Archive for January, 2009

Frosty, foggy weather

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The weather has improved a bit lately. Instead of freezing nights and days, when the roads need gritting, and extra time has to be allowed in the morning to scrape the ice off the windscreen, we’ve been having slightly warmer and even rainy days. There’s been a promise of spring in the air. I’ve seen some snowdrops, and I’ve heard birds singing. But people keep telling me that it’s going to get colder again. Apparently forecasters are saying that the cold frosty, icy weather is coming back, and there might even be some snow. I haven’t heard those forecasts myself, but I have been told about them by several people. I’ve only managed to take a few snow photos so far this year, because we’ve only had one quick flurry. So I need to look out for any more snowfall so that I can get dressed up in some nice warm clothes and go out and take some beautiful snowy photos. Or will I decide to stay in the warm instead?
Here’s a nice frosty, foggy photo.

Frost and fog

ISS

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I love watching the International Space Station pass overhead. It’s in a low earth orbit, so it can easily be seen with the naked eye. I love the way it glides serenely across the sky, and it fascinates me to know that there are people living and working on it.

There are several web sites that list it’s visible passes, and it turns up on the dot as predicted. Sometimes it’s not visible at all, but at other times it’s visible once or twice a day, as long as the sky is clear and not cloudy of course. We can only see it when the sun is in the right position for it’s light to be reflected from the ISS, and that’s in the early morning or just after dark.

It only takes an hour and a half for the space station to go all the way round the earth, so I can watch it go over, go into the house and cook a meal or watch a TV programme, and then go out and watch it again and in that time it’s been all the way round the world. Isn’t that amazing! It travels at an average speed of 27,700 kilometres (17,210 miles) per hour, at an approximate altitude of 350 kilometres with 15.7 orbits per day.

The two American astronauts on board were able to watch part of President Obama’s inauguration last week. They weren’t able to see all of the broadcast live, because as the ISS was orbiting the earth at high speed, the signal only arrived intermittently.
See here if you would like to see more information about the International Space Station including who is on it at the moment.

Congratulations Mr President

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

These photos are shots of the TV as Barack Obama is being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. It was a very moving ceremony. As George W Bush arrived, he was still President so the band played ‘Hail To the Chief’ for him for the last time. After Chief Justice John Roberts had officiated over his first inauguration by swearing in President-elect Obama, he said ‘Congratulations Mr President’ and the band started playing ‘Hail to the Chief’ for the first time for the new President.

There’s a lot of hope

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

The mood in the USA is full of excitement and hope with the inauguration today of the first African American to become President. When I listen to Barack Obama’s speeches, he reminds me of both John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He’s a great orator and uses words to paint powerful visual images, just like MLK did. Obama is calling on all Americans, regardless of their racial origins or any other minority group they are part of, to unite and work together with him to make their country a truly United States of America. After so many years of ‘political correctness’ that has gone way over the top causing damage to communities and society, it’s so good to hear a world leader encourage everyone to work together as one group with the same aims and goals. He is asking all Americans, including young people, to volunteer and get involved in helping others. Yesterday he led the way. On his last day as president-elect he first went to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit patients who had been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then he went to the Sasha Bruce House, a homeless shelter for teens, where he joined other volunteers to do some painting. He joked with the press, ?This is good practice ?cause I?m moving to a new house tomorrow.? Quoting Martin Luther King, Obama said ?Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.?
It’s 48 years ago now since JFK gave his own inaugural speech in January 1961. I wonder if Obama will remind of this phrase from that speech in his own inaugural address.

“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” JFK Jan 1961

Congratulations Mr President

Making and repeating history

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Barack Obama has arrived in Washington ready for his inauguration as America’s 44th President on Tuesday. He travelled to Washington by train, repeating part of the same train ride that Abraham Lincoln took on his way to become president in 1861. Obama’s journey started in Philadelphia where he gave a speech to supporters. This is part of it:-
“We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington. This is fitting because it was here, in this city, that our American journey began. It was here that a group of farmers and lawyers, merchants and soldiers, gathered to declare their independence and lay claim to a destiny that they were being denied. We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast. An economy that is faltering. Two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely. A planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives.”

