Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Papercraft in Review

 I realized that I've done a lot of  papercraft in the past year.

It all started with the stars.  For about two years, I'd been working with arrangements of stars working from inspirations in Islamic tile design, or zellij.  I had a notion that I'd be able to make zellij Christmas gifts out of dough with melted Life Savers.  The prototype runs I made were not a success.

I forget exactly how I bumped into The Artists' Pallet, but they had a Silhouette cutter-plotter that would cut designs out of paper for me.  I used InkScape to make a zellij design, cut it out, and glued the result into a cylinder.  Voila! Instant votive lamps.

My Dad's birthday is in January, so it was an easy jump to make a birthday votive using a different design based on triskellions.

Arrangements of stars still continued to be an obsession.  I'd used Blender and created some virtual 3D models of the stars and decagrams used in the Christmas votives and then rendered them into background screens.

Looking at them day after day, I started to fold them in my head and realized that I could probably fold a star mesh into various platonic solids.  I started out with an octahedron, and managed to fold up a icosahedron.

Once I had a star globe, it was a moral imperative that I pose as a Burne-Jones painting.

My sister's birthday is in February.  Julie likes fishing and she quilts.  For my birthday, she'd made me a fish quilt (which I like very much).  I thought she'd like a similar design, and I figured out a kind of light box with nested tessellating fish in it.

On to Mother's day!   I returned to the cylinder design and filled a hot pink page with mostly cut-out butterflies.  The design was hexagonal, which meant I could play games with alternating butterflies circling around common centers.

I put a smaller blue cylinder inside, which made things purple, and added a few butterflies from a second pink page.

We were having an Opera Themed Birthday party.  I wanted to go as Orpheus, so I designed a laurel wreath to wear.   I printed out six or so leaves which overlapped and then discovered that the ends of one leaf would slide through the cut-out veins of another set.  I was able to roll the leaves into a extended spiral, lock them together, and then glue them in place.

There weren't too many opportunities for decorative paper arts until my Mom's birthday came around.  I wanted make something that was kind of Japanese.  Mark said that the result looked like either a Parcheesi board or else like a kind of Bauhaus-Edo thing.  However, I'd managed to get the color scheme right, and Mom liked it.

At some point I decided that I really needed an Egyptian Eye of Horus for my new office.  I wanted something like the Eye of God over Saint Teresa of Avila... at least I think that's the name of the sculpture.  I could never quite find the photo I'd seen once on the internet or in an art book or something.

For Halloween, I'd been fiddling around with bats.  I thought that it would be easy to map a circle of bats to a polygon, but then I realized that I'd made a clockwise circle... which meant that the design was chiral... which meant I had to really think about how I was going to put the bats together without getting them crossed instead of overlapping.

Since last Christmas had been so successful, I decided to do the Twelve Days of Christmas.  The Partridge came out nicely, as well as some of the other birds, which lulled me into a false sense of security about working with the other designs.  Which were hard.  My biggest difficulty was getting carried away with microscopic details--some of which would work if I were using the whole 12 inch square paper, but which resulted in mangled sheets if I scaled them down too far.

My favorite non-bird design was the Twelve Drummer's drum.

Working on the Twelve Days became sort of like--well, like work.  So to take a break from them, for fun I started to work with a reindeer design I had.  I had a favorite paper punch which stopped working, so I used that as a base, fixed the horns, and then played with various leg placements.  The result was a reindeer trifold.

These turned out to be more successful than the 12 days.   Which was a good thing, because snow and ice pretty much shut down Eugene for a week, and I was only able to create enough of these because they were less involved to print than the Twelve Days.

Monday, December 30, 2013

MET Friends: Hatshepsut

I usually visit the Egyptian Wing when I visit the MET.  After the Crown of a Harkonian Princess, and the scarabs, I find myself drawn to Hatshepsut, and I consider her one of my "MET Friends."

