Speaking of Sunflowers…

“Chelsey’s Sunflower” Postcard Made by Trang K.

Isn’t this the most adorable piglet “sunning” beneath the brilliant rays of a sunflower? This postcard was beautifully made by the talented Trang K, who sent me a different sunflower few months ago. Trang wrote a long note, sweetly embellished with  flourishes, doodled flowers, hearts, and a butterfly.  She closed the card with, “You are a blessing and a treasure” written in gold. I’m convinced her heart overflows into each card she makes.

My sunflowers bloom all year long, thanks to my penfriends.

“The Sunflowers” by Mary Oliver

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young –
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds –
each one a new life!

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

Spot On!

When Arielle W. offered to send postcards from NASA to interested members of the Love Notes community, I responded “no thanks” because I live in “space central.” Boy, am I glad she ignored me! Why? Just look and see!

Detail of a Sunspot. Big Bear Solar Observatory, New Jersey Institute of Technology

This “space” postcard looks so much like a sunflower that at first glance I thought it was a sunflower. Maybe, this was because I was wearing multifocal contacts–which are amazing in bright light, but a little weird in dim light–but I think many people would have had to take a second look before realizing the image isn’t a sunflower.

The back of the postcard reads:

This detailed image taken in 2010 by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s New Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory–a project partially funded by NASA–features an enormous sunspot on the photosphere of the Sun that is slightly larger than the Earth.

Arielle sent this to me (anyway) because she “thought of me and my love of sunflowers…the card looks almost like a sunflower.” She couldn’t have chosen a better “space” card for me!

Even though this amazing card did not need any help, she also wrote a popular Shakespeare “misquote” on the back:

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.

In case you’re interested, the actual lines are from Julius Caesar:

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. –Cassius to Brutus, Act I, scene ii

There’s some irony in the quote masquerading as Shakespeare appearing on postcard of a sunspot–which I mistook for a sunflower.

Spiritual Beings.

Red Roses, Yellow Roses, and a Little Slice of Paradise

Recently–as in two months ago–my friend Kemi shared with me photos of the beautiful roses her husband gave her for their 21st anniversary.

That reminded me! I hadn’t hosted a “roses” photography swap in quite some time. In fact, it had been four years since I hosted the “One Perfect Rose” swap on swap-bot . We were overdue for another one–especially since I’ve been making progress on photographing roses. So…I set up the swap in the “A Thousand Words” group.

The goal of the swap was to send a photo that captured the sentiment of Dorothy Parker’s poem, “One Perfect Rose,” and write a note about a gift the sender desires from his or her significant other–instead of roses.

Diane W (Midteacher), my partner whose work you’ve seen here on the blog before, sent photos of her beautiful hybrid tea roses.

Hybrid Tea Rose, or Tahitian Sunset, Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

According to Midteacher, the Hybrid Tea Rose, dubbed “Tahitian Sunset,” is also described as a “little slice of paradise.” She fell in love with the roses while working at a local nursery to help pay for her wedding. A resourceful bride-to-be, she purchased the rose bush and had her florist make her wedding bouquet and other floral arrangements. She even worked extra shifts to make sure she’d have enough of the gorgeous tea roses.

“A Little Slice of Paradise,” Photo by Diane W. aka Midteacher

Midteacher snaps photos of the blooms every year and shares that the buds are much more colorful than the full blooms. In her usual impressive way, she crafted the photos into inspiration for my walls and journals.

I fretted considerably over which roses to send to my partner–raindrops on roses? white roses? pink roses? red roses? Roses I shot in New Orleans last winter? Roses I shot in Huntsville last spring? I can barely remember what I actually sent her since I looked through so many before making my decision. But I’ll save my photographs for another day.

Let’s give these beauties our full attention today.

Vintage in My Mailbox

It’s “hump day,” and as usual by midweek, exhaustion has a strong grip on my mind and body, so I’m dropping in with a quick post to share the vintage photography postcards I received yesterday.

The postcard below tells the story of my life–a book in my hand, glasses nearby, ever mindful of the time.

This one speaks to the creativity breaks I’ve purposefully taken to maintain sanity and balance–photo walks, capturing the splendor of autumn and the intriguing sights in the places I travel throughout the day(s).

Christine B sent both to me–the first one because she thought I’d like it, the second one because the camera and photos remind her of me. Of course, I love both because…there’s something about vintage photography. 😉

One of the things that attracts me to vintage and antique things is they have stories, and even if I don’t know the stories, I make them up. –Mary Kay Andrews

Until tomorrow…

Enjoy Your Trip to Porto!

Let’s take a trip to Porto!

