Monday, April 30, 2012

That Time of Year

Suffering from post Canuck Fever and Income Tax time.

Today is the tax deadline. I am most happy to report that last Thursday my last information slip arrived in the mail, I dashed to my accountant that night, and now that the time is up, my return has been e-filed and all is right with the world again. This was only possible because I got all my stuff together early this year, about mid March, and at the last minute, there was only a small entry to be made on the software program and it was all done.
Now, another whole different story is the numbers. But we do not want to talk about that. Depression over the Canucks hockey season is plenty bad enough.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fading to Summer

Only days ago we were looking for signs of Spring. Now we see signs of Summer. Spring has to be the shortest of seasons when it comes a little late. The Pussy Willows are history and the trees are almost fully leafed out now. The lush and green variants cover the landscapes, and even the spring blossoms are being driven from the branches by the breezes of Spring. Now, if we could only get some summer temperatures to go with the illusion, it might seem more real.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Action Plus

The reviews said that this book was a 'page turner' and they were right. That tends to happen when there is non stop action and suspense. This is another story of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with terrorists, nuclear bombs, plots to kill presidents, and, again, world domination. Two highly trained operatives accidentally hook up and, between them, solve all the problems of the world. The characters are likable and larger than life, hardly believable, but then that is why they call it fiction. We wish there were people out there who could take care of things the way these two do. No remorse, no conscience, no political correctness, just quick decisions and even quicker action.
The plot is way too far fetched and when the ending came, with its absolutely absurd and out of left field ending, I just laughed. "Yeah, right," says I.
 Even fiction has to have a somewhat believable and logical plot so I will only give this book three stars.
Warning: Mature content.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Doing Just Fine, Thanks

On one of my rare trips to Facebook, I discovered this photo posted by my cousin who is the son of my Uncle on the left. Forgive me for 'borrowing' this photo, Glenn, but I just had to post this. These are three of my dad's 4 older siblings at my uncle's birthday party.  My dad is turning 90 in July.

Menno 95, Eva 93, and Marie 97.

You will never meet 4 perkier, more 'with it' ederly people in your life.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Display in Roozengaarde, Mount Vernon Washington.

I still follow the happenings in the economy but thought I would give writing about it a rest until I had something positive to say. It has been a long while, but I read something this week that is encouraging.
It seems that some manufacturers are coming back to North America where ..... are you ready for it, the cost of producing goods is lower. Apparently China, who stole most of our manufacturing jobs with cheap labour and overhead are heading down the same road we did a few years ago as a result of their booming economy. The wages have gone up dramatically and it is difficult finding people to do the mundane grunt work when they have the choice to assemble iPhones. Housing and food are through the roof and some say that it is cheaper to live in the USA now than in China. 
When you factor in transportation costs of produced goods, it is looking more and more attractive to keep those jobs in the USA and Canada. This may be the beginning of a turnaround.   

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Friendship Restored

I must have missed something. I read this book from cover to cover and word for word, because it was well written and intriguing, but I have no idea why it has the title it has. Really, not a clue.
It is a beautifully written story of two young boys, one black and one white, in southern Mississippi in the 70's. At least, that is when the friendship started. They drifted apart and as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent why. The story shifts from present to past easily, but not in a confusing way. The word pictures are so unique, but accurate, as only a very observant person could put to paper. I found myself stopping many time to re-read a paragraph and soak in its ability to draw in all the senses.
A mystery unfolds, accusations arise that change a young man's life forever, and, after confession, a friendship is redeemed and it makes the ending satisfying.
I rarely read mystery novels, but was drawn to this one because of the pleasure I had in reading "Blue Hole Back Home". These books are in no way the same, but the locale is similar and the southern racial attitudes are simmering in both novels. Also, it is a time that I am familiar with, and much of what is written about is very familiar to me because of my age.
A thoroughly enjoyable read that I give 4 stars.
*Warning: some occasional vulgar hillbilly trash talk.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where To?

