Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

June 30, 2011

June Photo Hunt Wrap-Up

June photo hunt collage 1
June Photo Hunt collage 2

Can you believe it is the last day of June already?  Time flies when the beautiful weather and days when the sun doesn’t set until 8:30pm are here.  It is also the perfect day to present  a wrap of the June Photo Hunt results.  There are lots of links and pingbacks in the comments section of my original post, so I am here to sort them out for you.  I hope you will have the chance to check them all out and encourage the participants with a comment.   We all love comments, right?

First in with her submission this time around was Dawn.  Dawn had the fantastic idea to go to the zoo to complete her hunt.  She found some fun ideas and the bird with the bad hair day gave me a chuckle.

Next was Nye, who also did some travelling around her local area to get her shots.  She included that familiar but curious critter, the hummingbird moth and took a drive with her family to find her cow pictures.

Carol was the third with her photo hunt post.   I loved her yellow Western Tanager in an unusual fountain, and her cat has one of the funniest faces out there!

Deb, who just started blogging in May, had a very enthusiastic blog post featuring her photos.  Her scarlet ibis was one of the most fiery colored birds I’ve ever seen and her interpretation of the “grad” photo was truly unique.  I’m glad you enjoy the photo hunts so much, Deb!

My sister Jennifer actually posted her shots with time to spare this time around ( she commented to me on Twitter that we were “syncro-blogging”; we must have been writing and posting our photo hunts at the same time!)  Although not snarky like the last time, she still brings her great sense of humor to some of her shots including the “grad” and the “colorful bird.”

I always look forward to Brian’s brilliant sense of humor and beautiful photography, and his collection for the hunt is no exception.  His bird shots are stunning and there is no lack of laughter in many of the other shots.  Be sure to read about what happened when he was taking the cow picture!

Dear friend Renae joined in with her first photo hunt collection on Flickr.  She has a really sweet collection of pictures and wins a million bonus points for having a picture of a BABY Oreo cow!

Scott, one of my inspirations for offering the every-other-month photo hunt, posted a great collection of pictures.  He has become a really amazing wildlife photographer – I just love his oystercatcher.  He’s got just about the biggest funny face you’ll ever see too!

Sliding in last minute with her photo hunt is Robin.  With her previous commitments, I’m really glad she decided to join in; Robin is in the midst of a 365 day commitment to going outside every day for at least 30 minutes AND she is doing WordPress’s Post-A-Day 2011.  I just love her colorful bird and her butterfly, and her cow shot is definitely unexpected.

In case you missed it, my June Photo Hunt shots were posted here. They also make up the collages (courtesy of Picnik.com) at the top of this post.

Have fun checking out everyone’s photo hunt shots!  And let me know in the comments if you’d like to do this again in August!

June 27, 2011

A Good Day

Filed under: What's Blooming — Karma @ 10:16 pm
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School got out last week.  I felt like I’ve been in a flurry of activity every day since.  Today was the first day I really felt like I was out for summer break.  With the exception of my older daughter going to driving school (at her high school), I didn’t have to go anywhere.  Today, I did summery things!

I worked in my garden, which looked so cheerful in the morning summer sunshine:
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Everything seems healthy and happily growing.  I added tomato cages to the sprawling vines today. I also noticed my hydrangea is starting to bloom:

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 I am delighted with all of the buds it has this year.  I have often lamented my lack of luck with hydrangea.  I don’t remember this hydrangea always being pink either; I know that soil pH can affect their color, but I haven’t moved this plant in probably 10 years. It has never been a great bloomer for me, so maybe I just don’t remember!  Lots of buds still to come:
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After the garden I picked up the yard for lawn mowing.  I got to use a little chain saw to chop up a large branch that had fallen into the yard – that was kind of cool!  After mowing the lawn, I vacuumed the pool.  It looked nice and sparkly.  I should’ve taken a picture.

