Tag Archives: project365

Weekly photo challenge: Two Subjects

The theme for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is “Two subjects”.

Here we are in Pompeii. Bet you didn’t know the ancient Romans had lawn sprinklers as well as aqueducts! And yes, that’s Vesuvius looming in the background. They say it’s going to erupt again, some day. 😦

A like-hate relationship

These would all fit in a gadget I can hold in my palm. Cool!

I like techy things. I think it’s cool beyond words that I can theoretically store a library worth of books on a thumb drive the size of my little finger. (Okay, okay, I need some add-ons – a monitor, a computer – to read them from an ittybitty 16 G thumb drive, and those are unwieldy. But it’s the concept.)

So you would think I’d be completely thrilled with the e-reader I bought a couple of months ago. And I’m not. I admire it. It’s a worthwhile tool. But I don’t love it the way I love my paper books.

(Note: Okay, what I actually bought is a Kindle. But none of this post is meant as criticism of Kindles as such – I’m sure I would feel the same way about a Nook or any other brand. So I’m going to refer to it here as an “e-reader”.)

Anyway – why don’t I love my e-reader? A couple of reasons. The first one may go away with time: It feels funny, because I haven’t used it heavily yet, because I’m reading through a lot of the books we have on hand so I can find ones to give away. Changing pages still isn’t automatic: I keep thinking that I should press a button on the right side to page forward, and the left side to go back. The size seems off, though I’m comfortable holding books that are either larger or smaller. But these are things I’ll get used to. What else is wrong?

These were all cutting edge once. How long can I use the one on top?

Well, I don’t fully trust it. I made my living from computers since back before there were PCs, and I know how fast everything goes out of date. It’s not practical to get at data that was stored when today’s ten-year-olds were in diapers. But I own lots of books that were printed twenty, thirty, forty years ago that still work as designed.

On the other hand, books do wear out – and the ones you like most wear out fastest. Some of these can only be read because they’ve been taped together:

Read to pieces

I should probably get e-reader versions of all the books I really value and rely on those. And yet, it’s so much faster and easier to flip back and forth to different parts of a paper book. Sure, I can bookmark specific locations in an e-reader, but moving between them is much slower than checking a paper page with a physical bookmark.

Then again, I can search the e-reader for particular phrases…something that’s completely impractical with paper.

And it’s so compact.

But who knows when it will become obsolete and leave me locked out of my electronic library?

I like it. I don’t trust it. Bah.



Learning from experience, with a little help from my friends

A tangle of tomato seedlings with long fragile stems

Little tomato plants searching everywhere for light - 2011

Last year, I tried growing tomatoes from seed. I had never tackled a project like that before, and it worked better than I had any right to expect – but I made some pretty basic mistakes.

Mostly, I didn’t realize how MUCH light seedlings need. I starved the poor things, really. They grew long and skinny reaching desperately toward what light they could find. The room seemed nice and bright to me, but I don’t live by photosynthesis. Luckily, I showed off some pictures to my friend Sue The Gardener, and she was horrified.

Ugly but functional

I’m trying again this year (with some of the same seeds – it turns out you can use seed from last year’s packets, if you seal up the packages and store them someplace dry). This time, though, my husband rigged up an adjustable plant light for me. It’s not at all pretty, but it seems to be doing the job.

If all goes well, in a few months I’ll be able to walk about fifteen feet from where I’m sitting at the moment, climb through a window, and pick a ripe tomato. Maybe some peppers – I added pepper seedlings this year – and green beans and cilantro to go with it, too.

(If I insist on using the doors, it will be a slightly longer trip. Oh well.)

This year's seedlings are a lot shorter than last year's,
and apparently that's good.


52 steps, up and down, with a camera

One of the amazing things about blogging is the way it sends you hopscotching around the world. This morning, I was looking at golappan’s blog at clickdpic, because golappan had “liked” one of my posts…and that led me to katehobbs….who led me to Sherene Schmidtler at Print Sense Photography and the 52 Step Challenge.

Whew. I’m tired. But not tired enough to stop me from being intrigued by another challenge – photography this time. I don’t know if I’ll follow along with the 52 step challenge consistently, but today I plunged in with an intro post (walk 52 steps out of your front door and take a picture):

Next to my house is a freestanding garage for a house on the next street…and between the garage and its house are bird feeders.

And then I tackled this week’s idea (52 steps, take a picture – literal or figurative – of “up”):

“Up” is nice when the leaves are coming out.

After which I decided that just now, at that spot, “down” was prettier:

I think these may be mutant violets.
Until a few years ago, we only ever saw the standard solid purple ones (and there’s an old-school violet in the lower right corner of this picture). Then these pansy-faced white and lavender flowers showed up in a yard down the block, and they’ve been marching down the street, a little farther every year.

