Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thoughts and Ideas About Journalling

I have been thinking about journal keeping and artist journals.

There are so many opinions about what should and should not be in a journal. I'll talk first about what I've read and my own experience and at the end I'll share my new opinions.

I began keeping a diary of writing when I was nine years old. It was the type that held five years of information in it yet only gave you about four lines to write in. I still have this diary and re-read it recently. In it I documented the weather, what I ate for dinner and what special things happened that day, like a big snowstorm, or me being sick and staying home from school. That diary didn't last long. I remember feeling that I wanted to write more but was breaking the rules if I wrote more than the four lines.

When I was a teenager I began keeping another diary. I found this in my saved papers about a week ago and was horrified to see what I had written. I was surprised that I was so honest with some very private details. I was also using a lot of profanity and saying things I'd never want my parents to read. The date indicated that it was September of my ninth grade year which put me at age 14. The crazy thing is I hope that my own kids are not the way that I was back then. Is that a bad thing to think?

I had kept a few journals in my adulthood but tapered off. I was using those as a brain dump type of journal where I'd complain and write out the bad stuff going on in my life to 'get it out of my brain'. However I'd never want to re-read it as when I looked back on it I thought I was over-reacting. Other things I was embarrassed about and didn't want anyone to read.

I was inspired to keep a different kind of journal after reading two books by Danny Gregory: Everyday Matters and The Creative License. Danny Gregory feels that we should look to the bright side of things and to document what we see and feel, but the good stuff, not anything negative.





I read some journals by artist Dan Price and in those he documents things he sees and does. These are simple things. These are not complaints or journals filled with negativity. How to Make a Journal of Your Life is about journalling and shows some of his journals. The other two are copies of his journalled entries for your reading pleasure (Moonlight Chronicles and Radical Simplicity).







In reading the journal pages of artist Teesha Moore, I see she documents a combination of what is on her mind, what she is doing and seeing and other times focuses on making art on the page then putting down a quote she likes in fancy artful lettering. (See Moore's website for examples of her journals. She publishes and has published zines and magazines which you can buy through her site TeeshaMoore.com.)

In reading The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, I see that Edith Holden's nature journal was filled with exquisite watercolor drawings of things seen in nature. She also documented things she saw, the weather, and poetry related to the season or creatures she saw. This diary is very intimidating as many of us regular people cannot draw or paint in this manner. The last thing I'll say is that Holden went out in a way that is unbelievable: while on a nature walk she fell into a stream and drowned. At least she died doing something that she loved!



In the book Wild Days, homeschool mom of a bunch of kids Karen Skidmore Rackliffe writes of spending days in nature with her children to escape from the stresses of regular life. The whole family is encouraged to keep a nature journal but each child does the journalling to a different degree. The author keeps her own nature journal and has taught herself to become a good artist using the power of observation and practice.



In Sabrina Ward Harrison's books, (Spilling Open, Brave on the Rocks and The True and the Questions) the first two which are copies of her journal pages, we see honestly and raw thoughts. We see the good and the bad, the fears and the worries, the happiness and the joys.







When I read Wide Open by Randi Feuerhelm-Watts, I was seeing new ways to journal and to be honest. That would open up journalling to yes, include negative thoughts or to document stressful things. We were encouraged to be real in our journalling.



In True Colors we see copies of some pages from artist journals. These journals were part of a round robin journal project where each artist started a book and chose a color combination. The journal rotated through 14 artists and each had to make an entry using those colors. That book is a visual feast. It is more about making art filled pages in colors rather than writing and sharing thoughts in a written word format.



The last book I read about journal keeping was Journal Revolution by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino I read encouragement to journal our thoughts, whatever they may be. We are encouraged to write out and make art about the negative things in our lives, too.



There are so many other books about art techniques that can be used in artist journals. Those talk more about technique itself, giving ideas or teaching certain techniques. The ideas in those books can be used in many different applications. Some of my favorites are The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery by Karen Michel, Alphabetica by Lynne Perrella and Artist Journals and Sketchbooks also by Lynne Perrella.







My Concluding Thoughts
In the end I think we all should do what we want to do regarding what, how, and why we journal. Our journals can be mostly writing or mostly art or a balance of the two. We can choose what we want to put in them. Those who choose to document their lives including the not-so happy parts are free to do as they please. Those who want their journals to be all happy and light can do that too.

If we choose to journal we should use the journal for our own means. We should not feel pressured to copy what others are doing. We should not feel constricted by rules. We should do what we want and have fun with it.

If a certain artist likes to use paint we should not feel mandated to use paint. If a certain artist prefers watercolor but we don't use watercolor paint we should not feel then that we should not journal. If an artist likes vintage images in collage we should not feel we have to use vintage images.

We probably would all be more creative and free if we allow ourselves to make our own rules.

I encourage you to take in as much inspiration and information as you desire. Feel free to take away from these books what you like and want to emulate. Feel free to leave behind what does not appeal to you.

I encourage you also to find your own voice rather than just copying or imiting what some published artist is doing.

Do what feels right and good and have fun with your journalling. The minute it becomes stressful it is more like work and a hassle and keeping a journal should not be like that, I don't think!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Currently Reading: Art & Fear



I have heard this book recommended and quoted all over the place: Art & Fear by David Bales and Ted Orland.

I finally own a copy. I got it through PaperBackSwap.com.

I began reading it a few days ago. I absolutely LOVE IT. Since so much of the book concentrates on the process of making art and the challenges and emotions with the process itself, I am really connecting with what the authors have to say.

I am reading this with a pencil in hand. I'm highlighting different passages that speak to me and marking notes in the borders. I don't do that with all books but when I feel the need to do it, for me that means the book is very good.

The book is easy to read and enjoyable. I'm half way through the 120 pages or so and figure I'll finish it in the next 2-3 days.

I can't recommend this book highly enough!

Update: I should have also mentioned that this book is often required reading in art classes at college for art students. So this book is well known in the artists' world and it is a well respected book.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Doing Art Journaling

Today I spent a few hours working on my art journal.

In the magazine Art & Life issue #9 Teesha Moore recommended using a certain Sharpie paint marker to write on top of water soluble oil pastel crayons. She recommended using Sharpie Poster Paint markers. I had an error in my memory and ordered Shaprie oil paint markers, so I'm using the oil paint markers.

Inspired by Teesha Moore, and needing a portable art material, I decided to finally do more art journaling with the water soluble oil pastel crayons. Today I made about 12 backgrounds for pages.

