Thursday, August 30, 2012

A new process and a little about politics (eek!)


Well, before I get all up in someone's grill, I thought I'd sweeten you up with a dahlia, processed differently than previous ones (are you sick of dahlias yet? :)

It's a gloomy day here, it's just barely gotten up to 68 degrees by 2 PM, so I wanted to do a less colorful variation.  I'm using two layers of one texture from Flypaper's new Autumn Painterly pack -- it's called "Antique Stucco," and I just love it.  I think the picture came out nicely with just a hint of color.  I'm not crazy about the dark/light background, but I couldn't clone over the whole thing.

And so . . . on to politics.  Probably my politics are pretty clear if you read this blog, but that's not what I want to talk about.  I want to talk about conventions and elections in the "olden days."

 (Notice I'm showing a pic of Reagan and also Betty Ford is in this picture -- love ya, Betty :)

Remember how the party conventions used to be a big deal?  How they would take over the prime time airwaves and everyone would watch and think about the different platforms and visions and ideas for how the U.S. might be?  When did a presidential convention  become an afterthought (I think it was going to be canceled for football on Monday, before Hurricane Isaac preempted everything)?  And since when did campaigns base their messages on lies and deception?

I know that the facts will be stretched.  Sometimes campaigns play a little fast and loose with the truth, no doubt.  But this?  When a member of a campaign says we will not "be dictated by fact-checkers"?  Huh?  That's saying outright that I won't be restricted to the actual truth  and I would be horrified no matter who said it, which party.  When did we turn into people who want to be fed a party line rather than having to read and listen and gather actual facts and make up our own minds?  Or are you all still out there somewhere (hellooooo . . . )?

Enough of politics.  I'm not trying to start any kind of a fight and I respect people whose ideas differ from mine.  But come on, folks -- can we get a little  closer to the truth?  And back to when platforms and visions of what will move the country forward mattered?

[Stepping off the soapbox now so someone else can step on -- ]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ta Da --


I've been looking for a new laptop for a while - my old behemoth (7.5 lb) has served me well for 3+ years, seeing hard use every day.  It was so heavy because I wanted extra graphics capability, and not too long ago the hard drive crashed and I wound up putting around $400 into it.  But it's still acting weird and a little glitchy so . . . 

Here it is!  An ASUS Zenbook Ultrabook Prime.  It only weighs a little over 3 lb., the display is absolutely gorgeous, and it runs Photoshop waaay faster than the older one.  Only problem:  the type on the menus, tools, etc. is very tiny.  Fortunately, I've done PS for long enough so that I don't have to get eyestrain from searching for things, and maybe this is the push I've needed to finally learn the darned keyboard shortcuts.  

I've spent the past two days getting things set up and moving necessary files over and getting the old laptop (Toshiba Satellite -- still recommended for someone who wants a full-size laptop) ready for presentation to the mister, who really wants it.

In the meantime, I've been processing more dahlias:

I like this one, because it's grungy but still pretty colorful.  It's another one for which the background was pretty cluttered and texturing it really saved it.  I also like this one:  

Linkup to Flower Art Friday

I think the green really sets the flower off, doesn't it?

I also want to give a big welcome to the new followers that have come over from A Rural Journal.  Though this is a smaller community than Nancy's, I love hearing from you and hope you find something interesting or enjoyable here.  And tomorrow the giveaway (on Nancy's site) closes!

Oh yes, I want to start a photography meme very soon, so stay tuned for that!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Mixed-Feelings Kind of Day --


Today, for the first time in 36 years (years as a student + years of teaching), school is starting without me.  I'm feeling a little unsettled.

I'm enjoying being retired, though I feel as if I haven't found my rhythm yet -- my list of things to do is so long, and I'm feeling like I'm flitting from one thing to the next.  Each day, I try to do something on my "house" list, art of some kind (today I'm going to continue working on my tiles), and some "family" thing (lately, it's watching baseball, watching football, and watching tennis -- the US Open begins today :).  I know it takes a while to settle into the new way of life, and I'm trying to kind of ease into it.  I'm positive I will adapt and really enjoy it.

