Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

MCP Project 52: View From Here


Crocus
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It's the eighth week in MCP Project 52 and the theme was "the view from here."

I spied the first crocus of the season pushing its way through the leaves while weeding in preparation for spring. To capture the idea of "the view from here" I laid down amongst the leaves to get just the right angle. I find it is always worthwhile to get to the same level as your subject. and this time was not the exception.

I put the lens right up to the flowers and set my little point and shoot on Macro, thus creating the lovely bokeh in the background. Laying there I fired off about 15 shots. In the end I got about 3 pictures I liked with this one being the best. I'm fairly pleased with the end result.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Non Sequitur: Telemarketers

This is possibly my all time favorite cartoon. I cut it out of the newspaper when it first run way back on Feb. 21st, 1999. I haven't seen it published since.

Because of telemarketers I have become a huge fan of caller ID. If I don't recognize the number (of the 1-800 variety) or the screen flashes it's UNAVAILABLE, I don't pick up the phone. If the call is important they will leave a message. My feeling is that the phone is for my convenience and as such I'll answer when I darn well feel like it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Artist of the Week: Beans and Worms


maybe Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is El Bandito Nate. And yes, he and his friends drew a mustache on Nate's face while riding home on the bus just the other day.

It started off as a sort of truth or dare thing. The original mustache was rather small, but Nate decided it looked stupid and figured bigger was better. So for the rest of the day I felt like I had a short crazed bandit running around the house. Fortunately no permanent markers were available on the bus and it pretty much washed off with just a bit of scrubbing.

I think the best comment about Nate's new look came from Jake, "... you like the first person that fell asleep at a party." As for my reaction, I figured the less said the better. I thought the whole thing was very funny and I was glad it was not done with a sharpie.

With all the silliness that is Nate there is also a serious and academically motivated side. Like Jake in 6th grade, Nate had to do a science fair project this year. He chose a project not too dissimilar from Jake's first project. Instead of fertilizer though, Nate chose worms and their effect on plant growth.

Nate's project was a bit more modest in scope than Jake's, however I had to buy worms. 500 red wigglers to be exact. I've never aspired to be a vermiculturist, but then again parenthood is full of surprising turns. The good news once spring is really here I can dump the whole lot into the lawn. So far the little beasties are hanging in there. They did seem to help the plants along and on the whole the project was a success. Hopefully next I won't have to buy any more critters.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter Is Back


My Little Eskimo
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After a string of warm, almost hot days: winter weather is back in full force.

This morning there were actual snow flakes swirling through the air. Quite a rude awakening after the 70+ temperatures we ad just a few days ago. The snow didn't stick and the buses all came at there regularly scheduled times. Though it was a close thing with the sleet last night and the snow this morning.

Now if we had today's weather three weeks ago it would have been hailed as a warm spell. Instead it was on the heels of warm spring-like weather and was called a cold snap instead. We had to break out our winter coats again and bundle up for the bus stop.

The weather can be so very cruel this time of year.

Monday, February 21, 2011

And the Winner For Tropfest 2011 is...

Animal Beatbox.

A big surprise to me, not at all like the other films I've featured here. Heck I hadn't even seen it until today, but it is great fun to watch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Best Homework Ever

Today at the end of Nate's guitar lesson he was instructed to listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King. Five minutes after Nate's teacher left I cued up Little Wing, one of my all time favorites.

If could I get homework like that I would take lessons as well.

Friday, February 18, 2011

MCP Project 52: Open Your Heart


Max and John 2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I submitted this photograph of Max with John for this week's MCP Project 52. The theme this week is "open your heart" and I felt the interaction of Max with the dogs best represented the theme.

In all likely hood if Max had never grown up with dogs he probably wouldn't like them. Dogs are messy and unpredictable and Max is not a big fan of either. Max is still a bit wary of big dogs, but our very silly and loving dogs has opened his heart. He has told me on numerous occasions how he will have a miniature dachshund when he is all grown up and out on his own.

