Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bobby McFerrin and Friends Omega 2012

Bobby McFerrin Omega Institute Circlesongs 2012
August 2012 Omega Institute Circlesongs workshop with Bobby McFerrin,
Judy Donaghy, Christiane Karam,
Joey Blake, David Worm, and Rhiannon (aka WeBe3)
+ 200 amazing students
...literal lessons about how to listen, how to lead and how to follow. 
Singing without a net. 
Music improvisation is like gardening -- Rich with metaphor
It illustrates nearly every true thing in the world.

See the gallery at Circlesongs-2012 Omega Institute

Learning to sing out loud

Monday, August 6, 2012

Say YES for Abdi at the Embassy In Nairobi

Abdi Iftin
This is our friend Abdi a journalist from Somalia now living in Kenya. 
He has done some amazing reporting from Somalia under the most difficult circumstances. On Wednesday this talented young man goes to the US Embassy in Nairobi for his student visa interview to see if he can come to Southern Maine Community College to re-start his college education.  A group of us, supporters and friends, have written to our congress people, sent letters, and now are holding up a light of hope.
At 9:30 am Nairobi time (or 2:30 am EST) he will attend his interview and find out if he can continue his start toward being a professional journalist. 
Hold him in the light and if you want to hear his amazing stories go to his podcasts heard on good public radio
"The Story" with Dick Gordon. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Duchess of Chickens

Duchess of Devonshire feeding her chickens. Photo by Bruce Weber
Welcome new chickens! 
Two Black sex-linked and four Plymouth Rock pullets. A pullet is a teenaged chicken, in between fluffy chicks and egg-laying hens.   If all goes well we might be eating the most expensive eggs ever.  
We are socializing them by bringing treats, teaching them about the dog aka their protector, and to come when called.

This picture, The Duchess of Devonshire, illustrates my delight with the whole process of Chicken-ing.  I am working on the outfit.  Thanks to Sally Kohler for bringing it to my attention. I am honored it made her think of me.  Here is a poem to go with it.

Woman Feeding Chickens-- by Roy Scheele 
Her hand is at the feedbag at her waist, 
sunk to the wrist in the rustling grain 
that nuzzles her fingertips when laced 
around a sifting handful. It's like rain, 
like cupping water in your hand, she thinks, 
the cracks between the fingers like a sieve, 
except that less escapes you through the chinks 
when handling grain. She likes to feel it give 
beneath her hand's slow plummet, and the smell, 
so rich a fragrance she has never quite 
got used to it, under the seeming spell 
of the charm of the commonplace. The white 
hens bunch and strut, heads cocked, with tilted eyes, 
till her hand sweeps out and the small grain flies. 

 "Woman Feeding Chickens" by Roy Scheele, from A Far Allegiance. © The Backwaters Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy music & Goat Rodeos

Bluegrass music & Yo Yo Ma? Someone isn't sticking to their genre and then you know what happens? ...... Something cool and creative

Here is a leap up and dance song called "here and heaven"

The group is called "Goat Rodeo" and they explain the term as follows--

A Goat Rodeo aka Goat Rope, is a term worth knowing.  It is the most polite term used by aviation people (those in high risk situations) to describe a scenario that requires about 100 things to go right simultaneously if you intend to walk away from it.  As in "that workshop was a goat rodeo" 

 It speaks to the miraculous alignments that can happen occasionally when things work-- the music sounds good, the paper reads itself, the people all smile, the pilot doesn't die, the food is fresh and tasty, and more. When we are part of creating these miracles it may look/feel a lot more like a Goat rodeo than a symphony.

The chorus...
"have we all forgotten that we’re getting old"

Speaking of a Goat Rodeo, well aging is a lot like that.  Lets get old dancing, way outside our boxes and comfort zones. Try something different!

Have something like-minded or like-manifested to share?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RIP chickens! Hello Fox

Chickens chasing bugs 
A yard dance
A moment so perfect comes as
wide gaited she lobbles along until in mid-air she stretches
and snatches catching a mosquito
That is my girl!

RIP Chickens. 
They went down... ALL of them to a mother fox in one afternoon.
They disappeared without a trace
O O O O O Oh oh the vagaries of nature and who who who 
do we root for?

We are getting more chickens, pullets this time. God knows by now the value of each egg.

