Thursday, April 30, 2015

Curiosity Makes the Photographer

Years ago, when I was just starting this journey as a "photographer", I signed up for Digital Photography School, a website from Australia that puts out a daily post full of tips and techniques. At first most of what I read made little sense to me, however, over time I began learning quite a bit about all aspects of photography. That said, all of the processing and editing posts went way over my head, and in fact, are still over my head. Lately I've not spent much time on the site, however, this piece, recently posted, was so pertinent to me, I thought you might enjoy reading it as well. Here is the link. Although he did not specifically say curiosity makes the photographer, he very well might have.

Time and time again I am asked about my equipment. Time and time again my answer has been that I have a nicer camera than some, but generally I don't think much about my equipment. My needs are simple--does it fit my hand well? Do I understand the menus? Does it fit in my purse? That sort of thing. I, too, as mentioned in the article, consider it merely a tool, much like I think the same of the keyboard I am currently typing on. A better camera can only take you so far as a photographer if you have no vision, or curiosity, for that matter. Another thing people ask for are photographs of Lake Eola. Duh! Why not take one yourself, I ask. It is right behind you, or it is when they ask me this at my market booth. I try to explain that I take photos you might not, and there are only so many different ways to show a smallish lake with a big green fountain in the middle!! That generally does nothing for my sales, and so be it is what I think.

When I tell folks that I write a blog, and have done so for years, they presume it is about photography. I am quick to mention that there are photographs on the blog, but to say it is about photography is a stretch. That said, every now and again I write something about the process of my photography, but the article linked above says it so much better than I could.


Well, I was going to move forward, but still on the topic of photography and curiosity---good grief, I need to reign it in! While looking for some photos for the Polasek museum, where they still sell notecards and prints of mine, I discovered that my Picasa library has/had over 150,000 images which is far too many to sort through when you are trying to find something specific. I spent a VERY boring Tuesday deleting stuff, however, I barely made a dent in it. On the other hand, I did rediscover a few goodies such as this photo from my early days at the market.
Oh my goodness, how we have grown! At last count there are 115 vendors if everyone shows up!

The fact that I am prolific is well established, and to those of you who know me well, know that I am always asking questions because, as they say, "curious minds want to know." Not that I read the National Enquirer or anything, but I do want to know about everything. Well, maybe not everything, but a lot of things. Bruce reminded me, not that I think I ever knew this before, but apparently, way back when we were children, Gatorland was free except for a voluntary donation. How about that?
Perhaps that is why they are still in business all these years later? They treat their guests right--no ridiculous parking fees, along with admission prices that families can afford. Therein lies just one of the reasons I like it so much. Then, too, there are the gators, which are strange creatures indeed. Do you suppose these gators are just passing in the day, or perhaps, they like one another?
It never fails to amaze me how the egrets ride on the backs of alligators..
Guess who I finally saw together? Once again, challenging photography conditions, but here they are nonetheless.
Fluffy city, right?

Way back in early April, before the Vancouver trip and the house painting took over this blog space, I went to the Spring Training game in Kissimmee, visiting their cute little downtown beforehand. I wrote about the game here. At the time I said I would show you a few photos from that trip and before April slips away, let's go back there, shall we?

Long before Walt Disney came to town, Kissimmee was known for citrus and cattle, and the evidence of that still remains downtown. This shop window is more reflective of the town's heritage than all the motels lined up on 1-92. (a highway for those who don't live here.)
The mascot of the high school has always been the Cowboys. For some people it still remains a small town...
where they sure seem to support their local stores. How long has it been since you've seen opening hours as pictured above? I went into a ladies shop where not only did I buy a super cute top but I chatted with the business owner. Surprise, surprise!! She told me the shop had been there since like 1947. Not only that but above them is the Orange Blossom Hotel, which they also own. Not entirely a hotel, some residents have lived there for more than 25 years! Here's a look at the building and the men's shop too.
Pretty, isn't it? I did not have time to go into the hardware store but it, too, has been there forever.
Years ago I worked with a young woman in her 20's who had been through surgery and cancer treatment and had a large scar in the middle of her chest to show for it. She told me the way she got through it was some advice she was given.....look good, feel better. Well, these folks seem to have heard that too.
It's a cute little downtown, and worth your time to mosey, if you find yourself in the area. So much of what people take away from a trip to Central Florida is manufactured fantasy, so it is nice to be reminded that real life still remains in our communities.

April has been a busy month--hard to imagine one third of 2015 is history. Tomorrow is our sweet Jonathan's birthday. Hard to imagine 32 years have slipped away!

