Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Eyes Have It

 
I want to know what they're thinking. 

I'm loving these eyes. And the stories I see swimming in them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Maddening

I'm obsessed with eyes right now.

Unfortunately these are the only ones I've seen for the past two hours. 

Er, wait. That didn't come out right.

I've been cleaning out files of photographs I've shot since before Christmas. Ugh. I've worked on it for over two hours and I'm

Still.

Not.

Done.

Apparently, I take a lot of pictures.

And most of them this winter showed all the snow we got, and the barns and cow farms surrounding me. I mean hundreds of these pictures. No, probably a thousand pictures. I kept shooting the same scenes on different days. I didn't realize how many pictures I took of those same scenes. 

Apparently, I take a lot of pictures of farms.

So when I came upon a group of photographs of K that I had taken right after the holidays, I just had to play with them a little bit. And tweak them. And make them all pretty. This is one of them.

I love her eyes. 

And I've got to stop taking pictures of farms. Sheer madness, the number of farm pictures I'm looking at. Ugh.

What are you obsessing over while shooting?

Random pieces of the day

More altering tonight. Or as M's son calls it, "destroying books".


We prefer "altering", as in making something different. Definitely not destroying.


This was the page I was struggling with the last time I posted about this project. I wasn't sure where it was headed and thought it was looking a wee bit like a cross between French country and Las Vegas. Now I'm thinking it has a Persian feel to it. So I'm going with birds.


Free birds and caged birds.


I had a conversation with a friend during the week and we were talking about how it happens that your friends or family can see you in one way, and not in any other way, even though you may not be that person anymore. It's hard for people who are the closest to us to see us any differently than how they've ever seen us.


But we change over the years, don't we? As life hands us a new experience, it has to affect us some way. Why wouldn't we change from all those things? So why do the people closest to us not recognize this?


Or maybe they do and just choose to ignore it. Because sometimes change is scary.


So with these thoughts running through my mind, I'm thinking about how I sometimes feel free and sometimes feel caged in by the boundaries people have set for me. And that made me think of birds.


There's my thought process in a nutshell. I'm going with it and we'll have to wait and see how it all turns out on the "destroyed" page.
Lots of sun flare from the bright sunshiney sun today. 

Happy light.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mawwiage, or True Love Lasts


Meet some close friends of mine, R and J. They celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary a couple of weeks ago and asked me to take some pictures for them. 

I met R way back in kindergarten, a long time ago. We've been friends for over forty years. We've wandered in and out of each other's lives, but now we live in the same town and see each other fairly regularly.

I was so happy when R asked me to do this. Her family is large, boisterous, Italian, and all over the place at an event like this. But R and J remained calm in the eye of the storm, with eyes only for each other, and you could feel the love oozing out from them.
This is kind of an odd picture but I love it. He's supporting her. She's leaning on him.

I can picture them at eighty, holding each other up. 

They have been joined together for twenty five years and have definitely become "one". They finish each other's thoughts, and they finish each other's movements. When one starts to do something, the other jumps in and finishes it. Before one of them can even ask for something, the other is there, holding it out for them.

They complete each other.
I had them try some different combinations to get a few head shots. 

They got to laughing. And got very cute together.

Their three boys were rolling their eyes, and smirking, and enjoying every minute of watching their parents loving on each other.
"Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day." ~ Gene Perret

"It's easy to understand love at first sight, but how do we explain love after two people have been looking at each other for years?"  ~Author Unknown
Mark Twain once said, "No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century."

As the Man and I approach that anniversary, I'm beginning to agree with Mr. Twain. 

And watching J and R together confirms it. 

The lingering touches. The small kisses for no special reason. The looks that pass between each other, speaking multitudes without saying anything at all.

The marriage has rooted and it feels richer, and deeper. And different from our early years. 

I wish more people made it this far.

~~~~~~~~~~

I cleaned up the shells that I brought back from the sunny south and found a display jar in the basement to use.

I decided to put it on a shelf in the bathroom, next to a jar of sand dollars that I have from a trip to the west coast.
I love my found treasure.

