My Cheating Art

Thursday I took pictures of my new boss (the Learning Center coordinator) for my 365; she did a few leaps that I thought would look awesome but when I went to process them I realized they were terrible. Not her fault of course; the lighting was just bad, the color was dingy, the flash was too strong, and even the background was blah – they just weren’t good photos, period.  I tried to process them anyway, but after about two hours of screwing around with them I realized they were flat-out bad and couldn’t be salvaged. Since they were the only photos I had for Day 22, I actually went ahead and uploaded one of them, but as soon as I saw it in my stream I knew it would never do, and deleted it immediately.

Then – I cheated. I found a picture I took earlier in the week when I was shooting stuff for day 19 and uploaded that instead. I even changed the date in the EXIF data so no one would know. Screw it, it’s my 365, so as the saying goes I’m only cheating myself – and it turns out I don’t mind being a cheater if I know I genuinely tried.  So there.  I’ve actually been saving a few photos from previous 365 shoots that I like but don’t make the final cut, so perhaps subconsciously I knew this would happen and wanted to be prepared. Anyway, here’s the cheat shot for Day 22:

day 22flower

On this day, I went outside to shoot, and it was so humid my camera lens fogged up immediately. I snapped a few photos of flowers anyway, then went inside to get a something better (on this day, I went with the mirror that had the Dame Edna quote on it). I actually liked the effect the fog created on a few of the shots though, so I saved them. Thank goodness.

I was pretty bummed with the crappy photos I got on Thursday,  and once again was feeling like I’d never complete this thing as I’m running out of mojo way too early. But I have no time for anything more complex right now, so it’s the only way to keep my photography going. Another thing that keeps me going is when I snag an awesome shot; it certainly isn’t happening regularly but every once in a while I get a standout (the painter on stilts comes to mind). I got that opportunity Friday morning, when my second period came in and two of the students decided to take up residence on the old sofa I brought from home:

day 23_final

Obviously they were playing it up for the camera, and even gave me permission to put the photo on the school Facebook page under the title “Too Cute for School” – a title they came up with on their own. This may replace the dude on stilts as my favorite photo for the month. Sometimes it’s the construction of the shot that makes it a winner in my mind, while other times it’s the subject matter itself. For subject matter this one wins. Believe it or not, high school students can be really fun.

In other news, I finally watched an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 4, which has my favorite drag queen, Willam, as a contestant) and let’s just say it’s replaced Intervention as my new addiction. It also has me DYING to get myself back into some “drag” again! Come hell or high water, I’m going to take some time on the upcoming three-day weekend to get gussied up for the cameras (unless family illness intervenes again, in which case it’ll still have to wait). But until then, you’ll be happy to know I’ve made peace with my perm again. I do think the humidity (which, as previously mentioned, has been outrageous enough to fog up camera lenses and spectacles at the drop of a hat) was doing a number on it, as well as getting used to the relaxed nature of the curls. But I’ve figured out how to manage it again, and am once again happy. Still not very inclined to do it again in the future, due to the damage, but who knows how I’ll feel in a few months.

Days 20 & 21

Work has been busy, but good overall. I am getting comfortable working with the students in this different capacity, and it seems they are getting comfortable with me. I’ve made some mistakes, but at least once each day I feel like I really help someone with something, which is cool. I definitely feel more self-assured and confident in the role of teacher than I ever did as a counselor. It’s also nice to have my own classroom, where I can shut the door and follow my own rules; the front office where I was before was so chaotic and there was little I could control about that job. Now there’s a lot I can do to keep myself in charge. I feel more at ease just getting through the day this way, and the days go by faster overall.

day 20_final

I’ve also managed to keep the 365 going; this was Day 20’s entry. The sad story is that this was a huge spiderweb underneath our big patio table umbrella, and while trying to get a better shot of it I actually broke it. Typically clumsy me. I didn’t break it entirely though, and when I went outside the following morning the spider had not only repaired it but was sitting in the middle of it proudly, probably to protect it from getting smashed down again by me.

day 21_final

Here’s Day 21 – I finally remembered to bring my camera to school, and on my conference period I searched around the room for something to photograph, landing on these cards I keep in a little bucket by the front door. I used them on occasion as a counselor too. They’re called Everything is Going to Be OK Notes; they’re actually cards, but I cut them to be more like postcards and place them upside down in the bucket so students can pull one out and see what their little message is for the day. Then they have to put the card back in the bucket, because I want to re-use them. They’re all a little vague and weird, like this one, with different pictures and illustrations, so it’s fun to see how the kids react to them. Moving on.

