Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The last day of June

It seems hard to believe that just a short while ago everything was covered in snow.

It was cold here this spring and the chilly weather continues, so the roses are blooming late this year.

That's ok with me, it was a pleasant surprise to come across this Peace rose, hiding amongst the weeds. I thought it had not survived the winter of 2015! 

Of course Burt is a big help in the garden and is always ready to lend a hand with the weeding.

He spends a fair amount of time looking after the tomatoes,

pinching back the basil,

and making sure everything is well watered.

There's not much blooming among the perennial flowers right now, except for the Asiatic Lilies.

Of course those yellow ones are about to open.

They came back in a big way this year and brought along some friends!

But that's ok because Burt has a plan!

So how are your summer plans shaping up?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fuzzy Photography

This is a collection of the latest pinhole cameras being put to use in our household, they're made out of tape, rubber bands and the boxes from cereal and expensive gifts. Nick makes these cameras and uses them religiously. Every once in awhile I put away the digital equipment and pick up one of the pinhole cameras (he's been so nice to make for me) and try to portray the world a little bit differently.

So what do pinhole cameras have to do with anything? Well, our son Andy was going through our ancient collection of albums because apparently it's cool to listen to vinyl again. Naturally Burt had to 
get in on the action, if only to add comic relief. Guess he's a closet Dead Head! Now we know.

The hunt through the vinyl set off a discussion on the pros and cons of digital music recordings, which eventually extended into photography. So the conclusion I came to is that pinhole cameras are sort of the vinyl of photography. Yes, it's a big stretch and I don't really think it's a good analogy but it did get me thinking about photos we all had taken without resorting to the digital realm.  

The fact that most pinhole cameras are made from leftover stuff from around the house has always been amusing to me. They're green, too. So why stop at cardboard, since there is no lens involved it can be made out of just about anything, even Burt's head! Or maybe not, so onto some actual photos.

This is a photo I've taken dozens of times with a digital camera but last spring I gave it a try with a pinhole camera. Sometimes it produces a soft, almost dreamlike image. Many years ago, when Nick was teaching photography at Knox College, an artist named Ruth Thorne Thompson graciously agreed to come and hold a workshop on making and using pinhole cameras. She was a wonderful teacher and it was great fun learning how to take photos through a hole in a cardboard box! Naturally, once she was out the door, the magic wore off but the inspiration she gave us that day still remains.

Nick never lost the bug and has continued to make and use pinhole cameras ever since that workshop. In 2001 he joined in with some other like minded photographers who had instituted a Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. This year it took place on April 26 with 3,450 people from 69 countries joining in. This is his photo of the tree we used to picnic under when we were in college.

This was the photo taken by Andy with his pinhole camera for WPPD 2014. He put the camera on the dashboard and opened up the sun roof while driving through suburban Boston that night. 

In 2012 this was the first photo I took with my Chanel box camera. Most of the time I have no idea what I'm taking a picture of. Nick says that's the fun part of lensless photography. Okay. 

The photo I submitted to WPPD this year was of the Magnolia tree in out front yard.
To be honest, it was the only one that turned out.

Needing all the help I can get to take pinhole photos, this app on my phone has been handy. It gives the exposure time or how long the shutter has to be open in order to get an image on the film. I accidentally captured the screen and recently found it in my camera roll. Isn't technology amazing?

This is the pinhole image I got.

As long as I had my phone out it seemed like a good time take a quick photo just in case the pinhole one was so blurry I couldn't tell what it was. After seeing them both together it kind of reminds me of what things look like when I put on my glasses first thing in the morning. Bit of a shock sometimes.

Of course there's always something to be shocked about, no matter how soft and fuzzy it looks.
Burt is really good at holding still during long exposures!

Thanks for coming along on the pinhole photography journey.

Do you remember listening to vinyl?
Did you ever make pinhole cameras at camp?

So glad you stopped by. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Summer Solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Nick and Burt decided to roll out the telescope to see if they could determine the exact time of the solstice by the location of the sun. With the tilt of the earth being 23.5 degrees and our latitude being about 44 degrees, the altitude of the sun should be the sum of those two. Or we could google it. 

A word of caution. I have been sternly informed that if I used this photo I needed to warn everyone that no one should ever under any circumstances look directly at the sun, even while wearing sunglasses or goggles. Also never look through your telescope at the sun unless it has a sun filter fitted on it. I'd say, don't try this at home, but obviously that would be hypocritical, so just be safe. 

We are celebrating the beginning of summer with heat, humidity and lots of bugs!
Looks like Burt and Nick finished replacing the screens just in time.

This one looks like a miniature flying shrimp, hope it doesn't bite.

