Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Geek Tree

Several people have heard me talk about the surprise I had planned for Richard this year... an aptly named "Geek Tree" covered with ornaments from movies, books and cartoons that he loves.

Finding some of these ornaments wasn't easy, but it was a nice distraction from the upcoming holidays, which I knew I would not find pleasant, and it would be something that would bring Richard some happiness.

The thought to use Cornelius from Planet of the Apes as a most unlikely angel topper was sort-of last minute, but he actually works very well as the icing on the top of the cake, so to speak.

Now this is maybe only half of the ornaments that currently decorate the tree and the joy is knowing that we can add more to the tree in the years to come.

This won't be our tree every year; or maybe we will set it up as a small, secondary tree some years.

It certainly makes for something unique, and a conversational piece for those who have seen it.

There are a few pieces on here that may be just a wee more me than Richard, like the Fantasia ornament of Hyacinth Hippo and Ben Al E Gator (below), though my Raggedy Ann and Andy ornament somehow failed to be used... I am not sure how I forgot it, but that's okay, because I can use it next year.

So what ornaments would you include on your own "geek tree"?

Would it be the Ecto1 from "Ghostbusters"? The one I didn't get around to buying, but that I will certainly be adding for future trees?

Or would it be something newer, like Iron Man or Thor? I would have loved adding a Loki ornament if I could have found one.

Would you stick, as I did, with purchased ornaments, or would you try sculpting some of your own?

Would you go with a complete theme, like novels only, or use a eclectic hodpodge of favorites from throughout your life?
So what do you think of our tree for this year? Feel free to comment and let me know.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What A Difference A Morning Makes

I woke up this morning a little bummed about having to go to work today... after all, I've gotten to enjoy having three day weekends, especially since my husband has Mondays off, and I don't see nearly as much of him as I'd like.

I got ready to drive into the office; weighing myself down with purse, lunch, presents I am shipping out today, before remembering that, with this being winter, that I would need my jacket as well.

I reached into the closet, pulled it from its hanger and managed to toss it over one shoulder without dropping my load. I had my usual struggle with locking the door behind me and then walked out to my car, mentally ticking off the items I had in my arms and wondering if I had forgotten anything.

The light seemed dark for this time of day, as, by now, the sun should have been peeking its golden head out over the peaks and spreading the valley with its glow. I looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds hanging overhead, obscuring the nearby mountaintops. Thick foggy tendrils were creeping along the ribs of the mountains, like locks of Medusa's hair, slow and sluggish on this winter morn.

I pulled out and made my way into the office, marveling at how the world looked, wrapped in layers of pearly gray and pale blue. The wet pavement, like a mirror, reflecting the colors back to a sky draped in the colors of rain.

I don't know what it is about days like today that just thrill me to the core. Somehow the promise of pending rain always makes me feel clean... renewed... comforted. As if someone has wrapped me in a downy thick comforter of warm woolens and soft goose feathers.

And so I am thankful for today, and for all of the mornings like today that I can look forward to in this life. Its knowing days like this exist that make the days of darkness seem easier to tackle.

Thank you Heavenly Father, for creating such beauty and comfort in even the simplest of things.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

From the iPod....

Just what do all of these songs have in common? You'd probably never guess it, but these are some of the songs that I have sung in public (karaoke, play tryouts, etc). They also share the distinction of being songs that I still love, even after all these years.


"Passionate Kisses" Mary-Chapin Carpenter


"And So It Goes" Billy Joel


"Puff the Magic Dragon" Peter, Paul and Mary

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time To Go

Fun short film about a curious little quadropus who turns the city around him blue...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Almost All The Pretty Little Stars

I found something fun the other day.

I love the stars... I love to lie there and watch them at night, twinkling away hundreds and thousands of light years away; light only now reaching us, when the star that emitted them could be long gone.



I find it fascinating, and so beautifully haunting. I don't know what exactly it is, but I find looking at the stars almost like greeting old friends. I keep an eye out for my favorites, and it warms my heart to see their reappearance with the change of the season...

Which is why I found this to be so entertaining. Its an interactive star map... you can watch the tour (which is fun on its own) or zip around to the stars you are interested in.

Now not everyone is in there... this is in Beta mode still (and I am trying to not be sad that my beloved Sirius is not included as of yet) but it does give wonderful information, gorgeous images and you can learn something at the same time... how is that not amazing?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coming Attractions

Okay everyone, don't think less of me for this, but I am really looking forward to the new Nicholas Hoult comedy coming out in February... oh wait, that makes it a Valentines release, doesn't it?

Okay, that made me laugh. Watch the preview, you'll see why.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

First Snowfall

The first real snow of the season arrived yesterday here on the valley floor. We had been teased by dustings of snow covering the mountains, with only a few flirtations here far below... quick falls that would quickly melt and fade nearly as fast as it had come. I sat and watched as large, feathery flakes spiralled out of a gray sky, blanketing the world in a quilt of fluffy eiderdown, dappled in shades of white, gray and pale blue.

What a beautiful way to bury the dying remains of fall and leaving everything fresh and clean; allowing the world the time it needs to be reborn again in the spring into something new... and there is something so comforting, so soothing and peaceful in watching the snowfall when you are safe and warm indoors. Some reassurance that you are home...

Maybe its because snow is so tied to the holidays. Growing up in the mountains of northern Washington state, the snow would sometimes arrive in time for Halloween, and by Thanksgiving it was down to stay; not to melt until March or April. Seeing the world wrapped up in its winter finery always makes me want to reach for a cup of steaming, fragrant hot cocoa or a warm spiced cider. Something cosy against the chill outside.

Jason loved the snow. He would wait for the first snowfall, and when it came, would put on his traditional song, light candles heavy with the scent of Christmas and watch the snow as it drifted down.

I thought of that tradition yesterday... I even considered doing it for myself, but somehow couldn't bring myself to do it. I even found excuses... oh the speakers aren't set up yet, or I would have to dig the CD out of the office.

I woke up this morning and saw the trees outside my window, looking so lovely and graceful with their bare branches wearing their new winter coats, and couldn't resist any longer. I got up, made my way here to the living room where I found the song on youtube.

Feel free to listen for yourself to the introduction to winter.... its called "First Snowfall" and its by Michael W Smith.

I hope you will excuse me, for I am off to make myself a cup of cider now.

Welcome winter....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Road Trip!

I'm off and playing with my little seestas, whom I very much adore. I forgot how much I light up around them, and Richard even made the comment that its nice to see me happy again, considering I've been walking around like a bit of a zombie lately. Its raining cats and dogs here, and we had snow off and on for part of the drive, but we arrived safe and sound, and, as a perk, my amazing brother in law installed my new car radio so Richard and I will have some tunes for the rest of the drive! Its nice to be able to relax and hang. Tomorrow we'll leave Moscow and head up to Chewelah. Monday its to Sandpoint and then Tuesday we head for home.... Short, but sweet.... and I am happy that we came.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Over the river and through the woods....

...and so much further we will have to go.

Bright and squirelly tomorrow morning is when Richard and I hit the open road, off to see the family up north... waaayyyyyy up north (like 12 hours of non-stop driving north).

It will be wonderful to go up and spend time with the girls, and to finally introduce Richard to Miya and Roy. It will also be fun to spend a bit of time with both of my parents and to show Richard the places that I love the most in this world. Finally, it'll be nice to get away, even if its only for a very short zip up and back... with all that has been happening these last few months, we could both use a road trip. We haven't had one since we moved Richard from Texas last August and we're both a bit antsy to go and "see the sights"... but then, we road people are always fairly easy to please, aren't we? Its not as if we are pining to fly to Paris or some other exotic port.

