Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Amazing Sarah Palin's Naughty Monkey Shoes

Who would have thought that a former Vice-Presidential candidate's shoes would sell for more than $2025 on eBay??

But a couple days ago, 14 bidders liked these funky red shoes enough to bid it over two grand. They were being sold by Sarah Palin's niece, after she received the shoes as a gift from her famous aunt. She decided to put them up for sale, and has offered to include the photos of Palin wearing the shoes. Niece has also offered to have her Aunt Sarah autograph the shoes, which surely will increase their value, especially if she decides to run in 2012.

Don't you wonder what John McCain would get for his loafers???

Sarah Palin's Naughty Monkey Shoes
(and no, I haven't a clue why they are called that0

Thursday, January 22, 2009

TDP - Tom's Morphine Kisses

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. We discovered two weeks ago that Tom was having a serious reaction to his pain patch, and had to discontinue. He switched to pills, which can be difficult for him to swallow, but his system has adjusted and the pills are going down well most of the time.

Then he was scheduled for a colonoscopy, which required him to not eat any solid foods for two days. But it was not successful, due to Tom's inability to drink enough liquids to clean himself out completely.

So yesterday, Tom had his second colonoscopy in eight days. Only this time, he had a two day prep which required him to drink a total of two gallons of medicine, taken over one and a half days prior to his test, and before that he was on a clear-liquids-only diet for a full day to help his system clean out.

He was determined to get it all down. He knew that if he didn't, they'd just schedule him for another colonoscopy. They don't give up on you at U of M hospital. And he wasn't about to go through it all again. Twice was definitely enough.

We had steeled ourselves for the worst, convinced that the test would confirm more cancer.

The doctors were running late, about an hour behind on appointments. I sat in the waiting room, alone. The families of the earlier patients had left. Tom was the last patient of the day. So I knitted for more than an hour, getting lost in the softness of the yarn, and in the concentration of the pattern I was working. (I have to admit, the pattern was super easy - and my concentration level was super lousy.)

I heard footsteps, and looked up from my red scarf (yes, another red scarf, for a friend who deserves a bold thick scarf for his wintery chores) to see Tom's nurse walking the hallway towards me. I froze, expecting bad news.

Then I noticed she had a big grin. Nurses about to deliver bad news don't sport big goofy grins. That confused the heck out of me, since I'd been agonizing over the realization Tom's latest cancer.

I stood up, dropping my knitting. She gave me a big hug and said such wonderful words: "No cancer." He had no colon cancer!!! I was so shocked I hugged her, almost crushing that poor woman, and broke down into tears. In fact, we both were pretty teary for a few moments. I asked her to tell me again, wanting to be sure, and just wanting to hear those words again. She told me that she'd been there during the whole procedure and that the doctors had found absolutely nothing. Nothing!!!

Turns out that sometimes the colon lays in such a way that when scans are taken, it looks like a dark mass, when in fact it's just the shadows of the colon and how it lays. It doesn't happen often - Tom is just one of the lucky ones.

It was SO good to have happy tears instead of what I had been anticipating. I shoved my knitting into my bag and headed for the Recovery Room.

When I arrived, Tom was still a bit dopey from the anesthesia, but was awake and talking. And talking. More talking. He'd already been given the good news, and I gave him a huge hug and many kisses. In his slightly altered state, he asked the recovery nurse to bend over towards him so he could tell her something. Sweet woman, not knowing Tom is a real character, leaned close to hear what he was saying, only to receive a giant smacker of a kiss on her cheek! Tom was one very happy man, and since she had delivered his good news, he was spreading happiness around!

She turned bright red, and with a big smile told us that she'd never had a patient kiss her after his colonoscopy.

I received another set of kisses (dopey Tom is a still good kisser), and Tom gave specific instructions to both nurses to give the doctor a kiss from him too. Uh-uhhh, said both nurses simultaneously - Tom would have to do that himself. Well, it was the thought that counted . . .

So thank you, everyone, for all your Tom prayers. They worked. And now for the best part - we learned last week that if Tom had colon cancer, he wouldn't be able to participate in the trial study. We were devastated. But now we know that God means for us to forge ahead - and Tom will start chemo in the trial study next week.

