Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bloggin on my Belly!

This is SO fun!

I'm on the living room floor. Laying on my belly. Dog by my side. Playing with a new toy I found on the iMac... Photo Booth!

Remember those little kiosks at the mall that would take 4 pictures of you and your friends then instantly print them out for you to take home? My computer has that, only better! You can take pix, then play around with special effects...
... So I did!

Sepia Me
Me, in colored pencil
Thermal Me (kinda chilly out tonight)
Two heads are better than one!
I am the great and powerful OZ!

What a great way to waste a couple hours... no, no, not waste, create! This was fun. Hope you enjoyed this crazy photo set.

All about Books

I need to get my thoughts down about Possession by A.S. Byatt soon...
Why not now?
Hmm... not ready.

Oh, but I can decide on criteria/format for what I want to put into my "reviews"... or maybe brainstorm what I want to include. I plan to visit some other blogs that talk books and see what these folks say.

1. Ratings
I'm not sure I want to put a numerical rating on the books I blog about. At book club we do. We rate books from 1 to 5 (5 being the best). We do this before any discussion of the book and many times my attitude towards it changes from the start of the meeting to the end. I'll be sure to include things that I liked/disliked. For example, were there themes, characters, writing styles I want to make note of? (I'm thinking particularly of Possession right now.)

2. A brief synopsis/summary
This will help me remember what the story is about - for future reference.

3. Feelings/Impressions
I see this as a kind of "catch all" for those random things that I want to say (or remember) about certain books. I suspect this will be where I would note if I would recommend this book to others... or not.

I think this is all, for now. My criteria might change after I take a look at other sites with write-ups about books.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ya learn something new everyday...

Over the past few weeks (months?) I've had the chance to visit a number of other blogs through the 12-of-12 project, visiting the sites of crafty-people like my new friend, Elizabeth, and clicking on the "Next Blog" link on Blogger. Some of these sites are wildly creative! Often, I would ask "how'd he/she do that?" then wonder if I could do it, too.

I was feeling lazy after work today, so I figured I'd poke around on Blogger to see what's what and how I could improve my stuff.

First thing I did was consolidate my blogs. I had this one and one other which was dedicated to reviews/comments/thoughts about Podcasts to which I subscribe. I haven't posted to this blog in months and was feeling disconnected from it. I didn't want it any more, but didn't want to lose my entries. So, I imported it here! It fits nicely with the randomness of these entries and my old posts are saved.

I've also been toying with the idea of adding another type of entry to ASFoS... book "reviews". I'm part of a book club (and the keeper of its blog - here) as well as an avid reader. This month I am leading the discussion about the book Possession by A.S. Byatt - an incredibly intense book filled with literary references. I have a million thoughts about this book and would like to write them down in a place where I can reference them later. Why not here?

Second thing I noticed was that many folks use Labels to tag entries so that people can access entries that relate to a single subject or content area. What a great idea!! So, I poked around in my account to find out how I could add these labels. And, as you can see... I did it! As soon as I start adding my book stuff, I can label those, too, and reference them at ease at a later time.

I'm pretty happy with these new additions - it feeds the "continuous improvement" side of my personality. I also love learning new stuff.... it's fun! Hooray for brain expansion.

... now off to watch some TV. ;)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bye bye big beech

Remember that huge tree I mentioned in my last post? Well, if came down today (with help).

Four amazing guys from Specialized Tree Service came out this morning and helped "put down" the big beech tree. Mike, the owner of STS, told me this was a very tricky (and risky) tree to take down. The break in the tree was up about 30 feet, with about 60+ feet (and almost 4000 pounds) of branch/trunk waiting to fall.

Seems, too, it wasn't struck by lightning. The storm was strong enough that it pushed the tree around so much that the stress was overpowering and one side broke at the crotch (where the tree split into two "branches"). It probably wouldn't have been that big 'a deal if there weren't power lines right in the trees path if it fell. But we also had to consider that 4000 pounds of tree is seriously dangerous to anyone (humans/dogs/other animals) who might be around if it did fall.

Felling this tree was so systematic. Nothing was left to chance and these guys put it down exactly where they wanted to. Before making a move they played the "what if" game to determine the best course of action. In the end, the tree came down in mere moments, all piled up on itself with no one hurt and nothing getting damaged.

To see my full set of photos, click here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

12-of-12: August 2009

It's that time again... time for the August 2009 12-of-12. Created by Chad Darnell, the 12-of-12 is a photo project where participants post 12 photos from their day on the 12th day of each month.

