Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 291: Fritz's Fruit

To the farmer's market for fresh fruit today.

Oh.  yum.

Nothing says summer more than Fritz's being open.  The kids had been looking forward to the Fritz's outing all last week, and it was better than being in a candy store. 

Corner View, funnily enough, was about summer today.  So you can head over to Jane's and see check out other summery corner views.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 290: Queen Anne Take 2

Green lace.

Course, it means it has all gone to seed and I'm going to have a whole yard of the stuff next year. 

Not sure how I really feel about that, pretty as it is!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 289: What's with...

...this bit of lettuce which, year after year, continues to sprout underneath a railing where for one year we had a window box where we tried--and failed--to make lettuce grow.  The next year, and again this year, it has reseeded itself and grown in a little crack in the concrete by the back steps.  It seriously mocks my gardening ability.  Give it good soil and love and it wouldn't grow.  Give it a crack and no dirt whatsoever, and it thrives.  I tell ya, I'm getting a bit tired of the attitude around here.  I should show it a thing or two and pull it out.  But its stubborness is kind of endearing, and it's up with even more vigor than last year.  I kinda want to see how it'll do next year.  Maybe I can get a whole salad.  Better yet, market a concrete crack gardening concept.  It'll be the next big "Only Seen on TV" thing, right next to the Topsy Turvey Tomato planter.

Saw this out there, too.

And what, may I ask, is with the digital busy-ness of the photos taken with my new lens on aperture priority?  Just noticed it on these, since it's my first time using that particular setting.  Definitely something to check out tomorrow.  Wonder if it set the ISO really high or something for some reason.  Hmn.  Fingers crossed it was just a weird auto thing. 

OK.  After that ramble, of which I know you hung on to every word (HA!!) I'll leave you.  It's bedtime.  After I Frontline the cats.  Edifying, isn't it? 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 288: Poor, dear, little nuthatch.

Even in death, beauty.  

This poor little nuthatch tried taking a shortcut through our kitchen window.  I wasn't sure whether to take a photo or not, and sat next to the bird for quite a while, marvelling at the beauty in the pattern of its breast feathers, before going inside for my camera.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 287: Today's Did-Done List

It has been a full day.  Here's our "did-done" list:

Garage sale shopping, where we found a chair that will hopefully work for J's desk.

Realized when we got back in the car and drove to the pet store for pet meds that I didn't have my bank card.

Back home to get the card.

Decided to forego the pet store until Monday.

To Prince Gallitzen State Park for an afternoon of swimming.  It was windy.  I froze.  The kids did not.  They played in the water for three hours, completely oblivious to their mother's chattering teeth.

On the way out of the park, we stopped at the playground.  Somehow on the slides A wacked J in the eye with his hand.  J freely admits that it was an accident.  But her eye really hurt.  Hemmed and hawed and tried to convince her to wait until Monday, but realized it really WAS  hurting a lot, since she didn't want to cry coz the tears made it hurt worse.  So we quit the park and headed back to town.

Dropped A off at some friends while J and I headed to the ER.  Nicely scratched cornea  Incidentally, the drops that turn scratches green under ultraviolet light?  Way cool.  Her eye is quite sore tonight, but she should be right as rain in a couple of days.

Trip to McDonalds with Julia after two hours in the  ER.  Saw some police officers on horseback.  Good for a few minutes of entertainment.

Firefly chasing with the kids and the cat.  Kids? 8.  Cat?  0.  Came in when A started wailing coz the firefly he caught flew high up in the sky.  "Noooo!  It fly hiiiiiiigh!  Caaaatch it Muuuummmy!"  Even later at bed, the thought of the firefly flying up sent him into another fit of tears, poor tyke.

The photo above is of a water lily the kids found in the lake.  Didn't realize how badly those nails of J's need a trim.  Yoikes!



Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 286: Crazy Crows

We've been fascinated by the crows the last couple of days.  They're interesting critters to watch.  There's sort of a standing joke about the neighbourhood rooks.  These things are HUGE.  Anyway, Julia noticed yesterday a group of them paying particular attention to a patch of dry grass on the green patch between the sidewalk and the road.  Same thing today.  So I went out on the porch and quickly took a few shots.

See how one of them has their wings outstretched?  It looks like she's (I'm assuming a she) is nesting.  But there's no nest.  Just a patch of short, dry grass.  And they're all so very attentive and busy over that one, little spot.

Any idea what's going on here?

When I tried to get closer, they scattered to the trees and proceeded to chew me out.

No question that their language would need to be edited, if this were crow-video. 

