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Sunday, December 30, 2012

finding the light in darkness

I have had an email notification in my inbox for a couple weeks now, the latest newsletter from Kat Eye Studio, with an invitation to join in Kat's Exploring with a Camera series.

I love Kat's insights on photography, creativity, and life. With the extra busy-ness of the Christmas holiday season, I didn't really have time to do much with it...until now. This is the first time I've participated in one of Kat's challenges. TBQH, it's partly because I already had a couple decent shots that would fit the bill. But, more importantly, the title "Find the Light in Darkness" has been whispering quietly to me from the shadows, calling to mind the words from a favorite Advent hymn, A Season of Light. When I googled the hymn, searching for lyrics to share, I found this wonderful post.


In photography, it's all about the light. And in night photography, that light is all the more precious -  and elusive with a camera.

This is a shot of my brother Greg's home, where our extended family gathered for Christmas Eve. When we drove up, my nephews, Danny and Joey, were busy setting up luminaria (see my previous post). I quickly darted out into the cold night to try and capture the beautiful effect. Just my handheld camera + my 50mm lens, set to Aperture Priority. These images speak to me of the hospitality and warmth of the Christmas season...if you look closely you can peer into the windows where everyone was having a good time!

I quickly arranged the two best shots into a Lightroom layout (thank you again Kim Klassen) and here we are...these shots are SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera).

God of all power
You kindle the stars
spark in your people
spark in us a season of light


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

una tradizione di famiglia Notarianni

Translation: "a Notarianni family tradition."

Like any tradition, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when/how this all started. It seems to have evolved over the years until it became a formula of sorts. Several years ago my mother, aka Grandma, thought it would be fun to teach her seven grandkids how to make pasta, as taught to her by her father-in-law, Gregorio Notarianni, who was taught by his wife, Della.

You know, I do remember making pasta with our Grandpa when we were kids. Specifically ravioli and gnocchi. He even taught us how to make ricotta cheese.

Greg, Cindy, Adrienne, Lissa
making ravioli with our Grandpa
November 1969

We seemed to settle on gnocchi, probably because it is a bit more practical to make by and for large crowds. Gnocchi - pronounced nyocky - is made with mashed potatoes kneaded into the pasta dough, which is then cut into little pieces and rolled on the gnocchi board to get the ridged texture.

Erin and Kelly
making gnocchi with Grandma
December 1999
(same kitchen, same table....30 years later)

In recent years, more than one grandkid has been heard asking if/when we were going to be making pasta for Christmas Eve - as early as mid-October.

Then we would all gather on Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's house to feast on the fruits of our labor, topped with homemade sauce: ragu - pronounced rah-ooh in our family's own dialect, and served with homemade bracciole - bra-jhole -, meatballs and sausage. Let me tell you: it's heaven on earth.

This year, Grandma decided it was time to "pass the torch" and let us kids and grandkids take over everything, from making the ragu to hosting the dinner. Kelly and Aaron offered to make the ragu and bracciole at their place a few weeks ago. I hosted the gnocchi-making party at my place a week before Christmas...you gotta let the pasta air-dry for a few days, then freeze it (my sister Adrienne was in charge of that part).

Wisely, Grandma stepped back and only offered input when called upon for clarification, like "Do we add the potatoes to the flour "volcano" before or after we fill it with the beaten eggs?" (there was a serious debate going on here); she was also called upon to poke her finger into the dough to determine if we had kneaded enough flour into it.

Aaron and Kelly offered to make the ragu and bracciole at their place a few weeks ago. I hosted the gnocchi-making party at my place a week before Christmas...you gotta let the pasta air-dry for a few days, then freeze it (my sister Adrienne was in charge of that part).

MAKING CHRISTMAS DINNER from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.

My brother Greg and his wife Lynn hosted dinner for 17 people on Christmas Eve, complete with dozens of luminaria (Lynn hails from Albuquerque) and a White Elephant gift exchange.

This year's celebration was extra special because everyone was home for Christmas, so Grandma had all her children and grandchildren gathered around her.

