Monday, December 24, 2007

Season's Greetings

Christmas is upon us and for the first time in many, many years I feel ready for the event. I'm usually rushing to finish shopping, struggling with what to get those difficult people (dad's come to mind) or how to stretch too few dollars too far. Dinner is here tomorrow, with the whole gang coming over. BUT, mom insisted on having the meal catered, so little work for Daryl or I!

We have several days off work (Daryl has appointments on Thursday & Friday) and hopefully we will manage to visit friends and have a relaxing time. And I'm sure the kids are going to want to go and spend the Christmas booty too.

2007, like every year, has had it's ups(more financial stability, great photography trip) and downs(health problems for family members). Days go by, some are bad, most are good, we all get older and well, I think someone wrote a song like that already.

Merry Christmas, and Best Wishes for 2008.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The latest from my wacky world

Well, probably the 'news' that interests the most people is the creation of Soccer Edmonton. A mediator has successfully negotiated an end to the EIYSA-EMSA stand off. Check the EIYSA website for a link to the press release.
One 'new' organization, with representation from both boards, running youth soccer from T1 through to Tn. 'Club Soccer Edmonton' will have control of T1 & 2, and 'Soccer Edmonton' the others. This sure sounds like a step in the right direction.

Last night, just after supper, the dog started barking like mad. Someone was approaching the door, and he certainly took notice. So did Katie - perhaps she saw the vehicle from her bedroom. It turns out it was an Edmonton Police Service Constable, visiting households to inform us about a not so respectable neighbor. Kind of a freaky thing, really. What purpose does informing the neighborhood do? Is there an imminent raid being planned? What are the real dangers of having this person as a neighbor? I still don't really have a grip on why the officer was visiting.

Colin comes home in early December. I am looking forward to seeing him, hearng his experiences in Germany and seeing how he handles being back home. Will he behave like a kid or an adult? Which will he want to be treated as?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who Am I?

Gluwater (one of my travel companions on the preshoot this fall) sent me this photo that he took: me shooting sunrise at Waterton. This photo really draws me in to it, despite it's elegant simplicity, because it takes me to a moment where I was just me.
So what do I mean by that? Well, I guess I am many things to many people: wife, mother, daughter, employee, soccer mom, volunteer. Not to mention things I have been (PMS Bitch from Hell was how some former employees referred to me).
But in this photo I am just me - alone, with only my own thoughts and expectations to deal with. Able to set my own timelines, leave when I want, linger if I like. Meet my own deadlines, push my own limits, rise to the challenge, crash and fail, dependant only on me and the choices I make, affecting only me.
Clearly there is great importance in being all of those other things, and in fact, those other things make me who I am. They keep me grounded and balanced, bring me joy and heartbreak, allow me to be successful on other peoples terms, to be measured by social measuring sticks.
Life is about balancing the inner and outer self.

This was driven home for me yesterday when I stopped to help a motorist who was having car troubles. Many things had gone wrong for this person both with respect to the car trouble, and as it turns out, to life overall. She was struggling financially, emotionally and with her health. For whatever reason, she had lost that balance. She gave me reason to be thankful for what I have, where I've been and where I am going.

And, I think she also pointed out the importance of not escaping to that isolated place in the photo - to know it is there and can be had, but to realize that who I am is really a sum of the interactions of each individual piece - wife, mother, daughter, employee, photographer - each of them add to the whole.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What's Your Value Add?

I've been working on a few things lately - a project at work that has me thinking about 'value added' price models and other business things. I've also been helping out with Alex's team fundraising. This isn't my first foray into fundaraising. It isn't my first volunteering either. In fact, i first volunteered in Junior High, at the Canadian Handicapped Games (okay, I actually don't remember the true name of the event), and have continued to volunteer my entire life. When we first moved to Brookview, it seemed a good way to meet neighbors. As we owned our own business, volunteering also gave us a means of having peers and even friends. I have been worker bee through to President of a wide variety of different organizations. I do this because I enjoy the people I meet and the feeling of pride at giving back. One thing that has become very clear over the years is that there are always people willing to debate and argue points but very few willing to put their money (time) where their mouth is. As well, it is impossible to achieve consensus, and thus seeking opinions often leads to more work than value. I have the experience to know how to get things done, the willingness to take on the task and a pretty no nonesense approach to these things now. I don't really need the headaches that volunteering brings - the arguements and the disagreement, the lack of appreciation. So why do it? Well, I think it all comes down to the question 'what is your value add?': what is it that you (I) contribute to this world?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Farewell to the smartie room

Katie's room was the first room painted when we bought this house. She was about 10, IIRC, and picked bright blue and bright purple - 2 walls each. It was a great color combination, and it really was the color of blue and purple smarties.
I've just finished putting the first coat of primer on her walls. She has picked a new, more refined color scheme. I am pleased though, that she has no fear of color. She will have 3 walls in a nice soft creamy peachy color, and a wall in quite a bright orange. She is basing her color scheme on the duvet cover that she picked at IKEA - it is orange and red. So orange will be her wall color and red her accents and perhaps her couch color. This will all coordinate nicely with her IKEA wardrobe with mirror doors, and IKEA headboard/shelving unit. It will transform her room from a kids room to a young ladies room.

And really, that's the point of this post. My babies are growing up.They are all teenagers now, are all as tall or taller than me now, are independant and more or less responsible young people. This brings us closer to the independance of empty nesters, although we still have 41/2 more years here at a minimum. It is a bittersweet kind of feeling - pride at getting them this far along, worry about the remaining years when the dangers are clearly greater than they have been before, and missing those adorable moments from years gone by.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bringing us up to date...

Well, as I wrote yesterday, there have been many exciting things going on in our lives these past few months.

From September 18 until Oct. 3, I was away from home on a photo journey through the Canadian Rockies, ending in Glacier when we met 47 other photographers for the Dgrin shootout. There were 4 of us on the preshootout: Skippy, Phyxius, Gluwater and I. We are detailing the trip in a thread on Dgrin, though it is taking quite a while for each of us to contribute.....This was an immense amount of fun, and I definitely learned alot. I am reediting some photos, and creating panos like crazy with the new computer and PSCS3. Learning new skills and pushing beyond the routine I had established is a good thing, and should keep me sharp for a while.

Colin was home for a week from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6. He has returned to Leverkusen, and seems to be doing well. He is taking the soccer seriously, and understands that this is the point of being there.

Alex's team is planning a trip to Germany for spring break. Plenty of fundraising to do between now and then. I am torn between sitting back and letting others do their thing, and jumping in with my past experiences to draw on.

The crescent homeowners formed a homeowners association this fall, to facilitate the possible installation of city services to our homes. Somehow I have ended up as VP.