For good or for ill, her name always brings to my mind the opening line from a Saturday morning show, "The Secrets of Isis," which started out with an announcer intoning "'Oh my queen,' said the Royal Sorceror to Queen Hatshepsut, 'with this amulet, you will fly...'"  I usually can't help myself from whispering "Almighty Isis-isis-isis" in the gallery.

Whoever sculpted Hatshepsut captured a dynamic expression while implying that the throne on which she sits is confining her.  Maybe it's the poise, which seems formal and slightly relaxed. 

The gallery where Hatshepsut sits has high windows, so the lighting can change dramatically depending on if the morning sun is slanting in, or if it's overcast, or if the city-shine from other buildings is lighting the room. 

When I see Hatshepsut, it's easy for me to imagine that she's thinking, "I want to rise and dance."  But she can't, the power of the throne is too strong for her, so she remains seated.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Heisenberg's Airplane

Thursday, December 19th.  

The Arrival

So there I am, on a flight from Eugene to Newark via Salt Lake City.  Getting up at 3AM wasn't so bad and I'm sort of resting, sort of writing, sort of reading.

And then a 19year old girl behind me started groaning with abdominal pain.  The flight attendants started having a conversation with the girl's mother, and phrases like "I had appendicitis, and it hurt right there," were thrown around.  Then a passenger identified herself as a doctor; after a short series of questions, she said, "It's definitely not appendicitis; you might have an infected kidney or a pulled spinal muscle."  More questions flew back and forth between Mom and Daughter:  "Did you feel this way before we left?  Did you take something for it?"

EMTs in SLC were arranged.   Then the airport closed because of snow and freezing rain.  Then they were going to let us land.  Then there was a cargo plane that skidded off the end of a runway, and they closed again.  Then we were going to circle around.  And around.  And around.  And then we were low on fuel, and got diverted to Provo.

While all this was happening, the doctor wanted to give the 19 year old some Super Advil, but the flight attendants were concerned about medical waivers and then the doctor worried that she'd be delayed and miss her connection.  The flight attendants were also wanting the doctor to use their regular Advil from the airplane's medical kit.

We landed at at Provo, a very small airport that serves Brigham Young University.  We were going to stay in the plane.  By this time the attendance simply gave away all the food supplies they had.  More planes flew in, and they had us deplane.  I had a notion that we wouldn't have to go through airport security, but I found out later that as soon as our feet touched the ground, TSA would have their way with us.

9:51AM:  SLC snowed in & we're refueling in Provo. Expecting delays once we're at SLC.

About two hundred people crammed into the building and sat anywhere they could.  The SLC airport was still closed.  I tentatively suggested to one woman we could all sing Christmas carols and the suggestion was not well received.   I managed to find some outlets and charge up various devices.  Then the airline was sending busses to take us from Provo to SLC.

10:10AM:   SLC closed for 2 hours. May be bussed back to SLC from Provo.

Our luggage eventually appeared in the outside Quonset hut for checked bags.  Newspaper cameramen appeared and started taking pictures of everyone sitting on roll-on suitcases and steps and standing in lines.  There's nothing like a news camera taking pictures of you to make you feel like a refugee.  And folks fleeing in $80 to $100 taxis didn't help.  I decided that I should wait outside for the buses, where the flight attendants were standing, under the drive-up awning.  
While we were waiting outside, someone suggested that I should do a weather dance because I was wearing the grey-green cloak.  I threatened to bring out cutout reindeer and invoke the spirit of Rudolph, but the flight attendants thought that might bring in the wrong kind of weather.  

The first bus pulled up to the awning.  Provo's single airport cop reminded folks to be polite and NOT RUSH THE BUS like some Christmas Apocalypse Zombie Movie.  Then we were on the bus.  I crammed my cary-on into the seat with me and people piled in.  The second bus appeared as ours was pulling out.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure what happened to the 19 year old appendicitis patient and her mother.  I'm not sure if there was a miraculous recovery or if they were whisked away or whatever.

