Monday, October 31, 2011

Hapy Halloween!

I am finally home after 10 days of travel. The good news is that while on the trip I decided to purchase a new computer. The desk top computer I have been using for the past few years was purchased for only $100 from a friend. Although it has served my needs, the XP software and processor speed cause the computer's performance to be slow enough that it must be replaced. Since I purchased a lap top instead of a desk top computer, during future travel I will be able to update my blog while on the road.

During this past trip, I exhibited my art at the Mason, MI show as well as at the Rock Shoppe in Plymouth, MI. Thanks to Lynnette, Joan, Marsha, Robbie, Steve, Jessica, and Jonathan who helped me load and unload my car, set up the booth, and/or house and fed me.

I would like to wish everyone a happy Halloween. In honor of the holiday, I'll post appropriate photos.  First a couple of carved pumpkins created by my friend, Marsha.

I attended a Halloween party, that was also a house warming party, at my son and daughter-in-law's house.  I'm not sure who made these cupcakes, but they did a great job.

The decorations were terrific.....

Jonathan and Jessica were overworked employees.

The costume contest winners....

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Power of Lake Superior

Yesterday I conducted an agate class with two couples who contacted me a few weeks ago. I wasn't sure it was going to happen because the weather has been so windy, cold, and rainy -- but we had a reprieve. The sun actually came out and the wind died down a bit.

When I pulled into the museum, I was amazed at the size of a tree that fell onto the basketball court across the street. It required a massive clean up effort.

After conducting the first part of the agate class at the museum, I took the group to a beach east of town.  Again, I was amazed at the power of the storm.  The beach bears no resemblance to what it looked like a few weeks ago.  The lake water was still shifted our way, like the water sloshing in a bathtub, so the beach was half again as wide as normal.  Plus the waves carved a mini-escarpment of sand around six feet tall,  All of the driftwood was pushed way up the beach. 

If you are a prospector, the waves also uncovered a lot of black sand.  I have been told that there are gold specs in this black sand.

This 25 foot log was sticking right out of the newly formed sand bank.

The couples seemed to have with the rock hounding exercise.

We had a little bit of a sunset, although I only captured the afterglow.  Today it was cold, rainy, and very windy -- AGAIN!

Well, it is late and I still have a couple of things to do.  I am bound and determined to get everything done tonight so that I can leave early in the morning for the Mason show.  If you live down in lower Michigan and you were thinking of coming -- I am bringing a lot of stuff!

I am bringing my camera USB cord and will try to implement some blog updates from the road.  I'm not sure about the facilitating software though....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morning Walk Near Sable Falls -- Post 2

The fall weather is back again this morning. It is raining and blustery with temperatures around 40 and winds gusting to near 50 mph. I was going to go for another walk this morning, but I think I'll wait to see if the circulating low pressure system moves off to the northeast. Besides, I have a lot to get done today before leaving early tomorrow morning for the Mason show.

Today I will post the second half of photos taken on yesterday's walk. Let us continue down the path.....

Just so you know, the colors in the photo below are natural.  Some sections of the trail really seemed to be glowing with color.

When I was around a half mile from the foot bridge, I headed left off the trail and up an old dune bushwhacking to see what I could fiind.  I snapped this photo of a happy clump of white birch trees.

The bark of a white birch is like a natural canvas.

After wondering around up and down a few old dunes, I circled back to the trail.

Even with the rain we have had, there are not a lot of mushrooms out like there are some years.  But here is a shot of a nice one.

And then I spotted this artistic arrangement of shelf fungi.  The largest ones on the right were around 20 inches wide.

One of my favorite florest-floor plants is equisetum.  Equisetum ( /ˌɛkwɨˈsiːtəm).  The common names are horsetail, snake grass, or puzzlegrass.  This plant is truly a living fossil since it is the only living genus in the Equisetaceae, a family of vascular plants that reproduce by spores rather than seeds.  This group of plants dominated forests over one hundred million years ago, when the various subgroups were much more diverse in the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to almost 18 feet tall (30 m)!   Left over remails from extinct Equisetum relataives deposited during the Carboniferous period  formed into vast coal deposits. 

For you mathematically inclined people, it is interesting to note that the pattern of spacing of nodes in horsetails, wherein those toward the apex of the shoot are increasingly close together, inspired Napier to discover logarithms

The name "horsetail", often used for the entire group, arose because the branched species somewhat resemble a horse's tail.  In these plants the leaves are greatly reduced and usually non-photosynthetic. Each individual plant growing from the rhizome is a single, non-branching stalk  The leaves of horsetails grow in whorls that circle the stalk.  Instead of the leaves gathering the light of the sun, the stalkswhich are green perform the photosynthetic task. As many of you know, the stalks are distinctive in that they are hollow, jointed and ridged (with sometimes 3 but usually 6-40 ridges).  When I was a kid weoften played with horsetail stalks by separating and then seamlessly rejoining the segments.  We also used to try to make whisteles out of them. In the photo below that I took off the internet, you can see a close up of the whorls of small leaves. In the photo, B = branch in whorl; I = internode; L = leaves; N = node.

