June 2012

This week in pictures: Fresh

by DaniGirl on June 30, 2012 · 2 comments

in Photo of the Day

Holy cow, I just realized this may be the first week in who knows how long that I don’t have a picture of either Lucas or Willie or both! Well, you can see a wee bitty Lucas in this storyboard of our quick and eventually stormy first visit to Petrie Island last week. We had just arrived and had a little picnic lunch and the boys were splashing their feet (we hadn’t brought bathing suits or towels as the beach was not our original destination) when we noticed the threatening clouds coalesce into rain way up the Ottawa River toward Kanata. We watched the rain get closer and closer, and had just decided we had better move back to the car a little faster than anticipated when this wicked wind kicked up a sandstorm, just in front of the pouring rain. We made it in the barest nick of time!

A day at the beach

I’ve planted daisies and pink coneflowers in the front garden and sunflowers all over the place, and the damn things just refuse to grow. Who can’t grow sunflowers?! Apparently, me. But there’s a patch of daisies in the back garden that are flourishing and delightfully photogenic.


I’ve been working on honing my off-camera flash skills in anticipation of two flash workshops (well, one lecture and one workshop) that I’ll be attending later this summer. I’ve made lots of test shots, but these ones were the first ones that were interesting enough to share. I put the flash down on the ground amidst the daisies and pointed it straight up at them, then set my camera on manual with a shutter speed fast enough to kill the mid-day light, so the camera would only register what the flash was lighting. I liked it better in B&W, as it gives a more dramatic glow to the daisies, I think.

daisy flash

We got our first CSA share from Roots and Shoots farm this week. Fresh, photogenic and yummy too!

CSA share storyboard

It was a crazy-busy last week of school! First, there was the talent show.

talent show 2012

Then, I helped supervise the fourth grade class picnic. I was talking to Tristan’s teacher when she said, “Oh, the baby goats are here!” I thought it was a colloquialism, but no, a parent had arrived with their family pet goat’s two newborn kids. They were only two days old, fresh enough that they still had their umbilical cords attached! I tell ya, stuff like this doesn’t happen in city schools!

Just kid-ding

And then it was the last day of school. If you look closely, you can see Simon is fighting back tears here – at least I didn’t have both of them bawling this year. Does anyone else’s kids cry instead of dance the last day of school? I suppose I should be happy they love school so much, and with report cards that have B- as the lowest grade between them, it shows.

First and last day of school 2011-2012

Just for fun, here’s last year’s version. Huge difference!

188:365 First and last day of school 2010 - 2011

And this is the last year there will only be two in the traditional first/last day of school pictures – Lucas starts JK in September!!!


Yesterday I picked up our first CSA (community shared agriculture) share from Roots and Shoots farm. I was supposed to pick it up Wednesday in Manotick, but apparently I can’t read simple directions and managed to miss the first pick-up entirely, but they were nice enough to let me come out to the farm for the Manotick Station pick-up day and let me get my share on Thursday.

Not only do they offer yummy, organic, seasonal, local vegetables, but they send out an amazingly helpful e-mail with suggestions on how to prepare and enjoy food that may be a little exotic for families who subsist on a diet of vegetables you would mostly find in a 1970s garden salad with French dressing. In the brown faux-wood bowl, of course.

In this week’s share we got:

  • Garlic Scapes
  • Radishes
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Arugula
  • Spring Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Zucchini

Look! Not scary at all!

CSA share storyboard

With the exception of Hakurei turnips, I had previously heard of all of these things, and the only one that continues to intimidate me is the Swiss Chard. I picked up my share after work and with grilled peppercorn steaks already planned for dinner, I was excited to dig in to our bounty. I used the head lettuce in a salad with tomato and cucumber, just to ease the family in to the idea, and scrubbed up the Hakurei turnips and tossed ’em on a plate as Roots and Shoots suggested they taste best raw.

Thanks to a suggestion on Facebook, I put the garlic scapes into some tin foil with some butter, sea salt and pepper and grilled ’em up with the steak.

garlic scapes with butter

Oh! My! Good! God! The roasted garlic scapes were the highlight of the meal. Considering I’d never heard of them before our farm visit two weeks ago, they’ve shot to the top of my summer must-eat list. I dropped ’em on top of my steak the way you’d eat fried onions or fried mushrooms with a steak and they were divine!!

