Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The [last] Greens of Summer

Remember your first camera? the first pictures you took? all by yourself? Today I see five year olds with palm-sized digital cameras shooting away at whatever, but more than fifty years ago when I got my first camera it was a much different process... and a much bigger deal.

My dad had long recorded both family and work history with a series of big, heavy and very serious 35mm cameras - his most beloved a Nikon that belonged to his employer, but which for all practical purposes was "his". Certainly no one else ever touched it. I well remember his putting together slides of everything he shot, and mother painstakingly putting prints into albums, or more often putting the envelopes of prints into "the box" that she would get to "sometime soon".

At nearly ten, though, all that changed for me. For Christmas in 1956 Dad gave me my first camera - a Kodak "box". It was only a few months before our summer trip to Virginia where we would visit Jamestown (for the 350th celebration) and Williamsburg, and then participate in the International Fleet Review in Hampton Roads. He had decided that it was time for me to learn to take my own photos. Never was a girl happier. My first few rolls of black and white film were sent off to be processed and were probably pretty bad - I can find no sign of those photos. But with a little practice, I got better.

This picture was taken [by me] during the Fleet Review. It is a Curtis Bay tugboat and was taken from a second Curtis Bay tug. My granddad had made arrangements for the entire family to go out on these two tugs to be out on the water among the sailing ships and military vessels during the Review. Look carefully and you can see the "Jun 57" on the edge of the paper.

By the next year I was going "down to the office" with Dad on Saturdays and spending time with him in the lab developing my own pictures. I remember my excitement the first time I saw an image appearing on the sheet of photo paper in the solution. For the youngsters, it's a lot like what happens when a Polaroid picture materializes, only sharper and wetter!

Color came into my life a few years later. Dad was still paying for most of my film and color was pricey for a pre-teen girl to mess up, and of course required that we pay for processing. But what COLOR it was! Like virtually everyone of my generation and several before and after, I started with Kodachrome. Over the years I tried lots of other things - Ektachrome, Fuji, and even some Technicolor film that I had to special order and pay a fortune to process and print - but until I finally went digital several years ago, I always used Kodachrome when I could find it. It is a fine film and makes gorgeous pictures for us duffers, as well as for the pros.

You may have seen the news yesterday that Kodak has produced its last run of Kodachrome. The hue and cry from amateurs all over the world is loud and unhappy. Many of the bloggers say they have 100+ rolls in the freezer, so some folks will have access to it for a while, but effectively it's no longer available to most of us. Another victim of modern technology. Less than 1% of Kodak's sales were for Kodachrome.

If you would like to see some really gorgeous photos like this one, you should look at the kodachrome slides montage on the Kodak site. And while you do it, you might want to play a little Paul Simon:

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama dont take my kodachrome away"

The world will be a little less colorful and summers a little less green without this old friend. RIP.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Geezer Bee

Who knew? Apparently AARP throws a spelling bee for the 50+ generation. It was held recently in Cheyanne, Wyoming. Really.

Wasn't the spelling bee the best part of fifth grade, and sixth grade, and seventh grade? I grew up in a Scripps-Howard town, so we participated every year. I wonder if children in this era of electronic everything enjoy it as much? The geezers surely did. The last two contestants went head to head for 30 rounds. Go, spellers! Maybe I'll see you next year.
This has been an odd weather week for gardening. Monday thru Wednesday we had 80's and scattered showers all day - more scattered some days than others - and about 1/4 inch of rain each day. Thursday it started to warm up and was major league humid and by Friday we were in the upper 90's. In other words feast or famine for both water and sunshine. Hard on the gardener, but not so bad for the garden.

The monarda 'Raspberry Wine' is gorgeous and way tall! The butterflies are everywhere and we keep looking for a hummer or two. Haven't seen any in our yard yet, but are told that others have. The feeder has been up for several weeks, but only the downy woodpeckers and chickadees are drinking there so far.

While the river of purple is currently between bloom flushes, we had a lake of yellow all week - the miniature day lilies 'Happy Returns' - bloomed like troopers everywhere and by the end of the week we had completely bloomed out. Sometime this coming week I have several hours of deadheading to do to get the old stems cut back for the next flush of blooms to start. The 'Richmond Spider' lilies continue to bloom and will be with us for several weeks. There are miscellaneous tall yellow daylilies starting to bloom all over and a couple of neat "black" daylilies I picked up from Andre Viette last summer. They are a deep, deep purple and an interesting contrast to all the yellow. Makes me wish that one could bring daylilies into the house, but unfortunately they live up to their names - even when they are not cut.

A lovely clematis 'Jackmanii' made its first appearance this week, too. It grows on a trellis on the side of my garden shed. Of all the clematis varieties we have, it is really my favorite. The cone flowers are coming into bloom, and the alstroemeria - another love - have started, too. Most of them are a dark yellow 'Sweet Laura', but this morning I found one little clump of a gorgeous cerise, named Staprioxa' (sold as Oxana Princess Lilies).

The big job this weekend has been spreading mulch. I should have done this in April for several reasons: 1) It would have been easier when all the perennials were just little fellows peeking out of the ground. Now I have to do it all by hand and move everything aside as I go. 2) It was hot this weekend and I have had to do it in little bits, so it's not done. 3) It would have been better for the plants to have had the mulch earlier to help shade out the weeds, and I would not have had to pull so many. In other words, if I had done it on time, it would have been easier and better.

I am generally happy with the garden and the weather, tho. We've only had a few really humid days and so far none that were hazy, hot and humid. We're getting enough rain that I have only watered twice which is nice, so let's hope it holds!