Out of the Blue, This Is Not A White Lie

Today is blue and white day at Cee’s  Fun Foto Challenge. I have invited a special guest to accompany us on this blue and white tour I’ve planned out today. First, let’s take this stairway. Unless you have been to Elderwood, CA, you might not see one of these every day. It looks like you could climb all the way to heaven, but you really end up at the top of a wind machine overlooking an orange grove.

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Stairway to heaven

Oops, maybe I was wrong. Look where we ended up!  Once you’ve been to heaven, where can you go from there? If only we had wings. We could fly anywhere.

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Heaven is a vast place, so let’s just roam around a bit.  Maybe we will run into our special guest host this morning. Ahhhh yes, here he is.

Misplaced moon
Misplaced moon

“That’s weird. I thought I put the moon in the night sky,” God mumbled just loud enough for us to hear. “Oh well, it looks good there.”

Hi God,” I greeted him. “These are my friends from WordPress.”

“Hi Marsha. Wow, you have a lot of friends.”

“I really do. I promised them you would go on our blue and white tour with us. Got a moment?”

God winked.

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“Marsha, you used a  strange filter you put on this picture.  Didn’t you like the gray I used for the sky?”

“I actually did, God, but this is a blue and white tour, and I thought I could make it bluer with the filter.”

“It looks too purple to me. I still have a lot to teach you about Photoshop. Those  orange blooms in Elderwood are bursting with the most glorious smell. This is good. This is very g…… Achoo.”

I guess God has allergies, too.

“Let’s get out of here for a bit, what do you say?” God suggested.

“Whatever you want, God. I’m with you,” I answered.

Taking off at Runway Cafe
Taking off at Runway Cafe

God and I headed to Runway Cafe and hopped on a helicopter to head for clearer air.

Whale watching in Maui
Whale watching in Maui

We landed on a whale watching boat with CA friends Connie and Darrel Smith and Australian friends Carol  and Glen Sherritt  in Maui HI.

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“Now this is the life,” breathed God. “Wonder where all the whales are today? Ho hum… I think I’ll make a rainbow for everyone instead.” So he did.

Blue & White in Maui

“Ok, Marsha, what else do you have that’s blue and white. I could stay in Maui forever, but I know you need to get back.”

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“I thought this monument was pretty, God. Do you remember 1607?”

“How time flies,” He mused. “Seems like it was just yesterday that those English folks drug themselves off the boat here in Jamestown, VA. Of course no one called it Jamestown or Virginia then. It was sure touch and go for a while, but a few hardy souls made it.”

Blue hair
Blue hair

“Times have changed. Now all kids worry about is if their hair is the right color. Wonder why I didn’t think of blue hair?”

God smiled. I smiled back at him as we shook our heads together at kids today.

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“You humans, always so preoccupied with time. You’ve made some pretty nice timepieces, though.” God complimented the builders. They were standing nearby on the clouds watching.

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“Well, it’s been a calming blue and white tour today, and here we are right back where we started. You humans are always in my thoughts.”

“Thanks for joining us, God.”

“My pleasure, Marsha. Just remember, I’m always close. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

And with the twinkling of an eye, our tour ended, and God disappeared from sight.

Hope you enjoyed it. For more blue and white photos Visit Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Click the icon below.

CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.
CFFC runs weekly challenge starting every Tuesday.

 

 

Want A Beautiful 1.25 Acres in the Country?

A few years ago Vince and I purchased five acres of beautiful property, and subdivided it into four parcels. Three have sold. Two have beautiful homes, and my favorite remains.  We thought it had sold to one of my former fourth grade students, but financing fell through. I was so sad – instant grandchildren came with that sale. But maybe there is someone else just as lovely that wants to build a home there.

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Two days ago the weather was so perfect, I had to do a photo shoot there. It’s on a cul-de-sac and has a pad already cleared for building. This is the house across the private road.

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It was about 4:00 pm. The full moon peeped out of the clouds in broad daylight. I see a rabbit. What do you see?

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The lot has five or six oak trees that are probably between 50 and 100 years old. They are indigenous to this area, but are not protected like the Visalia Oak. The cute little house across the street is ours.  It is small, but very I think very adorable. He’s getting ready to redo our master bathroom. His son is coming to help him today, and I’m going out of town. (Whew!)

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The trees have many birds, mostly owls, woodpeckers and vultures. They are camera-shy. I waste so much time trying to capture them with my camera.

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I almost missed this one, and it’s not clear. I’m probably spinning as I follow it. I shot using my telephoto lens, which gets really close, but it sticks out so far, I can’t hold it steady. You are looking at the underbelly of a woodpecker. They love telephone poles. Every pole stores thousands of acorns. They like to put them in our gutters as well, up under the edge of the roof.

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This is probably a vulture in the top center of the maze of limbs.

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He doesn’t want to even land.

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To the east beyond the foothills, you see the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on a clear day.

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There is a vacant lot right across the street next to our house. Vince has always wanted to plant a vineyard, but there are many regulations, and neither of us knows what we are doing, so it sits fallow.

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You can see that the trees will bloom any day now.

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The young couple that planned to buy the property asked about snakes. Mama Kitty ate one the other day. I think it was a garter snake. She made the funniest screaming noise while she was playing with it. After munching it down, she later gave it back, but  was no worse for the wear.

2015 BV March115We have seen about 2 tiny rattle snakes in the 15 years we have lived there, so they are there. We had Kalev rattle snake trained, so she is alert. The cats just eat them. They also catch gophers. The squirrels are too much for them, so we have help catching them and the raccoons. Scardy Kitty got stuck in the trap one morning. He was quite irritated as he waited patiently for me to figure out how to open it.

