August 11, 2012

Okay, I don't know how I did it, but I somehow managed to remove all the pictures from my blog. I am really rather upset about this because it served as kind of a pictoral journal. I know my postings were often months apart, but I still enjoyed looking back at the events and thoughts saved with these pictures. I did find my title picture and the "old" picture of me, and, also, attempted to replace the missing pictures from my most recent blogs. This was proving to be a very time consuming undertaking, and so I probably will just move forward instead of trying to replace all the lost pictures.  If anyone knows an easier way to do this, please let me know.

March 4, 2012

Orchid Show

Carl (Artistic Balance) took me to the New York Botanical Gardens Orchid Show. What a treat. I had no idea there are so many varieties and colors of orchids. An example of this is when a fellow attendee exclaimed, "Look at the big, beautiful pansies!" Closer observation revealed that they were actually Pansy Orchids. Thanks, Carl, for a wonderful day.
Of course Carl is the photographer, but I happily enjoyed just point and shot with my tiny Canon after my Fuji failed me.
It is very difficult to say which orchid was my favorite, but this one hit my eye.

Orchids Again

Flush with my new found success as an orchid grower, I find that the orchids look especially enticing this year showing an abundance of colors and sizes. I have succumbed to their allure and added another to my collection. Wish me luck.

February 6, 2012


I have always found orchids to be fascinating and beautiful, and every year during the long drab months of winter they call to me. Since they are a bit expensive, I have indulged in their purchase sparingly. The first couple of years I managed to kill them a few months after they bloomed. I have limited display areas in my house and either they get too much sun or not enough sun, or too much water or not enough water. In 2010 I purchased one large and two small orchids. They bloomed nicely that year and I managed to keep them alive into 2011. When more than a year had passed I assumed they would not bloom again and put them out in a sheltered place on the deck late summer. I have a hard time discarding plants that are living although unattractive, and so I brought them in when the weather turned cold. To my surprise in November they started to produce flower stalks and started blooming in December and the large one is still blooming.
I am now an orchid grower.

October 30, 2011

Snow in October

I have been trying to avoid weather blogs, but sometimes Mother Nature will not allow me to ignore her. I expected a wet, fast disappearing snow fall. Instead we got this whopper of a snow storm that buried us as well as any February offering. Now as I watch outside the snow is falling off the trees and the sun is shining brightly.
The mound in the middle is a fifteen foot pear tree. I hope it comes back.

I was just not ready for this.

October 27, 2011

Photoshop Art

I find creating a scene with a photoshop type program is much like painting a picture. While I have by no means mastered all its facets, it is still fun to create on the computer what I could not with just the camera. My latest panorama will illustrate the point. Due to poor near eyesight, shaky hands, somewhat less than ideal natural lighting, etc., I was unable to capture the panoramic view of the Moodna Trestle that I was after. So first I choose these two photos and adjusted them so that the approximate angle of the trestle corresponded.

I let photoshop magically merge the two photos into one panorama and adjusted the color somewhat.
I thought the dead tree limbs, etc. detracted from the composition and the sky needed more color. So I eliminated, changed and beefed up aspects of the scene until it looked right to me. I would have preferred a more interesting autumn sky, but have not yet mastered changing that.Voila! Here is my panorama of the Moodna Trestle. One thing to remember my picture will not stand up to close scrutiny when enlarged, unlike the art of a fine photographer which is not a manipulation. Perhaps someday I will master the art of composition, exposure and the myriad of other skills that go into creating a fine photograph, but for now I will create with photoshop.

October 23, 2011

Another Visit to Stonybrook

Carl and I visited Stonybrook in Harriman State Park again this morning. In the short time since we were last there the trees had lost more of their leaves, the stream was running even more and had overtaken its banks in more places,and there seemed to be more trees and branches down and in the way. In general it was difficult to get pictures without extraneous trees and branches. That being said it was great to be out hiking and photographing with my son. These treks have inspired me to get in better condition for walking and climbing over rocks, and learning more about my camera and photoshop.

October 15, 2011

More Stonybrook Photos

I thought I would include a few more photos from last week at Stonybrook.

October 14, 2011

Relearning Photography

My son, Carl, is a fine photographer. His photographs are truly art and the ones that most fill me with awe are of our natural surroundings. Lately, he has been including me in his hikes to some of the locations I have admired, and patiently trying to teach me the mechanics that help produce good photographs. Armed with my Fuji which is nowhere as fine a camera as he uses, I have been trying to master settings, and then photoshop techniques.

