Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Oh, y'all, I am in deep trouble. You see, I asked my new blogging friend, Henrietta Hassinen, where she got her awesome vintage photo frames that she posts on her blog. I had hoped she might share with me either the actual frame file or a simple link where I might download it.

Henrietta was generous enough to share the link, but it came with this caveat: I have bought the picture frame from here Don't freak out when you go there:) My first reaction was like I WANT TO BUY EVERYTHING.

I thought to myself, 'heh, I'll be fine! Don't worry about me!'

Before I could finish saying "Holy cow!" I had purchased five templates from the store. FIVE!

I'm really afraid to go back there. Now I am forced to warn you, too. When you enter that place, be very, very careful. In fact, it's best if you ask a trusted friend to hold on to your credit card while you browse. See, that's all I thought I would do is browse. Pfffttt! Forget about it! Hopefully, you don't have your credit card number memorized.

The only other thing I need to warn you about is that some of the files are png only and some are a combination of transparent pngs and the layered PS/PSE files. I'm not as crazy about the png only files, so if that is important to you, make sure you look for that in the description.

You have been warned.

Note: All photos were taken at the LSU Rural Life Museum.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Feeling Springy!

Spring has got me going in full gear. Also, on my nature walks with Chance, I'm discovering new plants and learning new things about old ones. Even though we had a bit of a cold snap and some drizzly weather today, we still planted two new trees. Mud is everywhere, but our trees look amazing. We didn't get to put the Maple exactly where we wanted because of a gas line, but it really looks great where it ended up. Productivity and hard work definitely leads to a feeling of satisfaction. The real test will be if I can get out of bed tomorrow morning. :/

Below are some of my favorite photos from the week:
Double-petaled impatiens. About 1" in diameter, they look like miniature roses.
Mesquite Tree
Once I learned about all the wonderful attributes of the Mesquite tree, I no longer loathe it. You can read more about what I wrote here.
Chinaberry Tree 
Eve's Necklace, also known as Texas Sophora
So named because of the small black "beads" that form in fall. You can barely see one off to the right. They hang like a strand of pearls. Very poisonous.
Asiatic lilies for my garden. I bought yellow, orange and red. It's a riot of color. We were too tired from planting the trees to get these in the ground, but they will be going in sometime this week.
Autumn Blaze Maple
Our new backyard tree! The leaves are really a brighter green than what's shown here. In the fall, the leaves will turn a fiery red. Can't wait!
Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry Tree
This is another tree we purchased this weekend for the garden. It's an ornamental tree that shouldn't grow too wide or too tall. The branches "weep", cascading with small white flowers. If I can get it to look like the photo on the tag, it should be a show-stopper!
This mockingbird kept coming around as we were digging the holes for the trees. He wasn't afraid at all! We soon realized he probably wanted the worms and grub worms we were uncovering. There were so many! I guess his appetite for worms outweighed his fear of humans.
Okay, so that's a recap of last week. This week I get my first horseback riding lesson! Hubby set it up for me on Thursday evening. I'm beyond excited. Hoping I can get a little photography in also. Don't worry, I won't be riding and snapping photos at the same time. I'm not that coordinated. I know my limits. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tweeter Board

My new blogging friend, Jillsy Girl, is having a challenge on her blog called Tweets Around the World. This has nothing to do with Twitter; basically, she's trying to get 50 different types of birds on her "Tweeter Board" for the month of March.

Go check it out and see if you can help her add to it. As of this post there are 32 birds. Let's try to help her get 18 more. Hurry! There are only 6 days left! I thought I had a new one to add, but she already had a Carolina Wren. Darn! It'll be a hardship on me, but I'll probably go out this weekend to try to help her out. Ha ha, kidding on the hardship thing!!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Chance has always been a mama's boy. Since our Golden Retriever, Spenser, passed away in 2008, we've become even closer. He looks to me for cues about everything: when to eat, when to potty outside, for walks, for bedtime. He usually doesn't make a move unless he clears it by me first. Chance is the epitome of a velcro dog.

Yesterday as I put on my tennis shoes and clothes to get ready for my nature walk with my camera, Chance knew that if he played me the right way, he would get to go. Yeah, he played me like a fiddle with those sad brown eyes and hopeful expression. Off we went to the wooded area that runs parallel to our street.

I'm a huge proponent of leashes, especially in neighborhoods. But when we got to the woods, something told me Chance would really enjoy being off-leash for a while. Against my instincts, I took the leash off. As soon as the leash was removed, his face lit up and he began to explore. Have you ever seen a dog beam with joy? It's a beautiful thing, man.

