Debbie’s Find

My Friday Find is borrowed from my friend, Debbie, who graciously allowed me to photograph it this week. You may see it again, because I have some other ideas before I return it. And my goodness, there’s that straw hat again!

This is a Lensbaby shot with added textures. I like the look that some of my textures give my walls- wish they really looked like that!

20150611-MMA_7085_melinda_anderson-EditAnd here is the same photo (in the original proportions- I “stretched the canvas” of the top one in Photoshop) with a black and white preset I adapted from one I had gotten from somewhere.  I wanted a light-ish black and white conversion, which I sometimes do by adjusting tones etc.  This time I decided to save it as a preset, hoping it will work on other photos as well.


Kim Klassen dot com

Elusive Butterfly

20150421-MMA_3408_melinda_anderson-EditWhen we visited Butterfly Wonderfland, we were immediately captivated by the big beautiful blue butterflies that flew all around us, seeming to never land- except for on the sidewalk! We would come upon one here and there lying motionless on the walkway, seeming to soak up the warmth before speeding away.  The sidewalk didn’t appeal to me as a very natural background, but I did finally snap a few photos of them this way.  As I took the 800 plus photos of the thousands of butterflies among the flowers and leaves, I was so frustrated because of not being able to find any blue ones on the leaves and flowers.  I tried to capture them in flight, and all I was able to get were little blue blurs in my photos.

20150421-MMA_3380_melinda_andersonAmong the butterflies I photographed was this beauty above with its richly patterned wings.  I mostly saw them feeding on fruit set out in dishes on the ground. It took almost an hour before I realized that these were the blue butterflies I had been looking for; their wings are blue on top and brown below! Named Blue Morpho, their contrasting wing colors make them seem to appear and disappear as they fly, confusing predators (and photographers!).

20150421-MMA_4111_melinda_andersonLinking up with Friday Finds today.

The Chair

It was almost a week ago when I got a text from my friend, Debbie with a picture of a cute, cute chair and the question “Do you want it?”  She had found it in a shop that re-paints and finishes furniture and other items, giving them a new shabby chic look. Debbie knew I was looking for a cheap, vintage looking chair for my still life photography- and I fell in love with it immediately.  Although my husband was just out of the hospital, he drove me down to the little shop, and I made my purchase.  I was originally planning to put it on the front porch, but I’m enjoying having it in my living room. I’m thinking now it will winter indoors and summer on the porch.

The Chair

20150212-DSC_2432_melinda_anderson-EditYou might have noticed my new chair earlier in the week  as a backdrop for daisies and roses. Today I’ve gotten on the Valentine bandwagon and have added hearts to my chair still life.

heartchairLinking up with Friday Finds.

Chicken Soup for the Dark and Messy Soul

Today is a sunny, warm-ish day here in Arizona- and I can see a butterfly out the window. A BUTTERFLY- in WINTER!  I’m thinking life is on the upswing.

Last night, I was part of Open Studio- a live connect on the computer with the Kim Klassen group.  It was fun- and one of the things that came up was how still life trends are changing, and the hottest trend seems to be dark and messy, especially food photography.  I noticed that a few years ago, when I started reading the Smitten Kitchen blog.  I loved the crumpled napkins by the plates.  Real life.  But, since I don’t really do food photography, I haven’t embraced this style.

Our family’s real life has had some dark and messy in the last few weeks.  My husband, Lonnie had a heart attack a couple weeks ago.  He had his third stent put in two days ago, and has a good prognosis with some lifestyle changes to be made.  There’s nothing like real life medical drama to make you appreciate the ordinary moments we often take for granted.  There have been two tense trips to the ER since the initial hospitalization, the latest being LAST NIGHT (he’s fine); we are so looking forward to putting this all behind us.

So what do you do for your husband when he is recovering from a heart attack? You make chicken soup! As I said, I’m not a food photographer- and I’m hardly a cook.  But since today was going to be a still life photography day for me (flower photography), I switched gears and snapped a few photos as I prepared the soup.  This is real life here- no cute props or special lighting here. Just my kitchen and my un-gourmet cooking. The soup is still simmering as I write this, so I’m not including the finished product.

chickensoup1 chickensoup2I poached the chicken first to use in other meals this weekend (a tip I learned from my daughter), chopped veggies, and now it’s cooking.  No recipe-just threw in whatever.

I edited the photos kind of dark- and they are definitely messy- no presets used.

We’re both tired from last night’s ER visit, but, as I said- it’s a new day and there is a butterfly outside.  Life is good.

Linking up with Friday Finds.


Rainy Day Play

Today is one of those days I remember from my teaching days: drizzly rain, gray skies, fog, and periods when the rain stops, but it is still misty out.  Do you send the kids out to recess? Will it start pouring as soon as you do? How many more games of seven-up can we play? How many more inside recesses before we all go crazy?

