My webpage (inc. awards, upcoming events, etc.)

Monday, May 31, 2010

An American Tragedy, Pt. II

It's been a month since my last post about the oil spill in the Gulf, 51 days since this disaster began. As intimated in that post, we were lied to from the beginning. We did get news in gradually increasing doses of horror. You can bet your @$$ that BP knew the magnitude of this problem from day one (they and the company that would become Transocean have been through this exact, same thing before,) but they've been trying to minimize things since day one with great success.
At first the story was "no oil is leaking." Then it became, "okay, a little oil is leaking, but we can fix it." Then it was "um...a LOT of oil is leaking, but we're using toxic chemicals to disperse it (ineffectively,) while we still try to fix it." Now the only real option left--drilling relief wells--will take months. In the meantime, they're not even booming correctly.
In advance of Pres. Obama's arrival the other day, BP bussed in 400 extra workers to clean the beaches of Grand Isle. Once Obama was gone, so were they. BP calls this a "coincidence." I call it a dog and pony show.
Of course, our own government isn't innocent in all of this. In the recent past, the MMS was found to have been in bed with the oil industry they were charged to regulate. Even now, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen--employee of the citizenry of the U.S., charged with protecting our waters and coastlines--is little more than a mouthpiece for BP. This is called "treason."
If I throw a candy wrapper on the sidewalk I'd be charged with littering, but BP can foul an entire ecosystem (and potentially thousands of miles of coastline,) with little or no punishment whatsoever. If this isn't the sign of a Corpocracy, I don't know what is. Not only haven't they faced any kind of sanction, but they've been granted 2 more offshore drilling permits (with regulatory exemptions,) by the Dept. of the Interior.

There are international tribunals that prosecute crimes against humanity and if anything, this disaster goes way beyond humanity. Scores of animials and plants are already dead or dying. I fully expect to see our state bird (and previous conservation success,) the brown pelican, back on the endangered species list. Ancient oyster beds have been "closed" and I'm sure the coral reef near the site of the spill is already dead. Huge amounts of methane (which is many times worse than carbon dioxide, where global warming is concerned,) have been released to the atmosphere, where the damage will last for decades (if not centuries,) at least.
Hurricane season here starts tomorrow and due to BP and the complacent MMS's blatant disregard for anything beyond their own self-interest, all I can do is hope the entire Gulf is spared this year. Unfortunately, at this point I have precious little hope.





Friday, May 28, 2010

New Painting; Dancing Cranes

Dancing Cranes
24x12" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hubby's Latest Book

My superbly talented husband has a new book in print. From the blurb; "The stories of heroes are born, but they never die. They become legends. They become mythic. Bitter Steel is a collection of new myths and new fantasy adventures in the style of Robert E. Howard's classic fictional heroes, Kull, Conan, and Kane."
This is his 8th book, to date. Most of the others can be found on Amazon (and Barnes & Nobles, I think.) Just search for "Charles Gramlich." His poetry chapbook, "Wanting the Mouth of a Lover," is available here (in the right hand sidebar, about 1/4 of the way down the page.)
From his skillful storytelling to the lyrical tone of his prose, I can't recommend his work highly enough. Not that I'm biased, of course...

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Painting

Crowned Crane
24x18" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Random Shots (Updated)

I'm working on a painting of a crowned crane. In the meantime, here are a variety of shots from various local nature centers...

(Update, Dec. 3, 2010; This photo won 3rd Place in
Slidell Art League's "Xmas in the Depot" show.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Astronomically Speaking & A Cool Idea

A rare meeting of planets and spaceships is going on this weekend. Click the link for the details. In my area Sunday at 8:59pm is THE time to pop out for a gander. Although we desperately need the rain that we're forecast for the time, I hope we get a brief window to see the spectacle.

In other news, I wanted to mention something my blog-friend, Avery, is up to. She's writing "Junket City" Mad-Lib style; asking people for names, places, activities, etc. (& taking votes on actions,) which she then writes into the story. It's a really cool idea & has been fun & entertaining so far. Pop over (via the link provided,) to add your 2 cents!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Morning at Big Branch

We went to Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe, Louisiana bright & early last Sunday morning.

