Sunday, June 16, 2019

Romancing the Sky

Blue sky with clouds over Cedar Park, Texas

Lately, it seems like I've been in a bit of a rut, at least photographically (if not in other ways.) It's almost as if my photographic Mojo has gone on a brief jaunt and I can't seem to find it ("Now paging Mr. Mojo...Come in, Mr. Mojo...Please report to the white courtesy camera nearest you...") Today, I was puttering about the house, not really doing much of anything. I probably should have gone over to the koi breeders but opted instead to stay home and chill. Being lazy on a Sunday, I suppose, I was overdue for a lazy Sunday of sorts. Chase had to go out and when I ventured into the yard that's when I saw the clouds in the afternoon sky.

Today, we had these really great clouds. They were the kind of clouds you dream about if, you know, you are the type of person who dreams about clouds. They were those giant puffy clouds, the ones where you can see lots of shapes in them. Little bunnies, and kittens, and Mickey Mouse, yeah man, it was all up there, right in those clouds. It was slightly breezy today, with giant puffy clouds blowing around out there. Who could resist that, right? I grabbed my camera and fired off a few shots. What can I say, I just cannot resist clouds.

There's something about white clouds against a blue sky that captivates me. I love the sky, I love looking up at the sky. It sparks my imagination. I know, it sounds a bit crazy and, why, maybe I am a bit crazy, but there really is something about the sky. Yes, I love the night sky (who doesn't?) but also the sky in the daytime does it for me too. The wind and the shapes in the clouds. It's all a bit dreamy and magical and frankly I enjoyed myself, I enjoying taking shots of the clouds. Maybe it makes me a dork. Maybe you think I'm weird. Maybe it's a bit strange or just boring, I don't know, but I love the sky, I love the clouds. They hold a certain fascination for me.

No, today I did not do much, and didn't do too much photographically, but I did romance the sky a bit. It's a magical place for me and I cherish it so I decided to post one from the camera rolls for today. I hope you find magic and romance and imagination wherever you might look, be it the sky or elsewhere. Enjoy your strange fascination while you can and wherever you may happen upon it, right? For we are all creatures of fascination and we should follow where these things lead us, should we not? Who knows? I just might bump into my Mojo again should I happen down that path. Here's hoping, right? Maybe, just maybe, my Mojo is hiding up in a cloud somewhere. (If you happen to see him, please let him know I am earthbound and send him my way, OK?)

Until next time...

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - June 9, 2019

Interior architectural shot showing window light on a wall with a fireplace and chair in rural Texas, USA
Come in, sit down, have a chat beside the fire. Yes, I know it's already getting to be summertime out there, not an optimal time for a fire, but it is an optimal time for some opportunities. Here are this week's opportunities for you:
That's a bunch of opportunities for you to snuggle up with by your fire this week. 

Until next time...

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - June 2, 2019

Love is the answer, indeed, although it does make me wonder what exactly the question might be, right? Speaking of love, I'd love to pass along some opportunities and, by golly, here they are:
There are some opportunities for you. I hope you're feeling the love.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - May 19, 2019

Grass detail. Very green close up shot of grass blades in the late afternoon light.
How does your garden grow? Mine is a lot of weeds these days. But, hey, they are *green* weeds and so that's all that counts, right? I'm going with green and sticking to that. In other news, here are some opportunities for you, bring your own weeds:
That's a bunch of opportunities for you to grow on about so hop to it.

Until next time...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Alexa, Open Words on Photography Please

Two mannequins in the window, the Domain, Austin, Texas, USA
I wanted to play around with the voice-based technology and make an Alexa skill for a while now. It's just something I wanted to try out, sort of take it for a spin if you will. Recently, I happened upon something called "Blueprints" which is basically Amazon's way of simplifying Alexa skill making. You don't even need to know how to code, you simply use one of their boiler plates or "Blueprints" as they call it, to craft your skill from a template for one of the many common skills out there. Since I wanted to make a skill, I decided to give this a try. I used one of the "Blueprints" for inspirational quotes to make my very own Alexa skill, which is now available in the Alexa Skill store (for free) over at Amazon.