Surprisingly there is more room in my car than I thought I would have, and packing so far has gone pretty quickly. I might have to find some more things to box up and take along! Looks like there will be room for my laptop after all, and possibly even a soft, fluffy pillow!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From the iPod....

Today's focus is on a band I was introduced to not very long ago called Green River Ordinance. I admit I didn't pay much attention at the time, but it seems like their songs keep queueing up in my shuffle mix a lot lately, so I gave them another listen today...and loved it... lets hope you do too.



"Goodbye L.A."





"Heart of Me"





"Dancing Shoes"





"Lost in the World"





"Beauty of Letting Go"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Perfect Purple



I dreamt of helping others to find the perfect purple.

They would come forward, searching, and I in return would pull out just what it was that they were looking for. I would hand over swatches for all who approached me; each piece about the size of my hand and rectangular in shape... and the people would walk away happy, secure in the knowledge that this piece was for them, and them alone.

Soft chenilles of lilac and nubby woolens of a heather hue. Velvets of the deepest plum and satins of a pure periwinkle; the same, fleeting shade as when day gives way to twilit evening.

Delicate shades of amethyst, orchid, lavender, pansy and thistle. Rich imperials, eggplant, mulberry and heliotrope... all these hues and thousands more slipped through my fingers without hesitation, and graced the hands of all those who came seeking.

And I? I did not keep one for myself, but it wasn't a concern, for it was as if a little part of all that I gave away somehow imbued me with a touch of its grace before departing on its new path in life. Each allowing me a touch of the comfort and peace it had to offer, until I felt I could hardly keep from bursting at the bounty laid before me.

It is amazing how certain dreams can stay with you. This dream was from over a year ago, and yet I awoke this morning with the echo of it on my mind.... that same peace, and the warmth that comes from being selfless to others. My simple writings cannot come close to conveying the sweetness that dream has afforded me, but I wish it could.

If it were somehow possible to give the world what it sought after I would, be it even a simple piece of cloth.

The dream, I know, isn't really about colors, or cloth, or any truly physical thing, but about love. Unwavering love, kindness and charity. While I am a hopelessly flawed creature, these are things that I can offer to those around me. I do not have to be a Mother Teresa, serving in the far reaches, but I can be there to those around me. For those in my own little corner of the world.

Such a simple thing.... but one I hope that would have far reaches.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Great Public Service Announcement

I guess even zombies like fresh meat!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Comic Relief - Doctor Who

Incredibly funny.... and goodness knows we could certainly use a laugh or two lately.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap



A lot of people have already posted recipes for their own homemade laundry soap, but I've made a couple of tweaks to mine, so I thought what the heck, I'll post my version. Not only will it be a simple post to get back into the swing of blogging, but maybe someone else in my family (99.9% of my followers right now are family) will want to try this for themselves as it really does work and its so inexpensive to make.

Homemade laundry soap doesn't take much time to make, and I love how I am in control of just what goes in there... mostly because I am allergic to so many different brands out there. Tired of feeling itchy all the time when trying out a new brand (or even a new scent of brands that I knew I could safely use) was annoying, and really expensive as I would then have to go back to the store to buy something else and just give those old mostly-full bottles away.

For me, I have a glass jar that I keep in my laundry room (I like the glass because it looks pretty in there with those yellow Fels Naptha curls, and I can also keep an eye on how much I have left...I purchased the jar at Target for less than $5). As its a two-gallon jar, I make this in large batches, which will last me for eons.... however, you can start small if you'd like and cut this recipe down. For those who use the laundromat, just toss this power into a ziplock baggie and away you go... light, easy to dispense and it smells amazing!

For those who have had disappointing results with powdered soaps in the past, I understand your reluctance to try this. I hated having powdery residue on my laundry after washing, and I was positive that liquid soap was my only solution.... but not anymore. This mix not only dissolves completely but it will even do so when washing in cold water cycles! The ingredients can all be found at your local WallyWorld or WinCo stores in the laundry aisle, but other stores may make you hunt around a bit.

My version:

1 box of Borax
1 box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
3 bars of Fels Naptha soap
1 small tub of OxyClean

First you'll want to get out your cheese grater and grate up the Fels Naptha.... you can do fine shreds or larger ones.... personally, I like the way the larger yellow shreds look in the jar and it makes the job go a lot faster. Now some people do not like the smell of Fels Naptha (I love it) so you can substitute a different laundry bar instead. I've heard of people also switching to Ivory, Dove or other body soaps, but I am not sure how well those will clean in the end, as Fels Naptha fights stains. Of course, now that I have added the OxyClean to the mix, maybe the Fels Naptha is no longer necessary, but, as I said before, I love how it smells, so I will keep adding it to my mix. Heck, at less than a dollar a bar its not as if I am spending a lot for something that I really like.

Pour all of your ingredients together and mix. Ta-da! You are done. I have seen some people toss the mix in one-cup increments into the blender to make a finer powder, but this is a time-waster to me...

When using, a heaping tablespoon handles normal loads and I use 2 heaping tablespoons for things like towels and bedding.

This is HE safe as it does not lather up much (note that lather does not always equal clean; even though this is not lathering up like you are used to seeing, it really is working!) I always wind up with a nice clean (not perfumed) scent from my laundry. Whites are still white and nothing so far has come out gray and dingy (and I've been using this stuff for a good 8 or 9 months now). Its definitely worth a try, and it works out to pennies a load, even with buying the name brand OxyClean rather than generic. It works great on anything urine-smelling, but I usually add a half cup of apple cider vinegar to the wash anyway when I am handling anything a cat may have had an accident on....

Oh, if you want to start small, use one cup each of Borax and Washing Soda, one bar of Fels Naptha and half a cup of OxyClean.

I have not done this personally, but a lot of people also add a few drops of whatever essential oils they enjoy to the mix.... lavender, orange... whatever floats your boat in order to have a more "scented" pile of laundry. As I mentioned before I find that following the recipe that my laundry comes out smelling clean and not perfumed as it is (with my allergies its what works for me), but any additions you want to make are completely up to you.

So remember this when you find yourself in the laundry aisle, groaning over how expensive a bottle of Tide is getting.... once you try this simple mix I don't think you'll be going back.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

From the iPod

I've been missing my brother a lot these last few weeks and, for the most part I've been strong. Its who I am.... the girl who holds her shit together so she can be there for everyone else. While I have cried and hurt during that time, its only these last few days that I have really allowed myself to let go, to stop focusing so much on the next task that needs to be done and simply looked at the tatters of my life and started pulling those pieces back together.

Jason loved Dustin Christensen, which is why I made sure we included this song for the music that played at his viewing... even with the tears it brings, it is still a favorite of mine. I want to thank you Jase for all of the beautiful music you brought into my life...



"Old House" by Dustin Christensen ... from the album "Highway Lines"



So take me home tonight

Tell me I'm all right

Tell me this picture frames got you now





You were my hand's glove

How I learned how to love

Tell me I ain't got it all figured out





Farwell my old house

Farewell my old life

Tell me I'm simpler

Alone without you now





So long my sad eyes

Don't say its goodbye

Guide when I can't see

I won't let you down





Here lies all my friends I've known

All my dreams just scatter in the air





Farewell my old house

Farewell my old life

Tell me I'm simpler

I know I am now





Lord let this hurt pass

Cos I don't know how to act

And it feels like I'm already gone from you now

So long now

Monday, September 3, 2012

Strange Dreams

I had the strangest dream last night.... but then several of my dreams lately have been fairly odder than usual. This one was especially different... you see, I spent the entire dream in one place.... and I spent it shopping for clothes!

