Misty Belle and Mr. Quinn: Mom, we're glad you decided to get a fresh tree and that you decorated the pencil tree in the living room. Me: Aww, you're welcome pups.
Misty Belle and Mr. Quinn: Are you glad too mom?
Me: Yes, I'm glad I was able to put my vintage French postcards on the living room tree, and I know I will love having all of the family ornaments on the live tree in the family room once I am done putting on the lights.
Misty Belle: This postcard with the roses is my favorite!
Me: This one is my favorite, the people are all dressed up like they are going to a holiday soiree!
Mr. Quinn: I like the Bingo card that Linda sent you last year!
Me: Me too Quinnie!
Me: And I love the old felt stockings my mom made us, this one was for my Nanna, she would have loved you guys!
Misty Belle: Mom, you said you felt guilty not decorating this year, what is guilt?
Me: Well Misty Belle guilt is...oh nevermind, guilt is a beautiful thing this year!
Me: Misty Belle?
Misty Belle: Yes Mom?
Me: You better take another look out that window and see if Santa is on his way!
Update: A live tree, new stand, and new lights (though not enough) now grace our family room, so tonight's project will be getting more lights and trimming the tree. Though I don't say this often, ok, never, the guilt which led to us getting a tree really will be a beautiful thing when it's all said and done! :)
Some of you have been so sweet to inquire about my whereabouts of late. It's been a crazy kind of holiday season, but I'm still here, still trying to get my act together. We went to visit my in-laws in the Midwest for a few days, and although I did some decorating the day before we left, I still don't have my tree up yet...a first for me! My birthday is in early December and so having the tree up by then has always been the tradition.
We have had an artificial tree since my father gave us his after my mother passed away 9 years ago. I used to be horribly opposed to fake trees, and I would threaten every year to get a fresh tree, but somehow the convenience always won out.
Then a few days ago when my helpful husband brought ours in from the garage, we realized that even fake trees have limited lifespans. He called to me after dragging it around from the garage to our back door to bring it in and gave me the grave news. He motioned towards the floor and the plethora of fake needles scattered about...not a good sign. And then he asked if I thought it smelled musty...another bad sign! He then mentioned that some of the branches were irrevocably broken, and it was then that I felt both joy and sadness.
Sad because I was geared up to finally decorate the tree, but kind of secretly joyful that this year we would have a real tree again and the smell of frasier fir filling the air once more. I know you can buy candles and sprays to mimic that smell, but to me they are poor substitutes for the real deal.
A few days passed, we went shopping, ostensibly for a tree, but each time we never made it to get one. So today we both looked at each other and realized Christmas is only a few days away, and asked ourselves...do we really NEED a tree? The kids are grown right? We have very few presents to wrap and put under it, but that's a whole other post, so, why do we need a tree?!
And, I reasoned, we have a beautifully lit blue spruce shining brightly each night in our front yard, and we relegated our partially defunct former tree to the back patio, which looks lovely all lit up through the doors each night. Not to mention the fact that I got a wild hair before going to Indiana and brought in an old pencil tree (think skinny) and put it up in the living room, where it's still sitting unadorned and rather pitiful looking.
Now, I could decorate the pencil tree, but it can't possibly hold all of our ornaments, and how am I supposed to choose which ones are special enough to make the cut?! Plus, let's not forget the tradition I started years ago of giving my children a new ornament each year to commemorate something meaningful about the year, plus an ornament to honor my parents who are deceased! I guess the kids can unwrap them and carry them around all day instead of hanging them on the tree...sure, that could work! *rolls eyes*
So you see, it appears that we will be schlepping out tomorrow to find a tree, which will cascade into needing lights, a stand (yup threw ours out in the move), and whatever else I decide we "need" in order to satisfy my inner Martha Stewart!
I wonder if this eagle I captured a few days ago is eyeing the crazy woman who took his or her photo and wondering what all the fuss about a tree is about. Eagles don't seem to have any trouble finding a tree they like and making the best of it...ahh to be an eagle! ;-)
I hope all is well with you and that your trees are up, decorated, and sparkling brightly!
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my house! After a whirlwind few weeks with no end in sight, I managed to get everything decorated except my Christmas trees which will have to wait until this weekend. And there is still tweaking to be done, such as adding live greens and throwing out the pumpkins which still grace my front porch, but the majority of my holiday decor is out and ready to ring in the season.
And in other news, the new special double spring issue of Romantic Country is, or soon will be, out in stores. I was fortunate to write two of the home stories in this issue, and I can tell you first hand that not only were the homes beautiful, but the people who live in them are too! My favorite part about being a writer for home magazines has to be the wonderful people I meet...they are the best! If you are able to get your hands on this issue, I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoyed writing them!
