Anniversary

23 07 2020
Dad & My Hands
Today is the first anniversary of my father’s passing (7.22.2019). I captured this shot of me holding his hand a few days before. Dad wasn’t much for hand holding or physical affection, and he probably would have been irritated had he been aware that we were holding vigil for him by his bedside. He was asleep when my sister Kelley and I arrived at hospice that Friday. He never woke up during the next four days, so we did what families usually do—cry, laugh, and tell stories. I read some entries to him from his blog. He was a gifted writer and took a lot of pride in his essays.

In the photo, I’m wearing one of mom’s gold rings. I never take it off. It has five tiny diamonds set into a gold band that crosses another band. I like to think she bought it because each diamond represents the five members of our little family. I have been surprised at just how comforting it is to wear it and then in the same moment, I am made painfully aware that it is no longer gracing her hands. It is just one of many rings she wore faithfully, earning my father’s lifelong nickname for her—Diamond Lil.

That spring, I gathered my favorite essays from his blog and my sister Debbie printed them out and created a binder for him. I presented it to him on a field trip to his favorite place—the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas. His sweet friend Patty and my sweet high school friend Tom accompanied us that day. Dad and Patty sat in the backseat, holding hands, and perusing the binder. My dad, who never rode with me without admonishing something to do with my driving, said nothing. He was content with Miss Patty and happy to be out of his assisted living facility. At lunch, I told Patty that this was the first time ever that he didn’t criticize my driving, so she must be a good influence on him. Dad just smiled.

A few days later I visited, and even with his failing memory, he brought up that trip and said he really enjoyed it. I fervently had hoped that we would have many more days like that, but that was not to be. I asked him if he wanted me to read a few of his blog posts out loud. I read a couple of my favorites, and with a surprised look, he asked, “I wrote that?” He had been diagnosed with vascular dementia a few years earlier and the blog was a distant memory for him, as were many other things, including my name. I could still see glimpses of my sometimes ornery, often witty father. I missed the existential conversations we had through the years. I missed calling him when I wanted his sound advice or feedback on something happening in my life. He was my sounding board on so many things in my life. He was my go-to guy. Got a problem? I’ll call dad. He’ll know just what to do. He’ll tell me to weigh the pros and cons. He will help me assemble the disjointed puzzle I’ve created out of my life at any given juncture.

Our conversations were very limited once the dementia took away much of his ability to form complete sentences. I could see his frustration in conversing, and I often tried to help him finish a sentence. Sometimes he appreciated the effort, other times there was that familiar look of irritation. No matter. I found patience that I didn’t know I had during those times. I always left there sad, though. Helpless. Sad for his struggle with his thoughts. Sad that he sometimes didn’t know why he wasn’t home, but knowing he was right where he needed to be. I worried a lot. I worried just as he did with mom when she was ill.

Then he found someone to love—Miss Patty. His first three months living in a very nice assisted living apartment were full of angst and anger, railing against his daughters for “putting him there.” He wanted to go home. Then he met Patty. We had met Patty earlier at an Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting, so we recognized her immediately when he introduced us to her. She is so much like our mother—soft-spoken, patient, and kind. She tempered him when he was upset. When he would tell her he wanted to go home, she would remind him that he was home, and that they lived in a really nice place and were well taken care of—and aren’t we the luckiest? She would tell him what wonderful daughters he had, and eventually he came to agree (much to our delight). He was no longer angry with us. Patty had given him a reason to stay. We thought we had longer with him…that he had longer.

He was my rock. My go-to guy. My road trip buddy. He was the ultimate cheerleader on the sidelines. He was smart, witty, and well-educated. We shared a never-ending love of books and art. He could also be very, very difficult. And it was often unpredictable. But even in the most difficult of times, from childhood to now, I felt loved. I always felt loved.

He told me that when I was born, despite the doctor turning me around three times, I came into the world feet first, setting the example for my life as an artist. When he told the story, he finished with, “It figures. You’re still marching to the beat of your own drum.” That was a really nice way of saying that I’m stubborn. I came by it honestly—he was, too.

He was endlessly supportive of my creative abilities, fostering them with guidance, supplies, and art lessons. With his prodding, I started drawing in kindergarten, painting in junior high, and photojournalism in high school. When my teacher asked if anyone could photograph a game for the yearbook, I cajoled my dad into letting me borrow his Yashica 35mm and off I went, instructed by him to not lose it, break it, or put it down. This was my first experience with a 35mm camera, and when the contact sheets came in, it was crystal clear he would never get it back. I started Dyer Photography in our paneled den in Donna, Texas, while I was still in high school, shooting portraits and parties, and after graduation, I moved on to wedding and quinceaneras.

