Bible Verse of the Day

Monday, December 31, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/31/07

Well, today's the last day. I wanted to get today's picture in early because I have so much stuff to do today before going to play music for New Year's Eve. Recently, on 123-Scrap, the question of the day was "What is your most favorite Christmas present?" My answer was all my new camera gear. I got a master flash, a monopod, and an electronic picture frame to view the photos. Well, it's hard to take a picture of your camera with your camera, so I chose to post my second most favorite gift.

Daddy got me an i-pod nano. We've been inseperable. This will make riding the bus even better because I can listen to music OR catch up on movies that I don't normally have time to see. He was very generous and gave my brother one, too. His is gray, though. I did use my new flash to get this photo because the on-board flash was just too harsh and I kept getting hotspots. This was the last of about 15 shots using various angles on the flash. I discovered that putting the diffuser on the flash and angling it away from the i-pod gave me the best picture. I'm loving learning about using the flash and the camera.

I hope you've enjoyed this month-long journey of photography challenge as much as I have. Some days have been pretty tough to figure out what to take a picture of, but then December has Christmas, so there were a LOT of photo ops available for the rest of the time. I'm glad we weren't doing this in August! You can only take so many pictures of the San Antonio River in the summer before you can't figure out what day it is.

I wish for each of you a happy and prosperous New Year. Be safe, don't drink and drive, and most of all, have fun!

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/30/07

We went to New Braunfels after church to rehearse with the band for the New Year's Eve gig that DH and I are playing in. He's been with this band for over 30 years and I've sat in with them a couple of times. The first time we rehearsed this year it was playing 2nd Alto Sax, but the second time (Sunday) I played Baritone Sax and sang. This will be my first non church-related singing. I'm afraid it's not going to sound too good because I was sight singing and sight reading a lot of stuff. Oh well, it's at the Senior Citizens Center, so maybe they won't notice.

On the way up, the weather was beautifully clear and sunny. I remember when I was little, my father's company would always hold their company picnic at Landa Park in New Braunfels. We would always swim in the Comal River right below the power plant that his company owned. The plant was a hydro-electric plant that I believe was idle, even then. (This was in the early- to mid-70's.) We also rode paddle boats, swam in the natural spring pool (COLD!!!!), ride bikes in the park, play miniature golf, play on the playground. It was a very busy day for us kids!

Since Daddy had access to the plant, we would use the showers there to get cleaned up for dinner and dancing later in the evening. You know how you have a favorite landmark that defines a particular place for you? I've talked about the Tower Life Building in San Antonio in previous posts. For New Braunfels, it was always the old power plant that towered over the city. You could see it for miles. It was sad for me when I didn't get to visit it anymore.

Now the whole area has been renovated. The river bank we used to swim on is now covered with concrete and sidewalks with stairs down into the water for small craft (like canoes and such), the park is more developed and most of it is owned by either Schlitterbahn or the Wurstfest Association. But the power plant has been converted into condos. Of all things! Who would have thought there would be industrial housing in little old New Braunfels? So today's picture is of the renovated and repurposed LCRA Hydroelectric Generating Plant.

Even though the brick isn't red any more, she's still beautiful, isn't she?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/29/07

Well, I forgot to tell you the big news from yesterday. I took DS#2 to Boerne (pronounced ber-nie for you non-natives...) to take his driving test. I took him there because the lines at the local office are always long and I just didn't feel like standing in line for an hour before I got my number to be called an hour later. Small towns usually aren't a problem. In fact, we were number 44 and they called number 38 just after we walked in. And number 42 left! Imagine three small driver's license offices for a metropolitan area of about one and a quarter million people. That's why we went to Boerne.

He was being parent taught, but we misplaced the paperwork, so since he turned 18, I figured all he'd have to do is take his driving test. Well, lo and behold, the DPS office we had been going to put in his record that we had waived the driving test, so he's officially a licensed driver now, without taking a driving test. I'm not happy about that part, but I'm happy that he's able to drive on his own now. He hasn't soloed, yet, because he still needs a bit more practice to get around town, but I'm certain it won't be long before he's on his own.

