Saturday, July 25, 2015

roadstoeverywhere.com

I've made the switch!

My blog is now located at roadstoeverywhere.com.

That's "Roads to Everywhere" with no spaces and no caps. Dot com. If you have the Blogger site bookmarked, please change your bookmark. Or, if you'd rather, you can keep coming back here and clicking through on this post. Whatever is most convenient for you. I just hope you'll keep following along!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Conversation and Other Matters

Rebecca intercepted this exchange in the backyard earlier this week.

As "Head of Ranch Security" Cookie is diligent to patrol the premises daily to keep the squirrels and bunnies in line.
Happily, we have seen no snakes so far this year. 

We have noticed a fox or two and a coyote skulking about the neighborhood late in the evening or early in the morning. Not in our yard, though.

In case you were wondering, these pictures are not part of the Photography Challenge. Yesterday's challenge was too take some low-light pictures. By the time I took mine (around 9:00 p.m.) and got home, I was too tired to post, so I didn't get them entered. Besides, I wasn't that impressed with them. Low-light is something I need more practice with.
Today's challenge is to take some action shots. I haven't done much action photography. However, I like to use the action setting on my camera to take pictures of waterfalls. It shows the "splash" better than the regular setting, which mainly just makes the water a blur.
This is one of our favorite spots in the Idaho panhandle. It's called Fern Falls, and we visited it several times while we lived there. This picture was taken in the summer of 2011.

In other news, I'm getting ready to move my blog to my own domain: www.roadstoeverywhere.com. You can take a peek while I'm working on it, if you like. Just know things will be changing frequently as I set up housekeeping. I'll let you know when I'm actually ready to move.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Portrait Photography

I've skipped a couple days in the Photo Challenge. I was looking forward to doing the assigned Photo Walk over the weekend, but I wanted Lyle to go with me. Since his foot is out of commission, we weren't able to do it... but I'd still like to. Hopefully soon.

Today's challenge is Portrait Photography. I haven't done a lot of "portraits" but I did do Rebecca's senior pictures two years ago, and I was pleased with how they turned out. I borrowed my Dad's DSLR camera for them. I didn't know enough about the camera to mess with the settings, so I just shot them on auto.

Rebecca loves horses and western themes. Since we lived in town and don't own horses, we did the photo shoot at a friend's place. They have horses and a fun little pony as well as lots of choices for cool backgrounds-- fences and barn walls and woods. Here are a couple of my favorite shots:
I love the lighting on this one with the contrasting shadows.

This one is not posed, but oh, so fun! Rebecca had a handful of corn for Snickers-the-pony and Snickers was giving her a kiss.

Not long after that I was able to get a nice camera for myself. It's not a DSLR but it has a nice little zoom lens on it and I've been happy with it. It is a Nikon Coolpix L820. I shot this picture of my dad with it. Believe it or not, this picture was snapped in a fast-food restaurant, but the light coming in the window was great. It's one of my favorite pictures of Dad.
The photographer who shared today's challenge included "who-what-when-where" in her article. I especially appreciated what she said about "when":
When: Quite honestly? Now. And if not now, do it SOON. Plan it now. I constantly take photos, and even I want a time machine to go back and capture more.
It is a good reminder to take lots of pictures of our loved ones all the time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

And We Call This Health Care

We rarely go to the doctor. We just don't. We never had health insurance when I was growing up, that I'm aware of. Nor did we have it the first 15 years or so we were married. So we never got in the habit of being doctor-goers.

Of course now we are forced to have "affordable" health insurance. Not that we can afford it, but our government assures us it's affordable, so it must be. In spite of that, we still don't go to the doctor much.

Our experience over the weekend really doesn't do much to make us want to change that.

***
Thursday evening Lyle showed me that his foot was swollen and red across the top. I had him soak it in epsom salts and essential oils. By Saturday it was looking worse and he just wasn't feeling good in general. I figured it was probably infected and needed an antibiotic. I took a picture of his foot and texted it to my sister, who has 30 years of experience as a nurse.

"Yeah, that doesn't look good," she said. 
"I think it's cellulitis. He probably needs Keflex."

On Sunday afternoon I finally convinced him to go to the urgent care clinic. The PA on duty looked at his foot.

"Yeah, that doesn't look good," he said. 
"I think it's cellulitis. I'll prescribe an antibiotic."