Naturally, I decided to major in art when I entered college, but my practical and wise father asked me how I would make a living as an artist; there began the switch from fine art to graphic design. My career started with winning first prize for a jeans pocket design, and progressed to designing retail window displays that paid mostly in clothes and shoes. Before long, however, I was doing portrait and wedding photography again (and earning real money to my dad’s delight), then fashion illustration, graphic design, layout, copy writing, and creating newspaper and radio ads.

As I wrote earlier, my dad was a gifted writer. When my mom was dealing with ovarian cancer (over 11 years), I knew he needed an outlet because he often couldn’t sleep. He was worried about her. I introduced him to the world of blogging, and once he got started, he was off and running. My friend Debbi gave me a handmade illustrated book as a gift one Christmas. It was in honor of me creating the Runnymeade Garden Club. I was deemed the Head Weed, and my members were the Weedettes. The storybook cast me as Princess of Runnymeade, and my mom and dad were the King and Queen of Texas. Dad was delighted to claim that title, and it instantly became the title of his blog. He began it in March 2009 and wrote until early December 2013. Perhaps his memory loss began around that time, and that’s why he wouldn’t continue or lost interest. I’ll never really know.

My mother passed in November 2010. Dad was lost without her. He was the best caregiver all those years. He said he wanted his “job” back. He was lost without a purpose. After she passed, those years leading up to his dementia diagnosis were often difficult. He was depressed. He pushed us away so many times. We didn’t understand. We hung on, because that’s what families do. That’s what mom would have wanted us to do.

In the last few years, the erratic behavior wasn’t explainable until it was—dementia. Time to reframe our assessments. Redirect our anger, and sadness, and disappointment. He needed us, even if he didn’t think so.

I miss his cheerleading. I miss his insight and advice. I miss his fun comments on my blog postings. I miss being able to call him to tell him about something exciting happening in my life. I miss going to Half Price Books with him. I even miss the stream of consciousness jokes, even the unsavory ones.

I am so grateful to my sisters for making hard decisions, for being there when I couldn’t. I am so grateful to our friend William for being his caregiver after his diagnosis. and most of all, being his friend. We knew dad was safe with him in his life, watching over him. In the end, we all know we did the right thing for dad. We did it all with love. And I do believe he had the happiest last year of his life. He was well cared for. He was safe. He was surrounded by friends. He was loved. He had someone to love. In the end, that’s all that matters.

I love you, dad. Give mom a hug for me.




A labor of love: Celebrate Home Magazine is born!

2 10 2012

The Fall 2012 Celebrate Home Magazine debuts today on the first day of October with the mantra of “making the ordinary extraordinary.”

Published quarterly, Celebrate Home Magazine focuses on family, food, entertaining, gardening, art, crafts, hobbies, personal expression, hospitality, pets, decorating, communities and neighborhoods.

The time has come for a magazine like this—highlighting ordinary people doing extraordinary things. No matter your budget, your skills or the size of your space, we’ll enthusiastically share experiences of those who nurture the space they call home. Let us inspire you!

I’ve teamed up with the talented and renowned Barbara Kelley, whose editorial expertise has graced Hearing Loss Magazine for more than 20 years. She brings her passion for hospitality and her publishing experience to this brand new publication! We are both passionate about all things home and welcome you to open the door and come on in. We also welcome you to be contributors. This magazine is for you and about you.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 

 

Would you like to be a contributing author or photographer? Please e-mail writing and/or photography samples and links to websites with your work to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

Do you have an original recipe you’d like to share? Please e-mail your recipes to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

We can come to you! Are you having a party or special event at your home or an activity that relates to the subject of home? Contact us to discuss your idea. If it fits the editorial scope of Celebrate Home Magazine, we may photograph your event and write the story.

Do you have a product or service? If you would like to advertise your product, service, or your city/town/region, contact advertising@celebratehomemag.com.

Check it out and celebrate home with us!





The Orphaned Images Project: Bathing cuties

19 10 2011

Learn more about my ongoing series, The Orphaned Images Project, here and see more orphaned images here.





Requiem for my mother

2 12 2010

My beloved mother, Janie Alta Dyer, passed away on Thursday evening, November 18 after living with ovarian cancer for 11 years. Our family was very fortunate to be there when, as the hospice minister predicted, “She will draw her last breath here on earth, and she will draw her next breath in heaven.” I could not have known how much that would mean to me to be there during this transition. It was all at once unforgettable and painful, but a breathtaking privilege as well.

She was diagnosed with Stage II ovarian cancer in winter of 1999. Not many women diagnosed with this disease get that much time, but my mother was blessed with incredible strength, patience, and yes, even a bit of luck at times. She was diagnosed at an earlier stage than most, so luck had some hand in the process, I think. She was also lucky to have the best doctors and nurses in the world—at Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall in San Antonio, Texas.