I came up with something called "Words on Photography," which is basically a photographic quote machine. If you have been following Carol's Little World, you know that I once ran a "quote of the day" on photography a while back. Basically, I copied those into one big Alexa skill and then fed it into the "Blueprints" machine to see if she would choke on it or just really what she might spit out having been fed that much about photography in one big bite. She did a fairly good job of it, mangling some of the names (Joyce Tenneson, anyone? And, of course, she still pronounces my name the Italian way) but spitting out the quotes in a pretty consistent manner.

You can checkout the skill yourself here:

If you have an Alexa device, once you enable the skill, you should be able to say simply, "Alexa, open words on photography" and she'll spit a wonderful quote on photography at you. Now, it's still a bit of a work in progress (I've got no quotes in there from Minor White, for example, and he's like the Kevin Bacon of photographers: nobody is ever more than six degrees away, right?) I want to add a few things to it, so I might republish, but I plan on keeping it free and available to anybody who wants to hear some great quotes on photography (and life itself, but mostly photography.) I have been using myself, enjoying the randomness and feeling inspired by the photographic greats. Photographers really do make for some interesting conversationalists (and, no, I'm not just saying that because I am one, let's go with, "so I've been told," and leave it at that, OK?)

I hope you like my little Alexa skill too and, should you be so-inclined, please hit me up with any additions you would like to see or just any suggestions to make it better. I believe you can also rate the skill in the Alexa skill store if you are inclined to do that as well.

Until next time...

PS This one from a new project I'm tentatively calling "Domain." You know how I love mannequins and these were just so bright and special, why, I could not resist. Taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens in Austin, Texas, a recent shot fresh off the flash pile. Yeah, I've been out shooting again. You know I can't stop, right?

Opportunity Weekend - May 11, 2019

Windows on a brown building in The Domain, Austin, Texas, USA
Opportunities can really open some doors to showing off your work, though I would not recommend opening up these particular doors, as they are more than a few stories off the ground and, well, somebody might get hurt. Some better doors of opportunity for you this week:
That's a lot of doors to chase after so I recommend you start a knocking.

Until next time...

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Just a Little Mystery

Mysterious figure standing at a gate in Guilin, China. Nighttime image with colored lights.
There's something about a little mystery in photography that appeals to me. I admit it, I love a good whodunnit. I love images that make you ask more questions than they answer. Images that make you think, make you wonder, make you lost...there's just something so appealing about them to me. I love the idea that you can get lost in an image, that it takes you away, to that faraway place, to a place from which you almost don't want to return.

OK, yes, I admit, there's also something fabulous about the right in your face style of photography too. Photography is a lot about realism, I get that. I totally get that. We're "real" kind of people in a "real" kind of world. And, yes, magical sunsets or lights or sweeping landscapes that you can almost reach out and touch do seem kind of fabulous too, don't they? Heck, I've been there, I've seen that, I know the drill. I want some of that as well, but there's just something about a little mystery. I just love it when a little something-something is left off the table. When not everything is spelled out so clearly in black and white. When the photographer makes you think. You like to think, don't you? Heck, I think everybody likes to think. We're thinking beasts as a lot, I swear we really are.

I think sometimes we get lost in mysterious images because they draw us in. It's not so black and white, it's not so in your face. Instead, it quietly pulls you in, like it ropes you, draws you into its world for a spell. There's just something about that whole idea that I really like. It's captivating.

It's hard to make mysterious images. Often, they don't jump out at us. We have to work at them, sometimes a lot, but I think they are worth it. They are so worth it in the end. There's just something I love about a little mystery, a little question mark, a little bit left off the table for you to figure out all by your lonesome. That little nudge that makes you think, makes you scratch your head, makes you wonder in amazement. A nagging question, perhaps, or maybe a mysterious figure that you just can't place. Sure, it might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up a little bit but, hey, that's an emotion too, isn't it? Let's face it, well all like emotion as photographers, don't we? Even if they boil down to *that* kind of an emotion, it's still better than not feeling anything at all, right?