With Thanksgiving just a few days away I have much to be thankful for. First off I had yummy food to eat all week including the juicy grapefruit pictured above...sometimes the simple things in life are the best!
On Thursday, I finally found out that someone did in fact choose my artwork at the fundraiser last month. I was thrilled to hear that someone liked the picture enough to want to hang it in their home or office!
I am thankful that the weather was warm enough last week for me to sit outside with the dogs a bit and capture some bird images...I just never tire of seeing them flit from tree to tree. The weather has taken a dramatic turn and is now very windy and cold, so I'm grateful for those sun filled warm days we had.
And I was happy that I felt like doing some post processing and playing around with one of the images of a bluebird. I'm always grateful for the bluebirds, they were one of my mother's favorite birds and always remind me of her.
But more than anything, I am grateful that my husband returned from a trip to Russia safe and sound. His job is very demanding and he often goes to far flung places with just a few hours notice, so it makes life interesting and sometimes a little stressful. When he left last weekend we weren't sure he would be home in time for Thanksgiving, but as luck would have it he was able to come home last night, which was earlier than expected, and for that I am so very thankful!
I'm pretty sure that in the photo above taken early last week, Quinn was wishing that Mr. Tide would come home soon...he is thankful to have him home too!
When I took the dogs out this morning it was still dark outside with just a glimmer of light coming from low on the horizon.
As I rounded the side of my house to head back inside I was met with this glorious sight, so of course I had to go grab my camera.
It seems that mother nature doesn't really require any sort of post processing or Photoshopping, she's taken care of that for us. Just as quickly as it came, it was gone, but the happy feeling it gave me has lasted all day. Not a bad way to start the day don't you think?!
Autumn is still alive and well here at my house. Though fading, some of the trees have stood steadfast against strong winds and heavy rain in order to share their vibrant colors with us a little longer. I never tire of this view, no matter the season.
And I especially love the time of day I have named "evenglo." It's the time of day when the sun has dipped low on the horizon and the light it casts is strong and mellow. I love it most during the spring and fall because the sun's angle allows the light to fall perfectly on the trees and rose bushes along our fenceline.
We actually get our most beautiful sunsets in the wintertime since the sun dips gently into the river from behind the trees.
Unlike the summertime, when the sun sets across the field after a long days work, the wintertime sun retires early and with a more gentle slipping away each evening. The long shadows she casts seem more determined and vibrant somehow than her summertime alter ego.
Thank you all for your kind words about my friend who is ill, I truly appreciate them. And I hope that each of you has a wonderful week!
I don't have much to say right now. Earlier this week I heard very sad news about the health of a dear, dear friend, and it has left me quite speechless and hugely sad. Sad for his family, sad for him, sad for myself, and sad for the world.
As I drove home from a visit with another dear friend who is 88 yesterday, I heard the song below. Even though the lyrics say "I'm giving up on you," I wish they said "I won't give up on you!" because that is how I feel about my friend who is ill. Even though not all of the lyrics convey how I feel, some of them do and the melody somehow made me feel calm. It is a reminder that we all need to take a moment and say something to those we care about, because not only will it mean something to you, but others around you who really need to hear those words will know you haven't given up on them!
Today at lunchtime, two bucks decided to duke it out in the field next door to determine who was truly the king of the forest. Their locked antlers clanked as one would lunge and the other would parry in reply...it was as if two swashbucklers were vying for control of a pirate ship in a 1930s film!
This time of year is rutting season, and these eager white tailed bucks will stop at almost nothing to have their way with the does. They will run straight out into the roadway, lose track of where the hunters are, and even run themselves ragged in the pursuit of this quest.
The dogs barking finally ended their epic battle and what appeared to be the larger, and most likely older of the two bucks ran off into the woods with the buck pictured above and below following closely behind to ensure his victory.
Then, as if he was re-enacting a scene from a Rocky movie, the winner did a victory lap around the field, and across the road into the other field before returning to head back into the woods to assert his new found dominance.
As you can tell from the photos above, he was exhausted, panting heavily and snorting to remind everyone that he had won, and that no one better mess with him...including us! We keep a safe distance this time of year, because as you can see, that rack could do quite a bit of damage if he decided to challenge us or the dogs.
I wonder how the females feel about all of this? I'm sure their instincts tell them this is the natural order of things, and his male bravado will likely be rewarded based on years of evolution. It was quite a sight to see, and I'm glad the buck decided to stop here so that we could witness it!
Yesterday was beautiful, bright blue skies, warm temps, and hardly any wind, so we decided we should take advantage of this gift and go out in the kayaks at least one more time before old man winter shows up for good.
