Saturday, November 10, 2007

Double Yoga

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I can't get Mensa Boy to do yoga, but I can get him to interfere with mine. I wasn't actually doing my routine this time. I was playing with the camera to get my 365 shot for today when he snuck up behind me. Cute, isn't he?

It was a pleasant Saturday all around. Jazzercise, a little light landscaping work (for me, anyway. MB caught the brunt of it...moving the old, used pine needles around the house to the trees for the winter), a nice nap while listening to "The Sound of Music." Tonight I think I'll watch the movie "Stripes." It's been a while, and buddy Sarah keeps saying "lighten up Frances" to me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Adding a Garden, Reducing a Little Noise

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Befuddling title, isn't it?

Yesterday I planted the garden. The entire thing. If the soil (pronounced "soul" here in the south) hadn't been so well-prepared and easy to work, it would have taken me 4 weeks instead of 4 hours. I'm not kidding. Each and every hole would have taken at least an hour to dig before. With all the red clay, fill dirt, rocks and roots, it usually takes quite a long time to gouge out a hole. And then the plants and bushes just couldn't seem to gain purchase.

But even though it was easy, I do still feel a bit like I was hit by a truck.

I shot several photos of the work yesterday, but not really any keepers...just a few. Here is one I took for my daily self-portrait. The original had a lot of digital noise, and I posted it that way. Noise, for those of you non-photogs, is what makes the photos look grainy and old newsprint. I've struggled with the grainy shots this camera seems to produce all the time. I haven't stressed about it too much for the newspaper shots because, after all, they are going to be printed on newsprint, but it's still worrisome and reduces my enjoyment of photography as a hobby.

A couple of online buddies have mentioned noise reduction software and so finally I took a few minutes to look into that further. On a user group for Canon PowerShot users I found reference to a free noise reduction software from a place called Imagenomic. It has done WONDERS for the photos I've tried. Here is the original photo:
Cool, huh?

And so now I go to the school to shoot an interactive play, armed with the hope that I might have enough photoshop skills and noise reduction techniques to produce useable stuff.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Work for the Freeze is Coming!

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Can you guess which foot is mine? heh heh

What a day yesterday! I hit several grocery stores looking for items for my food story and then came home to start strategizing for the photos. Neighbor Mary laid out my garden for me, using the print-outs from the plant suppliers (there are photos on them), to get a feel for where everything should go. Today I will stick everything into the ground. I'm looking forward to that. I'm anxious to get them in there and rooting so that the cold weather won't bother them so much. It got to 31 last night and will again tonight.

One of my tiny little points of satisfaction is the fact that Mary said several times that my garden plot is excellent. Steve did a wonderful job preparing the spot, working in soil conditioner and sculpting the hillside down. He also raised up two sprinkler heads a little. She says my garden could end up being better than hers! I doubt that very much, but it did make me feel like spending the money to have Steve do all this will be very much worth it.

Last night I went to the school to do a quick photo shoot and my camera wouldn't turn on! I nearly had a meltdown on that one. Fortunately the teacher had a Kodak EasyShare in her desk, so I put my memory card in there, shot my photos, took the card back and was done for the night. This photo took place when we were fiddling with the controls.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tearing things up

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This isn't much of a photo, but it was the only one I managed to shoot yesterday, what with the whole car episode. Friend Steve is plowing up the hillside for the new garden. Today he will work in soil conditioning mulch. Then we will decide if he should go ahead and bring the top mulch or wait until we get the little plants in. Tonight we are expecting a freeze, so I imagine we'll go ahead and put on the top mulch, just to help insulate. After tonight's freeze it's supposed to be a little balmier for a few days. So I think I'll bring the plants back inside the house for the night and maybe we'll plant them tomorrow. I'm anxious to get them into the ground and learn what I need to do to try to keep them alive over the winter.
Here is the list of plants I have:

Transplanting what I already have:

Rosemary-it's been living in my herb pot

Hibiscus-my brother & sister gave us this for our anniversary last May

Three Azaleas

Butterfly Bush

Three Rose bushes

New stuff:

Penstemon Red
Mini Hollyhock
Geraniums-this is what some of my friends from church are saying will not survive the winter. Apparently these are "hardy perennials."
Asclepias Gay Butterfly Mix
Giant Chinese Lantern

Now, a lot of these names are pretty meaningless. When I have a little time, I'll link the names to the photos on the gardening sites where I ordered them.

