Monday, January 29, 2007


A trip to La Conner, WA

Last Saturday the weather was too good to just stay home and we were ready for an outing in the sunshine. We drove the Miata to the quaint waterfront town of La Conner, on the Swinomish Slough about 13 miles from Mt. Vernon, for lunch and a little browsing through some of the shops along the waterfront. We ate at Seeds, a restaurant located in the old building that housed the first large seed business in Skagit County from 1890 until 2003. Food and service were good.

Then over to the waterfront where we were lucky enough to find parking in the lot just outside the Good Kitty, Bad Kitty store.
LaConner 04
This is a store that will appeal to any person who fancies cats. Patti bought some of their super strong cat nip, I bought her a T-shirt that maybe I can get her to model before long and post a photo of here. This photo shows the entrance from the lot where we were parked into the store.

After shopping there we moved along the waterfront to a small grocery store that also includes a cafe, where we were able to order our daily mochas. They do make a good mocha there and when we go back I think we will plan to have lunch there, too. The menu is similar to that at Seeds but the prices are a little lower. We were able to sit inside but with windows looking out onto the Slough with the boats moving by and I decided I wanted some photos after the coffees. I did not take the Nikon D200 as I was still reading about it but did have the little Sony in my jacket pocket, so that is what these were taken with.

LaConner 01
This view is looking north and I leaned out over the railing in order to take the photo without the railing showing up. Unfortunately I didn't hold the camera level so had to use Photoshop to rotate the image about 15 degrees to the right in order to level the horizon line. When I cropped it I ended up with white border areas from outside the image area at the top left that required a bit of work with the Clone stamp to paint back in part of the sky and the upper part of a piling, but I think it came out pretty well.

LaConner 02
The next view looks south into the sun. The orange bridge that spans from the mainland to the other side of the Slough is above the water in the background. The next pier south shows up as does some of the private boats moored along the waterfront. The Puget Sound area is often refered to as the boating capital of the country as the ratio of boats to people has always been the highest in the nation.

LaConner 03
The gangway to the boat float that is near the Good Kitty, Bad Kitty store has a rather whimsical salmon made of stainless steel wire above it. This photo is a bit hard to see the shape of the fish but with a little imagination I think you will be able to visualize it. There were no boats at this float and I kind of wonder if it is a public float for visiting boaters to use.

Our whole trip was only about four hours long but it was a welcome outing. But don't let the sunshine fool you. The breeze that was blowing from the north was still a bit cool. Summer is not here yet.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


She said, "Yes!!!!!"

Engagement ring 01

I asked and she said, "Yes." Here is her new ring. We have not set a date yet but that will come in the future. Our lives have sure changed and so much for the better!

By the way, the new camera did come yesterday and I am still reading the owner's manual.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


A tour of the new cancer care center

Mount Vernon has a new cancer care center that is now open and they had a tour of the facility last Saturday. Patti & I toured the place along with her daughter, C. It is a wonderful facility but I hope no one I know has to make use of the place. I took a few photos but it was so crowded with people there isn't much to see. Also I could not use a tripod so the exposures were on the slow side and the sharpness isn't what I would prefer to have.

Cancer care tour 00
This is kind of a general view of one of the hallways. The gentleman speaking to us is one of the accupuncture doctors. They are there to help with comfort for the patients. Patient comfort seems to be an area this place really works hard to keep up.

The two main things in treating cancer seem to be with chemicals and with radiation. The infusion area was very crowded so nothing could really be seen in a photo but I was able to take a couple of photos in the radiation area. In addition to having medical doctors on staff, the facility has a PhD phyisist on staff to monitor and manage these machines. And there is a lot of thickness, up to four feet, built in around them to contain the radiation.

Cancer care tour 01
This is one of the two linear accelerators, that produce the radiation. It is a pretty complicated process to locate the exact position of the target, then program the machine and give the radiation dose. Patients are scheduled fifteen minutes apart and most of the time is spent setting up the machine. The actual delivery of the radiation only takes a fraction of a second.

Cancer care tour 02
This is a better view of the machine, with one of the doctors explaining it on the left side of the photo. The white mesh thing on the patient table is portable and is a device to hold the body stationary. It is critical that there be no movement once the machine has been programed or the radiation may be delivered to the wrong place. It is amazing how much control they have over where it is delivered.

