Thursday, December 15, 2011

a few words

In the past, I wrote a lot. Maybe I should begin again. And soon.

At long last, we have some rain! This is indeed quite momentous of an occasion, though our area has nowhere near the amount of water needed for drought recovery. Still, the rain brightens my mood.

I love the dreariness of a gray day. I've a tendency to daydream, so the gloom creates the perfect conditions for a bit of inspiration. Methinks, Washington State, or perhaps Oregon, might be the perfect area for one such as me. No matter, time is what eludes me now.

As it is, I must run out into the mist and fetch a member of our clan. Once complete, preparations for a short jaunt on the road will ensue. I look forward to the chaos. I'll be sure to snap a pic or two.

And now, I'm off...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bike Ride and the Sky

Turn off background music here, then come back up.

Sometimes the stress of the days mount to a point the only relief is a lengthy bike ride.

Last weekend needed such an event. And though the ride brought us down familiar paths, somehow things didn't look quite the same.

Perhaps, it is the openness one feels whilst perched atop a two-wheeled pedal-clad transport that magnifies a sense of difference. There is little to protect you from the world's ambiance. You get it all, in your face. The scent and taste of the air. The sounds, rushing engines, their hot breaths shooshing alongside, sticky tires crackling on the pavement. And the sweeter tunes, gentle snapping of windblown leaves. Birds, as they count your presence, with warning for others, as you enter their domain of the natural.

Life's pace slows a bit, focusing sharply on the moment.

My photos seem to capture a feeling of difference, if not oddness, about the day. Odd, though not unpleasant.

On our journey we made a stop at a new place, freshly built. Hydrous at Allen Station had its opening on Saturday. If ever we want to wakeboard by cable, we know where to go.

Pretty cool, this. Though, initially when I'd noticed the new hole being dug in our town, along with the destruction of trees and a patch of nature, I had reservations. A touch of sadness. Still, it is nice to see interesting things, such as this, coming to Allen. Incidentally, the very popular Edge Skate Park is located just across the street from Hydrous.

Fun stuff! Loads of activities for the kiddos around here. And the place just keeps growing.
A peek at Hydrous at Allen Station's pro shop.

We pressed on, making our way a tad deeper into the small swath of "wilderness".

As we have many times before, we stopped to view a place of mystery.
The "Mysterious Spot" as we like to call it.

I don't know why we feel this place is mysterious. There's a strange feeling we get when visiting it. An odd energy if you will. Even so, we are drawn to it. It could be that the spot seems isolated from the rest of the busy town. Maybe the sound of the falling water drowns out the traffic of the nearby Highway 75, making it seem like we are in the middle of nowhere. Or perhaps, it is just the mere age of the Old Stone Dam that has us imagining those who were before us. In any case, we'll likely continue to visit the spot, on occasion, for as long as we live here.
The wee ones in the trailer attached to my bike. The husband, Nikon D200 in hand.

Just up the hill from the apparent isolation is this:
Another new addition, Cabela's. Outdoor stuff, yay!

When Cabela's arrived, there was nothing to do but smile. I love these kinds of stores. It can't be helped.

All the while, the children reminded me we had to stop at a playground. Not just any playground, mind you, though this town has several lovely ones. It must be a particular one not anywhere near the bike trail we were on. So, off we went.

Past the high school and the, quite enormous-looking, future football stadium.
Allen Eagles Stadium currently under construction.
I can't help but marvel at the size of this thing. Allen High School in its entirety is a thing to behold.

Rolling on, we finally made it to "the one".
The playground of choice for the day.

A visit to the store followed, for snacks and whatnot. Else the ride would've been incomplete.

That day, Saturday, a wrap.

Sunday came, and so did rain. To be sure, there was celebration. The extreme summer heat and drought had been taking a toll on our psyche. At last, a break.

After the hard work of the previous weekend, this one was much appreciated.

Peaceful and sweet.
Frequent backyard visitor.

Photos by Shauna Chan. Nikon D80, with circular polarizer and in-camera red filter for B&W photos.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Plumbing Nightmare: Our Latest Fix Project

For a while now, we've known about a wee little problem with a certain section of plumbing in our house. We tried to overlook the issue, though quite recently, we had no choice but to pay it mind. All whilst trying not to pay much of anything else!