CHRISTMAS EVE from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.

Buon Natale!

Monday, December 24, 2012

what Christmas is all about

'And there were in the same country
shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,
Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you:
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'

Luke 2:8-14

In the immortal words of Linus, "...That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."


Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 9, 2012


From a very early age it was understood that my husband Bob (RW) would follow in his father's footsteps and become a police officer. For over 28 years he honourably "served and protected" his fellow citizens, first in Toronto and later here in Lakewood, Colorado. He loved being a street cop.

Sgt 523
Metro Toronto Police

Early in his career he took up competitive shooting in order that he might be well-trained in the use of his sidearm: the one tool on which his life might depend. Bob's enjoyment of the shooting sports quickly grew into a passion for weapons training, which he in turn shared with his fellow officers. For 25 years he trained fellow officers in firearms proficiency and tactical safety. He eventually specialized in Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).

MetroToronto's Emergency Task Force (ETF)
Team 6 Leader

Since his retirement in 2009, he has built his own business, RW Firearms Training. To say that it is his pride and joy is an understatement.

photo courtesy of Grant Leighton

But it's not just about the guns. Widely known in shooting circles as RW (Robert William) - Bob is definitely a people person. Remember the bit about his sidearm being the one tool on which his life might depend? Well, before he would ever allow himself to draw his weapon in any given situation, he made sure that he had exhausted all other options. In SWAT circles, it is known as the Three T's: Time, Talk, Tactics. In other words, a police officer needs to rely on his people skills to do his job well. In Bob's case, that includes a wicked sense of humour. They still talk about Bob's many witty "Swainsonisms" at Lakewood.

And, by the way, just because you have a skill doesn't mean you can teach it. Just ask his many clients, students, and fellow officers over the years if RW has taught them well. He is truly a gifted teacher. And he manages to make it fun, too. Bob counts many of his clients among his closest friends.

Running your own business is hard work, but we both acknowledge how truly blessed he is to be doing what he loves. And, as he likes to say, "I get to sleep with the boss's wife." LOL.

Enjoy this short video, borrowed from Bob's website and produced by his good friend and colleague Chris Mailliard, President and CEO of Fusion Preparedness.

Happy Birthday Bob!

May you continue to enjoy
the fruits of your labour
for years to come.


For all you photographers and fellow bloggers, I used one of Kim Klassen's storyboard templates for Photoshop. I scanned the old snapshots, then did some adjusting to even out the varied color tones among the group. I dropped them into the storyboard file, then layered a couple textures, including one of my own scans of a bit of textured fabric to convey the nostalgic/childhood/home feel I get whenever I look at old snapshots.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

humble beginnings: part 2

Here is the scrapbook layout that started with my recent post about Dad's birthplace...

...and on the facing page is the story of Dad's birth:

"Della was at work in the box office of the Star Theater, which she and Greg owned and operated, when she went into labor. She went home and later that night she gave birth. One week later she returned to work with baby Aldo in tow."

The three snapshots were likely taken on the occasion of Dad's baptism. The wonderful portrait was probably done around his first birthday...the baby shoes have a real sole, but are clearly not worn yet, so he was probably just beginning to walk; and he's sporting a nice haircut. I think he looks like my brother's son, Danny...this photo reminds me of a favorite picture of him as a baby. Although that little half-smile is reminiscent of my Grandpa. Oh how I love these old photographs!

Did you notice Dad's unusual middle name, Giacinto? It means "hyacinth." Dad once told me that they chose my name, Cynthia, because it sounded like hyacinth. (I looked it up once a long time ago..."Cynthia" actually originated as Kynthia, another name for the Greek goddess of the moon, Artemis). I like Dad's etymology better. It's like I was, in a way, named after him! How cool is that?

I love mixing it up and playing with papers, ink, stickers, embossing powder, chipboard, paper punches, silk flowers, brads...and my computer too! They call it Hybrid Scrapbooking. I just do whatever it takes to get me there.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

a flat tire for erin

If my art - and this blog - is going to be about Life, then I must include its challenges as well as its joys. That means writing the backstory with each image.

