Category Archives: Photography

SEVEN WEEKS AND ROLLING

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Hard to believe it has been seven weeks since I started my new lifestyle of living on the road full time in a motor home (a/k/a full-time RV).  In that amount of time I have visited Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, Canada and Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park, Maine in the United States.

One thing you have to do when living this way is be conservative, be flexible, and enjoy life.  Sometimes things go well, and other times the best laid plans can be foiled.  Highlights of my travels and learning curve:

  1. The best laid plans can be foiled when you make a day trip three hours away only to discover that town’s power is out and all businesses (including museum you wanted to visit) are closed.
  2. Pulling off for a quick lunch break takes more planning in a 35-foot motor home towing a vehicle than it does in a car.
  3. Ottawa, Ontario is the capitol of Canada and is a very interesting city, but bring your walking shoes.  There is one parking lot in the entire city and a lot of area to cover.   If you take a double decker bus tour it is a great way to get around, but you may end up with a tour guide who has a strong French accent and is difficult to understand.
  4. Canadians are very pro recycling The question in grocery stores is “Do you have your own bag?” not “paper or plastic?”  Some stores charge you for use of their bags.
  5. You can not stock up when items are on sale.  There is no extra room beyond the refrigerator and pantry.
  6. There is a large percentage of people in Canada who hang their laundry outside to dry….many on pulley-style clotheslines.
  7. When living in an RV, laundry is a necessary evil that must be done in a laundromat (most campgrounds have them) every 2-3 weeks.
  8.   You can live in a house for years and never wave at your neighbors, but in a campground everyone waves at everyone else.
  9. The architecture and culture of Quebec City, with its fortification wall, Citadelle, and French influence is like taking a step into another country.
  10. When you travel full time you need down time.  This is not a vacation, it is a lifestyle.
  11. When you give up on the road signs being true and think you will never see a moose, one shows up on the side of the road and you do not have the camera ready.
  12. No matter how many times you see them, the difference between high tide and low tide at the Bay of Fundy is amazing.  This is where you see the world’s largest tides.
  13. Getting your mail an average of once every four to six weeks takes planning so it arrives in a city where you plan to be at the appropriate time.
  14. A GPS can be your best friend and your worst enemy.  Our Trucker GPS in the RV took us down a road that had been re-done two years ago and no longer goes through — it is now a dead end.  When towing you cannot back up because it damages the tow unit, so we had to disconnect the jeep, turn the RV around and then re-connect before we could continue.  Of course it would have helped if Ellsworth, Maine had put up a “Dead-End” sign, as a woman on the road said it happens all the time and they have been after the city to do something.
  15. In many spots what is promoted as a “scenic drive” is overgrown with nothing to see.
  16. Convection oven cooking is not difficult, just different.  The three burners on the stove-top is much harder to adjust to as it does not easily accommodate large pans.
  17. I have not adjusted to the feel of the motor home when driving in high winds or uneven pavement.  That one is going to take some time!
  18. This is an awesome way to live and I’m glad I took the plunge and jumped in with both feet.

As time goes on I look forward to sharing more of my travel adventures with everyone.

 

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Vacation Destination: Calgary, Alberta

Looking off into the distance, the peaks of the Canadian Rockies can be seen, drive a couple hours north east and visit Drumheller, a town sunken down into the earth that just happens to have the world’s largest finding of dinosaur skeletons and a huge museum displaying them,  but the main purpose of this destination was to attend the Calgary Stampede, the largest outdoor event on earth.

It is exhilarating to travel somewhere you have never been before.  To experience the beauty of nature and the excitement of a world-renown event.   To visit areas famous for their natural beauty.  That is what I did this past July when I flew from Detroit, Michigan to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for a 10-day vacation.    To me travel and vacations are an opportunity to partake in the areas surroundings, take photographs, and experience the culture of the area.

Calgary is surrounded by a vast array of attractions, and I was only able to experience a small amount.  I arrived at night and did not have the opportunity to view the Canadian Rockies from my plane, but when I awoke the next morning they could be seen in the distance from where I was staying.   About 1-1/2 hours drive west from Calgary is Banff National Park.  Canada’s First National Park comprises 2,564 square miles and is located in the Canadian Rockies.  Banff is the home of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, glacier lakes with a beautiful, distinctive emerald/turquoise color water.  The breathtaking scenery makes this park makes it well worth the time to visit.

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A day trip to Drumheller, northeast of Calgary, is a “must see”.  Located in the Canadian Badlands, this unique town is built in an area of land that at some point in time sunk down into the earth that now houses the badlands and an entire town.  This is where you will find the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur skeletons and fossils.   I spent several hours inside the museum, taking a break to lunch at the on-sight cafeteria.

The plan was to visit the Royal Tyyrell Museum in the morning and spend the afternoon driving the Canadian Badlands taking photos.  The Canadian Badlands covers a 35,000 square mile region where dinosaur bones were discovered in the late 1800s.  Nowhere on Earth has there ever been found the quantity and quality of dinosaur remains as have been discovered in the Canadian Badlands.   It is speculated that for some reason this area of land sank down into the earth, creating a drastic drop in elevation and that stampeding dinosaurs fell over the age and died.  The result is one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil regions.  Since the late 1800’s more than 1,000 complete skeletons of dinosaurs have been found and digs continue to this day.  The Royal Tyrrell Museum contains over 130,000 skeletons and/or fossils from this area.

In addition to dinosaur finds, the Badlands is also where gangsters would run and hideout in the “wild west” era.  The terrain of the area was dangerous due to its sunken area, allowing for an easy ambush and law enforcement would not pursue gangsters once they entered the area.  The history of the badlands combined with the gorgeous rock formations makes the area a “must see” on a trip to the region.  Unfortunately a rainstorm prevented the planned exploration of the badlands from taking place.

The main purpose of my trip to Calgary was the Fantasy RV Tours 7-Day Calgary Stampede event.  The tour group arranged RV parking in a stadium parking lot and participants  took a short walk to the train stop for a ride into the town of Calgary and/or to the  Calgary Stampede Grounds.   In addition to the stampede, the tour included a visit to Heritage Park and Gasoline Alley, attending the Calgary Stampede Parade, breakfast in the rotating restaurant at Calgary Tower, and a visit to the Glenbow Museum in downtown Calgary.

Heritage Park Historical Village includes Gasoline Alley, a “must see” car museum.  I spent so much time in Gasoline Alley that my time was very limited on viewing the rest of this living history museum.  A train ride around the park gave me a nice overview, and because of the way stops are scheduled you circle the park twice before you can disembark at the location you boarded.  The majority of visitors get off and on to visit various attractions.

Our tour included breakfast at the revolving restaurant in the Calgary Tower.  The observation deck of the tower provides a 360° view of the city and surrounding area.  One area has a glass floor you can walk out on for a true view down.   I found the glass bottom very disconcerting, and had to use the rail to walk out onto it.   Across from the tower is the Glenbow Museum, which is a combination art and history museum.  I spent quite a bit of time viewing the historical exhibits and taking photographs.

