Curious Queso

17 03 2016

I was on the phone a few days ago and was absentmindedly fiddling with one of my dangling earrings. Queso came running and I got these shots of him–mesmerized by these shiny, moving things. Photos shot with my iPhone 6 (and yes, I was on the speaker phone and managed to get these shots at the same time. Creative multi-tasking, I call it). Borders added in Snapseed app (my go-to app these days; love it!) I am constantly amazed at the level of quality of phone snapshots and I use mine all the time for fun projects. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up my pro camera(s) anytime soon.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Queso Earrings Pounce





Just in time for spring…

6 03 2016

RE-POST: In spring 2012, I had my first botanical photography exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA. Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality (who is also the editor-in-chief and my partner with Celebrate Home Magazine), did a phenomenal job of catering the reception in mid-April. There wasn’t a crumb left of anything when the event was over!

Barbara shares her yummy recipes and party tips in “Inspired by the Garden: Garden Muse Tea Reception,” in the summer issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Barbara and I published four issues of Celebrate Home Magazine as a personal project in 2012-2013.

I am forever grateful to her for all her hard work and very major contributions to that very special day! Special thanks to Hollace Goodman, who served as catering assistant, for her work as well. Special thanks Ed Fagan of Columbia Photography and Margot Juliette Storch for photographing the event for us. I recapped the event on this blog in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-1/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/scenes-from-an-exhibit-reception-part-2/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/more-scenes-from-a-reception-for-garden-muse-a-botanical-portfolio/

View the issue as reader spreads (my favorite!):

CHM Summer 2013 Spreads

View the issue as single pages (suitable for printing out the recipes):

CHM Summer 2013 Single Pages

Splurge and purchase a beautiful print copy on magcloud.com (no markup; at cost + shipping):

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/600404

Help us spread the word! Share Celebrate Home Magazine with your family and friends.

CHM Garden Reception

 





Celebrate Home Magazine: Spring!

6 03 2016

It’s almost spring and I thought I’d share the spring issue of Celebrate Home Magazine again. Barbara Kelley and I created this magazine in 2012-2013 as a personal project and had so much fun doing it! Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue.

This issue is jam-packed (and there’s even a jam-making feature with my friend Sophia Stadnyk!), so download today and get started reading.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

On the cover: What says “spring” more than colorful tulips? I was photographing this bed of flowers and was standing on the edge of the wall when this little girl, clad in a princess skirt with sparkly shoes, came running around the corner. I got this one shot and she was gone. Serendipity!

CHM Spring 2013 cover





Craft Studio: Flower pomander ball

2 03 2016

While I was in Wilmington, NC this past weekend, my friend Dawn and I crafted this flower pomander ball. We watched a youtube video to learn how to burn the fabric. The flowers are crafted from various size fabric circles that are layered and hot glued together with embellishments. It was a bit frustrating at first to determine just how close the fabric had to be to the tea light flame to make it curl and pucker. Dawn became the master fabric burning guru while I assembled 22 flowers and glued them to the styrofoam ball. When I started to apply the first flower, I plopped on a big blob of hot glue. The ball began to roll so I grabbed it with my right palm…palm met hot glue and turned me into a swearing machine. It was SO painful! No pain, no gain—even in the crafting world. We are pretty proud of our first attempt at making handmade fabric flowers. One thing we learned—gold lamé fabric will ignite and disappear in a flash (good thing my baby sister Kelley never stood near an open flame while wearing her twirling costume in high school!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Pomander Thingie Collage





Re-post: Photographs? Well, not technically…

20 01 2015

Originally posted 1.28.2010

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.





Re-post: Craft project—The Monet Chair

16 01 2015

Originally posted 7.20.2009 (Hey Karen W.—this could be one of my craft projects to (finally) finalize in 2015!)

My friend Karen inherited this rocking chair from her grandmother and took it out to the lake house a few weekends ago. She has often declared, “I’ve never met a little chair I didn’t like!” Since the fabric wasn’t in great shape, she asked what I thought about painting something on the chair to make it more whimsical. And, of course, I took on the challenge with gusto!

NOTE: The chair is not finished yet—the photo on the right is a Photoshop collage utilizing the chair in its current state with an overlay of a screen grab image of one of Monet’s water lily paintings. I combined the two images to use as a painting reference. This is what it should look like when I’m done.

Over the July 4th weekend, I painted a base coat of metallic blue, green and gold paint (finally, a use for all those little bottles of fabric paint I bought when such-and-such store was going out of business!). My initial plan was to paint sketchy leaves or swirly abstract shapes on top in a lighter color. I thought that it was starting to look like the water in one of Monet’s paintings of water lilies at his garden in Giverny, France. I shot some record shots of the chair after I was done. Karen loved the idea of turning it into a “Monet chair,” and it was her idea to split up the painting with the Japanese bridge on back of the chair and the water lilies on the seat. We found one of Monet’s many water lily paintings on the web, including one with very bright blue/teal and green combination of tones in the water. I did a screen grab of the painting and superimposed it over the chair in Photoshop to see what it would look like. She loved the effect—so guess what my project at the lake house this next weekend is? I’ll shoot some during-and-after shots so you can see how it turned out. I’m estimating it will take about 3-4 hours to complete.

