Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Peek Inside My LIfe

Outside My Window... we've got beautiful blue skies and sunshine, but threats of rain in the forecast. It's been the driest winter in several years, so we could use the rain.
Around the house and garden... Paul put the vegetable garden in this weekend. . . lettuce, squash, tomatoes, beans, herbs. The pear trees have started to blossom, and the apple trees are getting their buds. A few flowers have started to bloom.  I'm hoping to do a little more purging of the kids' rooms since they will be around this week.
I am thinking... about what the week will be like. I have to work, but both the kids are on school break. Clara sometimes finds herself at loose ends without structure. They both probably have some homework to do, too, which they never like doing on break. I know Clara has some knitting to finish up from a class she just finished. Henry missed a week of school, so he will have lots of catch-up for sure. I'd like to give them some house-cleaning chores as well.  Such random thoughts.
I am thankful for... the fact that Henry is returning home from Dallas today. He went for a week with his soccer team, and I really missed him. I am thankful his team was invited and they had the opportunity to play soccer against teams from all over the world (Canada, Mexico, Sweden and the U.S.).  I hope he enjoyed himself and grew from the experience.
From the kitchen... Paul got the cooking bug this last weekend. He made a beautiful spanakopita for Easter. Plus, there will be the inevitable (but welcome)  egg salad this week. And we've been enjoying lentejas (a slightly spicy Mexican lentil soup).
I am wearing ... my pajamas, but will be changing into my running shoes soon to get a run in with Clara. Training takes up a lot of time, but it is definitely worth it.
I am hoping ... that a big work event we have planned for Thursday night goes well. It's an annual lecture for our labor and employment law program.  I always worry about how it will turn out, even though it's always been a success so far (this is our ninth one).
I am reading... not much!  In the blog world, I am definitely enjoying Julie Kirk's blog series, "Push-Up Bra Blogging."  If you haven't seen it yet, check it out here.
I am busy creating... lots of stuff! I was very heavily into photography during March, but I'm thinking April may see a return to more mixed media.  Over the weekend, I finished my dry art journal for Kelly Kilmer's class. I'll post a class review soon. My iphonography class with Cheryl Johnson is also coming to an end soon. Ditto on the review post. I have a few scrapbook pages to post, too. Plus, the end of the month will bring my "Photo-Heart Connection" post, and the new month will witness my newest "Storytelling Sunday" post.
I am hearing... birds outside the window in the kitchen and Clara telling me it's time to get ready to go run.
What's going on in your life right now?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vintage Inspiration: dry art journal page

It's a very relaxing weekend around here, and I've seized the opportunity to do some creating. Today, I made three art journal pages, finishing up the "dry" art journal I began for Kelly Kilmer's class. This page started as a page about Easter, but somehow morphed into one about how my style is influenced by vintage elements. I like the colors and variety of elements.  The focal image is one of my favorite heritage photos - that's Paul's grandmother sitting in an ostrich cart in Griffith Park, California.
It's a rainy weekend, and I've been watching a lot of television.  Our cable provider has a "free" weekend for many premium channels and I watched the entire first season of Homeland! I really liked it, but they aren't showing season 2.  And, tonight, Paul and I are engaging in our annual viewing of The Ten Commandments. I may not be able to stay up until Moses gets the tablets, but I think I will make it through the parting of the Red Sea.
Do you watch any special shows for Easter?

Monthly Make: Purple Thank-You's

I made 24 thank-you cards today!  I have been so blessed with the outpouring of support from people supporting me and Clara in our training for a half-marathon and our fundraising to help find a cure for leukemia and lymphoma (you can read more about it here or click here to join us) that I have run out of thank-you cards in my extensive stash.  I wanted to make purple thank-you cards, as that is the color of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. So I gathered an assortment of purple papers and got to work.
How did I make them so quickly?  I used a couple of "assembly line" card making formulas that were developed by Julie Heyer of the Cape Cod Scrapper blog.  The first recipe is at this link, and the second one is here.  I used 24 sheets of 8.5x11 paper to create 24 cards. Pretty cool, huh? I'm calling this my Monthly Make for March (a project started by The Felt Fairy blog, which I am continuing this year, even if she is not formally running it this year due to her health).  
It felt really good to get back to card making after such a long time. I'd forgotten how nice it is to make cards. Let me know if you check out Julie's blog or if there's something you've returned to lately.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Photographer's Eye

Vignette #12: Cracks in the Wall
Walking to work past the plastered buildings, I suddenly noticed that each wall contained cracks. I stopped to examine them more closely. As I stared at the cracks, it seemed as if  whole worlds existed in the patterns they contained. My photographer's eye decided to capture one small square to see what the close-up would reveal. I think I see a cat, stretching her face up to the sun.  What do you see?
My Photographer's Eye is a semi-regular series designed to feature my instagram photography and a brief accompanying narrative. You can see the other vignettes in this series by clicking on this link

