Thursday, May 29, 2008

Call Me Camera Crazy

These photos of a dreadful rat in our backyard convinced me I could catch things quickly with a DSLR (if you can stomach it, click on photo for a closer look!). Aside from not really thinking it would be useful, I was afraid that things would pass me by while I tried to set up the camera. Usually in the spring we are plagued with at least one rat in the backyard--fortunately they only come out around sundown. That's both good and bad, it can quickly spoil the mood while having a candlit dinner by the pool. Bruce is concerned about rat poison--he's always thinking of ways Baxter might get hurt.

I decided to go to Colonial Photo and Hobby after calling them and finding out they were competitive with their prices. They've been in Orlando for over 50 years, one of the few remaining businesses from my childhood. I was surprised at the number of people in the store as I went there around 2 in the afternoon; apparently their customer service must draw repeat customers. I had a nice young man for a salesperson, he was very helpful, didn't try to convince me to buy more than I need. I bought the NikonD60 with two vibration reduction lenses, two UV filters, and a polarizing filter. The price came in about what I was expecting. I now have a person I can call about the camera if the need arises, something that Costco doesn't offer.

While in the store I held both the Canon Rebel XTI, and the Nikon. Because I'd had two weeks practice with the Nikon it already felt good in my hands which convinced me it was the camera for me. After a lengthy discussion with Matt on Monday, the conclusion was that both cameras will give you great pictures, however if it doesn't feel comfortable it won't be as pleasurable. As you are well aware by now I listen to my eldest son, usually following his sound advice. The cool thing about the camera purchase is that I bought it with some of the money I've earned from taking pictures. We shall see if the camera pays for itself in the next few months.

Speaking of which I made my first invoice today to send to the assisted living facility using a template on my iMac word processing program, Pages. The more I use it the more comfortable I've become, it is very intuitive with seamless integration of my photos.

That brings up yesterday's project. Lately I've woken up more frequently at night than I'd like. Normally I don't look at the clock but after lying there thinking about stuff I got up. You would not believe some of the things I did at 2 in the morning, one of which is to gather any garbage around the house putting the bag by the door to take out in the morning. As well I noticed the moon which was way cool. I got the tripod out and set up in the front yard. Poor Baxter thought I was crazy! Lastly, I remembered how to burn the DVDs of the photos and began that project. Eventually I went back to bed. Now I'm a tired girl, as is Mr. Bruce; he's fast asleep on the couch after returning home from a business trip. He got up at a ridiculous hour this morning so who can blame him? I'm just happy he's home.

Listening to: Blur - Crazy Beat
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Ray Charles & Van Morrison - Crazy Love
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tastes and Preferences

While Leanne and Bill were here for a little Memorial Day cookout, Bill used the term tastes and preferences regarding the marketplace. According to him, that is what drives the market. We discussed at length the changing marketplace--we are clearly living through some tumultuous times for businesses. As well, Bruce and I were talking earlier about how iTunes shares the blame in changing the music business dramatically. Used to be people could make mix tapes, or cds, but it took effort on their part, more often than not, many would just listen to an album of songs by the same artist. Not so these days with party shuffle so easy to use. Albums will never recover I'm predicting--nothing too ground breaking, but just one of the things that have changed in the last decade. I told Bill I've benefited from the tastes and preferences model because although I'm not nearly as technically proficient as some photographers, I seem to be able to take pictures that people like. Enough economics?

I always get anxious before a show--this Saturday is Baldwin Park Art Festival. Fortunately it is only one day because I hate to miss the market again. Dana, our market manager, relies on me to photograph the scene. The truth is, I am part of a community of small business owners that we consider a little family. I feel for those who really need to make money there, especially now that the hot weather is coming.

The picture today is a practice shot of some shells I picked up while in Siesta Key taken with Roger's Nikon-yes, I still have it. I've been working on selective focusing, at least that's what I call it. I noticed the cute little coral shell has what looks like a heart cut-out!

I'm clearly not cut out to sit at a computer all day yet that's what I've been doing for most of today. For one thing, my feet still go numb when I sit for so long, but the task I'm working on has been neglected for far too long. You see, I've amassed over 13,300 photos in my iPhoto library which is clearly way too many. Only a tiny fraction of them are any good, so far I've managed to ditch 2,000 of them. I ran into a friend at the grocery store the other day who told me their computer was stolen the night before. Apparently the subject of backing things up had been discussed two days prior; you guessed it, he did not back things up. Thus my tackling this unpleasant task. My photos have not been burned to DVDs since last September. I'm only on November 22 deleting so I've got a long way to go. I figured I should get rid of marginal things before I burned the DVDs, but we'll see. I may just get burned out myself before then!

