Friday, April 29, 2011

MCP Project 52: Princess For A Day

Spinning princess
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's MCP Project 52's theme was another easy one. Who better than to photograph for "Princess For A Day"than our very own little princess Rebecca? The hard part was getting the weather to cooperate. All this week it was been very wet with some fast moving thunderstorms, but today was glorious.

I told Rebecca what this week's theme was and asked for if she would like to help me. She was more than happy to don her princess dress and come outside with me. I had her pose on a our garden bench and got a nice demure shot, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. Rebecca was game to continue on, but she balked at the idea of being in our castle (I thought it would be cute, she thought it would be ridiculous). Instead I sent her out onto the lawn and try spinning around.

That was exactly what I wanted.

Amongst the giggles, the dizziness, and the missed shots I found the image I wanted. The arms outstretched, the lawn dappled in sunlight, and the blurred motion came together at the very end. It still isn't perfect, but it is just right.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brandie New

About two weeks ago I lost my camera. My beloved Fujifilm Fine Pix E900 that I knew so well. I *think* I left it on the field after one of Rebecca's soccer games or at the table when we picked up a hot dog from the concession stand next to the parking lot. Either way it doesn't matter, the camera was long gone when I puzzled out what happened three days later. Jake was extremely generous and offered the use of his camera while I sort things out. So I've been using a borrowed camera and researching like mad on what to replace my missing E900.

My requirements are the same as the last time I went looking, viewfinder is a must and the batteries would ideally be regular AA or AAA batteries.

It turns out that the viewfinder requirement is a rather tall order. Manufactures are phasing out viewfinders on point and shoot cameras in favor of larger LCD screens. Which really irritates me, on bright sunny days it's almost impossible to see anything on the LCD screens. Picture taking becomes a sort of point, shoot, and pray you got the image you want. The DSLRs still have viewfinders, but right now I don't want to go that route.

After a lot of searching I settled on a Fujjifilm S1500. I really like the feel of the Fujifilm cameras and the software to download pictures from the camera to your computer is pretty good. Overall the camera has mixed reviews, but I think it's pluses outweigh the negatives.

Now I just have to wait until the weather clears to put my new camera through its paces.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Artist of the Week: Champion of Record

tired pup
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
A very tired Dell is this week's artist.

Part of the deal when we got Dell was that ideally he would be shown and, hopefully, earn his championship. I'm a fair handler albeit rusty, but his co-owner and friend is a wonderful handler. She would be more than happy to show the boy, all I had to do was keep him fit and pay entry fees.

So we have been showing him on and off for a couple of years now. To become a champion (at least in AKC's eyes) Dell needed a total of 15 points, which are earned by defeating other smooth dachshunds with a point scale assigned by the number of dogs entered. The more dogs, the greater the number of points, which range from 1 through 5. With the absolute minimum number of dogs in competition being 2 (you have to beat at least one dog to get a point). Also point totals of 3, 4 and 5 are called majors and the dog must earn two majors under two different judges.


Dell initially racked up the points, but lately we've had a bit of a dry spell. Our problem was that in order to finish Dell he needed one more major. The the economy being what it is and the cost of gas people are no longer showing as much. The most frustrating was when one time Dell won and the major broke. There had been enough dogs entered, but one didn't show up in the ring and as a result there wasn't enough dogs to qualify for three points, so the points dropped down to just two (ie the major broke).

All through out his campaign Dell has been his cheerful goofy self, giving kisses and wagging his tail. We had even passed him off to other handlers and each time they had nothing but praise. One person even gave him a ride from the show back to near where we lived and confessed that it was very tempting to just keep him for herself. She never would, but if Dell needed a home...

Anyway this past weekend Dell finished and finished big. He became a Champion on Friday and the next day earned a Select ribbon in the class he was moved up to. What made it even more impressive was that a Junior handler (ie a child ranging from 9 to 18) showed him both days. Our handler is very good friends with the child's mom and they ended up swopping dogs all weekend. Dell didn't care, he was just happy to be there and have people pay attention to him.

However the whole ting was exhausting and he's happy to be back home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

That Was Spring

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I guess our spring was last week when we went to the Shenandoah River State Park. The leaves were just out and we had a few cool days. Lovely spring weather that was only marred by the wind blown eddies of pollen.

Now the temperature is parked in the upper 70s to mid 80s with forays all the way to 90.


