Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Signed Copy of Ken Ham's New Book: 'The Lie'

We finally got to hook up with Buddy and Kay this week. They were at home for a day, so we went down to their place on Monday afternoon for a few hours. I was really thrilled, because Ken had signed copies of his updated book, The Lie, for us. I've been dying to see it. It's really cool, too, because he actually signed the front cover.

The book has just been updated after twenty-five years, and it looks even better than the original --- which is saying something! I'm not prone to seeing people as "heroes" or suffering from what's known as "hero worship". Neither is Elizabeth. We've known too many people that come under some heading of "famous", and if we haven't known them, then we've read too many biographies and memoirs to see anyone as anything but an ordinary person. Not to say that there aren't exceptional people in their fields. Absolutely. I think that God has given everyone gifts in different areas, and some people are exceptional in those areas.

Both Elizabeth and I admire a lot of people for their talents in various areas like music, writing, acting, etc. But we don't have "heroes", in the sense of seeing someone in a "super-human" light.

I guess, though, that the closest I'll ever get to the idea of a "hero" would be Ken Ham. We grew up listening to his lectures, but I was thrilled in October of 2003 when we finally saw him in person. As things worked out, we ended up volunteering with Answers in Genesis for three years and working with Ken a lot. That was a fabulous experience, and one that Elizabeth and I are very thankful for.

We've never really had more than a few friends our own age. Our friends have always been at least the age of our parents (if not older), and it was certainly that way while working the conventions with AiG. We were blessed to meet a lot of speakers from all over the world, and to become dear friends with some of them. We really learned a lot in those years of volunteering, and it's a great thing to work with such strong Christians who really have hearts for their ministry.

We got to know Ken very well. It's pretty special to actually be friends with your "hero". His heart for spreading the Truth of God's Word is amazing. He has an amazing gift for communicating with crowds, and there is nothing like actually seeing the reaction of a huge audience after they hear him for the first time. The amazing thing is that Ken is a normal guy, but God has given him a real gift. I guess that is what makes him a "hero" --- he has been willing to use his whole life sharing that gift.

Well . . . this post ended up a little more serious than I'd started out to be. I'm just thrilled with the new book. Ken is always really sweet and sends copies of his new books. Autographed, of course! My very favorite of Ken's books is The Genesis of a Legacy, but that is partly because of the fun we had while he was writing it. It's a fabulous book! More later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thoughts on the Canon Rebel EOS T3 DSLR Camera

I've been wanting to replace our camera for a couple of years, and we finally sold enough on eBay to buy a new one. Mom and I spent loads of time reading reviews and looking up various DSLR cameras online. Everything finally narrowed down to the Canon Rebel EOS T3. It looked like a fair replacement camera. The old one was an Olympus C-5050 5.0 megapixel DSLR. Gramma had given it to us about four or five years ago (having just gotten a C-8080), and we've really loved it. You can use it like a point-and-click (or not!), and the results are really beautiful.

We ordered the Canon about a week and a half ago on It arrived last Thursday, but I didn't get a chance to take more than a couple "out of the box" pictures --- since we left for Cincinnati on Saturday morning. I finally sat down this morning and spent some time playing with settings, options and reading the instruction manual. In fact, I've been working with it all day.

It is awful. The main problem comes from the fact that the focus (whether automatic or manual) only focuses on a small area of the photo (about equivalent to the size of a quarter on a 5x7" image). The rest of the picture is blurry. The photos are also completely "grainy" in appearance --- with a real pixelated  appearance. Nothing about the image is sharp.

You can't use the "Live View" window on the back of the camera, because what you see there is nowhere near what you actually get. That leaves you with the viewfinder, but that actually isn't completely accurate, either. The image is actually wider than the area in the viewfinder.

The construction of the camera is rather cheap, though it's not quite as bad as I had expected. Because of the light weight plastic used in the construction of the camera body, many people have trouble attaching any lens of a substantial weight. I could certainly see that this would be a problem.

Another irritating thing about this camera is the lack of flash. There is a flash that pops up from the top center of the camera when activated by auto-focusing a shot in certain settings. Apparently, the flash uses a lot of battery power, so the designers of this camera must have been trying to save juice, because the flash hardly ever pops on. The flash cannot be opened manually, so you are stuck with dark, blurry photos quite often when shooting inside.

The above cat photos are two that I shot with the Canon. If you click on them (enlarges them), you'll see that the focus is really only over the eyes and nose. For $500.00, this camera isn't giving any better results than a pocket camera for half the price (or less).