I don’t remember days like this last winter; I thought all our Arizona rain came during monsoon season.

My husband is still recuperating at home, and, since it is a rainy day, it seemed like a good day to play in my garage studio and try to catch up on some still life assignments.

Here are some photos I shot- edited with a variety of presets from Kim Klassen.  The topic was spoons, and I added loose tea from these cute little cans (bought at our local spice shop).  There was some side lighting, since the garage door was open- but very little, since it is such a gray and dismal day.

tea_spoon_diptych tea_spoon_layout2 20150130-DSC_1757_melinda_andersonBoth spoons belonged to my grandmother, Mimi.  The bottom one is engraved with a B, which I assume is for Badenoch, the family name (her maiden name also begins with B).

I’m belatedly linking up with Friday Finds, since these little cans of tea were such a find.

Missing in America: When Genealogy Becomes Personal

Get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine- this is going to be the longest post I’ve ever written.

Genealogy has been a passion for me for almost 25 years- and an interest of mine since childhood. I am an only child, who was blessed to have three of my grandparents living with our small, quiet family for much of my childhood in Chico, California, where my father had his dental practice. A desire to know how our family connected with others, plus an interest in history, led me to finally start actively researching my family’s ancestry when my daughter left for college in 1992.  My father had died ten years earlier at age 80, and I began to realize I needed to find out the answers to all my questions before my mother and father’s generation was gone.  This was the days before internet research, so I started writing letters and doing research at LDS libraries.  I was hooked.

20150116-DSC_1129_melinda_anderson-3Flash forward to January of 2015: Most of my family lines go back about as far as I can take them, I’ve met many cousins online, and my genealogy is now uploaded to  Last week, I was sitting at my computer idly looking at the leaves on my parents’ branches of my online tree. The leaves are placed on an ancestor’s name when Ancestry’s computer finds a record or family link to someone in your tree, and, since I thought I knew all about my parents, I hadn’t looked for information about them very assiduously.  When I clicked on my father’s name, there were several clues about census records I already had, as well as his death record.

Then I noticed something new.

There was a link to a Find A Grave record.  Find A Grave is an internet site that indexes cemetery records- very useful for genealogists.  My mother and grandparents and many other relatives and ancestors can be found on there- but my father should not have been listed for reasons I will explain shortly.  When I clicked on his listing- there was my father- correct name (with the middle name misspelled), correct birth and death dates, and correct rank in the U.S. Navy.  He was interred at the Northern California Veterans’ Cemetery in Igo, California (just outside Redding).

I was in shock. My parents were very private about anything related to death. As a young adult, I had never known (or even thought about) where my grandparents’ resting places were. There were no graveside services or visits. It wasn’t until my mother was near death and we had to start thinking about her arrangements, that my husband made some calls and discovered that my grandparents’ ashes were at a cemetery in Chico, where they had lived their final years.  However- we knew that was not the case with my father.

When my father died suddenly in 1982, my mother said that he was to be cremated, and that his ashes were being scattered at Lake Almanor, where he and my mother had spent many happy times in their retirement years.  I cannot remember the conversations exactly, but both my husband and I remembered that this was to be done by helicopter or plane.  It never occurred to me to think that this had not been accomplished. I was a busy mom, with young children, lived 100 miles away, and was still at the stage of not questioning my mother’s decisions and or taking charge of her affairs. Besides, I thought that Lake Almanor was a fitting resting place for him, and was happy knowing that’s where he was.

So. . . last Monday, after finding that my father’s ashes were at a veterans’ cemetery instead of scattered at the lake, I called the cemetery.  I cannot begin to say enough about how impressed and grateful I am with the speed at which everyone concerned called me back and the care that was taken (with me- and with my father’s remains). I was called FOUR times that day by various people involved in this story- and I had my answer.

Here’s the story: amazingly, my father’s ashes remained at the mortuary from 1982 until 2009. In 2007, a group called Missing in America had been formed to find unclaimed remains of veterans, search for relatives, do the necessary paperwork, and place their remains in a veterans’ cemetery with a full military service.  My father’s remains were discovered at a funeral home in Chico- and the only information about him was a piece of paper in his urn with his name and birth and death information- no instructions for the ashes.  Since he was a World War II veteran, Missing in America took charge of his remains, placed a notice in the local paper asking for relatives to contact them, and filed the necessary paperwork with the V.A.

Twenty-seven years after his death, my father was laid to rest on November 18, 2009 at the Northern California Veterans’ Cemetery in Igo.

I never knew.

