I'm Dreaming of a Round Christmas.... Tree

Every Christmas I am plagued with the grand idea of replicating the Christmas trees of my early childhood. Every dang Christmas, I dig up old photos, turn house upside down for a very un-informative drawing, trying to figure out how my mother managed to create the coolest Christmas tree - ever.  I even asked her how to make it once.

Isn't it cool?  That's my dad handing out
 presents and me next to him.  Those other
kids are cousins, and the woman on the left
is my mom.
  This is what she told me years ago:  You just go to the hardware store and get some chicken wire and some pliers, then go to the tree seller and ask for the limbs they cut off the trees that they'll be throwing away.  After that, go home and form the chicken wire into the shape of a ball.  Then you attach the limbs to the ball-shaped chicken wire with some other florist wire, one by one, until *poof*, you got yourself a round Christmas tree!  Of course, it must be hung on the ceiling, strung with lights and decorated with glass balls and a long pretty ribbon that hangs gracefully off the bottom.  And when you're feeling really fancy, you go have it flocked!


Keeps the kiddos away from the glass ornaments!
That's me (one the left) and my sister.
  Every year, I get the ambitious notion that I will just whip up one of these doozies and hang it in all it's strange glory in our big front window for all our neighbors to admire.  And every year, I get busy and put it off until I don't have the time, this year being no exception.  Next year, though.  Maybe I'll blog about it, too!


Oh My Getty

Today, I am doing a little happy dance in my head.  Atleast a year ago, I submitted some photos to Getty Images.  Didn't hear a peep out of them.  I just figured that I wasn't "there" yet.  But, still, it is a little goal I've set for myself.  Some of my favorite Flickr photogs have that cute little "g" down by their licensing info. 

Okay, so today I got a request from Getty.  They liked these images:

Yaaaayyy!!!  Happy dance, happy dance!


For the Love of the Lake

White Rock Lake in Dallas has been a lifelong friend of mine.  My mom and dad brought me there as a child.  We'd pick up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and have a little picnic by the water.  It became the permanent home of my childhood pet duck, Herman P. Duck, when he got too big for the bathtub (much to my dismay, I might add).  In the early eighties, it went through a rough period, seemingly forgotten by everyone except for motorcycle gangs and druggies.  Then in the early nineties it had its renaissance.  People began taking an interest in it again and recognized it for the jewel it is.  When I worked in Dallas through the nineties, I'd ride my bike around it several times a week - which soothed the artist in me that I was trying to force into a "real job".  And it was a place for healing when my world fell apart over ten years ago.  There is a bench there that I would sit in for hours at a time to watch the sailboats race and the sun move across the sky.  What I wouldn't give now to sit in one place for that long! After my father died (only a month before my son was born), my brother and I planted a tree there in his honor.  He loved that lake too.  The tree overlooks the playground, giving shade to the kiddos on the hot days we have here.  Each time I visit White Rock Lake, I notice new improvements they've made to the lake.  Right now they are building a new spillway - complete with an observation deck!  It is such a beautiful and well loved place.  Thank you,  For the Love of the Lake, for taking such good care of my lifelong friend.  Thank you!

I visited the lake last week when I had some time to myself.  The whole time I was there I kept wondering why I hadn't come there to take photos yet!  I guess there's a time for everything, right?

I remember this day at White Rock Lake.  That's my dad's Impala.  He took this picture.  I'm 3 1/2.

I loved my soldier dress.  And I LOVED my dad's car.  We went fishing in it together and
I spilled a milkshake in it.  He didn't even get angry.  I just had to sit in the milkshake until we got to the lake!


Sweet Rosie

Last week I needed to take a trip to Dallas to deliver a couple of my prints, and I had some time to tool around my hometown, alone, with my camera.  The first place I stopped off was the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority garage.  Before I actually got into the garage, I ran into this sweet little lady.

This is Rosie. She's 100 years old!

The moment I stepped into this streetcar, I could feel a sense of her, like I
feel when meeting a person for the first time.

I don't know what this does, but it's pretty, isn't it?

All rides are free, but please make a donation so Rosie can stay as beatiful as she is now.
Later, when I finally made it into the garage, I found out that Rosie may love her passengers, but she is a cantakerous old woman.  The head mechanic told me that she has a reputation among the streetcar mechanics of MATA.  "She'll hurt you if you let her," he told me.  I'd be a little fiesty, too, if I were 100 years old!

