31 January 2011

Soup's On!

Bead Soup Blog Party goodies from partner Alison
I LOVE the detail and subtle sparkle on these!
I'm so excited -- I received a package of goodies from Bead Soup Blog Party partner Alison today and just love them! She included four beads from her line of handmade polymer clay beads, along with some perfect gemstone accents, brass and copper findings and spacers, and seed (literally, it looks like!) beads just like some I was contemplating on my last trip to Michaels. In her note she said she decided to send me "something that best describes [her]... earthy." These are most definitely earthy, and beautifully so; Alison also hopes these will help me think outside of my box, and she nailed that one, too. Her handmade large nut-shaped bead near the right side of this photo is just luscious and will make a wonderful focal for a "emerging spring" necklace I've been contemplating. I might use her beautifully patterned "Adobe" lentil and rounds in that piece or in a coordinating bracelet... I guess I'll just have to start playing and see how things come together. Huge thanks to Alison for such a cool, earthy collection! And now, since I'm about to be snowbound and am trying to shop away my spring fever, I need more of those yummy beads....

Oh, one more thing: I am stunned, humbled, and of course delighted by the number of comments people have left on my One World, One Heart 2011 post last night and today -- thank you all SO MUCH for visiting and for your kind words! I have to crunch on coursework this week (two big mid-term projects due soon) but look forward to visiting your blogs on my mini-breaks. Again, thank you!!!

30 January 2011

One World, One Heart 2011!

Self-portrait, Philadelphia, July 2010
Welcome to One World, One Heart 2011! I'm so happy to be participating in this year's event, which organizer Lisa says will be the fifth and final one, and I warmly welcome all of you who are so kindly visiting my blog! I discovered many wonderful blogs during last year's event and am inspired, amused, uplifted, and just all around happy to be part of Blogland or the Blogosphere or whatever we call it these days. I have been blogging since 2002 (yeah, I'm Old Skool), when I started a blog to post pictures of my baby boy for faraway family and friends. In 2007 I started this blog to connect with other people in the jewelry making community, and more recently I've also been blogging about my rediscovered passion for photography. One thing I've learned from blogging is that there are SO MANY creative, talented, interesting, and kind people out there, and connecting to you all through words and images helps me keep my creative spark alive.

These connections and events like OWOH are especially important to me because I live in a remote, rural area of western New Mexico and don't have the events and shopping and other amenities of civilization that most of you do. (I know all about these, having grown up around Philadelphia and later living in southern California for 7 years...) So, being blessed with wonderful real-life friends and family (my dad lives with me now, and my kids are with me alternate weeks since my ex and I share custody), I am also happy to live in the Internet Age so I can maintain old friendships, make new friends, go back to school (I hope to finish my Masters in marital/family therapy this December), and of course shop, given that the nearest real-life bead shop is 100 miles away!

Again, welcome -- and yes, I have some door prizes!! At the end of this event, on Feb. 17, I'll use a random-number generator to pick 3 winners from among those of you who leave a comment here; just make sure you either use your Google ID or leave an email address so I can contact you. This year's offerings, shown below and selected from my jewelry creations, definitely follow a winter theme and also, of course, a heart theme. Enjoy the event, visit lots of other OWOH participants' blogs, and I'll see you around Blogopolis!

29 January 2011

Beachcomber 1, Finished (Maybe)

Beachcomber Bracelet of Shell, Copper, Glass, Green Aventurine, and Pearls
Yeah, I needed (wanted) to add more to this bracelet, and (using what I have) wirewrapped some green aventurine chips that I've had for years, along with a few pearls and shell heishi. The aventurine matches the glass rondelles perfectly, and the rough shape and semi-matte texture is close enough to beach glass that I figured it would work just fine. The only other thing I might do is oxidize the copper, just a bit, so it's not super-dark but just looks weather-worn. I like this piece a lot... and I just had to photograph it outside, in the afternoon sun, to evoke the feeling of wandering along a beach on a sunny day and coming across treasures tucked among the rocks.... *Sigh.* I've found my happy place for the day. I hope you all do, too.