Tigger the cat watches the flock through the fence
Golden Laced Wyandotte
Plymouth Rock
Mother fox and kits have begun to venture from the den. Those of us living in her range speak of our sightings, check our fences, and call in the cats.
It is a jungle out here in Maine.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Location location location- mother barn swallows

Bugs come to light
This is my summer of barn swallows, Hirundo rustica. I find them everywhere I go. Perhaps a totem?

In my own barn the female has built a nest between two lights that serve our driveway. She looks like a pilot at the helm of a big machine.  At first she flew out each time we crossed into our barn. Seemed like a silly place to nest if you are human phobic. Then one evening as I went to feed the chickens I realized that the lights were attracting insects up into her nest. Food delivered bedside!

For a historical review and fun facts about the symbolism of barn swallows go to symbolism of barn swallows-- here--  "Swallows are often associated with stars and therefore the souls of the dead. Chapter 86 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead specifically instructs the deceased on how to transform into a swallow."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Graduation: Morgan McDonnell

Graduation - Images by Sharon McDonnell

Graduation! We all did it. We survived the tuition, the sweet scary changes, and three hours in the sun.  
Enjoyed the people especially family and roomates. 
Uncle Steve has a cat call that was heard by all of Clark University.  Uncle Pat conducted statistical analysis of graduation program. Note: No names of European descent among the financial economists. In fact, inverse association of sciences with European names. Sixty four percent women.
Boy launched to man.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chick journal- FAQ's week 1.5

Portrait of a Golden laced Wyandotte chick

Chick of Golden Laced Wyandotte in grass
Questions about chicks-- By popular demand. FAQ's for week 1.5
1. The chicks are nearly three times the size they were compared to when they first arrived at ~ 4 days old.
2. They change from being chicks to pullets by adding feathers. In the past few days we have seen new feathers added to the few they have on each side of their bodies.   In the gallery included you can see which are older as little epaulets become wing-lets.
3. The are beginning to grow the very first little hints of tail feathers. Look at this chicks "tail" in the second picture. You can see a bit of fluffiness and brushy look to the feathers there (just barely). This is from some feathers coming in underneath and the change in the feathers/down at their backsides.
4. They are practicing perching and flying - or some combination - by flapping and jumping to scare and surprise each other.  They leap across the cage into the crowd of their sister chicks ... landing with peep-outbursts.
5. They always walk through their food first, balancing in it and feeling it squeeze between their reptilian toes.
6. Food is more fun, apparently, if stolen from your sister after a chase. It matters not if there is a plate of it-- cheeping and stealing is great game.

More chicks in the gallery for those who love them.  CHICKS HERE

Share your chick stories and help construct tell us when to expect what as they mature.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring chickens: little things to save the earth

Rhode Island Red chick sleeping in the spring Phox
Americans have taken to chickens with a earnest vengeance. With the seriousness of intention -- "I want to make a difference" -- a difference in the environment, the food chain, or our relationship to nature -- and the pleasure experienced when that something is chickens. More of us every day are adding these funny productive birds to our homes. For those of us first-timers our chicks are arriving this month. Lots of crazy peeping coming from new homes and more of us falling under their spell.

Here is a chicky slide show to celebrate.... Enjoy!
Spring Chicks - Images by Sharon McDonnell

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dressing for spring: Goldfinch breeding colors

Photographers journal

On goldfinch turning yellow.....
I'm sorry I do not have a way to salute the coming of spring-- like the goldfinches sudden brilliant yellow patches that turn it into a canary yellow bird.
Instead spring urges me to plant and dig dirt --
I think turning into a different color would be easier in the long run.
I could pick a different color each spring!
Spring is high hopes".   
                  ----Gay McDonnell Bumgarner,  Photographer 
                       March 1980

I remember in the spring we used to wear bonnets, new dresses with big crinkly slips. Or, perhaps little suits and ties.  Was it our goldfinch-ness perhaps, that same urge to show our colors, to look bright, maybe act like a tulip?  Blooming.
Check out more goldfinches to see their winter and spring outfits.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The first chorus of spring: Peepers

Frog show - Images by Sharon McDonnell

On March 20-- exactly the spring equinox
the amphibian universe activated in Maine
The biological chorus switched on.

The air is wet and cool, sweet with spring and as our car travels
through the tunnel of light down Sligo road
Cued by rising temperature and enough hours of light
the earths' quickening comes as harmony

The Spring Peepers aka "pinkletinks" or tinkletoes
sing A hue and cry,
Hallaluah! the love songs of frogs and toads
sweet enough to break your heart

Here in Maine they hibernate until spring and
when they emerge the nights are capricious
but the frogs can freeze and recover.

