Tag Archives: backyard

A Rose By Any Other Angle?

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One of the first rules of photojournalism is to always take a wide angle, horizontal, establishing shot. If you don’t take it first thing, you get wrapped up in the detail photos and can forget. When I’d get back to the newspaper if I hadn’t taken an establishing shot they needed, the editor was not a happy camper. Trust me, practice taking an overall shot; for a newspaper or a blog post.

by Kimberly A. Cook

Spotted the first two rose blooms in my garden Monday morning. My favorite “Double Delight” rose. Grabbed the camera and proceeded to take a bunch of pics. Thought I would show the process of how I frame and reframe a picture to get different angles, light, backgrounds and close-ups.

Digital photography allows me to waste a million pixels and not care.

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Go vertical. Roses grow vertically, so turn the camera. Watch for the growth of the other stems. Leave some open sky. Work to have the rose on a lower third, upper third break for the sky, but this is still too centered. Since rose bushes don’t move, I have to move myself and the camera.

 

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Now move in closer and cut off the sky, using the dark wood as the background.  Cutting off the buds on the right not great. Rose is still too centered for my taste, but like the improvement in the color intensity.

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Don’t be afraid to move in close.  This shot leaves a little air at the top and the sides to let the photo breathe. The background provides some contrast and improves the color hue.

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Go close or go home! Get in there! Don’t be afraid to move in on a subject. I can still get closer, but the light might cause it to fuzz out and lose the edges. It’s a little soft focus here, but I like it.

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This vertical angle gives some color depth and moves the subject across the photo. The light is a little harsh on the rose bloom, even the 10:30 a.m. clouds can’t help the light diffusion you get between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. But overall, the darker to lighter tones give some interest. Perfect? Never! But I’ve got more pixels to use for practice.

All of this took about six minutes between grabbing the camera after planting dahlias and trimming the hedge outside of Spec Ops Cat’s favorite window. I never used the zoom, only the wide angle lens; I moved me instead.

Get out there and crawl around for some good pictures.  Photography and accidental exercise. Priceless!

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Summer Shenanigans?

by Kimberly A. Cook                      (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Summer arrived last Wednesday and I spent the day power washing my Mom’s house. Thought the job would take a couple hours, but we’ve had such a mossy, wet winter the little power washer really earned its keep. I had mud up to my naked knees and over my head. The photo Mom took will never be made public. Trust me.

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Farmer Bun surrounded by The Fairy roses and his wheelbarrow full of blooms. Summer!

 

The weather was warm and the power washer worked after Mom figured out I had turned the water off due to a leak. Always helps to have an assistant. It became a kind of zen thing to clean the gunk off everything. Now I’m obsessed. Must do my front porch, patio, lawn swing before repainting, garden pots, my thundereggs, garden bunny – again.

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The Gardenia made it! This winter I put her in the garage for more than a month, never had to do that before. Lost about one-third of the plant, but she’s blooming now. Love it.

 

Between garage sales, finally good weather, farmer’s markets and five visits from my A/C repair guys, it’s been a busy two weeks, but I’m almost ready to play this summer. Thought I’d post some backyard pics to show you what is finally blooming after our long, long, really wet winter. It’s sun time!

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Decided last year I was getting rid of the strawberries. So this is what they did when I left them alone. Which is what they do every year when I leave them alone. Maybe they’re magic?

 

P.S. You can’t have summer without ice cream and my hairdresser got me hooked on “Breyers Girl Scout Thin Mint Ice Cream.” Going to need to train for a marathon to work that off. And then found a childhood favorite from “Umpqua Ice Cream, Maple Nut.” Tastes even better now.  Stock up on ice cream!

 

 

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Big Bark, Fairies And Spring?

by Kimberly A. Cook                         (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Last Saturday at my fiction critique group, my author buddy Cindy Hiday surprised me with a gift. When I unwrapped the item, it was a humongo piece of bark. Score! She felt it might be perfect for the Fairy Rock Garden. It fell off firewood she and her Air Force veteran hubby were unloading.

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What a beautiful bark piece. It’s drying out in the front foyer, watched over by garden bunny. This may become a fairy diorama… 

 

Cindy’s husband joked if she needed any bark. “Yes, for Kim,” she replied. He’s learned just to go with it when these events happen and my name comes up. Very smart man.

Another writer in our group puzzled by the bark present wanted me to explain my Fairy Rock Garden. Most Fairy Gardens are little scenes in the garden with plants and mini-furniture and houses in pots or tucked under trees.