Days ago, the kitchen sink did its tri-monthly clog-up. A simple fix, one might think. Luckily there is a proper pipe cleanout located just outside. This cleanout we left open long enough to finish some dishes and laundry, since the clothes washer in the garage was also affected. Leaving the cleanout open gave the water a better place to go. In the yard, and not in the house or garage. Perhaps, it isn't acceptable to let greywater go all over the backyard, though it seems such a waste not to do just that! Most of it flowed neatly into a small garden area. Great for watering the plants during this horrid drought we're having.

Later, much later, the husband got out the rusty ol' pipe snake and set to work. We both worked at it. It wouldn't budge. The clog, that is. I'm not even sure we got to the clog. A nice electric drain auger would have come in handy at about that time. You know the kind. The one the plumber brings that gets through the clog in less than 30 minutes. Then you get to pay nearly 300 bucks for the thrill of seeing water draining freely from your sink. Yep, that would have been handy. But we wanted to save money and use the one with no power behind it, with no reel to wind it up on, to keep it organized. Sure we could have rented a decent auger, but who needs it? Ha! If a person wants to save a couple hundred dollars to clear fairly simple clogs, I'd have to recommend renting either an electric auger or at least one that operates manually on a reel. Home Depot rents drain augers, among other handy tools. Kudos to the Depot.
Simple pipe snake stored in a 5 gallon bucket.

After many tiring hours, what seemed like days, of plugging away at the pipe in the hot of the day, we finally punched through! Thrilled we were. Jubilant. High-fiving and all that.

Yes, the auger made it through a blockage of some sort. But, the drain still would not drain. A mystery.

Now, after some past experience with this particular drain line, a clog usually would cause water to seep up through cracks in the concrete slab in the garage. I know, it's a pretty horrific thing, because that's a sign of a break in the pipe somewhere under the house. And normally, after we have cleared the clog, water would no longer seep through the cracks. Buying us some time, helping us to avoid having to pay thousands of dollars for someone to break the concrete and fix the broken pipe. Normally, the water stays out, except for this last time.

It was time to get serious, take action.

First, we dug a hole outside the garage near where we knew the kitchen drain line and washing machine drain line both entered the main line. The soil was very moist. I hoped the break could be accessed from outside so we dug deeper; the soil became sloppy stinky black mud. That was a good sign we were in the right area. We ran some water through the drain line to see where the water came from. Sadly, the water did not bubble up through an easily accessed pipe in the ground. Nope, instead, it spewed from somewhere in the foundation. Still, at least we knew the general location.

Chisel time. At this, I laugh.
Hammer and assorted chisels with strike guards. Nice, no?

Okay, here's what not to do. Don't go expecting a little hand chisel and hammer to break through several inches of a concrete foundation quickly. It's sort of like trying to dig your way out of prison with a spoon. At least, that's what I felt like I was doing. Nope, instead, just forgo that chisel, at least until you need to chip around delicate pipes and whatnot. We spent a little, less than $100, and rented a jackhammer from Home Depot for 24 hours, since we weren't sure how much pipe was damaged or how much concrete we'd need to break.

I managed to lift the jackhammer, though its 70 pound weight seemed a bit difficult to control. I didn't even want to think about actually turning it on! So to save the rest of the house from damage, the husband operated the machine.
Jackhammer handywork, whilst wee concrete chisel looks on.

Breaking concrete with a jackhammer makes life much easier. Because we had already chiseled out a 4-inch hole into the foundation using the concrete chisel, it wasn't difficult creating a starting point for the heavy machinery. I've read elsewhere, it's a good idea to score the concrete with a circular saw that has a diamond blade on it. It creates a starting point for a jackhammer or even a chisel. In any case, use caution. Debris needs to be cleaned out of the hole periodically to avoid having concrete projectiles flying about no matter which method is used. And a jackhammer is loud and cumbersome. One should use proper safety gear when operating it. The job is noisy and it is dirty. But it can be done. If we can do it . . . well, you know the rest. Ha! Ha!

Our first discovery, an expected pipe. This pipe runs from the water heater, which is actually quite a distance away. I knew it was there, under the concrete, because the open end of it sticks out of the foundation on the side of the house. The other end of it is connected to the water heater pressure relief valve. What I didn't expect was that it would be smashed nearly flat. I was certain this had happened during the building of the house, since the jackhammer didn't have contact with it. The pipe is hard copper. Whatever hit it must have been big! This would need to be repaired as well. What a neat discovery.
Smashed hard copper pipe running from hot water heater temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve.

