Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Morning Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend was a bit busy, but not too bad. Had an afternoon Baseball game on Saturday, and the Baseball pictures and Hit-a-thon on Sunday afternoon. I did manage to do all of the laundry and really clean the house which makes me feel much better this morning. I also planned a birthday dinner for my mom, here at my house. And I grilled a tri tip. Yes me. The vegetarian. It was medium rare and juicy too. See what watching the food network can do? I also made potato salad, grilled asparagus (thanks to sis for bringing and marinating), my famous guacamole and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I'm beat, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to watch the final two episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race. Holy crap, now that's some good TV! I swear I need to go to a good drag show and soon! Now, who will come with me? Do I hear crickets? Oh, come on now!

Very well. On to a new subject. I have an infection on my nose. It started as a zit, then grew to a purple bulb, spawning four more zits, and now? now it has taken over half my face. OK, not half, but I do have a fairly sizable nose, and it's taken over a good portion of the lower left side of that. I did the neosporin and a band aid for today because I really didn't want to get the look from people at the kids school. As it was, they all asked what was up with the band aid. Except for my friend and esthetician who said if it was worse than when she saw me on Saturday, then I needed to go to a Dr. I made the appointment for Tuesday morning, and I've no doubt it will be painful as all hell. And if Lou is reading this, keep breathing, it absolutely does NOT look like your nose did. And I will call you and let you know what the Doc has to say about it. Or send an IM. Anywhooooo, Of course being the freckly mess I am, I did have the stray thought about skin cancer, but quickly banished the thought, deep sixed it, and said a few affirmations for my continued good health. I mean, who wants a snap on nose ala Michael Jackson or Stevie Nicks? And who on earth would be able to blend the freckles to match on a prosthesis? I'd have to let the kids have a go with sharpies!

Oh, and BTW - the annual mammogram came back clear (yeah me!) with a mom and 2 aunts who have survived, my chances are genetically what they are. I'd like to think that the veg thing, and the seeming lack of unhealthy vices will keep me free from the dreaded disease. Sure I could lose weight and exercise more, and so I continue to battle my self control and my desires.

Now I have the fur butt cat bitching at me to go to bed, and so I go!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunday Stills - Landscapes

Today's Sunday Stills Challenge is about Landscapes. I love this topic, as I almost always prefer this to shooting anything else. I shot a couple in my yard, but I'm going to use one from the archives because I appreciate the vastness of open spaces.
What I noticed when looking for Landscape photos, is that I actually shoot more Seascapes:
And Skyscapes:
Happy Sunday all!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Town Shoot Out - Graveyards

Well, this week I made it, on time even. Earlier today I found out that one of the bloggers I follow has cancer, and it bums me out. I know he'll be ok and his path will be his, but still I wish there was more I could do. He is also a participant in the My Town Shoot Out Challenge, so send your good vibes his way!
This week is all about our home town graveyards. There is only one in Dublin, and it is behind Old St. Raymond's Church (which was a part of the Churches a few weeks ago). I have photographed many cemeteries, and I find them to be generally very peaceful places. They can sometimes be kind of spooky, and sometimes very sad but overall, I find them a great place to wander around.

Here is the sign at the official entrance:

The Historical Marker for the cemetery:

A shot of the back of St. Raymond's:

Some picnic tables along the creek, with a view of the graves:

One of the older and repaired headstones:

I think this is a lovely plot with the flagstone walkway and bench in the shade of a tree:

There are quite a few very large, very old trees that provide a mostly shady environment:

I found the difference in ground cover selection to be interesting:

I am fascinated by this iron cross and have taken several photos of it. In fact, every time I am here, I take a shot of it.

