Candy, Girls, Taco Sauce, and Terrorists

Trick or treat night.

First—the costumes.

Boy8 was easy: pirate.

I thought Boy11 would be easy, too:  Jedi.  A few years ago I made monk’s robes for the boys when we were learning about monks in our history classes. My sewing skills are about as good as my cake decorating skills so you know that was a fiasco. The only reason I forged ahead with the monk’s robes is because Jedi knights are really just monks with telekinesis. I knew we’d get a lot of wear out of them.

About half an hour before we headed out I said, “Well, Boy11, what’re you wearing for Halloween?”  He surprised me by saying he wanted to be a wizard.  He would wear his monk’s robe and carry a staff.  Ok–that’s easy.  We have the robe and the staff–no problem. See?

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Darling Husband on Exciting Nature Walk from Oct 13th last year. With staff.

We had the robe and the staff, but we didn’t have a wizard’s hat.  But we did have a “Eurasia” hat.  At our church, we had a thing where we learned about Eurasia and everyone got hats.  We haven’t worn our Eurasia hat since then.  It turns out that the Eurasia hat makes a plausible wizard’s hat.

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The first person who saw Boy11 asked if he was Noah.

The next person asked if he was a hobbit.

Gandalf?

A dwarf.

Blind man with a stick?

Shepherd.

Wizard.

We finally made it to Gerhard’s house. He asked what Boy11 was.  Boy11 said, “Whatever you come up with.”  We explained about the wizard and the Eurasia hat and Gerhard said,  “Eurasia, huh?  So you’re a terrorist from Afghanistan demanding candy.”  He gave Boy11 some stale Easter candy and taco sauce.

Yes, really.  Taco sauce.  He knows Boy11 likes that brand and it turns out that Janet (Gerhard’s wife) doesn’t.  Janet was happy to get the taco sauce out of the house and Boy11 was delighted that he scored a jar of taco sauce while trick or treating.  Win-win.

While the boys trick or treated, I had fun peering into people’s houses. Sure enough the neighbor from Texas with the 800 shiny painted ceramic statues of animals in his yard had a deer head on his wall and was watching a John Wayne movie.  Of course he was watching a John Wayne movie.  I’ll bet they play on a loop all day long.

I pretended to take a piece of candy from Boy8 at another neighbor’s house.  She was very disapproving that I would take candy from a child and reprimanded me.  I suppose she thinks I’m a Horrible Mother. I’ll probably get the stink eye whenever I pass by her house: “There goes that Horrible Mother who steals candy from her children. Those poor little dears.”

At another house, with a porch light on, we knocked and a girl peeked through the window in the door.  The boys heard her yell in a panic, “Oh no!  Mom!  We left the porch light on!” The mother came rushing to the door with a pan of freshly baked cookies and gave each of the boys a cookie–still warm.  Guess they didn’t want terrorist tricks played on them.

All in all, even though it rained on us we had a blast.

But Boy11 almost missed it. All throughout this past month there was a contest at church to see who could bring more candy for the church’s Light the Night event—the boys or the girls.  The boys won.  The prize for winning was for the girls to serve the boys ice cream–tonight.  Oh, Boy11 wrestled with the issue—trick or treat and get candy or make the girls serve him ice cream while he demanded more, more, more!  Boy8 just snorted and knew the truth:  candy is way better than girls.

We bumped into a 12 year old friend of Boy11 while we were trick or treating and the two of them bemoaned the fact that they could have been being fed ice cream by the girls at church right at that very moment.  And such is the confounding life of an 11 and 12 year old.  Candy or girls?  Candy or girls?  This year the candy won, but I’m thinking not for long.

And since I know this won’t last much longer, it was all the sweeter.  In a few years, I will dearly miss going trick or treating.

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Puppy Love, Cranky Ants, and Cake

Would you take a look at these two?  For crying out loud–both the boy and the dog are grinning with pure joy.

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As soon as Boy8 and Basil clapped eyes on each other, it was love at first sight. Notice that Boy8’s hand is a blur.  From the minute we arrived at Basil’s house until we left, Boy8 was petting Basil non-stop.

This is a problem. I’m starting to weaken and forget how sad it is when pets die. And, as you can tell from the picture, it’s pretty clear that Boy8 needs a fuzzy little pet to love.  The ants don’t count.  We still have two of them teetering around their farm in their electric wheelchairs, but they’re testy little creatures and will gum you with their elderly toothless jaws if you try to touch them.

