Archive for the ‘photographs’ Tag

08-04-2015 Journal–A Trip to the Desert!   Leave a comment

How many of you live in the northeastern United States and have never gotten up close and personal with a desert. I assume most people only have that opportunity if they live or visit the southwest.  I found out his week that my assumption was wrong.  Who knew I’d find a desert right here in Maine.

Yesterday my better-half and I were as usual out roaming around the state taking photographs.  As we were cruising south on the interstate we saw a sign that said Desert Road.  Never hesitating to explore we exited the expressway and drove a few miles west into the woods.  What do we find? This!

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Right smack dab in the middle of a huge pine forest is a fifty acre desert with sand dunes and everything.  We couldn’t resist checking it out and immediately coughed up $20.00 for the grand tour. Of course the better-half was off to the gift shop to buy postcards and other weird items for her family members.  I was finally able to drag out of there, through the building, and out the backdoor to the tram.

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‘This is a tram.’

It’s amazing to me how this desert was initially formed and the sand is still forty feet deep in spots with dunes as high as ninety feet.  There’s even a sign along the tour route where an old Spring House once stood before being buried by the shifting sands. Here’s an old photo showing the final days of that building.

 

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‘Then’

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‘Now’

The visit to the desert was fun and informative but as always the better-half was irritated that there were no live camels to ride.  She’s never happy! I found this one but we couldn’t come up with a workable solution to get her in the saddle.

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Then it was back on the road, stopping for a decent lunch, and then home. I’ve finally made my first and hopefully last visit to a desert.  I really do hate the heat but fortunately this desert was a moderate 85 degrees and even I could handle that.

I also have to tell you that sitting on the tram  can be treacherous. Some little darling left a gob of gum on the seat that stuck to my ass like glue all day.  Just “be careful out there . . .”

12-07-2014 Journal–Winter in Maine!   Leave a comment

The last few days have been fugly and for those of you that don’t know what that means I suggest you call someone.  Sleet, freezing rain, ice, snow, regular rain, high winds, and temperatures moving up and down the scale from 9 degrees to 40 degrees.  A little bit of everything you could possibly imagine and none of it you would ever ask for.

The ice storm early in the week was responsible not only for icy roads but for falling tree branches covered with ice and snow.  We had two small trees down in the back yard but nothing too terrible. Other folks weren’t as lucky with collapsed roofs, damaged vehicles, and damaged shrubbery.

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We took a ride around the area earlier today and these photos pretty much explain how Maine feels in the winter.  This first shot is of what a prosperous farm looks like in Winter.

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A very solemn sight to be sure. I prefer the corn to be green and growing and the machinery in operation.  The next photos were taken along the Saco river with the first looking north with the sun at my back and the second facing south with the sun in my eyes.

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Regardless of the direction I’m looking that water is frigid, the cold wind was freezing my face, and I ran for my car when I was finished.  The parking area near the river was covered in ice and it was purely luck I didn’t fall on my ass like I usually do.  Through a bare spot in the ice I saw a reminder of Summer and of all the teenage kids who seem to congregate here.  I don’t know who Jake is but an artist he aint!

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I look forward to seeing more graffiti in about five months. I sure hope it’s better than this stuff.

07-05-2014 Journal Entry–Internet Shopping Nightmare!   Leave a comment

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My week of freedom is almost over and in a another two days things will be back to what we call normal with the arrival of my better-half from LA.  My week of loafing is ending and thankfully so has the rain and wind of Arthur.  It wasn’t until the third day of rain I even knew about Arthur because I was ignoring the television as much as possible.  My only connection to the outside world was my phone and I was desperately trying to ignore that as well. I spent a lot of time on the  Internet trying to resolve issues with the Adobe Corporation and a purchase I made.  Here’s my sad story which should be a warning to you all about their company and it’s approach to customer service.

Last week I made the mistake of attempting to buy software on-line and to download it direct to my computer.  I’ve been using Adobe’s Photoshop Elements for years to catalogue and store my photographs.  I decided that maybe it was time to convert from Photoshop Elements 7 to the new version Photoshop Elements 12.  That was my first mistake.

