Sunday, February 28, 2010


Sunday mornings, my favorite time. The weather forecast for this morning was iffy, rain and snow showers predicted until around 4 am. Zeus woke me at 6 and told me that it was clear, dry and warm. Fifteen minutes later I was out the door. The sun was just beginning to brighten up the eastern horizon so out to the west it was still dark. Until I turned the corner at the end of our street.

There was the most incredible full moon I have ever seen. Huge and golden with two lines of clouds in front of it. It was like a picture out of a children's Halloween book, minus the witch or black cat. I found myself stopping to stare at it. Unfortunately, the only camera in the car was my little point-and-shoot so this photo certainly cannot convey what it really looked like.

Within five minutes a few more clouds moved in front of it and suddenly a moon reflection was shooting straight up. I'm not really sure how to describe it except that it was probably the most beautiful moonset ever.

Did I mention that I love Sunday mornings?

$2.62 plus a carwash token

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Every one except the right one

In my storage/toy/photo/catchall room is a closet with a variety of boxes and bins. One of those bins is filled with cords, plugs, small parts to electronics, extension cords, telephones, modems, adapters and other unidentifiable wires.

This morning I went in search of an ethernet cord. Through the years we've had probably seven or eight different modems so I knew there had to be one in that bin. Nope, not one. But in the process of looking and glancing up at the rest of the large closet I realized that it is time to thin out the garbage. That ten year old Caller ID sitting next to the keyboard from the Texas Instruments computer (kidding!) were just taking up much needed space. The life of these gadgets was over long ago. The box has got to go. I never did find the ethernet cord that I needed.

The reason I needed the cord was for my afternoon project. About three years ago Mom (she's 78) finally got rid of her very old desktop computer (Windows 95?). Solitaire was the only thing it was ever used for and that was rare. In the past she had done some emailing but that's about it. Her volunteer position at the hospital was data entry so she was fairly familiar with a keyboard and computers.

Mom's sister is going on a church mission for two years to New Zealand. Internet will be the communication link for them. Yesterday I picked up a shiny new laptop for her and today Eris and I spent about five hours getting her set up and re-teaching her the basics of email. Oh man, was she surprised at the speed it operated, the wireless capabilities and how many things she could do. By the time I left she had entered a bunch of addresses and sent a number of messages back and forth to her sister. I walked her through an online rebate and set up a Skype account. There is a notebook with cheat sheets sitting next to her new toy to get her through the basics. It came loaded with Solitaire and Yahtzee, her favorites. She was smiling tonight, although I think a little overwhelmed at the same time.

Yesterday's ralk was wonderful! It was very warm when I left the house. Quarters and dimes were everywhere. Love those car washes this time of year. Two hours later as I headed home it started to snow and continued all through the day. I don't mind because the crocus, daffodils and tulips are all coming up. Sure signs of spring.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The pointless post

Time. I don't know where it goes. Seems like just yesterday I was taking that photo of Dad's camera. Four days. It's already Friday and thinking back about the last week there really has been a lot accomplished. My downstairs rooms are finally put back together and the Christmas tree has been moved to the other side of the storage room door where it will stay until Thanksgiving. Scrapbooks are updated, a few cupboards have been cleaned and the floor has been mopped three times (love those children).

Fun things are happening along with the work. A family gathering was held last Sunday to visit with the Denverites. On Grandma Tuesday three little ones got their first experience at bowling. There is nothing cuter than little two and three-year-olds dancing in their itty bitty size 7 bowling shoes each time the pins start to fall over! We've got to do that one again!

Watching the Olympics has provided nighttime entertainment, complete with popcorn or smoothies.

For the last two days I have spent quite a few hours at this computer learning some new photoshop skills. Oh man, will this ever stop? Just when I thought layers had been conquered I find out that the most important aspect of this tool has gone unused in my editing. A new book combined with careful studying, experimenting, a little hair-pulling and quiet profanity have proven to be valuable. (The above image is the Prince taken last month.)

This morning brought two hours of bliss out on the streets. It is beginning to warm up (mid-30s). Add to that the earlier sunrise and it almost feels like spring. Zeus told me this afternoon that the plants in the front yard are beginning to green up.

So goes my life. Every day brings new challenges. Never bored.

$3.14 and a hat

Monday, February 15, 2010

Guilty pleasures

They are known as MWAC (Mom with a Camera). Or AWAC (Amateurs with a Camera). In our very small town there are 35 businesses listed as "Photography". THIRTYFIVE! This last week I took a 6 hour class in which I learned that our wonderful state of Utah is the second from the bottom in the likelihood to succeed as a professional photographer. Soon it is expected to be at the bottom.

I've always loved taking photographs and sharing them with others. I remember clearly snapping a 35mm frame of Jubee playing with some balloons when she was just a toddler. It came out blurry and I was terribly disappointed. The lab tech kindly explained that my nice point-and-shoot camera would not focus at a close distance. About five years ago I sweet-talked Zeus into getting my first DSLR. I was hooked from the first time I held that massive Nikon in my hands and started shooting everything I could. That camera has since been upgraded and additional equipment has gradually been acquired that allows wider experiences in my chosen hobby.

