Category Archives: Photographs

I see your true colors shining through

Slow down and take a minute to see the world around you.

That’s what I’ve been trying to do recently as I attempt to improve my photography skills. I review beautiful images all the time in my work as a magazine editor, but my own photos tend to be snapshots taken for the sake of sharing information. I’ll grab a photo of my cats lying side by side so I can show my sister how much the younger one has grown, or I’ll capture a favorite book passage for later reference. But I rarely take the time to frame a picture, find the best light and ensure I’m giving the subject my best shot.

Several recent conversations resulted in my giving photography more of attention. After admiring some of her work, I asked my friend Rachel to meet me for a photo session in which she would offer me advice.

Before that session, which took place Saturday at Railroad Park, I reviewed Rachel’s post offering tips into taking photos using an iPhone. I downloaded her recommended apps and met her on a sub-40 morning for a walk around the park.


Thanks in part to the temperature, we spent more time gabbing over cupcakes and chai than we did shooting in the park. But the shots we grabbed and those on-site conversations were instructive. I walked away realizing that I can take a decent picture by simply taking my time (I never thought I’d capture such great reflections of downtown in the park’s lake!), and a little careful editing can make a picture pop.

20140217-153059.jpgI’ve got plenty to learn, but I’ve already asked Rachel to promise a future get together. And in the meantime, I’ve got ample opportunity to capture my two favorite (feline) subjects in their best light.

Today’s subject line comes from Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” I’m sorry for getting that stuck in your head.


Filed under Autobiography, Photographs

Makes me tired, and I want to go to bed

I woke at 5:50 this morning, with little agenda for the day and few responsibilities beyond the care of two very playful cats. It’s a refreshing pace after several days in New York, where I spent nearly all my time talking–with friends, with friends of friends, with my sister, with her friends, with the occasional stranger on the street (because I’m Southern, and that’s how we do things). Being a visitor means staying in motion. It was exhilarating, as New York always is.

But I’m an introvert. I crave quiet moments in coffee shops (and I enjoyed a few of those in the City!), and my perfect Saturday morning involves waking too early, drinking multiple cups of coffee, finishing a book and talking only to my feline companions.

Later today I’ll head downtown for a picnic with friends, then perhaps I’ll pop by a used bookstore to sell some of my collection, then the library to shelve books in advance of next week’s sale. But for now, I’m grateful for this peaceful morning.

This morning’s subject line is from Ryan Adams’ “These Girls.”

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Filed under Autobiography, Bits & Pieces, Photographs

Scenes from a city

I spend my vacations much as I spend my life: sitting in coffee shops with paper and pen. This is the view from this morning’s second coffee shop (and my favorite so far), Milk Bar in Prospect Heights.

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I start walkin’ your way, you start walkin’ mine

My friend Mark and I were in the middle of a long-overdue catch-up phone call when I told him about my impending “date” with my favorite 2 year old. Recently I’ve made a habit of hanging out with my friends’ son. He just became a big brother, so I figure a little time spoiling him is a worthy investment. This child and I have quickly bonded.

“We live in different worlds,” Mark said.

Mark’s living it up in D.C., working on Capitol Hill and living his dreams. And though two of my last three dates involved a 2 year old, I’m living mine as well.

The weekend before my Chick-fil-a date night was packed. I attended Art on the Rocks that Friday night in one of my very favorite dresses. After mixing, mingling and scavenger hunting, some of our crew was ready to go but our rides were still socializing. So we walked. A mile. In our party clothes. With a plate of mashed sweet potatoes. The group had planned on a quick trip to the pool after the art museum, but we were quickly thrown out by pool security. Instead, the night ended with pizza and wine around the apartment’s fountain.

Saturday was low-key, and I didn’t leave my house till at least 4 p.m. Decked out in our more casual garden party clothes, a girl friend and I attended a benefit in the city’s urban garden. And though I’m not good with spontaneity, we then traveled to a wine bar for appetizers and, of course, wine. After persuading two of our guy friends to join us, we made a meal out of hors d’ouevres and settled into a relaxing, random evening.

During a post-church dinner the next night, the group planned a Monday night ice cream social. It was just the latest in what we’ve dubbed our “college nights.” Although we range in age from 23 to 34, there’s something about these spontaneous “school night” gatherings that we love. Maybe it’s the warm weather or our undying youth, but we love Tuesday night pool parties and dinner parties, like the one I just returned from.

