Friday, November 29, 2013

Beautiful Colors

Beautiful Views

Looking Up

Returning from a trip to Trader Joe’s, waiting in traffic on Lake Blvd and N. Market Street for the light to turn green, I noticed that the sky was the color of dirty dishwater, though there was the promise that bright fall colors would accompany the approaching sunset.

Looking Down

I set up the tripod when I got back to the Treehouse and began focusing on the flowers and distant mountains. With my left eye pressed to the viewfinder and my right eye shut, I could hear something rustling in the leaves near my feet. It was a tiny bird, scratching for snacks. I turned the camera on him and took pictures and video. He didn’t seem to be skittish, and was still there after I left.

Lassen (from RAW image)

I took a few pictures of Mount Lassen, radiant in the last of the sunlight. My experiment included taking uncompressed, (RAW), images, and compressed, (.jpg) images, to see which ones held the best detail and density after editing and enhancement.

Lassen (from JPG image)

Both methods produced enjoyable, though different, results. If I were enlarging the images to 5 foot posters, then I would likely choose RAW. But not every time.

There is a quality in the pattern of JPG pixels, with Panasonic Lumix cameras, that gives a Dutch Master character to the images that appeals to me.

Colorful background

Kathern Sherwood and her mother, Jackie, cooked up Thanksgiving dinner for residents who stayed here, at the Treehouse, yesterday. It was very tasty, and appreciated by those of us who were lucky enough to attend. Kathern joined Peggy and myself to provide a musical interlude between dinner and dessert. It felt good to be part of this community.

Looking Ahead

The colors of fall provide a potpourri of photo composition opportunities. There are color, and shape combinations everywhere one looks. What fun!

Light and shadows

The main reason I went to Trader Joe’s today, was to get pie crust. The last time I was there, they were sold out of the Trader Joe, rolled and frozen pie crusts. Today, they had restocked.

I enjoy these daisy-like flowers

Yesterday, I wanted to make a pie, so I thought I would get pie crust at Raley’s. They only had the kind that were in an aluminum pie tin, but I thought I would at least give it a try.

It was not to my liking, and certainly not in the same category as the Trader Joe crust. I scraped out the apples and tossed that awful tasting, poor excuse for pie crust in the garbage.

So, today, I took advantage of living in this land of plenty and went to TJ’s, got the good stuff, and baked pie #5 with Granny Smith, Gala, and Pink Lady apples. (I didn’t consider that thing last night to be a pie, so it didn’t get a number).

Bubbling hot, pie #5

Today’s Seasonal Video;

Talented Singers

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Shoppersgiving

Formerly Known As Thanksgiving

Colorful Treehouse Oak

Chances are that you have read about, (or have seen on TV), how businesses have expanded Black Friday until it has nearly devoured Thanksgiving.

It is unlikely that any of this blog’s regular readers will be abandoning hearth, family, football, or home, to participate in the commercialized shopping spree on Thanksgiving Day, but stores expect large crowds of bargain hunting shoppers.

Exquisite driveway rose

I still embrace the traditional warmth of family and friends, gathering together to give thanks for food, shelter, and the gift of community.

When my parents were alive, family members would make arrangements to gather together at our parents house for this occasion, even though we were spread out across the country, (and sometimes the globe).

Robin in the treetop

Thanksgiving was our American family tradition, with all of us around the table, sharing food, seeing our siblings, sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, inlaws, invited guests, and remembering why some of us chose to go live in other cities and states.

Rambling rose

Actually, we had some wonderful Thanksgivings when I was younger. What could be more Norman Rockwell-ish than the November Pennsylvania countryside in the early 1950’s?

Tiffany Van Gogh

From our formal dining room, we could look out on farmers fields and clumps of woods through frosty windows that reflected our family sitting around a candle lit table covered with traditional foods in silver serving dishes. We were the embodiment of the 1950’s American fantasy.

Showoff pounces on a berry

I enjoyed watching the birds Wednesday around the Treehouse. The picture above captures one of the macho moves this male robin was doing to impress his mate, (or potential mate). He would fly about the branches with a flourish and daring do, then alight on a branch close to the other robin as if to say; “What-a-ya think of me now, baby?”

Yellow rose in the jungle

Over the years, I have been invited to be part of various family Thanksgiving dinners with wonderful people, all over the continental United States. I feel blessed and fortunate to have been a welcome member of different families Thanksgiving festivities by marriage, friendship, music, or common cause. This tradition continues today as I participate in Thanksgiving with my friends and neighbors here in Redding, California.

Mount Shasta

Happy Thanksgiving

Or, in this special year; Happy Thanksgivukkah

Today’s Appropriate Video;

Once In A Lifetime

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks

Expressed In Pictures

Robin cafeteria

What a time to be alive. The world is at ones fingertips with the right device and an internet connection. It is possible to search and find information about anything one wants to research.

Blue, daisy-like flowers

For example; I am concerned that charter schools are being used as a tool to bring back segregation, so I look up that topic and discover that my concern is justified. The Koch brothers, (Tea Party/John Birch Society/etc.), have been funding pro charter school candidates in local school board races throughout the United States. (Recent Douglas County School district election in Colorado) The internet is a terrific tool for answers.

Dead plant reappears

I have a few amazing technical devices that give me internet access; Like this MacBook Pro I am using. It helps me make good sound recordings, produce quality videos, enhance photographs, design graphics, compose blogs, communicate with people around the world, and instantly find information about any subject I seek. This computer has expanded my information universe.

Tree topper

I was recently reminded how easy it is to think one should keep upgrading even though things are working fine the way they are. Forgetting that Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm of Apple, I upgraded to the latest OS-X operating system, anticipating that it would be an improvement like Apple upgrades have always been.

