Thursday, December 30, 2010

Family Table

Remember my Family Table posts? Well here is one dedicated to my sweet grandmother.


IMG_0824


she's the bedtime enforcer. the piano teacher. the Bible verse reciter. the storyteller to multiple grandchildren snuggled in her bed. the nap lover. on any given winter night, you can find her snoozing in her fireside rocking chair next to my grandfather who will most likely be watching the news or a basketball game. the best pimento cheese maker. the spoiler of my grandfather. she's a self proclaimed cheerleader for all of her grandchildren and children, but most of all, her husband. the compulsive picker-upper of all things out of order. the die-hard recycler and re user. the woman who can still be freezing cold sitting next to a furnace. the nightly Mentholatum applier under her nose and on her lips. the hater of dry skin, especially when it comes to her piano playing hands. Sara Lee Coffee Cake's most loyal customer. the fashionista. the hummer of old southern hymns. the owner of a bedroom slipper filled closet... many worn by her granddaughters when she "can't stand to look at those bare, cold feet anymore." the caller of "lamb chop" to all those she loves. the leaver of red lipstick stains on her cocktail glasses full of grapefruit juice. the baby lover. she's the harmonizer of every song ever sung... even "Happy Birthday." the preparer of her world famous breakfast casserole, always present on Christmas morning. the adorer of smocked dresses and big bows for all her youngest granddaughters. the biggest reason Christmas is always so special in our family. the cancer survivor, carrying on each day with inspiring strength.

my grandmother is... my hero.



IMG_0828Align Center

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

bright eyes

bright eyes


these bright eyes belong to a special girl...

a girl who dances around on her tip toes,
who speaks so excitedly that her words come out in a completely happy jumble.
the daddy's girl,
whose sweet cheeks remain in an almost constant smile,
the one who calls me "Fuzanna," (instead of Suzanna), melting my heart every time.
the dog lover and cat chaser,
whose head tilts to the side as she tells stories with an always animated tone.
the baby of my mom's side of the family with one of the biggest hearts.
the happiest little girl i know...

the single most person i want to be when i grow up.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Livvy

I had to write a short story for my Creative Writing class a few weeks ago. We were to write a character study... a descriptive story of a fictional character who changes because of the plot (can't you tell this is a great class?)

Here is Livvy. I hope you enjoy the story of a girl that has lived in my mind and heart for years.


Livvy was fourteen that spring. She had golden brown hair that hung in shoulder-length braids down her tanned arms. Freckles were sprinkled across her nose, and a dimple was asymmetrically placed on her left cheek. She loved to walk along the crackled road at Nunnally Farms, her home, and greet her cows every day. She had followed her grandfather out to the pasture almost every morning since she could walk, helping him with the daily cattle duties. Annie, the oldest cow, was her absolute favorite, and Annie sure loved Livvy as well. Livvy would always run her fingers up and down Annie’s silky back and whisper secrets into her ears. Livvy was the happiest when she was sitting near her cows, her baseball cap donned, her bare feet hardened by the gravel, and a casual breeze gently swaying her braids in the air. Livvy detested the daily piano lessons upon which her grandmother insisted. Her grandmother was the most beautiful piano player in the world as far as Livvy was concerned, but she just didn’t seem to share the same talent. The dirt between her fingernails and the hair in her eyes were always scolded by her grandmother as each lesson progressed, and Livvy could never keep her interest going the whole time. Livvy’s favorite way to spend a spring or summer night was snuggled in between her grandparents in the big bed. Her grandfather’s loud snores always made her smile, and her grandmother’s arms around her made her feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Livvy loved to ride in the passenger seat of the old pick-up truck as her grandfather drove around the farm. She knew she would never forget the smell of her home, especially when she would lean her head out the window and inhale every memory it held for her. Livvy was an innocent girl who grew up slowly, surrounded by the love of her family and the love of the farm. Unlike most of her peers, Livvy was going to be a child as long as the world would allow…

Until that summer when everything changed… the summer when Livvy’s mother came back into her life.

Livvy’s mother, Stella, left her with her grandparents when she was a newborn. Rebellious Stella was in her early twenties at the time and had gotten pregnant from one of her many one night stands. Knowing that her drug problems and unemployment would never be enough for motherhood, she left Livvy with her parents and never came back to Nunnally Farms. Her disappearance left her parents with an empty hole in their lives, a hole that had begun to form as soon as Stella started to turn away from their conservative beliefs when she was in high school. Livvy was their saving grace, though. The happiness brought from the smile in her bright blue eyes overshadowed much of the despair in their lives.

