Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What the...DUCK? It's Christmas Decor!

Very near my home there is a small neighborhood. Each year, one of the houses in this neighborhood would decorate for Christmas. Now, they didn't put up the usual decorations, not really no, instead they took white (and by "white" I mean "white only" here, not twinkly, not mixed colors, just simple white) lights and strung them around the bottom of the trees in their front yard. Now, since the neighborhood in question is a bit older (the homes are older) this means that there were a host of tree trunks wrapped in white lights. Driving by, I used to call this area of the neighborhood the "forest of light" on account of all of the white lights and trees wrapped in them around the holiday season.

Fast forward a few years. Somebody across the street moved and new people moved in. They saw the "forest of light" (or whatever they might happen to call it) and decided, heck, why don't we do that too? So, starting a few years ago, they too put up white lights around the bottom of the trees. Yes, it's true. The "forest of light" had grown, actually doubled in size. (As a photographer, all I can say about that is "Woo Hoo!" I mean, more light is good light, right? And entire "forests" of light?!? Oh joy! Sign me up!) By now, you can probably see where this is going. The "forest of light" has crept around the block. People after people, house after house, have started putting up holiday lights. Now, not all of them are white or "forest of light" like, and that's ok. I mean, what better time then to display some creativity than at the holidays with decorations, right?

So, for a while there, I was happy. We had the "blue palace" (all done up in blue lights) and the "blinky bungalow." We had an expanded "forest of light" and, heck, we even had "the guy who couldn't really climb up a ladder but still managed to get half-way up the garage door good on you for trying" corner lot. I must confess, even the "badly decorated" houses started to look...well...pretty decent, on account of the entire neighborhood, the whole little enclave, stringing up something for the holidays. The little neighborhood with its older homes really had some holiday spirit in there and it made me happy.

Then, this year, as I was driving through sometime about mid-November I spotted it. As I turned the corner, expecting to be on the approach for the "forest of light" there it was. Words failed me. This was the strangest decor I had seen all year. Heck, I'll come out and say it. It just made no sense at all. Now, part of me wants to give the guy props for trying. Right? I mean, all things considered, he probably did do better than the guy who can't climb the ladder. But...this? This was....just too odd for words. You see, as I turned the corner and started driving down the street, I happened upon what could only be described as a giant "Christmas duck."

This makes no sense to me. I mean, for starters, what on earth do ducks have to do with Christmas? And then, even if you were to say, really really like ducks, why on earth would you want a two story giant Santa hat wearing Christmas duck on your front lawn? I mean, what's wrong with say a snowflake or a giant Santa? It just boggles my mind. I'm sorry but I just can't wrap my head around this giant Christmas duck. And yet, there it was. Plain as the nose on my face. A giant Christmas duck, propped up on the front lawn, proudly displayed, for all in the little neighborhood of older homes to see.

I decided, right then and there, that I had to do something with this duck. I had to snap a picture because, well, where *else* are you going to come across a giant Christmas duck? If I was surprised to find one, I'm fairly certain, there aren't flocks of them running about this holiday season, so there must not be more than one, right? And, I still don't know what to think about this. I mean, on the one hand, you have to give the guy props for trying. He did, in fact, get up the Christmas decor. It's there for all the world to see. On the other hand though...man...a Christmas duck? What the heck were you thinking, buddy?!?!

So, I not only decided to take a photo of this wondrous creature, but I used my iPhone and made it look like it was all snowing and stuff. I figured I had to do that, because, well, if you happened to have a Christmas duck (and, heck, let's face it, why would you? But, work with me here) you'd probably want said Christmas duck to be all covered in snow, right? I mean, 'tis the season and all. ('Tis the freaking season and all indeed.)

So, now here you have it too. The giant Christmas duck for all to see and enjoy.

As I was driving home the other night, it was starting to get dark and I thought, "Oh no, I'm going to miss seeing the big Christmas duck after the sun sets." But, to my surprise, the giant Christmas duck is not only a giant Christmas duck. No. It's actually a two story, giant, yellow, Santa hat wearing *lighted* Christmas duck. Yes, it's true. Said ducky lights up at night so you can see him. I mean, not that you really *want* to see a giant Christmas duck and all but, heck, if you did, we'd have one here, tucked away in this little neighborhood of older homes, waiting for you to drive by and spot it. Why look! There it is! The giant two-story lighted Christmas duck for all to see and enjoy. Bring the kids!

Wow! Who knew? A giant lit up Christmas duck. All brought to you by the wonders of the iPhone.

I hope y'all have a very Merry Christmas and, it goes without saying really, but...watch out for the giant ducks!

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top 10 List - Santorini

Town of Firostefani, Santorini, Greece at night with blue domed church
Ok, so I've been back for a while now. Gotten the laundry done, sorted out the oddball pile of mail and whatnot. I figured why not time for my top 10 list, right? So here goes.

Here are the top 10 things I've learned about Santorini, Greece:

10. Santorini is very cosmopolitan. They have many restaurants there including, yes, a Mexican restaurant called "Senor Zorba's." The restaurant was not too far from out hotel and featured a Mexican tile roof with sombrero's hanging around the doorways. The sign for the restaurant also said, "All You Can Eat BBQ." 

9. The Aegean Sea really is that color. I've always heard about "Aegean Blue" and not quite known what to make of it. After having visited, I must confess, it's really a lovely shade of greenish blue.

8. The Cats of Santorini are somewhat famous. There are many loose cats on the island, known as the cats of Santorini, and they are quite popular with the locals. You can photograph them and also buy T-shirts featuring the cats of Santorini. Not as popular as the donkeys but still, you know, quite popular (and probably a lot less smelly too.)

7. The town of Imerovigli is impossible for us to pronounce. I was told, "Just say 'Ima' and mumble and the locals will know what you mean." Of course, this lead to me trying to "get away with" as much as I could after the "Ima" finally settling on asking all of the locals, "Excuse me, do you know the way to Imogen Cunningham?" Most of the time I actually got directions while paying tribute to a great photographer.

6. Cave dwellers share music. Most of Santorini is build around a caldera. It's actually a bunch of small towns dotting the hillsides surrounding the island that's home to the volcano. Because of the slope of the hillside and the nature and number of cave houses, any loud sounds bell their way all the way up the caldera. If you are a "third floor" cave dweller, for example, you might find yourself listening to music from all the way down at the bottom. This works out well (free radio!) until somebody plays something you just don't like. (Ahem, we could have done without the gangsta rap, thank you very much.)

5. Santorini is not just home to resorts. There are several medieval cities there with walls and colored doors. This makes for a photographer's playground, really it does. I started to think that "medieval city" was Greek for "cool photo shoot" after a while. The ancient city I visited was also very interesting to photograph, even if a bit older.

4. Everyone in Santorini, well at least most of the locals anyway, appears to eat Greek yogurt and boiled eggs for breakfast. The yogurt was one of the highlights of the trip for me. I normally don't care for yogurt but decided to take a taste while I was there, since it's local and all. Good move there, let me tell you. It's fabulous! I don't know what the stuff we have that we like to call "Greek Yogurt" actually is, but it doesn't even pass for anything resembling authentic Greek yogurt and Greek yogurt is really very delicious. If you ever find yourself in Greece, honestly, it's a must try. (The boiled eggs? Well, they pretty much taste the same anywhere.)

