Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Almost cut my hair..."

Happened just the other day...

or maybe, more appropiately:

Get a hair cut dad!
Get a hair cut dad!
Make it your next stop,
Down at the barber shop.
Get a hair cut dad!
Get a hair cut dad!
Come on, enough is enough;
Come on dad, grow up!"

(Austin Lounge Lizards)

Actually, I did cut my hair, five years ago.

People who've only met me recently probably have no idea that for a good number of years I was a long-haired freak, having grown my hair as long is would grow. This style choice was driven mostly by my desire for a hair style that required the least maintenance given that I have a very hard time making it to the stylist on a regular basis. It was either as long as it would grow ("give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer...") or a buzz cut I could maintain with clippers. Julie nixed the short approach, so long it was.

But after nearly 10 years I was starting to get tired of it and it was starting to become something of a cliche in Austin--the middle-aged dude with the ponytail and beard. So it was time for a change.

DSCN0399We saved the ponytail for donation to Locks of Love.

I tried the clipper route for a while, and even toyed with shaving my head completely, but eventually settled for a close styled cut that can grow out without looking too wild.

I showed some of these pictures to Dada today and she found it pretty amusing that at one time her dad had hair as long as hers.

Uploading old Photos to Flickr

I'm finally getting around to uploading our archive of older digital pictures to Flickr. Currently our Flickr photo set starts essentially with our trip to China to get Dada. No reason not to have everything up there.

If you do go to our Flickr page ( or if you're subscribed to the photostream, you'll start to see pictures from our pre-Dada past, like this one of our dear departed animal companion George, who passed away in 2004.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Snake on a Bridge

Yesterday Dada and I took a bike ride down to Town Lake after dinner. Our route took us over the Lamar pedestrian bridge, which goes across Town Lake.

As we were approaching the north end, I saw a guy taking a picture of what appeared to be perfectly ordinary bushes, but as we passed I saw that he was taking a picture of a large snake, stretched out on the concrete.

We stopped and went back to look at the snake.

This picture doesn't reflect the size, but it was easily 3 feet long, a fully-adult snake of the "not a cute little garter snake" variety.

Nobody there at the moment knew what type of snake it was but I knew it definitely wasn't one of the harmless varieties around there (black snakes, rat snakes, etc.) and looked like it could be a copperhead or water moccasin, both of which are indigenous to the Hill Country and both are water snakes.

The snake wasn't being threatening but I didn't get any closer than I had to for this picture (a cell phone picture, so I was stretching my hand out toward the snake's head).

I've done a little online research to see if I could identify it but haven't found anything conclusive. It's markings are like cottonmouth except that the colors are reversed from what I saw in the pictures on line. It's definitely not a copperhead, which has a more triangular head and different markings.

Anyone know what kind of snake this is?

Not being snake handlers we didn't didn't linger and rode off to see if there were any bats emerging from the Congress Ave. bridge (there were not as it was still a little early in the evening).

On the way home we rode past Jo's Coffee Shop on South Congress, where we heard rock music. We circled the parking lot to check it out and then I rode on, but Dada was all "I want to hear the music", so we went back and listened to a couple of tunes before heading on up the hill toward home. Dada is definitely a rock and roll girl.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Country Boy

Tonight I am in Guilford, CT, staying at The B&B at the Bartlett Farm, a farmhouse B&B.

Being a farm they have farm animals. The proprietor's son took me on a little walk in the evening, during a brief respite in the weather between storm systems (it had been cloudy and threatening all day, but the sky cleared as I headed to New Haven from Norwalk and the evening was beautiful, if a little chilly).

I took a few pictures of the various animals on the farm (goats, chickens, fallow deer, a bull calf and a steer, a horse, a sheep, a donkey [which apparently protects the deer from coyotes]) and this was the only good one, but it came out really nice, I thought.

Tomorrow, I have a sales call on a potential client in Guilford and then it's on to Houston to spend the weekend at Peggy's lake house with Julie and Dada, assuming I can successfully navigate the Metro North transit system back to Grand Central and then over to LGA in time to catch my flight to Houston.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Night in Gotham

Today I traveled to Norwalk, Connecticut via NYC. I was to have arrived in NYC around 4:00 but because of the weather, didn't pop up out of Penn Station until after 8:00, at which point the skies opened up for one last drenching before the storms passed out to sea.

During the downpour I spied the Empire State Building looming up out of the mist and, despite the rain, had to grab some shots, of which this is the best. I also took a video of the scene, trying to capture the clouds scutting past the top of the building, but I had the camera sideways and I don't know of any way to rotate video.

