Chocolates Galore and Scary Photographers

Do you remember that scene in The Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya is trying to convince Miracle Max to do a miracle for him and Miracle Max only agrees to do the miracle if it’ll humiliate Prince Humperdink?  Inigo assures Miracle Max that there will be “humiliations galore.”  Here it is–all 2 seconds of it.

When I survey the wonderful bounty in my house I can hear Inigo’s voice saying, “Chocolates galore.”

Chocolates galore.  That’s what I’m faced with.  Chocolates galore.  Hang on while I go eat one.

I’m back.  See, I was asked to set up a photobooth for a Valentine’s banquet at church.  We needed Valentine’s Day props.  So I bought three little boxes of chocolates that people could use as props.  I didn’t want people accidentally opening the boxes and all the chocolates rolling around and people stepping on them and the chocolates being wasted.  I’m not like those stereotypical Americans that you hear about. I’m all about not wasting things, so I kept those chocolates by golly, and I’m proud to say so.  I’m doing my part to make the world a greener place.  Someone has to eat the chocolates–why not me?  When you add those three little boxes to the big box Darling Husband got for me there most certainly are chocolates galore.

My friend Jo-Ann’s cousin was skinny and in dire dread of gaining weight. She kept careful eye on every bite she took.  One year someone bought her a box of chocolates for Christmas and those chocolates proved to be more than she could withstand.  She called Jo-Ann on Dec 26th and broke the news. “You know that box of chocolates I got yesterday for Christmas?  Well, it’s empty.  I ate them all.”  Jo-Ann was properly scandalized, “Oh my goodness!,” until she asked, “Exactly how many did you eat??!!”  The breathless reply, “Four!”

I’m pretty sure there was a lot of eye rolling on Jo-Ann’s part and she hung up the phone in disgust.

I am not like Jo-Ann’s cousin.  I have many more than four chocolates in my house.  I have chocolates galore.

Every year at the Valentine’s banquet someone volunteers to take pictures of each couple and they print them out and everyone has a picture of themselves dressed up.  I never liked that part when I attended the banquets.  You had to stand in front of a Scary Photographer who made you smile, and you knew the smile was just ghastly and you knew the picture would be horrible and, oh, it was just All Too Much. And I was right. I always looked like I was dying in those pictures.

Well, now I realize that the Scary Photographers taking the pictures were people who have since become my friends and they’re actually quite nice and not scary at all (well, most aren’t), but I didn’t know that then.  And no one else knows it now.  They don’t know me.  I have become The Scary Photographer!

So this year when I was approached and asked if I’d set up a photobooth where people use the remote to take their own picture without a Scary Photographer looming it seemed like a good idea to me.  There would be props to hide behind for the very shy and if you didn’t like the picture you were free to try again.

Darling Husband couldn’t make it to the dinner, so I thought it might be fun to take a picture of an invisible Darling Husband.  But it didn’t turn out quite as clever as I liked and since I didn’t want to look like a total loser who has no friends to take a picture with I decided to take a picture with myself.

So I took this picture from earlier in the day when I was setting up the booth:


And tried to combine it with this picture from the night of the banquet…


But they overlapped.

too merged-small

So I flipped this picture….


And combined it with this picture…


And made the colors slightly richer and was done:


Speaking of colors, look at my hair.  I’m the same person with the same hair, so why the different colors?  They’re not really different.  Cover the bottom half and look only at the hair on the top of my head.  It’s brown.  That reddish color growing out at the bottom?  Yeah, that’s from Wendy’s costume party where I dyed my hair red for my costume.  It was supposed to wash out in 28 shampooings.

The party was in October of 2013.

I swear to you, I swear (!) that I have washed my hair more than 28 times since 2013.  Honest!

Stupid hair dye.

Free Pictures for All! No, make that: Free Pictures for Ada

Note to self:  do not go two three oh, fine four months without exercising and then hop on the treadmill and run for half an hour.  Then do not congratulate yourself on how good of shape you stayed in because you could run for half an hour without too much effort.  Then most certainly do not lie around on the couch the day after exercising playing games on the ipad for two hours.  Because if you haven’t exercised in two three four months and then lie around the next day…you can’t get up.  No, seriously.  Boy8 had to pull me up off the couch and roll me into the kitchen so I could reach the fortifying taco salad and leftover chocolate bolacha.

Oh, sorry Halls—yes, there was leftover chocolate bolacha after we left your house last night, but we didn’t leave any for you.  It was totally Darling Husband’s fault.  I asked him on the way home, “Did you leave any Bolacha for the Halls?”  He said, in a puzzled tone, “No…?”  Obviously the thought that he would willingly hand over the bolacha never even crossed his mind.

