Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Rewind

My sister, Miss Lee, putting on some lipstick while I stand in her tub trying to get the shot. The things I do for my class...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Street View

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Flockers are Growing

Either Peaches or Cream. I can't tell them apart unless they are standing next to each other.


Rocky in the foreground, Leia behind.

I believe this is Leia.

I just like their little tail feathers

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My first printing

So here's that picture I promised.

This is the first ever photo that I've taken where I've gone through the whole process from beginning to end.

I took it (obviously). I developed the negatives starting in the dark room and going through all the chemicals, agitations and timers. I made a contact sheet and then chose which photo to produce from that. Then (after many, many test strips) I got the right combination of time, aperture and filter. I enlarged the photo onto my paper and went through the chemical process of developer, stop-bath and fixer to produce the final product. So, recognizing that it's not some prize winning photo (cause I totally do recognize that), going through the process was so very, very amazingly cool. I feel like I did something, I didn't just push a button. So, yeah, totally loving film photography.

Also, I totally needed to straighten the negative out in the holder, whoops!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another Update Post

I can't believe I haven't posted anything in a week. What on earth have I been doing with my time? Well, we won't count today where I spent a good portion of my day looking up and watching Tim Hawkins videos and laughing my backside off. But mostly, I've been playing catch-up with life.

For instance, I finally got around to moving some plants into new pots this week. The pots we had all of our plants in had been falling apart for some time. They were those clay pots that apparently get weakened every time you water your plants. This starts by just leaving a little rust colored ring under the pot. It escalates to where little pieces are flaking off the pot. And it eventually ends up where large chunks are breaking off. So several weeks ago Mister C and I hit the home repair store and picked up some nice, environmentally unsound, fiberglass pots in colors not found in nature. We also bought some new soil in large bags that would tear open if I so much as looked at them. That weakness lasted right up to when I wanted to actually open them and get at the dirt, then the plastic would rebind itself and be nearly impossible to tear open. Anyway, two days of work later and I had moved all my previously potted plants to their new homes as well as moving the gladiolas and remaining calla lilies out of the garden that will soon be used for vegetables.

Mister C and I also finally got around to attending class to get our CCW license. This past Saturday we had Mamoo watch Master J while we spent five hours learning the rules and laws and practicing on the range. Which, by the way, was quite interesting. Because a few of the guys were pretty cocky when they got out there, until our instructor singled them out for their transgressions. Not to worry, he got after me as well, but at least I admit I'm no professional. But, there was a gal out there that was not in our class but was on the range with us that made me smile widely. We went up to shoot in groups of five and since there were eighteen of us in the class, there were four different relays. This lady was number six in each relay.

When we first got to the range I noticed this older gal up speaking with the instructor. She looked to be in her late sixties, maybe early seventies and probably eighty pounds soaking wet. Her dyed blond hair was piled on top of her head in a loose bun. She had red lacquered fingernails, full makeup and cat's eye sunglasses on. She was carrying a large, straw bag with her wallet, bottled water and whatever else it was she needed. Which in this case was her not so dainty weapon. Now, I don't know enough about guns to be able to identify what kind it was, I just know it was comparable in size and look to the one Mister C was using, which if I recall correctly is a 9mm glock. And man could this gal shoot. Since she was a part of each relay, she ended up firing sixty rounds. And I'm not joking when I tell you that not one of those rounds went anywhere except within one of the three target areas. Not one. Maybe she's a natural, although I'm sure she practices regularly to get that good. But however she does it, she was awesome to watch. She would be in a perfect stance, snapping her gum, he would blow the whistle, she would aim and fire. And it would be perfect. Man I love old ladies like this one!

The flockers are doing well. They're growing daily and feathering out nicely. They also have learned that when I greet them with "Hi girls, you want a snack?" there will be good stuff involved and so they come right over. While I don't think they'll ever be "pets", I do think good planning on my part will make removing their eggs a lot easier later I have no desire to have to fight my girls so I'd rather socialize them now while they're still babies.

Here's four of them in the snack bowl this morning.

My photography class has been really cool. I love the actual creation of pictures, it is amazing. I forgot my negatives at home the other night so I didn't get the chance to print out any pictures but hopefully I'll be able to do something tonight that I can post next time.

Finally, Mister C and I are taking an organic gardening class, which will be followed by a container gardening class. There's a ton of information to learn for us, and it's being presented pretty fast and furious. Hopefully between the two of us we'll get everything we need to get moving on our gardens.