My bird feeder has been extremely active since I refilled it a couple days ago.  I also learned today that my squirrel-proof feeder is no longer squirrel-proof:
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Industrious little thing, huh?  I couldn’t understand just how the squirrels were getting at the seed.  The feeder is set up so that if something heavier than birds lands on the feeder, that wire covering with the perches on it slides down and covers the opening to the seed.  I went out to investigate.  One of the openings had the plastic chewed away so that the opening was not completely covered when it slides down!  That is the opening our little friend here is jamming his or her head into!  The squirrels broke the other feeder I had put up for them in a near-by tree in the hopes of keeping them away from the bird feeder, so I’m not sure what I’ll do next.

At the end of my busy day, I landed in my second-favorite summer place – my deck with a good book (first favorite would be the beach, but that is a few hours drive away).  And my little hummingbird took what seems to be one of his favorite places these days too:

hummingbird silhouette

That is a skinny little branch at the top of a small tree at the side of my property.  I look for him there now when I am outside in the evening.  I thought this made for a pretty cool shot of a hummingbird at rest; not a sight you see all that often.

Let me know about a good summer day for you in the comments if you’d like!  June Photo Hunt re-cap coming soon – I’m waiting on a couple folks taking advantage of the extension.  In the meantime, there are plenty of links to check out in the comment section of that post, so please go check out the submissions when you have the chance and leave them some love in their own comment sections.

June 25, 2011

My June Photo Hunt Shots

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 9:54 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hi Everyone!  It is photo hunt time!  As of this writing, I have not been around to check out the links that have been submitted to me so far; I was just finishing up  my own hunt photos and I didn’t want to be influenced by what I saw.

A colorful bird of my choice :

I tried to think of a cheeky way to interpret this one, but both of the ways I thought of wouldn’t work.  The first would be an indecent gesture that no one would want to see a picture of!  The second, I don’t live in the correct country to get the shot – an English girl in a colorful dress would fit the bill too.  So I settled for this guy:

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He’s the chlorine floater for my pool and he’s pretty colorful!

A grad – of any sort :

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This is the daughter of dear friends who graduated from high school this year.  I met these friends when I was a senior in high school, so this makes me feel really old.  This photo also contains the project that I’d been working so furiously on for most of the month of May.  I’m very proud of how Brianna’s graduation quilt came out.

A dad – of any sort:

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For this shot, I resorted to my archives.  Here’s my hubby from vacation last summer, doing what he does best as a dad – acting like a diabolical goofball with his children.

Something purple:
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A fairly typical Karma shot here!  I have these flowers near my mailbox, and I can’t remember what they are called, but they don’t stay open all day long and look pretty after a rain shower.

A butterfly:
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Hee, hee! Gotcha!  You were expecting one of these pretty things weren’t you?  I had a few twisted ideas for this one, like trying to carve a house fly out of butter or trying to catch the stick of butter flying through the air.  This is actually the very rare sweetcreamerusaltificus species.

A funny face:

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Because a pointy-faced collie fresh from doing battle with the evil garden-hose-monster is pretty funny, and I haven’t had a reason to feature a picture of Teddy lately.

Bonus: a cow, bull, heifer, calf or ox.  Extra bonus points for my favorite, the belted galloway. (Also affectionately known by me as an “Oreo” cow):
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Ha, ha – kid!  I kid!  I really did go out and finally get some pictures of those real-life Oreo cows:
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Awwww, aren’t they sweet?  I want one for a pet.

I hope I gave you a little chuckle with my photos, and I hope you had fun taking yours!  You still have time if you haven’t posted yet.  You’ve got all day tomorrow to post – and I’ll probably let you slide if you do it for Monday too.  I’ll be making the rounds to check out your shots soon!

ETA:  Oopsie, dear sister of mine pointed out an error in my original deadline!  I wrote Sunday, June 25th.  Oops.  Today is actually the 25th, isn’t it, and as far as I know it is only Saturday.  My bad!  I meant for the deadline to be Sunday the 26th, but meh.  You know how I feel about being strict on these things.  Take til the end of the month if need be.

June 24, 2011

I can’t think of a title for this blog post

Remember the 124 pictures I told you I took at dress rehearsal last week?  I finally got around to editing yesterday.  I cropped and brightened and un-red-eyed 23 of my favorites and posted them in an album on Facebook.  Are we friends on Facebook?  If we are, you can see those pictures here if you’d like.  If we are not, maybe we should be!