So on our very first share collection day, we ate our way through three of eight items, probably no more than 20 or so hours after they were growing in the field. How awesome is that?

But even after noshing our way through more than a third of our bi-weekly share in the first hour, I had a bit of a problem:

CSA share in the fridge

These vegetables are much, um, larger than I’m used to. The Swiss chard alone needs its own fridge. Clearly this whole CSA thing is going to lead to more lifestyle changes than I anticipated.

I’m already excited about my next share, but in the interim I’m headed out to the Manotick farmer’s market on Saturday morning to stock up on more garlic scapes. And I might need a little more mouthwash, too!


When I started this blog a million years ago, one of the dreams I held was that I might some day have my writing published in a major glossy magazine. My storytelling focus has wandered from my keyboard to my camera over the years, but I have never lost my love of telling a good anecdote. And now, I am super-proud to be able to share this: my first publishing credit on TodaysParent.com!

Click on over and enjoy my contribution to their new feature: Melt-Your-Heart Moments. I wrote about that most amazing parenting moment: watching your child’s first dance recital, first choir concert, or first halting acting performance as the third tree to the left in the school Christmas pageant.

Very timely, too (I love it when the universe is synchronific!) because just today my heart melted into a pile of proud goo at the school talent show where not one but TWO boys took to the stage. Simon and his buddies brought the house down with their dance routine to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem (there are not words nor photos that could do it justice), and Tristan finished off his first year of guitar lessons with a solo on stage.

talent show 2012

Could I be any prouder? I think this is as good as it gets.


I went to my Flickr account to pull up the photos from this week and blinked in surprise at the photos I took last weekend. Wait, that was only seven days ago? Surely to god this has been the longest week in history? Sure seems that way!

Last Saturday I had the immense pleasure of meeting this adorable trio of siblings when they came to the house for the last set of porch portraits before we tear apart the porch (whimper) to replace the poop pipe. Are they not the cutest kids ever? I’ve got a handful more shots from this fun session that I can’t wait to share, but this sneak peek will have to do for now.

Kids on a wagon

PS don’t you love my wagon? It’s my new favourite prop!

This one is from our Roots and Shoots farm adventure on the weekend.

Roots and Shoots Farm visit - tractor

Speaking of farms – cows are funny!


This one is also a repeat from an earlier post this week. How cute is this? We found him like this – he had crawled under the blankets and tucked himself in.

Let sleeping cats lie (in the bed)

I wish the “no trespassing” sign was just a little bit more clear in this one — it was funny how he stood there for quite a long moment, watching me snap this one with my iPhone. A friend on Flickr noted it would be even funnier if he were posed beside a “No hunting” sign.

no trespassing deer

I took this one at about 10:00 in the morning on Thursday when it was stupidly hot downtown. I think the picture, even though it’s an Instagram snap, captures the stinkin’ hot stillness of the morning. (I also like this view of the Canal, which I have never photographed before. Goes to show you that sometimes when you’re composing a good shot, you should turn around and look the other way in case there’s an equally good or better shot behind you!)

Sultry summer morning on the Rideau Canal

More than half of these photographs were taken with my iPhone, which is indicative of the kind of “snap one on the run” kind of week it has been. And now that the summer solstice is behind us, these sunsets will be creeping earlier and earlier into the day again.

"There is nothing is more musical than a sunset." ~ Claude Debussy

This is the first weekend in a month that I don’t have a portrait session scheduled — gee, I’m going to have to work hard to find something to photograph this weekend. I think I can manage, though! 🙂


It went something like this…

** ring ring **


Hey Universe, it’s DaniGirl calling!

DaniGirl! Always a pleasure to hear from you, friend. What’s new?

Ha, as if you don’t know. Universe, you are a mischevious scamp!

Well, that’s true enough, but what in particular insipres you to say so?

You’re making me a little crazy with the good-news bad-news game you play. Couldn’t we just skip the stress of things falling apart and then things falling in to place to make them okay again and just stay on an even keel for a while? Do we have to do this every time?

Oh, I get it. You’re ticked off about the porch!

