NaBloPoMo 2017: To Blog or Not to Blog? [Black and White Photo Challenge]

I spent the last few days trying to decide if I should participate in Na(tional) Blo(g) Po(st) Mo(nth) this year. I found no information about NaBloPoMo 2017–not even from Blogher, which normally hosts and offers prompts and support for participants–so I decided NaBloPoMo would be a no-go for me this year.

The blog goddesses had other plans.

Just a few moments ago, I received a message that someone added me to the NaBloPoMo support group on Facebook, so here I am…with an almost last minute post for the first day…because I can’t miss day one.

Have you seen the seven-day black and white photo challenge on Facebook? The challenge is simple: Someone tags you to post a black and white photo daily for seven days. You must tag a different person every day. There can be no people in the photos and there can be no explanation. Easy-peasy, right?

My brother, Dennis, tagged me, so of course, I had to do it. I completed the challenge yesterday, so I’m sharing the photos here with “brief explanation” (since I suppose the rules do not apply to blogs).  [With the exception of “The Birds,” the photos were shot with my iPhone].

Day 1:

Day 1: Look Toward the Light

I captured “Look Toward the Light” as I was leaving work one day, weary and ready for bed. The clouds were dark with promise of rain, but the sun burst forth and gave me the energy I needed to get through the evening.

Day 2:

Day 2: “Bearer of the Keys”

While waiting in the carpool line for my son to get out of school, my eyes locked on my favorite keyring. I bought the keyring almost two decades ago in England (which has the cutest teddy bear items). This bear has been carrying my keys ever since.

Day 3:

Day 3: “Out to Lunch”

The Instagram page “I Have This Thing with Bikes” (which features amazing bicycle photos from all over the world) has me hooked on photographing bikes whenever I see them. I caught this one on the way to pick up lunch from the Market on campus. Its owner was obviously “out to lunch” too.

Day 4:

Day 4: The Other Love

This camera and I are still getting to know each other. The shot is the result of my waiting for a program to end. I placed the camera on a chair next to me and we sat quietly studying each other.

Day 5:

Day 5: Love You Always

This is the top of a box filled with goodies from Aleta, one of my besties. She loves giving gifts and she takes so much care with presentation. Her signature style involves enclosing gifts in decorative boxes that can be used for storage and/or display.

Day 6:

Day 6: The Strength of an Elephant

This little baby elephant is part of my little one’s elephant collection. The day I shot the photo, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and weak–my to-do list was exceptionally long and I was not feeling well. The elephant reminded me:

You were born into this life because you are strong enough to live it.

Day 7:

Day 7: The Birds

I stepped out of  my office yesterday to take a quick walk and get some fresh air. What I encountered felt like a scene straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. There were hundreds of birds on the lawn a few feet away. When someone walked near the birds, they (all) took flight in a seemingly single move. The photos show they were not as uniform in movement as they appeared, even from a slight distance. But the sound of hundreds of birds suddenly moving “in unison” was a bit unnerving. After watching the birds for a few minutes and capturing a few photos, I decided to take cover in the safety of my office, just in case the birds had other ideas.

This is a fun challenge. If someone tags you, go for it. It’s a nice distraction from the everyday normal.

First day done, 29 more to go. Eek! Let’s see if we’ll make it to the end this year.

Love Inspired: Loyal Birds and “Fowl” Words

For a recent “Love Inspired” swap for the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot Gale D., my partner, went birds and feathers on me.  The goal of the swap was to pair a love quote with an appropriate photo.

Gale settled on a quote from  A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.

Gale does a lot of bird photography, so she sent me two of her favorite photos.

The first, a pair of Mute Swans:

“Mute Swans” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

According to Gale’s note, the Mute Swans “stay together forever. It saves time and energy, and they produce more cygnets this way.  They make a great team.”

I found some interesting tidbits about Mute Swans on Cornell University’s All About Birds Site.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Mute Swans are not native to North America
  • The swans pretty much mate for life, but will find another mate if a partner dies
  • Their reputation for monogamy along with their white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures
  • The Mute Swan is the “star” of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling
  • The swans are pretty aggressive (so give them lots of space)
  • The oldest known Mute Swan is 26 years, 9 months old

Gale also sent a pair of Canada Geese and their goslings.

“Canada Geese,” by Gale D., grstamping on swap-bot

Gale wrote that she loves Canada Geese, but although they adapt around humans well, she hasn’t had much opportunities to get close to the geese.  Ironically, she lives in Canada.  This particular photo was shot in a cemetery pond.

