The Odd Mix

I have moved to Everything that was here is now over there as well. Come on over and join the fun.

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Location: Virginia, United States

Friday, April 28, 2006

SPF #4: It's All in How You Look at It

Brought to you by Kristine.

This weeks assignment was to take a picture of:

1. Something Big

2. Something Small

3. Half of Something

So. Here we go...

1. These tropical trees look big, right? They are actually lilly grass or something like it and are about 4 inches tall.

2. They shrank! Gabriella and Bissy helped me with these. They are not manipulations - it is all in how you look at it.

3. Well, I reached a bit here. Half purple, half white. Well, I liked it, anyway.

The One with All The Pictures


An Odd Mix of Artistic Subjects

Yesterday I was reading a post on BlogSmith where she placed a photo of a manhole cover and said that people think she is a bit crazy for taking pictures of manholes. Well, if thats the case, people must think I am bughouse nuts beacause I will take a picture of almost anything.

More often than not my subjects are conventional - my kids and wife, flowers, sunsets, mountains, and the like. But when I walk at lunchtime I always have my camera. Same when I am comuting and often when I am working around the farm. If I see an interesting form or pattern I take a shot (or six) and see what I get.

Looking back at my archive over the last year, I thought it would be fun to post some of my shots and see if you can guess the subjects (the answers are there in white - just highlight them).

Have fun! And I am always up for a good critique - so have at it.

EDIT: You might have to scroll down to the pictures until I can figure out how to unscrew my template. Sorry.

Metal Things

Safety Rail
Iron Gate
Base of a Flag Pole
Fire Stand Pipe
Shiny Things

Glass Awning
A Window
Union Station
Metro Center
Stone Things

Statue Nook
Coblestone Street
Um... an "A"
and an "O"
Inside Things

Plaster Ceiling
Tower Stairs
Vaulted Ceiling
Light Fixture
Outside Things

Rain Water
Drain Cleaner
Interstate 66
Natural Things

Locust Husk
Spider Webs
Dead Aspen
Even Produce

Ginger Root
Magnolia Pod

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Project Update

Well, in lieu of anything deep and profound, I offer you a project update and a new recipe!

In case you were wondering, BTW, this is what the outside of the house looks like. The landscaping needs some work but that will be fun.


Ick. Can I go back to bed now? I promise (quit looking at my fingers; they aren't crossed - really!) to post more later today - if I can get my brain to function.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Tink in Training

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
George Orwell
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig;Home again, home again, jiggety jig.To market, to market, to buy a fine hog;Home again, home again, joggety jog.
One of Annelise’s favorite things at bedtime is to curl up with me and have me tell her a story. And true to toddler form, it is the same story every night – the Three Little Piggies.

In the last few days, however, ‘Liese has been changing things up in the details. Sometimes the villain is the Big, Bad Mushroom. Sometimes she instructs me to replace one of the characters with “Sweets-o” which is what she calls herself.

A few nights ago the story was “The Two Little Pigs and Sweets-o”. And it went something like this…

“Once upon a time there were two little pigs and Sweets-o. And they went out to build their homes. The first pig built his house out of straw, the second out of sticks. And Sweets-o built her house out of bricks…”

OK. You know how it goes. “Let me in…”; “Not by the hair on my chinney-chin-chin”; Huffing and Puffing; catastrophic pig house failure; squealing and running; repeat with next building material.

All was going as expected until…

Daddy: And Sweets-o said, “Not by the hair on my chinney…”
Sweets: No, Daddy!
Sweets: Sweets-o says, “OK, Wolf!”
Daddy: She opens the door?
Sweets: Uh-Huh. [I could hear the grin in her voice]

Daddy: But he’ll eat the piggies!
Sweets: I not like piggies.

Daddy: [LMAO] OK. So Sweets-o says, “OK, Wolf!” And they shared a nice pork dinner.
Sweets: Don’t forget sing the piggy song!
Daddy: [still LMAO… and singing] “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf…”

Tink, I want to know how you did this to my daughter.

