Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Few Days in the Smokey Mountains

As a nature photographer/artist, I look for different things in nature to photograph. I look for the unique beauty that is easily missed. This tree that hadn't bloomed yet, or may have been dead, got my attention while traveling.

This image was taken outside my cabin near the Smokey Mountains National Park.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Day Made for You?

Have you ever had a day where you felt like God created it just for you? You didn't really ask for it..... but He created the day just for you?

Yesterday was that kind of day for me. It's been raining here for 11 days straight. Not necessarily a non-stop rain, but every day for the past 11 days we've had rain. This has made it hard for me to travel to the mountains or to do much gardening. Although I'll garden in the rain, when it's warm, it was difficult to maintain the yard and do some of the final clean up stuff, like cleaning up mulch or dirt, when it's raining. And, not to mention, it's been difficult to get to the garden centers for one reason or another. Things just were not coming together like I'd like and was frustrating because I love my gardens. I have a container garden where I plant flowers that I don't want my dog to get into, a Backyard Wildlife Habitat (certified by the National Wildlife Federation) and a garden that surrounds the foundation of the house. With all the rain, I've really missed my time of planting and mulching and even weeding.

Although I like my full time job, especially since working there provides my essentials of life, it's been a little too stressful lately. So, I planned a day off for yesterday. The plan was to go to the mountains, relax and photograph. BUT, the rain was to continue.

But, when I woke yesterday, the forecast was calling for beautiful weather here. So I decided to take the day off, not go to the mountains, but stay home and work in the yard. I took off for Lowes. They had a bunch of flowers and stuff I really needed in the garden center. So I loaded my Forester, went home and planted and planted some more. THEN, it came time for the second round of trips to get annuals. Off I went! I stopped at Layng's Nursery first, and find EXACTLY what I wanted! ZINNIA's. Not just a few, but the exact count! Then found more flowers that I needed and after a stop at Meadow's Farms, I had a full load of plants in my Forester once again!

I got home and planted and planted and planted and planted and planted. You get the idea. Then, it dawned on me, it'd been a perfect day..... the sun was out most of the day but it wasn't hot (although if it were, it'd been fine with me), I found all the plants I needed at my favorite nursery, Layng's, and was able to plant most of them and mow and trim the yard. Once I realized what happened, I felt God's smile and said, "Thank You for a BEAUTIFUL DAY!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Great Worship Experience

I have gone to Church all of my life. Seems like from the day I was born, I was in church. Looking back, at age 46, I find that commitment has been really worth it. Not only from the perspective that my faith and belief in God has grown, but I've gotten to know Him on a more personal level. A Worship Experience for me is a personal visit to the Almighty who gave me life.

The church I attend with my wife has a traditional Worship on Sunday mornings. Organ, Piano, Choir, Hymns, the whole 9 yards of a ultimate traditional worship. For me, the beauty of worship on Sundays is when the choir, congregation, organ, and piano come together in harmony to sing the beautiful hymns of the Church, such as "How Great Thou Art" or "To God Be the Glory." The music takes you to an experience where you feel like you are in Heaven with the angels praising God.

Some Sunday evenings, I get to attend another Worship service at 5 p.m. at Convergence: A Creative Community of Faith. The ministry of the church is to reach out to artists in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area. Worship gatherings are held in the lab and are not your typical Worship service, they try to incorporate the arts into a service. Poetry, readings, and other forms of art are used to bring you into a time of study of God's Word. Each week is something different. As an artist, I find the worship experience brings me to a time of worship God as the person and artist I am. An acceptance of me, as unique and odd as I am, and my art brought to the Worship of God.

Gardening and Macro Photography

This year, the garden season snuck up on me faster than in other years. This is a good thing as I enjoy the warmer weather much better than the cold. But, so far we've had more rain than sun. That's been great for the plants, too good for the grass and not enough for someone who enjoys the sun like me. So, I have been playing catch up in some ways. I've mulched one section of my garden which is around the house. I still have to do the backyard habitat area which isn't too bad, just a lot of work.

So, Friday night and yesterday, I ran to Lowe's and Meadow's Farms to buy the plants I need to start planting my annuals, perennials and other green places. I buy about 35 plants to place around the front yard garden, create a new garden (had to have something for the spot where the Barberry bush died) and my container garden. I bought petunias, verbana, salvia, Arizona blanket flower, gerber daisy and some really neat looking plant that I don't remember the name. I spent most of yesterday planting my new plants. First I had to repair a space where a barberry bush died. I lost a few plants in the new garden I planted last year, probably due to the drought and my not being able to constantly water the plants. So, these were replaced, then on to the backyard where I planted flowers in pots which will highlight the deck area and a container garden that I created where an old swing set used to be.

So, this morning, I am sore. My side hurts. My back hurts. I feel older than I was yesterday. But, I can't wait to go back outside after church and plant some more.

My macro lens is going to get alot of use this spring and summer. Today's image is of my neighbor's tulip. I have been experimenting and trying to get a good close up of the yellow tulips, inside the bloom and out.