Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What came first?

The Chipmonk or the Egg?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photoshopping Sand Hill Cranes

Down the road from where I live there are lots of corn fields and lots of Sand Hill Cranes. Clayton even sometimes calls me on his way to work to tell me where they are and how close to the road they are and how pretty their heads look. But I've never said, 'Really I better get my camera and drive over there and take some pictures" But this morning, on my way back from taking more pictures of baby cows (you can watch a slide show if you'd like here) I saw them in the field. I had already driven past and thought to myself, why not, go back and see if you can take a picture before they walk too much further away from the road. While I didn't have my 300 MM zoom lens with me, I was stuck with my 135MM and was not too happy with the results of my capture. So I decided to make my own image. I used three different pictures and cloned the edges together, I used the eye ball of the middle one, and copied it to the bird on the left and I enhanced the birds eye on the right as well. SO the moral of the story is...if you can't take the picture you wanted to take, then make one yourself in photoshop :-)

The image above is the one I created...
The image below is one of the three images I used to create it...

Currant Jelly - our first attempt at making jelly

I've never made jams or jelly's before and either has Clayton. Well Yesterday we did (well He did most of it) You should have seen him pick these berries. Our neighbors were nice enough to tell us we could stop by and pick all we wanted of their Red Currant berries. They don't like them and would have just gone to the we thought why not! Well we each had our buckets and I swear he picked two or three times as much as me and he didn't want to stop either. He said "When I was growing up and picking berries on my Grandma's farm, I was told never to come back without a full bucket of berries" and well I think that's stuck in his head.

So we got enough for one batch of jelly and had some extra which we saved for juice. Clayton had just bought this really neat apparatus which seeds and juices and dices and or chucks all sorts of stuff, I think it even does pasta sauce...and he was dying to use it. And this is how we used it....

Here are the berries we picked...

and here is Clayon having fun with his new apparatus (juicer, de-seeder etc.)

and see how it juices so easily

and spits out all the stems, seeds and leaves....

Here is the bowl of juice it made (this is not all of it there was more)

and this is the juice being cooked...just starting to boil...

and here are the first set of jars, it made more than it said...
hummmmm like 4 extra jars....

the recipe we followed said it would only make nine jars...well it made 12 (would have made 13 or 14) but we only bought twelve jars....
makes me worry...just a little....that we did something wrong...and it wont set correctly.
I'm really hoping not, because when we tasted this; OMG it was so good...
We have already decided that if it does not set properly we are using it as syrup for our mickey mouse waffles we have them all the time. Yes Clayton's first waffle maker is shaped as mickey mouses head...cute huh?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the american redstart .... another new bird

Ok, while this bird has been around here for some time, this is the first time I actually had my camera out and took a few pictures of it. Looking up on the Internet, I'd concluded that this bird is the American Redstart; "A boldly patterned warbler of second growth woods, the American Redstart frequently flashes its orange and black wings and tail to flush insect prey from foliage" which is what he did this afternoon while I was out and ready with camera in hand.

It's a Bugs Life

Ok, this picture really makes me want to get a macro lens! I literally could not see this bug till I zoomed into the picture I took. He's kinda cute dont'cha think? Just imagine how much more detail there would be if I had a really good Macro lens!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flowers in the yard...and First Berry Pick

This evening I took a walk in the yard and found a couple nice flowers and picked some berries; I ate them along the way, but this is what I brought home for dessert tonight. Maybe over some ice-cream........maybe.......they are pretty good by themselves.

The image above has been altered in photoshop. I used an overlay of another image for texture then turned the opacity way down so you could almost see through it, but then played with the hue and saturation till I liked it. I probably couldn't repeat it if I tried as I didn't save the PSD file...silly me! but the fun of playing in Photoshop is just that...playing till you see something you like.

The image below is the original, however it's cropped from the original full capture.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hasta's will be blooming soon

I've never had a Hasta before, never even heard of one, but here at the new house, I've got hundreds of them. It seems. Hundreds of stems with lots of budding flowers at least. Really though I might have close to 100 plants and they are all the same type. I've learned since coming here that there are a wide variety of Hasta all different colored foliage and I'd image different flowers too.

So they have all popped up stems and they all have budding blooms just waiting to open. This is a picture of one that is the furthest along. I'm wondering if my humming birds will come to these, as they look like they will be a flower they'd like.

I did a texture overlay on this image and tweaked the coloring and opacity a bit of the textured image (not the flower itself) and thought it turned out not too bad. Stay tuned for more as soon as they are opened fully I will take more.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cardinal Father feeding his baby....

