FAVE: Under the ocean in Fiji

30 01 2012

Thanks to my friend, Jeff, for forwarding this link to me. Turn your sound up, sit back, and marvel! (Then tell me it doesn’t make you want to learn to scuba dive.)





FAVE: Ashley’s DIY slate cheeseboard

30 01 2012

How cute (and inexpensive) is this idea? Click here for directions on how to make it. Thanks for sharing, Ashley (of Sugar & Cloth)!





Save the date and mark your calendars for Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio

30 01 2012

My photography exhibit, titled “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will be at the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. It runs February 28-April 29, 2012, so there’s plenty of time to come see it if you’re in the Virginia/D.C. area or are planning to visit this spring.

My reception is Sunday, April 15. So set aside your taxes (if you’re not already done with them at that point!) and come join me at the reception from 1-3 p.m. for some mingling, appetizers and refreshments.

All images will be for sale and 15% of proceeds will go to Green Spring Gardens. I will be preparing a complete gallery of images from the show in late spring. Framed images and matted-only images will be available for purchase after the show as well. Contact me at dyerdesign@aol.com for sizes and pricing.

The website below was done by my friend and fellow graphic designer, Sonya Mendeke. For more info, visit http://smendeke.com/.

For those of you who live too far to attend but would like a sneak preview
of just some of the images in the show, visit my
 “virtual exhibit” at 





R.I.P. Spot

29 01 2012

My prehistoric looking pleco, Spot, left me for bluer pastures last night. A hand-me-down, pass-along pet from my friend, Rob, Spot was a sort of aquatic mascot at Rob’s office with Pepco Power in D.C. for many years. Rob estimated that Spot was at least a decade or older before he brought him home. After a major kitchen remodel where Spot didn’t match the decor anymore, Rob asked if I wanted to take over nurturing duties. I was up for the new challenge and you can learn more about Spot, “the $500 free fish,” here.

Spot came to live in my studio sometime in 2007, so I had the unique pleasure of caring for him for more than five years. Rob and I estimate he was probably more than 12 years old when I inherited him, so it would be safe to say he lived to be at least 18-20 years old, possibly even legal drinking age. (I just called Rob to tell him of Spot’s demise and he estimated that Spot was probably well into his 20s). Spot grew substantially in my care, measuring exactly 17″ long when he departed this realm last night.

Ah, Spot, suffice it to say that you will be missed. I’ll miss your gentle nature, imposing prehistoric presence, tank-sucking headstands, and robust swimming spurts when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Below is a photo I shot of Spot doing one of his infamous foraging headstands with a backdrop of goldfish, long since gone.





FAVE: Bruce Munro’s “Field of Light” projects

28 01 2012

I just discovered Bruce Munro‘s lighting art through French gardener Delphine’s blog here. While all of his work is amazing, his outdoor and garden installations are breathtaking! Learn more about Field of Light® here and see more photos of installations here.





What are they? Gold-filled?

28 01 2012

I’m not overly fond of Michael’s craft stores in general (they’re only reasonably priced when you use a coupon and they vary their clearance markdowns on the exact same item from store to store, which is so frustrating), but sometimes they’re the most convenient place to shop for craft supplies. I liked them much better when they used to let you use the coupons on books. They changed that policy several years ago, unfortunately. My preference is Hobby Lobby, but the closest one to me is an hour away (and they let you use their coupons on anything as long as it’s not already on sale, including those overpriced crafting magazines).

While we’re on the subject of prices—look at the regular price and the clearance price on these glass beads. Save a whole $1.50 on these gems today! (Photo shot with Michael’s iPhone)





Sue’s spectacular sunrise

27 01 2012

On our last night on the long road from San Antonio to Virginia, we spent the night with our friends, Sue and Steve, in Huntsville, AL. We arrived at Sue’s house at almost midnight and set the alarm to get up by 6:30. I really didn’t want to get out of that comfortable bed, but when I caught a glimpse of this gorgeous pink and yellow sunrise from the guest room window, I was propelled out of bed to get this shot. Who needs sleep when there are scenes to record like this?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lake Lavon