Why we were visiting Basil?  We were at Karen’s (absolutely gorgeous old) house for a private cake baking lesson for Boy11.  If you remember this picture from my October 20th blog post, you’ll see why the boy needed a lesson.

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Since my decorated cakes don’t turn out much better, we were in dire need of a professional.

While we were there Boy8 pet Basil, Boy11 baked his little heart out, and I took notes.  We managed to nab the secret recipe to Karen’s Nine Layer Chocolate Ganache and Oreo Cream Cake.  Yes, you read that right:  Nine.  Chocolate Ganache. Oreo Cream.  Oh, yeah.

Are you ready to see the cake?  You might want to close your eyes and scroll past it unless you’re stuffed, because once you see it you’re gonna want to eat it.  Here it is:

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And a better view of the top with the crushed double stuf Oreos.

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Huge improvement from a couple of weeks ago, huh?  Karen was an amazing teacher.

There was even enough of the ingredients left over that Karen made an Oreo Cream Parfait to keep.

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When our lesson was done Karen gave us a bag of spinach.  Someone gave her two boxes of greens–more than she could eat.  When we got back home with the cake, we were greeted by Darling Husband.  He raised the obvious question, “So, who is my favorite son today?  The one who brings me the Nine Layer Chocolate Ganache and Oreo Cream Cake or the one who brings me a bag of spinach?  Hmmmm…”

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More pictures of Boy11 and Karen making the cake:

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Homeschoolers can solve all your problems.

A few days ago I posted about my 17 hour school day.  It’s such a long day (but really more like 7 hours) because of the non-stop rabbit trails we take.

A few people responded to my post with compliments saying they thought my homeschool sounded like fun.  And while that’s very gratifying I have to say that I run into people like me all the time, so I’m not really all that special.

See, when I finally stop watching youtube videos with the boys and hand them a worksheet to fill in, I need to stay in the room with them or they get wild.  Sort of like in my 6th grade social studies class with Miss Davenport.  She left us alone in the classroom while she went to make copies on the ditto machine.  While she was gone all of us, the entire 6th grade class, turned into feral beasts.  When she came back she could hear our snarls and calls at the other end of the hallway.  She stood in shocked horror at the window to the classroom unable to believe her eyes: we were out of our seats, we were throwing paper, we were dropping books on the floor.  She stormed in and made us write, “We will not be wild animals when our teacher is away,” 200 times for homework.

What was my point?  Oh yeah.  You can’t really leave kids alone when they’re supposed to be doing schoolwork.  So I sit there, babysitting, while they work.  And I get Bored.  Capital B Bored.

So I do what all the other bored homeschooling parents do while their kids are working on independent work. I head to an online homeschooling forum and read what the other homeschoolers are up to.

And there I find people who are much more advanced in this whole “use whatever you can find to stuff knowledge into their heads” game we play. For example, the other day a woman wrote about her children’s love affair with all things bathroom.  Here’s what she wrote:

“Ok. I give up. I am surrounded by boys and girls who just adore poop and farts! I am so sick of it I am pulling out the big guns….. Ready to kill their love of the subject by requiring it as a unit study.
So, are there any unit studies on poop and farts? Any ideas you wish to share?
My first assignment was a cluster diagram on poop. 3 different kinds…. 3 details. Tomorrow they write the paragraphs! You should see their faces! Wait until they get their spelling list!”

I read it and figured that no one would really respond with anything helpful, but to my surprise post after post after post came in with all sorts of suggestions.  There were links to poop cartoons, to an education video about the “poop cycle” (oh my), and countless book recommendations.  When all was said and done there were 52 responses.  She updated the post a few days later to write:

“UPDATE: It worked!! My youngest has not written poop on one of his books in 4 days!!”

I mean, how can I stay away from this, people?  This is homeschool gold!  No matter what your problem is, these people can solve it for you.  If you want to read the whole post and all 52 responses, here’s the link.   The website is free.

