Video Voyage

On Saturday, I made an unplanned trip to Hallettsville to visit a cousin who has fallen upon some hard times. Hallettsville is only about 1.5 hours away from my house, almost all but a mile of it traveled on the same highway. I-90 is road I travel quite often to get from point A to point B in my neighborhood, and I never gave any consideration to how far it might stretch across the state and what all I might find if I ever took it out of town. Not being the adventurous sort, it’s probably not something I ever would have done without a reason, but I noticed pretty early into the trip that there were a lot of little interesting stops that could be made along the way – only I hadn’t brought my camera as I didn’t think it appropriate at the time (turned out my aunt and cousin both asked me why I didn’t bring it, so I guess I could have and it would have been fine).

Anyway, I did have my iPhone with me of course, but I didn’t want to slow the trip down by taking pictures, so I decided to film video of the journey instead, both to remind me of places I’d like to get back to later with a camera in hand, as well as entertain myself while driving. I ended up with about 20 minutes of footage, but knowing I could never subject people to that much shaky iPhone video taken through a bug-splattered windshield, I narrowed it down to four minutes and added a pretty song to make it more entertaining. I worked on this video for hours Sunday when I got home, so please – ENJOY, dammit! It’s only four minutes! And if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drive across Texas, here you go (even though really this is only 1.5 hours of driving across it. Still).

 

I also took photos with my phone once I got to Hallettsville; here’s a few I’ve had time to process.

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Hallettsville courthouse – also taken with the iPhone through a car window and edited with Snapseed on my phone. Not bad huh?

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One of my cousin’s dogs had puppies, and this is the only one they have left to give away. He’s adorable, but already spoken for, and he’s going to get big so I couldn’t have taken him anyway.

Nostalgic Neighborhood Tour, Part 2

Before jumping into this post, I must preface it with a warning: I know next to nothing about architecture, home design, decoration, restoration – anything to do with houses, much less historical ones. So my names for things, and my descriptions, will be completely ignorant. I apologize. If I were more motivated I’d look all this stuff up before writing about it, but I mostly want to share pictures and the memories they evoke for me. I realize this makes me lazy and sloppy, but it’s my blog, so if you want to read expert writing on this subject, go read someone’s blog who’s getting paid to write. Moving on.

(And as previously stated, all pictures were taken with my iPhone 5S. I love how easy and portable a smart phone makes photography!)

The first house we toured had a name – Rosecroft – and was one of the more modest homes we visited. For that reason, I liked it best. It was still small and homey, and although it had been completely restored, all the renovations were fairly true to the original home. Call me crazy, but I actually prefer small homes to large ones, small rooms to big, and dark walls to light. I guess my ideal living space would be a cabin – something cozy and warm. Light, airy rooms feel sterile and drafty to me. So this house, which had retained the narrow hallways and tiny spaces of the original, felt very homey.

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The house was named by the original owner, artist Charles Sherman. The name is seen here over the porte cochere (the brochure calls it that – I would have called it a car port, because I know nothing).

The rose motif carries over into the house, where stenciled art graces the sunroom. This is original artwork, which was restored by the current owner.

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The sunroom, showing the rose stencils in action. The stained glass windows are a new addition.

Oh, how I did love his bathroom! I know that sounds weird – but the bathrooms in both my great-grandmother’s and grandparent’s houses were so distinctive, and different from what we had in our modern home, that they are etched in my memory. Tile everywhere – hexagon tile on the floors, and shiny tile on the walls, the counters, just all over. And in my grandmother’s house, it was ALL pink! And then of course, she kept pink toilet paper on the roll (remember colored toilet paper? I know it’s horrible stuff, but I miss it). Then my great-grandmother had a claw-foot tub, so I enjoyed seeing another one of those here, too. The tile on this guy’s floor was new, but it is very true to the original tile of the houses of the time (I think – remember, I know nothing). In all the other houses, the bathrooms appeared to be the one area where the owners modernized a lot, but I feel this gentleman did a nice job of maintaining some of the original feel (of the bathroom? Weird, I know. But still, it mattered to me).

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Could have used tile on the walls, though. 

