Jan’s Tree: Pause for Sanity

Jan's Tree: My Colleague and I were "considering the trees" on our short walk to a meeting.  Jan noticed this one and we paused to consider it.

Jan’s Tree: A couple of days ago, Jan–a colleague–and I were “considering the trees” on our short walk to a meeting. She noticed this one and we paused to reflect on its beauty and the cloud-play beyond it.

I have been “considering the trees” a lot lately.  I have had little time to “just be,” so this has been a key part of maintaining my sanity.  On the drive home, while walking a bit on campus, or running an errand, I have just been taking note of trees. These unplanned pauses with nature have helped me exhale and shake off the stress at various points of the day.

Jan's Tree: Origina/No Filter

Jan’s Tree: Original/No Filter/iPhone Photo

Thank God for the trees!

Letters!

Yesterday was “blah.”  I struggled through the day.  The sun fought bravely for a moment, so I opened my curtains to let the light in fully.  I normally work with only natural light in my office, so I figure having to turn the lights on contributed to my malaise.  The sun’s dominance was short-lived.

My mood suddenly turned bright when I arrived home to find four wonderful pieces of “real” mail waiting for me in the mailbox.  My heart jumped for joy!

First a postcard for “Superhero PC Swap #1” from “namelessgirl” (that’s her actual swap-bot name).

Action Comics No.419, December 1972 | Artists: Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson, DC Comics

Action Comics No. 419 |December 1972| Artists: Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson, DC Comics

She writes that she loves all things superhero and she just finished reading the book Super Gods by Grant Morrison.

My partner’s favorite superhero is Batman, so I sent her two postcards:

Detective Comics No. 587 |June 1988| Artist: Norm Breyfogle, DC Comics

Superhero Swap-1 Sent 01-23-15

Detective Comics No. 38 |April 1940| Artists: Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, DC Comics

I also received lists of fairytales, myths, and folklore from Pynart, who hosted the swap “I Still Believe in 398.2,” the Dewey Decimal number for folk literature.  Swappers were supposed to send three lists–cherished fairytales, myths, and folklore.

IMG_5473

I love the “Puss in Boots” envelope.  I’m still working on making my too-long lists manageable, and I plan to include one of the lesser known tales with the letter to my partner. Shhh…don’t tell.

I received not one, but two letters from Artybeth, one of my pen friends and a “Christian Friend” on swap-bot.

IMG_5457

This first one was for a Christian Friends swap, “Spiritual Goals 2015.”  We were to share our spiritual goals in a letter and place an encouraging scripture on the outside of the envelope. As usual, Artybeth enclosed extra goodies–more washi tape samples for me! I really like getting samples with swaps.  I usually  get samples of washi tape that I don’t have–there are so many great ones!  But what I really like is that they’re flat and fit anywhere, so they’re perfect for journaling and letter writing on the go!

IMG_5463

The second one was just because…Well, really, in response to a letter I’d written to her back in November.  Again, she enclosed cute extras.  I’m loving the vintage typewriter and Snoopy happy with a letter; this is probably what I looked like after leaving the mailbox.

Well, I’m off to respond to letters and start my list of individuals to write during “Month of Letters 2015”–a letter, notecard, postcard, happy mail into the world every day.

Wishing you a happy mail day…

Playing with Black and White (Part III): Buildings

For the last couple of days, I’ve been sharing monochrome photography exchanged through swaps I hosted in “A Thousand Words,” a group of swap-bot.  You can see the first two posts here and here.

The third swap in the series focused on buildings–inside or outside, part or whole. My partner, Cakers, captured most of the images below while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico for the Christmas holiday. She sent four striking notecards that I can’t wait to write on with my white ink.  [Click an image for a closer look]

I love the interior of the one building (lower right), and the play of light and dark in all the shots.

I sent my partner three notecards. I can only remember two of the shots I sent. I’m thinking about using the B&W “version” of the photo below for Liberate Your Art 2015. The other is a modification of a 2012 photo.

“Abandoned,” Madison County, Alabama, 2014

I found this beauty one afternoon while my hubby, son, and I were on the hunt for great photo opportunities. Here it is in color–

“Abandoned”

And here’s the modification of an earlier photo–

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

Chapel of Peace, Whippoorwill Academy and Village, Ferguson, North Carolina, 2012

You can see the color version of this photo in a December 2013 post.

Here’s a bonus shot from Midteacher sent for another swap.  Can I consider a stairway part of a building?

“Stairway in Traverse City,” Photo by Midteacher aka DBW

She loved the stonework and couldn’t resist taking a photo.  I see why!