Then later when they were very dry I wrote for the first time with the oil paint markers. Wow they were great. The white was opaque, going down darker but drying quite opaque. It was too hard to read on the color background that I tried.

The black Sharpie oil paint markers are fan-tas-tic!

I don't know the pound weight of the paper that this journal has. Whatever it is, these markers bleed through to the other side.

I also tried writing with a regular fine point black Sharpie marker. That worked for a while then it got clogged up. Darn.

My younger son was curious about the work I was doing with the water soluble oil pastel crayons. I let him do some of the work. He liked the part where I was smearing the crayons with a damp facial tissue (instead of using a paint brush).

I plan to also collage on top of these pages. Tomorrow I think I will have even more time to make some backgrounds.

I am really feeling the drive to do more art projects just for me rather than being tied to swapping with other mail artists. It feels great to just play and not have it connected to a deadline.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My ATCs: Phone Book Paper

I took part in an artist trading card swap that required the use of phone book paper in it, in some way, any way. The swap was related to use techniques in the book by Bernie Berlin called "Artist Trading Card Workshop".

I usually don't make numerous ATCs with the same general design but this time I made three, the fruit bowls.





Fruit Bowl 1


Background: glossy white cardstock which I colored with Ranger alcohol inks and the gold version of the alcohol inks. Colored phone book paper with ink pads and used scrap papers to collage with.



Fruit Bowl 2
Background: crackle paint technique made with crackle medium and acrylic paint. Colored phone book paper with ink pads and used scrap papers to collage with.


Ornaments

Background: glossy white cardstock which I colored with Ranger alcohol inks and the gold version of the alcohol inks. Colored phone book paper with ink pads and used scrap papers to collage with.



Umbrella

Background: Weather map from newspaper. Colored phone book paper with ink pads.



Still Life with Wine
Background: watercolor paper with acrylic paint applied with old credit card. Cancelled postage stamp supposed to look like a painting on a wall. Tabletop, wine bottle and wine glass from phoen book paper colored with rubber stamp inks.



Fruit Bowl 3: Used in Swap for theme "Gather" for CMP Circle ATC Swap

Another with crackle medium used with acrylic paint for the background. Paint sample chip and scraps used to make the ATC. Phone book paper colored with rubber stamp ink.


He's A Player
Background acrylic paint in several colors applied with stipple brush. Rubber stamped image. Names from phone book paper applied. Hand lettering. My least favorite.




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Monday, December 10, 2007

Brothers (Photo of the Day)


My boys at the FIRST LEGO League regaional competition.

I think their cozy body language tells a story.

Photo taken by ChristineMM, December 2007.

Haiku Monday 12/10/07

The North South Virus
This is what I was fighting!
The battle was lost.

Hard to mother them
When I need to be tended.
Glad husband was home.


Haiku by ChristineMM
12/10/07

(Once I was feeling better I wrote this for the 'Creative Mom Podcast Circle' Haiku Monday challenge to write haiku about something relevant to our lives on this day.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Thoughts About My Visit To Barnes & Noble Today

For the first time in over a year I took a trip to a brand new Barnes & Noble store. And I was alone. I was free to browse!

I had a gift card that I was willing to use if I found something worthy. I am so unused to buying books at the local B&N that this thing has been sitting in my wallet for four months unused!

I have an educator discount card which they give to home educators and teachers. However my 'store cards' are over an inch thick and somehow in changing pocketbooks last summer I misplaced all of them. I was thinking I might have to re-apply for a new card. I hate renewing time as the staff always asks me for further proof of homeschooling above and beyond my homeschooling ID card. They usually want a 'letter from the state'. Well no such thing exists in Connecticut. They seem so worried of fraud with people pretending they homeschool that it is ridiculous. Actually to be more fair the local Borders (Fairfield CT) has really harrassed me about my purchases. Asking for every book, "Are you sure this is for homeschooling?". Duh, it is a children's history book, a science book, so on and so forth. Well guess what local bookstore cashiers, you've driven my sales to Amazon.com. With Amazon I get larger discounts than their educator discounts, I get free shipping and I don't pay the 6% sales tax, and I don't use gasoline or waste my driving time either.

Anyhow...
First I glanced at the magazines. I was really surprised at how so many people were sitting there reading the magazines. But worse was the guy reading a newspaper (that he didn't pay for) and he was making a mess of it. That takes gall.

I then selected three arts and crafts books to look at. I had not been able to tell when viewing the info on Amazon from the Internet if they were worth owning or not, if I could really use them or if they were not of interest to me.

One book I skimmed is about making books (binding one's own books). I have an issue with written directions. Sometimes they make no sense to me. Sometimes the accompanying illustations are helpful and sometimes they are confusing. I found a great book that I would love to own. I saw some that are in that category of books that I'd never be able to understand. So now I have a book on my wish list that I want "How To Make Books" by Esther K. Smith. I really, really want this book. It has such a range of projects and teaches the copic stitch among other things.



I have blogged in the past about the book "Stupid Sock Creatures" by John Murphy. I was surprised to see a tabletop display that had three different books that make odd looking creatures out of socks and/or gloves and/or fabrics. Since I love John Murphy's book so much I wished it was on the table with that display so maybe he'd make some sales. These are the books I saw there which I'd not known about before.





1. "Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends from Cast-Off Socks and Gloves" by Miyako Kanamori. Most of the examples in the book were with white socks or cream colored socks with accent colors and resembled twists on the old sock monkeys. They were so white they all looked like they were made with brand new socks by the way. Very cute and muted. Not too 'weird'. Publshed November 2006.



2. "Plush-o-Rama: Curious Creatures for Immature Adults" by Linda Kopp. Cute and wacky and weird creatures, all colors. Published May 2007.



3. "Softies: Simple Instructions for 25 Plush Pals" by Therese Laskey, Leah Kramer, and Laurie Frankel. Silly and odd in the same way as John Murphy's "Stupid Sock Creatures" but using felt and fabrics. Published August 2007.



All of those books on making stuffed creatures are fun and worth buying if you are into that kind of crafting and have the money to spend! They were all different enough and had different visual insipiration value.

Last week I watched a re-run of an episode of "Craft Lab" on the DIY Network. A few months ago, after clicking through art and craft blogs I found Jennifer Perkins blog and read that she hosts this show that I hadn't known existed. The guest was Laura Mika. My boys wanted to watch the show with me as they love working with polymer clay. The big project they did in the book is outlined in her July 2007 book "Mixed Media Mosaics: Techniques & Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles, Beads & Other Embellishments". I skimmed the book and it was full of inspirational photos and had directions for other projects as well. Once you have the basics down (which I learned from watching the show) you don't need to own the book. This is a book that I'd buy for the inspirational viewing and for easy reference if I wanted to make the various projects as she did. If money was not an object I'd definately buy it.



