[Taken 24.12.04 | Ice encrusted bush | Columbus, OH]
The snowstorm that hit the Dayton area last Wednesday/Thursday was a snow and ice storm in other parts of Ohio. I saw this bush at a gas station near Columbus where John and I stopped to try to clean some ice and snow off of the car. The gas station was closed... large parts of Columbus lost power because of the ice storm. I was glad that niether my parents nor us ever lost power during that storm.
The past couple of days have been nice. Since there were only two days between getting back from the holiday weekend and leaving for San Diego (and since the office was going to be nigh unto deserted anyway) I just took them off and relaxed. Didn't do a heck of a lot beyond puttering around, running errands, reading, and playing Diablo II. And going out with the camera (of course) and editing some photos. I did a couple of daytime trips to some parks around Centerville, and then went back to one of the parks last night around 10:30. When I got back after 11:30, John was already in bed. I wasn't tired yet, so I figured that I would just stretch out on the couch and read for a little bit. I woke up around 4:30 when John stumbled out of the bedroom to find out what had become of me. (he woke up and couldn't figure out where I was). Considering that just about every time I think that I will "just stretch out on the couch" and read a little bit, it ends up with me falling asleep on said couch, you would think that I would have learned by now.
My apartment complex has its own resident mixed flock of mallards, Canadian geese, and one lone domestic Peking White duck. (I don't mind the ducks... I rather like them, since I had some pet ducks when I was little, but I could do without the geese.) They are apparently here year round, and I assumed that the staff fed them. Between that and the fact that a fountain keeps the pond (sort of) fluid year round, why should they leave? This afternoon I ran into the office manager while I was doing laundry, and found out for sure why most of the flock is so fat. She was standing outside the office and was feeding potato chips to the Peking White and some of the mallards. Heh. Fattening them up to eat maybe?
Ahh, it has been nice to have a couple of days to just hang around and do nothing in particular.
Tomorrow John and I head out for sunny (?) California. According to weather.com, sunny California is currently wet and rainy California. But who cares? We will be in San Diego over New Years! It may be "rainy" and "cold", but it will still be warmer then Ohio by a long shot. And I will stand barefoot on a beach in the middle of winter even if I have to do so during a thunderstorm.
To those who we will miss being able to spend the turn of the year with, we will be raising a glass (or two or three) to toast you. Happy New Year, everyone!
[Taken 24.12.04 | The tree at my Grandparents' house | Parma, OH]
And it was good.
John and I didn't actually leave until Friday morning. Our car was buried in the apartment parking lot until the plows finally got around to freeing us at about 10:00 Thursday night. We spent most of Thursday playing computer games and periodically looking out the front door to see if the plows had arrived yet. And even if the plows had come through sooner, it turned out that parts of the freeways that we needed to take to get to Cleveland had been closed because of the ice storms around Columbus. Even Friday morning, more then 24 hours after the storm, they were still pretty bad. It took us over six hours to get from Dayton to Cleveland.
Friday and Saturday, Christmas Eve and Day, were all family celebrations all the time. Much food was eaten, many presents were exchanged, and many games were played. My brothers Kevin and Jeff beat John and I continuously at Euchre. Everyone enjoyed Apples to Apples. And I didn't do quite as well at Scrabble as I expected to.
What can I say about this Christmas? What can I say other then I liked being able to see my family, and every time I go home for a visit I think that I need to really do so more often? The visit at home was a lot shorter this year then it has ever been. I usually stay at my parents' for almost a week over the winter holidays, so it was a little more rushed and a little less relaxing then it might have been. And while I would have liked to stay a little bit longer, it wasn't possible this year. Maybe another year. But I think that what time I had to see everyone, was all time very well spent.
It was good. It was better then good, it was great.
[Taken 22.12.04 | The Reserve | Centerville, OH]
15 second exposure, during snow and wind. Another shot of the lit trees on the edge of lake, at the entrance to my apartment complex.
Portrait of a morning after a snowstorm.
My office was closed "due to severe weather" today. John's was closed too... or, at least he was unable to reach anyone there and assumed that it was closed. When we watched the local news and weather this morning, they announced that this area was under a "level 3 winter weather alert" until mid-afternoon, which basically means "stay at home and don't go anywhere".
