Friday, June 30, 2006

Happiness Is .......

Max and his basketball. (It is hard to get a picture of him without it.)
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"Happiness is a warm puppy." ~ Charles Schulz
Max has made a list of the things that make him happy. He asked me to post it so here goes.

Happiness Is ......
  1. Not being lost anymore.
  2. Having a dry house so sleep in when it rains instead of trying to stay dry under a bush.
  3. Getting fed EVERY day instead of digging in garbage cans and begging.
  4. Treats before bedtime and anytime I want.
  5. Sleeping with my kitty friends when I'm scared.
  6. Running in my back yard and going for walks.
  7. Sitting in my mom's lap and knowing she won't hit me.
  8. My basketball and all my toys, but mostly my basketball.
  9. Ripe figs.
  10. Sleeping in my hammock with a fuzzy rug.
  11. Teasing my family with my ball.
  12. Having Christmas lights on my dog house.
  13. Being clean and safe and off the streets.
  14. Talking to my puppy friends next door.
  15. Not having so many nightmares.
  16. Having the tumors in my skin go away, at least for now.
  17. Seeing my mom smile when the vet says the chemo is working.
  18. Riding in the car to the vet.
  19. Getting the treat at the vet.
  20. Being such a lucky dog to be found by my people.
  21. Finally being HOME!
~ by Max.

Submission for PhotoFriday topic "Happiness is...." (end of post)

Computer Work Is Exhausting

Mr. Rhett, exhausted after his computer work.
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"A computer and a cat are somewhat alike -- they both purr, and like to be stroked, and spend a lot of the day motionless. They also have secrets they don't necessarily share." ~ John Updike
I spent some of my Christmas money. Yes, I know, it's almost July but these days I put a lot of thought into something before getting it. I bought a DVD burner, easy to plug in and install the software; this should take a few minutes. Right! Murphy's first and second laws of computer work quickly ensued. First law? Anytime you think it will take five minutes, allow at least two hours. Second? ANY change in computer configuration will result in at least three important programs or devices crashing. This will add an additional two hours to the process. I wanted to pull my hair out. Mr. Rhett wanted to help. No, not help pull my hair out; he fancies himself quite the computer whiz. After all, he always sleeps under the desk next to the tower. So, he proceeded to sniff all the cords and play with the twisty ties; then he chewed on the plastic bags covering the burner and the cords. After trying to walk on the keyboard and stuff himself into the empty DVD burner box, he was exhausted. I guess he thought I no longer needed the installation instructions. Yep! What better place to take a nap?

Mr. Rhett will be refreshed for Friday's Ark and for the Carnival of the Cats, hosted this week by Watermark.

Submission for Moody Monday topic "indifferent". (end of post)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Perfect Summer Day

Nyssa, at rest on a summer day.
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"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." ~ Sam Keen
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~ John Lubbock
Two trees, a hammock, warm summer breezes, a good book, bare feet, rolled up jeans, a pony tail, lush green grass, deep blue skies with fluffy white clouds... All the ingredients of a wonderfully perfect, leisurely lazy summer day.

What do you consider to be the perfect summer day?

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "summer". (end of post)


Chicago by night. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"I will go lose myself,
And wander up and down to view the city."
~ William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
The city never sleeps. Lights in the tall skyscrapers; workers cleaning offices, business men and women working round the clock, apartments with occupants fixing late suppers. Down below the streets with taxis, cars, honking horns, people walking alone and arm in arm; theater goers, delivery boys, policemen, waitresses returning home. The color of the city at night is dusky purple, mysterious; by day the color is gray, intertwining shades of gray. The city, always changing and yet, always the same.

Submission for LensDay topic "cityscape". (end of post)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How To Take Kaleidoscope Pictures

Nyssa's kaleidoscope: Parts.
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"The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colors which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts." ~ James Allen
A couple of months ago I promised to post about Nyssa's kaleidoscope with an explanation of how I take the pictures. Above are the parts of her scope. The large tube has an eyepiece at one end and is clear near the other end to facilitate light input. This also has a round hole through the center of the tube to fit the plastic rods. (Three)

Each plastic or acrylic rods contains a viscous oil as well as glitter and larger cut shapes. The color scheme varies; Nyssa has one with a red, white and blue theme, one with a pink and turquoise dominant theme, and one with multiple bright primary colors and black. The glitter tube slips through the hole and typically is secured with two thick round bands of rubber, but I don't use these for pictures. As the glitter and die cut shapes float slowly down through the oil with the help of gravity, the different shapes and colors appear in the eyepiece.