So today was fence building day. We got a late start because when it was time to get going, DS#1 decided he needed to go to the bank and to the store. Well, we also needed some hardware for the fence, so we went, too. Things like poles, board hangars, etc. Anyway, we got one pole set and realized that we forgot to get another bag of quick-crete cement. Well, tomorrow's another day. It's going a lot smoother than the side we did last year. At least there's no tree in the way and it's a shorter distance.

While we were outside, we let Snickers out with us. DS#1 has become so attached to that dog. Last night, after we got home from Boerne, he called me asking if I would help him at the store getting some things set up. I took the dog with me for the ride. He loves riding. DS didn't have any problem with the dog being in the store. It's not finished yet, so there's nothing he could mess up. Today, he needed to move his truck out of the way so the neighbors could back out of their driveway and he put the dog in the back of the truck to move it over 10 feet. Then he left the tailgate down when he was done. Later, Snickers jumped up into the bed of the truck and laid down like he's always been a truck dog. NOT!

I have to admit that I didn't take this picture. DH did. Generally, DS#1 won't sit still for a photo, but since his dog was with him, he got this. I like to call this "A boy and his dog."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/28/07

One of the many "events of the season" takes place tomorrow night at the Alamodome, our indoor American football stadium. The Alamobowl featuring the Texas A&M Aggies and the Penn State Nittany Lions is tomorrow and we have people from all over wandering around downtown. Two of my co-workers and I walked from our office to the Rivercenter Mall for lunch because I needed to exchange a pair of shoes DH got for Christmas. There were people wearing Penn State gear looking lost, standing in the middle of the sidewalks, generally being tourists.

On the way back, however, was this sight:

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band

This isn't the whole band. I've seen the whole band. In fact I've watched the whole band march the half-time show at the very venue they'll be at tomorrow. I'm not an Aggie fan, either, but hey, they're the Texas team playing in my hometown, so I guess I can be a temporary fan.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/27/07

Well, I'm caught up on the Picture A Day as of today! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm running out of steam. Today's photo is of a Christmas ornament that one of my co-workers gave me as a gift. He put a lot of thought into it because as you see, it's an angel singing from a book. When I pointed it out, he said that he chose it specifically for that reason. I talk about singing in the choir at church all the time at work. Wow! Someone pays attention to what I say! How humbling that someone at work would remember my passions and honor that with such a gift. Thank you, Frank! You're a dear.

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/26/07

I can tell I'm starting to get tired of taking pictures. I didn't think it would happen, but I had my camera with me all day and didn't take a single picture until we met as a family for supper at Mamacita's Restaurant. Mamacita's is DS#1's favorite Mexican food place and we usually go there on his birthday, but it didn't work out this year. So we made up for it a few days later. They started out in one of the small towns around San Antonio and got so popular that they expanded to three other small towns before they built the BIG one in San Antonio.

The decor at the one in San Antonio is like an outdoor plaza, complete with sky and shooting stars! The architecture is Spanish Moor and the entrance has a grand chandelier and turret. I took my camera in with me since it was getting late and I knew I still needed to take a picture of something. This picture doesn't do the beauty of the entrance justice, but it's an attempt to capture some of the grandeur of the place.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/25/07

Well, I already posted a Merry Christmas wish, but I'll do it again, since I'm catching up on the picture a day entries. Part of the challenge is to post every day, but I think with Christmas preparations in the month of December, we should get special dispensation for at least a couple of days, don't ya' think? Any way, I hope that you had a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

We went to the in-laws for Christmas day. The tradition there (for the five years we've known her and time immemorial before that for the rest of the family) is that SMIL's son and DIL and their four kids come down from Dallas and have Christmas dinner and open gifts. This year it got pushed back to evening supper because they couldn't get out of Dallas early enough (it's a five hour drive). SMIL normally gets everyone a shirt for Christmas and FIL gives us cash. Since she's not been feeling well for the past month, she didn't get to shop, so she gave cash. We had the hardest time coming up with what to give them that they didn't already have. And I really didn't want to be exchanging cash. That just didn't make sense. So I made a CD clock for them. I knew there was going to be controversy because I didn't put all of her kids on there, but honestly, there weren't any good pictures and there wasn't enough room! Sure enough, when there was only DH and his brother and their families, along with pictures of FIL and SMIL, it wasn't good enough for her. FIL was thrilled with it. I even used background paper that reminded me of a particular outfit she loves to wear.

