My third attempt, and second complete 365 Days project. An endeavor to take a self-portrait every day for a year. The rules are simple. I must be visible in the picture, and I must take the picture.

  • New year’s day (365:001)

    New year's day by Gary Allman
    New year’s day (365:001). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    We’d better get used to this scene, as this is where I get to spend most of my time; at the computer.

    Today has been chock full of computer frustrations. I’ve been beating my head against the brick wall that is Nikon’s ViewNX software, which is difficult to stop from crashing at the best of times, and is as usable as a chocolate fireguard when you finally get it to work. So I ended up wasting a lot of time very slowly adding notes and tags to the pictures from our first backpacking trip.

    Apart from that we cleaned, sorted and put away most of the backpacking stuff, which is a disappointing process at this time of year, as you are never sure when the next opportunity to get out and about will arise. I had some fun boiling water on our backpacking stove to try and work out just how long one tank full of fuel would last. I gave up when I worked out that with the water we’d heated on our trip we’d enough for five days’ supply of morning coffee and three main meals.

    For some reason Ginger vetoed my suggestion of camping in the backyard tonight to see how warm our new sleeping bags will keep us. After all It’s only 18°F (-8°C) out there right now, and the bags are supposed to stay comfortable down to 0°F.

  • Gary and Ginger on the trail at Valley Water Mill Pond (365:002)

    Gary and Ginger on the trail at Valley Water Mill Pond by Gary Allman
    Gary and Ginger on the trail at Valley Water Mill Pond. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    About time for a short hike.

    Having spent all morning languishing in bed with my laptop some activity was called for. Not wanting anything too strenuous we decided to check out a small nature center just North East of Springfield.

    About halfway round the trail we found a small path leading to the top of a rock outcropping, about fifty feet high. Here we sat down for a couple of minutes and enjoyed the view.

  • A quiet place (365:003)

    A quiet place by Gary Allman
    A quiet place. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Five people (and four cats) are a lot to fit into our small house.

    Space for quiet reflection, navel contemplation, introspection and general sulking and skulking about is necessarily at a premium. This is my retreat. Sat here on the bed in our room I’m just about hidden from view, if not out of earshot of the turmoil that the kids can generate. Though to be fair to the big kids, the smallest one makes and instigates more noise than everyone else put together. 

    Tonight I came here to wind down after a fairly long day at the wheel, driving the four hundred odd miles to collect the kids from the Amtrak station in St Louis. The kids have been with their father in Chicago for the past week, today marks the end of the Christmas break and the end of a nice period of peace and quiet for us.

  • Recycling (365:004)

    Recycling. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It’s been a quiet day in Springfield.

    Mainly because my day didn’t start until the afternoon. I fitted the remote temperature sensor for my new weather station, a Christmas gift from Carol and Jim. Now Lanie can check the outside temperature from inside the house without (a) recourse to the Internet or (b) going outside to check, losing our precious heated air in the process.

    As we don’t have a kerbside recycling collection, this afternoon I took all the Christmas packaging and various ‘beverage’ containers we’d accrued over the holiday period to the recycling center. The center is near the high school, so it’s nice and easy to drop it off on the afternoon school run.

    Now I just need to to settle down and do what I’m supposed to be doing, which is getting my course work done ready for Thursday evening’s class.

  • Coursework (365:005)

    Coursework by Gary Allman
    Coursework (365:005). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I’ve two lots of coursework to do before tomorrow evening’s class.

    I won’t get much more time to work on my studying today as shortly after I get home from the school run I’ve a meeting and then I’ll be waiting for the kids while they’re at Youth Group. I doubt we’ll be home before eight-thirty.

  • Lesson remembered (365:006)

    Lesson remembered by Gary Allman
    Lesson remembered (365:006). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today I’ve been reminded of a valuable lesson I’d forgotten. Take a safety shot.

    I had a planned photograph for today. It got cancelled and I was left without a picture. I sat and scratched my head. I discarded the idea of a picture of me holding the letter from Bass Pro I received today. It told me I was in the top 10% of its retail store customers. I think we may need to cut down on our visits to Bass Pro. It was too late for another picture of the me doing my coursework, or sitting in class tonight, and the school run is long done. I could have re-enacted putting air in the van’s tire, but it’s cold and cramped for space in the garage.

    So I closed my eyes and tried to think of a suitable picture to illustrate my day.

  • After the school run (365: 7)

    After the school run (365: 7). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I was supposed to be working today.

    However, that was only on the condition I was paid in advance (this particular customer owes me a lot of money). No money came so I busied myself with other much more interesting things, working slowly back through my photo blog updating the images. I’ve decided to move the image hosting for the blog away from Flickr into WordPress as the image quality is higher. I also worked a bit on back filling our blog

    This afternoon I finally called a friend in the UK, who I’ve been meaning to call all week. Up to now I’ve always remembered too late in the day, or I’ve been busy at the best time to call. We chatted for a while exchanging news and such so I ended up leaving for the school run a little later than I’d planned. This resulted in my idea for a safety shot taken in the car waiting for the kids didn’t come about.

    Arriving back at the house I noticed how nice the light in the garage was, so I grabbed a couple of quick ‘selfies’. And I remembered to take my cap off first – Yay! This picture will do for today.

    Now to get on with the weekend. Not that we’re doing anything, just hunkering down and seeing how the predicted bad weather for the mid west turns out. I don’t think there’ll be any camping or hiking this weekend. That’s a shame.

    Note to self: It may be getting very chilly out but a bit of beard maintenance is probably in order.

    After the school run (Original) Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Taking it easy on a Saturday Morning (365:008)

    Saturday is the only day of the week when we get a chance to have a lie-in.

    Weekdays we have the kids and School run to deal with, and Sundays we have to be up to get Lanie to Church for 8.30am ready for choir at the nine O’clock service.

    This is the way I tend to start every day; with my morning coffee, in bed, surrounded by one, two, three but never four kithehs. Weekdays the first alarm is around six-fifteen, is Katie up? At seven-thirty is Lanie up? Then it’s seven-forty-five and is Alek in the shower? a little later, has Lanie left for school?

    Alek puts the coffee on, and this school year, Ginger is doing the morning school run, so at seven-twenty I get my coffee in bed and shortly afterwards Ginger and the big kids go off on the school run. Generally by eight Ginger’s back and we sit in bed, finishing our coffee and chatting about the day to come.

    Saturdays, provided we’ve not got any other commitments we can have a nice relaxing start to the day. Today Lanie brought us breakfast in bed, so it was even more relaxed than usual. So relaxed that we didn’t surface until well after noon.

  • Choral evensong (365:009)

    Choral evensong by Gary Allman
    Choral Evensong (365:009). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Somehow I managed to miss my Sunday afternoon nap.

    I’m not sure how it happened, usually, the order of the day is get up at around seven-fifteen, leave for Church at eight-twenty to drop Lanie ready for Choir, while we socialize (which for me involves eating doughnuts and drinking coffee) until the 9 am service starts. Generally, we leave the teenagers to do what they do best; sleep-in.

    Today Alek came along as both he and Lanie had been requisitioned to be ‘Kings’. There was no adult Sunday school after the service, so more socializing (and doughnuts) was called for while I waited for Ginger, Alek and Lanie to finish their various activities.

    Normally once we get home, we collapse on the bed and declare nap time. Not today. Today Ginger went out frock shopping with the girls while I sent some emails and tinkered with our blog. On their return, a grocery shopping expedition was declared. Ah-ha! Thinks I, it’s about time we did another ‘Nauseating in Wal-Mart‘ picture. But it wasn’t to be. The place was absolutely throbbing and If I’d slowed up the aisle traffic by stopping to take a Self-Portrait there might well have been a riot. On to ‘Food 4 Less’ for more groceries, and I was feeling less than inspired to go with a ‘Nauseating in Food 4 Less’ picture.

    Choral Evensong was being held at Church this evening featuring a couple of new pieces by Carlyle Sharpe that we wanted to hear. By the time we’d finished getting the groceries, we had just enough time to go home, dump them on the kitchen floor for the kids to put away and head back downtown for our second dose of Church for the day.

    We arrived in plenty of time, and while we were waiting for things to start I took today’s picture. The music and service were very good, and we enjoyed the small cheese and wine reception afterward too.

    By the way. Friday night we watched ‘The Changeling’ good movie. Last night we watched ‘Memphis Belle’, not Ginger’s kind of movie, and certainly showing its age a bit. It’s a long time since I last saw it but I still enjoyed the film. I don’t think Ginger appreciated my pointing out that Alek will all to soon be of a similar age to some of the aircrew.   

  • My major achievement of the day (365:010)

    My major achievement of the day by Gary Allman

    Today was a day for getting things done.

    I however took a different approach and chose to sit around doing nothing instead. Well almost nothing. I trimmed my beard if that counts as an achievement. I took a shower. I even changed the batteries in the remote temperature sender for the weather station, and I, well, er, that’s about it.Oh I did the school run and after dinner washed the dishes and stacked the dishwasher, but I do those things most days so it’s hardly a special achievement. though slippery road conditions did make the school run a tad more exciting than usual.

    My major preoccupation right now is monitoring the temperature, watching the snow fall and hoping tomorrow will not be a snow day. As I’ve changed the batteries in the remote temperature sensor I can do that nice and comfortably from inside the house. Ree-sult!

  • Watching the world go by (365:011)

    Watching the snow and world go by

    Today I got finally got something done.

    As my errant customer has finally paid me some money, I worked today. Basic website maintenance. It’s not making use of my executive skills, but if someone wants to pay me to do it, that’s fine by me. I like getting my hands dirty every now and then, and it keeps me in touch with web development. 

    My other achievement for the day was to go to the gym for the first time in around three months. I’ve not been 100% well since early September. Today was the first time I felt I’d be able to workout and end up feeling okay. Some of the hiking and Kayaking we’ve done over the past few months had left me in a fair bit of pain. It seems I was right, and I feel fine. Now the challenge will be to keep going. With luck my increased waistline’s days are numbered.

    I’d like to give a big thank you to the powers that be for not declaring today a snow day. I really wasn’t looking forward to the prospect of a day with kids underfoot. The couple of inches of snow that threatened to close the schools looked very pretty. I managed to oust the cats from one of their favorite perches so that I could spend a little while looking out of the living room window watching the snow and world go by. In fact I’m rather surprised the kittehs didn’t manage to elbow, or whatever the kitteh equivalent joint is, their way into my picture today. They probably went off to sleep in the sunshine on the opposite side of the house.

  • Lesson 15 (365:012)

    Lesson 15 by Gary Allman

    Today the plan was to get my homework and some other things done.

    We started the day with temperatures of 2°F (-16.6°C). As I’m not the one doing the early morning school run, I was able to stay nice and snug and warm. Though I passed on the option of staying in bed and got up as soon as Ginger and the kids left the house. I ought to try and get a picture of what the warmly dressed Englishman abroad is wearing nowadays. But I’ve not found a suitable location to take the picture except the garage, and it’s far too nippy out there right now. Let’s just say woolly socks and base layers and leave it to your imagination.

    As I dislike wearing anything on my feet, having to wear shoes and socks is a bit of a blow. In the house my feet were getting cold with nowt on them, so I’ve been wearing some nice woolly socks Ginger knitted.

    This morning I worked on my homework and took a couple of safety shots, just in case I lost interest or didn’t get a chance later.

    Out take: Loading up the van at Food 4 Less
    Out take: Loading up the van at Food 4 Less

    After lunch we went grocery shopping, first to Wal-Mart for some essentials, and then on to Food 4 Less. It was after shopping in Food 4 Less that I took what I thought would be my picture for today. Ginger refused to get into the shot with me, claiming cosmetic and cat fur disasters. So I sat on the tail gate of the van and snapped away. One thing I’d have liked to get a picture of was the ice crystals in the air. The air was full of sparkles, but they were far too ephemeral and tiny for me to be able to capture them.

    Once the shopping was done we had just enough time to dump the groceries on the garage floor for Ginger to move them into the house while I did the school run, which went without incident. Keen to get even more done, when I got back I worked on the Church website, so that is now up-to-date. Then it was out again to take Kids to Youth Group and do a bit of voluntary work maintaining an errant computer.

    Back home again and it was time to review my shots for the day. There’s nothing wrong with the shot I took outside Food 4 Less, but I prefer the safety shots and I’m going with this one. Now one of us just needs to venture out again to collect the kids from Youth Group and then we can settle down for the night. We have wine, we have movies. That’ll be nice.

  • Gary in the parish hall kitchen (365:013)

    Gary in the parish hall kitchen Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved

    There was a time when I would have scoffed at the concept of a drive through ATM.

    But no longer. It’s much warmer, faster, easier and safer than standing on a wet and windy street corner. Today’s picture was going to be of me at the drive through cash machine, but I didn’t like the only decent picture I got there.This evening was my EFM class and it was my turn to bring the evening meal. The class is held at Church, and while I was setting out the meal in the Parish Hall kitchen I took a self portrait. For our meal Ginger made a lentil soup that seemed to go down very well. It’s good stuff for a cold day. I bought some pita bread to go with the soup and a cheesecake for dessert. Fortunately there were five slices of cheesecake left over so we can all have a slice tomorrow.

    Speaking of tomorrow, the kids are now home for four days. with freezing temps outside they’ll probably be getting a bit stir crazy quite quickly. Fortunately Lanie’s going to the grandparents’ Saturday for a couple of days. With overnight temps 25-30°F, our planned backpacking trip for this weekend has probably been thwarted. Darn I knew we should have tried out the tent in the backyard when it was a bit cold the other night!

  • Gary and Ginger relax at the end of the day (365:014)

    Gary and Ginger relax at the end of the day by Gary Allman
    Gary and Ginger relax at the end of the day (365:014). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It’s a four day weekend.

    Nap time

    And we took advantage of that fact to have a lie-in this morning. In fact I was so lazy I still hadn’t got dressed by four in the afternoon when I decided to follow the example set by my little furry friends and join them for a snooze.

    The evening was mainly spent looking at watches on the Internet to find a replacement for mine which has been working erratically of late, and last night stopped completely for eleven hours. I can’t really complain, as I think it must be over seven years old. I prefer divers’ watches as past experience has shown that I break normal watches very quickly. This time I’ve bought one with a mechanical movement. It won’t be as accurate, but with luck it might last longer. I also ordered a new Router, we’ll see how that turns out. I bought both items on Amazon as they let me pay in pounds sterling, which saves me paying bank charges.

    To finish the day I relaxed with a beer (or three) while Ginger knitted and I studied backpacking and hiking books for potential hikes and ideas.

  • The owl over my shoulder (365:015)

    Gary at Bass Pro by Gary Allman
    Gary at Bass Pro. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Resides at Bass Pro. The women folk were off baby showering today.

    Jim and Carol (Ginger’s parents) came into Springfield today so that all the IDA girls could go to cousin Betsy’s baby shower. People with Y chromosomes weren’t welcome, which suited Jim and I, we went off and did some shopping chores, spent far too much time in Bass Pro, and went on for a Mexican at our favorite restaurant – Amigos. After lunch we returned home, and as the girls still weren’t back we went back out to a flea market. There was lots of old UK furniture and stuff, which was rather disconcerting for me. I also spotted a rather nice Yashica-MAT EM 120 camera. I’m glad to report I kept my money in my pocket despite being sorely tempted.

