Obsessions In Photography

Chris Sneddon is talking about her recent obsession over at Shutter Sisters today and she’s asking readers to share any obsessions they may have when it comes to photography. Her question made me think about why I photograph what I do. My photography tends to be closely linked to what I write about here on my blog. This would include images that provide a documentary look at topics such as the pasty competition posts from the last few days to photographs that are inspiration for personal essays and others that illustrate the mini short stories I’ve written for TMAST.

I take photographs to tell a story and there’s always a story. Whether it’s real or imagined, mine or yours, every picture has a story waiting to be told. My obsession is in the finding, first the photograph and then the words. I have included a few of the 32,000 photographs I’ve taken in the last two years.  32,000  photographs in two years … does that seem like an obsession to you?

I would love to hear what you like to photograph and if there’s any subject matter you think you get a bit obsessive with when you have a camera in hand.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – Wylly Catches The Big One

Wylly Folk St John

“Oh noooo! Here he comes! How do I escape?”

Wylly smiled a tentative smile at the bearded man staring her down from his place on the ship’s deck. Picked up at sea by the US Coast Guard an hour or two earlier that day, Wylly was doing her best to look both glamourous and contrite as she lounged in the warm sun somewhere between Cuba and the Florida Keys.

She felt safe enough with the ship’s crew bustling around her, intent on the business of sailing the cutter, but there was something in the man’s face that made her unsure of just how to respond. Knowing he was a dreadful womanizer made her lean in a direction she’d never been very good with. While other women were flirting their way to what might have been considered a successful marriage by some people, Wylly had chosen what she viewed as a less restrictive path with more opportunity for adventure, than diapers and dinner parties.

She had planned the direction of her life at an early age after reading a copy of  ” Little Women ”  and deciding that she too wanted a writer’s life like the character “Jo” in the Louisa May Alcott novel.  Growing up, Wylly had carved out a semi-permanent writing spot at one end of the dining room table grateful that her family ate most of its meals at the smaller one in the kitchen. The dark dining room with its heavy drapes and solidly built table had been her own personal retreat, a place where her imagination could take her anywhere, except on Sundays and holidays when her mother insisted they use the room for its intended purpose. Days when the Sunday roast or a Christmas turkey graced the table were times when Wylly would take her Bennett miniature typewriter that she had won in writing contest up to the window seat on the stair landing and tuck herself  in behind the dark drapes that always seemed dusty no matter how often her mother cleaned them.

After winning her typewriter with a piece she had written for Odd Fellows’ magazine the year before at age ten, she had learned to type so quickly that she surprised everyone including her father who always acted as if he believed she could do anything. Wylly privately had wondered if the Odd Fellows editor would have chosen her as the contest winner if he had known she was a girl. She had sent the story in with her full name, William Michael Folk instead of the shortened version her friends and family called her, Willie or Willie Mike,  and while neither of these would have seemed girlish or feminine, she had never quite believed that it was the quality of her story that given her the prize of the typewriter that she treasured above all other possessions.

By age seven or eight, she had already grown tired of always having to explain her unusual name to people. It didn’t help that she had two younger brothers by the time she was old enough tell people how her parents had wanted a boy for their firstborn and the surprise of a girl child did not stop them from christening her with the name they had already selected. Later she would realize that this was not intended as harmful gesture, but one which fit her parents desire to be a bit avant-garde amongst their small town peers.

Within a few years of her birth, the young family had moved to the more cosmopolitan location of Savannah, Georgia where her father could find more work as a bookkeeper, but Willie’s name continued to set her apart in the same way her desire for adventure would make it difficult to plan a similar future to the other girls in her high school graduation class.

Later after a secret marriage became public, she began signing her name Wylly Folk St. John taking her husbands name while keeping her own long before it became acceptable and in doing so, she found a name that fit the writer’s life she had envisioned as a child.

Wylly could almost forget about her husband Tom as she sat staring into the eyes of this famous man who at least from first appearances seemed to be every inch the cigar smoking, loud talking character, she’d read so much about. Knowing as she did that much of what he wrote was from his own life only made him more intriguing to Wylly and she thought for a moment about what she might say to make amends for what she had done.

