Sunday, May 31, 2009

Serious Nut Case

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that my dear, sweet, husband, Doug, is a serious Nut Case. While visiting my relatives in Chicago, Doug hopped on Bill's electric cart (he has 2 of them, for his parents), and zoomed down the middle of the street.

Oh, wait. Maybe not so nuts; it seemed I hopped on the blue one, and circled around the block, (with my camera in hand, of course.) And we played chicken in the middle of the street.

But it's really Bill that's a crazy guy. Because he set the whole scheme in motion, sending Doug off on the red one, and then TELLING me that Doug was on the cart, did I want the blue one? Whoever could resist that?

This is my brother-in-law, Bill. In the background, to the left, is my youngest sister, Laurie. Thank you, David, for graduating high school this year, and giving the older generation a chance to act up!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

David, the Graduate, and Guy of the Hour

I was so blissed out last week by getting to see my relatives in the Chicago area! It's a 12 hour trek, so it doesn't happen very often, and these wonderful guys grew up and turned into wonderful men. Last time I saw them, they were little kids who liked yo-yos! (Maybe they still do, but now they are very interesting adults!)

David, the handsome guy on the right, just graduated from h.s. last week. Moments after this photo was taken, he put "bunny ears" on his big brother John, to the left.

Why, oh why, didn't I take even more photos! I tried to not just stick my camera in everyone's faces, but now I wish I had many, many more photographs. This is a photo of my nephew, John.

And this sweet, kind, funny, extremely intelligent guy is my older brother. Not older by much, I must tell you. He's not even a year older than me, and I like to bask in the glory of being the same age as him for 6 days, every year. Why this satisfies me so intensely, I have no idea! Just part of the pleasure of having siblings.

Another part of the pleasure of having siblings is when they marry wonderful people that I can count as many own. Maria is also brilliant, creative, talented and very nurturant. She made sure that all of us 7 siblings knew about the graduation party months in advance. It was inspired! It helped us organize our lives to have the rare opportunity to gather 6 of us all in one place. Sadly, my oldest brother couldn't make it. Maria saw to it that there was wonderful food to feed a swarm of people, and put together, with her son, John, a sweet, moving photo journey of their life with David.

More photos to come!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Winona, MN & Watkins Remedies

Winona, MN has the strangest blend of old and artistic. It is known for this turn-of-the- century company that manufactured "remedies." It was started in 1868, and first sold "remedies;" I can't help but think of elixirs for whatever ailed you. It was a "networking" home-based business; the "Watkins Man" would acquire an area, and peddle his wares in his area. Now, the company still manufactures products, and sells eco-friendly products, spices and various lotions. It still sells "tonics", such as their Beef Iron and Wine Tonic, and supplements, like their "Brain Plus", "Female Formula", and "Male Formula." (Use your imagination.)

Sadly, we were there on a day when we could only tour the museum and general store, not the administration building (with its Italian tile and Tiffany glass) and factory.

I bought some mango lotion and some lemon scented lotion. Then, as Doug and I drove about, exploring the town, we came upon this little grouping of vehicles in a parking lot.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Beautiful Miss Bonnie,, and FlyLady Ostrich Feather Duster

The Beautiful Miss Bonnie has identified two wonderful organizations that work to see that deployed military personnel get care packages. I've decided to go through the Any Soldier site, and within this, went to the AnySailor section. You get to identify a location and gender, and I was particularly moved by some of the requests of the female sailors who are now deployed in Afghanistan. They asked for things like "nice smelling shampoo, tuna fish in packets, Clearasil face wash, socks." And most of all, letters from anyone from "home." The Beautiful Miss Bonnie tells me I should get busy now!

Dear Beautiful Miss Bonnie, My house is a mess! There's clutter and dust everywhere! What should I do?

The Beautiful Miss Bonnie says:
Do what I do. I have a lovely purple ostrich feather duster that I ordered from

Just rush through the house, perhaps not on all fours, and the ostrich feather sucks up the dust. You can shake it out on the front steps when you're done, taking care to not let any of my less-well-behaved brethren sneak out the door at the same time.

And if you must, you can prance around the house with the feather duster on your head, if you feel like looking particularly fetching.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fainting Chair in The Carriage House

What's a Bed & Breakfast without a fainting chair? You know, for when you've just gotta faint.

And look! It works!

Didn't Edward Gorey feature lots of Fainting Chairs and Fainting Women in his ink drawings?

This was the little hallway in our room that led to the fainting chair, stove, and jacuzzi.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Carriage House, Winona, MN

We've never done this before! Stayed at a Bed & Breakfast, that is. And this one turned out to be a wonderful experience. Doug and I were on our way to Chicago from Grand Forks, for my nephew's graduation. It's about a 12 hour drive, and we decided to just go about 8 hours the first day, and stay overnight someplace. The "someplace" was Winona, MN, and we booked a room in the Carriage House (with a jacuzzi!). I'll show you more photos of the B&B, and the rest of the weekend, in the days to come.

