What Is Orange?

So what is orange?

Orange is warmth and sunlight, whether on my face or basking in a smile from my daughter.

My daughter in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.  Post processed with Topaz Effects "Exposure Correction" and on1 frame "Platinum Brush".
My daughter in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine.

Orange is the glory of flowers, showing off their brilliance for all to see and enjoy.

Marigolds taken in the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.  Processed with Topaz Impressions "Abstract 2" and on1 border "Dano".
Marigolds taken in the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

It is delicate sunrises and spectacular sunsets.

Sunset in Richmond, Virginia.  Post processed with Topaz Effects "Warm Tone 2" and on1 border "Sloppy Border 8".
Sunset in Richmond, Virginia.

It is fruits and vegetables, lined up gaily, whether for eating or decorations.

20111031 (170) Blog
Pumpkins taken in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.


Orange is the first beauty of fall, the beginning of the long slide into winter (of which I’ve had enough, thank you).

Gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.  Processed in Lightroom with on1 border "Ghost Effect Black".
Gazebo at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.

It’s the color of a beagle’s head, waiting to be petted.

Beagle in the backyard.  Post processed with Topaz Impressions "Oil Painting by Jim LaSala" and on1 border "Russell".
Beagle in the backyard.

To see how others interpreted this week’s photo challenge for orange, click here.

Inspiration and A Funny Story

I’d like to thank Robin at Reflections For My Soul. The flowers she posted reminded me of warmth and sunlight. The day I viewed them, we had just had sleet and snow and then the temperatures went below freezing and stayed there.

Funny story there – I have two Robin’s who follow my blog and regularly leave comments. Yep, two of them. So when Robin at Reflections For My Soul started following me, I was initially confused, thinking that Robin at Breezes at Dawn had changed her avatar from the pictures of her crossed feet to that of a western style hat. It took me a few days to realize that no, I actually had two blogging friends named Robin and they were not the same person.

Before and After

Interested in the before and after of these photos? The sunset was truly that spectacular, being caused by a fire in the Great Dismal Swamp (yes, that’s really it’s name), causing a high level of air pollution due to the particulates it was throwing up.  The best camera is the one you have with and that night it was my old Canon point and shoot, the Pro1. It didn’t have a lot of megapixels, but I got the shot! I posted another version of this several years ago, here.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had some discussions with Stacy Fisher at Visual Venturing and Dee & Gee at Dee Gee’s Photograph Australia about camera gear and post processing our pictures. The reason I bring it up is to encourage you to look closer at these pictures. It is wonderful to have good gear, which is why I upgraded last year from the Canon Rebel 3Ti to a Canon 6D.  It’s also wonderful to use camera raw to get some extra help when post processing your photos.

But we can take the pictures from the old point and shoots, the pictures we took in jpg instead of camera raw, and the pictures that are just marginal, and make them better. They’re still usable! Yes, they might be better with a better camera, but at least for me, it was an evolution. My husband about sat on me to get to me upgrade my old point and shoot to a DSLR, the Rebel (I wouldn’t spend more than that). Even then, I wouldn’t shoot raw nor was I using Lightroom yet. Finally – FINALLY – I started using Lightroom. Cee Neuner and Steve Schwartzman in the blogging community encouraged me to shoot raw when I asked how they were shooting reds without the colors looking muddy.  My husband was happy for someone else to convince me to do it since he was unable to do so.

So here are the before and after shots, with the camera and type of shot used. Remember that with a jpg, the camera is making post processing decisions for you. That is why, straight out of the camera, a jpg looks pretty good. With camera raw, the camera makes no or minimal decisions, depending on your settings. You have to tell it everything, which is why the raw pictures below look so poor. The upside is there is a great more data available, so a picture can be really pushed with processing before it develops problems.

Taken with the Canon EOS 6D, using camera raw:

Taken with the Canon Rebel 3Ti, using camera raw:

Taken with the Canon Powershot Pro1, using jpg:

Taken with the Canon Rebel 3Ti, using jpg:

Taken with the Canon Rebel 3Ti, using jpg:

Taken with the Canon EOS 6D, using camera raw:

So stay encouraged. Keep taking pictures. Keep improving. And keep using the old pictures as well as the new. You’ve worked hard for your inventory and even if you can’t use them now, who knows what future software will make them usable?

