WPC- Focus

I’m getting a late start, but wanted to get into the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge (Focus). I usually try to take photos with very clear focus.

But sometimes I want to try for a different effect. I like to play with reflections, light trails, water, sun, atmosphere. All those things can make for more interesting photos than a clearly focused one can sometimes.

Slow Day

I took the day off today. Didn’t do much but make a grocery run (for a good deal on steaks). I also got around to spraying my plants with ‘insectisoidal soap’. I’ve been trying to grow a garden since I’ve been home so much.

I stick to plants that don’t really need much care. I have a big lemon tree, lime tree, orange trees, pineapples, grape vines, pomegranate, raspberries, asparagus, and I’m even trying cucumbers and green beans this year. Last year something happened to kill off my pomegranate, raspberries, cucumbers and a couple of grape vines overnight.

I tried calling the county agricultural agent (which was pretty useless, they can’t tell much over the phone but insisted it was something in the soil and so nothing I could do about it). I tried researching online but can’t really find anything that really describes what’s happening to my plants. So, I just went to the store and bought stuff that’s supposed to help.

Yesterday I noticed some sort of infestation on my lemon tree. First time I’ve seen it. I sprayed it down pretty good and keeping my fingers crossed it will help. I also sprayed the pomegranates and cucumbers. I think the cucs are already beyond help, but maybe the pomegranate can be saved. IF this stuff works.

Any gardeners out there?

Girls Gone to Galveston

Hey! We just got back from Galveston. It was a long day.

I’m not a morning person, but got up early to finish getting my photos ready to take up to the gallery in Galveston. I had to sign them, figure out the best mat to use with them and then figure out which frame fit best. It took a while.

I loaded up my truck and headed to the beach to pick up my friends. I didn’t think we could all fit in the cab with my big painting (49″ x 44″) in the back seat, but we managed to fit all the artworks in the back seat and all 3 of us in the front.

Lucky, I found a spot to pull up close to the shop for long enough to unload my stuff. The lady who I’ve been dealing with wasn’t there. I left my big painting there and traded out a few others. I took the rest of the stuff I brought across the street to a new place (Metamorphosis) that I learned about last time I was in Galveston.

My friend was talking to the owner about making a sign for the place while I was busy across the street. I brought in my photos and set them out for the lady to pick which ones she liked and thought would sell. She liked all of them. 🙂

So far, nothing has sold. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My friend is really hoping to get the sign job too. She’s been a ‘starving artist’ for a long time. Somehow I never thought that’s where I would wind up in life.

I do enjoy it, but like my BFF always tells me, “somebody always has to buy the beans”. For that to work, somebody will actually have to buy some of my art one of these days.

We tried a new place for lunch (recommended by the coffee guy). It was a pretty interesting little deli type place called Old Moon. We sat upstairs where they had a couple of nice comfortable couches to relax on. We ate our lunch surrounded by cool old photographs and paintings of dramatically lit cats (and dogs) dressed to the nines.

I had a Monte Cristo sandwich, it was really good. I’d never had one like the way they made it before. It had a little bit of honey on it, on the outside of the bread. Nice touch, but made it a little sticky to eat. I didn’t try a pie. They looked delicious, but I always eat slowly and I didn’t want to keep my friends waiting any longer. I did try a brownie and it was really nice. I even saved some for dessert tonight. 🙂

Check out the painting. Cool dog, huh?

New Challenge: Topic Generator

I just found Jennifer Nichole Well’s latest challenge. It’s a ‘topic generator’ that takes a random phrase and then adds a noun. She has a list of 6 topics (so far). I chose photography. This is what I got when I clicked the button…

experiment with the photo/editing topic Self-Portrait by using or taking a photo of Foot

This is what I came up with. I’m not one for selfies, I don’t really get that whole fad. Actually, I really don’t like having pictures taken of me at all. I did manage to find this shot I took a while back as I was chilling out by the pool on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.

One Word Photo Challenge: Giraffe

Here’s my entry for Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge: Giraffe.