And now to share a shot that really captures a childhood memory for me – the glass doorknobs. Every door in my grandmother’s house had glass doorknobs (and that house had a lot of doors – every room including the kitchen had doors to close it off from all other parts of the house) and when I was a kid, I thought they were diamonds. I figured out at some point that they were not, but still considered them incredibly fancy and extravagant. This house maintained the glass doorknob feature throughout the house, so I made sure to get a shot of some:

doorknobs

The back of the house, where the two bedrooms were, was quite small and cramped, and although I loved that about it (the hallway was teeny-tiny, yet there were still built-in cabinets in the walls) I couldn’t get any decent shots of anything. So this house, although it was probably my favorite, doesn’t have a lot of photographic representation. Not that I didn’t try:

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A shot of the den, taken from the front sunroom.

I also didn’t get any decent shots of his kitchen, once again because it was so small. But you can see a little glimpse of it there in back of the den. Here’s a shot of the den taken while standing in front of the fireplace:

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Probably my favorite photo from the whole shoot. I don’t know if there’s a name for this feature, where the driveway pulls up right alongside a side door of the house – but I love it. So glad I got this shot. 

Sadly, this next one is the last photo from this house. It felt rude to me to spend too long setting up shots and getting obsessive with the photos, so I tried to do what I could quickly and move on. Since the den area was the largest part of the house, well, that’s where I took most of my shots. This last one was taken from the kitchen:

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One of those dudes is my husband. Unfortunately, the owner of the house (whom everyone is listening to, as you can tell) can’t be seen. He was an incredibly friendly and interesting guy.

Oddly, both houses I liked the best have the least photos to represent them. Again, this is partly because the spaces within both places were very small, but also, I think when touring them I was more interested in experiencing the space than taking pictures of it.

I’ll share my shots from the second stop tomorrow.

Gah!-roceries

Well Saturday was both the most awesome and the most disappointing grocery store trip ever.

First of all, I noticed as I pulled into the parking lot that it was exceptionally crowded. It was 1 PM on a Saturday, true, but I’ve been at this Kroger plenty of times during that part of the day and never seen quite as much traffic as I saw this time. Then I noticed this:

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And I knew something was up.

The entrance to the store was all decked out in football regalia, which is not unusual for any day in Texas this time of year.

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There’s a hint in that placard, if you can read it. My photos were particular crappy this time out.

Now, generally, this is how I approach all things football:

football

In fact, I know so little about my city’s own team that I actually thought this guy was one of our players, based on the simple fact that there was a lot of football stuff around, he was a rather big dude, and a few people in fan jerseys were talking to him – but I guess I was wrong.

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Can you see what the little guy is holding? YEP.

Whatever was going on involved a pretty long line, which snaked around and inconveniently blocked the aisles of toiletries:

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Notice that woman in the red shirt & khaki pants guarding the line? She’s one of many who ruined what could have been the most awesome grocery day ever.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, the team’s cheerleaders were at my grocery store today to sign copies of their calendar for fans. Cheerleaders! In tight sparkly silver shorts! And silver go-go boots! With super-long stick-straight hair extensions and awesome spray tans! SCORE! How could my attempts to take entertaining, super-cheesy grocery store photos get any better than this? I swear all these photos are so blurry because I was trembling with joy at the opportunities I briefly envisioned. That is until the FIRST Kroger employee eyed me suspiciously while I whipped out my cell phone. Hm, I thought, that’s unusual. Usually no one thinks twice about a woman on her phone in the grocery store.

Then of course I noticed all the guards and cops and the over-abundance of store employees gathered about, trying to prevent anyone from taking photos of the cheerleaders for free. Damn! Try as I might, and as stealthily as I tried to wander the aisles, looking for some crack or crevice in their makeshift staging area that wasn’t guarded by an eagle-eyed individual, this is the ONLY shot I could get of them without buying a calendar and standing in line, and yeah, it’s pretty disappointing:

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Don’t think I didn’t seriously consider buying one.

I tried to circle around a bit and get something better, but they were totally onto me. I eventually started to feel like a pervert so I went about my business, completely uninterested in taking any other photos for the rest of the day. When you miss the opportunity to get pics of grown women dressed in cheerleader gear in front of the baby wipes aisle, well, nothing is really gonna get you over that level of disappointment but time. I’m not over it yet, but I’m getting there.

iRetroscope

So much I could say about work today, but I put off writing a blog post too long and am not up for all the typing. So – I thought I’d share a fun little photography/video app I have on my iPhone called iRetroscope.