The founding families each have these carved wooden signs at their family plots. The signs detail the family origin and involvement in Dublin's history. I thought a slideshow would be a good way to show them to you:

As the majority of the founders were of Irish origin, I had this song going through my head the whole time:

I also wanted to include a few shots that were published in a book that included photos of National Cemeteries, and essays from famous Americans. I took these photos of Golden Gate National Cemetery and San Francisco National Cemetery. The profits from the book go toward scholarships for children of Veterans injured and killed in battle.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tableau Tuesday #2 and Weekend Wrap Up

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

This was another busy weekend. Opening day for little league was Saturday, with the ceremony at 11:45, and the Youngest's first game at 3:30. I had an appointment to get my lip waxed at 10:00, and shot photos for about an hour. Between opening ceremony and the game I went grocery shopping, while The Dude took The Boys to lunch. The first game of the season found the Youngest on the bench. They only played one inning before torrential downpour and hail caused the game to be called. We also had dinner with friends, and I felt like I was intruding on their family dinner. I still feel bad, as I had not realized that we would be the only ones not a part of their family. It was a dinner to welcome their oldest son back on Spring break from the Naval Academy. During appetizers, The Dude and I had a fight, which had been building up for about a week. I said something horribly disrespectful, and he flew off the handle. We didn't talk the rest of the night.

Sunday, I finished the laundry, and did NOTHING else. I needed some down time. Oh, and by nothing I mean, I cleaned the kitchen and dicked around on the Internet, and watched "Hanna Montana" and "The Suite Life On Deck", and took the boys out scooter riding. But I normally would have done all of that, vacuumed, mopped, cleaned the bathrooms, the playroom/office and the boys room, and done some work on the yard, so really it was far more relaxing than normal.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Stills - Lines

Today's Sunday Stills Challenge is Lines. I had a couple of ideas early on in the week, and I think I'll use them, along with a last minute idea that came to me this morning.
The first two images were taken at the pole farm, where I learned how to climb a telephone pole.
This image is a fence and shadow in my neighborhood.
This image is a line of Irish dancers performing at a fundraiser. They are from McBride's School of Irish Dance, and I've seen many of their performances.

This final image is from Sacred Ground: America's Military Cemeteries. It's one of my shots that did not make it into the book.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Town Shoot Out - Update!

I live in Dublin. This is a bedroom community with no defined downtown, so there is a boatload of homes to select from. There are the bungalows, and the McMansions, and none are all that interesting. I could not get even remotely excited about shooting a bunch of track homes, and 2 million dollar houses that are packed on top of one another. I don't even think we have so much as a trailer park! The oldest houses are 40 years or so, and all seem to look alike. I think I should have just gotten out and driven around, but I seriously was running the kids all over all week! hmmm - looking forward to next week and the graveyards, but I'm a bit sick in the head that way!


This image is of a typical bungalow near my home, and similar to my home in floor plan. I like this house because it sits across the street from the High School, and is a really bright shade of blue, while the surrounding homes are far more subtle.

This home is another bungalow in another area of town - on a bit of a hill and in a bit of a higher price range.This is a view from the higher priced houses on my end of town, and below it, one of the homes in that neighborhood. My town stretches out to the right of what you can see below.
This is one of the apartment complexes in my town. I lived here in the early 90's in a one bedroom unit. I always liked the "lakes" that brought waterfowl to visit during migration.

A newer condominium/apartment complex, in a redeveloped area that used to be an underused parking lot.
Below is part of an adult community (which is for residents over the age of 50. There are single detached homes, an apartment complex, and the garden condos you see here.

Love Dare Day 17

Today's Dare:

Determine to guard your mate’s secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them. Talk with your spouse, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues. Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you. Make them feel safe.

Really? In SPITE of the secrets your spouse may have? DEMONSTRATE LOVE IN SPITE OF... I am having a difficult time believing that resolving to love someone despite their secrets is a good way to hold onto a relationship. I think you love someone because of their secrets, and their imperfections, because they are a part of the person you love unconditionally. You don't go into a relationship planning to love someone only until you see their darker side. Also, when would you make your chosen life partner not feel safe in sharing ANYTHING at all with you?

