Sunday, March 27, 2011

If You Don't Like the Weather, Wait a Little... It Will Change

The following photos were all taken on the same day.

Just as I was starting to shut my computer down and head for the ferry on Friday, I heard the distinct call of bald eagles talking to each other.  I wondered, are the eagles back on the top of the tree house tree?

Yes!  So I quickly mounted the 400 mm lens and camera on my tripod and through the living room window took a few shots o these gorgeous birds.  The storm was blowing pretty hard and it was raining... but these birds were enjoying each other's company... talking away to each other, seemingly oblivious of the weather.

We had a long lunch with Bob White from Kelowna, who met us in Sidney.  We were not sure if the sun was going to come out this afternoon... but as we finished eating we figured it looked safe to take Bob over to Butchart Gardens for a quick visit.  Midway through the afternoon we had beautiful sunshine.

 It is nice having a seasons pass, so we are planning to getting our money's worth out of it this year.  The Gardens were bursting forth colourful crocuses everywhere we went.

At the end of our walk around I commented to Bob that there could easily be close to a million of these early bloomers here at Butchart Gardens.

I saw varieties of crocuses that I have never, ever seen before...

And this hairy specimen reminded me of the type of crocuses we had back on the farm in Alberta that grew wild in the rangeland.

With millions of flowers blooming, there is no end to the possibilities and angles to compose a photo.

The red tulips were wonderful.... so colourful.  And there were endless daffodils.

When we saw this succulent plant it looked so healthy... and I just loved the pattern of the leaves.

Upon closer inspection I noticed that almost every flower had at least one raindrop.

So I zoomed in on a single blossom to capture the diamond close-up.  Ask me if I am having fun?

Have you ever noticed how even in nature there seems to be one who wants to be different from the group?

"If there are things you don't like in the world you grew up in, make your own life different." -Dave Thomas

Sunday, March 20, 2011

California Trip -Sacramento -Part Four

Merritt took us in search of three bridges this morning.

Thanks to my nephew Brent Logan, who pointed me to Folsom's Bridges website, I am able to get the right names on these awesome bridges.  This is the famous Rainbow Bridge, built in 1919.  Nice clean lines, eh?

Behind the Rainbow Bridge is the Historic Truss Bridge, which was re-opened to be used as part of the American River bike trail.  We saw several joggers and bikers using it.  Maybe next time we come to Sacramento we will rent a bikes and do this trail round trip... 32 miles each way.  I think it would be an awesome and fun bike ride.  It goes over some pretty special bridges I haven't seen yet... like the Guy West Bridge, which is a scaled down version of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.  How cool is that?

This is the newest bridge, the Lake Natoma Crossing, was built in 2000... and it is a really cool, modern bridge.

This second photo of the "Welcome to Sacramento" water tower is justified by the time and effort expended to find this monument.  This one stumped even the 40-year Sacramento veterans for a little while... but we did not give up and once again persistence always succeeds.

We did the tourist thing in Old Sacramento, down by the river and around the Tower Bridge.  We poked around the shops, looked at the merchandise and Shirley actually bought a hummingbird feeder.

This old Caddy seemed to just fit into the theme of Old Sacramento!  I only wish I could have taken more shots of it without all the other trashy newer cars parked next to it.

What this shot lacks in sharpness in makes up for in content.  Had to shoot it thru the front windshield as we were driving... but the colour and style was just right for the day.

You can see we were having fun looking at stuff, taking pictures... and we eventually stopped for a little lunch at a Mexican Restaurant.  You can only read so many crazy tee shirt sayings.

The Mexican food was fine... but this chandelier will be remembered long after the food was burned off. It was a one of a kind and very creatively done... well suited for the place.

From Old Sacramento this picture shows how close the new Sacramento is... just across the river.

This is the California State Teachers Retirement System building. (CALSTRS)  As you can see it takes a lot of people to manage the money for all California's retired teachers!

This memorable pyramid shaped building is the Ziggurat Building... #50 on the website of Sacramento's tallest buildings.  What a cool design.  and right next to the CALSTRS building.

We timed it just right.  Just when it started to rain, we were ready to go into the Crocker Museum anyway... and what an incredible place that was for Shirley and me.  The place was such an inspiration.