    At Bass Pro I took a couple of pictures for Jim, one of an owl sculpture came out fairly well. I also took a couple of self-portraits too. I prefer this one even though it’s blurred (The Nikon is too heavy for arm’s length SPs at slow shutter speeds). Later on, at the flea market, I tried to get a shot of Jim and me in a mirror; I failed miserably, the shutter speed was far too slow and the result was all blurred. That was a shame as Jim tends to get all serious when a camera is pointed at him, and I caught both of us with big grins.

    Today’s Out takes & extras

    Gary at Bass Pro
    Bass Pro Owl
  • Gary and Ginger at Compton Hollow (365:016)

    Gary and Ginger at Compton Hollow by Gary Allman

    Today we got off to a slow start.

    Our slow start was probably because Lanie’s absence meant we didn’t need to get up early to get her to Church for choir.

    Spurred on by the need to do something we decided to go out and hike somewhere new. Ginger picked Compton Hollow Conservation Area, about 20 miles East of Springfield. By the time we’d got there it was already past 3pm, and I was feeling justified in bringing along my headlamp ‘just in case’. As it turned out we finished our hike at half past five, with the light fading fast.

    We managed to hike a large portion of the trails, about three and three-quarter miles. It was quite wet and muddy, with a couple of reasonable hills with descents and ascents or around 140′. This was our first hike of the year and we were both surprised how out of condition we’ve got in the two weeks since our last venture out into the wilds.

    Today’s Out takes & extras

    Taking a rest
    Out take: Near the end of the hike with the light fading fast

    View from Compton Hollow Conservation Area
    View from Compton Hollow Conservation Area

  • Gary and CD (365:017)

    Gary and CD

    Today we went to Ginger’s parents to pick up Lanie.

    Taking advantage of the four day weekend, Lanie has been spending a couple of nights with her grandparents. Today we drove the 150 mile round trip to bring her back home. I stopped briefly on the slab bridge over the creek to take a self portrait, and I also took a picture of the creek. The creek’s changed a lot since we were last here as some work’s been done to reinforce the bridge supports and the creek bed has been cleared too. Presumably in an attempt to stop the bridge getting washed out every time it rains hard. 

    We came prepared to hike the hill behind Ginger’s parents place. In all the times I’ve visited I’ve never ventured much further from the house than the creek. While I sat in the back of of the van pulling my walking shoes on CD (Carol’s Dog) came up to say hello in a very enthusiastic and doggy like manner. Luckily I had my bag and camera with me and I managed to grab this picture. Once I was properly shod Ginger, Lanie, CD and I went up the hill and explored. It was very good to see for myself the places that until now had only been a part of the stories of Ginger’s childhood.

    After the hike I enjoyed a beer, conversation and chili with Jim while Ginger did computery things with Carol.

    Today’s Out takes & extras

  • True Brits wear plaid (365:018)

    Putting my washing away by Gary Allman

    Last night I fell asleep with a pair of woolly socks in my hand.

    Not, you understand, because I was cold. No, it was because Rotters a.k.a. Tubby was wandering around the house yowling, and I was waiting for an opportunity to throw the socks at him. I had the misguided hope that if the socks found their target he might shut up or least go somewhere else with his infernal racket. Luckily for Rotters sleep overtook me before he came in range. 

    Well I had a productive morning. I did some voluntary work on the Church website, I wrote a letter, sent some e-mails and I replied to an enquiry as to how we’d fixed my dry box and fishing tackle box into my kayak. Somewhere along the way there I must have lost steam, which was fine as I had to get out on the school run. I even made a start on this week’s homework, I’m secretly hoping there isn’t anywhere near as much to do as last week.

    After fixing the laptop power cable for Ginger, dinner, the dishes and flipping Sprinky to keep her quiet (a task that requires putting her on her back and rubbing her tummy until she gets fed up), I was running out of things I could be bothered to do. That’s when I decided to put away my washing and make the event into a photo opportunity. As we have little cupboard space and lots of stuff and people around here, my wardrobe has been relegated to the hall closet, and that’s where you see me hanging up a shirt. There were other pictures but Ginger castigated me for having the hanger the wrong way around. And they think I’m anal.

    To round the day off I decided to try again for a Lomo effect in my picture post-processing, this time with a little more success and I even discovered a ‘new’ feature in my editing software while I was at it. Hopefully that will save me some time in the future.

  • Waiting for the kids (365:019)

    Waiting for the kids by Gary Allman
    Waiting for the kids. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    What’s the point of taking safety shots if I don’t use them?

    Just a normal day: Internets, coursework and school run. I accompanied Lanie when she went to choir practice so I could do some more voluntary IT work at Church. At six Ginger brought the big kids down and we had supper with the Youth Group and KfC kids and parents. While Ginger went off to the ‘Star Chamber’ with the other moms for their regular ‘mom talk’ I sat out in the parish hall chatting with some of the other left behind dads (we sometimes go out for a beer so we’re quite happy being left behind). I had hopped to get some more coursework done, but the conversation called more strongly than the work. 

    Back home we watched a movie (Matchstick Men) and waited for the forecast snow to fall. It had just started as we went to bed.

    I took this picture on the school run this afternoon while waiting for the big kids to arrive. I took a couple of pictures at Church while I was working, but I decided I didn’t like them. At bed time I briefly considered taking another picture, but then I decided why not use the safety shot I already had? So I have.

  • Oil lamp reflection (365:020)


    When the telephone rings before six am you know the day is destined to have its challenges.

    Despite the weather behaving exactly as predicted by the NOAA, Springfield Public Schools decided to declare a snow day. Hence the early morning call. This meant we had the kids underfoot all day, not that they’re that bad. Alek cleared the snow from our driveway and a bit of our neighbour’s. The girls kept fairly much to themselves; after some initial arguing about who was going to use the computer for how long and when that is. There was about three inches of snow and it was the very fluffy kind that makes great snowballs, is easily moved, and is fine for driving through if the appropriate care is exercised. 

    I finished my coursework just in time to be told that tonight’s class had been canceled, which left me a bit listless as I look forward to my classes. It seemed most of the population of Springfield was cowering inside away from the snow so we took off in the afternoon to drop Katie at the mall, and take Lanie shoe shopping. I sat around and I took my pictures while Ginger and Lanie did their shopping.

    Once back home, I took the obligatory picture of the house in the snow and then wandered round the backyard looking for pictures to take. All I got was cold. Though I did mange to grab the above picture of me reflected in the globe of a blue glass oil lamp.

    Hopefully tomorrow the kids will be going back to school. Katie asked me ‘would you cry?’ if they had another snow day. To be sure it’d probably bring tears to my eyes.

    Today’s Out takes

  • Checking the tyres (365:021)

    Checking the tires by Gary Allman
    Checking the tyres (365:021). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Take that winter and be gone.

    I decided to blow a raspberry at the wintry weather, to hell with it, and got Ginger to cut my hair. Then I removed all my excess face fuzz. I toyed briefly with posting a picture of my cut hair on the floor as today’s self-portrait but decided against it. It’s probably against the spirit of the rules for a self-portrait, though I guess I could have included my feet.

    Beyond that my day can be summarized as: Interwebs, check the car tires, Walmart, take self portrait, shout at camera, school run and then re-take self portrait.

    For some reason best known to itself, my camera took a batch of out-of-focus pictures on my first attempt at today’s picture. It’s not supposed to do that; in fact, I dislike the fact you can’t force it to take a picture if it decides it can’t focus. Some careful checks ruled out operator error, so running out of time, I went off on the school run and set the shot up again on our return.

    In ten minutes I’m off to the gym (the second time this week – ‘Woot!’ I believe is the term often used in such circumstances today).

  • Kayaking in the ice on Lake Springfield

    Kayaking in the ice on Lake Springfield by Gary Allman
    Kayaking in the ice on Lake Springfield. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It’s Saturday so we must be kayaking

    It’s amazing how quickly the weekend and our Saturday lie-in comes around each week.

    This morning we hatched a plan to go kayaking on Lake Springfield. The temperature had risen above freezing and, at the time we decided to go at least, the sun was shining.

    At the lake I found there was a lot more ice than I was expecting, with only a limited amount of open water. Putting the kayaks in was fine, though we had to break the ice. Thanks to our waterproof socks with nice warm wool socks inside them, getting in (and subsequently out) was fine. We were both nice and warm the entire hour we were out on the lake, and had there been enough free water to really get some paddling in I’d have been too hot.

    Some of the ice was thin and it made interesting noises as we scrunched through, and even better was the noise it made if we set ripples running through it. Most of the lake though was covered in ice too thick for us to try and get through.

    The conclusions from the day’s exercise were that the insulation in the hulls worked well, the waterproof socks were brilliant, and we now know we can paddle happily just about anytime the water isn’t frozen over.

    Today’s Out takes & extras

    Winter kayaking
    Ginger kayaking among the ice on Lake Springfield
    Kayaking in the ice on Lake Springfield
    Gary kayaking in the ice on Lake Springfield
  • Just before bed (365:023)

    Just before bed by Gary Allman

    Not a lot happened today.

    Alarm at seven, Church, Sunday School, Naptime, Star Wars Episode 1, Internets, hiking plans and bed.

    I settled for the cliché self-portrait against a wall, and I didn’t put a lot of effort into it either. A tripod would have helped with the blur and lens distortion as I could have had the camera further away. As it was I had to hold the camera in both hands to minimize camera shake. A tripod would have also left a hand free to hold a reflector to fill in the light a bit. I’ll be able to try that another night.   

  • Cats, coffee and laptops in bed (365:024)

    Cats, coffee and laptops in bed by Gary Allman
    Cats, coffee and laptops in bed. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    A little peek into our morning customs. Cats, coffee, and Internet in bed

    I had to very carefully get out of bed to set the camera up without disturbing the cats as I wanted them in the picture. As soon as the autofocus started whirring, Tubby sat in front of the camera – half out of shot, head on one side staring into the lens. after ten pictures he grew bored and sought out his favorite perch on Ginger’s chest (he isn’t called “Tubby Tit Sitter” without reason). I needn’t have worried about disturbing Sprinky. She refused to move from her selected spot on the side of the bed.

    That’s my picture done for the day and it’s still morning 🙂

    Today’s Out takes & extras

    Ginger, Tubby, Gary and Sprinky. Morning High Jinx
    Ginger, Tubby, Gary and Sprinky. Morning High Jinx
    Laptops in bed
    Laptops in bed
  • Tidying away (365: 25)

    Tidying away by Gary Allman

    I need to find my tennis ball.

    My day started early with the school run at seven-thirty. Back home I finally put all the boxes of Christmas decorations out in the shed where they belong. 

    There was a visit to the bank and some shopping required. While shopping I spotted a display of ‘Valentine’s Day Monsters’. I liked their color so much I decided to take a quick safety shot with them.

    While Ginger put the shopping away, I put away our kayaking socks and shoes from last Saturday. To do this I had to lower my Kayak from its berth on the garage ceiling. While it was down I retrieved my Emergency kit. I thought this activity might make today’s picture, so I set up the camera and once more encountered the ‘out of focus’ problem. This time to make doubly sure it was the camera and not me, I asked Ginger to look through the viewfinder as I took the shot using the remote. Sure enough, the camera wasn’t focusing. It took a lot of fiddling around to get a couple of in-focus pictures. D’oh!

    While I was taking the pictures I flicked our hanging tennis ball up into Ginger’s kayak so it wouldn’t be in the shot. We use the ball to tell me when to stop so I don’t plow into all the stuff stored at the end of the garage. I forgot about it until later when I came to park the car and had to use the ancient art of ‘touch parking’. I retrieved the bit of string to which the ball is attached only to find the ball has gone awol. So now I’m going to have to lower Ginger’s kayak and find the missing ball.   

    Today’s alternate shots

    Valentine's Day Monsters
  • Lesson 17: Numbers (365:26)

    Lesson 17: Numbers by Gary Allman
    Lesson 17: Numbers – Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Wednesdays are kids taxiing days.

    Ginger’s been feeling a bit poorly, so I was up early again to do the school run. I spent most of the day reading and making notes for my class tomorrow night. I stopped to do the afternoon school run, pick up some more cash from the bank and drop off the recycling.

    Wednesday evenings are Bell choir, Choir practice followed by Youth Group, which today requires three trips downtown. By the nine pm kid curfew I’ll be ready for our adult time.

    Future Gary says: The picture’s fine, but in a small thumbnail format my finger looks like a penis “once seen you cannot unsee it.”

  • Halfway up the first hill – Busiek State Forest & Wildlife Area (365:27)

    Halfway up the first hill - Busiek State Forest & Wildlife Area by Gary Allman
    Halfway up the first hill – Busiek State Forest & Wildlife Area. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Tomorrow I’ll ache.

    This morning we went on a short 3-mile hike on the Silver trail at Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area. The hike might have been short but it included two, two hundred foot ascents. We’ve been slacking and not hiking much recently, so we’re a bit out of condition. We paused briefly halfway up the first hill to catch our breath and take this picture. The temperatures were due to get up in the fifties today, but when we started hiking were still below freezing. By the time we got halfway up the second hill we were hot. The only wildlife we saw was an armadillo, which I managed to get within three feet of, but didn’t get a picture as I was too busy laughing at the bouncy way they run.

    Still to do: the school run, another visit to the bank, get the slow puncture in the van’s back wheel fixed, and then my class this evening.

    Today’s alternates & extras

  • Drilling in the workshop (365: 28)

    Drilling in the workshop (365: 28). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today I spent some time in the workshop.

    With temperatures up in the sixties expected, we were planning on going out in the kayaks. That didn’t happen. Some shopping got done and I spent some time in the workshop instead.

    First I repaired a kitchen drawer and in the process learned two valuable safety lessons. Then I made my self a pair of huaraches. I’ve been reading up on minimalist footwear for quite a while and the huaraches seem to be the way to go, providing a very open shoe with a firmly attached sole. They are also very easy to make. So today I made a test pair. The finish of the sole cut-out is a bit rough, but I don’t expect these to last long, so I’m not going to worry about it.

    Now I’ll have to give them a test and see how well they fair out on the trail and around home. One thing that has surprised me is that I’m having trouble getting used to the feel of the cord between my toes. As I long term flip-flop wearer I wasn’t expecting it to be an issue.   

    Today’s out takes

    Feet up in my 'new' huaraches
    Repairing the kitchen drawer
  • Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri

    Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri by Gary Allman
    Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today was a busy day.

    We decided to take advantage of the weather and go kayaking on the James River this morning. I’m glad we did, as the temperatures got up to 72°F (22°C), giving me my first chance this year to expose my legs to the air. Despite the warm weather the lake was still frozen in a couple of out of the way places.