The Calgary Parade is a kick-off to the Calgary Stampede.  This parade displays the heart and sole of Calgary and the Stampede, with horses, carriages, bands, and more.  Many follow the parade down to the stampede grounds for the opening of the event.  The Calgary Stampede grounds is a huge venue, including barns, a midway, an Indian Village, and the main highlight, the stampede grandstand.   You definitely want to take in both an afternoon rodeo show and an evening grandstand show, which features chuck wagon races, performances, and fireworks.  You will not be disappointed!

My trip to Calgary went way too fast and before I knew it my ten days had ended and I was at the airport and on my way home.  I hope that someday I will get back to the area and have a chance to visit more thoroughly some of the areas I only touched on lightly.

 

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Killing Myself Preparing for Vacation

 

Am I the only one who feels like they have to go into overdrive in order to prepare for a vacation?  I recently planned for a 10-day trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  In order to prepare I had to complete several things.travel-checklist-suitcase-world-map-260nw-449655331

  • Book Airline Flight
  • Reserve parking for my vehicle near airport
  • Passport due to expire five months before my flight, six months is the minimum,  passport renewed
  • Go to bank to get US money exchanged for Canadian funds to take on trip — but my bank doesn’t have them plus charges a $12 fee; go to second bank that does not charge a fee and lets me obtain funds, which they have on hand, because I have a credit card issued by their bank.
  • Go back to bank closer to trip to withdraw US funds to travel with.
  • Check for good photo ops where I will be traveling to
  • Order meals for the two flights (coming and going) that are in excess of four hours.
  • Check the airline baggage requirements for international travel; order a suitcase that meets airline specifications for checked luggage
  • Measure my carry-on bag to make sure it meets airline requirements.
  • Check the list of airline regulations to make sure I am not doing anything to raise the hackles of TSA.
  • Make last-minute checklist so I don’t forget anything
  • Make sure all camera batteries are charged, SD cards clear, all camera gear needed is ready to go.
  • Continuously analyze whether I want to pack my laptop, just an external drive to download photos onto using my friend’s computer, or if just the SD cards will be enough and I can download after returning home.
  • Get haircut.
  • Work extra hours to get everything organized for when I am away.
  • Wash clothes on an “off day” so they are clean to pack and/or ready for return to work after vacation.
  • Pack suitcase and carry-on bags
  • Print boarding passes
  • Leave for trip — See ya when I return!

How many of you go through similar rituals when preparing for a trip?  Do you have any tips to make travel prep easier?

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If I Received $10,000 That I Had to Spend on Myself…

I saw the thought proving statement, “If I Received $10,000 that I HAD to spend on myself I would…”    That got me thinking, what would I do with that kind of money if I absolutely had to spend it on myself, not save it, not pay bills, but spend it on just me, what would I do?

As my mind started tossing around the possibilities I realized that $10,000 is both a lot of money and only a small amount of money.  It would not purchase a house, a motor home, a boat, or a new vehicle.  On the other hand, if used with a bit of frugality, there is a lot that could be done with that type of “free” money.

I think I would take a few hundred dollars and re-work my wardrobe.    A larger selection and more splashy, bright colored, fun things to wear.  I might even splurge on some new shoes and a purse or two, as I tend to use mine until they are on their death bed, which I have a habit of doing with most of my clothes and accessories.

I might add a few pieces of quality jewelry.   I have some good jewelry, but I have a lot of costume jewelry and I would likely replace some of those pieces.

The majority of the money I would spend on travel.  I don’t know how far that money would take me, but I would think if I watched for bargains I could hit a few places I have never been or adventures I have never taken.    For years I have wanted to take an Alaskan cruise on the inside passage.  I have never been to the Grand Canyon, Yellow Stone, or Mt. Rushmore.   Scenic photos of Wyoming and the Dakotas capture my eye, as do many other places in both the U.S. and Canada.  I love places that are photogenic, so who knows what might grab my attention.

I have never been on a week-long cruise and that might be a wonderfTRAVELul way to kick-back and relax while seeing exotic places.  I would like to get back to Hawaii someday, and I’ve heard the Caribbean and/or other tropical islands are wonderful places to vacation.  I think it would be neat to travel in Europe, possibly visiting some or all of the countries of my heritage, those being Belgium, Germany, Poland, and Netherlands.   Others of interest are Ireland, Italy, Iceland, Greece, and Switzerland…and I’m sure there are more.  Of course there is always the possibility of a photo trip to Africa, or maybe Galapagos Islands.  The possibilities are endless.

Have I spent my $10,000 yet?  I’m sure I have.  I guess $10,000 may seem like a lot, but I’m sure I could handle spending it all on me if I had to.   Now if only that were reality.  Dreaming…..I’m only dreaming…..

 

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What makes a weekend successful?

When you work 40 hours a week, the weekend is your time for everything – social activities, housework, projects, shopping, you pile it all in and attempt to get it done, frequently without success.

Last Thursday I created a to-do list for everything I want to get done by March 18th — that gives me two weekends and the evenings after work.  It is an extensive list, I used a sheet of notebook paper to make it out.  This being the end of the first weekend, I am already feeling either frustration or panic over whether or not I will get everything done.  That got me to thinking, what makes a weekend successful?  76602-there-arent-enough-days-in-the-weekend-quote-1

Friday after work I went to an opening of an art show exhibit at Studio 1219, an art studio I have belonged to for years.  I was there until 8 pm, viewing art and talking with several other artists I know.  I stopped for dinner on the way home.

Once home I cleaned out “junk” email, then shopped online for a new laptop computer.  Being the first time I have made a computer purchase on my own (that was always my husband’s department) I had no clue if what I was looking at was good for speed, memory, graphics, etc.    Luckily a friend had recently ordered a laptop so I pulled up the unit they purchased and compared their information to mine.  Feeling confident my selection was good I placed the order — laptop computer, laptop sleeve/case and external mouse.    I went to bed at 3 am….so much for weekend rest!

Saturday I started a major project — cleaning out my deceased husband’s office.  He had let it pile up the last couple years he was alive and I was literally stepping over and around stacks on the floor whenever I had to go in there.  I pulled a considerable amount of stuff out into the upper landing and found the floor.  Then I got a step stool and hauled everything out of the closet to see what was there.  I spent quite a bit of time going through things, setting some aside as “keep” or “unsure” and a lot of items went into boxes marked “sell.”  Boxes marked for sale I began stacking into the back of the closet.  I still have a lot of stuff on the landing to go through, put away, or temporarily store somewhere during the cleaning process (I currently have a bathroom blocked).   I still have more on the floor in the office to sort, not to mention on shelves and in cabinets, but I have made a decent dent and can actually walk into the room now.

best_is_all_that_matters_1438597959Sunday morning I did a few household chores and worked on my computer.  I had to prepare an Agenda for a meeting and email it out, preview a CD for a meeting later this week to make sure it ran on the laptop okay, plus a few other minor projects.  I then headed out the door for a 2:00 pm lunch event with the St. Clair County Eagle Watcher’s, a photography group I belong to.   This year’s event included a showing of five birds of prey.  Camera’s were clicking as each bird was displayed and talked about.   By 4:30 I was on the road and headed to purchase groceries.

I arrived home around 7:00 pm, unloaded and put away groceries, then chatted on the phone for about 30 minutes with a friend.  I sorted about four days worth of accumulated mail, hand-wrote a draft to a column for a newspaper due this week, then drafted out this blog, which I will likely review and post Monday morning.

