Sunday, May 31, 2009

154/365 - Punch Out

Nintendo continues its strategy to suck in the older generation of gamers with remakes of its games from the original Nintendo console days. Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, just to name a few. Their most recent remake - PunchOut, which was released on May 17, arrived at our house Friday afternoon and has been in play all weekend long.

Scott hasn't been able to knock the crown off King Hippo's Head, but he keeps trying:

I remember Scott playing the original Nintendo version. It really hasn't changed much (from my vantage point - Scott would probably disagree), but it brings back memories of those past years.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

153/365 - Prairie Art

In keeping with the prairie theme, I thought I would share the cover of Brian's Prairie folder that came home from school today.


Inside, I found information on the Buffalo, prairie grasses and flowers. Very educational. I found his observations on his science project (growing prairie grasses) very informative - his grass grew 8 1/2" tall.


Friday, May 29, 2009

152/365 - On the Road

Several reasons why I keep my camera on hand in the car - you never know when you might want to take a picture! Yes, I do take pictures while driving, but I never take my eyes off the road - I simply place the camera to my right temple and hope the auto-focus gets something decent. Occasionally, I'll be stopped at a light, and then I will look through the viewfinder.

Taken in the morning, on the way to work. More prairie, more road, lots of blue sky and yesterday's first barn is on the left:

With road work along Route 36, I started taking the back country roads to avoid single lane closures and delays. These are the county roads that are simply numbered based on the county's grid system - "N1200", for example.

I was also in the car as the sun set tonight, coming home from Brian's baseball game (they lost tonight, but played a great game). I came upon the fiery ball as I hit the stop light at the corner of Kirby and Windsor. I whipped out the camera (it was in the passenger seat) and snapped the picture. A half mile down the road, the sun was gone - that's how fast the thing goes down.

Do you notice the gorgeous landscape that surrounds you when you are driving? Take some time to notice passing elements - you never know what you might be missing.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

151/365 - Farms Enroute to Work

A couple of the numerous farms I pass every day on the way to work. I love their rugged and aged, vintage look. I wonder how many seasons they have seen, what stories their structures hold. They hold a deep connection to the earth and this fertile land - a bit of the past, present and future.




Wednesday, May 27, 2009

150/365 - Fields of Yellow

I find these fields of yellow intriguing and beautiful. In my daily drives around town, I pass by fields of corn stubble, fields of freshly plowed dirt, fields where tender shoots of corn are just coming up and these fields of yellow flowers. The yellow flowers paint a broad swath of color in the neutral landscape and even though they are essentially weeds in a field, with their sheer numbers - you can't miss them.

The picture doesn't do them justice but I was happy just to have captured them - I shot the frame while driving back from Erica's horse riding lessons.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

149/365 - It's my Birthday!

42 years old.

Do my kids think my memory is starting to go bad in my old(er) age?
made by Erica

made by Brian

Regardless what they think, I LOVE their hand made presents. I do need to be reminded every now and then how to spell my name. And MOM upside down spells WOW!

I took several self portraits, but they were all SO bad. I'll try again in a couple of days. I need a haircut, so it will serve as a before picture (getting my hair chopped next week).


Monday, May 25, 2009

148/365 - Memorial Day

Not too much to report about on our Memorial Day. I ran 6 miles. Scott washed the car. I planted the basil and rosemary plants I have been keeping in pots for the last 3 weeks. Then the rains came. A nice, gentle rain, just perfect for soaking into the yard.

Erica and I went shopping for the dreaded bathing suit. I'm not sure if there is anything more tortuous than shopping with a tween. She did end up with decent suit (although I haven't seen it on her - I'm just going by how it looks on the hanger), so I am glad that is over with for this year.

The basil I planted this morning - it is a little blurry - the winds kicked up this afternoon and it was downright cool today. Not complaining - I think low 70s is perfect.

Hope you all had a relaxing Memorial Day, and remembered those who Served this Nation.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

147/365 - Tired Hannah

Today's slight "scare" and backstory to the picture.

We have been letting Hannah outside for short time durations. She normally sits by the birdfeeder, stalking the birds that visit it and the pond. Recently, however, she has ventured out more, probably into the neighbor's yards and bushes. This morning I let her out, but when we had to leave for church, she would not come back when called for. So we just left her "out and about" for 3 hours.

