Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where have I been?

Having a house door key made and hiding it outdoors. I never want to traipse around the neighborhood in my underwear again.

Learning how to take photographs all over again is fun, yet challenging. Using editing software is another drama that nearly put me over the edge this weekend. I had my photos saved in so many folders that it became a guessing game to find them. That’s a game I do not care to play! The Fuji software worked against my foolish ways. After hours of trying to fix my errors, I uninstalled the Fuji software. Gone. I’m back with Kodak EasyShare which is a quirky software but one I’m familiar with… I only want to crop a photo occasionally and Fuji doesn't offer that feature with ease.

And Fay screwed with us,


Charlotte meteorologists talk about the weather constantly but there’s usually nothing to talk about during all four seasons. We’ve had a few clouds, a little breeze, and cool and humid temps below 90. For that, we’re happy but the dry, dog days of summer continue.

Let me share several test photos again while I listen to Red Red Wine or whatever it's called on the Bose…I need to feel fine.


Night photos rock. Not that I know what I’m doing, mind you. Here are more photos taken during dusk that were impossible before.



The Blue Gray Gnatcatchers sat here a few times and a Cooper’s had a Mourning Dove meal under this Crepe Myrtle yesterday. My camera was inside…


Super macro isn’t working for me right now but I’ll master it eventually. I can do bugs better than this.


There is more depth in my photos now. I love this one…just before sunset.

My fingers and thumbs are clumsy. They don’t know where to go for digital zoom or macro, or for any other button. I cursed when I couldn't focus on a Cardinal,


until I realized I was in macro mode at dusk…damn.


Still working with action and continuous shooting.


Isn’t Bella beautiful at dusk? She's feeling great after her Prednisone summer and now, there's Chloe...

Chloe’s vision is already compromised as a twelve year old. Now she has a nasty cyst on her bottom eye lid that’s giving her grief. We’ll be at the vet tomorrow afternoon… Wish the best for her?


The territorial adult males have headed south, I think. Haven’t seen them in a day or two.


Fat. A result of guzzling too much safflower seed with the pigeons and starlings.


In full, digital zoom I saw the Egret far across the pond this morning. Did I hop in my car and ride over there? Of course, I did!



Wow. I love my Fuji camera more each day.

However, I’m tired as my writing shows. I sit at my computer in the evenings with an hour to spare, read my comments and look at my blogroll, wondering where to begin. It’s overwhelming. Instead of clicking on e-mail comments or Mary’s View, I click on Free Cell and play the mindless game until my eyes cross. If I can’t do it right (blogging), I won't do it at all. I want to be posting and commenting. So, until I get myself organized and settled down in a week or two, I’ll be away for a while, always wanting to be back soon. But hey, if I find a Bald Eagle in my back yard, you’ll hear about it!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

About Johnson

Before I tell Johnson’s story, I must ask…

Have you ever locked yourself out of your house at 6:05 a.m., wearing a flimsy summer nightgown and a bright pink summer robe? In your bare feet? Before your morning shower? With your hair straight up in spots? Have you walked around the outside of your house in the dark, wishing your cell phone was in your pocket…looking inside the widows, wondering if you’ll ever be rescued, because, of course, there’s no door key hidden outside anywhere… Have you ever asked your dogs to unlock the damned door but watched them only look at you through the window with curious eyes, ears erect, heads cocked, and wondering why you aren’t coming inside? They were watching Good Morning America while I was watching for signs of life in the neighborhood. Have you introduced yourself to a neighbor for the first time at 6:30 a.m., looking like a bag lady? I wasn’t pretty. He gave me his cell phone for an hour while he showered. I couldn’t remember any phone numbers, as they were stored away on my cell phone – inside the house. At 8:00 a.m., another neighbor heard me call her from my porch… Embarrassed, I met her on my front lawn and used her Blackberry to call my husband’s office. And finally, at 9:15 a.m., Michael unlocked the door. Earlier, I washed my face in the garage laundry tub, shuddering at the thought of possibly leaving my robe inside the house, and realized that without someone else’s cell phone, I would spend the day napping in the back seat of my car. And I cried for a minute.

So, after a shower, off to work I went, already feeling like it was bedtime. And, no I did not have my camera with me for those three hours of sunrise and morning glory. And, no, I have not experimented with the new camera yet. The upcoming photos are raw.



Johnson took her final, official POPAT test. Click here for a little background. Before the test began, she was very tense and nervous. Denise, LaTrease, and I sang the Rocky theme song to calm her down.


