Saturday, December 31, 2011

The last post.... of 2011

 Playing with the 50mm lens and the tulip boquet.  Nancy brought a lovely boquet of tulips over Wednesday to our dinner party.  Lovely, thanks so much.  I think the dinner went well enough.
 More playing with the 50mm lens and the foot of my new teddy bear.  Loaded it to Megashot on JB
 This is something from 2006 shot in RAW on my old Canon Powershot A50.  Tweaked in Photoshop, RAW converter.  I kinda like how it turned out.  I tweaked it some more to get the background less dull and blurry.  Shall loaded to my megashot for the Deserts Community.
 This is a panorama from my new little Sony, downsized, of course... pretty much right out of the camera. 

I walked a couple of days ago, into the Park, with the intention of using my new little Sony, with the Carl Zeiss lens.  It seems to have pretty good color and sharpness.  I am learning how to set the functions on it, slowly.  Its a very fun new toy, and so light and easy to carry.
Our weather has been very mild.  We have had some rain and a bit of gusting wind, but that is to be expected this time of year.  The garden does not need much attention, now.  I should get out and add lime to the veggie garden and the grass.  Should put fertilizer spikes in for the fruit trees too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in the Park and garden

About the middle of the month I went to Walmart and purchased a Sony DSC W560 very compact digital.  It does sweep panoramas and stitches them in the camera.  I am just learning to use it, and have not found the time to do a panorama yet.  This is my new teddy bear shot at night.  This little camera has a Carl Zeiss lens.  I can set some high ISO with it.  Mostly, I wanted the panorama, but I think I am going to like some of the functions that allow me to shoot in different situations.  I need more time with this little goodie. 
This little tree along the walking trail in Panama Hills park has been decorated for Christmas the last few years.
The little holly tree is slowly growing.  It must be about 18 feet tall now.  It is loaded with berries this year.  In the front the tree has finally lost its leaves.  I have a bit of raking to do yet.

In the house the Tibochina shrub has decided to go into bloom.  The second photo seems to have a ghosting effect where the flower seems to be superimposed on its shadow... I have no idea what happened here.  I think I was using my 50 mm lens on the Canon Rebel.  The 50 mm would have had the UV filter on it for protection.  Whatever caused this.. I like it.  Would be nice to figure out how to duplicate it.  The African violets are blooming and only one orchid is now left in bloom.

I was working with the RAW converter on these photos from our trip down the Oregon coast and to the Grand Canyon.  At this time I was using my old Canon Powershot A50 that shoots in RAW format.  That RAW converter is really interesting to use.

We have been busy with house guests and the usual Christmas calls and cooking.  Although, we had a quiet Christmas day with the two of us for the Christmas duck dinner.  Tomorrow I make dinner for 6 . . it should be fun.  I think I have everything ready and can stop being antsy and enjoy it all.
We were to Art and Marlens's new home.  Its really very nice.  They are still unpacking and had their family and us over to brunch.  Was good to see Leslie and David, and the newest grandchild, Hannes.  Lily is her usual delightful self.  I can just imagine her grandmother being much the same sort of charming child.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Putting the garden to bed for the winter

These photos are from December 3.  The top one is a geranium leaf in its autumn colors.  I need to propagate  this plant.  It is a blue geranium and has this lovely autumn color.  The second photo is the moss garden.  I have all the leaves picked off it and it is growing nicely.  The last photo is the vegetable garden.  I have been raking the leaves in the front garden off of the hedges and small rock plants, putting them on the grass path and running over them with the lawn mower.  I put the mulched leaves on the vegetable garden and have added some fertilizer to the mix.  I should have some good leaf mold to dig into the garden in the spring.  You can see my few swiss chard plants that I hope will be producing good greens early in the spring.  I have no other winter vegetables this year. 
I got so much done today.  I finished the house cleaning.  Tom and Diane popped in for a visit and we had denver omelettes for lunch followed by tea and shortbread.  Was good to see them, if only for a couple of hours.
Later I raked the front leaves again.  This time I put the mulched leaves on the woodland garden area.  I clipped back some of the front perennials and the garden looks cleaner.  We have been having a very nice autumn, with only a few nights with light frost.  I hope the winter continues the same way.
Yesterday I spent a few hours looking back over my photos from a trip down the Oregon Coast and south, in February of 2006.  I was shooting with my old Canon Powershot A50 in RAW mode.  I have not really taken the time to look at these photos before because I could not easily see them.  Now I can more easily take each one to the RAW converter in Photoshop.  There are a few keepers.  Its great fun playing in the RAW converter, too. 
I have a few more photos of Dan's stuff to tweak for Bruce.  I am loading them to a Megashot gallery.  The day I was shooting was overcast and not very good for shooting.  Ah well, I got snaps of the way it all really looks and I guess that is what they want to see.  Used my dslr and the S3 IS.   Was good practice for me.
Last week I picked up a little Sony DSC W560 for $128.00 at Walmart.   This little camera does panoramas stitched in the camera.  Dan and Irene got a Nikon last week end that does a 360 panorama... more money.  Its going to be Irene's carry around camera.  I have yet to get my Sony operating... have been too busy with other stuff ... and so it goes.  'tis the season!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December - a very busy month

