Friday, October 31, 2008

Family means everything

Nothing can beat a night with a homecooked meal, laughter, and loved ones...oh, and cake! How could I forget cake? Today is my little brother Jonathan's 21st birthday. You'd have to know us to know how much I care about him. From before he was born, I was anxiously awaiting him, never thinking that my mom would have another child. And then, from the moment I first held him in my arms, I knew how wonderful it would be having him as a part of our family. The gap of 8 years didn't seem to make much difference; we played football together in the front yard and I pushed him on the swing. I bought him his first race car helmet, a plastic yellow toy helmet with a filmsy visor. But he wore it until it was nearly in pieces. Jonathan has always been a little light in my life. And now, he enters the scary world of adulthood where there is no turning back. I worry for him, I smile for him, and I think of all the wonderful things that are still to come. But mostly, I still see the little boy who, on Halloween 21 years ago, became my companion, my brother, and my friend.

Bad lighting, no backdrop, ugly plant...who cares?

I'm with my family another day on earth!

My first glimpse of Jonathan and the first time I get to hold him!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"X" marks the spot

Desperate to stay in the contest, I frantically pull off the road near an old farm and catch the shadows of a fading dusk against a roofless milk house. See the "X"? Whew, thought I wasn't gonna make it for a minute:)

P/S My mom is on Bridget's blog!!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A second look

Sometimes it's hard to find a bright spot in your day. Maybe it's just been a long haul and you forget to look around you and see a spark of beauty in the darkness. I left school today thinking there was no way I could take a picture of something for the blog. I didn't know the boy who was killed in a car accident this morning, but the announcement after school today shocked and saddened me and made me remember the morning I received a phone call 2 years ago saying that two of my students had been killed in an accident. Tragedy always strikes a chord in us because we are all members of the human race and undeniably, we are connected to one another.

Yesterday, I took a picture of the slush on my roof. Today something else was in the same place on the roof, something different. And somehow, I feel hope amidst the saddness.

In oil painting mode:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beauty...and slush!

Well, I'm sure I've noticed by now if you are in New York's snowing!!! I always get a little excited at the first snow. It's a beautiful thing, those white wintery flakes floating and flying through the air making elegant spirals. That excitement lasts about .2 seconds and then, I realize with a groan of despair that I have to drive and I HATE driving in the snow! But today, it isn't too bad and I took Steve's advice and decided to forgo the comfy pjs until I had been outside for a bit. That, too, lasted about .2 seconds before my clothes were soaked, my feet freezing and my hands an alarming bluish color I usually only see on my mother (poor thing, she's always cold!)

But I did get some shots of our first winter fiesta from the safety and relative warmth of my porch and livingroom window. What I like about them is the contrast of the slush and the fall leaves which the wind has blown across my porch and onto the porch roof. I also like th texture of the slush in the pictures, which you kind of have to blow up to see (click on a picture and you will see what I mean). Hope your first snow fall finds you enjoying God's creation and the promise of a new season!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A warm glow

Tonight's picture is just about as warm and toasty as this nice bowl of vegetable beef stew I am having (ummmmm....been waiting for this all day!) This weather is killing me because I love being outdoors with the camera. So all hunkered down in my favorite plaid pants, comfy henley shirt, fuzzy slipper socks and stew in hand, I realized a very inviting glow was eminating from my table lamp in the livingroom. I migrated there like a moth to a flame and starting shooting with a goal to try to capture a soft warm glow, like the kind when you settle into a warm bed on a cold winter's night. Or the kind of glow you feel when you're in front of a wood stove. Or the kind of glow you feel inside being close to someone you love. Maybe even the warm glow of being relaxed, at peace, and settled.Well, I'm not in a warm bed (not even a warm apartment!), I'm not by a wood stove, I'm not near someone I love, and my life seems hectic, stressful, and slightly meloncholy right now. BUT! I am safe and healthy and blessed with more than most people. So here are the pictures from today:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Country mornings and hay

My mom has been begging (okay, maybe not begging) me to photograph these Amish haystacks in a field near her home. Today, I was a bit worried that the fog would hinder the experience, but actually I like how they turned out. Fog to me represents mystery, so I like the stacks leaning against the fog in these pictures. It's silent and peaceful and yet, it tells me there is something more to come.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Little guy puts on a show!

Okay, as I'm leaving for class this morning, I'm thinking, Ick! It's cloudy and dreary out. What the heck am I gonna take a picture of today?! My RPI students? Probably not a good idea...they will most likely still be asleep when I get there. There's nothing exciting going on in the nature department, at least where I was going to be. That left me with a few options: another picture of the wooden giraffe...or...WAIT! Was that a squirrel?

This little guy wasn't too happy to see me at first. He was very chittery (if that's a word) but once he got used to me, I felt like I was taking pictures of a first class model! He kept still for me when I needed him to and his posing is just too cute to pass up. I'm a total animal lover so I really enjoyed the opportunity. Plus, being it is a pretty busy college campus, this little guy probably gets a lot of attention anyway. Hope you enjoy. No sage words today, just a cute furry critter!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A parting of the clouds reveals fall's last glimmer of beauty!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Old barn and old soul...

