Thursday, January 27, 2022



We didn’t have a white Christmas, which made me wonder what kind of winter we would be having.  Finally, a couple weeks ago, the snow began to fall, the lake effect kicked in, and we had the looks of a real winter.  A few days before my surgery, Gracie and I headed out for a winter’s drive to capture some of that beauty.  We were gone for over three hours and saw so much.  Winter snowscapes.  Some new barns.  A couple juvenile Eagles, and a few crows, in a cornfield.  The Boardman River from several perspectives.  Some migrating Snow Buntings in their winter garb.  It was a delightful afternoon. 


NEW KNEE UPDATE:  It was two weeks Monday since I got my new knee.  And on Tuesday, I had my first follow-up with my orthopedic surgeon.  According to him, I’m healing well, have good knee bending and straightening, and am on target for where I should be.  Yea!

And with all the new snow we’ve had the last couple of weeks, IT PAINS ME NOT TO BE OUTSIDE ENJOYING ITS FRESH BEAUTY.  Oh, well, I’m healing and those days will come soon.  Patience, Karen, patience.

Thursday, January 20, 2022



My guest photographer this week is Peg Cancro, a good friend from my Kalamazoo days and sometime visitor to Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties.  She has traveled extensively and is going to share images from one of her trips.


 PEG:  I was flattered to be selected as a guest photographer for Karen's blog.  I have been shooting photos since I was in high school.  My uncle loaned me his camera, a Honeywell Spotmatic f, for my high school trip to Spain and I was hooked.  When I got my first job, I saved up and purchased that model. I loved that camera because it had a unique feature that showed you your actual depth of field so you could be assured of the effect you were going for with f stop and speed.  In those days you had to carefully wait for your shot since film was expensive and you didn't have the luxury of taking too many pics.

These days I am shooting with a digital Sony - it is a blessing and a curse.  You take lots of photos because, well, you can.  Then choosing the right photo to share at times becomes daunting.  So what follows is a small selection of my trip to South Africa.  Everything in South Africa seems exotic and you are constantly pinching yourself when you see all the majestic animals and landscapes it has to offer.

The Big Five are named so because they were the most difficult of animals for hunters to kill.  South Africa affords you an opportunity to see them all.  They are the Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard.   One of the more interesting features of the elephant is its trunk.  It can smell scents up to 19 kilometers, can hold 12 liters of water, can reach branches in trees and snap them off, averages 13 ft in length and is used to carry stuff as well as uproot trees!

The Lion is definitely the king of the jungle, and while not the largest animal, it is the largest predator, lives mostly a solitary life, and is very territorial.  It can have up to 20 females in his pride and maybe a young male or brother.


 The Cape Buffalo is part of the Big 5 because they have killed more hunters than any other species and have been known to kill lions if attacked. They are excellent swimmers and can reach up to 11 feet in length and weigh up to 1900 lbs.


 Black rhinos are the most endangered species. There are two kinds - white and black rhinos - nothing really to do with their color, they both are greyish in color.  White rhinos are square lipped, their first horn is much larger than their second horn, ears are tubular, and their elongated head is usually pointed downward. They also are more social like cows.  Black Rhinos are smaller than white rhinos, have narrow lips, a more pointed mouth, rounded ears, and concave backs.  Their heads are rounded and generally point upward. 


  Unfortunately, we never did get to see the elusive and rare Leopard which usually hunts at night and brings his prey up into the trees where he feeds and sleeps!  There were, however, many other wonderful animals, like this Cheetah, the fastest land animal, capable of speeds 50-80 mph.  Sometimes Leopards and Cheetahs are confused with each other because they both seem to have spots.  But in actual fact, a leopard has rosettes, or rose-like markings, and Cheetahs have solid round or oval spot shapes.


 Another stunning creature we saw was the Giraffe, the tallest living terrestrial animal, here walking by a Fever Tree, similar to the iconic symbol of Africa, the Acacia Tree, more commonly known as the Umbrella Thorn.  The Fever Tree is yellowish and green-leaved, while the Umbrella Tree is darker and thorny.  


 Notice on the head of this Giraffe is a bird, the Oxpecker, also known as the Tickbird.  The giraffe and the oxpecker have a symbiotic or mutualistic relationship.  The bird gets an easy meal by eating parasites, such as ticks and blood-sucking flies, from the giraffe’s body, and this keeps the giraffe’s parasites under control.    

One of my favorite birds in South Africa was the South African Masked Weavers.  They are colorful and noisy, in a good way, and the males are very busy.  


 In the mating season they will mate on average with 5 females. To attract them they weave on average 25 nests.  The female comes and inspects them. If she finds a home that she likes, she moves in and starts to make it homey with nesting materials like leaves.  If she doesn't like it, she sometimes will cut the nest from the branch showing her displeasure.  

