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O Bebê dos Amigos Está Chegando!

My Brazilian friend and his wife are having a baby SOON! So I bought a couple of little gifts -- diapers and a Portuguese-English book. The book is cheaply made, but I like the story and the illustrations.

It is called 'The Giraffe That Ate the Moon' -- 'A Girafa Que Comeu a Lua' --


Butterfly Connection

This morning as I was taking out the recycling, I noticed an unidentified vine on the back hedges. At first glance, the heart shape and delicate leaves sort of looked like a Morning Glory to me. I'm cool with Morning Glories, but this one had an odd bloom. And then I noticed these odd PODS -- definitely NOT a Morning Glory.

At first, I feared some sort of Porcelain Vine, which is growing like wildfire at one of my neighbors fences. I'm not a fan! But this vine actually seems to be a climbing Milkweed -- a honeyvine milkweed -- food for Monarch caterpillars and some caterpillars. It's a native...pretty definitely a weed which just happened to start growing around my place. Because of the Monarch connection, I think I will welcome this one -- a weed is just a prolific plant that you don't like, right?




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Hummingbird Moth, Ants, Rain, etc.

I saw a Hummingbird Moth once before out front.

I saw one again tonight. Last time, my main camera was in shop. This time? The batteries were dead on the camera... The pictures below were taken by a Lumix point and shoot that I keep around. Not the best pics, but maybe pretty good considering that it is a point and shoot several years old!

I'm kinda fascinated by these bugs!





I went to the Texas Beach trail at the river today...and an unexpected rainstorm showed up! I saw the cloud and felt the cold wind, so I was already high-tailing it back up the trail towards the car. But too late! Lots and lots of rain! I got drenched!


Before the rain, I did take a few pics of ants on a Rose of Sharon --





The weekend was okay -- I found it relaxing, attended a birthday party for a neighbor and had wine with a friend. But my social calendar has been kinda empty lately, and I can't decide if that is good or not. I like spending time alone, but I feel like I'm not seeing friends as much as I used to.

Vão-se os anéis, ficam-se os dedos

Most days, my Brazilian friend and I trade some sort of communication - and it is always practice for both of us. Yesterday, I gave him some slang words for money (like "Benjamins" and "Grand", and some example sentences).

He gave me some sayings, like a Portuguese saying Vão-se os anéis, ficam-se os dedos, which he said was related to a crisis from which you had to start completely over. The saying is "The rings go, the fingers stay." -- meaning, you can lose everything, but at least you still have your fingers to re-build or to claw you way back.

The Brazilians seem to have some of the grim fatalism that I grew up with -- my family being rural, descendants of the depression.


On a different note, remember how I learned Portuguese that sounded to my ears like 'to go peepee' -- which is something we only say to or about kids?

Well, it turns out that fazer xixi ("to pee") can be said about anyone! And its corresponding fazer coco ("to go potty") -- see, I'm still using children's words because we Americans don't like to say vulgar words for some reason! Coco, pronounced one way means "coconut", but coco, pronounced differently, means "poop".

My friend did laugh when I explained that we ask kids if they need to go "number 1" or "number 2" lol!



I got outside in the yard to take some pictures of Goldfinches and Orchard spiders. This is Charlotte IV -- the 4th Leucauge venusta that I have photographed:


I'm afraid I disturbed the Goldfinches breakfast this morning!





They were more comfortable with me -- and people on the street -- only flying a little bit away, then back. So the last time someone on the street came by, I thought I would move in closer with the camera. Well, I heard them chirping away but not returning. Then, I see them sitting on the neighbors house and electric line, waiting for to leave! Finally, they all flew away -- to the back yard to eat Coneflower seeds there instead.

Here is a sort of series, showing 1 Goldfinch sitting, wondering if I would ever leave, and the finally flying away!






