Canal Walk

I joined a photography group almost a year ago but never participated in any of the actual photo events. I went to a “meet and greet” last summer to see what the whole thing was about and was immediately intimidated by the giant cameras, multiple lens and shop talk of all of the members. The cost of the equipment slung around everyone’s neck was probably worth more than my house.

So I waited for Christmas until I received my upgraded camera to even think about looking at signing up for an event. Some were a little too far away. Some were a little too expensive. But the one I went to on Saturday was practically in my backyard and was only $1 ;-) It was the Canal Walk downtown. I had walked around it several years ago but I wanted to see if/what had changed. Not a whole lot but it was a beautiful day and beat cleaning the house.


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This was a sludgy substance that had accumulated in the corner of a pier and a river bank. As gross as the big picture was, the colors and the sense of movement were beautiful. Reminds me of the handmade paper my grandmother collected.

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It feels wrong to “put my name” on this next one, feels like I’m claiming the actual painting as my own creation. I just took a picture of it…

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I want to go back in a few weeks and take more pictures. Hopefully Spring will have actually sprung by then!


Flowers…and watermarks

I really, really like flowers. I would love to have a fresh bouquet of flowers in the house every day. But alas, I have cats. Who would either naow, naow, naow on them (that’s the chomping/licking sound a cat makes when they eat flowers), or would straight up knock them off the table, spilling water and scattering broken glass every where.

So instead I take lots of pictures of flowers and enjoy them on my computer desktop. Also much cheaper this way ;-) Anyhoo, below are some of my favorites. Some might be repeaters, but I’m posting nonetheless.

I’m also testing out my new mark/watermark/stamp. I’ve been working on it for years. Well, I started it in college, when it was a mandatory assignment. It more or less was a copycat of the 3M mark – 2M. Yup, pretty boring and not thoughtful at all. I panicked, OK!

I forgot about it for several years, then would pick it up and work on it for a couple of weeks, then would get frustrated with it and give up. It is really hard to come up with a logo that encapsulates you as an (aspiring) artist/designer/photographer. I won’t bore with the whys and the hows of how I got here, but I think I’m finally happy with this one. I gave myself room to have different variations, or to just use the McM sort of chevron-looking thingy if I didn’t want to use my whole name.

I have mixed feelings about watermarks on photographs. Most of the time, I’m against them. I see the point, of course, of crediting yourself with the photograph. But when the subject is something that millions of other people have shot a pic of, the Leaning Tower of Pisa for example, I don’t really see the point in watermarking or stamping it. But if your composition is unique, or you’re lucky enough to get a “this is a once in a lifetime moment,” a hail mary at the Superbowl, by all means, please.

These flowers are not Superbowl special…everyone has a picture of a rose. But the first one of the chrysanthemum I think is pretty unique, therefore deserving ;-) But I’ve been wanting to post flowers for a while, and I literally just finished the mark, so why not do a combo and test the waters while smelling the imaginary roses all at the same time?

If it looks small or too light in some cases, that was done intentionally. I don’t want people to be distracted, or to destroy the integrity of the photograph, by making it huge and in your face. Thoughts, comments, criticisms and critiques are always welcome ;-)

Chrysanthemum in a bouquet in the office on Valentine’s Day 20132.14.13 mcm

Gardens at the Biltmore House, Asheville NC 2012Biltmore Gardens Ashville NC 11.8.12 mcm

Orchid – Lewis Ginter, Richmond VA 2012Lewis Ginter Richmond VA 6.21.12 mcm

Hibiscus – Botanic Garden, DC 2011Botanic Garden DC 7.4.11 Hibiscus mcm

Cactus Flower – Botanic Garden, DC 2011Botanic Garden DC 7.4.11 Cactus flower mcm

Pink rose with bee – San Diego, CA 2009San Diego CA 4.28.09 pink rose w bee mcm

Pink & white rose with dew – San Diego, CA 2009San Diego CA 4.28.09 swirl w dew mcm

Yellow rose – San Diego, CA 2009San Diego CA 4.28.09 yellow rose mcm black

McM mark 2013

Our Nation’s Capital

I love fireworks! And what better place to view fireworks than in our Nation’s Capital on the Fourth of July? Our little family has traveled there a few times to see the sights and hear the sounds on that glorious of days. The Fourth is also an extended celebration of Mom’s birthday, so double party!


