Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Facts and Fiction


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Fact: I am completely and utterly done with trying to find a rental cottage near Acadia National Park for a week this summer. Every single (insert curse word here) place that I have shown my husband has been met with negativity.

Fact: Tonight, over dinner, he seems to have been able to talk me into camping.

Fact: I don’t understand how this happened.

Fact: I agreed because I’m sick of it all.

Fact: I’d prefer to just get in my car with the dog and take my own vacation.

Fact: I refuse to sleep on the ground. Except if it’s on an air mattress.

Fact: RV rental prices are exorbitantly high.

Fiction: I am really looking forward to this vacation with my husband.

Respectfully submitted,

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Photo taken at Stonington Harbor, Deer Isle, Maine – August 2009

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Monday

It’s quiet here at the old manor house on the hill this morning. It’s a good day to reflect on what this holiday really means and the men and women who have given their lives to defend it.

This morning I slept late. I know that my ‘late’ is many people’s ‘early’ but hey, my husband is up around 5 and out walking, so 7:30 is late.

I poured a cup of coffee and walked from room to room in my gloriously clean house. We had company over yesterday afternoon - people we’ve known for years and one old friend that was my high school bff. I still see Colleen once or twice a year and it’s always always good.

As I walked from room to room, I wondered what people in past lives did here on Memorial Day. Well, before it was officially declared a holiday in 1966, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, was observed around the country in different ways, after the Civil War. My friends and I talked about it yesterday for a bit when we explained to them that the Mason-Dixon Line is just down the road.

I took a photo of the entry foyer with my back to the front door. We never use this entrance, preferring the one off the breakfast nook instead.

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When we moved here, there was nowhere to put our bookcase, so here it stays. And yes, that’s a sheet you see hanging there on the right. A flannel sheet, to be exact. We have a window AC unit in that room and have hung sheets to keep the cool air contained. At the end of the hall on the right is a staircase, and on the left is a grand room that we don’t use because it houses many of the owners furniture and belongings.

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We rarely use this staircase and believe me when I tell you that it needed cleaning after a long winter. I finally got around to doing so on Saturday.

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Standing next to the staircase and looking out the front door. It’s a beautiful morning here in Maryland but it’s already begun to hold the promise of a steamy day.

My husband told me that when he got up this morning there was a chimney swift on the INSIDE of the screen in the living room. We have no idea how the bird got in but my husband was surprised that it stayed perfectly still and let him slowly open the window so it could go out. Either the bird was terribly smart or scared stiff – it’s a mystery.

Bluebirds have taken up residence in one of the two other boxes along the fenceline. I’m planning on heading out there soon and trying to get some photos. Later on, my husband is going to rig up the froggie sprinkler under the dogwood tree so I can sit under it. I believe that if I ever have a home with a pool, I might end up terribly missing the days when I had to use a sprinkler hooked up to the low branches of a dogwood tree to keep cool. I’m actually serious.  The sprinkler is a sweet way to stay cool and it waters the tree and the flowers underneath at the same time.

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Newest addiction: The vintage photos that have been appearing on The Sartorialist, one of my favorite blogs. It’s not just the photos that do it for me, but the captions as well. I’ve gathered several of them here to show you what I mean:

Sartorialist Vintage Photos

Have a blessedly wonderful holiday Monday, my friends. Love,

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Movie: The Love Letter

You all know how much I love movies, and I know that I’ve posted about this one before, but I just watched it again last night and felt like sharing.

The Love Letter (1999) is a delicious little gem of a film. A romantic comedy directed by Peter Chan, it’s set during the summertime in a sleepy little fishing village in New England. The film centers on Helen (Kate Capshaw) who owns an old book store in Loblolly by the Sea. In a town this small, everyone seems to know everybody else’s business but it’s all in fun. While going through a pile of mail one morning, Helen finds a love letter in the cushions of the old sofa in the shop.

