Sunday, December 27, 2009

Here's A Tip

As Karen and I were having lunch at the Metropolitan Museum, we started discussing what we would do that night (Thursday). We both agreed that a play would be nice, but neither one of us had done any research on the availability of seats. So I pulled out my trusty cell phone and called my sister in California. Lucky for me she was sitting at her computer and was able to pull up the current listing of plays in New York. She read the description of several ones; a woman who sat next to me on the plane was going to Burn The Floor, but I wanted something with a plot. We finally agreed on Memphis. ...Since we would have to buy them at the theatre, we planned to leave at six and walk the fourteen blocks in the 27 degree freezing temperature. In addition to the freezing cold and wind, I was carrying my camera with the new wide angle lens. Love it.

We walked down Sixth Avenue bundled up looking like we were ready for a blizzard. We walked from Fifty-seventh Street down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, where I affectionately refer to as HELL, and then took a right on Forty-fourth Street. We walked one more block and there it was, The Shubert Theatre. When we walked in the lobby (about 12 feet by 6 feet) I approached the ticket agent by the name of Craig. After learning that there were tickets available the negotiations began. Be patient, the TIP is coming.

After the pleasantries, I told Craig that we didn't want zillion dollar seats. Furthermore,we didn't care if we were in the last row of the just didn't matter to us. That seemed to go in one ear and out the other because he showed me a floor plan and pointed to seats smack dab in the center section, ten rows back. I knew they were expensive because Janie, my sister, told me during our conversation that they started at $121.50. After Craig told me the price, I told him AGAIN, that we wanted the cheap seats. Then he showed me something a little less expensive and again I declined. Here's where it happened. Read slowly.
I laughed and told him that I knew he wanted to reach through the window and strangle me because I sold tickets for the Braves wayyyy back and I wanted to kill people who behaved like I was behaving, i.e. "Are they in the shade ?", "Are they on the right side or the left side of the section because I don't want to be distracted by people walking up and down the aisles ?", and "Are they under the overhang because we want to be in the shade ?", and on and on. Then I heard a voice behind the window asking if I sold tickets during the time that the Yankees beat the Braves. I told him it was before (as if I knew) and this started an amicable conversation. After Craig and the mysterious voice had a short conversation that I couldn't hear, although my ear was almost going through the window, Craig showed me the same seats that he offered at $121.50. Then he peered behind me to see who was standing behind me and saw that a line was forming. So instead of telling me the new price, he wrote it on a scrap of paper and showed me- $69.50. I accepted the new price and thanked him profusely. The mysterious man said something about extending the discount because I had been in "the business". Little did I know twenty some years ago that working for the Braves in those teensy, claustrophobic ticket booths after teaching all day would years later get me a $52.00 discount on a Broadway ticket! So that's the tip. Be nice, smile, try to joke with them, and when all else fails, tell them you used to sell tickets for the Braves. It's just me, but I would try the first three and only use the last one if you really did sell tickets for the Braves. You never know.

By the way, the play was wonderful and was worth the long walk to and from Broadway. Here are some of the shots I took with my new lens.

Thank you Craig and thank you Braves!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Last Friday, as we were waiting for my sister, Ann, to arrive from Connecticut, Karen (my friend who traveled with me to New York) and I decided to walk over to Columbus Circle and walk around the Time Warner Center. Besides, I knew there was a cute little restaurant on the third floor where we could have a coke and look out the HUGE window to watch millions of people play dodge ball with the cabs.

The decorations were drop-dead gorgeous. The stars that were hanging from the rafters changed colors in rhythm to the music. (More on this is a later post.) As we took the escalator to the second floor on the way to the restaurant, I tried to free my camera from the depths of my bag so I could take two or three thousand pictures. Digital is a miracle. As we were climbing on the escalator and after I got my hands on the camera, I spotted Borders Bookstore. I knew it was there and I was using their snack bar as a back up just in case the wait at the restaurant was too long. But before we continued our trek to the third floor I spotted a huge sign in the window of Borders. There were pictures of about six people who would be signing books soon with their schedules. I couldn't believe what I was reading. Lo and behold, the Pioneer Woman ( was going to be there that evening to sign her cookbook. She was in Atlanta the Monday before I left for New York, but I couldn't go and I was just sick about it. Those of you who do not know who she is, you will.

Side Bar: Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, has a blog. It is absolutely the best blog that I have ever read. It's divided into sections: confessions, photography, cooking, and home and garden. Of course my favorite part of her blog is photography. She puts the process into every day lingo that is easily understood. You really should take the time and check it out, but it will take hours if you try to read it all at one sitting.

