Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Mexico English

Barry and Chris had a meeting in Albequrque, NM and they brought Robin and I along. While they were in an all day meeting, Robin and I went to the St James Tea Room. This is a secret oasis in this desert. ( It's really not a secret, but it is certainly a different place for this city.) Robin and I enjoyed a two hour English tea, where we were able to relax and take our time with our food in a quiet
, cozy atmosphere. This month's theme was Victory Garden.

These were the rabbits in the garden.

The orchid was edible.

Then we ventured back to the New Mexico desert.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Shining Stars

Although this week has been horrific with so many tragic deaths, Tuesday evening provided a needed respite from the grim news.

Ben's class had their school play, and it just happened to be about George M. Cohen. So the evening was full of second grade children singing patriotic songs. Although I know all the parents and grandparents would have loved the play no matter what songs they were singing, the timing could not have been better since it was the day after the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

May these Shining Stars grow up to respect each other and their country, and always appreciate what others have sacrificed to enable them to live in the United States of America.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tech Tuesday-Photo Stream Albums

Last week we edited our photographs on our iPhone and IPad. This week we are going to learn to share a photo stream web album. 

We will use the in-built Photo Stream album for ease. Some of the buttons are in different places on the iPhone and iPad. But, you can do this on both. You will most likely need to be running at least iOS 6 on your devices. 

Make sure your Photo Stream is turned on in your settings. Go to Settings>Photo & Camera.
Open photos. 

The photo stream button is at the bottom of the screen on your iPhone and top of the screen on your iPad. (You will find little differences like this between the two, so just look for the buttons)  Tap the photo stream button to get to the photo stream If you are using your ipad. 

Open up your new album which is empty. Tap the add photo button at the top. Tap the + button to add an album to your Photo Stream and name it.  Type the iCloud address of the person whom you wish send the album. 

If you wish to make your album visible to friends and family that do not have an iCloud or me address, make sure public website is on. 
Open up your new album which is empty. Tap the add photos button. 
Tap the photos you wish to add and tap done. 

Select the album to share
Type in email addresses.
Tap share.
Choose how you want to share the album website, email, message, facebook, etc. Put in the information and send.

This is really handy if you want someone to be able see a lot of photos quickly. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Prayers in the Wind

Back in February I had a birthday. I mentioned that I received a very special gift from this little one.

Scarlett takes art lessons, and she had been telling her mom that she was making me something in art class. They worked on it several weeks. Shannon and I waited anxiously to see what it was. Then on my birthday I received this:

A hand sewn Prayer Flag. I love it. I have had a hard time writing about it because I know her mom wanted it. Also, I am sure her other grandmother, or great-grandmother, or various aunts, or various great-aunts would have loved to have received it. Yet, she gave it to me. I cannot tell you how much I treasure it. It might seem strange I haven't posted it before now, because very personal things are hard to share. But, I do want Scarlett and Shannon to know how much I love it.

My quandary is where to hang it. It is supposed to hang in the breeze and send your prayers into the wind. But I cannot put it outside. I am keeping it safe, because one day, I will give it back to Shannon.
Shhh, don't tell Scarlett. She might not understand right now about those special things that her mom may want to save and give to her later with a memory.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tech Tuesday-Edit Your Photos

It has been recommended that I rename Tech Tuesday to Old Fart Tech Tuesday. But, I refuse, you whippersnappers!

Since we love taking and sending photographs with our iPhones, today we will focus on editing those
photographs. There are many apps out there that are fun and make our photographs possibly more interesting, but you don't need them for general editing. Plus, don't let editing erase the story you have captured.

That being said, at the end of this post, I will share one of my favorite apps right now.

First of all, here are the important parts of your iPhones photo application.
This photo was taken directly from the user manual on the phone itself. (just to remind you of all the good information there) Also, these techniques work on you iPad also.

When you tap edit in the right hand corner you will see this interface at the bottom of your screen.

1. Rotate- If your photograph is in the wrong orientation, fix it by tapping the edit button. 

photo by avalu

Use the arrow to turn your photo the correct direction.

3. Use the wand (auto enhance button) to enhance your photograph. This photograph didn't need much enhancement, but you might be able to see it lightened it slightly.

3. Red-eye-No red-eye in this photo, but if your subject has red-eye (which usually you can keep from happening by turning the flash off), tap the red icon at the bottom and then tap each eye that needs fixing.  If the result is poor, tap the same place again.

4. Crop- To crop a photo tap the crop tool. Grid lines that you can move with your fingers will appear. Use them to place the most interesting part of a shot in the intersection of the lines for a stronger composition.

 If you want to crop your shot to a standard print size, choose the constrain option. A pop-up box will
appear. Choose the size you desire.

When cropping people, there are guidelines. The green lines show good crop lines, while the red show crop lines that might make the photograph look akward.
Cropping may not be the best option. For instance, I wouldn't crop this photograph because there is a lot of "story" in it for me. The Easter baskets would be lost, and the fact that this was Lucy's first Easter at really hunting eggs would be lost. Also, because I know that Ava gets dressed the moment she pops out of bed early every morning, makes me smile that she is already dressed in this photograph. How long before her mother is dragging her out of bed to get dressed every day and this stage will just be a memory? 

