Lunatic with a Lens

Time to get the groceries!

Wallet?  Check.  Phone?  Check.  Keys?  Check.  Kids?  Diapers?  Check.  Camera?

What?

Well now, I ask you: What trip to the market would be complete without a Nikon in tow?

I would have missed these silent watchers if I hadn’t had that crunchy, broken lens with me.  Noticed the sun, looked up blinded, shot the sky.  It wasn’t until I viewed the picture at home that I could see the seagulls up top.  Hey, fellas. 

That same day, my neighbor caught me shooting the dead ornamental grass in our yard.  Her house was in the background.  I think I give her the creeps. 

What are you taking, Heidi?” she asked me.

(Did she mean what PILLS am I taking?  Is there one for the artistically insane?)

I’m taking pictures of anything and everything that moves, and a lot of things that don’t.  Here’s to my fellow lunatics with lenses!

Up Before the Sun

You have to rise early for some shots.  Not that I get up while it’s still dark for photography purposes.  Some people are that hardcore.  Somewhere.

But since I happened to be up before the wisecrack of dawn the other day, I was able to witness a beautiful sunrise.  Not that I took a picture of the actual sunrise.  Some people are smart enough to do that.  Somewhere.

I sat there, gazing out the window with the pinks and oranges reflecting in my eyes, and ran to grab my Bible.  Figured I’d hold on to the inspiration of that sight as I spent time with God.  But then the image in front of the sun caught my eye, and I had to get the camera.

Something about the softness of the light moved me.  Isn’t it grand to think that the new life waiting to burst out in Spring is already right there on the tips of the branches?

If you’re ever feeling totally blah about things, get up earlier and look outside.  🙂  There’s a whole world of inspiration while the house is still quiet.

January Centerpiece Challenge!

Here it is!  January’s centerpiece challenge, a dare to find anything creative and potentially attractive in the cold outdoors, is under way.

Kimberly from RI shared pictures of her center-masterpiece, focused around a log which her husband cut and drilled.  I love not only the main piece, but the bowls of red apple candles and pinecones on either end.  Ah, symmetry!  Love, love, love.

When I look at that picture, I can hear the chatter and giggles of my nieces and nephews!

See the scones in that shot?  Those are the Better-Than-Starbucks Scones.  Thanks for the recipe, Kimberly!

Here’s another angle, capturing her devotions in a cozy spot at the table:

I’ve decided that I may surprise her at breakfast one day – just show up with my napkin tucked in to my collarEverything she makes looks good! 

Kimberly did warn me that the log, which I believe is birch, burns very easily.  If you try this, keep an eye on the candles.  🙂

What a great idea, right?  So simple and really beautiful.  I visited her home while this was on the table, and it was inviting and gorgeous.  Nice work!

I’ll share mine with you also, although it looks a little bizarre for January.

Shells?  In January?

We live close enough to the New England coast that seagulls often fly over our backyard.  We used to have a tall clump of rabid lilac bushes which have been recently…er…put down.  Under the wreckage, we found LOTS of shells. 

The shells lived with golf balls, and old china, and metal pipes.  People are weird.

My January centerpiece contains items which transport me to summerland.  I need that now…

I kept the shells “moving” as they progress toward a wine bottle oil lamp.  There has to be light in there somewhere!

 

A hidden golf ball keeps people “behind” the piece involved, and no matter where you sit, you can see shells.

The wood was out in the yard, too.  Just showed up one day.  It smells like a campfire and makes me feel like we’re living in a lodge.  January?  SucCESS!  🙂

If you planned to submit your January pictures but missed the deadline, don’t worry!  There will be a February Challenge, too!  Get on it!

December Centerpiece Challenge

Each cold month this year, I’m challenging myself (and YOU) to create a dining room table centerpiece using mainly natural objects from outside.  No cheating!  If it’s something you found outside in August, it doesn’t count.

Anything you find outside now can be used – from sticks to stones to pieces of yard waste!  This challenge is being issued because I am fighting with all my might against the grey, bleak, boring attitude I usually adopt toward winter.  It’s still a time of beauty, and I want to learn to recognize it.

Here is my December centerpiece:

My goal was to keep it Christmasy, thinking about Jesus as the Light of the World, but looking for something unlikely at the center. 

After all, a baby is an unlikely form for the Savior to come in, right?

I found dried echinacea blossoms right outside our window, still containing last season’s seeds.  Those will be getting scattered strategically outside later.  🙂 

The echinacea is tied with dried, wilted…something.  You know the papery green ornamental grasses that homeowners love to plant?  That stuff. 

There’s also some oak leaves in there (I LOVE rusty Fall colors).  And naturally, surrounding it all, is a big puff of white pine needles. 

