It’s all downhill from here..

Top of the world, ma! Timmy on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.2010_Aug 29 RMNP-109-








Stellar’s Jay, RMNP

2010_Aug 29 RMNP-47-













Bonneville Salt Flats…with a storm approaching…

2010_Aug 27 SLC-19-

Because it’s not a vacation without some broken down structure or another attracting my attention…..(after sunset, behind a fence, and barefoot…Timmy just shakes his head and pulls over) Montpelier Idaho.

2010_Aug Vacation-22-

We were on the “If it’s Thursday it must be Paris” tour of the country!

2010_Aug Vacation-10-

Ok, one more wildlife image…..Elk frolicking in a stream, RMNP…2010_Aug 29 RMNP-138-

We are leaving the Denver area today (after hitting up one more quilt store—I am going to spend the better part of the next week trying to ignore any others, I SWEAR!)

So, it’s all over except for the unexpected gems we may run across on our way home, seemingly just in time to be greeted by Earl…oh, joy. But you must have rain to get rainbows, I suppose…2010_Aug 29 RMNP-193-

We watched this rainbow form as we were driving out of Granby last night…from our view it never got any larger….

Vacation, part two…

2010 08 24_1025 Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone, (Canary Springs?)

2010 08 24_1180- Timmy and I on Beartooth Pass.

2010 08 24_1274 Yep, REAL wildlife this time. Bison, Yellowstone.

2010 08 22_0605 I rented a 200-500 zoom lens before leaving. This is Crazy Horse, up close and personal….(and what an inspirational project…)

2010 08 22_1089 President Lincoln, Mt Rushmore (For scale comparison, all of Mt Rushmore can fit in the space behind Crazy Horses head …)

2010 08 23_0787 Devils Tower.

I have too many images, by the way! I have to do some serious culling and editing before I post to my website, but figured I would continue to offer a taste….we are having a BLAST!

Florida…10 days, 1000 photos?

Florida…10 days, 1000 photos…does that seem excessive? No? Good!

Now, the hard part. For ME, uploading, eliminating, and post-processing.

For YOU? Waiting to see all my fun vacation shots (and guess what, we are even IN some of them this year!!  PHOTOS )

We had 10 days of fun in the sun. We went to…

Wait, no. How about I post about the kind of things we did, by photo folder? I was able, for instance, to pre-edit down to ONLY 49 sunrise/sunset pictures. Those are the ones I am going to run through Photoshop Elements and process. (That means I DUMPED an equal amount. I need you to understand how many I have sacrificed in order to keep my computer from crashing, and to keep me from going blind sitting here, or getting fired for forgetting to go to work while I play with my pictures, lol!)

Nah, maybe not. it would be a very inefficient process, considering I am not nearly that organized. I barely feel capable of saying I have a routine for processing (that I actually STICK to).

This is what we did, where we went, and what we saw. I will link photos as I get them finished, (for the moment, by folder) which means you will need to keep coming back to see things. It also means you need to encourage me to keep posting by commenting!!! (SUBTLE harrassement may get the photos up sooner, you never know)

We left Virginia on Friday afternoon.

Saturday, April 25th Jacksonsville—quilt shopping at The Olde Green Cupboard (getting the important things out of the way first), lunch with Timmy’s online friends at Mojo’s, then GUANA RIVER STATE PARK BEACH.

St. Augustine, roaming through the streets of America’s oldest city, then Daytona Beach by dinner time. Ate at Buca Di Beppo’s, which turns out not to be an overgrown crazy Guido Italian family thing but a wildly outrageous, gaudy Italian delight…

Then The Daytona 500 Speedway, then DAYTONA BEACH , where we took the PT Cruiser out onto the sand for a photo-shoot (his shoot, not mine, I only modeled).

By now, it’s Sunday night. Drove to Cocoa Beach and had a lovely romantic anniversary-eve dinner at The Mango Tree, and then enjoyed a dip in the pool and spa. Up early Monday for sunrise on COCOA BEACH photos.

