Tag Archives: photos

Lessons Learned in a Bluebell Wood by Sherrie Hansen

My love of bluebells is no secret.

Bluebells

They bloom in the woods near my B&B every year in late April or early May.

Sporing - bluebells

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I’ve watched their pink and purple buds turn into intense, periwinkle blue flowers, then fade to a soft, sky blue, since I was a little girl.

Blue Belle - Jump Canva

I’ve written a book named Blue Belle. The B&B and tea house I’ve owned for 25 years is called the Blue Belle Inn.

BlueBelle 2016

Familiar as bluebells are to me, I’ve recently learned a few new lessons while walking through the bluebell wood.

bluebells - dense

It’s possible to be broken, bent, and beautiful at the same time.  One most likely leads to the other, like the beauty of a mosaic made from broken pieces.

bluebells - broken

You can focus on the beauty of a place, or the ugliness. Stuff happens. It’s your choice what you dwell on.

bluebells - dung

For every hill you struggle to climb, there’s an easy cruise down the other side, and a beautiful view from the top besides.

bluebells - hill

 

Even when you feel hollow and empty inside, you’re a thing of beauty to someone who needs shelter from the wind.

bluebells - hollow tree

Finding your own little niche to grow in is one of life’s greatest gifts.

Bluebells - log

No matter how bad you have it, someone else always has it worse.

bluebells - mud

Being front and center isn’t always the best place to be. Wallflowers are much less likely to get stepped on than flowers that grow in the middle of a pathway.

bluebells - path

You can lift your eyes upward to the tree tops, or follow the shadows down into the valley.  Your choice.

bluebells - ridge

Being uprooted is never fun, but there’s always a bright spot on the horizon.

bluebells - roots

Sunshine or shadow – it makes all the difference.

bluebells - shadows

Some people live lengthy lives in obscurity, others are chosen to be loved intensely for but a moment.

bluebells - smashed

Some are fortunate enough to find a clear, straight, well-marked path.

bluebells - straight path

Sometimes the path winds  so much that you can’t see what’s around the bend. But that’s okay. It’s good to be surprised.

bluebells - winding path

Everything you do and say is a reflection on the things you love most – the real you.

bluebells - water

 

I’m in a time of transition in my life. Are you? Wandering in the bluebell wood, I was reminded that there’s no better way to find your way than in new lessons learned from the comfort of the familiar.

 You can see what’s Sherrie’s up to at: 

https://www.facebook.com/BlueBelleInn

 https://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/

www.BlueBelleInn.com or www.BlueBelleBooks.com

https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen

https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/

http://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-Hansen/e/B007YXQJ4W/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Sherrie’s newest release is Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U

He’s a real sweetheart. She’s a wee bit tart. When Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge, the atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. Will someone get cut, or will they find a recipe that works? Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.

Sherrie’s next Wildflowers of Scotland novel, Golden Rod, is coming soon from Indigo Sea Press.

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Filed under musings, photographs, Sherrie Hansen

What a Wonderful, Wonderful, Wonderful World by Sherrie Hansen

There’s no better way to spend a wintery day than to plan a summer vacation. My home in northern Iowa got over ten inches of snow on Thursday night and Friday. The murder mystery we had scheduled for that night was cancelled due to 40 mph wind gusts and blizzard conditions. Thankfully, we didn’t lose power, because I was busy online, reserving rooms and planning our late May, early June trek through Wales, Ireland and southern England.

england-lamb

Now that Mark and I are both in our 60’s, our goal is to take an adventurous vacation every year for as long as we’re able. Everyone we know says, do it now, while you can. We’re following their advice. We don’t want to be one of those couples who works too hard and waits too long to see the world, only to lose their health, their mobility, or one or the other of them to death.

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Last year, when we were in Scotland, we walked 7 to 10 miles nearly every day of our 2 1/2 week trip in order to see things like the Fairy Glen, the cows grazing on Claigan Coral Beach on Skye, the Fairy Pools, the ancient Standing Stones on Arran, the ruins of Findlater Castle on Cullen Bay, and Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire.

