Saturday, September 30, 2006

September Bliss List

It's Bliss List time again! Here are some things that have been making me feel Blissful in September:
  • My new camera!
  • That my friend Morven finally started a blog
  • "Water for Elephants" - one of the best books I've read this year
  • My new camera!!
  • Cooler, breezy days with bright blue skies, and nights cool enough to need a light jacket (I love autumn!)
  • The gorgeous colors of the leaves as they start to change colors (I really love autumn!)
  • My new camera!!!
  • Seeing some potentially interesting new programs show up on TV...
  • and finally getting to see some new episodes of some old favorite shows.
  • And did I mention my new camera? Just checking.
"September Bliss" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) What's making you feel blissful this month?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Camera Love!

I've had a few people ask how I'm liking my new camera (a Panasonic DMC-FZ7, for anyone who missed the post about me buying it). So far I like it very much! I'm still going through a bit of a learning curve with it and there's lots it can do I haven't even started to explore, but it's easy enough to use in program mode to pretty much just jump right in and start taking photos. I love the macro function. I've been able to get some shots from just an inch or two away when the camera is in macro mode. (One of those macro photos is the one I posted yesterday and you'll no doubt be seeing more in the coming weeks.) And I love the zoom. Having a 12x optical zoom is a huge difference from my little point 'n' shoot Olympus camera. Case in point: my hound dog mix, Mac, is notoriously hard to photograph. He was abused and abandoned before he came to live with us and is still pretty skittish and disinclined to trust people, although his social skills have improved tremendously in the past few years. So you can figure that getting a close-up photo of him just pretty much doesn't happen. You point a camera his way and he may not know what it is, but he knows it means someone with something in their hands is focusing attention on him and in MacWorld, that's a Bad Thing, so he runs to someplace he feels safe. But in the short time I've had this camera, I've already been able to get some decent shots of him by using the zoom. Check out this one taken from about 20 - 30 ft. away (all of these are clickable if you want to see them larger): The photo above is completely unedited other than compressing the size down to something I could use for the web. But I haven't cropped or color-corrected or any of that. That first shot is already more of a close-up than I could've gotten with my old camera, but since this one is higher resolution, I can crop the shot and get even closer: Or even closer yet: That's about as close as I can go with this photo without it getting too pixelated to use, but hey, I think that's pretty good for something taken with the zoom! With my other camera, the only way to get a photo of him that fills the frame like that would be to take it from about 2 ft. away and it simply would never happen. I'm really looking forward to seeing what else I can capture with this baby. My only quibbles so far would be that I'm not entirely happy with the noise levels and color saturation in the photos when taken with certain settings, but I'd be willing to bet that's more to do with things I'm doing wrong than with the camera. Eventually I'll learn the tricks! For today's DAT, here's another photo of Mac taken from a distance, but this one's been altered: "Mac: Paintified" (also clickable) I may be scarce online over the next couple of days, but I'll be paying some catch-up visits early next week. (I may or may not be posting stuff here the next two days - depends on if I have 'net access or not. Fingers crossed.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Indelible Ink

Let's see if Blogger will cooperate with me getting this posted. It wasn't playing nicely at all before I went to bed last night. Hmph. Today the prompt for Poetry Thursday is about synaesthesia. I think that's great, as the topic fascinates me. Amber wrote a very cool post about a particular type of synaesthesia just a few days ago. I've had bits and snippets of poetry ideas running through my head this week, things that would fit the theme, but nothing I could pull together in time to share this week, so I'll hope to revisit this prompt another week. Meanwhile I'm just going to share a poem I like. To the Engraver of My Skin I understand the pact is mortal, agree to bear this permanence. I contract with limitation; I say no and no then yes to you, and sign - here, on the dotted line - for whatever comes, I do: our time, our outline, the filling-in of our details (it's density that hurts, always, not the original scheme). I'm here for revision, discoloration; here to fade and last, ineradicable, blue. Write me! This ink lasts longer than I do. ~~~Mark Doty Today's Daily Art Thang has absolutely nothing to do with the poem, it was just a photo I'm pleased with, taken using my new camera's macro function. "Carnival Glass" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Fugging in Kentucky

Sometimes I wish my cell phone included a camera. Most of the time I don't, but sometimes... Like yesterday, I wish I could've whipped out a phone and taken a photo to show you and then that would pretty much be the whole post. "A picture is worth..." and all that. But since I didn't have a camera on me, phone or otherwise, I'll have to try to tell you about it. No, I take that back. I don't want to talk behind someone's back, so I'll try to tell HER about it. To the woman in front of me in line at the pharmacy yesterday: Sweetie. Sweetie! I feel so bad for you because you must not have a friend in the world. I know that because no true friend would have let you leave the house in what you were wearing. Let me tell you something as one middle-aged woman with a generous ass to another, ok? There are some garments that simply should not exist. They don't look good on anyone, not even tall, willowy supermodel types, or tight-bodied teenage girls. And anything that would look bad on a supermodel has no business being on this earth because the rest of us don't stand a chance with it. One such garment is clearly that pair of pants you had on. Faded neon-red knit track pants with a wide once-white stripe down the outside of each leg - not flattering to pretty much anyone. Faded neon-red knit CROPPED track pants with a wide once-white stripe down the outside of each leg - that's just WRONG. I'm pretty sure the existence of those pants is straining some law of physics almost to its breaking point. Then when you finish off The Pants with a stretched-out t-shirt in a clashing shade of red, clunky white gym shoes and charcoal grey argyle socks - argyle!! Merciful Zeus!! - well, Sweetie, it just made me want to take you by the hand and be your shopping buddy, because You Can Do Better. Seriously. You DESERVE better. Everyone does. Unfortunately, by the time my brain stopped bleeding and the hysterical blindness wore off, you were gone. But if by some chance you ever read this, email me! We'll do lunch. We'll shop. We'll buy you some clothes that FIT (say it with me: "structure") and a full-length mirror, then we'll have a ritual burning of the abomination known as The Pants. The world will thank us for it. Hugs and smoochies, Me DAT: "Autumn Sumac: Paintified" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

SPC: With Someone, Week 4 - Morven

This is the last week for the September theme of "With Someone" for the Self-Portrait Challenge. The instructions are to "...include someone else in your self portrait. Someone meaningful to your life or to the moment or to a specific event that you wish to document." Today I want to introduce you to my friend Morven. Morv and I met online in 1999. I'd stumbled across a quilting email group and decided to join and Morven was already a member. I posted a rambling (and kinda smartass) intro note and mentioned in passing that I lived in Kentucky. Morv emailed me off-list to find out more. Turns out she was living in Kentucky too, although she'd only been there a few months. She'd come over from her native New Zealand to be with her husband while he was working on a long-term project in the US. We found out more about each other and discovered we had loads in common. We decided we were Cosmic Twins! Plus it turned out we only lived about 40 miles away from each other, so it wasn't long before she and her husband came over to meet me and mine. It wasn't the first time I'd met someone in person that I'd first met on the Internet, but it was the first time I'd told someone where I live and invited them to dinner. (We had chicken and dumplings. I have no idea why I remember that, but I do.) Morven lived in Kentucky for three years before returning to NZ and she became one of my closest friends and I still miss her like crazy. We stay in touch through email and an occasional phone call, but man do I ever miss the days when we'd get together to make trips into Lexington to have girlie lunches and hit the stores and talk and giggle. Luckily she makes occasional trips back to the US though. (YAY!!!) The photo below was one I snapped during her last visit in March of this year. "Self-Portrait with Morven" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) If you want to meet Morven yourself, she recently started a blog of her very own, called Food Art and Random Thoughts, so stop over and tell her hello and Happy Birthday! Yep, that's right. That's why I had to feature Morven THIS Tuesday rather than any other is because today is her birthday. Wish I could give you cake and a hug, Morv. Love you! (also clickable: photo features Morv and me as well as our husbands and some of our wonderful girlfriends)

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Alive!