There are still a lot of things left on my list to do, way more than I have crossed out.   Now the question is, even though I haven’t completed my list, was my weekend successful?  I did attend two social events, spent the majority of one day working on a large cleaning/sorting project, completed a few other tasks, went grocery shopping, plus drafted a column and this blog,

While it is easy to look at the number of things still on my to-do list and get frustrated at what is left to do, I think I have to log the weekend as a success.

How was your weekend?  Was it a success?  What did you do?  Was it filled with fun, work, or a combination?

 

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Matthaei Botanical Gardens

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  If like me you enjoy taking photographs of flowers and/or nature, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Matthaei has several options to fit everyone’s needs or desires.  There are several trails that are open sunrise to sunset seven days a week, plus the conservatory, garden store, lobby and display gardens are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Admission is free; they do have a donation box inside the conservatory, and there is a reasonable parking fee of only $1.50 per hour or a maximum of $5.00 per day.  With the size of the venue I opted to pay the daily rate immediately._DSC6631

I arrived at 8:30 am.  It was quiet, with only a few people quietly walking out onto some of the trails.  I grabbed my camera and tripod and decided to walk the Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, which circles Willow Pond.   This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, which they estimate to be a ten minute walk.  I meandered slowly, taking pictures and stretched it into almost an hour, taking time to sit down a couple times on benches that were available.

The difference in time is whether you walk like the average person or walk like a nature photographer, skimming the area for possible subjects to photograph.  Doing so can make a fast walk take quite a while and is why I prefer to partake in such places either alone or with other photographers who understand the time frame needed to fully enjoy the area.

I decided to do the outside gardens first, and in looking over the map not only did I not go up into the Children’s Garden, but I also missed the Perenial Garden, Grower’s Garden, MiSo House and Bonsai and Penjing Garden.  I started in the Gateway Garden, a relaxing spot with benches, rocking chairs and fountains.  I took photographs of flowers there, in the Marie Azary Bock Garden and in the Sitting Gardens before meandering down the Commons, which are bordered by two other gardens on the east and bench seating on the west.

The commons leads you into the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden.  Here you will find chipmunks scampering back and forth amongst the plants and sometimes climbing up on them as well, but trying to capture them in a photo is difficult.  They are quick little guys!  Once I completed my photo rounds of the herb garden I strolled between that and the perennial garden and went through a vine/plant covered tunnel which led to the opening of the children’s garden.  I had the option of going up into the children’s garden or taking a nature trail around the children’s garden.  What I opted to do was take a short trail not shown on the map into the Oak Openings Garden.

There was nothing to attract my photographer’s eye in the Oak Openings Garden with the exception of wild strawberry plants that had begun bearing fruit.  It was the bright red of the fruit that grabbed my eye as I looked down to scan the ground for photo subjects.  I followed the trail through the Upland Woodland Garden and across into the Wet Woodland Garden.  Unfortunately the hot weather we had been having left nothing  wet, it was, on that day, better termed a dry woodland.  Nothing caught my eye for photographs, so I proceeded into the Great Lakes Garden, which led me into one end of the Prairie Gardens, then the Coastal Gardens and back up where I started in the Gateway Garden.   Unfortunately a group was there partaking in the rocking chairs or I would have grabbed one for a nice relaxing break.

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By now I had been wandering for a few hours and decided to take a snack break before visiting the Conservatory.  One thing to keep in mind, the conservatory does not sell meals, only a limited selection of snack food, candy and beverages.  If you plan to be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for several hours you may want to consider packing a cooler with beverages and lunch or snack food.   I had not planned that far in advance, so I purchased a small trail mix and flavored water.  There are one or two small tables where you can sit inside to consume your snack, and there are also tables available outside on the deck.  Food and beverages are not allowed inside the conservatory.

The Conservatory has three main areas, the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Desert House.  Here you will find many plants and blooms to view and/or photograph.  On this day there was a water Lilly in full bloom, Cocoa trees, pineapples growing, sausage trees with their “fruit” hanging in abundance, and numerous other flowers and plants.  The Desert House has the majority of their cactus growing in raised display beds, making it easy to enjoy and photograph the wide variety.  I’m sure this was also done to preserve the fingers of little ones who may be touring with their parents.  Some of those cactus spines are pretty long and wicked looking!

I spent about five hours touring the trail, gardens and conservatory, and I didn’t see it all.  Keep in mind I was walking slow, took several rest breaks on the numerous benches that are available throughout the property, and was taking photographs.  The average person might tour it at a much faster pace.

I would like to go back and walk some of the trails I chose to skip, plus with anything growing outside the gardens and trails are a constantly changing canvas with growing seasons and weather.  If going they do recommend appropriate footwear for walking the natural areas and that you stay on paths due to poisonous plants such as poison sumac and poison ivy growing in natural areas.  The Massauga rattlesnake also inhabits the area.  I did not encounter any slithering reptiles, but did enjoy the “music” of unseen frogs as I walked around the pond.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area I highly recommend a visit to University of Michigan’s Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Playing With Wine

I needed a still life photo for the monthly competition in the Blue Water Shutterbugs Camera Club.  and with limited mobility I had to utilize what I had on hand…a wine basket I received as a Christmas gift.   It was a fun time setting up and shooting the photographs, with both good and bad moments:

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Photo by  Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

The Good:  The French wine, Lindt chocolate, my wine glasses and fresh raspberries went together nicely to create a still life image.

The Bad:  I had to open a bottle of wine to put in the glasses for the shoot (well, maybe this has some secondary good to it).

The Good:  I used Leelenau Cellers Raspberry wine instead of the higher alcohol content of the French wine I received as a gift.

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The Spill:  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

The Bad:  I had to drink the opened wine after the photo shoot, and with little food in my stomach I was feeling pretty good (maybe that isn’t a bad thing, a little buzz can be fun).

The Good:  I really like the raspberry wine, which smells like fresh raspberries when you uncork it, and at least had the forethought to put some dinner in the oven.

The Bad:  While doing the shoot and re-arranging the set-up one of the glasses tipped over, spilling wine on my table.

The Good:  It was the glass with the least amount of wine in it, and the spill gave me an alternative set-up to try.

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Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

The Bad:  With red wine there is always the risk of it staining, and I was leaving it spilled on the table to take the additional photos.

The Good:  No stains!

The Bad:  I was having so much fun I took way more photographs than I needed.

The Good:  I enjoyed the time spent shooting and ended up with a usable photo for the competition.

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The Selected Entry: Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

 

 

The Bad:  I drank the entire bottle of wine….do I have to count the calories?

The Good:  The photo was well received when judged.

The Bad:  Now I’m itching to go out and shoot more pictures, which wouldn’t be bad if I wasn’t so grounded waiting for my ankle to recover.

The Good:  It is in my future!

 

Motto of the Story:
Have a Good Day, Drink a Little Wine, Shoot a Few Pictures and Enjoy Life!

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Traveling Solo

Memorial Weekend was not the first time I have ever traveled solo, but it is the first time I have done so since the passing of my husband in December 2015.  It was a good trip.  It was a fun trip.  It was a relaxing trip.  It was a lonely trip.    Rather than elaborate in paragraph form, I decided to do a list of bullets, highlights various activities, thoughts, and observations.

