Monday, April 30, 2012

Tulip Surprise

I spotted this bit of red in my daylily species garden on my way into the driveway last night.  Naturally I had to get out and investigate.  It's tulips!

Aren't they pretty?  I totally forgot that I had planted them there last Spring when I was putting in the daylilies.  My DH had created this new space for the daylilies, so I was just tucking in little odds and ends to balance the plants and I ran across a bag of tulip bulbs.  I had no idea what they would look like when they bloomed - I wasn't even sure how old they were or if they would bloom at all.  But the bulbs seemed healthy enough, so I dug out a little space for them at the base of the column - worst case scenario they would turn into compost - and that was that.

Such a nice red, but you can't really get a good picture of it in the dark, eh?

There you go!  These guys are real beauties.  It's like my own little bouquet of tulips sitting outside and waiting for me to come and see them.  I really debated whether or not to cut them and bring them with me to the office.  But they're tulips - and tulips don't really last a long time as cut flowers.  If I leave them where they are, they'll last a lot longer.  So that's what I did.

I love that about bulbs - planting them and then forgetting that they are there (even if you do write it down on your garden plan).  When Spring comes around even if only one of them pops up it's always an unexpected treat.  What a nice surprise!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sweetie Scape

Each Spring my neighbor and I have a little competition over whose daylilies will bloom first.  I do plenty of trash-talking, bragging and all those things to taunt my gardener friend.  Each Spring he wins.  He has this wonderful well-established patch of tetraploid daylilies on a protected southern hillside and they bloom before anything in my gardens.

Last year I was so devastated my yet another defeat that, as I stood there admiring (to myself) his earliest bloomer, I declared that we were only counting common roadside daylilies for the competition.  Not true, but I needed a second chance.  Of course, his common roadside daylilies bloomed before mine also.

But this year... are you seeing what I'm seeing?  That's right - I see VICTORY!  My extra-early dayliles are in bud and a few are moments away from flowering.  Thanks to our mild winter, they are a few weeks ahead of schedule.  Thanks to careful selection for this particular garden the blooms go from May through October - and they are finally mature enough to put on a good show.

This year, victory is going to be mine!

Unless the deer eat them.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pea Friends

The peas are still growing nicely and size-wise they are right on track.

Yesterday my DH and I stopped in at the local cooperative extension where I had a chance to look at their peas and compare them to how ours are doing.  I am happy to report that they are doing exactly the same.  Aside from the traditional straight rows that they have at the extension instead of our parterre curved rows, they could be twins.  Two peas in a pod, so to speak...

Of course the peas aren't the only thing that's coming up in the vegetable parterre.  We also have the perennial vegetables.  This horseradish is doing well so far.  I've left the leaves in the bed to act as a blanket for it until all danger of frost has passed.  Even though we had a mild winter we are getting some freezes this weekend.  I know that a lot of the growth that is up will die from the cold, but the root and new shoots just starting to come up need to be protected for a few more weeks.

Around here there are 3 dates for last frost.  Mother's Day (May 13th) according to local shoppers, the first full moon in May (May 6th) according to the farmers and May 3rd according to the National Climatic Data Center.  I do what the farmers say to do.  After all, their livelihood depends on it so I think they put a little more thought into the accuracy of their planting dates than anybody else.  I've never had a problem when I listen to the farmers.

The rhubarb is coming up nicely also.  Believe it or not, these are the baby leaves.  They are going to grow up and double in size.  I got the rhubarb as a bare root plant about 4 years ago.  It was planted in the vegetable parterre well before there was a formal pattern laid out for the beds.  Now it is getting so big that I know I will have to move it since it's spilling over the edge of the bed and into the path.

When I move it, even though it only has to go back into the bed about 3-feet, it's going to be a little angry with me and will probably need a year or so to settle in again.  That's okay though.  I only make a few things with rhubarb: strawberry rhubarb pie (a "must have" for Spring eating), strawberry rhubarb refrigerator jam (gets me to Summer), and rhubarb compote (more of a "tonic" than a yummy thing to eat - it's actually quite bitter).  So the harvest leaves a lot of the plant behind in the garden to soak up the sun and nutrients making for a very large rhubarb plant.