And I tried to quit my job! I had another job all lined up - one that would allow a more flexible schedule and the ability to be immersed in the photography community. One I am pretty sure I would have enjoyed a great deal. However, when I discussed this with the bosses at ML, they suggested that I take a promotion there instead - more challenge, more decision making stroke, and of course more money. This was a really tough decision for me - I was being given the opportunity to infuence the things at ML that were frustrating me and causing me to be dissatisfied. I was also being given the opportunity to work in a community of photography lovers, and this would have let me grow my photography skills and business. In the end, I chose to stay at ML and accepted the challenge of trying to make positive change to the business.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Latest To(-y-)ol

I have joined the Mac world!
After months of disgruntlement with Vista, more than months of disgruntlement with the shared computer/monitor with the family (constant battle against fingerprints, sticky keyboards, and access) and a recent change to financials, I have purchased an iMac plus a second monitor. I am sitting at my treasured oak antique desk, with a 20" and a 23" monitor in front of me. these are both really lovely displays and I cannot wait to try editing photos on them. I purchased PSS3 as well, since PSP is not available for macs. Tomorrows task will be installing it, moving some photo files over here and having a go.

I do not intend to put any microsoft programs on here. I still have access to the family PC, the dh's laptop, and of course the windows box at work. This will be strictly for me and my photos.

I am about half way through the photos from the dgrin preshoot and shootout. I have many 'panorama's' to stitch together. One driving impetus for the switch to PSCS3 was the new photomerge, reported to be wonderful. My stitching program, Panorama Factory, is still in purgatory on the infected harddrive. I would rather not risk infecting everything else so this will certainly assist me on that front.

The preshoot/shootout was absolutely amazing. I cannot remember when I last had so much fun!!!! I have plenty of stories and photos to share from that trip, and a few other new developments in my life in addition to the new 'puter. Guess it is time to start writing again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And we are off - Shoot Out here we come!!!

Skippy arrived Friday. We have been to McBain Camera twice, and Vistek once. We have been to Mountain Equipment Coop and to Costco. We are pretty much set for tomorrow. Nick and Christina get here at 1 p.m. We will collect them from the airport and drive to Jasper! WooooHooooo! Two weeks immersed in photography and fellowship. I am looking forward to all aspects of this trip, except perhaps leaving the family behind for two weeks. The preshoot will be great, with the four of us and the scenery that I know to expect. The shootout is going to be great for scenery, and to see the others returning from last year.

Skippy and I also spent yesterday shooting, first at Beaverhill Lake, or the remnants thereof. Beaverhill Lake was a large migration spot but it is no more than a small slough now. We found lots of insect species, but couldn't get anywhere close to the millions of geese that we could hear.

We then travelled to Elk Island Park, did a very pleasant 2.6 km hike and had an enjoyable afternoon. Leaving the park we came across the bison herd, and were able to get many good shots of them. The number of bison in the park is really impressive now, and great to see. No other large mammals were encountered, nor were any small animals. As we hiked the second half of the trail we came across a bison pattie about every ten feet - mostly quite fresh in appearance. All of a sudden skippy turned to me with the realization that we might just come across one of these creatures face to face! Shortly after that, a family of grouse flew out of the shrubbery, making one heck of a racket.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Last weekend was spent putting new storage systems into Alex and Katie's rooms. We cut the front walls of their closets off, built Ikea wardrobes and put them into the closet space. This is a really functional idea that I've copied from my dad. The Ikea wardrobes fit into a standard closet really well, and are much more functional and store much more stuff. Alex's mess has been removed from his floor and dresser top, and both he and Katie have managed to store everything of theirs into the wardrobes, allowing them both to get rid of their dressers and cabinets.

This weekend, I've begun to put the drywall mud onto the new drywall in the office. We bought trim and D has trimmed out the kids wardrobes, and the closet and door frame in the office. These reno tasks are frustrating because overcoming the inertia is often more taxing than actually finishing the tasks. I should be able to finish the office (perhaps not paint) by the end of the week, and this will allow me to buy and set up the iMac.

Colin is still in Germany and has an offer to stay for the season with VFL-Leverkusen. He has decided that he wants to stay until end of first semester, for sure. This is a really cool experience for him.

Next week, I am off on my grand adventure - a week touring the Canadian Rockies with 3 fellow dgrinners on our way to the shootout in Glacier. Trying to get some last minute details finalized for that trip right now - like wondering if I'll need winter clothes. It absolutely poured today, then the next cloud brought hail. Most trees have not yet turned color, so that looks hopeful for our trip.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Whirlwind of activities

Been an eventful few weeks around here, it has.

Soccer season ended for us with none of the kids going on to post season play...thank goodness, both from the perspective of having a few weeks off and from the perspective of having to deal with the EIYSA/EMSA/ASA/CSA politics of the last month!!!!

I decided to take a week off work, thinking that we might go away for a few days. I searched hard for a last minute deal to some beach, talked with D about going to visit relatives and finally decided to stay home and get some of the much needed work done in the yard and house. We had built two really great planters in the front yard earlier this summer, and have a miriad of projects thought of but not started. So, this would be our week to do them.

Meanwhile, an opportunity arose to have Colin travel to Germany and try out/train with some German programs. Details were sketchy and ultimately we made a leap of faith that the risk was worth giving him this opportunity. It all came together such that he left on Tuesday this week for an as yet to be determined amount of time. So, we spent Sunday preparing for his 'going away party', Monday running last minute errands for him, Tuesday sending him away and kind of getting used to the whole idea. He is near Dusseldorf, starts training Monday, is a bit homesick and struggling with the time change, but I am sure he is up to this challenge and will give it his very best shot. We are a bit torn on this, because of course we want him to do very well. However, that could result in him not coming home for a while. His brother and sister are lining up to claim his room - just what Alex needs - more space to make a mess in.

So we got the second planter filled with soil and plants Wednesday, all laundry out of Alex's room and the first dent into the storage room clean up yesterday. D and Rob built the 'path to no where' as well - the first installment in D's Grand Plan for a large patio with stone wall on the east side of the yard. Today, D put drywall and window trim up in the office; first step to finishing the office/buying a Mac for me. And I mostly finished a task I've been procrastinating on for at least a year - cleaning out the back basement storage room. This is part of my Grand Plan to finish the basement renovation by moving laundry and bath to the east side of the house, opening the center up and making it a large games room with wet bar. I have one more major clean out in the basement - the former bathroom needs to be emptied too. Oh, and then there is also Alex's room - we need to come up with an alternative to his system of piling his clean clothes onto his dresser, or on the floor.

And school starts up in another week, too!

Like I said, an eventful couple of weeks.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The 'Comfort' (aka granny) bike

I bought a new bike a couple of weekends ago. Riding my previous bike really bothered me - my hands, my shoulders and my seat all grumbled and complained and so I just didn't ride. So this one has a much more upright posture to it (higher handle bars allowing me to sit straighter) and a great big wide seat! Looks dorky, but I can ride it.