The last time anyone had ever heard from Stella was five years ago, when she begged her parents to wire her some money, which they did in hopes of renewing contact with her. However, after that, she never called again.

~~~

It was a beautiful summer day when Stella drove up to the farm in her old blue convertible. Livvy was feeding Annie in her favorite spot and enjoying the smooth breeze that was in the air. Her grandparents had gone to a neighbor’s house, so she figured she would get some chores done while they were absent. She was contemplating an afternoon swim in the lake when she heard the screeching noise of a run-down motor coming up the driveway. All she could see of the person driving at first was a cigarette hanging out the window, but then she saw the familiar face. The face she had only seen in pictures, but the face that had been etched into her heart for as long as she could remember. She ran to her mother with forgiveness pouring out of her soul. Their embrace seemed to last forever, and tears shone in both of their eyes…

Livvy soon learned that her mother was dying. Cancer had spread throughout her body, and she had only months to live. Upon learning of her condition, Stella knew she could only do one thing with the rest of her days- she had to be the mother she never was. And that is exactly what she did for the last two months of her life.

Before meeting her mother, Livvy was a quiet girl who had lived a sheltered life on her beloved farm. Stella, however, introduced Livvy to the world around her. She taught her how to dream of the future and be excited about the changes taking place around her. She took her shopping and on day trips to the city. She told Livvy stories about love and about the horrible mistakes she had made in her life. The most important lesson Stella taught Livvy, though, was the lesson of pure grace. The grace that welcomed Stella back to the farm as though she had never left. The grace that gave them both a relationship together they had never even imagined. And the grace that presented them each with a new enthusiasm for life.

Livvy aged a few years watching her mother die that summer. This was the first time she realized life was not fair, and that people were always walking in and out of it. She had never grieved so much as she did for her mother, and she had to learn how to rise from tragedy, something many people don’t grasp all their lives. Livvy also experienced thankfulness for her grandparents and for the time she spent with Stella. Her mother’s death helped her to appreciate the wonderful life around her, and allowed her to form exciting aspirations outside her simple life on the farm.

Her mother helped her become the person she was meant to be.




IMG_0712

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm Thankful Day 3

Yes, I know Thanksgiving is over, but I have just barely skimmed the top layer of my overflowing gratitude lately. I hope each of your Thanksgivings was as wonderful as mine. And today, as I enter back into the real world, I can't get enough of this scene below me.

thanksgiving view


Thanksgiving at the farm...

the mixture of scents from the numerous family members entering into the house. the smiles on faces as long lost relatives are seen once again. the smell of Uncle Billy's pride and joy (his smoked turkey) traveling through the air. canned cranberry sauce atop crystal dishware. my grandmother's meticulously decorated dinner table. little munchkins running around, so happy to see their "bestest cousins." watching the hustle and bustle around the house in the bright blue eyes of my captivated two year old cousin. the men arriving in camouflage, just finishing up a successful dove hunt. the smoky smell of fire drifting from the roaring fireplace. rivalry football games exploding from the t.v. in the living room. gathering hands around the big table while my grandfather blesses the food... adding in a few jokes at the end, of course. oversized portions of casseroles filling each plate. still sitting at the kiddie table as I become the designated cheek wiper for the little ones. many slowly leave the table while the dinner is wrapping up, but i always stay and listen to casual chatter between the remaining adults. much too full bellies sitting around crinkled napkins and cleaned plates. complete happiness and peace grinning across my face from ear to ear.

i love my family. and for them, i am the most thankful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Thankful Day 2

sleepy eyes


Today I am thankful for these sleepy eyes that see right into my heart. I am thankful for this scruffy chin that rests on my knee when attention is sought. I am thankful for these velvety ears that never complain about the uncountable number of soap operas they have had to hear. I am thankful for this golden tail that doesn't seem to mind when accidentally stepped upon by the busy people in this house.

I am so thankful for this good 'ole boy. He's a special one, that's for sure.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Thankful Day 1

As Thanksgiving is nearing, I am getting my mind into thankful mode around here. I'm going to be posting little regular posts about what makes me overflow with thankfulness for the next couple of weeks...



Today I am thankful for this little buddy and the way his cool facade disappears as he tucks himself in my parents' bed each night...

IMG_0386

IMG_0391

IMG_0396