SW 76

In Romania, we went up and down hundreds of flights of stairs  to see Dracula’s Bran Castle. We strained our muscles to the max  to walk down steep inclines to the sea in Cornwall to see Tintagel Castle and again, in Clovelly, Devon. It wasn’t easy because we’re not in the greatest shape, but we did it, and we’re going to keep doing it as long as we can.

Romania - Castle

This year, we’re off to Wales, Ireland and the south of England. We got a great price on our airline tickets, and have pinned down where we’re staying. Our first three nights will be spent exploring the coastal paths, beaches and sunsets of southwest Wales at Cardigan, where we’ll be staying in an restored, 18th century, attic apartment.

airbnb-cardigan-wales

We’ll move on to Northern Wales, where our home for three nights will be Glyn House, in Capel Curig, in Snowdonia in the Welsh mountains.

airbnb-capel-curig-wales

From there, we’ll catch the ferry to Ireland, a new country for both of us. We’ll see the historic area north of Dublin from Hollow Stream B&B in the village of Kingscourt, which boasts a pub with live Celtic music the first Friday of the month. Perfect timing!

airbnb-kingscourt-ireland

Our remaining time in Ireland will find us in a luxurious 1930’s home near Croom village in Limerick, a stone house in Killarney, Kerry, from which we can visit Dingle, on the far southwest coast of Ireland, and a 250 year old Georgian house in Cashel, Tipperary.

After ferrying from Dublin back to Wales, we’ll spend one indulgent night at a Georgian restaurant with rooms on the Llyn Peninsula on the far west side of Wales.

airbnb-plas-bodegroes-llyn-peninsula-nw-wales

On our first night back in England, we’ll be cozied up in a 17th century Cotswold stone farmhouse home in Evesham, close to Chipping Campden and Stratford upon Avon, and more important, my cousin Sarah and her family in Bicester. The B&B is beautiful, but it was the rare Soay sheep they keep that called out to me and said, “Boooook.”

airbnb-sheep

Our second to the last stop of the trip is just north of Devon, near the southern shore of England. If I don’t come home, this is where I’ll probably be…

airbnb-durweston-uk

Our last two nights will be in a sweet Victorian cottage in Kent, somewhat near Gatwick Airport for ease of travel. We tried to think of ease and comfort when making a lot of our reservations… queen or king beds, no steep staircases or ladders leading to loft bedrooms, quiet countryside locations with plenty of parking, pretty gardens for relaxing,  two or three nights per location, and views to the west so I can watch the sun set.

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Even more important, I tried to find places that captured my imagination. As I learned when we stumbled upon St. Conan’s Kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, an idea for a book (Wild Rose) can spring up from the most unanticipated locales. The same thing happened when I heard “Nathan” playing the pipes in front of Eilean Donan Castle and caught a glimpse of the pirate boat in the cove (Shy Violet and Sweet William).

the-wildflowers-of-scotland-novels

It was an old legend on a castle tour that primed the pump for Golden Rod, coming this summer.

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I’m not sure what about, or even if this trip will result in a new book, but it wouldn’t surprise me. My mind is already tantalized after choosing the places we’ll be staying. I can’t wait! If it’s still cold and snowy where you are, I hope you’ve enjoyed thinking about summer for a few minutes. If my quick travel preview didn’t do the trick, pick up a book and escape to a faraway place where the wildflowers are blooming and a summer breeze is blowing across the Atlantic. (Yes, that’s a hint.)

Until then, mar sin leat.

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Filed under photographs, Sherrie Hansen, Travel, writing

If A Picture Tells A Thousand Words, Who Am I? by Sheila Deeth

I’ve always worn glasses, but now, with my wonderful cataract-removed eye, I don’t need them anymore (or at least, not all the time). My mum complained at first that I didn’t look like me, but she got used to my new appearance before she returned to England. Meanwhile I grew accustomed to the glasses-free image in the mirror. Then I started to look, with clear, unclouded, cataract-free eye, at those various pictures of me around the internet and on the backs of books. It seems I can’t get used to the old me anymore. I need a new photo!

