Friday, March 25, 2011

Foto Friday - Houston Rodeo

You're probably wondering what a butterfly has to do with a rodeo? Well, last Sunday we went to the Houston Rodeo and as we walked around the carnival area I was wonderfully surprised to find a butterfly house!! I mean, I was giddy like a kid in a candy store. My heart fluttered with excitement as we walked in the netted enclosure and I thought maybe, just maybe I might even break out into a song. But as I turned around I found my two kids horrified at the thought of a butterfly landing on them and they were already begging me to leave. Could these really be my children?

As much as I love nature I have to say it was a bit unsettling to see some of the butterflies with such battered and torn wings. I found myself picking them up and putting them out of harms way since they couldn't get there themselves. I was very glad it was the last day and they would soon be set free. . .

Nature is inspiring and soothes my soul. Not only do I love to photograph it, but I love learning about my subjects as well. This one is a Blue Morpho Butterfly and although it looks blue it really isn't. The iridescent blue color you see here is caused by the microstructure of the scales on the wings that actually reflect blue light rather than being pigmented by melanin.

 "Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift"  - Albert Einstein

It wasn't long before they were landing right on me. I even had one riding around on my shoe the entire time I was there. This is also a Blue Morpho showing the underside of its wings which helps it hide from predators.

They just kept on coming and I kept on smiling and taking pictures. It's a bit hard to keep steady when you're shooting with one hand, especially a close-up.

And then there were some that were just too busy for mingling.

Both the above and below picture is a Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly.

I just love this one! You can see his proboscis still curled up and not tucked away yet after feeding on some nectar. Something I didn't know is that they use their feet for their sense of taste which only works on contact. They can use this to determine whether their offspring will be able to feed on a leaf before they lay eggs on it. Nature is indeed fascinating!!

And then for one of my favorite foods at the rodeo, a TEXAS sized smoked turkey leg! Mmmmm

Followed by my second favorite, Funnel Cake!

This is always a fun ride to photograph.

For this shot I really had to bump the ISO which causes graininess in the photo. I was working in very little light where I was sitting. This was the best shot I could get for the rodeo.

The following pictures aren't the greatest, but I was happy to get them considering how far away we were. This next shot gives you an idea of how far we really were from the stage and the rodeo.

We saw Miranda Lambert right after the Rodeo. It takes them about 30 minutes after the rodeo to bring in the stage and get it all set up. It was a fantastic concert! The stage rotates so everyone gets a chance to see them.

And when the stage is faced the other way, you can still view everything from the huge overhead screens.

I'm already excited to find out who will be coming next year! And I'm already missing my giant turkey legs.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!!

Love, Kim

Friday, March 18, 2011

Foto Friday - Spring Break

Spring break . . . and a little piece of our paradise! We live only 25 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and a day at the beach can feel like a vacation! It's fun, refreshing and a really good place for finding the center of your soul. 

"Paradise is seldom recognized as such until it is considered from the outside."
-Hermann Hesse 

Now, everyday at the beach is an adventure sometimes bringing with it the unexpected along with a little risk.

These blue-ish blobs are called Portuguese Man-o'-war and are completely fascinating from a safe distance that is. These are not a true jelly-fish but a siphonophore, and  instead of being a single organism are made up of a colony of many small individuals called zooids who on their own would not be able to survive.  Now that's what I call teamwork! And because they have no means of self-propulsion their (rare argon) gas filled bladders depend entirely on the winds, tides and currents to get around. Unfortunately for them and for us a whole heap of them were brought in by strong winds. I contacted the State Park and they said that this is not at all a usual occurrence to have this many at one time. I was amazed at the people who were still in the water despite seeing these everywhere. Did I mention that these have tentacles that average 30 ft and sting, injecting a neurotoxin? You do have to be careful though when walking the beach because the tentacles can still sting if stepped on for several weeks after they die. But fear not, this is not a normal find on the beach here, and we did not let it stop us from having a great time anyway.

Overcome, adapt, and improvise!!
(the Stevens' motto)

We did find an abandoned treasure . . .

And then it was time for the birds. I saved my cheddar sun chips since they liked those so much last time. Did I mention they don't like cucumbers? haha  Not sure how I managed to get this shot before the chip even hit the ground?

