Thursday, September 30, 2010

102/365 Smoothie material

My go-to breakfast when the weather is warm is a good, cold smoothie. This summer I've learned why bananas are such a mainstay ingredient in smoothie recipes -- they add a real, tangible creaminess to it unlike any other fruit.

I like to buy a big bunch of bananas at the grocery store, slice them onto a cookie sheet, and stick them in the freezer overnight. By morning, I have enough pre-sliced, frozen bananas to start at least a week's worth of smoothies.

Want to know something else about that frozen banana? You can make one-ingredient ice cream with it! Dump a couple frozen bananas in a blender and go -- after a few rounds of scraping the contents down the sides of the bowl, you've got creamy soft-serve ice cream. It's fascinating!

Hungry now?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens and 430EX Speedlite, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 640

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

First 100 posts of Year 3!

Can you believe I forgot to mark the 100th-post milestone? I know, it's shameful!

Well, let's give the milestone its due fanfare! Here's a roundup of my ten favorite posts from the past 100:

1/365 Year 3 - Redbud Trees: The first post of this round, and I love this photo. Budding redbud trees are one of my favorite signs of spring, and I especially like the lines in this photo.

12/365 Azaleia: You can tell I like the color pink just by the fact that these first two posts I'm listing feature shades of it! This azaleia at Mom and Dad's is so vibrant it almost doesn't look real.

14/365 Lone tree standing: This photo conveys a tangible feeling -- loneliness, independence, foreboding... Seeing it in black and white helps to focus the eye on the composition, too.

19/365 A city in North Yorkshire: My first-ever trip to the United Kingdom! How could I not include at least one post from this trip in this list? The trip was great, and I'd love to go back and see more of England. I really liked York itself, if only for the fact that you can easily walk from one side of the small city to the other.

23/365 One day in London: You have one day to see London -- what do you do? Since this trip, I've become hooked on The Tudors, a Showtime series on DVD, and I'm completely enthralled by it. Seeing scenes of London and North Yorkshire in the show, and learning more about a particularly defining time in England's history, is so much more real to me now that I've seen some of it for myself.

29/365 Heavy poppies: You'd think poppies would develop a stronger stem to keep themselves upright, wouldn't you?

52/365 Road trip!: Mom and I took a week-long vacation together this summer, and we began our road trip in Asheville, NC. We both loved it and definitely want to go back.

54/365 Blue Ridge Parkway: You must drive at least a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway in your lifetime. The scenery is completely worth it, and it won't be there forever, I'm sure.

63/365 Acidic soil and blue hydrangeas: You know I love flowers, and this has become one of my all-time favorites!

90/365 They don't make bridges like they used to: An old bridge, on a secluded road, in rural Indiana. How often do you see bridges like this anymore?

How about you? What was your favorite post? Is it one that didn't make this list?

What's next for posts 101 through 200? Fall, the holiday season, the first snowfall... get cozy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

101/365 Closing out the tomato season

I've been filching tomatoes from Mom and Dad recently (with their consent). My garden did very well at the beginning of the summer, but it has definitely suffered in the dry spell we've had lately. Luckily, I started really watering it in time to save the tomatoes, and they're coming back to life.

But it does mean that I've had several weeks during which my Better Boys haven't produced a single ripe tomato. Time to raid Mom and Dad's garden!

I've also found some local growers with roadside stands that have proven really valuable. This is the first year I've seriously set my mind toward supporting my local farmers, and the difference between local (seasonal) produce and that you find at the grocery store really is apparent. My diet has gone through a massive (though gradual) overhaul in the last year, and my consciousness as an eater and consumer has morphed along with it.

It's left me feeling like I have food on the brain constantly, but I'm proud of how far I've come! As a kid, I was the difficult child who couldn't eat in a restaurant unless it served chicken nuggets or spaghetti (with the sauce on the side!). Picky was my middle name. But in the last year, I've discovered a love for brussels sprouts, asparagus, interesting squashes... and amazingly, these are all vegetables, an item that was sorely missing from my diet for the past two decades.

I'm sad to see the local tomato season drawing to an end, but now I'm looking forward to squash time! What food do you look forward to most at this time of year?

Camera: Canon 40D with 60mm macro lens, 1/125s, f/2.8 at ISO 200 at about 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

100/365 Corn, ready for harvest

It's harvest time in central Indiana!

For some reason, it seems like harvesting began earlier this year than usual, but that perception may just be due to the fact that I'm flabbergasted that we've reached the end of September. It could also be influenced by the lack of rain we've had since July, so the crops dried out sooner.

