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Block Island: 2017

June 10, 2017

This year we are only staying two weeks on Block Island. We’re hoping to spend our other two weeks of vacation time in Hawaii. Some retired people make personal rules for vacations:-)

The changes for this year involved a new tricycle for me and a new car for the family. Why? I wanted a car that would use less gas to replace our van. But our van could carry two tricycles, two bike trailers, and assorted luggage to the Block Island ferry. A smaller car would be difficult to pack.  My tricycle was over 15 years old, and unlike Tim’s trike, didn’t fold. One solution was for me to buy a tricycle that would. My new trike is a TerraTrike Traveler.  I purchased it from the Bicycle Man in Alfred Station, NY. I was a little sad to say goodbye to my Organic Engines Triclops, but it was time to move on. Our 2007 Toyota Sienna has been replaced by a 2014 Honda CRV.

We waited until two days before leaving for Block Island to see if we could avoid using the roof of the new car. Tim and I folded my new trike. Tim folded his trike, and along with the trailers, he fit it all in the new car.

With a little space left for luggage, we were set to go.

Saturday May 27, we drove to The Lighthouse Inn across from the Block Island Ferry.  The plan was to be ready for the early boat. We hadn’t ridden a tandem trike from home to get here. We had driven a car. What could go wrong? Maybe a couple of things.

One of us had forgotten to bring bike shoes. The other had ignored a very small car tire leak before leaving. Sunday morning we were looking for a bike shop and a tire repair shop open on Memorial Day Weekend. Thankfully we found what we needed.

Stedman’s Bicycle Shop in Wakefield and Monro Muffler Brake in Warwick came to the rescue. We’re grateful to both shops for helping us meet a later ferry to Block Island.

My old job on bike trips was to document repairs and other challenges. This time I became part of the work crew—an apprentice with a folding trike. I couldn’t take pictures and work at the same time. Instead, when we unpacked, I set up the iPhone on a tripod and used the camera’s time lapse to record the unpacking process. Here is a link to the result:-)

Our stay has included visits with Sheila Schneider, who owns the house we rent, and my friend Louise Clarke, who lives in Providence. It was good to see them both again.

Tim’s Block Island joy is riding as fast as he can around the island on any day with good weather. He also plays the Shakuhachi flute and reads.

Mine is looking for the next set of pictures that might make a portfolio. Last year I borrowed plants for studio work on the living room floor. This year I wanted to be outside. Outside weather was pleasant (most days) but also breezy. Breezy isn’t so good for taking focus stacked pictures of plants, because the subject won’t stand still. I continued looking, investigating favorite beaches on the west side of the island for subjects.

After a few days (some involving rain and inside fretting:-) I settled on West Beach, the site of a former dump which is becoming exposed as the bluffs slowly wash away. 

Driftwood and rusted machinery stand still in the breeze. I returned several times to West Beach and to a couple of other places, seeing what I could do with my chosen subjects.

If you click on any image, you can start a slide show.

I welcome comments.

Alas, it’s almost time to leave. We’ve enjoyed our stay and plan to return next May.

Until next time…

Hawaii: Final Days

March 3, 2017

I slowed down a bit for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I worked on the blog, toured sites close to Hilo, and  took walks near the hotel.

Opi, who visits where she is welcome, helped me with the blog.  On one of my walks I found a flower I wanted to photograph but didn’t. An iPhone snap may remind me for another time.

Another picture of Cana indica growing across the street from our hotel, The Dolphin Bay Hotel.


Thursday, March 2

Ray and Nada Carruthers took us on an adventure.

Ray and Nada’s back yard at the house they are renting near Hilo.

We drove back to Volcanoes National Park and the ocean on the south east side of the island.  We visited a Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park.

Ray and Nada on the extrusive igneous rock formed by the cooled lava.

Next coffee orchards and specific plots where Ray (with field help from Nada) is studying the coffee berry borer.  Tim works on computer simulations for this project. Look for HERMES on this link to see a diagram of Tim’s model.  The goal is to control the insect with biological controls.

I set up my camera to take a picture (115 pictures combined actually) of  coffee berries that need help.  Note the tiny beetles working their way in to lay eggs.


On to a Buddhist Temple for a quiet visit.  The Dalai Lama has visited twice.



Moving on to a coffee mill for samples and posters about coffee growing and production.


We finished the day with dinner at the Ohelo Cafe in Volcano Village (thank you Ray and Nada!) and a visit to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook  to see the volcano at night!


It was a wonderful day!

Friday, March 3

It’s time to pack and go.  Our plane leaves at 10 tonight and we should be back in Brooktondale by Saturday night.  Thanks Chris and D for watching the house and our dog Parker.

