Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins #113

Hannah and Rascal - will they every get along?

1. I'm an engineer by degree but somewhere deep down, I'm a closet artist and, I hope someday I'll be able spend more time on that artistic side. For now, the engineering gig pays the bills.

2. Why do I have a D70 and not a D300 yet is because I am waiting for the price of the D300 to go down. I expect this will happen when Nikon releases the D400 later this year, so I continue to be patient.

3. How does this photo editing software work, anyway? I'm talking about Lightroom and Aperture, compared with Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and Photoshop. I know about the latter, but don't know the details on the former. I guess that's just as well, I don't want to spend more money on software!

4. Every morning, I put Rusk Sensories Smoother on my hair. It's a leave-in conditioner that protects my tresses while I apply the hot hair dryer to it.

5. I consider myself lucky because I have been blessed by faith, family, health and wonderful friends.

6. One day we’ll see our two cats, Hannah and Rascal, act civil towards each other. I hope. Right now, they continue to hiss, swat and scowl at each other.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to meeting with my Book club friends, tomorrow my plans include running 8 miles and Sunday, I want to enjoy the Sara Bareilles concert(so stoked about that)!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Simple Fun and Games

The other night (Tuesday night to be exact), I had a blast playing Cadoo with Erica and Brian. The game combines Charades, Pictionary, Trivia and Tic-Tac-Toe into one. Since we were having the most fun with the Charades and Pictionary elements, we decided to eliminate the rest.

Some memorable moments:
The charades acting consisted of the kids flailing their bodies on the couch or the floor, regardless of the word. They were completely spaz-ing out.
Erica did a great job acting out "acorn". She pretended to be "Scritch" from Ice Age. Hilarious.
Erica isn't all that good at drawing things. Her "beehive" looked like a face.
Brian draws well, but takes forever.
We spent much of the evening laughing - Good, clean, fun, and no electronics required!


Monday, February 23, 2009

A Life Lived Fully and with Influence

Picture from my 1985 ARHS Yearbook

Through Facebook network, I learned of the untimely death of my High School Band / Music Director, Dennis Wrenn at the age of 58. He collapsed this past Friday, while on a High School Jazz Band trip in Greece. Even though I graduated almost 25 years ago, he was still leading the school's numerous Bands, the Orchestra and influencing the musical hearts of the students he interacted with.
Over 1200 people have joined the Facebook Tribute group that was set up hours after the news of his death was released. A testament to the vast influence this one man had over his students and the musical community he helped nurture and build.

What did I learn from Mr. Wrenn (he'll always be "Mr. Wrenn" to me, not "Dennis", as I am certain he would insist upon)?
  • I learned to broaden my musical horizons - through his connections, I was given opportunities to play in Pit Orchestras outside High School.
  • I learned an appreciation for Jazz, which I continue to love today.
  • I learned to step out and audition, even if I don't think I'm good enough, because in most cases, you really are good enough.
  • I learned to have fun with my music.
In his death, I've learned to embrace what you love, and to love what you do, because life is too short to not do what you love.

Mr. Wrenn, rest in peace. I know you are out there making beautiful music.

ARHS Orchestra, 1985. Mr. Wren is in the 2nd row, far right. I love that he chose to sit in the all of the musical groups' pictures - not all teachers did that.

Some links to the media coverage around Dennis Wrenn's death:
Metro West


Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins #112

Vast assortment of cheeses displayed at Burrough Market - London - January 2008

1. Give me a camera and I'll take your picture.

2. Whenever you think Spring is just around the corner, Mother Nature sends 4" of snow - that is the forecast for tonight.

3. I wish Hannah would stop meowing because she is hungry. Ever since we switched her to the indoor cat food, she has been inconsolable.

4. The goat cheese and bruschetta on garlic toast was the last thing I ate that was utterly delicious. I thought it would be the Stilton I purchased last week, but that was terrible.

5. To live in this world you have to be thankful for what you have.

6. Other than this one, Lindsay's is the last blog I commented on.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to spending time scrapbooking, tomorrow my plans include running at least 7 miles and Sunday, I want to do nothing, but I need to get the disk space on the computer under control - the 2nd external hard drive needs to be put into service!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Love: Valentine's Flower

Yeah, I posted this picture on my other blog, but I think it qualifies for the Love Challenge Traci is hosting this month.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Erica's Baptism

Yesterday, we were blessed by Erica's Baptism.