Yes, there's something about a little mystery in life that I really like. I chose this image tonight deliberately, since it's a bit of a mystery and I was going over some of my work from China. I thought it fit nicely and still can't quite remember what I did to make it happen. Yes, I guess it's that kind of image but, like, that's OK. I like a little mystery, even if I'm the one who can't remember it all. It's all well and good.

This is me, standing by some ancient forgotten gate in China somewhere. Lost. Just how I like it. And now, I guess, I hope you like it too. 

Until next time...

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - April 21, 2019

Bats flying across the night sky, Round Rock, Texas
I'm batty over bats, I admit it. Still, it's Easter Sunday and also time for some great opportunities for you so, without further ado, here goes:
That's a bunch of opportunities for you to go batty over, so please go out and get some.

Until next time...

A Pile of Rocks

Bats swirl from under a lamppost in Round Rock, Texas
Earlier this week fire ravaged the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Now, I have never photographed Notre Dame, I've not been to Paris or even France for that matter, and I was saddened to hear of the tragic loss. Sadly, Notre Dame has now become a place I will never get to photograph, since the fire caused so much damage. We all have photographic buckets lists and sometimes we get lucky and get to check items off but, alas, sometimes things just don't work out according to plan. I've learned to cope with this over the years, though it does weight heavily on my soul at times.

This week, I did get to photograph something special, although it was not Notre Dame, it was kind of magical in its own right. Interestingly enough, it started out rather ordinary, in fact, I almost didn't make it to the photo shoot at all. A photo group in town had slated a meetup in nearby Round Rock at, of all places, an auto parts store. This auto parts store used to be a little antique shop called "Cabbages and Kings" (in a nod to O. Henry who is actually associated with this area.) The antique store sounds like it might be interesting and, frankly, it might have been in its time as well, but the evening belonged instead to a local bat colony. You see, as it turns out, the former antique shop turned auto parts store is right across the street from one of the largest colonies of bats in the area. I was given good directions and a time for meeting but, as it turned out, I got a little bit lost along the way and got there a few minutes late. I also got stuck waiting on a passing train which, interestingly enough, is also a good photo opportunity from the same location.

The meeting time was just about sunset. After I had gotten lost and all but given up on finding the spot, I drove along the highway along a route I thought would take me back home. As luck would have it, I wound up driving right past the little auto parts store and managed to get there just in time. It was not quite sunset and the bats had not come out yet, so I parked, got out my trusty tripod, and joined up with the crew. I wasn't expecting much, as this was more of a social thing for me, but I wanted to check out the nearby bat bridge and also maybe get some early evening/dusk type of shots if I could manage it.

Turns out we had a fantastic evening. I saw a beautiful glistening moon above a pink tinged sky. The sunset was great, the night was pleasant, the colors in the evening sky very lovely. I met some old friends, made a few new ones, watched a train go by, and learned all about bats. All in all, it was a wonderful evening. Honestly, such a lovely night, in hindsight I would not have traded it for a shiny cathedral or a jaunt to some faraway spot.

Some of my favorite quotes are actually about cathedrals. "A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral," Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

"What are you doing?" a man asked of three laborers beside a building under construction. The first man replied, "stone-cutting," The second smiled, "puttin' in time until a better job comes along." The third man waited a moment and then said simply, "I'm building a cathedral!"

You would think that, given my fondness for quotes such as these, by now I would have learned that a cathedral is more than a pile of rocks.

We all build cathedrals in our minds. We can all find beauty in everyday things. We can all appreciate the ordinary. We can learn to craft great images where we stand, honestly, we all have that capability, we just need to foster a creative spirit and encourage ourselves to approach the world with a childlike sense of wonder. Cathedrals are little more than piles of stone. Their greatness lies in our hearts and vision. Sadly, Notre Dame has burnt down and I will never get to photograph it. I can't let this stop me, as I have a lot to photograph in my own little world. Cathedral of the mind, for sure..."Shoes-and ships-and sealing wax-of cabbages and kings." It's all right there before the shutter if you just stop long enough to pay attention I suppose.

