Bravo Lake

I have to admit that I’m mad about Bravo Lake.  It takes up about 1/4 of the area labeled on a map as Woodlake, and you can’t stand on a street anywhere in town and see it!  It started out with great promise, “Bravo!  Bravo!”  sounds like an excited cheer.  Something like, “Yeah, here’s a big beautiful lake.  Let’s have a picnic.  Bravo, sport!”


I'm going to catch a fish here any minute.  Get the barby ready!
I’m going to catch a fish here any minute. Get the barby ready!

That is not what bravo meant in the case of Bravo Lake, however.  In the early 1850s, when Tulare County was established, quite a few Irish settlers came to this land of plenty, seeking their fortune.  Times in Ireland were not conducive to finding fortunes as  the Great Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845 to 1852.  They might have first tried their luck at finding gold in 1849 about 200 miles to the north, but their sights were set on finding a good place to grow some food.  The Kaweah Delta was a great place to settle.

This looks like a good place to settle down and raise a family.
This looks like a good place to settle down and raise a family.

Not to stereotype, but you’ve all heard of the fighting Irish?  In Woodlake the fight between two Irishmen, one a future California senator, gave Bravo Lake its name.  Grace Pogue describes the death-defying squabble in her book, Within the Magic Circle.  

Bravo Lake, named by Indians, was given a Spanish name.

Swamp John and Tom Fowler, two fiery-tempered Irishmen, met one morning on the shore of the lake, which extended at that time as far north as the Wacaser place. As usual, they were in a fighting mood and the battle was on. T. H. Davis Sr., exasperated at their continued squabbling, pulled out his six-shooter and said, “You fellows settle this scrap right now. Finish it up, completely. And I don’t want ever to hear of your quarreling again.”

The fight was on now in deadly earnest. It lasted until noon. The news spread like wild fire. In an unbelievably short time, a crowd of Indians had gathered to see the finish of the feud. Shouts of “Bravo! Bravo!” spurred the doughty old warriors on.

At last, Swamp John sank exhausted to the ground. Satisfied onlookers carried him down to the lake to remove the traces of battle. Tom Fowler walked to the on his own power and bathed his hands and face. He was proclaimed the victor. The erstwhile belligerent pair were good friends forever after.

The lake was immediately christened Bravo Lake by a pleased band of Indian spectators.

This all happened before 1889 because Tom Davis, Sr. died in that year.  So my guess is that Bravo Lake was here when the white settlers came in 1852.  That being said, I bet they could see it.  From the street, I mean.  It was the center of interest.

Bravo Lake Fish Fry

Today you can’t see the large lake from street level in any direction.  I worked in Woodlake for years, and people would ask me if I had walked around Bravo Lake.  I didn’t even know where it was, and it was in the center of town.  Because the western section of Tulare County is the drain for multiple rivers, you might guess that flooding was common in the early days.  That was a problem for these settlers, so at some point a levee was built around the lake shrouding it from public view.  Years after that the Corps of Engineers dammed the Kaweah River, which feeds into Bravo Lake, eliminating the flood danger, to the best of my understanding, but nothing was ever engineered to make the lake reappear to the drive by onlooker.

Come right in.  Enjoy the lake!  :)
Come right in. Enjoy the lake! 🙂

In order to see this beautiful lake you have to walk up a steep bank and through a large opening in a tall chain link fence  Nobody here seems to mind that.  There is a beautiful botanical garden edging the south side of the levee.  Houses rim another section, and the rest is flanked by well watered groves of trees, mostly olives.  Along the brim of the levee is a wide, partially paved walking path.  I guess that is how they placate the public.  No one is prevented from walking around the beautiful lake.  but unsuspecting folks driving through Woodlake on their way to see the Sequoia National Park would completely miss the gem of Woodlake.  I think that is downright inhospitable!

What do you think?

