Phun with Photoshop

Posted on 11/30/2011 05:01:00 PM In:
I could do this all day.




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Craters of the Moon

Posted on 11/28/2011 03:09:00 PM
This is my last set of photos from my trip to Idaho a few weeks ago.  When I was a kid, we used to go up here and camp during the summers... it's maybe one of my all-time favorite trips.  

The Craters of the Moon Lava Field spreads across 618 square miles (1,601 km2) and is the largest mostly Holocene-aged basaltic lava field in the lower 48 U.S. states. The Monument and Preserve contain more than 25 volcanic cones including outstanding examples of spatter cones. The 60 distinct lava flows that form the Craters of the Moon Lava Field range in age from 15,000 to just 2,000 years. The Kings Bowl and Wapi lava fields, both about 2,200 years old, are part of the National Preserve.

You can read more about the monument and preserve online if you want.  I won't reprint here what other websites have published except to say that Craters of the Moon National Monument was proclaimed on May 2, 1924 by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge to "preserve the unusual and weird volcanic formations."  For some reason, the fact that a sitting President of the U.S. referred to something as weird tickles me.  But the reality is I'm not sure there's a better word to describe this place.  Stark, barren, desolate and beautiful in its own way.  

I'm not really sure what else to say about it, so check out this photo essay.

I look out over this vista and wonder what people who were coming across the plains through all that grassland thought when they suddenly came across this.  It would be very difficult for a horse to move through a lot of this terrain and downright impossible for a wagon.

Though not a lot of animals live here, there always some who exploit the habitat for their own good.

Looking up from inside a giant lava tube.

Life always finds a way.

The monument has a paved trail which people can use to walk to many of the formations and ice caves.  Were it not for this trail, I'm convinced the Parks Service could open a side business treating broken ankles.  As it was, a school group had gotten there ahead of us and we watched three adults carrying three different kids back to the parking lot because they'd each fallen and gotten hurt.  There's some cool climbing here, but it's brutal for those who don't respect mother nature.

Love this grass being blown by the wind.

Dead tree near lava formation. 

This is why the Oregon Trail travelers in the 1850s and 1860s followed an alternate route in the area that used old Indian trails that skirted the lava flows. Just try getting a horse to accept going through that.

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T-Day Roundup

Posted on 11/27/2011 06:14:00 AM
I have a bit of a problem with Thanksgiving each year.  I do this big conference which is a lot of work and gets me home just a couple of days before Thanksgiving feeling brain dead and spent.  We had some very nice people invite us over for dinner this year on the theory that right after my conference I'd maybe like to not have to cook.  As kindly as I could, I turned them down flat.  It's not that I don't like the people who invited us.  It's not even that I wouldn't want to go under other circumstances.  But here's the thing:  I don't really mind cooking on Thanksgiving.  It's kind of easy and domestic and relaxing and food doesn't yell at you because the font in the program was too small for it to read.  No, I don't mind the cooking at all.  What I can't really do while I'm recovering from conference PTSD is the being in a room full of people and the making small talk and the being social and really anything more than curling up in a ball on the couch in my underwear as a coping mechanism to avoid human contact.

So Thanksgiving weekend, more often than not, is the day we just lie around and do nothing. Literally.  And since we didn't get back in town until Tuesday afternoon this year, I didn't even have ganas go to the grocery store for food before Thanksgiving Day.  Instead, I decided to make dinner from only items I could find in my house.  

I made a turkey brine (we already had a turkey in the freezer) from fresh herbs harvested from the herb garden in the back yard and stuff I found in the pantry.  


And someone had given us a big bag of chestnuts the previous week so I used that to make a chestnut stuffing that would make you weep, it was so good. 


