Saturday, May 31, 2008

05.31.2008 -- Asphalt and Wildlife/Venison

We have been planting trees and as we plant, we find more asphalt. Apparently, where our house now stands, there was once a pad of asphalt. A parking lot. I guess it beats a burial ground or something like that.

See how big this piece is? We're lucky that Brian has access to these machines--otherwise we'd probably still be trying to get this particular slab out.


Deer are a major issue in our neighborhood. People love them and hate them, but most people wish they wouldn't eat stuff that they plant. This is one of about 12 deer that were in the back one morning. I got out my camera just because I could and started taking pictures from our bedroom window. I had a short window to take pictures because pretty soon, I got this one (which I had to take because I am such a faithful amateur photojournalist):

We were talking with a friend who has a chronic deer problem. Come to think of it, almost everyone here seems to have a chronic deer problem. Well this guy, he plans to get a pellet gun. He said that he has seen deer not only stand up to people, but he's seen a deer charge a guy.

Antlers, anyone?

Isn't that a beautiful photograph? I found it on the web @
The Master Guide for Wildlife Photographers: Wildlife Compositions by © Bill Silliker

People put a lot of energy and money into keeping deer off and out of their growing things. Deer repellent, deer fences... I wonder if they ever think about it this way: Yes, the deer are a pain. Yes, we have built entire communities far into their natural territory. Hey--if the sky ever falls, we'll have access to a lot of venison! Ha.

Maybe I should make my neighbor watch this video before he chases any more deer off his property.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

05.15.2008 -- Back on the (Blogging) Horse

A week ago, Brian and Lucy and I were on a plane to Boston. Check that--we were waiting for our sweet rental mini-van in Boston. We got a free upgrade. For some reason, Brian thinks that I have an unquenchable desire to own a mini-van. I say this only because he kept telling me, "Enjoy the ride, Val. This is the only time we'll ever be driving a mini-van." Lucy kept calling it the bus.

So, we had a really nice time in Boston and in New Hampshire. Brian was a navigateur extraordinaire. Really. He made no wrong turns the entire trip. This becomes more impressive if you are familiar with Boston driving and even more impressive when you learn that we had no GPS or formal maps. Actually, we did have a map, but we never had to look at it. I guess we owe a lot to the relatives who took the time to explain it all (to Brian). Thanks!

We spent most of the weekend surrounded by family. This means that Lucy had 9 boy cousins to play with (most older than herself). By the end of the second or third day, she was climbing up and jumping off a 2 foot-high split rail fence. I helped her, but not by much.

Another blogworthy event that happened to take place in Keene, NH, was that I jumped 100 consecutive times on a pogo stick. (First try!) I decide what is blogworthy here--there's no committee!

About pogo sticks let me say this: if you are too light, you have no hope of actually using the pogo as it is meant to be used. I tried the same pogo stick years ago and recognized my own experience when my 8 year-old nephew tried it. Too light. At least there are some benefits to gaining weight. ............100 times!!! :)

It's almost perverse, the sense of satisfaction I get when all the laundry in the house is clean, folded or hung, and put away. I'm almost there today. My house is also fairly clean. Now you know why I have to leave the house today. Lucy fell asleep in the car while we were running errands. Argh! Now I have to go wake her up.


Right now.

I have to go wake up peaceful, sleepy little Lucy Tatum.

Or we'll have no peace tonight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

05.07.2008 -- Feeling Dumb as Motivation

I got a call last night from Wendy, who calls people to conduct the annual election survey for the Annenberg Foundation.

It was a long call, and if I didn't have Tivo, I might have been frustrated. That is a little depressing to admit, but there it is. Besides being a little inconvenient, the survey was humbling and a little disturbing. There were so many questions posed to me that I had a really hard time answering that I decided last night to do something about it.

At one point in the survey, I was asked to assign specific proposals to candidates. I felt clueless; since I haven't had to vote lately, I've tuned it all out. Anyway, I asked Wendy if she would tell me the answer after I told her what I thought. She said she really didn't know or have that information. What?! Maybe it was true.

Now hear this:

You are reading my official declaration to learn more about candidates, process, policies and issues so I can be an informed voter.

I'm going to be keeping track on If I find any other sites that I think are worth my time, maybe I'll stick those up here, too.