Okay, now it sounds like I'm justifying, and I guess I am. I put it together Christmas morning before we left, but I had spent two hours the previous afternoon getting the photos arranged int Photoshop and printed out. I think it turned out beautifully. I did take some photos yesterday of her grandkids to make something especially for her. Her birthday is in January, so guess what she's getting? Here's the one I made:

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/24/07

Christmas Eve. This is traditionally (for the last 14 years) one of the busiest nights of the year. Our church used to have four services on Christmas Eve, but it was eventually cut down to three to allow people more time with family between the second and third services. This year we went down to two, one at 6 and one at 11. We used to have snacks in the conference room between services because there wasn't enough time to go anywhere, much less home. So a couple in our choir opened their home to those serving during both services for fellowship and food. Thank you Sam and Monica!

Since DH had to work on Christmas Eve, he left Austin right after we opened gifts. Both sons decided to go home with him, but I stayed to visit with the family a little longer. That had been the original plan anyway, but because DH's company didn't decide if they were working Monday until the previous Thursday, all the plans got thrown into chaos. It was a very upsetting day for me on Saturday and Sunday trying to figure out if I was going to come home with DH so we could take only one vehicle up there or take two cars and I would stay. In the end, it worked out. I had a very nice visit and a beautiful drive home the next day.

The route we take from San Antonio to Austin is through the Hill Country backroads. It is some of the most beautiful country in the world. Yes, I'm biased. Sorry, just can't help it. About halfway, there is a hill that marks the highest point in the journey. It's not such a big deal going to Austin, but coming back home, I look forward to that hill in anticipation of what the vista will behold when we top the hill. Christmas Eve was sunny, clear, and crisp. And though the area is in need of rain, the view is still spectacular.

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/23/07

Since DH had to go to work on Monday, we held Christmas with my family after church on Sunday. We drove up to Austin and had a wonderful supper prepared by SIL's mother, who is Canadian, but still very German. Her parents are visiting from Edmonton through mid-February. They are very nice people, but my brother gets tired of them easily. But then he gets tired of everyone easily. He's such a grump!

Anyway, since it wasn't Christmas eve, yet, DH hadn't done his shopping for me, so I didn't get anything from him. I've just come to accept over the last 26 years that he's never going to do anything ahead of time, so no sense getting upset over it! But there were still lots of gifts to go around and to open. The photo albums and photo clock were hits with the recipients. But the best gift of all appeared to be the "Fur-Real Friends" piglet I got my niece. She carried that thing all evening and would hand it off to other people to hold while she opened another gift or played with a different toy. SIL was so enthralled with the pig that she kept trying to get Kathryn to give it to her. I think I'm going back to buy another one just for her!

So after the flurry of unwrapping gifts, there was a huge mess. What would you expect? I got lots of pictures of people opening or holding their gifts, but this was the best one for today's pictures:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I know I'm behind in my PAD, but I will catch up, probably tomorrow. But for now, I want to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

I hope that the joy of the season surrounds you and your loved ones. Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/22/07

Happy Birthday to my 21 year old son!

My oldest child turned 21 today. It's been a somewhat bittersweet day because I'm so proud of the man he's become, but saddened by the fact that he's not my little baby anymore. He spent the first hours of his day where his night job as a spotlight operator at a dance hall where everyone wanted to buy him a drink. They apparently think it's great fun to get new 21 year-olds drunk. He was responsible and had nothing worse than a buzz. Whew!

DH's office manager had a birthday today as did her daughter. The daughter turned one today. She had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese for her daughter and thought it would be fun to include our son. It was kind of fun seeing his name come across the monitor with his age when everyone else was celebrating 5, 6, 7, 8 years. He even had a cake with 21 candles! It was almost a fire hazard.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/20/07

I took a picture of a Christmas gift I plan to give my father which I made last night. But as I was driving to work this morning, I watched the most beautiful dawn. Since we started this challenge, I have become more acutely aware of light and shadows. I'm not just seeing objects, but the light on them. So, because the dawn held long enough for me to park my truck at work, here is today's picture of the day, the Tower of the Americas at dawn.