My artist friend Deb Morbeto shared this little iPhone photo gem with me, and I often forget I even have it, but last Friday I went over to a friend’s house after work and her two little boys pounced on me as soon as I walked in the door, asking me if I would take photos of them jumping as I’ve done before. See collage below for reference:

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No toddlers were harmed in the making of these photos.

But of course, I did not have my Canon 7D with me as I’d not been planning on taking any pics, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get any decent jump shots that night. However, far be  it from me to deny some kids the opportunity to jump on the bed, so I got out my trusty iPhone and went to work. I did shoot video of them jumping around on the bed for awhile and threw together a video of the experience that I can also share, but it’s not the most thrilling thing ever, and actually does not use the iRetroscope app. I’ll throw it in here anyway – why not (and yes, I’m getting to the iRetroscope part, I promise):

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after that bit of fun was over that I remembered the IRetroscope app and realized it would have been a perfect opportunity to use it. The app has several different era settings – from the 1920’s all the way up to the 1980’s – and does a pretty cool job of making either a video or a photo look dated. It’s a great thing to use when snapping iPhone pics that you think might not turn out all that great; as you may know if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I am a huge fan of doing whatever possible to make quick, crappy pics look intentionally crappy so you can still use them. Aging a photo is a sure-fire way to turn blur and bad framing into something ‘retro,’ so I decided to give it a go while the kids basically ran around and screamed a lot to provide me with more camera fodder, as seen here (using the app this time):


I literally started filming and said, “OK, just run around or something.” And man did they comply.

I used the 1930’s setting for the first section and the 1970’s setting for the second. And no, there is no repeating of footage there; they actually did run back and forth that much. The music is from a compilation I found on amazon.com of silent film soundtracks, and man have I gotten use out of those tunes. It’s great for silly little videos like this one.

I actually don’t have any photos using iRetroscope that I can get my hands on at the moment, but you get the idea from the video, I think. And unfortunately, I thought that in order to fill the screen I needed to hold my camera in landscape/horizontal position like you do with the plain old iPhone video camera; sadly I was wrong so everything is squished. As I said, I haven’t used this app in forever so I forgot how to use it. Also, I know nothing about video editing and the only software I know how to use is MovieMaker, and that probably shows. Never was able to get into video editing like I did with photos.

Anyway, I can’t recall if the app is free, but if it costs money I’m sure it’s not much or I wouldn’t have purchased it. It’s a lot of fun and an easy way to fancy up your iPhone shots. You’re welcome!

Groceries! Part whatever.

I’ve captured a few interesting shots here and there lately, so it’s time to share. I’m gonna save my fave for last, but let’s start with this one, found in the cheap wine section:

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That pretty much sums up the attitude of people who buy box wine. YEP.

I’ve been wanting to capture this little mixed message for several trips now, but located as it is at the front doors to the store, and given the fact that I never remember about it until I’m on my way out and my phone is already stored away, it’s been a hard one to catch. But on a recent quick trip where I was just picking up a few things I remembered to leave my phone out, and although the shot’s a little blurred I think you can still make out the quandary this might put a shopper in if she or he is too literal-minded:

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I’m not sure what to do here.

I passed by these pastel-colored booze bottles on the way to the checkout line one day (didn’t pay attention to what sort of booze they contain) and couldn’t resist a quick snap. On its own the picture wasn’t worth much so I gave it the Pixlr treatment:

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What happens to your vision if you drink too many of these.

This is one of my favorite iPhone captures of recent memory. This little heart post-it was stuck to the parking lot concrete right behind some dude who was getting out of his car when I stopped to take the photo; he looked at me like I was bonkers, but he did keep his feet out of the shot.

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When searching for art in the everyday, be sure to look down on occasion.

Traveling

I woke up Friday morning feeling much better, so I loaded up the car and headed out of town to the in-laws. Because I’ve never made this drive on my own, I wasn’t sure of exactly where I was headed, and therefore my desire to meander and snap pics was seriously subdued. I was spending most of the drive wondering if I was even headed in the right direction. My goal was to make the 4-hour drive without stopping, but of course this did not happen. And when I pulled off at a roadside rest stop and saw how spiffy it was, I decided I had to take a few quick shots.

