Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Colours of Autumn, Your Moods and Beautiful Images from iPHOTOS.com

Photo of beautiful autumn trees reflected in water
"Fall has always been my favourite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale." — Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Whether you look forward to its arrival or not, there's no question that when autumn's good it's very good,  its appeal found in the showy scenes it creates. When the leaves begin their dramatic transformation nobody wants to miss the performance.

With torrid temperatures finally showing up this month, after a bleak July and August, my husband and I, while at our summer retreat,  opted to turn our usual lakeshore strut into more of a stroll in order to give this splendid break our full appreciation.  The brilliance of the sunshine heated the crisp softness of the sand as cooling blue waters lapped at the shoreline's edge. A gentle breeze floating in off the lake soothed hot skin and eased our exertions. Which was a really good thing since, despite our leisurely pace, the unfamiliar heat of this September day made efforts less easy.

As the sun beat down upon us we decided to duck for cover on one of the shaded streets that lead to the water. This not only provided some relief; it also gave me time to fully take notice of the spectacle of summer's shift to autumn, from lush verdancy to a canopy of colour.

Having reflected on that in the days since, I decided to take it a step further here. Why not consider the beauty of autumn colours, how they make me feel, and what the experts say about them?  It would also be a great way as well to introduce a selection of terrific photographs from iPHOTOS.com.

Photo of a yellow autumn leaf background

This is one of my favourite colours. Yellow is to me a reflection of sunshine and joy. It uplifts me and inspires a feeling of optimism.  Various websites  that I found on the topic didn't disagree, but noted as well that too much yellow can have you feeling quite the opposite of mellow.  It can be overwhelming and is best used sparingly.

Photo of pumpkins

While I'm not exactly a fan of this brilliant hue in day-to-day living,  there's no denying it's  a lovely addition to autumn. I see something stimulating about the colour and believe it has energizing effects.  Experts agree saying it's an attention getter, a call to action that has a friendly energy.

Photos of red autumn leaves

I'm not sure I'd call it an aversion, but my acceptance of this colour depends a good deal on the particular shade I'm looking at. The gorgeous crimson of autumn leaves is as dramatic as the ranges of emotions this colour can inspire. Everything from anger and danger to passion and excitement are represented by the many shades of red. At least according to those who study this.

It might be the drab cousin of the autumn colour family but it's as much a part of it as the others.  Quite simply, while I rather like all tones of brown, I do find it makes me feel a little lazy.  It is, experts say, rather low on stimulation but generates feelings of security. 

Autumn is bittersweet, its brilliance captivating and energizing; its darkening days and cooling temperatures reminding that we have left the light of summer behind. We are ready to languish, to cocoon, yet, not prepared to give in completely just yet. In essence, I suppose, we might say that the colours of autumn reflect all that we feel at this time of year. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Autumn's Perfect for Family Photos, Especially When You Take Them in a Pumpkin Patch

PhotoSeptember days are here,
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer."
— Helen Hunt Jackson

Well, there's certainly no argument this week that we've enjoyed the best of summer weather.  After a somewhat atypical dismal, damp July and August, followed by an abysmal start to September, Mother Nature has given us a gift. For several days she has blessed us with nothing but sunny, bright skies and balmy temperatures, as well as the promise of more to come.

If, that is, we can trust the meteorologists' forecasts for our area. Which I rarely do any more. After sitting indoors recently, watching The Weather Network's current conditions showing clear skies while outside the world was drowning under a deluge, (or on many other occasions the reverse) I'm an admitted cynic about these predictions.

For this reason when I keep hearing that The Farmer's Almanac is forecasting a vicious winter here I'm not too worried. Yet. Since  our weather experts seem to have trouble telling us what's going to happen on any given day,  I just really have little faith they can nail it that far ahead.  If they do, so be it, but I'm not about to worry this far ahead that they've got it right.

Other people, however, seem ready to start stewing. On a glorious autumn day, one replete with all the things we typically enjoy in summer, plus the best of the new season, there was yet one more person who found it necessary to dampen the day by reminding me of the dire predictions for a long, cold, stormy winter.