27 01 2012

I shot this image of a part of Lake Lavon as we were leaving my younger sister’s home in Wylie, TX on Tuesday morning, en route from San Antonio back to Virginia. Despite recent rains, the lake is still 12 feet below normal. At its deepest, the lake is only 40-45 feet deep. The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) receives raw water supplies from Lavon Lake, Jim Chapman Lake, Lake Texoma, Lake Tawakoni, and Lake Bonham for treatment and distribution to the region served. The North Texas Municipal Water District serves hundreds of thousands of North Texans. Learn more about the effects of drought on Lake Lavon here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Craft Studio: Earrings for Debbie

23 01 2012

I made these for my sister, Debbie, a few days ago. I hold her, as well as her friend Diana (who invited us over to her home to learn how to do crochet wire and bead necklaces last March) responsible for this beading kick I’ve been off and on since then (as if I really needed another hobby?). For these pieces, the bead types include resin, lampwork, Czech glass, porcelain, pewter, glass pearls, polished stone, hematite, abalone shell and wood.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The (not so) Orphaned Images Project: Kindergarten graduation day

22 01 2012

From kindergarten through fourth grade I lived in San Antonio on 155 Farrell Drive in a little white ranch style house. My dad closed in our tiny carport to make a den (and did the same thing in the next house) so we would have more room. Our front porch was long and narrow, flanked by a low brick flower bed full of deep purple Wandering Jew plants.

Directly across the street lived “Aunt Opal.” I’m not sure why we called her “Aunt,” because she wasn’t a relative to any of us in the class or on Farrell Drive. She operated a kindergarten out of her home and had 11 kids enrolled when I attended. She, along with my father, were the first two people to encourage me to draw when they saw my creative potential. I remember one of my first drawing assignments was to draw a rose using colored pencils. Aunt Opal showed us how to draw the petals with a series of crescent moon shapes grouped together. I think I still have that drawing somewhere—temporarily misplaced in a safe place completely unknown to even me, of that I’m sure.

At left is my class graduation photo. I’m in the front row, second from the left, with my mouth hanging open. I certainly don’t look like the brightest of her students, but I’d truly like to believe I was. (Girls in front—as it should be!)

Aunt Opal wore June Cleaver-like, flowered dresses in polished cotton, accessorized with a single strand of pearls, big pearl button earrings, and dark cat-eye glasses. She had perfectly coiffed hair, sparkling blue eyes and looked a bit like the TV character Hazel. She always drank Tab after school was let out for the day. I know this because I shared one with her on more than one occasion while waiting for my mother to come home from work to walk me from school across the street to our house. Ah, my first diet cola—let’s blame Aunt Opal for our affinity for them now, shall we?

After driving by that house a few years ago, I blogged about 155 Farrell Drive in “Pressed between the pages of my mind,” here. You can read about how my younger sister and I staged pool parties in our back yard, sold lemonade to neighbor children and how I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was eight years old. That same plant-filled brick flower bed was where one Valentine’s Day, my classmate, Darren, dropped off a box of chocolate for me, rang the doorbell, then ran away. I’ve been scaring boys away ever since!

I was taken back to that time again recently when I came across the two photos below in a dresser drawer in my parent’s guest room. Now you get to see that Aunt Opal was just as I had described her—perfect coif, polished pearls, sensible pumps and all. Below that photo, I’m on our front porch in front of the flower box, proudly holding my first diploma.

Want to learn more about The Orphaned Images Project? Learn about the origin of the project here. Visit the site at  http://orphanedimages.wordpress.com/





FAVE: Literary classics poster-ized

20 01 2012

Yesterday I received a lovely comment from blogger Ben Cohen-Leadholm. Ben’s website, My Family Activities, “helps parents claim their mojo through family activities that don’t suck.” Do check out his site if you have children and have, as Ben frames it, “pretty much stopped growing as a person independent of your children.” The site showcases a plethora of interesting family activities as well as great interviews with parents who have “kept their mojo intact” despite having children.

In his comment on this blog, Ben sent me links items that he thought might be of interest to me and I really loved this one—posters with great works of literature dropped into a silhouette shape pertaining to that particular subject. I also like the clever name of the UK company that produces them—Spineless Classics. Click “browse” on their site to see the many other titles available. Below are The House of the Baskervilles and Peter Pan.

I am so bookmarking this site! (I can order every one of them when I win a lottery and build a house where the library takes up half of the square footage. I’m off to buy a ticket because, in the words of Ed McMahon, “remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter!”)

Check out Ben’s review of this wonderful product on his website here. I wish I had the space to include several in my library—but that would entail getting rid of bookcases and books in order to make room for them!

