pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: 2011

31 December 2011

Sun on snow


Sequoia National Park
28 December 2010

This is a companion to the photo that I posted at the end of last year.

I hope that the coming year sparkles and shines for you like sunlight on snow.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. I love the texture in this photo.

27 December 2011

Crescent moon at sunset


Crescent moon
Orange County, California
26 December 2011

Everyone was raving about the proximity of Venus and the crescent moon last night, but when I went out to look, it was pretty much the same view as last month, though maybe a bit higher in the sky. Pretty anyway, and my neighbor came over to ask why I was setting up my camera, so we chatted a bit about astronomy. Then some sales people were wandering the neighborhood, and I showed the curious one the view through the viewfinder and the craters on the photo. It was an entertaining half-hour.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40 and telephoto.

26 December 2011

Antique


West German glass ornament
24 December 2011

The is one of a set of glass ornaments that my parents bought in 1961, the year they were married, at People's, a drugstore in Washington, D.C. The box of 12 cost $1.99, and noted prominently that they were manufactured in West Germany.

For whatever reason, my mother decided some years ago that I should have all the old glass ornaments, and I have maybe four of what used to be a dozen large ones, and two or three of the small. The glass is thin and they are quite fragile.

This year at the daughter's school's holiday boutique, a woman was selling these ornaments as antiques. I recognized two from our original set, both of which were broken in my childhood. I was astonished that she should have found duplicates of these ornaments; I've never seen them anywhere else before. I don't remember precisely how much she was charging for them, but it would have bought several dozen all those years ago.

And it gave me pause to think of them as "antique."

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

22 December 2011

Headless


21 December 2011

The kids and I were decorating the tree and living room yesterday, when the son exclaimed in disgust. I looked to see him holding one of the carolers that we put on the mantlepiece every year. It was headless.

"Well, that pretty much sums up this year," he said, placing the doll in its accustomed place.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. We later found the head inside a candle holder. Who knows?

20 December 2011

Going through the motions


24 December 2010

At present, the tree stands untrimmed, surrounded by a fence, in the living room. If there isn't too much chaos tomorrow, the kids and I will probably decorate it. They haven't been terribly interested, and I move slowly.

It's been a rough year.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

16 December 2011

Santa Ana winds


Santa Ana, California
16 December 2011

Of course, you can't hear it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

12 December 2011

Boy with a mind of his own


Sequoia National Park
5 February 2005

Like everyone else in this family, he has opinions.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110.

06 December 2011

Visiting the farm


In the canyons and passes
Orange County, California
3 December 2011

The cat likes to chew on the Christmas tree. We discourage this, but he often will get a needle and then go and merrily vomit whatever he's ingested. It's the worst part of the holiday.

Last year, he developed a bowel obstruction. The vet opened him up and pushed the obstruction through, though what he eventually passed was indeterminate. I still worry that there might have been Christmas tree in there because the problems started just after we took the tree down.

To forestall any recurrence, I floated the idea to the family that we get our first fake tree. You can imagine how that went over. And I admit, when I went to look at the artificial trees the local nursery was carrying, I wasn't exactly thrilled. So Saturday afternoon, we ended up back out at the tree farm, though it wasn't the one we usually visit, but another owned by the same family higher up in the hills.

We're going to be fencing it when it gets here.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

02 December 2011

J'accuse!


Cat on a piano
21 November 2011

Milton is a creature of habit, and he does not like any changes to his schedule or anyone else's. So he was peeved recently when I had to take care of all the morning to-ings and fro-ings while the spouse was out of town.

When I leave in the morning to take the son to the bus stop, the cat waits, watching the door intently until I return, at which point he is free to relax and find a pleasant spot of sun for his morning nap. On this particular morning, of course, I was late getting back, and when I opened the door, there was Milton, perched on the piano (verboten!), staring at me gimlet-eyed.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

01 December 2011

Late autumn sunset


Orange County, California
11 December 2010

I don't know how it got to be December. I find myself in a strange state, mourning this time last year, the end of physical normalcy. While then I clambered up ladders and jumped up off the floor, now I struggle. Sunset, indeed.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

30 November 2011

Venus and the moon


Orange County, California
26 November 2011

I rather wish the tree hadn't been in the way, but the sky was quite pretty that night.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

28 November 2011

Kitchen library


Cookbooks
23 November 2011

As I've pointed out, we have many books. I even have bookshelves in the kitchen, though most of my cookbooks are stuffed in the pantry. Along with the cooking magazines. And even the publications aren't really representative of my collection.

