Friday, May 29, 2015

A Little Of This and That

There doesn't seem to be a day that goes by without the storm clouds rolling in. They don't always bring rain, but this one sure did. Lots and lots of rain and very high winds. There was no damage to our place but there are a few broken trees in the area. With all the rains, I haven't been able to go on any photo walks and I miss them!  The only walking I get to do is around the yard. I'm desperately needing to get away with only my camera for some peace. In the meantime I keep telling myself that there's plenty of things around here to take pictures of, but it's just not the same. A day beside some moving water would be perfect!

As I've walked up the lane to check on my dad, I've noticed that the blackberries have begun to form. I can remember my mom making the most delicious blackberry cobbler. I don't know how she ever beat the birds to them, because I sure can't. Once they ripen, they're gone!

I don't have to walk far in the yard to see that the warm sun and the moisture has brought out the mushrooms.

This one reminds me of a tiny fairy house. There's a little door at the bottom, a couple of windows, and a jagged little roof.


I saw this small heart shape in the pavement which reminded me to love where I am and to be content. The rain will stop and things will settle down. I know they will. They have to!  

Maybe not this week or the next week, but someday, hopefully in the near future, I'll be going on a photo walk again; just me and my camera!

"Contentment has the ability
to squeeze out of every situation
all the good there is to get."
~ Shantidasa

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week 50

Dandelion Wishes

Find a fluffy dandelion
Think about a wish
Take a deep and cleansing breath
Blow the seeds away
Watch your wishes float aloft
Seeds in the sky

Be Still 52 exercise for week 50 was

Dandelion seeds can create quite the mess.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 55

"The goal isn't to learn how to take pictures like a professional,
but to learn how to take pictures like you!"
Steve Sonheim

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Be Still 52 - Weeks 48 and 49

Week 48

I will admit when I saw this exercise that included coffee/tea and change I immediately was not interested. First, I don't like coffee or tea. Second, I really couldn't make the connection of coffee/tea and change. They just didn't go together to me. You might find them together at a coffee or tea shop, but I don't go to either of those, since I don't like the smell of coffee or tea!

I like my photos to tell stories not just be an unrelated grouping of things, so it took a lot of thinking to come up with a theme. I finally focused on the change. I thought of my grandfather's change pouch that he always carried in his pocket. The coins in the picture were also his. There is a . . .
  • 1953 nickle which just happens to be the year I was born
  • "good luck" souvenir from the Josephine Tussaud World Of Wax In Hot Springs, Arkansas where he lived
  • token from Taylor Drug Company "good for merchandise"

I gathered up a a few other things a man might have around when he's reading the morning paper and drinking his cup of coffee. By the way, that's not coffee in the picture it's watered down hot chocolate.  

There is a story behind the newspaper. It's from the Sunday paper that featured my daughter's wedding photo. The paper is getting a little yellow around the edges. I'm not telling her age or anything!

I know I keep way to many things because of sentimental value, but there are times that I'm glad I have them.  I enjoy including props that touch my heart, even those glasses! They're a really old pair of Mr. H's. Why do we still have them??  Don't ask!!

On to week 49 . . .

We were challenged this week to think about stillness and go back through all the images we've taken for the class looking for those that spoke of still moments. I chose three. The first one was from the first exercise. It is still my favorite of all.

When I took the first one I wasn't even thinking of stillness. I didn't breathe. I was terrified. I was pretty new at choosing and setting up for a still life photo. Now, forty-nine weeks later,  I remember to breathe and enjoy the exercises. I no longer feel the pressure of being judged or pleasing anyone with my images. I choose what pleases me whether it be nature, sentimental objects, or just plain junk!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Strangers In The Woods

If you go down to the woods today
you're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
you'd better go in disguise

These words are from the lyrics of the children's song
"The Teddy Bears' Picnic" written by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932.

I thought of this song yesterday as I was sitting in my swing enjoying a few peaceful moments. I realized that the normally quiet woods was not so quiet. The only sounds I usually hear from the woods is the wind in the trees, the songs of the birds, and the babbling of the small creek. A different sound had entered the woods. A strange and unusual whirring, like millions of tiny drills.

It took me a moment to place this sound. Suddenly it registered. I knew what had invaded the quiet woods.  I knew what was out there and knew what to look for. As I went into the house to get my camera, I spotted the first one . . . a magicicada.

These cicadas only surface every thirteen years and this is the year that this brood of cicadas is hatching. They spend almost their entire life underground. When the temperatures warm up in late April the immature cicadas open up holes in the soil. In early May the cicada nymphs, which are brown and wingless, emerge from the soil and climb up on tree trunks or other objects and shed their exoskeletons. Cicadas aid their host tree by aerating the soil when they emerge. Not only do they aerate the soil, but those unfortunate enough to be caught provide quite the tasty dinner for birds. These cicadas only live about three weeks after they burrow out of the ground. They mate, lay eggs, and then their life is finished.

I saw two things that I have never seen before. The first is a cicada still in it's hard shell climbing up a tree. I've only seen empty shells.

