Monday, December 31, 2007

Wintery hike

On our way home from lunch and errands with Reena's mother, we needed a hike to clear our heads. Our route took us past the Edna Taylor Conservancy, so we zipped up and stomped off into the snow. There were few people about, and we had less than an hour of light remaining, so we had to enjoy what was available. We've had a lot of snow this month, nearing a record, so everything was draped in a fresh coat of the white stuff.

Line of oaks

I really like this image, even if everything is pointing to the right! The oaks spread right over the path we were on and it really was a supurb bit of scenery. When Reena came around the corner to where I had just taken this photo, she let out a little gasp and uuup! came her camera.

To the right

As our light was fading we were caught in the transition between woods and marsh. When I took this photo I had not only a sense of place, but a greater sense of transition. There were several demarcations at that moment: marsh-forest, day-night, fall-winter, life-death. I could have lingered longer there...

Transition 1

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

December Hoar

Finally, I found the hoar I've been looking for! After a whole bunch of mornings with trees coated in rime, yesterday I was rewarded with a find of hoar frost. The effect was pretty localized, just in the area between Madison and Sun Prairie. I didn't see any on my east side commute, nor was there any once I reached Sun Prairie. I guess that low lying area had just the right conditions.

And a bit more view...

I really considered finding this frost to be a treat. Something about it just makes me grin. The title is linked to a Wiki page describing different types of frost.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus, originally uploaded by nataraj_hauser.

I have a slip of the 85+ year old christmas cactus my mom had. It seldom blooms. My sister in law has several cuttings off that same plant, as well as a couple other plants, and hers thrive. They were in riotous bloom today. She says she simply ignores the conventional wisdom and leaves them to bake in the full sun. The reduced light of the WI winter does the rest. I guess I'll try something new with mine. In the meantime, I'll enjoy this bloom.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

going nowhere (lost)

going nowhere, originally uploaded by nataraj_hauser.

We have had several days of fog as the temp rises to around freezing and the snow starts to melt. I took this photo on my way to work, between Madison and Sun Prairie. I am a bit embarrassed to mention that with the fog I got a bit lost en route so I don't exactly know where "here" is. Not that it mattered; every road looked like this with 1/10 mile visibility and short sight lines. I had chosen this back road route because I wanted a picture of an old white church in the fog. I probably drove right past the dang thing without seeing it! There are a couple more of this 'fog' series on my Flickr site. You can get there by clicking on this image, or by following the link under "Links To My World" at the left of this page.

UPDATE: Here's the same road a couple of weeks later on a sunny day.
Road to Nowhere 2

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rime and Reason

Rime and Reason, originally uploaded by nataraj_hauser.

Yesterday was another one of those mornings in Wisconsin where the early morning air is really damp and the temperature plunges just before sunrise. The result is a coating of rime frost that's like a thick fuzz on all the trees. It's truly beautiful, and by 10:00 AM it's all gone.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Laughin' in a Winter Wonderland

One of my traditions for this time of year is to go clomping around in the snow with my sister and her Jewish pal to chop down a tree: a Christmas tree in her case, and a Solstice tree for Pagan me(*). This year we have about a foot of snow on the ground and a veneer of ice somewhere around the 4-inch depth. It made for some pretty humorous clomping. Here my sister and her friend had been hauling her tree, singing snippets of Christmas carols, and tripping over sawed off stumps and other concealed terrain features. At this moment, the singing was replaced by belly laughs. A great day!

(* It sounds like a start of a joke doesn't it? "A Christian, a Jew, and a Pagan are walking through a forest..." Heh!)

I've receive three or four emails from people who want to know the punchline to my protojoke. I don't have one, but I'm having fun pondering it. What the line does make me think of though, is this Tom the Dancing Bug "God-Man" cartoon. It's so sadly true, yet I can't help but to remind myself that there I was, the Pagan part of the joke, "and no one was wasting no one." (Bonus points if you can identify what movie that quote is from.)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Checking In

Our kitty, Captain Hook, is getting to be a pretty geriatric cat and has some health issues that are taking their toll. We had a day recently where we wondered if it "was time". We want his life to still have reasonable quality without undue suffering. That night, he was hunkered down in the bathroom - not at all a routine place for him - and looking a bit less bright-eyed than usual. I decided to lay down with him and see how he was doing. Reena captured the moment.

me-n-Hook 2007

me-n-Hook-2 2007

After a bit of heart-to-heart and nose-to-nose, we decided he was just having a bad day and that he still had some juice in him. He was right, and with some help on our part has bounced back somewhat. His end-of-days period continues a bit longer.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Icy Bug

Icy Bug, originally uploaded by nataraj_hauser.

We don't just get snow here in southern Wisconsin. No siree. Sometimes we get a quarter inch of ICE, then snow. Makes cleaning off your car before work a bit time consuming. You get an idea of just how thick the ice is here, not only on the windshield, but even on the car itself. The slight yellow blur in the windshield is the fake flower I keep in the built in bud vase during the winter.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007


Another splendid Saturday night of homemade entertainment. A handful of musicians met with a handful of belly dancers and delight resulted. Improv music fed improv dance. Dolmas and hummus fed the bellies. Mmmmm!

Music and Dance

Alec and Thomas coverd the strings, oud and modified guitar, while the rest of us filled in on drums, tars, riqs, and zills. The dancers tried out their moves, entering and exiting at will.

Music and Dance

Now that's my idea of a great night. There are a few more pics at my Flickr site.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wisconsin's first brush of winter

Driving to work today was a mixed treat. There was, of course, the slippery ice and snow covered roads to contend with, and the radio was telling me of the dozens of accidents and rollovers that were occuring. There was also the sheer beauty of seeing every tree coated with rime frost. There were many places I wanted to stop, but chose wisely and did not. When I got to the industrial park where I work, I contented myself with what I found there.

Soft and Frigid

The temperature this morning was around 6 degrees (F) when I was driving in, and the dampness in the air (such as it was) coated the trees with a type of frost called rime. I was hoping as I saw it while driving that it was a hoar frost (little spikes of ice) but no. This is a softer, thicker type of frost, and for the few hours it lasts before the sun melts it, it is really lovely.


Stop for birding

And from the break room window at work:

Picnic anyone?

I really enjoy how the snow sifted through the slats in the table, and even formed corresponding ridges in the snow under the table. The gaps in the snow match the gaps in the fence nicely, too. Beyond the fence, the morning sun was igniting the pine trees. The sun didn't hit that patio area for another two hours or so.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fun Weekend

I went with my wife to join her family for a late Thanksgiving-early Christmas get together. As has become our habit, we got a house near Wisconsin Dells and spent the weekend hanging out, talking, eating, and playing games. The cool part is that we're right near one of the water parks and so spent several hours playing in the water indoors while it snowed like crazy outside. This picture is part of the outside portion of one of the fun new slides. I had a blast on the inside of this, and liked the look of the outside too.
Winter at the waterpark

This little guy was trying to get the hang of his mask while playing in the shallows of the wave pool. Every time he'd get them just about on, Splash!, he'd get bowled over by a wave. Great fun for both of us.

I liked this little image. The water park had hundreds of these inflatable rafts for use with the slides or the wave pools. This batch was sitting on the "shore" of the newest wave pool and I just loved the play of light and reflections of the ceiling across their collectively fascinating shapes.
Get a grip

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