A Confession

For as long as I have been blogging . . . 

(And even before that.)

one of my annual goals has been . . .

Become Proficient With Photoshop.

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I had the software (the full-blown version, mind you) loaded on my computer.  

(I even upgraded once or twice.)

I took classes in using Photoshop.

Live classes.

Online classes.

I'd learn how to use it.  I'd create all kinds of great effects.  Basically, I'd edit the crap out of my photos.

In class.

For my assignments.

But I just never used it on my own.  It seemed like . . . just so much trouble.

So my new-found skills would get rusty.  (Again.)

And then I'd feel bad.  (Again.)

And, each January, declare that this . . . THIS would be . . . The Year I'd Become Proficient in Photoshop.  (Again.)

It has become achingly, painfully clear, though . . . that it just ain't gonna happen.


You know what I did?

I Kon-Mari'd it!

Yep.  I uninstalled that sucker.  Because No Joy.



The photo above?  Lake Michigan waves crashing over the South Haven pier last Saturday.  (And not edited with Photoshop, by the way.)


Stepping Way Out

Last Friday, I stepped way, WAY outside my comfort zone and went to an all-day, outside "sketching" workshop . . . 

in an unfamiliar location

with not one person I knew

sketching (publicly)

I'm still not sure what possessed me to sign up and go, exactly.  (Although I've always wanted to be able to sit and sketch a landscape.)  

(And . . . because journey.)  

So I went.

I got a little bit lost on my way there.  I almost just bailed and turned back for home.  

(But I didn't.)

The location turned out to be a fabulous private garden property (way out in the country on a totally unmarked road, which led to the getting lost part) that made me gasp at every turn.


I delighted in exploring the grounds with my gardener's eye.

And I was so very glad I had my camera with me (because sketching alone, for me, would never have done the place justice).


It really was a perfect day -- comfortable weather, not too much sun, bird song in the air, and lovely vignettes and vistas . . . 










Most of the other workshoppers just plopped down in front of some incredibly picturesque view, got out their easels and their watercolors, and sketched/painted the day away.


I was a bit more restless (and a lot less accomplished).  I moved around from place to place . . . and mostly sketched various leaves.


(Because . . . just beginning.)

The very-patient-and-incredibly-supportive instructor kept phrasing all of her feedback to me with the following statement, "for those returning to the visual arts after a very long pause."  (Cracked me up every time!)


It was a lovely day, all the way around.  I'm glad I didn't head home when I got a little lost, because the overall experience was worth a little personal "thrashing about."  (Journeys are just like that.)


This winter, we're having some fairly extreme freeze-thaw cycles.

Very cold.
Lots of snow.
Warm respite.
A little melting.
Very cold.
Lots of snow.
Warm respite.
A little melting.

Rinse and repeat.

The result?  Lots of ice.  Often under the snow.  (Also lots of potholes.)

And this . . .


Ice art!

Right Now . . . July 2014

Here in my neck of the woods, we're having a weird summer.  It . . . sort of . . . hasn't really gotten started yet.  Cooler-than-normal.  Wetter-than-normal.  Just sort of . . . different from usual.  So, it doesn't feel possible that it's already the end of July.

But it is!


Here's what's happening for me. . . Right Now! 

Watching . . . A History of European Art.  Seriously.  I purchased one of those super-duper-on-sale Great Courses.  I'm trying to cram a whole lot of art history into my brain before I travel to Italy in a month.  (Wish me luck.)

Reading . . . Just finished Thunderstruck and Other Stories (Elizabeth McCracken) - an excellent collection of short stories, if you like that kind of thing -- and Song of the Lark (Willa Cather) - which was . . . kind of meh.  I liked it - but not as much as I expected.  (I liked My Antonia MUCH better.)  I also read Doctor Sleep . . . as compelling a Stephen King novel as I've read in recent years.  Now, I'm settling in with what might be the ultimate in "cozy mysteries" - Death of a Cozy Writer (G.M. Malliet).

Knitting . . . Now that I'm finished with this knit, I'm ready to cast on for yet another shawl.  This one, to be exact.  The yarn is wound, the proper needle found.  Just haven't had the free moments to get started!  I'm also only inches away from finishing another of these.  (This one has an interesting lake story.  Someday I'll share it.)


Listening to . . . Tanya and Dorise.  These New Orleans street performers are incredible -- and their CDs are quite awesome.


Dreading . . . Shorter days.  Because it doesn't quite feel like I've had enough summer yet.

Planning . . .  A trip to Holland (Michigan) this weekend to take in Art in the Park with my Mom (an annual event for us) -- and maybe I'll see Brian, too.

Humming . . . This one . . . (it popped up on my iPod the other day). . . 