~~~~~~~~~~

My 300th post. Wow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blue Moon and Key Largo, or how to escape from the wintry weather

I see the moon,
The moon sees me
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.

I started singing "Blue Moon" as I was editing this photo. A classic and one of my favorites.

Obviously I have classics on the brain because this photo made me think of Humphrey Bogart in "Key Largo". If you've never seen this movie, it's a good one.

Go watch it. And here's a little clip to whet your appetite.

One of these things just does not belong

"One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

Thank you, Sesame Street, for providing me with the perfect words for today's blog posting.

Snow. Today. When we're almost into April. It does not belong here anymore.

Move along, time to go North for the summer. Way far up North. Like North Pole, North.

~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday was a long travel day and I was oh-so-very happy to plop into bed as soon as I got home in the wee dark hours of the night.

The Man barely grunted out a hi, honey, glad you're home because it was so late. Poor M had to work today. I don't know how she woke up this morning.

I heard J and K leaving for the day and tried to get up to say hi to them but nope, not happening. I was glued to that bed.

I remember during my college days when I used to stay up studying until three or four in the morning and get up at five-thirty to go to work for six a.m. How on earth did I manage that?

~~~~~~~~~~

On a completely random note, M and I had a great meal at the Miami airport yesterday on our way home. We ate at La Carreta, a Cuban restaurant that had the most delicious food choices I've ever seen at an airport.

We shared a meal of some sort of beef stew and steamed potatoes, dirty rice, and candied plantains. And fried plantains with some sort of cilantro sauce on the side. We wanted to try plantains fixed in different ways. Because we didn't have enough to eat on vacation.

While we were waiting in line, M and I spied some key lime pie in the case and looked it over. We quickly decided not to have any more. Enough was enough. But while we were chatting about the key lime pie, a woman flight crew employee was standing behind us and overheard our conversation. She started telling us how good the key lime pie was. And the meat dishes. And the plantains. And just about everything on their menu. She always ate there whenever she was in Miami. 

So we followed her lead, ordered a couple of her suggestions, and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. As we were eating, we noticed an extraordinary number of flight crew employees eating there. We decided that was a good sign. And from now on, we would look to see where the employees ate. Because they're in the know about these things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just Another Day in Paradise

Getting up for the sunrise was hard. Very hard. Especially the second day. Really, is it going to look any different? Do I have to get up so early? Why doesn't the sun rise at ten o'clock? Honest to Pete, I can whine about anything.

But the prospect of finding even bigger and more perfect shells was too hard to resist. 

Isn't that human nature? There's always something bigger and better to look for. 

So I dragged myself out of bed, grabbed my camera, and we left for the beach. 

Oh, and I got dressed sometime before the first and second step. Or this would have been an entirely different blog post. 
And the photos, of course. Can't miss a good photo opportunity, right?

The shells on this beach practically throw themselves at you, trying to be one of the select few chosen to go home. Honestly. I have never seen so many shells on a beach in my entire life.

Some parts of the beach were covered in shells, so many that you couldn't see the sand underneath.

So M and I have some issues right now. I'm posting this after I've finished packing to head home, and I forgot about all the shells. Until B said to me, you got room for all those shells?

Um, er, no.

Gulp. I have to go re-pack.

Because those shells are going home with me. I've got plans for those shells. 
Yummy, juicy breakfast. 

I think every morning should start out like this, don't you? 
A little retail therapy in the afternoon.

Uh-oh. More to pack.

This is not good.  The Man is not going to be happy if I have to buy a bigger bag to bring home the souvenirs. I had to do that once when we were on vacation.

But in my defense, we were traveling overseas for two weeks and we collected a few more souvenirs than we thought. So I had to buy a duffle bag on the cruise ship to pack it all in. It all worked out fine. Except for the look I got from the Man when I told him I had to go buy a bag to bring home our souvenirs.

Let's just say I was glad I wasn't near the edge of the boat when I told him.
I like this picture. It reminds me of Gilligan's Island. 

You know the old television show where the stranded castaways lived in grass huts? I loved that show when I was a kid. And I wanted to get stranded on an island and eat coconut cream pie.

Now, not so much with the getting stranded on an island.

But I still want to eat coconut cream pie.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

On the Sunny Side of the Street

M and I are soaking up some sunshine this week, visiting our close friend, B. We made like birds and flew south. And you know what I discovered? Birds are pretty.darn.smart.

It's amazing what sunshine does for my disposition. 

And how much it makes me smile.
B and I were waiting for M to take a dip in the pool at the resort. So we meandered around the pool area, me snapping shots and B doing some people watching. 

We waited. And waited. And waited some more. No M. 

Where's M? Ack! She's gone! Oh no, how do I tell the Hammer that I've lost his wife in paradise?

Finally it came to us. M must have snuck past us. 

