Friday, July 30, 2010

Birds of Lake Moultrie

While in South Carolina, my friends was kind enough to take me out on the boat in Lake Moultrie.  It was a great opportunity to soak up some sun, play in the water, and catch up with the people I just don't see enough.  Along the way, we spotted many birds and my friends were kind enough to slow down so I could get a few photos.  This top one of the osprey is my favorite.  They are fish eaters and swoop down here and there catching lunch.  This one had nested on top of the warning sign and was not too pleased to see us.

Here is a heron, resting on a branch near the shore, amid a tangle of kudzu.  I know I'm supposed to hate kudzu because it is an invasive non-native species that chokes out all other plants in its path, but look at it -  it is just SO green.  I confess I think it is kinda pretty.

This egret was perched high above us in a dead tree.  I wish I could have gotten a closer shot, but I am still so impressed with the strong lines his legs and neck and beak make.  They are such graceful birds.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


My folks had a deck built while I was home this summer and when it was completed, Mom and I potted lots of plants to make it look pretty, including this yellow hibiscus.  I've had a hard time narrowing down shots, so that means more for you to look at.  I hope that's a good thing!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mocking Birds

Mom and I were sitting on the front porch one morning before it got too hot and noticed two baby birds hopping around on the lawn.  It was such a delight to watch them exploring.  I of course grabbed my camera (with long lens) and began snapping pictures.  The second I walked down the front steps and off the porch, I heard the momma bird screeching at me.

She was in a nearby cedar tree, glaring at me. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Downtown Charleston

Oh, downtown Charleston, how I love thee.  Let me count the ways.

Verdant vegetation growing up, over and between centuries-old brick.

Venerable live oaks that arch so gracefully above the streets.

Sacred houses of worship on every corner.

Brightly painted sidehouses with double verandas.

And massive, opulent homes that are fun to pretend might be your own.

Though I have never lived downtown, I grew up nearby and spent a lot of time wandering the streets.  It feels like home, maybe not quite as intimately as my own neighborhood, but it feels familiar and cozy nonetheless.  I don't always make it there when I am home visiting, but I do try.  There are lots of historical homes to tour, and lots of places to shop for haute couture and art, and lots of amazing places to eat.  I am, in fact, on a mission to eat at every great restaurant downtown, and on this visit checked one more off my list.  A friend and I went to Hominy Grill, a place that gets rave reviews for its southern fare.  All for good reason, we decided.  Our porgy was perfectly cooked and topped with a little crab for a double dose of delicious seafood.  I think we both got an entree, though, so we could try out some of the side dishes, like tomatoes and okra and squash casserole.  These aren't things I make a lot at home, but they sure are comfort food.  It was all very, very good and I would highly recommend Hominy Grill to anyone looking for classic, clean Southern food. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Puppy Love

There is a danger in being around  a litter of adorable puppies for two might just fall in love.  I did indeed have a favorite.  This little boy was the sweetest little thing and was the only one still willing to come back when you called. He had a sense of adventure, sure, but still wanted more than anything to be with people.  And he looks like a little teddy bear.  How cute is that?  With Happy and Little Bear at home, I never REALLY considered keeping him.  But we sure spent some extra quality time together taking photos.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Marissa Swinghammer was one of the first artists I noticed when I began browsing Etsy.  I loved the style of her multi-layer, multi-block, one of a kind woodcuts and knew I would end up with one on my walls.  But first I had to choose!  I find myself disabled by choice, on occasion, so I marked the mLee Etsy shop as one of my favorites and checked back often.  It was when I saw this piece, "Delicate,"  that I knew I would be placing an order, but not for myself.  This image reminded me of a particular friend so very much but I am always hesitant to buy art for my friends...I worry I'll choose something they don't love.  So I asked my friend which print she liked best from Marissa's shop.  It made me feel so good when she chose the same print I had in mind.

Well, it would be silly not to combine shipping charges, right?  So I also ordered the print that I had my eye on for a while, "Moonlit Garden."  I had changed my mind so many times between prints, but I am so glad I chose this piece.  It has a serene but energizing feel that I find so appealing. 

Marissa has an interesting variety of prints in her shop, and she works with so many different colors.  This one, "Growing Poppies," has such a playful feel to it.

I love the drama in this image.  The close-up of the hair and eye is hard to look away from.

In addition to strong shapes and colors, the multitude of layers in Marissa's prints are what give them such great life, and this one is no exception.  "Pines in Fall" makes my eyes move around and around in a spiral and I feel like I see it differently every time they come back around.  It conveys a complexity to me that echoes the complexity that can be found in all life when you take the time to look at things closely and from different angles.   Marissa has a talent for making simple things look complex and also for making complex things look simple.  That makes for art that is a pleasure to look at again and again. 