The letter itself is one of the most beautiful professions of intimacy she’s ever read and she can’t imagine who would have left it there for her. Ardent and sensual in its simple prose, Helen can’t get the words out of her mind. Eventually, the letter begins to make its way through some of the other characters in the film who upon finding it, believe it was left just for them. Some friction in particular comes between Helen and her good friend and office manager, Janet (Ellen DeGeneres) after Janet finds the letter.

Ellen DeGeneres is a joy to watch in this film. Her character makes me laugh out loud.

This is a story about love, illusions, and regrets. It’s about falling in love without taking a step, and it’s surprisingly rich with beautiful imagery and a soundtrack that suits it perfectly. The soundtrack alone is worth the price of the DVD rental – from Joe Cocker’s ‘Feelin’ Allright’  to jazz to concertos – the score, mainly by Luis Bacalov, is simply beautiful.

Tom Selleck is perfectly cast as George, the ever capable fireman who’s been in love with Helen since they were schoolmates many years ago. Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do) is delightful as Johnny, a young college student who takes a summer job in the book store and ends up falling in love with Helen. Blythe Danner makes a brief but interesting appearance as Helen’s mother and Geraldine McEwan plays the mysterious Miss Scattergoods.

I’ve seen this movie several times in my life and it never fails to make me feel better whenever I watch it. Yes, it’s a chick flick – but there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Hope you enjoy ~

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vive la différence

Today is one day closer to the weekend. Lately, I live for the weekends – this coming from someone who really likes her job. This week, I found myself being short with people, which is something I don’t usually do. But I also noticed that I’ve mostly only been snappy with people who seem to get on my nerves in the first place.

But enough of that.

Today I’m sharing three different photographs using texture layers. If you’re new to the use of textures in digital photography, I wrote a tutorial last year about it.

Texture Tutorial

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This was taken on the George Washington Bridge, NY last summer on the way to Maine. The original photo was really boring and I wanted to add a little ooomph to it.

Textures applied: Florabella’s Seaside, Les Brumes Texture 190. The Les Brumes was a freebie.

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This is the manor house in early Spring. I’m not usually this heavy-handed with the texture but it’s fun to off the grid every now and then.

Lenabem’s Texture – 165, Shadowhouse Creations brush. The brush and the texture are both free, although a linkback is required with the texture.

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One of the parents brought these beautiful peonies for the school office and I took them home for the weekend because their scent was so wonderful.

And I wanted to take pictures of them.

And I kept them here.

Florabella’s Platinum (warm) and Chardonnay. The framed print in the background is one I purchased on etsy at Grainne Photography. I put it in a matted frame that I bought on sale at Kohl’s.
I love Grainne Photography.

Forever young (print)

Three different photos – and several different texture links for you.

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Right now on the TV is the Singing Survivor Show but I’m only half watching. I can tell we’re getting old when we realize that we both prefer the duet with Tony Bennett and Haley Reinhart vs. the number that just made my husband change the channel. Rap music is painful. I think I’ll chill out and just watch a movie.
Until then . . .

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The bluebird of happiness

Trying not to feel too overwhelmed at work and not succeeding very well this morning, but I do have one load off my mind. I’ve admitted that I’m unable to find the perfect cottage in Maine to suit my husband. I think that’s what’s been nagging at me and bringing me down lately. Not that I haven’t been through much much more stress than this, but for some reason at this point in my life, it seems overwhelming.

I was just about to put a deposit on something too, but didn’t have a wonderful feeling about it, so I let it go. It was on Mount Desert Island ~ and it was close to a set of carriage roads like my husband wanted. But there was just something about it that I didn’t really like.

So enough of that for now. Something I do like is taking it easy in the backyard on a Saturday after a morning of housekeeping and gardening. And what I especially like is being able to get close enough to the bluebird box.

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Here, the female is bringing food to her babies. Bluebirds are shy. Please note that she stayed at this spot for 15 minutes scoping me out.

15 minutes.

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And then she looked like she was going to take off, but landed about 6 inches away, the little scamp.

