Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Rest of the Story

dk box

I am plum wore out, as they say around these parts. It has been a long day, unusually busy for a Saturday (for me anyway), but full of goodness. I am looking forward to a more laid back day tomorrow.

Tonight, I'm going to keep it short and just share a little follow up to a story I wrote about last December. My son Adam had written author Dean Koontz a fan letter while deployed in Afghanistan and received an extremely nice and encouraging reply back along with the promise that he would ship him some hard cover editions of his books.

We received a box full of books on Friday from Koontz himself, with a nice card apologizing for not getting them out sooner. He signed every single book. My older son had texted Adam telling him the package had arrived, and when I came home from work I called him while opening the box. After reading him the card and the inscriptions, he said, "I'm so motivated now!" Motivated to do what, I'm not sure. LOL But, I think that is Marine talk for being really excited.


I was just so impressed that he took the time and care to remember to do this for my son. I'd say Mr. Koontz is one of the good guys, too.

That's all I can manage tonight folks. Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

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Friday, March 30, 2012


weeping cherry

For today's Photo Art Friday, I chose to combine a photo taken earlier this month and edit it with Topaz Simplify (Watercolor) and add Bonnie's newly released "Antique Farewell" texture.

I loved the sight of these cherry blossoms drifting down to the ground, but most of my shots were blurry. Sometimes the painterly effect can cover a multitude of sins.

We have also been discussing adding frames to our images over at Beyond Layers and I practiced the techniques shown to us by Kim in this image, although the effect is quite subtle.

It has been one heck of a week in terms of sheer busy-ness, and you can probably tell that from the brevity of my posts. The weekend promises to be full as well.

In fact, I doublebooked myself during several time slots tomorrow, and had to choose three things out of six that were in the offing. I chose to go to my writing class, get a massage, and a ladies night out.

I decided to take a pass on a photoshoot at the botanical gardens with my photography group, a blogging seminar, and a dinner invitation that sort of fell apart on its own anyway. Sunday, aside from church, I'm staying home.

It may seem like I like to go go go all the time, but I'm really not that way at all. But, I do suffer from what Christine Kane calls "FMS" disease. The acronym stands for Fear of Missing Something.

There are just so many opportunities to learn, and do, and they all sound great. But, honestly, I'd rather be home puttering around the house and playing with pixels. I sign up for stuff, or commit to activies then wish I had more free time. But, as soon as I get some, I fill it up again.

This is something I've got to work on. I'm just finishing up a nine week class/support group based on Henry Cloud's book Boundaries I've had the book since its publication in 1992, and have read through it a few times already. When the class was offered, I decided it was a good time in my life to revisit it.

One of the topics discussed is boundaries with ourselves. What limits do I need to set for myself regarding all this actitvity? I have defined a few that I'm going to try:
  1. No planned activities on work nights if at all avoidable (after my final Monday night class, of course!)
  2. No bringing the computer home from work on week nights.  It is too tempting to play with photos and go to bed late, or get involved in the morning visiting blogs or working on mine and miss my walk or run late for work.  This means I need to work ahead on my blog on the weekends
  3. Have at least one weekend a month where I make absolutely NO plans outside the home at all.
  4. No iPad in the bed. Kindle yes, book yes, iPad no.
That's a good start I think.  I watched a good Ted Talk (in bed, on my iPad... yes, I admit it) on slowing down. If feel like you are just way too hurried and want permission to slow down, this one is a good one to watch.

Today's Linkups

Photo Art Fridaybeyondlayers

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Showing Off My Bloomers

dark pink dogwood

My dogwoods are blooming now and I mentioned the other day that I was going to try to capture them before they leaf out.

I just love dogwoods,and I'd love to plant a few more in my yard.

light pink dogwood

I pretty much let my container plants sit on the deck as they were over the winter, and was suprised when my hybrid verbena (which is supposed to be an annual) started growing and blooming.


Even my potted mums, which were in flimsy plastic containers came back. I need to find a spot for them in the ground so I can enjoy them this fall.