SLC airport is about an hour from the Provo airport.  It was kind of odd to be on a bus full of Eugenians in between Provo and Salt Lake City.  The roads were snowy and icy, and our bus passed at least three accidents where cars had slid around into each other and off of the guardrail.  

We made the airport without incident.  I lost the flight attendants somewhere, but I managed to zip through security and get to the departing gate for my connecting flight.  It had been delayed five hours, so I hadn't missed it and had enough time to find some food.

By this time, I had had some airline cookies, an orange juice, a small Coke, and some peanuts and raisins.  Which meant that I had a raging caffeine withdrawal headache.  I am not looking forward to a post-tea apocalypse.  I staggered to a local looking food bar and before I could speak, the first words out of the cashier's mouth were, "We're out of beef, so you'll have to order chicken."  As I located the chicken menu and placed my order, my thoughts were, "And so it begins:  They're running out of supplies."

The Departures (yes, that's plural)

1:57PM:  In SLC.  My flight is delayed. Expected departure 3PM (in an hour).

As I sat down in the waiting area by the gate, a gate agent got on the PA and announced, "Well, folks, I'm sorry to do this to you, but our plane is at another gate.  We could bring the plane here, but there are no free gates, so it's easier--and quicker--to get you to the plane.  It's a gate B3."  We were at gate C-something.  This was the last of several gate changes that had happened during the day. 

Then they let us on the plane.

3PM:  On the plane. Oy vey, it's like a sauna in here.  Should be taking off soon.

Like clockwork, passengers entered the plane and said, "Oh my God, it's hot in here."  I think it was 85F.  People took off their layers of snow jackets and scarves.  And started to sweat.

3:44PM:  Still on ground in SLC.  Everyone has boarded except the pilots :-(
When we boarded, the gate agent told us there was a crew.  This was not exactly true; there were flight attendants, but no pilots.  So we continued to sit in the 85F airplane on the ground at the gate.  Eventually, the flight attendants passed through the cabin handing out cups and bottled water.  I turned my barf bag into a cat puppet to amuse the one and two-year old children of the Obligatory Mother Traveling Alone.

4:08PM:  Pilots on the ground and in a plane... just not our plane... [they're] waiting for [a] gate.

About this time, I texted Mark (who was traveling with a different airline) not to wait for me in Newark.  The snow and ice not only kept the airplanes on the ground, but effectively kept the ground crews from driving into work.  So there was a shortage of drivers for those little carts that push planes away from the gates.  Which meant there were precious few gates for the planes that were already stacked up from the two hour airport closure earlier.

4:47PM:  Pilots on plane.  Half the passengers forming lynch mob, half just want to leave.  I'm with the half that wants to get a pilot license and fly the plane ourselves.  Door closed, now we wait for de-icing.

The first thing the pilot said when he entered was, "Oh my, folks; it's really hot in here.  We'll turn on the air conditioning and cool you down."  I'm not sure why one needs a pilot's license to crank up a plane's AC, but there you go.

The snow and ice also prevented deliveries of things like cookies, pretzels, peanuts and water.  So the pilots were stalling and doing flight checks waiting for supplies... which never came.  Eventually, the grumblings of the passengers must have been too loud in the cockpit, because we pushed away.

6:01 PM:  SLC just closed the runways while were were waiting to de-ice. Plane heading back to gate.  Passengers riotous.  
The airport closed, and we were waiting for a cart to push us back to an open gate (if any).  Then passengers noticed other planes were taking off.  This caused the pilot to get onto the plane's PA...

6:55PM:  Then one foggy Solstice Eve, the FAA came to say, Rudolf with your nose so bright, you've exceeded your duty cycle tonight.

...with the news that he and his co-pilot had been piloting planes for so long that they had reached the end of their FAA duty cycle, meaning it was no illegal for them to fly the plane.   I think seat-belts probably saved lives that night.