Last November I went on a photography safari in Tanzania where I took these photos. It was fantastic! I went on safari with Great Escape Publishing, they’re great at running their trips. I always have fun and learn a lot while I’m at it. I can’t wait to go again!

Going to Court Tomorrow

Hard to believe we’re still wasting our resources prosecuting people for this sort of thing. I mean really!?

If I asked you to go pick up a gallon of milk for me and gave you the money to pay for it, do you really think you should be hauled off to jail for doing me a favor like that?

REALLY???

I think this whole thing is just one more example of a completely out of control government that has taken over damn near everything in this country.

I am sick to death of hearing about this sort of shit happening every day, right here in this “free” country. I am so, so tired of all the people around me spouting out the supposed wis(h)dom that “we live in a democracy”, so we just have to put up with whatever stupidity ‘our leaders’ decide to manipulate the majority of the pubic into going along with.

NO WE DON’T! We DON’T live in a democracy, we live in a Constitutional Republic! And we DON’T have to put up with this kind of ridiculously stupid shit they’re trying to shove down our throats and call it ‘the law’!

Here is a quote from the email I got…

After several delays, Harris County is pressing forward with the prosecution of a woman who picks up raw milk from a licensed farm for herself and others.

 

We ask that if you are in or near Harris County, please support this woman & local food consumers by appearing at the trial in Pasadena next Wednesday, June 14. Details are below.

 

While the Texas Department of State Health Services initiated the harassment of raw milk farmers and consumers last summer, it later stated that it will not pursue customers who are making legal purchases, nor the people they hire as agents to pick up milk for them. (Read more here .)
But Harris County is still pressing forward with the trial to prosecute this courier.
The County has been given the written agreement, signed by individual customers, in which they made the woman their agent and asked her to pick up milk on their behalf from a licensed, inspected dairy. Not one customer has gotten sick and no one has complained.
People pick up groceries for each other all the time. Every day, FedEx and UPS deliver food ordered online. UberEats and numerous others provide home delivery of food. None of these hold food establishment licenses. Yet the County claims that this raw milk courier has to have the same license as a restaurant or food truck.
While the prosecution is motivated by anti-raw milk bias, the legal principles are not limited to one product —   the regulation cited by the County applies to all foods.

Can you help defend this woman —   and, in the process, defend your right to ask someone to pick up food from a local farm for you?We need as many people as possible to be in the courtroom next Wednesday, to send the message that the raw milk courier has the support of the community. 

The judge and jury need to see that local food supporters are not a fringe group —   they are just regular people who want to provide healthy food to their families.

 

 
TAKE ACTION: Come to the trial!
WHERE: Justice Court, Precinct 2, 101 South Richey, Suite B, Pasadena, TX 77506
WHEN: Wednesday, June 14, at 1 p.m.
WHAT: After you enter the building, turn left to go to Judge George Risner’s courtroom at the end of the hallway. Enter quietly, and take a seat.
PLEASE be respectful of the proceedings. Any disruption will hurt the cause, so no signs, no verbal outbursts, no applause or groans, etc. You can do the most good by conducting yourself in a calm, professional manner.
They will have lapel stickers available so that you can identify yourself as a raw milk supporter. We want a large, visible show of support for the raw milk courier!

I plan to be there tomorrow. I will do what I can to support this woman and anyone else in similar circumstances. I fully support the people’s right to eat, drink, buy, sell, and use ANYTHING as long as they’re not hurting anyone else. Anybody in the Houston area, feel free to join me. 😉

I also strongly support the fully informed jury amendment and the idea that all jurors, in EVERY case, are there to judge the law itself- NOT just the facts of the case- no matter what lies the judge and legal system may say about it. That is, in fact, the entire purpose of the jury! What is the point of having a jury if they are only supposed to follow the directions of the court?

I admit, I don’t really pay much attention to eating right. I eat a lot more junk food than I should. I don’t spend extra money on organics or shop at farmers markets (I hate getting up so early!). But. I most definitely DO support the rights of the people who do want to pay attention to healthy eating and who want to make their own decisions about what to do with their lives, their bodies, their health, their time and their money!

