A Busy Sunday Afternoon

Today we are all being productive, I decided to bake some muffins with the old bananas, and put on a loaf of bread to have hotshots for dinner (for those who don’t know, that is turkey and gravy on toast with any other Thanksgiving leftovers you want).

_MG_6181-xHubby went out in the garage to work on a few things. As usual he got sidetracked, this time with the rack that holds the extensions for the dining table we use for Thanksgiving. This table has been in the family ever since his grandparents. So the rack has seen some wear, and needed some attention.

The girls decided to put up the Christmas decorations in the yard. I was sitting on the couch watching a photography show waiting for the muffins to bake, and heard them laughing. As soon as the muffins were done I grabbed my camera and went out. You see, I had a realization while I was listening to their laughter, that this is the last year. Sometime in the next month or so the final two birds will leave the nest. Next year all my babies will have their own homes to decorate. They will no longer wake up Christmas morning at Mom and Dad’s house to the excitement of opening their stockings.

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I have been very fortunate to be able to spend such quality time with my kids over the years. The times in the kitchen with the oldest, sewing, and crafts. Those wonderful shopping trips with my son, and hours working in the yard together. Working on special projects with the wild child, like putting together Christmas packages for Kinship Families, traveling, and crafting with paint. The adventures that the youngest and I have gone on, and sharing the joy of photography. I know it hasn’t all ended, but it is changing. It is time to move into another stage of life. They are all adults now, and the nest will be empty. So now I get to purge!!!

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Yes, the joy of the kids having their own homes. We get to pawn off all those things we have been ‘storing’ for them. Also the things we have owned through the years, and just can’t seem to get rid of. You pass them down, and let your children enjoy them. The garage will slowly empty, and we might just have enough room to park the car, and Hubby have his workbench set up, at the same time!

Which brings me back to why I went outside with my camera. I took pictures of all three of them, doing what they were doing. Capturing those memories in the best way I know. With my camera.

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Winnie the Pooh was my first Christmas gift from Hubby, 20 years ago. He is a little faded, and cracked, but it isn’t Christmas without him.

Gnomes and Fairytales

_MG_5834-xA while back I went to the 2nd Street Market with the youngest for one of our rambles. I took a picture of a garden gnome for sale on a shelf. The picture made me smile, but I wasn’t thrilled with it technically. So when I went back with my friend recently I looked for him. He had moved, but was still there. So I took another shot. This one is better, but still not what I was looking for. It still makes me smile though, which made me ask a question. What is it about gnomes?

I remember reading that England’s Chelsea Flower Show actually banned the little guys. They said they detracted from the gardens, but people thought it was more snobbery. I gather upper-class people don’t care for gnomes in their gardens.

As a child one of my very favorite books was “The Adventures of Pip” by Enid Blyton. Now Pip was a pixie, not a gnome. But it was all about the fairytale world. Enid Blyton also wrote “The Wishing Chair” series. Two children, Mollie and Peter find this wonderful chair that grows wings and takes them on adventures. They find a pixie Chinky, who lives in their playroom with the chair. They have all sorts of adventures together, and even some with gnomes.

It has been a number of years ago now, but I have a story about my Pip book. My grandmother had passed away the previous summer. We drove down to Tucson from Cheyenne for Christmas and rented a U-Haul to bring back her things. On the way back our Suburban caught on fire, and we lost everything in it (the U-Haul and contents were fine). One of the children had the book with them to read on the trip, so we lost it too. We had insurance, and the ability to replace almost everything. This book was a very important one, not just to me but them as well. It thrilled me to no end to hear my children ask me to make sure and get a new copy. I did manage to find one, as it seemed to have become one of their favorites too.

Last year for Father’s Day my son and his wife gave Hubby a gnome. Yes, a more current and up to date one with a laptop. So they are keeping up with the times. It isn’t out in the garden, as we wouldn’t be able to enjoy it so much there. He actually sits by our TV. But it makes me yearn for those times when I read fairytales to my children, and they enjoyed the fantasy of it all, and so did I.

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3-day Shipping

Ok, here is the ultimate in waste and stupidity. I want you to take a really good look at the picture on this post. You will see a couch full of packing, 12 boxes, and 8 Fiestaware Luncheon Plates. Not dinner plates, the smaller lunch ones.

