Saturday, April 30, 2011

Again, the Auction

I get lots of questions about the auction. Most are interested in what kind of pieces we take to sell. I think there's a common misconception that you can only take high end items to a local auction. And sometimes that's true. But if you look around, I'm willing to bet you can find a local house that will be willing to sell just about anything you have lying around.

To demonstrate the kind of pieces we're selling at the auction, I thought I'd show you today's stash.

Here's a set of Snow White dolls from the early 90s. Not worth a lot, but too good to take to the thrift store. This is a set of 13 dolls. We figure it will bring about $50, most likely being purchased by a dealer. These are all still in their original boxes

A nice old deco bud vase.
This will most likely
go with other pieces as a lot.

A kind of neat piece, this is a Fisher Price Circus set, in the original round tin. It includes a circus wagon, 11 animals, trapezes, etc. It's not in perfect condition, but it is complete.

A set of wine glasses.

Here's an assortment of gew gaws,
these will probably be lotted out.

pressed glass,
a couple of cast iron pans.

Four pieces of amethyst glass.
To the naked eye, it looks black,
but when you hold it up to the light,
you can see it's actually a deep purple.

A piece of original art, ink and watercolor.
(bad reflection at the top).

A pair of 1930s candlesticks.
We used to have these on our dinner table.

An original bronze, signed by the artist.
It's a man and his dog,
sitting on a custom made bench.
The guys in the front are candle holders.

And just to show you that everything we take isn't "collectible", here's a couple of boxes of kitchen items.

These will also sell, most likely in the silent auction.

We didn't bring this to the auction,
he lives there.

Hopefully this will help some of you who are lightening your loads. I must say, this is so much easier than a yard sale or flea market. It's really kind of cool. You get it ready, take it down to the auction so that it's out of the house, and move on. Then, a few weeks later, after you've completely forgotten about most of it, you get a check!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Friends

Isn't the internet the most amazing thing?

I write this blog and people read it. I read other people's blogs, sometimes I respond, sometimes people respond to my blog. Over time, even though we've never met, a connection is forged, real as can be.

Sometimes we're even lucky enough to meet some of these folks face to face.

And that's what happened today, when I got the chance to finally meet MeriKay . A fellow blogger, she's an RV wannabe who lives a mere 30 minutes from us.

We met up and took a little walk in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

What a beautiful day it was.

My foot has been kind of funky so we took it easy, but that gave us plenty of time to stop and smell the roses. And the redwoods.

It's been a while since I've spent any time under the trees and I found I had forgotten how to take pictures when the contrast is so extreme.

Knowing some of these wouldn't read correctly,
I found myself looking at shapes.
As always, you can click to enlarge.

Shapes and colors.

I spied this tree from a ways away.

Even closer up, I couldn't quite tell
if this was a limb or a whole new tree,
growing right out of this giant redwood.
Whatever it was, I liked it.

In keeping with shapes,
for some reason,
this looked like a lamb.
Well, the back of a baby lamb.
It was much more realistic in the real world.

I know it's a bit of a cliché
to say the redwoods create a cathedral effect,
but clichés are created because they're based in truth.

Right next to Henry Cowell is Roaring Camp Railroad. We took a stroll over there, but the train had already departed.

Maybe we'll do that another day.
For today I just took a shot of this perfect iris.

After our walk, we took a drive down to the auction. MeriKay is also divesting herself of some possessions and was interested in taking a look at the whole operation. After that, we stopped at Costco (right across the street from the auction) where I picked up even more boxes for our auction items.

It was a lovely day, perfect in every way.

I sure hope I get the chance
to meet more of you one of these days.
So far, every encounter has been so positive.
Life is truly good.

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Geographic

I just can't help myself, prepare yourselves for another iPad related post.

One thing I've missed living in the motorhome is magazines. They're just too much trouble in such a small space. Since there's so much content on the internet, I kept telling myself it wasn't a big deal.

But really, I missed the full stories and the large beautiful pictures.

Then, I took a look at Zinio, an ap for the computer (or iPhone or iPad). It handles full magazine subscriptions for the digitally minded.