In a little while John and I are going to pile into the car with all of the presents and the holiday cookies (and my camera, tripod, and other accessories) and take off for Cleveland. We are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family.
We should be back sometime Sunday afternoon.
Until then, happy holidays!
[Taken 22.12.04 | Centerville, OH]
Oh, we got some snow today. Boy, did we get some snow.
There is a winter storm advisory out until tomorrow afternoon. We got between eight and ten inches of snow today, with another ten to twelve expected tonight. Due to rapidly worsening weather conditions, my office closed at 2:00, and everyone was sent home. I love weather like this.
In honor of the weather, I went out to try some long exposure night shots this evening. Well, sort of long exposure night shots... It was really cold and windy and snowy, so I pretty much just stuck around the apartment complex. I am not sure I would have made it much further afield then that honestly, since even here - literally right outside my front door - I was wading through snow up to my knees. You try that while lugging a camera and tripod while trying to keep your scarf from being blown away.
Anyway. What with all of the streetlights and holiday lights and whatnot, I think that the longest exposure I took was 40 seconds. Above are some of the festivly lit trees at the entrance to the complex. This was about a nine second exposure.
[Taken 12.12.04 | Bill Yeck Park | Centerville, OH]
Today is officially the first day of winter. Given how low the temperatures have been around here lately, I don't need a calendar date to tell me that. In honor of the turn of the seasons, I present a new, stripped-down design for infogirl.
I have been thinking about taking my camera out at night to do some really long exposure shots for a while… some of the photos that orbit1 and no traces have been posting from their late-night photo sessions have been pretty inspirational. However, this experiment may end up waiting a while… the colder it gets, the less I feel like standing around outside well after dark, my gloved finger on a shutter trigger and my feet slowly going numb.
Obviously, the picture above was taken before the temperatures plummeted. I can almost guarantee you that that little stream is frozen solid now.
Otherwise, life as I know it is fairly normal for the last week before Christmas. I have been cookie baking, and present wrapping, and gift making, and otherwise prepping for the holidays.
Over the weekend I sustained my first cookie-related injury… I burned my hand on the pizzelle maker. See, a pizzelle maker is a lot like a small waffle iron, and when you put the batter in and close it, a lot of very very hot steam shoots out the sides. And if you are not paying much attention, and reach past the pizzelle iron for your glass of water, you can get scalded.
Oh yeah, and if you are having problems seeing large chunks of this site... I don't know what's up either. The files are all there (there being defined as the remote server as viewed through Dreamweaver MX), but some of them seem to be playing hide-and-seek. I blame my ISP. If anyone out there has half a clue as to what could be going wrong, feel free to drop me a line (such information would be a FABULOUS holiday present) since this has been driving me &%*##$&@ crazy all day.
More from the hafla on December 10. I think that this may actually be my favorite of all of the pictures that I took. This is a professional dancer who came if from the San Francisco Bay Area to perform at the hafla and teach some classes at the studio on the day after the hafla. She had a great outfit - very tribal, with a lot of heavy silvery jewelry. Her hair, and all of the silvery ornaments and cowerie shells that she had woven and braided into it was my favorite part. Perhaps this is because the most I ever do with my own hair is put it in a ponytail, or maybe in a single braid?
Look, here is another picture of her so you can see more of the fabulous outfit.
John and I went over to dinner at Sarah and Mike's yeaterday to help them celebrate closing on their first house. Following which we hung around to watch a re-run of the first two episodes of "Lost" with them, largely because Sarah had been telling us both how great the show was. And, damn... she was right. I may end up having to watch "Lost" every week. This could even be a replacement for "Firefly", or, dare I say it, "Buffy" and "Angel". Of course, there HAVE been a bunch of episodes that I have missed already. But, ya know, when it comes out on DVD I will just have to buy it so that I can watch every episode in proper order.
And yet another picture from the hafla on December 10.
