Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day 244: Fargo Space Aliens

Do you have Aliens in your town? Space Aliens? Or is this a North Dakota phenomena? (Emphatically off-theme. These are NOT my family members!)

PS: I'm having significant internet connection issues. . . I probably won't get to comment on others' posts until tomorrow :(

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day 243: Two Reasons to visit Grand Forks

Two Reasons to Visit Grand Forks:
1. Visit me.
2. Go to Widman's, a real Grand Forks icon. George Widman is an 87 year old 4th generation candy maker who shows up to work every day, with his wife, to make chocolate treats. Delicious chocolate treats! He says, "I'll be here till they haul me out." They're particularly known for "chippers", chocolate covered potato chips. Sounds weird, but OMG, they are SO delicious! I like the dark chocolate.

Not the greatest picture of the inside of one of the display cases. But I lose all reason when I'm face-to-face with such blissful chocolate and don't process the details of photography as well as I should during such passionate moments. I mean, there're more important decisions to be made than f-stops and shutter speed. . . like chocolate-covered pistachios or dark chocolate and jalapeno?
If you visit me, I'll buy you some chippers! And George often gives out free samples!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 242: Brian as a Baby--21 years ago

And in the interest of fairness (and because he's so darn cute!) here's a picture of my 22 year old, more than 21 years ago, as a little 3 month old. (I was younger, too, then.) Isn't he cute!

One thing we had to be alert to in our family as our kids were growing up was "fairness."

Often, with our 3, we'd say, "We're not trying to make it 'fair.' We'll give you what you need." But they'd argue "fairness." It's said that sibling rivalry is actually quite good for kids, especially girls; it helps them learn to argue and stand up for themselves, to look out for themselves, as well as others. Yeah. Great for kids. Horrendous for parents!

Which is why Doug and I are going to be buried with our chandelier. Our GLASS chandelier! (I'll post a photo of it someday.)

Our kids insisted it was jewels of some sort. And would argue shamelessly over dinner who'd get it when we died! (tactful, huh?) Finally, Doug and I had enough, and LITERALLY WROTE IT INTO OUR WILLS that we'll be buried with our chandelier.

They found something else to argue about.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 241: Symbols of Beloved Family Members

My three younglings (word?) don't live here anymore--so these are symbols of where they are now. Scott's still in Japan with the Navy (claiming to be traipsing around Asia, according to his last Facebook update).

Brian has just moved to Minneapolis, is about to start a job with a hotel, driving the shuttle (during the RNC!!!!! I want stories!) by night, working on his portfolio for an ad agency by day.

Dianna is back at St. Olaf for her junior year, and contemplating some really cool, study abroad programs over the next year. (I'm going to have to sneak into her suitcase!!!!)

I don't normally live these things out on the front steps by the geraniums. FYI.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 240: Things Left Behind

. . . . by Dianna. Dianna was here this past weekend, and left behind a few things. I'm always amused by these things, and tend to feel quite sentimental about them, especially when they seem so quintessentially "Dianna" to me!

And doesn't Bonnie look sad that Dianna's gone back to school, too?

While Dianna was home, we went to see Mama Mia. OK, another confession. Where have I been all these years? Under a rock? I've never heard of Abba before!

I loved it! Except for the very weird guy sitting two seats down from us. He was just way, WAY too into the women in the show, and his abundant squeals of delight were unnerving! Dianna called it right when she said, "Let's leave now!" just as the credits rolled, and we fled from the theater. He was right behind us, and given his general, ummmm, enthusiasm, he should have stayed until the very final credit was finished. I was glad to see Dianna has good instincts about these things. . .

Anyway, if you haven't seen it, go! If a mother or daughter will go with you, even better. But avoid the Weird Guy if you can . . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 239: Dianna 1993

Another photo from long ago, the 1993 five year old version of Dianna, scanned in. Again, I used the technique of reducing some noise by feathering a selection, using darken blend mode, and shifting downward a few pixels. But I also white to change the exposure a bit.

I used Scott Kelby's technique of taking a jpeg file, and opening it as a RAW file to adjust white balance settings. In CS3, you use "open as", select the file, and open it as a "camera RAW" file. Then it opens just as if it had been shot in RAW! You can adjust the white balance, saturation, etc. I also increased the "black" setting, and then used "fill light" to recover more detail.

Then once I opened it in photoshop, I did a "defog" and popped the colors just a little, and touched up the eyes a bit.