She was baptized by Scott in the church baptistery, during the first worship service. Her middle school friends witnessed the event, along with members of the congregation in the worship service. A "surveillance" type camera filmed the event and broadcast it live into worship center.

This required us to wait around a bit.

Erica wore a bathing suit under the robes, but Scott was allowed to wear fisherman's waders:

Finally, it was time to get in the warm water, and then they were live!

Scott introduced himself and Erica.

Erica repeated The Good Confession:

"I believe
That Jesus is the Christ
The son of the Living God"

Scott then said:
"I Baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"

She was immersed in the water:

A very special day for all of us!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Kitchen Table

Our new kitchen table was finally delivered last night. We had outgrown the previous table and needed one that would seat up to more people - with friends and visiting relatives, a larger table was more practical.

I was also sick of the glass table top. I will NEVER purchase another table with a glass top. The old table will go out to the patio (in reality, it is a patio table, so it is going back to its "roots").

The new table is a counter height model, with 4 chairs and a double bench. Because of the additional height, Scott attempted to adjust the light fixture - yes, with a bungee cord (no immediate success here, we obviously need to buy some additional hardware).

Once the new table was set up, Erica and her Dad enjoyed some evening snacks, sitting on the double bench.

On an unrelated topic, Erica successfully endured the extraction of 4 permanent teeth and 1 baby tooth Friday morning. She chose not to be knocked out - only local Novocaine was administered. No complications and today she only took one dose of ibuprofen. She didn't keep the teeth because she knew I would take pictures of them! Probably just as well.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chocolate, Love and Facebook on the 12th of February

Today's title truly represents the concept of 12 pictures on the 12th of each month - seemingly unrelated subjects that ARE related because they constitute some the elements that made our day.

First, Hannah enjoyed her morning drink at the bathtub. Why does every cat like to drink from a flowing source? They think the water is cleaner than what's in their bowl, and in this case, the water out of the faucet is pretty clean and fresh, but our cats also drink from our fish pond's waterfall, which I don't think I would do.

A bright and early (7:30!) appointment with the oral surgeon - Erica needs to have 5 teeth pulled for her braces. We set up the extraction procedure for tomorrow - we'll just get it over with.

After I dropped Erica off at school, I drove home to retrieve my camera. This is what was playing on the iPod:

Pulling out of the driveway, I noticed the lines of clouds behind the house. After I took the picture, I realized the clouds were quickly dissipating - looking down the street, you could only see blue sky - no clouds.

It's after lunch now, and I treat myself to some chocolate I purchased yesterday. This stuff is SO good.

The 2nd part of my drive home (there are only 3 main roads I drive to work on). Flat. Virtually no traffic on Rt 45 today. When I drove into work, there was an overturned semi trailer on the shoulder - overturned by the 60 mph wind gusts that blew through yesterday. I was hoping to get a picture of it now, but it had been moved.

At home, the kids were riding bikes outside. Today they had to wear gloves because the temps only hit 40 degrees today.

Brian worked on creating the paper model of this ancient wonder:

He finished it around dinner:

I had seen other photographers use this DOF technique and Erica allowed me to photograph her in this manner.

I went to the local garden center in search of some Cymbidium orchids. All they had were Phalaenopsis orchids, though. I attempted to photograph some of my Dendrobium orchids that were in bloom.

Finally, Scott set up his own Facebook account. He was avoiding it, but realized he should move into the 21st century. I hope he accepts my friend request.....


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Little Bit of Love

Brian will deliver Valentines to his classmates on Friday, so we finished them up this afternoon.

Of course, he addressed George's first.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Friendship Award

My sweet virtual friend, Sherry bestowed a friendship blog award upon me! Here is the description of the award:

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

Aww, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thank you, Sherry, for thinking about me!
As for my eight friends, I will pass this on to:

1. Andrea
2. Lee
3. Jayne
4. Lindsay
5. Robin
6. Cyn
7. Heidi
8. Jen

You guys all rock!


Nice Day

Temperatures peaked today in the 60's and brought the kids outside to play. Brian changed into shorts as soon as he got home from school, declaring "Mom - what were you thinking this morning when you picked out a long sleeved shirt?".
Really, I wasn't thinking about much!

The past four days have been a nice respite from the last two months of cold, snow and ice. We hope it will continue!