On Friday, the 9th, we walked on to the Coho to go to Port Angeles and on to visit Dan and Irene.  They have been back home for about a month, after their four month trip in their Airstream motorhome.  This is the inner harbour as we left at about 4:00 pm.
 This photo was taken with flash and looked terrible, until I took it to the RAW converter in photoshop.
Bruce asked Pat for a few photos of Dan's stuff.  So, I had a good excuse to spend a lot of time practicing with my dslr-- that is fairly new to me.  I am loading them to a gallery on my Megashot account that is for Pat's car stuff.  I cannot seem to make the galleries password protected yet.  Oh well, not many people go to that account.  I just send them the link to the gallery or photostream and it saves all the download time in their email.  I can send them individual photos or even prints if they want them.  Irene was speaking of making her photos into hard copy albums.  She is very creative and I am sure these photo albums, when she starts making them, will be treasures for them to keep.  She will be welcome to any of mine she wants.  Thanks Dan and Irene for a lovely week end.

On Thursday, before we left, I raked and mowed the leaves in the front; to get a lawn mower bag of mulched leaves that I put onto woodland area.  The vegetable garden has a good cover of leaf mulch for the winter with fertilizer added to it.

Last night we were out to the Casino.  The dining area does not have an extensive menu.  I had an ok cheff's salad.  After all the fine dining on the week end, I seem to have gained one pound.  I shall have to fast for days, if I am going to lose those three pounds this month!  We actually came home with about a hundred more dollars than we took into the casino, so that was rewarding.  :)

We had Wayne the handyman guy fix the peeling paint in the small bathroom.  Pat put up the new shower rod and stuff yesterday.  So, that is finished.  Next thing on my agenda is to do a good cleaning of the house and get some baking done for Christmas.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The light garden

This phalenopsis has been in bloom for at least a month.  It is too tall to fit on the light garden shelf and so sits beside the light garden.  Maybe this is why it is lasting so long... it might be cooler when it is not directly under the lights.
This one has opened into two fairly simple little flowers. 

This is the miniature cattalaya "Pixie".  It has 3 blooms this time.  Very showy,.  I am not getting good color under these lights.  I am shooting in RAW and the right white balance.   The African Violets were just too messy to add, but most of them are in bloom too.
One of the cactus.  It's color turned out not too bad.  All of the backgrounds are messy too.
More practice! 
On Saturday, we were out to the 6 mile pub with the Model T group.  The truck parade went right past the pub.  They were late and were going very fast.  I didn't get any photos of them that are worth saving.  I should have taken my camera with me on Sunday when we were out to lunch at the Cedar Hill Golf Club.  There were some nice views out over the Golf Course.
It is not winter, yet, but we have been having a rather nice bit of late Autumn weather.  There were a couple of over night freezes when I brought the humming bird feeder in and put out the feeder with the warm food.  We seem to have at least two Anna's humming birds that are visiting most of the day.  The front tree still has at least a third of its leaves attached.  So, it seems I will still be raking leaves at Christmas time. 
I am trying to do a walk every day.  So, between Megashot, walking, cooking, gardening, and reading, I don't seem to be getting much time with my photos.  I have made no progress on my old web page this year.  And have accomplished nothing in sorting out our travel bags into folders of pertinent stuff.  Some day we will downsize and everything will just get trashed and shredded, I suppose.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gardening in November

These photos are from the 18 of November.  The pin oak at the back is brilliantly red, the sweet gum tree in the front has its leaves in multiple Autumn colors.  The English oak in the back is very yellow. Now, a week later half of the leaves are gone from these trees.  We have had two storms go through with high winds and lots of rain.  The day between the storms I raked leaves off the perennials and paths, unto the grass path where I ran over them with the lawn mower.  I put this leaf mulch on the vegetable garden.  Today, I spread some 20 - 20 - 20 fertilizer over the leaf mulch to help it decay and to provide some good fertile tilth to the vegetable garden. 