Today, I found the digital edition of National Geographic. Wowie Zowie, is this ever what the internet was intended for. Gorgeous full color photos, just like the hard copy, but many of these are interactive, so it's even better. Full articles instead of blurbs, this is just what I've been missing.

A digital subscription to National Geographic is $15 for a full year, twelve issues. I think it's a great deal.

And as you may have noticed, I'm playing with the blog layout again. I get bored with the look, so it may keep changing for a while.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the Doctor

In my youth, I was completely hooked on science fiction. Asimov, Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Riverworld, Dune, the list goes on and on.

I also read a good bit of fantasy, but somewhere along the way, I got away from it all.

Still, there are scifi experiences that will stay with me forever. The viewing of both Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET were profoundly moving events. I remember sitting in a darkened theater, completely transported to another reality. The wonder of it all moved me to tears.

Sometimes I'll pick up a book or watch a movie and hope for that kind of occurance again. I was beginning to think that but maybe I'm just getting too old, or perhaps my sense of wonder has vanished.

Then I discovered Doctor Who. I know I'm coming really late to this party, but have you seen Doctor Who? I'm not talking about the original (which I may watch next) but the 2005 series.

Wow, this is really knocking my socks off.

Great writing, lots of humor, all written with ideas worthy of the best speculative fiction of the olden days. While it's character driven, the stories are so original, sharp and clever, it's a real delight.

They use an unusual premise. The main character is Doctor Who, a Time Lord and the last of his race. He moves through space and time, experiencing cultures, personalities and adventures along the way. As a Time Lord, he has the ability to regenerate. This allows them to keep the series going by using different actors (it's been ongoing since 1963) and I feel, keeps the premise fresh. The series was re-invented in 2005 with the very talented Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor. Next comes David Tennant, who, while it took me a while to adapt, I must admit, I now love

As he travels through time, he has different companions, which also change after a season or two. This brings an unusual feel to the show. The Doctor is always the same "person" but by using different actors, he evolves in different directions. And each companion brings something new to the mix.

It's a novel and exciting premise.

I'm also really impressed with the special effects and makeup. I'm not a huge fan of CGI in current film and television (I think it's often overdone). But these folks have got it just right. The makeup ranges from no more than clever paint make up to full blown prosthetics, but they're always realistic and completely original. They also understand that what you don't see is as awe inspiring as what you see. A very clever production team on this show.

I've got to tell you, it gives me hope for both science fiction and television in general. If you have any interest in science fiction, or just want to watch some intelligently written, quality series television, I can recommend it highly. It also has a lot of heart, which I can really appreciate in these times.

This is the kind of television that may take a bit of time to get in to, but if you give it a chance, I think you might like it.

As a side note, there is a spinoff called Torchwood. If you're into puzzles, can you tell me how this name relates to Doctor Who?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shirrell Graves

We ran into yet another stash of artwork. I swear, I have every piece I have ever found in my long lifetime.

This stack (totaling close to forty pieces) was stuck back in the corner of a room where we used to have a small matting and framing business. Most of it seems to be from what I remember as my Art Deco period. There was a time when you could find this stuff all over the place for next to nothing. Yard sales, Goodwill, out by the curb . . .

And I found a ton of it.

I was really fond of the tropical pieces and looking at it now, all collected in one place, I'm kind of amazed at what a huge collection I've amassed.

But it's all going away now, I sure hope somebody cares.

I was particularly fascinated with an artist named Shirrell Graves. Working in watercolor and I think airbrush (or maybe stencils?) I loved the style. For years (pre-internet) I thought it was a woman's work, but I just looked him up, to discover that he was a man. And really prolific!

I find a lot of references to the artwork, but very little about the man himself, other than he lived in San Francisco and died in the early 1950s.

We have taken all these pieces, to be sold as one lot, to another local auction house which deals in artwork. They've also taken some of our other pieces, so we're hoping to get at least a couple of hundred dollars after they sell all the pieces.

For my memories sake,
here's my Shirrell Graves collection.

A matched pair of zebras,
original mats and frames.

My favorite piece,, the flamingo.

