Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back then

Photo Challenge Day 31 - You, again

I'm sitting here in my flannel pjs. My hair is a mess. There is no way I'm taking a self-portrait. But look! I took a picture of a picture. My hair is also a mess in this picture. This has been a lifelong theme apparently. The man who took this photo is the man who inspired my interest in photography. He was a neighbor and  family friend. It seemed he always had a camera in his hands and I cherish the photos I have that he took, photos of my parents, of my pony and yes, even this photo of me. This photo perfectly captures my childhood. All adventure, not a care in the world. And no interest whatsoever in brushing my hair.

003 by groth.alison

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A morning gift

Photo Challenge Day 30 - Nature

I know that some people struggle with Gardenias, the leaves get overtaken by aphids or the buds fall off before blooming. I know they like sunny days and acidic, well draining soil. I've read on some websites that the plants should be pruned regularly and even be protected from the drying wind. 

When I moved into this house, I removed some shrubs along the fence and transplanted two Gardenias I had in big pots on my old patio. I didn't give two thoughts to the soil acidity and I never prune them. Those plants have thrived. In the summer they produce hundreds of flowers and the yard smells heavenly. In fact, the plants bloom regularly. Last night a cold front blew in on the back of one heck of a rain storm with high winds and big raindrops blowing almost sideways. This morning? Two beautiful blooms.

Mother Nature is best left to her own when it comes to these two plants. I think my role is simply to notice and appreciate.

005 by groth.alison

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Keep refrigerated

Photo Challenge Day 29 - Inside your fridge

Several  months ago on the Today Show there was a segment on kitchen organization. I took one thing from that: Putting a Lazy Susan in your fridge. I picked this one up at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon making it less than $7.00.  It's an inexpensive way of keeping control of the smaller tubs and jars that otherwise get moved to the back where they sit way past their expiration date. It makes it easy to reach what I am looking for because it makes it easy to find what I am looking for. All I do is spin the thing!

002 by groth.alison

Monday, January 28, 2013


Photo Challenge Day 28 - Light

As evidenced by the railing in the bottom left of this photo, my house has a curved staircase. This stained glass window and ledge are in the middle of the curved wall. I was not so fond of this stained glass when I moved into the house but have since grown to like it very much. A window would be terrible there, as it would only show me the second floor exterior of my neighbor's house. But the stained glass allows light in while keeping the neighbor's house out. Sometimes, the light shines through so brightly it throws big rays of golden light into the dining room downstairs and the landing at the top of the stairs.

One thing that immediately grabbed me about this house was all the windows and natural light. There is no need to turn on a single light until the sun is down and the moon is up. I like that very much. 

005 by groth.alison

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Today is about my mother. I miss her so much, so much that when I think about it, when I think about what I am feeling, like right now, it's hard to breathe.

Today is the day my Mom died five years ago. I knew she would die, some day. Of course. That thought was the stuff of many nightmares in my young life. What I didn't think about and didn't know was what life would be like without her. What I would do without answers to my questions, unconditional parental love, the shoulder of support, the advice giving comfort known as Mom. Without her hugs.

I simply never thought of life beyond my Mom. I miss her voice. I miss her perfume. I miss her stubborn streak and her sense of adventure. I miss her belief that nothing was impossible. I miss her celebration and her laughter, her wonderful laughter.

I miss her love. 

I miss her presence even as her absence gains familiarity.

p.s. Today's photo challenge is "Lunch." I don't eat lunch on Sundays. I eat a late breakfast and much later in the day I'll have dinner. No photo today.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brown & Blue

Photo Challenge Day 26 - Color

This challenge just might have been the most challenging for me. When I think of color I think of bright shiny shouting hues of pink or green or yellow. I think of a purple headache. My home is decorated in muted tones of mossy greens, dusty blues, creamy yellows. My closet is filled with blue jeans, white t-shirts and black t-shirts, a few blue shirts. My shoes are black or brown.

Today was an unusual day, a spring-like Saturday in the middle of a calendar winter. A perfect day to take the dogs to the park. And that is where I found my color. Brown dog, brown earth, blue water, blue collar, pink tongue, red tag. Happy dog. My colors.

003 by groth.alison

Friday, January 25, 2013

With my own two hands

Photo Challenge Day 25 - Something you made

Something I made? I could show you the stack of dishes in my kitchen sink. I made that mess. Or, I could snap a photo of the pile of laundry in the laundry room. I made that mess as well.  I was considering one of those when I remembered a little something that sits on a shelf in the office upstairs.

