Backward in Time

Canon Canonet QL17 G-III

A few years ago I thought I would give film photography with a rangefinder camera a shot. It was a complete failure. The reason is I am not too sure about using this camera, much less if it really works for me. I may be better off with a regular film camera, one which uses the lens itself to focus. Consequently, I bought a used Nikon FM2n on eBay – it should arrive in a few days. However, I do intend to master this rangefinder.

This Canonet is a really cool little camera, but focusing it just drives me crazy. I can use a split-screen focusing ring very easily, but this one is different. There are little squares in the viewfinder that sorta need to line up. On top of that, if you don’t get your fingers out of the way, you might end up with one in the picture that you never saw while making your exposure.

Well, I printed out the manual and will re-read it. Then I will practice focusing it. Finally, I will load up some film and see what happens. I have some Kodak Professional Portra 400 to putz with.

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Nearby Treasures

Beach Plants Above El Matador

My work schedule, for now, is all over the place, with some days ending at 9:00 p.m., others at 6:30, and others at 5.  The end result is a sense of no time for me because I am waiting to go to work, and my feeling like I am totally uncreative.  In between all this are the usual chores of running a household.  But this is Spring Break, and I am able to do a bit of what want, despite a stated goal of cleaning out the garage (which so far has included a dumpster dumped and 9 boxes of paper shredded by a mobile shredding service!).

Cliffs Above El Matador State Beach

On the Rocks at El Matador

I am inland from the Pacific by about 35 miles, both east and southeast.  Ways to get to the beach are head through the canyons, or out toward the flat Oxnard plain.  A friend and I both were free, so we decided to head out to El Matador State Beach in Malibu.  It is below a cliff line, and requires a bit of a walk to get there.  The walk is not difficult, but it is a bit precarious as the steps are old, and in between the steps is a narrow section of pathway which is very eroded.  Loaded down with camera gear can make for a rather spooky descent.

In the Cave 2

I brought two lenses with me:  a Tokina 11-16mm, and a Nikon 24-120.  I also brought a tripod.  What I forgot was the ND110 filter for the Tokina, and as a result couldn’t get any long exposures for that soft, spooky water look.  Oh well!

Incoming 2

The entire coastline in California is pretty much public property, with a few exceptions.  There are laws regarding public access, that it cannot be denied nor cut off by someone.  In Malibu, of course, there are wealthy and famous people who have built houses along the coast.  Keeping the beaches accessible can be daunting, but there are public pathways, some hidden and unknown, others blocked off by zealous homeowners.  I know that if people trashed my yard walking to get to the beach, I wouldn’t be happy, and it is these cretins who spoil it for a lot of us.  Then, of course, paparazzi don’t help, either.

Mussels Signed 1000

El Matador is a lovely little beach, with fantastic rock formations, and tidal pools with urchins.  It behooves the photographer to know the times for tides, but even if the tide is in, splashing on the cliffs, great pictures can be had, as can ones on the sand and in the rock of caves.  An overcast day has its own challenges as does the sunset or sunrise.  Forgetting certain pieces of equipment change the game plan.  It was a great break from chores, and I plan to go back on a sunnier day to do the sunset, and bring my ND filter for those long exposures.

Grey Skies Above El Matador


Posted in Blitherings, Photography



While post-processing some pictures from yesterday’s walk, I was struck with how lovely it is to have friends with whom I can spend time.  Some friends we see frequently, others less so, but all of our time together reminds me of connections and the affection we feel for one another.  Like family, friends are easy to take for granted; in reality, all require effort and reaching out and giving and receiving.  Yesterday I went on a photoshoot along my favorite local trail with a friend I had not seen socially for ages because she has been so busy.  Last night, we had friends over for dinner, and it was so nice just to chat and dine, drink wine, and watch a movie.  This morning, the puppies came running in for their morning pets from Josh, and how much all of them, as a family, are my friends.  And then my morning walk with another friend.  And friends elsewhere not seen today, near and far.  Such blessings in life are to be savored, treasured, and nutured, because these are the things that, for me, count the most in life.  Without them, a void would exist which could never be filled by anything else.

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A Bag for the Lady

Machine Inside!

I got a new-to-me sewing machine the other day, a Kenmore 158.19802, but that is a story for another day.  However, it needed to be used, and I needed something fun to do that wouldn’t make me nuts.  My sewing student likes to make stuff, like pillow cases and stuffed felt tomatoes, and me, I have never done anything with my sewing except make clothes.  Because her thinking patterns aren’t mine, I decided to think outside of my box, and looked for something free, and useful.  Voila!  The Pleated Tote by Artsy Crafty Babe.

Pleated Tote Pattern

This is a free pattern, and it is really well-designed.  It looks good, has great directions, and with sale material, didn’t cost me more than $10.00 and some time.  And, I got to see how the new-to-me-machine works (very nicely!).  The pattern is all in the PDF file, ready to be cut out!

Pattern Piece

What I did differently from the original pattern is to double the length of the straps – I like long ones, so I can wear the bag diagonally if necessary, or knot up the straps if I want shorter handles.