Until next time...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Phthalo Landscape - I Love You Blue

A field of bluebonnets in Central Texas.

Leftover from my days as a painter, I seem to have developed a bit of a crush on a certain color blue. Now, when I say, "crush," I'm not talking as amorous as my current celebrity crush (ahem, Vance Joy in case you are not paying attention.) He really curls my toes as they say, and there's probably no coloring over that one. Alas, the blue really is a lust of mine, as I do seem to be carrying a torch for that dreaded phthalo.

It started out innocently enough. Back when I was doing an encaustic series, I guess somehow I had grown tired of swiping everything in brown, brown, brown, reddish brown, and more brown. Now, if I'm being honest, I have always been one for a limited palette. You can probably tell this from my photography, although it might not be quite so obvious if you don't know to look for it. Let's put it this way, I'm basically a three color gal. I'm also a bit particular about the colors into which I dip my fingers. I have to say, I love certain colors and shun others. Again, you could probably guess this from my photography as well, although not always in your face obvious, it's there for all to see. So, back to painting, while I was crafting my Santa Fe sunset series, I decided I needed some blue for the sky. The skies out in Santa Fe really are not ultramarine, let me tell you. No, Phthalo really does it justice (if you have never been to Santa Fe, you'll just have to trust me on this one.) I'm not usually one for deep blues, well I guess I wasn't until I broke out the Phthalo and then I feel in love. I can't help myself, I love that color. Somehow, we just bonded. It was the perfect shade and the perfect touch and it just fit oh so well. Now, I know you're not supposed to fall in love with a color. It's bad form, as they say. It's kind of like picking a favorite among your children. You just don't go there. You shouldn't, and I know but I did anyway. It's kind of like eating an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. Wrong, wrong, wrong on oh so many levels but still it felt good going down and, so help me, I really do have no regrets about it afterwards. Phthalo, I love you, I really, really love you. OK, maybe just a little lust early in the morning but there you have it. I confess!

Fast forward to Texas and the present day. I find it hard to get inspired with bluebonnet images. Yes, I know the bluebonnets are pretty and, yes, I know everybody wants to, no makes that has to, shoot them. Yes, I know I must do it too at some point but, you see, I just find it so uninspiring. There's just something about it. At the end of the day I feel like, even if I do a knockout wiz bang job, I'm going to have just another sucky bluebonnet image. I must confess. I really don't know what to do with these bluebonnets. I mean, sure, they are great to plunk your dog down in, or maybe your kid (if you even have kids) and take a couple of snaps but, beyond that, it's hard to get any real artistic meat out of them. They are like the SPAM of flowers here in the otherwise lovely Texas springtime. Great smelling and very pretty SPAM, mind you, but weird breakfast meat nonetheless.

So, what's a girl to do? I decided I would turn my love and appreciation for all thing Phthalo into a bluebonnet image. Now, as I traipse about in the weeds, trying not to trample what's left of the prized bluebonnets en route to crafting my wonderful obligatory bluebonnet image, my mind drifts to that Phthalo. That wonderful Santa Fe sunset sky blue. It's all I can think about these days. I love that blue, really I do. Yes, I know my artist friends are going to tell me, "'s so....INTENSE..." Yeah, I know. I get it. Intense. It is. But, what can I say? I just love that damn color, OK?

This time of year, our landscapes are almost Phthalo. And, I love Phthalo, really I do. I'm having a wonderful spring, enjoying my wonderful Phthalo landscape and, no, I don't really care if you make fun of me for it. Heck, I still have the Gin Blossoms in the shuffle on my phone. I just don't care what anybody thinks anymore. I'm so self absorbed I know but I refuse to deny myself the pleasure of Phthalo. "Hey Jealousy!" Don't be hating on my jam, m'kay? (C'mon, you know you love yourself some pretty intense Santa Fe sunset Phthalo blue landscapes now, don't you? 'Fess up already!)