Much digging and removing of broken concrete and stinky, sticky black mud went on. Eventually, we managed to tunnel through from the inside of the garage to the outside. We found the drain pipe in question! And we found exactly where the break was. Still encased in concrete.

Out came the chisel. With surgical precision the 2 inch broken cast iron pipe was at last exposed! It's good to be careful with cast iron. In some cases it may be very fragile and thin. One wouldn't want to do further unnecessary damage.
The culprit!

Now, I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but that is no joint just below the big crack. Nope, that is a cast iron pipe completely snapped in two! The separation is uneven which is most likely caused by the severe shifting of the foundation. This, of course, is what happens to homes in the northern parts of Texas. Blame it on the soil, or clay, that swells in the rain and shrinks tremendously in times of drought.

How to fix it? Decisions, decisions.

I suppose one could have the cast iron replaced. I've no idea the cost for such a repair, though I've heard it is a bit high. I thought of replacing it with PVC pipe. This may have been a good option, however, this particular pipe is part of the stack that runs up through the roof. I'm not sure we should be cutting out big portions of the base of such a heavy cast iron stack! We opted for what may be a temporary fix, but one that seems to work pretty well for now.

The Fernco flexible coupling is made for applications such as this. It is a flexible, yet durable, rubber sleeve that stands up to the elements and even drain cleaning chemicals. There is also a Fernco shielded coupling, which is said to be stronger. It is similar to the flexible coupler, though it includes a metal shield around it. We weren't able to use the shielded coupler due to the limited space we had to work in and due to the bend in the pipe.

To apply the Fernco flexible coupler, about an inch or so of pipe had to be cut away with a diamond grit blade on the sawzall. Cutting cast iron is no easy task. It's thick and our pipe was in good condition despite the break, not as fragile as we'd expected. We used a sawzall, which took some time, but it worked well. Others recommend using a diamond blade on a grinder. I've even read that one fellow used a chisel, which, he said, took forever!

It was not easy to fit the sleeve over the two pieces of pipe. Although, with two people working at it, one inside the garage and one out, we managed to get the coupler in place, strapped, tightened. The next step was to test for leaks.
2" Flexible Fernco coupler.

We turned the water on. No leaks. Hurrah! But, the drain was still clogged!

Yes, it goes on.

You see, before we patched up the broken pipe, we ran the snake through it, we thought pretty far. Apparently, we didn't go far enough. But there was no way either of us wanted to maneuver that Fernco coupler again. So up on the house the husband went with the snake.

No dice.

Using the cleanout by the kitchen didn't work, the snake was too short. There were no other cleanouts available, except for the mangled mess of drain pipe and vent for the washing machine. Sigh. I was afraid of that.

Alright, let me explain. Since the time we've lived here, I have not understood why the washing machine plumbing is the way it is. I'm not an expert, having only limited plumbing experience, but even a plumber once said he didn't understand why it was set up the way it is. First, it is 1 1/2 inch PVC attached to the cast iron vent stack at the base. Next, there is a short straight length of PVC attached to the trap (the bend created to block sewer gases). After all that the pipe goes straight up to what I believe is a cleanout. And once again, the pipe bends tightly and goes straight up, with an opening for the washing machine to drain into, after which it continues on to form another vent inside the garage. I don't know why all the bends are necessary. I know for certain the "cleanout" is useless, the bend there is much too tight. And I wonder if the added vent is superfluous.

I truly thought about rebuilding the plumbing for the washing machine drain. I really wanted a good cleanout. Time was slipping away; the project needed to be complete soon!

I opted for a simpler approach. Leaving most of the PVC in place, I thought it best to make a cut with the sawzall right before it entered the cast iron line. This would leave room for the pipe snake to do its work. The added bonus, I could put a Fernco coupler there. If there is a clogged line in the future, we can remove the Fernco coupler and just clean it out.

Off to Home Depot for the gazillionth time the husband went to get the flexible coupler and PVC parts if necessary.

Whilst he was away, I patched the 3/4" hard copper pipe that had been smashed using a copper pipe cutting tool, sandpaper to clean the copper, a torch, flux, silver solder, 3/4" hard copper pipe cut to length and 3/4" copper couplings. I cut the existing copper line in smooth places to insure a good fit, cleaned surfaces to be joined with the sandpaper, dry fit the pieces together, then took them apart to apply flux to the surfaces to be joined. After that, I put the pieces together, heated the joints with the torch, then applied the silver solder, allowing it to be drawn into the joint.

