Birding - Barn Swallow


We were born and raised in a summer haze

Bound by the surprise of our glory days

Website Tips for Wedding Photographers
Birding - Barn Swallow
One of the most important parts of our wedding (to me) was having pictures to remember it by. So I spent a decent amount of time looking online for a wedding photographer.  I found so many websites that I wished I could fix, but since I can't, I'm making this list instead! Obviously these are just the opinions of one customer, but I am sure other people will back me up on some of them.

Also, this is all assuming you already have a website for your wedding photography business. If you don't, I don't know how you are getting work! Get on the internet!!

1. Go easy on the Flash. Yes, OK, me having an iPhone is my problem, not yours.  But even on my real computer, elaborate transitions between pictures can get really annoying.  If I am trying to run through 100 pictures in an album and it takes 5 seconds just to go from one picture to the next, I am going to get tired and stop.  And in your galleries, don't make me hunt around for the "Next" button by hiding it until I mouse over some magical spot.

2. For the love of God, no auto-playing music! This wasn't cool on Myspace in 2004 and it isn't cool now.  Think of your poor customer!  Maybe I'm watching Doctor Who while I look for a photographer and now there's jazz coming from the TARDIS and it's confusing.  Maybe my cat is on my lap and when I open your page he's startled by the music and runs away and now I'm bleeding.  If you really think your photos need musical enhancement to get the right emotional reaction, have optional music that the viewer can turn on.  Then see how often it actually gets turned on.

3. If you're cagey about your pricing, I assume I can't afford you.  This may be your goal.  If not, at least give me a base price.

4. Need input!  I am nervous about screwing up this important aspect of my wedding.  I will be reassured if you tell me about your experience, why you are a wedding photographer, and what the process will involve.  Answer some FAQs or walk me through an example wedding day from your perspective.  This may just be me, but I like photographers' blogs because I get a sense of them as a person.  I see their photographic skills in non-wedding situations, how actively they are out taking pictures, and if they share articles or tips that show they know what they're doing.

5. This is your resume.
No typos, no grammar errors.

The photographer I went with (Edward Underwood) had a very non-annoying website.  Of course I picked him because I liked his pictures, but the website was a plus!

My Big Fat Portuguese Wedding
Birding - Barn Swallow
Ok! So! I never got around to mentioning this on LJ/Xanga during the planning stages, but: Carlos and I got married at the end of September (yay!).  We only dated 11+ years and were engaged for 4+, so you know, we may have rushed a little, but I think we're going to do alright.  I want to write a post to record a few things I don't want to forget, and then this wedding will be out of my brain for good and I'll be free!
(Despite the title, this isn't really about the Portuguese-ness of our wedding, sorry.)

Costa Rica Part 3: PN Manuel Antonio and Goodbye Costa Rica
Birding - Barn Swallow
Part 1 (Arrival and Arenal) is here and Part 2 (Monteverde) is here.  More pictures (and fewer words) from this part of the trip are on Picasa here.

Friday, April 9, 2010
Once again we had a long drive, but this time it at least half of it was paved and not so winding.  Our GPS had a tour guide function that told us about things we drove past.  As we drove over the Rio Tarcoles we noticed lots of cars parked by the bridge.  I figured people were fishing but then the GPS told us that everyone had stopped to look at crocodiles!  Of course we pulled over & checked them out ourselves.  Several of them were really, really big.

Amusingly, on the bridge we ran into a family we had been ziplining with in Monteverde.  I never claimed our trip was original!

Birds on the drive: *Wood Stork, *Northern Jacana

Click for the SCARLET MACAW ADVENTURE, beaches, and evil monkeys!Collapse )

Final Thoughts
- I ended up with 90 lifers!
- I should have learned some Spanish before the trip.  Although many people there speak some English, it would have been helpful.  Carlos tried to get by with Portuguese but there are many words that just aren't the same.
- Driving was OK because Carlos drove and he's used to driving in Portugal.  The roads were potentially very dangerous, though.
- Monteverde was my favorite place, and the only place I think I could live in Costa Rica (everywhere else was way too hot).
- This trip rewired the birding circuits in my brain.  For a week or two after I got home, my heart fluttered every time I saw a bird fly by, thinking it was a potential lifer.  I saw Cardinals and Mourning Doves and our other common birds in a new light - they are pretty enough to be jungle birds.  The trip also reminded me how fun it is to see lifers, so I am searching for them more at home now.
- I wish I had a week at each location instead of a week total.  I wish I had seen a tiger heron and a motmot and a tapir.  I wish I'd gone on a mangrove tour.  I can't wait to go back someday.

