Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yuletide gay.
~Ralph Blane~

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ode to Summer

This summer weather just doesn't want to end... and the weatherman says it's going to get hotter this weekend. So I'm going to try a positive post about Summer. My heart is not in it (because of the heat), but here goes.
We will have good memories of the summer reunion in Manteca and our friends that came up to see us the day before the "party". We have known these two for a very long time. Al was the Prospector's best friend in high school and his best man at our wedding. That's was fifty years ago.
Ginny had never been up here since we built a house on this mountain. I'm so glad that they bothered to drive up here. They flew from Seattle and landed in Sacramento. They went out of their way to come up and see our place, even though we were going to see them the next day in Manteca. Now, that's what I call friendship.
It is the same with my friend "C" who lives in Sacramento. Remember her little dog Max?
 The other day she drove up here with Max and her ninety six year old mother, just for the day. Just to give her Mom a special ride in the Foothills and lunch at her friend's house. Now I know why friendship is so important... in so many different ways. It's a process. It's keeping in touch anyway you can, which is so easy these days. Email makes excuses lame.
 My mother was only able to see this farm of ours one time.  Having "C"s mom here was a reminder of how fast life goes by and how much you miss those who are gone. This visit meant a lot. "C" gave me a gift without even knowing what it meant to me. She brought her mother up here on a beautiful summer day and brought me memories of my mother too. It's hard to explain.
I'm going to frame our grandchildren's summer art creations and hang them on our walls. I love these gifts of beauty and talent from "the Beans". The years are moving by so fast and they will grow into other activities. Hopefully, these artful expressions will continue, but they will never be as innocent as they are now. These are the master works of the unfettered minds of their childhood.
Like the bird that my oldest grandson made for me, when I was down there a few weeks ago... A giant lavender bird with drawings of the wind on its wings.
...designed with creativity, craft paper and cloths pins.... with a smile on its face.
 A winged creature made from my Bean's imagination... and with love, just for his Noni. Yea... I get to be the recipient of his generous little soul.

So, this has been a good summer. As much as I complain about the hot weather, I love this summer for lots of reasons.
The way the earth smells at night and early in the morning.
The lizards...
 snakes and frogs that wander into, or live in, our garden.
The constellations that I watch every night from my bed. The open window over my head.
I'm thankful that...
Fire didn't find us this year.
The Rattlesnakes were few.
We only lost one old chicken.
And... our pump didn't go dry.

Our new chicks are reaching maturity and one left us a gift last week.
One perfect brown egg. The "roadie" won the race. She was a bit older that the other newbies... so she had an advantage. This summer was slim on egg production. The oldsters weren't laying anymore. We had to BUY EGGS for a while. It was awful!
The tomatoes are coming all at once. So I boil water...
 Drop the tomatoes in for 30 seconds.
 Then into ice water for a minute.
And the skins slide right off. It's amazing. Then I make spaghetti sauce and freeze it.
It's got to be done. I've given away all I can. Folks aren't saying "Thank you!" anymore. There's a limit to the generosity of tomato giving.
And still they come...
This is the morning's harvest. I've dried the little Tomaccio sweet tomato raisins but we don't like them. I had to use the oven, for lack of a food dehydrator and I think they got too "dried". Live and learn.
The basilico is beautiful this year. The heat makes it grow like a weed. I've made lots of freezer Pesto. I dried the basil too. I also dried some sage. Sure smells good around here. Sure is cheaper than buying dried herbs.

So that's my tribute to SUMMER.
Now it can leave, heat and all, with a promise to return next year... but, it needs to leave.
I'm ready for wind, rain, baking, knitting, wearing sweaters, chilly hikes and maybe... if I please the gods and don't kill anymore rattlesnakes... some SNOW.... glorious SNOW.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Twinkle, twinkle, little star...

