I Made My Husband Go Blind and it Wasn’t Soap Poisoning

Look at what Gerhard gave to me:

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Awww!  A piece of packing foam.  What a sweetie he is.  I’ll bet you wish your friends gave you pieces of packing foam.

Why, you ask, would he give me packing foam?

Ah, good question.  He gave it to me to use on my flash for my camera.  If you cover the top of the flash with the packing foam (use a pony tail holder to wrap it around the flash), it will soften the harshness of the flash.

I decided to test it out.

I warned Darling Husband, “I’m going to take a couple of pictures of you with the flash to test out this packing foam.  The first one won’t have the foam on it.”

The part about the flash not having the foam on it wasn’t entirely true.  The foam was on the flash, but flopping off and not covering the flash part.  Darling husband looked up, saw the strip of packing foam dangling off the flash, said, “What is that?” as he stared directly at the flash at the exact moment that I snapped the picture.

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“Aaahhh!  My eyes!  What did you do?”

Eh, he’ll be alright.

I covered the top of the flash with the packing foam to compare while Darling Husband recovered:

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Much nicer, except for the fact that I never noticed how blue Darling Husband is.  Why is he so blue?  What did he eat for dinner?

Oh wait.  He’s blue because I didn’t set the white balance to flash.  Let’s try the experiment again with the correct setting and without the packing foam.

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That looks really bad.  Now, we add the packing foam.

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Much nicer!  What a handsome man!  It’s a darn good thing that Darling Husband thinks I’m cute when I “talk photography.”

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I Almost Died in a Lava Spewing Sinkhole!

There are things in life we expect.  Somewhere in our 80 years of life we might have a leaky roof or our kids might put regular dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher or maybe a car will be stolen.

We expect these things.  We prepare for these things.  We tell our kids right after we read this blog, “Do NOT use regular dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher.”

But there are some dangers you never think to expect.  And when Wendy invited us to lunch the other day I wasn’t prepared to have my very life and limb put at risk while I sipped my soup.

There we were, gathered in her home, ready to settle down to our soup and Klondike bars when she mentions the sink hole behind the very house we’re all sitting in.

What?

Wait.  Surely she meant to say the broken lawnmower behind the house.  I mean, a broken lawnmower is expected.  But a sink hole?

“Sink…hole?”

“Yeah.  You can see it best from the kids’ room upstairs.”

This, I had to see.  Surely everyone would feel the same way?  No.  No!  They just sat there, immune to the Dread Horror a mere 50 yards away, and chit-chatted while I darted up the stairs to assess the danger.

And there, not too far from her house was a monstrous sink hole!

Well, maybe not monstrous, but it wasn’t like I had to squint to see it.  Sheesh!  It was with great reservation and a light step on the stairs, so as not to disturb the fragile ground beneath my feet, that I rejoined the group and sipped my soup.

But the kids!  The kids!  They went stomping and clomping and Jurassic-Park-making-the-water-wiggle pounding up and down the stairs.  Stop!  Just stop before we’re all swallowed up by the earth and don’t get to finish our Klondike bars!

Here is Wendy’s sinkhole.  You can see her yard at the bottom of the picture.

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With the zoom lens: _DSC3660-small

More zoom:

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I think we should move Lunch at Wendy’s to Lunch Anywhere That Doesn’t Have a Flippin’ Sink Hole In The Backyard.

Today Wendy, after a month of nonchalant gazing at the Hole to Hades, finally got around to trying to figure out who owns the land behind her house.  Hurry up, Wendy–get that hole filled in!  It might start spewing lava!

P.S.  I dare you to look at the 3rd picture in this series and not shudder in horror.

Some people never learn

You would not believe the number of horrible things I need to do.  For example, I’ve taken on the insane responsibility of providing 12 years of education for my children.

What was I thinking??

I wasn’t even supposed to have kids.  For a lovely decade of married life, we lived breezy lives filled with dinners out and dusty houses (dusty because we were always out at dinner) and superior looks directed to those people with their noisy, messy children at the next table over.

And then insanity struck and we had children.  Willingly! And if that wasn’t crazy enough, we decided to homeschool them.  For crying out loud!