Great! That's what we needed. $20 co-pay. Isn't urgent care wonderful?

Oh, wait. Not so fast.

The PA started tapping around on Lyle's chest with his stethoscope with a very concerned look on his face. He asked if Lyle had been experiencing any chest pains? No. Shortness of breath? No. Hmm. Well, there was something not right here. Better do an EKG right away. So the nurse wheeled in the equipment, stuck little tabs to Lyle's skin in various places and hooked all the wires up. The machine spit out a paper. The PA came scurrying back in.

"This is not good," he said. "You need to go to the ER right away. I'll have the nurse put in an IV and the paramedics can take you to the hospital. There's something going on with your heart."

Lyle and I looked at each other, completely baffled. "But I feel fine," Lyle insisted, "do I have to go in the ambulance?"

"Well, I can't make you, of course," said the PA. "But you do need to go right away. I'll call and tell them you're coming. This is much more urgent than your foot. But they can finish up with that there, too."

He handed us a copy of the EKG print-out, and we walked out to the car. "Do you want me to drive?" I asked Lyle. He rolled his eyes, "Of course not! I feel fine!" he insisted. I just hoped he wouldn't have heart attack as he drove. The PA had me worried.

It was about 5 miles or so to the hospital. We checked in with the receptionist in the ER. "Why did they send you over?" she wanted to know. I had to look it up. Premature ventricular contractions. "Oh, PVC?" she said. "Those are very common. Nothing to be concerned about. But have a seat."

In a few minutes Lyle was called into the triage room. The PAs checking him in looked at the EKG printout. Any chest pains? No. Shortness of breath? No. Hmm. PVC is very common. Nothing to be concerned about. "But we'll get you back as soon as a room opens up and have the doctor take a look." About the foot...

"Yeah, that doesn't look good," they said. 
"I think it's cellulitis. You need an antibiotic."

Soon enough we were called back to the exam room. The nurse came in and installed an IV line and drew several vials of blood. PVC is very common. Nothing to be concerned about. But that foot doesn't look good. She departed.

The doctor came in. Any chest pains? No. Shortness of breath? No. Hmm. PVC is very common. Nothing to be concerned about. Should probably run another EKG, though, just in case. The foot, though:

"Yeah, that doesn't look good," she said. 
"I think it's cellulitis. I'll give you an antibiotic."

And she departed. We waited. An orderly came in to check the supply cupboard. 

A student volunteer came in to see if we needed anything. Nope, we're good, thanks. 

The registrar came in to finish filling out Lyle's paperwork and to get the all-important insurance and payment information. 

And we sat. And waited. 45 minutes later the student volunteer was back. We asked if she could see what the hold-up was on having the EKG. Before she left, the doctor came back in. "Has the nurse done the EKG yet?" No, we've just been waiting. So the volunteer and the doctor scurried off to find the nurse.

The nurse wheeled the EKG machine in and hooked Lyle up again, and printed the report. Then she hooked the IV up to a bag of (guess what?) Keflex. "It will take 20 or 30 minutes to drip in," she told us. "Press the call button when it's done."

The doctor came back. The EKG is normal. PVC is very common. Nothing to be concerned about.

"Why?" we asked. "Why did the urgent care PA send us over here, if this is so normal?"

"Oh, they just don't see them as often as we do. Better be safe than sorry. We'd rather it turn out to be nothing, than them not send you, and it actually turn out to be something."

Because, of course, they aren't the one paying the bills.

After 35 minutes the antibiotic finally finished dripping. The nurse unhooked all the wires and tubes and handed Lyle a prescription for (guess what?) Keflex to continue taking orally. He put his shirt back on and we went home.

But not before stopping at the pharmacy to pick up his prescription.

Co-pay at the urgent care clinic. Co-pay at the emergency room. Probably more co-pays on the two EKGs.. and the IV... and who knows what else. Four hours of our day. I'm just glad we declined the ambulance!

Why can't a nurse with 30 years' of experience, who can expertly diagnose a simple condition via a texted picture, just prescribe the antibiotic?

That's really all we wanted.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Vegetables

I never aspired to be a food blogger. Nor do I spend much time or effort staging my food. I have to admit, though, that there are times when I want to share a recipe and would like to have a really sharp photo to go with it.

