Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph: Blog en-us (C) Megan Ralph (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:38:00 GMT Mon, 21 Aug 2017 02:38:00 GMT Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph: Blog 90 120 A Chance Encounter - All Remained Intact This critter and I saw each other at about the same time. I said: "Oh!" It said: "Shake that rattle". Or similar. I was a good 15 feet away and in no danger. I backed up to about 40 feet away before it stopped warning me. It was a standoff for a while, but I did kind of want to get to where I was headed so I did an end around.

(Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus)

It looked like it had a foxtail stuck in one of its pits or nostrils.

Side note: while I was getting ready this morning to go out on this walk, I thought to myself, well, you look like a right dork with these snake gaiters on. But, as my husband reminds me, the only dumb safety equipment is the safety equipment you did *not* use and regretted you didn't. So: no regrets today, although technically I didn't need the gaiters because I wasn't very close.


Rattlesnake ]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) dryad ranch rattlesnake Mon, 21 Aug 2017 01:01:43 GMT
Drake's Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore A friend talked me into a short trip to the ocean (it took very little arm twisting). It was a foggy morning, but we persevered. We were rewarded with views of sea anemones and lots of sand dollars. And a dolphin!

This horrid seagull we christened Jonathan Livingston Asshole, as he or she hung around our picnic and lunged at a morsel I had been intending to eat. I kept the prize. 


I thought this sailboat lurking just offshore was intriguing. 

Long-billed Curlew just for fun.





]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) drake's beach long-billed curlew point reyes national seashore seagull Sun, 13 Aug 2017 01:15:00 GMT
It's Always Uphill It was only 94F when I returned from my walk this morning - my first in weeks! (Smoke from the fire a few weeks ago, way too damn hot the other weeks, visiting Mom, etc). Anyway, better than 109 or worse.

I walked down to the Chowchilla - meaning it was uphill coming home as usual - I was impressed at how much water is still in the river even now in August. Also, it seems that the rains this year must have washed out the invasive bullfrogs that have choked the river in the past. I didn't see or hear a single one.

Western Fence Lizard


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Mon, 07 Aug 2017 02:00:00 GMT
Scenic View from My Office I have to admit, it's a fine thing to be working at home now. I closed up my office in Oakhurst back in March and it's mostly been great. (My husband had to get used to having me around more.) The view from the office window was pretty nifty today.

Snoozy Horses Outside the WindowSnoozy Horses Outside the Window


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) dryad ranch horses Thu, 29 Jun 2017 02:30:00 GMT
Working Cattle Our uphill neighbors have started a small (for now) cattle operation, with grass finished beef. I was invited to come observe and photograph the action when they had to brand and vaccinate several calves, and castrate the boys.  This shot of Luke roping a calf was the best shot of the day.

Roping a CalfRoping a Calf

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Sun, 21 May 2017 02:45:00 GMT
Road Trip - Take a Ride to the Seaside Indeed, the wonderful Emmylou Harris version of One Big Love was part of the soundtrack for a jaunt to the Santa Cruz coastline for a day trip with a good friend.

I asked that we pull over specifically because I loved the look of these two trees easily visible from Hwy 1 while passing through Ano Nuevo State Park.

Trees - Ano Nuevo State Park, Santa Cruz CoastTrees - Ano Nuevo State Park, Santa Cruz Coast

I thought I'd try my hand at an action shot - it's safe to say the waves were not monsters that morning.

Surfer - Santa Cruz CoastSurfer - Santa Cruz Coast

This seagull was doing cute gull things.

Gull on Santa Cruz BeachGull on Santa Cruz Beach

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Ano Coast Cruz Nuevo Park Santa State Fri, 09 Sep 2016 21:25:23 GMT
Backroads Are Great A couple of weeks ago, I had to go to Fresno for one of those annual checkups that aren't much fun - not awful just, you'd rather not have to. Anyway, I decided I would take a back road home and I tossed my camera bag in the truck in hopes there might be something interesting to see.

California Farmland - Storm on the WayCalifornia Farmland - Storm on the Way

I really am fascinated by some of the agricultural buildings - I never know what they are for and there is never anyone there to ask.

Farm BuildingFarm Building

I also ran into two curious bovines for the cattle series.

Curious Cows IVCurious Cows IVThe story behind these cows (and isn't it nice they have their horns) is that I had stopped on a back road to take a picture of some neat farmland that was ready to be planted. In the field was the cutest little baby burro and his Mom and I took some minutes to say hi and give scratches. After a bit, I looked up to see that our interaction was an interesting one, according to these bovines.


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Sun, 24 Apr 2016 04:46:38 GMT
UC Merced Vernal Pools Preserve A couple of weeks ago we went with our local Audubon group which sponsored a really interesting field trip today to a fascinating area of Central California - the vernal pools and open grassland area around the UC campus. This is an area where seasonal wetlands/pools form on a clay pan terrain and is home to a number of unusual and endangered critters including fairy shrimp. (We indeed saw some!)

Since it was Audubon, of course we saw lots of great birds also, including bald eagles, a prairie falcon, and some of the group saw a Peregrine Falcon, which we weren't lucky enough to spot.

