Sunday, November 27, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #13: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

This week's mission had the potential to be a real challenge. The mission was to "Go someplace you've never been" which could have been difficult to play out given that it was a holiday week. I had a plan (never a good idea) which never came to fruition, but then I remembered that Saturday was the big Wilcox family holiday party. Unlike years past, we didn't converge on anyone's house or the church for the dinner. This year, we rented a room at the Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, PA. Along with the buffet, they have a gift shop. That's where I fulfilled my mission...

We had to follow the lighted path to get to the end of our mission
and get our family all together...

Terribly fierce bears barred our way but we bribed them
with honey and hugs and they let us pass...

Gilded trees lined the path and confused our senses...

Our confusion grew and we were sure that we were lost
in a strange world from which we could never find our way back...

Then we saw respite ahead! A land of sugar plum fairies!

The Gingerbread Man assured us that we were following the right path...

We found treasures beyond reason!

We pushed our way through the glittery forest that blocked our way...

Faeries giggled as we approached their cottage, our destination...

Success!! Four generations of Wilcoxes in one room!

(Okay, so the last picture wasn't taken with my iPhone, but I had to share it)

We had a wonderful (though too short, as always) day together. I am so proud to be part of such a large and loving family! We are truly blessed!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #12: Let the Weeds Get a Little Out of Control

I was so excited to see the next iPhoneography  mission: "Let the weeds get a little out of control." How perfect! I'm known for having black instead of green thumbs! And my overgrown, wilted, and dried out front yard is proof!

It's also the perfect spot to meet this mission head on!

I used the native camera to take the intial shots, and I took them quickly because it is freezing outside! Once inside and warmed by the fire, I processed all the images using Photo Toaster, which is becoming my favorite iPhoneography tool! My first image is of some mums that dried out. The rest are some sort of bush that the landscaper put in a couple of years ago. I don't know what they are, but they worked well for this mission!!

Beauty Fades


Gone By


The End of Things to Come


I love these missions! I love that they give me a chance to step outside my norm and take pictures of things other than barns. Not that I don't love barns, but it's fun to do something different sometimes!

On to the next!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #11: Meet an Imaginary Friend.

I don't remember him, but my imaginary friend as a child was "Flintstone." He had his own place set for him at the table and beware to anyone who dared sit in his chair. I was around four years old.

This week's iPhoneography mission was a return to that time in our lives when what we imagine, to us, is what is real.

I had so many ideas as I approached this mission. Rigging up crayons to look like they were being held by invisible hands. Shadows of fairy creatures along the floor.

But then two things happened.

1. The work week reared its ugly head and I barely had time to breathe...let alone create the necessary contraptions for my musings.

2. I took this picture:

Will You Play With Me?

My little guy just sort of squatted down and stayed there for a couple minutes, like he was having a private conversation with someone only visible to his eyes. That's when a different inspiration struck. Rather than create a world of imaginary imaginary friends, I would capture his world.

Now, working with a three-year-old? It's a lesson in patience, creativity, and serendipity. In other words, he wasn't at all cooperative when it came to trying to get him to pose for the tableaus in my head. So I did end up relying very, very heavily upon serendipity to get through this mission...

Private Jokes

Like all things, even our childhood's imaginings have to come to an end. Eventually, my friend, Flintstone, gave way other other friends and pursuits. It's an inevitable rite of passage.

Must You Go?

It's all rather bittersweet...


Friday, November 11, 2011

Sometimes, You Just Have to Keep It...

The other day, I posted about my Creation Station.

At the core of this station is the sewing desk that my grandfather built for my grandmother. He built it specifically to house her White sewing machine. The top of the desk has a lid and is a flat surface. When you lift the lid, through a series of hinges and wires, the sewing machine rises from the center of the desk until it is in front of you and ready for use. When you're done sewing, you could tuck the machine away and use the top of the desk as a workspace.

Time to Sew

As I was setting up, I thought about what I was going to do with the sewing machine. I have never used it. It needs a new plug. I don't have the pedal to run least, I don't think I do. It's probably rusted through on all the moving parts.

And as I started moving the desk in place, I thought of all the wonderful uses for that space below the lid. I could use it for extra storage. I could convert it to an easel that pops out when you open the lid. All sorts of cool uses!

But then I looked at my grandmother's sewing machine. I had started to remove it. And I stopped. I can't do it. I can't get rid of it. It simply has to stay. It's the heart of my workspace, and who am I to remove it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Creation Station

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like a creation station of your own.