Crows are such interesting critters.  So very smart.  When I was a kid, a lady who lived near the elementary school had a crow that could talk.  He wasn't domesticated, particularly.  He'd fly off for months and then come back and hang at her house.  And my sister works with a lady who has a young crow named Ike that is pretty much a pet and hangs out with the horses when she's working them in the ring.  There's something kind of striking about their plumage as well.  Yes, I know they're scavengers and can be a nuisance, but yet I can't help like them nonetheless.

If you're looking for a great, stylish camera bag, and haven't checked out the review I did of my new one, which I love, you can see it here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 285: Dung Spuds

Can you imagine?  I mean, I love cows.  Chased a few of them out the garden and down the road to their pastures plenty of times growing up.  I love their pink noses, their pretty, placid eyes, and their gentle lowing.

I don't like their manure.  I don't like stepping in it, the way it covers their hind ends (HOW can it get everywhere like that?  It's not like they sit in it, after all.), and how it STINKS.

But that's what my kitchen smelled like today.  I tore the kitchen apart today trying to figure out where it was coming from.

Potatoes.  Only a few days old.  Seriously smelled JUST like cow dung.

I know potatoes are grown in dirt with cow manure and all.  But these had been washed.  Really, really clean even for commercial standards--not a speck of dirt on them.  So why the smell?  No idea.  But it was not pleasant.

So I dumped them all in a pot of water, sorted through to make sure there were no rotten ones (there was one) and now I have manure smelling hands.  Niiiice.

The potatoes appear to have been salvaged.  And even more importantly, my kitchen doesn't smell like a barn.

But I do.


Also, if you didn't check out the post about my new camera bag, and you're looking for something stylish and handbag-like for your DSLR, please do. So far, it's working really great, and I want to tell the world!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 284: Corner View: Noticing

You know, I've never really been a pizza lover.  Not sure why.  The ingredients separately I like, but together they just didn't work for me.  That said, being a member of this family, I've had to learn to eat pizza.  There's one pizza place in town that a friend of mine owns that I quite like (OK.  Really like.  If we're ordering, it's from there or I put my foot down!), but generally pizza and I have a guarded relationship.

And then, two weeks, ago, I discovered the deli pizza at a place which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent (namely me!)And do you know what I've noticed:

Pizza can be really, really delectable. 

Especially this Tuscan Vegetable, of which I will not even begin to tell you how much I ate tonight. 

Oh.  Yum.

If I could have the recipe for this crust and be able to make it work (yeast and I are also not particularly friendly) then we would be eating this pizza every week. 

Do you know what else I've noticed?  Jane at Spain Daily has this great Corner View thing going, and really you ought to check it out!

Also, if you didn't check out the post about my new camera bag, and you're looking for something stylish and handbag-like for your DSLR, please do.  So far, it's working really great, and I want to tell the world!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 283: More from the garden

I've spent the last forever trying to figure out how to make this photo look muted and beautiful.  I as yet don't have that skill, and as I'm falling asleep here, I'll just leave it with you as is.  Not so muted and not so beautiful!  But someday I'd love to know how to make my photos have this look if I feel it would do it justice.  Beth does it wonderfully, doesn't she?  Me?  Not even slightly.  Sigh.  So I'm feeling slightly depressed.  The more I see the more I realize my knowledge is so far from where I want it to be, and I get wracked with the fear that I don't have it in me to figure it all out!

I need some help.  No, not therapy!  OK, maybe a little...  No, what I really need is Photoshop and a class on how to use it.  Maybe some day!  In the meantime, I'll look at lots of my photos and bleh a little.  No, bleh a LOT!

Like now. But it could just be exhaustion.  *yawn*

So I'll go to bed now and promise to be my usual chipper bloggy self tomorrow!



Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 282: Shutter bug

I have never done a review of any product on this blog.  That's not the blog's purpose.  But this is too good not to share.

When I bought my camera, it came with a little backpack case.  The case was a bit unwieldy, and with it on my back, purse in hand, and kids in tow,  I looked like a pack camel.  But it worked, so I went with it.  A couple of weeks ago, however, the zipper on the pack broke, so I've been looking for a functional bag that I could maybe tuck any purse items in as swell, and that didn't scream "CAMERA BAG."  I don't think I'm alone in this.  Any other women bloggers out there with DSLRs who want/need to keep their camera with them so they don't miss anything?  I always feel really self conscious carrying my camera bag, though.  It was so obvious.  And not stylish.  At all.

There are very few companies out there with bags for women, and I certainly didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars, which was the cost of a few of them.

And then I found Shutterbug Bags.  The bags are great looking, yes.  But the brilliant thing is the removable camera cocoon.  It's a quilted bag liner with adjustable pockets to hold your gear.  And since it's removable, you can fit it not only into the Shutterbug bags but you can also tuck it into any tote of a particular size.  Yup.  Brilliant. 