I posted this image last week on Erin's Facebook wall in response to her Black Friday post, which read simply this:

Thinking of all the miserable ingrates today that are scrambling for stupid crap that will never make them happy...all I want for Christmas is my health back, for the pain to stop. I'll never want anything so much as long as I live :(

I debated whether to share it here on my blog, but with Erin's blessing, here I sit at my keyboard.

The pain Erin speaks of is caused by IC - Interstitial Cystitis, with which she was diagnosed in August. I won't trouble you with any details, but you can imagine what her life has been like since then. On a side note, Erin is no stranger to painful challenges in her life, so she is already somewhat of a learned philosopher at the ripe old age of 21, thus meeting this situation with considerable experience under her belt.

For anyone who has experienced a painful and/or potentially life-altering physical condition - yourself or that of a loved one - you probably already know the words to this song. 

We - her family and friends - continue to support Erin on this journey, doing what we can to help her deal with the myriad of issues that crop up. Often that means just listening to her work things out in her own mind/heart. These are treasured, if bittersweet, times together indeed. Truth be told, I think that I have learned more from her than she has from me.

Erin is learning to navigate the world of medical specialists and surgical procedures, therapies and diets, etc., and the complexities of medical insurance - all necessary life skills. A well-informed, responsible patient, she comes to the table with her homework done, thoroughly researching every medical term, medication and its potential side effects, usually before she's even seen the doctor. She actually told the doctors that she had IC! She has also learned much from the experiences of other sufferers, mainly via the internet. She, in turn, lends her support to others, sharing her experience - and wisdom - with others via her Tumblr.

But she is learning so much more...in a nutshell: what really matters in life...and what doesn't.

I don't know where all this is going, but when do we really know that in this life? For now the situation is like a good trail: challenging terrain, full of twists and turns, seemingly impossible steep, rocky climbs, and heart-stopping descents...and if you lift up your eyes every now and then, you are blessed with some awesome scenery along the way.

And - for Erin - maybe a little insight into Life. (Seriously...it's how I ride.)

Now, for anyone interested in the genesis of the first image, there's this:

  1. While I was searching online for the exact wording of a favorite half-remembered quote on adversity, I stumbled across the one above. I quickly forgot the one I was looking for.
  2. I then searched my hard drive for an appropriate bike photo...and found the one above, from our trip to Fruita, on the Utah border. This photo was taken by my husband Bob, with a little Nikon point-&-shoot camera, just moments before we got separated and I got lost. Out in the middle of nowhere. In the hot sun. With not a soul around. I digress.
  3. I cropped the photo down to just the bike tire on the right, then cloned away the distracting shadows. Then just some tinkering with color, light, textures, adjustment layers, etc. until it looked like I wanted and said what I wanted it to say. I actually started with one of Kim Klassen's wonderful tutorials, but it took on a life of its own and ended with probably way too many layers.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

gratitude: for emily

I think a lot about the concept of gratitude. I have for a long time. 

Since I was eight years old, as a matter of fact, when I first read about Pollyanna's Glad Game. Who'd have thought that a children's book could hold so much sway in a person's life? Ask my girls. It is a game I have played with them since their childhood.

Then there's Dennis Prager, whose daily radio show I faithfully podcast, not the least of which because of his weekly Happiness Hour. Dennis says that one cannot be happy without gratitude. I already knew that! (yeah, I too often quote Dennis Prager as well.)

And then there's Emily, who has taught me more about life in her 20 years - than I could ever have imagined - mainly about faith and hope and love and courage...and gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Because it's not about Turkey. Or Football. Or Shopping.
(seriously...how did we ever come to this point!?)

* * *

Emily, this post is for you.
Enjoy your Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge Chunk ice cream.


