Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Family Traditions

jack o' lanterns

Pumpkin carving went shockingly well yesterday. Of course, neither kid would touch the inside of a pumpkin and wasn't permitted sharp objects, so I had to do the hard labor. My son was reading a book while I worked, while my daughter drew on the newspaper with the Sharpie and demanded I work on her pumpkin only. Every few minutes, she would wander over to the computer to learn the title of the song playing on Pandora's Halloween Party Radio and would close the Internet browser, requiring me to put down the carving tools, wash my hands, and restart the whole process. But no one got angry, not even me. We're making progress.

Family traditions are important, and none get me more excited than holiday traditions; carving pumpkins and decorating the Christmas tree are high on my list of things we should do together to form warm, happy family memories for my kids. These memories likely will omit my husband because he learned years ago that the greater my holiday exuberance, the faster he should retreat to his office because someone is bound to start yelling.

When we first moved to New England, I was ecstatic to discover we had Christmas tree farms nearby. What could be more spectacular than wandering the farm with the whole family, choosing your tree, watching someone cut it down, and then taking it home for decorating? For one, cold;  a tree farm in December in New England can be bitterly cold. Then we learned that my husband and I are complete idiots when it comes to choosing a tree, having absolutely no ability to accurately gauge the size of a tree while it's in the ground. We chose gargantuan trees that tipped over more than once until I learned to tie the tree to the molding with eye hooks and fishing line. I'm nothing if not a problem solver.

fallen Christmas tree

I'll allow you to use your imagination about how harmoniously a married couple can work together to put a tree this size in the stand. (Hint: not well.)

Christmas tree

Even if they look good and stay upright for most of the time, the trees we tend to choose are so large that we can't get them out of the house when Christmas is over without aggressive pruning. Luckily, I received a set of loppers as a gift the year of this tree.

pruned Christmas tree

We finally learned our lesson. Two years ago, we found a garden store five minutes away that will deliver your tree and put it in the stand for you. No more tree farm for this family. It's important to recognize your limitations.

I've similarly learned to lower my expectations and set aside my "just-so" ways when it comes to decorating the tree and and putting up decorations. I know the kids will only remain interested long enough to aggravate me while I try to put on the lights, then they will hang 2-3 ornaments, break something fragile, and move on to more interesting things. I allow them to put the Christmas decorations around the house as they see fit, and only move them to where (I believe) they belong after the kids are asleep.

Historically, carving pumpkins has been that way. The kids and I get very excited, my husband flees, the kids get bored, and I get frustrated. Someone yells. Usually me. This year, we all were more patient. When my son drew an elaborate three-eyed monster with a pig nose and forty tiny pointed teeth, he knew I wasn't going to be able to reproduce it in jack o' lantern form and was quite complimentary of the results.

Maybe we are all getting a little wiser and more patient as we get older. Either way, I hope my children's memories will be as rose-colored as mine are about my childhood, remembering only the effort I made, our time spent together, and the creation of family traditions that didn't involve yelling.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Silhouette

I had the camera in hand to photograph my lovely children jumping in the first leaf pile of the year.  While I did that as well, I was mesmerized by the nearly full moon rising in the evening sky and devoted much of my time to capturing it and the branches of the large oak tree at the foot of our driveway.  In very short order, those branches will be bare and winter will be upon us, so I'd like to enjoy those leaves--on the tree or in a pile--as long as possible.

moon and oak leaf silhouette

Monday, October 29, 2012

Painted Pumpkins

The edge of Hurricane Sandy continues outside, but we still have power and the kids are finally in bed. If your kids are home, you might be looking for some entertainment. Here's a seasonal one for you.

painted pumpkin with tape

We still haven't carved the mega-pumpkins that we picked up yesterday afternoon as Sandy was blowing in. I just haven't had it in me, and the kids are (i) too young to wield a knife and (ii) much to my dismay, too disgusted to scoop out the pumpkin innards. Yet, they desperately wanted to "do pumpkins."

