The Gardens (Weekend Shoot)

This is a collection of the best shots from my visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. My goal with flowers and butterflies and such is to experiment with showing texture and detail, even up to the point where you can no longer tell what the photo is of (see Banana Tree and Leaf). Enjoy!

Solitude (Day 5)

Hidden Dock in Gardens

A hidden dock at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

This is another image from my shoot at the Botanical Gardens, but I thought it (kinda) fit with the theme since there are so many hidden nooks and crannies set up in the Gardens that you can feel perfectly alone even when surrounded by hundreds of other families.

Having already taken a Photography Class in school, I knew a little bit about the Rule of Thirds already, and use it a lot in my photos. For example, the couple is on the one-third line from the right, the trees take the two-thirds line from the bottom, and the bridge ends on the one-third line from the left. Yay for the power of three!

Bliss (Day 4)

Cows in the Mud  - taken June 11, 2015

Cows in the Mud – taken June 11, 2015

Although I personally love horses and cats more than I love cows, I had this picture in mind (sorta) before I set out on my bike in humid, sunny heat on Thursday to find an idyllic farm to photograph. I had a different vista in mind, which actually didn’t quite work out the way I thought as my point of access didn’t offer anything worth shooting. However, on the way down there I saw these cows hanging out in their mudhole. They appeared quite happy to me, and I figured this could be a version of Bliss – relaxing in the shade on a sunny day, deep in the cool mud, taking a nap next to all your buddies. So this is Bliss…. for cows.

Water (Day 3)

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So, oops! I got behind on my assignments for this course! I had taken some shots for this post but none of them were really any good, so I kept putting it off and putting it off until I went for a photo shoot at a local Botanical Garden. I went off on my own on a rock by the side of the pond across from the Children’s Garden and noticed the lovely reflecting surface of the water – how it made all the colors a little more vibrant while maintaining clarity since there was little wind. And thus I snapped this shot.

Personally, I love water. I love bathing and swimming and looking at it – admiring waterfalls and oceans and even puddles. I think it is amazing how this one substance supports all of the life on Earth. And even though it can be dangerous, I still like to show off its beauty in my photos.

I Feel Cheated

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This is just a short rant-like piece about an extremely minor and almost first-world problem-type disappointment I had today – since I’m supposed to be opening up more and sharing stuff like this, right?. As you may know based on a post from yesterday, I recently graduated high school, and am going to start University next year. This causes some angst, naturally. Minor freak outs. Feelings of not being prepared. Denial and procrastination that won’t help anything and may hinder it.

I also happened to be binge-watching The Gilmore Girls today while cleaning up my room – something to pass the time and keep the house from getting too quiet, no? I reached season 4, episode 1, and found myself feeling cheated. I expected that Rory would have time to have a minor freakout after getting back from Europe and before being bundled off to Yale. Instead – how lucky! – she realizes she wrote the date down wrong and orientation is in three days. Not enough time to flip out, sitting alone in her room in the middle of the night – in fact, that’s barely enough time to buy all the things necessary and to pack it all ready to go!

I guess this is my reward for relying on a TV show to teach me my way through life, no? Anyway, felt I should share my inane little temper tantrum with you in the hopes that it will illicit a laugh or two or start some sort of discussion.

Chance Encounters

I went for a (5-mile) walk with my mother this evening and met some lovely fauna along the way, which I did my best to document without scaring them too much!

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I’m especially proud of this one because I managed to capture the lovely orange evening sunbeams, even if the bunny is a little understated in the photo. It captures the serenity of the evening even without the addition of the bunny.

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Although this one is not the best laid out and could do with a little cropping, I was excited that I actually caught the bunny in mid-leap since he was moving at such a fast clip.

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I almost chose this photo for my Photography 101 photo assignment of “Street,” but I felt that as pretty as it is, it is still a pretty conventional view of a road and that it could still be shared here.