I've done it now. I've invested in some new camera equipment. My Nikon D40, my little workhorse, has been used and abused for almost four years now. It's been to the camera doctor for replacements and needs to go back again. I love this camera but something is wrong with it. It's not focusing all the time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I think something is wrong with the lens and my pictures are out of focus more than usual.
This is my excuse paragraph(above) for buying a new camera. I bought a Nikon D5100 camera with all the bells and whistles. I will tell you more about my new camera in a future post.
When I was ordering some other camera things I saw this filter. It's called a digital star8- 52mm filter. It only costs $3.31 and well... I found it hard to believe that this inexpensive filter would do anything for three dollars and thirty one cents. So I ordered it. It came yesterday and I have been having some fun with it.
This is called a "twinkle" filter and what they say it does, is allow you to remove unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water , glass etc. Well, I need to use it a lot  and experiment with it to get some of the effects that they showed as examples, but yesterday and this morning I took some pictures with the filter attached.
This is an effect that you have to be careful with. You could overdue it and you could also ruin a really good photo with it, but I think I will have fun with this.
The shot above was taken on my porch, as the sun was coming up in the east. Do you see the eight point star in the bush at the end of the porch? This is the 8 Point Cross created by the filter surface, that generates crossed ray beams. They emphasize glaring sunshine when you take a picture directly into the sun.
I really like this picture, above. It's just enough to let you know that the sun is there but it's not distracting. But, oops, there are some blue dots in the middle of the photo. Now that IS distracting.
I just realized what it is. I took this picture through the sliding glass door. It's a reflection of MY CAMERA.You have to look where you are shooting from. You can ruin a good print doing dumb things like this. Unless, of course, you want a reflection of something in the glass. That can be good too.

 I thought this one was going to be too dark but look... there's a double star! Now the sun IS the main attraction.
Cutter wasn't impressed with my new toy, but he kept following me around, so I took a picture with the sun behind him. I should have use a flash for his face. Sometimes you need a flash when there is too much light behind your subject.  I do like the light around his head, ears and feet... and , of course, one of those Corgi looks of determination.. the steady stare.
I like this one but, as I said, I needed more light on the "pooch". I love shots with the camera on the ground. I'm not really happy with this photo though, but it does show the star rays from the sun.
Back in the house, I caught this little sun sparkle in one of the sun catchers in my kitchen window... One perfect little twinkle.

The sun was flooding into the living room and it hit the plant, lighting up the leaves and the container. Can you see the little stars on the upper left edge of the ceramic vase? The star8 filter translates that bright spot of white into a familiar image... a star.
Below, you can also see the prism rays from the sun across the photo because this picture was cropped and the original had the sun in it. I'm not sure what happened near the crow against the wall. That an interesting light anomaly that I don't understand.
This reflection is really kind of cool. It's a reflection from somewhere else, because that part of the sign is just like the rest of it... ochre colored and antiqued.
So, as you can see, I will have some fun with this filter. It seems very substantial and screws onto the lens without any effort. I can't wait to try it at night, in town. All the lights, especially Christmas lights in a few months, will be wonderful and twinkle like stars . I can see it all now.
 I guess I'm easily entertained and can get pretty excited over little things... but for three dollars and thirty one cents it's a cheap date.



Monday, September 24, 2012

Creative Visualization

"Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally 'count our blessings,' give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” ~Shakti Gawain~

Do you see the "infinity" pool that reaches out to the edges of my mountain top? Do you see the beautiful reflections of the grape arbor and the blue sky of the early morning?

Alas, it is not the pool of my dreams. In reality, it is a birdbath in my back yard.
This morning I filled it with water and saw myself swimming to its edge, resting my head on the warm, sunsoaked concrete "sand" of this container. A miniature me, swimming in the luxury of this round deep pool with a stunning view.
I breathe in the fragrance of the lavender, spreading into its own reflection, in this pool of my imagination.
Avoiding the one visionary rose that survived the summer heat and never needed watering.

My swimming is over. I feel the heat of the day starting to seep into my pajama clad body. No bathing suit? No, it was only a moment of creative visualization. But... a fine one.
I will leave the infinity pool of my dreams to the sweet, yellow finches...
To the beautiful bluebirds.