 

  • Destination Sault Ste. Marie via Newberry, Michigan.  For those who do not know, these cities are in Michigan’s upper peninsula and are a 5-1/2 to 6 hour drive from my home.
  • Even though I set the cruise control at 74 instead of my normal 85 I still made the trip in the projected six hour time frame going to Newberry on Saturday morning, and that included two stops along the way.  I made it home from Sault Ste. Marie in 5-1/2 hours on Monday with three stops along the way.
  • For those of you who do not know, I have a son in Newberry Correctional Facility and was going to visit him.  I was very surprised to find that it was not busy at all with visitors.  I had anticipated a wait due to the holiday weekend, but was pleasantly surprised to find I could get in right away.
  • Stopping along a two-lane road near a wooded area in the upper peninsula to shoot, from a distance, a large group of trilliums results in an attack of nats, no-seeums, or baby flies (I was told they were all three of those things).  The invasion was so intense that just getting in and out of my car resulted in a large quantity inside, which I was then rolling down the window and trying to shoo out as I drove away.  Maybe it would have been better had I not been wearing perfumed lotion?

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    Trilliums along roadway. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • Drinking a margarita with my meal resulted in me going from being a good tipper to an exceptionally generous tipper, but I’m sure the waiter was happy.
  • Having a GPS in the car is great, especially when it tells you your hotel is in one spot, which is a hotel under construction.  After placing a phone call you find out your hotel is about 1/2 a mile farther down the road and on the opposite side of the road.   However it did have a handy landmark – across the street from Walmart, and next to the State Police post.  Hmmmm, I never once saw a State Police vehicle the entire time I was there.
  • No-leak ice pacs will create a puddle in your fabric insulated lunch box if they thaw completely and will leave a stream behind you when you attempt to carry it.
  • On Sunday morning all the country music stations, actually almost all the radio stations in general, are either talk shows or church sermons/music.  I found a rock station out of Traverse City/Kalkaska playing music, so of course I had to crank it up and dance my way from Sault Ste. Marie to Newberry for my second day of visiting with Patrick.
  • My favorite place for breakfast in Newberry had several new books by local authors, but I only selected and purchased one.  That is what I most often buy when I travel, books written about the area in which I am visiting and/or by local authors.    I also purchased a book in a gift shop in Sault Ste. Marie by another local author.  DSC_9246
  • It is great to discover that your cousins from the Traverse City area happen to be visiting Newberry as well and you are able to get together for an impromptu dinner and chat for a couple hours.
  • I am a chicken when it comes to setting up my tripod and taking photos in the dark on an unlit street when by myself in an area with which I am not familiar when by myself.  I never gave it a thought when Ron was with me.
  •   The International Bridge looks awesome at night lit up in red, white, and blue, but I have no pictures (please refer to my previous post above).
  • At America’s Best Value Inn an accessible room is truly accessible.  When I am staying at a location where I am unsure on whether or not they have elevators I will book an accessible room to make sure I am not climbing stairs alone with my suitcase, etc.  (I have a very bad ankle).    Usually “accessible” is a room that is on the main floor or not far from the lobby or elevator, but beyond that nothing unusual.  The one in Sault Ste. Marie was wheelchair accessible, had a wooden floor, a fully wheelchair accessible shower, and a raised toilet seat.   Of course the best part was a king size bed, which I had all to myself.
  • I greatly overestimated how much time I would have in the room to read and/or write and packed way more items than needed.
  • The Tower of History in Sault Ste. Marie provides a nice view of the entire city and locks.  There is a small museum on the main level.
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Tower of History.  Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • There is an island, Sugar Island, that is accessed by ferry that would be interesting to explore on a future trip.  It is inhabited by a small amount of people and also houses some businesses, but is also supposed to have nature areas.
  • It is hard to access and walk the areas near the water and locks when downtown.  The park where the locks are located is gated, has a security entrance, and closes at 9:00 pm.  The park itself is quite large and features two stories of viewing platforms for watching ships/boats go through the locks.  Unfortunately I missed seeing any go through.
  • Lockview Restaurant has very good fresh whitefish that can be ordered done in five different methods.  I chose broiled and it was very good.
  • Patrick informed me that Street Outlaws is an awesome program.  Monday night was a season premier that was two hours long.  I did enjoy the parts I saw, but unfortunately fell asleep and missed a good portion of the races.  It was rather cool that they were racing Detroit in that episode.
  • My ankle is impacting my decisions on what I do or do not do, which means it is affecting my day-to-day quality of life.  If it does not improve by fall I think I will need to go in for a consultation with my surgeon and likely have an ankle fusion done over the winter.  As someone who is terrified of surgery, that statement and acceptance of the likely need is huge.
  • I am a much more conscientious spender when traveling alone than I was with Ron.  This does not mean I was previously a spender by nature, quite the contrary.  I was and am more likely to put off doing things, whereas Ron was always more likely and willing to buy or do whatever he or I wanted and figure out how to pay for it later.  I guess he was either a good influence or a bad influence, depending on how you look at it.
  • DSC_8736

    Sault Ste. Marie and International Bridge.   Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • I need to plan a longer stay to do and see some things I want in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Buying a bag of fresh on sale at the fudge shop is good.  Munching on it to stay awake all the way home and in the process eating the entire bag is not.  I had a miserable stomach ache later to remind me not to make that mistake again!

Overall I had a fun time this weekend.  I managed to traverse the city at night without getting myself horribly lost.  I forgot to take my book with me for the times I was dining, so utilized social media to keep myself entertained instead.   My first weekend trip as a widow was fun.  It was relaxing.  It was lonely.    The next one will be better.

 

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Filed under decisions, exploration, habit, handicapp, Holidays, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, travel, Upper Penninsula

35 Years of Shooting

Planning the Celebration of my husband, Ron Grogan’s life includes a slide show presentation.  My best friend, Vicki, came to visit and we spent a weekend going through 35 years of albums and photo boxes to come up with a selection of possible photos of Ron for the slide show.    My daughter located songs I wanted to use and I put them all together, but there was a glitch.Ron with 150-600 Harsens Island 2015

When I put the three soundtracks and the photos together I ran into a problem of too many photos for the length of music.  Then I counted.  There were  150 photos beyond the ending of the last song.  What a nightmare to cut.  Every photo seemed important, at least it was to me.  I did cut, and then when I got down to about 25 over I contacted my daughter with the name of another song to add.  After that I had to tweak the presentation, adding photos, removing photos, looking for the perfect mix.  I still haven’t finalized.  I continue to replay the show and make adjustments.

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

Ron loved life, family and photography, and that is what I wanted to capture.  The essence of how he spent his time.  It has been, overall, a fun project to do.    Years of smiles captured on film.  Years of memories, some I had forgotten about.  Sometimes you realize the more things change, the more things stay the same.

From the time I met him in 1980, a solid majority of photos of Ron showed him with a camera in his hands.  We sold his photographs at arts and crafts shows in 1982-83.  Things were different back then.  Only on occasion did someone have a tent, most people, us included, just sat up out in the open.  Ron hand cut mats in intricate designs for his photos.  It was a fun time.  We stopped doing art shows once we had our first child in 1984 and didn’t resume selling our photographs until after we moved to St. Clair County in 2004 and jointed the Blue Water Shutterbug Camera Club.  However, photography was always a part of our lives.  From the time our kids were small we put cameras in their hands, and they grew up taking photos too.

