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It's the first day of spring and the flowers in my front beds are blooming.  This week they really just came up out of no where and opened up to the world.  I couldn't resist sharing them with you. As I mentioned in my post "I Spy Something..." my Mother helped me plant these flowers last fall.  It was really special to me to be able to spend that time with her.  Although I spent most of the time watching her plant these flowers since I was recovering from surgery, it was just nice to sit and catch up.  These days it's pretty rare that we get time together, just the two of us.  While we were together she told me a story about one of her fondest memories of me as a little girl.  She also told me how she told herself at that moment that she had better remember it.  While she said this I was thinking the same thing about watching her plant these flowers.  I thought to myself, you have to remember this, don't let this memory slip away.  And lucky for me, I have a beautiful reminder.  Each spring, when these flowers bloom, I'll think about that weekend with my Mom and how we planted these together.

Another memory that the flowers in our yard bring, is that of Speed Racer's Grandfather.  He planted most of these flowers, and since I've moved here I've tried very hard to maintain them.  But he must have used the front flower beds for annuals because they were empty before we planted bulbs in them.  Last night though, Speed Racer turned to me as we walked by them in twilight, and said "My Grandfather would have loved to see those flowers, they're really nice.  You did a wonderful job."  That meant the world to me.  When you move into a house that was owned by a family member it's hard to balance the "This is now your house" and the "This holds lots of memories."  So when I look out at my front yard and see the flowers, it just makes me smile.  I just look out and see Speed Racer's Grandfather, and his love for nature; my Mother and I, and the bond that we have; and our future...small little children picking flowers in the front yard.  These are the best parts of home ownership: dreaming, making memories, and keeping memories alive.



I Spy Something...

GREEN!!! Back in October my mother and I spent some time planting bulbs in my front flower beds.   And by my mother and I, I mean, my mother.  This was during the time that I had my tonsils removed, so I was in recovery.  I had a very important job though...I pointed where the flowers should go...yeah...important.  But I digress.  So all through the winter, I was worried they wouldn't come up, and the beds looked all tucked and cozy but well...brown. See Exhibit A.  You really can't tell much is going on there.  But if you look really reeeeally close... can spy some green.

And maybe even a few buds coming up...

And then this is the point where I go, "hmmm I can't remember what type of flowers I planted...hmmm."

But the more I look, the more I see! They're everywhere.  This winter has been a long one and I am so ready for spring to say hello.

In our other bed there is even a tinsy tiny bit of color.  Just a wee bit.

Just enough to remind me that spring will be here soon.  I don't have long to wait.



It's for fun

Did you know photography is fun?? Crazy! I know.  But it is in fact fun.  Here is a teaser of some shots that I took a couple of weekends ago.  It was a sunny weekend, and it was nice just to go and take some photos for fun.  You should try it sometime.  For realz.



Winter Wonderland

I woke up this morning to freezing rain, super icy conditions, and almost busted my bum when I decided to "test" the road.  It's still pretty gross out there and since I live on a back road, it's taking a little while to clear up.  So while I enjoy my hot coco and snuggle with my kitties, I thought you might enjoy the beautiful sunrise that I experienced yesterday morning.




Cows, Cow tails, and Cow pies

We all know it's not nice to make faces behind people's back, especially cow's backs, I prefer to make faces...TO THEIR FACE.  Okay, random I know, but I thought the above picture warranted a comment.  Moving on. As I have mentioned before, I live in a weird no mans land of city and country.  We've got cows, as you can see, but Target is literally 3 minutes from my house.  It's a little strange.  But these cows in particular always keep me entertained.  They're located on my way home and I constantly get to see new baby cows which I usually identify by screaming "BABY COW!!" out the window while I almost drive us into the ditch and Speed Racer tries to pretend that I have kidnapped him and he doesn't really know me.

This little family is so cute.  Big Bull, pretty Momma Cow, and cute black and white patched baby cow.

This lady was a curious one...

And a grumpy one...

And a pretty one.

Poor little guy was trying to avoid me and got caught all alone.

Most people who work with cows will probably think I'm crazy, but I think they're interesting.  Their faces have such great expressions that make fantastic pictures.  It made for a fun afternoon taking photos of some cows, cow tails, and unfortunately cow pies.


