I’d Rather Drive

This week’s theme for Six Word Friday is “drive“.  For me:

I would rather drive than fly.

Which is particularly appropriate since I am now in Atlanta for the long weekend.  YES!  I am visiting my daughter while my favorite boy toy stays home with the boys.

So pretty! She had just gotten home from a work and was still all dressed up.

It’s not worth flying to Georgia from Virginia.  The time to get to the airport, go through security and wait for the flight, coupled with the round trip for my daughter to come and get me makes the drive only a few hours longer.  I can bring whatever I want, not squeeze into a tiny seat, and not worry about weight, which I use to full advantage since I don’t like to travel light.

I arrived with a trunk full of my clothes for a week, a cooler with frozen herbs that she wanted from my freezer, books to read, my laptop, camera, and some other things.  I often have several boxes of books to pass along to a friend of hers (his nickname is Books and it’s appropriate too), but didn’t this time.

I can’t believe I used to travel regularly for business, anywhere from 25 to 50%.  It was great in that I got to see the country and experience different cultures, food, and work with a variety of people.  The downside was being away from my husband and small child, never being caught up on my sleep, and struggling even more with my weight from eating so many meals out.

Travel wasn’t as bad then as it is now.  There wasn’t security screening at the airport and you could check through several bags without charge.  Of course, the airport shopping now is much better than it was 25 years ago.  These days, I could easily spend a couple of hours shopping in the larger airports.

But I’m glad I can drive and not fly.  My Honda Civic, while small, is comfortable.  I drove with the sunroof and windows open, feeling the air on my face.  When it got too hot, I closed it up, turned on the air, and listened to music from my iPhone.  I stopped every few hours for a break to keep myself awake and not get too stiff.

At the end, it was worth arriving in Atlanta and enjoying this pretty sight as I got ready to greet my child and her dogs.

I was happy to finally arrive. The flowers were an extra bonus.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!  Drive safe if you are on the roads.

Taking An Unexpected Break

I’ve been taking a break from my blog rather unexpectedly.  So what was I doing instead?  Well, I was:

  • Writing
  • Cooking
  • Reading
  • Sleeping

Writing – Several weeks ago, I started an on-line course from Sheila Bender, author of books about journaling and turning journals into personal essays.  The timing wasn’t the greatest, but I’ve been wanting to take this class and was concerned that at some point, she wouldn’t offer it again.

The first three weeks have been different types of essays – descriptive, compare and contrast, and for this week, cause and effect.  I’m using different entries from my blog to develop these essays and will post them as I have time.

It’s been more work than I expected; not only am I developing the essays, but I’m also commenting on the essays posted by my fellow participants.  I am reading them carefully so as to offer worthwhile comments for their consideration.  My fellow participants are doing the same and have offered me some very good comments on my own work.  I like them and am glad this is a supportive group.

Sheila has been great as well.  She gives a detailed critique to each essay and does it in a way that is very encouraging.  I look at what she writes me back and wonder how did I miss that?  She will offer a follow-up class on revision and I think it is likely I will take that as well.

Cooking – I had a turkey and ham from Easter that never got cooked because I spent the afternoon on the deck visiting with my daughter instead of running in and out of the kitchen.  My favorite boy toy left for a photo trip to the Smoky Mountains shortly after she went home.  I’ve cooked up both, made several pots of soup, turkey broth from the leftover carcass, and am working at getting old food used up from the freezer.

The beagle is finally losing weight and has much better energy.  We’ve reduced the amount of food he gets and substituted big piles of green beans instead.  So. . . I’m trying the same thing.  I’ve tremendously increased the amount of vegetables that I’m eating and cutting portions more.  It’s taking some adjustment, but I am seeing a reduction in my cravings although I don’t yet see an improvement in my energy.

Reading – I’ve been getting lost in some books.  I sometimes buy the Amazon Daily Deals for the Kindle and have gotten some really good books for $.99 to $1.99.  A Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith was really good.  Although I prefer mysteries, this romance novel had a good plot and I liked the characters.  I was disappointed this one isn’t a series.

Another good read was Reckless by Andrew Gross.  For the price, I expected it to be a novella, a prelude to his new book that is not yet out.  It was a full length book about a terrorist plot involving destroying the U.S.A. financial markets.

The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson is the story of an adult son who discovers his mother was a superhero avenger as a young woman.  It was an okay read, but I never got overly involved in the story.

Sleeping – I came down with another cold.  I didn’t miss anytime from work, but I spent the week after Easter just working and sleeping.  I got over it in about ten days, but I was pretty tired all the time.

I also went out to the botanical gardens on Saturday.  The azalea’s continue to bloom in all kinds of colors.  The ones below are part of my new header.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Have a good week!

Spring at Pennsbury Inn

One of the things we like about Pennsbury Inn is their gorgeous grounds.  Although they are several weeks behind Virginia, spring has arrived there also.

I noticed the pretty smell when I walked past this.  It smells like lilacs and looks like lilacs, but I forgot to ask if that’s what it was.

The pussy willow was also in full bloom.  I haven’t seen one of these in years.

The side garden had a beautiful Lenten Rose.

I flipped one over to show you the inside.

Notice how the low trees are red tipped with new leaves?

Here’s a close-up of the little red leaf buds.

