Sunday, September 30, 2012

Another Scavenger Hunt…

The last day of September already.  The year has flown by and so has this past week.  But I did get something together for the Scavenger Hunt.  The prompts are yellow, getting ready, bright, teeny tiny and connections.  Here you go…

YELLOW:  That’s kind of an easy one this time of year in Massachusetts.

GETTING READY:  We are leaving later this week for a trip to the Almalfi Coast in Italy.  I am definitely not ready at all but I do have a couple of books and my passport.  It’s a step in the right direction.

BRIGHT:  I was wandering around the other day and I noticed the sun on a bunch of ferns.  The light seemed to pick out this one particular frond.  I love that.  It brightened my day.

TEENY TINY:  The seeds on a burning bush are teeny tiny.  That does not hamper them from spreading themselves all over the place.  This is a non-native, invasive species in Massachusetts and if you aren’t careful, they get to be a bit insidious.  Beautiful though they are…that’s not a good thing.

CONNECTIONS:  We live in a wired world these days and through the wires we make lots of connections.  Sometimes it seems like a bad thing but mostly I feel like it has made the world a smaller place.  I am hoping these connections will some day help us to learn to live together as friends and to accept our differences as part of the wonder of the world.
Here’s an aside that I found amusing in this really pretty awful photo of my very messy desk.  I didn’t notice it until I was editing this picture.  My phone says “Barb Fully Charged.”  If you knew me at all, you would laugh, because I have never been accused of being “fully charged” by any one.  I tend to be more “partly charged” or “in need of a charge.”  I figure that's why there is coffee in the world.  Oh, well….


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The best time to yarn bomb your pug and other stuff…

Last week when I went out to go to Skinner Mountain with my kids, we found ourselves having the opportunity to sit and talk because Skinner Mountain was closed.  To find out the story about that, you can click HERE.  In any case, while we were sitting and talking, the subject of yarn bombing came up.  It seems that Carrie has a friend who has been complicit in some yarn bombings.  If you are unfamiliar with yarn bombing, here’s how Wikipedia defines it:  a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk. 

Well, I had the idea that I would like to yarn bomb my pug, Olive.  So the next couple of nights using my yarn scraps, I worked on a bomb for the dog.  Here’s what I learned:  The best time to yarn bomb your pug is just after waking her up from a nap.  She is much more compliant and easier to bomb at that time than when she is totally conscious and aware.  Here’s how a yarn bombed pug looks.

Something else happened to me this week that made me happy.  I had to take my car in to the dealer for a part.  They told me to expect to be there between two and two and a half hours.  I was prepared for that.  I had my NOOK and a new book to start.  But I was having a hard time concentrating because they had a television in there that was tuned into some inane talk show and it was on very loud.  I was just about getting annoyed when the guy who checked me in came out and said, “Hey, Barbara, I have bad news and good news.”  The bad news was that they were probably going to take longer than two and a half hours and the good news was that they had a car that they would let me take home and would call me when my car was ready.  That WAS good news and I jumped at the chance.  Not literally, but I did sign all the paperwork etc.  So I got to drive home in a Scion IQ.  It’s a small car but I  found I really liked it.  It’s plenty roomy in the front and since it was just me, it was plenty comfortable.  The only thing disconcerting about it to me is how close the cars were behind me when I had to stop at a stop light.  But I was very pleased not to have to sit at the dealership for what turned out to be a little over three hours.  Here’s what a Scion IQ looks like.

Another thing that has made me happy all summer is the fact that there are bunnies around here in abundance.  We have years where there are no bunnies around because we have Fisher Cats around now and then.  If you’ve never heard of a Fisher,here’s the Wiki on them.  They are mean and nasty creatures that are not related to cats and apparently don't like fish much.  When they are around they wipe out the small animal population.  They don’t seem to like the taste of squirrel however.  Go figure.  I have seen a bunny almost every day this summer.  This one was feasting in our front yard.

I hope you all are having a good week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hadley barn…

The other day when the kids and I were trying to go to Skinner Mountain, we ended up having an ice cream at an ice cream stand instead.  Across the street from the ice cream stand was this nice tobacco barn.  So the trip wasn’t a complete waste after all.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday once again…

We have had such beautiful weather here in central Massachusetts this past week that it wasn’t hard to get inspired.  Here are the prompts for this Scavenger Hunt Sunday:  cracked, fallen, ordinary color, bokeh and fence.  And here are my entries for this week…

Cracked:  What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word cracked?  My first thought is of an egg so that’s what I took.

Fallen:  Fall is just starting to fall around here.  Here’s an early fallen leaf that I found on our outdoor furniture.

Ordinary Color:  I wasn’t sure what this prompt meant, but when I was wandering around looking for fallen leaves, I saw that our little daylily decided to bloom again.  It’s an ordinary color.

Bokeh:  Those of you who aren’t into photography, might not know what “bokeh” means.  Here’s the definition:  Bokeh simply means fuzzy or out of focus. It is used to refer to the effect of shallow depth of field that creates a pleasing blur of color behind the subject.