I also read another book which was very good. My pen was not working so I could not jot down the title and I just knew I'd forget it (darn). It was a nifty book that sought to explore the crafting revolution and to discuss the 'scene' as it has been evolving. The book also had directions to make all kinds of different crafts ranging from paper crafts to knitting to needleworking to sewing. I would not make most of what was in there but it was a very fun book and quite affordable for all that it offered for a full retail of JUST $17.95. Darn now I wish I remembered the title!

I glanced at the books for teachers and was sorely disappointed in their selections. I was hoping to find some of Carol Butzow's books there and was going to buy one or two. I know Amazon doesn't discount them so I wouldn't care about buying them at B&N using my educator discount.





I then visited the manga section for the first time and was blown away. I cannot believe how much manga is out there. My older son is asking to read Naruto (a manga series which is also an anime cartoon and also a trading card game) as he has seen a couple of episodes of the carton while visiting my brother (who was showing it to his then-four year old, who is now five and still watching it). I noted that Naruto series of manga was not rated (some of the manga books are rated T for Teen). However on page 14 of volume one there was a nude woman with the absolute essentials covered but nothing else. That was enough to me to underscore I won't be having them read those anytime soon. (This weekend I also have been emailing with a local homeschooling mother whose 13 year old son I saw reading it last week. That teen said the series is not right for kids and that in his opinion 'none of the manga is'.)


On the way out I saw a big display next to the door for "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and "The Daring Book for Girls" (both for 20% off). I had read some controversy or shall I say complaints on blogs about the book for girls. I'll say this: the glitter on the cover was unnecessary and was a mistake, I believe. That's all I'll say about that. Once I had watched a promo video for "Dangerous" on Amazon.com and it looked cool but to be honest we already own The American Boys Handy Book" which has all that stuff and more. I own other books of 'stuff to do' and even some antique Boy Scout Handbooks which have all that stuff in them. I don't need yet another book with the same old stuff reprinted into a new format.







Dragonology book



Wizardology book



I then noticed calendars modeled after the books "Dragonology" and "Wizardology". They were both gorgeous. My boys don't yet have a need for their own wall calendar or I may have bought "Dragonology". I hesitate to admit this as some of my blog readers will say "I told you so" but after my son read "Wizardology" my older son was acting like the magic was real. He was saying spells and asking questions about spells. I tell my son that they are not real as I don't believe in witchcraft. Interestingly enough some of the customer reviews on Amazon say the spells are not accurate for reference for those truly wishing to practice magic. I don't believe in witchcraft so to me it is not real. However some of my Catholic and Christian friends tell me magic is indeed real and for this reason they choose to not allow their children to read Harry Potter or "Wizardology" and some other books which have magic in them.

Wizardology 2008 Wall Calendar


Dragonology 2008 Wall Calendar


In the children's section, which was GIGANTIC and highly decorated and made into a little sub-room of the store, I noticed new ways of organizing the books. The books have labels such as "grades 3-6 ages 8-11" and then there are books in that category. The books were very nicely separated out. I don't recall that same system in the other nearby B&N stores. It was very helpful. In that category was Harry Potter and Gary Paulsen books among others.

I also noted right at the entrance a large display of the Pullman "His Dark Materials" trilogy, taking advantage of the movie release to bolster some book sales. The controversy over that continues on the blogosphere, on websites and in emails. In case you are wondering I bought the books used at library fundraiser books sales not even knowing the controversy. I plan to read them to myself after New Year's so I can have my own opinion. So far I don't like the idea of them at all.



So I left the store empty handed. That is another thing that kills me about the gift cards we get for B&N. Local relatives buy us B&N gift cards yet to use them in the local store for no discount plus 6% sales tax kills me. I see today that some books I wanted are far less discounted on B&N.com compared to Amazon.com. I would like the biggest bang for my buck and wished that B&N.com was comparable to Amazon.com.

Sigh, what to do?

I also had a thoght while walking around. I was feeling a bit burnt out by books. I just have too many around here. (Did I really say that?) There was a time when I'd yearn to own all the books in B&N and to have access to all of that information. But you know what? I already have books here yet unread and I'm feeling that they are overflowing and so I left empty-handed and content.

(Although I do still have this gift card to use...)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals
Author: Karen Skidmore Rackliff
Format: softcover book
ISBN-13: 978-1576360736
Publisher: self-published



This is a slim volume, a quick read, I finished it in under three hours. The author, Karen Skidmore Rackliff writes in a colloquial manner which is easy to understand. The author tells of how she and her seven homeschooled children spend one day out of every two weeks in nature. When the family (and especially mom) is feeling stressed out by errands and household tasks they pack meals and snacks and head off for a full day in nature. Rackliff calls these “wild days”.

When she decided to have her children keep nature journals, at first she forced each child to record words and images in what she calls a “discovery journal” (what others call a “nature journal”).

She is not ashamed to admit that her oldest son didn’t like this and said she feels that over time he continues to be disinterested. With subsequent children she stated she was less forceful, and simply modeled journaling by (continuing) to make her own journal in their presence. She said she felt that this was key in subsequent children being more creative artistically and with the written word in their own journals.

The author’s approach to their nature journals changed over time to what I feel is more like “unschooling” in which the child is placed in a stimulating environment with art supplies and a blank journal, and where the parent doesn’t really care if the journal is ever used or not. I wondered if the difference in her two sons’ reaction to their use of the discovery journal could possibly be due to the child’s interest or learning style; the son who was so creative with detailed writing entries may have a talent or special enjoyment of composing written journal entries rather than focusing on having more drawn images.

I appreciated the listing of published nature journals that are on the market today and plan to use these lists for future reading “wish lists”. However, being completely untalented in any area of artistic endeavor, I was wishing for some references for books for beginners, to learn basic drawing and watercolor skills. The author made it clear that she taught herself to draw and paint by just doing it, practicing and experimenting and feels we all should do it this way. While the notion of not needing to take classes or read books before starting a journal is appealing, it is actually scary to me. Here again, I think the author’s own learning style preference of just doing it and jumping in as a novice is due to her own learning style, whereas my comfort level-learning style is to learn a little about technique from reading about it to give me some concrete information and some confidence, before facing the blank page.