Cancer care tour 03
This is the CAT scan machine. It is used to precisely locate the cancer for the linear accelerators to target and deliver the radiation. In the past our hospital has had to rent trailers for this equipment and actually move patients a short distance outside to get them to the machine. Now it is all inside. They also have a PET scan machine. I didn't look at it but can't help but wonder if it is where the Veterinarians take their four legged patients?

Sunday afternoon Patti and I took a drive in the country, getting off the freeways. It was interesting to see how many trees have been blown down over the winter by the storms we have had. There has been so much rain that pretty much all of the pastures or anyplace where there is a fairly large, level area has standing water. We really need a dry period for the ground to soak up all that water. Right now it has no place to go since it is saturated. The forecast for the next few days sounds good. I hope it will be enough to do some good.

My new camera didn't come yesterday but I am sure it will arrive later today. I'm looking forward to trying it out and want to see how that lens does. Patti is working today at her volunteer job at the hospital, then we will meet for lunch and have a stop or two to make before I'll get back home. More later.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 21, 2007


My new camera is on it's way!

After quite a bit of looking around I finally went ahead and ordered the new camera. That Nikor 18 - 200mm DX VR lens is almost impossible to get by itself. I did find one place that might have had one to sell but they were asking $1200 for it! I guess Nikon is selling almost all they can (or choose to) make on the D2 and D200 cameras. I found the D200 with that lens at B&H Photo in New York for $2250. They offered a Tiffen UV filter at a good price and I don't have any that are large enough (72mm) to cover that lens, so I added the filter. I know that store has a good reputation so I was comfortable buying through them. I did pay a bit extra for UPS 2-day shipping so hope it will arrive Monday. If not it will be for sure on Tuesday. I thought about getting a D80 camera but am not sure I could get it with that lens and I would have to replace all of my memory cards. The D70 and D200 use Compact Flash (CF) cards while the D80 uses the Secure Digital (SD) size. There is a difference of a few hundred dollars in the camera price but it would cost more than that to replace the dozen or so CF cards I have with SD cards.

We are back to our more normal winter weather pattern of rain but it is warmer than it had been. The temperature today is supposed to be around 50F with over night lows close to 40. There will probably also be some rain although yesterday was beautiful and rain has not started yet so far today. It is not like winter was while I was in Arizona but I did get an email note from friends who are in Yuma and there was one night last week when it got down to 33 there and they said it had been something like 17 the week before in Indio, CA while they were there. Indio is next door to Palm Springs, in the desert east of LA.

Patti and I have kept busy. Yesterday we went to an open house at the new cancer treatment center at our local hospital and I have a couple of photos that I may post when I get the chance to get them ready. We are driving her diesel powered VW a bit more than in the past as the price for diesel fuel seems to be going down. It is about as low as the price for regular gasoline at one local source, at $2.429/gallon. My Saturn is scheduled to go into the shop to have it's rear brakes serviced next week. I have been leaving the Miata parked under cover most of the time but if the weather really does improve it might well be time to get it out and use it more. I probably won't take the top down yet, though. I may sell my little scooter to help pay for the new camera and since I am not using it very much. I have owned it over a year and a half and only put about 300 miles on it. I tend to drive the Miata more when the weather is good and the scooter is only a one person vehicle. Patti doesn't ride bicycles so isn't likely going to try a powered scooter. Anyone close to Mt. Vernon who might be interested in a very low mileage Honda gas miser?

I hope the new camera will arrive early in the week, so I should have some news to post by about mid-week. I will try to do better than once a week in the future but I sure seem to be keeping busy with other things. And I still have a lot more house cleaning out to do.

Edit: I was off on the price of the diesel fuel I listed above. It should have been $2.599/gallon, not $2.429. Either is better than it has been as our price in this area has regularly been closer to $3 for quite awhile.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Another busy week, with SNOW!

Our area doesn't get snow very often but this winter we have now gotten it twice. Just after Thanksgiving we had about ten inches of the stuff and this past week, starting Tuesday afternoon, we ended up with something like three inches. But this time the weather turned cold and has stayed that way, with daytime temps barely getting to freezing level. That melts the surface so it can freeze to ice at night when it drops below freezing again. I am ready for it to leave and normal temps to return. But, I don't seem to get to vote on that.

Pat and I had tickets to go to a magician show last Thursday night but we decided to play it safe and stay home rather than going out on the icy roads. So we went to the clubhouse and joined the Mexican Train game. This time I won with the low score and Pat won the booby prize for having the highest score. We each ante up a dollar to start the game. She got her dollar back while I got all the other six dollars.

