Fabric dyeing & dye-painting, dress designs and sewing, textile pattern design, t-shirt designs & mugs, jewelry making & design, graphic design, color theory, drawings, living with wild animals, cats and feral cats, weather, gardening, photos & photoshop, politics, and anything else I happen to be thinking of.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Cats Are Looking
Take Time to Read
Reading is very important to me. This spot in my living room near the window is a good place to read without losing all day.
Because the chair is comfortable only for a while...
Always Save Some Film for Sunset
Lupine & Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly at Bridgeport
Rexie thinking about being a wildcat...
|Bob In Tall Grass/ Rexie on painted chair|
Bob, being wild out in the grass, has been Photoshopped, using a filter.
Pure serendipity that I found them and saw how to put them together.
Doesn't Rexie look like he is dreaming about being wild?
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
All the Cats Are Outside Hunting Moths and Won't Come In to Supper Sept 2015
Learned 2 things in the process. The first is that Spoonflower's new fabric-printing system is indeed brighter, and I'll want to get this printed on one of those fabrics. (The synthetics also print bright colors.) And the second is that with these textured backgrounds and fills (done from Photoshop patterns), it is important to print them full-size to be at their brightest. Otherwise, just like a small print seen from a distance, they go greyer.
I think I might be going to use this fabric, or one of its coordinates, for a fleece-lined open vest this fall.
The happy kittens (5 years old now) are all happy and healthy. They spend some days out on the balcony and low roofs with the roses, but when I'm gone to classes, I get home too late, and it's getting cool and dark already before I could let them in.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Rexie Stops to Notice the Roses Thursday April 30, 2015
|Rexie on the balcony railing with St Mary mini rose, April 30, 2015|
This was a rose year. (It's always Rexie's year, he/(she) and his/(her) sisters.)
I have sequential hobbies-obsessions. They repeat, not in order, every several years. You can kind of tell that, from reading this blog. Roses & gardening, sewing, cross-stitch design, quilt design, jewelry design & making, textile design, fabric dyeing...
This spring and summer again it was roses. In pots on the balcony because of the drought, the conquering horde of blackberries, and the deer. I have never before succeeded in growing them successfully up there, partly because it's too shaded in high summer, although fine in spring, late summer, fall & winter, when the sun is more to the south.
Partly because, I thought in the past, by July I couldn't carry enough water to keep them healthy. That turned out to be not true. 6-8 gallons a day for the whole row, in still-fairly-small-pots. The problem in the past turned out to have been spider mites (and aphids, etc) drying them out. Soapy-water spray &/or dip turns out to fix that. Plus watering on the leaves more. Plus a couple of friendly spiders.
As for the shade question, I mostly bought and grew shade-tolerant roses, as I could get them. Yes, there are shade-tolerant roses! Especially Hybrid Musks, which are mostly contemporary with this 1917 house, but with some new ones too. I passed on the totally tempting Darlow's Enigma, which apparently wants to be 12ft x 12ft! Not on the balcony...
But I love Lyda Rose. Also old favorites Angel Face and Iceberg are shade-tolerant, and a few minis. And several of David Austin's English Roses, like Abraham Darby. And I also tried some totally tempting ones, which I'm thinking of trying to breed - purples Ebb Tide and Rhapsody in Blue.
Because I think what I need here for the balcony are shade-tolerant, heat-tolerant (Lyda Rose and probably other Hybrid Musks are both plus disease-resistant), fragrant, purples or pastels, disease-resistant. And for the long-term in pots, small roses or larger-bush minis, or hanging basket minis.
So I was out on the balcony very early in the morning for much of the summer. Trying (trying!) a little hybridizing just to learn how. Plus potting-up, fertilizing, spraying soapy water for bugs, or apple-cider-vinegar for diseases (mostly a minor problem). Also in pots, I knew from when I worked in the nursery, roses can become Magnesium deficient, although there's plenty in the soil here.
I can do better with all of that next year, and get more flowers. But the advantage of the balcony is that everything is close up. I always had some flowers, mostly fragrant ones. I took 1000s of pictures. And Rexie was out here with me part of the time - but he kept telling me (by walking on the rail between me and the flowers, and bumping me) to stop taking pictures and Pay Attention To The Cat.
He also decided that the balcony was his exclusive territory, and his sisters couldn't go out there.
Thursday, January 08, 2015
Rosemary, that's for Remembrance - Remembering Buddy
|This picture of Buddy out in the snow on the balcony is from March 18, 2011. Pandora was out there too.|
Buddy and Valentine were the 2 kittens whose feral mother was killed either by a raccoon or a boy and a dog. They were in a cage in the shed. Something pulled the bolt on the cage. Something killed the mama cat, who had just been spayed.
