Friday, July 31, 2009

A Winner!

This is the first photograph I ever uploaded to my blog:

Yesterday, at my last landscape photography class, we had a contest. It was judged by the community center staff and our teacher. There were some beautiful images of plants and animals. My personal favorite was a baby squirrel standing by a blue flower. But in the end, I took first place! It felt great.

I took this picture with a Nikon N75 film camera. We were anchored on a buoy in Banks Channel at Wrightsville Beach. When I got the photo back, I was very, very surprised and delighted at how it turned out. It is probably my all time favorite photograph that I have taken. I'm glad it's a winner!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Doctor

With all the recent talk about health care, I want to tell you about my visit to the doctor this week. It's a little longer post than usual, but I hope you'll have time to read it through.

I hate to go to the doctor. I waver between fear of over-reacting and fear of letting something get to the crisis point before addressing it. I carefully plan what I'm going to say so I don't forget anything; sometimes I write things down.

This week a couple of things were bothering me, so I bit the bullet and called for an appointment. I got my spiel down. I dreaded it.

Some back story: Shortly after graduating from college, I went to work in the billing department of Wake Radiology in Raleigh. There were six doctors; now there are sixty. Next door was a small internal medicine practice. These doctors were fairly fresh out of medical school. I chose one of them, William Dunlap, and thus began an almost thirty-five year relationship. For this, I am eternally grateful. And now, so you know why, back to my story.

Dr. Dunlap walked into the office and immediately started talking about the neighborhood where I live and where he grew up. For ten minutes we reminisced about the old Lake Boone, Glenwood Avenue when it was a two lane road, etc. Eventually he asked about why I was there, and because of our small talk I was totally at ease.

He suggested an x-ray for one of the problems and said he would call me that very afternoon with the results. Unheard of, isn't it? A doctor letting you know right away, not making you agonize for days on end. By the afternoon, I hadn't heard from him when the phone rang. "Mamie, I just wanted to let you know that I haven't heard anything. I didn't want you to worry that I was trying to keep something from you. I'm sure they'll call tomorrow. I'll let you know when I hear." And he did.

I'm not sure what health care reform will do to the medical care we receive in this country, but I do know that my doctor still believes in caring for his patients, giving them all the time they need, and has compassion like I have never seen in any other. I know he won't change. Thank you, Dr. Dunlap, for taking care of me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I get a Daily Peace Quote by email every day. Here's the one for today:

Instructions for having a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
- Mary Oliver

It could just as easily read, "Instructions for having a writer's life."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Today is Jim's birthday. Jim and his wife, Nancy, are owners of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

I first met Nancy years ago, when my children were small. Her bookstore was much smaller too, but the children's department was a dream for a young mother. Years later, the bookstore moved to a shopping center near my house, and we became friends.

Jim and Nancy are now two of our best friends. They also had their thirtieth anniversary this year, and we're planning a great trip to celebrate. It'll be on a boat. It takes a special group of people to get along on a trawler for a week, but they are just the kind of people you want.

The two of them have worked together to grow an award-winning bookstore. The bathroom walls are lined with photographs of appreciative authors, and people come from out-of-town to visit the store.

A person could not ask for better friends than the two of them. Nancy tells it like it is - a welcome quality in a friend even if sometimes her telling requires some self-examination. Jim is calm and even-tempered and as knowledgable about wine as anyone I know.

I'm grateful for these two in my life, and wish Jim many, many returns of his birth day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Tonight was my first black and white photography class. There were two people there before me, both very young and experienced photographers. My gut said, "Run as fast as you can - you don't know squat and you haven't understood a thing in the other class and you're going to look very stupid." I stayed. And this incredible teacher explained things so that it is all starting to come together. I feel excited and very proud of myself for sticking it out. I can do it!

I just about stroked out this afternoon while exercising. I was doing some inverted and fairly complicated yoga poses (after jumping rope and using the treadmill). I think I'd better take it a little s-l-o-w-e-r.

Here's a photograph I shot from my deck last night. Although I was mad at a neighbor who took out a lot of very large trees a few weeks ago, I'm beginning to like the more open view and increased sunshine.

And lastly, this is what I saw when I walked in tonight:

The tomatoes are in!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not LOL funny

Someone sent me an email today asking me not to blab something to everyone and added LOL at the end of the, um, request.

Now first let me say that THEY were blabbing in a way, by telling me this thing that didn't need to be told. But this brings up something that has been getting on my nerves lately: the way people add LOL and haha to the end of things that are mean and/or sarcastic. Like that makes it okay. Like it will be less offensive on the receiving end if the sender is laughing as they say it.

I know the way people laugh when they say something crappy, and it isn't funny. In person or in print. It's only funny if we're all laughing.

Now go tell somebody.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon Memory

Several people today have asked me where I was when I watched the moon walk forty years ago. Until I saw the news tonight, I didn't remember.

I was seventeen years old. My mother's mother was dying of a brain tumor, and we were staying the summer at my great-aunt's beach house at Wrightsville Beach. I was very insensitive to what my mother was going through, and saw the summer as a great opportunity to drink, smoke, and party with my new-found friends from around NC.

