Thursday, October 8, 2015

7 year blog anniversary

Today I am entering my 8th year of blogging.  Really hard to believe.  I know for the past couple of years I have hardly blogged at all due to a larger preoccupation with breast cancer, and pain management, but hopefully that will change over the ensuing year.

Thanks to all of you who are still following my blog, and making comments.  I really appreciate all of you, and enjoy continuing to read your blogs, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: Learning To See Creatively; Design, Color, and Composition in Photography

This is the 3rd edition of Bryan Peterson's book, Learning to See Creatively.  Filled with all new images, and focusing on the new world of digital photography.
The book is designed to help you view the images in front of you in a new manner.  It deals with the elements of design: line, shape, form, texture, pattern, and color.  Concentrating on these elements will force the eye in new directions, thus making for new and exciting images.
In the Composition section, it teaches about the important "rule of thirds", teaching you how to compose a striking picture.  More importantly, maybe, is the idea of breaking all these rules and being a maverick when composing your own shot.
There's a section on "the magic of light", suggesting the same picture be taken at different times of day, producing different results.
Also, at the end, there is a small section which deals with Photoshop, and some how-tos associated with that.
I can't say that everything in this book is new and exciting to me.  As a photographer for the past 40 years, I have explored many of these things along the way.  It is a nice book to share with your photo group, if you have one, giving suggestions that would be appropriate for a photowalk where you concentrate on a particular subject, like textures, or color.
The photoshop tips at the end seem a bit cheesy to me, and the subsequent photos are a bit overdone.
It is a good book to refresh old ideas you may have had.  If you are a novice, it steers you in the right direction for creative photography.
For more information about the book and author, please click on the following links.

  • More Info
  • Author Bio
    I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
  • selfies

    I don't take selfies.  I don't own a cell phone, so don't have one of those small gadgets to hold in front of my face to snap away. Not sure I would even do that if I had one!  I shoot with one of the heavier dslr's, the Nikon 800.  Pretty impossible to hold that with outstretched arm to capture selfies.  Once in a while, when I'm with Melissa, I will hand her the camera and ask her to take a picture of me with Logan or some such, just so I can have a remembrance of the day/event, etc.  I believe a photographers place is behind the camera, not in front of it.
    People seem to be a little obsessed with taking pictures of themselves.  I see now that they even sell these sticks to place your cell phone camera on, to get a wider view.  I can understand maybe taking a pic of yourself with a friend or child..... at least someone else, but what's with all these self absorbed people shooting themselves?  Are you really that interesting?
    I've seen pictures of people shooting smiling selfies when visiting the memorial space at ground zero of the WTC.  What the hell, people?  Have you no common decency for sacred ground?  What are you smiling about?  I can understand taking a photo of the place itself, as a remembrance, to show you've been there.  But get out of the picture!  Use some common sense.  Do people take smiling selfies while standing next to gas chambers at Auschwitz? I'm afraid they probably do.
    I'm glad I'm not part of the madness.

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    It's that time again

    Past midnight now, and so it is October 1st.  I am fully aware that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Of course, I have been aware of breast cancer each day of my life for the past two years. It started with my diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer in September 2013.   It is two years ago this month (the 11th) that I had my double mastectomy, with 21 lymph nodes removed on the right (affected) side.  I chose to have my left breast removed as well, as a prophalactic measure, and because I knew that reconstruction would be more "even" if both breasts were "made" the same way.
    I was aware of breast cancer throughout my many months of chemotherapy, when sleep was my only savior.  I was aware of victory over cancer when my PET scan came back clear after chemotherapy.  Still, with 19 out of 21 lymph nodes positive for cancer, I had to have 35 rounds of radiation.  I was concientious and persevered to get there every day, five days a week, rain or shine, and there was a lot of rain.
    I was aware of breast cancer in the ensuing months, awaiting my reconstruction time, during which I endured the major discomfort of "expanders", rigid against my chest wall, stretching my chest skin, to accomodate the eventual placement of breasts.  It was like wearing a 3 sizes to small underwire bra, 24/7.
    I was aware of breast cancer as the surgeons drew on my naked body with sharpies (or maybe something not so indelible) just moments before my 7 hour surgery for reconstruction.
    Aware of breast cancer as I woke up, still intubated, in SICU, having suffered acute respiratory failure, moments after my operation.
    Aware of breast cancer each and every day since that operation, as I am one of the unfortunates who is suffering pain and severe discomfort even this many months after. 
    Aware of breast cancer each time I look at my right arm and hand, swollen from lymphedema.
    Aware of breast cancer when I look in the mirror.
    Aware of breast cancer every 8 hours when I take my cocktail of meds designed to ease some of the pain.
    So, do yourself a favor.   Get a mammogram.  Examine your breasts every month.  I pray that YOUR awareness need only happen once a month, and on a yearly basis.  The odds of becoming free of cancer are amazing, especially if caught early, but I hope you never have to travel that road.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2015


    Today I am sorry to say that my sister had to put down her beloved cat, Bad.  He was 20 years old and was quite sick.  My sympathies go out to her, and I know how hard it is to deal with this outcome.  Bad had a good and long life with you, Tree, and he was very happy all his days.  Someday in the the distant future we will again meet up with all our 4-legged loved ones at the Rainbow Bridge.

