Monday, April 18, 2016

My patio is complete

It's spring! I believe the threat of frost has passed. We went from frost last Thursday to 83 degrees today. Phew.

Here is how my planting and potting turned out. I also re-arranged the patio furniture and stuff. This will be my coffee nook in the mornings when summer comes and the evening reading nook in the cool of the evening.

My front door. I try to train the ivy to climb up the side of the hanging wrought iron thing (which was a CD stand at one time I found by the side of the road or some discarded place, I forget).

Notice how pretty the hanging flowers are? Look closely. They will be dead soon, knowing me.

I bought some geraniums and verbena. I really like my new potting table (another freebie-by the side of the road-fell off a truck thing)

The patio gets full sun for a few hours then goes behind a tree then behind the house.

The back yard. Nice, isn't ti!

Reading nook! A nice table and a comfy chair is all I need.

So, that's it. I hope the plants last.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Golden Hour

A walk around the yard at "Golden Hour". This is the time when the sun has sunk low but not below the tree line yet, and the shadows are long and the light is soft and gold. It is the time when the last few birds are chirping before going to roost, and the rest of the world is quiet.

The side yard. You can't tell, but the light was VERY golden, especially through the under-branches of the pine tree.

Moon coming up through the trees


I made a noise and he turned, "Who dat?"

I set my Nikon's wonderful zoom to full. This is the result-

This is where I was standing.

Where is the hay? Beyond the garage, at the other side of the pasture, between the two trees. Ha!

Today's cooking

Left over from last week's cooking bonanza thanks to a plentiful Bountiful Basket, was zucchini. I had roasted the two large zucchinis and decided this Saturday to make it into a dip, or spread. That happened. I put the zucchini straight into the food processor with softened cream cheese, lemon, and salt. A few 'whizzes' later, it was a spread. I'll enjoy with my baked pita crisps I'd also made last week.

Dips & spreads are so easy to make and so handy to have for a snack or a sandwich filling when I need to make a quick lunch.

At my local grocery store yesterday there were quite a few white button mushrooms for sale at reduced price. They were still white and good looking and there were many that were marked down, so I bought three containers. Knowing mushrooms, they would not stay white and good looking for long. I looked up a few recipes but in the end went the simple route. I sauteed them whole until crisp, only adding a slight amount of olive oil and salt, leaving them to reduce gently. I'd also made vegetable stock lost week and when the mushrooms were ready, simply added the stock and even more gently simmered it. Soup!

These are two containers worth.
I saved one to make something in a couple days.

Of course a few of those golden delicious mushrooms had to go into my scrambled egg... ;)

I also made brownies, and roasted two small heads of broccoflower (a cauliflower-broccoli hybrid).

To sum up:

Mushroom soup
Zucchini dip
Roasted Broccoflower
Hot slaw- for wraps
Cantaloupe- for smoothies

The cabbage hot slaw to use in wraps is because I still have two heads piled up from BB. We had successive weeks of cabbage bonanza and it's really hard to eat a lot of cabbage at once but thank goodness it keeps a long time.

Not a bad morning. I've got my food for the week all set and it is a bright sunny day. I think later I will cut up the paste paper I'd made last week into bookmark size, and laminate them to give as gifts. And watch some TV (maybe Last Man Standing or Judge Judy), and at the last as the sun goes down and things get cozy in the apartment, read my book. Saturday!

Friday, April 15, 2016


I've mentioned that the area around here is rural. There are lots of fields with agricultural things growing, like canola, watermelons, or hay; and lots of animals like cows, sheep, horses, and donkeys. I've even taken photos of a buffalo herd, and several emus.

The donkeys are soooo cute when they are born and so little. I've been dying to get a picture of them for over a year now but have missed it every time. The owner rotates his animals, and sometimes the cows are in the front pasture, and sometimes the donkeys. Sometimes there are no animals in that pasture. Another problem is that it's on a straight-away in a 55mph zone and there is no shoulder to stop. Thirdly, it's on a curve. Stopping or slowing in that spot is dangerous. Last, when the donkeys HAVE been out, I haven't remembered to prepare my camera in time!

Well this week I saw the donkeys and the babies. I drove home later that day with camera prepared and there were no animals grazing at all. Drat, they're in the back pasture! Same with the next morning. The third day there was too much traffic behind me. The fourth day it was too dark and rainy. Today though, was clear, sunny, and coming home is a slightly better angle to shoot because it's less of a curve. There was one car behind me so I slowed down and he soon passed. No other cars were in sight on either direction and the grass along the side where there is NO asphalt shoulder had been mowed so I could see where it was level to pull over a bit. I'd already opened my car window and turned the camera on.

These photos aren't optimal of course, because I was in a traffic zone pointing the camera out a half downed window with no time to set up the shot, but they came out OK anyway.

