Crowblocked!

I have a fifty tits of grey post lined up, but a quick interlude about predators, social birds, and cooperation.

I think I didn’t mention it here, but this winter, I started leaving walnuts out for the crows – leftovers from years past that we found in the storage room, but still good. To be honest, this started when I noticed a ragtag group of corvids (crows, jays and magpies – not explaining the word ‘corvid’, all three were members of this loose affiliation of walnut aficionados) eating the few nuts we had straight from the tree. It was a small crop anyway, so I don’t feel too bitter about it…

Getting rid of the evidence on the neighbours’ roof…
(c) rq, all rights reserved

Thief, caught red-beaked. (c) rq, all rights reserved

Just taking a stroll… (c) rq, all rights reserved

Anyway, I started feeding them through the cold snowy months, and while the jays and magpies haven’t been sticking around, there’s a small flock of 4 or 5 crows (family group?) that regularly cleans out the (much cheaper, if buying) peanuts.

[Read more…]

Patterns in Ice

From Avalus,

A muddy, frozen puddle by the roadside.
Boring, one might say.

©Avalus, all rights reserved

But, what interesting patterns in the ice, indicating the shrinking liquid underneath.
Let’s look closer.

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Structures emerge between the layers!
Let’s look even closer.

©Avalus, all rights reserved

The ice sheet that seemed so uniform from afar is structured, almost like cathedral glass, from many tiny crystals of ice.
Everywhere, there is beauty in the universe.
(This was pretty much my thought process when I came by that frozen puddle. That, and my cold feet, reminding me of my poor choice of shoes I took for that walk :D)

Fungi Friday

It’s unusual to find mushrooms in the winter, but Avalus has a good eye and found a few to share with us. Enjoy.

Here are some photos I took over the last few days of January mushrooms.

These two I found in front of the department building. I really like the colour of their tops, they look like leather. The undersides look fascinating too. (photos 1 & 2)

Yesterday we had some snow as well and today I found this little fella, poking out the fresh snow. (photo 3)

Photo 1, ©Avalus, all rights reserved.

Photo 2, ©Avalus, all rights reserved.

Photo 3, ©Avalus, all rights reserved.

Merry Holymas

Merry whatever you celebrate. I personally would not mind a little war on Christmas, I hate the holiday and everything it officially stands for (hint- it does not stand for love and family, that is most people’s personal addition). But I love the winter solstice and the promise of longer days and shorter nights again. We had an extremely warm bud muddy and gloomy fall so far, but today, finally, winter has begun for real – we had our first real snowfall of this year.  That has cheered me up ever so slightly.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I might have to dust off the snow of the bonsai trees, if it gets wet, it could break them.

Winterfest Photofest

Welcome to the last day of our Winterfest Photofest. I know you’ll enjoy this last set of pictures that all have a quiet, contemplative quality.

 

First, more delicious photos by Dan Cates, who was introduced to us yesterday. I think Dan’s photos have a lovely, tranquil feel to them, and this grouping is no exception.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

 

Next, two evocative and moody photos from the camera of Marcus Ranum (Stderr)

Fall ice in the yard ©Marcus Ranum, all rights reserved.

Ice on the pond ©Marcus Ranum, all rights reserved

 

Finally, a serene and perfectly titled photo from JacqueG.

Ice Candles©JacqueG, all rights reserved.

I’d like to thank everyone who submitted photos and made Winterfest such a success. I’d also like to thank everyone who made donations to our Winterfest fundraising campaign. If you haven’t done that yet and would like to contribute, you can do so here.

I’d also like to remind everyone that Affinity loves getting photo submissions any time of the year, so if you have any photos you’d like to share, please feel free to send them in. Our address is always in the left sidebar, underneath the colourful percolating head.

 

Join Jack and voyager for a walk in the woods.