Is it just The Dude and me? We don't have secrets from one another. We share everything. The good, bad and ugly of our thoughts and desires. Sometimes we just want the other to listen, and sometimes we need to talk something out, or look for alternatives. We always feel free to share anything, and at least from my standpoint, do not ever use that information later for anything at all. I also know that The Dude does not keep secrets well, and I did have issues with our lives, struggles, etc. being fodder for public discussions with our friends. I don't have those issues anymore, because I found that the more you share your life with a person or people, the more you realize that we all help each other. We all share in the struggles and the joy, and that's what truly makes a community of people.

I'm still going to go through all 40 days, but it is seeming more and more that this is geared toward people struggling in their relationships.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Love Dare Day 16

Today's Dare:

Begin praying today for your spouse’s heart. Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse’s life and in your marriage.

OK, here's where I may part ways with the Love Dare... I'll give it a shot, but instead of calling it prayer, which brings weird connotations for me, I'm going to set intentions in my affirmation journal (I know, I'm hippy dippy). My intentions are:

The Dude understands the impact of his words and actions.
The Dude is Loving, and Respectful.
The Dude makes healthy choices for his mind, body and spirit.
These are the same affirmations I make for all of my family. For a while I was writing these in a separate journal. I started a new one, but for some reason do not write in it daily. I think I should start doing that again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tableau Tuesday #1

So, I've figured out the alliteration for my new day of Photo Posts! I'm moving Photo Fridays to Tableau Tuesdays.

TableauTa`bleau"\, n.; pl. Tableaux. [F., dim. fr. L. tabula a painting. See Table.]
1. A striking and vivid representation; a picture.

This is work that would have appeared in Photo Fridays of 3/6 or 3/13, plus the work of this weekend.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday Morning Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend was VERY busy! Friday afternoon found us at the house, finishing the science fair project with the boys and a friend. They did the evolution of stuffed animals, and it turned out pretty cute! The Geez stopped by for a bit during this time, and The Dude wasn't here, so he left. Spent 3 hours fixing some malware on my folk's computer while The Dude and The Boys went to dinner at one of The Dude's Bro's homes with another brother, and The Geez.

Saturday Morning was the St. Patrick's Parade which The Boys were in, followed by the festival. It was so cold that I felt worse after being there than I had after going to the snow! We walked around, ate junk food, saw a bunch of people we know, and took in a blacksmith show, where The Oldest won a salt spoon made from an iron nail. It was a pretty cool show, and I'd recommend it if you see them about at a festival. The story we heard was the "No Weak Links", and it was very entertaining!

Sunday was The Youngest's Birthday Party at Chuck E. Cheese's. All the kids had fun, and even my nephews, who are 11 and 9 looked like they were having a good time amidst all the little kids! The Youngest got a bunch of cool toys and they've opened most, but I'm holding back a few for a week or so from now, or they'll never even remember about them! Got home, and the neighbors and a friend came over to play for the afternoon. I got to visit with my friend while they all entertained themselves, and we did some planning and brainstorming on how to help the boys' school in this budget nightmare.

Today, I'm pooped!

Love Dare Day 15

Today's Dare:

Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine. It may be holding the door for her. It might be putting his clothes away for him. It may be the way you listen and speak in your communication. Show your mate that he or she is highly esteemed in your eyes.

OK, I can do this one, but above and beyond may involve bowing down, and kissing his ring at this point!

Seriously though, I feel like I show him respect, and ask that The Boys also show him respect. I did my level best to pay attention to the time we spend together, and to not be dismissive of The Dude, or his ideas and opinions. Today he was in a bitchyish mood, so that put a damper on the rest of us. I hope he gets a good night's sleep tonight - it will all look better tomorrow!

We had the Science fun fair for all Elementary schools in 2 districts. It took up three buildings at the county fairgrounds, and it was fun to see all the different projects. My only regret is that we weren't able to spend more time wandering around. But we went immediately following Tae Kwon Do, and hadn't yet had dinner, so we beat a hasty retreat, and hit Casper's on the way home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Stills - Water

Today's Sunday Stills Challenge is water. I love water, and while I didn't get to any watery spots this week, I have plenty in my archives.

This is a shot on one of the beaches I love. It's between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, and on this day was foggy in the morning and clear in the afternoon. The fog sat off shore, preventing any really good sunset shots.

