POTD - Black Bird Foe [animals]

I am hoping with the emergence of the corn and soybean crops (yes, I know they are still inches tall right now, but they'll grow fast) these black birds will migrate away from our yard.
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This guy, plus two more black birds have made a mess of my lovely water garden. Bird poop everywhere - on the pond rocks, on the lily pads, on the brick patio. I declared war on these flying rats over the weekend, spraying them with water and shoo-ing them away. They make the most annoying noises, too - no musical chirping out of their beaks - just this rough 'ha ha ha ha' - like a bark. Fortunately, when I hear the barking, I know they are close by, so I can go out and chase them with the garden spray.

As I head back to work, though, no one will be around to shoo them away. I hope I don't find a mess of bird cr*p splayed across the patio when I get home. Scott said he would buy a bb gun with a scope and take care of them - something to seriously consider.....

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154/365 - Punch Out

Nintendo continues its strategy to suck in the older generation of gamers with remakes of its games from the original Nintendo console days. Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, just to name a few. Their most recent remake - PunchOut, which was released on May 17, arrived at our house Friday afternoon and has been in play all weekend long.

Scott hasn't been able to knock the crown off King Hippo's Head, but he keeps trying:
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I remember Scott playing the original Nintendo version. It really hasn't changed much (from my vantage point - Scott would probably disagree), but it brings back memories of those past years.

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153/365 - Prairie Art

In keeping with the prairie theme, I thought I would share the cover of Brian's Prairie folder that came home from school today.

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Inside, I found information on the Buffalo, prairie grasses and flowers. Very educational. I found his observations on his science project (growing prairie grasses) very informative - his grass grew 8 1/2" tall.

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152/365 - On the Road

Several reasons why I keep my camera on hand in the car - you never know when you might want to take a picture! Yes, I do take pictures while driving, but I never take my eyes off the road - I simply place the camera to my right temple and hope the auto-focus gets something decent. Occasionally, I'll be stopped at a light, and then I will look through the viewfinder.

Taken in the morning, on the way to work. More prairie, more road, lots of blue sky and yesterday's first barn is on the left:
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With road work along Route 36, I started taking the back country roads to avoid single lane closures and delays. These are the county roads that are simply numbered based on the county's grid system - "N1200", for example.
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I was also in the car as the sun set tonight, coming home from Brian's baseball game (they lost tonight, but played a great game). I came upon the fiery ball as I hit the stop light at the corner of Kirby and Windsor. I whipped out the camera (it was in the passenger seat) and snapped the picture. A half mile down the road, the sun was gone - that's how fast the thing goes down.
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Do you notice the gorgeous landscape that surrounds you when you are driving? Take some time to notice passing elements - you never know what you might be missing.

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151/365 - Farms Enroute to Work

A couple of the numerous farms I pass every day on the way to work. I love their rugged and aged, vintage look. I wonder how many seasons they have seen, what stories their structures hold. They hold a deep connection to the earth and this fertile land - a bit of the past, present and future.

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POTD - Bear and His Popsicle

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Really - the red object in his paws is a Popsicle - a frozen treat with oranges embedded inside. It was treat time at the bear exhibit and we watched him play with and devour his popsicle.

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150/365 - Fields of Yellow

I find these fields of yellow intriguing and beautiful. In my daily drives around town, I pass by fields of corn stubble, fields of freshly plowed dirt, fields where tender shoots of corn are just coming up and these fields of yellow flowers. The yellow flowers paint a broad swath of color in the neutral landscape and even though they are essentially weeds in a field, with their sheer numbers - you can't miss them.

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The picture doesn't do them justice but I was happy just to have captured them - I shot the frame while driving back from Erica's horse riding lessons.

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POTD: Empire Penguin [animals]

I thought it this week's POTD theme (animals) would be a challenge until I remembered I had several un-edited photos from our trip in March to St Louis and the St Louis Zoo.

We really enjoyed the penguin exhibit with the regal Empire Penguin:
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149/365 - It's my Birthday!

42 years old.

Do my kids think my memory is starting to go bad in my old(er) age?
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made by Erica

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made by Brian

Regardless what they think, I LOVE their hand made presents. I do need to be reminded every now and then how to spell my name. And MOM upside down spells WOW!

I took several self portraits, but they were all SO bad. I'll try again in a couple of days. I need a haircut, so it will serve as a before picture (getting my hair chopped next week).

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POTD - Peonies

The peonies are now blooming and with the threat of rain looming, the uncut blooms may end up face down in the dirt, so I cut 4 stems for a little bouquet:

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I got to playing around with water droplets on the ruffly petals:
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148/365 - Memorial Day

Not too much to report about on our Memorial Day. I ran 6 miles. Scott washed the car. I planted the basil and rosemary plants I have been keeping in pots for the last 3 weeks. Then the rains came. A nice, gentle rain, just perfect for soaking into the yard.