There she was, back at the lounge chairs on the beach, happily ensconced with a book in hand and the sun shining down.

I was so happy to find her, and not have to face the Hammer, that I didn't even yell at her for going off and leaving us behind. Of course, she didn't know we were waiting for her so that would have been horrible. If I yelled at her. For something she didn't do.

Whew. Glad I restrained myself.
B talked us into going for a morning walk to see the sunrise.

Ugh.

I hate getting up. Especially at o'dark thirty in the morning. 

However, if I wanted sunrise photos I was going to have to do it. I gritted my teeth, set the alarm, and then woke up fifty-seven times because I was afraid I was going to oversleep and M and B would be waiting for me, tapping their feet, while I ran around getting dressed.

No way was that happening.

So the fifty-eighth time I woke up, it was time to get up and hit the beach.

We found a starfish.

Hello, Mr. Starfish, you look sleepy too. 
While I'm having a wonderful time, I miss the Man. And J. And K. And Mom. And my dog.

But I don't miss the cold weather and the little snow mounds that were hanging around.

So I think I'll stay in paradise a little bit longer.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are cropping up here and there. 

Some tips of the early flowering plants are peeking through the ground, the birds are a bit more vocal and the light is hanging around a little bit longer at the end of the day.

I've been able to go out with just a heavy sweater on and I don't have to wear my boots all the time anymore. 

I love spring.
Had sissy and the girls over this weekend for our annual St. Patrick's day celebration of corned beef and cabbage.

Okay, we were a few days early. We never seem to be able to celebrate St. Patrick's day on the actual day with our busy schedules. But is there ever a bad day for corned beef and cabbage? Nope.

It's all good, as my teens say.

One of my favorite foods on this holiday is Irish soda bread. I've never tried to make it. But this year I thought I might. So I started looking at recipes and came across one for Irish soda bread muffins.

Oh me, oh my. 

Ooh, la, la.

We have a winner.

Moist and just a touch sweet, with the delicious flavor of caraway seeds blended with raisins, these muffins make for some tasty little morsels.

Everyone liked them, even the Man. Although there's really only one thing he doesn't like on St. Patrick's day.

The cabbage. 

He complains when I cook it, saying it makes the house smell horrible. He wants me to cook it in a separate pot so it doesn't contaminate the rest of the meal. And he makes me put it in a separate bowl when I serve it. But the funny thing is, he always takes a piece, tries a bite of it and deems it inedible. 

Until this year. 

This year, I wouldn't let him try it. Which made him want it even more. But I didn't want him to waste any of it. He got all indignant, forcing me to let him take a piece of cabbage. And then licking his lips, like he loved it.

Ha.

I know better.

So for the past two nights of leftovers, I've limited him to one piece of cabbage.

He's not fooling me.
On a totally random note, the Man loves planning his garden. And planning. And planning.

Now he's buying seeds and getting ready to start them indoors.

This is a fantastic sign of spring.

He even wants to get the rototiller out for the garden. I told him no.

Not until all the snow is gone.
Just got these fake Japanese cherry blossom stems from Pottery Barn.

Love them. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dressy Shopping

The only thing I like about shopping for prom dresses is the pictures. And the colors.

I like the colors a lot.
There are too many choices.

The guys have it easy. Black or white. Hmmm....do I wear a cummerbund to match her dress or a black/white one? Does my handkerchief match her dress or do I wear a black/white one? These are not hard choices. As a matter of fact, I think they call their gal and say, "Do I wear a cummerbund or not? What color? What color handkerchief?" 

The gal does most of the work. The guy does most of the "Uh-huh, whatever you say."

I know this from watching J attend a couple proms.

But the girls? 

Way too many choices. 

Solid color or print? Which color? Strapless? Halter? Sleeves? Length? Poufy or sleek? Beaded? All of these things have to be decided on.

Stop the madness.

Let me get off this merry-go-round.

And after eyeing many dresses, followed with can-you-zip-me-up.....now-get-me-out-of-this several times.....

Houston, we have a dress. Whew.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cookie Land

Not much going on.

Eating Girl Scout cookies.

Running away from Girl Scout cookies.

Hearing them call me. Creeping back into the kitchen, peeking around the corner to see if they're still there.

Eating more Girl Scout cookies.

It's ugly around here with all the empty boxes and discarded wrappers. And the crumbs. The crumbs are not pretty at all.

Erg phmfm.................that should be ugh, but my mouth's full.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Five Minute Photo Shoot

Five minutes.

That's what he gave me today.

He sat at the dining room table and let me shoot for just five minutes. It's hard to get him to keep still. He's constantly moving, laughing, chasing the dog, looking for food, and anything else that comes to mind. So he doesn't usually model for me.

You can tell by the photo on the left, above.

I think I'll call it "Tolerant Patience".

And the one on the right?
(photo from lettersfromstan.com)
I think he looks like Dick Van Dyke.
It's a challenge to get a good picture of him. He can be such a funny guy and loves to goof around.

Especially when my camera comes out.

Portrait, schmortrait.

Let's practice shooting with high speed and fast lenses.
It's his personality that comes out during these moments.

And in case you can't tell, J is a whole lotta fun.
When he's not irritated with me.