Even though he refuses to pick up the bath mat when he gets out of the shower, even though I am the one who has to gather up his strewn belongings across the house and bring them back to his room, even though he blares his cool music way too loud when I am trying to study...

I am so thankful. His crooked smile and tendency to nestle his head on my shoulder while we watch t.v. seems to do the trick.

I love you baby boy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Family Time

missing family time

(the last time we were all together... 4th of July fireworks)

the sound of voices heard all around
the clinging of silverware across the table
listening to the memories of a time long ago
raving over the delicately prepared meal
sitting back when every ounce of food is gone, tummies full
staying at the table long after each plate is cleaned, just to enjoy the casual conversation
gathering up the sleepy-eyed children and taking them to their final destinations of the night
falling asleep with a genuine smile etched on my face and grandparents on either side...

I am missing family time at the farm right about now. Thank goodness that in a couple of weeks, we will be packing our minivan and heading up there. Sorry I have been gone for so long... I am sure you all remember the lovely stresses of high school :)

Thanksgiving, can you please hurry up?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A corny pun and self analyses

This fall I am turning over a new leaf (ha ha)...

I am realizing more and more that my life has begun to diminish to little more than my AP class, schoolwork, and busy schedules. I have barely gotten to enjoy the beauty of my favorite season so far, and that fact is what saddens me the most.

So what have I done to fix this little issue?
Well after promptly completing all my school stuff, I donned my scarf and boots and stepped outside. I crunched atop the newly fallen leaves with the deepest satisfaction I have had in weeks. Stress completely flew out the window and peace... peace set right in. I am going to set aside time to do this as often as possible. To just sit and absorb the crisp air, neighborhood noises, and take advantage of the most easily accessible beauty right here at home.

Sometimes, all I need is a little nature. Isn't it funny how all we have to do is step right outside sometimes to find all the focus we have been looking for?

May you get to step outside just once this week... and turn over a new leaf this beautiful season.



IMG_9277

and a totally unrelated picture that makes me smile every time...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Picture Summer

Picture Summer Class Mosaic

I know fall has just begun, but with my absence, my Picture Summer (with Tracey Clark) photos never made it up here.

I hope this helps you remember the beautiful summer past, and look forward to the fall ahead.
Have a great week.

-suzyQ

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

my girls.

my sisters.
(taken with my tripod and self-timer)

we are best friends.
slumber buddies.
late night cookie dough eaters.
self proclaimed stand-up comedians.
closet sharers.
advice givers.
middle of the night cover stealers.

we... are sisters.

(
August Break #4)


Monday, August 16, 2010

she's there

his cheerleader

she's always there
taking a break from the piano and grandmotherly duties
to grab a chair
and be there for him-
his cheerleader,
every day
always
she's there

(August Break #3... to learn more about my lovely grandmother, stay tuned for another Family Table post soon)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer under the water



Here's a part of summer that I can't get enough of.
(August Break #2)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

August Break

I am starting my August Break today (see left column for info...)

I probably won't be consistent with it because I want to continue with my Family Table Series, but it will be a nice project to fall back on. My summer is winding down, and I am just trying to enjoy every minute of it. Hope yours is wonderful as well!

IMG_8512

Thursday, July 29, 2010

those people at the table (#1)


at the head sits my grandfather, the farmer. the chocolate milkshake maker. the spoiler. the one whose snores make you smile in the middle of the night while snug between him and my grandmother. the one with the dirty jeans. the one with the worn-out, big, comfy chair in the living room. the one who makes the big batch of peaches 'n milk that's out on the counter every summer morning before he leaves for his early morning cattle duties. the one who can tell a joke over and over, and it gets funnier every time. the elvis presley junkie. the truck driver. the TV King (I am known as the TV Queen). the one who says "how's my firstborn?" every time he sees me. the sweet tea addict. the die-hard Republican. the basketball/tennis coach. the one who has taught most of his grandchildren how to properly dive into the swimming pool- no matter how long it took (he once stood by the side of our neighborhood pool with me for hours until my dive put Michael Phelps to shame.) the one who runs the entire beach every day when we take our family vacation...(yes this is my grandfather we are talking about). my encourager. the one with the most comfortable lap in the world. the old-fashioned Southern boy. the lover of my sweet grandmother. the one who has always caught me since toddler years with strong arms as I run and jump in his arms, and still does.

This is my Big Daddy. Not only is he the head of the table, he is the head of our family.