Thanks to all the people in Hawai’i who made this visit special.  I’d love to return another time.





A Visit to Hawaii: No Trike, but We’re Traveling

March 1, 2017

For the past several years Tim has been working on a computer simulation program for his former Ithaca boss, Ray Carruthers.  Ray and his wife Nada live on Hawaii now and Ray is working on controlling the Coffee Berry Borer.  Tim is a programmer working on a simulation for this project.  You might ask Tim more about his work.  My aim for this post is to tell you what I’ve been doing on my first trip to Hawaii.  We’re staying at the Dolphin Bay Hotel in Hilo.  Tim has been at work at Ray’s lab for the last week and I’ve been doing what I like best—taking pictures—mostly of plants.

Saturday, February 18

We left Ithaca at 6:00am EST on Saturday and (3 flights later) arrived in Hilo, HI at 8:55pm Hawaii–Aleutian Standard Time (HAST).

Sunday, February 19

On Sunday, Tim took the day to recover and I (who didn’t know any better) started my Hawaiian adventures.

I went to the 7:30am service at the Church of the Holy Apostles, and got to meet a young lady (and her family) who hopes to go to Cornell when she graduates in three years. I returned to the hotel for lunch with Tim and then started a tour of the island, (there’s an app for that) using Gypsy Tours as my guide.  My plan was to circle the island.  What I didn’t do was estimate how long it would take to do that.  I worked my way northwest, stopping at Akaka Falls and and Kahuna Falls for a short hike and a picture:


Another stop and small tour at Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park where a 1946 title wave took the lives of 20 students and four teachers.  It’s now a memorial park.


As I continued my circle tour I slowly realized where I actually was and how far I had to go. Somewhere around Kailua-Kona, (You’ll have to look at the link to see it.  It was getting dark and I didn’t stop for pictures) I found that the Saddle Road, directly across the island to Hilo would be my quickest route back.  I drove through the mountain pass—up and down in just under two hours.  It was totally dark so I had to return another day to see the landscape.  That was my first adventure in enjoying myself and not planning:-)

Monday, February 20:

Monday was Presidents’ Day so Tim didn’t have to report for work.  Jet lag began to hit me by then so even I took it easy.  I found a plant next to our hotel driveway for a closeup and we walked around town for better maps and sundry supplies.

The plant by the driveway is Tapeinochilos ananassae or Indonesian wax ginger.  Like many other plants in Hawaii, it’s not native. My friend Connie asked if you can eat it. There are ginger plants of all sorts on Hawaii, most (I think) not native.   Here’s a shot of a poster near Ray’s office on how to get seeds for edible ginger. I still don’t know which ginger species are native to the island.


My first two focus stacked pictures from Hawaii:
Tapeinochilos ananassae or Indonesian wax ginger.  Thanks Bob Wesley for the ID!


Tuesday, February 21

Tim started work today and I started my next adventure.  I visited the Hawaiian Tropical Botanical Gardens not too far northwest of Hilo.  Hoping to take closeups of some of the plants I saw, I brought my Canon 6D, all the attachments that make Focus Stacking work, and my tripod (also lunch, water, etc etc). I enjoyed the walk and saw a few possibilities.  My first was a “landscape” of the rainforest floor:hawaiin-forest-floor-color-9653-9694-2017-02-21-19-50-01-zs-pmax

My second was an attempt to make a picture over moving water of ferns that were growing on the side of this wall (iPhone picture):


After I set up my camera on the tripod attached to the remote android computer, it started to rain.  It takes about 10 minutes to make the setup and I hate quitting after all that effort—so I didn’t.  I finished the series and scooped everything up to make a dash for a protected area where I could dry everything off.  All seemed OK so I continued my walk to the point the furthest away from the parking lot (maybe a mile or so).  I had found another ginger and I really wanted to work with it.  iPhone picture below.

img_5212I set everything up again and took a picture (or tried to). The shutter button worked, but the review button stopped reviewing the picture last taken.  Instead it opened up live-view.  I had a short! Inside the camera! Arghhh!  What to do?  I heard rice was a solution so I picked everything up, got myself back to the car and headed to a grocery store. I bought a big bag of rice and a roll of 2 gallon ziplock bags.  As soon as I returned to the car I dumped my camera into a plastic bag with rice and sealed it.  When I picked Tim up, his opinion was that rice was a poor solution.  I needed a desiccant like silica gel packets.  Nowhere could we find any in Hilo (at least not listed on the internet).  We ended up getting a bag of DampRid at Home Depot.  I next read a horror story about a guy whose gun started dissolving in a cabinet when it was stored with DampRid, but others were happy with it, so when we got back to the hotel I put my camera (aka Edward, after my father) in a new sealed bag with a cup half-filled with DampRid in the same bag.