The small green leaves are cyclamen coum, I believe.  I do not recall planting a cyclamen in this spot.  It is behind the water tub, so is not easy to find.  This is an area where I weeded and added woodland mulch earlier.  This plant is a bulb, so somehow it survived.  It must be a volunteer from some of the other cyclamen plants I have growing around the garden.  This is a very good plant with evergreen leaves. Mine bloom twice a year... early spring and late fall.    Also, in this area, I put in some other bulbs earlier this Fall, and I see them poking up above the mulch now.  I hope they survive the winter.  I wonder if the heat reflection from the sun on the black water tub is causing them to think its time to start growing.

While skimming leaves off the pond, I found a few dead gold fish.  I had the pump turned off because it was plugging up its filter constantly.  Also, because I had read that it is not good for the fish to have the water cooling at the bottom of the pond where they spend the winter.  Well, I guess that rule applies to clean ponds.  I have not cleaned mine out for two years, so I guess next spring will be the time to do it.  I will probably need to restock the gold fish.  I cleaned the filter and have the pump running again to try to aerate the water.  It was really rather upsetting to see the dead fish.  I will have to pay more attention to keeping part of the surface water open so that the water can absorb more oxygen. 

Sunday will be the Grey Cup CFL football game.  Our B. C. Lions team is sure to win, as they are the best team in the country. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

October walk to Panama Hill Park

a few photos from a walk to the pond in Panama Hill Park.  The colors were spectacular on October 23.  I can't believe it has been that long ago.  Some of these trees and grasses are still full of color.  There is going to be plenty of berries of all kinds for the birds this winter.
It was coolish today, but no rain.  We have been having light frosts over night.  The humming birds are looking kinda chilled when they cannot get their frozen food.  I have one of the feeders in the house to put out in the morning with warm food for them now.
Saanich now owns all of this Panama Flats area.  I am glad I got a few photos of it when it was being farmed.  I believe it is going to be allowed to turn into a bog.  It is, in actuality, a peat bog.  It had sluice gates to drain it for the farming.  In the winter people used to be able to skate on it a few decades ago.  I hope the pond area remains as is and not part of the bog.  In the winter, more recently there has been lots of water fowl feeding on the flooded crop area.  I hope it remains that way, and the bog revives.
I was out gardening for about 3 hours this afternoon.  I cleaned leaves off the moss garden and paths.  I ran the mower over all the grass areas in the front and back and ended up with two mower bags full of nice chopped up leaves.  This is added to the vegetable garden.  I must get some high nitrogen fertilizer to add to this mix.  There are more leaves on the front tree, so I should have a good thick layer of leaf mulch on the veg. garden by the end of the season.  I cut back a stringy low cedar.. well cut the bottom branches off, and it now looks rather windswept, in my best attempt at a Japanese bonsai writ large. I cut back the Jackamani clematis and cleaned up the daylilies and the simplicity rose, a bit.  Its good to get the exercise and to be on top of the garden clean up.  I wonder how the plants survived when I was not so diligent about leaf clean up!
Do you know what butterfly that cattapiller is going to turn into?  I must look for it in my butterfly book.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trip to Peru and Ecudor in March 2010

The Paracas ‘Trident’ or ‘Candelabra’ is a huge cactus-shaped figure carved into a hillside at Pisco Bay on the Peruvian coast. It measures about 240 m long by 120 m wide, with trenches a metre deep, and can be seen from as far as 24 km out to sea. It is aligned almost exactly north-south. It is variously regarded as a navigational aid or as a ritual object, representing a cactus or tree of life, where high priests worshipped the setting sun. Paracas-culture pottery dated to about 200 BC has been found there. Graham Hancock notes that 2000 years ago, viewed from a kilometre out to sea, the constellation known as the Crux (Southern Cross) would have been suspended in the sky directly above the cliff diagram at the March equinox.  This quote taken from this informative web site 

This is the only figure I got a good shot of on our flight over the Nazca Lines.  I have seen it called Wing or Hands.  More information on this site
This was a very busy and active trip. 