My memories of rest stops are fuzzy as I am not a big road-tripper, but in my mind the ones I visited in the past were nothing more than glorified Porta Potties. No air conditioning, definitely no one keeping the place clean, and definitely no toilet paper. This thing was swanky. It had a little community center inside and huge, air-conditioned bathrooms that were well-lit, well-ventilated, and seriously tidy. I didn’t even do that thing I normally do in pit stop bathrooms where I struggle to disallow any part of my skin touching any surface whatsoever while I’m in there.

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Welcome Wagon

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Also educational

As I pulled off the main highway and onto one of the many country roads that would take me to my sister-in-law’s house, I discovered that Texas is close-minded and judgmental towards not just women, but cattle as well. Then again, maybe this goes without saying.

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Slut-cow shaming

Unusual errands

Ran a few unusual errands Monday and took some photos. By way of explanation, allow me to start with a few boob shots:

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The fine print indicates that your boobs will sweat in high humidity

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This should be on a t-shirt

No, I was not in a consultation for a boob job. I don’t like surgery; I don’t like anesthesia in particular. I do however get Botox every three months and have done so for the past 3 years, and these displays are all over the doctor’s office.

I was going to write a bunch about Botox, plastic surgery, and people’s decisions being their own, but honestly I’m sleepy and my head is foggy. Maybe I’ll write that post later, but the boob shots were too good to hold onto so I’m going ahead and sharing them without the plastic surgery manifesto I had planned. It wasn’t really a manifesto anyway.

I also got to have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants; everything organic and lots of gluten-free options. They also had a cool ceiling:

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ruggles

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I swear everyone didn’t run screaming when I entered the building, I just got there early

I had to stop by the grocery store, and although I was in a rush and had no intention of taking any photos,  I couldn’t resist this one. As a bonus, it was right next to the Glamour Gloves featured in a previous errands post:

tape
I’ll just use this instead of getting a boob job

Errands!

I made a trip to Party City Friday to pick up a mask and a fake mustache or two for photoshoots (don’t ask), but I was also thinking it would be a great place to snap iPhone photos. I could not have been more wrong. It was way too practical and organized to generate any sort of interesting photo opportunities, which I should have expected of a place frequented by harried parents trying to plan last-minute festivities for huge groups of exuberant children on the cheap and in a big damn hurry. Except this one, which came out kinda cool:

favor city

This being a typical strip center for my area, it had the usual stores – PetSmart, WalMart, Party City, Marshalls, Best Buy, Famous Footwear…you get the idea. So of course, they also had an Ulta, which turned out to be no more photogenic than the PC. They always have way too many salespeople in that store lurking about, forcefully offering assistance and preventing any real picture-taking time. Or maybe they just do that to me. Come to think of it, most of the pics I shot today are quite blurry because I felt I was being watched everywhere I went. It must have been obvious to everyone that I wasn’t hanging around to spend money. Gotta brush up on my stealthy pic-snapping skills. Or maybe just bathe.

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Lips on sticks. Someone’s getting way too literal.

I sauntered into the store next door without really looking up at the sign to see what it was – turns out it was a Pier 1, which I admit I thought had gone out of business (I avoid strip centers like this to the utmost of my ability). I knew what it was, however, as soon as I opened the door because of the overpowering Yankee Candle smell and the abundance of throw pillows scattered onto every available surface.

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This reminded me of a joke: Why are fish so smart? Because they don’t buy shit like this.

Honestly, I would rather gouge out my eyes with over-priced black lacquer Pier 1 chopsticks than spend time in a shop like this. My interest in decorating anything is so far below zero it’s almost antagonistic. I just don’t understand why most of the items in these places exist, or how and when people decide they need these things. For example, I encountered these party dishes that had every dish’s purpose labeled in chalky cursive script right on the plate. I don’t get who sees this and thinks oh, I just have to have that. It’s kind of insulting, when you think about it, plus you’re buying plates that are going to order you around when really it should work the other way. I’d end up rebelling against those party dishes. I’d use them in all sorts of degrading ways for which they were not intended, just to show them who’s boss. The tray that says “a smattering of olives,” (yes one of them said smattering) would end up being a dustpan, and it would damn well like it, too, or else I’d put it in the dishwasher which I assume is exactly where one is NOT allowed to put such a fussy item, in spite of it’s being a dish and all.  And I’d correct the lack of capitalization too.

