Photographers Anonymous

Before mom left for her trip, I was given one mandate:

“Take pictures of my peonies as soon as they bloom and email them to me.   I wish I wasn’t going to miss them blooming, but I can enjoy it via a picture.”

Before I continue, let me give you some background – this woman has literally thousands of pictures of ‘the aspen turning’.    When I lived in the mountains, fall meant frequent phone calls, “Are they turning yet?  Should I come up this weekend?”   Once I moved back to the plains, the dialogue became, “Let’s go to the mountains!  Will you drive?   Wait, Wait, WAIT!  Pull over!  I have to take a picture of this.”

I love my mother – and her 20 some odd photo albums that I get on a step ladder and pull down from the top closet shelf when the urge to view photos from long ago strikes her.

I’ve oohed and ahhed over more sunrise and sunset pictures than I can imagine.    My ooohs and ahhhs sometimes aren’t exuberant enough and I land in the dog house.

And I swear, if I wanted to, I could go through her digital library and show you pictures of the same durn tree from every year between 1990 something and present, just at the point it’s leaves turn from green to gold…

I’ve backed up her digital photo library onto 3 separate external hard drives and she backs them up on CD’s and flash drives, just in case I dropped the ball….

So you can imagine my internal dialogue when the request to photograph the peonies, right at the very second they started blooming, was made.


I love photos – I’m starting to follow quite a few photography blogs and it’s such a relief to view, press the “Like” button and move on.

(Thanks photographers, for letting me get off easy and not having to explain just WHY I liked it!)

It may surprise you to know, I was once an avid photographer myself.   Lead photographer for my high school yearbook two years running, even.   But once I graduated and no longer had access to a darkroom – photography became a very expensive hobby and I let it go.

And before digital cameras and smart phones became the norm, I had changed.


I can tell you precisely when it happened – family members had returned from a Grand Tour of Europe.   After taking a week to get their laundry caught up and get their pictures burned onto 12 different DVDs, they came over for supper to share their vacation with us.  (The modern equivalent of the slide projector – nope, people still don’t get that it’s rude to trap others into this in their own home….)

Nevertheless, I was excited – I’d love to travel, but by this time, I’ve come to the conclusion that unless I win the lottery, world travel is probably not something that will get done this lifetime.   So I live vicariously through the travel pics of others…

As the scenes played before me, I oohed and ahhed….   Where is that?   What’s the name of that town?   Oh that’s beautiful, which church is that?

To which they replied, “I think that was Germany – – No, Austria – – you know, I don’t know.”

After a few attempts, I quit asking.

It struck me that photos are great, but I want to KNOW about the place.   Which festival was being celebrated when you took the pics of all the buxom beer maids in the nifty outfits?    What year was that church built?   Where are those beautiful hills located?  I might actually be able to go there someday and I’d like to know how to get there…

After the evening was over, I vowed to become a Heart Photographer.

You know the ones – they take one or two pictures, then sit back to enjoy the present.   When they get home, they show a 10 picture slide show that lasts for 5 hours, because as each new picture loads, they say,

“Oh!  This was when we found that little village that was having their annual Harvest Home festival.  It was so awesome!   They had all these market stalls and dancers – we even danced too!   And the food!   Let me tell you about the food….”

So here’s the pictures I took to send to her – no, I didn’t catch them blooming – but let me tell you about the time I helped her clean the rocks and she smashed my finger so hard, it durn near broke it…

Flowerbed in the Morning
Flowerbed in the Morning
Bloomin' Peonies (I think)
Bloomin’ Peonies (I think)

The Sunshine Award

sunshine-awardToday was spent chauffeuring loved ones to tests that involve anasthesia.  Which makes me a nervous wreck, because we’ve had too many “oops!  the test killed the patient” instances in my family and friends circle – but it all turned out okay and everyone is declared healthy and has arrived home safely.

During my time in the waiting room, I received an email notifying me I had been nominated for the Sunshine Award by Grandma Says – which was funny, because I didn’t feel super sunshiney today, but hey, I’ll take whatever I can get.

I was rather surprised by this all, as her blog is one of my favorites and, as a recipient of so many different blogging awards, I was humbled that she thought that much of mine.

So in true spirit of the supportive blogging world of Word Press, thank you for the nomination, which I accept and will dutifully follow “Da Rules”:

  • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself
  • Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers
  • Link your nominees to this post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated
  • Share the love and link the person who nominated you

Before I engage in the hard job of picking the nominees – I will first answer “Da Questions”, simply because that should go faster than, say, linking and commenting on every single WordPress blogger out there –

What inspired you to start blogging?