3. Although surrounded by water, most of the drinking water in Santorini is brought in. Yes, it's true. Even though the local water is potable, it's not too appetizing (was described to me as kind of "sandy") so they boat water in from the mainland. The plumbing in Santorini is not too great either (thanks to tons of old homes on the hillsides) so buyer beware in that regard.

2. The wine in Santorini is wonderful. They grow grapes for wine-making differently there. They actually dig a hole in the ground and wind the vine around itself to make a loop (or circle really.) The grapes then grow down into the hole. Sounds a bit weird but the wine, like most of the southern Mediterranean regions, is wonderful.

And the number one thing I've learned about Santorini on my recent trip was....drum roll, please....

1. The Santorini Donkeys! Santorini originally had donkeys to help people travel from the port, up the hillsides, to the hotels and resorts on the cliffs. They still have donkeys. The people in Santorini love their donkeys. The Santorini Donkey has become a sort of symbol of the island. They love the donkey and have donkey puppets, donkey toys, donkey T-shirts. You get the idea. Long live the Santorini donkeys!

A couple of runner-up choices were:
  • Santorini is also called Thira. It was originally settled by the Romans, with people coming from Venice, which is why it has a Latin style name, even though it's now part of Greece. 
  • Cherry tomatoes and white eggplants are native to the island and quite delicious, in fact, they once tried to open a cherry tomato bottling facility, which is now abandoned but can still be found on the island. 
  • If you spot the word "caldera" in any of the travel brochures, this usually means you will be getting a good view, as it's typically a view of the water or the volcano area in the middle of Santorini (the volcano is actually on a separate island, which I traveled to-you can go there are hike around if you are so-inclined.) 
  • There is also great coffee and wonderful wine in Santorini, much like the rest of southern Europe, and it's quite reasonably priced, although there aren't as many "Starbucks" type places. You can usually find coffee in the restaurants, which they like to call "tavernas" or taverns for us English speaking types. 
  • The food was also wonderful there-we had tomato patty wars going on-stopping at each restaurant to try out the tomato patties to find the best ones. (Our favorites were from Remvi, a restaurant near Fira, but really they were quite good anywhere we tried them.) 

Until next time...

Monday, December 08, 2014

R-I-P Austin

Some sad news to report....my folks have lost their faithful companion, Austin. This actually happened a while ago (back around Halloween, to be precise) but I've been too busy to stop and post anything about it here. Poor Austin had an immune disease and died rather suddenly. He was sick one day and then they pretty much had to put him down the next. He was 12 years old. We all miss him dearly, especially my guy, Chase, who, I'm sure, just can't imagine what has happened to his little buddy. Chase and Austin were, you see, the best of friends. Chase has been a bit lost and confused by Austin just appeared to go "missing" and we try to not use the word "Austin" when he's in earshot, just to keep him from getting excited only to be let down again. It's kind of hard too, when the next closest city is, in fact, named Austin as well. Poor baby Chase and, of course, poor little Austin, may he rest in peace.

Dogs are such wonderful creatures and such divine friends. The greatest of little buddies. It's so sad to see them go. My folks are doing ok, although I can tell they really miss having a dog around the house. They have been taking Chase a lot lately, just so their house is not so empty.

R-I-P little buddy, Austin, you are missed by all.

Until next time...


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mobile Moodswings

I'm in a mobile sort of a mood today, so I thought I would post something from the latest round of Snapseed workings. This is the Aegean Sea in all its glory, a la Snapseed from the iPhone.

It's been a nice, long weekend, though I've been busy, it hasn't felt like I've gotten all that much done. Still, it was nice spending some time with the folks. Mom is very lonely, since she recently lost her dog, Austin. (R-I-P Austin.) He was such a cute little guy, now we all miss him. She got to spend some quality time with Chase and he loved that, I'm sure, so all is well again.

Been trying to keep off line for a bit now. Not posting too much but still staying active. It's hard to do photography and not do a lot of it online but lately it seems like, between the TV set and the Facebook pages, I'm spending way too much time wasting away and not enough time getting stuff done. I'll have to fix that.

In the meantime, this is my Aegean Sea shot a la Snapseed.

Until next time...


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just Exploding with Stuff

While yesterday found me in the horrors of the car shop, today I've got new tires. Yes, it's true. After suffering through several hours of what can best be described as "tire change foof" I'm now the proud new owner of four new tires and a properly aligned car to go with them.

It was quite an ordeal to get the new tires put on, let me tell you. I landed in the shop early morning, hoping to get a head start on the day and maybe not waste all of it there. They were very nice in the tire place, I mean, at least as nice as tire place people can be. The guy helped me pick out new tires and told me he hoped it wouldn't take very long. They had some kind of sale going on so I'm to get a mail-in rebate of sorts (we shall see if that actually manifests itself or not. I'm guessing probably not here but, eh, that's ok.)

The waiting room at the tire place is not nearly as nice as the one at my car dealer. (My car dealer, it would appear, has been spoiling me all this time.) They did have some coffee that looked to be a few days old (read: sludge) and they had a flat screen TV of sorts, but it was about 30 degrees in Austin and the place was not too well insulated (think cold here.) I never took my coat off. Every time somebody came in or out (and they seem to do that a lot at tire places) I would get this cold breeze. Brrrr. Not to mention they have those loud guns that kind of go "Zzzztttt" as they screw on the tires. So, there I sat, for a few hours, stuck fiddling with the iPhone and watching odd morning style TV. (That was an experience, let me tell you.)

For starters, they had this show on called something like "Good Day Austin!" (or some such thing.) The nice lady came on and started talking about something called ice wine and Thanksgiving pies from Round Top Pies. Now, I've been to Round Top before (it's actually not too far from my house) and I know what the pies are like (they are yummie. Actually more like yummie yummie yummie kind of yummie) so it's a good thing I had predisposed knowledge of said pies. All I heard from the TV was an endless stream of, "Yes, and this year they even have a pie made of...." ZZZZZttttt (goes the tire gun) "....and a special pie just for Thanksgiving called the...." Zzzzzzttttt. Oh joy! That was a fun experience, let me tell you. It did leave me rather curious about this "ice wine" business-that's something I'll have to check out at a later date (note to self: drink some ice wine and figure out what the heck it really is. Zzzzttt be damned.)

After this "Good Morning Austin" (or whatever) the next show that came on was "The Price is Right." I hardly know what to say about this. It's like a joke that's its own punchline, that, really it is. For starters, I didn't even know this show was still on. It's a new, modern version of the old favorite, I'd guess. It was really quite difficult to watch with the tire gun going off again and again and the breeze blowing in and odd times. You might just have to use your imagination here but it went something along the lines of this:

"Ok, Wendy, now for $200 tell us what you think the price of this mustard is..." Door slams open. "Woosh" of cold air is almost as loud as small/cheap flat screen TV set.

As Wendy gets cheered on by the crowd, "I'm going with $2.39!"

"Ohhhh! Let's see if the price really is $2.39....shall we reveal the price of the mustard.....drum roll please....the actual price of the mustard is....." Zzzzztttttttt. [Back door opens while Carol freezes.] Ah, that was a fun experience indeed. You might think that, after all of this, I'd be about as angry as a wet hen. Normally, too, why you'd be right about that, but not this time. No, you see, this time I actually got new tires for my car. Four of them. Yes, it's true, I got four new tires.