I just don't have a heck of a lot to say - it is coming up fast on the holidays, work is simultaneously frenzied and dragging, and I am spending a lot of time baking cookies in the evenings. Mostly I make pizzelles....mmm, yummy. And since I don't have much of anything entertaining to write about, I figured that I might as well just keep posting pictures for the enjoyment of whoever might happen to be looking at this site.
Another picture from the hafla on December 10.
Not two days ago I was wearing a suit jacket outside over my jeans and marveling at how mild the weather was for December. Today it is snowing and I wore my wool winter coat.
Friday night I went with Sarah to a hafla, which is a bellydance performance/free dance that the studio where she takes lessons holds periodically. Since it has been a while since I took any lessons (Sarah keeps telling me I ought to come to classes with her, and maybe one of these days I will take her up on it) I didn't go to dance... I went to take pictures.
It was pretty dim in the studio so I was glad that I brought my tripod, since I needed to take rather long exposures in order for anything to come out at all. I only had the camera's built-in flash, which wasn't strong enough for what I needed to illuminate the space, and which I hesitated to use a lot anyway since I didn't want to distract/piss off the dancers. Especially since they were all being so nice about me running around with a camera and tripod and taking pictures like crazy.
Anyway... yes... me with a camera on a tripod, taking ridiculously long exposures of people dancing in amazing outfits. The key phrases there are "people dancing" and "long exposures". Now, I knew going into this that taking long exposures of people in motion would result in hazy, ghost images, which I was cool with. Frankly, I thought it would look neat. And I did get some really neat shots. BUT... I was focusing on the dancers, and the dancers were...um...in constant motion, so a lot of the pictures I took ended up having nothing in focus in them at all. I should have focused instead on something stable, and then gone from there... ah well. Hindsight. I took over 300 high-res pictures and pretty much maxed out my 1G flash card. It was a good thing I ended up taking so many, because I still ended up discarding most of what I shot due to the aforementioned focus problems, as well as the fact that a lot of the shots were still underexposed. And the fact that some of them just plain sucked. That is why I love digital. Take 300 pictures; throw away 90% of them later, and you still have wasted nothing!
The above photo is a dancer resting near the musicians and drummers between sets.
Ho ho ho ... let us all bend an elbow to the season and get our holly-jolly on.
Ye olde company holiday party was today. Because it was during working hours (and before the "magical" hour of 5:00pm) it was dry. According to Sarah, last year it was not only dry, but there was karaoke. I can think of nothing as soul-crushingly horrible as being forced to perform sober karaoke, with the full and complete knowledge of how much your rendition of "Piano Man" sucks. As such, I held out little hope for the party.
This year, instead of karaoke, there was gambling. No, no... not quite that fun. Everyone there was divided into teams, and each team got the same amount of monopoly money, which was divided (however the teams decided) among all of the individual team members. The ultimate point was that the team with the most money at the end of the party won some prize. Everyone was then let loose into a mock casino (complete with all of the standard games) to "gamble" our little hearts out. As I enthusiastically suck at poker, I headed right for the Texas Hold 'Em table. Now, when I say I suck at poker, I mean that I cannot bluff, have only a passing idea of what kind of hands are "good", and can never keep straight which hands trump what (other then that a single pair is the lowest hand you can get) and yet I thoroughly enjoy playing. It didn't take me too long to run through my monopoly money, especially since once I had lost about three-fourths of what I had started with, I started playing to lose. And once I was out of money, there was no reason for me to stay anymore, really. I mean, what fun is it to just watch people gamble?
I love getting home early on a Friday.
Saturday morning John and I went to the West Side Market in Cleveland. It is basically a huge old brick building - over a hundred years old - that has been serving as an old world style market since 1912. There are a lot of ethnic and speciality butchers and bakers (and candlestick makers, too, I am sure) in Cleveland that all maintain stalls here, so this is pretty much THE place to go if you want to browse around fresh cuts of meat and loaves of bread. You can buy anything from a whole sheep's head (skinned, but with the eyes and tongue and brain still there) to gourmet pastas. I bought my Mom some tortellini that she had asked me to get, and then bought some butternut squash tortellini for John and myself - delicious!