A wonderful friend, who happens also to be a wonderful writer and photographer, offered to take a publicity shot for me. I shall, of course, say yes, with much delight. But I wonder what that picture will say about me. Shall I ask her to touch it up, remove the bags beneath my eyes, smooth out those wrinkles a little? Perhaps I should suggest she darken the hair  or lighten it. (I kind of hoped I’d go white when I grayed at forty, but it was not to be, unless… well, she could…) If it’s a full-body shot, I might request she slim me down a bit – I’m working on the diet. And if my eyes, even the cataract-free one, looked tired…

Of course, the question then is, who would the photo be of, if it didn’t look like me. Because I do have wrinkled, bags and gray hair, and I haven’t quite slimmed to my ideal weight. What thousand words do I want her picture to tell?

I guess I’ll figure it out in a while. Watch this space for the “new me,” coming soon!

Sheila Deeth is the author of the mathemafiction novels, Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, Subtraction and Imaginary Numbers. Infinite Sum, the second in the series, will soon be release by Indigo Sea Press. Meanwhile, find Divide by Zero here.

 

 

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can’t figure out the point of view

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and what’s that background meant to be

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out of focus – think she’s lost the plot

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Filed under marketing, musings, photographs

Time for Bubbles-Champagne-That Is

Exactly seven months ago today, I signed the contract for my master bath remodel and I can proudly say it is finally done, as of yesterday! Yeaaaaay!! And in my humble opinion, it is gorgeous!

Before I get to the photos, I’d like to share what I have learned about remodeling, since this was my first major one. I was told by the company I hired, that my remodel was quite different than most, because I designed the project and researched and bought most of the supplies myself: sinks, toilet, shower and sink fixtures, medicine cabinet, ceiling tin, wall and ceiling light fixtures, columns, and all the tile. And I faux finished the ceiling and the Greek columns. Usually the remodeling company handles all that and the customer just pays for it all.

Regardless of how it is done, I suggest that impeccable records be kept of everything. Period. A diary is ideal if it includes how much things cost, but also when items were installed. It was more complicated for me because I had to keep track of my own costs for sinks, for instance, and also costs regarding the company I hired, mainly demo, installation and extras. Take pictures before the project starts and periodically along the way. They will be fun to see later.

I learned that remodeling costs more than you plan for. If you want anything out of the ordinary, like Champagne Bronze plumbing fixtures, you will have to pay an “up-charge,” sometimes called a “change order.” That will be in addition to the estimate you initially received from the contractor.

Also, the estimated time for completion is likely to be longer than expected. In my case, a lot longer. That actually worked in my favor, because it gave me additional time to save money to cover those unexpected extra costs.

At tally-up time, since I kept impeccable records, I even found a couple discounts my contractor forgot. That saved me money and made me happy. One of my discounts came through Angie’s List, so I recommend it.

And now, without further ado…here are the photos I promised. Want to share some bubbly with me? (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Before-Window Seat

Before-Window Seat

 

 

 

 

 

Before Vanity

Before Vanity

 

 

 

 

After-Window Seat

After-Window Seat

 

 

 

 

 

After-Vanity

After-Vanity

 

 

 

 

After - Shower

After – Shower

 

 

 

 

After - Column Capital

After – Column Capital

 

 

 

 

 

After - Column Base

After – Column Base

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, How To, musings

My Book Trailer Experience by Coco Ihle

My son, Rob, was visiting recently and I asked him if he would like to help me put together the trailer for my book, SHE HAD TO KNOW. He was enthusiastic, but busy with work, so I did the preliminaries. I watched dozens of book trailers on the Internet and came to two conclusions. The perfect length seemed to be a little over one minute, and eerie music and a British voice over would really help set the mood for the Gothic feel I wanted.

At my piano I experimented with notes that would create an eerie tune. When satisfied with the music, I developed a script. The hard part was keeping both simple.

Many of the trailers I’d seen had too much unnecessary information in the overall content, too much text per frame, hard to read text, too many pictures or ones that moved too fast. I needed: the one sentence TV Guide version of my book, in video.

The basic elements of my book contain a premonitory dream, one sister searching for her birth family, a castle, secrets, an ancient treasure, danger, a murderer.

Now to decide what pictures to use. First, I needed a title page and a background graphic. I had painted a faux rock wall in my sunroom a couple of years ago and thought that would make a perfect backdrop for the text of my book title, so I took a photo of a portion of the wall.