Hi y'all! Did you notice I was AWOL for a couple of days? I know at least a couple of you did because when I logged on just now I found a couple of emails asking where I was. (I'll email you back soon!) I'm fine, but my internet service was gone all weekend and half of today. It was not just merely dead, it was really most sincerely dead. (Name that pop culture reference!) We had mega-storms roll through here late Friday night and they caused all sorts of power outages and other problems. I have my 'puter equipment hooked into a pretty decent UPS with a voltage regulator AND I unplugged everything anyway before I went to bed, yet somehow a surge or something still managed to kill my wireless router and my ethernet card before I could cut the power. I replaced those on Saturday (once I - with the help of a techie guy - finally figured out the problem), but then, even though it said I was connected to the 'net, I still couldn't actually DO anything. Couldn't pull up any websites, couldn't access my email account, nothing. I just kept getting an error message that said "We are not programmed to respond in that area." (Name THAT pop culture reference!) Ok, really it said "Can't find server" but isn't the other more interesting? By the time I realized the new router and ethernet card weren't going to fix the problem, it was Sunday. Three guesses how much 'puter help is available in rural Kentucky on a Sunday. If you guessed "not much" you win a sparkly gold star and a spotted pony! (Both virtual, of course.) Anyway, finally an hour or so ago a couple of guys from my 'net server showed up and hooked my 'puter up to their laptop. They unplugged and replugged various wires and cords, and shook their heads and looked puzzled, and muttered arcane incantations and then rearranged some more wires, and monkeyed around with some of my programs - which nearly gave me fits because I am a total control freak when it comes to how my 'puter is set up - and finally pronounced the problem solved, although I am less than convinced that they ever truly figured out what the problem really WAS in the first place. I think they just got lucky. Not that I'm knocking luck. Heh. We shall see in the coming days exactly what they did and if I can live with it. But by that point I SO wanted my 'net service back that I was pretty much willing to let them sacrifice a live chicken and paint my keyboard with blood while singing Barry Manilow songs if that's what it took. So. Here I am! Hi! :-) I am, of course, hopelessly behind on my usual 'net activities. So other than telling you guys where I disappeared to for the better part of three days, I'm just going to post three days worth of Daily Art Thangs, all taken with the new camera. (Be kind, I'm still learning!) Saturday's DAT: "Goldenrod 2" Sunday's DAT: "Mr. Stripey" Today's DAT: "End of Summer" (All these are clickable if you want to see them larger in a new window)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Stuff you never knew you wanted to know

I first saw this meme on Jen's blog and then shortly afterward, Julie sent it to me. So here's a bunch of possibly interesting (but probably NOT!) stuff you never knew you wanted to know about me. I enjoy answering these things and I enjoy reading others' answers, so if you want to play along, tell me so in comments and you can consider yourself officially tagged. If you don't want to play along, well...ok, FINE. I don't mind being sad. SniffSniff. (Bonus points if you know where the quote "I don't mind being sad" comes from!) 1. FIRST NAME? Deborah 2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? I was named after a character in "The Silver Chalice" by Thomas Costain. 3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? The last time I got a little weepy was when I read Tammy's SPC entry for this week. The last time I flat-out cried? I honestly don't remember. I don't do that very often, which is good because crying gives me a horrible headache and generally pisses me off. 4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No, not at all. It's ugly and nearly illegible. 5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? I'm not much of a lunchmeat fan, but if I had to choose a favorite - either ham or hard salami. It's a toss-up. 6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I would like me, but I'm not sure Myself and I would be close friends simply because I am not very good at ALL at initiating contact. I seldom make phone calls because I always feel like I'm bothering people when I do. I'm so far out in the boonies that it rarely occurs to me to invite anyone over because I assume they won't want to slog all the way out here. I enjoy hanging out with my friends and talking to them, but as a rule most of my friends are MUCH better about contacting me than I am about contacting them. They pretty much have to be. So Myself and I would probably both be wondering why the other one never called or visited until we eventually drifted apart. (Damn, that sucks of me. I need to work on this issue!!) 7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Nope, I was never any good at all about keeping up with a paper journal, which is why it amazes me that I like to blog. 8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes 9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Maybe. Depends on the circumstances. 10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Smart Start Healthy Heart cereal (or Heart Healthy...I always forget which). I like to top it with either fresh or dried fruit. 11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No. 12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically? Not particularly. Emotionally? Reasonably so. 13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Pecan Praline (or is it Praline Pecan? I can never remember that either!) 14. SHOE SIZE? 8 or 8.5, depending on the shoes 15. FAVORITE COLOR? Red. No, orange. No, blue. Or maybe green. Or, no, um,what was the question? 16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? A lack of focus 17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My mom 18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Well, to answer on their blogs, sure, that'd be great! 19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Blue (dark wash) jeans and Granny Smith Apple-Green nubuck clogs 20. LAST THING YOU ATE? A bowl of cereal (see #10!) 21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The hum of the computer, rain on the roof. 22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Red! 23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Vanilla, cinnamon, lilacs, freshly-cut grass, the air after a rain, basil, baking bread, my husband's hair right after a shower 24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Johnny, when he called from town yesterday to ask if I wanted him to bring home lunch. 25. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU'RE ATTRACTED TO? Their smile. 26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes, both of them, very much! I've actually met Julie in person once (and would love to again!) and hope to meet Jen someday. 27. FAVORITE DRINK? Margarita, rocks, extra salt; or ice water with a slice of lemon or lime 28. FAVORITE SPORT? Competitive book or shoe shopping. Heh. 29. EYE COLOR? Blue 30. HAT SIZE? Hats have sizes? 31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Used to, for more than 20 years, but reluctantly gave them up and switched to full-time glasses use earlier this year when I decided contacts just weren't working well for me anymore. I still miss them. 32. FAVORITE FOOD? Seafood! No, pasta. Or maybe cookies! Or oooooh, a big bowl of fresh berries. Wait a minute, I've lost track of the question again. 33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? Happy endings. Real Life is scary enough. I don't need it in my movies. 34. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Granny Smith Apple-Green ribbed Henley 35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer, although I don't care much for either. I'm a Spring-and-Fall kinda woman. 36. HUGS OR KISSES? Damn, that's a hard one! I'd hate to have to choose only one forever, but if I HAD to, I guess I'd take hugs. 37. FAVORITE DESSERT? I don't have a single favorite. It depends on my mood. I like most desserts, unfortunately for my waistline! 38. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? I'm currently re-reading an old Barbara Michaels book (a ghost story) called "The Crying Child." 39. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Some boring photo of raindrops or water spots or something and the word "Allsop" 40. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Survivor: Cook Islands, Grey's Anatomy, ER 41. FAVORITE SOUNDS? moving water of any kind - the ocean, a stream moving over rocks, waterfalls, fountains; laughter (KIND laughter, not the cruel mocking sort); the wind blowing through leaves 42. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Stones 43. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Hawaii 44. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? Remembering utterly useless trivia while managing to forget lots of useful and relevant information. 45. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Cincinnati, Ohio 46. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I already told you that. Pay attention! Sheesh! 47. NEWEST THING YOU'VE TRIED? I'm drawing a complete and total blank here! Guess I need to try something new soon so I have a better answer to this question than "uuuhhhh...." 48. ONE THING YOU'D CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELF: I'd manage my time better 49. WHO DID YOU LAST SEND A LETTER OR CARD TO? Morven 50. WHERE WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO VISIT IN THE WORLD IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT? New Zealand or almost anyplace in Europe DAT: "Goldenrod" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Poetry Thursday: a Letter