I had tried to bring them in for the night. The idea was that they would go back into the carrier inside the big cage, and then I could pick them up and take them in. The big cage did not have a secure floor that i could have picked up. (My good big cage had Cheesecake in it, who had been badly beaten up by something, and was supposed to stay confined for a month. The vet was surprised he survived.)
But when I went out to bring them in, they were all wild-eyed, and didn't go into the carrier. I didn't make the connection. And, fatal move, I fed them out there.
So, probably the giant killer raccoon who also probably beat up Cheesecake, and whose 3 inches across footprints I had seen on my windshield, pulled the bolt, opened the cage, and killed the mama cat.
But she fought long enough for the kittens to escape. And because they were used to coming to my car, when I went to feed the feral cats behind where I used to work, the kittens found their way to the house.
So I fed them canned cat food for a few times, sitting out on the porch. Then I got the bright idea of tying a cord to the screen door, putting the can of cat food just inside it, and letting them go in, and pulling the cord to close the door.
It worked. Then I had wild kittens loose in the house. I do not recommend this idea.
Eventually I got them up into the bathroom, where I had started taming other cats, and then out onto the balcony with the others, when it was warm. Buddy was named for his liking to be friendly with other cats, and do his greeting ritual with them. He became very good friends with Dovey, although not with her brother Lovey. (They rolled off the roof in a fight once.)
Originally he was not pettable, except over the backs of his friends at feeding time.
But in recent years, after he was upstairs with (Cheesecake and?) Pandora and Bob and me, he did become pettable, and even liked sitting on my lap when he had the chance. And his tabby fur was very soft.
He was one of the only 2 of my old cats who were still alive when I brought Mom's cats here. I put Musketeer upstairs with Buddy and Pandora, since he had lived with us for a while, until Mom took him away.
Musketeer lasted an amazing year and a half, considering how skeletally thin he was. When he finally went, after he stopped moving, he woke up from time to time, and took a little water in his mouth from a syringe. I spent several days in the nearby chair to be with him.
When Pandora went, she only lasted a few days after she stopped moving around.
I was keeping the older cats separated from my kittens, as much as possible, because of the various disease possibilities. So Buddy got to be with them out on the balcony on warm days, without food or water there, but did not get to just live with us. Or he was outside while we were inside. Or he was in the room with the wood-stove and we were in the bedroom area.
I always meant to get a picture of his large Buddy-face outside the window, and little Rex's small tabby-face inside the window, since they were similar soft-furred tabbies, only Rex and his sisters are so much smaller.
But this summer he stopped going out the window onto the roof and balcony. He was getting thinner, very thin. His fur got harsh. I was trying to feed him more, but he stopped eating the canned food, just ate the liquid off of it. I should have brought him some grass. I should have taken him down outside into the grass. There was a fenced area, until a tenant tore it open.
I wasn't paying enough attention to him. I wasn't sitting with him. It wasn't wood-stove season. I spent time with my "kittens", but not with him. He called and I didn't always come. I didn't really notice when he stopped eating any dried food at all. I didn't try to give him canned food at every meal. He was still trying to move around, to the cat-box and the water dishes, the day he died. He died on my lap.
When I buried him, as I put his little light curled-up body into the grave, I suddenly thought "rosemary". I went to pull some rosemary off the old bush which Grandpa or Grandma probably planted. (Mom's sister's name was Rosemary.) I had never done that while burying a cat before.
But when I pulled at the trailing branches, some of them broke off with roots. So I planted them around the edge of the grave, and tossed the others into it. The rosemary was beginning to flower. It was just before a rain, and it rained a little bit every week or two this fall. The rosemary should survive. Maybe I'll try to find some rue too.
So I will always know where Buddy's grave is.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Smoke Vacation! Sept. 23, 2014
|Yesterday late afternoon - the ground-level smoke had cleared somewhat|
The last time we were having smoke for weeks on end, from over a 1000 fires* caused by one set of lightning storms, I was wondering just how smoky it was in Renaissance Italy, when artists discovered the idea of atmospheric perspective. (How things get fuzzier, lighter, and bluer with distance, caused by more atmosphere between us and them with more distance.)
|This was about noon today!|
And the air smells much smokier. So glad I had a chance to open up the house for a while yesterday evening to air out - my rooms had been closed up for 3 days - and even more glad that I was awake in the middle of the night to close it all up again, including the floor which was open before.
*This time it's one giant fire to our Southeast. It's West and Southwest of Lake Tahoe. The King fire.
And the college campus, as well as the high school, is closed today. We've had snow vacation before, but smoke vacation? That's a new one to me.
