Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't Try This at Home

This is NOT how you build a woodpile! Do not, under any circumstances try this at your house! My grandfather, at the farm in Connecticut knew how to stack wood, certainly, and I hate to think of what he would think seeing what his grandson has done. Yikes. There are some skills in life that at first glance seem simple, but in fact are quite complex and require a great deal of skill. Building a stone wall, for instance is not simple at all - it requires great skill, if the wall is to last. A woodpile is not as complex, but it does require skill. Our neighbor had an old dogwood tree that was felled by the hurricane. So I went over with my chainsaw, and cut it up into pieces, and then started stacking it - but without thinking. This is the mess that resulted. I should have planned better.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


So this photograph was taken the day before the single leaf photo. I was grinding my way up this mile-long hill the next town over, on my bike ride, and suddenly was dazzled by this blast of color in the light of the setting sun. I couldn't believe that with hardly a leaf on my street, these trees seemed fully leafed out. I am guessing it is a "microclimate." According to Wikipedia: "A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet (for example a garden bed) or as large as many square miles." So I am guessing that's why this street has leaves, and mine doesn't.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Last Leaf

This one is definitely a keeper, isn't it? I went out looking for a picture to go with the Robert Frost poem yesterday. I started with my favorite Japanese Maple tree just beyond the front porch. There were dark gray limbs wet from the rain, and little drops of water acting as lenses added bright accents to the scene. So I spent some time looking for compositions that were dark and gray. And then I came around to this limb, and nearly dropped my camera! I couldn't believe my luck - this one brilliant yellow leaf, all by itself against the dark tree limb. Wow! What a thrill! It's really magical, isn't it? Please be sure to click on it to see a larger version.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"My November Guest"

It was cold and rainy today, and when I went outdoors this morning and felt the cold and saw the gray sky, the first thing I thought of was Robert Frost's Poem, "My November Guest."

 My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
 Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
 Are beautiful as days can be;
 She loves the bare, the withered tree;

 She walks the sodden pasture lane.
 Her pleasure will not let me stay.
 She talks and I am fain to list:
 She’s glad the birds are gone away,

 She’s glad her simple worsted gray
 Is silver now with clinging mist.
 The desolate, deserted trees,
 The faded earth, the heavy sky,

 The beauties she so truly sees,
 She thinks I have no eye for these,
 And vexes me for reason why.
 Not yesterday I learned to know

 The love of bare November days
 Before the coming of the snow,
 But it were vain to tell her so,
 And they are better for her praise.

Monday, November 26, 2012

When I Was a Kid...

When I was a kid there were always pine cones around. A number of large trees were lined up along the road behind our house, and we walked by them on the way to school. My sisters and I always picked them up, and brought them home. Funny thing is, I can't remember what we did with them. Our mom used some of them for Christmas decorations, if I remember correctly. Anyhow, when we were at Pat & Bethany's up in Massachusetts I walked under the trees in the back yard, and there were pine needles all over the ground, and these beautiful pine cones. I love the scent of them, of course, but I love how magnificently they are constructed. They are such beautiful objects.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do Over...

So I kept thinking about the choice I made of the photo of Karen's garden bench. When I chose the first version of the scene, I was thinking about the object itself - the bench. But the more I thought about it, I realized that perhaps the more interesting photograph was the bench as seen in its surroundings. I think this photograph is more interesting because you can get a better sense of where the bench is. The boulders in the background add more interest, AND the light is more interesting as well. I should tell you that I photographed this scene first when there were patches of sunlight on the scene. I shot both close and wide. Then I waited an hour or so, and photographed the scene again, in softer light, both close and wide. So I think this is the best photo. Many times I will photograph a scene like this, over a period of time, and I am always trying different compositions. So help me out here - is this the better photograph?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Red All Over

I found this scene near the top of the hill, as I was just starting out on my bike ride, late in the afternoon. It was so amazing to see, that I screeched my bike to a halt to photograph it! I couldn't quite believe the scene - there is one Japanese Maple tree, and its leaves are covering everything. There is red everywhere! It took some experimenting to come up with the best composition - I think this is it. It was such an unusual sight that I still can't quite believe it. Please click on the image, so you can see it larger, and without the right side cropped off.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Bench in Karen's Garden