You see, I had forgotten how good it feels to have new tires. When I got back into the car, I felt like I was sitting on a phone book. And the car? Why the car actually stopped when I wanted it to stop and drove when I wanted it to drove. It was no more hoping it would stop. No more, "please, oh please, let me get to the next corner without taking a mailbox along with me." Nope, it was none of that. I feel like I got an entirely new car. It was amazing.

My car, you see, had gotten so bad, it was hardly stopping at all. I guess it's one of those things-kind of like boiling a frog-it got worse and worse and worse, little by little and I hardly noticed it. It was a slow decay that eventually reached a breaking point, only I didn't see it because I was right in the middle of it fussing with the radio too much. My car wouldn't stop very well. It had gotten so bad that I was almost afraid to take in passengers. I would tell them silly things like, "Oh, I think the brakes are going or something. This is an old clunker. When it comes time to stop...help me out here...I'm going to need you to sort of...well....think stationary thoughts. Imagine if you will a brick. Don't just imagine it. Become one with the brick. Picture the brick. Picture it not moving through time and space. Yeah, let's hope the car does that at the next stoplight, mkay?" This was not pretty.

Then, one day it rained. Oh that was a joy, let me tell you. I tried to go slow, but it wasn't slow enough. Approaching a turn coming off one of the highways near my house I wound up doing a Tanner Foust and almost ended up right on the sidewalk. Seriously. I drove sideways and drifted through a turn, and it wasn't even raining that hard. I clung to the death wheel thinking I had just lost my mind or something (never suspecting I needed new tires.)

But now? All of this is over. No more bricks. No more Tanner Foust. My car rides like new. It's like I'm sitting on a phone book in there. It's so comfy. It stops! It goes! When the red light is red it actually stops at something approximating a normal distance. I can hardly believe this. It feels so good. It's like I'm happy again. I feel like I have a new buggy. Zoom Zoom!

There's a passage in Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine written about a boy getting new sneakers for the summer. Bradbury writes about how high the boy can jump, how fast he can run. I'm always reminded of that when I get new tires (or new shoes.) It feels....well...just good. So now I'm happy again. All new tired up. My week has, in fact, turned around. I somehow managed to pull the boiling frog out of the water and I can now enjoy life (well, at least driving) once again. Ah! They tell me the cold weather is even going to taper off this week. I still don't know the actual price of the mustard but, hey, I take my good stuff when I can get it. There is happiness once again in the kingdom that is little Carol's world. Rejoice!

Until next time...

PS This shot is one of my "exploding buildings" from Santorini. Fun stuff that...playing with the zoom. All that and everything's blue!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two Blue Domes and a Flat Tire to Spare

Blue domed churches in Santorini Greece near the town of Fira - architecture
Earlier today, I was sitting watching a movie with the folks when there was a knock upon our door. Turns out it was a neighbor being neighborly enough to drop in and tell me that my car tire was going flat. After a more careful inspection, I noticed that  the tire did indeed look a bit low so I had to call the auto club and now I've got one of those little "doughnut" spare tires on the buggy. Oh, you know, you just know how much I *love* those little "doughnut" tires (in case it's not obvious, I'm being sarcastic here. Man, I really *hate* those stupid little "doughnut" tires and, Lord, please help me get to the tire place tomorrow morning without incident.) So now I've got the stupid "doughnut" to contend with. Blecky poo! That's all I have to say about that. Well, that and at least the movie was pretty decent.

It's cold, it's almost raining here in River City, and there's just no light to be found today. On top of that, the weatherman promised, man, he totally promised that the sun would come out today and that it would be "warmer with a sunny afternoon." I'm calling balderdash on that one. It's cold, almost raining, and there's not a light to be found in the sky. It's one of those dark, dreary days where you just want to stay in and have a bowl of soup. Not even enough light to do good black and whites. (For you non-photographers out there, that's really not a lot of light in the sky at all.) All of this, wonder of wonders, and my tire's gone flat too. Oh joy! (I really hate it when they tell me it's going to be sunny and warm and it turns out to be cold and rainy instead. I feel like I was robbed or something.)

Yes, I know I'm being just a bundle of joy today. Like a field of unicorns pooping out rainbows of happiness everywhere I go. Sorry, can't help myself. I'd say I've driven myself crazy except that the car doesn't really move all that well, what with the silly "doughnut" and all, and I'm really slightly crazy to begin with so it's not that far of a drive on a good day.

I thought I would take myself back to a sunnier place, so sharing this image with you today. It's our "local two blue church domes" from Santorini (these were right near the hotel) and the Aegean Sea in the background. Taken on a nice, sunny, warm day, early morning-ish. I don't have the EXIF handy but I can guess at this one: ISO 100, walkabout zoom set on the wide (near the 28mm end.) Stopped down and near the 1/100th range on account of the nice, sunny, warm, day. (Guessing here, but there probably wasn't a bowl of soup, or a flat tire, in sight.)

Until next time...


Friday, November 14, 2014

Old Doors and New Doors

Went to a reunion tonight and ran into a bunch of old friends. It was pretty amazing to see where people ended up, who was where, who was doing what now, and the like. I'm always amazed by these types of gatherings. You can bring together old friends that you haven't seen in ages and it's sort of like you never left sight.

When I go to these type of gatherings too, everybody always seems to ask about my photography. Are you still doing it? When are you going to quit your "day job" and the like. Yes, I'm still doing it and yes I'm not going to quit my "day job" anytime soon. Photography is a wonderful hobby but it can be a bear of a way to make a living and, frankly, I'm not sure I'm ready, willing, or able to jump into the deep end of that pool just yet. Even so, it's good to catch up, to talk about how far I've gone or to talk about things coming.

Some people have a beard. Some people wear jackets now. Others lost weight or got dressed up nicely. It's kind of fun to see everybody again, to just catch up, over a beer and a lot of conversation.

Did you ever go to a reunion of this kind? Did you like it? Did you hate it? What was it like? I'm curious if folks have the same kinds of experiences. Fun stuff, that is.

This image from the town of Oia on the Greek island of Santorini.

Until next time...


Friday, November 07, 2014

Black and White and Night

Not much to say here except that I rather like this one. Maybe instead of the "regular" black and white challenge I should propose a "black and white and night" challenge, where people have to post an image that's not only black and white but also taken at night. Phew! That's a mouthful. Anyway, you get the idea.

This one is also from Santorini. It was taken on top of a hill that we had marched up, in order to better capture the sunset. We did get some great shots up there, mostly of the church and the caldera and the like, but I happened to spot this house on the hill and I rather liked it. The color image of this one I rather like as well, so you'll be seeing that at some point in the not to distant future, I'm sure.

Night shooting. Gosh, how I love it so. Everything looks so different at night. I such a night owl at heart. But, man, I really love me some night work. It's so much fun to do this kind of stuff, really it is and, I have to admit, I rather like this one. Thank goodness for the black and white challenge otherwise I might never had made it.

What's black and white and night all over? Hey, I need a punchline to go with that joke!

Until next time...


