Friday, November 30, 2012

November Five Fabulous Finds

1. Smoked Cheese
In October's Five Fabulous Finds I mentioned  Michelle Obama's recipe for macaroni and cheese made with cauliflower that I had slightly modified.  One of those modifications was that I used smoked Gouda.  In the past month I have come to the realization that  I love smoked cheese. - any kind of smoked cheese.  We made butternut squash and crispy kale pizza the other night and used smoked mozzarella.  It was awesome!  Brooke then made leak bread pudding for Thanksgiving in which she used smoked cheddar.  The smoked cheeses took each of these recipes over the top.  This latest obsession led to investigate just how one goes about smoking cheese.

Weber smokes our Thanksgiving turkey.  This year Brooke asked that he also smoke some kosher salt for her.  Surely we have the basic tool necessary to smoke cheese - the smoker.  I googled smoked cheese.  I found this,  a YouTube video that shows you how to smoke cheese in an electric smoker. Score!

We will have to try this during the Christmas break.

2. is a site with a digital library for photographers.  I discovered them while trying to find some tips for something I was trying to do with my camera.  They sell all kinds of photography books from the basics for true beginners to stereo photography.  

One thing that I particularly like is that they offer some basic photography courses that are camera specific.  When information is being given about the shooting menu or where certain buttons and controls are located, the illustrations and commentary are relative to your specific camera.  The books are well written, thorough but easily accessible.

As an aside, their customer service is friendly and helpful as well.  Somehow, I was attempting to download one of the books to my iPad and failed miserably.  In trying multiple times, I exhausted my allotted number of downloads.  I emailed customer service and they made some suggestions as to what the problem might be a reauthorized my download.  I had no problems this time.  They then followed up the next day just to make sure that I was able to access the book this time.

3. Thanksgiving List
I read about this new book

Like I have mentioned recently, Thanksgiving is not my favorite when it comes to holidays so I was not too interested in a book about Thanksgiving, even if it was a cookbook.  I did, however, find the following, excerpted from Sam Sifton’s book, to be enlightening and a little entertaining.

10 Laws of Thanksgiving Dinner
by Sam Sifton

1. Let me speak plainly: you are going to need a lot of butter. Thanksgiving is not a day for diets, or for worrying about your cholesterol. It is a day on which we celebrate the delicious. And there is precious little on a Thanksgiving menu that is not made more delicious by butter. (Note: It should be unsalted butter. There is something magical about a piece of toast with salted butter. But for Thanksgiving, you want the unsalted variety, so that it is you, and not the butter maker, who is in control of the saltiness of your cooking. Figure at least two pounds for the day.)
2. Thanksgiving is a holiday that anchors itself in tradition. Which means: You should make turkey. Turkey is why you are here.
3. I’ll risk starting a brushfire by saying with great confidence that the two most important factors in any credible Thanksgiving feast are the cranberry sauce and the gravy. Debate that all you like. But they tie every element on the plate together, acting as frame and foundation alike. Cranberry sauce only enhances what is already excellent, and good gravy can cure almost any Thanksgiving ill.
4. You can make mashed potatoes lumpy with a fork or a masher device, or smooth with a food mill or stand mixer. And of course you can make them without peeling the potatoes, if your scrub the skins well. This makes for an attractive, rustic-looking dish. Indeed, the only trouble that should ever present itself when the subject comes to mashed potatoes and Thanksgiving is should someone demand that garlic or basil be added to the mix. Your response to this heresy should be brief and unequivocal: No. There is no place in the holiday for a mixture of garlic and potatoes, much less basil and potatoes. The flavors clash with the turkey and other sides. No.
5. Start serving drinks the minutes your guests arrive, no matter the hour. Thanksgiving is not a time to judge.
6. When hosting, do not be afraid to delegate.
7. Dessert need not be extravagant. It absolutely should not be experimental or overly cute. It must not involve individual tartlets or parfaits, nor marshmallows in any form. Save the chocolate for nights of depression and anxiety. Instead, focus on the proper execution of the American classics: apple pie, for instance, with a mound of whipped cream, or pumpkin pie with same. These represent Thanksgiving’s highest achievement. They are an explanation of American exceptionalism, in pastry form.
8. There is no “right” wine for Thanksgiving, no must-have grape or vintage, cocktail or spirit. Nor is there a “wrong” one, though I’d stay away from the low-end fortified stuff unless you are in a boxcar, hurtling west. What you want is a variety of grapes and vintages. Encourage guests to bring wines that interest them, wines that they would like others to try. Additionally, lay in some specialty items: beer for your uncle who only drinks Bud; nonalcoholic sparkling cider for the children; and plenty of Diet Cokes and ashtrays for those who no longer drink.
9. If you find yourself as a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving, there is no finer gift to bring than a pie and a bottle of brown liquor.
10. As everyone takes a seat and prepares to eat, there is the delicate moment where you or someone at the table should ask for everyone’s attention, and offer thanks to one and all for being present, and for helping out. This is extraordinarily important. It is the point of the entire exercise. William Jennings Bryan wrote, “On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge our dependence.” I think that’s just about right.

