Thursday, May 26, 2011

Deep Thoughts

I saw this quote on Flickr. If anyone knows who to attribute it to, I will be happy to give credit as I've Googled to no avail.
The torn paper texture is by an inactive account at Deviant Art.
Font is called Sunshine in my Soul.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Slideshow and Project 52

In my spare time I have been working on a slideshow of my trip. I have published and unpublished it so many times that I've lost count. Either the flow wasn't right, or a picture didn't pan correctly, or I'd decide to change the music. On the last viewing I discovered I had typed "Oak Bottom" instead of "Oaks" Bottom in the description. I'm not a total perfectionist, but accuracy is fairly high on my list of priorities. The other thing I'm not happy about (but I refuse to change), is that I used the resized images with watermarks. I like using the Ken Burns effect (pannning and zooming of images), but if you have a watermark, it will get cut off unless you adjust each frame. Who has the time?! Using smaller images means that if you view it on full screen it's going to lose a lot of clarity. The next time I do a slideshow I will save a copy specifically for that purpose before resizing and slapping on my watermark. Live and learn. :/

There are so many more photos, but they must wait until I have more time to work on them. If you have 3 minutes and 41 seconds, I'd be honored if you'd watch my slideshow. Music is Brahms: Serenade #1 in D, Op. 11.

Here is my submission for this week's Focus 52 and Photo Feature Friday.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More Portland

Because I have SO many photos, I am trying to put together a video. I was up until 1AM putting the finishing touches on it...went to bed thinking it was finished, then decided I wanted to change a couple of things around for better flow. Anyway! Here are some more photos that I want to share with you all today.
I always chuckle at the way a squirrel becomes immobilized when they first see you. It's like I'm a cop, my camera is the gun, and I say "FREEZE!"
I could not get over the large, reptilian-looking appendage on this little gosling. A gosling is a young Canadian goose, btw. I think I'll call this one Ryan. :)
Bridge at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
I have never seen such abundant azaleas. I thought Louisiana had the prettiest, but Portland's are thicker and more colorful, I must admit.
Great Blue Heron with tiny fish. 
Crustose lichens grows on a lot of trees there. It's a type of fungus/aglae.
Rhododendron bloom
Tree Swallow at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, Hillsboro, OR
My daughter and I were able to get incredibly close to the tree swallows. Love their bluish-green iridescent feathers. When the light hits it just right, it's so pretty!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guess Who?

Jillsy Girl sure knows how to put on a blog party. There's always something going on at her place! The idea is to see if any of the participating photographers have a signature look. Jill asked for submissions and put together a mosaic with a list below of who the photos belong to. Sorry to say I am not too familiar with some of the photographers, but I will try to check them out tomorrow to see if I can pick up some clues. In any case, I think it's a great way to meet other photographers and bloggers. Thanks, Jill for hosting!
What a diverse and beautiful mosaic of images, no?
It just so happens that each of the above images came from a different photo-blogger.
Can you pin the photo to the blogger based on their individual photographic style and/or content?
Let's have a little fun and see if anyone can guess them all correctly!

Here is the list of bloggers who contributed one of the above photos
Even if you are not familiar with a particular photographer
please take a few minutes to browse through their blog, say hi, then come back here and leave your guesses below
 On Blogger blogs, the "dynamic" view has been linked for easy browsing. 
To leave a comment on their blog, just delete /view/mosaic in the URL window to get to their homepage you go
and enjoy the photoblog tour while you're at it!
It's guaranteed you'll see some excellent photography!

Have Fun!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Oh my goodness! Where to even begin? My birthday trip to Portland, OR was amazing. Usually I don't like to make a big deal about my birthday, but when I enter a new decade, that's kind of a big deal to me. So, hello 50! There's no turning back now! When I was younger I had this idea that I wouldn't live past the age of 36, so to be 50 and feeling pretty good, is a huge accomplishment.

This will be a short post with a few photos to whet your appetite. :) I took 960 pictures, most of them with the new 100-400mm lens, and I was pleased with the quality of most of them. This means hours and days of sorting and processing, but the ones I've processed have needed minimal work, which is very nice.
View from Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Gray skies, but still beautiful
While there I saw lots of brightly colored and creative hairstyles, a girl who exposed her entire derrière as she left a restaurant, had my credit card stolen, trudged until our feet and backs ached, drank coconut chai tea, ate meat pies, explored until we could explore no more, and spent precious time with my only daughter who is the sweetest person you could ever meet! And she is a bird enthusiast and photographer just like her mother! Love that girl so much.
Autumn enjoying the scenery at Tryon Creek State Park 

I would love to post more, but my boss has asked me to edit photos for a landscaping book that he is having printed. Yay! This is my favorite thing to do. Just wish I could work on my own photos. :/

Monday, May 9, 2011

Updates before I leave...

Upate #1: Last Friday hubby wanted to celebrate his birthday by watching the Texas Rangers play the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Rangers didn't get the memo. Oh, they were there on the field, dressed, looking like professional players and all, they just didn't show up to PLAY BALL! But afterwards there was an awesome fireworks display which made up for the loss. Hubby also met up with two of his financial advisor buds who sat two sections over. We had a great time despite the lackluster effort from the team.
Look who threw the first pitch! I had fun texting everyone that I just shot Matthew McConaughey. My son texted back and told me to put the gun down and turn myself in. :)
Harrison was really struggling. I believe he pitched 6 innings before they finally pulled him out.
A-Rod and Jeter. I have another very clear one of A-Rod but he' his...uh, trousers. 