I’ve also gotten addicted to watching re-runs of Intervention, which is a show about addictions so go figure. I’ve been hooked on this show in the past, but hadn’t been into it in a few years, so all sorts of new episodes are out now for me to watch. Most people don’t understand why I get into this show, but I love it and cry at the end of almost every episode. It’s fascinating to me to see how the family dynamic influences the addict- even though I get that much on the show is manipulated and stitched together to create drama. Even knowing that, I mean, there is some stuff you just can’t fabricate, and holy cow do some of those poor people come from wacked-out families. Makes me feel better about mine.

I may have fallen out of watching the show when i started counseling, actually, because suddenly I didn’t want to watch so much of the same drama on TV that I dealt with in the office. Now that I’m out of that line of work, it’s safe to return to it I guess. The drama on TV resolves itself in about 48 minutes, which is the way I like it to be, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, happy Thursday!


As I mentioned last time, I’ve decided to re-categorize the blog to make it more representative of my interests. I’m going to embrace my frivolity and write about hair and shopping and makeup and even review the occasional item I like, in conjunction with ongoing posts about photography.  Whether it’s frivolous or not, it is what I enjoy, and I love writing about all of it, so why not package my blog that way? And my photography fits into it nicely because I enjoy taking pics of all this stuff, plus I enjoy reviewing things and sharing my observations.

When I re-vamped this thing last year, my goal was to make it solely about Art with a capital A, but the truth is I’ve never been the sort of person to live my life as a capital-A Artist anyway. In fact, if I’m being honest, I’ve always avoided those people because they kind of depress me. Not to mention that I never actually did it anyway, and always ended up writing about wigs and clothes and going out to get groceries, so clearly I am not meant to run some blog that’s purely about ART.

So, I will be writing even MORE now about my hair, is my point. I’m also considering making my wig articles and other reviews public again, as well as writing new ones on occasion; it just got so crazy before with all the wig stuff, and the haters, and the wackos, so I am going to take it slow. What this means, though, is that I’d like to transfer some old articles I wrote several years ago about wigs and post them here, and I don’t yet know how to do this without spamming blog followers every time I upload an old post. I’d like to just slip them onto the wig section without everyone getting an announcement every time I do so, because it’s loads of stuff, but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it that way or not. So, if I can’t figure out how to upload posts without emailing everyone each time, I’ll just build that section of the site slowly and only upload one at a time over the course of several weeks. And moving forward, I can fit my posts about clothing or makeup into an appropriate category without calling it all “blog posts.”

That’s all for now; I’ve been working on the blog all day and my arm is killing me. Something else I’ve got to take care of this week…

(Oh, and my friend Mel might recognize parts of this post as an email conversation I had with her about the subject. I explained it so succinctly to her that I just copied and pasted parts of it here…)

Random Shots

Here’s just a few more from the photoshoot. I’m pretty much out of things to say about it at this point, I think, so I’ll just share them and see what comes up.

This was a random shot taken while we were finishing up lunch:


I liked this one, but by the time we took these the paper backdrop was pretty wrinkled so I decided to add a light texture to it when editing; I’m not sure I like it, but it’s better than the backdrop wrinkles.


This last one’s pretty weird, but I liked the way the hair was flowing and how you can just barely see Candace’s eye peeking out: They were actually both down on their hands and knees after executing a yoga move, but I flipped it.


That’s it for now; but the new lens should arrive on Monday, so stay tuned! Although, another busy week at work is coming up, so I may not have much opportunity to use it until the weekend – but we’ll see.

Repressed Memory Lane

Recently I stumbled across a blog that is compiling information about the neighborhood in which I grew up and sharing that information daily. The blog owner is a former inhabitant of this part of our big city, and she’s only about ten years older than I am, which means she’s focusing on the time period in which I was growing up in that same place, more or less – also the boom time of the area, which experienced major growth between the 60’s to the 80’s.

Like most people, I’ve long since left the area, and until recently hadn’t given these old neighborhoods much thought, except to feel relief over no longer living there. Like most staunchly middle-class parts of this big city, the neighborhood and its surrounding enclaves of that time have since tumbled down in status, and are rife with all the issues any area clinging desperately to the lowest rung of the middle-class ladder experience. In fact, that drop from one income bracket to a lower one, and all the crime and disrepair such a shift introduces to the area, was so familiar to me as a child that I was surprised, as a young adult, to learn it didn’t happen to all neighborhoods; I actually had friends in college who could return to their childhood homes without having to lament the decline of the old neighborhood (it happened to the area where both my parents grew up, and even happened to the neighborhoods my grandparents moved into after leaving the first ones that declined – then it happened to mine too, so I just assumed everyone’s childhood neighborhood eventually fell into shambles. Go figure).