 Still working on the dahlia pictures

But still, school starts today, and in the immortal words of Alice Cooper, school's out completely for me, at least until spring.  I always loved everything about school -- the anticipation of new classes, the buying of books, the school supplies . . . half of which I would never use (who needs a megapack of 20 Post-It pads?). 

 Alice on the Muppet Show

As a teacher, you have just as much anticipation (and just as many school supplies to drool over).  Will my classes be filled with wonderful students, eager to learn?  Will there be that one (or two) who will make my life miserable for 15 weeks?  Will they think I'm funny?  Will they like  me?

Every semester, I would check out the rooms I'd be teaching in (in college, they're always different), practice reading my best guess at students' names (a necessity if you're in the Bay Area), and have a few anxiety dreams, which in my case usually feature me standing in a classroom, trying to get the attention of students who are all talking and laughing and carrying on and paying absolutely no attention to me.

But this time, they're going ahead without me.  If I dwell on it too much, I'll get a little verklempt, so I think I'll go work on my tiles.  :)

Have a great day --

[P.S. I have not once turned on daytime television.  Yet.]

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ah, the Dahlia Show --


I'm going to be processing the pictures for a while, but I'll share the first few from the Dahlia Society show.  I love going to the flower society shows -- it's such a challenge to get good pictures.  I was going to take a picture of the whole show, but forgot -- but imagine, a high school cafeteria, not particularly well lit, people jostling in the aisles, cafeteria tables cluttered with plants and identification tags, on and on.  Not the best situation for photographing flowers.  Of course I can't take a tripod; I'd be in everyone's way.  So I take a monopod and do the best I can.   Here's an example of a sooc shot -- 

Kind of dim, and you can see all the clutter in the background.  Add to that the fact that my hands shake, and . . . well, it's a challenging situation!  But that's what makes it fun, trying to make something good come out.  So here's one:

 Linkup to Your Sunday Best

I used two of Flypaper's new textures on this pic -- Tiepolo and Trapeza.  For this particular one, it wasn't too hard to get the background dark and then go from there.  The second one, I wanted to be more abstract:

I wish there were a way to emphasize the curves more -- that's what I liked about the image.  Anyone have any ideas?  I tried filters like poster edges, paint daubs, etc., but in the end I liked the unadorned picture.

Finally, I did one with three flowers.  Here's the original:

These flowers were outside the main exhibit hall but still have a bunch of messiness in the background.  Here's the finished product: 

Linkup to Quotography

 I like the way this one came out, though I wish there were more leaves -- I guess I could clone some in, but . . . 

Does anyone else enjoy heading out with your camera to flower society shows?  What kind of results are you able to get?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spotlight Giveaway!


In conjunction with my being "in the spotlight" at Nancy's wonderful A Rural Journal, I'm having a giveaway! Sign up at Nancy's blog;  see the giveaway box at the bottom.

Prize One:  A print of any photo in my blog 

Yup -- any photo on this blog that your heart desires.  Could be this:

Or this:

Or this:

Any one you like!

Prize Two:  Chris Orwig's Visual Poetry

This is a lovely book that helps to enhance your creative process through assignments and exercises.  The full color photographs he includes are wonderful.

Prize Three:  Michael Freeman's The Photographer's Eye

This is a gorgeous book that analyzes extraordinary photographs to help you improve your composition.  It's clear and practical, and a pleasure to look at.

How to Enter

Enter at A Rural Journal!

1.  Become a follower of this blog through the link on A Rural Journal, or let me know in the comments of this post that you are already following.

2.  Leave a comment on this post at A Rural Journal (see the giveaway box).

I'm looking forward to getting to know new followers!