Until next time...

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Great Door Knob Incident of 2019

Sometimes it seems as if the world is divided into two types of people and generally speaking you fall into one camp or the another. Take for instance the subject of housing. There are those who rent and those who own their homes. At first, I was a renter, a happy-go-lucky type who called the mystical magical "super" whenever anything went wrong. Ah yes, those were the days (the "good ole days" as they say.) Once you purchase and go the ownership route, oh my how things change. After you buy a house you find yourself doing things you might never have imagined yourself doing. It's a wild, wild world you live in now, let me be the first to tell you, if you haven't figured that out on your lonesome. 

Picture it. The other day I was working from home. It was a nice day. The sun was shining, the birds chirping, Chase was even being quiet...ah, the joy of it all. Life was good. (I should have known ...this is usually a sign that the bowels of Hell are about to open up yet again but, heck, what can I say? I'm an eternal optimist to a fault.) I decided to open the back door to, I don't know, maybe it was to let the dog outside. Heck, I forgot what I was even doing that set this chain of events off, but I was doing something that started with me opening the back door or trying to and that's when it happened. The back door knob you see would not turn. When I say, "would not turn," I mean it actually would not budge. It was as if somebody glued it in place and it was just not going anywhere. I've seen garden slugs more mobile, let me assure you. Nope, this thing was not turning, not one bit.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I'm a little bit, shall we say, generally speaking "handy" about these things. OK, I'll confess. I'm no stranger to power tools. So, being the power woman that I think I'm all cracked up to be, I decided I was going to take this task on myself because, well, because I wanted to go back into the yard again someday and, frankly speaking, who else was going to do it? I grabbed the tool box and, to quote the great philosopher Shawn Colvin, decided it was time for, "a few small repairs." How was I supposed to know it would end up this way? Ah yes, the joys of home ownership rear their ugly head yet again.

It started when I took the door knob off because, well, there were screws attached and, surely I thought this had to be where one starts when one wants to take something apart and fix it, yes? No. No. Not just no, but, "HELL NO, DON'T TOUCH THIS." (Seriously, if you ever, and I do mean ever, think it's a good idea to unscrew your door knob, just think of MC Hammer and go all, "you can't touch this!" on it. Trust me. You'll be happier, OK maybe just more sane, in the end.) I unscrewed the door knob and figured out (rightly so, I found out later. Um...much later but rightly so nevertheless) that the knob itself was attached to this thing and that thing was attached to this little thing and that thing was attached to this other thing that goes "chuk chuk" when you turn it and that little "chuk chuk" turnie thing was, in fact, broken. (Did you get all that? Good.) My first thought here was, "no problemo!" I can just run down to Home Depot and get a replacement. Great idea, right?

Um. Couple of problems here. For starters, I had taken the door knob off completely. It was on the floor (not a good look for a door knob if you ask me but, heck, there it was!) and then there was the other little problem of the "chuk chuk" thingie. I could not unscrew that out of the door easily. Because I could not unscrew it, and I didn't know what it was called, even if I had made it down to Home Depot, what was I supposed to do when I got down there? How was I supposed to ask for this thing? 
"Hi, Um, you don't know me, and I'm not usually this stupid but, you see, my door knob wouldn't turn. It sort of broke so I unscrewed it but then I could not get it back on or get it off again or...well, let's just say it's home on the floor now...but, was once attached to this thing and that thing was attached to this other little thing and that other little thing was attached to this other thing that goes "chuk chuk" when you turn it and that little "chuk chuk" thing? Yeah, that's the part that I need. You have one of *those* right? Because, like I need one of those. Oh, and I need it in a hurry because, well, the back door isn't shut right now and as we speak somebody is probably breaking into my house because the door knob is on the floor. If I don't hurry home, it might just mate with the door mat and then what would I have? Some kind of mutant ninja Franken-backporch going on and, why, the thought of *that* just scares me, OK?" 