With recital, also comes flowers, and we received many lovely ones.  On one of the few afternoons that wasn’t rainy this week, I took the flowers outside on my deck and placed them on the table for a little photo session.  I found that late afternoon with my umbrella in place made for lovely picture-taking lighting for these very willing and cooperative subjects.  First I played with my extension tubes.  I was too lazy to get the tripod out, so I sat and used my elbows on the table to gain some steadiness:

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Next I decided to try the 50mm 1.8.  It turned out to be a nice choice for showing off pretty color with that sharp-but-soft-at-the-same-time focus:

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I hope that your summer is off to a wonderful start.  Today is the first day that neither the girls nor I have to go to school.  So far it hasn’t been the lazy non-schedule that I usually look forward to at this time of year.  Yesterday was the girls’ last day, but it was Sarah’s “Final Assembly” at middle school – or 8th grade graduation as we used to call it when I was a kid.  Sarah received two certificates for academic achievement – the President’s Education Award for being in the top 10% of her class and an excellence award for achieving all A’s for her final grades of 8th grade.

Forgive me for bragging a wee bit!  I’m very proud of my little girl – who isn’t so little any more!

After Sarah’s ceremony, we all went out to lunch in celebration.  Yesterday afternoon and today too, I will continue to wear my invisible “Mom’s Taxi” cap, which I’m sure will remain in place for the summer. 

 In between, I’m hoping to have plenty of reading time out on my deck.  I’m looking for reading suggestions for the summer too!  Please leave any suggestions you may have in the comments.  The next book I am planning to read is book 3 in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.  Have you read those?  That is my suggestion to you if you haven’t.

I’ll be back with other rambling blog posts soon.  Don’t forget about the photo hunt!

June 20, 2011

A Father’s Day Treat

Around these parts, Father’s Day weekend is typically the height of the strawberry season.  I have trouble getting my fill of the native beauties before they are gone.  Also typically, I make strawberry shortcake on Father’s Day.  Yesterday was no exception, but I made it even better.  My sister inspired me when she blogged about these:

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The fine folks at Fine Cooking magazine shared this delicious biscuit recipe.  It is easy and worth the while.  While reading the recipe, I got to the part about using a 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter.  Biscuit cutter?  I don’t own a biscuit cutter.  I started texting Jennifer; what should I do?  Should I use a knife?  Could I just shape them by hand?  She said she did just that with her last lump of dough, so I went for it.  And you know what? They turned out just fine – and it just may be even easier than the original recipe’s directions because there is no need for the rolling pin; just grab chunks of dough and make patties out of them and you are good to go!

Here is the delicious result:

berries

I do admit to cheating on this recipe in one more way; I used whipped cream out of the can instead of whipping my own!  I was feeling too lazy to make another mess by whipping cream.  Nobody in this family complained.  Four bowls of strawberry shortcake disappeared in record time.

**** And now for something completely different

Just wanted to remind you that the Photo Hunt deadline is approaching this weekend!  Hoping to see your photos posted by Sunday, June 25th.  I had my first submission today, but as I told Dawn, I’m planning to wait to look at your photos until I’ve finished my own hunt.  I’m nearly there – need two more shots to complete the list. 

I have lots of other shots to share with you too – I just can’t wait until school is out for summer!

June 18, 2011

The Elements of Dance

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 1:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Tonight is our annual dance recital, and the main reason I’ve been away from the blogs this week.  I did pop around and comment to many of you this morning!  The theme for recital this year is “The Elements of Dance”:
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 That is the very cool t-shirt our dance teacher had made up this year.  All of the dances relate in some way to either earth, air, fire or water.  My girls have been working very hard both on their dances (14 dances feature one or both of the girls or me!) and with helping out getting ready for the recital.  Dress rehearsal was last night, and the only time flash photography is allowed.  I took 124 photos last night!  Here are two of my favorites:
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This is Meghan in a beautiful layout-prep for her jazz dance, “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” by the Scorpions.