Halloween Preview

I've been getting some Halloween decorations together into the living room --





My plan is for the "witchy ghosts" to be out front again, but I want a few more 'witchy ghosts' to be walking up from the side of the house to join the coven, so to speak. And I figured I'd throw in some crows for good measure, as familiars.

Along the same lines, I was outside the other night trying to take photographs of the bats that come out at twilight. A few things:
  1. Twilight = low light, and even with the ISO set at 12800, there still wasn't much detail available with a f/5.6 lens.
  2. Silhouette photos really don't have much detail anyway - shadowed in front with backlight behind.
  3. Bats move fast and irregularly, so it was difficult to follow them with my camera lens!
  4. I like the photos because they show the silhouettes, even though I had hoped for more detail I was struck by how similar the silhouettes are to Halloween decorations -- sometimes, I think that decorations are not realistic, but the shape of bat wings really is like this!



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Apple and Google Maps

When Apple Maps first came out, I gave it a solid thumbs down, omg! But the product has improved over time, and doesn't send me on wild goose chases like it used to. I still think Google Maps is superior, but Apple Maps is satisfactory.

Since Apple Maps is the default on the iPhone, I almost always use it. Even though, there are probably MILLIONS of comparisons, I decided to do another little comparison this past weekend, just for kicks. The table below is a just some observations -- nothing 'scientific'; just me using the apps.

Remember that I use my devices in Portuguese...
Item Apple Maps Google Maps Thoughts
Vocabulary Different vocabulary. Different vocabulary. Neither a good nor a bad for either. Interesting. Interesting that Apple says
"I64", and Google says "Interstate 64" -- just a difference, although "Interstate" was easier (but longer!) for my non-native ear to hear than "I".
Detailed instructions Told me to turn right (Vire á direita). Google told me to use the right 2 lanes (something like...Usa as doas faixas á direita). Great detailed info from Google, but I don't think it mattered much to me to know about in that particular situation.
Display of directions text Showed me pretty much all the text the voice had said. Told me what turn was coming up, but didn't show me all the text. This one is important to me. Because Portuguese is not my native language, I sometimes don't 'get' all of it. So on Apple, I can quickly glance at the screen and see what she said. On Google, not as much.
Nearby Restaurants, etc. Poor. Good. This one is also important to me. Google shines here. It is just better at telling me what is nearby. I once asked Apple for the nearest ABC Store (liquor store -- don't judge me!), and she gave me some weird thing 50 miles away!
Needs Phone Connection If you got it, you got it, and itineraries. Can save ahead of time. This one is also important to me. I know on Apple Maps that as long as I start the trip when I have connection, I'm golden. I could lose connection for hours, and as long as I'm on the course, I'll keep getting good instructions. Also, I can send myself itineraries, and I'll have those on the phone as well (I think). On Google, I "believe" it will disappear when you don't have connection. But you can download maps ahead of time. I could be wrong in these details, but this is how they appear to work for me.
Voice Like better. Like less. Unimportant detail, but I like the "sound" of the Brazilian voice on Apple Maps a bit better. But I think Google Maps pronounces English street names in a more understandable way. By the way, I like the English Apple voice better too. Totally personal preference and unimportant -- you get used to whichever.
User Interface *a (1 of 2).jpg
*a (1 of 2).jpg
Google a bit easier on old age eyes -- bigger fonts!


Verdict -- none. I didn't intend to pick between them! I'll keep using Apple because it's easier and not bad. And there are a couple of everyday usage items (like showing me the text) that will keep me using it.

Local Farm

There's a local photo meetup whose events I sometimes join in with. I usually only go with them when they go somewhere that I can't go by myself. An example of that is Hollywood Cemetery at night -- not typically allowed, but the photo meetup gets special permission to do it.

Same thing this past Sunday when the meetup went to a local farmhouse -- occupied by its owners, so it's not something I can do by myself. Fuqua Farm has evidently been the used by several movie makers since parts of the house were built in the 1700s, and it has an 'old farm' look.