We are strong. We are loved, by our family and our friends. We are blessed to have all of you in our corner, and so thankful you care enough to say a prayer for Tom. You are all the best.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"I Love Your Blog Award" Nominees

Recently I received an I Love Your Blog Award from Jamee of Jonara Blu Maui. Thanks, Jamee!!

I want to pass it on to some other good bloggers who deserve recognition. My own list of I Love Your Blog Award winners is below.

The rules of this award are:

1. The award winner can put this logo on his/her blog
2. Link the blog of the person you received your award from
3. Nominate and link to at least 7 other blogs
4. Be sure to leave a message on the blogs of those you've nominated


My favorite blogs are hereby nominated for the "I Love Your Blog Award":

1. JonaraBlu Maui - beautiful custom beach jewelry from Hawaii

2. The Adventures of Woolgirl and Abby - fabulous quality yarns and first-class personal service

3. Jim Connelly's Blog - not your typical marketing blog, this one has seriously usable ideas

4. CameraDojo - photography podcasts plus excellent site for photo info of all kinds

5. Marjorie's Cracked for one-of-a-kind jewelry that will bring lots of compliments

6. Paul Burwell's Wildshots - a wildlife photography blog, this guy is one really good wildlife photographer. He's from Alberta, Canada, and is a contributing editor for Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine and a photography instructor at Metro Community College.

7. Writing Roads - be sure to check out Julie Roads new free LOVE e-book, available February 11 - 14

Friday, January 16, 2009

When You Car Looks Like This, It's Winter For Sure

This is one of my shots accepted at Shutterstock, a photo that my husband Tom would prefer to forget.

Last year at this time, he was sitting in an intersection when a young man hit him. No one was hurt, the other driver was at fault, and our insurance covered it. But my little Kia van drove around with this ouchie for about two weeks until the body shop could get it in, and I decided that it needed to be immortalized by a photo, so here it is in Shutterstock - just in case you need a bashed-car photo!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Wedding Photography Tips

Recently I advertised as being available for shooting small weddings, and - in preparation for
taking on someone's most special day - I've been brushing up on wedding photography ideas.

I'd recently run an ad locally on Craig's List, and already have had one contact. They're looking for someone to shoot their wedding early in May, and have limited funds. Luckily, they're having a small wedding, only around 50 attendees, so it would be a good practice wedding for me. Still waiting to hear back from them, which may never happen as there are quite a few photographers using Craig's List for local advertising

In the meantime, I've been researching wedding photography tutorials, and found this one through Digital Photography School:

Wedding Photography - 21 Tips for for Amateur Wedding Photographers

There's some really good ideas in this post, especially about pre-wedding preparation for the photographer, as well as simple things like turning off your camera's sound so your won't disturb the proceedings.

It's a good read, definitely worthwhile, and I've bookmarked it so I can find it again easily. Although it's suggested that these are tips for amateur photographers, I beg to differ. These are solid ideas that every wedding photographer - pro or amateur - can use to increase their skills.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An English Wedding Photographer's Tutorial

Ran across this interesting teaching video on shooting weddings, thought some of you might enjoy seeing how it's done on the other side of the pond.

The vintage car used in this shoot is really fun, but throughout this video it appears the bride model would rather be anywhere else. Or, she just hates to smile.

It was pretty funny to see the instructor talk about blown skies when his videographer was having a difficult time with his light balance, but the tips in this tutorial are thoughtful and useful.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blog Tag!!

Jamee, of Jonara Blu, tagged me at her blog, along with five others bloggers. It's a fun way to share some really interesting blogs with others - here's how the Blog Tag game works:

1) First , you link to the person who tagged you on your blog

2) Then, you post the rules on your blog

3) Then you share 6 random things about yourself (try not to scare your readers away!)

4) At the end of your post, tag 6 people and link to them

5) Be sure to let each person know they've been tagged

Be sure to visit Jamee's Jonara Blu blog, also her Jonara Blu ~ Maui shop. She lives in Hawaii and custom designs beautiful jewelry - her stuff's fabulous. She often does matching sets for brides and their bridesmaids, so peek in for some really great gift ideas.

Okay, now to the fun "6 Random Things About Me":

1. I just started knitting again, after a 30+ year absence, and am having a ball with it! Five scarves in eight days, and there's a whole lot more to come.

2. There's only one kind of chocolate - MILK chocolate! That dark stuff is way too bitey. Chocolate shouldn't be vicious.

