Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010


This Memorial Day weekend, I attended the Wings of Freedom Tour at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View. It was a chance to see three WWII planes up close and to hear stories from some of the men who flew these planes.

The Wings of Freedom Tour is sponsored by the Collings Foundation, a non-profit group that flies these planes around the country for people to experience. It was a gorgeous day at the airfield with sunny blue skies. Moffett Field used to be a Naval air station but is now a joint civil-military airport owned and operated by the NASA Ames Research Center.
You may wonder what inspired me to attend this event. One of my favorite movie genres has always been WWII. It's probably because my dad was in the war that I developed this interest but I've always been intrigued by these movies and the historical events of the time. This was a chance to see and tour the planes that were are part of our living history.

The planes included a P-51 Mustang, single seat fighter. For $2,200, you could go up in this plane for a 30 minute flight. At least two of these flights took off while I was there. The cost is tax deductible and goes towards the care and maintenance to keep these planes flying across America for us to see. This little plane was beautifully maintained, it looked shiny and new.

The second plane was a B-17 bomber also known as a Flying Fortress. There was quite a line to go through this plane and it wasn't moving very fast, so I went over to the other plane, the B-24 Liberator. While you enter at the front of the plane for the B-17, the B-24 is different in that you can only enter through the tail end. With only a few people over there, up I went up into the plane. There was  a very narrow catwalk over the bomb area inside and I could not imagine how those men with their heavy jackets and parachutes could get through there. It was actually a bit claustrophobic inside.

I listened and talked to some of the men (currently in their eighties and nineties) as they told of their experiences flying over Europe and Asia. One was shot down towards the end of the war and spent 90 days as a POW in Germany. There were POW's from other countries in there as well. The day the Americans liberated that camp, he said the Russians went into town to get drunk while the French left en masse, coming back with a goat which they then barbecued.

It's hard to believe, but you could actually go up in a flight for $425 on either of the bombers. I would have loved to have seen those two in flight but by the time we were through, we still had two hours before they would take flight.

On this weekend each year, I watch movies and documentaries about the wars and think of my father, my uncles and all the other people who served in our fight for freedom. It makes me sad that those who served in WWII, called Our Greatest Generation, are now disappearing and along with them, their stories. So the next time I see my dad, I will finally write down his stories and memories.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Weekend

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Ah, the weekend is finally here. A three-day weekend. One of the pleasures of life.

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I’m about to make my “to do” list for the next three days. I’m looking forward to the farmer’s market, running a few errands (especially since I was home sick last weekend), a bit of puttering around the house, watching a movie or two and just plain rest and relaxation.

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The temperature is expected to be in the high seventies which will be great after a week of mixed weather (sun, rain, clouds). Summer is almost here!

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Spring and summer mean it’s time to organize too, although I feel like I am getting a late start this year. The problem is once you’ve done it, you have to keep doing it over and over!

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Whatever your plans this holiday weekend, I hope you enjoy yourself. I’m going to sit back, put up my feet, grab a cup of tea and a good read. Yes, a holiday weekend is right up there on my list of favorite things.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Home But Not Alone

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Yes, homebound I’ve been for five days now. This is one cold that just hangs on. Even so, I was somewhat excited when my new camera lens (Tamron 70 – 200mm f2.8) arrived last Wednesday, but didn’t have the energy to remove it from its shipping box until Friday afternoon.

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I took it from its box and attached it to my camera. Well, let me just say this… a two and a half pound lens on the camera is not easy to hold when you weigh just over a hundred pounds and have skinny arms!

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I knew it was going to be heavy but I’ve never had so much shaking when taking photos. Yes, I know I can use a tripod or monopod, but I enjoy shooting freely while hand holding my camera.

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Now, maybe I didn’t give it a real chance. Maybe I was more unsteady being that I was sick. But gosh, it really was heavy!

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Besides being heavy, it was a big splurge with my tax refund. And so, I have decided to return it. As much as I love zoom lenses and large apertures, I feel it is the right thing to do.

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I even got out my current lens (Nikon 55 – 200mm f4 – 5.6) and took the photos posted here today. I didn’t notice a big difference in those from the new camera but then I took all the photos in good light during the middle of the afternoon and I didn’t take any portraits.

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So now I’m happier with my old lens although I know it has limitations in low light situations. While researching lenses the past few days, I realized that the lens that would make me really happy is the Nikon 105mm f2.8 Micro.

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Nikon calls their macro lenses “micro” but it really is an excellent lens for close up photography. I’ve always enjoyed shooting macro and am always trying to get closer to my subjects than my current lenses allow.

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I will definitely have to put that lens on my wish list. The decision regarding that one is whether to get the auto focus or manual focus version. The manual focus is much less expensive and my 50mm f1.8 lens is a manual one. I do like the auto focus very much though.

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As you might expect, Miss Gracie has been quite happy having me home, cold or no cold. We spend time in the sun together, also known around here as “cat happiness”.