We have been to Skylands, The Stone Church, Indian Falls, and last week we went to Stonybrook at Harriman State Park. I have discovered that to get some of the photos I so much admire involves climbing, balancing on rocks, and sometimes wet feet. I am not sure I am up to that yet, so my shots are from the safety of somewhat dry level ground. At Carl's urging, I am posting some of the product of our adventures.

August 19, 2009

My Summer Place

My favorite place in the summer is my backyard. It is my retreat to meditate in, my wildlife preserve for bird and animal watching, my creative outlet when I am designing new beds for planting, and my exercise gym when I actually do some work.

After retiring, I (with help) built my long wished for pond. I'm sure it would be bigger and better if money were no object and the pond people had built it, but it is mine. In the spring I watch the fish emerge from their winter rest and bring life to a plain rock pond. Then gradually the plants start to grow and add more interest to the pond. I fuss with their arrangement, tweak the waterfall, and marvel at how much the fish have grown. From my perch on the deck I envision new landscaping and when in the mood I actually start new planters and borders.

When it is cool enough to forgo air conditioning, we sleep to the sound of the waterfall. In the daytime, we enjoy the antics of the fish from the shade of the umbrella on the deck, and sit by the pond during the shady morning and evening times to feed the hungry hoard. My pond is far from perfect and sometimes I plan how to enlarge it or how to add a bigger waterfall, but for now it is the center of my favorite summer place.

July 26, 2009

I know I had written several blogs complaining about our winter weather, but then not much from me on this summer. That is because, contrary to most people in our area, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Seattle-like summer we have been having. It has extended my planting time well into July. The ground is usually rock-hard clay by now. The drawback of course, is the ever growing crop of weeds. I look in areas recently weeded and see those green things growing through the mulch, again! Now, I know you people with pools are not happy with the coolness of our days, but the mornings have been so cool I can sit by the pond or on the deck wearing a light jacket, then by mid-afternoon the sun's warmth takes over for a little baking between rain showers. If I knew a place with the weather like this year round, it would definitely be on my list of places I'd like to live. The weather appears to be changing to a more normal pattern of warmer, humid days and some thunderstorms, but I have definitely enjoyed our extended spring.

May 12, 2009

Watercolor #2 Revised

Every time I pick up my brush I learn something new about how watercolors work. It is usually a positive experience, but sometimes an attempt at revision has an unexpected result and I need to work around the "mess" I made. On the whole I am totally enjoying this new-to-me medium.
Here, I darkened the water, ground color and shadows. I am leery of changing the sky color, as much as I'd like to, after some negative experiences putting washes over washes. I'm going to work on that on a practice sheet. If you are returnee or a beginner to making art, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.

April 10, 2009

Second Watercolor

In a marathon of creative activity I painted my picture. I was somewhat pleased with the results and set it aside to thoroughly dry. Then I scanned it into the computer to share it with you. I am quite used to editing my photos, tweaking the colors and cropping them to my liking, so looking at the painting on the computer screen was revealing. I thought the lighthouse and building were pretty good. There is a spot where the shadow should be darker on the lighthouse and another where the color of the roof should be darker, but over all it was okay. I don't know if placing the building on a lower level works for the viewer. It worked for me, but then I put it there on the "ground" below the lighthouse. The fence needs something, and I should have put it in further. I forgot about matting the picture. What I don't like most are the colors of the sky, the ground and the ocean. I would appreciate any suggestions that would improve this painting. or that I can apply to future paintings.

P.S.: I kind of like the seagulls.

