Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Falling leaves, done I think

Woot! This is fun!  There is something that happens with the text; wait for it.  One thing I will need to adjust is the amount of wait time; it looked fine on Photoshop but seems to linger too long on blogger.  This time there are only two repeats.

new improved version:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

falling leaves, test one

ohhh, I think I'm getting it!  The leaves get blurrier as they sink down because every time I twist and turn the leaf I degrade the quality of that part of the image.  The only cure for that would be to import a fresh version of the leaf on each layer, and then shrink and manipulate that.  For this mock-up, I don't really care; I'm just trying to get the rhythm of the process.  Most cool, again, open the image in a new window and hit the refresh button to see it more than once.....More leaves to come, then some sort of statement at the end....maybe I'll have the type gradually go from one color to another and semi-transparent to opaque.  Yesss, this is fun!  Hmmm, this one is repeating 3 times as desired without the reset button, at least while editing.....

testing animated GIF image

not that this is at all the best thing I've been working on, but since animated GIFs don't seem to be working on Facebook, thought I would try it here.....hmmm, seems to work only once when I set it for indefinite replay.....refresh the page, I guess, should you feel the need to see this blockbuster animation a second, third, etc time.  :-)  Or maybe it will work once I post.  Nope.  You need to click on the image below so that it becomes the main thing viewed in the blog, then hit refresh and you can see it again.  It does no good to hit refresh while the blog text is showing.  But animation is fascinating.....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ahh, poor neglected blog

Yet again a hiatus, though not necessarily for a bad reason.  I've been busy with Photoshop and Digital Arts classes, taking a lot of photos, working on some bead projects, dealing with a PC instead of a Mac, etc. etc. and it's just going to take some time to adjust.

I stopped using GIMP much because of needing to do things in Photoshop, and after Digital Arts and Photoshop a lot of my GIMP efforts looked crude, but now I find myself edging back into GIMP to get some things done that I haven't figured out how to do in Photoshop.  I feel like I'm teetering on the abyss of a huge amount of new knowledge, not quite ready to plunge in and thoroughly learn it.

One project I have to start on is organizing my images.  They are posted on 5 or 6 hosting websites, pulled off of the Mac and put onto the PC, maybe 13,000 of them or more, stored in a lot of random places and there are things I don't understand about how the PC saves things and where it stores them.  Things seem to vanish and reappear; I create documents that take a long time to show up, or maybe I'm just not searching for them in the right way.  Argh!  I think maybe this blog will be a good place from which to marshal my reorganization attempts.

Also I have done a ton of photoshoots, from our spring vacation in Europe to Monterey Bay Aquarium, to local beaches and parks, etc.  I've posted on Facebook, but often I'm not sure if anyone even sees them.  Well, HERE nobody will see them either, but it makes a much better location for a summary of activities.

And also, also I have my crafts webpage to work on.  I created a lot of new categories, but now need to find a million links.  And I will probably go back to work a couple days of week for a month or more to help convert people to the database and the webpages.  Amazingly, I don't HAVE to, financially, but I'm now ready to, as it will earn me extra spending money for our January Hawaii vacation (yay, coral reefs, volcanos!)

all, very much "first world problems", eh?  Poor poor me, too many interests, too little time.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Moving on to the Next Era

This moribund little blog will hopefully pick up steam, as I have signed up for a Digital Arts class and a Photoshop class at Berkeley City College.  First class is today, though it's a lab session rather than the regular class, so there may not be much to do.....  I'm also taking a MOOC, UC Berkeley's Greater Good Center's Science of Happiness (free and open to everyone in the world; let's see how many of us stick it through to the end!).  Since I am a great skeptic when it comes to "positive psychology",  I'll be the one in the back of the virtual class, mumbling sarcastic comments about why they might want to make us all happy little clones willing to do their bidding without objection, whoever "they" are.  It should therefore be a lot of fun.  :-)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gardening Styles of the Not-So-Rich-and-Famous

When we moved to  our newly built house when I was seven I watched my mom create a two-level yard out of a mound of rubble that the builders left behind, as landscaping didn't seem to be part of the package.  Over a year or so she hauled soil from one place to another until there was a top garden and a bottom garden.  Eventually we built a turtle pond on the top that drained into the bottom, where we encouraged bullfrogs to live.  The top yard ended up with a lemon tree, nasturtiums and an agave plant or two; these are only what I remember.  My mom propagated agave plantlets after the main plant bloomed and left a hundred descendents along its stalk.  I remember her starting a flat of multicolored coleus plants.  I've been hooked on gardening ever since.

I am fascinated by gardens, not just for the plants that they contain but the relationship of the owner to the garden.  People approach the portion of their property not covered by their house in several different ways.  I am inspired by and envious of many gardens, others make me shudder.  I make terrible assumptions about the education level and political leanings of the owners, even though I know this is this worst kind of idle speculation.  Still, what is obvious is whether a garden is loved, and lived in, or considered a wasteland leading up to the interior of the house that only needs to be tamed enough not to annoy the neighbors.

1. This is the blasted earth approach to gardening: bare concrete and rocks, or extremely low maintenance junipers and such things: the goal is not to set foot in the outside except to park in the driveway and approach the front door.  To me it's depressing, but perhaps the owner has health issues and cannot garden or afford a gardener.  Perhaps....