I let them know though that for now I've chosen to be hopeful instead. Hopeful that we will have many more days of this kind of weather before the snow flies. Hopeful that this season will linger like a gentle kiss goodbye. Hopeful that we feel only the nip of winter rather than its bite.

Autumn can be such a pretty time of year I don't want to spend it thinking that Old Man Winter is going to have a temper tantrum when he arrives. Instead, I think it best to celebrate this glorious season. There really is a lot to love about the transition between the sunny heat and the bitter cold — the bold hues of the changing landscape, fewer bugs and sunny days with no humidity.

For these reasons,  and others, autumn is the chosen season in our family for many things, including being the prefect time of year to update our family portraits.

With the welcome addition of spouses and babies to our clan, as well as the changes that happen over time to all of us, new pictures need to be done with a certain amount of regularity. Thus, a decision was made some time ago that we would have family portraits taken every two years. They are always outdoors and always in the fall. We have used our yard, our daughter's woodlot, the beach and a local conservation area as the setting.

Oddly, however, we have never considered another opportunity that happens this time of year. What better place for autumn pictures, especially when little ones are involved, than in a pumpkin patch?  It's definitely on the list for the next fall photo session. Here are some sites I found offering helpful tips:

Pumpkin Patch Photography Tips

How to Take Pictures of Kids at the Pumpkin Patch

10 Tips for Taking Better Pumpkin Patch Photos

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Discover the Beauty of Autumn in Glorious Photos from Vital Imagery Ltd.

Photo of early autumn in the mountains
"Time flies never to be recalled." — Virgil

Sometimes it really does seem to have happened in the blink of an eye. A day, a week, a month, passing by with such swiftness as to make you dream of ways to hang on, to slow things down.  Happy moments arrive and before we know it they become pleasant memories.

It's with this somewhat sentimental view that I turn my eye to fall's imminent arrival. Having attained a perfectly nice little burn under late summer's blazing sun this past weekend, it was almost possible to ignore the chill that has seeped into the evening air, or the shortening hours of daylight.

Long walks at the lakeshore,  wining and dining with family and friends on the deck, are also experiences that cast a spell, ones that delude us into imagining we are not experiencing summer's twilight.

There is one facet, however, to which it's really difficult to turn a blind eye. While out for a cruise this past weekend in our beloved 1967 Dodge,  I noticed a bank of trees at the side of the roadway that had begun their magnificent transformation to autumn.  Glints of sunlight danced off the foliage as shades of burnished orange, cheery yellow and fiery crimson popped against the cerulean sky. It was a breathtaking moment quickly followed by a second when the realization struck that with this spectacular show we could no longer deny autumn was on its way.

Photo of two children playing in the autumn leavesIt's the promise of this performance from Mother Nature that makes the upcoming season palatable for me now. However, as a youngster, born in September the fall was a delightful time of year.  There was the excitement of heading back to school followed by our rural community's annual fall fair.  Visions of candy floss and caramel apples, roller coasters and ferris wheels filled daydreams.

But it was something far less superficial that lifted our energy, that occupied countless of autumn hours, that exemplified childhood. Rustling our way home from school through the detritus left by nature's summer shedding, we ran, kicked and laughed. Plowing our way through piles of colourful leaves,  burying ourselves under the crispy colours or tossing handfuls in the air, were welcome childhood pastimes that chased away any doldrums over summer's loss.

As an adult though,  it takes a lot to get excited over this particular seasonal transformation. While the first kick through fallen leaves can stir quiet memories of youthful bliss, they are short-lived as they also serve as a reminder that hours of raking will follow.  It might have been fun when called upon by Mom and Dad to take on this chore for a time, but it's worn thin over the passing years.

Since winter's chill and bluster have long ago lost any charm for me, autumn, as its predecessor carries with it a certain ominous foreshadowing.  Despite an appreciation for its incredible beauty I can't help but feel a touch forlorn.