I'm glad our dogs were able to worm their way into his affections and open up the world of companion animals to him. The world can be a lonely place and having a pet can warm up your little corner.

As to the picture itself I tried out adding texture. The effect I used is called dry brush and I like the feel it gives to the finial product. I generally avoid using such filters and effects, but it's good to try something different once in a while.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Artist of the Week: Show Choir Band


show chorus band
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Or, as I like to call them, the unseen heroes of Show Choir. Either way Jake's show choir band is this week's artist.

Tonight was their big season debut, the dreaded pyramid concert. This time around it was a far, far better experience. There was far more information about the event and the fund raising was limited to food sales before the now free concert (I think the music directors got an earful from the concert four years ago). I still feel sorry for all the fifth grades dragooned into performing, but I'm focusing on my son who was there by choice. He volunteered to be part of the band that played off stage for his high school show choirs. You can just see them in the wings. They are all dressed in black so as not to attract attention. Jake is on the far left holding his trumpet. Below is the closing number "How Far We've Come" from the co-ed choir's set.


I think the band did a terrific job. The music was a real stretch for Jake, but he really wanted to play. Which I think is he best way for him to grow as a musician. On the whole it was very enjoyable listening to a live band performing with the choirs, particularly during this swingin' tune.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Vulture Day!


16 Vultures
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Monday may have been Valentine's Day, but in my backyard it started out as Vulture day.

When I let the dogs out for their morning airing I glanced up at the trees bordering our yard and was stunned to see the branches filled with vultures. At one point we had 22 Black Vultures balefully glaring down at us. This was a moment worthy of capturing for posterity.

If you look closely you can see 16 vultures. It's a good thing I'm not the superstitious type, I never would have left the house.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Music Box - Mixtape Club

Another fun film from Showtime's Short Stories. I found it not only enjoyable to watch, but a pleasure to listen to as well.
And yes, this would normally be posted on Monday. But that was my blogiversary and I have decided to shift the whole week over by one day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Six

And so far not six feet under.

Well my tiny little corner of the internet turned 6 years old today, which is amazing. I'm just poking along with my pictures and my stories and a few of you keep coming back.

So thank you. We have cookies and brownies in the kitchen, just help yourself.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Turn in the Weather


fountain
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After experiencing one of the coldest winters in the area since we moved here, things are warming up.

There will be no icicles on the fountain for the rest of the week. We are looking at 50 degrees or more for the rest of the week. Rumor has it that will even hit 70! Twice! Tomorrow and possibly Friday.

Normal yo-yo February weather for around here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

MCP Project 52: Looking Up


looking up
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's MCP Project 52 theme is Words.

This week it only took a moment for me to decide what to do. All I needed was a clear day a Richmond and I would be all set.

Larry noticed shortly after we moved to the Richmond area that the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom by Thomas Jefferson was writ large on a a building in the historic Shockoe Slip area of downtown Richmond.

The statute reads as follows:

We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. 1786
Thomas Jefferson


We have been meaning to photograph it for years and this was just the impetus I needed. And as a bonus just two blocks away is the Flood Wall upon which are banners celebrating Richmond's history. If I wasn't happy with the Statute I could use the Flood Wall instead.

So Wednesday dawned clear and bright and a bit cold, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. After sending off children to their respective schools I headed to Richmond. I was able to snag a parking spot 30 feet away from the Statute. I spent the following hour playing tourist, photographing the Statute, the Flood Wall and even the Canal Walk. It was a very productive hour.

I took a full on picture of the statute, but it's so boring compared to this one. I like how the paint colors fade into the sky and how the words stretch away. I did minimal processing, the photo works just the way I shot it.

Update:
Woohoo! My picture got featured this week!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Walkable


Canal walk
Originally uploaded by
Yesterday I drove into Richmond just to take pictures. It was a bright, but cold day. Perfect for what I wanted to do.

It is really no big deal to drive into the city and I can usually find parking not too far from where I want to be. I might have to walk a block or two, but I don't mind the exercise. I have found Richmond to be fascinating little city to view on foot.

