Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just Browsing

This may sound strange, but I like to browse in liquor stores. I like to look at all the interesting displays and the beautiful wine labels and pretty bottles. This week I was captivated by the vodka section. There are some really wonderful looking bottle shapes and design work on vodka bottles. And there are so many different kinds of vodka, you wouldn't believe it. Well, you might, but I was surprised.

Take that Pravda Vodka, for example. Who would have thought it has been around since 1743 (this is the first time I've ever noticed it) and is made in the Carpathian Mountains of Southern Poland with "simply the finest ingredients in the world--the purest spring water, the sweetest, most natural, untreated late-harvest rye." This just shows how dumb I am. I didn't know vodka was made from rye. I always thought it was made from potatoes.

Lest you think this is starting to sound like an ad for Pravda, let me assure you it is not. I am merely appreciating the stunning art on display in the vodka section. I never drink the stuff myself. I could never part with that bejeweled bottle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy, Happy, Birthday, Baby

Happy Birthday, you little cutie.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Sky Is Falling

This is officially (according to me) the wettest, darkest, coolest spring on record. My flowers and vegetables are just languishing around, too sopping wet to do anything but try to dry out. I've taken to putting everything under the eaves or tables trying to keep the rain off for a while. The lack of sunshine is making everyone crabby and depressed. Who would have thought you could get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the spring?

I went to a couple of garden centers this week and I feel sorry for those owners. All the plants look sickly and drab. The Jersey strawberry crop is pretty much shot, and the corn may not be far behind. Mold, fungus, mildew--you name it; we've got it. Instead of singing "June is bustin' out all over," we're singing "who'll stop the rain?"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Make Your Photos Sparkle

Click on the photo to make it larger

I put a button or badge or whatchamacallit on the left side of my blog announcing a Photo Editing Course taught by Jessica Sprague. I have taken just about every photography course she offers and I can assure you that she seriously knows her stuff. Her courses are written for PhotoShop Elements and the regular Photoshop and if you want to improve your pictures, sign up for this on June 22. Go here. The best news is that she is offering this class totally free. I have no idea why she is doing that, she could get lots of people to throw money at her for this, but it is very generous and not something you should pass up.

To illustrate my point, I've posted two versions of the barn swallow picture I took on Saturday. The one on the left is SOC - straight out of the camera, and the one on the right is the same shot after a little editing I did following Jessica's instructions in another class she gave and I took a while back. When I first downloaded this shot from my camera, I thought it was pretty good. But when I put it next to the one I edited I realized there was no question that a bit of editing (not much, just a bit) improved it greatly. So, do yourself a favor and sign up for the class. You'll be thrilled with all you learn.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

House Tour

This year's annual Library House Tour was more of a garden tour than a house tour and still more of a disappointment. I got scolded at the very first house for taking photos OUTSIDE! You've never been allowed to take pictures inside, which I completely understand, but for the first time, even outside was off limits. The heck with that. That's one of the reasons I go to the tour in the first place. To get ideas and inspiration from the gardens and plantings. The pictures you see here are therefore illegal and I may be prosecuted for taking them, but that is the last time I'm going on this tour anyway.

Of the houses you were allowed into, none were very remarkable except for one or two. One in a good way, and one in a bad.

The #1 house on the tour was outstanding in every way. A beautifully built structure that the owner designed and built in a mere six months. The house had light open large rooms and not too many of them either. There was a great room past the center hall as you walked in with elegant arched French doors all along the back wall which led out to a brick terrace roofed with old barn wood and black walnut wood furniture made from a tree that came from the property.

The left side of the house was devoted to the master suite: a large bedroom, bath, and walk-in closet. The right side held the dining room, kitchen, guest suite, and laundry room. The laundry room even had a tiled dog shower which appealed to me even though I don't have a dog. There were reputed to be 2 more bedrooms and a study upstairs and a large workout room downstairs.

Now for the bad one. I should have known better than to continue on to this one. The road in was rutted, pot-holed and muddy. When we finally got to the end of the driveway, I rolled down my window and said to the guy directing parking, "this better be worth it after that road in." He kind of shook his head and said, "I don't really think it is. It's sort of reminds me of The Addams' Family house, if you know what I mean." Uh oh.

I was still feeling like I might turn around and leave as we drove up the long driveway. Cars were parked along the side in the grass. Now, we've had a lot of rain around here lately and I've seen what happens to cars parked in wet fields too many times to want to experience it again. But luckily (or not) I found a spot on gravel right next to the house, so we got out.

The description in the brochure for this one calls it a "horticulturist's dream." "Nightmare" would have been more accurate. The weeds growing up through the terrace gave us our first clue. And they were weeds. Not charming little plantings of small ground covers that you see in magazines. Great big 3-foot tall weeds. Also from the brochure, "any attempt to describe these gardens in any detail would require a small book." And that would be because they were a jumbled hodgepodge of anything and everything that looked like it was just stuck in the ground in a random, haphazard way, and then left to creep, crawl, wind and suck the life out of anything that happened to get in the way. I can't even describe the house. Now that would require a "small book." Peeling wallpaper, ceiling oozing something unsavory, mismatched furniture just thrown together, not to mention the front porch which had to be 12 feet up from the ground and had a very steep set of wooden stairs with no railings, either on the porch or on the steps. There was a definite feeling of vertigo just stepping out on it and nobody lingered very long. We looked at each other and said "let's get out of here." But that turned out to be a slight problem. See above regarding wet ground. So now the cars are lined up in the driveway and somebody is trying to pull somebody else out of the mud and the whole driveway is blocked. We were trapped!

The owner (the man in the floppy sunhat) is looking on as some Good Samaritan is trying to pull somebody out with that little yellow strap.

The day wasn't a complete waste, however. I did get one picture I love of a barn swallow sitting on a fence. Here it is.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Good Boy!

Now, if he could just teach Republicans to do this, we'd really be getting someplace.