0411 Ron on pictured rocks cruise-1 2014Ron had a saying,  “Change Equals Growth.”  As people view the slide show I have put together I hope they see the many changes, the growth that has taken place in Ron’s life.  Changes in his camera, clothing, hair length, and hobbies all captured with the wonderful art of photography.

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Unable to Shoot–a Photographer’s Dilema

Nikon-D750-2I am a photographer.  I have an attachment to my favorite camera, which is a Nikon D750 that I received at Christmas.  My husband and I both upgraded to them at the same time.  Two weeks ago I was taking a walk and it started giving me a beam of light across all my pictures, then locked up and gave me an ERR message.  A quick check of the owner’s manual on my phone told me that such a message means it must be sent in for repair.  What!  I have to ship it away!Nikon D80

That is exactly what I did, I took it in to the Camera store to be sent in for a warranty repair.  The shutter had locked up.  Now every photographer has a backup camera, and I have mine…the D80 I was shooting with prior to the D750.  Ron (husband) was leaving for a trip and made sure my batteries for the D80 were charged, and he took one charger with him as he carries a D90 for backup.  We weren’t worried about not knowing where the other charger was, as I had my D750 to shoot with anyway.  Then it locks up.  Now I’m not doing as much shooting because I am trying to preserve battery power.

PhotographyWhat I can’t figure out is where the charger went.  I swear I will never let that man put away anything important again.  One year he handled hiding a Christmas present for our son, we didn’t find it until almost a year later!  Now he knows he put the charger in a box, doesn’t remember what box, doesn’t remember where the box went.

So, that is my past two weeks.  The frustrations of a photographer who has temporarily lost their favorite camera and is trying to preserve battery power on their back-up as they have no charger.  It has to get better from here…

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Photo Seminar and Seven Ponds Nature Center

A couple weeks ago my husband, Ron, and I attended the Seven Ponds Nature Center Photo Expo.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and we had the opportunity to take classes and enjoy taking photographs at the nature center.  We split up, taking separate classes to fit our own personal interests and so we could share information from as many sources as possible.

Class subjects we participated in included Travel Photography, Subject Elements and Composition in Nature, Night/Low Light Photography, and Shades of Gray (visualizing your photograph in black and white when shooting).  Extended and overlapping break times allowed us to meet up and eat lunch together in the car before once again splitting up.  We even walked areas of the nature center separately, which is sometimes beneficial so that our photographs are not all alike or of the exact same subjects.

There were several drawings for door prizes and Ron was the lucky winner of a $50 gift certificate to Camera Mart in Pontiac — a place that we frequent.  While at the seminar we purchased a new mono-pod for Ron and a new tri-pod that converts to a mono-pod for me.  I had been having trouble with my tripod and the Benro dealer informed me it could be sent in and re-worked/repaired at no charge by using his name from the seminar.  Needless to say I was very pleased to hear that, and Camera Mart handled getting that sent in for me.

Nature photography is something we both enjoy.  Everyone taking a walk in a wooded area or nature center should always have some form of camera available to capture the things that make those walks beautiful to you.  Take the time to look and enjoy the small things.  There are times I have taken walks with others who are not photographers, and they traverse the area much faster than I, because I am spotting and photographing many subjects that they never see.   I’m including some pictures taken the day of the seminar at Seven Ponds Nature Center.

~~ ALL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN BY GRACE GROGAN ~~
~~COPYRIGHT 2015 GRACE GROGAN.~~

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Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

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Husband, Marsh, and Porta-Potty Challenges

Before heading onto the  boardwalk of Magee Marsh Ron and I made a pit-stop at the gift shop area.  Because hours are spent walking the boardwalk, taking pictures and observing birds I made a trip to the porta-potty while Ron headed to the gift shop.  The difference, this year I was prepared for the porta-potty challenge, at least I thought I was.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

Last year I pulled out a sheet of toilet paper and notice a “shadow” on it, and turning it over discovered a huge black bug on the backside that scared the crap out of me (well, not literally), causing me to throw the toilet paper on the floor.  This year I pulled out a strip of paper and checked it over very carefully.  I was happy to find it bug-free.  I then watched a small spider come down from the ceiling and land on my purse, which I had carefully hung on the sanitizer dispenser.  Of course the dropping of the spider led me to look up, where I spotted a large spider on the ceiling.  Does the Magee Marsh porta-potty dislike me?  Can’t I use it without a bug problem coming up?  Apparently not.  The sacrifices of a photographer who needs to utilize the facilities before heading out to capture some bird shots.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

I exit the porta-potty and enter to gift-shop where my husband, Ron, had gone.  He is standing in the check-out line when he sees me come in the door and immediately says “would you like a T-Shirt?”

He is purchasing a large poster and a T-shirt.  Where does he plan to put the poster?  We have no available wall space left.  His answer “I’ll take something down.”

Great!  I wonder what item gets demoted for the promotion of poster showing the various types of Warblers.  Time will tell, because he’ll have to get it framed first.  Now the T-shirt, whenever I see a new one of those come into the house or in his hands to purchase I just laugh.  Why?  Because the man could probably wear a different T-shirt for the next 90-120 days before having to do laundry.  Granted a few of them may be showing their wear, have paint on them or a few holes, but for the most part they are good, nothing wrong with them T-shirts from various places and festivities.  However, we would not want him to feel deprived of a Bird Week shirt from Magee Marsh, so the purchase was made.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Magee Marsh is located in Ohio and is a great place for photographers and bird watchers. It is where Warblers gather each spring before flying over Lake Erie on their migration north in the spring.  Unfortunately we were a bit early and there weren’t many birds at the location yet.  It was a nice, warm day on the boardwalk, and if you look around you can usually find things to photograph, such as moss growing on a log, or a turtle sunning himself in the sun.

There are two kinds of people you find at the Marsh this time of year.  The photographers, like Ron and I, with our camera’s and large lenses to capture photographs or the true bird watchers who are carrying bird books, check lists, and binoculars.  Both are friendly groups, so a nice mixture to share space with.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

About half way around the marsh my bad ankle started causing me problems, with pain shooting from the ankle up to the knee.  We were almost at the end when my wonderful husband did his best to take my mind off the sore, swollen and throbbing ankle.  As I was standing with my back to him, sore foot off the ground and one hand holding the boardwalk rail for balance, Ron swung his camera around to take a photograph of a bird up in a tree.  Sounds simple and uneventful, doesn’t it?  Only one glitch, in the process he clobbers me in the back of the head with his 150-500mm lens,  I hear an “oops” and he is off and shooting.  Luckily the head only hurt for a few minutes after I hobbled my way to the end of the boardwalk and sat down on a bench to wait for him to finish.

We get in the car, and as we start to roll down the long exit road from the Marsh I look at him and say “For future reference, hitting me in the back of the head with your camera lens did not draw my attention away from my sore ankle.”

Ron has it duly noted, but makes no guarantees it won’t happen again.  Such is life with a photographer, the shot must come first, but as I am also a photographer I understand the process.

Photographs by Grace Grogan are available for sale on Fine Art America.