Wednesday, February 22

With bated breath, I opened the bag in the morning, put the battery and memory card back in and tried the camera.  It worked!  Thank you so much! But now the memory card didn’t want to click into place.  I could close it in and take a picture, but it wouldn’t stay in by itself.  It seems a grain of rice had gotten stuck in the slot:-(  Tim tried to get it out, and almost succeeded, but not quite.  He needed a longer thinner tool. While he was working I looked for a camera repair shop.  There is a Canon store in Honolulu ($200 flight) but they would need 3 to 5 business days to fix the camera.  I was resigned to spending the rest of my time in Hawaii with just my iPhone.  I have a new app for the phone, Focus Camera, that takes focus stacked pictures.  It takes three pictures and knits them together.  It’s not the same as 50 or more pictures taken with my Canon 6D, but it’s something.  I’ve found it helpful for trying out possible subjects.  With very little time I can get a better idea of what a finished picture might look like.  Thanks to Stan Bowman for telling me about it.

Tim doesn’t give up easily so we went off together to USDA ARS Hilo to the lab where Tim was working.  Ray wasn’t in town so we went to another lab where I met Nick, Forest, Melissa, and Travis. Tim started looking around for a magic tool and Forest wanted to know more about the problem.  Forest is another fixer (aka research assistant) who doesn’t like to give up.


So what happened?

First with a long narrow pair of tweezers,


And next with the addition of a light and a magnifier,


Forest got the grain of rice out (that took him about 30 seconds) and then realigned the metal connector that I had bent when forcing in the card.  Again, with bated breath, I tried it out and…it worked! Thank you Forest!!

Not wanting to rush off I stayed to see the results of Forest’s work with a Drone camera.


You’ll notice Tim hanging on to his desire for us to have a drone like that.  We could use it for our Six Mile Creek project which is going to be on display at the History Center in Ithaca in April.  Can we afford it? Will we have time? Time will tell.

I spent the rest of the day at the Hawaii Botanical Tropical Garden and across the street from our hotel making more stacked pictures.  Here is one.  I’m still deciding about black and white vs color in Hawaii, but for now I’m sticking with black and white.

Alpinia gigantifolia ‘Toni Parson’ (Toni Parson ginger)

When I brought a set of pictures taken near the hotel later in the day inside to download, it seemed at first they weren’t all on the card.  I put the card back in the camera to check.  Suddenly I couldn’t read it.  “The write protect switch is on.” But it wasn’t.  What should I do?  I suspected general dampness (along with the agony of the earlier repair). Hilo has had an average rainfall of 156.79 inches.  It rains a lot on this side of the island.  Hoping DampRid would work again I put my camera back in the bag and went to bed.

Thursday, February 23

The night in the bag with DampRid worked again.  The card was readable and all buttons were working:-)
From across the street from Dolphin Bay Hotel:

Cana indica (Indian shot)   Thank you Bob Wesley for the ID!

I decided for the rest of the day to take a break from wet weather.  This is easy to do in Hawaii.  All you do is cross the island and you’re in a desert.  I visited Pua Mau Place on the northwest side of the island.  It was sunny (as promised) and dry.  I didn’t really see candidates for focus stacking, but I enjoyed my walk around the area.

I returned to Hilo via the Saddle Road, this time in the daylight.  I was passing through cowboy country—lush fields with black angus cattle.  I stopped just once to take a picture for Toby McDonald and Lisa Coleman.

img_5320_1No cows in this one, but they were around, honest. Another picture I didn’t take was of cactus growing in a large green pasture.  Unusual sight for a person from upstate New York!

Friday, February 24

Friday I was back visiting gardens near Hilo.  Strangely enough I missed the clouds and humidity.
First Tim and I visited a small garden of Bromeliads on the UH campus not far from Ray’s lab.

Next, after I dropped Tim off, I drove to Botanical World Adventures.  I skipped the zip lines and set off to see the plants.  I spent a couple of hours walking up the Rainforest Trail.  I saw no one else and enjoyed the walk.  Strangely enough it was sunny out (and breezy), so I struggled with my camera and tripod to get the light where I wanted it to be.

Here is an experiment in an area filled with Passion Flowers.
For milly acharya and Dede Hatch:passion-flower-cropped0332-0362-2017-02-25-07-21-01-zs-retouched

I didn’t see the rest of the trails.  I’d like to go back, but may run out of time.

