Friday, July 30, 2010

San Diego

During last summer's visit to San Diego we spent a couple of days in Balboa Park. This Proud Mama had to see her son who was appearing in several plays during the Shakespeare Festival in the Old Globe's outdoor theater. (He is there again this summer.) If you are looking for a destination, Balboa Park has gardens, the San Diego Zoo, The Old Globe Theater and a courtyard with studios where artists and crafts people sell their products.

There are twenty gardens which are free of charge, including a cactus garden, Japanese garden, butterfly garden and a rose garden. There is a fantastic Botanical Building - not a green house, because it is constructed of wood strips so it is open to the weather. It is full of ferns and other plants, some of them blooming.

This plant in the Botanical Building caught my eye because it seemed to be in the spotlight. Isn't it a luscious shade of green? You can see bromeliads in the background.

This is the Botanical Building where we picnicked on the lawn. There were several musicians performing in the open air which added to the atmosphere.

Join Claudia at Dipity Road for Finding Beauty Friday.

Sleepless Night

I couldn't sleep last night and that is not normal for me. In my family I'm know as a champion sleeper. An hour after I went to bed my eyes popped open and my mind turned on. Then the worry and the wild imaginings started. And even though Mr. B was cuddled up next to me I started to worry about him. How do you make yourself stop worrying and go back to sleep? After an hour of lying still - trying not to move for fear of waking up Mr. B, I slid out of bed, grabbed my glasses and a book and tiptoed into the kitchen.

Four Ritz crackers with peanut butter later, I sat in my "therapy chair" and picked up my MacBook. The therapy chair is a new, contemporary, leather recliner that I tried out in the store two months ago and refused to get out of. Mr. B tried to make a deal to let me spend the night in the chair at the store. Failing that he bought the chair for me. I had hurt my back unpacking boxes at the house in CT and came back to VA with no comfortable chair to sit it. In my wisdom I had moved my recliner because my back was not hurting at the time. So, I really, really needed that chair. And now my back is better!

When I have a rough night, which seems to be happening more frequently, I make a hot drink and head for my lovely Corinthian leather chair! There is a lot to worry about now as I wrote about in Stressful Days.

So it was four in the morning (I only went to bed at 2 am) and I decided to try to learn how to layer photos to keep my mind occupied. Keep in mind that my special book of instructions on how to use Photoshop Elements is .... where else but CT! I find it hard to read online help while I try to remember the steps and carry out the operations. It is easier when I have the directions in my hand to read as I search for the correct menus, layers palette, gradient tool and where is the blasted "Layers Mask?"

I improvised and here is what I came up with. The writing is the bottom layer and the rose is the top layer. The exercise was to take away parts of the top layer and expose the bottom. Well, I couldn't do it the way the online directions were telling me to. Where is that "Layers Mask?" Instead I used the erase tool then used a filter for effect.

I decided not to post this when I finished it in case my lack of sleep was having an effect on my judgement. But nearly 24 hours later I think it is okay. Not great, but I did learn a few things. And then I really went crazy on this second photo. The bottom layer here a picture of a display of ties at Men's Warehouse. The Shape Tool is responsible for the leafy red shapes. I was having fun.

It is 2 am. I'm hoping that I will be tired enough to sleep peacefully! Can't keep my eyes open ....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ever wish you could live in the catalog pictures?

Do you Blog Hop? I do and often realize two hours later that I am 20 blogs from my starting point. On this Hop I found Thrifty Decor Chick which is a really great blog. I enjoyed her post about Catalog Envy and how unrealistic the pictures are for our real lives. But oh such fun to look at!

Thrifty Decor Chick (Sarah) found an amazingly funny blog called Catalog Living by Molly Erdman who is an actress, improviser and writer. This is Molly in a Sonic Commercial. Catalog Living is the story of a couple, Gary and Elaine, who live in the catalog pictures and it is beyond funny. Below are several of her photos with captions. Molly was kind enough to give me permission to show her material.

Light up the Sky

Gary hung the chandelier for me as a surprise. Why heavens no, I’ve never raised my head enough to see what it’s hanging from. Let’s just enjoy our limes under glass.