Okay, so this looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for spring yet.  Except that when I approached it, there was all kinds of splashing, then silence.  I waited a while and got this:

Here’s what was really there though – if you double click to blow it up, I’ve marked seven frogs in the pond.  There could be more, but unlike the child’s game Where’s Waldo, the frogs are not brightly  marked!  If they’d not gone splashing around, I’d not have noticed them.

Here’s the rose garden from last year.  The daffodils were pretty, but the roses were not yet swelling with buds.

It was warm enough that I could sit out in the gardens and just relax.  And take pictures from where I was sitting.  I liked this picture because of the symmetry of the curve in the sky.

I took this one from the chair too.  I don’t know why those couple of branches are so dark.  That’s not a camera effect – it truly looked like that.

Anyhow, enough sitting around.  During my walk around the grounds, I took this picture  just because I thought it was cool.

And I liked the texture in this one.  Aren’t these trees just huge?

Every garden needs a touch of red.  I took this from the window of our room the next morning.  Can you tell that it was quite a bit colder by how fluffy the cardinal is?

So that is spring at Pennsbury Inn.  Click here for a prior post about Pennsbury Inn and click here for the next post about visiting Chadds Ford.

Experimenting With Topaz Labs Filters

The other day, MargeKatherine played around with some Photoshop Filters on her blog, Inside Out Cafe.  I left her comment encouraging her to try Topaz Labs plug-in filters and she said –

. . . get in there and play around and see what fun images you can create! And then show me!!

So I did!

Here’s the original photo:

© 2012 dogear6 llc

It’s not bad, but before I started playing, I did some minor cloning, color correction, keystone correction (i.e., where the picture skews because of the perspective), and enhanced the detail.  Then I cropped it to get rid of some rust and crummy looking stuff.  This is how it looked before I started playing:

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Here’s vintage grunge.  Not bad, eh?

© 2012 dogear6 llc

This one is sunset.  What a beautiful warm glow it gives the bricks!

© 2012 dogear6 llc

And this is from the black & white module.  It’s called Opalotype and I used the “milk effect”.  I did do some playing around as I didn’t like the default settings (called presets).

© 2012 dogear6 llc

And lastly, since I was playing(!), here is an effect called solarized dreams.  I like how the windows glow in it and was pleased with the overall look.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

I played with one other photo as well.  Here’s the original.  It’s very pretty “as is”, but I wanted to de-emphasis the background more, especially the bright pink splotches.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

I converted it to black & white, with some color restored and a few other adjustments.  It looks very delicate.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Topaz Labs filters are available at www.topazlabs.com.  If you take one of their webinars, a coupon is often available for purchasing the filters or the full suite.  The webinars are also available on YouTube about a week later.

Have you been over to A Daily Life?  Recent posts include Making Time To Write and Prompts to Share Your World.

Downright Pretty For A Brief Time

This is the fourth year the passion flower has bloomed on our mailbox.  The flowers don’t last but a few days, but they are downright spectacular when open.  The bees love them, getting between the yellow stamens and purple fringe.  I’ve seen as many as three of them, always going clockwise in a circle.

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Word for tomorrow – MELLOW.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Loose Thoughts

I have no particular topic for today, so thought I’d just throw out some loose thoughts.
  • I love doggy daycare.  It’s the best way to wear out the dogs and ensure a few days of somewhat more obedient dogs.  They love it too – they know that if I’m up before dark, they’re going out.  The daycare runs a doggy van out to a nearby apartment to pick up and drop off the dogs.  It doesn’t get any more convenient than that.
  • I can’t wait for this weekend.  I have things to get done, but I need some time off from the stress of working on tax returns.
  • I’m currently reading Tolstoy and The Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch.  When her sister died, Nina grieved deeply and couldn’t get on with her life.  After several years, she decided to read a book a day for a year to reflect, heal, find enjoyment in her life and move on from grieving.  I’m very much enjoying it so far.  She is introspective and articulately shares her reflections on death, grief, and living life.
  • The peaches are so good this time of the year.  I eat them every day if we have them in the house.
  • I don’t think I’ll have another vegetable garden next year.  The peppers have lots of flowers, but no peppers.  The tomatoes are ripening nicely but either the squirrels eat them or they are rotted on the end.  We are eating very few.  The squash is still doing good though.  I’ve never done a flower garden, but I might try one next year.
  • I love Greek yogurt, especially Fage 2%.  It’s so rich and creamy.  I add a little granola, some fruit, a little honey and yum!
  • The passion flower around our mailbox is finally starting to bloom, nearly a month late probably due to the extreme heat this summer.
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© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – FAIR.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Blasted Buds

One of the biggest frustrations my favorite boy toy had with his orchid business was a condition called bud blast.  It happens for a variety of reasons, from a rapid change in temperature to incorrect moisture in the greenhouse to just reasons unknown.  All that work, all that effort, and you now have to wait a whole year to again see blooms.

Our peonies outside do the same thing.  That usually happens because they start to bloom and the temperature drops or like this year, it started to rain and wouldn’t stop.  The peonies are so pretty, the blooms don’t last long anyhow, and blasted buds make it go that much faster.

Not every bud dropped off though.

Word for tomorrow – SCRIPT.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.