Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Through with the Fiddle and Faddle

The original in all its glory.

Number 1 with wind in the shrubbery hiding the laptop.

Made monochrome to hide the shrubbery blur and moved a tree!

Added back a little color.
Fiddled and faddled and tried the various suggestions and actually not looking for affirmation as was suggested by Grannie.  This is hardly a great photo for that!  I think I just miss not having a photography club nearby and after loading many photos to RedBubble and getting only generic compliments from other photographers...decided to try a new route.  I will not bore you in the future with this, rest assured.  Just a trial.  I took this with a Canon Powershot, so I guess the fidelity that I got from across the campus at a distance was surprising to me.  I do love this little camera that fits in my pocket.

I did not try to hide his face this time.  The photo when cropped is now much smaller and as a result would not be good for anything larger than a few inches in print...but I had fun(?) working on this.  Tell me if you like one more than the other and as you can see, I moved some landscape to cover the laptop and a tree, and no color filters were added.  You will need to click on photos to enlarge.  This would not pass muster for any publication other than the web.  I really appreciate those of you who were polite enough to take time to review and critique and that fact that this photo was not one in which I had vested any emotion, made it easier for me to take advice. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Your Turn!

I recently took a stag's leap and loaded some of my photos onto a communal/commercial site called RedBubble.  It exists for artists of all types to show work, compare thoughts, and for a very few...to perhaps sell something.  One would never get rich at this, but an artist could get some small recognition and an outstanding artist would get his/her feet wet.

All that has happened to me thus far from this venture is some nice, very general comments from others...nothing I could grow by.  I was hoping that other photographers would critique (gently)...tell me to use a different filter, a different background, frame/crop it in "such and such way" or not be so lazy next time and actually use a tripod!  Or perhaps explain why they found it somewhat derivative.  Add to this the fact that the photographer cannot really view his work with a critical eye.

But they know the fragile nature of themselves and all artists and are afraid to even venture in that direction.  I, on the other hand, actually wrote to one photographer and had no shyness with my suggestions for a better background in taking a picture of an antique piece of glassware and she was grateful for my advice.

Anyway to get to my point and the purpose of the blog post title...I have posted below a photo I took recently at the nearby university campus.  When I uploaded it onto my computer I was touched by the love between the young couple revealed in their body language and his face.  I took the photo in a public place and was not using a telephoto, but I felt that not camouflaging their identity would be rude.

My questions to you (and answer honestly or not at all) is what do you think?  Opinions as a viewer...you do not have to know which end of the camera works...just your immediate reaction to this photo as an observer.

Does this photo capture that romantic feeling?
Have I ruined it by trying to use various software filters to hide identities?  Would it be better to just show him?
Is it so derivative it hurts your eyes?
Color and tone?  What do you think? (I tried for a romantic pink tone.)
Other compelling comments?
This is not one of my favorites ... so feel free to be honest.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Thoughts #35 -- News Tidbits

  1. The columns of light beamed into the sky during the 9/11 memorial actually had to be turned off for a time because over 45 species of birds were drawn toward it away from their normal migrating path!
  2. If you drink at least one cup of coffee a day, you are 23 percent less likely to have a stroke.
  3. If you are not well rested you are more likely to take risks, whether it be gambling or making a serious financial decision...so I recommend you get some good sleep before negotiating on that house contract.
  4. Your cell phone is the most foolproof on getting correct time over your watch, your alarm clock, and the microwave.  We have way too many clocks in our lives.
  5. Yahooligans.com returns only kid-appropriate links if searching the internet with children.
  6. According to Robert Brady (his May 22 post) things are even much uglier in Japan since the earthquake.  Seems that even the Japanese leaders lie to their people.  Her in ego-centric USA, we no longer hear much about this tragedy.
  7. Obama's visit to Ireland was pretty exciting.  One would have thought he was a rock star...either that or the Irish get really friendly after a few pints.
  8. I finally learned where the term meme came from.
  9. I was excited about reading this.
  10. Twitter paid 40 million to purchase TweetDeck...I am so behind on this stuff.
  11. According to the New York Times "Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century."
  12. Marriage is on the demise according to statistics...people just want to live together.
  13. Someone discovered that the Republican candidates in the U.S. are going to "tweak" Medicare and Social Security so that instead of  a social service program, they operate more like a free enterprise service...who would have thunk this?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Holding On to the Center