The dragonflies are back! They eat lots of the really annoying bugs. I chased this one around the backyard hoping it would land somewhere pretty but it was determined to keep returning to this pile of potting soil! I suppose it was good camouflage? Hope it ate that flying shrimp thing.

The pink flamingoes have also returned for the summer. I have no idea what Burt feeds them.

In honor of the solstice Burt has decided to channel his inner Green Man, or is it the Oak King?
More likely the Privet Skelly, at least the flowers smell nice.

Mother Nature has decided that it is now officially purple and yellow flower season. I think I complained enough about yellow flowers in my last post, but I do like the purple ones. 

On the bright side, butterflies are said to prefer flowers in yellow and purple.

Finally, the strawberries have arrived, now we're really all set for summer!

Hope you're having a Happy Summer Solstice Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Repair, Replace, Repeat

One of the wonderful things about gardens is that there is always something about to burst open.

Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to other things. The problem is that nothing lasts forever . . . 

. . . especially screens.

Their frames don't last long either so Nick and Burt have been replacing the screens and rebuilding the frames that are the walls of our lanai. (I just can't get used to that term, it sounds way too exotic for a slab of cement with a roof over it!) Regardless of what it's called, they're almost finished and in spite of an obvious disregard for power tool safety, all of their fingers and toes are still attached!

Over the past seven years we have hosted a parade of contractors hoping one of them would be able to restore the1950's lanai attached to the back of our house. They usually said it was too far gone and should be torn down and replaced with a new, vinyl prefabricated one they could install in just a single day! Of course we would need to cut down a couple trees and replace part of the driveway but they could recommend someone who could handle all that, too. What? That's not what we were asking for, not even close! Well, eventually we came to the realization that if we wanted it restored we would have to do it ourselves. So we got to work, made more than a few mistakes and now it's nearly completed. Burt, as always, has remained cheerfully optimistic throughout the entire project. 

Meanwhile, drunk with DIY success, I found another project. These wicker chairs from Target spent one too many winters outside. Everyone always avoided them because they were uncomfortable and left a waffle pattern on your thighs if you were wearing shorts. So before chucking them in the landfill I decided to see if they could be reworked into something we would actually want to sit on.

Then there was this unattractive piece of trash patio furniture, also another possible candidate for a makeover. Are these pieces worth fixing? I'm not so sure, but Burt thought they had good bones.

After a few cans of spray paint, some fabric and a new umbrella we have another spot to enjoy ourselves at the end of the day. After all, you can never have too many places to relax in a garden!

Plus, having a moveable table means sometimes we can dine among the peonies,

or have a conversation by the hedge.

We can answer emails among the fragrance of old roses,

or just forget about work and down a few cold ones!

Where's your favorite spot for relaxing?

Hope you all are having a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Late Spring

Burt is taking a break from helping Nick repair our screens (before the onslaught of the mosquitos) to assist me with some garden chores. All that driveway cement needs some beautification and between the painting and repairs to the house the poor garden has been left to fend for itself. Time to catch up.

I have to admit that I am a lazy, careless gardener. Nick trims the hedge, bunnies prune our shrubs, the flowers reseed themselves and the birds drop off whatever they've picked up around town. Even the oak trees in our backyard were planted by the squirrels, and the results were excellent.

Worse yet, I never have a plan other than planting the tallest flowers in the back. This is a
concept my wildlife assistants can't quite grasp, consequently the hollyhocks end up in the front.

There is a rule I sort of follow, to avoid planting anything that produces yellow flowers. It's been my experience that if a plant survives for awhile in my garden, one year it will eventually put out yellow blossoms instead of whatever color it was originally. Loud, caution sign, school bus yellow flowers!

Not that there is anything wrong with yellow flowers, it's just that given half a chance they will take over completely. Happily, it's late spring, not time yet for those summer flowers that seem more prone to becoming an autumnal-looking golden yellow. Guess I could get in there and do some weeding. 

Peonies generally stay the color they are supposed to be, as listed on their nursery containers, but is that some pale yellow sneaking into the center of this bloom? Maybe it's a trick of the light.  

Looks like this iris could be harboring that yellow gene, too. Sneaky plants.

Burt has his work cut out for him, looks like the lawn needs mowing, too.

A pre-Polar Vortex photo of the same spot. I did replant the roses and clematis on the
arbor last summer, guess it's going to take a lot longer than I imagined for them to grow back!

Hey Burt, this is an ornamental pond not a hot tub! I can't blame him for finding a way to
cool off after a long day of digging in the dirt. Typical Burt, always smiling, enjoying life
however it comes, with a beer in his hand. Not a bad idea, I may have to join him!


Ok now, does anyone else see that hint of yellow at the top?

Thanks for dropping in!

So how does your garden grow?