We spent our anniversary at the Kennedy Space Center, (my camera set on JPEG this one day only PHOTOS )…. It was an amazing place, I will admit!

Monday night, since we were running late, we delayed plans for dinner with an online friend of mine and headed to Homestead, so we would be at the beginning of the Keys Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, lunch at 7-Mile Grill on Marathon Key, and managed a mid-afternoon arrival at Key West. This means we only stopped occasionally for photo ops. We found our wonderful accommodations at the West Wind on Eaton St. We picked up our trikes and meandered our way down to Mallory Square to get an overview of the place before sunset.

We misunderstood the depth of fervor over watching the sun set, as we had scoped out a few choice locations for viewing at 4 pm, and then abandoned them to ride around town before sunset, at 8pm. We witnessed a possibly career ending injury, one of the hands on the docks where the cruise ships leave, got his fingers caught between the ropes and a pole as they were leaving….he was incredibly stoic and quiet while stuck, and walked away, but the next night, our sailing crew said it sounded as if it may be an unfixable injury… gives you pause, to think how things can change in an instant, as we had sat there, watching them casually wait out the cruise ship, enjoying the sun and the weather along with everyone else. (don’t think I’ll share THOSE photos)

Sunset in Key West is viewed as something between a carnival and a religious experience, with an equal number of people simply mesmerized by the setting sun as those who were partying and enjoying the joie de vivre that is Mallory Square. I was conscious of this fact before arriving, but it is truly an experience not to be missed. To think, the sun does this EVERY day, everywhere, and how few of us stop to consider it….A perfect sunset Tuesday, applauded at it’s conclusion, so that all could find their way to Duval Street for further festivities and celebration!

But still, amazing sunset pictures.

Wednesday, more of the same, (which, while reading a simple line, may come off as ho-hum, but don’t believe it….we had more of the SAME….sun, fun, water, people –and rooster– watching) and despite a low cloud that cut short the display of the golden orb as it touched the horizon’s edge late that afternoon, we were out on a sunset cruise on a Sailing Catamaran. You can’t beat that! Timmy reveled in the experience.

Thursday found us saying goodbye to the Keys, (after Key Lime Pie on a Stick for breakfast and a quick stop into The Seam Shoppe ) and heading to Miami. We had dinner at Scorch with an online friend of mine…. A delicious dinner, wonderful high energy atmosphere, and fabulous company!

Friday we drove out to SOUTH BEACH for a bit, (the beach-y bits, it was 11am) took in the skyline of Miami, and then along the northern edges of the Everglades, got some wonderful photos, and even caught an alligator trying to cross the road. Sanibel Island for sunset this day, and again, it didn’t disappoint….

Saturday, we had plans to take in Caladesi State Park, in Clearwater, but decided to take a brief detour. We found ourselves spending the entire day in Tarpon Springs, and out on a cruise to the Gulf of Mexico, where we watched dolphins enjoy the wake of our boat.

Sunday Honeymoon Island was the final beach destination, instead of Caladesi (so close of course, but time…..) and the de facto end of our 7th annual honeymoon vacation to somewhere. We swung back across the state that night in time to get into the world’s largest Harley-Davidson shop so Timmy could gawk.

Monday was a travel back home day, trying to avoid the rain (which we did surprisingly well, considering the number of times we looked overhead during the week to see our little black rain cloud, which we take on vacation with us EVERYWHERE, hovering, waiting to rain on us…)

Monday, home.

Tuesday? Rain.

Wednesday? Rain.

Today? Rain.

Thank goodness I have all these sunny beach day photos (and some peeling skin) to prove I ever left!