Find out a little about Rosie's history, here.  And here's a little movie I found of the streetcars that were in operation around Fair Park in Dallas in the 1950's, before the took them all off the road and replaced them with busses.  Legend has it that the day after they took them off the road, a huge blizzard hit Dallas.  Not a single bus could make it out.  That would not have been a problem for these lovely streetcars.  I'm so glad we have them back.


I Love to Drive

Aztec Mill in Cimarron, NM

View from a Rest Stop in Texas

Bison in New Mexico

Cotton Harvest near Memphis, TX

New Mexico Barbed Wire Fence

Roadside Telephone Poles

For the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I drove up to the house in Angel Fire, New Mexico.  I ended up driving the whole way back, which is about an 11 hour drive, but I LOVED it!  Mostly because I went through all of "The Photography Show" podcasts that I saved on my iPod.  If you haven't listened to this show, it is a MUST for anyone who is into photography.  I love it because it's not too techie and the hosts, Wade Griffith and Ted Forbes, are so generous and down to earth with their experiences as photographers.  There's no photo-snobbery going on here (except for Ted's disdain for William Wegman and wedding photography - which I totally get).  At the end of each show they share their "Picks".  Sometimes they pick books, sometimes documentaries about famous photographers, sometimes blogs.  It's SO educational and pretty darn entertaining, too.  Hey - it would HAVE to be for me to listen to almost every podcast back-to-back!  Go here to find "The Photography Show" podcast on iTunes.  Go here to see the show notes (links and picks) and to learn more about Wade and Ted (uh, Ted and Wade).  Ted also has a podcast called "The Art of Photography" that I plan to subscribe to as well; find that here.  Both have Flickr accounts(Wade's here, Ted's here) and there is also a Flickr account for "The Art of Photography" - here.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.



Another trip to The Granada last night did not disappoint.  What drew us there this time was Ra Ra Riot, who were fantastic!  But the big revelation for me was the opener, the Villagers, who is the remarkably gifted Conor O'Brien from Dublin.  So much talent compressed into such a compact frame, he was mesmerizing from the moment he walked out.

I thought I had never heard of them before until they performed “Becoming a Jackal” which is the title track on their debut cd.    I may have only heard this song once (I cannot for the life of me figure out where – probably KXT 91.7 – my public radio station) and I had most of the lyrics memorized – to my astonishment!  I think that’s what happens when I hear great writing – it gets burned onto my brain and I replay it as background music to my dreams while I’m sleeping.  Does this happen to you?  This has not happened to me in a long time.  Take a listen:

In case you haven't hear enough, here's a really good World Cafe Interview.  Could this be where I heard them?  Here's their official website where you can find links to their Facebook and MySpace pages or buy cds or tshirts.  Conor does all the artwork, btw.  LOVE that.  You can also download the album on iTunes.  But I bought a CD because I wanted to have the words.  Oh, the beautiful words.  The cd as a whole is a cohesive collection of slighty dark, deeply passionate, beautifully spun personal glimpses into a human experience.  And, lookie:  they even signed it for me!

If you still want more, here's a Tiny Desk Concert from NPR.   Happy Listening.


One Hot Halloween Mess

I can feel Halloween coming.  It's windy out, the weather's kinda freaky (tornado in October?), the days are getting shorter and the moon has been making me want to hoooowwwl.  So I celebrated the crazies this weekend by making this.  Can you see me in here?

Speaking of crazy, does anyone remember a Disney record of spooky sounds called "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House"?  My brother sent me a link to it on YouTube a couple weeks ago and it shot me right back to my childhood.

We used to play this out the window of our house while the trick-or-treaters slowly inched their way up to our front door.  It used to scare the heck out of of those kids!  I was thrilled to find out that I can get this record on iTunes now!  Go here to see for yourself!  What about you?  Are you feeling kind a spooky???



Playing with the Lensbaby 2.0

I've had a Lensbaby 2.0 for atleast a year now and I've just now gotten around to taking it out for an afternoon.  I've seen some beautiful photographs made with one of these things, both landscapes and still lifes.  I am no where near controlling this thing like I'd like to, but I'm having fun playing with it.

Here's a little video made by the inventor that shows how to use the Lensbaby that I have:

The Lensbaby website also has some videos and a gallery, so you can see what a photographer who knows what she's doing can do with it.  I need way more time with this little toy!


Keep Dreaming !!

