Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Things That Say Summer to Me

This week's Monday Listicle is about summer. We all have certain things that speak to us of summer. Mostly they stem from our childhood, and your list would be different from mine. These are the top 10 things that make summer real for me.

1. Corn on the cob. All my life, corn on the cob has been a summer time food. Corn on the cob tastes so much better than off the cob. And the butter! Lots of butter dripping off the corn and pooling on the plate. Hot and crisp and delicious!
Corn on the cob
 2. Watermelon!  I love a cold, juicy, sweet watermelon. Nowadays you can buy it all year round, but when I was growing up, watermelon was strictly a summer food. The grownups would slice it and hand out big pieces for everyone. Another drippy delight, but with the added benefit of stickiness. What's not to love?

3. Bare feet. When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, we never wore shoes outside during the summer. Or the spring. Or most of the fall. Or some parts of the winter. But I digress. Little feet could carry a lot of dirt, especially since digging to China was a very popular pastime. We moved to Central California with its 110 degree heat and discovered that a black asphalt street could burn your tootsies pretty severely. Which meant, of course, that you had to run across the street instead of walking. Other than that, nothing changed. Now add those dirty bare feet to the sticky, drippy goodness of watermelon, and you've got summer!

Bare feet
4. Popsicles. And by Popsicles, I mean real Popsicle brand frozen treats with two sticks that you broke apart to get two pops. Two! Two frozen, drippy, sticky sugar bombs! And, yes, we're back to food.

5. Barbecued Steak. Yep. More food. When I was growing up, my parents' one luxury was barbecued steak on Saturday. I have the fondest memories of playing in the back yard on the freshly  mowed lawn while Daddy grilled the steak. He picked the steaks personally from the local meat market and slathered them with his own secret sauce. I know the recipe, but if I told you, I'd have to kill you. Now throw in some homemade french fries, corn on the cob, and watermelon for dessert, and you've got yourself the perfect meal. The. Perfect. Meal.

Steak on the grill
6. The Beach Boys. Ah, Endless Summer. Daddy hung stereo speakers outside on the patio and listened to music as he barbecued. We came to call it Saturday Music. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Glen Campbell, Roy Orbison, The Four Seasons, and The Tijuana Brass. But The Beach Boys made it summer.

7. Drive-In Movies. There are very few of these in existence today, but when I was a teenager, we actually had choices: McHenry Drive-In, Ceres Drive-In, Stockton 99, Briggsmore. Briggsmore was the first to go. It's sad really. Drive-in theaters were awesome!  You and your friends would pull into the dusty lot just before dark and sit on the hood of your car to check out the boy situation. As the sun went down, the temperature dropped to something bearable, and you hit the concession stand as the previews were starting. You worked your way back to your car, strategically routing your way past the car of that cute boy in your science class. Finally, just as the movie started, a summer breeze came up, sometimes carrying a distant herbal smoke from the other side of the lot. I feel sorry for you if you never experienced the drive-in. It really was awesome.

Drive-in theater

8. The Ice Cream Man! The purveyor of fine frozen goods for one mere dime. Yes, I'm that old. We might be outside playing when we heard it. That lovely little jingle that meant only one thing. Ice Cream! What happened next took great speed. We rushed inside to our parents and danced around as they came up with a dime for each of us. Sometimes begging was involved. I'm not ashamed to admit it. It was ice cream! Next, dime firmly clutched in dirty little fist, we ran outside hoping he hadn't already passed us by. There he was! We rushed to the curb and waved, and he stopped. He always stopped! The exchange was made, and we were in frozen sticky heaven!

Vintage Ice Cream Truck

9.  Sleeping in. I was born at 10:35 P.M. Maybe that's why I've always been a night person. When I was a teenager, I would sometimes stay up all night reading. Just not bother going to sleep that night. Being a teacher means I have to overcome my natural tendencies and practice that early-to-bed-early-to-rise thing. But when school's out, it takes no time at all for my natural disposition to take over. That first night of staying up past midnight lets me know it's really summer time.

10. The smell of peaches. We live in the San Joaquin Valley, which produces the majority of California's agricultural products. California, by the way, produces almost 13% of the nation's agricultural products. So we've got fruit. We've got fresh fruit stands on every other corner once you get out of town, and out of town is never far around here. When I was in high school, I walked along the main highway through Manteca (self-proclaimed Crossroads of California.) Highway 120 was a prime truck route for transporting fresh fruit and veggies to the canneries and packing plants. There is nothing to compare to the smell of a full truckload of fresh peaches, warm in the valley sun. It is divine. Simply divine. The peaches are ripe in June. Peaches mean summer.

