Tuesday, August 31, 2010


If you're friends with me on Facebook, you've no doubt been witness to my recent exultations about my newest twitter followers, @ErnestoRiley and @_erinheatherton. The first is a pseudonym for Matt Davis, who plays Alaric Salzman on The Vampire Diaries. The second is an actress and Victoria's Secret model, who presumably found me via Ernesto. (Find me at @MsRantyPants)

Despite being 35 and seriously too old for such things, I am unabashed to admit that I am quite giddy about being followed by two celebs. I mean, putting this in context: I'm a suburban working mom living in (groan) Sacraghetto; this is about as exciting as it gets these days. Long gone are my semi-glamorous stints on teen celebrity magazines in London and Los Angeles or managing special events in the OC. I'm all growed-up and responsible now, folks. (Gag.)

But yet, here I am with a direct line into the world of teen tv shows (and a VAMPIRE show at that!) via my twitter feed. Now, when I write something they SEE IT. That's right. People who are people (or vampires) and who know other people who are people (and maybe also vampires), are reading my daily drivel. It's just a little intoxicating. And paralyzing. I mean, surely they will eventually realize that my life is about as interesting and compelling as watching a dog shit in the park, and they will promptly unfollow me or, worse still, block me entirely, thus cutting me off from future notoriety in celeb circles. How does Hubby and me singing and dancing in the aisle of Trader Joe's to starve-off a toddler tantrum, compete with sucking fake blood out of a super hot dude or chick? I mean, it just doesn't.

Of course, my giddiness is completely nerdworthy. Deep down, like all 35-going-on-14 year olds, I harbor some thoroughly ridiculous notion that my tweets will be sooooooooo witty that they will connect me with talent agents in Hollywood who will make me famous. God knows exactly what for because I've turned out to be a jack of all trades and master of none in this life but, you know, this is my fantasy notion, I get to skim over the inconvenient details. And, it is without a doubt that, in this dream reality of mine, I will hob-nob with hot men who play vampires (I'm following @iansomerholder but I'm guessing he's busy because he hasn't joined the *rush* to follow me yet) and hide my face from TMZ as I duck out of some unmarked private club at 3am.

Ahem. Yes, Quite.

Alright, we all know I go to bed at 10pm. Like I said: inconvenient truths.

Undoubtedly, it is likely that Matt and Erin will read this blog (because I post links on twitter) and block me by morning.

In other news...

I have been finding a lot of other really cool mommies-who-blog-and-take-great-photos blogs. Apparently I am neither unique or trailblazing (there goes those twitter followers for sure this time). It seems there are almost literally millions of talented mommy writers and photographers who, through the powers of Social Networking, have become quite infamous in their own right. And yes, I'm sure late to the party on this one too.

As I find these cool sites, I'm adding them to my blogroll on the right but I will endeavor to talk about one or two of them on an occasional basis here. I like finding other great blogs through existing blogs I like and maybe you will too.

One of the new blogs I found is Dude and Sweetie. Jess, the writer of D&S, started following me on twitter too after I followed her (as you do... everyone who blogs Facebooks and tweets) and commented on one of my tweets about my burgeoning waistline. (Oh, there, that's it. Supermodel unfollowed me for sure.) Aaaanyway, she said she needed to lose some pounds also and so we sparred back and forth re: a possible competition, held accountable by our respective blogs, to lose 15lbs. We got stuck on the "stakes" and now she is sick and probably eating mashed potato with lots of butter to drown her sorrows, so we're on hold right now. Or maybe she wasn't serious? Hmmm... well.... anyway, I was. I love a little competition. So, if you do have any ideas about the stakes for winner or loser, please comment. Fun and funny and motivating would be my criteria.

Jess did suggest bare-ass photos on our blogs but, I think, maybe not. One of these days I may take my suburban mom status to the next level and join the PTA or something and I can just see some snotty-nosed soccer mom parading those photos around at a PTA meeting, to get me voted off. Plus, if Matt and Erin are still with me (and GOD FORBID Ian has become a fan too) that will definitely be the nail in my twitter coffin.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Daisys' Sacramento: Haggin Oaks Park

This weekend's Mummy-and-Daisy jaunt was to a park in Rancho Cordova, not far from where we live. Despite not having a stellar reputation as a residential city, RC has a surprising number of large and lovely parks. It also has a great location, hugging the American River and several miles of it's bike trails, but that's another adventure for another time.

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It was on the awesome new blog I found, Sacramento Sidetracks, that I learned about the Petting Barn and Steam Train at Haggin Oaks Park. The Barn is open throughout the summer on weekends and certain weekdays and is run by a local Girl Guide troupe. The Steam Train rides are part of the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum.

