Thanksgiving for Reals

Yesterday I woke up to white stuff falling out of the sky. I think it’s called snow. I guess it’s inevitable, since we’re spending November and December in Minnesnowda. Breakfast was bacon and mimosas, because why not? We had a nice rose champagne with our early Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday. It was the last remaining bottle of gift alcohol from my 50th birthday party last year.

5DM36034bw5DM36032bwHey, look, more photos from our 2014 family trip to Baraboo. The train museum was actually closed, but you can’t really lock up the trains now, can you?

We decided to have our pie before dinner yesterday. Then we heated up a mess of turkey in gravy and went to town on the leftovers. Delicious. In addition to all of the eating and drinking, we indulged in some online shopping. ‘Cause Black Friday in real life is insanity. So, what I am thankful for? Not having to leave the house on Thanksgiving. Now, that’s a reason to celebrate.

Early Late Thanksgiving

Since I picked up our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday morning, we decided to go ahead and heat it up that day, leaving today for the consumption of leftovers. Roast turkey and gravy is one of my husband’s favorite meals. Given the choice, he would eat it every week. I am not a cook by any stretch of the imagination, so the thought of trying to roast a turkey and make gravy from scratch intimidates the hell out of me. Consequently, this is the third year in a row that our dinner has been provided by Whole Foods.

This year we went with a full bone-in cooked turkey breast, rather than the boneless one we’ve bought the past two years. I put it in the oven to warm up around 1:00, thinking we’d eat at 2:00-2:30. Turns out, it takes a lot longer to warm up a bone-in breast. I checked the temp every 30 minutes and at the two hour mark it was barely registering 140 degrees. We gave it another 30 minutes and just decided to call it because we were both starving at that point.

We resorted to microwaving some of the turkey after carving it. We finally sat down to eat at 4:00. Everything tasted pretty good, but it was lukewarm at best. Not exactly the Thanksgiving feast I had envisioned. The only saving grace was the amazing cherry pie and homemade whipped cream, neither of which I made. I’m just glad we did it the day before, as it takes some of the pressure off. Today will just be about the big plate of microwaved leftovers. And wine.

[11262015]5DM36057bwAlmost forgot my random photo of the day. This is from our September 2014 family trip to Baraboo. Converted to black and white.

Errands and the Kitchen Sink

Before I continued with my little cleaning jag yesterday, I ran some errands. Being that it was just two days before Thanksgiving, I expected the outing to be fraught with peril. I was pleasantly surprised, shocked really, that it all went smoothly. I made five stops in just over an hour, found everything I needed and didn’t have anyone try to run me down. Should have bought a lottery ticket while I was out.

5DM39469After I finished the errands, I tackled the kitchen sink. Our sink has been the bane of my existence since it was installed. It’s a composite granite and it’s plagued me with water marks that no amount of scrubbing removes. I  recently found out that the trick to keeping these sinks looking nice is to coat them with oil after cleaning them.

A19A1313Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to completely restore our sad sink, although after several rounds of scrubbing and coating it with oil, it’s looking much better. And now for today’s random photos, both from Australia. The top one is from Tasmania and the bottom one is from a zoo near Melbourne. Now I need to run out and purchase Thanksgiving. Dinner, that is.

Just a Little Housekeeping

I started cleaning the house on Sunday. I began with the bathrooms and then yesterday I tackled the kitchen. I have really come to hate stainless steel appliances. They always seem to look streaky, no matter what type of cleaner I use.


Let me pause here for a random photo insert. This is from our backyard, literally. We have three of these bushes (don’t ask me the name) in the backyard. I photographed this little cluster of leaves over several days during my burst of local fall color photography last month. None of the photos quite turned out the way I wanted, but such is life. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

I spent about twenty minutes and used four different cleaners, in a less than successful attempt to clean the refrigerator. To be fair, the fourth round was required to clean off the the stainless polish I stupidly used in the third round without reading the label. (Who makes a stainless polish that says DO NOT use on stainless steel kitchen appliances? Who uses a cleaning agent without reading the damn label first?)

[11242015]5DSR1476Another pause for a random photo insert, because who really wants to read about my problems cleaning the refrigerator? Not me. This one is from my dahlia outing at the Arboretum. It was a highly productive photo session, which is awesome because you just can’t get enough dahlias. Consider this a little gift from me to you. You’re welcome.

I almost finished cleaning the kitchen yesterday. I just need to do the countertops (easy) and the sink (level 10 on the cleaning difficulty scale). But I’ll save my bitching about that for tomorrow’s post. With more pretty photos.


While doing some year end digital housekeeping, I noticed a rather disturbing trend. With less than 6 weeks left in the year, I’ve posted less than a third the number of photos I did in each of the previous 4 years. Even worse, I went over five months, from the end of March until the beginning of September, without posting a single photo.

That is just wrong on so many levels. It’s not that I took so many less photos this year than in previous years, I just didn’t get around to posting very many. This was partly because I had more of a lag between shooting and processing, which made the photos seem less relevant once I finished them. But it was mostly because the mental stress of trying to design a house just sucked the juice out of me.


So, in the spirit of better late than never, I’ll try to recap some greatest hits from the year, starting with two photos from Tasmania.

5DM39114I normally wouldn’t post two photos that are so similar, but I just can’t decide which one I like better. I really like the balance of water and ground in the first photo, but I dig the pop of purple in the second one. If I could just move the purple flowers from the second photo into the first one, it would be perfect. But life doesn’t work like that, even with Photoshop.