Before she hired the fishing boat off the Florida Keys she had gone around to a series of bars talking with different boat captains before finding the one she thought would know where to take her in order to find the particular catch she was hoping to land. It had taken several days of walking in and out of hot dusty bars before Wylly had found the man who claimed to be the second cousin of Carlos Gutierrez, the Cuban fisherman whose stories had been the seed corn for the rich fish tale written by man now standing before her.

Wylly had worked hard to persuade the old man to take her out to sea and in the end it wasn’t a sweet smile or her polite southern manners that made him decide to do as she wished , but the sizable amount of cash that she’d had in an envelope, folded and tucked into the corner of the alligator handbag that hung by a short strap on the crook of her arm.

She had grown tired of the search and had almost gone back to the Atlanta newspaper in defeat having bet her friend and editor, Andy Sparks, that she could come back with the story. Wylly had been at the boat dock early this morning as she and  the old sailor had arranged the night before and gave him half the money up front with an agreement to pay the rest if they found her story.

The morning had been cool for the Florida Keys, but then any bit of ocean breeze was more refreshing than all the hot air she had been wading through over the last few days. In almost all the bars she had visited, the impact of the slow moving ceiling fans did little to provide relief from the blistering heat of the summer sun. A heat which seemed to be compounded by an endless amount of hot air coming from the mouths of the locals that lined the bars complaining to anyone who would listen about how good things were before the tourists took over.

Wylly stood as the small fishing vessel took to the open water and looked back to see the land disappearing behind her. The things she would do for a story, she thought to herself, hoping that this guy had been telling the truth. Wiry and weathered, he moved a bit slower than Wylly would have wished, but she calmed herself with the thought that it was too late to do anything about her fears now. She wrapped the ribbons of her sun hat a bit tighter and turned into the wind watching the sea.

They had been out for what seemed like hours as they followed coordinates permanently charted in the old man’s mind never stopping to check a map or even to break for lunch. Wylly had offered him half her sandwich when he appeared to have no food, but he shook his head abruptly as if looking away from the sea for a second might take them off course. Seeing this Wylly began to think that perhaps her money had not been wasted after all and just as she was reaching into her bag to get an apple, she saw a boat in the water in front of them.

As they drew near, she saw the elusive man she’d been hoping to find, but the old man piloting the boat acted almost as if he didn’t see the famous yacht in front of him and suddenly Wylly’s screams were competing in volume with the man on the opposite boat, who was shouting and waving his arms with a franticness that confirmed they were in real trouble. Just as they were about to slam directly into the boat she could now identify by the familiar name Pilar, the old man she’d hired to help her, gave the wheel a sharp spin and the boat veered at the last minute scraping a good piece of the hull from the Pilar while tearing a substantial chunk from the one she was on.

Uncertain what of to do, she gathered her belongings quickly when she saw the water spilling in through the hole and climbed up on the edge of the boat holding on while the two men argued. ” Damn it Carlos,”  the younger man said ” just what in the hell were you trying to do!”  ” Carlos, but I thought he was his second cousin…” she said first in the old man’s direction and then a bit louder to the bearded man who looked as if his heart might stop from the exertion and the venom he was spewing.

With no one really listening, she picked up the dirty radio mike uncertain if it would even work and remembering what she had learned from an interview during the war, She began to send out a request for help by screaming Mayday, Mayday over and over until the subject of her search, Earnest Hemingway finally took a good look at her and said, ” Good God woman…now you’ve alerted the damn Coast Guard, this will be all over the newspapers by nightfall! “

He said all this perhaps realizing somewhere between newspapers and nightfall, that the press might be closer than he thought. ” Listen lady,”  he began, ” you better not be a reporter…”  Her silence was the answer and he snatched his battered cap off and threw it in the direction of the man she now knew as Gutierrez. What rich luck was this she thought, having mistakingly hired the old sea captain people were saying was the model for the old man in Hemingway’s latest novel. She picked up the cap where it had fallen unnoticed as they began a back and forth shouting match that had all the rhythm and familiarity of an old married couple.  Tucking the cap into her bag, she thought that this was a far better souvenir than the rum she had planned to bring back and she thought it was hers to keep until she saw the shadow fall across her a bit later while sunning on the deck of the coast guard clipper.

Looking into eyes of the man who had bagged bigger game before than her, she shivered as she heard him say…” I believe you have something that belongs to me.”


If you read my story last week, you may remember I wrote about my great aunt Wylly and then I used photographs of her and her home to set the stage for our story topics this week. It gave me a tremendous amount of pleasure to send her on an adventure as a reporter in search of the big story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much I as did imaging the possibilities of an encounter with consequences.

Big thanks once again to Judy Harper  who joined me again this week. Her story can be found here. Also joining in with a story of her own, Gaelikaa’s words can be found here.

I want to thank everyone who left a topic sentence for us and for TMAST. It’s always more fun when others participate and I hope you’ll consider writing a little story of your own next week.

Please go here to find the pictures for next week’s TMAST and offer up suggestions for topic sentences based on the photographs.  I need to warn you that in honor of Halloween, these pictures are intended to inspire a scary story or two. Even though they’ll be posted after the goblins are gone, I hope you will all come back next week to see what we dream up.

Coast Path Walking In October- Port Quin To Port Isaac

The weather here was stunning on Saturday so John and I set out to do a little coast path walking. I sometimes forget how close we are to the sea and I’m still a little surprised when I hear seagulls right outside our door. One of the closest coastal locations is Port Quin, which is about ten miles from us. I thought you might like a Monday distraction to go with your coffee or tea break depending on the part of the world you call home. These appear in the order of our journey. I hope you enjoy the walk.


This sign tells us that we are close, but we’re not driving to Port Isaac, we are walking in, so we veer to the left and head down to a parking spot in Port Quin.


Taking the left towards Port Quin.


Port Quin as you see above is tiny. There’s not much there anymore, but what is still there is lovely. It used to be a thriving fishing village until something happened that changed everything. It’s worth going here to find out why.


You pick up the path to Port Isaac here going between the old cottages leading up and out of Port Quin.



Almost immediately you begin to see amazing views.



A shot of me wearing my Tilley hiking hat and carrying my Canon Powershot G9.


I’m dragging along behind John taking pictures of almost everything. Can you see me down there?  All along the fence, there were spiderwebs with no spiders. I must have passed 30 or 40 empty webs like the one below.



In the photos above and below you can see a series of steps that go straight up or down if you’re lucky.



I was amazed to see how many flowers were still blooming along the path.


John takes a break so I can snag a photo.


This was the view he was seeing from where he was sitting in the photo above.


More flowers in October…growing wild.


Our approach to Port Isaac as seen from above.


This bee impressed me with his pollen boots.


Viewing the harbor from Port Isaac.


John heading back to Port Quin.


Again…honeysuckle flowers in October. I always thought of these as a flower for spring.


Returning to Port Quin…coming back by what I think of as the back way.

Remember to stop by tomorrow for Tell Me A Story Tuesday. If you’d like to participate in TMAST, go here to see the pictures and choose a topic sentence. Post your story on your blog and let me know so I can link it here.

A Room Of One’s Own – Week 5 – Update

You’ll be amazed at the progress Brian and Bob have made during week five on the new addition, plus John has been getting a bit involved too now that we’re beginning to reach the stage where he’ll be doing some of the inside work. Quite a lot happened last week and I put down the camera long enough to help John move us out of the master bedroom and into the guest room as Brian and Bob broke through the wall that had been the outside wall of the house before construction.

Everything came out of the master including the built in closet or wardrobe that John previously added when he bought the house a few years ago. Houses in the UK don’t come with closets in the bedrooms and it’s up to the owner to decide whether to build one. Our hanging clothes are now up on poles that John hung in the attic or loft as it is often referred to here. The master will have an en-suite bath added and with a new window in a wall that hadn’t had one there before, the whole orientation of the room has shifted.

Additionally, part of our old bedroom will be sacrificed to make a corridor that will lead to my new space taking a bit from the master. As is the way here with many things, rooms are generally smaller and even though this house was built in the 90’s and has larger rooms than most, they would seem small when compared to most homes built in America during the 90’s. My house in Atlanta was built in 1920 so I feel quite at home here, but my first house had huge rooms by comparison which was mostly wasted space. Quite a bit of it was not used except to fill up with more stuff and it was way too expensive to heat and cool. I have long been a fan of  The Not So Big House way of living in Sarah Susanka’s books and I’m excited to be living in a place where people seem to have been living this way for quite some time.

I hope you enjoy the changes and thanks so much for all of the comments you leave each week about the progress…soon I’ll be polling you for thoughts on tile and color choices and if you’ve got any decorative thoughts of dream bathrooms in particular, I’d be happy for you to pass them on for me to consider. I can’t seem to make up my mind and my vision for my space seems to change from week to week.

Remember tomorrow is TMAST and if you’d like to join me in telling a storyplease go here to pick a topic sentence to begin your story. It need not be long even a paragraph will do.  It’s all about practice writing and just for fun.




Roof tiles waiting to go on the roof.


Dedication even in the rain…Bob putting the tiles in place.



With the roof tiles in place,


Soffits and water drains in place…Brian lets loose a bit as the door frame goes into place minus the glass.


Adding the glass.


Break on through to the other side… (Stealing a line from The Doors)  Bob’s in the background.


Previous outer and inner wall showing insulation between the two. (and Brian)


Brian and Bob measuring wall for corridor opening and John inside moving and rewiring the internet to make way for window (closet still in this picture)


New bedroom window.


Looking in through bedroom window at what will be door to my space. There will be a corridor through part of the old bedroom leading to this entry way.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays – Stepping Stones


“How could you serve me with divorce papers when I told you I just wanted time away to think?”

Josie took a deep breath after she said this keeping her tone even and her voice calm an action that took all of her control when what she really wanted was to scream. She wished she’d gone back inside to take the call from Paul instead of staying where she’d been standing while watching the beach. As he began again to list all the same old things she could never seem get right, she found herself tuning out the sound of his voice as she watched a family setting up their umbrella chairs just past the sand dunes near the water.

She wished for a moment that she could be back here again with Paul the first time they’d seen the beach house. Everything had seemed possible then when things were new and love seemed like it would last forever. Josie had wanted a family with this man, children like the two she saw on the beach squirming and giggling as their mom tried to spread sunscreen over them. She watched the woman rubbing what looked like Coppertone on the little girls thinking perhaps she might actually be able to protect them from the damaging rays of the hot Florida sun. Josie knew she was writing a script for the young mother based on her own fears. She too had once believed that protection from skin cancer could be had for a few dollars in a tube of zinc based cream. It wasn’t until her doctor had said melanoma that she’d stopped believing the marketing hype. She’d never liked Florida before, not even as a kid when she’d gone to Disney World the summer she turned twelve, but there was something different about this place. This sliver of island off the eastern coast of Florida was far enough north to see the seasons change and some of the older houses built years before even had fireplaces, something you didn’t see anymore since the laws had changed and people worried more about clean air.

Watching the children chase the waves that rolled up on the beach, she smiled as the older girl slipped past the reach of her younger sister squealing with the delight of the victorious in a game of tag. Josie forgot for a minute what Paul at been saying and the anger in his voice. She thought instead about this place, this piece of beach where she’d fallen in love with the mismatched round stepping stones on a path between the grassy dunes in front of the beach house. Weathered and grey made from some pebbly mixture, it was the stones that had sealed it for her. Right from the beginning there had been something magical about the odd spacing of the stones that stretched across the sand. Laid out by someone with a longer gait, the distance between them made it so she almost had to leap slightly like a child skipping from stone to stone, dancing in a way through the dunes to the beach.

Remembering all this, she let the divorce papers she’d been holding slip from her hand as she dropped the phone into sand at her feet. She thought for second she heard Paul’s voice calling out to her from somewhere …just before she stepped out of her shoes and onto the path, leaping as she went from stone to stone on her way back down to the water’s edge.

Thanks to Red Pine Mountain for her opening sentence that I used to do this bit of practice writing for the first TMAST .

After you read this, please go here to leave a sentence for next weeks challenge and perhaps some of you will join me by writing one yourself and posting it on your blog on Tuesday. It you let me know you’ve posted a piece for TMAST, (Tell Me A Story Tuesday) I’ll link to it here with my story. Thank you to everyone who left a comment last week over at the TMAST site. I really enjoyed reading them and had a difficult time deciding which to use today.

A Room Of One’s Own – Week 4 – Update

This post is mostly pictures because I managed to get some (arty ones) I really liked of Brian and Bob while building this past week. While they may be used to the odd snap or two by a property owner while working, I think they’re beginning to become a bit more aware of when the camera is around. Both have been such good sports, answering my too many questions at times and flashing me an occasional smile when I’m moving in with my camera trying to get just the right shot to keep things interesting.

No one is safe from the camera not even the people who deliver the big stuff.  Interestingly none of the drivers with the large deliveries seem to even notice the woman with the camera snapping photos from different angles like it’s a red carpet event.


You can see by the delivery what Brian and Bob worked on for a fair amount of  this past week.



Brian is putting brackets in place to help anchor the trusses while Bob is doing the same on the other side in the shot below.



When that’s done, they put the trusses into place.


I did a little climbing to get this one.











That’s all for this weeks update, but remember, tomorrow I’ll have the first TMAST posting so if you’re writing along with me be sure and post yours on your site and send me a link so I can include it with my post tomorrow. If you need a reminder as to what I’m talking about go here and here to join me.  Remember it’s practice writing not perfect writing and it need not be lengthy to post and participate.

Tell Me A Story Tuesdays

Years before I ever read my first blog or considered writing these words, I spent a week in a workshop in Taos, New Mexico with a group of people who came together to study with Natalie Goldberg. I can’t say that I know what everyone else’s motivation was for the week, but I had longed for a chance to be in the same space with the woman who had intrigued me with her book Writing Down The Bones since I’d first read it in 1986. The picture above was taken in 2000 at one of the communal meals we shared three times a day in between a good bit of time spent writing and sharing our written words with each other. As you can see by my smile, I was pretty happy during my week there. In Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg gives the reader her six rules designed to help free the writer within.

After deciding how long to write, as in ten minutes or twenty, whatever time you set for yourself, you must keep writing for the whole time without stopping.

The Goldberg Six:

1. Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you have just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying. Don’t stop until the time is up.)

2. Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it. Don’t     backspace.)

3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)

4. Lose control.

5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical.

6. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)

While I’ve been writing for years, my internal critic made it almost impossible for me to actually let anyone read what I had written. This workshop was gave me a chance to break free and share my words without fear of criticism. What we wrote we read aloud and according to the rules, we made no comments as to what we had just heard so no one had to worry about having their writing critiqued.

The best discovery in doing this daily is how quickly to find your real voice and how easy it is to begin writing thinking that you’re going in one direction, when the true story develops somewhere further down the page than you first imagined.  I’d like to incorporate a bit of this into my writing again and I would like to offer anyone who wishes to join me a chance to do it too.

With that in mind, I’ve created a new site called, Tell Me A Story Tuesdays and it is my hope that you, (my readers) will join me there on Tuesdays and leave a little of your creative thought behind.

On Tuesdays, I’ll post three photographs along with instructions for those interested in participating to leave a sentence behind with one or all three and I’ll use them to do a bit of free writing. The goal will be to create a story which I will share on Tuesdays. I’m inviting anyone interested in doing a little storytelling of their own to join me by taking a sentence or two to turn into your own creation. Then on Tuesdays, post it on your blog and send me a link the night before so I can include a link to your site with my own Tuesday story.

Since I don’t have a writers group here, I thought this might be a good way to fill that void and have a bit of fun.  Write as little or as much as you’d like and remember the six rules above while you’re writing. I plan to edit my writing before posting, but only after my practice writing time is up. Remember, the goal here is practice writing, not perfection.

Please go to Tell Me A Story Tuesdays to begin and I look forward to seeing what you’d like to share next Tuesday.