A Final Stroll Through My Garden

Posted in My Garden on December 25th, 2011 by MadDog
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I’ve been keeping a low public profile since I left Sedona on a snowy day in early December. After a couple of nights of layover time in Brisbane I arrived in rainy Madang and began to trudge through the seemingly endless list of tasks which will allow me to exit my home town of thirty years. I was planning to take some pictures of the inside of my house before I left, but I watited too long. It is now in a sorry state. I have to avert my eyes from the bare walls, empty shelves and vacant bookcases. It is not the home I once thought. I discovered late in life that home is not a place or a house. The old expression seems trite – home is where the heart is – but it is profoundly true.

My garden is still a cheery place. I’ve enjoyed several quiet walks there, accompanied by my trusty old Canon G10. I sold my G11 and its underwater housing. I was going to sell the G10 and housing also, but I think I’ll keep it. I seriously doubt if I’ll ever dive again, but it’s possible. The G10 will make a great camera for Grace. She wants something that will let her grow. It’s a perfect camera for an enthusiastic amateur. I can’t see much sense in letting it set on a shelf while spending the money on a new G12. For most shots the difference in the images is undetectable.

You won’t be able to tell much about cameras from these shots. They all have been heavily Photoshopped for “artistic” purposes. This hibiscus has been smoothed, despeckled, outlined, enlarged, shrunk, posterized and massaged in other ways until it bears little resemblance to a photograph:

And the spider in this shot has been stretched, sharpened and colorized within an inch of its life:

The colors in this shot are nothing like the original photo, but the grasshopper looks exactly as it does in my head:

I wanted a grasshopper which might take up residence behind the looking glass.

These jasmine flowers smell so sweet as to make the head spin. They affect me much the same as orange blossoms:

I remember driving once through an orange grove with Eunie and getting so light-headed from the intensity of the aroma that I had to ask her to drive.

This night-blooming jasmine has much the same effect on me. After nine in the evening stepping out my front door is a mind-bending experience:

Visceral experiences are common here in the belly of the tropics. Redundant as that might be linguistically, the metaphor holds true. I find the high desert austere in comparison. That is not a measure of value, but an observation upon which I need to reflect so that I may learn to appreciate it and discover its secrets. When I arrived in Madang I was a gawker. I could not appreciate it properly because I had so little knowledge. As I gain knowledge of my new environment I will come to love and appreciate it as much as I ever have loved and appreciated Madang.

Lush . . . the word which comes to mind so often. Bathed in perfume and perspiration – I’m enjoying being wet again – I stand in simple awe of the outrageous palette displayed by humble vegetation:

A little super-virgin olive oil with a dash of balsamic . . . voila! A tasty and festive salad. I wonder what coleus tastes like?

I am having little trouble bidding goodbye to most things in Madang. Friends are the hardest . . . Some things I won’t miss:  melting roads with potholes so deep that you have to turn your lights on, power outages that are timed by Satan himself, phones that work when you don’t need them . . . the list goes on. I’ll live without my boat. I can survive quite happily in the absence of the verdant landscape. Diving gave me decades of fun and learning, but I will find other pleasant pursuits. I think that when I look back over a few years to catalog the things I miss the few pages will be occupied with simple notations of things I thought of as uniquly mine. My smart, pretty dog, Sheba, my lovely house, my orchids in my garden:

The funny thing about this is that you can’t really own any of these things. The way things are going today I sometimes wonder if we can own anything. Maybe some of us are beginning to realize that is it just so much stuff. It’s not the actual stuff that is of value. The value lies in the feelings we get from thinking that we own it and it is ours. It’s my stuff. It’s your stuff.  It’s good stuff . . .

Ah, well, since it’s only the feelings and memories that get the endorphins flowing freely, juicing me up nicely and making me jingle like a pocket full of silver dollars, I’m going to develop a philosophy of Gratification by Means of Virtual Ownership.

I’m going to start with a virtual spin in my new virtual Corvette on the virtually smooth North Coast Road.

See you later . . .