I planted the rhubarb because my grandpa had rhubarb in his garden.  When I go out and see it there it reminds me of him and spending time at his place in the summer with my siblings and cousins.  When I make the rhubarb pie I can hear him saying, "There's some blueberry pie in the freezer, Joe."  He called us all "Joe" and there was always pie in the freezer which he always said was blueberry even if it wasn't.

Breakfasts at grandpa's meant fresh eggs, toast, homemade corned beef hash (from dinner the night before), hot shredded wheat (warm milk, butter and salt), cold corn on the cob and a big slice of pie.  It was the most important meal of the day, don't 'cha know.  I think it came from his Vermont roots.  You needed something hearty to keep you hardy during those cold winters.  It must have worked for him because he ate all of that and was still as skinny as a twig.

Rhubarb, lilacs and hollyhocks.  These are my grandpa's plants and they are in my garden every year to remind me of him.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Sky

There's something very relaxing about stepping off of the train on a Friday night.  Even though the train station parking lot is full of the regular commuters and weekenders all itching to get out of the station and get to their destinations, it's still a big de-stressing moment to step off of the train and know that I'm home.

I think a large part of this has to do with the fact that the city is 80 miles away behind that mountain range.  Right where those 2 ridges seems to come together there is a gap where the train passes through - and the city is 80 miles south of that.

Any stress that I may have had all week long has to follow me all the way home and make it past those mountains guarding our bucolic manor.  Not much makes it through the pass.  Sometimes I pictures little waves of stress trying their darndest to crash into those mountains, only to be knocked down like a tiny little gnat.

That mountain pass is my friend at the end of the day.

Sometimes it can be annoying, like when it stops a storm from leaving for a few extra days.  Sometimes it can be wonderful, like when it stops a storm from coming through.

Most of the time, though, it is a real concrete boundary between my city life and my country life.  So when I get home at night I'm truly here and not still overly focused on what happened at the office.  Sure, I may have to do some work from home.  I may have had a day that just refuses to be shaken off.

But most of the time I step off of the train, look south to those mountains and I just feel safe and at home.  And that's a good feeling to have.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Colorful Combos

I saw this combination of tulips and boxwood down a side street today.  It's so lovely.

The boxwood fills in the space around the base of the tree, making the display of tulips look really full.  And they planted them in all of the tree beds in front of their building.  I think it's a really nice use of the space, very low maintenance and quite a perky colorful show.

I'm always looking for different ways to combine plants.  I wouldn't have put the tulip with the boxwoods because I thought that there was too much gray in the leaf of the tulip - I thought it would look sickly.  But with the bright blossoms bobbing in the breeze (I just had to say that!), the gray leaf becomes more of a ground cover and the bloom on the tulips stands against the boxwood leaves.

Besides, red, yellow and green are always cheery to look at in Spring.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Next Round

The next round of Spring blossoms has begun here at our bucolic manor.  The azalea is in bloom.  It's a little early, thanks to our mild winter this year.  You can still see the winter bronzing on the leaves.  But that doesn't detract from it's fabulous fuchsia blossoms.

I really felt like getting out my paints and spending the day capturing the essence of these beauties on canvas.  There's nothing like painting outside - plein air - with the warm sun and the fresh smell of the outdoors.

But, that wasn't in the cards.  Too many chores to do before the rain came.

So I will settle for painting with photoshop!  If I only had this years ago for my art classes.  When I was younger, my mother arranged for me to work with a local artist at her studio after school.  It was like a giant playroom to me.  I never knew what medium I would get to work with - oils, watercolors, clays - it could be anything.  She would work on her commissioned pieces or prepare for a show and I would make my own "masterpieces" of the still lifes she would set up for me.  My end results were - well, let's just say that they weren't gallery-ready.  No matter the results, though, it was great fun and I still take the time to sketch and paint now and again.

