One of These Veggies is Not Like the Others

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong …
– Words and Music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone –

You will recognize this ‘One of These Things‘ song if you spent any time watching Sesame Street. My photo today is going to demonstrate this song, so go ahead and start humming. First, I’ll explain why I chose these four items – they are roughly cylindrical in shape, and they are all in my kitchen right now.

One of them, however, is clearly different. Have you chosen which one? My pick is the mystery vegetable – the white one that looks a bit like a fat parsnip. But it isn’t a parsnip, and I really don’t know what to do with this newcomer to my kitchen.

There is a disconnect in our house between the food that is purchased and the food that is cooked and served. This is to be expected, I suppose, when the buyer is one person, and the cook is the other.  Most of the time I figure out what to do with the groceries The Car Guy comes home with, but this week he brought home this white root that isn’t a parsnip. Fortunately he remembered  that it is called a Lobok. I’m not sure how well Lobok will fit in with the rest of the food in the kitchen. It is said to be radishy, and that isn’t my favourite flavour.

The banana, however,  could be the thing that isn’t like the others because it is the only one with a sticker on it.  I normally don’t pay any attention to the sticky labels on some fruits, but while I was working with this photo I realized what the label actually says. If I didn’t already like bananas, the sticker would make me feel much more inclined to have a few in a bowl on the counter. Very cheerful.

But what about the spaghetti squash? It is odd man out too, because it is the only one with seeds inside it. I like spaghetti squashes because they are the sort of thing that can sit on the counter for several months and still be as good tasting as the day they were picked. They don’t threaten to expire if they aren’t used within a few days of arriving at my door. The downside to the squash, in my opinion, is that it takes great muscles and a knife the size of a machete to get one open. I have to be feeling particularly brave to tackle a spaghetti squash.

This leaves the carrot. By virtue of the bright orange colour, it could be ‘not like the others’. I’m very fond of a good carrot, particularly because it is very simple to eat. It doesn’t even need to be cooked. Not much waste to it either. Very easy to grow – willing to cosy up to all sorts of other foods without being overbearing, yet willing to stand alone when required.

Now that I’ve spent a bit of time pondering the vegetables and fruits in my kitchen, I’ve come to the conclusion that this Sesame Street song isn’t really very nice. While it is quite appropriate to point out all the wonderful ways that one thing differs from another, it seems very wrong to suggest that these differences mean that something doesn’t belong. I have therefore made a promise to The Car Guy and the Lobok that I will find a way to make this radish wanna-be feel at home until such time as it gets eaten (or dies a natural death in the fridge crisper.)

Seeing Through Windows and Doors

You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.
– C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man –

It wasn’t too hard to find a photo in my archives to demonstrate ‘Through’.  Windows are very good for this sort of thing.  This one is our patio and driveway in the summer through our front door window.

This is the same view through the window today  – snow, thanks to a low pressure system moving in from Idaho into Montana then north into our province. And everyone thinks all the bad weather originates in Canada!

No, I wanted a much more difficult challenge, and for that I would have to use a magic spell. I took two photos, waved my magic mouse over them and uttered “Photoshopis elementis transperantis layerosis!”

photoshop transparent door
The magic spell used to create this transparent door is Photoshopis elementis transperantis layerosis!

Ta Da! You can see right through the closed door of my dishwasher! Yes, I know the view isn’t crystal clear, but dishwashers are notorious for leaving a bit of a soapy film, aren’t they?

If you would like to see how other photographers have interpreted this challenge, click on this link: WordPress Photo Challenge: Through.

Shadow Play – Looking at Photography Differently

If I die, who’s going to take care of my shadow? Or will it return to the night, from whence it came? While I sleep at night I keep my shadow folded neatly in my underwear drawer.
― Jarod Kintz

E.C. at Enjoying Creating has thrown down the gauntlet. She has challenged her faithful followers to ‘Cast your shadow over something and take a photo’. She chose her cat, and because of that she calls her challenge “ShadowCatting”.

