Video: Floored by this Art Form – Beautiful

Rangoli, also known as kolam or Muggu, is a folk art from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. It is usually made during Diwali, Onam, Pongal and other Indian festivals. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities.


https://designyoutrust.com/2014/06/rangoli-amazing-folk-art-from-india/

See more impressive and even larger examples HERE

 

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Gardening When It Is Hot, Hot, Hot

Living in the Valley of the Sun when temperatures in April can reach 100 degrees and by May 100 seems as though it is a daily occurence, gardening still goes on. To deal with the unusual heat and direct brutal sun, however, certain accommodations must be made.

Because of the unusual emergency situation in the US this year, we were late in getting to some of our planting. One family of plants that is reliable even in the heat and sun of Phoenix, AZ are gazanias.

While gazanias can be grown everywhere, they do very well in hot weather. After all, they are native to South Africa. In areas that receive cold weather, these would be annuals. In the desert, they can be weathered over, but to be honest, they get bedraggled after one year and need much pruning and tender care to keep them going.

We find it more beneficial to introduce new plants each year.

I have written about them HERE and HERE

When planting even these hardy sun-loving plants, the gardener can’t just place them in their pot or garden space with appropriate fertilizer and water and anticipate that they are going to adjust and adapt easily.

What we have found that works well, is to provide a covering or some shade for two or three days and then remove the covering towards the evening of the last covered day when sun is no longer on them so they are prepared for the next day.

Here is what it looks like in our garden when we plant during the heat of the season!



The picture above is of a newly planted gazania. We use rock mulch to hold the emitters in place and help keep the lower layers of soil damp.



This is the same plant with its “hat” on. Notice that there is some light that gets to the plant, but not extreme sun. These simple baskets can be found at stores that sell things for a dollar (+/-). Of course there are more expensive coverings as well. We have a plastic milk crate we sometimes call into action for larger planters.

NOTE: If wind is going to be an issue, place a rock or other weight on top, making sure the covering is not crushing the plant.



We also use shade cloth when necessary because it is the only available covering at the time or the pot is large. We hold the covering above the plant by inserting bamboo garden stakes and using medium stationery clips to affix the cloth to the stakes; strong twist ties would do as well.

Gazanias are striking plants with exquisite color variations. They are very forgiving and I recommend them. The flower to leaf ratio is generous so there is much color in the area when they are cultivated.

Read more about gazanias.

How To Grow Gazania Treasure Flowers: Care Of Gazania Flowers


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The Hills Are Alive in the Sonoran Desert

During these times of sheltering in place, when the weather turns nice we are bound to get the urge to take part in an outdoor activity. Luckily, in Maricopa County (Phoenix and surrounds) the weather has been perfect.

Wildflowers generally bloom this time of year and because of the rather abundant winter rains, we were hoping they would be putting on quite a show. We wanted to share the hiking activity with my brother-in-law and his friend and naturally we needed to observe appropriate social distancing.

We decided to visit an area we thought would not be too crowded even though it is beautiful. The plan was that each couple would drive separately and meet up at Lake Pleasant near Wickenburg, AZ.

Once at the parking area, we used the amenities, reviewed the maps and headed out on the Cottonwood Trail.

This is a view of the lake from the parking area.



The Cottonwood Trail was in a direction opposite that of the lake and thus there we only encountered a few other hikers.

Almost immediately, we found a beautiful hedgehog cactus (chinocereus Engelmannii). The colors seem almost too intense to be real like those in an overpriced tropical drink!



Pink and purple were the dominant colors of the day. The hills were covered with owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta).



They found footing in and around rocks and in what appeared to be inhospitable spaces.



Some patches were so dense that the entire hillside was pink!



The combination of the flowers, green bushes and towering saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea) highlighted the natural beauty of the desert.



There were also ample displays of orange globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua).



Anecdote: We had a Maricopa County Park pass which allows for an entire car to enter the parks (including Lake Pleasant) on the one pass. Since we drove separately and although we totalled only four in our “group,” we inquired as to whether under the circumstances, we would be allowed to enter under the one pass. The attendant thought for a moment and said: “How about a Coronavirus discount?”… and waived us along.

Everyone is doing the best they can!

 
Read more hiking and exploring stories on JBRish HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

 
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Nature’s Color Bounty on Display at Glacier NP

We spent a week hiking at Glacier National Park, Montana which is one of the most remote national parks in the United States. As the glaciers release the waters frozen in their winter larder, the streams and waterfalls flow freely. Although the sun was not dominating the sky on this day, the colors rendered all around us were magnificent.

While hiking along the Johns Lake Loop, we came across a number of vistas similar to the one below which was remarkable in the natural beauty rendered.



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Metadata

File Name: 000053_XT2A2321_glacier-HDR.dng
Capture time: 11:59:32 AM
Capture date: July 12, 2019
Exposure: 1/45 sec @ f/20
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 400
Camera: Fuji X-T2
Lens: XF18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM Ois
Edited in Lightroom

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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

We were excited to begin our second day in Seville because our walking tour was going to take us to the Alcazar, one of the oldest palaces currently in use by monarchs. Spain’s royal family resides there when duties call them to Seville or nearby towns. The Alcazar has also gained a bit of notoriety as the setting for some episodes of The Game of Thrones.