The Chicago trip is ON!!! We'll fly to Chicago on Monday, and stay until Wednesday morning. I'm just letting you in on the second part of our trip--we'll fly to Atlanta from Chicago, then drive two hours to our friend's log cabin in North Carolina! If you can imagine it, we're trading a visit for pictures of their cabin for a rental website. More details to follow.

I miss Bruce.

Listening to: Morrissey - Sing Your Life
via FoxyTunes

Listening to: Stereophonics - Have A Nice Day
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 26, 2008

Good Times

We're back from our little trip to Siesta Key. Returning last evening around 5:30, Bruce went across the street to get Baxter from our neighbors' house. Apparently he had so much fun over there that he was in no particular hurry to come home. Her 11 year old son fell for Baxter in a big way.

We took the Tamiami Trail down to Sarasota; it continues across the Everglades and over to Miami as the name implies. Actually the name is a contraction of Tampa and Miami because that is where the north/south portion begins. Begun in 1915 it takes you through Ruskin on the way south which is a famous tomato growing region; lots of small motels which have seen better days line the highway. Although the interstate is faster we were in no particular hurry. Both of us like to take back roads whenever we can.

Speaking of taking back roads, an experience at the museum the other day made me realize anew how in conversation the way you convey something is as important as what you have to say. Of course we all know this but often we forget it. A woman told me she was a back roads person in such a way as to seem high and mighty for it. I realized that when I tell people I never watch television they may construe it as I think I'm better than them for it. My new plan is when the subject arises I'll explain that I somehow don't seem to find the time to watch television. I think that sounds better--hopefully as if it's a problem of time management on my part--what do you think?

The party was really something. Steve spared no expense for his guests--at least 75 people throughout the day. I spent some glorious time playing in the waves which are very unusual for the Gulf of Mexico. The water was spectacular--warm, with varying shades of turquoise, as was the sunset on Friday night. Siesta Key is off the mainland from Sarasota with a charming little village. Visiting places like this makes you wonder what sort of jobs people have that afford the lifestyle. We ate lunch at St. Armands Circle off the John Ringling Causeway.

Time did not permit a visit to the Ringling Museum which is supposed to be spectacular. We did, however, visit the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on the shores of Sarasota Bay.Sarasota Gem
Aside from the beautiful flowers, there are amazing Banyan trees with their spectacular root system. This little frog is one of the poison frogs housed in aquariums. I so wish this could have been better, but the light was dim, I took it by putting the camera directly on the glass; there were not only blue frogs, but yellow with black spots, a pale shade of green which looked like it was a plastic little statue, and an unusual shade of brown.

This morning Matt called, a wonderful surprise. Turns out there is a Spring Bank Holiday coinciding with Memorial Day here--a happy coincidence. Talk about good times--Matt defines the word!

Not sure what today will bring but you'll certainly hear about it won't you?

Listening to: Aretha Franklin - Good Times
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Day Without Sunshine

Today was the first day without sunshine since the art show I did way back in April. Unfortunately, although it was gray, we had very little rain which we sorely need. We leave tomorrow after lunch to go to Siesta Key to Bruce's friend, and colleague, Steve's condo on Siesta Key. He's having a big party on Saturday which I'm sure will be loads of fun. If all goes well we won't be returning until at least Sunday afternoon.

Now that we have Baxter these kind of trips prove challenging trying to find someone to care for him in our absence. This trip he'll stay across the street at Angela and Matt's house. They adore him, and having no dog of their own are delighted to take over Baxter duty for a few days. Bruce, of course, will worry about our little cutie.

