Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday Snapshots

photography, cat, flowers, azalea, lantana, Florida, fall

  A sleepless night of crocheting led to a few finished projects. (5 hats!) I should have been spending the day working on writing a pattern and weaving in a few leftover loose ends, but a feeble attempt at sleep ended in a brain that's not fit for counting. I went outside to clear my mind in the mild fall air instead. Something caught my eye that made me go back in for the camera... And what was supposed to be "one quick picture" later, I have a few snapshots to share: 

  A guest plant has made a surprise visit to Dad's yard... A little wild lantana (shrub verbena) popped up next to the driveway! As a child, I thought these flowers were extra-special because one bloom is like a miniature bouquet of multicolored flowers all on one stalk. It was difficult to pick these "magical" blossoms because of their many sharp thorns, so most were lucky to be left alone to grow.

  Back in those days, I would find a mix of the multicolored variety along with solid yellow ones. Little did I know how special those bright yellow flowers were... A Florida native, l. depressa is now on the endangered list of plants that are getting harder to find. It's quite common to spot l. camara (the multicolored ones) growing along the sides of roads here in central Florida, and apparently they'll work on taking over your yard as well.

flowers, azalea, salmon/orange

  Already having the camera out, I decided to get some shots of Dad's azaleas. This salmon/orange variety makes a beautiful specimen for practicing photography.

flowers, photography, azaleas, white

  The same flowers in white made for a challenge! I found it difficult to find the right settings to avoid washing out the picture, and a mild breeze picked up while I was trying. Originally I adjusted for a lower ISO and longer shutter speed, but kept getting a blurry picture due to the wind. Eventually I got an almost-perfect shot with a higher speed of 1/2500 and the ISO at 6400.

flower, photography, azaleas, pink, variegated

  The same setting got me an awesome shot of this pink variety without having to worry about blurry blossoms blowing in the breeze.

photography, flowers, azalea, bud, blossom

  And I tried my hand at a closeup of this little bud, but found the photo just didn't have much aesthetic appeal for me. I got bored with the azaleas and started to review my photos, and that's when I noticed a little green bug had been hanging out on the lantana in some of the best shots. I wanted to try again without the photo-bomber, so I went back to the driveway...

photography, flowers, lantana, l. camara

  The auto-rotate function on the camera got me again! I leaned over too far trying to check for that bug and got a vertical picture. I should have been paying more attention... I have no idea what could have distracted me so much...

photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

   Oh, yeah, maybe it's that... "ME!!!" said Jump Steady... "You're supposed to be taking pictures of ME!!!" Obviously, any further photos of the lantana were forgotten as soon as the cats realized the camera was out...

photography, cat, black, Jump Steady

  Of course, as soon as the cats had my attention they had to act like I was bothering them. With the photo shoot interrupted, Jump Steady felt it was a good time to go take a nap. I went back to see if there were any more interesting blossoms on the azaleas I might have missed...

photography, Florida, toad, southern

  And found something interesting, indeed! Another guest has invaded the yard, making a home in the mulch under the azaleas. Aw, this little guy makes a cool picture, all camouflaged in his not-so-hidden burrow... 

photography, Florida, toad, southern

  But Mr. Toad wasn't so happy that I was bothering him. He started to ooze some stuff out of his warts, and I don't speak Toad but I'm pretty sure that means "leave me alone". It's also gross. I'm almost positive that this is just the common native southern toad which is harmless, but I'm no expert... Okay, it's time to leave Mr. Toad alone.