Smashed 3/4" hard copper pipe repair.

Almost done!

I made room for the pipe snake and worked to clean out the pipe. It took a while. With loads of persistence and a great length of the pipe snake, I broke through the blockage. Just to be sure, I turned on the water in the kitchen. If the blockage was cleared, no water should come up through the cleanout. Luckily, it didn't. Just to be sure, I went out to the main cleanout near the road to see if the water was running through and out to the city sewer line.

Main cleanout.

Success! Everything was running smoothly. No mud, no debris, just clear water running through.

What a relief.

When all was done, we buttoned up the pipe with the Fernco.
Note: It was impossible to unscrew the threaded PVC fitting from the cast iron. The PVC broke off at the fitting, thus we sheared it flush with the cast iron. To reattach the PVC to the cast iron, we used a Fernco coupler that went from a 1 1/2 inch on one side to 2 inch on the other.
Black pipe(r) is the cast iron stack. Ferno coupler 1 1/2" to 2" joins PVC to cast iron at cast iron fitting.

The only thing left to do is patch up that gaping hole in the concrete.

In the end, I'd say this fix may have saved us a bundle, for now anyway. I'll keep my eyes on it and I'll keep you posted!

Friday, July 15, 2011

mid-summer blue

July, already. And nearing its end, no less.

The weeks are speeding by mysteriously, silently. I've only just noticed it.

No. The noticing started a day or so ago, when the sky in the day was the deepest of blue. Not just any blue. The scarce puffs of clouds were small chips of snowy bergs floating in a bottomless sea.

At the time, whilst marveling at the crisp clarity of the sky, I thought about taking a picture. Over the years, one of my favorite subjects to capture is cloud structure or simply the relationship a cloud has to the sun, or to the blue. But no. I did not rush to get the camera. I must have thought there was still time.

The next day presented itself in similar fashion. The sky an incredibly clear deep blue. Only a few small clouds for contrast. Still, I did not have camera in hand. So unlike me. But there it is.

What's been occupying my mind, creating a deficiency of attention, are the inside things. Computer work. And the sudden silly desire to acquire audio recording equipment. Techno-ADD, again. Since, after all, it's been hot outside. Really hot. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This, for what seems like weeks. No rain to speak of. The grass is crunchy. The earth cracked, parched, baked. The leaves on the trees are beginning to show stress, curling, turning brown around the edges.

For this, we stay inside. There is little to be done in the hot.

At the beginning of summer, we busied ourselves with travel and swam a lot. It became nearly a daily event, the swimming. We tried to take a break from it and go for bike rides instead. But the heat sapped the energy, and the joy we'd normally find from such journeys. The crystal water of the pool was indeed much more inviting. The laze of an evening spent floating belly-up to the sky, waiting for the first stars to appear, pure bliss.

And then, it happened... The pool filter pump broke! And rather unceremoniously at that.

I found the water still, one day, the pump soundless. My job (one I've chosen) is to maintain the more than 4,000 gallon pool. And being a somewhat handy person, I grabbed the tools, unhooked the filter and proceeded to take the machine apart, hoping the fix would be easy.

But no. The plastic impeller had snapped in two. The thin plastic covering the magnet had worn away, the magnet corroded. These things could not be replaced on this particular pump. The model being somewhat cheaply made. Wish I had known sooner.

It would take a week to get a new filter pump. I'd become so addicted to our daily swim. The ritual of it. Not having to think too much about what would entertain the day. A week seemed near forever.

Though in that time, that small speck of time within the year, I could see the summer's haste to be over. Suddenly noticing it being mid-July. August will soon arrive. And with it, school will begin. For my youngest daughter this is all new.

And there it is. The root of it all. The youngest daughter, kindergarten. And in a year our little boy will follow. Before we know, the eldest daughter will graduate high school.

My mind is spinning. The time has gone so quickly. Though I'm certain I've done my best to relish each day. To squeeze every drop of simply being. Which, oddly, only trebled time's speed even more.

It happens on occasion. The sharp realization. That splash of ice water on the face forcing awareness of the truth. These 100 degree days only seem to last longer. Platinum bright, thick, syrupy and languid as they are.