Rewind to yesterday. I arrived at noon, which as I may have previously posted is the worst time to take beach shots; the sun is entirely too bright at that time but I did what I could. What surprised me, aside from the fantastic rock formations, was the color of the sand, and the calm water. I can't remember a time when the Atlantic Ocean was as calm as it was yesterday in that place. I'm not sure if it is the presence of the rocks, or what, but it was really something. As well, the water was crystal clear as you can see--another surprise. I hope at some point to be able to go there at high tide to see the water flying up in the air some fifty feet according to the Nature Conservancy site. My search on flickr for a picture of it was fruitful--it looks awesome! I'm showing you a spot where the waves come crashing in. Up and down the coast the sand is a different color from very white in Ponce Inlet, orange in Flagler Beach, yellowish in Vero, off-white in Cocoa, and gray in Jupiter. The darker the color, the hotter the sand gets. Yesterday it was 95 degrees (!!!) making the sand super hot to bare feet. I dropped my reading glasses, first in the ocean, and then on the sand. Fortunately for me I realized they were not in my pocket when I got back on the boardwalk and retraced my steps to find them. Because you cannot really swim there are almost no people around, another weird site at a Florida beach.

In my zeal to get my files together I put the utility bill for this month in a file, forgetting to pay it--duh!! Fortunately a courtesy call (oxymoron) today reminded me of my faux pas. All fixed.

When Matt lived in Atlanta he took us to a restaurant called Agnes and Muriel. As is always the case with anything Matt introduces us to, it was not only trendy, but good as well. That Christmas he surprised me with their cookbook which really began my cooking transformation. For years I cooked essentially what my mother cooked which was good, but nothing wrong with change every now and then. One of our favorite recipes from the book is for a rub for bar-b-que ribs. The cooking method is innovative as well making for the most tender ribs you can imagine. The rub recipe has proved to be a favorite of everyone who tries it. Last Christmas I made some to give to a few of Bruce's friends at work for Christmas. It may have taken Jeff a while to try it, but he's now clamoring for more. Yeah to Matt, but you knew that didn't you?

Listening to: Kraftwerk - franz schubert
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Does Wine Count?

Fruits and Vegetables
Here is my dinner from last night--do you think wine counts as a fruit? When I read articles like the posted one I'm astonished anew how much research is done about everything. Of course people don't eat vegetables because they don't like the taste--who needed a study to determine that? I suspect people don't eat as much fruit as recommended because it is so expensive. Bruce eats an apple every morning and sometimes they cost as much as $1 for an apple. I know that doesn't really sound like that much but when a poor person is faced with the decision about $1 for an apple or $1 for a breakfast sandwhich from McDonalds it doesn't take too much thought to figure out which one they'll choose. Apples may be good for you but they certainly don't fill you up and keep you going until lunch if you've got a physically demanding job which is the unfortunate situation many people find themselves in. Nonetheless, the dinner looks pretty doesn't it? Mashed potatoes rank in my top five food favorites as do tomatoes.

When I was a young girl I had a friend in the neighborhood named Mary B. Harris. We called her Mary B. all the time. Recently I came across some frozen biscuits by that name and I'm here to tell you they are delicious!! I love those things. They taste as good as they look. Here's to Mary B.

My heavy bangs are working well at keeping my cowlick under control, however the waves in the back are proving very hard to manage. When Ken cut my hair he used a razor which was a new experience for me. People mentioned later that it should lay better with that kind of cut. Indeed it does lay down, if, and only if, I make sure it is totally dry before going out in the humidity. Yesterday I left for the museum with a cursory blow drying and I've paid the price! On the plus side it is much cooler having the hair off my neck!

Today I got to drive Bruce to St. Lucie and I continued on to Jupiter. My brother Pat told me about a beach there with rocks, a novelty in Florida. After researching it I found that it is called Blowing Rocks Preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy. I'll write more tomorrow about all that. For now I just want to say how grateful I am for family and friends who tell me about great places to be out and about.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

International Mail

The post yesterday brought mail from London; the charming card from Matt, along with a set of Moo cards from Jonathan. Those on flickr are familiar with Moo, the darling little calling cards with your own photos. Jonathan selected some of my favorites from his photo stream and here they are. As well, I'm going to be busy reading thanks to my faraway sons. Matt sent a book and a magazine subscription; Jonathan sent two photography books. One is on exposure, which I can't learn enough about, the other is HDR. That's a very popular technique in photography these days. I'll explain more once I understand it myself. Without Bruce home last night, I read the exposure book before falling asleep.

Speaking of Bruce, he is on his way home from Chicago as I type. Although I just read the newspaper while eating dinner, wherein they described Southwest as the most on time airline, his flight is going to be an hour late. We're trying to formulate some plans for both of us to fly to Chicago on his next trip and I'll get to see Jon-boy and Alissa! It's a secret thus far.