I sort of expected to see the Bat signal on the clouds.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"If I can Make It There..."

New York Trip: Day 2

On Sunday we woke reasonably well rested and ready to hit the day. Our plan was to go to Chinatown for dim sum and then to the Statue of Liberty. We had to be at Penn Station no later than 6:00 p.m. in order to get a train to Newark Airport in order to catch our 8:20 flight back to Austin.

We packed up our stuff in good time, handed over our bags to the Bell Captain and were back on the street by 9:30, headed for Grand Central and the subway downtown.

The morning was a little cool--the wind was from the north and brisk but it wasn't too bad. We made it into the subway station and bought a couple more metro cards (we were buying the $7.00 one-day passes). Julie went through the tall turnstile and then I tried to go through, but with Dada in the sling, I accidentally pushed on the wrong set of bars and got locked out. I tried my card again and it said "you've just gone through, nice try". A bit frantic, I went back to the card machine and started to try to buy a single-trip card when an enterprising young man hanging out by the machine offered to sell me entrance to the turnstile for two dollars, which offer I gladly accepted. Reunited, we caught the 6 (or was it the 5?) back down to Canal St. and popped up once again in Chinatown.

I was expecting it to be pretty quiet at that time on a Sunday morning, but it was nearly as bustling as it had been the night before, although there seemed to be more people quietly asking us if we wanted to buy CDs or designer handbags. After a moment of confusion we got ourselves oriented and headed for the Jing Fang dim sum restaurant, which was the first one on the list Julie had made from the guide book.

P1000076We found the place and went up. It was a typical large-format dim sum place, with a sea of tables and lots of ladies pushing carts around. We got lots of yummy things, eating faster than we probably should have. Dada enjoyed the noodles especially, and ate the Jello layers off some little sweet bean desserts. After about an hour of eating we paid up and headed back down to the street.

Crossing Canal St. we noticed a cell phone lying in the street, so I rushed over and grabbed it, setting it on the base of a light pole there on the corner. It seemed like the something I had to do.

We did a little souvenier shopping there along Canal as we worked our way back to the Lafayette St. subway stop, buying some T-shirts and postcards. We went back down into the Subway and, after some puzzling, worked out both which line would take us closest to Battery Park and how to catch that line. I must say that I do not find the signage in the NY subway system to be, shall we say, understandable.

Anyway, we eventually got the train we needed and got off at Bowling Green. Julie went across the street to the post office to try to buy some stamps (for the post cards) while I bought a hat in preparation for the coming boat ride to Liberty Island.

We headed down the hill to Battery Park, only to be presented with a construction fence that appeared to block all access to the park. But we worked it out and wandered around and eventually found Clinton Castle, where you buy your tickets for the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. We got in the line for tickets, having walked past the long line to get on the ferry (long in absolute terms, but probably short relative to what it will be like in a month or two).

Not long after we got in line, a guy approached us and asked if we were taking any tours. At first we thought he was some kind of tour guide but when we said "no", he said "here, have our tickets--we just realized we don't have time to take the ride, we have to go back to {England|Australia|Ireland}.", handed us the tickets and walked away, looking a bit downcast.

Wondering at our good fortune, we stepped back out and got into the line for the ferry. It was only later that we realized we could have easily offered to pay the guy for the tickets.

The line moved relatively quickly and there were buskers every couple of park benches that kept things entertaining. I think it probably took us 20 minutes or so to get to the security check tent, where we had to do an airport-style security screen (except we got to keep our shoes on). After some struggle to put myself back together (belt, camera, sling, Dada, jacket, in that order), we hustled into the staging area where you get on the boat, only to have the gate closed right in front of us. Doh! But at least we'd be at the front of the line for the next boat and get our pick of the seats on the top of the ferry.

P1000080After not too long the next ferry came to the dock and we got on board, grabbing a good seat up top. Dada wanted food but we wanted to wait until we got to Liberty Island, which we did.

We enjoyed the boat ride, Dada's first. I was happy for the sling as it meant she could lean over the rail to look at the water without any great danger. She also enjoyed the constant parade of helicopters that flew back and forth across the harbor.

P1000085Finally, we arrived at Liberty Island and worked our way off the ferry. We found the food area and got in line. We were all pretty hungry by this point. It was about 11:30 by now but it was still crowded and the organization of the restaurant didn't help but I was able to get an order in. Amazingly, when I got my two trays with their tippy drinks (with Dada in the sling), there was an employee there to help us (Julie had been getting some soup for Dada while I got the hot dogs)--wow. I paid and she helped us get our food to a nice outdoor table.