Gosh, I have never been so proud of my husband! As you may already know, he has illustrated his first children's book! Written by his friend, Jake Brittain, this little book has a very powerful message for kids ages 2 to 12. It even comes with a cd of accompanying music recorded by Jake himself. Kids can look at the book and follow along with the lyrics of the song – in three fun versions! We keep our cd in the car and play it while we’re out running errands. We like it and our seven year old loves it, too! 

The message of the book is about how our dreams can become realities. In essence, Scott and Jake hope to give children the inspiration to begin to have dreams of their own and to nurture their dreams. Just think of what wonderful things could happen if children receive this message early in life – to remember their dreams. Isn’t that how wonderful things happen?

What dreams do you have for yourself? Your family? Have any dreams you’ve had come to fruition?

The message is strong and the music is fun to listen to, but the kicker is that for EVERY book sold, one book will be given to a child in need.  Their first donation of books will go to The Boys and Girls Club!  One for One.

To purchase the book, learn more about Scott and Jake, and find out where they will be talking about their wonderful book, go to http://www.newdreamstudio.com/.
And have a fabulous weekend!!!


One for One

I’m so excited right now, because I am about to see the first copies of Keep Dreaming, a book for children that was written by my husband’s friend, Jake Brittain, illustrated by my husband, Scott Dykema, and designed my me. Jake and Scott have decided on a One for One business model for the book.  What that means is that for every book sold, one book will be given to a child in need. They have decided that their first donations will go to The Boys and Girls Club. Isn’t that cool?

This One for One idea came from one of Scott’s friends from Martin High School in Arlington, TX, Blake Mycoskie – the founder of Toms shoes (or chief shoe giver - as he calls himself). As you probably already know, for every pair of Toms you buy, a pair of shoes will be given to a child in need. LOVE this! And apparently, so do a lot of other people! Business is booming for Toms.

Another wonderful company with this same business model is Warby Parker. They offer beautifully made, vintage inspired frames with top of the line lenses (the lenses you pay extra for at the stores) and a 30 day return policy for one price - $95. They’ll even send you 5 pairs of glasses to try on before you decide which frame is right for you! Great deal, right? But the clincher for me is that for every pair you buy, they’ll give a pair to someone who needs glasses but can’t afford them. I’ve already picked out the five I want to try, but due to high demand (eh-hem), I may have to wait a few weeks to get them in my hot little hands. Want to know how I know this? I emailed them to ask how long it would take along with several other questions. The next day I had an email in my inbox from a real person answering every question I had. I just LOVE that!

One more recent discovery that is along these same lines is a website just I found called Collect.Give. The amazing photographers who sell their work on this site have pledged to donate 100% of their profits to the charitable organization of their choice. Very cool!

So stay tuned to see how the new book turns out. Since this is the first book I’ve ever designed, I’m both excited and nervous at the same time. I’m just hoping that the design of the book will show off Jake’s important message and Scott’s gorgeous illustrations. Fingers crossed!

Here's a little preview of the cover:

Go here to see the website where you can buy the book, learn more about Jake and Scott, and see what events they have planned.


Love at First Sight

1939 Pontiac Coupe
Have you ever fallen in love with an inanimate object?  I can honestly say I have in the past - an old windup clock, a gauzy vintage dress from the 1920's, an antique armoire.  Usually, I fall in love with things I can just barely afford or can somehow scrape cash together to take it home with me.  But this time was different.  This is a 1939 Pontiac Coupe that I spotted at the Good Guys Lone Star Nationals at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth last weekend.   I'd never been to a car show like this one!  There were muscle cars, beautiful old cars from the fifties, bigger than you could ever imagine station wagons, an old school bus and my new favorite - the rat rods.  I swear, by the time I left that place at the end of the day I had a "happy headache".  And I had an ache in my heart because I had to walk away from this beauty.

Love the cracks in the steering wheel.

Isn't this hood ornament perfection?

You can see the famed Silver Streak in this shot.

Love the simplicity in the design here.
The sign on the car read:
1939 Pontiac Coupe
Barn Find, Always Garaged
6 Cylinder
Original Motor, Doesn't Run
Donald Greer
(817) 228-1411

Gosh, if I just had a spare $6,500 stashed somewhere.....  And a friend who is a mechanic....  And the extra cash it would take to get it to run....   Yeah, that would be awesome!  I can see myself driving this lovely machine.

