Archive for November, 2010

New camera

I have to say that I have had a very humbling experience in the last few weeks.

My brother got himself a new digital SLR camera, and back when I was going through the dumps he inquired as to whether I would be amenable to taking custody of his old SLR, an Olympus E1.   Perhaps it is “old technology” now, but I have been rather lusting after another SLR camera since I sort of gave up using the old film SLR I used to use.   So, I agreed to a custody arrangement, and the Division of Camera Services approved my application for foster parentage.   In due time, the camera arrived in a very portentously heavy box, complete with insurance, signature upon delivery required.

Very excited, I opened the box, and found not only the camera, but a 14-42mm lens, a comprehensive instruction manual, all  the paperwork and instructions in several foreign languages that came with the camera when originally purchased, software for allowing the camera to talk to the computer, 7 extra 1 gigabyte memory cards, and extra battery and charger, all the cords necessary for connecting the camera to other electronic devices, and a rather wonderful camera bag.


My IT guy installed the appropriate software, we put the battery in the camera and turned it on.   My, my, my.   It takes pictures!

It takes pictures exactly as you instruct it to, which means that so far I have had no particularly good luck with my essays to the garden and house.   I have discovered that I need to use a tripod if I am going to take pictures inside without a flash in my rather comfy but dim house.  I have discovered that the camera has its own way of interpreting what it is seeing, and it is very different from the results you get with a point and shoot.

I guess what I am trying to say is that the point and shoot sort of cameras that I have been using for the last five or six years have made me technology dependent.   Some people might even say that the P&S sort of camera is mostly idiot proof.  What I have discovered, to my chagrin, is that I am apparently an idiot.

I spent a pleasant afternoon the other day reading the entire instruction manual in an attempt to get a handle on this camera.

This is the best shot I have gotten so far.

I’m sure there will be more to come as I become more familiar with my new toy.

In other news, we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, sister, and son all in attendance along with my very good friend Kathryn, who was visiting me from Asheville.   It was an evening completely devoid of drama, and so everyone had a wonderful time.

The food was wonderful.

The last three Thanksgivings for Jesse were spent in Iraq, so he was very thrilled to get to experience a fresh home cooked meal for the occasion.

Kathryn and Jesse helped me paint my utility room while they were here.   Not only do the walls look fresh and new and unblemished, everything got taken out of all the cabinets and closets and cleaned before being replaced.   I even threw a few things away, although I was gratified to learn that there isn’t a lot of stuff in there that doesn’t get used on a fairly regular basis.

I feel renewed by the “girl time” that I got while Kathryn was here.  It was so wonderful to see her.

I have signed up for the Nablopomo December “blog post every day for a month” challenge.   So we will see how that goes.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying some light snow and brisk winds.

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Busy busy busy

I’m pretty sure I have used that title before on this blog.   There’s a good reason for that, we tend to stay pretty busy around The Havens.

Lately we have been enjoying the presence of the two cousins.   It is really a lot of fun to watch a pair of very intelligent young adults interact using all the methods available to them including their smart phones, Facebook, email, texting and verbal jousting.  All at once.

I have been cleaning house, which has been making me feel a combination of incredibly blessed and overwhelmed with doo-dads at one and the same time.   It occurred to me that it is possible that I may have too many rocks in my house.   Now I realize that there are probably some people out there who would opine that I have too many rocks in my head, but I am not cleaning my brain right now.   Just the hall, living room, and kitchen/family/dining rooms right now.   I have not touched a single closet but I have been cleaning the kitchen cabinets because the little mice crawled all around them looking for food and left their little calling cards all over in there.

I made bread this morning, and as I was doing it I thought that I probably ought to make a photo essay on how I make bread someday.   But not today.   It would be much better if I had a photographer that was making the essay.   I’m not sure how to photograph myself while kneading the dough.

We have been dedicated to the Slow Food movement around here for quite some time.   Maybe we are taking it a bit too far, I don’t know.   All I do know is that when I started to make bread this morning, the first thing I did was get out the Vitamix and the dry container, and then excavate the indian corn I grew last summer from the freezer and grind it into flour.   After that, I also ground wheat, barley, rice and oats.   The other two grains for my seven grain flour I buy already ground into flour.   Rye and buckwheat have not been available in whole grain form.

