Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After the Rain

I’m not sure how long we’ll have summer in the mountains. The signs are all around, if you know what to look for. One of them is rain and it rained yesterday!

There are wildflowers still blooming in the garden, they are past their prime and there are not many signs of new blooms.

In addition there are fewer yellow blooms in the garden. Yellow tends to happen at the beginning of the summer; by this time of year, the blooms tend to be lavender from lupine, harebells and asters.


Lastly, the leaves on the trees are tired. They have not changed color yet, but it’s just a matter of time. The weather guesser is saying that we’ll have one night below freezing this week. If that happens, then the green leaves will turn to gold. 

Labor Day is the “official last day of summer” in the mountains. This year summer might be a few days sooner. Drat!

Friday, August 27, 2010

To Cottonwood Lake

We like to explore dirt and gravel roads. A few days ago we were told of a dirt road we had not been on before so today seemed like a good day to explore it. Off we went to see a little mountain jewel called Cottonwood Lake.

We followed the narrow track (about a car and half wide) for about 20 miles, getting views of Cottonwood Creek as it meandered to the right and the left of the road.

The gentle curves of the creek keep luring us to see what was around the next bend. As we looked up, we saw a mixed forest of aspens and conifers. The meadows were sprinkled with late season wildflowers.


It’s hard to find a quieter spot. Since we did not see many people on the road, we were surprised to see Wanted Posters!

There were 4 of them, but not for the proverbial bad guy...these were for plants gone bad!  After the Wanted posters, we had a choice...right or left. Left brought us to a Forest Service campground, which had this rustic water pump providing fresh water to the non-existent campers.

 Right brought us to the little lake.

The lake is nestled in the mountains. There were 2 cars parked by the lake when we arrived. Both were empty because their people were fishing in the lake. One family had a bucket filled with trout!

You never know where a dirt road will lead, so you have to take the time to find out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

151 and counting

I reached a Project Linus milestone one blanket back and did not realize it. I finished my 151st blanket last night. It’s a really soft blue blanket with stripes of the palest pink, lavender, yellow, and green. It’s the middle of this group of blankets.

The Sacramento Chapter of Project Linus gives me yarn to make the blankets. Every year they have fund raising drives to buy yarn. They also have yarn drives for new and not complete skeins of yarn. Apparently lots of people buy yarn with the idea they are going to make something, but never seem to get around to it...or they buy too  much yarn and have extra. These “extras’ are gems!  Because I like dealing with odds and ends of yarn, I get a lot of partially used skeins of yarn and my job is to crochet the scraps into something that is useful and pretty. The chapter calls these “Scrap Blankets” and they are my favorite type of blanket to make.

Here are the last 8 “scrap blankets" that I’ve made this summer. If you have any scrap yarn and do not know what to do with it, think about donating it to your local Project Linus chapter. With over 350 chapters across the US, there’s bound to be a chapter near you. To find out where your local chapter is, go to www.projectlinus.org.

The blankets go to a good cause: kids in need. Kids are defined as people up to 18 years old. They can be homeless, in the hospital, victims of an automobile accident, or survivors of a disaster. (PL sent thousands of blankets to Haiti earlier this year...and we sent blankets to flood victims too. I wonder if any will go to Afghanistan?)  The sheriffs in our county have Project Linus Blanket Kits in the trunks of their cars and they give them to kids who have just survived a car crash. It’s good to have a blankie!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Along a Back Road

Today we took a Sunday ride along one of my favorite dirt roads. It’s a washboardy, rutty, pot-holed wonder that is filled with wonderful scenery. The backdrop of the mountains was highlighted by blue skies with puffy clouds.

Along the way we saw a lone deer cross the road, a few squirrels, and a few osprey nests. This has been a good year for the osprey as there are nests all over and they all have young. This one, looked a bit lonely in comparison to the others...only 1 bird  that we could see.

We saw some Canada Geese plying on a pond. I’m guessing this is a family as Canada Geese generally have 8 or so goslings a year and both parents take care of the babies all summer. As you can see, the babies are just about full size and they might be getting ready to fly away for the winter!