I had planned to make a heritage album with the stacks of photos I got from my parents' house at Thanksgiving as a Christmas gift for my father, but I started way too late. When I was at Hobby Lobby the other evening, I picked up a clock movement at the impulse rack by the register because I had been wanting to make a clock for sometime. It sat in my scraproom for two days until I had the brilliant idea to make the CD clock with pictures I've scanned for Daddy's album. I used some of the ink techniques I learned from Tim Holtz' blog this month to distress the black and white prints I made and decorated an AOL throwaway CD I've had for a long time.
I hope he likes it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/20/07

Tonight was DS#2's Winter Band Concert. They should have called it the Christmas Concert since all the music was Christmas related. Harumph on public schools! One song that every band plays at Christmastime is the Leroy Anderson arrangement of Sleigh Ride with the sound of the whip in it in various places. DS is a percussionist and had the covetted part of playing the whip. It's not a real whip. The sound is made with a slap-stick, a very interesting gadget (or percussion toy). The one the school band has wasn't loud enough for him, so last night while trying to get things done and get to choir practice, I had to take him to Home Depot to get the stuff to make his own slap-stick. A pair of 1x4's, a hinge, two drawer pulls, and a few simple tools was all it took. I had to cut the board and shave out space to allow the hinges to be flush with the slapping side, but he put all the hardware on. When the big finale came, there he stood with his contraption, ready to play.

And it sounded really good, too!

Who knows, he might have a future as a carpenter!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/19/07

This morning we woke up to some of the densest fog I've ever seen. The radio personalities were talking about how they got lost on the way into work this morning because they couldn't see the street signs. Sure enough, they weren't kidding. The first picture is what my street looks like in the fog with a sodium street light to illuminate the mist.

I drove to work again today. (I have a hard time riding the bus with my computer, my camera, and my backpack, so I've been driving a lot this month.) I know y'all are probably getting tired of seeing things around my office where I work, but I knew there had to be a beautiful picture out there this morning with the fog. This one is looking down the San Antonio River, south of downtown. I love how the river just disappears into the mist.

I did take another picture of the Tower Life building, but I forgot to take it off manual focus and in the fog, I can't tell if it's out of focus or not. Oh well. Lessons learned for a budding photographer!

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/18/07

A Christmas Party?

No. A baby shower!

Tuesday evening was the Band Boosters' Christmas party, but we actually held a surprise baby shower for one of the band directors and his wife, who is having a baby. She's due January 7, so she's ready any moment now. They are one of the first first-time parents I've ever met that had everything ready for the baby. The room is ready, the car seat is out of the box, although it hasn't made it to the car, yet! As they say in the old society pages, "A good time was had by all."

It kind of made up for the horrible afternoon. I took the afternoon off from work to get some Christmas stuff done and to get ready for the party. Well, since I work downtown and my husband and son don't, we decided to meet for lunch. I figured in all my running around, I could get DS#1 the tire he wanted for Christmas to go on his truck. So we went over the tire store and I bought it and was going to leave him there and continue on with my errands. Then the truck wouldn't start.

AAUUGGH!! (Insert heavy sigh of disgust here). By the time we got things sorted out and a really nice tow truck operator tried to jump my truck, DS's truck was done and he took me across the street (he wouldn't let me walk across five lanes of heavy traffic) to the repair shop there. We've used them before and have had mixed results, but since it was across the street, I figured what the heck. I knew it was the alternator that needed to be replaced because of what happened when we tried jumping it.

So I walked up to the service manager, pointed across the street, with the view you see here, and said, "See that little truck under the tree across the street? It won't run. I need you to fix it." I left it to them to figure out how to get it across the street without a tow truck. I didn't feel like waiting the hour it would take for USAA to get one there and they didn't mind bringing it over. Needless to say, my afternoon plans were shot. DS took me home, I scanned photos for my father's album I'm making, and scrounged something to take to the party.