Monet Chair





Music to My Ears: Nancy Williams

27 08 2014

In the September/October 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine (published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America—HLAA), Barbara Chertok interviews pianist/author/publisher Nancy Williams. I photographed Nancy at HLAA’s Convention 2014 in June in Austin, TX.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

NancyWilliamsCoverMusic to My Ears by Barbara Chertok



HLAA Member Barbara Chertok interviewed Nancy Williams, an HLAA member who despite a hearing loss, is an accomplished pianist and much more. Discover what inspired Nancy to reclaim her passions.

What caused your hearing loss and when did it begin?
Although I wasn’t diagnosed by an audiologist until age six, my parents suspect that I was essentially born with a hearing loss. My loss is genetic, as a result of a mutation in the Connexin 26 gene. For much of my childhood, my hearing loss was confined to the high frequencies, and my hearing in the low-to-mid frequencies was normal. In seventh grade, I was fitted with my first hearing aid, a behind-the-ear model, bulky by today’s standards.

In an article you wrote, you revealed you not only denied your hearing loss to others but even to yourself. Now, you tell people about your hearing loss. What brought on the change?
I have to credit reclaiming the piano for helping me to be open about my hearing loss. Returning to the piano shortly after my 40th birthday spurred my desire to write about the intimate relationship between music and hearing, sound and silence. I wrote an article for my online magazine, Grand Piano Passion, about how wearing hearing aids figured into my piano recital.

After reading that piece, a friend asked me to attend, as a member of the press, a reception by the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), a New York-based nonprofit funding research for a cure for hearing loss. At the reception, I was elated by the prospect of a cure. For the first time in my life, I was in the company of a large group of people with hearing loss.

Shortly thereafter, I joined the HLAA Board. Becoming an active member of the hearing loss community solidified my commitment to write openly about my hearing loss, yet the catalyst was my love for playing the piano.

If people question how you can perform on the piano or interpret what the composer has written when you have a significant hearing loss, how do you respond?
I am fortunate in that no one has directly questioned my ability to play, although occasionally I have worried that people might be voicing those objections to themselves. I think the best way for me to respond to the potential objections is to simply play, demonstrating to people my love of the piano.

The Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss, founded by Wendy Cheng, a violist with cochlear implants in both ears, has a similar strategy. Their recent CD, Hear This!, is an inspiring example of musicians with hearing loss putting forth their music.

You claim to have a ‘listening profit’ when it comes to your piano playing. Would you explain that for us?
I coined the term ‘listening profit’ as a counterpoint to the much more familiar term ‘hearing loss.’ The act of listening is quite different from the act of hearing. Lindsey Dryden, a gifted filmmaker who is deaf in one ear and created the movie Lost and Sound, remarked in a Grand Piano Passion interview that she often wondered whether she was good on the piano as a child precisely because she was partially deaf. I believe that people with hearing loss listen more keenly and more consciously than musicians without hearing loss. I have found that striving to overcome the disability of not hearing is part of what aids my musicality.

Do you have tinnitus [ringing in the ears] and does it interfere with your piano playing?
My tinnitus is very mild. I am not sure whether that is because I have worn hearing aids for most of my life and using amplification can help mitigate the symptoms of tinnitus (the Hearing Heath Foundation, where I serve on the board, has a great treatment of this topic), or whether I have just been lucky. Occasionally I hear a rapping sound in my left ear, but my mild tinnitus does not interfere with my playing.

You have written about the stigma against hearing loss being real. What do you feel it will take to eradicate this stigma?
I think the most important ingredient in eradicating the stigma against hearing loss is for people who are functional in society but nonetheless suffer from hearing loss to be more candid about their condition. That is easier said than done, because our society stereotypes people with hearing loss as slow, out of touch, thickheaded, and unlikely to accomplish much.

I know people who work in worlds ranging from music to finance who are unwilling to be candid about their hearing loss for this exact reason. So it’s up to each person to decide how much candor they can risk. Every time someone with hearing loss unveils their condition and asks for what they need, we as a community take another step toward loosening the stigma. I believe we will be greatly helped by our current generation of children, who sport cochlear implant bling and other hearing aid fashions.

Do you feel a special kinship with Beethoven because of your mutual hearing loss? Do you hear the music within as he did?
I hesitate to answer this question in which Beethoven and I appear in the same sentence. However, he is one of my favorite composers, and the second movement of his Fifth Piano Concerto is about as close to heaven as I am able to get. I have always felt a tremendous empathy for the anguish he must have experienced as he lost both his hearing and the society of those close to him.

It fascinates me that we can in a sense hear music in our brain, and that is in essence how Beethoven managed to compose while he was deaf. I am able to hear within my mind the piano music that I study closely. In the years since my hearing loss was first diagnosed, my audiogram has been slowly worsening, such that my hearing loss is now moderate in both ears, sloping to severe in the high frequencies. I’ve tried to consciously develop the skill of hearing within, with the thought that if someday I am unable to hear at all, I still will be able to hear my music.

