Sunday, May 31, 2009

70/365 Rule breaking - spring storms

I'm bending the rules just a bit for this post. But since I only have to answer to myself, I'm letting it slide. I'm doing it because these photos are worth it.

Here's the story:

On Saturday, I was on top of things, and I got my photo of the day processed and ready to post fairly early in the day.

Later that evening, close to sunset (which is now after 9:00 p.m.), storms rolled in. And in front of that rocky weather, beautiful and dramatic clouds arrived, complete with climbing thunderheads.
If you know me at all, you know that I can't pass up good meteorological photo opportunities. Just browse through the tags on the right, specifically those posts tagged with weather and storms. It will keep you busy for a while.

So these photos were technically shot on Saturday evening. But in my defense, they're of a completely different subject matter and were done after the earlier post of the day.

I know, I know, that's one demerit against me. I promise to get back to playing by the rules very soon. (But I can't promise that it won't happen again!)

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/6.3 at ISO 100 at about 8:15 p.m. looking southeast and west

Saturday, May 30, 2009

69/365 Homemade Orange Julius

This has got to be one of my favorite mid-day snacks to enjoy in the warm-weather months.

A homemade Orange Julius. Refreshing, smooth, tangy and sweet. And very low-guilt. Oh my.

What could be better?

It's so good, I'd be a horrible person if I made your mouth water then didn't share the recipe. But I don't like to be horrible.

Homemade Orange Julius

1 can (6 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate, UNthawed
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/3 cup Splenda (or 1/2 cup sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups ice (adjust accordingly for the consistency you like)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Servings: 4 cups (which, depending on the size of your glass, could be 2-4 servings)

I recommend sipping it through a straw in your favorite outdoor chair, with your feet up and a good book in your lap.

Go ahead. Try it. Then report back and tell me how you like it.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 in Southern window light at about 4:30 p.m.

68/365 Constant vigilance

The backyard is Buster's beloved territory.

He's on constant alert for intruders, changes, and breaches of the perimeter, whether they pose serious danger (like a cotton-tailed rabbit or crafty squirrel) or merely test his senses (like a rather large blowing leaf).

Not much gets by him.

He systematically investigates all regions of the territory, using his keen sense of hearing and finely tuned sense of smell as his primary guides. And he conducts his surveillance multiple times per day, during the week and on week ends.

This tireless worker never takes a day off. He takes his job very seriously, but will gladly welcome a token of appreciation or simple scratch behind the ears.

I feel safer knowing Buster is near.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 200 and 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 160 under cloudy skies at about 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

67/365 Positive press conference attendance

I attended my first press conference today for work. BioStorage Technologies, a company in Indianapolis, is expanding its headquarters here and will be adding 125 new jobs (more than doubling its current size).

Mitch Roob, Indiana's Secretary of Commerce, was on hand for the event (speaking in the photo above), as well as Indianapolis' mayor Greg Ballard (below).

This is certainly good news for Indianapolis and the rest of the state, and I'm sure both the state and local government offices were glad to be on hand to share positive news for a change.

All four Indianapolis TV stations were on hand, though only one (WRTV 6) sent a reporter to do a live shot.

I don't know if all press conferences are like this, having never attended one before, but one of the first things that struck me was how incredibly quiet it was in the room. It almost reminded me of a funeral, even though everyone was there to hear and share good news.

Perhaps the silence was just a result of the formality of the event. Regardless, it was definitely an interesting way to start the day.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 indoors under fluorescent lighting

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

66/365 Wishing for more wheat fields

I don't hold anything against fields of corn and soybeans, but I do wish that more farmers in central Indiana grew wheat. It's beautiful in both its alive-and-growing and ready-to-harvest forms.

Right now, fields like this one are awash with waving, healthy greens.

It's attractive up close, too.

Then when the crop matures and is ready to harvest, these same fields evolve into a warm, golden sea. I caught that stage in time to photograph last year, and it's one of my top ten favorites from the first year of Project 365.

You can bet I'll be revisiting this field with my camera in the coming months.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

65/365 Purple petunias

I'm a fan of flower names for girls, but Petunia isn't one of them (no offense to this lovely flower).