I thought this sounded like fun, although two obstacles stood in my path. The first was – no sun. Day after day of clouds and light snow. The second problem – no cat. At least, not one that would lie in the sun on command and wait patiently for me to take a picture. Mooch, our ex-cat that lives next door, wanders over here at least once a day, but he is not inclined to oblige me in any way. (You can read about Mooch in my post, The Cat Compendium.)

The solution, once the sun came out, was to choose an obliging animal. I chose a Moose. Not just any moose, but one I bought in a craft store this past winter.

You know, taking a picture of anything while deliberately casting a shadow on it is intuitively awkward. On a bright sunny day, surrounded by glaring white snow, the object in the shadow almost disappears. So, I took three bracketed photos and attempted to… well, that didn’t work all that well either, so I ended up adjusting my position so that not all of the moose was in the dark. It would be a shame if you couldn’t see his beady little eyes.

So, there you have it. ShadowMoosing. I wonder if it will catch on in the  Shadow Play circles?

There is 3 key things for good photography: the camera, lighting and… photoshop.
– Tyra Banks –

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This Moose was made in Canada by the Rocky Mountain Teddy Bear Co. If you would like to contact them, their email address is donandmillie@shaw.ca

Coyotes, Geese and Flat Stanley Goes to the Zoo

If you feel the urge, don’t be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway?
– Will Rogers

Three little stories in one – encounters with a Coyote (Canis latrans), a Goose (Branta canadensis) and Flat Stanley (Homo sapiens charta plano). I suppose I could write three different posts, but these meetings all happened on the same day, so I’ll deftly wrap them up into one tale. Maybe.

We often see coyotes, off in the distance, in the field behind our house. We have never seen one inside the fence – the fence that is supposed to keep cat eating canines out of our back yard.

So, we were just a bit surprised to see this fellow on our side of the fence, pacing back and forth, looking for a way out. He must have jumped the fence to get into the yard, but he seemed to have forgotten that he would have to jump the fence again in order to regain his freedom. (In all fairness, this coyote could have been female, but this behaviour seemed to me to be more indicative of a young male whose mom had said, “Never, ever jump that fence. A cranky gardener lives in there.”

There are three large gates in the fence, but the coyote was between me and two of the gates. Before I could get the third gate opened, I heard the sproing sound that a chain link fence makes when it has been scaled. When I turned around, the coyote was over the fence, and hightailing it out to the field.

Later in the day we went to the Zoo. Many of the animals there live in habitats that are so large that it is often difficult to see the animals at all.  Not like looking at a coyote in my back yard, for sure!

Like many places in North America, the Zoo has also become a habitat for the Canada Goose. The geese aren’t inmates – they just like the easy living at the zoo.   Rather ironic, don’t you think?

As we were leaving the Zoo, a lady approached me and asked where I got the Zoo button on my lapel. I explained that I had been given it because I had just renewed my Zoo membership.   The lady looked disappointed – she had hoped she could buy a pin to put on the jacket of the ‘Flat Stanley’ she and her grand daughter had brought to the Zoo! (The Flat Stanley Project is a modern version of having a pen pal. It connects children, students or classrooms with other children or classrooms by sending out “flat” visitors, created by the children. Flat Stanley’s travels create the narratives that connect the children.)

I was so excited about meeting a real Flat Stanley, that I forgot to take a picture! But I did give the lady my pin so that Flat Stanley would have a memento of his trip to the Zoo.

Alberta – Remember to Breathe (Video)

I hope you have time to watch this three minute video from Travel Alberta . It is called “Remember to Breathe” and it won the Diamond Award as the best entry in the film and media competition at the International Tourism Fair (ITB) in Berlin. The video is wonderful, though I might be a bit biased because I was born and raised in Alberta.