I've always loved old things...For example, one of my favorite musicians is Billie Holiday. I love black and white films and hearing older people talk about the way things used to be. So the barn on my boyfriend's property really makes for a pretty subject. As nice as the subject is, I didn't feel inspired shooting it. Maybe it was the lighting, maybe it is other things...whatever the reason, I'm desperately in need of one of Trish's encouraging quotes or Steve's positive outlooks. I'm totally in a funk right now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An encounter to remember

So...there I am running around after school trying to get out of there because of papers to grade again, meetings again, and there is one of my students outside waiting for a forgotten ride. Well, I think, I can leave him there....or maybe I should wait. Yes, I should definitely wait. Together, we looked around for pictures to take while we waited. He pointed out the pumpkins and the fire hydrants for interesting ones. We looked at the ugly green fungus on the trees. Then, we just plopped down and talked. I'll tell you, there is nothing like spending time with a kid who needs the time. Without going into details, let me just say this kid has things tough and he is one we as a team are having trouble with. But just that half an hour together, and I feel so grateful for that "forgotten ride". My best pictures today were of him. I think they really capture his attitude, looking out at the future, thinking about the things of the past, acting "tough" but really just needing to get some things off his chest. I hope he realizes someday how strong and capable he truly is...and how things won't always be hard. I hope he realizes his true potential as I saw it through my lens.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Time Part 2

Okay, running around, student council, papers to grade...ach! Today's photo will just have to be my tail light from this morning. I took it at about 6am cause I had a feeling it would be no time, part 2:) Forgive me, not even enough time for prose...I will be late to my first meeting of the club. Exciting stuff!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A "ghost" story

When I was 13 years old, I went exploring into a storage area of my grandparent's old farmhouse, a place we dubbed "the backroom". In this room, my imagination was allowed to roam into dangerous territory; it was filled with treasures beyond my wildest dreams. Old paintings, cracked glass bottles, dusty trunks with skeleton key locks, broken tombstones, dirty piles of ancient papers...practically anything and everything that an old farmhouse could hold. I dreamed of finding something worth millions, an old treasure map, the draft of a precious historical document...anything! Instead, what I found was an old guitar case, dusty, scratched and beaten, made of a reddish glossy leather with a broken zipper. The guitar inside was missing two strings and was coated with an inch of grime and time...but I had found the treasure that would become priceless to me.

I learned that the guitar was my mother's, something she had purchased as a teenager in the 70's (Sorry to date you, mom!) I begged her to let me learn to play it. She finally relented, allowing me to get new strings, a book on chords and eventually, a new case. Two years later, on my fifteenth birthday, she gave me the guitar as a birthday present. We still have the picture; I burst into tears when I saw the case with a big bow on it and I'm tearing up writing this now. That guitar has been a friend to me like nothing else in my life. It has seen me through love and heartache, through death and despair, and through joy and praise. It has traveled with me across the country and has served me even in foreign lands. Today's picture is special to me because it depicts the "ghost" of both my mother and myself playing that same guitar throughout the years. The hands have changed, growing older and more fragile. The strings have changed, from the dry sullied strands of 30 years ago to the supple yet delicate fibers of today. The notes have lingered and faded...but the gift of music it has brought to me remains as stoic and unchanging as the love of my mother.

Someday, I hope to pass it on to my children and maybe hundreds of years from now, some child will find it in a back room, dusty, dirty, half broken...and yet, filled with the promise of a new "ghost" to come!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A day of rest

I'm promising myself a day of rest today. No meetings, no worrying about tomorrow or the next day or the next. Instead, I'm enjoying what I've been blessed with: family, simplicity, and the quietness of small towns and autumn roads. Such is the scene for my pictures of the day. Having my eye behind the lens of a camera the last 20 days has shown me that life is only has fast and hectic as we make it. We can choose to stop and look around us or we can choose to rush through the days and miss the splendor that God has placed before us. We can choose to pollute our minds with negativity, destruction, hatred, and anger...or we can choose to uplift our minds with love, peace, and determination to make this a better world. We need to savor moments like this morning, moments where everything is still and fresh and new before the breaking of the dawn. We need to savor each breathe, each whisper of wind through the trees, and each moment with those we love. I think that is what I will do with my day of rest!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

For Trish Johnson

"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth"
Two worlds apart, but still connected.
These children are the future of our world!