Fence:  I guess this is really a wall but isn’t a wall just a really substantial fence?


Saturday, September 22, 2012

The best laid plans are interrupted by metal thieves…

Yesterday, both of my kids were available for an outing.  We planned to go to Hadley, Massachusetts to the Skinner State Park because I had heard that on the top of Skinner Mountain there are excellent views of the Connecticut River Valley.  That sounded like a nice photographic opportunity to me.

So Evan and I went to Northampton to pick up Carrie and off we went.  When we got to the turn to go up the hill to the park, there was a Ranger waiting out in the road.  He told us that there had been “an incident”, the park was closed and we should come back in an hour.  Of course, that got our imaginations working.   Was it a car accident?  A UFO landing?  Carrie was sure someone had been mauled by a bear.  What else could it be?? 

We took the Rangers word for it and found an ice cream stand and enjoyed a soft serve, sat around and talked and then we went back.  There was a different Ranger standing there at that point who said it would probably be another 30 to 45 minutes and to come back then.  Well, unfortunately, we couldn’t wait around all day and we decided to go up the mountain on another day.

We headed back to Northampton, dropped Carrie off and headed for home.  We were informed later that evening by Carrie that it wasn’t a car accident or a bear mauling but a couple of metal thieves who got caught stealing copper tubing and such out of a guy’s house.  The homeowner caught the robbers in mid-thievery and being caught, the robbers did what any reasonable robber would do.  They ran over to the state park to mess up our plans. 

They eventually caught these guys but it wasn’t until another couple of hours after we decided to call it a day.  Well, looking at the bright side, I got to spend an absolutely beautiful day with my kids and got a nice soft serve ice cream cone to boot.  Skinner Mountain will still be there next week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Life and Times of Olive the Pug…

Even a dog that is careful about where she goes and what she does gets dirty.  Such is the case with Olive, the pug.  We stood eau d’pug  for a few days.  Then it was into the sink for her to get cleaned up. 

Normally, Olive hates the process of having a bath but I think this time she actually enjoyed it.  She was probably thinking about how much she hates going to the Bark n’ Bubble (although they do a very nice job and are quite nice to her) so she was glad to get her do done at home.

Feeling a little skeptical...

Happy to be a pleasant dog...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Hunt for Sunday…

I was actually ahead of the game this week.  I have all my selections ready for this week’s Scavenger Hunt.  The prompts are kiss, askew, fragrant, simple and plant.  And here’s what I have:

Kiss:  My favorites…dark chocolate.

Askew:  I don’t mind if the sign is askew as long as the pizza isn’t.

Fragrant:  These next two are interchangeable.



Friday, September 14, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cruising the Brookfields…

I am part of the team from our church (The Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church) that is working to find a new settled minister.  We had a wonderful minister for eleven years, Rev. Sara Ascher, but about a year and a half ago, she announced that she was leaving for another ministry.  We were just grateful to have had her as long as we did as she served us very well, but most of us realized that it was the right time for a change.  So for a while now, our search team has been doing the work of finding a new minister. 

As it happens in our denomination (and in others, I imagine), we present ourselves and our church in a packet of information that goes out to interested candidates.  One of the things we want to show is the nature of the area that this new minister is going to serve.  We live in a rural part of Massachusetts and the church is located in the town of Brookfield, a town with one gas station, a couple of liquor stores, a terrific natural food store, one of the last REAL video stores in the Commonwealth and little else besides people.  I am sure that Brookfield natives and residents would be glad to point out more of the town’s assets and charms because it is a very charming town.  It is the birthplace of Elsie the Cow.  If you are of an age, you might just remember her.

In any case, as I said, part of the packet will be showing the candidates what the area is like.  So with that in mind, I went out yesterday to take some photos of the Brookfields.  There are four, by the way:  Brookfield, East Brookfield, North Brookfield and West Brookfield.

My first stop was in East Brookfield.  East Brookfield, incorporated in 1920, happens to be the youngest town in the Commonwealth.   It has a population of a little over 2,000 people and is the birthplace of Connie Mack.  You might have heard of him if you are a baseball fan.  On Main Street in the middle of town is Lake Lashaway and that’s what I decided to picture.  But on Sunday nights, Dunny’s Tavern on Main Street has a fantastic live Blues Jam and some of the best live music in the area.  I know.  I’ve been there a few times and have enjoyed the music and a Guinness or two.

Next I went off to North Brookfield.  This town was settled in the 1600s but officially broke off from Brookfield and was incorporated as a town in 1812.  I took a few photos of North Brookfield's venerable Town Hall all spiffed up for the bi-centennial.  North Brookfield is a little over twice as populous as East Brookfield.  George M. Cohan used to summer there with his grandparents. 

