Project 365: Deep in the heart of winter

I‘ve heard that the last week of January and the first week of February are the dark heart of winter — the coldest weeks of the year. You can tell based on my pictures this week, featuring lots of cold and snow.

You saw this one of Lucas from Shiverfest already, but I liked it so much it was worth repeating!

37:365 Shiverfest at Lucas

I was driving past a little copse of woods at the south end of Merivale the morning after a night of lightly falling snow, and I had to stop and take a picture. I really liked the almost abstract quality and the monochrome feel to this.

36:365 Winter forest

And yes, more with the freshly fallen snow. This is the same old barn off Bankfield that I’ve photographed before, and I am completely enamoured of it. I swear I will keep taking snow pictures until I get one right!!

41:365 Snow barn

What’s really nice is when you can take a nice winter picture through the open patio door from the warmth of the kitchen!!

40:365 Winter play TtV

And speaking of the warmth of the kitchen… 😉 I have to tell you, I’m fighting very hard against my impulse to make him STOP mixing all the colours together like that.

42:365 Playdoh fingers TtV

(Here’s a sanity-saving parenting tip for you: I carry three of those little mini-containers of playdoh, the size that you can hand out for Halloween, in my purse. Any time we have to wait somewhere — doctor’s office, restaurant, etc — I pull out the playdoh and all three boys are engaged and distracted for up to 20 minutes. LOVE playdoh!)

A little mosaic of pictures from Simon’s party which you’ve also already seen, but what the heck:

38:365 Happy Birthday Simon!

This one was too cute not too share. Tristan lost an incisor and put it on the counter in a napkin — but forgot to mention it to me. While I was making dinner, I obliviously scooped up the napkin and its icky contents (give me snot or blood but I cannot handle wiggly teeth) and dumped them into the garbage. I told Tristan that the tooth fairy would likely accept a letter of explanation in lieu of an actual tooth, and this is what he wrote:

39:365 Dear Tooth Fairy

So do you remember how I agonized about getting the boys their first hand-held video game? How we only capitulated last summer before the big road trip to Nova Scotia, when they were six and eight, and even then I thought we were on the border of too early?


And this is the not-quite-three-year-old playing Angry Birds on the iTouch with Beloved.

43:365 Beloved and Lucas playing Angry Birds

And inevitably, a few moments later:

iTouch bonding - after

Sigh. (Nice light, though, eh? ;))

And finally, a 365 tradition that I nearly forgot about — the monthly mosaic for January. Just in case you missed some of these the first five or six times. 😉

365 Monthly Mosaic - January

Off to a pretty good start on the year, no?

On photos and covetousness and social media success stories

While I love my camera and taking pictures, I’m not a huge gear junkie. I’m mostly happy with the four lenses I have, and the small bag of accessories. I have the kit lens, which I use when I know I’ll need a wider angle and for TtV. I have a telephoto zoom, so I can get in close from a distance. I have a 50 mm f1.8 that I wanted because the kit lens only opens up to f4.5 and I’m a fan of a very narrow depth of field, and I have a 35 mm f1.8 because I got a great deal on it second hand and it will autofocus on my D40 while the fiddy will not.

This is pretty much enough of a lens repertoire for me, with one small exception. I really, really (no, really!) want a Lensbaby Composer. You know how I said I like a really shallow depth of field? The Lensbaby line of lenses goes one further than that, giving you a ‘sweet spot’ of focus while distorting rest of the image. The more you stop down, the larger the sweet spot. It produces fun, dreamy images with amazing bokeh.

Since I don’t yet have a Lensbaby of my own to play with (yet?) I’ve had to borrow some amazing Lensbaby shots from the talented Ms Angela Auclair of “From the Dock” fame. 😉 Here’s what a Lensbaby can do in the hands of a talented photographer:

the tick

my cornwall

Gone, and a cloud in my heart.

Aren’t they just breathtaking images? So yes, the Lensbaby and a D90 are the only two things left on the list of gear I covet.

