Category Archives: Nikon 1 V1

Giving Thanks to Our War Heroes

The flag panel partially obstructs the Remembrance Tower.

The flag panel partially obstructs the Remembrance Tower.

Ever since last September when I saw that an unusual-looking building had been finished in our nearby Memorial Park, I’ve wanted to check it out.

Yesterday being part of Memorial Day weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to drive over with the Mister and finally view the Sugar Land Veterans Memorial.

The Mister is dwarfed by the Remembrance Tower.

The Mister is dwarfed by the Remembrance Tower.

There’s a much-bigger, better-known Memorial Park in Houston, but that doesn’t make our smaller version any less meaningful. Especially now that there’s a true memorial along the mile-long, crushed-granite path that surrounds a manmade lake.

The Army insignia

The Army symbol

The memorial is guarded by a concrete flag panel, which serves as a gateway to the 50-foot, pentagonal tower. Each wall features a branch of the military, with its insignia in the nearby sidewalk.

While the outside of the tower looks impressive, it’s what’s inside that truly matters. The entrance is on the lakeside, away from the potential hustle and bustle of the walking path. I was equally jarred by the imposing quiet and the names etched into four of the five panels (none from the U.S. Coast Guard), those from our small community who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.

#7832-(marine-names)U.S. Marine Corps

#2397-(army-names)U.S. Army

#2399-(navy-names)U.S. Navy

#2400-(air-force-names)U.S. Air Force

I silently prayed for these brave men and their families, as I hoped that our Veterans Memorial never fills up with names.

Every time I pass by the stark flag and building, I’ll always remember that freedom is not free.

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One-Word Wednesday

The boys and the Mister gave me lovely plants and a Chipotle gift card for Mother’s Day.

The boys and the Mister gave me lovely plants and a Chipotle gift card for Mother’s Day.

Mom!

Love my guys!

We saw “The Amazing Spiderman 2” and ate lunch at BJ’s. Love my guys!

Living Large

Big Sam up ahead!

Big Sam up ahead!

When we drive to visit our beloved baby boy at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, one landmark along Hwy. 45 lets us know that we’re almost there: The big, white statue of Sam Houston.

Every time we pass Big Sam, I say to the Mister, “That’s on my Sam Houston bucket list. I want to see the statue up close and personal.”

Our final chance to check out Texas’ former president (chiseled concrete version, of course) was last Saturday when we made our last trip of C.J.’s freshman year to pick up most of his assorted knickknacks, paddy whacks, and gaming systems and haul them home. C.J. will follow with the rest of his stuff, which should easily fit in his Ford Fusion, when he’s done with finals Wednesday.

It’s a tiny visitor center.

It’s a tiny visitor center.

Once we were back on the road after lunch at the Farmhouse Café and warm goodbye hugs, it was obvious that the Mister either was up to something or missed the turn to get on the interstate (both of which are equally likely).

Happily, he had listened to me (it does happen on occasion) and was headed for Big Sam!

Sam gets a-head. This could be for photo ops.

Sam gets a-head. This is on the ground for photo ops.

It seems ironic that the visitor center, gift shop, and grounds are so small, given that Super Sam is 67 feet tall (plus another 10 feet for the base). But the statue is bound to dwarf most large parks.

We snuck up on Sam from behind.

We snuck up on Sam from behind.

David Adickes sculpted and donated the mammoth monument in October of 1994. It took about two years to complete.

Look up!

Look up!

The dapper giant really is breathtaking, especially on a cloudless day. You can’t help but be impressed by its magnitude and Adickes’ skill.

Lots of helpful info

Lots of helpful info

It’s also nice that there’s a handy plaque listing Sam Houston’s many accomplishments for those of us who haven’t taken Texas history at least twice (fourth and seventh grades for our sons, as well as in college).

I’m glad I was able to cross another item off my Sam Houston bucket list. More importantly?

The Mister was a tad grumpy having to look into the sun.

The Mister was a tad grumpy having to look into the sun.

The Mister and I snapped a selfie with Big Sam! Smile, Sammy!!

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!

Accidental Special Effects

The disc golf course is on Little Egypt Road.

The disc golf course and park are on Little Egypt Road.

Last Saturday the Mister and I drove to Huntsville to visit our baby boy. We wanted to see the new apartment that he, RJ, and two other pals plan to move into this fall (a pause, please, when we consider four boys living together and the subsequent chaos and mess, plenty of which will come from our own cutie), as well as sign the necessary paperwork.

Because it was such a nice day (spring has finally sprung in south Texas!), the guys naturally wanted to play disc golf. C.J. specifically was interested in trying out a course called Little Egypt in Conroe, which is close to Huntsville. So off we went!

Woods, woods, and more woods

The woods proved challenging.

There was only enough daylight to complete 13 of the 18 holes, but the guys got a good taste of the layout. Which was not yummy at all! Trees as far as you could see impeded plenty of drives and upshots, adding to the frustration of rusty putting.

I had opted to bring my lightweight Nikon V1 to document the event. Fortunately, being able to up the ISO to 800 and 1600 meant that I could snap decent, in-focus pics as day turned to dusk.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

The disc looks stretchy on C.J.’s putt.

Well, except for the disc. When shooting under low-light conditions, which leaves you with a slooow shutter speed (these were mostly around 1/50th of a second), you’ve got to pick your poison: Either the person will be in focus or the disc.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

The Mister lasers in a putt.

Naturally, I prefer crisp-looking people. But I was intrigued when I checked out my photos in Photoshop: The out-of-focus discs looked so elongated! Almost like spaceships.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

That really IS a disc heading from C.J. to the basket.

These formerly round, odd-looking aliens added a new dimension to my disc golf photos. I guess that just like with life, disc golf can be a blur!

One-Word Wednesday

A grumpy squirrel on our roof refused to back down.

A grumpy squirrel on our roof refused to back down.

Stare!