Below is Ben’s comment, along with other links he suggested. Thanks for the comment and the links, Ben. I’m adding your site to my blogroll.

What a terrific site, Cindy! So glad to have found it. You have wonderful taste and a great diversity of interests. My main focus is fun, unique family activities, but I also keep an eye out for compelling design that’s relevant to parents. Here are some things I thought might interest you: great works of literature on single poster sheet, beautiful and crafty wall murals for kids’ rooms, impressive pirate ship kids’ room. Thanks again for sharing your own content! Love it! Cheers, Ben





Autumn Johnson’s debut in Hearing Loss Magazine

19 01 2012

I photographed Autumn Johnson this past fall to build up my hearing-related stock photo file. Leslie Lesner, an audiologist and owner of Lesner Hearing Center in Alexandria, graciously help us set up the shots in her office and she also modeled for me. I also got shots of several of my favorite subjects (Hannah, Margot and Karen) getting their hearing tested, being shown various models of hearing aids and getting fitted for hearing aids. The images will be used in the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine and other materials for the Hearing Loss Association of America.

In this shot below, Autumn is getting her hearing tested by Leslie. The shot was used to illustrate the feature article, Getting it Right the First Time: Best Hearing Aid Practices by author Brad Ingrao, AuD.

From the small world department: When Autumn and her mother, Virginia, arrived at Leslie’s office, they realized that Leslie had actually been one of Autumn’s audiologists during her hearing loss diagnosis many years ago!

A literary nod: Autumn’s mother, Virginia Johnson, is a librarian at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. She and co-author Barbara Crookshanks wrote Virginia Horse Racing: Triumphs of the Turf, published by The History Press in 2008 and reprinted in 2011. Read more about their book here and order it on Amazon here.





Re-post: Rhymes with orange

19 01 2012

Originally posted January 30, 2009

For several months now I’ve been trying to catalog my images better, bit by bit (there are thousands and thousands of photos). While organizing my garden photos folder I noticed that I have a plethora of orange-hued flowers so I put together this collage of all things orange-ish to brighten your winter day.

Tangerine. Coral. Day-glow orange. Push-up popsicle orange. Sunset. Pumpkin. 70s shag carpet orange (I did window display at a department store while in college and there was multi-shaded orange shag carpet in each window. Do you know how hard it is to design around that color scheme? I covered it up every chance I got—with a decorating budget of zilch, unfortunately. I asked for $5 once for a huge set of markers and my boss freaked out).

Orange peel. Safety orange. Salmon (did you know that the “l” in salmon is silent? The correct pronunciation is “sam-uhn.” Don’t believe me? Click here).

Frou-frou-big-bowed-bridesmaid-dress-apricot (yes, I had to wear one once upon a time).

Carrot. Persimmon. Vermilion. Orange-red. Rusty can orange. Burnt orange. Tomato. Panama Brown orange (the color Dad insists his old diesel VW Rabbit was—sorry, Dad, it was orange).

After a week of designing at the computer in a cold basement, pausing only to look out at winter gray skies (save for that remarkable sunset on Wednesday), I needed a jolt of color to inspire me. What better color than orange?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

rhymeswithorange





Re-post: Photographs? Well, not technically.

18 01 2012

Originally posted 1.28.2010 and 1.28.2011

A few years ago I dabbled in scanning flowers on my Epson flatbed scanner and got some pretty good results. The technique works best if you can cover the flower arrangement with a dark piece of fabric or black cardboard. While the original images were nice “record” shots of my flowers, I wanted to do something more with them. I ran the scanned images through some artsy Photoshop filters to give them a romantic, soft-focus glowy look. So there you have it…photographs without a camera!

Not long after I toyed with the process, I saw an exhibit of photographer Robert Creamer’s images at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. These large-scale works were amazing! He scanned all sorts of things—dead birds, flowers, fruit, bones, and more. You can read more about his Smithsonian exhibit here and see more of his work on his website here. Watch the video here for a demonstration of his setup.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





“Caged” gems

17 01 2012

My friend Paula and I learned how to make these whimsical earrings in a workshop last spring with the Gem Cutters Guild of Baltimore. We spent the day at the workshop in Baltimore while Michael and our friend Karen went museum-hopping and had lunch. It also happened to be Karen’s birthday that day, so we were to meet up with them (as well as Paula’s husband, Ken) later for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the Inner Harbor.