Regardless, it's now officially fall, and that means harvest time, squash time, cool-evening time, dark-morning time, and apple-cider time.

Where did the year go? Are you as shocked as I am that it's nearly October?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/640s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 5:30 p.m.

Friday, September 24, 2010

99/365 Fun shipping boxes

Every once in a while at work, we have to do some manual labor and become a packing/shipping/mailing house for a client project. One such project came up in the last couple of weeks -- I'm not even sure what client it was for or what the project was -- but these FedEx shipping boxes were a constant presence near the reception desk for a few days.

I walked past them several times, and the repeating triangles caught my eye each time. I finally remembered to grab my camera on the last day they were here, before they were picked up and sent on their merry way.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/500s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 at about 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

98/365 A beautiful sunset

I can't help it, I love a good sunset. (Just see all the posts tagged with "sunset" for hard evidence.)

I love that every single one is different, and I love that they change by the minute. Getting a great photo means hitting that timing just right, and I love that challenge.

And while some photographers may thumb their noses at sunsets, saying they're cliche and expected, I don't subscribe to that line of thinking. Sunsets are common photograph subjects simply because people love them. How can you not -- at least occasionally -- stop and be momentarily awed by the beauty of a red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple sky?

So, to all the elitist photographers out there -- by all means, don't photograph sunsets. Just send them to me, and I'll gladly take the sunset for you.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4 at ISO 320 at about 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

97/365 Patience and dedication

Training a horse is hard work. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is pulling your leg.

Training a fairly new horse after you've made great progress with another can be even harder, because patience becomes an even bigger hurdle.

It probably parallels raising kids in a lot of ways. You've successfully gotten one out of diapers, and then the next one comes along, and the process begins all over again. Am I right?

We welcomed Xena into the family in November 2008, and Mom's been training her, with the intention of having two great trail horses, ever since. Xena is a great horse with a big presence, and the Path to Great Trail Horse has had its excitement.

Every horse (like every person) has its issues, and the key to successful training is twofold: 1) find a great horse with a good temperament and 2) issues that can be addressed. Some horses have had negative experiences with lawn chairs. Or umbrellas. Or plastic grocery bags. Or loud trucks. Others remember a problem on a hill, in a puddle, near a road, or in a field. The possibilities are endless, and their memories are impressive. A lot you can work through (like therapy!), while others are too difficult to overcome.

Xena has had a negative experience on a hill at some point in her history, so that's been a key challenge for Mom to work through in her training. It has required a lot of time working on flat ground in the round pen and elsewhere, focusing a lot on getting Xena's attention on and submission to Mom. Xena is progressing, so it looks like the physical and metaphorical hill can be conquered.

In the meantime, patience and dedication have become Mom's middle name.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 1:30 p.m. and 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 100 at about 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

96/365 Front-porch entertainment

When you live way out in the country, entertainment seen from your front porch is limited. Because of that, the annual 10K run that passes my parents' house is quite exciting!

I'm not a runner, though I've tried to be (several times). My knees and joints just don't like the high-impact aspects of running, so I've finally accepted the fact that I'm destined to be a walker and/or biker for the rest of my life.

Knowing that running can be a grueling sport, I admire people who train for races -- like 10Ks -- and finish. It takes time, dedication, motivation, perseverance... you name it. Not everyone can do it, me included.

It's easy to admire the winners of these races, but I have a lot of respect for the people who come in last, too. Mentally, that's not the easiest place to be in. In this particular race, an ambulance follows the runners, trailing about 30 feet behind the final person. So that person ends up running or walking the whole race with the sound of a diesel engine pushing them from behind the whole time. I don't think that's a sound many people would want to program into their iPods as a constant for 6.2 miles.

Would you?

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/200s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 8:30 a.m.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

95/365 Horses at Old Fashioned Days

Would a festival called "Old Fashioned Days" be complete if it didn't include horses? Not in my book!

On Labor Day weekend, Sunday night's festivities always feature a horse pull, which has been preceded in recent years by a horse-riding demonstration. Chase has ridden in the demonstration a couple times, but this year, some other riders took a turn.

The photo above, taken during the demonstration, didn't capture a dramatic action sequence, but rather another side of horseback riding that I always enjoy seeing: a relationship between a rider and his or her horse.

If you've never been to a horse pull, it's really an interesting competition that requires a lot of practice and training. Two draft horses are harnessed together and work as a team to pull a sled carrying tons of weight. Literally tons. The team that won this year's event pulled 10,500 pounds of weight. Isn't that incredible?