Now, how to take the pictures. Click read more below to continue.

How to take the pictures:
  1. Set your digital camera to the "Macro" setting.
  2. Position the kaleidoscope eyepiece over the digital camera lens and zoom in until the outline of the keyhole is no longer visible in the camera screen.
  3. Position the barrel of the kaleidoscope to the best light. (It is easiest to do if you have something to rest the camera and the kaleidoscope tube on)
  4. Patiently watch as the glitter and die cuts float down the tube.
  5. You can adjust the rate of glitter fall by decreasing the angle of the tube. The slower it falls the less blur you have in the pictures.
  6. Watch the screen and click away. You could even do a movie if you like.

It may be a bit difficult to see the screen in such bright light but it does make for interesting pictures. Below are just a few of the many pictures I've gotten; all with slightly different coloration and shapes and all quite unique. The die cut shapes include stars, crescent moons, hearts, rounds, and others. Enjoy.

If there are parts of the picture you don't want it can be cropped out with any photo editing program.

Come again! I saved all my patriotic (red, white and blue) pictures for..... well, for July 4th naturally!

PS: I didn't take these pictures today as we have been bombarded for two days now with rain shower after rain shower; some drizzle and some downpours. No sun here! (end of post)

It's a Birthday Party

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" ~ Unknown
Today is Naomi's birthday. She is 75 years young. Her party is in full swing. Ya'll swing by and wish her a Happy Birthday, OK?

(end of post)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Order Orthoptera

The Rose and The Katydid (nymph). Macro.
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"Green little vaulter, in the sunny grass,
Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
Sole noise that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
When ev'n the bees lag at the summoning brass.
~ Leigh Hunt, To the Grasshopper and the Cricket
Tiny little katydid nymphs walk among the petals of our roses. This fellow is less than one-half inch long, he is too young to sing his famous song. I can see small grains of pollen on his legs and I understand that they eat flowers and leaves. Once the rose has passed it's prime, he is welcome to the petals, though perhaps he likes the heart of the rose best. I know he's probably a pest but he has these tear-shaped eyes with the little central dot and I can't help seeing Jiminy Cricket and hearing him sing When You Wish Upon A Star. Besides he sat still while I took the picture.

Submission for Tuesdays Photos topic "very little animal". (end of post)


Yellow daisy (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul." ~ Luther Burbank (1849 - 1926) US naturalist
Someone I know loves yellow; the color of the sun. Bright and cheerful, it chases away the shadows of the night each dawn. Yellow is hopeful, warm, inviting and comforting. It reminds of the renewal of life in Spring with daffodils, buttercups and forsythia; of the tenacity of life in Summer with the dandelion and daisy; and the fullness and cycle of life in Fall as the leaves turn a golden yellow and flutter to the ground.

For now, it is Summer and the daisy reigns.

(end of post)

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Ball and jacks (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa

Remember when you played "Jacks"
You picked one up before the ball came back?
Remember playing "Hide and Seek"
You closed your eyes and sneaked a peek?
Remember when you flew a kite,
To get it up took all your might?
Remember when a piece of chalk
Wrote game boundaries on the walk?
Remember when with your hands
You made a ball from rubber bands?
Remember how you bounced a ball
For no rhyme or reason at all?
Remember how you had a fit
When you heard "Tag, you're it?"
Remember how skates and a wooden box
Made a racer that was tops?
Remember when you spun a top
And wished it would never stop?
Remember kicking an empty can
Along the curb as you ran?
Remember who got blamed
When everyday the rules were changed?
Do kids today have more fun
Sitting and watching their Nintendos run?

~ Sue Chuzi
Do you remember playing jacks or hide and seek or flying down the hill on your bicycle, handlebar streamers flowing in the wind? I do. I remember catching fireflies in glass jars on warm summer evenings, jumping out of apple trees and rolling down the hill, splashing in a rickety round kiddy swimming pool 12 inches deep, swinging on a little metal swingset as high as I could go without tilting it over and making mudpies in little toy cake pans. I remember candy necklaces made with edible rings that tasted like banana, the hot night air in Roanoke,Virginia with no air conditioning and all the cricket sounds and birds chirping in the bushes. I remember black and white TV with only three stations. There was no SONY corporation or Nintendo or home computers. No cell phones, blackberries or e-mail. These modern times are better? Sometimes I wonder.

