Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat? Horror in the Target Aisle

A woman tried to save my life today in the Target checkout line! There I was, minding my own business about to buy this scary menace:

. . . and the woman behind me threw all caution to the wind, and tackled me, throwing me to the floor, and begging me, "Don't do it! You're too young to die!"

Or something like that. . . .

Actually, more like this: She told me that she'd just read that baby carrots are really not sweet, little, innocent, healthy carrots, but these "babies" are really nasty deformed carrots, rescued from the garbage heap, and disquised as cutie to lure you to your death. They're soaked in chlorine, and if you leave them in the refrigerator for a few days, they'll develop a "white bloom" on them as the chlorine surfaces, unmasking their dastardly plot to send you to an early grave.

Needless to say, I left them in the store and fled for my life!

Well, at home, I have a few left in the refrigerator, dragged them out to photograph for you to warn my cherished blog reader friends, and then decided to check out the details with

Well. . . . . . .

. . . . like many things on the internet, the Lurking Dangerous is not always to0 factual.

Go ahead and eat your baby carrots! It turns out that they are now carrots that have been specially bred to contain more sugar, and are cut down to make them little. They ARE soaked in chlorine, and then rinsed, but this is apparently a pretty standard antimicrobial processing of food. The "white bloom" is just the result of the additional cut surface. Snopes states that if you bring a carrot in from the yard, cut it so that it has more cut surfaces and put it in the refrigerator, you'll get the same outcome.

Hmmmmm. . . . . so these baby carrots are looking more "treat" than "trick" to me now, and I say, go ahead and eat them! Here's the snopes link if you're interested.

By the way, I'm so happy that I now have internet again and can post again! I was going through blogging withdrawal there for a few days!

Monday, October 25, 2010

No, Really, You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

So, Doug thought he'd introduce Brian to the fine art of shooting his pellet gun.

Brian asked, is there much of a recoil?

No, not much.

But he STILL should have warned him to not put it right up to his head!

(And, yes, there was blood! But from his forehead, not eye, thank God!)

eta: Poor Brian. Really attentive parents, right? Doug laughs, and I grab my camera. (I think Doug was a little nervous; but I just have to seize the moment for photographic purposes.)

eta some more: They were NOT shooting squirrels; just those vicious cardboard boxes with circles painted on them, that might attack your house when you're not watching. Must.Defend.The. Homestead.

eta one more thing: You would not believe how long it took me to figure out what "eta" stood for when I first started blogging on POTD! Google really is my friend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dragon Chalice from Amsterdam

Brian had Doug and I give Dianna the birthday present he got for her in Amersterdam. He couldn't give it to her himself, because he's already gone off to his next internship in San Francisco.

Here are 3 views of the same chalice.

I wish I had gotten a sharper focus, and realized that I was much too close for the f/2.8 aperture to get good detail. I would have been better off cranking up the ISO to more than 320 and going with at least a 4.0 or 5.6 aperture, and backing up a bit. . . maybe adding a touch of flash, even if I used exposure compensation to reduce the flash.

Dianna was totally blissed out by the gift, pronouncing it as the "best birthday present I ever got!" Good job, Brian!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Minneapolis at Night from the Guthrie

These are some views outside of the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Early in October, Doug and I went to Minneapolis to help with that totally fun middle-aged parental past-time known as "helping young adults move." You know, the kind of pleasure that involves dragging dressers and TVs and little refrigerators up narrow stairwells to third floors of old houses. That joy- - and all the while trying to repress any thoughts of "what goes up, must come down." My role is just to cringe and sweat and wring my hands (and paint); Doug's role is to do the actual heavy-lifting.

I'd always wanted to go to the Guthrie, so it was a real treat when Dianna suggested we go see The Master Butchers Singing Club (by Louise Erdrich). It's excellent! It's based on a book by the same name by Erdrich, which is a fantastic book, as are all her novels.

During the intermission, I went out on the balcony and got to take these shots of the night skyline. A tripod would have been wonderful, but I hand-held these. I actually used Brian's camera, the Nikon D5000 and my 50 mm 1.4 lens at f/1.6.

Which brings you to my dilemna.(no, google dictionary; I will not change the "n" in dilemna, to an "m". I've done the research; I know there's a difference of opinion, and I'd miss the "n" too much.)

