Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Garden Report

I have completed the Dragonfly Trifecta!

In July, Patrick danced with dragonflies and Joe had cocktails with one. Today, one of these garden visitors decided to stop teasing me and posed on the faded head of a plantain flower. And what a chance to see what the new camera could do.

Do click to embiggen and admire those wings!

Yes, there's a new camera. It's been a tax-free weekend here in Massa chusetts and I'd been saving up some money saved from not smoking (30 days today!!) and such since my old camera went on to its reward back in the spring.

So now I'm experimenting with something new, an Olympus FE-310. So far, I'm having a great time with it, though I'm not sure I'm interested in the photo program that came along with the PhotoPlus 6.0 does all I need it to for developing purposes.

The first tentative photos were taken at that house party I visited last night. To the left are Vera and Chicao, two of our hosts...and down below is the whole bunch of us.

There had been other guests earlier, whom I unfortunately missed, but it was still fun to hang out for a while with everyone who was there when I arrived after a long night at work. Good tunes, a little dancing and Vera's special Brazilian potato salad!

Mmm mmm.

Here's me with Maria Paolo, Rocio and Katerin, who are all here on work visas from Columbia this summer.

By day, they are working as chamber maids, but in the evenings, the make the best team trio of dishwashers our restaurant has known in years! Plus, they're funny and sweet and great to party with!!

Despite the late night (it was around 2 a.m. when those pictures were taken!), I was up pretty early this morning, since I couldn't wait to get the new camera out for a spin in the garden.

A fresh round of bachelor's buttons provided some nice camera fodder. These little flowers - each one's about an inch across - just keep coming and coming...and in a great assortment of colors.

I just love the blue ones, but there are many of them up and down the fence garden. Naturally, I'm being won over by the purple ones in the color range, which were part of a range of about five different colors, so they are fewer in number.

The dappled sunlight behind this pair of purple pals is pretty delicious, too.

There's lots to learn about the new camera, so eventually I will have to sit down and have some quality time with the manual, to make sure I'm making full use of everything.

But I'm happy to say that its also pretty intuitive, and I've been having fun exploring some of the different settings.

As you might guess, my favorite, and one of the most appropriate to the Midnight Garden, is the macro-focus...and this camera also has a super-macro focus, and to celebrate I managed to stalk a few bees who were visiting the border this morning for your entertainment.

As you can see, sunshine made a full return to the Cape today and it really felt like summer. Looks like that'll be staying with us a for a few days, which is a comfort, since it's clear now the summer season is in decline.

In a moment typical of the sort of Charlie Brown-y moments which punctuate my life, last night I finally discovered my official cocktail for the 2008 Summer Season.

It's light and refreshing and mellow enough to enjoy more than one without falling down on my face. Being a frozen drink, the only real danger is a brain freeze from speedy consumption.

And no sooner did I victoriously hoist that Midori Colada in the air than leaves began falling from nearby trees, signalling the end of the season.

; )

Howdy, pardners! Life brought a straw cowboy hat my way this afternoon at work, when we hosted the annual un-birthday celebration of a local family.

This year's theme was cowboys and they were all appropriately attired, a wonderful Cape Cod mix of cowboy boots and flip-flops...and there were hats for all the staff who worked the party, too!

And just in time for Carnival Parade.

As I tried out the zoom feature, I caught this sunset-illuminated jet plane high overhead. It was flying east, out over the ocean, so I assume it was an international flight, though it occurs to me it might just have been circling around to approach Logan Airport in Boston from that direction.

In between pictures, I managed some serious dead-heading of the garden tonight. As always, lots of spent marigolds to remove, some more allyssum to trim back...a few faded bachelor's buttons here and there.

More of the daisies had gone past, so they were taken out and some of the coneflower rudbeckia was thinned a little, to encourage some late season reblooming.

I also took shears in hand and addressed the business of the now- tower ing spikes of evening primrose, pruning them back to something lower growing.

We'll see how well they respond to this sort of treatment; my suspicion is they will get bushy and stay a little shorter--I wish I'd thought to cut them back earlier in the season.