Several people have asked me how I feel.  It’s only been a few days, but I can say I feel grief, guilt, sadness (and have shed lots of tears)- but also immense gratitude to Missing in America for taking care of my father- and many others- all across the country. I cannot place blame- I don’t know how or why this happened. Knowing my mother, she may have been too shocked or upset to follow up on the scattering of the ashes. Or perhaps it was neglect on the part of the funeral home- or whoever was to do the scattering.  But, according to Missing in America, this situation is all too common.  And, of course, we’re not just talking about veterans.

The genealogist whom I had spoken to from Missing in America went to the cemetery Wednesday to take photos for me- and is sending me photos that were taken at my father’s service.  There was a TV news crew at the service as well; it’s possible there may be video available.

I still cannot believe this happened.

I have signed up to be a volunteer genealogist with Missing in America and to take photos of graves for Find A Grave. My hope is that my interests in genealogy and photography will come together to help other families like ours.

Linking to Kim Klassen’s Friday Finds.

Vail Memories

I spent a bit of time going through my photos from our trip to Vail last month and found I had quite a few photos that I didn’t post.  I’m sure that this month’s Vail doesn’t look like last month’s Vail; all these spots must be covered with snow.  And I might as well mention that this week’s Prescott trees don’t look like the trees I photographed last week; our fall color has mostly GONE!  So autumn is becoming just a beautiful memory, as is our trip to Vail.

20141121-vail_layout3_melinda_anderson 20141121-vail_layout1_melinda_anderson 20141121-vail_layout2_melinda_anderson

So. . . THIS week’s Friday Find is LAST month’s photos!


There is one street in our town that has Halloween decorations that are over the top! And needless to say, that is where most of the trick or treating takes place. I finally made it over there with my camera this morning- here are some of the spoooookiest sights I saw:

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Have a fun Halloween!Linking up with Friday Finds.

Sunset Shadow and Reflection

The last stop on our 11 day journey was a beautiful lodge along the Colorado River outside Moab, Utah.  Watching the ever changing reflections and shadows of the red cliffs at sunset is an experience we’ll never forget.

20141020-DSC_5962_melinda_anderson 20141020-DSC_5946_melinda_anderson20141020-DSC_5989_melinda_andersonLinking up with Friday Finds today- because this view (and this part of Utah!) was the best find I’ve had in a long time!

Officers’ Row

On our visits to Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone, I’m always captivated by the architecture of the buildings on Officers’ Row, especially the roofs.   Here are a few photos I managed to take on this last visit.

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All were edited with Kim Klassen’s kk_chill texture; the top photo also has a layer of kk_forreal.

Linking up with Friday Finds.

Up the Hill

Our house sits on a hill on a half-acre wedge-ish shaped lot with the most of the backyard on a steep slope, covered with rocks to keep the hill intact.  There is a rickety stairway going up the hill on one side to an unlandscaped area that is mostly, um, weeds.  We had the weeds cut down this summer, and this week I finally ventured all the way to the top of our property! Before, I had been concerned about what might be living in those weeds and didn’t really want to walk through them, chicken that I am.

At the top, I could stand at the edge of our uphill neighbor’s property and enjoy the view over our house to the hills and also see our neighbor’s fields at the top of the hill. Pretty!

20140917-DSC_4127_melinda_anderson 20140917-DSC_4132_melinda_anderson-EditBTW, I did play with the color in the bottom photo; the fields are actually pretty green.  Artistic license!

I’m linking up with Friday Finds today.

Milk and Cookies

milk_and_cookiesThis week’s BeStill 52 assignment was to to create a milk and cookies still life.  Having been blessed (cursed?) with a sweet tooth, I was delighted to take on the challenge!  We were also encouraged, following Kim’s example,  to critique our own images- and this simple photo was the one that seemed to work out best.  There were various other incarnations that had additional elements, including lavender in a Mason jar, a napkin, and a two tiered Blue Ridge serving plate.  As usual in my world, simple turned out best.  I kept subtracting elements until I ended up with the composition above. I edited with One Willow presets from the Palette collection (my Friday Find for this week- they are fabulous!).  The first version has the Divine preset applied and then two layers of Kim’s sybil texture in Photoshop.  The second version was created by starting with the finished first version (complete with texture)and adding a black and white preset from One Willow (I think it was Story). And now I’m off to finish eating that cookie!

Say cheese!

20140822-DSC_3171_melinda_andersonPhotography seems to run in the family. My earliest memories involve being wakened by the glare of strobe lights as my father filmed every moment of  Christmas morning (perhaps that’s why I avoid having my photo taken to this day). In his retirement years, he took college classes in photography and captured some wonderful photos of my children when they were little. Today’s photo includes his Nikon on the left and my first good camera, an Argus rangefinder (right), as well as a toy camera (middle) which I picked up in an antique store when Joan was visiting.  In the front are two issues of Kodakery magazine from the 1920’s, which I bought in an antique store a few months ago.

Linking up with Friday Finds today.

Kim Klassen dot Com