Above all else, she was blessed to have my most amazing father as her caregiver, with her every step of the way—through every single diagnosis, remission, recurrence, major surgery, same-day surgery, procedure, x-ray, PET scan, CAT scan, blood draw and lung tap. Because of so many years of chemotherapy, her kidneys suffered a major blow and she received dialysis twice a week for more than two years. Through it all my father was there—holding her up and cheering her on, unfailingly. He was both her rock and her soft place to fall. I hope he knows how profoundly grateful my sisters and I are that he was by her side for 58 years, and especially during the last 11 years.

Her funeral service was this past Monday, November 29. Beneath a beautiful cornflower blue Texas sky, she was interred at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. I know I am not alone when I express my fear of public speaking, but I decided that if my mother could live with cancer (and all that accompanies it) for 11 years, I could certainly read something in front of an audience of people who knew and loved her. I know she gave me the strength to do so. Below is my requiem for my mother.

Every single person born has a mother, but nobody has ever had one like ours. In the midst of this sadness is joy because of the wonderful memories she left us. A mother is love—first, last and always. How lucky we were to get this one.

I speak for my sisters when I say we are giving thanks for a mother who always put us first and who loved us and showed us that love in many different ways. We are celebrating the life of a woman that meant something different to every member of our family.

She had a great big heart and her hospitality reflected that. Mom and Dad have always made everyone feel welcomed into our family. When we were growing up, our home was a haven to our friends. This is obvious in the number of adopted sisters we have now, and Thelma was the very first bonus sister.

Today I am remembering my mother and what she meant to me. The world did not know how wonderful she was, but we did. She tried to teach us to be good and  kind and she did it by example. Nobody ever came to her in trouble and went away unaided. She had a sunny nature, a cheerful disposition and no matter how sad someone was, they always felt happier when she was around.

She supported our various hobbies with never-ending cheering and an ever-dwindling bank account—Debbie’s guitar lessons (although she never advanced past playing “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley,”) Kelley’s twirling career (applying rhinestones on her costumes by hand, long before the Bedazzler was invented), and my many art lessons. In supporting Kelley’s twirling phase, she learned how football was played and from that point on she was a lifelong football fan. She supported the Cowboys first and then the Redskins after her move to Washington, DC. When the two rivals squared off she rooted for both, despite Dad telling her “Janie, you can’t root for both. Pick one or the other!”

I may be known for many things, but possessor of a head of great hair is most certainly not on that list. One of my funniest memories (although so not funny then) was when Mom took me to get my hair permed and styled by Bill’s sister Carol, who was a hairstylist at the time. Every single time Mom would go with me to get my hair done, she would always look on approvingly at the end of the session, saying, “Oh, Cindy, you look so much better. You ought to never let your hair get like that again.” When Carol finished, revealing my new coif to Mom, I looked over at her, waiting for her usual, “Oh, Cindy…” This time was different. She managed a small smile and I saw the slightest flicker of sympathy in her eyes. Uh-oh. We paid Carol her just due, and as we left her house, I caught a glance of Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie in the mirror by the door. No, not me—Nellie Olsen, with the tightest of ringlets framing her sad, sad face. I cried all the way home.

She was a woman of infinite patience, supporting Dad’s love of yard sales, estate sales and thrift stores. She waited patiently in the car, making phone calls to her sisters while he shopped. In the last few years, Dad and I make her a thrift store convert after she learned that people cast off barely-worn clothing by Ann Taylor and Chico’s. Mom was a fashionista and dressed better than any of us, whether she paid 1/2 off Wednesday prices at Salvation Army or full retail price at department stores. And oh, how she loved shoes! I’ve no doubt that she single-handedly kept the Clarks brand in business.

When I was in my teens, my mother taught me how to do a chain stitch, as well as single and double crochet stitches. That was the extent of my crochet education. So every few years, tempted by the yarn aisle at a craft store, I would buy a skein (or two or three) and attempt to make something wearable. About six years ago we were all en route to see Kelley in Dallas. I decided I would make yet another unfinished scarf. With my crochet skills a little rusty, the yarn began to curl and I couldn’t keep it straight. Mom said, “Well, if it’s curling—make a hat!” I let it weave into a circle until it began to resemble a large coaster. I then asked her, “How do you make it go down to form the sides of a hat? Do you go tighter or looser?” She sweetly replied, “Yes.” This prompted me to ask her if she had ever actually crocheted anything. That’s when I learned that although she knew the stitches, she had never made a single thing. All these years I had just assumed that the afghans, ponchos and hats on the couches, backs and heads of friends and relatives across the country were all lovingly crafted by my mother. More than 30 hats later I still relive that day whenever I pick up a crochet hook.