All in all when I finished the book I was excited at the idea of planned time in nature to observe, relax, and de-stress. I have always wanted to learn to draw and paint and this book has really inspired me. I also appreciated the content to support my continued attempt to have my own Charlotte Mason style homeschooled children keep a nature journal.

I would have preferred a bit more detail about which brands of art supplies are good, rather than her just saying “ask the storekeeper at the art supply store” for recommendations of good products.

I enjoyed the small black and white photographs of the discovery journal entries which ranged from her young children’s art to her own beautiful entries. They were nice to see and helped me get a gist for what is typical of young children’s drawings (when they are not taking formal art lessons).

Note: I bought this book in January 2003. I wrote this review in April 2003. I continue to recommend this book as it is the most ‘real’ book about nature journaling with children that I’ve ever seen. I also have since tried drawing in pencil and ink. I have read other books on art journals and drawing, check my profile to read those.

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I Still Love the Book Wild Days

Last week on the CMP Circle discussion group someone asked about nature journaling and children. I quickly recommended my favorite nature journaling book "Wild Days" by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe.



I was sure I had written a review of it a long time ago, on Amazon. Yet it was not there. Hmmm. My Amazon account showed that I'd purchased the book in April 2003.

Sure enough there was the review sitting on my computer's hard drive. Yes, I have had this computer that long.

In these last four plus years I continue to find Wild Days the most read-able and the least-intimidating book about starting to draw from nature for the untrained person who feels or worries that they cannot draw but that they wish they could.

Today I submitted the review to Amazon.

I wanted to share that if you cannot get a copy of this through Amazon, try buying it from Penny Gardner's website. Penny Gardner is a homeschooling mother, author and speaker about homeschooling and the Charlotte Mason method. On Gardner's site you can read excerpts and even view some pages from nature journals which readers of the book created.

One thing I noted from my original review was I kept talking about learning styles. The reason is that within the two months prior, I had read a book about learning styles and that was fresh on my mind. I feel that learning styles are very important especially in the very early years of a child’s life. At the time I wrote the review my children were aged 2.5 and 5.5. I was homeschooling them and what their learning styles were was influencing how we homeschooled.

Look for my review on the book which I'll publish shortly.



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Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Tokyo Look Book: Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: The Tokyo Look Book
Author: Philomena Keet
Photographer: Yuri Manabe
ISBN 13: 978-4770030610
Publication Date: September 2007



5 stars

Why I Read This Book
I requested this book through the Amazon Vine program and finished reading it yesterday. Although I am not a fashion junkie, I am interested in ways that people express themselves and I’m interested in other cultures. I admire people who can work with fiber and sew their own fashions. I love seeing people take something old or out of fashion and recreating it into something new and fresh. I also was curious to learn of a fashion scene that is not just copying American fashion in another country.

I really loved it.

In The Tokyo Look Book, anthropologist Philomena Keet writes of the full spectrum of Tokyo's street fashion scene. This is the first book to cover all the types of fashion, to cover everything from Goth to high fashion. The text explains of each subculture and gives a bit of information on the people in the photographs, both about their clothing and a little about their lives. There are also spotlight features on specific designers that go into more detail about how they began in the fashion design business.

The photographs are great, showing the true personality of those pictured as well as capturing their clothing and accessories.

The book has a great aesthetic and is interesting to flip through. The paper is thick and glossy and it has a paperback cover.

I read the entire book cover to cover and found it very interesting. This is not just a book of fashion photos. I found Keet's explanation of the subcultures and of how and why they choose to wear these clothes so interesting. Keet received her doctorate degree in Tokyo's street fashion scene. My only complaint is that I would have liked just a little more information on each sub-culture and a chapter at the end to wrap everything up. It seems that Keet is so knowledgeable about 'the scene' that maybe she assumes the reader knows a bit more than they actually do. Keet states this is the only book to cover ALL the sub-cultures rather than focusing on single sub-culture's or a couple of certain ones (as Fruits magazine and the Fruits books do).

This is so different than the fashion scene with American teens and 20-something's. The idea that they dress to synchronize in small groups and cliques and try not to stand out as an individual too much was fascinating. And the idea that they dress up and hang out on a specific bridge so that spectators, photographers and tourists can see them is just something I didn't even know people did for fun! I found learning about and seeing these fashions fun. I enjoyed seeing the creativity of the people featured in the book.

I imagine that anyone working in fashion and curious about the fashion scene in Tokyo would of course be interested in this book. "Project Runway" junkies may like this book too. Those who love Japanese culture would enjoy it as well. Fiber artists and those who like to design their own clothing or those who re-use vintage garments and turn them into something new will also find the visual stimulation and creativity of the people inspiring. People watchers and those curious of other cultures also will enjoy this book as well.

This is a fun and interesting read! This may be interesting as a coffee table book as one reviewer stated but if all you do is flip through the photos you will miss out on the interesting parts that are in the text!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My ATCs: 7 "Altered Text"






















After reading a post on CMP Circle about Altered Text I surfed the web to learn and see examples of this ‘new to me’ art technique.

I was so inspired that I grabbed an old book and using my paper cutter, randomly cut pages sized exactly to ATC size.

I brought these to bed and while sitting in bed watching TV before going to sleep instead of staring at the screen I altered these. I used Berol Prismacolor pencils.

Later I adhered them to a stiff background. They seemed so unpolished that I added a layer of clear UTEE (Ranger brand ultra thick embossing enamel) which gave it a ‘glass like resin’. The scans look nubby or bubbly or and that is why. In real life they have a smooth yet nubby texture which makes them more tactile.

It was fun and liberating to do these just for the fun of it. These were not made for an ATC swap.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My ATCs: 6 Using Stencil Technique

Below are ATCs I created in November 2007 for an ATC swap using a stencil as described in Bernie Berlin's book "Artist Trading Card Workshop". These were all swapped out through Swap-bot.com for a swap that I hosted.

Title: You May Be Surprised

Scraps from magazines and canned tomatoes, used postage stamp and text from old children's reader. Butterfly image source not known.



Title: Possible Start

Scraps of paper from junk mail, magazines, old children's book and stencil of fruit bag.


Title: Love

Image from a collage sheet from the company Autumn Moon Paper Company.

Stencil is a bag that held avocados.



Title: Darth Vader

US Postage stamp with old ticket on background of glossy paper with alcohol ink coloring, rubber stamping, and stencil with acrylic paint.


Title: Beetle

Image from an old field guide.

