Sunday, April 06, 2014

Photographing ants

It was a warm day, but not hot. You know the kind where the sun is almost warm, but the car seat totally is? And the concrete. The concrete was one big slab of invitingly warm under the clear sky and the bright sun.

Sometimes when the neighbor leaves I take a pillow and lay out there straight on the concrete and listen to the birds and enjoy the warmth. I so enjoy the peace and quiet, and warmth in a Georgia spring before the oppressive heat sets in

On Saturday I did just that, also taking my camera with me so I could photograph birds. The longer I'm still, the more birds come around to the dogwood tree, the better chance of getting some wildlife photos.

While I was laying there I started watching the ants. They've come out recently, those aggressive tiny biting buggers, busy digging trenches and holes and cracking the concrete. They walk on a trail in one direction then the other, never varying. In this case, they'd chosen a route along the edge of the concrete walkway from the garage to the front door. I lay parallel to them and started watching their business instead of the birds.

Around then, both the next door tenant and the landlord arrived. They stood looking at me laying on the concrete, still and motionless and I realized that this could look weird. Indeed, they both said later that when they pulled in they thought I'd fallen and they were getting ready to cal 911 emergency. But then I sat up with my camera in hand and said hello. The little girl, daughter to the tenant, came running over asking "What are you doing?" the way kids do.

One thing I was doing was practicing macro photography with my extreme zoom lens. It's a challenge to frame shots, to capture fast moving insects, and to be still enough not to blur the shot. I also like it because I can lay down. No crouching, walking hiking, or traveling to get the shot. It is a method I made up called "The Lazy Saturday Afternoon Photographer Method."

1. Go outside
2. Lay down
3. Turn on macro setting.
4. Wait.

LOL. Well there is more to it but that's the gist. In other words a nice past-time for a vacation Saturday afternoon. Here are the fruits of my labors.

Ant #1: Gotta get to the oasis...gotta. get. there.
Ant #2: Hey wait up!

Look, just ahead, SHADE!!


Remember the way, take a left at the clover and down into the dirt.

Where did they go? Here:


It's a jungle in here. Between the huge pollen dots, birds, and the spiky plants, life is pretty rough...

And miles to go before I sleep...

Miles to go before I sleep.



Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A wonderful day

I'm watching the rest of season 2 of the BBC series "Line of Duty". It is an excellent show. Well-written, suspenseful in that it keeps us guessing on the guilt or innocence of the parties involved, and it is extremely well acted. I love that it's only 6 episodes so I don't have to commit too deeply, nor be strung out or emotionally manipulated for too long.

It's on Hulu. Definitely check it out.

I'm on vacation now, it is Spring Break. And forget spring, it's summer. The temps are upper 70s and low 80s, no humidity and clear blue skies. It's wonderful!! Just LOOK at this day!




The house we lived in when I was a teenager. My mother was a great decorator. I loved the antiques. From the vintage chair to the grandfather clock to the Victorian couch to the needlepoint pillows, that gorgeous bureau...and the wonderful art on the walls-she really had a great eye.


Have a great day everyone!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cats

Cats are like potato chips. You can never have just one.

I could get that bird. If I wanted.
The bed is mine all MINE!!
My life is hell. I have to move an inch to get back in the sun. Pity me.
Murray's counting the kitty toys. Red ribbon, milk ring, old sock,
Leopard wand. And, BERT! RAR!




It's vacation week and was Bountiful Basket weekend

It's spring break and Saturday was a Bountiful Basket Saturday. Yay!

I had lots of peppers. I'd bought a reduced package of tiny sweet red and orange peppers. I also had all the Anaheim peppers left over from the Basket two weeks ago. I had one left over wrinkled green pepper from some era long before. And, in the Basket on Saturday were three large red peppers. So, I needed to use a lot of peppers, lol.

What to do? I roasted them. Then, I mulled. By Sunday morning I'd looked up recipes. It's not rocket science. I googled "How to use a lot of peppers." Literally. That's the kind of searches I do. I just ask, and google answers. I try not to think about the Orwellian implications of this.