Why? Say the word "petunia" out loud a few times. Notice how your face feels when you say it and the sound of the word. You can easily scrunch your nose up and say "eeww" (as in "yuck" or "gross") in the middle of the word.

And that seems like a recipe for playground nickname disaster.

Plus, the name Petunia reminds me of Aunt Petunia from the Harry Potter series, and that's not a pleasant association.

I have no trouble with the flower itself, though. They're perfectly lovely and acceptable annuals, and I like seeing them grace my parents' flower pots each year.

I just wouldn't name a daughter after a petunia. Lily, sure. Rose, Violet, Iris, Poppy, Begonia, Azalea, Rhododendron...

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 at about 8:15 p.m.

Monday, May 25, 2009

64/365 Perfect peonies

I think if I were to pick "my" flower, a flower that made me happy and represented me (if a flower can really do that), it would be a pink peony.

No roses, no Gerbera daisies, no calla lilies, no tulips, which are all incredibly common wedding flowers and popular in bouquets. I'd choose a peony because of its symbolism of late spring and tie to my birth.

Peonies are always blooming on and around my birthday in early June, so that alone is a natural coexistence. Beyond that, I think of my mom and her best friend, Mickey, because Mom always remembers that Mickey brought her a bouquet of fresh peonies when I was born.

This lovely pink peony is growing on a bush in my aunt's yard, and I could smell its beautiful fragrance from several feet away. I felt completely happy sitting next to it with my camera.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250, f/2.8 at ISO 125 at about 5:30 p.m.

63/365 Utterly blue

It's amazing how much a fresh coat of paint can transform something, isn't it?

A house's exterior facade, an interior room, an old piece of furniture... spread a new layer of bright paint on it, and it immediately looks better.

I'm in wall-painting mode now, and I got to spread some of this lovely blue on beige walls over the weekend. The blue dried in a darker shade than it appears here, a shade aptly named "Utterly Blue." Beautiful!

I hope the color helps it to be a calm, peaceful room that lives up to its pretty name.

Camera: Canon 40D with 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 320

Sunday, May 24, 2009

62/365 Picnicking with friends

My favorite times spent with friends always focus on quality time.

Kristin is in town from NYC for the holiday weekend, so we put together a casual picnic at Butler, where we could just hang out and catch up. We talked, shared food, played games, and just enjoyed being together.

Not only is Memorial Day weekend a classic time for cookouts and picnics, it marks the unofficial start of summer.

Friends, good weather, extended weekends, and holiday celebrations. What could be better?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 500 and 250 at about 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 22, 2009

61/365 Congratulations, Chase!

As evidence that time has flown by, my little (relative term) brother has officially completed his college education.

He's now an alumnus of Indiana University in Bloomington, holds a degree, and is ready to for his trek into the real world.

Can he -- and I -- really be that old?

It seems like just yesterday that I was helping him scour through the IU course catalog, searching for a major that didn't involve Calculus and did involve spending time outside. We found one that suited him perfectly, he stuck with it for four full years (an accomplishment in itself), and he's done!

I'm incredibly proud of him. I loved seeing him enjoy school and enjoy going to classes that taught information he was truly interested in. I thought I would fall out of my chair one day when he mentioned the idea of one day going to grad school for more education.

Can this really be the same Chase I've known and loved for 22+ years?

We honored him with an open house (which, of course, had a cake with red and white icing) on Saturday and stamped an official end to his college career.

Now, what's next?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500 lit by window light at about 7:30 p.m.

60/365 Construction season

It's construction season in Indiana.

It happens every spring/summer. It feels as though you can't drive anywhere without running into construction of some kind. We Hoosiers have become very familiar with those orange and white barrels.

This photo shows some construction in Brownsburg, but the worst right now has to be the west side of Indianapolis on I-465.

Dubbed "Accelerate 465" (fancy phrase to make us all feel better about the headache), every interchange along the busiest interstate in the area is being redone. The project will span over many years, and I know it will be nice when it's complete, but boy oh boy is it a pain now.

Navigating the project will be especially interesting this weekend when hundreds of thousands of people come to Indy for the 500.