I don't know why I felt so compelled to get a picture of the donkeys. Maybe it's because they were one animal in my immediate area I didn't have a picture of yet. Or maybe the babies are just so cute. I don't know but here they are for whatever reason!

This is the field I pass by that occasionally has the donkeys in it.

Here is a brown donkey lookin' fine. I'm still in the same spot but used my Nikon's excellent zoom

Here's a mama and her two babies. She's giving me the hairy eyeball...

I cropped these even closer.

But I'm still this far away. Nikon Coolpix with 30X zoom rocks!

The Nikon sets up the photo fast, too. I didn't have to idle by the side of the road long. No vehicular crashes happened in the taking of these photos. ;)

So I finally got photos of the donkeys. Now it's on to birds again!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Visual journal: Bird in mailbox

There's a bird in the mailbox. She's sitting on some eggs. Not wanting to stress her out too much, I left her alone all week.

Then surprise! This:

Friday, April 08, 2016

My new potting table

I'd said a few weeks ago in another post that it's almost time to plant. Spring is here and sometimes in north GA we can plant then or in early April but it's best, says the wise green thumbs, to wait until the second week of April. And indeed, we do have a threat of frost tonight and tomorrow.

I changed my patio configuration again. I never was satisfied with the pots being on the outside of the table. They do get in the way of foot traffic I'd hoped they would make a nice defined border between the walkway and the sitting area, but it just looked weird.

My catalyst for changing it again was that a dear friend gave me a potting table! I put the watering can in it, which I love because I never had a spot to put it before and I always thought it looked funny just sitting next to the door, orphaned. Here is how my area looks now:

I moved the red pot and the pot with the blue bulb in it back to the house next to the one with spider plant & ivy. This week the temperatures were perfect, upper 60s and low 70s but on the patio in the sun it felt wonderfully warm. I spent some happy hours out there reading and having lunch, and watching the birds.

I bought some impatiens seeds to plant in some of the pots and also by the dogwood tree. The Dollar Store was out of bird seed but I'll get some next time. Monday when I go back to school I'll swing by the plant place in Danielsville and get a few already grown ones and some flowers too.

I really love this time of year. The next time (aside from Saturdays) I'll have time to sit out there will be when school ends in May. I am starting to really like my little outdoor nook.

Warm, crusty bread

There's an artisan baker in town. Her Facebook page features lovely photographs of her wares. She is on the more savory side, breads, croissants, pretzels, turnovers, rather than cakes and cupcakes. She does do pies. But the breads are the thing that keeps me coming back to her page. She is influenced by German style, and her wares are just wonderful to see. As one customer said of her photos of the breads, "staring at your creations makes the Internet worthwhile."

But I've never eaten any. I've only stared.

This is because she packs up and sells it all at the Athens Farmer's Markets. Her bakery is baking-only, no on site retail. I don't drive into Athens. It's a bit far to go for bread. This is disappointing especially since her bakery is a half mile from my house, and there is nowhere else in the county to get crusty bread.

A couple of years ago she announced that she was moving into an old pizza place to open a storefront/retail location a block away from her present location. I was so excited. However, they are doing all the work themselves and since she is still baking for the twice-weekly market in Athens, the work in rehabilitating the old pizza place into a bakery has gone slow. That's OK. I'm patient.

Well on Friday she announced that she was doing a test bake on Italian bread. For $2 a loaf people could come to the in-progress bakery and pick up a warm loaf. The sale would go on until she sold out. This happened in the mid-afternoon. I was just getting home from school and hadn't seen the announcement yet.

However soon after I arrived home, so soon in fact I had not even changed out of my school clothes, my friend arrived with two warm loaves for me. She had seen the announcement and launched into the car to grab some.

Of course I sliced some right away and I was pleased to find what I though I'd find, a perfect balance of lightness of the bread to crust, low amount of salt and delicious crunch. It is one of the best loaves I've ever eaten.

A friend who brings you bread, thoughtful and there anything more wonderful than a friend handing you a warm loaf of bread? I do not think so.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Visual Journal: Squirrel

I like taking photos of children and sports because the action happens fast and you never know which way a player or a kid will go. Setting up the shot, anticipating, and capturing something that occurs and is over is a flash is a challenge.

But nothing like trying to get a good shot of a squirrel. This is a challenge on steroids, at warp speed. And forget when he doubles back...!

I'm satisfied with what I got. I'll try again sometime, when my head stops spinning from trying to anticipate which way he'll go next.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Sky photography

In the book I'm reading, Creative Photography, the author suggested making a visual journal by tearing out clips from magazines of photos I wish I'd taken, and as time goes on to look for themes or parse reasons why I like a particular photo. I liked that idea but I'm not going to do it. I'd rather make my own journal and fill it with my own photos, lol.

The author also suggested to take 100 photos of the same thing in different lights and from different angles. I liked this idea too. This trains the eye to see differences even among familiar things, and to stretch one's self by trying different angles on old and familiar items.

