Knife block = man-thing?

Painted knife block

A few months ago, I saw a project on Pinterest and marked it for a rainy day.

Well today seemed like a great day to do a little painting. I gathered my old paint and informed C1 (that’s the hubby if you are new to my blog) that I was going to do a little painting.
A layer of dark paint followed by an hour or so and a layer of light paint. C2 had to help with the second layer and I had to wipe the whole block down with a paper towel to create the lines. As we are finishing up our project and feeling super proud of our work, C1 walks in and exclaims, “You painted the knife block! Why would you do that? It was perfect the way it was. Now you took a man-thing and made it a woman-thing. That means I don’t have to do anything else with those knives because now that’s your knife block.”
Wow! I never knew knife blocks were such a part of one’s manhood…it’s not like I put lace slipcovers on the couches in the man cave!

Anyway, here is another picture of the desecrated finished knife block.


Disconnecting to Reconnect

I’ve been absent lately from blogging. (OK OK I’m almost always absent but attendance isn’t mandatory right?) During the last week I’ve been busy on other things like reading (gasp!) the first book I’ve finished in a few years, writing a guest blog post (you know you can’t wait!), going through my wedding pictures, discovering that I NEED a monitor calibrator to save myself a lot of grief and spending some much needed time with my son.
A week or so ago I hopped over to Tara Whitney’s blog to see her philosophy and I found more than I bargained for. A gentle, yet striking, reminder of why I do this. Then I started to click through the images on my wedding discs to print an album after nearly 7 years, and was reminded of how I’ve changed.

There are things that my husband does now that really irritate me. When I opened the files from the wedding, I realized they aren’t new things that he does. There are pictures to prove that I knew what I was signing up for and that I liked it! I’ve gotten so caught up in the everyday struggles of life that I lost sight of what’s really important. I know that there will always be days, like today, when I just lose it and I need to a retreat, but my goal is that I will return to the place in my heart where this crazy family of mine is a haven. Some days I just want to get away. I don’t want to be touched or spoken to or kissed or hugged or fed. I only want to run. But I can’t, not just metaphorically but literally. There was a time, not so long ago, that when I felt that way I ran straight to those nutty antics because they meant I was surrounded by love and protection. How have I come so far in the other direction? I’m not sure but I don’t think I’m going to find the answer of Facebook or Bing so if you miss me, know that I’m around but I’m focusing on some more important things. I’m certainly not giving up on posting things for you all but I won’t be reading endless pages of news feeds or search results daily.
Stay well you guys and call me up for a walk!

Animal Therapy {a day at the zoo}

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{all of the above images are ©Daryl Everett 2011 and were taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. }

This past week was incredibly busy for me. We left the house at least once a day and usually for at least three hours each time.

As the week progressed, I was able to feel the stress wearing me. By Sunday evening I had turned to “Facebook Therapy.”

I started thinking of when I could get in some Mama-to-Mama time with a friend which led me to thinking of all the things that needed to be done this week and in only two days since it’s Thanksgiving week! The list was overwhelming and it was still growing.  All of my fellow mamas appeared to be busy this week and I needed a quick intervention.  I considered a few things and they all seemed like they would contribute to my stress levels increasing rather than to my feel-good hormones increasing. Scenes of laughing with an excited toddler played in my head. Then I got it: the zoo.

When you go to the zoo you write off the whole day to strolling in nature and enjoying the animals, in my case with a little boy who loves animals. What could be more healing for a Mama with increasing fight-or-flight hormones? Me thinks, nothing. (Save a long soak in a candle-lit tub with soft music and a personal masseur.)

And with that the decision was made to take a day off and go to the zoo. No “to do” list, no dishes, no laundry, no portrait edits, no cooking, no cleaning, just the train, the animals, the child and the camera.

While the day wasn’t some ethereal experience, but it was restorative. It’s quite amazing just how exciting the reptile house is when you’re almost two.

I had to remind myself a few times that the agenda for the trip was to have no agenda, not to see every animal at the zoo. We loitered in the aviary  because those double doors are just so cool. We looked at all the snakes at least twice, just in case one of them decided to do something really neat. We chatted with the goats and looked into the eyes of the gorilla, wondering who was really on exhibit!

And one of us slept all the way home.

All in all it was a great experience.

That one friend.

An oxidized gatge latch in Old St. Augustine

(Personal thoughts that I have had on my heart all day. I wrestled with the possible fall-back from writing and writing here on my photo-blog, but I had to. May you read it with the sense of compassion and empathy it is meant to convey.)

You know you have that one friend (or maybe you don’t but you know someone who does). The one who comes to your birthday party and talks about how much she misses spending time with you.  The friend who calls on you when she needs something. That person you used to spend all your free time with. This friend tells you how much she loves you and would do anything for you.

And yet, when you call the voice on the other end says, “please leave your message for…” Click.

Why “click?” because you’ve left messages before. You’ve sent text messages before. Why bother? They will go un-attended.

Finally you see her and she wants to make plans. You agree to a plan, excited that things are turning around. After all the last dozen times you’ve been forgotten about or at least that how it feels when you wait for the call to head out and it never comes.

The day arrives and you get ready and wait by the phone–holding out hope. After a few hours you check to be sure it’s on and then you move on. You call someone else. Someone who will answer. Someone who will join you.

Someone tells you that your friend asked how you were. “Wonder why she didn’t ask me herself?” You wonder to yourself only slightly concealing your feelings from the world at large.