Son B came up this weekend with his two kids, J & K. I had forgotten how busy it can be to have a 13 and almost 10 year old around! Fun, but there is a high activity level. They just left about ten minutes ago and I probably won't see them for a few weeks as B is going on a cruise for a fairly short trip with his navy ship this next week.

I ordered a couple of books from about Photoshop Elements version 5 on Friday, along with a unit to make a tent around smallish items and have a smooth, continuous background with even lighting. It will be perfect to use to photograph things to sell on eBay. I guess I will try doing that again to see what will happen with some of Annie's Wizard of Oz collection as well as other things. I had some fun a couple of years ago selling a few things there and while I didn't make a lot of money, it more than paid it's costs.

I am also leaning toward buying another lens and perhaps another camera. Nikon has a beautiful 18 - 200mm vibration reduced zoom lens that is designed for use on digital SLR cameras. It sells for around $700 which is quite a bargain for a VR lens. But, I can get it along with a D200 camera for just over two thousand dollars and normally that camera body is about $1750 by itself. So that would be only about $300 for the lens and it will work on both the D200 and the D70s that I have now. I probably should wait until I figure my income taxes first but it might be a good move in the near future. Maybe.

I sure have found a wonderful woman in Patti. We seem to be just right for each other in so many ways. I am really looking forward to the future and spending it with her.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 08, 2007


A New Year & more Elvis photos

I have had a very busy week since my last post. Last Saturday Pat & I attended another of Danny Vernon's Tribute to Elvis shows, again at the Northern Lights Casino in Anacortes, WA. This time there was a live band backing him up AND they allowed photos to be taken! I had written to him asking about that and he said he has no rule that photos can't be taken so we don't know where that idea came from on the last show. Anyway, this one was a lot better than the last and in good measure due to having a live band backing up his singing. He again had the Double Trouble dancers but also added a young lady who is fantastic with Hula-hoops. I took about 140 photos and eliminated 25 due to lack of sharpness. Enough talking about it, here are some photos:

Elvis 2-01
This is Danny in his "early Elvis" period. His show portrays the three eras of Elvis, the early, middle and late years. I used the 50mm lens I bought last fall on my Nikon D70s digital SLR camera and it is a lot better in that the lens speed is much faster than any of my others. On my camera it is the equivalent of a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera and I upped the ISO of the sensor to 400 which still gives very high quality images but is another f-stop faster than the 200 I normally use.

Elvis 2-02
Here is Danny with the two girls known as Double Trouble. They danced to more of his songs tonight than they did in the earlier shows and they are very good.

Elvis 2-03
Do you remember the Hula-hoop? This is Jamie dancing and Hula-hooping to Danny singing the song about a "ring around your neck." This young lady is fantastic with Hula-hoops. Yes, that is plural. See the next photo:

Elvis 2-03a
Here is Jamie with two of them going at once. I can't even do one!

Elvis 2-04
Danny and Jamie together in one photo. Yes, that hoop is spinning around her forearm.

Elvis 2-05
Danny is in his "middle years" period with this outfit. It looks good but is kind of hard to get good photographs of since it is black leather.

Elvis 2-06
Here are the Double Trouble girls again. Do you remember these outfits from my last photos that were taken in late August at one of his shows?

Elvis 2-07
Jamie again, this time with a hoop that has lights built into it. This was fun to photograph as the lights were turned down a bit more than they were for most of the show so the lights in the hoop would show up better. This young lady is sure amazing with what she can do with those things!

Elvis 2-08
Danny came out for one song in this white suit, between his middle and late years.

Elvis 2-09
A closer view of Danny and one of the Double Trouble girls.

Elvis 2-010
This is the wrap-up number for the show. We really enjoyed it this time and look forward to going to his special show there on Valentine's Day. If we can get tickets. They are not available yet and usually sell out very quickly when they are available. Danny is a pretty versitile singer who has some albums of his own work out as well as doing Elvis songs. One of his own albums is a country western one and Pat's daughter, C, is a country fan. We had gotten that album for her for a Christmas gift and she wanted to go see him in person. She went with us to this show and is now quite a fan of his, as we are.

My photos that are posted here are hosted on the flickr site. If you click on one of them you will be taken to my site on flickr. When there, click on the area where it says you can go to my photo stream and you will be able to see all of the photos I have uploaded to that site. You can also download them in sizes up to 800 by whatever dimension they come out to. Click on "All Sizes" and then download it. One young lady told me that she had used one of my photos for wallpaper on her computer. Comments can also be left there on individual photos.

Labels: , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?