Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays


Just stopping in to wish all those who celebrate a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Thank goodness for my iPhone these last few weeks, because those are where most of my photos have been taken. Here's a sampling of some of my favorites...I must confess I've become completely addicted to all of my camera apps. My "real" camera is starting to collect some dust from non-use.

Sending good thoughts to all of my blog friends who make me smile and inspire me all year long. Happy holidays! xoxo

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low. ~Richard Carlson

It's been a week of battling my emotions, of dealing with this conflicting sense of both deep sadness and wanting to enjoy the holiday season. I see the seasonal lights, the Santas at the shopping malls, the houses decorated so festively, and those moments take me back to the joyful memories of Christmas that are tucked away in my mind. But then the tragedy in Connecticut flashes before me and my gut wrenches for all those families who are in the depths of despair. It's definitely made me stop more often to feel grateful for all that I have. More than ever before, I don't care about the presents or the holiday food; I simply want to be with my family, to see their smiling faces and feel blessed that they're here and with me.

Christmas is only six days away and I'm getting very busy; I may or may not post again before the holidays. If not, I'm wishing you a peaceful holiday season surrounded with love, gratefulness, and grace. Best wishes from my house to yours!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Melted Words

winter trees

Trying to make sense of something nonsensical and horrific...that is the state of my numbed mind and spirit today. I was all set to post some festive, holiday photos but my heart just isn't up to it...I'll do that in a few days. Life goes on, but it's hard to go through today as if nothing has happened. I feel like this photo: stark, exposed, gray, heart and prayers are with all those in Connecticut. I don't have the proper words to express the sorrow and sympathy I feel for them. I'm sending them love and strength.


Tears are melted words
From our hearts
Unspoken sentences
Soaked through
Till they dissolve
In a liquid flow
Pure emotions leaking
Through the cracks
Of our fragile souls
Circular and stinging
Bittersweet and clinging
Then silently letting go.

© Sherri Brannon

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ten Thousand Truths

flock of birds

flock of birds

There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away. ~Henry Ward Beecher

It's so easy in our world to get tunnel vision amidst all the demands and stressors we stop noticing the simple beauty that surrounds us each day because we're busy checking off things on our to do list. That's especially true during the month of December when gift shopping, baking, and decorating are added to our already overloaded routines.

A few mornings ago I woke up and heard a sound outside that caught my attention. It was a strange murmuring sound that I don't normally hear. I peeked through the blinds of my window and there it was: an enormous flock of birds had landed in the trees of our yard. There were thousands of them, and the noise was the collective sound of their cooing on the tree limbs. Needless to say, I sprinted for my camera and then hastily tiptoed out onto our back deck so I wouldn't disturb them. I got a few shots in before they suddenly made a mass exodus, in unison, as if being directed by one feathered leader to take flight. The sounds that their wings made while taking flight, as one, was even more magnificent than their cooing...oh, how I wish I had caught it on video! My images don't really do them justice - the breadth of their presence was so much more than what I caught with my camera lens. They actually covered the trees in our front yard, too - my husband was watching from the front door!

Within a few seconds, there was complete silence and it was as if they had never been there. The trees stood still amidst the gray skies. All that was left was a smile on my face and a moment of awe that I had witnessed this event. It was one of those moments that brings you right to the present...every sense magnified, your feet firmly planted on the ground as if you and the earth are deeply connected. I wish I could remember to feel this sense of "now" every moment of my day. There's such clarity and gratefulness in it. Have you ever witnessed a wonder like this, a "truth" from nature that makes you gasp at the sight of it? That makes all your stress fall away, if only for a few moments? It's a wonderful thing.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winged, Spun, and Stung

fall through the window

I'm linking up today with the Reflections of You blog and their weekly prompt "5 on Friday". The one good thing that comes of getting older is self-acceptance. After half a century on this planet, here are five conclusions I've come to:

1. I accept my quirkiness and am even happy with those things that set me apart.

2. I embrace my solitary, contemplative self and the fact that I'm completely content to find joy inside my words and colors.

3. I like my brain that constantly seeks poetic meanings in nature and every day moments.

4. I love that I see my everyday world with an artist's eye. My creativity is what fuels me on a daily basis, even if my feelings of inadequacy sometimes step in and stop me from acting on it. That's a work in progress...we never stop battling our insecurities.

5. My introversion is as much a part of me as my eye color, and I've discovered that this trait presents itself as firmly in the blog world as it does in real life. Attempting to run this blog in an extroverted way doesn't work and leaves me anxious and uncomfortable...I've realized how inauthentic it is and have happily come full circle to what I am: a quiet, unassuming blog introvert with a small circle of blog friends who are dear to me. What a relief it is to have this revelation, to sit with it and know that it's who I am and how I should conduct myself.


