Monthly Archives: March 2014

A High-Flying Good Time

I posed with Rob and his special disc.

Posing with Rob and his special disc last Saturday.

Last year I blogged about having a photo in the “Guinness Book of World Records,” my mini claim to fame.

Know where the pic also is?

Very cool!

Very cool!

On this disc! Rob McLeod, Davy Whippet’s talented thrower, had the frisbee made to commemorate the world record (check out Davy’s “pawtograph!”). Last Saturday Rob e-mailed me that he would be in nearby Pearland that day and the next competing in a Quadruped, which features long-distance throw-and-catch events (there also were timed contests and freestyle). He wanted to get together so he could give me this gift.

I was so honored!

Naturally, I toted along my Nikon D610 and Nikon 70-200mm lens in anticipation of some good action photo ops.

Open wide!

Open wide!

There were plenty!

Bones, Rob’s other pup, lays out for the catch.

Bones, Rob’s other pup, is on his way back to the ground.

As with all good sports shots, the key is timing. However, there were several unknowns to consider:

Got it!

Got it!

Where are the disc and the dog going? Will the throw be good? Will the catch be made?

Got a bead on the disc

The disc is within reach.

All of which made it hard to keep the canine and frisbee in focus. What a challenge!

Caught!

Caught!

Fortunately, I had enough keepers to make it a worthwhile, fun shooting experience.

Davy makes the catch look easy.

Davy makes the catch look easy.

Plus I got to see Davy again. He’s an amazing athlete—so fast and so good at catching the disc. It helps that he and Rob are really in sync.

I’ll always remember this high-flying team whenever I look at my frisbee. Thanks again, Rob!

As the Sun Sets

Birds add to the sunset.

Birds add to the sunset.

Disc golfers love when their discs go into the basket.

The light is fading.

The light is fading.

Photographers love when nature complements the sport they’re shooting. Well, at least I do.

Par?

Par?

The addition of a disc flying into a basket? Icing on the proverbial cake!

One-Word Wednesday

We posed for an official photo at Universal Studios during spring break.

We posed for an official photo during spring break at Universal Studios.

Family!

Buzzing Around the Bluebonnets

They’re baaack!

They’re baaack!

As I’ve written many times in this blog, getting up close and personal with my beloved bluebonnets has a distinct downside: Bees love ’em, too. That means that my sting-phobic self battles its nerves to stay as steady as possible while snapping away with my Nikon dSLRs.

Good thing my Nikon 105mm macro lens has a VR (Vibration Reduction) setting!

Checking it out.

Checking it out.

Of course, I’m a fan of bees, because without them we wouldn’t have certain fruits and veggies.

And this one, too.

And this one, too.

But I prefer to shoot solo, thank you very much. I don’t like the little buzzers infringing on my space.

See ya!

See ya! Wouldn’t want to bee ya!

And, apparently, they feel the same way about me!

Spring Has Sprung!

Love seeing all this orange!

Love seeing all this orange!

According to the official calendar, spring arrived yesterday. It was ushered in by our neighboring master-planned community with a gorgeous Indian paintbrush show.

There are three distinct kinds of paintbrush growing.

There are three distinct kinds of paintbrush growing.

I first noticed the splash of orange earlier this week as I drove past an area where a small crop of paintbrush bloomed last year. Now it’s definitely large and in charge!

These look reddish.

These look almost reddish.

As much as I enjoy seeing them, I wish they were sprinkled among the bluebonnets that are in another area of the community. Having orange and blue together reminds of my beloved alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Hail to the orange (Indian paintbrush), hail to the blue(bonnets)! And, especially, hail to spring!!

One-Word Wednesday

The guys played disc golf at Bill Frederick Park in Orlando.

The guys played disc golf at Bill Frederick Park in Orlando during our recent vacation.

Discin’!

Our pal Eric recommended it. It was nice with a lot of trees.

Our pal Eric recommended it. It was nice with a lot of trees, as well as some sand.

C.J. lasers in a putt.

Plus it was a nice change of pace from the theme park.

 

The Astros’ Good Luck Charm

It’s been a long time since the Astros have been successful.

It’s been a long time since the Astros have been successful.

When I was a kid growing up on the north side of Chicago, I was a huge Cubs fan. My kid brother and I loved watching our beloved Cubbies play on WGN-TV and, occasionally, in person (my mom actually would take the four of us kids on the train to Wrigley Field on Ladies’ Days).

Back then one of my fondest dreams was to see a Cubs spring training game. I could just imagine traveling to Mesa, Arizona, to watch Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and the rest of my blue-clad heroes. Maybe I’d even be able to work up the courage to score an autograph or two!