We got back to a gate.  First they told us we could deplane and leave our stuff in the bins, then they changed their minds and told us to take everything off.

So.  When the plane left the first time, the SLC airport computer thought our plane was in the air.  We--and by we I mean the passengers and the gate agents--hadn't quite figured this out.  Our first clue should have been when the gate agent had me draw our flight departure information on a white piece of paper she subsequently taped to the kiosk's departure monitor because our flight information was showing up incorrectly on the boards--wrong gate, wrong time--if it showed up at all.

People started to lose it.  Some clumped together in search of a bar.  An unofficial spokesperson was supported in her venting because she was saying what a lot of people were feeling:  "I'm stressed out; and don't make promises you can't keep, because I'm near the point where I no longer believe anything you say."

Everyone with mobile devices started checking e-mail, the airline's web site, or IMing.
The coolest thing I saw was when a grandma type insisted on playing for a servicewoman's dinner at the local beef-less bar.

I got a sandwich and a salad (which tasted like the expiration date on it was wrong).  Then I went to a little store across the way and purchased Advil and one of those cute little round pillow-donut things so I could actually sleep on the plane without getting too much of a crick in my neck.

At the gate's seating, there was the obligatory person using two outlets for devices that will plug into (and charge each other).  Businessmen tried to game the system.  One woman started surfing the Department of Transportation web site to build a case for a full refund.  And the toddlers sort of played with each other in the seating area where the parents herded together.

After a while some of the passengers, who had been waiting at the gate since the original 10 AM departure time, discovered that their emergency re-bookings had been cancelled by the airline computer when the plane originally left the gate.  They wanted to chuck it and simply take Friday's flight, but since it was now Thursday evening before The Weekend Before Christmas, all the seats had instantly filled.

Our new departure time was 9PM.  Since I didn't have to make a connecting flight, I could afford to be serene about it all and cat nap.

9:44PM:  Still at the gate.  Haven't boarded.  Heisenberg's Airplane should leave at 10:30 (about 35 minutes).
Our new crew was having difficulty driving into the airport.  By this time the departure time had been moved back three times and the passengers were pretty much ready for torches and pitchforks.  OK, there was applause when the last crew member appeared... and then it was time for us to pick up our bags and carry-ons and children and get on the plane.

The first first-class passenger's boarding pass made the boarding pass reader beep in denial.  The gate agent frowned at it, typed something on her keyboard, and waved the first passenger through.  After the third passenger was denied, she started checking us off with a pencil and a printed out passenger manifest.

As we trundled down the ramp, people shouted out fake announcements:  "Oh. Airport's closed; sorry,"  "D'oh.  De-icer's closed; we're turning back."  "Ooop! Reindeer on the runway; we can't leave."

10:32PM:  We've boarded.  Waiting for provisions.  Have pilots and flt attendants.  Betting happening over de-icing and runways.

Once again, we were sitting on the plane and waiting for water and cookies.  There were suggestions to leave without the damn water.   Then the PA clicked on.  "Hello ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot; I'm standing at the front of the plane so you can see that I'm not hiding..."

10:56PM:  The airport computer thinks we already left (because we went out to get de-iced and came back), so now the tower can't schedule us to actually leave (to get de-iced again).
"...the gate agent says that the tower is working on getting us cleared and that should take five minutes, but that was five minutes ago and it still hasn't happened.  I'll let you know when I have more information."

Eventually we did push away from the gate and get de-iced.  Since it was about 11:20 PM, the de-icing was extra theatrical, with lights illuminating the steam and whatever (probably toxic) chemical they sprayed the plane's wings with.

I mostly slept through the flight.

5:28AM:  Getting off plane (doors open soon) not sure which [Newark] terminal...

