Thursday, March 29, 2012

ASPCA’s Mega Match-A-Thon Adoption Event Unites Local Animal Shelters

Normally, my blog is focused on photography and gardening pics and tips, but today I want to take a different turn  and share with you news about an event happening this weekend, dog and cat adoptions.

"Oh My Goodness- Sounds Exciting!!!"
"The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) is one of seven local animal shelters and rescue organizations participating in the Mega Match-A-Thon adoption event, presented by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). On Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1, hundreds of dogs and cats will be available for adoption at the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) with special adoption fees—$40 for dogs and $20 for cats. The AWLA will simultaneously hold an adoption special at the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter in Alexandria, VA, honoring the reduced adoption fees.

The two-day regional adoption event will feature animals from Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland, all in one location. The Mega Match-A-Thon will take place from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day at the WARL facility at 71 Oglethorpe Street in Northwest Washington. Adopters are required to bring government issued identification and proof of current address, if not included on the identification. Cat carriers, leashes, collars, and harnesses will be available for purchase, but adopters may bring their own. All adoption fees must be paid in cash or by credit card. More information about the Mega Match-A-Thon can be found at

"A Great Way to Spend the Day"
The AWLA will also have dogs and cats available for adoption at $40 and $20, respectively, at the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter in Alexandria, VA, on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1. Adoption hours at the shelter remain the same, with doors opening at 12:00 PM and closing at 5:00 PM. Mary Beth Mount, Acting Executive Director of the League, says, “We’re thrilled to participate in the ASPCA’s Mega Match-A-Thon with our local animal welfare allies. The exposure our animals receive through such a high-profile event is invaluable when it comes to finding permanent homes.” Mount added, “This extraordinary opportunity isn’t just limited to the animals on-site. We’re honoring the Mega Match-A-Thon adoption fees at our shelter all weekend long.”

Joining the AWLA and host organization WARL are the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Fairfax County Animal Shelter, Montgomery County Humane Society, Prince George’s County Animal Shelter, and the Washington Humane Society. The ASPCA awarded 56 organizations nearly $500,000 in funding for Match-A-Thon events throughout the country. “We hope the grant funding will help these rescue organizations—in collaboration with other groups in their community—save a record number of lives during the ASPCA’s ‘Mega Match-a-thon’ event,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “If we all work together, we can find loving homes for the many homeless animals in shelters across the country.”

Visit for more information on the Mega Match-A-Thon, and for more information on the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

And, if you are not able to adopt a dog or cat, but would like to help in some way, I'm sure they could use various items like blankets, dog food, cat food, and money to assist in their work.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cloud Photography

"Lord, Keep Me Safe"
Look up into the sky to see the clouds and fascinating objects, designs, or scenes that you are missing!!

Obviously, NEVER look at the sun or focus your camera at the sun!  If you look to the skies before or after a storm, you'll be amazed at the colors and designs you'll see floating by- and sometimes you'll see a rainbow.  

I caught this image after a severe thunderstorm went through the area, which is why I named it "Lord, Keep Me Safe."

Also, remember to take precautions in protecting your camera and gear from the weather.  Some cameras you can use outside in the rain without concern.  Others, you need to wrap up look a gift!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Sprang, Grass Rose... now it froze

Typical Northern Virginia Spring.  Warm, then cold, then really warm, then cold, then chilly, then kinda warm, then jump into the hot Summer until the Fall weather arrives.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Spring's warm weather and the heat of the Summer- can never get too hot.  But, the switching back and forth even after living here for way too many years, I don't get used to it.   Maybe it's age.  Maybe it's that I've been hibernating way too long and want to get out!!!  Don't know- but am ready for the weather to warm up and stay warm or hot until it absolutely must change back to fall.

"Spring's Pink Phlox"
I look forward to seeing the crocuses bloom, and the daffodils poking their heads, since it means Spring is coming.... but my favorite is when the Phlox begin to bloom.  I have about 6 - 10 planted throughout my gardens with a variety of colors including pink, red, candy-stripped and white.  I plant these and let them grow wherever they want to throughout the gardens (especially the wildlife habitat garden).

