More iPhone Photography

It was actually a lovely snowy day today – snowing quite steadily but almost no wind. A perfect occasion to wear my Manitoba winter gear (which I’ve not parted with) and to take photos.

Our building superintendent was stoically shovelling (and reshovelling) the sidewalk in front of our building for much of the day. I just love his stylish snow-shovelling gear! I walked around him until I was able to see both feet not hidden by the shovel – I tried editing a bit, but in the end all I did was crop the image a little.

The Epitome Of Snow Shovelling Fashion

On the way back home I had my eye on hydrants as I passed them. This one seemed more sad than the others so I stopped to take it’s picture. Kind of reminds me of a toy soldier with his helmet pulled down around his ears.

Resolute But Sad

Several months ago I noticed this shelter built from fallen branches in the underbrush. I didn’t think a whole lot about it until today – it certainly wouldn’t afford a homeless person much protection! I wonder what the story is beind this construction….

An Untold Story

BTW – It annoys me to hear people complain about the weather – I learned many years ago in Manitoba that if I dressed appropriately for the day I could enjoy every day – rain, shine, snow. When I say I donned my Manitoba gear I mean it:

Wearing My Manitoba Winterwear (taken 2019)

A warm down parka faced with fur, a good scarf and warm boots and mitts – I’m ready for anything. In fact, I was too warmly dressed today so I unzipped the front of my coat a bit. I was snug at -30° C in Winnipeg mid-winter with this coat.

iPhone Photography

I’ve been sidetracked! A couple of weeks ago I signed up for an online iPhone photography course. To do the course justice, I have to be taking photos. The folks enrolled in the course around the world are taking terrific photos with their iPhones. I haven’t been out and about much for the last few weeks so I’m kind of limited to what I have here in the apartment.

I’ve been trying close-ups of the orchids and the amaryllis which is blooming again. I’m limited because my iPhone XR has a single camera (I don’t want to use the zoom, for technical reasons) unlike the latest iPhones which have either two or three cameras – one of which magnifies 2X. So I’m limited by how close I can get to my subject and still have the camera focus.

In this photo I was trying to keep the dots in the throat of the flower reasonably sharp. Then I edited the image trying to blur the background a bit and strengthen the veins in the petals and sepals.


I tried the same thing in this photo – not quite as sharp – I’ll have to try again on a brighter day. I was aiming to get the petals to be almost translucent

I was quite happy with this close-up of my amaryllis – I wanted to retain the pale green at the centre; I was also aiming to position the camera so the stamens were in focus. Here, your eye zooms in on the floral centre but then follows the stamens and the lines in the petals outward.
I’ve also tried a couple of portraits – using that mode it’s possible to blur the background in an interesting way. I need to take many more images before I’d say I can control of that function of the camera!

I now can intentionally take bursts of photos, use the “Live” function. On to the next module to learn more about what the iPhone camera will do.

And I have to get back to “At Five Islands” later today!

Putting Words To How I Feel…

Yesterday I got to the point where I could verbalize how I was feeling: disappointed and let down. Then my sister Donna sent me a link to Frank Bruni’s piece in the NYT:

Photo From The NYT

It’s always assumed that those of us who felt certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 were putting too much trust in polls.

I was putting too much trust in Americans.

I’d seen us err. I’d watched us stray. Still I didn’t think that enough of us would indulge a would-be leader as proudly hateful, patently fraudulent and flamboyantly dishonest as Donald Trump.

We had episodes of ugliness, but this? No way. We were better than Trump.

Except, it turned out, we weren’t….

Some 46 percent of the Americans who cast ballots for president in 2016 picked him, and as he moved into the White House and proceeded to soil it, most of those Americans stood by him solidly enough that Republicans in Congress didn’t dare to cross him and in fact went to great, conscience-immolating lengths to prop him up. These lawmakers weren’t swooning for a demagogue. They were reading the populace.

And it was a populace I didn’t recognize, or at least didn’t want to.

Read the complete article yourself – he wrote it a week or so before the election, I wonder what he’s got to say now. I will keep an eye out for his next article.