Mr. Tide was the driver, and I was a happy passenger with my camera as we, or I should say he, paddled all around. Part way out, the skies changed and it actually rained a bit, but our spirits weren't dampened since the changing leaves were so lovely, especially when reflected in the water and against the dark, ominous sky!
Last night our daughter stopped by for dinner and a movie, and we ended up watching a documentary called Gotta Dance. It was about a group of seniors who became a dance team for the NJ Nets NBA team.
In the movie, the team members ranged from an elementary school teacher to a woman who owned a small dance studio, and everything in between. It was great to see these people, some of whom were in their 80s, take on the challenge and change their lives in the process. Lots of them felt like they had reached an age where they weren't getting any younger, so why not do whatever they wanted, and because they all loved to dance, it seemed like a perfect fit!
It served as a great reminder that no matter what age you are, you can still do whatever you want, even if it may seem silly to everyone around you.
I often get asked why I don't post more SOOC (straight out of camera) shots, why I feel the need to "mess" with my photos. It seems that a lot of people out there think that photos should be just that, perfect realistic images of whatever you are taking a picture of, and I get that, but that's not me.
I enjoy taking something that is photo realistic and then turning it into whatever I want, making it into something I thought it could or should be. For me, that is the fun of photography, the ability to change things, to mold them into whatever I want.
In this post I have left all but the last image at the bottom as they were SOOC, except for cropping. And although I feel like it's so very important to take good images, and not think to yourself...oh I can fix that in post processing, I still love seeing an image and imagining what I can "do" with it!
I guess it's like life, you need a good foundation to start from, but then the possibilities are endless if you want them to be.
As the clouds moved in yesterday I could have been bummed and thought, "let's just head back in, these shots will be too dark and I will need to crank my ISO up so high that everything will be a grainy mess." Instead I cranked up the ISO and hoped for the best. I mean, how often do we get to go out in the kayaks in early November...so why not at least try?!
Image after having a little fun with it!
Maybe that's why movies, videos, song, and stories about people saying "why not" and doing something they weren't sure about but do anyway are so very inspiring and popular. So, the next time you think...I'm too old, too dumb, too whatever...just say WHY NOT and go for it!
“The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility.”
― E.E. Cummings
A turkey buzzard obliged me with some shots back in September that I kept tucked away waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them...and what better day than today, a day when all things creepy, spooky, and frightful will be afoot when the sun goes down.
Man, you people are the best, no I mean it, the absolute BEST! I can't even get over all of your sweet comments and encouragement you've left me over the last week. If anyone ever needed a reason to blog, all they have to do is to look at the unconditional support so many give when they leave comments, it's like a big shot of kindness topped with a huge helping of heartfelt love...so thank you one and all!!!
So...about the art show, and trust me, you aren't even going to believe this, but I swear it's true! Last week Mr. Tide went to the eye doctor because he's been having issues with allergies throughout the summer, but it had gotten worse and his eye was somewhat bloodshot so he went and had it looked at.
When he got home he informed me that he had developed an infection, but that the doctor said not to worry because they see this sort of thing happen a lot during the change of seasons. Good enough we thought, and he began his eye drops to take care of the issue so that he would be in tip top shape to go with me on Sunday, which was still a couple of days away.
Then on Saturday morning I woke up with one bloodshot eye, but we thought, well I must have gotten something in my eye, because we had changed sheets, scrubbed everything in sight, just on the off chance that it was contagious. And he had caught his infection so quickly that there was no way it could have transferred to me, plus I didn't have the allergy issues he had which brought his on in the first place!
So I called the eye doctor, who promptly informed me that there wasn't anything he could do, but he would see me on Monday. I explained that I had an art show the next day, and that he had prescribed drops for my husband just a day or so before, so could he please help me out...the reply was a kind but firm...see you on Monday!!!
So as weird as I was about not wanting to go to the art show 3 weeks ago, the moment I knew I COULDN'T go, I was dying to go! Yes, I'm so weird sometimes, and when I'm told I can't do something, well then I'm determined to do it...go figure!
When I woke up on Sunday morning I actually ran into the bathroom to look in the mirror to see if my eye had gotten better, but it was actually worse. So here I was with the perfect outfit to wear, freshly cut and colored hair (I had my hair appt. on Wednesday), and we had even made arrangements for someone to let our dogs out!
I thought I would be relieved to have to cancel, but instead I was like a caged animal all day long wondering how the night would go and thinking that it was worse not knowing than it was to go!
So, to make a long story longer, we didn't go, and I have no clue whether or not my eagle picture was selected by anyone! I sent an email to the organization that hosted the fundraiser and they sent me a very polite reply saying that they would be sending out letters to all of the participants next week, to let each of us know the status of our artwork...ie. yay yours got picked, or hey come pick your artwork up!