The next would logically be from the dream—a hand coming from a grave. On a night with a full moon, Rob, and I went out in the front yard and set up a floor lamp in front of a gnarled tree. The lamp highlighted his arm, but was hidden from view as I positioned my camera in front of Rob. Just as the camera started shooting, he blew cigarette smoke toward his hand and the resulting video looked like a hand reaching upward on a foggy night with the gnarled tree silhouetted in the background.

We didn’t count on my neighbor walking his dog about this time. Can you believe we scared him? He uttered a strange nonverbal sound, and to cover it, said, “What is this? Halloween?” Rob and I were still laughing when we went back inside.

The next pictures needed were of a man in a kilt and a picture of a young woman (family). That was easy enough. I used photos on hand.

Then, we needed a castle at night. I went searching on istockphoto.com and Fotolia.com and finally found a black and white video that was perfect. I purchased it and downloaded it to my computer.

For the “secrets” shot, I went hunting again on the Internet and found the tunnel video.

For the “treasure” shot, I gathered all the things around my house that could possibly be used to represent a treasure and took a photo.

For the “danger” shot, I went to the Internet again and found the wonderful eyeball. For the last shot, Rob and I videoed my arm falling. Next was the book cover and credits.

Using a program I had on my computer for doing family slide shows called, Magix PhotosStory on CD & DVD 9 deluxe, we lined up the photos and videos in order and added the music I had composed and recorded on an organ at my son’s store (complete with sound effects embedded.) The next step was adding the text to some of the frames.

I convinced a British friend of mine to do the voice over. That comprised the second sound track. All I had to do then was add the credits and send the video to Youtube. I also made a DVD of it, just for me, and I asked my web maven to put it on my website.

Some of you may want to hire a professional to do your book trailer, but I really wanted to try one on my own. It gave me a wonderful bonding experience with my son and memories I’ll never forget. If anyone has questions about how to put a trailer together yourself, I’d be glad to help if I can. If you’d like to see my trailer, go to  www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS_L0wQ7Zws  note: that’s a zero after the L. Any comments? Your own ideas?

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Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, fun, marketing, music, photographs, writing

Echoes

Writers need to watch out for echoes — a duplication of words, phrases, effects, details that reverberate in readers’ minds and dilute the work. (As an example: I just wrote “details that echo in readers’ minds”, but the second “echo” echoed the first and diluted the effect of both, so I changed the second “echo” to “reverberate”.)

Sometimes, however, an echo can be used to good effect in writing as well as photography. A roof can be an interesting subject for an image, but showing it against an analogous background can strengthen the image rather than dilute it.

There is no shortage of peaks around here — roof peaks, mountain peaks, hill peaks — and I was able to find shots of peaks perfectly echoed against peaks to illustrate my point.

 

 

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Filed under life, Pat Bertram, writing

Life Beyond the Pavement

My life has taken a dramatic turn in recents months, and I am now a thousand miles from home. I thought I’d be staying in a sprawling city, but it turns out I’m at the very edge of the sprawl, and every walk takes me beyond where the pavement ends. I do not like heat, wind, or glaring sun, but this bleak climate matches my inner climate at the moment and is bringing me a measure of peace.

Remember David Carradine in Kung Fu walking through the desert? That’s how I walk — very carefully. There are rattlesnakes here, and scorpions, but I stay on the paths where I can see any life. Though, to be honest, except for a fly or two, I haven’t come across a single living creature. I pretend that taking photos is helping my writing by making me see things more clearly, but the truth is, taking photos also brings me peace — or at least takes me away from myself.

So, where am I? See for yourself:

This is where the pavement ends

The house where I’m staying is down there somewhere

Another view of where I am staying

***

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,  and Daughter Am I

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My Greengage Summer by Pat Bertram

Would you push your way through a thicket

Travel unknown paths

Brave hordes of grasshoppers

And wasp nests

For a plum?

If the plums are greengages, you would. Think of the sweetest plum you’ve ever eaten, the most perfect apricot, combine them, add a hint of lime and you have the food of the gods — greengage plums.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.  At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

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Filed under fun, life, Pat Bertram