My dilemna is that Brian never, ever uses this camera, so I bought it from him. Of course, I love my Nikon D300s much, much more. But next year I'm going on a trip to Mexico, and like all good little obsessionals, time is awasting and I have to start my obsessing now. Never mind what I'll wear, I have to figure out camera gear. And I don't want to bring my D300s with me.

So I started researching p&s. Pshaw! I scoff at them! (Actually, the idea of being stuck with a camera that does not shoot RAW would literally ruin the trip for me. I am a jpeg snob! So throw me in a 12-step program, but I MUST SHOOT RAW!)

There's a new breed of p&s, including the new Nikon Coolpix P7000. It really doesn't sound like a good option, especially given the reported 4 second delay in writing the image to the memory card for RAW, but it does weigh only 10.9 oz. One option is I sell the D5000 and buy a Coolpix.

The other possibility is to take a Tamron lens, and the Nikon D5000 (still lots of weight, but less than the D300s, and I protect "my precious") and this could be the "lighter" travel camera.

What would you do?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Summer Love Tour 2010

Doug and I had such a treat this past September! We got to go to Garrison Keillor's Summer Love Tour in Fargo, ND, one night after work. Garrsion Keillor is the author/star of Prairie Home Companion, a Minnesota Phenomena broadcast over National Public Radio.

Fargo is 70 miles south of Grand Forks, so this was a challenging trek, after work, and then home again with work the next morning.

But that was nothing.

What was something was our "surprise" to realize that the venue was outside. Outside CAN be good. But not across from a river, at night fall, in September. Outside meant organized massings of vampire-wannabe bloodsuckers known as mosquitoes that conducted their intense campaigns against us (and me in particular.)

Until the temperature dropped. I mean, it's North Dakota! And even in this unusual fall, it meant temperatures of between 40 and 50 degrees . That's why I bought the t-shirt above to add under my very light, not-even-long-sleeved jacket, above.

And then Garrison came out. . .. . . I love his shoes!

And soon after his appearance, he rattled the audience by appearing to take a stroll. . . . away. . . fleeing from us. . . . .

But then came back to the stage, in time to take cover from the absolute downpour that drenched us to to our very . . . undies. We're North Dakotans. We're like Minnesotans, (except with all that Minnesota flamboyance sucked out of our Life Force) with huge heapings of Minnesota Nice. . . which means you'd never, ever, think about leaving the audience before the performance is over. Never mind the mosquitoes, and cold, and wind, and deluge. . . we're f.i.n.e.

And this little segment alone was worth it! I don't know if you've ever heard Prairie Home Companion, but on the radio, it's tame compared to what happens live! On the radio, you hear sound effects, but live, you see this Guy (on the left) who takes the cue from Garrison (right) and creates the sound-effects fitting the moment, adding a bit of pantomine and body language. And his version, along with Garrison Keillor, of impregnation and childbirth, was the funniest depiction I've ever seen!

Made it worth my intense anxiety about my D300s (almost) in the downpour. I wrapped it in a neoprene sleeve that Scott gave me for my birthday, wrapped all this in plastic bags, closed it up in the middle of my purse, and tucked it under my chair. Oh, how I lusted for a rain poncho or umbrella!

Later, I heard Garrison Keillor on the radio described this particular performance as his all-time favorite performance. I guess he actually appreciated all us middle-aged lemmings sitting there spell-bound in our seats, without enough sense to come in from the monsoon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Like My Housekeeping?

"If you're messy and you know it,
Then you really ought to show it. . .
If you're messy and you know it,
Clap your hands!"

Actually, there's really a reason for all this. . . My old (maybe 40 years) cabinets, painted over and over, kitchen cabinets are going to be replaced! Good-bye sawdust, every time I pull out a kitchen drawer!

. . . but I really am messy, and I embrace my Inner Messiness!

Run! Martha! Run!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Galveston Homes and a Book Review (The Woman in White)

As if it wasn't enough to for us to take in, searching out the tree sculptures in Galveston, every corner, every block, was filled with beautiful, stately, homes like these:

Imagine how much work and dedication it must have taken to restore these home after Hurricane Ike!

I just finished reading a book - - a literal TOME of a book, on my nook: The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. This massive adventure is 590 pages on the nook, but was actually a very fast read.

This classic, written in 1860, intimidated me when I first picked it up for my Classics book club. Besides being huge, I worried that the language of the 1800s would drown me in some kind of twilight between wakefulness and sleep.