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I was disappointed to find that the camera had focused on the leaf and not the butterfly – but I was still glad to have captured this little beauty as the majority of the butterflies in the area fluttered away as soon as I entered a five foot radius of their surroundings!

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I almost used this one for my street assignment as well! I was very happy with the capturing of the sun – but the rest of the photo wasn’t quite up to par. It was still worthy of sharing!

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I was inspired the other day by Merry Hearts Medicine’s post about strange photographer selfies and thought this was a fun photo to capture! I almost considered using this for the Photography 101 Water Assignment, but figured I could take something better tomorrow. I found a deep puddle filled with miniscule tadpoles, and in trying to capture them in my shadow, I ended up take a selfie (kinda)!

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At first glance this photo may be a little confusing and I almost didn’t share it because it’s not great photography but since this is my blog and I figured I’d share my findings from my walk, I wanted to a say a little bit about this moss. The moss is in the second stage of its life cycle – the sporophytic stage. You can tell because of the little stalks sticking out of it (in this picture, the yellow dots). The sporophytic generation is a non-dominant occurrence, meaning most of the time the moss looks normal. It also means the plant is diploid – or has two sets of chromosomes (like humans, and most things) – instead of being haploid like it normally is.

I only thought this was worth sharing because I actually knew this information. I took AP Biology my senior year and had the most wonderful teacher – and for some reason all the info about plants really stuck with me. I knew he would be pleased that I retained this useful piece of information and was able to point it out to myself, and I thought it was fun that I could recognize it.

Anyway enough of me spouting scientific jargon at you. I hope you enjoyed these (out of order) photos of my little adventure this evening!

Street (Day 2)

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I took some liberty with my definition of a street for this prompt and included an access road (a trail, really) rather than an actual paved street. My mom and I went on a 5-mile walk so I could show her my running route and we could get some nice pictures as well (she also has a blog since I may or may not have wheedled her into it – Travels and Tails), and since this was the last stretch of our walk, I unofficially named this piece “Only a Mile or Two Left!” I had the staging of this picture in my head the whole time and all that was left was for the lighting to turn out well. Unfortunately, the sun had just gotten down behind the trees leaving me with soft lighting and a sort of cool, overcast tone which I am also pleased with. I realized after the fact that this picture also works well since her shirt is a contrasting color from all the green of the flora around her, so that was an added bonus.

I did get some other nice shots, including one of a slightly terrified bunny who really didn’t understand these creatures who were giving it a wide berth but clicking incessantly and staring at it as they went. Although this one won for the assignment, I’ve posted them under my photography page since I think they are good as well.

I really enjoyed this prompt as it helped me get out of the house and go for a walk in some lovely natural areas easily accessible to me – even though I met two giant spiders and I am not the 8-legged arachnid’s biggest fan. And it was good to have some time shared with my mother.

Hello World! – Take 2?

As a part of Blogging 101, the wonderful course offered by the Daily Post Blogging University, our first task is to set goals – to write a similar post to the first prompt they ever gave us back at the beginning of our blogging career. Having only blogged for four months or so, and at that irregularly, I thought I’d set some new goals, take another stab at doing this blogging thing. For review, and for people who don’t want to scroll all the way down to the bottom of my blog, I figured I’d copy my original statement here:

Hello, world! This post is like a chick’s first view of the world just as it has cracked open its egg – there are so many things to do, pages to see, words to write down….

For now, I’m hoping this blog can be a conglomeration of works and art pieces and tidbits. Possibly, I will eventually start to direct it towards something or other as I find my way around the world and start to develop opinions on things. As far as longer works like novels, I plan for the present to continue publishing them on Wattpad – as that is the most user-friendly novel/long story publishing arena that I have found so far. I hope to write about any and everything I find in the world around me because the world is big and beautiful and writing helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings about everything I encounter.

Why did I take the leap from private journal to public blog? I took that enormous, unpredictable, yet possibly hugely gratifying leap because my work deserves to be shared and it is always good to get public discussion and commentary on the things that roam around in my head.