~~~~~~~~~~

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
~Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Speaking through silence

M and I altered our books some more tonight. I added some pretty gold dry brush strokes over a page I had painted deep red with a golden border last week. Not sure where that page is going right now. It's a cross between French country kitchen and Las Vegas. 

If you can picture that.

Right now it's having an identity crisis. I'm hoping a thought will magically appear about what I'm supposed to be doing with this page. I kept looking at it but, nope, nothing. Except maybe a rooster. 

You know, because of the French kitchen thing. But I'm NOT putting roosters in my book.

So I was a little bit unsure what I was going to work on tonight and started messing around with color, and more color and before I knew it, I had a page full of....of....of....

I don't know.
This stuff just started appearing on the page. Lines of color flew off the brush, covering each other, hiding each other, globbing into shapeless forms. It's ugly, it's raw and biting, and I can't stop looking at it. 

M and I had been talking about random stuff and I was telling her how I felt like I couldn't speak to someone about something. Something that really needs to be spoken about. Something that I don't want to speak about.

Well, that's as clear as mud, isn't it?

But that's not the point of this. The point is that I feel like I can't speak right now. And I don't like it. So I guess I was just working this out somehow in my book tonight. 
It's making me think. About women who have no voice in countries where women have no rights. About groups of people in our society who lose their voice, like the elderly or the mentally challenged, simply because no one wants to listen to what they have to say. About people who are afraid to speak their mind anymore, in fear of being labeled anti-this or anti-that.

There's all kinds of silence and not all of it is forced upon us. Much is self-imposed. I saw a bumper sticker once that said "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."  Maggie Kuhn, a social activist who fought for human rights, gets the credit for these magnificent words. 