But beyond solving any and all possible educational challenges, it’s also entertaining. A woman posted the other day about her son who has social issues.  This was posted in the “Learning Challenges” board, so that means he probably as Aspergers, so the issues are real and the woman is honestly seeking help.  She wanted advice on how to teach her son not to make himself a target for teasing.  Turns out that he likes to chew on things, so he took horse chew to his high school baseball practice the other day to chew on.  No, I don’t know what horse chew is either, but she wrote that the boy’s grandparents have horses and the boy figured he could just snack on the chew.  I’m guessing it’s like a chew toy for horses?  Or some sort of treat for a horse that is chewy?  Don’t know.

And here’s where I’m torn.  On the one hand, you feel sorry for the kid who doesn’t understand social situations.  But on the other hand, oh my goodness, imagine the looks on the other kids’ faces when they see their teammate chomping on horse chew?  That’s a little funny…

Sorta like the story my mother told me the other day about my aunt.  I have a branch of the family that I’ve only met once when I was a child.  Apparently my Aunt Barbara is in her 50s and has been into drugs on and off all her life–marijuana all the way to heroin–and her brain is a bit like “swiss cheese” as my mother says.  The other day, she decided to go on a little road trip with just herself and her chihuahua.  She started from her home in Colorado and drove to Moab, Utah.  Somewhere along the way, she turned on to a lonely dirt road in the middle of a lonely town in the middle of a lonely state.  She stopped the car, and attempted to leave it.  But somehow or other, she fell half in/half out of the car. A rancher found her two days later (alive), but stuck face down in the dirt.  When they lifted her up, they found her little Chihuahua, squashed under her (dead).

Part of me is completely horrified and part of me finds that hilarious.  Maybe if it had been anything other than a chihuahua.  And it didn’t help that my mother was laughing so hard when she told me the story that she could barely get it out.

Back to the bored homeschooling parents:  A post I just read today was about a woman who went to the doctor with a painful zit.  By the time all was said and done, she was hospitalized for her zit and contracted MRSA.  Again, I’m torn.  Poor woman with MRSA.  She said she’s feeling miserable.  And yet…a zit?  Hospitalized for a zit?  Kinda makes me giggle.

Anyway just had to share.  I’m not all that different from lots of other homeschooling families out there.  I surely didn’t know you could find so much educational material about poop, but if there’s a topic to be studied, you know that some family is out there studying it and making models of scat out of playdoh  No, really.  Here’s the link to the Playdoh Scat Animal Poop Lab.  The woman’s high school aged kids did an entire study on it.  Maybe they’ll be hunters when they grow up.  Oh, look!  She even gives advice on field work and how you ought to use the macro setting on your camera to get better pictures of the scat you find.

Homeschoolers are weird.  🙂

Bedbugs (again) and Bow Chicka Wow Wow

Darling Husband was away overnight last night.  I figured I’d tidy up so he’d come home to a clean house.

Ha!  Not gonna happen.  My new camera gear arrived today.  Everything stops when new camera gear arrives.

Darling Husband was in Ohio because his aunt is moving here from a one-room efficiency to a small apartment and he’s helping her.  When he got there, she wasn’t packed yet, which may or may not have been a good things because she has…are you ready?

Bedbugs.

Oh heavens.

You may or may not know that we had bedbugs a few years ago.  It’s been my dread fear that we’d get them again.  Not because it’s creepy to have bugs sucking your very life’s blood while you’re innocently sleeping, nah–I can handle that.  No, the part that leaves me shivering in horror is the fact that they’re so stinkin’ expensive to treat.

Darling Husband asked me to call Ninja Bug Guy.  We were hoping that Ninja Bug Guy (our exterminator who looks and sounds just like this guy) would talk sense into Aunt Shirley.  Darling Husband and I know that pretty much everything just has to be thrown away.  Just toss it all and start from scratch.  It’s easier and cheaper.

She wasn’t convinced even with Ninja Bug Guy calling her on the phone, so Darling Husband and his dad spent hours and hours packing all her stuff into black bags to be inspected for bugs later.  The problem is this: what if little hitchhiking bugs have attached themselves to Darling Husband’s clothes?  No, no, no!

When Darling Husband finally gets home in the wee hours of the morning, he’ll see a sign I put on the front door: “Head to the screened in porch and remove all your clothes.” Since that sounded kinda racy I added to the bottom “bow chicka wow wow.”  Unfortunately, the boys can read and they wanted to know why I wrote bow chicka wow wow on the sign.  No, boys, trust me–you don’t.  You don’t ever want to think of “bow chicka wow wow” and “parents” at the same time.