You are here.

Not all roads ......

...lead to Rome.

One takes you to the Stairway to Heaven.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Vs. Movie

By now, everyone has either seen the movie, read the book, or at least heard of the Hunger Games. I read the book a while back and was anxious to see the movie, so we went to see it a few days ago. If you do not know about this story, Google it. My comments here are only regarding book vs. movie.
The book is well written and has an intriguing premise. When going to see a movie after reading a book, the usual comment is that the movie did not follow the book. In this case it did. So much so that I was so constantly aware of the next move that I caught myself not involving myself in the story. Everything is just as I imagined it to be as I was reading. There are books that are written after a movie has become very popular and I have never read one of those, but this is what it seemed like, but in reverse. It is rare for a movie to not disappoint after a book, but this combo was a winner. If you take in one, you do not have to take in the other. It is same, same. But very good. And to think that there are three sequels in various stages of production. I have decided I will not read the book sequels, but will see the movies as they come out. I am looking forward to it already.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Photoshop Fun

For many of you, this is elementary and 'old hat', but I would like to show you some fun you can have when you pop your photos into the Photo shop program and play with them. The combinations of effects are virtually limitless, but here are a few elementary things one can choose to do with the photo. The top photo is right out of my camera. Nothing done but to make it a good size to fit my blog format.

If you do not like people in your photo of the tulip field, you can remove them, with a bit of practice.

Here, I flattened the light in the background sky and also 'saturated' the colours in the flowers.

In this version, I cropped the photo to make it an entirely different picture and sized it to make it appear a little closer.

Cropping tightly in a horizontal fashion makes the photo more panoramic, as if taken with a wide angle lens. I actually took this with a 200 mm at full telephoto.

If black and white is your thing, you can make a photo ageless, or old looking with the click of a mouse to remove all colour. Sepia is also a breeze.

Here I selected an elliptical portion of the photo and made the non-selected portion of the photo black and white. I then put it through what is called 'posterization', which gives a dark outline to the highlights in the photo.

Here I got randomly funky and used a pencil sketch filter to get the 'Monet' look. I then put a quirky frame, of my own making, around the photo and drew in two birdies for fun.
You do not have to be artsy or a techie to do this stuff. And who knows, every so often you could create a masterpiece.
What a fun hobby!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tulip Mania

I have more great photos from this amazing place, but I think it is time you go there and see for yourself.

Thanks for viewing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Individual Portraits

This is but a small sampling of the hundreds of varieties of tulips that we saw on Tuesday. Individually, or in groups, these are the most photogenic of flowers.

I know, this is not a tulip.

And neither is this, but they were there begging to have their picture taken. I do not discriminate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Group Portraits

As is so often, when photographing flowers, it is not easy to take a bad photo. After culling the 'out of focus' photos from Tuesdays shoot at the tulip gardens, it was a difficult task finding the best images to post here. This was a random selection, cropped horizontally, mostly, of group portraits of these amazing flowers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where Was I?

We diligently watched the weather forecast and eventually found a small opening in the rainy spring weather. With passports and cameras in hand, my friend Ian and I  drove to Mount Vernon and the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

We were not disappointed, except maybe a wee bit when the Sun did not come out for even a few minutes.

But, that made for nice even light, and a bit of early morning dew on many of the buds and blossoms. It is always sensory overload at this event and this year the colours were exceptionally deep and rich. These photos have no colour adjustment on them at all. What you see is what we saw.

It was a photographers dream when we rounded the bend at the first field we came to, a field I had never visited before. Please enlarge this photo with a click and you will agree that is a perfect setting. If you have never been to this spectacle, I would encourage you to go. The festival gets a million visitors every year and most of those are on the weekends. Go on a weekday, early, and you will be OK. Take the La Connor exit on the I5 to Seattle and drive west, following the signs to the tulip fields. It is so worth it.

More photos to come.