RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Japanese garden reopens

The Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library and Gardens reopened recently after a year-long renovation so a friend and I paid a visit.

And I always enjoy sauntering around the gardens finding little miscellaneous scenes to photograph.

Another brilliant day at the Huntington ends with an equally brilliant lunch… the Mexican chop salad:

 

 


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Santa Barbara – part one – a saunter through Lotusland


A friend and I drove up to Santa Barbara last week partly to visit Lotusland, which has been on my bucket list for a while, and partly to enjoy the city. Lotusland is actually located in Montecito, an affluent unincorporated community in Santa Barbara County, California, east of the City of Santa Barbara.


I first heard of Lotusland while visiting Santa Barbara for the Summer Solstice Festival in June, 2017. That was quite a different scene with thousands of people thronging the streets. Click here to view my blog post of that event.

Lotusland sits on 37 acres and unless you are a member you must walk through it on a tour with a docent.

It is billed as one of the top ten most beautiful gardens in the entire world. Well, it is very nice and I enjoyed the visit but I’m not sure I would go that far. Maybe we are spoiled for lovely gardens in Southern California but other gardens in other parts of the world spring to mind. Top 100 might be more realistic although I haven’t traveled enough to back that up! But it was worth seeing, for sure.


I took 240 photos during the walk and it was very hard to decide which ones to display… I could easily have included 100 in this post… but I decided to spare you and cut it down to a mere 56 with as much variety as possible… which means some of my favorites hit the cutting room floor… that hurt!

This turquoise glass slag lines the pathways… a very effective and beautiful border.

Lotusland contains about 21 different garden areas with more than 3,000 different plants from around the world. Please click on an image below to begin the slide show.

I’ll be uploading a couple more posts of our trip to the Santa Barbara area so stay tuned!


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Ventura Adventure

ventura city hall

Ventura City Hall

Ten of us adventurous souls met in Ventura for another exciting day. Seven of us took Amtrak from Los Angeles Union Station. The other three met us in Ventura.

Father Junipero Serra

I was out of bed at 3:45 to meet my friend at the bus stop at 6:15. The Expo Line was down for upgrading so we were stuck with the Metro #733 bus.

Father Junipero Serra looking out on the city of Ventura

It takes me two hours to get out of the house these days. Cleaning out the cat litter boxes, making the cat’s breakfast, watering my crops of tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, parsley, etc, making coffee, cooking breakfast, getting dressed, wandering around in a fog… it all takes time.

Ventura Botanical Gardens

I was ready to walk to the bus top by 5:45. It was beautiful walking through Culver City at that hour of the morning with only a couple of people walking their dogs and barely any traffic. So peaceful.

We arrived at Union Station with time to spare. I always like to be early instead of running at the last minute. As I always say, I would rather be two hours early than two minutes too late!

The Amtrak train left at 7:50am and we arrived in Ventura about 9:30. I LOVE traveling by train and Amtrak is soooooooo comfortable. It’s lovely to see the scenery go by from the top deck.

Our first stop was the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

The area was totally burned out in the Thomas fire of December 2017. But the gardens are being replanted and coming back quickly. You can still see the extent of the burned out areas.

The gardens are built on a hill with the option of switchback trails or stairs. I opted for the switchback. Whichever you chose there are some lovely views.

Plants are resilient and manage to grow in any situation.

Click on the first image below for a slide show:

After the hike up the hill we walked back through town towards the pier and lunch, always my favorite activity!

We ate at Beach House Fish. I ordered the wild snapper with mashed potatoes. I am a potato junkie… the way it is…

I thought this image represented the beach at Ventura!

Eating!

What a view as you eat your seafood lunch. Life is good.

After my delicious lunch I took a stroll along the pier. It’s a fishing pier.

Click on an image below for photos of the pier and views from the pier:

What a beautiful day we had with great friends!

Waiting for the Amtrak train back to Los Angeles.