Enjoy your day- I hope the weather is as you like it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday's Thought -O for a Thousand Tongues - Organ Piano Duet

The news from the Doctor was great- better than expected for he had suffered pain like this and it was bad news- broke something or it was on the way to breaking.  And, the news from the Physical Therapist was even better.  He had been this route before with other situations and health issues so he prepared himself for the worst.  Not to be negative, but to counter the negative with a positive attitude would help him win.  Instead, he found himself in tears, for God had blessed him beyond his wildest dreams or thoughts.  He cried until he could cry no more, but then wondered how he could possibly ever thank God for these blessings that he is not even able to express in words to the closest friends.

The thought rang through his mind as the week went on after receiving the news.  Then, it dawned upon him to sing the hymn, the one which reminds him of a desire to praise, "Oh For A Thousand Tongues To Sing!"

"My tongue will speak....... of your praises all day long" Psalm 35:28 NIV

"O for a thousand tongues to sing My Great Redeemer's Praise,
The glories of my God and King, The triumphants of His Grace!

My Gracious Master and my God, Assist me to proclaim,
to spread thro all the earth abroad The honors of Thy Name!

Jesus, the name that calms my fears, That bids my sorrows cease,
'Tis music in the sinner's ears; 'Tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the pow'r of canceled sin, He sets the pris'ner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me."

Words:  Charles Wesley, 1707 - 1788
Music: Carl G. Glaser, 1784 - 1829;
arr. Lowell Mason, 1792 - 1872

He particularly noted the 3rd verse of the song, and remembered the many times that God had calmed the fears of medical tests and the results, His Presence during the MRI's and other times when he felt alone- God would be there quietly holding his hand.

A true story- name withheld to maintain privacy for my friend.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

From The Dog's Paw - Dog Photography by Allen

I have wanting, for quite some time, to start photographing dogs for a rescue group and for clients.  For some reason, I hadn't been able to completely get my act or ideas on the subject together.

Late last year, I was able to work with PetConnect Rescue as a volunteer photographer and gained experience in that area.  I am absolutely loving it.  So, with that, I started working towards develop a product service of photographing Dogs and Cats and came up with the name "Paw Pals Photography by Allen."

Departing my ways of a stuffy artist, "Paw Pals Photography" is about getting great and fun pics of your dog or cat with little or no computer editing.  I try to bring out the personality of your pet in images you will cherish. You can use the images on prints, gallery wraps and certain


products.  Or, you can order a CD of high resolution images and print them yourself.   All you need to do is contact me, via email ( and I will send you an info. sheet and a contract.  Once a date is selected the funs begins and you'll be on your way to photographs of your special companion.  My work, for now, is limited to residents of Northern Virginia and Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties in Maryland.

Have a dog or cat recently diagnosed with a terminal illness?  Want photographs for memories?   Please contact me at to learn about "Project Smiles."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday's Thought

"Springs Tulips"
I got a bit of good news this week and was sharing it with a friend.  She sent me two Scriptures, which are my favorite but in a different translation/version/paraphrase of the Bible.  I'd like to share these two with you:

"I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]".  Philippians 4:13 [Amplified Bible]

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.  Isaiah 40:31 [Amplified Bible]

The second Scripture is my favorite and has been a source of encouragement and strength for over 20 years. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Itch -be Careful!!!!

I have to share this thought with you today.  Since it has been so warm in late winter, not even spring, "officially",  yet, I find myself thinking I need to go buy my annuals, mulch, perennials and get everything all done before too late in the season.  Be care the "Spring Itch" doesn't itch you so bad you go out and buy all these plants only to find out-

"Spring's Crocus"
Well, March 17, is way too early in the Northern Virginia area to plant annuals.  Realistically speaking, we could still have a snowstorm or frost.  As people have laughed about this statement, I remember many years ago, snowstorms dumping 1-2 feet of snow around March 23-25.

If you bought and planted annuals, not only do you risk a snow killing them, but a frost could do the same.  The frost date here in May 10. After that, you can, supposedly, get them in the ground and not worry.

And, of course with annuals, you can cover them with plastic to prevent them from dying in during a frost, but the weight of snow will crush them.  Also, I've not had much luck with covering annuals.  Maybe it's just me, but the last few years I brought 2 Gerber Daisy plants in April, that I knew I would not be able to find later in the season.  I was correct.  However, when I covered them, as instructed, I noticed the flowers didn't bloom nearly as well throughout the season as in years past.

