Friday, December 30, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

I haven't been blogging much lately.  Don't know why.  Could be because I'm busy.  Could be because I'm in a funk. (holidays do that to me) Could be because I'm not taking too many photos and I don't like to post without photos.  Who knows.

Anyway, this post is an effort to catch-up a little.

My older daughter's birthday is Dec. 24.  So on Sat, Caleb and I went over there to give her her presents.  Out of the clear blue, someone suggested we go bowling.  So we did.

I hadn't been bowling in more years than I could remember, and believe me, it was totally obvious from my scores.  But it was great fun.

Caleb has a great hook and managed to get quite a few strikes...

My birthday girl and her family.  

Awesome son-in-law and grandkids!

Moving on.  Before Caleb came home I asked him if he'd put down a new floor in my bedroom.  This is the result.  It was painted plywood before.  The walls will have to wait to be painted until I return from Hawaii in the spring.

Moving on again. My husband and I usually drink about 1 cup of coffee each a day.  Even with a small 4-cup coffee brewer, I wound up throwing some of it away.  I like decaf sometimes, he doesn't.  He likes flavored sometimes, I don't.  I like bold brew all the time, he doesn't.

It was becoming quite a conundrum.  Enter the KEURIG coffee maker.  Exit all the problems. This gadget is awesome!  Makes one cup at a time--no waste.  Everyone can have their own coffee brew & flavor.  Or tea.  Or hot chocolate.  Or hot cider.  There is Half & Half (1/2 caf, 1/2 decaf) which is the way I often mixed my grounds.  There are all different kinds of tea.  There is Brew Over Ice for Iced coffee.  It's such a kick.  I even wound up giving two for Christmas presents.

Moving right along. Today we went to lunch at a local restaurant with some folks from church.  The pastor we had for 16 years, and who moved away to take another pastorate about 10 years ago, was in town.  They figured the best way for a group of people to visit with him and his wife was to meet at a restaurant.  It was a great time, and the food was yummy.

Dave and Janet and my good friend, Jean (middle).

So, you'd think that I never used a camera...  I never gave a thought to checking the ISO before I handed the camera to the waitress to take this photo.  Sure enough, it was on 1600 for goodness sake.  Kind of overkill for a flash picture.  The reason I even mention it is because the high ISO makes flash pictures grainy, and the image has been cropped, which tends to make grainy pics even granier.  Doesn't make any difference here on the blog, but for printing purposes it's less than ideal.  Will I ever learn????

And now for the finale.  Caleb was home for almost two weeks, after being gone for 2 1/2 years.  In that time I saw him for a week when I went to Alaska for a visit, and for 15 minutes when I flew with the dog and met him at the Fairbanks airport. 

On Thursday evening we drove him back to Syracuse to meet up with his good friend, James.  They left on Friday morning for their drive back to Florida so they could arrive in time for New Year's Eve services at their church.  Wonder how long it will be till next time?

13 days till I leave for Hawaii.  Woot, woot!

Friday, December 23, 2011


A couple of license plates.

The Scrabble game.  Need I say it?  I lost!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

He's Home!

So, early this morning we grabbed our coffee (and that's another story in itself), jumped into the car and headed off to Syracuse to collect our baby boy for the holidays.  He arrived at his friend's house in the wee hours of the morning after driving all night from Florida.  We met him at his friend's church.

Soooo good to see him.  It's been 2 1/2 years since he left for Alaska.  I spent one week with him the summer after he left, and then about 15 minutes with him last winter when I delivered the dog to him at the airport.  See post for April 30, 2011.

Since then, he's temporarily relocated to Pensacola, FL to attend the Bible institute there, so getting back to NY is a lot easier than it was when he was in Alaska. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First Game

Well, another grandchild has joined the ranks in the basketball world.  Jacob played his first-ever game this morning.  The team was made up of a mixture of 3rd & 4th graders.  Several of the 4th graders played last year, but it was the first game for Jacob and most of the other 3rd graders.  It was very impressive. 

I think there are going to be some really good ball players coming out of this group of boys.

Jacob was so cute yesterday when I was asking him about the up-coming game. 