(The first picture was taken in Magrimundi, Zambia in July. The second, in Fonda NY by Trish Johnson, amazing photographer of the MVP club)

Homecoming weekend at RPI

My photo quest this morning took me to my usual weekend haunt...RPI in Troy. I teach enrichment there every Saturday to 7th and 8th grade inner city kids. We studied James Mercer Langston Hughes today, one of my favorite poets/writers from the Harlem Renaissance, and I got to share my Africa experience with the kids as well. We were really getting into asking some deep, philosophical questions about identity, culture, and class. When the lesson was over, I stepped out into the brisk air and was amazed at the number of people around. I asked a passing woman who told me that it was homecoming weekend. So on the way to my car, I discovered a football game happening. I tried to capture a few shots....

But didn't feel particularly inspired. Suddenly, I turned around and there was this beautiful stairwell behind me and THAT is where I got my better shots todays. There's something about being on a college campus, the large lecture halls, the landscaping, or possibly just the abundance of things happening all at once...concerts, plays, workshops, etc. Either way, I enjoy just being in a place where deep learning is occuring.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No time!

No time for real posts today or real pictures! I just spent the last few hours decorating for tonight's teen time at the school and after a hurried supper, I'm on my way back there. This picture is terrible, but it's all I had time for!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just when I think I can't...

...I find that I can:) Wasn't sure what to take a picture of today. I'm too pooped out to go trapsing around town and I thought I had shot everything interesting in my house. Suddenly, my eyes caught the leaves of a wandering jew plant (not sure if that is what it's really called, but that's what my cousin told me!) lounging on the window sill. Just behind it were some amazing clouds beckoning to me. So, it ain't perfect, but there it is. Day 16...definitely stretching me as a photographer, if I can call myself that!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A tribute to fire

(Thanks Trish for the info! You inspired me!)
I've always loved campfires. I love watching a fire as it begins and grows and seems like wind the way it ripples as it travels through a bundle of dry wood at night. I was the kid who just sat there and stared into the flames, enjoying the solitude and beauty of a simple blaze where people could crowd around to warm themselves. I loved watching when flickering pieces of embers would rise silently into a starry sky, disappearing against the deep bluish black canvas sprinkled with glowing stars. So after checking out Trish's early morning pictures and asking her how she did it all, I decided to try something similar except on a triple wick red candle I have here at home. I like the resulting images. Looking at them makes me want to pack up all my camping stuff and head for the woods. Also, it reminds me of the last time I sat around a quiet campfire...Africa. Oh, how I miss Africa!

(This one is my favorite...which do you like? The one above or the one below in lake reflection mode?)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back from the north

Well, I'm finally back from the conference in Vermont! It was very refreshing to spend the time with my mom. When we are together, we always have such a great time. I think we saw more cute, interesting sites on the way back while the way to Vermont yielded the best views of leaves. We were off the beaten trail, enjoying God's canvas and I'm thankful I was there to see those beautiful sights. Also thankful for the rejuvination of the conference itself; I learned that human beings can not simply stay the same; we are constantly changing and becoming more Christ like as God changes us from the inside out. What a relief! I'd hate to think that I've reached some sort of plateau here. It's comforting to know that God is working on me constantly and that He's always transforming me from glory to glory(2 Cor. 3:18)

Anyway, here are some pictures on the way up to Vermont and the last picture is my picture for today. Kudos to my mom...she forced me to stop and take this picture! I'm glad I did though. I guess mom's do know what's best for you...some of the time:)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Traveling suitcase

Hi everyone! I'm preparing to travel to Vermont today for a conference tonight. I'm really looking forward to spending the time with my Mom and getting some reprieve from what has been a busy start to my school and a stressful new beginning at my church. Because I'll be taking my time going up, I'm posting my picture for today now because I don't know if we'll have internet access where we are going although it's probably likely. I don't want to miss a day:)

For here is my is a wooden suitcase I have just sort of hanging around. It reminded me of today's trip and how much I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Auger Falls

Today started out so hectic and discouraging, I had to get away and find some time to be outdoors. After a mid morning nap to calm myself, I drove to Auger Falls, one of my favorite little known places to be. But today, it was well known...there were 5 other cars in the parking area before I got there. I still managed to have a quiet trip on the short trail. Being outdoors is sometimes like meditation for me. And the day was so lovely and crisp, I just enjoyed being there. When my mind is swimming with problems or worries, the best way to escape them for me is to find some other way to occupy my mind. Being outdoors gives me peace and comfort.

More moving water pictures...the first one looks like ice even though it wasn't!

But my favorites were on the way back to my car, when I layed down on my back and took pictures of the forest.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A birthday party in the country

My grandfather's birthday is on Tuesday and the family got together to celebrate with dinner tonight. It's always fun having a nice relaxing dinner in the country with my grandparents. They are such down to earth, simple people with good senses of humor and a real sense of what is important in life. So today, I wanted to experiment more with lighting.

Firstly, I tried to re-create my hay rake with better framing(see post from Oct. 8th)...not sure if that was accomplished. You be the judge.

Second, the reflecting pools of water on a farming road caught my attention and so I went out there to see what I could see.

Wish I could have done more with reflections in the pools, but chocolate cream pie was waiting, as was my family. I'm extremely blessed to have them!

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