Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

Scrub Jay Visit
Scrub Jay Visit, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Chickadee Feast
Chickadee Feast, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
powerfully alluring
nature is my meditation
a nourishing addiction
>>:::<<

How can one resist the daily solicitations of treats from visitors like these?  The bird in the first image is a scrub jay that has been coming quite regularly for the last three years, begging for peanuts.  A definite routine.  He has a charming personality.  Some days he will boldly let you know if you haven’t noticed his arrival yet or are ignoring him.  Other times, he will wait patiently.  When I took this image, he had been waiting for me to finish snapping photos of other wildlife around the yard, but perched himself in a very conspicuous area for me to see him.  Perhaps he knew I was aware of his presence and was confident I would not forget his treats.

The chickadees, as with the scrub jays, are year-round residents in our area.  They also come everyday, seeking their treats from the various bird feeders.  Occasionally they will take off with a peanut half their size, as one is attempting to do in the second image.  Their flight is wobbly with that heavy load, but they usually manage to get their feast to it’s destination.

Nature is definitely addictive.  But that’s a good thing.

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Hummingbird Profiles #4 – Amazing 素晴らしい

Hummingbird Profiles #4
Hummingbird Profiles #4, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
endlessly enduring
achieving the amazing
single parent
>>:::<<

I’m finally able to catch a few moments to post and visit a few blogs today.  Although I haven’t been able to respond to each of your comments, I continue to appreciate all your kind words, encouragement, visits and likes.  Thank you.

We hit more bumps in the road recently with my mother’s health, and her cancer chemotherapy treatments had to be postponed two times in a row now.  In addition, there is more cancer growth, another metastasized spot detected from an MRI scan taken a little over a week ago, more procedures, and radiation.  We continue to hope that we will receive some bit of good news in the near future, instead of worsening news.  These still remain scary, hectic, and gut wrenching times.

~~~~~

Here is the fourth image in my hummingbird photomanipulation series I did last year.  This is a female broad-tailed hummingbird.  An image of the male broad-tailed hummingbird was posted here.  Hummingbirds in general are quite amazing, and their dense, cuplike nests have been described as “amazing architectural creations that protect and nurture some of the most delicate birds.”  Hummingbird nests are built by the female, entirely by the female bird, spending several hours a day for up to a week collecting materials to build the nest.  Also, the females raise the chicks – single parenting.  The male hummingbirds are not involved in raising the young after the act of copulation is complete.

I continue to dedicate this hummingbird series to my mother.  My mother, who became divorced and a single parent when I was too young to remember, raised, supported and nurtured me, AND worked full time and multiple jobs to provide for me.  She has overcome many hardships over the years, and is one of the most compassionate, sincere and generous people I know.  She is also one of the most AMAZING and beautiful people I know!

I’m including two Japanese words to represent “amazing”

素晴らしい  (すばらしい), which is read subarashi
(superb; fantastic; marvelous; wonderful; terrific; amazing; great)

and

凄い  (すごい), which is read sugoi
(amazing – of strength; great – of skills; wonderful; terrific;)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning

Sharing Breakfast
Sharing Breakfast, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
bathing in pollen
before autumn awakens
summer breakfast
>>:::<<

Whenever I can, I like to get in a dose of nature as part of my morning routine – regardless of the season or weather.

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Hummingbird Profiles #3 – Powerful, Strength 強力

Hummingbird Profiles #3
Hummingbird Profiles #3, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
a new chill on my skin
colors change before my eyes
autumn migration
>>:::<<

Yesterday was the start of my Mom’s second chemotherapy treatment.  She will have 12 total treatments over the next six months, minimum.  There are certainly side effects, but not to the extent we expected so far.  She is not brutally ill like we anticipated.  She is doing ok overall even though it is still a struggle for her, especially for the first week after the treatment.  We are all well aware of the physical and mental power and strength needed to make our way through this journey, including all the other hurdles we have going on at the same time.

~~~~~

Here is the third image in my hummingbird photomanipulation series I did last year.  This is a male Rufous hummingbird.  The Rufous is a later arriver at our feeders, first appearing in the middle of July, and is also the first of the hummingbird species to leave.  Although a few hummingbirds are still here at our feeders, the Rufous in particular have already departed.  I did not have the opportunity to enjoy seeing and photographing the hummingbirds as much this summer as in previous years, but I at least got a couple of photo sessions in this past spring.