I think that about wraps it up. Lots of stuff going on as well as lots of learning. So, it's all good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I've mentioned that I'm taking a black and white film photography class this semester that I'm really enjoying. Well last night we got an assignment to take a roll of photos at various times of day. We need the photos for Wednesday's class. One of the times of day he wants us to shoot is at high noon, or basically any time between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm when the sun is at it's highest and strongest. So I had this great idea that I would go to a nearby trail and hike so I could pictures of the sun on the rock outcroppings. Doesn't that sound great? I know, right? About 10:30 this morning I look at the thermometer sitting at 85 degrees and start thinking that maybe I should figure out someplace else to go photograph. But I can't think of anything that's appealing that I haven't already done. At 11:15 I get in my car with my camera bag and my water bottle and drive to the trail head. Before I get out, I check my car's thermometer and see the temps have risen slightly to 87 degrees. Not unbearable, yet. So I head out.

I haven't hiked in a good six months or better. And I'm pretty sure I've gained back most of what I'd lost the last time I was hiking. So, out of shape, overweight, haven't done anything in awhile, temps slightly uncomfortable and I'm carrying an extra ten pounds of gear on my back. Should be fun.

Now I have a methodology for hiking that gets me through most of the misery. It's a highly technical method called "don't look up." See, if I don't see how far I have to go, it's not so overwhelming. So I shuffle along looking at the ground directly in front of my feet and just take one step at a time. All I'm trying to do is get to one of the peaks in enough time to get some decent pictures. I will say that I didn't do as badly as I thought I would. But it wasn't pretty. Also, I didn't get passed by the normal train of people either. No kids, old people, morbidly obese, people on crutches or three legged dogs. Just a few people in reasonably good shape. So I didn't feel too badly.

Anyway, I got up to where I needed to be in plenty of time, took my pictures and headed back down. And would you believe that the downhill was actually worse? I think it's because the temperature had risen by that point and the sun was beating on my head. I hadn't had enough sense to wear the hat I keep in the car because when I started there was some cloud cover and I thought I would be fine. Not so much. At high noon there's absolutely no shade on the trail. I ended up stopping more frequently on the way down than I had on the way up. By the time I got to the bottom my brains were fried. Once I got into my car I cranked the ac and just sat there for a few minutes while I cooled off. The temperature had hit 91 by the time I got back to my car.

Obviously, for health reasons, I need to do this more often. Just a whole lot earlier in the day. And preferably without the extra ten pounds of cameras.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pulled in two directions

So I recognize that it's the ten years to the day after the attack on our home soil and the murder of thousands. But it's also my mom's sixty fifth birthday. Ten years ago I was sitting in my living room holding a six month old Master J watching in disbelief as the second plane hit the tower and then the ensuing collapse of both buildings. I didn't even remember until two days later that it had been my mom's birthday. Unfortunately for her, her birthday will now forever be tied to that horrible day. So while I believe it is so very important for us to not forget what happened to and to try and use it to make this country stronger in unity, I also want to make sure to give a shout out to my mom.

Happy 65th Mamoo. I love you greatly.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I really class up the joint...

So Mister C and I went out to dinner at a very nice sushi restaurant with another couple (D and L) tonight. We were enjoying ourselves immensely, both for the good food and the great company. It was a great time, other than our waitress.

Our waitress seemed to be either slow witted or simply unfocused because she would wander off and forget to come back. For instance, we arrived at the restaurant first and got seated. The waitress asked us what we wanted to drink and if we wanted an appetizer and we said we thought so but we hadn't looked at the menu yet so she said she would right back and then wandered off. Our friends arrived about five or ten minutes later and then had to wait another five minutes for the waitress to wander back and take their drink order. When she brought their drinks she asked about the appetizers and our friends said yes, but they hadn't looked at the menu yet. Our waitress said she'd be back and then wandered off. She eventually returned and got our appetizer order and then, taking into account her track record, we decided to go ahead and just order our entrees at the same time.

L asked a few questions about some entree or another and then, since we had ordered two large appetizers, decided to go with a seared tuna appetizer as her meal. She was very clear that she was having this for her meal, not the appetizer.

So of course, the first thing the waitress brought back was the tuna. L looked at it and decided it couldn't be what she ordered because first of all, it was being served before the other appetizers and secondly, because it wasn't seared at all. It was cold. L decided she was okay with it being raw as she prefers it that way anyway, but she didn't want to eat it before our meals arrived so she set it aside. Eventually the other appetizers and the rest of our meals arrived and we all dug in. Our waitress did manage to refill drinks once but otherwise was nowhere to be seen.

