#ThursdayTreeLove | Summer’s Crepe Myrtle

Crepe myrtles come in bloom
In the sunny summertime.
They beautify the landscape,
And we enjoy them so sublime.

from “Lovely Crepe Myrtles” by Margaret Cagle

One of the things I miss most about our home in New Orleans is the gorgeous trees that surrounded the property. Since our current neighborhood is fairly “young,” the trees have not grown to their full potential. There are no shady oaks or grand magnolias gracing lawns and gardens.

A tree that gave me a lot of pleasure was the crepe myrtle that grew near the curb leading to our driveway. I’ll have to do a deep dive into my photo files to see if I have any photos of that particular tree, but here are some snaps of crepe myrtles found in the [relatively] more recent files–shot since our move to Northern Alabama–including a tree I shot last weekend near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

One of the gorgeous sights I beheld when I looked through my office window [a few years ago] is a pair of crepe myrtles. They greeted me each time I left the building and headed out for a campus walk or an errand.

Imagine my chagrin when I exited the building one afternoon and met tree movers extracting  the trees. [Images above]. Initially, I was horrified, but since our campus is clearly a tree haven, I assumed–because I’ve never asked–there was a problem with the trees.

Even though I lost the couple, there are many other crepe myrtles all over campus for me to enjoy. They are a sight to behold during the mid-summer when all the other blooms are resting till spring.

Whenever I travel in the South (USA), I encounter the trees with blooms of various colors–white, pink, purple, and red. So far, I’ve managed to capture the tree in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and now, Tennessee.

The crepe myrtle is a pretty tree, but I find it difficult to adequately convey the prettiness through photos.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

“It Is the Rain That Calms Me” | #WordlessWednesday

“Purple Hibiscus Unfolding”

“The Things That Consume Me”
Zubair Ahsan

It is the fire that consumes me;
It is an inexplicable love,

It is the rain that calms me;
It is a melody from above.

It is the wind that humbles me;
It is everywhere and nowhere,

It is the sand that fuels me;
It is the artistry of nature.

I’m consumed by what I am,
I’m calmed by a riotous noise,

I’m humbled through arrogance,
I’m fueled by what is in poise.

I’ve much cherished the mystifying,
I’ve heard the unreal symphonies,

I’ve been moved by the inevitable,
And I’ve hailed the epiphanies.

Loc’d: Second Journey

“Loc’d Defined,” Photo by Cy

I began my second locs journey a week ago.

When I first loc’d my hair 13+ years ago, I was five months pregnant, dealing with the losses of Post-Katrina New Orleans, and adjusting to a new normal. Although I had “gone natural” four years before, the time never felt right for loc’ing.

Until then.

I craved the permanency and flexibility of locs. I needed something that would connect me to my natural self and my cultural roots, and that would allow me to navigate the early years of motherhood with one less concern.

I’d planned to loc for only seven years–the spiritual number of completion. I considered cutting them off after losing Karlette, but I wasn’t ready.

“Loc’d Mommy,” Photo by My Hubby

My son, especially, wasn’t ready for a loc-less mom. Though I suspect he most enjoyed “pranking me” by tying my locs to the head rest in the car, loc’d Mommy was all he knew and he resisted the idea of my cutting them off.

My hair was a way to “mark time” as we journeyed through the first decade of his life. There was lots of growth for both of us.

In year 10, with my son’s “permission,” I convinced my bestie to cut my locs when her family came for a visit.

Good-bye Locs

That was March 2016.

Now that I’ve begun my second journey, I am asked “why?”–the same question I heard over and over when I began loc’ing the first time and when I cut my lengthy locs three years ago. The question is asked for many [complex] reasons, some of which are touched on in an earlier post.

I do not intend to go into those reasons in this post; I have only my answer to the question.

The last several months have been traumatic in some ways, and I’ve been feeling the drive to loc again. I first felt the inclination after Lori passed. I held back because I thought those feelings were a knee-jerk reaction to something I couldn’t control. However, as the months crept along, the desire grew stronger.

The losses have been significant, the pain unbearable at times. I needed to begin the process again, to mark the journey as I navigate the grief and trauma.

For me, there is incredible power in loc’ing–the patient waiting, the commitment to the process. As the hair locs and lengthens, I stretch. I strengthen. I heal.

Doodle Flowers: Show Me Your Art

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. –Twyla Tharp

I’ve mentioned–on numerous occasions–I’m not an artist, but I’ve been playing around with my few art supplies lately, enjoying the feel of ink and colored pencils on the pages of a hardly used sketch journal tossed out by a friend.

This summer has not been the easy, relaxed summer I need, so I have been doodling as part of my morning meditation and at other times when I feel overwhelmed. It has been a pleasant way to take a “time out” from the demands on my time.

This isn’t art for show, really. I do it for myself–encouraged by the wonderful artists I’ve met through blogging, like Deb Breton, Sheila Delgado, and Holly M. In fact, I did not intend to share today. However, Laurie of Color Poems requested that I share–in response to my comment that I doodled flowers similar to her “scribble flowers.” I must oblige, of course!