Many of you may not know that Mom won one of the first scratch-off lotteries in Texas more than 20 years ago. She was always getting tickets whenever she filled up the car. She would win $5, then buy five more tickets on her next trip. Dad always said she was just wasting her money. That all changed the day she, Debbie, Lauren and Landen were headed to the mall. They stopped to get Mema’s baby boy some apple juice and she bought a few tickets. She scratched off the three labels on a ticket and won $20,000. They called Dad from a pay phone and he told them to stay where they were, don’t talk to anyone, and he was coming to get them! I remember she was a bit disappointed that after taxes the state only gave her $16,000! She turned Dad into a lottery convert and he began playing regularly.

One summer upon returning from our annual jaunt to see our relatives in Georgia, Dad stopped in Rosenberg, Texas, determined to fulfill his promise that he would one day replace her tiny wedding ring with a stone of substantial size. I can still see Mom in the back seat, with road weary hair and rumpled clothing, flashing her diamond in the sunlight. I think that’s the day she earned her nickname from Dad—Diamond Lil.

She was a great cook and nobody made fried chicken or banana pudding the way she did. I never actually saw her follow a recipe, though, so it all came from memory. She was a Fox News junkie and if you wanted to know what was happening, from politics to world events to Hollywood gossip, Mom was the one to go to.

When I graduated from high school, she advised me to “get a job and spend your own money—don’t get married too young.” I doubt she imagined how literally I would take that advice, not marrying until 31 years later! I married my best friend Michael after 19 years together. I will be eternally grateful that she was able to be part of our “better late than never” wedding weekend last year.

My sisters and I, along with our dear friend Fred, planned a surprise party for her 70th birthday in December 2001. Kelley and Dad told her that Fred was cooking dinner and wanted the Dyer family to join him. On the way out the door, Kelley asked Mom if she wanted to put on some lipstick (knowing that with a surprise party, there would be surprise photos), to which Mom replied, “Why? We’re just going to Fred’s house for dinner.” When she came through the door and everyone yelled “Surprise,” the first thing she did was cover her face and say, “Oooh….I didn’t put on any makeup!”

She was a woman of immense courage and strength and she faced her long illness with such patience and dignity. It didn’t change the person she was, it just added to her stature. We rarely saw her cry and never heard her complain. In the last 11 years, my sisters and I have marveled at her strength. We have often said that we didn’t think we had gotten any of that from her. In recent days, I am now certain we did.

To her friends, she is endlessly compassionate, forgiving and generous. To her brothers Buddy and Charles, and her sisters, Winnie, Evelyn and Christine, she is someone they could lean on and confide in. To her daughters, she is a confidante and our safe place to fall. To her grandchildren—Lauren, Landen, Brennan and Macie—she is ‘Mema,’ lovingly doting on them as any good grandmother would do. To her son-in-laws, Bill, Brantley and Michael—she is the mother-in-law most men could only dream about. To her husband, she is ‘Diamond Lil,’ ‘Janie Mae’ and the love of his life.

A few weeks ago, I asked my mother if she was afraid. She said, “when you have a life this great, a family this great, and someone you truly love, you don’t want to leave it.” This great life, great family and her love for us is what kept her fighting all these years—her spirit unbroken. I am immensely proud to be part of this family—her legacy.

Words cannot express the gratitude we have for the doctors, nurses and staff at Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall for their kindness, professionalism and for giving us many more years with our mother. The nurses at Odyssey Hospice were a godsend and helped our family through a very difficult time. Seeing the hospice staff at work has let me know there are Angels among us.

What a beautiful difference this one life made. We will be forever inspired by her amazing strength, immeasurable courage, endless patience, and unconditional love for her family and friends.

In the words of the poet e.e. cummings, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it.





Wagner family portraits

14 07 2010

I photographed the Wagner family at Green Spring Gardens a couple of months ago. They were a pleasure to work with! (Extra special thanks to my friend Karen for the referral!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Parents, plants and partying

22 03 2010

Best parents in the world, shown at right. It’s true. It’s really, really true. Wouldn’t trade ’em for nuthin’. Check out the latest photos I’ve posted on our wedding blog here.

Speaking of blogs…check out my dad’s blog, The King of Texas. He waxes rhapsodic about his family, revisits his childhood (with amazing recall for details), comments on current events (political, celebrity, media and more), and aims to right grammatical wrongs (one visitor at a time) with his occasional lessons on the subject. Check out his archives for some of his essays. I introduced him to blogging almost a year ago and he has become a prolific poster. He has always loved to write and it shows in his lengthy and detailed essays. I just knew it would be a great creative outlet for him. I realize I’ve created a monster, but I am so proud of my grasshopper! Whether you agree or disagree on any particular posting, he welcomes feedback of any kind (but thrives on kudos in particular), so don’t hesitate to comment—he always responds.