Once again, I unwound a great many morning glory vines around the re-captured flags on the fence, so for at least the next few hours, they should be able to flap with abandon on the occasional sea-breeze.

With nightfall coming just a little sooner, the deadheading turned into lighting candle lanterns in the garden and before long it was dark, leaving me free to head inside to sample that first Early Girl tomato.

There were two, actually, but I discovered that the second one had a nasty patch of mold growing on the bottom of it, so that one was jettisoned, but this one sliced nicely and was very tasty.

It would've made a nice tomato sandwich - the kind I've been craving all summer - if I had remembered that we had no bread in the house. But it was yummy just as it was...and tomorrow I'll make sure I'm stocked up to make a proper sandwich with the next couple in the harvest schedule.

It's not quite a full moon anymore--that was last night, but that just means I have a whole month to figure out how to take a great moon photo (no wisecracks, you lot...oh, ha ha...cracks...yah, whatever...) with the camera.

This one's not bad, but you can't see Jackie Gleason's face.


Butch said...

Greg, you've out done yourself with this most recent entry. From the dragonfly to the bees, to the yummy looking picture of the sliced tomatoes. I was doing fine until I saw the tomatoes, now I have to go into the kitchen and slice me some and perhaps, have something else. ;-) Love your new camera. The pictures are beautiful.

Congratulations on your smoke-free month.

MartininBroda said...

Actually great photos – I mean the “super-macro focus” pictures. ;-)
Is there anything better than keep a moment of beauty? I hope you’re just enjoying the camera.

tornwordo said...

The dragonfly is amazing. We tried to get moon shots too but all came out fuzzy. The super macro (I've got the FE 340) only really works with a tripod I've found.

Greg said...

Butch, ha ha...glad you had some produce waiting to be sliced after you finished visiting the Garden.

Hey Martin, glad you enjoyed the photos; the new camera's a lot of fun!

Torn, except for the moon and lantern shots(which were tripod-ed), these were all hand-held.

I don't think I had yet discovered super-macro when the dragonfly posed for me.

Birdie said...

Wait, wait. You read the manual? Turn in your guy card.

Beautiful shot of the dragonfly! And the flowers. And the bees. And the friends. Well, I think you've got the new camera well under way. Looking forward to more moon shots with Jackie Gleason's face.

Greg said...

No, no. Hold on now. I have not read the manual yet.

I only meant I *might* eventually want to get my money's worth and take a look to make sure that I'm not missing some key features.

Have no fear, Birdie. I'm still flying blind!! ; )

(But when I'm driving, I'm not afraid to stop and ask my card might be in jeopardy just the same...)

CJ said...

Those are indeed awesome shots. So patient you are. Are you using a tripod? Just gorgeous.

dec0r8or said...

You guys are cracking me up. Greg, you're lookin' GOOD, my man! I'm really liking that mustache...and the cowboy hat just makes it all work! I've always had a thing for Sam Elliot, so maybe that's where this is all coming from? LOL! Stop by my place--I'm having a 100th post party with giveaways and everything!

Anonymous said...

You and I seem to be on a course of introducing new words to the English language. I like that. The dragonfly that you captured is beautiful. I had been thinking the same thing about 2 weeks ago about how I would ever be able to capture one when they are such "flutterers." No sooner than the day after did I capture some. The colors seem a lot richer on photos. Hopefully you'll work your way to adjusting with the new one. :-)

Java said...

I love that dragonfly picture. You're right, the detail on the embiggened image is amazing.
I'm liking the purple bachelor buttons best, I think.
Congratulations on the new camera.
Oh, and the tomato! That's just nifty, having your garden's first tomato. Too bad about the bread. Sounds like our house.

TigerYogiji said...

Simply glorious! That camera was certainly worth the price!!

P.S. Well, Hello Chicao!!! ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

Pith helmets and then cowboy hats... a couple more and it would be a seriously entertaining photo montage. :)

Looks like the party was a blast, and that you had a pretty nice weekend.

Congrats on 30 days without smoking. THAT is a serious accomplishment.

Cheers to you, my friend!!!

Greg said...

Thanks, CJ...I'm afraid I owe you the truth, though: I'm not always very patient.