As a matter of fact, the green tin roof was exactly what my grandparents had before their house burned down. An they had lots of old tractors -- which looked amazingly like the ones my grandfather had (which my dad has now).

The owners were very gracious and welcoming -- seeming to enjoy having 40+ photographers traipsing around inside and outside their house! I also was thinking that having movies rent the property would be a nice extra source of income during retirement, as well as being a social event -- I think I saw an article which mentioned the owners cooking a barbecue for the cast and workers at one of the movies.

Of course, I tend towards spooky things, and when I zoomed in on this doll's face, I realized it came off as spooky. Same thing with the framed photograph hanging in the living room (I believe a relative of the owner).







And other photos:


















It was hot as blue blazes on Sunday -- the event had been postponed until 5pm to avoid the direct sun, but still very hot. Overall a nice event to attend!

Seeds

One thing I do is to save seeds. I guess I got that naturally from my grandmother -- I remember jars of saved seeds for planting the next year. The cherry tomato plant ("Mexican Midget") has done very well -- the plant is huge and I've gotten just the right number of tomatoes off it so far. It's the first tomato plant I have ever had any luck with, so I'm definitely saving some of these seeds!

The 'chocolate' bell pepper has also done nicely -- the peppers are not huge, but they have a nice...um, smoky or ripe taste to them. As for the orange bell pepper I planted, I have not had one yet...thanks to maybe a rabbit or squirrel. But there are others hanging on the vine, waiting to turn color!

Here are some of the seeds I've been drying. I will place these into jars (with holes in the lid for air). I use all kinds of jars -- empty spice containers, jelly jars, plastic pill bottles -- whatever is empty. Top left, clockwise: Peaches and Dreams Hollyhock, Hibiscus, cherry tomatoe plant, and chocolate bell pepper:



And I am not the only one after the seeds! Goldfinch (can I say that as plural, or do I have to say 'goldfinches'?) have been visiting my yard every day to eat Coneflower seeds.

More Star Gazing

Last night / this morning, I was at the Powhatan Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge has about the closest thing we have locally to 'dark skies'. Dark skies are almost non-existent on the East Coast of the US now. As a matter of fact, I advocate turning all the street lights off -- all of them! When the power was out, I enjoyed the darkness!

At first, I was glad for the people that were there, having been wondering on the drive what it would be like to be out there all alone. But after a few headlights, brakes, etc....I was really wishing for solitude!

Here's a view of the pond when I first got there, this probably around 11:15 - 11:30PM. I was surprised at how photogenic the pond was with the moonlight reflecting of it!



Time lapse, probably from Midnight to about 2AM. I left all the car lights and everything in.

Time Lapse from last night from SBL on Vimeo.



I'm very glad I pushed myself to stay up late and do this. It's nice to shake things up. I slept about 4 hours when I got home, so I can foresee some naps today!

Smugly Smiling

The weird thoughts that go through my head as I was drifting in and out of sleep last night:

  • What if the Founding Fathers were aliens, and this election is their way of testing to see if it's time for a do-over or not -- start again or not.
  • Continuing with the alien theme, what if the aliens are testing to see how mushy the minds of the general populace are, that anybody (and I mean that anyone at all) would vote for Trump. Or perhaps the aliens are trying to figure out how Hitler came to power, so they are running a simulation test.

Weird things to come to mind, no? And I hadn't even been watching any Sci-Fi movies or anything!

In other news, there are TONS of dragonflies around the house. I like dragonflies, but they imply small bugs like mosquitoes, which are not my favorite! I believe the mosquitoes are coming from the large 'lakes' in the alley behind my house -- the ones I asked the city to fix months ago.

Here is a Blue Dasher out front of my house last evening -- I believe a male. Close up to the face, dragonflies always seem to be smiling smugly, lol.







I'm always startled when I take dragonfly macro photos, and they open their mouths! The pic is a little blurry because I think I jumped a little when his mouth opened -- I do remember making a little startled yip. Actually, I think he can open it more -- this is only partially there.