How I Freaked Out Great Falls

Fair Warning: This story is funny, but largely about turning a wild animal into food. If you object to the consumption of meat or like to believe it grows in little shrink-wrapped packages, you might want to stop now. I won’t mind.
It is always allowable to ask for artichoke jelly with your boiled venison; however there are houses where this is not supplied.
– Lewis Carroll, Hints for Etiquette: Or, Dining Out Made Easy
Way back when, I lived in a moderately upscale neighborhood in the definitely upscale area of Great Falls, Virginia. Some of our neighbors were nice enough, but many were, shall we say, very impressed with themselves. That would have been easy enough to ignore except there was a pipestem next to our house, placing one of the most self absorbed of the lot directly behind us – we will call them The Snooties. They complained to the HOA because they felt we had too many outdoor toys. They complained to the HOA about a brush pile on community property behind us (not our brush). But one day in May, I achieved the all time complaint – they tried to get me arrested! Heeee!

Early that afternoon I was driving with my family through a nearby town in a Buick sedan. In case you have never tried it, two parents and three kids in car seats neatly fill a Buick sedan. Traffic was heavy and moving fast when Bambi’s mom jumped out right behind us. She failed to avoid the car in the first lane which sent her flying over the second lane to land twitching in the median.

I pulled a U-turn and parked on the median. The poor thing was twitching and gasping while it tried to keep moving. I determined later that she had broken three legs and her back. So right there in the median, as DC suburban traffic whipped by on either side, I put her out of her misery. Now here is where the freaking out begins. The only thing I had with which to give her the mercy was a hatchet. Several cars nearly wrecked as I dispatched the poor critter.

Now, understand – I am a carnivore; my wife is a carnivore; and we are raising a little clan of carnivores. I am also a thrifty soul (I think it is the Scot in me) and did not like the idea of all that prime, suburban garden fed carnivore palaver going to waste. So when the local sheriff deputy showed up I asked if I could take it home. Being grateful to me for sparing him one of his bullets (and all the associated paperwork) he agreed. And further freaking ensued.

I mentioned that the Buick was fully filled with family members? So I tied the thing onto the trunk with a length of rope. And not wanting to have quite the mess at home I decided to let it, uh… shall we say, drain along the way. So out came the Swiss army knife. And commenced the draining. There were many more near wrecks between that median and our Great Falls home that afternoon. As I pulled into the neighborhood, we actually had a lady scream at the sight of us.

When we got home, I had to hang it to field dress and skin the carcass. I hung it in the most discreet spot I had – our back deck. It was there just long enough for me to clean and skin it (I took it inside to butcher it). No one could see it there – no one, that is, except the Snooties.

Ms. Snooty went whipping up the pipestem in her little Cabriolet just as I was pulling the skin off. She smoked her tires she stopped so fast. When she shrilled, “What is THAT!”, I could not contain my basically redneck self.

“Roadkill”, I replied with a big grin. She completely lost all composure.

Not 15 minutes later there was a county police cruiser in front of their house and the officer was taking statements with regard to whether I had murdered the victim outside of the appointed season. When the officer found out the death had taken place in another jurisdiction, she told the Snooties there was no crime – and came over to our house for a nice little chat.

Now, let it be understood. I did nothing that day for the shock value. In fact I did all I could under the circumstances to minimize it. Mostly my actions were driven by a desire to minimize suffering and waste. OK – and a taste for venison bar-b-que. What’s the point? I dunno; I don’t suppose there is one. I guess I just thought it was funny how I freaked out Great Falls.


Brought to you by Kristine.

This weeks assignment was to take a picture of something that begins with each of your initials. Sounds easy - NOT! Much harder than I thought it would be.

I went to the Mall for lunch (Sorry ladies - the National Mall, not a shopping mall) and decided to take pictures of the activities the people there were engaging in and see what I got. So here we are:

1. Jogging

2. Riding

3. Touring

Did you play?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Let's Talk...

I have noticed a trend. Or maybe it is more of a twitch. Several of the posts I have read in the last few days have been about difficulty in posting. Not being able to find the right words. Of feeling like the stories aren’t worthy of posting. That there is no value in the thoughts and feelings of the author. That perhaps they should take a break or even quit blogging. It makes me sad in a very personal way.

There is a huge gap in my blog - huge like months. During those months I would think of so many things to tell, but could never seem to force the words out of my head and into my blog. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a couple of years now. Sometimes it seems impossible to start a task – even one I am looking forward to – for fear of having things go wrong. For fear of not finishing. For fear of failing. Just for fear of fear.