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Back To My Garden

Posted in My Garden on September 24th, 2010 by MadDog
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It seems as if it has been a year since I last had a morning stroll in my garden. I’ll start by saying that I’m sad that I can’t manage to post every day. Part of the reason for this is that I simply have too much work to do. Insurance claims, learning to manage my personal finances (a strange new experience for me) and a hundred other time consuming duties call on me to spend an average of twelve hours a day at the computer or chasing down details.

However, the bigger problem is that I’m finding it difficult to extract much enjoyment from life. I know that this will pass as I get over the steep mountain of absolutely necessary busy work and can get a glimpse of the peaceful valley beyond.

Just outside my front door, there is a hibiscus bush with deep red flowers. It also sports freckled variegated leaves. Here is the blossom which greeted me this morning:

In the background at the right of the reproductive bits of the hibiscus flower you can see some blossoms of my night-blooming jasmine.

My friend Val Jerram has cautioned me against viewing every obstacle to happiness or seemingly onerous task as a problem.  She suggests instead that I see them as challenges.  I did not really understand this until I began to apply a long forgotten technique from the days when I was battling crippling depression. The trick is turning it around.  For instance, one of the obstacles to happiness is the seemingly insurmountable problem of learning to manage the rather complex personal and business finances about which I have been absolutely ignorant for more than three decades. Eunie was so good at managing all this and did it so effortlessly that it didn’t seem worth my attention. I am now paying for the luxury that I enjoyed for so long.

So, applying the technique of turning it around, I am trying to view the obstacle as an opportunity to take charge of my life again instead of rapidly drifting into a truly hopeless situation. Only a modest learning curve and entering a few hundred transactions into bookkeeping programs stands between me and the confidence that I so desperately need.

Around the corner from the front steps is another hibiscus bush with outrageously hues leaves:

What is that  all about?

Out by the little round garden with a candlestick tree in the middle are some small white hibiscus. Bees are usually swarming around these in the morning. Today they must have been sleeping late:

You can see some bees feeding on these blossoms here and here.

And, of course, no stroll through the garden would be complete without the orange lilies:

I need a holiday.


Put a Little Chili on My Bees and Grasshoppers, Please

Posted in My Garden on August 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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I got up late this morning. By the time I was outside with my Canon G9 in my garden the sun was blazing horizontally across the flora and fauna that make up our little private jungle.

I always check out my chilies each morning. They are a very small variety, only about two or three centimetres long. They are very sweet and not too hot, just right for chili chicken and several other dishes that require the flavour, but not too much heat – at least that’s the way I like it (uh-Huh, uh-Huh). This little chili was casting a brave shadow on the leaf of a Bird of Paradise plant:

A chili in the morning sun

One of my favourite posts on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi is an old short one about chilies. I’m not sure where my head was that morning, but I’d sure like to get back in that place.

Another popular denizen of my jungle is the Tickle Me Plant. Its leaves fold up and hide at the slightest touch, and its blossoms would please any high-school cheerleader into a giggle:

Tickle Me flower (Sensitive Plant)

They’re a bit small for pom-poms, being only about 2 cm high. The branches are thick with thorns too, so I have to watch where I’m stepping.

As I was walking around our central garden in the middle of the yard, I caught a grasshopper in the open on a leaf. As soon as he saw me, he ducked behind the leaf to hide from me. Little did he suspect that I an an old Cherokee stalker from way back. Little escapes my attention or the merciless eye of my camera. Whistling nonchalantly, I eased down on my bum and surreptitiously snaked my arm around behind some foliage to snap this shot:

Grasshopper "hiding" from me

The grasshopper is lit only by the light shining through the leaf. I don’t think that it ever noticed the camera. Sneakiness is a valuable attribute for a nature photographer.

Ah, yes, the bees, the bees – the main topic of today’s nonsense.

Well, as usual, as soon as the sun hits these strange little whitish hibiscus blooms they open up. The blossoms last for several days and close up tightly each night. When they open in the morning, the bees are there to greet them and go mining for nectar and pollen.

It’s devilishly difficult to shoot them. They buzz all around me as I sit there on the grass. I have about a half of a second to catch one entering a flower. Since the G9 has about a half-second lag between punching the shutter button and actually capturing the image, it is strictly a crap shoot whether you will get the bee or not. I took about fifty exposures this morning to get these three.

