2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

In Search of Next Year’s Christmas Card

Yes, you read that right. Christmas is barely past and I’ve turned my thoughts to next year already. Truth be known I started thinking about next year’s card as soon as I cracked open the boxes of decorations. You see the images I use for my Christmas Cards are always taken in the previous season. If I waited, I’d never get the new cards made and in the mail on time.

So far this year I just haven’t gotten a picture that gives me a “WOW” factor.

I heard that the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA was including photos with Santa’s Reindeer as part of their Zoo Lights celebration and that caught my attention.


I debated with myself if it was worth a trip because I’d have to drive through Boston at night to get there. The price of admission wasn’t too much, only $7.00 and tickets could be ordered on line.

I debated all December but didn’t break down until yesterday. I made a last minute decision, printed a ticket and headed out.

It was unseasonably warm and I thought that being a Saturday maybe, just maybe, the traffic wouldn’t be too bad. Wrong. 🙁  Traffic through Boston does not take the weekend off.

Once there I was told the parking lot was filled to capacity but to cruise around and maybe I’d get lucky. At least the parking was free and eventually I did find a space. I noted the location by the wolf at the end of aisle.

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Santa’s Castle was gorgeous but it was roped off and apparently closed. Santa must be resting up from his long ride.

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I couldn’t get over the people trying to see the animals in the dark. Silly people. After asking a few people I finally got directed to the Reindeer Encounter. A $5.00 donation was requested for the opportunity to take your picture with your own camera with the Reindeer. A bench was in front of the reindeer (caribou) enclosure and two handlers stood in the enclosure with the animal.

I waited in the long line. The way it snaked around did not let me get a good look at the lighting until it was my turn. I made some quick guesswork on camera settings, paid my $5.00 and stepped into the lights. The handlers got the animal to raise his head and I snapped away.

After my moment I retreated to another bench to check the result. The ones with the faster shutter speed were too dark

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and the ones when I switched to aperture priority were properly exposed but the shutter speed was too slow and I got camera shake.

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With nothing usable I put the camera on the tripod and got back on line to try again. The line had grown and was now huge, snaking around the enclosure. As I debated if I really wanted to stand in line that long there was a break in the brush around the enclosure. The reindeer was lying down now and looked like it was about to go to sleep.

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I pushed into the little break and shot off a series of quick photos. I didn’t get what I wanted but maybe I’ll have better luck next year. The search for next year’s card photo continues…


Rocky’s Antics

Rocky must have been feeling left out since Buddy was getting all of the attention. I had to protect the tree didn’t I?

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So while Buddy attacked the Christmas tree, Rocky went missing. I saw him head into the bedroom but he usually doesn’t spend much time there if Buddy and I are in the living room so when he didn’t come back I began to get a little concerned. After all, he’s no spring chicken at 13.

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I tried calling him..no luck . Not even an answering meow. I looked under the bed, in the closet, even opened the bottom drawers of the dresser. No cat. Buddy was at my feet but he wasn’t any help unless tripping me counted.

The tree box was standing on end  at the bottom of my bed. I took a chance and  peaked in the tree box and there was a little ginger face looking back at me. He got in and couldn’t get back out. I tipped the box on its side and Rocky flew out like he was shot from a cannon. Once out he gave himself a lick and a shake and walked off as if nothing happened.

Today Rocky gave me my Christmas present. A little late but no less sweet.

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Rocky and I used to play fetch. He could go at the game for hours. The rules were simple. Rocky would bring a mousie to me and I’d throw it. He would retrieve it and bring it back and I’d throw it again. I was always careful to follow the rules because if I changed them he’d quit. He’d quit if Smokey decided to join in too. It was a very sensitive balance.



Since Smokey passed over the rainbow bridge Rocky hasn’t once brought a toy mouse to me to play fetch. Oh he plays with the toys but like a normal cat. I tried to get him to play a few times and he’d just walk away.

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Well today he brought me a toy mouse and laid it at my feet. I picked it up and you could see his body tense, a sure sign he wanted me to throw it. So I did and held my breathe. Yes! He took off after the toy, caught it and proudly brought it back. We played like that for about 10 minutes until the mouse took a bad bounce and escaped under the china cabinet.

In spite of my best effort to rescue it the momentum was lost but for a few minutes we’d enjoyed a fun game that I thought was in the past.

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Thanks Rocky 🙂

(The cat picture with the mouse in its mouth isn’t mine nor is it of Rocky. I have never been able to capture that shot but this is exactly how Rocky looks. The same look in his eyes. Nice shot whoever took this.)