So it stands to reason that for me, maintaining attachments to the old neighborhood was futile, as was revisiting it again (at least without a bullet-proof vest). But thanks to this blog, I’ve been reminded that it really was once a pretty nice place to grow up (even though there are more crime reports in the old newspaper the blog owner uses as her primary source for photos and articles than I remember actually happening back then, which makes me wonder). And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how fond my newly-jogged memories are of this place, the people who lived there, the schools we attended, and the bygone eras we lived through.

A few things from that blog I feel are worth mentioning: in this post titled “Almeda Mall,” there are many photos uploaded of what was at the time a real marvel of a shopping center (par for the course with the rest of neighborhood, it’s now a fairly depressing place to visit). Several of the photos are taken from the yearbooks of schools in the area, which often utilized different sections of the mall’s architecture for group shots. One of those photos is from my junior year, and I’m actually in it! 😉 I’m not going to tell you which one, but I will tell you that I was in high school from 1983 to 1987, and my hairdo was the height of 80’s horrid at the time – so look for bad 80’s hair in a group shot and you just might spot me. And if you care to read her whole post about that mall, she pretty accurately sums up the place it holds in the hearts of those of us who grew up out there at that time. It really was the town center back then; loads of memories of that place, including my first ever job. 

A few other things the site has reminded me of: the area was notorious for flooding like crazy every time there was a hard rain, until the city finally caught up to the massive growth of that part of town and upgraded the drainage systems sometime in the 80’s. For most of my early life I assumed that everyone’s street turned into a river each time it rained. By the time I was in junior high, I think our house had been completely flooded out three or four times, all carpet and furniture ruined and in need of replacement. Rollerskating was all the rage back then, and I remember my older sister and I lacing up our skates and speeding through our newly un-carpeted house until we could get all the ruined shag replaced. Good times.

Also remembered was the abandoned neighborhood of South Bend, home to many of my high school friends, now completely bulldozed and abandoned due to contamination of the ground and water in the area by two nearby chemical refineries. The area was eventually labeled a Superfund site (they were taken off that list in 2006) and has become notorious as an example of careless chemical companies contaminating entire neighborhoods with piss-poor storage of toxic chemicals in unlined containers and the like. The neighborhood wasn’t abandoned until the early nineties, I believe, and when I was in school it was still a nice, booming area a little farther up the road from where I lived. Occasionally people still sneak in and take photos of what’s left of the place and it is supremely creepy to me to see it now and remember all the houses I visited and all the friends I had there as a teen. Here’s a link to one such individual’s photos of what was left in 2011 – you’ll have to pardon the language in the ongoing conversation (it’s just an old message board thread), but some of the photos are pretty stunning. Perhaps only to me since I know there used to be a thriving neighborhood there, but still (the one photo of the bank sign really freaks me out, I drove past that thing a million times back in the day). I tried to find old photos of South Bend back when it was a normal place, but couldn’t turn anything up.

I also, of course, remember how much fun it was to spend time outdoors, riding bikes until dark, jumping on trampolines, swimming at the neighborhood pool, and doing all sorts of other things my middle-aged self looks back on wistfully while convincing myself that younger generations sure don’t know what they missed, what with their Internets and their cell phones and their sexting, dontchya know. We got into plenty of trouble and did all sorts of things we shouldn’t have done (and as the blog has reminded me, not all of us survived) but all in all, it was definitely a childhood I look back on wistfully, with a sense of nostalgia and a little bit of regret at how much it’s all changed.

Mint and Tulle

I had this long post written about free time, photography, cheap shots (as in pictures/shots), and whatnot, but then this morning something happened – I discovered Polyvore.

I’ve heard of Polyvore, of course, through Pinterest most of all. People are constantly posting cute outfits from that site on their boards and I end up pinning a lot of them. But I never investigated who is making all those outfit images until today. Sure enough, you just open up an account and start creating outfits to save and share. Oh dear.

I actually made one using a dress I already own; I was thinking about how to wear it in colder weather and searching for ideas on how to wear tulle in winter – that’s what got me started in the first place. I found a few cute ideas I wanted to pin, then thought wait a minute, people are making these outfits on the internet somehow – let me take a few minutes to try and find out how to do them myself. And about fifteen minutes later, I’d made my first “set.”

Mint and Tulle

One of the main reasons I use Pinterest is to give myself outfit ideas to glance over when it’s time to hurry  up and get dressed already, and now I can do this without even having to try everything on first (although trying it all on is always better). Everything except the earrings (obviously, since I don’t wear them), bracelet, and purse I already own, at least some variation of it, so this is just one more way to plan and put things together without the drudgery that sometimes occurs when trying lots of items on. The dress I was able to search for by name, since I just bought it, and sure enough the site pulled the actual dress right up. Then I searched for a mint cardigan, because I already own one, brown tall boots (none of them that came up exactly match the ones I have, but these are close) and so on for the accessories.