I was a little worried that I wouldn't find anything fun to shoot today since today was a work-day. SO... I got a little creative in my routing and took a few minor detours to get some shots from the more interesting parts of the Finger Lakes (in Central New York). I'm posting the pix within the blog this time, so there's no separate link to get to them (and I can add more stuff about each shot).

BTW, I ended up with 54 pictures from today. I didn't realize I took that many. Paring it down to 12 was tough.

I started the day in Geneva, NY. This town sits at the "top" of Seneca Lake and is considered to be in the heart of the Finger Lakes region.
- A friend of mine who grew up in Geneva describes it as the "middle finger" because if you look at the hand print-like layout of the lakes, Seneca is exactly where your middle finger would be.

At lunch, I visited two parks that provide views and access to the Lake. It was a bit overcast, so the pictures aren't as dramatic as I would usually hope to achieve.

The weather was warm, hovering around 80-degrees, and humid. (The weather has been rather volatile this summer - a number of intense thunder storms and rain on almost a daily basis).

A woman at the park was sharing her lunch with the seagulls - I interrupted their meal on my way back to the car and couldn't help snap this shot with everything lining up so perfectly. Catching one in flight made it even better.

Before my lunchtime was over, I made a quick stop at the Geneva Farm Market & Fruit Outlet. I could have spent A LOT more time here, but limited myself to the essentials... apricots and plums (oh, and apples and honey). I will be making jam in this week out of these little sweeties. Apricot is, hands down, my favorite jam with red plum coming in close behind... great fruit flavor, tart but sweet. YUMMMMMM!


On to Canandaigua! This town is just "down the road" from Geneva on Rts 5&20 and sits at the top of Canandaigua Lake. The picture above was taken during a short break I had before heading on to the next town. You wouldn't know it from the photo, but we didn't have a whole lot of blue sky today.

To get to my next stop, in Honeoye (giving you lots of practice with Native American Names today, aren't I?) I traveled up Main Street in historic Canandaigua. These are just two of the amazing, well manicured homes I passed along the way.

I wasn't expecting to stop in Bristol... but I just HAD to when I saw this view. Pretty amazing having such expansive farming areas just outside of this quaint little town.

I thought I was going to get rained on in Honeoye, NY. The clouds were thick and the sky was much darker than it was just a few miles ago.

This is a shot of, what else? Honeoye Lake.

I drove half-way down the road that follows the lake to find a place that wasn't marked "Private Property - No Trespassing" where I could get a picture of this lake. I was almost ready to give up when I saw the "Sandy Bottom Park & Nature Trail." This is where I was able to catch this view of the northeast corner of the Lake.

My last stop of the day was in Lakeville/Livonia, NY. Here, there is a great little park called Vitale Park (named for the donors who made the park possible), you can picnic, swim, park your boat and just enjoy being near the water. I took a number of pictures here, but whittled them down to two to stay within the 12-of-12 guidelines.

These two gulls were just begging to have their picture taken.

Looming above Lakeville were some pretty puffy clouds. Not sure if they'll bring rain today or just make some amazing designs in the sky.

If it wasn't getting late (almost 5pm), I would have stayed to make cloud animals out of what I saw.

What does this cloud look like to you?

Almost 6pm:

So, finally, I'm in the "home stretch"... within an hour from home and passing by one of my favorite places... an area where I am always amazed - The Weathersfield Wind Farms!

The pictures don't do these incredible machines any justice. They are IMMENSE - 265 feet tall with three 120-foot blades. Each of the 1.5 megawatt turbines can generate about 4.3 million kilowatt-hours a year — enough clean energy for about 500 homes.

I can't help but get all Sci-Fi when I drive through this area. It's simultaneously a little 'War of the Worlds' creepy and walking on the moon amazing.

So, that's my day... a lot more FUN than I expected it would be. Glad I challenged myself to make a 12-of-12 set on this Wednesday work-day.

See ya next month!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A day (almost 2) without power

It's been a wild couple of weather-days these last few....

I rented a movie Friday to watch Saturday afternoon because the weather guy said we were going to have some pretty intense rain starting then. I was kind of looking forward to it... watching a movie in the rain. The movie was Possession (2002) - half "homework" (we're reading the book for book club - I'm leading the discussion), half romantic Chick-flick (something I don't watch very often).

Saturday started out just beautiful... went for a nice long hike in Chestnut Ridge, then came home to await the storm. We didn't get much. Honestly, I don't even think it rained Saturday... if it did, it was in the evening and minimal.

Sunday afternoon was a COMPLETELY different story.