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Filed under birds, bugs, nature, Photography

Pinback Paradise

When someone suggested I start a blog I found it a bit of a daunting challenge.  That was mainly due to my misconception of what a blog required.  When I realized that I don’t have to post on a daily basis and that I don’t have to stick with just one narrow topic I knew I was up to the challenge.  Now all I had to do was pick a title for the blog.  I wanted my title to fit my life, and because my Life Is Like A Camera I needed something to fit that description and so Life is a Melting Pot was born.

Life is Like a Camera.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is Like a Camera. Photo by Grace Grogan

I can’t believe it has been 10 months and 50 posts since it all began.  I have written about fun topics, emotional issues, vacations, and life in general.  Hopefully you have all gotten to know me a little better over the past few months.

When it comes to my life, It All Began in the Cherry Capitol of the World, but Yesterday’s Bar Pick-up tells the story of how I met my husband.  We have enjoyed many activities over the years, vacations, having kids, boating, jet skis, mopeds, and motorcycles, accidents and cancer.   It’s been 33 years, well sort of 34 takes a look back at our marriage and Life Altering Impact after a car ran a stop sign and broadsided me when I was on my motorcycle.

As I was completing high school I did not follow my true career interest, Why Didn’t I do It?  Instead I became a secretary, which caused me to reflect on the Evolution of a Clerical Worker.  Now I wonder Who Am I? as I take on the roles of paralegal, writer and photographer.  Of course everyone has many aspects to their personality, and that is why I love Songs About Me and found a Blog Bonus – A Perfect Quote that I shared with everyone, even though I soon found myself Caught in a Tornado

Patrick and his girls - Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

Patrick and his girls – Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

With The Power of Emotion I dealth with the loss of one of our granddaughters, Kae-Lee Joy Grogan, who we were trying to adopt but instead was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption.  I dug a little deeper into that story when I talked about Attempted Adoption:  An Emotional Whirlwind.    That story has yet to end.

In the meantime life moves on, and let’s face it You are a Guaranteed Winner when you experience the Backyard Exploration of a 3-Year Old and enjoy a Thanksgiving that includes Tossed Turkey and Dog Food.    Let’s Get Prepped for education because although we all have a Haunted Past we can enjoy a bit of nostalgia because Everyone Loves a Letter.  Modern technology makes us realize the benefits of  Letter v. Email and how with all our modern conveniences we should not be Running Out of Time. 

Who's out there?  Photo by Grace Grogan

Who’s out there? Photo by Grace Grogan

We should all Preserve the Memories of our lives because Looking Out My Front Door at snow on leaves that have not changed color makes you realize the the Wild Weather Past and Present is not something new, but something you may want to remember.  After all, Putting a Spin on Things can help you take an artistic, creative look at what might at first glance appear to be Delightfully Drab.   That is why I enjoy participating in the World Wide Photo Walk and a passion of mine is strolling through old burial grounds doing Cemetery Shooting.    It is important to enjoy the beauty around us everywhere, keep it beautiful so we never again have The Crying Indian. 

Reflections in Nature - Photo by Grace Grogan

Reflections in Nature – Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is never dull in My Crazy Week where I have been known to wonder Where Have All the Spiders Gone then dissapointed to find out They’re Back after which I felt the need to enjoy the amusement of a 3-year old and 8-year old saying goodbye to them in Blog Bonus-SpidersHowever those creatures are not the only ones to enhance our property, after all, we have Master Bath Guests.

I’m not what I would call a political person, but wondered if my thoughts about undocumented children being brought into this country were Cold Hearted and Cruel or Realistic.  I know that first impressions of people are not always accurate and discussed Impressions v. Reality while not hesitating to Toot My Own Horn about a column I had published on problems with the foster care system.

As I traveled this summer I found that my decision to finally invest in a smart phone challenging but in the end realized that I’m Hooked when it allowed me to take movies and post pictures instantly during our vacation.  I love a Blue Water Summer  but have to admit that Vacation Planning is something I enjoy doing and can lead to a wide range of adventures and learniing how things can be the Same but Different, including a weekend on an Uninhabited and Unconnected Island or a spring day on the Magee Marsh Bird Trail. 

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me.  Photograph by Grace Grogan

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me. Photograph by Grace Grogan

As the year wound down we enjoyed New Life with the birth of our newest granddaughter, Alexandria Louise, enjoyed a Merry Christmas and ended the year by Kicking 2014 Goodbye as we started the new year with Slippery Surgical Stress and are now looking forward to Good Things in 2015.

With that we end this Pingback Paradise reflection of my first 50 posts to this blog.  I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse back, maybe linked into some of my old posts and enjoyed a read you may have missed during the past 10 months.

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Filed under career, decisions, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Photography, travel

Kicking 2014 Goodbye

While I can’t say its been a horrible year, because there have been some good things, I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb.

Grogan Gravesite.  Copyright 2014 Grace Grogan

Grogan Gravesite. Copyright 2014 Grace Grogan

My father-in-law passed away at the age of 94 on February 11, 2014 and my father passed away at the age of 75 on December 3, 2014.  While my father-in-law at the age of 94 should not come as a surprise, my father at only 75 was a shock.  My sister and I had not yet completed going through my mother’s things (she passed in May 2013) and now have an entire house to contend with.

Although it has not been finalized, we found out that rather than letting us adopt our biological granddaughter she is going to be given to total strangers for adoption. Her younger sister, who we also wanted to adopt, was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption in 2013.    The frustration dealing with DHS and realizing that this is an ongoing problem across the country is what inspired me to write a book about our situation.

Kiley Grogan's photo posted on MARE.org

Kiley Grogan’s photo posted on MARE.org

My ankle, which was severely injured in an accident 4-1/2 years ago, has continued to deteriorate. I was told in September 2013 that I have degenerative arthritis from the accident and will eventually need an ankle fusion. The condition has gotten considerably worse in the past year and I fear the operation will bee needed sooner rather than farther in the distance.

My husband, Ron, began having difficulty swallowing in June/July and by September was a true problem. It was discovered he had a tumor almost completely blocking his esophagus and the tumor was cancerous. He has undergone radiation and chemotherap and has lost about 60 lbs due to his inability to swallow more than thin liquids/broth.  He will have surgery on the 6th of January to remove his esophagus and his stomach will be lifted/stretched up to take its place.

Walking from the boat dock to the lodge.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Walking from the boat dock to the lodge. Photo by Grace Grogan

In the midst of all this chaos we also had some good things. My sister, two of our cousins and I got together for a girls weekend, which we did on an uninhabited island and had a great time. We had traveled together while growing up and then had not spent much time together since becoming adults, so over 34 years.  It was during the burial of my mother in 2013 that the four of us decided to revive our vacation get-togethers.  Spending time with just the four of us on an uninhabited island for two nights was fun.  We had a great time and are in the process of planning another outing this year.

A gathering for the purpose of a memorial service for my in-laws resulted in a min-reunion of my husband’s family.  That lead to plans for another family gathering/reunion in August of this year.  It was great that so many family members who reside in other states were able to make the memorial and plan to attend the reunion again this year.

My husband and I took our motor home out for 11 days, with the first stop being the memorial service for my in-laws, and the next stop being Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.    From there we took day trips to various counties across the UP with the main objective being to photograph waterfalls.  We also took in a few other sights an spent two days visiting with our son who is located on the west side of the UP.