Sorry to have been late in getting this up!  I was at a workshop this morning on "Business in Art" -- essentially, how to start making  money with your art -- will post on that soon!

Check back later . . .


. . . for a big giveaway!

Randomness Saturday --


Whew, it's been a few days since I posted.   I'll try to pull things together in a "randomness" post.

1.  Big news:  Jill and Paul over at Flypaper Textures have brought out their set of "August Painterly" Textures, and they're wonderful. Here's something I did with the one called "Bucolico," which I absolutely loved:

It really does look painterly, right?  I just loved the effect.  I have fiddled around with many other kinds of textures, but always come back to Flypaper.  They seem to suit my kind of photography, which is not the vintage, faded-out type.  I like color  and Flypaper has it.  They are offering a "taster pack" of web-sized images for $9.99 -- check it out!  One question for those of you who use textures -- do you have the experience that some pics (e.g. this one) come together immediately and beautifully, while others you just can't get right, no matter how many textures you try or how long you fiddle with it?  There is some magical synergy that happens with certain images, I think -- 

P.S. This is not a commercial message in any way and I have received no remuneration for it.  I just love them.

2.  I'm making tiles for Open Studios, and I think they will come out nicely.  Here's a pretty bad cell pic of four of them in process:

The ranunculus one (bottom right) didn't come out well -- even if it hadn't come out with a hole in the middle of the flower, I don't think it shows up well with the light background.  I've prepared some more possibilities with dark backgrounds, and I'll keep on trying to perfect them.  These need to have their edges roughened (so they don't look like a stuck-on square), and then I need to seal them.  Anyone ever done this?  How did it go for you?  I'll keep a record of how it goes and post a tutorial when I'm done -- how about that?

3.   I haven't posted many new pics lately, just crummy cell phone ones, but look out -- I'm going to the annual dahlia show today and tomorrow, and there will be flowers galore in my next post!!  Stay tuned!

Have a great Saturday, and also stay tuned for a nice giveaway coming up . . . 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family history . . . again.


So, my two-week trial of is up tomorrow, and . . . I signed up for another month.   I'm thrilled, perplexed, delighted, frustrated, confused, puzzled, and who wouldn't want to continue with that?

Seriously, it's wonderful, and I'm having a blast, along with my daughter.  It's so absorbing and addictive!  I've gotten back to the Revolutionary War on my son's tree, back to the 1700's on my daughter's tree . . . and not nearly so far on my own.  I wonder whether many records in Germany were lost during the war?  Here's what frustrates me:

This is the house my mother was born in (an apartment building, actually), at 1 Goethestrasse in Lehe, Bremerhaven, Germany.  I know this because 1) I found the address on a document of my grandfather's which listed his home address in 1926, and 2) I've seen the building with my own eyes, when I was in Germany long ago.  It is now a historically preserved building.

What frustrates me is that even with the exact name, date, location  . . . I can't find any record of her on several genealogical websites in Germany.  Nor her father, mother, grandparents -- it seems like a dead end.  I'm bummed, but I'll keep looking.

What's great, though, is being able to find stuff on the web that's really precious:

This is an old wooden church that is very significant in my family history:  Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ozone Park, Queens, New York.  My grandmother was baptized there in 1895, by Pastor Gustav Bates.  The next pastor was one I met:  Dr. Hugo E. Meyer.

Dr. Meyer, as almost everybody except his wife and children called him, was a herpetologist in addition to being a pastor :)  He had a collection of snakes, and I remember as a very young child, going into a shed-like kind of affair to look at the snakes.  Deliciously scary.

As time moved on, Dr. Meyer was succeeded by Rev. Ernest A. Meyer, his son.

Uncle Ernest, as he was known to almost everyone in my family, was married to my grandmother's sister, and he was a wonderful human being, tied for favorite relative of all time with my other uncle, Eric Berneburg.  Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly in his 40's, way before what should have been his time.