How Maps Deceive

When I look at the current election map of the US I am mystified by the enormous red expanse. I’m supposed to believe that the US is almost entirely Republican:

Normal Vote Representation by State

And then I came across this map showing population density – now the election results make some sense! People in the US are clustered on the coasts and in a few central locations – and the vote distribution is clearly more equal:

Vote Map By Population Density

I came across the map in a tweet by Sarah Cooper and then tried to find out more.

“Land doesn’t vote. People do”

Here is the visualization by data scientist Karim Douieb:

Data scientist Karim Douïeb figured that a more accurate way to represent how people voted is to use colored dots, varied in size proportionally to the population of each county. He turned the results into this GIF, which provides a clearer picture:

Pretty eye-opening, no? And yet, while this is clearly an improvement over the ham-fisted method of the first map in this entry, even this is not quite accurate. Within each of those large blue dots, you still have plenty of people who voted red, and vice versa. These results only show you which party won the vote in each region.

What do you think we’d see, if these data represented actual individual votes and we could zoom in on each one? The country is now more divided than ever, and just about evenly split. So all I’m certain of is that zooming out, we’d see a perfect shade of purple.

I guess it’s important to think more deeply about the mundane.

Teacher’s Tool Belt

I got a request the other day to make a tool belt for a young friend of mine. Suzanne’s a vice-principal, constantly on the move during her work day. She needs her phone, her keys, some hand sanitizer, a pen,… with her – AND she needs her hands free.

Teacher’s Tool Belt – Completed

I checked out some possible ideas online and came up with one I thought would do the trick. Suzanne initially requested three pockets but I’ve given her four: one for her phone (with the tab to keep it from falling out), another for her keys (with a small carabiner that slips into the pocket), a slightly wider pocket for a small spray bottle of sanitizer, and one for a package of Kleenex or a small notebook, and two narrow end pockets for pens.

I was discussing the project with one of my sewing buddies who mentioned she had just the fabric weight I was after – a heavy cotton you’d use to cover outdoor cushions. I picked it up.

Next, I selected a complementary fabric from my stash, put the two fabrics together, cut a 10″ strip from the width of fabric for the body of the tool kit, and a second 6 1/2″ strip, also from the width of fabric for the pockets. I cut each width of fabric in half – each piece 22″ wide. (That gives me enough cut fabric for two tool belts – one for my niece as well!)

Teacher’s Tool Belt – Dimensions

I cut two 3 1/2″ strips from another contrasting fabric (width of fabric again) for a pocket facing and waistband and ties.

Layers of Fabric Before Shaping

I trimmed the 22″ x 10″ fabric to 20″ with slightly rounded bottom corners (see “pattern” above). I tapered the sides a bit leaving the top edge 18″ wide. I also ever-so-slightly curved the top edge to accommodate the belly. I placed the pocket fabric on top of the the apron body – aligning the bottoms and trimmed to match the body.

With the fabric shaped, on to facing the pocket.

I cut one of the 3 1/2″ waistband pieces in half lengthwise giving me a 22″ facing strip (the other half becomes one of the ties). With the two pocket panel pieces (outside and lining wrong sides together) I aligned the facing fabric along one 20″ edge on the lining side (right sides together), stitched a 1/4″ seam.

Apply Binding To Pocket on Lining Side – 1/4″ allowance

Folded the facing over the seam allowance toward the front,

Facing Completed on Lining Side Of Pocket Panel

folded under the bottom edge of the facing, pressed and top stitched to the front of the pocket panel.

Pocket Panel Facing Top Stitched

With the pocket panel faced, I laid it on the body fabric (back of pocket to right side of the outside body panel),

Pocket Laid On Top Of Body Panel

covered the pocket with the body lining fabric (in other words, I had a sandwich: lining fabric face down on top, pocket panel, outside body fabric face up on the bottom).

Tool Belt “Sandwich” – with Lining On Top

I sewed down one side across the bottom and up the other side – turned the apron body right side out, pressed – making sure the open top edges matched (I pinned the top edges so they’d stay together when I pinned the waistband in place).

