I Cannot Pass Up

Taken near Brown's Island in Richmond, Virginia

Taken near Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia

Things I can’t pass up:

  • Books – love, love, love them.  I can never have too many books.
  • Bookstores – I have to check them out whenever I see one.  Each one carries something a little different, so who knows what treasure I’ll find.  Checking out 2 or 3 in a weekend is better yet!
  • Taking pictures – No, this list is in no particular order.  I enjoy the walk, looking and observing, and recording it for future enjoyment.
  • Writing in my journal – I find it relaxing and rewarding to record my life.  It helps me work out my thoughts and emotions, plan, and later, remember what happened.
  • Chocolate – especially dark chocolate.  Yummmm.


Lunch at the La Petite Tea Room near Williamsburg, Virginia

Lunch at the La Petite Tea Room near Williamsburg, Virginia

  • Tea – I love buying loose tea, making tea, and drinking iced tea.  Everything about the tea process makes is irresistible to me.
  • Glass – I really like glass items, from paperweights to canning jars.  The feel and texture just draws me.
  • Leather – same as glass.  Leather has a great scent in addition to how good it feels.  Surprisingly, I’m not very nuts about leather coats or gloves, and my purses tend to be nylon.  But I love leather wallets, leather shoes, and leather books (no surprise there – two for one!).
  • Dogs – Yes, I love my three, but I also love petting dogs whenever I find them out with their owners.  I always let them sniff my hand first.  If a dog doesn’t want to sniff my hand or doesn’t wag after sniffing me though, I don’t touch it.  But I’ll pet every dog I see if it lets me.
A rare picture of all three them together!

A rare picture of all three them together!

  • Popcorn – I can’t stay away from fresh, hot popcorn.  The taste, the crunchiness, and how it fills me are all appealing.
  • Stationary – I love stationary and I love browsing through it at the stores!  Unfortunately, I’m not very good about actually using it.  This is something I try to not buy, as much as I love it.
  • Blogs – Reading blogs is a fascinating past-time for me.  There are so many great ones out there!  I love reading about people and their lives, finding out information, and so often, learning that I’m not the only one with that problem or who feels that way.  I have to limit how much I read on-line, but I’d do it all day if I could.

The tomatoes were from the garden; the berries came from the local farmer’s market.

  • Berries – These are my favorite fruit.  I love them all – strawberries, blueberries, and especially raspberries.  When my daughter was younger, we went to see “pick your own” farms.  We’ve done it a few times more recently when I visit her in the spring.  It’s fun, but a lot of work.  These days, I’d rather just buy them at the store.
  • Sea salt – In the last few years, I’ve become quite the connoisseur on the different sea salts.  I use different ones different ways, from the pink Himalaya salt in my regular cooking, to a smoked version for my soups, and the charcoal based ones on my meats and rice.  I enjoy trying out new ones too, so each time I see them at the store, I have to stop and look them over.
  • Pinterest – there is such a wealth of information on Pinterest, from diet to recipes to photography and everything else.  Some of it’s garbage, but much of it is actually very good.  If you’re interested in following me, click on the link to the right.  My quotes board is particularly good!
  • Surfing the Internet – Similar to reading blogs and pinning on Pinterest, I find the Internet to be endlessly fascinating.  It’s yet something else I have to be careful to limit.  There is a lot of garbage out there and it’s not worthy a lot of time.  But I like it nonetheless!

So that’s my list for Day #2 of 30 Days of Lists.  My personal journal was just a straight list, but I wanted to share it here with some commentary.  I don’t know that I’ll do that each day, but this was fun (for me).  #30Lists

Categories: 30 Days of Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

This week’s photo challenge is dialogue – bringing together two pictures that tell a story.  Host Frédéric Biver said:

Dialogue is an engaging conversational exchange.

When it comes to photography, dialogue can be perceived as a consensual interaction between two images.

Placed next to each other, each photograph opens up to meanings that weren’t there when viewed alone.