So, I ordered a bag, in red (why not?). 

 (Note the lush, albeit long, grass.  On this teensy portion of lawn!  HA!)

OK.  Back to the bag.  Does it look like a camera bag to you?  Nope!  It looks like a beautiful tote.  The photo here makes the bag look pinker than the bag actually looks, which is a beautiful, deep, rich, red.

The bag is well made, I love the outside pockets, and there's plenty of room in the cocoon. Loads of room, actually, especially when you consider the bag's size. I thought it would be bigger, but it's not--and that's a good thing.  One could still potentially haul lots of stuff, and it doesn't look crazy big.  Course, I don't usually carry much in a purse, but even if someone does, I don't think they'd have a problem, because you wouldn't necessarily bring ALL your camera gear with you when you go out. For fun, though, I filled it with as much of my equipment as I could. It holds my DSLR body and lens, flash, two other lenses (they share a pocket), macro converter, wireless remote, user manuals (because I still use them--my brain is kind of sieve-like), mini tripod, mini-softbox (folds down flat and attaches to my Speedlite to reduce that "flashy" feel), and lens cleaning stuff. The bag is built perfectly for getting equipment in and out, and fits my purse things, keys, wallet, and such, as well as the camera gear. I'm not even including here the little dibs and dabs in the outside pockets. Notepad, pen, lip gloss, etc.

Look at the inside (minus my camera, since I was using to take the photo). 

See how nice and cushy it looks?

And look at the cute button.  This little detail alone makes me smile!

Aw!  Isn't that a sweet little touch?

There is also a nifty clutch that carries memory cards, battery pack (not shown here--it's in the charger!), and batteries.  I threw in my little cleaning swabs, too, and microfiber cloth, since I'm always losing them. 

Yes, if I'm doing a more, er, formal shoot, I'll dig out my bigger, square, clunky, camera bag so I can carry other stuff, too.  But with this bag, I can bring my camera everywhere without looking goofy.

OK.  That's asking a bit much.  But I certainly can't blame it on this bag, that's for sure. ;o)

Did I mention that a portion of the proceeds go to charity?  It's true.  A charity to help special needs kids.  Another reason to feel good about purchasing this bag.

Yes, there are a couple of things I'm going to tweak, but I'm not worried about it.  It's an awesome bag.

OK.  I'm done now.  I just love this bag and had to share!  Love love love it! 

Day 281 (Taken 06/20/2010) Bee Bottom

Out in the garden and heard the bees buzzing around the lavendar.  Thought it would be fun to try out my unused macro converter.  It doesn't work THAT great.  I still have to be really close, and these little guys move really fast.  But here are a couple:

Nose stuck right into the flower.  I felt like doing the same thing--the lavendar smells sooo good out there!

While the honey bees were kind of shy, this teensy, weensy--almost microscopic--little guy wasn't worried about me at all!  Small bug syndrome, showing a tough front!

Bee with attitude.  He simply turned his back on me.  Cute little bee bum, though.  Maybe he's just a little bitty bee exhibitionist.

Messing around with grasses.  Shows that I haven't trimmed around the herb beds much.  Erm...

And finally, this.  A bird in the dusk singing goodnight from the phone line.

I wish my goodnights sounded so sweet!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 280: Castles in the sand

Halt!  Who goes there?

Not sure who had more fun making this, myself or the kids.

We were very proud of the moat!

See the little French soldier on top? 

"Your mother is an hampster and your father smells like elderberries!"

All in all, despite the insults (hehe) it was a beautiful day at the lake! 

Now guess who has to go vacuum the sand-filled car?  Oy. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 279: Lunch bunch

Yup.  Breakfast for lunch.

Gotta love it.

New lens came  this afternoon, but I haven't had a chance to play with it yet.  AND Julia found that I had a macro converter for my 35-55 mm that came with my camera kit that I'd forgotten I had.  Way cool.  Yeah, it's a cheap way of doing it, but for my needs, it works great.

K. Gotta run! 


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 278: What tools.

No.  Seriously.  They are!

Dear hubby:  The entry porch area disaster has been cleaned up.  Those boxes and boxes of books and office things from the college-which-shall-not-be-named?  In the attic.  Boxes with leftovers from the garage sale two years ago?  At Goodwill.  Gardening/yard stuff like pest powder and the like?  In the back monstrosity that holds the gardening stuff.  Sports junk (balls, bike helmets, soccer gear)?  In a bin.  All your doweling (what hasn't been destroyed by the kids, that is) is downstairs.  Martial arts stuff is under the bed, just in case when you get back you wonder where they are and I can't remember where I put them.  Remember:  Under the bed.