Our instructor had us work with sterling silver wire (an extra $25 materials fee due to this!). In the class we also learned how to make earring wires, headpins (see the coiled headpin in the earrings below? I hammered the coil flat on an anvil to create this look), necklace and bracelet clasps, and a coiled wire ring. The earring wires shown here were commercially made and provided for the project. This is the only pair I’ve made so far, but with the instructor’s detailed printouts, I think I can tackle it again. It was amazing to see how some simple coiling techniques could make such a cool pair of earrings!

I found this youtube video here that shows how to make the caged beads like we did.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





You are cordially invited to Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio

15 01 2012

Mark your calendar! My first exhibit in umpteen years will run from Tuesday, February 28 until Sunday, April 29, 2012. The show will be on the ramp in the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. I’ll be hanging the show on the morning of February 27 but I’m making the official start date as February 28. The show will be dismantled on the morning of April 30, so my end date is April 29.

The show reception will be held from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, 2012 in the Horticulture Center. Appetizers and beverages will be prepared by Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality (also known as the Sneeze Guard Heiress.)

Artwork will be available for purchase (both matted and framed as well as matted and ready to frame by you!).

I’ll be re-posting this announcement regularly as a reminder to mark your calendars and will include updates and additional information leading up to the big event. If you can’t join me for the reception, you have two months (that’s a lot of days!) to get over to Green Spring Gardens to see the show.

For those of you who don’t live nearby and can’t make it, I’ll be preparing an online “virtual gallery” so you can experience the show from afar, so stay tuned. Thank you to everyone for your support!





Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy’s here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





Seen & Heard: Sam Spritzer

14 01 2012

Sam Spritzer, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made his Seen & Heard profile debut in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Seen & Heard is a new column in our magazine and we had 48 members get enthusiastically involved in our first outreach effort! We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine. Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler, Judy Martin and Anne Taylor.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

My favorite answer? Sam finished the statement “How I want to be remembered…” with “a statue in front of Williamsville Town Hall!”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MY HEARING LOSS… I was born deaf but my parents didn’t know it until I was three years old. I was implanted in 2007 and 2008.

SAGE ADVICE… Quitting is not an option!

FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I was watching tv in the family room and heard what sound like a gas-powered generator. It was so loud that it drowned out the sound of the tv. Finally, I had enough and asked my wife if she knew where the sound was coming from so I could go over and complain or something. Her response…the sound was crickets in the trees in the backyard.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE I WANTED TO BE A… veterinarian.

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY… My first pet—a beagle named Mickey

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE WAS… run a 5K race.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… Dave Brubeck and Led Zeppelin.

IN MY SPARE TIME I… run foot races and will begin my quest to riding bike races, and then combine the two.

HAPPINESS IS… finding God and my family

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… bodyguard, coffee boy, porter, photographer, hugger

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… Listening Closely.

I AM… funny, out of this world and older than dirt.

MY FRIENDS WOULD SAY I AM… funny, weird, sensitive

MY KIDS HAVE TAUGHT ME… what I was like when I was their age. Now, I couldn’t have been that bad!

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? The cochlear implant! Need I say more?

I HAVE A FEAR OF… heights. The only thing that will get and keep me up there is an airplane.

I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT… God, my family and my CIs.

MY FAVORITE POSSESSIONS… Bike, camera, running shoes

WHAT IS THE KINDEST THING ANYONE HAS DONE FOR YOU? The love and outpour when I had my heart attack two years ago

I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED… with a statue in front of Williamsville Town Hall!

I love that Hearing Loss Magazine brings us the broad wealth of information about hearing loss. The stories about people with some form of hearing loss, how they live with it and overcome it is just totally inspirational. I would like to see more of those stories and less of the technical/educational. The latter can easily be found on the Internet.





Seen & Heard: Anne Taylor

14 01 2012

Anne Taylor, a member of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), made her Seen & Heard profile debut in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which just arrived in member mailboxes. Seen & Heard is a new column in our magazine and we had 48 members get enthusiastically involved in our first outreach effort! We’ll be publishing one or two profiles (as space allows) in each issue of the bimonthly magazine. Other members previously profiled were Danielle Nicosia, John Kinstler and Judy Martin.