Out in the garden…my hellebores, snowdrops and crocus plants are in bloom—after a long, cold, way-too-much-snow winter. I predict some flower photos appearing on the blog shortly. Michael and I cleaned up most of the front yard (gathering six bags of debris!) on Thursday and my friend Tom helped me with a good portion of the back yard garden on Friday. There are lots of empty gaps in the garden this year, so there will definitely be some restructuring of the various beds in an effort to refresh things. I bought a slew of bulbs at Home Depot last night for the front yard garden (liatris, crocosmia, tigridia and lilies). I’m waiting to plant when I’m sure there’s no danger of frost! I also want to try out some new perennial choices so I’ll have some new specimens to photograph this year.

Speaking of flower photography…check out my buddy Ed Vatza’s stunning photos here of the elusive Himalayan Blue Poppy, which he photographed at Longwood Gardens recently. Wish these beauties weren’t so temperamental—they would be in my garden in a heartbeat if they were easier to grow!

And on to the partying…Nanda, one of my Garden Club Weedettes, hosted a knitting party late this afternoon (with wonderful Indian munchies). Yours truly was introduced to knitting today. Boy, was that ever a challenge! I think I’ve gotten the hang of it (sorta/kinda), but it’s definitely seems harder than my basic crochet skills. I’ll post a few photos of my newfound knitting friends and my work-in-progress (I think it’s a scarf—hard to tell at this point!) shortly. Sigh…as if I needed another hobby.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Happy birthday, WapWap!

18 02 2010

Happy birthday little sister! Dad nicknamed her “WapWap” because when she wanted an apple, she asked for a “wap.” I think he still calls her that. Kelley, you share your birthday with Cybil Sheppard, John Travolta, Matt Dillon, Vanna White, Toni Morrison, Molly Ringwald, Yoko Ono, Jack Palance and Jessica Simpson’s father, Joe. And on this day, Iceland is celebrating “National Bun Day.” Good to know. Hope you had a great one!





Lightning, lobsters and babes in the woods…

12 02 2010

My father (a.k.a. The King of Texas) just took a stroll down memory lane and wrote a recap of our six-day camping/road trip in the spring of 1985. I just added some of my scancafe.com slides from that trip to it and wanted to share this wonderful posting with you. Click on the red link below. Enjoy!

http://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/lobsters-lightning-and-babes-in-the-woods/





Much more of the Muchemores

11 06 2009

Okay, I couldn’t resist…with a last name like that, this blog post title was inevitable! Muchemore to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Muchemore2






Apparently you can get here from there!

20 05 2009

In celebration of passing the 70,000 mark on my blog, I offer you some unusual word searches that actually brought visitors to the blog:

cocker spaniel trixie little jimmy
nancy wong booty (Nancy must be very popular.)
mating blogs
october afternoon ducks in a row
what rhymes with the name victoria carr
polydactyl woman (Apparently, it’s possible. Read this.)
the coolest thing ever
obsessive crochet (Been there, done that—too much for my own good)
thrift stores on way to death valley (Ooh! Now that sounds like a fun road trip.)
kids running from bees  (Smart kids)
mom washed our hair   (Every Sunday night, right before the Wonderful World of Disney)
nun toys ugly  (hmmmm….)
using thankfully incorrectly  (Ha! My dad is going to love that one.)
sugar glider on a cat (not a safe place to be, that’s for sure)
lucky hummingbird hobo (I googled it to see what that might be. It’s a tote bag.)
ice cream chest freezer in rio grande valley (hmmm…sounds like criminal activity…should I call the police?)
lilium sweat kiss (sweet, not sweat…and it’s a Lily hybrid)
20 foot high elephant lawn ornament (Our homeowner association would have a fit!)
she wet (T.M.I.)
honey sockal loocust creeper (Definitely not a potential candidate for a spelling bee)

And the top dozen postings of “all time” on my blog are:

Concrete leaf casting (still in the #1 position, as always): 2,482 hits

Color Magic Rose (still in the #2 position, as always): 1,777 hits

Crafty room divider screen: 1,523 hits

Stuff about me: 1,128 hits

Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth: 598 hits

Spotlight on Abbie!: 592 hits

Gigglebean with parrot and sugar glider: 528 hits

Heavenly blue: 515 hits

Mina Lobata (Spanish flag): 489 hits

Monarch butterfly habitat poster: 449 hits

Then on to craft project #823: 387 hits

Bionic Woman = Cover Girl: 345 hits

Many thanks to my fellow bloggers who have sent their visitors to my blog:

Avid gardener and photographer Birgitte in Denmark

Bookkeeper, writer, cochlear implant recipient and fun-loving Abbie in New Jersey

Avid gardener, photographer, wife, and mother Jan in Virginia

Garden designer and photographer Pam in Austin, Texas

Traveler, blogger and photographer ChrisY “Visuallens” in Malaysia

Librarian, gardener and photographer Phillip in Florence, Alabama

Lovely Heather—Mom, wife, designer, lover of all animals, helpless creatures and underdogs—somewhere in the U.S.