Friday, September 19, 2014
More Nomad Dress Ideas (Folkwear#107)
|Batik-look version of the Nomad Dress|
|Love Explosion fabrics version of Nomad dress Folkwear#107|
Soon I'll be ready to show the fabrics I'm working on now, derived from the copper batik stamps I just got, and others, which I am making into virtual embroideries instead of virtual batiks, and with textured backgrounds.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Lassie Came Home August 7, 2014
|Lassie on balcony railing. You can see how she might fall off, with the birds going by at eye level.|
She, as it turned out, fell off the balcony, apparently, rather than getting taken off by one of the (now 3!) Great Horned Owls from down the hill. There was some wind, a large branch fell nearby, a drawer that was leaning against the railing fell off, not right below where it was. So she might have made a frightened leap, and she and the drawer fell together.
But Lassie is one of my "kittens". They come running when I call (for food).* I had left them out on the low roof/balcony after dark for the first time, forgetting why I had been so careful to not do that. (The rabbit that I saw the owl killing, before sunset one year, was no smaller than these cats.) It rained some that night. (Yes, rain. August.) When I let them in, she didn't come.
So I called and called. And walked around the house looking, for 2 days. The second night after the evening when she vanished, I was on the balcony, calling. Well, having Siamese cat hysterics, really. Loudly.** And someone said something, somewhere nearby. I asked "who said that?" No one said it again. It didn't seem to be any cat I could see, inside or outside.
But it turns out that Lassie must have found her way up onto the roof right over my head. Because first thing in the morning she found her way in through the high window on the other side of the roof, into the kitchen.
Now, don't you think there is something in the idea of cat names as self-fulfilling disasters? Since it was Lassie , (not Rex or Spot or Grey Mouse) who went off and had an adventure? And came home.
*In fact, a great thundering horde of cat...
**Lisa taught me to speak Siamese long ago. We used to keep in touch that way, going for walks in the woods together. And twice, after she had been missing a long time, she found her way back after I went up on a high place and called, in Siamese cat,"Where are you?" Once we had just moved to a new city, and she had gotten lost. Once, down at the coast, she had been shot. (Hunting chipmunks in the neighbor's garden.) She had to have her shoulder pinned back together.
Siamese cat hysterics, you ask? Speak in Siamese. The same thing that the mama cat says to the kittens when she comes back in and lies down to feed them. Meowwrrrr. With a purr at the end. The same thing that the tomcat says outside the window when he is calling a female to come out and play. MEOWWRRR. Now, louder and deepen your voice. Again, louder and deeper. Stand up straight. Make a megaphone with your hands. Louder and deeper. Let how upset you are show in your voice. Tighten your diaphragm. Put an echoing crack into it at the end of the call. Bounce it off the neighbors house a block away, just to check. And of course, when you do this, all the not-missing cats will stand up and put their paws on your knees, to tell you that they are here. And if they are inside, they will be answering you.
PS Happy Kitten Day, September 7 (The kittens birthday)
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Nomad dress ideas
|Folkwear #107 Afghani Nomad Dress pattern, using my ideas for Spoonflower "cross-stitch embroidery" fabric designs|
Back in the day, I would have embroidered the bodice myself. Today, I am using some of my cross-stitch designs from the '80s to make Spoonflower fabric which I can have printed, and use for parts of the dress.
I'll probably use either fabrics I dye, or lightweight cotton batiks, or both, for most of the dress. Fabric from Spoonflower comes in many weights, but the cross-stitch patterns look best on the linen-cotton canvas, which is heavier than I would use for the whole dress.
To do this version, I need to put those cross-stitch designs on different background colors - I'm thinking of a deep, rich aquamarine which I just tested as a virtual batik. Once I've bought some of the new colors, they will be available for sale too.
Here's a different version, using some of my Decorator Collection coordinates. The bodice and sleeve prints are available for sale now. This one shows the waistband that the pattern has. These vector-drawing patterns can be any size; I'll have to test appropriate sizes for this dress.
|Folkwear #107 Nomad dress pattern, another idea using my Decorator collection fabrics at Spoonflower|
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
|Empire-waist dress in Regency Stripe fabric, dark bluegreen|
This spring I was taking a costume history (fashion history) class. And one assignment we had was to design some modern clothing inspired by a historical period.
In the days when I was an active Society for Creative Anachronism member, I designed, drew patterns for, and made 12th century and Renaissance clothes for myself. But for this assignment, I decided to do Empire/Regency inspired designs, since I knew from my long-ago experience that those dresses, if cut right, could be flattering. If not, like the granny dress revival from the 60s, they can look like a sack of potatos tied with a string.
The secret, also mostly not apparently known by the designers of recent empire-waist tops, is that they have to flare from that high waist, not be cut straight.
The fun thing about doing this type of assignment today is the great research possibilities for the historical references. Even the current costume books may have larger color pictures, compared to 20th century ones. But of course, the internet sources are the great difference.