She then proceeded to stay in this spot for another 15 minutes.

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Luckily, I had plenty of time to burn.

It’s a beautiful commodity when you work all week.

And then, she started getting all kinds of, oh I don’t know – huffy.

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And then she looked like this.

Badda Bing.

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Badda Boom.

And with a slight swish of her tail, the little sucker finally took off towards the box.

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I wasn’t fast enough. Of course.

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But then she posed for a moment for me.

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I want to thank everyone who has sent personal e-mails and suggestions for vacation property along the coast of Maine. I was really surprised and touched. I’m still looking, though. But I’m taking my time about it.

It will come.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope your day is a good one ~

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Recently I was contacted by a representative at TLC Book Tours to write a review on a book of my choice. I chose Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter because I found the description intriguing and I love a good who-done-it.

Crooked Letter
From the jacket description:

In the 1970’s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.

In this Edgar Award nominated book, Franklin deftly weaves back and forth from the present to the past, allowing the reader to understand how the two main characters in the book become they men they are today.

The Larry of today lives a desolate and friendless existence, still in his parent’s house – his alcoholic father having passed away and his mother in a local nursing home. I wondered why he even stayed around, but this is his land and his history in this little town in the steamy rural south, and besides, his mother still needs him. If not for his life-long love of books, Larry would have nothing.

The Silas of today is respected by the citizens that he serves, he seems to have good friends, a decent life, and the brains to have become constable. But there’s something lacking in Silas – empathy perhaps. Empathy for his old friend, Larry.

Then another girl goes missing, the daughter of a powerful family. Larry becomes a ‘person of interest’, and then is shot. Silas is assigned to the case.

This story is about a lot of things – racial conflict in the South, boyhood friendships, childhood dreams, and secrets, to name a few. But what I loved about this beautifully written novel was the final redemption. The ending wasn’t all too surprising, but the story - like the kudzu vines in its sleepy southern town - wrapped around me and wouldn’t let go. And at the core was friendship and redemption. I highly recommend this book.

Tom FranklinTom Franklin is the author of Hell at the Breech and Poachers. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, and their three children. He teaches at the University of Mississippi.

This book has been read and reviewed as part of a TLC Book Tour. You can check out the other stops of the tour [here].

Respectfully submitted,

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Saturday, May 21, 2011


It has rained here in Maryland for 7 straight days. Oh, we’ve had a little bit of sunshine here and there, but I am just beginning to get a little weary of it all. You know, the dampness, the soggy trails, the frizzy hair. Well, maybe not for you, but my hair and rain is never a good combination.

Driving home today in a downpour, I was envisioning getting out of the car with all my bags, in the pouring rain. But miraculously, the rain stopped as soon as the car stopped.

After putting away everything and making a fuss over the dog, I got changed and headed out for a walk.

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When I got outside, I noticed the color of the sky and that the sun was beginning to come out. So I went back inside for the camera.

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In the back yard, the sky remained gray as the clouds cleared behind me.

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It was simply beautiful.

That’s the garden in the center there, and it looks very small in this picture.

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The blue of the sky and the sun is beginning to take over here.

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Earthworms were all over the trail, squiggling around and doing their thing. Sorry if you don't like worms.

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By the time I got here, the sun was bright.

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The trail was a mess to navigate though, so I decided to quit. Sometimes I give up too easily but I’m going to console myself with the fact that it was a long week and I’m just plain tired today.

There’s my little friend waiting for me alongside the trail up there. Do you see him?

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I decided to cut through the lawn on the way back.

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All this rain has made the earth here so rich and lush with green and it’s so beautiful.

In other news ~

The search continues for a vacation place but I’m so blessed to be able to go on vacation in the first place, so no complaints.

Lots of drama on American Idol in the ending 5 minutes of last night’s show. The look on Haley’s face, not only of disbelief, but of disgust, perhaps, at having been voted out.