Erica and I went shopping for the dreaded bathing suit. I'm not sure if there is anything more tortuous than shopping with a tween. She did end up with decent suit (although I haven't seen it on her - I'm just going by how it looks on the hanger), so I am glad that is over with for this year.

The basil I planted this morning - it is a little blurry - the winds kicked up this afternoon and it was downright cool today. Not complaining - I think low 70s is perfect.
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Hope you all had a relaxing Memorial Day, and remembered those who Served this Nation.

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147/365 - Tired Hannah

Today's slight "scare" and backstory to the picture.

We have been letting Hannah outside for short time durations. She normally sits by the birdfeeder, stalking the birds that visit it and the pond. Recently, however, she has ventured out more, probably into the neighbor's yards and bushes. This morning I let her out, but when we had to leave for church, she would not come back when called for. So we just left her "out and about" for 3 hours.

When we arrived back home, Erica walked around our yard, calling "Hannah, Hannah, Hannah". No Hannah. I made a round, with her food cup in hand, rattling it (when she hears it, she comes RUNNING), calling out her name. Still no Hannah. Erica was a bit distraught. I assured Erica that Hannah would come home eventually. After all, you can't knock free room and board. I know that hour without Hannah safe at home was very tough on Erica.

Then what happened? Oh, lunch time rolled around (11:30) and there was our adventurous kitty, waiting for some kibble. Erica scooped her up and scolded her a bit.

We could tell Hannah had a full morning of activity, because after lunch, this is what she did:
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Yeah, she pretty much slept the afternoon away. I don't think we need to worry too much about her running off.

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POTD - Newly emerging [flowers]

Summer-like weather has arrived, with copious sun, light breezes and temperatures in the mid-80s. The A/C has been turned on and the summer flowers have emerged. Just last week, the lilacs were in bloom and they have quickly withered.
What's blooming now?

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Japanese Iris

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Colorado water lily

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Another water lily (forgot its name)

Yet to come - the peonies:
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146/365 - Movie Day - Night at the Museum 2

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The power of marketing - the Easter Island statue - today's Happy Meal Toy.

  • "Dum, Dum, give me Gum, Gum"
  • Slapping monkeys.
  • Cameos by Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch (oh, and George Foreman, too).
  • Life size Abe Lincoln
  • Bobble head Einsteins (by the end of the movie, you'll know pi to 7 significant digits, too)
  • A group of Bad guys from the Smithsonian vs our old friends from NYC's
Just some of elements from the newly released Night at the Museum 2 - Battle of the Smithsonian.

A fun, family friendly movie that capped our day of mulch spreading, laundry and recitals. Yes, some of it is a bit contrived, but with gorgeous views of Washington, DC and the concept of bringing famous historical characters and art to life really makes the movie enjoyable. And it makes a visit to DC an absolute necessity next summer.

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145/365 - One Big Pile

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8 yards of mulch. A big pile in our driveway.

It's been 3 years since we put down mulch and our landscaping really suffered because of it. Weeds, grass encroachment and muddy dirt, just to name some of the ailments.

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Erica and I spent a couple hours this evening getting started on the pile, working to transfer the mulch from the driveway to the landscape beds. We got about half of the pile worked down. A three day weekend is the perfect time to get this done.

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POTD - Prairie Farm [around town]

Living along the prairie with the lush farmland, it is fitting that our little city runs a farm themed petting zoo. Just one of the "tourist attractions" in our area, the zoo will open this coming weekend.

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144/365 - Hey Batter, Batter

Yet another baseball game tonight. The last one this week. Different field tonight, which results in a slightly different shot at bat.

Brian managed to get on base 3 times. I think that makes for his most successful game so far this season.

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Before the game, I walked around the park grounds and snapped this "shadow silhouette" while crossing a bridge:
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POTD - Lake of the Woods [around town]

We are fortunate to have several nature preserves and parks close by. The Lake of the Woods covers almost 900 acres of land along the Sangamon River. I happened to be close by Tuesday evening, and sought out the covered bridge that I had seen in various photographs.
The covered bridge was built in 1965 and renovated in 1996. It is a popular backdrop for family and formal pictures (another woman was photographing her three children sitting in the bridge's "windows" while I was taking my pictures):
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Hopefully, I'll be able to drag my kids out there for a photo shoot sometime soon.

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143/365 - Seen at the Baseball Game

Another hectic evening at our house.
Erica had horse riding lessons - I dropped off, Scott picked up.
Brian had Baseball practice and then a game - I stayed the entire time, Scott arrived after picking up Erica.
Not a lot of options to squeeze in dinner - we ate some sandwiches at the game and afterwards at 8pm.

Next to the ball field is a petting zoo/farm that our city's park district runs. The farm will open this coming Memorial Day weekend and preparations for visitors is underway, with the stalls and grazing areas now occupied with sheep, goats, chickens and cows.
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Just a little diversion from the ball game, which, our team did win (now 3 in a row!)