I watched the walk at a friend's house. There were several of us there, adults and teens, and I can see us as clearly as though it were this afternoon. It seemed amazing and impossible, but when one of the adults said that it was faked, I was irritated at their ignorance.

My grandmother died in the fall, a day or two before I was to make my debut as the school mascot at a football game. As in the summer, what I was doing was more important to me that what my mother was going through. I was a total ass to my mother to the point that she told me to stay home and go to the game rather than to the funeral. I remember the fight (she must have been exhausted) but not whether I stayed or went.

Big things happened in those few months, both in the world and in my world. It has taken me many years to understand the impact.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Itchy Scratchy

Our little garden is still doing great with all the rain and the unbelievably nice weather we've had since we planted it. That big squash has been laying low under some leaves, hoping to hang on until the bitter end, but we found it yesterday.We picked over a quart of blackberries and I made two blackberry pies.

I'm trying to figure out aperture and shutter speed for my photography class, and worked with my camera quite a bit. I still don't know what I'm doing. My brother says it's the kind of thing that takes a lifetime to get down. I'm impatient.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Want It!

I do believe this is the sweetest handmade book I've ever seen. It can be yours (because it can't be mine) if you go to TheAyBeeCees.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


This is a photo from my aunt's wedding around 1958 or 1959. I am the child on the right. My aunt was only thirteen years older than I was, and her boyfriend/husband used to tell me how beautiful I was and that he was going to wait until I grew up and marry me. When I heard they were getting married I was very, very upset.

The only thing I really remember about the wedding is that my sister (on the left) hid under my aunt's dress when the photographer was trying to take the wedding photos. I'm not sure if I really remember it or know it because it's family lore.

My brother is in the photo and my grandfather is the adult. I figure he was about the same age as I am now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Today is my thirtieth wedding anniversary. Even after all these years, my husband can make me laugh until my stomach hurts but also make me feel like I want to put a fist through the wall. We have three beautiful daughters. Our business has taken a hit lately, but we still open the doors hopefully each weekday morning.

I owe a world of thanks to two people: my sister, Vicki, and her friend, Amanda, who was also one of my husband's best friends growing up. They called one Saturday afternoon when I was at Meredith and reeling from a crappy Friday night blind date.

"We want you to go out with this guy. Y'all will get along great. He's a year younger, but we've called everyone our age already," they said.

No way, I told them, was I going on another blind date that weekend, but they badgered me until I said yes.

When he came to the dorm thirty minutes late, I was very irritated. But he was cute and I decided to give him a chance. We went over to his house where he had a motorcycle unassembled on the very same coffee table that is in our den today.

We lived together for seven years before we got married. I think we were sure by then, but are we ever completely sure?

The traditional gift for a 30th anniversary is pearls. Over the years, he has probably given me ten pieces of pearl jewelry, so I guess he's off the hook for pearls this year. We're planning a special trip in the fall as our gift to each other.

It hardly seems possible that we've been together this long. I'm proud of us because it wasn't easy. But it has been worth it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Photography 101

Last night I did several things I don't normally like to do:

1. Go to a new place.
2. Be around a roomful of strangers.
3. Not have a complete understanding of what I'm getting into.
4. Take a chance on being the least knowledgeable (and least trainable!) person in the room.

That said, I did it, and had a grin on my face the whole time. I am so excited about what I am about to learn about my camera and photography. When the professor said, "I'm going to teach you to take your camera off the Automatic setting," it was as though he had said that he was going to teach me to give up all my bad habits and live happily ever after. I can't explain why his words hit me that way, but it felt very empowering and freeing.

There is a little tension around the teacher's announcement that there will be a photo contest at the end of the class - with judges, no less. But I can do it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


My blogger friend, Billie, over at Camera Obscura had this video posted on her site the other day. Because I am a terrible listener, it took me a while to get what I was seeing.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Reading

Here is a link to an interview with Nancy Olson of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh with her recommendation for good summer reads. I second her emotion!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Writing tips

Tonight I spent several hours cleaning up the room where I make cards, write, and occasionally exercise. After several weeks of card-making, the paper piles up. I have a hard time parting with even the smallest scrap. All of this is in preparation for starting a new work schedule designed to give me time to be more disciplined about writing and exercising.

I'm checking my mail late and this post about writing was on my Google Reader. Very basic, very clear (although with a slightly more bitchy tone than my writing teachers use) instructions about writing from a man who judges writing contests.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm loving the low humidity, a treat in July.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Calm After the Storm

I have chosen to delete my earlier rant. In order to keep myself from flying off the handle, I decided to set three conditions that had to be met in order for me to feel better about the situation. Two of them were met and exceeded my expectations.

I know without a doubt that I have been plopped into the body of Mamie to learn patience. I'm getting better - I'm employing tools that I've learned at my church (see? I'm in a better place about the church too). But sometimes it takes every ounce of self-control not to be rash in a situation. Rash behavior usually leads to remorse with me.

I'm learning, that there's a vast difference between being bold and being foolhardy.

If you visited earlier, thank you for listening. I will now return to Facebook, where I am learning alot about alot of people.