We all filed off the airplane.  Our flight was officially delayed twelve hours.  I waited for Mark to pick me up near the baggage area.  Occasionally, I would see fellow passengers as they told their horror story to outraged kith and kin.  We'd stop, wave, wish each other happy holidays, and then the stories continued.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

John Does the MET (Again)

Sunday night (Dec 22), Mark suggested that I go to the MET the next day.  So I did.
The next day, I navigated the busses and the metro-line and got to the MET (after getting a little turned around and walking past the Guggenheim) around 10:15.  

Visiting the MET is like visiting old friends, and I wish that I could go with Mark or someone, but it is nice to be able to just go into whatever gallery you wish.  This time around I visited (surprise!) the Egyptian Gallery, Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim,  the Islamic wing, and the Ancient Near Eastern Wing.  

Egyptian Wing

 I took photos of my crown, and Queen Hatshepsut in the Egyptian Wing. 
 I took a moment to sketch a scarab.  I wanted to see how the legs worked on this particular one (from a monument to Rameses), especially the middle legs.  I got the thorax a little too long, but otherwise I thought my drawing worked.

For fun, I like to visit the artifact wings behind the main displays.  The royal stuff is nice, but it's interesting to see how many common tools (and charms) there are and how the craftsmanship changes over the centuries.  My favorite out-of-the-way artifact were the men presenting shrines--there was a nurturing masculine feel to some of them, and I appreciate the skill that went into carving manly arms.

The Temple of Dendura was a mob scene by 11AM, so I looked from a distance.  

Medieval Wing

The Neapolitan Christmas Tree was up.  I would have taken pictures of the spotlit angels, but I didn't have a tripod.  I always have difficulties photographing things in the medieval wing because of the dim lighting, but I managed to get some Gospel Animals (the Bull and the Lion) and an over-the-top baptismal font.  I also managed to get details on some angel wing feathers to study for future paper cut-out designs.

Next visit, I want to spend more time in the Medieval and Renaissance Wings; I like the miniatures and wish there were more artifacts that weren't a Madonna and Child or martyrdom -- I like the animalistic firedogs, faucets, candlesticks and door handles.  I briefly visited the masterpiece locks and chests, and took a moment to appreciate the pocket sundials.  

American Wing

I'd thought I might have a snack here, but the snack bar and the sculpture garden was mobbed, which reduced the appeal of both the snacks the statues.  

 I finally managed to get a good shot of the Tiffany tile work.  What I like about this is how the tiles manage to make the a interweaving knot pattern with squares and circles.  It looks like a film strip turning around on itself.  The squares making up the edge artfully turn into wedges in order to let the filmstrips loop into circles.

I walked by the decorative arts and said hello to the Viking Punchbowl, the Silver Triton Boat, and the Bunnies! Fondu Pot.  Near these was a trophy with a peacock-feathers-and-squares motif running along the top:  I took a detail of this to study because I've always had difficulty designing peacock feathers.  Some time when the museum is calmer, I'd like to come back and photograph more.

Islamic Art & Ancient Near East

In the Islamic Wing (new to me), I managed to see some Zellij work up close, which let me appreciate the intricate arabesque work within some of the tiles more.  And there's something to be said also for being able to see larger works from far away (some really do work a lot better far away than up close).  Garish large tiles up close blend to something pleasant when far away.  While I enjoyed the knot-works very much, my favorite display was a receiving room which had many designs done with mostly square tiles -- many variations using eight- and twelve-fold symmetry.   

I found another crown, which I would wear in a New York Second.  I particularly like the dangling pendant work.

The Islamic Wing is next to the Ancient Near East Wing, so I visited The Elamite Cow and the Sun Cart and other artifacts from Anatolia.  Once again I got blurry photos of the Assyrian Guardian.  

On the down side, Christmas week is not exactly the best time to visit the MET and have the galleries to yourself.  The main hall filled up quickly, and the shopping was a bit frantic.  I got some gifts for others and three books for myself:  one on the Unicorn Tapestry, one on Islamic Design and Culture, and one on the Jewels of the Romanovs.  The first two the Eugene Library has, and I wanted my own copy.  The last one reminded me of Mark, and I got it with him in mind.