Each composition reveals the photographer’s specific sensitivity to certain content or visual elements.

These pictures were taken at my daughter’s house less than 24 hours apart.  We couldn’t figure out why the spider was so huge – her gut was just swollen!  We thought she must have eaten hearty shortly before my daughter pointed her out to me.  I took pictures of her and her egg sac that was not even a foot away from the web.

Ha!  The next day she was considerably thinner and now there were TWO eggs sacs.

I pointed out that the argiope aurantia (corn spiders) are not very aggressive to people but are quite carnivorous.  I suggested my daughter leave it alone to eat the flies and mosquitoes.  Although my daughter would have preferred no spiders in her tomato plants, once the egg sacs released the babies, my daughter got busy catching and moving the spiders around the landscaping.  Not getting tangled in the webs has been more of a challenge, but it seems the spiders have helped with the flies.

I also got some great pictures of the argiope moving around her web.  At one point, an insect flew into her web and she ran right over to kill it and wrap it up.  I mean fast – I probably couldn’t have even counted to ten had I not stood there, slack-jawed at watching her in action.  By the way – the photographer can also move really fast when she’s standing practically on top of a spider that decides to start racing around.  I’m surprised I didn’t fall on my butt from jumping backwards!  I will post more pictures a different day of the ariope in action.

Have a good week!

Categories: Atlanta GA, Nature, spiders | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Today Is Brought To Me By

Taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

Today is brought to me by:

  1. The men and women of the labor force, who work hard to make a living and support their families (today is Labor Day, a holiday in the United States).
  2. My parents and grandparents, without whom I would not be here.  While I didn’t agree with everything, they all influenced me and made me what I began with to become who I am today.
  3. Warm, humid and overcast weather.  It seems that this day off is often accompanied by bad weather for some reason (the afternoon cleared out to gorgeous skies, a brisk wind, and very hot – triple digit heat index, so still no trip to the botanical gardens, even in the afternoon).
  4. A day off to rest and relax.  Now I whether I do either one remains to be seen!
  5. A sense of sadness that summer is winding down, the pace is picking up, and things / places will become busy again.
Dragonfly resting on a tomato cage in the backyard

Dragonfly resting on a tomato cage in the backyard

In fact three weeks ago, I noted how much the pace had slowed down everywhere, both at work and in my personal life.  I wrote in my Moleskine journal:

I’ve been enjoying this summer, especially this week.  It’s been much slower at work – people are on vacation and things are less frantic, more measured.  I wish it could be like this all the time, but of course that wouldn’t be good – for business, my job security, even the economy.

The weekends are good too – so much less personal E-mail, less blogs being updated, and most of our subdivision seems to be gone somewhere else.

It’s been nice taking a little longer lunches, leaving a little earlier than usual, having less news and updates to skim and delete.

And everywhere we go, we can get good parking (even at work) and wait in less lines.  Everything is emptier than usual and I am just enjoying – reveling in – this slowdown of the world and some time to decompress a little.

Also taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

Also taken at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

School starts tomorrow here in Virginia, so our neighbors will be flooding home shortly.  The roads will be crowded tomorrow as people head back to work.  But it was nice for a brief time to slow it down, sniff the breeze, and just relax for a few days.  Here’s a post from several years ago, that also commented on the end of summer and how I enjoyed the slowing down that came shortly before Labor Day.

As a side note – today’s prompt is from a challenge I’m doing this month, 30 Days of Lists.  It’s to encourage journalers and scrapbookers.  Some people are doing paper, others are doing it digitally.  I’m doing it in my regular spiral bound notebook that I use for all my jottings.  That way I can scribble out, add things, clarify, and not worry about how it looks.  #30Lists

Categories: Spending The Day, Daybook, 30 Days of Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Travel Theme: Horizon


Railroad Park in Birmingham, Alabama

I don’t know what it is about new horizons that thrills me so much.  It’s the excitement of something new, whether learning or seeing or just an experience of some sort.

