Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Picture This

Three images today that stood out, all starring the littlest Sprout:
  1. I went outside this morning to pick up strewn about garbage left by a very large, hungry bear (yet again!).  As I was putting it back in the bin, I heard a voice behind me asking "What are you doing, Papa?"  I turned to find my son wearing nothing but his underwear and two different coloured pair of Crocs on his feet. 
  2. This afternoon, whilst getting a drink of water in the kitchen, I looked out the window to see my son outside stepping off the "Peeing Rock", having finished draining his bladder and trying to pull up his pants. 
  3. Tonight, playing dress-up with his sister, JK comes downstairs wearing just a pair of gold sequin shorts, untidily tucked into his blue underwear.  "Look at me!", he cries.  Back upstairs he goes, then again downstairs wearing just blue underwear and a pair of butterfly wings.
Sorely needed laughter today...more to follow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

In the "Pro" Column

Supper tonight was a delight.  Not because the homemade spaghetti sauce was so delicious (made by yours truly), but because all four of us shared stories of our first day of school.  FK, in her matter of fact way (yet with excitement in her voice), talked about about journalling, art, class rewards, her amazing teacher, her fellow classmates, and, well, you get the idea.  JK, earlier in the day, shyly (yet proudly) showed me his "new" preschool room at the daycare and his artwork hanging on the wall. My spouse and I had great first days, EK deservedly so.  She has a small class this year, and from what I gather, are absolute angels (not really, I think, but after last year's class, PHEW!).  I was fortunate enough to reap the rewards of teaching most of my students last year, so despite some new faces, the routines and procedures that were ingrained last year remained in place, making the first day a joy.  My spouse even remarked that my students had smiles on their faces today. 

Today ended up being organic (thanks to Murphy's Law).  Fearless Leader was unexpectedly away (and now will be for some time due to health issues), there was no morning assembly, and the new lunch lady was alone cooking in the kitchen, with no one serving lunch.  However, though I, the eternal pessimist, used to freak out about such things, today I went with the flow, solved my own problems, changed my schedule to fit the students' needs, had back-up material to fill extra class time, and "volunteered" my class to help serve lunch (which could be a blog post all on it's own - image a class of seventeen grade sevens and eights plating up spaghetti - oh boy!).  Talk about personal and professional growth...

My spouse continues to hint strongly that I need to get my Education degree.  I haven't decided yet, but a day like today goes in the "Pro" column.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Photography Resources

During our family vacation I was asked a few times about how to take better pictures and what resources do I use or recommend. Before you read the starting list below, know two things. First, don't assume the resources will make you a better photographer. You need to get out and shoot lots, everyday if you can, applying the things you learn. Practice, practice, practice! Second, always have your camera with you. Your models (aka family and friends) get used to you having a camera, and in turn, become less self-conscious of having their picture taken. Also, you may miss "the shot". This morning I missed a great shot on my way to work because I was more concerned about my coffee. Sigh.

Books and Magazines:
  1. Go to your local library, sign out and read books and magazines on photography.
  2. Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Volumes 1-3.
  3. Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera and any other book by Bryan Peterson
  4. Chris Orwig's Visual Poetry.
  5. Practical Photography Magazine. This magazine is from the UK and expensive, but well worth it. It is chock full of information for both beginners and pros. I read mine from cover to cover and often try out ideas and suggestions from the various authors and contributors.
  1. Look up videos on photography on YouTube or other video sites. There are great tidbits of info out there, such as found here.
  2. Find photographer websites and blogs where you can read about their photoshoots and how they took their pictures. Look at their pictures for inspiration.
  3. Check out DTown TV (another Scott Kelby resource). Each webisode covers a wide variety of topics for various skill levels.
  4. Subscribe to an email resource. I get an email every week from Digital Photography School that gives me information about cameras, ideas on how to take different types of pictures, how to use various processing programs, and so on. Update: see an example here.

On last tip: find people with whom to shoot. During my vacation I had the pleasure of shooting with a fellow photographer friend one early morning. It's great to spend time with other photographers, share ideas and get new perspectives.

What resources do you recommend? Post them in the comments. Thanks!


Because we shopped in larger urban centres this summer during our 5 week vacation, I forgot how expensive food is where we live. Almost $4 for a jar of applesauce! Sigh. As part of our living more simply this year, and leaving a smaller environmental footprint, it was an impetus to once again make our own applesauce. I use a recipe from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Besides the largest pot you can get your hands on, you need:

5 pounds apples, preferably a mixture of varieties, washed
Sugar (if necessary)

  1. Cut the apples in half or, if they're very large, in quarters. Don't both to peel or core them. Dump them into a pot with about 1/2 inch of water on the bottom. Cover the pot and turn the heat to medium.
  2. When the water begins to boil, uncover the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat if the mixture threatens to burn on the bottom, until the apples break down and become mushy, at least 30 minutes (I find it takes longer than this). Let sit until cool enough to handle. Taste the mixture and add sugar if necessary; usually it is not.
  3. Pass the mixture through a food mill, discarding the solids that stay behind. Freeze or refrigerate.

As chef Jamie Oliver says, "Easy, peasy"!

Video: Photography Connects Us to the World

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This triptych is from a series of pics I took of the Sprouts in South Baymouth. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mus musculus

So we have a Mus musculus problem (or maybe Peromyscus maniculatus): either house mice or deer mice. We came home a day early (due to rain in Thunder Bay) to find out that we have unwanted guests in our house. What would have been a short unpacking from the trip (due to some clever foresight), ended up being a long afternoon of cleaning and sterilizing the kitchen and other parts of the house. We had intended for tomorrow to be a down day, but it looks like we have to get in the car yet again to go to town to shop for some traps or other such things that will remove our guests. Thank goodness all of our food was packed away in Rubbermaid containers or the problem would have been worse. Ideas on getting rid of mice would be greatly appreciated!

Family Quote of the Week

EK: "You know you are close to home when there are real deer on the front lawns, not fake lawn ornaments."