Sunday, February 27, 2011

End of Winter Ramblings

Downstairs. Next to the washing machine.

Hanging by a clothespin is one lonely little sock. And this note.

The Man makes me laugh. And his wit. I like his wit.

Man, do I love him.
The birds are coming out. Surely that has to be a good sign. Even with all the snow that keeps appearing, flurrying here and flurrying there and accumulating to inches here and inches there. 

I walked outside last week, during a brief warm spell, and just stood on the back porch and listened. Listened to whistling, and chirping, and tweeting. Very noisy bunch, these birds are.  

But I don't care. Sing away. Wake me up early. But you have to bring spring with you.
Playing around in Photoshop. Saw this stark winter scene coming home this afternoon. Sun was just going down, and the light was sweet on the roof of the barn and a few of the trees around it. 

I used the "palette knife" effect. I like it.

Have I mentioned how much I love, love, love Photoshop?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My story....part two

Oh my. This picture makes me laugh out loud. Other Sissy is the rather dramatic one, looking like she's singing an aria. I'm the disgusted one, hiding behind my hands. 

And my mom is the absolutely beautiful woman in the periwinkle dress. 

I have a very hard time looking at photos of my mom without crying. I miss her so.

She died when I was twenty five, just becoming a woman myself. But she had been sick for a long time before that. We never got to know each other as women, or as wives, or as mothers. She's been gone so long now that I don't reach for the phone to call her, or think "Oh, I have to tell Mom that." But the hole is still there. Even after all these years.

Part of me is missing. And always will be. 


Go find your mom and give her a big hug. And a kiss. And tell her you love her. 


It's important.
I don't even know where to begin with this one. That run going up my leg is atrocious. My poor mother. She could dress us up but she couldn't take us out.

Do you ever say that? "I can dress you up but I can't take you out!" We said that a lot in my family. 

But I still like this photo. It's one of my favorites. Me and my Nan. We share the same birthday. I always felt a special bond with her. That's just because she made you feel that way. I bet if you ask any of her grandchildren they'll tell you the same thing. "Oh, Nan? Yeah, we have such a special bond."

But I do.

Really.

I'm sure she made that crocheted vest I'm wearing. She is an extreme crocheter. Even now, at age...well, never mind. She won't like me broadcasting her age all over the place. Let's just say she's seasoned. But she still crochets up a storm for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and friends and neighbors.

I love this woman to pieces.
She doesn't live close. In the winters she flies south and in the summer she's about ninety minutes away. I try to see her a couple times each summer. Last summer I asked her if I could get some photos of the two of us holding hands, with our wedding bands showing.

Her bands are worn thin but still oh-so-pretty on her hand. My grampa died within months of my mom's passing so he's not here anymore either. But if he were, they would be celebrating over seventy years of marriage. 

Her rings have never come off her hand. Not even when she was having her babies. She insisted they stay on.

I love her hands. She has such strong hands. None of that frail stuff for her. 
This photo was taken at my bridal shower and it's not a good picture of any of us. But I treasure it. It makes my heart smile even while it hurts.

My mom and the Man's mom - my lovely and loved mother-in-law. Two of the women I have loved the most in my life. My mom wasn't with us too much longer after this photo was taken, just a few months. She made it to my wedding in October and died on New Year's Eve.

All I see is the pain in her eyes. And her brave smile. She was gracious and happy that day and I am so thankful that she was able to be there. Because she wasn't around for my sissies. They got married after. After she was gone. I wish she had been there.

So there's some more of my story. Small pockets of time, even the not so good times.

I want to remember it all.

~~~~~~~~~~

On a much lighter note, I was watching "From Here to Eternity" tonight while I was posting. And heard the funniest line.

Female : "Nobody's ever kissed me like that."
Male : "Nobody? Out of all the men who have kissed you?"
Female : "How many do you think there have been?"
Male : "I don't know. Can you give me a rough estimate?"
Female : "Not without an adding machine."

~~~~~~~~~~

And because I really want you to leave this blog feeling happy, I'm posting a video of a great remake of Herman's Hermits "I'm Into Something Good". 

I heard this version while I was meandering around a gift shop up North this past fall. And finally remembered to buy it on iTunes.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

My story

I was cleaning out a closet in a bedroom this past weekend and came across a couple boxes of old family photos. The kids had taken them out one night over the holidays to show P, J's girlfriend, and they must have gotten shoved into a closet upstairs, instead of put away in the proper box.