Submission for PXITE topic "ball". (end of post)

It's An Iced Tea Day

Sweet Iced Tea (Macro) (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Sweet Tea is appropriate for all meals and you start drinking it when you're two years old." ~ On Moving To The South
"Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea." ~ Henry Fielding (1707-1754), British novelist
It's hot as blue blazes and sultry, so humid you start sweating just steppin' out of the house. It's the kind of day that has "bad hair" and "limp clothes" written all over it. There is no breeze. The skies are gray. The rain you thought would cool things down only pushed the humidity even higher. Even the dog wants to lay on the cool concrete in the shade and not move.

It's an iced tea day. Not just any iced tea, but sweet iced tea with a touch of lemon and lots of ice. You can't find this in the North; they only offer unsweet tea. You can't find it in Europe; they have unsweet tea but only one cube of ice at most. Only in the South do menus include both and waitresses routinely ask as you order "iced tea", "Sweet or Unsweet?" Make mine sweet, please.

Submission for MacroDay topic "drink". (end of post)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ninety-two Years Young

Mr. G: Ninety -two years young. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Age does not depend upon years, but upon temperament and health. Some men are born old, and some never grow so." ~ Tryon Edwards (American Theologian, 1809-1894)
Two weeks ago I took my parents back to Roanoke where 50 years ago they pastored a fledgling church. Mr. G became a member there when I was just a very small child and is still an active member. He is 92 years young. And what a life! He has been an English teacher, insurance salesman, employee of JC Penney, among other jobs through the years. He is a published author of his autobiography, has built his own home in Roanoke and sings in the church choir and with a men's quartet. He remembers stories about me that my parents have forgotten. (I'm not sure if this last item is a good thing or not.) There is still a spring in his step, a glint in his eye and a spry sharpness to his mind. If I could be as nimble in mind and body as he is, I wouldn't mind living to be 100.

Submission for PhotoFriday topic "health". (end of post)

The Cat Rules of Modeling

Chloe knows how to strike a pose.
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"Cats never strike a pose that isn't photogenic." ~ Lillian Jackson Braun
Miss Chloe loves to lounge in the sun on her cat tree perch. She knows how to be a great model and knows the rules of good sunbathing health as well. Rule #1: Always start on your back in a relaxed state. Pretend to ignore the camera, avoid looking straight into the lens. Avoid looking too trashy!

(Continue for more pictures by clicking "read more" below.)

Rule #2: Change poses often. A photographer doesn't like a "statue" that never moves; but move slowly to avoid becoming a blur on film. If you manage to scratch that itch at the base of your tail in the process, so much the better. Try not to look like a hussy while doing this.

Rule #3: Make sure you strike at least one pose with eyes half closed, preferably with graceful positioning of the feet. In this setting, make sure to look straight towards the camera while still keeping that nonchalant air about you. This pose should be the most demure.

Rule #4: While in this position and while keeping all legs in a restful, relaxed and modest position; slowly open your eyes and stare straight into the lens. Make eye contact with the photographer using a technique that looks deep into their soul and stirs the emotions. Don't overdo it.

Rule #5: Finally, tilt your head back, placing one paw under the chin and slowly close eyes tightly. Of course, make sure you are making the best use of sunlight and shade to enhance the look. Remain in this pose to indicate that the session is over. Keep your eyes shut long enough and she WILL go away.

And how do these rules keep a kitty healthy? One should never be exposed to the sun on one side for too long, it ages the skin and fur. Even a cat tries to avoid tan lines.

Miss Chloe should be awake in time to board the Friday's Ark today and will visit the Carnival of the Cats on Sunday. This week the Carnival is hosted by Pets Garden Blog. See you there.

(end of post)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mt. Trashmore Park

Mt. Trashmore Park from the air. (from Virginia Is For Lovers site)
"When young, one is confident to be able to build palaces for mankind, but when the time comes one has one's hands full just to be able to remove their trash." ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832)
Several asked about the name "Mt. Trashmore" so I thought I would post a few more pictures taken there as well as a little history. But you will have to click "read more" below to continue.

