Sunday, April 29, 2012

Soul train...

(A Weekly Top Shot Entry)

Well, I originally set out to photograph and post something about the Acela Express which passes my office building but it went totally wrong...a bad angle, poor lighting, and the wrong lens nixed that idea.  So, here we have some 'water cooler' chat with some photos taken of flowers I received for Administrative Assistants' Day.  The train idea and chat resulted in the post's title.  I know, I'm groping but please, work with me here...
* * * * * 

Do you put your soul into your photos?  Can you? Have you been able to achieve this? This was one of the discussions this Friday afternoon around the water cooler….well, actually around the sink and coffee machine.

What does it actually mean when you put your soul into your photographs? What do you get?  I think it means you're creating a photograph that expresses the 'inner' you, your own interpretation, or your own unique take on that particular shot but, at the same time, I suspect it’s something bigger. And I think it takes time and guts.

How many photos have you seen of the Brooklyn Bridge? Tons, right? But there is that one that actually speaks to you. Maybe it’s conveying strength or size or a certain mood but the photographer has been able to put their soul into the photo of that bridge and express it to you, the viewer. Some way, somehow the photographer has gotten across to you what he has seen and felt at that moment in time when he tripped the shutter.

I’ve seen many photos that have spoken to me. Some have been very meaningful and then there are those that are just saying the guy who took this photo is crazy.  Wait a minute, didn't they say that about Van Gogh?  But then, someone will come along and hear or see what that photographer wanted to say or convey. They will see his soul in the photo.

OK, so I’m not at the point where I’ve been able to put my soul out there. Honestly, I’m not actually sure where to look for my soul. And how do you go about finding it? I suspect it takes a lot of time and introspection (Whoa, that’s a word I haven’t used in forever).  Maybe one needs to meditate or just spend some solitary, quiet time with the craft? Maybe you need to become one with your equipment? Hmmmm, that’s deep.

So, think about it.  Is your soul in your photographs?  Have they spoken to someone?  Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever arrive at that point but the journey is sure lots of fun.

PS...The pollen count was very high in my house this weekend.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wanted: Inspiration...

I have no idea what is wrong with inspiration, no motivation, no energy, no desire to photograph or post.  I’m at a loss.  Is this bloggers' block or are there too many other things on my plate.  And speaking of plates, the one thing I have a desire for is food. Maybe the Easter feast has something to do with this. You know how it goes, you get on the eating treadmill and just can’t seem to jump off and, before you know it, there is an extra 10 lbs. staring you in the face.  This is probably why I’m avoiding mirrors lately.

Luckily, Easter flowers, on their way out, provided some motivation to pull out the macro lens and Canon 500D closeup diopter.

Smile!  And have a wonderful week!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter egghaustion...

(A Weekly Top Shot entry)

I don't believe I've ever cooked so much for a holiday as this Easter but it was worth it!  And, after all the 'talk' about making homemade bread and cheese, I thought I better get crackin' and post some photos of the results.

So, here they are...just two photos but I was thrilled with the results.  The babka was a snap to make thanks to a recipe from the Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day book.  The cheese, however, was not something for anyone who wants a simple process and quick results.

Unlike older family recipes, this babka required absolutely no kneading.  You can make the dough and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days prior to baking.  I would not go longer than 4 days but the dough has to be cold when you're ready to start baking.  I also cut the recipe in half...a full recipe calls for 16 (yes, 16!) egg yolks.

The cheese recipe produced enough cheese for a flower pot mold and then some.  This is a mini cheese I made with the excess and decorated with a Russian cross from my mom.  She was thrilled to get it.  And this cheese, spread on babka, is out of this world.

Butter decorated with a Russian cross ready for the Paschal Easter food basket.  No, this is not homemade (LOL).  Easter food baskets get blessed on Saturday afternoon before the mid-night church service.  One of the hardest things to do is NOT eat any of this great food until after the service.

Hope you all had a great holiday and weekend, whether you celebrated or not.  Spring is here and it's time for new beginnings.  For me, I'm so tired, I'd like to hibernate for about a week or maybe sit around and enjoy the leftovers!

Friday, April 13, 2012


of this Holy Week as I and fellow Orthodox Christians prepare for Easter...
Pussy Willows from Palm Sunday, April 8, 2012
The Holy Gospel - Holy Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fr. David Garretson, Ss. Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church
South River, NJ

Parishioners hold candles throughout the Holy Thursday service.  It's an old custom to try and get home with your candle still lighted.  If you succeed, you will have good luck throughout the year.

I made it!
A collection of pysanky eggs passed down through the family.
And now it's time to bake the babka, color the eggs, bake the ham, and make the potato salad.
Have a beautiful weekend!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


with help from Paul Newman...

Somewhere early on this Lent I decided this Easter was going to be a little different.  I think my decision had something to do with a conversation I had with my mom while looking over some old holiday recipes.  She remarked how she could no longer make all those special foods like she used to and I could hear the sadness in her voice.  I think it was at that point I decided to try my hand at some homemade traditions....homemade Babka and homemade Paskha.

Mom's recipe from years ago.
Note her handwritten change to this recipe.
Click HERE for recipe.
Well, here I am making homemade cheese or Paskha.  The photos aren't spectacular or special but I had to document this event.  After all, this is a 'first' for me and, if this comes out great and no one believes I actually did it, I've got it all on 'film.'

Sugar, butter, eggs, farmer's cheese, whipping cream and vanilla.
If this comes out like Mom's, I'll be thrilled!

It was messy, it was time-consuming, but it was fun.  Hopefully, the end result will be worth it.  I think it will be.  I'll know in a week when Orthodox Easter arrives.

A cheesecloth-lined flower pot as a mold sits in a container to catch run-off and
weighted down with the heaviest item in my pantry.
Thanks Paul Newman!
Chag Semeach to all my friends who are celebrating Passover and Happy Easter to all who are celebrating Easter this Sunday.  And to all Orthodox Christians, may you have a Passion Week full of peace, prayer, and reflection as we approach Easter on April 15.

Monday, April 2, 2012


(A Weekly Top Shot entry)
I have a fever…spring fever.  I’ve been dragging my butt around all day and not just today. This has been going on, in varying degrees, since the powers that be changed the time.  The weekend was a prime example…it took me two hours to do the ironing.  Ugh!

This year's dogwood getting ready for the 'show.'
And I’ve been hungry all day. Hate that feeling at work…there you sit, watching the clock until you can make a mad dash for lunch, only to inhale it and not really enjoy it.  Hmmmm, this is something I have to work on…you know, NOT inhaling my food but actually savoring and enjoying it.
Grown from a sapling harvested from a neighbor's yard, this dogwood
has been in the front yard for over 15 years
Maybe, when the dogwood is in full bloom, this fever will pass.

Front yard dogwood in full bloom...2011.
Or could this be lottery withdrawal?!?