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Fireworks In and Out of Focus

Fourth of July

How Does Your Garden Grow?




1966 Murray Skymaster

Annika Rides a Bike!

Moonlight Over Camp

Nine Foot Dome Climber on the Toyota

Anni & Friend

Bubble Dome

Doggy Paddle

Farewell Cassidy and JD


Anni Bikes Again

Daybreak Lavender Farm


Happy Birthday Harry Potter

Happy Birthday Harry Potter

7-31-2013 ~ Blog # 557


In honor of Annika finishing the first Harry Potter book and Harry's birthday today we had a little Harry Potter family party.  We had: Butterbeer, Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and a Harry Potter birthday cake while we watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.







7-29-2013 ~ Blog # 556



In an all-out sprint I hit 5.8 MPH in the AiroLITE rowboat today.  It cruises easily at 3 MPH and I can maintain 4 MPH at a workout effort.  Loading and unloading is almost comical.  Nearly everyone at the lake loads boats onto trailers towed by trucks.  I can just step onto the dock, pick up this 50 pound, 14 foot long by 4 foot wide boat right out of the water, lift it over my head and carry it to the roof of my car.  I love this boat! 

(It was a banner day; I biked 24 miles, rowed 2.8 miles and roller skied 1.8 miles.)






Daybreak Lavender Farm

(It looked purple if you ask me)

7-28-2013 ~ Blog # 555



We have a lavender farm in Streetsboro, Ohio, and I have wanted to visit it for several years.  They allow you to harvest the lavender from the end of June to about the beginning of August.  I think we missed the prime picking weeks, but today was the first day we could fit it into our schedule. It is owned by two self proclaimed hippies who have turned a fourteen acre piece of land into not only a farm, but a park with a pond and hiking trails trough the woods. The lavender smells wonderful and the girls were allowed to pick for free all of the wildflowers they could carry. We picked a small bouquet to dry and bought several live plants to put in our gardens so we will have some of our own next year.















Farewell Cassidy and JD


7-28-2013 ~ Blog # 554



Cassidy and JD left yesterday to spend the school year in Florida with their mother.  We has a farewell party for them and Svea sorted through years of hallbuzz photos and put together a photo album.  We look forward to seeing them again on holidays and summers.













Hasbro Super Soakers MONSTER ROCKETs were recalled almost 10 years ago.  Being "dangerous" makes them all the more appealing.  I bought this water/air pressure rocket at a garage sale and had to tinker with it quite a bit.  The release didn't work and the pump was broken.  The box says it will fly 100 feet, which may be an exaggeration, but it did fly well and high.






Anni Bikes Again







Doggy Paddle

7-25-2013 ~ Blog # 553



We took Abby kayaking for the first time today.  Actually it probably was her first time swimming as well.  My Sprinter kayak has a rear hatch; we put her in, calmed her down and then I paddled out.  Annika was a bit intimidated in the Kiddiyak and it took several minutes to talk her off the ledge.  Abby was fine until we actually got underway, then I felt movement behind me.  I looked back to see her walking down the long rear deck of the boat to where it was so narrow that she fell in.  Survival instinct kicked in and she doggy paddled up to me.  I hoisted her into my lap and then Svea pulled alongside in the three-hole boat.  I sat Abby in the front hole where she remained for several more minutes, until she decided to go for another walk.  Joan rescued her after her second dunk.  Joan was able to hold her securely between her knees where she remained for the next hour or so.  Brigitta wanted a turn with the dog, so Abby finished our trip in her fourth kayak of the day.

















Bubble Dome

7-21-2013 ~ Blog # 552











Moonlight Over Camp

7-20-2013 ~ Blog # 551

(David & Joan)

Brigitta spent the past five days at Girl's Scout Camp; it seemed like an eternity.  She had a lot of fun, but we missed her so much.    Below are some of the pictures she took at Camp Ledgewood.  Her week at camp was called Moonlight Over Camp and it was filled with nighttime adventures...night swimming, a trip to the observatory to see the stars, night hike, etc. and her days included swimming and crafts like the bowl she made from clay/mud the gathered from a swamp hike.  Brigitta signed up with her friend, but also made a few new ones over the course of the week.














Nine Foot Dome Climber on the Toyota


Yesterday I bought a nine foot diameter Eezy Peezy Steel Dome Climber at a garage sale.  I asked a couple of men at the sale to help me lift it onto the car upside-down, and strapped the heck out of it.  It was quite the spectacle on the drive home.  The kids will get to use it as a climber until it get's re-used as the top of the observatory. 




Anni & Friend


Annika got a playdate with her friend from school on Friday.  It was really hot so they spent a lot of the time outside in the sprinklers and the bubble pool.





Annika Rides a Bike!