I made this little bowl with my own two hands. It was my first and only time at a pottery wheel. I glazed it and scratched my name into the bottom before it went into the kiln. I was 10 years old, the summer was 1972, and I was at camp for a six-week term that no doubt my parents were thoroughly enjoying.

I was so proud of this little bowl and I was so excited to give it to my parents. On the last day of camp I packed all my belongings in my foot locker and then folded my sheets and blanket, placed them atop my top bunk, put my pillow on top and then set this bowl on top of that before heading out into the morning activities that the camp and campers arranged for the parents.

That afternoon when my parents and I went to my cabin to retrieve my things, my father reached up to grab my bed linens and pillow. He couldn't see that little bowl that I had made and it came crashing down to the hard tile floor. And broke into many pieces. I looked at him and he at me. He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and carefully, oh so carefully, he, mom and I picked up each piece. He gathered them in the handkerchief and told me he would glue it back together when we got back home. And he did. And then he placed the little bowl on a shelf of treasures in his office.

So, something I made. And my father repaired.

004 by groth.alison

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pop Culture

Photo Challenge Day 24 - Guilty Pleasure

Today's challenge was an easy one for me. My favorite guilty pleasure is People Magazine. I don't subscribe to it but I do pick it up whenever I am in the checkout line at the grocery store. Like yesterday, for instance.

I remember the first time I saw People Magazine. I don't know why I remember because it's a memory of no importance but nonetheless I do. I was at the neighbor's house across the street. The kids that lived there, some other neighborhood kids and I had all run into the house to get some water after playing flag football in their front yard. There on the coffee table in their sun room was People Magazine. Farah Fawcett was on the cover. While I was already into music magazines such as Cream and Rolling Stone, I had never seen this one before. I picked up the magazine and flipped through its pages. The oldest kid in the family informed me that it was about stars. Stars, she said. I could see them in her eyes. Putting the magazine back on the table, I rolled my eyes. I could not have cared less about the topic. 

And yet, even though I still do not care, I find that I do enjoy reading this magazine. It's a fun break from my own reality. I like to look at the fashions and there's always a good story on a local hero. I like that this magazine does not take a tear-'em-down approach to the celebrities it covers. I read it at night when I'm too tired to dig into my books. It's light and I like it.

There, I admit it. Guilty.

003 by groth.alison

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tick Tock

Photo Challenge Day 23 - Something Old

This clock. I don't know much about it, never thought to ask when the answer was available to me. It belonged to my parents and for as long as I can remember it has been on one mantle or another in our home. It's a Tiffany & Company clock so I'm inclined to believe it was a wedding gift. But my parents could have inherited it from their parents. I just do not know the story. It does not work. When I brought it to a clock and watch shop a year or so ago for a repair estimate I was told it couldn't be repaired, that the parts for this clock are long gone from any readily available supply they were aware of.  I don't mind that it doesn't work, its part of the clock's mystique.

003 by groth.alison

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Photo Challenge Day 22 - Your shoes

These are the shoes I am wearing today. They are brown, which is unusual for me. I rarely wear them but these jeans are so short that these are the only shoes I can wear with them. That's all I have to say about that.

PhotoChallenge22 by groth.alison

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day

Photo Challenge Day 21 – Reflection
President Obama was inaugurated for his second term as the President of the United States today, which also happens to be the date formally dedicated to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. From the man who lead a monumental movement of civil rights and freedom, from we the people to our chosen leader, truly this day is a reflection of Dr. King’s dream.

004 by groth.alison

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No better friend

Photo Challenge Day 20 - Sweet

This girl, she can show her awesome teeth and growl and kick and scare any stranger. But I laugh when she does because the truth is, she much prefers to flip over on her back and have her belly rubbed. She is the most vicious sweetheart I've ever known and I love every bit of her, including every single tough-girl face she makes. The sweetest gift, she is, my Tiny, Shiny, Wooby cat, Cheyanna banana monster, Pussy cat. Yeah, what she brings to my life is definitely sweet. Aprapos of everything about her.

PhotoChallenge20 by groth.alison

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kit Kat

Photo Challenge Day 19 - Someone you love

She is my niece, the first grandchild, the apple of my eye. Years and years of laughter. Years and years of awe. Years and years of love.

PhotoChallenge19 by groth.alison

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cold & Flu Season

Photo Challenge Day 18 - Something you bought

PhotoChallenge18 by groth.alison

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baby it's cold outside

Photo Challenge Day 17 - Water

Today is the second day of clear blue skies here. Had only this photo prompt been earlier in the week I would have had so very many options, from drips to flows to pours.