Here is a bee approaching the hibiscus flower which has just opened:

A bee approaching a hibiscus flower

This bee has landed and is on his way down to the pollen mine:

A bee mining nectar and pollen from a hibiscus flower

This one has collected all that was available and is leaving the flower:

A bee leaving a hibiscus flower

Though is was exasperating at moments, I had a lot of fun trying to get good shots of the bees feeding. You can clearly see the orange globs of pollen on their hind legs. The shots turned out considerably better than I had hoped.

All in all, a good time in the garden to put me in the right mind to tackle:

The domain name “PBTPNG” might be a NetBIOS domain name.  If this is the case, verify that the domain name is properly registered with WINS.
If you are certain that the name is not a NetBIOS domain name, then the following information can help you troubleshoot your DNS configuration.
The following error occurred when DNS was queried for the service location (SRV) resource record used to locate an Active Directory Domain Controller (AD DC) for domain “PBTPNG”:
The error was: “DNS name does not exist.”
(error code 0x0000232B RCODE_NAME_ERROR)
The query was for the SRV record for _ldap._tcp.dc._msdcs.PBTPNG
Common causes of this error include the following:
– The DNS SRV records required to locate a AD DC for the domain are not registered in DNS. These records are registered with a DNS server automatically when a AD DC is added to a domain. They are updated by the AD DC at set intervals. This computer is configured to use DNS servers with the following IP addresses:
– One or more of the following zones do not include delegation to its child zone:
. (the root zone)

Well, I know that something is awry with DNS on my two new Domain Controllers that I built. But what? I don’t want a lecture. I want a fix! Hopefully, something that I can actually understand well enough to accomplish.

Wish me luck. Anybody know where I can get a job digging ditches?

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Two Ravens

Posted in My Garden on April 13th, 2009 by MadDog
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Two Ravens . . .     One sits on a coconut frond. The other flies around the tree. It’s a simple image, just the kind I like.

Two Ravens

Most of my images contain more information than I prefer. Art, whether I’m writing or presenting images, speaks to me about freedom. I’m free to present whatever amuses me or whatever I wish to say. The reader is free to ignore it, interpret it, comment upon it, or copy it and change it into something else. (Have a look at the Creative Commons copyright notice in the footer.) The Two Ravens  shot, in a sense, transcends the subject of ravens and coconut trees. What would happen if I showed the image to one hundred people and said, “Tell me a little story about what you see.” Of course, I would probably get about one hundred different answers. Some of them would be mundane. Some would be revealing. Some would be transcendental.

This is what makes Two Ravens  more interesting to me rather than, for instance, the next image – a spider eating a bee:

Spider eating a bee

I suppose that it is probably amusing to nearly anyone except the bee, but it is not the same kind of image as Two Ravens.

Well, what about a grasshopper:

Same thing. Oh sure, it’s pretty, I suppose. But, it’s too specific. The story is too obvious. It is an image of a grasshopper on a budding flower. That’s about all you can say about it. It requires no interpretation.  Therefore, it is less interesting.

One could say the same thing about the bee hovering at the heart of a hibiscus flower, its hind legs fat with pollen:

Bee on a Hibiscus flower

Once you have described what is in the image, the story is over. There is no mystery, no enigma, no gestalt.  Just a bee and a flower. The bits and pieces don’t add up to more than their sum.

I’m a compulsive image maker. One might say that I am an Image-O-Matic. Something catches my eye – out pops the camera. What you don’t see, patient reader, are the thousands of images that are pure visual drivel.

I save those for when I have time to make them more interesting.

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A Little Garden Magic

Posted in My Garden on March 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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My garden was a pleasant place this morning. the light was subdued. This pumpkin flower, as big as my hand, stood out as brightly as the sun:

Pumpkin Flower

It rained just before dawn – not unusual this time of year – and this reproductive gear of a hibiscus flower was dripping wet:

Hibiscus reproductive gear
I have a compulsion to take photos of water droplets. On this Pandanus leaf, you can see the reflection of my camera in the larger drops on the left:

Water Drops on Pandanus leaf

These checker board winged flies are crazy about these yellow flowers:

Checkerboard wing flies on a yellow flower

Flies and bees are always interesting subjects – if you can get them to hold still.

