Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Fog

Where I live, the closest Starbucks is inside a Target store.  It serves the same items and has the same logo, but it's totally missing the ambiance.  

The next closest one is about 40 minutes away.  It's a stand-alone shop, and it has some of the ambiance that Starbucks is known for, but it doesn't have any outside seating for the warmer seasons.

On my way home from the granddaughter's soccer game this morning, I stopped at that stand-alone Starbucks to get an ice-coffee. I wasn't going to get any pastry until I saw....wait for it....their seasonal

Cranberry.    Bliss.    Bar!!!

If I had had my computer or kindle with me, I would have made myself comfortable and settled in for a while to enjoy the coffee and bar.  But instead, I spent some time photographing my goodies and then got in my car and enjoyed them while driving home.  It wasn't the same, but the bar tasted just as good.

Our temps today were a balmy 45 or so.  As a result, there was fog all over and since the next "assignment" for my photo group is 'Dreamy', I pulled the car over, grabbed my trusty point-and-shoot and did the best I could.  I really wanted to get out of the car and stand in the middle of the road, but it was raining and I didn't want my camera to get wet.  Maybe next time.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Making of a House

My grandchildren have very full social calendars.  Between their schedules and mine, it's almost impossible to get together with the 3 of them at one time.  (Forget the oldest one--between sports and working, he's never available--but would an 18-year-old want to hang out with us anyway?)

So today the all the stars aligned and we were able to spend some time together.

Making.   Gingerbread.   Houses

Now you have to understand that I'm not a "crafty" person.  I usually run screaming out of the house when someone mentions doing some kind of artsy/craftsy project. But you also have to understand that I'm desperate for activities to do with these little people.  So it was I who came up with this idea.

Youtube made it look so easy.  I'm here to tell you, though, that it's not.  (Jacob agreed with me, as you can see in the photo)  But we persevered and they each wound up with some semblance of a Gingerbread House.

And they had fun, which was really the main objective anyway.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


Every 2nd Sunday in December, Troy, NY holds an annual Victorian Stroll.  It's one of the few cities in the area that holds it during the daytime.  Besides being a lot of fun, it's a tad warmer during the daylight and it's a great place for wonderful photo ops.

A friend and I decided to go today.  It was, by my uncertain calculations, the 14th day of cloudy, dreary skies, but for photography, it was perfect.  No precipitation and the temps hovered around 32, so all in all it was pretty tolerable.

Walking into Troy from the parking area we first saw this monument to the Viet Nam War.  It's really beautiful, so we spent a few minutes there taking some photos.

Frosty the Snow Man was a big hit and a lot of children we getting their pics taken with him.  None were crying, as they often do with Santa, I guess because  Frosty has such a happy face. 

There's nothing like attending an event like this with a fellow shutter-bug...

This juggler was on stilts doing her act, but I'm such a nut about getting close-ups I forgot to get her full length. 

I don't know what these folks were doing, but it was some kind of reel with the sticks and they were really enjoying themselves.

Santa and his elf were happy to pose with the passers-by.  They started playing shortly after this mom and girl left and they were really good.

They weren't too bad at hamming it up for the "tourists" with the cameras either.

I played around with this image to try and make it look a little vintage.  I like the results.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November Thankfulness

Many of my fb "friends" have taken the opportunity to post one thing they're thankful for each day during November.  It's really wonderful to see what they post and even though the goal is to be "thankful" every day of the year, I get why they choose to do it publicly during the month of November, since it's the month during which Thanksgiving occurs.

I've never participated in the growing tradition--not because I'm not thankful, but because I'm lazy.  But I've been convicted and instead of boring everyone on fb with 30 days of "thanks" at once, I decided to make it my blog post.

So this is kind of long, but I did not elaborate on most of the entries, so I think it's pretty easy to read through.

These are not in any order of significance or importance except for the first one, which is always uppermost in my mind--so much so that I often don't think I need to express it. Then I remember that other people need to know where I'm coming from.  The rest are just "thanks" as they pop into my head and at any given time might be more or less important according to what's happening in my life.

So here goes---I am thankful for:

1)   God in heaven who chose me before the creation of the world to become His child
2)   a warm house
3)   a great church family
4)   all of my awesome friends
5)   my 5 wonderful children
6)   my 4 exceptional grandchildren (I think they take after me, hahaha)

7)   my husband who maintains the house and cars and can fix anything that doesn't run away from him first
8)   the food in my fridge and cupboards
9)   my computer
10) my camera and all the fun I have taking photos
11) my photo buddies
12) living in a rural area where crime and fear are at a minimum
13) having the blessing of going to Hawaii every winter

14) having just spent a month in Thailand working with a missionary organization
15) my health and the health of my family
16) the fact that all of my family is working
17) my daughter and son being such good parents and raising such exceptional children--see #6
18) God loving me no matter how I mess up
19) the clothes in our closets
20) being able to see, hear, walk & talk when I wake up in the mornings 
21) my "in-law" (in-love) children
22) a pastor who will not compromise the Word of God when he preaches/teaches
23) my hip surgery last Dec and how well and completely I've recovered

24) the opportunity to work at the Pregnancy Care center and the great people I work with
25) my brand new car--the first brand new car I've ever had in my life
26) my 3 hiking buddies that keep me motivated all summer

27) my YMCA membership
28) technology that allows me to instant-message friends that live far away
29) pizza
30) scented candles

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that the upcoming Christmas season will be a blessed one for you and your families.

