Photographing a local horse show (dressage - schooling) this past weekend. Attempting to save/make use of a bad photograph -- yes I chopped off the rider's head & the arena/fence post got in the way. It happens - but maybe I can call it an "artsy" image?
Linking up with Wordless Wednesday. Click here to see other wordless images. Guess I didn't exactly follow the "wordless" rules - but at least it isn't a full paragraph/narrative.
How does a dog run, jump, wag his tail, and lick his nose at the same time? - talented and multitasking. This is what I'll be doing today - in the kitchen, laundry room, and generally all around the house preparing for Thanksgiving. I know I'm not the only one either - many adults will be mimicking my same routine today (thank goodness I've already done battle at the grocery store). Hope you survive - I'm getting an early start today. Hope everyone has a happy (and not exhaustive) Thanksgiving.
Linking up with other wordless images (although I included words this time). Click here to see other images.
Lately I have felt like a butterfly - flying from flower (task) to flower (task) - not quite settling down on one spot for very long. A month or so ago I took an unplanned break from blogging -life just got too hectic and I was unable to keep everything going. I'm also in the process of evolving my blog - what do I want (or have) to offer others (something useful that they would like to read about/see/use) - what is my niche? I'm sure these are questions everyone (not just bloggers) have asked themselves from time to time.
Although I haven't been posting as often on my blog, I have been posting photographs - mostly to Instagram (I'm head over heels in love with it) - because I always, well usually, have my phone with me. Now with the internet Instagram feed anyone call follow IG feeds. You can find me as sherrycb on Instagram, or here on the web.
My schedule continues to be very packed, but just over the horizon I can see the clump of flowers where I can fly shorter distances (an actual unscheduled weekend is coming!!) and still stay close.
The gulf frittary butterfly image was captured at Brazos Bend State Park around the 40 acre lake (specifically the observation tower). The calendar may say fall, but in SE Texas - we are still enjoying the bright colors of wildflowers (or weeds). My sister says he looks like he has his landing gear down - I'm planning on putting mine on soon.
A few weekends back we camped in East Texas (in the Piney Woods & near the Big Thicket), and early Saturday morning I ran across this sign posted on the campground dumpster. I thought it might an early Halloween prank or even crazed raccoons - but definitely knew I wouldn't be visiting the dumpster at night. I posted the image on Instagram and unfortunately no one could identify it either. However, Texas Parks & Wildlife did ask to post the image on their facebook page and wow did it get the responses - last time I checked over 100. The best thing about the posting - mystery solved. It is part of a creepy/scary computer game called Slender (you can visit wikipedia to read about it - I know that website is not reliable for many things - but I think it is safe enough for this subject). I'm sort of glad I didn't know what it meant at the time; I might have been truly creeped out (historically weird things have happened and continue to happen in E Texas). It was interesting to read the comments - someone posted that they thought the poster made it up & posted it themselves - uh - no I didn't.
Halloween will be interesting this year - kids no longer dressing up, we almost forgot to buy our pumpkins (too hot to carve, then our schedule got in the way), horse riding lessons on the same day, etc., just won't seem the same this year.
For the East coast affected by Sandy - hang in there - things will return to normal at some point - living along the Texas gulf coast - I certainly have been in your shoes. In fact you can still spot a few houses that haven't been totally repaired from hurricane Ike 4 years ago.
Everyone have a safe and fun Halloween & remember - Slender man is watching... ha ha ha ha ha.
This path is literally my path - my path towards better fitness, peace of mind and hopefully will get me back on track for some other things I want to do in my life. I've been reading A Field Guide to Now by Christina Rosalie and her chapter "Moving to be Still: Habit" really hit home with me at this point in my life. When the kids started back to school this year I forced myself to start walking, 5 days week whether I wanted to or not - even if it was just 1 mile. (My other motivations were that suprising 10+ weight gain from middle age that just "appeared" in my mid-section, and a lack of energy/aspiration to do anything but sit.) I had always been active (sports & walking in the past), but everyone's schedules put my personal wish list on the bottom and even though they were at school - they're presence/stuff remained - clothes not in the hamper (but near it), just stuff, schedules, papers to read, sign - stuff. Getting started is always tough (as Christina talks about in her book/chapter), but soon I realized how much I missed my walking time, time for silence, no demands, no noise in my head. Time to listen to my music playlist and let my mind just wander - no creating task/to-do lists in my head as I walked - just breathing, listening, moving. Although recently I've not been able to hit the track every day, you better believe I am out there - continuing my new habit and hoping this will lead to another new habit.