I love this dog. If ever there was a soul mate from the animal kingdom for me, Chance has to be it. He is the gentlest creature in the world. My chihuahua, Sparky, is pretty mean to him a majority of the time and Chance patiently puts up with it. I keep telling him he's bigger and he should let Sparky know it, but he'll quietly take Sparky's violent outbursts by turning his head or moving his paw away. Gentle Ben has nothing on Chance.

Chance never strayed far from me at all. If I felt he had gone too far, all I had to do was call his name and he'd come trotting up to me with a look on his face that said, "Yeah mom, I'm here! Need something?"

Perpetual motion. Even though this shot is out of focus, I love how he is eagerly putting that nose to work. Though what he would do if he caught a rabbit or something would be interesting to see. I can't imagine him harming a soul.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photography news and thoughts

Photography news! 
As you all know, I am a bit smitten with photography. I truly believe God has given me this hobby as a way to relieve some of the stress in my life. I'm always super surprised and flattered when anyone notices my photos, so when I was contacted by the Assistant to the City Manager of a nearby town about using my photos, I was literally overcome with emotion. Yesterday I signed the Release of Copyright giving them permission to use my photos of their rose garden. When little things like this happen (okay, a big thing to me!), it makes me wonder if I should pursue photography as a business. But I'm convinced that it would take away my joy when it becomes tied directly to my checkbook.

Thoughts on Flickr commenting
Maybe this should be a separate post, but I'm going to let it fly anyway. I need to get this off my chest, and hopefully you'll have some words of wisdom.

When I first joined Flickr a few years ago I cared not a whit if anyone viewed my photos or left comments. It was simply a repository for my photos to be viewed by those whom I wanted to share my photos with. I had two contacts: my daughter and our mutual friend Jay. And it stayed that way for a long time. If they commented or favorited a photo, great; if not, no biggie. I was free to put anything I wanted out there with reckless abandon.

Then I started Project 365 in 2010. I decided some of the photos were worthy of a group or two. That, in turn, caused a slight surge in comments and people adding me to their contact list, which I happily reciprocated. In addition to being a joy, commenting also allows me to see some beautiful photos that can also inspire.

Going through so many contacts every day takes a lot of time. And when weeks go by without reciprocation, I feel let down. This commenting ritual, while a joy, is also a huge time commitment. To me, it's lazy and disingenuous to leave a one-word comment like "Pretty!" or "Beautiful!" Someone in my contact list started doing that to me (and to others) so I removed her. I can understand every once in a while having to drop a quickie, but every single time? She was obviously using her commenting as a form of currency to get a lot of comments back. I just have no respect for that. Or time or patience.

Now don't get me wrong, I love giving and receiving comments; however, as of today I have 116 contacts on Flickr, not to mention I follow at least 50 blogs. Since the middle of last year I have religiously commented on posts and photos nearly every day. The only time I haven't done it, I was out of town or in my bible class.

I actually look at every photo and leave a heartfelt comment, pointing out all the good things. Lately, I have been sneaking in time during working hours so that in the evening I can do my own photography and post processing work. But this makes me I feel like I'm stealing from my employer even though there has not been enough work for me to do the last couple of years with the economy in the crapper.

I'd like to know if any of you have these same thoughts or feelings. If so, can you offer any suggestions? I've actually considered turning off comments completely on Flickr, leaving me free to only comment on the really great photos or those of my close contacts. I've also thought about paring down my contact list to a more manageable level. I've already pared my group participation down.

I'm not really sure what to do, so I'm enlisting your help. Any words of advice? Should I even be discussing this? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Last day in Baton Rouge

For our last day my dad and his wife suggested we tour the LSU Rural Life Museum. They live in Mississippi and were kind enough to meet us in Baton Rouge so that we didn't have to drive an hour and a half to them. 

I had taken the kids to the Rural Life Museum years ago with my mother when they were rowdy little hellions that I had trouble controlling. One of my boys ended up breaking an antique bottle after which we received a very stern lecture from a nun. Oy. It was a less than pleasant memory. But my youngest boy who was with me on this trip has matured by leaps and bounds since then. I am no longer afraid of taking him places. :)

I am happy to report no broken bottles and a lovely, lovely visit. We learned a lot about how life was lived in mid-nineteenth century Louisiana. It made us grateful for all the modern conveniences we enjoy today.  Of course, I can imagine how our "modern technology" will look in 150 years. People will probably look at our iphones and wonder how we carried around those enormous phones, or laugh at the way it looks. A future generation will wonder how we lived such archaic lives. Isn't that strange to imagine?