I will go to court tomorrow to show my support. I hope to see a lot of others there doing the same. I hope to see that we can at least show the judge and jury that there IS a lot of community support for this. The right to choose, the right to live as you want (as long as you don’t hurt anyone else), the right to healthy food, the right to run a business, the right to freely associate, the right to freedom!

Want to know more about raw milk? Check out a few of these links…

http://ij.org/case/florida-skim-milk/

Food Freedom Project- Institute for Justice

Texas Real Milk

http://www.foodrenegade.com/texas-forces-raw-milk-dairy-dump-700-gallons-of-milk/

Art, Architecture & Antiques in Galveston

My friend D called the other day and invited me on a trip up to Galveston for the day. We decided to leave around 1000 so we wouldn’t get there ‘too early’ or stay ‘too late’. Our friend B, the artist, wanted to check out a place she had heard about to show some of her art.

I was all for that. I have been working on some arty stuff myself lately. I found a couple of places to show some of my work a couple of months ago. I was curious to see if there had been any interest (at all) in my work.

It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot yet when we left. We got stuck in some of the cruise ship traffic on the way in, but found our regular parking place near the Strand (only $10/day). There are a lot of interesting shops in that area of town so we checked out a few.

Lots of really touristy stuff right on the Strand, but wander off it a little and there are more small businesses with local people trying some cool projects. One of those is the place I have some of my paintings and photos- From the Heart Gallery. They show all different kinds of work from at least 20 different artists. They also play good music and have classes for kids. 🙂

While we were there, S told us about a new place -Metamorphosis- just opened across the street. We wandered over to take a look and had a nice conversation with Liz who is really excited about getting her shop up and running. Looks like both B and I will have another place to work with. 🙂

We were getting hungry and since we were right there, we decided to give the Star Drug Store a try. They had a really interesting window display with all the old ads, pills, and elixirs from way back when. It claims to be the oldest drug store in Texas. It feels like an old fashioned soda fountain inside. Looking over their menus, I can see why it’s so popular.

We showed up right at the end of lunch hour, but it was still packed. We sat at the bar since there were no open tables. D had already ordered and B wasn’t hungry. I ordered a cheeseburger (my favorite meal) with a chocolate float. 🙂 The cheeseburger would have been 10 times better if they had grilled the bun. Considering how long it took to get it, I didn’t want to ask them to take it back. I ate most of it anyway. 🙂

Their ice cream sundays, floats and cakes really got my stomach growling, but since I already had a chocolate shake I passed on dessert. Diets suck!

I love this sign!

After fortifying ourselves, we started making our way over to the place B wanted to see, on Broadway and 22nd St. D and me were taking pictures of everything. I especially like all the really cool architecture. Lots of different building styles, from classical to island bungalow.

Along the way, we stopped in to check out a few art and antique shops. Lots of really neat stuff! If I was rich…

But I’m broke. So. I had to adhere to my budget and not buy anything but ice cream. 🙂

B bought a cute little statue of a meerkat. D bought a couple of small mementos in one of the antique shops. My taste is too expensive, I would have bought a beautiful ruby ring (if I had still been working).

I think we were all kind of disappointed in how quiet it was. It just seemed dead. I know a lot of people haven’t returned to Galveston after the devastation of hurricane Ike, but it’s been almost 10 years now. I would’ve thought more people would have shown up by now. For a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon, the whole place seemed deserted.

these plaques all around the Strand refer to the 1900 Great Storm- not Ike

We’re planning to go back up there in a week or so. I need to change out some of my art at the From the Heart Gallery and maybe I’ll be able to put some across the street at Metamorphosis too. B is hoping to get a shot at making a sign for them too. 🙂

I was really hoping to hear some good news, that something of mine had sold. But nothing yet. The area around the Strand is becoming known as an arty kind of place. They have ‘art walks’ every 6 weeks. Those can bring in some crowds. We are going to try to make the next one.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order

I was at work last week (finally!) and while taking a break I was watching the fish swimming around the ship. It was a beautiful calm clear day, one of the few like that I saw in the month I was offshore. It was entrancing watching the fish swim around.