Works in Progress: Beachcomber Bracelets

For over a year now I've been plotting a getaway to the California coastline, starting in San Diego (where a long-lost, way-cool cousin now lives) and rambling up through Big Sur to the Bay Area (where a great friend from grad school lives). I could drive there in 12 to 14 hours, and I would be able to stay with family and friends most of the way out, up the coast, and back home, so why haven't I gone yet? First it was finances, then my mom's illness and passing away, then... well, I just haven't gotten to it yet. Maybe I feel like I don't "deserve" a vacation -- ever feel like that? I haven't finished school yet, and in fact have pushed back my graduation twice because of family stuff and not being able to find internship sites, and I think this makes me feel like I haven't "earned" a vacation. But I am dying for a break in the routine, for an escape, for connection with people I love and miss, for a day or two (or five or six) of walking along an endless beach and gazing out at an endlessly open, softly rocking horizon. So, perhaps to compromise between my strong desire to go to the continent's edge and my need to "justify" a vacation, I will consider taking such a vacation IF I manage to secure an internship site for next quarter, which starts in April. I have to make all the arrangements by the end of February, and this quarter ends in mid-March, which is about when our weather starts teasing us mercilessly with 60-degree sunshine following by howling cold winds diving down the Rockies from the still-frozen Arctic tundra...

Anyhoo. I made these bracelets last night, using up the shells I got from Michaels last week (I bought them for my "Cherry Blossoms" set... and, gee, now I need more for earrings! Looks like another trip to Michaels is in order) along with copper shell beads a friend got me from a bead show in 2009, glass rondelles that look like beach glass, patinated copper chain from the wonderful Shannon of MissFickleMedia, and hand-dyed silk/metallic ribbon from my fiber stash. I feel like these pieces could use more adornment, so, since I probably won't be beachcombing anytime soon, I'm ordering some beach-glass-like Czech glass drops and charms from Fusion Beads (they have a 10% off coupon, BTW, and shipping is always free).

28 January 2011

Macro Friday: Winter Vision

Sunflower Husk, January 2011
Winter may seem dull and the photographic opportunities few, but go way up close and things get much more interesting. Although I don't have a true macro lens, I do have a macro filter that I enjoy using and have neglected lately... well, let's be honest: I misplaced it. Lucky me, I found it in a cubby of a roll-top desk I'm trying to clear out so I can refinish it.... Cleaning is good for something, sometimes. So I decided to play along with Macro Friday (thanks to Susan for the link!) and spent a nice hour or so in my backyard, where it is a lovely 54 degrees (F), to study sunflower husks from last summer. What looks like "brown" at first glance turned into a beautifully warm palette of ochres and siennas and... well, whatever other words there are for brown. I had left the sunflowers to dry for the birds, as I always do, hoping they would get sustenance from them and would also drop some on the ground for a new crop this spring. I love how the photo below shows a few seeds left over; while processing the photo I noticed the spiral at the bottom of the seeds -- how cool is that??

One that the Birds Left, January 2011
It was nice to be in the sun for a bit; the kids and I have been sick this week and definitely needed a shot of sunshine. We're due for more sunshine, so I hope to get outside a bit more and also hope to make more jewelry, perhaps drawing on the colors and textures from today's photos. I hope you all enjoy your weekend, too!

Sunflower Husk 2, Jan. 2011

25 January 2011

Waiting for Springtime Blues

Blue Flax (May 2010) and Springtime Blues Bracelet (January 2011)
First, before I start rambling, I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog and left comments; you are all just wonderful. Anyone who thinks the Internet and social networking "isolate" us from real life hasn't (1) lived in a very rural, remote area, and (2) made the kind of lasting connections that I and many others have made online over the years. Remember pen pals? I had one when I was a kid, a childhood friend who moved away when I was 6, and with whom I stayed in touch for many years afterward. Now, thanks to Facebook and this blog, I'm in frequent contact with far-flung family and friends I don't get to see in person very often. Anyhoo, thank you again; I always feel honored when someone visits and takes the time to leave a comment, and I enjoy visiting your blogs and seeing what you've been up to lately, too.

