Monthly Archives: September 2011

In the Pink

Yet another amazing Texas sunrise makes me smile.

As I walked around a lake in my master-planned community this morning, I stopped in my tracks: The sunrise was so outrageously pink that I had to whip out my iPhone 4 and snap a couple photos.

Love those pink lake reflections!

Tomorrow is the Race for the Cure in Houston, and today is Wear Pink to Work Day. Good to see our sunrise getting into the spirit of the event!

Anatomy of a Touchdown

Taylor’s pass is in the air; the blocking looks great.

Even though our hard-luck high school football team has only won one game so far, our boys have found the end zone more often than in past seasons. Here’s a series of photos (snapped with my Nikon D300 and Nikon 70-200mm lens) of one of those scoring plays from last Saturday’s game:

First, Taylor, our senior quarterback, launches the football towards the invisible receiver, Josh K.

Josh K. catches the football in front of the defender.

The ball settles into Josh’s arms at the three-yard line. Can he score?

Time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

With the defender hanging on to his legs, Josh tries to break the goal-line plane with the ball . . . before his knee hits the ground and he falls forward.

Is there any doubt that Josh has scored?

Sam unofficially signals the touchdown.

None at all.

Now it’s official!

Sean adds on the extra point.

Make that seven points for the good guys!

One-Word Wednesday

I snapped this iPhone 4 photo as a kayaker was disappearing underneath a bridge.


A Wing and a Prayer

This dragonfly is beautiful . . . but flawed.

Here’s a basic rule of thumb when it comes to photography and my beloved dragonflies: When you don’t have your Nikon digital SLR and 105mm macro lens with you, they’ll be posing for you. Mockingly.

Case in point? Yesterday at a nearby park. My younger son wanted to practice some disc golf shots on one of the holes there; it’s the location of tonight’s handicap mini finale. He drove us there in our old Mercury Villager so he could get in more practice before he tests for his license in December and parked near the hole’s tee box. When he put his disc golf bag on the ground, he said, “Look at that!”

The dragonfly rested in between trying to escape.

“That” was a gorgeous dragonfly, which was motionless on the ground. At first, I thought it was dead, but then it started buzzing about. Of course, I had left my good camera equipment at home, because I planned to shoot the action today. Fortunately, I usually carry my Canon S90 point and shoot, so I whipped that out and tried to get as close as I could.

Wonder what happened to its wing?

All too soon, it was apparent what was wrong with the d-fly: Part of its wing was missing. The poor thing could kind of hop around, but it couldn’t get off the ground. I really felt sorry for it, because now it’s a sitting duck to be picked off by a bird.

As we left the park, I bade the dragonfly goodbye, adding a brief prayer that it’s able to stay alive for the rest of its lifecycle. Wonder if it’ll be there tonight? You know I’ll be looking for it . . . with my Nikon D700 and 105mm lens!

Update: When I checked the park last night, the wounded dragonfly wasn’t in the same area. I’m hoping somehow it managed to hop into the nearby woods where it will be protected.

“Moneyball” Strikes Too Close to Home

Brad Pitt stars as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane.

“Moneyball” is a movie that truly spoke to me. Unfortunately.

I’m a lifelong, diehard fan of terrible baseball teams. I grew up on the northside of Chicago loving them dear, old, often-horrible Cubs. “Wait until next season” was as normal a catchphrase in our house as “next year in Jerusalem” at the end of the Passover Seder.

And who can forget my more-recent co-favorite squad, the Houston L’Astros? Sure, they’ve been in a World Series during my lifetime (only to be swept by the hated, hated Chicago White Sox), but this year they’ve lost 104 games . . . and the season ain’t quite over yet (although it was done for them by the all-star break). And those Cubbies aren’t far behind them (70-89 as of today).

Lance Berkman (hated Cardinals) and Hunter Pence (hated Phillies) are soooo glad they got out of town!