Turns out there are thriving Regency/Jane Austen communities out there, including commercial patterns drawn to re-create real period designs, which have to be worn over period underthings or they won't fit. (No wonder some of the period paintings and drawings, like some by Ingres, don't look right in their proportions. Their stays pushed the bust way, way up.)
But of course, I was doing modern clothes designs, in fact, things I might want to wear myself. And, since my clothes designing has always been fabric-driven, and since textile design is now my passion, first I had to design the fabrics...
Besides some overall prints, I wanted some border prints which might look like embroidery patterns. And I will be making engineered versions which can be placed around curved, flared hems and necklines, as well as straight for on sleeves.
This stripe is not like any period fabric, although maybe it has a little rococo flavor. But I like it on this dress. I designed it smaller, but liked the effect when I stretched it larger to put on the drawing, so I made a larger version of the fabric too. There's a link on the picture to one of the fabric pages at Spoonflower. I will be making one even taller too, and soon this large-scale darker one with a textured background will be available.
**Other versions coming, including border prints which look fairly in period, one based on a vintage copper batik stamp. And, I'm working on some fabrics to recreate the big surprise I found in my research - shawl dresses in rich colors with deep borders, made from imported Kashmir shawls, or the European copies made in merino wool. They weren't always wearing those drafty transparent white muslins...
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Lost Cat, May 2014
She was probably gotten by a wild animal the first night.** It rained. She might have tried to come back in through the hole in the screen where I had left the door open for her, and gotten chased off by the Horrible Roomer's cat or dogs. She wasn't very old, maybe 1 or 2 in 2010, so 6 now, or less.
A disadvantage of indoor cats is that they may not really learn to come when I call. She hadn't. (My outdoor cats came running when I called them.) So when they're hiding out or lost, I don't have that second chance for them to find their way back, to my calling. I called. I looked.
She liked being out on this screen porch, she and her friend Sugar Mouse, that first summer, before they had kittens. (My mother's cats had not been fixed nor had shots.) She was a good mother, protecting her kittens from their father and everything else. Once a kitten made a squeak when I was near it, and she flew at me to protect it.
When she got frightened, she and Mousie, her companion, they used to squeeze into the little drawers on either side of the kitchen sink. She was frightened by someone just before she vanished, and hiding in there. And I took a picture of her. With a flash. She maybe thought it wasn't a safe hiding place anymore.
*This last year and a half it has been too unpleasant here for me to sit with her at all, in this part of the house, with the Roomer here. I really missed that, her sitting on my shoulders. I'm afraid she missed it too.
**Dogs and cars kill more cats here, though.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Sugar Mouse in Exile October 26, 2010
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Kittens on bench Dec. 7, 2010
|Spot and Lassie|
That is Spot in the front, the friendliest kitten, and her sister Lassie (I think, Lassie and Grey Mouse are very similar) behind her.
Spot could have been named after the grey spot on her nose, but actually she has a tan spotted spot on her stomach.
(The names? Well, once I had decided the little kitten was Rex, Spot and Lassie became irresistible.)
Monday, December 02, 2013
Kittens in box Dec. 2, 2010
|Lassie, Grey Mouse, and Spot in box|
This cute photo is a little misleading - the kittens were in this box in the cupboard with the door closed. I had just opened the door and discovered where my missing kittens were.
To get here, they had to jump (or be carried?) into the shelf visible above this cupboard, that I had taken the drawer out of, and jump down off the side of it into the bottom cupboard.
Why had they, or their Mama, done this? Well, at the beginning of the week, I had chased their father into the cold out on the porch again for a night so he would go into the carrier and I could catch him to be fixed. Then he was isolated in the bathroom for a few days.
So apparently this was scary, because everybody was hiding.
Disclosure - I did Photoshop some printing off the box, which distracted from the image.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Kittens in chair November 26, 2010
|Grey Mouse and Rex in chair|
Rex is on the right, and his sister Grey Mouse is behind on the left.
Grey Mouse is the cool gray colored kitten, her sister, the other light tabby, has a buff underside and undertone to her gray.
(A kitten named Grey Mouse? Well, partly because of her father Sugar Mouse. And partly because she has the most receding-chin, under-bite, rodent-profile face of them all.)
PS My equal opportunity spelling of the word grey/gray? Early exposure to British English has left me totally confused as to which is the American spelling. I can keep straight words like color/colour, but not the greys. The kitten's name seems to have turned out British - not unreasonable, since a sugar mouse is (was?) a British thing.