    We couldn’t stay out on the lake for too long, as we volunteered to take kids to the 2011 Bishop’s Ball, and I also volunteered to take some pictures while we were there. We had another reason to be going though. We’d been tipped off that Alek was to receive an ‘Outstanding Youth’ award, and we wanted to be there to see him receive it. The evening was good fun, though it’s been twenty odd years since I’ve done event photography, and it showed in the pictures, I need to wear contacts if I’m going to do any shoots like this in future. It also didn’t help that the flash only worked every second shot. Anyway, Alek looked pleased with his award and Ginger was very happy to be there to see him receive it, and it was good to see the girls all dressed up for the night.

    Once I’d finished taking pictures we headed home, leaving the kids to get on with their evening – unlike last year when I headed out to the bars.

    I was so wrapped up in taking other people’s pictures at the Ball, I forgot to get one of myself, so one of my pictures from earlier in the day, sitting enjoying the sun in my Kayak will have to do.

    Today’s out takes & extras

    Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri
    Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri
    Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri

    And at the Bishops Ball:

    Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri Youths' Bishop's Ball 2011
    Alek, Lanie and Katie
  • Thinking of Ginger (365:30)

    Quiet Sunday by Gary Allman

    We had a quiet day today, venturing out just twice. Once for breakfast and to get in supplies as it’s possible a big snow / ice storm may be headed our way, and second to go pick up the kids from the Church when they got back from the Bishop’s Ball. I decided to get my picture taken early, and grabbed a quick self portrait while gazing out of the window at the back yard. Ginger asked what I was thinking about when I took this picture. Well I was thinking of her, so I’ve changed the title to reflect that.

  • The problem with varifocals… (365:031)

    …is that the only way I can see anything close up is to tilt my head way back.

    It’s the quiet before the storm. We are waiting for a predicted 12″-20″ of snow. We’ll see, knowing the weather around here it could be 1″ or 20″. In the meantime I’ve just put the new annual license stickers on the van, that way I’ve made sure I won’t forget to do it if I get all excited when it snows.

    Today’s outcasts:

  • January Summary

    It’s been a good month, and despite it being the middle of winter we’ve been quite busy. We’ve been hiking four times, and out in the kayaks twice. We’ve visited St Louis, Thornfield and Carthage.

    I photographed my hands three times, posted thirteen black and white pictures, four pictures have one or more cats in them, there’s one dog and I appeared in bed twice, both times drinking coffee.

    My most popular picture on Flickr was #17. But I suspect that’s only because the thumb nail image of my finger looks a bit like a penis, and Flickr’s like that.

    1. New year’s day, 2. Gary and Ginger on the trail at Valley Water Mill Pond, 3. A quiet place, 4. Recycling, 5. Coursework, 6. Lesson remembered, 7. After the school run, 8. Taking it easy on a Saturday Morning, 9. Choral evensong, 10. My major achievement of the day, 11. Watching the world go by, 12. Lesson 15, 13. Gary in the parish hall kitchen, 14. Gary and Ginger relax at the end of the day, 15. The owl over my shoulder, 16. Gary and Ginger at Compton Hollow, 17. Gary and CD, 18. True Brits wear plaid, 19. Waiting for the kids, 20. Oil lamp reflection, 21. Checking the tires, 22. Kayaking in the ice on Lake Springfield, 23. Just before bed, 24. Cats, coffee and laptops in bed, 25. Tidying away, 26. Lesson 17: Numbers, 27. Halfway up the first hill – Busiek State Forest & Wildlife Area, 28. Drilling in the workshop, 29. Kayaking on James River, Springfield Missouri, 30. Thinking of Ginger, 31. The problem with varifocals…

  • Snow day (365:032)

    Snow day by Gary Allman
    Snow day. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    This bad weather’s been on the cards for a while.

    According to the reports, today was Missouri’s first official blizzard. With high winds and drifting snow, it wasn’t worth going out so the day was spent lounging. At least we’ve got power and Internet access, which is good for keeping kids amused (well those whose grades are good enough to be allowed Internet access anyway). 

    I took this picture while checking the weather radar and watching the snowdrift by the window. Not long afterward the kids went out and collected some snow to make genuine Ozark Snow Cones.

    Today’s runners up

    Snow day
    Out take: Snow day
    Snow day
    Out take: Snow day
    Ozark snow cone
    Ozark snow cone
  • There’s an icicle in my beard (365:033)

    There’s an icicle in my beard (365:033). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It was a tad cold this morning.

    Well I consider 6°F (-14 °C) a tad chilly, but the sun was shining and there was nothing for it but to shift the foot of snow off of the path, drive and clear a way across the deck. I had help with the drive as Alek assisted me once he’d cleared a path for Diane next door.

    With my warm woolly socks, base layer, shirt, trousers and my romper suit, hat and gloves I was soon too hot. That didn’t stop me growing a small beard-cicle. How cool, I’ve never had one of those before.

    What with the winter hiking and now working outside in the low temps I’m discovering that with decent clothing the cold does not have to be a major problem. However, today was sunny and windless; some cloud and wind would have made a big difference.

    Today’s out takes & extra

    Clearing snow from the drive
    Out take: Clearing snow from the drive
    Clearing snow from the drive
    Out take: Clearing snow from the drive
    There's an icicle in my beard
    Out take: Gary, backyard, snow
  • One door opens as another closes (365:034)

    One door closes as another opens by Gary
    One door closes as another opens. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I’ve just received news of a death in the family back in the UK.

    It was expected, but I’m deeply saddened by the news. Saddened that it’s happened so soon and so quickly, and saddened that I wasn’t there to say my goodbyes or provide support.

    And then, this morning we went to the hospital to see the latest addition to our family, Natalie Anne, born yesterday evening to Betsy and Matt.

    Just as one life ends another has begun.

    Today’s out takes & extras

  • At the Antique Mall (365:035)

    At the Antique Mall by Gary Allman
    At the Antique Mall (365:035). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today we managed to escape the kids for the first time in three days.

    Last night, I found the leftovers of a bottle of Scotch (thanks Mick!), and drank a silent toast to Chris who died early this morning (UK time). He enjoyed his whisky and we have enjoyed many a dram over the years. It seemed a fitting end to the day.

    Today is a new day and yet another snow day for the schools in Springfield, and our Youth Minister at Church volunteered to take the Youth Group kids for some snow day fun. I, for one, wasn’t going to try and dissuade her, the thought of nearly six hours to ourselves was far too good to turn down. At eleven I took the kids to Church, and I was surprised how bad the roads were, only the major roads have been plowed. At Church I checked if there was anything I needed to be doing and inspected the huge pile of snow in the next door parking lot before returning home.

    Once home, we had to get a parcel in the post and then the day was ours. Which was a problem as we don’t have the right footwear for hiking in a foot of snow and the lakes are frozen so Kayaking was out of the question. We ended up going down to Ozark and visiting a couple of flea markets (or Antique Malls as they style themselves), where I drooled over some oil lamps, Coleman lamps and some very nice cameras. The light coming from some of the display cabinets was very nice, which is where I took today’s picture.

    Today’s out takes and alternate pictures

  • Gary and Ginger on a snowy Sac River Trail (365:036)

    Gary and Ginger on a snowy Sac River Trail (365:036). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    No Interwebs today.

    Ginger spent an age struggling with our ISP’s customer service only to eventually be told that there was a general outage in our area that would probably last several hours.

    To keep busy I cleared the drive of last night’s couple of inches of snow, and we decided to enjoy the sunshine, brave the snow cover and go for a short hike on the Sac River Trail. The hike was fine, proving our gear is up to a winter hike, getting to the trail and away again was not so good.

    On our way to the trail I nearly ‘T Boned’ a pick-up and trailer as it sailed through a stop sign without stopping; the driver was too busy chatting on his cell ‘phone. The street was completely snow covered, and the ABS while working hard couldn’t do enough to stop us in time. The only thing I could do was try and minimize the blow, and turned into the curb while trying to avoid a lamppost. Fortunately the curb stopped us and I missed the post. A couple of hours later at the parking lot for the trail I made the mistake of trying to turnaround to get out and got us well and truly stuck in the snow. Somehow I even managed to get one (driving) wheel off the ground! I tried my repertoire of get unstuck tricks, and finally had to resort to digging down through the snow and ice to the ground using my pocket knife. Note to self: Snow shovels aren’t worth a damn for digging out a stuck van.

    I took today’s picture of Ginger and I while on our hike.

    Today’s out takes & extras

    Gary and Ginger on a snowy Sac River Trail
    Little Sac River from the Sac River Trail
    Ginger on a snowy Sac River Trail
  • After the Super Bowl (365:037)

    After the Super Bowl (365:037). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Super Bowl Sunday!

    Well, I tried to get excited about the Super Bowl but failed quite happily. Super Bowl Sunday might be more appropriate as I scoffed huge quantities of unhealthy things while watching the endless adverts interspersed by a load of fat blokes assisted by a couple of skinny blokes chasing a rugby ball around a field. They managed to do this seemingly without proper passing, stopping to have a scrum or a throw-in. I wasn’t that impressed by the adverts either (we’ll gloss over the halftime ‘show’).

    Next time I’ll lay off the molten cheesy dip stuff though. I had the most horrendous dreams featuring flayed living animals and moving (as in still living) dissected things. And that’s not to mention the entrails that someone was throwing out of a window. No, no more runny cheese dip for me. Ginger is totally unconvinced about the hallucinogenic properties of the humble lump of cheese, but eating cheese before bed almost always provides lucid dreams for me.

    I started the day thinking about what great photo opportunities stretched ahead of me. Alas, it was not to be so. After Sunday School I had a Youth Group meeting, but the room was a bit dark, and I didn’t want to slow the meeting down by stopping to take pictures. I thought the Super Bowl party at Chuck’s would provide great opportunities – I was sure my enthused face glowing in the light of Chuck’s 70″ monster TV would make a great picture, but nah. So instead when I got home I had a couple of beers, a couple of marmalade sandwiches (I like marmalade), and a late-night arm’s length photo opportunity followed by some clichéd post-processing.

    The really good news: the kids go back to school tomorrow morning. The bad news: They come back in the afternoon. Just kidding! Though it looks like more snow is due later in the week.

  • Sometimes one pair of glasses just isn’t enough. (365:038)

    Sometimes one pair of glasses just isn't enough. By Gary Allman

    Not an easy task for the optically challenged.

    I thought I’d got my 365 shot for today, this morning, when I took a picture of myself warming my feet on Getzger’s belly. This afternoon the power cord on the laptop broke (again), and I decided to photograph the repair in progress for posterity. I did this mainly because I can only do close work like this if I don another pair of glasses over my existing ones, and with my warped sense of humor I find that funny.

    Shortly after I took this picture an attempt to take a shower was almost thwarted by Ginger’s parents, in town for a short visit. I held true to the task in hand, let them in, dived back into the bathroom, had a quick shower and then did the entertaining, albeit in my robe, until Ginger’s return from the school run with the kids gave me a chance to get dressed again.

    Other good news. I received a package and letters from the UK. It was posted in 2010 and only arrived today, that’s a long time for a smallish parcel to be delivered. It’s probably spent a month lost in a snow drift somewhere.

    I guess I ought to try and get a new pair of glasses before this project is finished. We’ll see. I’ve been saying that for at least three years.

    Today’s alternate picture

    Getzger foot warmer
    Out take: Getzger foot warmer

  • Happy Gary enjoying a blog-day (365:039)

    Happy Gary enjoying a blog-day by Gary Allman
    Happy Gary enjoying a blog-day

    Today I got blogged down.

    I have a few outstanding tasks I could have been working on but I decided to work on my blogs instead. I want to clear the outstanding work and bring them up to date if possible. I’ve been slowly going back through my photoblog uploading better versions of the pictures, I’m also putting these self-portraits into a 365 Days blog too. It all takes time as I’m careful to ensure all the details are right. The tags have to be correct, if a picture is not taken at home it is geotagged. The layouts all match, and the text, well. let’s just say I struggle a lot with the text. I know I’m an imperfect perfectionist – otherwise, I’d never get a picture taken. But then I wonder, how much time could I save if I wasn’t so particular in ensuring all the links are correct and the layout is right? I will never know, because if I did cut corners, I’d be very disappointed with the result.

    I grabbed today’s picture while sitting at the keyboard adding posts to my 365 Days blog.

    Note: Links updated October 2014 (and again in September 2019) as the old WordPress blogs have been superseded by a self-hosted blog.   

  • Beer and a movie (365:040)

    A beer and a movie By Gary Allman

    We woke to a 6am ‘phone call. Not good.

    Springfield public schools declared yet another snow day today. We had an inch or so of snow overnight and it kept lightly snowing for most of the day. Having the kids around makes doing things like studying harder than it is already. There’s always noise and distractions. So I wasted most of my day in front of the computer. I didn’t even use the time to take a picture. 

    Come kid curfew time (9 pm) I was ready for a movie and a beer. I wasn’t sure that the beer bottle picture had worked so I also took a quick arm’s length self portrait shot before bed just to be sure.

    Today’s ‘also ran’

    Late Night Self Portrait
    Alternate: Late Night Self Portrait

  • Thursday studies (365:041)

    Thursday studies by Gary Allman

    School run this morning. Yay! -7°F (-22°C) Brrrrr! Tank of gas $52 Grrrrrr!

    Well that’s what my Facebook status read this morning. If the school district thinks it’s okay to travel in on fresh snow laying on ice and -7°F temperatures, then I don’t see the logic of calling a snow day yesterday. Oh well.

    I got to the gas station with a ‘distance until empty’ of just four miles, though apparently it still had a couple of gallons to spare. -22°C is the coldest temperature I have encountered so far. I’m not sure I want to break that particular record.

    I spent the day catching up on my studies, which is where today’s picture comes in.

    Ginger had some trouble starting the van this afternoon, seems the starter pre-engage solenoid wasn’t working properly. As the temperature in the garage had dropped to 2°F I’m hoping it was just the cold making it stick. I’ll have to find out where it’s located as often a good hard thump will release the solenoid when it jams. I don’t like the idea of it jamming when we’re parked out in the wilderness somewhere.

    I’ve got my EFM tutorial tonight, that’ll be a good test, we’ll see how the van copes with being left parked outside Church this evening.

    Picture Notes

    I spent a little bit more time setting up my shot today. I put a diffuser in the window to soften the harsh sunlight, and I put a reflector frame right to fill in the shadows slightly. My Nikon is still refusing to autofocus when using the remote shutter release. It suddenly stopped working shortly after January 24. I had to put a cushion where I was going to sit and set up the focus on that. Which shows that the autofocus is working,  just not when I use the remote. Odd. I guess some time on the Nikon technical support site is called for. I’ve tried resetting the camera back to factory settings. It didn’t make any difference.

    This morning’s alternate shot at the gas station

    Filling up with gas
    Alternate: Filling up with gas
  • Morning rituals (365:042)

    Morning rituals by Gary Allman
    Morning rituals. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I think we need a bigger bed.

    Weekdays, after the school run we often enjoy our morning coffee in bed. We’ll chat about plans for the day, or further ahead, discuss our projects, shopping, the kids or whatever things are going on. This morning we were discussing some of the things I learned in last night’s class. It seems that every week I come away with a nugget of inspiration in addition to the things I’ve learned. Good stuff. And sometimes, not often we’ll have our cereal in bed too. 