After that less than 1 mile beginning - I'm up to a 3.5 mile endurance walk once a week - an accomplishment in itself and one I'm proud of. As for weight loss - still that last, toughest 5 lbs to go, but my body is redistributing the weight, my clothes fit and I have energy - that's enough for me (for now).
Since we enjoyed a campfire this weekend, I thought a macro shot (105mm lens) of the red hot coals would be something different. Watching fire can be so engrossing - it truly does breathe. This fire served many purposes on Saturday evening - kept us warm (temps dipped down a bit at night), cooked our potatoes for supper (fire roasted - yum), chased the mosquitos away (who knew we'd still be battling mosquitos in October), provided an image for this prompt (I also shared on instagram), cleaned up from supper (burned our paper plates), and of course s'mores for later.
Took a few other shots of native plants and a few landscape/scenic shots as well - may share them on the blog later if they turned out decent. My personal souvenir from the weekend - chiggers -- again - who would have thought those suckers would still be active in October. Made it a camping trip to remember!!
Linking up with Two Scoopz Focus 52 weekly prompt (first time in several weeks). Visit Jan's website to see more macro/up close images.
Since it is October I was in the mood for something a little creepy, scary and Halloween-y to read, so I picked up this novel by RL Stine out of the YA section. I loved the Goosebumps books (and the TV series) - watching/reading with my kids when they were younger, so I had really high hopes for this book. I finished the book over a couple of days - reading in 1 to 2 hour blocks - so a quick read, but I just can't express how disappointed I was with the story. This book almost seemed like a draft that just needed to be rewritten again before it went to print. The very basic story line was a good idea, and I feel he could have explored that idea so much better Below are a few things that stood out (without being total spoilers).
-depended upon too many traditional vampire legends/folklore stories, something new or even a twist on the traditional would have been better
- I stumbled on some of the sentences and had to go back and reread them to make sure I read them correctly; some sentences/paragraphs did not flow well
-a lot of unaswered questions - small things that just made the reader say "what? how did they (the character) know that? or how could they (character and/or character's family) not realize what was happening?"
-the setting is a beach town - a lot of summer vacation homes/visitors - and according to the story the only entertainment was: the beach, the video arcade, carnival (when open), pizza place - even for the summer, it would seem that kids (and families) would venture outside of this small town with its limited entertainment (at least in real life) - these were obviously wealthy families who could afford summer homes and other entertainment
-the book is separated into 3 sections and only after the reader really gets into each section do you realize time has passed or you are dealing with a different group of characters in the same location
-there were a few classic RL Stine twists within the sections, but it seemed like he needed a lot of pages to set them up & the twist took 2 sentences to reveal and it wasn't as big of a change as I had expected
"The Vampire Club" short story at the end of the book was more of what I would consider classic RL Stine horror and I liked it better than the previous 300+ pages. I submitted a book review to B&N for the first time ever - just because I was so disappointed with this YA novel.
Yes, I missed the Wordless Wednesday prompt, but that seems to be the story of my life lately. I've taken an unexpected, unplanned vacation from blogging (which I'm trying to get back to on a regular basis - a big thank you to everyone who has stuck with me during the past couple of weeks/months when my posts were scarce), haven't taken many pictures, and haven't done much of what I like to do as far as being creative. What have I done? The school year started and my house has an 8th grader (yikes - teenage girl!!) and a 5th grader who have taken over my calendar, my energy, my attention, etc... I love it all - but the school schedules always take us a while to get back into the groove. We are summer people - a few activites, but not really tied to the clock or a lot of commitments.
This image was taken recently - I stopped on the side of a country highway and watched the tractors do their work - I think this is the second hay cut of the summer (it still feels like summer around here - 89 is our high today). The image also reminds me to just take a few minutes and watch what is going on around us. I was trying to do a bit of quick processing to the image for an intended effect - not sure I'm there yet, but wanted to post anyway. I know of some who are adamantly opposed to any HDR effects, but I still say that done tastefully it can help bring out some details.