All the curricula (whoa—watch out for that fancy pluralizing!) is sold at fairs in April and May.  If you buy at the fair shipping and handling is free.  Hot dog!  Free shipping and handling?  Sign me up!  But that means I have to plan the school year rightnow in time for the fair.

I also have to clean out the attic before it gets hot enough up there that the few remaining brain cells I have left after having kids melt out through my ears.  Wait…can your brain melt out through your ears?  Tomorrow’s anatomy lesson: watch the Mythbuster’s episode of brains melting out of your ears and find out.

I also have to tidy my messy, messy house.  Instead of tidying it yesterday when it was still almost under control, I visited with friends and we ate salsa and Chinese food and cakes and lazed around watching Doctor Who episodes.

And on top of all that, I need to edit a bunch of pictures.

And am I doing any of that?  No!   I’m writing a blog.  I’ve been wanting to write this blog since Saturday night at about 7:36.  Actually, I’ve been wanting to write before that but there was no time and, honestly, not a lot of material.  But on Saturday night I finally had some awesome material.  There is nothing more tantalizing to a writer than real live material.

And time.  Time to write is important.

Most professional writers say that you simply must carve out time to write every single day.  Can you imagine trying to carve out time to write every single day?  Like, for a year or something?  And maybe throw in a picture every day, too?  Who has time for that?!  I’m sure I don’t know.

Let me tell you about Saturday night and the Stars.

There’s a program at church for the girls.  They go to classes every Thursday night and at the end of 6 or so years of classes from preschool to 5th grade, they can opt to take a test involving lots of memory verses and such, and if they pass, they are crowned.  Their class is called the Star class when they reach the 5th grade level.

The crowning is a big event for these girls.  They wear fancy dresses and get their hair done by Sandy, and if she can make my rat’s nest hair look good, then you know she’s an amazing hairdresser, there’s a big long ceremony with speeches and dinner afterward.

This year, my friend Kris’ daughter was being crowned and she asked me to take pictures.  She asked me to get a shot of each girl in her dress, and also one of the girl with her parents.

I took the pictures of the three other families and saved Kris’ family for last.  Why for last?  Because I know better.  I know better than to try to get anything done photography-wise with Kris and her family.

Here’s what happened:

First, her husband Eric did not cooperate.  Eric is the sort of man who would turn feral without the taming influence of his wife.  He’d be out in a tree hunting deer every single day of his life if he could, living in a hut decorated wall to wall with dead deer heads.

So the fact that he’s in a tie is a victory for civilization.  And the fact that he’ll even pretend to try to get his picture taken is astounding.  But a man can only take so much:

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And apparently, a girl can only take so much:

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We tried again, but the Sabotage of the Pictures wasn’t over yet:

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And then the whole thing just fell apart.  Apparently, there’s only so much an entire family can take:

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I’m not sure what Kris was thinking.  I mean, I warned her last time when I published this picture (below) for the fourth (and now the fifth!) time, not to make silly faces at a photographer with an armed camera:

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Kris will be glad to know that I won’t be using that above picture any more.  I’ll be using this one, all cropped and lookin’ good:

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In the end I did manage one nice picture of the family. But I don’t have time to post that now.  That’ll have to be on a post another day.

Clothes Shopping Again, With Pictures

I wanted to look like an Easter Egg.  I tried to look like an Easter Egg.  But I couldn’t do it.  I’m just not an Easter Egg, no matter how much I want to be.

What am I talking about?  Clothes shopping.  More specifically, spring/summer clothes shopping.

As you are all well aware, Darling Husband and I are cheap thrifty.  We are stingy smart with our money.

Since we’re so cheap economical, we don’t like to spend a lot on clothes.  I don’t know what Darling Husband’s excuse is for not buying decent clothing because he’s a guy and wears the same clothes every day of his life.  He could actually buy a good quality shirt and keep wearing it until 2043.  If he’d pony up the extra cash for material that doesn’t fray after a season, no one would ever know how old the shirt is.  That’s how easy men have it.

It’s different for women, especially women with short attention spans, like me.  The reason that I buy cheap clothes is that I get bored with my clothes and want something different, so I don’t mind if they wear out after a couple of years.  Why spend a bunch of money on something I won’t want to wear by 2015?

