Archive for January, 2008

Slowly but Surely …

Here’s an update on how the Amaryllis and the Paperwhites are doing …

The Amaryllis (I planted three) are so sloooooowwww … only one is close to blooming, another is about 6 inches high and the third is just poking the beginnings of a green shoot out of the bulb. The tallest one needs to be turned twice a day – it keeps leaning to the light and is about 18″ high now so looks like the leaning Tower of Pisa if I don’t keep turning it. This is how it looks today … I think it will be the white and pink one …

Amaryllis Jan. 30, 2008

The first of the Paperwhites – four bulbs in the pot – bloomed a few days ago …

Here’s the first ones …

Paperwhites - First bulb to bloom

And now the second bulb has bloomed – two to go yet …

Two Paperwhites

Nice to have flowers blooming in January!!!

I wonder if those big Russian Sunflowers would bloom in the house???

*Chuckle* I would need 20-foot ceilings if they would do as well as the ones I grew two years ago in my garden!

The Old and The New

Had to be downtown today for a meeting at City Hall so decided to visit the lakefront and City Park and see what was happening down there. It was a gorgeous sunny day and was very pleasant – until I stepped out of the van and the nasty cold wind nailed me. The druggies were out in full force getting their fixes where they had a clear view of any cops showing up, but I wasn’t brave enough to shoot pics of any drug deals going down.

The new William R. Bennett Bridge is really coming along and is supposed to be open ahead of schedule (July 1) and under budget. That’s a switch!

Here’s the new bridge – I sure hope they have built in some system for thawing that thing, ’cause it looks mighty steep to me and could sure be a slippery mess in the dead of winter here.

New RJ Bennett Bridge

The old bridge, opened in 1958, has started to crumble and sometimes has huge gaping holes in the concrete. It replaced the ferry that used to move people, vehicles and goods between Kelowna and the west side of the Okanagan Lake. It’s claim to fame is that it is the longest floating bridge in the world (I think) but in North America for sure. The new bridge is also a floating bridge and also will hold some record when it is completed. Here’s the old bridge – the section between the two high things goes up and down to let the sailboats on the lake get to the other side. Then traffic stops until the lift span goes down again. With a gazillion vehicles crossing that bridge every day, there were some mighty ticked off motorists!

Here’s the old bridge:

Old Okanagan Lake Bridge

And a shot of the two of them – the old on the left and the new on the right:

The Old and The New

I also stopped in along the Boardwalk by the Kelowna Yacht Club. Not much happening down there but there were a few brave folks out as well as some ducks and some sailboats:

Sailboats

I am sooooo spoiled …

I have a few obsessions … and not a lot of money to feed them. One of my biggest passions is tools – I have a lot of tools and bits and pieces that go with them. I had them “housed” in about six toolboxes of various styles and sizes, but none very large and all too heavy when I got them loaded.

At work we had some Christmas leftovers that went on sale – and then on sale again, so I whined at the guy who prices them and managed to get myself a super buy – two rolling toolboxes with pull-up handles just like rolling suitcases! What a marvelous invention for someone like me! I paid $20 for one of them and $25 for the other!!! How could I pass that up????

Here’s my new “treasures”:

Toolboxes

Lots of little places for little “Things”:

Lots of little places for little “Things”

More places for little things:

More places for little things

And even a bonus little toolbox inside!!!!!!! Yahoooooo!!!

Bonus toolbox inside!

Now all I gotta do is fill them!

I hate snow and winter

I want to tie a snow shovel to the roof of my van and drive south until somebody asks me what it is …

Snow at 8 a.m.

Snow in the Orchard

Bah Humbug :(

A Birder’s Paradise

One of the reasons I like living in the orchard is because of all the birds that come to my feeders. I have been a bird watcher for many years and am amazed at how happy they always seem to be. Even when they squabble and fight over who gets to eat, they don’t seem to hold grudges. Too bad people couldn’t learn a few lessons from them!

I get a wide variety of birds here. In the winter it’s mainly California quail, finches, sparrows, robins, chickadees and juncos, with the odd magpie thrown in. I have yet to get a decent picture of a magpie – they are like quicksilver when the camera comes out.

In March, the hummingbirds arrive. We get four varieties of hummers here – Calliope, Anna’s, Rufous and Allen’s. I like the Calliope best because they are the tiniest and yet are such great scappers!

Here’s a few of my bird pics – none of them wonderful, but they make me smile when I look at them …

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Finches …

House finch

Finch pair

Sparrows …

Sparrow

Another Sparrow

Yet Another Sparrow
Northern Flicker …

Northern Flicker

California Quail …

California Quail

And my all-time favourite … the Hummingbirds

Female Rufous 1

Male Rufous 1

In Illinois, we had a wonderful tree right outside our office window. Their state bird is the Red Cardinal and we used to get a breeding pair once in a while in the tree.

This is the best I could get of the Red Cardinal …

Cardinal

We also had Blue Jays in that tree …

Blue Jay

Here’s an American Robin …

American Robin

Okay – that’s enough birds for now. Looking at the ones from Illinois is making me sad. Sure do miss my Sweetie.

Hurry Up, Spring!

I am a flower/gardening person. There is a whole lot of satisfaction in planning a garden and growing things. I find winter very depressing because Mother Nature is resting and I need her to be a lot more active – and I don’t mean active as in winter storms!

I want green!!! And I want sunshine, too.

So, to nudge the old girl along, I planted some amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs. They were the kind you get in kits – everything but the water is in the box. These ones had already started to sprout new shoots by the time I bought them, so we had a bit of a head start.