This is yet another week where I'm ignoring the prompt for Poetry Thursday and just posting a poem that spoke to me instead. When I ran across the poem I'm sharing today, it reminded me just a little of one of the first things I ever posted for PT, an odd little poem called "Eve and Medusa." This is another odd little poem about characters from history or myth (depending on what version of history you believe), told from an unusual point of view. Somehow it feels very timely to me, a sort of social or political commentary in the form of a simple letter. Love Letter Dear Samson, I put your hair in a jar by the pear tree near the well. I been thinkin' over what I done and I still don't think God gave you all that strength for you to kill my people. Love - Delilah ~~~Carole E. Gregory "Shades of Gray" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) You can find links to more poetry by clicking on the link in the first paragraph.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yep, that's personal all right!

Hey, y'all. It's Wednesday and I have no more letters to turn into WordPlay. Aaarrrggghhh! I miss it! I had something else in mind to post today for my first PostWordPlay Wednesday, but I was gone most of the day Tuesday, first running errands (like grocery shopping, HoHum) and then helping J with a project, so I ran out of time and will have to save that for another day. I have two itty-bitty things to share and we'll call it a wrap. The first is something I got in the mail Monday and when I saw what it said I started laughing and I showed it to J and told him, "I am SO blogging this." Take a look: I wish I could tell you what was inside, but I can't. After I scanned it I threw it away without opening it, since it was obviously VERY important to the sender that this oh-so-PERSONAL message be opened by the addressee only and my name is neither "Postal Customer" nor "Current Resident." Oh well, I guess we'll never know what they wanted. I'll be brooding about this for...Hey! Guess what else! I bought a new camera! I concluded that there is no such thing as my perfect camera yet, just as I suspected. But after both Jennifer and Deirdre recommended this camera, I had a look at it and ended up deciding to buy it. (Not at that website though. I found it cheaper elsewhere.) I'm still keeping my 4 MP, weather-resistant, Olympus point-n-shoot camera. It's not as tiny as some on the market, but it's definitely small enough to be considered pocket size and I'm used to how it works, so it'll still be a great option for when I need something small and rugged. The new one is larger, but still reasonably compact and it has a lot more options in terms of being able to manually adjust the camera settings and being able to add lenses later if I want. Once I figure out its tricks, it should be a good camera to take a wider range of shots than I can with my Olympus, but it doesn't have either the bulk or the hefty price tag of a true DSLR. I just hope the memory cards I ordered (from a different place than where I got the camera) arrive soon because the measly one that came with the camera holds a grand total of four - count 'em!...1, 2, 3, 4! Woo. Hoo. Today's DAT is the best of the first four I took. Please realize that "best" is relative. This is not a great photo and not something I'd normally post as a DAT, but I can see that once I learn to use it properly I might be able to get some really good photos with this thing. In this photo, I was trying to keep the poke plant in the foreground in focus and the background soft. It worked pretty well, considering I took the photo from several feet away in kind of crappy light. "Poke Plant" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

SPC: With Someone, Week 3 - Amber

The September theme for the Self-Portrait Challenge is "With Someone" and the instructions are to "...include someone else in your self portrait. Someone meaningful to your life or to the moment or to a specific event that you wish to document." When I married Johnny, who comes from a large family (8 brothers and sisters!), I became an instant aunt, and even (gulp) a great-aunt to nieces and nephews ranging from young children to adults with kids of their own. But when my brother's oldest child, Amber, was born, that was the first time I got to know a niece or nephew right from the very first day they came into the world. I'd have adored Amber anyway, but it turns out we have a lot in common. She's an artist and a movie buff, and she loves cute shoes, sparkly jewelry, and other girly stuff. She's smart and adventurous, and she has a wicked sense of humor and likes to sing karaoke. I always have a great time around her (and her dad and brother!). So today I want to share a self-portrait collage of me with my niece, Amber. "Self-Portrait with Amber" From the top: Me holding Amber (and a teddy bear I bought for her) a couple of days after she was born, Christmas about a year and a half later, the results of Amber getting into my make-up bag and painting both our faces a few years later, the two of us at my house a couple of months ago. (Clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) I'd love to do one of these with my nephew Josh too (my brother's younger child) but it's wicked hard to get a photo of him these days. I mostly have some great shots of his hand in front of his face and the back of his head. Ahem. You can find links to more self-portraits here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Random Items from the Junk Drawer of my Mind #27

1. Tomorrow be Talk Like a Pirate Day! ARR! Since tomorrow be Self-Portrait Challenge day too, I've decided ta celebrate a day earrly. If ye want ta get in the spirit o' things ye can go ta this here website 'n' find out more. Er if ye really want ta get in the spirit o' things ye can do what I'm about ta do 'n' go ta this here website ta ha' yer blog post translated into Pirate lingo. Shiver me timbers! If ye don't want ta speak Pirate, it says the site will also translate into Goth, Superhero, 'n' more. Maybe I'll try those another day. 2. Be it no wonder me asparragus plants always look like the tops be chewed out o' them? (photo taken in me aft yarrd) 3. Blow the man down. Don't ye hate it when ye needs be admit ye might needs be change yer mind about something? Me matey Nancy be a HUGE fan o' Bob Dylan. I be most decidely not. This chair be high says I! I've always thought he was a terrific chanteywriter, but ha' never been able ta stand his voice. Me matey Morven summed it up perfectly fer me when she said, "'Everybody Must Get Stoned' ain't just a chantey title, it's a suggestion fer how ta enjoy hearrin' him sing." ARR! So imagine me surprise when I got a package in the mail last week from Nancy 'n' that package contained this here CD along with a note that said "Please give Bob a chance. ARR! I'm a pirate! This here be his new album 'n' it's fab! This here be me campaign ta change yer mind." Imagine me even greater surprise when (after rollin' me deadlights 'n' thinkin' "yeah, right"), I popped the CD into the player 'n' starrted ta listen 'n' discovered I didn't hate it. Really! I'm not goin' ta claim I love it so much I'm ready ta go out 'n' starrt buyin' 'n' playin' All-Bob All-The-Time er anything, but I find this here parrticularr collection pretty darrn listenable. Avast me hearty mateys! Go. ARR! I'm a pirate! Figure. Thanks, Nan! I think. ARR! Heh. 4. Daily Arrt Thang: "Bless this here Nest" I promise I'll belay talkin' like a pirate tomorrow. Avast me hearty mateys! Well, mostly anyway.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"This is Chick-Lit"