One of Anne’s answers was really original. When asked to “Name something you have in your home that you are sure most people don’t,” she answered: “My husband!”

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MY HEARING LOSS… A teacher noticed I was hard of hearing when I was six years old. I have worn hearing aids all my life until two years ago. I received my first cochlear implant in August 19, 2009 and my second one on September 1, 2010.

SAGE ADVICE… Just know that you are one of approximately 36 million Americans with some level of hearing loss. Join a support group (e.g., HLAA) for information exchange.

MY FUNNY HEARING LOSS MOMENT… I thought God’s name was “Harold.” (Hallowed be thy name)

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE… an airline stewardess.

THE FIRST THING I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY… clothes

THE HARDEST THING I’VE EVER DONE… was admit that I had a hearing loss.

I LOVE THE SOUND OF… the patter of rain, the click of a switch and my husband’s voice.

IN MY SPARE TIME, I… study in a peer mentoring program,work out, play tennis and travel.

I DEFINITELY AM NOT… stupid because I lost my hearing.

HAPPINESS IS… hearing again with cochlear implants.

I MISS… my family in England.

PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT I… maintain tennis courts.

WORKING NINE TO FIVE… I was a French teacher, a barmaid and in the British Civil Service.

MUSIC TO MY EARS… “Imagine,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and the “Sound of Silence”

LITERARY FAVES… 10,000 Puns, Water for Elephants, The Girl Who Played With Fire

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… The GIrl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

FAVORITE MOVIES… Cadence, On Golden Pond, Rainman

I AM… sympathetic, nice and friendly.

MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME… to knit.

MY FATHER TAUGHT ME… to play cards.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? Cochlear implants!

NAME SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU ARE SURE MOST PEOPLE DON’T… My husband!

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Coming out of the deaf closet

I love reading about other people’s success stories in Hearing Loss Magazine.





Tina & Tom Hamblin: Taking the Plunge

14 01 2012

Tina and Tom Hamblin are featured on the cover of the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

HLAA member Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue of the magazine. Learn how I found Abbie here. Read about her Hearing Loss Magazine debut here and see the fun glamour shots I did of her and her cousin Patty after our cover photo session here. See some of the wedding photos I shot of their wedding at the Sayen House and Gardens in Hamilton, New Jersey here, here, and here.

I first met Tina and Tom when they arrived for their engagement photo session at my favorite location to shoot, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA this past spring. After we did our portraits around the garden, Tom started doing cartwheels (he’s a gymnastics coach) and I captured him in full motion—making it the first time I’ve ever photographed someone doing anything gymnastic. I captured him in his wedding finery doing some handstands and cartwheels on his wedding day as well!

My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland. They were blessed with a truly beautiful fall day in a lovely setting alongside the Chesapeake Bay. I’ll be posting a full collage of images from that event shortly, so stay tuned!

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. “Taking the plunge,” the title of their article, refers to both the  turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage.

They were introduced to each other by Fran, a CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) reporter whom Tina met while attending Towson University. Fran told Tina about Tom and suggested they meet. They became fast friends and in late 2005, Tom asked Tina to attend the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point Park in Annapolis in January 2006. According to Tina, “I accepted because I wanted to watch Tom plunge in the freezing water. However, he told me that no spectators were allowed—which I later found out wasn’t true! Basically he was telling me that I had to also take the plunge in the freezing water. So, I called his bluff and went with him, took the plunge, and raised some money for the Special Olympics. Tom and I went out on a date that night and we have been together ever since!” Tina is a bilateral cochlear implant wearer and Tom wears hearing aids. He proposed to her two days before her first cochlear implant surgery.

The cover photo is an image I shot at Green Spring Gardens last spring that they used it as their engagement portrait. I think they did a great job on their collaborative writing effort and we’re very pleased to feature them in the magazine.

You can find Tina blog’s at www.yougottabelievehonornot.blogspot.com and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog is at tumbletech11.blogspot.com. They can be reached via e-mail at hamblinfamily@ymail.com.

Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature





Austin sky

13 01 2012

I know I’ve said it, but I’ll say it again (and again): Texas (at least for this cloud-crazed photographer) remains undefeated for stellar sky displays, hands down. There’s an amazing show virtually every day!

