Photo Challenge Day 5 – Cactus Flower

For Day 5 of my 30 day photo challenge I ended up in the desert. I spent two hours exploring and photographing flowers, landscapes, bugs and animals. It was a great time and the most enjoyable of the photos I’ve taken for this challenge so far. 

I think I took over 160 photographs and I liked a majority of them. The picture I chose for today’s post might not be my favorite. I can’t really tell because I have so many favorites.

If you want to see more from my hike you can check them out on my Flickr page

30 Days of Photos – Day 5

Day 5 – Cactus Flower

Finding Color in the Desert

I went out for a hike in a desert area to visit a lone tree where migratory bluebirds come to feed on the berries each year. I was either too early or too late because there were no bluebirds. So I decided to turn the hike into a desert color photo walk. I was also trying to get a good picture for my 30 day photo challenge and this was the perfect opportunity.

The tree

When you first look out onto most desert landscapes you might be tempted to assume it’s just a brown, arid, lifeless scene. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once you learn to observe the desert closely you’ll see that it is teaming with life and is full of color. Sometimes it takes being still and waiting for your ears to acclimate to the sounds and your eyes to the shapes and colors the desert provides.

I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast since I was trying to get out to the tree while the sun was just coming up. I realized that I was getting pretty hungry and should probably get back home soon.  But now that I was out looking for colorful subjects and finding them at every turn, I just couldn’t break away. I was having too much fun and it was so peaceful being the only person in sight.

I spent about two hours walking the hills and trying to avoid getting skewered by cactus needles. I came away with over 160 photographs. I knew I was going to like a lot of them. After I brought them home to look at on the computer screen I realized I liked too many of them. How in the world would I be able to choose one for the photo challenge. In the end I did choose one although it’s hard to say any one of them is a favorite. You can see it at my Photo Challenge Day 5 post.

Here are a few of the photos from the day. The rest can be seen on my Flickr page.

Photo Challenge Day 3 – Watering Can

Using things that are beautiful and functional is more enjoyable than using something designed only for utility. Click To Tweet

This watering can and the pots were left at our house by the previous owners. I thought the can was unique and interesting. I have a bigger one that I actually use for watering plants. This one is mostly for show. But, perhaps I will use it anyway. Using things that are beautiful and functional is more enjoyable than using something designed only for utility.

30 Days of Photos Day 3 – Watering Can

Just for fun, I’ve included a few other photos of the watering can that I had considered for this post. Comment below if you like one of them better than the one I chose.

Photo Challenge Day 2 – Train Signals

Yesterday I declared that I would take a picture each day for 30 days and post it to this blog. I’m not backing out. But I am changing the rules a little.

While I’ll be taking a photo a day, or at least choosing my favorite out of multiple photos, I’ll actually post them the next day. This will give me a chance to choose, crop, resize, touch up or otherwise get it ready to post.

It will also give me a chance to actually take the photo. During the week, If I don’t get it early in the morning, it will likely be taken late in the evening. So I don’t have much time to do the other things I mentioned above.

Yesterday I was busy from early in the morning until about 7:00pm when I finished grocery shopping. I was on the way home but was scanning my surroundings for a likely photo subject. I saw it suddenly and pulled over into the dirt shoulder underneath an overpass.

I was about to get out of the car and start working out my composition when I realized that everything was framed just the way I wanted it. So I rolled down my window and got ready to take a shot from the car. Right as I was about to release the shutter, a truck with a car carrier pulled in front of me and stopped.

That was almost the end of my shoot but the guy didn’t stay long. He backed up a few feet (further into my field of vision) and then just drove away. Who knows what was going on in his mind but at least he got out of my way. I like photographing industrial things with strong lines line power poles, fences or unique structures. This time it was railway signal lights. With the stormy sky as the background I think it looked interesting.

30 Days of Photos – Day 2

Day 2 – Train Signals

A Photograph a Day for 30 Days

Last week I started trying to take one new photograph per day. My goal is to get the camera in front of my face every day and improve my photography. Some days it feels like a chore. I’m tired or feeling uninspired for a subject.

Other days I’ve found that I can’t wait to go exploring to see what catches my eye. Maybe I thought of a subject earlier in the day. Or sometimes the morning or evening light is just so beautiful that any subject will look good.

Regardless of how I feel on any day, the discipline of picking up the camera and forcing myself to use it will pay off.

I didn’t start off doing this as any sort of 30 day challenge or 365 day project or anything. But I think it could be fun to turn it into something like that for the blog. I wouldn’t be able to guarantee a good photograph every day. But hopefully they would get better over time.