I checked a few retailers on-line and found the price to be hovering around $100.00. I told my better-half that I wasn’t comfortable with downloading the program directly and I drove to Best Buy to see if they had it in stock.  I found Adobe’s Premiere Elements 12 and made the purchase for $75.00. I headed home very proud of the money I’d saved.  I got home, installed the software and surprise, surprise, it was the wrong product. Adobe in it’s typical retailer wisdom named two products in a similar fashion and I was I unobservant enough to fall for it.

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Premiere Elements 12 is a program for cataloging and editing videos and not still photographs.  I felt stupid and a bit embarrassed by my mistake and decided to let it go and take the loss. But Adobe suckered me a second time with a pop-up add during the install to download the product I was actually looking for a price of an additional $99.00. Being frustrated and pissed off I gave them my credit card number and began the download. I’d now spent $180.00 dollars.

That was the beginning of three days of BS in trying to deal with a company that has turned over the majority of it’s customer service duties to a live on-line chat only.  It’s almost impossible to talk to a human being except in chat mode.  I was at my wits end because the download wasn’t working as advertised and their method of copy protection was pure insanity.  After hours of frustration and waiting on the telephone for forty-five minutes I finally connected with some company representative who’s grasp of the English language was almost non-existent but was to expected when you live in the suburbs of New Delhi, India. I became a bit rude and belligerent and demanded an effing refund since my credit card had been immediately charged $105.00 for that second product.

It took two days for their investigation to verify I didn’t have a working copy of their damn Photoshop software and my refund was finally posted 48 hours later. By then I was feeling highly agitated, used, and abused. The biggest problem in this whole scenario is that their product is the best on the market and I still wanted it.  I tried not to think about it anymore because it was sending my blood pressure through the roof.

Another week passed and I was still looking around for a solution to my problem when I found a site that would permit me to upgrade my existing copy of the Adobe Elements 7 at a cost of only $69.99 as a direct download from Adobe.  At no time during this fiasco was that option every mentioned to me by Adobe which pissed me off all over again.  I refused to be baited a second time with another download and let it go once again.

Two days later I happened upon a deal I couldn’t refuse.  eBay came to my rescue when I found a vendor in the Midwest selling a package deal of photo editing software. They offered Adobe Photoshop Elements 12, a Roxio editing program, and a Font package, for $49.00.  I made that purchase and it’s now on it’s way to me as we speak.

I have only two things to say to end this rant.  Adobe Photoshop software is the best around but the Adobe company and it’s employees suck.  That is my humble opinion and I’m positive they could care less. Their approach to business is to make as much money as possible as fast as possible and the hell with the customer. My second comment is a warning for anyone buying on-line.  Many companies use the Internet as a device where they can disconnect from their customers. Shop around for the product your wanting to purchase but don’t buy directly from the manufacturer.  It’s similar to going to a car dealer to get your car repaired. The only certainty is that you will be overcharged and treated as a second class citizen.

In all my years of Internet crawling and making purchases this was my absolute worst experience.  I’m stuck using Adobe software but I won’t buy any new products from them in the future. Just an awful few days that could have been handled easily by a company that actually cared about their customers.

Thanks for nothing Adobe. 

05-21-2014 Journal Entry-Off to Texas!   1 comment

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Well the Texas trip is finally here and I’ll be flying off to Dallas tomorrow.  I don’t intend to do any blogging until sometime next week, probably Wednesday at the latest. I’ll be taking a break from working out, blogging and everything else as well.  That’s what a vacation is supposed to be and I’m going to make the most of it.

This week I finally planted the last few plants in the garden.  I have others breaking ground as we speak and so far everything is doing fine except for the asparagus.  All of those I gently planted are doing absolutely nothing.  I purchased a bag of asparagus roots and knew at the time it was a big gamble.  I have yet to buy either flower bulbs or veggie roots packaged that way that have actually grown.  I’ve finally learned my lesson, never again. Next year I’ll try to find asparagus seeds and start my own plants.  Hopefully I’ll have more success.

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“Zucchini”

As you can see the garden has made significant progress in the last week. The plants are loving the warmer nights and are jumping out of the ground. As you can see I have more chives than I know what to do. When I return I can look forward to a day spent filling the dehydrator with chives for our use through next Winter.

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“Cherry Tomato’s”

Starting tomorrow I can kick back and relax for a few days and enjoy my trip. It will be nice to enjoy the warm and sometimes hot weather in Dallas.  It should help me shake off the effects of this last Maine Winter. My summer will officially start when I return home next week fully rested and relaxed.