We were allowed to take photos of the permanent exhibits... but not the traveling ones.  And it was the travelling ones that were quite amazing. To see details on the current exhibitions click on this Crocker link.

You may also check out some websites of the two featured artists.
Gottfried Helnwein:  Click to go to an exhaustive website of all his work.  He had huge photos on which he painted with acrylic.  Some of his work was pretty dark... WWII type stuff... bloody!  But the concept of his work blew the top off my mind... and the Death Valley piece was about 4 feet by 20 feet or more... absolutely breathtaking.  Find it on his site under landscapes or click here.

John Buck:  Click for a short slide show of his works.  A most impressive collection of wood prints... and a true craftsman.  It was incredible work.  Unbelievable.

I wasn't going to include any of the photos we took in the gallery... but this one was special.  Here my sweetheart is reading about the artist of this work, and quite by accident got captured with my camera and became a part of the original piece.  Don't you just love it when this kind of thing happens?

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." 
-Steve Jobs

California Trip -Sacramento -Part Three

In all the years we have visited my sister in the Sacramento area, I did not realize that this city is famous for having an abundance of great trees.  So this trip, in between celebrating Dolores' 80th birthday, we did some tourist things and took some interesting pictures of buildings, bridges, blossoms and trees in the Capital City.  Finding this water tower was a experience all of it's own!

Phoenix Field is a subdivision in Fair Oaks developed on old airport land close to where my sister lives.  In the tradition of Sacramento, the streets are lined with flowering trees... a thing of lasting beauty and a joy to walk thru.  You can see my camera shooting friends catching up to me.

I was quite taken with this hedge type bush that comes out with blazing red new leaves in the spring which mature green.  We tried to find the name but will have to stop by a nursery to get it... we welcome any advice from anyone who is familiar with it and can confirm the name.

There were several tulip trees blooming... but were just past their prime already.

I really do love these huge tulip blossoms... and when the tree is loaded with them it is gorgeous!

Merritt drove us past this castle house... and I got caught taking this picture.

Turned out that he is one of Merritt's dentist friends.

We all had a good laugh when he tried to justify why he was wearing these old, worn out shoes!

We stopped in at the Governor's Mansion... but we missed the last tour of the day.  Apparently Ronald Regan was the last California governor to live in this mansion.  Arnold Schwarzenegger lived in LA and stayed in the Hyatt Regency for $65K a year when he was in town.
Downtown we parked next to this tall skyscraper.  When I saw the name on the building it twigged why California is in such deep financial trouble.  This is the Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters Building for California.  I Googled it up and 3,500 people work here under the guise of protecting the environment.  This energy efficient building has 25 stories... only five stories (51 feet) less than the tallest building in Sacramento, the Wells Fargo Building, which is 30 stories and 423 feet high.

I found a great website to help identify tall buildings... and that is how I can tell you that this is the US Bank Plaza.  It also tells a lot of information about about each building... like this one is 26 stories and 376 feet high.  And the cool thing is the website has 50 of the tallest buildings in Sacramento listed.  As you move your mouse over the name a photo of each building pops up... very nice!

This Renaissance Tower is another wannabe tallest building in Sacramento... 28 stories with 6 levels of above ground parking... 372 feet.  The Chase Bank occupies first floor... and likely more above.  This was the first skyscraper to be built on 170-ton pilings.  Shirley and I likely took more photos of this building from more angles than any other.

That white dot just above right is not lint on the lens... it is the moon!   So, if we have both the sun and the moon that means on the other side of the world it is double dark!

Just down the street from the Renaissance Tower is the infamous Crest Theatre... but there were no takers to go and see Joan Rivers who was advertised to be there Sunday evening.

My family's response reminded me of a small plaster of Paris sculpture at home on the farm growing up. It had three monkey's sitting side by side. One with it's hands over his eyes, one had his hands over his ears and the third one had his hands over his mouth.  The saying that it illustrated was...

"See no evil.  Hear no evil.  Speak no evil."

With a weakness to photograph beautiful churches, we stopped to capture this Cathedral of the Sacred Sacrament.

These lesser tall buildings may not show up on the Emporis website, but if you were hungry for seafood this place comes with good reviews... and they also have an happy hour!

Merritt took us down Capitol Mall to see the Capitol Building...and while we were standing there...

In short order these three couples rolled of the limo to have their picture taken in front of the Capitol.

