Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Day to Remember

A makeshift memorial

Today we remember with gratitude our servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom. We will never forget you!

Buds to Bursts

Hi, Bud!

Meet Bud. He and his family have been sprouting in our front landscaping most of May. In fact, on May 4, one bursting bud was my photo of the day.

It’s crowded in there!

I’ve watched with photographic and gardening interest as the green buds opened up and started to literally spill their guts among our Knock Out roses.

Whatever it is, it’s purple!

Where were these blooms going to go once they left the friendly confines of their green shell? How large would they be and what would be their shape?

Room to grow!

More importantly, what the heck are they?

The plants on one side of the front grow wilder than on the other side.

I finally got my answers by 1) watching Bud change almost every day and 2) via text message from my neighbor Sylvia, who complimented me on our agapanthus. To which I replied, “Are those the big purple flowers?” Yes, they are!

Bud is all growed up!

Of course, I wiki-ed “agapanthus” to get more information. This so-called “lily of the Nile” is native to South Africa. Yet it’s growing well here in southeast Texas! Pretty cool.

Bursts of agapanthus populate our front landscaping.

What I’ve really enjoyed is seeing plant life in our front garden go from green buds to bluish-purple bursts in less than a month. Now I’m wondering how long they’re going to survive!

Water Hijinks

My #2 son’s wet self-portrait, taken in our swimming pool

My #2 son and I got into our backyard swimming pool for the first time this spring last weekend. He carried a big frisbee to play with, while I toted my Olympus Stylus Tough 6000, a sturdy camera that’s not afraid of water. Which comes in handy when you’re in a pool.

The serious underwater side of #2

Both of us had a great time using the Olympus. #2 had several self-absorbed moments when he felt compelled to take his self-portrait underwater (and did a great job!). Then the Mister climbed into the pool, and I took over the point and shoot.

#2 jumps high to snare the frisbee.

As the Mister threw the frisbee high into the air for the leaping #2 , I tried to photographically capture the outcome.

#2 flies through the air with the greatest of ease!

Of course, a point and shoot camera can never stop the action like a digital SLR. But I put the Olympus on its sport setting and worked on my timing, which means snapping the pic well before the action’s peak.

All that triple jump practice comes in handy!

#2 had a blast jumping off the spa and trying to corral the frisbee thrown by his dad before dropping into the pool.

Got air?

And I had just about as much fun capturing all his water hijinks!

Snapping in Disc Golf Putts

My #2 son drops in a putt at last week’s handicap mini.

Boiled down to its essence, disc golf can be a fairly elementary game: Tee off, upshot to get close to the basket if you’re not there already, and putt.

Tom putts uphill.

Easy peasy! Well, except for the wind, trees, water, distance, and grip lock.

Putting in particular is so much ho-hum blah-blah-blah, especially when the disc lands near the basket. Then it’s relatively simple to clang the chains.

Steve grips his disc and assumes the position.

Simple . . . unless you’re Dr. Steve, who’s being goaded by a photographer who couldn’t sink a two-foot putt to save her life.

When Steve’s upshot landed a couple feet from the basket at last week’s handicap mini, he pretended that he was going to snap the disc into the basket like a football center. Then he turned to putt in the traditional, upright manner . . . until I challenged him to hike it in.

The snap putt is in the air!

Good sport that he is, Steve gave it a go. As I wondered how guilty I would feel if he missed what would be a gimme putted normally.

Nothing but metal!

Fortunately, he sunk it!

”It went in?”

Much to his surprise. And much to my relief!!

A Flower to Wear in the Shower?

What could this bizarre-looking flower be?

Hop on Pop! Look at this flower that I photographed at a local park while I was supposedly snapping disc golf pix.

Purple delight

Jessica J. and Kelly R., who spotted it first, said it looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Is this really of our world?

By jove, I think they’re on to something! It kind of looks like the parts got all mixed up and were put together wrong. It’s hard to tell which way is right-side-up!

Perhaps this is Horton’s flower?

What especially strikes me as strange is that I’ve been photographing the wildflowers during disc golf play in this park for several years now. This is the first time I’ve seen this bizarre-looking blossom, which only was growing in one small area. Makes me wonder what might pop up at the park next.

Kind of looks exotic

Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Horton and Whoville itself also are hiding in the brush!

Jack’s Eye Has Closed

Christian Shepherd’s casket is finally back in the United States.