But it was more of a modern-day, page-turner, OMG! What's-going- to- happen -next -kind -of -novel! Wilkie Collins wrote what came to be known as a "sensation" novel, printed in serial installments in newspapers, and eagerly awaited by the non-TV-viewing public. Many of the early reviewers trashed the novel when it first came out, but this book has surfaced again, over and over, in various forms, across the decades, as plays, silent movies, TV miniseries, and movies.

The novel presents a mystery that must be solved, involving star-crossed lovers, evil husbands, fainting women, mice treated like children, dwarfs and ghosts, a peculiar uncle, secret organizations, plots, identity theft, insane asylums and of course, murder!

As long as this book is, it's a satisfying, engrossing read. I stayed up way too long reading this, and stole moments away from the rest of my life to read it here and there, (even while drying my hair at one point.) (not my best hair day, I might add.)

(One caveat; the language of the 1800s became almost infectious, and I foolishly wrote a letter to the IRS emulating the style of the time. If I end up in tax jail, I hope to take a nice stash of Wilkie Collins' books along with me.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Big Dogs in Galveston

A few more wood sculptures in Galveston. . . . .

This dog sculpture is huge. . . .

. . . . and these two photos probably give you more of a sense of the scale of this puppy. . . .

Captions, anyone?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Run! It's the Pumpkin Stampede!

What is it that's so photogenic about pumpkins? I mean, it's not like they're cute little babies or puppies or anything. . . .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall, The Most Drama Queen Season of the Them All!

I have more photos of Galveston, TX, but Fall color has been demanding attention in no uncertain terms.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Galveston & Talking Tom(s)

There's a little museum in Galveston that just fascinated me. It featured a small video on the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that inundated the island. Understandably, there was no Weather Channel at that time, with live-action footage documenting the tragedy. But what this little city has done is piece together a video of photos, with a narration of old letters that were written by survivors of the storm.

We had to wait a little while to get into the museum, and to get out of the heat, we dunked into this little bar for a drink:

Now, this next photo may be of interest to all you smart phone addicts (you know who you are!) We took a dolphin tour by ship just off the Galveston coast, and one would think that Doug and my brother, Robert, would be mesmerized by the dolphins. . . .

. . . but being the intense multi-taskers that they are, they managed to tear themselves away from enjoying the boat ride to talk into their smart phones to this very essential phone ap: Talking Tom.

Talking Tom is an animated cat! You talk into the phone, your voice is recorded, and played back to you in the voice of Talking Tom, a high-pitched, squeaky, little feline.

Ummmmm, these two highly intelligent, very accomplished, men spent HOURS doing this!

I stand in awe. (Or I stand aghast. Something like that.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tree Sculptures: Part 3

While we were admiring this sculpture of 3 angels in Galveston, the home owner came out. We started talking about how these 3 angels represent her grandchildren. I told her how much I admired how the city responded to the devastation of Hurricane Ike and wished that our city in ND had found something similar after being destroyed by a flood.

She got a funny look on her face and asked, "what city?"

"Oh, you've probably never been there."

"What city?"

"Grand Forks, ND."

"I've been there!"

Can you say that?

It turns out that her "three angels", the inspiration for the sculpture, live in Minot, ND. And a grandma's gotta go where a grandma's gotta go!

This sculpture is not actually on the tour yet, but is in process. But we spotted it!

This detail in the owl amazes me! Click on it twice to see it larger. Remember, this is done with a chain saw!

And if you're not busy drinking in the sculptures, just look around at the exotic, tropical plant life!

Galveston Tree Sculptures Part 2

Laugh at me if you must (Ok, but don't. Because if you do, I'll probably cry buckets. And then I'll have to get the ol' ShamWow! out to sop it all up, and I'm just too tired for all that tonight) but I didn't know that Galveston was an island. As we approached it, for whatever reason, my brother's radar tuned in and he said to me, "You know Galveston is an island, right?"

Uhhhhh, no! I've never been able to overcome the pathetic excuse of geography classes my small parochial school provided in the 50s. In Texas, you cross a very long bridge to get to Galveston. But what a wonderful place! Our time was way too short there! Here are more of the Galveston tree sculptures:

And if you look closely in the background of the Tin Woodman, you might notice Doug doing a special little dance. To ward off more rains, maybe????

But here, you can probably guess why Doug was doing that little jig.

Poor Doug.