Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Of Moon and Pumpkins

This was the moon on Monday night. During the height of the hurricane that turned into a tropical storm. 

I went outside to check on the wind, never expecting to see clear skies and an almost full moon.


Since it's Halloween, we've decided to watch a rather frightening film....Apollo 18. The Man is a wee bit interested in anything to do with the space program so I brought it home from the library for him to see.

I didn't know it was a scary movie.

Gulp. I really don't like scary movies. 

They scare me.
My jack-o-lantern this year. 

Pitiful. No time to carve one. No kids around to help decorate one. 

C'est la vie.

Do you like the book it's sitting on? 

Very appropriate, non?

Monday, October 29, 2012

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

It was a dark and stormy night....

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Seriously, though, it IS a dark and stormy night. Hurricane Sandy has come to play and she is behaving herself quite nicely.

So far.

We still have power, though the lights are flickering every now and then. Cable has blinked on and off a couple times. We're snuggled up, cozy and warm, with cups of hot chocolate and fresh cookies coming out of the kitchen.

Thanks, K.


The Man made a most delicious {semi} beef stew in the crockpot for dinner tonight. Lots of vegetables and just a little bit of meat. I like it like that.

He said, Where's the beef?

He likes more meat. I like less meat.  It's a battle.

We He ran around yesterday, cleaning up this and that, getting everything brought inside so it doesn't blow away in the wild, wild winds. I grabbed a few things off the porches, including my littlest pumpkin, when I came home between shoots.

I did four photo shoots this weekend.

Can you say, Crazy Lady?

Four photo shoots means four sets of photos to edit. And have ready for review before we lose power.
My fingers were flying over the keyboard last night and this morning.

I finished editing right after lunch today. And I am so pleased with these photos. The light outside was perfect all weekend for shooting. 

Hurricane light is the best, I guess. 

Thank you, Sandy. You've been very nice to me so far.
One of the shoots I did was a young man who is dating a friend of K's. They haven't seen each other since August when M went off to college.

Do you think they were happy to see each other?

I call this picture "Contagious Laughter."


We went on a "Haunted Walk" with some friends this weekend. One of the local historical societies was sponsoring a walk in the graveyard. They featured people dressed in time period costumes, telling their unhappy endings.

And children. They had children dressed as deceased beings, in dark robes with lots of white face paint and big, dark circles around their eyes. It sounds hokey but it played out rather eerily.

Especially when you're in the middle of a graveyard, and it's dark, and the almost full moon is hazy and hidden behind foggy clouds. And people are screaming.

One woman in our group screamed several times. She had me jumping.

So what's a girl, her Man and her friends to do when the girls are a bit jumpy? They go to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and scrumpdillyicous cheesecake. 

Much better.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Switching Focus

Before the Man cleaned up the yard, the leaves were thick, thick, thick on the ground. We only have a couple trees in the yard but they sure produce a lot of leaves.

I love walking through the leaves, kicking them up, making them crunch.

I don't love when they follow me into the house, getting all over the place.
One of the exercises in the photography book I was reading last week sounded simple.

Pick a spot in your yard and shoot twenty images from that spot.

Of course I took the standard leaves-around-the-tree-trunk shot seen at the top of the post. But then I had to find different angles.

These are my favorite from the bunch.


I love the out of focus shot above. I like the balance between the {very} bright sky and the dark tree limbs. I love the pops of yellow and orange from the leaves. I like the weight of the photo being at the top on the leaves closest to me. I think I'm going to try and turn it into a watercolor.
It's amazing the detail you can find when you have to keep looking.

And yes, I had plenty of other things to do, like clean my windows, laundry, dusting and vacuuming, along with a lot of other jobs. But it was much more fun being outside, absorbing all that beautiful color.
Camera close to the ground, nestled right into the leaves.

Switched the focus a little to a point further away. I love the crispness in the center and that gorgeous bokeh all around.
Crazy shot. 

Breaking-the-rules shot.

Kept the shutter open while panning on some red leaves from a shrub around the house. Looks like moving water. 

If you squinch your eyes a bit. And if water was red.


Try this exercise if you're looking for something to push the creativity envelope. Loads of fun.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lessons in Patience

I'm not a particularly patient person. Watercolor painting is changing this.