This means I head out about twice a year to refresh the wardrobe.

And every spring I try very hard to be an Easter Egg, but it just never works out for me.

On Sunday I headed out to the outlets and started at Maurices*.  Oh heaven!  One look in there and it’s like being inside of one of those sugar egg dioramas.  Do you remember those?  Why haven’t I seen one of those in a while?  Do they still make them?  They’re eggs made out of sugar, covered with frosting, and the insides have a little 3D scene of bunnies or chicks made out of candy.  Google images for ‘sugar egg diorama’ for examples.

Maurices is like a sugar egg diorama.  All the clothes are sweet and girly and pink and purple and everything has ruffles and flounces all over it.  Maybe this year I would finally look good in pink, frothy clothing.  One can always hope, anyway. So I gathered up all the frilly, ruffly, pastel colored clothing I could fit over my arm and headed to the fitting room.

First, here is what I wore going in.

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When I go shopping I wear something I like so I can see whether the outfit I’m trying on looks as good to me as the outfit I’m shopping in.

Note the dark colors and marked lack of frills.  Also note that I haven’t edited any of these pictures, so they’re not the things of visual wonder you’re used to seeing from me.

First up: an Easter Egg Yellow dress.

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Um….maybe….how about the back?

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No.  It’s too thin and makes me look like I have a lumpy butt.  Of course I don’t actually have a lumpy butt (ahem.)  But it makes it look like I do.  Just say No to lumpy-butt dresses!

Easter Egg Purple top with a cute bow.

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Feels like lingerie.  Maybe not to anyone else, but it does to me.  I don’t wanna wear lingerie around town.

Peach frills?

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Nope.  Just not me.  Not sure why not.  I just can’t seem to carry off a lot of busyness in my clothing.

Something a little less fluffy?

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I sort of liked this one, but it’s obviously much too small.  They didn’t have the next size up, and the size after that was too large.  Oh well.  Moving on…

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I like this button down shirt.  I tend to be able to wear button down shirts pretty well.  I think most people can as long as they don’t floof out in the back and make you look really thick.

Turned to check.  Um.  It didn’t floof out in the back, but the back of the shirt was lace.  See through lace.  Nope.  No see-through clothes at my age.  Not gonna happen.

Bat wings?

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No.  No bat wings for me.

Another sort of button down shirt?

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No, I look utterly ridiculous in that shirt.  How about pretty blue?

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Oh, dang it!  Almost.  I kinda like this one except for the saggy boob part.  I don’t like wearing saggy boob shirts.  And I’m not gonna try to figure out how to have it altered, so back on the rack it goes.

One last chance at a dress with a nice bird pattern.

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Feels frumpy.

Let’s move to another store:  Old Lady.

They had a bunch of button down shirts at Old Lady, but apparently the 80’s are back with their big blowzy shirts.  I look like a big balloon in big blowzy shirts.  I managed to find a normal-looking button down shirt.

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But it doesn’t quite fit the way I like button down shirts to fit.  It’s too square.  I am not square shaped.  Back on the rack.

And this, my friends, is why I’m not a model:

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Models have to be able to wear pretty much anything and look good in it.  I do not look good in this dress.

Drab olive green shirt.

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Hey!  I look awesome in drab olive green!  And thus, my Easter Egg dreams are toppled.  Oh well.  At least there’s a hint of ruffle in the shirt.

I bought it.

Might as well get some tshirts while I’m there.  In red.  (One of my best colors.)

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And kelly green.

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That doesn’t look kelly green.  Gerhard, why doens’t it look kelly green on my camera??

A new store.  Dress Barn.  Because I want a dress.  No, actually I want a skirt.  Every year I try to find at least one skirt that fits.  They’re nice in the summer.

How about this one?  (With the black t-shirt I got at Old Lady.)

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That looks nice on me!  Sure does, if I want to stand in one spot all day.  The thing was oddly tight.  I had to take tiny mincing steps to beetle across the fitting room.  No.  I can’t live my life beetling around the house.

Ok–get ready for this one because it’s not something I’d normally get, but in the end I did.

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A long shapeless tablecloth skirt.  Yup!  I got it.  No, it’s not the most flattering on me, but I needed something that’s cool in the summer that I can run around in with the kids.