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Sadly, the trains only run on certain weekends and this wasn't one of them, so we contented ourselves with petting donkeys and bunnies, being frightened by jumping froggies and gobbling turkeys, and getting eyed-up by a very wiley looking goose.

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And then, after almost drowning in the lake and being hit in the head by a flying baseball, we head back to the car, via a couple of side-trips to grab, throw, and eat some dirt. This was, after all, a park visit and wouldn't have been complete without it.

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You can see all the pics by clicking here.

Or, to learn more about Daisy's "fun" weekend, click here.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

A Photo A Day - The colors of childhood

Since becoming more serious about this whole photography thing, I find myself noticing more visual details in my everyday life. It's amazing how, all of a sudden, you go from looking at a pile of boring-ole dishes, to framing it from the camera's eye, analyzing light, color, and contrast. You know, it actually makes ordinary life that much more interesting. I'm loving every minute of it!

Which is how I came to stop myself in the middle of doing dishes this afternoon to grab my camera and shoot these fun, colorful shots. Kids' stuff is so full of color. I can't imagine the day when my life goes back to boring adult shades again. Although, of course, I'll probably get a few more dishes done. ;o)

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Fun Friday Find

Me love happy summer songs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bug Necrophilia

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.

Tonight was the second night in my two-night Composition photography class, the night where we all share our homework with the other students and teachers. Wasn't too impressed with this class, overall... maybe it's the teacher (scattered), maybe it was her lesson plan (lacking interactivity) but, anyway, I did learn some stuff, just not a complete loss.

One of the students in the class was a 60-something guy who is a convert to digital photography from film. Ironically, he's in a digital photography class but he pretty much treats his digital camera as if it isn't digital. He never connects it to his computer, has no idea how to attach digital photos to an email, and the idea of post-editing in Photoshop or Lightroom just blows his mind. Such is his technical ineptitude that he shared his digitally taken photos as a stack of 5x7 prints that he printed by connecting his memory card directly to his home HP printer. Overall, he was a real distraction in the class, constantly interrupting to yap about some piece of random information or off-hand terminology that had nothing to do with the subject at hand but was aimed to demonstrate his own *knowledge* of photographic techniques.

However, he went from plain annoying to plain weird this evening, as he shared his "homework". I place homework in quotations here because he actually didn't do it, he just went back through pictures he took in the past and brought them in - all 200 or so of them and most of them of his golden retriever through various stages of puppy-hood: doggie's feet, doggie's nose, doggie sleeping, doggie swimming, doggie playing ball, doggie eating... you get the picture and I am digressing.

Aaaaanyway, the reason for this post is because, in amongst the snooze-worthy doggie photos, were some truly awesome macro photos of bugs and insects. Super close-up pics of wolf spiders and bees and praying mantises (manti?), with amazing close-up details of beady eyes and furry legs. I don't like bugs but I have to say I couldn't take my eyes off these shots, they were so cool. So, we got to talking about how the heck he managed to capture these creatures with so much crystal clarity. I mean, bees fly, spiders dart, and praying mantis heads tend to turn around in circles and all of them don't particularly respond well to having a 100mm camera lens shoved in their general direction. Yet, there was not a single motion blur, not a little out-of-focus hair. Given that this guy is an amateur and not an award-winning photographer from National Geographic, we all wanted to know:  how the heck did he do it?

The answer was that the bugs were not alive. Fair enough you say, the dude it taking pics of random dead bugs. Ahhhhhhhhh but you're missing the vital, creepy detail, folks: these were not randomly expired creatures. The guy was zapping them with his electronic bug swatter, killing them dead, and them posing them optimally on leaves, in flower petals etc... and then taking his sweet time to get the perfect shot, with the perfect "still life" model. That's right, he was killing the creatures for the sole purpose of taking pictures of them.

Jeez. Some folks have way to much time on their hands, don't they? And, also, of course, WTF!?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reaping those rewards, baby!

Today I booked our Labor Day weekend getaway to Monterey. Daisy is a big fan of fishies and so we want to take her to the aquarium. Plus, as you probably all know by now, I need out of dodge... bad.

If you follow this blog or my Facebook posts regularly, you also know how *not fond* I am of paying thousands of dollars for a weekend break in the U.S. I generally think it's a colossal waste of money, especially when you realize you could go away for an all-inclusive weekend to Mexico or the Caribbean for almost the same amount of money. It irks me no end to see those dollars disappear out of my account for what amounts to a hectic to-and-fro break to somewhere where there are still Home Depots, Dennys, and Starbucks lining every freeway. When I say "vacation" I mean "get me the hell out of this country and to somewhere completely new and different". Nuff said.