I got to a point recently where I just had to say no to bigger size clothes, had to drop some pounds and gain back some fitness.

So, thanks to an inspirational thread on dgrin, I've been paying really close attention to what I eat, and I've been riding a bit. Our first big ride was in midday sun on a splendid 29C day. We headed south through Windermere and made it all the way to 41 Avenue SW. It turns out that is an 8km ride, one way. It was great, and although my knees complained along the route, I was fine the next day.

This weekend, we rode through Terwillegar town to the top of Rabbit Hill - what a great view those homeowners will have. Then today we rode to 41 Avenue again. I was 'don' by the end of our ride today - but then again, we decided to finish it with a ride aroudn the crescent and the hill got me. And I worked for 6 hours doing hockey photos today too.

And, as far as following the vegan diet recommended by the thread on dgrin, I'm not strictly. I am just trying to really eat way more fruit and veggies and grains than meat, making sure meat is less than 10% of my overall diet, and the meat that is included is fish or extra lean, avoiding all processed food and fast food and overall trying to be cognisant of what I eat. And it seems to be working. Maybe I will have the same success that some fellow grinners are having.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Boy time flies

The U20s are over and Argentina (YAY) have won. Too bad the final was in T.O. Would have really enjoyed that, but as it was I enjoyed those games that were here.

Colin and Randy helped to build the first of the planters in the front yard, and I was able to fill it (almost) with perennials from the yard. Bought a few extras from Hole's yesterday.

We are having a wonderous summer thunder storm right now - lots of lightening, thunder and rain!

For an update on the ASA ruling, look to the EIYSA homepage. They have links to the documents in circulation right now. I really do hope that change is coming. I do. But I believe that this will require critical mass from the soccer community and a show of support (force?) to the ASA. I do hope that someone out there cares and has the free energy to spearhead this. I wouldn't mind being involved, but right now I am still recovering from the financial affects of loosing a business and just cannot spare the time.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Summer in the City

So, it's been a busy few weeks. Last weekend the boys were in a tournament, so lots of shots to get processed. I also had an allergic reaction to bug bites again. Had about a dozen bites total and thought I had the flu - chills, really severe cramping, dawned on me two days in that I was feeling like I did in the Dominican. So, I started treating the symptoms like an allergy, and they went away.

The FIFA U20 World Cup is here, and we've been to see three games so far. Good soccer, great to be outside on a beautiful summer night. As I mentioned at work, I usually have to pay thousands of dollars to sit outside and sweat - last night I got to do this in my town! (it was plus 33C). I am looking forward to the rest of the games, despite Canada's poor showing so far.

The flower garden is showing nicely, and I'd really like to get the front yard done this month. First step is to hire a bobcat and possibly a crew to put in the pathways. Then a few flowerbeds and some perrenials, a fountain and a bench. I can visualize it all - now to make it happen.

A few weeks ago the Alberta Soccer Association held their AGM. They made a ruling (after something like 10 years of not bothering) about EIYSA/EMSA and their right to send teams to Provincials. Making a decision is a good thing. Leadership can be a good thing. However, this decision is being applied to the current, in progress season. It affects this seasons provincials, after at least a thrid of the games are finished. The decision is to eliminate playdowns and send one team from each organization to Privincials. It affects the second place team from each league in that they no longer have the ability to play for the opportunity to go to provincials.
I say, Bravo, for finally making a decision. I have a REAL PROBLEM with having the decision affect the current playing season. I also understand the underlying politics, and they are not pretty. The only potential, and yet to be determined, upside, is the possible outcome of one soccer organization in Edmonton. In order for this to be a positive outcome, the executive/admin of both leagues would need to resign and allow a whole new set of volunteers (and paid admin) to come in.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Grade nine grad

Tonight. Katie is gorgeous....really! I let her get her hair done, her girlfriend came over and did her makeup. She is wearing a really cute black party dress. I took the two of them outside to have photos. Beautiful. You would never know they are 15 and 17. Unless you were here right now, watching them play Wii in their party dresses! :-)

I am totally opposed to the ball gown and limo thing that I saw some of the girls do for Colin's grad. But every little girl needs to be a princess every once in a while. And tonight is her night. By Sunday, she'll be dishing it out on the soccer pitch once again, and this little moment of beautiful femininity will be but a memory.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Perfect Weekend (and an update on the banned coaches)

This is how it has been so far:
1. Yesterday was an 'earned day off' for me, so after dropping the boys at the bus to the tournament in Saskatoon, I spent an hour visiting my mom, went downtown to get folios for soccer photos and got the info I needed about printing trader cards, and then went to my favorite greenhouse (actually, I love all greenhouses, but Holes is truly my fave) for bedding plants.
2. The girls played a pretty darned good soccer game against a very physical team and ended up tying it.
3. I spent the first half of my day working on the T & I photos (ready to go to print), planting my bedding plants, doing some general yard clean up and working up a sweat, as it is a glorious, hot weekend. Did a bit of kid driving too.
4. The girls played another good game and came away with a decisive win this afternoon.
5. I finished the vacuuming and the bathroom cleaning.

And just at dusk, a really large porcupine walked into the yard. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he is not eating my new, beautiful bedding plants!
The yard, and most neighborhoods, smell amazing right now. Flowering fruit trees are in bloom,
lilacs are in bloom, there is an amazing feast for the senses happening.

Last night, at 3:45 a.m., a young coyote howled and I swear it was right under my bedroom window! So as I sit here now and listen to the hum of the traffic on Henday, I recognize that it is background hum, and that the wildlife and stars and tranquility are here still. They have changed, and will change again, but can still be enjoyed. I know that this noise is different than the noise and light pollution of 225.

FWIW, the EMSA admin has decided that Dale and Tim have no grounds for appeal. So, they have spent their $ to have a voice and have been shut out once again. If, by chance, you read this and have children playing soccer on an EMSA based team, I urge you to ask questions, think about how your registration fees are spent and about how the soccer experience for your child should be. It is time for a change; unfortunately there is no means of voting with your feet in this case. There is no alternative to EMSA if your child plays community soccer. Realize that Mario Charpentier, President of EMSA, is also a paid administrator. Read the bylaws, look to see if petitions or plebiscites are available to you. Ask how many years each of the zone directors has been involved. Ask if maybe some new perspectives are needed. Find some means of generating a change of guard at EMSA. Then maybe the whole soccer hierarchy in Edmonton can be changed as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Photo challenges and Pests

The deadline is fast approaching, especially since I have a very busy weekend shooting team photos coming up. I have been shooting a bit - a few soccer games, shots through the day Sunday while doing yard work, tried to find the perfect barn against dramatic sky Monday morning, but I just don't have a great shot yet. And I have not been inspired by any subject to set a shot up yet. I don't mind entering last minute, I just need to be careful to leave myself enough time to analyse and edit the dang thing!