During your edits, if you don't like what you just did, shake your phone and the photograph will reset. How cool is that? But, if you love what you have done-press the SAVE BUTTON or all will be lost.

Now for my new favorite app-

This is the app that I used on Brett's video of Scarlett pulling her tooth. It takes your videos and makes them into little movies with songs and effects that you can share. It does cost extra if you want to save the movie to your camera roll or use your own music, but I just load them to youtube. Plus, I am sure I will tire of it soon, so I don't want to invest too much in it. 

Here's one of Cora- 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wiggle Tails and Total Domination-No Fooling!

Where does the time go? I have no joke nor an answer. However, I am thinking that if I took the time to read some of my past blogs, a flourish of family activities usually is what makes the time fly.

We went to Houston to attend a funeral. Barry's Aunt Libby passed away. I think I totally depressed Barry and his brothers when I pointed out to them that they were now the elders of the family.

I am totally depressed that I did not take one picture of Barry and his brothers (the now Elders) or the cousins together. I have no excuse for not getting the Brier boys together, but it is almost impossible to chase down Ben, Scarlett, Ava, and Lucy when they are together. Joanie captured a cute one though.

When we got back, we attended one of Ben's baseball games. He hit a homer for me.

 He also caught a fly ball which is quite a feat at this level it seems. So much so, his mother had promised him a monetary reward for doing it. I hear she is trying to negotiate the amount promised to him. Ben may be in the market for an agent soon. Uncle Miles is trying to teach him about interest on payments due. There is so much more to baseball than meets the eye.

Easter Sunday, those family members in town met up at Miles and Michelle's house. There was an egg hunt for Ben and Scarlett

Scarlett honed her tree climbing skills.

Poppy monopolized Cora.

There was a Washer Game and Cora was mesmerized by my skills. I dominated. But, to be perfectly honest, none of us were good. Maybe Cora was just appalled.

We forced these three to be still a millisecond. 

Joanie and Jacob (in Houston) strapped Ava and Lucy into car seats to snap a photo and text it to us, and the Easter photos were complete.

Or, so we thought until we received this video from Brett.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"I Want To Be Alone"

Tech Tuesday-Do Not Disturb
Many of us have sounds and notifications set for incoming emails, texts, and games.
While this is fine during most of the day, it an be a real problem at night. Since 98% of my emails are from stores, I really don't need to hear that ping when I am trying to sleep.  
Plus, I don't need to be awakened by the occasional wrong number at 2:00am that makes my heart start racing.  

The solution?  Do Not Disturb. This is an IOS 6 feature that enables you to stop calls, text, and notification sounds without changing all your settings.  The best part is you can choose which calls can come through, so family can always reach you.  ( you can set this feature on your iPad also. ) 

Here's how you do it-

Go to you settings: 

Turn Do Not Disturb On 

Tap Notifications

Under Do Not Disturb tap by Time 

Then Tap Do Not Disturb

This will give you the option to set times and who you can receive calls, text, emails, etc from anytime.  

The people you want to be able to receive calls, etc, from need to be in your favorites list. To make a favorites list- choose a contact, scroll down and tap the add to favorites button. If they have more than one phone you wish to add you must repeat  for each number. 

Of course, you can just turn all those notification sounds off and not fool with any of this, but how will you know when it is your turn in Words With Friends? 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Our camping trip actually began at Perdinales State Park. We were thrilled that the Esparzas joined us for the weekend.

We enjoyed hiking around the park. Ava was kind enough to take Magic with her.

Lucy found some shells.

But, her favorite thing was the S'mores. When she didn't get to make some for breakfast the next morning, she was sad.

Saturday evening it poured down rain, but we were dry and comfortable in the camper.

Rain boots came in handy for an early morning stroll.

 Lucy was too tired to go for another hike in the morning. She demanded some quiet time.

 She spent some quality time with Poppy and Jama.

Then she was ready for lunch and the Perdinales Falls.

 The Falls were a little dry,

but perfect for climbing.

We were even able to get a picture of all five of us. This could be a first. 

 We hope these little sweethearts enjoyed their first camping trip. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Old Fart and A Foolish Fart

Today you have a double post by Two Old Farts.
By Barry-
You know what Smacks OF Old Fart?  My six month fascination with Porta-Botes. I know we have mentioned the Porta-Bote before but now I am able to tell the whole SOOF version.  I first saw this Porta-Bote, which is a folding (to about the size of large surf board), polyurethane, 12 foot long and 5 feet wide boat. Since it folds I thought, the perfect boat (Bote) for RVing. You can look them up on the internet. Supposedly there are 90,000 of them out there. They are  lightweight, versatile, user friendly and unsinkable (they claim). 

