PANASONIC LUMIX DMC FZ1000 – Marilyn Armstrong

I got a new Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ1000 (25 – 400mm). I got it at a good price.

I’m pretty sure it’s a great camera, except it isn’t at all what I thought it would be. I expected it to be pretty much an upgraded version of the DMC FZ300 — which was an upgrade to the FZ200.

But it’s something else and I’m not entirely sure what.

It’s got a whole new plethora of things it can do, most of which I didn’t know cameras could do.

So last night, while “Singing in the Rain” was playing the TV, I was doing what I usually do with a new camera, especially those which come with either none or entirely useless manuals.

I was taking pictures of anything on which I could focus. While exploring the whole focusing issue — which in this camera is significantly more complicated than I’ve ever seen — I found something called “point focus.”

“I wonder,” I said to myself, “What this can do.” So I flicked it on and aimed it at Gibbs who was sitting in the middle of the sofa. This was our living room in television mode. Meaning there’s almost no light except for the TV and two 40-watt lamps at opposite sides of the room.

The computer (I mean camera, but maybe I really mean the camera’s computer) narrowed in Gibb’s nose, enlarged the area, focused and told me it was going silent because dogs don’t like noise. How did it know I was shooting a dog?

I took a few pictures. They came out  — well, you tell me. Not bad, considering Gibbs was moving, the light was low, and the lens is only f2.8.

The camera then gave me a little onscreen lecture about — I kid you not — babies, dogs and camera noise — and how you should set your camera on silent when shooting them. Also when you are in a place where you don’t want them to notice you.

In slightly better light

Who knows what other secrets it holds?

Stay tuned.

WHICH WAY ON THE WATER – Garry Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

You wouldn’t think a marina would be much of a place to walk, but you’d be wrong. There are dozens of piers and decks and companionways everywhere you look.

Even if you never leave the marina, there are a lot of ways to go! We had a perfect summer’s day — which was, coincidentally, the first day of summer … and a stunning sunset that literally wrapped around the entire sky, gold in the east and pink-purple in the west.

On and off the pier
After you leave the pier, it’s travel by water.
And at the end of the dock, there’s the dinghy …
Marilyn on the boat and Tom on the companionway. Very tall steps and then, there’s the little plank to walk.
Almost dark over the pier
Eastern end of the marina just after dark

GOLDEN TREES AND THE ROAD HOME – CEE’S WHICH WAY PHOTOS – Garry & Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

I had forgotten about these pictures. I have never seen this happen to trees, but something was going on with the sun filtering through the clouds and the naked trees. It was a year ago last March. I never did anything with the pictures.

Full golden trees
Sky and almost home – Route 146

Last night, I wanted to use one of them and realized my processing had advanced a great deal since I’d taken the pictures. I went back and realized most of them had never been processed at all.

Almost the end of the road and nearly night – I think maybe Garry really took this one. Usually, we use different cameras, so it’s easy to tell, but this time, we were sharing one.
Golden trees while coming home

Most (not all, but most) were taken through the window of the car, so they were a bit distorted from that. A few were taken when we got off route 146 and were only a mile from home.

We parked as soon as we exited Rt. 146 and we started handing the camera back and forth. I think I took this one, but it might have been Garry.
This was when I realized the light was doing something amazing to the trees. I took all the shots through the car window because Garry was driving. We pulled off as soon as we could safely do so.

So all of these are from the same drive. The gold in the trees was a natural thing and had something to do with the color of the clouds, which were quite dark. It was also just about the vernal equinox when the colors seem strange and we have the most exciting sunrises and sunsets.

Garry shot this of the overpass over Chocolog Road.
Route 146 crossing Chocolog Road in Uxbridge

I have never seen the sun do this to the trees before or since. No idea what happened, but I’m very glad I was able to catch it on camera. I should mention that no amount of sharpening makes the trees look normal. It was a play of light and the branches seem to be glowing.

Bridge and the fading light

Also, notice that the trees have no leaves. The glow around them makes them look like they have leaves, but other than fir trees, everything is bare.

NOT MUCH OF A GARDEN OUTSIDE BUT … Marilyn Armstrong

I finally nudged my Christmas cactus to blooming in March. Now, I’m pleased to announce — I did it again!

Yes, indeed. I brought it back to budding and life. 

It’s the old “starve it then feed it” thing. You have to let it sort of almost die, then bring it back. 

You have to be really careful with your timing because if you let it go too long … even one day too long … you really will kill the plant.

But I’ve been practicing this for a long time and I think I’ve got it. Here are the pictures. 

FLOWERS OF MY DAY AND PROBABLY MY MONTH

It is still snowing.

We had crocuses. I saw them between snows. But it’s cold and snowing again, so I’m not optimistic about their survival. And anyway, their time is just about over. Thus, I am happy to have a bouquet. At least there are colors in it.

Astroemeria

Flowers from my birthday bouquet. Or, more to the point … the end of my flowers. The golden-yellow flowers are astroemeria (Thank you Judy!)

Blue (almost turquoise) daisy (hint of chrysanthemum below)

And of course the blue ones are daisies. The green is eucalyptus and if you take it out of the water, it dries out and you can store it more or less forever.