Here are a few pictures taken with my new camera gear.

We started with Boy11 taking the pictures.  I said, “Direct me–what should I do?” He said, “Pretend I’ve just said something really, really funny.”  So I did, but the boys just stared at me aghast and said, “That was really creepy, mom.”  This is not a keeper:

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And then Darling Husband called.  And then Scott from photo club called.  Like, dudes!  I’m trying to take pictures here!  Stop calling me!  I grabbed my remote control for the camera and still managed to get shots while on the phone. Neither sleet nor snow nor phone calls will stop me from using my new gear.  Scott called to tell me to bring my new gear with me to photo club tomorrow. Well, duh! Of course I’m bringing the new gear to photo club!  Where else can I go for free advice on how to actually use it??

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In between photo sessions, I had to take the kids to Light the Night.  Sure, it’s a great little event in our town where the kids can go and get a ton of candy and play carnival games, but..but..but!  My camera gear was waiting for me!  Ugh!  Why was Light the Night the same night as when my camera gear arrived??

Fortunately they give out lots of candy.  We were all pretty hungry, since I sorta forgot to feed the kids because I was too busy taking pictures of myself with my new gear.  I tossed a puny McDonald’s hamburger at them for dinner on the way to Light the Night, but that only goes so far.

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Things started degenerating about now.  The boys were up waaay past their bedtime and Boy8 ran off with my remote and kept snapping pictures when I wasn’t ready.  Here I am demanding that he hand it over.

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This is the self-portrait that looks most how I think about myself.  I ended up with a bunch of fake-smile pictures, a few pictures that were a little too bow chicka wow wow and a few where I looked downright mean.  But this one is a good representation of how I feel about myself on the inside:

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Why Does Homeschooling Take 17 Hours a Day?

Homeschooling the children takes forever each day. Forever.  Why?  Why does it take forever? (Whine.)

I paid attention to what we did today to try to find out.  The problem was pretty clear about 3 seconds into our school day.

We started with History. The title of the chapter was “Alfred the Great”.  He was a king in Medieval England.  That reminded me of the Paul McCartney song Uncle Alfred.  Only, the song is actually called Uncle Albert.

Oh well.  It’s still catchy so we listened to it.

Why did we listen to a Beatles song?  Because kids are born knowing nothing.  They don’t have much to pin new bits of knowledge to.  If you can make what you’re teaching them memorable, or give them pins to hook that knowledge to, they’ll remember it better.  If the boys hear the Uncle Albert song in the future it’s possible they’ll remember that their mom made them listen to it because they were learning about King Alfred only she messed up the name.  Doesn’t work every time, but every little bit helps.

After listening to Uncle Albert we learned that the Vikings attacked Alfred at Christmastime. I asked who else they know from history who attacked at Christmastime.  Right–George Washington.  That reminded me of a picture I saw the other day.  So we popped online to look at it.  a 1 Eeeewww.  Yes, it’s been altered.  I pulled this from a blog that I follow.  I asked permission to use the picture and promised that I would link it back to him.  So, could the two of you who read my blog, please click on this link so that he can get a couple more hits on his blog?  Thanks.

Back to our history lesson.  The book reads “Alfred was not expecting an invasion.”  Well of course–no one expects a Christmas Invasion!  (Except for Doctor Who fans.)  That reminded me of the Monty Python “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition” skit.  We watched part of it and I made a big deal of comparing it to No One Expects a Christmas Invasion.  Pins, you know.

The book told us that Alfred hid from the Vikings all winter and waited until the crops were planted in the spring before summoning his army.  We considered why that was important.  Logan recalled from history lessons two years ago that whenever anyone tried to invade Russia someone or other always burned all the crops on the way in.  Then, when winter hit and the invading army tried to leave, they starved on the way out.

Which reminded us of this quote from Vizzini in The Princess Bride:

“You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…

We watched it.

We read that Alfred’s remains were never found, but pieces of his coffin were found in 1999.  I searched for pictures of the coffin and stumbled across a brand new article from 2 months ago that they may have just found his bones after all.(!) I read it to the boys and we remembered the recent update on CNN Student News about finding King Richard III’s bones under a parking lot last year.

And finally, forever later, we were done history.  None of the above was planned.