(—-WHERE, you ask, are the photos??? A THOUSAND, I said… it’s gonna take time… look back on occasion for the word—PHOTO—to be hyperlinked….I’ll get them up, I promise [not all 1000…who would want to look at 1000 vacation pictures that belong to someone ELSE?? Didn’t that all go out when Slide projectors died??]—)

BEACH bound…

BEACH bound…

We are beach bound….which is a totally different animal than SNOWBOUND….off tomorrow on our 7th annual ‘honeymoon’…this time to Florida… My first time! …And not a minute of it will be spent inside a Disney edifice, thank you very much. We will meander along the Atlantic coast, taking in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Cape Canaveral, Miami, a few days at Key West, and then back up the Gulf coast to Sanibel Island, Clearwater, Tampa, and St. Petersburg. (or there about….our itinerary is fluid with the exception of needing to be in Key West Tuesday)

It’s all about the BEACH. Did you know the beach may provide health benefits? Negative Ions are in abundance at the water’s edge apparently, and they make you feel better. Now that’s the kind of prescription I’m all about!

My feeling about the ocean are well described below, in a fan fiction story I wrote. My main character just had an argument with her boyfriend, and she ran down to the water’s edge. (other than the argument and the not being a big picture, philosophical, sappy person, it’s a pretty auto-biographical snippet)

The ocean has always had a calming effect on me. I don’t know exactly what it was that did it, but I loved the water. I loved the exhilaration of the beach in the deep winter, when the only other life out there with you was the birds; and I simply adored the beach in summer. I slipped back to my childhood as I hit the sand, holding my flip-flops and wiggling my toes in the hot, rough texture, feeling it ooze between my toes.

I ran as best as I could to the waters edge, and stood, with the water lapping around my ankles. I watched my feet with the same awe that I had as a child as they disappeared, wave after wave, until I couldn’t balance any longer. Oh, for childhood again, when the only problem in the world was who was going to be my best friend that week.

The roar of the ocean was stupendous. I had reached that magic part of the beach, where the sounds of civilization disappeared and all you knew was the earth, the sounds of the waves blocking out all other things. My mind emptied then, as it always did. The waves were hypnotic, and my heart began to keep pace with their ebb and flow. The sun was hot, and the water was cool. The breeze was a perfect blend of warm sunshine and moist, briny coolness.

I stood, and absorbed the power that was emanating from the pounding surf. I looked towards London, or would it be Spain? Italy? I’m not good with geography, but I looked far, at the curving horizon, broken by one looming dark orange freighter. Otherwise it was a pristine swath of blue on blue-green, with wispy clouds. All is right in the world, or it should be, when standing here, facing the hugeness of earth, the un-ending pulse. The water that caressed my foot had traveled the earth probably. And someday, in a hundred years, that very drop might reach the other side of the world, without my assistance or knowledge. Or approval. I began to walk, the sun to my back, the water dancing along trying to catch me. My flip-flops hung in my hand, my toes curled in the moist sand, and the breeze blew in my face, keeping me cool and creating that odd feeling of walking in place that occurs only on the edge of the ocean.

The feeling of being one with the world– the somewhat thoughtful, introspective Stephanie appeared when I was at the beach. I wasn’t normally a big picture person, and I wasn’t sappy or philosophical on a good day. But at the beach…. I lost track of the time, and of why I was here, alone, as I bent randomly to collect a shell, or to watch a child race against time to build a moat to hold back impending doom. I nodded to the old couples sitting under their beach umbrellas, and I skirted the teens with their surf boards, trying desperately to impress on waves that weren’t up to the task.

With the promise of oodles of photos in a few weeks, I am signing off for the time being…..take care!

Where does the time go?

They say (revise that to IT IS SAID, ‘they’ will be dealt with in another post) that as you get older that time goes by more quickly. Maybe that is why I thought it was just the other day that I posted. Where does the time go, indeed. I just spent a wonderful Easter weekend with my family up in Connecticut. All of the little kids are still insisting on growing a foot between visits and losing teeth and getting cuter. Heck, one of them even got her drivers license!