I'll just keep looking at lovely pictures from our vacation to remind me of cooler weather and when the trees began to leaf out.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Been Fishin'

Been Fishin'
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Things have a bit lean here because last week was spring break and the start of Passover. We decided to take off to Shenandoah River State Park for a few nights and try a little fishing, a bit of hiking and exploring in Luray Caverns. We had hoped to do some rafting as well, but the Shenandoah river was still swollen and angry looking after the recent flooding. When the river is a bit friendlier we'll give the rafting another go.

Aside from the aborted rafting, we had a great time and were able to pretty much do as we planned. It wasn't the best conditions for fishing, but all the boys had a chance to learn how to cast (Rebecca made her own pole and stuck with that). Nate and Jake got a good idea on how to cast and were fairly enthusiastic. Next time we go out to fish they'll be ready to go.

It was a lovely break and we all had fun.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

MCP Project 52: Furry Friends

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's theme was "Furry Friends" and was dead easy considering the amount of pictures I take of our dogs. The only trick was we were traveling for spring break sans dogs. I just had to make sure to snap a few pictures after we got back and before the deadline.

I was just able to pull it off with this rather contented looking picture of John with Nate.

We have just gotten back from a little jaunt to the Shenandoah river valley and John was retrieved from the kennel shortly thereafter. A good time was had by all, excepting the plethora of ticks and the lack of canine companionship. But now Nate has John to cuddle with again and we are (mostly) tick free.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Passover

seder plate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This year we got to use our brand new Seder plate. I found it by accident while getting Kosher for Passover supplies. We needed one and I couldn't resist.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Nana!

Nana and Throopie Lou
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
To celebrate here is a picture of my mom with her first dachshund before she was a mom.

I know she went out with friends today, tomorrow she'll get flowers (oops on my part, silly weekend got in the way of the delivery schedule).

So happy birthday mom!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Suggestions Welcomed

I lost my beloved Fujifilm Finepix last weekend.

Fortunately I regularly download pictures so I didn't lose any pictures as well. Jake has generously offered me the use of his camera. He even went so far as just flat out giving it to me, but I can't do that to him. His Canon is a nice camera, but I'm thinking of going a step up.

So suggestions are welcomed, nay encouraged. At this point I still want a point and shoot, but with the potential of manual controls and I absolutely require some sort of viewfinder. The LCD screens are a very thing, but I don't like how the glare bright sunlight completely washes them out. One interesting camera I've recently learned of is the Ricoh GX100.

So any ideas or recommendations?

Friday, April 15, 2011

MCP Project 52: What others think

What others think
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week was another theme I was less than thrilled with, but I think I basically fulfilled it.

Sort of.

I originally was going to take a bunch of pictures and make a photo collage. However, I got lazy/ inspired and settled on a still life instead.

The duck has about three aspects going for it. Larry thinks I'm "just ducky"(most of the time), it dressed like a little pilgram and that's my heritage, and I do a fair job personifying the quote from Michael Caine “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”

The two little dachshund pins are pretty self explanatory as are the blue ribbons with the pretend baked goods. At the last minute I threw in the Swiss army knife because I have a well known practical and handy streak. And the whole mess was mostly done with toys and set up on our Little Tikes castle which symbolizes the whole being a mom thing.

It's not the greatest picture, but in the end I did have fun setting it up.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Geese on the Move

When I saw this little family of geese trudging along the road today I had to pull over and take pictures. It wasn't safe to just pull over so I ended up turning off and parking the van in a neighboring parking lot. I then grabbed the camera and cut through the woods to met up with the geese. They got a bit spooked by me and crossed over to the median while I watched on about 10 feet from the edge of the road.

Sadly my pictures turn out, the camera kept focusing on the bracken between me and the birds. Luckily I had the good sense to try shooting a movie and I was much happier with the resulting footage.

The clip above is a common sight this time of year. Our local Canada goose population have nests dotted about and every day you can see them waddling along the road to pond located next to an office building.

Amazingly very few geese get hit by cars, I only remember one in the past decade we have lived here. Local drivers know to be on the lookout and will even stop for wayward birds on the road. It's hard to tell in my movie, but the cars are being driven at significantly lower speeds than would the norm on this stretch of divided road.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Artist of the Week: Mola

Nate with his mola
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week it's Nate's turn to be the artist.