    Getzger has his morning rituals too. As soon as the cereal is ready, he positions himself in a conspicuous spot and makes his presence felt. He knows I leave a little milk in the bottom of my bowl for him to lap up when I’m finished. The poor chap has trouble with his bones and joints, and a little bit of extra calcium will do him good. Well, that’s my excuse for encouraging him.

    As we had our cereal in bed this morning Getzger sat and watched my every move. Sometimes, just for the fun of it, I make a big fuss over emptying my bowl with lots of slurping and muttering. That really gets him going.

    The kittehs

    I’m sure they are going to appear in a lot of these pictures so here’s a little introduction to our cats, in order from the camera.

    Getzger (Abyssinian), aka Mr. Cat, MC, Getzger Cat, Geggers, Geggie, PLG as in ‘Peg Leg Geg’ and as part of a family cat intelligence (contradiction in terms there I know) experiment was also briefly known as Meowkovich-Meowcovich. When not sleeping, on patrol checking for squirrels, or inspecting the kitchen faucet,  Getzger will have his head stuck in the food bowl.

    Sprinky (Maine Coon), aka Sprinkles. Sprinky often replaces Lanie at the dinner table and is entranced by music, whistling, and singing.

    Tubby (Burmese), aka Tubmiester, Rotro, Rotters, imbecile, and Irritant. Tubby’s ambition is to own an Uzi and get his own back on his captors and torturers.

    Blue Kitteh (Maine Coon), aka Madame Bleu, Mao, and Floofy pants. Madame is far too aloof to join in the fun with the other cats, but is prone to hilarious attacks of the ‘cat Crazzies’. She deeply dislikes ‘Cat Dancing’.

    Today’s out takes & extras

    Apparently it is unusual to catch a cat yawning
    Coffee, Sprinky, Getzger and Tubby
    This is why Ginger complains I take up too much of the bed.
  • A brief visit to the workshop (365:043)

    A brief vist to the workshop
    A brief visit to the workshop

    Today the sun shone and the temperatures began to rise.

    Last night we stayed up late watching Dogma and enjoying a beer. Which was a bit foolish as we had to be up early for Alek, who took his ACT test today.

    Once up I spent a lazy morning on the computer tending blogs. This afternoon I took advantage of the warmer weather to move the van out of the garage, clean the garage floor (again), and then start work on my Mark II huaraches. No sooner did I turn the scroll saw on than the blade broke. Fitting a new blade I discovered the spare blade I had wasn’t the right length, so I ended up cutting the soles out with scissors, which wasn’t easy. I took this picture while I was removing the broken blade from the scroll saw. There’s an extra picture of me drilling holes in the soles of my huaraches for the binding. Thus far the Mark IIs while looking better than the Mark Is are not proving as effective. More research required.

    Today’s other pictures:

    A brief vist to the workshop
    A brief vist to the workshop
    A brief vist to the workshop
    A brief vist to the workshop
  • Gary and Ginger at the Church Annual Meeting (365:044)

    Gary and Ginger at Christ Episcopal Church's Annual Meeting
    Gary and Ginger at Christ Episcopal Church’s Annual Meeting. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    We spent a lot of time at Church today

    Our day can be summed up as Church, annual meeting, home, sleep, and an evening of choral music back at church. That was about four hours at church and three hours sleeping. 

    Lunch was provided before the annual meeting, possibly as a reward / incentive to those attending. Though as these events go, the meeting was fine. I took today’s picture at the end of the proceedings, and my camera surprised me by actually focusing at one point, so the Nikon’s focusing fault has gone from permanent to intermittent.

    Back home the wonderful 64°F (18°C) temperatures made me think of getting out in the snow-covered backyard, in my shorts and taking a picture of myself reclining in a sun lounger with a nice refreshing cocktail. Which just goes to show how quickly the 365 Days ‘let’s make a clever shot’ thinking can sneak up on you. Luckily I realised my mistake before I executed this plan, so I indulged in a three-hour snooze instead.

    Our evening trip back to Church to hear the Springfield Chamber Chorus and The Dury Singers was well worth the effort. I love choral music and we were treated to a variety of wonderful examples.

    One good thing about recording my day and not setting up artificial pictures: I won’t be wracking my brain for a clever Valentine’s Day shot tomorrow. Though I haven’t been beyond doing so in the past.

    Today’s out takes & alternate shot

    This is what happens when I'm not paying attention
    Never work with children, animals or Ginger. If she’s not pulling funny faces she’s just as likely to flash me or the camera. Nice but it disrupts my creative flow (well dribble is more correct).
    Gary and Ginger at Christ Episcopal Church's Annual Meeting
    Oops, camera far too close and massive lens distortion even after adding some software correction
  • Gary and Ginger being nauseating in Walmart on Saint Valentine’s day (365:045)

    Gary and Ginger being nauseating in Walmart on Saint Valentine's Day by Gary Allman
    Gary and Ginger being nauseating in Walmart on Saint Valentine’s Day – February 2011. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    When you’re living your dream, over time your dream becomes normal life. It pays to stop and reflect on that once in a while. When you do it reminds you how special your dream is and how lucky you are.

    Today we decided to treat ourselves. After the school run we treated ourselves to breakfast. Anton’s parking lot was empty, so empty we thought it might be closed. Fortunately, it was open, and the lack of customers meant we had the pick of the tables so I got one one with excellent light all the better to take some pictures of Ginger. 

    After breakfast, we visited a couple of flea markets and then went down to Lake Springfield to check for ice with some kayaking in mind later in the week. We took a brief walk up to the bluffs where we were lucky enough to see a bald eagle, which took a bird or squirrel for its lunch. Ginger got a very close look at as it flew by the bluff – I missed it as I had my head in the camera. Later on, thanks to the generosity of one of the several birdwatchers down by the lakeside, we had a chance to see two bald eagles up close in a spotting scope.

    Next stop for the day was Walmart, where I decided that a picture of us being nauseating in front of a Valentine’s day display of soft toys would make a good picture. The only trouble was the display was at the front of the store and very busy, I can’t imagine why. Ginger was most uncomfortable about my taking a picture there and refused to take part. Luckily I found another display still in one of the main thoroughfares but at least not opposite the checkouts. Shall we just say that there was a lack of enthusiasm for partaking in this picture by my embarrassed wife, and we did get some amused looks.

    The day was rounded off with an evening of wine, cheese and a suitably romantic movie – Notting Hill.

    Today’s alternate shots

    Gary and Ginger in Walmart on Saint Valentine's Day
    Gary and Ginger in Walmart on Saint Valentine’s Day
    Lake Springfield - where bald eagles fly
    Lake Springfield – where bald eagles fly

    Additional shots

    Saint Valentine's day breakfast at Anton's
    Saint Valentine’s day breakfast at Anton’s
    Valentine's day breakfast at Anton's
    Ginger at Anton’s Coffee Shop
    Valentine's day breakfast at Anton's
    Ginger at Anton’s Coffee Shop
  • Last thing on a Tuesday night (365:046)

    Last thing on a Tuesday night

    Today wasn’t such a good day.

    I ended up spending a lot of the day in pain. Not good for my temper, or those around me.

    On the plus side, I got most of my coursework done for this week, there’s just a small bit to finish off tomorrow. I’ve retrieved the backpacking box and backpacks from the shed. Partially because I need some para-cord but also because we plan on go backpacking this coming weekend.

    We finished the day by watching an episode of Inspector Morse. It was only at bedtime I remembered I hadn’t taken a picture today.

    It is surprising how insidious the traps are in the 365 days project. I have had a run of photographic luck, and suddenly I find myself in the mindset that I shouldn’t post anything that’s not at least average. I spent a lot of time and took sixty odd pictures in two locations to get today’s picture. I even juggled with a reflector in one hand and a cat in the other at one point.

    So I’m duly chastised, the pictures are a nice by-product, but they’re not the ‘be all, end all’ of this project. Let’s see how long it takes me to forget that.

  • Burning incense (365:047)

    Burning incense (365:047). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today was much better.

    I did some more of my coursework, tended my blog garden, made up my Mark II huaraches, which are much better. I now have to adjust the sole template to leave a bit more room for foot movement and invest in some better materials for the soles. Before I do that some testing out on the trails is required just to make sure everything is okay. At around 4oz for the pair carrying them backpacking will not be an issue.

    Wednesday this week is Choir, Youth Group, and KfC evening. I spent the time in conversation with some of the other dads in the parish hall. The lighting in the hall is quite poor, otherwise, I would have been tempted to take my daily shot there. Instead, I had the idea of capturing our regular evening activity of lighting incense. We have several different types, sticks, solid blocks, and even some frankincense and blends of incense resins. Those should provide a few more photo opportunities.

    We enjoyed the incense while listening to Rhapsody, studying topo maps, and making plans for this coming weekend’s hike. We managed to find some pictures of the wilderness area and some fairly good maps, so we now have a reasonable idea of what to expect and some initial ideas of where we’ll go. What we actually do will depend on the weather and how many other people are on the trails.

  • Afternoon school run (365:048)

    Afternoon school run (365:048). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    If it’s Thursday it must be class tonight.

    We had a quiet day, I finished my coursework and had my class in the evening; which was excellent as usual. I remember that thirty plus years ago when I was studying in the evenings I’d have trouble staying awake. In fact, when I was teaching evening classes I would sometimes have trouble staying awake. I’m glad to report that I’m not having any trouble keeping awake for my class now.

    Collecting the big kids from school this afternoon I took some safety shots, and as I didn’t take any more pictures, this is it for the day.

  • Packing my backpack (365:049)

    Packing my backpack
    Packing my backpack

    It’s a three day weekend, and to make the most of it tomorrow morning we’re taking the girls to their grandparents and then we are heading off into a nearby wilderness for a couple of days backpacking. Getzger and Alek are being left in charge back home, so hopefully the cats will be fed while we’re gone. With luck the weather will hold good, though they are starting to predict rain and Monday is going to be fifteen to twenty degrees cooler, so packing clothes for the trip’s a bit of a challenge.

    Today we bought a rain cover for Ginger’s backpack and did the last of the shopping for the trip. We also had to get stuff ready for Lanie, who’s away on a sleep-over tonight. As soon as we can pick her up tomorrow morning, we’re off.

    Today’s picture shows all my stuff ready to be put into my backpack. Total weight of pack and contents including food and water around 34-35lbs. Ginger carries half the food, cooking pot, fly sheet for the tent and the tent footprint. Her pack weighed in at 33lbs.

    See all the items on the table labeled on Flickr

    Alternate shots

  • Wedding anniversary backpacking at Devils Backbone Wilderness (365:050)

    Wedding anniversary backpacking at Devils Backbone Wilderness by Gary Allman
    Wedding anniversary backpacking at Devils Backbone Wilderness. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Tonight we get to sleep in the woods and tomorrow it’s our second wedding anniversary.

    We got away from Springfield on time, picking up Lanie from her sleepover on the way out. At the grandparents I helped Jim load a large steel house sign into his pick-up before we headed off for the last fifty miles or so to our destination; the Devils Backbone Wilderness area.

    Over the past week, we’ve checked the maps and pictures of the wilderness we found online. We had a rough plan of action, starting at the Collins Ridge trailhead. There were no other vehicles in the parking lot, checking the registration log, it appeared no one had entered the wilderness from here for a while.

    We had a good hike along the Devils Backbone down into Mary Hollow. Ginger particularly liked all the pine trees at the start of the hike. The Devils Backbone was quite impressive with a significant drop off on each side, which is where I took today’s picture. The point where the trail drops into Mary Hollow is incorrectly marked on the map (it comes out about an eighth of a mile to the east of where it is shown), which caused us a bit of backtracking while we looked for the trail to McGarr Spring. We found the trail but couldn’t find the spring, there was evidence of water but there was none running.

    We decided to camp further down the Hollow towards the North Fork river, so that we could pick up water in the morning. The trail was very easy walking being mainly soft dirt. It would have suited my Vibram Five Fingers which I hadn’t brought along. My Mark II huaraches worked well, but as expected weren’t tough enough for the trip, so after a couple of repairs, I gave up and resorted to trainers for hiking and flip-flops around camp. In total, we hiked about 4.25 miles today.

    The overnight temperatures dropped into the mid-forties, but we were nice and snug.

    Today’s alternate shots & extras

  • Morning coffee in Crooked Hollow – Devils Backbone Wilderness (365:051)

    Morning coffee in Mary Hollow - Devils Backbone Wilderness by Gary Allman
    Morning coffee in Crooked Hollow – Devils Backbone Wilderness (365:051). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It’s our second wedding anniversary, and what better way to celebrate it than backpacking? I sure do know how to show a girl a good time! I took today’s picture while we were drinking our morning coffee and making our plans for the day. Ginger, it should be added, surprised me with an anniversary gift – a CD. We had no way to play it though.

    After breakfast and breaking camp, we hiked down Mary Hollow and followed the trail north and west to the North Fork River. The trail was obstructed by fallen trees in many places, and only a couple of trails are marked, so you need a map and to read the ground to make sure you stick to the right trail. We stopped briefly to admire the bluffs on the North Fork and to be completely disgusted at the mess left behind presumably by people camping in the wilderness while floating down the North Fork River. The almost complete lack of trash on the trails of the wilderness would suggest that this is the case.

    We then climbed the 360 feet to the top of McGarr Ridge, and walked along the ridge and then negotiated the very steep 360-foot descent to visit Blue Spring, where we filled up with water (we have a filter pump and chemically treat our water), and had lunch. Our plan was to camp somewhere near where we’d first seen the river, and that meant retracing our path, climbing and descending McGarr Ridge again. We surprised ourselves by getting up the ridge quite quickly. Our new (but low-cost) trekking poles, brought for this trip, proved themselves invaluable going up and down the ridge. Once back at the river we didn’t want to stop at the campsite that had been abused by all the floaters, so we followed the trail North a short while and then cut down to the river. We found a nice secluded gravel bank where we spent the night, accompanied by the sound of running water.

    We had managed around 4.25 miles again, though the climbs and descents took their toll on our legs.

    Today’s outtakes & extras

  • Near the end of the hike (365:052)

    Wedding anniversary backpacking at Devils Backbone Wilderness by Gary Allman

    Our last day in Devil’s Backbone wilderness.

    It had been quite cold overnight and it started to rain just as we were about to break camp. As the rain had been forecast, we had set the tent up so that we could take it down with the rain fly still up – which meant we were able to put just about everything away dry.

    The trail up Collins Ridge doesn’t appear to be marked, and we encountered several trails that aren’t marked on the map, which made for some educated guesswork on the navigation, which proved correct once we could see the lay of the land and check it against the topo map. The hike started with another 300+ foot ascent, quite enough for us out of condition hikers.