Title: American Flag

This contains a photo that I took and then altered with bleach. Flag image from a 1950s Girl Scout Cadette Handbook, cancelled postage stamp with scrap of black paper I rubber stamped with bleach. Paper is canvasette I hand painted. Stencil is a plastic fruit bag.



This is the book which tells the emboss-resist technique, Bernie Berlin's "Artist Trading Card Workshop".



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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My ATC: One of the Few Thinking


Artist Trading Card created by ChristineMM in November 2007.

Background hand painted with acrylic paints on recycled cardboard cereal box. Fruit bag used as stencil with more acrylic paint. Snippets from old magazines and used postage stamps collaged onto it. Note one postage stamp is of the Lawrie sculplture of Atlas in Rockerfeller Center titled "Wisdom". The time stamp was also carefully chosen. The square is from a children's book illustration and signifies 'reaching' or 'grasping'.

Facts + reaching/grasping + time + thinking = wisdom.

'One of the few thinking' is how I feel lately in several areas of my life which are totally unconnected to the each other.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Made Some Purchases of Art Supplies Today

Today I made three purchases for stuff for me. To have fun with. To do something for me for a change. Knowing that some relatives will be giving me cash for Christmas, I’m spending it ahead of time.

For over a year I have wanted to teach myself screen-printing on cloth. Last week I noticed that AC Moore’s old screen-printing kit was $90 (yikes) but a new one is $55. Today I used a 50% off coupon to buy that for myself. Yippee!

And while there I snagged the latest issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors as Amy had been talking about it on the Creative Mom Podcast Episode 72. I have never purchased this magazine before.



Today my Amazon gold box offer came up with “Mixed-Media college” by Holly Harrison and I snapped it up at a larger than normal discount.



I ventured into Home Depot (I hate that place) to find the fine grit files I need for metal crafting. My husband claimed to not be able to find them on two past visits. One brand would have cost me $20 and the other was just under $10 so I got the cheap set. I now have everything I need for doing more metal crafting. (I am using Metal Craft Workshop as my guidebook.) I also was inspired to buy this now as last night an idea for a new project sprung to mind…



Today also I bought a two hole punch for metal crafting. This way I can use the quiet hand held punch instead of my husband’s drill or dremel tool. I have a fear of power tools. I used Dick Blick online as the two Dick Blick stores that used to be near me are closed up. I see they have it for about 50% less than some online specialty shops.

And I added to that reason for ordering, some oil based Sharpie markers which I read in Art & Life will write on top of oil pastel crayon or water soluble oil pastel crayon for journaling. It comes in white color too which looks cool on top of happy bright colors. It said in Art & Life that they are hard to find in shops but that DickBlick.com sold them.

Lastly last week my older son went through nearly a whole pack of 50 pieces of wire coated with colored plastic making sculptures. I had purchased it probably 4 years ago and put it away and never touched it and while reorganizing craft supplies he saw it and used it. He had a blast. So I splurged on a pack of 200 or 250 wires this time (I forget the exact amount).

So there you go, happy me with art supplies in hand or on their way from UPS. 

I have not been making many ATCs lately. I am slowing down on ATC swapping until after the New Year. I have one swap left on Swap-bot and I have to do my November CMP ATC exchange (and December when that rolls in). I really am feeling a desire to work with metal and do some new crafty things.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Season 4 of Project Runway Starts Tomorrow

I was late to get in on watching Project Runway having missed the first season. I stumbled upon it during season two and immediately set a Season Pass on my TiVo to watch it. A great thing about the show is that it seems to repeat a zillion times so if you miss an episode you can easily catch back up again (especially if you use a DVR to record it when it repeats in the wee morning hours while you peacefully sleep).

I am not a follower of fashion. I'm not so much interested in the show because of the focus on the fashion industry, haute couture or anything like that.

What amazes me the most about the show is the creative aspect of the designers themselves. I cannot at all relate to how people can have talent like that. My own brain and talents are so different that it is interesting for me to watch and hear their thoughts on the creative process. I cannot at all imagine clothing in a 3D image of my own personal creation. I know nothing about fabrics and how they 'lie'. I still don't get what 'across the grain' means. I don't know how they can make their own clothing patterns or design right from the fabric, cutting as they go and stitching. I applaud that they all have such a unique style, that they are so creative and unique and that they are individuals.

I like to watch people and see how people act and react. I like to see people under pressure to do a task and see what unfolds. I find it interesting to watch people with super huge egos and wonder how they ever got that way.

I also LOVE the fact that these people are 'going for their dream'. I like to hear the stories of how some wanted to be designers but their family members told them they'd never make it yet here they are with true talent and on the show possibly on the road to making a living in the clothing design industry. Bravo to them! (No pun intended.)

The show is always full of drama and colorful personalities. The backbiting and gossiping is not always pretty and I don't like that aspect of the show. They sometimes swear and so the show is full of 'beeps'.

My kids have watched some episodes with me. We talk about when people talk nasty to each other's faces; have fights, how they handle conflict and also how they talk about each other behind each other's back and how that is not good.

So anyhow, Season 4 begins tomorrow. The show airs on the Bravo network.

I've got my TiVo Season Pass started. Yippee!

Will you be watching?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rushing to Catch the Sunset (Photo of the Day)

In Cape Cod in October...

While in the house I looked up to see clouds that looked to be shaping up for a great sunset.

"I'm going to the beach to see the sunset and take photos", I said to my husband.

"I'm making dinner and it will be ready in five minutes", he said.

When your husband makes dinner (from scratch) on a regular basis one should not complain when eating said dinner conflicts with a spur-of-the-moment idea.

"Okay".

So I ate my dinner quickly, with frequent glances out the window and noted that the clouds looked colorful.

As soon as I was done I proclaimed, "I'm leaving! Who wants to come?" I threw my dishes to the side of the sink. (Yes, my husband cleans up the dishes as well.)

My younger son jumped at the chance.

"Hurry!"

So we rushed to the beach. Driving down this road a wee bit above the speed limit and hoping to not hit a dog walker or child, I saw this sight before me.



I wondered a bit if this was a bit like after dying, seeing a light at the end of the tunnel?

I parked the car and we ran out and saw this:



We had just missed it, another sunset-watcher said, the sun had been a big red ball descending down to the horizon.

Well, it was still a sight to behold, it was still lovely and I'm glad I saw this.

I can only imagine that if a person could actually live in a home overlooking the ocean and could have a chance to see views like this daily as well as having the fresh salt air breeze so often, that life would be very good indeed. Even if one's home was bordered by a public beach where sunset watchers came each evening to catch the view.

