The Door is a Jar

Dedicated to seeing the lighter and slightly skewed side of life

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My Little PeeGees

Unfortunately…again…this weekend, the chore gods aligned against me and prevented my weekly photo jaunt.  Don’t you just hate those pesky chores that keep you from being able to the things you would really prefer doing?  Someday, I would like to have a staff of people to do things like the cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc.  A staff to remove the weeds that are now the size of small trees, even though there has not been any significant rain.  Yeah, the day of having a staff of chore doers is certainly a long way off (and by “long way off” I mean never gonna happen).  As in the past when this has occurred, I improvise.

I had been anxiously awaiting the flowers on my PeeGee hydrangea. Why?  Because all my other flowers are gone.  The spring flowers bloomed long ago and the last of the daylilies just finished.  My garden is still a work in progress (like most things in my life) as I try to add more that will bloom at different times over the summer.  Right now, it is just a little lacking in that area (ok, a lot lacking – I admit it!).  But at long last, my PeeGees have bloomed!  Oh, happy day!

My PeeGee’s are one of my garden success stories.  I wanted to add flowering trees to my backyard to act as a screen from the neighbors.  I started researching and discovered that PeeGee’s can be trained to become trees.  I also found that if you want to buy them that way, they are expensive.   I got mine from the Arbor Day Foundation about four years ago.  I bought four for $20, or $5 bucks a tree.    I thought I was a total genius until they arrived.  It was basically a “Stick in a Bag” tree kit.  Still for $5, I figured I could be patient.

Four years later, they are not yet trees, but they really want to be.  Their branches are plenty long enough to be trees, but the trunk part is just not quite tall enough yet.  I can relate to this.  Growing up, I was always the shortest kid in the class.  It didn’t help matters that my last name (before marriage) was Short.  Seriously, could you get luckier than that?  It certainly didn’t result in clever taunts like “Do you know why your last name is Short?  Cause your short!”  No, not at all.  Actually, there are way worse last names out there.  At the risk of offending someone, I’m gonna refrain from mentioning anything obviously worse….well, maybe just one….no…not gonna do it.

Anyway, my little PeeGees have extra long branches, resulting in blooms that either touch or almost touch the ground.  It doesn’t make photographing them an easy task.  However, it did make for some interesting pictures and some interesting grass stains on my clothes as I lay on the ground trying to get a good angle.

So, until my PeeGee’s are all grown up, I’ll just have to keep the good stain-fighting laundry detergent around.  Ugh, laundry!

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Butterflypalooza @ Tyler Arboretum

Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA is a fantastic place to go, not just for photography, but for families.  They really have a great program running this summer, jam-packed with awesome stuff for kids to explore, like cool tree houses, fairy forests, and (my personal favorite) a large version of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

I went on Sunday and the place was loaded with families with young kids.  It was great for them, cause there was so much to do.  It was great for me, cause I didn’t have to worry about other photographers hogging the best spots.  Total win-win.  It also seemed to me, that I was either ahead or behind the group curve, so the bulk of the people were not where I was at any given moment.

Ironically, this was not my first choice for where I was gonna go this weekend.  It was not even my second.  I had put it on my list of places to try to get to this summer, but it doesn’t open until 9:00 am, well past the morning “Golden Hour”. For that reason, I had kind of put in on the back burner.  But this Sunday started out kind of cloudy, so there was no strong need to get out the door by 6:30 am.  I decided to take it easy and give this place a shot.  I was not disappointed.

Butterflies are just the most photogenic of the bugs, am I right?  Of course, when your competition are cockroaches and ants, it’s not hard to win that contest!  Unlike ants (that I can find even when I don’t want to!), butterflies can be a little tricky to locate.  Well, I can tell you, they are all hanging out at the Tyler Arboretum.  Monarchs, Skippers, and a bunch of other kinds that I can’t name, can all be found here.  Here are just a few pics.

These are not even the best one’s for the day (I’m saving those for Feature Foto Friday 🙂  Just a little something to give you an incentive to seek out butterflies.  They are totally happening right now!