2. The overambitious approach: the gardener has big plans, more or less gardening knowledge, plants up a storm and then gets caught up in other aspects of life. Things become overgrown and die from neglect. There is a corner of my garden that shows quite clearly the result of this approach: leggy penstemon fighting against irises which are in turn being smothered by scabiosa and a nasty thistle  type of weed.

3. The person who hires a professional landscaper both to install and maintain the plants: an excellent garden may be created and the owner never has to touch it.  There may be a lot of appreciation for the effect, but the owner does not "own" the garden, the landscaper does, and, unless the house is a mansion with extensive grounds, the gardener will have a lot of other houses on her route and will only show up every so often.  There are no people wealthy enough for a huge garden installation and expert maintenance in my neighborhood.  One neighbor comes closest to a professional landscape on his own: his garden is filled with perennials and groundcovers, low maintenance but they come in a multitude of leaf colors and the yard is always fun to look at.

I thought he was a professional landscaper, but he actually has a desk job during the week; this is just his hobby.  I'm lucky enough to have a bird's eye view of his yard from my front window.

4. Then there are my favorite gardeners, like the neighbor above, the ones who play in their gardens constantly, as if it were another room or two of their house.  The owner's enjoyment of the garden is obvious. 

I often garden-sit for these nearby friends.  Like my first example they also have a huge slab of concrete in front of their house, but this concrete is more like a living room floor than a no-man's land.  It is filled with planters, garden sculptures, and a picnic table.  Dinner may be eaten on that table when the weather allows.

Their vegetable garden intermingles with flowers, many edible, and herbs. These plants often find their way to the dinner table; it all feels whole and intertwined, outside and inside.

I have begun to play in my own garden again, hoping to take it from a category 2, overwhelmed, to a category 4, playground and outdoor room.

Due to necessity, until the drier gets fixed, my backyard is also my laundry room.  :-)  It reminds me of the clotheslines of my youth, but somehow the laundry doesn't smell as fresh as I remember from my childhood.

I'm starting seedlings in hopefully slug-proof aquariums.  After two weeks several things are ready to plant out in the garden.

I have several garden beds actually cleared, mulched, planted with goodies from Annie's Annuals and seeded with radishes, dwarf marigolds, alyssum (we'll see who wins).

Elsewhere there are squash and cucumber seedlings (what some animal has left me after some midnight digging) plus some kale seedlings.

Here are my hands at the end of the gardening day:

Black bean seedlings; started in July, hope they bear before the cold sets in.

Two days later they all have their first real leaves and will need to be planted in a day or so.

Sweet 100 tomatoes and tomatillos that both overwintered.

Hollyhock in the front yard that the deer missed.

I'm trying to just sit out there and relax with a book off and on.  It's more difficult than it looks.  Here is a view up from the chair, juniper trees and scudding clouds.  Ahhhhh.  I picked the best summer to retire, the weather has been perfect.

So, I will never hire a professional garden designer, not even the mow and blow guys; I prefer to keep puttering, for better or worse, and am enjoying the new "rooms" of my house.  I have plans to propagate several cooperative perennials, like heuchera and primroses, so when I re-landscape parts of the front yard I won't need to buy more than mulch and some retaining wall stones.  Here's to gardening, as long as the back holds out.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Important Status Change

My old Blogger introduction:

I work at a large university in California.  If I could clone myself the other half would stay at home, pull every last weed from the garden, organize all my craft supplies, walk 15,000 steps a day, find time to do fun things with friends,  and achieve a general state of perfection.  Well, except for I kind of need the money, and I kind of miss talking to other humans after a couple of days.

My new Blogger introduction, as of June 27, 2014:

I have recently retired from a large university in California.  Now comes the time when I put my deferred list of activities to the test: stay at home, pull every last weed from the garden, organize all my craft supplies, walk 15,000 steps a day, find time to do fun things with friends,  and achieve a general state of perfection.  Hopefully the money and the human contact issues will work themselves out as I go along.

I have been panicking and whining to friends about the stress of the transition until the past couple of months, when I realized the transition was real, that I had some Europe travel to accomplish, and that none of the huge, life changing consequences would necessarily be felt in the first few months, so I could relax and save the angst for later.  So far it's just like a stay at home vacation, only, as I do each thing I ask myself: are you happy with this arrangement, do you want to make things better organized, cleaner, start working on the kinds of things you couldn't accomplish while working full time, etc. etc. 

Though there are a vast amount of things that need doing within the house, so far the garden has called with more insistence than the messes in the house and I have gladly answered that call.

It will be time for a bit of blog "meta" in a while, as my planned activities often get blogged in order to solidify things in my head.  I'm still a lists person, so will be making lists over the next week.  I've signed up for two classes at Berkeley City College this fall: Digital Photography and Photoshop.  I will be needing a new computer, updated software and eventually a new camera.  Also I'll be one of tens of thousands of people taking a MOOC offered by the Greater Good Center on the UCB campus called the Science of Happiness.  Anyone else in the world reading this, it's not too late to sign up.  I will be one of those Doubting Thomases who wonders if it's possible, or even desirable to seek happiness as a science, but that's why it will be fun.  We have nothing to measure against if we achieve constant bliss, but in reality I'm pretty sure the organizers are not actually advocating this, but are treating it more as a form of psychology, realizing that none of us are happy all the time and encouraging us to find ways to alleviate unhappiness when it seems to take over our lives.  Come and join me in the discussion, blog friends.....

on to the day, need to garden before the heat sets in......