Poppies for Memorial Day

Red poppies are worn on Memorial Day to honor people who have given their lives to protect the freedom of the citizens of the United States. Not only that, but the VFW sells the paper “Buddy Poppy” to help veterans and their widows, widowers and orphans. This tradition began with the inspiration from this poem written by Colonel John McCrae.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

For more details see this link to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

This link to USMemorialDay.org credits Moina Michael as the first to wear and sell the poppy for remembrance. She also wrote a poem reply the above poem.

“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”

Today, on Memorial Day, take a break from the celebrations, cookouts and other festivities that we enjoy on this long weekend for the “National Moment of Remembrance.” At 3 PM, please observe this Moment of Remembrance and respect, by pausing from whatever you are doing for a moment of silence or listening to “Taps.”

Growing Poppies

To me poppies are very beautiful, delicate and intriguing flowers. Flowers are some of my favorite photography subjects too. My gardening skills aren’t great though. Luckily I know people who have an incredible green thumb and are gracious enough to let me wander aimlessly around their yard for a day trying to capture all the beauty that I see.

One of my neighbors enjoys gardening and camping, so she needs someone with special watering skills like me. HA! I can keep plants alive for 2-3 days – no problem.

Being Memorial Day weekend it is their first trip this year, so I got a special treat when I went into their back yard for the first time this season. My two small “hose assistants” wandered back there first and came back quickly to say “Mommy, it is BEAUTIFUL back there!” I was surprised by many more flowers than last year. Of course I wanted to just run back to my house and grab my camera, but I had a job to do first!

While I was watering I was thinking about how to capture all the different flowers and it seemed like I could have a pretty cool collection of images. Of course, I would also want to share those images with you here. Then my mind wandered to the other gardens I have been invited to photograph and it gave me a great idea to feature these gardens here. So look for those features coming up soon.

Back and forth I wandered with camera in-hand several times this weekend. For now, in honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to share one of her poppies. She has amazing poppies that grow in her front yard. I see the brilliant color from across the street. These things are the size of dinner plates! Really they are 7-8 INCHES across. I measured them. They always seem to bloom right around Memorial Day too. They are not red colored though, but I figured that was something I could
alter in Photoshop. Does it look convincing to you?

Poppies for Memorial Day 20160531My watering stipend was permission to cut one of those babies. When I asked, she knew my plan. “You are going to take pictures, aren’t you?” I wanted to get that flower inside out of the breeze and with lighting I could completely control. These are the things that excite me. The best part is she is also going to give me a seed pod so next year I will have some of my own! In fact, many of the flowers and plants in my yard were given to me by her.

Thank you, Marley for the inspiration that blooms every year. Happy Memorial Day to you all!

Bedside Books for Reading Therapy

Do you do this? I always have a pile of books next to my bed. This is what is there right now. Since I started writing here my intention has been to share more of the books I love with you. However it usually takes me longer than it seems like it should to get through a book. There are just so many responsibilities, muses and interests that take priority.

Oh, and there is a stack. Usually I don’t read through just one before I move on either. Evening reading is often based on my day. Struggling with the kids’ behavior pushes me to pick up the parenting book.  If I am trying to work out a plan for a photography project then I choose a technical photography book. A total lack of creative motivation or a surge of inspiration drives me to a book that will push me creatively.

Then there is the fact that if I don’t write about a book as soon as I finish it I feel like I need to re-read it to write about it. Right now, my reaction to finishing a book that I learned a lot from or have been moved by is to just sit, think and soak it in. Then life rushes in, time passes by and after that I feel like I have to immerse myself in that book again to tell you precisely why I felt it was so powerful…

This sounds like a never-ending cycle, doesn’t it? So sharing this with you is helping to reprogram my reaction and enlist you to keep me engaged and motivated to finish these great books. Thank you!

So for now I will share my reactions to these books as I read them and what has earned them a spot (and kept them there) on my nightstand.

Starting at the bottom is Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting written by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua and published by Focal Press. I have the Fourth Edition, but there is a newer edition now available.