The bread is in the oven as we speak, and the house is smelling positively delicious.   Jesse told me he could hardly wait for the loaves to come out of the oven.

I even got around to cleaning my shell and fossil collection in the hall way.   So that part of the house is looking quite shiny and beautiful.   I was astonished to find how successful the spider that was living behind the container of shells was.   There were quite a few rather large insect carcasses behind there along with the dust bunnies.

The other day there were some spectacular clouds being whipped around by the high level winds.

The sun managed to peek through an opening in the roiling mass and illuminate the light rain that was off to the east of where I was walking Ruby.

My camera showed its limitations with this shot.   I could clearly see three bands of red in that rainbow, but you only get the hint of the third band in that picture.

There was a flock of cedar waxwings enjoying the windstorm.    They were flying across the open field in little forays.   In between legs of the journey they would rest in the oak trees and talk about the situation.

Another thing that occupied our attention recently was the big birthday party/blues jam out at Mike Hahns place.   This is a traditional party that has been happening for well over a decade.   Pretty much anybody who is a blues musician in the Lake of the Ozarks area comes to this amazing cabin out in the middle of the woods, and plays music.   The music starts about 4 p.m. and goes until no one wants to play any more, usually over around dawn the following day.   Some bands come and play a set and then go off to their regular Saturday night gig, some bands play their gigs and then pack up their stuff and come down to the party after the bars have closed, and some bands just don’t schedule a gig the night of this party and play all evening.    In addition to the potluck of food inside, there is a huge bonfire outside.   You can clearly hear the music there as the whole entire house acts like a sound box for the bands inside.

The music was fantastic.

We took a pan of baklava and a batch of flourless chocolate cake cupcakes.   There were none left to bring home, thank heavens.   I experieneced a personal miracle in that I ate plenty of goodies at that party and did not have to go through the agony of seeing my weight go up as a result.   It probably helped that I was the designated driver for the group, so I was not able to add calories to my intake through beer and wine.

Well, that’s about it for now.   We are in the throes of preparing thanksgiving dinner.  So far the frozen nougat terrine is ready.   Once the chocolate and raspberry sauces are finished, dessert will be ready.   We may have mentioned this dessert before on The Havens.   If we haven’t, well, here’s a little reminder.

Try not to drool on your keyboard.

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Photohunt: Juicy

The hunt today is on the theme “Juicy.”

I thought about this theme all week.  I expect we will be seeing lots of fruit, especially luscious ripe fruit.   I’m inclined to join in on that.   We produce juicy grapes every year now, in our vineyard.

We put them through our stemmer/crusher, and they prove their juiciness.

Here you can see them in all their glory, in the fermenting container, right before we pitched the yeast and began the fermentation process.

They make a fabulous jelly, too.

But there is another connotation of “juicyness” that attracts me for this theme.  The second definition in Webster for “juicy” is “Interesting, racy, or titillating.”   I aspire to being a juicy older woman, and I have lots of friends who fit that bill.   They are interesting, they are involved in relationships where they titillate their partner and are titillated by them, they are not above a certain raciness.   I’d like to think that I also fit that description.   And so, a selection of my juicy friends.

We’re all well over fifty.   And we are juicy — men too!

Have fun visiting other photohunters.

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Once again Garden Bloggers Bloom Day has rolled around.   Hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, this is the day when gardeners from all over the world share with each other what happens to be in bloom in their gardens.

While things have slowed down considerably, there is still quite a bit going on at The Havens.  There are little spots that are sheltered, there are very hardy bloomers still hanging on in spite of three mornings in a row with frost on the ground and a hard freeze a couple of weeks ago.

The sheltered include one lone optimistic Purple Hyacinth Bean. . .

. . . a couple of clematis . . .

. . . the salad greens in the cold frames and the swiss chard.

The hardy optimists are the bed of garlic . . .

. . . the Knockout Rose, which truly is on its last legs. . .

. . . several different dianthus . . .

. . . Mexican hat . . .

. . . the one chrysanthemum that I have not managed to kill . . .

. . . some pink yarrow . . .

. . . and the last of the fall blooming crocuses.