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“Left Side”

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“Right Side”

I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and that the weather cooperates.  Show the flag, cook a few burgers and dogs, and toast all of our former and current Vets.  Without their service we wouldn’t have much to celebrate.

05-03-2014. Journal Entry – Spring Continues!   Leave a comment

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“The First Flower on the Deck for 2014”

I just opened my eyes, rolled over and checked the clock.  It was 6:30am and I was awake, it was morning, and the only thing on my body that wasn’t sore or stiff was my eye balls as I looked around the bedroom.

Without a doubt I love Spring time but OMG the work involved.  The last week has been nuts and the weather has been just warm enough to make me crazy. As always I tend to overdo at this time of the year in my lame attempt to make the warm weather get her just a little sooner.  I’ve been "garden" involved almost one hundred percent these last few weeks.  I’m trying to get as much of the preparation done as I can before I take my trip to Texas over Memorial Day.  I’ll be returning from there just after the holiday and I need the garden ready for planting when I get back.

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My main project for the last week was the rebuilding and repairing of the raised beds that I initially built five years ago out of non-pressure treated lumber.  They were slowly rotting away and were filled with bugs and other unwelcome guests.  It was easy enough to just tear the wood out of the ground but getting the required replacement lumber to the house without paying Lowe’s  huge delivery fee was a bit more difficult. I have no immediate access to a pickup truck so I had to improvise.  I drive a small and cute PT Cruiser that is my all time favorite vehicle.  I was forced to turn her into a workhorse for two days as I made numerous trips from Lowe’s to my house with 12 foot long pressure treated boards sticking out the passenger side window at least four feet.  It was the only way I could get them in the car and close the rear tailgate door.  It made for a very interesting drive home. I accomplished it without killing any pedestrians who happened to be standing along the edge of the road and I also dodged hundreds of mailboxes that I came within inches of as I sped past.

Everything was delivered to the house with minimal damage to the car, to me, or any innocent bystanders.  It’s not something I ever want to try again. Lugging all those heavy boards around has accounted for most of my sore muscles and general overall feeling of "death warmed over".

The pictures will show the new and improved beds and the other work that was done.  The gardens have been cultivated, composted, and the fabric put in place covering the soil.

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This week I’ll be planting the cold weather crops such as lettuce, kale, and spinach. I visited a nearby nursery yesterday and made a few preliminary purchases to place temporarily into the cold frames. While chatting with the owner I was able to pick up some valuable information on upcoming weather patterns and all of the problems with specific plants lost or damaged due to the rough winter.

I’m now in the process of preparing the hoses and sprinklers for installation. They should be up and operational in a day or two and then I can relax for a week or so before my trip.

My better-half is suffering from a raging Spring Fever that has taken complete control of her life. We have a wrap-around deck that partially circles the second floor of our house. This deck becomes our second home during the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  As you can see she has moved many and assorted pots to the deck to begin planting her container garden. She’ll have pots full of a grand assortment of flowers and certain selected vegetables making it like  a jungle out there in just a few weeks time.

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Once I return from Texas I’ll be back to my good old Maine gardening ways doing all of the things I enjoy most. Fortunately for us both all of the really hard work will have been completed by then allowing us to enjoy the garden and deck time well into September. Then the canning, herb drying, and wine bottling can commence once again.

03-31-2013   1 comment

I hope your Easter celebration went well.  I usually don’t celebrate Easter since I’m not much of a believer.  If you don’t celebrate it religiously what remains is kind of ridiculous.  Rabbits, colored eggs, egg hunts, and all the other nonsense tend to make me a little crazy.  My better-half loves to celebrate Easter and regardless of my feelings she goes a little overboard (big surprise) every year.

I was ordered to sleep in today because, hoo-ray hoo-ray, she had a day off.  I was told in no uncertain terms that we’d be sleeping in as long as possible to start our day. I was certainly okay with that. I offered to make her breakfast in bed but she declined and then directed me to get dressed so we could get out of the house and spend a part of the day in the sunshine. That sounded good too so I did. We finally rolled out of bed and what do I find waiting for me but an Easter basket with enough candy stuffed into it to feed a large family.  As usual I had nothing for her because I’m what you might call an Anti-Easter person. She wanted to celebrate the holiday and I was making sure we celebrated her day off as well.