My main interest was to photograph two spots in area called Shockoe Slip. It's the older part of downtown with cobblestone streets that run along the mighty James River. While cutting across from one street to another I ended up down on the canal walk.

From this point of the canal system you can ride a boat and get a narration on the canal's history. I haven't done it yet, but I hear it's a worthwhile experience. I have, however, walked most of the 1 1/4 mile length of the Canal Walk. It is not the most exciting of adventures, but you get to see some little pockets of Richmond you would miss not on foot. Plus there are plaques all along the walkway about the history of the canal and Richmond. One thing I learned was around the 1860s Richmond was largest flour milling center in he United States.

I can't wait to go back down once the weather is just a bit more inviting.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Artist of the Week: Book Report


In the Garden
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca is this week's artist with her book report about "The Day of The Dragon King."

As you can probably guess this picture of Rebecca is not terribly recent, what with it being winter and all. It was taken this past August when we did our regular summer pilgrimage up north to visit family. We attended a small family reunion with Larry's maternal cousins while we were in Connecticut.

The reunion was held on the grounds of an old estate called Waveny. We had no interest in the house, instead we set up in a folly located at the end of a walkway in the gardens. It was a delightfully shady location that captured the breeze. Nearby was a rose garden that surrounded a butterfly garden. Rebecca and her cousins had a lot of fun seeing all the different blooms and spotting the butterflies. It was a lovely place to have a reunion.


magic tree house
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
However it is winter now and the gardens are covered with a deep blanket of snow. The only way to see the garden in all it's summertime splendor right now would have to be magic.

Like traveling via the Magic Tree House in Rebecca's book.

For those unfamiliar with the the Magic Tree House, it is a series of chapter books geared towards elementary school readers. Rebecca has read a couple of different books from the series (as have all of her brothers) and is currently doing a book report on one.

The report is due on Friday and consists of a little booklet dived into Settings, Characters, and Plot. Rebecca is expected to write at least a short paragraph in each section and create an illustration.

I like what so has drawn for the settings page. She has included the tree house, a Chinese castle, and Jack & Annie's home. Her handwriting is also very neat, especially considering she did all her writing without any sort of lines. Rebecca is putting some serious effort in this assignment and is doing a little bit each day. Far better than the last book report which was done in a slap dash manner at the very last second. I'm very proud of the fact that my daughter has learned from her mistake and is wanting to do a (much!) better job.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Orange Juice with a Wedge of...

Cheese?

Rebecca has a very definite style sense. She appreciates that good food should not only taste and smell good, it should look good. A meal should be a veritable feast for the senses.

But she also has a very quirky sense of humor.

Today's example is her glass of orange juice. She was not content to have a plain old glass of juice, oh no. It had to have a wedge of something garnishing the rim. Most people would go for an orange or lemon wedge, but not my girl.

She was hungry, hungry for cheese.

So she got out a Mini Babybel cheese wheel from the fridge, unwrapped it, gleefully announced she was "cutting the cheese," and jammed it on the rim of her glass.

It was decidedly odd, but she loved it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

In Loco Parentis

Yet another short listed movie from Tropfest 2011. I think it's a great little movie, but I think Train Girl just barely edges it out.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Blown


blown
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Every year my mother sends me live flowers, usually in bulb form. This year was not the exception and I received a lovely planter with a mix of red and white tulip bulbs. They are easy enough to grow and I really enjoy them through the bleak months of winter. We might not get all the snow that every one else is getting up north, but it is equally deary looking out the windows at the seemingly dead trees and lawn.

We all love watching the green little shoots poking up from the soil and then growing at a seemingly exponential rate. Buds swell and soon burst forth into bright splashes of red or white.

Sadly the blooms don't last through the rest of winter, but I do like them until the very bitter end when all the petals drop off. They just strike me as more dramatic when they are all blown. Soon the petals will drop from this flower and I'll have to store the bulbs until spring. Tulips never really have a chance in my backyard with all the deer, but I'm an optimist and every year I give it another go and plant them around the deck.