And what's a Bed & Breakfast without breakfast? This was light, but just about right. You get to fill out a little menu card the night before, and when "fruit" turns out to be raspberries & blackberries. . . . well, then, I'm just happy!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comparison SOOC & LAB mode editing

NEWSFLASH: I got very good, although sparse, news today. My son says that now the Navy is NOT sending him to Afghanistan! I don't know anything other than this note, as in whether he is still an alternate, whether he has to train in Kuwait. But I foresee another night of tears, this time those of relief.

But this was a very sobering experience for me. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq stir up all kinds of feelings, including a sense of patriotism and support for our troops, (regardless of political positions), but it was so easy to have this "at a distance". It doesn't feel so abstract to me any more. The book I started to read, "Mom's Guide to Military Deployments" has some wonderful suggestions for real, tangible support.

I think I'm going to search out someone deployed in Afghanistan, who doesn't get much mail, to "adopt" with care packages. A small gesture, but this really should be more "real" for all of us is if this is where we sent the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers of Someone.

Are you sick of a) My London photos from February; and b) my singing the praises of LAB mode editing yet?

Well, here's another SOOC that I almost deleted:

And then I thought I'd do a little LAB mode editing, and liked how it turned out:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


These beautiful chimes are on the St. Olaf campus. They make a music that just transports you to a different pace, different state-of-being. It can be windy and cold, but hearing them, standing under them, even though noisy,is soothing and peaceful. Think I want to build one in my living room. . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Navy is Not my Friend Right Now!

Well, Ok. Maybe it is. It does protect us and all that. And generally I have a very patriotic attitude, but not one that accepts all of our country's decisions unquestioningly.

But right now, I am a distraught mother, and I am NOT happy with the Navy. Scott called me on Friday and said that he has been "loaned" (abandoned) to the army; he got orders to leave for one month of state-side training, 2 months training in Kuwait, and a year in Afghanistan. I don't know that there's been a weekend that I've cried as much as this past weekend!

On Saturday, he called and said (glimmer of hope!) that it was unclear whether he was training as the "alternate" or the "primary." One definitely goes; one waits in the wing, like an understudy, I guess. I'm praying that he's not the primary, but this doesn't feel quite right, because I don't want to be hoping that some other son or daughter goes.

This is a very hard thing to wrap my mind around. Who raises a child and wants that they be plucked out by fate to face the horrors of war? It's one thing to raise a child to send them off to whatever crazy kind of life they might carve out for themselves; it's another to see them go off to a situation where you know there's a less than bearable chance you might not see them again, or that they won't come back healthy and whole.

The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie is not happy with this either, but says it's time to read "Mom's Field Guide" by Sandy Doell. I have a feeling this will be much better preparation than another book I picked up and thumbed through in the bookstore, which I don't even care to write about at this moment.

And this, from another world and dimension (St. Olaf College) is one of their many beautiful, peaceful, areas on campus.

Night at the Mall!

No, no, no---not my idea of a good time at all! Apparently, Mall of America ran a "Night at the Mall" for people to sign up and sleep at the mall. These blurry pictures show what look like middle school-aged kids (mostly), and there were actually many more of them. The movie, "Night at the Museum" was being played, and on the platform to the right was piled mountains of junk food. Sugary, activating, junk food.

Off, out of the frame, slightly down an aisle, was a more middle-aged woman, trying to stretch out on pushed-together benches, a pillow and blankets, tossing and turning, trying to (HA!) sleep. I assume her off-spring were in the mass of kids in the middle. Good luck to her, you brave, foolish woman!

No, my idea of "Night at the Mall" would be with my sisters and rowdy female friends, possibly doing scrapbooking, definitely with our cameras and photo booths set up for instructional little workshops.

A coffee bar on one side; a wine-tasting table on the other. A salad bar, and dessert bar. (Kind of a like a cruise-ship buffet, but with photography, & scrapbooking, and for women.)

Then, of course, there'd need to be some extremely comfortable beds set up, or maybe lounge chairs would do. And someone giving complimentary back massages. Brookstone could get involved in this one.

I'm afraid if the Mall ran this kind of special, they'd be packed to the rafters. Especially if they add chocolate!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Steps Toward Graduation at St. Olaf

We spent the weekend with Brian in Minneapolis, and Dianna at St. Olaf's College. She's just finishing her third year, and Doug and I were part of that annual ritual of transporting college belongings hither and yon. Fortunately, this year's ventures did NOT involve stairs! (And that makes me want do do the happy-dance!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wildlife Battles; Maybe We Should Even Keep an Eye on Bambi: Subtitle--Where's Homeland Security When You Need It?

OK, at risk of being permanently banished from boarding airplanes because of my reference to Home Land Security, I'd like to suggest that there's a threat to our homes from the Bambi-like creatures looking all innocent Amongst Us.