Shopping? I hear you say.... What is so strange about shopping?

Let me tell you.....

I hate clothes shopping. I don't like crowds, so I usually avoid malls, and there are about a bajillion things I would much rather be doing than to stand in a store looking at cutesy stuff that is never in my size or, if it is, tends to be made for a gal with linebacker shoulders and comes only with plunging necklines. Here's a little sidebar to the world of fashion design.... not every girl with cleavage wants to show it off, and not ever plus size girl is as broad as a barn.

But I digress....

In this dream I walked into a shop that seemed familiar from long ago, but I know in reality I have never seen such a place.

I lingered over tiered skirt fabric that you cut to your waist size, sew a hem down one side and magically have a skirt that actually fits you. In my dream I spent hours twirling about with different fabrics pressed to my hips, imagining myself in peasant skirts made of vibrant batiks. I finally decided on one and carefully cut it to my size... glorious folds of royal purple and golden amber in a luscious swirling design (as a sidenote, I truly would have loved this skirt as I am a sucker for batiks in swirling designs).

I wandered to the cloaks, where I found a glorious red cloak that seemed made for me... until I saw the price tag and I regretfully put it back.

I walked over to the shawls and tried finding one I loved as much as that beautiful cloak, but wasn't succeeding. I tried on velvets in green and rust, silkens in rose and cream, and even beautifully crocheted pieces with fringe that nearly trailed the ground and felt like they weighed nothing....

But I couldn't stop thinking about that cloak.

Even now, awake and starting my day, I am thinking about that cloak. Red is not a color I would normally choose for myself, in fact, I have only one blouse that is that bright shade (see my profile picture in the sidebar), but I still remember how, in my dream that cloak fit like it was made just for me, and how wonderful it felt to wear it... I even remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking with amazement at just how good I looked in that color. And I know one thing...

If I knew where to find that cloak in real life, I would somehow find $1500 and I would make it mine.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Curiosity and the 7 Minutes of Terror

The night of August 5th will bring more than just a lovely view of the stars and Mars shining in the twilight sky... NASA will be landing CURIOSITY, the newest Mars Rover onto the surface in a series of calculated maneuvers that they are calling the 7 Minutes of Terror. Essentially the pod containing the Rover will undergo several transformations during its 7 minute descent through the thin Martian atmosphere to the planet's rusty red surface. Feel free to watch the thrilling dramatization for yourself and see just how far stellar technology has come in just the last few decades. You can also watch realtime video and updates here. The landing will take place August 5th at 10:31 pm PDT...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shawna's Summer Movie Review - The Dark Knight Rises



**Warning, nothing serious is discussed, there are a few spoilers within**

This may come out as a bit harsh, but here are my impressions on the film.

The first half seriously drags with a convoluted and largely hard-to-follow plotline. Too much time is wasted setting up the scenario that in the 8 years since the last film Bruce Wayne has not been seen and is a recluse (limping badly on a cane) who hides out in the a section of the mansion, completely out of touch with what is going on in the world and with his own company.

Bain (our villain) is brought into the story, yet the director fails to give the audience a clue as to who and what he is, so unless you have access the comics (or to a geek who has read the comics) you will be hopelessly lost. We do learn more about Bain's character, but it leaks out in hopelessly slow dribs and drabs.

In order to appease the comic book fans (who know the Dark Knight's destiny with Bain) we are introduced to a further convolution in which Batman is taken out of action, literally, for a chunk of the film. This side plot which takes Batman out of Gotham is long, overly drawn out, confusing and serves only to divulge one piece of information that surely could have been handed out in a much neater fashion.

Instead we are subjected to a series of bad edits that are supposed to convey the passing of three months. Batman perseveres and somehow manages to sneak into a Gotham that is completely on lock-down. We are not privy to how he did it, but he then commands police detective Blake to save as many people as he possibly can by getting them out of the city.... you'd think he'd start by mentioning whatever secret method he used to get himself back in.

There is a tiny subplot involving a shelter for abandoned boys, but its mostly to add a sense of "oh no, those poor children!" into the story, otherwise they don't add a darn thing except to give weight to Detective Blake's back story and to provide yet another way for him to show off he's truly a guy who has his heart in the right place.

Looking back it seems that more time was spent discussing a certain pearl necklace (which wasn't a crucial plot point, but was interwoven throughout the story) than there was on cluing the audience in on just what was happening.

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman is good at action, and its obvious that she's worked out, pouring herself into an unforgiving skin-tight spandex suit, and still managing to be lythe and cat-like, but there is no chemistry between her character and Bale's brooding Batman.... a Batman that seems to have taken on a single note this time. I know that Bale wants out of the franchise, but its almost as if he got himself fit and in prime condition for this final installment only to phone in his performance once the cameras started rolling.

Marion Cotillard is her usual sleepy self, and fades into the background in nearly every scene she's in, but Morgan Freeman is as delightful as always. Ras' Al Gul (in a cameo played by Liam Neeson) also does nothing for the story (unless its just to remind the audience of who his character was), but at least he looks as fabulous as always!

The real breakaway star of this film is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young hot-headed street cop named Blake who is quickly promoted to Detective by Commisioner Gordon (the ever-wonderful Gary Oldman). I had a suspicion about Detective Blake that turned out to be true (hooray!) but the character could have easily been lost amidst all of the turmoil that takes place in this film. Joseph provides us with a rich, and entirely believable character who could easily carry a film of his own. His convictions will have you believing in "The Bat" while the world falls apart.

Look for Cillian Murphy reprising his role of Dr Jonathan Crane (aka Scarecrow) from the first film. While its a nice treat, there really is no point for it, and only serves to bulk up an already massively bloated storyline. While its nice to see Torchwood's Burn Gorman in a major motion picture (and he's an evil delight whenever he's on the screen) his role is sadly lacking in any depth whatsoever and is seriously wasted.

Don't get me started on all of the pointless additional characters tossed in to make the story ever more complicated.... Selina's blond pickpocket sidekick, the congressman, and a chunk of the Pittsburgh Steelers team (including their old coach) who play (wait for it) a pro football team that has absolutely nothing to do with the story but to take part in a rather bad chunk of CGI.

So is there anything good about this film?

Surprisingly yes.

The final half of the film picks up immensly from the plodding, plot-riddled beginning, and that is where the roller coaster begins..... this is where we are finally shown the Batman we have come to appreciate in Christopher Nolan's previous installments. Sadly, the plot twist villain reveal isn't much of a shocker, but was fairly obvious from the start.... but its still quite the chase through Gotham to bring this baddie down. Batman is lost (or is he?) and as the city mourns another steps forth to take up the baton (that is, if another director steps forward to take up the gauntlet as this was Bale and Nolan's last installment for the Batman franchise).

There is no need to stay through the end credits, as Nolan gives us all the answers before the credits roll..... but stick around until they do if you want to know Batman's fate and who has been handed the torch.

All in all I'd give this 3 out of 5 stars.... all thanks to the wonderful second half. I highly recommend re-watching the first two films before going, as there are a lot of references (and vague flashbacks) back to previous characters, though, out of respect for Heath Ledger, the Joker was not even referred to in this film as the director thought it would be crass to pull old footage of Ledger just for the movie's sake).

