Category Archives: Photography


Gratuitous lavender photo. Every time I think it's done blooming, it puts out another blossom or two.
Gratuitous lavender photo. Every time I think it’s done blooming, it puts out another blossom or two.

I spent part of today working on my pond filter and starting a few small indoor projects, including some sprouts and a worm bin.

While I was outside, I took a few pictures of the garden in its more-or-less dormant state. Fall and winter always make me sad, because I hate saying goodbye to the garden, but I’ve got a few projects planned out there for this winter, and I think we’ll be in good shape come spring.

These fire rings will spend the winter serving as compost bins before turning into raised beds in the spring.
These fire rings will spend the winter serving as compost bins before becoming raised beds next season.

So far, I’ve bought four 36-inch fire rings to use as compost bins this winter, with the intention of planting directly into the compost this spring to make incredibly rich, easy-to-manage raised beds for my tomatoes.

This pond has come SO far in the past year. It sheltered at least two rounds of tadpoles this summer.
This pond has come SO far in the past year. It sheltered at least two rounds of tadpoles this summer.

That pond filter I built out of an ice-cream bucket looks as if it’s going to work pretty well. Time will tell, of course, but so far, it seems to be working. I’ll have a tutorial for you in an upcoming Eco-Saturday entry. The picture above delights me; I can’t believe how big that lemon balm has gotten. The oregano, meanwhile, apparently thinks it’s an aquatic plant — I found some of it growing roots right down into the water. Leave it to a mint to be audacious enough to try to compete with water hyacinths on their own turf.

The arugula I allowed to bolt this summer has scattered seeds all over the small bed in the center of the yard and halfway across the yard around it, so I’ve got salad growing all over the place without having to do any late-season planting. The sage and chives are still hanging in there, too, although my Genovese basil succumbed to the light frost we had the other night. I’ll have an Eco-Saturday entry on Darwin gardening sometime in the next month or so. If you’re willing to let Mother Nature run the show, you can have a remarkably productive garden with virtually no effort.

Hope your day was good, wherever you are.


Vacation recap

We just got back Monday evening from a much-needed vacation, and I’ve been covering a murder trial all week, so I just got a hand free to start Photoshopping some images.

We left as soon as we finished up at the copy desk in the wee hours of the morning Aug. 10 and drove straight through to Tucumcari, because I hadn’t been out there in 20 months, hadn’t had a proper vacation in two years, and simply could not be bothered with such niceties as sleep until I got a lungful of high desert air.

We’d been on the road somewhere around 12 hours when we rolled through Erick, Okla., on Route 66 and passed a familiar rust-covered sign standing sentinel over a pasture near Texola:

I’ve always loved this sign between Erick and Texola, Okla.

At Vega, Texas, I insisted on stopping for a photo op with the mascot for Rooster’s Mexican restaurant. If you’re a fan of The Bloggess, you know why this was important.

Knock-knock. Vega, Texas.

As soon as we reached New Mexico, I insisted on stopping at Russell’s Travel Center in Endee so I could pick up one of their awesome green chile burritos before we went on to Tucumcari. Do I even have to tell you where we stayed?


Despite having been up for 38 hours — and on the road for a good 18 of them — I woke up at 6:30 the next morning, feeling more refreshed than I had at any point in the past two years. Once Ron got up, we loaded the car, grabbed breakfast at Kix on 66 (green chile breakfast burrito) and headed for Santa Rosa.

Santa Rosa, N.M. Practicing Bob Dylan covers on a crappy student guitar I picked up for $80 at Hastings.
Santa Rosa, N.M. Photo by Ron.

We visited the Rudolfo Anaya monument, where I sat under a tree, quietly playing Bob Dylan covers and singing to myself. We also wandered down the park trail, trying out the outdoor exercise equipment the city has put in since my last visit. (I was, of course, inspired to add “build outdoor gym in backyard” to my to-do list for my next creative outburst.) After Santa Rosa, we took the old alignment of 66 up to Santa Fe, making a short detour to Las Vegas, N.M., to see Allan Affeldt’s latest project — an old Harvey House called La Castaneda that he recently acquired and plans to restore. We spent some time poking around the interesting little shops downtown, which I highly recommend.

La Castaneda.
La Castaneda.