 

 

 


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Feline Friday – #106 – Tomatomania

descanso gardens

The last weekend of March a friend invited me to accompany her to Tomatomania at Descanso Gardens. She wanted to buy tomato plants for her garden. I told her I wouldn’t buy any as I wasn’t sure they would grow on my deck. But of course when we arrived and I saw all those beautiful tomato plants I couldn’t resist buying three. What the heck.

tomatoes

freddie

Freddie immediately took up the job of Guardian of the Tomato Plants without regard to his own welfare or safety. That’s the kind of cat he is.

tomatoes

With Freddie as Protector, the tomato plants went crazy in the following three months, taking over the deck.

tomato bowl

This is a typical crop for one day. The toms come in three colors: black, copper and bright red. They have slightly different flavors accordingly.

freddie

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, there aren’t any chicken or fish flavored tomatoes for the boys. But Freddie evidently appreciates the aesthetic qualities provided by a perfect, round, ripe tom!

frankie

While Frankie, on the other hand, is laughing his head off thinking all this fuss about tomatoes is a big joke…


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Feline Friday – #92 – cat condo and micro greens

Freddie and Frankie

It’s a law. Both cats are looking straight ahead into the camera. But as soon as the human clicks the shutter, one cat has to look away. Of course it would have to be Frankie The Monster.

Freddie and Frankie

I ordered a few things from Amazon this week. I placed all the boxes on the floor in a cat condo arrangement so they could take their pick. As you will note, there are two good size boxes available. Frankie has to cram himself into the least size-appropriate box. Nobody can accuse me of not providing him with adequately sized boxes.

Freddie and Frankie

Freddie curls up in one of the boxes but as soon as I run for the camera he decides to investigate my shoes while Frankie feigns indifference (as usual).

Freddie and Frankie

I rearrange the boxes and Frankie shows his versatility by choosing a larger box, even though there are two smaller boxes at hand (although out of the frame of the camera). It was probably because Freddie was in the box and Frankie decided to appropriate it… that is normal. Wherever Freddie is sitting or whatever he is doing, Frankie The Bully (aka The Monster) has to take over. And Gentle Giant Freddie lets him.

Freddie and Frankie

It was hot today in little old Culver City. 102° F (39° C). So the boys spent most of the day out on the front balcony catching whatever breezes they could.

Freddie and Frankie

I am quite the farmer these days, growing micro greens in pots on the balcony. My crops include kale, mustard, endive, basil, buckwheat. Also parsley and cilantro. The little plants grow to about an inch to two inches tall. Every day I harvest some for my salad.

Freddie and Frankie

I soak the seeds before planting in the soil. Here mustard and kale are soaking. I also make my own sprouted seeds (such as alfalfa, broccoli, radish) and a variety of beans. In the third jar are mung beans. Of course, sprouted seeds and beans don’t go into the soil, they are sprouted in their respective jars.

Both the micro greens and the sprouts are a lot of work… even more work than cats, believe it or not! But it’s fun watching everything grow. I’ve had some disasters and disappointments but I’ve learned from my mistakes and like everything else it’s a matter of getting a system down that works for you.

This is an article on the benefits of micro greens: https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120831/tiny-microgreens-packed-nutrients#1

Too bad I can’t get the cats to eat micro greens but Freddie eats the second growth of the wheatgrass/barley grass that I grow for my vitamin drink. My late cat Pharoah loved to eat the grass too. Click here for a post about Pharaoh with a photo of his pots of grass. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Buttorfleoge or Flutterby… it’s Butterfly to me!

natural history museum butterflies

In researching the origin of the name “butterfly” I came up with two possibilities. 1. The Anglo-Saxons coined the word ‘butterfloege’ because the most common butterfly at the time was the yellow brimstone butterfly. 2. They were called flutterby (obviously because they fluttered by) in Victorian times and after a while the name was reversed to butterfly. Maybe a combination of both.

natural history museum butterflies

I make the effort to visit the Butterfly Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum every two or three years.

natural history museum butterflies

It’s somewhat of a meditative experience to mingle with the winged creatures for half an hour.