Today's Photo Challenge is food photography. So here you have today's lunch. I can't say that it's an amazing picture because, honestly? The tomato juice bugs me. Oh, you hadn't noticed? Well, then. Forget I said anything, and feel free to brag on my photo.

During the summer I love eating lots of fresh vegetables. My favorite meals are grilled meat with salads and/or roasted vegetables. We have a nice deck just off our kitchen, so we eat outdoors more often than not this time of year.

On Monday evening we stopped at Sprouts and bought a mini-cart's worth of produce.

On Tuesday evening we grilled steaks and shishkabobbed green and yellow squash and red onions. (Is "shishkabobbed" a verb? Well, you know what I mean.) I also made a creamy cucumber and onion salad that night.

Last night we grilled hamburgers. I roasted a double-batch of cauliflower and squash in the oven. (Recipe: Chop vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until beginning to blacken at 475.) I honestly would rather have that than french fries.

Today for lunch I decided to make a frittata with the left-over roasted vegetables. I also made a tomato and feta cheese salad to have on the side, along with sliced peaches. It is delicious, even if my photography is not perfect. I'll just have to keep practicing.

What are your favorite summer vegetables?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Midsummer Macros






Just a few little somethings I happened to find in my yard this evening. 

It's really amazing what you can see when you look close, isn't it?


On a fun note: Each day the challenge sponsors choose their five favorite photos from the previous day's challenge to feature in the morning email. And guess what? They chose my picture from yesterday for today's list. They said: "We love how she captured the story of her summer day. The photo feels casual, but it is really set up well." How cool is that?


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird

Good lighting... and story telling. Or more specifically, the Summer Photography Challenge for Day 2 is: "...to go out and practice using light and telling a story with your mobile phone camera."

I've been re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird this summer, and I've recently started working on mug cozies again to get my Etsy shop re-stocked for the fall. So I guess the "story" this picture tells is what I've been doing in my leisure time lately.

Harper Lee's long-awaited second book, Go Set a Watchman, goes on sale today. I am looking forward to reading it, but I don't plan to rush out and buy it. I'll read it from the library first. It will likely be awhile before my name gets to the top of the waiting list, but that's okay.

A few weeks ago Lyle and I were in Barnes and Noble one evening and I happened to notice a book discussion group gathered between the bookshelves. As I browsed nearby I overhead them discussing To Kill a Mockingbird. I was tempted to pull up a chair and join the discussion. I expect I would have been welcome, but I wasn't quite that brave.

The group discussed the book and the movie, as well as another book, The Mockingbird Next Door. I remembered seeing that book on the library website in ebook format, so when I got home I checked it out. It is the memoir of a reporter who became friends with Harper Lee and her sister and lived next door to them for a time a few years ago. It was a fun read, giving more insight into the lifestyle of the Lee sisters and the small town of Monroeville, Alabama, which was the inspiration of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird.

As it happens, my dad's people were from the Monroeville area couple of generations back. I don't know a lot about them, but I have the sense they would have been more like the Ewell family in the book, rather than the Finches. (Now that I type that out, it is kind of eerie that my family name is Ezell which is just one letter different than Ewell. Kinda makes you wonder!) Oh, well. It's not where you come from, but rather where you're going that matters, right?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Photography Challenge: Day 1

Just for fun, I am participating in a two-week long Summer Photography Challenge that starts today. I expect to learn a lot, and get some good practice.

I was joking with my sister on Saturday about her photography: "Wow! You must have a good camera! You get some really nice pictures!" She laughed. "Yeah. I do. It's all about the camera." She knew I was being completely facetious. "Seriously," she said, "if a person has an eye for composition, even a cheap camera can take good pictures."

I remember my first camera. I saved up my money for it when I was in about the 7th grade. It was a little Kodak Instamatic that took 110 film. It took a steady hand (which I didn't necessarily have) and even then, the pictures usually turned out grainy. Cameras have come a long way since the late 1970s. And since we don't have to pay for film or developing (Kids, go ask your grandma about that!) it's fun to just snap-snap-snap away and then play around with the results.

Today's challenge covered composition, and talked about using the "rule of thirds" for composing your subject. Even before I knew about today's challenge, I enjoyed playing with that rule yesterday with my road trip snapshots. I had forgotten my "good" camera, so I was taking pictures with my cell phone and then editing them with Instagram.

