Moments of Joy: March 2016

Last month, I shared with you the fun of our annual family Valentine meal.  Today we will continue with the food theme, this time away from home.

collage of David's Burgers food and some vinyl records on red checkered backgroundWhat a way to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday: by taking her to the doctor.  There’s nothing better than having a vial of blood sucked from your arm to celebrate your existence, right?  And standing down the hall from the overcrowded waiting room for 45 minutes, eagerly straining to hear the nurse call your name just adds to the pleasantness of the day…

[Yes, that’s sarcasm. But, rather than going into details about medical issues and inconveniences, how about I just skip to the fun part of the day?]

…”Where would you like to go for lunch?” I ask as I turn the car out of the doctor’s office parking lot and merge onto the freeway.  This is usually a decision that takes some time, since no one in my family is very choosy.

Today, however, my mother-in-law has a craving that helps narrow down the choices.  “I’m really wanting a burger.  I’ve been in a hamburger mood for the last few days.”

We toss around several restaurant names before the idea hits me to take her to a place my husband had introduced me to just the week before.

“Oooo, I know a place you will love!” I declare and head toward the David’s Burgers diner for lunch.  I think of it as a “diner” because, as their website states: “Our restaurants are designed in the spirit of the butcher shops of the 1950’s and 60’s.”

It is a bit like stepping back in time when we enter the building, not just because of the decor, but also the excellent, kind-hearted service we receive from the staff.  I know this place will definitely hit the spot to satisfy her burger craving.

Upon entering the restaurant, we look around at the shiny red booths, the fresh meat displayed behind the service counter, and the mountain of fresh potatoes piled against the kitchen wall. We are greeted with an enthusiastic welcome from several people in the open kitchen area. My mother-in-law smiles as oldies rock and roll music wafts through the air to tickle her ears and revive old memories.

We order our burgers and settle in a booth, setting up our order number on the edge of the table.  We both wonder why the waitress also gave us a piece of waxy paper that looks like a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth until another waitress comes by with a large bowl and gives us a small pile of unlimited fresh french fries.  Mmm…just like homemade!

The burgers quickly arrive, and soon our mouths are too full to sing along with the 50s tunes playing over the speaker system.  “So, what do you think?” I ask between bites.

“This place reminds me of the diner I went to as a teenager. They had the best burgers in town, and these taste just like it!”

A friendly waiter comes over to check on us. I ask about the history of the restaurant and find out there are only six of them at the moment, scattered around central Arkansas.  He also informs us of one that will soon open near our home — yay! He encourages us to come back again and bring some friends for a birthday party or get-together.

When I inform him that it already IS my mother-in-law’s birthday, his eyebrows shoot up in surprise, and a smile spreads across his face.  “Well, happy birthday!” he exclaims.  “Did you get your custard ice cream yet?”

“No. You have ice-cream, too?” she answers.  “I wish I had know that because I would have saved room!  I think I’m too full now to order any.”

He quickly makes it clear that ordering is out of the question. It’s “on the house,” and he assures her that she probably has room for at least a few bites.  Turning to me, he asks, “and what flavor would you like?”

“It’s not my birthday,” I return, “just hers.”

“Oh, that doesn’t matter,” he smiles. “Everyone gets free samples of custard here!”

A few moments later, the waiter returns with an entourage in tow, carrying a bowl custard for the birthday girl, and a smaller cup for me.  My mother-in-law’s eyes sparkle in surprise and happiness as the employees sing a rhythmic birthday tune to her.  I can tell she is enjoying the special treatment.

After we stuff down the sugary treats, we fill our to-go boxes and waddle out to the car.  We settle in the vehicle and buckle seat belts across our full stomachs in preparation to head home.

“That was nice,” she says, turning toward me from the passenger’s seat.  “I thought this wasn’t going to be a very good birthday, but you turned it into something special.  I really enjoyed that and it brought back good memories.”

“I’m so glad to hear that,” I respond, feeling proud that I was able to brighten her birthday and take her mind off her troubles for a little while.  The ride home is a pleasant mixture of sunny scenery and conversation, as our full tummies busily digest the tasty, old-fashioned treats.

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Photo 101: Double 3.0

Day 19 goal:  Use a photo editing program to rotate your photos from horizontal to vertical (or vice versa) and see how it affects the feel of the image.