4. Chocolate Chip Scones
On Thursday evenings, Weber and I have been taking an ongoing class.  It has quickly become a tradition to stop at Dunn Bros. Coffee on our way home and get a pastry.  Though everything that I have had from Dunn Bros. Provisions Bakery has been great, my favorite has become the chocolate chip scones - not too heavy, not too sweet and with chocolate.  They are absolutely perfect with a nice bold cup of coffee.

When Brooke was home last week, she asked if there was anything in particular that I wanted her to bake.  My recent obsession with chocolate chip scones immediately came to mind.  Brooke makes an awesome vanilla scone; all she would have to do is throw in a few chocolate chips and voila!

Literally as she was walking out the door to fly back to Chicago, she filled a plastic bag with ready-to-bake scones.  She also kindly wrote the cooking instructions in purple Sharpie on the bag.  

Last night being Thursday night, I had the first of Brooke’s scones.

All I can so is “Yum! These are worth every calorie!

I sent this picture to Brooke as a "thank-you."  Her response, "You can tell they are good because you can see the layers of butter."  

5. Scramble With Friends
One of my students introduced me to this game. 

It is much like the board game Boggle.  In two minutes, you have to find as many words as can that can be created using contiguous letters.

Yes, it is one of those games played on your phone or iPad.  Yes, it is addictive.  Yes, I have multiple games going at any given time.  Yes, I most often get beat.  Yes, it is still fun.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Meal of Shared Responsibility

Wednesdays are my long day.  I teach later than any other day and then have choir rehearsal in the evening.  If we eat an evening meal out during the week, it is usually on Wednesday.  Since we have run out of Thanksgiving leftovers and I didn't have time to cook tonight, we decided to eat at Panera Bread.  It is on the way to church, is generally quiet and they have the best selection of soup, which seemed a nice dinner option on this chilly evening.

I ordered my standard cool weather soup from their menu, turkey chili in a bread bowl.  The cashier said, "That's our meal of shared responsibility."  I was thinking, "And . . .", but I said nothing.  My deep silence was a blatant clue to the person taking our order that further explanation was necessary.  I was surprised and thrilled by what he told me.

"A Meal of Shared Responsibility" means that when this particular soup, turkey chili in a bread bowl, is ordered, it has no set price.  "This item exists to offer a meal, with dignity, to everyone in our community - those who can afford it, those who need a hand, and everyone in between."  In dollars and cents this means that you can choose to pay the suggested menu price of $5.89, you can pay what you can afford, which may be very little, or you can pay more than the menu price and help Panera help those in need.

This effort is part of a larger program called Panera Cares.  When I got home tonight, I did a little research and discovered that in four large cities, of which Dallas is not one, Panera has entire cafes dedicated to combating hunger.  These cafes offer the full Panera menu but with no prices attached to anything.  They don'y have cash registers.  You simply drop your donation in to a box or can.  I urge you to visit the Panera Cares website.

Here are a few statistics that may encourage you to support the Panera Cares mission.