They mostly moved together, it looked like some sort of order. Was there a boss fish leading them all around? If there was, I sure couldn’t tell which one it was. They all just seemed to be meandering around, then all of a sudden they would change direction. All together. Weird. Spontaneous order.

I know some people don’t believe in such a thing (especially when it comes to human society). I see it all the time.

There have actually been studies done on how fish school together like that. On birds too. 

The science behind it is pretty interesting, but I think just watching is cool. Too bad we seem to have lost the ability to just sit and observe nature. That’s one of the things I love the most about working at sea. I haven’t even been home a week and I’m already missing it.

Check out more on “order” from the Daily Post here.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Buildings

Cee always has some interesting challenges going on. She posts some gorgeous photos and the people who join in put some really good one up there too. Everyone is welcome to join in.

I don’t usually work in B&W, nor do I do much fiddling around with my photos. I may crop them a little, or straighten the horizon, but that’s about it. I can see where it can be a lot of fun playing around with the editing software. Here’s what I came up with…

Galveston has some really cool architecture. I was up there a few weeks ago, trying to schmooze my way into some of the art galleries up there (I actually succeeded and have some of my stuff up at From the Heart Gallery now). 🙂

Thursday’s Special: Portrait vs Landscape

I found another photo challenge by Paula over at her Lost In Translation blog (thanks to an old friend blogger Cee for sharing).

All you have to do is compare a vertical (portrait) version to a horizontal (landscape) version . Choose any subject you want.

I took these photos a couple of months ago. I drove up to the Dallas Travel Show and stopped on the way home to see some of the Bluebonnet Trail. I really wish the weather was better. Would have been fantastic if the sun was shining rather than the dreary rainy day it was. But the flowers were still blooming and made up for the weather.

 

Songs of the Sea: Some Beach

I’m still here in Huntsville (Alabama- NOT the prison in Texas!). The TBEX is over now, but I’m not flying home til tonight. Checkout time is noon and the art museum across the street doesn’t open til then, so I figured I’d try to catch up a little and post. 🙂

This song by Blake fits my mood pretty good this morning. There were lots of representatives from the Gulf Coast states (and their beautiful beaches) at the TBEX, Blake is from Oklahoma and they were there too.

The TBEX has been great. I met tons of really interesting people. Everyone has a story and so many are bloggers.

The breakout sessions were full of great information. I hated to miss any of them, I appreciate that some of the presenters gave out links to their slide shows so I’m hoping I can go back later to see the ones I missed and review some things I didn’t really catch.

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, but I still don’t really know what I’m doing here. 😉

Our destination hosts here were fantastic. The Von Braun Center, HuntsvilleNorth AlabamaAlabama, and the US Space & Rocket Center really went all out to show us a great time here in their city. We spent the days learning how to blog better and networking with destinations. Nights were spent at special events held for us around town.

I arrived on Thursday (10 mins late for my scheduled tour to the Redstone Arsenal to taste the craft beers). I spent the afternoon at the hotel catching up on emails while chatting with other bloggers waiting for our rooms to be ready. The hotel made the waiting much easier to bear by offering free massages and blackberry mojitos. 🙂

Check out my instagram pic, I’ve got to run and check out, will have to finish this later…

Having a Great Time in Huntsville

It’s been a whirlwind of activity since arriving in Huntsville Thursday afternoon. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions and amazing parties every night.

I’ll write more later, getting ready now for another party at a place called Campus 805. It looks like an amazing venue, but I doubt it can beat the US Space & Rocket Center last night. 🙂

Huntsville CVB has really done a fantastic job of hosting the TBEX and all of us travel bloggers. 🙂

Stronger

I’ve spent the last week, plus so far this week, getting by on less than 4 hours of sleep per night. I was in the “Train the Trainer” course last week and then taught Basic Fire Fighting this week. It’s been killing me! I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep. Not much time to spend on blogging or anything else.