Next, the waistband.  I interfaced the remaining piece of facing fabric to make the waistband more stable, laid it (right side down, interfacing side up) across the top open edge of the WRONG side of the belt, stitched a 1/4″ seam, pressed seam open, folded waistband in half, turned in the raw edge 1/4″, pressed.

Before stitching the open edge to the front of the tool belt, I cut the second 3 1/2″ facing/waistband piece in half lengthwise and attached each half to the ends of the waistband, folded in half lengthwise, turned in the edges, pressed. I folded in the ends of the ties and pinned them.

Then starting at the end of one of the ties, I edge-stitched the end, than the open edge of the first tie, across the waistband, folded edge aligned to just cover the seam, and continuing to the end of the second tie and across the end.

I press the ties and waistband. DONE!

Teacher’s Tool Belt

It all sounds a lot more complicated than the actual assembly is. The second tool belt (to be constructed from the leftovers from the first) will go much more quickly because I’ve already figured out the order of construction.

  1. Cut out and shape outer fabric and lining; cut fabric for pocket facing/waistband and ties
  2. Face Pocket
  3. Make tool belt sandwich) body fabric on bottom / pocket / lining fabric face down on top
  4. Stitch around sides leaving waist edge open – turn right side out, press
  5. Stitch pockets
  6. Add waistband, ties

BTW, I’m not going into production for those other teachers who will want one themselves when they’ve seen the tool belts I’ve made for Suzanne and Maxelle!

 

 

The Closing Down Of Summer

Fall’s on the way. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the colour of the sunlight. Although today is a warm day (24° C), there’s that something in the breeze, you can smell it, hinting at the change of season.

At The Public Gardens

Yesterday at the Public Gardens wild bees were busy harvesting nectar and pollen – there were some hive bees foraging, too. It was interesting watching the wild bees push the hive bees out of the way – no room for interlopers.

I’ve written about the closing down of summer before.

In the opening pages of Alastair MacLeod’s short story: The Closing Down Of Summer (in the collection: As Birds Bring Forth The Sun) he begins:

It is August now, towards the end, and the weather can no longer be trusted. All summer it has been very hot. So hot that the gardens have died and the hay has not grown and the surface wells have tried to trickles and the trout that inhabit them and the inland lakes are soft and sluggish and gasping for live. …

At the end of July we said to ourselves and to each other, “The August gale will come and shatter all of this.” The August gale is the traditional storm that comes each August, the forerunner of the hurricanes that will sweep up from the Caribbean and beat and lash this coast in the months of autumn. The August gale with its shrieking winds and crashing muddied waves has generally signalled the unofficial end of summer and it may come in August’s very early days. But this year, as yet, it has not come and there are only a few days left. Still we know that the weather cannot last much longer and in another week … the pace of life will change. 

That’s what it feels like today and has felt like for the past week – there has been no August gale, just mostly sunny days – no rain which we desperately need and begin to want. But the air has changed, the colour has begun changing. The Queen Anne’s Lace is ending, the Goldenrod droops, I’ve seen Chicory in a few spots already. The plants know the season is changing.

The folks in the building where I live have been meeting outdoors in a green spot beside our garage driveway – we bring our chairs and knit, or box lunches and share a meal. We can likely do that for September and with jackets maybe October but after that outdoor gatherings won’t be possible.

We’ve all enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie these outdoor gatherings have given us. We will need to find ways to continue congregating – with masks, social distancing, and cleaning the indoor spaces before we leave. We will find a way to carry on – we have to. We’re now accepting the Covid-19 rituals to which we’ve become accustomed will be necessary for the foreseeable future, for a year? maybe longer?

This closing down of summer, now in the air, signals changes we will have to invent in order to sustain our community. We’ll find a way to carry on. As will everyone else.

Datura Again…

Datura – Jimson Weed

This I had to share.

This morning I had one bloom – that would be it for today, I thought. I just happened to glance out my bedroom window at the balcony now, almost dusk, to discover two more this evening. Looks like several more will open tomorrow.