The U18 boys did well in Tacoma, with two wins and two ties. There is lots of talent on that team, and I wish them all success in finding their place in the soccer world.

We did a bunch of yardwork on the weekend. It felt so good to do physical labour. (I really miss that in my current job.) I still need to plant seeds, and buy annuals for flower pots. It came very close to freezing last night, so I am glad I didn't have too much stuff in the ground yet. And then there are the big landscaping jobs to be done - putting the front yard back together, replacing decking front and back, putting in flower beds in the back, the list could be endless if our bank account were.

Still no information from EMSA for those coaches that appealed the banning - they paid their $ for the privilege of being ignored! Not surprised, just saddened I guess.

Anyway, hoping that the photography inspiration bug will bite, or the perfect sunset happens right in front of me! And speaking of bug bites - if you are heading to my town, bring your mosquito spray. The mosquitoes are overly abundant and ferocious. Between mosquitoes, potholes and road construction, Edmonton is not a very inviting city this year.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Goalie

Goalies are a special breed. At least that is what I've been told. So why is it that I have 2?!! Goalies are either the hero or the goat - there is no middle ground.

Colin has played goal since forever. He is both technically competent (or proficient - he is in the NTC program) and mentally competent. He can accept his strengths and weaknesses, and both do what is necessary to finish the game and accept his own shortcomings. I have come to accept him as goalie, and look forward to him playing the position. I used to dread games where he played goal - partly because it is such an unforgiving position- now I look forward to that spectacular save.

So, the other night, Colin played striker for his team.

He has not really had this opportunity since U14. I was once again the uncomfortable parent, watching him play a position that he hasn't trained for in years. Bu it was kind of fun. and he did alright.

He is at a scouting tournament in Tacoma right now. I hope that he plays goal. And I hope he impresses he right person by doing so. He has never had any other passion. He has never wavered from the goal of continuing to play soccer. He has worked hard to get where he is, and shown great dedication. I hope that this effort pays off for him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


This evening I found a quarter with an ookpik on the "tails" side. This brought back a flood of childhood memories, including my 'ookpik' boots, and time in Yorkton. I also was reminded of mispronounced words from childhood(s) - my own, my sister, my kids...Shalame was my word for elephant, dadoo was Colin's word for Cookie Monster. Funny how a simple image and a quiet moment can result in such free flowing thoughts.

And then I had a completely different thought. I'd spent a lot of time trying to come up with a name for my photography business, something unique, something other than just my name. Well, Ookpik might be it. It is Canadian, it is unique, it has a personal meaning to me. So, maybe I should call the photo business Ookpik photography. I see there is another blog called Ookpik's Negativity.

So another 'word' that is unique to me is 'shalame'. Maybe Shalame photography works?

Hmm, so what do you think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Last Photographer Standing

Well the semifinal contest time has come. Those of us that made it as final 10 in each of the first 5 rounds of this complex contest now have to enter a new shot within this two week period, fresh, without a theme. Best 10 shots, as chosen by a panel, win prizes and go on to compete in the final at some later date.

So I am trying to figure out strategy: Should I just shoot a lot, shoot each sports event, all opps in the garden, every sunset I come across?
Should I think hard about what kind of shot to set up?
Should I look through my galleries to figure out what my best shots have been and try to recreate that?
Should I go on a special road trip to find that perfect landscape?
This is going to be tough. Lots of the other contestants are accomplished at 'creating' shots, be it still lifes or portraits. This is not my typical style, although I have had some success when I've tried that.

It is certainly going to be an interesting and challenging week. Luckily, we have a very quiet weekend coming up. Unluckily, there is rain in the forecast.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

HeHeHe! Let me be the first to say it!

Today, the alarm went off at 6 a.m. This is because I did my first freelance photography shoot today. Several months ago, when I was looking for work, I answered an ad from an event photog in B.C., looking for shooters. He kept my info and contacted me about a month ago. I agreed to shoot a road race for him today. Really interesting process - paid me and another photog hourly, he provided cards which we filled and couriered back to him. I am curious as to how the photos will turn out. The job was to get one shot per participant at the finish line. 10K and 5 k run & walk. 1700 registered participants! I can't confirm the results, but think they were pretty good, from the bit of chimping I did.
Weather was great, so that made things easy and enjoyable. Sitting at the finish line, watching families cross together, did make me think that maybe that would be something for us to do next year. We could certainly manage a 5 K walk. Now I need to sort out if I will do it again.

Finished that up at just past 11 a.m. and headed home. Stopped at Fresh Start Bakery and bought myself some pastries. Walked in to the house and it is all spic and span. So the dh did the house cleaning while I was out shooting. That is a great present for me.

Yesterday we were out being kid taxi all day long. CBs team played at 5, and due to player injuries, he played as an out player. First time in a very long time that he has had field play. It was fun to watch.

The sunshine, after all that rain, is really bringing the garden to life. Mom and dad's neighbors tulips are blooming, ours are just barely budding. Will spend some time mucking out there this afternoon, and with luck spend a whole weekend next weekend, whipping things into shape.

Friday, May 11, 2007

White Knuckles, Grey Hair!!!!

Colin drove to and from his practice tonight - about 40 km each way, across the Henday, through traffic, at rush hour. OMG, it was sphincter tightening to say the least. Going to, traffic was very heavy and stop/go/bumper to bumper in some places. Coming home was not as difficult. He did very well, but has three main things he needs to do better: manage the brakes, his speed when cornering, and his shoulder checking.

Shoulder checking has gone from NOT to a full out Look ALL the way behind me (picture an owl turning its head) while travelling 100kmh and not keeping an eye forward......

Slowing dwn for the turn happens AFTER the turn is complete.

And coming to a full stop doesn't happen until just before the welding of bumpers.

But he has to practice and he IS getting better.

While he was at practice, I had some camera time. I found the access to the river in St. Albert - the Sturgeon River - and it has a lovely walking trail, bridges, trees just leafing out and all kinds of water wildlife. I was able to shoot a couple species of ducks, and the most cooperative beaver!

On the drive home, there were a pair of juvenile moose in a field by 137 Avenue. No room to stop, but a really cool sight. There were also flocks of very large birds flying north - I didn't get a really good look but I have a feeling they were birds of prey, maybe eagles. And finally, as we crossed onto Terwillegar, there was a really spectacular sunset going on.