Yes, I'm sure I'd get lots of help after that one, right?

The door knob was on the floor. The back door was open. I tried to just screw the door knob back onto the door and I could not make that happen. It just wouldn't go. Even if I got close to screwing it in, the pieces didn't quite fit and I could tell the little "chuk chuk" thing was still broken. Oh the humanity! What I would not give for a mythical magical "super" at this point. I had inadvertently created the great door knob incident of 2019. I was never going to live this one down. LeSigh.

I broke down and decided I needed a professional. I called a locksmith. He asked me a couple of questions and told me he could come over that evening after six. Of course, as you can imagine, he fixed the door knob in what amounted to all of about fifteen minutes of work. The little "chuk chuk" thing? Yes, it was the part that was broken. Yes, I needed a new one. Yes, I was right about the entire thing. It even has a name. It's called a....wait for it....a latch. (Now you know.)

The locksmith wasn't too expensive and was actually pretty nice. He put some oil on a few other doors while he was here and fixed the "latch" on the other door as well (to keep it know.) In the end, everything worked out OK although, in hindsight, I probably should have called the locksmith in the first place. I even told him, I had to confess, "Yeah, I tried to repair it myself and then the knob would not go back on, would not come off, just wound up sort of stuck where it is." Thankfully, it's no longer on the floor. I guess you can chalk this one up to experience. There you have it. Carol: sometimes good with mechanical things, always good with Bourbon.

It's working now no thanks to me and the great door knob incident of 2019 has now turned into something we shall never speak of again. Well, maybe by "never" I mean actually as soon as you stop laughing at me. You are going to stop laughing at me sometime soon, aren't you? (Eh, you must be a renter. Lucky slob. Enjoy it while you can, believe me, enjoy it while you can.)

Until next time...

Opportunity Weekend - March 31, 2019

Image of a deep forest, off the beaten path, somewhere in Texas
This weekend I took a walk in a deep forest. I was lost. Sadly, I found my way back home again, but I am all the better for having escaped. Enough about getting lost, it's time I found you some opportunities. Here they are:
That's a long walk into the woods of opportunity for you. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Until next time...

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - March 24, 2019

This is my vision for "Something About Trees" for the Scavenger Hunt of Sorts and, in case you could not figure it out from the image, I've started playing around with the concept of "trees: real or imagined" in an odd way too. Enough about me, it's time to get some great opportunities for you. Here they are for this week:
 That's over 22 opportunities, some even have trees, for you. Good luck!

Until next time...

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Scavenger Hunt of Sorts

It's time for a Scavenger Hunt of sorts. Now, this is not going to be an ordinary Scavenger Hunt, no. I'm not going to go out and ask you to do stuff like find a mailbox. Nope. This is going to be a Carol style Scavenger Hunt. By that I mean, I'm going to make you think for it. OK, so maybe there will be a couple of obvious ones. I can't help myself for that. And maybe you'll see a few familiar items in the list too, stuff relating to "feathers" and perhaps my current employer. There will be crazy items on the list for sure, and stuff that will just make your scratch your head because, well, we're all about head scratching here at Carol's Little World. But, for the most part, I wanted this to be fun, and quirky, a bit odd, did I mention quirky? Yeah, that.

So, the rules. Let's see. Any media (you can paint if you want to, up to you!) I am encouraging you to do one or more items from the list. Making the list long so you don't have to do all of them and can choose, pick your poison as it were. The compositions should be new but can incorporate older work if necessary. If there is enough interest, I will kick in a gift card to the "winner" of sorts. If you email me one or more of your entries (2000 pixels on the longest side please, JPEG format, thank you very much) you could get featured on the little old blog and have bragging rights for the ages. Deadline sometime in May or when I just get sick of getting weird images filling up my inbox.

That's it. That's all there is too it. Good luck, get started, get going, and have fun!