Much of the marsh around the boardwalk is covered with lily pads. Despite the plethora of flower buds, only a handful of flowers were open. I knew we'd have to come back someday when they were blooming.

The invasive bull thistle was blooming everywhere. The biggest bumblebees I've ever seen were busy collecting their pollen (there's also a spotted cucumber beetle on this one--click the image for a larger view.)

Around the boardwalk we saw some ducks (too distant to ID,) and lots of red-winged blackbirds. On the trail beyond we saw &/or heard all kinds of woodpeckers (inc. red-bellied, downy & the threatened red-cockaded,) a handful of brown-headed nuthatches, Eastern bluebirds, a crow being mobbed by a Northern mockingbird, a male Eastern towhee and a few Eastern kingbirds (pictured here.)

There were dozens of dragonflies, of course. In addition to the "usual" Eastern pondhawks, there were these Needham's skimmers & blue dashers.

This eggshell was also on the path, as was half of a mouse being devoured by ants (I'll spare y'all that picture, though.)

There were quite a few mason bees about (this is a female.) We also stumbled upon 2-3 North American river otters frolicking in the water, but my brain was too busy registering what I was seeing (for the 1st time,) to work my cameras. <:\

Returning to the boardwalk area on our way out, I was absolutely delighted to see that all of the lily flowers had opened to the sun!

Investigating a nearby boat launch on our way out, we were surprised to see the sign about the manatees. We'll have to get our hands on a canoe sometime!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fontainebleau & Good News

Since our weather was fantastic, Charles & I did a lot of hiking this weekend. Saturday afternoon we went to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, Louisiana.

One of many Eastern pondhawk dragonflies.

The base of this huge, uprooted tree has been transformed into a beehive.

One of a few blue crabs.

There was at least this one pair of common grackles.

One of hundreds of colorful minnows.

A pileated woodpecker.

One of the nature trails.

We also heard the local great horned owl & visited the bald eagle nest (although there's no activity there yet to see.) There was a handful of common moorhens, some red-headed woodpeckers, a common crow, a great egret and dozens of red-winged blackbirds.

In other news, I found out today that my golden orb weaver photo is a finalist in the Julia Margaret Cameron Award contest. As such, it will be featured in the Wonderpick Gallery and goes on to the finals.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Flatwoods, Etc.

Charles & I went for a hike at the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve the other day. Unfortunately my new computer wanted nothing to do with my Canon EOS Rebel & absolutely refuses to run my previous graphics program, but I finagled some work-arounds (for the time being, at least.) Warning; Windows 7 64-bit so far seems far more problematic than I'd hoped (but at least I have a working computer. Fortunately I'm somewhat of a computer whiz, or I would have torn out all of my hair by now...Not that it doesn't need another cut, anyway, but I digress...)

There were a few ebony jewelwings around the Abita Creek.

Last month the yellow pitcher plant flowers were in bloom.

This month the parrot pitcher flowers are out.

Grasses in the Abita Creek.

Our local pit viper, the Cottonmouth, one of the most venomous snakes in the U.S.

Web in the sun.

Some kind of neoscona (not the owner of the previous web.)

Carolina (aka; green) anole.

Eastern pondhawk.

We also saw a couple of prothonotary warblers and a male cardinal, but I didn't get any shots of them. There were dozens of birds singing all around, including red-bellied woodpeckers and Carolina wrens. Here's a video attempt at catching some of the singing. Drop me a comment if you can ID any birds from their songs!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birds & Changes (Updated)

Recent yard visitors include a pair of migrating rose-breasted grosbeaks & (this morning,) a great crested flycatcher. Unfortunately I can't post any pictures right now, as I'm working on a brand new computer. A recent virus/malware & improper system shutdown problem rendered my old computer virtually useless. I didn't transmit my problem to others, though, so don't worry about that.
I spent most of last night configuring the new computer (& getting used to Win7 instead of XP.) Transferring all of my old data to the new unit is a daunting task (I've saved EVERY photo I've taken since 2008 on that thing--at least the new computer has a 1TB HD!) I'm hoping the changeover will all be done by the end of the day, but it might take me a little longer. Please bear with me.

(Update, the end of the day; I've got everything changed over. Here's a picture of the rose-breasted grosbeaks...)

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