There are a LOT of Canada Geese on the university campus where I work.  She’d have no problem getting up close and personal with them. During early fall, they pretty much rule the campus, even stopping traffic at times.  That can be annoying, but it is a pretty glorious sight to see them take flight in formation.

During the second year of their lives Canada Geese find a mate, and like Mute Swans, they are monogamous and mate for life.

It truly is inspiring to find such “faithfulness” and “loyalty” in the animal kingdom.  We often think so little of them, but we have so much to learn from them.

“Art Takes Courage”–Liberate Your Art 2016 Side Swaps

The party is never really over with Liberate Your Art.  It is pure pleasure to find a “random” postcard from another LYA participant in my mailbox.  I had the good fortune of sharing with many other photographers and artists long after the swap and the blog hop.

Wanna see?

“Dandelion in Snow,” Photo by Christine

Christine of Flagstaff, Arizona has been a faithful postcard sender since our first interaction shortly after Liberate Your Art 2016. She sent the dandelion with the blessing, “May you find peace and love everywhere you go.  Enjoy life.  Share and trust.”

“This Spring” by Christine

This was not one of Christine’s LYA selections.  She shot the photo in the spring and lamented the crazy weather–snow in May with wind that took the petals off the trees.  Fortunately, she was able to capture the beauty before the ravages of unpredictable weather.

And for the last LYA 2016 postcard, Christine sent a photo of gulls she captured in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez.

Photo by Christine

“Six Sand Pipers Walk on Water,” Photo by Christine

She also reminded me that “Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday,” so “live it up and enjoy!” Christine introduced me to the fabulous Love Notes community and regularly sends postcards to many in the group. [For the record, I know the postcard depicts only three birds].

Pat sent a distressed crow with hugs from the Pacific Northwest.

“Birds-Eye View,” by Pat M.

The problem with not posting things soon after receiving them is I misplace all sorts of pertinent information, like whether or not Pat has a blog or how we even connected.

Laurie of Color Poems shared a sweet photo postcard of peonies, chives, and atmint from her garden.

“From My Garden,” by Laurie

Laurie and I “met” three years ago via LYA 2013. She has since been a loyal supporter of “Pics and Posts” and of me personally.  Along with well wishes, she shared a quote on the back of the postcard: “With the coming of spring, I am calm again.” –Gustav Mahler

Sheila Delgado is a multi-media artist I met a couple of years ago through LYA.  She’s been enjoying new ways of painting my favorite flower–the sunflower.

“Sunflower Twins,” by Sheila Delgado

Sheila also printed a bit of creative inspiration on the back of her card.  She appropriately selected a Georgia O’Keeffe quote:  “To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”  Sheila features more sunflowers and other art on her blog: Sheila’s Corner Studio.

Louise’s postcard made its way to me from France. She shared a view of Venice.

“Venice” by Louise Mamet

Louise, a professional photographer, described her visit to Venice as “magical.” Check out her stunning photos at Drops of Everything.  If you have time for little else, check out her post on the “swimming pool turned museum.”

Kat van Rooyen is a certified zentangle teacher and a photographer. Can you guess what she sent?

“Zentangle,” by Kat van Rooyen

The original was drawn on Canson watercolor paper with a Micron O1 Sakura pen. Kat’s artistic wisdom graced the back of the postcard: “No one can see through your eyes: no one can speak your art. Create!” If you want to know more about Kat and/or zentangles, find her at Hearts Untangled.

Sherry, who lives on a remote island off Kodiak Island, Alaska, sent her mixed media piece with hugs and a John Muir quote–“In every walk of nature, one receives more than he seeks.”

“Conceive, Believe, Achieve” by Sherry H., Amook Island Creations

I originally met Sherry through swap-bot, but it’s such a delight running into her through LYA.

When Janice posted her extra postcards in the LYA Facebook group with an offer to share, I could not pass up the opportunity of getting my hands on this elephant!

“Indian Elephant,” Art by Janice D.

To use a teeny-bopper/college student expression, this elephant is “everything!” Both my mom and my little one collect elephants, so I really wanted the elephant for them.  The purple–my favorite color–is a bonus. 😉 Beyond the purple, I appreciate this piece because elephants are soooo hard. Okay, for me any drawing presents a bit of a challenge, but I remember drawing elephants for my little one when he was actually a little one.  He celebrated all my elephant art and even though his aesthetic sense has developed quite a bit, he still encourages more than laughs at my drawings and sketches.

Find more of Janice on her blog: Janice Darby Photography.

I swapped art tools with Lynn, who describes herself as an”environmentally conscious” artist: I sent her a pencil and she sent me lots of pencils.  Even trade, right?

by Lynn

“Soul Colors,” by Lynn R.