I found a recipe for a pepper tart. I often make quiche and I'd thought briefly about a pepper and cheese quiche. But I only had four eggs left and I didn't want to use them all. The tart called for 1 full egg and 1 yolk. Of course the tart comes out thinner but that was OK, quiche is heavy anyway. I liked the fact that it used fewer eggs, no flour and only cooks in the oven for 15 minutes. The oven (and the dryer) takes so much electricity I can tell by the monthly bill when I've cooked a lot. I had feta cheese on hand so I topped the tart with that.

It came out great! I only had a deep dish pie shell on hand but next time I'll get a shallow pie shell or phyllo dough for a real tart.
You see how the tart definitely doesn't need a deep dish
It's thin, but I like that. The flavor of the peppers is more prominent
Now the other problem: I had 6 pears left but they were weird. I'd eaten one the day before at school for my lunch, but it was hard even though it looked soft. As a matter of fact half of one pear was rotten in my bowl, but the rest were still hard. It was one of those situations where they'd never soften up, so I'd need to cook them. Throwing them out was out of the question. I don't waste.

Voila, pear sauce. I simply peeled and chopped them, put them in boiling water and cooked until they were soft. I blended them with ginger and cinnamon, lemon juice and just a tablespoon of sugar. You can see it filled a large Ball Mason jar. (I've already had one helping. It used to be filled to the top. ;)



Of course I never turn the oven on unless I can stuff it. This saves electricity. The costliest items in the home for electricity are the air conditioner, the dryer and the oven. So when the oven is on, it's working to cook several dishes, not just one. Using all the food you have with a minimum of extra ingredients saves money too.

Here is the photo of the Bountiful Basket and all that was in it. The photo is from our local co-op Facebook page.


I ate the strawberries right away. I roasted the carrots whole. The cauliflower will be roasted next weekend. I've already eaten some of the bananas and apples. I roasted the peppers as mentioned. Below was my Sunday Brunch after church. The potatoes were from the last Bountiful Basket two weeks ago.


Not everything was a success. The carrots came with tops. They were two feet long and green. I love anything green so I looked up recipes for how to use carrot tops. Yes they're edible, and I set about to make carrot top pesto. I stripped the leaves from the top so I wouldn't have the hard thin stems to deal with and put the leaves in boiling water to blanch them, in order to soften them up. I don't have a hand blender so I put them in the regular blender with lemon juice and olive oil. There wasn't enough bulk to blend and the whole thing ended up being a propeller-stalling stringy mess with splattered olive oil up the sides of the blender. And the carrot tops didn't taste good anyway.

Well, I tried not to waste anything. Maybe next time I'll roast the tops...

Today is 78 degrees and tomorrow and the next day are predicted to the the same. I have plans to have breakfast with some gals on Thursday morning and another date with a different gal friend later in the week. It's all good.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Movie Review: "Things To Come"

In 1933 HG Wells wrote a book called The Shape of Things To Come. He later adapted it for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come. Wikipedia says, "This depicted, all too accurately, the impending World War, with cities being destroyed by aerial bombs." I read elsewhere that Wells was kind of a prophet of aeronautics, predicting as early as 1901, an air war. The Wright Brothers made the very first flight in 1903, two years after Wells predicted that war would take to the skies.. Wells also predicted the outbreak of WWII and was off by only 16 months. He also predicted people movers, Segway, aircraft dominance in war, being slaves to technology, amphibious tanks, drones, zombies, robots, and more.

HG Wells also wrote The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

So his book The Shape of Things To Come was was made into a movie Things to Come. If you watch it having a Christian worldview, it is sadly right on the money. It depicts man's endless seeking of something greater, always learning but never able to come to knowledge of the truth. So ultimately the film is dystopian, because it is Godless, though Wells wanted to depict a utopia, because science is his god.

