Leo and Tigger say, “Thanks for putting those new paper presents on the window for us…”
“…but we like THIS new present better!”
Our storm-refugee company, my friend Tim and my Mom, are still with us. Mom’s power went on yesterday, but Tim’s is still off, and they elected to stay a while longer, especially with another storm heading our way. Tim brought his computer, and it’s been nice having someone else working in my studio the last few days. Tigger seems to like it, too.
As for Leo, he’d rather try to catch the birds at the window feeder, even though he never can. He sits staring and talking quietly about those darn birds, then leaps up repeatedly, trying to get them, or at least scare them. At first they fly away, but already they’re getting used to him and beginning to ignore him.
The storm arrived as scheduled today bringing some wet snow with it. Not a lot, but enough to cover some of the ground.
Here’s the back yard with more feeders and the pond. It should all melt soon, as the ground is not very cold, but things could be different north and west of us. And the barrier islands, still trying to recover from Sandy, don’t need any more wind and storm surge, but will get some anyway. Hopefully not much.
Once a year, like it or not (and, oh how much they DON’T like it) our cats get a bath. Ellen’s family will be visiting for a week soon, and her sister Ann is allergic to cats. This seems to help some. Tigger is the first victim.
Oh, the indignity!
Getting towelled off.
Leo’s the next victim. He’s a little more cooperative.
What are you doing to me?!
Leo get’s towelled.
And now the licking begins, and will continue for several hours as they put all that cat saliva back onto their fur. Our older cat, Katie, has been spared the ordeal this year, Ellen says she’s too old to go through it. Just as well, she got the drift quickly and is thoroughly hidden!
Summer is here, and intense critter watching has given way to more lazy heat-bath sleeping on the porch for Tigger and Leo. Summer has begun with two heat waves already, allowing us to enjoy two Saturday afternoons at the beach much earlier than usual. Both last week and yesterday the water was as warm as we usually only have it in August, the water was clear with no seaweed or jellyfish, and the beach was lovely. Perhaps this year we’ll be telling our summer beach visitors, “you should have been here in June!”
We had a battalion of strong thunderstorms and high winds that blew through Friday night causing lots of power outages and fallen trees in the area, but fortunately we dodged that, finding only some downed branches and lots of leaves on the ground Saturday morning.
The heat outside makes it easier to stay inside and get things done, and that’s what I’ve been doing. The run-up to the San Diego Comic-Con means editors are pushing to get work done before everyone heads out there, and I’ve had plenty to do. This past week wasn’t too bad, but the week before I lettered over 100 pages, which is a lot for one week. I have some to work on this weekend, and expect more next week. Meanwhile, I’m also trying to get more logos from my files scanned for my “Logo of the Day” feature on Facebook, gradually going through all the DC logos I copied when I went to the offices in 2009. There are a lot, and I’ll have more of my own logos to scan as well, but there are plenty of others out there I still need good copies of, mainly from companies other than DC.
This afternoon we’re attending a performance of “Man of La Mancha” at a local playhouse for Ellen’s birthday, then having dinner out, so that should be fun. Summer is here, and we need to find our fun when we can!
The digital camera I’ve been using since 2003, an Olympus C-730, has served me well, and taken thousands of great pictures, but at times I ran up against its limitations, too. It has a 10x optical zoom and 3.2 Megapixel image size, and has been great for a point and shoot camera. A few weeks ago I noticed that there was debris inside the lens, some of it on the lens surface, creating blurry spots in my photos. I had no way of getting it out, and didn’t think it was worth having it professionally cleaned. I decided it was time for a new camera. I spent about a week reading up and shopping online and settled on this Panasonic Lumix FZ150. It’s what’s called a “bridge” camera, meant to bridge the divide between point and shoot cameras and full-fledged SLRs. It has a single non-changeable lens, but what a lens! It zooms from wide angle to 24x optical magnification. Picture size is about 12 Megapixels, so four times more detail in the images than my previous camera. And it has lots of other features I thought would be handy, including a large LCD screen for shooting or viewing photos and videos (it does that, too) as well as a viewfinder, image stabilization, a top-rated automatic mode and lots of manual options. The camera arrived yesterday, and today I spent some time using it.
This morning I went out birding and picture-taking first in Belleplain State Forest, and it was a beautiful sunny morning. I was hoping for some good birds to test the abilities of the camera, and I found a few.
Here’s a Summer Tanager shot at full 24x zoom, then cropped to make the bird appear even larger.
And here’s a Worm-Eating Warbler at much the same settings. These are two birds I could never have captured this well with my old camera, so I’m very pleased. Of course, the opportunities to get good photos of small songbirds are always rare, so there were plenty I missed because they were moving to much, hiding too much, or just plain invisible!
As far as wide angle shots, the camera does great with those as well, with East Creek Pond, above, as an example.
I then drove to Beaver Dam Road for another birding spot and found this Snowy Egret, a much larger bird, and one that’s much easier to photograph.
Butterflies are smaller than birds, but usually easier to photograph because they sit still for a while. This Spicebush Swallowtail posed helpfully in the sandy road.
Some butterflies are quite small, like this Red-Banded Hairstreak, and they’re more challenging, but the zoom on the new camera made it pretty easy to get this shot. Compare the size of the sand grains here to the picture above to get an idea of the size difference.
Back home I tried out the flash on our older cat, Katie.
And took this of the boys, Tigger and Leo, on our screened porch.
I took lots of yard pictures, but I’ll show just this one, which I like the best, of a Bumblebee on an Azalea.
I’m very happy with the camera, and you can expect lots of pictures from it here in the future. And if I can figure out how to get video onto my Mac, maybe some of that, too, we’ll see.