Saturday, February 25

Tim didn’t have to work so we headed off together to walk the Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Tom Vawter and Ray told us we had to do this and they were right.  It seems most everywhere I go, it’s my new favorite and I want to return.  The trail down to the crater was full of potential focus stacking pictures. I’d be back the next day to take them.

Here are a few of my iPhone pictures from my walk with Tim:


There was a special treat on the way down (almost to the crater).  I’m afraid it was too far and too steep for carrying my gear the next day.  Thinking of you Dave LoParco and Bard Prentiss:

We stopped for lunch at the Volcano House for another good view of the crater.  My main picture for that moment was of Tim in natural light:-)

After we returned Tim took a nap while I tried a new view of Cana indica across the street.  I hadn’t tried the Canon before I left the hotel and I forgot the piece of plastic I have for sitting on the ground.  Both were mistakes.  After getting all set up, once again, the card said it was set for read only (only it wasn’t). And I had my own set of invisible bites where I had been sitting on the sidewalk (big itch).  Again Edward the Camera went back to his dry bag and I did what I could with anti-itch cream and a walk.  Next day we were both better.

Sunday, February 26

My plan was to take it easy, recover from our 8 miles walked the day before, and start this blog. The forecast was for lots of rain and it seemed like time for a rest.  But the forecast was wrong.  Rain big time was now predicted for Monday and Tuesday.  Sunday was calm (no wind) and cloudy.  Perfect conditions for focus stackers.  Tim took the day of rest and I returned to the Kilauea Iki trail for slow travel with my Canon and tripod.  I took several sets of pictures of two species of fern.

Below are a few:
Dicranopteris linearis (Uluhe)

Cibotium glaucium (Hapu’u pulu)

I finished my second visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a walk through a lava tunnel and a visit to the Jaggar Museum for a glimpse of molten lava:

It was a wonderful day!

Monday and Tuesday, February 27 and 28

The forecasted rain arrived in Hilo.  I’ve been visiting local sites: Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, Richardson Beach, and working on this blog.

Tomorrow we’re to visit coffee fields and other highlights of the island with Ray.





Leaving Block Island—Twice!

June 21, 2016

Last weekend Tim and I drove to the outskirts of Boston for my nephew’s wedding.  We’re black on Block Island, but only for a little while.  Sadly (or not) it’s time to leave for home.

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June 19, 2016

Art I find; the art of repair; art I work to create.

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Fibonacci Sequence

June 14, 2016

I was thinking the other day about the Fibonacci Sequence. I don’t remember why.

The Fibonacci Sequence is an infinite list of numbers. The first number, F1, is 1. F2 is 1. Then the nth number, Fn, is Fn-1 + Fn-2. For example, F3 = F2 + F1 = 2. Thus the first seven numbers are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and 13.

There are many articles describing how Nature loves this sequence. You can find Fibonacci numbers in the spirals of sunflower seeds or pine cones. You can also find writers who debunk the idea, accusing its proponents of collecting examples that bolster their case, and ignoring contrary data.

In any event, true or not, it is a poetic idea. I asked Suzy to find some Fibonacci in Nature. I used the sequence to determine the number of syllables in a line. I stopped at 13. It was fun, if you like to play around with words, and ideas, and puzzles. The challenge is to make the phrases fit the line, as much as possible. I invite you to give it a try. There are worse ways to spend a few hours. Post your results in the comments.
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Susan, what are you doing?

June 11, 2016

I started this Block Island visit with a daily blog, which lasted about three days.  Since then I’ve relaxed into my version of a Block Island Schedule.  Up for coffee and the Ithaca Journal; meditate (Centering Prayer); walk or ride to breakfast: work on new art; have some lunch: take a ride on my tricycle; have dinner with Tim; go to bed early; get up, and repeat.  I’ve collected pictures along the way, but there’s no plot! So I’ve held off on the next blog installment. Without any special explanation of what happened when, here is a summary of the last few days (in pictures.)

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June 9, 2016

Most of our pairings of a photograph with a poem begin with the photograph. In this case, I had a poem, and Suzy found the photo.
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A Quiet Day—Thinking about our friend, Lee Miller

June 4, 2016

Our dear friend Lee Miller passed away this morning. I spent the morning thinking about Lee and Sylvia. He will be missed.


Ranunculus (Buttercup)

An iris portrait, a trip to the transfer station, and a bit of shopping.

June 3, 2016

Yesterday evening, I worked on some closeups of Sheila’s iris.

This morning, after breakfast, Tim and I do a few errands.

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