There are a couple of black eyed susans still persevering, hugging the warmth of the ground, and the miniature rose in front is also still pretending that it is rose season.

But by and large, the bloom season seems to be done for this year.   Right now we are harvesting the leaves from The Havens, the rental property that The Havens owns and the neighbors across the street who never do anything to their lawn but mow it.

Soon it will be truly winter, and I imagine at that time I will discover that I need new long winter underwear, just like I discovered that I need new outer wear earlier this year.   I hate shopping.

The winter birds are here.   We have a full complement of titmice and chickadees, a large flock of juncos, lots of carolina wrens, sparrows and finches, a group of cardinals, blue jays, red winged black birds, downy wood peckers, rose bellied wood peckers and hairy wood peckers.  There are still robins hanging around.  The other night an owl had a young dove for dinner.  I also was pleased to note a nuthatch hunting on the elms yesterday.   The yard sounds very busy when you walk around it.

Well, I must go off to walk Miss Ruby.   Stop around to visit some of the other participants in GBBD here.

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Only a few days ago I was wondering if the season would ever commit to being autumn, and suddenly, with the arrival of a cold front from the north, the whole feel of the weather has changed.

In that picture you can actually see the edge of the cold front as it passes over head.   Shortly after that picture was taken, it began sprinkling, and badly needed rain came all morning.

When I arose at 4:30, it was dark and cool.   I sent Jim off to work and sat down at the computer with a cup of coffee.   There I discovered a very wonderful email which I spent some quality time answering.   After I sent it off, I went outside to see what was up and discovered a beautiful sunrise going on.

I turned from East to West and discovered this:

I took it as a very positive omen, and not just about the weather.  “Ah,” I said to myself.   “It appears that the weather guessers are correct.   There is rain out there this morning.   Wonder if it will get here before it dries up?”   As it turned out, it did make it here, followed shortly by a chill blast of air from somewhere up in Canada.

The garlic doesn’t care.   We actually have achieved 100% germination and growth from the cloves we planted, which I find to be quite impressive.

As I walked out there, I enjoyed the dawn light painting the trees behind the garden.  In the foreground you can see the new bonfire pile.  No sooner did we burn the last one than we started pruning and clearing up around the honey locusts.   We will probably burn this one in the next few days as the Pyromaniac Children are here.   But not to worry, there is plenty of wood available for the Solstice Bonfire next month.

I took Ruby off for her walk and admired the euonymous at the edge of the woods.   What a flaming color it has!   I need to plant some of that in the new landscape out front.

I walked up closer to the shrub to get a better shot of the leaves.

As I did so, a pair of juvenile cardinals flew out of it, one male and one female.   Now, I took three shots of the bush from the original spot I was standing, and never saw those birds in that bush even though they must have been there the whole time.   I even spent a certain amount of time at the computer with the zoom in function, trying to spot them in the photographs.  No luck.   Definitely a testament to their excellent camouflage, which seems odd since the male is a bright red bird.

Something else that is camouflaged during the summer is all the homes the birds construct.   Autumn can be a sort of “down” time for me, like for a lot of people.   But I rejoice in the stripping of the trees, as I know they need to rest from their summer’s labors.   The bare branches reveal secrets hidden previously.

That dark blob up there?   It is a robin’s nest.

This is where a cardinal raised its babies, perhaps the two I scared up out of that euonymus.

On a more personal note, I have learned that sometimes it is a good thing to reveal just exactly how you feel.   I almost didn’t post my “Help” post, I thought it was possibly too negative and whiny.  But I received emails, phone calls, and comments — all so loving and supportive.   My son and my husband and my niece have been pouring positivity at me.  A dear friend has decided she must come visit me and is arriving a week from Monday.   Another person decided to “unlurk” and initiate an internet acquaintance which shows promise of growing to something beautiful and deep.

So to all of you, I thank you so much for helping me realize that I am not shouting into a vacant, uninhabited void; that I am cared for and supported and valued.   It has helped me more than you may imagine.

So, off I go into the gusty cold morning to walk the dog and see what there is to see.   Perhaps the red tail hawks will be out again today, as they were yesterday.   Maybe there will be deer.

I know there will be beauty.


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