After an uneventful math lesson, each boy read a chapter from the bible.  Boy8’s was about the walls of Jericho.  Which, obviously, reminded us of the Veggie Tale song sung by the French Peas

…which is clearly unabashedly copied from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail bit with the French hurling insults on King Arthur.  We watched both clips and compared them.  We’re going to be studying castles in a week or two, so this was timely.

I read the boys the proverb for the day which ended with:

No matter how much you know

or what plans you make,

you can’t defeat the Lord.

Even if your army has

horses ready for battle,

the Lord will always win.

Which reminded me of those aliens in Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy who tried to invade the Earth, but due to a miscalculation of scale they were swallowed up by a small dog when they arrived.  See the correlation?  Strong army thinks they’ll win, only to find out they’re actually puny.   We watched a clip.

During lunch we watched part of the movie IQ, which is about Albert Einstein’s niece.  We watched it deliberately so that when we study Albert Einstein sometime in the future, they’ll have something to pin that bit of knowledge to.

Earlier in the day, I’d noticed that the blogger who posted the picture of the seasick soldier crossing the Potomac had also posted a picture of Einstein.  Here it is: a 4 (Here’s your last chance to click on the link to see the blog page where I stole this from. Go ahead, click.  I told him you would.)

Fortunately for us, a couple of weeks ago I made them listen to M C Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This when we learned about the French king Charles Martel.  Charles Martel means Charles the Hammer in English.  The boys thought the E=MCHammer was particularly funny.  See about the pins?

And finally, the boys’ writing curriculum teaches that in order to bring a report to a close, at the end you should refer to something from the beginning.  So to bring this to a close: in the movie IQ, Meg Ryan called her uncle, Uncle Albert.  The boys were delighted. “Hey! She called him Uncle Albert!  We just heard that song!”

Haaands across the water (water).  Haaands across the sky.

Cake is Good for Dinner

It seems the older I get, the sadder I get.  I’m in the middle of a self-indulgent ‘feeling sad and blue’ funk right now.  Worrisome problem: it’s been a 3 year long funk and doesn’t seem to be lifting.

I have a sneaky suspicion that getting more than 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night, exercising beyond my half-hearted attempts at dusting, and eating something besides cake for dinner might go far to improving my mood.  There are two other things that help—writing and photography.  So, here’s something written, with pictures.

Speaking of eating cake for dinner, Boy11 has a new hobby—eating cakes.  And not only does he eat them but he likes to bake them.  And, yes, some days we eat the cakes he bakes for dinner.

Actually, I don’t think he really cares about the baking.  It’s all about the frosting.  For every swipe of frosting he puts on the cake there’s a swipe of frosting he puts in his tummy.  You should just hear all the moaning after he decorates a cake, “My tummy huuuurts!”

So when we found out that the Great American Cake Show was just half an hour from our house we had to go.  There were free demonstrations, baking-related activities for kids, a live cake decorating competition, and of course, lots and lots of beautiful cakes.

This woman was at a table with a cake form and frosting and you could walk up to her and ask her anything at all about decorating a cake and she’d teach you how to do it.

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When Boy11 told her that he knows nothing about cake decorating she took him through the very basics.  What we loved about her is that she understands the word “cheap.”  When Darling Husband asked her, “What’s a CHEAP way to practice decorating cakes,” she told him, “Use instant mashed potatoes as your frosting.”

Bingo!  Boy11 hates instant mashed potatoes.  No more tummy aches!  We got a $1.80 cake form so he can practice frosting with mashed potatoes.

At the cake show, you could decorate a cupcake.  Before:

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During.  I fuzzied out his work of art so you can’t see it until it’s done.

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Here’s the after picture.

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You’ll see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Remember these pictures of a cake I decorated?

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Uh…yeah.  You can see why I went into photography.  You can also see why we’re starting Boy11 with the $1.80 cake form and the cheap mashed potatoes.

Here are a bunch of pictures of cakes.  Everything you see in these pictures is edible.  No, I didn’t get pictures of the entire cakes.  The setting was ugly and it did a true disservice to the cakes.  I deliberately got only close-ups so one could get a feel for the beauty of the cakes without the distracting crowds or cinderblock walls behind them.

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This one is for my shoe-loving friends.  Look at the stitching on the bottom–it looks so real!

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Not sure why, but I like this cake (above) best of all.  It’s not the most elaborate, but something about the gorgeous shade of blue with the fall colors and the stained-glass effect is perfection.