The movie runs a ponderously long 165 minutes, and I have to say, if you have any problems with your hearing, wait for the video release where you can watch this with closed captioning as the sound is pathetic. Bain, played by Tom Hardy, is hard to understand at most times because of his mask. In fact, dialogue between characters is drowned by the music and special effect sounds more often than not.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

As the world burns....

Thank goodness we've had some rain and cooler temperatures these last few days....  anything to help out as this summer has been nothing but wildfire after wildfire.  A couple weeks ago there was smoke literally rolling out of the canyon here in Orem, and the mountains in that direction have been obscured by a smokey haze for what seems like a month now. 

We've had fires to the south, fires across the lake, and on Tuesday I snapped this shot of a fire burning just to the north... Alpine may be on the other side of the mountain, but its not far at all as the crow flies.  The shot was taken just a few blocks from where we live.  Yikes!  A lovely shot, but what a terrifying situation for those whose homes were being threatened at the time.

And this is just what's going on in Utah, and not what is happening in the rest of the country... after all half of Colorado appears to have gone up in flames.

Still, this summer truly feels like an episode from As the World Burns....

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Looper

Trailer for a new movie coming out this September, starring Man of Action, Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  From the premise this is set in the future with JG-L playing an assassin, Joe, who eliminates targets that become a threat to his employer... targets transported (I'm going to say it) back from the future.  Imagine the surprise when Joe discovers that his target is himself, just older (here is where BW comes in).  Now they are both trying to come to terms with it and, from the look of the trailer, eventually try to help one another to take down the employer (played by Jeff Daniels). 

It looks quick-paced, the plot seems interesting and the makeup on JG-L looks really good, allowing you to believe that he really could be a younger version of Bruce.  From the reading I have done, Joseph spent a lot of time getting his vocalizations in tune with Bruce as well.  I guess we have somehow suspended the concept of paradox though, since if Joe actually goes through with the assassination, then the older Joe would have that memory and would know how it all went down... at least until he tries changing it. 

What a mess that could make of your mind.


 
If you want to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt (yes, he's that kid from "3rd Rock from the Sun") in other works, he is great in "Inception" (brilliant film all the way around really).  You may also remember him from "10 Things I Hate About You", which is a cult classic.  "(300) Days of Summer" wasn't bad....I loved him, but wasn't so thrilled about Zooey Deschanel in that one as she was just a bit too over-the-top odd.  "50/50" is a recent release and it was very good.... you know an actor has nailed a character when you find yourself sobbing at the movie and wishing with every fiber of your being that the guy makes it.  Warning though, Seth Rogen is his usual crass self in the film and there is a sex scene, so you may want to find an edited copy....  oh, and Anna Kendrick always seems to play the exact same monotone character... its more of the same here, but somehow this time she's almost likeable that way.  I will add one more warning for anyone who has had cancer effect their lives...this movie will be hard for you to watch.  Oh, he'll also appear in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight Rises"...there is a rumor going around that he's being primed to be the new Batman should another director choose to step in and continue the franchise.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Watch what you advertise...

photo courtesy of tombricks on Flickr

I was stuck behind a flower delivery van on my way home tonight, waiting for the flow of cars to slow down enough so we could turn.  The onslaught of oncoming cars stopped and still the van failed to pull forward.  We sat there for a few moments with nothing coming towards us before they finally deemed it safe and they made the turn.  I was following along behind as they slowly drove up the street and pulled into a driveway.  Maybe it was a delivery, maybe they were just getting home for the night....
 
I passed by and couldn't help but think to myself that with as slow as that van had been moving that this was certainly not a service that I would be calling on in the future.  Speedy delivery was definitely not their game.

It just had me thinking once again about how people should really pay attention to their actions when they have their business name plastered all over their vehicle.  If you are the thoughtless idiot who speeds past me in the morning, weaving from lane to lane in a school zone without the use of your blinkers (true story), I can guarantee you that I will not be calling on your services... ever.  If you show me you are rude (flipping me the bird because was in your way and going the posted speed limit - another true story).  If you are reckless (see above comment about speeding and lack of blinkers) or if you are a red light runner then why should I want to support keeping you on the road?

Are people really not aware that everything they do is either a reflection of themselves or the company that they are representing?  Whether you are off the clock or not, driving around in a so-called "company vehicle" (yes, I include moms in minivans with the name of their online scrapbooking service on the back window as a company car) your every move is still under observation. 

So to the guy throwing a shopping cart full of Bud in the back of his construction truck... as an FYI, I'm going to be hesitant about hiring someone who obviously likes to par-tay.  And for the moms whose logos are peeling and faded, and the dashboard of the car full of baby wipes and action figures, your claims that you 'put the special in a gal's special day' seems a bit too shabby for me to want to take a chance on.  Well, that and I think its a pretty safe bet that your hands will be full handling your own brood and not focused on my special moment.  

Maybe this is why I haven't splurged yet on vinyl sides for my own car just yet....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How about the part where I said I gave up soda?

For those who didn't see my FB status, I gave up soda again two weeks ago (9th of June 2012) for what, the fourth time now?  I tend to quit, stay off of soda for anywhere up to 1-3 years before going back to it.  This time, other than a day or two of discomfort, it hasn't been hard at all.  I'm now up to drinking over a gallon of water most days, but I am feeling much better, and it makes me happy to think of all the money I am not dumping into the soda industry's deep pockets.

I don't think I made myself entirely clear to the hubs though (who is still drinking soda, but it doesn't bother me, since this was a personal choice) because of what happened about a week into the new no-soda routine.

I had asked the hubs to stop by the store on his way home to pick up something I needed to go with dinner that night.  He does, and then brought it home to where I was waiting.

"Here you go", he says, handing over said dinner ingredient.

There was  a pause and then he continued with, "I bought a surprise for you where I was there".

Me, still chopping and simmering and sauteing paused, looked up and said, "Oh? What for?"

"Because you've been doing so good with this soda thing", he replied, and then pulled out two cans of my favorite flavors of soda and set them on the counter.

It is safe to say I was dumbfounded.

I looked at these two brightly designed cans, cans that were fresh from the soda machine at the grocery.  So cold that beads of cool condensation had formed and were running enticingly down the sides of the cans.

"Baby", I said, trying to remain calm, sweet and nice, when on the inside a part of me was screaming grab the can! grab the can!  "Why did you get me these when you know I gave up soda?"

He looked at me with sudden alarm crossing his face.  "Gave up?  I thought you were just cutting back and I was so proud of all the water I've seen you drinking...."

I felt bad for him, doing something he thought would be nice (after all, he did pick my two bestest and favoritest flavors) but I admit I wanted him to take those cans and put them out of my sight.

Thankfully he drank one of them that night, but the other one is still sitting in the fridge just waiting for me to slip up.  Not that I am all that worried about it.... if I have a soda it is not the end of the world.  I am just happy that if nothing else that I have gotten myself to the point where not having a soda is fine by me.  After all, Richard is still chugging away, and its not a temptation to me anymore, but I am not about to turn down a root beer float should one come in through my front door and I find myself in the mood to partake of such a delicious and refreshing treat.

Here's the strange part though... I've noticed now that I have sent soda packing for parts unknown, that my sugar cravings have gone way down.  We're talking a freakishly huge reduction.  I was that girl who'd chug soda (mostly diet, but a lot of full sugar Shasta brands were making their way home as well) all day long.  Single-handedly going through a 12-pack in a weekend was not unheard of.  But along with that I constantly had the munchies and the munch in mind was candy, ice cream, or chips.