Alas, even though science was not my strength, I do know that water is either solid, liquid or gas. Since it froze here last night, I present the solid, or ice state of water.

I'm sure that friends in the northeast would find this photo laughable but this indeed is winter moisture on the ground. Not snow, but a light frost on the grass. Look closely, it is there. This is the winter wonderland of my front yard.

PhotoChallenge17 by groth.alison

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Photo Challenge Day 16 - Morning

My friend Sharon gave me this wind chime for Christmas last year. I hung it on the back porch where it catches and reflects the rising sun. The chimes make the sweetest sounds, such clean and bright music.

The past several mornings have been grey and rainy but not this morning. This morning the sky is blue and the sun is shining. What a joy to see!

PhotoChallenge16 by groth.alison

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A picture in words

Photo Challenge Day 15 - Happiness

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Can words paint a picture? When I read today's prompt, the first thing that came to mind was a memory. If you'll indulge me, my photo today is to share that mind's image in words.

My earliest memory of happiness is clear in my mind, and black and white. I was just a toddler and I had climbed out of my crib and crawled down the hallway towards the living room. My mother was there, ironing and watching the television. I remember looking up at her, the love, the safety, the thrill. When she saw me, she smiled at me with such surprise and joy, such love, and she walked to me and scooped me into her arms. I remember how good that felt, I remember being happy to my toes.

Of that moment, she told me, you were so happy, you just squealed with delight.

I like that memory, that full body memory of being so happy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Night Table

Photo Challenge Day 14 - Something you're reading

Usually I have two books and one or two magazines in my reading rotation. For the past year or so, I've been reading biographies and memoirs and these two books are no exception.  Last night I finished reading Shirley MaClaine's I'm Over All That - And Other Confessions.  Inside these pages, in a series of essays she writes about all those things that have fallen from her list of importance, and several that never will.  She shares personal stories of her life, her home, celebrity, loves, past lives, reincarnation and politics. Hers is a wide open mind and I like that. The book isn't a light read because it is so thought provoking.   

Andrew McCarthy, I have learned, is so much more than the Blane McDonnagh in Pretty in Pink.  His book, The Longest Way Home, takes his readers on his journey of his restless travels -- far and wide across the globe -- that led him ultimately to being able to settle down. He is incredibly self-aware and posesses a tremendous ability to bring his sights and experiences to your mind's eye. I am half way through this one and already wishing it were twice as long.

And then there's Vanity Fair. My friend, Carrie, renewed my subscription for Christmas. I read this pop culture magazine cover to cover. It covers fashion, crime, society, entertainment and politics in well written articles of decent length and usually I've just finished reading one issue when the next arrives in the mail. I like that in a magazine -- heft enough to last me the month.

And there you have it.

PhotoChallenge14 by groth.alison

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In the bag

Photo Challenge Day 13 - In your bag

This is my camera bag. It holds my camera and two lenses and then all this stuff that I hang onto but never use.

PhotoChallenge13 by groth.alison

Day 12 a day late

Photo Challenge Day 12 - Close up

I shot one picture yesterday and this is it. While it is close up, it's not really what I had in mind. Still, I like this photo because I want to look at it later in the year and remember that Fall colors do dot Houston in the middle of winter and they are so pretty among the ever present greens. This tree is almost bare today from the rains and winds last night. 

I was away from the house most of the day yesterday and was too wiped out to upload and post this last night. So, this photo is technically from the challenge day, it's the post that is not.

PhotoChallenge12 by groth.alison

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013


Photo Challenge Day 11 - Where you sleep

At the top of the stairs, two steps up from the landing, through a short  hallway, past some framed family photos, and through a windowed-door, is my bedroom. When I bought this house I thought those windows might bother me but the truth is that I rarely shut that door because Cheyenne sometimes likes to wander the house at night.  That reflection in the door is the stained glass window on the opposite wall along the stairs.

PhotoChallengeDay11 by groth.alison

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winnie the Pooh

Photo Challenge Day 10 - Childhood

One thing came to mind when I read today’s prompt: Winnie the Pooh.  That silly ‘ol bear was such a big part of my early years and, to be honest, he still is part of my life today.

When I was a toddler, my body developed an allergy for a host of things:  Johnson & Johnson products, my mother’s lipstick, long-haired dogs and cats, and stuffed animals. Stuffed animals? My first taste of the bitter in life. What is a typical birthday or Christmas gift to a young child? Stuffed animals. What did I have to do with every stuffed animal I received? Give them to my sister. You cannot imagine the tears. Is it any wonder I learned to love books? Is it any wonder I fell in love with the animals in the 100-acre woods?  Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and of course my favorite Pooh.