Photographed overlooking downtown Austin, 1.04.2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Chinese Maple leaf canopy

13 01 2012

Mark your calendars for March-April 2012 for my exhibit!
This will be my first art exhibit since college days (way back when!), so I’m very excited. The exhibit will be in the Horticulture Center in the park. The reception isn’t until Sunday, April 15, from 1-3 p.m., but the show runs all of March and April, so if you’re in the area, that’s ample time to stop by and see the show if you live nearby or plan to be in the Washington, D.C. / Northern Virginia area during that time!

Green Spring Gardens is conveniently located off of 395, at 4603 Green Spring Road in Alexandria, VA 22312. The Horticulture Center is open weekdays from  9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 12 – 4:30 p.m. Parking is free and the park closes at dusk.

All works will be for sale, with a portion of proceeds going to Green Spring Gardens. I also plan to have unframed and matted images available for sale during the reception. The show consists of 12×12 images, 12×18 images and 8×12 images, all matted and framed for the show. I’ll also have more than a dozen gallery wrap canvas transfer images (a very contemporary look with no framing needed!), ranging in size from 12×18 to 20×30.

Stay tuned to this blog for an announcement of my show website with more details and a sneak preview of some of the images that will be featured. The website will also include ordering information if you’d like to purchase an image (whether matted/framed or matted/ready to frame) but can’t come see the show in person.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Saturday night beading marathon

9 01 2012

My sister Debbie hosted an all-night beading party this weekend. All but one beader stayed past midnight to help usher in Debbie’s birthday on Sunday morning. We started at 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon and disbanded after 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning! I made all of these earrings, plus a few more pairs as well as started a crochet silk thread and bead necklace (still unfinished because I got distracted by making all these earrings!).

You must forgive the rudimentary lighting on these pieces—they were lit with what I had available: a torchiere lamp, the dining table overhead lamp and a small flashlight. I also only brought over my little Nikon Coolpix L110 and set it on macro mode (with very good results). Debbie’s friend, Karen, served as my trusty photo assistant and was the lucky recipient of all the pieces below except the square green earrings. I made them specifically for her partly because she said she didn’t think she would look good with “dangly” earrings (she does) and partly because she re-sorted an entire box of my beads that I turned over onto the tile floor (no, not intentionally), scattering tiny baubles to the four corners of the room. How could I not reward her after that fiasco? After she said that she thought dangling earrings made her look like a “lady of the evening,” I asked her if dangling earrings were the only thing that she thought would separate her from being either a working mom or a working girl. I looked under the table to see her wearing low-heel preppy moccasins, and told her she didn’t have appropriate shoes for the latter profession, so it was safe for her to wear the earrings. We got several miles of laughs out of the dangling earrings–working girl scenario.

We didn’t have the lighting down pat for the top two earrings (shadows are way too prominent), but figured it out after that. Fun was had by all but I must confess that I barely made a dent in my bead stash. Beaders Anonymous, anyone?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Kato in repose

8 01 2012

This is one of Brian and Shirley’s cats. Every time I came into the living room, he was sitting in some human-like position in this big chair, so I had an obligation to photograph him. In the top photo, all that’s missing is the remote control!

© Cindy Dyer. All right reserved.





Urban cowboy

8 01 2012

Presenting my father, a.k.a. the King of Texas

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A meeting of creative minds

8 01 2012

On Wednesday morning I drove from San Antonio to Austin to visit my friends Brian and Shirley Loflin. The next day I had the pleasure of lunch at P.F. Chang’s in Austin on Thursday with four fellow creatives.

BRIAN LOFLIN
Brian is my former boss, photography mentor and friend of more than 25 years. He is a freelance photographer and photography instructor in Austin and his career spans more than four decades in the advertising, aviation, bio-medical and publishing industries. Brian is past president of the Minnesota Nature Photographers and founder and current president of the Austin Shutterbug Club. He is a photography instructor in the Informal Classes program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Brian and his wife, Shirley, actively teach and conduct seminars and workshops in many areas of photography. They authored, produced and photographed Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and Texas Cacti, two photographic field guides for Texas A&M University Press and available at most booksellers. They have just completed text and photography for their next book, Texas Wildflower Vistas and Hidden Treasures, also by Texas A&M University Press.

Visit Brian’s natural science photography blog here. You’ll find his commercial work here. In his other business, The Nature Connection, he provides photography and digital imaging services to biologists, professionals, educators and others involved in the natural sciences. He is also available for workshops, seminars and presentations, as well as group and one-on-one training in nature photography, macro/close-up photography, beginning digital photography, field photography and composition and light.