I am jotting down little things
Winged, spun, and stung
Nestled things jarred free
Like a blown down sparrow's nest

I am the early owl, the naive fox,
The solemn flock of robins, the
Blackbird jauntily whistling

I am a light in the eye, like
The soul's firefly, flickering
In the dark of dusk's woods

I am a vibrant, fluttering
Kite against gray skies and
A kohl-smudged horizon

I am the rosy tint of sunrise
Highlighting the waking trees
Till they're italicized

I am memories scampering
Like a spooked and dappled fawn
Hiding in the blazing maples

I am the clouds that collide
Into majestic, steel mountains
Wearing their weight like armor

I am these words that come to me
And my heart rests in the glow of them
Like stars gazing into the lake
At their reflection.

© Sherri Brannon

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

morning moon



purple sunrise

The winter sun having ripened trembles at the treetop. ~Chimako Tada

Winter sun is beautiful against the trees, whether it's sunrise or sunset. It provides a breathtaking backdrop against the bare branches. The colors are always magnificent, and depend on the sun's mood each day: daydreamy lavenders, cheerful corals, pensive ambers. These are some images I've captured this past week, and in one of them the moon even gave me a wink in the early morning hours.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winter Foresight

last days of fall

"The quiet transition from autumn to winter is not a bad time at all. It’s a time for protecting and securing things and for making sure you’ve got in as many supplies as you can. It’s nice to gather together everything you possess as close to you as possible, to store up your warmth and your thoughts and burrow yourself into a deep hole inside, a core of safety where you can defend what is important and precious and your very own. Then the cold and the storms and the darkness can do their worst. They can grope their way up the walls looking for a way in, but they won’t find one, everything is shut, and you sit inside, laughing in your warmth and your solitude, for you have had foresight". ~Tove Jansson, Moominvalley in November

I must prepare...fall is barely hanging on, and winter is looming. How do you prepare yourself mentally for the cold days of December through March? I always need to brace myself, to surround myself with creative things that occupy me and keep my winter melancholy in control. Exercise is key, and laughter! Thank God for my sense of humor...funny, lighthearted things always boost my spirits.


Oh Lord, have mercy on me
That wicked melancholy
I fear she fancies me
Every fall she shows up
On my doorstep
Inviting herself to tea
Drawing my curtains
So no one else can see
Removing her white gloves
With practiced delicacy
Her shrewd, ruby lipstick
Staining my tea cups
With no apology.

© Sherri Brannon

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stand in It

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

Pursuing happiness, and I did, and I still do, is not at all the same as being happy – which I think is fleeting, dependent on circumstances, and a bit bovine. If the sun is shining, stand in it – yes, yes, yes. Happy times are great but happy times pass… The pursuit of happiness is more elusive; it is life-long, and it is not goal-centred. ~Jeanette Winterson

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and am still basking in the afterglow of the good memories...Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's purely about spending time with the ones you love. There are no other requirements than to enjoy each other's company (and eat too much food). Deadlines and to do lists fall away for a few days while you simply connect with the special ones in your life. There was movie watching, walks, long conversations about life, the quote above says, there was no seeking out of happiness this weekend. It was simply there amidst us, fully present, asking nothing in return...which is how happiness usually works. The weather was beautiful the day after Thanksgiving and we all took a are a few shots I got of the trees and gorgeous sky. I'm also including a photo of my daughter and her boyfriend because I just can't help myself...aren't they a gorgeous couple? *beams*

I'm linking up to Kim's Texture Tuesday today, which has a "free & easy" theme. I used her "peony" texture on all the tree photos, at Multiply/100%. I also put them through Radlab to tweak them a bit. Thank you for stopping by - if you celebrated, I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Autumn's Tears


"Listen …
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break free from the trees
And fall"
. ~Adelaide Crapsey, 1878-1914, November Night

And autumn bids a sad farewell, her tears glittering on the fallen leaves like jewels.

To all my U.S. friends, I'm wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving week filled with good food and the love of friends and family!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Still Life

Still life

As in life, we are in art, always becoming. ~Wanda Montgomery

This week's prompt for Photo Art Friday is "still life". I chose a photo I took of three tiny glass vases with baby's breath in them. I used Bonnie's "Splash of Gold" texture at Linear Burn/80%. I also used her "Mauve Threads" texture at Hard Light/100%. These two textures brought so much to my very neutral photo - I loved the results! I also put it through Radlab several times to tweak it. PSE makes me fearless...I love that anything I do can be "undone" with one click if I don't like it. It gives me permission to try anything with no repercussions. Removing that fear opens up so many possibilities and my creativity has free reign. Now if only I could become this fearless when painting on paper! Gah...I need to work on that. My fear of making a mistake there really holds me back.

The next week will be very busy with Thanksgiving looming...we have company coming and I have lots of prep and cooking to do. I may not be here as much until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for stopping by!

Original photo:

Photo Art Friday

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

The prompts for this week's Scavenger Hunt Sunday were nature, vintage/retro, whimsical, cooking, and week's best. I'm happy I was able to participate again this below to join in!

Sperryville, VA
1. Nature. Another one of my Sperryville photos...I love the curvy road in the distance.

window view
2. Vintage/retro. We stopped in an antique store while out on our country drive. It was enormous, and I captured this shot near one of the windows...I love the lighting. I could've bought the whole store! Such beautiful vintage items...

