My webpage (inc. awards, upcoming events, etc.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

More from Northlake + Meme (Updated)

Red buckeye.

My blog friend, Skippy, recently tagged me for a meme. As usual, although I'll participate, I won't be tagging others. If you want to join in, feel free.

Cypress knees, red maple leaves and swamp reflections.

6 Random Things About Me

1. I don't wear makeup...ever.
2. I don't wear high heels...ever.
3. I'm short.
4. I'm very round & I'm okay with that.
5. One of my photos recently made the cover of Alternatives magazine.
6. All 3 of my entries were recently accepted into an online art show (wish me luck in winning a prize! Update, July 3, 2009; I didn't win.)

The boardwalk.

A Well-Deserved Nature Break (Updated)

After all of the recent storms, we ended up with rather perfect weather over the weekend, so we treated ourselves to a hike at Northlake Nature Center.

The walkway at the entrance.

There was quite a bit of activity at the swamp. We heard it, rather than saw it. This photo won week #5 of WGN's "My America" photo contest.

This egret was wayyyy off in the distance. Those long feathers trailing off its back are a part of its breeding plumage.

Our state wildflower, Louisiana irises, and our state tree, the bald cypress. I found it particularly fitting to have them both together in the bayou setting. (Update, Apr. 6, 2009; This photo was featured on the front page of the St. Tammany News.)

Eagle-eyed Charles pointed out this yellow iris on our way back to the car.

Afterwards we went to Macaroni Grill for dinner, negating any positive health effects of our hike. What can I is good!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Town Monday; Recent Photos

When I was flooded in the other day, there wasn't very much to do, so I wandered around my yard & neighborhood (where I could,) with my camera.

This lovely blue-eyed grass flower was growing along a ditch on the main road.

Macro of a thistle bud. This must be a different species from what we have up north, as these buds are the size of my fist (as opposed to a grape.)

A lovely little Carolina bristlemallow flower growing up between the planks of our deck stairs.

This cardinal was peeking at me through the window in our back door.

After the rains were finished & the sun came out, our new neighbors had a fire. The dappled sunlight created crepuscular rays (as mentioned yesterday,) in the smoke.

My Town Monday is the brainchild of Travis Erwin.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sunset Photography

Being a long-time skywatcher, I've learned what to look for, where sunset potential is concerned. The main consideration is cloud cover. That's not to say that you can't have a beautiful sunset without clouds, but clouds really pack that added punch. They act as a canvas for all of those long-wavelength light beams to paint their brilliant colors upon. Different cloud formations produce different effects (including the lovely & rare sun dogs.) Clouds on the sunset (west) side of the sky can also offer interesting breaks for the light to travel through, creating the potential for lovely crepuscular effects. Clouds don't have to be on the sunset (west) side of the sky, however. So long as the long-wavelength light rays can reach them, they'll color up any & all clouds in the sky (note that the effect generally travels east to west as the sun goes down.) The only one place you want to avoid all cloud cover is along the western horizon, which would block the light from getting through, to begin with.
The next consideration is framing or setting. When I see the potential for a really nice sunset, I look at 2 factors; where I'm going to take the photos & how long I have to get there. If you don't know what time sunset is, hold your hand out at arm's length, fingers parallel to the horizon. Each finger width between the sun & the horizon line roughly represents 15 minutes.
As far as setting goes, if you're in the middle of the woods (like my house is,) the trees are largely going to get in the way. Not that that's a BAD thing, mind you, but to me, sunset photography is all about the sky, so I head for open areas. There's nowhere more open than a body of water, which offers the added benefit of the water reflecting all of the beautiful things going on in the sky. Sometimes the sunset makes a nice backdrop against other elements, however. As with anything artistic, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flooding Again

I noticed crews cleaning out culverts & ditches along some of the roads in our area recently and, considering our experience with Hurricane Gustav last year, I was thinking that was a good thing. I was thinking that now that things were cleaned up, perhaps if another tropical storm or category 1 hurricane hit us, perhaps we could stay without our whole neighborhood flooding again.

My thinking was wayyyyyyyy wrong.