3. I've been a photographer since I was knee-high, learned from my press-photographer dad. If only he were still here to see all the neat stuff they've done to his beloved Nikons!

4. My four rescue cats all think they own me, and I can't get them to understand that I'm supposed to be the boss. Well, at least one day a week.

5. I drive a Kia Sedona, and - even though it's a really inexpensive car - I love it. It handles well in the snow, has an excellent heat/a-c system, and I can get a whole show's worth of antiques in it!

6. My bestest friend in this whole wide world is my husband Tom, who makes me laugh every day. Even on his bad days. He's just the bestest.

And I'm tagging:

1. Joanara Blu Maui - her Hawaii pictures and her life there show so beautifully in her photos

2. Paul Burwell's Wildshots - top-notch wildlife photography ideas and tips from one of the best in the business

3. Woolgirl - beautiful handpainted yarns, so many different kinds it'll make your head spin

4. RGebbiePhoto - Robert and his wife Lori, and their lives as photographers

5. Todd Supe - All You Need to Know About Microstock Photography

6. The LooneyBin - this one isn't a blog, but is instead a forum of friendly photographers who share lots of good camera tips and info, well-worth visiting if you like photography

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Knitting, Knitting, Knitting with a Smile

Tom thinks I'm crazed. Or at least, definitely addicted. I've been happily knitting away, and since January 1st have made four scarves and am now starting a fifth.

I've had so much fun with these projects. The first scarf went to my mother-in-law as a Christmas present, and she was nearly speechless - no one had ever handmade anything for her before. She loves her scarf - it's the honey-colored one I showed a few days ago in my earlier blog on knitting.

I made it a little too big for her - she's only 4'9" - but she can wrap herself in it and be warm. The other night, Tom was talking with her on the phone, and she announced that she had turned down the heat in the house and was cuddled up with her new scarf!

The second scarf I made for a friend. Well, that's what I told Tom. I noticed him looking wistfully when I began the second scarf ( the red one above), and decided that since he looks great in red, the second was to be his. I gave it to him yesterday, and he loves it.

That's Tom below, in the new 6 inches of snow we had today, showing off his new scarf.

It must be a family trait - last night he was wrapped up toasty-warm in his new scarf, sitting on our sofa, just like his Mom.

And then I made another two red scarves, both for friends, and have started another in -finally - a deep multi-blue/brown. I'm having a blast trying out different colors, and will soon graduate to some new project - I have several in mind. (But I'm not telling who will be my next knitting-victim . . . this is way too much fun!)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This was the first sale I had on Ss, on the day after I was approved. I took it in Maine, on one of those Chamber-of-Commerce blue-sky days, with the wind whipping at nearly 25 mph. This flag is huge - it's about 8' tall and 12' wide - and is in front of the Newcastle Dodge dealership on Route One in Newcastle, Maine.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

TDP - Good News!

Tom with his Streak

We've just returned from Ann Arbor, where we met with Tom's oncologist, Dr. Urba. Tom's now finished with radiation, and it's on to (oh joy) chemotherapy.

Dr. Urba covers a lot of ground in a very short period of time. She's a whirling dervish in a white coat, and talks a mile a minute. We noticed that she doesn't walk down a hallway - she has a gait that is almost-trot - and when staff see her coming, they just get out of her way.

She reviewed Tom's progress so far, and then explained that not only was she scheduling Tom for chemo, but that he was eligible for a trial study.

That was music to our ears, since earlier we'd been told that he was no longer eligible for a trial study because his cancer had spread. But Dr. Urba explained that this was a different study from the original - and surprise! - it involved the same drug that was in the original study!

The study that Tom will be participating in allows for cancer spread and also radiation, which was good news since many studies do not allow glow-in-the-dark patients.

In approximately 2 to 3 weeks, Tom will be lovingly infused with three cancer-fighting drugs, one of which is the trial study drug. The other two are standard chemo treatment. He'll have chemo once every three weeks, with rest periods in-between. Dr. Urba has set up three treatments, and then will re-evaluate with a PET scan to determine how things are going. Tom was especially relieved to hear that he didn't need an MRI - he hates them with a passion, and swore the next one he had would be under sedation.