And for fun, I tried one more Easter Egg shirt.

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No.  It’s not me.  It reminds me of my maternity clothes–especially because it tied in the back.

On to Van Heusen.  Ooo!  Pricey!  Nah–outlets, remember?  They have ‘markdown sales!’  Everything is always $80 off the original price.

I tried on the polka dots.  I have a soft spot for polka dots.  I met my husband wearing a polka dot shirt.

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It’s ok.  How about something in pastel:

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I liked this one better than the polka dots.  But it didn’t fit right.  One size was entirely too small, but the next size up was too large.

Red?

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Yup.  I like red.  Bought the red.

And then I was hungry.  But I’d spent money, and you know how I feel about that.  Called Darling Husband, “Should I get myself a sandwich from Quiznos or come home and eat?”

He said, “For things like this I ask myself, WWJD?”

WWJD?  Either not turn the stones into bread or multiply the sandwiches and feed all the shoppers.

“Um.  Who is J in WWJD?”

“Jackie.”  Ah!  My name is Jackie!  Indeed.  What would Jackie do?  While I was wondering what Jackie would do Darling Husband said, “By the way, what’s for dinner?”

Exactly.  What was for dinner? If I came home, I’d have to figure that out and not just for myself.  I’d have to feed all four of us.

“I’m eating at Quiznos.  You guys will have to fend for yourselves.”

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*  I am leery of thrift stores.  It cost us about $2000 to get rid of bedbugs a couple of years ago.  A cost analysis leads me to believe it’s better to buy new then to have to exterminate bedbugs.

A Haunting Picture and White Mismatched Socks

Do you remember all the way back to October?  Me neither.  I’m still struggling to remember when I cooked the chicken fajitas this past week so I can decide whether or not it’s safe to feed the leftovers to the family.

I’ll remind you about last October:

Last October I had done very little portrait photography (very little) and was having a difficult time finding anyone willing to be my victim test subject.  Then Kris asked, “Will you take my son’s senior portraits for me?”  and I said, “I don’t have any experience!” and she said, “I don’t have any money!” and a deal was struck.  I’d use her son, Eric, as a practice subject and Kris ran the risk of getting what she paid for.

Kris warned me that Eric wouldn’t like having his picture taken, so I warned him well ahead of time to expect the photoshoot to take a good two hours.

As it turned out, Eric didn’t mind having his picture taken at all.  Two hours into the photoshoot Eric said we could keep going and he was even willing to schlep the 6 foot tall reflector and stand and tripod all around the grounds.  And the stool.  And the chair.  And the camera bag.  Really, I think that all my photography subjects from now on will be 17 year old, 6’3 football players.  They’re the only people strong enough to heft all that gear around.

After three hours, we were both finally ready to wrap things up.  I asked Kris when she needed the pictures and she said, “Spring.”

And so the pictures sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Until the other day when I saw on my calendar that it was March 20th.  Spring!

And then on March 21nd I realized, “Spring?  Wasn’t I supposed to do something in the spring?”

In a flurry of activity, I cleaned up all 7000 pictures I’d taken of Eric.  It was a tough job.  Here’s what I had to work with:

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Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Here’s his mother:

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What?  Again?!  I’ve managed to post this picture of Kris four times!  She keeps threatening to de-friend me on Facebook, but I don’t think she really will.  Lesson learned:  never, ever purposely make yourself look silly when a photographer is pointing a camera at you.  It will come back to haunt you over and over and over and over.

With a lot of photoshop-type editing, I managed to change Eric’s picture into this:

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I sent a bunch of the pictures to Kris.  That Sunday at church, I knew that Eric must have liked them, because he  gave me eye contact and a little smile.  No one’s gonna do that if they hate the pictures you took of them.  If they don’t like the pictures they’ll slink away and hope you didn’t see them so they don’t have to lie when you ask, “How’d you like your pictures?”

Kris later confirmed that Eric did in fact like his pictures.  I’m so pleased.  I learned a lot taking all those pictures–some turned out great, some not so great–and in the end Eric has a few decent shots for his senior portraits.

I’ll wrap this up with a few more pictures of Eric:

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It was tough getting him to smile.  But the non-smiley pictures look really good in black and white.