natural history museum butterflies

Our reservation was for 11:00am and I must say the creatures were very active at that time of day.

natural history museum butterflies

The docent informed us they were fluttering around looking for the right place to lay their eggs.

natural history museum butterflies

The butterflies can’t lay their eggs just any old place. It has to be the right plant or the eggs won’t hatch, or if they hatch they will die.

natural history museum butterflies

So every kind of butterfly has a specific plant to lay its eggs on.

natural history museum butterflies

So when humans wipe out certain kinds of plants the butterflies get wiped out too.

natural history museum butterflies

We humans continue to cause all kinds of havoc for nature.

natural history museum butterflies

In the pavilion there was plenty of mating going on.

Please click on an image below for slide show.

 

 


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The UK – Worthing, Sussex – day two – Highdown Gardens

highdown gardens

My friend M and I met up on Tuesday morning at the Stagecoach bus stop near my hotel on Marine Parade. The #9 bus dropped us at Northbrook Metropolitan College. It was a short walk along the A259 to the Highdown turnoff and a pleasant trek up the hill to the gardens.

Highdown GardensFrom the Highdown Gardens website:

Highdown Gardens are nestled on the South Downs situated between Ferring and Goring.

These stunningly beautiful chalk gardens on Downland countryside, overlooking the sea, are a tranquil haven for all to enjoy. The gardens are home to The National Plant Collection of the Plant Introductions of Sir Fredrick Stern – a unique collection of plants and trees, with many unusual plants to be discovered all year round.

HIghdown Gardens

Highdown Gardens is one of the hidden gems of the area and home to a unique collection of rare plants and trees. In fact the whole garden has been deemed a National Collection.

The Gardens looks their best in spring and early summer when there is a colorful succession of spring bulbs such as Crocus, Daffodils, Anemones and Snowdrops followed by Paeonies and Bearded Iris.

As we were there the second week in May this was an ideal time to see the gardens at their best.

HIghdown Gardens

The gardens, internationally important because they are home to hundreds of rare and exotic plants and trees uniquely grown on chalk soil, are visited by tens of thousands of people every year.

HIghdown Gardens

Worthing Borough Council owns and maintains the gardens which are free to visitors.

HIghdown Gardens

Sir Frederick Stern created his gardens during a period when many expeditions were going out to China and the Himalayan regions collecting rare and beautiful plants. Many of the original plants from their early collections can still be seen in the Gardens today.

HIghdown Gardens

Sir Frederick received his knighthood in 1956 for Services to Horticulture.

HIghdown Gardens

The 8.5 acres of Gardens were created out of an old chalk pit overlooking the South Downs, where there was little soil and very unfavorable conditions for plant growth.

HIghdown Gardens

I really lucked out and experienced Southern California weather all the time I was in Worthing, except for half a day when it rained. The weather on our visit to Highdown was sunny and warm. Very pleasant for walking around.

HIghdown Gardens

The tadpoles were enjoying a school outing on this beautiful day!

HIghdown Gardens

And this little red fellow came along to say hello.

Click on an image below to enjoy the slideshow!

After such a feast for the senses it was time to fill our tummies so we headed to the Tea Rooms.

HIghdown Gardens

HIghdown Gardens

I chose the Ploughmen’s Lunch and M ordered Welsh Rarebit.

HIghdown Gardens

Such a delightful afternoon. We walked back to the bus stop through the fields.

HIghdown Gardens


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A gift membership to the Huntington Library

The Huntington

A friend very kindly gave me a membership to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, approximately 20 miles (32km) northeast of Culver City and 13 miles (21km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. So as it was such a glorious day on Wednesday in the 70s (21+C) and sunny, I decided to make the trip.

My first stop to take a photo was at a fountain in the California Garden area. Two little girls were playing with the water. One was wearing a bright pink dress and the other was in blue. The reflection of these dresses in the water gave me the colors at the right hand side of the image. I’m sure the mother thought I was trying to capture pictures of her kids so I did my best to make it obvious I was only interested in the fountain. I took several shots but the one I liked the best was out of focus so I decided to play with it in Photoshop and make an abstract image out of it!

