Stretching Wood

I’ve finished my second wood-stretching exercise since arriving at Morro Bay and made a awesome discovery. Evidently wood has a limit of about 3  1/2 inches that it can be stretched.

Or maybe it is just type (Eucalyptus) of wood that I used that is limited. Here’s the story. Our friends Paul and Ginny have a grand daughter that likes to do wood-working. She has given them the cutest little box with a pivoting top, that she made in shop. For an eleven-year-old, that is awesome.

So I’m thinking, “I’ll make one of my favorite tricky projects… a wooden chain carved from a single piece of wood, just to see if she will be challenged to replicate it, or at least figure out how I did it.”

I started by cutting a dried branch to 10” in length. When I finished my magic it looked like a wooden Numchuck, with 3 links, that was almost 13 1/2” long. Then I thought, “I should have documented that in photos, for who would believe that the piece would turn out 3 1/2” inches longer than when I started?

A couple days later I get inspired to make another one, by the young son of one of our co-workers. This one I would photograph at each stage of the process. I started this time with a 12 1/4” piece of the same kind of wood.

I began by planing it into a 4 sided stick and marking where the links will be located. This one will have seven links. I’m hoping to double its length.
Then I began carving out the middles of the links. At this step the wood is still the same length as when I began.
When I free the first 2 links the stick grows to 13  1/4” in length.
With the freeing of each succeeding link , the stick grows in length.
Sorry the tape measure obscures so much of the wood, but it can plainly been seen to measure nearly 15  1/4”  at this point.
 Katarina accepts the “magical chain” on behalf of her son.
A little refining and polishing of the links and the finished product is a little over 15  1/2”… But wait, that’s a growth of 3  1/2” ! The same amount that my first effort yielded, and it was only 3 links long.

Reason tells me that more links SHOULD equal more length!

Is there a scientific answer to this dilemma? How can I grow the stick more than 3  1/2”?

I will try again, this time making the links different lengths. Any other ideas? Shoot me an email:

Amazing Monarchs

We are living in the winter home of the west coast population of Monarch butterflies. Those living east of the Rockies go to Mexico, while those living west of the Rockies come here to the Central Coast of California.

Now, migration of birds, beasts and insects is amazing in itself, but the migration of these Monarch can blow your mind! They range from the Rockies to the Pacific and north to to southern Canada. When the northern temperatures begin dropping, the butterflies head south to escape freezing weather. Some have traveled over 1,000 miles as they seek shelter in the trees from San Francisco to San Diego. About 20 miles from us,  Pismo Beach State Park is host to one of the largest populations of Wintering Monarchs.

These winter Monarchs live about six to eight months. In February, as the days start getting warmer, the migration begins north. The females feed on developing milkweed plants and laying their eggs along the way. As the job of the winter Monarchs finishes, they soon die. And this is where the migration story gets interesting. The eggs hatch after a few days and they begin feeding on their only food, milkweed plants. They eat day and night, increasing their weight 2,700 times in just two weeks. This is the equivalent to a human baby growing to the size of a gray whale in just two weeks!

For the next two weeks that little yellow and black caterpillar goes into chrysalis stage and emerges as a butterfly. These summer Monarchs continue flying, north, mating, and laying their eggs on more milkweed plants. Each of these generations only live about 6-8 weeks. This cycle repeats itself 4-5 times during the summer.

It is unknown to scientist, how many successive generations can inherit the information to return to the over-wintering grounds in the south, but as October rolls around the latest generation does not mate, but instead, heads south to begin the job of mystifying scientists.

God, through his Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, gave his take on migrations. They do what they do because that’s the way He made them, unlike mankind who refuses to pay attention of God’s directions.
Jeremiah 8: 6-8
 7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, 
       and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.
 8 ” ‘How can you say, “We are wise, 
for we have the law of the LORD,” 
 when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?       (NIV)

The Animal in You – Personality Test

Took this online test today. Interesting! Would you believe it called me a Porcupine?

Try it yourself.

The Animal In You – You’re a Porcupine!

Thanks for taking the Animal In You personality test! We’ve determined that your personality best matches the Porcupine, but you might also be a Snake or a Mountain Goat. Click here to take the test and find out more about over forty other animal types!

Winter in Morro Bay

Thought I’d give ya’ll a glimpse of Winter in Morro Bay, CA… the central coast of sunny California. We just finished one week of stormy weather… and promises of more to come.
True, the daytime temps never went below 50F, and it wasn’t one continuous storm, but wave after wave. There were a few days that included lightning and thunder and nearly every day included some high winds. One day we had gusts up to 75 mph.

Two days we were without electricity because a tree a tree was blown over, covering 3 campsites and knocking down the power lines. A couple of days the surf was the highest that it has been since 1986.

Our campground is a mess of debris!

But there has been worse in other parts of SoCal… I hear that there was 5 inches of snow in Yucipa, near San Bernadino and Loma Linda!

When we just HAD to go to town this week, we sought out the Wal-Mart in Arroya Grande. A s we turned into the parking lot the thunder was rolling overhead and the rain was pelting down with gusto. So, I let Evelyn out at the door and went on to find a parking place. I was dashing through the rain for the shelter of the store , when I passed an amazing sight. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I ran back to the car to get my camera. I’ve never seen a sight like this in my life.