My oregano which was pot bound in a too small pot started coming out and I repotted it in a larger container and its taking off.

Maybe I inherited a bit of my dad's green thumb after all. Right now, he doesn't have much of a green thumb. He's got blue fingers after getting eight of them smashed in the garage door last Saturday. I'd show you the picture, but its really awful looking. Let's just think of pretty flowers instead.

For the Color Me Weekly challenge, I used the dark pink dogwood.


Today's Linkups

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last But Not Least


This is the last of the series of birds from the thicket that I stumbled upon several weeks ago. I especially love it when I can capture a bird without a lot of messy foreground like this lady cardinal.

lady cardinal 1

cardinal2She is not quite a showy as her male counterpart, I featured last week but she's still got great color don't you think? I swear she has a little Mona Lisa smile going on there.

It has been hard to patiently parse these birds out one at a time. In the meantime, though, I've been capturing more birds to share and I can hardly wait until next week to show you what I got this past Saturday. :)

Today's Linkups

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Playing with Pink


Today's Texture Tuesday theme is "pink" and pink is just everywhere these days. My pink dogwoods are blooming now and I am going to get some shots of them later this morning.

This shot of my neighbor's pink lilac shrub was another capture from my morning walk. I masked out out the background using Topaz Labs Remask plugin. What an awesome tool this is! It certainly makes creating textured botanical pieces a whole lot easier.

Topaz Labs offers great webinars and tutorials on their plugins. If you have any Topaz products, you need to make time to watch their videos. I learn so much every time. I'm sort of a jump in and start playing kind of person, and while I learn a great deal through my mistakes and doing things the hard way, there is a point where a good solid tutorial is needed to gain proficiency. I love to play with an application or plugin for a while and then watch the tutorials. I've watched this one on the Remask plugin more than once.

For texture, I used Kim's newest "Be Still" and also "Happy Heart", with various Topaz manipulations and multiple Photoshop adjustments.

Today's Linkups


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Monday, March 26, 2012

Growing Wild

wild and wonderful

With the Creative Exchange gone, I've been on the market for a Monday linky. I found Mosaic Monday at Little Red house, and this is my first linkup. I used Kim Klassen's storyboard template she gifted us in the Beyond Layers class for the mosaic.

Last week, I discussed wildflowers briefly, so I thought I'd make this mosaic all about the little blossoms I've captured growing wild along the side of the road where I walk each morning. Some are considered weeds, others are planted intentionally in gardens but have escaped the boundaries and are growing wherever they darn well please.

I'll leave you this morning with an oldie but goodie from way back in 1972. I wonder how many of you might remember this song. This one would always seem to queue up in my memory at night when I lay down to sleep after a hard day or during some difficult time when I felt really alone with my burdens. Even though it is sad, it gave me comfort, too.


She's faced the hardest times
you could imagine
and many times her eyes fought back the tears
and when her youthful world
was about to fall in
each time her slender shoulders
bore the weight of all her fears
and a sorrow no one hears
still rings in midnight silence,
in her ears

Let her cry, for she's a lady
let her dream, for she's a child
let the rain fall down upon her
She's a free and gentle flower,
growing wild

and if by chance I should hold her
let me hold her for a time
but if allowed just one possession
I would pick her from the garden,
to be mine

Be careful how you touch her,
for she'll awaken
and sleep's the only freedom that she knows
and when you walk into her eyes,
you won't believe
the way she's always paying
for a debt she never owes
and a silent wind still blows
that only she can hear and so she goes

Let her cry, for she's a lady
let her dream, for she's a child

let the rain fall down upon her
She's a free and gentle flower,
growing wild

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Adam and Me

adam and me

Oh what a full weekend this has been! I'm just now getting home from the last gathering of the boys' leave. This time, it was the families of the Tennessee Three. We had a wonderful time full of laughter and stories. When those three are together there are always stories. Some are the same stories that get told time and again, always fun to hear and remember. They always manage to find a new one or two to tell - always full of surprises those three.