I received a very interesting book in the mail not long ago - a book of short stories called "This is Chick-Lit." It turns out that last year there was a book of short stories published called "This is Not Chick Lit." I'd never heard of that book until I found out about this one, and I'm not sure I'd have bought it if I HAD heard of it, since I think defining something by what it isn't is a bit absurd. Couldn't that book just as accurately have been named "This is Not Science Fiction" or "This is Not 18th Century Romantic Poetry" or "This is Not a Treatise on Quantum Physics?" (Although I will admit to a bit of curiosity about that book now that I've read this one. It would be interesting to compare the two.) Anyway, the book "This is Chick-Lit" is a collection of short stories written and compiled as a response to the previously mentioned book, by a group of women writers who write chick-lit and are proud of it. I thought the introduction to the book was fascinating, as it turns out this is a debate that has raged since long before the term "chick lit" was ever coined. The editor quotes a letter written by Charlotte Bronte in 1848, in which she bemoans the popularity and critical acclaim of books written by a Miss Jane Austen, saying she doesn't understand their appeal and finds Ms. Austen merely "shrewd and observant." Um, yeah, ok. You know, if the very worst thing someone could find to say about ME was that I'm shrewd and observant I'd count myself as having done pretty well in life. In a similar vein, one of the criticisms frequently leveled at the genre known as chick lit is that it consists "merely" of stories written by, for, and about women. Well again, I'd say....yeah, so? What's wrong with that? Why are we, as women, so frequently hard on ourselves and on each other? I bet if there was a name for books written by, for, and about men you wouldn't have a bunch of men saying that's a bad thing. IMO, there ARE books out there written by, for, and about men, but they're just called "books." Sigh. It's hard to debate a thing if you don't stick a label on it first, yes? Anyway, on to the book itself. On the whole, I liked it. It was an interesting cross-section of writers and stories. As with any short story anthology, I think some stories worked better than others. Short stories can be a tricky bit of writing to do correctly. They need to be an engaging slice of life so that you want to know what happens to the characters, but they shouldn't feel like the writer tried to compress an entire novel's worth of story into just a few pages. Some of these stories managed that balancing act quite well, some not so much. There were, unfortunately, several stories that felt to me more like the Cliff's Notes version of novels rather than true short stories. They weren't bad, but they made me feel a bit rushed and cheated, and left me wishing the writers had developed these stories into novellas or full-length novels instead. And there were a few stories in the book that simply didn't appeal to me. They were well-written, but not to my personal taste. Again though, I find that in almost every short story anthology I've ever read. But at least half the stories in the book were true short stories and quite good ones at that. Some of my favorites include "Shell Game" by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, a story that effectively turns a nursery rhyme into a grown-up cautionary tale; "Trash Talk" by Karin Gillespie; "Meeting Cute" by Andrea Schicke Hirsch; "Secret Agent Chick" by Raelynn Hillhouse; and my personal favorite of the collection, "Cafe con Leche Crush" by Heather Swain, a slice-of-life story that is exactly what a short story should be. "This is Chick-Lit" is a book I'm glad I read. My grade for it: a solid B. Today's Daily Art Thang: "Orange Wings" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hanging out in Trees

Sorry to be very US-centric for a moment here and talk about something that probably isn't airing in other countries, but how many of you have been watching "Men in Trees" on TV this week? Somehow this one slipped right past my radar when I was hearing talk of new shows for the fall season and the pilot episode was over before I heard about it. Luckily, they re-aired the pilot last night, as well as the next episode in the series, and I've just got to say so far I'm lovin' it! It's about a writer of relationship advice books who discovers, while on her way to Elmo, Alaska, for a speaking gig, that her fiance is cheating on her. She calls the wedding off and decides that, despite her successful books, she really doesn't understand men at all. So she decides to stay in Elmo for a while, where the ratio of men to women is 10 to 1, to see if she can figure out this strange species called "men" (and of course write a book about it). There are inevitably going to be comparisons to "Northern Exposure" (a show I loved), but so far I think MiT is holding it's own. I may be judging too quickly with having only seen two episodes, but so far for me the quirk factor is just exactly right. So if you like quirk and you haven't checked this one out, I recommend it. In my area, it's on Friday at 9 PM. And just because it's the weekend and I'm a QuizSlut, here's one to help you figure out the strange species called "Deb."
Your Personality Cluster is Introverted Feeling
You are: Tolerant, flexible, and open to new ideas. A stickler for integrity and authenticity. Passionate about causes, beliefs, or politics. Likely to have many "best friends" from many walks of life.
DAT: "Stacks"

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Fashion-ating

I got this meme from Susannah who also asked to see a photo of what we were wearing 10 years ago. I can't find a single photo of me from 10 years ago in anything but jeans and a sweater or t-shirt (and not many of those photos) so I'm going to get in the WayBackMachine and share a photo from 20 years ago instead. It's funnier anyway. This was taken in November of 1986 just a few days after I met Johnny. I claim full responsibility for the outfit, but that is not and never was my butt-ugly sofa! (FWIW, it wasn't J's sofa either. It's in a university dorm lobby...long story.) What has been your biggest fashion indulgence? In terms of quantity, shoes and lingerie. In terms of really splurging on a single item, probably either my red suede cowboy boots, which I've worn until they're practically falling apart, or the champagne-colored silk evening dress that I bought early last year and have only worn once. It's not like I have an evening dress sort of lifestyle, but I fell in love with that dress and just had to have it. It's so Jean Harlow! See: What is your signature scent? Soap. I'm super-sensitive to artificial fragrances and can't wear perfume without choking. Back many years ago when I still could wear perfume (sigh...) I used to love Shalimar. What was your biggest fashion mistake? Letting people convince me during the last leggings-and-tunic fashion craze (that seems to be coming back....bah, humbug!) that someone with my figure could wear that look without appearing to be pregnant. So. NOT. True. And no, I'm not sharing a photo. What item(s) do you never travel without? A book, cell phone, dental floss, wintergreen TicTacs, a small powder compact, lipstick, sunglasses, a ponytail band to get my hair off my face and neck if it's driving me nuts. What was the last film you saw? Not sure how this relates to fashion, but what the heck. In the cinema: "Snakes on a Plane" At home on DVD: "Take the Lead" What beauty products do you swear by? John Freeda silkening creme to defrizz my hair, Neutrogena tinted moisturizer with sunscreen for a little help smoothing out my skin tone without feeling like full-out foundation (which I hate) What is on your iPod? I don't have an iPod. I know, shocking! Want to know what's even more shocking? I have absolutely no interest in getting one. I dunno, maybe I just don't know what I'm missing, but that's ok. If I don't know then I won't want to spend the money to get one. :-) What was the last item of clothing you bought? A pair of jeans. To be more specific, a pair of jeans that's already going out of style because they're a mid-rise boot-cut instead of a skinny-leg jean. But I love my mid-rise boot-cuts and I'm clinging to them for as long as I can find them in stores. HA! Where do you buy your lingerie? Sometimes Victoria's Secret. I like the way their "Body by Victoria" line fits. Sometimes Target. Their Gillian & O'Malley (??) line is very similar to the BbV line and waaaaay less expensive. And in an underwear emergency I'll buy it anyplace I have to, including the dreaded WalMart. And don't tell me you don't know what an underwear emergency is. If you've never had one you've lived way too sheltered a life. Which shop(s) couldn't you live without? Fashion-related you mean? None, really. I have good luck finding clothes at Target (and wish we had one closer to where I live). Locally I get quite a few things at a clothing store called Goody's. I like a few others too, but there's no particular one I'm super-loyal to. I tend to shop low-end for a lot of clothes because I get bored with them and I want stuff that's inexpensive enough that I don't feel guilty about getting rid of after a season or two, although I'll spring for nicer things if I expect to get several years wear out of them - things like boots and coats. Thanks, Susannah, that was fun, even if there was nothing at all high fashion about my answers! :-) DAT: "Streak of Gold" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Thoughts on Life

