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20 posts from April 2008

30 April 2008

On the line

Dutchman's Breeches 2

Dutchman's breeches.  Dicentra cucullaria.  On the line.  In Mom's garden.  I was on my belly to take the photos.  These are early bloomers (oh, how I amuse myself) and I often miss them!  My mom is kind of going nuts right now, in the midst of cleaning and preparations for a luncheon she's hosting on Friday.  She kind of invited everyone over without really thinking, but once the button was pushed...  They're all going to white-glove the cornices in the living room and inspect the drapes, I'm sure of it...  And that's the type of activity that takes place -- top to bottom, inside and out -- at times like these.  I volunteered to help her out for a bit this morning and she had me in the wildflower garden, picking up debris.

I brought my camera.

29 April 2008

YUM!

I attended my second cooking class last night.  We're each given a hand-out with the menu and the recipes; I tend to take notes, scribble and spill all over mine.  The last word I wrote last night was: YUM.

This time we explored the Emelia Romagna region of Italy -- Parma, Bologna, and Modena!  The menu included Parmesan Dumpling Soup, Balsamic Beet Salad, Fettucine with Parmesan & Proscuitto, Rigatoni Bolognese, Pine Nut Crumb Cake, and Strawberries with Balsamic -- the strawberries served atop the cake (=YUM).

These classes let me indulge a couple of desires to a very small degree... I love the idea of someone preparing a feast for me... and if I imagine that the room is full of my family and friends... and we're outside, instead... outside in Italy... in a vineyard... or overlooking the Mediterranean... I'm almost there... the sun is shining, the air is filled with stories, laughter, happiness... the wine is flowing... the food is...

Ah, the food is... life, a gift, essential, gastronomic, colorful, earthy, rich, symbolic, everyday, smooth, crusty... delicious.

I've watched two movies in the past few months that featured feasts -- the wonderful, festive sharing; Mostly Martha and Antonia's Line.  I'm interested in others... suggestions, anyone?

I think the Balsamic Beet Salad will be my contribution to our Mother's Day celebration this year.  I won't be able to survive much longer without the crumb cake and strawberries, though, so maybe that, too.  Pictures shall soon follow.

Balsamic Beet Salad

2 lbs. fresh beets with greens
1 red onion, slivered
4 oz. gorgonzola cheese, cubed
2 oz. fresh basil, chiffonade*
1 cup balsamic vinegar (not balsamic-flavored vinegar)
salt & white pepper, as needed
1 lb. baby lettuce or mixed greens

Leave a bit of the tops on the beets and boil them in their skins until cooked, approx. 20 minutes.  Drain; rinse in cold water until cool enough to handle, or allow to cool slowly.  Trim the beets, rub skins and peel.  Slice for salad.  Add red onion, gorgonzola, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Serve atop a small bit of the lettuce.

*What isn't on the internet?  Chiffonade a la YouTube:

P.S.  The cotton knitting on huge needles is killing my arm.  I've been taking some breaks, trying not to over do it.  I must start Mack's sweater with the truck on it -- maybe mixing it up with some cotton knitting on smaller needles will work.  Let us hope.

26 April 2008

I could eat a cow

So I'm not Matthew McConaughey's hugest fan -- it depends.  When his hair's a little long and curly and he's a little scruffy in jeans and a t-shirt (or no shirt)... oh yeah.  When the wry little smile gets goin' with the twinkle in th eye AND there's the scruffy... pant, pant, pant yeah, yeah, yeah.  When he's all slicked up, to the nines, clean and polished... not so much.  I have no idea what he looks like as he's doing the voice-over for the BEEF, IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER commercials -- and doing a fine job in the unfillable shoes of Jack Palance, by the way -- but that voice!  Holy cow!!

That commercial played over and over on the radio at work yesterday and it grabbed me every time!  By the end of the day, I wanted to eat a cow.

But this is Wisconsin, land of the Friday night fish fry -- though not so much since Vatican II except during Lent -- so I had perch lunch, instead.

And if Matthew McConaughey hawking beef is not enough, now John Corbett (I like him best when he's a little scruffy, too) is doing Applebee's commercials... 

What diet?