All in all, I'm sitting here rather deflated and disappointed. The camera is packed up in a box and headed for the Amazon return department. We're not totally sure what we're going to do, as far as replacing the camera, so that'll be good for another blog post later on. More later.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Fabulous Weekend in Cincinnati

The last two days have been really fun. We haven't been able to get together with Walt and Janice in almost three years, but we were finally able to make it down to their house this weekend. We've had plans for this trip for a couple of months now, but we had to put it off when Elizabeth and Mom came down with a bad cold last month. Doom seemed pretty near when Elizabeth and I got another cold a week and a half ago, but we managed to get over enough of them to go down anyway. We were planning on staying over until today, but Mom sprained her back (that's from hefting too many book boxes), so Pop drove us down and we came home last night.

All in all, it was a really fabulous weekend!! Wow! We arrived at Walt and Janice's house at about 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon. That gave us plenty of time to just sit around and gab --- after all, there is an awful lot to catch up on after two and a half years. They had invited a few young guys over for dinner, so they all arrived around six o'clock. Dinner was pizza and salad (followed by one beautiful pound cake made by one of the guys). We all sat around the dining room table to play cards after the meal, and this was really a fun time. The three guys know how to play all kinds of variations of Poker, so they taught us all that (only using chips, of course --- no cash). Really thrilling. Elizabeth and I have always wanted to learn Poker, since we know a few tidbits about it from watching old Westerns. I mean, every cowboy runs across a Poker game! Walt seemed to do very well at this game. He's also a ton of fun to watch, as he really knows how to clown around. :) We didn't stop until after nine o'clock. I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that it was past everybody's bedtime --- we were all looking pretty tired.

Sunday morning dawned none too bright and way too early, but we all managed to tumble downstairs. It was dark, cold and windy, and with Mom's back being so sore we decided to stay around the house. Janice had bagels from Panera. Can't beat that, can you?! We spread those out on the counter, added some hummus dip, salsa and chips, cheese and crackers and just spent the day playing games and talking.

Janice had a really fun game called Eye Know. It was a form of trivia game along the lines of Trivial Pursuit, but it was different. The trivia was a bit modern for Elizabeth and me (you know, living in the 1930s-1950s can make it a bit hard when it comes to modern games), but everybody did pretty well. We all had fun with the pictures on the cards. We also played Set and Five Crowns.

Janice and I made a "Mushroom and Spinach" lasagna for dinner. Elizabeth and I have a low opinion of mushrooms, but this was actually a fabulous dish! Wow! What really intrigued me was the substitution of cream cheese for the typical ricotta. I really preferred it.

We didn't leave until about 5:45pm, which was a bit later than planned. It was kind of sad to have to go. There was a Whole Foods grocery store in Cincinnati, so we made a quick stop there to pick up things like olive oil and coffee. Arrived home shortly before ten, so everybody is pretty beat. We're going to try to make plans to get together one more time before the snow flies. More later.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The new camera has arrived!

This is just a quick post, as it is the end of the day --- and I'm beat! Exciting news, though. We finally sold enough on eBay to get a new camera. Ours has been dying a slow death for about two years, so this is something that I've really wanted for a while. Thanks to Amazon and UPS, it was delivered to our little doorstep.

After reading a lot of reviews and looking at a lot of pictures, Mom and I decided on the Canon Rebel T3. It arrived yesterday, so I haven't been able to do much more than look at it and charge the battery. The feature that I'm thrilled about is the manual focus ring on the lens. Hooray! This is a picture of the box, but there will be lots more coming later.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Emptying the Attic (and Various Other Activities)

We've been so busy around here that I just don't get much time for blogging. This week's big project (for me) has been clearing out the attic. Mom and Elizabeth have been working on going through books, and they're doing a great job! Mom is hoping that she'll end up weeding about 3,000 books. That should really get us down to just the books that we actually want --- and make room for all of the books that we've gotten over the last couple of months at book sales!

I decided to climb into the attic and start cleaning out. It's sort of like a glorified crawl space, but you can stand up straight in the very middle. We've got all of the Christmas decorations up there, which take up quite a bit of room, let me tell you. They need more room, if you want the truth, so something has got to go! One area is full of boxes of various "hope chest" stuff that we've been putting up there for eleven or twelve years now. Lots of baby clothes (which I'm keeping), but also lots of boxes with various household goods that we don't want anymore. It's amazing what different tastes we've got now, at the age of twenty-five, compared to what we had at fourteen. So, I've been pulling boxes down one at a time and going through the stuff. The result is that there are quite a few empty boxes floating around downstairs that say "Sarah's (or Elizabeth's) Hope Chest" on them. Elizabeth was looking at one yesterday (with my name on it) and saying, "I guess she's given up hoping!" She was just kidding, of course!

There is still a lot of work to be done up there, so that's what is on my agenda for this coming week. We're also working on making ten shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Mom and I spent a day out shopping for some little things to go in them, and I've spent a couple evenings wrapping boxes. We're hoping to end up with seven boxes for girls and three for boys.

