Saturday, November 30, 2013

No kidding…

Sometimes as a family we find ourselves having pretty ludicrous conversations.  Yesterday at lunch, we found ourselves talking about what would happen if two different creatures of similar species managed to procreate together.  You know, like when a male donkey mates with a female horse.
  Eventually, out comes a mule.

How this conversation came about is that Carrie was trying to recall the acronym for remembering biological classifications.   And how that thread started, I can’t dredge out of my grey matter.  I would need more than acronym to summon that from the recesses.

Anyhow, the acronym for remembering biological classifications usually starts with the words “King Phillip.”  For example, King Philip Came Over For Good Soup (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.)  Another one Evan found on the Interweb was “King Philip Can Often Find Good Sex.”  King Philip was quite the guy, apparently, rather a randy gourmand.

So one thing led to another and we found ourselves wondering what would happen if a human mated with a chimpanzee, since chimps are our closest relatives in the animal world.  Apparently, according to some website or another, we Hales weren’t the first to think of that possibility and the offspring has been named even though it has not yet existed that we know of.  A Human/Chimpanzee is apparently going to be a Manpanzee once someone manages to get man and chimp together.  Then, letting our imaginations go wild, we decided that if Olive, the pug, fell in love with a chimp, she would have a Pugpanzee.  Personally, I think it is a good thing that Olive has been spayed.

We decided that though it would be very tall, the Giraffe/Human variation wouldn’t really make a good basketball player because they would be more neck than leg.  But we liked the name:  Girman.

Then there’s the Manoose, that is Man with Moose and the Manilla, that is Man with Gorilla.  One of those could also be called a Gorman.  My particular favorite is the Humantelope – Human and Antelope, of course.  And there’s the Mankey – Human and Monkey.

Oh!  (I almost forgot) the Humanatee!  That is the Human and the Manatee together at last.  Greg’s contribution.

Well, it’s a good thing we finished eating because it could go on and on and on…   But when you really think about it, we humans, as “intelligent” beings, will probably possess the ability to make some of those combinations possible in the future.  It will kind of make the question about what came first, the chicken or the egg, rather irrelevant.

But speaking of eggs, we got home on Wednesday afternoon to find a dozen eggs on our doormat, a gift from our neighbors the Caldwells who raise and nurture chickens.  We have some great neighbors of the purely human variety!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sharing the birds…

I had a busy weekend.  But it was blah and uneventful as far as my camera was concerned.  I took fewer than 100 photos, which may be an all time low for me.  But I manage to eke out two rather boring shots for my Flickr 365 so I was happy about that.

Yesterday afternoon I was involved in photography in a different way.  I helped my daughter Carrie frame her photos for an upcoming exhibit in Northampton, Massachusetts.  She and her fellow photographers from the Northampton Camera Club will have photos displayed at Historic Northampton in an exhibit called “Northampton as We See It” from December 12, 2013 to January 25, 2014.  Carrie’s photos are very good and I’m not saying that just because I’m her mother.  I think I will ask her to email me a couple to share with you all and you will see for yourselves what a talented daughter I have.

Meanwhile, the birds were super busy at the feeders today.  I think they were trying to keep themselves warm.  But I managed to shoot a few and will share them today.

It’s always nice when the Juncos come back for the winter and one sat in the bush and cooperated so nicely.

Personally, I think the beauty and understated elegance of the female cardinal is second to none.

And the chickadee is always fun to watch even if he is everywhere.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Life and Times of Olive the Pug: Visiting our NEIGHbors…

Earlier this week we got a nice break in the late fall weather.  The temperatures were in the 60s and the sun was shining bright.  I asked Olive if she would like to take a walk to see if the horses were around.  She said yes, of course.  So off we went.

When we got down to where the horses hang out, they were nowhere in sight.  I told a disappointed Olive that maybe they were eating their lunch or something and we continued on to the turtle pond.  I was surprised to hear creatures plopping into the water but I couldn’t tell if they were turtles or frogs.  That prompted me to make a mental note to find out what happens to turtles and frogs around here when the cold weather hits.  I don’t think I’ve ever known.  Olive and I stood around and admired the still water and the bright sunshine for a while and then turned around to head back home.  It does get dark around here pretty early these days.

As we walked pass the horse field once again, I noticed that one of them noticed us and began to run down the hill to say hi.  Of course, if one comes to say hi, the others follow along pretty quickly being pretty nosy and curious beings.  We hung around for a little while and while I patted some equine noses, Olive scraped around in the dirt to let them know that that side of the fence was theirs and this side of the fence belonged to pugs and their adoring public.

Then we said good-by and they watched us walk away as we headed for home.