Things I've learned:

  • It takes many tries to learn how to load a brush with just the right amount of color and the right amount of water.
  • You have to wait for the water to dry before applying another color. Or you end up with a mess.
  • It takes lots of layers to build up color.
  • Plain water erases watercolor paint. Over and over and over again, as long as the paint is still wet. After it's dry, you can use water to tone the color down, or wash it out a bit.
  • Sometimes you have to paint a picture many times before you get it just right.

So as I was thinking about this, I thought about how I could apply this newfound wisdom to life. Using my list above, I came up with a new list.
  • It takes many tries to learn how to talk to people with just the right amount of speaking and the right amount of listening.
  • You have to wait for people to finish their thoughts before jumping in and saying something. I do this to the Man all the time. When he speaks, he often pauses to pull his thoughts together. I take this momentary pause as permission to say what I want to say, right now.
  • Sometimes you have to hear something from several different people before you actually believe what they are saying.
  • Apologizing can fix a multitude of problems. We're all human. We all make mistakes. We need to fix them.
  • Be patient. God isn't finished with me yet.

D was working on the painting in the bottom photo. She can always tell when I'm losing my patience with watercolor.

I pull out my camera.

Ahhh, much better.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Knitwits Up North

Well, we survived. Our Knitwits knitting group went away for a mini vacation together.

Six ladies, five towns, four blocks of cheese, three days, two jam-packed cars and one house later, we're all home safe and sound. Barely.

See the back of the vehicle in the photo above? That belongs to PKB, the Queen, and B. It's to-the-top full and we had barely crossed over the border. I think their car was full before M, Sissy, and I even met up with them.

These are some serious shoppers.


When I know I have to face the Man once I get home, I try to buy things that will fit in my traveling bag. Small things, things that will squish into small little bits that can be tucked away.

Not things like lamps.

The Queen bought a pair of lamps. Yes, she got a great price on them. And, yes, they're beautiful.
But you can't hide lamps in your suitcase. And lampshades. How is she going to sneak those into the house?

You have to think about these things.
We visited one of the bigger cities on Saturday and walked around the harbor area where all the cute little shops are located.

I spied this very pretty lady out for a walk with her owner. She's a cross between a husky and a German shepherd. I knelt down and started snapping away and before I knew it, I had a small crowd gathered around.

They must have thought she was a famous dog with a photographer trailing along.


The gentleman on the bike was great fun to watch. He passed by us three times, playing his electric guitar with the amp strapped to his back.

Playing a guitar while riding a bike. That takes some coordination.

He almost ran over Sissy and I once. We were crossing the street and a truck had stopped to let us cross. As we stepped out from in front of the truck's grille, the guitarist/bicyclist came out of nowhere and had to stop abruptly. Or hit us.

He smiled and gestured for us to cross. Once we got our heart rates under control.
We did lots of fun things this weekend. 

Found a chowder festival to {not} attend. Rested at every chance we got, either in the stores or at the spa. Ate at an Irish pub with the Queen, who hates Irish things. Exited the freeway, drove in a circle, and then entered the freeway again. One of our vehicles almost ran out of gas. And the driver let us know when she was just about on fumes. Then told us she would prefer we find a Mobil station. 

On fumes. In the middle of nowhere. And she wants a Mobil station. 

We found a different station and pulled in so she could fill up. We all got out, and the other passengers joined us to let us know the driver would really rather have had Mobil gas. She's lucky we found this station, we replied. The driver paid for her gas, we climbed back in the cars and drove off, heading to the city.

Not a quarter mile up the road we found a Mobil station.
B seemed to be finding her balance all weekend.

It was either the wine or the big wallet that was throwing her off.
Stopped at a vintage dress shop just to see what they were selling.

Pretty 1950s prom dresses, like the one above.

I love that dress.
And there we are. Minus PKB. She had to leave a few hours before the rest of us.

But that's okay. Next year she can stay for the whole weekend.

Already looking forward to it, ladies!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shout for Joy

I'm reading a book about photography {again}.

A shocker, I know.

Photography and the Art of Seeing by Freeman Patterson.
He talks about breaking the rules.