Remaining a curious photographer,


p.s. Did you see this incredible story about the woman finding a diamond?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Friends and Family

I am in awe of folks that can be on the go all of the time. Anymore, I'm such a little homebody that if I'm out for two nights in a row, I get a little crazy. Not that I'm complaining mind you, but four nights in a row is, well, more than I'm accustomed to. Perhaps having the house painted in the midst of it all added to it? I will say, I could not be any more pleased with the job Herbert and Ricardo did, responding to any last minute ideas, or changes we requested. I especially love how Bruce's shed turned out.
Although Cheryle thinks I should paint the door a different color, I'm not budging on this one. Finally my blue door works!

The truth is probably that I'm not so used to having as much fun as we've had in the last five days with both friends and family. When last we met, we were heading out to the fund raising event for Team Fox, or more familiarly, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease. It was while Maureen and I were chatting with another woman, diagnosed only three years ago, that I realized, or remembered, that it has been 10 years since Maureen's diagnosis. The event was named "The Art of Fashion" and indeed there were many fashionistas in attendance. Bruce drove two of his favorite ladies to here, and I suspect the reason he's so far ahead is to open the door for us. :)
Meet Tanya, a young woman diagnosed when she was only 31 years old, as well as the organizer of the event.
She is standing beside a canvas I donated, and one that, let us hope, raised some money! Doesn't she look lovely, especially considering that just three weeks ago she had a second brain surgery to implant an electric charge gadget (for lack of a better term) to help with her body movements? I was only sad that her adorable little boy was not there. The table behind displayed silent auction items, and scattered throughout were outfits styled by fashion bloggers, or stylists.
I bet you can figure out which one of the outfits above captured my affection! I'm thinking these outfits are a little tame for her?
This all came about as a result of our daughter-in-law Michelle's friendship with Tanya, which made it all the sadder that she was not feeling well enough to attend, although sister Lisa did. Not only did she come ,but her bid went to a big basket of chocolate. No surprise to her family!

After spending time at both Disney, and the beach, Bruce's sister Michelle, and granddaughter Annabelle arrived at our home on Friday afternoon. It was not long before Annabelle and I were in the pool. Living in Minnesota does not give a child nearly as much opportunity to become proficient at swimming, although don't tell that to Annabelle. She took to the water like a fish, becoming more confidant as we worked together. After helping her to become more comfortable with water on her face, I had her jump to me. Before long she was using the noodle to jump in solo.
Still wearing the little tiara from her meeting with the Disney Princesses, we had so much fun. Earlier she'd asked me if our pool ever closed, to which I replied, no, it does not. So, when it was time to meet the clan at VanBerry's, she reminded me that the pool never closed, why did she have to get out? Out of the mouths of babes.:)

Judy, Cris, Jessica and Katy came from the North end of town Pecks, while the South end was represented by Bill, Fallon and David, Gail and Bruce. It was a wonder we could even hear ourselves talk that place is loud, loud, loud!
I only wish I'd taken a shot after everyone arrived! Jessica and Annabelle were the only two from our group who successfully hung the ring on the hook!
It was a lot of fun in spite of the noisy atmosphere. After all that swimming, bedtime for all of us came early. Saturday, at Bruce's suggestion, we went to Gatorland. As you well know, one of my favorite places to visit, and even more fun with a little one. Brave, she held the gator, although she does not look any too happy in this photograph.
One thing Michelle mentioned to me was how well Bruce and I get along, and I told her that is the way it has been since longer than I can remember. In just another instance of how great a man I married, as we were getting out of our parked car at Gatorland, I realized I'd left my camera on the kitchen counter. He asked if I wanted him to go home to get it, and you know how I responded. Some people feel lost without their phone, I feel lost without my camera. You would think with all my visits to Gatorland I'd have seen it all before, but where there are animals concerned, there is always something new. Adding to our spring theme of baby birds, this sight thrilled me.
Annabelle was more thrilled with this activity.
Five and a half years old, she is just adorable, (as Bill kept repeating), that I had to wonder if she is ever any trouble at all? Certainly that was not my child rearing experience! The day was becoming ever more hot and humid, so we made our way back along the painted creek toward the exit.
It does not take a lot of imagination to know what came next. More swimming! After Friday's session, she was braver, and braver, jumping onto the noodle in the deep end. For a little change I'd switched the camera to black and white.
Annabelle has the longest lashes imaginable,
as well as seemingly unlimited energy. We were sorry to see them head to the airport because it is not often we get to see them. :(

We did not have too long to mourn their leaving as we had a dinner date with Bruce's friend, Jim, who was in Orlando from Washington State. I'd never met him before, but he was as friendly as could be, and we all had a marvelous time.

The market Sunday was dull as dirt. Hardly any weirdness except for this:
At 6:30 in the morning the rain forecast was high, however, after some hemming and hawing, we decided to chance it. The weather ended up cooperating, however, the crowds did not get the message, as they stayed home in droves. I was delighted, however, to sell three prints of "Tree Hugger."