She began preparations for our Easter breakfast which I immediately put a stop to.  I told her to get dressed because we were first going out for breakfast and then to the beach.  We drove along the ocean to Old Orchard Beach and stopped for breakfast at one of our favorite spots and it was terrific.  We had a window seat and were able to watch everyone as they arrived in town to walk the beach with their families and pets.  It was obvious that everyone was more than ready for the long winter to finally be over.

The breakfast was excellent and the place was crowded with people enjoying their Easter Sunday.  We stopped back at the car, grabbed our cameras, and hit the beach.  When I say everyone was out I wasn’t kidding. People, kids, dogs, and even a couple of horses were sunbathing and some were even crazy enough to walk in the freezing surf.  It was just wonderful.  We stayed for a hour or two after taking some really cool photographs of our day.

After returning home we just spent some quiet time together and then made the obligatory telephone calls to family and friends.  The sun was still shining so we brought the grill out of storage and reinstalled it back on the deck.  I marinated and grilled two gorgeous steaks while she prepared a couple of salads and baked potatoes.  The food was delicious and when we finished eating we cleaned up the mess and plopped on the couch to relax.

It wasn’t long before she began to yawn and I knew her day was almost over since she had to be up early for work.  She was happy and contented and obviously enjoyed her Easter celebration a great deal. I as always was grateful for our time together which is precious to me.

It was a great day and the perfect way to start our changeover from Winter to Spring. I hope your day was even better than ours.

02-21-2013   1 comment

With winter seeming to drag on endlessly I decided to spend time today working with my photographs.  I currently have almost fifteen thousand photos taken over the last five years that need to be properly sorted, filed, and backed up.  It’ a tedious and time consuming process but absolutely necessary when dealing with these large numbers of pictures.

It’s a chore that  I really enjoy and it gives me an opportunity to again relive when I took them and in many cases why I took them.  The last two summers I’ve been involved photographing a subject I just love, dragonflies.  Dragonflies have become one of my all time passions due to their delicacy and beauty.  I purchased a great lens about five years ago and it’s primarily used to take macro photo’s.  These photo’s are so detailed you’re able to see the segmented wings and the gorgeous colors like never before.

In a local area nearby I found a small isolated pond that teems with dragonflies of all types and colors.  I spent many hours sitting near the swampy end of that pond amongst the cattails observing the dragonflies and attempting to identify the many types I was seeing.  They’re very curious and upon my arrival they normally swarmed around me to see what I was doing. Getting them to pose for photo’s was difficult at best because they almost never stop moving.  It was frustrating to say the least and it required me to study up on the species in an attempt to solve that problem.

They live in a larva stage in the water of ponds often for years where they’re able to prey on small fish to survive. The winged stage is very short and is for mating, egg laying, mosquito eating, and then death.  They’ve been around in one form or another for millions of years and have slowly evolved into these smaller versions of the originals.  Fossils have been found with dragonflies more than two feet long.

I did discover that many of the smaller ones I photographed were not actually dragonflies but damselflies.  Dragonflies have huge eyes that touch each other but the damselflies eyes are separated and they’re much smaller.  They come in a number of vivid colors but the ones I see most often are an electric blue.  Both species as I mentioned earlier are very curious and militantly territorial.  They spend their entire lives looking for food and fighting to maintain those territories whether in the water or out.  They’re what you might call scrappy.

I needed to find a way to get them to sit still for a few seconds. Taking their photographs in flight while OK wasn’t giving me the detail that I needed.  I first took a small piece of gum and attached it to the end of a reed sticking up in the swamp.  They did land occasionally on those reeds and it appeared they were resting or possibly sunning themselves.  No luck with that strategy, they landed for a second and then were gone. I next tried a drop of sugar water on the reed and had some successes but still not what I was looking for. Eventually I found an ant, squished it, and then placed a piece of it on the end of the reed.  Bingo, they landed and stayed for  a few seconds longer than usual and I began to get some great pictures.

Over the next two months I took some truly amazing photographs.  Once they determined I wasn’t a threat they forgot about me completely and came close with little or no fear.  If you’d like to give it a try you’ll  certainly need a great deal of patience and a supply of ants.

Well, back to the computer to finish up my sorting.  I’m starting to get a small jolt  of spring fever and excited for warm weather so I can get back to the swamp.

