Friday, January 23, 2009

Impending Doom

I did what I often do on Sundays and went to Guardian Angel today. If you don't know, that's a thrift store which donates their profits to Alzheimers reserach. The employees appeared to be doing extra cleaning in the back of the store in both the 'guy' section and the 'toy' section. The boys were disappointed that all they had out in the toy section were stuffed animals. The action figures, baby toys, cars, etc. were all gone. We browsed the store anyway. I picked out a few shirts. Joey had a few books. Johnny a new stuffed doggie. We were having a good time until the girl at the checkout told us that they won't be selling toys anymore. SAY WHAT?!? She goes, "Haven't you heard about the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act of 2008?" "Um, no, what's that?"

Remember all those recalls last year over lead in toys? How could you forget mailing back Thomas the Tank Engine engines or scrutinizing the latest Fisher Price recall notice.

All I can figure is that all those recalls sent some politicians into overdrive and they came up with this absolutely horrible response. In a nut shell, the new IMPROVEMENT to the act is going to mandate lead testing on toys and clothes intended for kids under 12 (or is that 12 and under?). The gist is that thrift stores really can't afford to test toys donated to them, and if they sell a toy that is later found to have a high lead content, they can be held liable. This applies to large companies that can afford the testing and to small businesses and crafty type people who make new toys and clothing for kids.

Can you just imagine how much this will cut into thrift store profits? Can you see the small business owner put out of business? Are we THAT concerned about lead in our kids' toys. Are we that incapable of reviewing recall notices and handling any toys in our homes included in them?

Oh, and apparently this applies to yard sales too. Can we even hand-me-down toys to family and friends without fear of liability?

Oh, I'm steaming on this one.

Think of all the additional toys that will end up in landfills because people like me have no place to donate them anymore. Do those politicians also have a plan for how to handle that?!? I thought buying used toys was a great way to be green. Not only did I save on all the packaging that new toys come in, but I also kept toys out of the landfill.

Think about all the poor parents out there thrilled to find a good quality hand-me-down at the local thrift store or yard sale so that they don't disappoint their kids at Christmas.

Think about the livelihood of small business owners crushed by this new law.

Did I mention I'm fuming over this?

It's time for a 'Change We Need' so let's get this fixed and ASAP.

Here's another interesting article.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Birds and Snow - A Good Combination

It doesn't snow often at our house in NC, and when it does, we're sure to get extra activity at the bird feeders. Sometimes, we even see birds that we normally don't see.

The picture above is a pine sisken. I took it out my office window. He's on the river birch just to the left. I see this guy at the feeder most days, but the snow really dressed him up for that picture.

There are 4 good before and after bird shots here including the pine sisken.

The picture below is a juvenile female yellow-bellied sapsucker. Try saying that fast 3 times. It took me and a friend several e-mail exchanges before she finally figured out what this bird was! It's hard enough to memorize all the adult versions of the birds let alone add in juveniles.

Now, the picture below is terrible quality, but I think it's worth mentioning that I also saw a Northern Flicker a few miles from the house yesterday near my favorite barn/homestead. This picture was taken near dusk from a distance of at least 250 feet.

The Northern Flicker was in the tree just to the left of the barn.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Smiles of Snow

It started snowing Monday night while we were all sleeping. By 4AM, there was a dusting. By 6AM, there was enough to get excited about. And, it snowed and kept on snowing until finally the sun thought about coming out late afternoon. Final tally at our house...6 inches. Woooo! Hoooo!
I think snow brings out the little kid in all of us. And, there's nothing more endearing than the smile kids wear on a snow day...especially when it's their first snow.
I took a lot of pictures today...a sure sign of a good day for me. We were outside sledding for 60-90 minutes twice. Both outtings were followed by hot chocolate. Mom took bird pictures out her office window. Late afternoon, the boys and I made a snowman. Well, it was more of an iceman, but it's got a hat, scarf, etc. thus fulfilling the snowman criteria in the boys' eyes. I rolled the slush in the street to make the balls because the snow just wouldn't pack.
Temps are forecast to rise above freezing tomorrow. So, unfortunately, the snow won't last long. But, it sure was nice while it lasted.
Today's best morning pics are here. All the morning pics are here.
This afternoon's pics are here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Time Has Come - Photoshop Elements 7.0

Well, I am the proud owner of my first copy of Photoshop something. In this case, it's Photoshop Elements 7.0. I am well on the road to going just nuts editing and fixing photos. But, it's a long road to get good at Photoshop. Here are a few first tries.

Besides converting this one to pencil, I removed two lines (but I need to do a better job of that).
Wouldn't these illustrations make great illustrations in childrens' books?

I love the composition of this picture but not the color.
Maybe my first attempt at adjusting it is a little better.
So, if I'm not sleeping or talking or...I'm probably learning how to create stunning photos in Photoshop Elements:-) Don't worry too much, I can eat and type at nearly the same time:-)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Birds

It was a dreary, cold, and wet day in NC today. So the boys' pleads to go to Lake Wheeler were met with suggestions to go build something with Lego bricks.

The boys and I had been planning to make pine cone, peanut butter, and wild birdseed 'feeders' for the birds all week, so we did those this morning. Gotta love peanut butter on little kid fingers:-) Hopefully the birds will get some and not just our squirrel birds.

Midday, it was leftover chicken soup followed by chocolate-dipped bananas. Yum!

Later in the day, I was in my office trying to regroup when Joey showed up out of the blue with the drawing of the cardinal. I was really touched. He went on to draw a blue heron and red headed woodpecker and several other birds of his imagination. Neat!

The rest of today's pics are here.