So, despite the grey hair and white knuckles, I had a pretty good evening.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Latent Tree Hugger

Thinking a bit about recycling in terms of the results of our bottle drive this weekend

Our collection totals were:
Pop cans :10816
Beer cans: 3096
<1l plastic bottles: 6549
<1l glass bottles: 2220
>1l plastic bottles: 1046
>1l glass bottles: 72
>1l tetra containers: 832
<1l tetra containers: 1320
'cooler' bottles: 1296
beer bottles: 2472

The one stat there that sticks out for me is the 6500 under 1 litre plastic bottles - I sorted most of those, and they were primarily bottled water bottles. This totals 22% of all of the collected containers - for drinking water readily available to us in our kitchens. I happen to buy bottled water so I contribute to this issue, but I only do so if I am away from work, where I drink tap water. At home, sad to say, we drink water from a water cooler. This is a direct result of not really being sure of the quality of our cistern. In any case, bottled water is a bad environmental choice. I guess I will need to think twice about opening a bottle of water rather than drinking the tap water.

The latent tree hugger in me gets agitated when I see construction crews plowing through tree stands. Tonight, as I was leaving to get CB to his game, a large piece of machinery was starting work on the west side of 170 street. It had just plowed through the trees. Now I know that these are just scrubby poplars and cotoneasters, but they are also home to nesting birds, small rodents, perhaps Spike's relatives, and whatever else is breeding right now in Edmonton. I find it really annoying that this machine operator chose to blast through the tree stand rather than go around it.

I am not opposed to the development of my neighborhood, not a nimby at all, but I do wish that it could be done with a modicum of respect for the existing residents (not necessarily the human ones0 and the environment.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Of Friends

I have had a day full of friends. The younger boys soccer team held a bottle drive today. It was a great success. We sorted the bottles on the driveway here - a lot of work, not without it's frustrations, but this is such a great group of families that it was fun. The boys did really well, too, with both collecting and with helping to sort afterward.
I was really worried about the drive. It has rained almost all week, with very heavy rain all day yesterday. Then, when we woke up this morning, there was snow on the ground! Just a skif, but snow none the less. No one really knew what to expect from the weather at the beginning of the day. The rain had stopped though, and the sky gradually cleared up. The sun came out in the afternoon, and it was quite pleasant.
The collecting went so well that we ended up having to sort several hours after we stopped collecting. All the families pitched in and got the job done, and the team did very well as a result. And I think we all had fun doing this.

This is why being part of a community is such a great thing.

Of course, the other community that I belong to is the photography community that hangs out at DGrin
Sadly, today, a wonderful member of that community passed away. Ginger Jones was a passionate photographer, and produced lovely images with a marvelous dreamy quality. She was an active participant in the forum, and she will be missed.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Garden Clean Up

So I spent several hours getting rid of dead branches on the big dogwood and the lilac in the front yard. These are tasks that I put on the to do list last summer, for early spring when the interior old growth would be accessible. So I really feel I've accomplished something today. And the muscles necessary for pruning, reaching, bending all feel like they have accomplished something today too. Wonder how I'll feel tomorrow!!!

Macro Photography & Garden Photography

I love the garden. It provides so many opportunities for observing and capturing natural settings and beautiful scenes. Our garden here isn't nearly as developed and lush with flower beds as our past garden. I also haven't really figured out how to do great macros with my Canon equipment yet. The 100mm macro is pretty high on my wish list.
I just participated in a thread at dpreview about lucky shots - and a couple of the ones that I chose were garden macros. A pair of mating spiders, dew drops on the whirls of a mallow blossom.

A reminder of how much I used to shoot in my garden, and how I should get out there and shoot some more.

I came across a site with some truly inspirational garden macro photography recently, MacroArtInNature
There is really beautiful work there, and technical discussion. I suspect I will visit it often.

The problem for me though is that garden season here happens to coincide with soccer season, and my time to do both is limited. I know there are some cool photos from last summer, not yet edited, on my hard drive.

So, here is to a great summer and a great season of garden photography.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

LPS 4: Symbiosis

So I have entered the following shot into the DGrin contest Last Photographer Standing 4:

I, of course, struggled with time to photograph something appropriate. Had wanted to go tothe farmers market today, but I just had too much driving and other stuff to get there. Not sure I'd manage to take a 'street shot' anyway. And come to think of it, what would a farmers market in Edmonton sell in April, that would say 'organic'.

So I entered this one - shot it on Tuesday evening around sundown. I like it. I will certainly include it into my study of tree textures.

Today was a great wildlife day in the yard. Started with a Hairy Woodpecker at the suet feeder this morning. Tonight, a porcupine was wandering around the yard. We aren't sure - but it looks too big to be Spike. Haven't seen Spike for several days. As well, on the very top of one of the poplars in the forest, I spotted the silhouette of the owl. And that is why I live in the middle of no where.......

EMSA Discipline Again

EMSA has posted another letter on their homepage, justifying their actions in this matter. Apparently it is okay to invite people to a hearing to discuss their fate, change the time of the hearing and notify them post hearing of the result. In order to put up any kind of defense, EMSA is charging these people $125 each.

This matter will be discussed today, Saturday, on CFRN 1260 by Soccer Steve

Another body to express opinions on this to would be the Edmonton Sport Council

As well, all meetings of SWEMSA and of EMSA must be open to members, and as a fee paying parent, you are a member. SWEMSA is having a board meeting Sunday night. Of course, they are not advertising this right now, so I cannot be sure that it is at the Derrick at 7, but that is my guess.

I've been thinking that it may be worth moving these items to a blog of their own. I've been tracking hits and several have come from people searching for information about these suspensions. I wonder if this will be the issue that finally gets enough support from the general membership of youth soccer in Edmonton to affect change.

I do hope so. I believed, years ago when I first heard about the issues between leagues, that the issue would outlive my kids soccer playing time. I hope I am wrong.

Anyway, I have photos to take!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stranger and Stranger

There has been a great deal of publicity surrounding the suspension of these 4 soccer coahes - lots of media coverage, a planned rally in the parking lot of the meeting facility, letter writing.

Well here is the result - a letter cancelling the meeting:
6250 Roper Road Telephone: (780) 413-EMSA (3672)
Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3K8 Fax: (780) 490-1652
Affiliated With: Alberta Soccer Association
Canadian Soccer Association Internet Home Page:
April 24, 2007
Mr. Daryl Burd

Mr. Burd,
Effective immediately you, Tim Simpson, are suspended indefinitely from all EMSA related
soccer activities.
Our original invitation for a meeting to discuss your situation is formally withdrawn. The
invitation was intended to prove our intent to go above and beyond the requirements of the
EMSA rules and regulations to resolve the situation.
The discipline committee meeting of April 24, 2007 at 2:00 PM unanimously agreed to cancel
the discipline meeting due to:
• Recent actions are detrimental to the EMSA as per our Bylaw Article 4 Section #13:
“Any Member who, through their actions or behavior, violates any Bylaw, Rule or
Regulation, in part or in whole or who is acting in a manner detrimental to the objectives
of the Association, may be:
b) Suspended for a period of time as determined by a decision of any Discipline
Committee or Board of the Association.”
• EMSA Rule #505.2 – Coach / Director Conflict of Interest
“If the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) becomes aware that one of its
coaches or directors has moved to any other local minor soccer organization as a coach,
assistant coach, manager or director, it shall immediately notify the individual in
writing that he is suspended indefinitely from all related EMSA soccer activities.
The individual has the right to appeal as per EMSA Rules and Regulations.”
To appeal the suspension you must submit a written request to the EMSA Discipline
Committee. The appeal must be received in writing by the EMSA office and include the
grounds for appeal, within 72 hours of this written notification being sent out (excluding
Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) and must be accompanied by a certified cheque or
money order in the amount of $125.00. These funds will be forfeited if the decision is upheld.
The EMSA Discipline Committee

Notice that the author of this letter did not even bother to change the text to match the recipient's name.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on the Banning

Just a quick note because it is way past my bedtime.