When I sent this pic to my Brazilian friend, I got him to tell me how to say gross -- he came back with 'bruto' or 'grosseiro'.


The dragonfly sat there for a long time. And I went inside and changed lenses, came back out, and he was still in the same spot. So I think he was really relishing a good meal. Based on his hovering once, I think I was annoying him.

It is interesting to me how black and white pictures are somehow 'different' -- I guess maybe because they are far enough away from the colorful reality that we normally see, that it makes a person look harder at the photo.



I think I am finally over the jet lag / staying-up-all-night lag that I experienced for more than a week after the Oregon trip! Funny thing is that I'd like to stay up most of the night tonight or tomorrow night to watch (and maybe photograph) the Perseids meteor shower. Not sure I will be able to push myself to do that or not!

I am glad it's Friday.

Expected News?

Last year I went to my parents' house for Christmas Day lunch. This was the 1st time I had been in their house for Christmas in probably 7 years. I did so because something told me this might be my Dad's last year...and I wanted to make his and my Mom's Christmas a good memory for them. A good number of the family was there -- me and my 2 sisters and their significant others -- 1 nephew, wife and his 2 kids.

One of my sisters just called me tonight to make sure I knew that my Dad was on the heart transplant list now. The pneumonia that he had earlier this year -- which I don't know that I even knew about -- led to congestive heart failure. So he's on the list.

My reaction to the news was subdued. It almost seemed like news that I expected to hear.

The other night, my Brazilian friend and I talked about my being Buddhist. He is a strong believer in an evangelical sort of Christianity. He asked me if I knew meditation techniques. I told him being Buddhist provided me with tools for handling my life -- for knowing what my 'attachments' are, and for realizing what will cause emotional turmoil for me.

The role of helping to bury my parents is not a role I relish in the future...they are definitely an attachment!

I talk to my parents every few weeks now, and I send them some of my photos as text messages.


Last Oregon Post

I think this is the last post on the Oregon trip.

Things I learned:
1) I learned that if I travel to a different time zone and stay up all night for several nights, that it will fuck with my sleep schedule for a whole week!
2) I learned about the need to still have a couple of printed maps, and to not totally rely on GPS!
3) I learned there is no way I would be happy living in a big city. Maybe when I thought about it when I was younger, but now? No way!
4) I remembered that I miss the starry sky.
5) I learned (again) that, although I love the Moon and the stars, I could never only take photos of them -- I need the sun, the golden & blue hours, the lights and shadows, sunrises & sunsets, the heat on my face.



One night...

Did I mention the huge size and meanness of the mosquitoes at Crater Lake? If the instructor had not forewarned, I would never have thought about it -- I guess I was considering mosquitoes to be Southern heat and water insects, never thinking of them in the Pacific Northwest!

One night, probably 2AM, we arrived to an overlook. There was a car there, but I didn't give much thought to it. We all lined up to take shots. And after a while -- the car cranked up and drove away. Evidently, there to sleep! And we disturbed them!

One night, probably around 3AM, I am EXHAUSTED. I had not slept that day well, so I skipped the last location that night, and drove to the hotel. I got 4 hours of blissful sleep before I had to get up and come back for one of our photo editing sessions.

One night, overlooking the forest fire, a guy joined the group. He was not part of the class. He just came nearby and set up his camera. Fine, whatever. But then, he called the instructor by his first name! He had heard the instructor's name from the class participants. And he asked him a question about camera settings -- BY FIRST NAME! WHAT??

One night, probably around 4AM as I'm driving home, I came around a sharp curve; THERE IS S MAN STANDING IN THE OTHER ONCOMING LANE. He's turned away from me, with a huge backpack, so he's sort of big and square. The coloring is all gray/black and white -- very 'ghostly'. It scared the frack out of me!

Time lapse --


At the Japanese Garden --


I think this is Ecola Falls --


Wahkeena Falls -

More Random Thoughts About The Trip

I like the instructor (of the workshop I attended) very much -- I always wish him all the best. During the last class, he and I had time to talk -- long drives with just him and me in the truck -- lots of talking. When I finished that class, I gave him a hug and I remember seeing tears in his eyes after I hugged him. And I remember missing talking to him after I left :(

This time I met him with a hug, both coming and going. No tears this time. But very good hugs. Very good hugs :) Maybe there are a few tears in my eyes right now!







Random Thoughts on the Oregon Trip

I remember getting lost a lot in Oregon! I am so used to using maps on the phone, that I forget that not everywhere has cell coverage. Although I had printed a few maps, I didn't have anything detailed enough to help me get around. There was no cell coverage for sometimes an hour away from Crater Lake, so I got lost several times.

Next time, I will at least look at a map and note the larger town names -- which would help me know when I'm driving if I'm going the wrong way! That's especially true when you are driving back to your hotel at 4AM, having been out all night taking star shots!



One thing I remember about the couple days I stayed in Portland is how many people are crammed into such a small space! I live in a small city, but if I want to grab a spot somewhere to sunbathe or to sit, I usually don't have any trouble. In Portland, it seemed every suitable corner already was filled with people!

Also, lots of beards on guys. I like that, but definitely noticeable. I liked the bridges across the river -- I got stopped one day by a draw bridge.

I stayed in Southwest, and grabbed dinner in Southeast one night. Southeast was more grungy -- waterfront and restaurants/bars.

One day, I did a 5 mile hike around Multnomah Falls -


This is Fairy Falls, on the hike from Multnomah --



One day I needed a break from the people, so I went to the Garden at Elk Rock (a garden at the Episcopal diocese in Portland). Very nice little garden and not many people -- which is what I really needed that day!


More pictures to come as I cull through the photos I took!

First Crater Lake Photos

On the 2nd night we went into Crater Lake, it turns out there was an ongoing forest fire. So the instructor made the (good) decision to change his plans for the night, and we spent a good amount of time at the overlook where you could see the fire and the Milky Way. This shot is 3 photos in a composite: 1 exposure for the sky, 1 exposure for the dark foreground, and 1 exposure for the fire.



Sunset at Crater Lake --


Back from Oregon / Moving Slow Today!

First post after being on vacation in Oregon. After a 3 hour time change, and after being up all night for several nights, I am not myself today!

I stayed in Portland a couple days, then did a photo workshop at Crater Lake. I went to the same instructor as before, so it was basically a review, but it was a different location which is why I went. He's doing another one next year in the Badlands of New Mexico -- remember, I wanted to go there, but it didn't work out when I visited New Mexico?

This time, the workshop was less satisfying to me, I think. Reasons: 1) Mostly review as I expected. 2) There were 8 people in this class -- the max this instructor allows -- but 8 people all trying to take a photo in a relatively small space means you don't always get the angle you want. 3) there are LOTS of cars at night at Crater Lake, which means lots of car lights. When you're doing a 2.5 minute exposure, car lights means you get to start all over on that exposure.

It was good to see the instructor. I liked him very much when I was in the Sierra Nevadas -- we hit it off, and I missed him after I left. So when I saw him this time, I gave him a strong hug both coming and going. We had no time to talk this time, but it was good to see him. Here is an example of some of his work:

Illusion of Lights: A Journey into the Unseen from Goldpaint Photography on Vimeo.



I'll be posting some experiences later about the trip, but for now I'm glad to be home.

Grief

A high school friend and I re-connected on Facebook a while back. She is also a photog hobbyist. And I do have fond memories of her as a kind person.

She recently lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly.

I've been watching her Facebook posts, and I finally decided to send her some of my own history, as a way of helping her realize these emotions were all normal. She seemed to appreciate the message.

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Celtic Knot
karmicdragonfly
Karmic-Dragonfly

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