So after a very brief interlude with muted winter colors, I seem to be pushing ahead into the colors and themes of springtime. I'm sure there's some wishful thinking there, but I can also feel myself emerging slowly from the mental fog that usually closes in on me after Thanksgiving and lasts through most of January. When I lived back east, it lasted from mid-October to mid-February, so New Mexico definitely is an improvement, and in any case I do try to just go with the flow of seasons, at least to the extent possible when I also have to keep up with my responsibilities. As much as I miss gardening in the winter, I probably wouldn't have the energy for it anyway, at least not till the sun was above the horizon for ten or more hours a day. Those of you who live in very northern areas, how do you function with six or fewer hours of daylight? Given that I'm about half Scottish, how is it that I practically fall apart with fewer than nine? Weird.

24 January 2011

The Creative Exchange: A January Garden

Kale Sprout, Jan. 2011
Here's my offering for a new meme I just joined in on, The Creative Exchange, hosted by Lisa and focused on "photography from the heart." I love these round-robin things because not only do they get me thinking creatively, they also get me blogging regularly. And I probably would not have taken this photo were it not for some prompting to think about what, at this moment, is my heart's desire, and is right in front of me. I look over from my desk and see the lettuce and chard sprouts soaking up the sun, and I feel happy that I can garden, if only a tiny bit, right here in the dead of winter. I'll need to transplant these soon, or eat at least some of them as microgreens, which sounds like a great idea now that I think about it. Thank you, Lisa, for being another source of creative inspiration, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to see what I've been up to today. As always, I hope you were able to get some creative time today, too.

Mosaic Monday: Treasures Found on a Winter Hike

I love Mosaic Mondays so much that I start thinking about themes and images days ahead of time, both because it spurs my creative imagination and because I want to be sure I have time to create just the right image mosaic. I wouldn't mind a set theme, as we have for The Sunday Creative, but I also enjoy coming up with my own because it helps me think about my images in a new way and even plan for them ahead of time as I plan hikes and photo shoots. This week's theme came to me earlier this week when I went for a short hike in the mountains just south of town and forced myself to look for interesting things instead of bemoaning the lack of flowers and leaves and other "pretty" things. A pale seed head, lichens low on a rock, a fossil (yes, a seashell fossil, in the middle of New Mexico at 8000 feet above sea level!), and a disintegrating cholla skeleton are all beautiful, even if not "pretty," and the world around me is much more interesting for having noticed them. I can't wait to see others' mosaics -- try it out and see what you come up with!

23 January 2011

The Sunday Creative: Solace

Gravesite, Old Pine Street Church, Philadelphia, July 2010
This week's Sunday Creative prompt is "solace," and as always it is inspiring many different interpretations among those of us participating. For me it evoked the relatively recent memories of being at my mom's bedside as she passed away last summer, then staying there in Philadelphia for two weeks to help my dad sort through things before he moved out here to live with me and the kids. I took this photo of an 18th-century gravesite with lilies during one of my many therapeutic, soul-settling walks around my old hometown during those two weeks. I have been using this image today as inspiration for a jewelry set that uses labradorite, oxidized sterling silver, peridot, and cat's eye glass that exactly matches the lily in this photo. I like using my photos as inspiration for jewelry; that's not my explicit intention when I take them, but it seems logical that whatever captures my eye through the lens is more likely to capture the eye when interpreted into another creative form. One thing that did occur to me when naming the photo is that naming jewelry is a rather different process: a piece entitled "gravesite" likely won't spur curiosity or a purchase, so I'm thinking "Remembrance" or something a bit less somber than "gravesite"....

The Sunday Creative: Extension

Self-Portrait in a Mosaicist's Workshop, Philadelphia, August 2010
I'm a week late with this post; I couldn't decided what to do with last week's Sunday Creative prompt, "Extension," until I was browsing through photos for this week's prompt (which I'll post on shortly) and came across this one, shot last summer during a family visit in Philadelphia. My camera is most definitely an extension of myself, to the point that I "see" in photos even when I'm not using my camera. I feel like the ability to take photographs gives me the ability to see, express, and share a particular vision of the world around me that I would not otherwise be able to communicate. Last summer I was finally able to get myself an entry-level digital SLR that gives me much more creative control than my point-and-shoot camera, particularly over focus and depth of field, and I've been able to rediscover photography and reconnect with my creative vision in a very fulfilling way. So this is me with my favorite tool, one that allows me to extend my creative self into the world.

