Best Shot Monday: Just Say Ahh....


I love to photograph the beach ... whether in the bright sunshine of midday or as the sun's fading to dark. I took this shot in Boca Grande last week our last night there. It was actually a green flash night. There are those who don't believe the green flash exists, but there's quite a bit of research behind them.  Here's a primer. I can say I've now seen three in my lifetime, all on this very beach. Given that we've been going to Boca Grande since I was 12, that gives me a lotta years! I've never been able to catch them on camera though, but search green flash sunset on Flickr and you'll see quite a few people have managed to capture it. 

Have a best shot you'd like to share? Post a link in the comments! 

Spiral Journal Spread 7: Be True To You

Spiral Journal 7

Be true to you ... that's a hard thing to do sometimes, isn't it? I've been struggling with that a bit lately, particularly when it comes to the daily grind. Sometimes it's hard to be true to yourself when circumstances are out of your control and the circumstances are not exactly favorable. Not sure if that makes sense. I stumbled across a blog the other day that stuck with me. Of course, now I can't find the blog, but I remember the message. The writer had started writing a blog to chronicle her every day life -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- but didn't tell anyone about it. But then her brother thought it might be fun to Google their names one night, and lo and behold, her blog popped up. She hadn't held back on her blog. She blogs about family issues, friend issues, work issues, whatever she's dealing with, so it was all there to see. At first she was embarrassed and concerned, but now that she had been discovered, she couldn't just all the sudden stop laying it all out there. So she continued. Some of her family and friends were supportive of her upfront, in-your-face honesty while others were not quite too happy, but still she continued. And she was true to herself. And I cheered her on for that. 

I've written a couple posts that family members haven't liked because some of the things my family has been through have not been very pretty, but don't we all have our difficult family issues? And I've written a couple posts in which I've referenced difficult times on the job, and it's unfortunate that I feel like I have to censor myself so much more there. Oh, to be my own boss! For the record, I have a great boss. But there are others farther up the pay scale than I whom I'm tasked to work with on a regular basis who, shall we say, don't see the sky the same color as I do nor value what I bring to the table. I guess that's the crutch of social media. You put your thoughts out there, somebody's gonna see them, and they just might not like them. The most difficult part is when you get into situations where you feel you can't speak your mind, even very diplomatically speak your mind, without facing potentially dire consequences. So the challenge becomes how do you then be true to yourself ... without quitting your job, selling everything, grabbing your family and moving to the Keys?  Ah, the scourge of responsibility...

This page actually started out quite a mess before I turned it around. I decided to take Roben Marie's advice and take all the pages out of the spiral journal while I'm working on them. Then I'll put them all back in when I'm through.  Much easier that way!  You can see my other pages in this journal here. Thanks for stopping in!     

Best Shot Monday: Jump!


We did a lot of jumping for joy last week in Boca Grande, so I thought it appropriate that I share a little beach happiness today.  I took this shot while we were waiting for our last sunset of the week Friday night.  Nothing like a little beach sunset dancing!

Have a best shot you'd like to share? Post a link in the comments! 

Teaching a Journal Making Class for Rethreaded!

Ink and Stencils Art Journals

I'm excited to share that I'm going to be teaching a journal making class for Rethreaded, June 29, 9am-Noon! What's Rethreaded, you ask? From their website: "Rethreaded loves people affected by the sex trade by fostering relationship and life-giving community. Our vision is to unravel the effects of the sex trade by fighting business with business on a global and local level. Rethreaded seeks to unravel the effects of the sex trade, whether it takes the form of human trafficking, prostitution, pornography or strip clubs. This multibillion dollar industry is founded on the exploitation of mostly women and children. As an organization we want to provide safe, viable, and dignity-giving work to survivors of the sex trade." Rethreaded was the top vote winner at One Spark this year.  My arts festival and Mermaids and Mamas assistant extraordinaire Whitney has been volunteering with Rethreaded for months now and thought my journals could be a great teaching and healing tool.

I'll be teaching participants to how create journals like the ones above. I'll be using a variety of techniques I've learned from Roben-Marie Smith, Albie Smith and Martha Lever.  We'll make at least two journals, possibly four if we have time.  We'll talk about layering and how the layers of our lives relate to the layers we create for our journals. Registration is $50 per person and includes all materials, and $20 of your registration goes directly to Rethreaded as a fundraiser.  Want to play along with us and support a great organization in the process? RVSP to Whitney at  Seating is limited to the first 20 participants. 

For the Love of Two Dogs...

Well, it's hundreds of dogs really, but this is a story about just two: Dallas and Gus.  Friends of Jacksonville Animals and Animal Care and Protective Services both go above and beyond the call of duty everyday in an effort to save and home shelter animals. These are just two examples of many wonderful stories.

