Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Christmas surprise...

You know, it's strange how that little island that we all love off the coast of Cancun can bring people together. I've heard that more than once. Today, I received this gift from someone who I've gotten to know through Isla, although I've never met her in person. What a surprise! This hasn't been the best Christmas, so I thank you, Jill, for making my day. I love it, and will find a special place for it. And you're right...the drink looks like one of Romi's pomegranate margaritas to me! And thank Erik for the card is what Christmas is all about, so that's okay! lol

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you guys. I wish you two all the best in 2009...and thanks again! I LOVE IT!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Vacation!

Well, my Christmas Vacation started last Friday at 5:00 p.m. (Thanks, Beck, for telling me how to post a video!) I'm off for two weeks courtesy of Texas State University's energy conservation policy. I still can't believe it. But instead of going anywhere, I've decided to work on some home projects that I have been putting off for months. Last time I had some serious time off was when I got laid off, but I was so depressed and worried about finding another job that I didn't feel like doing a damn thing...other than looking for another job, of course. Now I have two weeks off with pay, so I have a lot of energy to get some things done.

First of all, we did the Secret Santa thing at work and I got this big basket of pine cones from my Santa. Considering there are no pine cones where I live in Texas this is a nice reminder of the north. In addition to that, one of the admins got me the book on Stieglitz next to the pine cones (a pioneer in the history of photography) because she knew of my interest in photography. What a sweetheart. Thanks, Sarah!

It's cold here today...started out at 32 and is now 40. That's cold for here. It's a gloomy day, as well, which also reminds me of the north...a nice change as far as I'm concerned but MANY people down here would disagree with me. I actually wore my leather jacket today AND turned on the heat. Both are rare occurrences for me.

Oh, man...look what the kitties did while they were outside today. Bad kitties! I think they were trying to get my attention to let them back in...even THEY don't like the cold.

One of my first projects before Christmas gets here is making a collage of black and white photographs from birth to now for each of my three sons . I'm going to mount them in a frame so they can hang them on the wall. The idea came to me from one of The Ariel View blog posts on her sister's birthday. Thanks for the idea, Vee!

Another project has been that room on the other side of the kitchen window that I created the stained glass panel for. I've decided to use that as a hobby room because it has a cement floor which is good for working with various crafts...especially stained glass. I did a post a few months ago on a deserted factory that had been turned into apartment lofts. I liked the fact that they had kept the original cement floors.

So I decided to go for the same look. I had originally painted it in a checkerboard pattern when I first moved here and used it as kind of a guest/family room.

In transition...

I painted it all a solid tan, then went over with a sponge roller to get that mottled look. It turned out a lot darker than the factory floor, but I like it. Now I just need to find a work table so I can actually do some work in there!

And remember what the back side of that window looked like before?

Here it is now. I wanted it to look like it was built that way.

On a totally different note, I used a memory card I hadn't used in months to take these pictures and found this photograph was still on it.

No sunflowers out today!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Little bit of this and that...

Well, it was a beautiful day here in South Texas and after spending the last few days under the weather with a stomach virus I decided to head out with my camera. I wanted to post some pictures of the Texas landscape around here for those of you who are not familiar with it. These pictures are right around the area where I live, but this is what you'll see for many, many, many miles from here as well.

Remember these old satellite dishes?? I'd never seen one this shape before. How aesthetically pleasing to the eye! Ha! Thank God they got smaller! Of course, someday I'm sure we'll be laughing at the ones we all have on our roofs now.

There is no shortage of these around here.

Alrightey-then! Had enough of Texas scenery?, too. I was going to do a whole post on that, but that would have put everyone to sleep.

So as I was turning around to go back, I saw this little diner/store that's across from the huge outlet mall on I-35. I've always wanted to go in, so I took the opportunity today since my Texas scenery subject was quickly going down the blog drain. I'm glad I did, because it was a little walk down sign memory lane.

Remember these? Obviously, they didn't work because now we have the yellow flashing lights with the neighborhood cop sitting on a side street just waiting for the poor fool who's going two miles an hour over the posted 15 MPH school zone speed limit.

Being a St. Louis girl, I had to post this one. "Makes good food taste better." It's a good thing Budweiser has improved a tad on their advertising techniques through the years.