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There are a hundred things I could have been doing these past days, but this cold has left me feeling unmotivated to do much besides check email, surf the web a bit, watch an old movie or two and cat nap with Gracie.

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Oh, and yes. I did feel much better while I was shooting these photos, some in my bedroom and some as I was relaxing in a chair in my living room after perusing the latest magazines.

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Since it is now spring, I recently removed the red pillows, throw blanket, flowers and such that I had out for my fall/winter decor.

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And, I took out my green and off-white pieces and put them in their place.

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The fresh look of spring is so welcoming; I enjoy lounging in my living room while the light comes through the skylight. That’s also known as cat nap time!

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I actually do not get much use out of my living room. Most often, company winds up being in the kitchen or dining room.

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And because my computer, TV and creative space are upstairs, I normally spend my time there.

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Really, Nippy gets the most use of it as she cat naps on the back of the sofa for at least 10 hours a day!

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Gracie just follows the sun, starting in the back room upstairs, then down to the living room followed by the stairway and then back up to our bedroom.

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I’m with Miss Gracie – just follow the cat to get the best sun!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Showers Bring May Flowers

may17-13 Flowers are blooming all over! One day rain, another day sunny and bright. Good for flowers, good for people too.

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Gracie is relishing the sun each afternoon as it flows into “our” bedroom. Nippy remains on the couch, no matter how much sun comes inside.

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Our local Whole Foods Market now sells wonderful bowls of mixed flowers. How nice to bring them home along with the milk and bananas.

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My town has not had a lot of garage sales yet this year. I think it will pick up this summer. Can’t wait to go treasure hunting!

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The last few weekends, I’ve purchased lots of fresh fruit and veggies from  the farmer’s market. It’s the best this time of year, with more great fruit coming in now. I also bought a pistachio French pastry that was to die for although I regretted eating the entire thing afterwards!

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The rainy season will be over soon but that’s okay – these are just for decoration.

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Baby roses in planters are blooming now, too. So pretty to watch them come up from my kitchen window.

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If only my backyard roses looked so fresh, but they are out in the direct sun for most of the day.

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I just love my new garden gnome. I like the mossy look of him as he stands guard near my front door.

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I am fortunate that I have a window office at work. I can see the wild hares running in the big open field next to us (if I’m lucky) as well as see squirrels going by. Plenty of birds come by too, including Canadian geese, big ravens, sparrows, hummingbirds and your average pigeon.

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The staff was quite dismayed recently when some of them witnessed an off-leash dog chase and capture a rabbit. I actually called the police (the police station is located right across the field from us) to report it as the dog was accompanied by a man. Turns out the man said he was training the dog in the field but could not control what the dog did naturally. One of our staff went out and confronted the man so he did not go anywhere. We are a large group of animal lovers at my office!

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Now that it’s Spring, there are neighborhood ducks that wander around on our street. I haven’t spotted any little ducklings yet. Still looking.

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I love my rusty, crusty little fence and rusty chair in the garden. Occasionally I hear people suggest that I paint the chair, but I adore the rustic feel of it.

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Miscellaneous

  • My new Tamron 70 – 200mm f2.8 lens arrives tomorrow! I’ve been wanting this for some time and decided to use my tax refund to treat myself (after much deliberation).
  • Wednesday is a holiday – yeah for a day off in the middle of the week!
  • After avoiding colds and flu and being around plenty of sick people, I just got my first cold in two years. I don’t have any cold medicine but I am eating wintergreen Altoids. Do you think that will help? ;-)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Anyone Have a Magic Wand I Could Borrow?

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Neat. Uncluttered. Simple. Clean. That is how I want my creative space. Somehow, between April 2009 and now, I have collected too many items. And my formerly redecorated space has become… dare I say it? Cluttered.

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Yes, cluttered (sigh). How does one choose which items to keep out and which to store away? I love them all.

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I’ve read enough organizing books and watched enough organizing television shows to know that 1) I don’t have enough space for it all and 2) I don’t have the proper storage items.

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But what fun I had acquiring each item. Some are gifts, some are swaps. Some are projects from workshops. Some are from flea markets and some are from my closet.

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It really doesn’t matter where they came from – I like them all.

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And this is only one area – you haven’t seen my floor yet. Once upon a time it all fit. I sense a big project coming up soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Note of Thanks

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Next week, we are having a special staff retreat and appreciation party at work. As part of this day, all managers were asked to write thank you notes to their staff.

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Managers were distributed note cards to write in but I just couldn’t use the ones I was given. They were simple, printed note cards in muted shades of color.

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To be honest, I wouldn't use them myself but then I have a different standard of what I like to send to others. The cards represent me, and so I just have to make them special.

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The first thing I did was print photos of some of my floral photographs. They were used to make the cards along with a nice watercolor, textured cardstock.

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Each envelope was then hand lettered. I don’t do this too often so I am a little rusty but hopefully they won’t notice!

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Lastly, I added a bit of embellishment using a rubber stamp on all but this last one. A hand written note of my thanks and appreciation to each, and they were done. Oh, to have the time to sit and practice my lettering.