Photography Links

Today I’ve spent much of the day just perusing the internet checking out some of the wonderful photography sites. One of my passions that has been pushed to the rear over the last several years is photography, and in 2011 I plan to change that.

Here are some of the links those of you interested in photography might also find interesting:
  • Shutter Sisters – A photoblog championing the beauty found with women behind the lense. It is a place for women to showcase their art as well as receive regular inspiration.
  • Northeast Kingdom Photography – This specific link is to the ABC’s of Photography, but the entire site is worth a viewing.
  • 365 Words Through Photos – Looking for inspiration or a unique perspective to jump start your creative juices, then join Jen Hannux on this daily journey.
  • One Word Project – Shutter Sisters offers this great tool, similar to the one above to help spark creativity and to urge you to express yourself through photos. This challenge is monthly as opposed to daily.
  • Mastering Manual Mode – If you’re looking to get more out of that DSLR you received for Christmas, this is the place to do that. The class starts in February, but promises to help you learn all about the new camera and how to use it in other than the “Auto” mode.
  • Big Picture Classes Online – Don’t let the name fool you, the crew over at Big Picture offer online classes in more than just photography. It is also a great place for scrapbookers too.
There are many more that I’m sure I missed, but these should get the juices flowing. If you know of a cool photography site, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment with a link.

Before I Forget by Leonard Pitts, Jr. – A Review

Before starting this review I must first say I will try to limit any spoilers. It is not my intent to give away the story, but I will probably offer more detail than I have in other reviews. So consider yourself warned.
We’ve all heard the old adage “like father like son” and at first glimpse that seems to be the message in “Before I Forget” by Leonard Pitts, Jr. Pitts uses different points of view to tell the story of the three James Moses Johnsons, each dealing with his own dilemma and less than perfect father-son relationship.
We start out with the “junior” of the bunch, Mo Johnson, an aging 70’s soul singer who is confronted with a medical condition that forces him to re-evaluate his life. If this was not enough to deal with, Mo learns five days later that his 19 year-old son Trey, is in trouble with the law. While not estranged from young Trey, Mo has not been the model father or a regular presence in the young man’s life. As if all of this drama was not enough, Mo also learns that his estranged father, Jack, is also suffering from a serious medical condition.
All of this conflict happens within the first 75 pages of “Before I Forget” which definitely piques the interest of the reader and will keep you reading. Set between Baltimore and Los Angeles, the remaining 280 or so pages takes Mo and Trey on a cross country drive and a better understanding of one another. Along the way an old would is healed, but the story does not end there.
To offer depth to this story, Pitts introduces secondary characters and story lines that instead of taking away from the story had flavor, and substance. The underlying story of absentee fathers was presented in a light that is rarely seen – the father’s perspective. Although the reasons noted are not all forgiving, you are at least given a glimpse into the inner workings of some young fathers.
“Before I Forget” is a well written story with a number of intermingled story lines that work very well together. I really enjoyed the character development and the realism exhibited in this work. I would highly recommend this book.

Service with a smile – Please!?

At the very beginning I would like to point out that the following is my opinion and is only based on my experiences. This blog is basically all about my opinion, yet many times I do try to offer viewpoints based on some research and in the future I will use this space to do some reporting. Any reporting will be based on actual research and interviews.
That being said I will take this time today to RANT! Almost daily we are greeted, particularly on national broadcasts, with the grim facts that this country is in a deep financial crisis. Many are edging away from the term recession, however I still believe we are in a recession but then again recessionary like conditions existed in my world before the government wanted to admit it was a country-wide issue.
I don’t offer this description just to let you know that I try to keep up on the news, but to offer perspective for my RANT. So on to the rant. This afternoon I stopped at a national Chicken franchise to grab a bite to eat and was once again confronted with an employee who did not want to be at work! She was very dry, not mean nor did she offer a lot of attitude, but it just left me with a horrible experience.
Now I know that many of you may be saying, ‘Well you don’t know what happened in her life today, she may just be having a bad day’. Granted that could be the case, but on a somewhat regular basis you run into folks with customer service level position who don’t want to offer pleasant service, and that I believe is a disservice to the customer.
With unemployment reaching into the double digits in many communities, I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who would give anything to HAVE A JOB!
As a nation I think we need a wake-up call because entry level customer service jobs are leaving this country daily and then we look around and scratch our heads asking why. The reasons are numerous, but at some point we have to look internally and say, ‘what role did I play’.
That’s my rant, and all I want is a little pleasant service – more often than not!