About two thirds of the way through dinner though, I felt something weird when I tried to move my feet under my chair. My foot seemed to be stuck on something and I couldn't untangle it. It turns out that my right shoe had decided that this was the perfect time to give up the ghost and die. The sole had completely separated from the rest of the shoe. Now, I don't feel too badly about their quality because I've had these particular shoes for at least fifteen years. But timing wise, it kind of sucked. We were sitting smack dab in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by tons of people. So, I kept the shoe on for a little longer while debating what I should do. I seriously considered asking our waitress if she could bring me some black electrical tape or duct tape from the kitchen. But she had already proved to be less than a stellar communicator and I just didn't see her being able to understand my request and help me out without a big production that would draw even more attention to my predicament. I finally decided to wait until the end of the meal and then go ahead and ask her if she could bring me a bag, figuring that was a pretty simple request. My plan was straightforward, ask for a bag, remove shoes to said bag, casually walk out of the restaurant. So I ask for a bag.

And she says "A box?"
"No," I say, "a bag."
"A box? How many boxes do you need?"
"I just need a bag."
D says he would like a box. This seems to make our waitress happy. And then she points at my plate and says "A box?"
"Sure." I say. At this point I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get a pair of four inch heels in a to-go box but I'm done trying to request something that is obviously so difficult.

The waitress wanders off and comes back with two boxes and a bag. I assume you can only have a bag if you get a box. Whatever, I have my bag. But now, she's handing me a box as well. I don't really want to take my fried rice home with me but I figure I should probably just go ahead and box it up so I don't cause anymore problems.

First I try to shovel up the perfect circle of rice with my fork to put it in the box but it starts breaking apart as soon as I do. So I lift up my plate with the intention of scraping it into the box, only nothing ever works that easily with me. No, the huge plate is ungainly and evidently the rice is extremely slipper because it starts a slow slide toward the edge of the plate. Unfortunately for me, the edge of the plate isn't over the box, it's hovering over my lap. So, yeah. About a cup of greasy fried rice falls into my lap before I can get the plate over the stupid box that I never wanted in the first place.

So there I am with a lap full of rice, my unwanted box full of more rice and nothing but a cloth napkin to clean it up with. I don't want to make a huge mess of my napkin so I start pulling the rice off my lap by hand and putting it on the plate. Only now, the waitress who couldn't remember where we were for the majority of the evening has suddenly decided she has to bus our table RIGHT NOW! So before I can get more than one handful of rice onto my plate she whips it off the table. So I try for Mister C's plate but that is also whipped off the table. So the third bit goes on to L's plate before that gets removed. I never had a chance at D's plate so I gave up and started putting the rice into my napkin. It took a while but I finally got every last grain of rice off my lap (and chair, and purse) and into the napkin. I'm sure they were thrilled when they picked that up.

Which now leads to what to do about my shoes. I had my bag so I casually reached under the table and removed my shoes and dropped them into the bag. When everyone else stood up, so did I. I had my purse and bag of shoes in one hand and my unwanted box of greasy rice in the other. And I walked out like it was totally normal to be in an upscale restaurant with a greasy lap and barefooted. Because that's just how I do things.

Of course the best part is that after we walked out of the restaurant I looked for the nearest garbage can to get rid of my shoes and only after I had dropped them in did I realize that for anyone sitting inside the place it looked like I had just thrown out my leftovers as soon as I left the restaurant.

I don't think Mister C is going to take me back there any time soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011


So I'm sitting here with Mister C watching some show he recorded about Ronald Reagan and listening to the rain pour down. We haven't had a good storm in a while so I'm thoroughly enjoying hearing the thunder pound and seeing the lighting. However, I wasn't so thrilled forty minutes ago when I was on my way home from the store and the lighting started in force. Mostly because when I left for the store Master J had planted himself on a blanket inside the chicken coop to feed to feed them some tomatoes. Yeah, my only child sitting inside a metal cage in a lighting storm, awesome. But once I got him inside, and moved the babies to the garage so they didn't get wet, I could enjoy the storm. And now the hail has started pounding the garage door so hard and fast that it sounds like two drummers competing on Caribbean steel drums. It really is an enjoyable change of pace from the heat.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pinhole Camera

So this is my pinhole camera.