I’ve always been a writer – I still have, ahem, manuscripts written on stenographer notepads because not everyone had a PC in 1980’s – I have reams of poems, short stories, partial novels.  I’ve written for local newspapers and magazines – but the idea of writing to make a living just seemed like more work than it was worth – – When I learned about blogging, and that I could write whatever the heck I wanted too, my only question was, “Where do I sign up and when do I start?”

I will say my blogging has suffered these past few weeks, because I’ve finally decided to pull up my big girl panties and try self-publishing and I’m in the midst of formatting three of my book manuscripts to upload to Amazon – – Blogging is what has given me the courage to put myself out there, in this manner.

How did you come up with the name to your blog?

For some strange reason known only to the gods, I have a dream of Ireland in my heart and hope that if reincarnation is true,  I once spoke Gaelic.   Don’t ask me why.  It’s one of those reasons that escapes explanation.   I named my blog, “Bally Bin” – literal translation “Peak Town”, which I give the reason for in my About Bally Bin page.  As a tag line, I put The Good, Bad and Ludicrous”, so the reading world would know this isn’t a niche site and I may just write about any durn thing that pops into my head that morning.

I don’t like misleading keyword or titling attempts by others, so I was deliberately obtuse and vague in both my name and titling, so others couldn’t accuse me of leading them astray…

What is your favorite blog that you like to read?

All of them that I follow – all the ones I find because they find me – the ones I find via comments on those I follow – – I’ve never fired up the computer to read while drinking my morning cup of tea or joe without being amazed at all  the awesomeness out there – You all Rock – even the ones that write about stuff I’m not particularly interested in – I still like that you make the effort to write and put yourself out there.  And even if I don’t care passionately about what you do, I can’t resist reading a well-written piece – and there are so durn many of them out there.

Tell about your dream job?

I’m living it – I write some and support small business some and if the goddess Demeter and Grandpa Golden smile upon me, I’ll also earn some of my keep by being the local market garden come 2014.   I’ve lived long enough to know that having all your eggs in someone else’s basket is a bad way to go –  as I’ve also learned to have a high tolerance for financial uncertainty, I bounce from day to day, earning my living through a variety of endeavors.   I spent 25 years making someone else rich while missing family events, evening lecture series and many a sunrise and sunset – I’ve lost everything and managed to regain my feet – so I’ve decided life is too short to work for someone else.

Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

Glass?!?  There are glasses?  And here I’ve been guzzling from the bottle….

Because I hate to do dishes…

If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

Ireland, I’d like to spend a year there some week – Not the tourist spots – no, some little village that’s close to some cherished spot that everyone locally knows to be magical.  I’d like to live there long enough that the local pub gatherers know my name and welcome me in, instead of shaking their head over the ‘narky American lass’.

What food can you absolutely not eat?

Anything that is found in the Insect genus – This is why I don’t have a bucket list that includes going Native in some far off country – they’d offer me their finest delicacy of the local insects and I’d throw up and be put to death for insulting the cook –

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Chocolate?  There are people who like chocolate?

I will confess to trying to figure out how to make locally-sourced-ingredient Gummy Bears – – haven’t figured it out yet and so Gummy Bears is on my ‘non-local’ treat list – I gave up coffee, to have Gummy Bears.

How much time do you spend blogging?

Some days, all day.  Others, none at all – I write when it moves me.   I never try to do 30 day challenges or set a goal of blogging every day –  that would take all the fun out of it, for me.

A mentor (who worked in San Francisco in the Summer of Love and told me she was the only one in Haight-Ashbury who had a job that season) told me that before she ever wrote an article, she knew who would publish it, who the readership was, who the advertisers were and what each of them wanted.

I decided then and there I Never wanted to be a freelance writer.  I could feel my soul curling up and dying when she told me I had to learn those skills, because I was a writer, but I needed to be a Paid Writer

I’d rather build websites, databases, or chew ground glass than do that.

When I write, it’s because the first spark came to me – upon rising, or on the drive home, or while my son was explaining the current level of his latest Xbox game (I admit it – my eyes sometimes glaze over when my teenagers talk – I call it tit-for-tat)

And the words come – they flow out and the minute one is not right, I know it.

If I try to write any other time, well….let’s just say I have tried it – and those drafts get Trashed, because even I think I’m a liar while reading my own work…

Do you watch tv – if so, what are some of your favorite shows?

Arghhh- Now you all are going to know the truth – –

I don’t have cable or satellite TV – all movies eventually make it to Netflix or my local library – these locations also have literally millions of documentaries – I could watch documentaries until I’m 90 and not see them all.