Now that I am a water girl again (I stopped with the Crystal Light after day 3) I have noticed when I went to the store the other day I bought fresh pears and couldn't wait to get them home, wash one and take a bite.  The gauntlet of candy bars that holds sway in pretty much every grocery in America wasn't even a temptation to me.  Let me tell you that pear (and the banana I had the next day) were literally like the fruit of the Gods... a sweet, sweet ambrosia to my usually chemical-stimulated taste buds.

Now that alone was worth giving up the soda for.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blue Marble 2

NASA has done it again.... this time the gorgeous image before you takes in the Arctic Circle (the geographic location, not the fast food restaurant) as its main focus.  You can find it here if you want to download it for yourselves.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just Keep Walking...Everything is Groovy

Richard and I stumbled across Pete the Cat the other day when we visited our local B&N.... we stood in the kids department as I read him the Pete the Cat books, singing the tunes out loud and enjoying them immensely.  I don't have the excuse of having kids, but I plan to add these to my growing library.

I love how Pete just keeps moving along, regardless of what comes his way... its all just "groovy".

Here's the author and illustrator giving a live performance of Pete the Cat "I Love My White Shoes"

 

I also love Pete and his "Four Groovy Buttons"... which is actually my favorite of the series so far



So relax, tell yourself its okay, live is "groovy" and just keep walking along...

...no matter what it is that you step in

Monday, June 11, 2012

From the iPod...

a-ha

Yes, that bubblegum pop group from the early 1980's who had a #1 hit with "Take on Me", remembered for its chorus being sung in an improbably high falsetto.

A lot of people think that a-ha didn't escape the 80's, but were rather relegated to the world of One Hit Wonders, however, they would be wrong.  The band was still strong when in 2009 they released what they announced would be their final album (their 9th, not counting a couple of greatest hits disks put out by their label).  Their final performance was the taped concert "Ending on a High Note" in 2011, which has since been released on CD and DVD.

Still fun to listen to even after all these years, each album has a slightly different flavor, but are still true to their overall sound.

Here are just a few of the songs I have come to love of theirs over the years.


"Foot of the Mountain" from the final album, "Foot of the Mountain" c. 2009


"Dark is the Night for All" from the album "Memorial Beach" c 1993.  "Memorial Beach" is my favorite of the albums


"Velvet" from the album "Minor Earth, Major Sky" c 2000


"I Wish I Cared" from the album "Minor Earth, Major Sky" c 2000.  You may have heard this one in a season two episode of "Smallville"


"Angel in the Snow" from the album "Memorial Beach" c. 1993


"Lifelines" from the album "Lifelines" c 2003


"Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)" from the greatest hits album "25".  This was the last studio recording for the band.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

From the Bookshelf....


It was a pleasure to burn.


It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.  With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.

What an opening to a wonderful book...one that I try to read at least once a year.

In it we meet Montag, who is a Fireman in the distant future... a future in which books are outlawed and those found hiding and reading them are dealt with harshly.  These Firemen, however, do not put out fires; they are summoned to the scene to find books and then incinerate them with flamethrowers before scattering the remaining ashes.

One day on his way home Montag is approached by his neighbor, Clarisse, an impressionable and silly girl who is on probation to become a teacher, but is sure she isn't going to be accepted as she 'didn't say the right things in her interview'.  She begins to pepper him with questions about his work and just what it is that he does.

"Is it true that a long time ago, firemen used to put out fires and not burn books?" she asks.

Montag laughs and wonders why should firemen ever put out fires.  She asks if he has read any of the books before he burns them, but he can only wonder at why she would ever even consider reading a book.  After all, history has shown that books cause people to be unhappy and antisocial.  It is understood that the only way the people can be happy is to be exactly the same as everyone else.  In theory, anyone who has read Socrates must think themselves better than anyone who hasn't, and fiction is just a way for people to be unhappy with their lives and want for it to be more.  Biographies are even worse as they are nothing but people saying "look at me, look at me, look at me" and philosophers can do nothing but argue that they themselves are right while everyone else are idiots.

Instead of reading, society is now a group of video watchers, with people striving to add more and more video walls to their homes so they can watch without interruption. The population is turning into mindless drones who not only can't think for themselves, but are addicted to painkillers and stimulants.  Suicide attempts are a daily part of life; one that is taken rather lightly as med techs just stop by, swap out your overdosed blood and you awaken the next morning completely refreshed and with no memory of what you had done.

But Clarisse gets him thinking.  At a raid he is horrified to find an old woman who would rather be burnt with her books than to stand aside and let them be taken from her.  What is it in these written pages that could inspire such devotion?  Montag's curiosity gets the better of him and he smuggles home a book he saves from the flames and hides it away.  Curious, he begins to read it late in the night when his wife is asleep. 

Montag still goes to work in order to keep up appearances...and to smuggle home more books.  He begins devouring them at an increasing rate and begins to form opinions for himself, rather than what society says he should think.  Montag is surprised one day to find that the next stop for the Firemen is his own house.  His wife has informed on him.  Montag is forced to pull the books from the walls, heating vents, etc before he is handed the flame thrower.  To everyone's surprise, Montag not only ignites the stacks of books, but the very house itself, burning away his old life.

A book one could easily say as being against censorship (and in a sense it is), I believe this is more against the complacency of humanity to allow such things to happen in the first place, throwing all of our rights away and allowing a hard won democracy to become a dictatorship without complaint or thought as to how those rights came to us in the first place.


Ray Bradbury created an intriguing world, one that has lasted since its original publication in 1953.  The beauty of his writing still pulls you in to this day.  It is no wonder that the world mourned with his death this week at the age of 91.  He attributed his long life to a carnival performer touching him with an electrified sword when he was 12 and announcing that young Mr Bradbury would live forever.  Inspired, Ray began a lifelong habit of writing something every little day.  From those young writings came great stories, including "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "The Martian Chronicles".

An engaging author with rich prose, Mr Bradbury is someone worth remembering when you are searching for that new book to read.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The one in which I compare myself to a cart horse...


Confused?

Maybe you should run over to Four Perspectives and read all about it....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hello, IAU? I've got some questions for you....






A little off topic today, but I have a question for the IAU about their decision to demote Pluto from a full-fledged card-carrying member of the planetary club to merely a wanna be.... a hanger on from the edge of the solar system.

I know this discussion is a bit like beating a dead horse, after all, no matter what things the New Horizons probe finds out when it arrives in 2015 is going to change the fact that Pluto is no longer a planet... but I still want to ask anyway.

The definition of what now constitutes a planet is something that circles the sun, has enough gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape and also manages to clear its orbit of other bodies.  Pluto is not a planet because it hasn't cleared Neptune from its path?  What about Neptune?  Neptune has failed to clear Pluto from its path, so do we demote it?  How could we, after all, its a gas giant and certainly can't be demoted... but Pluto is an oddball... the black sheep of the family so to speak.

But that's not the reason I have against the demotion.  No, my question has to do with Lagrange points.

Lagrange points are like eddies in the orbits of planets (so far discovered in our own orbit, as well as that of Mars, Neptune and Jupiter).  These points in space are a balance where bits of celestial bodies (called Trojans) can gather, either leading the planet or following at fixed points that can be determined mathematically.  Earth has one Trojan than we know of so far, but Jupiter has a load of these both leading and following in its wake.