We had a nice relaxed lunch, watching the wide variety of people there--families from all over the world. Dada got a little nutrition into her. Then we set off to walk around the statue and see what there was.

P1000088By this time the weather had cleared nicely--it was just about perfect, with a few fluffy clouds to accent the statue, a little breeze. We walked around the statue, marveling at its grandeur. Dada was walking--we had to insist that she actually use her legs for this part of the trip. She had a great time running about.

P1000094We worked our way around to the back of the statue in the hope that we might be able to go up to the promenade, only to discover that to go up in the statue you have to buy a special ticket at least two days in advance. We were sad. Dada is still talking about it--"we didn't have the right ticket". So we walked back around the statue--Dada had said she wanted to see the Lady's face again--she was somewhat concerned about whether or not she had ears; we determined that in fact she did have ears.

P1000097Dada ran around on the grass, ensuring that she would be in dozens of other families' photos.

The afternoon wearing on, we bought some ice cream for Dada and ourselves (Dada wanted chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles--what we ended up with was chocolate frozen yogurt with sprinkles that tasted like chocolate chalk, but Dada liked it). With our cones in hand, we got in the queue for the ferry to Ellis Island and back to Manhattan. The trip back was just as thrilling as the trip out, with Manhattan spread out before us (we did not get off at Ellis Island--we were pretty sure that it would not have anything to offer Dada at this age). We got off the ferry and wandered back into Battery Park.

P1000103We came onto a little fountain plaza with jets that shoot up--you can walk among the jets. Dada wanted to touch the jets, which we did.

Now it was time to get back to our hotel, collect our bags, and make our way to Penn station. It was a little after 3:00, which had been my rough time goal, figuring it would take us at least an hour to get from Battery Park to Penn Station, given that we had to collect our bags.

We found the Bowling Green station and grabbed the 5 train back to Grand Central, enjoying the opportunity to sit down for awhile. Dada fell fast asleep in the sling as soon as the subway got under way. We got out at Grand Central and walked back to the hotel. We had made good time so we took the opportunity to rest there in the hotel lobby. I collapsed onto a couch with Dada asleep on my chest. I ordered a very welcome beer and chilled while Julie arranged for our bags.

Around five, we roused ourselves and headed out on the street to wait for the doorman to get us a cab to Penn station. After some struggle to get a cab, we got loaded up and took cab ride number 6 (Dada had been carefully keeping track of the number of cab rides we took). It was a quintessential NY cab ride, with a chatty driver from Ghana, dashing through crowded midtown streets, only to discover that Penn station was awash with Rangers fans just leaving Madison Square Garden following the Rangers' loss. The usual cab stand in front of Penn station was blocked off but the cabby was able to convince the cops to let him drop us off next to the barricades, which we had to duck under.

We rushed down into the bowels of Penn station, headed for the NJ Transit side, bought our tickets and literally had about two minutes to make the train. We rushed to the platform, jumped on, and pushed our way through the cars crowded with Rangers fans, finally finding an open backward facing seat, putting us knee-to-knee with a couple of fresh-faced kids heading home from a day in the City.

After some momentary anxiety over which stop was actually EWR, we got off at the Newark Airport stop, went up and over and got onto the little Airtrain monorail that takes you right to your concourse. I love this aspect of Newark Airport, that you can take a train from Manhattan right to concourse C.

Since we were not checking our bags, we checked in at a kiosk and got into the security line. The line was long but moved fast enough and soon we were inside Airworld, my second home. Now in the warm embrace of the air transport system, I breathed easier.

P1000111We had about an hour before we had to be at our gate, so we made our way to the Continental President's club, which my AmEx card gives me access to when I'm traveling on Continental. We found some seats, made a little nest, grabbed some snacks (crackers and cheese, an apple, some water to drink). Julie went and got me a beer while Dada and I snacked and then went over to the big windows to watch the airplanes. Julie found a USA Today ("The hometown paper of Airworld") and relaxed.

As our boarding time approached, we made the obligatory potty stop, collected our bags, and headed for the gate, which was of course at the end of one arm of the concourse. We had to remind ourselves not to rush, there was no hurry, but it's such an instinct. I had to keep slowing down to let Julie and Dada (who was, remarkably, walking) catch up.