When I found them, I was in the midst of cleaning for some guests that were coming to stay for a few days. I didn't really have time to look at them. But the photos were all askew and I thought I should straighten them out before packing them away. 

That's all it took.

Once I started looking at those old photos, I couldn't stop. Memories came rushing in, tumbling over one another like waves on the shore. Things I had forgotten. Things I vaguely remembered. And things that are imprinted on my memory, never to be forgotten.
I started taking photos when I was a little girl. I had a Kodak Instamatic that used 126 film cartridges and flash cubes. Remember those? I never had enough film or flash cubes. I was always trying to convince my parents to buy more  but that didn't work. And developing all that film I was shooting? Didn't happen so often. I bet there are lots of film cartridges in my father's attic, never developed and shoved into a bag.

When I graduated from grade school, what did I ask for? A Kodak Handle camera. It was Kodak's version of an instant camera. I loved.loved.loved that camera. It was big and bulky, but I didn't care. I marched around with that thing like I was Ansel Adams. Fast forward a couple years and I went to the Kodak Tele-Ektra 110 camera, which I used through the rest of high school.

By the time I left high school, I was ready for my first SLR. 


I've been a Nikon girl from way back. But not too far back. I'm not that old. 

Finally, finally, I found what I had been looking for.

A way to tell my story.
I'm not a studio photographer. Looking for someone to take your picture in a studio? Go find someone else. There's no life in that. No story. I see pictures of families posed and smiling prettily for the camera and they tell me nothing about those people. Are they fun? Or stoic? Can you joke with them? Or is life very serious business for them?

Lately, as photography has become an even larger part of my life, I've been searching myself for just what it is about taking photographs that brings me such satisfaction and fulfillment. I posted a few months ago that I was hoping to start writing. I have these stories in me, and characters, and pictures of places and scenes and I want to get them out, and make them come alive. But for some reason, they're stuck. I can't get them out through words. So finally it came to me. That's what I love about photography. That's what satisfies me when I nail a shot.

It's the stories.

I can finally tell my story. Just not with words.

~~~~~~~~~~

I found so many photos I want to share but decided to post just a few at a time. And who better to start with then my kids.

J and the Man have been hanging out together, fishing, for a long time. The Man has always liked to fish and J would tag along, more to spend time with his dad than any great love of fishing. At least it seemed that way to me, in the beginning. He was content to just sit near his dad and watch him fish. But as J got older, he got more into the fishing part and buying gear, and now they fish together. Or drown worms. However you want to look at that. But part of him is still that little boy, sitting in a chair behind his dad, watching his hero spend time doing something he loves.

And pictures of K with all those curls kill me. She had the sweetest little smile. Still does. I look at these photos and I can see the innocent little girl she was, marveling at her mom standing on a chair looking down at her. Or standing on top of a cliff by the side of the sea, tilting into the wind, curls flying behind her, giggling as the wind takes her breath away.

~~~~~~~~~~

My stories. These are my stories. And I'm so glad I have them.

I Didn't Even Think I Had a Problem....

Meet S. She's another knitting friend.

My knitting friends are out-of-control. I blogged last week about T and now they all want to be the star of the show. Honest to Pete, I have never, N-E-V-E-R, met such a bunch of divas in all my life.

We went to see the musical "Menopause" a couple summers ago. At the end of the show, the cast calls out to audience members to come up on stage if they've "changed" after seeing the show. Yeah, I didn't really get it, either. All I know is one minute I'm sitting quietly in my seat, chuckling away, and the next minute I'm being pushed to get up and get on stage.

What?

I don't want to go up there. I HATE doing stuff like that.

But I'm with this bunch of nutty women that think it's fun to do stuff like that.  So I get up, pretend to smile happily, and go up on stage.

While I'm up there, I start looking around. And decide I might as well be center stage.

S and I exchange a look, maneuver our way to center stage and we are feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.

Until we get upstaged by the Queen.

She comes strutting out onto the stage, like she's on the catwalk during fashion week, and stands right. in. front. of. us.

That's a diva maneuver if ever I saw one.
We discovered S is an unknitter like T. 

Between S, T, and PKB (what a bunch of alphabet soup) I'm not so sure we can call ourselves a knitting group anymore.

We're more like a maybe-someday-we-can-call-ourselves-knitters knitting group. Since so many of us knit in the wrong direction, that is.

Like tonight. 

See that pile of  blue, yellow, and gray yarn under the purple felted ball head? That was a sweater that S had started. And ripped out. Two sides done and she rips it out.

Aaaaargh. You're going in the wrong direction, S.