The Alcazar first served as a fort and was later used as a palace for the leaders of the cultures dominating the area. As noted in prior posts, centuries-old buildings contain vestiges of the societies that claimed ownership of them over time and the Alcazar is no exception.

Tourists will note elements reminiscent of the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well as architectural influences of the Arab and other cultures. The main entrance is through the Lion’s Gate adjacent to the Plaza del Triunfo which is just one of the first of many interesting sights visitors will see.


The Lions Gate of the Alcazar

Here is a close-up of the lion inlay.


The Lions Gate of the Alcazar

Picture by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
via https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41790903

Visitors pass through an archway to arrive at the Patio de la Montería (The Hunting Courtyard).

Entrance archway to the Hunting Courtyard.

This is a photograph from the other side showing the manicured hedges and roses as well as other garden and architectural accents. The stonework is old and it looks its age!

Entrance archway from inside the Hunting Courtyard.

There are many notable characteristics of the Alcazar, but the numerous courtyards creating outdoor and indoor rooms must be high on that list. As the name implies, the Hunting Courtyard is where the royalty would gather those participating in the hunts. It currently serves as an entrance to the Royal Palace of Seville.

 Royal Palace of Seville.

The striking facade of the Mudejar Palace, or Palacio del Rey Don Pedro, located inside the Alcazar was constructed around 1360.

the Mudejar Palace

Notice the intricate patterns which I found remarkable considering the time in which it was built.

intricate patterns - facade of the Mudejar Palace

Other buildings framing the palace entrance were vibrantly colored which does not show as well in this shaded area.

vibrant colors of the buildings

The Dolls Courtyard (Patio de las Munecas) in the Alcazar had incredible structural details. The name is derived from the small abstract stucco faces that decorate some of the arches. I did not know about this “hidden” feature at the time, but the Internet has come to the rescue!

One of the dolls
A close up picture of one the dolls heads, a “hidden” architectural element in the Dolls Couryard of the Alcazar.
Photo courtesy of https://www.bluffton.edu/homepages/facstaff/sullivanm/spain/seville/alcazar/alcazar4.html

Square skylight dome of the Dolls Courtyard

The square domed skylight of the Dolls Couryard (above) allowed filtered light to fill the area which enabled the play of light and shadow to accentuate the detailed stucco work (below).

Dolls Couryard with intricate carvings

The Ambassador’s Hall (Salón de Embajadores – below), sometimes referenced as the Throne Room, was a very important area of the Alcazar because it was used for public events and affairs. The arches were beautifully decorated with shades of blue. The pronounced curves have been referred to as “horseshoe arches.”

The Ambassador’s Hall

Here is a closer picture of some plaster details!

Arch details and colors

If this was not enough, a stunning dome made of gilded wood in the Ambassador’s Hall added an even more decadent accent.

Golden Dome Ceiling of the Ambassador's Hall

The Courtyard of the Maidens (Patio de las Doncellas) has a reflecting pool which would be integral to a Moorish design. The name refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia. [1] Recent research indicated that the sunken garden was an original feature and thus was recently restored replacing a marble courtyard with center fountain.

Courtyard of the Maidens
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<p>Additional plaster artwork among the arches of the Alcazar</p>
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When visiting a building of such historical importance and magnificence, it is really difficult to appreciate all it has to offer in the moment. In addition to all of the beautiful architecture and artwork mentioned thus far, the tile work along the walls was impressive.

The colorful tile below contains portraits of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal. [2]

Beautiful tile work with portraits of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal

Tile work pattern with blues, green and brown

Beautiful tile work

And then there was this wooden, door-like panel with a Moorish design…

Wooden panel with Moorish patterns

Once again, much like a child in a candy store, there was almost too much to take in at one time as we came to displays of beautiful tapestries. This tapestry was hanging above a doorway in the hall of Charles V.

Coat of Arm Tapestry

Here is a better picture of the entire hallway and notice the tiles and additional tapestries along the wall.

In the Sala de los Tapices (Room of Tapestries) the walls are covered with tapestries depicting various explorations and conquests. The originals were destroyed and these are reproductions. The Tapestry Room had to be built from scratch after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. [3]

Hall of Tapestries

Don’t forget to look up. The ceilings are also works of art.

Beautiful ceiling with wonderful colors

Another beautiful ceiling

As we walked through the palace, there were some striking rooms that looked out on to the vast gardens.

Sun room overlooking the gardens

One of my favorite spots in the garden was this curved tile bench with a hedge mimicking the outline.

Garden tile bench

There were a myriad of intersecting pathways to explore leading visitors to roses and other beautiful plantings.

Garden paths

Another garden path

Did I mention they have peacocks?

Peacock in the garden

Closer and more colorful picture of the peacock

As we left the gardens we used a beautifully carved portal near the Jardín del Retiro del Marqués.

Intricately carved stonework of the exit portal at the Alcazar's garden

This is one place in Seville where the more time a visitor has, the better. It was hard to see all of it while on a schedule with other planned stops!