If the rule says Always hold your camera steady, he says run as fast as you can toward something with your shutter open.

Sometimes you get magnificent photos, full of something.

He calls them happy accidents.
These are my happy accidents.

I wasn't quite ready to run around my yard when I went out to shoot yesterday. It's bad enough we have an outhouse in the middle of the yard.

I don't need to give the neighbors any more pause for thought.
I love this one.

That little guy on the bottom left looks like he's lifting his hands, worshipping our Father. So does his friend on the bottom right, the one caught up in all that soft buttery bokeh.

It made me think of Psalm 66, verses 1-4. 

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!

Say to God, How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.

All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you
they sing praises to your name.
J made dinner tonight. Shepherd's Pie.  Very tasty.

He's going to make someone a good husband one day.


Heading north with the Knitwits this weekend. 

Might be fun. Might be dangerous. Living on the edge, that's how I roll.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beautiful Moments

Good NIGHT.  My world has been crazy busy lately.

Lots of photography. 

Lots of editing, and making young people look their very best, and spending long hours in front of a computer. 


I need to get up and move.
I love shooting teenagers. They make me laugh, and I make them laugh, and we get to spend some real moments together. It's hard NOT to get to know each other a bit when you're standing so close to them for close ups.  I like talking to them, and finding their personality and I like bringing it out for the whole world to see. 

My favorites words to hear from a mom or dad, "Wow, THAT'S Janie!" 

Or "THAT'S her smile!"

Or "I LOVE that look on her face!"


One young lady sat in front of my monitor, looking at herself for long moments. Her mom and I weren't sure what she was looking at, exactly.

Finally she turned to her mom and said quietly, "Mom, I'm beautiful."

Yes, girl. You are.
I had a young man in front of the lens that I had been forewarned was notoriously shy and quiet. "You probably won't get any smiles out of him," said his mom. 

I was a little nervous about shooting him, worrying about how I was going to get him to loosen up. I decided to shoot him at the local high school, putting him in familiar surroundings and all that. The day of the shoot came and I arranged to meet them by the athletic fields behind the school. 

Of course there was a soccer game being played. And a football game. And cross country practice. I think there had to be a hundred thousand million people at the school that afternoon. 

Gulp. Now what?

Teenagers DO NOT like to be photographed in front of their peers. Maybe a friend. Singular. But not a whole group of them.

Plan B was moving this show down the road to the local cemetery. Sounds crazy but there's some great backdrops and corn fields there. I always have to promise them they won't be able to tell they were in a cemetery.


The cemetery loosened him right up. He couldn't stop smiling. It was one of the best shoots I've ever done. Every photo just got better and better.

I was happy.

He was happy.

His mama was happy. And if mama is happy, everyone's happy.
I don't think these young people know how much enjoyment I get from shooting this moment in their young lives.

They're on top of the world, yet still unsure of themselves.

They're surly, yet they still get the giggles over silly nothings.

They're at the height of skin care issues, yet they're absolutely beautiful when you erase all that.

I get to find THEM. I get to find out what makes them smile, and what makes them laugh. I get to hear about their dreams and their plans. Their likes and their dislikes. And sometimes I get to find out what makes them quiet and thoughtful. Those shots always turn out so much better than they think they will. 

I get to show them that sometimes it's okay not to smile in a photograph.
I'll blog about them as a group when I finish shooting. I'd rather do it in one fell swoop and give you an overview of the whole lot of them. 

They are a great bunch of kids, although not so much on the "kid" side anymore. 

And I enjoyed every minute I got to spend with them this fall.

The last of the photos I'll blog about from our trip north to the coast, the Man and I.

We spent our last day driving out to the end of a spit of land, jutting way out into the ocean. Along the way we found a few scenic spots to pull over and get out. The Man knows when I'm going to want to snap some photos and he was pretty good about anticipating my cry of, "Pull over. Now!"

We had pulled over to a small section of beach that had a couple docks with a few boats tied up. We got out, I snapped a few photos and then started walking toward the beach. When I got there, I found some beehive frames that had been washed up from the ocean. The wood was beat up and weathered, a bit waterlogged, but in fairly solid shape. I wanted to take them home so the Man picked them up and punched out the honeycomb part and left the frame intact. 