Mount Trashmore Park covers 165 acres in the middle of Virginia Beach. The Atlantic ocean is a ten minute drive and the park is only a five minute jaunt from our house. This is the highest point in the area at 68 feet above sea level. Two lakes were formed when dirt was removed from the area to build the "mountain". Lake Windsor is filled with brackish water and Lake Trashmore, the larger body, contains fresh water and is stocked with fish. Canadian geese and a variety of waterfowl call the area home. This wooden slat fencing and marsh grasses have been placed along one edge to facilitate their nesting habits.

I love the way the Canadian geese march along. Many do migrate through the area on the way back to Canada but this crew seems to have taken up permanent residence here.
No boating is allowed on this lake. There are several small playgrounds for children including a large one on the opposite side of the "mountain" which was built out of wood with forts and bridges as well as swings. Picnic areas are scattered throughout the park grounds.

Mt. Trashmore was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. It apparently opened in 1973. If there is a significant snow (over 4 inches) you can count on seeing dads and kids with sleds and inner tubes flying down the hill, at least for a couple of hours until it melts. The top of Mt. Trashmore is over 800 ft. long and along with the height, this makes it a prime place for flying kites, any day of the year. A very, very tiny branch of the public library has a small building that is surrounded by almost desert like landscaping as an example of water conservation.

A walking/running path runs all around the mountain and Lake Trashmore. Recently an adjacent skateboard park was built at the base. As you can see there is ample parking. Many church picnics, outdoor concerts and even an annual carnival are held here. So. While some in the area may want to change its name to something a little less "trashy" and more elegant, it's just not going to happen.

(end of post)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Come To The Beetle Ball

From above: A cold, wet day. Spider webs in the grass.
From the insect view: The Beetle Ball.
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"On the bare upland pasture there had spread
O'ernight 'twixt mullein stalks a wheel of thread
And straining cables wet with silver dew."
~ Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Gray skies above; it's time for the beetle ball; but rain is expected. What to do? The spiders come to the rescue, weaving a gossamer silken canopy over the tips of the grass to catch the falling rain; wet drops of sparkling jewels overhead. Leaves of gold and red finish off the decor. Time to party!

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "wet". (end of post)

Blurred Eyes

"Hold still Nicky. I'm trying to get a picture of those "baby blues"!"
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"Sometimes in our confusion, we see not the world as it is, but the world though eyes blurred by the mind." ~ Unknown
Nicky just won't keep his head still, looking to the right and left and back again; I was really surprised his head and eyes turned out as clear as they did. Nicky is Willows brother, a blue-mitted lynx Ragdoll and the most adorable cat. Rhett is handsome, Nicky is adorable. Don't you just love his "white eyeliner" eyes?

Submission for LensDay topic "blur". (end of post)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sitting Ducks

Local inhabitants, Mt. Trashmore, Virginia Beach.
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"Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing:
What a little thing
To remember for years -
To remember with tears!"
~William Allingham (Irish Poet. 1824-1889)
The ducks and geese love the large pond at Mt. Trashmore. The city has put a flexible fence in the water at the ponds edge with planted reeds and water grass. The birds use this area for nesting in the spring. The pond is surrounded by a running path and the "hill" that is Mt. Trashmore shields it from the interstate highway. When Nyssa was little she begged to go feed the ducks when we visited. Dad would have several bags of old bread already toasted and waiting. As they stepped out of the car with that bread, the ducks and geese would surround them. Seagulls magically appeared. Beautiful birds. Great memories.

Submission for Tuesdays Photos topic "ducks". (end of post)

Monday, June 19, 2006

True Blue

Centaurea cyanus, Bachelor Button, Cornflower
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"I love to study the many things that grow below the corn stalks and bring them back to the studio to study the color. If one could only catch that true color of nature - the very thought of it drives me mad." ~ Andrew Wyeth
My wildflowers are finally blooming with these bachelor buttons, poppies, miniature snapdragons and others in pink, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, and purple. How could the butterflies resist? So many beautiful colors to choose from; which one is the "true" color of nature?

"True" is not simply the opposite of "false". A person showing their inner thoughts and beliefs are said to be showing their "true colors", especially if the facade they put on for the world is different. "True beauty" comes from within and "true friends" look past your failings to your heart. One can be "true" to themselves or to someone they love; steadfast, constant, and sure. Everything "true" comes from that still, small place deep inside us; the place that shapes our character, our actions, and our thoughts. Truth comes from our souls. How "true blue" are we?

Submission for Moody Monday topic "true". (end of post)