New Year – New Attitude

Well I’m starting off the new year with a new attitude and focus. This is pretty much how I planned to end 2010, but somewhere along the way I found myself in a fog and many of my plans were derailed. This was not a negative however, it’s just that many of the things that I had hoped to complete in the last 30 days of the year did not happen.

I started #reverb10 with the hopes that this would force me to write everyday, but I didn’t quite finish – at least not the posting portion. Many of the prompts for the final couple of weeks were handwritten, or not completed at all. I may attempt to complete them, and possibly post them later this month.

My next task was participation in Picture the Holidays, which was an online photography workshop offered by Big Picture Classes and unfortunately I didn’t complete all of these daily prompts either. I’m disappointed that it appears I have a problem completing tasks, but I’m happy with the progress I did make. The candle above is the result of one of our daily inspirations.

I think the time I spent writing the reverb10 prompts helped me to get through the holiday season, my first without my mother, and helped me to make it a pretty good holiday. You see at the last minute I decided that I would continue our family tradition of gathering for Christmas Brunch, and I expanded the family base to those who do not share my blood yet have become so much like family to me.

Well with last minute planning comes a whirlwind of activity that kept me pretty busy the week of Christmas. Christmas Eve was very emotional, but I was able to keep it together for Brunch and enjoyed the love that was flowing throughout.

Finally in an effort to end the year on a positive note, I hosted a “Sister Girl Year End Gathering” as an opportunity to bring together some of my dearest friends and say “Thank you” for helping me

get through the most challenging year of my life. We had a blast! The flowers are from a very special young lady who couldn’t attend, I tell you the love I have received is as my niece would say “Awesome”!

About a month before she passed away my Mom said to me, “You’re going to be fine” and through tears I told replied, “I’m glad you think so, because I’m not sure.” Well as always – Mom’s always right! Not a day goes by that I don’t want to reach for the telephone and talk to her, not many go by without me crying, but all in all I have survived the greatest pain in my life and as I approach the one year anniversary I can say – It gets a little easier each day, but the hole in my heart will never close!

Sisters & Husbands – A Review

During the holidays my book club, The Literary Sistas, held our final meeting for the year with a Holiday Gathering hosted by yours truly. The title discussed was Connie Briscoe’s “Sisters & Husbands”, a work that I found very disappointing.

It has been a number of years since I read Briscoe’s “Sisters & Lovers”, but as I recall I enjoyed it and had high expectations for this latest work. “Sisters and Husbands” chronicles a month in the life of the Jordan sisters – Evelyn, Charmaine, and Beverly. A month that just happens to be the four weeks preceding Beverly’s wedding. The elder Jordan sisters are married, Evelyn for more than 20 years and Charmaine is a newlywed – but not new to marriage, this is her fourth husband.

The story could be a very good one, I believe, but all I came away with was total irritation – particularly with the main character Beverly. Although there is an ensemble cast of sorts, the main character would be Beverly – this is her story. She is insecure and while this is her first marriage, Beverly is no stranger to being engaged – this is her third engagement.

Briscoe does a good job of interweaving the three stories, and I won’t go into detail so as not to spoil it for anyone, but the stitches she uses are more like a whip stitch, when a surged stitch would add more depth. Each of the sisters is struggling with relationship issues, some more than others and for varying reasons. The problem for gun shy Beverly is that she begins to live vicariously through her sisters which leads to more drama in her own relationship.

The problems they each face are common to many couples, but I believe the novel would have served the reader better if more depth had been built into the characters. This would have produced a longer book, but I think a more fulfilling read.

At 273 pages, “Sisters and Husbands” was a quick read and would definitely be classified as “Chick Lit”. If you’re looking for a story to distract you from the mundane day-to-day, this would be a good fit, but if you’re looking for an in-depth look at the relationships between sisters and husbands, you’ll be left unsatisfied.