Bad picture, (out of focus, sorry)
I really like the panther also.

The tiger.

Mr. Graves also did a lot of flowers.
While not my favorites, when I found this
I had to add it to the collection.

Because for so long, I just loved the Art Deco look, I'll be posting some of the other artwork we're selling. Hopefully, we're coming to the end of this pile and will find something else to start on next week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

. . .

I haven't been posting a lot lately, mainly because I really don't have much of anything to post.

I've been in a weird place lately. When I started the blog almost five years ago, it was mainly to have a sort of diary of our adventures as we traveled around in the RV. As I got more and more into photography, I started adding my pictures, using the blog as an online photo album.

It was all about the full timing life.

And you know what? In my heart, I still think of us as full timers.

But now, we've been here for six months and I'm finding it harder and harder to find things to blog about. We don't go out shooting very much, so when I do post a picture or two, I find myself thinking "Why am I posting this?" And usually, it's just because I want to post something.

I read about all of you who are out living the life we love and I am green with envy.

But since we're mainly working in the house, I find that our leisure time is pretty much spent watching movies and playing on the computer or my iPad.

Consequently, I find myself writing about movies, photography and computer programs.

I have to ask myself, is anyone really interested in this? Don't most people who follow the blog read it because I usually write about the RVing lifestyle? Does anyone really care about my opinions on films, or all the iPad aps I'm discovering (as wonderful as they may be?)?

I kind of doubt it.

So I will continue to blog, but probably not as often.

If something happens, I will certainly write about it, but until we get back into the real full time life, it probably won't be as often.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the Rufous and Alien Eyes

Have I mentioned how much I love the bedroom in our 30 foot twin Lazy Daze? Our beds are in the back, surrounded on three sides by huge windows. It makes for the most lovely mornings.

And what a treat it was this morning.

We put out our hummingbird feeder a few weeks ago (attached to the window) and short of one baby we've been feeding, there hasn't been a lot of activity.

But today, all that changed.
Look who showed up!

Not as clear as I would like,
but I was shooting through our tinted windows.

This guy, like all Rufous,
had quite an attitude.
Click any of these to view a larger image.

And because I'm still so enamored of the iPad, here's a bit of photo magic. I created this using the camera in my iPhone and the photo tools on my iPad.

I was going for a sort of alien look,
ethereal and unreal.
The progression is below.

While I'm talking about iPads (and iPhones) here's a tip. A company named Chimani makes downloadable aps for several National Parks. These are great aps, self contained (so they work even when you don't have an internet connection). Uusually, they sell for $9.99 each, but to celebrate National Parks Week (April 16 through the 23rd, although it looks like they started early,) they are offering complete guides to five parks completely free.

Wow, a savings of $50.00! And they work on the iPod touch, the iPhone, the iPad and the Android.

The Parks include Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Cuyahoga Valley (which I had never even heard of, it's in Ohio) and Cape Cod. If you want a bit of info before you download, their website is here.

That's it for today, TTYS.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We went to Redbox today and were pleased to find the film Hereafter available. Don't you just love Redbox?

I'm a huge Matt Damon fan, and I think Clint Eastwood (who directed) has been turning out some if the finest cinema in the last couple of years. Have you seen Gran Torino? An excellent film.

When we got home, we settled in for a cozy movie night, and the DVD player would not work.

It's been weirding out quite a bit lately, and we've been unsure of the reason. We check a lot of DVDs out from our local library, and they're often not in the best shape, so when they wouldn't play, we would blame a bad disc. But this is a brand new disc, just released today and it wouldn't read.

Well, you don't have to hit us over the head with a hammer to get our attention, we finally decided it was time for a new DVD player. Do you think that maybe jostling the old one around in a motorhome for five years may have sped up its' demise? Or is five years about what we can expect from high use electronics these days? Who knows.

Whatever the reason, we needed a new player, so it was off to Costco. Once there, we were faced with the decision, should we buy a regular DVD player, or perhaps upgrade to a Blu-Ray player? We don't have an HDTV, so the Blu-Ray wouldn't really be a plus, but since we figured one of these days we may upgrade the TV, we decided to get a combination DVD/Blu-Ray player. For the same price, we were also able to get a player that has built in wifi. I'm not sure if we really have the speed with our aircard for streaming movies, but it didn't seem to add to the price of the unit, so we decided on that also.