Jacob:  I love basketball.  If there's a flat surface and a basketball hoop, then I'm there playing basketball.
Me:  I didn't know that, I didn't know you liked the game so much.
Jacob:  I play with Mace (his older brother who has been highlighted in this blog in past posts) as much as I can.
Me:  That's great that you like the game so much.
Jacob:  Yup--Mace taught me everything I know.  (Jacob is 8--"taught me everything I know" cracks me up). 

It will be a lot of fun watching him grow into the game as he gets older. 

Once again--camera was on 3200 iso and I still got movement and soft images.  I didn't want to use flash.  I was afraid it might be distracting to the boys.  But what I got is better than nothing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shutterfly Book

A couple of weeks ago a blogger friend (she) passed along the code for a free 7x9 soft-cover book from Shutterfly.  All I had to do was contact five other friends on behalf of Shutterfly, and the book was mine.  Whoopie!

I already had the images sorted from my trip to Denali Park, Alaska this past Fall, so I quickly edited them and got them into the template.  I only had a few days to design the book, so I wasn't able to label the images or be more creative with my text, but I'm happy I made the book.

My book arrived today.  I definitely recommend shutterfly. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Another BB Game

Another basketball game.  Ok, ok, I promise not to post any more.  I just wanted to post this one to show that even my  big-boy camera doesn't do the game justice in the gym.  Or maybe it's me.  Not sure.

Anyway, I cranked the iso up to 3200 and still needed the flash.  Argh!  I can't quite figure out what's going on.  I remember taking BB pics a couple of years ago and they were great.  hmmm  Maybe the gym was brighter.

So this was a good game.  Long story short:  the team was waaaayyyy behind during the first quarter, but they caught up nicely, and then managed to win.  Woot, woot!

Grandson made about 7 baskets during the game.  Not that I'm bragging or anything. 
He spends a lot of time in the air.

Monday, December 05, 2011

I Succumbed!

Last year and the year before, I had a severe case of "grinch"-itis.  No Christmas tree, no decorations, no joy.  Oh, I still appreciated the "reason for the season"--the birth of Jesus, but my heart wasn't into all the "stuff" that goes along with the worldly part of the holiday. 

For about 10 years I've been threatening to get an artificial tree.  While the kids were still home, it was too much of a hurdle to go against their protestations.  But alas, they grew up and left.  And still I didn't get the tree.

Not far from here there's a funky little gift shop called "The Garden Bug".  If I had my druthers, my entire house would be decorated with the things that are sold there.  I was visiting the shop the other day when I discovered the exact artificial tree I had been looking for and didn't even know it.

So I succumbed.  I bought one.  It's perfect.  It's small, but not too small, full but not too full, and it even came with the lights.  It fits in front of the bay window, the place where I've always wanted to put the tree but a real one was usually too big. Bingo! 

I may put some other decorations on it, but then again, I may not.  I have a few red bows that I used to use in days gone by and they might be just the right touch.  Gotta give this some thought.

I do, however, have to spend a few minutes rearranging the lights near the bottom of the tree, but other than that, it's making my heart sing. (that may be a little melodramatic, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it).

Another image from my foray to the High School football field the other day.  

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Indoor Soccer?????

My friend's son plays soccer.  Soccer season is over.  At least I thought it was over.  She told me the boy plays indoor soccer every Sunday night.  "What!?!?", I said.  hmmmm, I didn't know there was such a thing.

So, of course, I just had to attend one of his games, camera in hand.

They play the game in a completely enclosed court (just like racket-ball), playing the ball off  the walls.  So it's a much faster and intense game than when played outdoors. 

And of course, the lighting is less than stellar, you have to shoot through glass (reinforced with black wire in the shape of diamonds, like chain link), you have to deal with reflections on the glass, and crazy lighting on the court.  So all in all, it's a challenge.

Solution?  Crank up the ISO to 3200 (which I've never had the nerve to do before), open the apeture as wide as it will go and pan as much as possible, hoping to get something near decent.  Fortunately this was sheer practice. 

I managed to get a shot of the boy before he went onto the court. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the images with such a high ISO.  Cameras sure have come a long way in the past couple of years.