Three skeins of yarn worth of ripping out. And she wasn't done.

She was working on a red sweater with lots of brambling. Don't know what that is? Me neither. But it looks hard and I'm not ever going to do it. 

So she gets stuck at one point and cries out for P, our teacher. P takes it, looks at it, and starts ripping out LOTS of rows. S sees all this yarn flying off the needle and says, "How many rows are you ripping out?" To which P answers, "Fourteen."

"Fourteen?" S cries. "I didn't even think I had a problem!" 

Much laughter. Spewed scone crumbs. And T smiling away, looking at S, the newest addition to the unknitter's group.
While P was ripping out the red sweater, S created our new mascot. It's kind of a cross between the robot from "Lost in Space" and....I don't know what she was thinking with this thing.

But I'm thinking she should focus more on her knitting and less on doll creation. If you see what I mean.
I'm hopeful that we won't have too many more winter days ahead of us. I couldn't resist a few more shots from around town.

I'm loving the white, white, white of the buildings against that blue, blue, sky. Clean, crisp, pristine. 

For a cow farm.
And these pretty little red berries, some of them locked away in prisons of ice, added just the splash of color I was looking for.

Fear not, little berries. You'll soon be free.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Game Night


Killed by Coyotes.

UFOs Over Phoenix.

Jewelry Fashion & Style.

These are the choices I'm looking at right now for television. I do not want to flip through the channels one more time, hoping that something will turn up this time around. Because they don't. And every time I circuit through the channel line up, my standards get lower and lower and the next thing I know I'm watching "Animal Hoarders" and getting up to find a snack so I can settle in and not miss anything.

Unbelievable how low that bar can go. Can you limbo?

I rarely get control of the remote in our house. The Man takes charge most nights. Until he gets tired of flipping through the channels and then he tosses it to me and says, "Here, you find something." Like changing the channel flipper will result in better shows appearing in the line up.

So I go through the line up and then toss the remote back to him, like a hot potato. 

And yes, we do Netflix. But we seem to have some conflict about whose movies should be first in the queue. So we end up with one of us getting to see all four episodes of "The History of America's National Parks" while the other one fumes and mutters, waiting for "Bride Wars" to turn up. 

It's a constant tug-of-war between us, scrabbling to get our movies at the top of the queue before the other one realizes it.

The games we play. It's been a long winter.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unknitting

Meet T. 

T is one of the funniest friends I have. She makes me laugh so hard my cheeks hurt. She's quick and witty, clever and charming. Really, she's got it all.

She's a fellow Knitwit. We knit together every week. Sometimes we miss a week, or two, and then we see each other and we're back to laughing.

She has teens about the same age as my kids, which means we have a lot in common. We trade war stories about screaming matches, and sleepless nights, and nights spent waiting up for someone to come home. We  laugh about how much we hate cleaning...so we do it quickly to get it over with, kind of like ripping a bandage off. And about how little time we have to do the things we like to do, instead of the things we have to do. We laugh about things people say to us, and things they do to us, and things remembered.

But always, there's the knitting that binds us together. 

Not.

One thing T and I don't have in common.....our knitting routine. 

I knit and knit and stuff starts coming out the bottom of the needle, either a scarf or a sweater or a pair of mittens. Whatever it is that I'm knitting. I'm not the only one that knits this way. Other people in the group do it like this too. Except for PKB. Sometimes she knits like T.

T knits and knits....and....nothing comes out the bottom. 

Because she un-knits.

She's been working on this afghan since before Christmas. Can you see how much she's done? 

Neither can I.

That's because every row she knits, she un-knits the next time she picks it up.  She held up her knitting tonight and said, "Isn't it supposed to get thicker and not thinner?" That led to the quizzical look you see on her face above. And to much laughter around the table.

How do you un-knit?

I DON'T KNOW.

But she does it. She's created a new craft...unknitting.  