This is my last picture of him with his long hair. Oh, it's still long, just not flowing to his shoulders. He wanted the haircut and after the initial shock (really it was just an inch and a half, but his natural curl makes it look shorter) he basically likes it. One of these days he is going to go for a crew cut, but not for a while.

The funniest reaction was at school the next day. Nate told me that one friend blurted "It's not long any more! You don't look like Jesus anymore!"

And honestly, we thought it was hilarious.

Nate's Mola
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for the not so flowing locks artist it turned out he too had an artwork at the school district's big arts and sciences show. He decided that since Max and Rebecca had given Larry and I their invitations he didn't have to bother. Nate knew we would go and he would tell us when we got there. That and the invite got lost in his backpack.

Earlier in the year he had Art class. The class explored various forms of art one of which being molas. And as a side note reading about molas has made me realize that my decision nigh on twenty years ago to have one sewn on the back of my jean jacket was very appropriate. Anyhoodle, in Nate's class they made molas out of construction paper.

The colors he chose are vibrant and contrast beautifully with the black overlay. Nate did a lovely job on the animal cutouts and captured the essence of the mola. It immeadiately made me think of the one I have that once was on my jacket. I need to dig it up one of these days and take a few pictures.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tick Tock - short film by Ien Chi

Tick tock, you have 5 minutes left in your life. What would you do?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quiet Weekend

highway home
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I didn't do a whole lot of driving this weekend.

Larry and I divvied up the kids and I ended up only taking Rebecca to her game. Larry took Max (his game conflicted with Rebecca's) and in the afternoon took Nate. And I'm happy to report that in all three games our team won.

Woo Hoo!

Then all I had to do was run the crew up to Richmond for Hebrew school.

The rest of my time was spent reading and picking up the hundreds of sticks from the lawn so we could mow. The lawn still doesn't look great, but at least the weeds and grass are all at the same height. I won't even talk about what the dogs did, except that it took 15 bags of soil and a 5 pound bag of grass seed to fix their mole hunting activities.

Having dachshunds is not conducive to having a perfect lawn.

Otherwise it was a lovely weekend with the added bonus of Meryl coming for dinner.

Friday, April 08, 2011

MCP Project 52: Fusion

Library Fusion
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's theme was fusion and it had me stumped for quite a while. I considered driving into Richmond and photographing a couple of places with fusion in the name, but it didn't thrill me and it wasn't worth the time or gas.

In the end I opted for something far quicker and local, a trip to the library. After a five minute search for books with fusion in the title I was able to pull four books off the shelves: "Fire From Ice- Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor," "Fusion Fitness," "Cold Fusion- The Making of a Scientific Controversy," and "Feng Shui Fusion." They made quite a motley assortment. I then quietly went to the back wall of the children's section, cleared a shelf, set up my books, and took a picture.

This was definitely my least inspired picture and, so far, my least favorite assignment. I was able to figure out something in the end, but I certainly wouldn't call it my favorite picture of the week. That honor would go to all the crab apple pictures (With and without bees!) I took earlier in the week.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spring Blossoms

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This picture is why I love our crab apple tree.

I love the little pink flower buds, all tightly furled and nestled amongst the young leaves. Then they burst forth, the petals softening in color to a delicately blushed white. Pale yellow stamens boldly reach out and beckon to all the bees. The blooms posses a delicate scent that fills the air without overwhelming.

The rest of the trees in the background, excepting the forsythia- another spring favorite, are still bare. Just the barest hint of color before leaves fill their barren boughs.

I'm always grateful this time of year that our crab apple was planted near the house right by kitchen windows.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Artist of the Week: Drawing From Memory

twin artists
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week we get a double dose of artists.

Max and Rebecca both had art works selected for the school district's big arts and sciences show. Which is a pretty big deal, space is very limited and the art teachers try to pick the best of the various projects across the grades. Not every kid gets to be included during their academic career.

So you can imagine our delight when we got invites for both Max and Rebecca. The show is open to the public, the invites are given out to the children whose works have been selected, thus insuring that the parents are aware and motivated to come. I know most years we don't bother since our weekends are so jam packed with sports. This year, however we made the effort to attend.

Max's drawing from memory
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
First up is Max's piece.