Carol's Unofficial Scavenger Hunt List
  1. Crisis and Paranoia 
  2. Not What I Had In Mind
  3. Caught a Ghost
  4. Cry Me a River
  5. Look Sharp
  6. Silently Raging
  7. Not big, AMAZON
  8. Something About Trees
  9. All This and a Bag of Chips
  10. I was One Once
  11. Not My Real Work 
  12. Poets are Mysteriously Silent on the Subject of...
  13. Purity, Parity, What's the Difference Really?
  14. An Audience of One
  15. My Kingdom of Saints Fell Silent When...
  16. Chocolate 
  17. A Nocturnal Event of Sorts
  18. I Didn't Think it Would Actually Move
  19. Like Snow on the Sahara
  20. A Buzz
  21. As Pleasing As Light Itself
  22. Some Kind of Marvelous
  23. The One Thing We've Got 
  24. Doors are Portals too, Aren't They?
  25. A Tight Squeeze of Sorts
  26. I Never Knew Red Lipstick Could...
  27. Blasphemy!
  28. Vision, Insight, or Luck Perhaps
  29. You Animal! 
  30. Gone but not Forgotten 
  31. To Get to the Other Side
  32. Stars
  33. Don't Touch That!
  34. I was Never Fond of the Color Red
  35. Little Talks
  36. Love Letters to No One In Particular
  37. Why Me?
  38. The Number Eight
  39. It Passes for Transportation 
  40. Light as a Feather
Happy hunting!

Until next time...

Opportunity Weekend - March 10, 2019

Spring is in the air and it's daylight savings time again. Yippie! One of the things I love about the post daylight savings time days is that they bring lots of opportunity for us to shoot in that wonderful golden light. It seems to last all the way from about four or five o'clock at night until the sun sets which, these days anyway, is now around seven (and growing later each and every night.) I love that. Even if we don't get a cool sunset, we usually get somewhat of a blue hour this time of year. Oh, be still my heart, how I love me a good blue hour. I live for blue hours, really I do, and that golden light is why I became a photographer in the first place.

Talk of light aside, it's time for another opportunity weekend. Here are some opportunities for you this week:
Don't forget to set your clocks back and get some opportunities this weekend.

Until next time...

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Sleeping with Electronics

Detail of electrical components
By now you know about my current obsession with FitBit. Actually, part of the reason I'm so enamored with FitBit is because the electronics help monitor my sleep. Those of you who know me in person (*waves*) probably know I'm a chronic insomniac. On a good night (let's face it, most aren't good) I get just under six hours of sleep, with barely enough deep sleep for my aching bones. It's true, I have trouble sleeping, and technology helps by monitoring how well I'm sleeping, how much time I spend in each stage of sleep, how many times I wake up in the night, and a whole lot more. It's actually pretty helpful, considering I wear what's really just a wrist watch in disguise. One of the down sides of this is that, well, if you want electronics to monitor your sleep activities, you have to wear something while you are sleeping, and lots of electronics and a groggy Carol don't always mix all too well.

Now, I've gotten somewhat used to sleeping with electronics. The model I have is one that, when you turn your wrist or move your arm, the clock turns on and you can see what time it is, otherwise it remains dark or is supposed to anyway. One of the little "quirks" about this is that sometimes when your turn your arm, the clock does not come on like it should. As you can imagine, sometimes while I'm sleeping and my arms are flailing about, the clock wakes up and I'm blinded by the light from the display. It's quite piercing in my darkened room and this little "feature" has woken me up several times now but I try to take it in stride. The technology is not quite there yet and so the clock comes on when it's not supposed to and remains off at times you want to turn it on. Groggy Carol soldiers on.

Since I am a chronic insomniac, I try to actively take steps to help my sleep. Technology has some gifts here too. I'm supposed to sleep in a dark room, just the right temperature, avoid screen time, caffeine and alcohol before bed, exercise regularly (and also not just before bed) listen to soft music, and do things like read before bedtime (rather than watching TV.) There are a host of others but you get the idea here. I'm also supposed to kick Chase off the bed but he's a regular fixture, so much so he often takes up more than his share of the bed, leaving me uncomfortably curled up in a little ball, but he won't budge so I'm pretty much stuck. I do try some of the other things on the list as they do seem to help out, if only for a little bit, and I use things like a smart thermostat to help the temperature in the room remain suitable for sleeping.