25 April 2008

It smells like worms

My first thought after stepping outside this morning was, "It smells like worms."  One of the morning DJs confirmed it when he said, "It smells like worms!"  I laughed (out loud, all alone, in the car).  And there are worms everywhere.  Takes me right back to school days... dodging worms on the sidewalk as I walked to school.  Does this happen in other parts of the country?  In other countries?  We had overnight thunderstorms -- woke me up a couple of times -- with lingering rain this morning, as well as pretty thick fog in places.  Never mind that the word "snow" was among those found in the 5-day forecast, "smelling worms" is a definite indication of spring.  I'm hopeful for a nice May... full of flowers.

I'm heading down to Madison tomorrow for an overnight visit.  Looking forward to visiting daughter, sisters, nephews.  On the down side, I'm missing the Spring Midwest Masters Seminar in Neenah this weekend and, worst of all, an opportunity to meet up with Cathy-Cate.  Someday.

Happy Weekend (YAY!!)!!

24 April 2008

My bloody green thumb

Bloodroot1 Bloodroot2

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The right knee of my jeans got good and dirty during the annual shooting of the bloodroot in my garden yesterday.  They're growing all over, including in the path!  I let them do what they will.  They're amazing.  My mother has unsuccessfully tried to transplant bloodroot many times and is green with envy over my bloody green thumb.

Yesterday was the nicest day of the year so far, and I was lucky that it was also my day off.  I should have done a little work in the garden -- especially in front -- but oh well, there will be another day.  I washed, dried (on the line) and folded three loads of laundry, moved some furniture around, wasted a lot of time at lunch, did a teensy tiny bit of cleaning, and also a little cleaning out!  Good enough.

The sections of the log cabin blanket are getting pretty long now.  I'm sure loving it.  There's a little tendonitis or something flaring up in my elbow, so I'm trying to take breaks and not over-do.  Class will cut into and limit knitting time tonight.  I have next week off, then only two more weeks 'til semester's end and Summer Vacation!!!

23 April 2008

Let the good times roll

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It was good times with the birthday girls over the weekend.  We all went out for nice dinner on Friday night -- even though Ali had a glass of water spilled in her lap and our server heard "ravioli" instead of "stromboli."  It was all good in the end -- and most importantly, we had a good time together.

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The girls were all here on Sunday night for a cookout, and then Nana & Joe came over to share cake and ice cream.  Mmmm.  Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and real vanilla ice cream.  Katie was in charge of putting candles on the cake.  She used 21 candles to form an "A" for Ali, 23 candles to make a "K" for Katie, and 17 candles made an "M" for Maddy.  It took three people, busy with matches, to get them all lit in a timely fashion.

This morning, the 17yo was preparing to hop into the shower and was freaked out by a spider in the tub.  It was big and black and "had suction cups" and she needed her dad to take care of it.  It definitely was a big, icky spider -- I don't know the name of it, but it makes a tunnel-y web outside and moves lightning FAST -- I would have called for help, too!  I thought about the 23 and 21 and wondered how they're dealing with that sort of thing these days.  I know they're just dealin', because there comes a day when we all have to do it on our own.

Img_0140The little kid's blanket is coming along!  The question asked while knitting out last night was, "How long are you gonna keep it on the straights?"  My reply was, "As long as I can."  I may be nearing the limit.  I didn't really plan the colors, just sort of grabbed a ball of yarn from the bag at random as I went along.  I would do it differently if I were to do it again... and I may have enough yarn to do it again, or I may do something else entirely.  It goes to show how long it's been since I've actually blogged about knitting that I forgot to mention the most fundamental information about this project.  The yarn is Classic Elite "Bubbles," I'm using 11US needles (so it's going pretty fast), and working a log cabin design off the top of my head.  I wove in a bunch of ends at one point, then decided to just knit the ends in as I go along.

Ina, the Jersey Knitter, is once again and very generously sponsoring an "I" Contest for ABC-Along 2008.  Yours truly won the 2006 version with a fun entry about Individuals.  I am judging with Ina this time around and am therefore exempt; her prizes are so luscious, though, that I'm considering an entry entitled: I is for Incognita.  Ina's posted all the easy-to-follow rules and regulations in her entry linked above and also on Ravelry and Flickr.  Have some fun with it!!