Wikipedia defines horizon as:

The horizon (or skyline) is the apparent line that separates earth from sky, the line that divides all visible directions into two categories: those that intersect the Earth’s surface, and those that do not. At many locations, the true horizon is obscured by trees, buildings, mountains, etc., and the resulting intersection of earth and sky is called the visible horizon.

The first photo was taken at Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.  I was there for a seminar, having spent the first few days of that week visiting a manufacturing location of my employer and then talking with state government officials in Mongtomery, Alabama, also on behalf of my employer.

I’d not been to Birmingham before and this park was several blocks from my hotel.  It had a nice walking path around the perimeter and as you can see, gave an excellent view of the skyline of downtown Birmingham.  It was also busy, so I felt safe walking there.


Smoky Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina

The next photo was taken in Asheville, North Carolina.  Those are the Smoky Mountains in the distance, appropriately named for the haze that perpetually surrounds them.  I went to Asheville for vacation this summer and stayed at the Biltmore Hotel on the grounds of the Biltmore Mansion.  I had a wonderful time exploring the grounds and gardens, eating in the restaurants, and enjoying some solitude.  My favorite boy toy had gone an on extended photography expedition (by himself – vacation for me is NOT getting up at 4 am to take sunrise pictures).  This was my little getaway to reward myself for staying home, taking care of the dogs, and going to work everyday like a good girl.

I’d been to Asheville about 15 years earlier for a conference but hadn’t taken time to explore much of it.  I wanted someplace with lots of outdoors for me to explore, where I didn’t have to worry about mundane details like where to park and eat, and that was nice. . . very, very nice.  In fact, I purposefully kept my vacation shorter in order to stay someplace so nice.


Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia

Last is a horizon from one of my favorite places, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.  I took this from high up in the tree house earlier this spring and got a great sweeping vista of the grounds.  Aren’t the blooming cherry trees just gorgeous?  I love going to Ginter.  Each time, I find something new to look at and from year-to-year, my photos are different.  So while not a new place for me to explore, I stay alert for what will be new on this visit.

So. . . did I cover it?  New places to visit and new experiences to have.  I’d also mentioned learning something new.  And I did!  I learned to be more comfortable traveling by myself.  I do drive back and forth to Atlanta to see my daughter, but I don’t stay in a hotel nor am I on my own.  But in both Alabama and Asheville, I not only traveled alone, but I was on my own.

I had to be careful with my security, observant to enjoy and appreciate what was around me without someone to point things out to me (as I tend to miss things), and not feel guilty for leaving my favorite boy toy behind.  In fact, he came home about 12 hours before I left for Asheville.  I offered to bring him with, but after being gone for six weeks, he just wanted to stay home and unpack.  I had a great time and he encouraged me to go alone, but it was weird and different.  I’m so used to him being with me.  But I did relax and enjoy the trip and was glad that I did it.

I have other pictures to share at from Railroad Park and Asheville both.  I wanted to share these though for Ailsa’s weekly travel theme over at Where’s my backpack?  All kinds of bloggers have linked up to the theme – go check it out and see all kinds of great shots of the horizon!

I leave you with this final thought:

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences,
and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon,
for each day to have a new and different sun.

Christopher McCandless

Categories: Alabama, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, North Carolina, Travel Theme, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Textures in My Backyard


This week’s photo challenge is “texture”.  There are all kinds of great pictures out there to interpret it and I encourage you to click here and check them out.

I eagerly scoured my photos looking for textures until I realized that the photos from my own backyard had some interesting textures of their own!


The two photos above are the trumpet vines that provide privacy between us and our neighbor, whose driveway and garage is just feet away from our deck.  I noticed that the open flowers were facing to the east and when the sun hit them in the morning, they were glowing.  The leaves have all kinds of striations on them, the unopened flowers are smooth and waxy, and the open flowers have a slight velvety texture (complete with moving ants!).