So, today, though warm it might be, I won't be planting annuals or perennials (these will be done in April), but am looking forward to starting yard clean-up and trimming some bushes in desperate need of whacking- yes, my neighbors know and have taken precautions for their children and animals and themselves too.   Happy Gardening.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Phlox of Spring

"Phlox of Spring"
One of my favorite blooms of spring is the "Phlox."  There are many varieties available and I don't remember the name of this particular type, but they are all beautiful. 

For spring blooming, I have planted several different colors throughout my flowerbeds to give a variety across the garden.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Macro Photography and Gardening 2

"Black Bee on Arizona Blanket Flower"
Yesterday, I started discussing Macro Photography.  This is an area of photography that has captured my attention and I will be focusing on it as the garden season begins.  When I am working in my gardens, I keep my camera ready and close by.  Also, I tend to keep it in my camera bag or covered with something so that when I totally forget it's there and I am using the water hose, it doesn't get ruined.

This image was taken with the 1:1 macro lens.  The lens allowed me to get up close and capture the detail of the bee.  I was laying on the ground trying to capture this and get as close as I can.  However, you don't want to "disturb" the bees, so you need to pay attention to their movement. If they move away when you get close, back off a bit and try again.  These bees generally do not sting, but if they feel closed in or under attack, that can change.  I use the theory, "respect the bee", and have gotten some good shots.    

This bee is gathering nectar on an Arizona Blanket Flower was is a perennial is our area depending on the severity of the winter.   This year, I think everything survived the winter since it rarely got that cold- my kind of winter!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Macro Photography and Gardening

"Red Tulips in the Sun"
I love this time of year, although not my favorite, it ranks pretty close to it.  We are coming out of winter and headed to spring.

As I am cleaning up winter's debris and stuff left over from last fall, I am noticing the plants are starting to show. I am careful when cleaning up, not to pull out any new growth.

When I am working in the garden, or even just looking at what I need to do, I love to have my camera with a macro lens on handy.  A macro lens will allow me to get great close-up images of flowers, birds, bugs or anything else I would like with incredible detail.  

I use what's called a "1:1" macro lens which means it's a dedicated macro lens, not a "zoom" or a "close-up" or any variation thereof.  When I was shopping for a lens, I had to learn the specifics of what I wanted to accomplish and the lens I wanted to buy because they are not cheap and I didn't want to get one that wasn't really a dedicated macro.

With a dedicated macro, I can photograph insects up close making them look huge and present great details.   In future writings, I will add more images of macro work.  The image presented today, "Red Tulips in the Sun" was done with a macro and allowed a close view of the flower.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


"Field of Tulips 2"

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! . . . 
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring is Coming!!!

Yesterday, the weather was absolutely beautiful- even the winds that kept blowing me off the sidewalk was great.   The temps. were mild, the sun was out- all of which goes into stirring my "Spring Itch."

"Field of Tulips"
I mentioned the "Spring Itch" a few posts back, so I won't go into it again.  In celebration of the "Spring Itch", I want to share this image.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

End of Season (Fall) or Late Winter Chores?

There are several opinions about how to do your end of season yard work chores.  You can do it at the end of the season (last fall), late winter, or early spring?   Some things you have to do at the appropriate time, such as planting blurbs or annuals or pruning certain bushes and trees.
I like to save my end of season chores from the fall to the late winter or early spring.  In the fall, I am not too happy about the chilly/cold weather coming on and am usually busy with other stuff so I don’t do very much in the way of clean-up. The leaves get raked so they don’t ruin my yard. Since winters here in Virginia can be downright cold or enough to freeze snot sometimes, I will put mulch around the plants, trees, and bushes in my garden areas.  This is like tucking them to bed for a long winter’s nap.   Why can’t someone do that to me?
Another thing, I let the perennials to go to seed in the late season so they can become a food source for the birds throughout the winter.  The Goldfinches, Bluebirds, Cardinals and Blue Jays that stay around all year, enjoy nibbling on the flowers in the cold weather.  Although, I maintain several feeders and a heated birdbath (yes, a spa for birds), they seem to like the additional resource.   And, it adds fun to watch them.