One of my earliest favorite photos I took 38 years ago in Maine, during the fall season amid a vivid and colorful section of trees lining the quadrangle. I looked UP. I pointed my camera to the upper yonder and framed a vivid yellow cluster of leaves against an azure sky with the sun behind them. It was great.

I don't do that a lot so this week I started looking straight up again. I'd been admiring the clear blue sky such as we get here in Georgia in the spring. The pollen haze was washed away and the thunderstorm cleared the weeks of the air away and left behind a startlingly blue expanse. So I pointed the camera straight up and these photos were the result.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Shooting old things from new angles

I'm reading The Creative Photographer. There are several good suggestions I've read in the "Inspired Vision" section designed to spark creativity by helping the photographer to see usual things in a new way. One of the suggestions is to look for the alphabet in nature and to look for numbers. I am going to do this.

A second suggestion is to take 100 photos of the same thing over time. The suggestion was to take it over different days, under different lights, from above, below, etc. The task is to train the eye to see the same things in new ways. The author said photos taken of the item over time can become a kind of visual journal.

A third suggestion that I liked picks up on the notion of a visual journal. It is to actually keep a visual journal. The recommendation is to cut out pictures of things from magazines or books of photos I wish I'd taken. Over time a theme may emerge. For example, I might notice I gravitate to cutting out lots of pictures of flowers, or things that are red, or lots of pictures of hands in different positions. etc.

The only problem with #3 is that while I'm good at photography I'm terrible at making anything three-dimensional. There's a massive disconnect between my brain and my hands.

Anyway, here are my letters I've been able to find so far.

Clockwise from top left, L, S, V, Z, U, O
It's a good book, basic enough to understand, but challenging with practical ideas. It's nice to have a vacation like this week's Spring Break where there are enough days to shed the stress which allows mind to relax and try new things.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

PH Leonard porcelain hand painted dish, another second hand store find

I wrote in December that I love funky second hand stores because you never know what you will find. At a place down the road from me, I'd found a vintage 1800s book with marbled covers in Swedish and it turned out to be a book of plays by Sweden's most notable playwright. The second hand store isn't a fancy place where one would expect to find such things. But there it was amid the used clothes and wrenches and dented furniture, this little gem.

Yesterday I went back to the store. I hadn't really planned on it. But I was at the Dollar Store and I became so frustrated that I left without acquiring all the things I had on my list. The Dollar Store in my town is one of the fleet's smaller stores, and when they receive the truckload of merchandise in which to stock the shelves, it's impossible to navigate the aisles. And the workers take a long time to unpack it, like days. Aisles were literally blocked by their towering carts of boxes. I gave up and left.

However when one needs kitty litter, one needs kitty litter. You can't skip it. So I went back to the second hand store in hopes there would be some on sale. Looking for that all-important box of clay crumbles, I came across a dish. It was pretty, with what looked to be hand-painted roses, and I guessed it might be porcelain. It was strange to see this delicate dish amid the heaver dishes like stoneware jumbled there on the shelves. Yet there it was. I picked it up to look for a mark and sure enough, a potter's mark was on the back. It was:

A porcelain looking dish with a potter's mark, and only $3? Okey dokey, you had me at roses.

When I got home I started looking up the name of the importer on the mark. It turns out that the importer was PH Leonard, and he imported Limoge china from France and Porcelain from Bohemia. From various descriptions of his business I found on vintage sales sites,
P.H. Leonard, Vienna, Austria. Leonard was a New York importer well known for importing high quality Bohemian, Austrian and French porcelain during the last quarter of the 19th century. It appears that the P.H. Leonard firm went bankrupt sometime around 1898-1900.
This is from a description of a plate that looked like mine except for the mark, though in addition to the mark I'd posted above, there was a red A in script on the back
Circa 1891, Very fine, detailed hand painted and gilded plates with an exceptional reticulated (pierced) border which is both gold gilded and enameled with tiny rich blue designs. The flowers are pink roses on an off white background that has hints of pale blue, lavender and green. Marked Vienna Austria and signed with the initials A.I.D. All four plates are in very fine original condition. 5 3/4" in diameter.
All 4 plates on the above site were selling for $100 so one plate would likely be $25, which is consistent with the sites on ebay and etsy and antiques places I saw for sale. So we're not talking retirement money here, but simply the charm of the hunt and a pretty, vintage item to add to my collection.

This screenshot from Google Books is from a book titled New York's Leading Businesses, 1885. It describes PH Leonard's business as one of the leading businesses of the era.

It's nice to have a pretty little dish. It's nicer to come home and research it and discover another piece of Americana. I don't need a huge home or a fancy car, a few fine touches here and there will do. And the charm of the discovery makes it all the more pleasing. It was a nice way to end the week.