For those who read this all the way to the bottom (thank you!), here is a final thought:

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.
– Frederick Buechner, American writer and theologian

Have a good week!


Wordless Wednesday: Orange

My riff on this week’s Wordless Wednesday comes from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week.


Travel Theme Challenge: Foliage

Ailsa, over at Where’s My Backpack, invited me to join her travel theme challenges with my photos.  I had a great time browsing her blog – she has a post about the Eternal Flame Falls near Buffalo, New York.  It’s not very far from where I took this photo from Letchworth and is undoubtedly part of the same geological upheaval that created Niagara Falls.

Part of the fun of the photo challenges is the opportunity to go back through my photos, ooh and aah over them and then pick a few to share.

I decided to show foliage from all four seasons, as a reminder of the changing seasons.

Winter – Freshly fallen snow brings such a beauty to the landscape, but I enjoy it much more if I don’t have to go to work.  I love my snow best from inside my house, preferably with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand.  I don’t spend as much time outside in the cold, so it’s finally time to work on my indoor projects.  I love Sunday afternoons snuggled under my electric afghan, reading a book.

My backyard

Spring – After the cold, snow and ice of winter, spring is such a welcome relief.  It’s still cool enough to need heavier coats and clothing, but at least my hands and feet aren’t so cold!  Once the temperature hits 38 degrees, I’m back outside walking during my lunch break at work.  The flowers start coming out now, giving food to bees who are starting to waken.  I love the cold hardy plants that make their appearance and keep on growing, even through several more frosts.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Summer – I grew up in and lived in the Midwest for many years, so the lethal heat and humidity of the summer is not a surprise.  I do wish it wouldn’t last so long though!  A new round of flowers are blooming now, from daylilies to hollyhocks.  The dragonflies are out, so are the butterflies and bees.  I love the early morning of summer, when it’s quiet and peaceful and the dew is on the ground.  I enjoy sitting out there and just relaxing for a few minutes before going to work.

Taken at Colonial Williamsburg

Fall – I think fall is my favorite season.  The nights are cool and I can sleep with the windows open, but the days are warm enough for shorts and T-shirts.  The marigolds and mums are in full bloom during this time and will survive even an early frost, as will the thyme and mint in my garden.

Fall has such a noticeable progression, more so than any other season.  First the leaves are green, but drying out so that they make a clacking noise in the wind.  Gradually they start turning colors and dropping off the trees.  Finally the fall colors come into a full riot of reds, yellows and oranges.  It might last but a few days, especially if its rainy during the peak colors.  As fall winds down, some leaves cling stubbornly to the trees, way past the others, creating a minimalist beauty of their own.

Maryland Side of the C&O Canal
(Near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia)

Thoreau once said,

Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.

This quote is where the name of my blog came from – a reminder to live each season fully and not be wishing ahead to what’s coming next.  Live in there here and now, let it influence my life however big or small, and enjoy the present moment.

The seasons are, of course, not only the physical changes that happen with the passing of each month, but also the seasons of life.  Enjoy each one so that when it passes, there are no regrets.

What To Choose, What To Choose

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday question asks what I’m looking forward to doing this year.  It was a great question to come after my post yesterday about goal ideas for 2012.

But wow, what to choose?  I have so many things I want to do in 2012.  Eventually I realized that the two things I’m looking forward to were not on my goals list.  That’s not a problem – I can add them to the list.  I forgot to put NaNoWriMo on there too.

So here’s what I’m looking forward to doing this year:

  • Exploring
  • Reading outside on the deck

Reading outside on the deck is about as easy as it gets.  All I need is some good weather (or shade) and something to read.  It might be on my iPad, it might be from the library, it might be a magazine or even an instruction manual.  Not that I like to spend much time reading instruction manuals.  Boooooring.

But the exploring will take more thought.  My favorite boy toy and I took two short trips last year, to Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania and to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  We went to Chadd’s Ford to trace the footsteps of N.C. Wyeth and his family.  We went to West Virginia to chase the fall colors.

Both trips were fun.  We hadn’t done that kind of travel for years.  Extra money has usually been spent sending my boy toy on photo trips and vacation time spent visiting with family.  It’s also expensive to stay in hotels, eat out, and kennel the dogs.  But oh did we enjoy it.

I’m not sure I’d go back to Chadds Ford.  The Wyeth’s were actually not as big a deal as I expected and the accessibility was very restricted.  I would go back to Harper’s Ferry.  The picture taking wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped for, but we just enjoyed being there.