30 minutes before we had to leave for the party, the garage called. The truck was ready. It cost me $463 to get it out and I still needed to get a new battery, but wasn't willing to pay another $130 for that. Why does stuff like this happen at Christmas time?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/17/07

I left home this morning at dawn, when the sun wasn't up quite yet, but the sky was lightening up. Those are the times I hate driving in for two reasons. First, the sun will be in my eyes below the sun visor and I'll be driving with all the other sun-blinded folks. Second, there are some wonderful photo opportunities when the light is that color and I can't stop to shoot them. Even after the sun came up, as I approached my parking lot, the light was a beautiful color and I got this shot. Main Street, San Antonio. What caught my eye was the Texas flag at the courthouse, but the accidental composition with the "Main Street" sign in the foreground was just too perfect. How many courthouses in America are on Main Street? And the color was just perfect, too. The reddish cast is not just the red sandstone of the building. The sun was helping.

And when I got to my parking place, I could see the shadow of the Tower of the Americas on the Tower Life Building and in the beautiful golden glow of the morning, had to capture it. The Tower Life Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites. I found this wonderfully whimsical tour of the building looking for information to share with you. by Walt Lockley.

I can understand his relationship with the building. I have a similar one myself. The building I work in is attached to Tower-Life by a parking garage. A very OLD parking garage! Whenever I see an image of the skyline, I can find the building and get a swell of pride knowing that my office is right there (imagine me pointing near the bottom of the Tower). What's really cool to me is that even as I sit here writing this, the building is at my back, just outside my window. I can look out my window any time and the building is there. Even if it's so foggy and misty that you can't see the top, you can still see the building...right there. Like a sentinel of the city, guarding my own back, keeping me company most days and a few nights.

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/16/07

It was another long Saturday night and going to church with no sleep. It's getting to be a pattern that I don't like. It wouldn't have happened except for a recalcitrant computer that wouldn't get itself on the network. At work, we rotate on-call every week and each person comes up every four weeks. The third weekend (generally) is the scheduled maintenance weekend and unless we're doing cluster testing, the on-call person does the work. Guess whose turn it was? I had to resize the boot disk on a server and didn't have any problems with that part. It was getting it to come back up on the network that was a problem. Anyway, after several hours of beating my head against the virtual brick wall, I called the vendor. A clear-headed technician helped me get it figured out and what was supposed to take about 3-4 hours ended up taking eight hours.

What that meant in the long run was that Sunday was totally shot. All the things I wanted to do Sunday afternoon didn't get done because I was sleeping. I almost didn't get my picture of the day taken, but I woke up at some point in the evening, grabbed my camera, and tried to figure out something to take a picture of without going outside. I figured out that I could take a picture of the giant box in my scraproom, which is DH's Christmas present. I can tell you now because he doesn't read this blog, yet. I wasn't happy with what I was getting when my eye fell to this:

This precious item is the wedding cake topper from my parents' wedding cake. I found it at Thanksgiving when I was digging around in their attic. My parents were married February 11, 1961. They were married for 42 years before my mother died. I don't know if there is any way to restore it or if I even want to, but it's something special to have found. Now I need to find a place to put it. It's a perfect subject for the picture of the day. Oh, yeah, it's sitting on top of the giant box!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/15/07

I was in my first opera this weekend. When I was I child, I had a secret wish to be an opera singer. To this day I'm not sure why because I'm not a big fan of opera music. But I guess my wish finally came true, even if I wasn't really on stage. Our choir director is a graduate student at a nearby university and they put on a travelling show of Amahl and the Night Visitors in several cities as part of the grant they received. They used graduate students and faculty from the university for the main characters and students from the local high school as the shepherds. And since he got our church as the venue for our city, he had the adult choir being part of the shepherds. But we sang from the front pews and not up on stage, so it was a rather round-about way of being in the show!

So as soon as we finished with Amahl we went straight over to DS#2's high school where they were putting on Annie Get Your Gun as their bi-annual show. When DS#1 was there, he played cello for Funny Girl. DS#2 was playing vibes for this show. The only reason I was able to get a picture was that they whole orchestra was on the stage with the actors.

