February Photos

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Camera!, and a Wedding

It’s a beautiful day today, 66°, with the wind ‘only’ gusting up to 20 mph.  Last week there were several days where the wind blew at 40 mph and more.  Because of the lack of trees in the front yard, the wind sounds louder in the house (although it would’ve been even louder, had one of them fallen on the house).
Black Kitty just jumped up onto my lap as I sat in a kitchen chair, and she cleared my arm as I was typing.  Quite a jump, for a 19 ½-year-old Kitty that almost died a month and a half ago!
Since Victoria got her fish tank and filled it with various types of fish that we haven’t had before, we’ve learned a few interesting things.  For instance:  Nerite snails have a hard time turning over.  So one should avoid dropping them into the water and letting them float to the bottom landing in various random positions.  If they land upright, they’ll be able to quickly get acclimated to their new surroundings.  If they land upside down, though, they’ll have a very difficult time turning themselves over to the upright position, and in fact might find it almost impossible to right themselves.  If left upside down, a snail can die that way.
Ladies on one of the quilting groups were discussing mending.  Some likened it to Rembrandt white-washing a fence; others find it relaxing.  I don’t mind mending at all.  <ahem>  Let me restate that:  I don’t mind mending, much.  But when an unknown coworker of Larry’s admired his neat patches on his jeans and asked if I would do his too, I said, “Sure!  $5.00 per patch.”  I can put one on in five minutes or so – that would pay me $60/hour, should I have 12 patches to put on, and should I not interrupt myself (“Oh, look!  Squirrel on the bird feeder, squirrel on the bird feeder!”).  I’m willing to patch jeans for unknown individuals, if I make $60 an hour!  Why, even if it takes me ten minutes to put on a patch, I’d still make $30 an hour, if I had six patches to do.  I often made $25-30/hour, back when I actually did mending for hire.  Of course, I couldn’t put in just a whole lot of time before baby needed to be changed, and children needed to be fed.  $30/hour is more than I make quilting, but let’s not tell anybody that, shall we? 
There is a certain satisfaction in taking a pile of otherwise nice clothes, other than some quallyfobble that renders them unusable (hem out, button off, hole in random seam, etc.) and, in not too awfully long, winding up with a pile of now-usable clothing.  It’s just the forcing myself to quit with the fun stuff and get on with the mending that takes some bit of fortitude.  I tell myself, You can’t quilt until you fix Victoria’s skirt!  And ... sometimes ... that works. 
Tuesday afternoon, I ironed a piece of moiré taffeta, another of jacquard satin, and a third of re-embroidered lace, and started on the ribbon embroidery picture I plan to give Lura Kay for her birthday.
That evening I took some food to Loren.  Once again, he insisted on giving me some money for gas, food, and time.  He certainly would never be one of those persons who would ask for a quilt for $5.00!  After leaving his house, I went to Menards and got a gift card for Jeremy for his birthday.  Seems like we give him the same ol’ thing over and over again... but we thought it would be a good choice, since he will soon start on the addition to their house (technically, an addition – but the addition will be much larger than the original house).
I got a large package of silk ribbon in the mail that day, purchased from a lady who advertised it on SewItsForSale.  There are a couple of bags of loose ribbon, but the majority of it is brand new, on Bucilla ribbon cards.  Oh, my goodness... I just counted them:  there are 84 cards, with 3 yards on each card.  Most are 4mm or 7mm wide.  I have somewhere around 300 yards of silk ribbon – and I paid $60.
When I ordered from www.silkribbon.com, I got 78 yards of white China silk ribbon in varying widths for $40.  So it looks like I did indeed get a good deal.  However, the ribbon I just got is in all colors of the rainbow.  I prefer using white ribbon and then dying it with my ProMarkers.  But I can probably add a few touches of color to the colored ribbon, too, and make it look the way I want it to. 
Silk ribbon is not cheap.  Maybe I can make enough gifts with them that it will be worth the money I’ve spent? 
That night, I finished the basket part of the picture.  Looks quite a lot like the Loch Ness monster, don’t you think?
I broke no less than five chenille needles before I got smart enough to choose a BIG one.  Pulling 13mm silk ribbon through lace, taffeta moirĂ©, and muslin required some good tugging with my little spring-loaded pliers.
Wednesday morning, I was taking pictures of the grackles and cardinals on the feeders, when my camera croaked.  The shutter/mirror gave up the ghost.  Bit the dust.  Done!  Finito.  Terminado.  The end!
I moved settings... changed lenses... blew lint from sensors... took out the battery... put it back in... tried a newly recharged battery... a different card...
The last shutter falls
But I knew perfectly well the shutter was shot.  I’ve had it happen to other cameras before this one.  I heard it happen... I saw it happen... and I could hear the shutter trying to return to its proper place, even when the camera was ‘off’.  So I took the battery out. 