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142/365 - Visit to Lake of the Woods

After my violin lesson today, I ventured into the Lake of the Woods forest preserve. What a nice way to end the hectic evening of practicing, cooking, lessons and TaeKwonDo. I ended up missing the American Idol Finals, but I know I can find recaps of all the performances without the commercial filler.

Hard to recreate this scene, though:
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POTD - Library [around town]

The new library in town made its debut in 2008 - the space is beautiful, with large windows, natural light and comfortable seating.

Yet, I rarely visit the library, mainly because of its location (yes, 10 minutes away is inconvenient for me and my hectic schedule) and the fact that our neighborhood is serviced by the library's Book Mobile once a week.

But alas, budget cuts made it necessary for the library to discontinue the Book Mobile service at the end of May, so I am starting to schedule in some time to visit the Main building.

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Part of the problem with the old library building - no big sign out front. Seriously, it looked like an old office building. Not an issue anymore. The space behind the sign houses a coffeeshop.

Special windows allow light to come in, but provide privacy. I thought the honeycomb textture was really cool, so I took pictures looking through the windows with the focus outside and then inside:
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141/365 - Minor hail damage

Looks like my hostas weren't the only leaves to suffer some damage during Friday's hail storm:

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Poor lily pad, all shredded. All of the lily pads look the same way. The silver lining? The flowers are starting to come up to the surface.

And the iris should be sending up some buds, soon:
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What's next to bloom in your garden?

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140/365 - More Legos! And a Birthday

Today is Scott's 42nd birthday, but as he has requested that we "not make a big deal about it", I only took one picture and it came out terrible (major back focus problem).
So instead, I present the alternative - Brian, again, piecing together his new Bionicle lego man. Or ship. Or both. All I know is this one is a big Bionicle (read - more $'s), with sections that move up and down, in and out.
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POTD: Tree canopy

This park runs adjacent to the middle and high schools, so I drive by it every morning. And every morning, I marvel at the row of trees. They are particularly beautiful with the golden morning sun hitting the green leaves, and in the fall, they turn a brilliant orange and yellow.

These were taken in the evening, before Brian's baseball game and before the big storms hit our area. Almost an eerie calm in the park, with no breeze and stagnant, humid air all around.

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139/365 - Smoke Bush

Buck and Jill have been rearranging their landscaping and decided they didn't want their Smoke Bush. So I inherited it and planted it today on one of the corners of the house. I had to transplant several purple coneflower plants (Echinacea purpurea) to make room for this burgundy leafed bush.

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The bush produces puffy flowers that resemble smoke puffs, so that's how it received its name.

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138/365 - Lightening, Thunder, Rain, Wind, Hail

Earlier in the evening, we were camped out at the baseball field - the game had just started when the black clouds started to roll in. Plop! A single fat rain drop hit my arm. I packed up my camera and chair just as the skies opened up and released a downpour. By the time I helped Brian gather up his things and retreated to the shelter of the car, I was drenched. Seriously - like I had taken a shower with my clothes on.

By the time we got back home, the skies seemed clear but then we heard the rumbles of thunder and the approaching clouds:
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The storm hit, and it seemed like another typical severe storm front passing through - all the normal elements: Thunder, lightening, wind, and torrential rain. Then the hail started falling - and hail hitting the house makes a lot of noise. The pea sized hail ripped up my hosta leaves, but didn't leave much more damage.
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I did get drenched one more time - on my way to book club at Jill's house, my backyard neighbor. I didn't anticipate the newly formed river running between our lots. Oh well, we all had a great time.

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137/365 - Favorite Greens

Today I took pictures to fulfill a challenge to take pictures of all things green - green being my favorite color.

With Spring in full force, it is not hard to spot all shades of green, and I sought to capture different hues - light, dark, forest, chartreuse, lime, just to name a few.

A few from the garden:
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The leaves of the cranesbill (flowers may be seen here).

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The parrots feather survived the winter in the pond.

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Variegated hosta

Then some pictures while I watched Brian's baseball game (unfortunately, they lost again, but Brian hit a single and a double while at bat).
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My favorite fizzy drink - lime, of course!

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Earphones tucked in my camera bag. Yes, I picked them because of the color!

All in all, another busy day. What's your favorite color? Challenge yourself to capture it in images.

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136/365 - Rain and More Rain

We knew we would receive some rain today, but not a complete deluge accompanied by thunderstorms and high winds. Normally, these types of storms develop in April.

We were all awakened by the rumbling of thunder around 6:30 (well, the kids were awakened - both adults had already showered and dressed when the first storm cell hit). At work, a power outage took down the manufacturing lines and computer systems - something I figured out when I logged in. The UPS (uninterruptable power supply) to the server room failed.

Several more storm cells passed through the area and when I drove home, the slough that runs through our subdivision was clearly swollen due to all the rain:
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To give you a comparison view, I took this picture from the same vantage point last August:


Proof of how much rain we received - 4" in our rain gauge.
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