Need your help!

Blessing of the Animals - 2004

I know that, as a whole, bloggers are pretty shy about stating their opinions online. So I’m going to ask you to take a step outside your comfort zone for a few minutes and let me know what you think. Uh, yeah. Shy. That’s it. Right.

But seriously, I do need your help. In a month or so, J.P. and I will be the official photographers at “our” rescue’s Blessing of the Animals. We’ve done it before. The picture you see above is from 2004, when we still had our old camera. My question is:

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Recovery Randomness

Really still life

J.P. and I returned from Minnesota on Sunday night, after two long days of driving. We had a good, relaxing vacation, and Maggie couldn’t have been better with the kids, dogs, and birds, or as a passenger in the car.

I won’t say I was looking forward to going back to work today—that would really be a stretch. But somehow it did seem almost like the first day of school and the fresh start it brings. After I got to the office, that feeling lasted for all of 20 minutes. It took me nearly all day to slog through my 200+ emails in between conference calls. So maybe tomorrow I can do some actual work!

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When I put away the Easter decorations three weeks ago (Shut up! They weren’t still sitting out—they were in “temporary storage” in the butler’s pantry.), I found an unopened bag of Starburst jellybeans. I threw them into my bag for a road trip treat.

As we drove and I munched, I realized that I have a Jellybean Consumption Method. In each handful, I separate them by color. I eat my least favorite flavor first, then proceed with the next least favorite, and so on. Here’s my order, from least favorite to most favorite:

  1. Yellow/lemon
  2. Orange/orange (duh!)
  3. Red/cherry
  4. Green/apple(?)
  5. Purple/grape
  6. Pink/strawberry

Note: This list applies only to Starburst jellybeans. The order may differ for Brach’s or other run-of-the-mill brands. However, when black beans are in the mix they always top the least-favorite list, and they never see the inside of my mouth.

What’s your JCM?

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Wow, that butler’s pantry pic (link above) really blew me away:

My Actual Bad Habit

Can you believe how BAD the photo is??? Wow—my photography and Photoshop skills have really improved in the last year, if I do say so myself. My cleaning and organizational skills, however, have not. The pantry looks pretty much like this today. Hmm . . . maybe it just has a seasonal rotation . . . you know, like department store displays. This is its Summer Look.

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How’s that for a random post? Please bear with me as I recover from our trip and too many 3:00 AM bedtimes. I hope to be back to my regular (1:00 AM) bedtime and schedule soon. Of course, that means I’ll probably go back to once-a-week posts too. Hey, less frequent posts—something for you to look forward to! 🙂

Today’s events

Would you believe we went back to the fair? Yep, tonight after Character Builder got home from work, we all headed out. The kids rode the rides and played games. And of course, we had a few more things to eat. I think we’re pretty much “faired out.”

I took a bunch of kid pics in the hopes of getting one good enough to put this free photo canvas coupon to good use. But alas, it seems all I got out of it was a little learning about my new umbrella and light stand.

Catherine Triptych

Alex Triptych (with color burn layer)

I also learned a bit about creating triptychs in Photoshop. Like it would be a good idea to have the same “top margin” in all three shots since they’re so similar. But that’s experience I’ll put to good use next time, because I need to get to bed (it’s 2:15!). Good night!

Tidbits from the road

Well, we made it to Minnesota safe and sound. And it seems like we’ve been stuffing our faces ever since we got here. Ham, potato salad, unbelievably awesome coconut cake, baked French toast, hamburgers on the grill, Chinese from Leeann Chin, and awesome toasted macaroni and cheese from this place:

Lunch courtesy of Suzie

After we returned from Florida last month, a gift card for Lettuce Entertain You restaurants arrived in our mailbox. It was a gift from Suzie and the Hubs, and we were quite surprised and very excited—she had emailed my sister to find out what Twin Cities restaurants we like. One of our favorites is Big Bowl. Both Big Bowl and Twin City Grill are owned by this company, so we used some of the gift today and we’ll hit Big Bowl before we leave town. Thanks, Suzie and Hubs!

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Character Builder‘s youngest, Lauren, is quite a pistol. Somehow we got on the subject of where we live.

Sharkey: I live in Pennsylvania. Where do you live?
Lauren: Falicornia.

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Alex is growing like a weed. I was playing around with off-camera flash in my parents’ backyard yesterday and managed to get a decent shot of him.

Alex - Flash in the grass

I should’ve asked him to put down the stick and get rid of the Tomagotchi (sp?) around his neck, but oh well . . . he’s a 10 year-old kid. And I guess that’s why God invented Photoshop.

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Finally, this is what greeted us in the guest room at Character Builder’s today:

In our room at Character Builder's

I think it’s Catherine’s handiwork. I’m not sure what P.H.T.F.P. stands for (any guesses?). I was impressed that she could spell Presbyterian, and that she got the accent (what’s that thing really called?) right over the e in Pokemon. Not bad for a seven year-old, huh?