Even though photoshop can give me great results, I still do prefer actually painting.  I like that quiet time, the initial sketching, getting absorbed in the play of light and color.  So relaxing.

And my mother still thinks they are all masterpieces - you have to love that!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's in a Name

There are 21major bridges connecting Manhattan with the rest of the world.  Some are for cars, some are for people and some are for trains.  My train comes in to the city over the 138th Street bridge.  This one at the east end of 125th Street is the Triboro, or more specifically the Harlem River lift bridge. (The Triboro has 3 bridges, but it counts as 1 bridge).

Should I call it the RFK bridge?  Nope.  The thing I learned when I first moved to Manhattan was that you refer to places by the name that they are when you first move there.

I learned this lesson when I was trying to find a store on Avenue of the Americas, so I asked a woman who had lived in Manhattan for awhile - and she gave me directions for 6th Avenue.  Of course, the taxi driver couldn't find 6th Avenue - because he hadn't been in Manhattan as long - so he was kind enough to drive me back and forth across Manhattan (several times) trying to find it.  Nice guy, eh?  I never did find the store.

6th Avenue is a great one for names.  It is 6th Avenue, Avenue of the Americas, Lenox Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard - all depending on where you are and when the person you are speaking to learned the street, I mean avenue name.

No matter what name you use, the bridges are my daily reminder that Manhattan is an island.

Unfortunately it does not come with sandy beaches, cabanas and tropical drinks served up under the palm trees.  Ah well...

Monday, April 23, 2012

After the Rain

We got a good soaking from the rain over the weekend and a few clouds stuck around to try to make Monday seem gloomy.  But the sun ruined their plans by peeking through all day long.

It made for a great view all the way home.

I kept being prepared to get stuck - both on the way to work this morning and on the way home.  There was talk of flooding and delays everywhere.  Somehow I got lucky and missed all of the mess.  I didn't even need an umbrella.

Sometimes things just work out, I guess. (yay!)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Planter Planting Time

It's mid-April and it is finally time to start putting out the flowers.  I let the last flowers of fall die off and start to compost a bit in the planters.  A little extra compost never hurt, right?  I know just what to plant - it's the same flower that I've planted every Spring since I was a little girl.  The only thing that changes is which color I choose.

I pulled out all of last year's remains and mixed up the soil in the planter.  It's nice and fluffy now so the roots from the flowers will not have to work too hard to reach out and grab ahold in their new home.  I have to admit that I know the folly that I am starting.  These flowers are for Spring - maybe a little early Summer bloom, but then they should...go away.  I just want a little color from what should be a Spring-only plant.  But I know that is not what is going to happen.

Because I'm talking about pansies.  Cute little Johnny-jump-ups (viola cornuta) and pansies.  My DH loves purple, so I went with a mix this year.  The johnny-jump-ups have that very traditional purple/yellow/white face and the pansies I chose are a dark velvety purple.  They really compliment each other nicely.

I put the pansies in the center of the container.  They only grow about 6-inches tall, which is sort of short for a center plant in a container.  But these containers are on front steps of our bucolic manor and anything higher would get hit by shopping bags or our very enthusiastic pup when she goes out for a walk.  So 6-inches will be just perfect for the height.

The johnny-jump-ups will go around the edge of the container and cascade a bit over the side.  This is going to make the planters look really full and the johnny-jump-ups will get a lot of room to move around in the breeze.  Right now they look very subdued - as if they know what their job is and are resigned to doing it.  They remind me of that sweet little look that our pup give me when I'm holding a bribe biscuit in my hand.  I realize that no matter how I planted them, they're going to do what they want.

I put some time-released fertilizer on top of the soil.  That should give them enough food to get started and hopefully ease their transition from the warmth of the greenhouse to the cool night-time temperatures that they will now live with.  They're starting to perk up already.