I have a few ideas for them. *Grinning

At the next stop, we found a buoy that had been washed up. Of course I wanted to take that home too. But it was covered in slimy green seaweed and I wouldn't touch it. He was a bit resistant until I told him I was shopping for my souvenirs. And this particular souvenir was free. What can I say? I'm a cheap date.

He went back to the car, got a plastic bag and went down to the beach to get it.

He likes free.


We had a wonderful time together and I can't wait to do it again. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Traveling Thoughts

Twenty-three years ago the Man and I promised to be true to each other, to love one another through thick and thin, and to never forsake the other.

So far, so good.


We haven't been away together in over ten years. 


Sans children.

Now we are. And it's pretty darn wonderful.
J happened to be up north visiting his girly-friend P this past weekend. They met us in a nearby city for dinner.

It was nice to visit with them as an adult couple, over stout ale and warm comfort food - Irish nachos, sweet potato pub fries, and hot, cheesy, mashed potato loaded Shepherd's Pie.
It was a chilly and misty night. We wandered around for a short bit after dinner, just enough to build up an appetite for some hazelnut gelato.

Hazelnut gelato. Two of the nicest words in the English language.

And espresso. The Man and I had a cup of espresso to go with the gelato. We all laughed at the Man drinking his gelato. He really wanted coffee but the little old Italian man didn't understand what he wanted so he made the Man an espresso.


I love the colors reflecting off the pavement.
Nothing will warm the belly like a shot of whiskey.

Warm, caramel colors. 

Fall colors.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Wedding Tale

Once upon a time there was a beautiful young woman who was marrying a handsome young man. And their wedding happened on a most lovely night, by the side of a river, with lots of family and friends gathered around.

Love was in the air.

Even the chandeliers were full of love for this happy young couple, making hearts that smiled down on them from way up high under the grand tent top.
The bride's parents were so very happy for their lovely daughter. She was marrying a fine young man who adores her. 


I know this because I was watching him. Watching him look for her as the bridal procession was coming doing the aisle.

I always watch the groom. Everyone watches the bride. And really, why shouldn't they? Brides are just beautiful, and full of smiles, and radiate sheer joy.

But the groom? He always looks stunned. Stunned with disbelief that this beautiful girl walking toward him is his. And is his forever. 

Stunned. Overwhelmed. Pure emotion. The love is too strong to keep in. 

Then he smiles at her. It gets me every time.

Every single time.
The rose petals weren't about to let those grand chandeliers pass out all the love. Strewn onto the stone walkway to greet the bride and groom as they walked  passed, their pretty heart faces seemed to smile up at everyone.

Pretty hearts.
So many pictures.

This venue was absolutely gorgeous and you couldn't find a horrid background if you tried. Every time I turned around there was a beautiful backdrop for the bride and groom to stand in front of and smile pretty for the paparazzi.
Momma bear came over to freshen up baby bear.

What a good momma bear she is.
We've been friends for a long time, T and I. Since before we were married and had our babies. We lost touch for a few years but as usually happens with the good people in your life, they come back and then they stick around.

Two of our closest, dearest friends and we are so very happy to share life with them.


They've had a tough year. T lost her mom a few months ago so I'm sure this celebration was bittersweet and full of old memories for them. Like their own wedding, oh-so-many years ago.

T's husband spoke of the passage of time in his toast to the young couple. He said that he couldn't believe how fast time has gone by. His daughter was just a small girl and he blinked and she's getting married.

He's right.

It goes so fast.
T's husband, also a T, holding his youngest daughter's bouquet. She was off helping her sissy, the bride, primp and fuss for some more pictures.

I think those are his colors, don't you?
The Man and I took a walk outside to see what it looked like from out there. 

Just beautiful.


These photos were all taken with a teeny tiny point-and-shoot Sony Cyber Shot. I didn't take my big fancy-schmancy camera with me.

And all the pictures of the bride were shot from inside the venue, standing behind one of those very big cathedral-like windows you see above. Shooting through glass, while eating some appetizers, and zoomed in as far as I could. 

Not too shabby for a small camera.