We've had very bad, heavy & strong thunderstorms for days now, with tornadoes touching down in various areas. This morning the main road out of the neighborhood was flooded badly enough that I couldn't go to work. Our backyard was flooded, too (see photo,) forcing us to feed the birds on our deck. We've seen the yard flooded many times before, so I figured it was still no big deal. By noon it seemed that the water in the yard was going down, although it rained again after that. At 2pm I figured I'd go for a drive & see if anything had improved. Unfortunately, things had gotten worse. By the time Charles got home (around 4pm,) much of the neighborhood is completely unnavigable. I looked in the backyard again, & the water there has definitely risen again.
In comparison to our Gustav videos from last year, the water's currently equivalent to the levels seen in Parts V, VI & VII. The fire department's been cruising the neighborhood. I'm not sure why, but at least we haven't been forgotten about out here in the boonies.
The worst part is that we're expecting more very bad, heavy & strong thunderstorms this afternoon, tonight & possibly some tomorrow. The only benefit this time around is that we still have power & even if it does go out, at least temperatures aren't unbearable.
So much for my thoughts of staying put through any future storms. If only I didn't have to keep learning these kinds of lessons the hard way!

(Ironically, our little neighborhood was just on the New Orleans news this evening. The video is in the upper right hand side of this article about it.)

(Update, the next morning; Regardless of even more rain that fell overnight, the waters are receding. The backyard still looks like the photo above, but the sun's out now & maybe they got the pumps in town--which had been disabled by a lightning strike--working again.)

Congratulations + Announcement (Updated)

I wanted to post a hearty congratulations to my talented husband, Charles, who was recently nominated for a Rhysling Award & invited to be a featured author at this year's Louisiana Book Festival.
This is his 3rd Rhysling nomination, this time in the short poem category for his "Wanting the Mouth of a Lover" poem (from the chapbook of the same name.) He's been working very hard forever now (it's in his baby-boomer blood, I think,) & it's nice to see him reaping some rewards for his efforts.

In addition, we recently booked a 5-day Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise for this coming May, during which we'll be taking in some well-preserved, Mayan ruins at Uxmal. We're both greatly looking forward to this, our first real vacation together in years.
(Update, May 2009; Our cruise was cancelled due to swine flu.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

When You Stop to Look...

Spring sprang in Southern Louisiana at least a month ago now, but only recently have I had time to take another, slow, deliberate wander through my yard, marvelling at all of the tiny flowers and other plants growing in my own lawn.

These white violets are prolific in the back corner.

Our fetterbush has grown quite a bit since last year.

Here are some mystery flowers. Any help with IDs is always appreciated. Keep in mind that these are macro photos of very tiny flowers.

We have TONS of white clover all over the yard (and a little bit of red, as well.) Although I've always appreciated it (as have the local rabbits,) only this weekend did I fall completely in love with their fractal-like structure, at the beauty of details seen only when blown up large-sized (feel free to click for larger images.) Charles aptly noted that they're like snowflakes.

Lately, I'm all about clover photography.

In other news, the recent art show went well. Unfortunately one of my paintings was scratched somehow. I tried to fix it tonight, but I think it's going to need a bit more tweaking. Tomorrow I'm sending out submissions for a show of local artists in New Orleans & I'll be dropping off a painting for STAA's "Spring for Art" show. I'm still working on the BLAC webpage & a painting I started a while back still sits against the wall, unfinished.

(Update, 3/23/09; The New Orleans gallery I sent submissions to is out of business & the STAA wasn't open. I dropped off 2 works at STAA the next day.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Art (Yes, Again...or is it Still?)

I'm happy to report that at last weekend's festival I sold a painting and a print (among other things.) Many thanks to Charles for the help & support, as usual. He rocks (& also sold a book or two!)

I seem to have erred on the Wildbird photo contest deadline. It's May 15th, if anyone's interested. I still doubt I'm going to bother, but you never know...

This weekend, BLAC is holding their "Art at the Refuge" show in conjunction with Friends of Southeast Louisiana Refuges. Portions of all sales go to BLAC and to the Friends of SE LA Refuges. The artists' reception & awards ceremony is Sun., Mar. 22, 3-5pm. Hope to see you there!

In other news, I've really been busting hump working on getting the BLAC webpage up. There's still work to be done, but I wanted to get something up while I'm working on it.

I now have postcards available for sale, $10 for 10 (including standard shipping in the US.) E-mail me if you're interested.

I have a lot of other art projects going on right now, but I won't bore you with the details (until & unless they become relevant!) I'm desperately in need of another nature break. Hopefully I'll get one this weekend.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This Weekend's Art News

Sat., March 14; Charles & I will be vending at the 1st annual LAW Spring Festival. Charles will also be giving a talk on dreams at 3:45pm.