These have been very carefully tucked in around the candles so that nothing ignites while we’re eating chicken.

The tea lights, looking very cool, are actually not the greatest idea I ever came up with.  Courting candles have this wood piece that you move up the spiral as the candles burn lower. 

That wood piece starts smoking when it gets too hot.  Oops.  The tea lights haven’t been lit in a while so that nothing ignites while we’re eating soup.

But there seemed to be plenty of light without those: The two long tapers which have been burning for meals all through the Christmas season; and three small candles in the middle, sitting in red and amber glass.

That’s it for me.  What can you find outside?  If you send me a picture, I’ll post it when I do my January Challenge.  Just watch out for flammable things if you’re using candles, so that nothing ignites while you’re eating oatmeal.

ps. I’ll include your name and city/state/country or any of those that you choose.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

A Wet Noodle On a Cold Rock

Once upon a time, a young married couple went on a trip to the mountains. 

Though they were not particularly “in shape,” they relished the thought of a long hike in the hills, followed by a warm dinner and a soak in the hot tub.  Roughing it.

That’s us.  Me and my Sweet Babboo pre-kids.  Tut-tut.  Spring chickens…

They set out one fine afternoon for a splendid-sounding jaunt through the trees, laughing and chatting and pointing out green things, things with roots, textures and sights and sounds.

Keep in mind that I was pregnant around that time.  But not pregnant enough for it to matter. 

A few minutes into the hike, Mr. and Mrs. Sweet Babboo realized they’d bitten off more nature than they could chew.  The entire trail seemed to be uphill, like the Earth would never come down again.  Their legs began to feel like lead poles, their feet like concrete blocks.

Pregnancy would have been a good excuse, but it only works if you’re good and pregnant – a ways in.  Large and round.  No, as it turns out, I was winded because I had no muscles.  It is extremely embarassing for me to admit this.  In the past I prided myself on my physical abilities in swimming, skiing, climbing, and hiking.

Other hikers, nasty cheerful hikers, were passing them, bouncing downhill on springy legs, tittering to one another about the weather, the scenery, Moby Dick, who cares.  We were – I mean THEY were – mad.

Maybe we could PRETEND I was very very pregnant.  Then it wouldn’t be such a disgrace that, half an hour (or was it half a mile?) into the hike, I was prostrate, staring up at the tree tops, a wet noodle on a cold rock.

(I had just enough breath left in me to take a picture.  Those are the actual tree tops.  I would have missed them if I’d been in shape.  Thank you, jiggly legs!)

How dare these people make it look so EASY?!  How will we ever make it?  The Sweet Babboos finally struggled to the finish.  Yes, they made it, encouraging each other along the way.  “Just a little further.”  “It’s got to be coming soon.”  “We can DO this!!!” 

And if I’d been ridiculously preggo, I could have bragged that I’d made the entire uphill journey while carrying all the extra weight and wiggling around with the loose joints of a woman about to go into labor. 

Truth be told, I dragged my sorry, flabby buns all the way to the end – and I’m glad I did.

When Mr. and Mrs. Sweet Babboo reached the top, they discovered what was giving those annoying hikers their energy and zip:

a waterfall, stories high, crashing into a pool below.  Victorious hikers could sit on a series of rocks right at the foot of the falls, gazing upward as if in awe of a huge watery altar.

So there we sat.  Neither of these photos does it justice.  It was one of the most beautiful things either of us had ever seen.  Suddenly it didn’t matter that we were wet noodles.  Wet noodles can be turned into happy pasta dinners by looking long enough at God’s amazing creation.

When we could tear ourselves away from the falls, we walked back down, annoying, springy, babbling to each other about what we’d just seen.  At the head of the trail, we passed naive little hikers, just starting their journey.  And we laughed inside – roaring! – to think we’d almost given up so soon.

Today I am thankful for waterfalls.  Some are visible and so stunningly beautiful, they impress and inspire years later.  Some are spiritual, invisible but tangible when they give us new strength.

The Sweet Babboos reached the top by encouraging each other.  We certainly weren’t going to get there by physical prowess.  

Can you to find a way to make a waterfall?  It’s Christmas time.  Look out for someone who needs a pick-me-up, and pray to find a way to encourage them.  They may be prostrate on a cold rock, even though they’ve never seemed daunted by a challenge. 

“Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Pirates Get Tired

Our little boys have so much energy.

kicking

jumping

climbing

crying

screaming

giggling

tickling

praying

pushing

watching

stirring

rolling

marching

dancing

laughing

babbling

growling

shouting

running

spinning

splashing

But even little boys get tired.  Even little pirate boys.