Light itself can be a problem. For a while, I had an alarm clock that was blindingly bright, shining in my eyes, and keeping me awake. Now replaced with an Alexa device, I can talk to Alexa and it allows me to select a face for the clock that is not glaringly bright. This little Echo Spot is actually very nice as I can tell it to play music too. I've even selected music to help, classical music mostly, stuff like Brahms, Fur Elise, Itzhak Perlman, Debussy, and Yo-Yo Ma. Alexa has trouble with classical music sometimes, as my New York pronunciation of Itzhak Perlman does not usually yield good results. Still, it's better than the glaringly bright alarm clock. Technology is not perfect but I find it often gets more closer than nothing at all so I tend to stay the course.

I've been thinking about getting a new mattress as well. I currently have a sleep number bed and have been toying with the idea of getting a newer one. An interesting thing about the sleep number is that they are adjustable and also feature electronics to monitor your sleep. The beds actually monitor you and adjust the bed while you are sleeping in order to, so the theory goes, get a better night's rest. The idea being the bed can raise and lower you, as you are actually sleeping, in order to put you into a better position. Frankly, I'm not too sure how I feel about a bed thrusting me around in the dark as I sleep but it's supposed to work so I may give it a try.

While I love the idea of having all these electronics, as you can imagine there are some gaps here. Since FitBit, Alexa, and Sleep Number are all made by different manufacturers, they weren't designed to work together. That is, FitBit would not know Sleep Number is also monitoring my sleep and Alexa knows nothing about sleep at all, she just purrs music at me upon request. Technology is wonderful when it all works. It's actually great to be able to monitor my sleep and these devices really do help make me more comfortable but my brain can't help but jump to some worst case scenarios here.

Picture it. I'm in bed, trying to sleep. Chase has hogged the bed and I'm curled up into some sorry little fetal ball in the corner, helplessly trying to get some shut eye. It's two in the morning and I can't sleep so I start tossing and turning, finally drifting off just a little bit when I move my arm slightly, maybe to keep it from cramping or some such thing. The FitBit kicks into gear, shooting a laser like high beam into my eyes, waking me up instantly. The sleep number bed, thinking I'm restless suddenly catapults me into a new sleep position, actually hurling me across the room. Flying through the air, I crash land into the wall but now I'm thinking no problem, I got this. "Alexa, call an ambulance!" I cry out, only to have her respond.

"I can't find Itzhak Perlman 'Ambulance' playing 'Ambulance' by My Chemical Romance instead."

As I'm sitting there, slouched in a ball in the corner of my room now completely unable to sleep, with music blaring, Chase looks at me the way he always does, with that half poodle stare, and that judgemental look on his doggie face. I know what he's thinking, he doesn't even have to bark at me. "More than 14 billion opposable thumbs on this planet and that's the best you can do? Really? Man's best friend, my ass. I should have hitched my wagon to another species. I wonder if it's still not too late. Maybe I could shave my curls off and take my chances with a pod of dolphins. You humans are too stupid for words!"

Sleeping with electronics. "You don't know a thing about this life," indeed.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - March 2, 2019

A macro detail of a dandelion puff with dew drops on it, Cedar Park, Texas, USA

OK, so I must confess. I am a sucker for dandelion puffs. I just love them and, quite frankly, the way I tend garden, why, they become downright plentiful this time of year. Weed work aside, here are some opportunities for you this weekend:
That's a lot of puff in the wind for you this week.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Opportunity Weekend - February 24, 2019

Passport and compass against a map background, Cedar Park, Texas, USA
Time to take your art on tour. Here are some great opportunities for you this weekend:
Your art can travel a lot if you let it out of the cage some, right?

Until next time...