Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008, pt 1

Since we had plans to see Wicked while in CA, I bought the book a couple of weeks before the trip since I had never read it. Matt found our sweet Peanut posing next to it and he said that the end result was very fitting. Yeah right!

Random picture of Ham, chillin' out Ham style.

After we got on the train and were settled into our compartment, we "went to bed",and had a fitful night of very little sleep. I watched the scenery from outside as the snow got deeper and deeper. I silently cursed every flake. I. Hate. Snow.

So, you can imagine I was much happier the next day when most of the scenery looked like this. By the way, excuse any weirdness or streakiness in some of these.. I had to take them through a dirty train window.

This one was fairly ruined by the window, but with a little texturing came out pretty cool:

We passed so many barren and depressing areas of the country. Ghost towns, abandoned houses, empty freight chassis.. it was all very haunting and definitely a different glimpse of the country than what you see from the freeways.

The next morning, I woke up around 6:00am. We were supposed to be arriving at our stop in Fullerton, CA at 7:30am. But when I looked outside, we weren't moving.. and I saw this:

More snow.. but just a dusting. We had no idea where we were, since the conductors don't make any announcements between 10pm - 8am so they don't disturb anyone. By 8am we still hadn't moved, but we did get an update that a snowstorm had swept over the Mojave Desert and the rail yards in Barstow, CA were snowed under. They were having to dig the tracks out of the ice before the freight traffic could move. Because passenger trains have to yield to freight traffic, we were in for a long delay.

We amused ourselves by taking pre-sunrise photos from the window

The sun finally made an appearance..

As we gained more light, we were able to see a bit more detail of our surroundings. We were still wondering why this slight dusting of snow was causing such a fuss.

We started moving a couple of hours later, but it was start-stop-start-stop. We passed freight trains, also at a standstill:

I liked the farm equipment we passed, crusted in snow

As we approached the Mojave Desert via the Cajon Pass, the snow got deeper. As Matt said, hell had literally frozen over.

We got more of an update, and it had been determined that since snow this severe is unheard of in the desert, the switches on the tracks are not equipped with heaters. They had to summon a crew to come out and manually thaw the switches so they could be moved. At this point, I put aside my hate for winter weather and was thankful I could enjoy the beautiful scenery from a warm train cabin:

As we reached the peak, the view was outstanding. This is a desert! Can you believe it?

The sun was trying to burn through some of the clouds and mist

The window almost ruined this one again, but I liked the result after a little tweaking:

One of my favorite shots. I love the bit of color from the freight train across the pass and the heavy clouds sitting on the mountains:

Another favorite:

A bit of proof that this is supposed to be a desert:

Finally, 8 hours late, we arrived in Fullerton!

Christmas Lights

This was taken on December 6th when we were hanging our Christmas lights. We realized too late that our ladder fell short of the height required to get the lights on the roof. Not wanting to shell out the dough for a new 24' ladder, Matt engineered a device for getting them hung. He had about a 20% success rate, it was freezing outside, and I was sure he was going to break his neck!

The finished product

Thanksgiving 2008

Some photos from Thanksgiving weekend 2008

We were cooking most of the day, so I didn't put much effort into taking great photos, but I did manage a few snapshots of the day.

A few days earlier, the cable in the den decided to go belly up. Matt had to hook the cable in through the computer we have hidden behind that TV to even get a signal to test as they tried to fix the cord. They weren't able to get it working, but we were able to get a semi-clear standard-screen-squashed-on-a-widescreen-TV picture so we could watch the parade while cooking.

Our roaster, housing the 17lb turkey.

Wait.. what? It's Thanksgiving already?

Part of my job for the morning was standing next to the laundry room window to hear instructions given from Matt and his dad while trying to fix the cable connection.

Punkin made sure to vocalize his dislike for all of the extra activity in the house.

Ham just stood back and looked pretty... what he does best!

Sexy. And Matt will probably kill me if I don't state the obvious and explain that I shot this at 16mm with the camera mere inches from his face, resulting in the bulbous distortion of his face.

Matt's parents chatting together.

Whenever there is a Sprinkle Ball present.. Dex is happy!

Tending to the foods. Mmm..


My parents arrived with their new baby, Max.

This is MY house now!!

We call these Butt Rolls, for obvious reasons, but they are so tasty. They take 4-5 hours to rise, and 10-12 minutes to bake. Mine always get GIGANTIC. The ones in this photo are still rising and didn't go into the oven for another hour.

Whenever I pointed the camera in my mom's general direction, she'd back away to get out of the frame. She didn't know that I was using a wide angle all day, however, and you photographers out there know how unfortunate it is to be caught near the edge of a wide focal length. Matt explained to my mom what being near the edge of a wide shot does to the size of your butt.

My mom's 100 year old dressing recipe. Her original notes have pages and pages of revisions and it is the most delicious dish in the world. Mmmm. I would share it, but my mom only recently caved and gave me a copy of it, and threatened my life if I ever let it get out of the family. :-)

eat up!

We went Black Friday shopping the next day. I only our point 'n shoot camera, but as usual, I balked at taking photos of other people in public. So I only got a couple images from the morning.

The ONLY way to brave the chaos on Black Friday is to have a plan.

Outside of target - unshowered, greasy, and SLEEPY.

Finally, some light!

I call Matt's Blackberry his "Blueberry" So we were amused by putting his Blueberry on his Blueberry muffin bag.

Falling asleep at the wheel! (no worries. we were still parked.)

The point and shoot we use is the Canon SD800 IS It's no SLR but it's great for keeping stashed in my purse. It goes up to ISO1600 (and is actually usable at that ISO) and has a wider lens than most point 'n shoots - and I'm a wide angle gal!

That afternoon, we took Matt's parents downtown to the Fantasy of Trees, a charity function held every year.

This is Matt's suspicious why-are-you-taking-a-photo-of-me look.. also known as his serial killer look.

Everyone else hated this one.. I liked the colors. :)

This one definitely won the Creepiest Tree award. Eyeless hollow mickey mouse head with hands? Seriously?

Our alma mater

My favorite was the Harry Potter tree *sheepish grin*

It had such cute details, like the Weasely Christmas sweaters!

And ties in the house colors!

This ornament bears a striking resemblence to my husband..

My favorite part of the event was the gingerbread houses!!

This was probably my favorite, and probably would have won if the front walls and yard were a bit more "polished" I loved the unique design!

The first place winner is on the left, second place on the right. The first place one was very well-done and detailed, and even had clear candy windows. The second place.. well, I had a different opinion. :) I also slightly blurred this one. Grr.

Matt's mom and dad outside of the restaurant where we ate dinner.

I set the camera up for Matt's mom and she took this of us!