I tried to get them to take it out of my hands but they wanted nothing to do with it this time. They wouldn't even entertain the idea . . .  so I just threw them hoping I could be as fast with my shots as they were at grabbing them. It was fairly late in the day and I just love the lighting and shadows in the next several pictures.

Here we were on our way home and the light was beautiful and there was a haze over the sun and of course I was in the car! So I had my daughter hand me the camera and I had to get some shots off pretty quick as the light was now green and traffic was moving. Where's that red light when you need one?

In this one I just didn't have much time to get a correct exposure, but I really like it!

So this week is coming to a close and spring break is almost over, but paradise is always around the corner.

And remember, paradise is only lost to those who look but do not see.

Have a great weekend in your paradise!

Love, Kim

P.S. What or where is your piece of paradise?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

She has paint on her walls...

She is an artist, a painter, with paint on her walls.
She paints the most beautiful things
and ever since I've seen one of her paintings in person
I have wanted one. I'm just not sure what it is I would have her paint for me.

I met her at our church home before we moved 
from the Dallas area.
And just recently through another blogger friend
discovered that she had a blog.

I always look forward to what she has to share,
and want to share that with you.
A dedicated and faithful servant
who glorifies God
and blesses all those who view her art.

 Here are just a few of my favorites:

Fire Tree
Acrylic collage on canvas
By Cheryl White
12" x 12"

In this one she actually used dried up acrylic paint that she found when she cleaned up her studio.
Some of it she scraped off of her easel! (love it)

Three Trees at Night
Acrylic collage on canvas
by Cheryl White
9" x 12"

This one was inspired by the architecture of Anotnio Guadi in Barcelona Spain.
I love the boldness of the painting and the colors.

For His Glory
by Cheryl White
Acrylic on canvas 17" x 22"
First Place, Denton State Fair 2006
Division C, Acrylic Media

And this one, a painted rendition of Matthew 14:13-21
where Jesus feeds 5,000 people from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
The twelve disciples are all holding up baskets of food left over!
For me it's a reminder of how God has always provided in my family's time of need.

Loaves and Fishes on Green
by Cheryl White
Acrylic on canvas 48" x 36"

So stop by and visit Cheryl at her blog here.

Have a great day!
Love, Kim

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Foto Friday - The Bishop's Palace

Yesterday was far too beautiful of a day to be stuck inside, so I decided to explore some history in Galveston. And don't ya know, deep in the heart of Texas there is a real castle just like the one's fairy tales are made of.

This one is called the Bishop's Palace, an ornate Victorian building finished in 1892, designed by the famous architect Nicholas Clayton and built for Walter Gresham a former Colonel and U.S Congressman.

Formerly knows as the Gresham House, it's one of the greatest landmarks on the Island and ranked among the top 100 homes in the U.S for it's Victorian architectural excellence. This is a must see if ever in Galveston!

It became known as the Bishop's Palace after it was purchased in 1923 by the Catholic Diocese of Galveston to be the official residence of the bishop. But only one bishop ever lived in the house and after he died the church opened it up to the public. It's now being operated as a museum by the Galveston Historical Foundation.

I decided to take a tour of the inside on another day and just a little disappointed that photographs are not allowed (okay, a lot!). But I will have to go back as I've read that the interior is just as grand in it's details including the use of rare woods, a forty foot octagonal mahogany stairwell with stained glass windows on five sides, and fireplace mantels from around the world with one even lined in SILVER!

Although it's a Victorian home, it also lends itself to the chateau style of the french renaissance as seen by it's towers, long sculptured chimneys, elaborate roof lines, and ornamentation. It stands 3 stories tall over a raised basement and it's truly magnificent. You can even rent it for seven hours for only $1800!

Nicholas Clayton put his own embellishments on this style through his use of multi-colored stone, detailed carvings and ornamental iron as seen in the picture below. It was built of Texas limestone, gray granite, pink granite and red sandstone combined with steel framing that allowed it to withstand the great storm of 1900. Go here to see a picture of the Bishop's Palace from that September 8, 1900 storm.

                        Sometimes the shadows are just as beautiful as the ornamentation itself . . .

More examples of the detailed carvings found on the building. This is above the front door.

This is one of two columns that flanks the front door.

This is a tile mosaic found at the front door.