This week I'm ignoring (for now) the prompt for Poetry Thursday, although I may revisit it at some time. The idea - to try to write a poem as if I was someone else - sounds fascinating and I can't wait to see what other people do with it. I was reading a poetry anthology earlier this week and kept finding myself drawn to some very brief verses and gradually realized that many of the ones I was drawn to had a couple of things in common. They were older poems with more formal rhyme schemes, and they had to do with attitudes toward life. So I want to share three of these today because somehow in my mind they all sort of go together. Life is mostly froth and bubble, Two things stand like stone, Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own. ~~~Adam Lindsay Gordon Bitter-Sweet Ah my dear angry Lord, Since thou dost love, yet strike; Cast down, yet help afford; Sure I will do the like. I will complain, yet praise; I will bewail, approve; And all my sour-sweet days I will lament, and love. ~~~George Herbert An Epilogue I have seen flowers come in stony places And kind things done by men with ugly faces, And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races, So I trust, too. ~~~John Masefield "Ephemeral" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) You can find links to more poetry here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Z is for...

Time for my final WordPlay Personal Dictionary Entry! If you want to know more about how and why I started doing this series of posts, read my "A is for..." entry. If you want to see a list of more people doing the same thing, check out Laume's WordPlay site. I've loved doing this series so much. Thanks for the prompt, Laume! I have no idea what I'm going to write about on Wednesdays after this week. Oh well, anyway, here we go with one final round of WordPlay... Z is for... Zenna (Henderson) - A classic SciFi writer I really like. She wrote a series of interconnected short stories about some alien refugees who landed on Earth years ago and how they and their descendants try to fit in and make new lives here. I've lost count of how many times I've read those stories. Zinnias - Z-plant I like. Bright, cheerful, easy to grow - they only way they'd be better is if they were fragrant. Zappo's (aka ShoeMecca) - An amazing place for shoe addicts to browse, dream, and possibly buy. Zebras - Proof that God likes interesting design. Zucchini - Z-food I like many different ways, including zucchini bread and zucchini pie. Zodiac - A topic that interests me. Zinc - I swear by the zinc products you spray or swab up your nose to get rid of cold symptoms! Zeus - One of my favorite exclamations (blatantly stolen from my favorite-ever episode of BtVS) is "Merciful Zeus!" Zaftig - Something I am. Isn't it a lot more fun and exotic-sounding to say zaftig than some of the other words used to describe extremely curvy women? Zig-Zag - A design motif I like a lot! Zesty, Zeal, Zip, Zoom! - Z-words I like. "Z is for..." (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Birthday Shout-Out

I wanted to send a big fat online birthday wish to my friend kristen d. Happy birthday, kristen! I hope it's wonderful!! If you want to wish kristen happy birthday too, you can visit her at Ardent Peace. I bet you'll be glad you did!

SPC: With Someone, Week 2 - Four Generations

The September theme for the Self-Portrait Challenge is "With Someone" and the instructions are to "...include someone else in your self portrait. Someone meaningful to your life or to the moment or to a specific event that you wish to document." This is one month I wish had more Tuesdays as I'm having a terrible time choosing who to feature! There are so many people who are special in my life and I don't want to leave any of them out. Maybe I'll do some bonus "self-portraits with..." on other days besides Tuesday, just for fun. But anyway, for this week I want to share a photo of me as a baby with my mom, Mom's mother, and Grandma's parents - four generations of family on one sofa. My parents were young when they married (both of them were 20 years old) and I'm an oldest child, so I was lucky enough to have all four of my grandparents still around when I was growing up and even five out of eight of my great-grandparents were still alive when I was born, although they all died when I was still quite young. I have vague memories of three of them, especially my great-grandma Elliot seen in the far left of this photo. One of the reasons I love this picture is the story my mom told me about my great-grandpa's reaction to it. He'd show it to people and tell them, "This is my daughter, and this is my granddaughter, and this is my great-granddaughter and she's the grandest of them all." I wish I remembered him more. Everyone should be "the grandest of them all" to someone. "Four Generations: MaryLindy, Ace, Erna, Anita and Deb" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) And here's a bonus photo just because it's another of my favorites from my childhood. This is a photo of me (on the right, in the blue dress) and my cousin Michael (on the left, in the red pants) sitting on my Grandpa M's lap. (Grandpa M was Mom's dad.) Michael and I are almost the same age so whenever we got to see each other we were nearly always either best of friends or worst of enemies. I'll give you one guess about the state of things in this photo. From the way my grandpa is eyeing me like he has a loaded grenade on his lap, I'm guessing I got the blame for instigating whatever had just happened, but I'm sure that can't be right. Surely that sweet little girl in the blue dress could do no wrong. Ahem. "BabyWars" (I'm counting these photos as my DATs for today, since they were both damaged and I used Photoshop to restore them.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Arty-Facts (Ok, more like Arty-Opinions)