Since autumn officially arrives here in the northern hemisphere in a few days, on September 22, I thought the beautiful coloring of the Rufous hummingbird was appropriate to welcome the new season.

A common symbolism of hummingbirds is powerful energy and the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  They are built for power, with about 30% of their weight consisting of flight muscles.  Some migrate impressive distances – up to 500 miles nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico.  Two behaviors separate the Rufous from other hummingbird:  1) It ventures farther north during the migration than any other, reaching the southeastern coast of Alaska, and 2) It has the longest known migration of any bird species, traveling over 3,000 miles between Mexico and Alaska.

Hummingbirds symbolize Powerful and Strength
(in Japanese, it is 強力 (きょうりょく), which is read kyouryoku

I also saw another translation of 強力 as “herculean strength.”  I believe it, given the strength and stamina these little hummingbirds need for their long journey!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Point of View / Update

Cancerous Aphids
Cancerous Aphids, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
voracious monsters
destroying vitality
metastatic cancer
>>:::<<

Cancer – Any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively.

These voracious, ravenous aphids extracted so many nutrients and vitality from some of our plants, that they became very, very sick.  We saw more aphids than we had ever seen before in our yard, and as a result, we also saw more ladybugs than we have ever seen, attacking the cancerous aphids.

…..

As I wrote previously, we are in the middle of a frightening cancer battle.  My mother was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer…4 out of 4.  What is Stage 4?  Per our surgeon, it means cancer has metastasized from it’s original site to other organs.

Each doctor visit and surgery result over the last two months brought worse news, showing more and more spread, and leaving us in an endless nightmare.  The cancer is extremely rare, aggressive, and high-grade, for which there is NO standard treatment and no clinical trials because of its rarity.  There is no known cause.  It is not curable.  The prognosis is……….well….…all I will say is that people have been known to beat the odds and we are hopeful and determined that she will beat it.  It is a very scary time.

Cancer treatments began this week.  Two weeks ago, we made a quick trip to another high rated cancer hospital for a second opinion, and were more assured we are headed down the right path with her initial treatment plan.  Because of the cancer’s aggressiveness, we needed to start as soon as possible after recovery from her last surgery.  The treatments are a rigorous regimen of two days of chemotherapy every two weeks for a minimum of six months.  It’s too soon to see what the actual side effects will be since everyone reacts differently to the drugs, but we know what the common side effects are.

Hopefully the treatments will turn out to be a swarm of ladybugs focused on and succeeding in obliterating the cancer!

Again, I will not be as active in the blogging world but will do my best.  Thank you for all of the wonderful well wishes you continue to send for my mother and for staying with me through these tough times.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Point of View.  I’ve used the theme in two ways – one in the photo itself, and one regarding focused treatment.

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Hummingbird Profiles #2 – Ganbatte 頑張って

Hummingbird Profiles #2
Hummingbird Profiles #2, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
hummingbird miracles
and determined perseverance
nature’s masterpiece
>>:::<<

I’ve been a resident in my mother’s hospital room at the cancer hospital this past week.  She did well with the surgery and will require several weeks of recuperation, but we are playing the waiting game again with pathology results.  We do our best to persevere.

~~~~~

Here is the second image in my hummingbird photomanipulation series.  This is a male Black-chinned hummingbird, one of the first hummingbirds that usually arrive at our feeders for the season.  Since purple is one of my favorite colors, I love the glistening purple gorget when the light catches their throat just right.  Hummingbirds symbolize many things, as I’ve posted in the past, two of which are perseverance and overcoming the seemingly impossible.

In my opinion, hummingbirds are one of nature’s many great masterpieces!

The Japanese word for perseverance, to not give up or to “do your best” is:
Ganbatte  頑張って (がんばって)

…and more formal and more polite:
Ganbatte kudasai  頑張ってください

Related articles:

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Hummingbird Profiles #1 – JOY

Hummingbird Profiles #1
Hummingbird Profiles #1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
rubies emeralds diamonds
precious gems dazzle in the sky
hummingbird splendor
>>:::<<

First of all, thank you very much for all the kind well wishes for my mother and our family in my recent postings.  I really appreciate and am touched by all your supportive and encouraging words.  Last week was hectic with more tests and procedures, but we are in the “waiting mode” right now – waiting for test results, waiting for surgery, etc., etc.  Cancer is a very wicked thing.

