Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Scenic Views: Somewhere in Minnesota. . .Nevis, Walker, Akeley?

. . . I'm not sure exactly where I shot these; my GPS would know! But that's the beauty of a GPS. . . it's so much easier to slip off the beaten path and feel some confidence that you'll find your way home again.

And look at the scenic views I captured with my Nikon D40!

But what were they looking at?

Maybe I should update my funeral wishes to include using this mortician. . .

Thanks, Total Stranger, for taking this shot of Doug and me!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Waving Petunias Out for a Stroll

How do you take your waving petunias out for a stroll? I use a baby carriage!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bonnie's Hot because it's 90 Degrees!

Dang--our sirens are sounding re:tornado warning. I'm heading downstairs. But isn't Bonnie pretty?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Proactiv Hell and their Evil Robots

Proactiv is staffed by Evil Robots! Ok, so it's a wonderful product, Proactiv cleanser. My daughter likes to use it, and sadly, once in a while, I like to use it as well. But, OMG! They have the most frustrating customer service on the planet!

Only read this if you're really, really bored!

I tried to avoid the phone call to Proactiv by going through their web site. Ha! What delusional disorder came upon me letting me think that I might escape their special brand of torture? While trying to figure out if there was some way I could just order two lousy bottles of their skin cleanser, a mystery "chat" square opened up. So, I naively asked my question:

Me: "Can I order two bottles of your cleanser? I don't know my account number."
Evil Robot: "Let's move the chat window to the bottom of the screen while we chat."


I try again:
Me: "Can I order two bottles of your cleanser? I don't know my account number."
Evil Robot: "Are you a member? Once you order our initial package, you can order individual products in the future."
Me: "I don't know if I'm a current member. I used to be, but stopped ordering. Can I still order two bottles of your cleanser?"


I try again:
Me: "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you still there? Are you going to answer my question?"
Evil Robot: "And what was your question again?"
Me: "I don't know my account number. I don't know if I'm a current member. I used to order your product and stopped when I had too a large a back log because of your negative option program. Can I still order two bottles of your cleanser?"
Evil Robot: (long, long silence)
Me: "Are you still there? Can I order two bottles of your cleanser?"
Evil Robot: "Are you a current member?"
Me: "I don't know if I'm a current member. Can I order two bottles of your cleanser? Can you just please say Yes or No?"
Evil Robot: Thank you for contacting Proactiv. If you have any other questions, please call us at 1 800 252-7774

Grrrrr. I think about ordering it on E-bay, and why I stopped ordering Proactiv in the first place. Then I think that maybe the cleanser on Ebay is really empty Proactiv bottles refilled with baby lotion, or pee, and I call the number.

Sweet Sounding Foreign Worker from the Movie "Outsourced": "Can I have your credit card number please?"
Me: "Ummm. . . first I have some questions. Can I just order two bottles of your skin cleanser? I used to have an account but I haven't ordered in a long time."
Sweet Sounding Foreign Worker from the Movie "Outsourced" who probably lives on 13 and a half cents a day: "No. You have to order the entire cleaning system initially, and then receive shipments every 60 days for all eternity. Would you like to be billed in one or two easy payments?"
Me: "Ok, two payments. What comes in the initial order?"

Ok, so then the
Sweet Sounding Foreign Worker from the Movie "Outsourced" who knows how to make offers sound like bargains that she hates to mention but she just couldn't live with herself if she didn't let me in on this very special deal that I would be a total fool to pass up proceeded to get my agreement to I don't even know what now. Some 5 or 3 bottle system, that is either 2 oz or 4 oz, with a travel kit with 3 more bottles of I-don't-know what and a special gift thrown in. Plus in 60 days or 30 days I will receive another shipment in the mail which will also cost me some unspecified sum of money that will be of course be charged to my credit card, also for all eternity. Sorry about that little short-fall for your tuition next semester, Dianna!

