Thursday, May 15, 2008

"I knew I shoulda taken that left"

There aren't many people who don't remember Bugs Bunny's famous line when I tell them I am going to Albuquerque. Or, "Albuhkoikee," as Bugs would pronounce it.

So yesterday I flew to Albuquerque. The lovely Amber was waiting for me at the foot of the escalator and not much later, we were on our way to the bag claim. Yes, I said bag claim. In New Mexico---or Albuquerque, anyway---that's what all the signs say: Bag claim. Now I can't help but wonder what people are going to be saying to each other about getting into a new relationship when THIS way of talking takes hold across America: "Gee, I liked the guy, but he came with a lot of bag." Or, "Yeah, she was HAWGHT, Dude. But between her kids and her mother, I just couldn't handle the bag."

Back to Amber. Had it not been for her kindness, I'd have had to get on some shuttle and dropped of at some disclosed location in Santa Fe where I would THEN have had to be picked up. But this woman has a huge heart and I am deeply in her debt. Or in her brain. Probably more the latter. We talked like girlfriends who had all their lives to get caught up on. We TAWKED. We broke up into small groups and discussed.

This is Amber. What a face. Very, very smart. Very, very funny.

The reason I came to New Mexico was to attend friends. George and Janet live where I do in Oregon, but they have a daughter (Melissa) whose daughter, Sadie, is graduating from High School. That's all I had to hear. I bought a ticket the day I was invited.

As Amber and I were tawking at mad paces, I was snapping pics along the way. I like to photograph road signs. Moments after Amber and I arrived at the house, Janet pulled in. Said she had car trouble. Overheated. Was stuck on the side of the road. Amber and I looked at each other: We saw a car pulled over with a cop about half a mile behind, also parked on the side of the road. Was that you, Janet? For the heck of it, I checked my photo gallery.

Yep. That was Janet with the Prestone can at her feet. Did we stop to help? Heck no! We
were tawking!

Recognize the clothing on that hottie blonde on the left? Sadie, the graduate,
was not home yet. But her two sisters enjoyed the story. Lucia far right. Mexika
(mah-SHEE-kuh) to Lucia's right.

My flight out of PDX (Portland) was at 10 a.m. So I got there early. I entered the building at about 7:40, walked up to the kiosk, punched in my confirmation number, presented my one BAG to later claim, brought it over to the nice man attendant at the huge X-Ray place, then presented my passport and boarding pass at the security checkpoint, listened to the "this is a security announcement" recording for only maybe a dozen times, and I had my shoes back on by 8:02. Had some time to kill. Or, as I like to think of it----give life to. I entered the Starbucks line. When it was my turn, I said to the pretty young lady, "I'd like a B double F C with no RFC." With a half second gaze into my eyes, she reached for a clear plastic cup and as she began lifting it from the stack I said, "Nope." She replaced the cup and started whispering the letters to herself. Then she asked me to repeat the letters. "I'll have a B double FF C with no RFC." She gave up. I leaned in and whispered, "A big, fat fuckin' coffee with no room for cream." She took it well. She smiled. Then she said that it might have been interesting if I'd just let her make something that matched the letters. Dang. Why didn't I think of that?

With my B double F C in tow, I walked over to a small table and fired up my new black MacBook for the very first time in a public setting to take it for a Wi-Fi ride. Not long after beginning this very post, I heard a woman say to her female companion, "And they said they kept calling my name, but I didn't come." I pivoted in my chair to the woman speaking. When she looked at me, I pointed at her and said, "YOU missed a flight." Big smile. I told her my story from two blog posts ago and even showed her on my laptop. While we were talking, the very airplane that I missed was taxiing past the windows. I confirmed this by matching the tail number to picture of the plane I missed two posts ago. Amazing.

Asha and Lili and I spent some wonderfully friendly time. Asha's flight was a bit earlier than Lili's and mine, so she had to leave us. But we all hugged before parting. I love becoming human.

Lili on the left, Asha on the right.

Founders of the Missed Flights (West Coast Chapter), Asha and Gawpo.

While Lili and I waited, these guys happened. Be sure to biggen by clicking and check the dude's massive sunglass visor and oxygen hose.

I'll take Things That Fly, Alex. Okay, and the answer is: THE DAILY DOUBLE! All of it, Alex. All of it...

We're headed into Santa Fe to an art show. Ciao4niao, Peeps!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Columba fasciata: Bandtail Pigeons Revisited

A post such as this is surely to return annually, but only as long as its inspiration continues to return. I've been feeding these birds since the latter part of the last century. The first bird is usually in the tops of my red alder in early March of every year. This year was no exception. I saw the first one on the 12th. Okay. So that's late early March. Maybe even early mid March. You get the point. This year is different, though. Cuz I have the new picturer to freeze them. Thanks to Somewhere Joe, I have been able to slow the wings down a bit. The first captures were blurs. Thanks, Giusepp, for some good sharpening tips.

These work for me. My favorite pose is when the wings beat forward, nearly enveloping the body in a hollow hug. Next favorite is the bird whose elbows touch on the wild, slapping upbeat. I hope you enjoy their beauty as much as I do. What you can't "enjoy," however, is being woken up as hundreds of these birds explode off the tables in their ritual survival maneuver that is based upon the instinctive axiom, "Don't stay in any one place too long." As quickly as they jump up, they begin fluttering back down to the boards in drizzling layers of participation until once again getting "that uneasy feeling" and thundering off into the lower branches of the alder and Cascara sagrada.

Once again, here they are...

This was taken on April 19th at 0730 hours. It felt more like 7:30 in the morning, though.

They will stay in the higher branches of the alder for several hours. Then they move down to the lower branches of the Cascara.

The first thing I do every morning is take look through the skylight of the guest bathroom to see who might be lighting in the tree tops. This is what I get to see.

Here is a lucky shot---four birds in the forward wing beat, two in tandem and nearly perfectly synchronous.

This is what makes the thunder in the morning. Birds bumping into each other. Birds stepping on each other, adhering to the rubrics of panic. There could be a hawk. Or a bobcat. You can't be too careful. Every year I come home to some fresh blood on the table and tufts of feathers gathered on the ground in whatever areas of the lawn the prevailing breezes pushed them along until they came to their final resting place, never again to fly.

Then it's right back down for more of the glut.

The scare tactic worked. The bandtail kicks up a dusting of oiled sunflower in its wing vortices.

While the mature sport this beautiful green metallic plumage on their necks, this guy to the left clearly has pin feathers. Young bird? Repairing bird? Dunno. An anomaly I cannot explain. I found a pin feather on the board the other day and wondered where it came from.

We do not have blue jays here. There are scrub jays over in the Willamette Valley. We have steller's jays here, tufted heads and all. Voracious cleaner-uppers are they. Raspy songed opportunists whose beautiful appearance attempts to excuse them from their rudenesses.

And when the crows and the jays aren't around, these folks get a crack at some chow. I'll see your four pair. And raise you.