A week later, here’s what they now look like …

This is one of the Amaryllis (I planted three of them) …

Amaryllis

These are the paperwhites …

Paperwhites

One of the reasons I love my job so much is because I get to work in the Garden section. Actually, it’s called “Seasonal”. We just received the first shipment of this year’s seeds and I am busy putting out watering cans and fertilizers, bug catchers and rakes and shovels and pruners.

Roll on, Spring!!!!!!!!!!!

Amish and Cockscombs

Carrying on with my previous mention of the Amish at Arthur IL, I was so impressed with the cleanliness of their properties and by the beauty of their flower gardens. If cleanliness is next to godliness, these people have it down pat!

This photo was taken on Saturday afternoon. Sunday is go-to-meeting-day, so the ladies are out getting things spiffed up – one is washing the buggy and another is doing something inside the garage with the harness – perhaps shining it up?…

Shining Up the Buggy

Their homes were surrounded by the most wonderful flower gardens and I saw one flower they all seemed to grow that I had never seen anywhere before. Later research (and a visit to the Sandwich IL Fall Fair) revealed them to be Cockscomb (Cristata Group) celosia argentea var. cristata. Someday I will plant some of them!

Here’s a shot of one of their flowerbeds along a fenceline …

Cockscomb in Flowerbed

And here’s a pic to show you how big these are … this little girl was about 5 years old for comparison … pic taken at Rockome Gardens, Arthur, IL.

Cockscomb

In many ways I admire, and perhaps even envy, the Amish for their simple lifestyle but I am afraid I probably wouldn’t be able to toe the line about some of their beliefs and customs – and I certainly couldn’t live without my internet!

Here’s an Amish buggy just home from shopping …

Amish Buggy

I’d like to go back to Arthur and perhaps spend some time talking to them. They have wonderful home businesses – cheese, jam and bake shops, buggy-making shops, cabinet and furniture-making shops and the most fabulous quilt stores! I could drop a small fortune there!

Illinois Corn Crib

I spent the best six months of my life in Illinois. They grow massive amounts of soy beans and corn there. The corn cribs of bygone days are everywhere although most are unused now. Such a great variety of styles and building materials. This one is my favourite – it’s on the way to Arthur where the Amish live …

Illinois Corn Crib

Here’s a close-up of it …

Illinois Corn Crib - Detail

And another … (I have LOTS of pics of this one!)

Corn Crib Detail - top

Someday I’ll get to go back there and take more photos of these really neat old buildings before they all go the way of the dodo bird. So much history is disappearing so fast – all in the name of progress.

Doesn’t sound like we’re progressing very much to me.

A Little Spit and Dirt

Here’s a different kind of shot from me … a SPORTS shot! I don’t “do” sports in any way, shape or form – unless you call typing on a keyboard a “sport”. I couldn’t care less about major teams, Hockey Night in Canada, putters or pitches. I suffered through PE class at school and my one claim to fame was doing the quarter mile in over 5 minutes. We had ridiculous looking gym “bloomers” – the kind you can’t get out of in a hurry when you need the bathroom because of all the buttons down the front.

The only good sport is one where I can pretend I am a real photographer and wander around taking candid shots and getting in peoples’ way. I used to do that for a living – they called me a reporter. One thing I learned from that was that with a camera in your hands and a press card, you can get into just about anything without paying.

This shot is from the Grand Forks International Baseball Tourney (one of the best in the world) which attracts teams from such places as Russia and Japan and Korea as well as the Canadian National team and a bunch from the US colleges, too. My action shots stunk, but give me a good old close-up and this is what you get …

A Little Spit and Dirt

Pretty in Pink

My favourite lens is my macro lens – a Sigma 105mm. I love how close I can get to a subject and the detail I can pull from it. Sometimes the camera sees things I miss entirely when I am taking the shot. I struggle with getting the whole frame in focus and one of these days I may just get that part of photography mastered.

Here’s one that I had trouble with – would have preferred to have all the little stamen things in focus.

Pretty in Pink

Wasp and Trumpet Vine

This wasp was so absorbed in what was for lunch he didn’t mind how close I got with the camera. That trumpet vine was climbing all over the fence near my home and I have endless photos of all kinds of bugs happily feeding off it. I must plant some trumpet vines if I ever get a place of my own!

Bugs are some of my favourite things to shoot.

Wasp and Trumpet Vine

Smash!

Another from the lightbulb shoot …

These shots were inspired by a graphite drawing by Armin Mersmann. When I grow up I wanna be as good as he is. Check out his portraits!

Smash!

Oh-Oh

One of the most fun photo shoots I have ever done (and the most frustrating) was for a competition themed “Lightbulb”. I got some great shots, but it took a lot of tries to get them. This one was a first place winner.

Oh-Oh

Drip, Drop, Splash!

Trying to catch drops of liquid as they land and bounce is a lot of fun. Timing is everything! This one was shot in my kitchen sink into a pot of brown eggs I had just hard-cooked for sandwiches and deviled eggs … yummmm

Drip, Drop, Splash!

Saturday Evening Sunshine

Saturday evening sunshine coming through our front door onto an wonderful antique sideboard in the entry. I entered this one in a competition, too.

Sunday Morning Sunshine

Old Kitchen Pair

A couple from my collection of old kitchen tools. I took this photo for a photography competition.

Old Kitchen Pair

Galileo Thermometer

Here’s a fun thing – a Galileo Thermometer … tells the temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius.

I must have taken over 300 pics of this – was trying to capture the reflections from the different balls in each other, plus catch the colours cast against a white card – and keep it in focus! Being round, it had a tendency to go out of focus in a hurry!

Galileo Thermometer