Then I headed to West Brookfield.  This town, which split from Brookfield in 1848, is said to be the birthplace of asparagus in the New World.  Hey, I don’t know about you but that’s a pretty nice legacy in my book.  There is an Asparagus Festival there every year that I have yet to manage to get to as we are usually either busy or out of town when it happens.  But one of these years I will make it and will take my camera.  On the beautiful, large West Brookfield Common stands the Rice Fountain.  I have stopped to photograph this fountain a few times.  Right now, it looks as though it is being restored or at least that they may be planning to restore it and someone has decided that the main figure at the top of the fountain needs to be wearing a few more clothes.  I am also including a photo of the bottom figures that I took a few years ago when the fountain was operational.   Right now, the figure on the left is wearing a string of pearls.  Go figure.

Lastly, I stopped in Brookfield.  Here’s a photo of our church, The Brookfield Unitarian Universalist Church, aka “The Little Stone Church that Rocks.”  This particular building was built in 1912 so we are celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the building but not of the church, which actually has roots all the way back to 1675.  The previous church building, which was a standard white clapboard church typical of New England churches, burnt down when struck by lightning in 1911.  My thought is that the members decided that was never going to happen again and they built this church made of Monson Granite.  Stone churches may not easily burn but they do wear out and that is why the building is looking a little raggedy at the moment.  It needs some work and unlike churches made of wood, the repairs are extensive and very expensive…oh, well.  Though our mortar may be a bit on the crumbly side, we still rock.

And that is what I did yesterday.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Feeling black and white…

I’ve been sitting at this computer most of today trying to get things ready for a meeting I have to go to tomorrow evening.  It’s true I should have done most of the work in the month since our last meeting, but I guess it’s a fact that I would rather mess with my photos and photo accessories than to do actual work.  So here I have been getting stuff done at the last minute.  I must admit to being pretty sick of looking at my computer screen.

Not only that, but pug Olive is staring out me with the most pitiful look.  It is past her dinner time and Greg isn’t home to feed her.  It is up to me to rescue my dog from the depths of despair, which she reaches every day about this time.  She is positive no one will remember to feed her and she will have to try to figure out how to open the food door herself.  Believe me, she much prefers to have her servants to do it for her.

Okay, enough said.  I am going to post a couple of black and white photos that I have been working on this week.  I know in advance that I won’t have time for the Scavenger Hunt tomorrow.  Bah!  Life is getting in the way of my photography.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

The life and times of Olive the pug…

It was just beautiful here last Friday night.   So Greg and I loaded up our golf cart for a ride down to our beach to share some time with our neighbors and friends.  To say that this is Olive’s very most favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is to understate how much she loves these jaunts and looks forward to them.  She can barely contain herself when she sees us making preparations to go.

For some odd reason, last Friday we were the first of our group to show up.  So Olive jumped up on the picnic table to see what kind of treat we brought along to eat.  I hadn’t had a chance to prepare anything good and brought along a bag of pretzels with some special mustard as a dip.  Olive stared at the bag in disbelief.  She knows that we know that dogs don’t like pretzels.

She decided to let Greg know she wasn’t happy about it.

But all that was soon forgotten because her favorite buddy Buddy showed up.  Buddy is about the best tempered dog I’ve ever met and a fine example of what a great idea it is to look to the local shelter for a canine companion.

They soon took off like two dogs shot out of a cannon.  When we finally packed up to go home, Olive wasn’t really sure she wanted to go until she saw that Buddy was leaving too.  That night in bed, her snores were extra loud.  Now and then she would give a little bark and her pint sized legs were moving to beat the band.  I’m sure she was running on the beach with Buddy in her dreams.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A tobacco barn…

Before we moved to these parts, I always thought of tobacco as a crop grown in the southern United States.  Therefore, it was a surprise to me when I found out that the long narrow windowless barns that are seen near Bradley (Hartford, Connecticut) Airport are tobacco barns.  Apparently, there are quite a few farms in the Connecticut River Valley that grow and dry tobacco that is used in cigar wrapping. 

I have been on the lookout for a good one to photograph for some time now.  And yesterday on our way home from a holiday cook out, Greg and I hit the jackpot.  Here are some pictures of this very interesting barn we found near Northampton, Massachusetts.  Believe me, I am no fan of tobacco and tobacco related products, but I find these barns quite beautiful and endlessly fascinating.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to the hunt…

Wow!  That week went by in a big, fat hurry.  Here it is Sunday again and time for the Scavenger Hunt.  This week’s prompts were toys, candid, any of the five senses, batteries and half.  And here’s what I came up with:

TOYS:  What is that thing people say about boys and the size of their toys? Well, this is one of my husband Greg’s latest toys.


ANY OF THE FIVE SENSES:  How about smell and taste?

BATTERIES:  Boy, this one was tough and I didn’t do very well with it.  These are the batteries in our golf cart.  Greg offered to pose as if he were beating up my son Evan (which he would never do in real life, believe me) to show assault and battery but I opted for the less violent version.

HALF:  I got the idea for this photo from Wolf Shadow Photography that I like on facebook.  This photographer is extraordinary when it comes to photographing dogs.  I admire her work so much that I can’t praise it enough.  If you like dogs and like photography, like Wolf Shadow Photography on facebook.  You won’t be disappointed.

Linking to Ashley Sisk's  Scavenger Hunt Sunday.