Golden-haired, candid, open and honest, blossoming photographer Chloe in Australia

Avid gardener, quilter, and Kurt’s Mom—Aunt Debbi in North Texas

Hearing loss social network creator Senthil somewhere in the U.S.

Gardener, nature lover, and recorder-of-all-things-happening-in-the-pond GG near Atlanta, Georgia

Photographer Scott Thomas in upstate New York

Artist and photographer CheyAnne in New Mexico

Passionate gardener, daylily enthusiast and aspiring novelist Gotta Garden in Stafford, Virginia

Avid gardener and photographer Jan from Covington, Louisiana

Reluctant (but obsessed anyway) gardener Kim in Maryland

Creative photographer and lonely wanderer Wildblack in Abu Dhabi

Fotoblography Andy, somewhere in the U.S.

Web/graphic designer and photographer Stacy Tabb in central Florida

Marketing specialist and very talented nature photographer Ed Vatza in eastern Pennsylvania

Homemaker, wife, mother of five beautiful children, and cochlear implant recipient Jennifer near Nashville, Tennessee

Up-and-coming country singer/songwriter Jay Henley in Maryland

Artist, crafter, newlywed, and amazing cloudscape/Texas sky photographer Shelley in West Texas

Avid gardener, photographer, mother, wife and Army retiree Tina from Tennessee

Gardener, blogger and candid writer Gumboots in Australia

Father, writer, and soon-to-be-a cochlear implant recipient (yay for you, finally!) Ulf in Norway

Undeniably, hands-down, no contest—the best father this girl could have, The King of Texas





Josie turns 147!

11 03 2009

…days old, that is. I got the chance to photograph baby Josie again in my studio on February 20, along with her mom, Elizabeth, and two of Elizabeth’s friends who were visiting from out of town. I’ll post the group shots separately. I didn’t get a lot of shots of Josie because her attention span was shorter this time around! Not to worry, there will be plenty more photo ops in her future, I’m sure.

Check out Josie’s first debut on my blog here.

See Daddy’s little girl here.

View Josie “au naturel” in my studio here.

And with Mom & Grandma in the studio here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

josiegirl





Always in pink

13 01 2009

I shot this photo of my niece, Macie, on Thanksgiving Day. She’s five years old now and doesn’t sit still for long. I don’t think I got more than five shots fired off before she skedaddled. No matter—this one’s a keeper!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

maciepinkshirtalt1





Three generations

11 11 2008

Last Thursday morning I photographed Elizabeth and Josie again with Elizabeth’s mother, Patricia, who is visiting from Seattle. This is one of my favorites from the “black on black” shots. I’ll post the “white on white” photos later.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ledouxgirls





Josie au naturel

19 10 2008

Elizabeth and Rob came to my studio this morning so we could get some more images of baby Josie…in-the-buff shots against a black background. Doesn’t everyone need baby photos like this? Elizabeth said these are the ones that will surface on the internet when Josephine Margaret is running for President one day. Josie for Prez 2043!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Josephine Margaret and family

17 10 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Daddy’s (very) little girl

17 10 2008

I photographed Josephine Margaret, Elizabeth and Rob’s three-week old daughter, this morning. She was such a good model, smiling in her sleep, never fussing even once. Josie came into the world at 1:36 a.m. on September 27, measured 18 inches long, and weighed just 6 pounds, 3 oz. She’s such a tiny thing!

Had there been a Pesto Fest that evening, Elizabeth had a really good excuse to miss it! She instructed her husband to e-mail to let me know they wouldn’t be joining us after all—what with having a baby and all….such efficiency and manners! The Pesto Fest was rained out and cancelled, so they didn’t miss it after all!

More photos of baby Josie with her mom and paternal grandparents coming up!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Introducing Ashley Jocelyn

31 08 2008

On Tuesday, August 26, at 4:14 p.m., Ashley Jocelyn graced the world with her presence, weighing 7 lbs. 6.4 oz, and measuring 21 inches long. (See her very first portrait in the collage below). Her father, Mike, asked me if I would consider photographing it since he had never seen a childbirth in still photographs and thought I could capture it beautifully. (Thanks for considering me for the project, Mike and Alicia! I hope I did the event justice with these images.)

Believe it or not, this is not the first time I’ve photographed a baby being born. About 13 or 14 years ago, I photographed a friend’s sister having her second child. This was pre-digital photography days, so I shot print film the couple had provided and then handed the rolls over for them to process. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen the images, even though I was told that they turned out well. It’s the first and only time I haven’t seen the results of a shoot, and as you can see, I still remember that fact!

Suddenly, here was a chance to shoot digitally and be able to get immediate feedback—so I jumped at the chance. It was a privilege to witness Ashley’s birth and to photograph her entrance into the world for Alicia and Michael. Below are some of the images of this amazing event.