(
for the next few posts, I will be telling you about each of these amazing people at the table- my family. I hope you begin to love 'em as much as I do.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In the quiet shadows...


she listens...
to the tune of her loved ones, hearing the music she adores.
the music of their voices harmonized together, the familiar warmth of their bodies close by.
she listens...
to the very happiness that defines her.

she listens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The latest

Lately, I kinda have been substituting my big 'ole Canon for my little bitty camera phone. It is so easy to grab and instantly snap the moment before me... and since the quality of picture is much less, it forces me to really capture the essence of the life surrounding me. Sure, my cellphone pictures aren't the prettiest pictures in the world, but they are close to my heart. They really illustrate what is going on around me- the real stuff, no fancy equipment to beautify it.

No, I am definitely not putting up my SLR for good... it is just fun to play around with something new. I actually am shooting every day now- I was always "too busy" to do so before.

Go here here and here for more cellphone picture love. (you can also go to my link in the left panel)

These are my favorites so far:





Sunday, June 27, 2010

One

Hello my dear readers! Today, June 27th, marks the one year anniversary of my blog. Can you believe it? Thank you all for your constant love, support, and sweet words. This transitional phase in my life from childhood to adulthood has been much easier for me- being able to express my thoughts in this space. Developing this place has definitely been one of the best decisions I have ever made; look at all the blog friends I have made! I thank and love you all.



I am off to celebrate...


P.S. Check out my new "cell phone photography" and twitter account in the left corner. Sooo fun.

-suzyQ

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lightning bug love



Catching lightning bugs with my sweet cousins just before dark... that's what I am loving about my summer.

What are you loving about yours?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sees




Okay, okay. I am going to be completely honest... Auto-focus is mostly on cruise control for me, and I usually tweak my photos' coloring on my editing program. However easy it may seem, it is all to recreate the "beauty that I find in the ordinary every day".

So when my highly intellectual cousin questioned my beloved art of photography, I told him that exact statement above.
"Photography is the lazy man's art," he said, "anyone can press a button, and then edit it to make it look perfect. I wouldn't say you have to be talented to do that..."

Little did he know, but those words deeply bothered me for quite some time. Am I really an artist? Is photography really an art? How am I special if anybody can make a pretty picture?
It sure took me a long time to answer the thousands of questions in my head, but I finally did it. And here is my answer:

Photography is much more than a pretty picture. It's true- anyone can do that. Photography, however, is the magic found in an exchange of good mornings, the soft sheets woken up to every day, an afternoon drive to soccer practice, a child's playdate, carefully drawn sidewalk chalk murals on the driveway, the touch of a loved one, an overpacked minivan headed to the beach, the irony of an out of place conversation ...

A true photographer is different because

a true photographer sees.

**To answer some questions:
I do almost always shoot on manual modes (mostly Av) , and I sometimes use manual focus, but auto-focus is the most common because when I see something I want to capture, it is the best to use because I don't want the moment to go by.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Forever


She was a sweet girl.
She would walk barefoot in the dirt, then wash her hands as her mama called her in for supper.
She loved to catch lightning bugs, and loved babies.
She and her sister would make Barbie houses out of old video tapes and play for hours.
She called her little brother her baby boy, just as if he were her child.
Her American Dolls slept with her every night, had a reserved seat at the dinner table, and were showered with kisses and baby powder.
She had a five star restaurant in her back yard where she sold countless meals to her siblings through the window of her playhouse.
She would swing in the backyard before dance class, careful not to rip her pink tights.
She loved to read, and Nancy Drew was always on her bedside table.
The Dixie Chicks were her favorite band; following closely behind was Shania Twain.
Hopping on the four-wheeler with her grandaddy and riding around the farm made her feel very special.
She loved to dance, and always wished her hair was long enough to put in a proper "ballet bun."
She could spend hours in the pool, until her little fingers and toes resembled raisins.
She was very sensitive, her feelings were hurt easily.
While watching PG-13 movies with her grandparents and eating butter popcorn and chocolate milkshakes, she felt like a grown-up.
Red was her favorite color.
She loved college football games, even though she would be very upset when the poor referees were "booed" by the crowd.
She was determined to read the whole Bible through in a few weeks, and very disappointed in herself when that deadline was not nearly met.