We set it up in the laundry room/water closet in the basement. Having put in a new and smaller sink, I now had room to set up my own space. My grandfather had built a sewing table for my grandmother decades ago; I set this up as my workspace. Into the drawers I tucked paints and stamps and pens and markers. Underneath I slid a crate of books, awaiting the eventual shelves that Hubby will install for me.

It's ready and waiting. find time to sit there and get to work!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #9: A Spot of Tea?

Mission #10: Make a cup of tea and follow the color saturation of the water.

This mission was a little daunting for me. I don't drink tea, don't keep it in the house. And I wasn't sure how I was even going to complete the mission.

On a trip to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, I threw a box of fruit teas into the cart. I figured that A) they'd be colorful and B) maybe they'd taste good.

As it turns out, I was right on both.

It wasn't until Friday night that I actually tackled the mission at hand. I let my little guy choose the color (deciding that since I had waited so long that I had better just go simple). And while he ate his supper, I snapped pictures. I decided to use Hipstamatic (of course) and let it choose random settings. I also decided to do a mix of "normal" shots and some abstract shots.

At the First
Lens: Lucas AB2
Film: Ina's 1969

Softly As I Leave You
Lens: Lucas AB2
Film: Ina's 1969

Water Color
Lens: Lucas AB2
Film: Ina's 1969

In Your Face
Lens: Jimmy
Film: Ina's 1935

Color Shock
Lens: Jimmy
Film: Ina's 1935

Lens: Lucifer IV
Film: Blanko

A Minor Procedure
Lens: Lucifer IV
Film: Blanko

Removed from the Storm
Lens: Buckhorst H1
Film: Kodot XGrizzled

A Spot of Tea
Lens: Susie
Film: Ina's 1935

Lens: Roboto Glitter
Film: Claunch 72 Monochrome

How Did I Get Here?
Lens: John S
Film: BlacKeys B+W

Lens: Roboto Glitter
Film: Claunch 72 Monochrome

A Shock to the System
Lens: Roboto Glitter
Film: Blanko

Lens: Roboto Glitter
Film: Blanko

Lens: Bettie XL
Film: Ina's 1935

Against All Odds
Lens: Bettie XL
Film: Ina's 1969

Lens: Susie
Film: BlacKeys B+W

Mission accomplished! As I saved the shots to my laptop, I couldn't help but think that there was a pop art/Andy Warhol feel to some of them. I can imagine them being in a collage, grouped in four, and all the colors changed and emboldened. I started playing with that notion, got distracted, changed my mind, and then came up with this shot which I think is kind of cool:

Storm of Negativity
Lens: Buckhorst H1
Film: Kodot XGrizzled
Processed: PhotoShop

Now, I sit back, coffee safely in hand and bags of tea tucked away. My brain is off wondering if I could paint with the remaining tea...use it as sort of an organic watercolor paint...

My brain is also wondering what the next mission will be. What new challenge will be presented...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Random Early Chapter

This is it, your final sneak peek. I do have to finish writing it, you know. Can't spend all my time cutting and pasting!

Last night I hit the hundredth page. It felt like such a huge accomplishment. The story still has so far to go, but there's something magical about that number: 100.

So while I go back to work, you should read on to see what happened to our main character, Renee, on the night when the world changed...

While that night's thunderstorm didn’t start the end of the world, it did herald its coming. Wind whipped through the trees, tossing the branches into the power lines as carelessly as a teenager tosses his clothing to the floor. The lightning came in steady flashes that lit up the entire town. Each bolt was brighter than the previous one, and soon, it seemed that the entire sky was on fire. At a few homes, startled faces could be seen peering through the windows, staring in shock at the fury outside.

Renee slept through the beginning of the storm. When she woke up, dazed and unsure of where she was, the thunder and lightning were nearly constant. The thunder was at such a constant rumbling roar, in fact, that part of her tired brain wondered if one of the local trains was barreling toward her apartment. The lightning had her room so brightly lit up that part of her feared it might be morning already. The rain was pelting against her bedroom window, as if it were begging to be let in, to be saved from the rest of the storm.

