Thursday, June 30, 2011

Forever Friends

Meet C. One of my earliest BFFs.

She lives way far-away and we don't get to see each other as often as we would like. 

But she happened to be traveling through the area and stayed with us for a night on her journey back to way far-away land.

Best visit ever, we had. Er, that sounded like Yoda. What I meant to say is, we had the best visit EVER.  

The two of us have taken very different paths but find ourselves converging right now. Maybe it's our age and the stage of life we're in, or maybe we've finally figured out what's important in life, but whatever it is, we've found ourselves thinking the same thoughts, and feeling the same way about family and friends and connectedness.

We're determined to keep in touch much better than we've done in the past so we decided to share a blog together. She's new to this whole blogging thing so there's going to be a learning curve for her. But she's eager to start and I know she'll figure it out quickly. Once we get it up and running, I'll link to it.

I can't wait to do this. She's funny, and quick, and witty, and dry, and smart, and did I mention funny? She's da bomb, as my kids used to say. I think you'll like her as much the Man and I do. 

No pressure, C. But I have an audience waiting for you.
While she was here, the Man went out to pick some peas. Our first harvest of them.

We picked enough for everyone to have about 32 peas each.

Huh. It looked like more than that when C and the Man were shelling them. 

Sweet and tasty, tiny green morsels of goodness.

Eating them reminded me of a poem my father-in-law used to say,

I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life.
It makes them taste quite funny
But it keeps them on my knife.
I love basil. 

Really, really love basil.

And it loves me back.
I'm loving this photo of K right now. 

Sweet. Innocent. Summer.

I love how pictures telegraph emotion and feeling.

Although there's also something about it that says "country music album cover". I think it's having an identity crisis.
Tolerant patience.

That's what this one is called.

Just like her brother.

Oh boy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beach musings

We escaped to the beach for a few days. 

I love the beach. I love the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves, the seagulls squawking as they fly by the house, and the cool sand and windy air.

I love sitting outside and watching the tide come in. Or go out. I'm not fussy, I'll watch either one.

I love watching surfers in the big waves. And the seals that swim alongside them.
Unplugged for a few days. I brought my laptop but only opened it for about ten minutes total. And since I don't have an iPhone, I was not in contact with anyone at all.

Other than the people right in front of me. I stayed in contact with them. As in, Who's going to the flea market? And Fritters are ready, come and get them!

You know what I discovered? Cyberworld got along without me just fine. And I got a lot of knitting done. And reading. 
Other Sissy and MR came up to visit and we celebrated our uncle's birthday with him. 

Which called for chocolate cake.

Got to have cake when you celebrate. Really, we should have cake every day. We should celebrate every day.

Every day is a gift.
Left behind.

Poor sad little sunglasses. With happy pink polka dots on them. I hope they find their owner.

Maybe my picture will help. Maybe the person who lost her sunglasses will read this and remember where she left them and go back for them.

I don't think so. But I can hope.
Our crew walking to the beach.

There were only a few people on the beach. Not too many and not too few. 

Just right, Goldilocks.

All in all, a nice weekend and a nice break from cyberworld.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

These Make Me a {Happy Girl}

Happy girl production line.

It took me an evening to make this mound of happy girls.  While the Man watched television, I sat on the floor and snipped and tied and glued and put tiny faces on these little ladies. 

I had to make some. I only had a few left from the last bunch I made about a month ago. I'm trying to give them all away.
I love seeing someone smile when they get a happy girl.

If you want to make your own happy girls, check out the tutorial over at Artmind. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Linen Washcloth Curtains, or how I got over my commitment issue

We moved into our current home five years ago. It took me close to a year to find some sort of window coverings for our bedroom that I could live with.

I have commitment issues when it comes to decorating. I like to look at all my options and then pick the best one. Only I can never really look at all the options now, can I?

There's always something better to see. At least that's what goes through my mind every time I come close to committing to a purchase.

So I wind up paralyzed, unable to make a decision and we live with items that I've thrown up until the "right" thing comes along. Meanwhile, five years have gone by and I really don't like the window coverings in my bedroom.

Until now. 
I saw an idea on Pinterest for curtains and I knew right away that I had to make them for our bedroom. They were cafe curtains used on the bottom of a cabinet, instead of doors. Linen on the top and vintage handkerchiefs along the bottom, acting as a border.

So sweet. And light. And airy. 

Just what I wanted for the bedroom.

