Saturday, March 30, 2024

Dirty Snow

Look at this faintly dirty snow photographed in a pristine area (not a parking area or highway) after our recent snowstorm - it shows that there are fine particulates in the air of which we're not usually aware. They're only visible here because of the contrast with the substrate on which they have landed. The uneven textured surface of the snow also highlights the discoloration.

The dirt could be soot from wood smoke, or dust and dirt from the roads, or other pollutants such as vehicle exhausts and old pesticides. Whatever it is, it's been carried down through the air by the snow and we're breathing it while our bodies do their best to filter it out.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Pretty Pattern

 A very pretty pattern up close ...

But a dreary sign of what's really going on outside ...

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Ice Art

Glistening landscapes

Of trees encrusted in ice

Like sculpted glass forms

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Is the Honeymoon Over?


These two adorables have been testing me! Our little darlings wake us during the night, either with disturbing-sounding vocalizing (Fluffalo), or extreme sports games in the wee hours (Peep). I love that they're having so much fun in their new environment, but I do wish they'd confine their Olympic cavorting and caterwauling to the daytime hours, and NOT when I'm sleeping!

After 4 weeks of adoring our 2 new feline houseguests, and wallowing in cat-cuteness, there have been days when I'm so tired that I feel as if I might burst into tears if one more thing is asked of me! It brings me back to parenting toddlers, and oh my! I no longer have the stamina for it.

Darling, pathetically-needy and loving Fluffalo has become my shadow. He DEMANDS contact. And heck, I must say I love it that he chooses ME.

But ... he's been tailing Dallas (resident cat) relentlessly wherever she goes, or keeps advancing menacingly towards her, even as she's yowling "NO." He keeps at it without letting up, and then acts as if his threatening advances are innocent.

He's also INSISTENT that he ought to be allowed on countertops and tables, a big "No-no" in our house. Did I mention the word relentless? I'm worn out from scolding and chastising (but it's not as if I wasn't warned ahead of time). How can he not melt your heart, though? Fluffalo usually starts the day in the negatives on the cuteness scale because of his nightly yowling, but manages to exceed way more than 100% before days' end. 

And then there's Peep - silky, talkative, and perfectly delightful. Fluffalo's feisty partner in crime has so much more dignity, smarts, and cunning. She manages to stay under the radar - I suspect she's the mastermind behind the plot to send Fluffalo out into battle with Dallas, so he can test the waters and pave the way for her ladyship.

She's so playful, and lightning fast at pouncing games. Never mind "the pitter-patter of tiny feet - I think Peep's the main culprit when it comes to thundering back and forth across the slippery floors at night, rumpling my floor mats into trip-able floor obstacles.

I love seeing her shred egg boxes for fun (I think she imagines she's tearing up prey) - it's so much fun to watch, despite the awful mess it makes. Her little vocalizations as she arrives at our side or gets stroked on a lap are unbelievably endearing (she usually chooses Dale for laps) - it's like a mix of a goat bleating and an old woman who's had her voice-box removed! She has managed to stay consistently adorable despite her one BIG flaw of charging around like a herd of elephants in the early hours of the day/night.

Despite all this, I totally adore them! It's the same as I felt about my own kids, and would go into battle for them! I love the feeling of them cozying up at the foot of our bed - if only they'd sleep ALL night through. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

March's Mirth

What a storm that was! The snow turned into a mixture of ice, sleet, rain and freezing rain - all pretty much the same in the way it compacts the airy snow beneath and creates a hard crust on top, sometimes several inches thick, making it hard to shovel and plow. And we had some traveling to do the next day ...

We encountered trees down along the back roads, traffic lights out, roads closed, and credit cards not working at gas stations because it was too cold! We've yet to finish shoveling out - plastic snow shovels just wouldn't do it.

Views from a moving car (in the passenger seat, of course) ... it was quite magical, and if it hadn't been for our prior commitment, we'd have missed out!

Monday, March 25, 2024

March Madness

Ha ha ha ha! March has the last laugh, yet again. A day- and night- duration snowstorm, on an unfrozen lake hit us over the weekend, shortly after the last posted dusting. Even the wildlife seemed unsure of how to react - Mallards pluckily plowed through the mushy wet ice in our cove, struggling to paddle, our Red Squirrel appeared unexpectedly for breakfast, and the Juncos arrived to feed in large numbers (we haven't seen them for weeks).

Of course, I found it fascinating! Here are my clomping, and others' fairy-like, footprints.

The snow cascading off the dome of our Weber grill made an interesting pattern - and yes, we got our grill out too early, hopefully, expectantly counting our chickens ...

At about 4 inches of snow it turned to icy slush, but I still admired the unevenness of accumulation-edge.