In my case, I decided to make a Fairy Rock Garden so I don’t have to deal with the plants either. I have the start of an entire development; more rocks, less plants to water. My fascination with Fairy Gardens started while attending Camp Fire summer day camp at Camp Nadaka.

We split nut shells to make fairy bowls and put them on top of tiny wood tables we made in the forest. That’s all it took for my imagination to take flight. Also explains why “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is my favorite Shakespeare play; fairies rule.

On the way home from our fiction critique group, I stopped at Joann Fabrics to pick up some bead craft containers. When I walked in the door, this is what I saw to my right.

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Flipping Fairy Garden gear everywhere! On sale too!

 

I almost screamed. Fairy Garden booty as far as the eye could see. I immediately began taking photos. The thirty percent off tags were very tempting, but I only bought two things. Think I was so overwhelmed with joy I couldn’t shop. Hard to believe, but true.

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You can get apple houses.

 

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Or stone and moss houses.

 

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Or lawn swings and camp fires and Welcome doors.

 

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Or a chicken coop. They even have rabbit hutches.

 

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I had to buy the Fairies Welcome sign on the left. Then I purchased a little round wood table with cookies on a platter and a pink tea pot. Priceless.

 

If you want to get some Bloom Room Littles, then Joann Fabrics is the place to go. But not before I get back to clear out some fairy garden stock. I have coupons for Thursday. Good thing I’ve got a Subaru Forester for hauling.

Got Fairy Garden furniture and accessories? Let’s all get ready to play in the dirt!

 

P.S. Checked online and the Camp Fire Organization sold the former Camp Nadaka in 1995 to the city of Gresham, Oregon. It is now the Nadaka Nature Park, 10-acres of natural area and a 2-acre neighborhood park on the former Nelson property.

Check out these clean-up and construction pictures which just happen to show some big fairy houses. Told ya!     http://friendsofnadaka.org/photos/

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Can Warm Memories Fight Snowmares?

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Mother Nature is cranky. We just got a Special Weather Statement predicting another snowstorm and possible freezing rain. Weather Service says small accumulation, tv stations say two to four inches; last time they both predicted that we got a foot of snow followed by ice. Sigh.

I’m sure the ice cream and chip rush is on at the grocery stores, especially with Super Bowl this weekend. Snacks rule! Since December when this weird weather started, I’ve cleaned out my bathroom cabinets and drawers, my pantry, three stacks of old newspapers and started my taxes. At this rate my house will be spotless by May, a rare occurrence.

So to perk us all up, I’ve decided to recycle some of my favorite photos. I need to remind myself there is a warm season when my toes can run naked in sandals, I don’t have to wear four layers of clothes and there are actual rose blooms in my backyard. Note to self, must get busy on more Fairy Rock Garden building plans….

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My favorite place on the planet, my lawn swing. Nap heaven.

 

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The Double Delight. A favorite rose in my back yard.

 

 

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Chipmunk hijinks! This Batman and Robin pair in Eastern Oregon gave me a run for my money to catch their pic.

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Let’s not forget the berry bounty! Before baking it looks fabulous. After, not so much. More practice needed.

 

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And a sunny summer day at Depoe Bay, Oregon. Break out the flip flops!

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Got Fun Snow Pics?

by Kimberly A. Cook                            (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

For the three people in the lower 48 states who don’t have snow at the moment, I wanted to send along some photos to get you in the holiday mood. For the rest of us who’ve about had it with the ice/sleet/freezing rain/snow debacles, maybe these will give you a smile.

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This little hedgehog guy was a gift from a friend and graces one of the impatien pots in the backyard. Thought I’d rounded all the critters up and put them in the garage, but I missed this cutie. He appeared out of the melting snow. Got to love that smile!

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Always on the job, farmer bunny is still hard at work trying to remove snow when he’s not pushing around posies during the summer. He’s got quite a good crop of snow in this picture. Bun also insists on wearing his overalls without a coat, even in this cold weather. Iron Bun!

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Ever alert, the gnome guard at the Fairy Rock Garden stayed at his post and kept up surveillance during the storms. He must have gotten wind of the mouse family who invaded the garage and isn’t taking any chances. Even though the fairies have not yet moved into these cottages, they are still under construction, he is on the job keeping their future homes safe.

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Of course the only things left behind by these invaders were their tiny footsteps. Or claw prints to be exact. They all seemed to be right around the pile of bird feed put out before the storms started. Not sure I can get an ID on these perps, but bet they have feathers.

