Why A Camera is “Very” Personal Property…

Yesterday was an exceedingly *bad, ugly, miserable* day at our house. There was no apparent reason, it was just one of those days when nothing gets done, and what little we tried  to do, ended up nothing more than a magnificent mess. Even dinner was a loss…

Enter today. Clean slate. Brand spanking new. Fresh start!

We went outside and cleaned the pool and got it ready for winterization. I have been wanting to get this done for days now, so I am relieved it is nearly completely accomplished now.  One goal down!

I talked to Mark and after last’s night’s dinner fiasco, we decided to grab some Chinese for dinner. We worked to try to finish before 3 so we could get a lunch special.  As the time was getting shorter and shorter,  I went upstairs to change my clothes and EWWWWW! Mr. Angus decided that since no one was around to take him outside to relieve himself, he would do so at the top of the stairs! I got the cleaning supplies and told Mark he had better just pick up the Chinese and bring it home.

After he left, I finished cleaning the mess, then remembered all of the bees that were busily gathering pollen while we were working on the pool! I thought that perhaps I would use the old Olympus camera and get some nice micro shots! Last year, I had captured some beauties!

I took the camera and found a spot where the bees were still occupied. I was so happy. For a short time.  I noticed the “low battery’ lamp flashing at me.  Nuts! I took a few more pictures, thinking I would just use the camera until it died, as I do have an AC power cord for it as well.

So, here are some of my lovely results.

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Yes, the sky was intensely blue today. But, why are the TREES blue as well?

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Huh? The leaves on the plants are blue?

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And the aster is blue?

Harrumph! Mark asked if he could use the camera several days ago. We have been doing some work  photographing small objects and Mark was trying out using a light box.  That bugger went and messed with the white balance settings on the Olympus and forgot to set them back!!!

As soon as Mark and Ben are back, I am going to eat my Chinese, then GO TO BED! At least there, I can HIDE from any further MESSES!!!!!!

And, remember, TOMORROW is a new day!   (yeah, right…..)

Photo Hunters…Paper

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 I posted a couple of pictures of this last month on my blog.

My “neighbors” are not only crafters of *paper*, but they are messing with our cable connection!

Paper Wasp nest…

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 HA! After visiting Mousey’s paper entry, she reminded me of a really COOL “paper” product a friend of mine in Utah made! Yes, she used her embroidery machine to make this lovely SCOTTIE on a roll of TP! (and don’t even THINK about using THIS roll if you ever come to MY house!!!!)

So, I am adding one more cool paper product!!!

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In-*spired*

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While we were passing through Victor the other night, I asked Mark to stop so I could photograph this church steeple. The way the setting sunlight was playing upon it was so nice, I just wanted to get a picture.

Mark obligingly pulled over.

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I thought this was especially profound as my “Blog-friend”, Honest Man, in Scotland recently posted a picture of a church spire with scaffolding closing in around it, precariously at the top!

I assured Honest Man that here in our neck of the woods, we have no “grand” churches with spires that are exceedingly tall; but this church and spire are more typical of here.

The kids looked at my pictures and said they remembered when that particular spire was being painted a couple of years ago. And, matter of fact, so did I!

So, I delved into the oldie files in the main computer and lookee what I found!

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Here is spire-painting 101, US style!

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Life Through the Lens, and a Few Pictures

Anyone who reads here at all knows that I am one who loves and longs to wander.  There is just so much to see in our big world, and I feel as though I want to see as much wonderful  *stuff* as can be packed into a lifetime!

Since I bought the new camera (Nikon D-80), life has taken a whole new turn. Instead of just “seeing” life, it seems I am now “viewing” life with a more critical eye, as though looking at it through the camera lens!  I am not sure that this is good or bad, it is just a whole new life perspective!

I don’t really remember a time in my life that I wasn’t wanting to take pictures. As a kid, I remember I first used my parents’ Kodak little “boxlike” camera. I cannot remember what model it was, but I think it took 120 film.

My next camera was a Christmas gift from my parents….it was another Kodak; this time it was a 126 film model.  After that camera, I bought a Yashica 35 mm camera while visiting my brother and his wife in Alaska.  I had a ball taking pictures of  all the pretty landscape while I was there with them for a month.

There were even more cameras in my life since then (I think 5) and even though I enjoyed taking pictures, I never really took it seriously, as life  (and kids!) seemed much more important!

Now, I am at a time in my life where I have a bit more of an urgency to relax and take a little more time to do things that I find relaxing.  I wouldn’t say I am being “selfish”.  I am just trying to wind down a bit when days get so hectic, I feel like I am about to explode!!!