Lynn can be found at the Studio at Piney Creek Acres or, if you don’t want to make the trip to Pennsylvania, at Trash Bubbles and Life’s Little Bits.

And finally, this impressive magnolia was from a 2015 LYA side-swap, but it came long after the 2015 posts. I love the quote on the front of the card.

“Sweet Magnolia Blossom,” by Shelley Shockley

The heat of the sun awakens my spirit

just as it unfurls the petals of the

first magnolia bloom of spring.

If memory serves me well, Shelley and I both included magnolia photos among our 2015 selections. There are so many types and they’re all simply breathtaking, so it’s nice to include others’ magnolias in my collection.

Want more of Shelley? Check out her blog: Consider This: Visual and Verbal Views from Collinwood.

If you missed my two earlier LYA 2016 post, you can find them here: Tardy for the Party and My Photos into the World.

Ciao!

NaBloPoMo November 2016

Animals in Monochrome

Can you believe January is o-v-e-r?! Didn’t the year just begin yesterday?

Now that the pesky start of the semester out of the way, maybe, I can make time for other important things, like blog posts, poetry, and photography.

It’s been months since I shared one of my monochrome swaps.  The latest–completed earlier this month–was ‘animals in monochrome” in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.  Grstamping, my partner, sent an envelope full of black and white goodies that someone quickly claimed for his collection of animal photos. Seriously. I was left with the note about the photos. I was “allowed” to scan them, at least.

Grstamping has been focusing on photographing animals lately, so she had a lot to share.  She sent a number of aquatic animals– [Click an image for a closer look]

And birds–

And cute rodents–

Squirrel

“Black Squirrel” by Grstamping

Chipmunk

“Chipmunk” by Grstamping

I’m torn between the chipmunk and the octopus tentacles as my favorite.  It’s hard not to love “cute,” but the tentacles are interesting.

I shared photos of our sweet-natured donkey and horse, Esau and Barnabas.  They’re always game for a photo opportunity.

Esau in Black and White

“Say Heehaw, Esau”

Barnabas in Black and White

“Smile Pretty for the Camera”

“Animals” was actually the seventh swap in the monochrome series hosted in our little group.  I’ll get around to posting “Trees in Monochrome” and “Clouds in Monochrome” eventually.

If you want to see the earlier monochrome posts, click the links below:

Happy Last Day of January!

The Indigo Buntings of Academia

I stole a moment yesterday from all the “things to do” to “thin out” the stationery and planner pouches I carry to work with me. All the pretty things were spread out on the coffee table. Among them were at least seven letters to which I must respond soon. In that stack of letters was a gorgeous notecard from Omi, an adjunct English professor and one of my “Professors United” pals on swap-bot.

"Indigo Bunting" by Christy Lemp

“Indigo Bunting” by Christy Lemp

Lemp’s watercolor was one of the winners of the AAUW’s 2015 Art contest.  From the back of the card:

Christy Lemp always loved to draw and paint but only starred devoting more time to it after years of working other jobs and raising her family.  Spurred by the passage of a milestone birthday, Lemp quit her job and dove into her passion: watercolor painting.  After much hard work and persistence, Lemp’s dream of making artwork for people has come true. Indigo Bunting was inspired by a Mother’s Day visit of the beautiful bird to Lemp’s bird feeder.

I often think about adjunct professors like Omi who toil day in and day out with inadequate pay and benefits.  In this letter, Omi wrote about how the university that employs her changed the adjunct pay schedule from biweekly to monthly and were (or are) discussing eliminating adjuncts in her discipline altogether! I am sympathetic to the plight of adjuncts and disturbed by how some universities take advantage of them, but I know that many adjuncts appreciate having a paycheck and a job in academia, hoping that “a foot in the door” will lead to a full-time position.

According to the Chipper Woods Bird Observatory:

Indigo Buntings perform a valuable service as they consume grasshoppers, beetles, cankerworms, flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, weevils and aphids. Diet also consists of seeds of raspberries, grasses, thistle, goldenrod, dandelions and other weed seeds. It is well worth the effort to provide suitable brushy habitat and shrubby forest edges to assure a healthy population of these attractive little songsters.

I’m not in the habit of comparing people to animals, but it’s fitting that Omi wrote her letter on this card. It’s a reminder that adjuncts, too, provide an invaluable service to colleges and universities. They, often, perform in ways that other professors refuse, taking on the grunt work of service courses that leave them little time to pursue their own research and dreams.

Despite the challenges, Omi seems upbeat and optimistic. She’s writing, reading, crafting, sharing beauty, and loving her life–and her cats who “own [her] soul because she can’t resist their cute faces.”  =^..^=

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…