The assignment was to draw something from memory. The memory Max chose to draw is described below the picture in a short paragraph:
I was watching TV but then I heard Nate. I looked outside the front door. I saw Jan and Dell with a turtle.
From what I've gathered the turtle spotting occurred around sunset. You can see Max standing by the front stoop under a very colorful sky. It's a very bold picture, especially for Max. I like that for once Max has filled up the whole sheet of picture and it's not with his usually teeny tiny figures. It is a very compelling drawing and I can see why it was included in the show.

Last, but not least is Rebecca's contribution to the show.

The teacher in charge of displaying the artworks placed Miss Rebecca's picture roughly adjacent to Max's creation. It is common knowledge around the school that Max and Rebecca are twins so she felt that it was only right that their pictures be near each other. I liked it because I could get both the artists and their respective works in the same picture.

Anyhoodle, Rebecca also drew a picture from memory. Her picture was about our summer vacation:
Last summer I went to my family's beach house. I was happy to go there. I had a lot of fun. I found lots of shells. I also played in the water. I had a grate time!
Rebecca's art teacher is unaware of this, but this is a rather accurate rendition of the beach by my cousin's house. The beach is not on open water, instead we are nesteled in a bay with buildings clearly visible across the water. Rebecca also seems to have an intuitive grasp of the rule of thirds. She has placed herself in the lower third (Well really half. But the effect of sky, water, then sand makes it thirds.) of the picture on the sandy beach. I like her decision not to color the sky, instead just having a few clouds, the sun and some birds.

Stylistically Max and Rebecca's pictures are very different and I like the fact that they were free to interpret the assignment in their own ways.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Beetography 7
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Sunday was gorgeous, bright and sunny with a light breeze. My favorite tree in our yard was pretty much in full bloom. And I happy to report that this year I haven't needed to vacuum out tent caterpillars from the aforementioned tree.


The crab apple instead has been abuzz with bees. So many in fact that a loud thrumming noise was audible a fair distance from the tree. A bit intimidating at first, but we soon realized that the bees were far to busy with the flowers to pay us any heed.

I took advantage of the bees' preoccupation and spent a good forty five minutes taking pictures of them. I was literally sticking the camera just inches away from the bees and merrily snapping pictures. The only incident I experiance was when a bee bounced off of my hand as it bumbled through the blossoms. A bit freaky for, but the bee didn't even seem to notice.

If you click on the above picture (or here) it'll take you to my Flickr account and the full set of bee pictures I took. I'm particularly proud of the fact that I even got a bee in mid-flight. Too bad it was headed away from the camera.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Exit Through The Gift Shop - UK Trailer

We got a Roku a few weeks ago and I'm just starting to watch the movies that are available for free on Amazon prime. One of them was this movie, "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

I loved the movie. It's a fun sort of kind of documentary of street artists and a rather compulsive videographer. This trailer gives just a taste of the madness.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Donors Choose 2011

It's time for the big Tomato Nation Donors Choose Fund Drive.

This year's goal is $250, 000. Yes, you read that right, a cool quarter of a million dollars for the classroom. The best part is that you, the donor, gets to pick which project to fund.

You can select your hometown, some rural outpost, or deep in the urban jungle. The projects range from art supplies, musical instruments, gym equipment, computers, or a table that is better designed for the classroom. Whatever strikes your fancy and you can choose how much you donate.

So you can start at the Tomato Nation super page or you can go your own way. At the very least just take look.

Friday, April 01, 2011

MCP Project 52: Just For Fun

city trike
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's theme was just for fun and I was able to find an image right off the bat.

I took this picture last Sunday after I had dropped the kids off at Hebrew school. It had snowed that morning and I decided to snap a few pictures before retreating indoors to read a book while waiting for school to end.

There is a cute residential street just a block over and decided to would be a good place to find appealing subject matter. I love taking pictures of flowers covered in snow and I knew there are plenty of flowering plants in both gardens and pots along the street.

I was not disappointed. However my favorite image was of this lone bright red tricycle parked on the sidewalk. It had clearly spent the night outdoors and was wet with melted snow. I loved the trike and how it was reflected in the puddle on the sidewalk.

Originally I had only my cell phone, but I eventually fetched my camera to take a higher quality picture. It was only an hour later, but all the snow was gone and the puddle was quickly disappearing. I was pleased enough with the second, drier picture and decided that this little bit of childhood on the city street was a good candidate for "just for fun."

Because really, bright red tricycles are just for fun.