And We’re Done

I officially finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. This might be a personal best for me. I actually had a few more people to shop for this year, as we’ll be visiting my husband’s family in Memphis for New Year’s. Of course I only have a minority of gifts actually in hand. Most of them will be arriving in the next week. Then I’ll do one massive wrapping session and call it a day.

We didn’t quite get away clean in regards to missing all social obligations for the holidays, as we have for the past two years in Phoenix. Thanksgiving will be just the two of us, courtesy of Whole Foods (dinner) and Turtle Bread (dessert). But we did commit to spend Christmas Eve at my dad’s house, on the condition that there would not be a massive gift exchange happening. We do buy gifts for my dad and his S.O., but I am not purchasing anything for the rest of the crowd.

I could have easily begged off, but then we’d have to figure out another time to exchange gifts with them and their schedule is pretty packed. Christmas Day we’ll be staying home. New Year’s we’ll be in Memphis, but I’m hoping we will head back to our hotel room before midnight. I really don’t want to be out on the road after midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s just asking for trouble. Which I do not need.

Birthday and Other Gifts

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. This is the first time in 5 years that I’ve actually been in town on her birthday. Yes, I’m a terrible, terrible daughter. Ever since I retired in 2010, we’ve spent pretty much the entire month of November and half of December in Phoenix. Fortunately, she’s not the kind of person who lays a big guilt trip on me for not being around on her birthday. Or Christmas.

But this year I’m here and so I took her out for lunch. Because I’m just that generous. I also gave her an incredibly insulting card. So insulting that pretty much any other person I know would never speak to me after reading it. It made her laugh, which I knew it would, because she’s my mom. I didn’t buy her flowers, as I knew she would get a nice bouquet from my brother. I did send her a new pair of winter boots. I’m practical like that. And so is she.

Speaking of gifts, I am totally on track to finish my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I set that as a goal every year. I rarely manage to actually achieve it, but I think this just might be the year. I hate looking for things in a panic. I hate even shopping retail in December. The grocery store is fine, but I don’t want to get anywhere near a  general retailer. I’d rather stay home and shop from the comfort of my laptop, which is how most of my Christmas gifts are purchased. But I do need to venture out tomorrow to pick up one item in the real world. Wish me luck.

Just in Time for Winter

We flew back from Phoenix Tuesday evening. It was a relatively cool day there, so when we landed in Minneapolis to a temp somewhere in the mid 50’s, it wasn’t too much of a shock. Wednesday was more of the same. A light sweatshirt was more than sufficient.

But, as usual, the Minnesota weather was only toying with us. Today the high is in the mid 30’s with a gale force wind. Time to break out the parka. It’s depressing. I can manage the cold, but could you please give me a little time to ease into it? Not to mention an opportunity to wear some of my lovely fall jackets.

It seems we missed the transition while we were busy being sick and not enjoying the beautiful weather in Phoenix. We’ve reached the point in Minneapolis where a high in the 40’s is a rare thing. I’ve already decided that the best feature in my new vehicle is the heated steering wheel. My hands are always cold and gloves just don’t cut it. It looks like I’m going to get a lot of use out of it.

This is Why I Don’t Get Paid

In all the chaos of Black Friday the 13th, I neglected to mention the truly head slapping moment of my MIM photo shoot that day. I purchased a new camera in April. I mentioned it back in September because the huge file sizes kept causing our computer to crash. I didn’t write about the camera when I purchased it, because I have enough sense to realize it’s obnoxious to wax lyrical about expensive camera purchases. This is something photographers with more money than talent are prone to do.

The 5DSR is not strictly an upgrade to/replacement for the 5DMIII. The MIII is better in low light, so it remains my primary camera for theater photography. The 5DSR has double the resolution of the 5DMII (50 vs 23 MP) and is intended for landscape and studio work. Are you asleep yet? You see why I try not to write about these things.

So let’s cut to the idiot part. I brought the fancy new camera to Phoenix, intending to use it for the photo shoot. As I was getting out of my car at the MIM, it occurred to me that I hadn’t bothered to update the software on the laptop I use to take tethered photos and the old software would probably not recognize the new camera. Head slap number one.

But I booted up the computer in the photo studio anyway, just to give it a shot. When I attempted to connect the camera to the computer, I realized that I had a much bigger issue than just software. My cable has a USB micro connector and my new camera has a USB3 port. Totally incompatible. Head slap number two. So, I had to resort to using the tiny screen on the back of the camera to review images.

The store manager and I alternated in peering at the tiny screen between shots. Since most of them were pretty straightforward, it was workable, if a bit awkward. This would be a hideous faux pas for a professional photographer, but a mere hiccup for a volunteer. And that, my friends is why I work for free.

True Black Friday

We completed our final two social obligations – lunch with friends on Wednesday and dinner/overnight guest on Thursday. And the house is clean, hurrah! My last commitment was a photo shoot today for the MIM online store, which I postponed from Monday due to feeling like death warmed over.

Normally, these shoots go very quickly. I can photograph a ton of items in a relatively short period of time. Today started well, we finished about 25 items before lunch and 10 in the hour after. The only remaining shots were for the online newsletter – one for Experience Scandinavia and one for Christmas. How hard could that be? Pretty hard. They were big shots with lots of items and it ended up taking two more hours to finish. I was wiped out.

I went home and my husband and I went out for dinner and picked up some much needed liquor, plus another bag of ice. By the time we got home it was 6:30. Having been offline all day, I was blissfully unaware of the horror happening in Paris. My husband was busy building a new computer, so he was also offline. The bubble burst when we came home and turned on the TV. Black Friday, indeed.