So he’s repeated history with his train ride, and on Tuesday he will make history while the world watches.

Giving a talk

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

I’ve been asked to give a talk on my handcrafted card making. It isn’t for a while yet, but I’ve never done anything like that before, so I’m going to have to do some thinking and some preparation. I want to demonstrate various methods and media that I use and show a selection of styles and ideas that are possible. I’ll have to take photos of the different stages so that I can show them on the computer screen as I’m talking about them. I would have preferred to use a digital projector, but it’s a small group and they don’t have one. The meeting is in a fairly small room, so the computer screen should be big enough. Once I’ve got the preparation done and the slide show ready, I’ll practise on my friend to test it out and give me confidence. I’ve got 45 minutes to fill which is quite a long time, so I’ll finish with a slide show of some of my photos that use to make cards. See the post Being Creative to see examples of my cards.

Going dizzy!

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

My Flickr friends say that they’re going dizzy looking at the latest post on my photostream! Iv’e been playing with special effects in my photo editor, and I found an effect called ’swirl’ so I experimented with it, trying different photos and making some more swirly than others. The final result depends a lot on what sort of image you start with. At first I was using ones that didn’t have enough colours or shades in them so the swirl ended up being all one colour. I realised that I needed to start with photos with some contrast in them. So it’s been a matter of trial and error. This one is my favourite. Mind it doesn’t make you dizzy!

Raspberry Swirl

Catching up

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I’ve missed posting for a few days. That’s because I haven’t been feeling very well. I’ve been aching all over with a cold and a sore throat and hurting glands. I think I’m a bit better today, but not regained my strength or cheerfulness yet. Life can be a struggle at the best of times, but when you’re not feeling well it’s like having to climb up a huge hill. Even preparing food can be too much of a challenge, and that’s not good if you’re ill anyway and need to eat to get enough strength to get better.
The predicted mild week disintegrated after two days and we returned to fog and frost. I can see a little bit of sunshine today, so maybe spring won’t be too far away. It would be good to see the earth begin to burst into new life bringing hope with it.

Wild night

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The weather was really wild last night! The wind was howling and blowing and banging things, and the rain was pounding on the windows. I thought it would keep me awake when I went to bed, but it didn’t. It was still raging when I woke up, but it had calmed down by the time I went downstairs for breakfast.
The weather man on the local radio said that the cold front has moved on and taken the cold weather of the last couple of weeks with it. The temperature was around 3 degrees today, instead of -3 degrees during the day, and -7 during the night last week. Today, instead of everyone saying ‘isn’t it cold’ as they have been, they were saying ‘isn’t it mild’. It’s good to have a break from the really cold weather, because for a few days last week, I just couldn’t get warm. Now I’m fine. With the end of the cold, there’s no more being late because I’ve forgotten to allow an extra 10 minutes to scrape the ice off the windscreen, but there’s also no more beautiful frosty trees and fences and leaves. When I went out a couple of days ago, there was a thick frost on the ground, a clear sky and a nearly full Moon. It was so beautiful! The silver blue light of the Moon shone and sparkled on the frost making it look like diamonds. It was gorgeous. I’m not sorry that the cold has gone, but I’m glad I saw the beautiful frost and snow while it was here.

My fastest photo yet!

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I love using the photo sharing website Flickr. I can enjoy other people’s photos from all around the world, and it’s good to have people comment on my photos. It’s nice to find that there are people who like my work and enjoy my style of photography. I added the latest photo to my photostream yesterday, and for the first time ever, it hit 100+ views in under 24 hours! It’s a photo of a purple clematis, a beautiful flower in my favourite colour! I thought my photostream had got a bit wintery looking so I decided to give a shot of summer colour. Here it is for you to see. If you click on it, you’ll go straight to my Flickr photostream.

Purple clematis