Tonight I’m watching a movie that my friends at Netflix mailed to me. On my laptop tonight, I’m showing ‘Knight and Day’, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. It looks fast-paced and action packed. Woot.

My husband changed around some of the furniture in the living room yesterday and I love it. Even if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t really care anyway. It’s just furniture.

Fish sticks for dinner tonight. We’re true gourmets here, dontcha know.

Hope your weekend is a good one. Until later then . . .

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The search

For the past several days, I've been vacation rental hunting and tonight I’m burned out on it.  Trying to find the perfect place for my husband is a monumental task and tonight when he said he’d be happy just camping, I almost agreed.

Almost being the key word.

I really don’t want to camp during my week’s vacation, thank you.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy camping – I just don’t want to work that hard. I want a nice bed and a hot shower and comfortable furnishings. I want to be able to turn on a burner to boil a kettle for tea and not have to start a fire. We’re looking in Maine again because you all know how much we love it there. But this time, my husband wants to stay on MDI (Mount Desert Island) somewhere close to the national park. He wants to be able to get on his bike and just travel a short distance and be able to ride the carriage roads in the park.

This is his single goal.

My goal is to not camp.

I’m having a very difficult time trying to find the place that fits the bill. And frankly, camping might be the only way to do it. Oh, I’ve found places all right – to the tune of thousands of dollars a week. Meanwhile, for inspiration, I’ve gone through some of my photos of last year’s two Maine vacations. Here are a few I’m sharing with you today.

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Along Bar Island Road, outside of Milbridge.

That’s when we stayed {here} on Bar Island.

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Foggy morning on Jordan Pond – Acadia National Park

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Winter Harbor

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Schoodic Peninsula – Acadia National Park

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Beachcroft Trail on Champlain Mountain – Acadia National Park

I ripped my pants coming down this mountain. It was difficult at the summit.

That's when we stayed {here} at this beautiful place.

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Along Route 1 somewhere

Doesn’t this look like it could have been taken years ago?

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Panoramic view of Sand Beach – Acadia National Park

Taken along the Great Head Trail.

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Hello, lover.

: : :

Until tomorrow, my friends . . . wish me luck with the hunting ~

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The elusive bluebird, chapter 2

On Sunday afternoon, I changed sitting spots in the yard in order to concentrate on the bluebirds rather than the goldfinches. It’s difficult work, I tellya, sitting in the yard with my camera and the long lens. Some of you may remember the last time I tried to capture the elusive bluebird that has set up housekeeping in one of the houses along our fence line.

At times, I can accomplish much

I wasn’t very successful that time, getting not one single photo. Well, not one of the bluebird.

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This time, I got several, although I’ve come to the conclusion that I may need a better lens. I had to keep inching closer and closer to the bird house because the 70-300mm only goes so far, you know.

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There were two bluebirds. This is the male.

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And this is his mate. She’s got some sort of insect in her mouth and it looks big and juicy.

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She looks like a ghost here.

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And this is her ghostly apparition.

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At one point when I had moved to about 20 feet away, they were both on the fence line at the same time.
You can see that the male has a bright green grub of some sort in his beak.

The photo is really lousy though. I need VR on my long lens.

VR is Vibration Reduction. And I don’t gots it on this one. Guess that’s why it was such a good price ~

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I love sitting in the backyard on a nice day and trying to capture bird shots with the camera.

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It was a feeding frenzy for them. The earth was soft from all the rain and if I hadn’t been there, they might have been more comfortable coming and going. And damn ~ those suckers really move fast, I tellya.

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I do think I need another lens.

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Thanks for giving my photo a shout-out over at Pioneer Woman’s today. I was really surprised to have made finalist and I’m not saying that with false modesty. I’m saying it because there were several bird shots within the six groups and I didn’t think mine stood a chance. It’s a thrill to have made the finalist category.

Thanks for stopping by today. Until tomorrow, then . . .

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PS ~ I feel a Giveaway coming on, don’t you?