Finally, we got to go home and watch Hereafter. What an excellent film, very different from most of what we see these days. Beautifully shot, intelligently written and very though provoking. I give it two thumbs up, my highest score.

And because I'm still playing on the iPad, I have to include a couple of pictures from yet another ap I've found. It's called ToonPaint. You load one of your own photographs into the application, and it turns it into a sort of cartoon type drawing.

I really like this look,
kind of like an old linoleum block cut,
or a wood block print.

I just keep loving my iPad more and more.
I'm finding new uses for it every day.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What We Found Today (and a Recipe)

We've started on "the room".

"The room" is an addition to our garage, about 15 by 15, packed wall to wall, floor to ceiling with stuff. The room shouldn't be confused with the garage (which is now only about 1/3 full), or the attic (which is still full) or the house itself, which is still about 2/3 full.

Are you getting the picture? It's not pretty, but it is kind of interesting. Sort of like going to a huge flea market, where you see things you half remember.

Like this.

Regular readers have probably figured out that, over the years, we've tried a lot of different things. These include blanket weaving, jewelry making, cooking, book selling, Disney collecting, framing and matting, and many more I can't even remember. We also made a couple of lampshades, which I had completely forgotten about. Then today we found this in the room. A bit the worse for wear, now it's off to the auction.

Then there was this little book, which I thought was very cool. I couldn't find a date on it, but it talks about the original Kodak and announces the new Kodak 2. Great illustrations and photographs.

I also found a stack of Life magazines, which always derail me for a time while I look through them. What a time trip these things are. In honor of Liz, whose passing I seriously mourn, I thought I'd include this.

Great artwork,
they really don't do posters like this anymore.

We're beginning to feel like we're making a but of progress.

I've been hoping to find a movie projector, but so far, no luck. Then, I was looking on Freecycle (which we're using to get rid of some of the "stuff") and I saw that someone was offering an 8mm projector. I wrote them, told them I would be using it for a while then re-Freecycling it. That was fine with them, so in the next couple of days, we'll be able to look at some of the old family home movies. I'm kind of looking forward to that.

While I was making dinner, the hinge on our flip up counter broke. Lazy Daze puts a small flip up counter in all their rigs. A good idea, but we improved it by removing the original and replacing it with a regular cutting board. This gives us a much larger working area, but I never realized how much we use this space till I couldn't access it anymore! We use it all the time. This is a modification we recommend to all new Lazy Daze owners, and now I know why. We went and looked for a new hinge, but none of our local hardware stores had one large enough, so we'll have to order it direct from Lazy Daze.

Back to dinner . . .

Some friends gave us a huge bunch of fresh spinach, and usually Terry's not too fond of spinach (but I love it). Then I remembered a salad we used to make at Ghost Ranch, using spinach, strawberries and nuts. I found several recipes online, but of course I was missing a couple of ingredients, so I just winged it. It came out really well, and Terry even ate two helpings, so it must be good. Here's the recipe in case you might want to try it.


Spinach (a couple of bunches)
Strawberries (a couple of cups, sliced)
nuts (I used sliced almonds, walnuts also work)
Most recipes call for candied nuts, but I used plain
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon
sugar (I used Splenda, works fine)
poppy or sesame seeds (or both)
a bit of paprika
a bit of dry mustard

Basically, you toss the cleaned greens
and the strawberries,
then add the nuts.
Then, just mix all the dressing ingredients
and toss it with the salad.

This is really quick and easy, and sure to be a hit with just about anyone. The spinach is nice and sturdy and holds up well to the spicy dressing. If you have candied nuts, they do add an extra kick, but they're not really necessary.

That's it for today. We have a car full of auction items, and they aren't open tomorrow, so we may go on a little ride, weather permitting.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Editing on the iPad

While I certainly don't intend to turn this into an iPad blog, I'm just so taken with this device that I have to share.