When you want to chat over coffee, you no longer call that one friend you spent all your time with. When you want to cry, you sit in the dark. You tell all your secrets to your journal and wish it would answer back.

When you land a big deal or your kid makes you laugh so hard that your ribs ache, you call your parents. You tell your Facebook friends.

When people ask about your friend you kindly explain that you haven’t talked much lately. “It’s not that I’m not talking to her, she just never responds.” You elaborate that if she calls you, you’ll happily talk with her. You aren’t trying to save face. You truly mean it. You are broken and confused; not understanding why this person says they care about you so much but they don’t even call on you to ask you how you are, they ask others.

How often have you been that one friend?  Finding yourself so busy with life that you forget to return your calls.

How many of our grandparents or parents feel this way?

How often is this how your spouse feels about you?

Don’t be so quick to judge your friend. You don’t know why she isn’t calling you. Maybe there is something really big happening in her life. Maybe she’s hurting and doesn’t want to let you know.

**How many times have you been that one friend to God? As a mortal, the feeling of longing for your friend to call you can be intense. I wonder if this is how God feels when His children stop talking to Him, stop visiting Him, stop answering His calls, stop reading His Text.

Yeah, I’m guilty of being that one friend too.

The way things were

hands and clock face with Roman numerals

Do you ever have days where you long for the way things were? The closeness of friendships of the past. The freedom to spend time with your sweetheart snuggled up on the sofa without the nagging voice in your head reminding you that the dishes are waiting or that you only have a few hours before the children wake.
I don’t often miss things. I suppose that I keep myself distant enough from things and people that the sinking feeling of genuinely missing them is unusual. This morning I miss things: friendships drastically transformed, dreams re-prioritized, the way things were.
Lately, I have been reflecting on and sharing with others the complexity of relationships (for lack of better terminology). When we are adolescents, we form friendships that we are certain will be forever. “Best friends forever,” we say. Plans are made for the future: what college we will all attend, who will do which household tasks when we are roommates, how to build houses nearby each other so we can raise our kids together. Visions of dinner parties, game nights and vacations with our future spouses and offspring flash through our minds. It’s beautiful and joyous. We will, it seems, be this close forever: after all what could life possible throw at us that would separate us?
Through the turmoil of high school we laugh and cry together. Boyfriends come and go. Family members pass on and others arrive. We pass classes and fail tests. Each victory and defeat draw us closer still.
Life moves on and we realize some of our plans just aren’t going to work out so we adjust. No big deal, we’re still just a phone call away.
Then one day one of us reaches for the phone to make that call and wonders if it will be an inconvenience to the other. A few days later the other does the same, figuring that with her “BFF’s” busy life she probably has a lot on her plate. Each decides it better not to bother the other for such trivial problems or successes. After all it’s not *that* important.
Time marches on and each time you need a shoulder to cry on or a victory hug, you feel less and less the urge to reach out to your childhood friend. Until one day we simply realize that we never talk anymore and wonder what exactly has happened.
Finally someone makes that long overdue call.
For some friendships the road ahead is bumpy. We have changed so drastically yet subtilely that conversations are strained or at best just not as transparent as in days gone by. Other relationships, those few and glorious ones that truly do last through it all, will pick up exactly where they left off wondering why in the world it’s been so long since you called.
Maybe words were spoken carelessly and wounds formed. Maybe we simply became caught up in our daily lives.
No matter what, the fact remains that people are dynamic: changing a bit with each new interaction, finding new passions and growing melancholy with old ones. Relationships of all kinds either grow and change (some would say “mature”) or they remain the same and become stagnant as the friends and lovers move on down life’s road. As old relationships are transforming, new relationships are forming and beginning their journey down life’s road.
“What,” you may be asking, “does any of this have to do with photography?”
At first glance, nothing. On closer reflection, I realize that during this longing for the way things were rifling through a box of old photographs (and negatives) brought a complex swirl of emotions both joyous and downtrodden, but positive none the less. Positive because the nostalgia causes me to reflect on and be thankful for each of the relationships and the transformations.
Do I long for the way things were? Sometimes, but knowing that one day this will be “the way things were” makes me slow down and appreciate the way things are.

To each of my friends, old and new, I am ever thankful for you and the memories we share. Things to make me feel human and miss “the way things were.”

(I know some commas are missing and there are likely other errors. It’s quite difficult to proofread on an iPhone.)


Have you ever had a day when you just had to have a cookie? I normally am not a cookie fan, but this week they have been screaming my name. Daryl…Daryl….Daryl! Today it was too much.  I had to bake some. Even though I didn’t have any dairy-free butter substitute, I would find a way to enjoy a cookie.  Lo and behold: you can substitute oil for butter. So I used the recipe from and away I went.  I substituted 1/4 c. sunflower and 1/2 c. olive oil for 1 c. butter and 3 TBS ground flax seed mixed with 9 TBS hot water and left to congeal for a few minutes for the 3 eggs. I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips.(Sometimes the main page has a $1 off coupon!)

The results were very moist, but still delicious, so I added a bit of cracked wheat to the remaining dough.  Those are not as moist but you can certainly detect the wheat in them.  The first batch even passed the test of my husband, who thinks all things with egg- or dairy-substitutes are near blasphemy.  He declared “they were good babe.” That’s like getting an Oscar around here!

I just had to snap a few pictures to share with the three people who read my blog Hi Dad! the world .  I’ve become sort of obsessed with food photography lately, even if it is only my food.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed creating them and the cookies.

I’m not sure why they got dark when I saved them.  I’ll work on that tomorrow or so and repost them with corrected lighting.