So what does all this ranting have to do with “Moneyball,” a movie we saw Saturday? Simple . . . neither the Cubs nor the L’Astros has taken a page out of the 2002 Oakland A’s successful playbook. They might want to give it a try next season.

Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) seems to be an unlikely baseball analyst.

The flick is based on “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis (my older son read the book and said it was excellent). A’s general manager Billy Beane used the unconventional premise, espoused by Yale economics grad Peter Brand, that a competitive team can be built without a lot of money being spent by using undervalued players selected through computer analysis. The A’s were one of the have-nots in the Major League Baseball world, compared to deep-pocketed teams like the New York Yankees, so they needed a different kind of advantage to have a fighting chance.

The tale of the 2002 A’s and their drive for the World Series is interwoven with Beane’s personal story, which is quite compelling.  He was a former top baseball prospect who washed out in the pros. Brad Pitt does a credible turn as Beane (even though I kept shaking my head at the thought that he dumped Jennifer Anniston for Angelina Jolie . . . really, Brad?). Jonah Hill is fine as Brand.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (left) does NOT look like Art Howe!

Former L’Astros player and manager Art Howe probably won’t want to see the film. He’s played as a surly buffoon by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who didn’t even bother to lose weight for the role. Howe always seemed to pride himself on being in shape when he was a manager. The Mister said that he bets Howe will be mad that Hoffman is tubby.

The movie is too long at 133 minutes (my younger son had several Timex checks), but it is entertaining, especially for those of us who love baseball.

Even those of us who are forced to endure a lifetime of bad baseball.

Reuniting . . . and It Feels So Good

The serious look wasn’t attractive for me as a high school senior.

I attended my 40th high school reunion last Saturday night . . . why does that make it sound like I’m ancient? Calling it the fourth anniversary of my 10-year reunion does take the sting out of it, I’ll admit.

I had been to almost all my previous Waukegan High School Class of 1971 get-togethers, so I pretty much knew what to expect. This time we met at a country club in Waukegan, which is north of Chicago. As I was driving my mom’s Honda Civic there, I was wondering who would show up. Maybe someone I hadn’t seen for awhile? Lots of our 800 alums have been missing in action over the years.

Wendy, Sue, and I pose at our reunion. (Photo snapped by Ruth)

Oh, I knew I’d have fun talking and reminiscing with my good friends Wendy (who I dubbed “Wendolph” way back when, because I thought Wendy was too short of a name), Sue, Gloria, and Ruth (my buddy since sixth grade). And I figured I’d be marveling at how Judi and Mary Kay looked like they walked right out of high school . . . they’ve hardly changed a bit!

In fact, for the most part the gals all looked really good, while the guys were showing their age. It was nice to see that most of the women, like me, weren’t dying their hair and were embracing their grayness. Or are they just cheap like me?

One fellow alum I was wishing would show up was Laura S., who I’d met freshman year in homeroom and instantly liked. She hadn’t been to a reunion before, and I really wanted to catch up with what’s been going on in her life since, oh, high school graduation.

Guess who decided to finally make a reunion appearance? Laura! She was one of the first alums I saw when I walked in, and it was great hearing about her life in San Diego. Just like it was wonderful reconnecting with everyone else I talked to, both the women and the men.

When we sat down to talk and remember, the gals and I reminisced about former teachers (especially those who taught P.E.) and favorite classes. Oh, the laughter! But what I thought was neat was how much we all loved raising our kids and how much we miss being so involved with their lives, a universal theme among my pals.

Well, they were the ones missing all the hoopla, because they all have older kids. In fact, Gloria’s oldest grandchild is only two years younger than my #2 son! I was pretty sure that I had the youngest child from a first marriage.

I wish the Internet and Facebook had been around in the early 1970s; it’s so much easier now to stay in touch by being online. But even with those tools, it’s always fun to get together every now and then and enjoy recalling the good, old days with cherished friends.

Gettin’ Beachy

The Glencoe bike trail is beautiful.