EMSA has posted 3 letters discussing the Spark issue:

You can see them on the EMSA Homepage.

The one thing that has struck me tonight is that instead of a thank you gift or a years of service plaque (or whatever it is that proper manners would deem appropriate for a volunteer that is moving on after a dozen years of service- even a mug of beer would do!), Daryl is being "disciplined".

There is a point in the letter from the SWEMSA president posted on the EMSA homepage that really stands out for me. It reads:"EMSA and SWEMSA firmly stand behind all of their coaches and volunteers for their tremendous work in organizing community soccer." This is clearly not true.

What this whole episode is screaming to all parents of children playing minor soccer in Edmonton is 'don't spend your precious time volunteering for your kids'. What it should be screaming at them is 'it is time to change the administration of minor soccer in Edmonton'.

There, that's off my chest. I can go to sleep now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

EMSA Disciplinary Actions

Last week, the dh and three other coaches received notice of disciplinary action by the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association. The root of the disciplinary action is having broken this bylaw:

A recent addition to the EMSA Bylaws, from the EMSA AGM of February 28, 2007; ITEM #22

Rule 505.2 - Coach/Director Conflict of Interest (New Rule)
If the Edmonton Minor Soccer Association (EMSA) becomes aware that one of its coaches or directors has moved to any other local minor soccer organization as a coach, assistant coach, manager or director, it shall immediately notify the individual in writing that he is suspended
indefinitely from all related EMSA soccer activities. The individual has the right to appeal as per EMSA Rules and Regulations.

So the upshot of this bylaw is that you cannot coach for Edmonton Minor Soccer if you coach for EIYSA (Edmonton Interdistrict Youth Soccer Association). Anyone familiar with youth soccer in Edmonton knows how extremely disfunctional it is. Despite all of the involved organizations having a mandate to provide the best soccer experience possible for all kids, they fail. The underlying cause and history to this all is far to lengthy to go into here. What I would like to present here is the history of the dh's involvement in youth soccer in southwest Edmonton,a history that encompasses 12 years of volunteerism, working to promote a love for soccer among young people, motivated by the desire to make sure that all players had every opportunity to play at the level that they wanted to play at.

Daryl first started coaching Colin at U5. He coached Katie at U4. He continued to coach all three of them through their first years of playing the sport and is still helping by being assistant on Alex's U14 team. During the early years, Daryl not only coached but volunteered on the board of Riverbend Soccer. He was a director, and the U10 girls coordinator at the same time that he coached at least one team. One year he was coach, the U10 girls coordinator and the U8 coordinator. He moved from the Riverbend board to the SWEMSA board. He moved from coaching Katie at community to competitive soccer, by becoming a Sting coach. As our kids stayed interested and moved to play at a more competitive level, he moved with them, and he eventually became chair of the Sting program.
In the early years with Sting, the program suffered from past years without leadership, no common vision, no real sense of being an actual organized competitive program; it suffered from a complete lack of volunteers. A very small number of people looked after a large number of tasks, and there was much work to be done.
About the time that Alex started playing U10 competitive, Dale McNeely introduced himself to Daryl. Dale has a long, long history with sport. He has background knowledge of national level competitive sport through his participation in gymnastics. Dale was unhappy with the soccer experience that his children were having and wanted to get involved to make the programs better. Dale shares the same vision of providing kids with the best experience possible, to play at the appropriate level, for as long as possible, that Daryl has.
Dale and Daryl and a group of other volunteers spent a great deal of time and effort making improvements to the organization that their kids played for: specifically the Sting program of SW Edmonton, a member program of EMSA. Hours and hours of effort to reorganize the program. The Sting program has thrived under their influence.
Unfortunately, these remedies were only local. Overall the competitive programs in Edmonton still compete for players, lack the same vision of providing great experiences for all players top to bottom, and ultimately do not provide an equal opportunity for individual players to advance technically or through the more elite programs such as the select program at ASA.
EMSA had tried to set up a program to directly compete with EIYSA at Tier 1 and Tier 2; however EMSA really did not have the full backing of their membership and, despite efforts from organizations like Sting to put together properly tiered teams, this initiative floundered.
Dale and Daryl both have sons on the same U14 boys team. That team played in EMSA outdoor 2006. The team went undefeated, and unchallenged. Finishing first in their league won them the opportunity to go to EIYSA-EMSA playdowns to play for the privilege of moving on to provincial championships. They got spanked by the EIYSA teams. This really solidified a decision for Dale and Daryl - for the sake of the players on that team looking for the highest level of competition, and thus the best opportunity to improve, the team needed to change leagues. So, for fall 2006 that team moved to EIYSA as a Scottish United team.
About the same time, three SW Edmonton soccer programs decided that if the governing organizations could not put together a program that allowed kids to move between levels, depending on their development at any given season, the programs could cooperate to help this happen. The programs were Sting, Spark and Scottish. Unfortunately, the governing bodies could not see the way to allow this to happen.
Dale continued to be the chair of the Sting program, as he still had a child playing at Sting. Daryl remained in a more or less informal advisory capacity as he had had such a long history with the program. Daryl performed more volunteer activities for the two organizations, booking and organizing practice facilities for them, organizing outside technical training for both programs, and continued to act as assistant coach on the boys team. Our daughter continued to play in the Sting program that season as well.
If you know volunteer organizations, you know that volunteers are few and far between. Volunteers that spend over 10 years working for the betterment of the program, for their own children to be sure, but also for the benefit of all of the children in the program, are a rare breed. Daryl has done this from his heart, because he loves coaching, he loves soccer and, despite the s&a, he has enjoyed his involvement in this. We have made many dear friends through soccer. I once read that you could tell the coaches house - it was the one where the lawn wasn't perfect. Spending this many hours on volunteering has to be because you enjoy what you are doing, because other things do get left undone.
He came home from helping with tryouts this season - he had helped work on the field with a group of U10 girls - and said 'they are so darned cute, I almost volunteered to coach them!' Only someone that truly loves coaching would say this!

