Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Only kindness matters

First off, thank you all so much for your kind thoughts (and helpful suggestions) regarding yesterday’s post and the loss of my external hard-drive. It was suggested that I take it to a computer specialist that we occasionally use at our school. He’s the ‘big guns’ we call in when something is really serious. He’ll take a look at it but said it sounds promising because it’s still making power noises.

I am still not too terribly upset about it. Why get all worked up over it only to find that it’s a simple fix? I’m still able to take photos, and will just store them on the hard drive on my laptop here. I am still able to edit the photos in PS, however 90% of my textures (both free downloads and purchased) are on that hard drive. And I have tons of textures. Still – plan on remaining calm until I find out the news.

Ah, well. I only took a few photos today. Took the day off work to do another trip to Johns Hopkins with my husband. It was a follow-up MRI, and all is well for the moment. We were told to have a happy holiday and to do something fun. So that’s good news!! We were both really surprised and glad.


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Taken along N. Broadway, just south of Orleans St. in Baltimore

When we got to the city at 9 am, it was sunny and nice. When we left at 2, the sky was laden with clouds and it was quite chilly.


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Chesapeake City Bridge, Maryland

I’d just dropped off the hard drive. This bridge is really high and traverses the C&D Canal which is a short cut between the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River for all sorts of huge cargo ships, and anybody else who wants to take a short cut.


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I made angel hair pasta tonight and heated up some homemade spaghetti sauce I had stored in the freezer. I was only planning on eating half of this meal and taking the other half to school tomorrow.

But I love pasta with sauce (and freshly-grated Asiago cheese on top). And besides, the plate is really small.

* burp *

Once again, thanks for your kindness, and for your friendship. I’m still reading many of your comments at this point ~

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ps – figured out how to get my signature back. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it last night. I must have been a little bit frazzled!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


When I began blogging, I wanted this space to be a haven for people to take a little respite from their busy world. Because of this, I try not to complain too much when life takes its twists and turns.

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It wasn’t that today was awful, but when you combine it with the sort of days I’ve been having lately, it was just par for the course. The icing on the cake, however, happened tonight when my external hard drive, the place where I store all of my photographs, ceased to exist.

I know it wants to start up. I can hear it wanting to and trying . . . but no.

It just dies.

I never thought I’d be writing this, that I would be among the ranks of people who lose their precious files from their hard drives, but here I am. I have a Maxtor One Touch 4 with 500GB of space, and the last time I checked, I had plenty of room. I’ve had this hard drive for just over 3 years. I’ve contacted a data retrieval company for a quote and am planning on talking to the tech geeks at work tomorrow as well.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that all of my photos are gone, I don’t feel like it’s the end of the world. This is why there are data retrieval companies. Right? So for now, I’ll share a photo I took over the weekend that I saved on my laptop. Unfortunately, all of my textures are on that hard drive too (I don’t even want to think of this) but the texture on this photo was downloaded from Shadowhouse Creations this afternoon and saved to the laptop. The brushes are from French Kiss and were a free download from their FB page.

Once I get back up and running, I plan on hosting a Giveaway. Because I plan on being happy.

Until next time, my friends . . .

(wish me luck)

ps – my signature is also lost.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

While I was sleeping

Hello, my friends. I’m sorry for my lengthy absence, but I didn’t have anything to say, and I wasn’t taking photos all week. Actually, I had a lot to say but it wasn’t anything I would have wanted to publish on this site.

It’s Sunday morning as I write this, and I overslept. I don’t like missing the sunrise but it’s my last day off in a long string of days off and I love the luxury of soft flannel sheets way too much to climb out of them early.

When I came downstairs, the first thing I noticed while waiting for my coffee to brew was that my husband had taken over a hundred pictures with the long lens this morning. So while I enjoy my homemade biscotti (from my sister’s kitchen – thanks, Char), I’ll share some photos my husband took while I was sleeping.


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Standing at the edge of our property.

And when I say ‘our’ property, you know that I mean the property on which we live. We’re caretakers here at the manor house on the hill.


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I had asked for a 70-300mm VR lens for my birthday, but that’s a whole other story I don’t care to share. These were shot with the 70-300mm Nikon lens I bought a couple of years ago. It has no vibration reduction, so many of the shots were blurry. But this one’s a keeper.


