Monday, October 17, 2016

Ponds and peacocks

After a weekend of on and off storms, I took advantage of a lull to take a walk after lunch today. This time, because more clouds were edging in from the southwest, I opted for a shorter route along the ponds on the opposite side of the road.

There's a cool viewing platform that I discovered last week, almost right across the street. No wildlife close enough to photography today, but this was the view as I walked back towards the road. I like that it feels like nature back in there, even though it's surrounded by civilization.

From the road, looking back. Not spectacular by any means, but nice to have in the neighborhood. If nothing else, it means fewer big, ugly apartment buildings can go up around here, and that's a very good thing.

From the new bike bridge that crosses the ponds heading east. A good encapsulation of the weather today. Blue skies above, various clouds all around, including those nasty dark ones. More of those were heading up from behind.

The new table in my house. I could lower both sides and make it even more narrow, but there is plenty of room for this and it looks so much nicer. Nice little bargain, this.

It needs some kind of fun and whimsical shawl or other fabric to drape over it, but in the meantime this napkin will do. At least it has colors that I like.

Can't tell from the photo that it needs a little help in the paint department, but it does. If not all over, then at least here and there.

Finally have a place to put this peacock, too. Back in May, when my roommate and I were both moving out of the place in the south hills, I gleaned this from her 'donate' pile of stuff. I don't know its origin, but I love its colorful, whimsical character. I like having it where I can see it.

So that's about it for my day. The clouds have gotten closer as I've been writing this and I wouldn't be surprised to hear thunder in a bit.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The winds of winter

This almost looks like a painting. In reality, it's a photo taken yesterday by Brian Davies, our local newspaper photog whose work I idolize. He called it 'before a parade of storms blows all the autumn out of town'. And the winds definitely came in late yesterday afternoon and overnight. Nice that he preserved this so we can remember what it was starting to look like. I guess I especially like this because when I lived in Eugene last time, I lived on the top floor of that building on the left, with the blue-green roofs. I lived on the backside, facing east, which gave me wonderful sunrises and moonrises. I probably loved that place as much as -- maybe more than -- anyplace I ever lived and if I could afford it, would be back there in a heartbeat.

Another photo from Davies from yesterday. Both of these were sent out via twitter, which is how I managed to steal them. I just love the guy's work, what can I say.

Not a lot going on in my world, I guess. Rain -- for days now, and for days to come -- but that's life in Oregon and it beats hell out of drought. I still get out and walk in it, as most of the time it's just gentle rain or drizzle, rarely heavy and rarely wind-driven.

Yesterday I walked around and ended up with about 20 new earthworms for my garden. That's always a bonus. I should have plenty of them come spring, assuming they stick around all winter.

And, yesterday I finally found a small dropleaf table so I can actually have a place to sit and eat when I have someone over for dinner. It's a very old, but very sturdy, gate-leg style that's painted white over a lot of rough paint underneath. But it works. Takes up very little space but opens up easily when needed. I'm thinking I'd like to do some serious sanding all over during the winter, then repaint so it looks a bit better. I like painted and old, but this is not charming 'painted and old', it's rather sloppy 'painted and old'. What the heck -- it'll give me something to do. Just need to hit up Home Depot for some heavy-duty sandpaper and a drop-cloth to make clean up easier. Soon.

Still working on my sourdough focaccia recipe, learning the foibles of my particular sourdough starter (it is a very active starter!) and how to get it to come out right. I've made three now, and am making good progress. Will try again next week and see if what I learned this week helps. Friends enjoy these experiments, as I pass the focaccia around to welcoming hands.

So I guess that's it for now. Happy autumn, everybody.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Waldo Lake

Once again, my old friend showed me yet another spectacular spot in the Oregon Cascades. There seems to be an endless number of them.

This is Waldo Lake, Oregon's second largest, very deep, and so pure and clean that you can see the bottom 100' away in its deeper parts. And you have to get out there using paddles, wind power or an electric motor, so it's not defiled. No fossil-fuel powered boats allowed.

What I find interesting is that this same friend took me on a hike to the top of that mountain to the left many years ago and we looked down upon this lake. It was pretty spectacular from there, too.