    Before too long we were back where the trail along the Devil’s Backbone splits off, and shortly after that we stopped by a stone pile which acted as a tripod for today’s picture. Once back at the trailhead, Ginger looked at the trailhead check-in, and the log had been changed and maps left. We saw that four people had been in on a day hike yesterday, but in the two and a half days we’d been hiking the trails we’d not met anyone. We saw and heard lots of Armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), and the tracks of a bobcat (Lynx rufus) but no people, which is pretty much how we like it.

    The van was where we left it (always a worry). It was just a matter of dropping our packs in the back and heading off to Ginger’s parents, a nice dinner, pick up the girls and head back to Springfield so that they could be home in good time for school Tuesday (today was a school holiday).

    Today’s alternate shots and extras

    On the Collins Ridge Trail -  Devils Backbone Wilderness
    Gary and Ginger on the Collins Ridge Trail
    Back at the van
    Back at the van
    Camping by the North Fork River - Devils Backbone Wilderness
    Camping by the North Fork River – Devils Backbone Wilderness
    The North Fork River - Devils Backbone Wilderness
    The North Fork River – Devils Backbone Wilderness

  • High School parking lot (365:053)

    High School parking lot

    This cliché Lomo and mirror shot is all I have to offer today.

    I had an idea for a shot either putting the camping gear out to air, or putting it away again, but for one reason or another that idea fell through. As the a lot of my day was spent processing the pictures from the weekend’s backpacking trip, it wasn’t an appealing photo op. While waiting for the kids to come out from school I thought I’d experiment with a car mirror shot, and that’s it for the day.

  • Life can be like that (365:054)

    Life can be like that Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It was one of those days.

    Nobody said living the dream was always going to be easy.

    We watched The Da Vinci Code this evening.

    Alternate picture

    Feet up watching The Da Vinci Code

  • Thursday (365:055)

    My day might have been simpler if I’d studied the right lesson in the first place,

    so I had to study two. At least I’ve covered most of the ground for next week’s work already. Class and late-night shopping tonight. Have I said how much I really enjoy my EFM class?

    This picture didn’t turn out at all as I intended. I sat and had a think about what I did to finish up with a picture far removed from my original intention. I finally worked it out but didn’t see the need to go back and redo the picture. This will do. I just need to remember my errors, which were very simple, I just needed a higher ISO setting and faster shutter speed. Changing the focus point might have helped, but with the misbehaving autofocus that’s doubtful.

    There’s just enough time now to post my shots before heading off to bed.   

  • Stacking the dishwasher (365:056)

    Stacking the dishwasher by Gary Allman

    Rumours regarding the return of my photo-mojo are proving to be premature.

    Maybe it’s just lurking in a dark corner somewhere.

    Today I wrote up some minutes, did some web research for church, went to the library and the bank, picked up kids from school and after dinner washed dishes and stacked the dishwasher.

    Stacking the dishwasher is a task I perform daily unless I’m lucky enough to catch a kid with a food plate or more than two glasses in their room. When I catch a transgressor, the task is handed over to them for the day as a reminder not to be caught. It proves to be an effective deterrent. Unfortunately.

  • Last Thing (365:057)

    Last Thing by Gary Allman

    57 days in and this project’s getting a bit tiresome.

    Housework followed by working on the computer, cataloging data DVDs and CDs in preparation for backing up my photographs. My drive’s getting full and I need to do something about my pictures. All my other data is backed up off site, but there’s too much picture data to do that easily, though there are copies of 90% of my pictures on Flickr. 

    I think I’m getting a little bored of pictures against this wall, but it’s quick, easy and that is all I have for today.

  • Checking the weather (365:058)

    Checking the weather by Gary Allman

    I passed up on my best photo opportunity of the day.

    We went to Church this morning and after lunch I helped Jim put up a house sign he’d made. For some reason I didn’t take a picture that included me helping, which would have been the sensible thing to do.

    Tiresome issues with one of the kids later in the day meant that a scotch or two before bed time was welcomed. Neither of us felt like watching a movie, so we sat on the bed, chatted and enjoyed our scotch with cheese and crackers. After the weather radio issued a tornado warning, we decided to monitor the approaching storm. When the squall line hit I went and looked out the front door to enjoy the weather.

    I took today’s picture while looking out. I used the door frame to hold the camera still for this hand held half second shot. I quite like the result.

    Today’s alternate shot & extras

    Scotch, crackers and watching the approaching storm on radar
    Scotch, crackers and watching the approaching storm on radar

    Jim installing a house sign
    Jim installing a house sign

    Completed sign
    Completed sign

  • A final check before closing my machine for the day (365:059)

    A final check before closing my machine for the day by Gary Allman

    I left taking my picture until the last moment again.

    A final check before closing my machine for the day
    Alternate picture. A final check before closing my machine for the day – Alternate

    I took today’s picture and alternate as I was closing down my computer before going to bed. I spent all day avoiding taking a picture. Earlier we’d visited Bass Pro, and I’d studiously ignored all the self portrait opportunities that were offered. I just didn’t want to take any pictures.

    While I was waiting for my machine to close I considered the reason for my sudden lack of enthusiasm for the 365 Days project. Once more, I have to confess that I can be a bit slow at times. Eventually I realised that having taken a few relatively good pictures, I didn’t want to spoil the project by posting lower quality images. Once more I reminded myself that that is not what this project is about. It’s about making a record, preferably with a relevant picture each day, if that doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is to keep the project going.

    The interesting observation that came from this train of thought relates to my drawing. I took up drawing a long time ago. I had some modest success and then just stopped. I never took it up again. How much better would I be, what would I have learned and produced in that time if I had carried on, even if I only drew one picture a month over the past twenty years?

  • February summary

    February summary by Gary Allman
    It’s been a mixed month; it started with a death and a birth, which just goes to show that life goes on.

    For some reason we’ve not had much opportunity to get out and about this month; we visited some flea markets, went for a hike in the snow and went backpacking for a couple of days, celebrating our second wedding anniversary in the process.

    This month I’ve added eighteen black and white pictures, and just after day fifty began to get a bit disillusioned with the whole project. There are two pictures showing just my hand, one picture of me holding a baby (I think that’s a first for my 365 days projects). There’s a mirror shot (one of two pictures taken in the car), the cats only manage to sneak into one picture, which is surprising, and we managed to get nauseating in Walmart on Saint Valentine’s day. Somehow I managed to fit in five hiking / backpacking related pictures,

    1. Snow day, 2. There’s an icicle in my beard, 3. One door opens as another closes, 4. At the Antique Mall, 5. Gary and Ginger on a snowy Sac River Trail, 6. After the Super Bowl, 7. Sometimes one pair of glasses just isn’t enough., 8. Happy Gary enjoying a blog-day, 9. A beer and a movie, 10. Thursday studies, 11. Morning rituals, 12. A brief visit to the workshop, 13. Gary and Ginger at the Church’s Annual Meeting, 14. Gary and Ginger being nauseating in Walmart on Saint Valentine’s Day, 15. Last thing on a Tuesday night, 16. Burning incense, 17. Afternoon school run, 18. Packing my backpack, 19. Wedding anniversary backpacking at Devils Backbone Wilderness, 20. Morning coffee in Mary Hollow – Devils Backbone Wilderness, 21. Wedding anniversary backpacking at Devils Backbone Wilderness, 22. High School parking lot, 23. Life can be like that, 24. Thursday, 25. Stacking the dishwasher, 26. Last thing, 27. Checking the weather, 28. A final check before closing my machine for the day

  • Day hike – with creeks (365:060)

    Today was a nice day for a hike.

    This morning we drove down to Busiek and hiked the white and orange trails, about five and three-quarter miles with a couple of two hundred foot ascents. It was muddy and most of the creeks and a lot of the trails had water in them, which meant we had to be inventive in finding way across without getting wet; until we had to cross Camp Creek that is. It was too wide to jump and there weren’t any stepping stones. Ginger cleverly had flip-flops and a microfibre towel for just this eventuality. I managed barefoot. 

    I took today’s picture while we were sitting having a rest while drying our feet and enjoying the sunshine. On our way back we decided it would slow us down too much getting out of our shoes and then getting dried at each crossing, especially as we needed to cross the creek about four times. We just walked straight through, the advantage of wool socks is that they soon warm up even when sopping wet. We completed the trail quite quickly, something we’ve been regretting since as we’ve quite a few aches. One wonders when this will get easier.

    Somehow we bodged all our preparations and forgot to take lunch, my driving license and ID, map, hiking poles, bags to put wet things in, and worst of all we forgot the kids got out of school early! The kids got themselves home okay, we’ll be working on a packing list for day hikes which will include the item ‘Check calendar’.

    Back in Springfield I took Lanie to Bass Pro shopping for fishing lures and a storage box for Ginger’s kayak. We found some very pretty lures that Lanie assured me fish would find very enticing. We also found, but didn’t buy some shocking pink worms, I called ‘Hello Kitty’ worms.

    I finished the day making another pair of huaraches (that’ll be the mark IVs) concentrating on trying to get the foot-bed the right shape. Having tried them for a couple of days I can say with confidence that there will be a Mark V. Finally I fitted a jamming cleat on my kayak to keep the anchor traveler in place.

    Tonight we watched Up. I surprised myself by finding it quite charming.

    Today’s alternate shots & extras

    Wide creek equals wet feet
    Wide creek equals wet feet
    Drilling the holes for the anchor traveller jamming cleat on my kayak
    Drilling the holes for the anchor traveler jamming cleat on my kayak
    Kayak hoist
    Kayak hoist
    Shocking pink worms
    Shocking pink worms
    Crossing a creek on the white trail at Busiek
    Crossing a creek on the white trail at Busiek
    Ephemeral Creek on the white trail in Busiek State Forest and Wi
    Ephemeral Creek on the white trail in Busiek State Forest and Wildlife area
    Ozarks' skies
    Ozarks’ skies

  • At the end of the day (365:061)

    Today was a quiet day.

    Which is another way of saying I can’t really remember what we did. I spent the day in general pottering around, recovering and processing pictures from yesterday’s hike. We went to Youth Group and KfC in the evening. I held out taking a picture with the plan of getting one at KfC, but no real opportunities materialised. 

    Back home we relaxed by listening to CDs, lit a couple of candles, some incense, and partook of a wee dram.

  • I’ve found another wall (365:062)


    It’s amazing how quickly I forget what we did on any given day.

    Which is all the more reason to keep up this photographic record going. We definitely went to WalMart, because I have pictures. Much to Ginger’s disgust I started trying to take an SP in what she subsequently described as ‘the busiest aisle in the store.’ On chimping the pics I knew there was something wrong (I’d forgotten to reset the focus point) and they all looked blurry. As it turned out one was fine, though Ginger was obviously not pleased, so much so I finished up cropping her out. Had I known, that picture would have done for the day. 

    I just remembered! I spent most of the afternoon studying, and in the evening attended my class. I really shouldn’t have forgotten that, as class was excellent as usual.

    Thinking I hadn’t got a picture I set about finding another place for last minute portraits, and found a spot complete with blanket box.

    Blanket boxes featured in quite a few of my first 365 project and other pictures. You can stand on them, sit on them, lay on and over them in various states of dress and undress; including wearing a dress. One of my ‘Blanket box’ pictures ended up as a pencil drawing. I was given a copy of that picture, which I must get framed, by my friends for a leaving present when I left the UK. I’d love to see the kids’ faces if we were ever to put it up in the front room. As this project is a daily record rather than an attempt at producing creative pictures I don’t think we’ll be seeing any blanket box used in quite the same way during this project.

    Anyway, I took today’s picture sitting on a blanket box in the hall.

    Tonight we watched Salt a reasonable action romp. Shame I worked out the plot about a quarter of the way in.

    Today’s alternate shots

    Gary shopping in Walmart
    Gary shopping in Walmart

    I've found another wall
    I rather liked this one.

  • Breakfast at Aunt Martha’s Pancake House (365:063)

    Jim and Carol were in town early today.

    Last Sunday we drove past Aunt Martha’s coming back from installing the house sign and Jim said he’d never been there. When we learned they had to be in Springfield early today we told then not to eat a hearty breakfast before coming, and took them to breakfast at Aunt Martha’s. That’s where I took today’s picture of Ginger and I.

    I took some pictures of Jim and Carol, though neither of them like my photographic attentions with the camera, which is a shame. Chimping the first set of pictures I took, I knew I needed to make major changes to the camera settings to get the results I wanted. By the time I’d set the camera up for a second run Jim was getting fairly tired of my picture taking – in the nicest possible way, but enough to spoil the poses. I ended up having to try and rescue the earlier shots in post processing. I’m quite pleased with the results, it’s just a shame I couldn’t get the camera setup right for the first few pictures.

    The picture taking conditions at Aunt Martha’s can be quite challenging, bright background lighting, dim internal lighting, and today they had the shades half drawn which cast a nasty yellow tinge onto the pictures. Normally I’ll go straight to black and white when faced with such variable lighting conditions, but Ginger wanted colour pictures of her parents, and how could I turn her down? I will admit I did do a fair bit of grumbling and moaning about the amount of processing required.

    Other excitement for the day included a trip to Walmart to get prints of the house sign pictures for Jim – I was quite impressed with the quality ‘off the shelf’ as it were. Harbor Freight to take advantage of their ‘Dollar days’ sale. I spent less than $10 and got a load of useful bits and pieces. All cheap and nasty stuff but it’ll do for my purposes. After dropping Jim and Carol back at their car (in for repairs) we spent a bit of time in Dynamic Earth checking out some odds and ends of gear we need for our next back packing trip; we’re hoping to try going out for over a week during the spring break. We managed to come away without spending a lot (always a danger in that sort of store). Though we did get some waterproof paper for printing maps on and Ginger bought a Platy bottle, not bad considering we went in to look at sleeping bag liners and single person backpacking tents.

    I fitted a new blade in my scroll saw and made Mark V Huaraches. I think I’ve finally got the shape of the footbed right. Now I can’t wait to try ’em out.

    Tonight we watched Revolutionary Road. Very uncomfortable viewing.

    Today’s extras

  • Late night browsing (365:064)

    Late night browsing (365:064)Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today was a lazy Saturday.

    It was cold outside so we spent the day lounging around in the warm. 

  • Doing the dishes (365:065)

    Doing the dishes (365:065). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    A fairly typical Sunday.

    Up at Seven, in church by half eight, and back out around eleven forty or so. We stopped to do some grocery shopping on the way home, and by one pm it was Sunday nap time (and yes that is frequently an euphemism). I didn’t surface until gone five, it was a tiring week.

    After dinner I washed dishes, which reminds me I must check the kids rooms for glasses, and then processed my pictures. That’s it. The weekend is almost over.

    I took a picture at church of my coffee and donut, but it was a bit plain, I could have at least taken a bite out of the donut before I took the picture. Thinking about it I came up what I hope might be a better angle. I’ll have to try that next week. I’m back in Church at least three more times this week so I expect there may be a couple more daily pictures taken there before next Sunday.

    Today’s alternate shot

    Coffee and a donut at church

  • Lunch at Busiek (365:066)


    Today we went on a re-run of last week’s hike at Busiek.

