Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where the lovelight gleams

Real Simple Magazine does a feature each month called Life Lessons. They usually pick a theme and invite famous and non famous writers to explore the theme. Their theme this December was "where the love light gleams" from the Christmas song "I'll be Home for Christmas".  The magazine introduces the theme by saying, "For some people, coming home for Christmas or Hanukkah literally means returning to the house they grew up in. For others, it's less about a place and more about the people they're with. Either way, there's no time of year when home matters more, as five writers explain."

I read all of the essays, but my favorite was Anne Lamott's story of her son Sam learning to have Christmas at both her house and his father's house since Anne and Sam's father John had divorced. She ended it with a line..that...well, you know when you read something so beautiful and simple and yet profound and how it can just stop you in your tracks right then and there? Well this line did that to me. She writes: "Not long after, John moved away to a more modest home, where Sam always visited during the holidays, {Are you ready for THE line} ....a place filled with warmth and welcome and the ordinary light of family." What a beautiful, poetic and yet simple way to describe home and family.

After I read that, I just kept thinking that is such a gift...the ordinary light of family. It doesn't mean your family is perfect, but it means that in all it's ordinariness, it's extraordinary. And wherever your family is, that is your home; where the love light gleams.

My photo this week hopefully shows the ordinary light of family and it really shows where the love light gleams for me. It's Christmas morning, and everyone in this photo (human and furry) is so important to me; they are my home and where the love light gleams for me and I am so grateful to God for the gift of them in my life.

Merry Christmas, Happy Feast of the Holy Family and many, many blessings to you and yours in 2014.

P.S. Please note that Sean has been set in a corner and is officially in charge of opening and assembling the gifts as they are unwrapped. I'm sure in every house where toys were opened, Moms and Dads were uttering the same curse words as they attempted to open the packaging that had to have been made by the same people who designed the space shuttle. Most toys could be strapped in their original packaging to the outside of the space shuttle, and survive a trip into space and back. -Dina

Gleaming light makes me think of sunsets, which is a favorite subject of mine. Of course, a photogenic sunset during any given week is certainly not a guarantee, especially during the bleak month of December (for weather, anyway). I got lucky, however, when I was walking my dog a couple evenings ago. A nice foreground element in this photo is the TV antenna, which looks like an arrow and is pointing the way to this gleaming sunset.  -Cort

Next Week's Theme: Clean Slate

Monday, December 23, 2013

Silent Night

Note - Our blogger application is altering the colors in this photo, and I have not been been able to fix the problem and restore it to the original intended version.

During this past week we marked the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and so I thought this would be a good week for a nighttime theme. I really wanted to take this photo with snow on the ground, and I missed it by one night. This is my house, and I left for Omaha just hours before we got several inches of snow in Kansas City. So unfortunately, this photo falls a bit below my own hopes and expectations. Timing is everything with photography, and sometimes time just isn't on your side. Anyway, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! -Cort

 This Christmas snow globe is a favorite of mine. I immediately thought of it when I saw the theme, because it plays Silent Night. Peace and Merry Christmas!!!!! -Dina

Next Week's Theme: Where the lovelight gleams.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry and Bright

I love this time of year. I. love. it. ONE of the many things I love about Christmas is the Christmas tree. My Christmas tree. Mine is artificial (to me, the only way to go) and though it's a 6ft tree, it's a little bit scrawny (like a real one without the needles, ha!) but once I get done loading it with ornaments and garland and extra lights, it's one of the most beautiful things in my house. :)

For the first time in this project, I re-created a photo that I took last year. I used my Dad's star filter from his old 35mm film days and viola! a fun, merry and bright photo.

This week's theme finally gave me the impetus to break open the boxes of Christmas decorations. Even though I enjoy doing this, some years I don't actually get around to it because I never spend Christmas at my own house, and I'm busy with a million other things. 

I also enjoy using my extension tube for macro shots. I dusted off this favorite photographic tool of mine so that I could get some close-ups of a shiny ornament reflecting the lights of the tree.  -Cort

Next Week's Theme: Silent Night

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting Away

This week I really was getting away - from work, from home, and from most other people. I took a couple vacation days and spent some time at a bed and breakfast in Weston, Missouri with my girlfriend. It's a very quaint, quiet, small town about a half hour out of Kansas City. Since it was midweek during the off season, it was particularly empty of crowds and noise, which was very pleasant.

We spent most of the afternoon strolling up and down this downtown street, exploring the shops and museums. In the foreground of this shot you can even see directional signs telling you how to get away from there to other points of interest, which is exactly what we did. It was perfect little respite during a busy time of year for both of us. -Cort

When the weather gets snowy and cold, there are many people who dream of getting away to somewhere warmer! I'm fine with the cold and snow through December; once January hits, spring should begin. -Dina

 Next Week's Theme: Merry and Bright

Sunday, December 1, 2013


One of the things that I (and I'm sure many others) love about Thanksgiving is that it's a holiday that is rich in tradition. The traditions can differ from family to family and can even change a bit over the years, but it's part of what makes the day so special. And creating new traditions is also something I am very thankful for. I love comparing photos, so I found a photo from my childhood taken on Thanksgiving to compare to today's Thanksgiving. I am thankful for my family, then and now. I am thankful that we got to spend many Thanksgivings with my Nana and Nanu. I am thankful for the abundant food that we have every year. I could go on and and on, but both of these photos show so many blessings and why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. 

Fun photo fact #1: Please note the pyrex bowl on the table in the old photo. And though you can hardly see it, there was plenty of pyrex on this year's table as well! 

Fun photo fact #2: One of our new traditions is that we watch the movie UP after we eat Thanksgiving dinner. This year, after looking at the old photo, we noticed the uncanny resemblance that my Nanu has to Mr. Fredrickson. (Squirrel!!!!)  :) 

Fun photo fact #3: You can see the Pepsi bottles on the table in the old photo; and you can see the coke cans on the table in the current photo. My nieces have no idea that pop used to come in a bottle.  -Dina

It was a small Thanksgiving gathering this year for me. My parents and I joined my grandpa at his retirement home, which including a delicious meal and even a small private dining room. Too small, in fact, for a decent photo of the table setup or the people gathered around it (I didn't bring my wide angle lens with me). But it was a beautiful table setting, and nothing says Thanksgiving like lots of turkey and stuffing on the good china. -Cort

Next Week's Theme: Getting away