Sun., March 15; Weather permitting, Abita Artists will be at the Trailhead at noon, painting (& offering a few pieces for sale.) In case of bad weather, we revert to meeting at the Abita Springs library at 3pm.
(Update; Due to 70% rain in the forecast, we'll be at the library at 3pm.)

(The photo is of a female red-bellied woodpecker in our backyard last month.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Cover & Award (Updated)

Finally completed the book cover I was working on. This was a bit of a rush job (we both agreed on things we would've done differently.) The original, 11x14" acrylic painting doesn't have the writing on it--I added that digitally afterwards.
(Update 5/9/09; Later the publisher decided to go with something else.)

In other news, I rec'd a "Blog of the Day" award this past Tues.;
Blog Awards Winner

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Work vs. Sanity...Now with Alligators!

I've been absolutely swamped with art or art related projects lately...

1. I've been working very hard on a potential book cover (that I'm planning to have finished by tomorrow at the latest.)
2. Yesterday I dropped off 2 paintings for the Krewe of Erin's 25th Anniversary (Celtic themed) Art Show (which I have to pick up on Monday.)
3. I'm working to finish up designing the new webpage for the Bayou Lacombe Art Center.
4. March 14th I'll be vending at the 1st Annual LAW Spring Festival.
5. March 15th Abita Artists will be engaging in our various arts (& hopefully selling a few things,) out at the trailhead to raise interest in the local arts. I have a half-finished painting that's been lying dormant for a little while now, so this will be a good opportunity to work on it.
6. March 15th is also the deadline for Wildbird magazine's 21st Annual Photo Contest, so I have to decide ASAP whether or not I'm sending anything in for that (as of right now, I doubt it. Update; The Wildbird deadline's actually May 31st.)
7. March 31st is the deadline for Direct Art's Volume 16 Competition.
8. March 31st is also the deadline for Axelle Fine Arts "Art Now 2009" show (in New Orleans. Update; I learned March 23rd that this gallery has already gone out of business.)
9. I'm trying to get a hold of the Slidell Art League, to have a photo I'd submitted to a show (last month,) transferred over to their gift shop.
10. If I can find the time, I'd also like to write a letter to the editor of Inside Northside magazine, regarding their recent article, "Celebrating Local Art," which doesn't much, really.
(Update, Mar. 10, 2009; When I wrote this post, I'd forgotten all about a show with the Bayou Lacombe Art Center coming up on the 21st or so, so stick that between #6 & 7.)

So today Charles & I took a well-needed nature break (as usual, click for larger images)...

Although not formally part of our nature break, I wanted to share this better photo (taken in our backyard this morning,) of our local brown rat. Note how well fed she looks. Isn't her coat lovely?

We enjoyed a "Can I Eat That?" hike at Fontainebleau State Park today, where we were treated to extras, as usual...

The owlets were not in the nest. Fortunately someone else in the area spotted them in the next tree over, where I got this shot.

We were delighted when the guide pointed out this alligator from the boardwalk over the marsh. We were even more delighted when one of the kids on the walk pointed out a 2nd one. Both are in the next photo (along with a coot & a tern.) Do you see the 2nd gator?

Macro shot of some type of oxalis flowers (thanks to Tom for the ID!)

In other news, a bluebird fledgling alit on my car twice this past week, a red shouldered hawk was in the backyard yesterday & one of the hairy woodpeckers I spotted last weekend has been back since then (perhaps we'll be hosting hairy woodpecker chicks this Summer.)

Now I must get back to work...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Today in Music History

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy 63rd birthday David Gilmour,
Happy birthday to you!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Owlets and Oaks (Updated)

Charles & I went for another walk at Fontainebleau State Park (on the grounds of a former sugar plantation,) this evening, this time to see the owls' nest. There was more than that to see, of course...

Inside the newly opened visitor's center, a 600-800 year old cypress canoe.

One of dozens of crawfish holes (here in Louisiana, crawfish is "the other white meat.")

A few of the ancient, Spanish moss-draped live oak trees. (Update, June 2009; An 11x14" matte photo print of this is currently available for sale.)

For scale, here's a picture of Charles against the trunk of the tree in the foreground of the previous photo.

Spanish moss.

Great horned owlets.
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