21 April 2008

G is for...

Garter2_2

G is for garter stitch and generosity.

Garter stitch is the first "stitch pattern" any knitter learns.  Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit...  I think it's perfectly suited to children's items, and I especially like it for kids when combined with colorful, funky yarn.

Garter1_2It's no big secret that I've been at sixes and sevens with the knitting lately -- dishcloth knitting being the big clue here.  I'm sure it's cyclical and temporary, but I'm feeling quite overwhelmed with life in general and, while the knitting is usually a good antidote to stress, the choosing of a pattern to knit, finding the right yarn, knitting swatches, doing math, ripping, reknitting, refiguring... these are not antidotes to anything at all!

Then I read Rete's post late last week and thought about all those kids in Texas -- and everywhere -- and about her wish for blankets for "The Rainbow Room."  One of my planned stops on Saturday, then, was my most local LYS, Iris Fine Yarns in Appleton, to see if I could find a nice, suitable, washable, sale yarn that I could use to knit a blanket.  The generosity of Phyllis and her staff at Iris provided me with a rainbow of yarn to knit at least one blanket -- maybe two -- and with all these colors, the first can only be a log cabin design!

On Flickr here and here.

18 April 2008

Playing a new game

When all else fails, why not make a numbered list of random things on my mind.

1.  John Mayer's "Wonderland" is playing on the radio.  I really like John Mayer.

2.  One day a couple of weeks ago, Katie & I heard a different John Mayer song playing in every place we stopped.  I went alone to the grocery store later that day and had to call Katie when a (you guessed it) John Mayer song began to play.  It was kind of way freaky.

3.  Neil Diamond is coming to town on a Hot August Night.  (Literally: August 27th.)  ("Town" being Green Bay -- close enough.)

4.  We're contemplating getting tickets to Neil Diamond for Mom for Mother's Day instead of the usual greenhouse/garden center gift certificate.  (Contemplation deadline is May 5th, when tickets go on sale.)

5.  I went out to lunch on Wednesday with Mom and two of our former neighbor ladies (from when I was 10-12).  Mom mentioned that she'd heard some guy on the radio talking about how he'd helped an elderly lady... an elderly lady who was about 70 years old.

6.  Mom is 70 years old and made it remarkably clear that she is not elderly; she enlisted the neighbor ladies (both right around 70, themselves) to agree that they are not elderly, either (though I think deep down inside, they might actually feel it a little more).  I submitted than anyone who is older than you is an elder... maybe even elder-ly.

7.  Neil Diamond is 67 and on tour.  A 70-year-old who will never be "elderly" and who loves The Diamond Cutter couldn't possibly be too old to enjoy it...

8.  I wish we'd get a little stretch of warm, sunny days -- I want to take a few days off, but I want nice ones.

9.  I'm starving.  Lunch is on the way.

10.  TGIF.  Hoping for a nice balance in the weekend -- get a few things done, do a few things just for me.  Wishing the same for you.

17 April 2008

Picture me...

...pleased.

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Head Rest I.

Head_rest_ii Bleeding_heart_walnuts

Head Rest II, and Bleeding Hearts with Walnuts.

These are the first pics (worth saving) with my new camera.  Yep, even with a fancy new camera, I still take "pics."  They're also part of my Garden Set on Flickr, where you'll find a few more details.

Michael_perry_004a_2This week has been crazy-busy, but with room for heaps of fun.  Last night I drove to the Chilton Public Library to hear Michael Perry, one of my favorite Wisconsin authors, read and tell stories, both old and new.  It can be such a wonderful thing to hear a writer read his own work.  Michael is genuine, humble, shy, and so very grateful to his readers -- I think even sometimes astounded -- to be making his living as a writer.  I was able to get a couple of my books signed -- Population: 485 and Truck: A Love Story.  I had to buy a new Population as mine strayed off to a new home long ago!  It was a fun night.