I think that the one thing I search for as I age and find I actually have time to think  and search is the "Center  aka Balance."  I look for that middle ground where everything can clearly be seen, where, if I stand straight and tall with my arms out wide, I feel in complete and peaceful balance.  That place, where, if I stare straight ahead, I can see into those loving eyes of my family and read their minds and accept what is revealed...changes and all.  That place where I know I am home and there is nothing hidden or unknown that can take me by surprise.  That place that is safe and pure and honest and where I am not looking over my shoulder at the mess that is catching up with me, or the old age that is catching up with me, or that bundle of guilt that I keep in a dark locked trunk behind the shed door...the bundle that shows how much time in my life I have wasted and all the mistakes I have made.  It is that place where the future is only obvious change and not unnecessary challenge.

Truly retired means there are no longer any excuses for not being in the Center of your life.  Even if you are fighting a serious disease or supporting the fight of a medical challenge of a loved one...you finally have some time for concentrating on the Center.  Actually you must dedicate time to remain in the Center or you are of no use to anyone off-center.  In retirement there is no longer a career or children to pull me off-Center.  I always admire those people who find the gift in everything that happens to them.  Not the sugary frosting top bow...but the solid center gift of what happens to them and with a gentle sigh they can see and accept that it happened and realize it is there to make them pause and to grow to become more solid and able to fit in between it all.

On a graph sent to me by my financial adviser (yep, I do have one of those) the Center is that place in the middle of the graph where the Y and X meet.  This magic happens between the far flung four corners on this graph which are labeled Lower Risk-Higher Return, Higher Risk-Higher Return, Lower Risk-Lower Return and finally Higher Risk/Lower Return.  The only honest place and sure thing on this graph is Lower Risk-Lower Return.  The most attractive place is Higher Risk-Higher Return but there is not much air in this corner of the graph whether representing financial life or daily living and it is a place you cannot stay long but probably should visit briefly for the thrill every once in a while.  (It is funny how this graph replicates life.)

I live in a culture of excess with lots of glittery lights and magnificent smells, and addictive sounds and therefore, trying to find the Center with the coals warm glow and to remain balanced as I am made stronger by fire is a daily challenge.  It is like yoga and meditation...a most peaceful and rewarding place that allows you to forget about all the corners of your world, past and present, but it takes lots of work to get there and to remain there and most of all to just let go of the idea that you must be on a path to somewhere else.  The only place I must be is right here and right now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Essential Things You May Have Missed Out On

It amuses and amazes me everyday how I have become that old person who looks back on life and wondered how I ever got through it without all the aids, gadgets, networks that are available today.

I raised two delightful and complicated children back then.  We did not have seat belts in cars and my friends who smoked were allowed to smoke while we went somewhere.  Miraculously my children survived both these dangers.  I unknowingly fed them foods in containers lined with carcinogenic plastics or probably sprayed with dangerous pesticides.  School lunches included the vegetable ketchup to balance the repast.  Abandoned refrigerators and mean dogs were the greatest fear in neighborhoods.

Because I am a technologically savvy grandma, I purchase gifts from my grandchildren via that new magical mall, the Internet.  These companies then automatically assume I need paper versions of their inventory as well and my mail box begins to regurgitate colored catalogs of items beyond my wildest dreams.

There are gates and locks and containers that even an enterprising raccoon would have difficulty surmounting.  Children now have their own luggage when they travel, and sunglasses and helmets when they are out riding in that dangerous but very comfortable stroller.  With the added cup-holder and side music speakers, as Fran Lebowitz says, they are never leaving that stroller.

In the latest version of one of these missives offering "thoughtfully selected products," I have the opportunity to purchase a Potty Watch that alerts small children with lights and music to remind them to go to the bathroom at preset intervals...I cannot help but think of a child who would become dependent on this and could not go to the bathroom without the alarm...you know, that idiot CEO at the board meeting!  I could buy a pillow that supports good posture in small children when they sleep...unless they sleep sideways across the bed as does my grandson #1 or with the pillow over their head as does my granddaughter.

There is even a strange device that one uses to remove mucus from the noses of little ones who have not mastered the art of blowing.  The mother puts it against the child's nostrils and then puts a little plastic tube in her mouth and proceeds to suck on the tube.  The text assures us that the mucus goes into a tissue and not the mother's mouth.  It still looks very unsettling in the photo (above) of mother and child using it.  The real clincher is that the publisher claims it has been used by European parents for years.  (They probably write in the European version that it has been used by North American parents for years.)