_MG_6134xThree days ago I placed an order with Elder Beerman. Once a year they have a great sale where I will order some Fiestaware to add to my collection. This year I ordered the plates which are usually $16 and paid $5.64 each. So you can see it is a good deal. I started getting a number of emails saying one or two were being shipped at a time, nine emails total. My assumption was they were coming from different distribution centers.

We got a call from our bank while I was out. They left a message to call their fraudulent department. I called the number and it was all automated. They had 3 charges from Bon Ton (Elder Beerman’s parent company). Two matched the charges I had in the emails, the third didn’t. But there was no option that fit that problem. Just yes you made the charges, or no it is fraud. So I waited to be put through to a person, was on hold for who knows how long, and then disconnected. I called the number on the back of my credit card. This time I got a nice man who took care of it and said to wait until all are shipped, check my charges, and if a problem call back. He would make a note of it on my account. About an hour later I get another call from the bank, a different guy, wanting to confirm the charges. Guess he didn’t see the note on the account. I had to go over it all again.

A little later the doorbell rings. It is FedEx with two boxes, one big, one small. The big one had two smaller boxes in it, each had one plate. The second box was smaller, and inside it was another plate. I had the 3 red ones. Don’t forget all the packing that came with it. Oh and the sample of “La vie est belle” perfume from Lacome. Which has made my whole house smell like a French bordello!

This afternoon the mailman came to the door, with 3 big boxes, and one small. I managed to get one opened when the doorbell rang, and he was back with another large box! Do you have any idea how long it takes to open all these boxes! Let alone unwrap all the bubble wrap. Yes, the boxes inside the box were wrapped! The hardest part, getting the stupid price tag off the bottom of the plates!

Yes, I am a bit manic right now. The youngest came home just as I started to write this. When she saw the pile of packing materials she just stared. She would look at me, then back at the pile, then back at me. Simply speechless. Yes, I was shipped 8 plates in 12 boxes, 3-day shipping. But the kicker. They all came from the same distribution center that is 11 miles from my house!

Oh, I still have one more plate to come . . . Thanks Elder Beerman. The oldest is moving next month. I have a pile of packing materials for her to use 🙂


Follow-up:
The last plate arrived the next day. For shipping one plate I am kinda ok with this. One of the smaller boxes, with one air-pillow in the top. Under was the plate in a bubble wrap envelope, and then wrapped up in more bubble wrap. A little overkill, but it did _MG_6140xhelp fill the box. Oh, and yes, it also came from the same distribution center.

Overall, I still do not understand this. I ordered nine plates and all were shipped from the same place, almost one at a time. They couldn’t collect them all and ship them at once?

On a positive note, not one break or scratch, packing for my daughter’s move, and I do love my plates 🙂

Worth the Money?

I was at physical therapy yesterday. I am going to get my muscles straightened out. Some are too tight, others loose, so we are stretching and strengthening them. This is the same PT Hubby went to for his shoulder, so he knows him too. The PT and his wife are expecting their first child in the spring. He said to me, “I understand you don’t shoot weddings.” My response was, “God no!” He asked me why? I explained that I photograph for the joy of it. Although weddings are supposed to be a joyful time, they are full of stress. I’m sure he had heard of a “Bridezilla”. He asked if I would do a pregnancy shoot. I told him I have never done one, but I would love to. So we are going to when she is big enough :-)

Now last month I did a Senior Portrait shoot for a friend of mine. I really am not into portrait work, but for friends I have always made an exception. This past weekend I did another event shoot for American Red Cross in Cincinnati. I really do enjoy it, but more so the reactions I get from people afterwards. The CEO really made me feel good because she is going to share the pictures with the board next week. She said, “You really captured the energy of the events and the dedication of the volunteers.” Wow, I accomplish what I set out to do, how cool is that!!!

So, now I have to move forward with my business. I have a domain, and email. I have even built the site a time or two. But I have not had that confidence to say I am ready. I think I am just about there. But now it is deciding how much I am worth. I am still on the cusp of being aware of what people say vs being wrapped up in work. The biggest issue photographers have is people thinking they are overpriced. Things like, “he wants $4,000 to shoot our wedding. Why does he need $1,000 an hour?!”