Looking back, I wish I had just posted. Quick notes. Just a picture. Even a single word. A few of those thoughts are in my scattered notes. Some I will remember when I look at my pictures. A few still rattle around in my head. Many are lost. Thoughts I felt were worth sharing; stories I found funny or touching; pithy sayings and quotes; valuable moments of life, captured in image and word. Gone like loose pages in the wind. I am sure I will find one from time to time, stuck in the tall weeds at the edges of thought, yellowed and curled from weather and time. I will press out the wrinkles – maybe copy them onto fresh paper. But even as I do I will think of the pages lost for good.

I have (mostly) learned now that my communications with my friends (and friends we are - even if we've never met) need not always be an inspired essay. But it is still hard sometimes. I wonder, “Is this going to be good enough? Can I make someone smile? Will someone relate to what I write? Could someone learn from my mistakes?” All these things are important to me. I write for me, but I write for you, too. I don’t speak in conversation because I like to hear myself talk – I speak because I desire to give value to my listeners.

So now begins the part of this post where I presume to understand your thoughts – or at least assume that you come to this imaginary land of blogs with the same sense of community as I. The thing I try to remember is that my listeners – my readers – are my friends. They don’t come to read for literature’s sake; they come to communicate – to be part of a community. I presume that you value my thoughts. I presume that you want to have discussions of substance with me. I presume that you wish to understand me better; to empathize with my troubles; to share my joys; to be friends. I must so presume or I am like the lady in the fountain – talking into the wind while others pass by. I do not believe that I am, for I come to your blogs for the reasons I presume you come to mine.

So, my friends learn from me. As Nike said, “Just do it.” Don’t quit; for I wouldn’t loose a friend. Don’t hold back; for I would know you better. Don’t hide your feelings; for I would laugh with you, cry with you, affirm you, encourage you, and support you as best I can. Don’t go away or shut me out; for my friends are important to me – old and new.
“Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses, – for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it, – not in a set way and ostentatiously, though, but incidentally and without premeditation.”
– Herman Melville
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax –
Of cabbages – and kings –
And why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.”
– Lewis Carroll
Let’s talk, my friends…

Note: While I am content with this post as it stands, in rereading it I recognized that it could be misunderstood. It is intended as an expression of the value I place on our little community and each of you whom I have come to know as friends. It is intended as an honest description of my struggles with depression and anxiety as they pertain to blogging. And it is intended as an encouragement to my friends who might be engaged in similar struggles.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hiiigh Speeeeed!

At long last, I am on the High Bandwidth Freeway – sort of.  On Monday we finally got our high speed internet hooked up. But it made no sense to hook it up in this house, as we start moving to the new house in less than two weeks. So right now, less than 200 yards from where I sit, there is a Megabit speed, wireless router that would love to feed me the data I crave. It’s like the old song, “Anticipay-ation – is makin’ me late. Is keeping me waiting.”

Oh, well.  At least I know it’s there if I need it, and it will be there all the time after we move.

Why so slow to join the 21st century, you ask? Well, the short answer is that we live in the sticks. No cable service. No FiOS. No DSL. I could have gotten satellite internet service but A) it is very expensive to set up and B) the high latency of satellite makes me crazy.

Then came RoadStar Internet. These clever people have done for western Loudoun county what many cities are trying to achieve – area wide WiFi broadband coverage.  They put line of site towers on the ridgelines. They put repeaters in houses in the valleys. The antennae look like a medium pizza box on a stick.

The setup cost is less than half that of satellite. And there is very low latency – like 6 milliseconds low. And I am a happy man! Almost.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lonnng Weekend

This was a long weekend, in more than one sense of the word. A good weekend, all in all. Just very long.

So I supose it is fitting that this post be long, too! Well, not long in words, but long in space because try as I might, I just couldn't exclude any of these pictures - sorry.

Easter Outfits at Church

Bissy sprinting for the prize

'Liese working on a jellybean


Going fast!

Looking for the last few eggs

Who says rabbits can't fly?

I got to try using a friends Nikon D70 for the egg hunt. I have serious lens envy and the lack of shutter delay was very nice, but I still like the Canon processor better. I think I will hold out for the D20, or at least the Rebel XT.

In addition to celebrating Easter and the normal demands of the farm, we also started work on the basement in the "new" house. Yep, we start moving across the driveway in two weeks, and I want to have as much of the basement finished as I can before we move in.

I have started a new blog to chronicle this rather monumental effort.