It is magic and even if it is not
it is

When the conditions are right they move
to the edges of lakes and wetlands
Males call to the females who listen very carefully to their songs and then decide which to join.

If you click on the "Play Button" you can hear
Songs of the army or the knot (the official name of a group!)

In the audio files below they can give the song for each type of frog and toad.
Interesting....Did you know that what a frog says and
how it says it depends on what it is trying to communicate!
Imagine what we are missing because we do not speak any frog!

If you want to see more frogs and toads search the website
or check previous posts on one of our favorite animals.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gorgeous the piglet & photographers trunks

Living around photographers

Gorgeous the Pot belly piglet

According to Nancy shepherd owner of "Pig O my Heart" a farm in central Missouri, This wonderful little piglet is named Gorgeous and she is is a Potbelly. (Link to Pig o my Heart) Nancy wrote to say "I remember so well Gay coming  here to photograph a complete litter.  It was so much fun watching her work.  As I recall for this one she brought a piece of sod and we placed in on top of the picnic table so that we could get the beautiful background of sky and pasture"

Note to reader-- it is well worth a careful look in the trunk of a photographers car.  One can find bits of sod, dead possums (more on that later), food for low blood sugar or to appease animals for photos, model and property releases, cloth for backdrops, a towel, odd bits of equipment, a box to hold special found things, etc etc. In fact I am sure it would be interesting to see what photographers consider absolutely necessary equipment to do what they do.

Pigs make wonderful subjects for photos. They are game, willing, expressive, and cute.  They can even pose for photos and if you don't believe me see Jezebel posing for show.  She is just one of the amazing Showpig photos from Nancy's ranch.

Let us know if you have a caption for Gorgeous or any questions.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines Day: Science and Flowers

"Solitude" winner of 1993 Americana rose competition

Scientists report that women and men who receive flowers smile more, talk more and stand closer together than when given a gift of fruit, pens, or candles. And, the more flowers they get, the more smiles. “Our hypothesis,” said a Rutgers researcher, “is that flowers are exploiting an emotional niche "they induce positive emotions so we take care of them. In that sense they're like dogs. They are the pets of the plant world.” 

Here is a flower for you that won’t wilt or fade.

Happy Valentines Day!
Wild roses

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Raccoon Nation -- Our mischievious friends

Woodland Animals -Raccoons

Tonight the PBS shows "Raccoon Nation" a story of the evolution of raccoons. The idea is that they are getting smarter and adapting to the environment-- Thanks to us.
We see them every day and yet know little about them.
Meanwhile see our gallery of the raccons

Watch the slide show for some interesting raccoon photos or click on them and go to the gallery. Then see the summary article in NYT or Canadian broadcasting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In praise of barnswallows- a view of parenting

Its March 1983 outside Columbia Missouri on north Highway 63

Barn swallow mother perches on rim of nest
In a cold barn the photographer sits in the dark
practicing quiet trying to stay warm and explore good ways to unobtrusively light the spidery scratchy place so that she can see something... anything ...
some action besides the top of a black head high up in a nest on the barn rafter.

This action or change occurs in brief surprises in-between very long periods of no action For some days she has watched from a loft across and above her head as the nest was recycled Cleaned and lined with new mud and some of mother birds own indigo feathers. Then eggs were laid, one each day and, glory be! None of the awful predators came.

Each day the watcher/waiter/photographer climbs into her place and two females sit in a cold barn
one on eggs and the other in hay with a camera
Again and again-- like a fighter jet she swoops in carrying food

watching, dreaming, and incubating the one on the nest has come to accept / tolerate the the other
Barn swallows, Hirundo rustica, have thrived with the human race.  They once lived in caves but now there are barns and porches all increasing in number

Mother carries food to the noisy nestlings
One morning there is shell on the barn floor and weak squeaking above she climbs and watches breathless from her loft the nestlings grow in their demands, exponentially
The mother becomes a flying carrier service
catering to growing mouths.
They are a chorus, parsons or judges, always above her, looking down, looking demonic and ridiculous
Soon they are nearly her size and their wide open mouths are endless.  The photographer is reminded of parenting. Her own children wouldn't like the affinity she feels with this tiny  straining bird.

