Saturday, December 26, 2009

166 - Larger Than Life

The same day I took the pigeon photos, I captured a hawk moments after he brought down one of those same pigeons for a big dinner. Unfortunately for him, a much larger hawk was gliding nearby, and decided to nab a free meal. He landed near the smaller hawk with his catch, and proceeded to intimidate him with his superior size. After a moment or two, the smaller one conceded defeat and left the kill to the big one. This is the imposing stance the big one took to obtain his pre-caught feast! Might impressive thief, isn't he?!?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

157 - In My Neighborhood

A flock of pigeons have moved into the rural area where I live, much to the pleasure of the red-tailed hawks (and feral cats). I managed to get my camera out (for the first time in a while--life gets in the way sometimes) and get a few shots of the pigeons' aerial dancing. I just missed a red-tailed hawk bringing down a pigeon, but did get a few of him on the ground with it, and a bigger (much bigger!) hawk laying claim to it.

This photo is part of the dance. Amazing that they just don't run into each other--although when the hawks showed up, they got a little crazy, losing the rhythm and direction synchronicity. Still, no collisions. Fascinating!

Monday, August 17, 2009

197 - Neglected

This is a true old-fashioned (and just plain old) picket fence. It surrounds one of the houses making up Chestnut Square in McKinney. The house has been refurbished, so it looks almost new (even though it's over 100 years old), but did someone forget about the fence? It has that benign air of neglect, somehow seems a bit more inviting and friendly than a pristine, newly erected picket fence would have. I just love this old fence!

Friday, August 14, 2009

212 - Open

Well, that's what it says! (Window of a restaurant in McKinney, TX.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

284 - Silly

There were several funky frogs placed throughout downtown McKinney. I'd guess that each was done by a different artist, though I have no ideas what the purpose of the frogs is! They're cute, anyway!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

49 - Chores

All right, so it's been a while since this has been used for any chores! How would you have liked washing clothes in a machine such as this?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

221 - Outdoor Seating

Someone was having a good time on a Saturday night! (And a fun ride home.)

1- One Hundred

Four days old . . .
One Hundred days old . . .

Symphony is 100 days old! My how she's grown, and the things she's learned! Still fuzzy, but less so. That fuzzy baby coat is almost gone. The coat under it is still a little fuzzy, so no slick, summery coat this year! When she sheds her winter coat next spring as a yearling, then she'll have that nice slick shine. Look at that face! Huge difference in 3+ months, don't you agree?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Free Theme #5 - Against All Odds

On the ledge running below the roof level of the historic Collin County courthouse in downtown McKinney, pigeon spikes--intended to prevent pigeons from landing and roosting on the ledge--hold in place . . . a pigeon nest!

Using the spikes to keep the nest in place, it is protected from being blown off by storms or attacked by aerial predators. The very thing put up to prevent the nest is the thing that keeps it safe -- against all odds.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

54 - Closed

Ski shop? Snowbird store? No merchandise that I could see inside, but I loved the sign and the sentiment!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

53 - Clocks

County courthouse, downtown McKinney, Texas. Another Photowalk photo. (That was just so much fun! I'm going to try to do it again next year!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

196 - Navigational Aids

This is the bit of a carriage horse in McKinney, TX, photographed during the Photowalk last Saturday. The bit (and the reins attached to it, of course) are the lines of communication with which you navigate your horse. So, I see the bits as navigational aids. It's a stretch, but this was one of my favorite shots (don't know why!) from the walk. (And I love that you can see the shank part of the bit of the nearer horse, out of focus.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

85 - Entrance

This is one of the entrances to Chestnut Square in McKinney, Texas. Chestnut Square is a combination museum of old houses, farmer's market on Saturday mornings through the spring and summer, and party/festivity rental (there was a wedding about to take place when we went through there during the Worldwide Photowalk).

This lovely little brick walkway takes you into the very nicely kept, eye- and spirit-pleasing grounds. I always get the feeling that those houses may not be historical landmarks, but rather lived-in homes. As long as their dogs don't bite . . .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

145 - Heart's Desire

It took me 4 years to get a Miniature foal of my own breeding! She is definitely my heart's desire!