But that is nothing on the feeling old thing that my daughter pulled on me on Tuesday last, when she had the audacity to turn a quarter century! 25. Amazing. She is a beautiful woman now, don’t you agree? She graduated last May and is still looking for full time work. The only jobs she’s ever left have been because she moved away from them, and even those she found hard to quit, because her boss’s would bend over backwards trying to keep her. She worked for me while in high school and I will honestly say that she was my second best employee. (It’s ok, she knows I favored her boyfriend, Ozzie.) She will do ANYTHING at this point. You won’t regret hiring her for almost anything, almost anywhere. ANYONE???)


Checked in on Dad on the way home from Connecticut. As you may know we have an odd relationship, but he is enjoyable to be around. Keep your thoughts flowing positively in his direction, as some of those spots have re-appeared on his lungs.


So, now that I have all this free time since I am not writing anything currently, you’d think I would have made headway in the studio, in any fashion, right? Wrong.

But, I DID open an ETSY shop. I am selling my photography. I have only two prints available at the moment, because I want to be able to order them, sign them and ship on demand, not have a large inventory. At least that is my idea for the moment. I am TOTALLY open to suggestions as to that thought, by the way. Part of that is probably my lack of confidence in what is considered ‘good’ by other people. The pictures I like are not always saleable. Or maybe that is merely the deep-seated procrastination in me.

I decided to just do it! I have been debating, plotting, thinking and ruminating over my photographs lately. I pull them up on PSE6 and play with them; I colorize, and age, and re-touch new and old images and generally have a grand time playing with them.

…but, it is time to motivate. Get moving in a direction that means something…I need to be more active in pursuing this goal; not forgetting the show deadline at PRAC every month, get down to the show, put art in the show..

…is it laziness or fear?…whichever…


What else….hmmm. Here, click on this link to my husband’s photo page. He went crazy at the New York International Auto Show last week, and has written a very good intro and his captions are amazing (even if you think he may be speaking in tongues)


They think a tornado touched down at the corner of Temple and Puddledock this evening…far better than last year this time, when it shredded part of our roof at work, while i was hard at work under it …(a half mile from tonight’s action…it may be time to get out of DODGE!)

OK. Think we are all caught up.


We are off to Florida on Friday for a ten day vacation…. Beach, sand, sun, seashells…. Bring it on!

Memories are odd things…

Memories are odd things.

I went out last night, to look at the Christmas lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. The night was chilly-not more than the mid 30’s. There was no snow (This IS Virginia), but we were bundled up in the appropriate winter-like fashion-scarves, gloves, hats and even a blanket for Evelyn’s wheelchair, so it FELT wintry. I meandered ahead and behind Timmy and his mom, taking photos (BIG surprise, right?)

So, there we are outside, in the dark, in the cold, and the lights are bright and festive. My mind traveled back to a trip I took in 1989 with my girlfriends. (No one do the math… I do not want to believe it was that long ago, ok? There is a reason I am NOT attaching any of the photos I just discovered of us back then. We were Young, and Thin, and Rene still had hair…) The five of us met up under the Kodak sign in Grand Central (I DID say it was a long time ago, right??), and there began a happy tradition of girls vacations, that last to this day in varying incarnations.

I think it was one of my best vacations ever. We traveled to Quebec City, via Amtrak and an overnight stay at a friend’s home in Montreal. And then crashed again at Rene’s a few days later when we missed the sole train home. (Were the helium-filled heart balloons the first or the last night of vacation? Who gave them to us anyway, was it Rene or Daniel? And WHY were they so nice, allowing 5 virtual strangers to crash, penniless and ill, on their doorstep??) We wandered the streets of Old Quebec, we enjoyed Bon Homme and the Winter Carnival, we marveled at the snow sculptures, and generally had a blast.