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Six a cappella Groups Rock the House

I don't know how many years the Unity Music Boosters have sponsored last night's annual a cappella concert, but all six groups who performed rocked the house with their voices - no instruments allowed. Four groups were from the U of I, one from Indiana University and one group from the local community.

The Other Guys from the U of I:

Highlight - their 7 song medley of Beach Boy Songs.
Flashback - their song intro where they "Introduce Themselves by shaking hands with each other". I recall using that shtick back in 1986!

The Girls Next Door from the U of I:

Highlight and Flashback - Singing the Carpenter's Superstar (Don't you remember you told me you loved me baby? You said you'd be coming back this way again maybe. Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, my Baby. I Love You, I really do)

Straight No Chaser from Indiana University:

I think EVERYONE has seen their YouTube video of the 12 Days of Christmas. Just do a search for "Straight No Chaser 12 Days". The video has been viewed over 400,000 times. The original members have long graduated, but the quality of group carries on.
Highlight - Their Straight No Chaser Song.
Flashback - Lion Sleeps Tonight. Complete with silly animal sounds.
Pseudo Flashback - Africa. (not a real flashback for me, because I sang a cappella before EVERY group had an arrangement of Africa - BTW, the Chorallaries arrangement is better!).

Following intermission, a beat-boxing competition was held, with one of the X-Chords winning by singing and beat boxing Michael Jackson's Billy Jean. Wow.

Next, a surprise - a local women's barbershop quartet called Illusion performed:

They proved that you don't have to be in college to perform close harmonies, so I guess there's still hope for me.

The last two groups annually perform in this concert and anchored the night's performances.

The Rip Chords from the U of I:

Highlight: It's Raining Men

The Xtension Chords from the U of I:

Highlight: Insomniac
Flashback: Repeats of last year's Jesse's Girl, What We are thinking when We Sing, We Love Illinois.

OK, so I was a little disappointed with the XChords because, with the exception of "Insomniac", their set was the same as last year's. I understand why that is, I hope next year they'll bring something fresher.

My favorite group of the night? Straight No Chaser.
Was something missing? A Mixed SATB group of course!
Did I buy a CD? I always come away with a CD - I purchased one from Straight No Chaser, one that had "Back to Pooh Corner" on it. Because I'm nostalgic.


Saturday, February 07, 2009


I was going through my list of recent Blog updates and read KariAnn's post. She put a cool spin on the people she tagged - she tagged the first 6 people to read her post, and since it is 7:45 am on a Saturday (even my kids are still sleeping!), I figured I was one of the lucky ones.

I am to go to 6th album in my photos and share the 6th photo with you.

I am maniacally organized when it comes to my photos - every month has a folder, then within the folder, subfolders for each picture taking event (for Project 365, I have a folder for each day!). I also shoot in RAW and have the RAW files and converted JPG files and then the subfolder of the pictures I want to develop.

I'm sure I've just shared way too much information. I just need to post that 6th picture.

Erica and her baby, Hannah. One of the extra pictures I took on April 12, 2008 that didn't make my "12 on 12" post.

As for tagging, if you want to participate, just leave a comment!


Friday, February 06, 2009

I Love ...the 11th Thing that Starts with "T"

Tickets! Not the bad Traffic tickets, but Concert tickets:

I happened upon the concert announcement via Facebook last night, and I hit the ticket office when it opened this morning:

My friend, Jill, has agreed to go with me, although she is not the rabid fan I am. I bet she thinks I'm a little obsessed. I'm just excited because I haven't been to a concert in several years (make that 10+ years).


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Brought to you by the Letter T

A fitting icon from my old stomping grounds - Boston's MBTA, aka "The T"

I signed up to participate in Sherry's interactive Alphabet Meme. Sherry assigned me the letter T, and I picked 10 things I love that start with that letter.

First, I thought this would be really easy - the letter T is frequently used. But it has taken me a week to even come up with my list. (And somehow, I was able to list lots of things I dislike that start with T - go figure?)

Here's my list, ordered by how they came to me:

1. Teresa
That would be my sister. Of course, I thought of her first! She's 15 months younger than me and always managed to beat me up as a kid (I have the scars to prove it!). Really, we are SO alike and I love her dearly.

2. Tea
One of my favorite drinks, I love Tea in the winter and the summer. Right now, I would really like some Mango iced tea, but with the current sub-zero temperatures outside, it's not going to happen.