Another one from St. Louis, although I have never heard of Advance Mfg. Co. Just what the heck is "Hot French-Fried Popcorn??" Is that just another name they called popcorn back then? I get this image of them taking popped popcorn and frying it in a deep fryer...which doesn't especially sound very appealing.

I always liked the Pegasus at the Mobile stations...but I think I'll pass up the $4,995 price tag on this little piece of memorabilia. (By the way, prices on all these signs ranged from about $300 to $5,000.)

Not a very pleasant one.

A small steak with a Coke...80 cents. Now you can't even get the Coke for 80 cents.

This little number was $995...but I guess it dates back from 1936. Looks like it was used for target practice at some point.

Remember the Dr. Pepper slogan of drinking it at 10, 2 and 4? I had totally forgotten about that. "Drink a bite to eat." That doesn't even make any sense. Advertising had a bit to be desired back then. More on that later.

"Amos 'n' Andy." OMG, I haven't thought of that in years!! (Or maybe I blocked it out of my memory.) My dad used to love that show! (Which I'm totally ashamed to admit these days.) It's hard now to believe those days even existed...and now we have a black president. Thank the Lord times have changed. It's really hard to believe that was only about 45 years ago.

Kind of a strange Grape-Nuts ad.

Now here's advertising genius. Here's what the copy says on the ad:

"Why come back from lunch feeling drowsy? Choose a refreshing lunch, and be yourself. Bounce back to normal with an ice-cold Coca-Cola, the natural partner of so many good things to eat. An Ice-cold Coca-Cola is more than just a drink. It’s a very particular kind of drink—combining those pleasant, wholesome substances which foremost scientists say do most in restoring you to your normal self. Really delicious, it invites a pause, a pause that will refresh you."

I like the "wholesome substances which foremost scientists say do most in restoring you to your normal self"...that's a good one! You'd think everyone was a walking zombie after lunch unless you've had a Coke!

They had a little diner with the place which I should have tried, but feeling so much better after my stomach disorder, I had a craving for something across the street. I'm normally not a fast-food person and the only thing I ever get at McDonald's is their sugar-free vanilla iced coffee which is only $2.37 compared to Starbuck's $4-something. They are great. But I do love these...

McRibs...which only come out certain times of the year. I didn't eat the fries, though...too much after the stomach thing. I didn't make that mess with all the rib sauce...that's just how it looked when I opened the wrapper, I swear.

So now on to Gruene. We're doing a Secret Santa thing in the office, and Gruene is always a great place for gift-buying, so I thought I check it out...especially since I was feeling so much better and it was such a beautiful day.
Now you have to admit, this is cute. An Airstream bird feeder. You don't see those everyday.

These are also unusual. But it would have been kind of difficult to giftwrap and sneak into the office, so I passed on this one.

I didn't get anything while I was there but it was a great day to be out. Temps were in the 80's and the bikers were taking advantage of the weather.

Having spent most of my life in midwestern to northern states, I'm still not used to warm weather during the holidays. I wore flip-flops today have all my windows open tonight. At any rate, I guess I have to be thankful for not having a heating bill.

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just some random pics...

It's been awhile since I've posted. Between preparing for the office Christmas party and getting a yucky stomach virus, I haven't been feeling very blog-creative. And, recently, I just haven't found any blog-worthy photographic opportunities...or maybe I just haven't felt like looking for them.

But there's one place that I pass by every day on my way to sits on the service road of I-35 between New Braunfels and San Marcos. For some reason, it always intrigues me, so I drove up there today and took some pictures. I don't know whether it's open for business...I've never seen anyone around.

Just kind of a strange place all by itself.

I've also always wanted to take a picture of this church...the first church built in New Braunfels. It has a tiny little cemetery next to it which I would love to get photos of, but it's behind a locked fence.

So, that's it...just a short post tonight.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I don't watch much TV, but I was channel surfing the other night and saw that "Citizen Kane" was on. Well, that's a major undertaking for a weeknight, but I decided to take it on. I can't remember the last time I've seen it...probably at least 20 years ago. It really is an incredible movie...particularly regarding its cinematography techniques. Anyone who has an appreciation of black and white photography has to love it.