Anyway, back to the church:

This is the church as I remember it, and this is the church in which my father was baptized, my mother and father were confirmed, my mother as a girl would listen to my father singing in the choir, my parents were married, and I was baptized.  I remember going with my cousin through the "behind the scenes" parts of the church and loving it.  It stands there still, and I would so much like to visit it again.

 Imagine little baby me, down in front, being baptized. 

So there you have it -- I'm loving every minute of the search, except for the moments when it feels as if my head will explode. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the time to do it -- it's very satisfying.

Miss you, Uncle Ernest, and Mom, and Dad, and all Grandmas and Grandpas, and Aunt Dorothy, and and and . . . 

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 Fact Friday


I just discovered 5 Fact Friday.  Since everything is all about me anyway, I thought I'd join in.  It looks to be a pretty new meme, so check it out.   My 5 facts:

1.   I'm retired for exactly one month, on Sunday.  I'm still trying to figure out who I am now, working on it every day.  I have yet to finish moving out of my office, but that will be done next Wednesday, lord willing and the creek don't rise. 

This pic was taken a while ago -- by now the books have all been boxed up, but there's still so much to do.  Come Tuesday and Wednesday, the big push.

2.  I hate moving.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.  So I have not been a happy camper lately.  I would pay anyone just about anything to get them to move for me.

3.  I have the sweetest and most adorable cat in the world.  Her name is Little Buttercup, and in the past 14 months she has brought more joy into my life than I could imagine.  She's such a good stress-reducer, she loves me to pieces which is always a nice ego boost, and she's funny as heck.  Here's Buttercup then, when we rescued her:

 Buttercup at 7 weeks

And here she is now, all grown up and clearly queen of all she surveys, lying on my letters and a bag full of art supplies she "helped me" open:

 Buttercup at 16 months; linkup to Favorite Photo Friday

3.  I love audiobooks.  They have gotten me through the past 7 years of a 150 mile commute, but I still "read" them any time I'm in the car. I've pulled over to the side of the road to cry at sad parts, sat in the car for 10 minutes after arriving home to finish a good part, even gone out for a drive because I wanted to hear another chapter.  If you want any recommendations, I've got 'em.  (Two words:  Tana French)

4.  I love grammar.  It's a chicken-and-egg kind of thing:  Did I become an English prof because I loved grammar, or did I come to love grammar once I was headed toward being an English prof?  The trouble is that not everyone else loves grammar, and I never correct anyone else.  Here's a question for you -- if I were to offer a course through community college extension or something like that, on "grammar for writers,"  not the whole kit and kaboodle but on the things that will really make you a better writer, do you think anyone would sign up??

5.  I love Jimi Hendrix and always will.  For a long time, I've had a vision of myself as a little old lady, driving down the street with "Purple Haze" blasting from the open windows . . . I'm not quite there yet, but maybe soon -- 

So there you have it.  What are the five things you want to share?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who knows what life will bring?


I've been off for a couple of days -- had to get Grace ready to go to Grandma's, I'm now on the governing board of her school and had that meeting, and also something very sad -- one of the women I worked with suddenly, completely unexpectedly, passed away.  It's still kind of a mystery what happened -- the police had her place taped off for a couple of days, but it appears to have been either suicide or an accident.

She had struggled mightily with some physical problems for the past few years and was in a great deal of pain, daily.  Still, she soldiered on, coming to work, not complaining.  It may be that she reached the point where it was too much for her to bear -- if that is the case, I hope that it was her choice to say "enough" and not an accident.

I know this is a controversial topic, but I truly believe it should be a person's choice, if they have a chronic illness, to decide to let go.  I supported my own mom's decision, when her cancer had gone on for several years, to not undergo more chemo or radiation, but to choose to say her goodbyes and let go.  It was extremely painful to me, but I had to respect her decision.  I don't see a lot of difference between that and deciding to take matters into one's own hands -- my mom essentially made the same decision; it just took longer (and caused more suffering) waiting for the end to come.