And don't you just love the green shag carpeting! Oh, how I LOVED getting rid of that eventually!!!!!! Almost as much as the red, flocked, wallpaper in the dining room!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 238: Scanning old Photos

This week's theme is "family" and I don't always have the, uh-hem, most stellar cooperation from family in getting photos these days (during college breaks, etc.) And our extended family all live far away.

So I thought I'd play with some old photos of family. I'm actually getting ready for Scrapfest at Mall of America, in September. Two of my sisters and I meet in Minneapolis and have a lot of fun hanging out with each other and strangely participating in this scrapbooking addiction.

I'm scanning some photos for some of the workshops, and one thing I've noticed about scanning old photos is that you can get a lot of noise or what looks like "dust spots" when you do any sharpening action on the photos. I tried a process decribed in Photoshop CS3 by Blatner, Chavez and Fraser.

I'm not sure that these two photos will be as clear in showing this as I'd like, but it's really evident when you print the photos!

The first photo (23 years ago of my son, Scott, playing with the sandbox in our back yard) is how it looks when scanned. I'm not sure why, but scanned photos also seem to end up with this little tag in the upper right and bottom left corners.

Especially in dark areas, like the shadow in the upper left, especially after defog, or sharpening, there are lots of noise, or little white specks.

I used CS3 and first defogged. Then I used the polygonol selection tool to select most of the photo. But you can actually just select a small section if you want to just did with a bunch of dust-like specks in only one section. Set "feather" to 1 or 2 pixels.

Hit control "J" on windows; command J on Mac. This creates a new layer with just the selection.
Now, for white specks, select blending mode to "darken." For black specks, you'd set the mode to "lighten."

Now use the move tool and move the new layer just one or two pixels up, down, left, or right. Instant fixing of a bazillion specks! Now you can flatten the layers and run any other kind of actions you want on it, or pop the colors, or paint with light, or sharpen. I just wanted a slight boost in saturation, so I ran Lady Ren's gentle boost, and reduced the opacity.

I cropped the photo slightly to get rid of the weird tags, saved and printed. I don't know if you can see the difference as much on-line, but you would if you printed them!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 237: Lines leading to Doug

This is a line of sun flares/circles leading to Doug, as he sits in /at a display at Heritage Village last weekend. I just like the way the sun flare looks like little "thought bubbles" and thought I could stretch it to fit "leading lines."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 236: A Couple of Llamas (I think!)

And ROTFLOL about the comment yesterday about whether she hoped this wasn't the way I did MY laundry!!!!!! Oh, thank God, no, no, no, no, no NO!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 235

Not my idea of a delightful laundry day!

And this, because it's just so incredibly moving and inspirational!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 234: It's Tomato Time!

Look at these beauties! Soon, we'll be awash in tomatoes.

Such a nice quality in a husband. . . one who plants a lush garden . . .

And don't you admire my restraint in NOT dressing these up in Barbie clothes, like the zucchinni? (Besides, when's the last time you so a voluptuous, or rotund, Barbie????)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 233: Brian's Adventure in Moving

I'm just really happy that Brian is living much closer to home now. Minneapolis is about 315 mies away, much, much closer than Columbia, MO!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day 230: Antique Firetruck

Wouldn't you feel a little nervous of your city's firetrucks still looked like this?

Not to worry. Grand Forks really does have more modern equipment than this. This is just at the Heritage Days display for East Grand Forks.

Day 229: Summer on the Prairie

Just a summer evening on the prairie

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 228: Radishes

Way too busy to get a shot of much else these days. Before and after work, I've been trying to do some exercises for my knee. And this evening, I did water aerobics. Hooray! A definite improvement between this week and last!

For the first time in my life, I also went to a chiropractor. I was hoping to find someone who knew about active isolative stretching, the stuff I'm doing to help with my knee. I wanted to check and see if I'm doing things right . . . or not. He doesn't know about AIS, but the chiropractic stuff he does is Applied Kinesiology. I figure if he can help with my knee, wonderful, or if this can help with the ways in which my knee is throwing my back into weirdness, more wonderful. After the first session, I definitely felt better in my knee/calf. . . just very briefly.

But I'm very torn about all this.. The stuff I research on the internet is highly skeptical about the science behind chiropractics, especially applied kinesiology. The Skeptical Inquirer had a review on chiropractics a few months ago and was positive about what chiropractics could do for structural back stuff, but not the many other things that are often claimed. And I don't know that their more limited endorsement included the applied kinesiology.