Costa Rica Part 2: Monteverde
Birding - Barn Swallow
Read Part 1 here, and see pictures on Picasa for this part starting here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
About midday on Tuesday we left the Arenal area and drove west around the northern shore of the lake.  Apparently there is sometimes a road around the southern shore of the lake, but we didn't want to risk it in our rental 4WD.  The drive took a long time - it's not a huge distance but most of the way was unpaved and the entire way was winding and hilly.  We got to Monteverde and found our hotel just as the sun was going down.  We made arrangements through the hotel (Hotel Los Jardines) to meet a guide at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve the next morning, got some dinner, and were done for the day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is famous worldwide for its birds, specifically the Resplendent Quetzal.  It was the main reason I wanted to go to Costa Rica and it did not disappoint.

Avatar or Jurassic Park?

We met up with our guide and two other tourists shortly after the park opened.  It had been so hot in Arenal that thought I could wear shorts and a t-shirt.  Monteverde is at a much higher elevation and is on the Continental Divide, so it was pretty chilly.  I ended up having to borrow the guide's coat!
This entry is long too!Collapse )

Friday, April 9, 2010
Friday was our last day in Monteverde, and we were heading home on Sunday.  First thing in the morning we went back up to the cloud forest to see if we could see another quetzal and to get some souvenirs.  I had no luck with the quetzals which made my sighting the day before pretty special.  I was sad to go but it was time to head to the beach!

Goodbye, Monteverde!

Costa Rica Part 1: Arrival and Arenal
Birding - Barn Swallow
Back in April, Carlos and I went to Costa Rica for a week.  We hadn't been on a vacation alone together in years, basically since we bought the house (mortgage = no travelin' money).  Carlos wanted to go somewhere as a Christmas present to me.  Costa Rica had been on my list of places to go for a long time, mainly for the birds, so that's what we went with!  We tried to hit the most famous parts of the country, staying a few days each in Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio.  It was a busy trip so I'm going to split it up into three parts beginning with Arenal.  I'll include bird lists - asterisks mean lifers! - with links to articles or pictures about each bird.

More pictures from the entire trip (with fewer stories & explanations) are on Picasa.

Saturday, April 3, 2010
We got in to San Jose in the late afternoon/early evening.  My grandmother was already in Costa Rica, visiting a friend who lives in San Jose, so they were nice enough to come pick us up at the airport and bring us to our hotel!  We stayed at Hotel Aranjuez, which was very nice. After we dropped our stuff off at the hotel, my grandmother's friend took us to her church to see an Easter-eve service.  It began with a fire outside the church, which they used to light big church candles.  Everyone inside (including us) had their own candles.  People lit their candles from the church candles, then spread the light to the people around them, who spread it to the people near them, until the church was glowing with candlelight.  It was very pretty! 

After that there was some singing and then apparently they began reading the Bible from the beginning.  It was in Spanish so I had no idea what was going on.  After about half an hour of that with no end in sight we ducked out because I was starving.  We ate at a restaurant where my grandmother's friend had been going for years.  I tried black beans for the first time, they are really good!  Most of the restaurants we saw in San Jose were chain restaurants we have back here in the US.  It was a little odd.  Finally after dinner we went back to our hotel to get ready for lots of driving the next day.

San Jose birds: Great-tailed Grackle (saw these in Arizona a few years ago - no lifers yet!)

Sunday, April 4, 2010
We had breakfast at the hotel in the morning.  The gardens there were lush and beautiful:

View from the breakfast porch

I finally started getting some lifers as I ate breakfast. 

Hotel Aranjuez birds: *Rufous-collared Sparrow, *Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, *Clay-colored Robin (Costa Rica's national bird)

On to Arenal, with many picturesCollapse )

The next part is Monteverde, aka birders' mecca!

6 Changes (Updated)
Birding - Barn Swallow

Made some tweaks to my plan thanks to the comments!

Iam going to use the 6 Changes Method to create some good habits in 2010. The 6 Changes Method & site were created by Leo Babauta, who writes Zen Habits, which is one of my favorite blogs.

Here are the steps from the site &my planned implementation.

Cut for habity detailsCollapse )

So! Now you have permission to bug me and ask me if I have been building my habit or if Ihave really been so lazy I couldn't even put on exercise clothes and walk to the basement.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Tweets and Birds
Birding - Barn Swallow
Hello LJ friends!

I am hoping to write an actual post sometime soon, but meanwhile:

1. I have a Twitter now, it is much more active than my LJ because I only have to think of 140 characters to write at a time. I am @barnswallowkate.  (And if you don't have Twitter you can always add it to an RSS reader if you'd like.)

2. I will have a morning to bird in Sacramento next week while I am on a work trip. Do any of you know a good place to go? I have never been to California so I am hoping for a lot of lifers. Thanks for any help!

3. I have been taking pictures (as always) even thought I haven't gotten them on LJ. I do have them on Picasa:

I should be putting some more up today & writing a post soon (I swear!).  I miss LJ & you all a lot.

They DO exist! (And so do I!)
Misc - Spring Waterhouse
I give up on trying to get myself to post.  I just feel like whenever I am home I have to be doing something "productive" like cleaning or working on a project.  It's really boring and not-fun =P  So here is a recap of the last two months in random order and with lots of pictures.