To end our fun run, after unloading the Pilot, we joined the others for "Hill's Happy Hour." Seems like every week it gets bigger and bigger.
We were joined this week by Lisa's mother visiting from Ohio, as well as a young woman newly arrived from Michigan as an airbnb guest of David and Cheryle. This week was extra special because we all walked down the street to have dinner together at Pat Sprague's beautiful home. She is a very successful downtown realtor, and I was thinking how it must be difficult to extol the virtues of ugly homes when you live in such a beautiful one yourself. Just saying.

Following the Orlando City game on television, this blogger went to bed and boy did I sleep well, so much so I could barely get going this morning, but going I did, albeit at home.

Hats off to those on-the-go folks out there,


Thursday, April 23, 2015

I'm Softening the Butter Right Now

I'm not sure what you will be most interested in today, so let me just start with the topic the title refers to. Yesterday morning, while talking on the phone to Nancy about how fantastic "Bloodline" is, Angela called through. I told Nancy, "let me get this, no telling what's going on." And so I clicked over to Angela who sounded downright cheerful while asking me for a favor. "What do you do really well Gail?" she asked. Because I know that she has a somewhat elevated opinion of my photography, I felt sure she wanted me to run over with the camera. Much to my surprise, she said Matt was requesting cookies again! In yet another example of how he keeps defying predictions, he can nibble a bit, and wanted some chocolate chip cookies. "I'm softening the butter as we speak." And so I made some cookies.

Later in the afternoon, following a much needed visit to Monica, I brought the cookies, as well as the photo of the owl holding the tree that Bruce printed earlier for that purpose. I was hoping to bring a smile to Matt's face with that little cutie, and it worked! If you can imagine, I forgot my camera altogether, however, Angela recorded the moment on her phone.
He looks pretty darn good for a dying man doesn't he? We spent about an hour visiting in their gazebo; Matt likes the heat, and I don't mind it a bit either, especially with an overhead fan! He remains cheerful in spite of all that he is going through. He cannot eat very much, most of his nutrition comes through the feeding tube, but the fact that he can eat at all is a great improvement. He just keeps hanging on, which is what I wrote on the photo. :)

So, while I was making cookies, and getting my hair cut, the guys were outside working. I was glad to keep busy because this kind of environment makes me a wee bit crazy.
Told you it was weird!

First they painted the trim using a cool little machine.
Actually that is the house color the tube is running into which looks a heck of a lot lighter in the pail than on the house. Here's your last look at what used to be, and still is in the photo, a sunny yellow house.
Now, it looks more like this following a massive rainstorm this morning.
So, that is the side view, and here's the front of the house:
Along with a view of the back:
As you can see, there is work yet to be completed, however, today was not that day as it rained like a son of a gun around 10 AM. The window sills, the screws on the shutters, the trim around the doors--that sort of thing is what remains to be done. It was suggested to me that I might spring for a better doorbell and I did just that as well as new house numbers.
Because I was not looking to change the light fixtures, I tried to find a match at Lowes with no success. Amazon Prime to the rescue! Herbert snuck these on in between showers, and will do the touch up tomorrow, or so we hope! You might have noticed that I painted the little sun thing on the front porch yellow because it did not look good the way it was against the new color. Nor does the one in the back, however, I'm not sure I'm sold on the yellow so I'm going to ponder that for a few days.

What do we think of the color? Love it, although a few of my older neighbors, including Corrine, were not so sure. Except, this morning, just before the biggest storm, Corrine called out to me to tell me that now she thinks it looks swell. It's good to have neighborhood harmony isn't it?

I'm sure you can guess where I went first on my bike ride today. Yup. Just about to leave because I could find not one of the owls, lo and behold, there were the two babies. And, at one point they both were on the same limb, HOWEVER, that picture turned out terrible. But, you knew already that I only post the good ones, didn't you?
I'm not sure I can tell them apart just yet, however, I think one of them may be a little darker than the other. When one of the began walking a bit on the limb, I knew something was coming.
Well, I sure did not expect this!
There was some thunder rumblings beginning so that was that for my owl visit. On my way home, I stopped for a moment to talk to Cheryle, whose Angel Trumpet tree rivals the one I showed in my last post.
I cannot remember a time when the trees were so loaded with blooms. Magnificent!!

Because I returned home too late to fix supper last evening we went out for a bite to eat. Nothing memorable but on the way home, driving by Lake Jennie Jewel I noticed the setting sun. Brucer, I'm coming right back down to the lake. When I see beauty, I'm going to enjoy every moment of it. Not a particularly memorable sunset, but I do love a tiny crescent moon.
And, really, who could complain about more babies?
Hopefully, tomorrows sunny forecast holds up and Herbert will get his money and we'll have a completely different home. Talk about a dramatic change, huh? If you have any suggestions for improvement, I am all ears.