I did some research on-line while I was watching it and learned that this film literally changed the world of cinematography. One of the techniques that the movie is most famous for is “deep focus.” This was achieved through the use of a wide-angle lens to create a large other words, everything is in focus. Once I learned that, I began watching for it and could see that it was used many many times.

If you haven't seen it...and find out what Rosebud means.

On a more superficial side (for those who have seen it), remember when he builds Xanadu for his second wife? Geez, the fireplace in the main room was the size of my living room! And when she is telling him she's leaving him, she's holding a muff. A muff! Anyone out there remember muffs?? I used to have one when I was a kid! A white one made out of rabbit fur with a little black speck of fur on one side. I loved that thing. When is the last time you've even HEARD the word "muff?" (Well, at least in THAT context...let's keep it clean here!)

Anyway, watching "Citizen Kane" brought up some other memories. If you're not familiar with the story line, Charles Kane is the owner of several newspapers. I have a background in journalism so it makes it a little more personal for me. I've recently worked at the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung...newspaper for a bustling metropolis of 50,000 people...which was a far cry from my days at The Washington Post back in my BC ("before children") years. That seems like a lifetime ago now.

I worked there in the early 80s...after the Watergate era. Carl Bernstein had left by then, but Bob Woodward was (and still is) there. I didn't work in the newsroom, but for their broadcast division (Post-Newsweek Stations) when they owned TV stations WDIV in Detroit, WFSB in Hartford, WPLG in Miami, and WJXT in Jacksonville, FL. They own two more now. When I first started working there, Post-Newsweek was a separate entity and we had our own office in Georgetown. There were three big TVs in the conference room. If we didn't go out to lunch, we would sit in there and watch "All My Children" on all three TVs. Ha! Good times. One of my most vivid memories was when the plane fell into the Potomac River during a snow storm because it wasn't de-iced. That was only a couple miles away from our office. What a night. None of us could get out so we watched everything on those three TVs until the snow let up.

Eventually we moved to the corporate offices at The Post's main building downtown. It was there that I had the distinct honor of meeting owner and publisher Katharine Graham, a truly remarkable woman. After her husband, Phillip, committed suicide, she took over the paper and ran it herself...and was extraordinarily successful at it.

We had lots of parties and social events. While I was there, they teamed with Larry King to do a news show. I don't think it lasted for even a year. But I did get this shot of him at one of our Christmas parties. He wouldn't know me from the man in the moon now. This was taken in either 1981 or 1982. He looks a little older now.

Newspaper times are VERY different than they were years ago. Everything has gone to the internet, so newspapers are folding up all over the world. As a result, the quality of newspapers has gone down because of low pay and high stress...which is sad. There was such an excitement about it back then with breaking stories and investigative reporting. To put it in a more succinct journalistic style, "It just ain't the same."

On a final note, Washington DC was a very exciting place to live. There was always something going on and the energy was always high...not to mention all the museums, festivals, memorials, history, etc. There are only two things I don't miss - the traffic and the cost of living.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More on Experimental Photography...

IslaGringo made this comment on my previous blog post on "Experimental Photography:"

"Nice, very nice. The detail in the second pic sure stands out now. I would have like to have seen the originals for comparisons sake. The problem with everyone knowing how to do this is that we will have bloggers only posting their versions until we could gag. As it is, just a few of us knowing this technique keeps it fresh. So tell me how to do this! LOL!PS. I have only seen this done with reds. Does it work with other colors too?"

I have a 20-pound turkey to make with all the trimmings today, but I'll take a moment to post this before I start.

First off, here are the originals to the two enhanced photos I posted previously.

This one has always been one of my favorites...taken early in the morning before they opened. There was a trash can sitting to the right of the Coke umbrella which I moved out of the way before taking the picture. The people I was with laughed at me for doing that, but I'm glad I did!

As for me, I didn't change the original color of the subject I highlighted. I'm sure you could if you wanted to, but I prefer to keep the original, like these before and after shots.

Now that I look at this one, I think it might have been more effective to highlight just Frida herself rather than including the white background on the chair. Next time.

It's an easy just have to have a steady hand when you trace the area you want to remain in color. I used Photoshop Elements to create these. There are probably other programs out there that can be used as well.

Thanks, again, Jamqueen. You got me hooked!

Now I have a turkey to tend to! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!