Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mountains and Motorcycles

I love to ride my motorcycle. Good thing, as lately I spend a lot of time on it. And by a lot of time, I mean a 90-minute commute one way, 4 days a week. Twelve hours a week on a bike in what is right now, unpleasant heat. I have olive skin but still use a 45spf sunscreen every day. Even with sunscreen, I'm getting very dark. You'd think my skin would feel like leather, but fortunately, so far it doesn't.

One good thing about the commute is that every day I get to view some of the most awesome scenery in our entire country. I get to travel at relatively high speeds on beautifully paved, curvy and shady roads, looking at trees, kudzu vines, quaint barns, and mountains.

Here are some pictures I've taken from the bike. Yes, I did. Once in high gear, my left hand is free and it takes about a second to call up my camera phone & snap a pic. The drawback being that some of these pix aren't as detailed as I like, and a couple come nowhere NEAR capturing the beauty that is apparent to the human eye, but they'll have to do. Each picture has a caption if necessary. Enjoy!

In Sevierville, you can go to an entire store dedicated to Beef Jerky. Not kidding.

These barns have dotted the countryside in the South for as long as I can remember.

Very hard to see, sorry. But every day I ride past this, and it makes me smile. These people have put up their own street sign at their driveway, crooked of course, and it says "More R Less."

Once I get to Sevierville, I take Veterans Parkway, which goes by the back parking lots of Dollywood but also bypasses all the traffic through Sevierville & Pigeon Forge. Along the way there are places where one can see up to 5 layers of mountains. The next 3 pictures were taken on that route.

Because the forests here respire so much moisture, we have a lot of mist (humidity, LOL), which is what earned them the name "The Great Smoky Mountains." In the morning and evening, it looks like the picture above. During the day, if there is cloud cover, it looks like the pic below.

There is one hill that I top every morning, when suddenly it's no longer just foothills covered with trees, but the full scope of the Smokies, looming large in purple-gray-blue, 4x as high as the highest foothill, and surrounding me by about 120 degrees. It never fails to give me goosebumps. The two last pictures are miserable failures at capturing the breathtaking beauty but they're the best I could do...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2nd of Many

1I don't know if I've mentioned it here. In fact I don't think I have. But in soul-searching for some mid-to-late life career I could do that would be interesting, challenging, & something that would use my talents, I lit on becoming a tattoo artist.

2Last month I began a 2-yr odyssey of apprenticeship under Boyd Reid. Right now we're working out of a little shop in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Up until now, I've had only the one, little ice-cream cone tattoo. As one moves through apprenticeship, normally one acquires more tattoos. My husband very sensitively stated, "You're gonna become just another inked-up freak." Well the freak label fits but... 3I really didn't want to end up with an odd conglomeration of relatively unrelated tattoos here, there and everywhere. And, I find that as I talk to people & tell them what I'm doing, their first response is to look me over & notice that I don't have any visible tattoos... and then not believe me!

4What to do? I've designed a 1/2-sleeve tattoo of birth flowers of all 7 of my living kids, and 5 lost babies. An even dozen of colorful flowers, each with a little banner with the child's name. Each flower can be inked by a different artist, yet when finished, the piece will be one comprehensive work of art.

I want to have a modification done around my ice cream cone... a little white, lavender & light-blue cloud of marshmallow fluff. And then a flaming heart on the left breast in about the same size. 5But meanwhile, Boyd said, "Lets get some ink on you out where people can see it."

The pictures on the blog today are the progression of the first flower and centerpiece of the sleeve, a Stargazer Lily. This tattoo took longer to apply than the amount of time I've spent in my longest 6labor out 7 live births & 1, 19.5-week loss (3hrs was the longest). And, it's every bit as permanent. The bottom petal is purposely left undone so we can add the "Veronica" banner when the next flower down is inked, so the upper petals of that flower can overlap the banner.

7Pics are clickable for full-size versions. Beginning at the top we have:

  • 1. The picture of the lily, modified to be mirrored and tilted to the angle I needed it on my arm
  • 2. Boyd's hand-drawn stencil of the lily, on my arm
  • 3. Beginning the work. Me and my tattoo "master."
  • 4. The lily, about 1/3 completed
  • 5. Manic Boyd, madly tattooing
  • 6. The lily, completed, not dressed & not done bleeding
  • 7. Composite view (front and side)
  • 8. Finished, dressed, & in sunlight (which highlights the colors)

    He did this very large, original art tattoo in about 4 hours with very little lasting skin trauma. If you're ever in Pigeon Forge, you can stop in Ink Dimensions at Traffic Light 7 (Old Mill Avenue) and have Boyd Reid apply excellent, permanent art to you!
  • Monday, July 5, 2010

    Unabashed Promotion, LOL

    I follow @kiboomu on twitter, and they have designed a wonderful piano iPhone app of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for preschool children! They're going to give away 20 copies of this to 20 lucky winners!

    Aspiring toddler & preschool pianists now have a new way to take piano lessons!

    Introducing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Piano iPhone App by KIBOOMU.

    "Spark your child's love of learning and musical creativity with this sing and play along piano." Eric Wiseman, PhD, Harvard University

    "Both charming and colorful! Creates teachable moments whilst entertaining! Making animal sounds on a piano translates into big loud fun."
    App Craver review: 8 stars out of 10

    "Is an excellent children's learning app that I highly recommend!"
    Crazy Mike's App review: 5 stars out of 5

    "The fantastic touch keyboard just begs to be played with its light-up keys to guide your fingers to the correct notes."
    App Discover review

    "We love the app. A lot of fun and a great learning experience for kids!"
    The Daily App Show review

    "We love the colorful graphics and my daughter loves playing the piano!"
    Heather Quinn-Shillin http://faithfamilyandfun.com

    "The kids are having fun with it. It's our new favorite app!"
    Chelle Cazella http://www.dappersnappers.com

    Created by a preschool teacher and pianist, this interactive app encourages children to take a more active role in learning!

    It's also a really fun way to introduce children to playing piano!

    With this play-a-song iPhone app, children can do the following:
  • follow the lighted keys or match the colorful music notes to the piano keys
  • watch the piano keys light up one by one with the song
  • press the start button and sing along
  • add animal sounds to the song
  • hear the song played on a banjo, xylophone, harp, flute, bells and more!
  • record your child singing and playing the piano!
  • sing and read karaoke style lyrics in English, French & Spanish

    Playing the piano is not just fun, it's educational too!

    Research has shown that piano lessons:

  • 1.Help Children in School
  • 2.Raise Self Esteem.
  • 3.Increase Coordination
  • 4.Help Children to Concentrate
  • 5.Help Children to be Well-Rounded!

    To enter, to win a copy of the iPhone app for your preschooler, leave a comment! PLEASE remember to leave some type of contact information (twitter ID or youremailaddress @ server.com in broken format).

    20 winners will be chosen from the comments! Be sure to follow @kiboomu on twitter for app announcements and updates!