So, here are my [original] doodle flowers.

I really wanted to watercolor the background, but since I can find neither my watercolor paper nor pencils, I just doodled them in the sketchpad. I used a couple of apps to add background and brighten the colors. The result is the first image in the post.

How about you? Do you ever draw or color while meditating? Or to relieve stress?  I’d love to see your work!  Share something on your blog and share the link in the comments. Pretty please.

Be sure to take a time out with some ink or paint or crayons this week.

Now There Are Two: Meet the Bunnies

Once upon a time there were four little rabbits. –Beatrix Potter, opening [half] line of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

We have bunny house guests! I’m not sure how long they’re going to stay, but we are loving our furry, very active little visitors.

As I write this, I’m watching them run to and fro in their temporary home, the dance they perform to let us know they are hungry. They are always hungry. They’re also nosy…uh…curious little things.

“Curiosity”

The bunnies have been with us for almost a month. My husband received a message from my son’s school that three recently orphaned bunnies needed a home, so my son and I picked them up at the end of the school day and eagerly took them home.

“Photo Bomb”

The poor babies witnessed the horrific demise of their mother at the hands of a hungry and determined coyote. I imagine she sacrificed her own life to protect her little ones. Can you imagine the terror those bunnies experienced? I know nature is nature and coyotes have to eat too, but still…”bad, bad coyote!”

These are not “keeper bunnies,” so we haven’t given them names or handled them as we would pets. Because they will be released back “into the wild” eventually, we don’t want them to lose their survival instincts.

Sadly, one of the triplets died not long after we brought them home. We’re not sure why, but we’re pleased the other two are happily thriving.

For just a little more bunny love, click over to Beverly Dyer’s Art Prescription; her “Soft Bunny” watercolor provides an extra dose of cuteness. Then, hop over to Holly’s ThreeSixFiveArt and swoon over “Bunny” drawn by a five-year-old Ellis. I drew a bunny this week, and I tell you, her art skills way surpass mine!

Wishing you a weekend of sweetness and warmth…and to all the fathers…

Happy Father’s Day!

#ThursdayTreeLove | The Dance of the Magnolia

There is something arresting and unearthly about a magnolia tree in flower. Something that dances between divinity and dementia.  —Pavithra K. Mehta, Magnolia Tree

Louisiana girl that I am, the Southern Magnolia is [naturally] one of my favorite trees. I’ve been trying to “perfectly” capture the magnolia blossom for years. I remember stopping to photograph the blossoms whenever I could before our move from New Orleans because I wanted the perfect magnolia from New Orleans to deck one of our walls.

I managed to capture a few satisfactory shots before we left. They’re far less than perfect, but the expertly composed shots of the flower by my brother [on display in my parents’ home]  and other photographers encourage me to keep working on it.

“Inside the Magnolia”

So, here are my meager magnolia offerings for #ThursdayTreeLove. I shot some on campus a week ago just after a rain shower and some at my cousin’s house a couple of weeks ago before my grand color exploration with the tiny one.

I felt the photos needed texture, so I added just a little [hopefully] without compromising the natural beauty of the flowers and tree.

The magnolia leaf, so elegantly formed, remains strong and glossy even after its fall.

Some of the blossoms deserved the stroke of Impressionism, so I “painted” some.  I’ve come a long way with my art skills since I made a mess last week–thanks to the Impresso app. 😉

These are in various stages of bloom. My photo of a tightly closed bloom is “meh” at best, so I’ll spare you that one.

“And the time came…”

The tricky thing about photographing magnolias is finding ways around the height of the tree. The campus trees are really tall, but I was able to get nice “beneath the blossoms” shots.

“Twinsies”

“The Underside of Perfection”

The gorgeous “end” of the flower.

“Bald and Beautiful”

And finally, here’s a quick video I made of one of the magnolias on campus enjoying the company of the other trees. Thanks to Amanda, one of my photographer friends, for the tip about Pixaloop, which gave me the moving clouds and birds.

I quote Pavithra M at the beginning of this post. Her short piece, “Magnolia Tree” powerfully communicates the essence of the magnolia and our attraction to it. Be sure to click over and give it a read. But should you neglect doing so, I leave you with her closing words:

I think about this outlandish tree that races back to Time’s cradle, and its flowers that open alarmingly wide as if to swallow the sun, the way it gives itself madly to the moment. With radical generosity and no reservation. And what would be possible–if we could learn to live like that.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Good Vibes | Music, Hope, and Monochrome Mayhem

I always want to talk about important subjects, but with hope. Music is supposed to heal people. — Fatoumata Diawara

At the beginning of the year, I thought I’d focus on developing my monochrome photography skills, but life got in the way. Before I pressed pause on that venture, though, I was able to coordinate and complete two “Monthly Monochrome Mayhem” swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

Through the swaps, I made another photographer friend, Betty H., from the United Kingdom. She does a lot of concert photography, so she shared photos from a show at Birmingham Town Hall that featured Fatoumata Diawara and Staff Benda Bilili, singers from the continent of Africa.