So here is my question.

If the definition of a planet is something that has cleared its orbit.... what about these bodies lounging in our Lagrangian points?  If you take the IAU at face value, then Jupiter isn't a planet because it still has thousands of Trojans still in its orbital path.  Neptune isn't a planet because not only has it failed to clear Pluto from its path, but it also has Trojans in its orbit.  Heck, Earth isn't even a planet now because we have a body called Cruithne that doesn't appear to be a true Trojan, but is still using one of our L.P.s as the fulcrum of its own short orbital path.  So if you discredit Trojans from the things that need to be cleared, why excuse the Earth, because Cruithne isn't a true Trojan after all.  Which is a moot argument for Earth anyway seeing as how our own moon is slowly drifting away from us at a rate of about 4 cm a year.  It'll take awhile, but eventually our own moon is going to wander off... so, wait... does it mean that we are not only so wimpy that our gravitational pull can't hold onto our one and only satellite, but that we aren't clearing it from our path as well?   

So why not demote more of our planetary system as planets, since many of them don't follow the rules either?

Is it the atmosphere thing?  Well that can't be, because Pluto does have an atmosphere... at certain points of its orbit when the temperature warms up enough during its closest approach to the sun the frozen atmosphere thaws and returns to its gaseous state.  As it moves away from the sun the atmosphere (such as it is) freezes and falls back onto the planet.  Which means it could be said that Pluto, in a warped sense of the word, has seasons.

So after the demotion, people tried saying that Pluto was now part of the Kuiper Belt.... but Pluto only shares part of its elliptical orbit with the Kuiper Belt.... the K.P. has a circular orbit, not elliptical.  And Neptune's orbit is actually within the K.P.  At least one of its own moons is thought to be a stolen K.P. object.  So did Neptune kick it out of the K.P. and send it on its current path?  But then, why would Pluto have its own satellites?  Not only does Pluto have its large moon Charon, but it also has the smaller satellites Nix, Hydra and the blah sounding S/2011 P1.  So wait, Pluto and a bunch of smaller units were tossed out together and yet managed to form their own little planetary unit?

Not that I expect anyone to answer this little conundrum, but it really would be nice to have some authority on hand that could actually explain the rationalization behind Pluto's demotion despite some pretty compelling evidence. 

I do look forward to July of 2015 when New Horizons will be able to give us further insights to this fascinating little puzzle piece.  Even if Pluto is no longer considered a "real planet" at least it is still a planet in the hearts of its fans.  Regardless of its status now or in the future, Pluto will keep spinning on, not caring in the least what label we lay on it.


Monday, May 28, 2012

What a difference a word makes...

Its funny, but I never thought I needed a qualifier when I said I was a photographer. For me, photography encompasses a wide range of interpretation. There are the landscape photographers, like myself. There are portrait photographers, sports photographers, etc etc... I never thought that someone thinking I was a photographer meant that I did all forms of photography. After all, there are a range of teachers... special education, physical education, arts, music, drama, math, english.... not to mention those lucky individuals in elementary education that somehow manage to incorporate a wide range of these into their curriculum. But you wouldn't necessarily expect that your P.E. teacher (the one who lectures you on the finer points of dodgeball) would also pick up the reins of your music class and teach you the best way to warm up for your solo...

 But I digress.... again... yes, I know, its a terminal condition with me.

My online "portfolio" shows landscape after landscape... broad vistas, close up shots of wildflowers and interspersed with a healthy sprinkling of farm animals.

Like these handsome beauties

As a gal who is still learning (and has masses more yet to learn!) I can often be found hauling out my camera and trying my hand at new things... a dance competition (hopelessly blurred... see the post on that mishap here) I've hauled my camera out on road trips, trying to capture some of the local "wildlife", but I always seem to click the shutter a split second too late.... catching little moments just after they happen. Oh well, I figured, I'm a nature and wildlife girl so what does it matter?

Turns out it matters a lot.

I was at my friend's house where one of her daughters was excitedly showing off the photos taken from her latest dance... photos of herself and her date that she had paid good money for.   Photos that were, in my untrained opinion, a total rip off. I then did something not entirely uncommon to me: I opened my mouth and inserted my foot so deep I was licking my kneecaps (and, if truth be told, noting that I needed a shave).

"Honestly Kitten" I heard myself say.  "I could do much better than these and I wouldn't even charge you. Let me know when your next dance is and I'll come out and take your pictures."

Wait... did I just offer to do a real photo session of sorts?

Even if it is for a girl I totally adore, what in the world was I thinking? I don't do portraits. I have no idea about proper lighting and composition. That's the great thing about flowers and fields, mountains and trees... you don't have to direct them. With nature you just keep snapping away until something comes out decent. Heck, horses are so naturally graceful that its pretty hard to not get a good shot of them and here I am offering to photograph teenagers? At least it was a darling girl I knew and loved and I told myself how hard can it be, after all, this kid is a bit of a ham in front of the camera anyway.

A few weeks went by and then here it came... the last dance of the school year. Would I please take pictures of not only my adopted teen, but of her friends and their dates as well? Now I had done it. I had to look like I knew what I was doing?

 Oh the things I am willing to do for this kid!


The big day came... I took time to change into a nice shirt and clean jeans (might as well look a bit professional). I was kicking myself for not having gotten around to sewing my new camera strap, but, since there was nothing I could do about it, I headed over with a cloud of anxiety forming around me.

7 couples.

Thankfully they all arrived in dribs and drabs and not all at once. I'd snagged Kitten's younger sister early for a couple preliminary shots in the yard and established 3 good backdrops so I took the first couple out around the yard, keeping up a patter of conversation all the while and trying to act like I knew what I was doing. 

Couples 1 and 2 were unknown to me, and, thankfully, since I was photographing each group separately, I was able to use a lot of the same jokes over.  I loosened a bit when I realized that the kids were more scared of the camera than I was and began to enjoy myself.  I was easier with my jokes and directions and found the courage to start getting the kids to smile more and to look like they were enjoying themselves instead of (at least in the guys' cases) looking like lambs being led to the slaughter.  

Couple 3 was my Kitten and her date, so that was fun, except I had to rein my girl in a time or two as she has a habit of breaking into goofy looks and gestures when she's nervous.  The next two couples were also easy, since I knew the girls (they both not only attended, but also helped out at my wedding). The last two couples were running pretty late and the light was failing fast, but we managed to get some shots before the bunch of them wandered off to a bbq before the dance.  I headed back into my friend's house tired, but very happy it was over. I would say I felt relieved, but that wouldn't happen until I had a chance to review my shots.

The next morning I downloaded my memory card and started going through the pictures. Sure enough, there were lousy shots... especially with the last two couples where we were fighting the light, but I was happy to see that each couple also had shots that looked pretty good. Good enough that I was able to edit an average of 6 pictures per couple.  Some shots were only good in black and white, and for a bunch of free photos done as a favor, they weren't bad, but I still found myself stressing and getting more and more nervous that these didn't look more pro.

When I dropped by my friend's house later that week to give them the photos they were surprised to find I had edited the images.  I thought I had mentioned that to them beforehand, but now it makes sense as to why they were confused that it took me 3 days to get through the files.  But as I explained that it takes time to go through 7 batches of photos and whiten teeth, clean up blemishes, erase random hairs floating in the breeze and, in one case, fix a great shot barely missed by doing a head swap with the image before it, I was greeted with stunned surprise.  My friend reached out and whacked me lightly, "Silly girl," she said.  "No one expected you to do any of that. You do too much."