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E is for Elephant.  I don't know how many times I said that this morning.  Learning the alphabet is an important part of children growing up, but it can also be a helpful exercise for photographers.  Not just because, "Me photographer, me need to know how to speak and write," but for many reason.

The other day I went out and about Knoxville and tried to find letters.  I had a specific word in mind because that helped me focus a little bit more.

But you would be surprised how hard it is to find letters, "in nature."

I love this exercise because it makes you look at the world differently.  It's a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I encourage you to try this, even without a camera!  It really helps you "see" objects not just how they are but as how you would like them to be. (Deep, right?)  So in the end I ended up with the word I wanted.

I'm still going to play around with the letters more, and also try to find some more letters.  Feel free to share what you find!

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

It's a beautiful evening here in Knoxville, TN.  It's that time of year when you can feel the change in the seasons.  Summer is on it's way out and autumn is pushing it's way in.  I love summer, with all my heart, and I'm always a little sad to see it go.  I also love fall.  After all, my birthday is in the fall.  I love birthdays too.  I would be perfectly content if it would just go Spring, Summer, Fall...Spring, Summer, Fall...and skip winter all together.  As I was sitting on the back porch, pretending that I was not getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, I was thinking of how this week so far has brought a little bit of everything.  There's some good...there's some bad...and there's some ugly. Let's start with the good.  Good thing #1, pretty weather and beautiful evenings.

Good thing #2.  Speed Racer in a fit of "I'm tired of mowing around this," last night, demolished our little weird patio thing we had going on.  Now it looks like this....

So that's some progress.  I too hate mowing around that thing.  Good thing #3.  Speed Racer passed his motorcycle course and is now road worthy on this lovely piece of machinery.

I think it's hot.  Nuff said.

Good thing #4, and I have no pictures for this one, is I got a part time job!  Just call me Nanny McPhee, or yeah, something like that.  I will be babysitting/nannying two little ones each morning.  I start tomorrow, so as always, I'm a little nervous, but excited all the same.

The Bad.

So it's really not that bad, the bad and the ugly are going to be kind of combined in this section.  One "bad" thing is that due to my new job, etc, the blog might be a little crazy here for awhile.  I am still totally dedicated to it, and will desperately be trying to write every day, but if I slip...don't blame me.  Okay, well you can blame me, but don't point your finger at me.  Not a finger!

The Ugly.

I have chronic tonsillitis.  I have to have a tonsillectomy.  I have to have it two days before my birthday.

Like I said, the bad and the ugly kind of mingle on this blog.  And I swear, this is the least gross, but representative of what I have, photo I could find.  It's icky.

So, still more good than bad or ugly.  I'm not looking forward to my surgery but definitely want to get it over with.  I'll keep you posted, and wish me luck on my first day as a nanny.

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Camera Basics: Let's talk Composition

As in any art there are some basic rules that help you understand what is good and what is not good.  In photography there are some basic rules of composition that help you discover why the eye looks to certain parts of a photograph...what draws us to that point?  But really, for me, I love to break the rules.  And after all, they're just guidelines. One of the most famous rules of composition is the rule of thirds.   Basically you want to imagine that your photo is divided into nine equal segments by two horizontal and two vertical lines.  You want to put the point of your focus along these lines or at the points where they intersect.

Another example.  At times however, I feel it is fine to break this guideline.  Sometimes it works to have your subject right smack dab in the middle.

Another thing to remember in the rule of thirds composition is that if you do not want that sense of emptiness in the rest of the picture, it is sometimes nice to balance out the other space with other elements.

Another guideline of composition to keep in mind is perspective.  What are you intending the viewer to see?  This is one of my favorites.  Do you want to take the picture from up close? Far away? Above? Below?  Right on the level?  Anyone can just snap a picture but determining what is important in the photo is up to the photographer and your unique "perspective."

The human eye is also drawn to patterns and repetition.  You can draw the eye of the viewer by capturing unique patterns and where they end.

Another composition element similar to capturing patterns is the use of the natural line.  Our eyes follow lines, we follow lines all day long, so naturally we try to find the source.

Another interesting element of composition is the use of natural frames.  This could be a doorway, a window, trees, arches, or anything else that frames an interest.

Depth is also effective.  Here there are layered elements that keep the eye moving in the photograph.  First the field, then single tree, then tree line, mountains, and finally sky.  It would probably be even more effective if there was something more prominent in the foreground.