Thank you for all camera advice yesterday, y'all! It was much appreciated and you gave me some more things to think about and to look at. I'll let you know if I get something! Several weeks ago, Laume created an art meme on her studio blog and I'm finally getting around to sharing some of my answers. I made a few changes, as the meme was quite long, so I combined a few questions and eliminated a couple others but here are my answers to the slightly revised version of Laume's Arty Meme. Favorite artists: I'm not going to list textile artists, as I listed several of those a few weeks ago in response to a question, but regarding non-textile artists some of my favorites include Cezanne, Escher, Gaugin, Hopper, Kahlo, Magritte, Manet, Matisse, Modigliani, O'Keefe, Parrish, Sargent, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh. (I'm sure I'm forgetting some!) Favorite art styles: Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; Early Renaissance, Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Surrealism, the Ashcan school, Outsider art, some Pop art. Again, I'm sure I'm leaving some out of that list. I like a LOT of different styles. I once wrote a fascinating (NOT!) term paper on the artistic merits of ancient Greek pottery for an art history class. I wrote another comparing the artistic careers of Rembrandt and Picasso (yes, I really did). And my favorite term paper was a little gem entitled "Marcel Duchamp's 'Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2': Its Significance as Related to Cubism and Futurism." (The title, while an accurate reflection of the topic, was my attempt to deliberately be as pretentious as possible - my idea of a little joke. I don't think anyone else got it. But I got an A on the paper.) Favorite Mediums: To work in myself - Fabric, pencil, oils, photographs, paper or digital collage, mixed media assemblage. For other people's work I like to see art work in all mediums. (Well, ok, except maybe things like so-called art made with bodily wastes and rotting garbage. I totally don't get the concept of using those sorts of things as art.) If you were given the opportunity to change all the artwork in your home for new, would you? No. As much as I love the idea of acquiring some new artwork, I have pieces in my home I wouldn't want to give up. Have you ever won a prize or award for your work? Yes Have you ever sold your art work? Yes Have you ever given away your art work? Yes Favorite colors: If you mean to work with, I tend to gravitate strongly toward water colors (blues, greens, purples) and toward 'most any bright clear colors. I'm not a fan of pastels or dunduggity colors with lots of grey in them ("country" colors), although I like true earth tones - the darker, warmer versions that don't have lots of grey. Where do you get your inspiration? From the Inspiration Fairy, of course! Doesn't everyone? Ok, seriously, I don't know. It could be from anything - a phrase in a book, a photograph, a color scheme in an ad, a shape I see somewhere around me, a dream. What are you currently working on? Answering this meme. :-) If you could own one famous work of art, what would it be? Ooooh, that's hard. There's lots I love. The first one I thought of was "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper, so that's what I'll go with. When should I get a wall ready?? Or if that one isn't available, I'd gladly take pretty much anything by Van Gogh, although I'm particularly partial to "The Starry Night", "The Night Cafe", and "Bedroom in Arles." Would you want to make your living as an artist, or prefer to keep money out of the creative process? Well gee, if I could just make what I want to make and people wanted to throw money at me for it, that would be wonderful (hey, I can dream!). But I don't like doing commissions and I'm not a huge fan of teaching classes. (I might like teaching classes if people would READ the frickin' supply lists and prep instructions - if any - and come prepared, but sadly for every half-dozen who do there's at least one who doesn't and they drive me NUTS.) What kind of atmosphere do you create best in? Quiet. I don't like noise (even background noise like music or TV) and I don't like interruptions. Of course this being real life, I don't always get uninterrupted quiet in which to create, but that's what I like best. Do you use/control your muse or does your muse use/control you? Despite my fondness for the horrid movie "Xanadu", I don't believe in muses. UhOh! Maybe that's why I haven't been too creative lately. Maybe I'm wrong and I DO have a muse but I've pissed her off by not believing. Yikes! (Her? Him? Are muses always female? Hhhmmm....) Maybe I'd better work on that belief thing. "I DO believe in muses, I DO believe in muses, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I DO believe in muses." (Name that mangled movie quote!) Since I chose "Nighthawks" as the famous artwork I'd most like to own, I thought I'd put my own little spin on it for today's DAT. "Self-Portrait with Johnny in the Nighthawks Diner" (Ok, not my best effort. But I didn't promise a daily masterpiece, only a daily attempt at some sort of creative effort.) If you want to do this meme on your blog, just tell me so in comments and you can consider yourself officially tagged! (And of course you can comment without considering yourself tagged too. I love it when people just pop over and say hello.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I've Got a Fever and There's Only One Cure (No, not More Cowbell)*

I've been having symptoms for weeks and trying to ignore them and pretend they'll go away, but it's no use, y'all. I have a full-blown case of New Camera Fever. While not fatal, this condition is annoying to someone with obsessive tendencies (who, moi?) and results in spending all too much time on sites like DP Review and C-Net and ePinions. Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that the camera I want does not yet exist although, being an optimist, I have a faint hope that maybe someday it will. Still, I thought I'd talk a little about my New Camera Dream here because a) how does the Universe know what to manifest for me if I don't ask for what I want, and b) some of you might know something I don't. Here's what I love about the camera I own now, an Olympus Stylus 410:
  • It's compact enough to slide into a pocket or small purse
  • It's weather-resistant. The Stylus line has gaskets and a special interior lining which means that (unlike the VAST majority of digital cameras, that are super-sensitive to moisture) you can stand in pouring rain taking photos and not ruin the camera. I've even heard of people taking these cameras into shallow water without ruining them, although Olympus specifically says not to and I've never had the nerve to try it.
  • It has great battery life. I can get a LOT of shots before I have to recharge.
  • It has a few nice perks like a self-timer and remote shutter release
  • It was quite affordable
  • It's Olympus and I'm a big fan of the brand. I've been using Olympus cameras for about 15 years and am currently on both my second Olympus film camera and my second Olympus digital.
Here's what I don't love about my current camera:
  • It's only 4 MP, which is adequate, but I want more - at least 7 MP
  • It only has a 3X optical zoom and I'd like more (It has the digital boost thing for the zoom that most digital cameras have, but I never use it as it pretty much sucks in terms of image quality)
  • The macro function on it sucks rocks. If I try to close in tighter than about a foot away, the focus is totally wrong. I want the ability to get in with a way tighter focus than I can with this camera.
  • It's not great in low light conditions either, although I've learned to compensate for that somewhat if I can set up a shot using a small tripod. But if I'm shooting on the fly in low light, most of the shots are a bust.
  • It has a mode menu where you can tell the camera to adjust for certain conditions (like low light or glare) but no true manual controls.
So here's what I want and believe does not currently exist in DigitalCameraLand:
  • Compact size (both small and light weight)
  • Weather resistance so I can take photos in the rain or next to a misty waterfall and still have a functional camera instead of an expensive paperweight
  • 7 MP or more of resolution
  • Really good macro ability
  • Better than 3X optical zoom
  • Decent performance in low light conditions
  • Good battery life
  • The ability to override the auto functions and take photos with the "wrong" settings for artistic effect
  • Use-friendly menus and button placement
  • An affordable price (in my terms that means $400 or less)
Now is that too much to ask?? From the research I've done so far, apparently so but hey, my wish is now out there in the Universe, so maybe it will manifest itself before I settle for less. And maybe someone out there who knows something I don't will see my wish list and come up with a recommendation! Today's DAT is a photo where I would have loved to see what I could do with a better macro function: "Under the Peonies" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window) *In case anyone doesn't get the pop culture reference in the subject line, it's a take-off on this famous SNL comedy sketch.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Air and Water

Even though I usually save the silly quizzes for Sunday, I've got nothin' today, so a quiz it is. (Hey, that rhymes!)
Your Element Is Air
You dislike conflict, and you've been able to rise above the angst of the world. And when things don't go your way, you know they'll blow over quickly. Easygoing, you tend to find joy from the simple things in life. You roll with the punches, and as a result, your life is light and cheerful. You find it easy to adapt to most situations, and you're an open person. With you, what you see is what you get... and people love that!
I'm not sure I entirely agree with the description, but parts of it are right and I find it interesting because astrologically speaking my rising sign is Aquarius (an air sign) and I also have several planets in Aquarius. I have a lot of water in my chart too and really expected my test result to say my element was water. I'd love to read that description if anyone decides to take the quiz and post it. Speaking of water (I loooooves me some smooth segues! HA!), yesterday Amy (The Calico Cat) sent me a fabulous photo she took in Australia and asked if I could make it more abstract using Photoshop Elements. She said I could use the results as a Daily Art Thang if I wanted, so that's what I'm doing. Here's the original photo: "London Bridge" by Amy P And here are a couple of the things I did with it, one Amy requested: "London Bridge Abstracted" and one I did for myself, just for fun: "Moon Bridge" Maybe I'll have more to say tomorrow. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Random Items from the Junk Drawer of my Mind #26