I chose an old container that originally held pork chitterlings. For anyone that is fanning themselves in horror at my abuse of a "vintage" item, get on with the fanning because this thing smelled like an old bag of pork rinds when I bought it. And, at least I'm using it for something. Blah, blah, blah, keep fanning.

Anyway, the first thing I did was to use a matte, black spray paint to cover the inside. Since it was a thousand degrees outside I decided to do this part of the project inside. In my kitchen. Now, in my defense, I did lay down a painting tarp on my kitchen island and I did work very carefully in order to not get over-spray on anything. And I did a really good job with that because not one black spot appeared anywhere except where it was supposed to (and my hand but that's washable.) However, did you know that the fumes from spray paint are kind of noxious? And that even if you turn the stove vent on super high and leave it on for an hour, it still kind of smells? Hm, learn something new every day.

Here's my camera all painted up. The tape in the lid holds the paper.

Then you need a lens of sorts. This is created by cutting a small hole (about 1/2 inch square) in the very center of the end of your container. Then, you take a piece of aluminum (or something equally sturdy) and you poke a pinhole in it (hence the name). Now, the exact size of the pinhole depends on the size of the container. There's a whole calculation involving the length of the container but basically in my case, the pinhole needed to be somewhere between one half and one quarter of 1/16th of an inch. So, in highly technical terms, small. After you've got a pinhole in the aluminum, you line it up to be exactly centered on the hole you centered on your container. For a "shutter" you can use a piece of black electrical tape.

In my case, the bottom of my container became the front of the camera and it looked like this...

The light sensitive paper goes on the opposite side, in my case this was in the lid and I attached it with tape. Because you're working with light sensitive paper you have to "load" the camera in complete darkness. So I shut the bathroom shades and barricaded myself in my closet with towels stuffed under the door and blocking the vent. Unfortunately I have a round camera with no obvious "top" and I really needed to know which was going to be the top so I could load my paper properly and in the dark this would be almost impossible. Lucky for me, one section of the lid had a scuffed area that I could feel and this became my top.

Once the paper is loaded and the camera is closed back up you can leave the dark and go find your subject. You set up your subject and your camera and when you're ready, you remove the black, electrical tape shutter and start timing. Since each camera is different, the exposure time will be different. I tried one minute, two minutes, four minutes and six minutes for each subject. When the time is up, simply slap the tape back on the pinhole, barricade yourself back in the dark and switch out the paper.

The biggest issue with this camera is that I don't have a true dark room with all the chemicals so I can't just develop each picture as I take it to figure out if it worked or not. I had to wait several days after taking the pictures to get back to the lab and develop them. What I figured out was that with my camera, the longer exposures were too long. The first three worked well enough that I could have printed a picture, but six minutes basically came out black. After all of that, when you go to the lab to see what you got you will end up with a negative of the subject.

You pick the best negative and then head back into the lab to produce the picture. The easiest way to explain it is that you take the negative and put it face to face with another piece of light sensitive paper, put glass over the top and then expose it to light. Then, you go through the chemical process again to create your picture.

Now, a couple of things should be noted here. Firstly, the pictures are obviously in black and white. Secondly, they are not razor sharp like regular camera. But, considering that there are no mechanics and it's really just a container with a hole in it, I think they came out pretty cool.

The coop.

Master J reading.

Not bad for an old chitterlings container and some tape.

*side note, the pictures had to be scanned in and sent to my desktop in order to get them on this post.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New abode for the Flockers

The chicken coop got delivered today!

It's not huge, only 4'x 6', but since I plan on allowing the girls time out of it every day it should be fine.

You can't see them but all six babies are in the coop, most likely huddled in horror in one corner. About an hour after I moved them into it they were roaming around picking at the dirt so I think they kind of like their new digs. I certainly think I'll enjoy not having to sweep off my patio every five minutes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fourteen Years

This is the only picture I could find of the two of us from around the time we got married, probably about six months in.

Note the bluish eye shadow on just one eye, evidently this was taken at the end of a long day.

Happy Anniversary Mister C!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Mister C and I have talked extensively about having some chickens around and up until recently the consensus has been that we don't have enough space in our yard and a coop would take up too much of what little we do have. Today we stopped by the local feed shop "just to ask about chickens" and what they require. It turns out that they don't require as much of a coop as previously thought so long as you can let them outside of it every day. And since our yard is surrounded by a six foot block wall...well...

Meet the girls....