Luckily, we had a couple medium-sized ones sitting on the hearth for decoration. At my daughter's direction (a common scenario here), I taped shapes using electrical tape. I dispensed the paint of her choosing, gave her some brushes, and told her to cover the whole thing in paint.

electrical tape shapes on pumpkin with paint




painted pumpkin with tape shapes


painted pumpkin with tape shapes

The hardest part--for the five-year-old--was waiting for the paint to dry. Once it did, she peeled off the tape and was left with orange shapes in her painted pumpkin masterpiece.

painted pumpkin

Pardon the spooky desk-lamp-lit final reveal. I was so busy with children underfoot today that I didn't get a photo op until after bedtime. I've learned that both will be home from school for one more day, making it the fifth day in a row of "quality time." At least the storm will have passed and we can get out and about.

Hope everyone on the East Coast is weathering the storm well. We have our fingers crossed that the rain will go away before Halloween night.

Anyone else doing any creative pumpkin work?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pride in the Oddest Things

Being a parent presents the oddest challenges. When I was expecting my first child, I knew about the upcoming diaper changes, the feeding, the crying (his and mine), and the sleepless nights. I failed to contemplate the mundane challenges, like rectal thermometers and nail clippers. Seriously, I had no idea how often I'd need to trim another human's fingernails, and I'm still waiting to find out when this ceases to be my responsibility.

I knew that, as my kids grew, I'd be hauling them to extracurricular activities, and I probably had some inkling that I'd be suckered into volunteering my time and baking talent. What I didn't see coming were the odder requests. What I really didn't see coming was my satisfaction and, dare I say, pride in accomplishing these unexpected tasks.

Last week, two of my most shining parenting moments involved a LEGO minifigure and glitter paint, respectively. This is the stuff I did not foresee.

Let's start with the spray paint. My daughter has the title role in next week's ages 3-6 production of Pinocchio. She takes this very seriously. Much time has been spent drilling lines and creating a costume, all for a performance that will stretch ten minutes beginning to end. It can be a little much, but I admire her enthusiasm and desire to get everything "just right," so I try to satisfy her costume demands to the best of my ability (which is not much). A growing nose was a real stumper.

I solicited help online from crafty friends, and I Googled. This research led me to various community theater sites detailing their attempts and failures to create a nose that would grow onstage. Not so useful. While perusing a friend's blog about keeping a bedskirt in place with Velcro, I had a craft epiphany. ("Craft epiphany" was also not a concept or phrase I ever anticipated.) Maybe I could attach a small nose to a mask, then have Pinocchio turn her back and attach a longer nose with Velcro when she lied. One cardboard cat-eye mask from Michaels, a toilet paper tube, a cereal box, and some hot glue, and we were in business. Couldn't be prouder of my creativity. To make Little Miss Fancy even happier, I spray-painted the whole shebang with gold spray paint and glitter spray paint. Pinocchio has some bling. Happy kindergartner, happy mom.

The minifigure project started as an assignment for my photography class. My original plan to photograph in the style of another photographer involved scouting a location, taking the photograph when the sun was in a certain position, and hoping I could do all this during school hours. Wasn't going to happen. So, I regrouped and decided to recreate a famous portrait using Little Miss Fancy in all her girliest dress-up gear--as Winston Churchill. Cracked myself up from the get-go with the idea and was tremendously pleased with the result.

However, my son is our budding artist, and he really wanted to be involved as well (who knew photography class was a family affair?). Enter LEGO Winston Churchill.

Yousuf Karsh's Winston Churchill portrait in LEGO

I handed my son a copy of Yousuf Karsh's famous portrait of Churchill, and he built the minifigure to match. Pretty great, huh?

Winston Churchill by Yousuf Karsh

I built a mini backdrop from an applesauce box, popsicle sticks and electrical tape, then did my best to recreate the lighting and camera angle of the original. My son and I were both tickled with the result.