  • 50 million Americans are struggling with hunger
  • 17 million of those hungry Americans are children
  • 20% of those dealing with food insecurity are college graduates
  • 24% of those struggling with food insecurity own their own homes
  • 36% of households living with food insecurity have at least one member who is working
  • Only 10% of those dealing with hunger issues are homeless
The thing that particularly strikes me about the Panera Cares program is that not only are they working to feed the hungry but they are doing so by honoring the dignity of all people.  All of their diners receive the same food, the same service and the same cafe atmosphere.  Those who are struggling are not being given day old leftovers in a back room somewhere.  By taking this approach, not only are people's bodies nourished, but so are their spirits.

I could not find any information on how long the "meal of shared responsibility" program is going on at our local Dallas Panera Bread cafes.  

If you find yourself out running errands or Christmas shopping, stop into a Panera, have a tasty bowl of chili and give a few dollars to help a good company succeed in its mission to feed anyone and everyone - with dignity!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not-so-baby Pictures

I have enjoyed having both of the girls around for Thanksgiving.  The older they get, the less often this happens.  On Thanksgiving Day we made plans to "do something" today.  As it turned out, "something" meant the kids watched Top Chef Just Desserts while Weber and I finished putting up the outdoor Christmas lights.  Erin had also asked that I take some pictures of her and Edgar.  Late this afternoon, a little too late as it turned out, the kids and I headed out to a nearby park to find a good backdrop for some pictures.  Though the light was not great, we had a lot of fun.  Even Brooke played along!  She feels the same way I do when in comes to being in front of the camera - ah, no!

I'm so glad she was a good sport today.

Erin has always been comfortable in front of the camera.

She managed to make her sister laugh and be a little silly.

This loosened Brooke up and gave me a chance to get a few fairly good picture of the two of them together.

I did accomplish the original goal of taking the pictures of Erin and Edgar as well.

I am not much of a portrait photographer.  I much prefer candid shots and am usually more successful with inanimate objects.  In fact, for a long time I didn't even want people in any of the pictures that I took.  I guess I though everyone felt the way I did about having their picture taken.  I  have gotten over that.  I am still working to become a better overall photographer.  With that hopefully will come better portraits.

It is easy for me to overlook the technical flaws in these pictures because something, in this case, makes me much happier than nothing!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Random Thanksgiving Leftovers

As it's title suggests, this post contains random thoughts and pictures from our Thanksgiving Day.

There is almost nothing better than homemade bread - kneading it, smelling it as it cooks and, of course, eating it..  Brooke made black pepper bread for her leek bread pudding and also made us a few extra buns to freeze and save for later.

 Erin was in charge of the mashed potatoes.  She has the task of making the potatoes down - and the idea of leftovers.  We may all be eating mashed potatoes until Christmas!  They were good so that's OK.

Our family consists of some serious game players.  I mean that it the best way.  Even a game as silly as Apples to Apples is taken to be serious business.

We won't talk about how many times Brooke has beat the heck out of me this weekend playing Scramble With Friends!  I wonder how many people begin playing under the guise of Scramble With Friends and end playing Scramble With Enemies.

These are the cards from the rounds of Apples to Apples that I won.

My loving family tried to imply that there may be a good reason that I was best able to describe these words.  They have all finally realized that they make me cranky and crazy!  Just kidding . . .I love you guys.

Even our four-legged family members were in on the giving thanks.

Frankie: "I am thankful to live in a home where instead of yelling at me for sitting on the table they tell me to be still so that they can take pictures of me."

Harley: "I am thankful for my gold afghan."

This afghan was made by Weber's mother.  She passed away in 1980, so the afghan has survived a good long while.  (There is something to be said for Red Heart yarn.)  Harley loves this thing.  She gets upset when anyone tries to sit on it, wrap up in it, or mover HER blanket.

Adidas: "Did someone say leftovers?  I'd be thankful for something other than this damn diet dog food and green beans.  Some of that smoked turkey that I've been smelling for 24 hours would be pretty darn good right now.  If I can't have that, I guess I'll be thankful for my dad's place on the couch where I can sit, sulk and contemplate just how hungry I am."

What better way to end the day than with a beautiful sunset.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Different Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite celebrations.  This is not because I have something against giving thanks or expressing gratitude for all the blessings that I have been given; it is because the sentiment behind Thanksgiving has been buried amidst parades, football, shopping and way too much food.  Hours and hours are spent preparing various dishes for a meal that takes twenty minutes to consume and which is then followed by hours and hours packaging leftovers and washing dishes and dishes and more dishes.  I would come to the end of the day exhausted and not very grateful for much of anything.