16 April 2008

Not-quite-wordless Wednesday

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How about a photo -- my hair -- this is while killing time at Starbucks yesterday afternoon.  It may not look like a big difference to you, but it most definitely is to me.  The hair strategically swooping above (and sometimes into) one eye is not quite long enough to tuck behind my ear and that's the closest I've been to bangs in about 15 years or so.  I'm trying not to let it drive me nuts.  The above-the-shoulder length is huge -- I think there was about 2-1/2 to 3 inches cut off, plus a LOT of thinning.  I really do love it.

But enough about me.

Twenty-one years ago today -- right about this minute -- I was in the labor room, still popping Tums by the handful, preparing to hoist myself into the birthing chair from which I birthed Ali -- my second-born, second daughter, and second redhead.  It was a glorious day -- much like today, though not nearly as windy.  DH and I called Ali this morning to sing Happy Birthday!

14 April 2008

And there was dancing...

Prom corsage

There was a prom over the weekend -- Maddy's first.  She was beautiful, in a pale pink dress; her (very tall) date/friend wore a pink vest; they both wore pink flowers.  They were adorable.

It was a very busy weekend, with little photographic evidence except for the babies and the prom photos (taken in very poor lighting).  (I'm working on those.)

I got my hair cut on Saturday -- and by "cut," I mean CUT!  Picture soon, I promise -- I'm still getting used to it.  I think I love it, though.  The closest thing to bangs I've had in years, but not really bangs -- just a little wispier than usual (i.e., not long enough to tuck behind my ear!).

12 April 2008

Snow

Aprilsnow

Also on Flickr.  While it hasn't been exactly warm and sunny in these parts lately, the bricks and stones are holding whatever heat they've been able to absorb.  Even the foot paths further down in the ravine are warm and resisting the white stuff!  I love that -- hate the snow right now, but love that.

11 April 2008

Unofficially...

G is for giddy!  H is for happy!!  I is for "I can't wait!"!!

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Even though this is, technically, one of the world's worst pictures, it is quite high on my list of faves!  It's a perfect, definitive picture of that happy, inquisitive, on-the-move little boy!  As of next week, I ought to have a camera that can keep up with him a little better.  (G is for giddy!  H is for happy!  I is for "I can't wait!")

A rumble made me stop for a sec when I got out of the shower this morning; I finally realized that I was hearing thunder!  A flash of lightning and more thunder a little while later confirmed it.  It rained most of the night and has been raining for most of the morning.  It's also cold and there's snow in the forecast.  There's something like hail or freezing rain plinking against the windows right now.  It's going to be a good weekend to stay in and cook, knit, watch movies, and read!

Maybe I'll get inspired and seam Oblique and get to blocking and finishing some of the other projects that are lingering a bit too long.  I took a peek at my Completed In 2008 photo album and it's pathetic!  Good grief, April's almost half over and I've only one FO to show!  That's pretty bad, even for a process knitter.  That nominal knit-blogger Norma might even have more FOs than me at this point.

09 April 2008

Well...

As suspected, there is some hearing loss in the higher frequency ranges, particularly in my right ear.  This is not a surprise to me.  I used to crawl in with Maddy for a nap and, with how our bedroom was arranged at the time, I could pick between being able to keep an eye on things through the door but not hear so well on one side, or hearing better but not seeing a darn thing on the other.  I had things stuck in my ears and up my nose and, well, let's just say I've never had those passages so thoroughly examined before.  I never knew that I had a deviated septum, or that my ear canals are rather small.

Bottom line: there is fluid in both ears which could be contributing to the tinnitus.  I could also just be suffering from tinnitus.  We'll see.  I've a prescription to try, to take care of the fluid in the ears, and a follow-up appointment in three weeks.

Nice doc.  Too bad my next visit with him will be on his last day; he's moving to NC and to start a private practice.  I predict he'll do fine.

Ahem.  I did not mean to be so dramatic or mysterious about quitting the thing I quit the other night.  Good grief.  It was a club that I've belonged to for years... but didn't want to belong to anymore.  Haven't wanted to for quite some time.  That is all.  I'm not quitting The Quit, or the blog, or my job!