I didn’t see the hummingbird the morning that I photographed the trumpet vine, but it’s been hanging around again this summer.  It really likes the trumpet vine flowers and often in the fall, when the leaves come down, we will find a tiny nest in the vines.

I also found this walking around the deck railing.  It’s a type of assassin bug called a “wheel bug“, named for the large half wheel in the middle of its back.  Talk about textures – look at that wheel, the abdomen, and even the shiny eye.  And yes, it was watching me.  The whole time I photographed it, those eyes stayed focused on me.


Wheel bugs are considered beneficial bugs for the garden.  That long snout is used to pierce through caterpillars, Japanese beetles, and aphids, and suck them dry.

That wasn’t the only texture outside with me that day!  Who could resist scratching that nearly hairless tummy?  The sunbeam came along and captured a miniature pinscher.  For as thick as his pelt is, his tummy barely has any short hairs covering it.


The sunbeam tried to capture a beagle as well.  It must be his age (he just turned nine), but he seems to be shaggier each time I look at him.  For being August and hot, the beagle has tufts of fur everywhere, even in his paws.


From his smooth wet nose to those soft silky ears and his coarse fur, a beagle is a total texture package.  And if you’d like to find out for yourself, he’d love you to come over and pet him!  Just be sure to bring some treats.


Categories: Backyard, Dogs, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

What Inspires Me


The question I’ve been mulling over this week is what inspires me?

This came from this week’s management tip on lynda.com by Todd Dewett called, “Inspiration Is A Choice” in which he stated that inspiration is not a random occurrence, but is a choice.

According to the dictionary, to inspire is:

to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence; to spur on, impel, motivate; or to affect, draw forth or bring out (such as thoughts or emotions)

Dr. Dewett gave four pointers to practice to attract inspiration:

  1. Always choose a positive perspective
  2. Spend your time with positive people
  3. Count your blessings
  4. Spend time every day finding things that inspire you

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On the day that I listened to this, I paid particular attention to what inspired me on that day to be energetic and engaged, to relax into finding the solutions I needed at work for several problems, and to desiring to spend time working on my photography at night instead of frittering away time in front of the television.

Here was my short list.  I share it with you to inspire you to look for and attract your own inspiration:

  1. Making random chitchat on the elevator.  This day happened to be an executive that I did not know, but I heard about his recent travels and what his family was up to (we actually started talking as we walked in from the garage, so it was bit longer of a chat than usual).
  2. Walking outside during lunch.  It was hot and humid, but the crepe myrtles are in full bloom right now and they are all different colors, as you can see in my photos, from white to purple to red to pink.  I love how the colors just make everything bright and cheery.
  3. Taking time to enthusiastically greet the dogs when they mob me at the door after work.  They’re so excited that I’m home!  It’s fun to make a big deal of them and get them more wild for a few seconds before they go lay down again.
  4. Working on my photographs and seeing them improve as I learn to use Lightroom better.
  5. Encouraging others in their creative ventures, from you – my blogging friends – to the waitress at Cracker Barrel whose poetry books I buy and read, to my favorite boy toy as we both realize that he’s having a major equipment failure with his photo printer.

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This is not a one-time exercise.  I’ve increased my observation of what inspires me, to identify and court it in my life, and just like I’m working on nurturing creativity, I’m also choosing to be inspired.

How about you?  What inspires you?  I’d love to hear it, because you give me ideas to consider and so often, help me clarify my own thoughts.

I leave you with these two quotes, to remind you that inspiration, like nurturing creativity, needs to happen daily.  And that it happens by paying attention, being present in the moment, and being eager to receive it.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last.
Well, neither does bathing. 
That’s why we recommend it daily.
- Zig Ziglar

Do stuff. be clenched, curious.
Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or
society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention.
It’s all about paying attention. attention is vitality.
It connects you with others. It makes you eager.
stay eager.
- Susan Sontag


Categories: Creativity, Passion | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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