My Alberta – it is the fields behind our house where moose sometimes amble by and the neighbour’s horse curiously watches.

It is the field across the road where hawks hunt mice and deer feed.

Alberta is the cattle country that bumps up into the Rolling Foothills.

It is the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains that form the backbone of the province.

My Alberta is the Little Lake near our cabin – home of frogs and snakes, and a magnet for little children.

And it is the Sweep of Snow across our back yard each winter.

And they say once you leave you can’t go home.
Well now, I disagree, though at times I might be a rolling stone.
But there’s something so special about the places you know.
Oh, there’s no place like home.
– Colleen Peterson (Song from Work of the Heart, Quartette) –

Spruce Resin – Unusual Drips

Today is a most unusual day, because we have never lived it before; we will never live it again; it is the only day we have.
– William Arthur Ward

36-spruce-tree-sap

Sap (resin) running down the bark of an evergreen tree –  I suppose that isn’t all that unusual.

36-spruce-tree-sap-insect

But what about a blob of spruce tree sap (resin) with an insect (from last fall) clutched in it’s gooey clasp? Now that is unusual!

Why can’t I be different and unusual… like everyone else?
– Vivian Stanshall

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Unusual.

Colours of Water – Aquamarine and Boysenberry

My skin is kind of sort of brownish
Pinkish yellowish white.
My eyes are greyish blueish green,
But I’m told they look orange in the night.
My hair is reddish blondish brown,
But it’s silver when it’s wet.
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.
– Shel Silverstein, Colors-

One of the bloggers I follow said he had a favourite colour – aquamarine with a hint of boysenberry in it.

I had to look both colours up to be sure what they are. Aquamarine – I think that is the official colour that timeshare units are decorated in for the Canadian visitors to Florida.  Boysenberry seems to be quite a regal colour, but because I have never seen a boysenberry, let alone eaten one, I’m not entirely sure this is the colour the blogger was thinking of.

No matter. With a little bit of magic in Photoshop Elements, I came up with a colour that I have named Aquaboyse.

I scoured my photos in order to show aquaboyse at work, but I was not all that successful. It doesn’t seem to be a colour in Mother Nature’s palette.  The closest I could find were four photos of water. The Latin word for water is aqua, hence the word ‘aquamarine’, which must mean sea water;  ‘Aqua pura’ meaning Pure Water; ‘Aqua vitae’ or the Water of Life (alcoholic spirits) and ‘Aqua concus dipporum’  meaning go soak your  head.

MexicoMy first  water photo is at the Xel-Ha Park in Mexico. It is a nature reserve, but also a tourist recreation park. The lagoons are full of fish watching people, and people watching fish. The water is crystal clear and almost aquaboyse in colour!

British Columbia AlbertaThe second photo is a lake at Fairmont Hot Springs in British Columbia. Because it is fed by a creek that flows down from the hot springs above, it stays ice free all winter long. The plants that grow on the bottom of the lake help to give the water a bit of an aquaboyse colour.

Qatar

The third photo are the Dhows in the Doha Harbour in Qatar. The water is the Persian Gulf. There is a colour called Persian Blue, but I think the water looks much more like aquaboyse.

The last photo is a fish tank at The Vancouver Aquarium – a bit too green for aquaboyse, I’m afraid.

And there you have it – a brand new name for a colour.

Slow But Steady Blogging Progress

Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestone.
– Author Unknown –

The Quippery

My presence in the blogging world has gone from complete obscurity to relative anonymity – in 29 months! But, I have finally reached the Milestone of  325 Posts, and for that I think I’ll award myself the Slow but Steady Award. You see, I may blog at Turtle speed, but at least I’m still in the race.  Apparently a significant number of blogs are abandoned within a month or two of being started, which gives them the lifespan of a fruit fly.