I’m looking forward to more B&W/monochrome photo swaps in our little photo group. I just set up “Teddy Bears and Dolls” and “Trees.”  I’m excited to get started!

If you’re into monochrome photography, you should check out Leanne Cole’s blog. She hosts a series called Monochrome Madness. I haven’t gathered the courage to share any of my images there. Soon, though. Maybe.

Until next time…

Playing with Black and White (Part II): A Touch of Color

Yesterday, I shared Part I of “Playing with Black and White” (Flowers).  Today, as promised, I bring you Part II.

The second swap in the “A Thousand Words” group’s B&W photography series, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” invited photographers to stretch their skill just a little further by keeping just one color in the photo.

Mahlermail sent three photos that did not stay in my possession long; my little one requested them for his nature album moments after I opened the envelope.

“Leaf” by Mahlermail, October 2014

She captured the leaf in North Carolina while driving/riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s my favorite–an autumn leaf! 🙂

“Owl Eyes,” by Mahlermail

The owl picture was taken two years ago at a state park in the Houston, Texas area.  Its eyes are so striking, I can’t imagine them “losing” their color.

“Backyard Baby Love,” by Mahlermail

Mahlermail was fortunate enough to catch this one in her own backyard. She describes the photo as “totally cute”–a spring baby bird being fed by its mama.

I sent my partner four or five photos. Here’s one of them:

Melissa's Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

Melissa’s Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

I captured Melissa the Magnificent’s (the Program Coordinator in Academic Administration) beautiful red birthday roses on my iPad. They’ve gone through several different post-processes. I haven’t figured out which one I love the most, so I’m always looking for opportunities to use them in swaps. I’m a little proud of this shot since it shows a bit of improvement in my rose photography.

The quote is borrowed from the opening lines of John Keats’ poem, “Endymion.”

Here’s another of the shots I sent my partner–

My New Orleans, Original Photo, 2011

My New Orleans, Original Photo Taken July 2011

This photo is part of a “My New Orleans” collection of photos that I’ve been building for the last few years. I captured it while my sister, son, niece, and I strolled through the French Quarter one summer afternoon. I cheated a little by keeping more than one color, so I sent this one an extra.  Don’t you just l-o-v-e this dress?

I also played around with fish, flowers, leaves, stained glass, street art, and bird berries.

Some of these were a “miss”–they lost something they needed when most of the color was removed. But I enjoyed playing around with them.  The fun thing about keeping a little color in B&W photos is deciding which color helps the photo make a statement.

I’ll post the third part–“Buildings in Black and White“–tomorrow, or the next day.

Looking forward…

Playing with Black and White: Flowers

I’ve been experimenting on and off with black and white photography for a few years now, but I was recently “inspired” by Amy Saab’s blog post “The Roses Had Spots” to set up a series of swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

There are a number of photography groups on swap-bot. I belong to three or four. This group is different in that it requires photographers to be at least “intermediate” level and capable of crafting more sophisticated or thoughtful swaps using photos–beyond the simple “snap a shot and send it.” We’re a small group by swap-bot standards, but many of the members are serious hobbyists who may have taken a class or two or who have sold their photographic work at craft shows or in online shops. The idea is to challenge each other to grow and provide constructive feedback when necessary.

In her post, Amy Saab shared “flawed” roses in black and white. She “removed the color to show their beautiful structure.” I’ve done the same thing with “flawed” photos of flowers, buildings, people, and other subjects.

Even without “imperfections,” black and white photography reveals beauty in ways that we often miss because of all the color. Don’t get me wrong. I love the brilliance of color photography, but an image composed in black and white can be breathtaking.

So far, I’ve hosted three “black and white” (or monochrome) swaps–in October, November, and December 2014.  Instead of showcasing the photographs in one blog post, I will share the photos in three separate posts.

The first swap in the series was “Flowers in Black and White.” Swappers were to alter photos of flowers already in their collections and select what they consider the best two and send the B&W photos to their partners. They were encouraged, but not required, to send the color photos as well.

My partner, “Midteacher,” sent four sets. I’m sharing two because the other two are either buried under my desk clutter or are sitting in the collection of notecards I keep at work just in case I get the urge to write a note or letter during a break.

Flower in Purple by DBW

“Balloon Flower” by DBW aka Midteacher

Midteacher writes that she loves B&W photography because of the details the photos expose. “By taking away the color,” she writes, “the eye focuses on the textures and details of the shot.”

Flower in Black and White by DBW

“Balloon Flower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

She writes that she “loves the veins in this shot.”