~~~~~

Last year, I created a few photomanipulations of hummingbird photos I took in our yard.  I intended to post them at the time, but I would develop a brain cramp whenever I tried to create a blog posting using the images…that is, until now.  It could be that now feels like the right time to post these images because hummingbirds symbolize what is needed so much right now:

A common symbolism of the hummingbird is JOY!
(Joy in Japanese is 喜び, which is read yorokobi.)

Tiniest of all birds, the hummingbird is quite spectacular.  It also symbolizes powerful energy, the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible, and flexibility in life circumstances.  When in the air, their wings are continually in motion, which symbolizes tirelessness and perseverance.

I start off my hummingbird photomanipulation series today with an image of a male Broad-tailed hummingbird.  I find his pose sweet and adorable.  Also, my mother’s top two favorite colors are red and green, similar to the beautiful colors on this bird.

If you are in need of JOY today or at any time, I hope this image will bring you some.

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That Dreadful Word No One Wants to Hear

Vortex
Vortex, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

This post is different from what I normally post.  Over the last several weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a constant spin cycle, increasing in speed and turbulence due to escalating health problems and other issues.  Constant shaking, rapid and forceful heart palpitations, passing out, and intense stomach pains landed me in the emergency room the first week in June, hooked up to several wires and an IV.  Eventually the doctor determined the main issue was “extreme stress.”  Some of these symptoms still continue.

In my last post, I talked about spending several days in the hospital with my Mother because of an unexpected surgery.  That occurred in the middle of June after my own ER visit.  Last week, after recuperating with us, she had what we thought would be a routine follow-up with the doctor, where we would be told she was progressing as expected.  We spent a few minutes talking with the nurse and telling him how my Mom was doing since her surgery.  We had no inkling what was to happen next.  He handed us some papers and said, “I have your pathology results here…there is cancer present…”   What!?!?  The chance of cancer, we were told after surgery, was remote.  But now, that “remote” chance was smacking us right in the face!

We were both shocked.  My Mom’s eyes were welling with tears and her voice was shaking.  I held her hand.  I saw the nurse’s mouth still moving, seemingly in slow motion, but I didn’t hear the next few words.  I was shaking uncontrollably.  My stomach was knotted and churning so violently I thought it was about to explode out of me.  The room was spinning and I felt like we had been yanked right into a vortex.  It is a very rare cancer.  “I’m so sorry to have to give you this news,” he said to us.  The doctor came in next.  We asked him several questions, then he gave us the next steps.  We would be continuing her care with a surgical oncologist.

A few days later (last Friday), we met with this oncologist.  More tests and scans, another surgery, and more cutting and removing to determine the extent of the cancer and further treatments, if necessary.

We are still in shock with this new challenge and we’ll have to take it one step at a time.  Yes, it’s scary, and yes, we have cried.  This is my Mom’s second battle with cancer.  Both cancers are rare and both are unrelated to each other.  This second cancer is even more rare than the first, and because it is so rare, its treatments have not undergone clinical trials.  There is also no known cause.  However, she will receive care at a good cancer hospital just 40 minutes away from our house.  My Mom is strong and healthy for her age, and a truly wonderful, genuine, generous and compassionate person anyone would feel privileged to know.  She has been there for us consistently to help out, provide support, and pull us out of the deepest, darkest holes.

This is not just her battle, it’s our battle, and I will be with my precious mother every step of the way supporting her the best I can.

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The Last Iris – Woodblock Print

Iris - Woodblock
Iris – Woodblock, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
welcoming summer
with a respectful surrender
spring blooms nap
>>:::<<

Usually, our irises finish blooming before summer officially arrives.  This year, a couple of our iris blooms, similar to the one in the above image, insisted on meeting the summer solstice.  They have since retired for their long nap until next spring.

I have been clearly absent from blogging for a couple of weeks.  An escalated roller coaster ride with my own health issues, as well as spending several days in the hospital with my mother due to a sudden and unexpected surgery left me with no time or energy for much of anything else.  She is now at home with us recuperating from her surgery.  But I’m able to pop in today for a quick post.  Thank you so much for your patience.

I hope the new season is off to a wonderful start for you.

This image of an iris bloom is another photomanipulation I did to digitally convert a photo into the likeness of an old Japanese woodblock print.  I also learned from fellow bloggers, Francine and Frizz, that the image is also called a “xyloglyph.”

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Graceful Peony – Woodblock Print

Single Peony - Woodblock
Single Peony – Woodblock, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
delicate pink chicks
shielded by caressing arms
silken peony

>>:::<<

This image of a single peony is another photomanipulation I did to digitally convert a photo into the likeness of an old Japanese woodblock print.