Until next time...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Looking a little closer….

Autumn is winding down and most of the bright fall colors are gone.  The color scheme of brown and green is what I see out my window these days.  After the vibrant fall we had, these toned down colors can seem a bit dreary even on a bright and beautiful day like today.  But I know there are still intriguing things to find out there.  One just has to look a little closer.

Look and you might see delicate, gossamer milkweed seeds about to be released upon the wind.

Or gracefully twisted branches that were once hidden by foliage.

Or dried seed pods that make up their own bouquets where their flowers once stood.

Or the nice, bright sparkle of red berries.

Just look...

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Series of Unfortunate (Senior) Events…

Yesterday, Greg and I drove to church together.  It was Sunday, so that probably doesn’t sound so strange to you.  But in truth, we seldom ride together to church.  You see, Greg sings in the choir and on choir Sundays, he has to be there an hour and a half early so I come along later.  On other Sundays, sometimes he decides not to go or I decide not to go.  In total, we probably ride to church together four or five Sundays during the nine month church year.

But yesterday, we rode to Brookfield together.  We sat next to each other through a wonderful service and afterwards drifted over to coffee hour.  At coffee hours, Greg and I rarely talk to the same people at the same time.  Yesterday was no exception.  So, in the middle of a conversation, I glanced up to see Greg, in his coat, leaving the church.  “Look at that,” I said to the person I was talking to, “Greg forgot that we came to church together and he’s leaving.  I’d better go, too.”  Of course, it took another five minutes or so for me to say my goodbyes and to scoot out the door.

I looked down the street.  Sure enough, Greg’s car was gone.  I had to laugh. I mean, I didn’t blame him.  I figured he was on cruise control and just took off.  So I did the logical thing.  I got a ride home with Amy.

Once in Amy’s car, I gave Greg a call to tell him not to worry because I had gotten a ride home.  The call went directly to voice mail.  I put the phone away and chatted with Amy for a while.  All of a sudden I remembered that my phone was on mute because, duh!, we had been in church.  In those few minutes, I had missed a call from Greg who had missed my call because his phone was also on mute because, duh!, we had been in church.  However, he didn’t leave a message.  So about five minutes from our house, I called him back.  This time he answered.  I won’t tell you exactly what he said because your kids might read this, but long story short, he had gone to the package store to get a bottle of wine to take to our friends Rita and Michelle’s house.  We were invited there for brunch after church to see their new house, remember??

Greg came home and collected me.  We got to Rita and Michelle’s a little late but we got there.  Our friends Mary Ann and Rob, who were going to follow us to the house because they forgot to bring the directions, were already there having taken Greg’s directions with them.  Believe it or not, though I forgot I was going there, I had actually printed out the directions and had them with me.  Ultimately, we had no trouble finding the house.

Over brunch, as we were laughing about this Series of Unfortunate (Senior) Events, Rob confessed that he had seen me get into Amy’s car and drive away but didn’t think to stop me.  Greg neglected to tell me he was going over to the package store to get some wine.  And me, I just plain old forgot even though I had the printed directions on me.

We had a lovely brunch and got quite a few laughs out of our misadventures knowing that there are going to be plenty more of them in our futures.  In the end, it all worked out.  But you have to laugh, because, friends, if you can’t laugh about such things, what’s the use of going on?

Here's a photo of Rita's beautiful dog, Jessie, who is also a Senior and can sympathize.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Odds and Ends…

While we were out on our walk this morning, I promised Olive the pug that we would make some pumpkin oatmeal dog cookies later in the day if she would be willing to help out.  If I’m in the kitchen cooking, most likely Olive is sitting on her kitchen bed waiting for me to drop something good to eat on the floor.  Asking was really not necessary.  So this afternoon, we made the cookies and once they cooled down enough for her to try them, Olive gave them two paws up.

The finished product
Olive waiting patiently on her kitchen bed for the cookies to hurry up and cool down.
The other day when we were traveling down the road, we found ourselves in back of a car from Connecticut with a vanity plate that said “Booser.”  I was wondering if they actually meant “Boozer.”  When I pointed it out, Evan noticed that they had a license surround that claimed they were proud alumni of the University of Connecticut.  “That figures,” I said, being a proud resident of Massachusetts.  “No wonder they can’t spell.”   But then, I thought that no one who was an actual boozer would want to advertise that on their license plate so it must mean something else…like one who boos a lot.  Greg thought it must be a play on their name somehow, but I couldn’t think of a name that translates into a nickname Booser.  Boo Radley was the closest I could come up with.  What do you think?