Next time, I'm just scrubbing down my face with ShamWow! and telling my daughter to deal with it!

And this photo has nothing to do with this post, but what's a post without a photo?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Park Street Inn Bed & Breakfast, Nevis, MN

This is a bed and breakfast in Nevis, MN. Doug and I went there this past weekend, and this was directly across from the beach scene that I showed you yesterday.

The Park Inn is a block from the Heartland Trail, a 49 mile multi-use trail for biking, cross-country skiing, walking, snowmobiling. . . skipping? The trail use to be train rails, and when the train stopped running in the area, the state eventually paved it over (as well as a number of other rail lines in the state) and developed it for recreational use.

Our room actually had a jacuzzi in it! Sadly, we're not exactly batting a thousand on our jacuzzis. This is the 2nd time we've stayed in a B&B, and the second time we chose the room with a jacuzzi. At the last B&B, there was no hot water.

This whirlpool was perfect--but Doug got sick, and was not really inclined to get in the jacuzzi, although I got to enjoy it.

These are the two innkeepers, Don and Linda Hayle. Linda served us her signature french toast with cream cheese and raspberries, as part of a gourmet breakfast, one morning. This inn is worth staying at for the breakfast alone! One morning we had crab quiche, home-made rhubarb bread, and fresh fruit.

I'll post more photos from our weekend getaway over the next couple of days. . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nevis, Minnesota

We got to spend the weekend in a little town called Nevis, Minnesota. This is one of the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, and on an evening like this, every lake is the BEST lake!

“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”

Lyman Frank Baum

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ms. Canada Lilacs

Even though my husband had a minor fender-bender in the Target parking lot, between our clunker 1996 Minivan, and a Canadian's BMW, we LOVE Canadians! Even if our mini-van tried to squash one like a bug.

And to prove it, here's a photo of the most beautiful lilac tree in our yard. It's a Ms. Canada Lilac tree, and tends to bloom slightly after the more familiar purple (or lilac) lilacs. The blossoms have a raspberry coloring to them.

And between the lilacs and the blooming chives, my frogs are looking intoxicated with summer-joy and bliss!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Homeland Security is Watching You, Cedar Waxwings!

Homeland Security is ready for you, Cedar Waxwings! Preventive Detention is available, and I already consider you as an enemy combatant.

(PS: If this post makes no sense to you, read some of my posts about the Cedar Waxwings around this date: April 15 ) But, lest you think I'm truly horrendous, I'd like to point out that we did buy an Oriole bird feeder today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Martha Stewart in My Yard

Pride in culinary skills is a calling. Dinner should always be prepared with great attention to detail. This is NOT the time to shirk on your eagle-eye.

Be selective as you search for the best produce. Remember, shop local, and freshness counts.

Once you spot a nice cut of worm, pounce promptly. Be competitive; do not yield your find to other shoppers.

I find I get the best flavor in my cuts by giving it a sound shake to stun it senseless (should worms have senses.) Portions should be sizable, or at least as much as you can manage in your mouth at once.

Remember to not slack off on presentation and make sure dinner is promptly served.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Shot of My Sweetie

Since the theme of the week is "boys," here's one of whom I am quite fond. (I'd rather say . . . "I am fond of," but there's that proposition thing, and I'm afraid of the Proposition Police.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Grand Forks Warmth

Oh, happy days in Grand Forks! We've had a long, tough winter. Actually, we've had a long, tough spring, and fall wasn't so great either. But it actually hit 81 degrees yesterday and the denizens of River City were totally blissed out! Downtown Grand Forks had an Art Fest, and because this was not an Art Fest in a blizzard, people turned out in droves.

See this crowd crossing the bridge between Grand Forks and East Grand Forks? It's a crowd! (Around here, more than 3 or 4 people constitutes a crowd.) 22,000 people turned out for the Art Fest. Keep in mind, that the population of Grand Forks is only about 55,000.

