Author Archives: sharontb

Photography: Pattern

patterns web

 

In the last post I featured a photo that caught my eye based on the texture of the plant.  This plant was right next to it, also in a concrete wash next to Jay’s parents house, but in this case I was struck by the interesting pattern of the leaves and their shadows.

Photography: Texture

fuzzy plant close up web

 

My style of photography is one in which I focus on the basics of texture, color, contrast, and patterns in nature.  Rather than capturing a scene, I usually prefer to compose a close up image that highlights one of these characteristics, sometimes obscuring the actual subject.  In particular, I like to draw attention to something beautiful or unique in the day to day landscape.  For example, the plant pictured above is probably just a weed, which was growing out of the concrete wash next to Jay’s parents house.  The plant drew my attention with the great contrasting textures of the thin stiff green stems and the fluffy soft exploding seed pods.

The Attention Getting Hummingbird

hummingbird close up web

The exact opposite of the quail, the hummingbird is surprisingly easy to photograph.  Their high pitched call is very attention getting, and as soon as you learn it you will be able to spot hummingbirds darting around the desert.  Although most people think about hummingbirds as quick creatures in constant motion, they actually spend a lot of time just sitting on Ocotillo or Palo Verde, practically posing.  I wonder if the quail and the hummingbirds have worked out a deal, because it seems like when I am stalking quail for a picture, I get dive bombed by hummingbirds diverting my attention.  A high pitched squeal, a bright flash of color, and a small bird whizzing by your head is very successful at distracting you from the bumbling bird hiding in the bushes.  I wonder what the quail offers the hummingbird in return?

The Elusive Quail

quail

 

As long time readers know, I enjoy bird watching and have spent much of the last year and a half learning how to photograph birds.  Throughout that time I have never been able to get a clear decent picture of a quail.  This photo from the Phoenix Mountain Preserve is the closest I have gotten.  Quail look goofy and walk around on the ground in a way that suggests that they would be easy to catch.  Not so.  For how unsophisticated they seem, they are actually masterful at hiding in the bushes and quickly darting from one safe cover to another, successfully avoiding predators as well as birdwatchers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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We enjoyed this first Thanksgiving a married couple with Jay’s family. As we toasted to family, our thoughts were also with our family members who have passed away. Hope this holiday found you well and surrounded by love.

My career as bamboo

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Today I visited my old office at Coconino Community Services. This was my first real job, in terms of being a full time employee. I loved it there and was pretty upset when the recession started in 2008 and I fell into the trap of last hired, first let go. Luckily my new job has me back in Flagstaff, working with my old office as a community partner. It feels like I am right where I should be and that the crazy route that got me here somehow makes sense. When I visited today, Sherri reminded me that when I left 4 years ago, I gave her my bamboo plant. Sherri has nurtured that plant and now it reaches above the window frame! It feels like a symbol of the growth that I have undergone in the last 4 years.

Zen and the Art of Dusting

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AmeriCorps member Rachel dusting at Riordan Mansion

 

One of the great things about my current position as an AmeriCorps program coordinator is that I can more effectively do my job by being an active community member.  Last weekend I was able to see two AmeriCorps members in action when I volunteered at the Rug Auction.  This week I stopped by Riordan Mansion on Tuesday and helped with their cleaning day.  Our AmeriCorps member Rachel showed me the art of dusting and we teamed up to dust the west wing of the house.  Dusting is a lot like pulling invasive weeds.  At first it seems like a chore, but then you get into it and you are in this moment of zen, making the world a better place.  By the end you are just obsessed, not able to put down your tools until every last speck of dust has been cleared.  Also, like weeding, dusting allows you a chance to chat and catch up with other volunteers.  Now if it was only that interesting to dust my own house!

A Favorite Recipe : Fettucine with Swordfish

Fettucine with swordfish (photo from Martha Stewart website)

Tonight I had the opportunity to make one of my favorite recipes, Fettucine with Swordfish.  I discovered this southern Italian comfort food on the Everyday Food website a couple of years ago.  Craving this meal for a couple of weeks now, Jay called around to all the local grocery stores in Flagstaff looking for swordfish.  No luck.  Since we ended up coming to Phoenix, we saw our chance and were able to go to Whole Foods to get all the best ingredients.  Mmmm…..

Check out the recipe and a great instructional video on how to make it, HERE.

Navajo Rug Auction

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This afternoon, as snow started falling throughout Flagstaff, Jay and I were volunteering inside, at the Coconino Center for the Arts.  Once a year they host a rug auction of authentic Navajo handcrafted rugs.  There were 250 rugs, varying from small rugs the size of a large book to large area rugs that required three men to hold them up for show.  Our job was to be Vanna White, parading the beautiful rugs in front of the audience as the auctioneer rattled off details and pressure to buy.  It was an interesting experience.  I definitely gained a new appreciation for these well crafted weavings.

Squirrel!

Abert Squirrel at the park near our house

After surviving Super Storm Sandy in northern Virginia and leaving the east when it was 40 degrees and raining, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Flagstaff was experiencing beautiful fall weather.  High 60’s and low 70’s with plenty of sun.  We got back into the Flagstaff groove by going for a hike in our own neighborhood.  I’m always amazed at how you can get on to a narrow trail in the woods only minutes from your house.  Pictured is one of our favorite woodland creatures that we spotted near Buffalo Park.  This squirrel is unique to our area.  There is a great children’s book written about him called Rascal – The Tassel-Eared Squirrel.