If EMSA is successful in banning Daryl, Dale and the other two coaches, they will be doing the Edmonton soccer community a great disservice. Banning committed volunteers is truly shooting oneself in the foot. These men won't stop working with soccer players, they won't stop committing hours to soccer programs, they just won't be able to do so for EMSA any longer! From our point of view, this is not necessarily a bad thing. All three kids now play in EIYSA so we won't be stopped from volunteering for our kids if we cannot volunteer for EMSA. Being forced out of volunteering frees up hours for other things. But, being disciplined based on decisions to volunteer for two volunteer based organizations at the same time, implemented through a retroactive bylaw, is just wrong.

Today's Fitness

Hmmm, when I feel worse upon waking up than I do during the day, I know I need to do something about it. My back just aches like crazy these days - back, hips, back, hips. Only one solution and that is to get rid of this excess strain on my joints.
So this morning included a brief workout: elliptical trainer, bowflex biceps, elliptical trainer, bowflex legs, etc......I figured that the interjected aerobic exercise might help out. Then I had to give CB a lift to a teammates.
We are doing some spring cleaning outside. It is a really dull day, but calm and about 5C, so not unpleasant. So I am picking the garbage on the driveway left by 'the dog was in the garbage again' and by the roofers: little tiny pieces of tar paper, insulation, plastic wrap. And dh has been emptying the garage, which unfortunately (but not surprisingly) flooded this spring, so there is lots of soggy cardboard to deal with.
Anyway, shoveling dropped leaves and pine needles raking, bending and probably pruning count for physical activity. And, honestly, this kind of spring cleaning I enjoy. Give me days of yardwork over hours of housework!! and I will be a happy camper. My farming heritage, I guess.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Student Driver!

After months (and months and months) of prodding, our oldest has got his learners permit. He is almost 17 - so he has been eligible for this for 2 1/2 years. In fact, his younger sister has had her permit since 3 days past her 14th birthday. The snow is (mostly) gone, so we have been letting the two of them practice driving - on real streets with real traffic. Last summer, I would only let our daughter drive on quiet country lanes. I foresee lots of held breath, lots of 'slow down' or 'speed up', and lots (and lots and lots) of slamming that phantom brake on the passenger side. Things like adjusting mirrors, managing signal lights and headlights, and (gulp!) shoulder checking are not second nature.
Our driveway is very long, and it is challenging to back off of. In fact, this past winter, two experienced adult drivers ended up in the ditch on the end of the drive. So this will be a great learning opportunity for the kids. I offered to get the van to the end of the drive for the boy, but he wasn't giving in - nope, he had started and no matter how many tree branches and reflectors he took out, he was going to finish it!
As much as we really would benefit from having a third driver in the household right now, I really felt that if he wasn't ready for the responsibility then he shouldn't be pushed into it. Some things are worth pushing, and others, like being responsible for a 2 tonne lethal weapon, just aren't. And driving the car is not the same as driving the ride on mower, after all!

The Dgrin shootout is about 5 months away. In fact, skippy says it is less than 150 sleeps until she leaves Oz to come to Edmonton! I really need to get into shape for this. I did a bit of prep for the 06 shootout, and suffered through the heat and climbing in Bryce. Then last September Ha Ling Peak in Canmore tried to kill me. The reality of my desk job is that I just do not get that base level of activity that I used to get. And the reality of our schedule for so much of the year is straight from work to soccer commitment to soccer commitment to.... with no real time for hitting the gym. Anyway, I am probably in the worst physical condition of my life and I need to change that by September. My joints, particularly my hips, ache all the time. This does not bode well for hiking the wilderness like I hope to do this fall. I will attempt to keep track of my training here, hopefully a public record will be a motivator. So, today we did a workout on the bowflex, primarily upper body stuff.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Soccer Mom with a Digicam

My first digital camera was the Sony DSC F707. If you are familiar with that camera at all, you will know that it was the highest end 'prosumer' camera available at the time. The 707 was a truly wonderful camera, and the closest that the average bear could get to a dslr at the time. I bought it, after doing 'research' in magazines and on line, because I thought it would allow me to take action shots of my kids playing soccer. That was in late 2000 or early 2001, when the kids were 10, 8 and 6!!!! The 707 was an amazing camera, and it actually did a decent job of taking action photos - outside, in good light, with the Olympus teleconvertor. But it did a decent job. I read photography forums, and sports photography forums and spent a lot of time learning the basics of good exposure, good composition, good sports shots. I was soooo proud of those photos, and worked very hard at being sure that they were more than snapshots. I shared them through my first on line web gallery, pbase, and was immensely offended when they were lifted without permission. I shared them on photography forums too, especially the Sony Talk Forum on dpreview. I got lots and lots of feedback, mostly good. I discovered a passion, and was driven to improve.

Looking back, the 707 probably wasn't the right tool for the job. It was very, very good, for the time and the price, but it wasn't a sports camera. It was, however, better than good at still life and macro photography. The swivel body and large lcd made getting the 'right angle' on insect or flower close ups a peice of cake. And it was exceptional as a teaching device. The feedback loop of digital photography, combined with the basic lessons of exposure and composition, makes learning fun and immediate and inexpensive. I took very many good photographs, including good sports photos, with that camera, and credit working with the 707 and wanting to progress at sports photography, to leading me to where I am now.

Which brings me to the title of todays post. I started as a soccer mom with a digicam - a label that I really, really resented when it was used to describe me by an 'old school' sports photographer. But, looking back, it fit. However, what I did with that digicam and the resources that I sought out to learn more about the art of photography, has led me to feel confident in my ability to get the shot, and to deliver product to paying customers. However, the fact that I have a dSLR is no longer unique. The option of shooting with a dSLR has become available to interested hobbyists, as shooting with the 707 opened the world to me. So I need, more than ever, to be able to deliver/provide a product that stands out - to get the shot that goes beyond a technically good photograph. Which, of course, gives me more fuel to stoke the fire of this passion.

I love photography. It is the one thing in my life of which I have control - I choose when, I choose what, I choose how long. It is an activity that I want to do alone, but share the results with everyone. It is an activity that I enjoy discussing - I love to talk gear, technique, result...anything photography. It is my passion. And I am still a soccer mom with a digital camera.

Interestingly, as Andy mentions in his comment, the NYT recently wrote about moms & cameras. One of the interviewees of the article has posted this

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Changing Neighborhood

We have lived in Windermere since July 2004. It has been an idyllic slice of rural living on the edge of the city and it has been wonderful. We have enjoyed many wildlife visits, a huge variety of birds, brighter night skies than neighborhoods just a few miles away. It has been wonderful.

As you've probably concluded, this is changing. Crews are working hard at getting services (water and sewer) into the farmers fields around us. Houses are going up like wildfire in the neighborhood on the east side of 170 Street where services were finished last summer.

So, there is ugly construction mess all around us. There is equipment, dirt piles, pipe, traffic, all of the things that go with development and building a new neighborhood.