And then Tuesday I took my favorite 2-year-old boy out for ice cream, balloon animals and playground fun.

Yes, Mark, we live in different worlds–and while I know you’re content with your place in life, I enjoy my quirky blend of single gal-about-town and domestic queen. I adore my little world, and I love the people who populate it.


Filed under Autobiography, Photographs

How do I feel by the end of the day?

One good turn deserves another, right? Missy Marie fearlessly plagiarized something I wrote a few weeks ago, and now I’m doing the same to her.

Although we’re five hours apart, distance isn’t much a factor in mine and A Re’s friendship. We talk on the phone probably 15 times a week (and I like to hope that most of the text messages in my in and out boxes are hers, because we’ve got free mobile-to-mobile and I hate getting charged for exceeding my text limit!). While we were chatting the other night, she was finalizing a blog entry that included a list of things that make her happy. She read them aloud, curious to see how many would appear if I made a list.

A list? Of things that make me happy? Sounds like a good antidote to a week filled with allergies and appointments (even if those appointments could, theoretically, be included on said list). So now, with nothing but love in my heart, I’m ripping off and editing her list, then adding a few of my own.

Things that make me happy

  • Hot tea and a good book lying in my big cozy bed (this is actually what I was doing when Apryl called!)
  • The beauty of flowers (especially daffodils and tulips)
  • The way that certain songs make you remember a person or an event
  • A feeling of accomplishment at the end of a work day
  • The spontaneity of just up and leaving town to go visit friends (last weekend!)
  • How sweet and perfect children are when they’re young (Heck, how obnoxious children can be, while still being completely lovable. They’re not always sweet, and they’re certainly not perfect, but I do adore them!)
  • Having friends who I know I can always count on
  • Being a friend that people know they can count on
  • The feeling of wearing high heels and pearls (I don’t actually own pearls, although you should feel free to buy me some…)
  • Movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Notebook, High Fidelity, Love Actually and Runaway Bride—stories that have a happily ever after without the story book romance (I hate hate hate HATE The Notebook, and I would have to add When Harry Met Sally, of course.)
  • Writing in my journal—not to be confused with blogging, there’s something about ink and paper (Amen, amen, amen)
  • Singing loudly and off key to sappy love songs when I’m sad and up beat pop when I’m getting ready to go out
  • A latte with 4 sugars and cinnamon powder on top
  • Learning new things
  • Looking to the future
  • Hours on the phone with my BFF
  • Being alone but not lonely
  • Ending a day of work with a vineyard wine tasting
  • Saturday and Sunday mornings spent in bed with obscene amounts of coffee and obscene amounts of reading material
  • Rereading a new favorite book, even though I just finished it two weeks ago
  • The fact that my cat is always, always so thrilled to see me that she will follow me from room to room to room (including the bathroom… crazy cat)

  • Anything with green leaves
  • Cooking for one at the end of a long day
  • Driving through rural Alabama with the windows down and The Beatles turned up
  • People who really know me
  • Pens and paper
  • Hope
  • Grace
  • Alabama
  • Blue skies
  • Enjoying a beer on a back deck with lots of friends
  • People with whom you can talk for hours without running out of things to say
  • People with whom you can be completely silent without being uncomfortable
  • Community
  • Red high heels
  • Beatles, barbecue and a book on a Friday night


Filed under Autobiography, Bits & Pieces, Photographs

Too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean

My week, so far, in random pictures, especially for Sara Beth:
Sunday supper

Sunday night supper: Salsa (homemade–my first, and it was a hit), creme fraiche mashed potatoes in the oven, shortbread cookies in progress, grits on the stove. For some reason, on Sunday and Monday nights this week I decided I needed to cook three things at a time. But planning ahead’s not such a bad thing.

Lemon display

Monday night creation: Lately I find myself cooking with creme fraiche and lemons as often as possible, so I finally bought a full bag of lemons instead of two or three at a time. It seemed far too depressing to stick them in a refrigerator drawer, but I was out of big bowls–so I turned instead to this crystal vase. I like.

(I may have gotten carried away with lemons in my dinner, though. I had a lemon-thyme pork chop with linguine–made with creme fraiche and lemons, and I made fresh lemonade to drink. That’s the beauty of cooking just for myself!)