It's all the little pieces of paper with ingredients and directions scrawled on them.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

21 November 2011

The golden state


Morning sun
21 November 2011

It rained yesterday--like crazy for a few hours--and this morning, though the ground was still soaking, the sky was clear.

On my way back from dropping the son off at the bus stop, all was quiet. Most of the schools are out for the whole week, so at 7 am, the street was empty.

I love mornings like this when it is cold and clear. As the sun rises, the streets and roofs and foliage all begin to steam. In this morning's clear yellow light, the world was hazed in gold.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

20 November 2011

Handsome boy


Milton
11 November 2010

Yes, I am suffering from a singular lack of imagination. Unfortunately, I've been pretty ill the last couple of weeks, so imagination has not been my strong suit. Wielding painkillers and Kleenex...yup, that's about the limit at the moment.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Even poor Milton is sneezing.

08 November 2011

Ichabod and his pursuer


Sleepy Hollow, New York
28 July 2011

Of course, it would have been so much better if I'd posted this in October as I'd planned. Ah well. Best laid plans.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

07 November 2011

They're baaaack


Single camellia blossom
8 November 2010

This was taken last year, but the camellias are currently a riot of blossom.

Tech stuff: Both photos taken with my Nikon D40 and edited together with good old Windows Picture It! 10.

05 November 2011

Die geist


Watermark & pumpkins
31 October 2011

I'm working on a new watermark for my photos (including a digital one), and this one just made me laugh.

Tech stuff: Both photos taken with my Nikon D40 and edited together with good old Windows Picture It! 10.

02 November 2011

Chicago Board of Trade


Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

31 October 2011

The horror!


Hallowe'en
31 October 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

28 October 2011

Platform

Because Blogger-Index.com continues to steal copyrighted content from my site and hundreds of other blogs, feed readers will need to click through the title on the feed in order to access the rest of the post.


Metra station
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Just because there is nothing resembling public transportation here doesn't mean I haven't trained my offspring how to use it elsewhere.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

27 October 2011

Caught stealing

A site called Blogger-Index has been caught stealing my feed wholesale and reposting it on its advertising-laden spam blog. Since I would never allow anyone to repost my work and reap ad revenue from it, let alone a site that can't spell and doesn't use proper grammar, I've shortened the feed so that very little is visible. If you regularly read via feed, you will need to click through the feed headline to gain access to the blog. Blogger-Index has been put on notice that it is to remove all my blog content from its site, and I'm taking appropriate action regarding copyright infringement.

26 October 2011

Night on the river


Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Sorry, feedreaders. The feed has been shortened for the moment because of content thieves. You'll need to click through to see the photos.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4

25 October 2011

Hallowe'en kitty


Milton
31 October 2004

He is always so interested.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110.

24 October 2011

Kayakers in Chicago


Kayakers
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

I think this is much more like what kayaking is supposed to be compared with my meter-high waves in a freezing fjord.

Still...

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

23 October 2011

Regret


South Garden
Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

So much to see. Never enough time.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

18 October 2011

1115


Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

15 October 2011

Big orange spider


Orange County, California
14 October 2011

You can't say that I didn't warn you.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, telephoto lens.

14 October 2011

Wacker and Wabash


Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

13 October 2011

Bean


Cloud Gate
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

I actually found it by accident. And what a glorious accident. Sure, every tourist has photographed this and it's been in movies, but there is something genuinely wonderful in standing there watching it, watching people react to it, watching nature react with it. I probably could spend a day there and not get bored, which for me, is saying a lot.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

12 October 2011

Snack


Orb weaver
Orange County, California
11 October 2011

Forget more lenses. I need to learn more about proper lighting technique. When it comes to lighting well...FAIL!

Also patience and remembering to change the settings on the camera would help.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Alright, full disclosure. The spider was above my head. It was not pleased with me photographing it. I was starting to worry it might drop into my hair.

11 October 2011

Something to say: Occupy Chicago


Protesters
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

10 October 2011

Other faces, other voices: Occupy Chicago


Protesters
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

09 October 2011

Occupy Chicago: Vehicle of protest


Truck
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

When I realized that I was attracting maybe a little more attention than I wanted to, I wandered back up La Salle, and continued to pretend that I was photographing architecture (ok, so maybe I wasn't entirely pretending...). As I went around the corner, I caught sight of this truck, and it made me smile because it was colorful and creative. What I didn't catch until I loaded the photo onto my computer a few moments ago were the three people who were holding up their posters on the far corner. If you guys (one of you might have been a woman; I didn't see the third person until I overexposed the photo to make sure that the license plate was not visible) were trying to get my attention, I'm sorry; I completely missed you. And if one of you is the owner of the truck, nice work!