This year was different.

First of all, I received several emails and text messages first thing this morning from friends wishing me a happy Thanksgiving.  In reading and then responding to each message, I was reminded how blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful and caring people.  For that, I give thanks.

Secondly, for the first time in almost thirty years, I was not the one primarily responsible for preparing for Thanksgiving.  I have always had help cooking, but not in the cleaning, etc. that is necessary when you are feeding lots of people at your house.  Erin took on the hosting of the Thanksgiving meal this year.  In doing so, we were all assigned what to bring.

I was assigned homemade bread and chocolate chip pie.  Weber was in charge of the smoked turkey.

We did not know until late last week that Brooke was going to be able to come home this week.  That is another thing for which I am grateful.  She has not been home since last Christmas.  It was great to have all of us together.  

Because we did not expect Brooke to be here, she didn't have a specific dish assigned.  Being one who is full of recipes, she added roasted brussels sprouts and leek bread pudding.  The Denton crowd (Erin, Edgar, Mike and Jason) fixed everything else.  Though it felt a bit strange not running around frantically this morning making sure that everything was on course for the gathering,  it was kind of nice not have to worry about all the details of the meal.  There were thirteen of us for dinner - all of our family and Edgar's (Erin's boyfriend) family as well.

In addition to the food, Erin also asked me to bring my camera to take pictures of her and Edgar.  We didn't really take the time to do it right, but I got a few cute pictures of the two of them.

And also a couple of each of the girls.

It has long been our tradition to play games after dinner.  In the past we have often opted for Trivial Pursuit, but with as many people as we had present tonight, it would have likely been next Thanksgiving before we got through a single round of questions!  So tonight the game of choice was Apples to Apples.  It is a silly game and a great bit of fun, especially with a big group of people. 

Apples to Apples involves two decks of game cards - one deck has words such as funny, ugly, stereotyped, dishonest and so on.  The other deck has names of people, places and things.  On your turn, you choose a card from the deck of description words.  Then each person chooses a card from their hand of seven noun cards that they think best fits the description.  The person whose turn it is then chooses which noun card they like best as an example of their word.  There are no rules about how this decision is made.  If your word is chosen then you win the round.  It is a whole lot more fun than it sounds here!

During one of the rounds, the descriptor word that was played was "sad."  Some of the cards that were played for this were bankruptcy, school bus, forest fire, and divorce.  Playing the "divorce" card here could have been touchy considering that the lives of all of us there have been touched by divorce in one way or another.  I wondered if that was the card that would be chosen as the "winner."  Edgar chimed in and said, "Divorce isn't necessarily sad.  It makes your family bigger."  What a great way to look at it!

I had hoped to get a picture of our whole family together, but I never quite got there.  There was a lot going on. I did manage a pictures of almost everyone.  Here is Jason, one of the two stepdads.

 We are all having dinner together again on Saturday evening; I'll definitely make sure that I get the group photo then.

For my family and friends I am grateful.  For a wonderful meal, I am thankful.  And, for a new appreciation of Thanksgiving as a day of celebration, I am Thankful.

I hope that you all had a thanks-filled day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Walk the Walk

If you are a regular visitor here, you know that I often walk to and from school.  To me, living close enough to do this is such a blessing.  Maybe I feel this way because of the fact that I can't drive.  If I can walk, I'm not dependent on or burdensome to others.  Or maybe it is simply because I like to walk.

Yes, there are days when it is cold or hot or  I am tired.  Yes, I have gotten drenched a few times when i misjudged and the storms moved faster than I did getting home, but those incidents are few and far between.  Most days I thoroughly enjoy my walk.  It is nice to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  I listen to the birds, watch the trees change from one season to another, admire people's gardens along my path and have some time just to think or to just "be.".

At school the other day, one of my colleagues stopped me and said that she had seen me walking home a few days earlier.  She graciously offered to give me a ride if I ever wanted or needed one.  I have no doubt that this was a genuine offer of kindness and that is how I took it; however, it did make me chuckle just a little.