Tom's radiation treatments seem to have improved his tolerance of more types of foods, and he's not throwing up anywhere near as much as before. His energy level has improved, too. His back is still giving him fits, so Dr. Urba prescribed pain patches to give him better over-all coverage.

So onwards and upwards, as we continue this journey - we're strong, staying positive, and we're thankful for all our friends and family, who have made it so very clear that we are loved. Your support means so much - and we're sending good vibes back to each and every one of you!

God bless . . . (and gigantic hugs to all!)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My Cats Believe They are Special

Not too long ago, I took one of our cats in to the vet. Streak become quite thin, and since she's near 17 years old, I feared the worst.

That's Streak at the right, our black and white bundle of "have-to-be-in-the-midst-of everything".

But it turns out that she just wasn't eating as much, probably due to her new dislike of the dry food we'd been feeding her. She's been eating that particular food for years, but apparently her tastes have changed. After a complete check-up, the only problems found were intestinal worms and the early beginnings of kidney disease, typical of older cats.

We wormed her with medicine from the vet, who suggested that we change her food to stave off her kidney disease. We can buy special food from the vet, but at $32 for ten pounds, I decided I be a cat-food manufacturer. The vet gave me the following recipe that is low-protein and low-fat, and easy to make.

It's actually called the Kidney Diet, and can be used for both cats and dogs. This recipe is the right amount for a few cats; you'll want to make more if you are feeding larger dogs.

Kidney Diet

1/4 lb ground beef (do not use lean round chuck)
1 cup cooked rice
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
3 slices white bread, crumbled
1 teaspoon calcium carbonate
also a balanced vitamin-mineral supplement in a quantity sufficient to provide the daily requirement

Cook beef in skillet, stirring until lightly browned. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. This mixture is somewhat dry, and it's palatibility can be improved by adding a little warm water when serving. Keep covered in refrigerator.


Protein 6.4%
Fat 5.0%
Carbohydrate 21.0%

(That's Brutus at the right, our scared-of-nearly-everything cat.)

The vet warned me that it might be tough to convince my cats they should eat their home-made food. She was right, so I added warm water plus a 1/2 teaspoon of wet food, mixed it into a slurry, and all my cats think it's wonderful.

Well,except for Sophia, our torty Persian (below). She refuses to eat anything other than dry food. No people food, no wet cat food - not even chicken or (unbelievably) bacon! She plump and happy to have her dry food, so we haven't tried to convince her otherwise.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My New Year Kicked Off with Good News!

My New Year started off well - I finally, after three disheartening tries, was accepted into Shutterstock. This site is probably the best known of all internet sites for photographers who wish to sell their photos, and is used internationally by thousands of web designers, magazine editors, and other graphic artists who purchase monthly subscriptions to Shutterstock.

It's not easy to get into Shutterstock. Rarely does a photographer get in on the first attempt. They are quite picky about the photos they accept, and it was a learning process for me as continued to submit my photos. They require that you submit ten shots for consideration. If they accept a minimum of seven, you're in. Otherwise, you have to wait another 30 days before they will allow you to re-submit your photos.

The first two times, I missed by just one approval - each of those times six of ten of my offerings were accepted. By the third time, I sent a wider variety of images, and made extra-certain that they were sharp, not cropped too tight (that was one of the reasons some of my photos were rejected earlier) and that the subject matter was salable.

The third time was my lucky number! I am just so pleased, and slightly surprised. Many photographers apply to Shutterstock several times before finally being accepted, and I thought I'd be one too. But to get in on my third try - knowing there are hundreds of excellent photographers out there applying at the same time - really made my day. It was a fabulous start for my New Year.

Shutterstock is slightly different than other microstock-selling sites. Buyers subscribe on a monthly basis and can download up to 750 images over the course of 30 days. It works well for those companies who choose not to have a photographer on staff, since it costs them less to download any of the millions of images available on Shutterstock.

For photographers, it's matter of uploading digital photos easily from their computers. They can do it any time of the day or night, at their convenience. The downside is that you must send in images frequently to stay high on the "recent photos" list. It gains you attention from regular buyers (which is all SS has, since its a subscription service), and keeps your name in front of them. Since every sale nets a photographer 25 cents, it's definitely not a get-rich-quick scenario, but since SS is the leading microstock site the gain for photogs is in the high number of sales each day.