Her training Sergeant brought his new class of police cadets to witness a POPAT - a test they will need to pass in December.


Johnson was strong as the new cadets looked on.


I wasn’t worried at all. I had confidence in her.


The new cadets looked worried and wondered if they will ever be strong enough to endure...

At the finish, Johnson shaved several seconds off her diagnostic time and the hooting, hollering and high-fiving began. She passed the final with plenty of spare time!

The new cadets were dismissed and our party continued.

Johnson asked for a hug or a smile from her devoted Sergeant but Sgt. Moore truly preferred to maintain his normal, stern composure.


With some coaxing, he broke down and gave a little smile. After all, it was a celebration - for both of them.


Johnson, aka Nikki Parker is so much fun. She’ll be an outstanding police officer.


Here, she’s looking toward the future, I think.

I'm looking forward to seeing her in uniform.

What a woman. Her children are so proud.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ten Days Waiting...

Today I worked from home. I was expecting a special delivery to my doorstep. A friend at work knew that expecting this package, for me, is like receiving a new limb. How true.

The next two photos were taken with my beloved Kodak. Photographing inside is possible with it. Outside? Not.


My delivery sat on the dining room table for a while. I was very nervous. I thought I’d dust around it for a few hours. My friend at work also suggested I bake a cake before I opened the box, too. How funny. How true. Gina cautioned me to be careful of bumping it. How funny. How true.

Giddy with excitement I became brave,


Within two hours, the memory card was in place, the battery was charged, the neck strap and lens cap were fastened, and the software was installed on my laptop. Right away, I took twelve test photos with my new Fuji. See it here!

I was skeert!

I have a lot to learn about many options and buttons to push. It’s isn’t an SLR but it’s more than a point and shoot. Quick, wonderful zoom and macro! After I learn how to feel it and hold it without bumping it, and to store it in it's carrying case safely, I think we will bond very, very well.


My first photo. Bella’s headless pink piggy.



The owner of the headless pink piggy.



Stay tuned? I'll need days, weeks, months to get it.

I think I’m in love.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anticipating Good Stuff

There is talk of a hurricane. Tropical Storm Fay is gearing up in Cuba today and visitors to the Florida Keys have been evacuated. I remember Floyd in 1999 – a disaster in Maryland, so I’m not hoping for a hurricane, by any means. The last hurricane I experienced was in Delaware, 2003 - a somewhat rainless hurricane with high winds that left leaves on trees dehydrated and black.

According to the storm’s track, heading north to the southeastern coastal states, our rain-starved region might have a tropical depression soak us late this week. Isn’t this great news? High winds will topple our weakened, stressed trees so I hope the winds are minimal.

And, my camera is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. I’ll test it under the clouds and maybe take some shots of hummingbirds in the rain… Without a camera this week I’ve seen bats dawn and dusk and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers on a Crepe Myrtle a few feet from my front porch. Without a doubt, they were BGGs – a lifer. I do pay attention to what everyone shares on their birdy blogs.

Anticipating clouds this week, I thought I’d share the last sunny photos from my late Kodak EasyShare. Honestly, I don’t know if any camera will make me as happy.



My first Lavender, ever. I’ll plant them in bulk next spring.






On Saturday evening, dinner was done. In the kitchen, getting ready to clean and re-fill the hummingbird feeders. Michael lobbed a Hershey Kiss down his throat and said, “Go have fun talking to your birds.” Tee-hee. Knowing the hummingbirds were wired out there, I invited him to sit on the deck with me for just five or ten minutes. He agreed, but wondered where they were.

“They know me, but they don’t know you. Stop drumming your fingers on the rail and sit still. Put your hands on your lap and don’t move.”


In less than a minute, the hummers went wild. Fifteen or twenty of them fought over the three feeders that surrounded us. We felt their wing draft raise the hair on our heads and arms.

He stifled laughter when I, in my quiet baby voice, addressed an adult male that landed a few feet away – “Hello Mr. Hummy, you look so handsome this evening…” ;-)

He asked questions about the hummingbirds but his last remark was, “They better not poop on me.”

My reply: “Oh, their poop is just one tiny, sugary, raindrop of joy.”

That’s when the party ended and he realized I am undoubtedly, certifiably nuts. LOL!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Loving Beijing

All photos, courtesy of the Internet. If I had a camera

Men and women weightlifters, gymnasts, track and field, and equestrian events – I love it all. Whenever I have a few minutes I park myself in front of the TV and watch the competition to enjoy the vivid colors of China and its people. Good blog friend TR at From the Faraway, Nearby, has Olympic-related business in Beijing for several weeks. You must visit him and see his amazing photographs of a country most of us won't see. And, be sure to scroll to his post And Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting.