Dallas is a sweet, happy, smart boy.  When I first photographed him, I learned that first hand.  I greeted him at the front of his cage like I do all my charges so I can get their names, and then I asked him to meet me at the back. His kennel was about halfway up the run so he couldn't really see where I was going, but as soon as I got around to the back of his kennel, there he was, sitting there wagging his tail and waiting on me.  Problem was, Dallas is such a happy boy, he developed what the shelter staff call "Happy Tail."  Happy Tail occurs when a dog is constantly wagging his tail in his kennel, beating it up again the sides.  The staff was having to keep him sedated to keep him from wagging his tail so much and at one point it was so bad the staff had decided that he either had to be fostered or adopted or they were going to have to put him down to end his pain. But thanks to Dallas' super sweet disposition, they decided to pull him from adoptions and amputate his tail instead. He's now being fostered by one of the shelter staff until he's all healed up and ready for adoption. I know the family that adopts him will be one lucky family!

Gus, photographed by Amy Ploss Samson
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Gus.  Gus was brought in as a stray.  When he was brought to the shelter, unfortunately he knew exactly what was happening. As soon as they took him out of the car, he splayed himself out on the ground, trying so hard not to be taken into the shelter.  He rolled over on his back wiggling his butt and wagging his tail, trying to show how lovable he was, but unfortunately, they kept trying to drag him in. Shelter staff and volunteers were watching and finally were so saddened by the scene that one of the staff walked out to the parking lot, picked up Gus, and carried him inside. Gus lay crouched in his kennel, refusing to come to anyone for several days.  He was so sad and so scared.  Shelter staff worked with him daily trying to coax him out but had no luck.  After about a week, shelter staff and FOJA volunteers worked together to not only get him out of his kennel, but also get him into a foster home where he could feel safe. Gus is now being fostered by one of the FOJA board members and was last seen cuddling up on the couch with her granddaughter.
The city of Jacksonville is working hard to become a no-kill city, and Animal Care and Protective Services is a big part of that effort.  It's really important to realize just how many animals come into ACPS every day. The shelter can easily bring in 300-500 animals a week some weeks.  Because this is a city shelter, by law they must take every animal brought to them.  Add in owner confiscations and cruelty cases, hoarding cases and strays, and I hope you can imagine the large number of animals they are charged with protecting every day.  Support your local shelter. Make a visit down there.  Find out what they need.  If you can't adopt or foster, there are many other ways to help. Volunteer, donate, sponsor, like the FOJA and ACPS Facebook pages and share the needs, bring down bags of dog or cat food and blankets, whatever! There are so many ways to help!  Your local shelter needs you.  Dogs like Dallas and Gus depend on it.    

Best Shot Monday: My Home for the Week

Boca Grande Seashore

We arrived in Boca Grande Saturday afternoon, so this is the beach I am sitting on today. The water really is often that color here! I actually took this photo last year while we were here.  I sat my chair in the same spot on the beach all week, and captured various sea and sky scapes from that vantage point all week. Some were bright and clear like this one while some were dark and stormy. So far, we've had bright and sunny! We'll see what the rest of the week brings.

I've gone to Boca Grande almost every summer since I was 12 years old.  It's on Gasparilla Island, off southwest Florida's coast about halfway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers, and it's pure heaven. There are no chain stores here, no fast food restaurants; heck, there aren't even any stop lights!  The most popular mode of transportation on the island is golf cart. Benny and I got married here in the circa 1910 Lighthouse Methodist Church in 1995.  The church has expanded a bit now, but when we got married, they were still in the original 75 seat church!  This is truly a special place, and I'm blessed to now share it with another generation.

Have a best shot you want to share?  Post it in the comments!  Where did you get married?

June Free Bling!

June 2013 bling

Time for Free Bling Friday!  Congrats to Danielle from Park Ridge, New Jersey, for winning my May Free Bling!

For June, here's a sweet bottle cap photo pendant.  It comes complete with a silver tone ball chain in the length of your choice.  June brings Father's Day, so to get your name in the hat, tell me about a favorite memory you have of your mother.  It could have happened many years ago, or it could have happened yesterday, just as long as it's a favorite!  Along with your answer, include your location and a way to reach you by midnight July 4. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, July 5.

My favorite memory of my dad?  I was born in Miami, Florida, and when I was a kid, my dad would take me to the corner 7-Eleven for an Icee every day after school.  The man the worked there was named Angel.  We left Miami when I was 10, but I still remember those Icee trips! 

Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column. And be sure to like my Facebook page or sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website here for specials. Thanks for stopping in!

Best Shot Monday: Meet Rilo, My Furry Face of the Week!


Seriously, is this not the best dog smile you've ever seen?! Meet Rilo! He smiles with every millimeter of his big sweet face.  I photographed him on Friday during my weekly shoot at the shelter. We're at capacity again, but we're doing our best to get these sweet babies homes!  Remember to adopt, not shop, when you are looking to add a new furry friend to your home and heart. 

Have a best shot you'd like to share?  Share the link in the comments!