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Armida Evony
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Armida Evony

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I liked the part about being sprinkled with water from a soggy laurel branch. Reminds me of flower photography ...
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I'd say so!! 
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The Spectre of the Rose

Open your closed eyelids,
lightly touched by a maiden's dream;
I am the ghost of the rose
that you wore to the ball last night.
You plucked me while I was still pearly
with the silvery tears of the watering can,
and all around the glittering party
you paraded me under the stars.

To you, who brought about my death,
(for to chase death away is not possible)
every night my rose-colored phantom 
will appear at your bedside, and dance.
But fear not, for I am owed
neither mass nor De Profundis.
This fragile perfume is my soul,
and I've come here from paradise.

My destiny was to be envied.
And to suffer such a lovely fate
more than one would have gladly died:
for your breast became my grave,
and on the alabaster where I repose
a poet, with a soft kiss, 
has written, "here lies the rose
who even emperors would envy."

This poem by Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was set to music by Hector Berlioz in 1841. The ghost of a rose that a young girl wore to her first ball comes to her in a dream, with luscious overblown nineteenth-century sensuality. It got stuck in my head today while I was taking pictures of roses, and I decided to experiment with trying to make a rose look ghostly. I came up with a few different versions, which I may post as a "pick your favorite" poll. 

If you'd like to hear the music, here is a version sung by Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter and conducted by Marc Minkowski https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFT4SZx2EE0 Warning: this is over-the-top romanticism in every way. If you don't like opera, give it a miss. Even if you do like opera, I recommend listening only and not watching the video :) 

French text: http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Le_Spectre_de_la_Rose. The translation is not precise, it's an atmospheric singer's version with the spirit of the music in mind. 
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Armida Evony's profile photoElisabeth Schabus's profile photoPietro Montevecchio's profile photo
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You'll be welcomed. Both of you, though the order of iceland rocks is far more harmonious than those of the buildings in Piazza Duomo. ;))
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Armida Evony

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Happy Monday
Wishing you a colorful day :)
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;-) +Armida Evony
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Armida Evony

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Timothy Street's profile photoNina Jenrich Lind's profile photoMark Rösel's profile photoArmida Evony's profile photo
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Yes! Take them, please! They have been up to unspeakable mischief lately .. spring fever I guess ..... 
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Armida Evony

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Easy Eggs for Dyeing

I shared this last year. It's an alternative method to hard-boiling eggs. For me, this is much easier than messing with a giant pot of boiling water. I'm aware that many of you already have a preferred method, involving a giant pot of boiling water, which is easier for you. But in case there are any other moms and dads, gnome wranglers or alien visitors out there who would like to try it, here is a quick and easy way to prepare "hard-boiled" eggs in bulk, which does not involve large pots of boiling water. If your eggs develop small dark dots during baking, they can be wiped off easily. Enjoy!! 

325 degrees F
bake for 30 minutes  
use a muffin pan
cool in ice water

btw, I'm not sure this works as well if you want to peel the eggs and use them in a recipe. Apparently some people have problems peeling them. With eggs, unlike people, both size and age matter ;)
How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs in the Oven. Boiling eggs is for your grandma. This way is so deliciously fool-proof that the entire article could be, "Throw them in the oven." But don't do that. Avoid the boiling water and the timers and the...
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Dirk Puehl's profile photoKatherine Bond's profile photoMark Rösel's profile photoArmida Evony's profile photo
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Apparently they can be so concrete-like that they're hard to detach from the shell +Mark Rösel! But I agree .. I don't always hard boil eggs, but when I do, I don't want them to ooze!
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Armida Evony

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Consider the Source

This is not an April Fool's Day post, but I thought it was an appropriate time to share it. 

A recent (March 2015) Google research paper explores the possibility of weighting page ranking in the direction of factual accuracy. I really like this concept .. because it's getting to the point where almost every Google search overwhelms us with junk sites, sensationalized clickbait articles and skewed reporting of studies which were skewed in the first place. Even for an educated, web-savvy person, it's exhausting to filter the flow of information on some of the current complex issues in the news. Many of us don't have time to check out every single interesting article or study for bias, misreporting or inaccuracies. It's getting to the point where I don't trust anything I read online. Which is unfortunate.

"The aim is to create “web-source quality–knowledge-based trust.” I hope this becomes an actual Google project. 
New hoaxes and misinformation crop up on the Internet every day, and it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. This is especially true on the most popular platforms, but help may be on the way. Facebook, for one, has been working on reducing the spread of phony news...
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Elisabeth Schabus's profile photoTimothy Street's profile photoArmida Evony's profile photoPeter Lanner's profile photo
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Is that Elisabeth?
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Armida Evony

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Pssssst!!! Yes, you!
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Armida Evony's profile photoMark Rösel's profile photoSami Hurmerinta's profile photoUsha Pillai's profile photo
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Looks delicate.
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Armida Evony

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For the Birds

I had an upsetting experience today. Decided to clean up our covered patio area, which includes a built-in grill. I was wiping dust off the grill cover when to my horror, a tiny bird flew out from under it and a couple of eggs fell to the stone floor and broke. The bird, which I have since learned is a Bewick's Wren, built its nest inside the fitted vinyl (?) grill cover. The nice lady at my neighborhood birdwatching/feeding store identified the type of bird as soon as I started to explain what had happened. Apparently they prefer cozy, hidden areas for nesting .. which is fine .. as long as their human neighbors don't plan to barbecue anytime soon. I am terrified of gas grills anyway, so this is the perfect excuse not to turn it on :) 

I haven't actually seen the nest, which presumably is still tucked into the corner of the grill cover, since I was afraid to cause any more damage or scare the mom into abandoning her nest. Crossing my fingers that I just tilted it a bit and there are still some eggs left. She did duck back under the grill cover a while after the disaster and I saw her going back and forth several times later, so that's a hopeful sign. 