Monday, July 6, 2009

293 - Solitary

I just can't seem to get the timing right to get a good shot of a red-tailed hawk! I was driving home the other day, and saw this guy taking off from the top of a telephone pole. (Would love to have captured the takeoff!). I stopped the truck and got out as quickly as possible, but by then, of course, he was soaring high. I snapped a few anyway, and I kind of liked the look of this one, with him backed by all the little clouds. (The ongoing challenge to get a good close shot is still fun.)

I just love the red-tails. They are so majestic. (But they are one of the reasons I haven't gotten any chickens yet, which I want very much to do. Red-tails love chicken, feathers and all!) I miss seeing the pair that used to nest in the trees by the lake. A runway, directional windsock, etc. has gone in for radio-controlled airplanes. A couple of idiots chased the hawks with their planes, so the birds relocated to the other side of Lake Lavon.

I do have to wonder WHY humans have to be so stupid sometimes! (Sorry! Every time I think about that, it makes me angry all over again!)

But watching this fellow, and hearing his calls to his mate, who showed up just after I started driving again (of course!), eases my spirit. To be nonviolent and vegetarian, I don't understand why I'm so enthralled with predatory birds (and cats--I love the big ones as well as the domestic type)! But I am who I am. I love 'em!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

195 - National Pride

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

352 - Watch

Believe it or not, I'm being watched. Horses have an amazing field of vision. The only blind spots they have are directly down their nose (which means those fantastic jumping horses you see in the shows or on TV can't actually see where the bar is, or where their own feet are!) and directly behind them.

Although Symphony is turned away from me, she is watching every move I make from her left eye. Her ears are locked on me, which tells me where her attention is. If the ears had been forward, she would have been watching the geldings running and playing in the pen in front of her. Where the ears are, there also is the mind.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

239 - Power

I know you're thinking "Power? Ducks? How do those two things go together????"

Here's how: Ducks are deceptively calm on the water. We see a serene bird gliding effortlessly across the water's surface.

What's real is that their feet are pedaling with great speed and force (if they're in a hurry, that is), and only rarely do you get to see and to realize just how much they are working below the surface for that "effortless" propulsion!

I chose this photo because behind the duck, you can see a bit of his pedal power, water churning, like a mini inboard motor on a boat, a bit of whitewater and a flashing orange leg. Seemingly serene, but peddling like hell below the surface!

Monday, June 29, 2009

32 - Boy

I've no idea what the next door neighbor's son was watering down with his Super Soaker. Probably some unfortunate insect got an unexpected shower.

This little guy is usually well watched after by his mom. Apparently he escaped the close confines of her ever-watchful eyes just long enough to sneak out back for a bit. Shortly after I took this photo, she came looking for him and took him back inside. (He's 3.)

I was wondering how I would be able to get a decent shot of some male immature human (a terrifying species to me), and this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up! From the safety of my pickup truck (I just got home from errands.), I managed to get this single photo of the local human wildlife, and escape unharmed. Whew!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

205 - Obsession

This is the focus of my world! My little horses. They are my hobby, my friends, my entertainment, my sanity! Obsession? Oh, no! (Not much.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

203 - Numbers

Is this a happy medium? Eight and a half years ago, gas was under $1.00 a gallon. Last year, it was over $4.00. A couple of months ago it was just under $2.00, but began to climb again. Now, though, it's hovering around $2.50. Too high? Too low? Maybe a "happy" medium. (I can remember pulling out of a station without buying gas because it was just TOO expensive . . . at 39¢ a gallon!)

BTW: Why doesn't anyone round up when quoting gas prices? That little 9 to the right of the dollars and cents numbers means 9/10's. Seems to me that's closer to $2.43 and $2.50 than the number we see. Wouldn't it make sense to say (and think), "Oh, $2.43 a gallon!"? Even a penny a gallon makes a difference. My truck holds 24 gallons. Four fill-ups and that's almost a dollar! (I still see $2.42, too!) Those little numbers we forget about add up, too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

342 - Underneath

In this 101ºF heat, even the birds are seeking relief! This grackle found a bit of shade underneath a car in a parking lot. It's hot enough, he's panting to keep cool. Seems like he'd be cooler in a tree (but he didn't ask me)!

Only four more days of triple digits, then we get a real cooling trend: 96º!

Monday, June 22, 2009

308 - Summer

I got some more photos of my baby yesterday, the first day of summer. So while we suffer 98º heat with 65% humidity, everyone else has to suffer through a few more baby pictures! And since they were taken on Summer Solstice, I thought the theme "Summer" would work. (I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel for horse-related themes now! Eeeek!!)