This coming week is supposed to bring some nice weather. We've had a lot of wind and rain lately. I need to take all of the little gnome decorations out of my garden, but I just haven't gotten around to that. Well, I can't think of any other news from this week, so I'll quit for now. More later.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baby T-Rex: My Real 'Buddy Davis Original'

The previous entry just got too long, so this is kind of a continuation. :) One of the pros to working in the big walk-in closet is that I get to admire my Baby T-Rex.

Buddy Davis (dinosaur sculptor, singer and speaker for Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum) is a personal friend. Actually, it's not even really fair to refer to him and his wife as "friends." They're like family. We live about forty-five minutes apart, and we get together as often as their work schedule allows. They are just great.

Well, Buddy is like any artist. He's had bits and pieces of old projects that got rejected for one reason or another. About seven or eight years ago, I think, Elizabeth and I were poking around in the loft of his barn, and we came across a model of a baby T-Rex. The poor thing was covered in dust and really needed a paint job and some TLC. I went right down and asked Buddy why the poor little thing was all alone in the corner. He made some disparaging remarks about the poor baby's appearance and mentioned taking an axe to it. What!? That cute baby T-Rex? That darling baby T-Rex? An axe! No way. At least, not if I could talk him out of it.

It took about six months of bugging, whining and making a general pest of myself. All it needed was a paint job. And it would look so nice with a brown color scheme, right? Right! Buddy and I had a fun time over this. I would check on the little thing every now and then. But the day came when Buddy said "no more checking." Yahoo!! Baby T-Rex was getting fixed. Of course, I made sure that he hadn't been sent to burn pile or the guillotine. Nope. Buddy promised that Baby T-Rex was going to be saved from an awful fate --- but no other questions allowed until he said.

A couple months went by. I dropped hints about Baby's paint job. It would look so beautiful in brown. Baby just didn't want to end up being a green dinosaur. Buddy just laughed and changed the subject. Okay, so I was anything but subtle. :)

Then, Christmas rolls around. We're invited down to Buddy and Kay's house for the afternoon, and guess what was hiding behind the couch?! A shining Baby T-Rex (who had gotten a complete face lift --- which was actually more of a "head lift") that was a brown dinosaur. Three cheers for Buddy!! I was thrilled. I mean, a cute baby that had been saved from the loft. And it's my very own one-of-kind Buddy Davis dinosaur! Wow!

We didn't have a truck at that time, so Buddy and Kay had to bring him to our house a week or two later. The cats don't get along with Baby, though. And I don't want the cats to climb on Baby. They might mess up that gorgeous brown skin of his, you know, so he's in the big walk-in closet. I've never taken a picture of him (and this one isn't the best), but here's one to show him off. What a face. Thank you, Buddy! More later.

Seeing what can be accomplished with a week of hard work!

It's amazing what you can get done in a week --- if you put your mind to something, that is. Well, my project for the week (as mentioned in the previous blog entry) was the large walk-in closet that's up in the TV room. This is one of only two real closets in the house, but the other is filled with fabric and the portable AC units --- which kind of makes the walk-in closet the only real one in the house.

This is a closet that holds all of the hang-up clothes and all of our old toys and games. Elizabeth and I loved Playmobil as kids (it's kind of like Lego that comes all put together), and our parents and grandparents indulged that love. We own a ton. After yesterday, I'm almost willing to be that it's a literal ton, too! Ha ha ha!  I decided to let Pop go to the church to finish spackling all by himself. The clock and various wooden furniture will just have to wait for that good polishing that I had intended to give them. I stayed home and worked on the closet until 7:00pm. Thank the Lord, though, because the closet is totally cleaned out, sorted and re-organized --- and I survived.

Several years ago, I had started to sort all of our Playmobil out of the jumbled piles that were in various plastic bins. Mom got three sets of those large "bins" that are actually drawer units for me. I took all of the buildings apart, sorted the pieces and put them into the drawers. I also got two smaller units of the drawers for the small pieces and accessories. Everything is sorted into separate places by type and size (i.e. people, animals, furniture, transportation, hats and clothing accessories, weapons, crates and barrels, farm equipment, toys, kitchen and eating utensils, Civil War soldiers and their accessories, American Indians and their accessories). I had gotten a lot of this done, but after the big car wreck --- well, I couldn't sit on the floor, so that kind of put a grinding halt on that project. My floor sitting is still limited, but I put my mind to finishing that yesterday. After three or four hours in the afternoon of sorting through little plastic pieces --- it's DONE! I'm so happy!