This is my first attempt at making a video, and it shows. The Pace is slow, it’s a bit rough in places and there’s some wind noise in the background that I couldn’t get rid of. It’s been a pretty steep learning curve for me, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I had planned to add a bit of music, but I couldn’t find anything that I liked better than the sound of rustling leaves, so the soundtrack is just us walking with a bit of commentary from me. I had also hoped to end the video with Jack and I singing, but Jack’s been under the weather and hasn’t been in the mood to make music. He is slowly improving, though, so perhaps next month we’ll make another short movie full of raucous, rollicking fun.

I hope you can get a sense of how much both Jack and I enjoy walking in the woods.

 

 

Winterfest Photofest

Welcome! Today we have 2 submissions that are all about looking at things close up, including a few birds and a wannabe bird at the end who will make you smile. Let’s go take a look.

First, a well-captured, tall bird with beautiful amber eyes from Pieter L. Harreman.  It reminds me of the heron who lives in or park, but the white hghlights of this bird make him look more dapper and elegant.

©Pieter L. Harreman, all rights reserved.

**********

Next, a set of photos full of pattern and texture from the camera of Dan Cates. (you’ll be seeing more of Dan’s photos tomorrow on our Winterfest wrap-up)

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.A

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

©

©Don Cates, all rights reserved.

Thanks to you both for taking the time to send these photos in. They all make wonderful additions to our Winterfest collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Winterfest Photofest

Welcome back. The first set of photos today is wildly creative and comes from the mind and camera of Avalus. I’ll let him explain,

I don’t have a Christmas tree at home, but in the lab, a reaction I did today provided a splendid alternative. Here are some glittery fotos. Below them, I will go a bit into the details of what you see there. 

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

These shiny metal balls are beads of molten potassium sitting on top and inside of a potassium alcoholate/alcohol compound (the white crystalline, snowlike stuff) that slowly dissolves into the boiling hexane.

What happens here is that the potassium replaces the hydrogen of the OH group of the alcohol, forming a potassium-alcoholate and gaseous hydrogen, so the metal will slowly disappear over the next few days. In the end, the resulting potassium alcoholate will be liquid at room temperature, which is pretty cool, because most alcoholates are solids with high melting points.

This stuff will be used in my PhD research of weird alkalimetal organic complexes.

©Avalus, all rights reserved.

An accidental self-portrait on a liquid metal surface, warped by passing of hexane, running down the walls of the vessel.

Have a good (and maybe science-y) holiday season, everybody!

 

*******

The next set of photos today are all about texture and pattern, and they come from the camera of our own Charly.

©Charly, all rights reserved

©Charly, all rights reserved

©Charly, all rights reserved

 

*******

Lastly is a compelling group of landscape photos sent in by Peter Lindsay. Peter lives in southwestern Manitoba (Canada) and tells us that the landscape there is quite unique. Peter does photography in every season but notes that winter is a favourite time of year. They also tell us that they’re fond of loan trees, which I’m sure you’ll note in these stunning pictures. Peter has sent us a link to their pubic Flickr site, which I encourage you to check out. The collection is brimming with delicious landscapes from around the world that are well worth seeing.

Dec. 1, 2020, ©Peter Lindsay, all rights reserved.

Dec. 2, 2018, ©Peter Lindsay, all rights reserved.

Dec. 22, 2018,. ©Peter Lindsay, all rights reserved.

Dec. 25, 2019, ©Peter Lindsay, all rights reserved.

Thanks to all three of you for sending in these photos.

 

 

Winterfest Photofest

Today’s photographs all speak to the blanketing beauty of fresh snow.

First, we have a tranquil snow scene sent in by Kelvin L. Woelk.

©Kelvin L. Woelk, all rights reserved

 

Next, some a few shots of this year’s first snowfall from our very own Charly.

©Charly, all rights reserved

©Charly, all rights reserved

 

Finally, some quiet landscape shots full of pattern, taken in central or west-central Minnesota by Mark Hesse.

The one titled Hoarfrost was taken in Morris, MN, home of FTB’s own PZ Myers.”

Ice Houses ©Mark Hesse, all rights reserved

Hoarfrost,©Mark Hesse, all rights reserved

Ornaments,©Mark Hesse, all rights reserved

Big Stone,©Mark Hesse, all rights reserved

Thanks for taking the time to send in your photos.