I'm "compounding variables" all over the place, introducing too many things at once, so as my knee gets better, I don't know what I'll be able to attribute it to. But I wish I had a clearer opinion on the validity of chiropractics! Now, if only House would do an episode on it! :)

So here's a radish from my garden. Look at the leaves on this little thing! All that drama for this little morsel! About four years ago, we visited France, and ate radishes with butter and salt. Surprisingly tasty! Ours, from our garden, tend to be delightfully sweet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 227: Coneflowers

Ah, the joys of summer. . . . !

It's August. . . there's a hint of fall already in the air as we hit 55 degrees in the evenings. I don't know if I can bear to let this glorious summer go!

I'm really liking Scott Kelby's 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop. He has you download 21 photos, and then work through lessons on the photos, using CS3. The 7 basic aspects of his system are 1) using Adobe Raw; 2) Curves Adjusting; 3) shadows/highlights; 4) painting with light; 5) channels adjustments; 6) layer blend modes and layer masks, and 7) sharpening.

I'm only in lesson 4, but within the first lesson he teaches you to make a few simple actions for sharpening. Lesson 4 would have been a great lesson for this week's POTD theme; he has you create a reflection of mountains in the water.

Oh, and a minor confession here. In the interest of full disclosure I feel compelled to reveal that I botoxed my toes yesterday.

Yeah. With Ren's Botox action. Because it looked like there were wrinkles. Wellllllllll, at least I didn't spend another half hour using the healing brush to fill in the polish!

ETA: For those relatives of mine who might be reading this, and who might not know photography terms. . . .I don't mean I REALLY botoxed my toes with needles or anything! It's a photoshop technique!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 226: Definitely NOT a Pedicure!

I SHOULD have! I should have given myself a pedicure today! But instead, I played with CS3, and learned how to do batch file processing to run actions all at once on a whole batch of photos.
And then I learned how to write and record an action! (Now, if I could only write and record this permanently into my memory!) So here are my sad toes. . .

And I ran a Lomo action on them (not something I wrote!)

And ran a lomo action on this crazy sculpture thing I bought for Doug last year for his birthday. Note the conga drum . . . which Doug plays in the footstool band in our church.

And for those of you who suggested I dump Doug if he keeps his eyes open while kissing (Becky!!!!!!). . . . Nah, I'm going to keep this guy. He entertains me. . . .

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 225: Good Relationship or Bad?

Doug was with a group of youth on a mission trip to Chicago, working with a children's program. He got back Saturday night, and brought me this little gift from Chinatown in Chicago.

It's a test. Of whether we have a good relationship, or bad one. He tells me, that if our relationship is strong, the lips of the little piggies(?) will come together and stay sealed.. . .

. . . . like this (below).

So there you have it. Proof.

But why does the "girl" (which I assume is red) have her eyes closed, and the "boy" ('cause he's blue) have his eyes open?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 224: Prepare to be Jealous!

Look what my sister-in-law, Barb, gave me for my birthday! 4 necklaces, and 2 sets of earrings, all made by her! I was secretly hoping for one, but four!!!! It's going to take me a long time each morning trying to figure out which one to wear that day. And look how beautiful each of these turned out. She combines glass and metal, melting them in a kiln, to create these wearable works of art. Each one turns out different, and all are dramatically beautiful!

This is the same sister-in-law who had the heart valve surgery in June. She is doing extremely well now. I've put a link to her (Barb & Bob) blog in my blogroll on the right. It's so much fun watching someone come back to life right before your very eyes; Barb has energy again to do things that she loves and are of interest to her.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Day 223: Oh, I wish I were Scuba Diving. . . .

. . . that is where I really want to be-eee--eee!
'cause if I were scuba diving,
I'd be blowing bubbles with glee--eee---eee!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Day 222: Oh, I Wish I Were an Oscar Meyer Weiner. . . .

. . . because that is what I really want to be!
'Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner,
Everyone would be in love with me---eeee-----eee!"

The Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile came to town! When I was a kid in the 50s in the Chicago area, there were a few real highlights of the summer . . . riding our bikes, catching lightening bugs, playing kick-the-can, going to the swimming pool for hours on end, and the coup'de-gra of all, the Grand Ka-Ching . . . . the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile!!!!! With whistles!!!! They handed out whistles, shaped like hotdogs! And with 6 brothers and sisters, all with whistles (at least after my sisters were born later), imagine the "joyous music" the 7 of us made!

Sadly, no whistles were handed out at this.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day 220: Minnesota Countryside

Just an interesting bunch of wildflowers.
And the conversion:

Like what we've done to the place? (not really!) SOOC, except a defog

And the conversion.