Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cataract Surgery: It's REALLY BRIGHT out there!

I had no idea I had cataracts until about 2 years ago when my optometrist informed me that they were starting to show up. Since, for most people, cataracts grow slowly, he told me I'd have nothing to worry about for several years. However, I am not most people, and mine responded like Creeping Buttercup on MiracleGro. My surgeries were done in July.

Let me say again that I hadn't a clue that my eyesight was impaired more than needing distance glasses and reading glasses . . . and computer glasses (that also doubled as my "cooking glasses" for chopping and measuring, etc.). But after the first surgery (on the particularly bad left eye), trite or not, a whole new world opened up! My eyes became a kind of toy: I'd go around covering up one eye and then switching. The difference was stunning! My "new" left eye beheld a bright--almost too bright--world with whites whiter than I remembered. Colors popped, especially pinks, reds, and blues. When I changed and looked through my right eye alone it was as if a dull, brownish haze had settled over everything. I walked around shifting hands and eyes and laughing like some sort of demented eye-chart patient.

For this blog, I'd wanted to find images for before-and-after examples of my pre- and post-surgical light and color vision, but that wasn't really possible. Although I shoot a lot of my macro pictures in manual, I still rely on at least some exposure information from my camera. And later, when I did post-processing in Lightroom, the Histogram (a graph display of brightness levels) kept me from blowing out (over-exposing and washing out) the whites when I tried to increase the exposure of images that looked awfully dark to me. As for color, I guess I mostly just accepted what I saw.


What I've done here is use images I took between the two surgeries (yes, I had to go back and forth between my eyes) to attempt to give you an idea of the change. A little extreme, maybe, but not too terribly far off the mark.

As mentioned above, blues and reds, pinks and purples all popped. Greens didn't change that much. But everything was brighter, MUCH brighter.

While I am ecstatic about the almost psychedelic world I'm now seeing (I really do walk around saying "oh wow, like wow"), I'd opted for vision correction in addition to cataract removal. So one less pair of glasses is one or two more procedures away, and, right now, none of my glasses work. The world is bright, colorful, but not as clear as it will be.  
Something more to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winter Flowering: Pink Dawn Viburnum

My three Pink Dawn Viburnums (Viburnum x bodnantense 'Pink Dawn') started to bud on December 24, 2013, but didn't get around to letting a flower peak through until mid-February. 

I figured I'd write a blog about them as soon as I had a range of photos, but what to write? I researched (Googled and went through all my books) trying to find something odd or interesting or, at least, oddly interesting, but no luck. 

  Early to flower, light fragrance, zones 5-7, 8 or 9--depending on the source--nice fall color, cross between V. farreri and V. grandiflorum, etc. Fine, all fine, but why post photos and info when the info was everywhere? This isn't what I wanted my blog to be.

As I was doing the dishes today, I realized what I could say (this sort of thing always seems to happen when I'm washing the dishes or in the shower. Something about water? Difficulty in holding a pen and dousing a notepad suggests inspiration?) And what I could say is the following:

I love to walk into mature gardens filled with open flowers. All those shapes and all that color is just one enormous, loud "Hi there!" All those "faces" are like friends of-the-moment, made at an especially fun party. The kind of effortless, immediate camaraderie that feels like an unexpected gift.
Yeah.  Well.  I love those moments, I do.  But there's something in me--as mostly a Macro photographer--that needs to plan, work ( and suffer ) for longer, perhaps deeper relationships.  I like to take time, get as close as possible to individual plants, destroy my knees, and photograph that conversation.

 So these photos, taken from early bud to last sagging flowers, reflect my relationship with my Pink Dawns over these last few months. 

The buds, with all their fuzzy bits and pink bits and green bits, intrigued and excited me at first.  It was hard to tell what would unfold where.  But the weeks went on and on and my impatience and frustration grew.  Would they never open?  Would they just dry up and just fall off in the cold?

