With Family - July's Self Portraits

In July, I found myself taking my self portraits with the various animals in our lives. After all, they are part of the family and what better way to capture them.

With Caesar, our Appoloosa:
Getting a Nose Rub

I Don't Think Caesar Cares Who Texted Erica

With Louie, our new Siamese:
Morning Snuggle
Chin Scratch

Me and the kids:
Family Night at the Sonic #squaready
184/365+1 Watching Fireworks on the Top of the Tahoe

And in keeping with this month's optional theme that Christy, aka Urban Muser challenged us with - Reflection:
Side Plank
If you are interested, I am doing a side plank here, something new I've learned in the Pilates / Yoga class I've been taking.

You can check out the other great reflection photos from other participants of {in the picture} at the group's flickr pool. If you feel inspired, please join us!

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Summer Dreaming

You know those perfect summer days of your youth - gorgeous weather with ample sun, spent outside with friends, maybe at the beach. Today was one of those perfect summer days.

The morning started crisp and inviting.
It's A Perfect Morning #flowers #hydrangea

I went for a run through the wooded and hilly terrain - a big difference from the flat prairie I'm used to traversing. But I enjoyed running in the cooler, drier conditions and loved seeing the early morning light along the trail.
This Morning's Run Through the Pines #path #runchat #squaready

Next, a family road trip to the beach. Eight of us packed in my sister's minivan. We paid homage to this summer's pop anthem, Call Me Maybe along the way.
Call Me Maybe #songsofsummer #popculture
If you don't know what I'm talking about, go to youtube and search for "Call Me Maybe Harvard Baseball". It's totally family friendly and fun.

But before the beach, we ate lunch at Captain Frosty's in Dennis. Lobsta Roll anyone?
Lunch Time on The Cape #menu
Lobsta Roll #food

Then to Sandy Neck Beach, where we soaked in some sun, walked along the beach and even took a dip in the ocean. The water was "refreshing" (really, if you stayed in for two minutes, the water temperature felt good...).
Summer Dreams #beach #ocean

And more food! Ice cream....
Cousins
.... and dinner ....
Dinner #food

The weather forcast calls for rain tomorrow, so we feel fortunate to have had the perfect summer day today.

All photos taken with my iPhone - it's the best way to capture those daily adventures!

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Evening Walk Around Meadowbrook Park

Photos taken last week, when the oppressive heat had lifted a bit - it was only 80 degF instead of 95 as the sun started to set. I had an hour to kill, and I chose to spend it walking around a local park.

The wildflowers don't seem to be impacted by our lack of rain. It was nice to see something green and blooming.
Coneflowers

Fields of Gold

As a contrast to the wildflowers and prairie fields, an eclectic sculpture collection adorns the walkways.
Around and Around

Lifted to the Sky

The park also rents out organic garden plots to the public. It was fascinating to check out what people were growing in their 17'x30' spaces - from tomatoes, squash and lots of sunflowers.

Stand Proud

I enjoyed my walk around the park. I need to make a point to get out there more often.

Thursday Evening At Meadowbrook Park

Linked to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at the Little Red House.

All photos taken with my 50mm lens. Photos part of my 60 Days of the 50mm collection on flickr.

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P365+1 2012 - Lost June

Things got a little crazy and sad in June and for a while, I stopped taking my daily picture. Eventually, I started to see the beauty around me again. Life resumed and got better again and I realized I took more photos than I thought, enough to cobble together a P365+1 for June.

June 2012 P365+1 Photos

1. 152/365+1 Sushi Time #food, 2. 153/365+1 The Yearling #horse, 3. Not available, 4. 154/365+1 Soccer Awards Night, 5. 155/365+1 June Rose - our best blooms in years. Hopefully the bugs will stay away. #instasummer, 6. 156/365+1 Passing By #train #instacamp #instasummer #road, 7. 157/365+1 Finished, 8. 158/365+1 Book Club on the Patio, 9. 159/365+1 Afternoon Glow #flowers #daylily, 10. 160/365+1 Sam and Brian, 11. 161/365+1 Lost Poster, 12. Not available, 13. 163/365+1 And They're Off to France! Safe Travels! #lettinggo, 14. Not available, 15. Not available, 16. 166/365+1 Clouds in My Coffee, 17. Not available, 18. 168/365+1 Favorite Tofu Dish #food #asian, 19. Not available, 20. 169/365+1 Dinner at Chipotle, 21. 171/365+1 Summer Jamming #sax #music #squaready, 22. 172/365+1 Sweets Direct from Paris #macaron, 23. 173/365+1 The Popcorn Truck #chambana, 24. 174/365+1 Starburst #chambana #sunset #sky, 25. 175/365+1 Turn Around Bright Eyes #cat #catsofinstagram, 26. Not available, 27. Not available, 28. 178/365+1 Cool Treat #food #drink #chocolate, 29. 179/365+1 Meet Louie. He will Never Replace Sam But this Little Guy Has Brightened My Day. #cat #siamese #kitten, 30. 180/365+1 Fresh Peaches

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

It's the middle of July and I'm still a bit inconsistent with my daily photo, but for now I'm not stressing out about it.

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Skip to My Lou

Over the past month, I've learned that, as much as I hoped and prayed for a happy ending, that doesn't always happen. Instead, we have a bittersweet start and move forward.