You founded Grand Piano Passion, an online magazine. What is its mission and purpose?
Grand Piano Passion celebrates all who make music despite a hearing loss, no matter their instrument, level, or age. We profile both amateur and professional musicians who have a hearing loss, and we also cover the best books and articles in this field. One of my favorite series is Hearing Health Affirmations, articles that showcase the positive affirmations of musicians with hearing loss. Also not to be missed is a series called Practice Listening by Jay Alan Zimmerman, a deaf composer who has been called ‘Broadway’s Beethoven.’

Do you use any assistive listening devices when you listen to music?
I purchased the Phonak ComPilot, which I use while using my iPhone—the ComPilot pipes sound directly from my iPhone into my hearing aid—as well as for listening to classical piano music on my computer. Listening to music is a big part of my job as the founding editor of Grand Piano Passion, so the ComPilot has been very useful for me when I review albums for my online magazine.

You refer to yourself as an ‘amateur’ pianist, yet you have performed at Carnegie Hall. Why is that?
In 2012, I took a master class on performance and our final recital was held at Carnegie Hall. Short of my wedding day and the birth of my two children, this was the best day of my life. I got a wonderful taste of the life of a concert pianist.

Although I am not a concert pianist in the strict sense of the term, performing [on] the piano is increasingly occupying a larger part of my professional life. I speak on finding your passion, and often my speaking engagements include performing a select repertoire on the piano. By sharing my music, I am able to demonstrate both via sound and emotion just how powerful a passion can be. I presented my workshop “Finding Your Calling… Despite a Hearing Loss” at the HLAA Convention 2014 in Austin this summer.

Do you ever choose to learn a piece of music because it falls within the range of the hearing you have in the lower frequencies and not in the higher frequencies where your hearing loss is more significant?
The frequency range of a piece of classical piano music is most definitely a consideration for me. For example, the wonderful fioritura, or series of grace notes, which concludes Chopin’s Nocturne in E-Flat Major begins on the second highest C on the piano keyboard, a region where even with my hearing aids I hear mostly the little plunk of the key hitting the key bed. I play these notes mostly by touch. When I studied Debussy’s Clair de Lune, a shimmering meditation on nighttime that is beloved by many pianists, I chose not to perfect the music, one reason being the concentration of notes in the upper end of the keyboard.

You returned to the piano after a 25-year hiatus. How much of your former repertoire were you able to retain?
When I first returned to the piano, the only note I could remember was middle C, that note on its own line, between the two staffs. I had to count all other notes from middle C. I had forgotten the notes, along with all the repertoire I had studied and performed as a teenager, as a defensive mechanism of sorts against reclaiming the piano. I think many adults carry a passion deep within, and excavating it can take a lot of commitment. I’m happy to say that now I have relearned Debussy’s Reverie, a piece I first performed in recital when I was 13, and now is one of my favorite pieces in my repertoire.

When you play the piano, whether for your teacher or in a concert, does it worry you that you might miss hearing a wrong note because of your hearing loss?
This is an interesting question because it gets at the distinction between hearing and listening. As a pianist, even if I physically hear myself play a wrong note, unless I am listening attentively to the music, the wrong note could escape my notice. So I think the bigger challenge is to truly listen to the music, both its melody and accompanying harmony.

What would you tell a budding pianist with hearing loss embarking on a career in music?
There are inspiring examples of pianists with hearing loss, such as Kori Linae Carothers, Jennifer Castellano, and Ricker Choi (whom we have featured in Grand Piano Passion).

For people with hearing loss who have a passion for the piano, or any instrument for that matter, I wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue their callings. Passions help all of us to develop the whole person. Many adults find that when they activate long dormant callings, they realign other parts of their life, strengthening their professions, forming new friendships, and even growing closer to their families and the people they love most deeply.

Barbara Liss Chertok lost her hearing suddenly in 1957 at age 21 from what was diagnosed 35 years later as Cogan’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. She hears with bilateral cochlear implants. She joined SHHH/HLAA in 1979 and is an active member of the HLAA Sarasota Chapter. A former lipreading/speechreading teacher, she is a freelance writer/interviewer for Hearing Loss Magazine. She serves on the National Advisory Board of the American Hearing Research Foundation. Barbara can be reached at barbchert@gmail.com.

Nancy Williams on the Web
www.grandpianopassion.com
http://www.Facebook.com/NancyWilliamsPiano
http://www.Twitter.com/NWilliamsPiano
www.youtube.com/nancywilliamspiano

Relevant Links
Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss: aamhl.org

Hearing Health Foundation: hearinghealthfoundation.org

Interview with Amateur Pianist Ricker Choi
http://bit.ly/GrandPianoPassion-Choi

Hearing Aids at My Piano Recital by Nancy Williams
http://bit.ly/PianoRecital-Williams

A Different Way of Listening—Lindsey Dryden on Hearing Loss, Her Music and Her Documentary
http://bit.ly/LindseyDryden-HearingLoss