Wondering . . . Why it took so long for me to get back to my yoga class!!!  (Whatever the reason, I'm really glad to be back.)

Drinking . . . Every day! (But just a little.)

Itching to . . . Cut my hair a little bit shorter.  (Dare I?????)

Needing to . . . Deal with the bark beetles in my Austrian Pines.  Our yard has many (20+) Austrian Pines.  Many of them are succumbing to bark beetle damage.  I need to get some dead trees taken out -- and figure out if the rest of my trees can be saved.  (This is rather heartbreaking, and I'm in denial.)

Organizing . . .  My sister and I are headed to Italy in earliest September.  I'm converting all my documents and notes and websites into an Evernote file, so it's all easily available on my phone and/or iPad.


Delighted by . . . One of my orchid plants is getting ready to re-bloom!  This has never happened for me before (despite a long history with orchids).  I don't know what I did to encourage this activity, but I'm thrilled!


Inspired by . . . The changing sky.  We've seen some beautiful sky-scenes this summer -- clouds and storms and sunsets.  It seems I'm always running inside to grab my camera!

Celebrating . . . My "see-you-next year" check up with my oncologist!  (Things are looking good!)


Pleased with . . . Although I really do prefer my summers to be more . . . well, summer-y . . . I must say that the weather has been perfect for running!  Who would've thought that late-July running could be so comfortable!?!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?


Picturing . . . POSSIBILITY

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
                                                                                            ------  Marcel Proust


Last month, the One Little Word project had us turning to images . . . to "picture" our word.  So.  What does POSSIBILITY look like?

For me . . . POSSIBILITY looks like this:








You can't really set out to take a picture of POSSIBILITY. . . but you can find pictures of POSSIBILITY all around you!  Plants growing where they ought not.  Reminders to explore, to wander.  Visible evidence of an emptying out, of making room for something new and different.  Trying new things.  Learning new things.

There are visual reminders of POSSIBILITY all around.  We just need to have . . . new eyes!


As a side note, I usually struggle with the "creating-a-scrapbook" portion of the OLW project.  This year, I'm finding it quite liberating to just do my own thing instead . . . and incorporate the prompts into my journal.  It still looks a lot like "scrapbooking" I suppose, but it's not a prescribed format.  It's MY format.  And, apparently, that makes All the Difference for me.



Right Now . . . February 2104

Let's just make this perfectly clear:  I am SO DONE with winter.


Like . . . totally finished and so glad to have arrived at the end of February.  (Although March isn't looking any better.  At least initially.)

What's happening in my world . . . RIGHT NOW?


Watching . . . The next Polar Vortex roll in.  (Seriously.  This needs to end.)

Reading . . . Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda.  My kind of read:  all characters and dialogue; short on plot (because, really, plot is overrated!).  Also The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.  Which I love for all the reasons I love Huck Finn.


Knitting . . . These charming little mitts . . . out of my leftovers . . . while I decide on a sweater.  Because I'm in the mood for a sweater.

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Listening to . . . a just-found playlist I created several years ago: Kym's Top 100.  I believe I was trying to capture 100 of my favorite songs of all time.  Which was impossible.  And I gave up.  But listening to my attempt pretty much just makes me happy . . . because of songs like this . . .


Dreading . . . a 5K on Sunday morning.  The Winterfest 5K - on March 2 - seemed so reasonable when I registered in mid-December.  

Planning . . . What to wear to run aforementioned 5K.  Because the race kicks off at 8:00 am . . . when the temperature is supposed to be 0F.  (Oh, brother.)

Humming . . . 100 Years from Five for Fighting.  I am a total sap for that song.  (It showed up on my Top 100 playlist.)


Drinking . . . Red wine.  And plenty of it.

Itching to . . . Knit a sweater.  Plant a garden.  Wear my flip flops. 

Needing to . . . Make a move to doing our taxes.

Organizing . . . Said taxes.  And other paperwork.  (The fun never ends.)


Delighted by . . . Waterlogue.  Best. App. Ever.  (I am completely addicted.) (As I'm sure you've noticed.)

Inspired by . . . Color.  I'm tired of the DRAB of winter and I'm seeking out ways to add color to my days.


How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?

Truth Be Told


Right now, in the midst of the Return of the Polar Vortex . . . or Snowpocalypse II . . . or whatever you choose to call it, it's de rigeur to trash winter.  To complain.  To whine.  To roll your eyes.


(Because, really.  It does get old.)

But.  Truth be told . . . I like winter.  (As long as it stays in its boundary, that is.  Come the middle of March, I'll be whining just like everyone else.)

Here's why I like it . . .


1 - Snow makes everything beautiful!  In the winter, here in the north at least, the cold, dormant season is very . . . dark.  Everything is a shade of brown (pretty much).  It's bleak.  And not very attractive.  Until it snows!  And then . . . it all looks magical!