I photographed Alicia in early June in my studio with Mike and their two children. You’ll see those photos in my posting titled, “And baby girl makes five…” I also got some great shots of the kids here. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to photograph Ashley and her family again.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Boy of a million faces

28 08 2008

I photographed three month old baby Jonathan and his parents in early August. He’s one of the most expressive babies I’ve ever photographed. Amy says, “we call him the boy of a million faces, because he’s made so many faces—even in the very early days when they say they don’t really smile.” Jonathan was born May 18. Welcome to the world, Jonathan!

These are some of photos I got that morning. I hope to photograph him again so I can get some closeups!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

…and proof that he has rightfully earned his title, “boy of a million faces.”






Welcome to the world, Ashley Jocelyn!

27 08 2008

Born 8/26/2008 — 21 inches long — 7 lbs. 6.4 ounces

More photos to come!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





And baby girl makes five…

1 06 2008

I photographed the Royer family this morning and just started preparing the images this afternoon. Annie and little brother Joshua are getting a baby sister in September! Here are a few of the more “artsy” images of Mike, Alicia, and daughter Annie.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Annie & Joshua

1 06 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






In loving memory of Kathryn Parrish Shepard

29 04 2008

My dear friend Karen’s mother passed away March 26. With monetary contributions from her fellow Weedettes in the Runnymeade Garden Club and Supper Club friends (thanks, everyone!), I suggested that she and I start a memory garden to honor her mother. Her mother loved gardening, too. The highlight of the garden would be the heart-shaped stepping stone Sue and I purchased for her at McDonald’s Nursery in Virginia Beach a few weekends ago. It was such a perfect sentiment for this garden (even though whoever typeset it put an apostrophe in “its,” when it was possessive and not a contraction…and one sentence is missing a period (okay, so this is a peeve of mine, as you may have noticed). We bought it anyway because it was so fitting, despite these annoying (to me, at least) errors.

It reads, “My Mother kept a garden of the heart. She planted all the good things that gave my life its start. I am my Mother’s garden. I am her legacy. I hope she feels the love reflected back from me.”

Karen and I went shopping this past Sunday morning from 10:30-1:00, hitting Home Depot and Campbell & Ferrara Nursery (http://www.campbellferrara.com/) for loads of plants. Karen kept worrying that I was overspending and I told her to just enjoy the ride. How often do you get to shop for plants and someone else pays for it? Relax, girl! I also told her that since her birthday is April 30 (tomorrow!), any “overage” would be my birthday gift to her!

Our primary focus was perennials, but we threw in some colorful annual flowers and herbs, too. Her garden already had good “bones,” with nice foundation plants, grasses, and a few bulb plants (tulips and irises), and mums. We added purple, yellow, and white coneflower; a shasta daisy, yellow yarrow, purple salvia, catmint, four sedums (upright and creeping), yellow tickseed, and loads of herbs (rosemary, variegated sage, chives, sweet and purple basil, lemon thyme, and a lavender plant. For instant color, we added white allysum, hot pink impatiens, deep purple wave petunias, and two lime green sweet potato vines. We planted two colorful coleus (one of her favorites) in the shade under a foundation plant. She also picked out two cucumber plants to grow in pots on the front step.

After lunch at Macaroni Grill, we headed home and from 3:00 to 8:00, we moved existing plants around, redesigned the garden, and put in all those plants. We didn’t even stop when it started sprinkling! (You can just imagine how lovely we looked, covered in mud and mist!). Husband Joe/Clifton came home just in time to be assigned the task of dragging a rather large bag of garden soil around. He also cleaned up the mess we made on the sidewalk (thanks, Joe/Cliff)!

The memory stone is nestled among Debbi’s Thomas Jefferson miniature irises, purple salvia, alyssum, tickseed, and yellow yarrow in a small bed just behind Karen and Joe (in the photo below). The inset photo is of the Garden Goddesses 😉

I’ll record the garden’s progress throughout the growing season, of course. Thank you to everyone for helping make Karen’s little memorial garden possible. We love you, Weedette Karen (and Joe/Cliff). And the happiest of birthdays tomorrow, red-headed woman!