STEVEN SCHWARTZMAN
Austin photographer Steven Schwartzman began his blog, Portraits of Wildflowers, just eight months ago. He commented on my blog many months ago and we formed a sort of mutual admiration society and have kept in touch ever since. His work is beautiful and many times I have said to myself, “I would have shot that one just like he did.” I think that his style, composition and capture of light is so similar to mine.

I e-mailed him when I left Virginia and asked if he would like to get together for lunch when I came up to Austin. It was then that I discovered that he also knew Brian through the Austin Shutterbug Camera Club and the Native Plant Society. He said he was surprised to learn, via my blog posts last March after I visited Brian in Austin for a Joe McNally / Dave Hobby workshop on the Flash Bus Tour, that I had known Brian for more than 20 years!

Steven’s photography has been published numerous times in Texas Highways magazine. In 2007, his photograph of a basket-flower was one of a hundred finalists in Parade magazine’s photo contest on the theme “Celebrate America’s Beauty.” In 2009 and 2010, he was commissioned to provide all the photographs and text for three laminated wildflower guides for Quick Reference Publishing. He has contributed more than 200 photographs to the native plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. His other interests include natural foods and language. I particularly enjoy his fascination with words in his other blog, Spanish-English Word Connections. He has written an excellent tutorial about his photography techniques on his blog here.

From Steven’s blog:
I grew up on Long Island and went to college at Columbia University, where I majored in French. Upon graduation I spent 1968 and 1969 as a Peace Corps math teacher in Honduras; I learned that I was good not only at math (which I knew) but also at teaching it (which I’d had no reason to suspect). It was also in Honduras that I learned the rudiments of photography and got my first “real” camera, a Pentax Spotmatic. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I did a fair amount of art photography and eventually published three books of 3-D infrared photographs. The combination of 3-D and black-and-white infrared was an unusual one but I was fond of it, at least in part because it was unique. My book
Bodies of Light won an award from the Printing Industries of America in 1981.

I moved to Austin on July 6, 1976, two days after my birthday and the 200th anniversary of American independence. In my early years in Texas I did some landscape photography, still primarily in black and white infrared. I was an early adopter of digital photography: in 1999 I launched into a project to produce a photographic CD documenting the Austin area. In the process, I grew increasingly aware of and captivated by the many species of native plants that grow here; they became and remain my primary photographic subject.

It was such a treat being able to meet Steven in person. He is the first fellow blogger I’ve officially met in person and likewise for him! I’m hoping to be able to do a mini photo field trip with Steven in Austin before I head back to Virginia later this month.

SONYA MENDEKE
Sonya Mendeke, a freelance print and web designer living in Austin, is my former college classmate, one-time roommate and lifelong friend. You can see her design work on her newly-redesigned website here. Her hobbies include painting, sculpting and photography. You can see her graphic design work here. She also created whimsical and colorful paper clay “Bugs with Attitude” as well as birdhouses and plant pots.

During our lunch, I shared one of my favorite memories of Sonya. When we were both in college, I lived with her in a large two-bedroom apartment not far from the university. Both of us made extra spending money by doing odd freelance illustration jobs. At some point Sonya connected with a cattleman who wanted her to do drawings of his prize sire bulls for a catalog he was publishing. She showed him her portfolio and one of her illustrations was done in an illustration method called stippling. Wikipedia identifies stippling as “the creation of a pattern simulating varying degrees of solidity or shading by using small dots. … the dots are made of a pigment of a single colour, applied with a pen or brush; the denser the dots, the darker the apparent shade—or lighter, if the pigment is lighter than the surface.” Folks, we’re talking thousands upon thousands of dots to create one illustration. Thousands.

The cattleman loved the stippling style and asked her to replicate it on at least a dozen or more illustrations. She recalls being offered something like $300 for the project. Since we’re talking early 80s, I’m quite certain it wasn’t $300 per illustration. It was most likely that much for the entire portfolio of drawings. With dollars signs in her twinkling brown eyes, Sonya jumped into the project immediately.