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marriage Equality: It's Time

Warning: Political Content!
Yesterday and today, the United States Supreme Court has considered two major cases about whether every person in the United States should be able to marry the person they love (even if that person is of the same sex). I have been a strong proponent of marriage equality for a long time.  In fact, I created this photograph a couple of years ago.  Although I have posted it several times before, it just seemed like the right time to post it again.
And, judging by Facebook, I am not alone in my support of marriage equality.  Many people have been changing their profile pictures to reflect support of marriage equality.  The first profile suggestion was very simple and straight-forward:
After that, several variations started to appear:
Beautiful Rings:
Delicious Truth:
Puppies for Equality:
King cake babies (a New Orleans mardi gras tradition) in support of equality:
The variations have been so much fun that it's hard to think anyone could be offended. I hope you haven't been! 
Come back Friday for a return to regular, nonpolitical content!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #12: World Baseball Classic

About a year ago, Henry and I were sitting at a baseball game at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and we saw advertisements for something called the "World Baseball Classic" which was coming to the stadium in March, 2013.  We talked about how it might be fun to get tickets and watch national teams from outside the United States come to our ball park to play. So, for Christmas this year, I bought tickets for Henry, and last Tuesday we watched the Dominican Republic beat Costa Rica in the championship game.  The game had a very different feel than a typical U.S. major league baseball game. There was much more music and lots of chanting and singing.  And a lot more emotion. It felt like a cross between a little league world series game and an international soccer match. Even though it was a bit of dreary night weather-wise, I'm glad we went. 
As a bonus, I thought it would also make a fun entry for my weekly look up//look down post, inspired by Helena. Looking down at the opening ceremonies and looking up at the confetti during the trophy ceremony. Although you can click on both pictures to see them in more detail, I think these photos do begin to show the limits of the iphone camera. It is hard to get really clear photos at a distance.  I still like the photo pair, as I feel they capture the atmosphere of a very fun night.
On the upside, the iphone really does a great job on videos. Check this look up//look down video taken during the celebration.  Click on this link. 

My Photographer's Eye

Vignette #11 A Riot of Poppies
The poppies didn't wait for the first day of spring to come to life. By the time the equinox arrived, they were rioting and rollicking and spilling from their container. Almost past their prime, my photographer's eye recognized their beauty in the urban landscape and stopped to document it.
My Photographer's Eye is a semi-regular series designed to feature my instagram photography and a brief accompanying narrative. You can see the other vignettes in this series by clicking on this link.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Busy Weekend

Come on in, put your feet up and let me tell you about my weekend - it was very busy but very fun!  It started on Friday when I got together with my oldest friend in the world.  No, she's not that old (in fact, she's only six weeks older than me), but I have known her longer than any of my other friends.  We met in 8th grade and became bonded almost immediately.  We have shared all our major life experiences - going through college, getting married, having kids, etc. - together. Even though we haven't seen each other in several years, we picked up right where we left off. We went to a spa and then lunch. It was a terrific morning of friendship and nonstop talking.  I rushed back to town to catch a bit of Henry's baseball game and then set up for the soccer awards banquet.
It was a terrific evening.  Henry received a certificate and star for being named the the All-League First Team and the Team MVP award.  The best part of the evening came when the coach awarded him the Luis Mintegui Award,  a perpetual trophy, which stays at the school with the recipient's name engraved and which is awarded to the student athlete who best represents the values of respect, achievement, excellence, teamwork and leadership.  Coach Victor is a pretty gruff guy, but he got visibly emotional when talking about Henry and how much he would miss having him around.  My heart about exploded with pride!
I got up early Saturday morning, and Clara and I ran ten miles!!! It took us a little less than two hours (she could have finished much faster, but she didn't want to leave me alone). It's the longest I have ever run, and afterwards, my knees hurt.  Luckily, I knew what to do about that:
I applied bags of ice to my knees and a little vodka to my pain receptors!  I felt perfectly fine by the time evening rolled around, and we went to see our friends' kids perform in a local high school musical.  
Sunday was much quieter. I did laundry, started to catch up on blog-reading and commenting and relaxed.  Clara was nursing a cold, and Henry reported in from Dallas, Texas!
His club soccer team was invited to participate in the Dallas Cup, the largest international soccer tournament for youth players in this country.  They start group play tomorrow. The three other teams in the group are from Texas, Mexico and Sweden! The opening ceremonies were held in the Cotton Bowl, and he said it was really cool.
I have a busy work week ahead of me, but it will be a little easier with only having one child to get up and out the door and to attend to, I hope!  Off to read your blogs and see what you've been up to this last weekend and will be doing this week.
Linking up to Abi's tea posts, check out other chatty posts here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Iphonography: Water

