Archive for July 2013

Grant Tree Trail   3 comments

This 1/3 mile, paved loop trail takes you by the General Grant Tree and a picturesque grove of sequoias.

The General Grant tree is a spectacular 267′ tall: the third tallest tree on earth. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the General Grant tree:

The tree was named in 1867 after Ulysses S Grant, Union Army general and the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” on April 28, 1926. Due in large part to its huge base, the General Grant tree was thought to be the largest tree in the world prior to 1931, when the first precise measurements indicated that the General Sherman was slightly larger. On March 29, 1956, President Dwight D Eisenhower declared the tree a “National Shrine”, a memorial to those who died in war. It is the only living object to be so declared.

In 2005 the General Grant moved up one place in the giant sequoia size rankings, when the Washington tree lost the hollow upper half of its trunk after a fire. Once thought to be well over 2,000 years old, recent estimates suggest the General Grant tree is closer to 1,650 years old. In 2012, it was determined that the General Grant was the third largest tree in the world, behind the General Sherman and President.

Dwarf mistletoe: Arceuthobium occidentale   1 comment

There are 21 species of Dwarf Mistletoe that live in North America.

They suck the life out of our conifer forests. The bulk of the plants live under the bark of their host … just like an iceberg, you only see the tip.

They suck water from their host. They suck food from their host. They’re not a blood-sucking parasite, but that’s how they affect their plant host. They are “natural,” but they degrade your forests and should be killed when found.

Shot on the Sunset Trail, Kings Canyon National Park.

Dwarf Mistletoe 01

Dwarf Mistletoe 02

This tree is in trouble, and has multiple outbreaks of Dwarf mistletoe.

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Mistletoe: No Kissing

Mistletoe: Kissing Allowed

Epic Snake Battle   2 comments

Great blog post from A. L. Gibson, showing a battle between two snakes.

Hate snakes. Hate’m. But this is fascinating photography.

Read the full story and see his post with many photos, here.

And here’s the tease:

Snakes

Dead Giant Loop   4 comments

Here’s one of the easier hikes in the Sequoia National Park. Go past the Grant tree parking lot and take the Sunset Trail to the sign for this easy loop hike.

Posted July 28, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Sunset Trail   4 comments

Go to the end of the parking lot for the Grant tree … and you’re on the Sunset Trail. It’s an easy downhill hike … and an easy return uphill!

Posted July 27, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Round Meadow   4 comments

On the way up the road to Panoramic Point in the Sequoia National Park, you drive by Round Meadow. It’s worth a stop!

Posted July 26, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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California Black Oak: Quercus kelloggii   5 comments

Enjoyed the shade of this lovely black oak tree near the Sequoia Lake overlook on the Dead Giants Loop Trail. Kings Canyon National Park.

California black oak occupies more total area in California than any other hardwood species, though it is under attack as civilization encroaches on its habitat.

My, oh my, what a burl this tree has! That’s the protuberance growing out of the left side of the trunk in the first and second picture below. Someday, that wood could make something lovely … but today, it is something lovely.

CA Black Oak 01

CA Black Oak 02

CA Black Oak 03

CA Black Oak 04

The Baby Trolly   Leave a comment

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Maternity ward. Nurses with babies." Please have your claim check ready. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. Shorpy Historical Photos.

You just don’t see baby trollies in today’s hospital. Washington, D.C., circa 1919. “Maternity ward. Nurses with babies.” Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. Shorpy Historical Photos.

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Shorpy Historical Photos

Student Nurses, 1942

Posted July 24, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Cuckoo’s Calling   7 comments

Cuckoo's Calling - British Cover

The first edition, British Cover … which has very little to do with the book, IMHO.

The problem, of course, is that a new author won’t get the time of day from most publishers. Even when their name is Robert Galbraith.

But there was a publisher that was very interested in this book, as they knew Mr. Galbraith wasn’t really Mr. Galbraith.

The publisher was Little, Brown. Why were they interested? They knew the he was a she:  Galbraith was actually JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.

Now, understand from the beginning that I believe the Harry Potter books are Great Literature. They inspired a generation to read (yes, read). Colleges across the country still have clubs that try and emulate playing Quidditch on flying brooms. The Harry Potter series changed our world for the better … it made our youth a more literate group that read really thick books … 7 of them … to follow the exploits of the world’s favorite adolescent wizard.

So, heavy is the mantle of success on Ms. Rowling, as she now must find a new muse to inspire books that may not be as spectacular as the Harry Potter books (how could they be?), but the new books must be very good. Very, very good.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, released under the Galbraith pseudonym, got solid reviews and little notice. Supposedly, only about 1,500 printed editions of the book had sold 60 days after its release.