Single peonies are composed of one or more rows of a few broad petals, known as guard petals, which surround a center of pollen-bearing stamens, which in turn surround the pistil.  I believe the name of this peony is Sea Shell.  I like how delicate and silky the petals are, and how the formation of stamens and pistils looks like a birds nest.

Hope your week is off to a splendid start!

Here is the original photo I started with:

Peony
Peony, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

Triple Opportunity
Triple Opportunity, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
unplanned camouflage
invisible in plain sight
background activity
>>:::<<

Refocus your attention to reveal a new perspective, or a new world!
(Did you also notice the little black bee in the photo?  I felt quite lucky to have captured a shot with three little critters!)

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This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge encourages us to
share a picture that says In the Background.

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My Favorite Daffodil – Woodblock Print

Daffodil Replete Woodblock
Daffodil Replete Woodblock, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
sipping peach cocktails
dreaming among soft sunsets
daffodil garden
>>:::<<

This is a photomanipulation to digitally convert a photo into the likeness of an old Japanese woodblock print. I last posted one of these styles over a year ago. How time flies!

The image is of a double daffodil variety named Replete, one of my favorite types of daffodils.  They are beautifully shaped blooms that are peach/pink with snow white.  It’s wonderful to be surrounded by these beauties while enjoying a refreshing cocktail!

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

P.S. Here is the photo I started with:

Daffodil Replete
Daffodil Replete, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.
(click on photo to enlarge)

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Spring Is Teasing Us Again

Daffodil Macro
Daffodil Macro, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
snow melts into spring
and nature flaunts lavish costumes
flourishing blossoms
>>:::<<

It seems like spring has been postponed for us again…and again.  Just when we think spring has finally arrived, it quickly withdraws, acquiescing to  snow.  This past Monday morning, we woke up to snow and cold temperatures, which will continue into Wednesday.

I took this photo exactly one year ago on April 17, 2012.  At that time, all of the daffodils were in full bloom and the tulips were just starting to bloom.  Right now, none of the daffodils have bloomed, although a few are close, and the tulips probably won’t start until next week.  The trees are only showing small hints of green, which will eventually turn into lush, full leaves.

So…we wait for spring…still…and then we will celebrate its real arrival.

This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge letter “P” by Frizztext
(“P” is for Postponed and flower Pistil).

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Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Overlooked

Almost Overlooked
Almost Overlooked, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
hidden yet unconcealed
overlooked in plain view
camouflage
>>:::<<

This is a photo of a little crab spider camouflaging itself on a dried maple seed pod (or a “ballet slipper” as I call it).  This seed pod was only about 1.5 inches long (~4 cm).  At first I did not notice the spider, and my intent was to get some macro shots of the web of veins running through the seed pod.  I had recently gotten a new macro lens and was anxious to start learning how to use it.  Only when I got closer and picked it up did I noticed this little creature clinging to it.  So I decided to make it part of my photography subject.  During the whole photo session, it cooperated nicely, and held perfectly still for the camera.  I only wish I had a tripod at the time to hold the camera just as still.

Crab Spiders usually have short, wide, flat bodies with the first two pairs of legs being longer than the back legs.  They are typically colored to match their habitat, and some can even gradually change to match the color of the flowers on which they are hiding.  Crab spiders ambush their prey, sometimes holding still and relying on their camouflage to keep them from being seen by their prey.  Also, their main defense is this ability to camouflage and they will hide or drop away from predators if they can.

This image is for the Wild Weekly Photo Challenge theme of “Overlooked.”  The great outdoors is filled with things that are often overlooked by most people. People these days spend so much time hurrying through life, tied to their cell phones, that they often forget to look around and see the overlooked things in nature that make our world so special.”  This is a reminder that there is beauty everywhere — sometimes you just need to do a little searching for it.

This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge (letter “O”) by Frizztext.

Spring Is Here!

Hungry!
Hungry!, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
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Launch!
Launch!, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
passionate wingsongs
carry loving nourishment
spring nesting
>>:::<<

Happy Spring to those in the Northern Hemisphere!

Today is officially the first day of spring here, yet it is a gloomy, rainy day, which will turn into snow for the next few days.   Snow is still on the ground, and the deer are still sporting their heavy winter coats, however, yesterday was a nice sunny day and the American Robins arrived with their beautiful songs.  A sure sign of spring!