So, take a minute (or 5) today, stop, look around and just watch something (like tractors) or someone (here's your excuse to people watch) and discover what it going on in the world around your own life. What did you see?
A small delicate flower found in a restored native Texas prairie. The prairie had been recently mowed (to simulate grazing by large herd animals), but a few flowers survived.
Linking up with Wordless Wednesday. To see other images, click here.
Again with the last minute post for this prompt - the only photos I took this week were (as usual) horses (fit into the "large creature" category), but this lesson was different -- everyone was bareback. A small herd of horses, all bareback riders (some for the first time in a very long time) - working on finding their seat and balance. It was funny to watch their faces as they tried to keep everything balanced and in the right place without stirrups to brace themselves on or saddles to distribute their weight. Happy to report - no one came off, but this was mostly a walking lesson with a little trotting down the long side. Was a good change up from the usual lessons and a good/fun way to end the summer.
Linking up with Two Scoopz's Focus 52. To see other images of big and small creatures - check out Jan's website.
(Eventually the herd did spread out & everyone got their own personal space - confused horses at the beginning with no tack tended to want to stay with the herd.)
Although I'm a day late with my weekend rewind, I think everyone will still enjoy some of the landscape images. I took several (lots), so it took me a while to go through and chose a few to add to my blog post. The weekend was a girl's weekend - my daughter & I took a road trip to visit my sister - several hours away (also the last real trip before school starts). Once we got there, the three of us got in the car and drove even further - thought about jumping the state line in one area just because we were that close to it.
Our first stop was Caddo Lake State Park. I wanted to check out the campground and see the beautiful cypress trees in the sloughs.
Many of the park roads were one way and several were quite steep (for this flatlander), but the trees were beautiful and the park was very quiet.
We wanted to go on the pontoon boat tour, but couldn't quite figure out what time the next tour was.... wonder if they even remembered that sign was up there? Thank goodness there was a white board with tour times and prices listed.
We had some time before the next tour, so we ate our picnic lunch and looked around a little. You can see the pontoon boat at the end of the pier. The cove around the pier was very scenic. I think I took nearly half of my keeper shots from this area.
I was able to sit in the very front of the boat (not many people want the sun beating down on them), so this was the view leaving the cove. Although some of the vegetation on the water (giant salvia, hyacinth) are very invasive (some can create critical situations) - they sure do add to the photographic image. The water was very still and dark and we were lucky to miss the rain that was in the forecast.
We made our way back to boat road "C" - we saw several people fishing and a few canoes - more lovely cypress trees, herons, blooming hyacinths, and even a water snake (swimming along the shore). This was not an interpretive tour, but it was still nice to just see parts of the lake. There are other tours but this is the only one that leaves from within the state park.
There were some very interesting tree knee formations - cypress trees have "knees" - I'm not an expert, so I don't know if this formation is a sign of water levels/drought or if it is just formed by chance. The knees I usually see are much shorter (just tall enough to stumble over) and are spaced out around the tree like you would expect roots to be.
The butterflies and dragonflies seemed unusually friendly in this park (maybe they are remembering the term Tejas - thought to mean friend). This snout butterfly wouldn't leave my daughter's bracelet; when he finally did a dragonfly landed on her shoes and stayed there (maybe he was hitching a ride).
The next day we took another boat ride up the Sabine River - some parts of this river form the natural boundary between Texas and Louisiana. Again the river was very calm - water like glass. We were out before the other boaters (aka crazy people) and only disturbed the herons and sunbathing turtles. Nothing unusual to see, but was still a nice boat ride.
A lot of images with this post, but I did see a lot of beautiful scenery - Caddo Lake has a very interesting history and the state park was one that the CCC was involved in, but didn't get a chance to build as many structures as in other parks. It is still a beautiful place to visit - the park staff said October is a very busy time - visitors come to see the fall colors. They also have a great park store - books about the CCC, the state park system, wildlife management areas, and others that I haven't seen anywhere else. My sister and I had fun browsing the books (we are such nerds!!), and I managed to only buy two (this time).