(Clockwise starting with the brown one on the far left:
Leia-an Ameraucana; Rocky-a Barred Rock; Red-a Production Red; Wedge-another Ameraucana; Peaches and Cream-the two white leghorns.)

Yeah, I know, they're just chickens. And chickens are for eggs and eating and all that. But these are babies. And babies of any species are adorable. Especially when they fall asleep on you, which Leia did to me twice and to Master J once. The coop won't be delivered until Wednesday, so in the meantime, the girls are hanging out in a bottomless guinea pig cage. We're alternating them between the patio during the day and the garage at night (just in case of a wandering coyote.)

And of course Master J is just in love with the girls. Especially after I told him that chickens eat bugs. Even more so after he saw Peaches snag a spider and gobble it up in about two seconds flat.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I'm a bit slow

So Master J just finished his third week of school on Friday...and I'm just now getting around to putting up his picture from the first day. Meh, it's just been that sort of whirlwind of chaos around here. Better yet, the picture below was not actually taken in the morning before his first day. No, I finally thought about it some time right before dinner. I'll be honest, I'm not even sure that's the same shirt he was wearing at the start of the day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September already?

So yeah, I've been out of touch with my blog for several weeks now. It's not that I didn't want to update, and really it's not that I haven't had time, it's just I haven't been motivated to do anything with it. I'm sorry. That's just pathetic. I know. So, I'm regrouping. I'm starting over. In more ways than one.

So real estate kind of sucks right now. I haven't been happy in it for awhile now and I think I've finally hit my personal wall as far as how much more I'm willing to do. I'll be honest, I'm not the best agent around. I don't advertise. I don't try to find and follow leads every day (or any day truthfully). I don't call on past clients to see if they have any "real estate needs" or if their friends and family do. And I don't push buyers into buying a house just so I can close a deal. In the past two weeks, I went from having one offer in escrow, one client writing offers and one that was coming in to town ready to really buy this time (I swear), to no offers in escrow, one buyer that wants me to write offers at eighty three percent of list price (seriously? WTH?) and my out of town buyers back out of town without offering on anything. So I think I'm done.

I've had it with some other agents having an attitude of arrogance. I called a listing agent about a house two days ago because I was out showing to a client and could not find the property. Literally, his directions led me to a house that was not for sale. So I called. He said (and I am quoting verbatim here) "I don't know what mls you're using because the directions are fine. Plenty of other agents have been able to find the property." Really? Okay, that's pretty shitty but maybe I am being dumb. So, seeing a guy a few doors down walking out to his truck, I pulled up and asked him if he knew where the house was. Turns out I was in the wrong neighborhood, because the agent's directions were wrong. So I followed the neighbor's directions to the correct neighborhood and showed the house. Then I called the agent back and left him a message. In it I said that the directions were in fact wrong and gave him the correct directions. It was polite. I never heard a word from him, but he did change the mls listing. Idiot.

I've had it with investors who want to make HUGE profits on houses that they've done a minimal amount to. They buy it at auction, slap some paint, granite and new carpet in and list it at twice what they paid. And then try to put a clause in the contract that says the purchase price has to be paid regardless of what the house appraises for. Um, no. I am not going to have my client sign a contract that could potentially screw them out of tens of thousands of dollars. But it gets better, because I'm pretty sure at this point that because I advised my client not to sign that potentially expensive contract, she isn't returning my calls or emails. I think she's upset that she didn't get the house and I'm to blame for trying to protect her interests. Guess I should have allowed her to go ahead and sign away her rights so I could get my commission. See, I told you I'm not a good agent.

Moving on.

I started another photography class last week. This one is a black and white film and digital class. I'm really more interested in the film part but I'll do what's required from the digital side as well. Last night we made pin-hole cameras, took a picture of a vacuum cleaner and developed it. Dude, it was awesome! I can't begin to tell you the feeling of dropping what looks to be a blank sheet of paper into a vat of chemicals and watching something develop. It was magical. This is what photography is about, it's incredible. So our assignment before next week is to take a bunch of pictures with our pin-hole cameras so we can develop them in the lab after Labor Day. The one drawback to this type of camera is that it takes time to get the picture so I'm fairly sure I won't be able to get any photos of my dogs or anything animated. Hmm, I could probably get any of the cats though. Anyway, I'll give a better description of the camera itself and show the results next week. I'm so excited about this!

I think I'll end on that happy note. Glad to be back, thanks to you that checked in regularly to see if I had anything new, I appreciate your loyalty. All three of you ;)