I joined in the fun at Wordless Wednesday just to have a little fun with taking pictures. But,  I am amazed at some of the work people do!  And, when I realized that many who participate in WW also “do”  Photo Hunters, I joined in on that fun as well!  And, in joining these two groups,  I feel I am being honed and challenged to do even better work myself!  I remember the saying that if you place 10 different people in a room to witness an event, you will get 10 differing reports.  So much  truth when it comes to photography!

When I was in junior high school, at the tender age of 13, we were supposed to tell our guidance counselor what we intended to do with the rest of our lives. I had two things I wanted to do. One was to be a vet (not smart enough), and the other was a photographer (yes, that is what everyone wants to be!) . Apparently, my counselor was much more concerned with kids who came from families with much larger pocketbooks than myself, as I received no encouragement nor “guidance” from her!

One day last week, Mark asked me what I wanted to be as a child. Then, he asked me what I thought I was “wired” to be….Interesting questions. Particularly at my age! Well, I answered honestly that I loved writing and taking pictures! He smiled and said that is exactly what I am doing right here….

Yesterday, I had to take Michelle down to Naples, and on my way home, I took the “lower road”. The lower road is one that runs along Canandaigua Lake, beginning in a tiny little “place?” called Woodville. Woodville is a few houses, a restaurant, and a marina all located VERY near the lake!  I must interject that if people have a piece of land 20 feet from the road to the lake, they will build a home or cottage that is 18 feet deep! 

I stopped to see what this sign says, as I had seen it before, but never knew what it was about! This is a nasty picture, as the sun was behind it, but basically the sign says that the “wetland” behind it was created for wildlife so they could have a place to find food and protection. It was developed with funding provided by Ducks, Unlimited, and a duck-hunting club in Canandaigua in memory of a man who was concerned with this venture.

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Here is a view of one of the created channels thorugh the marshy wetland. The area was previously overgrown with thick grasses.  It isn’t unusual to see ducks and geese in this area.

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As I was about to pull out of the tiny parking area here,  guess what was growing in front of me? Yes, grapes grow in this area all by themselves! These are tiny little wild grapes!

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This is a shot of the road rising up out of Woodville. You can see that the steep slate and shale cliffs were cut out to make the road possible.  Sometimes I feel a bit nervous passing these areas, as there are trees hanging off the cliffs, along with rocks!  And, sometimes one can actually see little piles of rubble at their bases that have washed down!

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The right side of the road is not very far from the lake, and there are homes literally hanging off the sides of the hills surrounding the lake! Ah, lakefront property!

Me? As tempting as the lake might be, I am greatly content to live right here in the Bristolwood!

Travels from the Bristolwood South to North!

This morning, I had to make a trip south to Naples.  As I drove rather closely to a vineyard, I was absolutely compelled to hop out of the Explorer and take a picture of these grapes! They are hanging in great clusters like a huge pendant on a necklace! Oh, how tempted I was to grab a handful and inhale their sweetness…..but, of course, I did not!

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The vineyard made me think that perhaps I should take a shot of Widmer’s! Widmer’s is a winery located right in the heart of the little town of Naples. They manufacture wine under several different names, as indicated on the sign below.  As you can see, Naples is situated in a valley….the trees down there are turning colors ahead of ours in the higher elevations.

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It was, yet again, a simply gorgeous autumn day, complete with sunshine, crystal blue skies, and temperatures that were not too warm, but certainly not chilly, either.   It was the type of day that just makes me want to wander! (our temps are supposed to be climbing back towards the 80’s once again this week)

As I *wandered* back up the hill towards our house, I passed this lovely trio!

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And, still further up the hill, I passed the scenic overlook.  The lake was looking quite superb!

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Perhaps some of my wanderlust brushed off on Mark (or maybe the glorious golden sunlight passing through the windows!), as he said that perhaps we should visit the new Olive Garden Italian Restaurant  to our north!

As we pulled into the parking lot, we were reminded that just this past spring,  this whole area was torn apart as construction was just beginning!  You can see the stone wall all along the hill in this photo; the wall was built without  mortar. I know this, as I got out and examined it one afternoon when Mark said he thought it was a dry laid wall. I didn’t believe it until I saw it up close. And Mark was correct. There is some mortar at the very top…I guess to reinforce it so the top doesn’t tumble.

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As we walked in, I couldn’t believe that this restaurant is brand new…..the landscaping and building look as though they have been there for a long time.  This town is strict in their building ordinances.  The new buildings mostly have an almost “colonial” look to them. However, this restaurant is located next to a very old and historical “cobblestone” building that is quite old. That building was bought by Starbuck’s.   The most “telling” sign of the restaurant’s “newness” is the banner out front announcing, “Now Open”!

