Category Archives: Extremely Amateur Photography

Eclipse, With Children 


Eclipse viewing with the kiddos. We also had a pair of viewing glasses but the natural pinholes between leaves stole the. show. 

The direct pictures are the product of me putting my cellphone camera in manual settings mode & fiddling around until something weird happened. Not sure why the secondary crescent sun image appeared, but I’m super happy it did. 

We’re in Norfolk, VA so we didn’t see totality. But the sun got down to a skinny crescent and the kids got their minds blown by science and nature. And so did I! 

Eggplant Blossoms Are Beautiful 

For No Particular Reason, Fishing Hole Pics

Just for the heck of it, here are some pics from my favorite fishing hole. Fishing is relaxing and meditative for me, so I do quite a bit of it because STRESS BILLS WORRY CAR REPAIRS LIFE STUFF WHEN WILL I SELL MORE BOOKS AM I WRITING ENOUGH DOES THE STORY I’M WORKING ON NOW SUCK EEEEEK after writing that I want to go fishing right now.

But seriously, it’s a beautiful little spot. I get lots of little fishing companions even when I don’t bring along my 6 year old son (I’ve told the 4 year old that he may come along when he’s 5 because he’s a tad wild and unfocused still and I don’t want him flailing around with a hook).

Not pictured: there are always dragonflies in warm weather. And mosquitoes, but I bring repellent for them. Usually herons and egrets, sometimes a hawk or a duck or a water snake of mystery variety because I give them plenty of space.

Above, mantises and lizard. And lots of duckweed this year, unlike last year. I suspect the mild winter and very hot summer have something to do with it, and maybe a lot of watering and lawn fertilizing going on at the posh homes on one side of the lake.

This, by the way, is the location and activity that inspired the story Basshole, which appears in my Maladapt mini-collection. In that one, a transhuman living in a robotic body does a lot of fishing for 200 years because he’s all messed up about his ex-wife, leaving his fleshly body behind, and just what it is you do with a life anyway. There’s a lot of inner turmoil for him to sort through, but wouldn’t you be thrown off by your 200-years-ago wife showing up in her old human body, out of the blue? I think I would.

In any event, hope you enjoyed the view. I do.

 

[Click for other fish-related posts, including my then-5 year old’s first fish and a tuna poaching ring in 2241]

The Luna Moth Has Landed

Me & my two little ones (3&5) came out to grill. This was waiting for us:

Just hanging out on the handrail of our front step. Very cool.

So Luna is minding her business and we’re minding ours. UNTIL…

Uh… you shouldn’t be there…

No, don’t go MORE toward my back, what are you thinking…

SERIOUSLY WTF NOT THE BEARD 

…but she relented and returned to my back. Awkwardly and with great care I managed to take off my shirt with her clinging to it and transfer her to a tall potted pine.

And I draped the shirt over her refuge so birds wouldn’t see her. This last shot is from behind the shirt — it’s not so see-through seen from the other side.

Luna is safe for now… but I’ll be watching my back.

Recently, picking mulberries…

image

This was taken a couple of days ago — you can tell our littlest takes his berry picking and playing in mud puddles VERY seriously.

Berry-picking is also a practical matter. My family is cash-poor, and berries are expensive. We’ve gone out a few times and besides having fresh berry snacks and desserts have put up a good 20 pounds of frozen whole berries and puree. We’ll have them when money is tight and when winter comes.

Honestly, though, we’d pick mulberries even if we were rich. It’s good, delicious family fun.

The Rain Left Puddles Of Fun

Little Ones and Puddle SABARTON MAY 2016

After a few rainy days in a row, the clouds finally let up and the sun came out yesterday, so my wife and I bundled up the two little ones while our oldest was in school, and we went mulberry picking. We picked twelve and a half pounds, so we have them fresh and sugared and gave some away and pureed a big batch to freeze — they keep very well that way and we’ll be having mulberry treats well into winter. Especially since there are plenty of picking days ahead.

When we made it to the last tree on our berry picking hit list, a grand old giant perched on a hill, there was a magnificent puddle at the top. So while my wife and I picked the last couple pounds of berries, the little ones had a great time splashing and throwing mud and digging in it with sticks and splashing some more.

In order to get them home without soaking their car seats too badly, we stripped them to their underwear and carried the sodden clothes and shoes home in a plastic bag.

As he was stripping down, the older of the two said, “I’m so wet I have to be in my underwear!” (He has a talent for stating the obvious, but I kind of expect that from a guy who just turned five) I answered, “if you’re driving home in your underwear you probably had a good time.”