Here is a close up of some of the stalks.

Eauisetum exists world wide on every continent except Anartica.  Many plants in this genus prefer wet sandy soils, though some are semi-aquatic and others are adapted to wet claysoils. The stalks arise from rhizomes, which can be thought of as underground branches.  When horsetails start to invade private homes, some consider them a nuisance weed since they readily regrow from the rhizome after being pulled out. It is also unaffected by many herbicides designed to kill seed plants. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Morning Walk near Sable Falls

I won't call it a hike since I was only out for around 30 or 40 minutes, but I had to get a little exercise. It is still chilly (low 40s), but the wind has temporarily died down and we are getting some peaks at the sun.

Since I don't have much time right now, I decided to walk from Sable Falls towards the visitor's center. It actually was a beautiful morning for a walk. How about coming along!

When I pulled up into the Sable Falls parking lot, I was amazed at seeing part of a large tree broke and laying on the ground.  During the walk, there were numerous trees down.  Part of the path was more like an obstacle course.

I headed from the parking lot toward the foot bridge.  When I passed the interpretive sign (right of center in photo below), I decided to document it.  For those of you who have been to and love Grand Marais, it is always nice to revisit the paths and places that you love.  For those of you who have not been to Grand Marais, it is good to get a perspective.

So from the foot bridge, I headed west toward the Sable Visitors Center.

There were sections of the woods that were so brilliantly colored that they looked fluorescent. This section of the path follows along Sable River.

When I walk through the woods, I always look for little communities.  The moss on this log was brilliantly green.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Agate Close Up Pictures

As usual when I am preparing for a show and making mineral art, the time available for hiking and taking pictures is more limited. The rain, cold, and wind also did not allow me to go out yesterday. So, as before, I'll include some agate close up pictures from the book. I apologize if any of these are repeats. I just go into my files and randomly select photos. I then zoom into the pictures and select interesting sections. All of these close ups are from pictures in Chapter 5.  Enjoy.

The first close up is from a Canadian Thunder Bay agate.  This is a much younger Lake Superior agate that formed in sedimentary rock seams. 

A Brazilian plume agate.....

A Brazilian sagenite agate.....

A South Dakota Fairburn agate......

A Kentucky agate.....

A Lake Superior fortification agate.....

A Mexican crazy lace agate......

A Lake Superior candy striped agate.....

A Texas moss agate......

Monday, October 17, 2011

Early Morning Dune Hike

NOTICE:  The owners of the Rock Shoppe in Plymouth, MI emailed me the other day.  I am returning to their facility to conduct a Gitche Gumee Gathering.  The event will be held on October 25th at 5:30 p.m.  I will for sure be doing the power point presentation to teach people about agates.  Depending on the desires of attendees, I may also conduct other programs.  I will also have some of my mineral art available for sale as well as my agate book.  The facility is located at  6275 Gotfredson Road, Plymouth, MI 48170.  For more information about the Rock Shoppe go to their web page or call them at 734-455-5560 for more information about the Gitche Gumee Gathering program.  The event is open to the public.

This low pressure system has been swirling in the Lake Superior region for a few days. However, yesterday morning we had an hour or so of blue sky before the lake effect machine cranked up again to generate clouds and rain. Although it was a bit breezy, the winds had calmed down considerably with sustains speeds 10-20 mph. Last night and this morning, we are again having gusts near 50 mph with considerable lake effect rain. I won't be hiking today, unfortunately.

The high winds this past few days have done some carving in the dunes.  Notice the horizontal ridges in the picture below.

Friend, Jill, and I bushwhacked up into the dunes from the Masse Homestead Trail and then hiked straight north to the bluff of the Grand Sable Dunes.  Here is a shot looking east.  What a beautiful gem of a morning it was.

Here are typical and repetitive shots looking west.  Although I take some of the same pictures over and over -- each set of circumstances are different for each shot.  The sun angle, wave heights, foliage color, etc. change each time.  Plus, since I have to take pictures for the blog (which I love doing), I have to document the subject matter at hand.

We came across yet another telegraph pole left over from 100 years ago.  You can see two notches that held the wires on the bottom right side of the pole.

I had to capture the unusual carnelian cloud bottoms overlooking Grand Marais.