We were hanging out, doing lazy-Sunday stuff. The morning was nice - warm - but promising high humidity and not much sun-bathing sun. It was somewhere between 1pm and 2pm when the sky got dark - quick. Rain started to fall, so we closed the necessary windows to keep the rain out and went on with our day.

Now, I've never experienced a hurricane before. And after Sunday I hope I never do. There was such wicked wind and heavy rain I was worried that parts of the house would be torn off. At one point, the wind moved one of the windows (it was almost all the way closed, then popped open a bit with a wind gust). Windows were closed and locked after that.

That's when we lost power for the first time.

4:55pm, back to normal - power is back on.

Sticks, large branches, leaves everywhere. Water getting into the basement from a pool forming at the man-door. Guess we need to dig a trench sometime soon.
We checked the weather report to see if the storm was gone and noticed band #2 was coming... would hit this evening sometime. We saw LOTS of red... kind-of like this (tho there were TWO strings of red rain storms for us:
That night, it was time to relax and watch a movie. Popped it in around 9pm and were joined by more rain. This time, there was quite a light show to go along with it.

You know how you can estimate how close/far lightening is from you by counting the space between the flash and the thunder? We were doing that most of the night. About 20 minutes before we lost power for the 2nd time that day, we had a flash-BOOM right outside our window. "Whoa, that was close". We didn't know HOW close till Monday afternoon.

10:30pm - calling the power company again. Something knocked out the power. Again. Hmmm, wonder if it will be back on in time to goto work tomorrow (Monday).

Funny how your day gets messed up with something as "small" as having electricity. Waking up Monday was easy - we set the alarm on the cell phone. But then what?
- Can't make coffee... even if we could boil water (we have a camp stove), we couldn't grind the beans (yes... coffee snobs!)
- Could shower and get cleaned-up for work, but can't blow-dry my hair.
- Until this weekend, I didn't know how to get the garage door open without the electric door opener.
- Can't turn on lights when you go into the basement or closet - something that I did EVERY time I walked into a room. It got to a point when I would just laugh as I got near a light switch because I'm so used to flipping them.
Oh yeah... one more thing...
- NO INTERNET! No e-mail, no, no FaceBook... NOTHING! Aaarrrrrrrrhhhhh! I'm totally disconnected.

Being without the computer was very odd. Not only were we disconnected, but we play games on the iMac, upload photos, watch movies... it's an integral part of our lives. If it wasn't so hot & humid yesterday, we might have gotten more done around the house since we couldn't compute.

To add to the craziness of Monday, while on our way home from breakfast, we get a call from Mom G. Her basement is flooded (2-3 inches across the whole basement floor).... can we help, she can't get a hold of Dad. Dogs and all, we head over there to help fix the sump-pump and clean/toss out the soggy stuff in the basement. I was happy to help - what else were we gonna do??? Couldn't do much at our place. Might as well try to be of use to them.

Got home around 3pm. Still no power and dead-tired. A cup of coffee and a small egg/croissant is not enough for someone who road her bike for 30 minutes that morning, then helped move/package/trash basement stuff for 2-hours while standing in the sun. I needed to relax and get some food.

I relaxed for a bit by sitting on the deck watching the birds. We have a couple female humming birds who fight for our feeder. They're pretty bold and don't really mind if you're around when they come to eat. I chose a chair close to the feeder to see if I could catch a photo of one when I noticed the tree.

Remember that flash-BOOM I mentioned earlier? Well, I found what was hit. There's a large beach tree about 30-feet from our house. It's large... 100 feet tall, maybe? At least 75, I would guess. Half-way up the tree makes a V. One half of the V is now leaning on some other trees (pointing away from the house) ready to fall at the next heavy wind/rain/snowfall. It will likely hit the power line that's near it when it does fall. (Yay! More loss of power!) Called the Electric Co. to alert them to the situation. They thanked us, but couldn't do much just then - they had far more urgent matters to attend to (like the 2000 people currently without power or these poor people in Springville who had a tree fall on their house).

The rest of the day was rather uneventful. Told our neighbor about the tree (it's on the border of their property, too). Went for ice cream (dogs had a baby vanilla soft-serve cone, one each). Read and got ready for bed. I was just about asleep when I heard the whirrrrrr of the A/C fan kick on and saw the blades of the ceiling fan moving again. It's back! HOORAY!

We set the clocks and went to bed. We kept the cell phone alarms on, too.... just in case. Wonder what wicked weather we're in for next.
Oohhhh... tomorrow! Challenging myself to finding some good shots on a work-day. Maybe an attempt at black-n-white??? Depends on the weather, I think.