They really are such pretty little flowers.  I just hope they know that it's okay if they don't last until Winter.  Really.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pea News

Unfortunately I did not get out to look at the peas until the sun was going down, so I have good news - they are going along well - but terrible lighting!

They haven't really started taking off yet.  They still look short and squat.  I think that's because it hasn't rained at all this week.  But it does look like there are more plants this week, so I guess a few seeds were just taking their time in germinating.

There still is the one obvious hole in the second row in from the left.  I think that it will stay empty.  No matter how closely I looked, I didn't see any little pea seeds or sprouts there.

So 5th week and the peas look like they are going to do fine.

Right now it is raining outside.  The weatherman got it partially right because it is raining, but it was supposed to start at 5pm at the latest.  He was about 6 hours off.  The gardens need it badly, though, so I won't complain too much about it being so late.

I'm going to guess that next week we will see some good vining growth because of the rain.  Then I'll have to choose which way to trellis the peas.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sunny Skies

You should have seen how brilliant the sun was today.  There were only a few clouds and a very bright sun lit up the sky.

I felt like I was out sailing.  Bright sun.  Cool breeze.  I couldn't help but think I was out on the water.  You could smell the ocean (well, the river --- and it was the good river smell, not low tide!) coming in on the winds.  I love that smell.

But I wasn't out on the water.  I was at the train station waiting for the Friday night express train home.  I held on to that image of being out on the water though, because the train was absolutely packed crying babies, luggage, lots of perfume and dogs.  A typical Friday night.

It was a good day to enjoy the sun, though.  This weekend it's supposed to rain - a lot.  I'm hoping that the weather guys are right for a change and we get a good soaker.

And if it lasts too long, I can always think about how sunny it was today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Under the Tracks

The train tracks at the upper eastside train station are elevated.  This sometimes makes me think twice when I step over the gap between the train and the platform as I get onto the train at night.

I always think that it's no longer a matter of falling the height of the train, it's a matter of falling the height of the train plus 2 stories more until I hit the pavement.

I needed to stop thinking this!  It was driving me a little nuts when I was getting on the train at night. (Somehow, this is never a problem when I get off the train in the morning.)  So I went and took a moment to actually look under the tracks.

So here it is.  There are no holes for anyone to fall through should I take a misstep and fall between the train and the platform.  There's really no way to fall all the way through to the street.  It would just be falling the height of the train.  Perfectly fine.   Not a problem at all.

Of course, the thing would be not to fall in the first place, but if I did I'm thinking that it wouldn't too bad - relatively speaking...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tulip Prison

Maybe these poor little tulips have done something horrible to deserve this, even - as I've said before - if I can't imagine what that would be.  Whatever their misdeeds may have been they are more than making up for it in beauty.

I love the way they peek out from between their prison bars when the wind coming up from the river sways them back and forth.  First some pinks and then the fiery oranges.  Back and forth behind the bars.

Even though this planting of tulips is quite plain, no undergrowth of ivy, no covering of mulch, just the green of the tulip leaves against the soil gives a good impact to the eye when I look at this.  It's a simple and natural display that I think is really refreshing.

Of course, I believe that one of the reasons that it works so well is that the tulip blossoms are neither simple nor plain.  They are actually quite fancy.  Their variegated colors get bolder as the flowers get older.  And the edges of the petals are frilly which means that they have even more movement with every little breeze.

Of course my camera doesn't begin to do justice to this orange tulip.  It seems as if it has captured the sun in it's blossom.

Okay - maybe that is a bit over the top.  But it is a brilliant orange.  I spotted it from down the street and it drew me to this planting.

At first I thought they should be freed due to their lovely display, but maybe they should stay behind bars?  That way no one will step on them!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Looking Up

Things were looking up today.  Got the taxes done in advance - I waited until the last minute to file, of course, but they were done in advance!  I don't know why I do that, it must be a carryover from when I was younger.  I do the taxes in advance and then wait until Tax Day to actually file them.  Of course, now that I have used Turbo Tax forever - well, pretty much since there was Turbo Tax, it goes really fast, which I totally love because it is absolutely not a problem.  And I didn't even have to get out my old accounting books from college to get the job done.  Sweet!

