south dakota

This is some of my most favorite landscape: grasses on rolling hills. The Badlands are to the south of this picture (we are looking north). The Buffalo Gap National Grasslands here are part of the Nebraska National Forest, because grasslands are administered by the United States Forest Service. 

Yes, that is a telephone or electric wire pole in the middle of the picture.



Southwestern Minnesota is Tallgrass Prairie, without much tallgrass left, but with lots of agriculture and sky and wind. Windmills are going up everywhere, the same kind as we see in the Southern Tier and the Tug Hill of New York State. These things are huge. Here are the rotors, waiting to be trucked to wherever they will be assembled into working windmills. This site is in Pipestone, home to one of the few places in the country where a very soft red metamorphic clay is found layered beneath 20 feet of really hard quartzite. This red rock, called Catlinite in honor of George Catlin, the painter, who first brought examples of the rock to Boston where no one knew what it was, was carved by the local Indians into pipes for specific occasions. Pipestone National Monument is the location of the original quarries.

mississippi river

The border of Wisconsin and Minnesota, where I-90 comes through, is the Mississippi River. Lock and Dam #7 (as well as all the other locks and dams on the river) were built to increase the depth of the river water to at least nine feet at those places where the river was normally shallower than that. Barges carrying grain and other stuff regularly come through here. It is still a commercial river, unlike the New York State Barge Canal/Erie Canal which is now just for recreation. And never were the locks in New York State able to accommodate the extremely long and wide rafts of barges that these locks can.


Once, this rock formation, now called Castle Rock (of course...), was an island in a glacial lake, the floor of which I am standing on to take the photo.



Did you hear about the heavy thunderstorms in northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin today? This is what they looked like.


Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (also Indiana Dunes State Park). This shoreline, from Michigan City to Gary, is an example of wind-driven sand dunes—changing, moving, growing—all in the midst of manufacturing core steel industry, some of which is still left. See the mill in the background.



Not 25 miles west of Oberlin College, the first school of higher education to admit anyone, with no regard to gender or race, in the corn fields of rural Ohio, these sentiments still prevail.



Last weekend, looking across Schroon Lake to the Dix Range. The sun came and went, and came and went. As did the rain.


boreal forest

Eagle River, just east of Anchorage in the Chugach State Park, carries glacial flour, making the water look grey (often called glacial milk). This finely ground rock is the result of the erosion a glacier does of its bed.

The fog is obscuring the views of the mountains.


what is not kept

Tell Me a Story of When We Had Everything
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Hoard: n. 1. a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation or future use; v.t. 2. to accumulate for preservation. . .in a hidden or carefully guarded place. Synonyms: stockpile, reserve, cache, store, stock. With a little editing, that is what the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd edition (1998) says about the word that is this week's Illustration Friday's theme.

If one doesn't keep a supply of things carefully, they will run out because they will be used. And then there will come a day when we will want to hear the stories of what the days of plenty were like. Enjoy the stories.


the big one

The mountain top, from the air. 20,320 feet high, the highest peak in North America.

The bottom of the mountain is somewhere in the clouds, here in the Alaska Range. Treeline is at about 2000 feet elevation.


Arctic Ocean

Looking north. That is sea ice out there, mostly fresh water ice made as the salts are squeezed out when the ocean water is freezing.

The water was cold. The air was at about 40°F. The sun was out all day, up there somewhere and everywhere.



BP drills for oil on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Arctic Ocean. There are several oil fields underground there, each producing oil that travels down the Alaska Oil Pipeline to Valdez where it is put on ships to go to refineries.

Each of these blue boxes contains a wellhead. Once a hole in the ground is drilled deep enough, equipment is attached to the top of the pipe that was put down the hole, and then the whole thing is enclosed in a box to keep critters and cold out. The holes are drilled on ten-foot centers, so many wells can fit in a relatively small space. The wells here are on Endicott Island just offshore in the Arctic Ocean.

The substance that comes out of the ground is in three parts: oil, natural gas, and water. These three must be separated from each other, which is what happens right after these blue boxes. All those pipes carry these things to different places to be processed differently: oil to the pipeline; water to be reinjected into the wells; and natural gas also to be reinjected into the wells until BP builds its new $90 Billion Alaska Gas Pipeline (click on view the powerpoint presentation).

The water and gas are injected into parts of the wells to produce pressure that pushes more oil into the hole so that less oil is left at the bottom. If there is not enough pressure, then oil just does not come up the pipe.