Hope everyone recovered from their weekend. The school routine is almost here and in this household we are fighting it every step of the way - we love our summertime togetherness.
I didn't set out looking for something to photograph to represent repetition, but after reviewing the images from a very recent weekend trip I realized I had a few that would be great for this month's prompt. There are many things that are repeating within this scene - the slats of the pier, the railing supports, the pier lights. This was taken right before dark, so everything was a kind of drab color (sun was setting to the right - but the colors weren't reaching this far), so I decided to make it a black and white image (I may have gone a little too far into the "black"). I carried the tripod around this trip and it really does make a difference when trying to capture certain shots - especially in a brisk sea breeze (technically a "bay" breeze) .
Here's another image from the same pier - just another section of it, and a little later in the evening (it is a very very long pier, 1620 feet total in length) that I also gave a black & white treatment to - again maybe a bit heavy on the "black". This was an attempt on my part to be a little artsy & not have everything all nicely lined up. I do like the way the distant lights show up as tiny white dots, and the darkness approaching the bright pier fishing lights.
Linking up with Kat Eye Studio's Exploring with a Camera. Click here to see other repeating images.
We love camping and enjoy eating good food while camping. When you camp often the traditional menu of hamburgers and hotdogs gets old really quickly. Many campers (including popups) now include an oven in their kitchen, but if you've ever tried to actually use it - you'll realize it isn't the best at keeping correct temperatures not to mention heating up the entire camper (not a good thing in 90+ degree heat in the summer). Besides bringing leftovers, I started using dutch ovens several years ago to expand our food choices. There are several recipes out on the web that are specifically for dutch oven cooking (some are very elaborate), but the dutch oven can also be used as a plain, regular "oven." Canned biscuits are one of our favorites for Saturday morning breakfasts. The instructions on the large-sized biscuits we usually take are to bake at 350 degrees for 14 to 17 minutes. The steps I follow are:
-clean out fire ring at campsite (I cook & keep all hot cooking utensils inside the fire ring to keep everyone safe)
-prepare charcoal (we splurged and bought one of those chimneys - it really does speed up the process of getting your charcoal to the right ash stage), for 350 deg, 10 inch oven - 21 total briquettes are needed
-spray cooking oil lightly inside dutch oven while it is cold
-place biscuits in a circle while oven is cold
-place lid on oven and place on top of 7 prepared (hot) briquettes that are in a circle (provides bottom heat). I usually place the lid in line with the handles of the oven, so when it is time to turn the top/bottom, I know which way I am going
-(with tongs), place 14 prepared briquettes on top of lid, spaced evenly
-set timer to 7 minutes (1/2 of the total time cooking)- no need for a fancy timer
-After 7 minutes, carefully (& with proper tools) - lift & turn the entire oven 1/4 a circle & replace on coals, then using proper tools - carefully spin the top (don't lift it - it will spin just fine still seated on the bottom) 1/4 circle the opposite way - the idea is to spread out the heat and avoid hot spots
Since the canned biscuits only need 14 (or 15) minutes to cook, I only turn the oven once or twice. Some things cook longer & you'll turn every 10 to 15 minutes.
-when the biscuits are finished - carefully lift the lid & place to the side (I still keep it within the fire ring) without any ash falling/blowing into oven - ashes on biscuits don't taste the best
I use a long spatula to get the biscuits out of the oven... remember that oven has been heated to 350 degrees & it is HOT. After we are finished eating, I dump the ashes from the top into the fire ring itself, prop up lid on its side (so it can cool), and remove the bottom oven to a cooler place within the fire ring. As long as isn't going to rain - I leave these alone & let them totally cool before wiping out & putting away. You'll need to put paper towels in the dutch oven (to soak up moisture) when storing it - I use several paper towels and leave parts of them hanging out of the sides - between the lid & bottom.
So, the moral to this story - yes you can use those recipes specifically for dutch ovens, but you can also use it like an oven & bake regular food (I have baked brownies before -- they were excellent). Depending upon the weather, time, etc., you may decide to tackle a longer cooking project - I have been known to break a serious sweat over cooking supper - when I first started using dutch ovens for cooking. In the summer, I keep my dutch oven cooking down to biscuits for breakfast one morning each weekend. In the fall/winter I'll tackle more elaborate items.
