Wrapping Up and Moving On

I taught my first photography class in the spring of 2011. Having always been a hobbyist, I felt incredibly unqualified. I had to concentrate intently on not hyperventilating from the barrage of nerves that threatened me each week. When I try to remember that first class, it is mostly a blur. In its original incarnation, the class met three hours a week for 14 weeks. I cannot for the life of me remember what I managed to talk about for a total of 42 hours, over the course of the semester! Apparently whatever it was was mildly informative and moderately entertaining, because the 24 people who signed up left me with positive evaluations, and I even had some people say they enjoyed the class so much they planned on coming back. I am still a bit flabbergasted by this.

Over the years, the class has morphed into its current format — a six week class presenting the technical aspects of photography, followed by a second six week class composed of guest speakers and photowalks, each with a maximum of twelve students. Sometimes there’s a waiting list, other times it’s me plus four — the minimum number of students required for the class to make. The class I dubbed the “Making Friends with Your Camera” class ended up bringing me more than a few friends of my own.

One student from the early days wanted to learn to take photos of her granddaughter. It’s funny, though, how she started down one path and ended up doing something completely different. A classmate’s invitation to go on a wildlife photowalk sparked a passion for bird photography that came completely out of left field. After she finished my basic class, she took off running — seeking out additional photography classes, watching YouTube tutorials, practicing, practicing, practicing. Always learning! And her work has won awards — people have purchased her work to hang on the walls of their homes and their businesses. I’m incredibly proud of her.

It was really a no-brainer when I realized this fall that I really need to, really want to pass the torch and I thought of Cheryl. I’ve enjoyed the almost eight years that I’ve taught this class. I guesstimate I’ve probably helped between 250 – 300 people make friends with their cameras. But I have other things I want to focus on and I know my former student — my now friend — will do a fabulous job of helping people make friends with their cameras when she becomes the new photography teacher in the spring. I’ll begin my last session this evening with my friend observing and assisting. I’m a little sad — teaching this class has been a huge part of how I define myself:

“What do you do?”

“I have my own business, I’m a writer, and I teach photography at the college.”

I have the business to help our family economy. I teach photography because my teacher asked me if I would when he moved away, and I discovered I enjoyed it.

But the thing that I’ve done since I was in grade school, the thing I want to find more time for, the thing that I always find myself coming back to is there in the middle, in the heart of my answer:

I’m a writer.

From my good friend, Tim. A story about good coffee… and other things.


via Voluntary Participation Makes Good Coffee Tuesday Possible

Grateful for Plenty

Thought I’d share the latest update, and a big part of the reason why I’m MIA around here most of the time (for now). My business has been really busy the last couple of weeks, so I’ve been meeting with clients, preparing quotes, tweaking quotes, discussing options to the point that I think my potential clients are never going to order anything.

Oh, ye of little faith!

I closed the deal on a house full of shutters this evening — almost 400 square feet of glass to be covered by beautiful custom shutters. Signed contract and deposit in hand – hooray!

I am waiting for the signed contract and deposit on a commercial order involving 71 window blinds — I’ve been told it’s as good as done, but until that signed contract and deposit are in hand, I’ll wait patiently to celebrate.

I’ve got a couple of appointments on the books for next week, and several projects are in process right now. God is good and I am grateful.


I’m Still Here…

…just been super busy with business stuff, family stuff, and a wonderful trip to see my bestie in Ohio the last week of August. We’ve been friends for 41 years — since we were 13 years old. She probably knows me better than almost anyone, except My Guy, of course. But even then — she has probably known me longer than anyone not related to me! She is my “sister by choice,” and I am ever thankful God brought our paths together.

I have one grainy “selfie/usie” I snapped of us with my phone when we stopped to have some coffee. Other than that, I chose to “be in the moment” while I was there. I actually took an extra suitcase to hold my camera bag, and never even took it out! And I don’t regret it one bit.

Best Friends/Sisters by Choice since the last day of school in 1977.

Sometimes you have to let your mind record the memories. You miss so much when you have a camera separating you and what’s happening. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but it’s true to some degree. If you’ve never seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (which is nothing like the short story, I’ve been told) I strongly urge you to watch it. The ending has a powerful message about slowing down, sitting still, and really SEEING what’s happening before your eyes. Here’s the clip:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

English Nerds

So my daughter shared a memory from six years ago on her FB page. It made me laugh out loud, so I’m sharing it here in hopes it will make you laugh, too:


“I had this dream where Gregor Samsa visited and he ate my head off…” -Me
“No more Kafka for you!” -@Laura Swan Jinkins
“Only one in ten families in America would understand that…” -@Trey Jinkins

English majors…Gotta love ’em.(:

Sayin’ “Hi!”

Here it is, 1:57 AM, my time, and I’m still awake. I finished a short story for my writers critique group and emailed it to my group. Putzed around a bit on the internet and I really should call it a night. Tomorrow (today?) I plan to do the lessons from the ladies Bible study I recently joined. Tomorrow (this?) evening, we’ll be headed to Galveston to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday.

The last couple of weeks have been super busy business-wise, which is great. This week looks a little slower, and I’m okay with that, too. It will give me the opportunity to take care of some other things and maybe read a book (or two).

One (two) thing(s) I am working on — planning more road trips with my guy. We’re going to stay home this summer (except for possibly taking a one or two night trip). Next summer, though — this girl’s got plans, and I am so glad my guy is always game for my plans! I’ve got two tentative trips cooking on Road Trippers.

Trip “A” involves flying to Pittsburgh and then renting a car to drive to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Southwest Airlines has reasonable fares to Pittsburgh (a smidge over $300 roundtrip for each of us). On the way to Prince Edward Island (the land of Anne with an “E”) we will pass through New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. I’m pretty sure I can find us some cool stuff to see along that route. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself — the states are so small that we can knock out some serious sightseeing in a very short time.

