Just checking in

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So I’m feeling pretty guilty about not having appeared here for months (!) after being so gung-ho about blogging regularly again. After a bit of reflection, I realize that I was mostly enthusiastic about others blogging regularly again.

😉

I’ve been busy with the new job, of course, and busy sitting on my butt in the air-conditioning. This knee thing has really thrown me for a loop and I’m just now getting to feel better after a month of physical therapy. Why that dopey doctor I went to didn’t recommend it for me, I don’t know. I’m just glad I decided to be proactive after suffering for 3 months with barely any progress and so grateful to have good health insurance to pay for it. It’s really made all the difference in my ability to function like a regular person again. We’ve planned a camping trip this weekend and I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to hike without pain.

Other than work and physical therapy, I haven’t done much so far this summer other than try to avoid the heat. I still don’t know how people stand it here – I’ve got major cabin-fever! We’re sharing season tickets for the Braves and have been going to a couple of evening games each month. We’re discovering new favorite places to have breakfast on the weekends. We’re eating ice cream more often than is probably healthy. My brother and his family came to visit for a couple days at the beginning of July – it was super great to see them and to show off some of the fun things we do here in the A. I’ve been reunited with my dog Luka from that other life and just last week said goodbye to the senior shelter dog, Sadie, that we adopted only four years ago.

I bought myself a new camera lens – a super wide angle – and look forward to playing with that in the future. J and I went out the weekend that I bought it to take some photos of the tall buildings in midtown Atlanta, but ended up at the High Museum of Art as a way to escape the heat and enjoy some free air conditioning. I’m not much of an art museum type, but I enjoy the High and it’s folk and modern art. The photo that accompanies this post was taken there.

I plan to be back here in a couple days to share some memories of Sadie – once we’re back from camping in the mountains where hopefully it’ll be cool!

Calling all zombies!

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So!

A couple of friends on FB have been lamenting the demise of our blogs. We all seem to mostly agree that, coupled with life changes or varying degrees of laziness/lack of interest, the popularity and ease of Facebook put the final nail in the coffin of what was a very happy time in our lives. All the writing. All the sharing. All the feels.

😉

We miss blogging and we miss our blogging community. Some still blog regularly, some occasionally, some never do – but a couple of us have decided to give it a go again and see if we can’t get back some of the magic that we used to share here, in this way. Isn’t that exciting?!?

Wonderful sweet Jayne suggested that prompts might be helpful to get our writing juices flowing again, if need be. I like the idea of prompts, so long as they’re not too restrictive, or too predictable. So in thinking about it and considering how much we all seem ready to write / talk / make excuses (?) for why we STOPPED blogging, it occurred to me that an interesting prompt might be to think and write about why we STARTED blogging. Others of you may have already addressed this at some point in your blogging career, but I don’t think I ever have…

So what do y’all say? Can this prompt lead you somewhere interesting? Will you join us as we try to resurrect our dead or dying blogs? Zombie Bloggers Unite!

:-)

Comment here if you’re in!  We’ll promise to read and give feedback; that has to be part of the bargain if we’re to feel like a community again.

Many, many thanks… I’ve missed you!

Just shooting

IMG_5639Since being back in Atlanta, I’ve gone out with a couple local photography groups to participate in meet-up events; I’m doing this to meet new people and hopefully find new, interesting places for photography, but also to maybe learn some proper photography techniques.

We went a couple weeks ago to photograph an abandoned Astroturf factory and later in the day visited Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens. The gardens are a dizzying, dazzling maze of sculptural monuments, embellished outbuildings, found-object assemblages, and elaborately painted signs, all interconnected by a series of inlaid concrete walkways. I visited there a couple years ago and was happy to find the gardens in better shape than last time. There’s even a new visitor’s center (and a much expanded “gift shop”). It’s an interesting place and worth a visit if you’re in the area or have a particular interest in visionary or “outsider” art. This summer while in NJ, we took a day trip to Philly and visited the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, which have a similar feel, but on a much crazier scale.

At any rate, what I enjoy most about meeting and shooting with other photographers is the opportunity to see how each of us approaches photography differently; we all share photos on Instagram (via a common hashtag) and it’s really interesting to see the various perspectives and points of view of others in the group. We’re a diverse bunch, with varying skill levels from novice to professional. If you’re interested (and on IG) check us out with #atlantaurbanphotowalkers.

Ghosts of an ugly past

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The Gold Dust Twins have been hidden from view for more than 90 years on Auburn Avenue in d’town Atlanta, but a 2008 tornado and the recent demolition of an adjacent building have uncovered this hand-painted ghost sign from the early 1900’s when Sweet Auburn was a thriving African American business district.

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The Gold Dust twins were one of the earliest brand-driven trademarks in American advertising during the late 19th century that drew heavily on negative African American racial stereotypes. The twins were often comically depicted, along with a huge stack of dishes in a washtub, and the images appeared on product packaging, in print advertising, and full-color murals painted on buildings throughout the South.

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Despite what many consider to be one of the most racist ad campaigns in history, there is talk of what place, if any, this iconic piece of history has in the revitalization of the Sweet Auburn district.

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On its route up and down Auburn Avenue, the shiny new d’town streetcar passes the Gold Dust Twins and then this mural of Congressman John Lewis; I hope the incongruity of images sparks conversation among its riders.

Shine on

I was the-lady-behind-the-snowy-owl in a thousand photos taken that night!

Given the opportunity, I’ll complain to most anyone who’ll listen about how much I hate living in the city, but I have to admit (however grudgingly!) that it does have its perks, one of which is the Lantern Parade. It’s such a fun event and is unique to ATL…

It feels like everyone in the city comes out and it’s a crazy riot of colorful people (and their mostly homemade lanterns) and music. A group of us from the Atlanta Audubon Society walked the two mile route together with our lanterns decorated with birds – mine had monarch butterflies – along with an estimated 15K others. It’s a wonderful event for the community; participants come up with a crazy, creative variety of ways to add color and light to the parade and people line the pathway and rooftops to watch. It’s held each year to celebrate the opening of Art on the Beltline, an exhibition that I hope to post about later in the week.