Speaking of Bird Eggs

Today I am my own guest bloggers.  I got the idea from Cathy, better known as ShareChair, who reposted some of her earliest posts.  I posted this one year ago, one of my first posts.  Since very few people have ever seen it I thought it was appropriate to republish it to show you another variety of bird we have in Tulare County.

We can’t believe that they are not extinct, but the sites I found on Google insist that they are common.

This mama or dad, they look alike, has been sitting in 100 degree heat all day to cool these four future killdeer.  Her choice of nesting site is the reason we question the statistics on their abundance.  Those rocks are our driveway.

She/he did the Killdeer feigning dance for me until the cat came over to investigate.  I carted the cat safely away, and snapped these pictures one-handed as I left the poor stressed mother/father to get back to work sitting on the now-shaded eggs.

Sorry to say these pretty eggs didn’t make it either, in spite of their mother’s constantly chasing off predators.  Most likely our cats were the culprits as they had their eyes all over those eggs.  Vince and I felt very sad when the nest was empty.

And speaking of eggs did you all get a chance to name the new flamingo chick?  You have until June 3.

A Word A Week Challenge: Angle

I was inspired by a new blogger friend, Bambang (Bams) Triwoko, to create a post for this Word a Week Challenge:  Angle.  I don’t know whether I can put a new angle on it, but I will come at it from my perspective.  Angle makes all the difference in photography.   When I’m just looking at something, I don’t necessarily walk around checking all the angles like I do now when I want to take a photograph.

Last week my husband brought me a present – a bluejay egg that had fallen out of its nest in our trellis.  It felt surprisingly heavy for such a tiny egg.  I decided I should take pictures of it, so I took it outside and began my search for just the right angle.

Looking down - the shadow tells my angle, or is it the angle tells the time of day?
Looking down – the shadow tells my angle, or is it the angle tells the time of day?

The first angle I always resort to is whatever hits my eye level without having to climb up onto a rickety ladder or lay down on the ground, or sit in a cow pie.  Then I do the lazy thing, and adjust the zoom lens.

This gives you more of an idea of size of the egg.  It was tiny.
This gives you more of an idea of size of the egg. This is about how big it really was.  It was tiny.

However, there next thing I think of is shooting up at an object, preferably getting an angle with something else interesting in the process.  In this case the little bistro table on our porch made the perfect angles you see in this picture, but it wasn’t particularly interesting as far as the bird was concerned.  Then as I was looking up at the egg from underneath the table, it seemed like the egg moved.

Next, I started walking from one side to another, and in this case I could also manipulate the egg.  When I started doing all that I noticed the holes in the egg that I had not noticed when Vince gave me the egg.  That, along with the rocking motion, made me look at the egg from an entirely new angle.  What if this bird hatched?  What would happen to it?  Would the parents take care of it after I had touched it?  What do baby birds eat?  I moved the potential baby to the bark chips under the trellis.  From this angle you can really see the size of the egg compared to a small bark chip.

Practice time with my tripod - a new angle on this egg.
Practice time with my tripod – a new angle on this egg.

With the knowledge that “this egg was alive” angle in mind, I raced to the computer and googled baby blue jays and found out that you can soak cat food and hand feet it to newly hatched blue jays (and other birds).  Someone else fed oatmeal to baby birds.  One comment gave the number for  Southern Calif. wildlife hotline: 866-945-3911.  When I called that number I got three numbers for the Fresno area, and I called the first two and they were off for the weekend.  The third number was a Click and Clack kind of wildlife guy.  He should have his own radio broadcast.  He was so helpful, AND funny.  I laughed out loud as we talked about this poor bird’s possible fates – sorry Autty, some of them were not too positive.  Actually from almost any angle, this baby’s prospects were not good.

See the new hole on the top?
See the new hole on the top?