Truth is, I’ve been expecting this to happen for the last couple of years, and been surprised it hadn’t.  I knew my camera was well over the usual life expectancy, and didn’t even realize how far over it really was.  I’d taken a lot more pictures with that camera than I thought—almost 140,000 pictures.  I got it new in August 2008.  So it perished in a good old age, full of touching memories, hair-raising adventures, and beautiful scenery.  Guess I should just be thankful it lasted as long as it did.
But... in the meantime... there were shimmering grackles at the bird feeder... bright finches in the blossoming peach tree waiting their turn... the yellow tulips with the pinkish-red stripes were in bloom... and Teensy was in the Big Boss (six-wheeler), in the front passenger seat right in the sunlight!
Right now, all I have in the feeder is black oil sunflower seeds – and the grackles are delighted.  They’d be able to eat the harder striped sunflower seeds just fine – but even the big birds like the black oil seeds best, because they’re easier to crack open.
Okay, time for decisions...  I could get a camera from Nebraska Furniture Mart’s Electronics Department, or I could get one on Amazon – I’ve seen some really good deals on cameras like mine.  Time for some digital investigation!  Meanwhile, where’s Victoria’s camera?!
I didn’t want to buy a used or refurbished camera, since I use it so extensively.  I wear out shutters – so I don’t want to get one that already has some of its use partially used up.  Gotta get something fast, though.  Can’t survive more than a day without a camera!!!  Can I?! 
Oh! – and there was a wedding coming up on Sunday.  So that ruled out ordering one; there wasn’t enough time.  I pulled up Nebraska Furniture Mart’s website.
Hmmmm... they had the Canon T51, a similar camera to mine, but with a few more bells and whistles, on sale for $700.  I spent $1,200 on my Xsi in 2008 – and now they are less than half that price.
Funny, how that works. 
The SL1 is $500... but I didn’t want to get something that’s not as good as the ones I’ve had; I’d be disappointed, I think.  The T51 has movie mode – I’ve never had that, in my good Canons, only in my first point-and-shoot digital Vivitar, which was a good little camera, but slow.
There’s a 70D for $1,350 – it has built-in wireless.  I didn’t really want to spend that much, especially since I’m beginning to think I may have to replace my laptop sometime in the not-too-distant future.  Plus, I’d sure like to upgrade my quilting machine... and my sewing machine (Bernina Artista 180) has been misbehaving now and then, and I think it’s just a matter of time before it expires...  So I mustn’t spend it all in one place.  But I have to have a camera.  Don’t I?!
I hunted and searched and read, and then I read and hunted and searched, and by mid-afternoon was definitely leaning toward the T5i.  An 18-55mm lens came with it, which was good, as mine has had a real workout, and I’ve thought a time or two it wasn’t functioning quite right.  $700 was a pretty good price – $600 off suggested retail.  The full-frame 5D Mark III sells for $2,400 or more – too much for us, really.  Even a refurbished 5D Mark III, body only, was listed at $2,240.  With lens kit:  $2,719.
I like top-of-the-line stuff, but I reckon I can survive with slightly under top-of-the-line.  Maybe.  Our toys – no, I should say, the things we need! – certainly increase in price as we get older, do they not?
That morning, Victoria had an appointment at the Vision Center in Wal-Mart; she needed new glasses and wanted to get contacts again.  She hasn’t used them for a couple of years.  They had the correct contacts in stock, but the glasses had to be ordered.  They came in today.  Her eyesight has improved in the last five years, but she still needs corrective lenses.
Her manager at Earl May Gardening Center asked her to come in that afternoon, though she’d been scheduled to have the day off, as it was a lovely day, and the gardening customers were coming in droves.  She’s been working enough hours that she doesn’t have time for much else – she even forgot about some of the plants she got for her garden, and they didn’t get planted or watered, and may or may not survive.
She got home a little after five, and rushed outside to plant a few things before church.
I got a few ribbon flowers and some pieces of lace added to the picture:
Thursday, I headed to Nebraska Furniture Mart’s Electronics Department to look for a camera.  I feel like I’ve lost my right arm, when my camera is defunct!
When I arrived and found my way through the huge Electronics building to the camera department, I was glad I’d researched the matter:  there were hundreds and hundreds of nice cameras to choose from, in row after row of long counters.  I zeroed in on the DSLRs, found the row with the Canons, and ---- there it was.  The Rebel T5i.  I gave it a try, looked at a few others.  The salesman pulled out the new one, the T6i, that they’d just gotten in the day before.  They didn’t even have any in stock yet, other than the display model; it would have to be ordered.  It was $200 more than the T5i, mainly because of Wi-Fi, and it supposedly focused faster, though I couldn’t really tell it.  I don’t need Wi-Fi.  Not for $200 extra, I don’t.
All my lenses would fit the camera.  It felt even lighter in weight than the Xsi.  The focus with the new 18-55mm lens is silent – a great improvement from the old kit lens.
