Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Autumn Garden

Our October garden is full of color...


... with a few notable exceptions...

... it's not the color of flowers.

Nonetheless, as I wander around the yard....

... I notice a few sparse blooms.

They don't make much of a show...

... but they are a welcome reminder...

... of what I can expect to see again...

... next spring ...

... and summer!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Up Close in Focus

One of the things I wanted to learn to do with my camera was to put certain things in focus, while things behind it were a blur.

My new camera allows me to pin-point an object I want to focus on.

It can be a small point like a leaf - though it's harder with leaves: there are often a lot of them in the same field of depth....

I also practiced on objects that were farther away, like the light-house in the distance.

This has become my favorite features on my new camera! But I still need lots more practice!

(The problem when buying NEW things - like cameras and computers is... it takes a lot of PRACTICE before they are effortless to use!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Landing Zone

Last week's photography lesson included tips on keeping moving objects in focus.

Fortunately, there are lots of ducks and geese around Andrew Haydon Park...

 ... so I had ample opportunity...

... to watch them come and go!

Looking at these photos now...

... they remind me of planes landing and taking off.

There was even a duck "waiting area" - a busy place!

My next camera goal: To use a zoom lens to capture close-ups of birds in flight!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Holy Ground

I'd like to share something I've been reading and re-reading:

"My first task in approaching another people
another culture
another religion
Is to take off my shoes.
For the place I am approaching is holy.
Otherwise I may find myself
treading on another's dreams,
their memories, their stories,
More serious still - I might forget
that God was there..."

These words, pinned up in a Roman Catholic convent in Harare, Zimbabwe, are quoted by Esther de Waal in To Pause at the Threshold (pages 86-7).

Esther de Waal then goes on to add: "...when I find myself on the threshold of another culture. I need to remind myself that as I meet them they will be bringing all their baggage of tradition and history, of suffering and triumph. So first I need to take time to look into my own self, to find in myself a willingness to be vulnerable, honest with my own story, its roots and its past..."

As I read and reflect, the ESL teacher in me says, YES. Living in our own cultures, we can easily forget that others have their stories, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Photography Tip: Use Leading Lines

I love Andrew Haydon Park in the fall, and have posted photos of its colorful scenery in previous years.

Recently, however, I had a photography class in the park.

(I have a new camera and want to learn to maximize its potential.)

For three hours my instructor and I strolled through the park...

... taking pictures.

An important tip that brought a dynamic element to the photos I took...

... was the instructor's suggestion to use "leading lines" ...

... to draw a viewer's eyes...

... through the picture.

My search for "leading lines" drew me to paths...

... and shore lines.

The lines made the photos more dynamic.

(Best of all, you don't need a fancy camera to benefit from that tip!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

In Another Color...

A while back I wrote about doing a two-pigment water-color painting. After we finished the first one, the instructor wanted us to paint the same picture using a second set of complementary colors...

For my second log cabin painting, I chose yellow and purple (a mix of red and blue)...

I'm not sure which I prefer. To me, the yellow-purple one looks more ominous... Color definitely creates a unique mood!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The End (of Barbecue Season) is Near!

Days are getting shorter - and shadows longer...

I have a feeling that our barbecue season is almost over.

Some neighbors barbecue all winter long - surrounded with snow banks. But we tend to quit when it's no longer fun to stand outside in the cold.

It's been a great season. I always welcome not having to cook - and I prefer not to heat up the kitchen on hot summer days. But it's cooler now - and the smell of indoor cooking and baking would warm our hearts ... as well as our home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Our October weather has been lovely - but this time of year always comes with a realization that snow could arrive anytime, really...

So I have been "preparing" for winter by... learning to paint! I wanted to have something new to do during those months that I'm indoors most of the day...

In September I registered for two painting classes, water-color and acrylics. But I have been feeling a little too busy, over-committed perhaps... (For me, there is a very fine line between keeping busy and doing too much!)

My dilemma: the acrylics class ended last week. Should I register for the next four-week session? I want to keep learning - but I don't want to feel over-committed!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding a Darning Egg

On cooler days I like to wear my hand-knit socks around the house like slippers.

But one recent cool morning when I pulled them out, I discovered that several of my favorite pairs have holes in them! So I again went online to look for a darning mushroom... I have been looking for one for years. (My mother always used a burned out glass light bulb for darning, but I wanted something less fragile.)

How many people darn socks these days? I wondered... Surely antique shops are the only place I will find them locally...

But, before placing an online order, I dropped into a yarn shop not far from home...

And to my amazement, they had - not a darning mushroom, but a wooden darning egg (basically the same thing) and at a reasonable price to boot! It comes from Berkley, California...

What a surprise! When I think of California, I think of sunny beaches... not darning socks!

Now, having found a darning egg, I really have no excuse!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Acrylics Painting Done... Maybe

I had my last acrylics class on Saturday - and we finished our paintings of the barn.


A week ago it looked like this...

 On Saturday we added more snow... and fence posts...

I discovered that - in painting snow - it's not about the white... It's about the blue. Blue shadows are what give the snow depth.


Our instructor said that when she finishes a painting, she puts it on the mantel where she can look at it during the day. If something bothers her about it, she changes it.

I've been looking at my picture from a distance... After mounding up all that snow, I think the barn door looks too small! Dare I risk messing up the picture to try to make the door higher?! I'm thinking about it! I also think that I need to add more snow to the right side of the barn roof, to balance it - even though I know that snow in nature doesn't "balance" itself. In fact, the wind mounds it up unevenly all the time... Maybe I'd better leave well enough alone, as my mother used to say!