I found the video below to give you a peak at the view from above… I especially like the dusk shots at the beginning with the skyline in the background and at the end from the after parade party in Piedmont Park!


Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade 2014 – Filmed By American Drone Industries from E.T. Phoned Home on Vimeo.

Art Seen (Erased)

“Each person can take it the way they want to, because it is for everyone …and at the end, if it gets painted over, know that the gray paint will not hide the fears of no one, but if anything, it will make those fears more visible” – Hyuro

Photo from Creative Loafing

“Paint on this wall made for a beautiful mural, people talking about it made for a beautiful conversation. A public space was created and all of a sudden this dead intersection became more human. The mural belonged to all of us, to the ones that liked it and to the ones that didn’t, it was our dialogue, it was our challenge, but now it’s gone. Now we are back to ignoring that space again, now we are back at thinking that erasing the evidence will make us think this never happened… – Monica Campana, Founder and Executive Director of Living Walls

I never had the chance to see Hyuro’s mural before it was buffed over. The neighborhood didn’t understand its message or was threatened by the nudity it depicted. In its 37 “frames”, a woman grew fur and shed her coat; she then morphed into a wolf and walked off. I’m not sure that I understand its message either, but I can see clearly the value of such art, if only in its assault on the blight that is most of Atlanta.  I’m not sure of what anyone could find so terribly offensive in the almost cartoon-like images of this mural, especially considering what we’re all exposed to on tv and in print media, every day.

I’m not sure, either, that you have to like a particular piece of art in order for it to improve your quality of life. What say you?

The sunflower farm

Boy… time sure does fly when you’re not paying attention!

I was about to tell you about our visit to The Sunflower Farm, but then, poof! and 3 weeks had gotten away from me.

There’s an actual festival here each summer, but I’ve yet to brave the heat and the crowds to attend. As it is, no matter how mild you think a particular day is, once you’re out in the middle of that ten acre field, it’s hotter than blazes!

The farm itself is beautiful and is a picture-maker’s delight. I first heard about the place because so many photo groups visit it. I go to pick flowers, tho.

I’m not sure there’s anything more cheerful than a field of sunflowers, except maybe for the bees and birds that visit it.

: )

I wondered aloud to the farmer if they sell the leavings for birdseed.

Nope, but they sometimes hunt the doves that are drawn to the seeds in the fall. That’s okay, too.

There’s plenty to photograph, here. Red (and green) tractors, old farm tools and a beautiful hummingbird garden. There’s even an enchanted forest nestled on the back of the property. And if you want directions to the little local place that sells the best homemade strawberry-cream cheese fried pies, just ask!

Plus, you get to keep as many sunflowers as you can carry away for $15.

: )

That makes for many old mason jar bouquets.

If looks could kill…

another grumpy PAWS Atlanta adoptable kitty!

“I dare you to take a flattering photo of me!”

Probably this is not her best look.

: )

Aside from the obvious cattitude, I need help from my photography friends with black cats and dogs. Unless there’s sun streaming onto their fur, they so often look… well, blech! What can I do about that? Any hints?

Does this photo make me look more adoptable?

So I’ve been taking photos of some of the adoptable dogs and cats for the PAWS Atlanta website for a couple of months now. I started volunteering there shortly after we adopted Sadie. At first, I assisted their photographer by helping with equipment set-up and herding the animals during their photo shoot, but after a while the regular photographer moved away and I was promoted to full-fledged official volunteer pet photographer.

; )

As volunteer gigs go, it’s pretty sweet! I don’t have the fancy studio set-up that the other guy did and I don’t usually have an assistant and I mostly don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but it’s so much fun! And oftentimes there are puppies and kittens to be photographed and loved on and snuggled some, too!

The cats are often a challenge, though. Or they’re a different sort of challenge than the dogs. The last couple visits I’ve been met with running, hiding, hissing and spitty kitties. I try to reason with them, but not being a cat person, I can’t seem to get them to understand that they’re not doing themselves any favors by looking so… so… dangerous! 

; )

I would encourage anyone with photography skills and a love for animals to consider offering your talents to a local shelter. The time spent befriending the animals (even the meanest of scaredy-cats) is therapeutic to us both, I think, on a personal level as well as in the quality of the photos. A happy, comfortable animal makes for a more beautiful photo; both of which make their adoption more likely!

You can see the pets currently available for adoption at PAWS (as well as some of my photos of them) by clicking here.

Building a better taco

As a kid, I loved having tacos for dinner, but could hardly convince my dad to ever make them. I guess assembling all the proper parts was too much trouble. What I’m sharing tonight are not tacos, but something better, I think.

Jay calls these “Poor Man’s Tostadas” and we had them for the first time last week before our first Braves game of the season. They came together quickly and were delicious! We started with a corn tostada instead of a taco shell… important to the stability of the end product, I think. We used warmed refried beans spread in a thin layer over the tostada as the base for the yummy things and as a “glue” to hold it all together.

We made a meat-free version, hence the “poor man” title, with boiled carrots and potatoes in place of any meat. On top of that we added a crumbly Mexican cheese called queso fresco, diced tomatoes and diced jalapenos.

The final touches were sour cream, fresh cilantro and a green tomatillo salsa.  All very yummy!

A proper approach is necessary, so that you don’t lose the whole thing in your lap. It’s definitely worth the trouble balancing it all, though. I’m trying to dream up something besides potatoes and carrots that might be used as an alternate… any ideas?