In the toolbox.  Although I'm sure we owned a phillips screwdriver as well as three--no, four (I missed one in the shot)-- flat heads?  Any idea where it would be?

Floor?  Vacuumed.

My back will never, ever be the same again, but it's done.


Course, now that you're getting so buffed up in PT, I should have waited until you got back, then put you to work doing it.  You could have hauled a box in each hand and one on each of your washboard abs.  It would have been done in only half a dozen trips.

Please get back soon.  I think we need to move some furniture.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 277: Corner View (Daily)

Corner View today.  Daily.

If this doesn't cover it, I don't know what does.



For more Corner Views, dry your hands and head over to Jane's place.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 276: Soccer Power

Quick snaps of J playing her last game.  Trying to take these whilst sitting in a camp chair with A crawling all over was challenging. J came within an inch of scoring a goal on the last play--only to miscalculate and have the ball pinch by the goal post.  Not sure how she missed it--she was by herself right in front of an empty net, but I guess the pressure was just too much!  She is getting much, much better at the game, although like all the other girls, she does a lot of skipping and dancing around the ball without actually getting in there and accomplishing much.  Unlike her mother at that age, however, she knows which direction to go.  I was known for madly running any which way, having no clue.  None whatsoever.  I was the despair of my grade 4-6 teacher's life, since he was from eastern Europe and breathed soccer.  I was such a disappointment in the sports area that he couldn't get past it.  And that's a sob story for another day.

So any clumsiness she gets from me, and any actual skill at the game she gets from her dad.  :oD

Here she is tangling with the best player on the other team.  Awesome.  It looks like she's plowing him over, but actually he was diving for the ball, a la World Cup, and she actually got it away from him.  Go Girl!

And here she is just before her goal attempt:

In other news:  New lens is ordered!  YAY!  Should arrive by the weekend.  To say I'm thrilled at the thought of having a good multipurpose lens is an understatement.  I won't have to get in people's faces to do their photos or, alternatively,  back into the next county.  Yes!  Of course, now I'm going to have to start saving for a 70-200 (the new IS one will probably necessitate pawning off one of my kids), then a macro, then...  There will always be something!  But for now, I finally have a better chance at getting the photos I want..  Three cheers!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 275: Nature scavenger hunt

Oooh!  We had such fun tonight!  Yeah, it was a late night for the kids, but it's summer, they got soaked in the water, they crashed out as soon as they got home.  All was good.

Shawnee State Park had a nature photography scavenger hunt today.  It's a bit of a hike for us to get out there, but it sounded like a blast, and something different to do on a summer's evening, so I booked it.  It was a bit drizzly today, so fingers were crossed, but it ended up being perfect photo weather (maybe even a bit too clear) and not too hot.  The class had been booked solid, as far as reserving the park cameras was concerned.  We had our own so didn't have to book a slot.  In any event, we ended up being the only ones there, which was too bad.  It would have been great having more people racing around.  But since we were the only ones there, the park ranger gave Adam one of the park cameras to use.  I think there ended up being loads of photos of fuzzy leaves and my shoes and heiner.  Julia needs a different camera.  The one she has was sort of an "until we know how well she handles it" camera.  It's not a kid camera, so she had to treat it with respect,  but the quality isn't great and it has limitations that are starting to drive her a bit nuts.  She has had it for almost a year, and she has been extremely careful with it.  It's her prized possession.  She is starting to really experiment with composing her shots, so hopefully in the next year or so we'll be able to get her something with a bit more zip and zoom.

We found everything except a reptile/amphibian.  I don't think the remains of a dead fish counts.  Pity.

Here are a few of my photos from the hunt:


Man made object:


Clouds (bleh):

Rocks or rock formation (bleh):

Scenic view (bleh--scenic photography is not my cup of tea, although I love looking at photos of others who actually know how to do it well.  But here you have it):



Trail head sign:

Bird.  This one was HARD.  I was just about ready to give up.  Birds twittering everywhere, all hidden in leaves.  Finally, somebody got brave, and his reward was a portrait.  The park ranger had a photo of a blue heron that he took out there.  Beautiful.  My mission now is to see one, since I guess they're fairly common.  Anyway, here's my little sparrow photo:

Reptile/amphibian.  We couldn't find anything, tho not for want of trying.  Lifting rocks, tromping through the water grasses, getting soaking wet.  We did find this, though (ew):

You're welcome. 



This chipmunk was taken from way too far away--but he was posing so nicely, I had to at least give it a shot.

And now I, like the kids, have simply got to go to bed.  The kids pleaded that we PLEASE go back to the park again soon, so we're making plans for a return visit, swimsuits in tow and picnic in basket, sooner rather than later.

Sigh---how I love summer!