Peach half

How about you? What means summer to you?


Monday, June 24, 2013

My Top Ten Photos

I've been wanting to hook up with the great bloggers on the Monday Listicles blog hop for a while now, but I just haven't managed get my posts ready. This week's topic inspired me to make a big effort because it's something I've been spending a lot of time on . This week, we're sharing 10 of our best pictures.

As you know, I'm striving to become a not terrible photographer, and sharing what I'm learning at my other blog, Camera Crazy (now defunct). I've been taking pictures of relatives as well as pictures of our vacation spots. All of these pictures were taken in the last year, and I'm pretty proud of them. They're really not terrible!

The Athlete and Miss Sunshine
The Athlete and Miss Sunshine

My daughter-in-law, Caryn, called and asked me to take pictures of the girls for a Father's Day surprise. Of course I jumped at the chance! This is my favorite picture from the day, but they're all pretty adorable because of the subjects!

Flowers hanging on to the cliff
Hanging On
The Hillbilly and I visited Fort Bragg, CA last week. It's a beautiful, relaxing place, and I love it. While we were there, we visited the botanical gardens, and I got lots of great pictures. This one is my favorite. It speaks to me and tells a story. I love the colors too.

Boy and Walrus meeting
The Meeting

I have to admit that I just got lucky on this one. I even took it with my phone! It's one of my favorite pictures anyway just because it's such an awesome image. This was taken at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA. I have no idea who the boy is, but I'm glad he was there.

Pretty little girl in Easter outfit
The Princess at Easter

We've taken a picture of The Princess sitting on this bench in my mom's yard every Easter since she was one. She's getting to be a great little model for me, and I love this mood we established in this shot.

Meagan and Jenna

two girls

running away

Jenna is my niece and Meagan is her friend. They are two of the sweetest girls on the planet.  They were so great the day we did these. I made them do all kinds of poses and made them sit there while I fiddled with my camera settings. We'd do the same pose two or three times while I tried different settings. They never complained, and we had lots of fun. 

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
We visited the Grand Canyon last August, and of all the pictures I took, these are my favorite. We liked them so well, we had them blown up on canvas and hung them in the living room. 

So those are ten of my favorites. I think they're pretty not terrible. Which do you like best? Any constructive criticism? Leave a comment!

I'm also linking up with the Grand Social over at Grandma's Briefs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fourth of July Fun

I have always loved Independence Day, even when I didn't know that's what it was called. When I was little, it was just the Fourth of July. Do you remember the old joke?
         Does England have a fourth of July?
         Of course! It's the day after the third!

I remember picking out fireworks with my brother. He liked those black "snakes." They just stunk up the place as far as I was concerned. I loved the sparklers. All the kids would stand in a circle and "write" their names with them. They were great back in those days! They burned brighter and longer than today's sparklers, and they weren't made of wood. They were made of wire that got really hot, and then you dropped it on the ground, and since all the kids were running around barefoot, someone always stepped on one and...okay. Maybe that part wasn't so good.

Nowadays, we always go to  my sister's house on the fourth. My brother-in-law grills hot dogs, and we have homemade ice cream. When it gets dark we all troop out to the front yard for fireworks in the street. The men used to light them, but the nephews have taken over now. Okay, the nephews are all over 21, so technically they're men, but still. You know what I mean.

I remember when my kids were little we'd shop for T-shirts or little red, white, and blue outfits. It was so much fun dressing up the little ones.

 I wish I had a little one to dress up! All I've got are the grandkids...wait. I've got the grandkids!!

 Do you have plans for this Independence Day? Share in the comments.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Proofread That Inspirational Poster!

As all of you in the social media world know, one of Facebook's favorite things is the inspirational poster. Of course, they're not actual posters, just the digital version of them. You know, like this:

 Here's my problem. Shouldn't people smart enough to operate Photoshop be smart enough to master simple English? If you're hoping that your graphic is going to go viral, shouldn't you take just a few seconds to proofread it?

Case in point:

It doesn't take a degree in English to see the errors in this cute little poster. There are rules for capitalization, and they don't include capitalizing all of the nouns. "Best friend," by the way, is two words. And what's with the ellipsis (that's what those dots are called) at the end instead of an end mark?
If she were really your best friend, she wouldn't let you post before you proof!