Only longer. Cafe curtains wouldn't cut it for the bedroom.
I found some cotton washcloths by Waverly (even though I think they look more like napkins, the packaging said washcloths) at a discount store and bought six bundles at $1.99 each. Added 6 yards of linen, used a 50% off coupon, and paid $18.00. 

Total cost?  $30.00 for four panels. 

Love them. 

Love. them.

Curtain commitment issue? Solved.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day celebrations

I love eating outside in the summertime. 

When we were kids, we used to visit my grandparents quite often. Since we were a couple of hours away from them, we would travel over the river and through the woods on Friday nights and stay until late Sunday afternoons.

This would start after the long winter. We didn't travel too much between Christmas and Easter. But once Easter arrived? From then on, we'd be traveling gypsies. Easter, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and odd weekends thrown in amongst all those lovely holidays.

And always, there would be Sunday afternoon dinner outside. Grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles, aunts and uncles, sisters, brothers, in-laws, cousins, family friends. Everyone showed up for Sunday dinner outside.
Nan always had a big bowl of salad. She would put the Italian dressing on ahead of time and give it a good toss.

As plain as Italian dressing sounds now, with Russian, Thousand Island, Ranch, Blue Cheese, all kinds of vinaigrettes, balsamic dressings, blush dressings, and on and on, plain old Italian dressing is one of my favorites.

For dinner Saturday night, K and her cousin MR and Other Sissy went out to the garden and picked lettuce. The Man planted three kinds this year and so far, so good. No rabbits nibbling away. So we got to have a big bowl of salad, full of freshly picked lettuce from the garden.

No herbicides, no pesticides. Just organic deliciousness.
I'm loving this appetizer right now.

Caprese mini-skewers. Cherry tomatoes, a basil leaf, and a chunk of mozzerella. Lay them on a platter, drizzle with olive oil, a crack of pepper and a dash of sea salt and you're done.

Mouth-poppin', finger-lickin' good.

More garden harvesting going on. This time from the herb garden. The girls got sent back outside to pick fresh basil.

I have a lot of it. It's my favorite herb. But I bought way too many plants and now I have a LOT of basil. So we're going to caprese everything this summer.

Know what we're having tomorrow night? Yup, Caprese Paninis. Mmmmm.
Lots of bubble blowing going on. 

Other Sissy brought the little girls bubbles. They came in three different colors that you could blow as they were, or you could mix them together and make other colors.

We had to try them out.

I remember Nan taking Other Sissy and I downtown with her and my aunt on the Saturday afternoons we would be there visiting. We loved going downtown since it always meant a stop at the five-and-dime store to get a toy.

Sometimes I got bubbles, sometimes a book, sometimes a note pad, sometimes a deck of cards. We'd spend a long time looking things over, trying to pick the perfect toy. Nan was so patient with us, letting  us examine each and every item that caught our eye.
I grabbed MR to take a few photos out in the barn. I love the light coming in the wide open door at the back of the barn.

Somewhere, I have many pictures of those outdoor Sunday dinners. Most of the older relatives in Nan's generation are gone now.  Except for Nan. She's still with us.

I'm very thankful that we were a picture-taking family from a long time ago. Now I just have to find them.
On this weekend, we got together to celebrate all the fathers, and husbands, and sons, and brothers, and uncles, and grandfathers in our lives. We don't thank them enough, I think. At dinner, we got a chance to tell them how much they meant to us and how very much they are loved.

MR and her dad. They were oh-so-patient while I was shooting.
Other Sissy and I wandered around the yard, picking blooms here and there to fill the vases for the tables. 

Dad wanted to know what the occasion was.

Father's Day, silly.
The roses came from a local market.

Nan had lilacs and pansies in her yard. I've taken shoots from that lilac and planted them at our last home. I don't have any at our home now. I need to get some from her so I can have a piece of her lilac with me all the time. 

Multiplying lilacs. Call me Miss Rumphius.
Our home is near a small airport so the planes go right over head, usually on weekend evenings. And parachutes. 

There's lots of parachute jumping around us. 

We counted ten jumpers in the sky.

No, thank you. I believe I'll keep my feet on the ground.
J and P. 

End of day. 

The fire bowl got dragged out and wood was gathered. Embers floated through the air, while the wood crackled and popped as logs were thrown on.

Desserts came out and we gathered around the table once again. We sat and talked and then settled quietly, each of us savoring a fine dinner surrounded by those we love and remembering those who have passed.