    The Rainbow Bridge

    By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
     Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
     Where the friends of man and woman do run,
     When their time on earth is over and done.
     For here, between this world and the next,
     Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
     On this golden land, they wait and they play,
     Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
     No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
     For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
     Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
     Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
     They romp through the grass, without even a care,
     Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
     All ears pricked forward, eyes dart front and back,
     Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
     For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
     Together again, both person and pet.
     So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
     The time of their parting is over at last.
     The sadness they felt while they were apart,
     Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
     They embrace with a love that will last forever,

    And then, side-by-side, they cross over . . . together.

    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    Book review: instant Happy journal

    When I first saw this book, I was instantly attracted to its compact size, and cheerful design.  As I held it in my hands, I enjoyed the not quite hard-, yet not quite soft-cover.

    At 365 pages, instant Happy journal (365 days of inspiration, gratitude, and joy, by Karen Salmansohn, has the potential to be a wonderful little book.

    What will make it wonderful, you ask?  Well, the answer is:  You.

    At the top of each page is a space for the date.  Beneath it is an inspirational quote, an affirmative suggestion, or a thought-provoking passage.  This is followed by about a dozen short, blank lines to be filled up by you.  It doesn't ask a tremendous amount from you, just a few lines to start the day (or maybe end the day) with a focus on joy and gratitude.

    It is an easy book to carry around with you, if you want to wait for just the right moment to write your passage.  Take it to the park with you, or to your favorite little coffee shop.  Writing a new paragraph, or reading over previous ones, will surely bring a smile to your face.

    At the end of a year (maybe more, maybe less.  How you utilize the book is up to you) you will have a little treasure of your own personal Happy.

    I received this book from Blogging for Books , for this review.  For more information, see the following links:

    Friday, September 4, 2015

    late summer getaway

    Spent a few days away with my sister, niece, and great-nephew, at a campgrounds in Pine Grove, PA.

    (click on any pic see larger size slide show)

    my sister going down the slide

    Melissa going down the slide

    mother and child under a raining mushroom

    (The following pictures taken by Melissa)

    the water felt healing

    me and my beautiful great-nephew, Logan

    throwing rocks

    eating s'mores

    cuddling with grandma

    Mr Praying Mantis came to visit

    Friday, July 3, 2015

    an old friend

    When I was 16, I was in my Junior year of High School.  On the first day of classes we would fill out delaney cards, which the teacher would refer to when getting to know the student's names.  Mr. Thompson, my World History teacher, said we could put down a nickname if we wanted, too.  I turned to the girl sitting behind me... small with very long dark hair and  eyes.  "What would be a good nickname for me?" I asked her.  "Sunshine!" she said, her smile beaming.  I was known throughout the rest of my high school days by that bright name, and become life long friends with the young woman who gave it to me; Amelia.  It is a friendship that has now lasted over 45 years, and even if we don't see each other for months, we take up right where we left off, and there is no love lost, only gained.
    Today I visited with her, along with my sister, niece and great-nephew.  Her daughter, Mia, and new grandson, James, were also there.
    The pic of me and Amelia is unfortunately pretty blurry (hey, I didn't take it!), but I'm glad to have it.

    Amelia, an artist, gave Logan art supplies to play with.  He kept himself quite busy.

    Mia, and sweet baby James at 6 months.

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    more watercolors

    Here are some more watercolors, including a self portrait that doesn't much look like me.


    still life

    northern lights

    sour diesel haze

    diving into a waterfall

    self portrait

    downtown window view 

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    Graduation Day

    These years go by so quickly.  I only hope that I am still around for a couple more of Logan's graduations.  Yesterday he graduated from Kindergarten.  A lovely ceremony. They entered to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance, which always chokes me up.  The children each said a few words at the microphone, and then sang songs for us, including one in Spanish.
    Logan is a smart and loving boy, and I am so happy to be part of his life.  I love him so much.

    last walk to school as a Kindergartener

    some fellow classmates

    with his shadow portrait

    paying attention

    reciting his lines

    getting his diploma

    with mom

    with mom and dad

    with dad

    with grandma

    with me