Under the front steps that take you to the first floor and entrance are doors that lead to the raised basement.  You enter this breezeway to the right and in the middle is a set of glass doors leading to a room met by a breezeway from the other side.

Walter Gresham's wife did all the mural painting you see on the walls and ceiling which is still in it's original form. In one photo that they had hanging on the wall it showed two alligators that she had painted above an archway.

 You can also see some of the steel frame on the ceiling. It's said that they did a lot of entertaining in the basement which would have been unusual for the Victorian time and maybe because it leads straight out to the backyard? I can only imagine what it would have been like dressed in all of those clothes without any air conditioning . . . and no central heat in the winter either.

It's also said that the ghost of Walter Gresham can sometimes be seen inspecting the exterior of the home when a storm from the gulf becomes a threat, hmmm?

When I came out of the raised basement level I saw several of these Red Admiral butterflies busy looking for nectar in the (insignificant) flowers found on a dwarf burford holly bush. This one appears to have landed on a nearby hosta leaf to sun himself, or maybe he was posing for a picture!

I had fully intended to go by more historical sites, but  . . . the ocean was calling me! So I grabbed a subway sandwich and my chair and ate on the beach. It wasn't but a few minutes and I had a visitor, waiting patiently for a nibble. One visitor became several dozen and soon they were eating out of my hands. I didn't really need that bag of chips anyway! ; )

I was even serenaded . . . yep, I think they were singing Galveston, oh Galveston!!

And only in Texas will you see this . . .

It was a glorious day! A little history, the beach and a sunset. Life is good!!

So here's to a fabulous weekend everyone! Carpe Diem . . .

Love, Kim

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today, I wish you.....

Today, I wish you the kind of day that dreams are made of!

Spring is around the corner for some, and for others it's knocking at the door
For these are the days of dreaming about what to put in the garden,

of all things renewed,

and there's a feeling of love in the air.

Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine. ~Jeffrey Glassberg

So, if only for today, follow a butterfly . . . find your dreams!

Have an enchanted day!

Love, Kim

Friday, March 4, 2011

Foto Friday...Adorn Me!

So this week I have been at an art retreat called Adorn Me! in Houston. I took two night classes with Jen Cushman using resin and a day class with Diane Cook making an etched and layered brass cuff.

This first picture is of the cuff bracelet. We were all given a brass cuff that we prepared for etching and then as a resist we used black ink and rubber stamps. There is definitely a bit of trickiness to getting a clean stamp on a curved bracelet! After the cuffs went through the etching process and they were cleaned and patinaed it was time for some embellishments. So using a metal hole punch and some nuts and bolts we attached stuff to our bracelets. I still have some embellishing to do on mine as it still needs just a bit of bling. Diane is such a sweet person, and fabulous instructor and I enjoyed very much the opportunity to take this class from her. 

The other two night classes were with Jen Cushman using resin applications. The first night we made some paper collages and coated them with ICE resin®. It gives some of the papers a beautiful translucence and they become waterproof. The paper can still be torn or cut and they are still very pliable. I took some of my own photographs to collage with and became very excited at the possibilities! Jen just radiates enthusiasm in helping others with the creative process. Here are some of the pages....

And this one shows the ring and the page I used for it. We made a ring band out of nickel silver and I gave mine a texture using a rivet hammer. I still need to tweak this too! What you can't see is the long bolt still sticking out. In order to get a really good connection I need to take everything off and flatten the top some more so the nut will fit securely.

But I do have a few more pictures other than those from my classes. I needed to get out yesterday for some fresh air after being inside in classes. And going to the nursery seems to help me regain my center. Not only are they loaded with new shipments of flowers that are beautiful, but it's also intoxicating for one's nose.

                       I was able to capture this Monarch that landed right in front of me.

This is one of the things that I love about Maas Nursery. It's not a chain, and they live on site so everywhere you turn there are wonderful surprises. They had so much damage from hurricane Ike since they are less than a half a mile from Galveston Bay if that. Instead of taking out the trees that fell they have left them where they landed and work around it. Love it! I guess I need to take some pictures of those next time.

         This is probably one of the most beautiful colors of hibiscus I have ever seen. It literally glowed!

                                And it wouldn't be a trip to Maas without a picture of the gate!!

 I'm packing up my supplies to head out to Adorn Me! once again. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of creativity!

Love, Kim

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