Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review: The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles

As with all most of his novels I give it TWO thumbs up - highly recommend you read it!
I started this book a few weeks ago but didn't actually 'read' it until the last couple of nights. In fact I read two other books after having started this one. I LOVE Greg Iles books which have always sucked me in within in the first couple of pages. The problem I had was that this book didn't do that, in fact it took about 50 pages for me to get hooked - but once I was I couldn't stop reading. I finished it around 3 this morning.

The first book of his that I read was Blood Memory (which isn't for young readers) and it's probably still my favorite. It was on an end cap at Barnes & Noble one day when I was wondering around looking for something to read and the cover caught my eye. I'd never heard of him but figured what the heck and bought it. Once I finished it I purchased everyone of his books that I could find. I read Mortal Fear, The Quiet Game, 24 Hours, Dead Sleep, Sleep No More, The Footprints of God, Turning Angel, True Evil & Third Degree immediately after reading Blood Memory. After reading that many books by one author back to back, it was hard to pick up another author for about a month.

Once I got past the first 50 pages The Devil's Punchbowl - I loved, loved, loved the book and read it in two nights. I truly enjoy reading about the life of Penn Cage in Natchez, Mississippi. If you haven't heard of or read any of Greg Iles books I highly recommend them. All are available at Barnes & Noble!

I'd enjoy visiting Natchez in real life one day to see what of 'Penn Cage's city' is actually a reality. Some of the aspects of the city that Iles describes are so detailed and he repeats these aspects in multiple novels so I assume that they're actual buildings and places in & around the city. I hope that it's not the same as when you see a movie of a book that you love and then can't believe how it just doesn't fit your mental picture of what you read. Which speaking of movies I'm surprised that none of his have been brought to motion picture. Of course if a motion picture follows his book they'll definitely be rated R, as I stated above his novels aren't for young readers. Certain aspects of the crimes committed are described in detail, lots of detail.

I wasn't disappointed or upset with the end of the book but at the same point in time I wasn't happy with it. Any book that he releases I'll read, he doesn't need to 'tease' me at the end of a book to get me to read the next which is exactly what happened at the end of this one. I guess I should walk away happy that Penn Cage will be returning for at least one more novel! But I don't like the thought of waiting a year to find out what happens.........

Sunday, November 29, 2009

At least Seven AM!

I was really hoping to sleep until at least 7am this morning. But of course on the last day of my '4-day holiday' I'm awake at 5:45 as normal (I technically worked on Friday since the early bird shopping was for door prizes for my work Christmas party and since I had to rise from bed at 2:45 to do that shopping - it's definitely considered 'work').
I convinced myself to lay still in bed thinking maybe I'd fall back asleep - NOPE. My mind started to run through everything I'd like to accomplish today so I gave in and got up. Here it is almost seven now and I'm on my second cup of coffee, I have Photoshop open with pictures up and ready to be edited, and I'm almost done with my farming chores!

I had photo sessions yesterday and didn't get to attend the first round Saluki playoff game, but Dad and Johnathon went. Of course since the Dawgs won and will be playing at home again next weekend Johnathon is pretty sure he needs to go to that game also - we'll see! Dad's having carpel tunnel surgery on his hand on Thursday, but he's pretty sure he'll be okay to go to the game also.
Nothing much new to report, I've had 7 photo sessions this week. Feast or Famine - although I can't say that I've had a week since oh say March that I haven't had at least 3-4 things to do for either photography or decorating (which isn't a bad thing)!
Many people have decided to do pictures for Christmas this year and with Christmas quickly approaching, it's not like I'm on a deadline to get edits done or anything. I have two sessions this afternoon which are both primarily inside sessions - I don't have the room to keep a backdrop set up and practice with the lighting so inside shoots make me nervous. The bad thing with Christmas sessions is that most people want them to be gifts/surprises for family members so it'll be after the holidays before I can even post them on my website. I'd hate to be the one to spoil the surprise for someone!

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and survived the madness of Black Friday (Arielle and I did!). I have most of my Christmas purchased now, actually purchased most of it online before the official holiday shopping season even started. Well I need another cup of coffee and those edits aren't going to happen without me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Edits Edits and more Edits!