Yesterday I went out for a little while in the hopes of finding something to photograph.  For some reason I thought of the football field at the high school.  I haven't processed any of the others, but I love this one.
HDR rocks!!~!!!!!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Decorating and Cookies

The first weekend of December is when our church gets decorated for Christmas.  This year it was combined with the cookie baking and packaging by the teens.  The cookies will be distributed to the neighborhood families along with an invitation to attend our Carol-sing a week from now. 

We cranked up the Christmas music and did the decorating and cookies.  Some of the cookies were already made, some were baked on-site by the teens. 

Decorating is not my strong suit.  I do little-to-none in my house, but as the saying goes, "many hands make light work".  We finished in record time, and then I cajoled everyone to go into the kitchen (the brightest room in the church--and isn't the kitchen the heart of the house for any family?) for a group shot.  And, unlike trying to get my biological family together for a group photo, NO ONE COMPLAINED!!!  Be still my heart.

Amazingly I didn't eat a single cookie.  This dieting through the holidays is working out great.  I'll be a few pounds down by the end of Dec. 

Funny thing is, I brought my tripod to church specifically so I could join the group in the photo.  When I said, "okay, we're done", I realized I hadn't gotten into any of the shots.  But people scattered the instant I said that, so there was no getting them back together.  Sigh.
Morrette's Again

Every Wed night (or at least almost every Wed night) from Oct-Ap I attend a photo meeting.  Part of the fun of going to the meeting is that some of us meet for dinner ahead of time at a place called Morrette's.  This probably isn't new news to most of you since I've talked about this many times before.

Anyway, when I arrived at the restaurant last Wed, I took out my point and shoot and began taking pics right away.  I don't know why.  I don't usually do that, but for some reason, I was motivated.  These images were all made without flash and without a tripod, so I had to secure the camera to the table in order to keep it steady enough.  

None of these can be used to sell or for stock because of the brand name that's showing, but making images like these reminds me that there's always something to photograph.  I'm so happy that I can be so easily amused too. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Basketball Game

Well, high school basketball season has begun.  Tonight was the first game I was able to attend.  However, I made a really bad decision when with my camera of choice for the event. 

Once there, however, it was a done deal and I had to make the best of it.  Highest iso on the camera, which created noise, and horrors of horrors, I had to use my flash.  On-camera flash in a gym is almost as bad as trying to take photos of the moon with a flash.

Anyway, grandson #1 was a starter and played for most of the game (until he got hurt in the 4th quarter).  So even though the images are not great, or even "as good" as many of the others I've taken in past years, they're tolerable and definitely record the event.

Note to self:  Don't be so lazy next time--get the big-boy camera ready ahead of time so there are no excuses...and no regrets.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Mixed Bag

Thanksgiving 2011.  A mixed bag of a day. 

I started the day by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Almost from the very beginning to the very end.  A first for me.  Usually I'm in the kitchen cooking and organizing, but not today.  Today we were scheduled to have dinner at my daughter's, and wonder of wonders, she was going to do the cooking. I did, however, make a pumpkin pie this morning, and a cheesecake last night as my contribution and planned on going to her house early to "help" with the preparations.

But I digress. As Santa made his way along the parade route, signaling the end of the parade, one of the MCs said, "and here's a shout-out to M___ M____.  He's been tweeting us all morning, so I'm giving a shout-out to him".  The name he said was my grandson's name.  I immediately texted the boy, but he didn't text back, which I thought was odd.

When I arrived at his house the boy denied that he had been texting the MC.  Now, my grandson has a very unique name, and I find it hard to believe that there's another person by that name, but that's exactly what must have happened.  Very weird. 

So we proceeded to get ready for dinner.

And then there was dessert.

Backing up a little...  Several weeks ago my daughter decided that they just had to have another dog after their other dog passed away unexpectedly and quickly.  After doing some research, they found a family they know whose dog had a litter of Golden Retrievers that were almost ready to leave home. 

Logically (???) they decided to go get the puppy today, because having a house-full of people on Thanksgiving Day wouldn't be hectic enough.  The puppy, named Bella, is adorable though.

After dinner, the ladies spread out the sale fliers and plotted their course for their night of shopping.  Yup, they were heading out by about 8 pm to shop till they drop--dragging themselves home by dawn's early light tomorrow morning.  Oi vey!!  Better them than me.

So ended the wonderful "mixed-bag" day.  It was a good one. Much to give thanks for.