I had a great cup of coffee to start the day.  Perfect balance of coffee and milk.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Just the right blend for that perfect taste.  Nice.

And our pup went and picked up her kibble that she dropped when I told her to.  I kid you not.

Okay, so that last one sort of freaked me out.  I said, "Pup, go pick up your kibble off of the floor before someone steps on it." and I really think that she just happened to be going in that direction and noticed a bit of kibble on the floor instead of listening and understanding me and then going and cleaning up.  She's just a puppy, you know.  I don't think that her English is that good.  But hey - it could happen.

Oh! and then I figured out a mistake that I made on my knitting project and got that all fixed up - which was great because I didn't want to have to rip it all out because lace is really hard to rip out, even simple lace like what I'm working on now. Very nice indeed.

And the guy at the video store did not charge me a late fee even though I was 17 minutes late in returning the DVDs my DH rented this past weekend.  Which was really nice of him, especially when you consider that there is pretty much no way I can ever be on time returning DVDs mid-week because my train doesn't even get in until after the return window has closed.  I would have to leave work early to return a DVD on time during the week.  Beautiful.

So all of these things together meant that things were looking up today - so that's what I did.  I looked up.  And that's what I saw.

Come to think of it, that building looks really tall when you stand at the base of it and look up.  From across the street - eh - not so much.

It may not have been a big deal 5-star gold letter banner day!!!!!!  but overall, it wasn't bad.

And you know what?  I'll take it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Picking Up the Pace

Last Monday there was no one walking by in front of the train station - and it was glorious!  But today is a new day...

They're back and faster than ever.  All nicely refreshed from the week off, all of the people who commute with me are back in the city today.

Now, since I didn't have the week off, I can't say that I'm all that refreshed.  Or that I'm faster than ever.

In fact, today I was feeling especially slow and sleepy by the time I got off the train and started the morning push over to the crosstown bus.  That quickly changed, however, after I got - let's just say jostled, shall we? - while walking down the sidewalk.

Okay, I was strolling and really enjoying the warm breeze and sunshine.  Rolling up my scarf and coat and tucking them into my bag.  Really relishing the temperature difference between where I live and where I work.

And they were...well, they were rushing to catch their cross-town bus.

But by the time I got over to the westside, I was in full city-mode and keeping pace with the morning rush without a single thought to the wonderfulness of the day.

(Don't worry though - I saved the thought for a quick stroll over to the park in mid-afternoon!)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Great Phoneography Compet(IT)ion

My DH and I went to the Great Millbrook Library Phone-ography Competition this evening to view our photos that we had submitted and see the other work on display.  It was a wonderful event and we had a terrific time.

The director of the event thanked all of the participants for the photos being shown and then introduced the judges for the phonography competition.

The 2 gentlemen were art teachers from 2 of the schools in the area.  They seemed to have fun judging the competition - and were surprised at the quality of photographs that our smartphones were able to produce.  The playing field was sort of leveled because of the restrictions on the cameras and the editing had to be done on the phone.  This made the "eye of the artist" really become the focus of the judging.

There was one point that one of the teachers made that I found sort of interesting.  He said that since people are using smartphones more as cameras - posting instagrams, flickr, pininterest and so on - they seem to be looking at things that they would have previously just ignored.  I think that's true.

One woman who had 2 photos entered is using instagrams as her "daily phone call" to her daughter.  They share what they see everyday instead of talking on the phone or IMing.  I guess it is a case of a picture being worth 1,000 words.

My DH and I had such a good time with this charity event.  At the end, all of the photographs were raffled off.  I got a beautiful picture of posies that had a ripple filter applied - very Monet like.  My DH got a chicken in a coop with Warhol-like coloring.  It made him laugh.

It was well worth the time to enter our photos.  And more worth our time to support a local library.