There were giant puppet people roaming through the crowds. Grand Forks is such a funny place. I had my 70-300 mm lens with me, and because it's sizable, I think it tends to draw more attention to it than my smaller lenses. But over and over again, I'd notice that I'd stop to take a photo, would be fiddling with my settings, and would look up and see a whole line of people patiently waiting for me, not wanting to block my shot. It was kind of un-nerving! I found myself wanting to rush, not wanting to hold up 15 or so in either direction waiting to pass in front of me! Yep. Grand Forks warmth.

PS. About those birds. I will post a photo of the gold finches in a day or two, but would the nasty birds that keep flying over my laundry line, causing me to re-wash a load of sheets TWICE in one day, kindly refrain?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Feeding the Birds vs. Flipping the Bird

It's a dangerous act, but we've taken to feeding the birds in our yard this summer. Those of you who have been following this blog understand what a reckless--dare I say foolhardy?--act this is, given the attack on our humble abode by the Cedar Waxwings back in April.

This is a thistle feeder. . . and it's been attracting little gold finches to our yard. (Nice little finches; not murderous Cedar Waxwings with rage in their hearts (and beaks.) By the way, last weekend a flock of 25 to 30 Cedar Waxwings sauntered into my friend, Sheila's, backyard. And one flew at and into her window! I'm prepared to whisk her to a safe-house if necessary.

Feeding the bird should not be confused with flipping the bird. For the first time in my life, I "flipped the bird"! It was just one of those things. My husband and I were driving down the street, competently, I might add. And some wild ones decided to swoop in front of us, and the passenger gave us the finger. We were baffled as to the reason, and why oh why didn't I pull out my camera and snap a shot? But I did manage to return the gesture in (un)kind. We felt like we had suddenly been dumped into a certain class of drivers poking along at tractor speed. . . but we weren't. Odd how sometimes drivers have this sense of "violated rights" once they get behind the wheel.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First Step toward Recovery: ShamWow! & a Sippy Cup

ShamWow! really did come to the rescue yesterday, sopping up wine out of my printer, around all of my papers, across my book shelf with my digiscrapped albums. (ShamWow! seems to be suspiciously enthusiastic about its mission when it comes to wine; you may recall it's earlier distinction in absorbing the broken glass and wine when my husband forgot he'd bought a bottle and it rolled out the side door of the van onto the garage floor. Maybe ShamWow! is over-compensating for it's sense of Shame about Vince.)

It could have been much worse. Much, much worse. A few inches to the left and the trajectory of the WineTsunami would have hit my laptop, and my external hard drive sitting on the floor. Today, I assessed the damage further, and bizarrely, my printer is still printing! It's just as crappy as it has been, but no worse.

The good news is that only about 16 of the digiscrapped pages look wine-dipped. I managed to find the .psd files of 15 of them, and will do the necessary conversions and send the pages out to be printed (especially since I also drenched all my blank photo paper.)

So, the first step, after admitting there is a problem, is ShamWow! to sop up the mess, and then Sharon's brilliant suggestion of a Sippy Cup! Of course! If first I'm spilling coffee, then the next day wine, all over my printer/computer/expensive stuff, this is the perfect solution!

And look how well ShamWow! blots up those tears! One would wonder (if one was you, not me)if I'm crying over the scrapbook pages, or about life having come to this: drinking Zinfandel from a Sippy Cup.

My husband is a tad horrified that this same person who went on a wine-tasting tour in Napa Valley last September would sink to this. Hey! I didn't SAY I'd be bringing it wine-tasting, if we ever do that again!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red Wine and a Colossal Mess

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It's been 30 (give or take a few) years since my last confession. The only sin I want to confess is my blogging addiction. Not that there aren't more. Many more."

I love to blog! I love that you read my blog and sometimes laugh at my lame jokes! (Read the genuinely funny, by the way, comments that many of YOU submitted for the last photo, if you haven't had the chance to do so.) So when an opportunity came up to take an 8 week journaling workshop at a local coffee shop, I signed up.