There you have it. After four years at a private university and three years of graduate school, my headlining accomplishments now involve popsicle sticks and spray paint. I never saw it coming.

What surprising parenting feats have you accomplished lately?


If you're curious why I haven't posted the photo of my daughter as Churchill (which is fantastic, by the way), it is because I have decided not to include my children's names and photos on the blog. As far as I'm concerned, Facebook was designed expressly for sharing photos of my kids, and I do so on my personal account using the available privacy controls. This blog, however, can be viewed by anyone anywhere, and I just don't like the idea of sharing that information.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shaving Cream Marbled Art

shaving cream marbled paper and cookie cutter

Another weekend gone by, another little people project to share with you. Next up--using shaving cream and paint to marble paper.

I really like this one--fun to do with a pretty result. I warn you that this will require some parental involvement, especially with young kids and particularly if you are the type to get strung out about a potential mess. To my great surprise, the resulting mess was minimal and very easy to clean up, but perhaps that's because I insisted on doing the messiest part. Next time, I'll do this with only one child, as the little one has no patience whatsoever and wouldn't slow down enough for me to keep up. But enough with the provisos...

You will need: cheap shaving cream, washable paint, a pan or tray (I used jelly roll pans) and paper. Liberally spray shaving cream into the pan. This super fun step one. Then drizzle washable paint into the shaving cream. Each kid chose one regular paint and one glitter paint.

shaving cream with paint

Use your finger to swirl the paint and shaving cream. It should looked swirled, not fully mixed.

finger full of mixed shaving cream and paint

Press your paper on top of the shaving cream. I'm sure this would work very nicely with a heavy paper, but we used printer paper and all was well.

hands pressing paper into shaving cream mixture

Peel back the paper.

removing paper from shaving cream mixture

This is the parent step in my house: Use a piece of scrap cardboard to scrape off the excess shaving cream. After trial and error, I found it best to scrape right into the trash can because trying to return the shaving cream to the pan was just too damn messy.

Lay out or hang paper to dry. This IKEA wire contraption is one room over from where we were doing the project, so I got my exercise for the day running back and forth and trying to keep up with an impatient kindergartner.

papers hung to dry

Squoosh the shaving cream around just for fun when you're done marbling your paper (super fun part number two).

hands squishing shaving cream

Once the paper was dry, we used cookie cutters as stencils.Trace the cookie cutters, cut, and display.

cookie cutters and marbled paper

tracing cookie cutter as stencil

Thanks to The Imagination Tree for the excellent idea found here.

A side note: Those of you who know me well probably are surprised by the frequent appearance of children's craft projects here. Books, photography, DIY, and snarky comments about parenting are par for the course, but the craft projects aren't "really me." Well, they are very much "really my kids," and I need to amuse myself while they happen. So many projects have such beautiful, colorful things to photograph that it's fun for me to participate in this way. Also, since many of you are in the same boat full of bored little kids, I thought you might enjoy hearing what works for us.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Band-Aid Effect

Parenting requires walking a fine line between creative problem solving and outright chicanery. We tell our children all sorts of white lies to teach them, to make them behave, and sometimes just to please please shut up. There are some huge and happy doozies we all promote in the spirit of childhood (to which we will all nod knowingly without my having to spell it out), and there are the common mindless retorts that you probably picked up from your mother (e.g., "Your eyes will freeze that way.").

Then there are things you come up with on the fly solely to pacify your child and get on with things. The scientific name is placebo effect, but most parents may know it better as The Band-Aid Effect or The Ice Pack Effect, whichever is the go-to boo-boo remedy at your house. I get my panties in a bunch about money wasted on band-aids that will remained adhered only long enough to stop the tears, so we go with the eco-friendly reusable ice pack for all non-blood injuries.

The Band-Aid Effect is not limited to minor injuries. Much of the time, all a child needs is an indication from us that we're paying attention, that we care about whatever is agitating them, whether it is physical discomfort or miniature mental anguish. The parent's solution doesn't need to actually solve a problem, it only needs to be perceived as doing so. Your child is terrified of monsters? Mix up some Anti-Monster Spray in a spray bottle, mist aggressively, and tuck the little guy into bed. Your child has a stuffy nose? Bring an extra pillow to solve the problem and a box of tissues to show how much you care.