Most of these were hand-held shots (the new cam also has image stabilization) and the insects, well, that's always more luck than anything: a combination of having the camera ready when they appear...and not moving TOO quickly in their direction as you focus!

Hey, Sherm! Thanks...I'm blushin' a little. Ah, Sam Elliot...I hear ya, sister. ONLY 100 posts?!? Oh, that's used to have a different website, back in those pre-blog days of the new century's dawning.

Afod, I love it when new words occur to me. As for the the last garden they would hang out in the garden for days, so I got lots of great pics of them...I've been missing them at this place, so I was psyched when this one appeared and was so cooperative.

Java, mold and mildew are secretly the official flowers of Cape Cod, so it's always a trick keeping bread in the house very long! I was pretty thrilled with that dragonfly...I hope he and some of his pals will be back for another go soon!

And pretty cheap at that, Tigeryogiji! Chicao is kinda cute, isn't he?

Jenn, a photo montage, you say? Hmmm...I'll have to keep that in mind.

Da Old Man said...

Very nice photos. Unbelievable without a tripod. Nice use of embiggens, by the way.

Dantallion said...

The pics are superb - particularly the dragonfly

Robin Easton said...

Boy, I can see I've missed all the action over here at your place!!!! LOL I mean, it's not EVERY post we get to see you hooting it up in a straw cowboy hat. Now that's!!! LOL :) :)

I loved the vitality of this post! Wonderful. And now I am sick with envy over the disgustingly good dragonfly wing shooting camera. I can NOT believe the detail on that thing. Oh well, in due time I too shall enter the world of the "elite" garden photographers.

Seriously, that camera does an excellent job...but then you are also a creative and excellent photographer.

Enjoyed this post a LOT!
Thanks Greg,

Greg said...

Hey, Old Man, thanks for stopping by! Glad you approve of my use of Simpsonian vocab...and the pictures, too.

Thanks, Dan--nice to see you, too!

Hi Robin...nice to see you! The dragonfly was nice enough to pose and I was lucky enough to already have the macro feature enabled for flower shots.

Joie Mayfield said...

Congrats on 30 days!!! :) I'm proud of you!!!

Your mum said...

Hey, my ragtime cowboy - wonderful dragonfly and bumbler - wish I could have shared those with my summer kiddies - that new camera was a wonderful investment but your talent still tops the rest of us! Don't you love nature's way of adding those fake eyes on the dragonfly to frighten predators? Amazing what you learn when you prep for a summer reading program.

Love you, Groogie

Greg said...

Thanks, Joie.

'Ello, Mum! I don't think I knew that about the dragonfly before! Glad you enjoyed the photos!! : )

lostlandscape said...

Nice macro shots! I got an exchangeable-lens system last spring and yet have to stick on my precious old macro lens on it. So yours lets you get that close without swapping lenses? Cool.

Those tomatoes look amazing--worth the wait I hope! I always hate to throw away fruits, even when they're starting to go. A little creative surgery often saves a tomato that's going. It probably helps that they're so acid and maybe fight off some of the microbes. Dunno. My end will probably come from picking up something from the garden after eating a fruit or veggie that some critter has started...

T.R. said...

It's so nice to come here at the end of a long day and be inspired by all this beautiful color -- right down to those beautiful South Americans. Pienso que tu es muy afortunado!

I know all too well what victory that dragonfly represents. That image has eluded me for years. I remain patient and you give me some hope.

spookydragonfly said...

Great shots, Greg!!...of course, the dragonfly is my favorite...but, you in the straw hat...definately a close second!! You look good in straw!! (not everybody can say that!).

Bird said...

Oh, where to start! The dragonfly is beautiful, and there you are having fun too, and then there is the lovely tomato (Our tomatoes are just starting to ripen too, as are the chilli peppers)and very excitingly YOUR NEW CAMERA!!!! I am excited for you, and those pictures are great you can really see the quality. I'm impressed especially by how well it handles highlights. My camera always blows them out.

Oh, is this the theme tune from "Bewitched?"

Wonder Man said...

Love the pics and love the hat. You have incredible vision for capturing scenes and images