There was quite a bit of difference in the singing between the two shows. Of course one was done by professionals and the other completely by high school students. Both were equally good in their own way.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/14/07

Ever wonder what a three pound cinnamon roll looks like? I can show you what about 3/4 of a pound looks like:

One of the guys went to Lulu's to pick up one of their famous three pound cinnamon rolls yesterday. This is what is left today. The Styrofoam tray is about the same size as you'd get with a point of hamburger meat the the grocery store. That thing was a good six inches high. We offered some to everyone who came by yesterday and still couldn't get rid of it. It was wrapped up over night, so it was still good for people who came by today. See how much is left? It's more than any 10 normal people could possible eat without getting sick!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/13/07

I love making crafty things. Sometimes I'm not so creative, but given instructions I can do just about anything, I think. Today's picture is an ornament I made. But first I have to tell you how I got to this particular ornament. I got an e-mail from EK Success marketing and one of the items they had for sale was a Martha Stewart Vintage Paper Ornaments Kit. I thought it was so cool and since it was vintage, I figured there had to be instructions on the internet somewhere. I mean, it's just a bunch of paper circles, how hard could that be? So I started searching. There are lots a paper ornaments out there, but none like the one in Martha's kit. But I did come upon the website that gave me the instructions for the paper wallets I showed in yesterday's post and they had a paper Christmas ornament. So I tried the folds on some scrap paper and decided it wasn't too hard. I cut squares from my Land's End Christmas catalog for my ornament and started folding. This is what I got:

This little cutie is hanging in my cubicle. I've actually got more Christmas decorations up at my desk than I do at home. Sigh...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/12/07

I adore the music staff at my church. Jeremiah is our choir director and he's a graduate of the music program at a local university majoring in opera. He's taught us how to sing and we have a wonderful sounding, albeit small, choir. David is our accompanist. He's a Jewish-born man who converted to Christianity, got degrees in music, teaching, has a Principal's certificate, and is attending seminary to become a Methodist minister. He teaches adult education classes at church and is very knowledgeable about the bible. His Jewish up-bringing gives us a great insight into what we learn from him. Steve is our sound guy. He's the one who makes us sound even better out in the congregation.

Every year we take up a collection to provide them with a token of our appreciation for all they do for us and our church. We used to give them cash, but this year, someone decided that they should get gift cards. So I decided to make paper wallets using techniques I've been learning from Tim Holtz' 12 Days of Techniques. It's been a fun time learning how to use products that I've heard of but never used. So this is what I came up with:

This is the front.

This is the inside. The left side is a stamp that says "We make beautiful music together" adn the other side says Thank You.

I used the technique of coloring the paper with one color and using it to put clear embossing powder on it, then cover it with a vintage photo color. I love the texture and how they look. I hope they like them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/11/07

What is the commercial Christmas season without a bit of window shopping? Our Rivercenter Mall is anchored by Dillard's in a building that used to be the historic Joske's of Texas. The building features detailed art-deco styling. An interesting story about the building: There is a church in the block called St. Joseph's. When Joske's wanted to build their flagship building, they wanted to buy the church and raze it, but the parishioners would have none of that. So Joske's moved ahead and built their building around St. Joseph's Church and it was known forever after by non-members as the Church of St. Joske's. The church is still there, but Joske's was sold in 1987 to Dillard's. The building is still there in all of it's original splendor (except for the name). This picture is of one of the display windows facing Alamo Street and I took it for it's detail and beauty.

I think I could probably Photoshop this and make a really cool digital frame with it. I may just try it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/10/07

I love my kitties. Okay, love is too strong a word and should be reserved for people. I really like my kitties a lot. Jericho has taken to curling up beside me at night when the lights go out. He doesn't stay all night, but he stays 'til I'm asleep most nights. Jessica is the little princess. She has a high pitched squeaky voice that is always asking for something. Usually food. This is Jessica:
Photographing cats who just don't care isn't easy. And at close quarters with a telephoto lens makes for some tricky shots. I didn't want to use the flash, but had no choice. The room light and the cat moving (not to mention my inability to hold the lens still long enough) just wasn't working out. At least you can see how white her fur is.

There's a story behind her name. When my mother was alive, she would name each years' kittens starting with the next letter of the alphabet. She name her cats and the wild cats at the ranch that my uncle feeds when he goes to feed the goats and cows. Jericho and Jessica used to be some of those ranch cats who were born in the J-year. Mom had named them Jericho and Jezebel, but I knew when I brought them home I didn't want a cat name after a truly evil woman, so she was hastily renamed Jessica.