This is the cutest thing ever...I have seen two babies so far, they were in different spots I think it would be incredible to have them all together for a family portrait, so I'll keep my eye out for them all. I haven't seen the mother today, she may be with other babies or just out of sight. At first I had thought this was the female, but then soon realized it was just a baby. They shake and quiver the little bodies when he come with some seed. They make a very distinctive little cry too, so I know when they are close by. This happened during our lunch today...I almost burnt my grilled cheese, had to postpone eating too, but worth get these...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mouse Trap

You want to laugh at something, try to visualize me setting a mouse trap! And it snapping and peanut butter flying all over, not just once, but over and over again, I for the life of me could not get the darn things to stay set. I even got my pinky finger caught; got a blood blister. Then I went down to the basement; I did this not because I’ve seen evidence of mice dropping but because I swore the other day I heard them scurrying in the ceiling while I was in the basement….so thought maybe it was mice. We will see. So I got up on a chair and slide the darn things up in the opening to where the finished basement ceiling is…and one of them snapped as I put it up and I jerked so much the other one went off in my other hand, yeah peanut butter went flying again. So then I set the one, the other one I couldn’t reach anymore and then freaked out at the thought of this large massive huge rat approaching the trap….Sparky had been outside, but then I realized it was Sparkys paw nails tapping on the floor above as he walked across the floor. I swear it was a rat; not a mouse from the sound of it. so who knows what I really heard if we don’t have mice, then I might have been birds…I’ll let you know if I catch one…I caught one!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Project Bochie Ball....More....Sunday

Our third day into the project, we managed to get the main top part of the frame done; level and somewhat almost perfectly square. To two Virgo's who have perfectionist tendencies, we decided to live with what we came out with...which really wasn't that far off...we did manage to get it perfectly level. Thanks to the 100 foot water level we used (that is the green hose looking thing in the middle of the court you will see in the pictures). At first when we realized that the level of the court was over 3 feet different from the front to the back I thought for sure the water level was lying, but hey water doesn't lie! Water levels to absolute level; no matter how level you think your ground is by sight don't trust what you see...use a water level first before starting any project that is going to require leveling....the water level tells the truth. Whether you want to see it or not.

Project Bochie Ball continues....

So Saturday we slowed down, way down. We had trouble, we had trumpet, we had frustration, we had a decision to keep going or to reconsider entirely. In the end we both decided to keep going. Even though we will more than likely need TWO more 20 TON Truck loads of decomposed granite delivered...that is 40 ton's more to shovel. OR if 1 ton equals 2,000 pounds then we have 80,000 more pounds of rock to move, before our court can be played on.

Saturday progressed very slowly; I for one was not feeling super energetic, still feeling a little beat from Friday shoveling the first pile of decomposed granite. Our planning skills were not to par, but we managed to overcome our lack of planning and just went with the flow and dealt with the frustrations of a bochie ball court that was not coming out square or even or straight. We sat and we thought, I sat and rested more...sat and thought what are we doing...why aren't these posts lining up, why didn't our holes we dug with the auger line up...why isn't this first section square..why...why...cry....why?

Creating an in line squared and level bochie ball court is not easy...but it is doable! Here are the pictures from Saturday....

ok, so we did rent an auger, but when Clayton returned it he bought a post hole digger;
we/he had to basically redig every hole...

The photo above is as far as we got by lunch time...

The photo below....late afternoon....

and by end of day....

Friday, July 3, 2009

shoveling 20 tons of crushed hand

Clayton got this idea about a bochic ball court in our front yard and hasn't stopped talking about it since we moved here. We will also put a gazebo up and maybe a deck around the back end. It will be so nice when it is finished...but how long will it take to be finished is the question....

First off, we really thought the outline of the court was not that off level. Well looks can be so deceiving! I mean real deceiving. This morning we brought out the water level and realized the back end was about 3 feet lower than the front end. We didn't expect that at all, we thought maybe a foot off, but not 3 feet. (maybe even more haven't measured) We had over 20 tons of decomposed granite delivered. In hindsight the truck driver should have poured directly into our court and moved up slowly as he poured...would have saved us so much work in moving it.

So it took us ALL day to move 18-19 tons of rock! Shovel by Shovel, Wheel Barrel by Wheel Barrel. (21.68 tons were delivered that is a full truck load)

The funny thing is; it really doesn't look like we did much work at all. When you see these pictures, it just doesn't seem like it would take ALL day to move from the spot it was dumped to the location in the court. Our goal was to get the court leveled today, well we pooped out before we got it all moved over and also decided we'll need to put up the retaining walls and court borders before we can finish leveling and packing the rock inside the court. That happens tomorrow....

The outline of the court; now doesn't this look pretty level?
You can barely see it in the photo but it's outlined in yellow string...

This was a huge looking truck;
that little pile sure doens't like like 21.68 Tons of Rock does it?

The Pile; looked so small at first,
but then by the end of the day seemed to be never ending...

I'm just so happy it's shaddy in this location

look how far down our pile went, but look how little it seems there is in the court

At times however we really did feel like we were making a dent

but by the end of the day...sure didn't seem like much