After seeing the notice in the window, I had to go in the store and get the low down. Poor Karen, she followed me into the store as I was mumbling, drooling, and running all over the store trying to find the book. Finally I got control of myself and found a really nice man who took me to the front counter and asked one of the folks to show me THE BOOK. That is when I met Amanda H. She is an angel. She not only showed me the book, but looked up my Borders club number so I could get a discount on the purchase price AND, get this, gave me THREE wrist bands so we could get seats at the discussion and the signing. "Good grief", I thought, "this is New York, people aren't supposed to be this nice and certainly not this helpful." But she was and it didn't end there.

I told Amanda all about The Pioneer Woman. Bless her heart, she really hadn't heard of her until recently. As she was showing us where the discussion and book signing was going to take place, she mentioned that the Atlanta signing had over 800 people. When I saw that they only had sixty chairs, I worried. But I didn't need to.

When my sister arrived at the hotel, Karen and I met her, exchanged pleasantries, and then I began educating her about the PW. She was willing to go with us, but I couldn't see any enthusiasm. She didn't "get" the whole PW thing, but I had confidence that she would. We had to leave the hotel around five to get there in plenty of time. We also knew that we had to leave Borders at seven to get to Lincoln Center to see the Nutcracker. Sadly, I had given up hope of having her sign my book. When we arrived we found Amanda H. and my sister asked her if there were any books left because she wanted to buy one. Amanda being the angel she is, took Ann's credit card and even gave her my discount! Amazing. Get this...she knew that we had to leave early (she also has a great memory) so she took our books in the back of the store where PW was waiting and asked her to sign them for us! She should be Employee of the Year. Maybe I'll write a letter.

At around six, out came PW. She was dressed in black, and had a sweet smile. She answered about fifteen questions from the two or three hundred in attendance. As soon as she started signing books we made a quick exit.

What surprised me was that PW seemed timid. I imagined her to be really outgoing and she probably is when she isn't in front of a huge NYC crowd and her publisher. She writes in some of her posts that she's always nervous, but she doesn't need to be...everyone there loved her!

We met a nice young man while we waited, named James. James was from Oklahoma, where PW lives, but was working in NYC at Bank of America. He knew almost everything about her. He's her friend on FB and Twitter. In fact, he got a tweet from her as we were talking. What a hoot! James also likes to cook, thus the cookbook. (Sorry for the blurred shot, James. I only brought my wide angle lens.) I don't cook, but I did buy the book just in case the mood strikes. Truth be told, if she wrote a book on dirt, I'd probably buy it. I'm a fan, what can I say?

Monday, November 2, 2009

He Missed A Few

What you see here is a few berries holding on to a very tired dogwood tree. There has been a race for the past few weeks among the squirrels to see who could grab and eat the most berries. Now these gluttonous squirrels are too heavy to reach the ends of the branches and that makes it impossible to reach the tips. I'm sure they are just itching to get to them, but they don't want to take the plunge. Get it?

Watching the squirrels (rats with furry tails) reminds me of that song that goes, "he glides through the air with the greatest of ease, the daring young man in the flying trapeze." I have no idea when or where I heard it, but it has stayed with me for a million years. It's amazing how we can retrieve the smallest phrases, but can't remember what we did last week. Early stages?

Side bar: Over lunch the other day, I was discussing this post with Maria, a friend who I taught two hundred years ago. Being the smartest kid on the block, she went back to work (Georgia Tech) after lunch and looked it up. So here are the first few verses of that song.

THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE (George Leybourne) Walter O'Keefe - 1934 Don Redman & His Orch. - 1936 Also recorded by: Eddie Cantor; Burl Ives; Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards; Spike Jones; Ian Whitcomb; Les Paul & Mary Ford.

Once I was happy, but now I'm forlorn
Like an old coat that is tattered and torn;
Left on this world to fret and to mourn,
Betrayed by a maid in her teens.
The girl that I loved she was handsome;
I tried all I knew her to please
But I could not please her one quarter so well
As the man upon the trapeze.

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.
His movements were graceful,
all girls he could please
And my love he purloined away.

And if you want to hear Bruce Springsteen sing it, here it is:
Thanks for the help, Maria.

Back to business: So anyway, I went outside hoping to get a shot of one of the millions who think our backyard is the big top. I found one, but he was sneaky.

Then he changed positions. I wish I had a shotgun in my hand instead of a camera.

Here he is ready to fly. Does he make it?

He made it. Darn.

While I'm at it, I might as well confess that I'm taking yet another photography class. I'll be out and about shooting images as assigned. I took the next three images in the backyard while I was practicing with my telephoto lens.