This was shot in the BVI in 2007. We sailed all around and I must have gotten a thousand water, boat and beach shots. I liked this one the best because of the windsurfboards in the foreground, the lone beach comber and the water, sailboats and hills in the background.

These two were taken in Yosemite. We pulled over to look at the river, and managed to catch this snake swimming around.

This was on one of our hikes in Yosemite, and I found the dappled quality of the light and the river stones along with the slowly moving water to be calming.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Love Dare Day 14

Today's Dare:

Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just be together.

Well, this weekend was really poor timing for this day of dare. But I will get to that. In another post. Today is Sunday March 15th - the Ides of March.

Instead of blogging or facebooking, I spent time with The Dude. He didn't notice, as he was playing WoW, and facebooking, but I did sit in the family room with him. The activity I chose to ignore was the laundry - I know, Poor me! Well, and all the other things I normally do after the boys go to bed - dishes, blogging, cleaning up the house, getting things ready for the next day. I also made tea and sliced some Amish friendship bread for the two of us.

Here are The People

Today's My Town Shoot Out is all about the people of our home towns. These were all shot at my local strip mall, where I spend an inordinate amount of time each week.

The above picture is of Darryl. He is our local homeless person. His sister used to live in our town, and occasionally he would stop there for a shower and food. He has been living in the MANY abandoned businesses around town. He's pretty quiet and harmless, and I shot this as he was coming back from peeing on the tree in the background, which was also in front of my car.

This is the back of Darryl on his way to the liquor store, walking past the gym and a guy just coming from a work out, completely tuning out the sights and sounds around him.

This is my kid's barber, Cindy. In fact, my youngest got his first haircut at this shop, by Chief who has since retired. On the day I was shooting this (Tuesday), I could not get anything without a client in a chair. the clients were pretty cool about it, most of the people in Dublin are pretty cool.

This is Jody. She recently bought the barber shop from Randy or maybe Jim, both of whom retired. She's made some pretty nice changes that have brought the shop from the 1970s. All the old clients still come in as do all of her clients from her previous shop.

This is the beginning of a Tae Kwon Do class. The students are studying, warming up and practicing their forms.

The mid-air person above is Andrew, the youngest son of the owners of the Tae Kwon Do Studio. On this day, the kids were sparing, he is very good. He was teaching the class to prepare them all for upcoming blackbelt testing and tournaments.

This is my oldest, reading a book while waiting for my youngest to finish his Tae Kwon Do class.
I spend at least 3 hours a week in this location, either visiting with the barbers, or sitting outside the studio.

I almost wished this was next week's challenge, as my town is gearing up for the St. Patrick's Parade and festival. I will be shooting all weekend, and posting those on some other day of the week. In fact, I need to pick that day. I used to have Photo Fridays, but I need another day and another alliteration. Any ideas? I was thinking Marvelous Mondays, but that sounds a bit insincere, or Wonderful Wednesdays, but there are SO many Wednesday things, I think I need to just pick one!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Love Dare Day 13

Today's Dare:

Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by. Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

OK, there is something that has recently surfaced about this dare. It seems to be driven by the desire to keep a failing relationship together. I'm all for trying that, but my relationship, while not always on a smooth path, is certainly nowhere near this dire. I've been skimming the official blog, and these folks are at the end of their relationships, so I can see where some of this would help. Me and The Dude? We're fine. Seriously, we piss each other off sometimes, but we rarely fight. We disagree about lots of things, but we always respect each other's opinions, and most of the time find a compromise we can both live with. But really, we agree on alot more than we disagree. And even during the rocky parts, we only ever really fought about once a year. That was before I learned to just say what was bothering me in the moment, and get over it. I used to bottle it all up, harboring resentments for months, then about once a year, it would all crash and come pouring out of me! That wasn't a particularly healthy way to be and I'm over it now.

