Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rural Life

The pull of photography is almost a physical sensation. Today I HAD to get out of the house, and what better way to get my fix than the LSU Rural Life Museum? Take a glimpse of Louisiana housing in the 19th century. (I used my 55-250mm lens for these shots and didn't realize until I was almost done that the Image Stabilizer was turned off. Boo. I hate when that happens. Thankfully, I was able to salvage a few.) More to come!

See below for image detail of door.

Detail of door on image above. I'm trying to research to see if this was a common thing for slave quarters. I thought it was very cool!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brown Pelican Facts

For my dad's 75th birthday a group of us met for lunch in the historic city of Madisonville, about 60 miles east of Baton Rouge. The restaurant is located on the Tchefuncte (Cha-FUNK-tah) River with dining outside. I was so thankful I listened to that inner voice nagging me to bring my 400mm lens, for when I looked out onto the water there were dozens of brown pelicans and flocks of gulls. I immediately removed the 55-250 mm lens and strapped on the big guy.

Most pelicans hunt for fish by swimming on top of the water, scooping up fish as they go along. But the brown pelican approaches food gathering in a more physically demanding manner. Soaring above the water, they look for fish swimming close to the surface. Visually spotting their prey, they dive straight down from a height of sometimes 60 feet, stunning the fish on impact. This method of plunge-diving causes about 3 gallons of water to fill their huge pouches. As they open their bills and shake from side to side to release the water they will sometimes lose a fish or two. The gulls are right there to scoop up any cast-offs. I actually saw a gull brazenly nab a fish directly from the bill. Talk about drama! Yes, I'm easily amused.

This isn't my best work, but I'm posting it anyway. Normally I would say click on the photo for a larger, better view. But please don't. :)

Gull: GIve it up!! I know you're trying to hide it!!

Preparing for a dive

This pelican is trying to empty his pouch underwater in an effort to prevent the opportunistic gull from stealing.

Gull trying a sideways maneuver possibly to throw off the pelican's equilibrium.

Haha! Where are you now, you thieving gull!

Ooops, spoke too soon. 

Meal is safe and secure. From the pelican's viewpoint anyway. I'm sure the fish feels a little differently.

There was a quaint little antique shop (formerly a grand home) on the same street as the restaurant. I loved this little outhouse that sat whimsically on the property.

Not totally dependent on thieving, this gull actually dived down and got his own meal. Made me feel a little better about them.
CORRECTION: This is a Forster's Tern. Thanks, Hilary from The Smitten Image!

Brown pelicans became almost extinct because of the chemical DDT which caused thinning of egg shells, hampering their ability to produce young. At one time a population of 50,000 brown pelicans had dwindled down to a few nesting pairs. Since the ban of DDT their numbers have bounced back.

I hope you enjoyed the bird lesson today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All Along the River Road

My grandparents grew up along River Road or Hwy. 75 in Sunshine, La. They met, married, and raised their family there. The city was originally named "Forlorn Hope", but renamed in 1944. Across the street from all the homes on Hwy. 75 is a long and winding levee. It stays green most of the year, sprouting clover and other wildflowers in the warmer months. These are some photos I took on my drive the other day:
Snowy egrets looking for lunch behind the levee
Top of the levee
Too early for alligators, but this sure fooled me for a second!
Wildflowers growing on the levee
Nature's "crystal bowl" growing atop a fallen log

Because Baton Rouge has become so overcrowded due to hurricane Katrina, buyers are scooping up property in Sunshine and building some very nice homes. Still, my heart belongs to the decaying structures that were once beautiful decades ago. 

Oh, how I wanted to drive up and investigate the interior of this abandoned structure. Alas, I'm a rule follower and respected the sign.

Mama took me here when I was a young girl and said I could choose any cold drink I wanted.
Growing up I was not allowed to have soft drinks very often. My mother believed water was the healthiest choice. Spying a group of Dr. Pepper bottles sitting on a barrel of ice, I made my selection and enjoyed every sip. Even so, to this day I still drink mostly water.

This was the church that my mother grew up in just a couple miles from Sunshine in St. Gabriel. To the back of the property is the new, modern, brick church. Since the 1700s this church has survived many hurricanes, but in 2008 Hurricane Gustav destroyed the steeple. Looks like it has since been repaired.

Hope you enjoyed your tour along the River Road!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Survived Another Week

Well, here I am entering week 3 with my mom. The air conditioner is blasting and I'm wearing capris, a sleeveless top, and open-toed shoes. That's January in Baton Rouge, cher!

There has been little rest for me as I delight in waiting on my mother. When she says JUMP I leap through the air and add two somersaults as a bonus. For the first time in my life I am making the beds each morning and I don't hate it. Also surprising is that I'm cooking almost every day. We somehow worked in visits to the beauty parlor, church, and doctor. Mama's birthday last week was celebrated by watching The Help and dining at our favorite restaurant. Overall a pretty productive week.

The TV situation has somewhat improved. Last night we actually graduated from reruns of Little House on the Prairie to Animal Planet! Woo hoo!! Animal hoarding was the featured show and my mother was fascinated by the psychology of someone who thought it perfectly normal to own 59 dogs and sleep in a kennel with them. As Jim Morrison sang so eloquently: people are strange. Turns out we both love learning about them.

A decent offer was made on our house, then 3 days ago the guy got cold feet and backed out. Boo. My bff from high school is now a realtor in Baton Rouge, so we've had fun reconnecting after 30 years. The first few minutes were awkward but since then it's as though we've never been apart. Strange how that works. I am confident and excited that she is going to find us the perfect home.

In other news I started the Couch to 5k program and I'm loving it! Ran/walked 6 miles this week and I feel great! I highly recommend the iphone app.

Still finding pockets of time for my favorite hobby. Here are some photos I've taken over the last week:

This concludes my weekly broadcast! Later gators.