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Get Your Rocks Old

See these rocks all lined up in a row? They are actually some mighty old rocks. You see this image was taken inside the prehistoric town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini. Legend has it that the French created some quarries there (in more recent history) and, as they were digging out to mine something else, they happened upon this ancient city. After the Greeks heard about it, they put a roof over the entire place and now it's a popular tourist site. It's actually indoors and it's about four stories deep (underground.) The "indoors" part is why you see the shaft of light-it's actually light filtering through the slotted roof they put over the site to help preserve it-so that they could dig out some more and get to the bottom (literally!) of this ancient settlement.

Another story about this site was that, while the French were digging, they happened upon what they thought was a throne. Yes, they dug out something they thought was a throne to the entire place-you know the spot where the king, queen, or other type of "ruler" actually sat. Well, turns out it was a "throne" all right, but not that kind of throne. The French, you see, had re-discovered the toilet. Talk about something you might just not want to unearth, but there you have it.

And so, my friends, that's the story of the ancient prehistoric city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini.

Until next time...


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Yes, I Know I'm Missing A Day

So, I was supposed to post this as part of yesterday's challenge but I came home late, started watching TV, and then just fell asleep without posting anything at all. Here it is now.

I was trying to think of something clever and witty and my usual "self" to publish today. I couldn't think of anything. It's raining here now and my back feels a bit off. I'm sore and achy, just not feeling all that well today.

Since I needed to post something, I decided to surf the webs a bit to see if I could copy something witty and clever and interesting from somebody else (because, heck, let's face it, that's what I usually do anyway. Me and George Takai, right?) but I couldn't even do that. Facebook is full of silly cat videos, cute animals, weird political rantings, and oddball kind of stuff today. I so was hoping to post some serious photography tips or something worthy and all I got was stuff like pictures of the golden studded bra from Victoria's Secret. Not that there's anything wrong really with a golden studded bra and all, but, like, I'll never have one and I tend to find that kind of stuff useless really. I mean, how am I even supposed to comment on something like that? "Nice studs you got there?" seems kind of, well, excuse the pun but flat right about now.

Oh, in case you think that's a bit over the top, Popular Photography is running some Facebook repost about new breakthroughs in gaffer's tape. I kid you not. Gaffer's tape. How am I supposed to even comment on this? Gaffer's tape? You must be joking? Gaffer's tape? What could you possibly say about it other than, well, it's gaffer's tape? Ugh!

Instead, I give you another shot from Santorini. This one without the grunge filtering, but kind of in the same style. Exploding houses on the little cliffs and all. Hey, it's the best I could do on short notice, ok?

And, as far as making up the day, the black and white challenge and all, yes, I plan to do that as well. I'll try to post two images today or just ran an extra day to make up for it, get in my "top five" as I am supposed to get them done now that I have accepted the challenge. 

Oh, and, in case you're wondering what to surf around, want to avoid the, ahem, "historic" advancements in gaffer's tape, the wonderful folks over at Adore Noir Magazine are posting some lovely (and by that I mean "absolutely gorgeous! Stunning really. Go check them out right now, what are you waiting for beautiful that is") black and white work on the Internets right about now. I recommend you check them out along with their wonderful magazine, as they are quite good looking, especially in this day and age of endless streaming cat videos and wild advancements in gaffer's tape.

Until next time...


Monday, November 03, 2014

Ghost of a City

OK, I admit it. I'm having way too much fun with this black and white challenge. Does this one even count? I mean, it's not *technically* a black and white, it's more like a brown and white but, seriously, there's no color there and it looks like a toned black and white print so, yeah, OK, we'll go with that theory.

This challenge is forcing me to get more creative and to plunk around with images I would not ordinarily touch. Am I allowed to admit that in public? Is "plunk" even a word? Ah, I guess it is now.

Seriously though, sometimes these silly little challenges can bring out the best in you. I mean, they force you to get creative. And then, when that fails, they force you to get even more creative. More creative, even more creative still until you just suddenly burst. Kidding about that last part, of course, but I do feel like it's been a fun little challenge. "OK, let's run around and see what we could 'plunk' into a reasonable black and white image, given that I have to have one to put up today and all."

Don't be surprised at who I manage to tag in this little foray into darkness. Chances are, if you are a photographer and I know you, why, you'll be dragged into this too. (Enjoy the ride!)

In case you're curious, original shot was exposed in Santorini, Greece (taken from my hotel room balcony) with my 70-200mm f/4L lens (white lens) processed in Photoshop with a grunge filter.  I adjusted the tones and contrast in Photoshop after applying the grunge filter.

Until next time...


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Black and White Challenge


So, I've been tagged in the (now I guess) ubiquitous Black and White challenge that's been going around the Internets like the plague (and I mean that in a good way. I mean, the plague was bad and all, but the challenge really seems to be hitting up just about everybody. There's no hiding from it.) This is my first of five posts of black and white images. I'm hoping to do them all from Santorini but we'll see how this progresses. (I think I'm supposed to do one a day and each day tag somebody new but I've run out of people so not sure how long I'll be able to do the tagging thing.)

This image was pretty much black and white when I took it. Hitting the buttons to remove the color really didn't change it all that much. Still, it's black and it's white and it fits the "black and white challenge" so it's going in, take it or leave it.

An interesting thing about this challenge too. I've watched it go around, from photographer to photographer. It's really been making the rounds along the Interwebs and all. Something struck me about it. I mean, there's actually some really good work coming out of it. Some people, photographers you might not associate with black and white imagery, are really putting out some good stuff. It's really hit just about everybody and there's some quality out there so I guess we should all enjoy it while it lasts.

I think by now most of you know my stance on black and white work. It can be a real challenge for a photographer, especially in this digital day and age. It can still be kind of difficult to "see" things in black and white and there's a tendency for photographers to think of black and white as "saving" an image when, for the most part, that's not really the case. Some other folks just naturally take to it like ducks to water. I've seen some people you'd think would never be able to get the hang of it churning out keeper after keeper in black and white while some otherwise pretty decent photographers go down with the ship and all. We'll see how I do with it, I guess, over the course of the next five images or so. Color be damned, we're going all monochromatic on you for this one, thanks to the black and white challenge.

What's black and white and read all over? The Interwebs these days, I'd reckon.

Until next time...


Friday, October 24, 2014

Back From Santorini - It's Laundry Time

I'm back now from Santorini. A Top Ten list coming soon, I promise. For now though, I have to contend with some of *this.* Yes, it's laundry time.

I swear, where does this stuff come from? It's like it multiplies or something. Like bunnies, that is, really. Before I left for my trip, I honestly packed one suitcase of clothing. One. I mean, how much can you really fit in one suitcase even? Heck, it's not even like it was a *big* suitcase. Nope. I travel now with those ultra light luggage sets, so I have one fairly regularly sized suitcase that's extra light when empty, even not all that heavy when stuffed to the gills. Honestly. Where did all of this laundry come from? Since I've been back, it's been nothing but laundry, laundry, laundry. Piles of it everywhere. Heck, I'm washing stuff I didn't even know was dirty. At this point, I even feel like I might be washing stuff that isn't even mine. I'm just washing, washing, washing. Phew! Mountains of this stuff, really, I'm surrounded. Some days I feel like yelling out the window, "HELP! I'm surrounded by laundry and the hits just keep on coming!"