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Country life doesn’t appeal to everyone, but city slickers, Vince and Marsha wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

 

 

Reward: What Does It Mean To Me?

I think accomplishments reward me.

2015 ride home126Frankly there is no reward great enough to recompense a person for the amount of effort they put into a project.  For example, why blog? Is it because someone rewards you? Of course not. Most of us blog to communicate with the world, to share what’s happening that’s important to us. My last blog told the story of  Bob’s old barn, I fell in love with it just in time – it’s coming down. It was rewarding to take pictures and tell the story.

2015 Hengst Barn106I took the picture below of this same path Saturday on my way home from Visalia. It has changed. History is all about change. Today it looks like this.

2015 ride home128This crane cleared out olive trees, and the barn will come down soon to make way for a new field of fruit trees.

Today I met with a friend, Laile Di Silvestro, today who is helping me heal a sick and injured website for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies. My reward for the three and a half hours that we labored is a website that works a little better, a closer relationship with a talented and generous person, and –  totally unrelated, but I’m counting it as a reward – beautiful weather giving me scenery to photograph.

2015 ride home110Seriously, you’d think it was mid-summer in Montana to look at that sky. It’s a bit chilly, but not enough to deter anyone. We’ve all been praying for rain. That would be a reward.

2015 ride home105A few of these clouds rewarded us with a light drizzle, but not much rain. Most of our water comes from wells pumped from underground aquifers or nearby irrigations ditches.

 

2015 ride home104These pumps may not look beautiful, but water is a huge reward.

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And we are rewarded by food, not only for us but for the cows that provide one of my favorite foods – cheese. Tulare County is one of the largest dairy producing counties in the world. We probably have more cows here than we have people. Most of them live near Visalia and Hanford in large dairies of up to 5,000 cows. Talk about a lot of work. If you don’t like cheese, it might not seem like such a great reward, but I love it.

2015 ride home119This is the dairy I used to pass everyday on my way to and from work.

2015 ride home117Those cows probably aren’t praying for rain, but I’m guessing that the people who live in this house on that dairy farm are.  I hope they get their reward. 🙂

 

For more entries about rewards click here.

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: My Favorite Things, Chorus

When Tule Fog hits the Woodlake Valley, the best thing to do is stay home until visibility is better. By ten o’clock this morning the fog had dissipated some, and I wanted to do something fun.  I grabbed my camera and walked around the yard with no intentions, but to have fun in the fog.

Black BirdsI found this black bird on the spoon handle waiting for the four-and nineteen others to join him to bake in the pie. Little does he know what awaits him. We learned this song in nursery school, and sang it to the next generation.  Do you remember it? I found two tunes. Which did you learn?

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocket full of rye.

Four and twenty blackbirds,

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,
The birds began to sing;
Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
To set before the king?
The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.
They sent for the king’s doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.
Bird Encounter
This doggie scarecrow that guards our garden didn’t fare so well with his nose.The birds chewed his ear, too. Invisible seams didn’t happen. Maybe the doctor couldn’t see in the fog, or maybe he, like the brave pup, was a little rusty. Hard to tell. 
For a more adult chorus to illustrate these pictures try Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire.”
Click the icon for more of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Entries. 
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Practicing Descriptive Writing Here – Brain Fog? – No, Real Fog!

It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.

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If you can get away from it, fog is beautiful. This week Debbie Simorte, my Girls on Fire editor, asked me how the weather in Visalia could be sunny and foggy at the same time, like that was a Kansas City impossibility. When I drove to Los Angeles this weekend for a meeting, I had to drive almost to Tejon Pass before I found an example of what sunny fog looked like. Visalia had no sun that day, only fog. The freeway, I5 South, split the fog in half as it curled up for a nap against the mountains north of the Grapevine.

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As I drove south, the light haze on east side of the freeway foretold of the clear skies awaiting me in Los Angeles. The beauty of the graduated fading fog enticed me off the freeway long enough to snap these pictures before I continued on my trip. I didn’t move much from one spot as I rotated from east to west to capture the entire scene for you.

My favorite feathering of fog

My favorite feathering of fog

Tinkerbell should be in this picture somewhere sprinkling magical fairy dust in the mountain canyons. It seemed unreal to me.

fog3 The arc of fog needed a rainbow marking its border, but none appeared. It remained stark white. Fog tried to bar the sun from entering the valley.  At about two in the afternoon the sun tried to burn a hole in the clouds as it had already done on the east side of the freeway. I couldn’t stay to see if it succeeded.
I

 

 

Not a dense fog
Not a dense fog

I stood behind the tree and tried to shoot up at the sun, but the effect didn’t please me.

foggy night
foggy night

I left the meeting at 4:29 PM the next day in a rush to get over the Grapevine while it was still light. Dropping into the Central Valley, the fog greeted me. It probably had never left. At at night fog no longer felt benign. I took this picture through my dirty windshield as I ripped through the fog approaching Bakersfield, I must have plowed the clouds away. On a closer inspection microdrops of dust on my windshield remained as a calling card of the fleeing mist. I look straight ahead. I could see clearly now. When I looked to my left, there it was. It hovered just off the freeway at a gas station ready to pounce on me again. Once Bakersfield’s lights no longer protected my car and me from the fog, the sky dropped puffs of translucent cotton air onto the road. My car became a vacuum cleaner sucking in white dust bunnies. The stronger the suction, the thicker the fog became. By the time I turned off the freeway onto a country road, I could see only three lines ahead of me. A car passed me going the other direction. I counted to six as I watched him in my rearview mirror, and poof, he was gone. Fog turned the roads I know so well into a strangers.

For those of you who have never experienced Valley fog, this is a taste of what the natives call “Tule fog.” How do you describe the fog in your area?

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.