Bond Falls.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Bond Falls. Photo by Grace Grogan

My husband and I have continued to build our photography business an have had several good sales this year.   We celebrated our good year by purchasing each of us new Nikon D750 Cameras for Christmas and are looking forward to a photography filled year.  We also have a great new photo subject, our newest granchild, Alexandria, born on December 12th.

Alexandria's first Christmas - only 12 days old on December 24th.

Alexandria’s first Christmas – only 12 days old on December 24th.

This was the year I  took a more intense dive into my writing. I started working on a book about my husband’s and my battle with DHS trying to adopt our granddaughters. I continued in my position as newsletter editor of our local genealogy club’s newspaper, write a genealogy column for a local paper, plus took on the one-year position of being an opinion columnist for another local paper. I also began this blog, keeping it to a manageable one post per week, although I have on occasion thrown in an extra. I have found all these writing projects enjoyable. The more I write, the more I want to write.

So what are the plans for 2015?  We all make resolutions every year and then falter and don’t accomplish them.  I’m not making resolutions this year.    I’m going to set goals and strategies to accomplish my New Years Goals — in my mind that has a more positive ring it than a resolution.  I have not mapped out the specifics or broken it down into manageable segments yet, but the overall goals are going to be weight reduction, organization, cleaning and scheduling to get it all accomplished.  Wish me luck, because I’m probably going to attempt the impossible, once again.

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Filed under events, habit, home, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

Cemetery Shooting

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

The quietness envelopes you. A light drizzle of rain can add to the atmosphere. The headstones are old and weathered, some no longer can be read. Some are sinking into the ground, barely visible but still maintained by loved ones of the modern day with flowers or flags beside them. Ancestors who are not forgotten but are sinking into the ground forever.  There are headstones with elaborate carvings, statues signifying the importance of the person or an affluent  family.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Grave of Chester Haight.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Grave of Chester Haight. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Look at the dates. One hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, walking on ancient burial ground. What were their lives like back then? What was the ceremony like that layed the person to rest at this location? What was the reason for their passing? Life spans were not as lengthy back then. What did they accomplish in such a short time on earth?

Crawford Settlement Burying Ground.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Crawford Settlement Burying Ground. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

The most heart wrenching are the baby plots.   Infants, toddlers, and children laid to rest at such a young age. What caused them to pass before their life had begun? Was it childhood diseases that no longer exist? An accident? Why do so many children die at such a young age?

These are the things that go through the mind as you wander old cemeteries. That is why I love shooting pictures at cemeteries. They are peaceful, calming, and are wonderfully interesting places to take photographs.

DSC_0340 - Copy

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

I like to stop at old cemeteries when by myself.  Most people think I’m a bit crazy to enjoy wandering a cemetery for an hour or more taking photographs, only to leave that one and drive to another. I have visited as many as four cemeteries in one day, each one with something different to offer.

I hope you enjoy my cemetery photographs. If you ever want to take a peaceful walk, stroll an old cemetery. Don’t go to a modern one, they lack  personality. Pick an old one with ancient, tall headstones, weathered with age, and enjoy a relaxing stroll.

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

DSC_0232 - Copy

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

 

Almost lost but not forgotten.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Almost lost but not forgotten. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

 

 

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Filed under exploration, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

Who Am I?

What defines who you are? Is it the job you hold, the hobbies you participate in? Does one define you more than others?

I work as a paralegal in a one-person law office.  I am also a photographer and a writer. Which of those things defines me? While I enjoy my full-time position, I don’t think that necessarily defines me as a person, but it definitely opens my mind to various subjects and allows me to look at things with an objective viewpoint.  When I see laws that have changed or situations that have a negative impact on people it inspires me to write and create public awareness of the situation, whether it be good or bad.Law is not legal it is logical

The two things that I feel best define who I am are my writing and photography.  Am I a writer who does photography or a photographer who writes?   This is a question that is difficult to answer.   I do not like publishing a post in which there are not at least some photographs or other images.  When I take photographs I often think of how I might be able to use them in my writing or what I may want to journal about in my scrapbooks.     When I write something my mind is wondering what photographs I have that relate to the post, because I want to include a visual image for the reader.  What I like about these two activities is that they both inspire people to think about something, what I am writing about, what I have photographed.  It may trigger a memory, inspire them to take action, encourage them to travel and visit somewhere different.  Writing and Photography are activities that draw in the reader and viewer so as to hopefully trigger some form of reaction.

One example is a favorite quote of mine which hangs on my wall here at home.  Life if like a camera-1 In fact I wrote about this in my very first post for this blog titled Life Is Like A Camera.  Inspiration for photographs does not have to come from things I write, it can also come from things I read, such as the saying at left.

At the same time, photographs inspire memories, thoughts, and desires in lots of people.  Several people can look at the same photograph and have thoughts or memories that are very different.   For instance look at the photo below. Does this make you think back to a time when something happened and you ended up in a ditch or in some other form of accident?  Do you wonder why a photo was taken of this?  After all, it is nothing spectacular, just a jeep in the ditch…or is there a hidden story to tell?

Jeep in Ditch.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2010.

Jeep in Ditch. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2010.

Did you notice, the jeep is backwards to the road and nose down, so now what are your thoughts?  This is where the photo needs the words to tell the story.

I was recovering from an accident and lacked mobility, so my husband would drive the vehicle across the lawn and up to the front porch to park near the steps so it was easier for me to get into the house.   Luckily I wasn’t with him when he left to go on an errand because the front lawn had iced up.  When he made the circle through the front lawn to go back to the driveway he lost all traction on the ice covered grass.  The jeep would not stop and would not turn.  Into the ditch he went.  The ditch is quite deep and was a wet, soupy mess and he was unable to back out.  The tires were sunk half way in a suction-like muck.  A tow truck had to be called to extract our vehicle from our own front yard ditch.    We were so glad I hadn’t been in the car because I would not have been able to leave the jeep and climb up out of the ditch.  I did take the photo.  I grabbed my camera after Ron came in to call the tow service and worked my way to the front door so I could shoot this photograph.  It was taken through the front door window  which is why it is not a properly positioned photo.  I was working around the posts on the front porch and a tree in the front yard.  Now you may ask, why are their bales of hay sitting there?    Because Ron was planning to spread the hay on the front grass to absorb moisture and help provide a little surface traction as the lawn thawed and froze.  So much for great plans!

So who am I?  Am I a photographer who writes, or am I a writer who takes photographs?   I would love to hear your thoughts.  I would also like to leave you with a few photos to inspire your memories and your thoughts — I hope you will share them with me.

 

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2009

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2009

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2009

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2009

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2009

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2009

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Filed under Activities, employment, hobbies, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, reality, work, Writing

World Wide Photo Walk

Photographers capture photos on the World Wide Photo Walk at Paint Creek, Rochester, Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photographers capture photos on the World Wide Photo Walk at Paint Creek, Rochester, Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Scott Kelby’s World Wide Photo Walk is an annual event during which photographers all around the world go out in groups on the same day and take photographs. This past Saturday Ron and I participated in the 7th Annual Walk.  It is always fun to see what other photographers capture when they are at the same place as you shooting.  The event is held in numerous cities with local walk leaders.  Each walker may submit one photo from the event to their local group.  The winner of the group photo submissions wins a prize, and then their photo is submitted into a world-wide main photo competition from which there are thousands of dollars in prizes available to the 10 finalists, and then of course a Grand Prize Winner.