Here's how this image came about:

I made a still life photo a little while ago, not really sure just where I was going with it. I arranged a few of the acorns I picked up beneath a little oak tree next to the bank where I work, then added a few strands of ornamental grass, cut from our garden. I played with the image,  first in Lightroom and then in Photoshop - intermittently over the course of a few weeks - just like painting... adjusting the lighting, contrast, color, etc. and then adding a few texture layers. I borrowed the quote from an email Kelly shared with me yesterday...she always kindly forwards e-newsletters from the Center for Great Apes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

humble beginnings

mouse over to see the original

1720 West 34th Avenue
Denver, Colorado

This is the house where Dad was born, almost 88 years ago.

As you know, I am finishing Dad's genealogy scrapbook. I had originally planned to just use a small black & white "snapshot" version of this photo, to document Dad's birthplace in a layout about his birth. But as I collected and scanned old photos, I was inexplicably pulled back to this, my own, photo. And then, over the course of a few days, the oft-used phrase humble beginnings kept whispering to me, "use me for a layout about Dad's humble beginnings..."

Oh boy, here we go again: despite my own best intentions, my art tells me what to do and leads me off in a direction I hadn't planned. I have learned to listen.


Dad's story is the classic American Dream. Born of immigrant parents, who, while not dirt-poor, had very little materially. They lived simply and honorably, scrimped and saved every penny...in order to give their son the best that they could offer: faith in God above, loving and devoted parents, a quality education...a good start in life.

Aldo grew up and become a distinguished attorney; he married and raised a family...and with Mom at his side, passed on the values of his parents: he lived simply and honorably, scrimped and saved, giving his children the best that he could offer: faith in God above, loving and devoted parents, a quality education...a good start in life.


When you "mouse over to see the original," you will see the original photograph I took in February, 2005, while on a genealogy research excursion with Dad into what was once called "Little Italy" (also known as Lower North Denver). At Dad's request, I took my camera and drove him around the neighborhood, documenting some of the landmarks of his childhood.

Dad's parents - Greg and Della - rented this little house from Della's mother, Carmela Libonati, who lived in the big house next door; they lived there for a just few short years before eventually moving to a home of their own.


I really had fun photo editing this image. Sure, the subject matter is the house, but the subject itself is fond memories of lives lived, of a bygone era. Not my own, but Dad's. I wanted, above all, to convey a feeling, not just document a place. 

I knew I needed to remove or minimize details of contemporary life, so I erased the wires and neutralized the colors; then I applied a couple Rad Lab filters to get that "misty memories" feel. I initially tried simply converting it to black & white, but it didn't convey the emotions I felt. I probably spent most of my time fine-tuning the colors until it felt just right. I did seek help from one of Kim Klassen's inspiring video tutorial "recipes," from her blog. I believe it was entitled "Dream Processing." And of course, because I can never follow any recipe accurately, I changed it up a bit here and there, as Kim herself expects her students to do.

Can't wait to share the scrapbook layout...


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

li'l punkins: part 2

So...when I made the storyboard for last week's post, which was just the three photos, I figured I might as well print it so I could use it for the girls' scrapbooks. On a whim I decided to print it on a transparency...then I left the rest up to chance, adding stitching, assorted papers, stamping, stickers, ribbon and tags, just making it up as I went along. Then Dad & I both signed. Yes, I made two identical layouts, one for each daughter's scrapbook.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

li'l punkins

One sunny autumn day
21 years ago
in a field on a little farm
north of Toronto...
we found these two l'il punkins.


What joy they have brought
to our lives!

I've been playing around in Photoshop and Lightroom, learning so many things that my brain is tired. Once again, huge thanks to Kim Klassen for leading me on this grand adventure, through her many fabulous online courses this past year.

I've also been reading a new book - Vision & Voice, by David duChemin...inspiring me to "discover your vision for that image - the internal, invisible guiding principle that directs how you capture the image and how you develop it in the digital darkroom. Without vision, you likely find yourself flailing both behind the camera and in front of the computer - indiscriminately shooting and arbitrarily moving sliders in hopes of stumbling upon something great every once in awhile."

As with any art form, once you learn some basic skills, you start thinking about what you want to say with your art, or as David puts it, "identifying your vision...and giving it voice."