But then a drive on a bright, clear fall day,  rubbernecking right and left to take in all of the magnificent foliage is sure to lighten the spirit.

For that reason then, today's selection of images puts the focus on showy autumn with amazing photographs from iPHOTOS.com and Clipart.com

Friday, September 1, 2017

Grandparents Rock! Celebrate Them on Their Special Day with Great Clipart from Vital Imagery Ltd.

Clipart image of a little girl smiling at her grandparents
"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children." — Alex Haley

I like to think this is the effect I have on my grandchildren. I know my own grandparents certainly put the magic in my existence.  Thoughts of them will find their way into the quiet moments of any random day,  memories that float to mind as softly as the butterflies danced in my grandmothers' gardens.  They are all welcome and beautiful when they arrive.

Both sets of grandparents were country folk,  born and raised — three of German descent, one of English.  The latter gave up agriculture for a career in the trades, while his wife, like all women of those times, kept the homefires burning. My paternal grandparents, however, stayed on the farm, giving this townie an opportunity to experience the open air and spaces of the pastoral landscape.

Though very different in personalities, my grandmas and grandpas provided, each in their own way, the calm in the storm.  As the youngest child by many years in a family of five I often as a child felt overwhelmed by the presence of adults. They always seemed larger than life. Not to mention, a tad imposing. My naive chatter was typically lost in the swirl of conversation that centred around more grownup topics, such as work and interpersonal relationships.

Oddly, however, that was never the feeling when I was in the company of my grandparents. Despite that fact that hard work and times had made them older than today's typical sexagenarian, they seemed to understand what it meant to be kid better than Mom and Dad, or my teenage brother and sister did.  When I spoke, they listened. When I walked, they walked with me, regardless of my pace or how often I stopped.

While work was a principle facet of their lifestyle, they were never too busy to pause when I asked. Grandpa Matthews would take my cousin and I onto his knee for songs, poetry or to draw pictures of his beloved horses for us. There was always time for a snack of cookies and cream soda when we found our way to Grandma's kitchen. At the country grandparents, I trailed behind as we wandered the orchards and gardens, the barns and fields. There were never too many questions asked.

To this day I will be comforted by the fragrance of bread warm from the oven, by the sight of a deep-dish pie, a crocheted afghan, a needlepoint picture. They bring me closer to these still loved, long remembered people whom I was blessed to have in my life for a time.

So it is these kinds of memories I hope my young grandchildren will have some day of their moments spent with my husband and me. I hope they remember two people who guided gently, who listened wholeheartedly, who hug tightly and loved fiercely.

Next Sunday is Grandparents Day. To know them is to love them. To have them is the best. To hold on to them as long as possible is to be truly blessed. We celebrate the love and joy they give and bring to us in these great clipart collections:
Clipart image of a Happy Grandparents Day message in a heart


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It's a Good Time of Year for Free. Check out These Links for Photoshop Resources

Clipart image of a bag of school supplies
The little chunk of the world where my family, friends, neighbours and I reside is looking ahead to the last weekend of summer. On Monday we celebrate Labour Day. The night before, once the sun has faded to twilight,  after fireworks brighten the dark night skies, we will begin our goodbye to the lazy, carefree weeks we enjoyed through July and August.

Because one week from today, it's back to reality.

Everywhere you turn these days you'll be seeing promotions for back-to-school.  In retail outlets, posters and advertisements are touting that they have everything kids need to get back to the business of learning.  This week, then, parents will be rushing out to get the last-minute deals on school supplies and fashions for their exuberant young students.

I used to love those mall outings with my four kids in the dying vacation days before a new school term began. Despite the fact that not all of them were as eager as others.

Feminism aside, the sexes really can be quite different in how they approach things. I never kept my boys from playing with dolls if they wanted, nor did I ever take a truck away from my girls. It was never necessary; their interests were predictable.