Trip “B” is a little more involved, since it takes us to the West/Northwest part of the country. I discovered it’s only about 8 hours to Carlsbad, New Mexico, where there are some incredible caves to be seen. Next stop: Phoenix, Arizona and Taliesin West — Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home. Followed, possibly, by Fresno, California (there’s an underground garden there???) and Medford, Oregon… on the way to Everett, Washington travelers pass the Mount St. Helen’s Visitors Center. It’s crazy to think the whole side of that mountain blew off when the volcano erupted.

I was doing good planning Trip “B” until I realized I’d want us to have time to travel over to Vancouver Island — by this time, the trip is getting REALLY long. So I’m thinking perhaps we should fly up to Seattle and then drive around Washington State and British Columbia (similarly to the Prince Edward Island trip).

I don’t know. There’s just so much out there to see and I want to see it ALL.

If you could plan your dream trip, where would you go? Comments below, please and thank you!


Smash Glass Love

Normally I steer clear of art classes. I get frustrated when my work doesn’t look the way I think it should look, or when I struggle to achieve the precision needed to draw, paint, or cut something exactly the way it should be. There are two media with which I am comfortable: words and paper. I enjoy creating with words, and I love to cut and paste beautiful papers into cards, scrapbook pages, etc.

When I venture into the worlds of paint or glass, I can feel myself getting  a little anxious.  One of those “Painting with a Twist” classes was fun, except I struggled to keep pace with the instructor. “Okay, now take a bit of yellow on your brush and swirl it around…” WAIT! I’m not finished with the blue! I finished the painting, but I was exhausted when the class was done.

I took a mosaic class a couple of years ago and trying to cut the glass into the right size bits and then glue them down on the glass block was stressful. It just didn’t look the way I thought it should look. I still haven’t finished that project.

Friday night I think I found my jam when it comes to artsy creation, though. I signed up for a “Smash Glass” class at The Center in Lake Jackson. Taught by Linda Strickland (a lovely lady, I must say!), the class was so much fun!

Each of us selected a canvas on which to arrange our designs. If we wanted to, we could embellish our canvases with paints and use a hairdryer to dry them before getting down to the business of glass arrangement.

Linda set up a table before we arrived. In a neat row, plastic tubs held generous selections of broken glass, sorted by color. Purples, cobalts, aqua, red, gold, green, clear, silver mercury glass — smooth glass, textured glass, frosted glass. Shards of different shapes and sizes, sparkling under the lights of the art studio. I had fond flashbacks to my visit to the Corning Museum of Glass last summer and all the beautiful glass I’d seen. We were each provided with a plastic tub to put our selections in. Plastic gloves helped protect our fingers from any little slivers that might prick us.

After gathering a good assortment of glass pieces in my favorite colors, I went back to my spot and decided to paint my canvas first. Using a foam brush and four metallic craft paints, I swirled them around the canvas in circles until the entire canvas was covered with pearlized shades of blue. After drying the paint with a hairdryer, I began laying the pieces of glass on my canvas in an abstract design. I knew I would get frustrated if I tried to create a picture of some kind, so the abstract route seemed to be the safest way to go.

Linda provided advice on design (my original layout was a little too ’round’), and I ended up with a piece of art that made me smile. When each of us finished, we carried our work over to a table where it would wait until later in the evening when Linda would pour resin over the entire work, adhering the glass to the canvas and giving the canvas a glass-like appearance as well.

I picked up my creation the next day and I can’t wait to add picture wire to the back so I can hang it on the wall! One of my classmates said it made her think of pirate’s treasure underwater and I love that description. I’m looking forward to another class where I can finally enjoy a form of art that feels very free and relaxing.fullsizeoutput_89cd

Highly Recommended:

Anything taught by Ron Rozelle. I didn’t grow up in the Brazosport area, so I didn’t have the good luck to sit at the feet of Brazoswood High’s most excellent creative writing teacher. Fortunately, since retiring, Ron has chosen to share his writerly wisdom by teaching three day workshops for those seeking to unleash their inner Hemingway,  Bradbury, or whomever. If you work, I can’t think of a better use of a vacation day or two. If you’re retired, all the better. I attended his Wordsmithing 101 class at the beginning of January and it was worth every penny of the registration fee. Great teaching well-seasoned with entertaining stories and encouragement.

If you’re in the Brazosport area or out near Brenham, I urge you to avail yourself of Ron’s expertise. You won’t be sorry.

Two upcoming events on my agenda that I’m very much looking forward to are a repeat of my Wordsmithing 101 workshop in Clute, in the Brazosport area south of Houston, in March and a memoir workshop in Brenham, Texas in June. Both communities have excellent hotels, good places to eat, and interesting things to […]

via Two upcoming writing workshops — Ron Rozelle Wordsmith


I became a mom twenty-two years ago today. I could wax poetic about what an amazing and beautiful young woman my daughter has become. I could share with you the mixed fear and pride I felt when she traveled (with great excitement) to a Central American country to serve in missions. I could tell you how smart she is and that the creative gene is stronfullsizeoutput_8522g in her. We could chuckle over how she curls up on the sofa in comfy clothes and teaches herself new embroidery stitches while watching episodes of Doctor Who, like she’s a really cool granny. I could rattle off her literary accomplishments — completing NANOWRIMO four times, having her poem published in the college literary magazine, rocking it like Noah Webster in the writing department.


But then I’d just be bragging.







My girl is twenty-two today and I love her very much.


Happy birthday, Jami-girl!