The sport closest to my heart is swimming but I miss most of the finals at the water cube because they air too late in the evening. After Gina stopped competing in college I haven’t been on a pool deck so watching Olympic swimming is a real treat for me.


If you haven’t heard of Michael Phelps, you’ve been living under a rock. Gina and Michael both swam in Maryland on different teams. We saw him at meets now and then and I remember him as a ten year-old. He was a silly, small, and scrawny kid - no different from anyone else except he rarely lost a race. His sweet Mom, Debbie, taught Gina home economics in middle school. So, I guess you can say we know the Phelps family, a little bit.

Age Group 2

Kids in U.S. age group swimming (6-18) experience a lot of peaks and valleys during early years of training. Their bodies change and growth spurts happen at different times that affect their strokes and slow them down for a while, or those same changes can result in personal best times. In Michael’s case, he kept getting bigger and better. By the time he was ten or eleven, his freestyle times were faster than a lot of girls’ times who were three years older than he, including Gina.


At outdoor meets in the summertime, Gina and her teammates stood on the pool deck to watch Michael swim a race. Hands on hips, silicone swim caps tight around their hot heads, eyes squinting, wrinkling sunburned noses, they’d whimper with disgust, “Geeesh. How does he do that? No one is even near him!”

They liked Michael and cheered for him then as they do today. But…

Age Group 3

(snitty remark) “Yeah! Look at him. It’s no wonder! Look at his duck feet. They’re huge!”

(another snitty remark) “Yeah! They’re bigger than our swim practice fins!”

(snitty and snarly) “Yeaaaaah! And he’ll never grow boobs or hips to slow him down, either.”


These girls were good swimmers. They forgot how good they were when they watched Michael. Gina knew of other girls who feared a breast or fly race with her being in lane four but that didn’t matter. They really wanted to know why Michael always looked like he was shot from a cannon at the start and left everyone in his wake.

Few people in this world have everything it takes. You can have the perfect body and natural talent but 99% of what you need is upstairs, and, in your heart. Medals are nice, but I’m much more impressed with Michael’s perseverance, attitude, and devotion to his sport for so many years. Kudos to all of the athletes from around the world.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

R.I.P. Kodak Camera

It was coming and I knew it. The LCD went black two weeks ago, the shutter button was sticking, and the on/off switch was worn and loose. I put it through the ringer but didn’t mean to kill it in twenty months. Averaging thirty photos a day, sometimes one hundred or only five, it’s no wonder my Kodak EasyShare died on Saturday evening after I bumped it on an outside deck end table.

“Michael, my camera died. Did you hear me?”

No response. He needed to process the real meaning of what I said and what it meant to him… dreading the moody woman fretting about her best friend, right arm...whatever.

“Do you understand what I’m saying here? What would you do without your four sets of golf clubs, huh? Huh? Huh?”

I didn’t tell him I bumped it.

I’ve bumped it before and thought nothing of it until I snapped a hummingbird and saw this in the preview,


Shocked. I sank into my chair and mumbled,

“Oh, f u u u u u dge.”

Held Kodak to my ear, gently shook it, and heard a tiny rattle somewhere inside…

“Oh, f u u u u u dge. It's busted.”

That hummingbird photo should have looked like this.


My wild internet search for a new camera began that night. After all, the new class of police cadets started this week, there’s another brood of baby bluebirds on campus, my dogs expect to be photographed, and the birds… A hummingbird extravaganza is in full swing here and I believe I might be the only bird lady within a quarter mile that offers fresh nectar.



Always on guard for invaders.


Photos of them swarming on the gigantic water hibiscus need to be taken


and photos of finches on the pond.

I ordered a new and different camera that I’ll have in a week. Is it the right choice for me? I certainly hope so!

In honor of that small and mighty little camera that wowed me often, these are the last two photos taken - a few minutes before the unfortunate bump.



You might wonder if I cried. Oh yes, I have - it’s been one heck of a summer and I didn’t need another drama. Those who habitually wear wristwatches and forget to wear it one day keep glancing at a bare wrist. Same here. I’m missing it a hundred times a day.

I’ll fess up here. It wasn’t a small bump on a deck end table. It was my short swing of the camera by the strap to the edge of the table, crack, and a two-foot drop to the floor of the deck, plunk. Ouch. That’s what could happen when you watch your dog chase a bunny instead of being careful with your camera. ;-)