Friday, April 30, 2010

Manual Focus

I am puttering in the yard and garden more this year than in recent years, so my eye is continually drawn to the emerging shapes and blooms. I was finding that my camera/lens combination was having a difficult time auto-focusing on the correct details of plants when I wanted close ups. Popping the camera to manual focus was the clear answer. It took a second or so longer for the first shot, but there was seldom a need for a second.


There is something about the shape of an opening fern that pleases me at some deep level. I suspect it is the obvious recognition of the Fibonacci number made manifest.

Here is a shot of my black trillium. This one also delights me. It took several years to bloom, but has been hardy. This year, like last, it has two blooms.


Here is a link to the SLIDE SHOW of these recent Garden Square images so that they can be viewed in a larger, more juicy size. The newest ones are up front.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

First Steps

A bunch of acquaintances have been murmuring about introducing change into their lives. For some it is a vow to beat the bulge and get fit again, while for others it is adding a new hobby or skill, or a transition from student to bona fide employment.

Having done steps like that myself, some successfully and some less so, I find I have spent a lot of time thinking about first steps.

The First Step

Often, taking the first step is the most important. It must be bold and decisive or there will be no second step. I find that once underway, my new path does not go exactly where I thought, but rather it tends to go where I need it to go. Learning to trust my judgment was important, as was training myself to have good judgment by second-guessing myself to root out self-deception; separating wants from needs. Too, there sometimes comes a time to say "That was a bad decision." and let it go so that I can move on. I maybe have to eat some humble pie or acknowledge that I wasted time or money, and that has become OK. I can accept that I make mistakes. And too, often those mistakes point me in a different, more directionally correct way. As Thomas Edison said about invention, "I didn't fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.”

So be bold. Take that first step with courage and conviction. Begin the thousand-mile journey. Just doing nothing gets you nowhere. All this reminds me of another quote. "Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated; you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps." ~David Lloyd George

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday in MadCity

I had a pretty interesting weekend. Saturday was the Crazylegs Run, an annual event named for a former UW Athletic Director known here primarily for two things; his crazy running style, and raising typical attendance at UW football games from 43,000 to 70,000 in four years. Somewhere around 20,000 people were out and about, either running in the race or enjoying the Farmer's Market.


After shooting a LOT of pics of the racers, I too wandered around the market a bit, enjoying the produce, plant seedlings, and victuals available. Of course the people watching is my primary sport!


Getting a bit chilly, I then popped into a local coffee shop for a cuppa and a cookie. I spent a bit of time reviewing and deleting photos while they were still in-camera. From there I decided the overcast, drizzly weather might make for some good pics at Olbrich Gardens. Mostly I was right...


For dinner I met some like-minded folks to talk about part of our local dance community. We mused, pondering both the past and possible futures, and settled on a couple of small things we can do to create a more welcoming experience for newcomers. It was an enjoyable couple of hours spent in good company.

There are a bunch more photos of the day at my Flickr site for the date.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Better Pond Pics

I thought that yesterday's pond efforts deserved a nicer photo than the ones I posted yesterday. Try these instead:



And here is a SLIDE SHOW with more pics from the yard. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Annual Mucking Out of the Pond

Today was a spring cleaning sort of day. Not in the house, but in the yard. It was my annual Mucking Out of the Pond day. Mmmm. Ponder the effect of a significant quantity of maple leaves and other organic detritus steeping like a malodorous tea all fall, winter, and early spring. Now imagine bailing it (it's small, 4'x6'x1' or about 150 gallons) by hand with a 5-gallon bucket. I used the 'tea' to water all the other plants in the back yard. Stinky, but fecund. Once bailed and mucked, I could start filling it.

Ah, problem. The outside faucet was FUBAR, and pumping water at a trickle. It's an expensive back-pressure (now required by building code) faucet that lasted about 12 years (as opposed to the prior one that lasted about 60 years) and I did NOT want to pay $275 for a new one, plus the frustration of the labor. Fortunately the failed part was easily accessible and a trip to the hardware store and a $20 bill solved the problem. I ran the hose and started filling. Now to reinstall the pump for the waterfall.

Ah, problem. Over the years the impeller had stripped and needed replacing. The identifying sticker was long gone so I had quite the hunt to track down the correct part (Thanks to ESupply Depot for all the assistance!). It was easily replaced. Now I noted that the filter material was missing. Hmmm, I must have bailed it. I hunted under all the new growth looking for it. I found about a third of it. It was clearly shot. I noted that it looked a lot like a shredded Scotch Brite pad. I had a Scotch Brite pad. Duly shredded, it was pressed into duty. Once the water level was high enough, I plugged in the pump and held my breath...


Houston, we have waterfall! I topped the water level off and pulled up a chair to bask in the sun and enjoy the splishing of the water and the renewed excitement of the birds as they rediscovered the fresh water.


All said, it was a productive 3 hours or so. I really enjoy listening to the waterfall, especially at night as we are falling asleep with the windows open (maybe not this week as the overnight temps are still in the mid-thirties (F)). It is twilight, and I just let the cat into the back yard and delighted at the sight and sound of the functional pond. Maybe I will even throw some fish in there again this year. Generally the crows and raccoons eat them, but hey! Everyone has to eat.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

East Gallery

Our route back to the car yesterday took us through the state capitol building. Normally gorgeous, this time happened to be graced with a delightful bathing of light in the East Gallery.