Passenger side windshield

Rear Window, Driver side
 Notice Spiderman lying on the back ledge, waging a War on Grime!
This was a middle-aged Saturn, packed nearly to the ceiling with active trash. This was not just someone hauling stuff to the recycle center. It was a continuous growth of garbage! True, some of it was bagged, but most of it was composed empty cracker and cookie boxes, candy bar wrappers, coffee cups, toy packaging. The front passenger seat was filled nearly to the ceiling. Empty cups flowed across the dashboard and a few were smashed on the floor around the brake and gas pedals. The seat and floor was full beyond the headrests. The deck behind the rear seats had a small peep hole accommodating a view through the rear-view mirror. I would have loved to have hung out for a while to talk to the owner…. but that was cold water running down the back of my neck. I had suffered enough for these photos to back up my story.
Today we visited the Museum of Natural History that is across the street from our Park. It is run mostly by volunteers and is funded by donations from local businesses. All the firewood for our parks in this area is supplied by prison labor, and is sold by the Camp Hosts in the State Parks. The proceeds all go to this museum to help defray operating costs.
During a break in the storms I discovered the flowers of the Eucalyptus trees. Our campsite has been bombarded for weeks with the “nuts” from these trees. The brought the flowers down to my lens.
During an afternoon lull, I photographed Jolie “catching some rays” from her new bed.

May all of your storms be a source of joy, and fill your heart with hope for a better time.

Camping Hosts

It’s been a busy week. We got things pretty well set up in our “permanent” location. We’ve been trained by Paul and Ginny, and Ranger Dale. We been finger-printed and had our backgrounds checked, and today we get our photo-ID badges that will make us official-looking.
On our days off we’ve visited some of the other State Parks along the Central Coast. Montana de Oro is the best one that is nearby. We’ve attended two nearby churches, found the closest Costco, Wal-mart and Mac stores. Tried a new sub-shop and an authentic Mexican restaurant, Chile Peppers.

Sunday morning was a high tide. To up the ante for spectacular views, there had been a 6.2 earthquake near San Francisco Bay over night. The surf was exceptionally loud when I made my rounds at 7AM. So we decided to make a quick trip out to Spooner Cove at Montana de Oro to see what we could see.

The waves making it into the cove were awesome alright, but beyond the point they seemed to be higher. So after taking a few pics at the rocks, we walked out to the south point. There we found three surfer dudes who had taken the morning’s #10 Surf and Weather Alert to be a challenge… they were surfing. After the first two made it in OK, I thought I’d try to capture the next one with my camera. Not having a good tele lens, I wasn’t too sure if it would work. Here is one of the many photos of him. I’ve it titled, Finding Waldo in the Waves.

Another event that made my day, was the photograph a green flare. According to some coastal sunset watchers here, a green flare or halo can be seen around the sun just as it is setting over the water. So, one evening I set up the camera and started taking exposure every 5-8 seconds, about the time I thought it would be seen. I never did see it. Maybe it was because the sun was too bright to be looking directly at it, or maybe it was because I was wearing my sunglasses, I don’t know, but I was a little disappointed. But imagine my surprise when I started unloading the photos to my computer! In this case, it wasn’t a flash… but a glow that lasted for 4 exposures!

Talked this morning with a gentleman a couple site over from us. We had watched as he baited a couple of tables with peanuts, then proceeded to set up some very expensive looking video cameras. He flagged Evelyn down, as she was heading into town to do some laundry, to ask what kind of bird was her favorite.
“Hummingbirds,” she replied. Whereupon , he dug around in the trunk of his car and gave her a DVD of Hummingbirds that he had filmed.

He and I talked computers, the advantages of Canon cameras and the marvels of God’s flying creations. He encouraged me to sacrifice for a tele lens. “Go into debt if you have to,” he proclaimed, “If you don’t, when they’re putting you into that underground closet you’ll be moaning, ‘I could have gotten a better shot with a bigger lens.’”

Then he bent over to pick up a penny that had been lying on the ground. Handing it to me, he said, “Here’s your down payment! Don’t give up the dream!”

01-02-2010 Sneaking up on Birds

OK? So  how long will you continue to write 2009 for the date, as I just caught myself doing?

Has the full moon been just gorgeous the past couple of nights? I’m truly sorry if, wherever you are, you are socked it by rain clouds or snow flurries. It has been clear here and light enough to walk around outside at night without the aid a flashlight.

Yesterday, about mid-morning, we unfolded the Port-a-bote and rowed a short loop of Morro Bay. Just around the corner from our camp is an estuary with hoards of birds. We just HAD to check them out at a closer range.

Passing the marina, we launched into this view of Morro Rock.

As we rowed past the marina entrance I snapped this little guardian of the portal.

The first birds that we got really close to were these little brown an gray ones with long beaks. Haven’t been able to identify them yet, but we were absolutely amazed at how fearless they were! I paddled right up to them until the boat wouldn’t float any longer. They were barely 4 feet away from us and Jolie was quivering with excitement.

This little Snowy Egret reminded us of a movie, “Grumpy Old Man.” When all the others had taken flight, he just sat there, daring us to get any closer. His “stinkey-eye” look kept us at about 20 feet… just to humor an old guy!

Click here for more pictures.