The long term gain to all of this will be an increase to our property value, with city services to us and upscale homes built around us, an increase in local services such as grocery stores, and some new city amenities like walking trails and parks. All good things.

The price that we will pay, I am sure, is a loss of local wildlife and the quiet, sleepy community that we now enjoy. Another price will be light pollution.

We walked with Kelso for the whole length of Windermere Drive tonight - all the way to 4th Avenue. Along our way, we saw several Canada geese in the fields, glowing in the early evening light. Shoulda had the camera... On our way home, we saw 5 deer grazing in the field. They listened to us, and loped away as we got close - peered at s out of the tree stand. Seeing the deer got me thinking abut whether that particular tree stand would stay or go. And that got me thinking about my changing neighborhood.

Will we move because of the development? Not likely. Will it make our lifestyle better or worse? Probably some of each. Will it greatly affect our quality of life? I guess this will be the difficult question to answer. I love the quiet. I love the dark, dark night sky. I love the wildlife visits to my yard. How much these will change has yet to be seen. So, as my dad would say 'Only time will tell'.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Finally, it might be spring

Sign one is that there are robins around.

Sign two is the snow is mostly melted.

Sign three is that we have 11 soccer commitments this weekend!!!

It is the last NTC scouting weekend for Colin, the first goalie training sessions for Alex and the first team practice for Katie.

Yesterday evening I did my first set of basketball team photos, and it was a blast. They were a team of U14 girls and a real pleasure to shoot, very cooperative, very willing subjects. Sure made my job easy.

I'll be getting quite a bit of sport shooting done, but doubt that I will get an entry for LPS 3, although I did have a couple of ideas come to mind while driving downtown today. One is to shoot the corner of the city center mall, from an angle that includes the trolley lines- lots of right angles from an unusual angle might be 'irregular'.

The light at Clarke tonight was really, really nice for the first half of the game. Should have a few good shots to offer for the NTC Prairies web site.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Mauve Day

Way back when dh and I were looking to buy our first home, our realtor introduced us to the term 'menopause mauve'. She used this term to describe the decorating schemes typical of homes owned and decorated by middle aged women, back in the days before 'staging for sale' was the thing to do. I have adopted the term lately. Mauve days are days when I am agitated, emotional, generally out of sorts and it is all the fault of those damn hormones (or lack there of).

We woke up to fresh snow! (That is enough to throw anyone into the emotional dumps, and I'm no exception there.) We have had snow since very early October - that's more than six months folks! Enough already.

I took the camera to work with me (after all fresh snow should be good for something), hopeful that I'd find a LPS 3 entry en route. Nope. On the way home, I drove south through the farmland. Nothing really inspiring, although I did come across a driving range and picnic grounds under several inches of water. May go back when the sun is shining because there could be a shot there.

The highlight of my day was to notice Spike sitting on a bough of the spruce tree - about 15 feet up. A good wind would have blown him out. What possessed him to climb up the spruce tree and then sleep on a bough will be one of those great mysteries. In any case, he eventually climbed back down and ate the bread left out for the birds. (Yep, birds, cuz dh knows better than to feed the wildlife). Having Spike hang around has really been a good experience for all of us - we are all keenly interested in his well being and antics, and are learning things about a fellow creature that we would otherwise have no reason to even notice.

In many ways, this is what photography has done for me: Although I have always been a naturalist and paid attention to the world around me, photography has drawn me deeper into my surroundings, given me a reason to slow down and look, to focus on both the sweeping broad scene and the minute details within it. I am feeling the need for a photography fix. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the right inspiration.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Soccer Season Gears Up

How long has it been since provincials and tryouts? Two long weeks, I think. But as I sit down to update the calendar I realize it won't be very long at all before we are running all over the city from soccer event to soccer event. The off season, unfortunately, coincides with early spring (or fall), when the photo ops are few and far between and it is still too cold to garden in any significant way.

Our yard will need a lot of work this year. The new septic went in last September and it snowed so soon after that that we had no hope of doing any clean up or landscaping work. So, we have a thick layer of leaves on top of mud. And there is still lots of snow to go. I just hope that we can manage to get the landscaping done well, around all of the soccer things this summer. I am envisioning designing a garden that will lend itself to family and individual portraiture. I hope to include benches, pathways, and flower beds as backdrops, and if I do it right these will also be attractive to birds and butterflies!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What's a Sunday about, after all...

Today was a real 'do nothin' day. I spent some time in the early morning searching the yard for a LPS 3 entry. Maybe, maybe not. Will see what else I come up with over the week. I've put the possible shots here.
Did some general housekeeping, and some more fussing over my smugmug site. It is really coming along, but with each step forward I come up with a new thing to try. It may always be a work in progress. But, because of the wonderful help from the customizing forum on DGrin, I am really making progress with it.
Had ma & pa and nephew over for dinner....mmmmmm, ham. I love ham. DH hates ham. I feel the same way about turkey, so traditional holiday meals are either a trade off or whatever 'mom' makes!
Spike made an appearance. Katie, Kelso and I were out back. Kelso stopped at the spruce to check something out, and sure enough it was Spike, way underneath up against the trunk. He came out after we put the dog in the house. Got a few more shots of him. This evening he came out into the yard, and found apple pieces waiting for him. Ma and Pa were able to get a good look at him. I don't really believe the descriptions that say porcupines have a poor sense of smell. He seems really adept at sniffing out fruit.
Work tomorrow, and hopefully some t & I shots for a couple of basketball teams tomorrow evening.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Last Photographer Standing

is hosting a great photography contest that they are calling 'Last Photographer Standing'. The contest runs a year, with 50 two week long qualifying rounds. Each qualifying round has a pair of diverging themes to meet (pick one). Stakes are pretty big: over $25K USD in prizes. Details found here.
I have entered each of the first two rounds. I am also keeping a gallery of my trials and successes here. My entry in round one was chosen as a qualifier for the judging round.
So I find myself thinking about how to interpret the theme and get the shot all the time....This rounds themes are 'Irregular' or 'Picturesque". Well, if you've ever been to Edmonton in the early spring, you no picturesque isn't happening without a road trip.
I'm not sure I'll get a shot this time, but you can be sure I'll keep looking for the right one until the very last minute.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Spike has moved in

A few weeks ago, I saw a porcupine walking through my backyard. The porcupine climbed up the large poplar tree in our yard and had a nap. That evening he came down and started eating compost. Well, he has since chosen to hang out under the large skirt of branches on the blue spruce besides our back patio.
He has a wound on his rump, that seems to be healing well. I suspect that it is from an encounter with a coyote.
So far Kelso has managed to stay clear of him, but we are keeping a close eye on both the dog and the porcupine.
Spike has done a great job of cleaning up all the compost from the winter, and is now eating fresh apples and other garden scraps.