At our house, fears have not been a problem. Mystery ailments dominate, particularly the kindergartner's Bedtime Ailments. The symptoms vary--headache, stomachache, sore throat, and pain in the knee seem to predominate--but the onslaught of symptoms is always perfectly timed with lights out. She'll be bouncing around, energetic and cheerful, but as soon as I reach for the lamp she is so overcome that she cannot possibly sleep until I have done something to make her feel better. Tears ensue. The above symptoms are so common that I now can get through them with a "get some sleep, and I'm sure you'll feel better." Others require more creativity.

Tonight it was an earache. Not a single word about any ear pain until the second I turned out the light, at which point she became bereft, sobbing that it hurt really really bad. I tried my oft-used "You must be getting a cold, I'll get you a second pillow" response, but the Bedtime Ailments were pretty stubborn tonight and required actual medical treatment. She pleaded for some medicine, suggesting that Motrin would help. (Yes, I have a five-year-old Motrin junkie on my hands.)

I'm not going to say that I've never given my kids a dose of Motrin that wasn't strictly required, but I try to avoid it for obvious reasons. To avoid unnecessary drugs tonight, I needed some serious parental creativity, and I found it in the bathroom drawer--Vicks Vapo-Rub. Topical, smells medicine-y, harmless. I scooped a fingerful of Vicks, went to the suffering child, and very gently as only a truly caring mother would do, rubbed it in the region of her ear pain. The crying stopped. I left the room, pleased at what a very clever mommy I am.

Five minutes later she was out of bed, explaining that while the "ointment" had helped the ear pain, it was really irritating her skin. She washed it off and went to sleep. I'm still not sure if The Band-Aid Effect or distracting skin irritation was the cause, but the effect was a sleeping child. All is well.

What lies (I mean creative problem-solving techniques) have you used on your kids?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ribbons and Bows

A tiny part of me has always wanted to be able to craft my own wreath, but the rest of me always got in the way. Thanks to a suggestion from another blogger, I've finally done it, and all I needed to know how to do was cut ribbon and tie it into knots. Hurray.

I found this idea over at Thrifty Crafty Girl, who is doing 31 days of Halloween over on her blog (that woman is serious about Halloween). Her wreath was all black and covered in awesome googly eyes. While it's hard to get too many googly eyes in my opinion, I wanted a wreath that would work for the entire fall and replace the fall wreath I had hanging on my door.

This was on my door. It is a $7 plastic wreath I bought at Wal-Mart a few years ago. If you look at it from the street, it adds a nice pop of color to the front of the house. If you are actually at my front door...well, it looks like a $7 plastic wreath from Wal-Mart.

plastic fall wreath

Here is my new wreath. It is not plastic, and I made it with my own hands.

orange ribbon fall wreath

You know how I managed it? It is simple and mindless--at least as mindless as the episode of Grey's Anatomy I watched while I made most of it (it's horrible, but I just can't stop myself). You'll need:  a foam wreath and ribbon. I chose two orange ribbons--a grosgrain and a polka-dot satin. Next time, I'll choose a wider ribbon so I will finish faster. If I did the math right, I used just over 36 yards of ribbon for this one.

To make the wreath, cut the ribbon into 12" pieces. Tie the ribbon in a knot around the wreath--right over left, left over right. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the foam is covered. I found that I needed to stagger the knots a bit to ensure the foam wasn't peeking out.

cut ribbon and tied knots on wreath


close-up of ribbon wreath tied knots


ribbon wreath close-up tied knots

When I had filled the entire wreath, I cut off all the frayed ribbon ends, which in my case were most of them. Habitually crafty people: Is there a way to minimize the fraying? I wondered whether, if I'd cut it a certain way or bought better ribbon, there would have been less fraying.