All right, let’s do a 30 day, photograph a day challenge. Today is May 2nd and there are 31 days in the month so it works out to start today. Some days the photograph will be in place of any other post. Other days I’ll probably just use it as a supplement.

In a way, I’ve already been participating in this challenge since my one-a-day photos have appeared in my posts Raspberry Leaf, A Nest In The Rocks, The Secret Life of Dandelions, No Matter the Beauty and Potting Up The Garden.

But going forward it will be official. I’m putting myself on record as having to do this every day. Hopefully, doing this live will give me the motivation and accountability to keep up with it. If I can make it through 30 days, I’m sure I can keep it going well beyond that. 

I’m going to make things just a little easier on myself by using a photo from a couple of days ago as my first one. That’s because I haven’t had a chance to take one today yet but I want to get this post out of the way. You can call it cheating if you want but oh well. So here’s todays photo to start things off:

Day 1 – A barbed wire fence post

Potting Up a Garden

We recently moved to a new house that has a very small yard. This was quite a step down in size from our previous 1.5 acre property. But it’s amazing how good it feels to have a small area to work with rather than a big one. You can see the results of your improvements so much quicker and clearer. There’s less space to spread out but that just means you have to be more creative with the space you do have.

Because of our now small space, I’ve embraced the idea of container gardening. The people we bought the house from had left most of their pots behind and in one of them I even discovered raspberry canes coming up.

Over the weekend I finally got some great herbs and flowers and got them potted up. So far I’ve put in rosemary, sage, basil, dill, thyme and peppermint as well as a couple of perennial flowers.

The herbs came from a local organic farm called Sage Creations. They had great selection and the plants looked really good. Despite the name, Sage Creations specializes in lavender. I’m looking forward to going back in mid-June to see the lavender bushes in full bloom. Hopefully I’ll get some good photos to share with you here.

I still have a few pots to fill up. I’ll likely get some nice annuals to add some color and make the back patio a little more inviting. We also have a small side yard that has a patch of dead grass and dirt that’s just asking for a small raised bed for a few vegetables. It would be a great opportunity to practice square foot gardening just to see how much food we could grow in about 12 square feet.

There’s also a community garden a few houses over from ours where each house has their own small raised bed area. I don’t know yet what the rules are for using pesticides and since I only grow organically, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. I might just use it to grow ornamental flowers, gourds and decorative pumpkins for my wife.

So even though we’ve reduced the size of property we’re responsible for, there are actually quite a lot of options for gardening and even food production. I’m excited to see what it will look like when everything is in.

New Game: Carcassonne

Meeples clowning around before our first game of Carcassonne


We love games at our house. I’ve always been more of a Rummy or Yahtzee kind of guy. I enjoy simple rules and easy game play where your turn comes around fast. Although I have been known to promote a rousing game of Schafskopf or Russian Bank in my time. 

My oldest son loves involved, intricate and complicated board and card games. Thankfully, his latest game is more of a compromise in my favor. Carcassonne is a cool little game of placing tiles and building cities and roadways. The rules and play are simple but there’s a surprising amount of strategy in where to place the tiles and whether to put meeples on them after they’re placed.

I love games that can bring the whole family together. In this case, my wife even agreed to play with us. And with a whole bunch of expansions to buy, the game will hopefully stay fresh for a while.


A meeples after party

Evil Breakfast

I felt a strange, villainous thrill this morning while making breakfast for my two kids. I was making them bowls of creamy buckwheat cereal. After it’s cooked I usually add raisins, banana, raspberries and cinnamon. It was the cutting of the banana that inspired my inner dark side on this otherwise bright Saturday morning.

To explain this, I have to tell you what I ate for breakfast. My typical breakfast (which this morning’s was) consisted of half of a jumbo avocado, a heap of ground golden flax seed, ground turkey, fresh lemon juice, rosemary, pepper salt and olive oil, all mixed together. When I cut the avocado in half, it inevitably leaves a thick smear of dark green on the blade.

This morning there was a good amount of avocado left on the knife. When I went to cut the banana, the avocado mash transferred to the white fruit, making a ghoulish design.

I knew that if either of my kids saw this or even heard about it, they would revolt and refuse its inclusion in their food. I’ll never know what made me cut the banana without first wiping the knife blade. But once the deed was done, I knew I would get away with it. With all of the colored ingredients I put together in the bowl that little bit of green would just blend right in.

So I mixed it up and gave it to them. I smiled a crooked smile as I watched them shovel in the very thing they would have rejected if they had been aware of it. I felt somehow empowered by my secret activity. And I knew, right then, that I would do it again.