On our first official vacation to DC, we obviously had to start by doing the most popular thing and took a tour of the monuments and memorials. We even stopped and waved at the White House.

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7.4.08 DC Air Force Memorial

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We later took a dinner cruise around the Potomac and watched the fireworks from the river! It is a beautiful (and oh so crowded), city that has so much to see and do, we couldn’t possibly do it in one trip.


Two years later, we toured the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We also walked around the National Museum of Natural History. The flowers were in the hotel lobby, too pretty to pass taking pictures of ;-)

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We watched the fireworks that year right in front of our hotel. Another fun, history filled trip, but again, there was still much more to see!


We went back the next year and decided to tour the Capitol. We had some time to kill beforehand so we strolled around the Botanic Garden, thinking it would offer a tiny reprieve from the humidity. Word of advice, don’t go into a hot greenhouse, in July, in the south. Just don’t do it. After the Capitol we used the underground tunnel to the Library of Congress. Definitely a place I want to go back to and see more of!

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7.4.11 DC US Capitol from US Botanic Garden

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We watched the fireworks that year from the Ellipse and had a direct view of the Washington Monument as well.

Cherry Blossoms – March 2011

This wasn’t an actual vacation, just a day trip, but have to share anyway. We were either a little too early or a little too late and didn’t catch the blooms at their fullest “cherry” potential, but the Tidal Basin was still amazing to see all bloomed out. Again, it is crazy crowded, but DC wouldn’t be the same without the hecticness ;-)

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Once you know your way around, and can handle massive hordes of hot, cranky people, it’s really not that bad a place to visit. We’ve see most of the big, top touristy things, now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty and see some of the smaller, off-beat sights. Like what, I’m not too sure, but I know a few former DC-ians that I’m sure can point me in a few directions ;-)

The things I do for cats…

…even when they aren’t my pets. My neighborhood has become inundated with feral cats. It’s not like I live out in the boonies or the sticks where there are lots of wide open spaces. It’s a normal community, older houses, mature trees. Just lots of cats. I think a neighbor moved out, left their outdoor cats to fend for themselves, and two years later we have 30-40 cats running around. But how can you not like these cute, sweet faces??








Well, I’ll tell you when they aren’t cute. When the tom cats start fighting at all hours of the day/night, when they spray your welcome mat and glass doors and when they start accosting the little female kitties.

And it’s also not cute when they find a way into the crawl space under your feet. The last straw was when I heard a cat fight, literally a foot away from me, but from underneath me. And my two (indoor only) cats were sitting right in front of me, snoozing. So it couldn’t have been them. I immediately went out and bought what I had been calling a hazmat suit, but really it was just a painters’ jumpsuit. I also bought a mask/hoodie thing to protect my hair. I had some cheap goggles and gloves from a Halloween costume that rounded out the ensemble.

Only thing left to do was to wait for a warm day to ensure the cats were out of the crawl space enjoying the sunny day. That day was today.

I donned my hazmat suit, hoodie, goggles, gloves and tied bags around my shoes. I was ready!



Here I am psyching myself up into crawling into the crawl space. I really, really didn’t want to do this, but knew the only way to confirm what was really going on down there, and to really know for sure none of them were still under there before I blocked the hole, was to just get down and dirty.



It reeked of cat pee, but actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. There was some insulation that had come down, but all in all was relatively clean, for a crawl space. I found one dried cat poopy and that was it. I did find one of the insulated vents hanging down, so I resecured it to the main vent. I’m guessing that was the metallic banging I was always hearing as well, they have actually been crawling around in the vents!

Having staked out the whole space and as satisfied as I could be at that point, I headed back out for some fresh air!




The hole is now completely blocked up, I’m just really hoping I was indeed able to scare all of the cats out, if there were any in there. I guess time will tell. If I hear any more noise, I’ll know something was trapped. If I don’t, then this dirty, smelly chore was a success!

Next on the list, Trap-Neuter-Release! I have 4 appointments in the next couple of months, I just hope I can actually catch them and fix them so they don’t keep repopulating the neighborhood!