When we arrived back home, Erica walked around our yard, calling "Hannah, Hannah, Hannah". No Hannah. I made a round, with her food cup in hand, rattling it (when she hears it, she comes RUNNING), calling out her name. Still no Hannah. Erica was a bit distraught. I assured Erica that Hannah would come home eventually. After all, you can't knock free room and board. I know that hour without Hannah safe at home was very tough on Erica.

Then what happened? Oh, lunch time rolled around (11:30) and there was our adventurous kitty, waiting for some kibble. Erica scooped her up and scolded her a bit.

We could tell Hannah had a full morning of activity, because after lunch, this is what she did:

Yeah, she pretty much slept the afternoon away. I don't think we need to worry too much about her running off.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

146/365 - Movie Day - Night at the Museum 2

The power of marketing - the Easter Island statue - today's Happy Meal Toy.

  • "Dum, Dum, give me Gum, Gum"
  • Slapping monkeys.
  • Cameos by Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch (oh, and George Foreman, too).
  • Life size Abe Lincoln
  • Bobble head Einsteins (by the end of the movie, you'll know pi to 7 significant digits, too)
  • A group of Bad guys from the Smithsonian vs our old friends from NYC's
Just some of elements from the newly released Night at the Museum 2 - Battle of the Smithsonian.

A fun, family friendly movie that capped our day of mulch spreading, laundry and recitals. Yes, some of it is a bit contrived, but with gorgeous views of Washington, DC and the concept of bringing famous historical characters and art to life really makes the movie enjoyable. And it makes a visit to DC an absolute necessity next summer.


Friday, May 22, 2009

145/365 - One Big Pile

8 yards of mulch. A big pile in our driveway.

It's been 3 years since we put down mulch and our landscaping really suffered because of it. Weeds, grass encroachment and muddy dirt, just to name some of the ailments.

Erica and I spent a couple hours this evening getting started on the pile, working to transfer the mulch from the driveway to the landscape beds. We got about half of the pile worked down. A three day weekend is the perfect time to get this done.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

144/365 - Hey Batter, Batter

Yet another baseball game tonight. The last one this week. Different field tonight, which results in a slightly different shot at bat.

Brian managed to get on base 3 times. I think that makes for his most successful game so far this season.


Before the game, I walked around the park grounds and snapped this "shadow silhouette" while crossing a bridge:


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

143/365 - Seen at the Baseball Game

Another hectic evening at our house.
Erica had horse riding lessons - I dropped off, Scott picked up.
Brian had Baseball practice and then a game - I stayed the entire time, Scott arrived after picking up Erica.
Not a lot of options to squeeze in dinner - we ate some sandwiches at the game and afterwards at 8pm.

Next to the ball field is a petting zoo/farm that our city's park district runs. The farm will open this coming Memorial Day weekend and preparations for visitors is underway, with the stalls and grazing areas now occupied with sheep, goats, chickens and cows.
Just a little diversion from the ball game, which, our team did win (now 3 in a row!)


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

142/365 - Visit to Lake of the Woods

After my violin lesson today, I ventured into the Lake of the Woods forest preserve. What a nice way to end the hectic evening of practicing, cooking, lessons and TaeKwonDo. I ended up missing the American Idol Finals, but I know I can find recaps of all the performances without the commercial filler.

Hard to recreate this scene, though:


Monday, May 18, 2009

141/365 - Minor hail damage

Looks like my hostas weren't the only leaves to suffer some damage during Friday's hail storm:

Poor lily pad, all shredded. All of the lily pads look the same way. The silver lining? The flowers are starting to come up to the surface.

And the iris should be sending up some buds, soon:

What's next to bloom in your garden?


Sunday, May 17, 2009

140/365 - More Legos! And a Birthday

Today is Scott's 42nd birthday, but as he has requested that we "not make a big deal about it", I only took one picture and it came out terrible (major back focus problem).
So instead, I present the alternative - Brian, again, piecing together his new Bionicle lego man. Or ship. Or both. All I know is this one is a big Bionicle (read - more $'s), with sections that move up and down, in and out.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

139/365 - Smoke Bush

Buck and Jill have been rearranging their landscaping and decided they didn't want their Smoke Bush. So I inherited it and planted it today on one of the corners of the house. I had to transplant several purple coneflower plants (Echinacea purpurea) to make room for this burgundy leafed bush.


The bush produces puffy flowers that resemble smoke puffs, so that's how it received its name.



Friday, May 15, 2009

138/365 - Lightening, Thunder, Rain, Wind, Hail

Earlier in the evening, we were camped out at the baseball field - the game had just started when the black clouds started to roll in. Plop! A single fat rain drop hit my arm. I packed up my camera and chair just as the skies opened up and released a downpour. By the time I helped Brian gather up his things and retreated to the shelter of the car, I was drenched. Seriously - like I had taken a shower with my clothes on.