And then word leaked that this book was by JK Rowling.

Sales, of course, exploded and the book became the # 1 bestseller on Amazon.com. Incidentally, Rowling is adamant that she did NOT leak her authorship; it’s unknown who did that deed. The secret is now out, though, and I bought the book (or would that be I bought the .mobi for my kindle?).

Honestly, I probably would not have read this book as long as Rowling’s secret held. I do like murder mysteries, but often avoid the English authors working in this genre. Their prose is just different enough that it doesn’t scratch the itch for me.

The American Cover

The American Cover … which is at least representative of the main victim of the book. Better cover, IMHO.

On the other hand, I LOVE Lee Child’s books, and his Jack Reacher series is about a retired military policeman that’s now on his own solving crimes … just like Rowling’s Corcoran Strike in The Cuckoo’s Calling. I should like this book!

The title comes from “A Dirge” written by Christina Rosetti in 1865, which sets the tone for Galbraith/Rowling’s tragic character called Cuckoo by her friends:

Why were you born when the snow was falling?
You should have come to the cuckoo’s calling,
Or when grapes are green in the cluster,
Or, at least, when lithe swallows muster
  For their far off flying
  From summer dying.

Why did you die when the lambs were cropping?
You should have died at the apples’ dropping,
When the grasshopper comes to trouble,
And the wheat-fields are sodden stubble,
  And all winds go sighing
  For sweet things dying.

The book’s prologue can now be seen to speak on multiple levels … Rowling’s efforts to shield her role and have the work evaluated independently of her fame complements the heroine’s celebrity:

Is demum miser est, cuius nobilitas miserias nobilitat.

Unhappy is he whose fame makes his misfortunes famous

– Lucius Accius, Telephus

The book is about a super model that committed suicide … according to the police. Cormoran Strike (another wonderful character name from Rowling!) is hired to investigate and see if a murder happened. This seems like Rowling should be right at home … the Potter books were mysteries, after all.

Like Potter, Strike is scarred when we meet him. Potter had the lightning bolt on his forehead; Strike lost a leg in Afghanistan. Rowling likes her heroes to be hurting!

My biggest quibble with the book is Rowling’s verbosity in the beginning. She never met a qualifier that she doesn’t want in print, apparently. The prose begins to sound untrue to the characters being described … to my American ears. Perhaps Brits want a different type of exposition in their crime novels, but I prefer mine a bit more hard boiled. Here’s what I’m talking about:

By nature methodical and thorough, Strike had been trained to investigate to a high and rigorous standard. First, allow the witness to tell their story in their own way: the untrammeled flow often reveled details, apparent inconsequentialities, that would later prove invaluable nuggets of evidence. Once the first gush of impression and recollection had been harvested, then it was time to solicit and arrange facts rigorously and precisely: people, places, property…

And here’s another:

The act of shopping for what he needed, and of setting up the bare necessities for himself, had lulled Strike back into the familiar soldierly state of doing what needed to be done, without question or complaint.

But then there are times that her love of language and a wonderful turn of phrase just takes over:

“She wuz depressed. Yeah, she wuz on stuff for it. Like me. Sometimes it jus’ takes you over. It’s an illness,” she said, although she made the words sound like “it’s uh nillness.”

Nillness, thought Strike, for a second distracted. He had slept badly. Nillness, that was where Lula Landry had gone, and where all of them, he and Rochelle included, were headed. Sometimes illness turned slowly to nillness, as was happening to Bristow’s mother … sometimes nillness rose to meet you out of nowhere, like a concrete road slamming your skull apart.

Once Rowling caught her stride, the book was great. The characters definitely grew on me … good thing. Rowling has already announced that the 2nd book in the series is already written:

“Yes, I intend to keep writing the series as Robert. I’ve just finished the sequel and we expect it to be published next year.”

Happy to recommend this nice mystery to you. It’s not going to change the world, but it is a great read with a surprising, satisfying ending – and an enticing denouement. The promise of more to come is icing on the cake!

JK Rowling

JK Rowling

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The Times of London’s review

The Guardian’s review

Panoramic Point   4 comments

Panoramic Point overlooks Hume Lake in the Sequoia National Park.

Continue past Grant’s Grove, and then turn right towards the Crystal Springs campsite. Don’t turn into the campsite, just continue on the road up the mountain. Park at the small parking lot at the top of the mountain, and then you have a 350′ paved trail (which was being upgraded to an all access trail while I was there) to get to Panoramic Point.

Wish the day was not so hazy!

 

Posted July 22, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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