I thought about hanging out until the museum closed, but I had pretty much filled up my camera and I did't want to go through the subway system and Port Authority Bus Terminal in the Five O'clock Hour, so I left shortly after four.  My travel kung-fu was at an ebb this visit; not only did I get turned around and wind up at the Guggenheim coming in, I missed the closer subway entrance on Lexington, and ended up walking a little farther than I wanted.   But still, I managed to haul my catch successfully to the the Port Authority Bus Terminal and eventually to Suffern.

More photos are here:  https://plus.google.com/photos/104081709962934753879/albums/5960798179917170241?authkey=CN-zk-zShYDZBQ

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Silent Fright

My sister hates this angel.  I'm not sure why.  I think it frightens her.

I, of course, always loved this particular angel, and for decades made sure that she was always ensconced at the very top of the tree.  I liked her because she was angel that wasn't too cute, or saccharine, or blonde-and-blue-eyed.  I liked her because she seemed like she was beautiful without being pretty.  I liked her because of the small silver star on her brow, which made her a kind of Tolkien character.

We still have this angel, and she still is near the top of the tree, but she's been supplanted by a big star bought on sale at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Tree Moon

 One of the traditions in our family is finding a new ornament in one's stocking.  From that point on, it becomes part of a constellation of things that are "yours," and which you're expected to put on the family tree.  There's a group of instruments, of mice, of banners, and a bunch of commemorative globes. 

For a while, I was getting lunar-themed ornaments, and one year, I got this moon decoration.   I like the blue color on it, and the face is a little more friendly than some of the other moons'.  It's also one of the more photogenic ornaments less likely to confuse my camera's auto-focus.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bishop of Bling?

One of the things I do each holiday season is attempt to photograph Christmas Tree ornaments. My camera is great, but the tree lights confuse the auto-focus, as does any reflection off of metal. So, I have taken a lot of shots that came out blurry (thank goodness my camera is digital).

This year, I made this visual discovery. In the foreground is a bishop mouse that's been in the family since the 1970's.  I've always liked the bishop mouse, probably because it's wearing a purple cassock. Fast forward to a few years ago, when I saw a shopping-cart ornament, and knew that I had to add it to the collection we put on the tree.  Put them together, and suddenly you've got The Bishop of Bling.

Sadly, this year, I couldn't find the Holy Christmas Tarantula (with red and green ribbons) among the boxes of decorations.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The First Dream

 The other day, at the end of the Big Freeze that we had, I went outside and discovered that the sun had warmed the roof sufficiently to make some melted water run through our drains.  There's a short stretch where the runoff flows out of a gutter and into a drain that (presumably) runs to the sewer.  By this time, the temperatures had been in the teens for about five days, and the most of the water froze along the ground.  The gutter was encased in ice.

When I looked down, the water flowing over the ice and down the drain reminded me of the first dream I ever recalled.  I think I was about four, or maybe three at the time; but a potent sense of dream deja-vu hit me all the same.

In the dream, I'm floating over an icy river that is flowing between snowy banks.  The sound of flowing water is the only sound.  Sometimes I recall that one bank was green and summery.  But the water flows into an icy cave.  Everything by then is in Wintery black-and-white, and the water becomes rapids funneling into an ice-rhimed whirlpool.  I am not sure if I was floating in the water, or hovering above it -- the dream has a disembodied feel to it.  In any case, my four-year-old self did not want to go further into the swirly, icy, darkness, and that's pretty much where the dream ends.

At least it wasn't the reoccuring, never-ending countdown nightmare (no images, just one voice counting down from a random start with random intervals until a second voice yelled "ZERO!" and there'd be a sound like a piano smashing from a great height, accompanied by the knowledge that Something Horrible had happened, -- and then the countdown would start again, and again, and again...)  I used to have until I was about eight (whew).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holiday Craft Assembled

 I managed to get all of the Twelve Days of Christmas designs cut out on the craft shop's cutter-plotter.  Except the pipe for the 12 Pipers.  The week of snow and ice threw a monkey-wrench into my production schedule.