The Huntington

The Huntington

Now I have a membership I didn’t feel the need to rush around to every part of the gardens or visit the galleries as I can come back whenever I feel like it! So I just walked around looking for flowers and plants and scenes that struck my fancy.

The Huntington

I set my camera on Aperture Preferred (AV on my Canon) which is now my preferred setting! For a long time I set it to Program as the default and changed the aperture and shutter speed as necessary. But now I believe AV is better.



The Huntington
I know there are “purists” who scoff at anything other than strictly Manual. Good for them! I talked to one professional landscape/street  photographer who told me his dirty secret that 95% of the time he stayed in Program and let the camera do the work. It’s like painting. Anybody can take a brush and make a mess on a canvas. But it takes an artist to make something beautiful.

Walking towards the Desert Garden



The Huntington

Whether you are using a paintbrush or a camera, you still have to have an “eye.” I have a friend who owns all kinds of camera equipment but has no sense of composition. that’s the most important element.



The Huntington
So it doesn’t matter if you are shooting in Manual or Program or Aperture Preferred or with a point & shoot camera or a smart phone. If you capture a good picture, that’s the only thing that matters.



The Huntington
For me, walking around with a camera forces me to see things I probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. Today I was on my own. But I also enjoy going out with a friend because they might spot something I missed and vice versa.



The Huntington
The other issue that comes up is post processing. I happen to enjoy working in Lightroom and Photoshop. You can’t start out with a crappy photo and make it into a masterpiece on the computer. Ain’t gonna happen. But you start out with a well-composed, in focus, reasonably well-lit image and there is a chance you can make that into a masterpiece! I shoot in RAW so all my images have to go through Lightroom (or Camera RAW) anyway.



The Huntington
My favorite part of the grounds is the Desert Garden so I pretty much concentrated on that area. Next time I may avoid it completely! I was attempting to get some closeups and some general views. My favorite lens is my 18-135 zoom. It’s a kit lens and if I ever want to upgrade I am out of luck as there apparently is no stand alone lens in those lengths. But I’ll worry about that when I get there.



The Huntington

I’m hoping I can choose a couple of these to upload to Fine Art America where I have my portfolio. This one above might be a candidate.



The Huntington

The Desert Garden includes more than 5,000 species of desert plants in sixty landscaped beds. I don’t want to be the one to count them.



The Huntington

The weather was unbelievably pleasant. Cool and sunny is my favorite. I remember one visit to the Desert Garden when it had to be 100  degrees F (38C) and I couldn’t get enough water inside me. I’m sure all the cacti and succulents were having a great day!

The Huntington

I’ve never seen so many lizards cross my path. They must have liked the weather too and decided to come out for a stroll. One after the other they were darting out in front of me. No fear of humans.



The Huntington

I took almost 250 pictures this day! Lucky for you I won’t show all of them! But there are 42 in this post.


The Huntington

Unbelievable that it is necessary to post a sign reminding visitors not to carve their names or initials on the bamboo. Aaaargh…. people!

Click on an image below to see slide show of the rest of the photos, if you even made it this far!

See one of my previous posts about The Huntington here.


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White Sands, New Mexico and an unplanned ode to the Sierra Club

 

white sands

Out of the tour bus at White Sands National Monument

I’ve been a member and supporter of the Sierra Club for almost forty years. Politics aside, the Club has been very good to me. Over the years I’ve participated in hundreds of hikes, events, activities and trips. And most importantly, I’ve made many good friends (including a couple of boyfriends and a husband!).

White Sands

A forensic nightmare: the perpetrator walked across the sand so we can identify the pattern on the soles of his shoes…

The Sierra Club has played an important part in my life. I was a hike leader for many years, editor of various newsletters and a volunteer at many fund raising events.