This little storyboard is the first project I've attempted since studying David's book; strangely enough, it involves a handful of snapshots I took 21 years ago, before I ever considered photography to be my art form (well, one of them, at least). I started with a Vision (simply this: a sentimental recollection of fond memories from my girls' childhood), dug out the snapshots, scanned them into my computer, and played with them in Lightroom and Photoshop....til I had given it Voice.

Yeah...it's a pretty simple, straightforward Vision, but totally from my heart and soul...where I have always found my best "stuff."

Stay tuned for the scrapbook layout...Halloween seems a reasonable deadline for me. Got the urge play with some paper and glue and paint and embellishments and....


Thursday, October 18, 2012

greg & della

Awhile back I posted a few of Dad's scrapbook pages from his genealogy project (check out my archives...it was August 4th). It was a hobby that we shared, combining our love of art with our fascination with family history. Well, he never finished, but he got as far as the story of his own mother and father (my grandparents), up to their meeting and falling in love.

I decided several months ago - with Mom's enthusiastic approval - to pick up where Dad left off.
To the best of my ability, I hope to complete Dad's beloved project.

I have given it a lot of thought as to how to proceed, and have had many discussions with Mom, on whom I am relying as my primary source of information...and the keeper of all family photos. A couple weeks ago we had our first really productive gathering/organizing/brainstorming session, and here is what came of our efforts:

I started with their wedding portrait - which never fails to take my breath away - copied from an original print which hangs on my living room wall alongside several old family photos. One of the very first design decisions I made was to include a bit of heirloom Italian lace, from Della's own collection. Years ago my mother documented it (we affectionately called our grandmother "Dudie"):

From Dudie Notarianni's things:
This lace is from Italy and was part of the trousseau of her friend, the Countess Chilasotti, whose husband was the Italian Consul in Denver during the 1920's. 
a peek inside my box of heirloom lace

The accompanying page features a copy of their marriage certificate and wedding announcement, which Mom and I discovered among the documents and photos Dad had assembled.

We know very little about the wedding ceremony, but we do know that Della's mother, Carmela, did not want Greg to marry her daughter. Grandpa told me once that he had to marry her...he just couldn't let her marry the older, well-to-do man that her mother had intended for her. Their in-law relationship remained strained after that.

Greg and Della were devoted to each other for almost 46 years, until my grandmother's death in 1968.
She was laid to rest in her wedding gown.


Monday, October 8, 2012

a hug for enna

Sometimes it's all I can offer.

(a page from Erin's scrapbook - April 2010)


miss you dad

Home at last


Rest in Peace

(a page from my art journal - October 8, 2011)

Friday, October 5, 2012


This is actually a re-post. Which means I accidentally deleted an old post by "cleaning up" my drafts folder.
You know how that goes...

This weekend, as we remember Dad (has it really been a year since he's gone?) I want to honor his memory by sharing this piece. It kinda combines three of Dad's passions:


I made this for my brother, Greg, in the summer of 2011, on the occasion of his moving downtown to a new office. Greg and Dad practiced law together for almost 15 years, up until Dad retired in 1999. In Greg's own words, "the time we practiced law together was the best time I ever had with Dad."

It all started with this portrait photo, which was taken several years ago, and is a family favorite. I've had this photo on display in my home for years, and it warms my heart each time I set eyes on it.

I played with the original color photo in Photoshop Elements, changing it to b&w to sort of neutralize the color so that I could would not be limited in my color choices. I printed it and glued it to chipboard, then distressed it with sandpaper, rubbed some ink into it, and roughed up the edges with my Dremel. I then layered it with tea-dyed scrim and "aged" bits of silk leaves in an old AOL CD tin, which I sanded, hammered, heated, rusted and generally abused til it looked just right. Same with the silver colored "bolo" which I cut in half and placed behind the tin along with some vintage lace and a scrap of upholstery fabric.