 

THE STORM ENDS AND CLEANUP BEGINS

MORE THEN MERELY MESSY


All that drenching rain came pouring out of the skies — and it wasn’t the first time in the past couple of weeks, either. What had remained of grass in the front of the house  was just dried or almost dried mud. When these rains came, it washed the mud down from the upper lawn and turned the sidewalk into a mess of oozy brown mud.

Many leaves will fall!

It’s pretty awful out there. Drying out as we speak, but what to do?

Between two old and broken backs and arthritis crawling into every part of two skeletons, it’s hard to figure how we will get it cleaned up. It’s not like the dogs … who think layers of dirt are just fine, thank you … are likely to help. Right now, the yard is exactly the way they like it. There are fallen branches and twigs everywhere plus all the leaves that fell after last fall’s cleanup.

Our leaves are a three-stage process. During the early Autumn days, the maple leaves fall first. As soon as the color fades, they come down like rain into giant leafy drifts. Owen usually cleans them up. He has a machine to do that and it helps.

The storm of yesterday

The next wave of falling leaves consist of half the oaks, as well as the sassafras, any remaining maples, and the few other deciduous trees such as the Catalpa. Owen gets them, too, or most of them. There are always a few which are missed.

Finally, there are the leaves we don’t collect because they hang on the limbs until winter. Some don’t fall until the following spring. The last, late oak leaves don’t drop until late November or December. No one cleans them up because there is usually snow on the ground by then. There are — I don’t think this is much of an exaggeration — millions of leaves every autumn. Anyone who wanted to live in a woods and thought it would be romantic was right — except that living in a woods gets complicated and often messy.

You can’t leave the sodden leaves rotting against your house because it’s unhealthy for the house. It keeps your foundation damp. Damp foundations are unhappy foundations.

The bed of leaves remaining in what we humorously call “the garden” goes to insulate flowers (and weeds) from the bitter cold. We certainly had a bitterly cold winter. January was one of the coldest months on record. It was so cold, we didn’t get nearly as much snow as usual because when it’s that cold, the air is too dry to make snow.

But then, we moved abruptly — in a matter of hours — from well below freezing into the extremely springlike, mild temperatures. All of February was punctuated by a couple of warm days followed by a couple of bitter days. A bit of snow, a bit more snow, more melting … and deluges of rain.

Window outward

It’s a mess around here and I feel I should shut up about it because however much of a mess we have got, a lot of other people have a lot worse with which to contend. We didn’t lose any trees. Our roof is intact. No cars or people were crushed. We have some small branches and a million twigs everywhere, but no larger life-threatening limbs fell. Something of a minor miracle considering what might well have occurred.

These are the times when being old is a significant deficit. If we had even a little more money — we got whacked last year by the door replacement (Thanks Bob, for the help or we’d never have made it!), the exploded hot water heater (third times the charm?) and adding a stair climber to the steps from the front door to the living room. But to use the climber requires a viable walkway from driveway to door … and right now, we don’t have one. Fortunately, I can still lumber my way up the extra steps from the basement. I notice that Garry is beginning to have trouble with the steps too, these days.

The long driveway when the leaves are (mostly) gone

The great truth is we are not getting younger. Garry is in good shape for a man turning 76, but he is turning 76. He was never handy around the house. That is a kind way of saying that he has never had either interest or aptitude for house stuff. For years, Owen took care of it, but Owen moved out and doesn’t have nearly enough time to take care of it … and Owen himself is eligible for AARP. How time flies!

Withe the failure of our government to support older people both in health care and generally in keeping them from falling below the poverty line, hiring others to do the work isn’t really in the cards. We got a 2% raise in Social Security last year — less than $5 per month per check and of course retirement funds never go up, so whatever you got last year, any inflation means you are that percentage poorer. It is fortunate we don’t eat a lot.

Meanwhile,  I’d like about two weeks of a strong young handy-person to help straighten up the mess. I thought I had one, but he seems to have vanished. It’s possible poverty forced him to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Yellow before red

In the midst of the deluge and hurricane winds of yesterday, the builder came by to look at the problems we are having. We have a window that has sagged and is under the vinyl, obviously rotted out. It will need to be replaced. Whether or not it’s just the window that need replacing or the wall around it also need replacing remains to be seen. Regardless, it has to be fixed. There’s no alternative. We cannot easily extract ourselves from this house. We can’t “keep it up” the way it should be and that saddens me … but we can at least make our best effort to keep it from falling down.

It’s not the “what” of the mess with which we deal. It’s the “how” that’s killing us. Now, I have to call my son and find out where the faucet is in the front of the house. I think it’s buried in leaves near the front door. I hope it is!

 

ANOTHER WORLD – THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

Wherever there is water, there is a tree …

WordPress Photo Challenge: Out of This World


Nothing look more other-worldly to me than the desert. Even when I am there, it all seems unreal to me.

Of strange materials …

From the huge blue dome of the sky, to the rocky ground and the strange trees and cactus, it is another world.

Not far from Phoenix …