Monday, December 28, 2009


Hoping everyone out in Blog-Land had a very Merry Christmas! As I have for the last couple years I went to Lake City/Branford to visit my Aunt and her family. But only after enjoying some webcam family time on Christmas Eve. For the last several years, now that we are all adults, we've drawn names. We play games, have trivia questions, and just have a good time chatting. When my niece was younger they used to drive to Maine for Christmas Day, so we always celebrated at our house on Christmas Eve. When they stopped going "up Nawth" we've kept up our end of the tradition. Gives you that extra day to relax, or spend time visiting.
It's certainly a little more challenging over the webcam, but we manage ok. So, without further ado here are some of my favorite holiday shots, in collage format to save space.

Above are several treats that I made to hand out to co-workers, and at the top is me, enjoying my morning coffee on Christmas Day.
To the right are a couple pictures of my Aunt's Norman Rockwell Stockbridge Village Set. Only part of the set is out, as she has limited space for it. I was able to capture this shot of a pretty male cardinal in her backyard too! The female stayed pretty well hidden, but I did see her. At top right is probably my favorite shot of all of them. My "happy accident" photo. :) At bottom left is my breakfast and my uncle's father.

It's been overcast and cold for the last several days. In this last group of photos we went for a drive the day after Christmas to several local springs, the water was very high in spots, so got some neat pics. Over by the Suwannee River we saw a tree full of turkey vultures, but the closer I got they all flew away. Still cool.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year..

I put my Christmas Tree up last weekend, and it doesn't look too bad. I really need to remember to send some of my own ornaments to myself when I go back home. I like to keep it simple but so far I have only a few round (plastic) balls and some plastic twisty icicles. No glass here. At least not on the tree. One string of white lights, and a huge red bow for a topper.  I wish I could have a real tree, but I figure Mr Scout would be far too willing to try to climb it. He already tries to eat the needles off this one when he's feeling feisty. If I want to smell a pine tree, I just burn a nice Yankee Candle, and it's good enough for me!!

I've been playing the Christmas music, and trying to just enjoy the quiet time when I'm NOT at work. I joined a friend and her church to sing carols at a local nursing home, and it was a blast. Some of them never get any visitors, and especially at this time of the year that's so sad. We handed out candy canes and wished them all a Merry Christmas. Many of the residents sang along, when they could, and were very appreciative of us visiting.

Here are a couple photos of the tree. Ignore the junk behind it, I had to tear a few containers apart to find all my stuff. Today I've been wrapping presents and will be sending those off this week. It's a great day to be inside: it's pouring out, and just a very blah day. Once I'm done wrapping, I want to get some scrapping done. been too long, and since I cleaned off the table it's ready to be made messy again!

Hoping everyone has time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family!

Monday, December 07, 2009

2009 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert

The TSO concert was just awesome. Every year it just grows and grows, in popularity, and how far they go with the pyro, lights, lazers, and most of all, the talent involved. Last year I only had my camera phone, and I still can't get them from the camera to the computer. I can still look at them, though. The band is very lenient with cameras, but I only brought my point & shoot and the little Bean as a back-up. If you go to YouTube, you will find plenty of video footage as well. This year was my 8th time seeing them in 9 years, starting way back in 2001. I curse the year 2006, when our company moved us from TX to FL over the  long Thanksgiving weekend. That is a travesty in its own right. Back then they always played FL in very early November and they had already passed through when I got here.
This year out came the camera, and while a friend & I enjoyed the sights and sounds, I happily clicked away. No flash, and not many close-ups, except for a few lucky captures. Really, you need the wide angle to see the whole spectacle. Maybe one day I'll sit up close, but mostly I'm enjoying watching the story unfold, with the added bonus of not having to crane my neck to see the stage. First group of pics: the stunning Anna Phoebe on electric (pink!) violin. And 2 regular shots of the stage, featuring lots of fire and lights.
For goodies I picked up a T-shirt, a beanie cap and of course the tour program for signing. Towards the end of the show Chris Caffery and Anna climb up onto a platform, get properly harnessed in and go for a little ride. This was the first year it was suspended from the ceiling instead of being raised from underneath. This was the only *good* close shot I got. Alex Skolnick on guitar. I love this  shot!!
This is another pic I got of Alex from in the signing line with the little Argus Bean camera. After we got our stuff signed we made our way down to the downtown area with the Landing Mall and find something open so we could get some supper...Chicago Pizza was the only decent place open, so we pigged out, and headed home to get some rest for our day of shopping on Friday. We went to the St John's Town Center, had lunch and margaritas at the Cheesecake Factory, hit up some of the big stores, got a few presents for me and others. Then it started to rain, so back home we went...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The last week or so....

...Give or take a couple of days. Thanksgiving with the family was postponed slightly, so that my aunt could get over a nasty cold. So, on Thanksgiving I went for a ride up to Folkston, GA to check out the Folkston Funnel and get a few more pics of the area. I also managed to get lost in the Okeefenokee Swamp. Yeah, THAT was fun. Every. single. road. led to a locked gate. I turned the car around umpteen times, and went down some pretty narrow and overgrown roads. Finally, I found my way back to the road I came in by, and it was a private drive! The GPS told me that was the way in, too. Hmmmm.  On my way out I apologized, and she was very nice about it. Next time I go there, I will be sure to find a legal entrance! Talk about an adventure, and I didn't even get to see any 'gators. I did see a lot of turkey vultures circling over me, waiting... :)

On Friday I did a little "black friday" shopping. Some for me, some for others. Once the crowds got to be too much for me, I was done. Back home to relax, and pack a bag for the trip out to my aunt & uncle's. They live in the Lake City area, so I left about 7:30am saturday morning. I always stop at Starbucks on the way out, and since that particular morning was only in the upper 30's I got a yummy peppermint mocha. In between helping with table setting and making coffee I hung out in the backyard taking pics, and chatted with my aunt on the deck.
Soon, my cousin & her family arrived as well as my uncle's father, and we all settled in to eat. Had all the usual foods, and lots of dessert as well. It was delicious! On Sunday we had turkey sandwiches and soup. After lunch a bunch of us went for a short walk.
They also surprised me with an early birthday cake and gift! Sweet!! :)  Finally I knew it was time to head home, since I had get up for work on Monday morning...
Next up will be pics from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert I went to this past Thursday night... :)