After the formal shot... they wanted an informal one.  So we all got our money's worth from that group. I think each of us... Merritt, Shirley and I each got a dozen different poses of these crazy kids who were celebrating on their way to their prom.

As the sun was setting and we got this view down Capitol Mall toward the lift span bridge and on the right is another skyscraper... the US Bank Tower.  It is no coincidence that the big banks have the tallest buildings in most cities.

As the sun was setting I got this shot of the Tower Bridge... the middle section is a lift span.

An hour later we got this shot from a sister bridge up river.  Since we couldn't stop on that bridge to take a picture we had a pretty long walk to capture this photo.

It was a great day... and we finished off at Chipotle's Mexican Grille.

California Trip -PUC -Part Two

We had Thursday lunch with Myron Widmer at the PUC Dining Commons.  What a great menu and a very nice lunch.  It's been a while since we have had a two-hour lunch!  Myron is a professor in the Theology Department.

Myron encouraged me to go over to the Visual Arts Building and check things out... he said I would find a lot of things different.  When I was here over 40 years ago this building was shared by Industrial Arts, Auto Mechanics, Graphic Arts, Fine Art & Commercial Art.  Technology has changed it all.

Here is Myron checking out one of the many artistic pieces in the hallway on second floor.  Myron was the first student we knew who owned one of the now classic original Ford Mustangs... a Mach 1.

Being a builder, I was drawn to this wall sculpture done using various sizes and kinds of nails in wood. We had none of these attractive pieces on the walls when I was a student there.  What an inspiration!

Myron introduced me to Professor Tom Turner, (center) who built a photography facility in the old metal shop area on first floor.  Here he built a seamless white and black photo backdrop, large enough to drive in a car thru the old auto mechanics door!  Genius!

Tom then took us next door where there used to be woodworking and construction.  Now it is used for a variety of stain glass and fired glass projects.  Above is a project by Robert Pappus, one of the instructors.  His brother, Jim, was one of my classmates years ago. 

We met Professor Thomas Morphis, who was teaching a class this day in encaustic painting... using melted wax and various other media today on a 12-inch square wooden background.  

I would love to be student in this class where Professor Milbert Mariano is teaching computer graphic layout and design where each student is working on an Apple computer.

When I was a student here I did all my silkscreen printing in the living room of our rental apartment... complete with vacuum table and wooden printing racks, which Myron bought from me when we left the campus in 1969.  There was no screen printing on campus then except at the book bindery.  

I could not resist taking several shots of the screen printing inks.  There are many prints waiting to be made from all these colours.  It brings back many memories or my college days.  Days when I never let schoolwork interfere with my education.

It didn't seem like there were any classes today in film or video production... but at the end of the afternoon I did see these guys loading up their cart with lights and accessories to go and shoot a project  somewhere on campus.  I would love to take some film production classes and get involved in some projects again.

We did however find a few girls working on a project in an editing booth... and there were several booths where students could work on their assignments.

We were fortunate to be on campus when the professors had an exhibition of their own work in the Rasmussen Art Gallery.

Both Shirley and I went around the gallery twice and really enjoyed seeing the variety of work.

When I saw this car in the middle of the campus all smashed up I asked Myron about it.  He told us that this is test week, (Dead Week) and at chapel this morning the students were told they could all take out their frustrations on this old car... heavy hammers were provided... and as you can see, there was a lot of frustrations let out!   Life on a college campus is seldom boring!

We had just enough time to go thru Ellen Whites heritage home just below the Sanatarium called Elmshaven.  We had seen it once when we were students here and her grand daughter was still alive doing the tour guide duty.

We drove slowly down Zinfandel Lane looking for the old barn that I had painted when an art student here... but it was no longer standing.  It was old when were here and today most of the vineyards have changed hands... now boasting new mansions where their owners live.  I found this photo interesting, as you can see the old smudge pots between two of the rows.  For years after we returned from California we used one of these smudge pots as a vase to hold weeds in our living room.

And these were the same weeds that we brought back to Canada to adorn the old smudge pot!  How did we ever get such a weed across an international border?

We spent a delightful evening, going out for dinner in Napa, visiting with nephew Donald Jack Logan and family... Shelley and son Johnny, who now works with his father in their law practice.  When we were students here my sister lived in Sacramento and we spent many weekends together... it was like our home away from home.