Last week I tore myself away from chores to meet some eFriends (technically Internet Strangers, but I was brave!) - Ryan and Diana.  They were visiting DC so Carlos and I went downtown to meet them and visit the American History Museum (and get completely soaked and lead them on a wild goose chase to find food).  Proof that we all exist:

The rain was not nice to my hair hahaha.

Ryan also took pictures to prove that I exist.

Proof that the DC Metro system exists!

It poured rain from then until this weekend, what a mess.

On April 29 it was our 10th dating anniversary.  We went out to a restaurant in Bethesda, and I wore a dress even though it was cold.

I guess we have grown up a little...


The weekend before our anniversary we went out to the Shenandoah.  We did three good but hard-for-Kate hikes: Stony Man and Corbin Cabin on Saturday (we did Corbin Cabin in the opposite direction from what they suggest on that site - that was dumb) and then White Oak Canyon on Sunday.  I stupidly left the battery for my camera in the hotel room when I meant to take nice pictures of us at sunset, but at least I had it the rest of the time:

A puddle miraculously shaped like India!!

More Shenandoah picsCollapse )
Bird list for Shenandoah:
  • Eastern Towhee (lots)
  • American Redstart (bushels)
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Blue-headed vireo (lifer!)
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Blackburnian Warbler (kind of a lifer - I thought I saw one briefly once before, but didn't have my book to make sure at the time.  Now it's on the list for sure.)
  • American Robin
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Cardinal
  • Raven (I think?  I should have paid more attention.)

Back on April 11 we went to Mount Vernon with my now-ex-officemate to meet his mom & stepdad.  Of course I took a bunch of pictures even though it was raining then too.  Here are a few:

Inside the crazy octo-barn.
More Mount Vernon picsCollapse )
Then the weekend after that I went birding at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center North Tract.  Some pictures below, more here on Picasa.  I can't find the bird list, but I did see an immature Bald Eagle and watched a Kingfisher (king)fishing.

More PWRC picsCollapse )
This week we finished up the office (which we started right after Christmas, yikes).  More pics here if you really want to see it step-by-step.  Oh and we also painted the basement to make it slightly more tolerable for Carlos' new surround sound (which I totally complained about until he plugged it in and played 2 seconds of Transformers.  It's so cool!).


After (of course we need to put some more stuff back in, but you get the idea)

The walls are light gray, it's hard to get it right between the flash & the CFLs. I'll have to take some pictures during the day.

Finally, on Friday we saw Star Trek.  It was freaking sweet!!  But I don't know if I have the energy to watch like 20 seasons of TV shows, or 10 movies... so maybe I'll just watch this one over and over and pretend I am a Trekkie now.

There's your super-rare update... enjoy ;)

Pour One Out For My Homies :'(
VM - Sad Lamb :(
For the past two years I've shared an office with my friend Ben. Tomorrow morning I have to pack up and move out. I will have to leave two years of singing (that was all him, I sing like a tortured cat), discussing sci-fi TV shows, tea times, Family Guy quotes, complaining about society, baked goods, and Solstice Trees. Ben introduced me to Journey and Bon Jovi and tried his best to get me to like the Beatles. Sure, we can laugh about xkcd over IM, and we'll still have lunch together, but it won't be quite the same.

And then tomorrow night is the Galactica series finale, where I think they are going to kill everyone I like and leave only Gaius Frakking Baltar behind.

I am going to be pretty sad tomorrow :(

Should we get another cat??
xkcd - You're A Kitty!
Carlos and I went to Petsmart today to get Loki food, and as usual we ended up looking at the adoptable kitties. But this time an employee was there and started describing one of the cats to us. She's 8 or 9 months old, friendly, vocal, and loves to play with other cats. They said when she plays with other young boy cats she can push them around and has a lot of fun. She is adorable and her personality sounds perfect for our Loki.

So now the questions are (a) does Loki need a friend and (b) can we deal with the additional life hectic-ness that another cat would bring?

I think Loki would be fine with another cat, but I am not sure he needs one.  But he is alone 10+ hours a day during the week, and then we are sleeping for another 8-10.  So he only gets 5-6 hours of attention from us each day.  And then we are usually cooking or cleaning or watching TV when we are home.  Maybe a little sister would keep him company and make him happy?

Another cat would mean more food, more litter, more attention, more fur (my whole family is allergic, and so is my best friend), more furniture scratching, and more cats sleeping on Kate at night.  If we don't pay enough attention to Loki now, will they really entertain each other or will we have two cats who want attention? What if Loki doesn't want a sister?  Would this really be better for him?  I know it would take them some time to get used to each other, but what if they never get along?

But she was sooooooooo adorable, and sweet, and sounds like she'd play with Loki a lot...  We can't decide!!

What do you think?  If you have more than one cat, have you found it to be a good thing or a bad thing??


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