Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Stills: Textures

Back in July of 2009, my Sunday Stills textures featured our parched landscape. This morning it is so cold I knew any texture I photographed would be indoors! So I headed to my art studio where there is always cheerful texture and color. Here is a hand embellished sheer fabric and some woven trim



For more textures, visit Sunday Stills!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Macro Monday: Garden Memento

This weekend I cut the asparagus patch back to the ground, and fondly came across some bits of Phoebe's wool stuck to the seed pod of this Thornapple, Datura metel.

I love this one because you can see the garden gate, which is in my header. We are still having 'fall color' with the blackberry canes on the bottom left.

I need to cut this plant back, too. Perhaps I will bring the dried stems in with the wool and place them with Avo's feathers.

For more up-close and personal photography, visit Macro Monday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Stills: Moods and Emotions

This week's Sunday Stills challenge was to take a photo that evoked a mood or emotion from the viewer.

This photo was taken by Farmer Rick one morning last week when it was an unseasonable 9 degrees, a temperature with which our heat pump could not keep up. I am sitting over a small radiant oil heater at my computer with not only the usual calico cat in my lap, Topaz, but also Starley the terrier who decided to join us. He is very good at the poor, pitiful me look. She is tolerating the invasion of her lap only because of the extra BTU's, I'm sure!

For more emotional photography, visit Sunday Stills.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Macro Monday: Best Shots of 2009

Since we just did our favorite Sunday Stills shots, I thought I'd pick my two best 2009 macro shots from Macro Monday.

This Mottled Tortise Beetle, Deloyala guttata, shot back in September is something I'd never seen before. It's always cool when nature can surprise you in your own backyard. I am still amazed by the 'windshields' of its wings and the metallic designs. I love the textures and details of these.

There are more than 800,000 species of insects on Earth--more than all the other plants and animals combined. Of this great number of insects, nearly half are beetles. When naturalist and entymologist E.O Wilson was once asked what he knew about God, he answered the only thing he knew was that God was inordinately fond of beetles.

My second favorite was this Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor, photographed in November. There is nothing in our landscape so stunning as the blue of this butterfly.

Probably the best thing about these shots were being in the right place at the right moment and having the camera with me!

Visit Macro Monday for more up-close images!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Stills: My Best Shots of Sunday Stills 2009

Our assignment was to pick our two most favorite Sunday Stills photos from 2009 and tell what we like about them. I have chosen two very different kinds of images.

The first one, from May, was about the Color Yellow. Here Dodder, a stringy, yellow plant, floats in the river reflecting the storm above. (That black blob at the bottom may even be my reflection).

Looking back, it almost seems portentous: this might have been the last rain and river flow before our horrendous drought, the worst in recorded history, and the most predominant thing filling the river was this parasitic plant. I have never seen so much of it.

What I like about this shot is the abstract composition, layered depths of field, and emotional moodiness. It is at once mysterious yet accessible--you know what it is but you really aren't sure what it is. It reminds me of the Japanese Ukiyo-E "pictures of a floating world" style of woodblock prints.

The second photo was from October, the Letter C, of my chicken and cardigan. I love this photo for sentimental reasons--I would never have guessed at the time Avo, my favorite rooster would be gone in a couple months. He was always willing to pose and I only recently realized images of him fill about 25% of my archive.

Photographically it has wonderful color and detail from natural lighting--the eye shine is there and the comb almost glows and just enough blur for the cardigan to be a cardigan without competing with the main subject. I could have made this happen in Photoshop, but effortlessly it was taken in one clean shot without any post-production. Although I love Photoshop, my life would be a lot easier if I could take a better shot to begin with.

I think the eight months I have participated in Sunday Stills has helped me improve in how I think about, compose, and display my photography. Thanks for the opportunity Ed!

For more best shots visit Sunday Stills!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Project Runway

Over the last two weeks Muffin the Faverolle has been recuperating in my studio from a large gash on her side. After the first week it looked solid enough I slathered her with Peck No More and put her back in the coop. In less than one minute the roosters had cornered her and the gash was reopened. Little Bitty Bird, the smallest of the Buff Laced Polands, was also showing wear from the rooster treading and I didn't want her gashed, too. A solution was in order.

Rooster treading on Little Bitty Bird

I called Hensavers. (Actually I googled them). I'd seen their nifty little product advertised in my poultry magazines and thought maybe it was time to get a couple of outfits. I ordered two of them in cammo green Sunday night and they arrived yesterday.

I chose the single strap model with the attached shoulder protector.

The straps fit over the chicken's wings like a backpack, and another around the neck. This morning I dressed the girls.



They seem to fit very well. Little Bitty Bird took to hers right away. The boys could not figure out how to mount her and she seemed pleased. The other hens looked envious.

Whatcha staring at? Haven't you ever seen haute couture before?

Muffin, however had a harder time adjusting to her new outfit.

This was not entirely unexpected, as one of the FAQs on the Hensaver website was "How long will my chicken walk backwards?" Sort of looks like a moonwalk to me!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Macro Monday: Historic Math and Geometry

On Sunday one of our neighbors kindly gave us a tour of the pioneer ruins at his place, once owned by Theophilus Watkins, the man who founded our little town in 1867. The Watkins house was very interesting, and I'll post about that later this week.