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A morning sky full of birds reminds me of a documentary I watched this week: Winged Migration. The DVD would make a wonderful gift for the bird watcher in your life.


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We saw the leaves go to glory,

Then almost migratory

Go part way down the lane,

And then to end the story

Get beaten down and pasted

In one wild day of rain.

~ excerpt from ‘November’ by Robert Frost


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I love the trees of November. And I love some of the photographs my husband took this morning. The one above is one of my favorites.


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I can’t stress enough how difficult it is to send off a frisbee and then take an action shot of the dog catching it. I found this one beautiful, and I love the sun glare.


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Yesterday we drove to York, PA to visit my sister and her husband. I lent her the book I read over the holiday (The Descendants) and we had wonderful leftovers for lunch. They are what I would call a ‘foodie’ family, and are always trying new and exciting things. Her husband, Dave, made the most amazing bread, full of nuts and seeds and flavor. Both of their girls are like this too, and for dessert I had a tiny slice of triple chocolate pumpkin cheesecake made by Emily. (She’s the newlywed who got married in Philadelphia this past September).

The pie was out of this world good.


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I’m watching one of my favorite shows. It’s CBS’ Sunday Morning. They’re doing a piece on Ellen Barkin, who I’ve always found fascinating as an actress. One of my favorite movies is Sea of Love, where she stars alongside Al Pacino. If you’ve never seen this movie, I am telling you now: It is good. Suspenseful. Absolutely steamy. And it’s on stream at Netflix right now.

~ : : : ~

For my American friends, I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful holiday this past week. Mine was not so good, but hey – some years are like that. I’m going to get my day going here and I can feel a walk coming on with the dog.

Here’s hoping for a good week for us all . . . I’ve missed you, my friends.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The autumn poets sing

Looking back at my last post, I realized I hadn’t written in days. Sorry for making you worry unnecessarily, and thank you to those who wrote asking if everything was ok. It really is ok here at the moment. My husband continues to get stronger although he’s anxious to get off the steroids and is looking forward to me having off from school for the Thanksgiving Break.

The weekend was mild and Saturday was sunny and lovely, so after my chores were finished, I decided to spend a little time sitting in my favorite chair reading some magazines and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face. I love feeling the sun on my skin when the weather’s a little bit chilly, don’t you?

This was my view, looking up from my chair into the bare branches of the dogwood tree . . .


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And straight ahead . . .


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Besides the autumn poets sing,
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the haze.

~Emily Dickinson


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Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. 

~George Eliot


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This photo was taken last November but I opened it up and used a texture I found through the blog of photographer friend, Kat Warren. Thanks, Kat ~ for introducing me to French Kiss Textures. I signed up for the newsletter and instantly received several freebies.

I used ‘Rosy French Script’ on the one above, and ‘Dandelion Fuzz’ on the leaf below.


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Our eldest son arrived on the train last night from NYC and will be staying with us for a few days. I love having him here – we’ve always been close. Last night I stayed up until 12:30 am watching a show that he’s into, which I thought I would loathe. But I’m addicted now, much to my surprise. Whoulda thunk I would like The Walking Dead?

Seriously? Zombies? But to me, it echoes a little bit of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, a book I think I’ve read about 16 times.


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Somebody’s going to get a Thanksgiving bath.

But we won’t say anything about that just yet.

: : :

Enjoy your week, my friends. Until later, then.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Feels like November

I love the routine and the structure of my days and I’m so grateful for it. This morning was like many others – my weekday morning routine getting ready for work, packing my lunch, having my husband walk me to the car and then getting a big hug and kiss goodbye from him.

This morning however, as we were walking out the door we were greeted by fog - and even more special were thousands upon thousands of migrating birds.

I had to run back inside to get the camera.

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My husband gets up early, and I noticed he already had some wash hung on the line.

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We stood together in the mild November weather and watched the skies. The birds just kept coming and coming.

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The Birds

are heading south, pulled
by a compass in the genes.
They are not fooled
by this odd November summer,
though we stand in our doorways
wearing cotton dresses.
We are watching them
as they swoop and gather—
the shadow of wings
falls over the heart.
When they rustle among
the empty branches, the trees
must think their lost leaves
have come back.
The birds are heading south,
instinct is the oldest story.
They fly over their doubles,
the mute weathervanes,
teaching all of us
with their tailfeathers
the true north.

by Linda Pastan

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I thought it was beautiful.