We had one Thanksgiving dinner at Pat and Bethany's in Massachusetts on Wednesday, and then we traveled to Connecticut to have a second Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with my sisters. So I looked out of the kitchen window at my sister Karen's garden, and saw this lovely bench. It is a beautiful bench by itself, but it was the lichten all over it that grabbed me. What beautiful, subtle colors, with the blue skylight of late afternoon. And a small splash of fading sunlight on the rocks behind the bench.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Regarded With Suspicion

This is young Miss Finley, Pat & Bethany's daughter. Wow, is she a charmer, cute as a button. She loves everyone, but... For some reason, she regards me with great suspicion. I am not one to give up easily, so for the two days we were there I gently worked at breaking through and getting her to feel comfortable around me. I made some headway, and by the time we left this morning she would smile at me, and she would come just a bit closer, but that was it. Maybe if I had a couple of more days, I would have been able to pick her up and hold her. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Roping the Turkey

Pat and Vince and I were in the back yard talking about "men" things, and the subject of calf roping came up. Huh? It's a long story, but it turns out that both Pat and I do have real cowboy lariats. So we decided to turn the turkey loose, and see who could lasso it. I kept missing, but Pat got it on his second try, so we were good for our Wednesday Thanksgiving dinner. (We didn't really do that, but it makes for a good story.) I just love this shot of Pat enjoying doing silly things in the back yard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Stone Wall for my Sister

I am not sure if you have seen my sister Betsey's comment on my photo of the stone wall with snow and plants growing on it from last Thursday. She said that the stone wall image was her new favorite picture. When I saw that comment, I thought of the New England stone wall at my nephew Patrick's home in Attleboro, Mass, where we are now. I thought "I can't wait to get there and take THIS photograph for my sister!" So here it is. It is a beautiful stone wall, and the lichen adds such richness to the overall look of the photograph. Maybe she will like this one better. Please click on it to see it in more detail.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Impressionistic Traffic

We are on the way to Massachusetts for a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and then back to Connecticut for Thanksgiving day. So we started by driving from home to Joan's home in Milford. I thought we were leaving early enough at 3 PM, but I guessed wrong. The 90 minute trip took 2 hours and 15 minutes! I was doing the "forbidden thing" again, of course, shooting pictures while driving in traffic. Thus the blurry image. So I am calling it "impressionistic" as an excuse.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The New Towers

The huge power plant on the harbor, about a mile away, has been shut down, and will be demolished in the near future. About 6 months ago, they started digging two giant holes in the parking lot across the street from the plant. Then they put some giant rings joined by reinforcing steel in the holes, and poured concrete around them. I wondered what it was all for. Then one day a huge crane showed up, and started installing tapered sections of galvanized steel tower. They kept adding and adding sections, until each of the towers was well over one hundred feet tall. Apparently they needed the towers that tall, because the transmission lines connected to them were strung for a long distance over the harbor to identical towers on the other side. I rode by these one afternoon, and the setting sun lit them with orange light, and they became a lot more interesting to photograph.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

From My Pillow

When I woke this morning, this is the first thing I saw. I am not sure what made the light different, but I had left the the white translucent window shade down in the bathroom, the sun was shining directly on it, and I think the light from that window shade is what is illuminating the photograph hanging in the upstairs hall. So then I had to go find my Nikon, and then get back in bed, and put my head back on the pillow, and then shoot this photograph. Crazy, huh? I just love the sense of light in this photo - it's as if a spotlight is lighting up the picture.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I Have Photographed This Before, of Course

This is the other Japanese maple on the property. It is behind the garage in the back. I was beginning to think that we wouldn't have fall color this year. I am not sure why, except that I haven't seen much color up to now. But this morning I looked out the bathroom window and saw this! Perhaps it was because of a few days of relatively cold weather that we had that finally got the color started. Although, in truth, it is said that the color is already IN the leaves, but it is blocked by the green chlorophy that we see in the summer. For whatever reason, the color blossomed almost overnight, it seems, and I for one, am thrilled.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


This is a photo left over from my walking around town after the nor'easter snowstorm, which came after "superstorm Sandy." I was attracted by the textures of snow, and rock and of the vines. I have no idea what plant that is, but of course you all know that I wouldn't have a clue. I just liked the color, and the design. Oh, and the color pallet, which is almost monochromatic - browns and greens.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Astronomy Project

I am involved in an astronomy project where, as an amateur astronomer, I team up with a science teacher at a local school, and we work together to add another level of experience to about three classes during the year. I will be bringing some telescopes to the classes and talk about how they work. We may do some observing of the sun with special telescopes. I am not sure exactly what we will do together, but I am excited about the prospect of the coming school year. Today was the training program for both teachers and astronomers, and we got to meet each other. This is my partner, and in the background another teacher, who are all part of the program. They are both intently watching a presentation by the woman who runs the program. It is an exciting project that we are embarking on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Old Wallet