Here's a little history about Pontiac from Edmund's:

Pontiac originated as the Oakland Car Company of Pontiac, Michigan, in 1907; it was founded by Edward Murphy. Acquired by General Motors in 1909, Oakland introduced the first Pontiac vehicle in 1926. Dubbed the "Chief of the Sixes," the car was powered by a six-cylinder engine and made its debut at that year's New York auto show. It was so successful that the Oakland name was phased out in favor of Pontiac, the name of an 18th-century chief of the Ottawa Indians. Throughout the 1930s and '40s Pontiac made coupes, sedans and wagons in the low-to-mid price ranges. A unique styling cue of Pontiac cars from the mid-'30s to the mid-'50s was known as "Silver Streak," a set of art-deco-inspired chrome "speed lines" that ran up over the length of the hood to the base of the windshield.
Well, a girl can dream, right?  I mean, that's where it all begins in a dream.


Making Space


New York - yes.  San Franciso - yes.  But Dallas?  Thank you - thank you - thank you to whoever booked Coco Rosie at the Granada.  Not an ounce of predictability, so creative, fantastic sound and the best audience (thank you glow-stick guy).  There aren't many artists who can open up a space in my head like these two.  I see them as two people who are so authentically who they are, what we see is quite magical and cannot be replicated.  They reassure me as an artist to just keep going, even it it doesn't look like what everybody else is doing.

I've posted videos of them before, but just in case you missed them, here's another:

Their official website is here.  If you happen to be in Austin tonight.  Get your hiney to Emo's.  And bring a glow-stick or two.

One of their openers was Sleep Whale, from Denton, Texas.  FAN. TAS. TIC.  Here's a little taste:

Their blog is here. Their MySpace page is here where you can listen to what they do.   You can also find them on iTunes.  I won't be able to get them on my iPod fast enough!


A Light Just Went On

"What if loneliness was simply a feeling of impatience, telepathically sent to you by friends you've yet to meet, urging you to go out more, do more, and get involved, so that life's serendipities could bring you together... Would you still feel alone?

What if illness was just the signal a healthy body sent to urge clarification of your thoughts, feelings, and dreams... Would you still, at times, think of yours as diseased?

What if feelings of uncertainty and confusion were only reminders that you have options, that there's no hurry, and that everything is as it should be... Would you still feel disadvantaged?

What if mistakes and failures only ever happened when your life was about to get better than it's ever been before... Would you still call them mistakes and failures?

And what if poverty and lack were simply demonstrations of your manifesting prowess, as "difficult" to acquire as wealth and abundance... Would they still cause you to feel powerless?

Well, whatever you feel, I still consider you my only begotten, my champion, and my equal.

Are we close, or what?"

- The Universe

This is from a daily email I just subscribed to called "Notes from the Universe" by Mike Dooley.  I've had some pretty stinky thinking going on lately and this was just what I needed to hear.  You can subscribe to the "Notes" here and learn more about Mike Dooley here and find his website here.


I've Got the Sky in my Pocket

Tuesday's Walk to School
My husband and I recently jumped on the iPhone bandwagon.  My justification was so that we could synchronize our calendars and get email "on the road".  Well.... honestly, I think I might be regretting this decision.  Not only did it take practically all day at the Apple store to get our phones switched over (AT&T likes to put people on hold), I have been trying for days to figure out how to set this Mobile Me doo hickey with Outlook (that I thought I had when I purchased the subscription to Mobile Me and had to purchase in a bundle with a bunch of stuff I didn't want).  And to top it off, our internet is acting funny because apparently with all the iThis's and iThat's in the house, there's way too much firewall action going on, so I needed to change some settings which meant lots of learning about something I really don't care about.  Holy freakin cow!  My little brain hurts....

The worst part of this bandwagon is how my husband jumps whenever he hears the "new email" bell go off on his phone.  He stops mid sentence to see what it is.  And I know our son notices this because he was happy when I took his dad's phone away to set up the calender today!  I have to confess, I sometimes jump to see what it is, too.  Once I even caught myself grabbing the phone while driving because the bell went off.  We may have to set some boundries here.

On the bright side, I love the camera!  Whenever I see something interesting and don't have my Canon with me I can just whip it out and shoot away.  So far I have video of my son singing when he didn't know anyone was watching (I'd post it but he was in his underwear!), pictures of goats, my dog smiling really big, and lots and lots of clouds....

How do you manage technology in your life?  Has it taken over?