That is, life would be good only if a person took the time to actually notice such 'simple pleasures'.

While in Barbados we had a friendly cab driver, taking us to the beach. I commented on the lovliness of the beaches and asked if he went to the beach often, proclaiming his luck at living in such a paradise. He said he was so busy working that he only got to the beach two or maybe three times a YEAR with his family. How sad is that?

Photos taken by ChristineMM at Thumpertown Beach, Eastham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, mid-October 2007.

Reorganizing Art and Craft Supplies Today

A goal for today: declutter the dining room.

Challenge: the dining room table is covered with art and craft supplies, the things I use nearly every time I make art.

We have a broom closet that I use for a craft closet. I have realized that the best thing to do would be to first go through that closet, declutter, or put away into the basement, the things I rarely use. I then will take the supplies I use most often that clutter the dining room table and put them in the closet to be out of the way yet to still give me easy access to them.

So today’s ‘to do’ project is first to go through the craft closet and declutter and rearrange. Then, to tackle the dining room table.

(The kids are busy with a new educational math computer game which gives me time to both blog and do this project.)

Thanksgiving is coming so I need to get the dining room emptied out!

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Made Stencil Technique ATCs

I woke up early the other day, wide awake (5:00 am). I got right up, in the pitch dark, and made about a dozen ATCs using a stencil technique. These were for a swap I’m hosting on Swap-bot in which we’re making and swapping ATCs using art techniques from the book “Artist Trading Card Workshop” by Bernie Berlin.

I scanned the completed ATCs. I have swapped out the ATCs already.

I hope that soon I can find the time to edit each scan to make it in an ‘up-loadable state’ and then I’ll share them here on my blog and on my Flickr photo album.

It was fun to make these ATCs, it felt great to make some art!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rush Hour Traffic in the Rain (Photo of the Day)


I am so grateful I don't have to travel in rush hour every day.

Photo taken by ChristineMM on the Merritt Parkway, Rt. 15, Hamden, Connecticut during the evening rush hour on a night in October 2007.

Haiku Monday 11/12/07

Cub Scout Leadership
Slid in my record keeping
Today catching up

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Splendor (Photo of the Day)



I was overcome by the beauty of this.

This beach has historical significance regarding the landing of the Pilgrims, being the beginning of The Great Beach mentioned by Henry David Thoreau and erosion has revealed a 4000 year old Native American habitation site. You may read details here.

Photo taken by ChristineMM, Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore, Eastham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in October 2007.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Haiku Monday 11/05/07

We didn’t quite know
If that breath was his last one
Finally it was


It was my first time
Seeing someone pass on
Right in front of me


I am so happy
That we were all by his side
Loving him. Good-bye.


Hospice staff was great
I don’t know how they do it
Always around death


The worst thing of all
Is seeing someone suffer
It is just not right


But death was welcome
The suffering is over
He is in peace now


The wake is today
Lots of Kleenex will be used
I’m bracing myself

All haiku by ChristineMM 11/05/07
Haiki for CMP Circle Monday Haiku prompt

Itching to Make Art

After so much greiving and so much time around lots of people I am itching to create and make some art. That is a healthy and good stress reliever for me.

It will have to wait until I have the time, though.

But I did squeeze in a little bit of haiku writing today for the CMP Circle Haiku Monday prompt (see next blog post).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sitting Vigil

I am torn about privacy and how much to share. I wrote a long blog post however I don’t think I’ll publish it.

My kids are sleeping late today. After they wake up I will take them with me to sit vigil at my in-law’s home. My husband is already there.

My father-in-law is dying of Cancer and they are using in-home hospice services. We plan that his death will be in his own home surrounded by loved ones. The house will be lively and full of people and that is how he liked things and how we would have wanted this to be, this is a typical thing that Italian-American’s do.

This is all happening very quickly and it has been said that he may pass over this weekend.

If you would like to pray for my father-in-law and our family, we would appreciate it. My in-laws are devout Catholics if that means anything in your prayer. I myself am praying for my father-in-law to have less pain and suffering, for this suffering time to be short-lived. I am praying for strength for my husband, who is very close to his father. I am praying for my disabled mother-in-law to make it through this. I am praying for my own self to be able to be here for my husband and for me to be able to parent my children through this.

UPDATE: My father-in-law passed away in his own home with many family members, including me and my husband at his bedside this afternoon.

I found a great website about the dying process of those suffering with Cancer. It is published by the Mayo Clinic and can be read here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In Photo ATC Swaps

I have not blogged much about making ATCs lately. Truth be told I’m only doing 2-4 swaps per month (and some require making only one ATC). I have been busy with parenting, homeschooling, and expending emotions on worries about sick and dying relatives.

Apologizes for still not having uploaded images of my Yu-Gi-Oh! ATCs. Someday I’ll get around to doing that.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on photo ATCs. For the swaps I chose to sign up for, I knew I had images already taken in the past. I did spend a lot of time going through all the images to select my favorites and those which conformed with the rules.

Time crept up on me and for the first one I was working against a tight deadline for getting the photos printed up at the photo shop. My husband was too busy to help me resize them (as he has done in the past) so I decided to teach myself how to do it, using my program, Photoshop Elements.

There was a problem with the way I saved the document. I now know I should have never let the system default to saving it as a Photoshop type document. I should have overridden that and saved it as a jpg. I thought I was ready to upload the photos to the photo shop via the Internet but I could not get them uploaded as the shop does not take files in a Photoshop format.

I tried teaching myself how to fix this but doing the fix did not work. I even found a Yahoo Group! for users of Photoshop Elements and got some help from a few folks but my husband and I suspect that the files were corrupted.

So in the time crunch my husband did the entire project over again in his other Microsoft program.

The first swap didn’t require putting a stronger backing on the photos so I sent them off as is.

This next swap requies gluing the photos to a cardstock for strength. I have the ATC sized photos all cut out and just need to do the adhering, then they’ll be ready to send off.

I have been sharing some of these photos on my blog here.

Another swap I did entailed taking my own photos and cropping them to 'inchies' which are one inch squares. I use a punch die-cutter for this task (simple and fun). I did that last week and they flew off through the mails last week.

My next ATC projects will be for swaps for techniques in the Bernie Berlin book about ATC techniques. We’re doing ‘phone book paper’ background and ‘stencil’ (use paint and a stencil to make a background).

The above swaps are on Swap-bot.com.