I'm glad I'm staying home!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

59/365 Climbing for the sky

I like plants that aren't vertically challenged.

Climbing plants, unusually tall ones, etc. I like the way they've adapted to their environments and have made the most of their situations.

Ivy comes to mind. Give it a wall and it will climb. This clematis fits in that category, too. It's climbing its way to the sky by way of a fence post.

I'm learning more and more about green-designed buildings, and one tactic some people are using to achieve the "green" status is using climbing plants to create living walls.

I think it's a really cool idea. Not only does the plant clean the air, but it helps with temperature control in the building.

Plus, it looks really cool.

Who knows, if this trend continues, we may be taking cues from the Hobbits and digging homes into the sides of hills.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 100 in direct sunlight at about 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

58/365 Along the iris spectrum

You get double the iris fun today. I couldn't narrow my selections down to just one for this post.

I like that these have an energy on different ends of the spectrum. This first iris's dark, dramatic colors are immediately eye catching. The petals sparkled in the sunshine and looked like rich velvet.

Then at the other end of that energy spectrum, you have this gentle lavender iris. I like the ethereal quality of this photo and the way the petal cascades downward in smooth ripples.

I used fill flash with the second photo, but the first was perfectly spotlighted in the late sunshine. I'll be sorry to see these irises fade away into the summertime. They make great subjects.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens at about 8:00 p.m.
First photo: 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 200
Second photo: 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 250 with fill flash

57/365 Alternative therapies

With each passing year, I'm becoming a more convinced believer in alternative medicines.

Well, really, at least part of it boils down to the fact that I'm a fan of anything that doesn't involve getting a shot. I'll take just about any remedy I can get before I'll go there. (But that opens up an entirely different can of stories.)

I'm dealing with an odd injury. I don't know how I did it, but I injured the joint at the base of my big toe at the beginning of the year. I've been treating it as a sprain (yep, you can sprain your toe), but while that helped it improve for a little while, it plateaued.

I'm at the end of my home-remedy rope. If I saw my family doctor, I expected he'd say, "Sorry, can't help ya, unless you'd like a cortisone shot in your toe?" Eek! That thought alone gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Then Mom had a great revelation: it's a joint problem, so why not see if our chiropractor deals with that? Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

Here's the seemingly most far-fetched part: part of my treatment (after adjusting the joint) now involves low-level laser, or "cold laser," therapy. It's hard to wrap my mind around, because you sit with this laser pointed at the injury for a few minutes, and you can't feel a thing.


But then I went to the old trusty Google, and it turns out this therapy has a lot of support and is recognized by the FDA. It's being used to treat everything from rheumatoid arthritis to cancer, and is especially recognized as beneficial in healing wounds.

I could immediately feel a difference after this first treatment on Monday. I'm just crossing my fingers that it works!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 indoors in fluorescent office lighting

Sunday, May 17, 2009

56/365 Spot spackling

It may look like Mom is spreading pink icing on the wall, but alas, it's not that outrageous. It's actually just spackle that goes on pink and dries into its final white form.

We're fixing up my grandmother's old house, and before we can paint (which we're looking forward to as a fun project), we had to actually fix the small holes in the wall.

Sigh. Isn't it hard to take your time to fix something and do it right before you can move on to the fun stuff?

Oh, but it will be worth it in the end.

We're looking forward to the painting process not because it will be an easy job (it won't), but because the addition of color in a house full of blah creams and beiges will be completely transformative.

And you can tell by the abundant number of floral photos on this blog that I love color!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/60s, f/4 at ISO 1000, lit by a window at about 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

55/365 Heavy-headed poppy

This is just an ordinary (though beautiful) poppy, but in being backlit by sunlight, it reminds me of a collection of flames.

The petals of the flower are thin and delicate, but the bloom as a whole is so heavy I had to lift this up with one hand and hold my camera in the other.

That makes me curious: why would the flower not evolve with a sturdier stem to support such a heavy blossom?

Maybe it's on its way and I'm catching it in the middle of its progression toward improved design.

In the meantime, I don't mind giving it a little boost.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/250s, f/4 at ISO 200 at about 6:00 p.m.