22 January 2011

Spring Fever Redux

Cherry Blossom Festival, Necklace in Shell, Glass, Sari Silk, and Oxidized Copper, Jan. 2011

Cherry Blossom Festival Bracelet
 I spent some time contemplating the necklace I made the other day and decided the copper needed to be oxidized after all, both for a more uniform look and because the darker copper contrasts better with the pink and white. First I bathed the copper in a solution of vinegar and baking soda (1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon, respectively), then soaked it for a minute in hot water, having just read that heating the copper helps it oxidize more quickly and uniformly. I then dipped it in a liver of sulfur solution for a few moments, till it was a dark greyish brown, then rinsed it thoroughly. After it was dry I rubbed all the copper components with a polishing cloth, being sure to hit the highlights a bit harder to bring out more texture. I love how it came out, especially the toggle, which I made myself (I probably mentioned that already because I am SO proud that I can make at least a few of my own components). And I added silk and flowers to the focal, just to fill it in a bit. I also oxidized some copper wire and components for a bracelet, which came out nicely; I should probably also do earrings, because of course everyone likes a set. I shot these on a silk shirt that a friend gave me, which I haven't worn yet (it's part of a summer suit, and it is hardly summer, nor am I needing to wear anything suit-like yet), and although I'm reminded yet again why I stopped shooting jewelry on fabric (the details become distracting and difficult during post-processing), I like the color contrast. More jewelry tomorrow; making this set made me want more flowers in my life, and since I can't grow them for a few more months, I seem intent on putting them in my jewelry...

21 January 2011

Image Processing Experiments: Topaz Labs Detail 2

Orchid, Original and Five Topaz Labs Detail 2 Filters

Like many people who do digital photography, whether as an art form in itself or to present their creations, I have learned to use image processing software to create more accurate, compelling images. Photoshop has long been my software of choice, first by necessity because it's what I used in my print and online publishing jobs, then by convenience because it's what I had on my computer. Photoshop does a good job of lightening underexposed images, enhancing the colors, and sharpening up details to some extent, but I always found it lacking for that final "oomph," particularly with detailed images. Then a friend introduced me to Topaz Labs' Detail plug-in, which provides not only technical but also creative control far beyond what I've found to be possible in Photoshop. I hesitated to pay $40 for "just" a filter, but it has turned out to be money very well spent. And no, this is not a paid endorsement; I am actually *that* excited to blog about this all on my own so I can share what I've learned with other photo-bloggers.

The photo above shows an image I Photoshopped last year, then five Detail pre-set filters I applied this morning. This plug-in, which loads into Photoshop's "Filters" menu, offers more than 2 dozen pre-sets that give you various effects ranging from super-sharp to soft and neon to black-and-white; the best part of the software is that it also provides slider controls for each and every aspect of control. These include (separately) small, medium, and large details, tone, saturation, hue, and several other image factors that allow you to customize the effects and even create your own pre-sets. I created several pre-set options for jewelry photos using variations on the "Micro Contrast Enhancement" and "Interior Strong Detail" pre-sets, which allow me to do my usual pre-processing in Photoshop and then quickly apply the Topaz Detail filter as a final step. If you have a professional-level DSLR with a top-notch lens you may not need to do so much post-processing; in any case, though, it does give you an extra level of control, and also some creative options, that allow you to make your images closer to what you see with your eyes, and/or in your mind. I also sometimes use Topaz's DeNoise (primarily for landscapes; my entry-level DSLR kind of sucks at landscapes, particularly in low light) and HDRSoft's Photomatix (which is more general purpose and does not offer me enough control for detail), but for my jewelry and macro photos, Topaz's Detail plug-in gives me the best options for both rote post-processing and for playing when I have time. It's available for Windows and Mac, and is compatible with Photoshop CS3-CS5, Elements 6-9, Lightroom 2 and 3, PaintShop Pro, and Apple Aperture 2 and 3. Again, this isn't a paid endorsement; for $40 this is just awesome software.