By the way – I’ve made a new friend in Harper’s Ferry since returning from there.  Steam From Harper’s Ferry is a “Victorian/Steampunk themed gallery and print shop” and her blog has detailed historical write-ups about the area.  Check it out!  I’d love to learn about stuff like that from where I live.

So here’s some ideas I have for where I’d travel to next:

  • Concord Massachusetts to retrace Henry David Thoreau’s stomping grounds.  I was there 20+ years ago for a short visit but have never been able to go back.  KittyHere was there earlier this year and said it was a beautiful area to visit.
  • Outer Banks in North Carolina – I’d love to see the ocean.  We were going to do it last fall until the hurricane created so much damage.
  • There are several botanical gardens along Highway 85 as we go to our daughter’s house, in North and South Carolina.  I’d love to visit them.
  • Charleston, South Carolina – I went here on a business trip years ago and was sorry I didn’t stay over the weekend to check it out.
  • Chincoteague Island, Virginia to see the wild ponies (anyone remember reading Marguerite Henry’s books?).
  • Savannah, Georgia – it’s supposed to be beautiful there.
  • Callaway Gardens, Georgia – also supposed to be pretty.

Locally, there all kinds of exploring to do, but I don’t generally keep a running list of those.  My boy toy and I are of the “let’s go out for breakfast and then decide what to do”.  Plus, we still have our passes for Williamsburg and the local botanical garden to use.

I know we’ll go exploring frequently.  Whether we go for several days, I don’t know.  But my list is ready if we decide to take off!

Next Thursday’s topic is how I would like to change the world.

Today’s  small stones is under the photo.  Interested in learning how to use a hyperlink?  A Daily Life tells you how to add it to your posts.

My Mom loved yesterday’s photo!  She thought it would be funny to see the min pin all by himself in the great big bed.  Well you know what, I took a picture of that too.  Here’s you are – 100 pounds of dog in one bed, and 7 pounds in the other.  Because eeew!  Who wants to touch a min pin??

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Today’s small stones:

I opened the linen closet today to take out a washcloth for my shower.  I love having clean towels and having a clean washcloth to use each day.  It’s a big stack of washclothes when they’re clean – about 20 – because I use a clean one every day and I only do laundry every other week.  Their texture is rough when they’re dry, a good way to dry my eyes when that first burst of water hits my face.  What a pleasure though to open the closet door each morning, see that stack of clean washclothes, and smell the freshness of the towels in there.

Bed and Breakfast Instead Of A Hotel

The pictures from chasing the fall colors are on Shutterfly and can be found at http://dogear6.shutterfly.com/.  Please remember that the copyright rules at the right apply.

My favorite boy toy and I made a decision with our recent trip to stay again in a bed and breakfast, as we did in May when we went to Pennsylvania (see Thursday in this post).  Having done it for a second time, we will definitely be doing it more in the future.

So why a B&B instead of a hotel?

  • Quiet – typically children under 12 are not allowed nor are pets
  • Limited number of guests
  • Breakfast the next morning – a gourmet treat
  • Clean – and I mean clean
  • Common rooms where you can spread out books & laptops, visit with other guests, and relax
  • Innkeepers who visit, want to know what you did, offer suggestions, and answer multiple questions – they’ve answered so many questions they know what you should be asking even if you don’t
  • Pride of ownership of sharing their home with you
  • Warm welcomes and warm goodbyes

There are some downsides to a bed and breakfast.  Once a reservation is made, it is difficult to change on short notice without a penalty.  A B&B can be more expensive than a hotel, depending on where you stay.  There’s no gift shop or vending machines, although both places provided after hours snacks and drinks.  The breakfast menu is set unless you’ve made a special request or have dietary restrictions that you mentioned beforehand.

This time we stayed at Laurel Lodge in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, run by Chris Craig and his partner, Ed Wheeless.  I didn’t take many pictures of it as their website has good photos on it.  The rooms were very comfortable, the house beautifully decorated, and it was in a wonderful location overlooking the Potomac River.  It was at the end of a quiet street, complete with a friendly black cat who came for a pet each time we went in and out to our car.

All three breakfasts were incredible!  We started with juice and a homemade bread (scones, biscuits, coffee cake), a fruit (stewed apple crumble, fresh fruit, broiled grapefruit), and a main dish (omelets, pumpkin waffles one day).  It was the highlight of the day.