I was inspired by mixed media artist, Joanna Pierotti, in an online class I took with her over a year ago. When I saw her work, it was one of those "I want to do that too!" moments. I also was able to draw upon some of the aging, distressing and embellishing techniques I learned in a fabulous weekend workshop I attended two years ago, with another amazing artist, Australian Judy Wilkenfeld.

I am quite likely repeating myself here...this blog is a way for me to share my art with family and friends...just like I used to do with Dad, who was always very supportive of my artistic endeavors, and fascinated by the many techniques and media I've played with over the years. While he never did see this piece, I know he would have loved it.

I can hear him now..."how did you do that?"


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

erin & haakon

mouse over to see the original

“So it's not gonna be easy. It's going to be really hard;
we're gonna have to work at this everyday,
but I want to do that because I want you.

I want all of you, forever, everyday.
You and me... everyday.”

Nicholas Sparks
The Notebook 


Awhile back I was enjoying all the wonderful snapshots taken by my sister-in-law, Pat Swainson, at Kelly & Aaron's wedding in August (because the Mother of the Bride certainly didn't have time to take many pictures that day...Thank you, Pat!)

It didn't take long to zero in on this wonderful shot of Erin and Haakon, recently engaged.

And then I started playing with it in Photoshop. I accidentally cropped it at an angle...and I liked it! I didn't have to do much else to this photogenic couple, so I sent it to Erin and she happily posted it on her Facebook wall.

One comment stuck in my head: that of my nephew Joey - away at college and unable to attend Cousin Kelly's wedding in his own home. It was something like, "I know that brick..."

I simply had to do something about "that brick" or that's all I would ever see.

Back to Photoshop to painstakingly clone the grout away, and...voila!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

a thistle for lynn

I made this little piece for my dear sister-in-law, Lynn, as a thank you gift for hosting Kelly &Aaron's wedding. I stumbled across this wonderful quote from Jonathan Lockwood Huie when I was messing around with a thistle photo a couple months ago, hoping to combine the quote with the photo.

I immediately thought of Lynn when I read this...and laughed out loud. You see, Lynn has attempted to obliterate this particular "weed" from her garden: the stubborn Canada Thistle (yes, Canada - lol) that has invaded our state in recent years. While she admits that its magenta blossom is pretty, she cannot abide the thorny stems and leaves, and its aggressive nature makes it really difficult to control. Several months ago, when I told Lynn that Kelly had chosen the thistle - albeit the Scottish one - for her bridal bouquet, we both laughed at the irony.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

sunny aspen trail

We biked here a few weeks ago, when the aspen were just hinting at the seasonal change. So we knew where we'd be headed on my regular day off this week, hoping to catch the aspen at the peak of their brilliant fall colors. Meyer Ranch Park is just this side of Conifer and only a half hour or so from home. We had the place to ourselves, with hardly a soul there. We wouldn't even attempt it this weekend - likely the last chance to enjoy the fall colors up in the mountains.

I took along my iPod 'cause I knew it would be a spectacular ride. (I couldn't resist playing with the Instagram app - I used the X-pro II filter...it warmed up everything and heightened the already glorious yellows.)

I plan on revisiting this post in the dead of winter just so I can re-live this ride.

And remember...biking is a lot like life:

You gotta keep your eye on the trail
so you can see
where you are going
...carefully navigating the challenges on the ground,
like rocks, roots, waterbars, tight switchbacks, trees etc.

The kind of stuff that can trip you up
if you're not careful.

But every once in awhile, look around you
and notice how beautiful life is.

Especially the little things...

...and every now and then
look up and
thank God
for it all.

Enjoy the ride!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

sweet september

Lately I've been immersed in an online class to learn Photoshop Lightroom. Pretty intense, and definitely straining my little brain. An excellent class, though, this Round Trip: from Lightroom to Photoshop and Back Again, taught by the talented and generous Kim Klassen.