Keep Your Hobbies to Yourself

Gary, we were having such a lovely afternoon with the Andersons until you decided you just had to show off your string ball.

Hungry for More

After Elaine left the table with tears in her eyes, Gary knew he should have held back his comment that the starfish were a little chewy.

I'll never look at another catalog without thinking of Gary and Elaine!

Portland Head Light

Last summer we took a trip to Portland, Maine. Even though we lived in Maine for eighteen years, we had never been to Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, a few miles from Portland. I'm glad we finally visited because it is a beautiful sight.

According to Wikipedia, construction on the light house began in 1787 at the directive of George Washington. Originally whale oil lights were used for illumination. After many revisions in height, both taller and shorter, today the lighthouse stands 80 feet above ground and 101 feet above water. The keeper's house is connected to it.

The lighthouse sits atop a cliff. There are cliffs all along the coast here and the waves crash at the base.

These pictures make me wish I were there feeling a cool ocean breeze. The clouds and sailboat in the last photo look too perfect to be real.

I'm participating in Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.

Outdoor Wednesday logo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beautiful Sunflowers

Don't you just love sunflowers? They are so bright and cheerful. These were on display at Miller Farms Vegetable stand near Fredericksburg, VA. We go there to buy very fresh vegetables right where they are grown. It is a forty minute drive for us but worth it.

Aren't these lovely?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Adorable Squirrels

It's Monday again and time for Mosaic Monday at Little Red House.

I love to watch squirrels. And I NEVER pass up a chance to photograph one. That is probably why I have at least 100 squirrel pictures. But every one is sooooo cute! Look at these and deny it!

This guy sat and groomed himself long enough for me to get some good shots. I love the way one arm is holding the other. Have you ever seen a squirrel sit like that?

This picture of the squirrel relaxing on the deck railing is my favorite. He looks like a roller ran over him. I think we need a cute caption on this. Any suggestions? I could use him on a card - something like "I was so busy I missed your birthday."

What can I say? Adorable.

Anyone else enjoy squirrels?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Butterfly Napping

I can see a lot from my favorite chair - birds, deer, raccoons, squirrels, cats - and now a butterfly napping. It is soooo hot today, (100 degrees) that I was eating lunch in my chair instead of in the hammock. Imagine my surprise to see this butterfly land on the hammock and proceed to nap.

After checking the internet I now know that butterflies don't really nap, they only rest. They don't have eyelids and don't snore. If they did, wouldn't you love to hear a butterfly snore? I imagine it might sound like a cat purring. This fella rested for fifteen minutes.

Our stressful days continue. Mr. B and I have felt quite "down" but are starting to feel more optimistic. We are laughing again. Nothing is resolved.

I'm joining Claudia at Dipity Road for Finding Beauty Friday. There is always something to appreciate if one looks for it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bunnies at Dusk

I'm joining Little Red Schoolhouse for Mosaic Monday. Join the party!

For a week I have been walking down the lane at dusk to get a picture of the rabbits that feed there every evening. They would hear me coming and run, or a car would drive by. Tonight after tiptoeing quietly, I was successful. In fact the bunnies were relaxing and posed for me. Aren't they cute?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stressful Days

It is hard to stay upbeat when one is living with uncertainty. We made the decision to leave Virginia and buy a house with our daughter and son-in-law. I posted about the purchase of the house in Connecticut in March. We are planning to have so much fun! Next thing to do was start moving and list our Virginia house with a realtor. On the first trip north with the UHaul Mr. B injured his leg on the truck step and required 35 stitches. After two months his leg has healed!

In the meantime we accepted an offer on our house. The would-be-buyers have been very demanding and keep threatening to back out every time they can. We have agreed to all their demands and now one more thing has come up. This is so very stressful. No plans can be made and we sit here awaiting developments. This is after already postponing our move for the two month healing time.

My craft room has been packed and moved. Half the kitchen is moved. We are having to eat our popcorn out of pots because the bowls are gone. I had to mix a cake by hand and bake it in a broiler pan because I moved all my equipment, never dreaming I would be here in VA so long.

I have nothing to do every day but lie in the hammock and read. That may sound good to you but after two months even that gets old! I'm reading a book and a half a day! The stories are starting to blend together. It is too hot to take more than short walks.