So I went out on the balcony to photograph the plant – oh my – what an overpowering scent. My airway immediately shut down – had to head back indoors. I’m still wheezing. Lovely to look at, though!

This is yesterday – covered with aphids! I promptly dug out my Safer Soap, prepared a spray bottle, and doused the plant. I guess the aphids haven’t prevented the blooms from opening. I’ll douse the plant again tomorrow morning.

Marlene, my friend who gave me the plant, told me I’d enjoy it. She was definitely right.

Five Islands

Five Islands is a spectacular location on the NS Fundy Coast on the way to Parrsboro via Hwy 2 (the Glooscap Trail). Sitting on a park bench yesterday at Lighthouse Park, overlooking the islands, it’s clear from the panorama that at one time the islands must have been one continuous point of land projecting into the Bay connected to the mainland beyond the island at the far left of the photo. In the photo you see the western end of Moose island on the left. From left to right you have Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle islands. Beyond Pinnacle Island you can just see a seastack called Pinnacle Rock on the far right.

Five Islands At Low Tide

I’ve been driving by Five Islands on my way to Parrsboro for more than twenty years. Each time I’ve always wanted to take a photo of the islands at that spot on the highway where you come around a bend and see the islands through a gap in the trees. But there’s no stopping spot there – there’s sort of one on the water side of the road but I have never stopped until yesterday. I left the car parked on the shoulder, hazard lights on, and walked ahead until I got to the exact location where you can see the islands framed by the opening in the marsh.

Five Islands

The perspective here is somewhat different from the view at Lighthouse Park – you only see four islands with Moose Island on the far left and Pinnacle Stack on the right. At this angle, Diamond Island is hidden behind Moose.

My friend Ruby and I sat for quite a while on the headland bench enjoying the peaceful quiet of the afternoon. There were a pair of clammers digging quahogs on the mud flats while the tide was out but they quickly ended their harvest when the tide began coming in. This is the Bay of Fundy – the tide comes in very quickly and the water becomes very deep very fast. These locals were taking no chances and although their buckets were only partially full they knew enough to leave at the first sign of water returning.

At Five Islands

I was able to capture a photo of Ruby on the bench watching the men at work in the distance. This will definitely be my next wall art piece. I love her relaxed posture, her position against the coast, her head against the sky. I don’t know whether I’ll show low tide or imagine the Bay at high water. All to be determined.

The two of us had a lovely day. I wanted to return to the exhibit to take more photos and I knew Ruby would love to see the quilts hanging. After a short visit to the gallery (we were sneaking in because it was closed to visitors yesterday due to social distancing restrictions (there was a drawing workshop happening with Tom Forrestall) while the workshop participants were away having lunch), we had delicious lobster rolls at the Harbourview Restaurant then slowly made our way back to Halifax, taking side trips on small roads I’ve passed for years but never explored.

It was a lovely day.

BTW – show comes down Aug. 20 in the afternoon.

My Indoor Vegetable Patch

Last week my sister shared an idea with me – she’s been growing green onions on her window sill for several weeks. She suggested I try doing it myself. You buy a bunch of green onions, cut the greens off (chop them and use them) but put the white bulbs in a glass of water and, lo and behold, you’ve got green onions growing you can harvest for a salad as you need them. She tells me they grow for weeks.

Green Onions & Lettuce

Why not lettuce, too? On my last grocery shopping trip I bought a pair of hydroponically grown green lettuces, roots still intact. So instead of chopping them all up (and throwing away half) I plunked each in a planter with some water – I’ve got lettuces growing. I can harvest a few leaves from each as I need them for a small salad and the plants keep on growing, looks like.

What fun! I bet I can get some dill to grow that way, too. I must look for some dill seeds to germinate.

I don’t like tomatoes well enough to start an outdoor pot for tomatoes – I buy a single tomato every so often if I think I’m going to use one in a meal.

It’ll be interesting to see how long my lettuces will actually grow like this. When these two poop out, I’ll just pick a couple more.