Oh and on a totally unrelated note- Way to go Packers!

Friday, February 04, 2011

MCP Project 52: The Universe in Her Hands

Or conversely, the Universe is My Muse.

This week's theme, Muse, really had me stumped. I don't have any particular muse. I briefly considered the dogs, thus upping their picture count to be three out of the five assignments so far. However I decided it was a poor joke and that I needed to come up with something else.

Then I had it. I could find a little itty bitty globe and photograph it being cupped in a pair of hands. I could say that the world is my muse and that would be roughly accurate.

So off to the dollar store in search of a globe, be it a pencil sharpener, a key chain, or what have you.

I sort of found what I was looking for right off the bat. Just to be sure that it was what I wanted I checked out the rest of the toy aisle. I was keeping my eyes open for alternatives when I struck gold.

It was a tube containing eight glow in the dark planets. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune were all there. Only poor little dwarf planet (or whatever it's categorized now) was left out.

Cool!

I snatched those up along with some star stickers.

Back home I decorated the inside of a blue bowl with the stickers and poured the plants inside. Rebecca was my lovely and very patient hand model. I think the whole thing turned out rather nice.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

It Never Ends

For one glorious hour I had no dirty laundry. All three hampers were empty and the last load was in the wash. Everything else was folded and ready to be put away.

Then Nate came home, announced his jeans were filthy (and they certainly were) and stripped them off.

I kinda hoped it would have lasted just a bit longer.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Artist of the Week: Kinkajou


Nate and the boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Nate.

Nate can often be found on the dog couch and yes it really is the dogs' couch. It is the one piece of furniture they are allowed up on and for the most part the dogs honor that. As for Nate, well he really is just a big puppy. He loves to pile up on the couch with the dogs.

You'll find him there in the morning, after school and just before bedtime. hugging the red boys and sometimes doing absurd things like balancing stuffed animals on the dogs' heads. Of course he spends a fair amount of his time running around, but his down time is often with the dogs.


kinkajou
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So it's pretty easy to say that Nate is an animal lover and his affection extends to all sorts of creatures.

During his first quarter of the school year he was taking art. One of the assignments was to create a painting of the rain forest and do a short report. Nate selected the kinkajou as his subject.

My picture really does not do the work justice. The style is very evocative of Henri Rousseau (which is intentional, or at least that's what I remember him telling me). He made a nice use of color and I like the little dabs of purple signifying flowers that the kinkajou is dining upon. Nate had a great deal of fun in art and it's a pity that he will not be able to fit it in again this year.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Book Thief

I like to read.

I like to read a lot and I have fairly broad taste in reading material. I haunt the new shelf and the staff picks at my local library. When I hit on an author I like I'll delve into the stacks for earlier works. I've been known to start books I've found on vacation and pick them up to finish at my library once I'm back home.

Currently I'm plowing through the entire Dune Universe. I've reread the original six books by Frank Herbert and I've gotten through eight of the books written by Brain Herbert (Frank's son) with Kevin J. Anderson. Interspersed amongst the Dune saga have been a books with a bit more literary merit (all Dune all the time would be a bit like an all candy diet, only your brain rots instead of your teeth).

One of my most recent literary reads was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. My mother in law had it her house and highly recommended it to me. I read about sixty odd pages while we visited and found the book to be gripping. My in-laws offered to send the book home with me, but it was from their local library and I didn't want to bother. I knew I could get easily enough at home.

The best description of the book comes from within the story itself.
It’s just a small story really, about among other things:
  • A girl
  • Some words
  • An accordionist
  • Some fanatical Germans
  • A Jewish fist-fighter
  • And quite a lot of thievery
I don't want say any more for fear of spoiling the book. It's classified as juvenile fiction, but it's geared towards a young adult and adults, in fact in the author's home of Australia it's classified just under adult so don't let the juvenile label fool you (I certainly would not suggest it to the 9 year olds in our house). I found it to be a very good read that left me sobbing at the end.