I can close my eyes and conjure Rue Petite Champlain, and the piles of snow everywhere. I can see the funicular, and recall the alleyways where art was being sold in the deep cold of February in Canada. And I understood mind over matter, because we wandered around in cold we weren’t used to, for all that we stood on the streets of New York waiting for buses in the snow all our lives. On the radio in Quebec the temperature was announced, I am sure. But as it was spoken in French, and it was calculated in Celsius, we had no clue.

And so we spent day after day outside, and warmed up at little café’s and restaurants like Au Petit Coin Breton; and settled down at night in our hostel exhausted. (And that memory is the only bad one…not the hostel itself, but the traveler from Sweden (I think)  who infected us all with a nasty foreign influenza)

Last night, we wandered into the conservatory to toast our toes and noses a bit, and the heavy moist air of the greenhouse, the tropical plants and colors spurred another memory of Canada, at the Botanical Gardens in Montreal years before our winter visit! And so summer and winter, two trips from another lifetime, flit through my brain, and imbued the lights at the garden with wonder and nostalgia.

All these years later, our vacations together still bring us to tears when we laugh about those good times. Each year we try to continue the tradition in some small way, and while the location hasn’t ever been as magical and romantic a location as Old Quebec City, the fun continues unabated, and the memories continue to be collected.

Our Most Excellent California Vacation


Originally uploaded by rteest42

There are a LOT of photos, folks. Like, almost 1000. But I’ve culled that down in half, and I am currently busy looking them over to try to find the three dozen or so that REALLY say Vacation. Yeah, I know– good luck with that!

We went to San Diego a few weeks back, and I was humorously saying it was to get away from the oppressive early June heat wave of Virginia. (Over 103 for days on end with a humidity attempting to reach triple digits as well) It turns out I wasn’t joking! We stayed with three different relatives over the course of the week. One plain old doesn’t HAVE air conditioning. One has it but doesn’t really use it. And the third, well it’s a new high-rise in downtown San Diego, but they were sure to show us how to turn it off if we found it too chilly at night! Seriously, our A/C has been running since early March.

And then they were tripping over themselves, apologizing for the terrible heat, it isn’t usually so hot here, we’re sorry you came out during this weather. It was around 91, and no measurable humidity. We toughed it out!

Beyond the absolute shock at the temperature, we were pleasantly impressed by how incredibly clean downtown San Diego is and I was surprised by the civil quality of the drivers. They don’t even have traffic lights at every intersection, instead trusting drivers to obey 4-way stop signs, and allow pedestrians the right of way. A lovely, if not otherworldly, experience for this New Yorker transplanted to Virginia where there are no such things as pedestrians.

And I have found a new favorite tree, the Jacaranda. What a beautiful, although I understand, fragile tree. The blooms were a wonderful splash of color on the landscape, along with the bougainvillea. Oh, and the palm trees, and the bird of paradise, and the eucalyptus, with its fascinating peeling bark. Timmy laughed and said one entire memory card was going to be trees if I wasn’t careful.

I did remember to take some other photos as well, but sadly realized as we got on the plane that at our last stop, we never did gather Betty and Herb together at the same time to take photos with them!! Sorry!!!

Our flight out was uneventful, if not delayed bizarrely. Anoki and Michael met us and took us out to dinner at a pub called the Tilted Kilt, where Timmy had a sandwich that he then thought about the rest of the vacation. Talk about peaking early!

With our vacation clock firmly set on slow, we managed to make it to the San Diego zoo around 12:30, but had sit down and chat more with the guys at lunch first. Totally fun but definitely cut into our monkey viewing time. Next time, we should arrive at opening. And go for two days. Then, maybe we would have gotten to see everything. However, it was all good, because the baby panda, Zhen Zhen, who was seriously involved in naptime lying on a tree branch, decided to make herself more comfortable. She did some complicated gymnastics on her ‘balance beam’ and turned around and posed for us!

So, for now I am going to leave you with these shots over on Flickr to enjoy. As I edit more, I will post more!