What's Bill been up to? (In video!) by Gwil Evans

Our friend Gil Hartl, president of the industrial manufacturer, Linn Gear, in Lebanon, Oregon, provides us each year with a beautiful company calendar. The calendar is displayed just inside the door of our workshop. This year, I committed to populating each calendar grid with notes on that day’s projects here at Momiji-en. I had not appreciated just how rewarding those notes would be.

Looking back over 2017, almost every day has notes and, taken together, they are a valuable record of the order in which we attended to plant materials. When did we prune arborvitae hedges? Or convex holly tamamono? Or pine trees? Or hinoki cypress? And so forth.

As I made daily notes, I became ever more aware that what Bill was engaged in deserved capture. Beyond the calendar, there were photographic opportunities, too, so I kept a Nikon handy in the workshop where it was easy to grab the camera to document Bill at work.

Then the eclipse came along in August. That event prompted me to employ our wonderful Sony HD video camera that had been sidelined for too long (simply by my inattention). After its use capturing the marvelous eclipse events at Momiji-en, I found myself re-engaged with creating video. And what better use than documenting that which is right at hand. I’ve thought of my video theme as: “What’s Bill been up to?”

Now that cool, wet weather has set in, I’ve turned to Final Cut Pro for editing the video I shot of Bill at work in late summer and early autumn. It was my pleasure to share with friends on Thanksgiving an early edit of “Evolving the karesansui garden.” It’s a six-minute story of how Bill changed the design of the foreground we see from our garden room. I invite you to see the more-refined final version. It’s at:

Evolving the karesansui garden

(Best viewed on a computer or tablet. And full screen—once Vimeo opens, click the little symbol in the lower right corner of the movie screen.)

And I solicit your thoughts after you’ve seen it. That’s my reward!



The eclipse brings me back to posting! by Gwil Evans

Bill and I first learned in early 2016 that the south Willamette Valley would be among the first places in the United States to experience a total eclipse of the sun. We were so advised by the general manager of Boulder Falls Hotel in Lebanon, Oregon, as she was already preparing to host guests for the August 21, 2017, event. We made mental note of it, but it wasn't until more than a year later we began to appreciate the significance. That's when Oregonians started preparing to host what were said to be more than a million visitors, all of whom were coming our way just to see totality.

Still, we were unprepared for what totality meant! But we bought sun-viewing glasses from Amazon. (Only to have the first three pair recalled when Amazon said they couldn't confirm the glasses met standards.) We bought more glasses!

And Bill began asserting that we had to have cameras ready. This prompted me to retrieve our Sony high definition video camera to complement the Nikons we intended to have ready for time-lapse assignments. As the August 21 Monday approached, we practiced with the cameras to ensure confidence in how we would have them positioned and the controls properly set to document what would happen.

We invited our friend and neighbor Mike Fisher to join us in observing what--in retrospect--none of us were fully prepared for: The awesomeness of totality!

We began the day with Bloody Mary cocktails in the teahouse and regularly stepped outside to view the progress of the moon's covering the sun. I was so happy we had suitable glasses. Those views alone were fascinating. As darkness unfolded, temperatures dropped. Six degrees in less than an hour, according to our Davis weather system. But then totality arrived. As it did, cheers erupted from hundreds of viewers gathered less than a block away in Cloverland Park.

As totality passed (one minute 37 seconds), Mike, Bill, and I began to exchange perspectives on our amazement at what we had just experienced.

It is now about 18 days since that marvelous display by Mother Nature. In that time, I've spent more hours in front of my computer screen than I had ever expected. Drawing together media into Final Cut Pro and producing what has turned out to be a seven-minute capture of our day's experience of totality. I invite you to share our experience of that magical moment. Here's the link to the movie on Vimeo. For best results, view this on a computer rather than on a phone or tablet. And, before you begin, click on the little gear wheel in the lower right corner. Instead of "Auto", select "720p". Then expand the window (arrows next to the gear wheel) to full screen. Enjoy!

Late winter rain and wind by Gwil Evans

It's rainy in Corvallis today (March 9) and forecast to be extremely windy overnight. The daffodils are getting beaten down by all this rain and wind; camellias and white star magnolias in full bloom turn brown prematurely. Too bad! Blossoms in our garden are otherwise quite pleasant right now!