A few sprinkles today--not nearly enough to do much good.

I saw premium gas over $4 for the first time tonight--good thing the MINI is not a gas hog, although the mileage is probably not what you'd presume--the baby car averages around 25MPG.

I've been toying with the idea of a new camera, however, I think I'm going to shelve that idea for now. Practicing with Roger's NikonD40 has convinced me that as of now I'm doing just fine with what I have. That said, I'm sure I might be getting more out of the experience if I had the manual. When I got my first camera I ignored the manual for months, but now I know how critical it is to get familiar with your camera's features. Notice how I said critical--as if it were life and death...whatever.

After my stint at the museum this morning I spent time painting. Ever since last week I've been thinking about the combination of yellow and purple. As I've mentioned in the past the grounds are bursting with blooms, in particular there are loads of brown-eyed susans. If you've not seen this you can't imagine how cheerful they are. Several arrangements combined the BESs and purple spiky flowers making a brilliant display. Today I got around to seeing what the two colors look like on paper. I'll await Bruce's critique.

A trip to Nordstrom yesterday to return some over-priced jeans. Last week I fell prey to the idea, but have since come to my senses. I exchanged them for an over-priced bathing suit which will get more wear. I have a moratorium on jeans until around October for the most part--it is just plain too hot to me. While at the concert the other night I was struck by the sea of blue jeans. Say what you will about baby boomer's' influence, but I suspect most young people are thankful for the bb's trailing the way for denim. Today it is so common place that you'd think it was always the case, people wearig denim everywhere, but you and I know differently.

The New Yorker magazine has no rivals.

Listening to: Tears For Fears - Woman In Chains [w/Oleta Adams]
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 19, 2008


Just a few miles from home this morning my mobile rang with the news that the little market was canceled due to weather--yipee for two reasons--one, we desperately need rain, and two, household chores beckoned.

Rewind to Friday night and the concert. Apparently the reviewer from our newspaper saw a different show then we did. Elvis Costello and the Imposters were terrific with loads of energy; the keyboard player is amazing. In contrast, we felt like The Police were going through the motions with very little in the way of chemistry either onstage or with the crowd. Our reviewer claimed it was a generous set with fresh interpretations of old favorites, on this point we disagree. After one hour they left the stage, entirely too short for the price of the tickets in our opinion. While true that they came back on but really just do the whole show and be done with it. Enough said.

What's really got me excited is a show Maureen and I attended on Saturday over at the Brevard Art Museum in Melbourne. I'm putting up links to both exhibits we saw, if you've time take a look, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Cut Paper Art
I've Got a Secret
When I saw the PostSecret listing in the paper Friday I immediately called Maureen knowing she is a big fan. We took off around 9 for the hour plus drive--so totally worth it. The cut paper was an added bonus providing a bit of a cheerful antidote to the post cards. While some of the post cards were cheerful, many of them were sad, revealing dark secrets, some unimagineable to me, however very real to the person sending it. Many of the cards showed amazingly creative artistic talent After the exhibit we ate lunch at this lovely little restaurant across the street with what Maureen dubbed, an enchanted garden. Marvelous.

After the market yesterday the manager and a few vendors went across the street to celebrate Bruce's birthday at the wine bar. I imagine this is the first time he's had Happy Birthday sung in both a Spanish version, as well as a Puerto Rican version. Bruce has recently been setting me up then returning later to load it all back up. With his overwhelming work load this is allowing him just a bit of desperately needed down time.

I'm thrilled to report that results of Danny's bone scan were negative. Radiation starts this week--many, many treatments.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Early Birthday Party

Grafitti Art 5/16/08 9:25 AM">
A good time was had by all last night at the renovated Peck home. While vacuuming yesterday morning, I decided to have a birthday dinner for Bruce to surprise him. I called Dave and Bill, got their confirmation, then called Maureen to see if she could come. I decided to go with spicy because that is Bruce's favorite. I ran to the store, got some London Broil and a few other ingredients. Pureeing red wine vinegar, several garlic cloves, a fat, wet, chipotle pepper, along with some salt, pepper, and olive oil in the blender, dividing it into two bags with the meat, and I was off to a good start. Always while using chipotle I have to be very careful as the heat really builds up if you get too much.