7-18-2013 ~ Blog # 550



On the first week of summer vacation, we worked on Annika's bike riding skills.  She was reluctant, shed many tears and we went through a lot of tissues.  She made a lot of progress, however, and got pretty close to riding solo. Then we went to Georgia, she came back with some ankle wounds that needed to heal and we got distracted by other things.  Anni certainly didn't bring it up.  Tonight I insisted that we give riding another try.  We started in the driveway with lots of tears and tissues, and then she got it.  So we packed up the family, minus Brigitta, and went to Howe Road Park parking lot for more room to pedal.  She rode several laps without stopping.  Starting off is still an issue, but she's got that feeling.  She's a bike rider now.



















A couple random JD, Annika and Abby shots:




Fixing the Honda:



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7-13-2013 ~ Blog # 549



This summer, the girls FINALLY passed their mastery tests for of addition and multiplication and we made good on our offer for a puppy. After we returned from our Georgia vacation, we looked on Petfinder and put in an application on a very young puppy. The rescue never responded to our application and only after two requests from us and two weeks elapsed time did we learn that the puppy was no longer available. The girls were both crushed and angry. We began our search again and found a wonderful rescue, Paws and Pride, who had a little mixed breed puppy named Abby from the backwoods of Kentucky. They corresponded with us right away and things fell into place quickly. We applied for her on Tuesday and met her and took her home on Thursday evening. She is an English Setter and Border Collie mix, three months old and simply lovely. She has a very gentle personality, but she is growing in confidence daily and we can see her playful puppy side emerging as she becomes more at home here. The girls will take turns sleeping in the living room near the crate because Abby still needs to go out once in the night. Brigitta has taken the first week's watch. We are working diligently on potty training, leash walking and simple commands. Abby seems to responding well to all. I think she is happy here.







Our hike today was in Towner's Woods.

It was very buggy so we also went for a walk along the Kent Waterfront.



We could tell that Abby had never ascended or descended stairs before.  She was very timid at first and improved with every set.






1966 Murray Skymaster




Last weekend I bought a 1966 Murray Skymaster at a garage sale for $15.  For some reason it inspired me and I decided to restore it.  The spokes were pretty loose and the wheels were a bit wobbly, so I tightened the spokes and somewhat trued the wheels. I took the entire bike apart and cleaned and repacked the 14 bearing sets.  They all appeared to be in perfect shape so I continued on and sanded and repainted the frame.  Joan convinced me to paint it green topped with a glitter green coat.  I added a clear coat on top of that to keep it smooth and shiny.  The tires had pretty bad dry rot, so I picked up some old fashion style cheapies.  The bike originally had twin headlights, that were missing, so I glassed on the front of two 9-LED flashlights and fashioned a tail-light as well.  The fake gas tank houses two D batteries and a switch.  I added a third D battery and wiring.  It wasn't a brilliant use of time, but like I said, sometimes I just get inspired.








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Fireworks In and Out of Focus

7-7-2013 ~ Blog # 548



On Friday we drove to Hudson to watch the city's fireworks.  It wasn't an impressive show, but I got to try a new-to-me fireworks photography technique.  The idea is that you start the photo out of focus and then bring it into focus during the burst.  I used my 80-200mm f2.8.  The twist focus ring is also a push-pull zoom, so I think I may have zoomed a bit on some of the photos. 

After viewing Friday's photos I was eager to try it again.  We weren't planning on attending Kent's display as a family last night, however (especially with the thunderstorms that ended at 9:00), but I decided to go by myself.  To avoid problems with traffic, parking and exiting, I decided to drive to a bike trailhead and bike nearer to the fireworks launch point.  My plan worked perfectly except that they started the fireworks 15 minutes early.  I stopped on a bike bridge that crosses the Cuyahoga River, set up and shot from there.  The show was very short; I missed the first few minutes while biking and setting up my tripod and camera.  I only took 77 shots, but it was better than nothing.  My ride and drive back was fun and quick; I think I may do that again some time. 



Normal shot in Hudson (above)

Focus effect below






This one below is a collage:



Kent show from the Cuyahoga River bike bridge:









(This one below is normal)





This one below is a collage:


Fourth of July

On Thursday we went to the Smiths' annual Fourth of July party.  I learned of a new game called Can Jam.  It is played with a Frisbee and a partner.  The idea is to get your Frisbee in the opposite "can", but if your shot is missing, your partner can deflect/slap/dunk it in.  Three points in, two points for hitting the side of the can unassisted, and one point for hitting the side of the can assisted.  Straight in unassisted is an automatic win. 











How Does Your Garden Grow?

As of today, this is ours:




Last night Svea went with a friend to the Taylor Swift concert in Pittsburgh. 

This morning I picked her up in Brunswick and we stopped by the Towpath for a short ride.








While Svea was at a friend's for the concert and sleepover, Brigitta had her friend over to spend the night. 

They dressed up as hooligans and knocked on neighbors' doors pretending to be from out of town.






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