If any of my photographer friends who aren't already on SS wish to use me as a referral, I'd be very honored. My referral link is

With only 1 full day on board, I've had two sales already with my tiny portfolio of eight photos.
SS is now on my New Year's Resolutions List - I'm hoping to build a portfolio of 400 images by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Politically Correct Goofiness

My good friend Dena send this one, and I had tears of laughter rolling down my face after reading it. It's dumb, but it's funny. (Whoever wrote this has way too much time on their hands!)

For my fellow writers, can't you just see using these "suggestions"?


Write or paste the text you want to clean up...

1. She is not a 'BABE' or a 'CHICK' - She is a

2. She is not 'EASY' - She is

3. She is not a 'DUMB BLOND' - She is a

4. She has not 'BEEN AROUND' - She is a

5. She does not 'NAG' you - She becomes

6. She is not a 'TWO-BIT HOOKER' - She is a


1. He does not have a 'BEER GUT' - He has developed a

2. He is not a 'BAD DANCER' - He is
(or "cha-cha challenged.")

3. He does not 'GET LOST ALL THE TIME' - He

4. He is not 'BALDING' - He is in

5. He does not act like a 'TOTAL ASS' - He develops a case of

6. It's not his 'CRACK' you see hanging out of his pants

Thanks for the laughs, Dena! (((hugs)))

My Newest Happiness

A long, long time ago, I used to knit. Like about 35 years ago. But I really didn't enjoy it, and it wasn't long before I moved on to more interesting things (easy enough to do when you're 20).

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the U of M Hospital waiting room next to a woman who was knitting. She was working on a scarf as a Christmas present, and she knitted away as we talked.

For some reason, I just couldn't concentrate on our conversation. Not that she wasn't interesting (she was) - but I just kept looking at her growing length of scarf. I finally apologized to her for staring at her fingers as they zipped through row after row - the woman probably thought I was nuts for staring, but it just was entrancing.

In the back of my mind, I heard this tiny voice mutter over and over. It said, "You could do that." Well, yes, I guess I could, but I reminded myself that knitting just wasn't in my game plan right now.

That same little voice has been bugging me ever since. My Mom was an expert knitter, made sweaters and afghans for all her children and several relatives. For some goofy reason I kept her favorite knitting needles set after she died. I had no intention of knitting, but I just couldn't give away her favorite needles. Guess I remembered all those times when I enjoyed visiting with her as she knit, knit, knit . . . .

She was a hoarder, and the twenty huge garbage bags of brand new yarn she was eventually going to get around to knitting someday just couldn't go home with me (remember, I don't knit) after she died, so I donated them to a local knitters' group that makes afghans for hospital patients. That was in 2003.

Her needles have been tucked away these past years, patiently waiting. Until last week, when that little voice finally wore me down. I bought yarn. I got the needles out. I putzed around for an hour trying to remember how to cast-on my beginning stitches, and then suddenly it all came back after all those years - and I was actually knitting!

I'm only doing simple stuff right now. I'm the Garter-stitch Queen. But doing a mindless pattern of knit one row, knit next row gives me pleasure - I can feel the fuzzy soft warmth of my yarn slipping over my fingers. It makes me completely forget the bad stuff that's happening in my life right now, and allows my brain the downtime it needs.

My first knitting-victim is my Mother-in-law. What started out as a simple scarf is now a thick, cushy stole - I made it a bit wider by accident, but it will keep her warm and cozy. That's me wearing it above. My Mother-in-law will be swamped in this scarf-stole, since she's only 4"10", but she'll wear it knowing it was made with love.

Knitting brings me peace, while at the same time gives me a sense of accomplishment. I can enjoy some gab-time with Tom, and at the same time be making something useful. My cats love to see me knit, as they quickly jockey for position in my lap before I fill it with yarn. They fall asleep, curled under my project, happy and purring. They can't get into my lap when I'm on the computer, since there's no room between my lap and the desk. That really ticks them off. But they watch me anytime I get near my knitting needles, hoping to be the first to claim my lap. Streak usually wins.

It's a feel-good thing - the sense of accomplishment in making something, the cats-in-the-lap, the relaxing conversation with Tom - and I am SO glad I started knitting again.

And that little voice? That was my Mom, and she was right (as usual) - I can knit again. Again she's reminded me not to ignore the little voices, because there's a reason for them. Thanks, Mom.