It takes the male South African Masked Weaver 9 to 14 hours to complete one nest.  You can see why from his finished work-of-art.  Today’s photographs  make up just a  small sampling of the enchanted countryside of South Africa.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the “trip.”

NEW KNEE UPDATE:  Thank you, Peg, for these amazing pictures from your South Africa trip.  I’m now nine days out from my right knee replacement.  Things are going well with the healing.  The new knee is functioning well and I can walk better with it than the old.  The main challenge is trying to establish a regular sleep pattern, which can be hard depending on my pain levels, medications, and comfort in my recliner, my current "bed" of choice. But, I AM coming along.  Better than I ever imagined. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022



It was a recent Sunday morning.  A quiet morning.  I headed over to Logan’s Landing, hoping to see some of the waterfowl reported on Audubon alerts.  A double-crested cormorant was first on my list. 


 I chose to go on a Sunday so the area would be quieter without the construction machinery at work.  I was amazed at all the work on the boardwalk across the South Boardman that had continued.  Even in the cold temperatures!  The surface of the bridge was being laid.  


 A couple guys were even taking a walk onto the  boardwalk.  I guess I wasn’t the only one curious about what was happening.  I wondered whether there would be rails on the sides of the bridge. 


I left the boardwalk and drove to the north end of the shops.  Right away I could see where the second bridge was going to cross over to Medalie Park.  The excavation looked ready for the next steps.

I next headed over to Medalie Park to check out the waterfowl and was greeted by a sign announcing road closed.  It had been moved to the side, as people were clearly going around it.  Construction equipment filled the parking lot, and I noticed new fencing was completed near the water’s edge.


 On one side of the road, parts of a lovely, pre-assembled bridge rested on the fresh snow.  How cute this would be!


 On the other side of the road, was another section of pre-assembled bridge.  I couldn’t quite imagine whether it was going to be all one bridge or two separate bridges.  Again, I was astounded at the work being done in snowy and frigid conditions.


 Oh, and the waterfowl!  The Boardman was full of swans, as is typical of this area.  Looks like there were a couple of love birds, even.


 Geese and mallards also populated the area.  Many seemed to be sleeping, some were preening, and a few were spreading their wings.

Lots of seagulls were resting on the logs, busy fishing.  It was fun watching them dive.  But I didn’t see any cormorants or unique migrating ducks.  Just the regulars.  It was exciting, though, to see all the progress being made on the new trail.

NEW KNEE UPDATE:  My surgery on Monday was successful.  I'm three days out and doing quite well.  I can walk better with a walker than before the surgery.  I have some pain, but it is being managed pretty well with the pain meds.  The worst pain is when I get up to stand from a seated position.  Mostly the meds make me really sleepy. 


Thursday, January 6, 2022



Happy New Year, everyone!  While I was out photographing the holiday season, the Snowy Owls snuck into town.  My Audubon bird alerts have reported sightings of four different Snowies so far this season. 


I spotted this female in an area where these owls typically hunt during the winter months while they’re here.  It would’ve been easy to miss her tucked as she was against the white trim versus perched on the roof edge, where she would have been easier to spot.

While it wasn’t really sunny, it was bright out and the owl she had her third eyelid up.  It’s a translucent nictitating membrane, which protects the bird’s eye from bright sunlight or injury when hunting prey.


 The Snowy swiveled her head and I caught sight of a big brown patch on the back of her head.  At first I thought it was an injury, but, as I zoomed in, I could see it was a big brown patch of coloring on her feathers.  I’d not seen that before, and it was indicative of the unique coloring patterns each owl has.


 She opened her eye a bit and I caught sight of that beautiful yellow eye.  “I see you out there with that long lens and the fuzzy white dog hanging out the window,” I guessed she was thinking.


 When she turned to face me again, the third eyelid was gone and her eyes were opened more, but just a bare slit.  Come on, girl, open them wide!


 And I was lucky, as she gave me a wider peek at those amazing yellow eyes.  It’s always a great experience to see these beautiful owls.  


 A few days later, I returned to the area and saw the same Snowy sitting atop a metal building.  I was sure it was her because of the same markings on the back of her head.


 She swiveled her head towards me and I caught sight of those striking yellow eyes.  Ohhhhh!


 The Snowy had begun to act a bit squirrelly.  Swiveling a lot.  Rising up.


 Fluffing out her feathers.  I was pretty sure she was going to fly.


 But before she did, she gave me another look at those yellow eyes wide open.  And did I catch her in flight?  No.  I realized I hadn’t turned my car off and that might create camera shake vibration in my images.  As I set my camera down to turn my car off, she took to the air.  DAMN!

NEW KNEE REPORT:  This coming Monday, January 10th, I’m getting a new right knee!  I’m looking forward to getting it done so I can be more active and walk better.  While I won’t be able to drive for a few weeks, I’ve prepared a few blogs ahead, plus I have a couple surprise guest photographers lined up.  I’ll stay in touch each week with an update on my progress.