Yet here time is. Rushing along just the same.

I suppose it's us, the grown-ups, willfully miring ourselves in some sameness. Stuck in a limbo, not moving forward. Not changing. Pleasantly fooling ourselves with pattern.

Whatever. It was fun.

Now it's time to get down to business. But don't forget the camera!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2 hours north

It was Saturday, early afternoon. A blue funk had fallen over the household.

With funds having run dry from our A-Kon adventure the weekend prior, our exuberance had begun to wane. The hot arid wind blowing across the treetops didn't help much either. A dusty atmosphere, thick on our tongues. The sun, white hot. The sky, platinum. The heat measuring 103 Fahrenheit.

I could feel the tension. Something had to be done to lift the heaviness from our souls. There was only one refreshment that could ease our unpleasant state. Road trip!

And so, with renewed giddiness, we packed hastily those things one might need for the road. And tossed in the camping gear, just in case.
Scarcely a cloud to be found.

As we rolled along the glaring highway, I scanned the sky. Incredibly bright it was. Though, off in the distance I could see a small tower of clouds forming. Funny, I mused. Wouldn't it be interesting if that was developing into a storm directly over our destination spot? Then I cursed myself for forgetting to bring the polarizer lens for my camera, to help cut the glare of the road a bit. And to help bring out the definition of that distant cloud.

When sans polarizer, I often resort to shooting black and white photos selecting the in-camera red filter option. It helps some, but still. Frustrating a skoche.

The road unfolded, we neared the border, and there it was. The cloud formation, growing taller, flattening out around the edges. And yes, it appeared to be very near our goal area of interest. I had to consult the weather radar to be sure. Yes, there it was, the only severe thunderstorm on the map! Sitting on top of the highway we traveled.

Now this might sound tragic. After all, this was a lake-swimming overnight-camping trip of sorts we had planned. Sort of. One might think rain might ruin such an occasion. But no, my excitement only grew. We'd not seen rain in what seemed like forever! We had to celebrate the moment.
Ominous, no?

As we came through then around the storm to its northern side, I noticed the clouds somewhat striated in the tower. Perhaps there was some rotation there. I later learned a small tornado touched down in an area we had just driven through. Perhaps this photo is of that very storm system.

No matter. Because whatever rain that may have fallen, or lightning that crashed to the ground, was well to the south and east of the lake. Our camping spot.

It was getting late in the day. Quickly we searched for a good place to set up the tent. The choices were few, as it was Father's Day weekend. Though we did manage to make our home for the night near the lake's edge. Good for swimming.

It took us no time to get the tent ready. With sweat pouring down our faces, it was time for a swim. And so we did. The little ones enjoyed riding the small waves made by the occasional boat passing by. The sandy beach was a pleasure as well. Even the eldest daughter enjoyed the cool water.

Time for a snack. Back to camp we went.

"Take my picture by the grass!" he said.


The night fell fast upon us, but we were not yet through. Though the wind was a bit stiff, a fair fire had to be built. Even now we wonder if it were a wise decision. The land was parched. Grass browned in places. We were very careful to mind the flames and sparks.

A useful tip for those who like to pack lightly, or for those who tend to forget an important item like a lantern...

Make yourself a handy sack lantern! Here I have used a small flashlight, a Wal-Mart sack, and a roll of paper towels. Just stick the flashlight in the paper towel roll, puff up the sack a bit and put it over the light. The glow is just bright enough to see what you're doing. Cozy.

Finally exhausted, we all five crawled into the tent. Sleeping was not easy. The heat and humidity made for an uncomfortable time of it. The youngest daughter and I stayed awake most of the night. We made good use of our time watching a raccoon scavenge around picnic tables. Sara remarked that she'd not seen a raccoon like that before. I suspect she thought they'd be a bit more cartoonish and friendly looking. Even still, she admitted he was sort of cute.

The wind picked up, yet it offered no cooling relief. It only blew the tent around wildly and teased that it might refresh us. The moon rose and shown itself brightly through the fabric walls. Lovely. I found myself gazing at it for a good part of the night. And then, it was over. The sun began to cast pink on the clouds.

A quick bite to eat and down the tent came. We wasted no time. The stifling hot of day would soon return. Laughing and silly, homeward bound we were. Ah, another successful trip on the road. I look forward to the next one!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pleasant Chaos--A-Kon 22

Turn background music off here, then come back up! (^.^)/

It has been little more than a week since A-Kon 22 and already the dates are set for A-Kon 23.