There are several ways to find a bed and breakfast on the Internet.  You can Google for bed and breakfast + city name + state.  Two great sites that I use are http://www.tripadvisor.com/ and http://www.bbonline.com/.  I read reviews and go out to the individual websites to look at pictures and read descriptions.  I also put my own reviews out there afterwards.  These are very small businesses and a good review will help them get future business.

Laurel Lodge in Harper's Ferry

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

Conductor Of My Symphony

William Henry Channing (1810 – 1884), is credited with this inspirational quote about life:

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard;
to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never;
in a word,
to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common —
this is my symphony.

I love this and have a wonderful book by Mary Engelbreidt in which she illustrates  this sentiment.

It’s hard though to be the conductor of my life and to live up to this symphony.  These last few days I’ve been on vacation and was surprised at how empty  my brain was most of the time.

I sat along the Skyline Drive as I waited for my favorite boy toy to take his many pictures, looking at the mountains, feeling the warm rock on my bottom and the cool mountain air across my face.  And I thought about. . . nothing.  I found it hard to even pray.  I simply sat and enjoyed, which was perfect for the moment.

So how do I make my life my symphony, my magnum opus, which Wikipedia says:

. . . refers to the largest, and perhaps the best, greatest, most popular, or most renowned achievement of a writer, artist, or composer.

My relationships are part of my symphony – talking frequently to my daughter, mother and sister.  Writing letters to my niece.  Staying in touch with my friends.  Mentoring my employees.

My house is nice, but not fancy.  Most everything in it is loved, well used and comfortable.

My journals and photographies are part of my symphony, the recording of my life.  I look through them to see what I did, who I did it with, and what I enjoyed at the moment.  My journals fill in details the camera can’t catch, such as my emotions and the small details that happen so quickly.

I don’t look up at the stars as often as I’d like, but it is nice to step out on the deck late at night and look upwards before I call in the beagle one last time.  He usually comes quickly so he can get a cuddle before the going in.  The others are in already, so he gets attention without any competition.

I’m starting to put together ideas for goals for 2012.  I plan to revisit this topic as I consider what should be important for me for the rest of this year, next year, and after that.  For now though, it is good to remember that my life is my symphony, and I need to be a diligent conductor of how it plays.

This little wren hopped right in front of me as I was photographing the fall colors along the Potomac River.  Having a song in my heart is another way to enjoy life’s symphony.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

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

Chasing Fall Colors – Day 3

My favorite boy toy and I were out all day yesterday to take pictures.  We hiked up and down hills and stairs, visited battlefields, and did some driving around the countryside.

After a late supper, we went straight to bed, which is why there were no photos this morning for you. Today was a drive back the long way home via Skyline Drive.  This goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Shenandoah National Park on the western side of Virginia.  We pulled off at nearly every overlook, even if it wasn’t picturesque enough to take photos.

So here are photos from yesterday, then I’m off to unpack and get ready for bed.  Tomorrow is back to regularly scheduled programming (i.e., back to work).

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

Chasing Fall Colors – Day 2

My favorite boy toy and I spent all day yesterday outside, hiking and taking pictures.  Needless to say, we were pretty tired by the end of the day.  The lighting wasn’t too good, but adjusting my pictures will have to wait for a different day.

Here’s some more pictures for you.  We’re having fun exploring and I will share more later.

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Just a reminder that today is All Saint’s Day.  Although it is not a biblical or legal holiday, it is a good day to remember those who are no longer here and give a prayer of thanks for the good things they brought to your life.

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


Fall Colors in West Virginia

My favorite boy toy and myself are off chasing the fall colors.  I had a different topic in mind for today’s post, but my staff wants to see pictures.  So here’s a slide show of yesterday’s highlights, straight from the camera.

There’s snow up here, although it’s melting quickly.  The colors are pretty, but we haven’t yet found many places to take pictures from.  Since never been here before, it’s a learning curve of driving around, getting lost, and asking questions.

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By the way, today is a favorite anniversary of mine – Reformation Day.  For a modern English translation of Martin Luther’s objections to the Catholic teachings in 1517, click hereCharisma Magazine had a recent article on the need for reformation within today’s church that is worth reading.  Don’t stop reading because it talks about reform in the charismatic churches – this article has application to all religions.

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