The next image was one I took to class. Our teacher says that every picture tells a story. He's trying to make us think when we shoot, as if trying to figure out aperture, shutter speed, white balance and composition isn't enough. Anyway, to make a long story short, he gave us a list of words to describe our images and we chose two. The word I attached to this one was color. He agreed but said I should have lightened the berries. He said his eye went to the sun spot and it was competing with the berries. My eye goes to the berries. I didn't tell him that.

By now you're starting to notice that the background is blurred. It's called bokeh.

There you have it. Until next time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

He said, "cute don't sell."

That's a direct quote from my next door neighbor at The Chastain Park Arts Festival this past weekend. He was referring to my posters that were hanging in my tent just waiting for someone to take them home. Darryl, a master photographer (, was partly correct. I sold one poster of Midtown Atlanta a few weeks ago at Garden Hills, and at Chastain I sold two. I don't know if the two I sold at Chastain would be considered posters because I removed the names from the bottom of the images. So, I wonder what makes a poster, a poster? If a poster has to have the name of the image on it, then I suppose I actually didn't sell two posters at Chastain, I sold two framed images. But, I have to admit, they were cute.

Here's one of the "posters" that I sold.
Here's the cute version.

Every time I do an arts festival, I learn something. This was my 10th show, but I think you need to have 20 or 30 under your belt before you can be considered serious. This is a business for most of the artists participating; they don't play. For example, it was a miserable day on Saturday. It was cold, cloudy, and windy. I was wait-listed (long story) and that meant that I had to show up early Saturday morning to see if anyone had dropped out, thus creating a vacant space. I really, really wanted to renege, but since we packed the car Friday night, and the promoter was kind enough to include me as one of the TWO who were wait-listed, I had to proceed. So when I uttered a teensy complaint about my discomfort, Darryl just laughed and shook his head. Again, this is his business. These people do shows almost every weekend. It's not a hobby to's their bread and butter.

I can't begin to express how fortunate I was to have a master photographer "next door." He gave me tips on bags, framing, sizing, displaying, selling and future shows. We had several debates, one of which involved pricing. There should be a class on the psychology of pricing. Maybe there already is, I would love to take it. Another debate involved morning shoots. He loves to get up at 4:30 and watch the sun rise where he's shooting. I, on the other hand, hate to get up before the sun. There's something just not natural about that. I'd rather get the shots during the day and at sunset. The final issue we disagreed on was information about the image. He thinks it's okay to provide the shopper with the location, the camera settings, etc. I think that info should remain with the photographer. Most photographers whom I have spoken with are really quite vague with the details. Although I try my best not to tell everything, sometimes it just slips out. Fortunately most of the time I really can't remember the details. Let's see, was that shot at Pawley's Island or Cherry Grove? Sometimes all of the beaches look alike.

So Darryl's leaving in a few weeks for a two month trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. I can't wait to see what images he returns with. If you have time, go to his website and look at the images. He hand tints most of his work. Amazing.

By the way, I will gladly send anyone (in the USA) a mini poster (4X6 framed), at no charge, if you just leave a comment on my blog. I'll place lots more posters to choose from in the right hand column. I think I'm going out of the poster business and stick with framed images. Maybe I'll put them on Etsy or maybe I'll take them to a show at the beach. Bet they'll sell there...or not. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We'll Miss You, Nancy Faye Tribble

December 11, 1954 - July 23, 2009

It just happened. You know when someone who you love has just died and you think of something to tell her/him and you get smacked in the head with reality? You can't tell her anything, ANYMORE? There was an ad on television about Paul McCartney coming to Atlanta for a concert next week. I started thinking about who I know who would possibly want to go, and I thought of Nancy Tribble. Well, guess what, she can't go; we lost her last week.

About three hours ago, I returned home from attending her service and the celebration afterwards. Being a teacher and a friend to so many, there were well over 150 in attendance. It was one of the most beautiful and meaningful services I have ever attended. Two of her good friends sang and her brother, Randy, and friend, Mary, spoke. They both told stories about her life and how it affected those who were her family and friends. Randy told us about the family and the times he spent with Nancy as a child. He also explained her illness and her constant struggle to survive. In Mary's eulogy, she asked several questions that related to our experiences with Nancy. For example, "Have you ever gone grocery shopping with Nancy?" That caused a laugh from many of us who had that excruciating experience. Mine was a little over a year ago.