The starting lineups

The starting lineups

Fast forward to a week ago Sunday. My spring training game dream finally came true! However, this time it was in the Grapefruit League instead of its Cactus counterpart, as our family watched our Houston Astros play the Toronto Blue Jays at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, which is near Orlando.

When we were making plans for Jake’s last spring break, I pitched the idea of going to Universal Studios Orlando for a couple days. Then I threw in what I knew would be a home run: Watching our first spring training game. All four of us love baseball, so all of us were excited.

Too close for comfort?

Too close for comfort?

At the Mister’s suggestion, I bought a fresh baseball in case the guys wanted to get autographs. What a great idea! Our seats were one row from the field next to the Astros’ dugout, which gave us a great, albeit potentially scary view.

The pen confuses Jonathan Singleton.

The pen confuses Jonathan Singleton.

All of the players walked past us, with some of them stopping to sign. At first, C.J., who had the ball and the pen, seemed a little shy. But with prodding from his mom who didn’t want him to have any regrets, he stood up and handed the tricky SHSU pen and ball to Jon Singleton, our hopefully great first base prospect.

C.J. holds the ball with his first autograph.

C.J. holds the ball with his first autograph.

After that, it was easier for him to ask. Plus our hometown heroes seemed glad that we cared.

Carlos Corporan, our catcher, gives the ball back.

Carlos Corporan, our catcher, gives the ball and pen back.

Up until that point, C.J. had told me he was sick of me snapping photos of him. But, suddenly, having his own personal photographer (I was wielding my small but mighty Nikon V1) was advantageous.

Thank you, Jarred Cosart!

Thank you, Jarred Cosart!

What a great memory for my boys! I must admit I felt a pang of jealousy wishing that had been me back in the 1960s.

Rudy Owens, who was the starting pitcher, will start the season in the minors.

Rudy Owens, who was the starting pitcher, will begin the season in the minors.

When the game finally started, we couldn’t help but notice that even though this was the Astros’ home park, we were surrounded by Blue Jays fans. We had seen cars in the parking lot with Ontario license plates, so it looks like Canadians also like to travel to Florida to watch baseball. They cheered loud and long for their favorite team.

The Astros’ mascot Orbit was large and in charge.

The Astros’ mascot Orbit was large and in charge.

Some aspects of the game reminded us of the Sugar Land Skeeters, our town’s Atlantic League team. There were condiment and tricycle races, as well as Orbit the mascot mixing things up with the fans. You can’t beat fun at the ballpark, spring or summer!

One thing that was odd, though, was what happened during the game. After watching the Blue Jays plate two runs, the four of us visited the team shop. When we got back to our seats, we were surprised to see the score was 2-2. At no time did we hear the crowd yelling about a two-run Astros’ homer. Weird.

After the Jays went up 3-2, we made our usual early exit in the bottom of the eighth to beat the traffic and head to Orlando and the Hard Rock Hotel. So imagine how shocked we were when we found out that the good guys actually won 4-3! We spent all that time at the game without seeing the Astros score a run. Talk about your reverse good luck charms!

Our family selfie

Our family selfie (the sun was so bright!)

Don’t be surprised if the Astros pay us to stay away from the games this season!

Then and Now Screaming

The boys’ hair is windswept as they ride the Incredible Hulk roller coaster.

The boys’ hair is windswept as they ride the Incredible Hulk roller coaster.

As I perused a Universal Studios Orlando guidebook in advance of our recent spring break vacation, my stomach started feeling queasy. Just the descriptions of the rides, which I figured my sons would love, made me stop and ponder the wisdom of trying to enjoy myself in a theme park.

It made me think back to when I was eight or nine years old, riding the venerable Tilt-A-Whirl for the first . . . and last . . . time. I screamed so loudly at those first couple whirls that the operator stopped the ride and escorted me off. It was extremely clear to all—especially everyone else I traumatized—that going around in circles was not my cup of tea (as well as heights and sudden accelerations).

Since then I’ve been understandably wary of amusement parks. But when you have two boys who got their father’s love-those-thrills gene instead of my totally-chicken one, it’s important to take one for the team every now and then.

Totally embarrassing!

So embarrassing! Poor Jake had to sit next to me.

I present for your humble consideration Exhibit A above. This was the Test Track ride at Disney World, our 2003 spring break vacation. I wanted to put my (obviously bogus) bravery literally to the test (track), agreeing to go on the ride one time. As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed it (ha ha!) and never rode it again (but the boys did, going on it six more times).

