Thursday, August 21, 2008

f/11. Hold it steady.

I have an idea. Maybe a crazy one and maybe bad, but I thought I'd throw it out there and see if anyone else thinks this would be interesting and fun.

I've been participating in the Exposaroonie challenges for a couples of months, which has been fun, but they seem to be on vacation and a larger issue is that there isn't a lot of feedback. You submit your picture in that week's theme and people vote on the one they like the best. It is pretty non-threatening, but I feel like it would be very helpful to know why something works and (more importantly) why not. Other groups I've seen are too big and the participants are so much better than me that I am immediately intimidated and don't even try. Have I mentioned that I am a bit on the shy side and easily intimidated?

So. I was thinking if there are others who are interested in improving their photographic skills, we could create a group blog to share photos, constructive criticism and information. As I've thought more about this a couple ideas have taken shape. I like the use of themes, both technical (aperture, exposure length, black and white, etc.) and thematic (portraits, flowers, buildings, etc.), but rather than do one per week, maybe do one per month and post photos once a week (or more) so we could try different things or improve on what we've already tried. My other thought is rather than posting photos in a vacuum, we could talk about what inspired the picture, the settings used, any editing that was done, etc.

Anyone interested?


The title of this post, by the way, is from Walker Evans. This past Monday PBS aired "Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI Photographers". A painter (whose name I did not catch) really wanted to learn photography, Walker Evans was getting into a taxi, about to leave on one of his trips for the FSA, the painter cried out, "Please Walker! Tell me just one thing about the camera I can use!". Evans replied, "f/11. Hold it steady." I think that would be a good title.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trumpet Vine


Trumpet Flower

Len's Projects

We have a pool. It is completely ridiculous to have a pool in Michigan, especially if the pool does not have a heater, since it is only warm enough to use for 2 or 3 months of the year. Once nighttime temperatures dip into the 50's, it's all over. The pool didn't come with a heater and we are too cheap to buy one (not the mention the amount of electricity the thing would suck up). Yes, solar panels don't suck up electricity, but they are not cheap. We are cheap. Len, especially, is cheap. When faced with a problem like this, what is a cheap man to do? Rig something up.

His first idea was get lots of hose, drape it over our barn and use a pump and timer thingie to suck water out of the pool, allow it to heat up in the hose (draped over the black roof) for some amount of time and spit it back into the pool. I nixed that idea when he started spending money on it, since I did not want to look at hose draped over the barn. Plus, he couldn't get the timer to work properly.

His next idea involved building a lattice of copper pipe (which he found), putting it over a bonfire and pumping the water through, this time not on a timer, but continually. This idea apparently worked reasonably well (and I didn't have to look at it), but wasn't pumping enough water through to make a difference. The fire needed to be closer to the pool. And since there are tall weeds and trees, it needed to be safe(ish).

Pool Heater

This, my friends, is a pool heater. Yeah, that's ok, I'll wait for you stop laughing. Done? Ok, there is a lattice of copper tubing in the firebox, there is a pump in the pool and they are attached by the hose. Len says the water is quite warm when it goes back into the pool, but will it be enough to get another month out of the pool? We shall see.

Len's other project, the chickens, is coming along nicely:


Eggs! His more experienced friend Craig warned him these may not have yolks, in which case these are practice eggs.

And the puppy?


Seriously. We renamed her Lizzie, which makes her our's.


Fred would like you to know that she is still VERY cute.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tonight's Agenda

Tonight's Agenda

I'm exhausted.

I updated yesterday's post to include an e-mail from Penny. I'm thinking it would be interesting and useful to gather this history into one narrative. Something to talk to my aunts and their cousins about when I see them in September (but not a project to start until after canning season!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Comment from my Dad

My dad sent me an e-mail about yesterday's and last November's post, which fills in some missing pieces:

The top piece in the 11/07 posting was taken in their basement (I think). I doubt that he would have taken his stool to a show. But you could be right. He certainly did do demonstrations at shows. That piece is my favorite piece of his and it was meant to become a carrying bag. The slide of it laying on the lawn (08/2008 posting) is a better representation of the colors.

The gold and brown piece (in the 11/2007 post) is another one of Dad's. It is with one of the sisters/aunts. This may be the double sided rug. That is, there is a completely different pattern on the back. Very cool. I can ask one of the sisters. If not maybe they could provide a picture of the double sided rug.