Nancy had just had another surgery and after a lengthy stay in the hospital she was being released from Emory. I volunteered to take her home and get her settled. I can't remember which surgery this was, but she was able to walk and take care of herself. After she got in the car at the hospital, she asked me if I could make a quick stop at Publix so she could get some groceries. Thinking that she really did mean "quick," and I knew she wouldn't have much energy, I agreed. I had no idea what I was in for. This was my first and last trip to the grocery store with her. After you went grocery shopping with her once, you never went again. She fancied herself of somewhat a gourmet cook, so every piece of fruit and every vegetable had to be examined. You would think she was the chef at the Ritz. To make a long story short, I was ready to explode. I think she was used to getting this reaction from others, because she totally ignored my expressions and body language and continued on her merry way up and down the aisles. After an hour or maybe a little less, we were on the way to her condo. I was fuming and she was happy.

Then about two weeks ago, she asked if she could spend the weekend with me because her friends who were taking care of her, Mary and Doreen, were having company and she wanted to give them her room. So I drove to Macon with my friend Penny, picked her up and brought her to Atlanta. As we were nearing my house, I began to discuss my plan regarding her meals, etc. I told her that I would get her in the house and settled and then go to the store and buy what she wanted. She expressed in her weakened state that maybe WE could stop at Publix and shop together. She was trying it again. Penny was sitting in the back seat and was somewhat surprised by my reaction to Tribble when I replied, "NO, HELL NO!" Tribble had given it the old college try, as they say. To calm Penny down, I told her about my fateful trip to the store a year ago.

I know lots of folks hate going to funeral services, but they're a part of life. It gives us a chance to listen to stories about our friend or family member and honor them. It's okay to laugh and to cry. We did both. Because Tribble was so funny, I think we did more laughing than crying. I really believe that she would have been proud of what was said about her. Proud that Jolly and Leslie sang, proud of Randy and Mary's eulogies, and proud that so many of her friends, especially the Tift women, came to honor and remember her. The song that the Tift girls sang was truly beautiful. She was honored and that would have made her happy.

Below I have included pictures that were in her program.

After the service, everyone was invited to continue the celebration at her brother, Robb and his wife, Pam's home.

Pictured below are her three brothers: Randy, Steven, and Robb.

"Old, old friends" (HA!), Doreen, Debra, and Mary.

Her two ex-roommates, Leslie (who sang at the service) and Sherry.

Marie, her friend from Fernandino Beach and Nancy Faye (in the urn).

School friends from way back, Nettie, Yolanda and Pat.

And finally, the Tiftettes!

I'll post more pictures on my Facebook page later. It was a celebration to remember. What a wonderful group of friends she had!

As you can tell, Nancy Tribble was a friend to many. She will live forever in our hearts and never, never, be forgotten.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Well, Damn

Here I sit, early on a Saturday morning typing on my blog, when I should be fast asleep. "Why am I up so early ?" you might ask. "Because the damn water heater leaked all over the garage last night," I might answer. I'm not going to import a picture of the leaky water heater, it would just depress you. Here's how it started.

Last night before going upstairs to bed, I checked the garage like I do most nights. I'm in charge of security around here. I was making sure the doors were down...don't want any intruders...four legged or two legged, when I spotted the leak. How could I miss it, it looked like Katrina had come to visit (I exaggerate), or that monsoon segment in the movie Jumanji. Anyway, to make his day or evening, I alerted Tom with a shrill that could be heard from miles. You can just imagine his delight. Words came out of his mouth that would make Lucifer look like Beaver Cleaver.

Needless to say, we started moving stuff away from the walls so we could begin the fun task of sweeping stuff (you know what I want to say) out of the garage. In between dirty looks and snide remarks, we talked about whom to call. He didn't want to call Sears again and I didn't want to call the plumbers who we usually call.

In Atlanta there is a company that advertises constantly. As luck would have it,I've memorized their phone number because their jingle stays with you. It goes like this, "Trust Superior, the honest one, call 770-422-plum." How could you forget it? (Imagine what you heard after seeing either the play or the movie Mama Mia.) Being honest and all, we or really Tom called them this morning at 6:45. John, the honest one, was here an hour later. After all of the pleasantries, he inspected the situation and started with the questions. Size, code, cut-offs, and water pressure were discussed. Tom and I both glazed over after 20 minutes of stimulating conversation. We hadn't had anything to eat or drink because, you know, the water was turned off. We were in a weakened state.

Then came the dreaded price book. We weren't that concerned because I had my booklet with the receipt of the leaky water heater purchase. ( My filing system is, I must say phenomenal.) We bought it in 1997 from Sears at $440. It couldn't be that much more, could it? Even if we went from a 40 gallon to a 50 gallon, how much more could it be? About $1000. more, that's how much!

So, that's it. Exactly $1365.90 (including my $25.00 coupon from the internet) later, the honest one has completed the job, Tom is watching the golf's 3:15 in England and I'm going to take a nap.
Here are a few shots of our next vacation.