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No, don’t ask about the socks.  Just don’t ask.

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That little sparkle in his eyes is from the reflector.  Boy10 was supposed to aim the reflector at Eric through the entire shoot, but it kept toppling over on him.  The reflector was 6 feet tall after all, and Boy10 was only about 4.5 feet tall.

There are Monsters in my Basement

Wait until you see what I found in my basement this evening.

So there I was being a Good Wife and making my husband a chicken and egg salad sandwich for his lunch tomorrow.  Awwww.  What a great wife I am.

Don’t go getting all excited.  Poor Darling Husband has to make his lunch all the other 364 days of the year.  Today was a fluke.  He usually makes his lunches on Sunday afternoon, but this past Sunday afternoon was our Easter Feast.  We ending up passing out right at the dinner table after disgustingly stuffing ourselves during our festivities.  I had to prod Darling Husband awake the next morning with the ham bone that was stuck to his shirt and he staggered off to work with only a leftover biscuit covered in I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter for lunch.

Oh wow.  What an awesomely exaggerated paragraph that was.  I have missed writing this blog so much.  There are very few places in life when you can get away with outright lies as in that above paragraph.  So refreshing.

Ok—back to the story.

So…there I was being a Good Wife, making him a sandwich for his lunch.  And of course it was egg salad (with just a bit of leftover chicken thrown in.)  Part of the Easter Festivities had involved dyeing 589 eggs.  Hoo-boy, that’s a lotta eggs.

Nephew14 and his family wouldn’t touch the eggs and sidled out the door before they’d even all been dyed.  They’re smart like that.  They didn’t want to have to eat egg salad sandwiches for the next six months like we’re going to have to.  Mom and Dad took one egg each.  That left 587 eggs for me and mine. I wonder if egg salad freezes well?

I hollered out from the kitchen to Darling Husband, “Yo!  I’ve made up the egg salad.  Do you want me to slap it on some bread for you?”  That’s the sort of lovey dovey talk that goes on in this house.  Ah, l’amour.

He yelled back, “Not unless you know where the bagels are.”

I don’t know where the bagels are but since I was on a roll I looked around for them.  They weren’t anywhere upstairs.  Maybe they were in the basement freezer.  I made my way down the rickety basement stairs.

And then, “Bam, Shazaam! Holy arachnids, Batman!” What do I see but a monstrous beast in the basement.

Here’s a picture of it.

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Now I know you’re thinking, “I can barely make out that tiny little dot in the middle of the picture.”  Just wait.

I called out to Darling Husband, “We’ve got a tarantula in the basement!  Check it out!”  He came to behold the wonder with his own eyes and said, “Quick–take a picture. Grab an action figure so there’s a frame of reference.  I’ll watch it to see that it doesn’t get away.”  Snort.  As if he’d be able to stop it if it wanted to get away.  Maybe with a lasso and a stun gun.

I ran back upstairs to grab an action figure.  It had to be one that wouldn’t fall over on The Beast and enrage it.  How about The Hulk?  He’s easy to stand up.  Darling Husband gingerly placed The Hulk sort of near The Bug.

But not too near.  Darling Husband leaped back before the Mighty Monster could react.  He noted, “It’s sluggish.  Maybe because it’s so stinkin’ cold in this house.”  You’re preaching to the choir, Darling Husband.  I haven’t been warm in this house since 2005.

I tried to take the picture, but taking a picture while cowering in the farthest corner well out of range of a mighty leap wasn’t working.  Back upstairs to put the zoom lens on the camera.

Here’s the picture.

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The problem is that the Hulk action figure is larger than normal sized action figures.  That’s what happens when you have the word “hulk” in the very name of something.  It was messing up the Frame of Reference.

So…back up the stairs. I grabbed the Iron Man Lego Mini-Fig.

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As you can see the spider is, like, five times the size of a Lego Mini Fig.  Maybe even nine times the size, I just don’t know.

I’m wondering what caused the spider to grow so large?  Maybe a steady diet of million leggers.  Oh, shudder at the mere thought.  I’m sending Darling Husband out tomorrow for a Hazmat suit for me.  That’s the only way you’re getting me in that basement when I’m home alone.

Maybe he can pick me up a taser while he’s at it.