What wonderful parts of our life, these men are. And we are blessed to have them. Oh yes, we are blessed indeed.

The Circle of Life

I've been trying to find a perfect quote to sum up fatherhood. I've found some that are funny, some that are poignant, some odd ones, but not the perfect one to say it all.

A man's children and his garden both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season. Unknown

He's done plenty of weeding.

At ages 20 and 17, our two {children} aren't really children at all, anymore. Their growing season is just about over and we're starting to see the harvest ready itself as they move on into the next phase of their lives.

So as I was watching them this morning in church, I started thinking about all the things the Man has done to shape these two people.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

The Man has raised children that love our God and savior, Jesus Christ. That's the most important legacy he could leave them. The knowledge that we all account to something greater than ourselves. And that we're all accountable for our actions. We don't get to walk through life, acting as we please, with no consequences.

Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice. Unknown

The Man's the first one to volunteer when something needs to be done. He'll give you the shirt off his back. He takes care of everyone else before himself. He is one of the finest men I know. He's as honest as the day is long. And his children have paid attention.

They not only attend church every week, J and some other young adult friends started a young adult weekly bible study. J plays guitar for the worship team, leading the congregation in praise through music. K sings with the worship team, as one of the song leaders. She's performed with J and his fellow guitarist on special occasions, like Christmas. She teaches Children's Church, leading the young ones of the congregation in following God's commands. J mows the lawn for the church, and shovels sidewalks. K volunteers on the town's ambulance and volunteers to mentor special needs students at the high school.

They have listened to their father. They have watched their father. And you know what? They are just like their father.

He has trained them well, for he was trained by his father. And we know, someday, we'll watch J and K's future husband train their children.

The circle of life.


I have lots of pictures from the weekend. Sissy and Other Sissy and their families, along with my dad, were over on Saturday night so we could all celebrate the fathers in our family. I'll post some tomorrow.

Tonight I wanted to write about the Man. He deserves no less than an entire posting all for himself. 

He's the best. And I love him so.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Evening photo shoot, or the pursuit of a very dangerous hobby

I thought I had a senior shoot tonight. It had to get rescheduled. Pooh.

I was looking forward to it. I happen to know this senior very well since she works with me. She's been on my teen advisory board at the library for the past six years. She was on the very first teen board we had. And now she's graduating. And I get to do her senior pics. 

But not tonight. 

Luckily, I had planned on doing E's shoot with some other friends, so I still got to go out shooting. I had two models willing to shoot with me and another photographer, the lovely Mrs. M from A New Birth.

Guess who one of my models was?

It was Tay from Time with Tay.

As I said to Mrs M, I don't know what I like better, shooting photos or hanging out with friends and laughing until your cheeks hurt. Tonight I got to do both.
We headed out to the lake.

We traipsed up and down steep banks, until we got to the water where we wanted to be. As Mrs M and I were stumbling clinging to the vines growing out of the bank, gingerly and gracefully working our way down the muddy, narrow path to the water, we commented on how strong the vines were.

I hope they're not poison ivy, I say. No, they can't be. They don't have three shiny leaves.

Like this? says Mrs M, pointing to plants full of groups of three shiny leaves that we were walking through.

Gulp. I better take a shower when I get home.
If there's any snakes in this grass, I'm outta here, said Tay, as I encouraged them to head back just a little bit further.

When I heard the word snake, I whipped my head around, got down off the the rock I was standing on and started to head back to the car.

Er, I forgot about the girls. Better check on them.

No, I didn't see a snake. I'm just saying, says Tay. Well, I'm with you on that one. Any snakes and we're all outta there.
Then I remembered that a bear had been spotted kind of, sort of in that general area.

And I remembered that P's mom said bears move fast. And cover lots of territory.

Gulp. Lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my.

That caused a few moments of concern. This is getting dangerous.

Mrs. M pointed out that we were making way too much noise for a bear to be around.
Aren't they gorgeous? I love taking photos of teenagers. They are such good models since they're very comfortable in front of the camera. I think that must be a by-product of all these cell phones having cameras on them and people taking pictures of one another ALL THE TIME.

Either way, it makes it very easy to work with them and their portraits are just fabulous.

When the pretty evening light left us, we headed home, full of fun memories and lots of beautiful photos.

Thanks, girls. Love, your mothers.
I had to show you this pretty tray I found thrifting yesterday. And the green vase. 

Love them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I {See} Pictures

I take a lot of pictures of K.