3. Whimsical. The front porch of the antique store...those mushrooms are very whimsical. I took some liberties with some layers to add a little more whimsy.

4. Cooking. I had to go to the archives for this one...I didn't due any fancy cooking this week (or any worthy of photos).

Occoquan, VA
5. Week's Best. This was at the Occoquan Park recently - I actually took the photo a couple weeks back, but just edited it this week. I hope that counts? I love the mums with the water in the distance.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pieces of Her Heart

Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
mountain view

I'm linking up today to the Reflection of You blog with their weekly prompt "5 on Friday", which simply put is to post 5 of whatever floats your boat...what could be better than that? Since I have so many fall photos I thought I'd post some more - there are too many to count this year and I hate the thought that so many of them won't be shared. So here are five more autumnal country landscape images I've captured in the last couple of weeks. There's something so serene and calming about this set of country fields and sloping hills...something melancholy, too, which might be more my own mood as I say goodbye to fall. The bare trees are a reminder that the bleak winter is approaching...they always remind me of majestic, maternal beings standing strong while also mourning the loss of their "little ones", those beautiful vibrant leaves that have decided to let go and take their own journey. I'm sharing a poem below I wrote about this. I hope everyone has a great weekend - thanks for stopping by!


As autumn swells with meaning
Unfolding its languid spell
The tree unloads her glory
Flaming leaf souls falling
Cascading in a tremulous light
Glowing with tangy innocence
Coming undone against earth's skin
While bees drift in a quiet vigil
Fading with the summer
Like a comforting dream
Coming to an end

And the tree fasts over them
Her ribcage heavy with wish rings
A majestic mother fretting
For her beloved children
Her bone structure revealed
By the gaunt, gray smile of winter
Cradling them with care
Soothing them in the shuffling wind
Yearning to save these pieces of her heart
Her bare limbs praying skywards
Beseeching, ragged in the ripe air.

© Sherri Brannon

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fallen Leaves

fallen leaves

Pleasures lie thickest where no pleasures seem:
There's not a leaf that falls upon the ground
But holds some joy of silence or of sound,
Some spirits begotten of a summer dream.

~Laman Blanchard

This week's Photo Art Friday prompt was "lines". I wanted to pick an image that had lines but also some softness, so I found this photo I took in Occoquan, VA of some leaves on a brick walkway. I like the lines created by the bricks, but also love the random placement of the fallen leaves. I used Bonnie's "Heavenly" texture at Difference/86%. I also used a reverse layer mask and an old engraved book cover to bring in the tiny floral background (Lighten/60%). I also used the artistic effects Dry Brush (Normal/48%) and Cutout (Normal/35%). As always, there were several tweaks in Radlab throughout the process. Mainly, I just played and played till it looked pretty...I could do this all day long. :)

Original images:

Photo Art Friday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Country Roads

Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA
Sperryville, VA

I'm linking up with Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday, and this week's theme is "anything goes". I've been continuing to edit my photos from our trip to the mountains last weekend and thought I'd post some more. Unfortunately, we had clouds for the whole trip so there aren't many sunny images...but I was still grateful to get the trip in before Sandy came! As I drive around running errands this week, the trees are slowly losing their color...before long, all the leaves will be gone. This makes me a bit sad...the long countdown to spring is about to begin!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

About two months ago, I had a real busy week and missed one of my favorite prompts: Scavenger Hunt Sunday. I thought I'd get right back on it and here I am weeks and weeks later with my first submission in awhile. It's nice to be joining in again! For those of you who haven't participated, it's a lot of fun - each Sunday, you get five prompts and try to capture pictures during the week to then share the following Sunday. This week's prompts were wild, welcome, adventure, vibrant, and classic. Click on the button below if you'd like to see more photos, or to see what next week's prompt are.

Sperryville, VA
1. Wild. My husband and I took a country drive (and up to the mountains) last weekend to see the fall foliage before Hurricane Sandy blew all the leaves away. This photo was while we were driving up through the mountains near Shenandoah National Park. It got very cloudy and the tips of the mountain were hidden by fog. Pretty wild to see! :)

Sperryville, VA
2. Welcome. There was a lovely bed and breakfast in the town of Sperryville - this was their porch. The mums and pumpkins were very inviting and provided a warm welcome to any visitors.

Sperryville, VA
3. Adventure. I love our country drives - it's a mini adventure for us because we never have any real destination in mind and we turn down random country roads to see where they'll take us. One of those roads led us to this lovely view.

Sperryville, VA
4. Vibrant. We pulled off at an apple stand and this was the view in the distance. The vibrant colors of the trees along with the sweet sheep in the background (and the black birds in the tree!) made this my favorite capture of the day. I was so excited to get this shot! And I also got some apple butter and pumpkin butter...delicious.

Sperryville, VA
5. Classic. I got so many beautiful photos of the fall trees, but this one is such a classic country scene...the beautiful hills, the open field, the grazing cow...gorgeous. It was a really fun day!