Then one morning in February when I walked out into the garden for a bud-check, the fuzzy bits had peeled back and the pink bits had pushed out and open.  Just a few, but enough to give me hope (and a few shots).

However, not longer after, we got slammed by 18 inches of snow (see my March 3rd post for what that looked like).  I couldn't even locate the plants much less the fragile blooms.

But when the snow finally melted and the sun came back, the flowers quickly multiplied, with the wind rarely letting them hold still long enough for decent shots! 


When the little trumpet blooms were so much paler than the buds it all seemed pointless, until they multiplied and scented the air (if you stuck your nose right into them--easy enough to do when you're on your knees, inches from them). And lastly--at this point--all the buds opened to a sigh and a sag. All that effort. Surely it was worth it.
But don't get me wrong. In the right mood, I can definitely enjoy a big, crazy party with lots of superficial relationships!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Snow Days

Eighteen inches.  It snowed eighteen inches in one day.  Now some of you are rolling your eyes and laughing at this.  Some of you see eighteen inches of snow in two hours.  Some of you only see snow when you watch the Winter Olympics (and why are YOU watching winter sports you’d never participate in since you are without anything deserving the name "winter"?  Yes, this former Californian has become a winter-snob).  However, SOME of us aren’t used to eighteen inches of snow in one day.

Nor are we accustomed to having the ground so saturated and the temperature so consistently below freezing that our gardens are hidden from view, and our snow-heavy trees are bent so far over they look ironically like arbors at Santa’s Village.

 I turn around just in time to see the Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars menace our house with their white bulk.  They fill the air with groans and sudden cracks as another limb breaks from the trunk and crashes to the ground.

But when it just barely started to warm up, when the sun burned through the iron-grey skies for just a few hours, something lovely happened.  First, a few large mounds of snow slid off a branch of one of our towering trees and crashed to the ground with sparks of snow-bits leaping into the air.  Then another.  And then another.  They had held on through the snow-weight and cold.  Now, the newly released branches sprang back up into place, animating the frozen forest. So magical.  Then so many that it seemed like arboreal slapstick.  Alas, no photos.  Too busy watching and laughing.

 Then the ice in the pond began to break up and recede, and a few ducks attempted a swim.  Soon, I think, it might be spring.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sheeple and Their People

"Sheeple" is how our good friends, Yvonne and Doug, refer to their resident flock. They have personalities, moods, rather expressive faces. And, when they vocalize, they are amazingly loud. Who knew? 
Not long after lambing, 2012

When I was a child, I'd dreamed of roaming green hillsides, frolicking with goats and lambs. But Los Angeles didn't offer any such landscape. It was the stuff of story-books.

So was winter. But here I am in my Muck Boots and thick jacket against the chill in the barn at their Spinners Eden Farm ( ), watching Doug shear some very pregnant ewes and Yvonne pick through the fleece. She's a spinner/weaver/knitter, and, at first, they'd planned to raise a "spinner's flock" with a few angora goats, alpacas, and sheep for Yvonne's own personal use.  She found that she especially loved spinning wool from CVM (California Variegated Mutant) /Romeldale sheep ( ), so that's the breed they raise.  

She writes, " Then friends started asking about buying fleece.  I didn't think I'd ever have that much.  We had our first lambs, Adonis, Bacchus, & Athena.  The next year, we cross bred the two rams with the ewes, bought two more champion blacks & a white at Black Sheep Gathering. . . so our flock grew from four sheep to seven, to ten, to . . . 38 right now."  

  The wool makes them look twice as big as they are, even the pregnant ones!


 Bliss, below, clearly would have preferred some other activity, but she remained pretty calm with the process.



To the left, poor Holly looks like she exploded!

Raising sheep was not their first profession.  I asked Doug, an Ob/Gyn, if he'd ever imagined himself doing this; he just laughed and shook his head, before answering "No." But he's as passionate about these lovely, funny creatures as he is about medicine.  Just ask him what he learns from living with them; but pull up a chair and plan to stay awhile.