Purple is my favorite color and I love seeing purple in nature, but I’m having a difficult time staying loyal to purple in this instance.

Midteacher also sent my favorite flower, a sunflower. She loves the industrious bee who was too “busy to notice me standing away with my camera.”

The Bee and the Sunflower by DBW

“The Bee and the Sunflower” by DBW aka Midteacher

The sunflower is stunning in black and white, especially with the added texture that doesn’t show up so well in the scan below.

The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White by Dee

“The Bee and the Sunflower in Black and White” by DBW aka Midteacher

I sent my partner four sets of flowers in B&W. Two that appear in earlier posts–dogwood blossoms and daisies–and one that will be featured in a future post, so I’ll share only one of them here.

Untitled 2 2I shot this one in color some time during Fall 2013. The original color image also appears in an earlier post. It was one of the images I used to make a postcard for International Women’s Day 2014. The B&W photo was a bit “blah,” so I used sepia instead.

Here are two I intended to send when I began planning the swap, but I completely forgot about them when I put the swap together.  (Sorry Newfie!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I captured the water lily while on a Mother’s Day visit to the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. The lavender flower was my favorite shot of the day.  I like the photo in B&W, but I love the color one.  I found the bright orange and yellow flower while taking a walk one summer day.

Here are two bonus postcards Beckra (RR) sent.

“Wild Alium” by Beckra (RR)

“Blackberry Blossom,” by Beckra (RR).

She writes, “In early autumn Arkansas seems to undergo a second spring of sorts.  Flowers that had lapsed during the heat of summer re-emerge.”

Beckra and I were on the same photographic page when I put the swap together. She had just ordered these B&W postcards when she read the swap description, so she decided to share them with me.  I always appreciate her photographic interpretation of her world.

I’ll post the second part, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” tomorrow.

Oh, my hubby has finally joined the blogosphere here on WordPress. While you anxiously wait for my next post, head over to his page and show him some blog love. 🙂  Find him here:  Viewfinder.

See ya later!

Love Your Enemies

Martin Luther King, Jr. Artwork (and Essay) by Vaughan, 2015, 3rd Grade

Martin Luther King, Jr. Artwork by VM, 2015, 3rd Grade

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

–Martin Luther King, Jr., “Love Your Enemies,” Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, November 17, 1957

There’s Just Something About New Orleans: Vintage New Orleans Postcards

A few days ago, I received the latest vintage New Orleans postcard to add to my “vintage NOLA” collection.  I’ve received at least a dozen over the last couple of years via swap-bot swappers.

The linen postcards which follow measure approximately 3.5 x 5.5 inches. None of the postcards bear dates, so I can only judge the printing date by the postal instructions: “Place one cent stamp here.”  The cost to mail a postcard was one cent from 1898 to 1917, which means most of the postcards were printed during this period.

New Orleans Vintage Postcards Back

New Orleans Vintage Postcards Back

Like this one, each bears the line, “New Orleans–America’s Most Interesting City” on the back. Forgive my bias, but  I couldn’t agree more.

Courtyard, Little Theatre 616 St. Peter

Courtyard, Little Theatre, 616 St. Peter, New Orleans

From the postcard back: “Le Petit Theatre du Vieux-Carre” is considered one of the leading Little Theatres of the country.  It occupies the former home and courtyard of Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, the last Spanish Governor of Louisiana.  The courtyard is one of the most beautiful in the city.

Here’s another view of the Little Theatre Courtyard:

Courtyard of Little Theatre, New Orleans, Louisiana

Courtyard of Little Theatre, New Orleans

Here’s one of the iron lacework so popular in the French Quarter:

Lacework in Iron in Old New Orleans

Lacework in Iron in Old New Orleans

From the postcard back: These delicate lacework patterns in wrong and cast iron, characteristic of the Vieux Carre give the quarter of New Orleans its atmosphere of old France and Old Spain.

Jackson Square, showing the Cabildo, the St.Louis Cathedral, and Pontalba Apartments, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jackson Square, showing the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral, and Pontalba Apartments, New Orleans

From the postcard back:  Jackson Square, originally known as Place D’Armes is a monument to Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, whose funds built the St. Louis Cathedral in 1794, and Pontalba Apartments, flanking the Square.  The building to the left of the religious edifice is the Cabildo, best known monument to the age of Spanish domination, and storehouse of historic treasures.  The building on the right of the church is the Presbytere, housing the Natural Science Division of the Louisiana State Museum.  In the center of the square is the Jackson Monument unveiled in 1856. Jackson Square has been well-preserved and is under excellent care.