If you're interested in getting to know Marissa, visit her blog.
IMAGES: Marissa L. Swinghammer

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fox Terrier Puppies

Once again summer at my parents' house was marked by a litter of adorable fox terrier puppies.  It truly is a joy to watch these little ones develop into their own personalities right before my eyes during my weeks there.  My folks are so good at raising these puppies.  They get so much love and attention, as you can see.  They work with each one every day, playing and grooming, and just making sure they are getting the kind of care that will help them become well-adjusted doggies when they go to new homes. 

These puppies were six weeks old when I arrived and were eight weeks old when we took most of these photos.  They change a lot in that amount of time.  When I arrived, we could take all five out on the lawn and play together, and they would just orbit around us.  But by the time I left, a three out of five were feeling so adventurous that they didn't come back when called anymore, and you'd have to chase them down.  

So, they began leash training.

It is kind of hard to leave all that cuteness behind, and to know they are going to be sold.  But, I was lucky enough to get a puppy to take home from the very first litter.  My sweet dog Happy is sitting beside me as I write this. 

Even though it is sad to see them go, in the end, all that cuteness is good for the soul.  And it makes me glad to think that five more people in this world will get sweet, curious, rambunctious little doggies just like mine!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back from South Carolina

Hello, everyone!  I'm back from my visit with my folks in South Carolina.  We had a wonderful time and I took lots of photos that I will begin going through today.  This picture was from our last day together.  Mom and Dad took me out to Queen Anne's Revenge on Daniel Island where we had a great dinner and got to see some really neat pirate artifacts.  It was too dark inside to get good photos, but there were lots of interesting displays, including a huge model of Blackbeard's famous ship, for which the restaurant is named.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Off to South Carolina

Good morning, everyone!  As you read this I am on my way to the airport for my annual summer visit to South Carolina.  I'm so excited to visit with my folks (and their new litter of fox terrier puppies) and to see some of my friends.  Maybe we'll hit the beach or visit downtown Charleston.  Who knows?  Last year's visit ended with my dad having some surgery, so let's hope this trip is a lot more fun and a little less serious.

I don't have any specific photography outings planned, but subjects just seem to happen by, like this pretty dragonfly.  So when I return in two weeks, I hope to have a few things to share with you, and believe it or not, I still have Alaska photos and also Rocky Mountain National Park photos, including the best elk shot I've ever gotten.  In the meantime, enjoy your summer (or winter if you are down under)!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pronghorn Newborns

Not only is it the time of year for green grass in Wyoming, it is the time of year for the newest generation of pronghorn (antelope).  I see a large herd of pronghorn when I drive to Laramie, nearly every time, and this momma was surely from that same herd.  I pulled over the car and shot out of the window with my long lens for this photo, but I didn't realize just how young those babies were until I got home and looked at the images.  They are just born, and I feel bad for even pulling over if I made this mom nervous.  Clearly, she sees me.  And even though she wasn't far from the highway, this isn't a national park where the animals are used to the attention.  I feel I overstepped the boundaries on this photo, though I didn't realize I was doing it at the time.   I feel uncomfortable even sharing that with you all, but we do all make mistakes from time to time and have to learn from them. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wyoming Green

Contrary to popular belief (and most of my photos), Wyoming can be green.  Every year starting in June, the hillsides and the plains use all that winter snowfall to green up and the result is beautiful, but fleeting.  By the end of July, it will all be golden again.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Ours was relaxed and is still technically ongoing :)  But I wanted to share a couple of photos from the garden.  The daisies are in full bloom and are just so pretty, don't you think?  I know they are so simple and common, but I really think they make my yard look so cheery.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Alaska: Launching Boats

This is the view from Lowell Point Beach looking back towards the few houses that mark the end of town.  It was a popular spot from which to launch boats. 

Here is another view, just from behind the mussel-covered rocks.  If you look closely, you can see someone launching a boat with what looks like a small tractor.

Well, that's the end of the week, already!  I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July, if you're in the States, and just a lovely weekend all around if you're not.  See you Monday!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alaska: A Walk In The Woods

I spent an afternoon hiking this trail that climbs a ridge over Lowell Point Beach.  It was very pretty at times.

It was rather sinister at other times.  There were several other folks taking this same trail, but I noticed I was the only person walking alone.  And nearly everyone had dogs.  Plural.  So even though I really wanted to make it to the top and get a photo at the scenic overlook, I chickened out about three-quarters of the way up when I saw some bear scat in the middle of the trail.  Seeing as most bear attacks happen to someone who is alone, and seeing as I am terrified of bears, I began to think maybe I was a bit foolish to be out and about by myself.  But, if you know me, you'll know it was no small feat of confidence to hike in bear-infested woods in the first place, so I'm chalking this one up as a victory.