  The day progressed without any other photo-worthy moments. We went down to the old house to pack boxes of what can be salvaged, but came back empty-handed in the end. Starting in the kitchen, I tried to empty the cabinets... My cookie sheets: Covered in mold. Baking pans: Mold. Oven mitts, towels, ice cube trays, etc.: Mold, mold, and mold. I'm starting to think anything left behind is a total loss. It puts Rip and I both in a sour mood and makes rummaging through the remains a depressing task.

photography, long exposure, night photos, stars

  The sun set an hour earlier today, revealing a beautiful moon that's just one day past full... You can bet I was back outside with the camera for those night shots I've been working on. Again I had trouble capturing the perfect picture of what I'm envisioning, so I abandoned my attempts at getting the moon in the photo. Except for that issue, I think I'm getting familiar enough with the settings and I'm ready to try a scene other than Dad's trees.

photography, long exposure, nature, oak, moss

  Still, I love these shots for what they are... It might not be much of a scene to look at in a glance, but it's the feeling you get if your brain catches what's "wrong" with the pictures. I like things that have a creepy/beautiful style more than something that's just "pretty".

  Perhaps this photography will lead me in another direction after all... But that doesn't mean it will take me away from crocheting! I'm hoping my newfound hobby helps to feed my creativity; maybe it will just fuel my uncertainty in the end. All I know now is that I have a choice between going back out with the camera or weaving in loose ends on all those hats I've been making. For once, I'm actually looking forward to picking up the yarn needle.

Happy Crocheting!
PS - Although the pattern is still lost and may never be found, I finally finished that scarf.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Loose Ends

crochet, scarf, yarn tails, chain stitch, woven

  Keeping up with friends isn't easy in my current situation. I want so badly to have a binge day of catching up on everyone's blogs and browsing new patterns! Until I can find the time to do that again, I've made a goal to try to post something here once a week to keep me motivated... Well, this past week sure has been "something", but not much crochet is getting finished.

  I started a scarf during Hurricane Irma. It was meant to be a free pattern, but there's too many loose ends to deal with right now. (No, no... Not in the scarf, but in life itself.) As we watched the water rise around us, while we listened to the wind rip the shingles off Dad's roof, and the whole time wondered if we would have anything to return to, I crocheted to keep calm. When the cleanup began after the storm, the project suffered some neglect.
crochet, scarf, WIP, work in progress, chain stitch, woven

  I began other projects, and this scarf became buried under a pile of half-finished things. The good news is that I found the project with its hook still attached. Progress resumes amid frustration with the other work I started. The bad news... If I wrote down a pattern, I can't find it now! My yarn is in tangled piles, those other projects just won't come together the way I want, and I feel like I just need to finish something or give it up already. So instead of becoming irritated with counting more stitches in another unfinished item, I decided to complete the scarf with a round of plain double crochet:

crochet, scarf, WIP, work in progress, double crochet

  I like it, though I feel like that plain border is a form of "giving up". But perhaps it's all those loose ends in life that are aggravating me the most... As I sit on Dad's couch which is covered in the Big Huge Afghan (which produced the scraps that are making this scarf), I can look at some of my best work and know I'm no failure. I just feel like I should be doing something else right now.

crochet, scarf, afghan, WIP, work in progress, yarn scraps

  It's always good to be able to understand what is really bothering you, and to differentiate between it and the smaller issues that build under the weight of the big problem. I've come to a point where I'm almost ready to give up on crochet, but unfinished projects are not the real cause of all this stress! 

  Applying for help with FEMA has been a roller coaster ride. The low-interest loan we qualified for through the program is a start, but I think their amount is a joke if we're supposed to use it to rebuild our lives. Any chance I've had at a free day has been spent meeting another inspector at the house that's an hour away from where we're staying, or filling out more forms to get that loan. There's still our home full of our moldy belongings to clean out, the car to sell, and cats to find homes for. The one thing that hasn't changed is the constant pile of Rip's laundry needing to be done. No, it's not my crochet that is causing this meltdown in my brain... It's too many roadblocks stopping life from progressing that turns one missed stitch into a major disaster in my mind.