Every day I find new things that I never imagined I could do on the iPad. And sometimes, I find myself wishing for a comparable product on my computer.

What a huge surprise.

I've spoken before about how beautifully the iPad displays photographs. Just today, I discovered two applications that let me actually manipulate photos on the iPad. This was a real surprise, as I had been led to believe that the iPad would be more of a passive device rather than a working computer.

The first is called Camera+ and is actually an ap for the iPhone. Just to be clear, any ap that works on an iPhone will work on an iPad, but it may not be iPad "native". This means that while it will run on the iPad, it wont take advantage of the larger screen of the iPad. That's the case with Camera+, but it has such an incredible tweak that it's well worth using ion the iPad.

The tweak is called "clarity" and with the mere touch of the screen, it brightens and sharpens your photo. This can be done with other photo manipulation software, but this one works exceptionally well, and very easily.

Often, sharpening software, especially ones that operate with one touch, have a tendency to over sharpen, which gives a harsh look. But Camera+ and its' clarify button work really well. The first photo is my original shot. (Well, it's not really my original, but it's the one I was happy with after a bit of digital manipulation). I pulled this shot from my time at Capitol Reef last fall.

To appreciate the full effect of these tools,
click each image to enlarge.

And here's the photo
after using the clarify tool in Camera+.
Not great for every shot,
but a really nice effect.
Camera+ costs just $.99.

The next ap is the one that really blew my skirt up. Everyone knows that in digital photography, you can remove items. This sounds really easy, but they rarely mention that it is a whole lot of work to remove artifacts. And remember, when you remove something, you have to put something back in its' place.

But now, along comes
TouchReTouch HD, which is also just $.99.

This ap is like magic, it really is.
Here's the original shot

Now, I loved the face on this mannequin, but what is all that going on over to the far right? Distracting, but I didn't originally bother to remove it. And I really didn't want to crop it out, so I just used the photo as it was.

But look what happened with TouchReTouch HD.

This literally took me about twenty seconds. With this little ap, you tap a paintbrush, then move your finger over what you want to remove, then hit the apply button. No cloning, no filling in, it just works.

I really like these two aps and wanted to share.
I'm loving my iPad.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Day Off

Since we can't take anything to the auction until Friday, and since we already have more than we can fit, and since the weather is so nice and since it's supposed to rain tomorrow and since we wanted to . . .

We took a nice long spring drive today.

Have you ever had one of those days when it was so beautiful outside, and you had your camera and you just knew you were taking the good pictures? That's the kind of day we had.

Except, when I got home, the pictures weren't quite what I expected. I had imagined I would have a terrible time picking from the 400+ shots, because the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the trees were green and the water was clear. And we saw a great horse. . .

So what could go wrong? It must have been user error. The pictures aren't horrible, I just thought I was getting some really super shots, but alas, they're pretty mediocre.

So I've decided to post just a few memory shots, so I can look back and remember what was a truly lovely day. My sweet man, me, the sun and freedom.

We started off at Quail Hollow Ranch, a beautiful piece of property in the Santa Cruz mountains. Once a working ranch, it's now a county park. Unfortunately, no camping is allowed, or we would probably go for a week or two.

The first thing to catch my eye
was a line of trees
that were the most amazing shade of red.

Then, for some reason,
the placement of these watering cans,
they just made me think of spring.

Hiking and horseback riding
is encouraged on the ranch.
We met Patches,
he's 35 years old.

He had the most gorgeous mane.

Next we decided to head
further up into the mountains.

Someday I'll figure out how to stop water.
Obviously that wasn't today.

Later we headed up to Loch Lomond,
a county reservoir.
The sky was so blue,
I was surprised that the camera
caught its' reflection in the water

The water was so incredibly clear,
I love how you can see the reflections
right through to the sandy bottom.

Finally, we stopped to see some old friends
and look what we found in their yard!
Standing about six feet tall,
it reminded us of New Mexico.

I'm hoping once we're done with the house I'll be able to spend a bit more time on my photography. I'd sure like to learn a bit more about this camera.

Still, I love using it, but think I would do much better if I actually knew what I was doing.