I didn’t reach this milestone alone. Many of you have been with me for all or part of the way. I’d like to express my gratitude to you for hanging in there! Amazingly, you come from all over the world. WordPress.com installed a nice World Map on our Stats page, and now I can see where you all live. (Not that I can see your house or anything, but I can see what country you come from.) Many of you are from the United States (red on the map), but Canadian visitors are right up there in numbers. Go Canada! Third spot goes to the United Kingdom, then Australia, Germany, India and the Philippines. After that, there are 48 other countries listed!  I know people in  Qatar, Egypt and Luxembourg, so I expect they are the readers who stop by to visit. But Israel, Nepal, Turkey and Slovenia – I had no idea I had readers from there.

World Map of Reader Stats

Next I’d like to thank all of you WordPress blog owners who take time to click the ‘Like’ button. I appreciate your vote of confidence. I am a big fan of the Like button, and I wish WordPress listed your visits on the Stats Page. I use the Like button often – it tells you that I read your post, and I really can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said by you and the 25 to 100 others who commented already! (I think the ‘Like’ button is a Word Conservation Tool.)

I’d also like to thank all the people who leave Comments. Mags, Lorna, Mark, Amanda, Composer, Steve, Susan, Sylvia, Peg, E.C., WSB, Barb  and so many others stop by regularly to brighten my day. I’ve listed you all on my Links Page!

I’d also like to thank all of you who nominated me for Awards. I’ve rounded you all up and put you on my Awards Page, along with brief bios that I borrowed from you. If I have made any mistakes, let me know!

Last,  but certainly not least, I’d like to thank The Car Guy. After 42 years of being married (to me), he says he is always surprised by what shows up on my blog.  And that makes two of us.

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.
– Susan B. Anthony –

Contrast – New and Old in Doha Qatar

They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?
– Princess Diana –

Qatar

The country of Qatar, in the Middle East, has the highest per capita income in the world – for the people who are Qatari. Large numbers of workers from other countries voluntarily migrate to Qatar as low-skilled labourers and domestic servants, and some subsequently face conditions of involuntary servitude.

This creates a land of immense Contrast. In the harbour along the Corniche, fishermen tie up their wooden Dhows.

Qatar

On the others side of the harbour – large yachts!

Qatar

Local merchants keep shop in concrete buildings.

Qatar blue

Office towers such as this, the Barzan Tower, are a beautiful blend of old world and new world architecture.

Crochet – A 3 Dressed Up As a 9

I don’t think people should be judged by their looks, do you? There is a catchy song by Trooper that confirms the stereotype that men are only interested in women’s looks, and that women will do what it takes to meet a man’s expectations:

You looked a whole lot better to me
From twenty feet away
You’re just a 3 dressed up as a 9 ….
– Trooper –

The Fashion and Beauty Industry have certainly capitalized on the desire of women to be younger, thinner, firmer, smoother…. and if the product can’t actually do what it claims, then the Advertising Industry will find a graphic artist who will make sure that expectations and reality appear to be one and the same. (If you Google ‘Airbrushing Celebrity Before and After’ you’ll see  some excellent examples.)

red and whiteLet me demonstrate how simple it is to alter a photo to make a model ‘more beautiful’. In the photo above, Sondra the Snow Goddess is modelling the latest in scarf wear.

Here is Sondra after a session in Photoshop. Her eyes are more symmetrical, her lips have been plumped up, and her whole body has been elongated. Do you think she looks more ‘beautiful’? The right answer is “No, of course not!” Any other answer is dead wrong.

Perhaps the simplest way to make Sondra’s photo more dramatic, without altering her body, is to add a frame to her photo. If your Blog theme doesn’t add a frame, you can do it yourself before you upload. I use a program called FastStone Image Viewer to add my copyright and a simple frame.

Would you like to make your own Sondra the Snow Goddess? The directions for these Mini Crochet Snowmen are at Cut Out and Keep. I used Crochet Cotton, and though this made a very cute snowman that was only 1.75 inches tall, next time I would use a heavier wool and bigger crochet hook.