First there was the deer that smashed through my church windows. (Very ugly and messy. And my attitude about the Bambi-Bamboozlers really did change as person after person in my neck of the woods was taken down by sweet appearing deer smashing through their windshields. Seriously. I grew up in the Chicago area, and we didn't view rodents as pleasant Disney-esque buddies. Deer are like rodents, only bigger.)

And then there were the Cedar Waxwings, looking beautiful, (but masked), and eating my house. (They're gone now.) And the dead squirrel in my driveway, which I'm not CERTAIN had to do with the Waxwings, (and I did so appreciate the duck that showed up to stand watch after that.) (Ok. Ducks are on the "good" list.)

Enough with the preamble. Wouldn't you like to chomp on a nice, bright, yellow tulip bulb? MMMMM, tasty!!!! Feel free to just take one bite, --and most definitely, leave the stem.

The prize:

The fiend:

OK, Easter Bunny Imposter, I'M KEEPING MY EYE ON YOU! And don't even try the cute stuff; my daughter has you beat by a mile, what with how she used to practice, in the mirror, her "puppy dog eyes" before begging for her little ole heart's desires. I'm immune to that now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carnation Petals and LAB Mode editing

Soon, there will actually be flowers like these outside! Until then, I'll have to content myself with my 105mm macro lens, flash, and photographing indoors.

ISO 400
SB00 Flash
105 mm
RAW, manual, AWB
LAB a&b channels
High Pass Sharpen
Itty Bitty LAB mode editing Tutorial:
1.Change to LAB mode
2. Curves: on "a" channel, change white point input to 97, black point input to -98
on "b" channel, change white point input to 97, black point input to -98
3. Curves: on lightness channel, change black point to 12 and white point to 88
4. brightness/contrast: brightness to 10; contrast to 30
5. High pass sharpen in overlay mode
6. Convert to RGB mode (rasterize; merge; flatten); save, size for web.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Breakfast at Starbucks

I don't remember when I've enjoyed a breakfast as much as yesterday's! Brian took me out for breakfast.

The conversation with Brian was very heartwarming, and out-and-out interesting, and the oatmeal wasn't too shabby either!

And this is just a sprig of the flowers from a bouquet that my husband bought me.
f/ 4.0
105 mm lens, focused primarily on the stems
SB800 bounced flash
Edited in LAB, a&b channels, lighting channel, bright/contrast adjustment, high pass filter in overlay mode. Slight vignette applied back in RGB.

Doesn't Everyone Plant a Garden on the Hood of Their Car?

Every night, lately, I bring these flowers in from my yard and put them to "bed" on the hood of my car. Because it's still friggin' cold here at night (and most days)! Last night, it was 29 degrees! You wouldn't want to sleep in my yard either if it was 29 degrees!

You'll be pleased to know that not once yet have I driven off to work with them still on the hood. (Then again, maybe you'd be delighted to see me doing so, and would all line up along the side of the road with your Nikons and Canons!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

SpringFest '09; Sort of a Party

A Recipe for a Party. . .

40 degrees and a park. Porta-potties and music. Lots of college-aged people.

Beer. And a guy with a determined way to transport it. He really hoped I wasn't with the paper.

And lots and lots of police.

And more police.

There were even the usual squad cars, but also police vans, and police on foot. I had no idea our little city even had this many police!

By the way, it's just a coincidence that my last two posts refer to beer! I'm truly not an alcoholic! Ask my friends and relatives! I'm much more likely to be a one-drink-fall-asleep type person!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Good People Drink Good Beer," Hunter S. Thompson

090505_3823 090505_3825 090505_3824 090505_3821090505_3822 Do you remember Hunter S. Thompson? He wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "gonzo" journalism. Apparently, this is a line of beer in honor of him. I'm not sure what's more fun, photographing the bottles, or drinking the beer!

I put them in my window to photograph, so I could blow out the backgrounds. My neighbor across the yard watched me, probably wondering what I was doing. But I don't care; there's nothing that I could do that would be weirder than these neighbors. These are the same neighbors that gave my husband a bag of dog poop one day. The man-neighbor rang our front doorbell and handed my husband a paper lunchbag. Doug said, "what's this?," looking inside, probably thinking it was donuts. The guy said, "I think your dog left this in my grass."

Well, I hate to dispute his poop-identity forensic skills, but the beautiful Ms. Bonnie only frequents our thoroughly fenced-in back yard. In her younger days, she might escape out the front door and race across the street (opposite direction of poop-neighbor), to the pooch parlor to check her email, but I usually was in hot pursuit with a dog treat (or piece of styrofoam because I could fool her.)

We just don't walk our dog through other people's lawns. Doug just looked at poop-neighbor and said, "OK" with a look and that tone of voice that also says, "What are you? Some kind of crazy nut, addled fool?" and walked the poop-present to the garbage.

I'm not sharing my Hunter S. Thompson beer with the poop-neighbor even if it was an innocent case of mistaken excrement identity, and Hunter would agree with this!