Groaning with exhaustion, she rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but the fury of the storm kept intruding on her attempt. Finally, she sighed and pulled herself free from the tangled sheets of her bed. The bedroom was muggy, the humidity pressing against her so hard that it felt like she were walking through a wall of warm gelatin. The light cotton t-shirt she had worn to bed was stuck to her back and she could feel strands of hair sticking to the nape of her neck. She lifted it and twirled into a loose ponytail, holding it in place with her hand as she walked over to the window.

The air conditioner was silent. She punched the button on its face. Nothing. She unplugged it and plugged it back in. Doing so, she looked over to her nightstand. Her alarm clock was blinking a red "12:00" over and over. Figures, she thought. She again hit the button to turn the air conditioner back on. Nothing.

Sighing with exasperation, she grabbed her pillow and a blanket from the bottom of the bed. Dragging them behind her, she padded out to the living room and out through the French doors that led to her side porch. It wouldn’t be the first time that a blown fuse had driven her to the porch, seeking respite from the intolerable heat of her apartment. Pushing the door shut behind her, she turned to look out toward town. The wind was fierce and nearly drove her back inside. She squinted into the rain that hit her face like small daggers. She and her makeshift bed were getting soaked, but at least the rain felt cool against her sweaty skin.

The entire street was lit up. There wasn’t even a lull between flashes of lightning. The thunder was still roaring like a freight train; even the solid brick construction of her apartment building was shuddering with each crash through the electrically charged air. Renee looked to the sky, wondering if she should be watching for a tornado. Tornados were unusual for Pennsylvania, but with how bad the storm was, Renee was really expecting to see the dark mass of a funnel cloud forming in the angry sky.

What she wasn’t expecting to see was some idiot standing right in the middle of that chaos, and an idiot she assumed him to be considering his choice of nights on which to take a leisurely walk through town. She didn’t notice him at first; she was too taken in by the angry green cast of the turbulent sky, the forked trails of fluorescent lightning, and the frantic shudder of the building around her. A sheet of rain pelted the porch where she stood, startling and further soaking her. She stepped backward, prepared to open the door, and glanced at the rain-soaked street

A bolt of lightning that seemed to rise in front of her illuminated the man. He was tall. That much she could tell from her second story vantage point. And he was just standing there, right on the yellow line separating the two lanes of traffic that traveled the main street. He was unmoving except for a barely perceptible swaying. A second bolt of lightning seemed to get his attention. He looked around him and slowly began to move in a shambling gait down the street.

Stupid drunk, she muttered under her breath. Still, it was strange behavior even for one of the local drunks. Pelted by another sheet of rain, Renee scurried back into her apartment and locked the door behind her. Though her side porch had offered her respite many times before, the rain was too unruly for her to stay out and attempt to fall back to sleep. I’d probably drown first, she thought as she spread out the blanket to dry. Before returning to bed, she checked the locks on her front and back doors.

She couldn’t say why, but she was unnerved. As she peeled off her drenched t-shirt and tossed it in the wicker hamper in the corner, Renee found herself suppressing a shiver. It was far too hot to have been a shiver from the rain. Convincing herself that the combination of the late hour and the raging storm were simply sending her already overactive imagination into overdrive, Renee crawled onto her bed wearing only her underwear. She spread herself out as much as she could, trying to keep one sweaty body part from coming into contact with any other sweaty body parts. Within minutes, she was asleep.

Renee’s sleep was restless at best.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Part Two: The Infection

Collin Englewood snorted with derision. Stupid old man, he thought, as he wiped off the counter where he’d been working for the past six hours. The lab’s cleaning crew would be in to decontaminate the room after he left, but he prided himself in his fastidious ways. His toe kicked the lid of an empty Petri dish and he scowled, shaking his head. Seeing no label, he tossed it on Dr. Flynn’s cluttered desk and brushed his hands together. There.

Collin left the lab a little after six in the evening. On the way out, he waved to the two receptionists who manned the front desk. They waved back and the cuter of the two blessed him as he sneezed.

Pulling through the first checkpoint, Collin dropped his identification badge during another burst of sneezes. The guard picked it up for him, wishing him a good night before opening the gate.

Collin was quickly waved through the second and final checkpoints as both guards had families and didn’t want to bring the cold or flu home with them. By that point, Collin was coughing spasmodically and his nose had become nearly faucet-like with its continuous running.