{cropped, edited with snapseed "drama" plus added a frame}
The Cheryl Johnson iphonography class I'm taking features a series of weekly photo prompts. One of the prompts for this week is "water."  Paul and I met some friends at Stow Lake in San Francisco to rent row boats, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to work on the prompt.  The photo up top is a fairly abstract take on the prompt. It's an example of what I think of as digital art, as opposed to an actual photo enhanced with actions.
{straight out of the camera}
I love this shot of the row boats, all lined up and ready to go. Nice late afternoon light; good composition. It defines water by focusing on something other than water, which I think is a nice way to react to a prompt. I like how it is a fairly pure photograph.  Shots three and four take a different approach, with respect to processing.
{edited in snap seed using vintage, plus added frame}
{edited in snap seed using vintage and drama, plus added frame}
I think of these as photographs significantly altered or changed, with the use of digital enhancements.  I go back-and-forth about how much digital enhancement I like using in my photography (emphasizing that this is about me and my style, and I am in no way trying to dictate what others should do).  At the end of the day, I think I prefer things straight out of the camera.  On the other hand, I see the beauty of the vintage bridge (which has an instagram feel to it) and think that either the dripping oar or the first shot might be the best illustration of the prompt "water." 
 I'm really interested in your thoughts - about digital enhancement/digital art vs. straight out of the camera photography, as well as which photo I should submit for this week's assignment.  Thanks for your input!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #11 Out Back

Two pictures taken, in instagram, standing in my back yard.  One looking up at the back of the house.  One looking down at some mushrooms.  I see interesting contrasts in shape and nice symmetry in scale.  What do you see?
"Look up//Look down," a weekly photography exercise is the brain child of Helena.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Simple Moment in March

March 15, 11:30 p.m.
It's Friday night, and the house is very quiet. Henry and Clara are both spending the night at friends' houses.  Paul turned in a while ago, and I can hear him gently snoring down stairs.  Aria has made herself comfortable here on the couch with me. She misses her "mom" when Clara is gone.  Later on, she'll nose Clara's bedroom door open, peeking inside, looking for her, before settling down to sleep in our room. I spy J.J. curled up on her cat perch across the room, and I wonder where Gypsy has fallen asleep.  I know she is not far away.  All three will follow me down stairs in a minute. For now, I turn off the television and sink into the soft cushions, pausing to think about the quiet of the house.  In a few years, with a little luck, both the kids will be away at college. Moments like this will become commonplace.  I push that thought away and resolve to stop complaining about how busy the kids keep me.  I am not yet ready for an empty nest.
Simply a Moment is a monthly writing meme developed by Alexa of Trimming the Sails. To read other moments or to join in, click on this link.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hello Monday

{Hello Monday} . . . a meme started by Lisa Leonard
Hello Baseball . . . Henry's baseball team is finishing their preseason schedule, and they start their league games this week.  He's been fielding really well, but he's still waiting for his bat to get hot. Because of my teaching schedule, I haven't been able to see very many games. So I really appreciate it when I can get out to diamond.
Hello Recommitment . . . Now that Clara and I have been working with Team in Training for about six weeks, we're being asked to fully commit to finish our training for the Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon and to raise $5,000. We have both enthusiastically said, "Yes, we're in!"  On Saturday, we ran seven miles. Seven! And I felt pretty good. Next Saturday, we will run ten miles. Ten! We have also raised over $3,000 so far!  If you want to learn more and join us in our journey, click on this link
Hello Work, Work and More Work . . . There's a lot going on at the office right now, and I'm teaching a lot. So, it's been keeping me away from creating and my blog.
Hello Google Reader alternatives . . . I follow all my favorite blogs on google reader, so I'm exploring alternatives. But for now, I'm going to watch and wait.
Hello more photography and some actual scrapbook pages this week . . . and "a moment in time," as well. All on my blog.
What are you saying hello to this week?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Let's Talk Iphone Photography

I'm taking Cheryl Johnson's iphone photography class, and it's really got me thinking about how to use my iphone camera.  I've traditionally just used it to capture a few snapshots when I travel (or to post on facebook), but in this class, I've been using it for something more like fine art photography.
In addition to taking instagram photos, I've discovered Snapseed, which is an app that offers a wide range of editing choices.
I've also learned to use the HDR function on my iphone:
and how to take panoramic pictures, too:
I've learned there are even  lenses you can buy for your iphone camera and tripods or tripod attachments!
The take-away of all this for me, so far, is that the iphone camera is a very good point and shoot camera, with lots of capabilities. I still haven't tried to print photographs taken on my iphone yet, but that's my next step. 
There's so much more to the iphone than I ever realized. What about you? How do you use your iphone? Do you treat it like a real camera?  Or simply something to snap photos for facebook or your blog?  Let's talk about it.
"Let's Talk" is a semi-regular series designed to inspire frank discussion and sharing of information on issues relating to photography, art and blogging. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Iphone Self Portraits

