after the storm

after the storm
Welcome autumn!

Friday, May 28, 2010

the dreaded blue screen...

I have been without my computer for several days. WB is home today so I have grabbed his laptop. I had no idea how dependent I have become on my computer. No idea.

What is the name of the Phoenix Suns coach? I go to look it up. I can't.

What is K's recipe for the yummy sauce I want to use with my stir fry? I go to look it up. I can't.

Did the photos I took of the turkey vulture flying above me yesterday turn out? I go to download them. I can't.

Is M doing okay? I go to check my email. I can't.

I want to place an order so I can put together cards for sale. I can't.

My heart starts pounding when I think of everything on that computer that I may never get back - fonts (so many carefully collected fonts), all my lessons from when I was teaching, years of emails from my children detailing their college experiences that I always intended on putting together for them in a book form, actions for PS, collections of vintage photos, copies of letters, quotes, words, ideas, memories... The list goes on and on. I am relieved to remember that most of my photos are on my external hard drives and backed up. Why is it that was the only thing I thought was important enough to back up?

WB has a call into an expert. I am starting the process of looking for something new. I am hoping for the best.

If there are some positive "you'll get everything back" vibes you can send my way, I would appreciate it so very much.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

gila woodpecker...

There is such beautiful golden light in the late afternoon.

First he posed for me:

Then he had some dinner:

the too long tale of the peonies...

I am a desert girl. I know nothing of flowers that like to hang out in the east. Early last summer, it seemed I saw photographs of peonies everywhere. I saw them adorning a bride's bouquet, on a lovely dining table or growing in profusion in someone's garden.

I was sure I could grow them. I envisioned a garden full of gorgeous peonies, providing me with cut bouquets for weeks. Maybe I would plant all pale pink and white. I checked the internet about growing peonies in the desert and had no luck. That didn’t deter me. After all, I grow tulips and had been told they don’t grow here either. I asked at the closest nursery and was told they don’t grow here. I was sure that wasn't right so I went to my favorite nursery to talk to the experts, who truly know everything about gardening here and even sell tulip bulbs.

The conversation went something like this:

me: Do you have peonies?
knowledgeable nursery guy: Peonies won’t grow here.
me: I know they would take some special care.
knowledgeable, patient nursery guy: Peonies won’t grow here.
me: I have a very shady area that only gets a bit of morning sun.
knowledgeable, patient nursery guy: Peonies won’t grow here.
me: I’ve had such good luck with tulips.
knowledgeable very patient nursery guy (smiling now):
Peonies won’t grow here.

So I gave up my dreams of that beautiful peony garden. I would console myself with seasonal bouquets of peonies. I knew I had seen peonies at Trader Joe’s last year. I have stalked their flower section for about two months now. Not that I didn’t enjoy the ranunculus, daffodils and sunflowers that I bought while waiting but I wanted peonies. They finally showed up last Monday. I bought the last bunch, wishing for three more. They were a deep pink rather than white or pale pink but that was okay.

I couldn’t wait for them to open…

Monday: in the vase
Tuesday: looking dramatic but not opening
Wednesday morning: first one opens, not looking at all like I had anticipated. The smell is odd and not very pleasant to me.
Wednesday evening: I find that when I get close, I am getting kind of an itchy feeling on my face. I am sure I can convince myself to like the smell so I keep smelling them. After all, they are peonies.
Thursday: second one opens. Despite a bit of an allergic reaction, I keep smelling them. With only two blooming, the smell in my dining room is starting to overwhelm me.
Friday morning: We’re having guests for dinner tonight. I think I am going to throw out these peonies. Thank goodness, I didn’t plant a garden of these things. How could I get so invested in a flower that I had never even seen? I don’t like peonies at all.
Friday late afternoon: I’m doing the last minute cleaning and cooking. We’re about ready. Before I throw them out, I take one last smell. There is no unpleasant smell. The deep pink has lightened to a beautiful pale pink and white bloom. They are gorgeous.

I love peonies!

I know, I know. They won't grow here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

the saguaros are blooming...