Before heading home, Collin pulled into the EZ Drug and Grocery two blocks from his apartment building. He held the door open for a young mother overburdened by three bags, a stroller, and a rambunctious toddler. In the wellness aisle, he picked up a bottle of Echinacea and helped an elderly woman by pulling an herbal laxative from the top shelf. The checkout girl handled his cash with her fingernails, not wanting to catch whatever it was that he had. Catching his reflection in a security mirror, Collin flinched. He looked like death.

The foyer of his apartment building housed a bank of mailboxes. Collin grabbed his mail along with Mr. Hartwell, Mrs. Glover, Maxine from down the hall, and the guy from 2B. The elevator was nearly full, but Collin was able to squeeze in next to Bambi, the girl who owned the flower shop on the next block. He tried to smile flirtatiously, but she swallowed in disgust at the yellow goo rimming the edge of his eyes and edged a step away from him.

Finally reaching his apartment, Collin fumbled with his keys, dropping them twice before getting the door open. The door remained open as he stumbled into his living room, dropped face-first onto his sofa, and passed out.

Sleep quickly turned into a coma as the C-143x permeated Collin’s system. His central nervous system shut down completely; its destruction guaranteeing him freedom from pain. His brain underwent what amounted to a rewiring, and its function was reduced to a primal, feral survival instinct. In six hours, Collin Englewood was little more than a walking, hungry corpse. The same could be said for the nineteen people he’d encountered on the way home, the forty-seven people they’d encountered, and ninety-six people beyond that.

In twelve hours, the uninfected would be a minority.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I had good intentions last year. I got about 95 pages in, even!!

But I did not finishe my NaNoWriMo. With a toddler, a husband, and a full-time job...writing a novel in a month just doesn't happen. And I'm not willing to sacrifice sleep, soooo...

Now, however, I find myself back in November with the next NaNoWriMo starting today. So what do I do? Start a new novel? Skip it?

Neither. I'm going to continue what I started last year. If I finish it, great! If I don't, fine! I'll know what I'm working on next November!

What I started writing last year was a book called Dust and Ashes. As many people who know me know, I love zombies. Terrified of them. But I love them. So I started to write a zombie book. It's actually not as much about zombies as I expected, but that's the nature of writing a novel. Just when you think you know what it's about, it changes course and surprises you.

So I believe that I shall continue working on it and see what happens. In the mean time, for your reading pleasure, Part One of my book. Consider it a mini-prologue, if you will...

Part One: The Mistake
            Dr. Xavier Flynn looked down at the bright, white toes of his orthopedic sneakers. His wife had insisted it was time to start wearing something with more support, and he had to admit he had been limping less of late. He chose not to admit that wearing sneakers made him feel young again, and he had haphazardly flirted with one of the lab interns last week.
            Now, his bright, white toes were sprinkled with the gray and green flakes that had previously been cultivating in a Petri dish. Said Petri dish was on the floor in front of his shoes, cracked down the middle, the lid popped off and resting halfway across the room.
            “You okay, Dr. Flynn?”
            Dr. Flynn looked up and smoothed his features, crafting a patronizing smile for Collin Englewood. Collin was staring at him through goggles that magnified his curious eyes to Coke-bottle proportions. He was also trying to control the twitching of his mouth as it desperately tried to form a smirk. Trying and failing. Dr. Flynn could see the young scientist’s battle to keep a straight face and hated the pompous little twit just a little more than usual.
            “Just fine, dear boy.” And Dr. Flynn grinned inwardly and outwardly at the sneer Collin gave the condescending moniker before turning back to his notes and beaker. “Just fine.”
            Dr. Flynn not, in fact, just fine. He watched as the green and gray dust spread from small mites into a spider web of mold before turning white and flaking away. C-143x had gone airborne.
            Cleaning up the now empty Petri dish, Dr. Flynn shoved it in the pocket of his lab coat. He reached into the containment unit and reshuffled the remaining dishes so that, at first glance, nothing was amiss.
            The first tickles hit his throat but he forced back a cough. His heart palpitated and he wasn’t sure if it were because of the spreading infection or the spreading fear.
            Busying himself for a couple of minutes, Dr. Flynn made a show of checking his watch.
            “Collin, my boy, this old man is going to call it a day. Be sure to catalog the rest of the P2XC cultures before you leave for the day.”
            Ignoring the scowl Collin gave him, Dr. Flynn walked out of the lab. He waved at the security guard as he drove through the final checkpoint.
            When he got home, he kissed his wife of forty-three years before shooting her and then himself in the head.