But that's just who I am... if I am going to offer someone my photographic skills (such as they may be) you'd better be darn sure I am going to put them in their best light, so to speak.  Besides, its what you do when you care about the gal you are doing all of this for.  And anyway, I told them it was also done so I could get more experience in for when I do Kitten's senior pictures this coming fall and spring (another offer, but this one I am now looking forward to as Kitten is incredibly fun to work with).  Seeing their reactions (Kitten, her mom and my "Cowgirl" from the photoshoot all went through the files) was a nice reward as they loved the pictures and were beyond happy with how they turned out.  Guess that will teach me to waste time on worrying....

Nah, worry is a default mode with me.

So do I now consider myself a portrait photographer?  Not in the least.  In fact, this has convinced me that this is not a direction I want to go in.  Figuring out compositions, making adjustments to where you are standing, the look on your face (you'd think teens on a date would want to smile more), and all of the continual banter that goes on during the session is absolutely exhausting.  The bundle of nerves that goes on until you can actually confirm you've taken decent shots and not wasted an afternoon would drive me nuts if I was to do it on a regular basis. 

But then, I did get some really cute shots (by the way, it was a themed "matching hats" dance)...

Kitten and friends in a cute candid moment

Kitten and her date

One of the couples I met that night..love the fedoras
 Love this shot....for not being a "Country Girl" she pulls it off well.
Another couple I met that night.... and I love the candid shots from their photoshoot

These two were cute, but then they were also pretty relaxed around each other which helped a lot

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Great Book....

...and hopefully a decent rendition on the big screen. I love the book "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I was first introduced to this book in a lit class over a decade ago and loved it. Loved it so much that it became the book I based my final paper on. I kept my copy and have probably read it about once a year since. I am not sure what it is that draws me to this particular cast of characters and their situation, given how messed up everyone is and how tragic things end, but I find myself captivated every time I pick i up. And then today I find out that Baz Luhrmann is releasing his version of the tale later this year.
Baz Luhrmann. Baz Freaking Awesome Luhrmann. Oh yeah, as soon as I saw that article I looked outwardly calm, but inside I was doing the dance of joy and squealing like a fangirl. I then did a quick search and found the trailer. Sweet! Well from little we get to see it looks amazing... I am so excited to see this one.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Silhouette

At first it was far too bright to see; peeking at the sun from behind a hand held up to block the light had my eyes tearing up and aching.  I was tempted to look again a few minutes later and had to restrain myself as I had no protective gear to keep myself from burning sensitive retinas.  I found myself frustrated that I was going to miss an event that was taking place right before me.  I snuck another peek and was immediately hit with a deeper ache in the left eye I was using, trying to spare the right by squinting it shut.  Afterimages of blue filled my sight....

I pulled out my camera and aimed it in the sun's direction, hoping for the best, but all I got was a big white blur.

Well darn, I thought, getting ready to bag the whole idea.  I went back in the house and sat at the kitchen table, noting glumly that the evening was quickly growing darker and the air was filling with the sounds of birds roosting for the evening, chirping out their final calls to one another at what they assumed was the closing of their day. The blue tint to my sight slowly faded and provided some solace, but it was with a heavy heart that I sat, knowing I was missing out on a dazzling Heavenly show, though I knew no one was to blame but myself, as I had failed to plan accordingly.  

Then Jason said the neighbors were out back with a homemade reflector that they were willing to let us look through.  We put on our shoes and I grabbed my camera (just in case) and headed for the park behind the house, where the one of the neighbors was looking through the reflector while another was beginning to snap photos, complaining about a covering of clouds that had moved in at the last moment.

What the heck, I thought.  This time I zoomed my lens, glancing at the viewfinder every now and again to be sure I was pointed in the right direction, and started snapping shot after shot.  To my surprise, the eclipse was now being captured, however faintly, as the moon slid into place and the clouds providing an imperfect, but welcome filter.

I admit that I went overboard, snapping away madly as the moon slowly crossed the face of the sun.  It seemed to pass in a matter of moments, and I found my images beginning to blur as the sun came flaring out on the far side once again.  As the evening brightened around us the birds began singing again and a few even took to flight.  I turned off my camera and made my way back inside again, where I pulled out my laptop and, fingers crossed, I downloaded my memory card, hoping that something had turned out.

Images, blurred at first, then growing clearer and clearer filled my computer, and I found myself finally looking at images that, while still blocked by clouds, showed a lovely silhouette of the moon as it performed its heavenly dance with our parent star.... 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sleeping on the job....






I open my fortune cookie to find the following:

"No fortune right now...try again later.  Hey, even cookie's need their sleep."

.....huh?  Was someone at the cookie factory out of ideas?  Was his supervisor hitting the bottle, which allowed something so lame to escape?

I guess I can take solace that my lunch companion's cookie was even worse: 

"The problem with humanity is not enough highways and too many people."

Just what we need... fortune cookie's spouting bad philosophy.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I can't believe I paid for this...

It seemed like a good deal at the time... but then, if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is.  Still, it seemed innocent enough...

Saturday morning, late spring. 

The beginning of yard sale season.

Probably only imagined, but I could swear the scent of desperation was in the air as we bargain junkies, starved after a long winter of going cold turkey, climbed into our cars and began the slow crawl through neighborhoods.  Peering into yards as if we had the right to deny our neighbors any scrap of privacy.  We had become stalkers with pockets full of change and small bills, ready to pounce at a moments notice, scrabbling amongst ourselves for another person's castaway items.

At first glance this sale seemed pretty sparse, but my companion and I pulled over anyway and walked over to examine its contents more closely.  Like a modern-day Indiana Jones I was determined to separate the gold from the dross... to haul home that hidden treasure that somehow was overlooked amidst the detritus of a life.

The box sat to one side, quietly unassuming and no one was even glancing its way.  Without much hope I wandered over and was surprised to see a small box filled with lovely seashells and a bunch of sand dollars in perfect condition.  A glance at the side of the box found me looking at a sticker that said $1.  I snatched up the box and made my way to where the beleaguered mother was trying to keep an eye on her wayward daughter racing about the yard while also directing another family member who was still bringing out a few random items.  She confirmed that the shells were indeed just a dollar, and mentioned that she and her family had collected them on a trip to Mexico the year before.

I paid for my shells and a few other items, and put it in the trunk of the car, before we made our way to yet another stop.  Later that day the box finally made its way into the house, where I began counting out the beautiful sand dollars and was surprised to find nearly 30 tucked within!  I was already making plans to ship these to my sister, so she could try recreating a cute garland that I had found online and forwarded to her.

The shells sat off to one side of the living room for a few weeks before I finally hauled them off to work, determined to find a way to safely pack the bits and pieces for shipping, and to sort through the other shells that lay within.

Today on my lunch break I began sorting.

More and more lovely shells went through my hands, were appreciated, and then carefully repacked into plastic bags to await a future of being displayed in a large glass jar.  The flatter shell of the clam, glowing in tones of pearl and pink, gentle spirals in creams and browns, a conch or two and, surprisingly, a lot of glassy bits of obsidian.  All of these were a feast to the eyes...until one little shell caught my eye.  Turning it over I discovered the remains of a desiccated little clam.

Poor thing, I thought, and moved the shell to one side to be disposed of.   A few shells further and I picked up a tiny conch; no greater than a nickel.  Then I saw a flash of red inside the shell, something in direct contrast against the sage green... it was a dead crab that had huddled deep within its adopted shell home, only to die nowhere near the sea it had been plucked from. 