Amy & Heather - Hawaiian Luau 2006

I've been sitting at the computer literally all day long working on spreadsheets for work that I have to have done by 9am Monday morning and editing pictures. I've tried to go back and forth between the two as to not fry my brain on either at any one given point. In case you missed it I did say ALL day, yes my rear is officially flat!

I have determined that I take way too many pictures at one setting. For instance at the basketball game Thursday night I put in an empty 4gb flash card and when I walked out of the gym I had a whooping 18 pictures left on the card - that means I took well over 300 pictures at the game! Now multiply that by 25-30 games......I'll let you do the math, I've shut down my spreadsheets for the night. I just know it's too many pictures to keep up with edits on a timely basis. Now if I didn't have to work, those edits would be a breeze.

On a good note my cousin called and I heard my phone ringing and was able to answer and talk which ended our two week long phone tag! HOORAY! I had a great chat with her tonight, well talking on the phone for over an hour isn't really just a chat but you get the point. I soooooo wish she lived closer to me. She actually understands my frustrations, sarcasm and warped sense of humor. We have similar likes and dislikes which makes our complaints and gossip that much more fun. If I didn't know better I'd think we're related :) I haven't got to see her recently, hopefully she'll get to come for a visit soon. If not I may have to make a trip to VA, hey when is your next wedding shoot - that would just be too much fun!!

Well since it's after midnight I guess I'd better give the computer a rest and get some sleep. I need to continue working on the edits from a wedding & start the edits from a family session tomorrow along with finishing up the spreadsheets for work, edit the basketball pics and I'm taking pics of a Sesser senior in the early afternoon. Piece of Cake!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Here Kitty Kitty

Quick side note: the cat pictured below is not the cat with the misfortune of getting stepped on. It is, or rather was one of our cats though and was a pesky little thing that had a habbit of climbing up the railing on the back deck. I snapped the pic as it was meowing and stretching towards me as though I would pet it - ha - to it's distain I'm not a cat person and rarely touch to furry little critters!

Johnathon's basketball game last night was on the south side of Carbondale so I met dad down there after work. As we drove up he rolled down his window to tell me he had to go to Herrin hospital because my mother stepped on a cat as she was leaving and fell down the steps landing on concrete. She luckily had her cell phone and called Frankie who was close by and then called 911. They took her to Herrin hospital and thankfully it's just a sprain - not broken!

After the game I explained to Johnathon what had happened....
question #1) sooo Pappa Deaner missed the game?
(me) yes he had to go to the ER for Grand MaLou
(Spiff) man I scored 10 points tonight and he missed it

question #2) well what about the cat?
(me) do what!?!
(Spiff) well if Grand MaLou stepped on the cat is it dead?
(me) doubt it but I'll be sure to call and find out how the CAT is doing.....

I didn't call last night but have been told that the cat ran up the tree after being in the wrong place at the wrong time and we believe he's still hiding up there. As far as we know the cat will live as will Grand MaLou.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


So very thankful to all the veterans who have served this great country.
Here are just few that are related to me....above is my father who was a mechanic on a C130 in the Air Force

Those in uniform from left to right - Uncle Butch, cousin Wayne, Uncle Doug, Uncle JohnD, Aunt Kathy. Picture was taken at a Shurtz family reunion sometime in the mid80's.
My grandmother (Mary Shurtz) is in the middle along with two of my great grandmothers, Great Grandma Shurtz on the left and NaNa Foley on the right surrounded by my mother's siblings and her nephew who were all active duty at the time of this picture.

Siblings - Jason Shurtz is still active with the Navy and just returned from deployment, Heather Shurtz is now a civilian employed by the Navy (served 8 years active duty as a photographer for the Navy) and the eldest is Wayne Shurtz who just retired after serving 20 years in the medical field for the Navy.
My grandfather, Wayne Shurtz who was a pharmacist mate in the Navy.

Uncle Don Galloway who served during the Korean War in the US Army.

Grandfather, Wayne Shurtz on the left along with my uncle Wayne "Butch" Shurtz on the right.

Uncle John D who retired from the US Navy a few years ago. I believe this pic is from his retirement ceremony.

My cousin Brian who is still serving.