“Lost,” one of my family’s favorite TV shows, ended last night. Well, we think it ended . . . there may still be a commercial or two left for us to watch!

Kate fulfills her promise to get Claire back to Aaron.

The four of us thoroughly enjoyed the finale, but the commercials (except for the “Lost”-themed Target ones) drove us crazy. Why didn’t ABC find one or two sponsors to underwrite the episode so it could be virtually ad free? It almost ruined the experience for us. The networks shouldn’t treat hour-long-plus shows like they’re the Super Bowl.

Hugo/Hurley finally becomes a hero when he decides to stay on the island.

I’m not going to critique, recap, or review the finale. Others (ha ha!) do a better job, particularly Nikki Stafford and her equally brilliant commenters. But I do have some thoughts about the end of a television show that took our emotions and intellect on a ride for six seasons.

Sawyer leaves the island a changed man.

I loved the story-telling device for the main Oceanic 815 survivors in what’s considered the “sideways” (off-island) world remembering their island lives by touching someone or something meaningful. The connections were so powerful! The best one was between Sawyer and Juliet at the vending machine (darn those stuck Apollo bars!), as it brought full circle their final on-island conversation before Juliet died.

The fake Locke barges into Rose and Bernard’s idyllic island world.

I especially liked how “Lost” brought almost all the survivors back. It was great being reminded that Rose and Bernard still lived blissfully on the island with Vincent. We see Shannon and Boone in the sideways (off-island) world. I do wish that Nadia had been Sayid’s connection instead of shallow Shannon; Nadia was his true love. Charlie, Charlotte, Daniel, Eloise Hawking, Pierre Chang, Sun, Jin, Juliet . . . hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

Eloise Hawking was right: The island wasn’t done with Desmond.

Mr. Electromagnetism, aka Desmond, was the key to most of the connections. Was it because he was special? Or was it just one of the many questions that didn’t get answered.

Richard has a gray hair! He finally can age and move on.

The finale can’t be all things to all viewers. “Lost” was an intellectual show from the get-go. Thinking was required. I’m sure everyone has taken something different from every episode over the last six years. But here’s what I believe is the core of “Lost”:

Lapidus survives the sub explosion and flies the Ajira plane off the island.

Oceanic 815 crashed on an island, and there were survivors. Jack said, “What happened happened.” The island is the survivors’ real world. It represented redemption, because all of them were flawed and needed to be fixed before they could come to terms with their lives.

Juliet and Jack “had” son David in the sideways world.

The “sideways” world that was introduced this season that showed Jack with a son, Sawyer and Miles as detectives, and Kate still running from the law? It’s each character’s own purgatory where they reconcile what’s happened in their lives. It wasn’t a real world. Once all the survivors finally died (either on the island, which was protected by Hurley and Ben during their lifetimes, or back in the U.S.), they gathered in the church, connected once again, and all moved on together.

What’s the message after six years? That no one dies alone. That it’s best to love and be loved, to have friends and be a friend, to resolve your father issues and not let them fester. Connections are important in life, so make them positive ones.

Farewell, Jack!

Thanks for the ride, “Lost.” It’s been a blast!

Natural Tendencies

A bird flies through the sky at sunset.

Nature called at Tuesday’s disc golf handicap mini tournament, and I answered.

No, not that kind of nature!

While I was snapping pix of flying discs and intriguing flowers at the park with my Nikon 105mm lens, I was drawn to that part of nature that likes to stay hidden and/or is difficult to photograph.

Young birds just want to be left alone.

Birds in the sky are easier to capture than these young ’uns that hid in a tree not far from their nest.

Flowers attract a swallowtail butterfly.

Butterflies flit from flower to flower, usually too quickly to be photographed clearly.

A small butterfly rests for a bit.

Although sometimes they’ll stay just long enough.

“Leaf me alone!”

As the hour grew late, I saw more and more moths flying in the grass. It almost seemed like the park was their after-hours bar.

Casual conversation in the grass

Sometimes the moths coexisted with bugs.

“What’s hanging?”

But they mostly stuck with their own kind.

Hmmmmm . . . .

As I was shooting away, I watched one moth approach another.

Oh, oh!

They then started to engage in something that made me feel like a voyeur!

Now, I’m no entomologist, so I couldn’t be 100 percent certain. But my first thought was, “Get a room!”