3. Tulips
My favorite spring flower. Alas, I have no recent pictures because I haven't planted any since we moved here in 2002. They are so graceful and beautiful. I prefer the Ivory colored blooms, but Dutch Gardens sold a variety called "Shirley" that are white with purple edges. Yes, I bought and planted them.

4. Technology
Who doesn't love Technology? The gadgets and gizmos that make our lives easier. My favorite Technology gadgets include the iPod, the laptop, the cell phone, the DVR and my camera.

5. Tae Kwon Do
I love how Tae Kwon Do has been such a part of Brian's childhood, how he has developed athletic and leadership skills from his Tae Kwon Do experience.

6. Tchaikovsky
One of my favorite composers, I loved playing his Symphony #5, the Andante Cantabile movement with the fabulous French horn solo.

You can check out a recording here:

7. Tonic trimmer
What would I do without this great tool - it cuts 12x12 paper accurately. Sounds like a simple task, but you would be surprised how many trimmers out on the market don't "cut it".

8. Trees
Not that we have many trees here on the prairie, but I grew up in New England, surrounded by their shade and beauty. My parents enjoy this view from their deck.

9. Tanqueray and Tonic
My favorite mixed drink, with lots of lime. Did you know that they glow under black light? It's from the quinine in the tonic, but folks don't need to know that! Something cool for your next party.

10. Travel
I love to travel. It allows me to experience different cultures, people, places. I always learn something about myself when I travel. I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel within and outside the US. This year, I am looking forward to our trip to Colorado, a state I have never explored.

There they are - my Favorite "T"'s!


Finally Answered - 5 Questions from Lee

Lee posted a meme on her blog that I chose to participate in - Lee posed 5 unique questions to each participant, a "get to know you more" dialog, but on a more personal level. I had fun with her questions, even though it has taken me almost a week to get them answered!

1. How did you get into your line of work? Is it what you studied to do? If not, why didn’t you go into the field you studied?

At work, I am in charge of the automation and control of our chemical manufacturing process. That may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. My degree is in Chemical Engineering, so working in a Chemical manufacturing facility is pretty standard. I do work more with computers, and that is something I pursued 15 years ago because I wanted to “know how those automation systems worked”. It continues to be a growing field, with lots of new technology and opportunity.

2. You are always so incredibly positive: is there any one thing for which you would like a “do-over”?

Gosh, there are days when I don’t feel very positive. When I commit myself in writing on a public forum, I am forced to really think about the message I am sending. Maybe I sub-consciously paint myself in a super “positive demeanor”. “Do-over” – I somewhat regret my senior year in High School and all the grief I gave my parents. I wish I would have stepped out of my comfort zone and applied to colleges in California, like Stanford or Berkeley. Don’t know if that would have changed my college choice, but if you don’t even apply…..

3. What is your most favorite theme or subject for your photography?
I don’t think I have a favorite theme or subject, although I find myself drawn to light and its influence on a subject. I love the golden light of the sunrise and the brilliance of sunsets. The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me.

Is there anything you would like to learn to broaden your photography experience?
There is always something new to learn, in any field and that includes my little hobby of photography! On the Post Processing end, I would like to learn how to use Photoshop for color conversions, addition of textures, color correction, etc. I have not focused on that end of photography because I want to take great pictures straight out of the camera. But I also realize that part of Photography is the conveyance of an emotion and that can be achieved through the application of these effects. I also need to improve my low light / flash skills and wide angle photography skills. I often go through my day “framing” pictures in my head, and I am often disappointed when I attempt to transfer that to the image off the camera. Part of that will improve with time and clicks of the shutter.

4. Do you believe in an after-life? If so, what is it like?

I definitely believe in an after-life. Our Sunday school class just finished up a series on Heaven and from that class, I believe that we, as mere humans, cannot begin to fathom what Heaven is like. I know it will give us a different perspective and we won’t need the things and comforts we seek on earth. I don’t want to go to Heaven anytime soon, but don’t feel anxious about what awaits me there.

5. How did you meet Scott and how did you know he was “the one”?
Scott and I met in 1989, having just graduated from college and in our first jobs. We were “enrolled” in a Engineering Management classes with a slew of Mechanical Engineers, so being the only Chemical engineers in the group, we were teamed together in the various project assignments.
I don’t recall how I knew he was “the one”, I just liked being with him, he has great moral values, is fun to be around and most importantly, he has great green eyes (that’s my weakness).


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All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of SLPhotography and shirley319 (© 2009, 2010). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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