Today, though, it's all Christmas. I need to get some shopping done for my Christmas gift story.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Me in the Patrolman's Eyes

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I know this rookie thought he'd really stumbled on to a nut job this morning when I asked if I could shoot my reflection in his sunglasses. He was pretty good-natured. In fact, considering how menopausal I am, I thought I was pretty good-natured about the fact that my neighbor backed into my beloved Dodge Caravan this morning, completely crunching the driver's side sliding door.
I was minding my own business, talking to the contractor that is doing some work in my back garden, when suddenly he exclaimed, "Oh. She just hit your car."
I looked up to see my poor neighbor pulling back into her driveway. We NEVER park our cars on the street, but I had made room for the contractor to pull his truck and trailer in.
So. She had gotten into her car with her three little boys and backed out without looking.
When this nice highway patrolman came, his patent leather shoes caught my eye. Trying not to stare down at them so as to appear like I had a shoe fetish, I glanced a few times, hesitated, and then said, "I'd really like to take a photo of my reflection in your shoes."
Taken aback but ever-friendly, he said. "Uh. Okay. But I doubt it would turn out very well. They are pretty dusty."
I explained the 365 project to him and while I was doing that I noticed how clean and unscratched his glasses were. Perfect reflections. So I asked if I could shoot that instead. After he agreed, I went into the house to get the camera.
The S3 really did not want to focus on the reflection. It really wanted to capture the lenses. I shot off about 6 in manual, program, and finally auto mode. Still felt sure I wouldn't get one.
But as we were saying goodbye, I quick whipped my camera up and just clicked the shutter. He chuckled and left.
I loaded the shots into Elements, lightened the shadows, and THERE WE WERE!
And that's all she wrote. Except that I am lamenting the fact that I could have really gotten a good one if I'd had the ability to focus manually. There is manual focus on the camera, but it's clunky and limited. I'm going to try to stop throwing off on this camera though. I need to just move on.

The new garden

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
My neighbor Mary, to the south of me, is helping me with my backyard garden. She's out of town now, but is scheduled to arrive home tomorrow sometime. In the meantime, the plants we ordered online have arrived and I have begun preparing the bed.

She has been nagging me for years to "curve out" the straight lines I have. So I've laid out the edging bricks with a couple of gentle, long curves. Mensa Boy grubbed out some azaleas, roses, and a butterfly bush I wanted to keep. I raked all the pine needles out and piled them up on the edge of the woods. Then I bought eight 50-foot soaker hoses and laid them out. I left them on from 2 p.m. yesterday until this morning in an attempt to soften the ground for tilling.

This morning my friend Steve is bringing his garden tractor and he'll try to gouge everything up and work it all loose. I think we're going to rake the needles back and work those in again. Then we'll add garden soil/mulch and work that in.

I'm just hoping the little plants all survive. It's been in the high 30's overnight. I've been bringing them in each night and putting them out in the morning. They weren't supposed to arrive until now, but I've had some for more than 10 days. We delayed ordering them as long as we dared, hoping for rain. At any rate, I have about $200 worth of plants to put in this week and they are so small and tender that I know I'm going to worry about them. I'll cover them at night as much as I can, for as long as I can. It will be good practice for teaching myself to think about the garden. Then next year, I'm hoping I'll be thinking about it enough to be mindful enough to keep it watered, fed, and cleaned out.

Here's a funny photo I took with my "human remote," Nate: