Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spring is Coming

Also taken at the Strybing Arboretum in GGP, I was happy to see buds on this magnolia because it means spring is coming. Dawn's brother Darryl commented about all the winter solstice celebrations a few days ago that the only reason to celebrate is that it means we're heading back to spring...

A Tangled Web

Fall Colors

My friend Lilia posted about fall colors in the Bay Area a couple of days ago, after I'd taken the first of these pictures thinking the same thing she was. I took the second at the botanical garden in Golden Gate Park yesterday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2009 Nature Calendar

I've just created my 2009 Nature Calendar; some of the pictures are from our trip to Florida in March, others from Joshua Tree, and a couple of others from around our house. Have a look and let me know what you think: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8IctmzhqzbvCA

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Missed Opportunity

In March, while we were in Florida, I took Rachel to Butterfly World. The weather wasn't very good and we got there late. After letting us sit in their food counter's eating area, the manager took pity on us (we were leaving the next day) and let Rachel in for free, charged me half price, and gave me a coupon (his business card) for free admission next time we come, good for life. The facility is very nice and there were lots and lots of birds and butterflies, including two species of hummingbird I'd never seen before, several really interesting butterflies, and at least a dozen different species of passionflower.

As a photographer, missing a shot is nothing new to me, but I'm frustrated about this one because I had lots of time. I was already aiming at this bird on the far side of the pond as it began to fly lazily across to the other side. Yet I failed to get the whole reflection!! Dammit!

Open Sesame

I'm enjoying taking pictures of the Cymbidium as it opens. Custom white balance is serving me well again, but I think that I need to bust out the GorillaPod next time... not to mention take some during daylight hours...


We got two trees this year. Well, actually, Darryl got a very little one (maybe 2 1/2 feet high) for Rachel to have in her room, and we have a 4' in the living room. This is the smallest tree we've had, because we want it to sit on the coffee table to help keep Zachary away from it. Or at least make it harder for him to get to, I suppose.I used the custom white balance and the color turned out very well. I'm a little disappointed that the focus didn't land where I expected (on the silver/grey ornament). That has been one of the main problems I've had with the 20D, especially in low light or at long range.

Thanksgiving Sunset

This is the view from my parents' place, the third floor deck outside what used to be my bedroom. I didn't notice the helicopter in the shot until just now (it's near the right edge just above the base of the clouds (easier to see if you're looking at the whole image, instead of the 'thumbnail'). What's particularly interesting and unual about it is that there's a stripe of sunlight on the water even though the sun is hidden by the clouds.

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

I took these pictures as I was leaving the gate and taking off from Burbank on the way back to Oakland. It turns out to be damn near impossible to hold the camera still relative to the plane while pushing it up against the window...

Why did the tarantula cross the road?

Somehow, while doing 35 mph down the road to the South exit of Joshua Tree, Dan managed to spot three different tarantulas in the road. This was the first one, and we pulled over and followed it across the road... to it's lair.

Population What?

Dan and I were rather amused by this sign...

Not Quite our Mascot

I went to Berkeley High School, home of the Yellowjackets... this wasp is the first I've ever seen that was yellow and red (like a yellowjacket which, to be accurate, is a kind of wasp). Dan and I noticed this one sitting on a rock where we decided to have lunch at the 49 Palms Oasis while hiking in JTree. There were a LOT more that had built their nest in the 'beard' of one of the palm trees. No, we didn't count to see whether there were actually 49...

Elephant Guard

This rock elephant kept watch over our camp site while Dan and I were in Joshua Tree.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In from the cold

This is one of my favorite types of orchid; we've had it out on our front porch a long time, and it has been pretty happy, but 40s is too cold for it, so we brought it inside. I am going to try taking a variety of pictures of it, as it blooms. It happens to be sitting in front of a mirror, though this picture doesn't make that very clear, so once we clear off the dining table to give a better (i.e. neater) background, I may try some reflections...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I am fairly sure that this is an Adonis Blue, which I caught outside my aunt & uncle's cabin near Lake Tahoe.


I was the one lurking, really... this may be a Bay Checkerspot, which is an endangered species.


Lake Tahoe from Donner Pass


A house not far from ours has both a honeysuckle (or jasmine, I can't remember) and a gorgeous passionflower, growing on the front fence. It's on the way to and from BART, and when their in bloom, they're very pretty and they smell amazing.


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Which way is up?

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This was on the return from Sausalito to SF; I really wish it hadn't been so hazy, but it came out fairly well anyway.

Stop and Go

Ship's Flag

Last April, we took BART to the City and took the ferry over to Sausalito. I took a lot of pictures, including several of somewhat random things, concentrating less on landscapes, animals, and flowers (which I photograph the most) and more on everything we saw. I have another picture that has this flag with the Golden Gate in the distance, but it isn't as good somehow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

beep beep beep

So, for a long time, we've used the chime feature on our alarm to let us know whenever a door or window is opened in our house. This is particularly useful with small children in the house. Although we have tried hard to make sure that Rachel knows when it is OK to open the door and when it isn't (primarily that we need to know she is going to, at least at the front door), the chime helps us know when it happens... so clues us in if she forgets to tell us.

Occasionally we turn it off if we're going in and out or opening and closing windows a lot, because it can get a little annoying. A few weeks ago when we turned it off, we didn't turn it on for a while, and somehow we decided that if the alarm doesn't beep we have to say beep beep beep for it.

When we were at my parents' place for Thanksgiving, I had to go out to the car to get something, and when I walked out the front door, I said (not very loudly)... "beep beep beep".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kitchen Nightmares

Today when Rachel and I came back from dinner with my parents, I went to put the left-overs in the refrigerator. Our refrigerator is a bit of a disaster, so this required moving a couple of things around. As I'm moving things, I find the lid for a plastic store-bought food container.

At first, I was just going to leave it; my parents were still here and I didn't feel like dealing with it, and I didn't immediately see any lidless containers, but that's how the fridge gets the way it is (besides having food for 3 adults, a child, and a baby), so I decided to suck it up.

What's the lid from? Hummus, our favorite, specifically. Hmmm... that's a little strange. Where's the hummus? Searching... searching... hey, that's odd... why's the parmesan in there at a funny angle? Huh. Strange... it has hummus on it. Ahhh... there's the hummus... open, dried out, and with the parmesan sitting in it.

Our refrigerator isn't worthy of sort of scorn Chef Ramsey summons regularly on Kitchen Nightmares, but he certainly wouldn't approve! Dawn and Darryl thought the story was hysterical, though!

Get off the phone!

So, a very pretty woman comes marching up to the BART turnstile tonight, talking on the phone and paying no attention to the numerous people in line to go through. Marches right up between two lines, think there can't be a reason there's not one trying to go through that gate, such as that it might be closed. Finally realizes she can't get out there and tries to cut into the line to her right.

Did I mention she was on the phone and not paying much attention? I can pretty much guarantee, gives what she looked like, that a glance and a small smile would have gotten her in front of almost any man. But, she wasn't paying attention and tried to cut in front of the plainest woman insight who snapped at her.

Of course, once that happened, the line tightened up, as if by magic, and she got stuck looking foolish waiting until someone would let her in.