Here's another obvious proofreading goof. At least I hope it's a proofreading goof and not an ignorance goof.

Turn "you" head? Seriously? I also hope the creator of the poster knows that the the pronoun "I" is always capitalized. Also? Missing end mark and capital letter after a comma. And a random capital letter in the middle of a sentence! This just gives me a headache. Honest! The errors just keep coming at me like an endless stream of...of....errors coming at me!
 Maybe it's just me, but I hope that isn't your child.
 It seems unfair to involve such a cute child in a mess like this.
I'll turn my head and walk away now.

Then there are the ones that use the wrong word:

Quick grammar lesson: "Whose" is a possessive pronoun. You use it when discussing who owns something. "Who's" is a contraction meaning "who is."
Whose poster is this? Who's going to take responsibility for this disaster?
Here's an example of a non-inspirational poster. It's supposed to be just for fun. It would be a lot more fun if it were literate!
A quick lesson on word usage: "Loosing" means to let something go. "Losing" means you don't know where it is. "Loose" means not firmly attached, or not tight. It can be used as a verb, but not in this poster.
Loosing the eighth graders to do as they will is a sure way of losing my mind! The creator of this poster has a loose grasp on the English language.

 Another example of incorrect usage:

I'm sure you all see it. It's the bane of literate Internet readers everywhere: the your/you're malfeasance that drives intelligent people crazy! Let's go over it one...more...time.  "Your" is a possessive pronoun. It shows that something belongs to you. If you want to say "you are" blowing my cover, you need to use the contraction "you're." This is NOT...THAT...HARD!
Your constant misuse of possessive pronouns as contractions shows me that you're not to be trusted with any type of writing instrument!
 I've collected more examples of these and other errors designed to make English teachers cry, but I'm sure you've had enough for now. I know I've had all I can take!

I'll leave you with one more. This time, you tell me why this one makes me want to curl up under the covers with a two-pound box of See's nuts and chews. Leave your answer in the comments.

Of course the very BEST inspirational posters include the command to SHARE with all your friends.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Hillbilly Friend Is a Friend Forever

My best friend, The Hillbilly, is here to talk about friendship:

Looking back over my life, I began thinking about the many good friends I have and some that are no longer with us.  In doing so, I caught myself smiling, because I connect them with particular events.  Some of these events have to do with us being helpful to one another, the others have to do with humorous events.

As for helpful, when I went through really bad times, emotional and financial, I had to come up with some money and get rid of items that I really didn’t want to part with.  So I got estimates on some of these items and then went to some of my friends. 

 One of them was a fishing buddy of mine.  I showed him an estimate I had of my boats, which was around $3000.  Then I asked If he would give me the $3000 for them and then hold them for me to repurchase.   I told him that I would begin buying them back soon as I could.  He said yes.  We then made up a bill of sale and he gave me the $3000.  Actually, he would probably have just loaned it to me without the rigamarole, but I didn’t feel good about that.  

I called another hunting and fishing buddy of mine and read the estimate I had on my guns  and then asked if he would also purchase them and let me buy them back.  He said yes, but then asked if he actually had to take possession of them.  He said that he didn’t really have the room for them.   So I also made up a bill of sale and he gave me the money.   I then went to my boss and did the same thing with my car.  He bought it, insured it, and I continued to use it as I repaid him.  That was years ago,  but it meant a lot, and I still am thankful for the help they gave me.  And, as I said, I smile when I think of such things that were said, such as here is the money ----- but do I actually have to take the guns?

As for humor, one friend of mine (for 42 years now) has been involved with a lot of different things with me.  He has fished with me, gigged for fish with me, cave crawled with me, sang in a quartets with me, sang at funerals with me, been involved with a lot of church activities with me, and we were involved with each other’s weddings.  After our marriages, both of our families went to fairs, Six Flags, Worlds of Fun, etc.  With that much togetherness, there is always some humor.  

By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
With the fishing, it seemed like a lot of funny situations had to do with snakes.  I suspect that he was a snake magnet.  Two different times, while float fishing, we wound up with snakes in the boat.  On one float trip, with him and another great friend, he and I decided to try to get to a good looking fishing spot where the water had been too swift to allow us to get to it by boat.  To do this, we had to wade part way across the river to a tree that was lying across deep water, with the idea of using it like a bridge.  

