Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Digital Photography Class

I've been taking some really neat (well, in my opinion) photos with the camera I purchased earlier this year after my point and shoot Olympus gave up the ghost after serving me for literally thousands of pictures. I love my new Olympus but decided it was high time to get off the AUTO setting and learn how to use the camera properly. Soooo, I signed up for a digital photography class and had my first meeting last week.

Here's the scenario: This class consists of 8 lovely silver haired ladies who haven't a clue how to use their spiffy new cameras! Upon leaving this first, fully fact filled session, we all stumbled to our cars with a glazed look on our faces, looking for all the world like deer in the headlights. Technology has definitely passed us by!

Our first assignment was to read our camera manuals. Right. ISO, Fstops, aperture openings, portrait, landscape, OEV, depth of field, focal points, Oh! my aching head.

Class # 2 today was more of the same except we actually got to take a few pictures. We also discussed light and how it affects our photos. Extremely informative, except our "homework assignment" is to take lots of portrait photos in different light situations. OK, I know Spike and Sluggo aren't going to pose and I think the only way I'm going to get any shots of H is to sneak up on him when he's asleep in his life sucking chair. Fat Chance!

Any way, here are a couple of photos taken at class of flowers (after all, this is a gardening blog) and one I took of the beautiful leaves turning their brilliant fall hues.

Sluggo did sit still for one glamour shot!
Life is learning something new every day!
Hugs, Giddy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Life is full up here in the north woods. We've been busily preparing for the coming winter season.

Last week, we went to the orchard and picked 20 pounds of apples, 10 pounds of Cortlands and 10 pounds of Macintoshes. The very next day, I prepared 14 jars of apple butter, most of which will be given away as Christmas gifts or baked into a fragrant nut bread.

We've already had one slight, early morning frost which barely touched the morning glories, but it was enough to get us in to gear cutting down two dead cedars for kindling this winter. H and I spent a very pleasant, sunny morning splitting the rounds.

This photo was strictly for show! I just put the rounds on the stump for H to split. That maul is really heavy.

H made short work of the two trees and we now have enough kindling to see us through the long winter. Once the really cold weather sets in, the fire in the wood stove doesn't go out til spring, so we really don't need a lot of kindling and with the price of propane these days, we heat exclusively with wood.

The annual Lobster Feed at the Veteran's club was held on our anniversary (so nice of them to have a party for us!). H and several other vets were in charge of steaming mussels and lobsters while I helped set up and acted as the unofficial photographer for the event. A good time was had by all and the food was out of this world.

The guys were busy waiting for the pots to start boiling for the mussels and lobstah.

Oh my, but dinner was scrumptious!

Always a good time with our friends at the Lobster Feed.

We did take the occasional time out for a wee bit of recreation so we could enjoy the beautiful late summer weather. We made our 6th annual trek up Champlain Mountain in Acadia. Unfortunately, I think this will be our last year making the hike up the 1058 ft mountain as my knees just can't take the downhill part anymore without pain for the next couple of days after the trek. Sigh, I guess we're just getting older.

This enterprising fella shared our snack at the top of the mountain. He was the only gull up there and was so funny running bowlegged after the crackers we tossed to him.

The view from the top is quite spectacular and I got this shot of the Queen Elizabeth II on her final trip to Bar Harbor. She is being retired to a life of luxury in Dubai where she will be a floating hotel, casino and entertainment center.

We awoke one morning to these lovely clouds bringing in the remnants of Hurricane Ike......

so we had to make a quick trip to Schoodic Point to watch the waves being generated by Ike as it passed through. The waves were crashing into the point but I wasn't able to catch the really big ones.

We couldn't pass up a walk in Sorrento Harbor, our favorite place. The sailboats have all but disappeared, having headed south for the winter. Many small dingys remain tied up at the pier and I never tire of photographing them. I love their reflections in the water.

Hummers are still here. I had to refill the feeder as they are emptying it on a daily basis, gearing up for the long trip south. According to my journal, they are late leaving this year and I am wondering what this might portend for the coming winter. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a very cold winter. We hope it won't mean another 125 inches of snow!!!!

Life is busy, but good.

Hugs, Giddy

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Last year, I mentioned that I would share my recipe for chocolate zucchini cake. I made one again the other day and it reminded me to do just that. I did not get much zucchini this year, but the yellow squash plants gave us their very best, so I substituted them for the zukes.

chocolate zucchini bundt cake

2 1/2 cups flour (1 1/2 C white flour, 1 C white whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup baking cocoa (I use Ghiradelli cocoa)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup cooking oil
1 cup white sugar (I use Splenda)
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
2 cups coarsely grated unpeeled Zucchini,(2 medium sized) (I used yellow squash)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk
Grease generously a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Dust with flour. Blend dry ingredients and nuts. In large bowl, beat oil and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, orange peel and zucchini. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Cool cake 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Ice with glaze: Blend 1 cup icing sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, just till you get the consistency that you like. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

As long as I'm talking about food, we got a great bargain at our local grocery the other day. Chicken tenders were on sale for $1.89 a pound, so we bought 10 lbs and froze them individually. Last night, I made Chicken Parmesan, and along with my homemade marinara sauce, it was really tasty. The green beans were fresh from the garden, sauteed gently with onion and red pepper in olive oil. Yum!