Diawara is a Malian singer-song writer and actor whose music:

draws elements of jazz and funk into an exquisitely sparse contemporary folk sound – refracting the rocking rhythms and plaintive melodies of her ancestral Wassoulou tradition through an instinctive pop sensibility. At the centre of the music is Fatou’s warm, affecting voice, spare, rhythmical guitar playing and gorgeously melodic songs that draw powerfully on her own often troubled experience.  –from Fatoumata Diawara’s Facebook Page.

Diawara opened for Staff Benda Bilili, a group of disabled street musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group consists of:

Four senior singer/guitarists sitting on spectacularly customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication, are the core of the band, backed by a younger, all-acoustic, rhythm section pounding out tight beats. Over the top of this are weird, infectious guitar-like solos performed by a [young] prodigy on a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can. –from Staff Benda Bilili’s Facebook Page

The name of the group translates roughly to “see beyond [appearances].”

Betty says the musicians were “a joy to photograph.” I can tell! There’s so much energy in the photos that I can feel the good vibes.

The spark is even more apparent in the original color photos.

Aren’t the photos spectacular? Betty confessed that she frequently converts concert photographs to monochrome because “working around the choices of the lighting technicians” can be challenging. I see her point, but I love the mysterious aura of the color photos too.

Indie Week’s interview of Fatoumata Diawara outlines her philosophies of music and life. And if you have never heard this soulful singer, please take a listen to Fatou, her debut album.

And then, turn to the rhythmic fusion of soukous (influenced by rumba), rhythm and blues, and reggae found in the music of Staff Benda Bilili.

As Diawara points out, there’s a lot of difficulty in life. There’s also hope, joy, and laughter, which make the tough stuff bearable. I feel all of this in the music of Staff Benda Bilili and Fatoumata Diawara. Don’t you?

Until next time…

Finding Color with the Tiny One

“The Little Explorer”

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. –Oscar Wilde

The Southern magnolias are blooming and spring is breathing her last. Last week when we visited my cousin and her family, her daughter who is four, noticed me photographing the magnolias and the tiny purple flowers near the front door and made it her job to find all the remnants of color and flowers left in the garden.

So while the guys looked over a “fixer-upper” vintage Corvette, we searched for all the bits of color still hanging on in the garden. [Click images for a closer look].

We found pink in “once roses.”

 

Purple, always camera-ready.

 

Almost-missed yellow hiding out in all the green.

 

White hydrangeas hiding in the shade of trees in the front garden. And my favorite “unloved” flower, dandelions, in the back.

 

Green, of course–new holly berries and lettuce, one of the many leafy greens growing in their back garden.

 

Purplish/blue hydrangeas hiding against the back fence. [They look purplish here, but they really were more bluish “in real life.”]

And more purple from the lamb’s ears plant that I’m sure was some small animal’s feast.

We found a tiny green heart-shaped leaf.

And lots of colorful flowers on the little explorer’s skirt.

These photos aren’t so great. In our search for color, I simply followed directives. The tiny one was a taskmaster, so there was little time for composition and focus.

Just as we had exhausted color in the front yard, their neighbor’s dogs came charging at us full speed and barking ferociously. That was my favorite part of our adventure. Not! I stood shock-still in terror while the tiny one stood chatting away, oblivious to the danger the dogs posed.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just weeks ago their gardens–front and back–were exploding with color. I missed the hydrangeas and roses in full bloom, but I managed to capture the Japanese magnolias and apple blossoms.  I have yet to post the apple blossoms on the blog, but if you missed their gorgeous magnolia, click the link and take a look. They’re certainly a treat for the eyes and soul.

Wishing you a weekend full of color and light…

Be the Light!

My home office is a complete, utter mess. The books and papers are literally closing in on me. There is a narrow path from the door to the desk and my favorite thinking place–the window. Other than that, every space is covered with stacks of books and piles of paper.

At some point, I’ll spend a day or two getting things back in order. For now, I’m glad I kept the many beautiful works of art created by swap-bot and Love Notes pals separate from the madness–especially since I have a lot of “catch-up sharing” to do this summer.

Today, I’m sharing a couple of postcards that remind us of the [potential] role we play in the life of each person we encounter.

The first card came from Martha S. of Postcards in the Air.

“Be the Light.” Artwork by Martha S.

Martha’s cheerful watercolor urges us to “be a light in someone’s life.” Her work has been featured on Pics and Posts many times. My favorites are her autumn leaves and the über cute raccoon watercolor.  Be sure to check out her blog for more of her work and musings.

The card below, also a watercolor, came from Rae L. I hadn’t seen her in my mailbox in ages, so I was overjoyed to receive this pretty card.

“Flowers.” Artwork by Rae L.

Rae included a Mother Teresa quote with her flowers:

Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. –Mother Teresa

I truly appreciate the messages of love and light. The world can be lonely, dark, and cold, so the work of light workers is critical. If you think you have very little to offer, remember, even the smallest flicker radiates tremendous light.