We got an order of green chile cheese fries — which I’d been craving for two solid years — at El Parasol in Santa Fe before heading to Albuquerque, where I broke my green chile streak with a trip to the Dog House for a (red) chili dog. We stayed at the Monterey Non-Smokers’ Motel, which was comfortable as always, and grabbed green chile breakfast burritos at the Frontier Restaurant before heading out of town.

Owl Rock, west of Albuquerque, N.M.
Owl Rock, west of Albuquerque, N.M.

In Gallup, we went to Aurelia’s Diner, where I consumed what might be the greatest thing ever invented: a “green parfait,” which is a parfait glass full of mashed potatoes layered with green chile stew and topped with shredded cheddar. GLORY.

We’ll pick up this saga there tomorrow, assuming I can shake free to work up a few more photos. I’ve got tons of images from Amboy Crater to share.


On the Road


Quick scene from the road. Ron took my picture looking competent with my guitar at the Rudolfo Anaya sculpture park on Route 66 in Santa Rosa, N.M., yesterday. The lighting was weird — hence the strange color — but I kind of like it. If you didn’t know better, you might almost be fooled into thinking I know what I’m doing. (You’d be wrong, but that’s why I’m posting a photo and not a video.)

If I ever get run over by a bus or come down with bubonic Ebola pox or something, go ahead and run this shot with my obit. It’s about the hippiest photo anybody has ever taken of me.


A Song for you




“I know your image of me is what I hope to be….”
— Leon Russell

This was our Saturday night after work. Nothing fancy; just a few iPhone images of a nice, quiet evening with a big dog snuggling for all he was worth.

(Riggy was pouting about something and wouldn’t come out of his crate long enough to cuddle and be petted, so Songdog had Mommy and Daddy all to himself for a little while.)


Eeeeeeeeeeeee! SQUEEEEEEEEE!

In the past eight months or so, I have spent a LOT of time digging, hauling, lining, smoothing, filling, treating, landscaping, dechlorinating, filtering, and just generally mucking about to get a healthy, pretty pond fit for amphibian habitation. Today’s discovery was worth every single strand of filamentous algae I’ve had to extract from the filter with a bottle brush and a Q-tip.

Look. Right there, in the middle of the water lettuce. Right there, just hanging out on a leaf. Look closely. See it? No? OK ...
Look. Right there, in the middle of the water lettuce. Right there, just hanging out on a leaf. Look closely. See it? No? OK …
… let’s get a little closer.
Found these two hiding under a leaf. Yes, that’s my finger at the bottom of the picture. No, I don’t have unusually large fingers. The toads really are that tiny.
Ron decided to put a penny in for scale. Itty-bitty baby toads the size of Lincoln’s head. Eeeee!
Of course, if it wasn’t Instagrammed, it didn’t happen, so here’s your gratuitous moody-artsy-filter shot of a tiny toad looking pensive.

Have I mentioned how much I love my pond? It wasn’t cheap, and I worked my butt off to install it and get it balanced (and am still working to keep it that way as I wait for the plants to spread enough to shade the entire surface), but these adorable little guys make it worth every dollar and every minute.



These little critters right here …

There's a lot to love in this photo: the toads, the duckweed, the eggs, and the fact that the water is absolutely clear. Yay, healthy pond!
There’s a lot to love in this photo: the toads, the eggs, the duckweed, the lilies and the fact that the water is absolutely clear. Yay, healthy pond!

… are the reason I got out the spade and dug a big hole in my yard last fall, hauled in a couple hundred pounds of sand, sculpted the sides, laid in a flexible liner, loaded 250 lbs. of decorative stone into my car, unloaded it, arranged it, blew $100 on a UV clarifier, and ran all over Southeast Missouri in search of duckweed and water lilies to keep the algae down.

If you look closely at the right side of the photo, you’ll see what looks like a string of tiny beads. Those are toad eggs, and there are hundreds of them out there, which means at some point in the next two weeks, I will walk outside to find the water absolutely black and wiggling with tadpoles that will spend the summer growing into itty-bitty toads.

Benefits of providing toad habitat:

1. They’ll eat a metric crap-ton of mosquitoes and other garden pests. Yay, toads!
2. They sing their hearts out.
3. It’s hilarious to watch the cat when they start singing. Walter has spent the entire evening stalking the back hallway, staring at the back door and trying to figure out who’s making that sound.

If you don’t have a water feature in your yard, I highly recommend adding one. Doing it right is a lot of work (and expensive as hell), but the fringe benefits are terrific.