Lest you think I have an alcohol addiction, let me tell you that I often drink a glass of wine with dinner. As a fairly anal person, I've literally marked with a Sharpie marker where 5 oz comes on the glass so that this is the amount I drink. (But how can I be SO messy???? Or maybe that's what anal actually means. . . )

Tonight was the first meeting, and I was rushing to eat dinner and get there in time. And given that I was a little anxious about this workshop, I didn't mind having a glass of wine with dinner.

Yesterday it was a spilled cup of coffee, all over my printer paper. Today it was the glass of wine, horribly spilled directly into my awful-anyway printer (which already turns everything pink).

. . . but also spilled all over some very cherished scrapbooks with digital pages. And that's what the photo above is showing, with pages separated by Kleenex--pages that took hour upon hours to make. I don't think it's really salvageable. . . .but, what do you think? Do you think red wine would meet the standards of being acid-free for archival purposes?

*sigh* . . . and of course I was late for the journaling workshop. And I smelled like a brewery (although my sweet husband pointed out that I actually smelled like a winery, so who is it who's really the anal one, after all?)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What's in YOUR refrigerator?

You know how you can really like your job, but some days are long and hard?

And then you happen to open the building break-room refrigerator, and you just never know what you'll find.

And sometimes, it can be a very entertaining find indeed!

Perhaps more teeth really should be put in the "No Smoking" messages!

Captions, anyone?

PS: My husband suggested I head off to the local meat market, and purchase a hunk of tongue and. . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Stinking, Rotten North Dakota Weather. In JUNE!

You'd whine too, if in JUNE your clothes dryer broke, and you hung your clothes out to dry. And the HIGH temperature of stinking rotten North Dakota only got to 54 degrees! Did I mention in JUNE!!!! And it seems like it's going to be our "perma-weather" for the next week or two.

It may LOOK beautiful out in my yard, in JUNE . . . with bleeding hearts. . . .

and Lupines. . . .

. . . and Lilacs. . . .

. . . luring us out there into the stinking, rotten, North Dakota weather, of only 54 degrees, in JUNE!

(I didn't whine much this past winter about the weather. But ENOUGH is ENOUGH!!!!!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

More of the "Fam"

Even the "little folk" were mesmerized by the photo slideshow that John (next photo, David's brother) and Maria (David's mom) put together for David's graduation.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mary Ann's Little Gang

Did you ever read the children's book, "When the Relatives Came"? I loved reading this book to my kids when they were little. It showed a picture of a car piled high with people and luggage flying everywhere, crossing the country, to go visit the relatives. For years,Doug and I used to take our children off to Chicago at Christmas, and stay with Mary Ann and Bill.

And then we started getting stuck in snowstorms, my kids grew up and couldn't be torn away from their peer groups/school/work, and we stopped visiting. The book showed a visit that seemed like an "invasion", generating chaos and exhaustion, but cherished. Mary Ann and Bill always made us feel cherished. . . and Mary Ann would promptly mail back to Grand Forks all the stuff that my kids would forget and leave at their house.

Now, Doug and I can visit them, without kids, and are discovering the delights of playing with little kids that aren't your own. Here's Andy demonstrating self-protection while sliding down the steps.

And here's Joy, turning into an incredibly gorgeous little beauty.

My sweet, sweet sister. (Sorry, Mary Ann, about the flash going off in your face.)

And this is Bill, who has mastered photo-bombing with aplomb!

And as an aside. I can't believe I finally figured this out! I've been grousing about how much better my photos look in Bridge, than when I post them. Finally, I realized that something I read in a book about CS3 is just not the truth! The book said that CS3 automatically converted to sRGB in the save for web process. IT DOES NOT!!! So at least one of my miseries re: color angst has been solved! Today's photos are the first in months and months that are correctly in sRGB instead of RGB.