I've started the process too that can best be described as "the great upload." I'm averaging about 8-10 images a day. I start by processing them and then uploading to a Flickr set and then, if it's lucky or just apropos, it might end up here (like this lovely laundry shot. Tighty purple-ese, anyone? Seriously. What's up with the purple undies? I guess it's the latest in what Greek fisherman are wearing these days. Either that or he washed it with the red pants one too many times.) I'm taking my time but trying to get through the mountain that is the Compact Flash pile. Sometime soon, I promise.

Meanwhile, over in Flickr land, people are already starting to hate me. I sense there are at least a few folks over there who are pricing trips to Santorini for themselves (sorry about that!) and at least a few who are more than sick of looking at churches with blue domes. Blue domes, blue skies, blue railings, blue doors, blue everything. I used to wonder why the Greek flag was blue and white. Now, since I've been there and all, yeah, NO. Wonder no more, for now I know. The truth will set you free (er, so long as it's blue and white, that is.)

And, speaking of freedom and such, should you happen across a giant talking pile of laundry, won't you loan me a ladder or throw me a rope so I can climb out and re-join in civilization? It's a bit difficult to shovel and fabric soften from down in this hollow. (We thank you in advance for your support. Donations of detergent can be dropped off should you be so inclined.)

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Delicate


So it's raining here in River City today and I'm thinking, "Man, it's a messy, messy night." I've still got a ton of stuff to do before my trip, and somehow very little of it ever gets done. I always wait until the last minute, when everything always seems to happen anyway.

I suppose I should tell you that I will have one of my images up at the Austin airport. It's part of some art project, I've been selected for...to have this done. They are making some kind of a poster featuring my work and they are going to hang in somewhere, well I guess somewhere in the terminal areas. I'll probably poke around looking for it when I'm over at the airport to head out for my trip. Won't be surprised if I don't find it though, as they sometimes put these things in the men's room and such, but that's how it goes. (Good news, I guess, still feeling a little blah today, I suppose.)

In other news, I was approached about licensing one of my images. I'll probably do that but not entirely sure. I'm so not open to the entire stock photography thing. I've seen just too many people all but give away their work and it seldom amounts to fame or fortune, rather usually turns into a couple of extra buckets which, in the long run, doesn't seem to help matters all that much. Still though, I suppose, nice to be asked and all (don't you think?)

I guess I'm just feeling a bit delicate today. Kind of like this image. Here, present, in the moment, just not entirely sure if I can stand up to the winds. We all go through cycles. Sometimes, I feel like I own the moon (y'all owe me a bucket-load of money for those two recent "super moons" that were back to back last week, so pay up already!) and other times? Nobody here but us chickens (or us delicate trees, as the case may be.) Just not feeling the love...never feeling the love, if you know what I'm saying.

Delicate. I guess it's just one of those nights.

Until next time...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's the Last (GASP) Mail Order Before I Go

Today I put in what will probably become the last mail order (B&H order) before my trip. Oh, what an order it was too. For starters, my Internet was running very slowly tonight. My Firefox kept jamming up and it was not happy. Then, I had to do a bunch of research, because I had been looking to get some ND Grads, and thinking about getting them for the trip. But, oh no, you can't just "get" ND grads. No, no, no, no, no. You have to get an entire "ND Grad System" complete with bells and whistles and little YouTube videos telling you why *your* ND Grad system is really the bees knees. It's like torture only a little more painful, really that is. (In case you're curious, I still have not gotten an ND Grad system. I've opted instead for a new lens, a couple of circular polarizers, and a bucket load of Compact Flash.)

I'm eying the Cokin ND grad system, but you can't just go and get the Cokin, no, no, no, no, no. There's the Cokin X, The Cokin P, the Cokin XP. (Really. Did I use the word "torture" before? And you thought that maybe just maybe, I might have been kidding? HA!) And all of these depend upon the size of your lens and the size of the lens that you maybe want to get one day because all of them, well most of them anyway, can go smaller but not larger, but then you have to decide if you want this big honking ND Grad system filter holder stuck onto the front of your lens while you are walking around the ten million steps of Santorini. Oh God, I need a drink! (For those curious, and frankly, I don't see how you could be at this point but, just in case, I am seriously thinking about either the Cokin X-Pro or the Singh-Ray. Each has there pluses and minuses, with Singh-Ray being very expensive and of the "threaded" variety, so they only really fit one lens, while the Cokin system is a bit like buying a razor blade-they give you the razor for free and then promptly yell out "Sucker!" while you're still waiting in line at the cash register, because they know they've now become your crack dealer of choice, only their "ND grad filter system" is actually legal, and so they can get away with this nonsense, and actually profit from it. And did I mention you will now be a customer for life, having to go back time and again for this and that-the textbook definition of nickel and dimed to death only more expensive. Oh the humanity!)

Did I mention that Firefox froze in the middle of all of this? Oh yes. While I had something like 23 items in my shopping basket at B&H (none of which they would let me save, by the way) my Firefox crashed so badly I had to restart my computer. While I was frantically running around looking for a pad and pencil (you do remember those, don't you?) to write down what I could remember from my two hour shopping excursion into the depths of ND grad filter systems, circular polarizers, and the like, I got lucky (and I use that term loosely, believe me) in that, when Firefox restarted, it had saved my shopping basket. Yay! (I mean, um, BOO! because now I have to pay for all of this crap.) After all of that, I so feel like I need a drink (or twelve.) But still, last big order before the trip and all. Yay! Now I really feel like I'm going, at least the Compact Flash will be showing up soon, so I must be leaving to go somewhere (isn't there a rule about that? If not, there should be.)

And, in case you're curious, yes, I'm still trying to workout (exercise as much as I can.) I'm in nowhere near good enough shape to handle the steps but I'll just have to hope and try and try to hope and just grunt and get up (and down!) somehow.

While I was deep in the bowels of the B&H ordering system (AKA "the Compact Flash Factory") I started to think about a couple of things. For starters, I still have Fry's and Precision Camera, so I can run out and get anything I might have forgotten (should I happen to have any money left.) Ahem, for those of you in the "drug trade" (by that I mean "camera dealers") these would be my "local suppliers." Oh goodie! I'm not entirely doomed yet. (Heck, I still have two weeks left. Two entire weeks! Go me!)

Then, I started to think about the mannequins. I wonder why kind of mannequins they might have in Santorini. I can only imagine. (Oh! And I'm about to find out real soon now too. Oh joy!) That and toothpaste. I wonder just where in the heck the toothpaste is going to end up. (I have to wonder about this because, as you know, I tend to think about these things.)You know, you just know (well, you would if you've read my blog before) there's always *something* involving toothpaste. (Somebody always forgets some, there's an international incident, some Japanese tourists attack, you know, it's all about the toothpaste, really it is. Coming soon, to a Greek Isle near you!)

All of this and British Air today wrote me and asked me (again!) what kind of meal I want. Don't they realize I'm a barefoot Hindu now and they don't even need to ask these things? (Geesh.) That's right. I'm soon to become a barefoot Hindu Compact Flash yielding photographer from the lowlands of Texas, without an ND grad filtering system to her name but enthusiastic none the less. You won't be able to miss me, should you happen to be in Santorini, as I'll be the one who can't make it up the steps or use Firefox without emitting some kind of primal scream. (Maybe with, or without, toothpaste, you'll have to speak Japanese to find out how that story ends.) Oh, and I'll be spending a lot of time checking out the mannequins while I'm there too. (Ah, Carol's Greek Adventure, I can hardly wait.)