I actually posted this one on my Twitter stream just after I took it, but somehow I managed to delete several tweets that afternoon, probably because I was carrying the phone around in my pocket while I was wielding the D40.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

08 October 2011

Occupy Chicago


Protester
Chicago, Illinois
7 October 2011

In college, I took a class on the literature and film of the 1960s. I was born into the 1960s, and came of age in the 1980s, so obviously missed the social and political foment of that tumultuous time. And I felt that I needed to have some understanding of that decade to better comprehend what I was inheriting as an adult 20 years later.

Of all the movies we watched in that class and of all the books we read, the movie that made the deepest impression on me was Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool. The use of the very real protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago as a backdrop for part of a fictional film was quite audacious, particularly for a film that addresses the responsibilities of the media.

I've been following the protests that started with the Occupy Wall Street movement a few weeks back. It's very interesting to me that the mainstream media has very stringently avoided covering the protests, but I've been watching it unfold since the beginning via Twitter--where else? In fact, I've heard nothing at all on the news until this morning, sitting at O'Hare airport with CNN blaring in the departure lounge.

So here we are. I went down to La Salle and Jackson yesterday, where the sidewalks were barricaded in front of the Chicago Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve. There was a police presence and a protester presence. Both groups were low-key: the police watchful and the protesters quiet, holding their placards, not gathering in huge numbers at any one point. There was an air of tension, but not the frightening electrical sort of tension that I've seen precede an outbreak of violence. Wary, yes, but also respectful.

The medium is the message. The media is choosing not to document this, and I felt a responsibility to do so. One of the points of this blog has been to capture moments in time; it is those stories that interest me.

She was a moment in time. Protest, costume, photograph. The medium is the message.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light. Important things to note: I requested permission from the subjects before I took any close-ups of protesters. I've got some group shots as well. These were not intended to be portraits so much as quick and dirty snapshots. I did not ask for names. Their faces are unique and their stories belong to them. I was more interested in them in the larger context of the moment. And an update: apparently the game changed while I was out of town, and now there are more stories in the print media.

05 October 2011

Doe, a deer


Valley Forge National Historical Park
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
26 July 2011

How's this for a euphemism: Valley Forge National Historical Park will conduct the second year of the lethal reduction phase of the White-tailed Deer Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement...

She stood there, alert but very calm, and simply watched us as we walked by, stopping to drink, eyes never leaving us.

I get it; I do. Management. I just wish that we would learn to coexist better with the world around us.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

29 September 2011

Pennsylvania


Gettysburg National Military Park
Adams County, Pennsylvania
25 July 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

27 September 2011

UFO


Blimp
9 September 2011

It was wandering off in the direction of Anaheim for the Angels game.

And now, the Angels are done for the season, or at least will be tomorrow.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

21 September 2011

What?


Cooper's hawk
20 September 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light, telephoto lens.

20 September 2011

Childhood's end


Demolition
20 September 2011

The Trojan War was reenacted here. Spies snapped photos and transmitted secret codes. Pirates sailed the seven seas. A restaurant opened.

His grandparents bought the big wooden play structure for the son when he was 2. He loved climbing the slide, running up the ladders, swinging and driving with the steering wheel. When the daughter came along, she received the big plastic house and everything was utilized with enthusiasm.

When I called the hauler last week, I explained what needed to be taken, and said a little ruefully, "The kid it was purchased for is applying to college, so I guess it's time for it to go."

It had become what is known in the business as "an attractive nuisance." We found that visitors with young kids tended to assume that it was safe to leave their little ones unattended to play, and more than once, my heart caught in my throat when I found very small unsupervised tots hanging from it. We didn't have playground quality padding down there.

It was full of spiders.

I was surprised to learn that my children are more grieved that I am having the olive tree removed next month than they were that the play structure is no more.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

19 September 2011

Earth science


Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth
American Museum of Natural History
New York, New York
3 August 2011

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

18 September 2011

La toilette


Orange County, California
18 September 2011

I'm the first to acknowledge the quality of the photo is terrible. I was shooting through a screen door. But the circumstances were hilarious. The Cooper's hawk is becoming ever more comfortable in the yard. Today, it spent a good 10 to 15 minutes bathing--a first--and even dived in and looked to be enjoying bobbing around like a duck.


For the sake of scale, two hummingbirds bathing.