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This is Sarah in a wonderful heel-stretch during her jazz dance “Firework,” by Katy Perry.  Sarah worked hard stretching all year to be able to achieve this dance move.

I am MUCH happier with my camera this year than I was last year at this time, BUT I’ve made a new discovery.  I think my next purchase for my camera will have to be a Speedlite flash.  The built-in flash cannot keep up with the speed at which I was hoping to take photos.  Lighting conditions are absolutely terrible at a dress rehearsal and I could not find a combination of shutter speed and aperture that would have allowed me to go without flash AND have decent stop-action, at least with the lenses that I currently own.  I have the feeling that a lens that might allow such a combination is likely out of my price range.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more photos when I have time to do some more editing.  In the meantime, wish us luck tonight!

June 13, 2011

19 Years Ago Today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 5:33 pm
Tags: ,

 

                                                                             …I married my best friend,
                                                                           Our bond complete, it hath no end,
                                                                           We share one soul, we share one heart,
                                                                           A perfect time – a perfect start.

                                                                        With these rings we share together,
                                                                        Love so close to last forever,
                                                                        This special day – two special hearts,
                                                                        Let nothing keep this love apart.

                                                                                                                                             -Rachel Elizabeth Cooper

June 11, 2011

Hi! I’m Still Here!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 12:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hi everyone! I’ve missed you!  This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of this post, but I wanted to show it to you because I like it. 🙂

It has been a busy week and I just felt the need to blog!  I haven’t posted since last Sunday and my fingers just insisted on typing.  Ever happen to you?

Lots going on here.  We are one week before dance recital, so I’ve put plenty of miles on the car driving the girls back and forth to the studio for extra rehearsals.    I’ve been working furiously on the project I mentioned in this post, which I can share with you after tomorrow.  And we had a wonderful visit with my nephew from California and his wife:

 ( I stole this picture from his Facebook page since I inconceivably forgot to take any pictures while they were here!)

I also found my stomach getting worked up in knots Thursday evening.  The weather in this area was strongly reminiscent of last Wednesday. The power went out again, but thankfully it was only strong thunderstorms this time around.  Power was back on about two hours after it went out.  I had no idea how viscerally I would feel about the threat of strong storms after what happened here last week.

Hope all is well in your part of the world, and I hope to have time to be blogging more regularly very soon!  If not next week, definitely after June 22nd, when my 70-day-weekend begins!

June 5, 2011

June Photo Hunt

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 8:15 pm
Tags: ,

Hi everyone!  I’m a few days later than the last time around, but I didn’t forget about the Photo Scavenger Hunt.  As you may recall, things have been a bit chaotic in this part of the world, but I needed to turn my thoughts to something other than the tornado that recently ripped through this area.

My list for June’s Photo Hunt:

  • a colorful bird of your choice ( no BUGS for this one, Brian!)
  • a grad – of any sort
  • a dad – of any sort
  • something purple
  • a butterfly
  • a funny face

       BONUS: a cow, bull, heifer, calf or ox.  Extra bonus points for my favorite, the belted galloway.

As usual, please interpret this list however you like!  Straight-forward, creative, cheeky, snarky and humorous interpretations are all welcome.  My goal with these hunts is to get you out and shooting, so new shots are preferred, but if you have a perfect shot in your archives that you’d like to use for a couple on this list, that is fine too.  Just like with Scott’s assignments, please leave me a link to your photos in the comments of this post. Sunday, June 25th will be my deadline, but extensions and late submissions always accepted!  If you wouldn’t mind spreading the word in your blogs, tweets and Facebook, I’d greatly appreciate it.

June 3, 2011

In the Wake of a Tornado

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 3:10 pm
Tags: , ,

A tornado? It could never happen here! Afterall, we are in the valley of hills and mountains, not broad, flat Kansas.  That’s what most residents of western Massachusetts would have said to you before June 1, 2011, the day a destructive tornado ripped through this area.  It touched down in Westfield, MA sometime after 4pm and ripped a scary path east through West Springfield, Springfield, Wilbraham, Monson and Brimfield.  Those are the communities close to me that I know suffered serious damage.  My home, family, neighbors and friends were unharmed, and as far as I know, did not suffer any damage to their property.  We are the lucky ones and I am grateful to whoever or whatever it was who watched out for us.  I chose not to take pictures, or share others’ pictures of the destruction in this area.  If you are interested, just Google “Springfield MA tornado” and there will be plenty of sites for you to see.  I haven’t visited sites of destruction in person myself, so at this time it still feels a bit unreal.