2 - Winter brings a form of visible measurement.  I use informal measurements - there are 12 rings on my garden obelisk (but now you can only see 3), for example.  Or Garden Buddha (who has now completely disappeared).  The Weather People use inches -- as in . . . "Kalamazoo has had over 40 inches of snow in January" (true) or "Kalamazoo has already had 80 inches of snow this winter " (also true).


3 -- There are some beautiful sunrises in winter -- and they happen late enough in the day that I can actually appreciate them.  This sky happened just before our last big winter storm hit.  (Red sky at morning . . . sailor's warning.)


4 -- Snow on trees.  I just love it when snow collects on branches and boughs and berries.  It makes the trees look magical and otherworldly.  I am always charmed by snow on trees!


5 -- Dog joy!  My dogs love to romp in the snow, and it's such a delight to watch them.  (Although Jenny can't this year.  Again.  And that's tough.)


6.  New photo ops.  Sure, your fingers freeze.  But it's fun to get out - with your camera - to see the world with new highlights.


7.  Bundling up.  As Tom loves to say:  There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!  Bundling up and getting out is a great way to appreciate the season and shake off some cabin fever.


8.  Warming up from the inside out.  A cup of tea.  Hot cocoa.  Spicy chili.  A pot of hearty soup.  Nothing beats a cup of comfort on a cold winter day.


9.  Hand knits.  It's so satisfying to pull out the handknit wool socks. . . the scarves, hats, mittens . . . the cozy sweater . . .the afghan.  Winter is the Knitter's Season!


10.  Snow days.  An unexpected day off is a great time to recharge and relax while hunkering down and escaping the elements.

See!  Winter's not so bad now, is it?

How about YOU?  What do you like about winter?


Join the fun.  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.

Serendipity Snaps

Serendipity . . . a happy accident.

I love those chance encounters with wild things out in the world.  Whether it's just the birds and bees and butterflies and other small woodland creatures I find in my garden, or more rare sightings out in my neighborhood or up north, I always consider a wildlife sighting a special treat.

And when I happen to have a camera around, why . . . that's serendipity! 

Like last year in mid-June, this guy came along and devoured my crop of dill in less than 24 short hours.  We found him in the midst of our wild, family Father's Day croquet tournament.  Snap!


On a cool summer day, Tom and I were taking pictures of one of my knitting projects (this one).  We discovered that yellow swallowtail butterflies were snacking in my garden.  Snap!


As you probably remember, I took lots of photos of the Mason bee house I keep in my garden.  One day, as I was shooting the bees, I noticed some heavy duty flitting out of the corner of my eye.  I thought it was a hummingbird, but it was this little guy.  (He looks and flies just like a hummingbird, but is really a moth!) Snap!


We see loons all the time up north at our cottage -- but it's always difficult to get a good camera shot of them because they dive and re-surface at the most unexpected moments.  I was lucky this summer when a loon surfaced - for just a moment - near my kayak . . . and luckier still that my camera was ready.  Snap!


Just before Christmas, we had an impressive ice storm.  I went out with my camera to get some shots of the ice on the trees.  I was busy taking my tree shots, when I noticed some movement lower in the branches . . . and found this bluebird hopping along, right there beside the road.  Snap!


And later that same morning, I stopped to take some photos of Portage Creek, framed by icy trees.  When I turned around, I found several deer . . . watching me.  Snap!


Pure serendipity!


As Garden Buddha will tell you . . .


we had a bit of an ice storm here on Saturday night.

I took my camera out and . . . carefully . . . captured my coated surroundings.

First, in my own backyard. . .





And then out . . . in the neighborhood.





By mid-afternoon, the ice was melted.  

Today . . . a little snow.

(It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!)

12 (Blog) Days of Christmas: On the Seventh Day


On the Seventh (blog) Day of Christmas . . . I bring you images of the season.  (Which works well with Carole's Ten on Tuesday topic this week:  Ten Favorite Things to Photograph at Christmas!)

1.  Decorations that just shout out "Christmas!"


2.  Sunlight when it makes a rare appearance and washes over my space.


3.  Candlelight and twinkle-light . . . when there is no sunlight.


4.  Trees . . . inside.


5.  and out!


6.  Snow . . . when it falls.  (But this year?  Not so much.)


7.  Us . . . when we're all dressed up and ready for a night out.  (Or, even when we're not.)


8.  Food . . . like my sushi plate from a party last Friday.


9.  My house . . . in all it's seasonal finery.


10.  Traditions . . . treasured people and events.

My Star Tree . . . the "match" to my Bird Tree!

How about YOU?  What are your favorite things to photograph during the holiday season?


Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.