    We wanted to do some gear testing; Ginger had made some adjustments to her shoes and I wanted to try out my huaraches. We’d made up the day hike packing list, so nothing, including checking the calendar was forgotten! We had a good hike and got round the 5.75 miles (15,500 steps according to my pedometer) in about the same time as last week, even though this time Ginger elected to remove her shoes for the creek crossings; about six in total. With the huaraches I could just walk straight through. The trekking poles (forgotten last week) worked really well and seemed to speed us through some of the wetter and more rugged patches.

    My huaraches were fine generally, but they didn’t work very well when climbing up steep wet trails, the foot-bed got very slippery, and while my feet didn’t come out of them, it wasn’t very comfortable either. We’ve some ideas for changing the material of the foot-bed that might help. I was surprised that my feet stayed warm except when crossing the creeks. The temperature today was around 46°F (8°C), it might look a lot warmer in this picture but I’m wearing a base layer and took my hat off. I’ve learned via a lot of post processing that wearing a hat for these pictures can cast quite a shadow, so, when I remember, I take it off.

    While on the trail I took a picture of an abandoned liquid nitrogen tank which at some point was a railroad truck. We’ve worked this out from some faint markings on the outside. There are two of them, the ends have been cut off, and one has come to rest in Camp Creek. We can’t find any records of a railroad going through here. The tanks are very big and we’ve no idea how they came to be stuck out here in the middle of nowhere.

    Back at the parking lot we took advantage of the shooting range being closed to have a look around. The fact that it was considered necessary to put up a ‘No shooting at Post’ sign was vaguely amusing, but unfortunately they need another sign saying ‘No shooting at trash cans’ as well

    I took today’s picture of Ginger and I after our first crossing of Camp Creek while we stopped for lunch.

    Today’s alternate shots & extras

    Gary and Ginger being nauseating at Busiek
    Gary and Ginger being nauseating at Busiek
    Gary and Ginger on the orange trail at Busiek State Park
    Gary and Ginger on the orange trail at Busiek State Park
    Camp Creek in Busiek State Park and Wildlife area
    Camp Creek in Busiek State Park and Wildlife area
    No Shooting at Post
    No Shooting at Post (Note the bullet holes in the trash cans)
  • Pancake supper at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield Missouri (365:067)

    It’s Shrove Tuesday – Time for Pancake supper. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It’s Shrove Tuesday – Time for Pancake supper.

    We had a quiet day and shortly after picking the kids up from school headed down to Church as Alek and I were helping in the kitchen. Tickets to the pancake supper are sold as a fund raiser for the youth choir. Traditionally supper is prepared by the dads of the choristers and youth, while the choir does all the serving. Alek took over my job of batter mixing, and I helped serve. Ginger helped too, taking tickets and money on the door.

    There was an excellent turnout, lots of sausage and pancakes were eaten. Between serving and clearing up I took a few pictures including today’s self portrait. In the background you can see the guys working away at the grill making pancakes.

    today’s alternate shot & some favourites from the Pancake Supper

  • Price Cutter parking lot (365:068)

    Today the van broke down.

    We spent the morning looking at places on Google Earth checking past and future hikes and other interesting things. Eventually, the chores of the day called and we went out to deal with a whole host of minor commissions before I settled down to do my coursework. 

    That was the plan. It came unstuck as soon as I turned the ignition key on the van. The starter pre-engage solenoid jammed. I tried looking under the bonnet to find the starter motor, an almost impossible job on a modern vehicle. I couldn’t see it let alone hit it to release the solenoid. After about twenty attempts it clicked over and we managed to get the van going. The only problem was we didn’t dare turn it off again until we could get to the repair shop, which would have to wait until after we picked the kids up from school, in two and a half hours’ time.

    We called ahead and booked the van in for repairs and to have its regular service completed at the same time (which includes changing the front brake pads and milling the rotors – ouch!). We also booked a hire car so we could get to Church for the Ash Wednesday service, the kids to school, and us out on a planned hike tomorrow. I then spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the van in various parking lots with the engine running while Ginger crossed as many of the items off our to-do list as was practical. It was while I and the van were sitting idling away our time that I took today’s picture.

    After collecting the big kids from school, I dropped Ginger off at the car rental and took the van in. I was expecting the starter to work perfectly once it reached the safety of the repair shop, but it failed straight away which was a relief. The good news was that the starter motor is covered under the van’s warranty. The bad news was, so is the A/C condenser and door lock actuator we’d already had fixed. That’ll teach us not to re-read the small print.

    The evening’s Ash Wednesday service at church was over by around eight pm, after which I had to do my coursework – planned for the afternoon. I managed to finish all the reading by around half ten. That was quite a day.   

  • Gary crossing Woods Fork at Busiek (365:069)

    Gary crossing Woods Fork at Busiek (365:069). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Time for another hike.

    We’re getting ready for a longer backpacking trip, so we need to get in as much hiking as we can in preparation for several days of carrying our packs. We did a fairly short four and a half mile hike in the morning around the yellow and red trails at Busiek State Park and Wildlife Area. We used the south trail head, which appears to see very little traffic. 

    After the problems I had with my huaraches on Monday, I tried lacing them more tightly and they stayed in place with less slipping, again the trail was wet and very muddy in places, though this time we only had to cross the creek (Woods Fork) twice. Today’s picture shows me re-enacting my valiant first crossing of the creek. We heard the sound of falling water and left the trail to investigate, finding a very nice set of small waterfalls on a ephemeral creek about 100 feet off the trail. From there we had to do a bit of back tracking to retrieve my sunglasses, which I’d left at the creek when I took them off to set up the camera for today’s shot.

    We stopped for a bite of lunch and a short rest on a lovely gravel bank near our second Wood’s Fork crossing, where Ginger looked for fossils.

    Once back to the car, we had to dash into Springfield, pick-up kids, return the rental car, pick up the van, and I went off to my class. It would have been an excellent night at class only partway through I realised that I’d read the wrong lesson the previous night. That’ll teach me to do my work late in the evening, though the van breaking down did throw me out a bit I should have double-checked the lesson.

    Today’s alternate shot & extras

    Gary at Woods Fork, Busiek State Park and Wildlife Area
    Ginger on the yellow trail at Busiek
    The trails at Busiek are typical of the rough trails that can be found in the Ozarks, lots of loose sharp rocks. As horses use the trails at Busiek they are rougher than they’d be if there was foot traffic only. It’s not a problem, but it certainly makes the trails more challenging.
    Ephemeral creek and falls at Busiek
    Ephemeral creek and falls at Busiek
    Ginger checking out the creek
    Ginger checking out the creek
    Woods Fork, Busiek State Park and Wildlife Area
    Woods Fork, Busiek State Park and Wildlife Area

  • New tent (365:70)

    New Tent. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today we set up our latest tent in the backyard.

    We’ve bought a Sierra Designs Lightning XT 1, one man tent so that we can take one of the kids backpacking with us. It also allows one of us to go solo backpacking if we want, and I have a trip planned, hopefully later this month.

    Ginger and I set it up this morning before Ginger went off with fellow Flickrite Rebbie for a girls day out. Once they’d gone, I re-set the tent and managed to fix a few problems we’d encountered, though the top of the fly at the back was still a bit floppy. Having done that, I retrieved my pack, sleeping bag and pad from the shed, tried the tent out for size, and took today’s picture.

    The rest of the day was disappointingly unproductive. I spent a lot of time with Internet searches to try and see if there was any solution to the tent’s floppy flysheet, and drew a blank. I then spent my time processing pictures and getting them ready to upload. Now I just need to finish that job and go to bed.

    Today’s alternate shot

    New tent
    Gary testing the new tent. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Drinking a beer at Tom & Rebbie’s (365:071)

    Tonight I drank a beer or two (365:071) Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Tonight I drank a beer or two.

    I spent most of the day variously doing my accounts and studiously avoiding doing my accounts. Fortunately I had an even better distraction this evening, as we’d been invited to spend the evening with Tom, Rebbie, Dash and Leslie. Much to Tom and Dash’s relief I managed to get my self portrait taken with involving them in the process.

    I left the camera’s remote shutter release at home so this was the only picture I took, I couldn’t be bothered to get up and reset the timer for a second shot.

  • Self Portrait at Natalie Anne’s Christening (365:072)

    This morning I was temporarily a Lutheran.

    The only thing on the agenda today was to go to Natalie Anne’s Christening, and afterwards, take some pictures, and enjoy a get to together with Betsy, Matt, and the family. 

    When we got home I crammed in my Sunday nap, and since dinner I’ve been processing pictures. I think I have enough nice ones to keep me happy. There are lots more still to process, but they will have to wait for another day.   

    Today’s extras

    Natalie Anne's Christening
    Betsy and Natalie
    Natalie Anne's Christening
    Natalie Anne’s Christening
    Natalie Anne's Christening
    Susan and Natalie
    Natalie Anne's Christening
    Katie and Natalie

  • Annual Accounts (365:073)

    Annual Accounts (365:073). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today the procrastination ended.

    After a slowish start, I spent most of the day working on my business accounts. Once I had started I stopped only for the school run and dinner. By ten pm I’d almost slain this particular dragon. I’ll only need a couple of hours tomorrow to iron out a couple of wrinkles.

    Four years ago

    Annual Returns, Accounts and Invoicing – Oh My! (365: 85) – Some things never change – Annual Accounts 2007. Copyright © 2007 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Something Spicy at Mama Jean’s (365:074)

    Something Spicy at Mama Jean’s (365:074). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    The black caterpillar thing must go.

    I bought a seat belt protector for my messenger bag. The idea is to spread the load and stop the strap from sliding off my shoulder. Seeing it in this picture I think I’ll ask Ginger if she can make something a little more restrained and less conspicuous from it.

    This morning I finished the business accounts and e-mailed them to the company secretary in the UK for checking. Hopefully everything is fine and I’ll be able to submit them this week in plenty of time.

    After the school run Ginger and I dropped Katie off to work out at the gym while we went off and exercised my wallet in what I normally refer to as ‘Norma Jean’s’ the local grains, organic veggies and health food shop – their official moniker is ‘Mama Jean’s’ but I really can’t get on with the American ‘mama’ and ‘mom’ thing. The latter remains a word I can’t get my Brit lips around to the extent that when referring to Ginger with the kids, I resort to calling her ‘your mother’.

    We must have bought at least 40lbs of various grains and dried fruits. The majority of which will go into our home made breakfast cereal, though some of it will be used for backpacking meals. Having virtually emptied the grain bins and my sneaking in a quick SP among the spices, we left Norma’s, collected Katie from the gym and finished our excursion out with shopping at Walmart.

    I ought to mention that Carol gave us a dehydrator Sunday. It’s been going almost 24×7 ever since; drying out various foods to produce nutritious but light grub for our backpacks. This going to be so much better than lugging around tins or sachets of chicken and tuna.

    Looking at this picture, and considering the only post-processing required was a tiny bit of brightening (my fault I’d left the EV set at -1/3) and a small amount of sharpening, I am once more impressed at how well (and frequently better) my little Fuji FinePix compares to my Nikon DSLR. The battery lasts a lot longer too – Which was why I didn’t have the Nikon with me. A single charge is currently lasting about 100 shots on the Nikon.

  • Petting Sprinky (365:075)

    Petting Sprinky (365:075) Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today was a little frustrating.

    I got my feedback on the business accounts, just a couple of simple changes to make, and then they’ll be ready to submit. That was the theory. The practice was different. Six hours later I was still struggling with the accounts software, unable to bend it to my will. I had trouble keeping track of all the different ways I tried to get the accounts package to do what it is supposed to do, and after each failed attempt I reloaded a back-up and started again.

    Checking on the Internet I discovered I wasn’t alone in hitting this problem, though the solutions offered were perfunctory and used unfathomable accounting jargon that was way beyond my ken. Finally the year end figures are correct in the accounting software, though I had to resort to spreadsheets to make the changes to the figures for the submitted accounts.

    Once I’d finished and sent off the amended documents for a final check back in the UK we settled down for a glass of wine, conversation, and cat petting, which is where today’s picture comes in.

    Sprinky, featured in today’s picture, is one of our two Maine Coons, while a very scaredy cat she is also very friendly. Often too friendly, asking me to pet her while I’m busy with other things. Most mornings she comes and says hello before settling down to sleep the morning away at the foot of the bed.

  • Gary checking the tyre pressure (365:076)

    Gary checking the tyre pressure (365:076). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I had a busy day planned,

    and so it turned out. It started with preparing the accounts paperwork for posting to the UK. We then went shopping to get food for tonight’s EFM class; it’s my turn to provide the evening meal. My original idea was to make a proper English shepherds’ pie, but the time spent struggling with the accounts yesterday had prevented me from doing my reading for tonight. Ginger was very nice and volunteered to make chicken soup while I did my reading. Before settling down to do the afore-mentioned reading I checked the air pressure in the van’s tyres, That’s the second tyre pressure checking picture I’ve taken this year. 

    Taking today’s shot took much longer than I anticipated because the Nikon gave up focusing again. I got round the problem by switching over to manual focus, totally un-focusing it, and then putting it back to autofocus. This worked, but of course I didn’t find out it wasn’t focusing until after I took my first set of shots, had removed the camera from the scene and chimped the pictures.

    My plan was to take a ‘honest shot’ with the remote in full view as my shot for today, but I decided to go with this picture instead.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent studying, and at five I went off to class. I got in shortly after nine, having stopped on the way home to fill up with exorbitantly priced fuel ($3.23 per US gallon). We watched a movie – The other Man. It’s now horribly late and I ought to stop typing and go to bed.

    Today’s alternate shot

    Gary checking the tyre pressure. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Final preparations (365:077)

    Final preparations (365:077). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today we did a lot of running around.

    Tomorrow we take the the kids to St Louis and put them on the train to Chicago to spend spring break with their father. We, on the other hand, are going backpacking and camping for the week. With temperatures predicted from 30°F-80°F we have lots of different options to cater for. Earlier I made a new pair of huaraches for the hike, this time with a textured foot-bed, it’ll be interesting to see if this pair work better in the wet.

    My last task before turning in was to fit new lanyards to my knife and compass.

    Today’s alternate shot

    18 March 2011. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Resting my eyes (365:078)

    Resting my eyes (365:078). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    At a service station in Eureka, Missouri, just off the I44.

    While Ginger and the four kids (our three plus a friend) were making use of the facilities I decided to squeeze in a quick SP and a tiny bit of shut-eye.

    The kids’ train to Chicago had been delayed until after five pm, meaning that after we’d dropped them off and driven the sixty odd miles back down the I44, we arrived at our planned destination, Berryman campground after dark. Finding the campground in the dark wasn’t all that easy either.

    Not only was it dark, but it was raining heavily too. The first real test of our rain gear, and a challenge for me to remember how to put the tent up ‘fly first’, a cunning method which keeps the tent and contents dry. The rain gear worked great, and I mostly got the tent up fine; I say mostly because I made the mistake of staking it out before I’d put up the tent proper.

    Once ensconced in the tent we shared a Subway ‘$5 Foot long’ before lights out and listening to the rain pitter-pattering on the tent before falling asleep.

    For some reason I don’t have any pictures of my putting up the tent in the dark and rain. Our first night camping this trip and it’s throwing it down, not an auspicious start.