Busy weekend


Have you ever spent any time trying to write with your non-dominant hand? Your brain knows how to form the letters, but somehow it has trouble directing your hand to move in the direction you know it needs to go. That’s how I’m feeling right now because we got a new computer this weekend, and it’s a MacBook. It has a keyboard and a mouse and a screen, but everything else is different enough that I have that weird sensation of writing with my left hand. I’ll leave the particulars about the computer to J.P., as it’s really his story to tell. And he has accompanying photos!

Friday I got a haircut! Woohoo—aren’t you excited? It’s sad, but I was. You see, my hair had been driving me crazy! And I thought my appointment was this coming Friday, so I was prepared to deal with it for one more week. Good thing they left a reminder message on the machine, or I would’ve missed it.

In the afternoon, my freshly-cut hair and I went to the home of our neighbor’s daughter. Said daughter had a daughter two months ago, and I was to take pictures. It was my first session with someone I didn’t really know, so I was a little nervous. But despite spit-up and a little crankiness (on the baby’s part, not mine!), I think it went okay. The piggy pic above is my favorite one. (I know, Suzie, you’re really surprised about that.)

Yesterday was a flurry of rehearsing and cleaning and gift-shopping and painting and entertaining. We really should entertain more often, because it means the house gets cleaned. And boy did this house need it! It’s so nice to feel the clean kitchen floor underfoot. Not nice enough to do it more often, mind you, but nice nonetheless.

For dinner with our friends, J.P. grilled salmon and orange roughy, and we dined al fresco so we could enjoy the beautiful weather. Then it was inside for brownies and a rousing game of Uno with a six year-old.

Today I played at both the 8:00 and 9:30 services at church, and then we went to a baptism luncheon. I should’ve finished painting shutters this afternoon, but I decided to read for a while first. I got through a few chapters and realized a nap was in order. That was pretty much the rest of my afternoon, and it also explains why I’m still wide awake at 12:30.

Will I never learn?

Your wish is my command

Spooky old tree

I’ve driven by this tree for years, and every time I think, “I’ve gotta take a picture of that.” I just think it’s so cool looking. I’d love to get closer to it, but there’s a fence that prevents it. I think I might have to go back with the telephoto lens sometime. It reminds me of when Character Builder‘s son Alex was little guy, and he was afraid of the Berenstain Bears story The Spooky Old Tree.

And now to your requests from my last post . . . . Cherie thought I should take a shot looking down at something. Normally you don’t see our shutters lying on the ground, but J.P. risked life and limb to remove them from the house on Sunday. I’m in the midst of painting them, and here you see some that have been primed (lighter) and others that have been painted (darker). It’s not the most exciting photo, but I liked the way the lines were distorted. (I suppose that’s the purpose of the fisheye, huh?)

For Cherie

William suggested that I take pictures at the airport. What, William, you want me to get arrested? But I aim to please, so I took a shot of one of J.P.‘s transformers. Partial credit?

For William

Suzie, I tried to get to SF today to see you and the Golden Gate, but with all the airport delays my plan didn’t work out. But I’m sure you’ll forget all about me when you get to the beach this weekend.

A couple people suggested pictures of animals. Maggie decided she would cooperate tonight, and I was able to get this shot:

Big nose

And finally, OddMix asked for a picture of J.P. How’s this one, John? Does it qualify for “frazzle” on the WWC list this week?

Something’s fishy

Living room print

I haven’t been so into the photography thing since we got back from Florida. It figures, doesn’t it? Now that I have two memory cards I can store more than 1000 photos. But have I wanted to take any? No.

I thought I might need a little inspiration, so last week I was browsing They had a fisheye lens in stock, and I rented it on the spur of the moment. It’s a 16mm, and it’s not quite as fishy as I expected. For example, I don’t see a lot of distortion in this image (granted, I cropped it a bit):

Endless aisle

It does make the aisle look endless though, doesn’t it? Wegmans is a big store, but it’s not quite that big. And in case you’re wondering: Yes, J.P. is sometimes embarrassed to be seen with me in public. Like when I carry a camera instead of my purse, and take pictures in the grocery store. Or when I walk around the front yard, taking pictures of the mailbox, the street, and our house.


As long as the grocery store aisle looks, the close-up shots look tall and flat. But here’s my favorite shot of the weekend:

Tiny moon

I like the rounded horizon (a corn field), the little bit of pink left in the sky, and the itty-bitty moon.

I don’t have to return the lens until Friday. Is there anything you want me to shoot with the fisheye perspective while I still have it? I’m taking suggestions, but don’t bother to ask for a self-portrait. J.P. took a picture of me on Saturday, and let me tell ya, fisheye Sharkey ain’t a pretty sight!