I did have The KingofHearts pick up some fresh broccoli since, having been out of town for a week, we were out of milk and he agreed to go get that on his way home from work.  But I had frozen broccoli and was prepared to use it.  I used few recipes because each one would have highlighted some major ingredient I didn't have stocked and instead I just stood in the kitchen, winging it while they watched the Macy's parade in the other room.  It was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. The only problem with all this making up recipes on the spot, is I have no clue what I put in it and I'm quite confident I'll never be able to duplicate it again.  So the story of the chestnut stuffing will be told and retold through the generations, increasing in fable and statue like a big fish story, sounding better and better until it will no longer be possible to make anything taste as good as that chestnut stuffing at the Thanksgiving of twenty-eleven [probably] was.  That stuffing was like edible gold!  That stuffing cured cancer!  If only I'd written down what I put into it.  The world will never be the same again.

On Friday, we saw the Muppet movie, but carefully screened our choice of theaters to make sure we didn't have to enter a mall to do so.  I don't believe in Black Friday.  I've never really relished the idea of standing in line at four am to save $20 on a boom box anyway, but my distaste for this American tradition has become much more vehement over the past few years as its ridiculousness has increased.  Over and above my issues with being in a crowd of people so soon after a large conference,  I somehow feel weird spending Thursday telling my kids to be thankful and appreciative for the multitude of things we have and then turning around on Friday to try and fill my house with more things I don't need and can't afford.  There is no $2 waffle iron in the world that is worth experiencing thisI'll pay the extra $22 for the ability to avoid a fight with a stranger in a low-end department store and not losing my belief in human kind, thankyouverymuch.

The girls spent the weekend entertaining themselves by creating what they call, "Girls' Camp" in their room.  This consists of hanging a blanket over the bunk bed, making a lot of signs that says, "Only girls allowed" and then holding "meetings" which I'm required to attend because I'm also... a girl.  These meetings consist of everyone piling onto The Caterpillar's bed behind the blanket and The Dormouse beginning, "I suppose you're wondering why we've called you all here together.  As the Leader of Girls' Camp, I feel we have a few matters to discuss..." and then they wonder aloud why someone can't purchase them a few more flashlights so their clubhouse would be better illuminated in the dark.  And then I pretend I don't see through their thinly veiled supplications and suggest things like, "Maybe you could get jobs to pay for the flashlights... or wait, I've got it!  Maybe you could hold a bake sale!"  It's a delicate dance we have.

Overall, the Thanksgiving holiday was boring, low-key, involved a lot of television and sitting on the couch with my girls and husband.  Nothing special.  Just the way I like it.

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Golem

Posted on 11/25/2011 07:06:00 PM
--or--

What my Children did on Their Thanksgiving Vacation

Why, they built a girl, of course:


Need a little visualization help?  Allow me:


There is also a sign to accompany it:


"Hi! My name is Katie!  I am made of household things like shoes, pillows, and towels.  Do you like my flower hairclip?  Thank you!"

I suppose I should be grateful that they don't have access to computer parts or we would have ended up in a romantic sex romp like those kids from Weird Science and I'd have a missile coming out of the roof of my house right about now.  Just the same, if one of them shows up wearing my bra on her head, I'm totally putting my foot down.

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Best Thing I've Heard Out of My Kid This Week

Posted on 11/20/2011 08:26:00 PM


After soaking in the tub for about an hour:

"WHY ARE MY FINGERS SOFT AND OLD?!?!"

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Mystery

Posted on 11/19/2011 05:51:00 AM
I've always known about Leonardo DaVinci's backwards writing.   It's still debated why he did this, to amuse himself, to keep people from easily reading his notes, or because he was a dyslexic genius. But I do know that when he wrote for other people, he wrote correctly.  It was just in his notes and journals intended only for his eye that he wrote backward.

The Caterpillar has reached a phase where she is really, REALLY interested in reading and writing.  She has been able to sound out small words for awhile now, but it takes her some time.  It's interesting because when The Dormouse started to read, she had a little bit of help from her parents and teachers with C-A-T and P-I-G, but then just came home one day knowing how to read. It astounded us all. But in the area of righting, she was slow to develop those skills.  She hated to write - said it hurt her hand - we had to encourage her and push her to practice it.  Eventually she got the fine motor control required to form letters on paper, but to this day, still hates to write anything more than a sentence.