Just great fun!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pea Update

It looks like the peas we planted on St. Patrick's day are coming up nicely.  After the first week there was no sign of them.  And then the next week it snowed - so of course I was happy that they hadn't sprouted up by then.  And here we have them on the 3rd week.  They have their first set of true leaves all spread out and seeking the sun.

Of course, the weeding starts now too!  Some forgetful squirrel must have buried this horse chestnut last fall - right in my row of peas.  But this is the reason that the vegetable garden parterre beds are designed this way with easy access for weeding.  I can easily reach in and just have to pull it out.

You see why it would be a problem to leave it?  The pea that is in the bottom of the photograph is getting full sun and has nice strong leaves.  The peas that are shaded by the horse chestnut seedling are struggling to grow and haven't opened their leaves yet.

If I left the tree, the shaded peas would not grow fast enough to fruit - by the time they were ready, it would be too hot and they would just wither away.  And the tree roots would grow too deep for me to really get the entire plant, so even the stronger pea's roots would have to fight for space.  All those roots would fill up the soil, then there would be no place for the water to come in and settle.  And then the roots would have no way of getting any food to the plants.

It would be anarchy, I tell you. Anarchy!

So, I weeded out the horse chestnut seedling and the peas will have a good chance this week - until the next weed comes along...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Station Light

I usually don't look up too much when I'm in the city.  I guess most people who live and work there really don't look up much at all.  We focus more on where we are going instead of where we are.

At least that's my theory today.

But my friend pointed out lines of the curving steel girders at the train station, and I couldn't help but notice the contrast between those steel beams bent into a delicate seeming arch and the lamps tucked in behind them.

Compared to the steel beams, the lamps look practically light and lacy.  I'm not sure they are meant to be together.

But it is a different view, no?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Passing Storm

With all of the clouds over the city today, I thought for sure we would get some rain, but the sun broke through and streamed down just in time for the evening train.

We celebrated the lack of snow this winter, but of course that means that there wasn't any snow pack to melt.  So I was really hoping that there would be a nice heavy rain to soak everything.  But there wasn't.

I guess I should start celebrating the fact that I haven't gotten drenched once (yet) this Spring.  And when I look around at the flowers, they seem to be doing alright without any downpours (so far).

But being the worrier that I am, I can't help but thinking that we are in for a scorcher of a summer with perhaps a drought thrown in for good measure.  I gues that makes up for all of the horrible flooding we had last Spring!

Up at our bucolic manor, we've already started putting our water conservation measures in place.  We usually are very conservative with water in the gardens.  I think about it a lot - maybe because I come from the Great Lake state and am living in a landlocked town?  We'll use the dish water on the flowers that can't stand it, and layering a lot of mulch everywhere we can put it.  That will help cut down on the weeds also.

But all of that is for later.

Right now, I'm going to just take a moment and enjoy watching the sun streaming through the clouds.  If you ignore all of the water issues, it's just a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peaceful Commute

An empty bus doesn't come along every day in Manhattan.  In fact, there are only 3 times a year that I can really count on a quiet, peaceful and spacious ride from the office to the train.

The first is this week, the week after Easter.  No kids, no parents, no parents who have kids who don't go to school in Manhattan.  Because if the kids are home from school, the parents are home with them.  And Easter plus Passover?  This is a wonderfully beautiful thing.

The second week is Thanksgiving.  The city is a ghost town at Thanksgiving time.  I'm, of course, not referring to the day of the parade and midtown shopping madness.  I'm talking about everywhere else.  No one is here.  You can walk down the middle of an avenue and be lucky to see another pedestrian - let alone a car or taxi.  They all go away.

The third week is the week between Christmas and New Year's.  It is phenomenally quiet.  Just the streets and (most years) snow crunching beneath your feet.  Peaceful and calm.

These are the best 3 weeks of the year for a commuter.  And this week is the last of them until Fall.