What I did learn from Click was that blue jays have no sense of smell.  They aren’t going to ignore their baby bird because I touched it.  Birds won’t know the difference.  His advice to me was to put it back in the nest.  So I did.  Inside the nest was hair, lots of it – probably mine!  It was soft inside the nest.  I felt good about the angle I had taken on blue jay restoration.

I’d just saved a precious life.  Way to go, Marsha!  Chalk up points!  Vince came in the next morning to inform me that he found a broken egg.  I climbed up on my rickety ladder to check the nest – empty.  Bad angle, and I didn’t photograph it.


In my neck of the woods, cattle get branded, but I’ve been DOING Twitter, and reading about branding.  Apparently, if I want to my blog to take off and really go  places I need to be branded.  My blog is doing relatively well, nothing viral, but then until a few days ago I was not branded.  Judging from the lack of number of visitors and likes on my Facebook page, branding must be an essential step I’m missing.

Still only 56 Likes
Still only 56 Likes

So, here we go again, I need your opinion.  I put a brand on my WP site.  Do you like it?  No, Manny is not the Brand.  Manny’s my top salesperson!  So I featured him in my header.

Simple, unchanging, eye catching, unique, unafraid to be who they are, bold
Simple, unchanging, eye-catching, unique, unafraid to be who they are, bold

So is a brand something like our gravitars?   Is it the header?  In my mind a good brand is Leanne Cole’s black and white box with her name in it.  I also like Ralph’s gravitar partly because he did a whole post on it, and asked people why they followed him.  The hat came out as the biggest plus.

Susan Hunter I like EasyBreezy books, too – even though the picture is not the author, and she doesn’t use her name.  I just want to look like that!  I like my gravitar because a good picture of myself is hard to find, AND in this one the chairs behind me sort of add dimension to my hair, making it almost look like I have more hair.  I like that!  But I don’t think that is what I need for my brand – as shown by my lack of FB LIKES.

Simple, my favorite color de jour, my brand name because I loved my job as the TC History Consultant
Simple, my favorite color de jour, my brand name because I loved my job as the TC History Consultant

I tried designing a brand myself, but my handwriting is horrible, even using my new table in Adobe Illustrator.  My drawing is worse, and I don’t even know what I would draw to describe my brand?  In this blog are the loves of my life, Y’ALL, my readers, first of all, book reviews, travel stories, lectures on how education should always include history/social studies, my family (which is pretty much history!), assorted friends, retirement advice, poetry, pets, Manny, the adventures of the History Ladies, history of Tulare County, and what I’m learning about photography, blogging, graphic designing, and quilting for starters.

Simple, another of my favorite colors, clean - at least in a smaller size
Simple, another of my favorite colors, clean – at least in a smaller size

Even though I am basing my overall image on my former job as an Instructional Consultant in History/Social Science, and my love of it, I have moved on in who I am and what I produce.  Maybe moved backwards to what I liked before I chose a career.  I’m not trying to market history, but I am working to inform and entertain you (the rest of the world) as photographer and writer.  The product line I am marketing is somewhat sketchy in my mind, but I am driven to produce SOMETHING, therein is the Productions part of the brand.  I have tried to market some of my pictures, but I’m not totally there yet.  I’ve written at least one children’s book, but it’s not ready for production after at least 18 years.  But surely there’s something I can produce that someone will want!  🙂  Yes??????

Still my name, streaming Kaweah River into Bravo Lake.  Hard to read, but...
Still my Brand on top of the Kaweah River streaming into Bravo Lake.   Keep in mind that even though corrected, this is how I see EVERYTHING.  I’m assuming this brand is a bit blurry to you, too!

Since I am already marketing photography through Fine Arts America, I considered bringing in a little photography into my brand.  Maybe I need to bring in a little of my “Streaming Thoughts,” which is what I actually do on this blog.  Granted all these trial “brands” are rough, and very poor quality.  But if I am trying to market myself, and I feel that I must after reading these blogging gurus, to justify the amount of time and energy that I spend blogging, I’ve got to SELL SOMETHING!  am I going to sell my random thoughts?  Who does that and gets by with it other than Paul Harvey?  But then he had a GREAT brand – The Rest of the Story.  Remember him?