I have many more relatives who have or are still serving but I don't have pictures of them....just to name a few

Great Uncle Frank Shurtz, Navy
Great Uncle Jim Painter, Army
Great Uncle Ralph Galloway, Army
Uncle Shane Wheatley, Army
Cousin Nathan Shurtz, Marines
Cousin Steven Shurtz, Navy (active duty)
Cousin Tim Childress, Air Force
Cousin Kyle Painter, Army
Cousin Edgar Gillock, Army

I decorated the VFW in DuQuoin this morning, they're having a special ceremony for all WWII vets and are serving a meal throughout the day (which smelled wonderful!). My mother is an auxillary member and 'volunteered' me to decorate - based on everyone's reaction I have a feeling I'm decorating next year too. Here are a few pics of the decorations, they don't usually decorate the hall so I kept the decor somewhat simple.
I made the white sleeves around the flowers and glued the emblem from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines onto the four sides. Ran red crepe paper down the middle of the tables that were covered in white film and cut stars from blue cardstock - stars and stripes. Purchased flag sets that include the American flag in the middle surrounded by the 5 branches of service flags inserted into a black pedestal. The flowers consisted of baby's breath that I sprayed blue, white & red carnations, mini red rose sprays, red tulips, red gerbera daisies, and white spider mums. American flags were added to the flower arrangements.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Go #25......season opener!

Johnathon forced a turnover by stealing the ball, wish the breakaway was 'in focus'....
..........his lay-up attempt.
The other kid body checked him causing a personal foul...........so he got to shoot 3 free-throws. He missed the first one and made the next two.

First 2 POINTS of the seaon!

Not sure why he looks like he's in pain here.

He and Luke are both trying to get the ball from the JC player.

Missed the best part of this shot (had my big lens on and was sitting WAY too close to the action), anyway he made this basket.....2 POINTS!

Sticking your tongue out at him??? Really!
I'm pretty sure he's looking for his bottle of water....pretty sure! (yah he's the one who's backside is all that you can see)
Game over - Sesser-Valier Devils 7th grade team wins!! WoooHoooo
Keeping stats during the varsity, 8th grade game.
Several of these were out of focus (ugggh), I didn't have the shutter speed set fast enough. I'll pay more attention for the game Monday night. This was the first game of the season and I was just a little off kilter but will be back into the swing of things by Monday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

09.21.09 Update

It's a rainy Monday morning and I'm back at work after taking off a few days last week. Sorry I'm behind on my blog, I need to find about 4 more working hours in EACH the day!

I decorated another wedding this past weekend, it was a little nerve-racking as the bride and mother of the bride are in the wedding business (they sell wedding dresses). Sorry I don't have my memory stick to post pictures, which I didn't take many due to time constraints - but I do have a few from the chapel after it was decorated to post. The entire evening was decorated in white calla's, orchids & roses and dark, dark purple calla's. Big THANKS goes out again to my crew - Arielle, Brenda, Aunt Eileen, Mom & Staci. I was on auto pilot yesterday, got a few things put away but for the most part just 'moved' through the day. Mentally and physically drained plus one of my bottom wisdom teeth has decided to try to come in again - I know, I know I need to have them cut out. The frequency of their attempts to surface has increased so I may make that appointment to an ortho surgeon.

My 20th class reunion and the Art & Wine Festival at the Southern Illinois Artisan Shop is this weekend. I'm partially decorating and photographing a wedding the first weekend in October and decorating another purple wedding the second weekend in October. After those two weddings I just have photo sessions for the rest of the year!!! I've already started thinking about my Christmas cards this year and since I didn't get them out last year - I should have most of the supplies already.

Junior high baseball is ending this week. Flag football for Matthew and Katie (cheer leading) started this past weekend, unfortunately with the events I have going I'll only be able to catch the last game or two. I think we have a few weeks off before basketball begins, but not many. So between sports and my three jobs I keep busy. I don't understand when people post and talk about being bored - I just don't understand that term any more.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Number 7 [Sesser-Valier Baseball]

SV junior high boys baseball is under way. The season is going okay - we're 4 in 9 and have won the last two games! Below are a few quick pics that I took. Unfortunately the games are all at four o'clock and since I don't officially get off work until five, I don't get to attend many of the games.
You need to keep your eyes OPEN to see the ball Johnathon!
.....and somehow he caught it anyway
ready to bunt
....prepping to steal a base (batter hit a pop and both Johnathon and the batter were out - Johnathon didn't have time to go back and tag up since he was to second when it was caught)
Diving to catch a ball.
Look how happy he looks here.
Also notice the runner on the right, it was a force out - all he had to do was TAG the base but instead he threw it to first just a split second too late. In his defense, this was the first time he'd ever played third base - not that the rules are different from second to third base.