Portraits of my parents

25 01 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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To Debbie on her 50th birthday

31 12 2007

My younger sister, Kelley, wrote this sweet and funny letter for an album I created for Debbie’s surprise 50th birthday party (1/8/2005)

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There is a ten year age difference between me and my sister Debbie. Many of my memories of Debbie are from the perspective of a young girl who couldn’t wait to grow up to be just like her big sister. There are certain memories associated with various people in my life that identify what those people have meant to me. I recall these often—without reason—but always with great fondness. My memories of Debbie are:

When I was six or seven years old, Debbie was: skating and boyfriends, beautiful hair and go-go boots, short dresses and a page boy wig. One time she dyed her hair so black it looked green in certain lights—pretty funny to a little kid. She was also in high school—that elusive place that kids are in awe of until they get there. She was beautiful to me…she hung out at the skating rink and could even skate backwards. I remember her rounding those corners and flipping her hair out, doing that jive-talking move. She had her own skates with big pink fuzzy pompoms with jingle bells on them. And she had friends that were boys. That was a big deal to me. I remember going with Debbie to meet Duke in the mall parking lot. I don’t know what they talked about, but he had long brown hair and I thought he was so cool and I had a crush on him. I also remember Tony and Rick Chiavacci. One of those brothers would honk his horn in front of our house—that didn’t make my father very happy. I also remember my mom making her buy us Christmas presents one year—she bought us Goody barrettes and wrapped them in Bandaid boxes.

When I was eight years old and throughout my teen years, Debbie was simply my older sister. She lived at home with us when we first moved to Donna and she had her own bedroom with a furry purple bedspread and flowered curtains. Mom used to put laundry on Debbie’s bed to fold—the laundry was then pushed off the side of the bed, against the wall and out of sight. I know that happened at least one time. Debbie took guitar lessons and learned how to sing “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley”— always a crowd-pleaser. She wore cool clothes…sizzler skirts, wide legged pants…“lounge lizard larry” disco blouses and she had an 8-track player. She wore Charlie and drove a Maverick—she was ultra cool. She saw “The Sound of Music” too many times to be possible. She also worked at Sears for a short time in the candy department. Did they even have a candy department? She moved into her own apartment at some point and got married when I was in the sixth grade. I thought she looked beautiful. Her bridesmaids wore flowered dresses with butterfly sleeves and we ate Swedish meatballs. Cindy and I were too young to be bridesmaids, but I imagined myself being up there with her other friends. She also went to Hawaii one time with Bill—this was used to impress all my friends. She and Bill took us to the drive-in with them to watch “A Star is Born,” but Cindy and I watched the steamier movie on the other screen through the tiny back windows in the Elite. I think we fooled them. Why didn’t they question us with our faces pressed against one side of the car? This has always been a mystery to me.

In my late teens and throughout my twenties, Debbie was married and a mother to Lauren and then Landen. She was still cool but she did end up driving a mini-van—a far cry from the Corvette she always said she would drive. She loaned me money to buy some clothes for my first job at the bank in Donna. Did I ever pay her back? She moved to San Antonio and I eventually lived there for a while and the age gap between us began to shrink. How does that happen? Every Thursday night, we watched “Knots Landing” together to make fun of anything and everything.

We would also watch any and all beauty pageants together for the slight chance of seeing someone trip or reveal just a touch of cellulite. We were all over that one. If we could have seen the contestants toes, we would have made fun of those also. Not sure why we did this but it was a lot of fun. Debbie and I took cake decorating lessons together. She excelled at this—I did not. I just had fun hanging out with her and her friends. Debbie let me and Thelma put Landen in a big mixing bowl and spin him around the kitchen floor when he was a little baby…just a couple of times, for grins. She also let us use the pizza pan. He had fun and we did, too. Is that a cool Mom or what?

In my thirties, Debbie has become much more than my big sister. That age gap has officially closed, or so it seems. That thing she does called “motherhood” is now part of my life and only until recently have I begun to realize how trying—yet richly rewarding—being a mother can be, and how both my mother and Debbie have set great examples for me to live by. Debbie can be described in many ways—wife, mother of two beautiful children, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, co-worker, baseball mom, flag mom, dancing machine, confidante…the list goes on. The person that Debbie has evolved into through the years is a person that I admire, cherish and love—both as a sister and as a dear and trusted friend.

Here’s to Fifty Years of Wonderful You…Happy Birthday, Deboo!

Editor’s Note: Debbie says that she sold shoes, not candy, at Sears. And yes, there was a candy department at Sears at one time.





Happy Birthday, Diamond Lil!

26 12 2007

Today is mom’s 76th birthday! We took her to Macaroni Grill for her honey balsamic chicken fix. It was just the girls, just like we did last year. Here she’s coloring with her 4-year old granddaughter, Macie.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Anticipation…

25 12 2007

Imagine Santa visiting you at home in Dallas in the early morning..and then after your family travels the 5.5 hour trip to Mema and Papa’s house in San Antonio, you find he’s been there, too, with more presents for you. That Santa truly gets around, doesn’t he?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Taking advantage of that perfect light

19 11 2007

This time around I brought a family to the mix. One of my favorite families, in fact—the Kelleys. The weather and the light were perfect! In less than an hour, we got these shots. I still can’t believe how yellow the background trees were. I haven’t noticed this intensity in past years. Maybe it was the drought and odd weather we’ve been having. A foliage anomaly, perhaps?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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