Ok—enough of my exercising and chocolate woes:

Remember my new camera lens?  I posted on Facebook warning my friends that I’d be trolling for subjects to practice on.

Ada wrote back that her daughter was attending an 8th grade dance and I could practice taking pictures of her daughter.  I thought, “No way!  She just wants free pictures!”

(Ada is on the right in orange)


And then I re-thought…well, duh, I kinda offered free pictures.  Of course she wants free pictures.  If I was offered free pictures, I would take the free pictures.

I started writing back to clear up the misunderstanding and renege on the offer.  But then I dimly realized that this is exactly the sort of practice that I need.

See, I took those lovely prom pictures three weeks ago but it wasn’t easy for me.  There were two couples which adds up to, let’s see…. 75 people.   And 82 of them were taller than me.  Well, maybe Tori wasn’t really taller.  Maybe it was just those heels she wore:


Anyway, people taller than me are intimidating and I had no clue how to pose 75 taller-than-me people.  Think if over, if you were taking nice portraits of 75 people, would you have any clue how to have them stand?  Where to look? What to do with their hands?  Really? Would you know how to direct them if they just stood at you slumped over Expecting The Photographer To Know What She’s Doing?  No you wouldn’t, admit it.  And neither did I.

To prepare, I looked up a bazillion prom pictures on Pinterest for ideas and practiced on my mother.  My mother hates having her picture taken, but she was a good sport.

Here she is pretending to pin on a boutonniere.  Don’t let her unhappy look fool you.  That’s her, “I know I look silly and I’m going to go with it and deadpan that I’m not happy about it” look.  This is a favorite look of hers.


Walking through the grass:


Pretending to have a tall date.


But practicing with my mother isn’t the same as actually taking the Official Pictures For Paying Customers.  (Yes, they paid me—gulp, even more pressure.)

I managed to get a number of very nice prom pictures but I also didn’t get a number of very nice prom pictures.  What I mean is that I took a number of pictures that were completely messed up.

My biggest mistake was letting it rain on my outdoor photoshoot.  I’m going to have to have a serious talk with the weather.  This is getting out of hand.  In the above picture of my mother with her tall date, you can see that I had an indoor location lined up.  About half an hour before the shoot, I checked the weather and it promised sunny skies for the rest of the day, so I told them to lock up the church–I wouldn’t need it after all.

Three minutes–I swear three minutes–after all 97 couples arrived, it started to rain.  I am not kidding.  And the church was locked.  ARGH!

The second biggest mistake was forgetting to turn off the flash when the sun finally came out.  White tuxedos, sunshine, and a flash.  Yup—just a big white blob in the middle of the picture.  (No, I didn’t remember to check the histogram, for you photography types out there.)

The third biggest mistake was letting all those tall people intimidate me so that I ended up forgetting a number of fun poses I’d meant to use with them.  Ugh.  I even wrote them down, but in the end said, “Well we’re done…” wondering why I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind.

And that is why I need practice.   It’s one thing to take pictures of my friends on the fly just because.  It’s a whole ‘nother thing to take pictures of people dressed up for an event who Have Expectations.  You can’t control the weather, but you can remember to check your histogram and don’t get too flustered to check your notes.

So, instead of turning Ada down, I told her I’d take her daughter’s pictures.  I also warned her that it’s possible none of them would turn out, so she’d better have a backup camera ready just in case.

I’m pretty sure it’ll go well because I’m at least 2 inches taller than Ada’s daughter.


Here are the final versions of the pictures my mother helped me with:

Boutonniere (standing under a pavillion):


Walking across the grass (between rain showers):


Tall date (under the pavilion):


And this one just because she’s so pretty:


P.S.  Don’t be asking me for free pictures.  Special offer for Ada only.  First come, only served.

Gooey Candy, Wild Rumors and Thin Thighs

HOW could I have forgotten??

Totally forgot to take a picture of the day today.  I spent 4 hours with Melissa learning all sorts of tricks in Photoshop Elements and meant to take pictures at her house and forgot.  So, today, for the picture of the day, you’re stuck with a dramatization of me getting home and realizing I forgot to take pictures at her house.


Have to come up with something. But what?

I've got nothin'.

Chocolate. I could write about chocolate...

Instead of telling you all the cool secrets she shared with me today about photography and elements, I’m gonna talk about chocolate since this is the song I’ve had stuck in my head for the past two days. 

It’s the Mary Sue Easter Egg song.  I haven’t heard that commercial since 1985, but I still know all the words.  Here’s a quick article about Mary Sue Easter Eggs.  From what I understand, you can only get the Mary Sue Easter Eggs at Easter, which really isn’t fair.  It’s a contrived scarcity and I’m resentful.