I have set up a 'desert' community on and so got searching my old photos for some sand, desert, canyons and badlands photos.  I was up way late last nite working on this, so need my beauty sleep.  This is a surprisingly short post for me.  All the interesting stuff is in the hot links. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Moss garden

I took these photos of the moss garden a day or so after cleaning up the fallen leaves.  It, again has leaves fallen on it.  The moss seems to be growing nicely since the rains started.  The dry stream area in the top photo is actually under the deck, but just at the edge of the overhang, so, it gets moisture.  The bottom photo has the nice mossy rock and the really good moss under the mountain laurel (kalmia latifolia).  The moss is now extending past the fern and along the edges of the dry stream.  The lantern is at the beginning of the dry stream.  I took these photos with my dslr Canon Rebel and processed them in Camera Raw.  I have a lot to learn about this.  I really want a telephoto lens that is made for digital cameras.  For my uses, I really don't think I need to pay for the expensive L lenses that Canon makes.  There is much more data on the RAW files than I was getting on my S3 IS jpegs.  But the S3 IS is easier to carry around on our trips.  So... the learning continues.
I finally updated my Java thing.  I guess its necessary and does not seem to slow down my computer, that I notice.  I think I want an ipad2, and a Sony DSC 530 with the wide angle Carl Zeiss lens that does a panorama within the camera.  It is coming down in price, and I should go to London Drugs and see what is in the box for the $109 price. I hope the ipad2 is coming down in price too.  I guess there is a lot of competition in this kind of gadget, so the price should come down more.
I made a huge apple pie today, and am thinking about making apple butter to use up some of the apples.  I could make some apple sauce to freeze, too.  My freezer is full of soups and ratatouille.  I made more pickled peppers, but they do not need to be frozen, of course.  If I got a little freezer, I don't think I would have as good of a turn around on the meats and vegetables as I do now, with the smaller space.  We can always get fresher stuff.
I am 10 lbs lighter and have 25 more to go, yet.  My doctor has me coming into his office for a weigh in every month.  This is helping as I cannot seem to do this on my own.  More exercise has been a big factor, as well as watching what I eat.. and eating less.  Its really difficult for someone who likes potatoe chips and jelly beans, as much as I do.  It sure is worth the effort, though, because I feel better and much more energetic.  

Friday, November 04, 2011

Frosty Friday

Last week end we went over to Vancouver.  While visiting friends we went to lunch at the Boat House, on Indian Arm. The tree colors where ever we drove were marvelous, even through the fog.  We are having very good Autumn colors this year due to the light frost, and not too much rain and wind.  Its so beautiful where there are trees and shrubs that are planted for their Autumn foliage colors.  The Virginia Creeper, the Smoke bush and the sweet gum tree in my front garden are still in full foliage.  The back has color in the berries of the holly and fire thorn.

We picked the apples this afternoon, and I washed and sorted them.  I took the culls across the street and dumped them in the deer pasture.  There are a few more on the vegetable garden.  I put most of the apples into the plastic bin in the garage.  They should last for the winter.  I will need to make at least one pie soon. 
After finishing with the apples, I raked leaves off the flower beds and the paths.  Then I ran over them with the mower.  I now have a nice leaf mulch put over top of the compost on the vegetable garden. I gathered up most of the leaves off the moss garden.. which is really starting to look good.   The trees at the back still have about half of their leaves, so I will be doing this again.  The front trees have more of their leaves.  The pond will need draining and cleaning in the Spring.  It is covered with leaves.  I have the pump turned off, as it keeps getting its filter plugged up.  I read in a magazine that it is not good to have it run all winter, as the bottom layer of the water gets too cold for the fish.
I have been doing quite a lot of cooking lately, from recipes that look good.  Pumpkin soup, ratatouille, fennel, apple, walnut salad... it makes a nice change from the same old, same old.  I think I have the right kind of fennel growing in my garden.  I shall transplant some of the little ones I see popping up in the flower beds.  I grow this plant because the swallowtail butterflies like it.  It makes a nice vegetable in this salad.  I will want to try it sliced and cooked, next.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More mid October color