I guess I need a bigger fountain.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

16 September 2011

What goes up


Ferris wheel
Irvine, California
16 September 2011

The daughter has always had a thing about Ferris wheels, always loved going up on them. I, naturally, do not care for heights, but somehow always ended up on them with her. One year we went to the fair, and memorably, she was giggling her way through our ride on the baby wheel, when suddenly it stopped with us at the very top. I sat there and tried to concentrate on the pretty lights in the night, peered down at Chuck Berry performing on the stage adjacent to the rides, and generally tried to pretend that I was not 100 feet above the ground.

A few years back, she coerced me into a ride on this monster. Fortunately, it scared the bejesus out of her.

(I sat with my eyes closed the entire ride.)

Since then, every time we see it, she shudders delicately and murmurs something that sounds vaguely like, "Never again."

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. Yes! That Chuck Berry. I watched him from the top of a freaking Ferris wheel.

14 September 2011

Sprite


Sprite
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York
4 August 2011

I've long had a fondness for Frank Lloyd Wright, though more for the design aesthetic and his decorative pieces than for the architecture itself. Clocks? Sprites? Stained glass windows? Bring it on!

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

12 September 2011

Cherubic


Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York
4 August 2011

I tend to "see" books as I read them and frequently take away a very strong mental image of what a house or landscape looks like, rightly or wrongly. In many ways, the writer Shirley Jackson was a very visual writer, and when I saw this paneling, I thought immediately of The Haunting of Hill House, a novel that I still read with a nod to the first images my teenage brain put upon it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

11 September 2011

Vigilant


Milton
9 September 2011

I caught sight of the blimp wandering the northwestern sky, and wondered if I could get a photo. Milton sat in the son's window and worried. He asked me a question in a very small voice: had I possibly forgotten that it was almost his dinner time?

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40, ambient light.

08 September 2011

Interloper


Olivier
8 September 2011

I was working indoors and I could hear the crows in our huge Italian stone pine raising the roof. Finally, I got curious enough to go investigate what was setting them off since it wasn't immediately obvious.

From the laundry room window, I caught sight of Olivier, the neighborhood Gentleman Cat About Town. Except he's not much of a gentleman, more of a bully. But he was basking peacefully in my vegetable garden (bare of vegetables, of course. Gardening hasn't been something I've been able to do much), nibbling at grasses and enjoying the sun.

Milton, naturally, loathes Olivier. They are about the same age, and when Olivier was a young half-grown kitten, another neighbor and I cared for him as best we could until a third neighbor decided to adopt him. So, Milton has always seen Olivier as an interloper and begrudged him every kibble I ever gave him. Of course, that Olivier tried to beat him up (Milton won) and frequently beat up Milton's friend Max, didn't sit particularly well with my feline, either.

None of this stops Olivier from romping around my yard. Milton generally sits behind the french doors or the laundry room window, performing the Dance of Rage.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. Olivier does retain some vestigial memory that I once took care of him. He will roll on the ground when he sees me, singing love songs in his terrible rasping voice. Today, he did ecstatic figure eights around my ankles.

07 September 2011

Peace eternal in a nation united


Gettysburg National Military Park
Adams County, Pennsylvania
25 July 2011

I'm sure they believed it. After the sort of hell that the Civil War engendered, I'm sure they were determined to make it so.

These days, unfortunately, we are seeing the crazy crawl out of the woodwork. And make no mistake, they are crazy. But their presence in this leaderless vacuum is all too understandable, if completely undesirable.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

06 September 2011

Arachne


Orb weaver
9 August 2011

I shot this at night, and sadly, she's pretty washed out. I came within inches of walking right into the web, which was at least a foot in diameter. We see a lot of these this time of year, but usually they don't start getting really significant in size until around October. I've seen some that look like they could take out a bird. Yeah, they are a little...er, spidery...but their webs tend to be magnificent.

So, maybe this Christmas' lens will be a macro lens...

(No, it won't, but I can dream, right? Do I even dare admit that I'm starting to think about moving up to a D700? And no, that won't happen until I learn some more.)

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.

03 September 2011

I can haz...?


Milton
3 September 2011

I was trying to simultaneously eat my breakfast and update the daughter's computer when Milton decided he might enjoy sharing my breakfast.

Cats.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.

02 September 2011

Like a hawk


2 September 2011

It sat there for a time, quietly, tracking the movement of butterflies and moths with some interest. Unusually, it had its back to the windows; generally all the birds prefer to sit on the left side of the fountain so they can track what we're doing.

Eventually, apparently satisfied that there was no threat, it bobbed its head under the water, sending an arc of spray into the air. It drank, then ducked its head once again. In moments, it was dancing along the fountain edge, splashing its wings, waggling its tail. It was not disturbed when I closed the laundry room window.

It was gone when I returned later, but the water level in the fountain was noticeably lower.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40.