Another thing that you can get only at Easter: Cadbury eggs.  I tried to hoard a bunch of Cadbury Eggs a couple of years ago.  I had a stash of about 30 of them in the refrigerator crisper.  I was hoping to dole them out to myself every couple of weeks until the next Easter.  The chocolate stayed fine, but the insides got crunchy, and the insides are the best part.  I don’t care about the nasty chocolate.  I just want the gooey raw-egg insides.  (Oh, drool!)  I still ate the eggs, of course, but they were a sad shadow of themselves.

I’ve heard a rumor that in England, home of the Cadbury factory, there are vending machines where you can get fresh Cadbury Eggs all year long.  I’m not sure how accurate that information is.  It’s sort of like how the Irish used to think that New York City’s streets were paved with gold…just too good to be true.  Maybe in the dark of winter next year, I’ll rustle up a few grand and take a trip to England, just for the Cadbury Egg vending machines.  It would be totally worth it.  If anyone from England reads this blog, please tell me whether or not y’all are gorging yourselves on Cadbury eggs during the lean winter months.  And how much do they charge for an egg in a vending machine?  Do they have that nasty caramel flavor, or just the lovely fondant ones?  Does only one egg pop out, or a little box with a couple of eggs?

All England has to do is start putting those Cadbury vending machines on other continents, the same way they used to put colonies everywhere, and I’m sure their empire would rise again.  Instead of seeding the world with prickly pilgrims and prisoners, there could be row after row of Cadbury egg vending machines.  That’s where they made their mistakes.  You knew those prickly pilgrims would turn on them.  We all saw it coming.  And the prisoners ended up making lovely lives for themselves, once they figured out which Australian animals were poisonous.  (All of them.)  England could charge everyone a high tax on the Cadbury Eggs and we’d happily pay without a peep.  England would rule the world again.  Rule Britannia!

Speaking of Peeps, I have a love/hate relationship with Peeps.  I don’t like them, until I eat one.  And then I love it, but only while I’m eating it.  As soon as I’m done, I don’t like it anymore.  I prefer the bunnies rather than the chicks, because the bunny ears are better than the chick butts.  There’s more sugar-marshmallow ratio on the bunny ears.

Last year I was afraid to pre-buy all the Easter candy because I knew I’d pre-eat it.  I waited until the grocery shopping day before Easter, but it was too late, and the only things left in the store were some pastel Nerds and M&Ms.  Yuck.  No goey insides in Nerds and M&Ms.  Just boring old sour candy and chocolate.  Blech.  This year, I’ve been buying a bag of candy every time I go to the grocery store, to make sure that we don’t miss out on all the good stuff again this year.

Yesterday, when I was looking for my weekly pick of Easter candy, I finally found all the Mary Sue Easter Eggs.  Yes!  Even though it’s been (um, doing the math, 2012 –  1985 = uh…) a long time, immediately the song came to mind.  So, when I inadvertently gasped aloud and exclaimed, “Mary Sue Easter Eggs!!”  and the boys asked, “What are those?”  I was able to tell them that people were making the switch, ‘cause using real butter makes Mary Sue better and you’re never had it so rich.  (refer to song.)

I bought two boxes.  Vanilla cream (more drool) and coconut.  There were six eggs in a box.  Were.  There are only four eggs in a box now.  These eggs are so not gonna make it to Easter.  I don’t think they’ll make it to Monday.  And Sunday is iffy.

I’ll be glad when Easter is done.  No more temptation until Halloween.  Think about it:  October is Halloween, December is Christmas, February is Valentine’s Day, and April is Easter.  All those pounds of chocolate.   The chocolatiers planned it that way.  They know we’ll be bundled up in our winter clothes so we can hide the extra chocolate pounds we’re all carrying in our fat winter thighs.  If they tried to create a candy holiday in the middle of summer, no one would buy the candy because we have to wear shorts and people would see our fat thighs.

People like thin thighs.  The last time I was in an airport, everyone was standing around waiting for whatever it is that people wait for in airports.  There was a TV playing some news program.  No one was watching it, no one was listening to it.  Until the announcer said, “Coming up next, 5 ways to get Thin Thighs,“ and I am not kidding, every single head within the sound of the announcer’s voice snapped up to see the screen.  Thin thighs!  Oooo!  Maybe they’ll show pictures!  And if not, how do I get me some thin thighs?

Everybody loves thin thighs.  And eating up all the Mary Sue Easter Eggs before Easter is not one of the 5 ways to get them.