She's just about the only one that I can still boss around. And that's only because I hold the keys to the car. So I ask her to model for me a few minutes at the end of the day. For the most part, she's fairly patient and long suffering. To get a smile like the one above, it takes about fifteen shots like the one below. Then I can coax it out of her.

You're going to have to make me laugh, Mom, if you want me to smile, she says.

I can't make you laugh, says I. You don't even like me right now because I'm pestering you to pose for me. How on earth do I make you laugh?

I don't know, but you gotta get funnier. That makes me laugh. Oops, wrong person.
I shoot all the time. Except when I'm at work. Or asleep. Or at knitting. I guess I don't really shoot all the time. 

Just most of it. 

(Even in the midst of tornado threats. Ask M. She's still talking about our ride home the night of the tornado and how calm I was, snapping away at the unusual sky while she was wide-eyed, looking side to side for a tornado.)

I've been trying to figure out why I feel the need to document life through photographs. And why other people don't. I think it has something to do with the visual. 

When the Man and I were dating, I discovered fairly quickly that he was not a top-notch speller. He was always asking me how to spell a word. Since I'm a decent speller, it comes easy to me so I never minded doing it for him.

One day, he asked me to spell a word, and I must have been a wee bit impatient because I said to him, Just read it off the chalkboard in your brain.

What?, he asked.

The giant chalkboard in your brain. Don't you see the word written on a chalkboard in your brain? Simply read the letters and write them down.

No, he said, giving me a strange look. There's no giant chalkboard in my brain.


I think I'm onto something. I {see} things in a way that some other people might not. Through pictures in the brain. But I think other photographers might {see} things like this, too. So let me know in a comment. Especially about the chalkboard. Anyone else spell this way?

M gave me a baby aloe plant. I probably shouldn't have taken it, poor little thing.

It deserved a long life in her house. 

It's not looking good over at mine.

Are aloe plants supposed to turn yellow? Sissy told me to stop touching it. And she's going to tell M not to give me any more plants.
The Man bought some straw to put down on our very.pathetic.lawn. 

I commandeered it for a few minutes so I could stage a few shots. These sweet little pink flowers are everywhere right now. The flower beds are full, full, full of them. 

Don't you love that pink? What a happy color.

Listening to an Average Joe

It's time to get busy. Looking at colleges.

Ugh. We just did this with J. 

Er, three years ago.

I guess those three years went by since it seems like yesterday we were traipsing all over the world country region looking at schools.

I'm having a hard time believing that my littlest one is going to be a senior next year. I just gave birth to her. I can remember quite clearly the moment I first saw her. I was convinced I was having a second boy. I always thought I'd have two boys. Growing up in a house full of girls, I was pretty sure I didn't want any of those kind. Nope, two boys would be good for me.

But God knew what I needed. And I needed a daughter.

The moment she was born, I looked into her eyes. She stared at me so intently. And I thought, "Oh. Yes, it's you. You're exactly what I wanted."

How can it be that she's leaving us already?
I hope she has a daughter some day. And that girl hides behind her hands when her mother's trying to photograph her.

I will laugh. 

And her daughter will let me take her photograph because she'll do anything for her granny.

Not that I want to be called "Granny". I'm just saying.
M was telling me about a book she read, What Now?, by Ann Patchett.

I liked this book. A lot. 

Based on her commencement speech at Sarah Lawrence College, it's packed with tiny little gems of wisdom and truth.

...people need to talk, and often a willingness to sit and listen is the greatest kindness one person can  offer to another.

When I think about all the times that my mind has wandered when someone was speaking to me, and all the times I've formulated responses as they were still speaking, I feel ashamed. There's a difference between hearing and listening. I need to listen more. And better. I need to be a better listener.

It is senseless to think that at every moment of our lives we should all be the team captain, the class president, the general, the CEO, and yet so often this is what we're being prepared for....It turns out that most positions in life, even the big ones, aren't really so much about leadership.

Most of us turn out to be followers. Average drones going about our business. The business of getting a degree at an average university. The business of getting an everyday job at the Acme Corporation doing average work for an average salary. The business of raising an average family in an average suburb in an average town.

And yet, in spite of all this average-ness, we are content. 

Content to follow and not lead. Thank you, Ann Patchett, for reminding me that it's okay to be an Average Joe. 

And thanks, M, for recommending the book. 
P took this photo today. She was a wee bit bored, waiting to hear about a summer job.

I love it.