Interfaced Lining and Body

A few other things I did was to interface the material and the lining with fusible lightweight pellon, clip the corners and curves, and made sure the darts of the lining and the outside of the bag were sewn to lay in opposite directions to keep the thickness of the material as minimal as possible.  Nice details, such as inside pockets, a button loop, and gentle curves, make this bag a winner.


Construction directions were clear – and if I had not read them I would not have done it right.  You sew the lining and body together, right sides together, and get this.

Inside Out

Through an opening left in the lining, you pull the bag right side out!

Right Side Out

The material itself is a bit heavier than calico-weight cotton, sort of a lightweight upholstery, but not a duck.  It is 100% cotton, and although dry cleaning is recommended, I washed the material in hot water and dried it on hot – I like to shrink anything I know is going to go into the washing machine.  (I don’t know anyone who would dry clean a purse!)  I needed about 2 yards of material, and the stuff I used was 60 inches wide.  The body of the purse and the lining match, as do the pockets.   Because I wanted a bit of body to the overall purse, I decided on the interfacing for the lining and external part of the purse, and am glad I did – lightweight, but not shapeless.

Long StrapsDetails

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On a Winter Day


The past few weekends have made me feel so cramped and crazy, mostly because the puppies are growing, and needing a lot of attention.  Sometimes it makes me wonder if I was nuts to get two, but when they are all cute and cuddly, the answer is always a loud “Yes!”  Luckily, the other half is superlative at caring for them, but he abandoned me for the Super Bowl.  As the puppies are crate trained, I made good my escape for a couple of hours to the local botanical garden.

Where I live, endless blue skies are endlessly blue and cloudless.  We are in the middle of a drought.  The state does not plan to release reservoirs, and I don’t blame them.  Weather is weird, extremes showing up which seem abnormal.  Global warming?  I think so, but this is not a political / ecological foray, so we will leave it at that.  Back to the skies:  we had rain clouds!  And some light rain!  I went out to shoot landscapes with a long lens, 70-300mm, but could not produce any I liked – I expect my view-point was wrong.


Instead, tripod in hand, I also focused on flowers.  Always, flowers.  Leaves, rocks, trees, branches.  I love the shapes of nature, and ultimately these seem to be the ones I love the most.  Long lenses are great for blurring the background, and with flowers it is no exception.  On this trip, I took my time, crawled around, and looked through the camera to frame my shot.  At times, I used live view because I was down so low (luckily, no mud), and my battery was draining faster than normal.

Small patches of bright color are always welcome on a dreary day.  The smell of sage and earth and decaying leaves are wonderful.  I took my time to enjoy the garden, and even though it started to rain – and my camera gear was sadly unprotected – it was such a pleasure to be outdoors (sans puppies pulling on a leash) to enjoy the beauties of nature.


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A Good Day to Dye

Dyeing Supplies

I have been feeling really all over the map of late – partly because the puppies do require a lot of work, such as walking, training, feeding, kissing, disciplining.  They are coming along fine.  Me, I am in need of sleep.  And a change of pace.

Today is overcast along the California central coast.  We even got a few drops of rain.  I nearly fainted.  The puppies, too, were shocked, because I don’t think they knew what it was.  And because it was dreary, what better way to pass some time than dyeing some yarn?

I have powdered dyes which I use; however, I need more colors in my palette as all are toward violets and teals.  There is a black and a lime green and a red, but really, not enough for a bigger variety of color choice.  I think I will order some new colors soon.

Anyway, I dug out my supplies – a couple of boxes of stuff dedicated to dyeing.  Nothing that is eaten out of is used in the process.  Pots, wooden spoons, steamers, pitchers, whatever.  I had some Bare Hare, an angora-merino blend from KnitPicks, along with their merino-silk blend.  I also had two balls of Lion’s “Sockease,” which is 75% wool and 25% nylon.

Yarn in Aluminum Pan


The process of dyeing this yarn was quite simple.  In little plastic bowls, some dye powder, add boiling water, stir, and use a 60cc syringe to deliver the colors in stripes.  I poured some hot water between the stripes and patted the yarn to blend the colors, wearing, of course, my stylish blue nitrile gloves.


I wrapped the skeins up in plastic wrap, placed them on vegetable steamers in the boiling pots of water (water is just above the level of the steamer), and let them go to town for 30 minutes.  Then, dump onto a towel, take apart the plastic wrap, and dump the yarns into a water-vinegar rinse to cool and set the dye.  Lots of dumping.

Once that is done, put them into cool, soapy water, wash, and rinse.  You can spin them out in your washing machine, but place the skeins in lingerie bags.


The picture below is really bad. All the colors are actually fairly nice. And mostly violets and turquoises . . .


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Let me introduce you to two new family members: Inky and Smudge, labrador-Aussie mix. Mellow, fuzzy, cute. 10 weeks old. From St. Martin’s Animal Rescue. Cutest little things (we think!).  Smudge is bigger (at 13 lbs.) and a dark grey, and Inky is smaller (at 11 lbs.) and blacker.

Inky & Smudge 1 BW

Inky & Smudge 2 BW

Inky & Smudge 3

Inky & Smudge 4

Inky & Smudge 5

Inky 1




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A Shot or Two
From the Mountain Top


Pepper Tree in the Late Afternoon

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