If you are interested in photography and want to get serious about creating better images this book is an awesome investment of your time and energy.  The principles of understanding and crafting light in your photos are fully explained with diagrams and photographs of both successful and unsuccessful examples. Working through this book will dramatically improve your photography. Yes, it is about light, but it is not “light reading” and as I mentioned that best way to fully understand the concepts in the book is to shoot intentionally in attempt to recreate the presented material. It is a highly regarded book that is often used as a text book and is great as a self-study guide. I used this book as I learned how to light glass for photography and developed my DIY home studio method that I talked about in this article for Digital Photo Mentor.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, the author who wrote Eat, Pray, Love)

This book is about the creative process, embracing it, enjoying it and surviving it! When it was released our local library system got about 40 copies! They were anticipating best seller status with their initial order and all copies were all checked out immediately! There was excitement about this book from the start. I got my hands on one of the copies from the library, read a little – and stalled out. I don’t know why, but I think it was my own frame of mind at the time. Even thought I knew there was a waiting list and I would not be able to renew it, I couldn’t push myself to get very far. Luckily for me, I was given a copy as a Christmas gift. When I finally did pick it up again, I couldn’t get enough. There were a few late nights soaking up every word because I just didn’t want to put it down. Now this is one of those books (like this one) that I am so excited and inspired by that as soon as I finish that last page, I flip to the first page and start reading it again!

If I Have to Tell You One More Time…: The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling by Amy McCready

Just the title says a lot, doesn’t it? It sounds divine. Ahh, yes I was daydreaming of it just now. Again.  So, the principles in this book are based on the ideas of Alfred Adler (Alderian Psychology) that simply states “Children deserve dignity and respect.” “Three of Adler’s principles developed from this belief will influence all the strategies in this book.” (Read the book to find out the three principles.)

I appreciate this approach because I want my boys to grow up knowing they deserve dignity and respect. If they don’t get it as children, when will be the magic time that they feel they deserve it? I certainly don’t want them demanding it with rebellion. However, even with the best intentions, there are days when we are tired or stressed or overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. This book offers real life examples of how to examine our children’s behavior (as well as our own) and how those behaviors play together. We learn how we can be a positive influence on our children and develop a deep, meaningful, trusting, caring and close relationship with them leading to all the wonderful day-to-day benefits in the title. My bookmark was about ¾ of the way through from the last time it was on the nightstand when I felt that situations and scenarios were warranting that I brush it off and start again. While I’m reading now I found this quote on page 56 that explains my feelings as I instinctively reach for this (and other parenting books) in the first place. It is something I’ve felt, but hadn’t tried to communicate. “…as responsible parents we need to continually strive to improve on our own parenting style.” Yes! Thank you, Amy McCready. By the way, that sentence starts with “Of course, we all make mistakes, but…

Daily Peace: 365 Days of Renewal by National Geographic

This little hardcover book is a great gift for a friend or yourself. It features beautiful photography and thoughtful quotes each day to inspire your own “Daily Peace.” The book is published by National Geographic so you know it is top quality. It is difficult to choose just one quote from this book so I looked at meaningful dates for me and I found this one to be the most powerful. I will leave you with this quote since it is a perfect thought for when you are snuggled in bed, with your books back on the nightstand and the light off. “How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day.” –Anne Frank

What Next?

Myakka TrailHere I am. Talking to myself!


This blog has been a plan for longer than I care to admit. Now I am here. Thinking… What should I say?

This photo was taken in 2007 while I explored Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Florida. As I walked (I remember) not knowing what I would find next – and I was eager to find out. Now I realize my photography and mindset while shooting has changed a lot since this was taken. I still like this photo and the way I post-processed it to accentuate details, saturate the colors and give it a soft, dreamy feeling back then. It seems appropriately symbolic now.

So I sit here trying to figure out what to say, “What is next?” because I have ideas and projects I want to share. I am inspired everyday by so many other interesting and generous people who share their ideas, work, thoughts, projects and processes. They demystify things that are unknown to me so I can learn, grow and enrich my own world. My hope is that I can do that for you too.

And yes, as I write this is only a message to me, myself and I. Surely this  journey will be all those things to me. However, my hope is this path will lead me to many other wonderful, interesting people so we can connect. Will it be you?

If you would like to see “What’s next?” please connect with me and subscribe here.