Young or old, I bet a few of you out there can agree with that.

Food Interlude: Delicious Fruit

2014JULkompot

 

Pictured above, a Russian (and nearby regions) fruit drink called kompot I’ve taken a liking to and make on occasion. It’s easy to make and it’s more delicious than anything I can get from the store IMO. It has a velvety mouthfeel, probably from natural pectin. Good stuff, very nice on a hot summer day.

 

See, it’s not all about writing and science fiction around here. When I titled this thing Seriously Eclectic I meant it.

 

Anyhow, all you have to do to make this tasty and brilliantly colored drink is put about 3 cups of cut fruit per liter/quart of water in a pot, add roughly 1/4 cup of sugar per quart of water (I measure mine a little scant; the batch I’m drinking above was 1 cup sugar to 5 quarts water), bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, then let it cool in the pot and fish out the fruit. Serve cold.

 

Stone fruits work wonderfully: peaches, cherries, apricots, plums. Apples are nice, too. Berries are fine as well. Avoid citrus, the bitterness and acid aren’t going to play nice here. It’s an Eastern European drink, think fruits you can get there.

 

I’ve never tried melons, let me know if you do, and if it worked out well or not. I’m sure you could adulterate it with liquor with good results if you want — it being Russian, I’d advise vodka because Russia, duh.

 

The batch pictured involved red and black plums, cherries, blueberries, peaches, and a couple of pink lady apples. It’s wonderful.

 

The fruit chunks left over after you strain the kompot into containers is still a bit tart and retain a mild fruity taste. The morning after making the kompot, we had big bowls of oatmeal for breakfast. We heated some of the fruit, made a big divot in the middle of the oatmeal, dropped a teaspoon of honey in the bottom, and then heaped a big pile of the fruit on top. Delicious.

 

Aside from using the fruit as a topping for hot cereal or ice cream, you can heat it in a pot, add a little of the kompot back in, thicken with potato starch, and you have a refreshing fruit soup called kissel (so I’m told). I’m also told it’s eaten cold or hot; I’ve never tried cold because it’s so damn good hot with a bit of nutmeg and a tiny bit of ground clove.

 

So that’s today’s food/drink adventure. Back to science fiction or something like it in the next post.

Told You So, New Baby Edition

Here’s my little blogging delay, 9 lbs and 1 oz of brand new baby boy named Cuinn.  He was born late on the night of the 17th and we’ve been busy ever since adjusting to his new presence.  We’re not the only ones adjusting.  His two big brothers, 15 and 2, are adjusting as well.

On the writing front, I’ve managed a few hundred words on a promising little short story about aliens, death, love, duty, and flowers—working title, “The Flowers of Dawn”.  I know that’s a sadistically tiny teaser for anything, but I’m not sure where it’s going yet and most of my attention is on, you know, domestic stuff.  I’m also not saying more about that story because as those of you who write probably know, sometimes a promising story stalls and goes into the trunk or gets cannibalized into other stories, taken apart into ideas and recycled.

But that’s enough about writing.  I just wanted to do the thing all the cool new parents are doing and tell you how awesome I think our new baby is.

He’s awesome.  And he still has that new baby smell.

Aren’t you jealous?

Cuinn17APR2013smallpic

 

Full Circle

This is the same place I took the picture for my dirty window blog entry a week ago: the Hampton, VA Grayhound station.

It’s dark, but the rain has washed the dirty windows clean.

How very thought provoking.

One Thing Hampton Roads VA Needs

One of these. For pity’s sake. A real one, not the one little light rail line it took Hampton Roads 30 years to plan, fund, and build.

It might be possible if this was one city with seven boroughs rather than seven cities pissing away enormous resources duplicating all their efforts seven times.

But what the hell do I know?

I know I’d rather live up here in DC where you can go see the rest of the city. Where you’re not completely boned if your car breaks down.

Hell, you can even count on buses running on time here. In Norfolk, VA, I have seen people lose jobs or not be hired at all because if you depend on the bus, you cannot be depended on because the damn bus cannot be depended on.

Because Hampton Roads, which people with sense have been recommending incorporate into a single city since roughly the Civil War era, refuses to do what makes sense.

Well, actions have consequences. You can bitch about them, Hampton Roads, or you can act.

We all know which you’ve chosen for the last 150 years. How’s that working for you? Get that major sports franchise you’ve been wanting forever? No? They said you’re seven third-rank markets instead of one big first-rank one?

Stop complaining. They’re right. And it is YOUR choice, Hampton Roads, and you continue to make it. Stop pointing fingers unless you’re facing a mirror.