I wanted to work on shooting people in medium to low light conditions, so I brought my camera with me. But when the time came that I actually took out my camera and started to walk around taking pictures, I got very self-conscious and shy. I became almost hyper-aware (paranoid?) of how I was "getting in the way" of the shoppers when Iwould stop to frame a shot, and I worried that people would object to me documenting their Saturday morning trip to the market. No one said anything or asked me to stop, but I still felt shy about it. Obviously, this shyness is something that I will need to work on.
After the West Side Market, John and I went to an "Art Walk" in Little Italy that my Mom had seen advertised in the newspaper and thought we would enjoy. It wasn't quite my idea of an art walk - despite the obviously inapropriate weather, I was still expecting something like the Ann Arbor art fair - with lots of booths set up outside on the sidewalks and the like. This was more like the gallery owners of the area had gotten together and said, "hey, there are a LOT of art galleries around here... let's all put out extra stuff in our galleries and hold the same hours that afternoon and call it an art walk to try and get some more customers to come in". So it wasn't quite what I expected, but there was still some really nice stuff... as well as some REALLY expensive stuff...and stuff that was both really nice and really expensive. I got no Christmas shopping done there.
This picture is a huge blown glass sculpture that was in one of the galleries, which reminded me of something you might find on a coral reef in a tropical area. Quite nice. It could have been mine if I had wanted to spend an entire year's salary on it.
I was a lot more comfortable photographing the art then I was photographing the people in the West Side Market. Go figure. Obviously, I need to work on my "people skills" a little bit more.
Oh, and "Sweeney Todd"? It was wonderful. Very well done. The preformers who played Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett did an excellent job, and even the small problems that the sound system was experiencing didn't detract from the evening. Only Sondheim can give an operetta about murder and cannabilism a dash of comedy. I loved the song, "Try the priest..."
A little over a month ago I submitted several of my photographs to a National Geographic contest (like about a million other Americans, I am sure), and today is the BIG DAY that they are to inform the winners (via email) and post the results (along with the winning photos, I am sure) on their site. So I have fallen into a pattern of work a little, go to the National Geographic Photography site and force refresh to see if there are any breaking updates, work a little, check my email, work a little, go to the National Geographic site....
After a day of no exciting email and no updated site, I have accepted that I am not one of the happy winners.
I am disappointed, but not crushed or terribly surprised. I knew it was a very very long shot. Besides, it is not as though there will never be a photo contest again ever. After all, I just found out yesterday that Canon is running their very own contest specifically for the Digital Rebel. Of course I will enter... have you seen the yummy prizes?
This evening John and I leave for Cleveland , as we are going to the opera with my folks Saturday evening. (It sounds so suave and sophisticated, does it not? Going to the opera...) We are seeing "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". (Which is actually musical theater, or an operetta, at best - but I prefer to call it an opera. It sounds better.) Take it from me; ALL the best operas have murder and cannibalism in the plotline! Massive fun awaits!
Deck the halls?
When the stores start to put out the Christmas stuff before they take down the Halloween stuff, then that is just too much. I like getting presents as much as the next person, but there is just way too much pomp and circumstance and competition and commercialism surrounding the winter holidays, and it makes me tired.
But now that it is December I am pondering some (tasteful) decorating myself. I don't know how much decking there will be of my halls this year. I would like to get a real tree, but I am not sure that is a good idea because I think that Merlin would try to eat it (and I don't feel like finding pine needles in little piles of cat puke on the carpet). I don't really want to get a fake tree because well, FAKE and I don't own any ornaments anyway. I do have, or rather had, a couple of strands of lights, and I wouldn't mind putting those up, but I don't think they made the cut when I was packing to move down here this summer.
The problem is that anything shiny that I put out runs the risk of destruction by cat. Hanging lights might not be so bad, but I would need to buy new ones. I am also fighting my own innate laziness here. There will probably be some seasonal decorating, but it may not bear any relation to "traditional" Christmas decorations. Last year I put up some garlands, and then hung a whole bunch of origami cranes (though not 1000) on them for good luck.
Ho ho ho. Maybe I will just spike the eggnog with some rum and call it good.
Anybody know of any good holiday martini recipes? I can't be the only one who is already feeling the holiday ennui.