And after one last kiss goodbye, I headed down the driveway to work.

I wave my arm out the window until my husband can’t see me anymore. It hurts to leave him sometimes, but he knows that I have to. Sometimes I come home at lunch to surprise him, like I did today.

He really needed it today, and I’m glad that I made the effort.

: : :

The temperature dropped considerably this afternoon, and the wind picked up a bit. To go outside now, I would need a warm coat, hat and gloves. Now it feels like November!

Thanks for taking the time today to stop by my little corner of the world. It was nice to see you here.

Until tomorrow, my friends ~

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: A Watershed Year

I was recently contacted by a representative at TLC Book Tours to write a review on a book of my choice. I chose Susan Schoenberger’s A Watershed Year because I found the description interesting, and truth be told, I liked the title.

A Watershed Year (1)
From the jacket description:

It was the year everything changed . . .

“It made me feel better to think that we could talk, somehow, beyond the end of my life, that I could preserve my presence in some small way. And I haven’t told you everything I should have. I wasn’t finished yet, at least where you are concerned . . . “

Lucy never confessed her love to her best friend Harlan before he passed away. Two months after his funeral, she is haunted by the power of things left unsaid when she receives the first of his e-mails, arranged to be sent after his death. So begins the year everything changes – Lucy’s watershed year.

This is a beautifully written book, with complex characters, and I greatly enjoyed reading it. I especially liked the familiar setting – Baltimore, Maryland – so near my home. And I loved the main character, Lucy, a young college professor whose loss becomes the impetus for a major change in her life.

The book begins with the death of Lucy’s dear friend, Harlan, a could-have-been lover who became ill before their relationship took that next step. Out of all of his friends, Lucy is the one who cares for him in his last months, determined that he will get well. But Harlan knows otherwise, and begins to secretly pen letters to his friend that he hopes will help her in the time to come when he is gone. He arranges for them to arrive via e-mail at the beginning of each month, and when one of the letters mentions that she would make a wonderful mother, Lucy begins to wonder if she should adopt a child. Circumstances seem to begin falling into her lap, and before she knows it, she’s caught up in the whole adoption process.

The adoption itself, with all of its twists and turns, is an excellent plot that runs alongside the flashbacks into the relationship she and Harlan shared. Lucy decides to adopt a Russian child, and actually has to travel to that country to collect what she had originally hoped would be an infant, but who turns out to be an angry 4-year-old boy. I was on the edge of my seat while reading about the trip, as well as what happened upon her arrival home.

What I found extremely interesting was Lucy’s specialty at the college, where she studies and teaches the lives of the saints. I guess some of her friends found her vocation rather odd, but I liked the saintly anecdotes that were peppered throughout the chapters. At the time I read this book, I was going through some turmoil in my life, and I marked this page because of the mantra:

Grief rose inside her until it focused itself inside her throat. She took a deep breath through her nose as a prayer from Blessed Julian of Norwich came to her. It was a maddeningly bland prayer, so nonspecific that it bordered on the useless; yet somehow it always made her feel better. 
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 

A Watershed Year (2)A Watershed Year is Susan Schoenberger’s debut novel, and won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in 2006 under the title Intercession and was short-listed for the Peter Taylor Prize.
For more information, please visit

tlc tour host

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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Sunday, November 13, 2011

More phone photography, and a contest elsewhere

Maybe you’re thinking, “enough already” with the camera phone pictures, but I’m finding it extraordinarily easy to carry this little device rather than lugging around the big D80. So during a couple of my walks this weekend, I popped the phone into one of my pockets and off I went with the hiking poles and the dog.

The leaves lasted a good long time this fall, and it wasn’t until Friday that we really began to see a difference in the view. It’s beautiful when the wind blows because it rains fluttering leaves from above.


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For most of these, I used my current favorite photo app for the Droid, Be Funky. If any of you know of other apps we might like, feel free to shout it out in the comment section.


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I used Photoshop on some of these, and spent part of Saturday afternoon fooling around with pictures. Always a fun way to spend some time, as far as I’m concerned.


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The phone doesn’t do a half-bad job at capturing things.


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I love crunching through the leaves.


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The path is actually under this pile of leaves. It was nearly up to my knees, as it runs right next to a wooded area.


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I bought pillows on sale at the Pottery Barn, and am using them on the dog’s couch. I don’t know what else to call this couch because the main occupant of it is a border collie named George – who now has brand new pillows.