Whew.  This turned out pretty serious, but I was kind of thrown for a loop by her passing.  What would you think, if you had (or have had) a loved one go through a long period of suffering?  It's very hard to know what to do.

Here's a flower -- go with God, dear friend.

 Linkup to Saturday Show-off


Monday, August 13, 2012

It's so Yellow!


Just a quick post to hook up with a couple of memes:

Linkup to Mellow Yellow Monday, Quotography

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun."
-- Pablo Picasso             

I find that yellow brightens up a Monday morning, don't you?

Okay, about bird poop . . .


I keep threatening to talk about bird poop, so here it is, finally.  I think that the way you feel about bird poop depends on whose poop it is.

Right now, I'm listening to a raucous chorus of seagulls, a ubiquitous presence where I live.  At this time of the year, they sit on the rooftops and squawk mightily.  Over the years, I've gotten some nice pictures of them:

I took this in Bodega Bay, California, which everyone knows from Hitchcock's The Birds.  A juvenile seagull is challenging an older one for space to land, but the older one isn't having any of it.  I kind of like the little one in the middle at the bottom.  He's cute.

Though they're not my favorite bird, they're okay and very easy to photograph.  But if you're sitting in an outdoor restaurant, they can be extremely annoying and will come right up and snag a french fry if you're not paying attention.  And they poop mightily.

This rock near a local lighthouse becomes absolutely encrusted with seagull poop over our long rainless summers, until it's white, and it takes the winter rains (which often don't get going until November or so) to get it back to looking rock-like.  They don't just target rocks, though -- I've been struck a glancing blow by seagull poop, and a woman I work with was hit straight on and stood there, shocked, with poop down the entire front of her blouse, in the middle of a work day.  The eeewwwwww factor of such a hit is great.  It was disgusting.

Still, they're very photogenic and always available to pose, and they draw people who love to feed them, like this man.  They're okay, as long as they don't bomb me from above.

So how can you feel okay about bird poop, as I suggested above?  Well, for a long time I owned companion birds, a pastime that culminated in our sharing our home with a Moluccan cockatoo, a magnificent creature whom I loved for years (and still do, but I lost her in the divorce).

This is not my actual bird, but since they all look alike, this picture will do (I wasn't doing much photography back then).  We got her when she was 10 months old, her name is Tybbie, and she's now probably 11 or 12 years old, a mature bird whose somewhat wild teenage years are past.

You're taking a bit of a chance, getting a Moluccan, of which there are three genders recognized -- male, female and "supermale," the ones that are the flock leaders.  Supermales can be extremely aggressive and are powerful enough to break a finger or your nose, if they attack you.  Since the gender of a cockatoo isn't apparent until a couple of years down the road, when you can tell the gender by the eye color, you really don't know what you're getting if you buy a very young bird.

We completely lucked out with Tybbie.  She turned out to be female, and a gentle giant of a bird -- to this day, she has never bitten anyone out of anger, only in play, and we were careful not to play aggressive games with her (like teasing her with fingers).  She is calm and just fine with strangers, even little kids.  I know their moms look dubious when a kid asks to pet her, but she was always sweet.  She's very affectionate, and I spent many an hour at the computer with her nestled on my chest.  She learned a few words ("good girl," and "I love you,"), and she would poop on command (if you want to control where/when she's pooping on a social occasion, for example).

Are they loud?  Oh, you'd better believe it -- they can peel the paint off the walls, when they get going.  But we never had a neighbor complain about the noise, and Tybbie wasn't very noisy.

She loved to torment the dog, an older Lab, and would lean down off her perch and gently bite Amber on the tail, and would play fight with her.  Large birds are kind of like dogs, in a way -- they are very affectionate, extremely loyal, would defend you in a moment if the situation arose, and Tybbie could tell when the car came in the driveway, and would happily squawk until you got into the house, just as a dog would.  