  • Gary and Ginger Backpacking on the Berryman Trail (365:079)

    Gary and Ginger Allman, backpacking on the Berryman Trail, Missouri. March 2011.
    Gary and Ginger Backpacking on the Berryman Trail (365:079). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today the sun shone.

    Which was a relief after last night’s downpour. It didn’t take us too long to pack up the tent and our packs and move the van to the Berryman trailhead parking lot. We left the trailhead shortly before ten-thirty am with six days’ food plus a couple of litres of water each. Our packs were quite heavy at 42-45lbs each. 

    The Berryman trail is very nice hiking, the gradients are generally fairly gentle – possibly because they are adapted for biking, and the surface is generally good, either soft or gravelly with a few muddy patches, which the previous night’s rain added to. The puddles on the trail were a great test for my new huaraches, which worked well and didn’t slip against my feet when wet. However, there was a different problem; the foot-bed material was so hard and sharp it abraded my feet. I had to stop using them after today and revert to my pair with the foot-bed that becomes slippery when wet. For today though, it was great to be able to walk straight through the mud and small creeks while Ginger had to search for a dry route across.

    We stopped for a cooked lunch of cranberry almond tabouli at a creek about four miles in. All of Ginger’s efforts with the food dehydrator definitely paid off. Even though the food was dehydrated, the six days’ meals we were carrying amounted to 16lbs between us. Over the week we worked out a revised food strategy which will shave a few pounds off. We had enough food for a cooked lunch, dinner and dessert every day. We quickly discovered we didn’t need the cooked lunch – our daily trail mix rations were quite enough to keep us going. We can also drop some of the heavier foodstuffs. The salmon and any pasta weighs a lot mot more than the alternatives.

    Our plan was to hike a nice easy five miles a day, today needed a little bit longer, six miles, to get us to an old disused campground – Edward Beecher Recreation Area, where there is a spring which we could use to top up our water if no other opportunities presented themselves. The campground must have been quite large, though it is completely overgrown now with only a few posts and old fireplaces and grills to show it was ever there. The spring it looked like it was a popular party spot for the locals, so we bushwhacked off the trail to be well out of the way and set up camp near a creek.

    Once we’d got the tent up, we collected wood for the fire; there were plenty of fallen limbs around to choose from, enough for us to keep a small fire going for a couple of hours or more. Dinner was smoked salmon pasta with carrot cake in a bowl for dessert. Who says backpacking isn’t luxurious?

    Sitting quietly by the fire the amount of noise coming from the frogs was startling, and one in particular seemed to be intent on making a very eerie and initially unsettling noise.

    Today’s alternate shots

    Gary at Berryman Campground
    Testing my new huaraches

    Today’s extras

    Overnight camping at Berryman campground
    Berryman Trail
    Berryman Trail
  • Gary and Ginger on the Ozark / Berryman Trail (365:080)

    Near Floyd Tower Road, heading towards Harmon Spring Trail Camp.

    The day started dull and grey, with the overnight temperature somewhere around 45°F but it warmed up to 80°F later and was nice and sunny at times. We had a slow start, a problem we encountered most of the trip, what with sitting in our bags chatting, drinking coffee and eating breakfast, breaking camp and taking pictures. We never seemed to get away before eleven!

    Our plan was to camp somewhere near Harmon Spring Trail Camp, and once we were on our way we stopped only briefly so that I could take pictures of one of the old campground grills, which are scattered around the area and are being slowly consumed by the undergrowth. I also took a picture of the completely unspectacular spring, actually an artesian well, which looks like a large metal gate post stuck in the ground, out of which runs a length of metal pipe with a bit of rubber tube on the end from which the water runs into a concrete trough. We’d already taken water from the creek – we use a MSR SweetWater Water Purifier System which combines an active charcoal filter plus a chlorine treatment, so we didn’t need to help ourselves to the spring water.

    The problem with stopping near water (apart from the noisy frogs) is that it generally means the next day’s hike will invariably start with a climb of some sort. Today was no different, after a short walk up a hollow the trail started to climb a total of some 260 feet. It was fairly easy going, and after that the trail tended to hug the ridge contours. We crossed a couple of forest roads which is where I took today’s picture. The trail ran along side but not visible from a couple of gravel roads for a mile of so.

    Soon the trail started to descend off the ridge towards Little Brazil Creek, near the bottom we passed a large man-made stock/wildlife pond. once in the bottom of the valley the going was fairly boring for a while, and it was difficult to work out exactly how far down the valley we’d progressed. We stopped for a quick trail mix snack after crossing a small creek. Shortly after, we crossed Little Brazil Creek and the trail to Harmon Spring Trail Camp was very wet and muddy. We realised afterwards that someone had blazed (follow the orange tapes) a higher and drier alternative trail. I was fine but very dirty squelching my way through the mud, Ginger had to do a lot of bushwhacking to avoid the worst of the mud and water.

    Harmon Spring Trail Camp is obviously well used. There was a wonderful display of daffodils around a couple of the trees. Seemingly either brought in by the horses that are obviously tied up there, or providing more fertile ground for the daffs to grow in.

    The area was too well used for our liking, so after a quick look at the huge stock pond built around the spring we carried on along the trail until we crossed Little Brazil Creek for the final time. At this point the trail then climbs back onto the ridge over to Brazil Creek. We left the trail following a forest road running North parallel to Little Brazil Creek, and bushwhacked off the road to find a camping spot near the creek. The weather forecast was good, and the overnight temperature predicted to be up in the fifties, so we decided to not set the tent’s fly, and watch the stars from our bed. I found a pool in the creek deep enough for a good, if cold, wash.

    We spent the evening sat by the creek watching the sun go down and eating one pot pasta and chicken followed by rice pudding serenaded by hundreds of ‘peepers’.

    Today’s alternate shots

    Gary looking remarkably chipper before drinking his morning coffee. 21 March 2011 | Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman
    Gary and Ginger on the Ozark / Berryman Trail
    Gary and Ginger on the Ozark / Berryman Trail
    We followed a forest road running North parallel to Little Brazil Creek, and bushwhacked off the road to find a camping spot near the creek. The weather forecast was good, and the overnight temperature predicted to be up in the fifties, so we decided to not set the tent’s fly, and spent the night waching the stars. I found a pool in the creek deep enough for a good, if cold, wash. For a full write up of the day see my 365 Days blog. 21 March 2011 | Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman
    Watching the sunset at Little Brazil Creek
    Watching the sunset at Little Brazil Creek

    Today’s Extras

    Camping at Edward Beecher Recreation Area
    Camping at Edward Beecher Recreation Area. There’s no denying the scenery can be a little dreary at this time of year. The purple bag contains our food and trash and is hanging from a tree to keep it out of the reach of raccoons and such. It was very difficult finding a tree with a suitable branch able to hold the weight of our food.
    Abandoned campsite at Edward Beecher Recreation Area
    Abandoned campsite at Edward Beecher Recreation Area. One of the old campground grills, which are scattered around the area and are being slowly consumed by the undergrowth.
    Spring at Edward Beecher Recreation Area
    The spring at Edward Beecher Recreation Area
    Forrest Road - CR-205 (Floyd Tower Road)
    Forrest Road – CR-205 (Floyd Tower Road)
    Sundown at Little Brazil Creek, Missouri
    Sundown at Little Brazil Creek, Missouri
  • Waking up in the woods. Berryman Trail, Missouri (365:081)

    Waking up in the woods. Berryman Trail, Missouri (365:081). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Last night we slept under the stars.

    Day-028 Waking Up. Copyright © 2007 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Although it was a warm-ish night, 55°F or so, without the flysheet set it felt quite cool, in my 0°F bag I was hot and I kept it unzipped all night. I took this picture as a homage to a picture from day 29 of my Original 2007 365 days project.

    We had cleared up and were away by 10:40 am. By 10:55 we were back on the trail proper. The Ozark Trail and Berryman Trails had split just before we crossed Little Brazil Creek, so now we were on the Berryman trail only. The day started with a modest two hundred foot ascent over about half a mile. There was a lot of evidence of trail improvements and changes being made, with very recent tracks of a large bulldozer in several places. Once up on the ridge, the trail ran nicely along the contours winding in and out of lots of very steep hollows. At one point the trail was blocked by a fallen tree. Ginger managed to scramble over it, I elected to take a more sedate bushwhacking route.

    There was some evidence of spring to be seen in the hollows, with a few flowers and some leaves showing along the trail. The five miles to Brazil Creek Campground passed quickly, and by two pm we were descending the very muddy switchbacks down to the creek. Up until that point the day had been sunny and warm, but it soon clouded over, and while we were examining Brazil Creek Campground trying to decide what to do next it started to rain. We quickly set up the tent and decided to stay put. In the evening we had a great fire in the provided fire rings.

    We’d foregone lunch in the morning’s hike so we had double rations – partly to try and reduce our pack weights. We had chicken couscous, Creole albacore and a very yummy upside-down lemon pie for dessert.   

    Today’s alternate shots & extras

    Gary and Ginger at yet another trail marker
    Gary and Ginger at yet another trail marker
    Our Mutha Hubba tent set up with out the flysheet
    Our Mutha Hubba tent set up with out the flysheet
    One of the many hollows we walked around
    One of the many hollows we walked around

  • Feet up, taking a break on the trail (365:082)

    Taking a short break. Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Today was a very windy day.

    We weren’t sure there would be water at our proposed overnight stopping point in Smith Mill Hollow, so we filled up with water before leaving Brazil Creek. Once more we had a late start, and we were delayed even more when right at the start of the hike Ginger managed to slip into a muddy pool and get her shoes all wet and full of mud. It took a while to dry and clean things out. Wearing my huaraches I was able to stroll straight through all the mud.

    Today’s hike started with a climb again! This time the trail had a lot more ups and downs. We took a short lunch break sat by the trail enjoying the sunshine, which was when I took today’s self portrait(s).

    I can’t praise my home-made huaraches enough. They’ve worked really well, it is great to be able to wade straight across creeks and through mud. I’ve not had any problems with hurting my feet. In 36 miles I’ve only caught my feet on sticks twice. Stones getting caught on the foot-bed isn’t much of a problem, I pick up about one a mile and because there’s no straps etc. to keep them in, they normally come straight back out. I’ve extended the sole at the front which helps prevent me from stubbing my toes. The rough foot bed surface on my latest pair has got round the problem of my feet slipping off of the foot bed when they are wet. As for getting cold, I can go barefoot to below freezing with no problem providing I’m moving, and I’ve a really nice pair of woolen socks that Ginger has made for my huaraches – they have a separate toe.

    Once we’d dropped into Smith Mill Hollow, we found the creek had plenty of water in it. So much for carrying a load of extra water. We decided to hike on down to where the trail rises back up out of the hollow before looking for a campsite. We bushwhacked for about a quarter mile from the trail to the creek – only to find the previously full creek absolutely dry. So it was just as well we had plenty of water with us.

    The wind was gusting to over forty mph and it didn’t feel very safe to be in among all the trees. We checked the trees near our chosen camping spot and none of them looked rotten or likely to fall. For the first time we had to set guy ropes on the tent to keep it steady. It was while we were surveying the area that Ginger saw a tree fall about 600 yards away. Not good. We carry a NOAA weather alert radio, and the forecast said that the wind would drop in the evening which was comforting, but we decided not to try lighting a fire in the gusty wind. With the wind, which had shifted from the South to the North came a rapid drop in temperature – around 20 degrees.

    In the evening we heard a very raucous pack of coyotes run the trail up the hollow, 400 odd yards away. Coyotes sound pretty otherworldly at the best of times, sitting in the dark listening to them pass by was an unnerving experience which led to a discussion on the merits of carrying a sidearm. Coyotes, of course, aren’t known for attacking people, but that information doesn’t help when you think about them running around outside your tent!

    Today’s alternate shot & extras

    Gary having a break on the trail
    Gary having a break on the trail. Soaking up a few rays and enjoying the warmth. The more astute may have noted that I’m wearing the same shirt. Well I did wash it in the creek, likewise my pants (trousers) but I accidentally left my tee shirt in the van back at the trail head, so I had to go the whole trip with a long sleeved shirt.
    Breaking camp at Brazil Creek Campground, Missouri
    Breaking camp at Brazil Creek Campground, Missouri
    Ginger following the Berryman Trail around the end of a hollow
    Ginger following the Berryman Trail around the end of a hollow
    Ginger on the Berryman Trail descending into Smith Mill Hollow
    Ginger on the Berryman Trail descending into Smith Mill Hollow
    Our campsite in Smith Mill Hollow
    Our campsite in Smith Mill Hollow. The overhanging rocks were very pretty. In the darkness of the night I wondered what animal might like to rest up under there.
    Our campsite in Smith Mill Hollow
    Note the guy rope on the tent. We’ve never had to set these before. They held the tent very securely in the wind.
    Our campsite in Smith Mill Hollow
    Our campsite in Smith Mill Hollow. Viewed from on top of the rocks. It almost looks like there’s water in the creek. Unfortunately there wasn’t.
  • Gary and Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip (365:083)

    Gary & Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip
    Gary & Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip

    What else could I use for today’s picture?

    Today was the day we’ve been carrying around additional clothing for. Since yesterday the temperatures plummeted over forty degrees, we even had some snow sprinkles as we broke camp.

    For a change we got away a bit earlier – the temperature in the tent being around 45°F encouraged us out! We started out bushwhacking back to the trail just after 10am and arrived at the Berryman Trail head just before 1pm. We spent a bit of time exploring and dallying on the trail, but the weather made for a quite dreary hike. This part of the trail is a lot more uneven with lots of changes of elevation. Unlike most of the trail, this section doesn’t tend to hug the contours, but dives down into the hollows and then climbs up the other side. We were relieved to find the van where we’d left it, and undamaged – as you never know what to expect when leaving your vehicle at a trail head.

    So we’d hiked a modest 24 miles (61,000 steps) in five days, our longest hike was day one – six miles, and our shortest was today’s at around four miles. To put it in context, it is possible to hike the entire Berryman trail in one (hard) day. We planned our trip around stopping where we thought there’d be water, and to last out a reasonably time as we had the whole week without the kids. We probably carried enough food and fuel for nine days, and had to carry additional clothes for wet and cold weather, both of which really pushed up our pack weights. Ginger had some trouble with her feet and knees towards the end of the hike, so I was carrying most of the heavy stuff, including extra water yesterday. Most of the time the day time temps were in the high seventies and nights were in the low to mid fifties. Though last night was below freezing and today’s day time temps just a tad above.

    All the gear worked fine, the only items I carried but didn’t use were the first aid kit, emergency kit, my toe socks and my Vibram five fingers – which I took along in case I had trouble with the huaraches. However, My huaraches worked a treat, though I need to do something about the foot-bed of my second pair as it was too rough (I sanded them down when I got home and now they are perfect). The dehydrated food was excellent, though we’ll carry a lot less in future. The water filter/purifier, stove, tent, weather radio, trekking poles (I lost the rubber tip on mine, probably sucked off in some mud), sleeping bags (a tad too warm for me), sleeping pads and chairs (yes we took chairs) all worked fine. We had a bit of trouble with the coffee filter – but that is mainly because our cups are too narrow to be stable. We even managed to use the compass to fix our position on the trail at one point. We found that on the high points of the ridges my cell ‘phone was able to get a signal, so at least once a day we could check for messages (there were none). I rued leaving my rather heavy mini tripod behind, and that is my excuse for the the rather lack lustre arm’s length self portraits I’ve been taking.