I hope to display my creation until it's time to put up Christmas decorations. The kids, however, love a good Halloween decoration, so I attached some little creatures with straight pins for the Halloween season. I'll remove them soon after Halloween and file them away for next year.

fall halloween ribbon wreath

close-up owl halloween ribbon wreath

Anyone else have a seasonal craft even a novice can pull off?



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walkabout

It's a beautiful fall day here in New England, so I grabbed my camera and wandered around for a while this afternoon. I'm guessing that my Rhode Island neighbors will have no trouble identifying where I spent my time.

photograph of blue window


photo of Mercier's Hardware sign


photo of orange door entry



photo of cold beer sign at antique store

I covet that orange door and, had I been carrying my purse, would have been lured into the antique store with the Cold Beer sign out front.

Other than my kids, my favorite things to photograph are buildings and signs (the more odd or dilapidated the better).  What is your favorite subject?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Card Management

pile of rewards and loyalty cards


Don't be put off by the boring title. If you're the one doing the shopping in your family, you're going to be excited by this one.

It seems every store now has a loyalty or rewards card. Your options seem to be to (i) never have the right card when you need it, (ii) have your wallet overstuffed with multiple loyalty cards you only use occasionally, or (iii) have a disordered pile either in your wallet or the bottom of your purse. For a dollar or less, you can solve this problem forever.

Buy a metal craft ring. At least that's what I think it's called;  there are photos below. You can get two for less than $2 at Michaels or other craft places. I found it back near the needlepoint stuff at Michaels with help from a salesperson.

metal craft ring closed

metal craft ring open

Use a hole punch to punch a hole in each card. Line up the last one you punched with each new one to keep the holes lined up.

I assume this goes without saying, but in case you're not naturally orderly I'll spell it out for you...put them on the ring in alphabetical order by store so you can flip through quickly in the check-out line to find the one you need.

reward and loyalty cards on craft ring

To keep it contained, put a rubber band around the stack. I use a hair elastic that had gotten too stretched out to be practical for its intended purpose.

rubber band on loyalty and reward cards and craft ring

I cannot claim credit for this idea. That goes to my friend Jessica, who alleges that it is a Martha Stewart idea. Martha gets enough credit for stuff, so let's give the kudos to Jessica. Every time I pull out my ring of cards at the check-out, either the person ringing me up or someone in line exclaims what a good idea it is (much like I did when I first saw it). And now it is your idea to be exclaimed over.

Anyone else have a simple fix that made an everyday annoyance manageable?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pop Music

Pop music is a young person's game, as I tried to explain to my third grader a few weeks ago. Being young, he knows nothing else and I'm not going to change his mind, so occasionally I forego my stations and indulge his pop music requests. He thinks I'm terribly boring and old, but pop music ruled my world for the first half of my life.

Remember listening to Casey Kasem every Sunday morning? Tuning in as early as possible to try to get nearly all of the Top 40? Stepping away from the radio only during the dreadful long distance dedications? Long before I had a stereo with a tape deck (yes, young people, tape deck), I'd hold my tape recorder up to the speaker, dutifully recording the top ten songs each week, trying to record as much of the song as possible without deejay voiceover. I'd take my tape recorder to elementary school, rocking out to the week's top ten in the back of the school bus. I was cool like that (or as I was weirdly pleased to learn is still elementary school parlance--not).

I became old, in the music world, somewhere around 1992. The grunge thing was lost on me.  I couldn't tell Nirvana from Pearl Jam from Stone Temple Pilots from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Once my weekends and--who am I kidding--several weeknights weren't spent standing around, drinking beer and listening to some fraternity's dance mix, I officially was out of the pop loop.

After a twenty-year hiatus, I'm getting pulled back in by my son. Not long ago, I wondered if "water cooler talk" was important for the elementary school set. My kids don't watch much TV or play many video games, and I wondered if they might be left out by other kids. My son tested the social waters with a brief foray into Pokemon cards last year, but he's really striking out with pop music. While like a good parent, I find most of the kids' music perfectly dreadful, I am reasonably happy to indulge his fervent musical requests.