Today is Friday the 13th, and it seems like the number 13 is rather lucky for me (unlike the Knights Templar). The Dude and I were married on the 13th, and had 13 people in the wedding party. And today? Today I had THREE job offers in my e-mail when I logged on! I have accepted one of those offers after grilling everyone I knew who also knew the managers I would be working for. I've picked what I think is by far the best fit for my skills, knowledge, desires, and management style. I am looking forward to being happy and excited about what I do again! I am looking forward to the weekend, even with all of the things we'll be doing because I won't also be worried about work - what a relief!

Of course the best laid plans... On Tuesday, my folks were over for dinner and mentioned that they thought they had a virus on the computer, and could I come over sometime and look at it. I guess today was the time limit on that, as I got a call from them while also working with 3 kids on a science project due Monday, and visiting with my father-in-law, whom I call The Geez. The Geez lives in AZ, and is here for a short visit. It was nice to see him, but I didn't really get to visit. So I agreed to go look at a computer after dinner. I went instead of dinner because since I made that plan, the boys and The Dude were invited to pizza with The Dude's step brothers. I was at my folks for THREE hours fixing the problem. I was successful, but now I'm really very tired. Not because staring at a computer is tiring (even though it is), but because my folks want to know HOW this could have possibly happened, and WHO might have done this, and do I think maybe it was (name your choice of ridiculous person/organization here). That and they also second guess everything that I am doing on the computer, as well as wanting me to slow down so that they can read EVERYTHING that comes up on the screen. It was only malware that had written to the registry, and now that it's fixed it will be good for a while. Also, I now know how to fix that particular problem, should it come up again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Love Dare Day 12

Today's Dare:
Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse. Tell them you are putting their preference first.

Well, I do this most of the time anyway, except for the big things, so let's see if I can come up with something. OK, we did not disagree today on one thing. Not one. There is only one thing in our marriage that we routinely disagree about - money. I really can't put us on the street, or not feed the boys by acquiescing to The Dude's desire for toys (a car comes to mind first). But I think I can count my giving into The Dude when he said it bothered him that I allow the oldest to watch Ru Paul's Drag Race. Personally, I see no issue with Drag Queens, but given the oldest's level of inherent flamboyance, he could be in for more taunting were he to bust out some of the runway moves these ladies are doing. Besides, I'm not sure 2nd grade is the right time to have that particular talk. I don't want him to have to censor himself, or even be aware that there are people on this planet that would not like you because of who you are. I think that I just don't want to break his young heart with that news.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Love Dare Day 11

Today's Dare:

What need does your spouse have that you could meet today? Can you run an errand? Give a back rub or foot massage? Is there housework you could help with? Choose a gesture that says, “I cherish you” and do it with a smile.

The Dude has been grumbling about the state of the back yard, so today after school, I had the boys go through all the toys out there and sort by which really needed to come in, which were to remain outside, and which were to be thrown away. We now have a trashcan full of broken and rusted toys, a straightened up outdoor toy bin, and a much cleaner yard. My next task will be to finish cleaning the patio, and giving it a good scrub so that it is ready for the BBQ season. I love our yard, and like to be out there if it isn't disgusting. After the winter it just needs to be cleaned. I may even tackle this today while it is still sunny and nice out, but right now, I'm still in my work clothes.

Well the boys had other ideas. Our new neighbor kids came over and played for about an hour while I cooked dinner, recipe to follow. By the time The Dude was home and our neighbors back to their home it was an hour past our normal dinner time and the kids were cranky hungry. Despite the initial grumbling about the dinner, the boys really liked it and it totally hit the spot for me as I could not get warm over these past two days!

The Dude appreciated the cleaning of the yard, and the fact that I cooked AND cleaned up the dishes. We usually split those for I cook and he usually does dishes.

J9's Lazy Ass Black Beans and Rice:

2 cups rice (white or brown, your choice)
2 cans Black Beans (you could use red if you prefer)
1 16 oz pkg frozen southwestern style corn
Chili Powder

Start the rice, either in your rice steamer, or in a pot on the stove.
In another pot, over low heat, mix the beans, frozen corn, garlic, onion, cumin and chili powder to taste. For me tonight, it was about a teaspoon each of garlic salt, dried minced onion, cumin and chili powder. Leave both pots alone and covered. When the rice is done, dish out the rice, and the bean/corn mix over the top. If you prefer spicier, you could add hot sauce. I've also added green olives and capers for a bit more saltiness, or a squirt of lemon to finish is good as well.