One reason I always enjoy staying with my mom in Glencoe is because she lives in a very active area. On any given day, the streets in her suburb north of Chicago are filled with cyclists (all wearing helmets, by the way), while the walkers and runners rule the sidewalks.

Purple prairie grasses add color to the landscape.

And one particular bike path, which runs behind the train tracks across the street from her condo. Last Sunday morning I decided to walk on this trail to a street that would take me to the local beach (and then back again, of course).

My first glimpse of the beach.

With my trusty iPhone 4 along, I was ready to document the experience.

Sailboats rest after a weary summer.

Despite an on-and-off drizzle, it was a delightful day for a long walk. Temperatures in the mid-50s kept me cool as I explored.

The waves wash up on the beach.

Looking at Lake Michigan brought me back to a time when we used to live in Chicago near Evanston.

A pier takes me out onto the lake.

Almost every day during the summer, until we moved to Waukegan when I started sixth grade, the four of us kids plus my mom would spend time at the beach. It was close, it was cheap, and it was so much fun!

I used to wonder who was on the other side of Lake Michigan.

As a kid, nothing was better for me than spending time with my two older sisters and my baby bubba. I carry such fond memories of us at the beach.

The cold water tasted so good!

I didn’t stay and reminisce for too long at Glencoe’s beach, though, because I wanted to continue to walk a couple more miles. Later that day I would be flying back to Houston, the heat and humidity, and my own family with my responsibilities as a mom.

But it was sure was nice to travel back in time and revel in the past . . . if only for a short, cool while.

One-Word Wednesday

A monarch butterfly hangs on a flower in Chicago.


Showing off!

A Walk About Chicago

It’s pumpkin time!

While I was in the Chicago area this past weekend, my mom, her twin sister (Aunt G), and I visited my little brother (the hot-shot lawyer) and his wife in the big city. After brunch, we walked around their neighborhood to get a taste of the coming fall season. The temperature was in the mid-60s, which was just perfect for someone from way-too-hot Houston!

No one is out of their gourd with this selection.

First, we strolled down the street to check out a farmers’ market. There were plenty of fruits and veggies for sale.

This huge sunflower would give my local small guys an inferiority complex.

Some things were kinda unusual, like humongous sunflowers.

Purple power!

But other blossoms sure looked normal and purty.

A backyard yields an unusual-looking sculpture.

Once we’d had our fill of the market, we (along with pups Rootbeer and Scamp) meandered around the Lincoln Park neighborhood and headed into Old Town. When I was in high school in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Old Town was known for its hippies and head shops. I remember going there with some friends and buying “hippie beads.”

St. Michael gets a facelift.

This time, though, my baby bubba wanted to show us beautiful St. Michael Catholic Church, which is undergoing outside restoration in Old Town.

There’s plenty of room for lots of parishioners.

This was truly worth seeing! Even though the church was built in 1852, it’s gorgeous inside and looks well-maintained.

This is one of many stained-glass windows featuring someone not in my own bible.

Of course, our family isn’t one for churches, since we bat for the synagogue team. I’ve only been in those other houses of worship for weddings.

Baby bro, Mom, and Aunt G admire the altar.

But beauty is beauty, no matter whose religion it represents.

Camera+ Clouds

The Camera+ caption says it all.

I always get a window seat when I fly, because I love taking photos of clouds. Last Thursday when I traveled to Chicago to visit my family and attend my high school reunion, I decided to change up my photographic cloud game: This time I used my iPhone 4 and the wonderful photo app, Camera+.

Yep, the wing WAS in the way!

What’s handy about Camera+ is that if you put a border around your photo (and who wouldn’t want to do that?), you can add a caption. That definitely helps you remember details about the picture, which is especially handy for those of us who are getting, shall we say, a tad forgetful as we near age 60.

They're so fluffy (name that movie!)!

I’d say both the iPhone 4 and Camera+ did a great job up in the air. They almost made me forget that I don’t like flying. Unfortunately, I’m not quite that forgetful!