We made it to the gate area in good order. We had a small problem with our seat assignments, which was that we had two seats in one row and one seat, a middle, in the row in front. I asked the gate agent if she could do anything and there wasn't much she could do. Oh well. I could have given her our tickets and waited to see if somebody didn't show, but I decided I'd rather get on the plane earliest rather than bet on better seats.

Dada watched airplanes and played on the ground, burning off a little energy. By the windows where we could see the planes, we met a deaf Rastafarian who was obviously part of a band (he had a collection of guitars next to him). We used our pidgin sign language to remark on the big airplanes.

As we were waiting, the gate agent motioned me over and told me that a window seat had opened up next to our row, which allowed us to take a window seat that we could trade for the window seat next to the two seats we already had, so I took that gratefully. Nobody in their right mind would trade a window for a middle, but trading a window for a window not next to a three-year-old is a no-brainer. Such is the currency of air travel.

Boarding time finally arrived and we asserted our privilege as a family traveling with small children to board as soon as we could. We settled into our row, putting Dada into her pajamas (which we had packed into her little backpack).

The band settled into the rows around us, with the Rasta dude sitting across from us. They were running out of bin space for their instruments, so Dude was trying to put what looked like a case with a mandolin or maybe a ukulele under the seat, which wasn't working. So I handed him a blanket to try to disguise it, which he accepted gratefully. The flight attendants never challenged him.

The flight was uneventful, although Dada stayed awake for most of it, finally going to sleep across Julie's lap after a fit of maddening squirming. Thank goodness for the portable DVD player we had bought for the trip--Julie and I were both way too tired to really have been able to engage Dada for the whole flight.

We arrived in Austin at about 11:30 p.m. and made our way off the plane, Dada once again awake. We got into the car (we had parked in the garage as close in as we could) and zipped back home, grateful for having built a house only 10 minutes from the airport.

Julie got Dada back into bed while I cleaned up the worst of the dog pee that had accumulated due to the combination of drugs that make the dogs very thirsty and the malfunctioning of our electronic dog door that effectively trapped the dogs in the house.

Finally, Dada in bed and the pee flood under control, we collapsed into bed and fell into a deep and welcome sleep in our own home, vowing to never again fly so early or so late with a child.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"The Bronx is Up, The Battery's Down"

"The people ride in a hole in the ground.
New York, New York, it's a heck of a town."

New York Trip: Day 1

This last weekend we went to NYC for a family vacation. This was to be the first time for us to travel as a family where we were not specifically visiting family and where Dada was old enough to really understand where she was. I happened to need to be in Philadelphia on Friday so we made a weekend out of it. [All the pictures of this trip are in Flickr set, NYC Trip May 2007. Most of the pictures are friends and family only.]

We started with a very early flight from Austin to Philadelphia Friday morning. Our flight left Austin at 5:40 a.m. Of course, Dada woke up as we were putting her in the car and stayed awake until we were in the cab heading to my appointment outside Philadelphia, where she fell sound asleep.

Dada was a great traveler. We really didn't know what to expect but we knew that with any 3-year-old you have to be prepared for anything. As it happened, Dada only had two very minor meltdowns, the first when we tried to put the seatbelt on her on the plane in Austin, the second when we tried to put the belt on her in the cab from the Philly airport. Other than that she was happy and delightful the whole time. I think too that in the future we will try to schedule our travel to not be at quite such horrendous times.

Our plan was to take the train from Philly to NYC. We were assured that from where my meeting was, we could take a cab around 4:00 and easily catch the 5:15 train to Penn Station. The next regional train left Philly at about 6:30, so I really wanted to get that earlier train so we wouldn't be rolling into NYC really late.

We got our cab at 4:00 and started toward the 30th street Amtrak station in downtown Philadelphia, only to discover that traffic all over the area was jammed. Our poor cab driver was pretty stressed. He ended up taking really twisty back ways, but he finally got us to the train station at 5:05. We rushed in, Julie and Dada got in line for the ticket booth and I went to a kiosk to try to buy tickets. I was able to do so, after a couple of maddening false starts and we rushed for the track, which meant getting in a long line of people heading down a single escalator. But we got on the train with two minutes to spare and were headed for NYC.

In the run-up to the trip we had been explaining to Dada that we would be going to "New York City", to which she would respond "New York City?! Oh my gosh!". We have no idea where she got that, but it was painfully cute.

We arrived at Penn Station tired but happy to finally be within striking distance of our hotel. We hadn't had much to eat all day so we stopped at the first Deli we came to in the train station and had a sandwich and something to drink. Fed, we headed up and out of the station, stopping at an ATM to replenish our cash supply (the cabs in the Philly area had been way more expensive than I had expected).