By the late winter, I am so ready to get outside and do something “gardeny”, that I will dress like an Eskimo (if needed) just to get out and do a few things.  I will even deal with the freezing snot routine!  These chores are generally my clean up stuff.  I cut back all the perennials (keep those seeds though- put them in a can or something for later!!!)   This year, I am trying something new by adding “edging” to the work list.   I love a clean-edged garden, but by the time I would get to it- after everything else is done, the ground was too dry and hard or the season was almost over.   This year, I am trying to time the edging with the spring rains so it’ll get done. If I need to go back and clean it up after I mulch this spring- can go that or as I go.

Be sure to get a couple of cups or cans with lids to store seeds from your perennials.  Freezer bags work too.  Label them with the year and name of plant, then place somewhere where the dog can’t get them and spread them throughout your yard because he likes to play with plastic bags or whatever he can get his teeth on!  Yes, from experience I speak.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday's Thought

[1:1] Blessed is the man[f1]
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
[2] but his delight is in the law[f2] of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
[3] He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
[4] The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
[5] Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
[6] for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalm 1 ESV)

[1] 1:1 The singular Hebrew word for man (ish) is used here to portray a representative example of a godly person; see Preface
[2] 1:2 Or instruction

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spring Itch

This time of year is difficult for me and most other gardeners.  The "Spring Itch" hits. Sometimes it hits during a snowstorm and I dream about the spring yard clean-up, planting, mulching and other fun activities the season holds.

This year, since it's been such a warm winter, the Spring Itch hasn't been too bad.  But, I still have it. I noticed my "Pansies" are starting to come back and bloom, the daffodils are poking their heads up- the season is coming!!

"A Blue Pansie"
My first project of the season is a good yard clean-up.  I use a metal leaf rake and clean up the dead grass, leaves, sticks, and anything else that wasn't cleaned up last fall when the yard was raked thoroughly.  This usually yields several trash bags of stuff.

This year, I started edging my gardens during the first warm day in February and the ground was still soft from rain and snow.  I love the look of a well edged- trimmed garden, as long as there are no straight lines, of the season.

Speaking of straight lines in gardens, I have one along the fence line in the backyard.  I plan on adding a few plants in the area this year, they will be native one, and giving the garden a bit of a curve.   Of course, I have to do this when the dog isn't around as he won't appreciate me taking more of his yard.

The "Spring Itch" has hit and I'm making my list of chores (funny word for something I love to do) and begin working on them soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A New Focus

A friend said, “Do what makes your heart happy.” That was nearly a year or more ago and it still rings in my mind quite often. 

I started photography to share my passion for nature with others.  I thought, “capture some great images, matte, and frame them and I’ll be rich in a matter of no time at all.  People will love my work and buy off the website from all over the world all while sharing my love of nature.”  Well, while I have a great group of clients who buy my work and are interested in what I am doing, my dreams of bazillions of purchases and eating at restaurants better than Burger King (no offense, BK, you are my favorite!!), hasn’t materialized.

The other thing I noticed is it seems that most photographers have a subject or a “focus”.  I didn’t do that as I “focused” on the unique beauty of nature and tried to take my clients on journeys through nature from birds and flowers to landscapes (again hoping there would be some sales and I’d become famous), still at Burger King.  As I watched and listened and learned, I quickly discovered that my heart wasn’t in all this, so I needed to reevaluate my “focus.”  And, it became quite a bit to do. 

During this period of evaluation, reflection, introspection, inspection, thinking, and thoughts, I was interrupted by a request from a rescue group to photograph a dog.  Apparently, the dog wasn’t getting much attention so they were hoping that a good image of the dog might help.  Well, it did.  And, I loved it.   The interruption of my attempt to be an intellectual and think things out turned out to be a blessing.  One beyond my intellectual thinking – thanks Melinda!!!

Last summer, I spent some time photographing my gardens using my macro lense and even had an exhibit of those most excellent works in the fall.   Discovering the aspect of nature through the macro lense was exciting.   And, then came more emails and requests to photograph more dogs.  Once again a blessing.

So, I am turning my lense towards the dogs, cats, and gardens.  My true loves in photography. When I write a blog with an image accompanying it, or just post an image, you can purchase it at my website.   And, if you have a dog you’d like photographed, let me know- my session fees are reasonable to cover my expenses and I would love to meet your dog and you.   Details about this in another post.

My blogs?  This one will concentrate on gardening and related images.  The other one, will focus on dogs, cats and assorted related topics with various images. 

"Red Gerber Daisy"

It’s going to be a fun journey, as it’s been already, hope you will join me for the trip!!