This is the Virginia Creeper from about 10 days ago.  I cut it way back to about 3.5 feet up its pole, in the Springtime.  It has grown right up to the top again and is putting on some gorgeous autumn color.  I used the old dead twigs to line the woodland path and the composted dirt from the cleanup as compost in the woodland at the back.  I am finished cleaning up this woodland area and have transplanted 12 perennials and some daffodils, hyacinths, tulips into the area. 
this is looking over my back fence at the sumacs in a neighbor's back yard. The reddish tree on the left is my Japanese cedar that goes this interesting bronze/red color for the winter.  The area under this tree is cleaned up, but the compost I had did not extend to under this tree.  I have self seeding perennials in this part of the woodland.  I am not sure if too much compost added would be good for them.  I cleaned out 4 bags of compost from the old compost bin, but I think I will be using it on the vegetable garden patch.  I think the soil there needs to be beefed up so things grow.
The sweet gun tree is starting to show a bit of color in this photo of about a week ago.  It should be really nice in a few days.  We have had a light frost or two and more rain.

My light garden is looking ok.  All the African violets are in bloom.  The little magenta dendrobium has a couple of flowers.
I have been making soups.  I tried a ratatouille recipe.  I am not a big fan of food with tomatoes, but this was delicious.  Today I made a salmon chowder and it had tomatoes in it as well.  Was good, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

mid October color

The Autumn colors are looking terrific.  It has been raining for the last couple of days... not all the time, but enough to put an inch of water into the rain gauge.   Since I am mostly finished my Fall clean up, I can play with my photos.  I hope you can see the rain drop trails in the top photo.  The second one is the coreopsis in its container next to the bird bath.  The bottom one is of a willow I somehow got horn-swaggled into buying at the Rock and Alpine garden show and sale this spring.  Its an interesting story.  Not everyone gets treated to the generosity of a Count... I think that is his actual title.  As I shopped at the sale at the show, I chose a few choice plants ... lewisias if I remember correctly... from on the table, and put them into my tray to buy.  Lo and behold, this man came to my tray, grabbed the lewisias and said 'those are mine'.  I meekly said, 'you can't take my plants!'.  He said, they were in my tray, I just left them on the table while I talked to someone... I suppose it is my own fault' he muttered.  and proceeded to give me these willows, because I had said I was looking for one particular miniature willow.  Well, I must say, after talking to him and saying that he did not have to give me his plants, it was just as much my fault for taking his stuff, I was very generously compensated for the loss of the lewisias I had chosen.  I also learned a lot about the plants.  This was a very enthusiastic plantsman, and truly of some Royal designation, as I found from reading the newsletter, later.  Our city is populated by all kinds of people who find it to be a paradise. .. from rock stars to royalty.  We let them alone to live a normal life, too, it seems.  Life is good on the left coast.
The colors of Autumn are changing very quickly.  Sometimes the light is amazing... I don't think I could capture it with my cameras.  As we had dinner tonight, I watched out the dining room window, as the light faded from the glow on the leaves and color in the sky to grey and black in a matter of minutes.  It was truly marvelous.  And so was the conversation over dinner.  Just as an aside, I think a civilized and interesting dinner hour is wonderful.  I am definitely blessed.
I spent quite a bit of time on Megashot, today.  This was fun, too.  The site is quite fast.  I believe Cyrus is working like crazy to get Version 2 designed, coded and on line, asap.  There are a few glitches in the site since migration, but as the site will be a lot different on version 2 these things should not matter.  (I can't believe I typed CITY instead of SITE in the above sentence.  Yes, the site is like a city, inhabited by friends and as it grows, by people we only see in passing, through the Explore or the Contests or in members photo uploads, or other places. )
I ran into a small annoyance ... Java wanted to update... well hells bells, everything wants to be updated, constantly.  I said No and googled this Java update thing.  After reading some of the answers to my search saying its a virus... eeeek ... everything is a virus...  I found a site that seemed to me to say what it really is... Java seems to have this checking thing running in the background and asking to be updated.  The people on this site say you can disable this annoyance, and your computer will run faster.  ok... I just left it at "no" for now.  I have no idea what Java does, or why I might need it.  According to the geeks on the site, that I tend to believe, it can be disabled with no loss but with an improvement to speed of the cpu.