If you took the time to read this, maybe you'll want to take the time to ask me what I think about politics, etc., too. I have been avoiding political discussions all my life. I guess I found it boring and thought/think that most of the information coming through the media has so much spin on it as to make it almost worthless. But that's really just an excuse. I'm determined not to avoid politics any more. I think being an informed voter, at the very least, is important.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

05.06.2008 -- Thanks, Bro...

My brother went and made me a Zeer.

Not a pot, a website.

It only cost about a million bucks, and took over a year to do it, but he loves me a lot. I am a pretty good little sister.

...That kind of thing is harder than it looks. He quit his other job to raise capital and start this Zeer thingy for me. I love food and I love reviews, so it's the perfect gift. Thanks, bro. The site is great.

...I almost wish I had some sort of debilitating food allergy so I could use it to better advantage. Right now, even without allergies, I can go to Zeer to check out the nutritional information and reviews on food that I buy at the grocery store.

Don't get me wrong, I like to go out to eat, but I actually prefer to cook at home most of the time. That way I know what's going into my meal. I check labels at the grocery store, but I'm finding now that I have Lucy, I have less time to do that--between keeping things on the shelves and Lucy relatively happy. It's nice to be able to make decisions about what I want in my pantry at home before I get to the store.

My favorite part about Zeer, though, is that I get to read the reviews that people write about stuff. (Of course, I review, too. I do my part.)

I am a review nut. I subscribe to Consumer Reports (in both senses). I like Epinions and other websites' review features. Am I wrong to want to know more about what I buy before I have buyer's remorse? I am not, and neither are you.

Don't believe he made it for me? Click on the Techcrunch link here:

See? Did you happen to notice the part about the target group??? Did I mention that I am a woman who is 31 years old?

Don't feel bad that no one has ever made you a Zeer. It doesn't happen every day. To make you feel better, I will tell you a few things I have never had happen to me:

No one ever made me a Google.
I have never gone to Hawaii.
I have never been serenaded from, or while I was standing on, a balcony.
I have never had my very own pony.
I never owned a Barbie.

Feel better now? Now that I look at that list, I see that someone was bound to make me a Zeer sooner or later.

I should get something for Mike to thank him, but what would be an appropriate gift? Maybe flowers. Maybe a t-shirt that says, "I made my sister a Zeer and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

No... He really went through a lot of trouble.

I should get him both.

Mike has had this idea for a long time. He's lucky to have a wife like Molly, who let him throw caution to the entrepreneurial wind to give this dream legs to stand on. She's pretty great: gorgeous, funny, calm, very easy to talk to (despite her massive brain--you've gotta love that in a person). Of course, it could be the fact that we're the same age that makes for easy conversation with Molly.


I'm just going to make a quick call to verify something...


Hey, did I tell you that my brother adores his wife so much that he made her a Zeer?


Okay, so I'm a joker. But the site's no joke. Zeer is real. Good job, Mike!
Here's another link to a Zeer review:

Monday, May 5, 2008

05.05.2008 -- Wedding Pictures

This weekend, besides going to yoga on Saturday morning, I was taking, editing, or dealing with wedding pictures. Friday was the wedding. Saturday the reception. It was a good experience.

Crystal and I got together Saturday morning to pick out pictures to develop for the reception. This was much harder to do than it was to take the actual photos. It went down to the wire, with last minute errands and separation of tasks saving the day.

Crystal at the reception

At the reception, one girl came up to me and said, "You suck at taking pictures."

I thought, "I guess you can't please everyone..."

Then she said, "I mean you suck in a good way. I mean I wish I could take pictures like you. I'm jealous of your skills, so you suck."

I didn't recognize this girl, so I have only one real guess about how she evaluated my "skills." She must have seen all of the photos displayed and assumed that I took all of them. I didn't. I took some of them. Would you take the time to explain that? I didn't. I think I said "oh," then nodded and smiled very broadly.

Trying to sleep Saturday night after the reception (and after reviewing photos), my mind was... electrified. I couldn't sleep because I kept reviewing what I could have done better and what I could do in the future. My thoughts also touched on nearly every creative aspect of my life. It was almost like I was sleeping, but I was aware enough of my surroundings that I know I wasn't, really. It's been a while since I was so immersed in something.

A bizarre experience-- but not unpleasant.

I haven't done any hard core editing to any of this stuff, but here are some photos I like from the reception:

Bride and Groom

Groom has moves.


Friend of the family

Is she shocked, or just a bit of an actress?