This first cove we visited was so spectacular that I took a lot of photos. You can see how clear the water is, with the different colors and the lake bottom. Aside from a yappy dog and some noisy kids, it was a pretty serene spot. We sat here for quite awhile. Surprisingly warm, quite sunny, but winter will reach this altitude (5000') before you know it.

At another part of the lake, lots of folks getting ready to head off with their kayaks. How we wanted to go with them! Notice the snow-capped peak in the distance, which I believe is Diamond Peak. You can see the air flow of wind on the main lake in the distance, but this cove continued off to the right and it was calm and perfect for kayaking.

The same view, but I couldn't resist because I love the deep blues in this shot.

A shadowed information sign, should anyone be interested. Note all the hiking trails around this lake -- about 25 miles around, plus there's a spot off a trail somewhere that's considered the source of the Willamette River, although that flow comes from this lake so it seems to me that the lake is the source.

This last place we stopped was pretty much more of the same -- beautiful blue water, lots of big fir trees -- other than this colorful spot at the tip of a little peninsula.

On the road driving from the lake back to main highway. A much better view of Diamond Peak.

I've been griping about not having a photo editor for this computer yet, but today I'm much more relaxed about that. Lacking that ability to crop photos has simply taken me back to the many years I used a film camera loaded with color slide film. In slides, cropping isn't possible unless you make a print, so you have to learn to frame the photos the way you want them. I kind of like going back to that as it's a place I'm really comfortable, even though it takes a few more moments to get it right. And of course, I've never manipulated my photos other than cropping, straightening if necessary. I like real photos better than manipulated photos, any day of the week. I know that goes against the current trends -- and I don't care.

Friday, October 7, 2016

This love/hate relationship with computers

Love 'em when they're working right, hate'em when I have to deal with issues (particularly if those issues involve contacting/talking to/chatting with anybody from a software or hardware manufacturer). Sigh.

The new computer arrived yesterday and I got it set up and the Carbonite restore download started. That took until sometime during the night last night. Then, issues around two of the more important files: Firefox bookmarks and Quicken data. Had to go back onto the Carbonite server to download the right Quicken data (an old file opened initially, and it was really, really wrong). Then had to deal with Carbonite to have them help locate the Firefox file. Somebody had helped me with this yesterday but had apparently led me to the wrong file, because the place where today's tech found them is not where I was taken to yesterday.  Now all seems to be here and be right. And if it's not, I'll live without it.

Had issues activating the new MS Office that was pre-installed. Couldn't read the product key because there was a little silver MS sticker over part of it. Got on chat with MS, dude was useless. Tried Dell, and that guy was helpful. Asked if I'd scratched the sticker off -- well, duh! Nothing was said in instructions about a scratch-off sticker, and it looked like a regular sticker to me. Anyway -- with the right info that worked, too. As far as I know, that's all that's left to do. I hope.

I do need a cheap photo editor, because the old one I have would not open on this computer, even though it worked on the last one with the same OS. Windows tells me this time that it is 'incompatible', and it's pointless to argue with Windows. In the meantime, I won't be able to edit any new photos I might take. Alas.

So aside from all that, I rather like the computer. It's small -- quite compact. Fast (much faster than any I've ever owned) and is easy to use.  I think I'm going to try to re-install the software on the computer that died -- just for the hell of it. Can't lose anything. That will tell me if there was indeed a software issue, and from there I can figure out the rest of it (such as a new video card?). It may be worth saving -- we'll see.

Rain/sunshine continues here. I get a good walk in most days, rain or shine. Helps work off some of the frustration that comes from dealing with computers!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Worms in the rain

Rains, it seems, bring out the worms. Not a newsflash -- have seen worms crawling the sidewalks after rains many times over the years. But, turns out that they're pretty easy to catch and relocate to my garden while they are crossing the pavement.

Came home from a walk on Sunday and noticed a bunch of them on one particular part of a river-access path nearby. Without a container, I kept them in one hand and picked others up with the other hand. Put them in the garden. Then, after being home awhile, I kept thinking about all those worms and went back armed with a small yogurt cup and some garden soil. Made a big score, that time! I'm guessing I had in total 3-4 dozen worms of all sizes after that.