I happened to have my Nikon D40 with me, with the 18-55 MM kit lens on it. It's been a while since I used the kit lenses, so I was curious to see what I could capture with them. The prior post images about Farmers and Buskers were also shot with that setup.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Farmers and Buskers

Today was the opening day of our weekly Farmer's Market, held around the square that defines the state capitol's grounds. It being a sunny spring day, the masses were out in huge numbers. Too soon for much fresh produce, there were lots of vendors selling food and flowers, though there were some early greens for sale: Spinach, leeks, garlic and such.


In perfect timing, the tulips surrounding the entrances to the capitol were in full, riotous bloom. It was simply gorgeous.


Also today, the Madison Literary Council had organized a fund raising event, and on each corner of State Street there were musicians busking for tips, all of which went to the MLC. A pretty cool ides, and the crowds seemed willing to play along. Reena's cohorts in the form of their band, al Khemia, played at the corner of State and Dayton, collecting $62 in the hour they were there. If others did similarly it was a pretty good event for the organization.


It was a pretty good day all around. There are more photos in a SLIDE SHOW, in a larger format for your viewing pleasure.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Photocopying, Spring

After helping my sister move some furniture this morning, Reena wanted to stop at Kinkos to do some photocopying. It being a beautiful day, and having my trusty D40 with me, I opted to remain outside and see what there was to see.


There were flowers blooming that I didn't have in my yard so I snapped away. After getting a few good ones, we returned home and I prowled my own yard finding some new spring beauty there.


As I photographed I had this phrase "garden squares" pop into my head, and so I decided to crop the set into squares. It was fun to play with the composition, both in the camera - knowing I was going to crop - and on the computer as I looked at each one I had taken. There were a couple that were simply not good candidates for a square crop, so I left them as is.


Follow the link to see the entire small batch as a SLIDE SHOW in much larger size. It is worth the minute.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Take that, Winter!

Three days ago Nature handed us one of those reminders that here in Wisconsin, Winter does not let go easily. After a particularly lovely March, and a pretty balmy start to April, Winter said, "Ha!"

Winter's Not Letting Go

There were some stunned plants in the yard, looking both ravaged and beautiful in their rime.

Winter's Not Letting Go

Winter's Not Letting Go

By yesterday, Spring had fired back and let Winter know that she was not to be held at bay. A day and a half of nice soaking rain followed by sunshine and temperatures in the 50's (F) made for delicious conditions for puttering in the yard, puttering with motorcycles (and going for a ride, natch!), and generally enjoying the daffodils and jonquils.


Today seems to be aiming a bit warmer, and still sunny. I think I will separate some hosta, work some compost into the forthcoming veggie garden, and maybe disappear into the afternoon sun on a bike. Spring...Ahhh!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Last Saturday night was Carnaval in Madison. The Brasilian equivalent of Mardi Gras, Carnaval is normally celebrated 40 days before Easter as a blow-out party prior to Lent. For a variety of reasons, the party at the High Noon Saloon was postponed until the night before Easter.

Carnaval! at the High Noon Saloon

It was a fabulous night, with demonstrations of capoeira, dancing by Samba de Roda, and then non-stop Brasilian music from The Samba Novistas (they play every Monday night at 8:30 at The Frequency, opening for Clyde Stubblefield), Groupo Balanca, and crowned by a dynamic series of Brasilian music styles from The Handphibians joined by Massamba Dance.

Carnaval! at the High Noon Saloon

The crowd, seemingly at capacity for the venue, appeared to have a great time and didn't thin until closing time drew nigh. Club owner Cathy Dethmers had traditional Brasilian drinks - caipirinhas and mojitos - flowing because she is smart enough to have the limes and sugar muddled in bulk ahead of time (A+ for professional wisdom!).

Carnaval! at the High Noon Saloon

If you missed it, too bad for you. Just stay tuned and keep an ear out for Summer Samba Fest sometime in August. If I have my dates right, The Handphibians will also be playing at the Memorial Union Terrace on May 28th, for free!

Here is a link to a SLIDE SHOW of about 40 of the 530 photos I took that night. Enjoy...

Boa noite e sonhos felizes!

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Leashed in the East

The cat - Captain Hook - has rediscovered spring with a vengeance. He wants to be outside all the time, and takes it as a personal betrayal when we open the door to show him it is raining.


Yesterday during some breaks in the rain we made sure he got out for a bit.


He still does not understand the leash all that well, but it has only been 12 years (we acquired him when he was between 3-5 years old, so he is now 15-17). Maybe this year he will figure it out?

UPDATE: Didn't hear it start to rain this afternoon. Soggy kitty was trying futilely to hide under a daffodil. Oops! He got towel-dried and a bit of chow to keep the inner fire burning.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

With Liberty and Justice...

Since there is an election today, it seemed like a good time to post these four images from inside the state Capitol.





You did vote today, right? Anticipated turnout is a maximum of 11 percent.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Daffy Days

Last night I noted that my daffodils were poised to open. Today, almost all of them were in bloom.

Daffy 1

This is Wisconsin, however, and it is not only possible, but likely that we will get more snow before winter gives up completely. In the meantime, we celebrate every bloom!

Daffy 2

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