My day on Wednesday started out like any other.  I went to work with the plan of leaving one hour early to pick Meghan up from school. It was the day of her boyfriend’s senior prom. A girlfriend of mine was going to do her hair.  We had heard about the possibility for strong thunderstorms that afternoon and hoped they would pass by in time for us to take pictures outside.  Around 3:45, the skies darkened and the temperature and the pressure in the air seemed to change.  At 4:00, Meghan was applying make-up and getting dressed for her big night. 

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At 4:15, a wicked thunderstorm with marble-sized hail started pelting this area.  Not to worry, I soothed, thunderstorms usually pass quickly! With a big umbrella over her head, held by my husband, we ran to the car to drive to her boyfriend’s house where the limo would deliver my daughter, her boyfriend and four other couples to their prom – in downtown Springfield.

We arrived at her boyfriend’s house and his dad had a huge golf umbrella for escorting the girls out of their cars.  The kids murmured with excitement about the night, exchanged corsages and boutonnieres, and hoped the rain would stop soon.  The skies cleared around 5pm so we headed outside to take pictures and wait for the limo to arrive.  Firetrucks, police cars and ambulances from our town and surrounding towns were racing down Main St.  We thought there must have been a terrible accident due to the viscious thunderstorm that had just passed.  The power was out in town so we hadn’t seen or heard what was happening around us.

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The limo driver arrived, about 25 minutes late, and explained that he had seen a tornado touch down in Westfield (about 35 minutes west of Wilbraham).  He didn’t have any other information, and neither did we, as the kids happily piled into their limo.

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And off we sent our children, in a limosine, to have their prom, in an area of the city that we had no idea had recently been struck by a tornado.   The building where the prom was held was the Mass Mutual Center, a sturdy, recently rebuilt public arena, which also ended up being one of the shelters in the area for people whose homes suffered damage from the storm.  But the prom went on.  Prom 2011 will surely be one these kids will remember for their whole lives.

When I arrived home, I still had no idea about the power of this storm or what actually had happened.  Our home phone service and power to our house was out and cell service was spotty.  We pieced together bits of information from the radio and text messages we received over the course of the night.  It was quite a long night, sitting in the dark, wondering how the kids were and worrying about them getting home.  Around 7pm, I watched as the sky turned a scary shade of yellowish-green and the winds and rains kicked up again.  I didn’t think to grab my camera at the time.  I’ve heard that episode was a microburst from the original tornado.

Luckily, the kids were returned safely after the prom, and we sat throughout the next day hearing more and more about the destruction that took place, but still without power.  I received text messages and the occasional phone call from family and friends checking on us and passing on information.  Last night our power came back on, and shortly after, cable and internet services were restored.  I know that many in the area are still without, and I am again thankful and feeling very lucky.  Booting up the computer this morning, I found emails from still more friends checking in on us.

If you were to come look around my yard, you would never know that a tornado screamed through this area maybe a mile away.  There are sticks around the yard,

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and flowers that look a little worse for wear,

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but that happens after virtually every rain storm.  My husband had been working on cleaning our pool, shortly before all this began, and the aluminum pole he was using remains exactly where he left it:

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For strange reasons, perhaps known only to me, it is the little things like this that make this reality so strangely unreal feeling for me.  But I know that it is, of course, very real for the thousands of people who suffered in one way or another.  We are tough New Englanders, and this area will get back on its feet.  Businesses of many kinds are offering their help, as well as the American Red Cross, and people are helping their neighbors.  To anyone from this area who was affected who may be reading this, please know that my thoughts are with you and I hope that your struggles are minimal, and that you have the love and support of family and good friends.