Couldn’t help but wonder how many earthquakes started as a result of what I saw yesterday.  Or how Ashton Kutcher is doing.

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Barenaked and Balloons – A shout out to last year’s NJ Balloon Festival!

Usually today’s post would be a recap of my photo outing from the weekend.  Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often awry.”  from the Robert Burns poem.  No matter how well you plan, sometimes things happen that screw everything up.  This weekend we had a fair amount of rain in the morning.  Between that and my bouts of insomnia last week, getting up at 6am to grow trouncing out and about taking pictures….was just not gonna happen.

I’ve decided on these rare occasions, that I will go through my archives and find a story to tell.  A recap of a past outing, that hopefully I can tie into some current event.  This week I have decided to recap the Quick Chek NJ Balloon Festival from 2011.  The festival this year takes place on July 27-29th, so it’s right around the corner!  If you live in the area, you should definitely check it out.  The balloons take off in the early morning or early evening.  I was there in the evening.  The sight was spectacular.  I have posted pics of this before on other Social Media sites (ie Facebook), but most of these pics  are making their internet début!  I will do a complete group on Flickr, so you can see them all there.

See what I’m talkin’ about?  Awesome right?  Now you are probably wondering what this “Barenaked” business is about.  The festival usually features a few musical acts that headline concerts starting after the balloons go up in the evening.  On this particular evening, it was the Barenaked Ladies!!!!  Only one of my absolute favorite bands.  The venue is really great, you are so close!

I told you!  Please, do yourself a favor and go the festival, you won’t regret it!


Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It…

This weekend, the site I chose for my photography outing is a place where people from all walks of life gather.  They gather with the hope and enthusiasm that they can do it!  They might even be able to get a little help too.  Where is this place that even the most jaded pessimist might consider for just a moment that the glass is half full?  No, it’s not the Church of Scientology. It’s…

This weekend was a little jam-packed with chores and activities, so when my husband asked if I wanted to go with him to Home Depot, I thought it might be an interesting place to take pictures.  I was a bit concerned that the retail folks might not like this idea as much as I did, so I took my little point and shoot camera instead of the DSLR.  I’m mentioning this because I seem to have forgotten how to use this camera.  I thought the purpose of Point and Shoot was to make it easy, but apparently not.  Some of the pics are a little blurry, so I apologize in advance.

This sign always makes me laugh.  See, I read this sign and think that they are talking about the customers that come here so often, they are considered, not amateur, but “Pro”!  Surely, they must be talking about us!  Yes, this is the explanation I have ready if anyone asks why we are parking in the spot saved for contractors.

Now, when you look at this picture, are you thinking these would be a good thing to use to build a rig capable of supporting interior doors so they can be painted with a spray gun?  Essentially using them as you would, a giant Erector set?  Yeah, me neither.  But that was what my husband was here to do.  He was working on a project for a client to paint 28 doors and felt that a rig would be required.  So why not PVC?  I’ll tell you why not.  Because they weren’t designed to be used that way.  It’s not that they couldn’t be, it’s just that the parts are not designed with angles he had in mind.

I think I mentioned that this is not the Church of Scientology…or anywhere near a place where celebrities might gather (so maybe not all walks of life).  Tom Cruise is not going to show up here and help us with this Mission Impossible project.  It really looked like thing was going to “blow up” so my husband went off to see if he could come up with an alternative.  I decided to give it one more shot.  Then, with seconds to spare (until my patience gave out), it hit me.  I had it!

Sorry, I didn’t have time to build it to scale…or paint it.  So while my pics weren’t so hot, I did get to leave with some bragging rights for the day.  BOO YAA!  I know…it looks like it might be a bit top-heavy.  I’m sure I can think of a solution.  See?  Glass half full!

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Where to go….where to go.

At the end of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy says to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry  “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.”  I like this quote because it suggests living in the moment and having a certain appreciation for what you have and not what you don’t.  I decided to apply that thought as inspiration for this week’s photo walk.  I actually went a little further than my own yard, but I kept pretty close to home.  After all, there’s no place like it!

