Photography Challenge Week 2: Straight Out of the Camera

I’m running a little behind on my posting, but I have a really good reason. Just in case you have forgotten or didn’t know, I live in a Chicago suburb. And, as Januarys are wont to be, it’s pretty cold here. AND — my furnace went out last week. More on that later, but today’s post is all about Photography Challenge Week 2: Straight Out of the Camera.

This week’s challenge as described by the Dogwood administrators:

WEEK 2 Technical: SOOC Straight out of the Camera. No Photoshop. Shoot a compelling image and post it without edits. No cheating! (Be sure and save the image file for the end of the challenge!)

I took these photos with the challenge in mind, trying to get the best light I could and to crop in my camera rather than in post-processing. All of them would improve with some processing, so I look forward to touching them up later in the year. I’m not really a big processor, but I do improve lighting, color, and almost always do some cropping on my photos.

Tiny Tavern table flowers Navy Pier

Taken at our table at the Tiny Tavern on Navy Pier in Chicago, this photo does a decent job of following the rule of thirds. It’s the best of the four I took.

Quilting tools

I’m part of a crafting group at our church and I loved the POV on this photo of the quilt patch and the quilter’s tools.

Crochet project

The craftwoman’s hands as she starts a new crochet project.

Next up on the photography challenge:

WEEK 3 Artistic: Land Your inspiration this week is land. This could be a landscape, or an image inspired by the land in some way.

Link up your photos in the comments or on my Facebook page if you want to participate with me. I’m always looking for constructive criticism and I know you will be kind.

As far as the furnace story goes, it took us three visits by the repair tech and two replacement parts to figure out what was wrong with our furnace. We were early adopters of a high-effeciency heating system and over the years our furnace has saved us a lot of money in gas bills. Since we sign up for a service contract every year, we have also received both warrantied parts plus labor and discounted replacements over the years. This time was a doozy — with our tech finally figuring out that we still had a first-generation electronics board when most of them have been replaced over the years because they failed. Carrier is now on the fifth-generation board for this furnace — versions one, two, three, and four were all faulty in some way or another. The tech never thought to even check the serial number on our board because he just assumed it had been replaced long ago. The board was unable to talk to our fancy thermostat and eventually just gave up in disgust and shut down the furnace. Obviously it was a relief to get it fixed, and then today, our tech came back again for our maintenance check and to fix our humidifier, which was also not working. I have asked multiple times if I should just replace our aging furnace, and our guys keep saying no.

I’d say that I’m assuming they know what they are talking about, but my experience this week tells me that assuming makes… wait for it… an A** out of U & Me. 🙂

Did you watch the first episode of the new PBS series about Queen Victoria? It looks good so far, and sent me and my friends to the internet to look up all those tangled family trees that got her on the throne.

Have a wonderful week!

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What’s In A Word?

Click into photo for bio and photo source

Click into photo for bio and photo source

Anyone who’s been around me more than a few minutes knows that I love language — its sounds, its clarity and lack of clarity, and its anthropology. A friend of mine sent me an article about learning Potawatomi, the language of an indigenous American people who are now scattered to the winds in “a tribal diaspora” — as the author puts it — and the language of her ancestors.

I loved Robin Wall Kimmerer’s understanding about the Potawatomi people’s language and their relationship to the earth — their language gives life to inanimate objects. In this excerpt, she talks about how a noun moves to a verb, giving it animacy. The language lovers among you will totally “get” Kimmerer’s thrill when she sees the relationship between language and the natural world.

An electric current sizzled down my arm and through my finger, and practically scorched the page where that one word lay. In that moment I could smell the water of the bay, watch it rock against the shore and hear it sift onto the sand. A bay is a noun only if water is dead. When bay is a noun, it is defined by humans, trapped between its shores and contained by the word. But the verb wiikegama–to be a bay–releases the water from bondage and lets it live. “To be a bay” holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots and a flock of baby mergansers. Because it could do otherwise–become a stream or an ocean or a waterfall, and there are verbs for that, too. To be a hill, to be a sandy beach, to be a Saturday, all are possible verbs in a world where everything is alive. Water, land, and even a day, the language a mirror for seeing the animacy of the world, the life that pulses through all things, through pines and nuthatches and mushrooms. This is the language I hear in the woods, this is the language that lets us speak of what wells up all around us.

Click here to read the entire essay on The Daily Good.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a botany professor at SUNY Syracuse in New York, and has published several books and essays. Here’s an interview with her in a podcast. Fascinating!

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Duvet Day

I had a duvet day today.

From Pinterest -- original source unknown

From Pinterest — original source unknown

Frankly, I did not know that there was such a thing as a duvet day, but the picture tells the story. I’ve been known to stay under the covers all day and read, but today’s tale is not one of reading in bed. I was actually trying to get something done!

The big snuggly down duvet needed cleaning. It was only the hottest day of the summer so far, but I was determined that I needed to get this off the floor and put away for the summer. Did you check the date of today’s post? Summer is practically over, although it doesn’t feel like it today. Even after four years of retirement, I still think in “teacher calendar.”

I let my fingers do the driving first, and found a web site that said I should wash, then rinse the duvet twice, followed by many dryer cycles to be sure all of the feathers were fully dry. Otherwise, they would mold, being a natural product. It was also suggested that I put tennis balls in the dryer to help fluff up the down.