The bottom piece in the 08/2008 posting is the last piece he worked on and almost finished. He worked on it the day before he died. The picture is upside down. You start weaving from the bottom and weave to an inch or two from the top, then you work down from the top. He would use umbrella stays for the last several rows. It is amazing to me how people doing this kind of weaving can make patterns match where the last few rows of weft go in. I have never been able to see the seam in any of his pieces.
Additional comment from Penny:
I think very little of Mom's work was photographed. It's too bad too as she did some outstanding pieces. Dad's work was so different for the time that it was given a lot more attention. They both were good weavers, but Dad's eye for color and design was outstanding.

I have one of the double-faced rugs. He started it on the back patio of the little house on Fillmore* and I have a few pictures of him working on it there. When it was time for them to head north to Montana, like a good Navajo-style weaver, he rolled it up, wrapped it in plastic and tied it to the top of the jeep. I also have that last piece -- still unfinished and yet the most treasured.
*In Scottsdale, AZ, where Penny lived for many years.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weaving and History

My aunt Penny has a letter in the most recent issue of Handwoven about her memories of the Henry Ford supplied looms in her two room schoolhouse (the children in the picture are not my aunts, or my father). I had written in November about a set of slides I had scanned. Here are a couple more images of my grandpa's weaving from that set:

I don't have any more pictures of my grandmother's weaving, although I do have a few things: a belt she wove on the inkle loom, a shawl she wove for her sister (my great aunt Jeannette) and an afghan. All of us grandkids received an afghan, I remember that my afghan was the only one she wove. My dad says my brother Ken's was woven as well, and that Aaron and Krista's were knitted. He's most likely right, even if I'd like to think he is wrong (although, now that I know how to do both, the knitted afghans took a lot more tenacity. I, myself, would rather weave a blanket than knit one!)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Quick Picture Post

Miss Hairdo steps out:

Miss Hairdo Steps Out

Len thinks she is head honcho chez Chicken Central:

The Ladies

Crab apples after a short rain:



Thursday, August 07, 2008

Awards and Buttercup

I haven't managed to get a better picture of Miss Buttercup due to dead camera batteries and other distractions. I do, however, have a better idea of what the newest member of our family (heaven help us) is like. Her father is a mutt, apparently with some Rottweiler characteristics, and her mother (Craig and Chrissy's dog, Pumpkin) is an American Bulldog*. She is a very sweet, well-tempered 6 month old puppy, she hasn't shown even a second of aggression towards us or the cats. She started out trying to eat the cat food, but after being told No a couple of times, doesn't even look at it (nor does she drink their water). The only problem we've had so far is trying to keep her from jumping up on us when she's excited (if anyone who has had dogs has any suggestions, I'd be grateful!)

*I wasn't sure about this since I thought Pumpkin was a bit short, but Len assures me that I am underestimating her height. Not her weight, though, that dog is a rock!

Fred Says "It's Too Hot!"

Fred is none too sure about this dog situation. But she is too hot to protest. Simon refuses, grumpily, to be put out. Gwen refuses to come out of Judy's room. And Judy continues to be a problem.

In other news: I came back from my chaos-filled weekend to discover that Valerie had honored me with an Arte y Pico award. I don't know what to say, except, Thank You!

There are rules, and they are:

1) You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.
2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the ward itself.
4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y pico" blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.
5) To show these rules.

Five. Five is hard! Ok, here are five blogs which have this insane combination of fiber and photography which I find incredibly inspirational:

Black Dog Knits
The Daily Purl
six and a half stitches
Whispering Pine

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The end of last week was very bad. Someone I know got a tragic diagnosis, something broke into the chicken house and killed a chicken, and my cousin's husband died. Nope. Not fun.

My weekend was pure chaotic insanity, which kept my mind off of the ugliness happening elsewhere, but also kept me at the edge of meltdown most of the time (it was achieved at about 9:00 pm on Sunday).

I went blueberry picking on Saturday morning with some friends. Len came home in the afternoon and we went over to our friends' to pick up this little darling:


Seriously, how could you resist that face? I'll tell you more about her tomorrow (and have a better picture).

Beans, Relish and Blueberry Jam

The rest of the weekend was spent on this: Dilly Beans, Dill Relish, Blueberry Jam, and imagine the Sweet Relish, which I already gave to one of my sisters. I made the jam on Saturday and the rest during a marathon session on Sunday. Somehow Len managed to invite some friends over and his sister stopped by. It was Not Good. But, the good part is that I won't have to do it again for a few days, which sounds like a luxury.