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Apparently this “string work” is amazingly difficult to do.  The cake was just covered with it.

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I’m a photographer, this is a flower cake–had to take its picture.  By chance, we happened to sit next to the maker of this cake while we ate lunch and chatted with him.  He was a 10th grader from New York who was at the show to compete in the live cake decorating contest.  Here he is at the beginning of the contest.  He didn’t win, but we wished he had.  He was such a sweetie pie.

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After the cake show, we visited with Tim and Shannon as we do every week.  One undeniable benefit to being friends with them is Shannon’s Cooking Skills.  Oh, drool, the woman can cook.  And she actually likes it!  Very bizarre. I’d heard of such people but haven’t had the opportunity to study one of them up close.  Instead of the deep sighing and eye rolling that usually accompanies cooking in my house, Shannon puts on a happy face and a may even hum merry tunes while she cooks.  I’ll have to listen more carefully next time and report back to you.

Unfortunately, she fed us the most horrible lemon chicken for dinner last night.  It was just terrible.  The lemon went beyond sour and right into bitter.  It was nasty.  I’m such a picky eater that at first I thought I was the only one who didn’t like it.  I usually don’t like most things that people cook and I sit there gagging down the food that everyone else loves, pretending that it’s ok.  I was surprised when everyone else didn’t like it either.  Except Darling Husband.  He loves lemon and had thirds.

So far in the almost-a-year that we’ve known them Tim has served us raw chicken on the grill and Shannon has served us Sour-Bitter Lemon chicken.  But we keep going back.  Why?  Just look:

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Oh yes, this homemade apple pie delivered.  It was pure bliss.

P.S.  In Shannon’s defense, Tim says that in the 20 odd years he’s known her, the Bitter-Sour-Chicken was only the third meal that didn’t turn out divine.

P.P. S.  Amy—I really did very much enjoy the chicken dinner you made for us!  No gagging or pretending to like it.  For those who don’t know, Amy found out that we were eating cake for dinner, said, “Enough is enough!” and made my family a wonderful fried chicken dinner with real mashed potatoes this past Monday.  It was gooood.  I’ll bet that Amy hums when she cooks, too.

Pick a picture for me to submit to a contest

As I write this I am stinky.  Very stinky.  I’m so stinky that even I can smell it, so you know I’m stinky.

It’s October when I should be wearing one of my new sensible long-sleeved button down shirts. But not today.  Nope.  Today it got up to about 230 degrees in the shade.  I should know.  I was outside, sweating, on the shady side of the street for a couple of hours.  I saw a few people venture onto the sunny side of the street, but after the 3rd one spontaneously combusted I figured the risk of death wasn’t worth winning an Olloclip no matter how much I wanted an Olloclip.  Gosh, if only I had an Olloclip my life would be fabulous!

What’s an Olloclip?

I don’t know!

See, a few weeks ago, Kevin posts a message on our Secret Facebook Photo Club Page about a photo walk on the Gettysburg battlefields.  I signed up.  Later, Kevin mentioned something about how the guy leading the walk would send our pictures in to a contest so we could win fabulous prizes.  Like Olloclips. Ok.  Whatever.

It wasn’t until I arrived for the walk this morning that I realize this is a Big Event.  Apparently, this is a World Wide Photo Walk.  Twenty-eight thousand photographers around the world signed up to take pictures on this day to compete for that blasted Olloclip.  People had driven from Pittsburg to be here in Gettysburg.  That’s a 5 hour trip!

Those poor things—it turns out that the Gettysburg battlefields are closed due to the government shutdown.  They drove all this way and couldn’t even get their battlefield shots.  The man leading the walk gathered us all together promptly at 9 a.m., told us we’d have to stay in town, gave us the parameters of the contest, led us outside, and then…everyone split up.

Well, drat.  That’s not what I’d hoped for.  I’d signed up for the photo walk hoping for a nice leisurely stroll with other photographers so we could chit-chat about photography stuff and give each other tips on getting pictures of the things we saw as we walked around.  I didn’t expect us to scatter through the streets of Gettsyburg giving the stink eye to “the competition” and getting in each other’s way with our tripods.

I half-heartedly took a picture of this sign feeling bummed about having to try for a picture of “Gettysburg” that could win a prize, competing against every other photographer In the entire world.