How did our baby "animals" survive without this stuff?  What new wonders will be available to my grandchildren when they begin to raise their little ones?  All of these do not belay the real dangers of global climate change, air pollution, water pollution, crime, drugs and daily stress that our little ones have to battle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hummingbird Moth

(I was supposed to post this on MY OTHER blog...but got mixed up and am too lazy to move all the html code...so here it is!)

This is Hemaris thysbe (at least I think that is what is is) commonly known as the Hummingbird moth.  Got these photos while he was hanging out at the dianthus pot on the back of my deck.  They turned out nicely, so, of course, I had to share even if in reduced pixel size!

There is not much known about this moth, except one site said the scientific name was based on the Pyramus and Thisbe  love story where Pyramus finds Thisbe's blood stained scarf assuming she had been killed and thus impales himself with his own sword.  The Hemaris part is based on "Haemorrhagia as a reference to blood-like coloration" 

I also found this quote  "The courtship behavior of hawk moths is very complex. It often involes pheromones, love songs and aerobatic flights. This type of behavior has been noted in the cream-lined hawk moth from Asia, and is currently being studied in the North American species. However, many different hawk moths, such as the ocellate hawk moth, also found in Asia, do not have these behaviors. Rather, they tend to have broader wings and fly more clumsily. They have no tongues, do not feed as adults, and show little courtship behaviour. (Kitching, 1999)"

I see this often in the summer and sometimes people think they are a stinging insect because of their size...not so.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Did You Disappear?

Several people commented in posts and even commented on my blog comments on the recent two-day outage of Blogger...although Blogger did not admit they were out of whack for that long because you could read what had been published in a prior time.  I had been pretty busy away from the computer during that time and only noticed at the very end when I was trying to check my posts.

It was a little frustrating for me not being able to post anything or read anything new, but because I am easily distracted  I moved on to something else. 

Some of you wrote that you felt as if you had been cut off from communication with an important side of the world.  I began to wonder if I would have felt the same if it had been a rainy or cold day where I was stuck at home with nothing to do.  If I had time to reflect, I am sure that I would have been a little panicked at not being able to get in touch with readers of my blog.  What if Blogger had gone down permanently?  I am sure they have back-up servers to return to a prior time...but what if?

Peruby has a disaster recovery plan idea which she wrote about.  I never thought about a back-up plan for a hobby, but that is an interesting thought.  How did you feel about all this?  Do you have a back-up plan?

Friday, May 13, 2011


Our Master Gardeners are having their big plant sale this weekend and I have been very busy labeling and transporting small and large potted plants, building (!) plant benches and identifying plants. Earlier in the week I spent several days with my daughter helping with three little ones as her husband was on a week of travel.  She was nursing a cold on top of everything else....so, if you will excuse me, I really think I need a nap right now...then I will do research on this Blogger issue.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bloody Murder at Tabor's Yard

(This is a warning that the following post may contain content too violent for children or adults with a sensitive nature, and no, Tabor did not kill her husband.)

It was a dark and stormy night...no, actually it was the middle of a sunny afternoon.  There were ominous shadows flitting through the trees...no, it was a beautiful spring breeze rustling the new growth and that is what tricked me, that made me oblivious to what was to come.  There were an unusual number of blackbirds flying back and forth across the lawn.  Thats lends a little ominousness to the mood...doesn't it?  There was also the sinister buzz of black flies in the air...the type found in any Stephen King soundtrack.

I had just emptied my overcrowded dish of plant succulents, finished their re-planting and was heading down my driveway to obtain some soil to mix with the sand.  As I walked I noticed ever so superficially something bright red on the driveway pavement...a lovely rose petal, perhaps?  I continued my saunter under the large leaning tulip poplar that will one day fall across this driveway and kill someone.

Then, without warning, I felt something wet fall onto the outside of my hand just below my watch band.  Rain released from a tree leaf?  I looked down and saw wet, red blood!  A nice juicy spray of drops across the back of my hand to the base of my thumb.  I looked up and saw the tulip tree leaves winking at me and nothing else.  I looked back down at my hand and quickly wiped away the blood on my muddy jeans, and that was when I saw body parts scattered across the pavement!  Truly a CSI moment.

Here's looking at you!

I backed up a yard or two and again tilted my neck to look into the tree.  Many of you have already guessed what I saw.