See what I mean? Antagonistic.

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I’d hang this one on my front door, just because

Sorry I don’t have more to say, or if what I said here sounds lame. My carpal tunnel (or whatever it is I have) is killing me tonight – too much time clicking my mouse editing pics – and I can barely type at this point. Did I mention I am turning 44 this month?

Signing off for now, yours always & etc.,

A Chunk of Cheese

7/13/2013: Errands!

If that title doesn’t draw you in I don’t know what will.

After yesterday’s post about balance, Friday I decided to take care of some items on that lengthy to-do list I’ve got going. I went to get my car inspected since it was due last month, but there wasn’t one photo opportunity in that auto shop that I could find. However, I got more photo opportunities at the Firestone dealer I had to visit when my car failed inspection due to four worn-out tires (I knew they were bad, but I didn’t think they were fail-car-inspection bad). This place provided a few interesting shots (very few), so I thought I’d share them.

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They said I needed four, but I’m a rebel so I only got three

This Firestone dealer is in a little old building off of what at one time was a small-town main drag, so it’s all homey and nice, with French doors everywhere, and a wraparound porch with rocking chairs. Of course I didn’t take any photos of that stuff, because I was too busy being fascinated by the bathroom, which was the HUGEST auto shop waiting room bathroom I have ever seen. I tried to get some pics that would accurately represent its scale, but they kinda don’t and they’re boring so I’m not going to post those. But I did get this cool pic of its glass brick window; I love how the light shone through just enough to create that contrast with the wall.:

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Those fragrance sticks had no scent left whatsoever. Still, pretty window.

And I liked the pics I took of the overhead fixture in there too – the tungsten light gave the shot a nice warm glow, and I didn’t have to edit it to get this tone (although I did edit a bit, I didn’t change the tone of original):

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I know it’s just a light fixture, but in my defense, tires are expensive so my mind was elsewhere

That’s all I got really. Except that I did also listen to a few sessions of a lecture series on treating anxiety that I signed up for back in June and never accessed. Hopefully I learned something I can use tomorrow when I pick up my car and get the bill.

Groceries!

Grocery store time again! I told myself I was going to a different grocery store because it was closer to some other stops I had to make, but truth be told I was hoping to get  more pics for the blog and thought a different location might yield more results. Turns out I was wrong about that because not much in this particular store caught my eye. I did manage to snap a few shots, though:

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Ah, sausage gravy. Just like Grandma used to freeze.

Things started picking up a bit when I zeroed in on all those little add-on geegaws that hang from the shelves all over the store. Like this for example – I love how these “Glam Gloves” reach glamorously down for a roll of toilet paper. In defense of rubber-glove glam, I believe the toilet paper was two-ply with aloe:

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GLAMOUR!

This weird, aisle-specific impulse item tapped right into my twelve-year-old boy humor:

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When your dryer lacks a pair

Then this one really got the adolescent giggling going:

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You can find this in the aisle marked “Late Night.” 

Now, I get the eco-friendly functionality of this next item, but the “Before” graphic really did me in:


Dude, just EMPTY THE BIN already. Plus the “After” bin is totally empty, so I call foul

After mis-reading the label here I immediately whipped out my iPhone to Google what, if any, new piece of Save-Texas-Women-From-Their-Own-Feeble-Minds-and-Naughty-Lady-Bits legislation might had been passed overnight to mandate such an ESSENTIAL item:

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Panty Essentials – Welcome to Texas, ladies, now plug it up good!

Once I got that straightened out, it was time to pack up and leave. But not before this happened:

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Hard to argue with the logic here

I actually saw this one on my way out the door but chose to pass it by as I’d already put up my phone and had a cart full of groceries to deal with, plus it was in a high traffic area and stopping to snap it would have jammed up the customers.  But  by the time I’d loaded everything into my trunk it was bothering me so much not to photograph it that I went back inside to get the picture. On top of all this, the store had Coke 12-packs on sale for buy 2 get 1 free, and there was Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Mint ice cream in abundance so overall, I’d consider this trip a success.