I knew she'd be famous someday.

~~~~~~~~~~

I have full permission to use T as my blog post tonight. She was very happy to make a guest appearance.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Random Thoughts

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."  ~ Dr. Seuss

I've just been re-introduced to Dr. Seuss after an absence of many years. By a three year old patron, of all people. 

This little guy is one of my favorite visitors to the library. He's precocious, and  adorable, and loves to chat with the library staff. He comes around the back of the desk to see what we're doing and I think he's going to take my job one day soon.

He saw "The Cat in the Hat" on a book cart last week and got very excited. So excited that it made me want to re-visit Dr. Seuss. So I did.

And found lots of good stuff. And random stuff. Very random stuff.
"If things start happening, don't worry, don't stew, just go right along and you'll start happening too." ~ Dr. Seuss

Change. I know people who do not like change, not one little bit. This might be for them, I think.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~ Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

I think about my nephew who went to work in Ethiopia for a year. He taught in one of the schools there and I know he touched the lives of every child he worked with. Selfless and caring, that's my nephew.

You can keep your celebrities and sports heroes and rock stars. My nephew is a hero in my book.
"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is Youer than You." ~ Dr. Seuss


Be yourself. You're the best you there is.
"I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone." ~ Dr. Seuss

Anyone who has been a parent knows how fast the time goes by. I talk to my dad and he says, "Boy, the years keep going faster and faster." And they do.

If you have wee little babes at home, pick them up and snuggle them and cuddle them and kiss them all over. Because the days go by too fast. And if your children aren't quite so little anymore, hug them and tell them you love them. Even if they grimace and roll their eyes. Because the days go by too fast.

And things change.

~~~~~~~~~~

You got to see a bit of yesterday from these pictures. We took a drive north to go visit P, away at college. J was missing her and wanting to see her so off we went. He tried to make it a surprise visit but he has a poker face and can't keep a secret. She had it out of him very easily.

She's a smart one, she is.

We pass that yellow barn several times a week since it's just up the road from us. I snapped that photo as were were driving by, on our way north.

And then I got a little bit obsessed with the little white church with the green shutters. It looks so cozy and so very small town. I love it. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Last random thing of the day is for Valentine's Day. I found this very cute graphic over at "kiss the groom" and tried it out on the Man. He loved my kissing tree.

Click on the tree and you can go make your very own customized kissing tree. I see LOTS of possibilities for this graphic, like engagement cards or wedding cards. Hmmm.....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ice Fishing Ain't For Sissies

Ice fishing.

I don't really like fishing. Kind of boring. But ice fishing is different. I don't really have to do any fishing. I can just play on the ice, take pictures, and eat treats. Now this is what I call fishing.

Here we are heading to the cabin. We look so innocent. 

We didn't know we were two minutes away from sinking into some pretty.deep.snow.

Uh-oh. 

It took a while to set up all the fishing tilts. So they got to play in the snow. And get their bottoms wet while I took pictures.

Good sports, these girls are. 

Geesh, I sound like Yoda.
Not a good moment. 

E had decided to check all the holes and make sure the minnows were still alive. That part went okay. Minnow was alive and kicking.

But then we ran into some trouble. E was doing something to the fishing line, I don't know what since I was busy taking pictures, and then I heard, "Oh, no, the hook went down the hole, Auntie!"

What? What do you mean, the hook went down the hole? Isn't it attached to the line that's attached to the fishing rod in your hand? The fishing rod that now has NO line attached to it?

That look on her face was the moment the hook went down the hole. And the next moment after that, she stuck her hand in the hole, glove and all, to retrieve her hook. I stopped her before she got up to her wrist. I had visions of her sliding in up to her shoulder. Thank heaven the holes aren't big enough for them to get swallowed up in. That girl was going to get her hook one way or another. 
After that, we had to head back to the cabin to warm our hands, and dry our mittens, and get someone to fix the fishing rod.

Because we're girls and we don't know how to do that.

Nor do we want to. 

J let me take a few pictures of him.  And he even smiled for one or two.
We were finding mittens all over the place.

You can't have too many on ice fishing day.

Things happen. 
Oh, look, more gloves hung to dry.

What a surprise. 
A really fun day. Until we left.

Remember that pretty.deep.snow. we had to get through to get to the lake and cabin?

Guess what we had to climb UP to get to the road? Yup, that really deep snow.

My first step in, my foot got stuck. I tried to lift it out and my foot came right out of my boot. I was in snow up above my knee, with one boot on and one stuck in the snowbank.

I got the boot unstuck, stuck my foot back in it, and took another step. 

Landed on my face, hands in snow up to my shoulders. Now I'm getting a bit irritated. I throw my camera case up to K and tell her to hang on to it until I get up to the road. She gets thrown off balance and starts to tumble backwards, down the snowbank hill. I take my one free hand and give her a good push on her tush to help her get her balance and push her forward. 

She lurches up the hill, barely keeping her face out of the snow, all the while protecting the camera. 

Good girl.

Because her mother CAN'T STAND UP. Every step I take, I sink in snow up to the top of my thigh.

I try to push myself up, and my hands sink in up to my shoulders. 