Thirty minutes later, I was back in the Jeep, eating the lunch I’d brought along.  The new camera was out of the box, lens and strap on camera, battery and card inserted, and the first couple of pictures promised excellent clarity, light, and color.
I stopped at the Bernina Store in Omaha, and discovered. . . . . the Bernina Q24 – a 24” longarm – is out!  Soon, it will be followed by the smaller 20”, and also the 20” sit-down model.  The studio frame has been improved even more, and ooooo...  I need it.  I need the new 780, too.
All right, I don’t really need that stuff.  It would be nice to have such wonderful machines, but... one toy at a time!  One toy at a time!  I am very thankful for what I do have.
I will say that, each time I look at these shiny brochures:  “I am very thankful for what I have.  I am very thankful for what I have.  I am very thankful for what I have.”
The navigation in the Jeep worked great, if you discount the fact that the nice lady in the dash directed me to jump off a bridge or plow my way through a cornfield now and then.  (Doesn’t that thing update itself, or what?!)  Still, she led me right to the Bernina Store without the slightest quimble or quaver, so that’s worth something.
I got back from Omaha at a quarter after eight... washed the dishes I’d left to culture in the sink... started a load of clothes... mopped the kitchen floor (had to; a tray of young ice cubes fell out of the freezer)... fixed a late supper (ancient encrusted cod from Schwans [yummy], asparagus spears, and mandarin oranges)... readjusted all the compartments in my big camera case to perfectly fit the new camera and lenses... and was finally seated in my recliner by a quarter after eleven, heating pad behind me, SD card in my laptop, prepared to take a look at the pictures I’d taken with my camera at Fremont Lakes.  I didn’t take as many as I’d have liked; it was late, getting chilly, and I was worried about old Black Kitty, who needs to be fed soft food multiple times a day, as she can’t eat much at a time.
I haven’t read the manual for my camera (I love reading manuals) (really!) – but I found out something by accident:  when taking a picture or video, if I have a scene framed in as I want, but wish to focus on something, oh, say, in the far left corner, I only need to touch that part of the LCD screen (must be on screen-view mode, rather than viewfinder mode) (I generally like using viewfinder mode best), and it will immediately sharpen the focus right where I touched.  If a bird is flying through the scene, I can simply follow it with my finger – and the focus will follow the bird!  Is that amazing, or what?!
I suspect there are a whole lot of other nifty things to find out about this camera – which is just one of the reasons I like reading the manual.  Gotta learn more about it! – I hate to have a toy that I don’t fully know how to use.  It did a good job in less-than-optimal conditions...  I’m looking forward to giving it a real run for its money.
 It has a good pop-up flash – but I still have an excellent Speedlite 420EX.  I haven’t ever used that stand off-camera – should give it a try.
I got that flash with my first Canon DSLR – and because of the extra lenses and the tripod I got, I got it for $75.  That was 11 years ago.  Even now, that particular flash, used, sells for $90.  I saw new flashes at the Mart for anywhere from $350 to $600.  Good grief.
Friday, a customer’s quilt arrived from Florida.  She is having the back and batting sent to me directly from the online store where she purchased them.
I spent most of the day working on the ribbon embroidery picture.  Is it beginning to look more like a basket of flowers and less like a brachiosaurus?
Saturday, I continued working on the embroidery.  I spent considerable time making small wads that are supposed to be French knots.  Never have been any good at those things, whether with embroidery floss, yarn, or silk ribbon (though I will say that they improved, with practice).  Hannah recently showed me a picture she was making with silk ribbons.  Of course, it was just as lovely as any of her creations are; her hands are skilled.  There were foxgloves made of multitudes of perfect little French knots – they looked like tiny braided donuts, resting smoothly on the fabric.
I informed her, “I’m jealous of your French knots!”
Joanna brought her silk ribbon embroidery to show me; she was making perfect little spider roses.  Someday her hands are going to be just as skilled as her Mama’s hands are.
I have just a few more flowers to add, and I’ll be done with the ribbon embroidery.  Next, I’ll add beads to the picture.
Oh!  I just noticed that the lady at www.craftyattic.com, Kate Prothero-Davies, has posted several new tutorials since last time I looked.  Her silk-ribbon-embroidery tutorials are what really got me started in ribbon embroidery.  I love seeing all the beautiful things she makes.  (Plus, I like listening to her British accent.) 
Some wonderfully talented people make such amazing things, I am struck dumb (but not for long), just looking at the photos.
So I dabble around and try to imitate the embroidery masters, and am now and then surprised when something turns out not as good as theirs, but quite acceptable.  And I take care to never show the recipient of my stitchery and doodads the pictures from which I got my inspiration. 
I took a couple of shots of a bright little house finch.  Even on that rainy, overcast day, my new camera picked up color and pulled in light quite well – and that, with a long lens on.