Which is why I was ever-so proud of myself for realizing that I had 41,000 American Express Rewards Points I could use to offset the cost of our two-night break. (And please, nobody do the calculations - I don't need or want to know how much I had to spend to get those. You'll spoil my buzz.)

41,000 points got me a $308 discount toward our hotel in Pacific Grove. Albeit, it's a HoJo but we're only going for two nights and needed a 2-bedroom suite for our own sanity (you fellow parents know what I'm taking about here - whispering in bed to your husband at 8pm on vacation is a real downer.)

Anyway, it took the sting out of the whole local break thing.

Next stop is my 103,000 Virgin Atlantic Frequent Flyer Miles, which are set to expire in the next month if I don't get off my lazy butt and book a trip back to Blighty next year. It took me 15 years of back-and-forth transatlantic flying to earn those suckers and I'll be damned if I'm going to let them float off into the sunset, unused. Stay tuned for the grand British vacation plans for 2011!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lisa and Mike's Wedding: the beauty's in the details

This weekend, Hubby and I were honored to attend the wedding of a good friend of mine, Lisa, to her sweetheart, Mike.

Lisa was the incredibly talented graphic designer I hired in my last job, right out of college and we have remained friends even after my leaving. I'm so thankful that, even though I may not have been the easiest person to work for at times (and yes, girls, spare me the examples - I've enough distance to probably fall on my own sword these days) I have been able to maintain many friendships with the people I worked with and for over the past few years.

Ms. Lisa is a beautiful, sweet, tender-hearted, and yet intelligent and grounded woman - I know, right, who gets all those qualities? So unfair! She is also extremely crafty and by that I don't mean sly, I mean she couples her design-eye with crafty hands to match. To top it all off, her now-husband, Mike, is also the creative sort, a successful graphic designer in his own right and, as it turns out, rather thrifty. So, put together creative, crafty Lisa with creative-frugal Mike, and you've got a special sort of do-it-yourself wedding that just couldn't be beat for personal touches.

Like this, the writing on the fans handed out to attendees for the ceremony...


Or this, the whimsical display of photos from Lisa and Mike's time together. By the way, the photos were hung right above a huge canvas of a tree where friends and family could pop their thumb print and name on a branch, instead of a guest book. (I didn't get a photo for this, sorry, the bright sunlight was problematic.) Cool or wot?


And there were the little anecdotes on the back of the table number cards

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Or the unique board to help you find your table number

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Even the flowers that adorned the aisle were hand-made (yes, meaning, literally that) by Lisa and Mike with fabric they hand-picked to match their color theme



And, of course, they designed the layout (and hand-made some of the elements) of their own little sweetheart table, which was just heart-breakingly adorable, just like the couple themselves.

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Of course, Lisa and Mike couldn't be content with writing their own vows, they went 10 steps further and wrote the whole ceremony from start to finish. Which, by the way, was lovely - the perfect length and the appropriate amount of mushiness, gravitass, and personalization. I had tears in my eyes, especially when they used the verse from "These are the hands..." for the hand blessing, someting which Hubby and I also wrote into our wedding and which is still one of my favorite and most touching parts of our whole ceremony.


In fact, everything was perfect, not an element was out of place or out of theme - or if it was, it was so insignificant that it did not notice.

Funnily enough, the one element Lisa and Mike didn't plan down to the last detail, was The First Dance. Yet, by winging it, they managed to hit just the right note yet again: their natural shyness came across as tenderness and the lack of fanfare added to the whimsical note of the whole afternoon.

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Plus, there was this thing where one of the waiters looked kind of like a Greek God, but that's another story for another time....

Here, in all her beautious splendor, is the lady of the day herself

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I mean, how can you NOT love her??

Oh, and then there was this...


Flippin' A, they pulled out ALL the stops, didn't they?

And yes, Hubby and I were there too, and here's the proof...

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And lest we not forget our mutual and good friend, Joe, a God in his own right when it comes to managing an event. I remember the relief when Joe showed up to take the day's events off my hands almost four years ago and I'm sure he did the same for Lisa. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the lack of anything appearing to go wrong was also somewhat of his doing.

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If you want to see more photos from the day, just click here

Friday, August 20, 2010

LEAP and the net will appear {Zen Saying}

I hope. And very soon.

One step at a time. And here is step one...

More later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When black or white is gray

At the gym in the morning, I have taken to listening to NPR instead of music on my iPod. I like the intellectual stimulation and find it makes my workouts go a lot faster. With music, my mind wanders. With NPR, it's engaged.

Often times, I will hear something on NPR that really makes me think, or just a story that is so interesting that I say to myself "I have to go home and blog about this..." but then life takes over and I rarely remember to.

This morning, however, a particular story that is part of a series called "American Lives", was so incredibly fascinating to me that I had to share.