I'm eager to start decorating the house in Connecticut. All four children will be home for Christmas and I want it to be perfect. After this small Virginia cottage we will have all the space we need in the new 4200 sq ft house.

And all my surplus furniture (yes there is lots!) is in the garage in Connecticut. Some of the boxes in the garage have been packed since we left Cooperstown, NY fourteen years ago! Haven't had space for it all since then. Cooperstown was also a 4200 sq ft house. When we closed our two furniture stores there was furniture left over. And the ironic thing? The new house has lots of windows, walls of closets and very little wall space for furniture placement. I love furniture and now have room for very little of it. And I have to clear the garage for use before the snow falls!

Mr. B and I have tried to just enjoy this quiet time. But now my patience has run out.

This is a picture of Paws, one of our four cats. Added to all the other worries is that my daughter has seen a fox or coyote in the yard several times in the afternoon. I'm afraid to let the cats out in the yard when we move but they are used to being outside. What to do?
I'm wondering what kind of fence could keep cats in.

It seems like I'm just one big worry these days! Trying hard to keep my sense of humor but failing some days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nature Collage from my Yard

Every time I walk out the back door I think I can't find anything to photograph. I have been over this territory a thousand times. And yet, I do find something special like the sun highlighting this fern frond, or the large spider on a leaf.

There were a few of these flowers along my lane and this decomposing mushroom in my front yard. So I will keep going out with my camera in the territory around my house. You never know what you will find.

I am joining Little Red House for Mosaic Monday and some fantastic photographs.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Quirky Cat

This is my cat Paws, named by my children because he has extra toes which make his front paws look like catchers' mitts. To say he is quirky is an understatement. He is the only one of my four cats who likes to lie on this too-small table for extra attention.

He really like it best when Mr. B puts his hand on the table to act as a pillow. He makes that table look pretty comfy, doesn't he?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Living in the Woods

You can see how much in the woods we live. This shot is of the back of our house.

Doesn't the house look inviting at twilight with the light beckoning? We added the boardwalk so we could go from the driveway into the kitchen and not have any stairs. It's a nice place to stand, lean on the railing and watch the wildlife.

The other side of the house faces the front yard. Check out the sidebar (Our Cottage in the Woods) for a picture from the front. Looking at these pictures, the right end is all glass and faces the lake. That is where the hammock (see my header) hangs on the porch and is the place to be on a lazy summer day with the ceiling fan stirring up a breeze. I must have read a thousand books while lying in that hammock. You can see the hammock through the glass. That is how Mr. B keeps track and knows when I need a snack or a glass of lemonade or another book.

Usually there are several cats sharing the porch. I've had a hummingbird buzz my head, a bird light on the end of the hammock and a squirrel stand on the railing two feet away and study me.

On July 4th, we stood on the porch and watched the fireworks display over the lake. We had to look through the trees but we could even see the reflections in the water.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Butterfly Collage

Please join Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Here is my offering for this Monday. This butterfly posed so nicely for me that I was able to shoot many photos. You'll be seeing more of him/her in other posts. I love the way his shadow shows through the leaf!
Just click on the photo for a closer look.

This yellow begonia is my favorite flower of the summer. It is blooming in a planter on the railing of my deck. It survived being dug up twice by the resident raccoon.

Since I have not been very happy with my other mosaics made with Picasa, I put this one together by layering these photos onto a background in Photoshop Elements.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dogwood in the Spotlight

This is my entry for Macro Flowers Saturday. I took the photo this spring as I was walking around Gordonsville, Virginia.

I love the way this blossom seems to be in the spotlight. You can see the texture of the petals and the shadow of the flower center. Click on the picture to see a real close up.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Favorite Stump

Does anyone else have a favorite stump? This is very near the end of my back walk at the edge of the woods. I first noticed it last summer when it was this brilliant shade of orange.

Here it is during the winter. The orange is not quite as bright.

Here is the stump this summer. Notice how the color has changed and there is now some green on it. And a Virginia Creeper has taken hold.
I'm joining Claudia at Dipity Road for Finding Beauty Friday. Beauty can be found in some unusual places, even an old stump.