So why in the world did I think I could actually go on a ride at Universal? Because I foolishly figured that the one I chose, Men In Black: Alien Attack, was like the innocuous Buzz Lightyear arcade ride at Disney World. I loved that one! I went on it multiple times with nary a whimper.

Know what? It wasn’t the same at all.

I appear ready for action . . . but looks are deceiving.

I appear ready for action . . . but looks are deceiving.

The guidebook said that there were several spins during the ride. However, it did not describe them in their more accurate term: Death whirls! Oh, my goodness! The devil must have designed this torture trap.

As my head went one way and my stomach the other, I remembered something that C.J. had told me. He said that when he started screaming during the ups and downs, roller coasters weren’t as scary. So guess what I did. Yep, I screamed through every revolting revolution.

I definitely felt better. However, certain other occupants of the car were mortified! But just for awhile. Since then they’ve teased me about my bellowing bout many, many times.

At least it made for a great story for them to tell . . . probably forever!

One-Word Wednesday

These first bluebonnets have company now!

These first bluebonnets have company now. Lots of bud-dies!

More!

As one matures, another one blooms.

As one matures, another one blooms.

Soon all of them will be this gorgeous blue-purple.

Soon all of them will be this gorgeous shade of blue-purple.

In another week, these bluebonnets will be pretty big.

Love Texas’ state flower, little and big!

20 Fun Facts About Me

We loved collecting S&H Green Stamps.

We loved collecting S&H Green Stamps.

Here’s a list of some things that you may not know about me (which you’re just dying to know, right?):

1) I learned to play the piano when I was seven or eight years old (my oldest sister and I took lessons). I taught myself to play guitar (my first one was “bought” with S&H Green Stamps; anyone remember those?) when I was about 12 or 13 years old. As an adult, I learned to play the banjo and the flute (because they seemed cool). Now I’m learning to play the ukulele.

2) My favorite day is every other Friday, the day after our cleaning crew comes.

3) My second-favorite day is the other Friday.

4) I’m obsessed with the Appalachian Trail. I’ve read numerous books about it. One day I’d like to see a part of it, but that’s all. Too much nature scares me.

5) I had LASIK in 1996. Before that I had worn glasses and/or contacts since the third grade. Now I wear (separate) ones for reading and night driving.

6) I love to chew bubble gum when I’m at my iMac . . . but never in public (I’m way too loud). My goal for 2014 was to quit chewing gum. That lasted, oh, about two days.

7) I still consider myself a midwesterner, even after 30 years of living in Texas. But I do love my adopted state.

8) I still love Barney, Thomas, the Power Rangers, Pokémon, and Yugioh. And I always will! I proudly sleep on a Power Rangers pillowcase and with a Pokémon blanket.

9) I don’t smoke, drink, or take illegal drugs. Those are definitely not my style.

Love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!

10) My favorite musical group of all time is the Beatles. “Eight Days of Week” is my all-time favorite song of theirs.

11) I hate tea, both hot and iced. Yuck! I tried coffee once when I was 10 years old. I didn’t like it and have never had it again. I prefer cold water and an occasional Diet Coke (caffeine-free is best).

12) If I had been younger when I got married (I was 36), I would’ve liked to have had one or two more boys.

13) Yep, I’m definitely a boy mom. And I was meant to be a mom. Nothing I’ve done in life has made me happier or more fulfilled.

14) My favorite songs to sing to my boys when they were young were “I Will” and “Over the Rainbow.”

15) I can’t work (Photoshop, write, surf the net) while listening to music. Like most women, I can multitask well, though. Just not at the iMac.

16) I’m directionally challenged. Seven out of 10 times I’ll turn the wrong way. I would always just do the opposite except for those pesky three times.

I designed the logo.

I designed the logo, cover, and entire magazine.

17) I’ve been running since 1978, always slowly (I’m an eternal back-of-the-packer). I’ve completed about 400 races, most of them while I was publishing a monthly running magazine called “Human-Powered Sports” for four or five years. I did everything on it from writing to editing to photography to desktop publishing. What separated it from its competition were race reviews, which sometimes didn’t sit well with potential advertisers and race directors. Talk about biting the hand that feeds! It was, though, a great use of my University of Illinois journalism degree.

18) I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about 16 years old. I have books filled with poems and short stories from my high school days. My biggest work back then? A parody of “The Canterbury Tales” featuring other classmates. Weird? Yep! And, yes, I still have it in my personal archives.

19) I actually was paid to write about beanie babies during the height of the craze. It helped pay for the ones we collected (that was so much fun!).

20) The reason I got interested in photography is because it was my dad’s hobby, and I wanted to be just like him. I usually think about him every time I pick up one of my Nikon dSLRs (he loved Nikons, too). Miss you, Dad!