A photo posted by Karla Cook (@ramblinroads) on

When I'm taking pictures from a moving vehicle, it's hard to think about composition, so that's where the editing comes in handy. Here's the original of the "finished" picture above:


First, I cropped off the mirror and window frame of the car. Instagram has the "thirds" grid built in so I was able to zoom in enough to put the canyon cut at the 2/3 vertical line and the guard rail at the 2/3 horizontal line. Then I applied a neat filter and frame. I like the way it turned out.

 Here's another one I did the same way. This one also has "leading lines" with the curving highway.
A photo posted by Karla Cook (@ramblinroads) on

And the original:

I zoomed in and put the horizon line at the 2/3 horizontal line, and the "end" of the highway (where it goes behind the hill) at the 2/3 vertical line. And then chose a different filter. I don't filter all my photos, but I think they are fun to play around with.

I'll be practicing some more during the next two weeks. I'm not sure if I'll post all the challenges here... or on my Instagram account. We'll see.

Weekend Road Trip

We spent all day Friday and Sunday driving so we could be in Nampa, Idaho for my parents' 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday.

It took us just over 13 hours to get there. We averaged 66 mph with 5 stops on Friday, so it was a long day in the car. Lyle did all the driving. The girls were content with their earbuds in the back seat. The dog and the guinea pig went along, too, and rode in the back of our Jetta wagon. We put our car-top carrier on for luggage.
Laura and I entertained ourselves as we drove along by snapping pictures, posting them to Instagram and Facebook, and texting them to friends and family.
I love the scenery out west!
On Saturday we all gathered in my brother's yard for family pictures.
My sister is the "real" photographer in the family, and she took the portraits.

Me? I snapped a few shots of the men with their heads under the 1949 Chevy pickup...
...and one of the yard, just because I thought it was so pretty with the morning sunlight streaming through the trees.

 That afternoon we had a "party" with cake, family trivia games, and a slide-show of family pictures over the years. It was a fun day.
On Sunday morning we started home again.

We stopped to stretch our legs at Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho...
...and then headed on down the road, through the salt flats of Utah...
...and through the mountains of western Colorado...
...and made it safely home again.

It was a good trip.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Granddaddy Tapes

This coming weekend my parents and their five children, along with in-laws and grandchildren, will be gathering to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary which was earlier this spring. In preparation for a day of sharing memories, I've been gathering pictures and scrapbooks and all kinds of memorabilia to take along. As I was getting things together I happened to remember the Granddaddy Tapes.
Among my treasured possessions is a small box of dusty cassette tapes, maybe a couple dozen, that I recorded during the late 1980s and through the 1990s. They are mostly of my Granddaddy Easley telling stories of his life. He had a detailed memory and was more than willing to share his memories with me (and my tape recorder). At the time, I had the intention of writing a book about his and Grandmother's life story. They were eager for me to do so, but then my children came along. I was busy raising my babies, and then homeschooling, so that project got set aside. In the meantime, my grandparents have gone on to heaven; Grandmother in 1998, and Granddaddy in 2007. They left an amazing heritage for their 10 children, 26 grandchildren, and more great-grandchildren than I can count at the moment.

I still have a cassette deck that I have held onto just because of that box of tapes. Last Saturday I asked Lyle if he would bring it in out of the garage and connect it to my computer so I could digitize the tapes before they deteriorate too badly. Obliging man that he is, he took care of that for me.

For the past few days I've been listening to the old stories of my heritage, as I transfer them to MP3 files, and remembering again how blessed I am. I was also reminded how important storytelling is. While many of these family stories are very familiar to me, I realized that my children haven't necessarily heard them all.

Maybe I should write that book after all.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Styling our stars and stripes shirts. Enjoying grilled hamburgers in the backyard with our kids. We are blessed.

"Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light.
Protect us by Thy might
Great God our king."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Glimpses of My Days

Since many of you don't do Instagram, and that is where I share a lot of the pictures I snap, I thought it was time for another Instagram update. These go back to March...

I'm finding the #hashtags to be a lot of fun. I like thinking up which ones to use for each post... and then seeing what other pictures people have posted using those same hashtags. Sometimes I get comments or likes from random people who have found my picture from the hashtag. You can click on the hashtags below the pictures to see other what other Instagrammers have posted using that particular hashtag, if you're interested.
A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on

A photo posted by @karlacinid on