So while I've been waiting for my massive photo folder to copy into my Lightroom Catalogue, I decided to play around with Kim's latest challenge in her year-long Beyond Layers class entitled Sweet Adjustments. I followed her video tutorial with her sample image and then used one of my own photos, which you see here. I followed Kim's recipe pretty closely, but added a layer of texture in the end - her kk_paperandpaste, to grunge up the too-clean white border a little bit. I actually took this shot in Olde Arvada one warm spring day a few months ago, while I was out and about, playing with my new camera.

As I watched the image "develop" tonight in Photoshop, it seemed to take on a warm, late summer glow, with the tinge of early autumn colors that we are experiencing here in Colorado after a summer of relentless heat and drought.

It kinda captures how I feel this time of year. How about you?

Friday, September 14, 2012

heron song

Every quilter - every artist, in fact - has at least a few "UFO's" in a closet somewhere. UnFinished Objects. They're those projects that, for one reason or another, never quite made it to completion. There's nothing wrong with that...it's part of the creative process.

So I've had this little UFO sitting in a box of quilting "stuff" for some 12 years. It is the last quilt I designed for my pattern company, Columbine Designs. But I never could bring myself to finish it. You see, after designing, producing, and marketing quilt patterns for about five years, I was just plain burned out.

Every once in awhile I would come across this little quilt, and briefly consider finishing it. But I could never get motivated enough to even pick up a needle and thread...

...until a few months ago. A casual dinner conversation with my brother, Greg, finally produced the motivational "fuel" needed to finish it. An avid nature lover, he was relating to me his delight in the great blue heron that graces his garden in the early morning hours. Greg insisted that this far-sighted bird would spy on him as he moved about inside his house, getting dressed for work. You don't often encounter this bird, especially in the city, so it's a real treat to see one this close.

Lightbulb moment! I suddenly remembered my little heron quilt, which now held Real Meaning and Purpose for me. And Kelly's wedding was fast approaching, with me considering what small token could sufficiently convey my gratitude to Greg and his wife, Lynn, for hosting the event in their back yard at the very pond where his beloved heron likes to visit!

Greg, there's a lot of love stitched up in this little quilt, and I am so glad it now has a home with you and Lynn, because sometimes words are not enough...


Thursday, September 6, 2012

wedding bells...the slideshows

Here are the long-awaited slideshows I've been working on for the past week. I kept telling Kelly and Aaron that they'd be posted soon...but this is another new skill set for me, with assistance from Kim & Xanthe's amazing tutorials, using yet another new program: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (which I was able to corrupt and cause to crash due to my own fumbling around within it. AppleCare Tech Support to the rescue! It's all good.) I literally couldn't wait for Kim's brand-new class to begin: Round Trip: From Lightroom to Photoshop and Back Again.

Please feel free to share via Facebook, or email or whatever, so that all family and friends, near and far - those who were able to join us and those who could not - can enjoy the festivities. I tried to include everyone in the collection...and I hope I didn't miss anyone. Thank you Pat for sharing your photos; can't wait to see the video! Once things got really rolling on the Big Day I couldn't seem to get my hands on my own camera - or keep track of the cup of ice water I kept pouring, then setting down, then forgetting where I put it. Truly...too much fun!

If you would like a copy of any or all of the wedding photos, let me or Kelly know. All of the photos here have been saved for web viewing as well as for print purposes.

Pre-Wedding Dinner in Ft Collins from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.

Didn't know just what to call this one, which encompasses the preparations and rehearsal, etc. Yes, Kelly, "organized chaos" describes it perfectly.

Organized Chaos from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.

Note here: the audio track for this slideshow is the one Kelly and Aaron chose for the wedding ceremony.

Kelly & Aaron's Wedding from Cindy Swainson on Vimeo.http://www.kimklassencafe.com/round-trip/

Anyhow... I hope you all enjoy them as much as I enjoyed producing them. My heart is truly overflowing with love and gratitude. Especially to my dear brother, Greg and his wife, Lynn, who opened their lovely home to a cast of dozens to host Kelly and Aaron's wedding.

Aaron, although you've been a part of our family for a few years, I can tell you that now it's different. Better. For Real. And your dear family, too. Our time together was short but precious.

God Bless you all!