Update #2: On Saturday I had planned to clean the entire house, do laundry, shop for my trip, and cook a big pot of chili for my boys to take home for meals next week. I tackled the dirtiest job first--cleaning the bathrooms. Afterwards I became extremely ill and spent the rest of the day on the couch moaning and groaning and running back and forth to the bathroom. It wasn't pretty.

Update #3a: By Sunday, I was feeling marginally better so I did my best to ignore the stomach cramps which persisted (but not as bad as the day before) and went to the grocery store to gather things for the Mother's Day BBQ. I even went to Kohl's to buy some jeans for my trip. I am happy to report that I was able to buy one pair of jeans in a size 8! I am 5 lbs. away from my goal weight that I set last May. And if I continue with whatever illness I've acquired, I may get there by the end of the week. :/

Update #3b: Although my daughter wasn't able to be with us, it was a pleasant afternoon. It made my heart happy to hear the boys say how much they miss their sister and how our family gatherings aren't the same without her. I remember the days they fought like cats and dogs. Now they love and care about each other and it's a beautiful thing, man.

Update #4: Off to Portland tomorrow afternoon where I will have 3-1/2 days with my daughter. I am so excited to see her and also see some of the things I missed on the last trip. She is so much fun and we pretty much like the same things. On Saturday when I hit the big FIVE-OH I will return to Dallas to hopefully spend time with my boys and whoever else might join us at our favorite Mexican restaurant!

Y'all be good while I'm gone now, ya hear?! Until then a few more bird and squirrel photos:

What seeds? I don't see any seeds.

Doesn't this remind you of ET?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Challenge-Childhood

I've written a lot about my childhood and how utterly dismal it was. The only bright spot was my first dog, a beagle I named Cocoa. He was a gift from my father who had unknowingly given me something that would remain forever in my heart: the unconditional love of a dog. The term "dog" almost seems beneath these loyal, devoted beings. I'd rather think of it as God spelled backwards.
Cocoa was more than a dog to me. He loved me and SHOWED it every single time I went outside. My mother was a clean freak and didn't allow animals in the house, so Cocoa was an outside dog. Being an energetic child, I wanted to be outside all the time anyway, so it was a great partnership. Cocoa was always very protective of me, barking, growling, and snapping at anyone who came near, even my parents. My mother used to wear a belt around her neck before going outside to smack him if he tried to bite her. You can even see in the photo that he is trying to snap at her while she takes the picture. Unfortunately, he bit our neighbor on the leg one day as he was giving me a ride on his new motor scooter. My parents had separated by that time, but my dad came over to take Cocoa away shortly after. I have never forgotten that day, sitting at the edge of my bed, weeping hysterically after watching the look of confusion on Cocoa's face as they drove away.

From that day on, I vowed to always have a dog in my life. And I have.

This was submitted for Jillsy Girl's Childhood Challenge. Go check it out if you have time!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother lode

1. Mining. a rich or important lode.
2. a major or profitable source or supply:
New York City is a mother lode of actors;
the Dixon backyard is a mother lode of birds.

Tee hee. See what I did up there? The Dixon backyard has become quite the bird haven of late. We had our first unusual visitor over a week ago: a Baltimore Oriole. Oh, man, was he purty! But my camera battery was charging and there was no memory card in the camera. By the time I got everything in place, he flew away, never to return. That's okay, because today we saw our first Indigo Bunting (see below). Seems like every week we see a new visitor of some sort.  :)
This is not a textured background--that is rain falling!
Meet Marilyn. Yes, I know this is a male brown-headed cowbird, but doesn't this remind you of that famous shot of Marilyn Monroe standing over the air vent in The Seven Year Itch? It doesn't? Perhaps I need to take a break from photography. :/
House sparrow, female. Used Kim Klassen's Warm Sun texture.
The male house finches lately are such a vibrant red. He's little, but he sure stands out in a crowd. Used the 'Love' texture by Kim Klassen. 
Aaaannnnd..........we have a new visitor! The Indigo Bunting! Isn't his coloring brilliant? My husband was vacuuming the kitchen and hollered for me to come see what was feeding on the ground. He is a little bitty thing! I said, "How'd you even see that?!" Hubby said he noticed the bright blue moving around on the ground. He finally perched on our tree so I could get a halfway decent shot. I hope he comes back because I know I can do better.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

400mm Heaven, Part II

My Saturday morning began with a visit from Mr. Bluejay, and it got better from there. This was taken about 50 feet away through my kitchen window.

Hubby wanted to go with me on my nature excursion so we went to my old standby, Nob Hill. I was hoping to see more of the Yellow-crowned Night Herons, but they weren't in the same spot as the day before. We walked a pretty good ways down the hiking trail and found them. A whole family! Off I went into some tall weeds, being as quiet as possible. Finally, I got to the edge of the embankment, sat down, and observed. I didn't care about chiggers, bugs, or snakes. My focus was on these birds and their behavior. They are fascinating! And beautiful.
Patiently waiting to spy a fish

In mating mode
This poor guy started heaving and threw something up. It was a white clump and I missed getting it with my camera!
Spotted Sandpiper
Hubby also took me to Josey Ranch Lake Park where we spotted this Fox Squirrel foraging on the ground. When he saw us he scampered up a tree and assumed this position. He was probably about 10 feet up so I was able to get pretty close for these shots. Poor little guy looked exhausted. I'm guessing a possible acorn overdose as well.
Can't a squirrel get any rest around here?
That clicking sound is making me very sleepy.

Mute Swan

I'm glad we went out yesterday because it is storming here today. I've got a choice: process more photos or clean house. Hmmm....I know what I'd rather do. Please don't drop by my house for a surprise visit anytime soon. :) Off to church now! Later gators.