Beauty around the Treehouse

It wasn’t an improvement. It degraded the Mac experience. The fun, smooth operating, easy flowing, Steve Jobs inspired magic was erased from Mac computers with the installation of Mavericks.

Connie’s plant, happy on the balcony

For the moment the only improvement that this MacBook Pro needs, is to remove that poorly designed Mavericks operating system, and to reinstall Mountain Lion, (the previous operating system that works smoothly and reliably like Apple products are supposed to).

Homemade apple pastry

That should be pretty easy to do using Time Machine. With Time Machine I can travel back to the day before I installed Mavericks, and locate the Mountain Lion operating system. Time Machine will ask if I want to replace Mavericks with Mountain Lion, and I will tap on ‘yes’. Good riddance.

Previous white rose a day later

The Mavericks operating system that the new guys came up with is an insult, and it shows me that they don’t understand why millions of people have been using Apple computers all these years. Apple isn’t the same company without Steve Jobs.

Young pink rose

Now that I got that off my chest, I can fix my MacBook, forget about upgrades and updates, and get back to exploring the roadside attractions along the information highway, (like why ordinary people become insane shoppers on Black Friday).

Today’s Video Offering;

Bargain Hunting Season Opens

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Seems Like A Long Time

When Observed That Way

Shasta Bolly horizon glow

There were quite a few JFK assassination stories, movies, retrospectives, and where were you’s, for this 50 year anniversary of the murder of president Kennedy.

Driveway rose

In one sense of time, it seems short, like it is still as fresh as the milk in my refrigerator.

Our volcano neighbor to the north

On the other hand, I am reminded that though I may still feel like I did when I was 18, there are also the accumulated years of living that are the me who writes this now.

Friday night moon

There is so much more to discover, now that I am more aware of the world around me, as well as inside the being I think of as ‘me’, that I didn’t know existed 50 years ago. This, and the fact that I am still here, add to the joy of each additional moment I live.

Colorful driveway rose

We are not alone in this universe. There are billions of fascinating life forms from which we can learn how we fit in the great cosmic puzzle.

50 years ago, I had very little awareness of other living beings in this world. I never considered that ‘lesser’ animals were thinking, reasoning, intelligent, life forms that are just as important in the grand scheme as humans.

Another driveway rose

Most things that we think are exclusively ‘human’ traits, our ancestors learned from observing the life in the world they shared. Music, tools, art, family, societies, diet, weaving, and more, are things we copied from nature.

I didn’t have a clue.

Lightning in a jar

I am glad to have finally learned where I fit in the grand family of life on earth. Respect and awareness of the bigger picture teaches me humility, and grants me joyful wonder with every enlightening observation.

Now, when you are going about your daily life, try to figure out what, plant, animal, or geo-function, we learned that from. (By geo-function, I mean the basic elements of fire, water, earth, and air.) From what did our ancestors learn little things like greeting one another, or using doors, or eating with utensils?

I was taught that we, humans, invented everything, so I treated earth’s non human residents with thoughtless arrogance. Animals were for eating, pets, and beasts of burden. Insects should be eradicated, and some plants are to be cultivated, while others should be cut down, plowed under, sprayed with weed killer, etc.

It is hard to imagine that I could have been so ignorant and oblivious. This being that I call ‘me’ is happy to know that there is so much more to discover with each and every waking moment.

Today’s Video;


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Current Events

And Old Stuff, Too

Wet tree by the balcony

There was some rain today in Redding. Nothing like the rain that nearly washed away everything on Sardinia, or the storms in Somalia, Vietnam, or Illinois.

Wet leaves on plant from Connie’s daughter

There was enough wetness to dampen the electrical system/computer components in the Buick. This causes a loss of juice to the starter, resulting in me not adding to any further  climate damage until tomorrow. 

Then my neighbor, Dean will give the car a jump from his heavy duty Wallmart jump-starter. Once it is started, I can continue making my modest CO2 contribution to accelerating global warming, with each drive to the store.

Aloe in the rain

In other weather news, I read that Washington, Illinois, (hard hit by a climate change related tornado), is represented by one of the republican climate deniers, Aaron Schock. (Story)

Yep, he even signed the Koch brothers pledge to obstruct any legislation that would regulate emissions from fossil fuel power plants. It will be interesting to see if he will ask for disaster aid for Illinois after voting against disaster relief for the New York victims of hurricane Sandy.

Apple pie #4

The pie is ready, so I took some time out from the weather stories.

The pie is actually weather related, though...

Had the car not been too damp to start, I would have used my time driving to John’s shop to rehearse some of the tunes for this Saturday, then down to the river to take some rain pictures, followed by a trip to Trader Joe’s to get food for tonight and the rest of the week.

Bird flees the frame

Instead, with the extra time accrued, I made an apple pie with Granny Smith and Pink Lady organic apples. As it was cooking, I began tonight’s blog entry.

Now, having had a piece, with ice cream, I must say that this is the best pie I have made, so far. The crust is so crusty and perfect it makes me reluctant to put the pie in the refrigerator before eating another piece. I will wait too see if I am hungry in an hour or two, before altering it’s consistency as a result of refrigeration.

New roses card

On Monday morning, while demonstrating some image color treatments for Sandi, I demonstrated my way to a great solution for a picture of roses that needed something to make it ‘card worthy’.

On Monday evening, while turning the picture into a notecard, I made a couple more cards from pictures I had taken during the day. The bird fleeing the frame, the two roses, and the Heartwarming Pale Rose. I am happy with the results.

Pale rose

I had intended to further explore the topic of why I write this blog, and who I write it for, anticipating that some useful insights might result from the exercise, but in the interest of time and space, it will have to wait.

Today’s Thrilling Video;

Be The Change