 I like the two turtledoves a lot.  This was the most quickly realized design; I sort of knew what I wanted to do and had Inkscape doing it in no time.  It translated to a cut-out nicely.

 After struggling forever with the four calling birds, I'm mostly pleased with how it came out.  The feet require that this be cut out of a six-inch square, otherwise the feet look like odd scratches in the paper (and the paper fibers are more likely to hang onto the design).

 Probably the family favorite.  Also simple to design and cut out.  What I like about this design is that it scales down on the cutter-plotter to a two-inch square.

 The Three French Hens.  I'm riding the boundary of resolution on the cutter plotter on this one, as evidenced by the wings.  As it was, I had to simplify the design about three times before I'd get something that wasn't a mangled mess.

Another family favorite.  Also scales down well.

 What the Goose, the Swan and the Partridge did was fool me into thinking I could do all of these easily.  The designs with people in them were much harder.

In terms of inducing feelings of being impressed with my own cleveness, I'd say the drum from the eleven drummers wins.  I could probably scale this one down to a four inch square, but it would be tricky going much smaller without running into problems with the blade catching on paper fibers and shredding the result.

As if I didn't already have too many designs to cut out and produce, I punched out a design with reindeer.  Three deer, cut out against a right triangle and then tri-folded.


Serendipitously, I discovered that three (or eight) of these put together made a wonderful centerpiece.

Add candles.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Ramparts of Ice

 It's been really cold in Eugene.

I walked into work, which was fun.  The university closed a little early Friday, and the streets have been very slippery. The ride on the bus home was interesting (and much longer than usual).
 I've had my obligatory sledding accident.  We nosed into a sidewalk curb instead of swooshing over it.   Luckily I haven't cracked my spine, so I have use of both legs -- although sitting is uncomfortable.
 Saturday was cold, dry and clear, and I went out with Mark's camera to take some pictures in "magic light."  Since we're about two weeks away from the Winter Solstice, from dawn to 9:30 AM and then from 3:30 PM to dusk we get lots of slanting, ruddy sunlight (at least when it's not cloudy).
 Obligatory water tower photograph.
 Sunset through the trees.
 We live within walking distance of the city reservoir up the hill, and I discovered that it's a giant, two-block large icicle machine.  Alas, I made this discovery at dusk.
 This frozen door reminded me of the door in C.S. Lewis's "The Last Battle."  I was getting cold (I had to take my gloves off to work the camera buttons, which were cold), and it was getting dark.  The moon was nice, but Mark's camera doesn't have a zoom lens.
 So... I forced myself to be up before dawn the next day.  I girded myself with extra layers--including fingerless gloves under thick ski gloves--topping it all off with the grey-green wool cloak.  The cloak came in handle for covering my less-gloved hand and the camera, and prevented frostbit fingers.
 At first, I thought the trees would block the sunlight going through the icicles.

 The moss was still green, and made a contrasting background for frosted spiderwebs.
 I think this is my favorite shot of the day.
 Mark's camera is thinner than mine, and I was able to get it behind the curtain of ice.

 After about fifty photos, I realized that I was taking the same picture over and over ... and... it's frozen water.  Also, the sun was getting higher and the light was loosing it's "magic" quality.  And my toes were freezing.
 I was trying to keep my hands from freezing, so I tried to refrain from taking more photos.  Yeah; right.  I thought a drain cover surrounded by snow was funny.
 I dusted the snow--it's dry and perfect for skiing--over the cover to bring out the salmon.
 Mark told me about a near-by holly tree.

 In other weather related news, Mark froze soap bubbles and took some photographs.  These are all his.
 Today's sun has been slowly melting the bubble from the bottom up.
 These are from about 10 AM.