Kidding aside, I'm seriously looking forward to this trip. That is, if it doesn't kill me before I even get into the airport shuttle. 

Until next time...

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Step It Up - The Steps of Santorini

As you know, I'm headed to Santorini sometime soon. One of the things about Santorini is that, since it's basically a series of little villages built into cliff sides, there are a lot of steps there. When I say "a lot of steps" I basically mean A TON of steps. There are steps, steps, and more steps. Everything is up two flights, down one, over there, up another two flights. It's like the steps mated and had more steps. They are all over the place, multiplied like bunnies in the springtime, those steps they did.

Something that's happened recently is that, well, I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I'm horribly out of shape. Yes, it's true, I can hardly walk up a flight of steps these days without getting winded, wheezy, and out of it. So, what's a girl to do? Lately, I've started using my exercise bike. Every day. Each and every day, I've tried to ride my exercise bike for twenty minutes or more. And, believe me, it's actually helping a bit. Now, mind you, this is not a "diet" of any kind, no, I'm not trying to drop pounds or look good for my trip, no, we're shooting for pure, raw stamina here. Maybe it's sort of working, a bit anyway. I mean, I feel a bit better. There seems to be a bit more of a spring in my, excuse the word, step since I've started doing this (or tried to do this.) At least I think I can get up a flight now without keeling over which, while still not very good, it's a bit of progress, no?

But, I've got a long way to go, not a lot of time left, and there are a lot of stairs there...a lot of stairs there (did I mention lots of stairs there? Mmm....thought I did.)

So, now I'm feeling really stressed over these stairs. I mean, what am I to do if I get there and I just can't make it up to my hotel room? (My hotel is actually situated on a cliff, overlooking the Aegean Sea. How many hotels in the world can say that about themselves? Wouldn't it be a disgrace if I couldn't make it back up to *that* hotel room? Oh the humanity!)

The wheels in my head have started to go 'round and this entire "step it up" thing has me thinking. Maybe I should make a photo project out of this? I could call it something like "The Steps of Santorini" and actually start shooting the steps, all the steps, any of the steps I see. Do you think this would work? (I mean, would anybody actually believe it?) On the one hand, it's better than letting the steps actually kill me. On the other, well, it sounds sort of like a kind of cheesy project, doesn't it? ("The Steps of Santorini?" Really?) But, it *would* give me something to do with those horrible steps. Well, something besides go up and down them all freaking day long.

For a while, I was thinking, "The Steps of Santorini" will not kill me, no, they won't. I won't allow it. I am going to own those steps. I am going to conquer those steps as the great Spartans did years ago. Those steps? Why, they are destined to be SCHOOLED by the likes of me. I'm not going down! (Well, actually, technically speaking, I am in fact "going down" but I'll be going down the steps and not "going down with the ship" as the saying goes. Oh, and I'll be "going up" too. So there!) Steps, I don't care if I do a photo project of you or not, I'm so going to *OWN* you. Do you hear me? As God is my witness, I'm going to own you and school you and you will NOT be getting the better of me. No, sir, you won't. I'm not going to take this. I'm not going to elevator and escalator anymore! I'm taking the steps, I'm owning the steps. Out of my way, I've got some climbing to do!

I'm really trying to step it up for my trip. I really hope I have enough time and I can make it up (and down) enough steps between now and then that I can actually walk around Santorini and I don't bog down the entire group with my wheezy out-of-shape self.

Yes, I've really got to step it up for this trip, and I'm trying, believe me, I'm trying.

Until next climb...

Monday, September 01, 2014

It's Greece For Me

Tonight I'm finishing off booking my next trip. As the old expression goes, "God willing and the creek don't rise" I'll be going to Santorini, Greece to attend a photo tour of the island.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "She's crazy!" (Well, I am actually.) "Why is she going there?" and probably even some of, "She never mentioned Greece before." It's true, I didn't. But, I'm going. It's one of those places that was always on my radar. As is typically the case, a trip popped up and I just could not pass it up. So, Greece it is. I'm Santorini bound! Wish me safe travels, good light, and all of that if you're so inclined, please, for I can use all of the well wishes I can get.

The next days will find me both excited about the upcoming prospects of photographing the Greek countryside and also taking on a frenzy of activity as I prepare for my workshop. I'm already tied up with things like booking travel, ordering flash memory, getting lots of last minute items together, plus a host of research and going over in my mind what type of work I'm inclined to do there. All of that plus, well, tonight I booked the Blue Van. (Exciting, I know, but that's the life of an international jet setter I guess. I mean, I have to get myself to the airport somehow, right?)

I'm so glad they have flights from Austin direct to London now. Makes it easier for me to visit places like Athens and Santorini. It's just one less flight hop I have to make, not to mention I get to fly on the dreamliner which, you know, it's nice.

As an aside, British Despair, I mean, um, British Air (yeah, that's it) offers some kind of service called "Premium Economy" which is not much more expensive than the seats in the back but offers you a large screen TV in front of you plus a bit more "wiggle room" for your legs. I've opted for this "Premium Economy" class, since it was only $100 more and, had I booked regular ole' generic "economy" I would have had to pay $75 more for baggage (or so.) For $25 and a 9 hour flight to and fro, I figured it would be money well spent.

One of the decisions I now face, thanks in part to this new "Premium Economy" foof, is that I get to decide upon a meal. One might think this an easy task, but, man, the page for meals is oh so confusing. They have ovo lacto vegetarian meals (I think this means eggs and milk but no meat) they have Muslim meals (no pork.) They have Hindu meals (no meat.) They have vegan meals. (You know what they call a fat free, gluten free vegan brownie? Compost....kidding, I'm kidding. Actually, maybe not so much.) They have an entire web page devoted to all of this meal foof, not to mention another web page where they tell us how we have to take off our shoes before boarding the planes (I think this is on account of being American but don't quote me on that.)

All of this shoe-less ovo lacto nonsense prompted me to tell my mother the other day, "You see, Mom," I said to her on the phone, "you thought you gave birth to a daughter but, in actuality, I'm about to become a shoeless Hindu on board a flight from Austin to London's Heathrow airport."

How much you want to make a bet they will still somehow manage to screw up my meal and give me a steak sandwich mid-flight? These things, why they always seem to happen to me, but I somehow manage to just make the best of it whenever I can.

But, Santorini bound I am. I've even got the Blue Van reservation number to prove it. British Despair or not, I'm flying away soon to Greece, Santorini to be exact.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's Good to Be Back and in my New Chair


Untitled

OK, so maybe I never left. But, I have to say, while I was gone a lot of stuff happened!

For starters, the ahem "good" folks at Flickr broke the "Blog This" button. I guess, in hindsight, they told me to go off and blog this. Yahoo! is sure going out of their way to ruin Flickr but, I guess, that's par for the course.