Of course, I cannot go near the Tetons without taking a picture. While not the classic view of the Grand Teton, you can still see the tell-tale “bird shape” of the mountain. And, good news...it’s late August and there’s still some snow on the top. The last fews years have been dry and the snow has not lasted past July.
This is a pretty good picture of Jackson Hole. It was taken from Teton Pass from the “Idaho-side.” In the background, you can see the profile of “Sleeping Indian” if you know where to look. Can you find him?

So, it’s still green up here, and the leaves have not changed yet, but it’s just a matter of time. The light is different than it was earlier in the summer. The trees have a different hue to them too. Fall is in the air and some day soon, the aspens will start to wear their autumn dress. Summer in the high country does not last long!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Always Learning

I believe that one has to continue to learn in order to stay happy and healthy. The “thing” I’m trying to learn now is how to make photographs into watercolors. It should be easy...go into Photoshop and click on the “watercolor” button, and the photograph is changed just like that!

Well, NO! First and foremost there’s not a “watercolor” button. There are a variety of “buttons” and each produces a different effect. Some are dreadful while some are amusing.

Today I’ve been playing with 2 pictures...the deer I took yesterday and a red-eyed susan. After a lot of fiddling, I think I have these 2 figured out. BUT, every picture is a different combination of effects, so there’s not a formula to use.

What I do know about the process...it’s great fun! Now all I need is an endless supply of ink for my printer and frames and places to put these mini-masterpieces.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buck in the Backyard

Today we had a 7 point buck in the backyard. We get does often, but not bucks.

He was standing near the screened porch, where I could not take a picture of him. So I quietly slipped into the bedroom and even more quietly opened the window. Then, I leaned out the window and he allowed me to take 4 pictures of him before he disappeared into the aspens.

Once in the woods, he was invisible.

One of the little treats when you live in the country.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


After being home for awhile, I finally have my 3000 pictures more or less organized. I have sifted through them and created a website too. If you are interested in seeing selected shots, go to http://web.me.com/l530/Normandy_to_Paris/On_the_MS_Bizet.html. I  hope you enjoy them. Please let  me know what you think! I love feedback.

In the meantime, here’s a few that are interesting to me.

I love taking pictures of bees...and this bee matched the flower so well, he was just begging to be “shot."
There was a restaurant in Honfleur called “Grenouille” and this little red frog was the logo. I did not think the French had a sense of humor, but I guess they do. (BTW, grenouille is French for frog)
Again, in Honfleur, I captured this portrait of a woman. She looks a bit grumpy...could she be missing her morning coffee? Or, is she just frustrated with all the tourists in her town? I’ll never find out.
All churches in France have a rooster on top. The symbol of the French people is the rooster...you can try to figure out why?
I love the huge “rose” windows in the cathedrals. This is from the Cathedral in Rouen.

This is the countryside that inspired the great Impressionist Painters. The sky is the key and while we were there, the skies were exceptionally pretty.

If you go to the Louvre you have to see the Mona Lisa which is much easier said that done. It’s next to impossible see her up close and personal because of the crowd of people trying to do exactly the same thing. I took this picture standing on my tip-toes, with a 20X zoom. I’m surprised it came out as good as it did.
Lastly, it’s not easy being a tourist. Sometimes you just have to sit down and take a nap. SO, while a lot of us were enjoying Monet’s garden, my friend Roger was napping on the only soft chair to be found...in the gift shop!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cruising Up the River

We spent a week cruising on the Seine as it snaked its way from the Atlantic Ocean to Paris. If you look at a  map of the river, you see that it is a long, meandering river.

As with all river cruises, there’s not a lot of wave action, so you never have to worry about getting sea sick. You will get mesmerized by the passage of the countryside.

As the river passes villages and towns and cities you get a look at the countryside and the houses. Some of the houses are modern, some are old and some are huge!

You also get a chance to look at river traffic. While not as busy as the Rhine, there are barges and boats on the Seine transporting people and items from scrap metal to oil and everything in between.

I especially like the bridges. As we sailed into Rouen, we passed under a bridge decorated with a huge neon orange wooden structure on it. I have no idea what the structure was, but it was fun to look at. Publlic art at it’s most creative and imaginative.

As you cruise down the river, you see “everyday life.”  There are folks who have their little boats on docks. Other folks are fishing on the river.

 You see dams and you pass through locks.

There’s always a bird or two to look at. Swans and pelicans were common.

Since you are on a river, it’s not always warm. But, if you want to see the view you bundle up and enjoy.