Posted February 22, 2013 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying

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02-09-2013   2 comments

Nemo is dead, long live the king.  The final tally for our area of Maine was approximately 38 inches of snow and one hell of a wind storm. We have a few drifts of five or six feet but nothing more serious than that. It could have been a whole lot worse.

After all of the snow-blowing today I won’t be able to left my arms tomorrow. I think I’ve finally bonded with this new snow-thrower, it’s now my BFF.  It took a good part of the day to clear the driveway and then more disappointment. There was so much snow on the roads that the plows weren’t able to arrive until late afternoon. Even then they were only able to  clear one lane in the middle of the road.

I’m hoping they’re able to widen the lanes a little more so we an get out of here for a while tomorrow. Even the birds were having serious issues trying to hang onto the bird feeder in a thirty-five mph wind.  Not only were they fighting amongst themselves for the food but also fighting  for a place on the bird feeder that offered some protection from the wind.

Our neighbors were out in force in mid-afternoon as the snow gradually stopped.  It was nice to see everyone helping each other for a change in a neighborhood where individual privacy is the norm.

My better-half spent a lot of time emailing and connecting with family members from areas unaffected by the storm. She was also distributing photo’s far and wide to almost everyone.  I feel for anyone who might have been caught in this blizzard with vehicle problems or medical emergencies. This kind of weather is definitely life threatening if not taken seriously.

The only good news for most of the state was the low number of power outages.  We managed to escape the massive outages  suffered in past storms due to a great deal of work by tree trimming crews throughout the summer months who cut down what would have been snow laden branches. Kudos to Central Maine Power and the local towns whose preventative work paid off in a big way.

I’ll be spending a few hours tomorrow in the final cleanup and then life will return to normal.  I’m been hearing rumblings of another storm approaching in a few days and I hope to God it’s a little less of a problem than this one.

Everyone will be back to work tomorrow and life goes on. I’m really proud of myself because if what the media says is true (sarcasm), I’ve just survived my thirteenth "Storm of the Century".  I think I should get some kind of honorable mention somewhere in that Guinness Book of World Records.

I won’t hold my breath though.  Enjoy your day while I return to the cleanup.

12-25-2012   Leave a comment

This may be the best Christmas morning I’ve ever had.  My better-half with help from my nagging stayed in bed until ten o’clock.  We left the bedroom only for calls from Mother Nature and to refill our coffee mugs.  We laid there like two fat, dumb, and happy morons celebrating the fact that the holiday was over for us. It was lightly snowing at the time but by days end we had our traditional White Christmas.  I think we could have stayed in that warm and toasty bed all day but my better-half had her engine running early and was getting a bit antsy.  She forced me from the bed and the room which kind of  “harshed my Christmas morning buzz” a bit.  Dammit!

For most of the day we were on the phones, on the computers, or on the IPads wishing good cheer to the whole damn planet.  She spent a few hours reviewing all of the photographs that she’d taken over the holiday (about 600), erasing the bad, and burning the good to CD’s for other family members. It was still a lazy and relaxing day, it was great.

It took me a little longer than I thought to clear the Christmas debris from the house because I was busy eating goodies left over from last night.  I’ll tell you right now, it’s going to take me a few months to get rid of all this Christmas cheer that showed up just north of my belt buckle. We had a quiet dinner, just the two of us, where we devoured a rib roast that was to die for.  Fat and sassy after the meal we repaired to the living room for movie night. 

Here’s my take on the movies we watched.  Katherine Heigl in ‘One for the Money’ wasn’t too shabby.  She was supposed to be a bounty hunter which took a real stretch of my imagination to believe but then seeing her semi-nude made it almost worth the wait.  I give it a C+ for story, B- for nudity. 

Then we fired up the movie (using the term loosely) ‘Horrible Bosses’.  It was well named because it was really horrible.  How anyone convinced Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Anniston to even consider being in it was beyond me. Dumb, and Dumber meets Police Squad.  I give it an F- for story and an A- for nudity when I got to see a little more of brunette Jen than ever before. Trust me, if anyone tries to give you a gift of that movie, give it back, and remove them from your list of friends.  Just freaking awful.

The better-half was in bed early with a 4:00 am wakeup call looming.  I found it necessary to stay up for a while longer and to kick Tiger Woods ass in an eighteen hole X-box tournament.  It felt good to crawl into bed finally and to put another Christmas behind us.

Onward to New Years and 2013.

Posted December 26, 2012 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying

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