54/365 Distant lightning

Spring storm season has arrived, so I greeted it on my front porch with my tripod and remote trigger in hand, hoping to catch some good lightning shots.

But, alas, it wasn't meant to be. It started raining before the bolts of lightning moved within sight, so I had to move to cover.

I love good lightning photos, but not enough to subject my camera to the elements. I guess that means I'm not cut out to be a true storm chaser. Or at least I won't be until I have money to burn on multiple cameras.

Better luck next time.

Camera: Canon 40D, 72 seconds, f/8 at ISO 200 at about 11:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

53/365 Stream along the road

Water has a way of finding its own way to lower ground.

This strip of road near my house always turns into a mini stream when we get a significant rainfall.

It's out of the way and doesn't spread across the road, just makes its way to a creek bed, so it doesn't cause any trouble. It always catches my eye, though, because I like seeing the water flowing gently downhill, reflected in the evening sun.

We received several inches of rain on Wednesday night, so this little stream was flowing consistently when I got home from work. I waited until closer to sunset to photograph it.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 8:00 p.m.

52/365 Protective gear

I'm part of a generation that will likely have hearing issues when we reach our older years.

In high school, part of the ritual when you got your license and drove to school involved leaving the parking lot with your music -- preferably something with a strong beat -- turned up so everyone outside the car could hear.

I did it. And I definitely felt a little cooler, even if I wasn't.

Then we got iPods, and those loud speakers that once remained in your car or room now migrated right into your ear canal.

I know previous generations have had stereos, boom boxes, walkmans and loud music of their own. But as with everything, it seems like in more recent years the decibel has increased. And putting ear buds directly in your ear doesn't help matters.

I've (mostly) grown out of the loud, booming music phase. And I'm taking more care to protect my hearing. Like yesterday, I vacuumed with a Shop-Vac for over two hours, and I made sure to wear protective ear muffs while I did it.

I hope that will save me a few years of yelling, "What?" at everyone around me.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000, lit by a single CFL bulb indoors

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

51/365 Banjo ready to duel

When I say the word "banjo," what comes to mind?

Is it this?

When I hear the word, I do think of this song, but not in relation to Deliverance. Instead, I think of my clogging days.

My team had a clogging routine choreographed to an interpretation of "Dueling Banjos" that pitted the older seasoned members of the group against the younger steppers. It was a routine I always enjoyed, and which garnered a good reaction from the crowd.

I'm a fan of bluegrass and country music, so I enjoy the sound of a well-played banjo. I was surprised to learn recently that Steve Martin is an avid banjo-player, and he just released a CD. Talk about talented! He played a silly kids' song on SNL earlier this year, and you can see a clip in this article in the Chicago Tribune.

Maybe this banjo will someday be played with as much skill and enthusiasm.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 500

Monday, May 11, 2009

50/365 Snowball bushes and science projects

There aren't many snowballs that I'll welcome in May (thank goodness we've left winter behind), but I'll make an exception for this. It's a snowball viburnum, and it's easy to see where it gets its name.

This snowball bush is just a little guy yet, at only a foot or so tall. The blooms almost seem artificially molded, because they form in a perfect sphere, like a decorator pinned individual blossoms into a styrofoam ball.

You know, the styrofoam balls you bought at JoAnn's or Michael's, painted, and hung with fishing line to make a diorama of the solar system for a science project?

Or maybe kids don't do that anymore because styrofoam is bad for the environment and hard to recycle. Maybe they design a computer animation and submit it online.

Wow, that's a scary thought. Will the papier-mache volcano be the next to go?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/640, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 7:45 p.m. in direct sunlight.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

49/365 Blooming rhododendron

The lovely rhododendron I mentioned in my last post is blooming more today, so it merited a return visit.

I did my usual light research relating to rhododendrons and was surprised to learn that rhododendrons are an amazingly widespread and revered plant. For example, did you know that there is an organization called the American Rhododendron Society?

Or, (being an Indiana native, I didn't know this) did you know that the rhododendron is the state flower of both West Virginia and Washington? They chose two different varieties, but the fact that this plant can grow on opposite coasts of the United States says a lot about its versatility.