If you watch it just as entertainment, it is a stunning film. It is tremendously a visually stunning movie, as much or more than even Fritz Lang's Metropolis, and that's saying a lot if a 75 year old movie can still top the stun list. The futuristic sets in the future years segment of the movie are especially stunning.

The film begins in 1940, 4 years into Wells' future. War is predicted, and soon enough, it comes to pass. The city, named 'Everytown', (looking suspiciously like London) is destroyed by air. This actually happened in a few years into the future when in WWII, parts of the city were razed by Nazi bombers.

However, unlike WWII, the war in Things To Come simply never ended for decades and decades. The population of the world was reduced dramatically and people forgot why they were fighting. A fiefdom was set up in Everytown by The Boss, AKA The Chief. he ruled tyrannically. A pestilence swept over the globe known as the wandering sickness, whereupon infected people would arise from their sickbeds and wander aimlessly and catatonically about, infecting more people as they passed. These we know as today's zombies, the first cinematic depiction of such a thing. The Boss ordered any wanderer to be summarily shot. However, because of this brutal approach, soon the disease was conquered, and the economy began rebounding, though a Stone Age one.

The Boss dreams of removing 'the hill people;' from the area where coal and oil fields are so as to obtain petrol and make his ancient biplanes fly again. However he recognizes this is a race against time because so many decades have passed, the technology for oil extraction and its conversion to usable fuel was dying with all the old men who once knew how to do these things.

Even as The Boss dreams of this, an advanced aircraft lands one day and an old man emerges, the every man who was featured in the beginning of the film in Everytown musing about the possibility of war. He has allied with a group of techno-crats, aircraft engineers and other scientists, who have built factories, squashed the concept of national sovereignty and tells The Boss that he aims to take over and their group will stamp out disease and war via science and reason AKA "Sanity" as he puts it. It is by now the late 1970s.

The movie continues on through the 1980s and on into 2046 with a preparation for a manned moon shot. Thought he world has indeed rid itself of disease and war, one lone sculptor wonders at what price. he is discontent, and asks the technocrat planning the moon shot what all this sterile living and subservience to science is for. "Progress isn't living! Progress is preparation for living!" He yells.

It is amazing what Wells did with his sets and how he showed the future. It's not a perfect film but it is an amazing film, One has to give proper due to the man whose vision of the future was so perceptive and the questions he asked of mankind's struggle with itself so poignant- all encapsulated in a 96 minute movie. It is in Hulu plus in the Criterion Collection, and is on Youtube for free in its entirety. Check it out.

Here are some photos from the movie.

This is the interior courtyard of Everytown in 2036. The clear tube going up the side is a pneumatic elevator, and the crosswalk is a conveyance that moves people.


It made me think of the interior of the Contemporary Resort Hotel at Disney world in FL. I stayed there after it first opened in 1971. Note the similarities the monorail passing directly through the courtyard.

Flat screen tvs, wrist phones with video screen and iPads are in use in this film, 60 years before they came to be...


The Technocrat's iPad

 Oh look, here is a modern Galaxy Smartwatch...


Yup, a rocket all right. In the movie they called it a 'space gun'.


Saturn rocket on launch pad, 1961


The aircraft particularly show a design aesthetic advanced beyond imagining. This blogger said:

"It’s especially apparent in the designs for the majestic Wings Over the World airships, which although often described as flying wings are actually something even more exotic. Their combination of swept wings (a decade before the earliest such aircraft entered service), tailless construction (which wouldn’t become really practical until the 1990’s), and twin catamaran fuselages (a design concept that has hardly ever been used in the real world) is like something out of Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind, and the models representing them are curiously much more convincing than those used for the comparatively conventional 1940’s fighter planes."

Helicopter


Single man aircraft manufactured by Wings Over the World ... almost looks like a drone

 Or an Ibis RJ03...


Anyway you get the idea!

Further Reading:

NY Times original movie review, 1936 Boy, those guys sure could write well back then.

Overview by Turner Classic Movies

AMG review

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Making inroads with the new kitty

I love weekends. I'm sorry this one is drawing to a close.