"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." 

~~~~~~~~~~

But as M pointed out to me, sometimes silence is okay.

Like the silence of a husband and wife, rocking on a porch, holding hands and saying nothing, yet speaking loudly to each other. Or a mother nourishing a child in the deep dark of night, snuggled together, listening to the sounds of the house. Or two friends sitting together, creating and dreaming, splashing color and weaving stories throughout their books.

Yup, silence is golden.

~~~~~~~~~~


I'll leave you with the haunting song, "The Sound of Silence", by Simon and Garfunkel.



Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Should (Cell) My Phone

Found this when I went out into the kitchen this morning upon waking. Hard to fuss at J about making a mess on the top of the peanut butter fudge candy when it says something sweet like, "Hi Mom".

I'm glad he's still talking to me. After Wednesday night's fiasco, I'm kind of surprised he even acknowledges me as his mother.

J plays guitar for the worship team at our church. They practice one evening a week, usually until 9-9:30 or so. So when it got to be 10:20 and he still wasn't home, I thought I should give a call and make sure the car wasn't broke down on the side of the road or something. 

I called J on his cell phone and when he answered, I asked, "Where are you?". He seemed puzzled and said, "Hello?"

We don't get great reception where we live so I said, "Hi J, it's Mom. Can you hear me?"

"Hi," he answered.

"Are you on your way home?" I asked.

"Who is this?" he asked.

I said a little more loudly now, "It's me. MOM. Are you finished with practice?"

He said, "Hello? Hello?"

Okay, he's playing with me. Probably surrounded by his friends, laughing at me, and enjoying messing with his mother. So I cop quite a little attitude and yell, "J, knock it off. WHERE ARE YOU?????"

I looked out the window and saw his car pull in the drive and said, "Oh, you're home." And then I hung up.

J walked in, smiling and whistling, said "Hey," and started to head upstairs. "Where's your phone?" I asked. Because now I'm starting to wonder what just happened. He pulled it out of his pocket and gave me a funny look. I said, "Why didn't you just tell me you were almost home?"

He said, "When?" Uh-oh. I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this.

I said, "When I was talking with you."

"You didn't call me."

"I most certainly did." He picked up my phone, checked my recent calls and said, "My number is ABBC, Mom. You called AABC."

Oh no. Oh my.

I yelled at some stranger.

Someone who was minding his own business when a crazy woman called him to interrogate him as to his whereabouts. And then told him she was his mother.

Aye yi yi....I shouldn't be allowed to have a cell phone. I randomly send text messages to my friends when I'm trying to hit "clear". I once called 911 just by pressing my handbag up against the door while trying to retrieve my keys. The police came to our house that time. And now, I'm using it to terrify strangers, albeit innocently.

Life was much simpler before cell phones.

At lunch today I was reading quietly and tossed my banana peel onto the table when I finished with it. Look how it landed.


A heart.


I love you, too, Mr. Banana. You're my favorite fruit. After grapefruit. I guess that makes you my second favorite fruit. But you're right up there.


It's late. I'm talking about bananas. Time to get to bed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anthro Inspired Christmas stockings

Sissy and I love, love, love shopping at Anthropologie. Er, I should say window shopping at Anthropologie because we rarely walk out of there with anything.

Except their Volcano candle. I heart that scent. It's just about the only candle scent I will burn. Go to Anthropologie and take a big breath. You'll see what I mean. So occasionally I walk out with a Volcano candle. And maybe a pillow or a comforter. But only if they're on sale and pretty.

But I digress. 

This past Christmas season found us once again wandering around that store, oohing and aahing over their holiday decorations and ornaments. One of the things I contemplated buying were some handknit Christmas stockings. But at $50, they were a wee bit out of the range I was willing to spend. Especially when I knew I could make them.

My knitting instructor had a pattern for a basic Christmas stocking that I started with and changed around to get just what I wanted. In the photo, K got the blue/green stocking and J requested the camouflage stocking. I made the Man's in black and red, at his request, but I also added a few green stripes, as well. Sorry, his wasn't finished when I took this photo. And I haven't made mine yet, but I will.

It's going to be huge.