The state flower of Indiana (the peony) won't bloom for another few weeks, but I'm glad to welcome Washington's and West Virgina's representatives to the season.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 125 in shade at about 5:00 p.m.

48/365 Hosta-l territory

I'm sorry, I know the pun in the title of this post is bad, but I couldn't resist. It popped into my head immediately and refused to leave.

I started to photograph the rhododendron that lives near this lovely hosta, but it wasn't quite fully blooming yet, so I started scouting for plan B. And that's when I found myself in a hosta-ge situation.

Oops, that one slipped out. My apologies.

I love the soft patterns in the leaves, and what caught my eye were the spirals created by the overlapping layers. It's a beautiful green and ivory-colored leaf, but I knew right off the bat that I wanted to see it in black and white to focus on the pattern.

Post number 49 will feature the rhododendron. It just needed an extra day for more blooms to greet the world.

Uh oh, look out, here comes another one.

Hosta la vista, baby.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 at about 6:30 p.m.

47/365 Friday morning sunrise

On the subject of the sky, whether it be sunrise, sunset or any state in between, I agree with the Pioneer Woman: boy, do I love the sky.

You only have to click on one of my tags in the list on the right to see how often I'm captivated. Check out clouds, night, night sky, sky, star trails, storms, sunrise, sunset, and weather to catch all of them.

I easily catch more sunsets than sunrises, but let's face it -- I'm just not out and about as often at sunrise. Especially now, when it's miraculously arriving earlier and earlier by the day.

This sunrise caught my eye on my drive to work on Friday. It wasn't overly colorful, but the clouds were interesting, and that really affects the scene. Beautiful!

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000 at about 7:15 a.m.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

46/365 A beckoning yellow iris

I did a little Googling about irises before this post (as I often do), and I found on Wikipedia (an always excellent resource) that "iris" comes from the Greek word for a rainbow.

They're called irises because they're found in such a wide variety of colors. I found this yellow one surrounded by lavender, and it was reaching out to be photographed.

SalisburyPost says that according to Greek mythology, the goddess Iris was a messenger believed to be the link between heaven and earth, and irises now symbolize faith, hope, wisdom, courage and admiration.

I wouldn't turn down a bouquet of irises no matter what it symbolized, but it's always nice to know it's positive!

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 200 in shade at about 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

45/365 Book club discussions

I've never been very good at deciphering the subtext in literature (in both prose and poetry). Call me dense, but I've always been of the mind that if you want to tell me something, just tell me.

I'm feeling, however, like participating in a monthly book club is helping to improve my ability to read between the lines. But I've taken oodles of literature classes in the past, so why would this social book club be a catalyst?

Perhaps it's age and maturity. Or perhaps it's because in college, I could rely on the teacher and my fellow subtext-loving classmates to elevate the subtleties. At book club, though, we have a small group, and if we're not careful, the talk can easily become just a reiteration of plot points ("Remember that part where he...") rather than a true discussion of the book.

So even though I'm not being graded, perhaps I'm mentally working harder out of a sense of responsibility to my fellow club-mates. In fact, while reading our most recent selection, I found myself making notes that I wanted to be sure to bring up in the discussion.

Maybe it was just this book that inspired me. I'll just have to see if I can keep it up.

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

44/365 One dandelion, two images

These two photos are great demonstrations of what I absolutely adore and sometimes loathe about macro photography -- focus.

For the photography enthusiasts out there, I used a wide aperture -- f/2.8 -- which, in macro terms, makes for an incredibly short depth of field.

In everyday language, a short depth of field means the distance from the part of your subject in-focus to where it becomes blurred is very short. And the closer you physically get to your subject, that depth of field narrows even farther. For these photos, I propped myself on my elbows about six inches from the dandelion.

What do I love about macro photography? Amplifying small details that can go unnoticed. Or finding the photograph in what may be seen as mundane.

And I love that by changing your focal point just half an inch, you create an entirely different image.

In this first photo, I focused on the front edge of the fuzzy seeds. The sun was behind and to the right of the flower, creating that subtle sheen and sparkle.