I live in the town of West Chester, PA.  It is the county seat of Chester County, which basically means we have a lot of government peeps and many, many lawyers.  It is also home to West Chester University.  Soooo, we got a bunch of lawyers and a bunch of college kids.  Sounds like a winner combo to me!  Did I mention we have lawyers?

It’s really a great place to live.  There are lots of restaurants, cute shops, and of course, there is a Starbucks.

Taking pics in a town setting is very different than in a garden or park setting.  I know that must seem, obvious?  The challenge for me is that I like to keep my pictures simple.  If you look at my other work, they have a very defined subject,  If there is only one flower in the picture, it’s not hard to figure out what I want you to look at.  When you are in more of an urban setting, there is a lot of stuff around.  The trick is to figure out how to compose the picture, not to mention the mechanics of getting the exposure right.  I mean, how do you narrow down all this?

And this is already narrowed down!  What I started to do was look for unusual items that I could photograph like I photograph the flowers.  Things like parking meters, street signs and fence posts.

I don’t know, but I feel like this glove is on the verge of an obscene gesture.  It was a little early on a Sunday.  Maybe it hadn’t had it’s coffee yet.

So I saved the best for last.  This is a close up of the side of a phone booth.

It’s unfortunate that it’s a bit blurry because it is far and away the best subject I found for the day…aside from what I have planned for Wednesday’s post.  But you’ll have to check back for that!

You know what else you can find occasionally in urban settings?  FLOWERS!


Three! Three! Three shoots in one!

This weekend, I went to Tyler Gardens at Bucks County Community College.  It is very close to where my parents live, so the plan was to shoot pics in the morning and spend time with them in the afternoon, perhaps see a movie as well.  I got to the school around 8:00 am and realized that I should have arrived about an hour earlier (at least) because of the light.  But there was still plenty…and I mean plenty, to shoot.

I was not alone in the gardens.  There were about 3 painters already there when I arrived (they knew when to get there!).  By painters, I mean artists, not house painters or playing cards painting the flowers.  Now that would have been something to see!  Probably need something stronger than a Chai Tea Latte to see something special like that.

Alice in Wonderland

It’s nice when there are other people around, cause you don’t feel this need to look over your shoulder every five minutes to make sure someone isn’t sneaking up on you.  But you do need to be careful about not getting in anyone’s way who is already set up and working.  Although there is a big, bad exception to this.  That exception is the wedding photographer.

 Adam Sandler

Nice try, but that is The Wedding Singer not the wedding photographer.  Again, this is something that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY! 🙂

Around 9:00, I hear loud talking, like a lot of loud talking.  I look up and here comes a rather large wedding party, along with two photographers.  They have absolutely no problem just taking over the joint.  Can’t say I blame them.  They are probably on a schedule and there is money involved.  But we were here first, dammit!  Or at least the painters were.

I have to say that these gardens are really perfect for wedding photography.  I don’t typically crash other people’s parties, but since I was being held up from my agenda, and it just fits so well into a recap, I snapped a pic of the group (don’t worry, I pixellated the faces to protect the innocent).  The bridesmaid dresses are maybe the prettiest I’ve ever seen.  How often do you hear that phrase?  Exactly.

Soooo, after they left, it got pretty quiet again.  I took pictures for about another hour and then called it.  Two hours are about all my little attention span can handle.  Plus, it felt like a good time for a Starbucks break.  The downtown area of Newtown is very close by and I figured there had to be a Starbucks there.  THERE HAD TO BE!

You know, they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step.

“They tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no.”

But I don’t have a problem 🙂  At least, at this point, I didn’t have a problem anymore.  Somehow, a Mocha Light Frappucino just always makes everything better.  Can I tell you?  This was the busiest Starbuck I’ve ever been in.  If you ever want to feel like you are at a place that is happening, its Saturday @ 10:30 am at the Newtown Starbucks.  Be there or be square!

I decided to take a stroll down the main drag before heading to Mom and Dad’s.  You can tell the town was getting ready for July 4th…or they are just very patriotic, because I took at least 4 or 5 different American Flag pics.  These are just a couple.