It wasn’t long before I heard sailor-worthy words muttered from her bedroom studio, occasionally drowned out only by the never-ending tap-tap-tap of her trusty India-ink-filled Rapidograph pen. Night after night I would find her, mechanical pen in one hand, cigarette in the other, endless cups of coffee nearby, stippling into the wee hours of the morning—exhausted, hopped up on caffeine and almost losing her (creative) mind. The illustrations were wonderful and she did get paid. Afterward, check in hand, she vowed she would never stipple again, no matter what the compensation. I’m sure that, to this day, she still hears the tap-tap-tap sounds deep in her subconscious. In addition to the stippling method, I doubt that she is so fond of things bovine either.

Two years ago, Sonya was interviewed in a video by Roy Gatling and Austin-Artists.com. You can view that video, Saving the earth, one piece of art at a time, here. Roy Gatling is Senior Manager, Project Management at Dell and the husband of another of my college classmates, Maria Gatling, also an Austin artist. Roy and Maria are the co-founders of Austin-Artists.com and Austin-Architecture.com. Check out Maria’s self-published notebook and workshop titled, Be Inspired—Creative Something Every Day, here and her creativity blog here.

PHIL CHARLTON
Phil is a friend of Brian’s and a professional photographer in Austin. He specializes in architectural interiors, but shoots beautiful landscapes and fine art images as well. I especially love his images of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (at left). The chapel looks very much like Garvan Woodland Gardens’ Anthony Chapel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which I photographed a few years ago on a road trip with my friend Sue.

From Phil’s zenfolio site
(www.philcharlton.zenfolio.com):
I am a native Oklahoman with a Cherokee heritage. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1966 with a double major in math and physics, I moved to Texas where I entered the space industry at NASA. During my 17 years at NASA I worked in the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs designing and testing many systems essential to space exploration.

I left NASA for a second career in the computer business. I held positions at Compaq and Dell before taking early retirement. It was during my NASA years that a friend influenced me to buy a professional quality camera and that led to my current interest as a professional photographer.

My wife Amanda and I have lived in the Austin area for the past 18 years. We enjoy traveling the world and have visited many exotic locales such as Belize, South and Eastern Africa, United Kingdom, Peru, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Canada. The beautiful sites of these distant lands are inspirational to my photography.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Self portrait, Texas sky

7 01 2012

Photograph taken near the town of Poth in Wilson County, Texas

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Desktop poetry: Unfurled

4 01 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A server by any other name…

3 01 2012

This is most likely going to be one of those you-had-to-have-been-there or a part-of-the-Dyer-family-to-get-a-kick-out-of-it stories, but I’m going to tell it anyway.

My dad and I were having a very late afternoon lunch at a Luby’s Cafeteria in San Antonio on New Year’s Day. Dad had gumbo soup and the tea server/waiter (a man in his 30s, I’m guessing) came by and asked him if he wanted crackers. Dad said no, but later he motioned the server over and said he would take them after all. The server came back, dropped off crackers, and went on his merry way.

When we finished eating, my dad mentioned that he would like to leave a tip for him, but he only had a $20 bill and that seemed a bit exorbitant for someone just bringing crackers. I pulled out two dollars and set them down. My dad said, “motion Homer over here and give him his tip.” I was a little mortified. I was not going to call the guy Homer!

Here’s the scoop on that name—whenever my dad doesn’t know someone’s name or wants to assign a name to someone, he uses the old-fashioned name, Homer. When someone cuts him off in traffic, he’ll say, “way to go Homer,” or when he wants his grandson Brennan to bring him something, he’ll call him Homer (my nephew thinks he’s referring to Homer Simpson). I wasn’t about to call this guy Homer because that wasn’t his name, so I just ignored my dad’s prompt, hoping he would forget.

He motioned the guy over and said, “this is for bringing me crackers, Homer.” I held my breath, watching the man’s face to see if he was puzzled or offended. He picked up the two dollars and said, “Thanks! Happy New Year to you both!” and walked away. As he walked off, I got a quick glance of his name tag. I’ll give you three guesses what the guy’s name was (and the first two don’t count).

Yes, you guessed it—the guy’s name was actually Homer! As we got up from the table, I told my dad that I thought he was just being rude by assigning his generic “Homer” to the guy. We got a good laugh out of that and figured the odds of that happening again are astronomical.

Sigh. It takes so very little to amuse me. 😉





My official 2011 annual report from WordPress

3 01 2012

WordPress prepared a 2011 annual report for my blog. Kinda neat!

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.