The questions have been swirling in my head for quite some time. I have long considered myself to be an amateur/hobbyist and have had no desire to take that next step to professional. There are many reasons for this, the biggest being that I don't want my playtime to become a job. There is plenty of self-imposed stress involved at my current level without having to worry about deadlines, legal issues, taxes, advertising, etc. etc. etc. I never want to replace the unlimited enjoyment with a 40 (or more) hour work week.

So why the guilt trip? Several times and in various forums I have heard professional photographers express contempt for amateur photographers. It seems that MWACs and AWACs have deeply cut into the pros' earnings potential. Most are struggling with lagging incomes and fewer clients. Equipment, insurance and other business expenses quickly eat up any profits that might come their way. The Internet has made it possible to share images with distant loved ones, no need for prints. The once-lucrative photography profession has taken a hit in the pocketbook by rapidly changing technology.

With the advancement of digital cameras and the ever-improving computer technology even a first-grader has the ability to produce nice photographs. On the flip side, I have invested countless hours in classrooms, books, research and practice to get to where I am currently. As I blogged recently, there is so much more to learn.

Finally, I have come to terms. I am comfortable with my position. I am a GWAC. And I do not feel guilty.


(The camera once belonged to my father in the late 40's. It took wonderful candid photos of my parents and probably would still work if I could find film for it.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Street Plastic

One of my favorite street finds (other than paper dollars) is gift cards. It's like a Christmas present under the tree with a sticker on it that says "Don't open until Dec. 25th". (I know most of you don't wait, but I do.) The anticipation of finding out what's in that pretty wrapped box is part of the fun.

The same thing happens whenever I pick up a gift card on the street. It goes in my pocket and is carried home where I either call the number on the back for a balance or go to a website and punch in the numbers. Often they have been run over or damaged in some other way. Shortly after the holidays I found a Sears card in which the laminated front had completely come apart from the back due to being in the snow for quite a while. After finding out it had a $20 balance I took it to our local store where the nice salesperson immediately exchanged it for a new one. Too bad Walmart won't do the same. No swipe, no cash. Ugh.

Two days ago after running an errand at the university Littlest and I took a side stroll over to the parking meters where the snow had recently melted. The ground yielded six quarters and a few dimes but the exciting find was a gift card. It was nearly two hours before I could log on to discover that the balance on the card was $1.48. Not the $100 that I was hoping for but better than nothing! I've found countless cards while numismatizing. They have bought gas for cars, burgers at fast food restaurants, groceries and a few items of clothing.

Side note: Littlest is ruthless when it comes to finding and pocketing coins. She doesn't give them up to me. They go home in her pockets where I suspect they eventually end up in Eris' washing machine.


$1.48 gift card

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Oath

Being an American citizen is something that I've always taken for granted. I've been fortunate to enjoy the comforts afforded to me simply because of the circumstances of my birth. Travel into rural Mexico and ten eye-opening days in the Philippines gave me a glimpse of true poverty, the likes of which most Americans will not experience and therefore cannot comprehend.

A few days ago we had a chance to witness the Naturalization of Luis, one of our dear friends. The ceremony was held in a small theater in SLC and included 100 new citizens who came from countries as close as Canada and Mexico to as distant as Rwanda. The ages spanned from 18 through 75. The actual ceremony was brief and consisted of the group taking a surprisingly long oath of allegiance. After that the new Americans were given a chance to tell a little about why they were here and what it means to them. I would dare say there wasn't a dry eye in the auditorium after the gentleman from Rwanda spoke about his harrowing experiences and his gratitude for the new opportunities that both he and his family now were being given. A standing ovation followed.

I live in one of the reddest states in the nation but am blue to the core. Frustration and disbelief at the one-sided and short-sighted politics that governs our state makes me shake my head til it hurts. Still, being a part of this inspiring ceremony made me take a step back and realize just how lucky that we all are to be here. I can vote. Granted, that vote doesn't usually mean much here but at least I have that privilege.

Congratulations Luis!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lonely Rhinestone

The popcorn has been vacuumed up off the basement floor. The furniture and decor has been returned to the rightful places. Tutus are in the toy room waiting for the next onslaught of little girls. Images have been edited and printed. Zeus has safely returned home from his short trip to the south.

The photo above is an earring that is without a mate. All I could come up with was the oval rhinestone. Hopefully in all of the excitement of the evening this lonely earring got tangled in some tulle and it will glitter it's way back home. (It does have some sentimental value to me.)
Can you mommies please check your backpacks and toy boxes?

There is a stack of unclaimed items that were gathered up after the storm of XX chromosomes left on Saturday. Among those things are a pink coat (Addi?), a baggie of small clothes, two bags of fingernail polish, some miscellaneous baubles and a large canister of red licorice (get it out!!!).

Some of my favorite photos of that memorable evening have been posted at the Shooting Blog. Click on over to see what fun we had!

$2.05 (I am loving the earlier sunrise and slightly warmer temps!)