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This little guy doesn’t have any snow on his feet, but I bet he’s the lookout for the bigger gang. He found time to bask in the short sun spot, like I’ve done when it shows up.

If you’re up to your keister in snow and sick of it, try taking some fun snow pics or at least coming up with new swear words. I tried both yesterday while I was scraping ice off the front sidewalk. The ice won!

Wishing you all happy holidays, warm homes, holiday cookies, eggnog and may all your tv and tech devices stay on!

 

 

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Rolling Rocks In The Garden?

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Back to the rocks! This past weekend I finally got to put rocks in the Fairy Rock Garden. This might seem pretty straightforward, but in the end I needed three different types of rocks. So far.

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Bags all lined up like soldiers. That was as far as I was going to haul them. 

 

First choice was to use white rocks. Researched them at Home Depot and did not like the look. Shopped online and found a landscape company close by with rocks to be used in fish aquariums. Got a five-gallon bucket of those. They are so pretty I want to use them for jewelry.

Decided the aquarium rocks would be used to simulate a pond and then I would go with decorative river pebbles. When I bought the six bags of river pebbles, the pond pebbles looked nice too. Bought two of those bags.

There was not one place on those rock bags that said how much they weighed, but I knew it was more than thirty pounds of kitty litter. Used my Air Force Reserve flight gloves, since the nomex with leather grips really help grab plastic bags. Full of rocks. Wet rocks.

Thursday loaded the rock bags from Home Depot into Subie. Friday unloaded the rocks from Subie to the garden. Saturday I decided it was not rock moving day.

Sunday it was time. The rocks spread pretty well but I almost forgot about the aquarium rocks, but I remembered in time to make the rock pond.

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Get your freshly washed rocks! See the agate aquarium rocks for the rock pond?

 

They were drying out and looking dirty, so then I had to wash my rocks. About this time I figured I was doing play therapy and I could not have been happier. Whatever floats our boats!

Even found the piece of black obsidian Mom brought over from her yard and gave it a good scrubbing and added it to the landscape. Then I started moving things around. HGTV in the rock garden!

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Pretty rocks in my own rock garden. Fabulous.

 

Then I began finding fun rocks in the Fairy Rock Garden. Started pilfering my own pebbles. Once a rock hound, always a rock hound. Still have a bucket of aquarium rocks left too. Priceless!

Then my new Fairy Houses 2017 Calendar by Sally J. Smith arrived. The pictures are what dreams are made of and where fairies truly live. There is a Fairy Garden industry!

But now I have to order the doors for the Fairy Houses, get ready to put a roof on the stump with pine cone pieces and unleash the hot glue gun. Plus move the elves in to guard the perimeter.

It’s not easy being a Fairy Rock Garden developer, but I’m having a blast.

Whatever play therapy works for you, have fun!

 

 

 

 

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Are You A Lawn Swinger?

by Kimberly A. Cook                      (Twitter  @ WarriorTales)

Saturday was a big day in my backyard. Finally the official set up and use of the lawn swing happened. Friends used their mechanical skills to fix part of the seat the Sunday before, so all systems were go for launch.

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One of my happiest places on this planet. Got a lawn swing?

 

This was a big deal for several reasons, first being the weather was so stupid hot and wet last summer the lawn swing never made it out of the garage. The tragedy of it all. Second, this vintage lawn swing is a family heirloom and brings back so many memories. It’s built like a tank and keeps on swinging.

Third, there is nothing like taking a summer afternoon swing snooze or a morning reading nap while moving back and forth and hearing the clink of the metal bounce against the frame. A calming, quiet, soothing ritual of time passing in slow waves instead of maniac moments.

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Juliet is back in town! That girl has got to keep herself together. 

 

Other reasons to celebrate included Juliet getting herself glued together for the second time after falling apart again. Gave her a black duct tape belt this time too. Gnomeo was quite happy to see her back in the neighborhood.

Then The Fairy rose showed off some late blooms in the early morning light in the garden. Pink, roses and clusters all in one rose bush, be still my heart. Aptly named since the Fairy Rock Garden is still under construction in the vicinity.

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This is the only rose in my yard with the guts and grit to grow in the clay soil instead of in a big pot. This Fairy Rose is hard core. Plus pretty in pink.   

 

August is a time to enjoy the lazy days of summer, take a snooze on a lawn swing and slow down and sip the lemonade.

Enjoy August!

 

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