Lots of good rain overnight again, so I went back this morning. Not as big a haul, but still over a dozen, I'd say. Since it was time to add more kitchen scraps to the garden, I dug down below the soil surface in the one square I've been using for such things, and it was filled with worms. Happy-looking worms. I'd intentionally put them on top of that square knowing they'd have easy access to all the food beneath them. So they were carefully moved aside with the soil and then gently moved back over the new scraps and soil, along with all the new worms. Then, since I'd filled that square, I topped it off with some cardboard and put the heavy planter on top. I have one more empty square but this time I'll dig the hole deeper and wider to start with, so I can hopefully add more scraps than the first one held. I'll keep looking for worms after rain, too. Might as well add to the stash!

The garden 'babies' are growing like gangbusters in this weather. I may need to harvest some of the lettuce leaves soon.

Computer due tomorrow, and none too soon. This one works just fine, but is nothing like a newer one plus this browser isn't great for XP. I think that' where some of the delays come from. But since there's really nothing I can do with it other than online, that's where I need it to work.

Not much to write about, though I do get excited about worms, of all things.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Computers and sourdough

I've lived enough years that I'm able to clearly see trends in my life. One thing I have noticed for many a long year is that when things are going too smoothly, watch out! Because something is going to come along to put in kink in the smooth ride. I'd actually not thought about that during the recent smooth ride.

Then yesterday, my computer up and died. Supposedly a display driver issue, but all in all it wasn't something I felt able to handle on my own so I called a tech place and someone came here at 3pm. Poor guy spent an hour and a half working at it, but nothing he did helped. Windows was confused and stubborn, which didn't help. It crashes because 'a problem has been detected and the computer shut down to prevent damage' and specifically refers to a display driver issue. And the screen is all messed up.  But when you get into the display driver to upgrade, it says no upgrade is needed, that I'm running the latest version (not true!), and that there are no problems. He managed to download the newest version but good old Windows wouldn't let him install it because it said again that I was running the latest version. And on and on. To make a long story short, it was going to take a good bit of time for someone (not him, seemingly) to dig inside and see if the card might be bad, or what was going on. And other issues. Even he agreed that buying a new computer would be a better use of money than putting it into tech repair time. And possibly expensive components. So he left, and being a good guy who bases his charges on performance, he didn't charge me a penny because he didn't solve the problem.

So anyway. By this morning I did some digging and ended up with a Dell that looks to work just fine for my minimal needs, at a reasonable price. I let it sit on the screen for a few hours, thinking about it, before finally pulling the trigger. It's a desktop, which is all I need now. Should arrive next week sometime. But I really didn't want to spend money on a computer right now.

In the meantime, I'm using this 14-year-old Dell laptop that I keep as a backup. It's slow, and runs XP, but I'm glad to have it. And it keeps on working.....

I've been itching to make something yummy with my sourdough starter, so last night I mixed up some dough for a focaccia and let it ferment overnight. By 4am I was awake, as usual, decided to get up and check it out, see if it was ready to bake or could last awhile longer. Decided it was ready to go and I didn't want to over-ferment and have it flop. Had to run out to my garden spot at 4:30am to pick some rosemary for the topping. Got it baked and it is so good! Have given about half of it to a friend, have eaten a good bit of it myself. It's addictive. Rosemary, garlic, olive oil and salt. What's not to like?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New toy

I have a new toy that I absolutely love! Bluetooth headphones for my TV, that allow me to actually hear what's being said without turning the TV up so loud that it would disturb neighbors. Not to mention that it's stereo and has so much better sound than the speakers on the TV.  They also blot out lots of the outside traffic noise in the process.

It also allows me to go into other rooms, use the kitchen, and even sit here at the computer while listening to what's happening on TV. Useful mostly for news programs, of course, but also for other programs that don't require video in order to follow what's happening.