That wasn't the only thing that got a good sorting through and organizing. I also tackled the wall of games and puzzles. That was no small feat, let me tell you! We had quite a few things that everybody was willing to get rid of, so that made room for a lot of things that needed to be put up on the shelves. This also gave me a chance to admire my baby T-Rex (see the next entry), but more on him later. I've included one picture of the closet. Silly thing to take a picture of, but it shows the game wall all stacked up and organized.

Mom and Elizabeth have undertaken to going through our entire library of 12,000 books. One at a time, they are making the decision as to whether we really need each book. Over the years, the books accumulate, but it's easy to end up with books you don't need or want. They're hoping to week somewhere between 3,000 - 5,000 books. Between the books and the closet, Pop actually had to make a trip into to town to drop boxes off at the Friends of the Library booksale and the thrift store! Elizabeth and I were joking that the timbers of the house were probably creaking from all of the stuff that we sent out!

We all were pretty beat last night, and getting ready for church was pretty hard this morning. We survived, though everybody is kind of crashed this afternoon. More later.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thoughts on Cleaning Closets and Bing Crosby

It's been a busy week around here. We're really trying to clean out all of the excess junk that accumulates when you live in the same house for fourteen years. I tackled our bedroom and closet last week! Yay! Even managed to bring down boxes of stuff to send to a thrift store or somewhere. This week's project is the large walk-in closet in the TV room. This is a big job, since it's the only closet of any decent size in the house. All of the hang-up clothes are in there --- not to mention all of our old board games, puzzles, toys and Playmobil. I spent yesterday afternoon up there and managed to clear out a decent chunk.

Elizabeth and I have two oval pictures (in the typical convex frames) that were our grandfather's. They are hanging in our bedroom, but one of them came to us without the glass. Well, it's great to get into the far corners of a closet! I had a similar frame packed away in there (for a felting project that I didn't do), so I was able to take the glass from that and put it onto Grampa's picture. That is something that I've wanted to do for a long time. It's a nice feeling to get little things like that scratched off of the "to do" list.

Our church had a "clean up" day on Saturday. Dad went over around 9:00am to spackle the walls in the sanctuary. The three of us followed a couple of hours later. We were in charge of orchestrating  lunch for the workers, so I spent some of the morning making biscuits to go with all the soup. Dad got about half of the walls done, so he and I are going back this weekend. While he spackles the rest of the walls, I am going to take some wood cleaner and polish to some of the furniture and fixtures.

We've been watching through the first season of Green Acres and the fourth season of Wagon Train over the past few weeks. Both shows are really good, and it's a nice way to get your mind off of closets and bedrooms. We did manage to watch an actual movie on Sunday night. It wasn't a film that is up our typical alley, but we'd seen a number from it and wanted to try the whole thing. The movie was The Country Girl, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and William Holden. Grace Kelly is Elizabeth's favorite actress, so she was thrilled to see her in her only "non-glamorous" (and Oscar winning) role.

Bing has always been my favorite singer. I don't remember a time of not loving him. Loving his singing, I mean. :) His movies usually have fabulous songs, but the stories tend to be not much more than vehicles for the songs. Bing doesn't usually get much of a chance at acting or playing anything but himself. He won an Academy Award for his role in Going My Way, and you can see why! He's great, but he's still Bing Crosby. The Country Girl really surprised me, because the quality of Bing's acting was beyond anything that I'd have guessed for him. He ran the gamut from laughing to crying --- and he was totally convincing every time. William Holden did a fantastic job, too. I would have given the Oscar to the two guys, myself! So, while the movie isn't exactly the type that I like or would re-watch, it's amazing to see Bing's talent in a showcase that perfect.

Well, got to get back into the closet. More later!

Monday, October 1, 2012

'You're in Love With Someone' as Sung by Bing Crosby

I am SO happy! Mom found something on eBay last week that she bought for me, and it arrived today. For years, Elizabeth and I have wanted to see the film Top O' the Morning. It stars Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald and Ann Blyth. The story is set in Ireland. The plot? The Blarney Stone has been stolen, and it's up to the town constable (Barry Fitzgerald) and the insurance detective (Bing) to find out who did the awful deed.

The sad thing is that the movie hasn't been released on DVD. A big "thank you" goes to Jerry, who actually had the film on his computer and was able to send it to us!! The movie was great, and the songs were fabulous. In fact, Bing sings a love song called You're in Love With Someone. It's probably one of my top three favorite songs. Ever. Wow! I mean, it doesn't get more romantic than this. I don't usually embed videos on this blog, but this is an exception --- so here it is.

The thing that Mom got was the original sheet music for this song. Wow! It is (apparently) quite rare, so it's really special that she got it! It arrived in the mail today, and Elizabeth and I have already played it. Oh boy!! Boy howdy! Goody gumdrops! Yippee, yahoo and double goody! (Okay, so that used up all of the expressions that I can think of to express my extreme pleasure.) More later.