Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wildlife

I love animals and taking pictures of animals, especially dogs.  Since the tornado and all the storms in 2011 the neighborhood hasn't seemed like an appealing spot for attracting wildlife. Back when we first moved into the neighborhood and before we got Buddy, there were always deer roaming in the backyard. (Haven't seen a deer since Buddy came along....and not sure I'm too broken up about it.....who needs more deer ticks?!) Over the years I have also spotted a bobcat, fisher cats and fox.
 
This past fall I was walking through the family room and looked out the window only to see a very Neanderthal bird on the side of our pool.  I immediately ran for my camera and prayed he'd hang there long enough for a couple shots. I believe this is a heron...possibly a blue heron? We certainly have seen them flying overhead more than I remember prior to the storms. How cool to see one of these up close and personal!





Squirrels have been pretty scarce since the tree population disappeared.  This past fall was a really good pumpkin year and I stocked up on pumpkins for outside décor and carving.  I eventually moved most of the softening pumpkins to the edge of the back woods.  One smart squirrel found our stash and cleaned out every pumpkin.  Must be the same one that I photographed from our front door taking care of this pumpkin. Oh boy was he/she plump....and very helpful in posing for some shots.




Although we don't have any mature trees nearby, we do have a large group of beautiful cardinals that spend the winter feeding at our next door neighbor's feeders. There must be a dozen male and female cardinals that zip back and forth between the feeders and the shrubs in between our houses.  I grabbed my camera one snowy winter day to get a few shots since I knew the background would be so pretty. I could look at these beautiful birds all day long.



While I was focusing on the cardinals something caught my eye at the cluster of bird feeders these same neighbors have on the edge of their back woods. I looked a little closer only to see a beautiful fox watching the birds....or maybe a squirrel....at the feeder.  The focus wasn't so great with the busy background, but I did get a couple shots from a distance of this beautiful, healthy fox. 



I called my neighbor to tell her the fox was at her feeder and she called to thank me later since it was truly a beautiful sight to see.

It's not national park or forest, but I was pretty pleased with the opportunity to view and photograph some wildlife from the comforts of home this past year!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fall Highlights!

On my quest to become current with this blog, I decided it would be easier and quicker to combine the best of fall highlights into one post.
 
Scout's Halloween
 
The annual Scout's Halloween party proved to be fun as usual.  There were many stations of activities set up including make-your-own snacks, toilet-paper mummies, face painting and tattoos, mystery box, no-handed donut eating, etc.  We had Luke's costume picked out and purchased early again this year which I was convinced had caused a jynx again as we watched Hurricane Sandy come up the East coast towards us on October 29th.  New York and New Jersey shores were devastated but we were spared any trouble.  I was mostly nervous that heavy winds would cause downed trees, power outages and the second year in a row of cancelled Halloween.  Thankfully, this was not the case!!
 
The Scouts Halloween event was a success across the board.





Celebrating Nine!

After a fun soccer season, Luke wanted to keep the fun going and decided on a soccer-themed birthday. His party happened to be on the same day as his Jamboree which had been a huge success.  The kids were on a high and just ran around with no organized game for the party. I tried my hand at a soccer cake and although it looked neat, the pattern turned out a little flowery in my opinion. But Luke liked it and it was delicious!





Halloween Parade
 
It was my very last Halloween parade at Mile Tree. This has always been a favorite event of mine, watching all the familiar smiley faces walk by in their costumes.  Chica looked adorable in that witch costume and enjoyed saying hello to people who she spotted in the crowd.



Fall Soccer!

Chica definitely loves soccer. She had lots of fun this fall with her little team and they won some games! She never complained about going to practice or games and always tried her little heart out. 





 
 Luke's team didn't win many games but at the season ending Jamboree they went undefeated!  What an exciting end to his season. All of his buddies were on this team and I was a little nervous there would be too much goofing around. But Coach Bret and Coach Kathy kept them in line and they behaved! Luke really liked playing goalie and showed he wasn't afraid of the ball. 


 
 


Ben's team did very well. They won most of their games and made the playoffs. They headed up to Huntington for playoffs and lost a heartbreaker from a bad referee call. I don't usually place blame on referees for losses, but there truly was a terrible call. Ben's best game of the year was his first game of the season which was on the first day of school. He slept horribly the night before and I was sure he was going to come home from school with a raging headache. But he didn't and the adrenaline from his first day at the Middle School fueled his body. He played amazing and I was so proud!







Friday, March 29, 2013

Apple Picking Goofiness

We found our calendars open on the Monday of Columbus Day weekend and made plans with our friends to go apple picking at our favorite spot in Connecticut. It turned out there weren't a lot of apples to choose from....about 2-3 different varieties, and none that excited any of us.  But we made it there and had to pick some apples!




The views are usually picturesque.  The clouds were masking the blue skies for the most part.  I attempted to get a group shot of my kids but what I got was a whole lot of silliness.  Chica gave us her best "ducky" pose which for some reason is THE teenage pose these days.

Jack was not helping at all. He wanted no part of posing for a family shot and although I was totally annoyed, the resulting pictures are pretty funny. Ben couldn't contain his laughs.


As a little pay back for his noncompliance...SNIPE.


A couple more attempts at a group shot. Ben, Luke and Chica were helpful. Jack, not so much. At least I got to show him how his pants look from behind.



Eventually, my kids were guilted into a group shot with our friends.


Fun time!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Photowalk Getaway


My friend, Becky, invited me to join in her a Scott Kelby photowalk that was happening at a place I've been wanting to see for a long time - Quabbin Reservoir. I was so excited to get away for a little bit and take pictures,  although I was a little unsure of how it would be meeting up and photographing with strangers.  I don't do well forcing myself to take photos and I don't feel like I have confidence about my natural eye for photos.
 
We had a gorgeous day and Quabbin was more beautiful than I expected. The only surprise was that the foliage was not much to see.  The second week October should be peak or past peak foliage and the vibrant fall New England colors were lacking.
 
Our first stop was to meet the group at a tower. Wow....the views were glorious.






After we were done viewing the scene from the top of the tower I grabbed a couple shots of the tower itself. I think I submitted the second shot to the Kelby Photowalk contest.



Our next stop was Enfield Lookout.  The sites were so pretty, but I couldn't think of a way to make a landscape photo unique.



Across the road from the lookout was a wooded area with a little pond. There were pretty reflections and colors in this little area.






After the Lookout we went to the dam. By then the clouds had come and the light wasn't that great and I just wasn't feeling the love for photographing the scenery. But I did find some rocky love along the way.

 
Becky and I did circle back to these trees which looked pretty awesome from the road.  Unfortunately they seemed to be diseased and were being cut down.
 
 
As we were leaving the Quabbin area we stopped at a bridge where there is a river.  There were two guys finishing up some fishing.  That was a treat to see and I went over to see if I could photograph their catch.


 
 
Typical photograph enthusiasts, most of us chased the last of the light to photograph a pretty church down the road.  Finally some pretty foliage!
 


It was a nice day with Becky.  I always learn a lot from her and enjoy her company. We had a nice dinner together and then went home to examine our photographic prizes!