We popped up into the bright afternoon sun there on 7th ave in front of Madison Square Garden. There was a long queue for cabs so we started to head for the subway until we realized we had no idea how to actually get on the subway, except that we knew we needed fare cards. So we got in the cab line and waited.

P1000069The line actually went quite quickly and soon we were on our way to the Tutor Hotel at the UN, which is between 3rd and 2nd avenues on 42nd street, on the edge of the Tudor Village, in the shadow of the Chrysler building. We got into our room without too much trouble. I had booked the room with Expedia and it was supposed to have had a queen bed but it just had a double. We were so tired that by the time we realized the problem we weren't willing to deal with it then.

Dada was wound up and Julie needed a rest and a little time to herself after a long day of wrangling Dada while I had my meeting, so Dada and I went down to the street to see what was happening.

P1000024As it happened, there was a little playscape just down the block from the hotel. The Tudor Village is this little collection of quaint brick buildings that sits just south of the UN building. There is a little park complex that sits above 42nd St. with playscapes on both sides. So Dada and I spent about 30 minutes playing on the playscape and enjoying the beautiful spring evening air. Dada was demanding ice cream so we walked over to a little bodega that was right there and got an ice cream bar. We sat in a little park to eat it, listening to the sounds of some kids having a whiffle ball game in back of one of the buildings next to the park (we know it was whiffle ball because at one point a whiffle ball came flying over the fence).

Finally we went back to the room and went to sleep, with Dada "camping out" on the floor, after a few plaintive declarations that she wanted to sleep on the bed.

The next morning I went back to the bodega to grab some bagels and coffee while Dada slept, coming back to the room just as she was waking up. We ate our breakfast and got our acts together and headed out, our eventual destination being the Museum of Natural History, by way of Time's Square.

P1000043We walked down 42nd Street, stopping in at Grand Central Station to check it out and see if we could figure out how to get a fare card. No dice (we just didn't know where to go and hadn't noticed the dedicated subway entrance on Park Ave.). So we continued on to Times Square, where we discovered that Broadway was blocked off following what we assumed was a celebration for Spiderman3, given that there was red and white confetti everywhere. We walked around and tried to find an uptown subway entrance, with no luck, although we were able to get a subway map at the Times Square information booth.

P1000047Finally, tired and frustrated, we stopped into the Hello Deli, of David Letterman fame, and had a cup of coffee and a snack. The lady behind the counter told us that we could find a bathroom at the Starbucks around the corner and that there was a subway entrance across the street. Both were sort of true, except the Starbucks she pointed us to was a My First Starbucks with no bathroom, but there was one half a block up that did. We stood in line and eventually everyone got their potty break. Then we went to the subway entrance, only to discover that it was weekdays only. Doh!

We were starting to get a little stressed, as we were only at 53rd St. and didn't really want to walk even to Columbus Circle at 59th (the south edge of Central Park), much less the museum up at 89th. We wanted a cab but didn't see too many, partly because the closure of Broadway had undoubtedly diverted many cabs. But finally I was able to flag one down and he whisked us to the museum.

P1000049We got to the Museum of Natural History at about 11:00. Dada was very excited to see dinosaur bones, partly because she had her own "bone" (a little plastic bone pool toy) and she wanted to re-enact a Curious George episode where George tries to trade a bone he found for a dinosaur bone. We saw dinosaurs and stuff then decided to get lunch at the cafe at the dinosaur area. Sadly it was closed, so it was back down to the 1st floor to another cafe. Had some decent food then started heading out toward the park to enjoy the beautiful weather and get some ice cream, which Dada was very keen on. On the way we looked at dioramas of birds and Asian animals and stuff. Oh, and while we were waiting in line for the bathroom (apparently there was only one bathroom on the 1st floor, a family bathroom), Dada spent a lot of time studying the large snail display. She appears to have developed a solid interest in snails. [She also recognized the Continental logo as a snail ("are we going to fly one with a snail?"), which it looks a little like, at least compared to the large brown and white snails we've been finding in our yard.]

Eventually we popped back out into the day. We got some ice cream and sat down on a bench to each it, with Dada eating the chocolate coating while Julie and I ate the ice cream itself.