Oops and I have not yet done my October ATC exchange for the Creative Mom Podcast group, which is one ATC with a theme of ‘tell me a story’.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Bluebirds Still Here (Photo of the Day)


I saw two Eastern Bluebirds two days ago, in my yard. I was really surprised as I thought they'd migrated south already. In the 2007 season, we had two pair of Eastern Bluebirds living in a dead tree near the border where the woods meets our lawn, on our property. I was surprised all summer to see the four together. I don't know why I assumed they would just hang out in pairs. They loved to perch on the swing set and hunt from there, flying down to catch a worm, then flying back up to a higher perch to eat it. We would often watch them while we were eating a meal at the kitchen table, which gives us a great view of the swingset.

The above photo was taken at the very beginning of the season, on the first day that I spotted a bluebird in our yard. When trying to photograph birds I have often wished for a long telephoto lens.

It is hard to photograph them as at the slightest noise or movement, such as the opening of a door, they fly to higher ground. Smart birds, but not so easy to photograph!

I consider casual birdwatching a part of 'learning science' and 'nature study' as we go about our 'regular lives'.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunlight in Grass at Beach (Photo of the Day)


The setting sun's rays going through this grass was unbelievable. This grass is exposed at low tide. This is the beach which I've blogged before, in the town where I grew up.



Photo taken by ChristineMM on a beach on Long Island Sound, in a shoreline Connecticut town, New Haven County, September 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall Foliage (Photo of the Day)


This is a "drive by photograph", taken while I was driving the car. Loved the coloration of this tree. The meteorologist classified this morning as 'dense fog'.

Photo taken in Newtown, Connecticut in mid-October 2007 by ChristineMM.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Swan on Lake (Photo of the Day)


At this resevoir lake there are sometimes swans. On a Sunday morning in October I told my kids if the swans were there I am stopping to take a quick picture.

Sure enough, as I drove by I saw a swan on the edge of the lake. I pulled over. While walking to the vantage point to take the photo, I glanced up and caught my breath. A different swan was flying straight toward me. I think the wing span was at least six feet, I am not kidding.

I didn't have the camera turned on yet so I couldn't get a photo of the swan in flight. It landed and swam. And so I do have this photo of the one swan that was flying right toward me.

It was such a lovely sight, there is no other way to describe it. I am glad I got to see it even if I didn't capture it in a photo.

Photo taken by ChristineMM in Connecticut, October 7, 2007.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Older Son's Robot (Photo of the Day)


Here is the original creation robot made by my older son (age 10) with his LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit. After he made it he taught himself to use the software and began programming it.

Note the other stuff seen in the photo. A twisting toy that you find words by moving the letters. The portable CD player currently playing a Harry Potter CD (on track 13), the case holding the audio book (which is getting cut off by Blogger for some reason), and his binder holding his Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. What an insight into my older son's life this photo is!

Photo taken by ChristineMM's older son in October 2007.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three Wild Turkeys (Photos of the Day)



This was a chance siting of three wild turkeys in my neighborhood. I stopped the car, whipped the camera out and snapped these photos. Right after I took the photo of the single turkey (below), a car whizzed from behind me, to pass me, completely oblivious to the turkey, or not caring at all about pausing to look at the turkey.



Last year my husband was driving the car and I was a passenger (as were our children). We were driving past a field of wildflowers. My eye is used to seeing only green tall grass there or wildflowers. I spotted a dark brown patch, but we were whizzing by. I asked my husband to turn around for a minute as something odd was there. We had the time so we did it. It was a Tom Turkey with his feathers all out. He was huge! I had never seen that 'in real life' (such as at a turkey farm or a petting zoo) let alone in the wild. We sat for about three minutes pulled off to the side of the road with our blinker on to watch it. We were not blocking the road in any way. A car flew past us (speeding over the 25 mph speed limit) blasting the horn in a long note of anger. I was glad my husband noted that by his speeding and annoyance of us (being off the road even) he missed out on seeing the Tom Turkey strutting his stuff. It was a cool sight and I'm glad we took a few minutes of our lives to see it.

Regarding nature study, I feel we need to have our eyes peeled while doing our regular routines in life and we will then see all kinds of great things happening around us. Nature study and learning 'science topics' are not always intentional lessons planned ahead of time and manufactured by the 'homeschool teacher'. Having our eyes open and observant while going about our daily lives is important.

Some say that an artist has the power to see things in a different way, or to be aware of things or beauty when others seem to not notice. Those who see in this way will often say that 'art is everywhere'. I agree with that. There is beauty in a tree, the design or the action movement of a creature is often amazing and interesting. We just need to take the time to notice these things.

Anyway, about the three wild turkeys I saw last week, me stopping the car to take these photos took less than one minute yet it was fun to watch them and to snap the photos as well. It was a minute well spent. And by the way the car that then was in front of me got nowhere faster as we were both stuck at that stop sign for a bit then we were on the road together for a number of miles. I lost no time or efficiency in my life from stopping to watch the wild turkeys.

Photos taken by ChristineMM on October 7, 2007 in my neighborhood in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Father's 4th Birthday (Photo of the Day)



Here is my father in 1948 on his 4th birthday with my grandfather.

My paternal grandmother has turned over all her photographs to me. They are not organized. Not a single one is in a photo album or labeled. Almost all are in the original film developing envelopes with the negatives (paper with acid I am sure). Others are loose. None have notes on them. The film developing places also didn't date the photos themselves on the back nor did anyone note it on the envelopes.

As you can see this photo is off-color. My grandmother thinks this is due to waiting too long before she got it developed. There is a yellow cast to some of these.

Others have a purple cast, those as well were not developed 'on time'.

Additionally I have exposed film going back to the 1950s which was never developed.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed here. I wish I could have all the photos developed and viewable in good, normal color condition.

I don't know whether I should try to scan all of these and try to digitally alter them to the right color. I could also use the negatives to create new images.

I have no clue what to do about exposed old film, who would even develop these now antiquated types of film and the odd sizes?

Then there is the idea of storing them in some type of album that is acid-free. Then there is how to label and store the negatives.

I'm feeling very overwhelmed.

Packratting and Disorganization
I'd also like to take this opportunity to share that being a packrat and disorganized does no one any good. I am seeing these photos for the first time in my life as is my father. Yes, my father is in his 60s and has NEVER seen childhood or baby photos of himself. I find that sad.