Where to begin?

First, in honor of the event, I'm listening to Ephixa's Lost Woods Dubstep Remix. I can not tell you how many times I heard this at the convention. And so, it has found a sunny place in my mind.

There, the mood is set.

What is A-Kon? It is a 3-day event of mad fun! Where you will find loads of anime-related information. You can meet people in the gaming industry. Artists. There are educational panels on a variety of anime topics. One can play games. Many people cosplay favorite characters. If you like, you can be in a cosplay skit. Also, you'll find loads of anime-based merch. There are rave dances, an abundance of glow! And the concerts... my favorite! This year two Japanese bands! That alone is worth the cost of registration. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One might say our family had been preparing for the convention for nearly a year. Costumes were planned. We pre-registered months in advance. It's much cheaper that way. And we reserved our hotel room well in advance. Rooms go fast!

And so, off we went early Friday, the first day. Truck packed with food, frocks and full of excitement.

When we arrived, parking was close to impossible. And a touch pricey. It was to be expected. A-Kon is a huge event. And well, it is Dallas.

After finding a place, far, far away..... We managed to get the hotel room and make the trek to the infamous pre-reg line. A very long maze-like line that encircled the entire room. And that room is very large. Though, because we brought our young children with us, A-Kon staff took pity on us and placed us near the very front of the line. Nice! This occurred more than once throughout the convention, I might add. Benefits. Haha! Also, it is worth noting, small children are very much welcome at the event. There are very few exceptions regarding this.

We received our pre-reg badges and moved on to the madness.

Here is just a glimpse of us and some of what we saw.

Yes, I dressed up as something. Though the only photo I have of the ensemble is blurry! This, because everyone was in a tremendous hurry to hit the convention floors. I snapped the photo with kids under foot, their way out the door. Did I mention it was hot?! Whew!

My costume, in the beginning, was to resemble Riese, from the steampunk series of that name. It wound up being a mish-mash of pieces, though still very much steampunk. I even made my own aged-look brassy-like goggles. I do have the exact ammo belt Riese has. I'm very proud of that. Actually, in our household, we have two! Husband sported one of them, complete with snacks, cellphone and cash. Mine contained a brass nautical compass. Handy, no doubt.

The eldest daughter and her friend dressed as popular anime characters and had many photos taken of them. My little man chose to be a ninja. Little daughter, opted for Sailor Moon. Her ensemble was a last minute decision and put together rather quickly out of what was on hand. She received many compliments and relished it every bit.

And so, we went with the flow. The huge crowd, like a river winding through large rooms and small corridors.

The big event on Friday, the concert. Two Japanese bands. Blood Stain Child and D for the first time in the U.S. What a privilege it was to see them!

And now, I have learned what visual kei is. Men dressed in feminine clothing with a full face of makeup can be very appealing and oddly quite masculine.

The interesting thing is they are indeed beautiful to look at, though their music is very metal and hard. A fascinating contradiction. I was transfixed and instantly a fan of both groups. Though D is particularly seductive.

The voices of Blood Stain Child clash, but in a vibrant harmonious way. The harshness of Ryo's voice is the edge. The beautiful Sophia's sweet melodious voice is like light winding through the rubble.

Then there is D. The visually stunning D. Their performance took my breath away. They instantly commanded the stage and my attention was fixed. And though the songs are sung in Japanese language I do not know, the beautiful voice of Asagi is so full of emotion, I was pulled into understanding. I could go on and on. But, I'll spare you the gush and keep the sweet memory to myself. Let's just say, the audience was very much a part of the journey. And it was lovely.

My only regret, the one thing I'm very sad about missing was the autograph sessions with both bands. We may never see the groups again, I realize. Every opportunity to savor the experience must be taken. And I missed it! Never again, I vow. Next year will be different.

As for the rest of the convention...
The rave, my second favorite thing to attend. I've always loved dance music. And glow sticks! The two combined, well, it is almost a heaven.

There were so many events. To be sure, I missed many of them. And, as the year before, I have learned what I overlooked and pledge to not miss so much!

In a nutshell, that is my experience. I suppose one can never get too old for such random fun. \(^.^)/

Monday, June 20, 2011

summer wind

Outside the window, I see the limbs and leaves of the trees dance in a dry hot wind.