Veronica and Orchid buds

I remembered to sew my name tag on the table topper for the wedding the next night; aren’t you proud of me?  The kitchen and living room got a lick-and-a-promise cleaning job... I tossed a load of clothes into the dryer... practiced a couple of songs on the piano... rescued a baby bunny from one of my horrid carnivores... and plucked a tick off of Black Kitty.  And then it scrambled loose whilst I was trying to set laptop and Kitty down in order to properly dispose of said tick.  I hunted high and low, and I searched low and high, to no avail.  I’d pinched him with my fingernails (through a Kleenex, mind you) good and proper just before he escaped, still wiggling and scrambling.  Them thar bug critters are tough.  But maybe I shortened his lifespan.
“I’ll probably find it perched atop my head in the middle of the church service tomorrow,” I wrote to a friend.  “Or at least I’ll be a-thinkin’ it’s atop my head, whether it’s there or not!”
She wrote back, “It won’t be perched on your head; it will be burrowed into your scalp, having dinner!!”
I scrubbed and shampooed extra good Sunday morning before getting ready for church, just to be sure there was no tick on me.  Or if there is, and I missed him, at least he’s nice and clean.
Sunday evening was the wedding of Emily, Larry’s cousin’s daughter, to Mitchell, cousin of Jeremy.  And I had a new camera!

It was almost 11:30 p.m. before we got home.  I took 145 photos.  And I see that my new camera does much better than the old camera at drawing in available light when I can’t (or don’t want to) use the flash.  I’m pleased with it. 
Victoria has been getting in at least 40 hours a week the last couple of weeks, and that will likely continue all through the growing season, as Earl May’s gardening season picks up. 
I killed one wasp in the bathroom this morning, and there’s another in there now.  There’s a huge nest up near the Wi-Fi dish; we need to get rid of it.
I acquired a nasty ol’ headache about noon, along with various other aches and pains a bit more troublesome than usual.  I took an aspirin.  The headache raged on.  I took a couple of Tylenol.  They can make a computer the size of a pea – so why can’t they make pills the size of a fleck of lint??
And now, I’d better get busy on that ribbon embroidery.  I want to finish it before I start on my customer’s quilt.

,,,>^..^<,,,     Sarah Lynn     ,,,>^..^<,,,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Male housefinch

My new Canon Rebel T5i did well on this cloudy day, pulling in light and color even through the 300mm lens.

Captured just as he patooeyed the black oil sunflower seed hull from his beak.  See his tongue?

Friday, April 24, 2015

White Satin Moth

Taken with Canon Rebel T5i and Tamron 90mm macro lens.  Now, if the moth will just reposition itself somewhere so I can see its face...

White Satin moth

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Camera

Today I went to Nebraska Furniture Mart's Electronic Department and got a camera to replace the one that unceremoniously croaked yesterday -- the Canon Rebel T51.

I took along Victoria's Canon SX40 PowerShot in case something picturable showed up before I got to the Mart and found the new camera.  So here are a few shots with Victoria's camera.  The first two are daffodil buds by the front porch:

One of the cons about the SX40 is that when you turn it on, it is totally zoomed out, no matter where it was when you turned it off.  And I find the little slide for the zoom beside the shutter button a bit awkward, especially since I am used to turning the lens itself to zoom in or out.  So, if I am in a hurry to take the picture, I wind up with all of this ^ ... or I crop waaay down, which of course diminishes quality:

The trees are all turning green.

First shot with the new camera, taken as I sat in the parking lot of Nebraska Furniture Mart, looking through all my loot, inserting the battery, putting on the strap, setting date and time, scrolling through all the settings...

I would've aimed out the window, but there seemed to be people in every car parked nearby.  
So, this:

Okay, the people have all walked into the store or driven away.
Looks like the camera picks up color well.  (New 18-55mm lens.)

Heading home, into the sun.

At Fremont Lakes

Taken from a distance with 70-300mm lens.
Considering the fact that it was quite windy, and the sun was sinking into an overclouded west, these are very good.

Canada goose

Wire, briar, limber lock,
Two old geese flew in a flock.
One flew east, one flew west;
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest.
(Only it was a grain elevator.)

2008 Jeep Commander

I've just discovered that after I frame in a scene, if a bird flies or swims through, I can touch the LCD screen wherever the bird is, and the camera will immediately focus right there.  If I follow the bird's movement with my finger on the screen, the camera continually focuses on that spot.  Amazing, don't you think?

The rare Nebraska Bobber tree

Switched back to the 18-55mm lens

Low light... the camera did pretty well.