Wow, this has turned into a very long post!  I actually have a lot to say about birds, and might return to it at some point.  But to go back to the poop thing, many is the time that I went out of the house not realizing I had a poop trail down the back of my shirt, and when someone would point it out, I would have to smile, because after all, it was Tybbie poop.  :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More wandering in the halls of time --


Well, I was going to write about bird poop today :) but I got stuck wandering around in again today.  It's a giant sinkhole of time, and today I sucked Grace into it and she got hooked, too.

My son's great-great-great-great grandfather.

We sat together, following path after path in both our trees (she's my stepdaughter, so they're different) and in a very short time, she was hooked.  We got so excited when we actually found a relative who served in the Revolutionary War, and then followed that back into the 1600's, but sadly realized at some point that we were barking up the wrong family tree -- she was only related to that person by marriage, not blood.  :(

 The house of my husband's great-great-great grandfather, George Bates.

We're having a blast.  I'll be happy when this two weeks is over and I can switch over to the German site and find something about my family.  I swear I'm going to take a break from it tomorrow, but . . . we'll see.

I promise I will write about the bird poop tomorrow or the next day -- cross my heart and hope to die.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lost in the corridors of time


And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

-- Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"                          

A week ago, I signed up for a two-week trial at, and I think I've been on it about 100 hours since that time.  I've wanted for quite a while to look into my family history, and now that I've got the time, I thought I'd go for it.

My mom, aged two or so, wearing her much older brother's hat.

If you've ever done it, you know that this kind of endeavor is both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.  As I mentioned briefly the other day, when you uncover little tidbits that you were completely unaware of (like turning grey at an early age runs in the family), it's exciting but when you run down connection after connection that all turn out not to be the person you're related to, or the trail goes cold because Ancestry doesn't have much in the way of records in that country, you've spent all that time for nothing.  
So far, I've accomplished quite a bit.   I've uncovered a great deal of my son's dad's family, all the way back to an ancestor who was born in 1801 (I really want to break into the 1700's!), and have filled in quite a bit on my side, though I'll have to spring for a one-month membership in the German to get much farther with that.  I've become pretty obsessive about it -- today I had a number of things on my agenda, but I wound up spending almost all the livelong day chasing down "hints," as they call them.
 Here's my mom again, a little older, a little more bada$$ than in the other picture.

I'm curious whether any of you have gone down this road and have any advice for me.  Is any one of the sites better than another?  Do I need to join more than one?  Have you discovered tricks or do you have any tips that would be helpful?
I've always loved the Robert Frost poem quoted above, and have thought a lot about how "way leads on to way" has been true in my life -- the roads do diverge, we do make choices and at some point can never go back.  I guess it applies to ancestor-hunting too, that you don't know where it leads and in a sense, you can't un-discover things, once they are discovered.  I learned something quite interesting about my grandmother the other day, for example.

I'd love to hear from those who have done this kind of work.  Leave me a comment or send me a message, okay?

It's getting late on Saturday, so -- happy Sunday, one and all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Randomness Friday


I'm going to start something now and come back to it later - I'm off to a nap break because I didn't sleep well last night.

Anyway, yesterday on the way to the credit union, I saw this little heart on the pavement.  I don't know if it was a piece of wire or something off of someone's jewelry or just a random heart, but I was happy to see it there.

I layered it with a picture of roses and a texture on the top.  I especially like the bird poop in the upper left corner.  More on bird poop later (I warned you, this post will be random), but now I'm off to Dreamland.  

Later, more randomness:  Yesterday, I was having coffee on a break from my thrift-store tour, and being an inveterate snoop, I became interested in the people at the next table, a man and two young children.  Through the conversation, I figured out that the man was a doctor -- his very intelligent son (maybe 7) was asking him if he ever treated shark bites :)  The little girl (maybe 5) was also very smart -- they were a nice family group, and their conversation was lively.  But the man melted my heart at one moment; he looked out the front door and said, "There goes Mommy -- look how beautiful she looks."  I don't know why, but this just touched me so much -- I looked out and saw a woman pushing a full grocery cart, nice looking, certainly, but dressed for Safeway, her hair done up casually in a scrunchie.  I just loved hearing a man telling his children that their mother is beautiful -- even when she's loading groceries into the car.  