Saturday, September 07, 2013
Happy Kitten Day Sept. 7
|Little Kitten who will be Rex, October 2010|
I was thinking that Kitten Day (the day the kittens were born), was Oct.7, but when I checked my calendar, they were born in September. But before getting up on the morning of Oct.7, I kept telling Rex "Happy Kitten Day" - and he kept purring, kneading my neck, and putting his nose on my face.
This picture was taken when I was feeding the Little Kitten supplemental kitten formula, when he was just a few weeks old, and not getting enough to eat. After eating his tablespoon or 2 of formula out of a teaspoon, he would climb up on my shoulder and go to sleep.
After a couple of weeks, when he was almost this small, I named him Rex.
King of my heart.
Every day is Happy Kitten Day here.
Sat. Sept. 7, 2013 This morning Rexie had small puffs of spiderwebs decorating both his/her eyebrows. It looked very cute. We had some Happy Kitten Day purring and cuddling.
Friday, August 09, 2013
Bats in the bedroom again… August 8, 2013
|Brown bat in bedroom June 26, 2006, 2am close-up. He was about to fly out the window when I flashed in his face. Whoa!|
Two nights in a row, Aug. 4th and 5th. First time in several years. Cheesecake and I used to have our bailout protocol all figured out for when there was one circling the bedroom. (Screens are tighter now, usually.)
The first night it was very late, maybe 3:30 or 4 am. I was waked up by the *kittens* bouncing all over me and the bed, chasing it. By the bedside flashlight it looked like a small bat.
|Small bat in bedroom, June 26, 2006, 2 am approx|
So I grabbed the Spot *kitten*, who was closest, locked her up, then caught the others one at a time, and once they were all locked up, closed the bedroom door to wait for it to settle out.
Once all was quiet, I went back in with the flashlight. Didn't see it. (They usually settle clinging to a screen.) So I opened a window wide and left. By that time it was almost showing some light in the sky. Went to sleep for the rest of the night in a chair.
I had hoped that it had gotten out, but kept the kittens and Buddy locked inside all day, and not in the bedroom. Because in the past I have thought that a bat had gotten away, but as soon as I let the cats out, they found it. (Once a very small one had crawled under the cat-house on the porch. They were trying to fish it out. Once there was a bat clinging to the shingle siding outside the bedroom. Several times one was still in the bedroom. Once in the torchiere lamp. It couldn't get out. After I had gone back to bed, I heard it skritching. Had to tip it out the window as soon as it was slightly light.)
So the next night, the bat appeared early, maybe 9:30 or 10:00pm. I was still reading, the light was still on, but luckily cats still locked up. It looked like a larger bat this time.
|Medium-size black bat in bedroom, June 26, 2006, approx 2am Notice the same calendar is in this picture.|
Leave, close door, wait for it to settle, go in and open window, and TURN OUT THE LIGHT. (Very important, otherwise there will be lots of bats in the bedroom, following bugs! See previous post about bats.)
This time, it was so much earlier, I just read in the chair for an hour or two, then went back to bed. Good chance it had escaped, and seems to have done so.
Think I've found where it/they got in — screen pulled loose from frame, and I had left the window open too far so they could easily get in.
|I'm sure that this time it wasn't this guy - you can see (there's that calendar again) how much larger he was, and brown not black.|
These pictures, from June 26, 2006, when I stood out on the porch roof and took pictures, the time I cleverly opened the window from the outside, thus leaving the light on, show, I think, three different species of bat.
I like my bats a lot. Haven't seen a mosquito for a month. But I prefer them outside, not in the bedroom.
Haven't heard them for a couple of years now. My extra-high-frequency hearing might be gone. (Never heard them in the bedroom; apparently it's the social calls, not echo-location, which are in human hearing range, sort-of.)
** The kittens are all grown up, though small, cats. But they still act like kittens. And they're my kittens, especially Rexie. (He thinks so too...)
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Mom's Applesauce Cake 12/10/2011
|batik furoshiki from Japan|
Her applesauce cake recipe was in her old hand-written cook book, with notes for instance on how she cooked the turkey each year when I was a kid. She knew right where it was on a shelf when I asked her, and I made the cake the first week I was there, when she could still enjoy it.
The unfamiliar ingredient in this recipe is cornstarch. What is cornstarch doing in a cake recipe? Well, I think it is like putting it in apple pie; the cake can have lots of applesauce in it, and be moist, without falling apart. This recipe is from long before things like carrot cake and zucchini bread.
In fact, her cookbook says her mother got the recipe from Mom's godmother Mrs Dorsey Ridge.
Mom's Applesauce Cake ( from Mrs. Dorsey Ridge, approx 1920)
Put in large bowl, then sift together:
2 cup flour
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 Tablespoons powdered chocolate (or cocoa is ok)
1 T cornstarch
(pinch iodized sea salt?) (Her recipe did not call for any, but it seemed a little bland last time.)