The preserve maintains a herd (herds perhaps) of dairy cattle who are "prettier" than the beef cattle around our place, but are spooky and silly things that hopped around in consternation when our group drove by.

Dairy Cow on UC Merced Vernal Pools PreserveDairy Cow on UC Merced Vernal Pools Preserve

This is a vista view of the landscape with one of the several windmills still in operation.

Windmill UC Merced Vernal Pools PreserveWindmill UC Merced Vernal Pools Preserve






]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) UC Merced Vernal Pools cattle windmill Fri, 26 Feb 2016 04:30:00 GMT
Great Egret Last weekend after a visit to my parents, we decided to take a side trip to the Las Gallinas sanitation district in San Rafael - well, actually it's the sewage treatment plant.  Once the water is treated it's pumped into storage "ponds", which are heavily utilized by water birds of many varieties.  We had a lovely morning looking at all the ducks, geese and various waders.  This Great Egret in particular was more than cooperative with my photography plan.

Great EgretGreat Egret

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Great Egret Fri, 12 Feb 2016 02:00:00 GMT
Road Trip: Bonita Springs, Florida This trip was to attend a conference.  The only other time I'd set foot in Florida was just that:  my family was visiting Alabama, we got to the state line and stood one foot in Florida, the other in Alabama.  I dunno, that probably doesn't count.  Anyway, I spent most of my time actually cooped up inside doing my best to get the most out of the training and info sessions, but I did have the opportunity to take walks during one lunchtime and also in the post-session/banquet interlude.  Surprisingly, once I'd gotten not too far from the hotel grounds, I found some interesting "nature" areas that hadn't been overly groomed.  I watched a pair of Ospreys sitting in a nest tree and also a Northern Harrier hunting.

The area around a boat launch into Estero Bay:

Boat Launch Area Estero BayBoat Launch Area Estero Bay

An interesting tree, that a friend characterized as a Dr. Seuss tree:

Tree in Bonita SpringsTree in Bonita SpringsWhen a friend saw this picture, she thought it looked like a Dr. Seuss tree.

And, a fun shot after I got back to the hotel.  I flopped down to ground level to take this pic of a big fountain:

Fountain At Hyatt Regency Bonita Springs FloridaFountain At Hyatt Regency Bonita Springs FloridaWhile visiting for a conference, I could not resist getting down on my tummy to take a near-water level shot


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Bonita Springs, Florida Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:30:00 GMT
Old Farm Equipment One of my favorite areas to photograph is some miles from our place, in the grasslands approaching the foothills.  One of the ranchers has a wonderful collection of old farm equipment displayed on their place at the corner of Road 600 and Road 603.  I happened to be going by with my camera at an opportune moment recently.

Old Farm EquipmentOld Farm Equipment


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Farm Equipment Tue, 09 Feb 2016 04:15:00 GMT
Lest You Think I Abandoned an Entire Lifeform Of course I still love fungi!  And the weather has been must friendlier, AKA wetter, this year, meaning I've been finding all sort of great fungi this year, some of which seem to be obscure or undocumented species.  Either that or they are so nondescript that no one cares.  No one except yours truly.

These are very tiny (no more than 3 mm) fungi - no gills, instead a smooth pore structure.  I found them growing in the moss on a big chunk of Raymond granite.

Tiny Moss FungiTiny Moss FungiThese fungi do not have gills, instead they have a smooth underside. The largest of these was no more than 3 mm across.

A type of Crepidotus, with a lovely gill structure.

CrepidotusCrepidotusI believe these tiny fungi are a species of Crepidotus, maybe C. mollis. The gill structure of these I find quite beautiful

Apparently, these are Gloeophyllum sepiarium, a lovely gilled polypore that grows on rotting oak logs.

Gloeophyllum sepiariumGloeophyllum sepiariumI'm told by someone far more knowledgeable than I, that these are Gloeophyllum sepiarium.


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Dryad Ranch fungi Sat, 06 Feb 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Road Trip: Portland, Oregon Just after Christmas, I took a four day trip to Portland.  I call it road trip but of course I flew.  I did contemplate some other combination of conveyance - perhaps a train, then rent a car to drive down the coast, but ultimately time constraints sealed the deal for me.

My travelling companion, an old friend who used to work at the same company, and I did any number of touristy things, including, maybe especially, visiting Powell's Books.  It was ever so lovely to spend time in a Real Bookstore with Real Books!  I bought some sheet music also.

I think the most enjoyable part of the trip was visiting the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  I took the next photo from the Tillikum Crossing Bridge on our way to the museum.

Boats in the Willamette RiverBoats in the Willamette RiverTaken from the Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland, December 2015

We also went to visit Pittock Mansion, a lovely old house filled with antiques and other tourists.  The house was enveloped with fog the day we visited, and on our perambulations around the grounds, we noticed this interesting tree.

Tree in the Mist - Pittock MansionTree in the Mist - Pittock MansionThis was taken in December 2015 during a cloudy and drizzling morning


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Pittock Mansion Portland, Oregon Tillikum Crossing Bridge Fri, 05 Feb 2016 04:45:00 GMT
Landscapes Life has gotten in the way of writing little blog posts - actually it's more that my paying work has been extremely busy and I haven't been left with much extra energy for writing.  Plus, and this is a great thing, I have been using what extra there is to practice the piano.  Now mind you, I am still a rank beginner but it is still great fun even during the frustrating times.