As much as I love Photoshop and Topaz Detail, I'm always open to suggestions, so tell me: what do you use for post-processing?

19 January 2011

Spring Fever!

Cherry Blossoms, Necklace in Shell, Glass, and Copper, Jan. 2011

Looking through my photographs two evenings ago I came across and just drooled over one of my favorites, a shot of blossoms on the tiny old apricot tree outside my bedroom window. I wish I could say I took this photo yesterday because that would mean it's spring (with our warm weather these past few days it sure feels like it), but I actually took it in March 2009. The image clearly stuck in my mind because when I went to Michael's yesterday (ABQ trip! Yay!) I was drawn to the shell focal above and then picked out coordinating beads and components, all of which are way outside my usual style. I don't dislike pink, but I don't use it very often in my jewelry because I tend towards cooler, earthier colors. Maybe participating in the Bead Soup Party is piqueing my creativity and curiosity; in any case, this necklace practically laid itself out as I played last night (instead of doing coursework; after almost 2.5 years of that I am TIRED). I was amazed to find a length of sari silk in my bundle that matched perfectly, and I love how the copper works with the pink. I am thinking of antiquing the copper to darken it a bit and match the chain (top); that would also bring out the detail in the toggle bar I made -- I love hammering copper and want to make more of these toggles! I'm not sure the necklace is finished yet; in addition to antiquing the copper I might add more of the little glass flowers, and maybe more sari silk. What do you think?

17 January 2011

Mosaic Monday: Red Sky at Night, Artist's Delight

I love Mosaic Mondays; the idea of making a photo mosaic spurs my creativity and also allows me to review my past creations and affirm that time spent creating is time well spent. This mosaic spans six years of creativity, from the art quilt I made back in 2005 (traded to a good friend for some of her wonderful pottery) to the mosaic I made in 2009 to the photo and fiber/glass necklace I created last year. I like to combine images based on both color and theme, and "sunset" can span everything from soft pastels to the deep jewel tones presented here. I was thinking earlier that I would not have time to create anything in the next few days because of coursework and travel (Lucy goes to the vet in ABQ tomorrow for a 2-week post-surgery checkup), but lo and behold, I already have. Be sure to check out other wonderful photo mosaics linked up here, and try making your own -- it's really easy, and whatever theme you pick you're sure to come up with something beautiful!

16 January 2011

Color Breakout

Poinsettia in Afternoon Light, Jan. 2011
Maybe it's cabin fever, or a few days of warmer weather (tomorrow might approach 60F!), but suddenly I want COLOR. I took this poinsettia photo yesterday afternoon, and last night's bracelet play turned out the two pieces pictured here plus two super-springy starts that I hope to finish this evening. These two use sari silk and some brass filligree elements and classic millefiore beads from a necklace I remember my mom wearing back in the 1970s. I love the combination of primary colors with the antiqued brass, don't you? So, yes, I can appreciate the subtle tones of winter for a while, but it's just not who I am or what I love. I'll probably bounce between subtlety and saturation for another month or two until the first hints of spring push me into a new creative space. As long as I'm creating, I'm happy.

15 January 2011

Subtle Hues of Winter

Winter Song, Bracelet in Natural Coral, Onyx, Smoky Quartz, Bone, and Brass
Here are some more bracelets, a genre I neglected (along with my jewelry in general) last year but am loving now because it allows me to try new ideas and techniques and offer new jewelry at affordable prices. These bracelets both use brass -- a metal I've been growing fond of lately, especially as silver prices surge -- and wonderful natural coral rounds with a warm, earthy texture and color that actually work better with brass than silver. They both are in uncharacteristically (for me) muted colors and were inspired by a photo I took earlier this month -- a creative crossover I should continue to foster. 

The bracelet above has a hand-carved onyx raven focal bead and the last of my faceted onyx "pillows"; it closes with a button clasp based on a hand-carved bone button from my sewing stash. The bracelet below is all ocean: the coral rounds, dyed pearls, and two exquisite faceted ocean jasper teardrops "wrapped" in what could well be seen as seaweed. These and several more (which I'll probably show tomorrow) should be up in my Etsy shop by tomorrow. If any good movies are on tonight I'm hoping to finish some new, more springlike offerings that mix sari silk (my favorite new medium now that I've figured out how to use it in jewelry) and glass. Maybe I can get some inspiration from some of the many flower photos I took last spring. If you find inspiration from any of these, I'd love to see what you come up with!