Funny thing about wallets. You buy a new one, and it is hard and sharp-edged, and you feel it in your pocket all the time. After a year or so, the leather softens, and you become less aware it is there. After a while, it picks up a lovely patina, and then a certain character because of the first signs of wear. Later on, it begins to show more severe wear. And then one day you realize that it has worn so much that it is beginning to fall apart and time to buy a new wallet and start the process all over again. And I find it difficult to part with a "friend" who has traveled so many miles with me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Last Gas Line

We were really lucky because both cars happened to have full gas tanks when the hurricane hit. So we didn't drive anywhere unnecessarily after the storm hit and the power went out. Eventually I got nervous about not having too much gas, so I happened to see a gas line at the station I usually buy from, and so I got in line. I was lucky - it only took me about 45 minutes to get gas. A great relief to have a full tank. That was about 4 days ago. This morning, riding my bike over to the bagel store, I passed by two gas stations, and there were no lines at all! What a relief to not have to worry about gasoline any more.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Capsule Has Landed

I was so surprised the other day when I came by the harbor, to see this rusted steel thing floating in the marsh grass. It looks like an Apollo space capsule! After looking at it for a while I figured out what it was. And then my guess was confirmed when someone came to get it. Know what it is? Right, it is a huge buoy for a heavy-duty mooring. Heavy duty as in usually there are 2 or three fully loaded barges filled with sand tied up to it, waiting for tugboats to take the barges away. There is a facility on the other side of the harbor that receives sand and gravel for making concrete. A small outboard motor boat arrived on the scene, tied a rope to the "capsule" and towed it back to where it belongs.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Charging Station

After three days of no power, I was able to borrow a generator from a friend whose power had been restored. We invited our neighbor over for hot tea and some fresh cookies and told her about the generator. So she brought some electronics that needed charging - her parent's cell phone, her cell phone, her sister's cell phone, an iPad, and her Kindle which she uses to read manuscripts as part of her work, and I was charging a couple of laptops as well. At first glance, this setup looks like something that would never pass inspection from the building inspector, but it is completely safe,I promise... :-)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kitties & Radiators

So this is funny - the kitties love to lie down on the radiator - it's one of their favorite places. But when the power went out and we had no heat, they had no interest in the radiators. After the power came back on, and the radiators warmed up, I was amazed to see how quickly they both stretched out on top of the radiator. They apparently sensed the heat right away. I didn't happen to shoot them both stretched out, but I did get this photo later on - I love the very direct way she is looking at me. Oh, and the curl in the tail.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

After the Storm

So last night the snow was so wet and heavy, that the branches of the Japanese Maple tree were touching the ground. I was so afraid that the tree was going to be damaged, that I went and got a push broom, and gently shook the branches that I could reach until the snow fell off and the branches popped back up. This photo of the Maple tree is different from the other photos of it I have posted - you can see the green leaves up above the snow covered branches. OH! And you can see the pumpkin on the ground to the right of the tree. The pumpkin is fine, and the squirrel has been dining on it all day. The other photo shows the Hickory tree with its beautiful yellow leaves. It is always so pretty at this time of year.


We got a snowstorm last night, with 4 to 5 inches of heavy wet snow. Then the wind started to blow, and we lost power again at about 11 PM. Not sure when it will come back, because they are still working on power outages from the hurricane, and now they have about 100,000 new outages. I am prepared to wait a few days at least... :-( I went over to the neighbor's house, after shoveling my driveway, and shoveled hers (before the power went out) so that she could get out in the morning to catch a train for the city, where she works. Fortunately, this morning the outside temperature is 39, warming is expected, and much of the heavy wet snow is off the trees, so there shouldn't be any more downed trees. We hope...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Squirrel Wins!

So how cute is this! The squirrel wins! I put the pumpkin back out on the porch, and the squirrel came back, right on schedule, and I had the telephoto lens on the camera, ready and waiting. I am shooting through both the regular window and the storm window, by the way, so I am pleased that the picture is sharp enough. I hope you will all be pleased that I am feeding the neighborhood animals. I posted a larger than normal image size, so please click on the picture to see it in more detail.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Before and After

Wow, I have never had this many comments on a blog post ever before! OK, OK, you win. Tomorrow I will put the Jack-O-Lantern out in the side yard for the squirrels to have for lunch! Here are two pictures of the pumpkin - one the first night I put it out, and one two days later, with a missing tooth, and a crack in its face. Poor thing. It aged so quickly.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pumpkin Thief!