My son, working on his first big project (he just turned 10) & learning how to use several different tools (yes his mother is teaching him these basic skills). The bench is the "Aldo Leopold" design (Aldo Leopold - brought about the thinking behind wildlife conservation).
The bench is finished except for painting - we'll tackle that next week. Since he was learning, we were extra careful about which pieces he was keeping for the project and which pieces were scrap or kept for another project.
I love the way this bench turned out - I may make one for myself. I'll post a picture of the finished painted project(s) later - with links to (free) plans & a little about Aldo Leopold - give everyone a little history lesson.
Linking up with Wordless Wednesday. Click here to see other "wordless" images.
Wow - been a while since I was able to contribute to this weekly prompt - I love participating, but lately I haven't been able to take many photographs, much less ones that even slightly resembled the prompt (I know I could post anything - but I like the challenge).
Now that we've had a bit of a summer storm today (great timing), I was able to take a few shots of water & to my surprise - a few toads decided to pop out & see what was going on -- their home was flooding.
These are Gulf Coast Toads - very common around here. We didn't see as many last year when we were in the exceptional drought, so we are enjoying watching them this summer. The crack in the sidewalk was a great place to get down into the cool dirt during the hot day - except when the crack fills with "flood" waters.
Participating in Jan's Focus 52 this week. To see other images of water - click here.
To those who attempted to comment on my blog in the past & were frustrated with word verification (I know I get frustrated) - I apologize - I think I've fixed it where commenting should be effortless (if not - please let me know).
This image was in a previous post, but I thought it would also be appropriate for Wordless Wednesday. To equestrians, this posture has meaning - to others it may appear as if he is saying "na na na na na." What it is he saying to you?
Linking up with Wordless Wednesday. Click here to see other wordless images.
To not have accomplished much over the last weekend & week we sure were busy, and this week is already looking to be as busy - what happened to the lazy days of summer? Guess all those well-child doctor visits, dentist appointments, etc... keep us hopping, along with a few fun things we squeeze in.
We started off the weekend with cub camp family day/evening - wrapping up a week of fun (& exhaustion) for the boys. I think there are a lot of cub camps going on this time of year all around the country. This was a puppet show put on by Webelows II den - working towards their showman requirements.
We managed to squeeze in a movie - I know this has been out for a little bit, but we rarely get to the theater the first weekend. We all enjoyed this cute movie. Yes, I stole this image from www.imdb.com.
Of course we can't forget about our time at the barn.. riding (her, not me). I sat in the middle of the arena, collecting dust & flies while taking a few pictures. She has been saving up for one of those phone cases/protectors that you can put your own picture on - she (of course) wants this horse's head/face on it, so I've been trying to get a really good image for her. She would be happy with any of the photos I have, but she'll be showing it off - everyone will know I took the picture (just want it to be a good/decent one).
I usually try to participate in Jan's Focus 52 weekly prompts (over at two scoopz), but this week's prompt of Street Photography was nearly impossible for me. I live in a small town, not really historically significant and not many cute shops around a central town area, so not many people walking around in any "downtown" area. The image above is just about the only type of "street" I saw last week - dropping off at cub camp (not in town), dropping off at barn, etc... guess the horses grazing would be about the closest I got to seeing interesting "characters" along a street.
Here's one I suggested..ha ha... tongue hanging out -- actually he was licking & chewing - which to equestrians means showing respect to the rider (a good thing - especially when you are sitting on a 1,500 lb thoroughbred).
Hope everyone is enjoying their summer, but with a little cooler temperatures than we have had (or least less humidity). Is anyone else having a problem keeping up with the photo prompts they started the first of the year? Fun or commitments getting in the way? I've been making an effort to take my camera everywhere, but that hasn't helped.
Another image from the zoo - Andean (spectacled) bear relaxing in the pond. It was a very warm day. Wonder if he/she is trying to make the people go away by closing his/her eyes or just enjoying the cool water? They have such interesting dog looking faces, and the pair have been at the zoo for over 25 years.