Happy Easter!

It’s been a long week, and I don’t have much to say tonight. So I hope you’ve all had a wonderful day, with whatever weather is just right for the season in your part of the world (we had a nice spring day here in New Jersey)!

And a few butterflies to finish the holiday –

(I took these photos at a butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington D.C., back in July 2009.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Journey

This time, the Weekly Photo Challenge theme is Journey. Not one of the easier ideas to picture!

Oh well, here’s what I have –

Sometimes, it’s hard to get to your destination. You might need special help – like these seaplanes in Victoria, British Columbia,
that can get to places deep in the wilderness.

It’s official.

My plants have lost their minds.

In this part of the world, azaleas are supposed to bloom in the middle of May. (And a street lined with big azalea bushes covered with flowers in fluourescent shades of pink is a sight you don’t want to miss!)

Today is April 4, and my azalea buds have started to open. (Actually, they started opening on Sunday, but I figured posting this on April Fools’ Day would confuse people.)

And then there are irises. They should bloom after the azaleas, around the end of May.

They shouldn’t develop flower buds like this for weeks and weeks yet.

Why yes, it has been a mild winter around here.


186 cookbooks – Into new territory!

Everybody knows that “stir-fry” means “here’s some Chinese food”, right? And many of the recipes in The Complete Stir-fry Cookbook are Chinese. Or Japanese, or Southeast Asian of various cuisines. And they’re good – certainly the one I cooked this week, Chicken with Asparagus (and almonds, it turns out) came out well!

But turn the page and what do you find? Chicken with Tarragon, a yummy-sounding French style dish with fresh tarragon, cream, and lemon juice. Or there’s a recipe for fresh tuna with olives, tomatoes, garlic, green beans, and oregano.  Or you can try Greek-style Lamb with feta cheese and pine nuts.

I didn’t notice anything Mexican when I paged through the Stir-fry Cookbook just now, and the majority of the recipes are definitely Asian, but there’s a nice sampler of French- and Mediterranean-style dishes.

What’s going on here? Apparently the writer or publisher – there’s no author’s name, just “bay books” – realized that stir-fry isn’t a nationality, it’s a technique. It can be used for many different styles of food, and that’s what they did. (Okay, this one’s another ringer, of sorts. I’ve used it a number of times, though this particular recipe was new. I knew it was a keeper. Actually, I have several cookbooks from Bay Books, and all of them are generally reliable.)

And if you find a copy of this cookbook, try the chicken with asparagus!

Weekly photo challenge – Arranged

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “arranged”.

Store front, Bar Harbor, Maine

I love the way someone arranged wooden planks and shingles to create this enormous bird watching over the whole street!

Bella Swan in the Heian Imperial Court?

Review: Of Death and Black Rivers by Ann Woodward

A keeper? No doubt!

I’m a sucker for all things Heian. And besides, this is a well-written little mystery.

But Bella Swan? Well, we start out with poor self-conscious Lady Saisho getting in trouble with the Empress yet again, because she’s too embarrassed to walk across the verandah and get into the waiting oxcart. Lady Saisho has a habit of inconveniencing all the other ladies in waiting while she spends long periods being exquisitely shy.

Her parents sent her to court so she could learn enough social skills to marry. But she’ll never find a husband behaving like this, now will she? Not in a court where ladies are expected to exchange flirtatious letters with gentlemen and even sometimes speak to them – even let their faces be seen, on occasion!

And yet, somehow she manages to run away with a dangerous, handsome, famous general who’s just back from winning a war in the north. Did she really leave the court of her own free will, or did he force her? How much danger is she in? Will he – metaphorically, of course – suck the life out of her?

Lady Aoi (our over-educated, not terribly ladylike detective) is concerned about silly Lady Saisho, even though she doesn’t much like her. But there are other things going wrong at court. The Empress has been persistently ill. Important officials are suddenly dropping dead for no clear reason – usually while out hunting with Lady Saisho’s general. And the poor but brilliant Teacher who once worked for Lady Aoi’s father (and worked for the General’s father before that, back when the General was a boy) has been found, murdered, in the burnt-out ruins of his home. All his books, ancient treasures and his own memoirs, are lost.

How could all these dramatic and dreadful things happen in a place like Heian-Kyo, the imperial city dedicated to arts, poetry, and flirtation? The answers will shake the entire court. (Though the people in this story don’t know it, they foreshadow what will happen in the whole country over the next few centuries.) It takes all the cleverness and courage Lady Aoi and her friends can find to restore matters to their normal calm.

And Lady Saisho? Well…does Bella Swan finally get what she wants, no matter who she has to hurt to reach her goals?