Animals, domestic and wild, at Rancho San Antonio

Two hikers were watching this snake cross the path. I started taking pictures. My husband later said that he was impressed that I’m not afraid of snakes. I said, “Yes I am!” He said for someone afraid of snakes I was pretty close. But I thought the snake was moving really slowly and I could easily get out of the way if it turned on me. He said it wasn’t venomous; if it had been, he wouldn’t have let me get that close. Then he explained striking range and the speed with which a snake can strike. Since I can’t tell a venomous snake from a non-venomous one, I’m going to start giving them a wider berth. I’m also keeping my eyes peeled for any snakes lurking on the sides. It’s a good idea to stay alert.

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There was a happy ending for me though. I snapped several pictures.

Later we passed this deer, who was even closer to the trail than she is in this picture. Just nibbling away…so sweet. I love their eyes.

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We took a different route back and passed by this historic farm. I heard a really loud bellow and was wondering if it was a steer, but it didn’t really sound like a moo. We found out soon enough.

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When this pig came out of the shed, I was startled because he was really looking at me with my camera. He seemed intelligent and not too happy with me.  I remember reading in the Encyclopedia (remember those?) that pigs are pretty smart, smarter than horses.

The bleating was coming from these sweet goats.

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This squirrel was eating something fabulous by the artichoke plant. He started to run when I came closer for the photo.

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Wildflowers of Rancho San Antonio

I don’t know if you remember, but I said I’d take some pictures of the thistles at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve next time I went out.

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I just loaded the pictures onto my computer, and I was very excited to see them.

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Nature is such an artist.

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I was commenting to my husband today that as soon as we get out of the car and start walking at this park, I start smiling.

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The sounds of all the birds, the fresh air, the fragrances of the trees and flowers as you cross the bridge over the creek, and the wide open vistas, are very uplifting.

I do love my DSLR.

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It’s not heavy, just bulky. I’ve started carrying it, even on hikes. I alternated, one day I used the Panasonic, and the next I brought the Sony. They’re like good friends.

I captured a shot of that exotic flower I mentioned the other day.

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Have a wonderful weekend!

Rancho San Antonio

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That is fog coming over the western hills, a phenomenon very typical here. That fog extends out to the coast. Sometimes it comes over the valley where I live as high clouds that give us nice cool mornings. The clouds retreat by noon, leaving us with hot, sunny, dry afternoons. The coast near here will be socked in with fog all day, meantime. That’s why I love living here in the valley.

The fog hovers over those hills and feeds water to those trees. Some trees along the ridgeline, not this particular ridge line, but other ridges closer to the ocean, create their own rain by an adaptation that has their needles pulling water out of the fog. I’m told there is mud and sometimes running water below those pines even though, under other types of trees in the same vicinity, the ground is dry.

The trails in Rancho San Antonio lead up through those forests. There are little running creeks, wild turkeys, the occasional deer, and even mountain lion. There is also a petting farm nestled in the woods in the flat area accessible to children. They have calves and lambs I think. I’ve definitely heard roosters crowing.

The park is crowded every day. It is extremely popular for walking. We passed a few people today up on the mountain trails who were all looking at the wildflowers. There were purple ones and yellow ones and one exotic looking cream and lavender poppy shaped flower. Thistles were in crazy bloom in the exposed dry areas.

There are always remote-plane hobbyists on the bluff. I happened to catch one of the planes while it was landed. The pilot was quite handy with the maneuvers, evoking some wows from my husband.

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I missed the moves because I was trying to get a nice shot of a bird. Wildlife is so hard to photograph! Why do the critters always move right when I’m just about to get focused? It must be personal.

I always love looking at this little farm house up on the hill. It is very far away, but I zoomed in a lot. I’ll also show a shot without the zoom so you can see where it was in relation to where I was standing.

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Today there was a couple walking down the street. I thought that was nice.

Here is the distant shot. The little farmhouse is hard to see in both photos. It’s to the left of the big cluster of trees on the right, pretty much at the top of the hill.

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I like to imagine what it would be like to live up there all alone with all that open space. They probably have a view of the bay, which is on the other side of that hill.

A landscape

This was my favorite photo from my walk yesterday, shot with my phone (and doctored in Photoshop).

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I like the little puddle. I didn’t know it was there until I looked at the picture!

I also really like the silvery hills. I thought maybe I should crop it a bit differently to bring out the parts I like more. I removed the levels layer and de-saturated it a bit, in order to de-emphasize the grass.

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My 30 day free trial of Photoshop is up today. I have to decide if I’m going to pay for it or go back to Photoshop Elements. I am leaning toward the latter. I loved my Photoshop class, but I think I might be able to do a lot of the same things in Elements. I’m going to experiment with Elements and see what I can do!

Have a great day.

Stormy skies and a writing contest

I love thunderstorms.

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We really don’t get many in my neck of the woods, so they are extra special when they happen.

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A new writing contest has been launched on Poetry Sans Frontieres with some great prizes. The contest is free to enter and only requires a max of 500 words for poetry and 1,000 for flash fiction.

You have to write something that responds to this prompt, which I think is a really fun one, so I’m posting it here:

Prompt:

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that led swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars and over the face of dead matter that did not move.

~The Call of the Wild, Jack London~

Rancho San Antonio

I decided I like how these came out of the camera. I couldn’t think of anything to do in Photoshop that might make them better.

Rancho San Antonio is a big park in Cupertino that really showcases the Golden State’s typical landscape.

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The park is so well-maintained with lots of flat places to walk, wide pathways, and well-marked hiking trails.SONY DSC

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