Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Good Marriage

July 19, 1986 finds me exactly one month into my eighteenth year of life, I am standing on a green carpeted stage in my $150, off-the-rack, chin to toe, polyester and tulle wedding dress. Carefully pinned to my head is a swooping, wide-brimmed polyester and tulle Southern belle style hat. Next to me stands a fresh-faced boy of nineteen dressed in light gray tails. Sweat beads up on both of our foreheads and trickles down the sides of our faces, tunneling under high collars and continuing its downward descent. The nasty beads of moisture don't come from nervousness, but rather from the stifling humidity inside the small country church.

We certainly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into on that ninety degree day thirty years ago. We were anxious to get the ceremony and the reception over with so we could get to our hotel in Grand Rapids for the start of our weekend honeymoon trip. Our first destination when we got to the hotel wasn't what you would think, it was the pool, so we could finally rinse the sweat from our bodies.

When a friend a recently asked what our secret was when I told her we were going to be celebrating our 30th Anniversary, I told her in all honesty - It's a lot of hard work. The mushy hand holding of the honeymoon year quickly wears off, and that is when you have to dig deep to constantly find things you can share in together.

Raising a child together doesn't make things magical, that is when the really hard work begins. You each want the best for your child, but often that "best" is not arrived at in the same manner. My advice to any married couple with young kids - no matter what, find a way to have a date night once a month, and don't talk about the kids while you are on the date. Your marriage will be blessed because of that stolen time together. That is one thing I wish we had done better.

Last week we celebrated our 30th Anniversary. Instead of going to our comfort place of beautiful, rural northern Michigan, we chose to step out of our comfort zone and spend five days in the very alive city of Toronto. We spent our first real vacation twenty-seven years ago there. The only things we remember about that trip were that our car broke down on the way there, we went to Niagara Falls first, when in Toronto we stayed somewhere downtown near the Maple Leaf Garden, we had no credit card, and according to Glen, we walked three hours each way to Casa Loma.

This trip was a bit better. We didn't go to Niagara Falls first, our car did make a strange noise but didn't break down, we stayed downtown just off of Yonge Street in a beautiful hotel, we do have credit cards, and the walk to Casa Loma only took 1 hour and 5 minutes according to Google Maps.

It was good to go to a new place, working together to figure out what we wanted to do, and how to get there without killing each other in the process. Glen was an extremely good sport as I dragged him down side streets to photograph doors on old buildings, and into Catholic churches to photograph stained glass windows and church pews, and even stalking colorfully dressed ladies sitting on park benches. In return, I tried a mussel, drank a whiskey he selected for me, tried new beers, and returned to diner style restaurants every morning for breakfast.

I think I taught him a bit of what the world looks like through my eyes, and he taught me a bit of what the world looks like through his eyes. After thirty years it is still a good marriage.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Conquering Fear

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do"
 ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Last Saturday I did the thing that I was certain I could not do - a family portrait session.

My friend Jill has been asking me for a few years to do some photos of her family. One of her sons lives in North Carolina so the window of opportunity is not open often. I always declined, stating that I don't shoot people. I like landscapes - things that don't move and aren't concerned with how they look in a photograph. But Jill never gave up, having more faith in me than I had in myself. This year when she asked, I finally said yes, which probably surprised her as much as it surprised me. I knew it was time to conquer one of the last big things that scared me in photography.

I told her though, if we were going to do this, I was going treat this like a professional portrait session. I had Jill over to my house a couple weeks before the session so we could view poses from the board I had been pinning to on Pinterest. Once we picked poses, I did a screen shot of them and put them in a folder that I then emailed to her so she could continue to review and share with her family. I have no idea if this is how a professional portrait session begins, but I know this is what I would want if I was the client.

The day of the session dawned overcast, cooler, and windy. Two out of three isn't bad. The wind was the problem since we were taking these photos at the beach. I kept praying for the overcast sky to stay, we weren't taking these until later in the day, and if the sun came out I would be shooting into the sun. Of course, shortly after lunch here comes the sun, and it was still windy. Because of the wind and the high water level of Lake Michigan there is very little beach to stand on. In the shot above, they formed their line and then backed into the water. I am perched on the side of a ten foot dune drop off to get the shot. You learn the most when you have challenges, and I definitely learned. I still have a lot more to learn before I begin to feel comfortable in this arena.

We all had a great time, and I am hopeful that as many memories were created in the process of doing, as were created in the actual photographs. I know that they will remember me standing in knee-deep water with waves reaching upper thigh to get this shot of all of them sitting on a wooden deck that had been buried under the sand until this year. Next year the deck could be gone again, and the little ones will be even bigger. Time keeps moving forward so it is good to capture the memories and the moments now. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I have been feeling a bit unsettled in my photography lately. Not unsettled in the way that I want to stop doing it, but unsettled in the fact that I want to do more, I want to do different things, I want to learn and get better.

I am also finding myself turning more inward - growing tired of social media, and in particular Instagram. The constant sharing and "liking", double tapping without taking the time to really see a photograph or read the words written has worn me out.

I am finding myself drawn to my Canon 70D, the quality and abilities of different lenses can not be matched by the iPhone. I have been reading the book Canon Lens From Snapshots to Great Shots. It has made me think about what I love to shoot, what I would love to learn to shoot, what is currently in my camera bag, what I would like to add to my camera bag and what I could purge out of my camera bag.

