Monday, October 25, 2010

Bird Watching

Because we live in the woods, we have a profusion of birds.  I think we are also just far enough south that this area has many birds that don't migrate, whereas up in Pennsylvania it seems that most birds leave the area for the winter.

Inspired by John's aunts out in Washington state, I decided to put out suet for the birds.   Boy, do they love that! I also got a bird seed dispenser.  Here are some of the birds I've had so far:
A White-breasted Nuthatch.  These guys can walk upside down on trees and hang up-side down from the feeder.

My favorite: a white-breasted nuthatch.  These birds are so pretty with their blue bodies and white faces.

I don't know what this is.  It kind of looks like a bluebird to me, but it's not really that blue.  Does anybody know what it is?

A downy woodpecker.         

 We also have cardinals, but they don't eat from either of the feeders.  They prefer to pick up bits that have dropped onto the ground.
Monsieur and.....                  

Madame in a tree.

I've discovered it's not easy to get pictures of birds because they won't sit still!  When we say a person "eats like a bird", we usually mean that they don't eat very much.  But birds seem to be eating all day long and it looks to me like they eat a lot!  I think "eats like a bird" should mean the person can't sit still while they're eating!

We also have a stray cat.  Do you think I should start feeding her, too?  Maybe she hangs around here in hopes of catching a bird and she doesn't need me to feed her!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Family Reunion

One of the great things about weddings is that they usually turn into family reunions.  Erika's wedding was no exception.  My Dad and Mom came from Florida and my Dad performed the ceremony and gave a message.  My Uncle Dave and Aunt Gerry came from Pennsylvania and Uncle Dave played the bagpipes.  My Uncle Jerry and Aunt Doris came from Texas and Uncle Jerry and I were the official photographers.  My niece, Alesha, came from Texas to be the matron of honor along with her cute little son, Shane, who was the ring bearer.  Not only that, but there were cousins there that I hadn't seen in ages.  And that is just speaking of our side of the family.  I know it was a fun get-together for Nate's side of the family, too.

Of course, we all saw each other at the wedding.  And then the reception was a good time to visit, too.  But I was so busy taking pictures I didn't have much time for visiting. The place where we had the reception is my sister's church, which used to be a restaurant.  There was an upstairs section and we had to put some of the tables up there.  So, when it was time for the prayer, I looked up and there everybody was on the stairs. It was such a great pose and totally unplanned (the top three people are not related).

The real family reunion for me was on Sunday, the day after the wedding.  My dad's cousin, Jeanne and her husband, Ken, opened their home to all the relatives and out-of-town guests.  It turned out to be a warm day, more like summer than fall, so we ate outside.  First we had a family church service and then we had dinner.  Then we just sat around and talked ALL afternoon.  It was wonderful.  I'll just let the pictures tell the story. 

"You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you."  Desmond Tutu

I'm so glad for the gift of family God has given to me!  My dad shared my great-uncle Bob's testimony, which is just a great story of the heritage I have.  He was a young man brought up in a privileged situation as his dad was an executive in a bank.  He went off to one of the best colleges, got a degree in theology, and became a Methodist minister.  However, he had been taught that the Bible was not to be taken literally, but was a book of allegories and parables.  When he sat at parishioners' death beds he was unable to answer their questions about dying and heaven and could offer them no comfort.  He decided to go back to seminary to find the answers.  However, at seminary they just taught him the same watered down stuff he already knew.  He began reading through the sermons of one of the Wesley brothers (can't remember which one) and God began to convict him of sin and to show him the way of salvation.  One night as he lay in bed, God began to point out sins to him.  He would get out of bed and down on his knees and in tears confess those sins to God.  All night long he was in and out of bed, confessing his sins and finding peace with God.  As morning broke, he knew he had found his answers.  He left the seminary because the purpose for which he'd gone had been accomplished!  He went on to marry my dad's aunt, Aunt Jeanette.  Worshiping with us at the family reunion were three of his five children (one unable to come, one already in heaven), some of his grandchildren, and some of his great-grandchildren.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nightmares and Weddings

Several months ago my sister asked me if I would take the pictures for her daughter Erika's wedding.  We both know I'm by no means a professional photographer but she said she likes my pictures as well as many professional ones she's seen. I also thought it would be a lot of fun.  At that moment I felt a little more confident than I did the more I thought about it and the closer we got to the date.

At one point I even had a crazy nightmare about it.  It was one of those dreams where you wish you could wake up so it would go away.  But I did wake up several times and then as soon as I went back to sleep, the dream would come right back!  Here's how it went.

The wedding guests were seated, but the bridal party hadn't come in yet.  I started taking pictures when I realized the batteries in my camera had died and I didn't have any spares.  I went out, wandering all over downtown Xenia, looking for batteries.  None of the stores had batteries, but they all had people in them who wanted to stand around and chat.  Somehow Daniel was with me and I told him several times to go back and take some pictures for me.  I don't know what he was supposed to take pictures with!  And Daniel's picture taking skills.....well, we won't go there.