Winter Shores, Bracelet in Natural Coral, Pearls, Ocean Jasper, and Brass

14 January 2011

Copper Tones

Turquoise, Copper, and Sari Silk Bracelet, Jan. 2011
This bracelet started with a scrap of sari silk wired between a blue-green patina turquoise ring and a red patina one. Following my pledge to use what I have, I raided my stash for the turquoise, red dyed pearls, sunset-orange Hessonite garnet, copper heart charms and leafy bead caps, antiqued copper chain from a long-unsold necklace, and two fantastic patina copper beads and a few chain links from Etsy seller MissFickleMedia. I was tempted to get one of her patina clasps (along with about 27 other things) but, sticking to my pledge, decided to wire up the rest of the bracelet and make the toggle bar with plain copper wire from, of all places to find cool jewelry stuff, the garage. I'm hibernating and making more bracelets today and am also pulling together a package of treasures for my beading partner (as yet unannounced) in the Bead Soup Blog Party -- I am SO excited to get started on that! It's a perfect diversion for winter, and visiting the participants' blogs (which I'll start doing tonight or tomorrow) is incredibly inspirational! So, happy beading, everyone, or whatever it is you do to express your creative spirit.

12 January 2011

Shifting Perspective

Getting a Better View: Raven on Yucca; Altered Photograph, May 2010/Jan. 2011, Socorro, New Mexico

I've been playing with this image for a good part of the day, trying to reclaim a so-so photograph (good composition but not-so-good light or crispness) and finally, FINALLY breaking out of my strict adherence to "reality." I love many different kinds of art, including less-than-realistic forms (though I'm not a big fan of abstract forms). But I am not adept at very many of them; in fact, some time ago I joked to a friend that I take photos because I can't paint or draw worth a damn. Photos are "supposed" to be realistic, so when I process my photos I stay very close to the original details and almost never play with brush strokes, textures, and other more artistic manipulations that Photoshop and other programs offer. Today, though, I just wanted to play. When I took this photo last May, this raven was playing, too, hopping from one yucca stalk to another and chattering at another raven (a potential mate? a competitor?). My original photo was not very well focused, so I didn't manage to capture the creature's personality very well -- it really only emerged as I ventured further and further from "reality" in manipulating the image. I hope you like it.

11 January 2011

California Dreaming

Tangerines at Sunset, Jan. 2011
A friend came back from visiting family in California and brought me a big box of fruit, including over a dozen delectable tangerines from her grandma's backyard tree. Each bite really does taste like sunshine, especially on a cold winter day. January is never a fun month in colder climes, and each year I understand a bit more why people move to places like Florida and southern Arizona when they retire. If I could live anywhere I wanted, where would I live? I'm not sure yet, but wouldn't it be fun to go on walkabout and try a few places on for size? Some place with warm winters seems like a good bet, and I would love to have fruit trees in my backyard, especially avocado and fig and tangerine -- oh, and a pomegranate shrub, too. I lived in southern California for 7 years, and things were just starting to get good when the now-ex decided it was time to go. I do love New Mexico and am happy to be here... except in January. Thank goodness for good friends bearing the bounty of a sun-favored land.

10 January 2011

New Starts

Lettuce Seedlings, Jan. 2011
For several months now I've been trying to motivate myself to make some cold frames for a small area just outside the dining room/studio that gets full southern exposure. Last week I decided that, since it's too cold to hang out in the garage using the table saw, I'd make a small start with some Jiffy mini-greenhouses (black plastic trays with clear plastic raised lids) so I could get some greens going. A week later, the mesclun (mixed lettuces and other greens) is going strong, the chard is just sprouting, and the spinach is... coming soon, I hope? Just having new life is so gratifying, and with the trays on this side of the window I can keep close tabs on everything.

