Ichabod’s Delight

I am very diligent about keeping my career isolated from the meanderings here at LifeIntrigued.  That will never change and besides this endeavor exists as a small break from that busy world.  With that stated, I will say today was one of the toughest days I’ve have ever had in that other world – one I will likely not forget.  But enough of that, let’s get to something far more entertaining – pumpkins, kerosene and toilet paper.  How  can you go wrong with that combination.. hint.. You Can’t!!
Halloween Trail 2015 - The Flaming Pumpkin

Unlike most of the posts on this blog, this particular one has very little direct influence by me.  I didn’t carve the pumpkin, I didn’t prep the pumpkin, I didn’t light the pumpkin and I didn’t even take the pictures you are going to see on this post.  Nope!  For those keeping score, I did do all the photo processing and banged out the words you are reading so at least there was some form of contribution.  A couple of weeks ago, the DoeRybarNerFler Haunted Trail was once again on display.  The details of this year’s epic endeavor will be coming at you soon – that annual post requires a lot of picture processing I have not been able to get to in these recent hectic weeks. A new feature for this year’s trail was The Flaming Pumpkin.  It was considered last year but fear of lighting up the woods scared me away.  This year a 10 page risk assessment was created, firefighters were brought in to assess the threat and a crew of highly trained forest fire jumpers were hired to stand watch over it.  My friend Paul was really the brains behind this fiery decoration based on a video he had seen on YouTube last year.  I must say, that video was amazing but still skeptical it worked as advertised – guess what – it works EXACTLY as advertised and man it is cool.

LifeIntrigued Disclaimer: NEVER DO THIS – NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.  This is extremely dangerous and you WILL get hurt if you try it.  Are you thinking this might be good to try – WELL STOP THINKING IT NOW – I mean it – don’t make me come over there.

Okay, with the lawyers satisfied, back to the regularly scheduled programming.

There isn’t much too it – you carve a medium to large size real pumpkin – let me stress that again a REAL – DO NOT TRY THIS ON A FOAM PUMPKIN.  As a note, feel free to spend as much time on you carving as you want to, but do not get to attached to it – at the end of the night that pumpkin will be ready for the trash.  Carve the pumpkin in traditional fashion, you have to have a bottom in the pumpkin capable of holding liquid so don’t bother with any of those fancy pants methods that core out from the bottom.  Take it to a safe place free of flammable items and establish a safe zone with at least 4 large rolls of bright yellow caution tape.  Fill the bottom up with what appears to be about an inch or two of kerosene.  Take a full roll of toilet paper (your choice on the ply) and place it hole vertical in the center of the bottom.  Let it soak up some of the kerosene and then tell everyone to get like 40 feet or more away.  Find a large stick and then duct tape another long stick to that followed by another duct taped stick with a match on the end.  Anything less than 8 ft will jeopardize your eyebrows.

Once those steps are followed exactly, you can light the toilet paper – stand back and enjoy a flaming paradise for about the next 2 hrs.

So there you go, not much to it right?  Truth be told, I could watch fire for hours.  Something about the flames are mesmerizing to me and drives my imagination to new levels.  Much like clouds, the abstract and random shapes produced by the flames drive the mind to associate to physical representations.  Hoping this isn’t just me that has this experience – if so, please let me know so I can schedule an appointment and get checked out.  In the meantime, I thought I’d post some of Linda’s fine work and give you insights into what physical forms it takes in my strange  (straight from my 7th grade teacher – honest, ask my brother) mind.

Let’s start with my favorite one – for each I’ll let you view it and then I’ll give my perspective afterwards – interested in hearing how far off, close etc. we are in the comments

Halloween Trail 2015 - The Flaming Pumpkin

So this one to me looks like a ghostly figure at the top of the flames in a hood.  It is facing to the left and the hood and cloak are formed by the whiter parts of the flame.  The flame has two eyes and a nose set into the hood.  It has the left arm straight out towards you and the right one is hanging down closer to the side.  I’m probably going to have this one printed I like it so much.

Next up!

Halloween Trail 2015 - The Flaming Pumpkin

Once again I see a ghastly figure rising up out of the flames.  The head is dropped down a bit into the body with the main column with two arms raised up in a scare posture.  It also kind of looks like a small head in the upper right part of the flame with the hair outlined in white and the eyes and skull face in the darker orange.  Keeping with that theme, there is actually a pumpkin then in the air above it turned to the right – you can see one eye and a smiling mouth – contrasting nicely with the grumpy cat carving on the pumpkin itself.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of this year’s scary Haunted Trail addition

Continue reading Ichabod’s Delight

Rud[dy] Can’t Fail

As promised, I’m back and as foreshadowed it’s another post featuring a bird.  If it is any consolation I promise this will be the last bird post … for the month.  If you recall, I was looking through the Ft. Myers’ collection when I spotted the Black-Bellied Plover featured a couple of posts ago.  This happens to be the bird I was actually looking for at the time.

Ruddy Turnstone shot at Fort Meyers

I wanted to make sure my crappy shots at the Emiquon floodle were not of a Ruddy Turnstone – which is the bird for today’s post.  I was sure it was in the tin already and just wanted to double back and confirm my latest shot wasn’t a morphing Ruddy.  It checked out against these Ruddy specimens, but in that same set found the perfect match I used in the Plover post.  Since I was already in there, figured it would be a good time to go ahead and post it and more importantly get my official +1 for the Birding Life List.

Ruddy Turnstone shot at Fort Meyers

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this stunning shorebird.