So I'm enjoying this week of calm commuting.  Luxuriating in the spacious aisles and seats of the buses and trains.  Breathing in deeply the smell of --- nothing.  No perfume, no fast food.  Just air.

It's lovely!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Think It's Following Me

I took this picture in Manhattan, but something seems a little out of place, no?

When I got on the train this morning, there was no sign of it, but somehow one of the many pieces of farm equipment up by our bucolic manor seems to have made its' way down to the city.

I really think it's following me!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Train Views

It's hard to get a good picture from a moving train, so when I saw this one came out, I just had to share.  The thing that makes my commute really worth it (most days) is this view out the train window.

It may not seem like much, but this is the beginning of "The Great Swamp" - a huge wetlands area filled with lots of plants and creatures.

Everyday there is something to see.  The heron nests and red stags are my favorites this week.  Next week it may be the water lilies and buffalo (they're on a farm).

I like watching the changing seasons - especially when I am toasty warm on the train and watching the snow falling outside, or sweltering outside and a/c cool on the train.  Either way, it's a good thing.  There's one part of the ride where it has been changing from swamp into a field.  The trees fell and built up the soil, then the grasses came in.  Each year it looks more and more solid - although I've heard from some of the locals that you wouldn't want to go for a walk - your legs would sink in about 8-feet deep.  But it looks solid from the train.

This little bit of water is at the north end of one of the reservoirs where the swans like to nest.  I can tell when Spring is coming because that's when their chicks start to hatch.  They're kind of funny the way the swans and ducks stay mostly to themselves - the swans go to the south end, the ducks are in the northern end and every so often they meet in the middle and socialize a bit.

I guess you could say they're "strange ducks".  Doh!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's a Trade-Off

When a film crew comes into the neighborhood where I work to shoot their commercial, tv show or movie it is usually very...bothersome.  They always seem to block off the exact street that I need to go down to get to where I need to get to and be on time.

This week, though, they thoughtfully filmed inside one of the apartment buildings down the block from where I work - so for once I was actually able to take a moment to enjoy the hubbub.

They parked all of their semis down by the park.  There were about 8 of them lined up one after the other - each full of equipment, food, more equipment, props, even more equipment.

And of course there were the trailers for the actors.  They split the trailers this production, so 2 dressing rooms per trailer instead of the usual single room per trailer that most of the productions use.  Maybe because it was an HBO show instead of a blockbuster movie.

My favorite part was watching them try to light up the inside of a Manhattan apartment.  You need a lot of light to film in, apparently, and to make it seem like it is daylight outside, it has to be really bright (I'm guessing).

The problem is that most Manhattan apartments don't actually get a lot of natural light.  They usually have a few windows facing the ally (and the building next-door).  Then they have a few windows facing the street (and the building across the street).  And let's not forget that the apartments themselves have walls blocking the light from flowing from room to room.

So - pretty dark for filming.

And what's a crew to do when faced with such a dim situation?  Bring on the lights!

This back light shoots up to the window above where there's a huge white square that reflects the light into the apartment window where they're filming.

But that's not enough - not nearly enough...

So they have 2 huge lights out on the sidewalk on the other side of the apartment pointing at another reflecting square going into the window.

This was around 2pm in the afternoon - so you can see what I was talking about with the lack of sunshine in a Manhattan apartment.  The shadows from the building across the street block all the sunlight.

One building gets sun in the morning, the other gets it in the afternoon - unless there's another building that's bigger than both of them - then they get the sun and the smaller buildings get shadow.  Of course, if you're on the avenue instead of the street - you get a lot more sun, but then you also get a lot more traffic noise.

It's a trade-off.

When we lived in Manhattan, our home was across the street from a park area - so we got a lot of light.  And since it was on a street, not an avenue, we didn't get a lot of traffic noise.  I had a window box in the kitchen window off of the ally where I grew basil and tomatoes.  Lots of light there.  It was a great location.  (My DH has a knack for finding great locations.)  But we couldn't have pets and had to walk outside to get to the laundry room in the basement.

It's a trade-off.