Here is a teaser...

   " Ada Copeland, an African-American woman born in Georgia just months before that state seceded from the Union, moved to New York City in the mid-1880s. There, she met a man named James Todd. He was light-skinned, handsome, had a good job for an African-American man in that time — a Pullman porter. They hit it off, and eventually married. They had five children and a house in Brooklyn. Their story would be unremarkable if not for one detail: Nothing James had told his future wife was true. James Todd was really not black ..."    Read more here

If you're anything like me, right about now you're saying to yourself "How the bejeezus can a woman marry a man and then not know the color of his skin? Surely she would notice THAT!?" And indeed, it's a reasonable question. And even more reasonable given that THIS is a photo of said James Todd:

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library

However, author of the book "Passing Strange", Martha Sandweiss, goes on to explain that, after the Civil War, many Southerners got worried that they would no longer be able to identify a "slave" just by the color of his or her skin any more. So, one of the solutions they came up with to help them categorize folks was to say that, if one of your eight great-parents was black, you were black, no matter what color your skin. (I wonder how many of us would be "black" these days, based on THAT categorization?)

This made it possible (although extremely rare, for obvious reasons) for a white person to claim they were African American.  Later, Ada and James' daughters, although brought up as African American, both married white men, made possible by each sister "swearing" for the other, that they were, in fact, white. Yet their brothers, when registering for the draft in World War I, were placed in all-black regiments.

I've always been the kind of person who is unobservant to race and this just makes me smile. At the end of the day, race itself is just about a society's label for someone based upon a number of cultural, economic, or societal factors, not really about anything genetically significant.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wear wristwatch? Use e-mail? Not for Class of '14 - Yahoo! News

Wear wristwatch? Use e-mail? Not for Class of '14 - Yahoo! News

A little perspective, this Thursday afternoon.

Not sure I agree about cultural influences fading over time (ref: Beavis & Butthead). Maybe in memory but not in the subtle ways they all collectively shape who we are. I think about my teenage years and the things I watched, listened-to, said etc.. as very formative. Your thoughts?

What, if any, influences did you bring with you from childhood/adolescenthood, through to adulthood?

(And, for the record, since being glued to my cell phone, I no longer wear a wristwatch. However, I still love email like my life depends on it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Drinking lots of alcohol is good for your diet

Ok, well, only insomuch as I spent my lunch hour sorting through yesterday's sordid photos instead of eating lunch today.

Out of 647 pics, there were about 200 usable ones. After further pairing down, I made it to 150-ish. Not all of them (ok, maybe very few at all) are exemplary examples of my photography skills but most of them were so freakin' hilarious, I couldn't delete them. In my defense: there was wine, and vodka, and champagne, and tequilla in my system, and the roads were bumpy. When you're that tipsy, you're all like: "ISO? Aperture? What?"

I'm honestly a LOT better on solid ground and fully sober. Promise!

Full slide-show at the bottom. Here are a few of my personal favorites...

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL HERSELF - Thanks for being a year older, Renee!
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NATALIE CRACKING UP. She does that a lot. That's why I love her.
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ME, RENEE, AND NATALIE - still sober... ish.
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NAT AND NICK - these two are a constant source of entertainment.

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AND THE PICTURE OF THE DAY... Dave, surrounded by his posse.

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Parents indulge in drunken debauchery - a sneak peek

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Hello all. Well, what a FUN weekend I had. Totally the kind of fun weekend I used to have all the time about 10 years ago but one day was enough to make me realize that one day was all I could take for a while. Ahem.

Yesterday I went wine-tasting in Amador County on a limo-bus, for a good friends' birthday. It was a day with nine fun-starved parents on a black leather-seated bus with champagne, vodka, and wine, heading from one winery to the other, and with 90s pop and hip-hop music vibrating the roof. The good news is that nobody puked (especially since there was a $750 incidental charge for vomit on the carpet) the bad news is that we all had to somehow return to our lives as parents at the end of the festivities.

In all, I took 657 photos on my camera. However, a good 50% of those were taken on a moving, bouncy bus, after several drinks, so my guess is that only 100 will make it out of the review phase alive. Then there are the ones where I was a little too tipsy to remember to change my camera settings as I went from different lighting situations, so I'm not guaranteeing much in the way of artistic prowess on this round. In fact, if I have 100 that were in focus, I might just consider this little photo expedition a success. Ahem.

Anyways, it's going to take quite some time to go through all the photos, immediately discard the bad ones and then sort through the rest for the true keepers. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to offer ya'll a sneak peak at the craziness with some completely un-edited shots I grabbed purely based upon a thumbnail preview that made me laugh out loud...

More soon!
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