By the time we got back home, the skies seemed clear but then we heard the rumbles of thunder and the approaching clouds:

The storm hit, and it seemed like another typical severe storm front passing through - all the normal elements: Thunder, lightening, wind, and torrential rain. Then the hail started falling - and hail hitting the house makes a lot of noise. The pea sized hail ripped up my hosta leaves, but didn't leave much more damage.

I did get drenched one more time - on my way to book club at Jill's house, my backyard neighbor. I didn't anticipate the newly formed river running between our lots. Oh well, we all had a great time.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

137/365 - Favorite Greens

Today I took pictures to fulfill a challenge to take pictures of all things green - green being my favorite color.

With Spring in full force, it is not hard to spot all shades of green, and I sought to capture different hues - light, dark, forest, chartreuse, lime, just to name a few.

A few from the garden:
The leaves of the cranesbill (flowers may be seen here).

The parrots feather survived the winter in the pond.

Variegated hosta

Then some pictures while I watched Brian's baseball game (unfortunately, they lost again, but Brian hit a single and a double while at bat).
My favorite fizzy drink - lime, of course!

Earphones tucked in my camera bag. Yes, I picked them because of the color!

All in all, another busy day. What's your favorite color? Challenge yourself to capture it in images.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

136/365 - Rain and More Rain

We knew we would receive some rain today, but not a complete deluge accompanied by thunderstorms and high winds. Normally, these types of storms develop in April.

We were all awakened by the rumbling of thunder around 6:30 (well, the kids were awakened - both adults had already showered and dressed when the first storm cell hit). At work, a power outage took down the manufacturing lines and computer systems - something I figured out when I logged in. The UPS (uninterruptable power supply) to the server room failed.

Several more storm cells passed through the area and when I drove home, the slough that runs through our subdivision was clearly swollen due to all the rain:
To give you a comparison view, I took this picture from the same vantage point last August:

Proof of how much rain we received - 4" in our rain gauge.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

12 on the 12th of May

Sorry for the slightly late edition and I have to admit I am short one or two pictures this month - I fell into a bad mood after dinner and decided I was done for the day.

But I digress......

The start of a beautiful, sunny spring day (as I write this, claps of thunder break the sound pattering of raindrops outside) - the morning sun peaks into the bedroom. The song, Narrow Daylight by Diana Krall swam through my head as I shot these.

Narrow daylight entered my room
Shining hours were brief
Winter is over
Summer is near
Are we stronger than we believe?


Morning preparations -
Tea (Mango flavored, with flowers)
Lunch (turkey and spinach wrap with mayo/sour cream/chipotle sauce)

Some farm scenery on the way to work. With all the rain, the farmers haven't been able to get into the fields. I'm told the rule of thumb is after May 10-ish, the corn yield starts to diminish. Soybeans are OK until the end of May. (source - co-worker Dean, who used to farm on the side)

On my way home from work, I am delayed for over 5 minutes due to road work:

At home, the flowers are blooming and Erica created a nice bouquet:

Hannah really loves being outside in the Spring. She is sitting just outside her "spot" - she hides amidst the plantings, giving her a nice view of the visitors to the birdfeeder and the pond. Hannah has emerged from her spot because Rascal has just come outside and we are put on "orange alert" (Medium threat for kitty-cat smackdown).

Last photo for today - dinner hamburgers, hot on the grill.

After dinner, I had a violin lesson, Brian had TKD and Scott had an Elder meeting. I managed to watch a couple songs on American Idol (I didn't catch Adam singing/screaming, thank goodness). I expect Kris will be leaving tomorrow, but you never know.....


Monday, May 11, 2009

134/365 - Water Games

Even though the air temps didn't reach 70 degF today, somehow the kids got in their head it was warm enough to get out the sprinkler, put on bathing suits and get wet.

Erica laid out the beach towel, as if she would be able to get some sun and enjoy some light reading. Somehow, lying on concrete is not my idea of comfortable, but try telling that to a 11 year old.

Then shenanigans started - somehow the kids thought it would be fun to fortify the playhouse with towels - to protect the inhabitants from the ensuing water fights. I swear, they removed every beach towel + more from the closets. And umbrellas, too.

Did I mention the water was really cold?


Nothing like some brisk water games to keep the blood circulating!


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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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