The Caterpillar, however, cannot stop writing.  Everywhere we go, she leaves a trail of small pieces of paper with four-year-old style letters written across them. The other day, she came to me with her doodle board and said, "What does this say, Momma?"

She'd written Fisher Price Doodle Pro across the board in letters so neat I thought maybe she'd asked me to write it for her and I'd forgotten. Then I realized in tiny, tiny letters at the bottom of the toy, the brand name was in the corner of the board and she'd copied it.

Yesterday, she wrote this:

The interesting thing is not that she figured out how to write the word hotel; The KingofHearts gave her the letters for that when she asked him.  The interesting thing is that she was writing it for The KingofHearts, who was standing on the other side of the paper, to see.  So she wrote this from the top of the paper and upside down and backwards to her (correct to him).  

I can't begin to guess what this means, but I'm hoping she'll invent a bunch of cool stuff -- and I hope at least one of those things is a flying car.

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Landscape

Posted on 11/15/2011 03:01:00 PM

I like this landscape photo of Rexburg, Idaho.  I've been here so long, that I often forget that in the West, you can pretty much see until the edge of the earth drops off.

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Minutae

Posted on 11/14/2011 09:35:00 AM In: ,
Spent the day yesterday cleaning old text messages off my phone.  This is a bigger job than many might think because I prefer text message to talking on the phone, leaving voice mail messages, face-to-face communication, and pretty much anything where I have to interact with people in any way.  I don't need to be in therapy; I have the internet.  Here are thirteen random things I have texted to my friends and family in the past few months that clearly need to be shared with the interweb:

  1. The Caterpillar's favorite pasttime today is to randomly runs over to cat, leans down and yell, "POPCORN!!" as loud as possible in its ear. If I'm eaten in my sleep one day, I can give you motive right now.
  2. Will someone please tell my daughter that Jimi Hendrix is not "a kind of hairstyle they wore in the olden days?"
  3. With no electricity and none for the forseeable future, I told girls it's time to put to practice things learned from "Little House" books.  I like to call this "spin."
  4. The Caterpillar convinced me to get a birthday card and a present for her classmate and bring it to school yesterday for her birthday. Imagine her teachers' faces when they told me the kid's actual birthday isn't for another three months.
  5. The Dormouse: "Sometimes I feel like *random guy at church* is my real dad and Daddy is just my stepdad."  Compliments don't come easy from that kid.
  6. My husband described kids' parties at The Little Gym as "like watching a prison riot from the safety of a guard tower." Eerie how right he is.
  7. The Little Gym worker just told a large group of three year olds to "be cognizant of others' safety, now."  Logic!  Why didn't I think of that?
  8. My child: "It's so hot here, it's just a cryin' shame." I must have failed to recognize the moment she became a seventy year old woman.
  9. For anyone who's ever been annoyed by a kid who plays Chopsticks on the piano incessantly. I see you and raise you a kid who sings it.
  10. Girl child is throwing a fit because "I can't see my elbow when I bend it!" Uh...
  11. Me:  "I love you."  Caterpillar:  "I know."  Me:  "Well, why do you think I love you so much."  Caterpillar: "Because I'm so awesome."  So that self-esteem thing is working out for her.
  12. It's a dog eat dog world out there.  Literally, she looks like a dog barfing up another dog it just ate.
  13. The KoH woke me up at four am, snoring and whistling through his nose.  I officially live inside a bugs bunny cartoon.  Do you think if I hit him in the face with a frying pan, his face will be frying-pan-shaped for the day?

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Breaking and Entering

Posted on 11/13/2011 02:25:00 PM
 -- or --

How I Almost Got Arrested at My Grandfather's Funeral

OK, so I might be exaggerating just a bit.  We were never on the police's radar but it wasn't for lack of evidence.

So a bunch of us got together to try and help clean up Grandpa's house the morning of the viewing before my Grandfather's funeral.  We knew it was the only day we'd all be in town and we wanted to help out.  The bank owns the house now and there aren't many people still living close to take care of things like that.  We didn't want to leave that giant job to others because most of us knew we probably wouldn't make it back to town. The main goal was to clean out the kitchen before the food began to rot and organize some piles that we probably thought should go to Goodwill.  Plus, admittedly, many of us wanted to take one last look around before the state took the house back. 