She's 2 months old now!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

110 - Free

This pigeon has managed to find a free lunch. Someone apparently dropped a peanut on the parking lot, and this lucky bird managed to find it before the grackles did. What's that saying?
"The early bird gets the . . . peanut!"

Friday, June 19, 2009

305 - Street Scenes

Trapped behind a road-stripe painting convoy, I played around with my camera a little. After all, when you can't get around, it makes more sense to relax and look at the world around you rather than get your knickers in a knot! So, I photographed the trailing truck of the convoy, and the other side of the road. Not much of a photo, but it made for a much more pleasant wait than impatience would have!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

335 - Transparent

This walkway is part of a hospital complex in Plano, Tx. The tract of land the hospital was built on wasn't big enough, so they bought the tract across the street and connected the two by this walkway. Ingenious! And a very odd sensation (to me at least) to stand in the walkway and watch the cars go under. At least it's not transparent underneath. I don't think I'd be brave enough to step out onto it! (I'm not so good with heights as it is!)

I always love driving down that road and going under the walkway. Don't know why. Just one of those little things that flavor life a little happier. (Like the dragonfly that landed on my windshield wiper yesterday when I was stopped at a stop light. He rested a moment and took off again just as the light turned. Do you suppose he was watching the light, too? Wish I'd had my camera!!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

319 - The Games We Play

Next door neighbors' kids must've had a soccer game while I was at work. Here is the evidence. I'm sorry I missed it! Few things are more entertaining than kids playing "organized" sports. All I get to see is the abandoned (temporarily) ball! (sigh)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

286 - Skeletal

Bet you thought this was a theme for Halloween! Well, this one's for summer. This is a radio tower that's visible from my back yard. I've been threatening to photograph it for ages (goodness only knows why!), and so I finally did. It's kind of anorexic looking, such a skinny, boney thing to be so tall! So: Skeletal is the theme for today!

Monday, June 15, 2009

343 - Unfinished (Compost)

This is my compost tumbler. Kitchen scraps, grass clippings (and yes, the backyard needs mowing!), some horse/donkey manure, leaves and garden waste all go into the tumbler. A few turns everyday (well, every two or three days, to be honest), and in a few weeks, we have lovely fresh compost for the garden!

There are two compartments: one for filling, one for "cooking" compost. At this time, both sides are unfinished. The "cooking" side needs a couple or three more weeks, and the filling side isn't full yet. (As soon as the cooking is done, I'll empty that side. Then it will become the filling side, and the other side will begin its "cooking" process. I've no doubt it will be full enough by then!)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

114 - Fruits of the Season

Two little Roma tomatoes developing on my lonely little Roma tomato plant. (I have 3 other tomato plants, but none are Italian. Language barrier, you think?)

Lost one of the tomatoes in a nasty storm Wednesday night (along with a bunch of roof shingles), so now there's just one. Gonna be a very SMALL amount of spaghetti sauce made from that!

Friday, June 12, 2009

19 - Backlighting

Almost sundown. This is Crimson Spirit, my 32" gelding. He is sun-sensitive (very rare in a healthy horse), so when I clip his winter coat off as the weather gets hot, I leave it over his back and hips, to help protect his skin. By the time it sheds out naturally, he'll be having to wear a fly-sheet (which he hates), or staying in the barn during the day (which he hates much worse). Every morning he gets his flysheet put on, and does a short little rodeo routine--just enough to make me happy he's not big enough to try to ride!

I love the way the late evening sun highlighted the hair in his bright red tail, turning it a luminescent gold. Makes him even more handsome than he already is! (No bias, here!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

116 - Futuristic

Hard to believe that this is a 40-year-old water tower in the formerly very small town of Fairview. The shape is so unusual, it looks like it just landed. There's a lot of construction going on all around it. They've put a cyclone fence up around it, which gives me hope that it will be spared destruction in the encroaching "progress". I've always thought it was kinda cool.

Monday, June 8, 2009

24 - Bent

Self explanatory!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Free Theme: Ladyhawk

Ladyhawk is mama to my baby Symphony. She's a great mom and a lovely mini Appy mare. She's also one tough cookie, and she's had a really tough week.