If you don't know the story of Jezebel, she was the wife of Ahab the king who wanted a vineyard owned by Naboth. Since it was ancestral land he didn't want to sell it, even to the king. Jezebel's response to Ahab's despondency:

1 Kings 21:8-13 (New International Version)

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:
"Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death."

11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, "Naboth has cursed both God and the king." So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death.

Perhaps you can see why I didn't want to call her Jezebel?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/09/2007 - One Lone Decoration

My December is so busy every year that I get fewer and fewer decorations up each year. So far this year, I've got one decoration up. It's the door cross made of Mt. Rainier greenery from a fundraiser for DS's band. Hopefully I'll get more up this week. This picture has been Photoshopped because I took it sans flash on the front porch in the dark. I tried to highlight the cross, but I couldn't quite figure out how to feather the top layer enough. Perhaps I was trying to be too subtle?

I almost didn't get my PAD today because I left work at 6:00 this morning, went straight home to take a shower, change, and go to church where we performed our Christmas Cantata, carols arranged by John Rutter. It was beautiful, andI managed to stay awake. We came straight home after that and I hit the bed to sleep for a few hours. I woke up long enough to take a couple of pictures, including this one of Snickers laying in the yard when I went out to get the camera out of the car.

In keeping with my new-found eye for depth of-field, the flowers in bloom in December on my airplane plant are in the foreground. I'm not sure the weather is ready for Christmas because I was barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt taking these pictures!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/08/2007

San Antonio is a well-known tourist destination for people all around the world. They come first for the Alamo, second for the Riverwalk. This time of year the Riverwalk is espcially beautiful with the Christmas lights hung in the trees. In keeping with the title of this blog, I took today's picture from the window of the conference room we're working in over Saturday night.

The hotels that you see are the Hotel Contessa on the left, the Marriott Riverwalk in the middle background and the Palacio Del Rio in the center. La Villita, the historic Little Village, is on the right. What you can't see is how beautifully the lights are winking in the night, welcoming visitors walking the river or riding the barges. And it's only about 73 degrees! Aren't you jealous? I know all our visitors are probably pretty happy about it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Go Elf Yourself!

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/7/07

This picture a day challenge has got me really trying to figure out better ways to use my camera. I've even pulled out the manual to see what the different settings do. That and seeing photographs from a friend's wedding done by an art photographer, I've started experimenting. I also read a little bit at the Confessions of a Pioneer Woman's blog about how she uses her camera and I learned more than anywhere I've looked, yet. When I drive to work, there's not a whole lot to see except the downtown skyline getting closer and it's hard to take pictures while driving, not to mention downright dangerous. So today, when I got to my parking spot right next to the San Antonio River, I snapped a couple of shots and experimented with depth of field. The first one is a distant focus, then a mid-range focus, then a close up. I'm going to remember these for when I start taking photos of other things just to take pictures. I was really inspired by the wedding pictures and know that I have a lot to learn.

I included these pictures because one of my coworkers said he thought they looked cool. And I kind of agree because of the lines of the crepe myrtle trees and the trunks of the cedar elms. But the picture I want to feature today for the challenge is the Hemisphere Tower of the Americas being kissed by the clouds.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/6/07

I decided to drive to work today because the bus made me mad yesterday. I know, I'm not hurting anyone but myself, but I can't help it. I got to my stop just as the bus was pulling up and I started waving from across the street, but the traffic was just too heavy to get across before the jerk took off without even looking up! It's really not that big a deal, usually, but I had someplace to be last evening. The next bus was supposed to be there 30 minutes later, but it was 20 minutes late. So that meant I was 50 minutes behind what I had planned.