Continue reading Rud[dy] Can’t Fail

The 1100 Payoff

In the final week and three posts to go!  Thought it was good time to give a break on the bird posts – a short break, but still, some relief for those out there that prefer their birds on a plate.  Today’s post was prompted by last Sunday’s big step in my running career.  For the first time ever, I finally crested the 20 mile mark on a training run.  Damn near killed me, but a notch is a notch.  One of the things that keep me going on long runs is thinking about blog posts.  This particular one was helping to motivate me through the hell my body was going through!
2015 Peoria Half Marathon

For the second Sunday in a row I was breaking personal running records.  Yesterday was a distance record, the previous Sunday was a speed record.  As you can tell from the swag above, I ran the Peoria Half Marathon a week ago.  This was supposed to be a final warm up before tackling a much bigger endeavor planned for the end of the month. The intent was to go out at a comfortable pace and simply relax to the end – slow and steady and more importantly, not cause injury to anything that would jeopardize a bigger goal.  Well, that was the plan.  The morning started off as an answer to a runner’s prayers – it was downright cold out.  We left the house at 29 degrees!

2015 Peoria Half Marathon

No worries about overheating that day.  I even decided to pull out the tights knowing it wasn’t supposed to break 40 until after my expected finish time.  My training partner Ryan was toeing the line that day as well – he prefers to run a lot cooler than I do as you can tell by his attire.  A hat and long sleeves means it is definitely cold out for normal people.  Linda was complaining I was not smiling in this pre-race shot.  Wanna know why –  I WAS SHIVERING.   Luckily my grimace was countered by the happy photobomber hehehe.

Hit the jump to see how the frigid start turned out!

Continue reading The 1100 Payoff

Floodle Camouflage

Howdy everyone!  I’m back with another post in another desperate attempt to hit my quota this month.  To give a little insight into the workflow that occurs around here at LifeIntrigued, there are times when I panic and times when I’m just acutely aware that my output needs to be ramped up.  Panic is reserved for those times I have nothing in the hopper, no pictures processed and worse of all – no content ideas.  Contrasting that with the much lower entry on the concern scale where I know I’m late but most of the pictures are processed already and best of all, there’s a topic already earmarked for at least the quota amount.

Black-Bellied Plover shot at Fort Meyers

Fortunately for me, this month falls into the latter.  The pictures for this post and the next are already processed and the other topics have at least the theme identified with the raw shots already taken.  The best thing about having the picture processing done for the post is I can write it up from just about anywhere there is an Internet connection.  Take for example today where I’m coming to  you from a lonely road near Alton IL.  We were down here doing some errands and a little birding.  Thanks to Linda agreeing to drive – we get to spend the travel time cranking posts out – yeah!

Black-Bellied Plover shot at Fort Meyers

Continue reading Floodle Camouflage

Another Find in the Flooded Flats

Well, today I was accused of not having any October posts out (by my wife mind you).  Obviously my loyal readers know that was absolutely WRONG. Hey, I may be running a little late this month, but at least give me some credit for getting something out there.  The good news is I’m in the process of doubling my October output with tonight’s featured bird.
Red-Necked Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

If you recall, the last post was about a late recognition of a productive bird outing with my brother.  That bird (the Wilson’s Phalarope) was enshrined in the Birding Life List thanks to one of my golden rules of wildlife photography – “Shoot Anything That Moves”.  I cannot count the number of times that principle has produced a +1.  If the Wilson’s is considered lucky, this find came with Leprechauns.   I know for a fact that I noticed the Wilson since there were multiple shots with that Phalarope being in the center focus position – that, of course, translates into much better shots than these.

Red-Necked Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

It has been a while since I processed these specific shots, but pretty sure not a single one of them were in the center focus region meaning it didn’t catch our attention during the outing.  Nope, it didn’t even come up until we noticed fellow birders posting about how they found a Red-Necked Phalarope in the exact same floodle area.  That prompted another look through the hundreds of shots we took there.

Red-Necked Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Continue reading Another Find in the Flooded Flats

A Missed Phalarope Fallacy

Greetings all… welcome to October posting.  About time I got around to this, but I was hoping at least one comment would come in, but alas I’m like a month out now and nada, zip, chirp chirp chirp.  Oh well, I guess life will go on.  Truth be told I’ve been horribly busy as of late and just now getting over the brunt of it.  There are plenty of posts coming up to highlight all the interesting activities, but as a foreshadowing, this month brought about another long race and our annual Halloween Cookout.  Jumping back to the now, let me introduce you to my little friend.
Wilson's Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

On a bit of confession here. I must admit that I was not actively aware I had this specific bird in the tin.  In fact, the opinion was just the opposite – total disappointment over having missed a great opportunity to get a +1 for the day’s birding efforts.  At least a month or so back I was birding with my brother at one of my favorite spots – Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge.  Ron had come down the night before in hopes of scouting out some large floodles that had formed in the area.

Wilson's Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

There were a number of posts out on IBET documenting interesting shorebirds that were frequenting the area.  With the general bird watching opportunities turning quite dull, the chance to add some Pipers and like to the birding list was an exciting opportunity.  We arrived at the area (on the Dickson Mounds road believe it is Rt 9) fairly early in the morning.  In our first pass we noticed a tremendous amount of activity out in the fields to the left.  On our way back we ended up pulling into a wide spot and walking back to see what we could shoot.

Wilson's Phalarope shot at Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge

Continue reading A Missed Phalarope Fallacy