Wednesday a week ago, Ladyhawk apparently was attempting to scratch an itchy eye on her hay rack (which is made of rebar). In the process, she caught and tore her eyelid, and scratched her eyeball. The injury required a trip to the vet ($234.00 vet bill!), and was the first outing for Symphony, who acted like a little pro in the halter!

Then this past Wednesday evening, Ladyhawk showed signs of colic. I was gone running errands, and when I came home, she was in obvious pain, rolling on the ground, kicking and biting at her belly, standing with her head almost on the ground. So, another trip to the vet ($250), and an all night vigil for me. Everything looked just fine until 4:00 am, then the symptoms returned. At 4:15, we were on our way back to the vet, where she & baby spent the day, undergoing treatment and observation. By 4:00 pm, I had picked her back up and headed home. A second all nighter yielded more promising results, and she is finally doing better, although she's tired and gaunted from her ordeal.

For those of you not familiar with horses & colic, it's common and often deadly. About 60% requires intervention, and 10% requires surgery (over half of those needing surgery are poor candidates for it by the time it's necessity is determined). Of that 10%, 60% don't survive. Colic is the biggest cause of equine euthanasia (in part due to the expense--$5,000 to $8,000 is not uncommon, with complications of course, raising the cost significantly), with laminitis (what ailed Barbaro, during and after his recovery of severe fractures during the 2006 Preakness Stakes) close behind. Seeing the symptoms of a colic attack strikes terror in the heart of every horse owner. So far, I've been lucky. Ladyhawk's was the most severe I've had, and the first one I haven't managed to catch early. In most cases, the earlier the better, as far as the final outcome. For the horse's comfort, regardless of the outcome, earlier is definitely better!

So, I decided to dedicate this posting to my lovely Ladyhawk, to honor her for all she has endured in her short 9 years of life. Quite a lady, she is!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

364 - Works of Art

This may be a bit of a stretch (which I reserve the privilege to do!), but this photo relates to Works of Art on several levels.

First: The horse is a gorgeous Appaloosa miniature.
Second: The driver's attire is artfully assembled and color coordinated (even with the horse).
Third: My piece de resistance -- the horse's name is Thousand Oaks Yashica's Monet (Barn name is Monet). A pretty good artist, wasn't he? Monet?

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

162 - Jumping, Leaping, Bouncing

This theme lends itself to one subject (in my book, anyway). Bet you can't guess! (Yeah, right.)

Hey, she's six weeks old now!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

176 - Look Alikes

OK, so it takes a little imagination. This big gnarly piece of tree (the rear one) was at one time part of a combination of trees that, when the water level was just right, looked like a dragon playing in the water.

The head was just breaking the surface, there was a loop of the back, and then the tail, which came straight up out of the water and swung off to the east. The bridge builders took out a lot of trees where they were going to put the new bridge. The dragontree was not in the way, but between their machinations, and the drought in 2006, the dragontree was broken up, and this part washed ashore on the south side of the new bridge. (I do believe there was a dragon in the lake, her spirit living in the dragontree. On a full moon-lit night, you could see her out there, playing in the silkenlight of the moon on the water! When they destroyed her tree, she chose to leave the area. I miss her.

If you look really hard, and let your imagination loose, you can almost see the spark of dragonspirit that once inhabited this bit of log. That's a dragon's head! No one will ever convince me otherwise!

Friday, May 29, 2009

353 - Water

This is the edge of the shore, beside where the old FM 3286 bridge still stands (its skeleton, at least). It was a bit windy, and the waves were leaping up the side of the shore. I just kind of liked the leaping water, and the theme title was just made for this theme (or vice versa). (View it at full size for the full effect.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

36 - Broken

This old tree was hit by lightning four or five years ago. I thought it was surely dead, but it just wasn't ready to go! The dead part shades the sheep in the heat of the afternoon, and the live part shows that it ain't over 'til it's over. Best lesson "broken" has ever taught me (other than don't jump on a board that is not supported in the middle--I was ten, OK?).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

183 - Metallic

This big house went up on top of a hill not far from my home. I never even realized they were building it, but when the sun reflects off that dynamite copper roof, there's no missing it! It's set far enough back from the road, and with a rusty barbed wire fence surrounding it, that this is as close as I could get. I love that copper roof, and can't wait until it gets the lovely patina that Mother Nature will give it over time!