I'm taking Cheryl Johnson's iphoneography class, and it's really got me using my iphone camera a lot more.  The first assignment was to take a self-portrait,which I think is perfect for an iphone camera class because I think the iphone has led to a HUGE INCREASE in the number of self-portraits that people take (even if most people aren't consciously thinking about the millions of photos they take of themselves and post to facebook as "self-portraits"). I submitted the self-portrait above for the assignment. It's me, in my office at work.  Being able to "reverse the lens" and see yourself while taking the picture really helps. I've also gotten better at having a more natural expression in self-portraits.  I also took these two self portraits on the same day (one in the car, one on the walk into work):
Sometimes I like to take more abstract self-portraits, like this one:
It's me, looking into my iphone, about to examine the photos on my "camera roll."  Yes, I have to look over my glasses to see things which are that small!  And, yes, I did just recently get my roots done. Ha!
Finally, I offer a totally silly self-portrait:
Because iphone cameras just seem to make people want to pull faces. Why is that, I wonder?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #10: University of Oregon

Helena is hosting a year-long photography meme, where once a week participants post a pair of photographs - one looking up and one looking down. My pair of photographs this week were taken at the University of Oregon . . . looking up at a laughing bust of Einstein and looking down a tunnel to the football field at Autzen Stadium.  It's nice to post a pair "on location," away from my back yard. Don't you think?

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Photographer's Eye

Vignette #10:  The Back Garden Gate
Oh, how the dogs wish I would unlatch the gate and let them run free!  When they look at the latch, they see the possibility of freedom. When my photographer's eye sees the latch, it sees the beautiful texture of the wood and the gorgeous color of the rust. I snap the photograph, turn and walk back towards the house.  I call the dogs, and they reluctantly follow me inside.
My Photographer's Eye is a semi-regular series designed to feature my instagram photography and a brief accompanying narrative. You can see the other vignettes in this series by clicking on this link

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A few days in Oregon with my boy

I'm currently sitting in the Eugene, Oregon airport. I've been here all day, as United Airlines had a very bad day cancelling three major flights this morning, resulting in long delays. But, it's all good because I've spent a few days with one of my favorite people in the world, and we should be home sleeping in our own beds tonight.  Our adventure began with a plan to tour two Oregon Universities that Henry is thinking about attending.  We arrived in Eugene on Thursday and rented an electric blue Mustang, which Henry said was "so cool."
We drove up to Oregon State in Corvallis and were pleasantly surprised by what we found there:
We met a lot of friendly people, and Henry found the size of the campus and town very "comfortable." They had some interesting things to offer in the business school and we came away more impressed than we had expected.  
Next stop was my friend Fay's house. There could not be a more welcoming hostess! She put us up and provided the perfect balance of hospitality and letting us do our own thing. We woke on Friday to a fantastic breakfast of coddled eggs and scones.
Then it was off to a full day at the University of Oregon, including tours, individual meetings and a baseball game!
The University of Oregon would be a bit more of a jump for my boy from his cozy surroundings at home, but he had to admit that the program fit him perfectly.  And he really liked it! I think it may end up being his ultimate choice.  They do a lot to make sure that each student feels like an individual and doesn't get lost. The sports business curriculum and opportunities (which is what he wants to do) are outstanding.  He could play "club soccer," at a competitive level but not have his life totally consumed by athletics. He thinks it's the best program for his interests but he's not quite sure he's ready to spread his wings so far from home.  I think he is, but part of me will be devastated if he goes that far away. I've been pushing him to take a risk and go for a true University environment, but now, as I look at him, sitting across the airport table from me, I know I will miss him terribly and worry if he chooses this instead of a "safe, more comfortable" option closer to home.
Whatever he decides, I know I will always treasure the days we have spent together so far and will be proud of the man he is becoming.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #9: Signs of Spring

My yard is starting to show the first signs of spring, and I decided to capture them for this week's edition of "Look Up//Look Down," a photography meme started by Helena.  The plum tree is always the first fruit tree to blossom, and it often loses most of them to hard rains. My apple and pear trees won't blossom for another month. When I look down, the surprise lillies are starting to blossom as well. I thought the color contrast between the pair was nice, and I liked the similar vertical orientation of the two.  As an added bonus, I took both of the photos while standing in the same spot. 
There's another sign of spring around here, and that's baseball.  I couldn't help sharing a Look Up//Look Down pair from a recent afternoon at the yard. 
I love the repeated orange and black and the way the two photos blend together, with a visual triangle being formed with the cougar log and helmets.
I hope it's okay to share more than one pair this week!  If you had to choose just one, which would it be? Are there signs of spring arriving where you live yet? Or fall for those down under?