"I do not like the Cone of Shame." (from Up)
In other news, Lucydog is recovering well from surgery. We have a hard time keeping her quiet and still because she's such an energetic, playful dog, and she has had to wear the "Cone of Shame" to keep her from aggravating the incision, but overall she seems to be on the mend and should be back to normal in 2 to 3 months. Fingers crossed; I don't enjoy hiking nearly as much when she's not with me and so haven't gone lately, and my midsection is starting to show that.... A few people have suggested getting another dog, but it's hard to find one so loyal, so friendly yet protective, who is happy to ramble and roam yet always stays within earshot and knows exactly where her people are. One friend noted that hunting dogs make terrible hiking buddies because they're bred to catch a scent and run with it, and it's the owner's responsibility to keep up; herding dogs, on the other hand, stay close to their charges and always know where home is. Being part blue heeler, a breed used to guard and herd cattle around here, along with pit bull (also a loyal breed) and who knows what else, Lucy is definitely in the "herder" category. In any case, I don't want to have to pick and train another Bestest Hiking Buddy anytime soon.

Mosaic Monday: A Season of Rest

When I remember, I'll post a photo mosaic on Mondays as part of the Mosaic Mondays project hosted over at Little Red House. See more of this week's photo mosaics here. Lots of inspiration for photographers, and anyone else who wants to spark that creative fire.

09 January 2011

More Winter Beauty

Morning Glory Seed Pod and Temple Bell, Jan. 2011
My main objection to winter is that I can't get enough time outdoors, which is where I really thrive. Yesterday's short, sweet snowfall pulled me out for a few photos, but I can't bear the cold so I was back inside within 10 minutes. If the sun is shining (which, thankfully, it usually is in New Mexico), I can be outside for a while even if it's only 35 or 40, as long as I'm moving around. And as the sun ascends again, it grows slowly stronger so that by February I'm feeling almost springy... almost. In the meantime, as promised, I'm seeking out the beauty of winter. It's there -- not as showy or obvious or easy to see as the flowers of spring and summer and the firey leaves of autumn, but more subtle, more about textures and tones, and about promise.

08 January 2011


Old Daisy in New Snow, Jan. 2011
It snowed today for about half an hour, which gave me just enough time to bundle up, grab my camera, and head out back with Maggie and Lucy. While they played I contemplated my flowers, long gone but still occasionally colorful. Spring is a long time away, and in January it's hard for me to imagine feeling warm and carefree again. I have, however, planted 3 trays of greens in my sunny dining room/studio/office window, and the lettuce is already sprouting. In another month or so I hope to make some coldframes so I can set those greens outside and start another crop. Always planning, always hoping...

02 January 2011

Inside on a Wintry Day

Paperwhites in Winter
We're on our second day without water; it never got above 20 here yesterday so the pipes didn't unfreeze from Friday night's sub-zero blast. Today's forecast calls for a sunny 35, and I can only hope it's enough given that last night went to -5 and tonight will probably still be around zero. If the pipes don't unfreeze by 4 p.m. or so, though, we're dry for another night and most of tomorrow. My attitude is definitely slipping; inconvenience aside, this seems an ill omen for a new year. Logically this is just one day (well, two now) and we all know how life can turn on a dime... so I'll try to stay positive and not judge the whole year ahead by these first days' inconvenience. We're not the only ones dealing with this; most of my friends here have been waiting for their pipes to unfreeze, too, and I know this because we've all been calling around to ask for showers! I guess it's a lesson in patience, persistence, and reaching out to friends. That's a takeaway I can live with, for sure.

01 January 2011

New Year's Resolution: Live in the Moment

I awoke on this new day of the new year to bright sunshine... and frozen pipes, which happens when the temperature outside falls below zero for more than a few hours. Having gone through this for a few winters now, I have several gallons of water stashed in the pantry so we can brush our teeth, make coffee, and so forth, and I'm hopeful that the sun will shine brightly enough to melt the pipes by mid-afternoon. If not, well, we'll cope; there's no point in being frustrated. So my takeaway from this (aside from remembering to leave a faucet on overnight if it's forecast to be that cold, which I did last night but obviously not with enough flow) is to take things as they come, be prepared, and live in the moment. Happy New Year, everyone; may you have many moments of creativity, joy, and serenity.