The Western Scrub Jays are gathering food more frantically lately and we hear the constant flapping of their wings as they visit the feeders and beg for peanuts continually through the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  We also see the male feeding the female, which we learned is a way for the female to get used to the male feeding her while she sits on the nest for about three weeks straight, incubating their eggs.  Nesting should begin soon!

The photos above were taken yesterday and are of the same male scrub jay.  The second image is a combination of two different photos.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

Lunch
Lunch, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

This is a juvenile male downy woodpecker being fed lunch by its mother.  The juvenile was able to land clumsily on the feeders, but wasn’t able to feed itself yet.  Thank goodness for Mama!  (If you have been following my blog for a while, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I’ve tried to work a nature shot, especially birds, into the photo challenge.)

Since it’s phoneography month, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to take a lunch photo with our cameraphones, that is, if we have a cameraphone.  The photo above was taken with my DSLR camera, but the photos below were taken with my recently acquired iPhone.

One of my favorite things to do is to try different eating establishments with my hubby and mother.  From the fancy to the non-fancy, we’re game to try many different places and cuisines, which we have done more frequently in the last couple of years.

Most recently, a burger, fries, beer and a movie sounded good, so hubby and I tried Brewvies in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  It is a cinema pub “featuring first release and independent films shown in a pub and restaurant atmosphere.”  Here, you can order a meal and drinks at the bar, load them up on a tray, take them into the movie theatre with you, and even play some pool or a pinball machine afterwards.  Narrow tables are located in front of each row of theatre seats where you can set your food.  It is an older establishment, so the theatre is not fancy.  We watched Django, which was shown from a movie reel.  It had been a while since I had seen the occasional vertical lines in the picture and heard the movie projector running in the back room.

The drinks: For hubby, a Detour Double India Pale Ale, 9.5% abv. For me, since I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and I prefer still to be standing after a drink, I went for the hard apple cider in a much smaller bottle than the IPA and less alcohol content.

The bartender had a “great suggestion” to combine the cider and Guinness together, and gave me a small amount of Guinness to try it out. I took a small swig of Guinness combined with a small swig of cider and decided that the taste wasn’t my cup of tea. I prefer to enjoy each one independent of the other.

Finally the food! I ordered a wild salmon burger with caramelized onions, chunks of roasted garlic and blue cheese crumbles. What a yummy combination that was! Oh, and it came with home made wedge cut fries.

Overall, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Part of a dinosaur leg bone fossil imbedded in a large rock face.  There also appears to be clam fossils along the lower right side of the bone.  (See the hand at the top right corner for perspective on size.)

Part of a dinosaur leg bone fossil imbedded in a large rock face. There also appears to be clam fossils along the lower right side of the bone. (See the hand at the top right corner for perspective on size.)

150 million year old fossilized clam shells imbedded in a large rock face.  (I hope hubby is not upset that I didn't get a model release for his fingers!)

150 million year old fossilized clam shells imbedded in a large rock face. (I hope hubby is not upset that I didn’t get a model release for his fingers!)

Dinosaur National Monument, located on the border between northeast Utah, USA and northwest Colorado, USA, is the only national park area set up to protect a historic dinosaur quarry.  It is one of the world’s best windows into the late Jurassic period and is home to an amazing display of fossils from this era.  The vast diversity of plant and animal fossils found there helps reveal its ancient environment.  (Click here to see my previous post on this monument.)

Along the park’s Fossil Discovery Trail, one can view a few large dinosaur bones and bone fragments that are imbedded in the rock face along the Morrison Formation spur trail.  These dinosaurs lived approximately 150 million years ago.  Approximately 163 million years ago, the area was an ocean environment.  If you look carefully, you can find small clam-like fossils and one-hundred-million-year-old fish scales!

One could definitely get lost in the detail looking at both large and small fossils imbedded in these large rock faces.  Fascinating to realize how ancient the remains are!

Sign at the beginning of the trail.

Sign at the beginning of the trail.

Morrison Formation spur trail at Dinosaur National Monument

Morrison Formation spur trail at Dinosaur National Monument

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a photo that means Lost in the Details to you.  (This challenge is about getting lost in the details. Once you’ve found a subject you want to photograph, challenge yourself to work a little further into the scene.)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

Ladybug Handstand
Ladybug Handstand, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
have you ever seen
a ladybug in a handstand
dare to be different
>>:::<<

Glad to be participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge after being absent for a couple of months.
Post-processing done in Photoshop Elements 10.  Here is the original photo:

Ladybug Handstand photo

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a photo
that says unique to you.

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