So I’ll post today’s update tomorrow, and leave you with this for now. I am off to force myself to go to the grocery store instead of staying on Polyvore all day long…but it’s going to be difficult. With any luck, my fab outfits will take Pinterest by storm. We’ll see.

Nostalgic Neighborhood Tour, Part 2

Before jumping into this post, I must preface it with a warning: I know next to nothing about architecture, home design, decoration, restoration – anything to do with houses, much less historical ones. So my names for things, and my descriptions, will be completely ignorant. I apologize. If I were more motivated I’d look all this stuff up before writing about it, but I mostly want to share pictures and the memories they evoke for me. I realize this makes me lazy and sloppy, but it’s my blog, so if you want to read expert writing on this subject, go read someone’s blog who’s getting paid to write. Moving on.

(And as previously stated, all pictures were taken with my iPhone 5S. I love how easy and portable a smart phone makes photography!)

The first house we toured had a name – Rosecroft – and was one of the more modest homes we visited. For that reason, I liked it best. It was still small and homey, and although it had been completely restored, all the renovations were fairly true to the original home. Call me crazy, but I actually prefer small homes to large ones, small rooms to big, and dark walls to light. I guess my ideal living space would be a cabin – something cozy and warm. Light, airy rooms feel sterile and drafty to me. So this house, which had retained the narrow hallways and tiny spaces of the original, felt very homey.


The house was named by the original owner, artist Charles Sherman. The name is seen here over the porte cochere (the brochure calls it that – I would have called it a car port, because I know nothing).

The rose motif carries over into the house, where stenciled art graces the sunroom. This is original artwork, which was restored by the current owner.


The sunroom, showing the rose stencils in action. The stained glass windows are a new addition.

Oh, how I did love his bathroom! I know that sounds weird – but the bathrooms in both my great-grandmother’s and grandparent’s houses were so distinctive, and different from what we had in our modern home, that they are etched in my memory. Tile everywhere – hexagon tile on the floors, and shiny tile on the walls, the counters, just all over. And in my grandmother’s house, it was ALL pink! And then of course, she kept pink toilet paper on the roll (remember colored toilet paper? I know it’s horrible stuff, but I miss it). Then my great-grandmother had a claw-foot tub, so I enjoyed seeing another one of those here, too. The tile on this guy’s floor was new, but it is very true to the original tile of the houses of the time (I think – remember, I know nothing). In all the other houses, the bathrooms appeared to be the one area where the owners modernized a lot, but I feel this gentleman did a nice job of maintaining some of the original feel (of the bathroom? Weird, I know. But still, it mattered to me).

Could have used tile on the walls, though. 

And now to share a shot that really captures a childhood memory for me – the glass doorknobs. Every door in my grandmother’s house had glass doorknobs (and that house had a lot of doors – every room including the kitchen had doors to close it off from all other parts of the house) and when I was a kid, I thought they were diamonds. I figured out at some point that they were not, but still considered them incredibly fancy and extravagant. This house maintained the glass doorknob feature throughout the house, so I made sure to get a shot of some:


The back of the house, where the two bedrooms were, was quite small and cramped, and although I loved that about it (the hallway was teeny-tiny, yet there were still built-in cabinets in the walls) I couldn’t get any decent shots of anything. So this house, although it was probably my favorite, doesn’t have a lot of photographic representation. Not that I didn’t try:

A shot of the den, taken from the front sunroom.

I also didn’t get any decent shots of his kitchen, once again because it was so small. But you can see a little glimpse of it there in back of the den. Here’s a shot of the den taken while standing in front of the fireplace:

Probably my favorite photo from the whole shoot. I don’t know if there’s a name for this feature, where the driveway pulls up right alongside a side door of the house – but I love it. So glad I got this shot. 

Sadly, this next one is the last photo from this house. It felt rude to me to spend too long setting up shots and getting obsessive with the photos, so I tried to do what I could quickly and move on. Since the den area was the largest part of the house, well, that’s where I took most of my shots. This last one was taken from the kitchen:

One of those dudes is my husband. Unfortunately, the owner of the house (whom everyone is listening to, as you can tell) can’t be seen. He was an incredibly friendly and interesting guy.

Oddly, both houses I liked the best have the least photos to represent them. Again, this is partly because the spaces within both places were very small, but also, I think when touring them I was more interested in experiencing the space than taking pictures of it.

I’ll share my shots from the second stop tomorrow.