I've also never seen the cicada emerging from it's exoskeleton.  When they emerge they are white in color. Gradually their bodies become a darker color. It's skin will eventually turn black and orange. 

After they emerge they leave their shell-like skins behind. I remember as children we used to find these shells and stick them onto each other's clothing. Of course, we did an awful lot of squealing and  screaming!

The males will begin "singing" a few days after shedding their exoskeletons and expanding their wings.  The males have membranes in their abdomen called "tymbals" that vibrate quickly and create amazing songs. They sing to attract the female. Their singing is the strange and unusual whirring I heard in the woods.

We have annual cicadas which are different from theses periodical cicadas. They are sometimes called "dog-day cicadas"  because they merge late in the summer. There are fewer of them and they are a green coloration. The periodical cicadas  have black bodies and large red eyes.

Although it looks like they have quite the stinger, they do not sting or bite. Their feet can pinch a little bit if one lands on you, but that is all. 

I did a little research and one very interesting bit of folk lore is attached to them. On some of the cicadas you can either find the letter "W" or the letter "P" on their wings. The letter "W" stands for WAR and the letter "P" stands for PEACE. Look closely at the photo below and you can see the letter "W" on it's wing. I looked but never found the letter "P." As the article said, there's always a war going on somewhere!

Sometimes nature is not so beautiful and even a little scary like these insects, but nature is always amazing and fascinating. In my reading I discovered that this brood was expected to emerge in Arkansas and several other states this year and here they are! How did they know the thirteen years was up? Amazing!

I hope I haven't run you off or given you the shivers. Here's a bit of information that may make us all feel better about these creatures. Fried cicadas are considered a delicacy in some cultures, with a taste compared from asparagus to escargot. They are fascinating, but I'm not about to eat one! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 54

"The camera makes you forget you're there.
It's not like you are hiding but you forget,
you are just looking so much."
~ Annie Leibovitz

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 53

"I remember my mother's prayers
and they have always followed me.
They have clung to me all my life."
~ Abraham Lincoln

Friday, May 8, 2015

Be Still 52 - Week 47

Many of the spring flowers have long gone;
the daffodils
the azaleas.
There are still a few things blooming right now;
the peonies
the roses.

Do you pick flowers and bring them into your home? When you do, do you find the perfect vase to place them in? This week's Be Still 52 exercise was to find unique vessels for our flowers. I thought about this for a whole week. Walking around the house and searching for anything that could hold flowers. Then I spotted an empty Coke can sitting on the counter. Why not? It holds water!

I began to gather things I thought would work for the shot choosing fun things with touches of red.

Not quiet happy with it, I decided to move one of the flowers and pull back a little bit. I have a tendency to fill the frame.

Check out these cool sunglasses. They were my daughter's when she was a teenager.  They're one of the sentimental things I was never able to get rid of. She loved her Coca-Cola glasses!

For one last composition, I took everything out but the can and the flowers. I like this. I like the simplicity and the cleanness of it. This turned out to be my favorite.

Lately, I haven't been able to do the exercise just once. so I kept looking and found a vintage lipstick holder that a dear older friend had given me. Although it doesn't hold water, it was perfect for a little romantic still life.

If you bring flowers into your home,
think outside the box;
put them in something unique.
They will brighten your day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Trains & Boys


Those are a few things you'll find at a train museum

along with
and numerous circles.

Oh, and the textures, they
almost overloaded my mind!

This past weekend
you would have also found my favorite five guys at the museum.

(starting on the top row, going left to right in photo below)

The lighting in this old building, which was originally a train repair shop, was horrible. The ceilings are very high and the lighting was dim. To complicate things there are windows all around the top that sunlight flooded through. The bottom of the building was dark and the upper part was super bright which totally confused my poor little point and shoot camera!   Since I was climbing up in those trains with the boys, carrying the big camera wasn't feasible. Perfect pictures were not important; family fun together was!

The boys liked the diesels, but me, I liked the steam engines. My favorite was the St. Louis Southwestern No. 819. It was the last locomotive built in Arkansas. The locomotive built in 1943 was retired in 1955 when the newer diesel engines made their arrival. The 819 is called the queen of steam, weighs 368 tons, measures 100 feet, takes 150 gallons of water and 15 gallons of oil just to run one mile of track. I actually got to see this engine run at a festival in 1988. It was an amazing sight to see and to hear!

There was so much to see and do. The boys could climb around and play on most of the engines and train cars. There were a few train races going on as they sat in the windows of the cabs and yelled back and forth. When asked who won the race, Aaron said, "It was hard to tell who won the race since we really weren't going anywhere!!" But, it sure was fun to pretend.

Part of this area is still a working railroad. In one of the shops the train wheels were being refinished and repaired. When the wheels were finished they were rolled down a ramp where they bumped into another set. The boys waited for a good while to see the wheels roll down and bump. The sound they made was similar to a giant bell. BONG!

We had such a fun day.
I love these guys
and cherish every moment I spend with them!!