June 2016

Barn Swallows

First they checked out the neighborhood and found it agreeable.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)


Then they built a home under the patio eaves.

Barn Swallow nest


The wife mostly stayed at home

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

while the husband kept watch from the light fixture.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

And then, a blessed event.  Triplets.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)


Huey, Dewey, and Louie.  Oh, and mom’s a bit miffed that i didn’t ask permission to photograph the kids.


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“I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking,” said the NRA’s chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, on CBS’ Face the Nation, disagreeing with Donald Trump’s wish that one of the club-goers in Orlando had shot Omar Mateen.

But then he later thought better of that and tweeted, “I want to clarify my comment: if you’re going to carry, don’t drink. OK to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol.”

Ummm, yes. So there’ll be two people at your table who can’t drink, the designated driver and the designated shooter.


Meanwhile, my friend David has made me sick with envy of some of his fence shots, so in blatant copycat mode:

Sonoma Mountain Fence



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Drawbridge Expedition

We know how i am about bridges and that i’m twice as bad about drawbridges.  Well, when i drove off to Oakdale to do that photo essay about Oakdale Cheese, i couldn’t help noticing several drawbridges on the way to and from the cheesery.  However, i was On a Mission and did not have time going or energy returning to mess around with finding vantages from which to photograph those bridges.

So last week i mounted a second expedition with the goal of photographing them (plus one fixed span).

If we head east on SR12 from Fairfield, the first bridge we come to is the Helen Madere Memorial Bridge across the Sacramento River in Rio Vista.

Helen Madere Memorial Bridge



Helen Madere Memorial Bridge


Even closer

Helen Madere Memorial Bridge


About seven miles east of Rio Vista, SR12 passes over the S. Mokelumne River on the Mokelumne River Bridge just a couple of miles above the point at which it pours into the San Jacinto.  Only one shot of this bridge because there’s only one point from which it can be photographed.  Period.  See, the problem out here in the delta is that the roads are mostly on top of dikes, and there are rarely shoulders onto which you can pull over for photos.

Mokelumne River Bridge


About seven miles farther east, just before passing by the village of Terminous, SR12 crosses Little Potato Slough, a curious body of water that connects the S. Mokelumne River and the San Jacinto River.  And for this dinky little slough we get the Little Potato Slough Bridge that doesn’t look like a drawbridge but is.

Little Potato Slough Bridge


And from underneath the other end.  The swing section is just this side of the tender tower.  You can’t see the slough because its banks are ten foot high dikes.

Little Potato Slough Bridge


I called Terminous a “village”, but it’s actually a “census-designated place” of 381 souls that was the end of a railroad branch line and sits at an elevation of -7 feet.  Yep, minus seven.  This is the delta, where most of the land is what they call “islands”, which are actually holes in the water surrounded by dikes owing to subsistence from over a century of agriculture.  Gonna be real interesting as sea level rises and more and more of the “islands” are breached and keeping them dry becomes a losing battle.


Just west of Lodi, SR12 hits I5, and we turn right down to Stockton and grab SR4 west.

The first drawbridge on our way back on SR4 is the Middle River Bridge.

Middle River Bridge


And a closeup

Middle River Bridge


The second drawbridge is the Old River Bridge.  Here’s a shot into the mouth.

Old River Bridge


A kind reader wondered if there were one of those “No Jumping” signs on the Golden Gate Bridge.  Why didn’t i think of that?  Yes yes yes, instead of squandering fifty million dollars on a hideously ugly anti-suicide fence, we could solve the problem with one of those hundred dollar signs.


A side view.

Old River Bridge


What is this, you wonder, with the “middle” and “old” rivers?  Well, if you look at the delta from above, particularly the southern part where the San Joaquin flows in toward its junction with the Sacramento, all the meandering waterways look like a loose tangle of blue spaghetti.  To get across all that flat delta, the river forks just west of Manteca into three main channels, and after much forking and reforking the old and middle rivers rejoin the main branch before it flows into the Sacramento at Antioch.

