "King Clone," in the Mojave Desert, aged at 11, 700 years old! And how ironic that the longest living thing is found in the desert.

The creosote is also very slow growing -- it's a mere seedling at a foot tall when it's ten years old. The seeds have a low germination rate, next to impossible if the seed doesn't get far enough from the mother plant. Some think the creosote puts out a chemical that inhibits growth around it, while others have said it is due to the fact that the mother plant is so efficient at moisture absorption that the seedlings don't have a chance.

That puts the pod above -- no bigger than a green pea -- in a new light. Its round shape apparently is for rolling away, and the hairs to catch the slightest wind to roll further.

And even then, it might get eaten by a jackrabbit or a kangaroo mouse.


From the Joshua Tree Park site, this informative article also indicates that there are actually three species of creosote bush based on differences in the number of chromosomes, the one in west Texas having the fewest and, thus evolutionarily the oldest?

From the Sibley Nature Center site, the creosote has 84 different kind of bees that visit it! And some only visit the creosote, no other kind of flowering plant.

From this site about the Mojave Desert, the creosote is chosen frequently by wildlife for dens and protection.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Photo Essay: Darrel's Barber Shop

Darrel's Barber Shop
Main Street
Seminole, Texas (population 5,910)

Donna and I went to Seminole yesterday to pick up her repaired vehicle that had left her stranded earlier in the week. I'm glad I followed Photographer Rule # 1: Take your camera with you every where you go.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How many things can you find?

"Waiting for the School Bus"
West Odessa, Texas

Just for many things can you find in this picture that you would not see in your neighborhood?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Salvia song

Salvia, unknown species
West Odessa, Texas

I think it was Bev who wrote here that it often seemed my plants pictures were having a conversation. This one seems like it is singing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Heart of Yucca

"Heart of Yucca"
West Odessa, Texas

Crazy as it sounds, I might just miss winter 2008-2009. I've been taking walks with my dogs everyday. The bareness of winter is making us (well, me) really stop to look. In Spring, it's easy to see. Winter, on the other had, has been an interesting challenge.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ruled by Head or Heart?

"Ruled by Head or Heart?"
February 2009
Digital collage: Photoshop 5.5, my photo, 18th century medical diagrams

My own answer is much too clear.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Spider

"Itsy Bitsy Spider"
My home office curtains
West Odessa, Texas

Is any spider really itsy bitsy?

Regardless of size, this one and I have decided to live together peacefully on one condition: that it stays on that side of the curtain. For a few weeks now, it has complied.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Think So Highly of You

"Think So Highly of You"
Digital Work, Photoshop 5.5

Just sharing a little offbeat digital piece I did recently.

I'll be gone today on a special photo adventure. See you -- hopefully with an interesting story and pictures -- when I return.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Abraham & Penguinito

"Abraham & Penguinito" Februrary 1, 2009
West Odessa, Tx

Taking a drive, I spotted this boy working out with his horse. They were a pleasure to watch, both so young and synchronized. I spoke to him for a while. He told me his grandfather named his horse, Little Penguin, because it would never grow much bigger than it was. I've promised to give him a print of this photo next Sunday. Maybe I'll catch a few more shots of them riding then, too.