The irony of this whole thing...the picture I donated was called Eagle Eye...and it was my eye that kept me from going!!! Oh, and see that pretty picture of the water and the fall foliage up above?! Well my friends, that is how I got the infection to begin with! Despite my crazy sanitizing efforts to rid us of any chance that Mr. Tide could infect anyone else, we neglected to clean the eyepiece on my camera!!! Yup, the man almost NEVER uses my camera, but just a few days prior he took it out and snapped a few shots of the trees overhanging the water and an egret...which none of those shots turned out!
The moral of the story, well there isn't one, except that my husband should stay away from my camera (I'm kidding), and that just when you think you don't want to do something, well something may just prevent you from doing it, and you'll wish like heck you could have done it!!!
I've spent the last few days putting drops in my eyes 4 times a day, washing my hands every 20 seconds, and going nowhere. I've watched lots of movies though, and I did wander around in the backyard a little, so all's well that ends well...and besides if I was feeling a little blue I was always able to read your wonderful comments!!!
I hope you each have a very happy week, and when the letter comes bearing the good news or bad about my artwork, you'll be the first to know!
I have so many wonderful comments and emails that have been left for me over the last few days, and I want you to know that I appreciate them all! I also want to welcome all the wonderful new visitors who have come here via Kate's blog!
I've been busy since last weekend working on magazine stories which have had very tight turnaround times...just a few days in most cases. I think this style of writing might be best for me because it gives me less time to "write" each piece in my head for weeks, which I've been known to do.
But it has made for a little less sleep this week, including the fact that I interviewed one homeowner until 1:30 in the morning - the interview didn't start until after 11 pm because of scheduling issues and deadlines. The funny part is, we talked for 2 1/2 hours and never even spoke about her home, so we spoke again the following morning for another 3 hours and this time covered all the house stuff.
It has actually been a while since I've done any freelance writing, but doing these stories has reminded me of how much I miss meeting these amazing homeowners. What ends up in the story that goes to print is just a fraction of what I find out about these people and their homes, and I love hearing all the interesting tidbits and back stories on the items in their houses which reflect their style, their history, and what truly makes their house a home!
Also, I have made a huge leap by stepping outside my box over the last couple of weeks and I've pretty much made some end roads into blasting so far outside my comfort zone that I can't even really see it in the rearview mirror. I am actually participating in a fundraising art show this weekend, and I have to admit that I'm kind of terrified!
The fundraising concept is pretty cool...a bunch of talented local artists donate pieces of their artwork and each piece of art has a minimum value of at least $185.00. Then, buyers purchase a ticket for $185.00 (or $150.00 for members of the art organization) and that ticket admits 2 people to a reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks, and they get to go home with one piece of art. For the week prior to the reception, ticket holders are able to preview the artwork available at the gallery, and rank their favorites. To make it fair there are a few more pieces of art available than tickets sold, and over 100 pieces of artwork have been donated to date. Are you still with me?...I swear this isn't a word problem!
On the night of the fundraising event, which is held in Annapolis, Maryland, the ticketholders then come to socialize and choose a piece of artwork based on a lottery system. So if they call your ticket number first, you get first pick of any piece of art at the event...and even if the artwork is valued at $500.00, for the price of your ticket you get to go home with that piece of art! Pretty cool, eh?!
Here is where the nerves come in...as an artist, if as the lottery progresses and pieces of art get picked, if your piece isn't being picked, and the night is drawing nye, well you get the picture...it's kind of like being picked last for the sports team back when you were a kid! That analogy was actually listed in the testimonial from one of last years contributors....yikes! Of course if you hear huge sighs from the crowd when your piece is picked, well that could be quite a confidence booster, so it could go either way.
Even though this whole thing makes my stomach churn, I have committed to go to the event and hope for the best! If things go great I will hear sighs, and if not, I will be coming home with my image which is one I had printed on metal and is still one of my favorites, so I have to look at it as a win/win. And I also look forward to meeting face to face with someone who loves my art enough to pick it...something I've not really gotten to do since so many of my sales are done online, or through retail outlets, such as galleries and wonderful shops!
So, if you are still reading this, thank you, because even I'm a little confused after all that typing about my neurosis! Knowing that I've been a little on edge, my sweet husband came home yesterday with a beautiful batch of sunflowers, the ones pictured in this post! He knows me well, and he knows that for me, flowers have healing powers...so until I set foot into a room full of art enthusiasts on Sunday, at least for now, I am calm.
I hope that each of you have a wonderful weekend, and that you find your own sense of calm, or at the very least a big bouquet of flowers to brighten your world!
I am a mom to 2 wonderful children, wife to an amazing husband, loved by 2 fluffy puppies, a freelance writer, fine art photographer, and a lover of all things beautiful which I hope to share with you here on my blog.