Damn right I’m ticked off about the porch. More like devestated – I moped for days when I found out that we’d have to tear up the porch and the garden in front of the house to replace the seeping sewage pipe that runs from the house to the septic tank.

Well, you could look on the bright side. A seeping sewage pipe is a lot easier to deal with than, say, a burst sewage pipe spewing unpleasantness all over your basement.

I know, I know! I am supremely grateful for that. And I’ve found what I hope is a decent contractor who will not only carefully disassemble the porch and dig up the pipe so the plumbers can come and replace it, but he’ll then reassemble the porch and give it the paint job that I’m now really glad we didn’t end up giving it in April like we’d planned.

See, that’s all good news!

But Universe — it’s the porch! When we first fell in love with the house, it was because there was an amazing treehouse in the back and this spectacular porch in the front, and hey lookit that, a really nice house sandwiched in between them. And now the treehouse floor is rotting and the porch — the porch! — needs to be torn up. And as if all that weren’t enough, you know I use the porch as my photo studio. I’m pretty sure nobody ever had to tear up Karsh’s photo studio to replace a damn poop pipe!

Now now, DaniGirl, don’t get yourself into a froth. You seem quite confident that your new contractor friend will put the porch right back together again, and with a fresh coat of paint to boot! The garden will grow back – it’s all good! And speaking of photos, didn’t you like that little gift I sent you under the guise of your monthly sales statement from Getty Images?

Erm, ya, I did kind of cry when I opened my sales statement this month and saw that it was four figures. I can’t believe some ad agency in the UK paid more than $4500 to use this photo of Beloved and Lucas in their advertising campaign. The part about potential use on a billboard has us all snickering. So that does help cover more than half the cost of the poop pipe repair and unexpected porch renovation. Um, thanks for that!

43:365 Beloved and Lucas playing Angry Birds

Watching your reaction was more than worth it, DaniGirl. You were pretty funny, sitting in the parking lot of the boys’ school, bawling your eyes out as you read the statement on your iPhone!

Ya well, you kind of caught me off guard with that one. I made more from the sale of that one photo than I have with the rest of my Getty sales combined! So, um, Universe, at the risk of sounding ungrateful….

Yes, DaniGirl?

Um, would it be possible to ask for one more thing? I’m not trying to be greedy, but… well, you remember when we replaced the furnace in December?

Yes, that was another big bill you paid out this year.

Indeed. I swear, we are rebuilding this house one disaster at a time. It’s like Steve Austin: “We can rebuild it… we have the technology.” Ahem, anyway, remember how the furnace guys found the coil for the air conditioner so full of dog hair that they said they couldn’t clean it, they’d have to replace it? And if they did that, they’d pretty much just have to replace the entire A/C unit? And we looked at the $5K we’d just forked out for the furnace and balked at the idea of spending another $3K on the spot to get a new A/C unit?

Yes, I remember all that. Seemed like a good financial choice at the time.

Ya, we thought so, too. It seemed like a very prudent plan to save a few bucks and do without A/C — in the winter time. Universe, it was bloody unbearable hot in the house yesterday. So if you don’t mind, could you keep the temps down to a nice mild 30C or so for the summer? I don’t mind it hot, but 42C in the humidex is a little much. Seriously, Ottawa was the hottest spot in the whole damn province yesterday!

Hmmm, I’ll see what I can do, DaniGirl.

Or, yanno, if you can’t do that, maybe another one or two of those jaw-dropping statements from Getty? Just, yanno, until we get the house issues under control again? Oh, and please, for the love of all things holy, could you please send a little extra protective vibe when they replace the poop pipe? I can handle the repair to the sewage pipe, but I still live in fear that something bad (and expensive) will happen to that septic tank. Replacing the septic tank would make the poop pipe repairs seem like, well, a drop in a very unpleasant bucket.

I’ll let you know, DaniGirl. You just keep taking those photographs!

Oh I will, Universe. You know I couldn’t stop now even if I wanted. Take care of yourself!

Always a pleasure to hear from you. Until next time, DaniGirl…


It’s hard to believe the orange furry pest that has been called Nero and Buttercup and now Willie has been with us for a year, because didn’t we always have him under our feet and trying to dart through the door? A house with three boys and a dog must have seemed absolutely empty before he came along and stole our hearts.

