December 26, 2007

Christmas in New England: The Photos

Now that we're back home in sunny Arizona (wearing t-shirts and sandals, no less), I was able to download some pictures taken during our trip to New England for Christmas. Here they are...

What blog post of mine would be complete without a bird-shot? So here is a Black-capped Chickadee in the Fogarty's backyard in Kingston, NH.

Mom and Sonja in front of the tree at their house in Maine.

Sonja knitted a lace scarf for Mom. Here she is opening it up on our first Christmas Morning of the vacation. This one was on last Thursday.

We also got them a Navajo ornament for their tree. But putting it up there required moving around some of the other ornaments. Here's Dad looking for a spot for one of the many lighthouse-themed tree-hangies.

After spending a couple days in Maine with Mom and Dad we drove down to New Hampshire to visit the Fogartys. Nick was psyched for our presence...and the lame $25 gift certificate we gave him for Christmas.

We then drove back to Maine to celebrate another Christmas, this time on Saturday. I know Sean would have wanted me to post this picture.

Sean, Annika and Marc spreading some Christmas joy.

Marc was less than enthusiastic about how obsessed Rik was with his new Nigella cookbooks.

But they both enjoyed learning about the nifty designs on their new Navajo ornament.

We were even visited by Santa Lucia, complete with her battery-powered, green plastic candle crown.

Back row: Dad, Marc, Sean, Ed, Uncle Ray, Sue, Rik
Front row: Sonja, Mom, Annika, Aunt Catherine

And what Christmas would be complete without the requisite kitty-in-wrapping-paper photo?

December 21, 2007

Christmas in New England

December has been a rough month for me and my blogging. Of course, it doesn't help that I've been out of town for a good portion of the month. Right now I'm staying in New Hampshire at my sister-in-law's house, enjoying some quality family time. Tomorrow we're headed back to Maine for a couple days. Tons of snow around here, but it's a nice break from the rain we'd been getting in Arizona.

And, since I don't have any way to download the pictures from my camera, yet, I figured I'd post a home movie dating back to 1984 that my brothers and I made on an old 8mm camera. It was one of the few times my dad allowed us to "waste" some film just goofing off. It was the only time I ever really got to play around with claymation, due primarily to my older brother Steve's knowledge of the camera and interest in goofing around with us. I just love how it really captures the feel of a lazy summer day in the mid-80's from the perspective of some creative kids (and one technically saavy college kid).

I finally got around to converting it to digital format with my new pinnacle software. Unfortunately, the quality isn't all that great considering it was originally transferred over to VHS in the late 80's before I transferred it to digital format a couple weeks ago. Both versions had already degraded considerably before the respective transfers, too, so this time around it's pretty washed out. But I was able to redub the audio with a fun Cat Stevens' song, and I think it works well with the video.

December 16, 2007

Organ Pipes and Cactus Wrens

I just got back from spending four days at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument helping with their seasonal interpretive training. It was my first time to the southwestern corner of Arizona. While it's still part of the Sonoran Desert, it's much more lush than other places I've been in the state. A tremendous variety of cacti, including the rare organ pipe cactus pictured above, and scrub bushes like mesquite and creosote. The organ pipes themselves are pretty darn cool. And a lot bigger than I had expected them to be. While they don't get nearly as tall as a 30-40 foot saguaro, they can easily reach heights of ten to fifteen feet.

Even though I didn't see any new birds (they just don't get the number of unique Mexican species that you can find in southeastern Arizona), the personality of the birds they did have more than made up for it.

This Cactus Wren (which happens to be the Arizona state bird) decided to come check out my can of soda while I was coaching some of the park's employees at a picnic table behind the visitor center. I think he wins the prize for the most charismatic wren I've ever encountered.

How can you compete with something like this? As cool as Canyon Wrens are, there's just no contest.

December 08, 2007

Bloggers Block

I have been afflicted with a rather serious strain of uncreativity lately, which explains why I haven't been blogging much. I haven't been able to find any motivation to blog for the past couple weeks. I open up this page and stare blankly at it for about ten minutes every few days, then I turn off the computer and go do something else.

Well, I'll be heading down to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll come back with some cool pictures. In the meantime, I'll let the boys from South Park entertain you with a dire warning about the dangers of not stopping Manbearpig.