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Look what arrived on my porch today!  I could not have received my Sweet Treats Special Swap package on a better day.  Sheri from The Loopy Ewe sent this package of goodies, and in a bit of a switch-up this time around, she will not be the recipient of mine!  Nearly everything has to do with chocolate, because that's my first choice for treats!  All my favorites and I don't have to share -- little bags of Butterfinger, Mounds, Milky Way, and BIG CUP Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!  I didn't even know there was such a thing as BIG CUPS!!  There's some fun stuff for the bath, a book all about chocolate with some delectable recipes, a memo pad, and some stitch markers.  The stitch markers will come in handy when I knit the Ethereal Fichu, a pattern by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, that was sent with a hank of merino laceweight from The Plucky Knitter in a color called Cherries Jubilee.  Jubilee, indeed!  With chocolate on top.  It's wonderful, delectable stuff... and by all recent indications, I think I should be knitting lace!  Thank you, Sheri.  And, as always, thank you to our Swap Mama Lynne.

08 April 2008

What to wear, or what not to wear?

Dsc01526At this time of year, and at my time of life, THAT is the question!  I paid the price yesterday, having ignored the weatherman's hint about the cold and leaving my jacket at home.  It was windy and cold and thank goodness I didn't really have to be outside much.  This morning, when my alarm went off, I heard the tail end of the weather and a forecast for 4-8 inches of snow!  I didn't really hear where or when, but I was not going to get caught again!  Determined to keep the chill off, I put on a turtleneck and Williamsro -- probably the warmest sweater I own (with St. Brigid a very close second) -- AND put on my jacket.  I gathered all my stuff, kissed DH goodbye, and was breaking a sweat -- peeling off my jacket -- by the time I got to the car!  It wasn't cold outside at all!!  I took off my jacket and threw it in the car (lesson learned: it's best to be prepared) and, even though I was a wee bit tardy already, dashed upstairs and put on a v-neck and a much lighter zip-up hoodie -- and grabbed my Hundertwasser Argosy Scarf (again: prepared).

I finally sucked it up yesterday and quit something that I've been thinking about quitting and putting off and almost agonizing over for months -- maybe close to a year.  Worry about disappointing people was my main reason for holding on so long.  Ultimately, I was disappointing MYSELF by continuing to do something that I didn't enjoy anymore.  Maybe the ringing in my ears really IS ringing my bell!  If the ringing is something I can't do anything about, something that I'm going to have to live with, FINE.  It sucks, but fine.  There are plenty of OTHER things in my life that suck, that I CAN do something about, so (as they say):  Just do it.

I did.

And thank you for the terrific comments, support, advice, and links in regard to tinnitus!  I'm glad I made the appointment, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

07 April 2008

The way it is

I saw the sun and it was warm this morning, so I left my coat at home.  We had the best weather weekend so far -- 62 at noon yesterday -- and it felt so good to travel light.  You know, I heard the news teaser about the weather, hinting and cold and even wet, but somehow I forgot... or chose to be uber optimistic... or stubborn.  It's SPRING, dammit!  Well, it wasn't long before clouds moved in this morning -- the cold steely gray ones, ushered in on a pretty good wind to boot.

I've finished and given away my third Mason-Dixon dishcloth of the spring.  They're gone as soon as they come off the needles.  The dishcloth knitting was supplanted by a little bit of stealth knitting last night, which will continue for another few days and which also has given me a bright idea for the finishing of another project!  This other thing was kind of overwhelming at the time and was put aside, but I'm excited now.

Distractions are through the roof at the moment -- personal, professional, physical.  The tinnitus was constant and steady all weekend, and may be is a little louder -- definitely more annoying -- today.  I've made an appointment with the ENT for Wednesday; a bright and early date with the audiologist first.

Dsc02482_0029We had breakfast at "Maddy's restaurant" yesterday.  I love being able to walk there.  I had scrambled eggs, sausage, a toasted croissant, and the little potato thing I was after -- and that gigantic strawberry (which was surprisingly good).  They call it  "spudup" and claim Ohio as the culinary source.  I will require further opportunities for testing.

04 April 2008

One ringy-dingy...

Oh, isn't Lily Tomlin just one of the treasures in this world?  I was going to link to an Ernstine clip on YouTube, but there's so much more... and the next thing you know, I've laughed and watched my way through Cher and Carol Burnett, too.