On that note, I recently rented the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for a project that I was doing for a dear friend. I can see now why they say the "glass" makes the difference. LOVED the lens!

My husband and I happened to be away for a couple days at the beginning of the rental period, so I was able to wander by myself for a whole day with my camera while he was at a work conference. It is a heavier lens and not something I would take on an all day hike, but great for an all day wander around a lakeside town.

It is hard to put into words all that is churning inside me right now, as you can probably tell from this post, but I know when I feel like this something is usually looming on the horizon.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Coming up with the name for my blog was the easy part; Paisley Rain Boots was memorable and embodied my wandering, discovery seeking spirit. About a month after I started the blog I took an on-line course on blogging. In this course I learned, besides having an appealing name, I also had to have a tag line, a mission statement of sorts on what my blog was going to be about. I remember many morning walks spent pondering what my mission statement would/should be. Over the four years that I have written this blog, the tag line has changed many times. This was a natural progression as I discovered who I was as an artist. A little over a year ago I finally stumbled on the one that stuck - Striving to find balance between intention and discovery.

For the last couple of months I have been doing near weekly discovery adventures. Adventures that were greatly needed to get the creative inspiration flowing again. But as my tag line says, I needed to balance that discovery with some good old intention. I needed to replace a week of wandering and big discoveries with a week of an intentional destination and consistent small discoveries. So last Tuesday I made an intentional trip to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

Every year I have the intention of visiting these meticulously maintained gardens once each season. Sadly when I looked back at my photo archives, the last time I visited the gardens was February of 2013. Seriously! They were working on building the Japanese Garden on my last visit and that opened in June 2015. I have already missed spring for 2016, but that doesn't mean I can't do summer, fall, and winter of 2016 and spring of 2017.

The Japanese Garden was my main reason to visit. I had been intending to go since it opened, finally that intention became reality.

I arrived at precisely nine o'clock, right when the doors opened. I wanted to get as many wide landscape shots as I could without people in them. Somebody's bright orange shirt in the midst of a tranquil field of green always disappoints me.

"Based on a centuries-old gardening style, the Japanese Garden emphasizes reverence for nature and contemplative experience."

The many well placed benches did give me pause to stop and sit a while. Knowing I didn't have to rush on to my next destination helped to facilitate the ability to slow down, something that I am terrible at doing.

Once satisfied with my exploration of the Japanese Garden, I moved on to my favorite garden - The Farm Garden.

Growing up in the country I identify with the farm way of life. I wish I had grown up in a house like this with a wide wrap-around porch.

The entire homestead site has bronze statues like this one scattered about.

"The farmhouse, barn, gardens and animal pens are reminders of a bygone era when the land supplied the family with groceries and income, a time when every family member helped with chores."

For whatever reason, the sight of this simple knot on the clothesline begged to be photographed and gave my heart that fluttery feeling. 

"Various vegetable gardens and flower beds are dedicated to heirloom varieties."

The day was so calm that I was able to get this fun metal sculpture reflection in the rain water collection barrel.

It was a great day to take life a little slower, wander with my dSLR, something I don't do near enough of, and to find the many surprise discoveries in a visit of intention.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Slipping Into Summer

On an ideal summer morning, I awaken at six to soft gray light leaking through the filmy white curtains on the french doors next to my side of the king size bed. Slipping out from under the cozy down comforter, I stand and stretch, assessing my body for aches and pains from the five mile hike the day before. Finding none, I grab the neatly folded pile of clothes from the ladder-back chair next to the dresser, step out into the hallway and silently close the door behind me.

I descend the stairs, avoiding all the squeaky spots I have discovered on previous early mornings. Making my way to the kitchen, I fill the electric tea pot with water from the kitchen tap, settle the pot on it's base and depress the start lever. During the five minutes it takes for the water to heat, I get dressed in the downstairs bathroom.

The hot water ready, I begin my morning tea ritual; measuring out a teaspoon of black leaf Cinnamon Roll tea from the clear glass mason jar, placing the tea into the floating tea filter nestled inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes mug I found in the cupboard, claiming it as my own for the week. Into the mug, I pour water from the tea pot and set the timer on my phone for three minutes to let the tea steep to its full potential. I gather the last of the things I need for my morning adventure: the pink and white checked blanket, my Canon dSLR, my journal and black sharpie pen. Carefully I place each of these items in the large canvas bag with the mallard green straps. The timer vibrates on my phone; the tea is done. I tap the screen to silence the vibration, slipping the phone into the bag as well.

Returning to the kitchen, I remove the tea filter and measure out a teaspoon of sweet clover honey from the plastic squeeze bear I brought from home, filled with honey from my dad's bees. I take the streaming mug into the dining room where the canvas bag awaits, reaching down I gently lift the bag, slipping the wide straps onto my left shoulder. I pause at the sliding glass door to slip my feet into my paisley rain boots, slide the door open and walk out onto the wooden deck.

I look across the dewy grass to my destination, the white dock surrounded by layers of morning fog. The dock where I will lay out the pink and white blanket, sit and drink my tea, journal my deepest thoughts, and capture the morning fog with my camera and my phone. All the while the rest of the world sleeps.

Why is it that perfect summer mornings only happen in our dreams.