I talked Adam into letting me set up the tripod and taking a few shots with my remote for this week's selfie submission to the Urban Muser In the Picture Challenge.

I'm sorry to see him go back, but I hope to visit them some time this summer. Now, its time to get back to the normal routine - whatever that is!

Today's Linkups

In The Picture

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blue Skies and Rainbows


For the final day of our week of colour at Beyond Layers, we are celebrating a rainbow of colors. I decided to capture as many colors as I could on my walk this morning, and today's image is what I came up with. I admit I'm holding out, as I got a few bird shots that I'm really excited about that I'm keeping in reserve.

This has been a full Saturday as I started a new writing workshop this morning that will meet every other week for the next 10 weeks. After my planned 30 minute walk turned into an hour and a half walk (where does the time go?) I almost decided to forget it. Especially because I had to leave the mess that grandog Crockett left behind when he murdered Mr. Moo Cow.

Photo courtesy of my son Andrew

Tonight we are having our mini family reunion in honor of my son's homecoming and another one yet tomorrow.

I think I may take a mini nap.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

In the Red


Today's Beyond Layers color for the day is red, and since I missed this week's World Bird Wednesday, I'm going to post in advance for next week with this cardinal from the thicket of birds I came upon several weeks ago.

For Photo Art Friday, I pimped it up with some Topaz Labs work along with Bonnie's "Old Master Dust" texture (one of my favs).


This week has gone by in a blur and that's why I'm a little late today. This is my son's last weekend home on leave, so we plan to make the most of it. Pictures are sure to follow. :)

Today's Linkups

Photo Art Fridaybeyondlayers

Try NEW Photoshop CS6 Beta before the official release!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Color of Courage


Wildflowers are perhaps
the most enchanting of
all for me. I love
their delicacy, their
disarming innocence,
and their defiance of
life itself.
-Grace Kelly
Princess of Monaco

Today at Beyond Layers we are focusing on the color blue, and this also happens to be the color for the monthly mosaic challenge hosted at Magnitised by Life. So, I'm going to go ahead and share my mosaic for this month today as well.

Unlike the previous two months, I have pulled a few photos from my archives because I didn't have enough blue to fill in. I think I like the idea of using some old mixed in with the new.

From left to right, top to bottom:

1. A dew drop on a barbed wire fence taken on my morning walk last fall.
2. Butterfly captured at St. Mary's Sewanee last summer while on personal retreat
3. Self portrait taken for Urban Muser's In the Picture challenge
4. Vinca Major (Periwinkle) captured by the side of the road on my morning walk
5. A macro shot of my eyeball submitted to the Macro Monday "blue" challenge
6. Spiderweb captured last fall while on my morning walk
7. Ball canning jar and Bradford Pear blossom taken for Beyond Layers "touch of color" challenge
8. Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)caputured this spring while on my morning walk
9. Mom's blue coffee cup and saucer that caught my eye one day in her kitchen.

march mosaic

Along with the mosaic, we are also to include a quote that in line with the corresponding monthly theme. For March, the theme is "courage and spiritual" awareness. The quote below today's featured image, attributed to Grace Kelly, has long been a favorite of mine and I think it speaks to the theme quite well.

Wildflowers remind us that we don't need perfect conditions in which to grow and become what we are intended to be. They don't make excuses and grow in spite of whatever challenges they face in their environment. Season after season, when it is time to bloom, they bloom. When it is time to lay dormant, they submit to the rhythm established by the creator and rest. They don't compare themselves to the magnificent show of the annuals which must be treated carefully and die after a single season. Wildflowers aren't your one hit wonders, they have staying power. They only look delicate.

Today's Linkups

beyondlayersmagnetised by life badge

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pretty in Pink

spring quotography

Today's color story at Beyond Layers is pink, and the this week's Quotography theme is Spring. At this point in Spring the whole world seems to be exploding in shades of pink, green, and white.