Even more randomness:  Last night I had a lot of fun going to a collaborative "chunky book" recipe exchange at the crafts studio in San Jose where I go to workshops.  There were  seven of us -- we each had brought copies of three recipes and we each decorated  24-4x4 pages with packets we each got and things we brought from home.  At the end, we each got copies of all the pages and recipes.  It was a ton of fun.  Here are a couple of examples (bad cell phone pictures, sorry):

And for my last bit of randomness :) -- I've been doing some genealogical research, and even though it's frustrating because you know your grandfather lived in Brooklyn in 1940 but why isn't he  showing up on the census, you can find out things that are somehow delightful.  On my son's dad's side of the family, I found out that a great uncle of his dad had grey hair by the time he was 29; when I met his dad, he was 26 and also had grey hair.  That just tickles me.

What random things are happening in your life?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday


Just a quick post for Wordless Wednesday -- this time I may actually be pretty wordless.  I love flowers, though, can't get enough of them.

This is another pic from Butchart Gardens -- they had the most spectacular showing of roses.  Here's another one from the Butterfly Garden:

I thought these flowers were so pretty -- they were quite big, too.

Well, must stop for now -- happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photo-Heart Connection


I posted this pic a few days ago, but I'm linking it up to kateyestudio's photo-heart connection meme.  I wanted to write a bit about it as I linked up.

I just processed the picture in this particular way a week or so ago, but it's a picture I took in April of 2007, about 4 months into my photographic journey.  I remember the day vividly -- I often, at that time, got out early to see dawn at Lake Merced in San Francisco, wandering around to see the birds and rowing teams and sunshine through the trees and so on.  Several docks thrust out into the lake, and one had a little seating area at the end, so I headed out there.  Once at the seating area, I turned around to look at the bank, and there, right next to it, was this beautiful heron.  I started taking pictures, and with each couple of shots, I moved a step closer, until I was quite close to him.  He let me take pics of him for a long time, and then finally flew away.  Here's the original pic:

I was so thrilled when I looked at the pictures!  At the time, I had a high-end point-and-shoot camera, and it took great pics.  I processed several and posted them on my flickr page, and then went back last week -- over five years later -- to work with it some more.

To me, this photo is about growth.  It makes me think how far I've come in ability (though some of those p&s pics were pretty darned good), in equipment (from there went to Rebel, 40D, and now 7D), and artistic ability -- at this point I use textures and various other manipulations to create what is, really, digital art.  In five years, I've gone from being an utter noob to taking part in Santa Cruz's Open Studios this year.  

I'm very fond of this heron, because he makes me realize where this photography journey has taken me. 

Sketchbook and a Delicious Recipe


Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Hoping this is a great day of your life . . . 

One of the fun things I did on our trip was take my watercolor journal and actually do some sketching and painting in it.  I intended to do a page every day, but the road to and from Canada is paved with good intentions, evidently -- 

Here's one from the first day out.  We were still in California when we saw a whole bunch of balloons:

They were so pretty!  I couldn't get my camera out fast enough, and who wants a blurry pic taken through a car window anyway?  So I sketched it and painted it in later.  I had with me my Holbein travel kit (very wonderful) and the Neocolor II crayons.

Here's the one I did on the second day, of things I saw along the way in Oregon and Washington:

Barns, lambs, a monument, a bridge -- and some comments from me along the way ("very bad lamb" -- it actually looks like an anteater).  I'm working on two more -- one from the Butterfly Garden, and another of scenery on the way home.