Under the Gun
I feel pressure to get at this project while my paternal grandmother is still alive. I have already spent a number of hours with her having her describe what the photo is of. She is blind in one eye now and has a bad cataract in the other (surgery to be done in the spring of 2008). So she can barely see now. Plus the other day she was told she has a life threatening condition that needs urgent surgery, the surgeon consult is tomorrow. She was told in the past she could die 'while under the knife' due to her heart condition and being 89 and not a great candidate for elective surgery on this condition which has now morphed into being urgent and life-threatening. Of course I feel worried about her condition but I'd also like to preserve some more family history before she passes away.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Provincetown Skyline (Photo of the Day)



A blend of old and new...

While walking down Commercial Street in Provincetown I looked up and was struck by the view of several rooftops lined up. It is a mix of old and new. While many buildings in P-town are old you cannot pretend that modernization is not present, so the town is really a blend of yesterday and today.

Not the oldest structure, but the reference to the oldest thing is the Pilgrim Monument built in 1892 (the stone structure). I love the details in the wooden buildings, and wanted to capture those. I also thought immediately that this view is good mix of building types, the monument, a former private residence (now a store with maybe an apartment upstairs, I'm not sure), and a church (Center Methodist Church built in 1860 which is actually now being used as the Provincetown Public Library).

The way the buildings lined up caught my eye, but also the other line of the banner of flags was an important visual element. The rainbow flag banners which were all over the place when I was there made a strong statement. Taking a photo of a street scene without at least one flag visible was impossible which to me made a clear statement of the strong community proclamation of gay pride. (Actually while reading the Wikipedia entry I realized my definition of this as a gay pride flag is already outdated, now it is referred to as a LBTG flag = lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride flag.) We tourist visitors saw the flags with our eyes and those of us taking photos most likely captured at least one if not many with our lenses, preserving forever the symbolic imagery if only in our photo albums or in Cyberspace. (I do not know if these flags were there for the whole summer season or if they were temporary for a special community event.)

Photo taken by ChristineMM, on Commercial Street, Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in August 2007.

Other Links

History of the Center Methodist Church

Provincetown Public Library

Commercial Street live webcam

Static webcam images of Commercial Street


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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Buoys on the Wall (Photo of the Day)



I loved this wall of buoys on the outside of a fish market right on a pier in Provincetown, Cape Cod.



Photos taken by ChristineMM, Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, August 2007.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rowboat and Old Pier (Photo of the Day)


I loved the rowboat on the beach with the rotting pier in the background.

This beach is right next to the pier in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Photo taken in August 2007 by ChristineMM.

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Noticing Beauty in Our Typical Lives

How many of us take lots of photos when we are on vacation?

Most 'regular people' will take photos of major holidays, very special events and while on vacations. Some of those people rarely take photos of their normal days at home or right around the area they live in.

I don't recall when it was that I first realized that people actually take trips to visit this place I live in. I always thought that the people here were trying to leave here to go on a vacation and I never thought that anyone would come HERE. I think it was about the beauty of fall foliage, something I took for granted and used to only associate with the hassle of hand-raking dead leaves off the lawn (as demanded by my father) which made me realize that indeed tourists do come here for vacations.

Yes, people come to my area on vacations for which they pay money to just come and drive around, to view this foliage, here in New England.

Then I began noticing some changes in development of some towns and with my hometown. I don't always like the changes and wax nostalgic for 'the way it used to be'. I then realize, I have no photo of that former building or old business that I used to frequent. When I was a teen I spent a lot of time and money at an arcade. I have no photo of that place. When it turned into a Saturn car dealership, well, there was no point in taking the photo to document that!

I have been taking more and more photos of things all around me in this area and in my hometown, when I go there to visit my relatives. I am starting to see all kinds of things that are photo-worthy.

Additionally I felt a bit sad and angry at a change on Cape Cod when we took our first visit there this last summer. The first thing we used to see after we crossed the bridge over the Cape Cod Canal was a business which was a family owned restaurant and pie shop. In the parking lot right next to the road that we all had to drive by was a tugboat, which loomed large over us (who knew they were that big?). The tugboat had lots of buoys on it and I believe it said something like "Welcome to Cape Cod" on it, but I can't be sure. I took that for granted, that sight. It was something that was always there.

Yet this year when we rounded the corner there was a

GASP

brand new, just like all the others, CVS drugstore with a newly paved parking lot and it was lit up with brand new orange lights from the tall parking lot lights.

YUCK!!

My in-laws told me that Grandma's Pies sold the land to CVS and they moved somewhere else in town.

Well I'm sorry but it is just not the same.

Franchises and national chains are creeping in all over the Cape. Small family-owned businesses are disappearing while the franchises take over. Some towns fight chains such as trying to prevent a Dunkin' Donuts from coming in to one town who had two yummy family owned doughnut shops already. There are numerous individual businesses who sell homemade ice cream yet one town now has a Ben and Jerry's. I'm sorry but it is not the same.

So when I'm at the Cape I have been trying to document the little businesses with their imperfect, fading signs and while at home I'm photographing the little things that I see which catch my eye. For I never know when the things which I appreciate but usually take for granted will disappear.

I do take more photos here at home, but it is true I take a lot while away. Why? The reason is that when I am away I have extra time on my hands and it is very easy to just take the time to go out and take photographs. I also have a bit of pressure, thinking, "I'll only get to this beach once this year, so I'd better go take some photos today". When I'm at home and busy with 'real life' I don't always take the time to go out and take photos. And then sometimes it is too late.

For example it rained for over 24 hours here yesterday. We awoke to sunny skies. As I drove down the road in the early morning, I noticed the fall foliage looked different, better somehow. I realized that all the bark on the trees was very dark brown, almost black, as it was so soaked with rain. The hard frost we had killed off a lot of the lush green plants on the forest floor. So what I saw was bright leaves covering a forest floor with black tree trunks with bright leaves on the trees with sunlight filtering through. It was breathtaking actually. But I was driving to meet my brother and I was under a deadline so I kept driving and didn't snap a photo. On the way home the sun had already dried the bark and the sun was high in the sky and the light was just different. It was not the same thing anymore, it was different. I now wish I'd taken 30 seconds to stop the car and snap a few quick photos. Sigh.

Although I am only 40 years old I am already feeling like an 'old geezer' in some respects as I've started to say, "I remember when that place was a..." and "Things are changing around here and it is just getting so overcrowded" and other stuff like that.

I should mention and make clear though that although negative feelings was the impetus to help me open my eyes, what is happening now is I am seeing more and more beauty in everyday things all around me. Noticing things and finding joy in just seeing something lovely actually lifts my spirits throughout the day. And that is 'a good thing' as Martha Stewart says.