Ack.

I think I'm stuck. And sissy and K are laughing at me.

Somehow, and I don't know how, I managed to get a firm footing on a solid piece of white stuff and started crawling up the snowbank. I exited the top of the bank on my hands and knees and nearly tumbled onto the road. Sissy was bent over, laughing way too hard.

I hope her pants split.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine Eye Candy

(photo courtesy of yougogirl.typepad.com)

Know how to crochet? Here's a sweet pillowcase to try. 
(photo courtesy of thecraftingchicks.com)

I've been seeing these flower pillows EVERYWHERE. Here's a great tutorial on how to make one.

(photo courtesy of brassyapple.blogspot.com)

Any leftover scrapbook paper? What a cute way to use it up.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stinkin' Cute Punks

Playing with more actions from the Florabella Luxe II set. Can you tell I'm working on portrait photography? I've had several people ask me to do portraits for them, or their high school seniors, in the past few weeks so I've been practicing with K and some different poses and backgrounds.

K was very accommodating and let me shoot to my heart's content a few days ago. I talk nonsense to her when I'm shooting. I'll say just about anything to get a reaction out of her. Unless I'm trying to get her to sit pretty. Then I try not to make her laugh.

Or look disgusted.
I love that photo on the bottom right in the blog board above. She can furrow her brow better than anyone I know and she does the raise-one-eyebrow-higher-than-the-other look rather well. Just like the Man.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I got that look when I asked her if she'd consider plastic surgery to get her eyes to stay open when she smiled, and not get all crinkled up and close so you can't see her eyes. Of course I was kidding, but she didn't know that. And the look of horror on her face was p-r-i-c-e-l-e-s-s.
I never get tired of shooting pics of her. She's still my little punk. Even if she is almost all grown up.
Talk about cute little punks, here's my niece D. 

I love, love, love her bright blue eyes. She is too stinkin' cute.
The Man and I had to drive into the Big City today. When we got to our destination, we had to climb up, up, up the parking garage to find a parking spot. I felt like Jack climbing the beanstalk. 

Only there was no gold at the top.

We were following a pickup truck who kept trying one spot after another. He would start to pull in, realize his truck was too big, then have to back up and do a three point turn to get back in the lane to keep on looking. He did this several times. It was like watching the ladies in the kingdom try on Cinderella's glass slipper, cramming their foot into it trying to make it fit them.

Nope. Doesn't fit. Too small, Mr. Pickup Truck Man.

We kept going around and around and finally found a spot way up in the clouds, at the tippy top of the parking garage. 

What a view up there.

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." ~ Albert Einstein

The Case of the Laundry Line, or The Joads revisited

Not my best shot. I was baffled when I took it.

My laundry line is gone.

GONE. 

G-O-N-E.

GONE.

Ack. 

Where's my little icicle buddies?
Of course it only took me a moment to track down the culprit. I was all over this like Nancy Drew looking for the Hidden Staircase.


I found the guilty party in the kitchen, sitting at the table all innocent-like, drinking a morning cup of coffee.


"Where's the laundry line?"


A befuddled look appears, quizzical eyebrow raised, and he says, "What?"


"WHERE IS THE LAUNDRY LINE?"


"I took it down." He looks back down at the paper and picks up his coffee mug. Silly man, he thinks he's answered the question adequately.


"Why?" says I.


"It was in my way. You know, when I was clearing off the roof." Oh, the roof. That has been a source of much discussion in our household and now it's the cause of the missing laundry line.


"Well you can put it back, please. I take pictures of that laundry line. AND WHERE ARE THE ICICLES?"


The Man thinks I'm deranged.


I want my icicles back.
I  satisfied myself with taking a picture of all the little ice balls on the evergreen tree by the back porch.


It's not the same.


I want my icicles back.
I bought a set of beautiful actions last week over at Florabella. She released the Luxe II set and was offering it at a discounted price for the first few days.

I love these actions.

I love how they make these pictures look very dustbowl-ish, like I'm in the middle of Oklahoma during a dust storm, or a blizzard.

I'm thinking Grapes of Wrath here, folks. Poverty. Depression. Hard times.

But amidst all that was perseverance, and survival, and scrappy people.
The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it. ~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

It ain't that big. The whole United States ain't that big. It ain't that big. It ain't big enough. There ain't room enough for you an' me, for your kind an' my kind, for rich and poor together all in one country, for thieves and honest men. For hunger and fat. ~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Pertinent words in 1939. 

And 2011.