Nevertheless, I do still take out my camera most every weekend.  Around our place, it's been mostly birds and I would call those record shots. 

I did happen to have the camera around for a couple of nice landscapes - this first one I took on the way home from a Bay Area trip.  I managed to catch the light just before it - poof! - went away.  I have taken several other nice photos of the area around where I took this image, which is on Avenue 26 heading east out of Chowchilla toward the Sierra. 

Avenue 26 SunsetAvenue 26 Sunset

And this second image is from a particular outlook heading into Oakhurst on Road 600. I drive past this spot every day on the way to work - some days the view is extra specially beautiful, such as on this day right after a good soaky rainstorm.


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Avenue 26 Oakhurst Sat, 14 Nov 2015 02:30:00 GMT
The Season is Changing (as it is wont to do) I got the first hints this last weekend that autumn is coming around again.  My Saturday walk had me feeling a certain crispness - not truly brisk yet - and some nice color.  My Sunday walk started out that way - one minute I was walking along the river enjoying the sweet smell of what little moisture is left in the Chowchilla, the next brought a shift in the wind and lungfuls of nasty smoke from the Rough Fire.  That fire has been burning for weeks and decided to send bad air our way again after some days of staying to itself.

This image was taken on the neighbor's side of the river, looking back and up at the far end of our ranch, the area we call the Northwest Territory.  This metal gate is the ingress to our place.

Gate to the Northwest TerritoryGate to the Northwest Territory

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Chowchilla River Dryad Ranch autumn gate Thu, 10 Sep 2015 03:00:00 GMT
The Cow Baby Stage Is Kind of Cute, I Admit The calves really do mommy-up and the moms are mostly attentive.  Having said that, this mom gave herself a dust bath while the little one was trying to drink milk, putting dust EVERYWHERE and preventing baby from eating.  Temporarily.

Peeking OutPeeking Out

Cleaning Up the Little OneCleaning Up the Little One

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Dryad Ranch cattle Tue, 14 Jul 2015 03:30:00 GMT
Not Rules, Certainly Not When I go on my photo walks, I have a few guidelines that I mostly adhere to - they seem to help the creative result.

1. Enjoy being outdoors and aim to get into a flow of some sort.  Attempt to let troublesome thoughts take a back seat and pay attention to what is around me.

2. Try to get the best picture possible of whatever the subject is.  If taking a picture of a stationary object, take the time to get the setup right.  Otherwise, get the camera ready ahead of time to take pictures of moving critters.

3. Hope for seeing and photographing something "new", i.e. that I haven't taken a picture of before.  (Yesterday, I got a shot of a Tiger Swallowtail - they are common and I've seen them before, but never photographed)

4. Sometimes it's ok to just watch and not take a picture.

5. Take a picture early in the walk even if it's a throwaway.  It breaks the ice.  Pixels are cheap.6. Sometimes nothing works.  It will next time.

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) dryad ranch wild turkey Tue, 07 Jul 2015 02:00:00 GMT
The Gate Bull This bull, for whatever reason, seems to like hanging out at what we call the Silver Gate between our place and a neighbor's. We find him there on a fairly regular basis. He doesn't seem to have reached his full growth yet (July 2015) and even though he's still far bigger than little old me, is a bit shy and retreats if "approached", this meaning if a photographer takes a couple steps closer to the fence.

The Gate Bull IThe Gate Bull IThis bull, for whatever reason, seems to like hanging out at what we call the Silver Gate between our place and a neighbor's. We find him there on a fairly regular basis. He doesn't seem to have reached his full growth yet (July 2015) and even though he's still far bigger than little old me, is a bit shy and retreats if "approached", this meaning if a photographer takes a couple steps closer to the fence. The Gate Bull IIThe Gate Bull II

]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) Dryad Ranch cattle Sun, 05 Jul 2015 03:13:58 GMT
Baby Feet I'm on a trip back East - visiting my son and daughter in law in Washington DC.  Lots of family snapshots, I did like this shot of my 8-month old granddaughter's cute little feet.


]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) baby feet Tue, 16 Jun 2015 13:07:42 GMT
Cattle Series - Another I am finding it oddly pleasing that now that I have declared a series, I can stop being embarrassed that I'm taking pictures of cows.  Before, it made me feel rather sheepish (ha ha) that I had to fall back on what could be seen as blatantly easy.  After all, they're everywhere. 

However, they are not always everywhere in a place or time where the images might turn out well, and often times the critters themselves decide not to cooperate.  For being such large mammals, they can be real 'fraidy cats.

Nevertheless, "art" won out on yesterday's walk.

This big guy was happily chewing his cud under a big oak down by the river.

Nothing Like a Good ChewNothing Like a Good ChewThis big guy was in the shade with his cud. Doesn't get better than this.




]]> (Praying Horse Designs by Megan Ralph) cattle dryad ranch Tue, 09 Jun 2015 03:15:00 GMT