By now it was time to start heading back toward the hotel for nap time, so we wandered south, staying close to the edge of the park so we could pop back out and get on the subway. We wanted Dada to run around in the park but she would have none of it, wanting to ride in the sling. So I carried her in the sling as she got sleepier and sleepier. We eventually found the 72nd St. station, bought a couple of fare cards after a little trying (the machine wouldn't accept my ATM card when I tried to buy the second card) and went in, only to realize we'd gone in on the uptown side. But we had unlimited ride cards so we just went out and found the downtown side. Finally we made our way to Grand Central, Dada sleeping like a baby. We had to transfer at some point, I think at Penn station, which was a long walk, but we made it.

We got back to the hotel, Dada still asleep, and put her on the bed, where she immediately woke up. We also discovered that one of her tennis shoes was missing, having come off at some point on our subway trip. Julie had bought these shoes in Philly as we'd failed to bring anything other than flip flops for Dada in our haste to leave Friday morning. Oh well.

P1000067We tried to nap but Dada was awake and not going back to sleep and I couldn't really sleep, so Dada and I went back out to play on the playscape while Julie napped. There were a number of kids at the playground and Dada had fun playing with them. Unfortunately for Julie, Housekeeping came around and chased her out of the room, so she came and kept us company.

From a family standpoint, the Tudor Hotel worked out really well, being right there in a very family-friendly neighborhood. We definitely got a little of the experience of what it's like to live in NYC with children, at least in a place where relatively wealthy people live. The main downside was that the closest subway was several long blocks away at Grand Central. But it was otherwise a nice hotel--I think we got a deal because the UN is out of session and they were having a "grand reopening", have named the hotel back to the Hotel Tudor after having been a Comfort Inn or some such for a little while (this name change seriously confused one of our cab drivers).

About four or so it was time to head towards dinner.

P1000068We had decided to go to Little Italy for Italian food. We collected our jackets, made one last potty stop at the hotel, and headed back up 42nd St. to catch the subway at Grand Central. As we were walking, miracle of miracles, we saw Dada's lost tennis shoe waiting for us right on the corner of 3rd Ave and 42nd St. We were amazed and quite happy.

P1000073We found the right subway line and headed down to the Canal St. stop, coming up out into a very different city at Canal and Lexington, where Chinatown and Little Italy overlap. We walked up to Mulberry and found our destination restaurant, a place our "New York with Children" guidebook had suggested as good but moderately priced. It was a great place, full of people and Italian-speaking waiters. At one point the owner, a man in his 60's, came over and fussed over Dada's pasta, taking it back to the kitchen to add some water and butter and then feeding it to her. She was a little taken aback at first but then gladly accepted the food.

After our dinner we wandered up Mulberry, taking in the sights of Little Italy, in search of a place to get some, yes, ice cream. We stopped at a little Italian bakery and gelato place, where I had an amazingly good cup of espresso, we all had fantastic little cookies, and then we had very good chocolate gelato.

P1000075Sated, we headed on into the setting sun. After a couple of blocks we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and dropped into the subway to go back north.

We were back in the room about 9:00. Julie succeeded in getting Dada to sleep on the floor while I took some pain killers and a hot bath to help my back, which was a little stressed from a day of carrying Dada around in the sling.

But we'd had a wonderful first day in NYC, with perfect weather and only a few travel snafus and two minor miracles (the other being that some hats we'd bought and left at the Italian restaurant were still there when we went back after eating our ice cream and realizing we'd left the hats, which we realized because we bought a little bag of cookies and wanted to put them in the hat bag to carry).

Our plan for day two was to eat dim sum in Chinatown and then visit the Statue of Liberty before heading out to Newark Airport for our 8:20 p.m. flight back to Austin.

Next up: Day 2, Wooden Ships on the Water

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Plague of Snails

The extraordinarily wet weather we've had this spring has resulted in a plague of snails. They are everywhere and they are big. The chickens pretty much don't want to see any more snails.

The other evening Julie went out and collected a bucket of snails. I decided it looked like an interesting photographic opportunity, what with the interesting colors of the shells against the orange background. I had in mind one of those pictures where a large number of ordinary objects combine together to form an abstract pattern against a solid background.

What I didn't count on was how fast the snails are--you'd think you could take your time working out a composition but no, the little buggers will be up and over the wall by the time you've got the camera positioned. Because of the low light conditions, I was using the self timer, which added to the problem.

I also think I really need a snail stylist to fully realize my vision--these snails were all kind of wet and the bucket had a lot of dirt and stuff. But I didn't have the time or patience or interest to both dry off the snail shells and clean up the bucket. Maybe next time.

If you want to see the rest of my snail shots, they're on Flickr tagged as "snails".