1. For all of you who love to read as much as I do, I highly recommend this book: "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen I started reading it Wednesday morning and thought hhmmm, this seems like it could be interesting. I read a little more and thought wow, this IS interesting. I read a little more and got so caught up in the story I forgot to think about how interested I was. I read every spare minute that day and then sat up an hour past when I meant to go to bed Wednesday night because I couldn't stand to wait until the next day to see how it ended. And when I read the last line of the last page I had a smile on my lips and tears in my eyes. I see it's gotten mostly positive reviews on Amazon but a few not-so-good, so I can't promise you'll all like it, but I loved it. I really did. When I read the negative reviews I was left feeling like they read an entirely different book than I did. This is one I'll be reading again in the future. 2. Happy Birthday, Grandpa Keeton! My only remaining grandparent (Dad's dad) is having his 88th birthday today, which means for the next 6 months he's exactly twice my age. I know he doesn't read RSR, but I'll say it anyway. (The photo is Grandpa holding me when we were both quite a few years younger than we are today.) 3. Today's Daily Art Thang: "Chicory" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Blue on Blue

The prompt at Poetry Thursday this week is Blue - the color, the mood, whatever blue means to us. One of the first things I thought of when I heard the prompt is the sky and flying, in particular the poem "High Flight" with its glorious phrase "Up, up the long delirious, burning blue" but I already posted that poem. My second thought was of Mary Oliver's poem "Blue Iris." And that's what I decided to share this week. I love this poem so much! I hope you like it too. Blue Iris Now that I'm free to be myself, who am I? Can't fly, can't run, and see how slowly I walk. Well, I think, I can read books. "What's that you're doing?" the green-headed fly shouts as it buzzes past. I close the book. Well, I can write down words, like these, softly. "What's that you're doing?" whispers the wind, pausing in a heap just outside the window. Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face. It doesn't happen all of a sudden, you know. "Doesn't it?" says the wind, and breaks open, releasing distillation of blue iris. And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be, the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle. ~~~Mary Oliver "Blue Iris Dream" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Y is for...

Time for another WordPlay Personal Dictionary Entry! If you want to know more about how and why I started doing this series of posts, read my "A is for..." entry. If you want to see a list of more people doing the same thing, check out Laume's WordPlay site. Now here we go... Y is for... Yahtzee - A game I like to play, both in real life and on the computer. It's a fun moment when all five dice turn up the same number and I get to yell "Yahtzee!" Yellow flowers - I love all colors of flowers, but if I had to choose a favorite flower color, I'd choose yellow. Yellow flowers look like little bits of sunshine that have landed on earth. Yarn (the kind you knit or crochet) - I'm a bad, BAD knitter, but I do it anyway because I so love all the fuzzy, floofy, frivolous (and sometimes sparkly!) novelty yarns that are out right now. I make scarf after scarf after scarf. Some I give away, but you can see from the collage that I've also kept quite a few. Yarn (a story) - I also like the phrase "spinning a yarn" to describe telling stories. To me, that phrase brings to mind the image of myths, legends, and folk tales handed down through the generations by the light of a fire on a dark night. (The book I show in the collage below is about a storyteller.) Yogurt - One of my favorite things to have for breaksfast. I like the kind with the fruit on the bottom, not blended. And I like it with sugar, not artificial sweetener (bleah). And I like sprinkling a little granola on top. My favorite flavors are peach and mixed berry. Yum!, Yikes!, Yay! - Y-words I say a lot. (And yes, they all have to have the exclamation marks after them.) Yes - A Y-word I like to hear people say to me. :-) "Y is for..." (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SPC: September, Week 1 - With Johnny

The September theme for the Self-Portrait Challenge is "With Someone" and the instructions are to "...include someone else in your self portrait. Someone meaningful to your life or to the moment or to a specific event that you wish to document." So naturally I have to start the month by sharing a self-portrait with my DearestDarlin'OnlyOne, a.k.a. my husband, a.k.a. Johnny, a.k.a. J. I chose to share a glimpse into some of my favorite moments with J - the quiet moments alone. Edited to add: In case anyone else wonders, as Janet did, what the heck we're holding in the top left photo, it's a peeled pear. We have several apple and pear trees along one side of our driveway and one of the things J does when we go for walks together and the fruit is ripe is to pick an apple or pear and he'll peel it and slice it for us to share as we walk. He would probably just eat it as-is if he was alone, but he knows I'm grossed out (almost to the point of phobic) by fruit and/or veggie skins (it's a texture thing!). So even though he thinks it's silly, he indulges me by peeling it before we share it, because he loves me. :-) "Self-Portrait with Johnny" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Monday, September 04, 2006

One Deep Breath: Solitude

The theme at One Deep Breath this week is "Solitude." Here's what Susan had to say about the theme: "At times we seek solitude. In traditional Japanese haiku, the poet often seeks to portray wabi-sabi which has many interpretations in Western culture. In general, the meaning implies beauty in imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. (see Wiki Wiki Web) It also infers a sense of solitude." Cool! That seems like a theme that could go a lot of different directions. Here are a couple of places my thoughts took me (these two are not meant to be read as a pair or anything, they're just two different takes on the theme): My imagination soars when I am alone in the Silence of Me. Standing alone, wrapped in chains and wire. Still there is beauty at my feet. "Still Standing" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Gather 'Round the Table