I happen to know that this person also lives very close to school, about halfway between campus and my house.  Though she could easily walk, she doesn't.  What makes this funny to me is that several days a week during lunch, she goes outside and walks around the campus walking path.  Why not just walk to and from school?  This would be a practical thing to do - get exercise and keep a car off the road.  I wonder how many people there are who make similar choices.  

What would the world be like if more people opted to live closer to where they work or go to school and then made the choice to walk rather than drive?  Or, even utilize mass transit.  Certainly this would, at the least, help the environment and at best, it could help the overall well-being of mankind.  Could  it make us a happier healthier nation?  Would we respect each other and our natural world more?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I sure would like to think that walking, if and when we could,  would be a positive thing.  Until the rest of the country, or even my little corner of the world, comes to this conclusion, I will continue to enjoy the uncrowded sidewalks and quiet time I have while I walk my walk.

“Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors...disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.” 
― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Me And My Shadow

I had a fun walk on my way home today.  My school day was short so I was able to head  home at lunchtime.  It was warm, but not too warm, and there was a gentle but definitely present breeze that caused the newly fallen leaves to skip along like happily dancing children.  The animated leaves made me want to join in the dance; I exercised a little self control and just walked.  A few minutes into my walk that childlike spirit got the best of me.  No, I didn't start dancing and skipping my way home.  I did, however, became quite fascinated with the shadows along the way - those of the trees, the blowing leaves and me.  I felt like a two-year old discovering the mystery of her own shadow for the very first time.

I walked along watching intently as my shadow disappeared and reappeared through the large shadows of the trees.  That I was so taken by this is a testament to the notion that it is often the simplest things in life that give to us the greatest pleasures.  I found myself wishing that I had my camera with me to capture the impressive  colorless forms of the trees projected onto the street.  I noticed, too, that often these shadows were dotted with fallen autumn- colored leaves.  The images were beautiful.

The longer I walked, the more intently I observed.  I then realized that though I did not have "my camera,"  I did have the camera on my phone.  I thought, "Now I can have some fun! "

I don't like to have pictures taken of myself, mostly because I always look terrible in them.  (The more I learn about photography, I realize why this is.  A lot of It has to do with metering for proper exposure; that is a discussion for another day.) So, because I am usually taking photos, I am not in many at all.  In fact, earlier this week someone asked for a picture of Weber and me together.  The only ones I could think that we have are from the wedding.  Those were not a particularly good option for the situation.  I did agree to take one of the two of us myself. I used my camera remote.  It is definitely not a great picture, but it was the best I could do at the time and it filled the bill.  

Now you see why I much prefer the backside of the camera!

Another reason I don't like to have my picture taken is because that means that the attention is on me in that moment.  I don't like to be in the spotlight.  I often say that I much prefer to live in the shadows.  I'm like the moon, only visible when illuminated by someone else's light.  These thoughts popped into my head as I continued to be fascinated by my own shadow.  Right before me was the perfect backdrop and lighting for the most representative self-portrait - my shadow!

I'm sure standing in the street taking pictures of my shadow didn't look strange, right?  Skipping along with the leaves would have been much more awkward looking, right?  No one pointed and laughed.  No one stopped and asked if I was OK.  And apparently no one called the police regarding a suspicious individual.  So, I felt free to take several pictures.

I look a little hunchbacked and disproportionate because I had my backpack on and, well, it is a shadow.  

I like this one because the leaf on my back looks like a hand, like I am being gently guided.  I find this comforting.

Here there is a leaf resting on my shoulder and another in almost the exact place as in the photo above.  What's the message there?

This one may be my all-time favorite picture of myself.

I am the shadow.  I am in the shadow.  I am present, yet not.  I am visible, yet not.  I am felt, yet not.  I am seen, yet not.
I love the skewed perspective.  It so clearly depicts how I look at the world - and probably how the world looks at me.

"There is strong shadow where there is much light."   - Goethe

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A First Time For Everything

This afternoon I received the following text message from my youngest child.

At nineteen, this is her first time to cast a vote in any election. I sure hope I raised her right!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Addiction and Change: A Look At Today

Today was the first work day after the time change.  The fall time change from daylight savings time to standard time should be a good thing in that we got an extra hour of sleep Saturday night.  Don't get me wrong, I treasure that additional sixty minutes of sleep; however there was something a little "not right" about this morning.