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Just as I was about to take a couple more shots from a slightly different angle, another photographer set up his tripod right under the sign and got in my way.  Eh.  The picture wasn’t worth the effort.  I moved on.

This time I found myself in the greenery in the middle of the traffic circle in Gettysburg.  I’m so tired of taking pictures in that greenery in the middle of the traffic circle in Gettysburg.  Blah.  Been there, done that.   Here’s yet another shot of the Gettysburg hotel from the greenery in the middle of the traffic circle.

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It’s nice enough, but looks like a picture in a hotel brochure.  Blah.

I wandered back to the regular sidewalk and took this picture which is a nice idea—the sign that “Lincoln Slept Here” with the statue of Lincoln in the forefront—but is so achingly boring that I must apologize for making you look at it.

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At that point, I got completely bored with the whole project and gave up the idea of entering the competition.

But I still had 2 hours to kill before lunch so I took a picture of this shiny red dragon just because I liked it.

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This red Chinese dragon hangs on the side of a tattoo shop.  I was still working on getting the picture when the man who works in the shop arrived for the day.  He explained that the dragon had been part of decorations at a local Chinese restaurant that had been gutted and redecorated.  Dang it!  If I’d have known all those decorations were up for grabs I’d have gotten me a red Chinese dragon, too.

The tattoo guy was so much fun that I asked him if I could take his picture.  He said yes.

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I had such a good time taking his picture that I remembered a project I’ve been considering:  taking portraits of strangers, out in public, right there on the spot.

So that’s what I did.

Here’s a picture of a little old guy sitting on a bench.

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I took it with my zoom lens.  But that’s not a portrait, so when I got closer to him, I popped on my 50mm lens and asked him if I could take his picture.  He said, “Abash blot” and posed.

Umm….ok.  I guess abash blot means, “Sure, go ahead.”  So I took the picture.

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You’ll notice that it’s a little out of focus.  Yup.  I’m still working on nailing this manual focus on my 50mm lens.  It’s tricky.

I shook his hand and said, “My name is Jackie.”  He said, “Glup mambum.”  I said, “Excuse me, what did you say?”  “Lom blat.”

Ok then.  I smiled at him and wandered off.

Later, my friend Scott, who was also on the photo walk and works in Gettysburg said, “I saw you taking a picture of that little old guy.”  Scott clued me in about the little old guy.  The man can be found sitting on that bench or wandering the streets of Gettysburg every single day.  He walks the 5 miles up the road to the outlets from time to time.  Local Gettysburg lore says he has gobs of money, (unconfirmed) but he looks so scruffy that when people leave the local churches they stop and give him handouts.  Scott has tried greeting him in the past, but you never know if you’ll get a “Mephblum” back or if he’ll just turn his head and spit at your feet.

Next, I found this woman who works in one of the local shops.  She was sweeping the leaves outside of the shop.  I asked for her picture.  She agreed and I tried a shot with the sun behind her, but I had trouble getting a nice sharp focus what with me facing into the sunshine.

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So we tried again from a different angle.

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Then I saw this horse.  He was a great subject and stayed perfectly still for me so I could take as a long as I wanted manually focusing.

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Next was this woman in her scarf.  She was absolutely tickled and somewhat befuddled that I wanted to take her picture.  She kept saying, “No one has ever wanted to take my picture before!  Why do you want to take my picture?”  Why wouldn’t I??  The nose ring, the scarf—why not?

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And then this happy lion:

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And this statue.  It sort of looks like it’s looking at the camera:

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At the end of the walk I asked to take a picture of this woman with her funky hair and earring.  She told me that her hair was like this due to a medical procedure she’d had.  I won’t give details of it because then I’d be that creepy person who takes people’s pictures and posts personal medical information online. She was out sight-seeing with her sister.

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Anyhoo, I’m home now, stinky from my sweaty day in the hot shade.  I’ve spent the afternoon playing with my pictures and checking out the prizes for the World Wide Photo Walk which includes the baffling Olloclip.  I’m not sure all that stinky sweat was worth an Olloclip, fabulous as though I’m sure they are.  But at least I had a chance to practice portraits of strangers and I ended up having a lovely lunch with two of the other photographers after the walk was done.  Nice to meet you Wendy and Missy!

And oh!  Almost forgot–which picture should I submit for the contest??