Here is where the SOOF part begins. I just had to have one. Also I thought, if there are 90,000 of them out there, I should be able to find a used one. The first one I found on eBay was in California. Owner didn’t want to ship. Wouldn’t even return my calls or emails. Made me want one more. Found another in Florida. Guy agreed to ship if I paid all costs. I talked with him several times on the phone and found out we had a lot of similar interests. He was recently laid off from NASA. He was interesting to talk with. We agreed on I price and I stupidly (SOOF) sent him a check. I really wanted this Bote. A week went by & I never heard any more from this seller. I called and got his voice mail. I emailed and didn’t get any responses. I was starting to worry I had been scammed. Then Jan received a call for a man claiming to be the seller’s father and he told us his son was mentally ill, had already sold the Bote locally and he would send my check back. I thought I was doomed to lose that money. I quickly put a stop payment on the check which miraculously had not been cashed. Also miraculously the man did send the check back. You would think that this would sour me on the Bote idea. Not me. I found one in Flower Mound (right here in the metroplex). This was in November. Nice older guy that bought the Bote to use as a dingy on his sail boat. However, the Porta-Bote was too long or big to set up on his sail boat deck. He never used it. He also had a 6 HP outboard motor for the Bote. I had my Bote.

Shortly after getting the Bote home I recruited Phil Schneider, Michelle’s father in law who knows a lot more about boats than me, to help with the maiden voyage. We took the Bote out to Joe Pool Lake and put it together. All went well until we got maybe 20-30 yards out in the water and a game warden came up. No registration He didn’t give us a ticket but he did make us take the Bote out of the lake. At least I now knew the Bote didn’t leak. It took me another 3 weeks to get all the information together to register the Bote,pay taxes, get registration numbers on the sides, etc. Now it was too cold to try out again. Until this week.

Went camping to Inks Lake State Park in the Texas hill country. Put the Bote together and this time I recruited Jan to go along for a ride. For the first 10-15 minutes all went great. The Bote was performing well. We got out into a little choppy water in the middle of Ink’s Lake. I probably gave it a little  too much gas & tried to made a turn. You might have guessed what happened next. When I turned the  Bote the back end dipped a little too much. The speed was also too fast. The Bote starting taking on water. I tried to get the Bote to level off but it just kept taking on more water. We tried to bail out some water but it all happened too fast and we didn’t have a chance. No the Bote didn’t sink. It just filled with water & turned over. Jan & I went in the drink, so to speak. I was nervous about hypothermia but it really wan’t all that cold. I think this lake stays at a ;constant 66 degrees. Anyway Bote & motor upside down. Jan and I  hanging on. Luckily a fisherman saw us & came over and pulled us to shore. He said the spill looked very scary from his view. I’d say we were in the water about 10 minutes. Motor upside down in the water too. Jan actually took the incident very well. Other than saying she “would never, ever, I mean never get in that Porta-Bote ever again”. I really don’t blame her. Some men on shore helped me right the Bote & get the water out. Believe it or not the motor started on the 3rd or 4th pull. I felt it was better to run the engine for a while to prevent more damage.I drove the Bote back at a very slow speed, Jan walked back.
The next day I tried the Bote with a small trolling motor my buddy Jerry Berger gave me. It worked fine. If I had never used the outboard with too much power I think we would not have tipped over. Jan would still be On Board, so to speak. But alas, I think I now have the Porta-Bote fever out of my system. Any reasonable offer will be considered.

On the way home we passed this funeral home and tombstones were all ready for Old Farts!

-By Jan
These past few days we have been camping in the Texas Hill Country. Part of the trip was spent at Perdinales State Park where the Esparzas met up with us and had nothing to do with Old Farts. (more on that tomorrow) . 

The other part of the trip was at Inks Lake. If the word lake makes you think of the Porta-Bote than you are on the right track.  

Barry was anxious to try out the Porta-Bote now that he had it registered. As he was setting it up he garnered a lot of attention. 

That was good because he needed a little help getting it into the water. 

Then he tested it out. 

Since he seemed to be getting the hang of it, I decided to go for a ride.  

Everything was going pretty good, but as we got in choppy water in the middle of the lake and made a turn, the Bote began filling with water. Actually it tipped over about halfway, I almost fell out, then recovered, but by that time the Bote had too much water in it. Barry and I made a few vain attempts to bail the water out, but soon we just had to abandon Bote. I grabbed a paddle floating by and started swimming toward shore, but Barry started yelling "Stay with the boat. Always stay with the boat!" While I think that's good advice, I don't think Barry realized I was really hoping that the Bote would just sink to the bottom of the lake.  But, Porta-Botes don't sink. I think that is their one safety feature. 

A kind man fishing with his son had seen us going down, reeled in his lines, and got over to us as soon as he could. I think we really had scared him. He towed us to shore where two other men helped Barry turn the Bote back over and get it all set up again.  One of the men's wives said she had seen a Bote like that on Funniest Home Videos.  
That was the final straw for me.  Porta-Bote, you are dead to me.   

Since I wasn't getting back in the Bote, I left Barry to drive it back and walked to our campsite with what little dignity I had left.  Trust me, you don't have much dignity when you are a Porta-Bote owner.