Pirate's Alley, New Orleans, Louisiana

Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans

From the postcard back: Pirate’s Alley extends for one block from Royal Street to Chartres Street. Through this alleyway pirates were taken to the Cabildo Jail.  It is also known as Old Orleans Alley and separates the Cabildo from Old St. Louis Cathedral.

The Old Absinthe House, Bourbon at Bienville, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Old Absinthe House, Bourbon at Bienville, New Orleans

From the postcard back: The Old Absinthe House is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans’ internationally famous Vieux Carre and was the headquarters, during the latter part of the 18th and the early part of the 19th centuries, of Jean Lafitte, the pirate-patriot of whose prowess and wrath volumes have been written.  Today, after the span of three centuries, it is still catering to connoisseurs and discriminating drinkers from every part of the world.

Napolean Bonaparte House, New Orleans, Louisiana

Napolean Bonaparte House, New Orleans

From the postcard back: The Napoleon Bonaparte House, situated in the heart of New Orleans’s famous View Carre or French Quarter, is located at the corner of St. Louis and Chartres Streets.  This building was erected with the idea of providing quarters of refuge for Napoleon Bonaparte after the bold plot in which the story says the noted LaFitte band of pirates was involved to kidnap him from exile in St. Helena and bring him to New Orleans.  The plot failed because Napoleon died before it could be executed.

March 2014 Incoming Mail-1-31

Fan Window in Governor Claiborne’s House, Toulouse Street, New Orleans

From the postcard back: In many of the old homes in the Vieux Carre, huge fan windows like this one, the finest n the city, na still be found.  Claiborne, the first American Governor of the territory of Orleans, was nominated on Friday, October 5, 1804.  In 1812 the territory of Orleans became the present state of Louisiana.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans

From the postcard back:  St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, La.  Accommodating 1000 Guests.  A Dinkler Hotel. Carling Dinkler, Pres.

This postcard depicts the third St. Charles Hotel, built shortly after fire destroyed the second building in 1894.  The first building was also destroyed by fire–in1851.  See here for more information and images of the first two buildings.

Vintage New Orleans-5

Canal Street

From the postcard back: Canal Street, one of the widest, most beautiful, and best lighted streets in the world, is the center of all activities in New Orleans.

Azaeleas in Bloom.  City Park, New Orleans, La.

Azaeleas in Bloom, City Park of New Orleans

From the postcard back: One of the beautiful plantings of azaleas to be found in New Orleans. The city has recently completed a floral trail of over 25 miles in length, making thus one of the most colorful winter garden spots in the United States.

March 2014 Incoming Mail-1-37

Unloading Bananas, New Orleans

From the postcard back:  New Orleans is the world’s greatest banana port.  More than 700 ships arrive each year laded with 25,000 to 50,000 bunches of bananas.  Each individual bunch is carried from the hold of the ship tot he door of the refrigerator on mechanical conveyers.

These last few, though vintage, are a lot more recent than the smaller, brightly colored linen postcards above.

An updated image of Jackson Square:

Jackson Square, New Orleans

Jackson Square, New Orleans

And the Pontalba Apartments:

Pontalba Building, New Orleans

Pontalba Building, New Orleans

From the postcard back: Pontalba Apartments.  Built in 1850, the two red brick structures on either side of Jackson Square are believed to be the first apartment buildings in the United States.

Vintage New Orleans-4

Bourbon and Bienville, New Orleans

From postcard back: Crossroads of the historic French Quarter.  The corner is also the home of the Absinthe House.  Photo by Don Ceppi.

Vintage New Orleans-3

This postcard features postcard images I remember purchasing many, many moons ago when I was working on a project for my Louisiana History class (in junior high school).  Featured on the postcard are: at The Superdome, Jackson Square, Bourbon and Bienveille, Cafe Du Monde, Bourbon and Bienville signs, The Dickson’s Place, Lace Balconies, Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral, Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, St. Charles Street Car, and Aft-Deck Oyster Bar.

Judging by the postcards, the things that made New Orleans dear to the hearts of individuals nearly a century ago are still drawing individuals to the city today.

If these postcards have piqued your interest, take some time to look into the history of these buildings and sites of New Orleans. You will be intrigued.  There’s just something about New Orleans…

I’m not going to lay down in words the lure of this place.  Every great writer in the land, from Faulker to Twain to Rice to Ford, has tried to do it and fallen short.  It is impossible to capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in words and to try is to roll down a road of cliches, bouncing over beignets and needs and brass bands and it just is what it is–It is home.   –Chris Rose, One Dead in the Attic