(This is where I use my blog to work through my thoughts. So forgive me for how long this is.) There is so much involved in doing a wedding! Not just the 4 hours they are there. All the time spent with the clients before the wedding, often pre-wedding pictures or engagement ones. If you want to do a real good job you do something with them before hand to get the feel of who they are. Then scoping out the venue, figuring out where and when you will be able to set up all those expected shots. Meeting with them again to get all their wants, and make them feel confident you will give them what they want. Then you give them the whole day, not just the 4 hours you see them there. Up early making sure everything is packed, even though it was all packed up the night before. Get there early to shoot the bride getting dressed, sometimes even to the hairdressers. They are there, on their feet, working your whole wedding for 4 solid hours. They don’t stop, they try to get every shot you asked for. That is exceptionally hard if you don’t know the people. Which one is Aunt Sally? At the end of the day the photographer leaves, and if they are like me they immediately download all the pictures. Heaven forbid something happen overnight and the pictures get lost or ruined. So they are downloaded and backed up, and safe.

The next day the post-processing begins. After 4 hours of shooting can you imagine how many pictures they will have? Thousands! And we will look at every one. First I go through them all with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. That will usually cut it in half. That eliminates all the ones where people blink, or turn, or move, or they just didn’t turn out. We are human, we can take bad pictures. But we take a lot, so we immediately dump those bad ones. Then we have all the good ones. We go through them again, and again. Sorting the ones we know the client wants, and the ones we are happy with. We get it narrowed down to a reasonable amount, maybe hundreds. But there is still so much work to do.

If you shoot in RAW (which a good photographer will) you have to post-process. If you shoot in both RAW and jpg, you will have those jpg files that are processed in-camera. A lot of the time these are ok for sharing with the clients, but not always. The lighting may be off. The bride may have a blemish or two that has to be addressed in every shot. There is so much more to making a good shot vs a snapshot.

wedding_1181_bwxThen comes the wedding album. Do you share with your client and have their input on it? Or do you just make it and hope they are happy with it? Either way, many hours go into setting up that perfect album. There is more, smaller details, things the average person just doesn’t realize. All the time, energy, and passion for their work. The education behind it, not just ISO, f-stop, shutter speed. Composition, lighting, interacting with the people to get it right. So the next time you hear someone complain that the photographer is the most expensive part of their wedding. Explain that if they are worth the money, they will have the most wonderful memories of their special day. And that cannot be redone.

What is Love?

“When I look in the eyes of the people I love, and know how empty my life would be without them. That is love.” ~ Me

At least, that is what love is to me. I have read many quotes, and books, on the subject of Love. Having ministers, and authors as parents, it is something that formed my education and my growth as an adult. Reading the written word, absorbing the thoughts of others, and processing it to become my own thoughts.

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Mama Sue and my Dad

I have been fortunate in my life to have been exposed to some wonderful examples. Dr. Sue Sikking tops that list. She was the minister at Unity by the Sea in Santa Monica, CA. She was my father’s mentor, and “Mama Sue” to my brother and I. She had a presence about her, that feeling you got as soon as you were with her. I remember one Christmas many years ago, she dressed up as Santa for the church Christmas party. Her granddaughter came over to me and whispered in my ear “I know who that is, and it isn’t Santa.” I put my finger to my lips and said “shush”. I didn’t want to ruin it for the other kids. But we both knew it was her because we could feel it. Not so much see it, but definitely feel it. Mama Sue wrote some wonderful books, and I cherish them still.

Richard Bach was another man I was fortunate to have known, as well as his father Marcus Bach. I didn’t have a relationship with them as I had with Mama Sue. These were people my parents knew, and so I was occasionally exposed to them, but also their writings. When you read books like “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, and know the author, you read it more like he was actually telling the story. The story will stay with you because it is so good, but even more so when you have met the authors.

But more interesting to me, is that even though my childhood through mid-thirties I was an avid reader, I am no longer. When I travel I will pick a special book, and read it. But in day-to-day life, no. For a long time it puzzled me. But I think I have finally come to a conclusion. I started this blog entry looking for a quote on love, and couldn’t find what I wanted. Then it hit me, write your own. It is time for me to do the writing, and not rely on others thoughts.