Tonight I also thought of an even lazier version that includes steam in microwave rice, and a packet of taco or fajita seasoning in place of the seasonings above.
This week's Photo Challenge is Birdhouses. I knew where I wanted to do these shots - the boys school. These are all near the front of the school, and at least one is in use.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Love Dare Day 10 - update

Today's Dare:

Do something out of the ordinary today for your spouse—something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is based on your choice and nothing else. Wash her car. Clean the kitchen. Buy his favorite dessert. Fold the laundry. Demonstrate love to them for the sheer joy of being their partner in marriage.

So today (day 2 of the 6th Birthday celebration for my youngest), I cleaned the house, mopped the floors, put the leaf in the table, did the dishes, and put them away, set up the coffee pot for tomorrow morning, folded all of the laundry, and hosted a party for the Birthday Boy with 4 of his 6 grandparents. We had Casper's Hot Dogs, and a Chocolate cake. This was all accomplished while working all day, taking the kids to and from school, having a couple more kids over for a play date, and Tae Kwon Do classes for each kid.

Oh, I also shot some photos for the challenges coming up this weekend.

The Dude took out the exhaust fan from our bathroom, bought a new one, went to lunch with some friends, bought a cake and came home and took a nap.

I usually do not fold The Dude's clothes as he does not like the way I fold t-shirts. Today I folded the mound of clean clothes that were his And that mound was at least 5 feet tall. That was on top of the normal folding and putting away of mine and The Boys' clothes. So far he hasn't noticed.
UPDATE: After posting last night, when the Dude went to bed, he did notice and it drew him out into the living room (where I was watching Colbert). This was our interaction:
The Dude: Why did you fold my clothes? You NEVER fold my clothes!
J9: I felt like it. (Normally, if I even thought about doing this in the past, it would be because I was sick of seeing the mound of clothes, and I've kind of made the area where the mound usually exists a blind spot now.)
The Dude: But WHY?
J9: 'cause I wanted to.
The Dude: Why would you WANT to?
J9: Because I love you, and thought it would be a nice thing to do for you.
The Dude didn't have a response for that, but he did lean down and give me a kiss. :-)

I now also have a 6 year old

Today is my youngest's 6th birthday. He told me this morning that he is not my Pumpkin Pie anymore (the nickname adopted from his brother, and altered from Pumpkin because he's just more than that). He's growing up now. If he only knew! I woke him up singing to him a happy birthday song, and continued the theme all the way to school. Here he is at birth - all 13 pound of him as a newborn:

And this morning during breakfast - how can you not love that face!

We had quite the roller coaster of an afternoon! Their friend came over to work on the science fair project. The one I have not found time to pull info on for them. So I was rushing to pull stuff from the Internet and highlight the bits they should read, and the friend arrived screaming! He'd slammed his thumb in the car door, and it was bleeding pretty profusely. It took a while just to get him calmed down, and I thought his mom was going to need Valium! In my house bruising, lumpy heads and the scrapes and cuts of boyhood are not even newsworthy. I've had my nose broken 3 times by the boys always with lots of blood, some cursing, and ice packs followed by Motrin. They've thankfully not broken any bones, but plenty of "let's see what happens when I jump off the couch, and try to clear the coffee table!" mishaps have ensued.

Then The Dude came home with the youngest's present - some Lego Star Wars monstrosity that he has been begging for since Christmas, and he HAD to have Yoda put together immediately. By the time the friend went home (a couple of hours later), it was lost. there were lots of tears, much ado about how the friend took it (possible, but doubtful), and a good 45 minutes of cleaning their room top to bottom in search of a Lego figure that measures no taller than 1.5". We never did find it, and now I have that figure on the way here thanks to eBay and pay pal. At least Plankton from Sponge Bob isn't his favorite, as that is only one Lego big. Of course, I found both of the ones we have of HIM!