Time to spruce up for this evenings event--a fundraiser for Parkinson's Disease. I hope for Tanya's sake, it is a resounding success.

yours truly,


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not Just One, But Two!!

Last evening, following a delicious supper, I decided to run up to TJ Maxx, except, while doing so, I had to take a little detour due to a fallen tree across the road. Must have been caused by the massive rainstorm a few hours earlier. In some parts of the world, the whole "April showers brings May flowers," may ring true, however, in our little corner, the rainstorms usually arrive in June. This year has been a big exception to that as just last week I measured over 4 inches in our back yard rain gauge, which is momentarily out of commission due to the painting which is taking place as I type!
After getting around this roadblock, I discovered that the sunset was phenomenal, except the only place I could photograph it from was the inside of my car. Still awesome though.
What with all the aforementioned rain, it was a miracle that our boating trip on the St. John's River came to pass. Bruce's sister, Michele, along with her granddaughter Annabelle, are visiting from Minnesota. When we first arrived, we were all delighted to see the resident family of Sandhill cranes roaming in brother Cris's back yard.
When I say delighted, I seriously mean delighted, as it was the first time I've been close to a juvenile crane, and they are cute as a button.
That is if you like the scraggly look!

In truth the weather was just right--partly cloudy and warm, not hot. Cris loves taking people out on the boat, as well as his dog Jackson, who seems to like it pretty well too!
Michelle and Fallon preferred the shade.
This, my friends, is the real Florida.
Green, green, and more green. Not to mention lots of water. Having lived on the river for more than a year now, Cris also knows the little side waters, which is not the official name, but I can't think of any other way to describe them. One little detour off the main river took us to what Cris called, "birdhouse lane", although he said only a little while ago there were hundreds of birdhouses, removed recently by a curmudgeon I suppose. There are still a few sweet little ones left.
Birdhouses, along with the ever present Spanish moss. That said, if I see one tiny bit of it anywhere in our yard, I remove it instantly because once it starts in your trees there is no stopping it! After just a lovely afternoon on the river, we dined at Swamp House Riverfront Grille, located a few blocks from Judy and Cris's house.
By now Judy and Katie joined the group.
Seated below the hanging gator, some at the table enjoyed a gator table appetizer, however, I was not one of them. :)

Sunday, the rain held off until I was turning down our street with a loaded car. People who've never been to the market have no idea what they are missing! On any given Sunday you are more than likely to see something like this:
Yeesh! Monkey lady was back, and so too were some cygnets!
My friend Bev warned me to be careful around the owls, and I'm trying; by now I know better than to get too close to a swan and her babies!

Following the market, while at Hill's Happy Hour, our friend Lisa, who lives on Sweetbriar, home to the owls, told me there were TWO owlets, not just one! Are you kidding me? You know where Mrs. Camera Crazy went first thing Monday morning. Looking, looking, looking, I finally found them highly camouflaged in the Magnolia tree.
Oh my gosh!!! I watched for a while and I don't know if you can see this or not, but Papa Owl is beginning a meal.
What it is, I have no idea but he seemed to enjoy it.
How do I know this is Papa? Apparently, the male owl is smaller than the female, whom I saw way, way up in the oak tree over the poop splotched driveway. After swallowing whatever that was, he gave a little nuzzle to baby #1.
We are all obsessed, and can you blame us?

I just got off the phone with Dana who had only a moment to share some horrible, and I mean horrible news. The boyfriend of one of our vendors, Tim, fell terribly ill about three weeks ago. I was sick--Alan is ill, and in a big way. Bacterial Meningitis took over his body, and is apparently, still wreaking havoc, in spite of what I thought was a positive progress report on Sunday. Both legs are, at what I can only hope is, at the knees, being amputated today. I feel just sick even typing it. How old is he? Only 54, and what appeared to be, only a few weeks ago, in excellent health. Further, Matt Stromberg was back in the hospital with pneumonia and a pulmonary embolus. The latest MRI shows the brain tumor growing once again. All treatment options have been exhausted, so it is only a matter of time which I also hate typing, much less thinking about. :(

Why share all that horrible news Gail? Well that just makes me want to celebrate life every single day, as one never knows what tomorrow will bring. Yes, I know that is a overused, however, it still rings true. So, I'm obsessed with the owls? Good. How about you? Loving every beautiful thing God puts in your path? I hope so!

Which leads me to this glorious sight seen on my ride this morning. BTW--I was vacillating between using site or sight in that sentence until I read this.
Now that is one heck of a lot of Angel Trumpet blooms, isn't it?

As I type, this is how the house looks with every single window covered up, leaving me using the lamps for now.
Yesterday they pressure washed everything, including.....drum roll please....
Oh my gosh the driveway looks brand new! After covering all the windows, the trim is now nearly done, with the body coming next. Woo hoo! Cannot wait to see it, not to mention, I hope I like it!!

Making the most of today,

You Just Never Know