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The inside of the restaurant was as beautiful as the outside, and Italian music played! I felt a bit awkward taking a photo inside, as customers soon filled the place and legions of waiters and waitresses were everywhere! I did take this one picture, and I think you can get a taste of the “cozy” atmosphere”.

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We arrived at about 3:45, so we were in time for lunch. I chose the MOST delicious meal of all!  As we left the restaurant, we were all groaning from overeating! (never-ending salad and breadsticks ABOUND!)

We had a few errands to run while we were out, and by the time we arrived home, it was getting dark.  Days like this are just so special, one really hates to see them end!

Katya’s Cooking Class!

Wow, that sounds funny, as I am not too overly fond of cooking! However, I made my delicious idea and the kids have given it a resounding *thumbs up*! Oh, and we are “baking”, NOT cooking!

The recipe I use is one that a friend of mine found in Family Circle or Woman’s Day magazine many years ago. (gosh, that makes me sound *so* old!) The recipe was for bar cookies and was named “Split Seconds”. I suppose that name was given because of the rapid and easy preparation of these little treats!

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Here is the recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened                 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2/3 cup sugar                                    1 egg

2 cups flour                                        2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add egg and beat again. Add baking powder and flour beating until completely blended. Add vanilla and mix again.

Notice that I am using a Kitchen Aid mixer. In the event you are doing likewise, I just basically threw everything into the bowl and blended well! Also, I used a tablespoon of vanilla, as I am a TOTAL vanilla freak!!!

You will end up with a nice soft dough. Roll into a ball, then divide into 4 pieces.

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Now, if your mom deprived you of the fun of playing with Play Dough as a child, you can NOW pretend! Roll the dough into 4 “snakes”, each 13″ long.

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Wasn’t that FUN? Now, take your hand and GENTLY (read, lighty!) press the pinky side into the dough (center) to form a “trough” the length of each roll. Do NOT press too hard, or the trough will end up too deep and the cookies will fold in half and not look nice. (yes, I learned this the hard way!!!)

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Now you may use your filling. This can be any jam or jelly. The sky is the limit. If it can be baked, you could use it as a filling for these simple cookies.  I have used strawberry, raspberry, blackberry jam, as well as grape jelly! Apple would be delicious as well.  Be creative!

Because the pumpkin butter was so smooth, it flowed right into the trough quite nicely. And now, the cookies are ready to bake!

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The recipe originally called for a baking time of 15-20 minutes. Since every oven is different,  I usually bake things the shortest time period and then check. My maternal grandmother was a cook for a fraternity house at Penn State University. She taught me years ago that a cookie was done as soon as the bottom turns a golden brown color. That is the rule of thumb I still use!

After 15 miutes, mine were done. Cool on the cookie sheet, then cut each roll. I generally cut the rolls in half,  then each half into thirds, ending up with six cookies per roll.  These are what I ended up with!

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Enjoy! (and please let me know how YOU used this recipe!

Do You Like Pumpkin?

Okay, Carly…now that I have *YOUR* undivided attention!

Note to those reading: Carly is my eldest child. She was born the day after Thanksgiving and she has a total love of anything *pumpkin*. I guess it was all the pumpkin pie I ate the evening before her birth!

 Last week, she assured me, as a matter of fact,  that Starbuck’s had a pumpkin scone that was “to die for”.   After this report, I mentioned it to Mark as we had to go to Rochester one day.

As I was returning some things at the store, Mark called around to several Starbuck’s stores. He finally located the said scones. We drove a few miles out of our way to obtain these wonders….I came back to the truck, paper bag containing scones in hand. I opened the bag, took a bite, and well….perhaps it would have been more tasty with a cup of tea?  I wasn’t thrilled, thinking the little scone tasted more to me like spice cake.  I felt terrible telling Carly,  but honesty is the best policy, no?  That is OK…I have never been a fan of scones, anyway. Give me something sweeter and moister! Cookies, anyone?

Well, since the somewhat disappointing scone caper,  I have been thinking about how tasty pumpkin pie would be.

Last Thursday, when Michelle and I went shopping, I found a big box of Jalapeno Poppers in the frozen foods. Glory! I LOVE these things. Arby’s  had them and they sold them with a little cup of Loganberry Jam to dip them in.  The sweet, mixed with the heat of the Jalapeno pepper inside was….just yummy!

Michelle and I picked up the box of Poppers, then headed over to the jams and jellies aisle to see if there would be any Loganberry jelly there.  I guess we should have known better, as we weren’t at Wegman’s…..we went to Top’s.  We examined all  the standards……Smucker’s, Welch’s, Polaner’s. Nada. Zilch. Nothing that even sounded good. Grape jelly or strawberry jam just wouldn’t do it.