A daisy bud just broke open this morning. It looks strangely like something fancy that you might find on your plate in a very expensive restaurant. In the unfocused background, you can see how the blossom will look when it unfurls:

Daisy bud

Other gardens entice me. Nevertheless, though my garden is so small, I’m always amazed that every day that I explore it I find something new.

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Back to the Garden

Posted in My Garden on February 14th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m experimenting doing a post from my house this morning. It’s Saturday, so I have some time to spare before we go diving.

We now have a VSAT at our office. I’ve set up one of our servers with a modem on it so that I can dial into my office to get on the internet. I only get 33.6KBS, but it’s rock-solid. So, for K0.30 I can connect for as long as I please.

Also, I’ve tried combing several photos into a ZIP file to upload to a gallery. It work nicely. I can ZIP them and then walk away while I load the boat.

Here are some shots that I took in My Garden this morning:

The grasshopper shot has a bit of motion blur – I nearly deleted it. I was shooting stopped down to F8, so the shutter speed was a little slow, even for the anti-shake thingie.

I’ve been trying to grow a willow tree in the garden for about three years now. It’s just starting to take off.


Down the Garden Path

Posted in My Garden on January 15th, 2009 by MadDog
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When the Muse is attending someone else, I venture into my garden in the morning, camera in hand. There has never been a day that the verdant path has failed to provide inspiration and to present challenges to create images that please me. All it takes is a camera and desire.

I was blasted this morning by this stunning crimson hibiscus blossom at the absolute peak of its short life:

Mind-blowing hibiscus

If you’ve been hanging around Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  for a while, you know that I have an unnatural fixation on water droplets. It’s like a dream – don’t bother trying to interpret it. It probably doesn’t mean a thing. This morning I found a couple of fine examples:

Tiny water drops playing like lenses

Many of these tiny beads of Dihydrogen Monoxide* are play-acting as lenses to focus itsy-bitsy images of the morning sun on the leaf.

The drops on this pandanus leaf are more sombre and dignified, as is appropriate for their pinstriped businesslike background:

Water drops on a pandanus leaf

You’ve probably also noticed that bugs of any variety amuse me. This little fly distracted me from matters that are more important (but far less interesting) for possibly ten minutes. Any respite is welcome.

He was devilishly difficult to photograph. As soon as I would get close enough, he would buzz to a nearby leaf – not far enough away to discourage me – and the sit perfectly still until I approached again. Finally, he seemed to tire of the game and settled long enough for me to compose this image:

Handsome little green fly

It was worth the effort. As bugs go, he’s rather handsome, if a bit spindly around the legs. Did you know that Pierce Brosnan has chicken legs? Years ago when he was shooting Robinson Crusoe in Madang, he was staying with his son at the Madang Resort Hotel. Eunie does aquarobics at the pool there three mornings a week. She noticed him at the pool several times. She said he was very friendly and courteous, but his legs were painfully skinny.

By the way, you may never have heard that Brosnan did Robinson Crusoe.  That would not surprise me. It was horrid. I saw it in English and couldn’t get through it. Someone gave me a copy dubbed in German. It was better – I understand very little German.

This next image is interesting because of the lighting. The camera is pointing towards the sun, so the flower is lit from the opposite side. You are actually seeing the transparency of the petals. The spider is on the near side, but he is also semi-transparent. The combination creates a very interesting image:

An unusual lighting situation creates an x-ray of a spider

I find traipsing around with my camera in my hand, searching intently for amusing images, a pleasant and productive way to take my mind off of my worries. Sometimes I think people spend far too much time worrying about things over which they have no control. I know that I certainly used to do so.

I like to remember that every time I click the button on my camera that I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to create something beautiful that nobody else has ever done before. That’s why I carry my camera with me at all times. I don’t want to miss those chances.

Of course, 99% of the images will be mundane. But, when the magic caresses your lens, you’ve done something unique and truly worth your time.

* Yes, of course, it’s just water. The many attempts to bring to attention the public ignorance of basic science have been amusing, but futile.