Painting is just another way of keeping a diary ~Pablo Picasso

Friday, November 30, 2012

Otow Orchard

Otow Orchard produces and sells a lot more than just persimmons and hoshigaki over the course of the year including seasonal vegetables, although they seem to primarily be a fruit producing orchard.  I got a chance to walk around the orchard and of course the persimmons stood out, because of their beautiful fall color.  I'm told that last week the trees were all covered with these bright orange leaves.  Yesterday most of the trees were bare; only a few were still holding their leaves. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I'm very excited about this series of photos from Otow Orchard ("Oh Toe") in Granite Bay.  I've dried persimmons at my house using a food dehydrator, but it's nothing like the process used here.  Hoshigaki literally means dried persimmon, and at Otow Orchard they preserve the Japanese art of drying whole persimmons.  It's a time-consuming process with each persimmon peeled, hung, and then massaged, and rotated every few days for three to six weeks.  A real delicacy!  You can expect to see more persimmon photos in the coming days...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This great cloud pattern stretched across Sacramento yesterday afternoon.  A precursor to today's rain. It reminds me of a show going on at the Viewpoint Gallery right now called Linear.  All the photos in the show consist of horizontal lines within three themes: water, sky, or linear, which was basically anything not water or sky.  Clouds in the show really did look like lines; these clouds are much "fluffier", but the linear pattern is still really cool.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sharing a Quiet Moment

While all the other koi fish in the pond swam aimlessly about, this handsome golden fish tried hard to make eye contact; he kept sticking his forehead right out of the water.  I think he was smiling at me!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Japanese Tea Garden

It was back to the airport in San Francisco today, but not before a little sightseeing.  Here is the pagoda at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pine Cone on Fallen Leaf Lake

Yesterday we went up to Lake Tahoe to cut our Christmas Tree in the Tahoe Basin National Forest.  I took so many family photos that I completely forgot to take a blog photo in the forest.  But after we got the tree we took a short hike to Fallen Leaf Lake.  The Aspen leaves are long gone, but I did find this pine cone floating by.  With this interesting reflection pattern, the pine cone sort of reminds me of the storm spot on Jupiter. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Morning Fly-In

I'm told that the geese at West Davis pond don't migrate, but they did disappear this summer when the pond dried up.  Lucky that we can enjoy their antics all winter though!  They don't seem to have any predators at the pond, so over the 2 1/2 years that I've lived here I've seen this goose population double.  They get their breakfast at a field about a half mile from here, and then at some designated moment, they all take flight and return to the pond.  They provide fair warning; the fly-in is a very loud event.  After a few minutes they settle down, and then all is quiet on the pond again.   Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog friends!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Decorating Early

Mother Nature did a little pre-Thanksgiving holiday decorating this morning.  
We got this great drizzle (a la Pacific Northwest), 
leaving water droplets glistening like holiday lights. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rorschach Test

The water level at West Davis Pond varies so much during the year.  This summer the whole pond was nothing but a mud flat.  Now that we've had a few good rains it's starting to fill.  There is just a month or so when this photo is takeable.  Soon this entire area will be completely flooded.  I like this middle stage; I always think the reflection looks like a window view into the plants' exposed roots. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Walk in the Rain

Today I'm officially starting the I Love November Club on my blog.  If November is your favorite month, then you can join.  No dues.  Just camaraderie.  Novemberphiles unite!   And if it's just me, then that's OK.  I'll enjoy long walks in the wet leaves all by myself :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monterey Bay

It's a rocky beach along the Pacific Grove shore of Monterey Bay.  And the waves were nonstop here during our visit.  Here's my long exposure version of water, rocks, and predawn light.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Anna's Hummingbird

This Red Bottle Brush was just one of the many plants at Butterfly Grove that was specifically planted for the wintering Monarch Butterflies.  It was pretty cold yesterday though, and very few butterflies had left the tree.  This little Anna's Hummingbird had the flowers all to himself. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Monarch Sanctuary

We just returned from a trip to Monterey this weekend.  One of the things I really wanted to do was visit the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove.  Western monarch butterflies winter here, and also in numerous other groves along the California coast.  The grove consists of a combination of Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine which provide the perfect habitat for the butterflies.  They hang in these huge clusters throughout the winter months.  There are only about 2000 butterflies here right now, which isn't really that many.  Butterflies will continue to arrive until December.  In a good year they will get about 8000; this is still magnitudes less than the eastern monarch's winter sanctuary in Mexico.  That would be truly amazing to see!  One word of warning before visiting here:  they fence off the grove, so visitors have to look through binoculars to get a good view of the butterflies.  This photo is with my 200mm lens, and even still I had to crop.  This would have been a good weekend to rent that 400mm lens again!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Calaveras County

We had an early morning drive out to the Calaveras County Fairgrounds on Saturday for a big cross country meet.  The fog was so pretty.  Wish I had time to stop and do a lot of photography, but we were in a hurry.  I definitely want to come back here with my camera one morning soon!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gathering Moss

Some beautiful trees along the shore of Lake Hennessey just dripping with moss.  Must be perfect conditions here with all the fog and water. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lake Hennessey

Driving past Lake Hennessey on my way home from Napa Valley I witnessed this battle taking place.  Sunshine and fog staking out their positions on the opposite shore.  Sunshine won out as I made my way up and over the Berryessa Hills.  I wore my sunglasses the rest of the way home.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tree of Past Loves

Driving through downtown Calistoga on my trip to Napa Valley this week I happened upon a stretch of trees covered in tags.  I just happened to pull up next to this one, labeled "past loves", to get some photos.  Other nearby trees were labeled "favorite quote" and "best decision I ever made".  The Best Decision Tree had almost as many tags as this one.  I couldn't help but imagine that a lot of those tags must hold the names of current loves.  :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Heard it through the grapevine

OK this is my last grapevine photo.  I just really liked the red leaf.  And the stems.
And maybe the title is a good segue for tomorrow's photo.
(In a Motown sort of way).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Napa Grape Harvest

October was grape harvesting time in Napa Valley.  I did see some vineyards with grapes still on the vines, but they were the exception.  The thing that struck me though was that the entire valley smells like an open bottle of red wine.  I came across the Berryessa Hills and entered the valley pretty far north in Rutherford, and the fermenting grape smell filtered into my car as I descended into the valley.  Getting out of the car, the wine scent is overwhelming.  I was able to see grape crushing taking place at one of the wineries, and it was an open air event.  With over 500,000 acres of vineyards in the county, there's a lot of wine-making going on here right now!