The response I got from the post I made after Robin William’s death was amazing. I am often encouraged to continue writing, and even to write a book. I have started a number of times, but just didn’t have the commitment, or better yet the passion to keep working on it. I think I am almost there now. Only one element missing. What to write about. Oh, I know the first reaction is my life. But just as I don’t use most people’s names on my blog, I wouldn’t want to invade their privacy by writing about them. So I am on the search. In the meantime I will write here, and search for the direction.

Which brings me back to the title of this post. What is Love?

There are all the obvious things; what you see on cards and posters etc. They are important, don’t get me wrong. The love you have for your children is a special love all its own. Which does explain that there are different levels, or expressions of love. So the question cannot be simply answered. We each have our own way of expressing love. Which brings me to the whole reason I went here in the first place.

Hubby is in Florida. I miss him terribly. But he is there for a very important reason. His Dad had surgery and the recovery stalled. All is improving, but it is going to be a longer road than we first thought. Because Hubby works virtually, he can work from virtually anywhere. He just needs a good internet connection. So there is no need for his brother or sister making the trip down to relieve him. But he doesn’t want them feeling left out. Every day, twice a day, he is sending very detailed emails. It isn’t that simple – How is he? He is coming along etc. No, they know exactly what is going on, from the doctor’s visit to the lab work and results. How his Dad and Mom are doing, and what sleep they are getting, or not. He goes into such detail that you almost feel there. He writes with facts, and compassion, he is trying to make it easier on everyone. I miss him yes, but I know him. I hear the love in his voice. He talks to me, we Instant Message, I know. I can picture him sitting in the hospital room, with his laptop on his lap. Watching . . . his Dad, the monitors, the nurses and staff. Taking it all in, and writing it all down. I can see him there, being strong, being the man his mother and father need so badly now. I see him, the wonderful, loving, crazy man he is. Dad will be fine, Mom will be fine. We will all be fine, because that is what love is.

Name Your Sources, Please!

I have a statement to make. Genealogy research on the internet has gone to the point of total confusion.

Let me explain. I love genealogy research. I have been doing it for over 30 years now. Since I was pregnant with my oldest and would spend hours sitting with my Nana talking about her family. I tried to trace my family, but back then there was no internet, or ancestry.com, and I am English. So I did it the old fashioned way, through the mail. But just couldn’t get very far. My first mother-in-law directed me to the person in her family that had done the family tree, and I was hooked. Now every family has that one person who is into it, and I am in ours. It has stuck with me, and if it were not for all the time it would take to do it, I would have my Genealogy Certification by now.

But, here is the problem. So many people have put up family trees with inaccurate information. Then other people copy them to the point there are more incorrect ones than correct ones. Case in point, I am researching for my older two girls to get into DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). The youngest has been accepted, yippee! Now with the older girls the research has gone fairly well. I have the old research my first mother-in-law’s aunt sent to me, and it goes back to the soldiers who fought, and one even died (along with another son) in the Revolutionary War. But in order to get into the DAR you have to have some kind of documentation to prove every generations connection. I have going down a few generations because of other’s applications to the DAR and SAR (Sons). I can get up to about the mid 1800’s pretty good. But there is when it becomes hard to connect the families. This is where the problem is.

In about 1768 James Dysart had a son, James Young Stewart Dysart. In about 1792 he had a son Samuel, and in about 1810 another son James Young Stewart. Samuel also had a son, James Young Stewart born in about 1815. I have also found one born 1796! All these James Young Stewart’s are totally confused and mixed up all over the internet. The problem now is for me to find documentation proving the right one. All I have to say is, PLEASE, PLEASE, NAME YOUR SOURCES! And not just someone elses tree! If you get your information from another tree, look at their sources before adding it to yours, and name that source. I can’t stress it enough. There are so many erroneous trees uploaded on the internet now that finding the truth is getting harder than ever!

So, if you have a Dysart, or live near Dysartsville NC, leave me a message. I would love to work with someone in the line or area to figure out the real facts.