I know this post is getting rather long, so I will wrap it up here.  Mom had a beautiful spiky purple flower blooming in her garden that I had not noticed before so I snapped some pics of that too.  That, my friends, is how I got three shoots (and 200 pics!) in one day.  Featured Foto Friday is going to be interesting.

Oh yeah, we also went to see Rock of Ages….interested to hear what others thought of it.  I thought Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand stole the movie….which wasn’t ultra hard to do, but they did it.  Can still hear them singing “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon.  You can hear that song now too, can’t you?  Can’t you? [Insert evil laughter here]

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There are no apples at Appleford

But there are more frogs than you can shake a stick at!  Not that I would.  I love frogs and all living creatures.  Except for those little black ants.  I hate those.  Of course, that has nothing to do with this post.  This post is about Appleford…which has no apples.

You know what else Appleford doesn’t have, assuming you get there before or around 9:00 am on a Saturday morning?  People!

I had wanted to get to the estate by 8:00, because the morning light in photography is my absolute favorite.  That didn’t happen, for a number of reasons that I listed the other day.  So I was late for the light, but early to the party so to speak.  Way early.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival (aside from the lack of other human life) is how noisy it was.  I’m telling you, these frogs were loud!  And because there were so many (or at least it seemed that way – I couldn’t actually see them), they really got your attention.

The frogs surrounded a beautiful multi-level pond, full of lily pads.  It was a calm morning, no wind to speak of.  The perfect opportunity to break out my tripod without making a fool of myself while I stumble around with it.  Gonna let my geek flag fly!

As it turns out, I did see a frog, I just didn’t realize it until I got home, but here is a picture of one.

All in all, this was a nice place to shoot, it just didn’t rock my world.  I’ll tell you though, if you are planning a wedding, this is a place to consider.  The terrace is beautiful and very large.  The Appleford website shows lots of beautiful wedding imagery.  Would also be a great place for a party in general.  If you have your party over brunch, the frogs will sing to you!

Speaking of which, here is one of my favorite frogs, singing a nice little ditty.

Kermit the Frog sings The Rainbow Connection

This blog is really a work in progress.  Going forward, I plan to do about three posts a week, plus a bonus post if I have time and material.  Mondays will be write ups like this one about where I went over the weekend.  Thursdays will be tutorials of some kind, even if the tutorial is something I just learned how to do.  Fridays will be Featured Foto Day where I share the best photos taken at the shoot from the previous weekend.  The bonus posts will be completely random thoughts.  All will probably include movie or music references, or both…cause that’s how I roll!

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It’s a Summer Photo Project Extravaganza!

Hey all!  As you may know, I am a bit of a photo nut.  This spring, I finally took an introduction class to learn more about my Digital SLR camera.  It was everything I thought it could be..and a bag of chips 🙂

Now that I have successfully left the auto modes behind and am almost exclusively using aperture and shutter priority, it is important that I find as many places to take pictures as possible so that I may improve my skills.

With that in mind, and the fact that the economy stinks, I have been searching for places that are free or at least mostly free.  Here is my destination for today:

 Photo from Appleford Website

This is a photo of Appleford Estate/Parsons Banks Arboretum, located in Villanova, PA.  I found this thru a search of public gardens.  This stone farmhouse has been in existence for about 300 years.  Not too shabby eh?  On the website, under “News”, there is mention that this was the location for the film shoot of “The Philadelphia Story”.  Unfortunately for me, they were referring to a story done for Philadelphia Style magazine and not the classic movie starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  I guess that kills my idea of running around the house yelling “C.K. Dexter Haven!”

 Photo from the film “The Philadelphia Story”

Since I don’t like to show up at places when they are closed, I searched the website extensively for the hours of operation.  They are at best, vague.  So, I searched other websites and found this on

“The Parsons-Banks Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary is open to the public from dusk to dawn 365 days a year”

I added the bold and underline.  Dusk to dawn?  Well, if I can’t run around yelling for Cary Grant, perhaps there is another movie star in my future?

Photo from the film “Dusk till Dawn”

Coincidence?  You be the judge!