So we picked up a key, went inside and remembered to put the key in a safe place so we wouldn't lose it in the clean up.  That safe place happened to be on the table.  It was all good until we went to leave several hours later and learned that in the course of our emptying drawers and sorting things, at least a dozen other identical keys had been found and had all been put on that same table with THE key.  And then when we went to leave, we picked up the key and locked the door.  Everyone thought that they'd tested the key that was picked up to make sure it was THE key before we locked the door and headed to the funeral home.

Only it wasn't THE key.  It was one of the other keys.

Cut forward to late that night after the viewing.  It's dark, we're tired, we're emotionally spent, and we stop back at Grandpa's house to pick up our things.  We put the key in the door and after approximately six-hundred repeated attempts to open the door, we realized that it was one of the other keys and not THE key.  THE key was still sitting inside on the dining room table.  (OK, we might have realized it a bit earlier, but we held out hope until attempt number six-hundred.)

Someone remembered that the lock on the kitchen window never really worked so I found a ladder in the garage and used it to climb up and open the window.


That part was easy enough.



But the getting in through that tiny window proved more problematic.



I tried at least half a dozen different ways to get through that window, but in every one of them, my, um... endowments, prevented me from successfully getting through the window.  I've never wanted a breast reduction so much in my life.



Also, let me just say that - hypothetically - when you're trying to break into your dead grandpa's house to get your stuff in the dead of night, one of the least helpful things is to have your partner in crime laughing hysterically, taking flash photos and alerting both the police and your neighbors to the illegal activity going on behind the bushes.  So a word of advice:  don't take my mother with you.  

Finally, we called my cousin, who claimed to have done this before, and he came with his non-breast-bearing-and-easily-smaller-than-mine body and slipped through the window.




All before the police showed up. Score!


And that, dear friends, is why it is better to be a boy than a girl.

I'm sure Grandpa enjoyed watching this scene from the Great Beyond. I aim to entertain.

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Classy

Posted on 11/10/2011 03:14:00 PM In:
It's nice to have a pure-bred cat around to class up the joint.


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Idaho Falls Temple

Posted on 11/09/2011 02:44:00 PM
There's almost no place around this building where you can't get a good photo of it.


Funny story: my mother was trying to take a picture of the temple from this little landing on the other side of the falls and there were two lovebirds there, looking adoringly into each others' eyes and standing right in the shot.  She waited and waited for them to finish and move on but they just couldn't get enough of one another.  It finally became apparent that they were going to continue drinking in each others' wonderfulness for much longer than we had to get to a funeral three hours away, so my mother asked them, "Ummm... I'm sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could get a picture?" 

They said, "Oh sure," and turned around and posed for her with their arms around one another, smiling.

"Uh, I meant of the building," my mother said sheepishly.

That's when our newlyweds realized that the world didn't, in fact, revolve around them and their overwhelming love for one another and that random strangers walking by weren't so inspired by their passion that they simply had to stop them and ask to document the moment of their adulation... and they moved out of the shot.

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Oh, How the Idaho Falls

Posted on 11/08/2011 02:42:00 PM
Loving the lens flares from my camera phone, I know this is actually a flaw in the design of the camera, but it looks so cool, I've started to learn how to control them for specific purposes.


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Stronger Than Stone

Posted on 11/07/2011 02:57:00 PM
While visiting Register Rock, I became fascinated by this tree that seems to have grown through and broken apart a large boulder.  I'm not sure I can really explain how this happened, but there's a metaphor there.  I'm just too tired to make the connection.