Tomorrow I have the day off and will try to catch up on sleeping again since I am leaving early Thursday morning for the TBEX in Huntsville, AL. I doubt I will get much sleep while I’m there either.

I’m looking forward to finding ways to improve my blog, meeting interesting people, and exploring the area around Huntsville. Are any of you going to be there? Anybody know of ‘don’t miss’ things to do/see in Huntsville?

Z is for Zanzibar- #AtoZChallenge

Z” is for Zanzibar. And the last post in this year’s A to Z Challenge! I can’t believe I managed to finish and post for every letter. Usually, in these long challenges, I get so far behind I just give up. I’m glad it’s over tho. It’s hard to find time to post every day.

I have to say I loved Zanzibar! I was there on vacation last November. I took a long trip for a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing. I really enjoyed the safari. We went all over the Northwest area of Tanzania. From Arusha to Lake Eyasi, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti…

It was fantastic! We got to see all kinds of animals from our jeeps. The drivers were great at finding the game. We would sit quietly and watch them do their thing while we furiously took thousands of photos. 🙂

It was a week of amazing experiences, but a week of early mornings and late nights. I was exhausted at the end of it. I was glad to have scheduled some extra time before flying all the way home to Texas.

I had thought about climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. It is on my bucket list. I just didn’t think I was up to it at that point. I wanted some rest and relaxation. I decided to head over to the nearby island of Zanzibar for a few days.

Wow! Such a gorgeous island. Stone Town is intriguing. It has an interesting history, it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the days of the Sultans as you wander the winding lanes of the old town. The people were friendly and eager to show you around town, or entice you to buy their specialty spices or colorful paintings.

   

The food was cooked with exotic local spices and served with a smile. The night market near the docks and the fort was a great place to hang out. I liked to grab a fruity drink and watch the sun go down before wandering around and choosing a cook for my dinner.

 

After a couple of days in the city, I headed up North to relax on the beautiful white sand beaches. I spent a few blissful days relaxing under the casuarina trees, wading in the ocean, sailing on sunset cruises and SCUBA diving around the area.

 

The diving was excellent! Best I’ve seen in quite a while. I saw lots of colorful coral and all kinds of sea life. I brought my camera, but only one dive was shallow enough for me to use it. 😦

  #sea cucumber #Zanzibar

It’s a long, long way from Texas, but if I ever get the chance to visit Zanzibar again, I will definitely take it!

Y is for Yarn- #AtoZChallenge

Y” is for Yarn. Nice that I can use this post for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post, especially since I am behind again on the AtoZ (it’s actually finished already). I don’t know why, it seems like I’m busy all day every day, but I never seem to get caught up!

Here’s my yarn… 

I took these photos during a photography workshop with Great Escape Publishing in Washington DC a few years ago. I had just bought a new camera (Canon EOS Rebel T3). I was there to learn how to use it.

I’ve been trying for years to figure out a way to earn an income without having to be out on  a ship. I’ve spent my whole life working at sea, but it’s a very cyclical industry and lately has been getting much, much harder to keep working out there.

I could see my future unemployment and really wanted to find some way to be able to support myself while not having to be somewhere specific. I really wanted to move outside the USA. Somewhere more affordable and less stressful.

I had heard about stock photography. It seemed to be a way to possibly earn enough to get by on. I started trying to get accepted onto Bigstock, I-stock, Alamy, Canstock, etc. I didn’t have much luck. I was constantly rejected and had no idea why. Some of them told me why, but at that point I didn’t understand what they were telling me.

So, I went to take the course. I learned a lot. One thing I learned was that I really didn’t need that fancy new camera! I almost never use it now. It’s too big and bulky for me. I have had quite a few photos accepted taken with my favorite little Olympus Tough (it fits in my pocket and it’s even waterproof). 🙂

X is for Xcaret

X” is for Xcaret. Xcaret is a pretty cool attraction on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Not too far from Cancun. They call it an “eco-archaeological park”. It’s one of those tourist attractions your hotel will try to set you up with, which was how I found out about it.