I ordered this 15 days ago and it took Amazon that long to deliver the last component needed to make this possible. It finally arrived yesterday. My TV isn't equipped with Bluetooth so I not only needed the headphones, I needed a transmitter plus a $3 connector to adapt the two-prong stereo audio output on the TV to a single prong so it would connect to the transmitter. That little $3 connector is the thing that took over 2 weeks to arrive. Ridiculous! But, after hooking it up, it took seconds for the transmitter and phones to connect and I used it all evening and am using it now in the early morning. I'm going to have to take it off and recharge both the headphones and transmitter before using them again this evening. Don't really need them during the day.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Great Blue Heron, with real camera

This is what somebody with a real camera can do with the herons around here! Yes, I definitely have camera envy. This guy was captured along the river a couple of days ago by our local newspaper photographer Brian Davies, who is in my mind as splendid a photog as I've ever encountered. I follow him on twitter just to see thing like this that he tweets. Awesome!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Early morning walk, ponds, birds and river

I have a new favorite walk around here, as of yesterday. I've walked it once before, but yesterday I realized how much more scenic it is than the other 'around the block' walk, even though it has more frontage on the main drag out front.

The difference is that it takes me past several of the Delta Ponds with all their bird life. I was walking along the main drag this morning en route to the first pond and path leading to the river when this big boy flew up squawking from the pond across the street and landed in a nearby tree.

The sun was just starting to crest the big trees along the eastern horizon, so the lighting was interesting -- some large shadowed areas and some bright sunlit areas. And lots of herons this morning! I never get tired of them though there are many around here and they are a common sight.

As I rounded the corner of the above shot and got a different viewpoint of that pond, the heron flew away and joined another at some distance. Sure wish I had a better camera, but it is what it is and it's better than nothing.

I love the way the ponds look in the morning or evening light. Dramatic and beautiful.

A different pond where the sun has not yet reached. A couple of egrets fishing there. Wish I'd gotten more of the reflection, but these are long zoom shots and I'm lucky to hold the camera still enough to get anything at that distance. It's pretty, anyway.

Serene and pretty out there this morning, looking west across the ponds to where the sun is hitting the trees.  There's an egret off the right above a horizontal branch, barely noticeable.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly, considering the people of Eugene) there was a lot of foot and even bike traffic out there this morning at 7:30!

Yet another pond, further down the path.  This fellow was being an excellent subject, standing still as I clicked away. Still zoom, still hand-held, still not crisp, but it's the best I can do with what I have to work with. And most importantly, it's fun for me to do.

Lots of noisy, smaller birds flying around making loud noises. One landed near me briefly, long enough to see that it was a kingfisher. Another was white and seemed to be screeching 'kildeer'.

Early morning light makes such interesting patterns and colors. As you may or may not know, I never manipulate or enhance colors or other effects of my photos. At the most, I crop to get a better composition. This color is what I saw, as the still waters along the river turned into ripples. Pretty awesome, and even better when you can watch the water move in its undulating way.

So that was my morning walk. So grateful to have all this in my backyard, literally.

After almost a month I've finally found something I really don't like about this place. And that is the touchy and loud smoke detectors. The place has industrial models that flash and screech enough to wake the dead in any direction. I sometimes here them from other apartments, so I know I'm not the only one with the issue. This morning I was baking a biscuit, and it went off 4-5 times during the 15 minutes that took. And there was no smoke! I opened the window and even cracked the door to the hallway. Does not bode well for baking!

Happy day, everyone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Finally! A veggie garden

So we have progress in the garden! The last two bags of soil brought the level up enough for now, though once it settles I'll need to add a top dressing for spring planting.

For now, we've gone from a hole in the ground to a veggie bed. In the foreground with red leaves, beets. Would have bought more, but since they were larger plants, they were pricier. Then we have romaine lettuce, swiss chard, and spinach. Not a lot, but the pickin's were slim. Lots of good greens in my future. Just took this photo this morning, and while most of the plants have perked up nicely overnight, a few are still wimpy. Hopefully, they'll all perk up soon. The netting is to keep the squirrels out, since they'd happily dig these seedlings up to hide their acorns.

This gorgeous dahlia is still on it's stem. So beautiful! For perspective, check the next photo. The flower is the width of my spread hand, about 6 inches!

So for now, the heavy work in the garden is done. There will still be coddling of these baby plants, certainly. But no more digging or moving heavy bags of soil/compost around. The weather the next few days is cool, which will be perfect for them.