Because of the party I altered my original plan of taking the clothes mountain to Lisa's house for distribution. Instead, I took it to the Rescue Mission downtown; hopefully they will supply someone small in need. Upon leaving I discovered this amazing grafitti showcase. The gate was open to the complex allowing me to roam freely after asking permission. As you can imagine this is not the best part of town but I was alert. I met a glass artist whose studio on the premises held some absolutely gorgeous works--wow, I'm a big sucker for glass. He described how about every two weeks they blacken all the walls and paint new stuff. I'll definitely have to keep up with it. If you've time, I've posted a web album for you to peruse.

This morning was my first experience trying to do my new hair, hmmmm......

I've pictured my dear Bruce today--his birthday is Sunday, and yes he was not only surprised but delighted. If I do say so myself the carrot cake from scratch was pretty tasty.

Time to get gussied up a bit to meet other folks within the hour for the concert--a brief review of the festivities on tap for tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gail Gets A Bob

Today we are image heavy because I've been a busy girl!

Yes, that really is me with a brand new look. I went just up to the street to a new salon and let Ken do what he wanted. Normally I would never just walk in like that, and in fact, I got James' recommendation. James is one half of the design team that helped me around the house. I do love convenience. No telling what it will look like when I do it, but it's sure bound to be cooler. You know me well enough by now to know I'd let my hair get way too long! About the photo--I find it very hard to do a self portrait but here it is anyway.

Bruce got me some hanging files to organize my business expenses and of course I'd done nothing with them. Feeling guilty I did work on them a bit and carried it over to other parts of the house.

I finally cleaned out my closet of clothes that were either too old, or didn't fit. The later being the biggest problem. I'm trying to remedy that situation by buying some new smaller clothes that don't look like I borrowed them from a bigger person. The pile remains until tomorrow when I'll find a place to donate them that benefits someone in need.

Attempting to clean up the yard a bit I filled six garbage cans with trimmings from the yard. Some of you know we have a corner lot which translates into lots of trees and plants. Mostly we have lots of ferns and palms. The lady palms, appropriately named as it comes in and takes over, needed much thinning out. There's still much to do but I filled all of our cans, even borrowing one from my neighbor. Although you may have read about wildfires in Central Florida, they are not affecting us in any way. Today was actually quite pleasant, looks like the high will only be 84, a vast improvement over Saturday's 93!

It seems as if everything online is now subject to ratings. I was astonished to see that my blog is now up for grades. Give me an A will you?

I haven't told you we are going to see The Police on Friday night have I? Bruce received two tickets for his birthday about 15 rows back. It will be sure to be a boomer fest.

Addendum: I posted this, then viewed it, and I don't see the silly rating thing...hmmm.

Listening to: Winterkids - Playing Cards With Gingerbread
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Weekend

Craigslist Defense
During our dinner out with Bruce's mom and Judy and Cris I told them about Craigslist. Funny that this article should appear today. Essentially I mentioned that it works like a charm and it was putting a strain on the daily newspaper's advertising revenue. Craig has something to say about that. The dinner was nice--both company and food.

We didn't end up going out on Friday night because our Mr. Bruce was just plain too tired. He's been traveling four days a week; while on the road it is not unusual for him to put in a fourteen hour day if you can imagine.

Another Mother's Day is behind us. I kinda have this thing against what I call "card company" holidays. Funny thing is, I do like to get a card on Mother's Day although it's not mandatory. This was my first Mother's Day when I got a text message--guess who sent that. I tried to get David to come to the market, but he declined. In fairness he was all set to come over after dinner, as was Bill but I declined. I had a decent day at the market which was a VAST improvement over last years. I wish our Matt could see me now. Last year he flew in from London for two days during which time he taught me a lot about my camera. But back to the market---he said maybe if people were there they might buy something. Our new manager has made incredible improvements to the scene. Her background is marketing which she has put to good use. The traffic is up at least ten fold! As well, I now have regulars who visit. One young man keeps bringing friends to buy the graffiti print. I've told folks that people of all ages love it although this is the first time a toddler has approved. She was so cute, just ran right up to it, touching it and squealing with delight. Notice her precious little shoes will you? Her heritage is Icelandic. What a cutie!