I relaxed a bit though, knowing that Uncle Jerry was also taking pictures with me (in real life that really was a relief!).  But when I got back to the chapel, Uncle Jerry was no where to be found.  I also realized I hadn't ever bought the new camera I wanted and I didn't have a tripod.  I started taking pictures, anyway, but I felt too awkward to go to the front so I was trying to take pictures from way back in the church.

Somehow the wedding turned into a baby dedication.  Don't ask me!  Dreams don't always make sense!  Then there was a big disturbance in the back of the church and Erika and Nate went running  to the back to see what was happening.  That was more or less the end of the wedding.  Were they really married?  Who knows!

Then Erika and Nate ran off and we never got any portraits.  I followed them to this place that was like a guest house somewhere in the Swiss Alps.  Erika came out dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.  I was really upset because I wanted to take pictures with her in her dress.  Then I needed to get dressed for the reception.  I have no idea why I couldn't wear what I had worn to the wedding!  I was pulling stuff out of my suitcase and I couldn't find a thing to wear.  I had slacks or skirts, but no shirts that matched....or shirts, but nothing to go with them.  I finally had to borrow something from my sister to wear.  By then I had missed all the good shots at the reception.  I was so glad to wake up from that dream!

Thankfully, none of that nightmare came true!  The wedding went really, really well.  On Thursday Erika, her sister Alesha, Suzanne, and I went out for a bridal photo shoot.  We had a list of places to go, but not a lot of time, so we went first to Erika's first choice which was the covered bridge.  The pictures turned out amazing.  I'm not posting any of the really good ones here as I want the bride to see them first.  We had so much fun and Erika is so beautiful and photogenic.  We decided that we are going to start a family business with my sister Natalie being the wedding organizer/planner, Alesha will pose the photos, and Suz and I will be the photographers.

Later that afternoon we decorated their church for the reception.  It had been a restaurant back in the day, but even so, we had a hard time setting up enough tables to seat all the expected guests.  When we first walked in, it looked hopeless that we would ever be able to make it look nice. Natalie had bought a lot of brass candlestick holders and mirrors at thrift stores and we decorated with them.  It turned out really pretty.

Friday we decorated Collier Chapel at the Legacy Center where the wedding was to take place.  Again, Natalie made it look really, really nice.  We had the rehearsal there and then had the supper in the guest house at the Legacy Center where we were all staying. Supper was followed by games and then a really nice devotional time.

Saturday morning I got to go with the bride and her attendants, mom, and mom-in-law to the salon where they all had their hair and make-up done. That was a lot of fun.  All the girls looked so beautiful!

The wedding was a lot of fun, was beautiful, and was glorifying to God.  Nate and Erika are really into Renaissance Festivals, so their wedding had a renaissance feel to it.  Nate wore a kilt, the guys wore Highlander shirts and dress pants, and the girls wore tailor-made renaissance-style dresses (what an amazing seamstress!...this was the first wedding she's done as she's just starting her business).  They had a hand-fasting, and a sash-tying, Erika's dad Duane talked about their purity rings, Erika's grandfather (my dad) performed the ceremony and gave them a blessing, and my Uncle Dave played the bagpipes.  Of course, they had all the "normal" things too, such as a message, exchange of vows, rings, and THE KISS. Like I said, I'm not posting many pictures as I want the bride to see them first.  

I'm so glad nothing in my dream came true! 

Monday, October 04, 2010

Making Modeling Dough

Daniel (when he's in Ohio and not in DC) and Suzanne attend an inner-city church in Dayton, OH.  Suzanne teaches Sunday School there, which she loves.  But the church doesn't have much of a budget to buy extras such as toys and Pl*y-Dough.  A friend gave us a recipe for modeling dough, so on Saturday I made this dough for Suzanne and her Sunday School kids.

The ingredients are things that I already had in my pantry:  flour, oil, salt, cream of tartar (I did have to run to the store to replenish my supply on that one), and food coloring. 

You mix it all in a pan, then cook it over medium heat.  As it cooks it thickens and pulls away from the side of the pan.  The next step is to knead it until it is cool.  That's all there is to it.  I made red (which is really pink), blue, green, and yellow.  The pink was my first batch and it is really sticky.  I don't think I cooked it long enough.  In fact, I left all the containers open over the weekend and now they all seem sticky.  I've put them in the fridge to see if that will help.  I hope all my hard (and fun) work is not in vain!  Any body know what to do with sticky modeling dough?  

The recipe I used is:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
Food coloring

In typing this recipe I realized I didn't use enough salt.  Maybe I can knead in more salt and see if that solves the stickiness problem?  I don't want to just throw this out.  It looks and feels like the real thing!  And I really want these kids to enjoy rolling, twisting, squeezing, and shaping this dough.