A Reminder of Days Past

Welcome to the neighborhood, Warren!

When you have one son about to graduate high school and another son about to finish ninth grade, it’s nice to stop and think about days past. Specifically, when my #1 son was three years old, and his little brother came along to turn his world upside-down.

To help me reminisce, all I had to do was walk around the block in my subdivision and visit my friend Lori W. She gave birth about a month ago to her second son, Warren. Her older son, Walker, is almost two years old.

Walker loves Mr. Moo.

OMG! These two W boys are some kind of adorable! Walker is a little shy at first, but after awhile he’ll flirt the heartstrings out of you.

Walker loves his mom, too!

I instantly fell in love with Walker’s cute giggle. It reminded me of all those days I spent laughing with my first baby boy. Well, until he got a tad grumpy when another heir to the throne came along.

And Walker loves his baby brother!

Walker likes to “hold” Warren. Sooooo sweet!

Such a big boy!

Is it love . . . or is it a chokehold?

Peek-a-boo?

I think that Warren, like my #2 son, will be getting used to some rough handling from his older brother. It’s probably why #2 kids are so tough . . . they have to be to endure the tough love their older sibling inflicts on them!

As I was holding Warren and trying to take photos of Walker with one hand (very hard to do with a heavy digital SLR, by the way), my eyes started to mist. I remember so many days like this when I would be playing with #1 while holding his baby brother. There was no eye rolling, no back talk, no cries of “Moooooom! Make him stop!!” Such a blissful time of two young sons, Thomas the tank engine, trucks to roll back and forth, zoo visits, Cheerio snacks, and Sesame Street.

Then I blinked . . . and now I’ll have a high school graduate in a mere two weeks.

Would it be fun to travel back through time and do it all over again?

Poor Warren!

Probably not!

Garage Videos

My #2 son checks the camcorder.

Remember those old backyard musical movies that starred Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney? They were about a group of kids who put on shows in hopes of getting to Broadway.

Never work with kids or stuffed animals?

Welcome to 2010 and the era of the garage show!

Recently, my #2 son decided he wanted to write, direct, produce, and act in a video starring his huge stuffed friend Jeffrey (who looks like a bear but really is a gopher groundhog; his fifth-grade teacher gave it to him, and he loves it). #2 has been directly influenced by his older brother and Chase, my “third son,” who have their own video production company, Stickless StickShift.

#2 contemplates a scene.

Of course, #2 needed help with this endeavor, as well as a location. He enlisted his older brother as an actor and yours truly to work the camcorder.

My #1 son seems to be enjoying his acting role.

But where to film these priceless scenes? The garage, of course! We have a three-car garage, with plenty of room for bikes and clutter in the third stall and space to video in the middle.

#2 laments over Jeffrey’s death . . . that HE caused!

I watched my sons interacting like close friends (cue the tears of joy by Mom!) and tried to follow all the silly action, which included #2 “shooting” Jeffrey with his pop gun and then vowing to avenge the big gopher’s groundhog’s death . . . which he had caused. Most of it made absolutely no sense at all; that’s par for the course for #2’s videos. They make me laugh, but I’m never sure if I’m laughing with #2 or at him!

Will this garage show make it to Broadway? We’ll be lucky if it even makes it to YouTube!

Sidebar: I’ve edited this, because I mistakenly called Jeffrey a gopher when he’s actually a groundhog . . . not that he really looks like one!

Knocking It Out of the Rose Park

A new rosebud settles in among its former neighbors.

We’ve gotten so much enjoyment out of the beautiful Knock Out roses in our front yard this spring! They’ve made me smile every time I’ve looked at them. Our neighbors have voiced the same sentiment to us.

Not much to look at here.

Sometimes I’ll look at them, though, and think that they’ve about run their course.

A lot of roses have gone, but some are still hanging in there.

The heat is starting to set in now here in the Houston area. That’s usually not great news for our flowers.

New beauties join their fading friends.

But just when I start to think that all is lost for the roses, they continue to surprise me.

A rose is surrounded by new possibilities.

The landscaping looks sparser, but roses continue to bloom. Not in great quantities like before but in certain spots.

The flower future looks beautiful!

As long as there are rosebuds, I know we’ll keep seeing these gorgeous flowers that make us smile.

A rose blooms before its buds do.

These roses still are a knock out!