[1] – https://globetrottinggardener.com/2015/09/01/sevillas-alcazar-the-courtyard-of-the-maidens/

[2] – http://paulbuddehistory.com/europe/the-hapsburgs-in-the-low-countries/

[3] – https://www.seville-traveller.com/alcazar-seville/


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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop



Portugal – Lisbon Sardine Store

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling to different places, especially other countries, is the opportunity to stumble upon unplanned, yet very interesting sights. As we made our way down the “avenue” in Lisbon near Rossio Square, my eye was caught by a bevy of beautiful lights and colorful signs.


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At first it was very mysterious and hard to comprehend. The store had a good number of people milling around and the walls were full of colorful items that seemed like dated placards.


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As we walked deeper Disney-like, we realized what we were seeing. Can you tell by this section of the wall? Look closely at the right-hand side of the rectangular, dated boxes.


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It was an oasis of sardines in gift cans with dates on them. Of course we quickly realized that the dates were not the dates that those particular fish were packaged in their fanciful tins, but years representing birth dates. These were gifts of Portugues sardines in festive and colorful packages.


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This was quite unique and a bit of research has revealed that there are a few of these stores in the Lisbon area.


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Picture courtesy of Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

You can learn more about this unique gift shop by clicking the link: Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” — G. K. Chesterton


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Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE

 


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©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Video: Hummingbirds in Slow Motion (Amazing)

I found the video below quite mesmerizing and I think you will as well. I have to admit up front that I am a bird person. I enjoy casual birdwatching and photographing the wide variety of avian creatures nature has gifted to us.

What makes this video so interesting, in my opinion, is not only the exotic variety of intriguing, colorful, tropical hummingbirds, but also the slow motion style that reveals their elegant movements.

ALSO…please read my note below.

NOTE: The video above is an advertisement for a particular product. I have not used this product and I am not endorsing it.

 

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Crafty Car Wheel Cover

I have to admit up front that I am not a “car person.” I don’t go crazy over cars and I hate to shop for new automobiles. I generally own a car until it can no longer be reasonably repaired. Prior to my Honda CRV being ruined by a distracted driver who plowed into the car’s rear, it had 230,000 miles.

I wash my car from time-to-time, but I am not a fanatic about it. To me, it is a tool to get me from place to place.

I do take very good car of the car mechanically! I think you get the picture.

That is why I found the car below quite interesting. That is a very pretty, colorful and crafty wheel cover. I have seen many interesting wheel covers, but they have always been the retail type. This definitely looks homemade.



The car does have a broken tail light, but I think it probably still feels special with such a fine “hoodie” for the spare!



Read more miscellaneous stories HERE


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Photography: My Shot – Larnach Castle Garden, Dunedin, NZ


When we visited New Zealand in 2009, the only camera I took with me was a very small point-and-shoot Canon AS590 IS, which at that time was considered fairly good for its class. Even with this small-ish 8 megapixel count, I was able to capture some amazing pictures.

The photograph below was taken at Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand. The sky was overcast and the colors were vibrant in themselves. This photo was edited a bit in Lightroom, but trust me when I say that this was a striking picture before the editing process.

I encourage everyone to record their adventures as large or small as they may be with whatever camera or smart phone they have with them. The images will be a treasure to review and appreciate over time.

Interestingly enough, there were a number of plants in this garden that we grow in our Sonoran Desert area.


Stormy skies over Larnach Castle Garden, Dunedin, NZ
Stormy skies over Larnach Castle Garden, Dunedin, NZ

You can find more information about the Larnach Castle & Gardens HERE

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Metadata

File Name: larnach_cast_grdn_)133.jpg
Capture time: Early Afternoon
Capture date: December 17, 2009
Exposure: 1/1000 5.8mm
ISO: 80
Camera: Canon PowerShot AS590 IS
Lens: 4.3-215mm

Edited in Lightroom

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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

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Photography: My Shot – Yaquina Head Lighthouse

While hiking down the coast of Oregon, we enjoyed visiting a number of lighthouses along the picturesque coastline. A challenge photographers face when they arrive at such an area is that many other people want to enjoy the same view and that is a good thing!

The issue is how to capture a picture with as few distracting elements as possible. There have been several times when I have been at a prominent place in a national park where the scene was spectacular, but in the field of view there was a couple having lunch or a snack wearing bright orange or luminescent green garments.

Obviously this can be addressed by waiting for the people to move or fix it in post processing. In the picture below, there were a number of people, cars, RVs, etc.(middle right) that would prove problematic for the composition for reasons mentioned above. Rather than work on each piece in Photoshop, I decided to use a toned, black and white image (duotone) to maintain the focus on the distant lighthouse.

I hope it works as I thought it would!


Yaquina Head Lightouhse & Naural Area, Newport

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Metadata

File Name: oregon_coast_XT2A0212.RAF
Capture time: Sept. 11, 2017
Exposure: 1/30 sec @ f/13
Focal Length: 28.9mm
ISO: 200
Camera: Fuji X-T2
Lens: XF18-55mm, F2.8-4 R LM OIS

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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com