It is summer. It has made itself known, leaving its mark in the cracks of the parched earth. The sun, relentlessly piercing through a dusty haze, baking the streets, sidewalks and lawns.

You can taste the air. Powdery on the tongue, stinging the throat. What moisture the heat doesn't steal away, the wind strips.

It is said we may get a spot of rain tomorrow, though I'll not hold my breath waiting. No, in the meantime, I'll do my best to find appreciation for the extreme warmth.

Indeed, there are moments when I feel the scorch of sun on my face and shoulders and relish it. Perhaps, it is because it reminds there is a freedom about summer. It is the time we skimp on clothing and travel to random places. And, we swim.

Such a free feeling, floating in the sweet coolness of a pool or lake.

It seems the summer has only begun, yet we've managed at least a couple of adventures already.

One such was a trip to Dallas for the three-day affair, A-Kon 22. I almost think this particular subject requires a separate post! There is too much to mention, I can scarcely think. So, I'll save it for later.

Shortly after the A-Kon convention ended, the itch to venture the roadways hit. On the spur, and almost too late in the day, we quickly packed the truck and pointed north, making way to the closest lake we're most fond of. The journey would take us more than 2 hours, though not unpleasant, the drive is part of the allure. A complete departure from the seductive madness and thrill of A-kon.
It was hot, 103ºF! In my haste, I'd forgotten my polarizer lens, so the glare is evident.

This subject, too, will require more attention than I am able to give it at the moment. Tonight, maybe, when there are less pressing matters to tend to.

For now, I'll consider taking the children out in the hot for a swim~~~

Monday, April 11, 2011


There's a storm tonight. It is welcome.
The dryness of these early days of spring can surely use relief.

Before the roiling dark clouds loomed, photos of the season's first blooms had to be taken. These blooms will no doubt be beaten and perhaps shattered by the heavy rain and wind.

I can hear the rumble of thunder, the furious song of the chimes.
The rain has come at last.

Time to take a peek and breathe in the freshness...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

End of March

The end of March is near. It comes too soon, it seems.

When it arrives, and even before, thoughts of someone important wash through my mind, filling the quiet corners. A shimmering melancholy.

It matters little how much space one puts between themselves and a place of sadness. Nor does time matter, the sorrow sits in the pit of one's soul. Lingering...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Laundry and the Moon

Tonight, I'm up late. Nothing new, really. The washing machine is cycling, sans clothes. That's the thing about newfangled front-load machines, they need to be... washed.

It's my own doing. I'd forgotten a blanket was still in there a day or so ago. Yes, that long. And the whole machine became a bit, shall we say, musty. So, the machine needed a bleach bath. It takes a while. An hour or so.

I'd like to blame this on the moon. The "Supermoon", that is.

If it hadn't been for the building excitement of that moon, so-called, super, I'd have remembered that blanket, to be sure. As it was, though, a little road trip was in order. To celebrate the moon o' course. The import of the soggy blanket lost.

Yes, I took a camera. A drive without a camera is sort of pointless. Especially when the moon in its superness is involved. But because we started the drive late, as is often the case, we were no where near a good picture-taking place. The moon, pinkish-purple and oddly shaped, broke the horizon before the truck could find a decent exit.

Aiyaaa... the gas prices!

Nevertheless, pictures from the shotgun side were taken! At 70 miles per hour, no less. Now that in itself is sort of super, no?

Orangish spot, the Supermoon breaks the horizon... 70mph!

Admittedly, they aren't the best pictures. Seventy miles per hour... through a dirty window... shotgun side.

As for the superiority of the moon. Well, the husband was not so impressed, claiming this moon was "faux super". He'd seen a truly large moon years ago. As for me, maybe it was more like Supermoon in its alter ego--like the Clark Kent of Supermoons. Because, after all, it is the moon and has no need to prove itself or be overly flashy. It's the moon! And I like it, no matter.

So, the trip was worth it. Bad pics, smelly wet blanket in the machine, and all. The moment was made special for whatever reason, big moon or no.

Thanks Buddy!

Cheers to the Supermoon for getting this family in one place at the same time!


And when clouds cover the lights in the sky, there is always time for a little artistic photography of the seemingly mundane.

Art o' the dark road...


Luckily, I'm easily amused, sort of low-maintenance. Unlike the newfangled washing machine.

At last! It's clean. Time to do the laundry...