Further inspection found a sea urchin that appeared to have gone in the box while still alive as well...

I had purchased a box of mass murder.

I still have nearly a quarter of the box to go and from what little I see, it doesn't appear as if any of the remaining shells hold any lurking horrors, but I won't know for certain until tomorrow.  Still, I feel terrible for the poor sea life that suffered and died just so they could one day wind up in my hands.  I can only hope that these little creatures weren't collected intentionally; that their inclusion in the box was due to someone thinking these items were safe to collect as their occupants were no longer in residence.

But still I wonder....

...does this make me somehow partially responsible?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"I have a cold... don't kiss me", I said.

"I'm not worried about it", he said, leaning over for a kiss.

"I'm serious...don't come crying to me if you get sick", I retorted.

"Don't worry", he replied, then pressed his lips tightly to mine.

      *     *     *

A week goes by... and then I get the text message:

"Sweetie, I think I caught your cold. Feel achy and going between hot and cold.... it sucks to be me".

What do I say to that? Seriously.... I did warn the guy, so why do I feel guilty?

Oh yeah, because I love him.

     *     *     *

Being sick stinks..... especially when you're stuck sharing it with the one you love.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers

Mothers are more than just the women we are born to.

Mothers are also women that come into our lives; women who love and support us.  They inspire us to pursue our dreams and provide an outstretched hand to help us when we fall.

My Mother, Kathy

I have had the privilege of having three absolutely wonderful women in my life.  Women who have loved me.  Women who have stood by me and been there for the ups and the downs.  Women who have supported me through marriage, through divorce, through trials and tribulations.  Women who have shared my sorrows as well as my joys.

 Women who have loved me deeply, and who have been deeply loved in return.

My Mother, Arlene

So I wish to take a moment to say how much I appreciate them.  How grateful I am for the Lord bringing such wondrous and kind angels into my life.


Women who have molded me, who have shown me what it means to be compassionate.  Mothers who have given me a model after which to pattern my own life.

My Mother, Patsy

 Words cannot say enough just how much these women mean to me, but, until greater words are created, I love you will simply have to do.















Sunday, May 6, 2012

You Live and You Learn

Saturday afternoon.  Provo High School Gymnasium.  Crowds filled the bleachers and the floor of the court was filled with teams warming up.

Camera? 
.... check

Tripod?
.... check

Everything was all set up and ready to go for the dance competition.  I snapped random shots of different performances, checking them on my tiny viewscreen and everything looked to be perfect.  Our group's number was called and the music cued up.  I began snapping away, trying to capture spins and twirls and, most of all, the sweet little dancer I was rooting for most.  The number came to a close and the troupe walked to the wings while another group took to the floor.

We stayed for a few performances more and then headed for home, my camera and tripod safely packed away and all waiting to see what images I had captured.

Imagine my horror this morning when I downloaded the images from my camera only to find many of the shots were hopelessly blurry.  With a sinking heart I reached for my camera, already knowing what I would find.

I had left the setting on Automatic, instead of changing it to Sports.  The camera wasn't operating at a high enough speed to capture constant motion, so arms and legs became meaningless streaks and blurs, instead of the graceful lines and movements that had taken place before me.

Since I had never used my camera with the tripod before, I spent too much time making sure it was set up properly and securely, and then trying to set up my remote control (never before used, and not figured out in time for the competition) that I completely overlooked my camera setting.  I was certain I had already changed it and foolishly did not double check before the competition began.

Thankfully the group will probably perform the same number again at next weekend's dedication to the new Springville Town Hall building, so that is where you will find me, valiantly try try trying again.

The most embarrassing part will be explaining this to my friend and her daughter.  Just a few weeks before I had offered to take photos of another daughter and her friends the next time they went to a formal dance, and have also been asked this fall to take this other daughter's senior photos and then I massively screw this up.  Not only is it a blow to the ego, but I feel so stupid about making such an obviously rookie mistake. 

I guess I should seriously spend more time learning the ins and outs of photography... and always double and triple check my settings as I go. 
 
Luckily I was able to salvage some of the shots...




We're only human, right?  Has anyone else made this same, stupid mistake when shooting an event?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shawna's Summer Movie Review - The Avengers

Okay, first of all, if you liked any of the following movies: Iron Man 1 or 2, Thor or Captain America.... go see this film. If you are a Joss Whedon fan.... go see this film. If you like action and superheroes.... well, you get the drift.

This movie is amazing. For a gal who has never read any of the comics it was still surprisingly easy to follow along and understand what was happening. And while the plot is a bit sparse (Loki, still ticked off at Thor and how he's no longer King of Asgard decides to take over Earth to rule here) the humor and verbal sparring found in Joss Whedon's works certainly makes up for it, as well as a lot of action to keep you entertained for the movie's long length (2 hours and 22 minutes). A funny moment between Thor and Hulk had me in stitches, but don't worry, you'll know it when you see it.

We jump right into the heart of things at the start of the film with the arrival of Loki and the introduction of each Avenger in turn. Look for some nice cameos by our heroes' ancillary characters, Pepper Potts from Iron Man, Stellan Skarsgard's Selvig from Thor plays an important part, and Agent Phil Coulson is finally given a large role (hooray!) rather than the mostly cameos we've seen up until now.

If nothing else gals, the movie is full of eye candy... and every one of them is pretty much packing more abs and pecs than seems physically possible. And guys, there is plenty of Scarlet Johansson in tight leather to keep your eyes on the screen. I honestly did not expect to like her as Black Widow, since I didn't care for her in Iron Man 2, but she is a surprisingly likable character here.  Mark Ruffalo's take on mild-mannered Bruce Banner is understated, but really good (listen for an uncredited cameo of Lou Ferrigno as the voice of the hulk).  The only superhero that is fairly new to us is Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, who had a brief cameo in Thor, working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and wielding his amazing trademark bow and arrows... fleshed out now as a real character, you can see how he does fit in with our more "super" heroes.

I don't want to give things away, but the movie is about how these individual characters go from outright animosity towards one another to pull together as a cohesive and working team. Stay through the end credits... at the start there is an segment that introduces us to the next Avenger bad guy (who I didn't recognize but Richard says is Thanos, who in the comic book world is a seriously nasty piece of work). I was personally hoping that we'd get Red Skull (from Captain America) as I would love to see more Hugo Weaving, and he obviously wasn't killed at the end of that film (the tesseract just translated him somewhere else) but I guess he just isn't tough enough for the writers to consider.

Stick around through the rest of the credits though,  as there is a moment where we get to see the unknown side of the superhero world... what do weary superheroes do after saving the day? Well, now you'll know.

The best part of the film is, of course, our bad guy, Loki, played wonderfully by Tom Hiddleston. He steals every scene of the film that he is in, and while I admit I have a bit of a crush on the guy (sorry Richard, guess I have a thing for demigod supervillans!) he really does the character justice... not many guys can pull off a character with horns that big attached to their costume! You believe that he really could take on all of our heroes all on his own. Too many films lose it with a wimpy bad guy, so its nice to see one that can stand on his own two feet.

Can we say hello handsome? 

The only recommendation I have is see it in standard 2D... we went to a late showing last night in 3D and we both left with a headache. There is just too much going on in the end action sequence and the 3D gets a bit muddled. I promised Richard we will go see it again and this time in just the standard format.