Knitted Christmas Stockings, inspired by Anthropologie
Cast on 51 stitches and divide evenly on 3 double pointed needles, 17 stitches each needle. I used size 10 needles but if you want smaller stockings, you could drop to 8 or 9.
Using main accent color (for the top of stocking, heel, and toe):
Row 1: K1 round.
Row 2: P1 round
Row 3: K1 round.
Row 4: P1 round.
Knit or purl remaining rounds, changing colors and stitches as you wish. Some yarn I chose to knit the entire stripe; some I chose to knit 5-6 rows, purl a couple rows, knit a couple rows; some I chose to purl entirely. I even threw in a ribbed section but that pulled the stocking in too much. 
(Don’t get hung up on following a precise design. That’s why I love doing these stockings. The stripes aren’t even, the stitches aren’t symmetrical or uniform, and they look perfectly handmade.)
Knit until stocking is the length you desire. Mine vary between 15-18”. It really depends on how much you want to stuff into these stockings!
Heel flap:
Knit stitches on needle 1 and needle 2. (I place a stitch marker in the middle of needle 1 so I can remember which needle is which number. That’s just me.)
Knit 5 stitches from needle 3 and place on a stitch holder. DO NOT BREAK YARN! You’ll need this to do the instep.
Change to your main accent color (the color you used at the top of the stocking) and knit remaining 12 stitches from needle 3.
Knit 12 stitches from needle 1 onto needle 3 and place remaining 5 stitches on a stitch holder. 
Turn and P24. These form the heel flap.
Work heel flap as follows:
Row 1: Sl 1 purlwise, K23.
Row 2: Sl 1 purlwise, P23.
Repeat these rows eight more times for a total of 20 rows (10 stitches on each edge of heel flap).
Turn heel:
Row 1: K14, SSK, K1, turn.
Row 2: Sl 1 purlwise, P5, P2tog, P1, turn.
Row 3: Sl 1 purlwise, K to within 1 stitch of gap, SSK, K1, turn.
Row 4: Sl 1 purlwise, P to within 1 stitch of gap, P2tog, P1, turn.
Repeat rows 3&4 until all heel stitches are worked, ending last repeat of row 3 with SSK and last repeat of row 4 with P2tog. Heel stitches = 14.
Heel gusset (directions for left handed knitters in parentheses):
Still working in main accent color
Place 5 stitches from right (left) holder onto needle with instep stitches; using a new needle, pick up and K1 stitch in each stitch along right (left) side of heel - 10 stitches. K7 stitches from heel onto same needle as right (left) side of heel (needle 3 has 17 stitches). K next 7 stitches onto a new needle and pick up and K 1 stitch in each stitch along left side of heel (needle 1 has 17 stitches), place 5 stitches from left (right) side of heel onto needles with instep stitches, K instep stitches (needle 2 has 27 stitches).
Round 1: beginning with needle 3, K1, SSK, work to end of needle, K to last 3 stitches on needle 1, K2tog, K1, knit to end of needle 2.
Round 2: K around.
Repeat these 2 rounds until there are 49 stitches total.
Foot:
Redistribute stitches as follows:
needle 1 = 16 stitches
needle 2 = 17 stitches
needle 3 = 16 stitches
Knit around, changing colors and purling if desired, until foot measures 6-7” from end of heel gusset. End having knit needle 3.
Change to main accent color.
1st decrease round: *K5, K2tog, repeat from *.
Knit 5 rounds.
2nd decrease round: *K4, K2tog, repeat from *.
Knit 4 rounds
3rd decrease round : *K3, K2tog, repeat from *.
Knit 3 rounds.
4th decrease round: *K2, K2tog, repeat from *.
Knit 2 rounds.
5th decrease round: *K1, K2tog, repeat from *.
Knit 1 round.
6th decrease round: *K2tog, repeat from *.
7 stitches remain. Break yarn, thread tail through remaining stitches twice, pull tight and fasten off. Weave in all ends.
You can make an I-cord for the hanger and attach various size pom-poms to make it look extra cute.