I did my taxes. Nothing crazy there. Just crammed about three weeks of work into one long weekend. It was crazy and I felt totally beat up afterwards. After all that hand to hand combat, what do I have to show for it? I'm getting back about $200. Oh joy! I wish I could trade all of the paperwork I had to endure for that $200, believe me, I wish I could.

I've been strangely fascinated with birds. This image here I captured from my car window. It's a murder of crows that I frequently see on the way home from work. Mmmm. Snapseed. Oh how I love Snapseed. Let me count the ways. Oh, and the crows are really cool too. My strange fascination with birds continues.

I'd had this horrible injury to my thumb that has made typing very difficult. It hurts to even type this. My fingers ache but I so continue to endure. I must press on for the fans. (Well, ok, all three people who still check in here once in a while to make sure I'm like still alive and all. Howdy, folks! Yup. Still here. Sorry, you don't inherit the crock pot just yet.)

Perhaps the best news in a long time. I *finally* got my chair. What chair? You might be asking, and I'd be here to tell you. Sometime, back in November, I ordered this spiffy new desk chair for my home office. It's grey leather and it's something called a "Stressless." Oh, let me tell you. It's stressless alright. I hardly want to get up and get out of it. It's....ah....oh so comfortable.

For a long time, you see, I had this really crappy desk chair. It was horrible, not to mention just really bad on my back and all. I had wanted a new desk chair for a long time and just couldn't bring myself to pick one out. They were all sort of....well....ugly, if I may be so blunt (and you know, you just know, how blunt I can be, don't you?) So, back in November, I happened upon this store that sells contemporary furniture and that's when I saw them. The STRESSLESS chairs. Oh my! They were oh so pretty. I just had to have one. I ordered one right on the spot, in leather even, because, well I could and I just did, ok? They told me back then that it would take a few months and that my chair had to come from Norway. It was specially made for me in Norway. A chair specially made for me was coming all the way from Norway. Oh joy!

Well, needless to say, Christmas came and then they had called me and told me there was a mix up with the order and yada yada. No worries. I was in no hurry. I had put off a lot of blogging and website design for so long, what's a few more weeks, right? At this point, I was putting stuff off because my desk chair was so uncomfortable I hardly wanted to use my computer. It was like OUCH in here. It was cramped and dark and the chair really sucked. Then, the chair came in. Finally made the trip from Norway. Oh what a chair it is too. It's *so* comfortable. Now, and I know you're going to laugh at this but I must confess, I have a completely different problem.

My chair is so comfortable I can hardly get out of it.

There. I said it. My chair is so comfortable, I've been avoiding sitting down at the computer because, instead of knowing I'll be uncomfortable, I now know I'll be so comfortable that it will take all but the house burning down to get me back out of this silly chair. 

Seriously, the other day? I ordered pizza. I almost didn't order pizza. Not because I wasn't hungry, no, simply because I thought to myself, "My God, I'm sitting down! If the pizza dude shows up, I'll have to get up and out of the chair to answer the door." I was seriously considering going hungry, just because I didn't want to get up for one split second to go and answer the door. Oh the humanity! Oh, the chair! Ah, the chair. I'm all about the big, comfy chair these days.

So, you see....Flickr broken. Eh, what's new? Tax returns? Meh, I have to do them every year, why should this year be any different? Birds? Oh, they are migrating again or something like that. My thumb hurts like the Dickens. Ah well, that's nice. Please just don't ask me to do anything that requires me to get up and get out of my new chair, OK?

Welcome back, Carol! I'd tell you to come in and pull up a chair but so sorry I've already got the good one and I ain't giving it up.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 01, 2014

A Carnival of New Lights


BlueAndOrange_5581, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
So, recently I purchased some new lights for my home studio. I went out and got myself a set of Fiilex P360 LED studio lights. These are dense matrix LEDs with full spectrum tuning, so that I can dial-in just about any color temp I could possibly want. How fun is that?

Still working on my home studio setup and doing some show preparations tonight, but I wanted to share the good news with you about the lights.

A funny thing about lighting too, nowadays anyway it seems like everybody is all into the strobes. Everything is Strobist this and Strobist that. I've always been a fan of continuous lights but what am I to call myself? A floodist? That sounds like somebody who loves springtime in Iowa when the winter snows melt and everybody is out playing with sandbags, not a photographer. A continuist? Is that even a word? Geesh. We have to do better than that, no? What? Am I like an anti-Strobist? That doesn't really sound like me either. (I guess I'll have to get back to you on this one with some kind of oh-so-clever name at some point. For now though it's safe to say I've just gone out and gotten myself some new lights.)

Also, we're coming up on carnival week so there's bound to be a lot of fun down in New Orleans this week as well. Really wish I were there but, sadly, I'm back at the ranch, getting things setup and toiling away.

And, it goes without saying really but, man, watch out for any "Floodists" you might find down in the 'Quarter this week.

Until next time...

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Year of the Horse

Close up of an orange dragon puppet, Chinese new year celebrations, Austin, Texas
OrangeDragonNo1-1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Happy Chinese New Year, everybody! It's now the Year of the Horse. I was actually born in the Year of the Horse and my mother was also born in the Year of the Horse. In fact, when I was born, there was some kind of astral event so I'm actually (technically) what they refer to as a "Fire Horse." It's a bit whacked out in Chinese New Year speak, but both my mother and I are "Fire Horses." How fun!

They say the Fire Horses are almost like strong horses. I have always thought that "Fire Horse Studios" would make a great name for an encaustic studio. In fact, I should open one by that name some day. I think it would work, don't you?

I have always loved the Chinese New Year and the iChing even if I cannot always follow along with what they are presenting. It's fascinating to me and such an inspiration artistically. I love these puppets and the Chinese dancers (acrobats, really) and also tons of fireworks, plus the wonderful zodiac symbols. It really is a wonderful source of artistic inspiration, even if you don't really believe in all of the musings.

For this Year of the Horse, since it's my year (sort of) I am going to try to concentrate on making things better for the future. I hope that one day I can be an even more exciting, dynamic "Fire Horse" creature.

I hope you are having a great Chinese New Year. Happy New Year!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Old Man Winter: B is for Bite Me!


FlyingBInTheRain_8172, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
OK, so I must admit. It's COLD outside. In Austin, we've had this weird freezing rain, sleet, ice-like crap falling all over the place. It's happened for two days now. First last Friday and now today. For two entire days now, it's been snowing, iced up, sleeting, whatever you call it.

Now, I know you folks up north are probably saying things like "Yeah, yeah, cry me a river!" since we here in Austin seldom get winter. But, it's very bad here. You see, we just don't *do* winter in these parts. We don't have sleds, mittens, warm kettles full of hot cocoa. Nope. We've got none of that. We have shorts and sleeveless T-shirts. What in the heck am I supposed to do with a sleeveless T-shirt when it's 29 degrees outside?!? Get my point? See where this is going? It's supposed to be a WARM climate and, frankly, we just don't understand all of this *winter* crap, not to mention our roads, why, they just can't take it.

You see the roads here are hilly, or at least a bit more sloped then what you are used to back east or even in other parts. We have slopes and ridges and odd medians and big hills and places where, once the road ices up, you just can't get to. Things get blocked off, people grow impatient and crashes start to happen. Lots and lots of crashes, in fact, Friday alone, there were over 200 crashes in Austin. Today, I heard on the news how there was a crash involving a school bus and two of Austin's police cruisers were involved in wrecks.