With goose down.

Nothing but the best for George.


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All in all, it was a beautiful weekend.


And someone is very tired tonight.


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I read about a contest for phone photography on a blog I visit. It runs through the month of December and anyone can enter – all you need is a camera phone and a Flickr account. You may submit up to 3 photos per week, giving you more chances of winning. Grand prize is a $100 Amazon gift certificate.

Cabin Fever in VT – Phone Photography Contest, Nov/Dec

Hope you enter. Should be fun!


Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Camera phone pictures

Boy, was I up early this morning. I woke when my husband got up and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I’m glad, though, because I have a lot to do this morning and I also got to enjoy a beautiful sunrise.

Yesterday, the wind blew off most of the leaves on the trees, and suddenly everything looks different. And it’s quite chilly this morning here in Maryland.

I took all of the photos in this post using my camera phone. Some were tweaked using the Be Funky app I downloaded to process photos in the phone. And some were tweaked using Photoshop, like my favorite one just below.

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My driveway on Thursday morning.

It was quite foggy that day as I headed to work, and the driveway was so pretty that I stopped the car and got the phone out. I used a tilt shift effect in the Be Funky app on the phone, then ran Florabella’s tea time action in Photoshop, then PW’s Boost. I love this photo ~ and I promise you this . . . every single time I drive up or down this old driveway, I realize how blessed we are.

Even when there’s a tree down.

We are absolutely blessed to be living here.

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Taken from my window seat at a restaurant in Chesapeake City, Maryland last month. I used an app from Be Funky, and one of their grunge borders. This is the view from the Bayard House Restaurant, along the C&D Canal.


Our house, earlier this week while we still had leaves on the trees.

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Coffee on the front porch in my favorite slippers.

(i got them here)

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Sunrise this morning. Bare trees, and the twinkling lights along the main road. I took this from the front door, and you can tell we live on a hill here.

Well, better get to work. Got some housekeeping to do today, and later our son is supposed to visit. What are you up to this weekend? Inquiring minds, and all . . .

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Thanks for stopping by today. It’s always a pleasure having you visit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Night comes early

Early this morning I woke up to find that I had been denied access to my e-mail account, which was probably due, the message said, to a violation of their access terms. I wrote to google mail, giving another e-mail address I keep for school purposes, to dispute the charge.

Then I tried to open my blog, only to find that it had been shut down, also due to a violation of terms. I disputed this claim too, and began to wonder if something was up with google.

It was a message I had seen on other blogs, and I decided there are worse things that can happen in this world than losing your blog in cyberspace, so I let it go so that I could get ready for work. It worried me a little bit about the e-mail account, and if I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through the past couple of months, I probably would have gotten more upset.

But I wasn’t too upset. Because in the scheme of things, it was probably fixable.

And by the time I got to work, it was fixed, with a sincere apology from the google team.


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Thanks to all who wrote me this morning asking if there was anything wrong. You were so sweet to do that. But all is well.

And it’s nearly dark when I get home from work now. And today, the almost-full moon was coming up as I took a walk with one of my favorite guys.


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These were taken before 5 pm.

I love this weather. I adore fall days.


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Autumn is my favorite season, second to spring.

Today was the first day that I was not only back to work full-time, but that I did not come home for lunch to be with my husband. I started back to work full-time last Friday and have been coming home at lunchtime to visit my husband who is recuperating well from his last brain surgery. He’s just really sad, and he’s lonely. And he loves it when I’m home.

Today when I got there, I saw a box from REI waiting on the table. My husband had ordered a couple of things and was waiting to show me what he’d bought.

Somebody got a new frisbee.


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It’s a really nice one and it soars really well (even when I toss it).


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And there was a hat for my husband.

And a pair of pajama bottoms for me. They’re very cute, winter flannel ones. And they looked . . . well, they looked . . . shall we say . . . a bit on the large size.

I checked the size and it said XXL.


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OMG, I thought. Does he really think I’m XXL?

And so I asked him about the size. He said he was looking for an L. And he thought they were extra LL. I don’t really know what he said to explain it, and it didn’t matter anyway.

What mattered was that he bought himself a hat. And he also got each of us a little present. And that was kind of sweet, actually.


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Just like this weather.

It’s kind of sweet, actually ~

Gotta go. Survivor’s on.

Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

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