Hopefully, over time, this blog will mark my growth as a writer, artist, and useful specimen of the species Homo sapiens, and enable me to connect with young writers and philosophes around the world.

Well. Wasn’t I just the optimistic sort. Enough reminiscing, I suppose – it’s time to get down to business.

Who am I? And why am I here?

I am female member of Homo sapiens who just graduated high school. I love writing and reading and creating art and riding and music and… let me stop myself before I bore you. Put simply, I am you – a person who’s ready to share her ideas with the world, maybe tell a story, maybe just show off a teensy bit.

Why am I here? Frankly, I don’t even know. My friend Heather (who also has a blog: Heather E. Walton) and I were bored sitting around waiting for Government class to start, so she grabbed my laptop and started signing me up for a WordPress account. All she wanted was for me to put my poems out there – she disagreed with my self-criticalness (is that even a word – never mind, you know what I mean) towards the words I’d written and was physically pushing me to put stuff out there. I quickly caught on and started branching out and enjoying it.

So here I am – an overly critical writer (but aren’t we all) who loves dashes – can’t you tell – and parentheses (pretty sure you’ve noticed that one) who just needs a little guidance and motivation to get her blog started. To continue with the assignment….

Why am I blogging publicly instead of keeping a personal journal? I am keeping a personal journal. It holds what I’m feeling and what happened  and all sorts of similar memories. Did I miss a memo about what my blog holds? Oops, rewind… I’m not really the type of person who actively shares parts of my life with other people, but it would be good for me to be more open about things, so I figured I’d start with my brain-children – stories, rants, photos – and take it from there. In prediction of the future when I share things about myself I created a page to put posts on. But until then, I’m content like this. I’ll get there, someday.

What topics do I think I’ll write about? Hmm. To avoid the general answer of: EVERYTHING, I figure I’ll narrow it down a bit more. I’ll write about the daily prompts I’m given. I’ll write op-ed pieces about subjects that relate to my life like maybe a comparison between women in Morocco and women here (that’s been sitting in my draft box for a long time). I’ll write a personal piece or two on how I’m feeling, or some big topic that’s roiling around my head like the boulder from Indiana Jones that I just need to get out onto “paper”. I’ll write little bits about the art I share and the poems I post. And who knows where I’ll be in six months, you know?

Who would I love to connect with via my blog? Anyone, really, if we’re honest here. Since I can’t drive and I live in the middle of nowhere, I don’t spend a lot of actual time with any friends from school. I love getting feedback on and about my blog – comments, likes, follows (again, who doesn’t, really?) because it makes me feel like someone is actually reading it – sheer view count could mean someone clicked by accident and simply pressed the back button. If I’m really dreaming, I’d love to connect with some really good bloggers. Back when I was an active member of Wattpad (And I still try to be – halfheartedly), I always looked up to Erin Latimer, who wrote good fantasy literature, and had a youtube channel with some other writers. When I found she had a blog, I followed her immediately. Someday I would love to actually connect with her rather than follow her on every form of social media, which feels to me just a tad bit stalkerish. But, all in all, I’d just like to extend my web a little bit and get some regular followers.

If I blog successfully throughout the next year, what would I hope to have accomplished? That’s a big, big if. My hope of accomplishment is to simply blog successfully throughout the year…. but in an actual answer to the question, I’d like to have written continuously for a good bit of time. I’d like to see improvement in my photography skills. I’d like to have a few likes and comments. But most of all I want to enjoy the process of writing, because that’s what really matters.

I’ve written about a thousand words or so about myself now – I hope I can accomplish these sort of goals as we go along – even when I go to college in the fall. And I’m sure Blogging 101 is going to help me get a head start on that, for sure.

Nightbane

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Nightmares.”

“Shelly! You look like you’re about to fall asleep right here on your feet! Are you sure you don’t want to take a nap?”