My favorite Documentaries are, “How the Earth Was Made” and “The Revolution” series, both narrated by Edward Hermann.

But I do admit that while I stayed at my Mom’s during my stroke recovery – I got enamored of Big Bang Theory – Sheldon is my hero – he’s smart enough and dysfunctional enough to get away with his non-pc way of interacting with others.   I tried being myself, but wearing ugly pants and a Batman t-shirt while being brutally honest – – still didn’t work, so obviously, you gotta be really smart (and have a PhD.) to be Frank and get away with it.

Now on to the Nominees –

The World’s Top 10 of Anything and Everything 

Russell Deasley is just an awesome guy and his blog is one of the most consistent and quick pick-me-ups I’ve ever seen.   How he manages to put out the fabulous Top 10 lists he does, every day, amazes me again and again – (remember, I wait for inspiration before blogging – rain or shine, I have a Top 10 to enjoy every day!)

Not only does he post every day, but I’ve never left a comment that he didn’t respond to – and while looking to see how amazing this is, in ratio to how many millions of followers he has – I see he has already been awarded the Sunshine Award – I don’t care – I’m nominating him again…. 🙂

Thanks Russell – you make me smile!

I Pledge a Fallegiance

This is one of my go to blogs for current events – since I don’t watch the news, and often don’t like reading it, but hate being in the dark – I look to those bloggers who write about current events.

His common sense approach to a variety of subjects makes me feel not so alone when I look around and wonder what the heck is going on with our culture, politics and systems.   He questions the status quo and hence, is a man after my own heart.

New Urban Habitat

One of the first blogs I ever started following – Abby Quillen keeps me motivated when I’m not at my best and writes about subjects dear to my heart.   During my stroke recovery, I even emailed my thanks for her words motivating me for one more day and she never failed to email back with a friendly thanks and encouraging word.

A splendid writer who sees, in my opinion, what’s really important and is fashioning her life around those values.

Break Room Stories

This funny blog is full of one-liners, OMG’s and “Are you Kiddin’ Me?” stories from those who work in the trenches every day, serving the often unpleasant and ungrateful – yup, it’s about the Bar and Restaurant industry.

I worked in the ‘biz’ from age 14 til I was 23.   It sometimes gets rough in the trenches, but reading these stories reminds me of the good things that happen too.    To all those who send in your Yippee and Woe-is-me stories –  Good Job!   And thanks for doing the job that is very needed, but our society fails to recognize as an Honorable Career.

Canadian Hiking Photography

Now, full disclosure – this guy and his pals are way more into activities that I avoid like the plague (hiking, snow-shoeing, skiing) and more enthusiastic than my couch-potato butt is comfortable with (sometimes reading his trip itineraries wears me out) but the images he captures of his adventures are awe-inspiring and sometimes make me regret that I’m not the athletic type.

His works are things of beauty and I triple-dawg-dare anyone to visit his site and not come away renewed with appreciation of how beautiful the world is.

Daily Echo

Sue Vincent inspires me.   She’s the one I read when I’ve woke up on the wrong side of the bed and figure I might need to cheer myself up before interacting with anyone, including the dog.

She manages to take the high road on so many subjects without ever leaving me feeling like the road I’m on is somehow lower – even when it really is.   A great lady and if you love fractals, you just have to visit her.

Data Driven Viewpoints

I just recently discovered DataHeart because he found me in cyberspace – I admire this man.   He writes about subjects that  I would love to write about, but my musings would undoubtedly turn into a bloody rampage over the injustice of it all.    He does so with logic, finesse and a calm spirit that tells, “Just the Facts, ma’am.”

He also manages to take data points from a variety of places and show you how they relate to one another.  In our complex world and especially as we try to make better decisions regarding the systems we have that are failing both us and future generations, thinkers like him are sorely needed.

Kudos to you DataHeart – may you never tire of  taking the data and explaining it well to those of us who prefer the written word to charts.

Jump for Joy Photo Project

Another consistent blogger, Eyoälha Baker never fails to leave an inspirational quote in my reader and at least one awesome photo of someone, somewhere, jumping for joy – Every Day –

The fact that

A. So many people can jump that well


B. The pictures are never blurry, never fails to amaze me.

And on my Beware of Owner days, she reminds me that there is still joy in the world and shares it with me.


There are so many other blogs I follow – people who I appreciate and whose writing touches me.   It was hard to pick who to put on the list, but it really came down to those who never fail to inspire me, make me smile or motivate me when I’m struggling.

Thank you all.

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