As Walter, God love him, would say, "And that's the way it is."

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4, 2009

It was early in the morning when I took this shot. I wanted to get to the beach before the crowds started to descend, but it didn't exactly work out like I never does. When I arrived the walkers were already there. By now I've learned how to play "cat and mouse" and I play it with a lot of patience. In most of my shots, I wait for a gap and then quickly take the picture. In the image below, I gave up and took it with the walkers. I was trying to capture the feeling of peace and quiet on the beach in the morning.

Then four hours later, look what happened to that peace and quiet! I took this shot through the window of our hotel. That explains the reflection on the left of the image and the blue tint.
I wanted to get a closer look, so I thought I would just mosey on down there and mingle among the crowds. Here are upclose and personal images of the masses. As I was enhancing the images, I found this filter. Gotta love Photoshop! This image was taken facing west. In case you were worrying, since this is a public place (beach), I didn't have to get signed releases. Hah, as if.

This image was taken facing north.
Facing north again.

This image was much clearer when I downloaded it, but I just wanted to try some funky stuff. I am liking funky.

I could have taken some really humorous shots, but it was around five in the afternoon and most of these folks were deep into the grape, so I didn't try it. I'm not that sneeky. Maybe if I wore a press pass they would think I was official. There's always next year.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's all about the light, and the camera, and photoshop, and the classes, and the...

I love to take pictures. I really, really do. But to get the perfect lighting outside means getting up early...very early, and I really, really, hate to get up early. Since I entered "transition" (I refuse to use the word retirement) I don't "do dark." Meaning that I don't get out of bed until the sun is up.

To show you an example of taking a picture when there is full sun, look below. I took this on Hilton Head in the middle of the afternoon.

Can you see the huge shadow on the surface? When I took this shot about three years ago, I thought it was breathtaking. Sure, the color is good and the composition is okay. Maybe I should have composed the horizon differently, but the major flaw is the shadow. To get this shot without the shadow would mean opening my eyes before sunrise, and as I said before, I don't "do dark."

But there is another way and I was lucky enough to have my camera in hand. Well that's not exactly true. Here's how it happened. A few weeks ago, three friends and I were on the beach on Hilton Head just talking away, catching up, with not a care in the world, when this major cloud appeared. So, the Ansella Adams who I think I am, sprang into action. I ran, or walked briskly (depending on whom is telling this story) to the condo and grabbed my camera so I could get the shot. Truth be told, I had contemplated getting up early to get the shot but here was my chance to get it without "doing dark." As all digital photographers do, I took about 20-30 shots of the same walkway. I was in all sorts of contortions- bending, squatting, and kneeling...praying that no one would walk on the beach until I could get the shot.

As my friend Tracy would say, "Et voila." Thank God for clouds.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's Always Somethin'

So there we were driving on Route 22 about ten minutes from our exit onto Highway 17. Tom and I were on our way to North Myrtle Beach for Spring SOS; the 51st for Tom and 30 something for me. Since we had been traveling about six hours, we were all "talked out" and getting a little anxious to get to the condo. Suddenly Tom pointed out the strange haze forming over the clouds. It seemed to get darker and darker and soon it became apparent that we were in the middle of a huge fire. I grabbed my camera, rolled down the window and began to shoot.

This series of images reminds me of the summer that my friend, Barbara, and I drove to California, stopping along the way to visit famous landmarks. One of them was Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. We must have taken twenty or thirty pictures, thinking that the geyser couldn't get any higher. It was the same here. I kept clicking thinking that it couldn't get any worse, but it did.

Finally, we were through the smoke and minutes from the exit.

As most of you know, the fires continued for several days and many lost their homes.

Not to make light of a horrible situation, but it seemed to me that there were a few other SOS's that were plagued by one thing or another. Last fall, they were involved in dredging the sand, making it impossible to sit on the beach. (See blog dated September 19, 2008.)
Then a couple of SOS's ago this was going on the street outside of our condo. As luck would have it, we had the back bedroom, facing the street, so we were awakened every morning at 8:00 to this. After I made a trip to the city manager's office, I was told that in the future I would be glad that they were doing this cable work. But why during SOS?

It kinda makes me wonder what's in store for us in the fall.

Through it all, we really did have a good time. After the ash cleared, I was able to get on the beach and take some new golf shots and one afternoon, friends from Wilmington drove down for a quick visit. Those of you from Huntington remember Connie and Mike Tatum. It was great seeing them again. Aren't they just the cutest?

I think the last time we were together at the beach was the summer of '66. Remember that? We'll just keep that between that y'all are grandparents and all.