The reality of the situation is as such - in our neighborhood, seven cats have gone missing since mid May. We've lived here ten years and have never had any issues with cats being taken. But the rabbit population is way down and there have been sightings of a coyote. We received word that seven foxes were rounded up and destroyed just to the south of our neighborhood - due to the unusually high fox population.

It's now been five weeks since Sam went missing. We are fairly certain he was killed by the coyote or large fox. Our other cat, Hannah, is no longer allowed to go outside unsupervised - we go outside with her and make sure she doesn't leave the boundaries of the yard. She only goes out to chew on some grass before heading back inside. She's only insisted on going outside since Sam disappeared, and I am certain she misses him, too.

With the loss of our Sam, I started the process of finding a new cat. The house felt empty and I needed another cat. I specifically sought out another Siamese cat because I knew that breed would bring with it many of the traits I loved in Sam, namely friendliness and loyalty. Ideally, I would have preferred an adult Siamese whose owners were seeking a family to adopt. I found such a cat on Craigslist, but the person running the ad never responded to my inquiry and I assumed the cat had already been adopted. So I started looking for kittens. Oh my, there were quite a few to choose from - such cute and adorable photos that melted my heart. I was ready to drive four hours to visit one breeder when a new ad popped up on Craigslist - one for a 6 month male, a seal point Siamese, whose family could no longer afford him. I responded to the ad and within an hour, the owner, Jane, had emailed and texted me. We arranged to meet the next day.

I took Brian with me and we met Jane at her house, about an hour away. Louie, the Siamese was sleeping on the couch. Jane explained that she was going back to school and could not afford to keep Louie. He had his first set of shots, but needed rounds two and three, including a rabies shot and finally, he needed to be neutered. Jane obtained Louie from an inexperienced breeder who was dealing with too many litters - quote - "I got him out of a bad situation". Even so, it was clear that he was well cared for and loved in his current situation. When Jane placed that droopy cat in my arms, I knew he was the right one. We took him home with us.

Meet Louie. Taken a couple hours after we first brought him home. He spent a little time hidden under the bed, but finally emerged after some coaxing.
Meet Louie. He will Never Replace Sam But this Little Guy Has Brightened My Day. #cat #siamese #kitten
We decided to keep the name his previous owners called him. Scott looked up the meaning of the name and Louie means "famous warrior". We think it fits.

No, he'll never replace Sam. I've told the kids that I would love it if Sam showed up on our doorstep tonight, or 6 months from now - having Louie doesn't change anything about the love we have for Sam and we still miss him.

In the two weeks we've had Louie, he's progressed from being contained to the basement to having free reign of the house. Hannah no longer hisses at him and they seem to be getting along, interacting more with each passing day. We're learning more about his personality - what toys he prefers, where he likes to sleep, how he likes people food (not much of a shocker there!). He's certainly a part of the family.

Sleepy Head #cat #siamese

Blue Eyed Lou #siamese #cat #instacat
I am thankful we have Louie in our lives.

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Playing with Topaz Adjust

I've owned Topaz Adjust for over a year, but don't use it nearly enough. When Clueless in Boston suggested a Black and White Treatment for this photo, I decided to see what Topaz Adjust could do.

Bubbles Attract

First I applied the Lightroom Antique preset:
Old Tyme Popcorn

Then I brought it into Topaz Adjust and used an HDR preset, which gave the bubbles a little more 'Pop':
Old Tyme Popcorn 2

I couldn't stop with just one photo, so here are two more:

These two couldn't stop nipping at each other....
Say Hello

And it was way too hot to sit outside to eat.
Too Hot To Sit Outside

Fortunately, the temperatures have cooled off and we received some much needed rain! I hope you have a great day.

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60 Days of the 50mm | 3

I finally got around to downloading almost a month's worth of photos from my camera. I've had the 50mm lens on my camera for almost 60 days. Unfortunately, I got derailed in the photo taking area and as of today, have 32 photos in my collection. I might see where I get to in the next week and wrap up the project or continue until I have 60 photos. Not sure at this point (how's that for commitment!)

Here's a sampling taken in June:
Lifted to the Sky

Led In

Ain't Seen Nothing But a Good Time

Bubbles Attract

Bunch of Happiness

Linked to This or That Thursday.

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June's Self Portraits

This month's optional theme at Urban Muser's {in the Picture} challenge was "face down", referring to the Planking technique popping up in photos. Planking consists of lying face down, hands by your sides in unusual places. Technically, these should be executed in a public place, but I couldn't get my nerve up to do that!

Here's my planking pose:
plank selfie

My other selfies taken over the past 5 weeks:

Taken on my 45th birthday at the end of May.
45 Years Young

I'm reading the book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
The book is a memoir of the author's various running and triathlon experiences. As I runner, I enjoyed it, especially lines like: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

Finally, the next week, I'm reading again, but this time to get my mind off the fact that our beloved cat, Sam, has been missing for a week. Three weeks later and he's still missing....
Sad

I haven't taken many photos in the last two weeks, hence no recent selfies. Hopefully, I'll get back into the swing of things again.


All photos taken with my iPhone 4s.

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Free Download - July 2012 Calendar for Your Computer



This month's Free Calendar Download for your computer screen is an HDR version of a scene I shot on Lake Erie. It's a little more dramatic than my normal post processing ....



You can download July's Calendar from Box.com at this link: Free July 2012 Calendar
I hope you have a great July, full of summer fun!


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