Anyway, all that's to say that since I drove, I took my camera in my car to see what I could take a picture of today. One of the things that I see nearly year round, but it's especially thick in the fall and spring is flocks of birds roosting at street intersections. We have grackles that live here pretty much year-round and there are certain areas that are especially thick with them. Like the one by the grocery store:

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/5/07

I decided to take my camera on the bus today because when I got off yesterday at my stop over the Riverwalk, the light was just beautiful. The giant cyprus trees along the river bank have started "rusting" as the leaves turn. They're still somewhat green, but their full color hasn't come in. And the holiday lights are on on the Riverwalk, and although it was already daylight when I took this picture, the lights are still visible in the Westin Riverwalk trees. I didn't notice the ducks until I started browsing my pictures to load one today. Note also the reflection of the lights in the river. I'm hoping that this picture will whet your appetite for what's coming this weekend. I have to work Saturday night and I have every intention of bringing the camera to take pictures of my little corner of downtown lit up for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/4/07

Since I wasn't going to take my camera on the bus and I didn't know what the rest of the day held for me, I took a shot while I was driving to the bus stop. This is what winter in South Texas looks like early in the morning. All that's left of the summer plants are their skeletons, making them look so very stark. We don't get snow here to cover things up.

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/3/07

It's kind of hard to get all the colors of the sunset sometimes. I was driving home and saw these incredible clouds at sunset. I know, don't take pictures while you're driving, but it was impossible to pull over and I was at a perfect place to capture this (except for the billboard!). If you can look past the billboard, it's a typical sunset after a beautifully sunny and cool day.

I'll take all the beautiful sunsets I can get.
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Monday, December 3, 2007

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/2/07 - Journey to Bethlehem and Christ Child Service

Yesterday was our church's major kick-off for Advent. The Children's Department provided the Journey to Bethlehem which was followed by a worship service we call the Christ Child Service. This is when we make our special gifts for the month of December in support of ministries outside the walls of our church.

The Journey to Bethlehem was great for children because it gave them a sense of what life was like at the time Jesus was born. We had a farmers' market, the scribe, a weaving station, a carpenter shop, a grain mill, a bakery, a pottery tent, the spice tent, a perfumery, a toy shop, a beggar (that was Larry), authentic food, and farm animals. The animals were rabbits, chickens, ducks, a donkey, goats, a sheep and a llama, which Larry the beggar referred to as the compact camel. I'm not sure they had llamas in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. As they came in, people were invited to put on costumes if they liked, so there were a lot of small children running around in "tunics." They all got to try their hand at all the tents, including grinding grain by hand.

After the village re-enactment, we had our Christ Child Service. We had three choirs singing, our little praise band playing, and an older couple in the church explaining the meaning of the Nativity. One of the choirs was the Young at Heart chorus, then the youth group's "God Squad," and finally the young-in-heart children's choirs. Our adult choir didn't sing, which is unusual because we always sing. It was a nice change, though. I played both alto sax and clarinet in the band. What was strange was that, since we didn't have any praise singers, I played the melody on several songs, most of it sight-reading. It was a trip! Unfortunately, my lip gave out right at the end of the last piece. I haven't played so much in years. Well, the service culminated in the lighting of the Chrismon tree. Chrismons are "Christian Monograms." They are the symbols of Christianity. The ornaments have been made over the years by the children and they include fishes, angels, the Chi-Rho symbol, the bible, a church, and many more. They're made out of two layers of white felt sewn together and lightly stuffed, then decorated with beads, ribbon, glitter, whatever makes them shiny.

I hope you all are successful this Advent in preparing your hearts for the coming Savior. Merry Christmas!

Picture A Day Challenge for 12/1/07

Lisa at 123-scrap offered up a really neat challenge. Post a picture a day to your blog and write about it. At the end of the month, print them out and make a scrapbook about it. I haven't totally committed to it, but I'm going to try. I actually took pictures on Dec. 1 and 2, so I'll start with those.

Saturday morning was balmy and warm, so Breakfast with Santa could be slightly uncomfortable for our Santa and kids in sweaters. I was recruited to be the photographer for our church's Breakfast with Santa, proceeds to support our local Emmaus community. This was after I had just returned from Chicago the night before. The picture for this day is the group of people who put on the event. Sadly, I ended up running the computer copying the pictures to CD for the parents, so I didn't take the actual picture, but it was my camera!

Bill had been growing his beard for a couple of months and made a really convincing Santa. This was only the second year they've done this, so there are still a few things to learn, like don't use shiny paper for the backdrop! Several of the ladies were making the pancakes and sausage, Russ was the moneykeeper, and Karen helped with getting the CD's to the right people. We had 109 kids come by to visit Santa. I think they counted it as a success. I'm just glad I could help.