Linking up with Wordless Wednesday. Click here to find more wordless images and links to other wordless wednesday posts.
Again, waiting until the last moment for the prompt however I attempted to spot things that were reoresentative of half. I'm sure there will be several flowers for this week - they just were too available & cooperative. So, for my contribution - a sunflower - half open.
I should have taken a photograph of the many many mosquitoes eating me "half" to death as I took this... we've had some rain with high temperatures - perfect environment for those little horrible things.
Linking up with Two Scoopz for Focus 52. Click here to see other images of "half."
I had intentions of posting this soon after it happened, but wow did we get busy this summer.
Several weeks ago the shuttle model that had been on display in Florida was moved to Nasa (Johnson Space Center) near Houston. Since it was summer, the kids & I jumped in the car & drove down to Kemah to watch. Here are a few (actually a lot) images from that day.
Although is was very warm (hot to some), there was a good crowd (but not as packed as it could have been) hanging out along the Kemah boardwalk waiting with us.
You could see the shuttle approaching on the barge accompanied by many departments providing security (coast guard, sheriff, etc). I think we counted 5 helicopters and as the shuttle got closer to land, the helicopters hovered low/close enough that we felt the wind from their blades.
As it got closer, you could see how big the shuttle actually was. Several people riding on the shuttle barge were video taping us.
Lots of people gathered to take pictures & watch. Even though it wasn't a previously flown shuttle, it was still exciting & something my kids may never see again.
Just a "little" security around the barge/shuttle, and a lot of civilians in sailboats hanging out in the bay getting their own great view. The police boats made sure that the channel was kept clear - they didn't want any wake at all to move the barge (the shuttle was just sitting on top of it) and no telling what some crazy people would do these days. A few boats thought they'd get a little closer & they were lucky enough to get a personal chat with the sheriff/coast guard.
The Kemah boardwalk area includes several restaurants, a hotel, shops, small amusement park, and an open area for live bands with a walk through fountain (pretty much a tourist area). Locals come here as well - the landscaping is beautiful & you can sit by the water while you eat & watch the boats (some yachts) head out to Galveston Bay. Seeing the shuttle pass through is definitely not one of the normal watercraft you'd expect though.
The shuttle met several challenges getting from Florida to Houston/Clear Lake - but this was an interesting one... the Kemah bridge. I happen to be standing next to a tug boat operator who said there was only 3 inches of clearance on each side of the wings and the bridge supports... talk about close with no room for error.
Yeah!! Shuttle made it without touching anything (you can see more people gathered here as well). The barge moved slowly throughout the trip, but during this critical point there was a tug boat in front of & behind the shuttle barge... can't be too careful (did I read that NY didn't quite get their shuttle moved as easily & without damage??? Sorry - just a little dig).
More security (with some nicely mounted automatic weapons of some type on the front - guess they mean business). Who knew Texas Highway Patrol had boats too? (Truly "Don't mess with Texas")
The civilian boats followed (behind the Texas Highway Patrol boats) all the way up the channel to Clear Lake.
Needless to say trying to get home was an adventure in itself. However because we were stuck in traffic we were able to watch the shuttle move across Clear Lake. More civilians were there to greet it - jet skis, wind surfers - many people on land as well. (Taken from my vehicle, sitting in traffic on a bridge.)
The tug boats greeted the shuttle with a water spray (I'm sure there is an official term for this - but I don't know it) - there were actually 2 boats, but since I was kind of driving, stuck in traffic, couldn't change lenses - this is what I was able to capture. There were a LOT of people at the temporary dock area where the shuttle would be lifted onto a flatbed & driven to Nasa later that weekend. We didn't even try to come back for that.
There has been a lot of discussion in our area about Nasa (& home of mission control) getting a raw deal and not getting a "real" shuttle - some very heated discussions. I've read online & in the newspaper that maybe getting this particular one isn't such a bad deal - we will be able to walk around inside of it. Yes it was at Florida's visitor's center for 15 years, but it is here now. It is supposed to be open to the public in the fall - we'll probably go & check it out. One word of advise if you plan a trip to Space Center Houston/Johnson Space Center/Nasa -- bring $$$. It is expensive.