In my back yard, there are two flowering crab apples - one pink and one white and yesterday they were in full bloom, branches mixing and mingling in one big pink and white party.

crab apples

It was a good thing I captured some shots of my weeping cherry trees on Saturday because, as I predicted, the flowers have now yielded to bright green leaves. Here are a couple more of my favorite shots in keeping with the pink theme:

in for a landing

cherry tree bee

You have to move fast in Spring as the landscape is changing almost by the minute. Better keep that camera handy.

Today's Linkups

Quotography at {My}Perspectivebeyondlayers

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Color My Black and White Days

bw hydrandgeas

There's been a whole lot of emphasis on black and white photography this month in my internet photography circles - Urban Muser's In the Picture theme for March, Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class & today's Texture Tuesday B&W eDition, and Digital Photography School laying down a Black and White Portrait Challenge.

Today's image will do double duty fulfilling my Beyond Layers assignment and today's Texture Tuesday challenge. For the image, I used Kim's "Paper Love" texture (lightly), and lots of Topaz Labs filters to get the look I wanted.

Oh, but spring is upon us and color is popping everywhere now and at Beyond Layers we are bringing some color back into the picture this week, with a different color featured each day. Monday's color was green and since I didn't have time to shoot (and won't) I am submitting this image of the clover with water droplets that was the base of Saturday's St. Patty's Day Greeting.


Today's Beyond Layers color challenge is Yellow, and since my hydrangea and the picture in today's image were both yellow I'm going to leave you with the image processed in its fully yellowy goodness. Bring on the color!


All of today's images were shot with my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Lens

The inspiration for today's title came from Gary Go's song "Black And White Days

Today's Linkups

kimklassencafeScattered Horizons

Monday, March 19, 2012

Old and New

old and new

Prompt #2 for week 1 of the Two Takes project is to compare old versus new. These dried up old oak leaves are largely still hanging from the trees in my back yard, waiting for new growth to push them on out. Between two oaks is a Tulip Poplar (the Tennessee state tree, by the way) that is just beginning to sprout tiny little baby leaves. The leaves actually grow quite large and the orangy tulips put on quite a show as well.

It feels sort of weird not participating in the Creative Exchange this week and I'm sad to see this weekly linkup go. But, Lisa's still out there producing great photos and making the rounds around the blogoshpere, so at least we won't be missing her. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Fever

hydrangea haze

We are still doing black and white selfies this month for the Urban Muser In the Picture self portrait challenge. I bought these beautiful hydrangeas at the grocery store today and they will make an appearance again later this week for a combo Texture Tuesday/Beyond Layers challenge.

As you can see, I got my sunglasses on my head and am sitting on my back deck. Spring is definitely here and I'm loving it.

Today's Linkups

In The Picture

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Above and Below

above and below

With my back issues, I'm already a bit behind on my "Two Takes" challenge. The first prompt encourages us to shoot from different perspectives: above and below.

There are two weeping cherry trees that flank my driveway and when they are in bloom, they are magnificent. Unfortunately, this show only lasts for a few days and I almost missed the chance to photograph it because I was laid up.

This morning, I was feeling significantly better, although I still feel strain in my lower back when I'm up walking around. But, I felt a little bit back to my normal self, making a public spectacle of myself laying in the wet grass by the side of the road and chasing bees around the trees.

There many good shots in this bunch that will keep me busy processing for awhile. I probably got to the trees in the nick of time as we are expecting rain today, and the petals were already falling from the branches with the slightest wind or movement.

Looking on the ground below the tree, I spotted some petals that had fallen to the ground with some lovely shaped dew drops. I thought the clover was a nice tie in to St. Patrick's Day as well.

I used my Kenko Auto Extension Tube Set and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D lens , and lots of post processing help with Topaz Adjust 5.

My son is home again this weekend and we are planning a "mommy and me" day so I better get a bath and get moving. Have a great weekend all, and thanks for the many get well wishes.

I used a closer crop of the clover to create this little Paddy's Day greeting for you!


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