Being with her family was the best thing in the world.
She loved to sing, and believed she was the next Britney Spears. Her parents were glad when that dream never came true..
She watched every episode of Full House at least twenty times each, and countless freckles resided on her cheeks.
She grew up slow, and would cry when she thought time was moving too fast.


The sweet girl now waits... for that blink-of-an-eye moment when it will all be gone. Her childhood-

forever.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Coming back to life

(my friend Caroline)


I felt it... as soon as I smelled that good ole smell, and felt that fresh air on my cheeks after walking out of the school building... I felt it.

summer is bringing me back to life.

The late nights of cramming for exams the next day, alarm clocks, the numerous empty coffee mugs surrounding me- exam week is over...

and summer is here!

Hallelujah.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring has got me going wild...

...I have even stepped up to videos. Wow, I love this time of year.


video


*Yes, that is me playing the piano... Another one of well-kept secrets from you guys.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Her Hands



(my mother, my sister, and me back in the day)

I remember waking up on lazy sunny mornings and hopping in the cozy bed with her. I would slip under her arm and sit there, holding her hands. The most beautiful hands. I would trace my fingers up and down, memorizing every feature- her wedding rings (I considered them rare jewels), her reddish-pink polish, the freckles sprinkled everywhere, the feel of her slick nails freshly manicured...

I still look at those hands, and they still are the most beautiful hands in the world. And sometimes, I even hop in her cozy bed on a lazy morning, just for old time's sake.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama. I love you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bliss










Ohh this spring weather. It is enough to make me quit school all together and camp out in my back yard for the rest of my life. I am in bliss.

Hope your spring is fabulous as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sam









My best friend.
My therapist to listen to all my problems.
My pillow.
My warmth on chilly nights.
My laughter.
The root of an unclean house.
My protector on dark nights when I am home alone.
The addition to our family Christmas cards.
My portrait model that never whines or complains about smiling too much.
My spoiled rotten baby.

Sammy, I love you ole boy. You make Mama proud.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apologies


I am sorry that I have been absent for the last week or so... but I have a lot to catch you all up on later.

And here's a preview:



(prom!)

Have a happy rest of the week and weekend.
-
suzyQ

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Magic is...



family dinners crammed into our busy schedules

shouts of the neighborhood boys enjoying this "summer preview" weather, even though it is way past bedtimes

late nights, followed by getting into bed with the warmth of a sleeping sibling on the sheets

having the sun as an alarm clock...peeking under the curtains with the warmth of a new day

quiet early mornings after good sleep

a smile from across the lunchroom

overcoming a tough week, followed by a weekend of pancakes, sunshine, and green grass

coming home after a long trip, the smell of home as you open the door

building sandcastles, sandy fingernails, and digging for seashells with the late day's sun on your arms

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Digging up

Because my mind is still on spring break mode, I decided to go deep into my archives and dig up an old favorite post that I feel didn't get its time in the spotlight... I am also celebrating my 101st post! So I am sorry if you have seen this post before, but it is one of my all-time favorites...


Chicago, Chicago



We drove 14 hours- all five of us packed in one car, luggage and all. The best trip of my life.


Chicago.

Car horns. Busy sidewalks. Suited-up men talking on their Blackberrys. Brief cases. Shopping bags. Taxis. Gum on my shoes. My mother freaking out as we cross the busy street- holding each of our hands. Wind-soo much wind. The Magnificent Mile. The Sears Tower. Navy Pier. Lattes. Darling boutiques. Wonderful dining on every corner. The feeling of excitement the city brings to me. Mine and my sister's plans to move up to Chicago as soon as we graduate college. New clothes, and much bragging to look forward to when we got back home.
...
Yes, I am a small-town girl who dreams of an internship at a major advertising firm in New York. Who dreams of being able to go shopping on a whim. Who dreams of going out and actually having a place to go. Who will be on top of every new city trend out there... and the list goes on.


But for now, I am perfectly content with my sleepy street, 30 classmates, neighborhood parties, and the sound of crickets as I fall asleep.


I will save the city for later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Springy Easter













I think this one and the first one are my favorites..














These are various pictures from my lovely Easter weekend. Don't they just gleam "spring"?!
I hope you all had a beautiful Easter as well, and I hope that feeling carries you through this week..

(I am on Spring Break, so mine will be perfect!)

Much love,
suzyQ