He was not going to interrupt his casual lunch of shad just because I was doing yard work!  Today I learned that osprey do not eat the eyeballs, and now I wonder why not?  And I realized how much they fertilize the earth when they eat... if not eating over a paved driveway, that is!  The ants were soon having a picnic, though.

And at least it was not bird poop that fell from the sky on me....

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Other Mother

Today's post is to honor those mothers who have lost children through disease, war, or accidents of life's decisions.  Today is a most difficult day for you to get through because it is the deep reminder of that river of pain you swim through each and every day as that child is no longer a part of your life.  Or perhaps, that child has disappeared into a dark alley of the world somewhere and while you think of them often, today their presence hangs most heavily on your heart as you wonder what has become of them.  Your memories of their face are static in time and do not console you.

Today I place a virtual hand on your shoulder and another across your heart and I lay my head on your shoulder as I try to understand your pain and wish you some peace.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Home is Where They Have to Take You In

To those who actually care, and with such loving surprise to me, some of you do...

Hubby is home! Safe and sound.

How do I know, other than I drove the hour and half to pick him up, waited an extra 30 minutes for him to clear customs, and managed to find my way out of the cell phone parking lot to the arrival area on time?

I know because even though he was tremendously jet-lagged he let me stop at the HUGE landscape place on the way back from the airport to buy $80 worth of plants and actually pushed (drug) the cart all over the cobbled paths for me.

I know because this morning there are shoes left under the breakfast table and a bill cap hat on the floor next to his chair. I know because I see the $300 binoculars left out overnight in the rain on the deck table (they survived nicely).   I know because he is not hungry at dinner but is hungry at midnight and I hear him rustling up some cereal in the kitchen and then watching CNN. I know because he is jealous(!) I hired a yard service for the next month. I know because his favorite teapot is now always on the counter.

I know because we spent 30 minutes yesterday afternoon looking for his cell phone (a familiar routine)...in the garden...in the cars...in the garage...in every room in the house.  After calling it and listening carefully we heard a kitten-sized ring in our closet where he had left it in some pants that he had worn and then shoved in a drawer!

Yes, he is home and my life is now busier.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Treasure Chests of Virtual Reality

There were days long ago when friends would send out a birthday card followed by a winter holiday card (Hanukkah or Christmas or whatever) and they would write a few paragraphs or if they had an ego the size of mine they would include a chummy newsletter that let the friend know all that had happened since we had last seen each other.  Sometimes we would include a photograph just to show we were indeed aging but still alive or to prove that our children and grandchildren were the most beautiful in the world.  These little histories might be tucked away in shoe boxes and if we stopped sending out mail our children or family would send out the notice of our passing sometimes months later after finding our address book or upon receipt of the letters at next year's holiday.

Grannie Annie commented in a past post about how hard it would be today to know why someone quit posting on a blog and how hard it would be to find out what happened to them.  In this modern digital age our lives are played out on Facebook, Snapfish, Phanfare, Flicker, YouTube, et al. by us and by others with whom we wander down our life's path.  Sometimes others may tell even more than we would like to share about us to their friends...many of whom we don't even know.  Those who are more communicative and with a little larger sense of their lives go forward with Blogs or Web pages and tell friends, family and frequently anyone who would watch and read, including total strangers, all about their memories and activities and opinions.

Our modern lives are held in "clouds" of digital pixels on servers everywhere and anywhere.  If I die tomorrow, not that I am going to, no one will be able to tell you that I died.  If it is not a professional site such as a newspaper column, perhaps no one will edit, preserve or delete anything I have written.  I have photo libraries stored in various places.  Yahoo has indicated that upon the receipt of a copy of an official death certificate they will remove the account.  Others have similar or no process in place.  I have a twitter account which I rarely use and only started it to stalk my son; I have an FB account, even an old password protected blog site that I have used on rare occasions to post only family stuff for relatives.  I even have old web pages somewhere that I created a long time ago and I can't even remember where those are!  All of these are accessible with various passwords and unless I give a directive and tell family where the password list is, I will become a cloud of information myself.

Certainly a site such as Facebook would be easier to inform friends of an important change.

I am still fascinated by these digital words and photographs shared across the globe.  Maybe some of this digital information will be useful to cultural archeologists or historical librarians, and in 100s of years, that which remains and can be uncovered will be sifted and analyzed and discussed.  But this is not like great-grandma's letters...it is hidden and easily lost.  Do any of you wonder about this stuff?  Do you care?