Add and mix in:
1 c nuts (she used walnuts) optional
1 c raisins
Add and stir in:
1 1/2 - 2 c sweetened applesauce (1 1/2 may be more like she made, she said.)
1/3 c oil or melted butter (Or I substitute yogurt sometimes.)
Turn into a buttered loaf pan.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour
until toothpick comes out clean.
Maybe cover with aluminum foil at the end, if it is getting too dark before the inside is done.
When I was a kid, she kept a canister of 6 times the dry ingredients mixed up. Then she could quickly take 3 cups of that mix to make a loaf.
Great toasted with butter for breakfast.
After Thanksgiving, when she was in the hospital bed, and had stopped eating solid food, I was heating in the microwave a piece of this cake I had made for my brothers' visit, and I heard her call loudly from the bedroom "Cut the bread! Cut the bread!" I took a piece in there, and broke off a small corner to put in her mouth - and she smiled... so beatifically.
Dec 11, 2011
Just got the oven fixed, after more than a year when I couldn't bake. And the first thing I made, to take to the last day of class, was this applesauce cake. She always used to make it during the holidays, for my sister's and brothers' birthdays.
Yesterday it was 2 years since she died. Just since the end of summer am I starting to get things done again.
July 13, 2013
I just made applesauce cake again last night. It's funny, I follow the recipe, but it isn't the same as her dense, dark cake. I even put in walnuts this time, like she did. Maybe it's the type of chocolate/cocoa. (I have Guittard, I think she had Hershey's in her cupboard.) And maybe she used her home-made applesauce. . .
The cake keeps well and stays moist.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Full moon puzzle
|full moon mandala photo, @15 sec. July 22, 2013 1am|
Apparently that was enough time for the close bright moon to light up the surrounding sky.
I don't know why the photo has a star shape, with hexagonal patches of light, and a greenish sky color, but I like it.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
This doesn't look like a heat wave . . . July 4th, 2013 noon
|July 4th, 2013 noon - over 100 degrees today|
With the clouds and extra moisture, it was hot and muggy, and didn't cool off as well at night. And around 100 degrees F all week!
At least the possible thunderstorms didn't happen and cause fires.
This week, July 18, it's about to heat up again, after a week of low 80s. 100 degrees by Saturday.
Amazing how cool 80 degrees feels in the summer. And how hot it is in the spring.
And at the end of that week, walking up the hill, I met a neighbor who said how cool 90 degrees felt!
Of the 2 tall trees on the left, the right one was the redtails' home tree. You can just see that steep crotch, near the top. You see how far away it really is.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The hummingbird and the hawk July 3, 2012 about 1:30pm
Some of the things I saw were hummingbirds, rising straight up in the air, maybe 60 feet or more, then dropping straight down, and near the ground, swooping off to the side. Then again (or another one, maybe). Repeated several times. Friends said it was a mating display.
I've lived here over 30 years, and never saw that before.
In this photo, the hummingbird is nearing the top of its rise. It is about 30 feet from me (horizontally).
The tree is about 100 feet away. The large crotch is the location of the redtails' nest. The nest is over 100 feet off the ground, maybe 60 feet above eye-level on the balcony, with the slope of the hill. It's probably one of the redtail chicks in the branches, flying by that date, but still often in the home tree.
|Hummingbird and Redtail hawk, July 3, 2012|
I was not out on the balcony as much this year, and have not seen the hummingbirds' display.
July 23, 2013 The swallows have apparently left for the mountains already. I was on campus on the 18th, and noticed they weren't there. I had hoped to catch them gathering, as I did once before, but I've missed it for this year. Maybe they left early because it's been so hot.
I don't know, because I missed it.
Saturday, July 06, 2013
Now that I've posted a sun halo, I guess I should show a sundog
|picture from fall 2011|
Since I learned that they exist, I've been seeing them 3 or 4 times a year. Before that, I never saw them, even during the years I worked outdoors, until the end when I knew about them.
This is the best one I've seen.
Update: for best sky pics, especially without a polarizing filter, try lowering your exposure by a stop or even 2 stops. Or, of course, do that afterwards in Photoshop by adjusting the exposure setting.
Aligned hexagonal ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. This one shows the prism-effect of spectral colors too.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Redtail chick flying July 2, 2012
|young redtail photo July 2, 2012|
The v-shaped crotch of the tree showing at lower right of photo, was the nest site. It's about 30 feet down from the top of a Ponderosa pine tree. Somewhere over 100 feet off the ground. Only about 100 feet away and 60 feet up from my balcony, because of the slope of the hill.
I miss "my" redtails, which didn't come back this year. But they're around; I just saw one circling over the old nursery down the hill yesterday morning.