 

 

Winterfest Photofest

We’ve been getting lots of submissions, so I have a few photos to share with you today.

First, two fascinating photos sent in by Sheila Crosby who tell us,

Just to be a bit different.
INTSnow is the Isaac Newton Telescope  To the best of my knowledge it’s the biggest telescope that’s ever been moved. It opened on the south coast of England in 1968, then they shut it down in 1979 and moved it to La Palma in the Canary Islands where it reopened in 1983. It’s my favourite telescope because I met my husband in the control room there.
WHTsnow is the William Herschel telescope. When I worked there it was the biggest in Europe, with a main mirror 13ft in diameter. Now it’s dwarfed by S¡Gran Telescopio Canarias, but I don’t think I have a snowy photo of that. one.
The observatory is only 28 º north of the equator, and the Canary Islands are a winter sun destination for much of Europe, but the observatory is at almost 8,000ft, so snow is fairly common in winter – less than it was 30 years ago though.
Sheila also has an interesting website, La Palma Island, that’s full of information about astronomy and the island itself. If you have a chance I encourage you to check it out.

INTSnow, ©Sheila Crosby, all rights reserved.

WHTSnow, ©Sheila Crosby, all rights reserved.

*****

Next, a beautiful home with a long driveway that speaks to the demands of winter from Suzanne Willis.

©Suzanne Willis, all rights reserved.

*****

Finally, we have a beautiful and engaging photo from Todd R. I love the look of wonder on the dog’s face.

Corgi in the Snow,©Todd R.

Thanks to everyone who has sent in photos. We’ll be seeing them all over the next few days, and there is still time to send us your submission to affinitysubmissions@gmail.com. The address is always on the left sidebar underneath the colourful, percolating head.

 

Jack’s Walk

Jack, March 23, 2020 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Can I go back to bed now, Mummy? ©voyager, all rights reserved

All that white stuff behind Jack is snow. Which is what it did here yesterday. Thankfully, it was all gone by this morning, and no shovelling was required, which made for a pleasant change. Despite the snow and cold, it’s definitely spring, and not just because the calendar says so. I know it’s spring because Jack has started his annual shed. You can see it starting on his shoulders just below his collar. See how it’s clumping into tufts. Soon those tufts will turn blondish and then they’ll fall out along with a tsunami of single untufted hairs, all of which will need to be vacuumed up if I don’t brush them out first. Luckily, we have super-powered brushing tools (Thanks, Marcus), but even deploying them daily won’t keep up. The more you brush Jack, the more hair it loosens up, and the more brushing he needs. You can spend half an hour at a time brushing Bubba and get a grocery bag full of hair and think you’re all good, and then an hour later, you could do it all over again. I had hopes that it wouldn’t be as bad this year because he didn’t seem to put on as much hair as usual, but if today is any indication, my brushing arm, which is also my vacuuming arm, is still going to get a good workout over the next month or so. I’ve included Jack’s photos from the start of winter below the fold in case you want to make a comparison.

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

See you in March. Photo by Janet B.

I’m leaving for Mexico tomorrow and won’t be back until the end of the month, so after today Jack’s Walk is on vacation until March 2. I’m going to a place called Jocotepec to help a friend pack up her house. She and her husband lived there for 12 years, but he died 2 years ago and Janet moved back home. She’s sold her house there and we’re going down to finish the paperwork and pack up the last of her things. It won’t be all work, though. We have a few interesting field trips planned, including an Iguana Park, a pyramid and a mud bath! We’ll also be going to Manzanillo for a few days because I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean and we could both use a little beach time. I’ll share the photos when we get home, but you may get the odd Postcard From Mexico while I’m away. No promises, though. I’m ready for a break.

I can promise that The Art of Book Design will be here every day as usual and I thought that Jack’s absence would be a good time to put up the next part of my Russia series, so there will be 2 or 3 posts published about our stay in Uglich. Be sure to look for those. I’ll see you all in March.