A common plea is now: "Can we listen to Hits 1?" I always have music on in the car and usually at home, and Hits 1 is far from my comfort zone. My Pandora station is a perfect mix of classic rock, folk, and country. My top level pre-sets in the car are:

80s on 8
Classic Rewind (classic rock)
Classic Vinyl (classic rock)
Prime Country (80s and 90s country)
The Highway (contemporary country)
Willie's Roadhouse (old school country) - mostly I like the deejays' accents

One Direction, Flo-rida, PSY, and a band mysteriously named fun. are not what I'd choose, and I certainly wouldn't choose to listen to the same five songs that seem to be playing every time we turn on Hits 1. Like a good middle-aged person, I mutter (mostly to myself) that every song sounds the same, with the same synthesized techno beat. But I'm grudgingly willing to let the kids listen, even if I think the music is often crap. I'd rather this be my son's way of joining in, rather than wanting to plop himself in front of a screen all the time; I'm sure that day will come soon enough. I believe that music is important, even bad music--the soundtrack of our lives, and whatnot.

In the meantime, I've added Hits 1 to my second-tier pre-sets and have even admitted that Whistle is a fairly catchy song. The only one I cannot tolerate is Gagnam Style; I've not felt compelled to check out the "hilarious" video, and the song is truly abysmal. [shudder] The kids permit me to change the station without complaint, so they must not truly love it either.

Next time you're stopped at a light next to a forty-something mom in a minivan, don't judge her if she's listening to Dynamite. She's probably just trying to be a good mom to the little pop music fans in the back. Don't worry, she'll turn right back to her classic rock as soon as she has a few minutes to herself because, as we all know, pop music is a young person's game.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cork It

My favorite type of project is one that is easy and inexpensive but shows an immediate dramatic improvement. I worked a little of this magic on my pantry last week, making the drab space about more than just canned goods. I may not hang out in the pantry, but I'm in and out of there constantly, and the scuffed formerly white wall was bringing me down.

blank pantry wall

My first thought was to repaint it, but I'd just recently reorganized the pantry and couldn't bring myself to unload all the shelves yet again. I also couldn't imagine where I'd put all of it for the time it would take me to prep, paint, and let dry. I then considered painting a strip of color down the center, but upon further reflection, that just seemed weird.

I then had the great idea to mount cork tiles on the empty space, providing a place to hang the kids' artwork, photos, cartoons, or whatever colorful stuff struck my fancy. I was pretty pleased with this idea until I started looking into self-adhesive cork tiles. Every review I read said they fell off the wall, so I'd need to apply a separate adhesive to make my idea work. To cover the small space I hoped to cover would cost at least $50, and that just seemed silly for a pantry wall. I shelved the idea and decided to come back to it later.

While on a field trip to IKEA with a friend, I spotted basic framed cork boards for $5.99 each and my problem was solved. I bought four and hung them in a grid in the most visible area of the pantry. The mounting hardware that came with the cork boards was pretty lousy, and I didn't want to use hooks because the boards likely would often be crooked, driving me crazy. The cork boards are very lightweight, so I tried double-sided adhesive mounting squares I had in a drawer. They have been hanging on the wall for several days now, so I think they are going to stay.

corkboard grid on pantry wall

I still have plenty of space to fill, but I've returned the cartoon that previously lived on the pantry wall, a favorite Calvin & Hobbbes comic, a photo of my husband and me on the day we got engaged a million years ago, my daughter's yarn block print project, and a card a friend gave me way back in law school that says "No day is so bad that it can't be fixed with a nap."

decorated corkboard grid in pantry

So simple, but so much more personal and cheerful.  Maybe it will make me want to cook more (but I doubt it).