Needless to say, gum was ban during ballgames after these pictures were taken.

Oh yeah that's during the middle of the game when he blowing bubbles attempting to throw out the batter at first!

If you live in the area and want to catch a game, here is the schedule for the rest of the season (all of the games are at 4pm and home games are at the VFW):

8/31 (Mon) at Unity Point

9/2 (Wed) Home v. Johnston City

9/8 (Tue) Home v. Hamilton County

9/10 (Thur) at Carterville

9/14 (Mon) at Zeigler

9/16 (Wed) Home v. Christopher

9/21 (Mon) Home v. Benton

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekend Plans

I'll be headed out the door in a few sec's to take pictures. Three sessions throughout today, great news - beautiful weather - a little hot for me but anything over 80 is hot to me. Met with a new bride last night, now I need to get a quote together for her and make sure everything is in order for the three upcoming weddings in September/October.

Johnathon and the SV Junior-High Baseball team are in a tournament today. Don't know that I'll get to make any of those games, but I'll try if they win the first game which just got underway as I start this post.

Sometime this weekend I need to get the basement put 'back together' after the air conditioner/furnace became plugged up and LEAKED, soaking the basement carpet (just on my side of the basement of course). That job could take an entire weekend since I needed to organize and clean it before the carpet became saturated and dad/I had to quickly get everything up off the floor - which by the way is a lot of stuff. You don't realize how much stuff you have crammed into such a small area until you have to quickly move it all! Lost some of the paper products I had on the floor along with at least one of my shelving units (one of those cheap pressed wood ones - they soak up a lot of water and swell!)

Well, my clients are here so I must go now.
Have a great weekend, I'm off to shoot pic's.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Last Christmas

I was organizing my photo files, making disk copies of raw files, and starting the process of working on everything I need to edit.

Right before I went on vacation I downloaded all of the pic files from my many, many camera cards into a huge file - basically I just dumped everything there to deal with later. Well it's now later - I was moving these into their appropriate file location based on what the picture is of and ran across these, someone must have taken my camera to the nursing homes for the Christmas party in 2007.

Little did we now how much the world would change after this Christmas.....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Check out Dreanna

Be sure to check out Dreanna's pictures on my photography blog!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Book Review: Sookie Stackhouse Series

I've finished reading books 1-8 of the Sookie Stackhouse - Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris. The first book was a little slow getting going as is with many books when the writer introduces the characters and the history that pertains to the upcoming plot. I must admit, upon reading the first book I was disappointed and almost didn't continue the series but since I bought the books in a set I figured I had them already and could muster enough strength to read at least one more.

I'm not disappointed in the decision to keep reading the series, things started picking up when half the book wasn't about the who and what aspect but rather the story in general. After the third book I was able to somewhat predict the general plot in the remaining books though. There were of course things that happened while reading the books that I wasn't expecting but the general flow of the book was predictable, more so in #7 and #8. So I was able to read them quickly.

I'll buy and read the 9th book, Dead and Gone, when it becomes available in softback. My interest isn't peaked enough to pay the cost of a hardcover book - I buy a lot of hard cover books if that tells you anything. Had I not read the Twilight Saga I probably would have found this series more interesting, but in comparison this series just doesn't stack up. Twilight was the first vampire series of books I'd read, I was surprised at the similarities in vampire traits between the two sets of novels.

In all I'd give this series 3.8 stars out of 5, it just wasn't 'enough' to warrant more stars. But on the up side it was a quick, easy read that was entertaining enough to get me to read 8 books in a short period of time. I would recommend reading the books, I just don't think it'll knock your socks off (you won't be calling me saying they're the best books you've ever read).