Monthly Archives: May 2019

Senior Portraits (draft written in 2008, updated today)

Going through my drafts, I found this from the year Clare became a senior. I wonder why I never finished it. It was pretty good. Her photo turned out very nice despite not following the advice of the photography studio.

My all-to-soon to be senior (school starts on Tuesday) is sitting for her Senior Portrait this morning. She missed her first sitting because we were still on our college road trip.

At the beginning of the summer Clare received a letter from Jackson Blanton Photographers assigning her a sitting date in early August at her school. The letter congratulates Clare on being a senior and gives some “suggestions to make the day go smoothly” for her. Here are a few (with my comments):

  • Nail appointments should be approximately one day before your session. Choose a neutral or coordinating nail color
    How many school photos have you seen where someone’s hands are showing?
  • Bring 1 casual outfit. Don’t forget any additional props you may want in your photos. Arrive dressed in that casual outfit. Be sure all clothing is neatly pressed.
    How can you bring something and wear it?
    Props? Like what? A lion tamer’s whip? (Clare either wanted to bring her cat or wear a fake pregnant stomach under her clothes)
  • If you wear eyeglasses, removing the lenses for your session is highly recommended to avoid glare and distortion.
    Huh? (The accompanying brochure went so far as to ask your optometrist to borrow a pair of lensless frames for the sitting)

 

Two newspaper blurbs

A while back, going through papers, I found a couple newspaper blurbs that I wanted to share/keep. In a way they are completely different but in another way they are similar — possibly something that proud parents asked the Elgin Daily Courier News to share. Another similarity is that they are about two men in my life, my father and my husband.

Dad’s mention of being in the Navy
Doctorate: Dean Follmann, son of Willis and Ruth Follmann of rural Elgin, has received a doctorate degree in statistics, applied math, from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is a 1975 graduate of Burlington-Central High School, with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northern Illinois University. Follmann lives in Virginia
Dean’s Doctorate degree mention in the Courier News

I put the article about Dean on the refrigerator and Clare drew his likeness on the whiteboard when she visited in December.

 

Suburban wildlife in pictures

A few months ago I saw an article about a blog by a woman in Michigan who, using a device called Bird Photo Booth, posted dozens of close-up photos of birds. I looked up the device and saw that it was on back order. I knew that at some point I would buy it because it seemed perfect for me. I could mount it outside my attic window and feed birds during the day while watching the photos on my computer so I ordered it at the end of April. Earlier this week I got an email telling me that my Bird Photo Booth was on its way and should arrive today.

Unfortunately, even though the device has WiFi it is not the WiFi I thought it was, but WiFi to connect to a smartphone. Still, that’s better than the trailcam I bought last year, hoping to get fun photos of birds at the feeder or maybe other wildlife in our suburban backyard. None of my bird photos were very good, except the ones below.

Speaking of the trailcam — in early January, Dean mentioned that some critter had built a large and tidy nest under our side porch composed of leaves, vegetable skins and eggshells stolen from our compost bin. I researched it and came up with the conclusion that we had a opossum living under the porch. I was excited because they are good wildlife. I set up the trailcam to see the opossum in action.

a tidy nest made of compost
The “nest”

Dean, however, had a different idea and wanted to demolish the pile of compost which he did, some that day and more later in the week. He wasn’t happy about having a opossum living under our porch.

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During this time the trailcam collected some pretty cool images — with an early plot twist and a huge one at the end.

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So, it was not a opossum after all, but a boring nasty rat. Before we knew it was a rat Dean put out mothballs, thinking critters stay away from mothballs. It didn’t bother the rat.

Remember — we didn’t know anything about the critter until we looked at the photos several days later. I still thought we had a lovely opossum.

We also had other visitors to the “nest” area — a squirrel stopped by, also undeterred by the mothballs.

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Here are some night shots of our resident not-a-opossum.

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A curious house sparrow
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Another squirrel

More night shots.

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The final night shot that night is the climax to the story and the final plot twist.

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A fox arrived 3 minutes or so after the last rat sighting

We’re pretty sure the fox ate our rat for a early morning breakfast on January 9th. No more rats were picked up on the trailcam after that.

And now for the fun shots.

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While I was disappointed we didn’t have a opossum, I was grateful we had a fox to take care of the rat.

Anyway — watch this space for, hopefully, more birds. I promise I won’t show any more rats.

 

Peonies

As much as I love the deeply fragrant smell of lilacs in the spring, I think I prefer the lighter, less heady smell of peonies.

Peonies from my garden

Peonies smell like warm, late-spring afternoons on Heine Avenue where several plants grew on the south-facing side of the house. That smell is wafting through my dining room right now bringing me memories of my childhood at 240 Heine.

The smell foretold the end of the school year and the long, carefree warm months of summer just around the corner. Soon there’d be fireflies. Soon we’d be barefoot all day.

I only have one peony plant that produces flowers. Usually I only get two or maybe three flowers, but this year I got five — likely because the neighbor cut down a tree that was casting shade where the peonies grew. I hope to plant more of these, perhaps in front of something that we’ll plant for privacy instead of the weeds that grow there now.

Hotel towel reuse policies

Red towel hanging on towel rack in front of a yellow wall
Photo by Mason Bryant under CC BY-SA 2.0

For several years I have noticed that hotels have signs instructing guests that if they want to reuse their towels to hang them up but if they want them washed to leave them on the floor. This is in the name of environmentalism and being a tree-hugger, of course I want to save the world. I mean, I don’t wash my towels after each use at home, so not having my towels washed daily at a hotel is perfectly fine with me. I always dutifully hang my towels up on a hook or a rack and never leave them on the floor (I mean, who would do that?)

The trouble is, not once in the years since I have seen that sign have hotels not given me fresh towels every day unless I keep the do not disturb sign up all day (like the days I stay at hotels and work in the room while my husband is at conferences or meetings).

We stay at a variety of hotels over the course of a year and it is the same with each one, from Best Western to Hilton to Sheraton. None honor the towel reuse policy.

Have you found this to be the case? What should I do about it?