    Before arriving back at the trail head we’d realised that we had made a major planning blunder by not putting any end of trail beers in the van. So instead we drove to Potosi and treated ourselves to a nice thick hamburger. With an end of hike celebration later in the day in mind, we raided Walmart for some scotch, cheese and crackers.

    We still have two days to go before we pick up the kids at St Louis, so we headed off to Indian Creek Recreation Area for some car camping. We were not at all impressed at the state of the campsites, they were dirty, unmaintained and looked generally a mess. It gave us a bad feeling about the place. So we decided to opt for the relative luxury of Meramec State Park. What a difference. It probably looks more like a refugee camp at peak season, but at this time of year with temps going below freezing, it was almost empty. Though none of the facilities such as showers and washing machines are available out of season. We found a nice pitch in among some trees, which even had electricity not that we could do anything with it! We arrived shortly before the sun went down, and I managed to get a great picture of the bluffs on the opposite side of the Meramec river as we did a little preliminary exploration of the site.

    We foraged for downed limbs, of which there was a plentiful supply after yesterday’s high winds, and we’d bought some fire wood locally, so we could have a huge fire in the supplied firepit and grill. Dinner was a Mango chicken curry over beans and rice. The fire was lit and essential to keep us warm as the temperature was hovering around freezing. Finally, we broached the scotch, cheese and crackers and I ate and drank far too much.

    Today’s alternate shots & extras

  • Trail shelter, Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park (365:084)

    I started the day with a monster hangover.

    Which, of course, was totally my own fault. I obviously ate far too much cheese. I didn’t even start to feel human until the early afternoon, and lunch today was our only dehydrated meal failure – Fruit cous cous.

    Ginger in the trail shelter, Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park
    Trail shelter, Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park

    Something had to be done, so we went for a short hike on the park’s bluff and river trails. We found this curious trail shelter on top of the bluffs over looking the Meramec river.

    Further around the trail we found a cave, albeit a very shallow cave, which the Camp Host had told us about, and unlike most of Missouri’s caves we could actually go into this one. Entry into the majority of the state’s caves is banned at the moment to protect the bats from disease and being disturbed. If you check out the cave picture carefully you’ll see I’m testing my special woolen socks with a toe that Ginger made for me to wear with my huaraches.

    Cave on the Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park
    Cave on the Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park

    The other thing the Camp Host told us – after we’d picked our camping spot – was that there is a backpacking trail here with free camping sites. D’oh!

    In the evening we went into Sullivan for a nice big fat juicy steak. Tomorrow we have to be up early and head for St Louis. We have plans to hit the REI store before picking up the kids. We’ve also been told it might snow overnight, though the weather radio is denying this.

    Today’s alternate shot

    Trail shelter, Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park
    Gary and Ginger at a trail shelter, Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park
  • Snow? What snow? (365:085)

    Snow? What snow? (365:085). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I was most disappointed to find it didn’t snow in the night.

    Those were words I was going to regret later. We were up and away early, hitting the Sullivan McDonald’s for a couple of Egg McMuffins before going to St Louis. We spent ages looking at all the desirable goodies in REI, on the whole managing to not buy anything much. I did get a lightweight backpacking tripod which would have been very handy over the past week.

    We got a call from the kids – their train was ahead of schedule so off we went arriving at the station just as their train arrived. Now I only had the two hundred odd mile drive back to Springfield to deal with. I wish I’d kept quiet about the snow. As we got near to Sullivan there were two inches; it was freezing on the road making the surface very treacherous, and it had started blowing almost a blizzard. I wonder what the troop of boy scouts that arrived at Meramec State Park the previous night made of that turn of events.

    There was a jack knifed truck blocking the I44 at Sullivan, and over the next fifty miles I counted at least 10 wrecks. Mostly and worryingly minivans that had left the road and either tangled with the central reservation or the roadside ditch.

    By Rolla the road was clear and we’d dodged the snow but it was slow and very nasty going for a while. We got home around four, and later we treated ourselves to a Mexican at our favourite place – Amigos. Pulling back into the garage I noticed that one of the headlamps was out. D’oh! They were both working on the drive home from St Louis.

  • Changing the headlamp (365:086)

    Changing the headlamp (365:086). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    This was my major achievement for the day.

    Unless, that is, you count going to Walmart. Even more excitement ensued with a trip to Bass Pro in the evening, not too much excitement though, as they didn’t have the particular item I was looking for. Still, I got a bonus 500 reward points for buying some lightweight aluminum tent pegs for the new tent.

    I was surprised that changing the bulb required removing the entire headlamp assembly. However, apart from trying to work out how to get the bulb out of the connector it was very straightforward.

  • Lunch break in the old barn on the Sac River Trail (365:087)

    Lunch break in the old barn on the Sac River Trail (365:087). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    Ginger has this habit of distracting me.

    Now you know why I’m laughing in the alternate shot. We went for a quick 3 plus mile hike this today on the Sac River trail. We thought we ought to get out again before we lost any physical gains we might have made from last week’s backpacking trip. The ground was wet so we sat on the edge of the floor of the old barn while we ate our peanut butter sandwiches.

    Today’s alternate shot

    Lunch break in the old barn on the Sac River Trail

  • Tired (365:088)


    I spent too much time at the computer today.

  • That’s it for today (365:089)

    That’s it for today (365:089) Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    The problem with going away is

    processing all the pictures and writing it up when I get back. Still, I’m all caught up now and it’s all up and posted. I have to admit the last hour or so was wasted looking dumbly at the screen; I didn’t take anything in. 

  • Parallel Guide (365:090)

    Parallel Guide (365:090). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It’s Thursday, so I’m studying.

    As we were off backpacking last week I missed a class, so I had to read two week’s lesson notes today to bring myself up to date. It’s good to see the auto focus on the Nikon still doesn’t consistently focus when using the remote (that was sarcasm by the way).

    Much better is the fact I managed to get a 40% off deal on a down backpacking quilt, so now I should be set for camping and backpacking in the warmer weather; I found my 0°F bag a little on the toasty side even when the outside temperature got below 32°F. I’m hoping it will be alright, but in principle it is a similar design to the Big Agnes bags we originally bought, and I found them very cold. I’ll have to think of some way of trying it out next week.

    Note to self: when you are writing a ‘self portrait a day’ blog, it helps to remember to include the self portrait. D’oh!

  • March 2011

    This month we helped out at the church pancake supper, the van broke down, I became a temporary Lutheran for Natalie’s baptism, had a beer with Tom and Rebbie, Breakfast with Jim and Carol, completed my annual accounts, we went hiking on four days and after sending the kids to Chicago, spent Spring break backpacking and camping. That brings our year to date totals to 8 days backpacking (36.5 miles), we’ve spent 9 nights under canvas and we’ve hiked 34 miles so far, a total of 70.5 miles.

    Colour pictures made a comeback this month, though the trend towards the end of the month was once more black and white. I’ve got my feet up in three pictures, the van appears in four, Sprinky the cat in one, and my wonderful wife Ginger appears with me in seven. There are far too many hiking / backpacking pictures with long write-ups. I’m sure I’ll get over it before the end of this project.

    Next month let’s hope for some more hiking/camping and backpacking pictures and maybe some kayaking and fishing pictures too.

    1. Day hike – with creeks, 2. At the end of the day, 3. I’ve found another wall, 4. Breakfast at Aunt Martha’s Pancake House, 5. Late night browsing, 6. Doing the dishes, 7. Lunch at Busiek, 8. Pancake supper at Christ Episcopal Church, Springfield Missouri, 9. Price Cutter parking lot, 10. Gary crossing Woods Fork at Busiek, 11. New tent, 12. Drinking a beer at Tom & Rebbie’s, 13. Self Portrait at Natalie Anne’s Christening, 14. Annual Accounts, 15. Something Spicy at Mama Jean’s, 16. Petting Sprinky, 17. Gary checking the tyre pressure, 18. Final preparations, 19. Resting my eyes, 20. Gary and Ginger Backpacking on the Berryman Trail, 21. Gary and Ginger on the Ozark / Berryman Trail, 22. Waking up in the woods. Berryman Trail, Missouri, 23. Feet up, taking a break on the trail, 24. Gary and Ginger at the end of our Berryman Trail backpacking trip, 25. Trail shelter, Bluffs Trail, Meramec State Park, 26. Snow? What snow?, 27. Changing the headlamp, 28. Lunch break in the old barn on the Sac River Trail, 29. Tired, 30. That’s it for today, 31. Parallel Guide

  • Late night stand-by (365:091)

    Late night stand-by

    Today was Lanie’s birthday.

    And we messed up, because we have at least six working, charged up and ready to go cameras in the family and not one of us took a picture. It also meant that come the end of the evening – which was spent watching a movie of Lanie’s choice (Coraline) – I still had to take a self portrait. So it’s another ‘at the end of the day up against the wall’ shot.

  • Sprinky appears to be giving me the ‘evil eye’ (365:092)

    Sprinky appears to be giving me the 'evil eye' by Gary Allman

    You would have thought I would have got the hang of this self portrait taking thingy by now. Alas that isn’t the case. I spent the afternoon doing yard work, raking leaves, cutting down last year’s bamboo, I even helped Alek get the leaf blower working and took everyone to Andy’s for a concrete (ice cream). Did I immortalize any of these activities in the digital photographic medium? No.

    Instead I have a last minute picture of me pretending to use the DVD remote control while the whirs, flashing lights and beeps of the camera annoy Sprinky. For the record, we watched What women want. A harmless little ditty.

    Today’s alternate shot

    Sprinky likes being stroked behind the ears
    Sprinky likes being stroked behind the ears
  • Family hike (365:093)

    Family hike at Busiek state Forest and wildlife area

    Today I tried to learn from yesterday’s failure to make the most of the photo opportunities.

    After church we took all the kids hiking at Busiek, which meant having a bouncy twelve year old, a reluctant teenager, and an out and out surly teenager along with us.

    I ought to point out that the surly one, Alek, isn’t usually the stereotypical surly teenager, but today he made up for it, sighing and moaning whenever the opportunity arose. It probably didn’t help that my response to his statement “you said I didn’t have to do this outside stuff with you again.” was “We lied.” Though it was very effective at cutting off any argument.

    Ginger picked the silver trail for our hike. This is a technically demanding three mile route that even we find quite tough going at times; so Alek, Katie and Lanie should be commended for getting around it despite the grumbling. Especially as the temperatures unexpectedly rocketed up into the low nineties.

    Today’s extras

  • Trying out my new sleeping bag (365:094)


    Technically speaking its a quilt and not a sleeping bag, however, the the net result is the same. I found a nice summer weight bag at 40% off retail price, hopefully it should be good for temperatures from 40°F up. Though after the very disappointing results we had last year with the 20°F Big Agnes bags – which we found very cold at just 40°F, I’ll reserve my judgment until after I’ve had a chance to try it out properly. The good news is that it only weighs 1 lb 5 oz. and it compresses really small.

    Apart from my sleeping bag, I invested in a new battery for the Nikon today. The original battery is only giving me 50-100 shots. I didn’t want to spend more money on the darned thing, but as I’ve not been able to select a replacement camera yet, I’m going to have to keep it going. The prime contender as a replacement is the FujiFilm FinePix X100. Unfortunately although the camera has been released in Europe, only very small numbers have found their way into the US thus far. With the current situation in Japan it looks like it will be quite a while before I can get my hands on one and see if it really is everything I think it is. While getting the battery I also looked at trying a F2.8 70-200mm lens for some low light pictures. Decisions, decisions.

    Today’s alternate shot

    Trying out my new sleeping bag (2)
    New bag, existing sleeping pad and some added cat fur. What more does one need for a good night’s sleep?
  • More fun in the workshop (365:095)


    Today we are building a “batch-loaded, inverted downdraft gasifier” wood stove out of old tin cans.

    But before I could do that we had a few chores to complete, not least to go out and find a suitable mesh for the bottom of the burner. I found something – a shower strainer for $1.68. Once the chores were out of the way I started trying to work out the best way to build my MK-I stove, which kept me occupied for a couple of hours. The reasons for trying this are (1) it’s fun, (2) carrying a stove and fuel adds around 2-3 lb to my pack. A stove like this should weigh around 4 oz, and it should also be smaller than the stove, and (3) did I mention it’s fun? Anything involving power tools and fire has to be. In the picture, I’m lining up the outer casing before drilling the air inlet holes.

    With a favorable (ie 40°F) temperature predicted for the night, I set up the solo tent in the backyard so that I could do a ‘backyard test’ of my new sleeping bag. Before retiring to my tent we tried out the stove. It was not a complete success, it seemed that the ash was blocking the mesh in the bottom of the burner, causing the fire to die out through lack of air.

    With plans to modify the burner in the morning, I went to bed and spent a very toasty night in my new GoLite 1+ Season quilt. I was almost too warm. Contrary to the earlier forecast the overnight temperature only dropped to just below 50°F. The lowest overnight temperature in the tent was 48.5°F – aren’t modern electronic gadgets wonderful! We have a max/min electronic thermometer called a ‘Dangler’, we found for $10.

    My conclusion is that with a base layer the bag ought to be good for use from around 35°F. Which considering its 1 lb 4 oz weight and 8″ x 6″ stuffed size is pretty darn good.   

    Today’s alternate shots & extras

  • Reconnoiter (365:096)


    In ten days time, I’ve got to do a photo shoot.

    This afternoon Ginger and I spent some time on location checking the light and looking for suitable picture opportunities. What happens will all depend on the weather on the day; I had already built a lighting rig with this shoot in mind, but I won’t need it as we’ve managed to find some locations that I can light fully with the dreaded flash gun. We carefully picked places for the availability of surfaces for bouncing the flash, which the test shots have shown to give some very nice even results. Which is just as well as the available lighting is truly awful. Even so, I’ll have to use black and white for a lot of the pictures as some areas are lit with sodium lights. Trying to get a decent color image from those with a mix of daylight from adjacent windows isn’t easy. Just before we left I took a quick self-portrait. Check out the sodium lighting in the background of the color alternate shot. 

    I spent some time today working on my MK-II and III wood burners, and we finally have a burner that will bring a liter of water (around a US quart) to the boil in fifteen minutes from lighting the fire. More tinkering and tests are needed, especially as I realized tonight that I’ve been setting it up incorrectly. Still, tin cans are in plentiful supply so I can make and test several burner inserts.

    The evening was spent at the church Lent soup supper, followed by youth group for the kids, a class for me and general chit-chat for Ginger. Once home I processed my pictures for the past couple of days.   

    Today’s alternate shot

    Reconnoitre (2)
    Check out the sodium lighting in the background of the shot.

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