Digital Photography 1: Boo-boos and Random Strangers

I have been hooked on digital photography ever since I bought my first 640×480 camera back in the day. It’s unbelievable to me how far digital photography has progressed since then, and how fast. My current camera is 18 megapixels and it’s quickly becoming antiquated.

When I think back to the film cameras of my youth, I remember having to keep in mind the cost of the film and processing, and having to limit my shots and hope for the best. Sure some turned out really well, but there were also a lot of closed-eye disappointments. Shots were also limited to documentation for the most part – pictures of vacations and milestone events.

Because of this, one of the things I appreciate most about digital photography is taking as many shots as I would like to capture the best image that I am able. Being able to preview shots is a huge benefit. Then I can pick out the best of the bunch and delete the rest.

Not all shots turn out well, but sometimes even mistakes turn out interesting.

Laura and Alexis aren’t in focus, but I love the sense of movement as they get ready for a recital.
I didn't even know you could shoot a double exposure on a digital camera.
Boogers! Watch that shutter speed. Even though this makes me dizzy, it’s kinda fun.

As I have moved on from a point and shoot to a digital single-lens reflex camera, I have also been bitten by the bug to move beyond documentation into more artsy shots. I still have much to learn. I have lots of interests – landscapes, flowers, animals, travel, events, family and friends. I hope to post more about each of those subjects in future entries.

Generally I tend to stay fairly focused on the subject at hand, be it family members or a particular subject, but every once in a while I manage to capture a shot of a random stranger that I find fascinating, and will share a few of those here.

During a family vacation to Gettysburg in 2010, we decided to get up early one morning and hike through part of the the battlefield. On our way back, we encountered this lad in character. I like how he is framed by the rail fence.
This adorable little boy was patiently waiting for his parents to finish their shopping at a roadside stop between Mai Chau and Hanoi when we visited Hanna in Vietnam in 2011.
This was an absolutely lucky shot. This girl was playing the accordian and waving at cars passing by a general store in the Indiana Dunes in July 2013. I pointed the camera out the window, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best.
This was an absolutely lucky shot taken this July. This girl was playing the accordian and waving at cars passing by a general store in the Indiana Dunes. I pointed the camera in her general direction, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best.

Scavenger Hunt Cookery

I spent a couple of days with my mom last week as she recovered from eye surgery – partial left-side corneal replacement. There have been significant improvements to the surgery recently so that the recovery is quicker and much less arduous. Mom is recovering nicely, but is prohibited from reading for three weeks. That’s an eternity to a former librarian. Thank goodness for books on CD.

It’s always an adventure staying in someone else’s home. At my house, I know where most things are (most of the time); routine and familiarity help me to operate in a relatively smooth groove. But at mom’s . . . well let’s see – she moved to a new city following my dad’s death, recently renovated her kitchen, has had an extra generation to accumulate kitchen stuff, and our brains seem to be wired differently with regard to organization. But I wanted to give my brother a respite from caregiving while I was there, so I accepted the challenge of fixing dinner without knowing what ingredients and equipment I might find, or where.

In the waiting room at the surgery center, I had seen a really delicious-looking chicken recipe in a magazine. Rachel Ray maybe, or Martha Stewart or Good Housekeeping. I have been following a gluten- and processed sugar-free diet for a while and the recipe fit that too, so I made a mental note of the ingredients and instructions. Back at Mom’s I embarked on a scavenger hunt with my brother’s help. We managed to find everything except scallions, which we put on the grocery list we had already started.

I did not remember the exact proportions for the recipe, so I decided to wing it with what we found. I don’t like leaving little bits and pieces of leftover ingredients to get moldy in the fridge, so I try to use whole units as much as possible. Here is my adaptation of the recipe:

Spinach & Feta Chicken Breasts

  • 3 pound package frozen bone-free, skin-free chicken breasts, thawed
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 6 ounce package crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into each chicken breast. Our 3-pound bag of chicken contained 5 thick breasts. I was able to halve each one lengthwise and then cut a pocket in each half.

Combine cream cheese, feta cheese, spinach, garlic and scallions in a medium mixing bowl. Pack mixture into each chicken breast pocket.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Brown chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning gently to avoid losing the filling. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 7-10 minutes.

Serve with a garden salad and quinoa or rice. Approximately 10 portions, more or less depending on number of chicken breasts.

Notes: One of the chicken breasts shredded as I was forming the pocket, so I cut it into pieces, browned them, then added the leftover spinach and cheese mixture and put in the baking dish alongside the stuffed chicken breasts. It was equally tasty, just not as pretty. I think that bone-free skin-free chicken thighs would also work for this recipe. If we didn’t already have a grocery list, I would have substituted chopped onion for the scallions. There are no herbs or spices in the recipe, but the spinach, feta and garlic give it plenty of flavor. Delish!

I regret that I did not think to take a picture of the finished recipe and I have been unable to find it on the internet. Most are covered in bread crumbs; this is the closest I could find. I will be sure to snap a pic next time I make it.

The Ballad of Psycho Cat

Come and listen to the story ’bout a psycho cat,

She’s grumpy and she’s mean and she’s gotten very fat.

Once upon a time she was small and she was sweet

Then the vet went and messed with the nerves in all her feet.

Paws, that is. Indoor pet. No more claws.


Well next thing you know she hisses and she spits,

Other cats and dogs can throw her into frenzied fits.

It’s hard to believe she can sometimes be quite tame,

The same cat that plays “Kill the Beanie Baby” game.

Ty, that is. Any will do. Birds are best.


Psycho Cat plays games that are really kinda cute,

Hand Under the Blanket is truly quite a hoot!

The shower curtain and bannister are two more ways to play,

And she’ll stay with whomever comes down sick that day.

Sleep, that is. On their bed. ‘Til they’re well.

Joe Kitty nap

Attacking Sara’s foot came as one great big surprise,

Joseph’s love is all that kept the kitty from a quick demise.

She’s older now and slower but she still can blow a fuse,

So anywhere near Psycho Cat be sure to wear your shoes.

Footwear, that is. Boots are good. Slippers too.


The Jefferson City Psycho Cat!