In case you were wondering about that cartoon that used to hang all by its lonesome, it has hung in my pantry for the last eight years or so (in two different homes).  I ripped the page from Real Simple magazine.  It is so me that it still cracks me up after all this time, so it had to stay.

Virginia Roberts comic duck in a row




Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog Feed

If you read Flotsam of the Mind in Google Reader or another content aggregator, a huge thanks for spending some time with me.  I spend far too much time browsing blogs in Google Reader myself.  The only drawback as a blogger is that I don't have a good feel for how many of you are out there because I can't keep track of page views in content aggregators.  As you know, I like to know someone is listening.

I also would love for you to visit the site, now located at www.flotsamofthemind.com, to see all the changes I've made to the layout and features.  In my humble opinion, there have been some huge improvements although, like me, the blog is a work in progress. So, if you haven't done so, please click through to the blog and let me know what you think.

To encourage people to do just that, I've made a change to the way each post now appears in blog feeds.  You will not be able to read the entire post in a content aggregator;  you'll get the beginning but will have to click through to the main site to read the rest.  I'm trying this out as a way to get a better feel for how many of you are out there (and where--stats are fun).  If you hate it and find that I'm driving you away, please let me know because that is not the point.  I like you and want you to stay, comment, and engage in a dialogue with me and other readers.

To that end, if you like what you see on Flotsam of the Mind, please Like the blog's Facebook page.  There is a handy box in the right-hand column of the blog for this purpose, or you can go to the page directly (https://www.facebook.com/FlotsamOfTheMind).  It's a win-win.  You can see additional content there that does not appear on the blog or my personal Facebook page, and I (hopefully, cross my fingers) gain potential readers in your friends who see that you like what I'm doing here.

Enough of the boring technical details.  In addition to the writing, I'm having loads of fun figuring out how to improve the blog and my interaction with my readers.  Going forward, I'll try to show you changes without bogging you down with the details.  Keep up the feedback.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...more of what goes on in my head tomorrow.


Goodreads

I am a book lover and, when not staring at the computer screen, usually spend my free time with my nose in a book.  There is always one on the passenger seat of the mini-van, and I've developed quite a comfy, cozy system of killing time in parking lots with my latest read.  Love those adjustable seats.

To date, I've shared some children's audiobooks that our family has enjoyed, but I haven't tackled a proper full book review of an adult book (a book for adults, not porn).  If you're curious what I've been reading and what I think of those books, you can check out my Goodreads feed, which now appears in the right-hand column of the blog.  I approach my Goodreads reviews as if a friend wants to know whether to read a book;  I don't do a full review and rarely include much of a summary.  I just give my two cents about it.

Anyone else a Goodreads fan?  Have a suggestion for me to put on my to-read list?  I just finished Arcadia by Lauren Groff and loved it (highly, highly recommend) and Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, which I found to be a meandering disappointment.  What are you reading these days?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Libraries - Final Images

Since I asked your opinion and a few of you were kind enough to ask which subject I chose to present for the documentary or narrative style assignment, I thought I'd post what I plan to show for critique tonight.

I am going with eleven library images. While I feel that some of the individual fall photos were better than these, I don't feel that I could really tell a story with them--other than "it's fall," which isn't much of a story. Hopefully, these images do a better job of that. I was able to photograph a third library in a neighboring town. It is a beautiful building with some very unique architectural aspects, so that (plus the dismal rainy weather we're having) helped to make libraries the winner over leaves. Below are the images in order of presentation.

stained glass window literature library


aged books on shelves in library


romance novels mis-shelved at library


library biography section


reference room at library


desk chair and bookshelves in library


leather chair and bookshelves at library


library ladder


old bound newspapers and new Boston Sunday Globe


new media in library


books for sale on stands

A benefit of this assignment was that I spoke to several very nice librarians while I explained what I was doing and why, promising to take photos of inanimate objects only (the most willing subjects, in any event). 

Wish me luck for tonight's critique! It's a continuing ed class, so people are typically quite kind. Any critiques of your own you have to offer? You won't hurt my feelings. Probably.