It's been warm and nice. I've napped, read, watched tv on my computer, corresponded, wrote blogs, listened to music and sermons. What I have not done is cleaned nor cooked, two things that are necessary for me to get ready for the week. Oh well. I see a lot of sandwiches in my future.

Five more workdays and then spring vacation. Well, two days during the following week are two days the School Officials determined to recover from all the snow days we had in February. Monday and Tuesday. Oh well.

I've been watching the BBC's highly rated and well-reviewed cop series called 'Line of Duty.' LOL, the BBC's 'season' is five episodes long. I kind of like that. It's long enough to develop a complicated story but short enough to keep my attention.

I also really enjoyed the BBC's Collision series a while back. Another good one. Ditto as above.

My big accomplishment this weekend was that I finally successfully trimmed my kitty's claws. I've spent several weeks running up to it. He lived his first two or three months outside as a stray, so he is not so used to being handled. So over the last 8 weeks I pick up and hold the cat at odd times. I press the pads gently. I give him a treat when he allows touching. I comb his hair. I put him down before he gets restless. Repeat. I've trimmed one or two at a time, but finally I clipped all the front claws- and no blood drawn from him with trimming them too closely and none from me with his scratching. Yay!

In 5 hours I'll be in dreamland. When I wake up, another work-week begins. The kids made me laugh a lot last week. I hope for more of the same. Soon, a vacation will lull me to relaxation-land. I'm looking forward to that.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Honey the Great Dane & Lemon the Tortoiseshell Cat - Magic Moments Together

As has been said, this IS worth every minute of the ten minutes. Very sweet. We all need some sweetness in our lives. I love my precious three kitties! Here is the background to the video

"Honey & Lemon shared the same birthday - they came into our lives together, grew up together, played together, shared adventures together - and should have grown old together...but we lost Lemon to a mystery infection while she was staying in a cattery, in Jan 2009. She was only 5yrs old. For such a tiny cat, she has left a huge hole in our hearts - and an empty space by Honey's side. She was the night to Honey's day, the spice to Honey's sweetness, the devil minx to Honey's angel goodness - and she was a cat in a million."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bert Vants To Be Alone

My ole cat Bert likes a good nap. And then He likes a good snooze. And after that, he likes a good sleep. With a new kitty in the house who likes to play, sometimes Bert likes a good hide.


"Ahhh, No one can see me. I'm gonna relax now!"

5 seconds later...
What's THIS??!! A lump! A suspiciously gray, Bert-looking lump!"

"If keep poking him, I'm sure I can get him to play!"

"Sigh..."


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dawn and breakfast

Spring in Georgia is simply amazing. And beautiful. And warm. And it lasts a while. There is all good.

I know that many people suffer from allergies from the many things that bloom around here, especially the Bartlett pear trees, so spring for them isn't so grand. I'm sorry about that, but I do love the flowers and the colors and especially the birds' return. The grass is already greening up nicely.

This shot is from the end of my driveway looking across the street.

This is looking at the side yard, forsythia blooming and at the end of the forsythia row is the as-yet-unbudded fig tree.


On the weekends I have time to make a fancier breakfast and I have time to eat it. On the weekdays it's fried egg on unbuttered English muffin, gobbled. On Saturdays it's Baguette French Toast and red potato home fries, eaten sitting down.

That's my Shenandoah Ware Depression era or earlier 8" cereal bowl. I have three, and I love them. I use them for everything, absolutely everything. Every meal is eaten out of one of these. I love the size and shape and the pattern (daffodils). Someday I might just go into Comer to the Shabby Chic boutique and see if she is carrying any Depression era Shenandoah ware.

Until then, I have some French Toast to eat and a Bountiful Basket to pick up. Have a good day everyone.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekends 11 years apart

Friday night 2003, party at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel


Friday night 2014, late afternoon/early evening nap after a long workweek, and...
 A cup of herb tea.


A sturdy teapot

The only party is in my teacup

Peace and quiet

Weekends 11 years apart