I'm trying to use this year to finish sorting last year's photos. At a thousand pics a day average, for a month, it's no surprise that's not done yet. I'm finding some unexpected images.
And while I was out there watching them, I saw lots of other life in the canopy in a way I had never noticed before...
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
After the rain
|Just after the rain stopped, June 25, 2013, 5:30pm|
Yep. It rained solidly for about 2 days. Not a hard rain, but a steady soaking. Something about a large Arctic low moving the jet-stream, and oceanic tropical moisture. It was a warm storm, just down to the 60s F.
Actually, it often does rain in June here, but not every year. It is more surprising this year because of the warm dry spring we had.
This picture is looking out over the top of the grocery store, between tall trees, from the bus bench across the street, about an hour after the rain stopped on Tuesday. There are houses all around, and under those trees too — but what a lovely view. And the clouds sitting on the tops of the hills.
Today, Wednesday, it was a lovely walk to campus. The air yesterday and today was very soft-feeling, with all the moisture, and warm.
By next Tuesday, the temperature is supposed to be back up to 101 degrees F.
I decided years ago that if it ever didn't look like this here, I wouldn't want to live here anymore.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Halo around sun, June 18, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
It wasn't supposed to get to 100 degrees F the first week in June
|June 8, 2013 sunset|
Two years ago, the kittens and I were enjoying fires in the woodstove the first week of June.
*Not here at this house among tall trees, on the brow of a hill, where it only got to the mid-90s. But in the neighboring town it did. Record-breaking heat for the whole of Northern California.
Saturday, June 01, 2013
Self-portrait photo, April 28, 2013
This picture happened by accident. In the Corel Painter class I was taking this semester, I needed a photo to base a computer-painted self-portrait on. I was probably going to use one taken by a friend in a class last year, but as insurance I went out on the balcony on a sunny afternoon to try to take some side-lit shadowed pictures.
I am very un-photogenic. And I was in front of the camera, not behind it, so I couldn't see what I was getting. The sun was in my eyes. The kittens came by to see what was going on, and got bored and went away. I took lots of pictures, which meant that I had to go through hundreds of desperately ugly pictures to find a few not-so bad ones.
But this one had kind of a nice smile...
I didn't know that the corners of my mouth turned down when I smiled - way beyond my ability to draw.
But I didn't see until I had enlarged it onscreen — a reflection in my glasses. No wonder I was smiling. Lassie the kitten is reflected there. She was sitting on the railing in the sun.
The kittens are my darlings, even grown up.
This is minimally photoshopped, in terms of making myself look better, the usual use of Photoshop. I turned down the red sunburn color some. And I photoshopped out the tape holding my glasses together. My usual style of eliminating distractions without materially changing the effect.
In other ways, there is significant photoshopping:
- To make more interesting shadows, I duplicated layers, then set the top one to multiply at a lower opacity.
- I substituted a virtual batik background for the porch shingles.
- I made my shirt aqua instead of blue.
But that reflection in the glasses — I couldn't have planned that.
Friday, May 31, 2013
The first sighting
|First redtail at sunset May 22, 2012|
Always before, when I heard them occasionally up on top of the trees, they had been on the ones right over the house, which I can't see the top of.
|Second redtail at sunset May 22, 2012|
The next day or so, as I walked down the hill, once there were 3 adult redtails circling, soaring, riding the thermal.
Between the 22nd and the 28th, I saw them several times sitting up there on the tall trees.
May 31, 2013 This year, although I've seen and heard them at the other end of the trail to campus, they don't seem to be coming back to here. I hope they didn't try to go to the neighbors' place, that once cut down trees in nesting season, and the redtails that were here then vanished. There weren't redtails nearby here for years. Just yesterday that neighbor started some new construction project.
I am going to miss seeing 'my' redtails, but maybe I can get last year's photos sorted at last.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Beat it Buster, your flashmob didn't show
|Redtail Hawk Screams at Jay, June 2012|
This is the top of an over 100 ft pine tree. They are sitting on this year's growth candles. The larger needles in the foreground are the mature size.
This scrub-jay has been buzzing the redtail hawk for some time, over and over, with rests between flights. This rest he is a little closer to the hawk than usual...
All the time he has been trying to call his mob. Nobody showed.
It’s hard to be a mob all by yourself.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
It wasn't supposed to snow this month… (5/17/11)
It snowed more than this though.
|photo from May 15, 2011|
But not every spring...
Friday, May 17, 2013
It wasn't supposed to snow this month. . . . Friday the 13th at work? (from May15 2011)
|Photo May 15, 2011|
It was Sunday morning, May 15th, that it snowed. This picture is from Monday morning, with patches of snow still, including this South side balcony, and the irises down below it.