Paint Creek, Rochester Michigan.  Photograph by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Paint Creek, Rochester Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014


The opportunity to meet other photographers while walking around taking photos of an area you may not normally explore and the ability to later view what other photographers decided to capture is interesting.  Several photographers can go into the same area and spot different subjects or photograph the same subjects but in a different way.   In any hobby or profession seeing what others do is informative and fun.

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Photographers prep to take photos along Paint Creek. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

This year Ron and I decided to participate in the event held in Rochester, Michigan.  The main portion of the walk took place in a park where we have been numerous times for special events, but I had never visited on a normal day for a casual walk.  Even in what first may appear to be a limited subject matter if you open your eyes and look around you can spot many interesting photo subjects.    Unfortunately the fall colors have not yet come into full play, but there was still a bit of color here and there to enhance the effect.

Water flow over rocks, Paint Creek, Rochester, Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Water flow over rocks, Paint Creek, Rochester, Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

The park had three different bridges over the creek that provided interesting subjects.  There are various points in the creek where rocks create interesting formations of water, mini waterfalls and rapid effects.  Flower gardens, trees, benches, and a fountain are also items of interest.  I’ve included a few of the photos I took on the walk here.  If you would like to view more I have posted 57 pictures I took during the photo walk on our Facebook page, Times Gone By Photography – Quality Photographs and Photo Tips.

Pond at Paint Creek, Rochester, Michigan.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Pond at Paint Creek, Rochester, Michigan. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Everyone is welcome to joint the annual photo walk event.  It is a great way to interact with other photographers, see new areas, and just enjoy a few hours out taking pictures.   Have you ever participated in the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk?  If so I would love to hear about your experience, what City and Country you walked in and what type of camera you use.

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Filed under Activities, events, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

Putting a Spin on Things

Flower Zoom by Grace Grogan

Flower Zoom by Grace Grogan

For a change of pace we are going to put a spin on things, literally, and focus on a new photo technique I have learned and have been working to master – the zoom and spin.

Horse rider competition tracking and zoom combination.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Horse rider competition tracking and zoom combination. Photo by Grace Grogan

This is a technique developed by Randy Heath, a fellow photographer and with his instruction I am slowly mastering the skill it takes to capture a quality photo in this manner.  It is fun and puts a new spin on subjects, giving them a unique, abstract look.

What I am finding is that bright colors work best, and it is best to take a lot of photos of the subject when shooting because you will get a lot of really trashy photos and only a few quality ones.    I have also found that some subjects lead better to this technique than others, and by adjusting the starting point of the zoom and how fast you rotate the lens you can achieve a variety of looks.

Coast Guard Boat zoom by Grace Grogan

Coast Guard Boat zoom by Grace Grogan

When you spin the lens slower you are more apt to capture a bit of your main subject in focus so that viewers can determine what it was you were shooting.  A faster zoom gives a more abstract appearance.  I have also tried some moving subjects, which puts a unique “spin” on it, because you have the combination of the spin of the lens doubled with the speed of tracking your subject.

Flower zoom.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Flower zoom. Photo by Grace Grogan

To capture this look you need is a DSLR camera and a zoom lens.  Set your camera to anywhere between f22 and f40 — play with the settings until you achieve the look you want.  Zoom in tight on your subject and push down enough to focus, then spin your lens as the same time you are completing the shot.  If you have your camera set on continuous shooting you can spin in and out several times and capture several photos at different points.  You can also vary the final outcome by changing the starting point at various levels of zoom, and zooming in and/or out while taking the shot.

Walk in the Woods zoom by Grace Grogan

Walk in the Woods zoom by Grace Grogan

One thing to remember is that this is a technique that takes a bit of practice, so don’t be surprised if the first few times you get a lot of pictures that look like major camera shake rather than an intended abstract.  Once you master the skill you will enjoy the ability to add variety to your picture taking.

Zinia flower zoom.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Zinia flower zoom. Photo by Grace Grogan

If the subject is something you want to make sure you capture a good photograph of I would suggest capturing a few good, quality photos first, then playing with this technique later as a fun addition to your photo collection.

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Filed under Activities, exploration, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

I’m Hooked

I’ve battled it for years, refused to convert, held to the old ways, but now I am hooked.  How did this happen?  I have allowed myself to be influenced by those around me and finally decided to take the plunge and although still encountering some rough water, I am keeping myself afloat most of the time.

What am i referring to?  The scary and dangerous transformation from a traditional flip phone to a smart phone.  In my case, I went with the Apple IPhone.  After I made that decision and proudly announced my conversion I had some people tell me I should have gone with an android or a windows based phone, but being it is my first, I am doing okay and seem to have made a wise choice for me.

What I have found is nothing makes you feel dumber than a smart phone.    Everything you do when setting it up requires a password, and trying to type on a tiny screen keyboard can be challenging at best.  Finally discovered the pinky finger serves that purpose best, only to discover that those darn automatic fill-ins for words can make for some weird messages if you aren’t paying attention.

A major challenge — my ringer has no sound.  I was baffled.  It worked when I got the phone and for several days after, then suddenly gone.  I checked and I had the volume on high, the ringer tone selected for all features, calls, text messages, etc.  When a message or call came in I received a vibration but no sound, nothing.  I can play a video and it has sound, so I know the speakers are working.  My daughter has a smart phone, android based, and she stopped over so I had her try to help me figure it out.  We checked menus, verified settings, made test calls, but no sound.  In walks her boyfriend, looks at the phone and flips a slide button on the side of the phone and what happens – the ringer now works!  An unbelievable neat feature that turns the ringer sounds off with the slide of a button had dumbfounded me and my daughter for more than 30 minutes.    Nothing makes you feel dumber than a smart phone!

One of the fun advantages is the built in video and camera that allows you to take a shot and immediately post what you are doing to Facebook….and who can deny the fun of a “selfie.”   Fun, Fun, Fun!    Although I always said I had no desire to be connected on a regular basis to everything and everyone, I find myself glancing at the news feeds that come in from the local TV station and newspaper, and I do occasionally glance at the update run of Facebook postings without opening the actual website.    I have found that scanning Facebook or playing a game of solitaire while watching TV is a handy form of multi-tasking, making me at least feel somewhat productive while in a stagnated couch-potato state.

I do however have unexplored territory and ongoing challenges.  I have seen those little squares you are supposed to be able to take a photo of with your phone to access additional information, I have taken pictures but get no info.  What is the trick to that?  I have never used Face Time, have no idea what Safari is, and wonder if I will someday use all the features that are on my screen.  Why is it when I want to place a call or send a text message I get a list of all my email contacts, not just my phone contacts?   While I’m looking at things I accidentally call someone when I had no intention of doing that.  I don’t have to butt dial anyone, I can do it with the phone firmly in my hand and still not know what is going on.   Little challenges that I will hopefully tackle over time.

Life is a Melting Pot of unexplored territory, new adventures and technology.  I have adventured into the smart phone world and can guarantee I have no interest in turning back now.    If I could only feel smarter than the phone, that is the challenge!

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Filed under Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, technology