Finally, it’s not a drawbridge, but here’s the Antioch Bridge, which crosses the San Joaquin immediately before the confluence.  There were dozens of people fishing for stripers off that pier.  What is it about being born in fresh water but spending your life in salt water before returning to fresh water to spawn and die that makes you so delicious?

Antioch Bridge

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Interesting Times

What color shirts will Trump’s militia wear?


We certainly are living in the proverbial interesting times.  Who would have guessed a couple of years ago that both of our reigning political parties would end up being beset by insurgents and led by candidates most notable for how disliked they are.

While the Democratic party was able to fend off its insurgent, it didn’t close ranks much tighter than the Republicans since only a handful of Republican congressmembers endorsed Trump before it was clear that he would win. Well yes, rats know not to jump off a ship until it’s sinking…and the proposed new home is seaworthy.

It was fascinating to watch Republican endorsements of Trump become a tsunami as he approached and then passed the Magic Number, but Clinton, not being the insurgent, had the endorsements of all the Democratic establishment before the campaign even started.

Clinton’s campaign didn’t disintegrate like those of Trump’s opposition, so since she’s always been ahead in the delegate count, only a single Democratic senator and nine representatives have endorsed Sanders, and the rest of the rats remain onboard with Clinton.

And oh, the ironies. The Clintonistas have been squealing themselves hoarse for a couple of months over Sanders’ failure to concede the nomination even though Clinton didn’t concede to Obama in 2008 until several days after he’d gained a majority of delegates. But that was then.

The Sandersites have been vigorously complaining over the unfairness of Clinton getting to count delegates she’s won in states that she cannot possibly take this fall, but for goodness sake, that’s the way primaries have worked for some time, you count the votes you have in the primary to determine your party’s candidate for the fall election.  Are we going to have a rule stating that since Mississippi is certain to vote Republican in the fall, it should not even hold a Democratic primary?  And what about the swing states?

My favorite campaign ludicrousness, though, is the Democratic establishment claims that Sanders is damaging the party when they know very well that Sanders isn’t trying to damage their party but rather to take it over and sweep aside everyone who isn’t feeling the Bern.  It’s not their party they’re worried about.  It’s their skins.

This is already the most interesting election campaign of my life, and we’re not even done with the primaries yet.  Even though Clinton will almost certainly cinch the nomination on the 7th of June with New Jersey votes three hours before polls close in California, she’s basically camping out here until our primary in a last ditch campaign to prevent the embarrassment of Sanders’ taking a majority of the state’s votes.  Sanders, of course, is combing the state from one end to the other, drawing his usual huge crowds in an attempt to gain leverage.

When the primaries are over and it’s down to Trump vs. Clinton, it’ll get downright fascinating…and abundantly ad hominem. After all, when you have two candidates whose primary characteristic is the astonishing degree to which they are hated, what greater incentive can there be for vicious personal attacks?  Not to mention rioting between supporters for the two camps as already seen in violence at Trump rallies, both toward and from his supporters.

Also, Trump’s positions on many issues are more popular with a majority of Democrats than Clinton’s.  Compare her hawkishness with his neo-isolationism.  Compare her coziness with Wall Street to his denunciations of The Banks.  So i’m agreeing with the folks who are saying it’ll be a closer race than we might have expected since for many voters it will be a choice between a mad dog and a reptilian apparatchik.

Well, unless Clinton offers Sanders the vice-presidency and he agrees, which would snag her the Sanders crowd guarantee her victory.

Alternatively, Clinton could accept Trump’s offer of the vice-presidency, which would greatly simplify the election and save millions of Americans the trauma of having to watch all those attack ads.

The downside of that union, though, would be the loss of large numbers of lives in the stampedes at the Canadian border.

Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago i met Sybil at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market.  I got there a bit early and sat watching a biscuit vendor set up his stall.  Here’s the final step – seeding the tip jar.

seeding the tip jar

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