My blogging friend, Louise, recently vacationed in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city. She kindly thought of me and sent two cheerful pieces from her travels–a brightly colored postcard and a bookmark that left me with a strong urge to take a trip to Porto!

Vintage Tram Car

The postcard features the Batalha 22 tram, one of the three “heritage” routes of the transportation collective in Porto,  Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP).

The bookmark (probably) features the Ribeira neighborhood, a neighborhood filled with cafes, restaurants, homes, and a walkway along the Douro River.

The colorful buildings are so inviting!

These images offer a tiny glimpse of Porto. Louise’s photos tell a more comprehensive story, so be sure to check out her Porto blog posts, especially the one about the bookshop:

Enjoy the trip!

Motivation on a Monday: I Hope You Smile

I received a bright purple postcard recently, and without flipping it to the message side, I knew immediately who had sent it–Jacki, my purple-loving Love Notes pal who lives on the other side of the pond.

She wrote a nice, long quote on the back, perfect for sharing on a Monday.

One day it just clicks. You realize what’s important and what isn’t. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you’ve come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover. And then you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you’ve fought to become.

I hope that you can smile when you look in the mirror today “because you are truly proud of yourself” and truly in love with the person staring back at you.

If you’re not there yet, wrap yourself in a little purple love, knowing you’ll get there some day.

Love. Shoot. Love.

Three months ago, my hubby and I had the honor of shooting the wedding of the daughter and son-in-law of one of my dearest friends. When asked, I was hesitant–wedding photos are serious business, and I didn’t want to be the cause of anyone’s tears or regrets re: wedding photos. Since the hubby agreed to shoot with me, I figured together we could get a few decent photos. Besides, I couldn’t say “no.” We’ve known the bride since she was growing in her mother’s womb, and her mother, Tee, is my sisterfriend (we’ve been holding on and praying each other through for 25 years now).

Inwardly, I “chickened out” a thousand times and tried to talk my hubby into doing it alone, but once we were on the road to Atlanta, I knew there was no turning back. Besides, I value my life, and I’m pretty sure Tee would have forgotten she is a child of God had I shown up at the wedding sans camera.

I’m convinced we prayed through every single shot. We wanted the photos to reflect the love between the couple as well as the love flowing from others to them. The wedding was work, but it was also fun. Hubby and I tag teamed, worked the bride and groom, their families, and guests concurrently, and coached each other through.

We ended up with thousands of photos, and surprisingly, there were more than a few good ones. In fact, there were a lot of great ones. We were pleased. The bride and groom were pleased. Most importantly, the mother of the bride was pleased. 😉

Here are a “few” of my favorite shots (You’ll have to forgive my partiality to black and white photos):

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There were really many beautiful and emotional moments, and fortunately, I was too busy for tears. There were so many times while shooting the wedding and reception that I remembered the little girl who explained to me the difference between Disney heroines; the preteen who argued persuasively while we walked the DC streets why kids would do a better job at running the U.S. government; and the teen who thought she would have better luck convincing me that she should go to boarding school than she had with her mom (I sided with her mom, but eventually she won).

Although I had just met the groom, his love for his bride was palpable and that was enough for me.

Breathe: Water and Abstract Photography

Life is too busy! I’ve shortened my to-do list, turned down invitations, postponed some of my activities, extended deadlines–still there are not enough hours in the day. The weekend seems far too short to make an impact on “all that must be done,” and I find myself moving from one task to another and unable to relax.

As I was looking through my “yet to be blogged” tower of mail, I ran across two of my penfriend Rebecca’s (Beckra’s) photos. Something about the photos urged me to take some time to wind down and relax.

“Cow Parsley,” Photo by Rebecca R.

Beckra shot the photo above in Pennsylvania while visiting her mother. Although the weather was rainy, she managed to capture some cow parsley reflected in the lake of her hometown.

“Kayaking Under the Trees,” photo by Rebecca R.

She shot this one on a Sunday morning while kayaking under the trees, giving herself “a chance to breathe.”

I always enjoy Beckra’s abstract photos. She has a talent for capturing water in the most intriguing ways. You can see more of her abstract water photos in earlier blog posts: Water, Light, and Fairies and Getting Through the CraZieS, part i.

Water has a calming effect on me. When we lived in New Orleans, the Mississippi River was always right there, its muddy waves available to wash away the strain and stress. Since I no longer live “right down the street” from a river, Beckra’s photos suffice, inviting me to take a moment to enjoy the water and breathe.

His Joy…My Strength

Joy is the atmosphere of heaven. It is the air God the Father Himself breathes in every day of eternity. And because joy is heaven’s delivered gift to me while I walk on planet earth, it is my delight and strength to experience the blessedness that God on His throne enjoys.   –Carol Burton McLeod, Joy for All Seasons