We had breakfast among the saguaros this morning. We had strawberries and granola. You can see what the bee was enjoying.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm so easily distracted...

Early this morning, while it was still cool, I went out to deadhead the roses and geraniums. I think they may be as unhappy about the beginning of summer as I am. For some reason, even the stalks that needed to be deadheaded caught my "I see the world too often through the camera" eye. Down went the clippers, off came the gloves and in I went to grab the camera. Of course, photographing the dead stems is more important than any garden clean-up could ever be. I'm so easily distracted.

This geranium is called "Caliente Fire". Isn't that just the most perfect name?

top photo: 1/100, f/2.8, 100mm macro, ISO400
bottom photo: 1/125, f2.8, 100mm macro, ISO400
You can see the effect of the early morning light with the slightly blue cast.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

curious hummingbird...

or maybe angry? After all, he thinks this is his garden.

1/1250, f/8, ISO1000, 400mm

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

longing for the sea...

We desert dwellers try to find some ocean inspiration every summer. If we are lucky, we head off to the coast for a few weeks. If we are not so lucky, we bring little bits of the ocean to us and put Jimmy Buffet on the stereo.

Our home is cozy. Cozy is good when you are sitting in front of the fire with your sweetie, enjoying the moment. Cozy is good when you are paying your electric bill. Cozy isn't quite as good when you have a problem with dishes. I squeeze them where I can. I try to stick to things I know will be versatile. These star plates were a gift and only came out at Christmas. It wasn't until I started thinking about the sea that I realized they could play a role during the summer too. Pretend they are starfish, okay? All thoughts of Christmas are erased. They are starfish.

I don't remember where I got these glasses. They are an unusual color, a little bit pink, a little bit brown.

It was fun searching the house for little bits and pieces. I went to get the shells and found the candles, bottles and stones. They had been completely forgotten. It must be time to reorganize again.

I like the contrast of textures in my home, especially in tablescapes. This runner was purchased for our autumn table but I have found it to be so versatile.

Night has fallen. We light the candles. We feel the cool breezes. Keith Sykes is singing, " The Coast of Marseilles". All is right with the world...even if we haven't left home.

turquoise plates - Target, several years ago
star plates - Pottery Barn, several years ago but I think they continue to pop up at Christmas time
napkins - Pottery Barn, last year
napkin rings - PB
glassware - old
candles - Timber ocean by Illuminations
shells - personal collection with special thanks to K
tablerunner - PB
chargers/placemats - Target
flatware - "Beads" by Wallace

Thank you so much to Susan for hosting. This is so much fun! Please join Susan and all the other tablescapers at:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I make great guacamole...

Really, I do. And it's easy.

For some reason, I went through the first forty years of my life hating avocados. I picked them out of salads. I scraped them off burros. I never wanted to see them in soup. I never, ever, ever ate guacamole. The few times an avocado even made it into our home was because WB decided he wanted some guac of which, of course, I didn't take a bite. Thank goodness, I am all over that. WB came up with this recipe but somehow I am almost always the guacamole maker. That's okay because he cooks the most wonderful Mexican food to go with it.

Guacamole is not supposed to be a spicy dish. Its purpose is to balance out the spiciness of the main dish. If you feel the need to spice it up, go right ahead.

This is the way we like it:

2 ripe avocados (so important that they are ripe but not yucky - Costco almost always has great looking avocados for a good price)
juice of one lime
(fresh really makes a difference here so use it)
2 tablespoons Trader Joe's salsa verde
(the perfect amount of spice)
10 cherry tomatoes
(cut up, add more or less or leave out if you like but they make the guac so pretty and add some flavor - whole tomatoes are fine too but the cherries have a better flavor)
kosher salt, to taste

Mush up the avocados. I like to keep mine rather chunky but if you like a smooth guacamole, go for it. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Not too hard, was it?

If you have leftovers (this won't happen often), store in a lidded refrigerator container with a piece of plastic wrap that is pressed into the guac. The fresh lime and the plastic wrap will keep it looking good for another day. It will always be best right after you make it.