Is branding the signature line, the rest of the story?
Is branding the signature line, “the rest of the story”?

Interestingly the story that I hyperlinked there talks about the fact that he was like the forerunner of a current day blogger.  YES!  Maybe there is hope for a market for what I do…  chat.

Garrison Keillor

I also thought about Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion.  I can totally identify with this picture.  I’m your Tulare County Home Companion.  Why, it even looks like me in my office!  I’m a little smaller, and my legs are slightly tanner, and I don’t wear shoes to blog!   🙂

Click and Clack

Of course, you’ve heard of these guys, Click and Clack.  If not, you are missing one of my favorite radio shows, and I hate cars.  I’d never fix a car if you paid me millions of dollars, and yet, I love their show.  I want to be just like them.  Funny and informative.


When I was in my 20s friends and strangers even would say I looked and acted like Lily Tomlin.  That was an insult to me then because all I could picture was her brand, and it was not what I was trying to portray at the time.  Now I realize the people were not far off the mark.  There are similarities that even I can see.

Erma Bombeck

Finally there’s the lady to whom my writing has been most likened to, Erma Bombeck.  I love her brand line in this picture, “The family that plays together…  gets on each other’s nerves.  How true is that?

I tried to press publish real quickly this morning before Sally and I took our walk, but I couldn’t be rude and let her wait long enough to get it done.  So we talked about branding on our walk.  We laughed about the thought of everything streaming out from Tulare County (TC), but for me, it does.


Tulare County is the bread basket for the country, the center of agriculture (not that I’m a farmer, but that is the primary industry here, and you all enjoy the benefits of it.)  Sally suggested that I had to have a map, and I found the perfect map of Tulare County in 1850 when Tulare County was huge!

Sally-inspired brand
Sally-inspired brand

This is my final brand for today.  I need your opinions now to move to the next step.

So what do you think?

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

Michael Pick would like me to do something different in the background – me, not the scenery.  No wonder they call it a challenge.  People/objects we know and love, or who are interesting are usually the focus of our thoughts and pictures.  Now Michael I’m not happy about this.  I’m having to think – AGAIN, and I just did that yesterday.  I mean really, I do have some excellent background pictures with Manny in the foreground and San Diego Bay in the background.  Won’t that do, Michael?

Granted Manny is not blurry, but he's sort of not the focal point.
Granted Manny is not blurry, but he’s sort of not the focal point.

That is surely better than this next one in which Manny is clearly the center of attention.

Manny is clearly King of Fuzzy Bay in this picture.
Manny is clearly King of Fuzzy Bay in this picture.  Oops, even his tag is showing.

Then I thought about our trip to Hawaii last year.  Vince and I were both more fascinated with the views than with having OUR PICTURES as the highlight.  We were both taken with this long set of steps down to the beach on the island of Maui.  Ever been here in Honolua-Mokuleia Bay?

Better here in picture one?
Better here in picture one?

We both posed, but IN THE BACKGROUND, Michael.

Or here in background picture 2?  Don't answer that!  I was feeling like an optometrist trying to measure how good your eyesight is trying to get us OUT OF THE BACKGROUND!!
Or here in background picture 2? Don’t answer that! I am feeling like an optometrist trying to measure how good your eyesight is trying to find us IN THE BACKGROUND!!

I’m not mad, mind you, but instead of taking 15 minutes like I planned to take to whip through this challenge, it took – well let’s just say I didn’t get my walk in.  Oh well, I have proof that I have at least climbed some stairs in the last year or so.

Or better here in #3
Or better here in #3

Now if important figures, are supposed to be big, but out of focus, I think I have just gained the photographic ability to do that, but you can tell me if this is what you mean.  It was an accident.

Thanks for making me think today.  🙂