Cropping is the most direct compositional element.  You are simply saying as the artist, this is what I want you to look at.  Nothing else is important.  And it's quite effective.

Finally, the last composition element is background.  Having a simple, non-distracting background lets the viewer enjoy what is in the foreground.  Photography is a 2-D art, and so even though our eyes might easily separate what is in the foreground and background, it is harder for a camera lens to do so.  Get rid of the distractions either by focus or moving location, so that you can focus on your subject.

Those are some of the main composition elements to think about when you're getting started.  You can mix and match them, isolate them, or just plain ignore them if you'd like, but sooner or later they will sneak into your photographs without you even realizing it.

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Summer Surprises

I have to admit I was not in the best of moods when I woke up this morning.  I did not want to wake up.  I did not want to run.  I did not want it to be blazing hot.  I did not want to do anything productive.  Lucky for me, Speed Racer has motivation, and I have guilt.  As soon as he's out of bed I know I have to get up or forever feel like a bum.  I rolled, literally rolled out of bed, my old runners feet creaked and popped as I shuffled down the hall on the hardwood floors.  I pulled on my running clothes and poured some cereal.  Hunched over my frosted mini wheats, my eyes finally peeled open. I still really wasn't awake on my way out the door.  It was hot, the humidity engulfed me to the point it was hard and thick to breathe.  My glumness transferred to the weather.  Everything looked brown, everything was crusty and dead.  (This is how lovely I am in the morning.)  As I walked towards the road, this caught my eye.

A beautiful lily was just opening up, still covered in morning dew.  I smiled.  Flowers always make me smile, especially stubborn flowers that just try to carry on no matter how hot it is.  This lily was there going, "I'm a flower and I'm going to bloom, dagummit."  I started to run and as I ran it was like little flowers opened up to me everywhere.  Blue, white, red, and yellow just peeped out from all the dead foliage.

As I ran I was reminded of how last Lent, I decided instead of giving something up and being sad about how I couldn't have chocolate, to dedicate a time each morning to come up with five different things I was thankful for.  It worked amazingly well, I felt so grateful for all that I had been given, and it got me out of the habit of just saying, "I'm thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, my home, and my kitties."

I really enjoy trying to figure out the little things I'm grateful for.  The small changes in life that make it surprising and lift my spirits.  So in the hopes that this lifts your day as well as mine, I encourage you to write down ten unique things you are thankful for today.  Here is my list:

1. I am thankful for stubborn flowers.

2. I am thankful for the shuffling sound of my running shoes on pavement.

3. I am thankful for curiosity and that I still have some.

4. I am thankful for furry paws that greet me every morning.

5. I am thankful for late night talks.

6. I am thankful for fingers gently moving through my hair.

7. I am thankful for the feel of sun on my skin.

8. I am thankful for funny emails from friends.

9. I am thankful for hugs that take my breath away.

10. I am thankful for smile wrinkles.

Oh! And #11.  I am thankful for my camera so that I can share pictures and my random thoughts with you! Happy Wednesday everyone!



Hello, Monday

The day after coming back from vacation is always a rough one for me.  I have a sense of "coming back to reality"and trying to play catch up, while really all I want to do is go bask in the sun. There are good things about coming back from vacation though.  It's always good to realize you're home, to be kissed hello by a husband who maybe, (maybe) missed you, and to sleep in your own bed again.  But even then, I usually spend the first week back, thinking about my vacation and smiling at all the great moments.

This vacation my family and I spent at Pipestem State Park in West Virginia.  We stayed in a cute little cabin at The Resort at Pipestem, and were fantastically isolated in the woods.  It's always hard, for me, to find a balance between activities and just being lazy on vacation, but this time I think we got it right.  We usually got about one activity in a day, whether it was cards, playing life, archery, hiking, boating, swimming, or horseback riding.  There was even a little mini golf...I won't tell you my score, because I would just hate to brag that much.  And between it all I was able to get some couple portraits in of my Brother Jack and His wife Pockets, but more of that later.

If you've never been to Pipestem State Park, I highly recommend it.  The park is clean, there are a variety of places to stay from the lodge to tent camping, and the staff were all really nice.  So without further ado, here is a lovely mix of our activities.  Sorry there aren't more of the swimming, archery, etc type activities...I had my hands a little full.