Milk with SBMilk with Jamie

Tuesday evening: I was in a weird, stressed-out mood, so instead of working late (as I probably should have) I went to a friend’s apartment. Conversation can always be a little amusing when Jamie, Sara Beth and I get together–but this time, it resulted into hugs and, well, hugging milk glasses. We may not be cool, but we are not a boring people.

Dagny dog

Tuesday night: My bed buddy. I dog sat for a friend’s German shepherd last night. I stayed up far too late writing, so I couldn’t bring myself to protest when Dagny crawled into bed with me. (I did protest when she wanted to go for a walk at 5 a.m. We almost made it until 6:30.) Just for perspective: Dag weighs about 20 pounds less than me. Not a small dog.

The end.

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There’s got to be a love that’s stronger than our fear of everything being out of control

I’ve got a weakness for several things–at work, they have appropriately dubbed them my soap boxes. Letterpress, words and (of course) Southerners rank near the top of the list. I fell in love with this little $5 poster at Kentuck last fall, and have found myself increasingly enamored since I framed it and hung it by my front door. I’ll often stop and re-read it on my way out, or even cross the room in the middle of dinner just to take another look.

These words (an excerpt from his 1949 Nobel Prize banquet speech), and my Ole-Miss-English-grad coworker, are convincing me that I need to give Faulkner another chance. 

He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

William Faulkner

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Merry Christmas from Dixie to everyone tonight

Christmas in February

Linn Park at about 6 p.m. on Feb. 11

Looks like Birmingham forgot that Christmas was nearly two months ago. Lighting up three random trees in the park is a waste of money, I’m sure… but the Christmas lights still make me smile.

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Filed under Bits & Pieces, Photographs

Our hearts are traveling faster

Oh the joys of life as a pet owner. My buddy Wes and I have been trading pictures of our cats over IM, and Luke and I have been discussing dogs. Non-pet people don’t understand why this would be a worthwhile discussion after midnight on a Monday morning, but those of you who house and love animals know the truth.

Princess Emerald Louise
Emma knows that the media pay her mommy, and her mommy buys her food.

Contessa Topaz Jealous
Tessa is really my dog. Don’t tell Heather.

Lady Lilly Ann
“Lemme outside! Now! Now! Now!” Lilly thinks you don’t understand unless she says it thrice.


Filed under Bits & Pieces, Photographs

Some things you want will just never be right

I left my parents’ house in 1999, and never once have I been nostalgic for Jacksonville. I wish my parents lived closer to me, of course. (Mom just can’t seem to convince Dad that Birmingham is the place to be!) But I left that city without a glance back.

It seems strange, then, that visiting Birmingham feels like coming home. I realize my roots here don’t run deep — I lived in the ‘ham only eight months before moving back to Disgustaloosa. I don’t have the sort of network of friends here that I have in other places (that is, ridiculously deep and connected).

But man, does it feel good to be back, even for a weekend.

I went to a Barons game last night, just for something different. (We got our butts kicked, but that’s another subject I think.) Then I spent today at coffee shops — three of them, actually. My aunt and I took up space in a couple different Starbucks, then I had some much valued CJ-time at O’Henry’s.

Then it was to my much-missed, dearly-loved RMC for church. I’ve enclosed the prayer we used for confession at the end here… it was like a punch to the stomach. Oof.

I watched daylight fade to dusk on the deck of this amazing house atop one of the “mountains” in town, then spent the next hour transfixed by the city lights and enjoying conversation of friends as it swirled about me. It was so good to see my community group again, to get caught up on what’s happening in people’s lives and to just hang out. I love those guys!

As I sit now in my old room at my grandmother’s house, I feel kind of like I’ve returned to my high school bedroom. I know I was way out of high school when I lived here, and like I said, it wasn’t for that long… but it’s just comfortable, y’know? A lot of my stuff is here — I’ll even be sleeping on my own sheets tonight!

I don’t know where I’m going, only from where I’ve come… and it is a road lined with fond memories and friendships, even amid the potholes and confusion. My God is good.

Our Father, though we take your name on our lips, our hearts are far from you. The words we speak are untrue. When we say “yes,” we don’t mean “yes,” and when we say “no,” we don’t mean “no.” We like to think well of ourselves, and yet we are finding that our hearts are laced with self-protection, malice and deceit. O Lord, for the sake of your name, do not remember us according to our sins, but according to your great love.


Filed under Autobiography, Faith, Photographs