Forgive me, I digress. I was just too tired and was sound asleep by 8:30! I slept till 6:30 this morning, and drug myself out of bed to go to the little market. Because Bruce has built Olive Gardens all over the country, I always have something to talk about with the customers. More often than not, they've been to one of his restaurants.

While there I read an article in The New Yorker about the preservation of folk music, a term I'm using very broadly. Here's a quote: "Fame in folk music can be less a matter of talent than of opportunity.." Isn't that pretty much the way it is in all endeavors? Matt related that Madonna put on a good show, exciting the crowd with her presence. She's a good example of not that much talent, but boy does she know how to entertain!

If anyone can remind me how to make a picture my desktop I'd appreciate it. I want to put our little Baxter on there for now.

Lastly, I think I'm no fan of Mother's Day because I no longer have one.
Listening to: Pete Yorn - Murray
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Birthday Girl

I made it! I may have looked like a pro with Roger's camera but I did screw up the pictures of the cake. My fault totally because I had the camera on the wrong setting. They will have to think I got creative by only showing the candles burning! I was nervous driving there but told myself I used to do surgery cases so I could surely handle this. The only thing is I knew my "camera" inside and out back then. At any rate, it was really delightful and I believe a good time was had by all. Actually Rose will turn 100 on May 11. One of her grandsons came from Hawaii for the celebration as did other family members from Los Angeles.

I'm taking Bruce out tonight to celebrate my incredible week and I need to take our Baxter for a walk before he gets home. I'll catch up with you later.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nikon vs Canon

Appalachian Porch Look?

I picked up the Canon around 11 this morning after taking our Baxter for a walk at Cypress Grove Park. Because he is so little the damp ground gets him pretty dirty. We roamed an area that was pretty mucky, exacerbating the problem. I had on my Out & About Photography t-shirt which came in very handy. The first printing was wrong; the company that makes them doesn't have a return policy so they just sent new ones. I had on the old one and wiped his paws on the front of the shirt so it wouldn't end up on the back seat of the baby car. Dirty girl. Returning to the car, I discovered Kelly had called and had the gear all ready. When I say gear, I mean gear--a whole roll about full! Fortunately she included the manual which I'm just getting familiar with. I made sure no one was in the car before I stopped in. I'm getting less vain as the years go by, but really, a filthy shirt looks unseemly on a 50 something.

A long chat with Matt last night cheered me immensely. Last year around now he came home for Mother's Day and accompanied us to the market. I had not one sale that day. Matt was kind and said it was because there were no customers, and maybe that was a factor, but honestly, what a difference a year has made.

He, of course, is taking advantage of living in one of the world's largest cities. He attended a super outdoor installation of graffiti art--really, some amazing art, a few days ago on the bank holiday. As well, he's traveling to Kent this Saturday to a music festival which includes Madonna in the line-up. We discussed her overt sexuality and agreed it might be time to tone it down a bit. Nonetheless, it will make for a super good time. Matt has seen many celebrities over the years including none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. She came to Tallahassee when he was attending FSU. After writing that I realize she doesn't seem to emphasize the Rodham name quite so much these days....maybe she should.

Bruce is finally HOME! Four days of travel make for a very hard week. You'd be hard pressed to keep up with his itinerary so I won't even share it. Suffice it to say, I'm thrilled. For his homecoming dinner I made Parmesan chicken, orzo with lemon zest and parsley, and chopped salad (his favorite). It may sound weird, but a good way to make the chicken is to pound the boneless breast pretty thin, spread with mayonnaise (something for the cheese to adhere to) along with a good grind of fresh pepper, and coat with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Heat olive oil till very hot, sear the chicken, turning once after browning. Tent with foil, voila--delicious juicy chicken. Actually, I'm not a huge chicken fan because usually it's overcooked, and dry, but if you try this you will not be disappointed.

Judy called with the exciting news that 100% of her students passed the FCAT. Now for those of you reading this not from Florida, this may not sound like that big a deal. Let me assure you, it is. In fact, she is probably one of the VERY few teachers who can boast about this. Dedication is her middle name and it shows. Her students remember her for a lifetime.

The picture of Baxter is with the Canon, the sunflower with the Nikon. Obviously, I hardly know what I'm doing with either of them.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Couldn't Wait Around for Vanna

Laura asked for a view of the new dining room, and what Laura wants, Laura gets. In this picture it seems almost comical that a half wall separates two dining tables--I just wanted to include Mr. Baxter!