A Really Boring Post

It's been a long time since I posted.  I haven't been very photo-motivated, so here goes.  

In light of the fact that yesterday was Thanksgiving, and I didn't have to cook anything except whole berry cranberry sauce, because we were invited elsewhere and I was told that I didn't have to bring anything, I decided to bake some French bread today.  Company for dinner, so I decided to play Susie-homemaker and do something domestic.

I've been pretty slack on vanity license plates too, but that's not my fault.  They seem to be more rare these days, except as I'm driving down the highway and can't photograph them.  But these have been collecting on my camera, so I finally decided to process them and share them with you.

I actually have an unfinished "thanks-giving" post saved in my drafts folder that I will be posting soon.  It may be one of the only posts I've ever posted without photos--unless I can knuckle down and get some older photos to accompany my I-am-thankful-for items.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Last Full Day in Chiang Mai


Today was my last full day in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  We only had three of the children this morning, so we walked to the park with them.  Of course it was the sunniest and hottest day that we've had in the past two weeks.  But we needed to get them out of the "community room" so that all of the supplies could be packed up for the move back to headquarters.

We returned in time to cool them off a little by rinsing their feet with water in the tub and having a few minutes in the a/c.  Then it was time to head off to the River Market Restaurant where we were all treated to a lunch of Caesar Salad and pizza.

While we were there we saw a sign for Sky Lantern lighting that would begin at 7 pm.  During the month of November, the Thais celebrate a festival and the lantern lighting is part of the festival.  There's a fee to light one, but it's minimal.  Nel & John, and Leah and I decided to go back for the experience as a farewell gesture since Leah was due to leave later tonight and I'm due to leave tomorrow night.  Nel & John will stay until Nov. 7.

Nel holding her lantern while it's being lit.

Leah getting ready to let her lantern go air born.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cooking Class


Tonight some of us attended a Thai cooking class.  I wasn't too excited when we were signing up for which day we wanted to go.  A lot of Thai food is spicy and I don't like/can't tolerate spice to any degree, so I didn't think I'd enjoy learning how to cook food I didn't like to eat.

We were, however, assured that cooking the food is better than ordering it in a restaurant because you can control the amount of spice you add, so I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity whether I enjoyed the food or not.

IT.    WAS.    SO.    AWESOME!!

The school sent a cab, or what they call a song-tau (I don't think the second word is spelled correctly) to pick us up at the hotel.  

The view from our song-tau

We went directly to market to purchase some of the ingredients for the dishes we would be making.  Our teacher did a great job explaining what everything was and after making the purchases, we had a few minutes to wander around the market on our own.

Below:  our merry band.

Nel and Leah getting ready to chop some of the ingredients for their dish choices.

One of my choices was "spring rolls".  So yummy.

It was such a great afternoon.  I even brought home leftovers for dinner tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Amazing Day


Today was really an amazing day.  We reserved a tour for one of the local elephant parks.  I had no idea that it would be as wonderful as it was.  

We were picked up right in front of our hotel & shuttled in an air-conditioned van to the park about an hour away.

The first thing we saw was a row of elephants with their handlers beckoning to the visitors.  Everyone could have a turn being hugged and kissed by the elephants which were in turn glad to receive offerings of bananas and cash.

Our new friends who are working with us. 

After the hugs and kisses, some of the elephants were bathed and scrubbed in the river.

Then off to the arena where the elephants put on a show which included playing soccer, basketball and painting.

About 6 elephants each had their own easel and they painted different scenes.  It was pretty amazing to watch them and see the final product.  The paintings were for sale in the gift shop.  

We were then taken to the area where we got on the elephants for our elephant ride.  

After the ride, we went to the tiger park. 

Leah spent some time snuggling with the tigers.  

We had a wonderful buffet lunch, then went  up the mountain to the most famous temple in Chiang Mai and then off to visit the silk factory where we got the story on how silk is produced from the silk worm.

We were all significantly tired by then, so we opted to head home.

What a day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Visit to a Village


Today we visited a small mountain village.  As we began our trip, this was our view out the van window for about the first hour and then randomly throughout the next hour of our ride.

When we arrived, it was still raining, so we went back down the hill a bit and went to lunch a little early.  After lunch we made the drive back up the mountain and by the time we arrived there the rain had ceased.  

The people of this village grow coffee and rice.  We were treated to a cup of delicious coffee and then the group of us proceeded to buy all the pkgs of coffee they had available at the time.  Very yummy!!

After our coffee break, we began our guided tour of the village.  Most of the houses are built above the ground on stilt-like poles, and everyone has pigs.  Why pigs?  
Doesn't everyone know that pigs eat snakes, and and that prevents the snakes from getting into the homes.  
And they only keep black pigs.  Why? you ask.
So they don't get sunburned, of course.

School was done for the day and these children were making their own fun. 

But it looks like they're up-to-speed with some technology.  Apparently most of the house had electric, and there were quite a few of these satellite dishes scattered around the village.

Just as we were getting ready to get into our vans, this momma came by with this adorable baby.  I asked if I could take their picture and momma agreed readily.  It was a great way to end our village tour.