Squirrel Footprints

squirrel footprints in the snow

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” –inscription on the General Post Office in New York City

That seems to be the motto of the squirrels, as well!

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Double 2.0 — Two little evergreen berries caught my eye in the sunshine, making a perfect subject for the double theme.

Double 1.0 — You can see doubled animals from my backyard for this theme the first time I participated in Photo 101.

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Photo 101: Edge 3.0

Day 18 goal:  Use a photo editing program to align straight edges in your photo to be perfectly vertical or horizontal.

I took these photos the same day I took the “landscape” images.  It was such a beautiful day for photography!  I was lucky to be able to explore the grounds around two houses that were for sale on top of a long ridge.  I would hate to accidentally step over the edge in either of these first two photos — there was a steep hillside below the fencing.

view of landscape from ridge, with edge of house and short wooden fence

backyard view from first house, edged with wooden railing

view from ridge through tree with metal porch railing in foreground

back porch view from second house, edged with metal railing

Imagine the views I could have captured if I had been able to get up to those porches!

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Edge 2.0 — Aligning the edges in this photo proved more difficult than I first anticipated.

Edge 1.0 — I was surprised by the kind compliments I received about the photos of my daughter’s little betta fish tank that represented this theme the first time I participated in Photo 101.

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Photo 101: Glass 3.0

Day 17 goal:  Add interest to your photos by incorporating glass in an interesting or unusual way.

This time, I focused on the reflections glass provides.

reflection of camera in magnifying mirror, with flash

Making use of my new 10X magnifying mirror. 

I like the way details of the camera lens show up and the extra reflections in the lens when I used the flash in the first photo.

reflection of camera in magnifying mirror

reflection of trees in balcony window of 1884 Wildwood Bed and Breakfast

A balcony window of the 1884 Wildwood Bed and Breakfast in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Glass 2.0 — Textured antique windows and doorknobs look great through a macro lens.

Glass 1.0 — This was a popular post of mine that I enjoyed making the first time I participated in Photo 101.

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Photo 101: Treasure 3.0

Day 16 goal:  Lean more toward macro photography by getting up close and focusing on the details of your photography subject.

macro photo of a grandmother and granddaughter's hands

Multi generations under one roof is something to treasure. The wisdom of age and the exuberance of youth blend together daily, and the combination is a blessing for everyone involved.

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Treasure 2.0 — I learned a lot about photo editing to present this symbolic treasure in an image.  I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

Treasure 1.0 — Making the post for this theme brought a tear to my eye the first time I participated in Photo 101.  It may bring a tear to your eye, too, just because of how scary the photos are! ha ha

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Photo 101: Landscape 3.0

Day 15 goal:  Use creative cropping to emphasize the landscape scene as a whole, rather than having a specific focal point in the image.

ground view of landscape with ponds, fields, and woodlands

I pulled off a narrow, winding road into someone’s steep driveway to take this ground-level view of multiple, overflowing ponds.

landscape of trees, houses, and hills with a budding tree branch in the foreground

I drove along the top of a ridge and found a house for sale. This view is from the back porch of the house.

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In response to a suggestion, I have tried cropping the last photo in different ways.  

landscape of trees, houses, and hills with a budding tree branch prominently in the foreground

landscape of mostly bare woodland trees, along with houses and hills

What do you think?  Did re-cropping improve the image?  Which one do you like best, or would you have tried a different alternative?

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Landscape 2.0 — Even a tiny “mountain” can provide lovely panoramas.

Landscape 1.0 — A vacation photo fit the bill for this theme the first time I participated in Photo 101.

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Photo 101: Scale 3.0

Day 14 goal:  Convey the relative size of objects in your photos by using a carefully chosen point of view.

gnarled, bare-limbed tree in a field with a small tree in the distance

I like how the “smaller” tree in the background (actually a much larger tree) seems to be peeking out from behind the gnarled tree in the foreground.

gnarled, bare-limbed tree in a field with other two other trees

The tree on the left is actually the shortest tree in the field.

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Scale 2.0 — A relaxing trip to the 1884 Wildwood Bed and Breakfast in Hot Springs, Arkansas, provided the scene for these photos.

Scale 1.0 — I had fun creating an illusion with apples and oranges for this theme the first time I participated in Photo 101.