I like Lensbaby so much that I follow them on Twitter. Every now and then they have giveaways, and I was super excited to see earlier this week that they were sponsoring a winter photography contest with @plywerk, offering a chance to win a Lensbaby Scout.

Now, if you’re Canadian like me, you know what it’s like. Whenever you see a contest or a giveaway, you know you have to go straight to the eligibility rules, and more than half the time you’re out of luck — contest is open to USA residents only. Sigh. It’s tough living under the shadow of the giant who is oblivious to you! I’ve had to pass on more than a few excellent blog promos that were open to US residents only, and you could say I’m a little sensitive to the issue.

So when I read that the winter photography contest was open only to residents of the 50 United States — seriously, who knows winter photography better than us Canadians?! — I sent a quick reply via Twitter saying that I was disappointed that I couldn’t apply. And guess what? Less than 24 hours later, Lensbaby replied to me and said they had reconsidered, and the contest is now open to everyone.

How awesome is that? I’m so chuffed that Lensbaby and Plywerk opened up their contest that I thought they deserved props for it here. I love it when companies actually *listen*!!

So now I have to choose a winter photograph to submit. Oh the angst! And by the way, none of you talented photographers out there are allowed to submit an entry to this contest — I can’t stand the competition!! 😉

Edited to add: awwww, and lookit Angela’s reply. It’s a bloggy love-fest!

Six years ago today: My first blog post

Six years ago today, on February 2, 2005, I wrote my very first-ever blog post:

Okay, so I’ve been reading about blogs for quite some time now. At first, the idea was quaintly geeky, which of course immediately appealed to me. But aside from generally knowing what they were, and stumbling across a few here and there, I never really realized what a universe unto themselves blogs have become.

So I started really thinking about it. To blog or not to blog? Note the insecurity in each of the questions I pondered: Am I funny enough to blog? (because if I don’t have humour then I don’t really have anything at all.) Does anyone really care what I have to say? What would I talk about? What if nobody reads my blog? What if somebody reads my blog? And the real biggie: do I have the resources to commit to a blog right now? Well, the last one is the only one I can answer right now. Since I’m back at work for the first time in a year, I can at least probably find an hour or so a week (on my lunch hour, bien sûr!) For the record, it took me about 15 alt+ combinations before I could get that û accent right.

If I could just type instead of editing and playing and getting lost in the friggin’ thesaurus I could probably do this in about half the time. If I only had an attention span…

So what would I blog about? Well, my kids of course. What else is there of significance in my universe? So does the world really need another soccer-mom wanna-be sending dispatches from suburbia, trying to strike a voice somewhere between Erma Bombeck, Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby, but in the 21st century, not Jewish, not male and not black? And potentially not really funny?

Well, why the hell not?

So here we go. I’m so self-conscious as I type away, wondering if you are rolling your eyes at me or thinking cruel thoughts about my writing skills or (worst of all) have completely lost interest and have not even made it this far. What if I install a hit counter and I have to spend all my free time hitting refresh so it looks like somebody is reading my blog?

So, are you still reading? Should I publish this, or banish it to bad-idea heaven?

Ah, what the hell. Here we go!

I’m both charmed and, truth be told, vaguely disturbed at how little has changed. Still toe-in-the-carpet insecure, still unable to complete a thought without interrupting myself, still chasing that precious laugh.

Fast forward six years, 1,870 posts, 24,701 comments and nearly (eek!) half a million page views. I couldn’t even guess how many words I’ve plowed through, nor how many hours (days? weeks??) I’ve spent here glued to my keyboard instead of doing some *real* work like scrubbing sink grout or alphabetizing my soup cans.

And yet, I will freely admit, the blog is one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself. If I could fly back through time and tell 2005 me of the crazy ride I was about to launch, never in a million years would I have believed me. And you, my bloggy peeps, are at the heart of it all. You make it all worthwhile!

So, are you still reading? 😉