I've been watching every day now for the hummingbirds. So far, we still have two hanging around the feeder, but according to my journal, they usually leave somewhere between the second and third week of September.

Life is tasty!

Hugs, Giddy

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hanna Blows Through Downeast

Two days ago, Tropical Storm Hanna literally blew through Maine and dumped 7+ inches of rain over Acadia National Park. Yesterday, H and I drove over to the park to walk our favorite path along Jordan Stream. We always take a picnic lunch with us and hop across the stream to sit on a favorite rocky area to eat. Well, t'was not to be yesterday as the stream was about as wild as we had ever seen it!

What is normally a gentle, meandering stream along the path was a cascading rush of runoff rain water madly making it's way to the sea.

This is how it looked about 10 feet upstream from our "picnic rock".......

And this is how it looked with the water pouring over the rock! Needless to say, we found another spot for our picnic.

This little green grass snake crossed our path and was kind enough to stop for a glamor shot before wriggling away at an incredibly fast rate.

This was an interesting rock. After staring at it for several seconds I found a couple of animal faces in it. Can you spot them? I saw a dog's face on the left and a lion's head on the right. I have no idea who that little old lady in front is! "-)

The signs of the coming autumn were everywhere. The air had a crispness to it and many of the leaves were beginning to show signs of the shorter days.

Seed heads were forming on the native grasses.

Berries were beginning to turn red and black. I have one of these shrubs near my driveway, but don't know what it is. It blooms white in the spring and now has these lovely pinkish berries that slowly turn black. Anyone know what it is? I'd love to find out.

Here's another shot with both colors and the leaves.

Life is Good!

Hugs, Giddy

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Colorful Late Summer Musings

I don't have much to say today, so instead, I wandered about the garden taking close ups of colorful blooms to carry me through the long, cold winter and remind me to "just remember, in the winter, far beneath the winter snows, lies a seed that with the sun's love, in the spring, becomes the rose". Thank you, Bett Midler, for that memorable song.

So, without further ado, here are my beauties of the late summer garden:

No late summer would be complete without the addition of the ever sunny Black Eyed Susans

Zinnias add lots of color, as well

This year, I incorporated a few veggies into the perennial bed. The Red Russian Kale makes a nice border and it will certainly make for a nice pot of greens this autumn after a light frost has sweetened it's flavor.

Cosmos adds its sweet, pink face and delicate, feathery greenery.

Grandpa Ott Morning Glories may not have many, or very large blooms, but the color is stunning amongst the lush vines.

The geraniums, wintered over from last year, exceeded my expectations in the deck pots. They will find space in my indoor winter garden again. Just think of the money I saved by not having to buy them in the spring!

The front dooryard garden I planted last year has filled in nicely and the little Japanese Maple thrived despite being bent over to the ground by the snow plow.

The sedum I planted next to this rock is thriving. I love planting sedums in dry, rocky locations. Heaven knows, I have plenty dry locations in this garden.

The veggie garden continues to produce prodigious amounts of yellow squash. The tomatoes are doing nicely, but I think I still need to amend the soil with more composted manure next year.

Not one to limit my appreciation of color to my own garden, we like to take walks along the shore in Sorrento. Here is a nice shot of our favorite bench overlooking Sorrento Harbor.

And, of course, my favorite little red sailboat never fails to elicit my attention. I can't count how many photos I have of this sweet boat.

Well, since Blogger seems to have decided that I've posted quite enough photos, I'll have to save the picture of Sluggo chasing his tail for another time.

Meanwhile, I sign off, as usual......

Life is Good,

Hugs, Giddy

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Blue Hill Fair

The season up here ends with a bang by making a trip to the annual Blue Hill Fair in Blue Hill, Maine. It's a time to throw caution to the wind and eat all those things you've been denying yourself for a long time; French fries, hot dogs, ice cream, oh, the list goes on and on. Then, of course, the remorse sets in as you realize that you are about to chuck everything up and a trip on the Tilt a Whirl is definitely out of the question!

But, the real fun at the fair is meandering through the midway with your friends and watching the various shows.

The "Hoss" pull was similar to tractor pulls. The animals were beautiful, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for them as they were trying to pull some 3000 pounds of cement blocks along a track.

On a lighter note, the pig races were really fun to watch. These little porkers raced like the wind. I'm sure there was most likely a food prize at the end of the race!

The Great Maine Lumberjack Show was quite entertaining and informative. The "Lumber Jills" were young ladies who were quite comfortable around those razor sharp axes. We were surprised to learn that they learned their skills at the colleges they attended in Maine.

Wow! They sawed through this log in no time flat.

On the log roll, this young lumberjack was trying to distract the lumberjill and dump her in the water by splashing her ..........

She, however, had the last laugh and rolled him off the log!

Another informative demonstration was a young man making cedar shingles the old fashioned way.

With the upcoming elections, we spied one of our favorite candidates - Professor John Frary who is running for the Senate. He is a total hoot and realizes he probably doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning so he tells it like it is. He doesn't have much use for career politicians and vows to be a one term candidate.

Dang! I just remembered I forgot to vote in the Ellsworth American's straw poll.

All in all, a good time was had by everyone and we look forward to next year's fair.

Life is Good!