I took the Nikon over to Leu Gardens to get the feel of it. May I just tell you that it is already HOT at 9 AM? Pulling up to the near empty parking lot, I noticed a semi and little else. I thought possibly the gardens were closed--that was not the case. The semi and a crew of around 100 were filming promo spots for Wheel of Fortune with Miss Vanna White doing the copy. I encountered numerous folks sporting the WOF lanyard , toting huge pieces of equipment; Vanna, however, remained out of sight to your reporter. Apparently, if I'd hung around longer, the next shoot was right near the exit, but as I say, it was hot and air conditioning beckoned.

Being the President is a pretty thankless job; you'd never know it though by the slug fest going on. Make them stop!

I'm not sure what I think of the Nikon yet. I wish I'd had my own camera today because I went to the arid garden which I'd never visited. Leu Gardens is quite a treasure for Orlando. The rose garden is one of the largest in the SE, a white garden, tropical garden, massive flower clock, home demonstration garden, and more. Have I already told you that David and Michelle's wedding reception will be held in the stately home on the property?

Okay, so back to the arid garden. Not only is there a Plumeria tree in bloom (flower used to make Hawaiian leis) but a Coral tree, native to Argentina, the gnarled trunk grows at a 45 degree angle to the ground with gorgeous, dangling, scarlet colored flowers; I'm not as confident with the loaner, consequently, the beauty may be hard to realize with the pictures I took.

My friend Kelly has a Canon Rebel XT which is on tap for tomorrow. I'm pretty lucky people trust me with their equipment. Just barely contemplating a DSLR--this way I can give both a real test. That said, I hate to get involved in the Canon/Nikon war. People are always asking what kind of camera I use; I proudly tell them I use a Panasonic. After all, Matt has one, and by now you know as well as I do that there is no reason to dispute Matt's picks--he's never been wrong as long as I can remember. A disclaimer though--he used to use a Canon.

Have I told you I think the B12 is helping? It seems incredible that a vitamin deficiency could have such negative effects on a body until you think about scurvy.

Listening to: The Bees - Got To Let Go
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

New Camera Trial Run

Curiosity to Wonder
I'm happy to report that the surgery went well--hurray!

I am showing you a few pictures with the borrowed camera, now you can see what the room looks like a bit better. The flower is from the garden at the Polasek. I tried to get there before my shift started but didn't work. By the time I was finished it was 1:00 and the sun was SO know how important lighting is. This came out pretty decent for the timing.

Early to bed, early to rise, is the watchword around here. I can't wait till the morning to practice.

I've Got an Agent!

First the photo--as you know I take pictures of the market every week documenting things for our manager . Remember the man with the bunny on a leash from a while back? The girl carrying the skunk did not even register with me as I was walking towards the them using my zoom to catch the crowd. After uploading the pictures, I discovered that people will make a pet out of any animal!

You've been on this photography journey with me long enough to realize that you never know what is going to happen next. My blog title is a bit misleading, but hey, I wanted to get your attention. Seriously, remember the condo staging about six weeks ago? Maria called last Monday and we decided she could keep the stuff there for a few more weeks as they were hoping the owner would lower the price bringing more potential buyers. On Friday she called with news that someone on the eighth floor was looking for some pieces for their home with Maria steering them towards my stuff. The upshot is she is mailing a check for $695 to my house for two of the canvases!!!! She's not my agent, but she'd make a good one wouldn't she?

Surprisingly the market was amazing for me on Sunday; I delivered a big canvas to a an attorney downtown yesterday and two more are being shipped to a young man in Virginia today. It is getting really hot, the market is bound to slow down soon, however, we'll enjoy the good times while we can.

Amanda, Lisa and Danny's eldest daughter not only got graduated this weekend, she also got engaged! She and Matt have been sweethearts for years now so we knew it was coming, but were taken by surprise by the timing. He is having heart surgery today to fix a long standing problem--wish him well please.

Last night Roger lent me his Nikon D40 to use for the shoot on Friday. I'm planning on practicing during the week to get me up to speed. Today while I'm at the Polasek sitting by myself in the gallery I'll try and study the camera to become familiar. Just so happens there is plenty to photograph around there.

