Monday, January 31, 2011

Sometimes You Can

Just Charge It

Jo Anna chats with Sandi who is in her Mercedes giving  a jump start to the Buick’s very low battery. Once it was started, Sandi followed me to Mike Cary’s tire factory so she could take me to do some errands while the car was getting it’s battery charged.

It was a beautiful day here in Redding and I spent as much time as possible outside taking pictures around the Treehouse Senior Apartments.

Birds posed, high in the bare branches, no doubt knowing that I had the image stabilization set to keep them in sharp focus while I clicked hand held photographs, using the 10x optical zoom.

Around 4 o’clock, John came by in his souped up new Mustang to give me a ride to pick up the Buick. His Mustang is a nice car. It starts when you turn the key.

Cody put the battery back in the Buick and checked the alternator and charging system. Those things were working as they should, but the battery was about worn out.

Mike sells batteries as well as tires, so I will probably get one from him later this week. In the meantime, I will just hope that the old, but newly charged, battery will hold me until then. I have previously written about Mike Cary in this blog.

The Hatchet Ridge wind turbines looked nice way off in the distance near Burney.

So that’s the way it is on my first day back from the weekend camping at home adventure. I am happy to know that all I need is a new battery for the Buick to keep it running reliably now, and in the foreseeable future.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Life Is Good

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Breathing Deeply

In The Moment

The sun came out today and some things started drying out. The soggy center of this rose was happy to experience evaporation in the afternoon sunshine.

It’s day 3 of my weekend camping trip, (without leaving home), and I still have plenty of food, although I did run out of ice cream. I guess I will just have to ‘rough it’ for the next day or two.

This morning I finally got comfortable with the idea of not having to be anywhere. I was right where I belonged. Once I woke up, I even laid in bed for about 15 minutes without feeling like I should be up and getting things done. Ahhh, tranquility at last.

This camping stuff is like a seminar in relaxation technique immersion.

I spent the morning, (I use that term relative to the time I rise), reading the news. The most interesting article for me was in the Christian Science Monitor. It was a 7 page story about Germany and how it is becoming the worlds leader in manufacturing and precision industrial exports.

One of my neighbors had asked for some greeting cards featuring Mt. Shasta, so I spent some time experimenting with Image Tricks to see what clever manipulations could be applied to some of my Mt. Shasta photos. In the end, it was the simple magic of the mountain captured by the Lumix TZ1 that provided the images I used for the cards. Still, it was fun becoming more familiar with the image modifying tools.

The great outdoors beckoned with skies of blue and birdies too. A couple of tours of the treehouse grounds produced happy, healthy feelings, as well as some nice pictures.

The image stabilization built into the Lumix worked nicely when I took a hand held, 10x zoom shot from the ground, of a robin perching on the top branch of a tree. I went up to the second floor landing and using a tripod, found a hole through the leaves of a nearby tree that allowed me to get another picture of the same bird.

From the same spot on the landing, I turned the camera toward distant Mt. Shasta, lit nicely by the low angle of the soon to be setting sun.

What a magnificent place to spend my camping weekend.

I walked through ‘A’ building to the landing on the western side and watched the sun set. My experiment in camping at home is a pleasurable success, and one I will gladly repeat anytime.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roughing It

Out In The Wild

Day 2, 10:37 AM;

Foggy, cool, and damp this morning. 38 degrees. The fog constricts the ambient sounds and brings a welcome calm to the ‘campsite’. (This weekend I am camping at home to save money and gasoline.)

Today I plan to breakout the keyboard and limber up my mind and fingers by adding some parts to the latest recording projects. ( I also need to condense a couple of rhythm guitar tracks with a single replacement track. )

It’s 68 degrees here inside my “tent”, and the Ethiopian shade grown, fair trade, organic coffee tastes smooth and earthy from my favorite cup.

I appreciate the blessed quiet of this morning on my camping weekend, here in the north state. In the distance I hear a happy hyena, or is that one of the ladies going to bingo? Transposing the sound of the refrigerator into the key of campsite natural, is a little tricky right now, I think I will have another cup of exotic imported coffee and hear what comes to mind.

A couple of days ago, I went up to the lake to take some Mount Shasta pictures with the Lumix TZ1. I saw an old guy with a camera, hiking up the the left side of the road. He was almost to the top where I was going to stop, so I didn’t offer him a ride.