I had seen a couple of snakes drop off of it but didn’t say anything to him because I figured it would spook him.  We climbed over the tree and I looked down and there was another large water moccasin lying on another tree right below the one we crossed.   We had just started down the bank when he got his fishing plug caught in his coat and wanted me to help get it out.  While I was working on it, I saw another water moccasin crawl under a log right by my foot.  I told him about that and lifted the log to get a better look at it.  It was lying beside a second one.  I then told him about that being about the sixth snake I had seen in the short distance we had walked and told him that it appeared that we were into a nest of them.   I suggested that it might not be wise to try to go any further.  He agreed.  So we went back to the tree.  I told him that since we were there, I wanted to climb out on the tree and take a few casts before we left.  Then, as I was walking out on it, another snake, (the 7th), slid off.  

That's My Hillbilly!
By this time, my buddy was about ready to freak, so as we began getting off the tree to cross the river, he got in the water first.  Then he told me to hurry up and also get into the water. "If the snakes come, I want them to have a choice."  At that point I was laughing so hard that the snakes would have probably thought I was crazy and went after him anyway.  

There are a lot of other occasions that I catch myself smiling about, but another one I find particularly funny was when he and I were on a ride at the fair.  It was always one of my favorites.  It looked kind of like a train but it would go upside down in a circle.  It would start rocking back and forth, then eventually hang you upside down.  It would then go around in circles one direction a few times, then again hang you upside down, then reverse and go around in circles the other direction, again hanging you upside down.  This particular time, as we hung upside down for the first time, and I was laughing and having a great time, he suddenly says, “I hate this ride”.  I then said, “What do you mean you hate this ride?  We have been riding it together for years.”  He then said, “Yes, and I have hated it the whole time."  By this time, I was laughing so hysterically that I was in tears.   

By basic_sounds (originally posted to Flickr as cne) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Later, he went on to tell me that he had been semi-claustrophobic and also hated the cave crawling.  He said that the only reason he went with us was that he had just wanted to hang around with my other buddy and me. 

Yes, he was and is a good friend.  Yes, I do still laugh at him.  And yes, he probably could tell you some funny things about me or tell you how easily I could get you into trouble or into unplanned adventures.  But what I say is true and what he would say is -------- also true!  Oh well, what do you expect from a half hyper, Missouri, Ozarkian, redneck hillbilly!

Well, what would you do if your best friend was about to be eaten by snakes?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flashback Friday: My Little Photography Habit

Today, for my newer readers (hahahahaha), I want to flash back to my early blogging days with this post.

Originally posted 11/4/11
As I mention on my "About Me" page, I'm trying to learn a little about photography. I've got a nice, entry-level DSLR (Canon EOS Rebel T3), some books, Photoshop Elements, and a subscription to Popular Photography. I have talented friends who are willing to help me. One of the things that seems to be lacking is time to get out of the house and take pictures, but once in a while I get out there.

Here are the books I'm using to help me in my endeavors.

Understanding Exposure
Better Photo Basics
Digital Photography Workbook for Dummies
I enjoy taking pictures of nature and children. I'm not very good at photographing children because it's hard to get them to hold still while I'm adjusting my aperture, shutter speed, white balance, etc. I thought I had a solution to the problem, but as it turns out, tranquilized children don't look really good in pictures. I'll keep working on it.

In the mean time, here are some of my favorite shots.

 All of these were taken in June with a borrowed Nikon D200
One of my first efforts. Good model, but I was still trying to figure out blurring the background.
Taken the same day. Cute model. 
The Grand Tetons
This makes me want to write a story. What story would you write?
The Farmer's Daughters
Missouri---Swinging Bridge
 Well, that's where I started. I'll share more at a later date. When I think you've sufficiently recovered from these. Let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Just try to break it to me gently.

Not much has changed regarding my photography hobby since this originally posted. I still don't have enough time to get out and practice. I think I've improved some, but I have a terrible time getting a sharp focus. I think the problem is that my hands tend to be shakey, but I'm not nuts about the sharpness of pictures taken with the tripod either. Maybe it's the camera. Maybe I need a new camera! I'll let you know how The Hillbilly takes that information. 

And I do still want your comments on these shots. How can they be improved?

(Full Disclosure:The books in this post are books I use and recommend. Clicking on the books will take you to Amazon where you can find more information. If you were inclined to buy one of them, I would receive a small contribution to my retirement account. That fact does not influence my recommendation.)