I was having a hard time thinking of something for my Flickr 365 earlier this week and I was in Oxford, Massachusetts, near the cemetery where Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, is buried.  I decided to go take a picture of her headstone.  I’ve been there and I’ve done that before so it felt a little redundant.  Anyhow, long story short, the sun was not cooperating with me that day anyhow and I couldn’t get a good photo of the headstone.  But, I noticed that the shadows were so strong that I could get a picture of myself walking through the woods.

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Gentle Kiss...

Well, it’s not official or anything, but when I looked out the window this morning, I realized that autumn is over.  There was a dusting of snow on the ground.  I know I am in a very slim minority who finds this change thrilling.  I love the way the cold air hits my cheeks when I walk outside on a day like this.  The air feels clean and refreshing…the snow, even a little one like today, a new adventure.

I’m not a Pollyanna though.  I know what is coming.  Snow and ice can be dangerous, inconvenient and disturbing.  Just as extreme heat and summer storms can be dangerous, inconvenient and disturbing.  But it is the way things progress here in the northeast United States and this weather is as it should be.  We can rail against it, for all the good that does, or we can accept it as the natural order of things.

  Before we know it, it will pass as all things pass.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Things You See Along the Way: Into the Mystic…

My sister Susan, who lives in Ohio, travels on business.  This past week she was spending time in Connecticut and asked me if I had time to join her when she got to Mystic, which is about two hours from home for me.  Off I went on Thursday afternoon.

It was drizzly and cold here in Massachusetts when I traveled through the town of Southbridge on my way down to Mystic.  The traffic was heavy for some reason so I got a chance to take a good look at the old Unitarian church (circa 1841) that had recently been painted in a controversial color scheme.  An article in the local paper quoted one Southbridge resident as calling the paint job “cartoonish.”  On that dreary afternoon, I thought the building was a breath of fresh air.  What do you think?

Once I rolled into Mystic, Susan and I decided to play tourist and have dinner at Mystic Pizza.  I have very little recollection of the movie Mystic Pizza (Julia Roberts and Vincent D’onofrio) though I’d seen it years ago.  Even the big screen TVs hanging in the restaurant that constantly showed the movie did nothing to help jog my memory.  But, I enjoyed our meal and the conversation anyhow.

This is Susan.  She was getting over a bad sinus infection but looks good in spite of that.

The next morning Susan had to work so I was left to my own devices.  I decided to take a stroll through Mystic Seaport, a living museum depicting life in a New England seaport village in the 19th century.  But on the way, I passed an intriguing cemetery and took a bit of a detour.  Here are some pics from my day.

The masthead of the "Joseph Conrad"

After a few long gab session, I parted ways with Susan and took the long way home. It was great getting to spend some time with my sister who I don’t get to see all that often.

Here's my nomination for best named restaurant in Mystic.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chasing My White Whales…

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”
~Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Now and then, I join my daughter Carrie on a photo excursion.  Sometimes when we drive by something that she would like to take a good photo of but can’t manage to do it, she will say rather wistfully, “There goes my White Whale.”  I chuckle at that because I think we all channel Captain Ahab, now and then.  I certainly have my White Whales…my unattainable, enigmatic shots.

Two of mine are only about 4 or 5 miles from our house.  One is in an area of wetlands where the marsh grass grows in clumps very straight and even.  The grass snakes through the bog and when there is no breeze, it is reflected perfectly in the still water in front of it.  Some days when I pass that area and the light is hitting it just right, it looks like endless clusters of gold wires reflected in a pool of black oil and I can feel my shutter finger twitching.  The problem is that it is located on a very busy stretch of Route 20 and if my car and I survived even a short layover there, I would probably be arrested for stopping in such a dangerous area to indulge what others, who don’t understand the concept of the White Whale, might consider to be just a photographic itch.  Ah, sometimes I feel as misunderstood as Ahab.

My other nemesis is an old farmhouse that sits up a rise off another busy stretch of Route 20.  For years now, I’ve thought of Andrew Wyeth’s great painting “Christina’s World” whenever I’ve looked at it.  It seems to me that it has just been begging me to photograph it.  The few times I’ve had the opportunity, though, either the sun was in the wrong place or I just couldn’t get the right angle on it without trespassing or standing in the middle of Route 20 playing chicken with a semi-truck.  However, we drive past this house frequently so I think about it a lot.  A few weeks ago, to my great dismay, I noticed that the house was being disassembled.  Yes, it is being taken apart piece by piece.  Now my possibilities with that particular White Whale are gone.

I don’t suppose I should ever imagine that the world is going to stay the same day after day just waiting for me to come along with my camera whenever it happens to suit me.  Still, I am disappointed that I will never get another chance at that old farm house.  And truly, I’m not intrepid enough to even attempt a shot of the marsh grass.