I like to do watercolor journaling because, as my teachers Christina Lopp and Gay Kraeger said, there are no mistakes!  It's very free-form and you just don't worry about how it comes out.  Just doing it is the great fun of it.

And what about the recipe?  That's connected to artsy stuff too.  On Thursday, I'm going to a collaborative workshop at A Work of Heart, my favorite arts n' crafts place in San Jose.  The workshop is "Chunky Book:  Recipe Exchange"; each of the participants is bringing copies of three different recipes and each of us will make book pages during the workshop.  At the end, we'll exchange pages and bind the books, and then insert others' recipes in the pockets in the pages.  Sounds fun, doesn't it?

So, I thought I'd share one of my recipes, which I started making when I was 17 or 18.  It's called "Chinese" spaghetti sauce, because I learned it from a Chinese-American woman, Ann Maud.  She swore it was a Neapolitan recipe, but I've looked and looked and never seen anything like it.  I actually think it might be Greek in origin.  Anyway, here it is:

“Chinese” Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground chuck                              juice of ½ an orange  
½ yellow onion (or to taste)               oregano
3-4 cloves garlic (or more)                 cinnamon
3-16 oz. cans of tomato sauce           sugar (to taste)
1 small can tomato paste

In a dutch oven or other largish pot, brown ground chuck and onions; add garlic toward the end.  Drain excess fat.   Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and mix until the paste is broken up.  Squeeze the juice of half an orange into the sauce, and add the oregano (start with 1 tsp.), the cinnamon (start with ½ tsp) and sugar (start with 1 tsp.)  Stir and adjust seasonings to taste; add salt and pepper as desired.  Simmer for ½ hour or so.

Has anyone ever made something like this?  Every kid I've ever made it for has loved it.  It's mild and very tasty.  Let me know if you try it!  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Home again, home again . . .


Well, we made it back home.  After the ferry ride on Friday, the rest of the day turned out to be a nightmare, pretty much.  Since we got into Anacortes, WA a little earlier than we expected, we decided to forego the hotel room there and see how far we could get past Seattle.  Not the best choice.  It was Friday afternoon, and what should have taken a couple of hours (getting from Anacortes to Olympia, say) took 4+ hours and was a slow crawl the whole time.  Ugh.

A cute little frog from Butchart Gardens; linkup to Simple Things Sunday

Then we had to decide where to stop.  I was increasingly frantically trying to find us a room -- everywhere I called was full, and it was an agonizing process since the signal kept going in and out.  It took me forever to get through to the next possibility.  We went from Olympia through the rest of Washington, trying various hotels along the way; we finally got to Vancouver, Wa., and decided to just pull off the road and see what we could find.  The Red Lion we tried was full, full, full (with many happy conventioneers getting rip-roaring drunk, from what I could see), but the woman was kind enough to call around until she found us something.  We made it to our room (thanks, Fairfield Inn and Suites) around 10 PM -- having left our hotel in Victoria at 7:30 AM.  Yikes.  I was ready to sit down and cry. 

But.  Yesterday was much better, since we were going home!  We left Portland at 7:30 AM and pretty much drove straight through, stopping once for a meal.  We got home at 7 PM, but it really did seem like a short ride, especially when we got in the zone of recognition (I know where I am!).  We were in our jammies and relaxing before 10 minutes had passed, I'm sure.

    The magnificent Mt. Shasta, taken with cell phone from moving car . . . 

One of the best things about a drive through Northern California is the scenery -- Lake Shasta, forests, rolling hills, fields, and the great Mt. Shasta.  On the way up, it was pretty much lost in the clouds, but on the way home, we had a terrific view.  Grace took the picture out the car window.

So, here we are home again, and I'm so happy to be back with Little Buttercup.  Except she wouldn't come near me at first, she was clearly mad at me, and didn't relent until this morning, when she came in and went to sleep on my head.  I'm glad we made up.

Are you having a nice Sunday, wherever you may be?