While I was taking pictures, I watched him slowly approaching, and I called to him, but he was still too far away for him to hear, so I smiled and waved. He waved back.

I was done with my camera shoot, but I waited by the Buick as he slowly moved into hearing range, (about 5 feet). He was wearing a pair of hearing aids, which explained the need to be relatively close to converse. I asked him if he had been hiking up the hill for exercise, or just to get to the top where he could take Shasta Lake pictures. He said, “Both”. I noticed he had an older Lumix digital camera around his neck and we talked the merits of the Leica lenses.

It turned out that we both had been photography enthusiasts for most of our lives and had boxes and boxes of slides and negatives left over from the days of film. (Thank you Marian for letting me store that footlocker full of negatives and tape recordings at your house.)

We stood there talking and admiring the magnificent surroundings. I was due to do some recording at Johns shop, but I don’t often take time to chat with an old-timer, overlooking Lake Shasta, the mountains, and Mount Shasta, so I lingered and listened as he told me about his history with the area.

He spoke of relatives who lived in Sacramento and Placer county, that would come to visit on their vacations. His dad would write them a list of supplies to bring and give the letter to the forest service to mail. He spoke wistfully of fishing from his dads boat, and how even today, fishing is his favorite thing to do.

I didn’t get his name, or give him mine, as this was not that kind of exchange. This was just a point in time and space where two people shared a cordial moment and went on their merry way knowing at least one other person shared their appreciation of natures grand beauty and how it shaped a mans life.

12:11 PM
Time to whip up some grub and get busy enjoying my camping weekend. The refrigerator still sounds like an example of cost saving manufacturing, rather than the result of efficient engineering, but it does keep the food I eat from spoiling, so I will keep trying to hear it in some natural context.

Natural Breakfast

Okay, time to make some music.

7:52 PM
The music went fine and I had a 6 min 30 second track with a slide show of January Sunsets. I uploaded it to youtube and it became a 2 min 17 second slide show. Oh well, no biggie. At least you can see and hear ⅓ of the video, and that in itself is truly amazing when I think of how thrilled I was 3 years ago just to get anything up on youtube.

It’s raining now outside my shelter here where I am camping, but I am warm and dry. That is a luxury that many others in this world do not have, and I am acutely aware of my good fortune to be who, what, and where I am.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Nature Is Beautiful

Friday, January 28, 2011

This Weekend I Find

The Best Campsite, Ever

Before setting up camp, I surveyed my surroundings, and it looked good to me. I decided this is the perfect spot to spend the weekend.

To the north there is Mount Shasta, and to the east of me is the volcano called Mount Lassen. I am situated on a slight rise that gives a view of both magnificent mountains.

This site, where I have set up camp, (camp is a Roman word that means “open field”, but also has military connotations), gives me a clear look in all directions.

Reflecting on the the sunset and observing the different species of birds winging their way to places where they choose to spend the night.

How lucky I am to be able to take the time to absorb the awesome display caused by the flaming ball of hydrogen, 93,000,000 miles from where I was standing. 

A look from the southern portal of my shelter gave me another point of view to complete the circumspection of my surroundings at sundown.

I am camping here this weekend for a number of reasons;

  • The car battery is too low to start the engine.
  • Money is in short supply.
  • I need to use up the food in the freezer.
  • I live here.

It’s not a bad place to be. I have plenty of projects to work on, letters to write, cards to send, pictures to take, and songs to write. It’s the most productive, practical, pleasurable, and satisfying way to spend my weekend that I would be missing if I had more money and the car would start.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

All The Comforts Of Home

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photographic Proof

The Sun Also Rises
Sunrise from my balcony. 1/26/11

When I went to bed a little after midnight, I thought to myself; “Self...I bet that you could get a good picture of the moon if you got up early enough in the morning.”

Sure enough, after a cramp in my leg woke me up, I saw pink light through the slats of the window blinds. I got out of bed, pulled on some clothes, grabbed the Lumix TZ1, and hobbled out onto the balcony to catch a bit of the spectacle before it turned into day.

Oh yeah, I got some great shots of the moon, too.

Hey, look it’s the moon!
Closer look
Near miss

Not to be outdone, today’s sunset was stellar, as well.
Sundown reflected on the roof of the Buick.

Something Entirely Different
A tiny blue flower visits Image Tricks.