I've found three other nests (all different varieties) in my yard so far, and one of them (house finches) has actually hatched, because I can hear the babies chirping and the parents are frantically rushing around trying to find food. 

I decided that the traumatized wren parents-to-be deserved a treat, so I bought them some live mealworms and left them on the grill counter. They prefer insects, but worms were the best I could do. Also got a tasty mealworm suet cake to hang in the strawberry tree, which apparently is the Bird Supermarket.

I'm hoping this will make life a little easier for the busy bird parents that share my yard :) And as much as I admire my talented photographer friends who capture birds .. I doubt I'll even try to get any pictures of mine. I have enough trouble focusing on subjects that can't fly away!
In dry thickets and open woods of the west, this is often a very common bird. Pairs of Bewick's Wrens (pronounced like "Buick") clamber about actively in the brush, exploring tangles and bark crevices, waving their long tails about, giving harsh scolding notes at any provocation. In the east, this species is far less common, and it has vanished from most of its former range east of the Mississippi River.
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Dirk Reul's profile photoNina Jenrich Lind's profile photoArmida Evony's profile photoGari Fowler's profile photo
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Aww, +Nina Jenrich Lind​, you're so nice. It is heartwarming to realize how many bird lovers I have in my circles!
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Armida Evony

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Fruit in Training

My micro-orchard has begun setting eensy-weensy fruit. So exciting! It always seems miraculous, but especially this year, since I'm still discovering all the secrets of the garden I inherited. The gnomes and I hope you enjoy these future grapes, plums in progress and strawberry tree fruits (the ones that look like alien water balloons) Bonus: the 5x1 apple tree I planted (5 varieties grafted onto a single dwarfing root stock) has just burst into bloom, so you get a sneak preview! 
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Melanie Bagtas's profile photoSrinivasarao Salipalli's profile photoJesus Leon's profile photoMark Phelan's profile photo
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dun dun duuun!
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Armida Evony

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Happy Easter - Gleðilega páska - Hyvää pääsiäistä
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Lucia Abonandi's profile photoArmida Evony's profile photoOlli Näsi's profile photoSilvi Lillepruun's profile photo
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:) +Oviek Wernicke​
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Armida Evony

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Icelandic Word of the Day:
viðnámsþrótt
Translation: resilient
Pronunciation: vittth-noms-sthroat (sorry. two different th's in one word overloads my American circuitry)

Dandelions are a good role model in some ways .. they don't try to camouflage themselves or be accommodating, they're always visible. They stand back up if you step on them. They keep blooming for a couple of days even when squirted with weedkiller (not by me, of course). And then they make as much of an impact and a legacy as possible before they die .. 

I'm experimenting with close-to-the-ground camera support options. There are a lot, and all of them are problematic, even with gnomes to (grudgingly) assist. Wondering how hard it would be to mount a focus rail to one of those beanbag lap desk thingies. Lying in the grass is also a great way to get acquainted with the many different types of bugs that live in my garden .... 
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Katherine Bond's profile photoOviek Wernicke's profile photoMark Rösel's profile photoArmida Evony's profile photo
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Hmmm that looks pretty cool +Mark Rösel! I just got a so-called "tabletop tripod" which turned out to be gnome-sized :/ It was so small, I lost it in the packaging and almost threw away the box! Definitely not up to the big camera, especially with all-metal lenses, sigh. Thanks for the recommendation!
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Armida Evony

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Poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep ...

Today was my first experience using a macro lens in a field of flowers. It was a lovely óvart (Icelandic vocabulary points!) to come upon these clusters of vivid California poppies and deep purple lavender along Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. I was really only there for a walk, to admire the beautiful Victorian houses and the ocean, but I'm so glad I grabbed my camera and took it along. No bag of gadgets, no tripod .. and nothing to shade the LCD from the full sun either .. so it was a wild impulsive adventure. Crouching in a flower bed next to a bike/running path resulted in plenty of encouraging remarks and stares, and I got licked by three friendly dogs! My shots were all over the map in terms of exposure and focus, but I had a fantastic time taking them. And after all that, I was totally ready to lie down in the poppy field and take a nap .. hmm .. didn't that happen in a movie? ;)
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Amy Knepper's profile photoEllen Hanlon's profile photoKatherine Bond's profile photoDeyana Deco's profile photo
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+Armida Evony thank you :) glad you like my art! hope you'll have the chance to photograph the Icelandic poppy too. Look forward to seeing more of your beautiful flowers :)
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Introduction
Hi there! I'm the mom of two fascinating and funny boys, ages 9 and 15, who are polar opposites. I am passionate about encouraging kids to read and encouraging families to volunteer together. I take a lot of bad pictures, read a lot of books, and have extremely feisty gnomes living in my garden. I like to sing along, loudly, with a wide variety of music including baroque opera, country, metal and various quirky icelandic bands. I wish I could speak Icelandic or Finnish .. but at least I am a power user of Google Translate. My current fantasy is to find a sod-roofed hut in Iceland as a vacation home, and invite G+ friends to HIRL there with me. Sadly, I do not actually own the boots in my profile pic because they are custom-made and were no longer avaiIable by the time I found the link .. but .. I do have a lot of boots :) I am a real person, but I don't share pictures of myself publicly. My profile .. my choice. I'm an untypical California girl (Bay Area brunette, carnivore, don't drink wine or coffee) and tend to find nerds and vikings very sexy. And finally ... I totally have a crush on Finland. Yes, the country. Ask me why.

I mostly decide to circle people back from seeing their comments on posts (mine or other people's) and thinking we could have an interesting conversation. Please introduce yourself, I look forward to getting to know you! 
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Queen of the Gnomes