There's nothing obvious physically that's causing the tinnitis, and I've a referral to the Ear Nose and Throat guys.  I wasn't able to see my regular doctor -- and I sure wish I could have seen my preferred doctor, the one I'd had for years before insurance dictated otherwise.  Grr.  My relationship with physicians has mostly been by association with my kids, who were not frequent visitors, so it's not easy.  And I'll tell ya, even though it's ringing and not voices, it feels weird to talk to someone (especially a strainger) about hearing things.  It's possible that I'm beginning to lose my hearing in the upper ranges or something, the ENTs can check that out more thoroughly.  I'm kind of up in the air about it and haven't made an appointment yet.  If they're going to tell me that I'll just have to get used to the tinnitis -- there's no cause or cure -- basically like the doc and most of you did yesterday...

I think I'm going to try and make some changes in my diet, be more consistent in taking vitamins, maybe get a massage...

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...and try to relax.  Happy weekend.

03 April 2008

Is the whole wide world talkin' about me?

You know how when you get a little ringing in your ear and you think (or say), "Oh!  Someone's talking about me!"  And then it goes away and you continue on with whatever you were doing and don't give it another thought?

It's not going away.  My ears keep ringing.  The whole freakin' world must be talking about me or someone's on a continuous loop or the record is skipping!  Heh, that's what we used to say back in the day.

All joking aside, it's starting to drive me nuts.  It's been an on and off thing over the past several weeks.  Mostly on, usually tolerable; maybe a slight increase from time-to-time, but then it would dissipate; sometimes I wouldn't "hear" it or notice it at all.  Last night, it got kind of loud.  I slept okay, even got up and went to the bathroom once (maybe even twice) and don't recall a problem.  It was there right away when I woke up, though, even before I got out of bed.  It hasn't gotten any better, nor any worse, but it's constant and it's piercing and it is definitely starting to drive me nuts.

So, I'm going to the doc this afternoon to have them check it out.

Meanwhile, my car was in the shop and I was home-bound yesterday.  It had been making a grinding, roaring sound; turns out it needed a new wheel bearing.  Seemed like a good time to finish and file the taxes.  A little YIPPEE, please, they are done!

02 April 2008

Dishcloths on ice

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When I look out my laundry/computer room window today, I have to look VERY hard for snow.  Oh, 'tis wonderful!  The sun is shining and it's warming up.  There is still a big pile of icy snow near the back door -- all the stuff that was shoveled off the porch roof.  It had one of the pergola planters completely buried at one point, but even that has emerged.  Last night, I took a stroll through the back yard and found tulip sprouts!

I think I've determined that I like to knit dishcloths in the springtime.  It's good transition knitting and it's colorful.  I'm about starved for some bright color outside!

01 April 2008

He had me at gnocchi

I had a great time at cooking class last night.  The format is more of an informal demo and talk, sprinkled with questions and answers, and accompanied by samples and wine.  Mmmm, yummy samples.  Mmmm, yummy wine.  As the evening progressed, I also became acquainted with a very small herd of Spotted Cows from New Glarus.  I'm thinkin' I just kind of needed a night out with the girls!

The focus of this session was on northern Italy -- Lombardia and Milan.  We had Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola -- that's potatoes mentioned in two posts in a row -- also, I just had some boiled reds for lunch.  Okay, so yeah, that was at the top of the list and I was delighted to see how they're made (it's not hard!).  We also enjoyed Milanese Steak atop Savoy Cabbage with Eggs & Cheese -- there was cheese in everything, including dessert!  I think my favorite -- though not by much, because everything was delicious -- was Osso Bucco alla Milanese served with Risotto Milanese; I was cutting the beef into very tiny pieces to savor every bite!  For dessert, we had Strawberries with Mascarpone (into which a little sweet dessert wine was mixed) served atop a wedge of Corn Meal Cake.

I had my camera, but the lighting was terrible.  I've been doing a lot of researching, reading and learning about photography -- composition, equipment, software, processing.  I'm afraid the more I learn, the less impressed I am with myself and my abilities, and the more careful I am about taking photos altogether.  That's probably a good thing -- it makes me want to reach and be better.

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