I am still discovering more magic in the new image editing software I downloaded the other day. There are virtually billions of transformation possibilities to explore. Fun stuff.

Magic Eight Ball?
I thought I could rack up a few ‘combination shot’ puns with this plug about my new, 54 cent, in-ear listening devices that arrived from Singapore today. I figured I might cue up a few tunes and have a ball, but they kept rolling away and wouldn’t stick. Time to pool all the plays on words and put them on the table to see how they lie.

If I Wake Up Early, Again
Look at what awaits us all just before sunrise tomorrow.

If you get up an hour before sunrise tomorrow (Jan. 27) and have clear skies, you’ll be greeted by a spectacular array of stars and planets spread across the southern horizon with the quarter moon as a celestial centerpiece.

Most people lose track of the moon at this time of the month because it’s in the morning sky.You will see, spread in a gently curving arc, the bright planet Venus, the red giant star Antares (1.0), the moon (–11.8), the blue-white star Spica (1.0), and the planet Saturn (0.7). Above them all, directing the show, will be the orange star Arcturus (–0.7).

Today’s relatively Appropriate Song;

Music Has No Borders

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thirteen Signs

Oh My Stars

The blue star near the center of this image is Zeta Ophiuchi. When seen in visible light it appears as a relatively dim red star surrounded by other dim stars and no dust. However, in this infrared image taken with NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, a completely different view emerges. Zeta Ophiuchi is actually a very massive, hot, bright blue star plowing its way through a large cloud of interstellar dust and gas. More from NASA.

If the name seems familiar, it is because the star is part of the constellation Ophichus, (the so called 13th sign of the zodiac).

Depending on which side of the sidereal line in the sands of time you stand, the zodiac either has 12 signs to fit with the 4 seasons, or it has to do with the sun rising in the 13 different constellations.  

Some of you may know that there are 13 moons in a year, but the Gregorian calendar makers were charged with making a 12 month, 4 season calendar whether the natural world fit or not. So they ignored the extra moon, like the astrologers ignored the extra sign.

The astrologers and calendar makers come and go, but Zeta Ophichus will be shining brightly in the heavens for another 4 million years, (put a reminder on your refrigerator).

The Universe On My Lap
The World Outside My Door
Natural Wonders All Around
At first glance, Dorothy’s garden appeared to be without flowers, but on closer inspection I found these.

The sunset didn’t seem very colorful, until I looked behind me.

Thanks for joining me in this collection of observations about the life on earth we share. I wondered how I was going to use the pictures from earlier in the day, and then I saw the wonderful picture of Zeta Ophiuchi. It was a reminder that it’s how we look at the world that tends to determine what is important.

We are given an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy this magical experience of consciousness and physical being in a world of wonders, and I am loving every moment.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;

Hooray For Music

Sunday, January 23, 2011

National Pie Day

My My Apple Pie
I put tonight’s dessert through some new imaging software.

Yes, today, January 23 was National Pie Day. I almost missed it. Did you know there was a day for pie? You can watch The Pie Website throughout the year so you don’t miss it next time.

This Is A Rosebud
I used the new Image Tricks program on a rosebud.

Last night I tried a free version of an image editor that I found at the Mac Apps store. I liked it so much, that today I bought the full version and began to explore the possibilities. I reviewed it on Another Site. I noticed that I had not yet updated the year on that site, or some others I checked. So...

Today was also, ‘Update Some Websites To 2011 Day”. At least for me it was.

January seems to be “Reconnect With Sax Players Month”, too. What a nice surprise to hear from 4 different sax players this month, who have been part of my bands over the years. Today, Cal Thompson got in touch with me through an old website I didn’t know I still had. It was great to hear from him. He was part of the Phil Seymour Combo with me in Houston when I was 19. He posted the 45rpm record from that band; “Don’t Tell Me”.

On The Dam Road
It’s a good thing I have the Lumix TZ1.
From the same spot using 10x optical zoom.

It was a day for the Lumix TZ1. The mountains played in the light and shadow of  a variety of passing, and lingering clouds. Shasta was even making some of it’s own clouds. No image tricks were used in the capture of these images, just the superb Leica lens.

Mount Shasta from the Dam Road.

What a splendid day, and what could be a better curtain than a brilliant sunset. Life is good.

Tonight, from the second floor landing outside building ‘A’.

Today’s Relatively Appropriate Song;