Why this blog?

To understand why this blog was created and where it got its name, start here

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Morels

Most mushroom hunting happens during the fall when the warm earth and late summer rains bring out tremendous varieties of mushrooms. However, there is one delicious type of mushroom that only fruits in the spring -- morels.

They are notoriously difficult to spot and are quite finicky. Some years Oregon boasts bumper crops of morels. But not this year. The winter and spring have been unusually dry, so spring mushrooms have been few and far between.  Furthermore, morels grow slowly, so if they have all been collected from an area, they might not return during this growing season.

However, morels like forest fires. And that's where we found them this weekend - at the base of partially burned conifer trees from last year's fire season.

After some intense searching, and with the aid of local experts, we did come up with enough for a tasty dinner.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Birthday present

I recently celebrated my 65th birthday. A momentous one! I am now the proud holder of a Medicare card. And as you have probably guessed by now, I don't mind at all. I've never felt better, or more alive. So I decided to take another big step and buy myself a very special birthday gift. . . . just to show that old dogs can learn new tricks!

I've been a PC user for 34 years. Yes! we bought our first IBM compatible in 1981 - back in the days of 5 1/4 inch floppy drives, 256 K of RAM, with CPM and DOS as the installed operating system . . . No color monitor, no hard drive, no network, no wifi; printers a pain to install -- you get the idea. There were no real applications, word processing was a joke, and there were certainly no digital photos to edit. No Windows, no mouse, no graphical user interface. Yes, back in the Dark Ages of computing. But I learned to use the cumbersome beast - especially after I went to work in 1985 selling computers in a dedicated computer store (do you remember those?) And so my knowledge grew as the industry evolved - later working for companies such as Adobe Systems and Sun Microsystems (I even used UNIX).

But now, after all this time, my Toshiba laptop is on its last legs - taking a full five minutes just to boot up.

So, after hesitating for almost a year, I went to the local Best Buy store and spoke to a young man who condescended to inform me of my computer options. "Sonny, (did I really call him that?!) I've been using a computer since before you were born. But now I'm ready for a change. I want to buy a Mac.

After acknowledging that indeed, he wasn't yet born when I bought my first computer, he went on to answer the questions I had regarding compatibility with my current files and applications. And several minutes later I walked out with my new MacBook Pro with Retina screen (awesome for editing photos).

So far, the experience has been even better than I imagined. Instant synchronization with my iPhone, no problem with document compatibility, and access to all of my photos on an external disk drive is a breeze. Great speakers for music. etc, etc. I love it!

And so I begin my 66th year starting fresh. New toys, a clean hard drive, a new start. Life is good.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cherry blossoms

Photographers waiting for the cherry blossoms to bloom along Portland's waterfront were caught by surprise when the trees reached their peak splendor three weeks early this year - just another reminder of this winter's crazy weather that saw an unusually dry and warm winter here in the Pacific northwest while the northeastern U.S. was battered by record amounts of snow and cold.

Anyway, we're not complaining as we contemplate a beautiful spring.
 
 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Newport Oregon

One of the things I enjoy most about living in Portland is that the ocean less than two hours away by car. With spring-like weather in the forecast, I made a return trip to the Sylvia Beach Hotel, a somewhat rickety wooden structure originally built in 1913. The rooms are unique, each decorated according to a theme surrounding a well known author. Prices include a delicious hot breakfast and the hotel also offers a fixed price four-course dinner served family style where single guests do not feel left out in a room full of couples. It was my second visit this past weekend. You can see the attraction, this was the view at dawn from my window:
The hotel is a book lovers haven, featuring books in every room along with a reading library. It's also the site of occasional writers' retreats. I went the first time fully intending to focus on writing, but warring notions caused me to spend more time out walking and shooting photographs. This time, although I took my notebook, I ended up spending more time exploring tide pools, the marina, and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
 
 
I took a tour of the historic Yaquina Head Lighthouse, tallest on the Oregon coast. First lit in 1873, it was converted to electricity in the 1930s. The four inch halogen bulb casts a light that can be seen 20 miles away, thanks to the refraction of the Fresnel lens made in Paris.
The three full-time original lightkeepers spent their days polishing, cleaning, and repairing, as well as tending gardens and livestock. The cast iron staircase had to be repainted every year!
 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Brussels Atomium

Hmm, I'm not sure why this blog post from 2012 decided to pop up here again in 2015 . . . . Maybe because I was messing around with photos and labels?? Anyway, it was an interesting trip!  Have you ever heard of the Atomium which was built for the 1958 International Exhibition? The Atomium looks like this during the day:

And like this at night:

We had fun playing with the camera controls to get effects such as this:

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Photography class

Have I mentioned that I've enrolled in a photography class at the local community college? Although I've sometimes made disparaging remarks about the technical side of photography here, and while I do like to take postcard-style photos of pretty scenery, it is fun to learn new tricks to get more functionality from my camera.

I'm slowly starting to get the hang of concepts such as ISO, aperture, white balance, etc. I even bought a new tripod, remote shutter release, and filters for my lenses. Now I just have to learn to use 'em!

This week we've been experimenting with lighting and motion. And I do mean experimenting!



Today our class went to Portland's Saturday Market for a field trip. Our assignments: try new camera angles



 and more experiments capturing motion.



What fun!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

I go out for a walk just about every day - even in rainy weather. It helps me clear my thoughts, clear my lungs, and justify the calories of my daily glass of wine. Besides, I usually take my camera with me to record the changing seasons.

With this week's exceptionally warm, sunny weather, I decided to dust off my bicycle which has languished in the garage all winter. As much as I love walking in nearby Laurelhurst park, I wanted to broaden my horizons and explore more of the bike trails that Portland is known for.

Yesterday I rode downtown, crossed two different bridges, and explored both the east side and west side riverfront parkways - perfect for a sunny (though windy) Sunday.

It felt great! But I'd forgotten how hilly Portland is. It's downhill from my house to the Willamette river that bisects the city, but that means it's uphill all the way back home! Even taking advantage of all the gears on my bike, my heart rate rose to levels I haven't reached all winter. No wonder I've gained a little weight.

Resolved to get more aerobic exercise, I got back on my bike today and rode to the Crystal Springs rhododendron garden near Reed College. It's still a little early in the season, but it was good for photos, good for my heart rate, and good for my soul.