What a great view of Lake Lavon they have, too. (It's on the other side of the hill.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

273 - Seeds

There are still some dandelion seeds clinging to the puffball, but it looks like my front yard will soon be sprouting a few more dandelions! My husband thinks they're weeds. I think they're beautiful! Cheerful and smiley face yellow, they persevere even in the face of the lawnmower!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

74 - Dangerous

This innocuous looking grass is tall fescue, and it is the cause of a great deal of trouble and expense for me. This grass has a parasite called an endophyte (a parasite to the plant--a symbiotic relationship which is beneficial to both the grass and the endophyte). This endophyte is a real problem for breeders of horses, sheep and goats, although it doesn't appear to affect cattle. (Sheep and goats get the worst of it--I won't go into the gory details, and they really are gory.)

In horses it causes a number of issues related to the hormonal disruptions it causes. I lost a gorgeous Appy colt in 2006 because of some hay that had a lot of fescue in it. This year, I discovered a drug called domperidone (brand name Equidone) which counteracts some, but not all, of the effects of endophyte toxicity. The result was my Symphony in Silk. The expense is $100 a month until the foal is weaned. I can't imagine the expense for a large horse! Ladyhawk weighs about 350 lbs. At 1100 or 1200, the dose is increased proportionately! OUCH!

Anyway, this lovely batch of fescue was photographed in my pasture, grown from seeds that were in that hay. So innocent looking. So dangerous for baby horses, lambs, kids . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

48 - Childhood Favorite

I've always loved dragons! (Not as much as horses, but when's the last time you petted a dragon?) These are two of he dragon figurines I've collected over the years. Most of them have gone on to other homes, other dracophiles, but somehow these two guys, along with a tiny pewter one, have stuck around. They were always my favorites.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

325 - Things That Go

Ladies' Single Pleasure Driving class. Yes, those little horses sure can go!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

208 - On the Road

This is the first half of a sharp s-turn that I tackle every day, to and from work. Amazing how often they have to replace or repair that guard rail. (And those are million dollar + homes on the other side of those bushes--those 10-foot-tall bushes!) There was no guard rail at all until they built the first few of those homes.

BTW: Those 10 ft bushes were less than 18" tall when they were planted. My husband worked for the landscape company that put them in, and put most of them in himself! (That was 33 years ago!)

Speed limit's 35, I usually take it around 40, but never if the weather's bad. Wet weather, it's a 25 mph turn.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

177 - Looking Down

This is Symphony on her first day out of the stall (four days old). A horse's lips are equivalent to a human's fingers, so mouthing and tasting everything is the first thing they do. This brat, I mean filly, has only her four milk teeth (and I have the bruise on my arm to prove she can use them!). She's checking out the semi-dried dirt clods, lumps, etc. in the front lot.

The camera setting was all wrong, and the picture was way too dark. Once I lightened it up to where it was readily visible, the color noise was so loud I had to plug my ears (eyes?)! B&W does wonders with photos that would otherwise be a wash, so I gave it a try. I use the Black and White on Photoshop, rather than Desaturate, because it gives me the ability to enhance or diminish each color separately, which allows me to get the best possible B&W image.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

223 - Pair

I'm running out of photos! But the sun is out today (finally!!) and I'll be out later with my trusty sidekick the D80, making like the photographic big game hunter: looking for anything worth shooting! My way's much better: No blood!

Horse show pic again. Single Pleasure, Under class in AMHR show. (The "Under" means under 34". "Over" is over 34" to 38". They used to call it A and B divisions. I prefer that. Under/Over implies imperfect height to my mind. No one ever said my mind was normal!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

183 - Living the Green Life

Can't get much greener (or oranger???) than a ladybug on a weedstalk. When I was photographing the unusual green butterfly (a few posts back), I saw this little lady on a nearby plant, slowly making her way around and down, on her way to ?? where? I don't know where ladybugs go, but I'm always glad to see one on her journey.

Monday, May 11, 2009

127 - Grass, Lawn, Turf

A neighbor around the corner has a lovely stand of bluebonnets in his side yard every spring. I had to get a shot or two, and this is the view from the street. His three little trees (about 7 or 8 feet tall now) are ankle deep in bluebonnets. They may be common here in the spring, but they're beautiful. I think they're about the best thing about Texas!