In case it’s too self-indulgent to post only a photo of one of my treasures for Photography Friday, here’s a shot taken out the dining room window:

I love Fall, and the blurred lines of blowing leaves.

(Still, not as captivating as a baby’s slumber.  Or a toddler’s.  garrrrrrrrrrrr.)

November Centerpiece Challenge

Now and then on Studio Tuesdays, I like to delve into home decorating.  It is an art form in itself.  And though I am not Martha Stewart or whoever the next guru of “good things” is, I can manage to get a smart-looking table up if I need to.

A while back, I learned that my Mother took a flower arranging class in college.  One of their assignments was to create a winter bouquet, using only what they could find in the cold, bland outdoors.  I was intrigued. 

Winter tends to take some of the twinkle out of my eye, being colorless and long…  But it doesn’t need to!  There’s beauty everywhere and all year round.  I am challenging myself – and YOU – to make a monthly centerpiece this winter.  One for November, one for December, etc.  We might be surprised by what we’ll find.

The only limitation is this:  Keep the focus on the thing(s) from outside.  Sure, add a piece of ribbon, a candle, or a vase.  But using one leaf to adorn a completely indoor display doesn’t count.  🙂

For my November piece, I went about as simple as possible:

We have an errant trumpet vine that’s trying to eat our garage like a boa constrictor.  I lopped off a section of it (yard work at the same time – look at me go!) and twisted it into a loose wreath. 

To this I added a tiny bow made out of a gift wrap ribbon I’d saved.  I am a fanatical packrat, and it does come in handy.

Lately I’ve been keeping a ceramic pitcher full of water on the table 24/7.  It’s cold enough in the house now that the water stays nice and cool, and it reminds me to drink up!

(Incidentally, look at the photo below.  Do you see a face in the pitcher?  I noticed one on the upper left of the pour spout.  Looks like a charcoal cartoon of some Charles Dickens character.  It’s not my reflection.  I promise.)

The vines seemed like the perfect complement to something functional, and a great way to dress up the table without burdening my eyes.  I love simplicity, like the lines of the vine shadows – quietly stunning.

What can you come up with from the cold outdoors?

Even if it’s not cold where you live, take the challenge.  It will probably only require 10 minutes of your day to put together an inviting centerpiece – something that shows your family or friends that you thought ahead about sharing the table with them.

This is also a great opportunity for getting your kids involved with the homemaking arts.  Could they help you collect leaves, sticks, acorns, or ivy?  Kids have wild imaginations.  Let them loose!

If you’d like your creation displayed on The Full Vine, take a picture of it, and email it to me at thefullvine@yahoo.com.  I’ll include any photos I receive in the December Centerpiece Challenge post.

Have fun! 

This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. 

Psalm 118:24

Free and Funky: Green Bean Wreath

Wreaths make me drool.  Especially the viney ones, all interwoven with ribbon and twine and looking like birds’ nests. 

The only problem is that they cost more than a visit to the dentist for a gold tooth.

So… PASS.

My older son, Riley, was cruisin’ the backyard the other day, and made me a special gift of one of my green bean vines.  Thank you, dear!  How lovely…

Then it hit me.  These really ARE cool looking, aren’t they?  They ARE vines, right?  And then, as he wandered from garden to hose to sandbox to bouncy ball to deck to picnic table, to plants, to puddles and mud pits, etc etc etc, I began cleaning out my garden and turning it into free, funky decorations.

Obzoiv.

A whole bunch of leafy, half-dead vines twisted together and tied with twine can become:

A perfectly good wreath for which I paid ZILCH.

Granted, I tied it with twine, but we had that on hand anyway.  Little by little I’m trimming off wilty leaves, like the ones on the bottom left.  Look at that.  Live sculpture.

So pretty…

…whimsical…

and free.

May my son’s boisterous enthusiasm for the outdoors inspire you to see the possibilities in your own backyard.

A Breath of Fresh Air

It’s been a wonderful Indian Summer.  Is that politically correct?  Oh well.  If they ever change it to make it more PC, I may jump off a bridge.

Every day the boys and I have been outside, tossing sand around, oohing and aahhing over airplanes and clouds, pushing the tire swing back and forth, puttering around in the remaining garden life, and just running for the fun of it.

I don’t know what your weather is like right now, but ours has been GLORIOUS

And that is what I’m thankful for today.  I wasn’t ready to let go of summer yet, and here we are in mid-October wearing capris and short sleeves, getting dirty and sweaty still.

Soon enough, winter will take over and we’ll be bound indoors. 

For today, we soak up every ray of sunshine and load up on Vitamin D, God’s way.

(And now it’s raining… but we needed that too.)