When the alarm clock went off at the normal 6am, it was still dark, very dark, outside.  I expected it to be light since it should actually be an hour later.  Then I realized that sunrise was not until 6:50.  Big surprise that it was dark at 6:00.

When I got to school this morning, I soon realized that I had forgotten my iPad.  In reality, this was no big deal, but in that moment when I reached in my backpack and it wasn't there, my day again turned as dark as it was at 6am.  How was I going to go through my day without it?  How would I record grades or  let my students know what assignments they were missing?  What if I needed a musical example from iTunes?  What about keeping up on the news during the day?  What if I needed to type a document?  The truth is that this whole conversation that I was having with myself was ridiculous.  Not being able to do these things would not be life changing for me or anyone else for one day.  After I settled down and thought about my reaction, I came to the conclusion that I am addicted to me iPad.  Yes, I do use it for all of those good and noble things, but what I was actually upset about was not having during my lunch hour when I catch up on blogs, surf the web for dinner recipes and play a game or two to de-stress before my afternoon classes. Sadly,  I am addicted to this piece of technology.  I have admitted it.  That is the first step to recovery, right?

Next, I walked into the office at school to check my mail and make some copies.  The copy room looked different.  I figured it had to do with the light having shifted as a result of the time change.  Nope.  It had to do with the room having been painted stark white over the weekend.  I didn't even notice that.  I am usually fairly good at recognizing such changes.  I guess I was still in shock over having to spend the entire day separated from my iPad.

After teaching my morning classes I headed down to the workroom to warm my lunch.  Another change!  Not only had the workroom been painted the same stark white as the mail room,  it had also been rearranged.  The table was in the place of the computer; the computer was in the place of the storage cabinets: and, the storage cabinets were in the place of the table.  As an added bonus, the microwave and toaster oven are now more accessible.  The best news of all is that there is a possibility that we will get a Keurig machine in the workroom!  These are all good changes.

I am not one of those people that is opposed to any change and all change.  I just wasn't quite ready for so much of it on a Monday morning - especially when I was trying to embrace my newly realized addiction.

I heated my lunch and wandered out to the Coke machine for a diet coke.  (I had a monster headache, one that only a massive dose of caffeine could address.)

What?  What's this?  No Coke machine?  WTF!  My coping mechanism for change has now been maxed out.  I headed for another place where I knew there to be a soft drink machine.  As I walked down the hall I saw this.

This is the Coke machine sitting in the middle of the hall, blocking a classroom door, not plugged in so therefore not dispensing drinks.  Why exactly is the Coke machine here?  There was no one around to ask.  Maybe they are going to install one in every classroom.  That would be a really good change!

I ended up walking over to the student union and getting a drink in a cup with ice and a straw  When I finally sat down to eat, my lunch, which I had heated before going on the grail quest for a diet coke to help my headache, was cold.  It was good, but cold.

Today was definitely Monday by all accounts.  Tomorrow has got to be better.  I am confident that it will be - especially if I remember to take my iPad with me in the morning!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

One More Picture . . .

This photo, too, was taken at the arboretum.  It doesn't look like any of the others, does it.  When I was looking through the two hundred plus photos from Friday, this one jumped out at me.  I just kept staring at it.

I can't decide whether it is really good, really bad, really creepy, really weird, or what.  Any thoughts?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum

  I am happy to share here some pictures of the work of Dale Chihuly that is currently on display at the Dallas Arboretum.  The fact is that matter how good the pictures, they can't capture the whole beauty and grandness of seeing these magnificent pieces of glass in person.  The sheer amount of glass alone is amazing.  Add to that the incredible detail in every piece and I realize that both words and pictures come up short in their abilities to describe the works of Chihuly are in this setting.

I have to admit that I was so busy looking at the pieces and taking pictures that I failed to write down the titles of each work shown throughout this post.  Sorry!

Here are a few up-close pictures of the detail of these works.

As amazing as seeing these details is, it is experiencing all of these pieces as they rise up out of the gardens that is so awesome.  Every time that we turned a corner or rounded a path, there was another one.  They seemed so natural, so perfect in their places.