April 7, 2009

Learning to Watercolor

After two weeks I had borrowed and bought 10 how to watercolor books, read half of four of them and scanned the others, but still I was hesitant to try again. I know deep down that you have to use the paints to learn to watercolor, but that didn't help. Along came my favorite water colorist (and photographer), Carl at Artistic Balance, offering inspiration and challenge to join him in painting a lighthouse. He offered a lighthouse photo presized including partition lines for drawing our own version. However, this is not a simple lighthouse. It is also a large building with shadows, angles and windows, but after taking a deep breath I decided it was offered as a personal inspiration and I needed to do this. He had said a painting should not be a copy of a photo, but more our creative interpretation of it. With that in mind, in my drawing I totally changed the position of the additional building to avoid some windows and lines as I tend to have shaky hands, and the white lighthouse alone looked a little strange. I am learning a lot as I attempt my second watercolor.
1. As a former (35 years ago) painter in oils, I have trouble adjusting to the fact that you don't paint white (usually). White is the paper showing through. In oils you wouldn't leave any canvas unpainted. It is difficult to totally remove mistakes that encroach on white, shaky lines especially, without leaving marks or moving the line in a little, then a little more (the incredibly shrinking window).
2. It is best not to draw in clouds. Should you have to change their position (see #1), it is difficult to remove the pencil lines from light blue sky. Also, if using light colors draw as lightly as possible and erase thoroughly unneeded lines. They will show.
3. You should probably mix a little more of a color than you think you will need. It is difficult to get the exact same color for the other side of the picture if you run out.
4. If you are right-handed and are wearing long puffy sleeves, you should paint the lower half of the picture from left to right, not right to left. I am sure the opposite is true for you lefties.
5. I have difficulty not trying to finish a painting in one sitting (I have the same problem when reading novels). Sometimes you have to let the paint dry before you can go on. It's a good thing I'm not painting in oils, now.
6. Finally, be careful not to spatter after dipping a brush in water. You will find yourself adding seagulls all over the place.
I'll keep you informed of my learning progress and share my second painting, maybe.

March 22, 2009


Okay! Here goes! This is my first watercolor. I found it is not as easy as it looks, but it was fun. I think I should have bought better brushes and paints. I have a lot to learn about how to apply the paint and blend the colors. I'll have to read up on it more.

March 19, 2009

First Crocus

I have hope.
Yesterday, the first crocus suddenly was there in full bloom. I wasn't expecting it yet, and I was distressed over the state of our yard after removing large trees damaged by the ice storm. Such a joyful moment of discovery. You know it is inevitable that spring will come, but when it appears unexpectedly it revives the spirit.

January 27, 2009

San Francisco

It wouldn't be a trip to SF without driving down steep hills like this,
or walking on the beach to check out the tide pools, the seals and the surfers.

This year the weather was beautifully warm, but the water was cold.

I had trouble returning home to the frigid temperatures and the snow.


This trip was for a very special occasion, our granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah.

MK was wonderful. She demonstrated how well she had learned Hebrew and the Torah with poise and confidence. We were all very proud of her.

The service was followed with a luncheon and a more formal party that evening for many adults, as well as, MK's friends.

December 21, 2008

More snow

Today we shoveled snow and cleaned off the car. I've had enough home time and I'm ready to go. This is the snowiest and coldest December in a while. Nature's icicles helped decorate the house.

December 19, 2008

First snow

Today we are having our first significant snow fall. We expect about a foot by tonight. It may put a damper on plans for early tomorrow, but for now we are enjoying our "snow day". Once having been a teacher, a snow day the Friday before Christmas still maintains the special magic of a gift of home time and possibilities. I hope all the area's loved ones will arrive safely home and enjoy the lights and warmth of home, too.

December 12, 2008

The night the trees fell

Last night we were under siege. The bombs gradually began hitting the roof around 11 PM and continued intermittently almost all night. Ice had formed too slick on the paths to walk around the house and assess what was going on. We only knew the trees were covered by thick ice and it continued to rain hard. Try as we might we could not pierce the darkness through the windows. When we opened the doors we made quick retreats from the ominous cracking sounds. Most of the bombardment of the house was from the large maple near the back corner of the house over our bedroom. After several terrifying hours we retreated to the sleep sofa in the living room, but it sounded like the trees on that side were moving in, also. So it continued until exhausted we fell asleep for an hour until the dawn exposed the battlefield.

The big tree by the house is still standing notwithstanding the loss of many branches and limbs. A section of our neighbors fence has been damaged. A large limb of my loved Magnolia has been ripped off and thrown against the front of the house. The small woods to the rear of the house seems to have many trees down, but I need to wait for the ice to melt to make that body count and see if they can untangle themselves from their grotesque shapes.

This has been a long night. I am thankful the house and it's occupants seem to have survived intact.

Ice storm addendum

The sun came out for brief moments after 10 AM and gave us glorious ice pictures .