*gasp* They actually carved MURDERED on his tombstone. Wow.
Is this some sort of lily? Anyone? They looked like flames in between the tulips.

My dad and Michael acting all gangsta
These enormous bumble bees were everywhere. I loved the way they hovered in the air. Wish I could've gotten a clearer shot.

Chicken coop and outhouse.
My dad the ham, and lover of all sorts of wild creatures and their skulls. :)
Michael, Darleen, Daddy

Young Hermes in Windrush Gardens (part of the Rural Life Museum)
As we sat inside an old church my dad noticed this crawling out from one of the pews and called me over to photograph him. He correctly identified it as a Skink. Notice how one of his nails is overlapping the other one. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Baton Rouge-day three and a story about my mom

Didn't do much photography the third day. More azaleas and robins, with insect mating as a bonus. :)
The azaleas were beautiful and abundant
American Robin

You know it's spring when the mayflies are mating.
Two were going at it when a third one tried to horn in.
It was a wild scene, man.
So I promised the story of my mother's big scare the day after our arrival.

For those of you who don't know, my mother has Parkinson's Disease. Some days are better than others, but the last several years have really been a struggle. Exacerbating the situation is her hiatal hernia. She has to be very careful about what she eats because when her hernia decides to attack, it's pretty brutal. 

It came on with a vengeance.

It got so bad at one point she began begging God to please help her, to please put her out of her misery. As I sat across from her, wondering if I should take her to the emergency room, she asked me to pray. 

My heart raced.

Yes, I am back in church and getting closer to God, but praying out loud with or over someone has never been a strong suit of mine. I hear people saying these beautiful, eloquent prayers, and know that my own prayers fall far short.

So I clasped my hands and closed my eyes, praying silently that God would give her relief. Quickly. After a few minutes I made the sign of the cross, letting her know I was done. She thanked me.

But she kept getting worse. (So much for my prayer!) I told her we would have to go to the ER. She refused, saying they would just keep her waiting for hours. I explained that if she gets dehydrated we're going to have a big problem, and at least at the ER they can set up IV fluids, even in the waiting area. No, she was not going.

My son sat next to her and held her hand. It was a sweet moment and a dark moment all at the same time.

As the minutes and hours wore on, it was becoming clear that a call to the doctor or visit to the ER was eminent.

She then asked the unthinkable: she begged me to lay hands on her and pray. Yes, she asked of me the one thing I am terrified of: praying out loud specifically for another. 

I remembered I had downloaded the Book of Common Prayer on my Kindle. I began searching in the table of contents for Healing for the Sick. As I was looking, she said, "Hurry! Can't you just say something?!"

I felt like a failure, but no sooner had she said that, I found the section for healing. With my son still sitting beside her, we both placed our hands on her as I read the following:

Betty, Mama, I lay my hands upon you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, beseeching our Lord Jesus Christ to sustain you with his presence, to drive away all sickness of body and spirit, and to give you that victory of life and peace which will enable you to serve him both now and evermore. Amen.

I read two more prayers after that for good measure; one called for anointing with oil, but even though I didn't have any oil, I read through it anyway.

Not long after that, the cheesecake she had for dessert came up. Usually, I am vomiting along with whomever is vomiting, but I found myself cleaning her and the floor up with no problem. No gagging even. I still can't explain how I was able to overcome my normally weak stomach.

She was finally able to rest. Although she said it would take her several days to get over the attack, she felt almost back to normal the very next day.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm not giving myself any credit here at all. In fact, I am rather ashamed of my part in the whole thing; for my hesitation, my unwillingness to do what I knew was right. This is a glaring weakness of mine that I need to work on if I'm going to walk this talk.

On further thought maybe I'm missing the point. Perhaps God wasn't looking for eloquent words, but at my heart. Because in my heart I knew our help had to come from Him. And it did, despite my shortcomings.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baton Rouge-Day Two

Michael and I decided we wanted to go for a nice walk around LSU Lakes. It's one of my favorite places to go for nature photography and hiking. I had no idea we would see so many birds! Michael was very good about finding them for me and being quiet while pointing them out. As you can see, I hit the jackpot!
This American Robin let me get very close while he foraged on the ground. I got about 30 photos and could have taken more, but I actually grew bored. Towards the end I was lying on the ground for a different perspective.
My sweet, adoring husband helped me identify this one using our bird book. It's a Green Heron! I didn't even know such a bird existed. If only I had that 400mm lens. :/
Michael going down to the water's edge.

Still trying to identify this one. Any clue? 
Hairy Woodpecker, female  
Hairy Woodpecker, male  
Around the lake are beautiful, expensive homes. This particular one had a fleur-de-lis fence in front of it.