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Glimpse into the Mind of 4 Year Old

Posted on 11/06/2011 08:22:00 AM
Once yearly at our church, the children (or what we call The Primary) put on a presentation for Sunday services.  We, somewhat uninventively, call this The Primary Program.  I know, we're a creative bunch, aren't we? The Primary Program is where we dispense with the usual adults giving boring talks and instead are treated to an hour of songs, scriptures and little speaking parts presented by the kids in the congregation who are ages three through eleven.  It's always a lot of fun because you can never really count on them saying exactly what they're supposed to and the thought of that kind of uncertainty makes one giddy with excitement.  Oh, those crazy adrenaline junkies.

This year, The Caterpillar has one solo speaking part.  She's to stand up and say, "I will live with my Heavenly Father again."  It's pretty typical for the littlest ones to walk up to the microphone and get stage fright, so there's always an adult leader sitting there to help them with their part and/or whisper it in their ear if necessary.

Sounds easy, right?

OK - so maybe I hadn't exactly worked with her to learn it before their practice last week, but it didn't seem like something that needed a lot of work.  Until I saw her try it out in the rehearsal with the other kids and the Primary leader.

Primary leader: "OK, Caterpillar, say your part."

Caterpillar: "..................."

Primary leader: "Repeat after me.  I will live..."

Caterpillar:  "I will live..."

Primary leader:  "...with my Heavenly Father..."

Caterpillar:  "...with my Heavenly Father..."

Primary leader:  "...again."

Caterpillar:  "I will live..."

Primary leader *perplexed but goes with it*:  "with my Heavenly Father..."

Caterpillar:  "with my Heavenly Father..."

Primary leader:  "...again."

Caterpillar:  "I will live..."

Primary leader:  "with my Heavenly Father..."

Caterpillar:  "with my Heavenly Father..."

Primary leader:  "...again."

Caterpillar:  "I will live..."

Primary leader:  "No, say again." 

Caterpillar:  "Again?"

Primary leader:  "Great!" ::sends The Caterpillar off to her chair to sit down and looks at me::


Primary leader:  "Huh?"

Me:  "Nevermind."

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Along the Oregon Trail

Posted on 11/05/2011 09:00:00 AM
Another stop in Southern Idaho.  I look out across this landscape and it becomes immediately obvious that this is probably exactly how it looked to the Oregon Trail emigrants in the 1800s... with the exception of that highway thingy going through the middle of it... which would definitely have cut some time off their journey; they totally should have used that thing.  

Immediately west of here you will cross a small canyon that Oregon Trail Emigrants regarded as their most dangerous exposure to Indians.

After 1854, they had good reason to be alarmed. Wagon traffic had ruined important traditional Indian trails. Uncounted thousands of oxen, horses, sheep and cattle had overgrazed a broad zone along their trail, leading to Indian resentment. Worse yet, a few emigrants had shot enough Indians to provoke a great deal of bitterness. August 9, 1862, Pocatello's Shoshoni band resisted further wagon traffic here, trapping a small emigrant party in a deep gully. An unusually fine stretch of wagon tracks leading to that site can be reached by a marked trail from here.



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Register Rock

Posted on 11/04/2011 02:03:00 PM
Because I am totally, completely, overwhelmed with work this month, you get to see more photos from last month when I was doing something other than sleeping fitfully and editing copy.  Which is pretty funny because I'm not even fit to put two sentences together right now and yet I'm editing copy for the printed form.  Blog readers, however, I'll spare.  Enjoy not being a party to my incoherent ramblings. 

We stopped at this place along the Oregon Trail whilst driving through Southern Idaho:

After their meals were cooked and their livestock grazed, early pioneers took the time to record their presence on this and other rocks in the area. The land around Register Rock was a common camping area along the Oregon and California trails. It has been preserved by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation so that the modern visitor my enjoy a landmark of the past.




This was my favorite carving:

The Indian head and preacher head carved on this rock and dated 1866 is the work of J.J. Hansen at age seven.  At this time he was traveling along the Oregon Trail with his parents to Portland, Oregon.  In 1908, after becoming a sculptor, he returned to review his work.  During this visit he again dated the rock under the Indian carving.



Not to be outdone, other generations decided they needed their own rock.  Love that even the "new" rock contains names from the 1930s.


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Photogenic

Posted on 11/02/2011 03:13:00 PM

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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