Listening to: Malkmus, Stephen - I've Hardly Been
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 2, 2008

Photographer's Equipment, Apples, and Dog

Last year, early in my training, I photographed a bowl of apples--a traditional still life. When I look at it now I realize how much practice improves one's skills. I'm totally lucky to be able to devote the time--thank you Bruce!

I am so much more aware of the effect natural light has on a picture through much trial, and error. I now know how to adjust my exposure thanks to Matt. The sun is a wonderful tool, unless it is too bright, which in Florida during the summer is certainly the case. We're not called The Sunshine State for nothing folks! As well, as summer approaches, landscape pictures become more difficult. Humidity hangs in the air, soaking our bodies with sweat, and clouding images. Thus, I've taken more landscape shots than I normally would, knowing the time is drawing to a close when they'll come out crisp.

Why I told you that, I'm unsure, but there you have it. You've learned something about picture taking in Florida that I learned through lots of lousy shots!

Lisa called, they are shaking off the gloom of earlier in the week; graduation is probably going on as I type. As is mine, I think.

One of the most dramatic photos I sell is one you've not seen--I'll post it one of these days. Anyway, I got the daisies at Albertson's, a pretty low rent grocery store. Nonetheless, they have great flowers for cheap. Coke is cheap there as well; when I can save money, why wouldn't I? Yesterday's trip there yielded the most beautiful color of gerber daisy--a gorgeous light coral. I could hardly wait until I got home to get those babies photographed. I've posted one on flickr which I took by shooting up towards the skylight in the kitchen. Later in the day I had an idea about an outdoor shot which I'll also share another day. I'm thinking I might have another winner on my hands.

A delightful date last night at a restaurant located in the revived downtown area called Church Street Station. Ceviche serves amazing tapas, every bite bringing a new taste sensation--with so many choices on the menu we think they need a check list. Making our own proved to be no problem as I dug a Wal Mart receipt out of my bag and Bruce wrote the order down. Given the right platform I could gush, and gush about the place. Wait a minute, I am gushing however isn't that what this blog is for???

Yesterday Maureen and I discussed seeing The Visitortoday but we thought things wouldn't work out. Yeah--we were wrong. The movie began at 10AM, excellent timing for us. I could gush, and gush, about this movie; lots of questions posed that have no easy answer. One take away--an unexpected encounter can change ones' life. Equally important, experiencing new things; giving things a try even if you feel foolish.....I know how that one goes!

Listening to: Maroon 5 - Makes Me Wonder
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day, May Day

Did I Over Pay?
Astonishing how cheap some clothes are--I must have overpaid at Ross earlier today when I spent $25 on a dress! The picture today is from the window at Neiman Marcus. I suspect the outfit comes in around the $1,000 range. Where's the sport in that?

Great historical significance on May Day around the world, including the day in 1707 that a treaty was signed merging England, and Scotland, to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Not quite so lofty, but very important to the Peck clan, Jonathan was born on May 1, 1983. It's hard to believe he's reached the quarter century mark. We moved into this house when he was around 12--I can still see him doing a cannonball into the pool at his birthday celebration, never mind that the water was still pretty darn cold! I miss him; knowing he's happy and successful takes some of the sting away. Being the baby of the family, it took him just a bit longer to grow up, but my oh my, he's done a fine job.

Cleaning update: pool, and vacuuming accomplished.

Produce purchased. Still lacking other ingredients, but Bruce won't be arriving until way past dinner tonight, so, there's always tomorrow.

Actually I'm heading over to the design shop to mingle a bit. The pieces are hung,
looking not too bad if I do say so myself.

Remember when I suggested that each day brings something unexpected? This afternoon an e-mail came through from the Assisted Living facility director asking how much I would charge to be the party photographer at the 100 year birthday party for Rose. I'd be honored, however, because my camera takes lousy pictures indoors, I've not responded yet.

Three items from our local paper that might amuse/shock you:

You think your real estate taxes are high? Shaquille O'Neal pays $190,000, while Tiger Woods pays a measly $59,000. Imagine that.

Secondly, as all of you know, the obituaries are full of interesting/mundane stuff. Yesterday one woman was remembered as having sprayed perfume in her mouth at the dentist because she was afraid she had bad breath. Imagine that part two.

Finally that disgusting story about the imprisoned daughter in Austria. You know the details which defy imagination. Imagine that part three.

You Just Never Know