But it never pays to count ones irises (before they're hatched). I didn't have a chance to make it to the quilt show either. Or to Empire Mine park to see the irises....
I have a superstition about that, honestly come by. Grandpa used to say "God willing and the creek don't rise."
For many years I have caught the bus to the nearby grocery store, and had 20 minutes to run in, get groceries, and back out to the bus stop before it comes back. (Although with the cutbacks in bus services the last several years, I now have a 15 minute walk uphill with the groceries, instead of a level walk past 2 houses and down the driveway.)
And I usually say "With luck, I'll catch you on your way back" to let the driver know to look for me. But every time I have said instead "I'll catch you on your way back" I have missed the bus. Every time!
So I try not to assume anything will work out, just hope.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
|Large pollen cones on Ponderosa pine May 3, 2011|
Light rain again today, after several warm days after the last rains.
Several years ago, on an early warm night, I had opened the doors onto the partially screened porch downstairs, and a few screenless windows, to let a bat out, (which after swooping through hall and computer room, had headed down the stairs).
And when I went back downstairs with a flashlight, after hearing a bang, I heard a skittering and a scrabbling out on that porch. And the loose screen across the doorway was down. Critters had been in the house!
In the morning, footprints in the thick layer of pine pollen on the porch. Five toes, so not cats (or dogs). Raccoons. A couple of sizes. Not really clear back foot prints.
But something funny. Among the footprints were some large poofy-puffy, roundish-ovalish marks. Tail prints!
I already knew that muddy prints on the car were different than the ones in soft dirt shown in the animal-tracks books. Tracks in the layer of loose pollen dust are different still.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Summertime, and the living is easy
Neither have I, but my first job was as summer field labor in an experimental barley field. That was in the pre-sunscreen era, and it took only one day for me to figure out that someone as pale-skinned as I needed long sleeves and a hat.
(Why it took me that long I don't know, I always burned badly.) And summertime work out in a hot sunny field is not easy at all.
The year I was a freshman in college, the woman who graduated as the valedictorian that year had earned her way through college picking fruit in the Wenatchee Valley. I was very impressed.
The little sailboat is from a few years later. That's me, and our dad behind the mast, and a brother. And one year an article had been published about PABA (para-amino-benzoic acid). So Dad mixed up some in alcohol, and my sister and I tried it while sailing across the lake. We were amazed that we didn't sunburn at all.
And around here, the living is not so easy in summertime.
True it's not between 42 degrees F and 52 on the main floor (I used a refrigerator thermometer to check that, since the thermometer on the non-functional thermostat only goes down to 52.) Sometimes 52 degrees is a lot colder than other times…
And not between 50 and 60 degrees on the top floor. The higher temperatures are after several sunny days, or when there's been a fire in the woodstove.
And I'm not wading through a foot of snow to carry firewood from the garage to the house and upstairs after several days of the power being out, like a couple of years ago. (Normally I try to carry firewood up between storms.)
Yes, it only takes 5 minutes to dress in one layer of clothes, but more baths/showers and more laundry.
But the main thing is that it takes half an hour to go around morning and evening closing/opening curtains and/or windows, and turning on and off fans and sprinklers. And when it's hot, it's hot.
When the living is really easy here is right now, spring and fall, in the weeks when the temperature is fine and the windows can be left open to screens all day and all night. Between rain or snow storms. Before the weather gets too hot. With fresh spring vegetables or fall harvest at the grower's market.
Except it's pollen season now, or just finished. Drifts of yellow everywhere. Can't leave the windows open to let that blow in. Can't leave them open again until I've cleaned and vacuumed window-sills, porches, low roofs. Then I will be able to see if it's really over. The recent rains might have finished it, but the pollen cones haven't fallen off the pines yet.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
It looks so peaceful here on campus this morning May 14, 2013
|Koi pond, morning May 14, 2013 8:30 am|
I can just imagine a mountain lion sitting on that big rock. . .
I'd love to see a mountain lion in the wild, but not quite that close.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Rain on the roses
|Wild roses April-May 2012|
This week the air has been very soft and moist, with full clouds and intermittent rain. Warmish down in the valley, coolish here in the foothills. And rain on these naturalized old-fashioned roses, which bloom earlier than the modern types, the end of April usually, I think, and part of May.*
This year it did snow and close down campus one day. And it took the prof an hour to get out of the parking lot! I had walked home by then. It's only a 50-minute walk.
That's compared to a couple of years ago, when we lost several Thursdays of classes to snow, and the kittens and I were enjoying fires in the wood-stove in the first week of June.
|Raindrops on dogwood May 7, 2013|
*I don't know what variety the roses are. They get no water and reliably bloom each year. Don't seem susceptible to powdery mildew, like the similar naturalized one up the hill by the house, that has climbed a small tree and taken it over.