It was then that we spotted the “exotic” stand. Yes, at the end of the aisle, there was a big black metal stand, offering out-of-the-ordinary delicacies.  This is the type of display that provokes Mark to lovingly (or otherwise!) tease “Mrs. Bigbucks”! 

We looked deliberately through the fancy little bottles and jars,  trying to narrow down our options. Michelle spotted a jar of Lime Curd that she begged me for…Although no Loganberry was found, we settled on a jar of Black Cherry Preserves from Switzerland.  We decided that might taste good with the Poppers. It was shortly afterward that I spotted the intruiging little jar of Pumpkin Butter.

I suppose it was the beautiful jar with its label that first caught my eye….And, the fact that a little yellow sign hung under it,  announcing that this product was on sale.  I picked up a jar, looking at the beautiful presentation and the contents…..golly, it looked *just* like pumpkin pie!  I put the jar into the shopping cart, then a few seconds later, removed it.  As we turned to go, I grabbed it back once again,  and placed it in the cart.

The little jar sat on my counter since last Thursday evening. I kept looking at it, wondering if I was going to be sadly disappointed by my silly compulsive purchase.

This morning, I decided to have a cup of tea, and as I was making it, I grabbed the Pumpkin Butter, opened it, and dipped a spoon into it.  Oh MY!  I again poked the spoon into the jar, thinking perhaps it wasn’t quite as good as I had first thought.  I toasted a small piece of Italian bread I had bought from the Top’s store, and although the Pumpkin Butter was good on it, I think I have an idea for something even *better*!

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The most surprising element to this whole thing is that the Pumpkin Butter is from a place called Oxnard, California!  It isn’t even imported!

I am going to try out a recipe later and use some of this. Stay tuned…

Signs of the Season

I wanted to photograph the peaches I bought on Thursday from Wegman’s as I don’t think anyone would believe me if I told them they are the size of a softball. But, they are! Please be aware that the plate these peaches are sitting on is a big full size dinner plate! Oh, and the grapes are the now long gone Fredonia Grapes I bought at the small stand on Thursday. It seems Ben has an addiction that surpasses my own!

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I wandered outside late this afternoon with camera in hand, looking around to see what I might see.  Only one of our maple trees in the front yard is showing some real color. I am not sure why this one lonely tree has decided to prematurely slip into its autumn colors, but it sure was pretty against the sapphire blue sky!

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Although all the wild daisies have stopped blooming, the yellow daisies I transplanted into the ground from the hanging pot seem to be in “on display” mode! The flowers just keep coming and coming. I am hoping that these flowers will winter well, as they are just plain downright *happy* flowers! I just love their bright yellow faces!

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Throughout the day today, we had a few spritzes of rain. It was a changeable day, for sure.  One moment, the sky was that intense autumn blue, with puffy white clouds. Suddenly, the sky filled with a gray ominous presence, then buckets-full of rain would pour down.  And, as suddenly as the rain came, it was once again gone.  Our temperature never rose above the mid-40’s today.  It was 49 when I took the Scotties out this morning, but the thermometer slowly declined as the day progressed….certainly not the “norm”!  That said, I would say without a doubt, this is typical autumn weather. As soon as the leaves begin their short-lived display of color, our annual “monsoon” (tongue-in-cheek, you realize) season picks up, making sure that the spectacular show winds up as litter on the lawn beffore it is fully appreciated….

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When Mark and I decided to build a swingset for the kids, we wanted one that would last a long time.  We certainly didn’t want one that would nearly tumble over when the kids got rambunctious!  Mark built a super swingset that would last for years!  The sad part about this swing is that Mark had intended to add a playhouse, perhaps a slide, a tire swing, and maybe even some other components. He certainly never expected to suffer a spinal cord injury at age 38.

Although the swingset isn’t nearly what was intended, it certainly has served to be a source of enjoyment for the kids. When Mark built this structure, he got online and ordered sturdy swings made for school playgrounds!  We used to remove the swings over the winter, but the past couple of years, I left them up.  The humorous part regarding my negligence is that the kids would walk through the snow, up to the beloved swingset and propel themselves just as though it was a warm summer day! The only difference was attire!

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I caught Michelle enjoying the swing this afternoon. My kids are hale and hardy….it is so unusual to see Michelle dressed in a sweater, particularly with the hood up!

When Mark first proposed building this swingset to his dad, his dad was a bit discouraging, telling Mark that Mark and his sister rarely used their swings. Undaunted, Mark continued on with his grand plan!  Now his dad is gone and I sometimes wonder if he might be watching in the “great cloud of witnesses”, smiling down on his swinging grandchildren!