My mother would tell a story that she was in a toy store and saw towards the back of a shelf a plastic Winnie the Pooh. He was in a box and the cellophane front had been torn. He was so dusty but he was the perfect gift for you. The lady behind the counter couldn’t believe I wanted him but I knew he was special. 

I don’t remember what birthday that was but maybe my 5th? I wrapped my heart right around him, his glistening eyes, rosy cheeks and his cheerful smile. We became inseparable.  I slept with him every night for years, never minding his hard plastic body, just loving that my best friend was there, always there. This little guy went everywhere with me, even to college (though I no longer slept with him by that time) and he's lived in every house that I have lived in. My mother painted a portrait of him in 1972. I cherish that as well.  Good, it is so very good.

In his early the years, my best friend Pooh took some abuse. My brother burned his upper lip with a cigarette to get me where it hurt over something I had done that he didn’t like. My brother also stabbed him once, which is there is a bandaid is on Pooh’s belly.  That bandaid? Ancient. He was put in the toilet countless times and even hung from the ceiling fan by a rope around his non-existent neck. When people talk about issues they dealt with in their childhood, these are at the top of my list. But I saved him, dried him off, cleaned him up, bandaged his wounds and loved him through it all.
Pooh and I are together still.  He stays on a shelf in my bedroom. His faded and worn face so wonderfully familiar, so reminiscent of my mother’s love, of the Winnie the Pooh connection between us. He is my favorite friend, favorite story. One thousand stuffed animals could never replace him.
PhotoChallenge10 by groth.alison

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Lacing up

Photo Challenge Day 9 - Daily Routine

Today I offer my walking shoes, worn and in need of replacement though they may be. When I read the photo prompt this morning, I laughed. Since I lost my job in 2009, no two days hold the same routine for me. In some ways that has been refreshing and in other ways that has been very challenging. I like routine, like the familiar. Planning each and every day is a bit of a burden. I work for myself now and I've come to find out that that is a whole lot more responsibility than working for another. Some days I work at home and some days I cannot work at home because of the tv, the dogs, the floors that need constant sweeping or just that I am at home and feel like being at home and not working at home. Sometimes I go to my friend's office and work in her conference room and other times I am one of those people who camp out for hours at Starbucks. What is daily routine though is the morning coffee and walking the dogs.

Although perhaps I should have taken a photo of the coffee because it's pouring rain here today and neither the dogs nor I care to take a stroll in all that wetness.

DailyChallenge9 by groth.alison

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Photo Challenge Day 8 - Your Sky

On Sunday evening, the eastern sky was the palest lilac, so soft and delicate a color. It didn’t seem that the same sky could unleash rain or tornados, could be dissected by planes, or take balloons slipped away from little hands, higher, higher. It didn’t seem the sky could support a single feather.

Monday’s sky was bright blue.

Today’s sky is neither of those. Today’s sky is grey like lead and swollen with the rain it holds. Today’s sky is moody and grumbling, wanting to throw down its power over me, as if I didn’t already know it was there. Today’s sky looks like nothing but air splintered by this tree.

PhotoChallenge8 by groth.alison

Monday, January 07, 2013

No surprise

Photo Challenge Day 7 - Favorite

Are words really needed here? I don't think so.

PhotoChallenge7 by groth.alison

Sunday, January 06, 2013


Photo Challenge Day 6 - Makes you smile
This painting my friend Mary Beth made me, this painting makes me smile. It's big, 36" x 18" and the blue "o"s are painted in blue in a nod to my father's eyes. It was a generous gift and it hangs in my hallway between the dining room and kitchen. The memory and the message are clear; and never fail to make me smile.  
PhotoChallenge6 by groth.alison

Saturday, January 05, 2013

You wear it well

Photo Challenge Day 5 - Something you wore

My friends Jacqui and Carrie gave me this scarf for Christmas. It is so very soft and oh so warm and cozy. The weather here has been consistently chilly and rainy so the scarf has not had a chance to see my closet because it is either wrapped around me or hanging on the back of a chair so that I can easily grab it when I walk out the door. Beautiful and functional.

PhotoChallenge5 by groth.alison

Friday, January 04, 2013

It's in the mail

Photo Challenge Day 4 - Letterbox

When I moved into my house in 2010, I had very few changes on my list: new curtains in the living room, painting the powder room, and putting seagrass on the stairs so that Cheyenne wouldn't slip and hurt herself. On the outside, I wanted to do a few things such as plant a couple trees and replace a couple of unruly bushes with Gardenias.