One of the main roads you might take when traveling through Austin is Interstate 35, or I-35 as the locals like to call it. It has these big fly-overs and places that just don't do well at all with ice. Today, it was deemed "impassible" due to the ice. For a brief period of time, it was completely closed today in a special ceremony. You see, it's been renamed "Ice-Thirty Five" on account of all the sleet we've been having. Mopac, another main highway through the city which is usually packed (hence its nickname: MoPacked) was like a skating rink, not to mention completely empty. Void of traffic because none dare venture out into the land of many crashes.

It's the strangest of conditions, really, since everything is covered in ice and yet nobody really remembers it raining. Not to mention this sleet stuff is doing nothing to help fill up our lakes and rid Austin of its pesky drought conditions. No, it's not helping with that, this crappy sleet is, rather it's just muddling up our traffic. Ugh! I really hate this crap. honest, I do.

Now I know I've been complaining a lot. "I'm sick!" "It's sleeting!" Yada yada. But, this really is the current state of affairs here in River City. Bad allergies gave way to the flu which is turn morphed into sleet covered broken dreams. I really hate this winter and I know that, in just a few months, I'll be complaining how it's too hot around these parts. I know, I sound like a cross between a broken record and a complaint machine, but there you have it. It's my blog and I'll rant if I want to. There's just too much winter for me to take this quietly. I know this is a season and we're all supposed to get this "winter" stuff and all, but, man, it's killing me! And, I know I'll get little sympathy from folks back east who have it worse, much worse, than I but I can still complain, can't I?

Old man winter, if you would, please turn it down a notch or two, OK? We're like all collectively kind of getting sick of you. (Enough said!)

Until next time...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Really Need a Cup of Tea


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Not only is this like the worst winter in 400 years but now, it would appear, I have come down with the flu. Oh the humanity! I really need a cup of tea.

As I sit and type this, it's sleeting outside too. It's the kind of sleet where it piles up and accumulates on the ground. Sleet that piles up and accumulates? Thirty degrees in Austin? What has this world come to? What are we destined to get like six inches of white crap on the ground, just because? Somebody, save me from this madness, please.

If all of this were not enough, Justin Bieber was arrested this morning. It's just been that kind of a day, OK? Wow! What can I say? (Well, things could be worse, I mean, at least I am not Justin Bieber, right?)

They say he might get deported. And I'm on new medicine that's supposed to un-stuff my nose (but isn't.) I've got this fever that just won't break and there's nothing on TV and my back hurts from trying to sit up in bed long enough to do any work (I have my computer with me and am trying to do some work from home, rather than infect everybody I know.) It's just horrible, quite the horrible day. Still, I know, it could be worse, I could be Justin Bieber. (And the police could have taken away my shiny new Ferrari. Oh the horror!)

As I load up the CNN.com page, I see two smiling young yellow-haired kids grinning back at me. One is a child who has been missing for a long time-the parents have almost given up hope. The other? Justin Bieber. Perhaps Justin should stop and reflect upon just how lucky he is, even in light of all that's happened to him today.

For myself, well, I'm content sitting here with Chase, yearning for a hot cup of tea, typing in a parka (because I've got a fever that just won't quit) wondering when in the heck old man winter is finally going to give up the ghost. Face it, old man, you're doomed. I can see the first buds of spring fighting their way 'round the yard and, like all seasons gone before this too shall pass.

Do you think Justin Bieber likes tea? (Probably not, eh? I mean, I guess it would not go with all of the booze, pot, and Ferrari juice he's been drinking as of late.) Still, you know, a flu-infected crazy lady typing in a parka can wonder, can't she?

Until next time...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Cedar Fever, Y'All


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
It's cedar season. What's cedar season? Well, it's that time of year when the cedar trees release all of their pollens and start mating excessively. Taking in too much cedar can lead to cedar allergies. Cedar allergies, in Texas anyway, are often referred to as "Cedar Fever."

Basically, you get horribly, horribly sick when you have cedar fever. It's kind of like the worst allergy you can imagine, combined with a sinus infection (or the like.) It tends to last almost a month in these parts and it's quite horrible.

Usually, I don't suffer from cedar fever (I'm one of the lucky ones) but, this year anyway, I seem to really be having a doozy of a time of it. Cedar, it would appear, has really gotten to me. Now, it could just be too that I'm allergic to so many *other* things and our record (off the chart) high cedar count this year is just adding to my suffering, but there you have it.

So, I've been under the weather with this cedar fever. Trying to make myself well. Trying to take some meds for it. Just trying to get through the day. It's been quite a struggle this allergy season and, I must confess, I feel quite horrible.

I hope you manage to escape season allergies where you live. Heck, even with my allergies, I'm happy enough to recognize that, if I didn't live in Texas, I'd still be trapped in "winter" somewhere else (and, I'm told, this has been a horrible, horrible winter as well.)

I think we all collectively need to escape to some kind of a beach and sip some kind of a boat drink. Some kind of a boat drink with a really, really long straw and probably like at least one (or two!) of those little colored umbrellas.

Yeah. Right about now, one of those drinks is calling my name!

Until next time...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Attack of the Webinars


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Since it's a new year it seems that a lot of artists and art coaches are all about webinars. Everybody is putting up webinars. Podcasts, new eBooks, and the like are popping up like mushrooms. It's everywhere!

I have to say that I love it. I've been eating it up. Over the holiday break, I listened to an entire Podcast called "The Thriving Artist Summit" and I got tons of good advice. Just today, I was futzing around on Facebook when I happened upon the Art Biz Blog lady's free webinar on "Income Boosting Strategies for 2014." I mean, this is tons of free advice and it's ripe for the taking. Phew!

The thing I love is that, in the old days, to be an artist you pretty much had to move to New York. You had to get an agent. You had to hire attorneys. It was tons of paperwork and the process took oh so long. Now, with the Internet, everything is simple. We really are living in the golden age of owning your own business and artists are profiting from this. It's never been easier to run the nuts and bolts part of the business, leaving you free to concentrate on the business of, well, making art itself. I love it. I love how there is the Internet with all of these vast resources. One can get inspiration easily from the digital archives. You can learn. You can grow. We no longer need agents and have to fuss over the business end of things. It's fantastic.

I hope you are making the most of these new year "freebies" because they don't always last. I'm sure that, by June anyway, much of this will be gone and people will be back to doing what it is that they do.

It's free Podcast season, folks, enjoy it while it lasts!

Until next time...

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Very Cool Sky


, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
We had this very cool sky the other day and I thought, "Must...Take...Photo." I was outside near sunset time and decided it would not be a bad idea to Hipsta another sunset. So, here we have it...my last Hipsta sunset from 2013 (as this was taken on December 30 of last year.)

Last year. It seems so last year ago, doesn't it? Why, almost feels too like it was only last week. (What's that you say? It was only last week? Yeah, I knew that.)

Still working on the house but gearing up for 2014 here. Getting ready to go out and do some shooting this week and learn something about lighting. Oh, and to upload the last of my Hipsta sunsets from 2013. I hope 2014 is treating you well, treating you well, my friends. Treating you well or, at least, treating you to some very cool skies in your little corner of the world.

Until next time...