Barn swallows wait on a barbed wire fence for the evening bugs
The birdlings grow beyond the nest, bursting its limits.  Always one will take off first.  Maybe it hates crowds, maybe it is not quite "right" and has fallen or been pushed,  maybe it is restless or impatient, or simply believes flying can't be that hard.  One will always fledge, 'trying his wings' on the long drop, but may not be ready to fly.
Those around barn swallows have come to expect at least one babe will fall or fail flying each year and not just once.  With luck these people have learned and have and the means to re-place them in the nest or protect them from the cats (check out Baby barn swallow stories)
Barnswallow feeds fledge
Soon they all fledge and for the next two weeks parenting is on the wing.

Later, it is one of those summer evenings when the tree frogs are a choir, the air is a bit cooler, the grass is up, and after dinner we wait for the lightening bugs. The barn swallows and bats wait for the mosquitoes to lift off the fields.

I am reminded of a comment my aunt Mary Bumgarner made when my son was new born. In an amused but knowing voice she said, "The thing about parenting is that it is so daily."

For a lovely set of references about the barn swallow including short essays by people that have lived around them I highly recommend this site: excellent summary facts about barnswallows

Stay tuned we will create a gallery of Barn swallows.


Love the faces: more barnswallows

            Moments--in Between the  eating --               
They seem sated and look both earnest and ridiculous
Barn swallows -- Notes from the Photographer
Wednesday June 20, 1984 (Blue book page 102)

I put the blind in the barn loft about 10 am & the birds started coming in right away.
What a good idea! There are at least 3 nests. The nest I watched had 5 babes and they were huge. I had more fun watching them than any birds yet. They followed bugs and wasps and flies with their eyes – watched the horses – called their parents – stood on nest edge and whirred their wings.

Two babes fledged – flew to a beam, sat awhile, and then back to the nest.  The parents usually feed fast, on the wing.

The parents occasionally give a special chirp and all babes become statues in whatever position they are in – like the game “statues” except they usually shrink down in size. A fun experience. I was 6 feet 8 inches in the hay loft and used 60 power zoom.

Note from the editor: Barn swallows are beloved by many in blogland. If you want to read more or see more of the pictures see the previous stories -- More barn swallows.


Monday, January 30, 2012

What are these called?

There is a group of animals that I do not know how to categorize.  For example, When you search for a picture of a wild animal you expect to see this

or maybe this

But you do not expect to see this

or this

Ok, so the latter group is a problem. We love these guys. They are not pets, they are not domesticated, they are wild but....??  It may seem like a trivial problem really, something that a good librarian, or veterinarian could tidy up and at the very least apply some good nouns and viola' --all is well.  But, alas, google and its friends are photo-blind, seeing only a box, an empty box, or an "object" where there is a picture.   So, to create eyes and windows we use Categories & keywords -- wrapping these gorgeous, silly, educational, friendly and familiar creatures in pictures with words.

Most stock photo agencies, professional photo buyers, and even regular folk agree about how they would categorize most animals.  Right or wrong image websites offer pets, wild animals, and farm (or agriculture) animals. As one creative director said -- there are the ones you shoot, the ones we eat, and the ones we adopt and treat like children." Granted there is a bit of slippage across cultures but by and large given a photo of a cow or an elephant we know how to categorize them.

But then one is left with the opossum, raccoons, the "garden deer", foxes, turtles, squirrels, etc..... We have an extraordinary collection of images showing baby and adult animals that I cannot seem to categorize.  They are "wild" but when placed in that category it is clear that the person searching for wild animals isn't looking for a smiling possum.
If keywords are the way people find pictures and search engines make them available it is important to word-ify these creatures to help them and us.

To solve this problem I started asking people --- image buyers, photographers children, biologists, marketers, and frankly anyone that would bear up to it three different questions.
1. Do you think possums, hedgehogs, squirrels, groundhogs, turkeys, and raccoons are "wild" animals?
2. If you were searching for pictures of "wild animals" and  images of a raccoon came up would you disagree.
2. What would you call this group of animals to differentiate them from cattle, pigs, dogs, elephants, and kittens-- the farm animals, wild animals, and pets or just cute?

Here are the suggestions so far....Yard animals,
.....garden animals.... pests......mid-size animals, wild animals, short-range animals, familiar animals, animals of fields and meadows, storybook animals (?), Wind in the Willows animals, animals that hang around bird feeders,animals that eat from my garden, animals that seem to thrive despite or because of people.  More suggestions, please.

Sharon and all from Mother-Daughter Press

Click here to see more "Yard animals"