What really intrigued me though was a crumbling outlying structure that pre-dates the house and town. I think macro photographers notice details other people tend to miss. Our friend had never noticed the date, math or geometry I instantly saw.

1851 carved into the west side mortar was hidden in the shadow of a more recent Hackberry tree growing very close to the building.

There was also a Natal Star, or Star of Bethlehem carved into this wall.

This was found on the north wall. Who was LAR + FT? These are not the initials of the Watkins'. Were these the initials of the first pioneers who constructed this building? Could it have been the blacksmith Mr. Roberts that had a blacksmith shop on our property?

Inside, someone was very preoccupied with math.

What was being counted, each number so close in value to the next?

And what was being tallied?

Here you can see the remains of a metal stove pipe sticking out, which tells me this was inhabited and not originally built as a barn. The second floor was sided in cypress shingles, and the walls made of dry stacked limestone covered with mortar. Some of the holes look like they were made by bullets.

The central part of this wall is gone, exposing some vertical beams. I'm thinking it was a 'dog run' style building as is often found in early Texas settlements, later the middle part enclosed for other use.

Just as predicted in a dog run cabin, there were rooms to the left and right with their own thick entrance portals.

The roof rafters were hand-hewn and you can still see the juniper bark attached.

If only these old walls could speak! For more up-close and personal photography, visit Macro Monday!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Stills: Food

Happy New Year everyone!

This year is going to be about identifying problems and finding efficient solutions. Not surprisingly, some of my 2010 goals are organization and follow-through. For the last five years my large book collection has been cataloged and shelved in Library of Congress order. I have no trouble finding my books.

However chaos still reigns wherever there is no system in place, or the system fails from lack of follow-through. If something has a place and you are not inclined to put it there, the system is probably too complex or at least not convenient enough. One of these failed systems was our spices.

Growing up the food we ate was exceedingly bland because my mother, who had lived through the Great Depression, thought the handful of spices we owned were so expensive we must use them sparingly. As we saved them for special occasions, they lost their potency. I did not enjoy eating and couldn't fathom why most people thought it was so pleasurable. When processed mixes like Hamburger Helper and Shake 'N Bake came out I thought they were a godsend!

As an adult--and nearly a life-long vegetarian--I use a wide array of spices in my daily cooking. I had successfully kept the store bought jars in alphabetical order on two lazy susans on a shelf in the pantry until I got married. Since we hang out together when we cook, in our narrow kitchen this always required one of us to move out of the way to get into the pantry, which is at the other end, the farthest from the stove. Spices might accumulate next to the stove, or if they did make it back to their place might not end up in the right order depending on who was chef. We would end up buying duplicates (and sometimes triplicates!) because the original one could not be located.

So for Christmas, a new solution: magnetic canisters from Concept Kitchen stuck to the side of the refrigerator.

I printed labels on magnetic paper from the office supply store. The canisters have both a sprinkle and pour mode, or you can just take off the lid and use a spoon which actually fits inside. They are within easy reach of the stove and there's no doubt where they go. This has opened up a shelf to house other foods that had once cluttered the counters. So far I'm pleased with how the system is working.

What organizational challenges are you planning to tackle this year? For more food photos, visit Sunday Stills.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Out with the Old

2009 was a frustrating and sad year for so many people, I know many of us are happy to see it in the rear view mirror, a disappearing speck on the horizon. Authorities have it that we should all study history, lest we become doomed to repeat it, so before ushering in the New, I am taking a parting glimpse at the Old.

Spring was lost to illness from taking rabies shots. Nearly a year later, and after a recent subrogation interview assuring Blue Cross I did not ask the fox for his insurance card, they have decided to cover little more than half of the exorbitant cost of the vaccines for something known to be 100% fatal. We send them hundreds of dollars each month for "health insurance".  A perfect example of a failed health care system.

Lesson learned: Always carry gloves. Note to self: Contact the Texas Board of Insurance.

Summer broke all records for drought and heat and saw both the river and our well run dry. This took its toll on us psychologically--the lack of something so precious we had not even realized we'd taken for granted--and physically--from hauling tons of water, 5 gallon 40 lb buckets at a time.

Lesson learned: Never take any of life's conveniences for granted and be prepared to live without them. Ditch your old toilet--a low flush toilet not only helps save the planet, a 10 lb flush vs a 40 lb flush will also save your back. Note to self: Start planning a rainwater harvesting system.

Fall and winter brought the general downfall of the plumbing infrastructure of our 80 year old house and loss of many beloved pets. Nothing like living in a paradox where you have very little water, but what there is seems to be leaking all over the place. We said farewell to Hawk Girl, Rooster-O, Phoebe, Avo from a tragedy that could have been averted had I only listened to that little voice, Zoe, and even the tenacious Captain Ahab our special needs RIR rooster 'added for warmth' with a broken leg from the hatchery, who mysteriously passed this New Year's Eve.

Lesson learned: Always, always listen to your intuition. Note to self: House wiring is just as old. Best time to replace is before the fire.

Hoping everyone had a safe and fun New Year's Eve. Wishing everyone a fabulous 2010!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin