Friday, June 29, 2012

List 25 - Ten things I'm loving this summer . . .

I'm loving summer.

I hope you are, too.

I've been thinking this week about what makes it so good, and I thought that make a good list.  I guess some of what makes summer so delicious is intangible, but it seems like a fun exercise to try to pin it down - if we can.

I dig living in a place with seasons and love the excitement of the surprising newness when each inevitable change rolls around.  I guess I'm a kid in that way.  I'm good with that.

Here's why I'm loving the summer of '12:

1.  The pile of flip-flops at the bottom of the stairs - reminds me that happy people are around, that they've just come in from something fun and that something sneaky and crazy is happening upstairs.

2.  Summer faces.

3.  Peaches.  So far, every one I've bitten into since mid-June has tasted like childhood.

4.  No bedtimes.  I love the way we get to ease up on the rules and regs.  It's fun being able to just be with the kids, enjoy rising up and calling it quits at the same times.

5.  Movies.  The three dollar popcorn bucket.  The dollar movie candy we sneak in.  The cool.  The dark.  Go see Brave - not the usual kids' movie.

6.  Having stuff to look forward to on tv - Tour de France, The X Games, Wimbledon, the Olympics.

7.  How Sunday nights don't lead to typical Monday mornings.

8.  Watching people 'get to the pool.'  So fun to see the anticipation of the cool, the relief, the fun.

9.  Caprese Salad.  I'm not sure why, but I can't seem to get enough this summer.  Mmmmmm.  The juicy tomatoes, the fresh mozzarella,  the basil leaves, the drizzle of olive oil, the sea salt, the cracked black pepper.  Luckily, I've managed to hook my kids on it, too.  Wondering . . . could I eat that for breakfast?

10.  The days when we achieve the lucky four - sun, swim, shower, snuggle.

Hope your summer is peachy, too.  What are you loving?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Keeping cool . . .

Sometimes I like to consider peaceful things.  I like to remember places I've been, things I've seen.

(A long time ago) when I did a lot of SCUBA diving I would work hard to be conscious of what I felt.  I would move along in the water - flying, really - and carefully file away the scenery.

I wanted to remember that what I was seeing in the ocean, the peaceful and dreamy ecosystem, was happening all of the time.  I wanted to be able to bring those 'pictures' to my mind's eye whenever I needed calm.

When I'm having a stressful day or feeling overwhelmed, it works for me.  (Well, not all of the time, but I won't talk about that in the blog.)

If things in reality get TOO REAL, it helps me to stop and think about peaceful settings, places where I've known God's presence, where I've heard such calm, such quiet.

The colorful lands under the sea are just that - the beings there are moving effortlessly through coral and the sea fans are waving slowly with the currents.  I might be worried about the next hour or the traffic or the next shoot, but under the water's surface the same quiet still exists.

I like to look at these photos I took years ago.  I like to remember, to consider all of that happening still, right now.


I hope you enjoy.  Maybe you need to remember something quiet, too.

What helps you remember calmness?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeping me grounded . . .

You probably thought this would be a heavy post, one where I give reminders about staying grounded in this crazy, fast-paced, material world.

It's not.

Lately, I've been noticing that I don't need help staying grounded - I have kids for that.  No one need worry any pretty little heads about my confidence level rising at too fast a rate.  I'm being kept in check,  and I don't have to pay a penny for this advice I get; it's available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  Lucky me.

Three 'grounders' live with me; and though oft times they are making me laugh or giving me hugs (we have no fussing, fighting, whining, messing up, disagreeing, moodiness or laziness), lately they have added helping to their list of talents.

(they even don special eye wear that keeps my every move visible)

Let me be clear . . . I do not mean helping to load the dishwasher, helping to reach down and pick up enough items to clear a path from one room to another or helping to retrieve wet towels left in the car.  They are practicing a new kind of help, and they are quite adept at it's use.  They have begun sort of a continual be the best you you can be, Mama program, where they freely give me advice, critiques, pointers, words of wisdom, etc.

It's a fabulous program and helps me to know that I'm never alone out there, no decision is final and I will always be under care.  It also keeps me grounded.  I may sometimes have an extra kick in my step and think, "Okay, Deana, you've cleaned up real nice today - lookin' good!"  But they help - immediately - bring me back to reality and keep the head from swelling.

Here are some of the helpful quips I hear.  Using this list may help you begin a similar regimen with a loved one in need:

  • Mama, don't worry - I don't want you to look like the other mothers, like you're a college student or something.  
  • Whew, we have got to do something with those fingernails when we get home.  Can I help you with that later?
  • Were you actually going to wear that?
  • Is your hair finished?
  • Some of your skin just has funny things on it, huh?
  • Had you thought about using bobby pins on some of that?
  • Do you ever feel funny about that mustache?
  • Look, when I push your stomach, it's jiggly!
  • Yeah, you look great - but could you wear something else?
  • Did you mean to have some of the gray hairs sticking out?
  • I'd like you to have fun and all, but could you please not do any of that embarrassing stuff you do?
  • Mama, you know some of those things you say when we see people?  Try not to say those things ever again.
  • You don't always have to talk if you don't want to.

Friends, these are but a few of the ways that you, too, can help that special someone in your own life to stay grounded and keep their head from getting too big.  You may change the phrases to suit your situation, but this gives you an idea of how the system works.  I can put you in touch with one of my three associates if you need extra guidance.  

And, now, we must announce the winner from yesterday's mystery photo contest!  The photo was this:

And it was actually this:

A bunch of you got it - way to go!  Thanks for playing!  The winner (chosen at random with was Kraig H.!  Let me know when you're ready for your shoot!

We'll do another mystery photo next Monday - be ready.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Morning Mystery Photo - 6/25/12

Happy New Week, friends!  I hope your weekend went well and that you are at the beginning of a wonderful week.  Thanks for checking in.

As usual, Monday brings a mystery photo to the blog and winning the contest brings a free photo shoot to the lucky one!

To play:

  • 'Like' Deana Graham Photography on facebook.
  • Check out the photo below and try to determine what it is.
  • Send your guess to me by fb message or email (
  • The winner will be chosen at random ( from among the correct answers.
  • The winner will receive a free photo session, valued at $150!  
  • Let me know if you have questions!
  • Thanks for playing and thanks, too, for passing the word!

Friday, June 22, 2012

List 24 - The world's most perfect foods . . .

Maybe it's because I skipped dinner at the swim meet, I'm not sure.  Whatever the reason, I realized late last night that this list must make it to the blog.

As I've said before, we're getting to know each other.  We must share these things.

As usual on the Friday list, this is not exhaustive, nor or the items in any order.  (I'm already excited to get your additions!)

These, friends, are my nominees for the world's most perfect foods:

  • 1.  My grandmother's sweet potato biscuits.  

  • 3.  Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches on soft white bread, with Dukes Mayonnaise, created in Mary Clark's tiny kitchen in Greenville, Georgia.

  • 4.  Crab Fritters, with the most incredible sweet and sour sauce (don't think anything you've ever had at an American Chinese restaurant - nothing like it) at Bacchanalia.  I must tell you here that this  entry is how the list got its name.  A few years ago, I was talking with my good friend, Fifi, about these fritters.  Her response was, "without a doubt, the world's most perfect food."  

  • 5.  Scrambled egg, bacon, mustard sandwiches on Sunday night.

  • 6.  Bbq pork sandwich with cole slaw at Fresh Air Barbecue in Flovilla, Georgia - because, really, who wouldn't want to eat in Flovilla?

  • 7.  The Fox Brothers Burger at Fox Brothers BBQ on Dekalb Avenue in Atlanta.  This sandwich has nothing whatsoever to do with a burger and it will change your life as you know it.  Call ahead for an ambulance to meet you outside.

  • 8.  A slice of my grandmother's poundcake, toasted with butter.  (I made no claims about the healthiness of this list.)  There's a good chance that we'll be greeted in heaven with a slice of this.

  • 9.  Peanut butter and honey sandwiches at Gaines Elementary School in Athens, Georgia.

  • 10.  Baked Oysters (or anything else) at Indian Pass Raw Bar.  Be forewarned, you will moan.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good-bye to Spring with a Stroll Through Miss Loy's Garden

I have been meaning to get these photos on the blog for some time.  I realize that today is the first day of summer, so I guess it is time!  They are special.  As much as I love what I do, it is sometimes nice to photograph with a different intent - these photos are just that.

Miss Loy is a living legend in my town.  She is a beautiful southern woman, smart and witty, and she is a gardener unlike any I've known.  A stroll in her garden is a gift.  Every time I get to visit the garden, which she so graciously shares with us all, I am reminded that it's important to slow down and notice - really look at what surrounds us.  Miss Loy's garden is the perfect place to look with careful eyes.

Many times I have photographed precious children in this garden, and each time the child or children tiptoe through the garden, knowing they are amongst magic and love.  They see the beauty, without being reminded to take a closer look.  I love to watch them, as we round a corner and they peer carefully to see if there is a surprise.  There always is . . . there is always something more beautiful with each new look.  The only thing I don't like about photographing in Miss Loy's garden is that it leaves me no time to take long, selfish looks - to watch carefully enough to remember some of the beauty until the next time I'm there.

A few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon, I found myself with a few free hours.  Yes, I could have cleaned my house or edited photos or gone grocery shopping, but I thought of something better.  The kids had just finished a long week of school and were content to hang out at home, so I loaded up my bag and headed over to Miss Loy's.  I relished in the quiet, in the beauty, and I wandered along slowly.  I only took a break for a wonderful conversation with the gardener herself, as she told me stories of some of the trees and plants, her ideas and what this amazing area had once looked like.

I did not have to hurry.  I was not chasing happy children.  I was just alone with my camera, a few well-designed foot-stone paths and the birds.  I decided as I strolled and looked that I would experiment a bit and look for opportunities for photographs I had not taken before; that I'd take images that represented the garden in a different way.  It is not possible to completely capture the beauty of something this special, but I enjoyed trying.

I hope the photos, coupled with this beautiful hymn sung by Beth Neilsen Chapman, will remind you to slow down when you can.  I hope this slideshow will remind you and me, and all of those who hurry , that beauty awaits us - if we'd only look.

Miss Loy, thank you for your vision, your perseverance over these years of gardening and for showing us what is possible.

Thank you, too, for sharing your special gift with us all.

I hope you all can take a few minutes and enjoy the movie.  Click on the link below:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mystery Contest Winner!

I apologize for the lateness, folks!  You may have noticed before that sometimes life (or summer) can steer things a bit off course.

I'm working on something special for the blog tomorrow, but I wanted to publish the contest winner!

The mystery photo was . . .

And it was this . . . 

The winner of the drawing of the correct answers is The Carpenter Family!  Way to go!  You all may choose between a session sitting fee or $50 off of any Deana Graham Photography purchase.  Let me know!

Thanks for playing, folks!  See you tomorrow . . . 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MONDAY MORNING Mystery Photo (on Tuesday!)

I'm a bit off schedule, but I had to post a mystery photo this week!  Hope all is well with all of you!

The winner of this contest will win a free photo session ($150 value) or $50 off of any Deana Graham Photography purchase (if you've already had a shoot).  Take your guess and help spread the word!

Here are the rules:

  1. 'Like' Deana Graham Photography on facebook.
  2. Check out the photo below.
  3. Guess what it is.  
  4. Send your guess in a message on fb or by email (
  5. I'll select a winner from among the correct answers (
  6. Winner will be announced on the blog tomorrow!
  7. Good luck!

Monday, June 18, 2012

List 23 - Twelve reasons you need a friend like Charlie King . . .

Today will be a little different on Press Pause.  I'm a day behind, as I didn't get to the list on Friday.  Be patient with me, though, because you MUST hear about my buddy, Charlie.  (We'll do the Mystery Photo tomorrow.)

Saturday, a whole bunch of folks said our good-byes to an unforgettable friend.  I want you to know about him.  I realize that I cannot blog about every person who passes away, but some folks are big enough characters to more than warrant a post.  Charlie King was one of those.  There are a million and two interesting things I could tell you about my friend (and that's not even counting the ones I can't actually write about on the blog), and I've only known him for 12 of his almost 97 years.  I can honestly say that Charlie did more living and thinking and celebrating and wondering in the short time I knew him than most of us can squeeze into a lifetime!

I'll attach some links for you to read more about this intriguing human being, but I'd like to dedicate this list to a few of the reasons that Charlie King touched me.  Those of us who lived alongside of him have a hole in our hearts.  Those of you who weren't lucky enough to love and be loved by him need to go find someone like him!  They don't come any cooler, at any age, and my life will be better for having known him.

Thank you, Charlie, for knowing us all in just the way we needed to be known.  Thank you for your insight, your smarts, the connections you made for us all, and for the example of living a life so completely.  And, thank you for  the moments we all had with you, for your way with words, your dedication to everyone and everything you loved, your spot-on humor and your unforgettable gift of friendship.

I have never known a person who is more successful at appreciating and preserving the past, living in the present and looking forward to the future.  I know many who are wonderful historians - they help us remember important moments and learn from them.  They know the stories that we need to hear, again and again.  I know folks who are amazing examples of living in the here and now - they help us notice the perfect present and notice what's happening today, where we're living.  And, I know people who spend much of their time preparing for tomorrow - they are looking ahead and planning on behalf of us all.  I cannot imagine, though, that I've ever met a person who did a better job of all three than Mr. Charlie.  I wasn't even sure it could be done so well by one individual.  Charlie did it and he was an example for all of us.

So, here are a mere few of the reasons I'll always remember Charlie King, why I'm so thankful my children knew and loved him, and why I want you to know about him:

  1. He joined facebook at age 95.  
  2. He could tell a story about any - thing, person, place or event.  Period.  And they were always entertaining!
  3. He knew everyone - really knew us.  He knew what each of us loved, what we did in our spare time, what we wished for and how all of us were connected.
  4. He was dedicated to his country and to his world.  
  5. He NEVER stopped questioning and wondering and asking 'Why?'
  6. Everything and everyone mattered to Charlie.  If your life path crossed his, he made it his business to KNOW you.  It didn't matter your age, your past, your color, your origin - what mattered was the connection he could make with you.  And, he could make a connection with anyone, anywhere.  
  7. I never saw him at a loss for words, and yet I never heard him say anything that wasn't meaningful.
  8. He was a walking history book AND spent much of his time working to make this world a better place for those who would live long after his death.
  9. He didn't just talk - he listened.  He wanted to know about us all, about what we were involved with and what made us tick.
  10. He was as at home in the wilderness he worked to sustain as in front of computer equipment that scared folks a fourth his age.
  11. When our church youth group spent an evening at the homeless shelter last fall - cooking, playing, and learning - Charlie was there, too.  
  12. He lived, fully and wonderfully. 
Charlie at the homeless shelter in September.

Covington, Ga and the rest of the world will be a different place because you were here.

And, somehow, I imagine you'll love having little ones tromping around where we laid your ashes. And that seems just perfect.  Thank you, Charles Chester King, for all that you taught us.

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