See that cute little squirrel? See that he is eating something? That something that he is eating is orange in color. Notice that the pumpkin is orange. The squirrel IS EATING MY PUMPKIN! The nerve of him! We have had Jack-O-Lanterns on the front porch for years, and I have always kept them lit for at least a week after Halloween, and have never had one vandalized. This guy came along and broke one of the teeth out of the pumpkins mouth, and was eating it! So I brought the pumpkin inside, and now I only put it out at night when it is lit. Please click on the image to see it in more detail.

Saturday Post - The Linemen!

Friday Night at 8:21 PM the lights went on! Oh happy day! We were so surprised - I was thinking it might be another 3 to 5 days. What a pleasant surprise. So on Saturday morning after I went to the dump with my recycling stuff, I went looking for the trucks to see where they were working, so that I could thank the workers, and I lucked out. There are 4 trucks in town, from an company in Buffalo, NY. I had a really nice chat with this lineman and told him how much we appreciated all the work they were doing and the long hours they were putting in. He is from the Binghamton, NY area. He said that everyone in town has been so nice to all of them, which was really nice to hear. They are actually living in the Fire Department building. Another worker was from the Oneonta area. Boy were we so happy to have them arrive last Tuesday!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday Post - Hurricane Sandy, 5

This is what it looked like in the house after the sun went down each night. Reading by candlelight, dinner by candlelight, more reading by candlelight, Trivial Pursuit by candlelight. I guess I never realized how much time I spent watching TV, doing email, and surfing the web! I mean, I love to read, but reading by candlelight is tough on the eyes.

Thursday Post - Hurricane Sandy, 4

On Tuesday I got on my mountain bike, and headed up to town to ride around and see what kind of damage there was. There were trees down everywhere - large ones and small ones. From where we were, the winds didn't seem all that strong. I rode over to Glen Head, and was amazed what I saw there. There were several power poles with their entire tops snapped off! I mean, these are power poles! Just snapped in two! Wires were down everywhere, pulled down by trees. Apparently the trees snagged the wires and that's what snapped the poles off. I know this damage doesn't hold a candle to the destruction everywhere else. It is just what I saw in my neighborhood.

Wednesday Post - Hurricane Sandy, Day 3

On Monday morning, before we lost power, Kathy wanted to make some Cranberry Nut bread to have, "just in case." So she made a loaf, and then on Tuesday, after the power had been out for a day, we invited our neighbor Judy over for "Tea and crumpets" (whatever they are...) So it was cool in the house, but cozy to have a neighbor over, and to take time for conversation. She said that for some reason our house was just a bit warmer than hers was, so she appreciated the warmth and the food. Funny how disasters bring neighbors together. The neighbor on the other side realized that we had no heat or hot water, and she offered to let us take a shower in their house, because they had a gas hot water heater. And then a few hours later came over with a bag of ice - a friend of hers from Westchester had driven down with a car full of bags of ice for some of her friends on Long Island. How wonderful is that!

Tuesday Post - Hurricane Sandy, Day 2

Obviously I am way behind in posting to the blog, thus the titles indicating the days that each post *should* have been made on. After watching the high tide on Monday at 11AM, I went back down to the same spot after midnight to see if the water would be even higher than it had been Monday noon. There were a number of people down there, all just as interested in seeing the effects of the storm as I was. The height of the water was about the same. It was tough to shoot since I hadn't brought a tripod, so I had to shoot at ISO 3200 while leaning up against the nearest tree, which results in really "grainy" photographs. It's mainly the the mood of the photograph that strikes me as interesting - the orange color makes it look a bit like the end of the world, which it was for so many unfortunate people on the south facing shores in the New York area.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Monday Post - Hurricane Sandy, Day 1

So I arrived home from Austin on Sunday after switching flights. Monday was the day that Sandy came through. I walked down to the harbor at high tide, to see how high the water was. It had crossed Shore road and started up our street. This is not unusual for nor'easters around here. Strange to see whitecaps on Laurel Avenue, after coming under the railings and the park benches and crossing Shore road. Lots of people walked down to view the effects of the storm. We are without electricity, so I can only post when connected to the Internet using backup batteries.