The horses are "driven" by one person walking behind them, usually the owner, who holds the reins and is the only person allowed to speak to the horses and encourage them during the pull. Two other people walk with him and are responsible for hooking the horses up to the weighted sled. The horses have loads of adrenaline before they pull, so they're ready to dig in as soon as they get lined up. It's very common for them to miss the hookup the first time in their excitement. In the photo below, the guy in the red shirt has just connected the horses to the sled and is jumping out of the way as they start pulling.
As we watched this year's pull, Mom and I commented on the fact that this definitely seems to be an older-man's sport. A couple drivers/owners were in their 40s or 50s, but they were the youngest of the group. One driver was in his 80s.
I usually only make it to this one horse pull each year, but I like having it be part of my Labor Day weekend's activities!

Camera: Canon 40D with 70-300mm IS lens, 1/400s and 1/200s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

94/365 Antique tractors on parade

Labor Day weekend wouldn't feel complete without Old Fashioned Days, my hometown's annual festival.

One of the features of the weekend is the county's largest parade, and it earns that distinction largely because of the sheer volume of antique tractors that make an appearance. You'd be hard-pressed to see more tractors in one place anywhere else. 

Chase drove a tractor in the parade this year, so Mom and I went early to get a good seat and embarrass him by taking lots of photos.

Antique tractors have a very distinctive sound, and as I sat listening to their rhythm as they drove past, I realized that the sound is one that I've really grown to enjoy. I wouldn't necessarily call it exciting, but it definitely evokes a lot of fond, familiar memories for me. It's a sound that I associate with the end of summer and the beginning of fall -- Labor Day weekend itself.

Now I'm ready for apple cider and pumpkins!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/640s, f/4 at ISO 100 at about 11:45 a.m.

Friday, September 10, 2010

93/365 Friday night Indians game

Indianapolis may not have a major-league baseball team, but having a minor-league team in town is a nice trade!

The Indianapolis Indians are a Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the stadium, Victory Field, is right in downtown Indianapolis within walking distance of the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium.

I generally make it to an Indians game about once every couple of years. (I'm not a very consistent fan, am I?) When I do make it, I'm reminded of my days playing little-league softball as a kid. At that time, we went to at least one game a year as a special outing with our families, and my mitt still bears the faded signatures of some of the Indians' players.

The team now follows most Friday-night games with a fireworks display. Last Friday, I went with a couple girlfriends, but though our intentions were to see the fireworks, we left before the game was over. It was an unusually chilly night with a strong wind that had us wishing we'd dressed a little warmer. (Call us weenies, go ahead.) When 10:00 rolled around and there were two innings still left to be played, we called it a night.

Man, I'm getting old!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 400 at about 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

92/365 Teasing with the threat of rain

It. Is. Dry.

Dry, dry, dry. August ended up as the driest on record for central Indiana, as we got only 0.37 inches of rain over the whole month. That hurts! The grass is brown, my garden has certainly suffered, and events are being canceled (like fireworks) because of it. We're not technically experiencing drought conditions, but you can see on this state drought monitor that it won't take much more of this to push us into that category.

We've had a couple days here and there during which clouds have rolled in and teased us with the threat of rain -- including this day last week when I made this photograph -- but it hasn't amounted to anything at my house.

I sure hope this breaks soon! Have you been experiencing the same thing? Have you had to do anything to make up for the lack of rain?

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 6:00 p.m.

Monday, September 6, 2010

91/365 This is what organic looks like

Organic food isn't always pretty. And unfortunately, that does turn some people away.

Mom and Dad don't spray their apple tree, and as a result, both the apples and the leaves end up rather bug-eaten. (What can I say, at least the bugs have good taste!) The apples are perfectly good, though they'll require a little extra selective labor to cut away the bad parts. If you're making applesauce, apple cider, apple butter, apple jam, it doesn't matter; you'll get an end result that is wonderfully delicious and chemical-free. Now that sounds tasty.

I hope more people will learn to look past an often less-attractive exterior to reach for the organic option. In my opinion, it's worth it.

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/4.5 at ISO 160 at about 7:30 p.m. in direct sunlight

Thursday, September 2, 2010

90/365 They don't make bridges like they used to

This is the second time I've tried photographing this bridge. It crosses a creek on a fairly isolated road that doesn't get much traffic, so I should be able to take my time in photographing it. I like its age and intricacy. It's so much more interesting than most of the bridges that are constructed now.

Why did I essentially fail the first time? Dogs. Big, running, barking dogs that came barreling at the car from a nearby house. The kind of dogs that are really intimidating and you don't know how their bite actually relates to their bark.

So the way I photographed it this time? From the safety of the car, standing up through the open sunroof.

Gotta love a sunroof!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 at about 3:00 p.m. under clear skies