And then there was the mailbox. I like mailboxes. I enjoy looking at the different ones when I walk through the neighborhood. Whether they are on a post or column or wall mounted, I think they should be sturdy and clean with clear numbers. The mailbox on my new house was none of those things. It was rusty and unevenly affixed to the fence with zip ties. It had to go.

When friends asked what I wanted for a housewarming gift, there was only one thing. We looked high and low, in stores and on line, before finding the perfect mailbox for me. I wanted it to be fence-mountable and vertical, made of sturdy material, not too plain or ornate, and be black in color. Finally I found the one I had in my mind at a local hardware and gift store. Mounting it prooved to be quite a challenge as it required drilling into the iron fence rails. Thank goodness for determined friends with special drill bits.

Today's photo prompt was Letterbox. Do people write letters anymore? I don't. I write thank-you notes and mail birthday cards but I don't know the last time I penned an actual letter. I've saved many letters that I have received in my life and I keep them in an old hat box. Perhaps I should have taken a photo of that. But it's my mailbox that came to mind when I read the prompt. My lovely mailbox that receives bills, magazines and catalogs, and the occasional hand written card or thank you note. My lovely mailbox that is partially blocked by the rapidly growing Blue Plumbago. I think I'll be trimming that this afternoon.

PhotoChallenge4 by groth.alison

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Something you adore. Something? Some things. The internal discussion: But you can't adore things. Humans do not feel emotions for things. This dialog sends me to the dictionary for an exact definition. Adore: Verb 1) To love and respect someone deeply; 2) Worship; venerate. And then 3) To be very fond of <adores pecan pie>.  Really? The difference between fond and adore is a level of degree?

I don't remember my exact age at the time but when I was a young girl, I think seven or eight, I stated to my Grandmother that I loved my boots. She countered that I did not love my boots, that I liked them very much. I did love my Grandmother. She taught me how to read and she encouraged the spark of many ideas in my young head. Of course I argued that I did too love my boots. She, in turn, asked me if I loved my pony. Of course I did! She asked if it was the same feeling I had for my boots. No, not at all. She then said to me that humans do not feel love for inanimate objects.

What, I asked, does inanimate mean?

Look it up.

I did, and I understood.

So today's photo-a-day prompt, something you adore, had me furrow-browed because, yes, I am quite capable of making a little bit of nothing into a big deal. Such is life in my mind.

I found a compromise though.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Day 2

Breakfast. That's my photo-a-day challenge topic for today. I suppose I could have snapped the dogs inhaling their food this morning or my warming up their soft food in the microwave because it's cold and I thought it would be a nice treat for them to have a warm meal. But the prompts are interpretive and I opted for my breakfast.

I'm a creature of habit so I will go through long stretches of the same thing before I get bored. For months, breakfast was yogurt and coffee. For months after that, breakfast was a hard of soft boiled egg and coffee. These days, breakfast is a toasted multi-grain english muffin with a bit of reduced fat peanut butter. And, of course, coffee.

That coffee mug is intentionally blurred since I was playing around with depth-of-field, but it says New York all over it in different fonts and sizes. I bought it when I took my mother to New York for her birthday in 2006. It's a simple thing, just a mass produced inexpensive tourist item, but it makes me smile to have it, to remember where and when I bought it.

The most important meal of the day. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Ah, here we are in the first day of the new year.  It's a dreary one here, chilly and wet from the rains last night and this morning. I like it like this, it's quiet outside, a gentle beginning. Inside, I have a fire burning in the fireplace, Cheyenne is snoring beside me on the couch and Dixie is curled up asleep on Cheyenne's bed that she has taken over for herself. The Tournament of Roses Parade is on the tv. I'm in my comfy pajamas and I intend to stay in them all day, even when I go to my friend's house later on for cabbage, black-eyed peas and some champagne. For now though, the front door open to the cool and quiet outside, the snoring dogs and the parade add up to a perfect New Year's Day morning, by design.

Also by design is a photo-a-day challenge I've opted to participate in this month. Day One's challenge: Me. I offer you a snapshot of myself taken in the living room mirror shortly after waking up. This one not so much to stretch any photography skills but to launch myself into the challenge, which I am doing because I want a daily prompt to launch myself back into this blog.

So, with that, here's me this morning, New Year's Day 2013. Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope it is one that sees you closer to your dreams. See you tomorrow!