Her Majesty is definitely not amused that the snow is blocking out the sun

Sunday, March 24, 2024

March Marches On

Well, we survived the Ides of March (even though Julius Caesar didn't), but it looks as if March is still fighting like a lion! On March 21, we awoke to this (anticipated):

After taking pics of this calm, peaceful scene, the winds soon picked up, gusting around 20mph, and the water became choppy with waves.

The winds were icy cold, bringing a temperature of 22°F down to a 'feels like' 7°F - ugh, so unpleasant.

The morning light and shadow with the sprinkling of snow was pretty for a while.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

Lake Lowering, Yet Again

Oh dear! Our wildlife is going to be hugely impacted again this spring, unbeknownst to them. 

High water events from winter storms have damaged our flashboard and dam crest yet again, and so a scheduled lowering by 4 feet has begun. It's just not fair to wildlife! The Muskrats and waterfowl didn't get the memo and have started this season's reproductive efforts already. I hate to see this happening to them again.

It's not clear how long the lowering, repairs and re-filling will take, but we will apparently be informed as each stage comes up. But who will tell the muskrats, the Loons and the Wood Ducks? They will probably have to abandon the nest they've started - it seems cruel (and inconsiderate).

We still have a long way to go before the water is low enough for repairs to start. The exposed shoreline at least offers an opportunity to pick up litter and fishing line snagged on branches and trees usually hanging over the water. It's also an opportunity to assess milfoil growth in early spring, so I'm forcing myself to find something positive about it.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Algae, Up Close and Personal

The close up pics posted yesterday are actually details of an algal specimen we collected from our lake over the weekend. The sections looked like bits of carpet or cardboard, covered in green algae. Some were floating, and others were lying curled up on the sediment.

Cardboard-like piece of algae on lake floor
 Photo: Dale Schultz

Floating segment, overturned
Submerged segment 

The presence of algae in a lake does not mean it's a 'bloom' or a nuisance - they are an integral part of the lake ecosystem, and together with phytoplankton, are the basis of the aquatic food web. Algae 'green-up' earlier in spring than vascular plants, since they can photosynthesize in much lower light levels. Incomplete ice cover this past winter (climate change) has most likely contributed to algae's early start. Once other organisms that feed on algae hatch, their temporary dominance is whittled away. 

This algae (possibly Planktothrix) has gas vesicles on its surface that affect its buoyancy. As gases are produced and released, the segments can rise and fall in the water column. Look at this amazing texture it exudes - like dinosaur skin.

It was difficult to pick the pieces up and keep them intact, so we scooped them up using a shallow container. They felt slimy and slippery, like a placenta. I also had the notion that it was "there, but not there." 

Planktothrix is a filamentous algae - this close up shows the small green filaments of which it is composed. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Deliberate Abstractions

Is this an aerial view of vegetation following drainage lines across a continent? Is there a deep canyon in the right side of the landscape? Are there towns dotted around the region? 

What might this bring to mind for you? A scary sea monster ...?

Is this a piece of toffee?

Explanations tomorrow ...

Tuesday, March 19, 2024


Meet my team of enthusiastic aquatic plant patrollers on Lake Arrowhead. We've been botanizing together for 2 summers, and are planning on doing more comprehensive surveys this year using our sectorized, laminated maps produced by generous friends. We're gearing up for a community shoreline cleanup when the water level goes down for dam repairs, and some hands-on plant-petting sessions too, to teach other community members how to recognize and look out for our invasive aquatics.

We've recently had t-shirts printed by another generous friend, that include Arrowhead leaf shapes and our team name: PALZ - Patrollers of Arrowhead's Littoral Zone. It's so much fun being with people who can't wait to get back out on the lake each year and enjoy finding out all the fascinating things it has to offer. There's always something new and exciting to discover; it just never gets old.

Our tea cake was also decorated with an Arrowhead shape. 

Monday, March 18, 2024


We're all familiar with the word paranoia, but I recently learned there is also a state called metanoia, which was new to me. The original Greek word was compounded from the words metá for "beyond" (or "after"), and noeō for "perception" (or "understanding" or "mind"). 

According to Wikipedia, the original use of the word metanoia refers to "changing one's mind," usually through the experience of a psychotic "breakdown" and subsequent, positive psychological re-building or "healing" Metanoia: psychology

Conversion of a speaker into a head, just for fun!
It has been used with slightly different meanings in different contexts.(Metanoia - psychology). For instance, it has been used by Christian theology to indicate a spiritual conversion or change of heart through repentance (Metanoia: theology), which is somewhat different.

My understanding is that it refers to a major shift in one's perception after a life-changing or traumatic event, and is not necessarily linked to a religious conversion.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Cat Captions


"Fluffalo, I've a feeling we're not in Nevada anymore." (hat tip to the Wizard of Oz)

"What do you think, Fluffalo? Should we go out and help them?"