Here is the fern gully.  I love the way the light makes the glass dance in the mist.

When the mist clears, the pieces continue to dance as they are reflected in the water.

These next pictures speak for themselves.

How can you go wrong with all of that blue?

The yellow in these two magnifies the sun.

Of all that we saw, my favorites by far were the glass balls.  I'm not sure why; perhaps their simplicity, perhaps their representation of perfections.  Or, perhaps they are just really pretty.

The bright colors, the water,the sunlight,  the reflections - this is just a perfect combination to me.

The weather yesterday when we went to the arboretum was beautiful, though a little warm for November.  It should not be 87 degrees on November 2nd!  But, it was worth enduring the temperatures to experience  all of this glass as it shimmered in the sunlight from the clear blue sky.

The arboretum also offers evening hours three nights a week so that you can experience these works through a different light.  They are illuminated against the dark background of the night sky.  We are already making plans to go back some evening before the close of the exhibit at the end of the year.  I would love to try to photograph the boats and balls above against a setting sun!

Another fun outing for which to look forward!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Fun-filled Fall Friday

Today was an awesome fun-filled fall Friday.  Weber and I both took a "mental health" day, which translates to he took a personal day off from school and I did not teach my normal Friday knitting class. We have been planning this day for a month or so.  Our schedule has been such that we haven't had any time to just have fun together.  Our plan was to go to the Dallas Arboretum to see the Chihuly exhibit.  First though, we dropped the car off to have its oil changed and state inspection done.  (It was only two days late.)  We went and had a nice breakfast at a local cafe while we waited for the car.

The Chihuly exhibit has been at the Arboretum since May and was scheduled to close this weekend.  We have been talking about going since May and never made it.  The day after we planned our day off, the Arboretum announced that the exhibit would be extended through the end of the year.  We decided that we'd stick with our plans for today anyway, thinking that it might not be as crowded on a week day.  We were wrong about that but that's OK.

As excited as I was to see all of the glass sculptures, I was even more excited to take pictures.  The Arboretum is a photographer's dream come true - lots of colors, textures, changing lighting, and people.  We were there a couple of hours and I took slightly more than two hundred pictures.  Needless to say, some of them met the "delete" button without a second glance.  I sure am glad for digital photography.  If I were still using film this would be an expensive hobby!

When I got home and realized just how many images I had, I decided to break my Arboretum post into two parts - general pictures and Chihuly pictures.  Today you get the general pictures.

I love fall.  Seeing the Arboretum at this time of year reminds me why.  I love the yellows and oranges of the fall flowers.  I also love that many of the pathways and beds were lined with pumpkins.  I have never seen so many pumpkins in one place.  And then there were all the other gourds . . . It was beautiful.

This was the sight right inside the gate.

Once I saw this, I knew I was in picture-taking paradise!

I loved all the pumpkins along the pathways and around so many of the flower beds.

All of the colors are amazing.

About ten percent of the pictures that I took today were attempts to get a good shot of this butterfly.  Technically I know how my camera should be set to achieve this goal.  Its just that the butterfly moved faster than my brain and my hands.  I was always one setting behind his )or her) next move.

I wish that I had done better at this but this is the best shot I got.

I am always a sucker for a picture of a pretty tree.  Here is the second in my series of bois d'arc trees.  I don't know why I am so enamored with these trees, but I am.

And who can resist flowers and bugs?

This cute little boy was visiting the Arboretum with his grandmother.  He seemed to be having a grand time.    I wonder what his parents were thinking when they named him with the initials "EAT"?

Perhaps he was heading here for a rest and a snack.

All of the colors and textures of the gourds are just beautiful!

Tomorrow I will share my favorite images of the Chihuly glass sculptures.

After our trip to the arboretum, Weber had enough time to go early vote before we left again to attend a Taize service for which I was playing.  I am happy to report that this time he was able to vote and happily cancelled out the vote of the guy in the Mercedes who cut him off in the parking lot the other day.

Our evening ended with a wonderful Italian meal with a dear friend of ours.  So there you have it, our fun-filled fall Friday.

I hope you all had a good day.