Then, in the other photo, I focused on the bases of the seeds on the inside of the fuzzy ball (I'm obviously using very technical botanical terms). Anyone who has ever encountered a dandelion knows that they're only about an inch or so in diameter, so the distance from the outer edges of the fuzz to the base of the seeds is very small.

But it gives the photograph an entirely different look!

Oh, and what do I sometimes loathe about this short depth of field in macro photography? Just add a slight breeze and your subject bounces all over the place, making focusing a real challenge.

I really like both of these photos, which is why I chose to share both of them with you. I couldn't choose a favorite. What do you think?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 100 and 200 at about 7:45 p.m.

Monday, May 4, 2009

43/365 Low-guilt dessert

Many things make me happy, but one in particular is a low-guilt dessert. And when the weather warms up, I want ice cream.

Cold, creamy, sweet ice cream.

My two latest favorites are: Skinny Cow Vanilla Sandwiches (pictured here) and Weight Watchers Giant Vanilla Sundae Cones. Yum! (Both of these I've bought from your standard grocery store. Nothing fancy.)

If you peruse the various Skinny Cow products, you'll see tons of options. I've tried the Skinny Dippers (in the Bars category), but the ice cream isn't the same as that found in the sandwiches. It's not as good. Lower calories, but not really worth it.

Another non-ice-cream favorite of mine is a chocolate Jell-o pudding cup. With some Cool-Whip on top. And if you really feel like living on the edge, sprinkle some Heath bar on top.

One thing all of these have in common that I enjoy is portion control. If you want more than a serving, you have to actually go back to the freezer (or fridge) and get another one. You can't go overboard with a too-big bowl or too-large scoops. Love that!

Is anyone else hungry now?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 500

Sunday, May 3, 2009

42/365 Alliums in the morning light

I find these flowers fascinating. They're alliums, and they're so different than most of the other flowers in my yard -- they stand two or three feet tall, have no leaves, and the blossom is shaped like a big purple snowball.

I photographed it last year in full bloom, but this year I was able to catch it just before it started to pop open.
I did a little research to learn more about these interesting flowers, and would you believe that they're related to onions? I'm going to make it a point to step closer and take a big whiff the next time I walk by.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/500s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 9:00 a.m.

41/365 When should I buy organic?

I'm all in favor of the return to eating more organically produced foods. But until we see more options readily available at the grocery store -- at a comparable price -- it's going to take some time for society to completely make the switch.

If you're just dipping your toe into the organic-shopping pool, where do you start? Are there some foods that you should definitely buy organic, and others you can buy normally?

Both of these questions have crossed my mind. And this past week, I found a good answer in a surprising location, one where I wouldn't necessarily think to look for guidance on healthy shopping: the March issue of Glamour magazine (yes, it's May, and I'm a little behind in my reading).

The article is titled, "Five foods every woman should eat organic," but the information applies to both men and women.

One of the five foods recommended is an apple because of the high levels of toxic pesticides used (and they're in close company with nectarines, peaches, pears, strawberries, cherries and imported grapes), but what's also interesting in this section are three fruits you don't have to worry about buying organic: oranges, bananas and pineapples.

Why? Think about what makes these fruits different than those earlier in the list -- they have thick, durable skins that you peel or slice off before eating it. You may peel an apple, but it's not a requirement, and the skin is only a thin barrier between the fruit and the outside world.

Interesting! I recommend reading the whole article, man or woman. It makes what can be an overwhelming shopping trip (mentally and financially) a little more manageable.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 400

40/365 Patches of clover

I played softball from second grade through eighth. In those earlier years, the pastime girls on my team enjoyed when "stuck" in the outfield was searching for four-leafed clover.

Some were more subtle searchers than others. You could look like you were ready and paying attention, standing completely vertically while casting your eyes to the ground. Or, you could squat down -- or even plop down in the grass if you were truly bold -- and completely ignore what was going on in the infield.

When you're eight or nine years old, not many kids have the skill required to hit a ball all the way into the outfield. So it can be quite boring.

I still think of that when I see a patch of clover and the kid in me wants to stop and look for the four-leafed lucky variety.

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 1000 at about 8:00 p.m.