I was on vacation with a friend in Cancun a few years ago. I’m past the point of spending my vacations just drinking and partying. I like to explore the place I’m in. My friend is older than I am. She likes to learn about new places too, but at a much more relaxed pace.

We decided to check out Xcaret since it looked like it had enough things to do so that we could both do different things and neither would get bored.

I was really into the whole idea of drifting down the underground rivers, snorkeling with dolphins (extra $$$), and checking out the Mayan ruins. She was more into watching the local dancers and talking to the other tourists while drinking a few cold ones. 🙂

We met up when I took a break at the end of a river run. I went quite a few times before I was ready to try snorkeling. I was disappointed with the snorkeling tho, it was really nothing special. At least not where I was. I saw lots of rocky limestone lagoons, I don’t remember seeing coral. Plenty of fish, but not a lot of variety or color. Maybe I just missed the good stuff?

Neither of us did much exploring of the terrain. I did take a walk around the lagoon, but it was very hot and I couldn’t wait to get back in the water. The landscape was just not that interesting to me. I saw a lot of iguanas and a few brightly colored birds (but I couldn’t ID them). We both really enjoyed watching the shows. The dancers were fantastic.

V is for Vegas- #AtoZChallenge

V” is for Vegas! “Las Vegas” technically, but what the heck. I figure I can play a little fast and loose with the technicalities, right?

So, I actually made (most of) this post a couple of years ago. The last time I went to Vegas.  It was for a challenge using the word “dreamy”. But I figured, it never really changes much there. So, why not do it again. 🙂

Here goes…

I already posted one photo from my trip to Las Vegas, but it’s such a dreamy kind of place. I thought about it and came up with some more ideas.

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’. Then I posted some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

Las Vegas really is a dreamy kind of place. I think it’s one of those places that’s built on dreams. All kinds of dreams going on there. People go there dreaming to hit the jackpot and get rich. They go there hoping to hit it big and make a name for themselves as a singer or a dancer or chef or…

I love to hang out in old downtown. It’s not like the Strip (which is interesting in a different way), where things are spread out and isolated. Every casino has it’s own attractions and you pretty much stick to one since it’s a pain to move on to the next.

Downtown is different. Everything is close together. There’s lots to do (Mob Museum, Container Park, Neon Museum), and all kinds of things going on. Fremont Street is the hub of all the action. There are at least a dozen different casinos all within easy walking distance. It’s easy to hit one for drinks, another to eat, try the poker at one, blackjack at another…

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. You can go zip-lining right over the top of all the crowds. There are artists at work, lots of little shops along the street. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play. 🙂

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               

T is for Travel- #AtoZChallenge

T” is for traveling. One of my all time favorite things! I love a good book, but I love it even more when I’m reading it in some new place, somewhere I’ve never been.

My last trip was a big one. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for a while. I pretty much accept now that I won’t be able to go back to work for months, if not years. Until I start ‘earning a living’ again and have more than enough to just barely pay the bills by using up my savings, I won’t be going anywhere.

I did go to the big Travel Show in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. That was just to see what’s on the RADAR. Exploring what I can work on for my new travel writing and photography career.

I took a detour on the way home, stopped in Ennis and did the Bluebonnet Trail. The flowers were beautiful. Fields full of bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and other spring blooms.

I will be going to the TBEX in Huntsville AL next month. I’m really looking forward to that. I hope to make some contacts and improve my blogging. 🙂

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite travel quotes. I hope they inspire you, like they do me. Enjoy. 🙂

     

Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush

Here’s a post for Cee’s Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush. 🙂

S is for Spike- #AtoZChallenge

S” is for Spike. Today, I’m posting about the letter S for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post. I love it when I can do double duty here. 😉

It’s easy to come up with S words, not so easy to come up with things to say about “spike”. Then I remembered those beautiful doors from my last vacation. Stone Town, Zanzibar has the most ornately carved doors. Many of them have spikes, “to keep out the elephants.”