I saw this food-themed meme over at Fond of Snape and thought it was fun, so I just had to play along. How do you like your eggs? Deviled. Or scrambled. Maybe scrambled with some dill weed and Swiss cheese sprinkled on top. Or fried over-medium. Or in an omelet with lots of veggies. Or...oh, never mind. How do you take your coffee/tea? I like my first two cups of coffee in the morning to be tall, strong, black, and steaming hot. No frills, just mega-caffeine. If I drink any coffee later in the day I like to have frou-frou flavored coffees like vanilla-hazelnut with sugar and milk, either hot or iced. I like hot tea with a little sugar. (My favorites are English breakfast, Earl Grey, and Lady Grey.) I like iced tea either sweetened or plain - doesn't make much difference to me. Favorite breakfast foods: Cereal with fruit and milk, or yogurt topped with granola, or oatmeal with a little real maple syrup drizzled on it. Or I'll go clear to the other end of the spectrum and have something like a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit from McDonald's. I know, I know...SO bad! Peanut butter: smooth or crunchy? Preferably smooth. I'm more picky about brand than crunch and picky people pick Peter Pan peanut butter. What kind of dressing on your salad? Almost anything. I like to use a variety of dressings so I don't get bored with any of them. Coke or Pepsi? Coke when I drink it at all, which is extremely rarely. You're feeling lazy. What do you make? A bowl of cereal, if you want to call pouring milk over cereal "making" something. Or microwave popcorn. Or a scrambled egg. Or a grilled cheese if I have any bread in the house, which I quite often don't. (This is all assuming I'm feeding just myself. If there's anyone else in the house, I'll come up with something better than this even when I'm not in the mood because I'm not gonna hand someone else a bowl of cereal and call it "supper." I'm just not.) You're feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? Pepperoni, mushroom, onion, and green olive. You feel like cooking. What do you make? Do I really? How odd of me. Oh, I dunno, pasta maybe. Or I might bake a cake or something. I really think you're mistaken that I feel like cooking. Are you sure you don't mean I feel like going out to eat? Do any foods bring back good memories? Sure! Almost anything that's traditional US southern cooking reminds me of my mom and both grandmothers and is loaded with good memories - country ham and biscuits, pinto beans and corn bread, fried chicken and gravy, blackberry cobbler, peach crisp - stuff like that. Do any foods bring back bad memories? Um, yeah, but trust me when I say you don't want me to tell you why. Next! Do any foods remind you of someone? Steak makes me think of J. Chess pie makes me think of my dad. Is there a food you refuse to eat? Loads. I'm kind of picky. Off the top of my head - any and all organ meats, cabbage in any form, dill pickles, any sort of melon, bananas, and most root vegetables (I like potatoes - white or sweet - and carrots, but that's about it for me and roots). What was your favorite food as a child? Hhhmm, I'm not sure I had one thing that stood out as a favorite, except that I've always had a huge sweet tooth. Is there a food that you hated as a child but now love? Asparagus Is there a food that you loved as a child but now hate? Bananas, although it's not a matter of hating the taste. I developed an allergy to them in the past 20 years or so and if I eat them now the inside of my mouth swells up. That tends to make one feel a little hostile toward the food in question. Favorite fruit & vegetable: Raspberries and the formerly-hated asparagus Favorite junk food: If I'm in the mood for salty - tortilla chips and salsa. If I'm in the mood for sweet - just about any sort of homemade cookies. Favorite between meal snack: See previous answer. Sadly, if I want a snack, I probably want junk food, although I do like fruit a lot too. Do you have any weird food habits? Well they don't seem weird to me, but I have some habits other people seem to find weird. Like I detest putting tartar sauce on a fish sandwich but I love to dip French fries in tartar sauce. And I like to dip onion rings in bleu cheese salad dressing, although it isn't my favorite dressing to put on a salad. I don't particularly like to dip fries OR onion rings in ketchup. You're on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? I am? Damn, I hate when that happens. Salad. Fruit. You're off your diet. Now what would you like? Pizza and cake! How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? On a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 is like plain white rice and 10 is so loaded with spices it makes tears stream down your face, I like Indian or Thai food at about a 7. Can I get you a drink? I don't know, can you? May I get you a drink? Ok, thanks! I'll take a margarita, rocks, lots of salt. Unless I'm driving, then I'll take a tall glass of ice water with a slice of lemon or lime. Red wine or white? White please. Something not too sweet. We only have beer: Ugh, I hate beer. If beer is my only choice, I'll take an icy cold Shiner Hefeweizen and take small, polite sips and try not to grimace. Favorite dessert? Coconut cake. No, wait, coconut cream pie. No, key lime pie. No, no, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Or, ooh, how about chocolate rum cake. No, um...what was the question again? The perfect nightcap? I'll stick with Janet's answer - a kiss. Edited to add (based on Catherine's comment): US to UK/Aussie/Kiwi Translator cookie = biscuit biscuit = scone (savory, not sweet) fries = chips chips = crisps (I don't mean to leave out anyone from other countries, but I'm not sure what everyone calls these things. I just know these because my bestest bud is from NZ. Well, that and the fact that I like a lot of British TV and novels.) If you want to post your own answers to this meme, tell me so in comments and you can consider yourself officially tagged. Or you can bypass the Self-serve Meme Tag line and get in the Comment Express line if you just want to say hi. Today's DAT: "Caution" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday Snippets #2

I'm late posting anything today, but I just got back from a quick last-minute trip to Cincinnati. J had to go up there just overnight to work on something so I went with him for a hotel date. Yay! I looked at the Purple People Bridge as I drove over the river on the Big Mac Bridge (the yellow auto traffic bridge you can see in at least one photo on the PPB bridge climb site). I was hoping to see a climb in progress, but alas, no such luck, either yesterday afternoon or this morning. I could see the rails and stuff where the climb takes place, but that's all. I'm SO gonna do this at some point, y'all. My friend Bev even emailed me and said she'd do it too if we can work out a time when we can get together. Yay Bev! Other than that, not much to report today. Half Price Books was having a Labor Day weekend sale with everything in the store 20% off and I bought six books because I NEED more books. Ahem. J and I went out for Mexican food and margaritas and the rest is nothing we need to talk about here. Hope you're all having a great weekend! Today's DAT: "September Sumac" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)

Friday, September 01, 2006

I want to do this!

What do I want to do, you ask? This! I want to climb across the top of the Purple People Bridge that spans the Ohio River, connecting Cincinnati, OH with Newport, KY. The bridge was built in 1872, then closed in 2001, then reopened as a pedestrian-only bridge in 2003. Then earlier this year they opened a feature where you can climb up to a walkway that goes across the top of the bridge so that at the peak of the climb you're standing about 140 ft. above the Ohio River with glorious views in every direction. Doesn't that sound freakin' awesome?? The down sides: *They don't let people just walk across on their own. You have to do it as part of a guided tour and I really dislike guided tours. But I get the safety issues involved. I do. There are a lot of stupid people in this world and if it was my bridge I wouldn't turn just anyone loose to wander across the top on their own either. It would be a tragedy waiting to happen. *You have to wear a really ugly "uniform" while you're on the guided tour. Publicly shared clothing - like bowling shoes for your whole body. BLEAH! *It's pricy - ridiculously so, IMO. I would pay as much $25 - 30 for the experience without a second thought, but $40 - 60? That's giving me second, third, and fourth thoughts. But I haven't stopped thinking. *They won't let people take their own camera on the tour!!!!!! Aaaarrrggghhhh! This one is HUGE to me because the thought of the photos I could get up there makes my heart go pitter-pat. Oh sure, you get a "complimentary" group shot taken by the tour guide (for ~$50 a ticket, it should come in a silver frame that says "you're pretty." THAT would be complimentary). And the website says they are "happy to take additional photos for you, just ask your guide" but noticeably does NOT say how much one would have to pay to acquire these cheerfully taken additional photos. I bet it ain't cheap. And I bet I wouldn't like them as much as photos I'd take myself. But still - STILL! - despite all these things making me feel distinctly snarky toward the people running this experience, I think about climbing on top of that bridge and standing there in that ugly-ass yellow and purple cootiefied suit and being able to see around me for miles. I think about the wind in my face and the world at my feet. Well, ok, maybe not the world, but at least the Tri-state area. I think about how it would feel and I want it. Fiercely. I may have to do this. Below is today's Daily Art Thang, which has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post. I just think it's kind of pretty. "Floating" (clickable if you want to see it larger in a new window)