P.S. Guacamole on a turkey sandwich is bliss.

queen of the night...

Every year about this time, my mother and I are on night blooming cereus watch. This beautiful cactus is in her yard and this year is covered with more than 30 blossoms. Mom checks it every night to see if it will open. I got the call and was there by 6:00 a.m.

For most of the year, this looks like a stick with thorns. There is nothing remarkable about it. And then, for just one night, it blooms. The flowers fade as they are hit by the morning sun. For a photographer, the window of opportunity is small, but always worth it...

top photo: 1/160, f/9, ISO400, 180mm
bottom photo: 1/320, f/9, ISO400, 180mm

Thursday, May 13, 2010

anything eaten outside always tastes better

We eat outside as much as possible. Sometimes, it is the whole family and we need every available table. Sometimes, there are just a few of us. Most of the time, it is just for two. This was set was for Mother's Day.

The sunflowers set the mood.

There seemed to be no choice but to use yellow and green.

A wrap of twine for the flatware seems to add to the outside, simple, natural feel.

A special treat for my mom

Surrounded by iris and roses...

with butterflies for company, anything eaten outside always tastes better.

chargers/placemats - Pier One, current and on sale
green plates and bowls - Pottery Barn, many years ago
yellow plates - Crate and Barrel, Vista, in stores now
napkins - Pottery Barn
flatware - "Beads" by Wallace, currently available at Horchow
"I love you, Mom" spoon from etsy:
candle holders - Illumination Candles - Because of the economy, they went out of business last year. I miss them so much!
glassware - Target, many years ago. Why didn't I buy 16 instead of 8?

Friday, May 7, 2010

somehow, I thought tulips were my favorite flower...

Go to Trader Joe's.


$3.99 for 5 stems.

1/100, f/3.5, ISO800, 180mm

thank you, Mom...

In honor of Mother's Day on Sunday, I would like to take a moment to talk about one of the many gifts from my mother. Unfortunately, I did not inherit her nose but I did inherit her love of reading. She and my dad were both readers, passing that down to all three of their children. All her grandchildren are readers too.

My childhood was filled with fairy tales, Louisa May Alcott, Nancy Drew and any good story I could get my hands on. When I was eleven years old, I felt that I had read every book in the children's section of our small local library. My mother was the one who got me special permission to check out books from the entire library. It was a new world to me. I discovered Victoria Holt, Leon Uris, Irving Stone and John Steinbeck.

When I was in 8th grade, there was a bookfair at school. My mother had given me money to buy a book. I decided the best way to go was to buy the biggest book available, thus getting the most for my money. That book turned out to be "Hawaii" by James Michener. I read and reread that book so many times. It was a paperback version that fell apart many years ago but I am so grateful that my skewed logic lead me to one of my favorite authors.

Mom and I still share our love of reading with each other. She arranged for us to hear Nancy E. Turner and Kristie Miller speak about the process of writing and their books. We swap books back and forth. We both make good use of the library.

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." Anna Quindlen

Thank you, Mom.

1/200, f/3.5, ISO3200, 50mm

Thursday, May 6, 2010

finally... a blog

I smelled this gardenia before I saw it. Isn't Mother Nature amazing?

My first paycheck in my first grown-up job went to buy a 35mm camera. I had wanted one for so many years. It was quite the step-up from my Kodak 110 camera and the Brownie before it. I taught at an old school in a classroom filled with the leftovers of teachers past. There was a huge stack of National Geographics. At that time, NG listed all the photographic information with the picture. Armed with my new camera, this fascinated me. So instead of donating these magazines, I found myself going through them one by one, studying the photos and the information. This was long before EXIF information was attached to every digital photograph. These amazing photographers took time to record all of this information for each shot. This was the beginning of my photography education. So in honor of those photographers who unknowingly taught me so much, I will try to remember to list my info too. If you are as addicted to photography as I am, you know you want to know.

Thanks to B and WB for giving me the gentle nudge I needed.

1/640, f/8, ISO 1000, 180mm