Music Man had some money left over on a laundromat debit card, so I went there first to see what type of extra-large washers and dryers they had. Two of each – check. The card had $1.03 on it and the place was kind of sketchy. Maybe not my best choice of the day.

I knew of another laundromat that a friend recommended, so I went there next. This place didn’t use a debit card, only quarters. The large washer was $4.50 per wash, so that would be $9.00 in quarters just to get the duvet washed and rinsed thoroughly. I couldn’t even bear to count up how many quarters it would take to dry the sucker.

I did a quick check on the price of tennis balls on Amazon – I was in the car and took the easy way out. Another two bucks.

On to the next option.

Imagine my relief when I discovered that my local dry cleaner would do the whole duvet for $19.99. Add it up, friends. It would cost about the same to wash that thing myself, plus the hours I would spend in a laundromat waiting for it to be done.

I went home, stripped the duvet cover off the comforter, and read the tag. DRY CLEAN SUGGESTED. Bam!

There’s a reason why God created convenience retailers. Let this be a lesson to you.

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A Whimsical Garden

Our local garden club recently sponsored a garden walk, and of course I took photos galore. Entitled “A Whimsical Garden”, this homeowner creates yard art out of dishes and glassware, and she has a particular fondness for fairies. Her home is easily recognizable when you drive by because of its charming decorations.

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One can’t have a whimsical garden without a fairy garden!

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I loved the gardener’s use of ordinary green florist’s vases to create OZ.

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There has to be a patriotic corner.

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This vase tree (instead of a wine bottle tree) is perfect for the gardener who does not want to show the world how much wine she drinks. 🙂

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Peacocks mix their beautiful color with the greenery.

So many ideas, too little time. But isn’t it lovely to imagine having even one of these whimsical pieces in your own garden?

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Spring Flowers in the Garden

As soon as it is reasonably warm enough to walk safely and comfortably, I like to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden at least once a week. I am lucky to have this amazing public garden practically in my back yard — it’s only about a 35-minute drive and as a member I get unlimited entry.

With the promise of a perfect day and glorious spring flowers in bloom, I headed up to the CGB with my camera, set on manual mode. I was determined to get some practice using manual rather than program or automatic modes.

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I saw a beautiful yellow finch in the parking lot, but this was the only bird that I captured in the park.

I saw a beautiful yellow finch in the parking lot, but this was the only bird that I captured in the park.

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Pinterest Sort

If you are like me, your Pinterest board is a mess and you can’t find things when you want to add pins.

After three weeks in Europe, I have a lot to add to my travel boards, but I was despairing of how to easily access boards and also to clean up duplicates.

I discovered this Chrome extension and it works magically. I can’t believe I never did this before.

How to Arrange Your Pinterest Boards in One Easy Step

Try it. It’s a life changer.

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Giant Water Lilies

Did you ever see giant lily pads up close?
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I’ve been looking at these lilies all summer and focusing on their brilliant flowers.

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Since the flowers are mostly gone, my camera was attracted to the structure of the actual leaves.
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Without the flowers, the photojournalist (moi) was able to see the reflections in the water and how the lily pads inhabit the pool in which they live.

Sometimes life is all about perspective.

Here’s a lengthy explanation about the Victoria amazonica, which these appear to be. The photos were taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illininois.

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Pity Party and Plans for the Future

Sometimes it takes a pity party to reboot your life.

In the last month or so, the following things have happened to me, and they resulted in my spending a lot of solitary and moody time on the couch reading and watching movies and television.

  • My son told me that I was never going to get anywhere with my blog if I didn’t focus my topic. He’s a social media expert, so I imagine he is probably correct.
  • My physical therapist told me that my knee probably isn’t going to get much better and that I’m going to have limitations with my range of motion in my surgical knee no matter how much I exercise it.
  • I realized that wearing a Fitbit has positive and negative aspects. On one hand, I love the documentation of one’s life because I’m a born and bred social historian. On the other hand, the Fitbit also hands up my failures on a social media platform for me and my Fitbit friends to see.
  • I blew up at a party when a friend made a political “joke” that hit a nerve.
  • A dear friend told me that I have to get off social media and stop worrying about what other people think – including the comments sections of political posts on Facebook. I encounter so much hatred and ignorance that it makes me frustrated, and resulted in my rude behavior on Easter.
  • I missed seeing two annual flower shows that I love because I really didn’t have anyone to go with. My friends are all busy and interesting people with their own lives and it’s very hard to schedule activities together. Having active lives should be a good thing, but not if I have to wait to do something because we can’t schedule a time.
  • I read three books with bloggers as the primary characters. They were well written and the authors clearly had knowledge of the blogging world, but it made me look at blogging success through different eyes.

So, I’m declaring the pity party to be over, and this is what I’m doing to change my perspective. Continue reading

Favorites of the Week

I’m back again with a bunch of totally disconnected bits and pieces that piqued my interest this week. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

Home decor
  • While looking for wire plate stands that hold more than one plate, I discovered this gorgeous plate holder at Bed Bath and Beyond. I don’t need it, but it’s beautiful and someone among my French decor friends must have to have it to complete her look!
Click into photo for source.

Click into photo for source.

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Book Talk: Tidying and Memorizing

Today I’m going to talk about a book and about a family story. The book made a real impact on me, and it cleared the way for me to memorialize a family story without keeping the artifact. That’s what this book is all about.

Tidying Up Book

Click into photo to connect to my Amazon Associates link.

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