She shook her head, fighting back a yawn and trying hard not to sway as she stood, leaning on the doorframe as inconspicuously as she could.

“I’m good, thanks.”

“Come on, come sit down next to me. There’s nothing you have to be doing – why don’t you relax for a bit.”

“Darren, you’re sweet, but I’m good, I promise.” She wiped her face off and started straightening the books on the table, puttering mindlessly to keep herself distracted. She felt his hands on her shoulders, guiding her towards the sofa, and didn’t have the energy or will to resist. He helped her lie down on the sofa with him, her head resting on his chest.

“Honey, why haven’t you been sleeping?” He asked, quietly, as he arranged the afghan over the two of them.

“Nightmares,” she muttered, fighting to keep her eyes open.

“Want to tell me about them?”

“Not really. I wish I could just sleep without waking up more tired than I started.” He wrapped his arms around her.

“Try now. I’m here – it’ll be ok.” She sighed, adjusting her head slightly.

“Can’t hurt to try, I guess.”

Without further prodding, she was soon fast asleep – and instantly transported back to her childhood home, around the time when she was 15.

Her mom had recently broken up with her boyfriend of a year and a half – Jake Sullings, a firefighter and training instructor. Shelly had liked him okay – they didn’t agree on several points which she considered important, and he could also be a sexist pig, but she could look past that if her mother could. It was over now. 

It was a bright sunny afternoon and she felt she should do some cleaning. As she was dusting off the piano in the front room, she saw Jake’s old green SUV pull into the driveway, and froze. Why was he here? What did he want? She knew better than to go outside, instead, she turned off all the lights, locked all the doors and windows, and went downstairs, closing her door, and waited, listening. 

The front door opened and he came into the house with his heavy boots, making no effort to be quiet. She remembered too late that he still had a copy of the house keys. She barricaded her door with as many things as she could shove in front of it, then opened her window and climbed out, quietly. She ran into the woods, just deep enough where he couldn’t see her if he looked out but she could still see the house. She caught a glimpse of him carrying a gas can around the corner of the house and then disappeared from her view. Within seconds, the entire house was ablaze beyond repair, and she had a stroke of panic as she remembered the three cats were still inside it. It was too late for them now.

A hand descended on her shoulder and she jumped. In her panic she had forgotten to avoid Jake. She turned to see him smoking a cigarette – which was unlike him as he knew the dangers of any type of smoke. He blew the cloud of smoke into her face and she fell unconscious immediately.

She awoke in a tent with her hands tied. Sitting next to her in the same predicament was her mother, spitting out her gag and working at the ropes around her wrists. 

“Mom! You’re ok!” Her mother wrenched her hand from her ties and went to work on Shelly’s. “You gotta watch out for the cigarette – it knocks you out.”

“We gotta go now if we want to escape.” They crept out of the flaps of the tent and saw there were more tents around them and that it was early dawn. They took off running quietly through the fields of dewy grass and heard shouts behind them. Jake and several other equally brawny guys were chasing them with their cigarettes and they were so much faster and there were clouds of steam and clouds of smoke and she fell, choking on white mist….

…and awoke with a start, trembling. Darren jerked awake instantly and sat up to comfort her.

“Was it the same nightmare?” He rubbed her back as she gasped for air. She nodded. “Tell me.”

She did, the words tumbling off her tongue and spilling over each other like water. “A-and I don’t know why I’m having these dreams they broke up over 10 years ago and he never did anything like this and it’s horrible and I can’t shake it from my head and I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared….”

“Shhhhhh,” He pulled her in close for a hug. “It’s ok – he’s gone, it won’t happen again.” They lay back down again on the sofa and she entwined her fingers in the folds of his shirt. The adrenaline in her blood gradually dissipated and her heart rate went back down. She felt his chest rise and fall slowly and his arms around her back and she smiled, because she knew that nightmare would never trouble her again, and in the event that a new vision of equal horror should pop up, she would be able to fight it back down because there was someone who cared willing to help her through, no matter what.