  To decompress, I've turned to my old hobby of photography. I've wanted to experiment with long-exposure shots in the dark ever since getting the new camera. I have also been meaning to try out a better photo editing program, plus expand this blog into more than just crochet... So I finally did a little of it all:

photography, photo editing, harvest moon, long exposure, night sky

  On the bright side, I'm learning I have a talent for taking some interesting photos in complete darkness. What's not so great is my skill to make them better with that new editing program. Above, I managed to turn a plain picture of the harvest moon into an amateur's artsy painting. Below, I edited a different photo of that same moon into... Something.

photography, photo editing, harvest moon, long exposure, night sky

  Those were both done before I realized that I was trying too hard, attempting to take a long-exposure shot of a light source ( the moon) in the dark. What I needed was a simple, balanced, dark picture to get what I wanted...

photography, photo editing, stars, long exposure, night sky

  And BOOM! I have that awesome shot that looks like the stars are out in the daytime. This is the kind of photography that can get me as excited as a new yarn at the craft store. (And psst... That last one isn't edited for looks; just a re-size and a logo.) So perhaps I need to feed my other talents for a while before I can get back to working seriously on my crochet. Taking pictures doesn't require me to keep count, untangle, or record stitches. It just feels good to look through the lens and capture my vision of the world. But first, there's some loose ends to deal with...

crochet, WIP, work in progress, scarf, yarn tails, chain stitch, woven

  Seriously, this time I mean those yarn ends! This morning we woke up to lows in the upper 30's. I know I do this every year, but... Don't I live in Florida??? Where did summer go? I want it back; it's too cold!!! Okay, I'll stop complaining and go finish that scarf now. I will need it if I'm going to be out at night taking more of those awesome pictures.

Happy Crocheting!

PS - In the meantime, I can stick to snapping shots of this amazing view every time I have to go back to the old house. 😃
sunset, lake, pictures, photography

Thursday, October 19, 2017

From the Stash #3: Salvaging

  As I continue to pick up the pieces of life after Irma, I'm also trying to organize my yarn stash into something that takes up less room at Dad's. Buried in the bottoms of bins and hidden from sight in bags, I'm starting to find some long-neglected projects...

  What we have here are the pieces of what was supposed to be a scarf... You can catch a glimpse of its potential in this post from 2015. After the out-of-control cat sabotaged the project, I continued my efforts to finish it. Shortly after that I published another progress post where you can tell I'm about to lose my mind... And that's around the time the project was abandoned.

  Today this UFO (unfinished object) was rediscovered in a bag at the bottom of a bin, and my first thought was to throw it all in the trash. There is so much work that we still have to do with moving what can be salvaged from the house, and I just don't have the energy to put this mess together.

 But a different thought hit me just then... We've lost so much to Irma! Do I really have to throw this project away? My idea would replace one of the little things I've lost, if only it would work... So then I found myself straightening out these rings.

  Once I squeezed them all onto my hand, I ran a piece of yarn through the middle of the loops. I wouldn't say it was easy to do, but it only took me a minute. A little help from another hand would have made the process go even faster.

  And then I tied that yarn into a big ugly knot, again wishing I had another hand. I didn't succeed in getting the knot as tight as I hoped. I think it will still work, anyway.

  It only took a minute to crochet a chain with the yarn still attached to the knot. A quick slip stitch to create a loop, and then I quickly wove the end towards the knot. That's where I tied it into another big ugly knot... Usually I would be against tying knots in my work, but it doesn't matter this time.

  Those pieces of a scarf that was never completed have now become a new bath pouf. It looks weird, but it feels so soft and... Pouf-y. It's much softer than the pile of store-bought mesh that was left behind in my moldy house. But how long will the acrylic yarn last? Hmm. I say if it holds up for a week, then I'm glad I got some use out of it before it goes in the trash. The pieces were about to go there anyway, right?

  I'm really happy to have a new pouf, silly as that might seem. Though we grabbed our valuables before the storm, so many "little" things got left behind and are now contaminated with deadly spores. It's things like this that I keep adding up in my head every time I find myself needing an item. It isn't worth getting sick trying to save a $2 ball of plastic mesh that's full of mold, but maybe it is worth trying to save less than $2 of yarn from the trash.

Happy Crocheting!

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