Thar, I've blown my White Whales.

I’m sure you have them, too…that beautiful old barn on a busy highway, that noble old tree that has just been cut down, the fleeting bird or the look of total and complete joy or awe on the face of a loved one that comes and goes in the split second before you hit the damn shutter.

I will just have to keep forming photographs in my mind when I pass my White Whales and go fishing with a cheery and open mind for some other opportunity.  After all, I am not Ahab…not really.  To me, the world is full of possibilities and they aren't all white. I will never know all that may be coming.

An unfortunate attempt at capturing my White Whale:

The bones of my White Whale.  Here it is as it sits today:

A new impossible dream...capturing every last essence of fall:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Art of Random Clicking…

I remember when we got our first desktop computer.  It happened to be a Gateway computer.  Do you remember those?  It arrived at the door in a box with black and white cow-spots on it.  It was awesome!  Greg got it set up after a long and frustrating night and we were in business.  We weren’t on line yet, but we could play games and do word processing.  The world was our oyster.

A Christmas soon after we got the computer, Greg bought us the game Myst.  He and I were so caught up in it that we worked together to finish it off in a week or so spending many nights up to the wee hours.  I haven’t enjoyed a computer game so much since.  I remember though when I got frustrated with it, I would just click on the screen randomly until something or other happened.  And sometimes that opened the gateway to the next level.

These days, four or five computers later, I’m a little more precise with my clicks although I know I don’t really need to be.  I mean, I know that the random clicks I do aren’t going to erase anything or mess anything up that can’t be fixed.  I’ve even figured out how to retrieve an SD card full of pictures that I’ve accidently deleted when I’ve made the wrong click, which I’ve done on more than one occasion.  But even though I know how to do it, there is always that momentary second of sheer panic before I settle down and do what I need to get my stuff back.  Let’s face it, I still kind of sit in awe of the Machine and don’t try to test my limits with it too often.

However, I do get very frustrated when I can’t figure random stuff out.  Like when I couldn’t figure out how to answer people’s comments in an email.  So I am grateful for all of the advice I get from my Blogger friends.  Thanks!  I’ve got it going now.  Actually, it was a pretty simple fix.  And it is entirely possible that I could have figured it out myself if I had been practicing the art of random clicking.  But here’s the point, it would have been random and I probably wouldn’t have recalled what I did to make it act that way and sometimes that’s just as frustrating as not knowing.

Here's how I felt before yesterday:

Here's how I feel today:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Random 5 Friday...gobble, gobble...

1)  We were well prepared for Trick-or-Treat last night but only about a dozen kids came to our door.  It was a slow year.  We have a long driveway so I think that often our house is bypassed.  One year though, I thought I was prepared with a couple big bags of candy but ended up panicking and passing out granola bars to a few kids toward the end and turning out the lights early.  This year, I have lots of left-overs that, believe me, I don’t want.  Boo!  After some consideration, though, I think we are just in one of those in between years.  The older kids have finally decided that trick-or-treating is lame and the younger kids are just too young.

2)  I’m still smiling over the Red Sox win and hoping that will hold me over until Opening Day, which for the Red Sox is March 31, 2014.   Seems like a long way from now.

3)  I was sitting at my computer earlier today bemoaning the fact that it was a pretty nasty, dark, drizzly day out and it was going to be difficult for me to come up with something for my Flickr 365.  That sad fact called for another cup of coffee.  On my way down the stairs from my office a bit of movement in the front yard caught my eye.  The turkey family was on the move.  I got my camera and started shooting.
  My 365 for today…done and dusted.

4)  As I was going back to my computer with my coffee and my SD card loaded with turkeys, I noticed the frantic flying of the chickadees going back and forth from the bird feeder.  At that moment I realized that I am much more like a turkey than a chickadee.   I don’t mean like a turkey in the pejorative sense.  Wild turkeys are admirable birds.  But I do kind of lumber around like a turkey at a deliberate pace checking out all the stuff around me.   I don’t do anything at chickadee pace.  More turkey than chickadee, that’s me.  What kind of bird would describe you?

5)  Okay, I will admit to some lameness here.  I can’t figure out how to email people from my blog and have their response included in the email.  You know what I mean.  When it says:  “On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 1:52 PM, barbara l. hale <> wrote:” etc. etc.  What the heck?  How do you do it?  I love getting emails from y’all and I often want to answer someone who comments on my blog.  I’m not being a blog snob, believe me, it’s just one more thing I haven’t figured out yet.
  Maybe I really am a turkey in the pejorative sense.  Gobble, gobble...