177:365 Hello kitty

I am grateful to the gods of animal karma that we have been so blessed with gentle-tempered pets. Anyone who knows Katie will agree that she is truly a princess among dogs, and much as I’d never admit it in his presence, Willie is just as sweet. He’s a quirkly little cat, though. We had a suck of a tabby before, an affectionate lump that would start to purr the moment you walked into the room. Willie hardly purrs at all, and he’s not much for cuddling. If he’s been sleeping and you give him a couple of long, gentle strokes, you might get a quiet minute or two of purring, but he’s quite discerning about when and to whom he bestows the honour of a purr. And he does NOT like to cuddle, except when he does, which is usually at 3 am.

291:365 Yawn!

What’s funny is that it’s clearly Katie he wants to cuddle with. He still tries every now and then to snuggle into her furry yellow warmth, and to my ongoing surprise, Katie will have none of it. Willie will drop down beside her as she’s sleeping, pushing himself into her flank, and she will look at us with the same pained expression she gives us when the boys are poking or prodding or (cringe) using her as a step-stool to get on to the sofa — the look that clearly says, “Do you see this? Do you see what I put up with? I get extra dog cookies for tolerating this, right?” before getting up, moving six inches away from the cat, and going back to sleep. They’re cute when they play together, too — Katie is 147 times Willie’s size, but Willie will charge at her from across the room or leap up on his hind legs and try to wrap his forelegs around her neck while digging his teeth into her ruff. Katie bats him across the floor with a gentle paw swipe or sends him rolling by knocking him with the side of her jaw. It’s always fun to watch!

Dog meets cat, Act 6

Willie clearly loves Tristan. He tolerates the rest of us, and is incredibly patient with Lucas carrying him around the house like a baby with his feet in the air, but it is clearly Tristan with whom Willie has bonded. Often as not, he’ll sleep on Tristan’s bed, and will come running at the sound of his master’s voice. I’m pretty sure Willie thinks that the boys are just big hairless littermates.

333:365 Homework is boring

In truth, he’s a very un-cat-like cat. He loves to play fetch, for example. The boys will throw a small sponge ball or other stuffie toy down the hall and Willie will tear off after it, bringing it back as often as not. And oh yes, he does love stuffies. He carries them all over the house and we find them in the strangest places.

263:365 The case of the missing Elmo

While he is playful and has chewed a few things he should have left alone (Beloved’s garden shoes come to mind) in general he’s been very good with his claws (which we decided to leave intact) and his teeth. I’m glad, in fact, that we decided to leave his claws in for another reason. Even though it has been our intention all along that Willie remain an indoor cat, Willie has other ideas on the subject. He’s dying to get outside.

fun with filters!

One day a month or so ago, I was working from home. I heard a banging sound coming from the patio door in my room, but assumed he was just batting at bugs on the screen door. It was only when I went to close all the doors on my way out to pick up the boys at school that I realized what he had been doing is swatting the screen door open with his paws. It took me nearly 15 heart-wrenching minutes to find him creeping through the long grass at the side of the house.

This is why we can't have nice still lifes

We’d given up on trying to keep a collar on him in the winter, as he was taking just a few minutes to shuck himself out of the easy-off ones. I figured if he was going to escape, I’d better get him a proper collar, so I got one with a silver buckle. Which he chewed through the first day. Because mostly, I think he loves to vex me.

A Christmas Story (4 of 4)

He still tries to run out the door between our feet a couple of times a day. We’ve found him outside half a dozen or so times now, when he’s managed to sneak out undetected either with one of the boys or as the dog has come in and out. He doesn’t seem to have made it any further than the edges of our lawn — yet. Mostly because I think he’s a creature of comfort, despite his occassional bouts of wanderlust.

Let sleeping cats lie (in the bed)

He’s a photogenic little fur-ball, isn’t he? Since my first sales statement with Getty Images last October, I’ve sold a cat picture every single month. I’m just waiting for the May statement in the next day or so, wondering if the cat-streak will stay alive!

237:365 Lucas loves kitty

Happy cativersary, Willie. We do love you, you wee orange beastie, you…


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