White Sands

The tenacity of plant life

It has also taken me on numerous wonderful trips around the USA and allowed me to discover the great National Parks of this country that I would never have seen on my own.

White Sands

Waves of sand. You can imagine the ocean in the distance but Santa Monica is more than 800 miles (1287 km) away

I’ve been on cruises, hiking trips, camping and just plain sight-seeing. This is an easy way for me to support the Club while having a good time myself.

White Sands

I’ve lived in Los Angeles continually since 1965. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains, but other than hiking the trails of Griffith Park (which are not to be sneered at) I had never really ventured into the Santa Monicas or the San Gabriels or the Verdugos. Around 1980 I discovered the Sierra Club and that all changed. I became addicted to hiking at least twice a week. One weekend my car wouldn’t start and rather than spend the time to get it fixed I convinced my father to loan me his car so I could go on a hike!

White Sands

The sun was already fading and the contrast between light and dark was making it increasingly difficult to capture the landscape

I can’t trust myself to do any heavy duty hiking anymore. My ankles, knees and hips took a beating with all the running I did for several decades. But that is totally okay. I have fabulous memories of trudging around the mountains in awe of the beauty of Southern California. I look up at the mountains now as old friends and we smile knowingly at each other.

White Sands

The purple flowers in the center stand out in this stark landscape

Sometimes I start writing and I get off on a tangent. So I just let it flow. This post was supposed to be all about my Sierra Club trip to southern New Mexico last year. And White Sands National Monument in particular. All the photos you’ve been looking at are from that area. We had a limited amount of time but as I’ve said before, there is always a trade-off when on a motor coach tour. On the one hand you have no responsibility and all the stress is on the shoulders of the leader. On the other hand, you don’t get to decide where to go or how much time to spend at any given location. But I did manage to take one prize-winning photograph at White Sands and that made the whole trip worthwhile for me!!!

White Sands
From the website: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

White Sands

As the sun went down the shadows were getting longer which made some interesting photographs

White Sands

On the photo above I liked the way the tendrils seemed to wave around as if the plant was under water and the shadows added extra interest.

White Sands

Hey, we saw some native wildlife! This beetle was making his own tracks over the imprints left by human visitors.

The original photo

White Sands

Playing a little in Lightroom and Photoshop

Although I love the act of taking a photo and making it the best composition I can, I have to admit the real fun begins for me in the post processing. When I saw this tree I also immediately imagined the possibilities. By itself it’s a perfectly acceptable photograph. But in my opinion the trip through Lightroom and Photoshop makes it magical!

White Sands

This leaf also had a little help from Photoshop with the posterization filter. This is my go-to filter to really make the image pop.

White Sands

Got to love those shadows. Although the light was getting a little difficult, it also added a little drama!

White Sands

White Sands

I had wandered off quite a ways by myself to take photos. I came back to see the group having fun sliding down the dunes. Good for them. My fun is in making art. To each their own, yeah?

Click on an image below for slide show.

Original photo

White Sands

A little fun with Photoshop

By now the shadows were REALLY long. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of my shadow. I didn’t even notice the person standing at the top until I played with the image in Photoshop. Totally serendipitous. This won first prize in the member’s theme at the Culver City Art Group Holiday Show. And I think it also helped me win for best body of work. You never know when you are out shooting what photos are going to turn out best and which ones are going to miss the objective. It really is a hit and miss shooting match!

White Sands

Like all the trips I take, I always think I’ll have the opportunity to return and take more time. But I never do. So I have learned to soak in as much as possible whenever possible.


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Photos I’m showing at the Culver City Art Group Show

The first five photos are in the main show:

Lion at the Los Angeles Zoo

 

Tree at White Sands

 

White Sands Landscape

 

Canoes for rent at Avalon, Catalina Island

 

culver city art show

William Jefferson Clinton Pedestrian Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Entry for the Members’ Theme: Let there be light

White Sands

My self-portrait at White Sands, New Mexico

These will be on view Saturday, November 11 at Playa Vista.