Notice the blue sky; it is daylight there for 24 hours at this time of year.

BP tells a story about its commitment to the environment and its action to avoid spills here.

the pipeline

Tundra is a treeless plain, one where trees cannot grow, not just where they aren't growing. The permafrost here is up to 2100 feet deep. It is early spring now; the surface is thawing, water is everywhere and cannot percolate into the permafrost so it pools and flows. Daylight is 24 hours long; there is no darkness until winter when there is no light. Plants are growing now, but not enough yet to turn the ground green. About 70°N, 148°W. And in the midst of this is the Alaska Oil Pipeline, that diagonal line running from lower middle left to middle right.



The Pipeline is the Punchline
10 inches wide x 8 inches high, across two pages of a notebook

I spent the last week in Alaska. Three days were spent in a Chautauqua workshop on Oil in Alaska; two of those days were in the BP conference room listening to many lectures on the production of oil on the North Slope. Then the last day, we went to Prudhoe Bay up on the Arctic Ocean to see how BP gets oil out of the ground and sends it down the Alaska Oil Pipeline. There will be much more about this in subsequent posts—stay tuned.

Today's post is really in response to Illustration Friday's theme, punchline, put up last Friday. I created this piece out of images from various brochures and other publications that I saw while in Alaska. As good as BP might be about their safety and environmental concerns, their bottom line is still, indeed, the production of oil and soon, if all goes as they plan, natural gas. And the pipeline(s) that move the stuff are the end of the North Slope story. This is where the fuel goes to get to the Lower 48 where we use it all up. And of all the oil that we use here, 20 per cent of it is produced by BP from the North Slope of Alaska, up on the Arctic Ocean, pulling the stuff from underground reserves that were laid down millions of years ago. It is a long, long story.


great concert

Allison Krauss and Robert Plant played at CMAC in Canandaigua last night. Excellent show!

With T-Bone Burnett, who produced the album, Raising Sand.
This is quite possibly the best concert that I have heard in many years. They sang and played for two hours, everything from Siren Song to Led Zeppelin stuff. Who would have thought that Zeppelin could actually sound tuneful :) There was one fellow who thought he was at a Zeppelin concert; he kept hooting and hollering and whistling so loudly that it was quite distracting. But I guess this is the closest that he will come to hearing that band ever...his dream was fulfilled.


where are they going?

The Forgotten Are Leaving
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday thought that the word forgotten would be a difficult theme to work with. Too much is forgotten in this world to make it hard to interpret. Could have gone anywhere with anything. I chose this route. Go with it. Maybe it is better over there.


new world

New World
10 inches high x 8 inches high

Illustration Friday's theme this week: Baby. A new person.
How many more people do we need? It's the Earth that needs to be reborn.


an outdoor show

I was asked to participate in a local artisans and crafters outdoor festival this weekend. I have never done an outdoor event, nor did I particularly want to, but decided that this was a good opportunity for me to try something new, to see how it might work. I bought a tent and spent the past two weeks feverishly working on building an inventory of cards and prints of my collages, printing out labels and packaging everything up. Bought a tent. Decided to use my quilts as tablecloths for the tables. Colorful.

Friday's set-up: No neighbors yet. I left only the furniture, curtains, and tablecloths/quilts in the tent overnight (closed-up tent, of course; weighted down).

Saturday morning: This is what it looked like at 7 a.m. The boxes of stuff in the foreground are my neighbor's on this side. Then there is my collapsed tent with the furniture partly moved to set up the tent again. It had rained overnight, with heavy winds. This event is being held on a hill and our line of tents was at the end of the driveway, a tunnel for the moving wind from the west (in this photo, we are looking north). Beyond me are three more collapsed tents, then one standing, then two more down. Everything is sopping wet.

Saturday, a couple of hours later: I'm all set up again. But notice the bulging left side on my tent and on the one to my right. The wind kept blowing and blowing, getting stronger all day, up to about 20 mph. Everything was blowing down. Both tents on either side of me collapsed again. I took mine down at around 1 pm and was moved to a gazebo on a sheltered side of the main barn on the festival property.

I traded one $9 card for a couple of wooden puzzles with a woman who makes them.
I sold one $3.25 card to the husband of a friend.

The weather for Sunday, today, is forecast to be like Saturday but cooler and maybe less rain (yes, it rained during the day, too). I decided not to go back. Cut my losses. Clean up the chaos in the house instead.

And so that is my first outdoor festival experience. Possibly my last.