It was no surprise then, that the shopping excursions typically involved a lot of grumbling from the males and plenty of enthusiasm from the females. Especially when it came to fashion. The more clothes dumped into the change room for my daughters the better.  My requests for them to come out and model each outfit were met with enthusiasm too. When it came to my sons, however, I generally had to take them at their word that things fit.

Even,  perusing the aisles for pencils, papers and books The girls typically made a list while the boys had no idea what they needed.  A summer filled with freedom had left little room in those heads it seemed for any practical exercise.

What we all enjoyed, however, even in spite of the boys' recalcitrance, was plenty of laughter. There was good-natured teasing and the sharing of inside jokes, often at my expense. The distaste in my mouth over losing the battle on where to have lunch and finding myself at McDonald's, was soothed by the pleasure of watching my kids just enjoy being together.

Clipart image of a checkmark in a box for freeSpending a day with them, knowing that with every passing year made these times  more precious, was lovely. I usually hated to see it end.

Especially since arriving home  gave me time to take stock of the economic impact of this shopping extravaganza. While bargain hunting had been the order of the day, it still did cost a lot of money to get the job done.  Nothing comes that cheap.

So, as everyone's out spending money in the next few weeks getting their youngsters and teens in fashion-fit condition,  seeing that backpacks have all the necessary supplies, and kitchens are stocked with lunchbox essentials, I thought it might be a fun to throw out the word free. Check out these terrific free Photoshop resources:

Free Photoshop Resources from iCLIPART.com's Pinterest Board


15 Free Photoshop Resources for Infographics

Friday, August 18, 2017

You're Sure to 'Bee' Excited About These Great Clipart Collections

Clipart image of a bee carrying a pot of honey
Sometimes it takes a simple approach to remind us of important things.  Take for example the 2007 animated film Bee Movie, where, in a cute and colourful way, attention was drawn to the value of nature's most industrious insect.

We know we can thank bees for honey. We know they can deliver a nasty sting when we get in their way. But we don't necessarily think about everything that they do. Bees are responsible, after all,  for pollinating crops, fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Their loss would threaten the food we eat and the beauty around us.

Sadly, bee colonies haven't been doing all that well in recent years.  Back as far as 2007, concerns were expressed about the fact that honeybee colonies were dying at an alarming rate and there appeared to be no simple answer.  According to researchers, who determined  there was more than one factor at play here, the issue was complex. They ultimately attributed the majority of the losses to parasites, disease, nutrition and pesticide exposure. 

Information released by BeeInformed.org reported in 2015-16 that beekeepers across the United States lost 44 per cent of their honeybee colonies from April to April.  Losses continued for the same timeframe this year.   Phys.Org reported a lost of 33 per cent.  Though the lower number is encouraging, experts were quick to add that the number is still too high. However there is now a glimmer of optimism.

Given that these little insects play a significant role in maintaining Earth as we know it, we obviously want colonies to survive. And the news from Canada appears to be heartening too.  The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists reported that for 2015-16 the national percentage of colony winter loss was 16.8 per cent, the third lowest since 2006/07.  Beekeepers have been able to replace dead colonies and the number of colonies has increased by 22.4 percent.

So, if it seems that the worst might be behind us, that the fear that bee colonies everywhere are falling faster than a hummingbird's wings is now behind us, you might wonder what prompted this chatter from me.  The thing is, like many people,  I can have a tendency to take things for granted. When I first heard about this concern,  it was troubling. Over time, however, the idealist in me trusted that experts would get it figured out and the worry would be behind us. Bees once again just became another insect.

But after happening upon this information during a search for something completely unrelated, I decided it was time again to give these helpful, though occasionally prickly, friends of ours their due. It was surprising once I made that decision how often they came to mind.

From the minute the day began when I looked over to see my husband add his dollop of honey into his coffee I was reminded about the things in my life for which I can thank the humble bee.  It was there once more while the two of us were enjoying said coffees on the deck and my attention was diverted by a bee settling on a nearby coneflower, hanging out there for a time before droning on to a shasta daisy.

Later that afternoon as we headed out for a bit of socializing,  I gazed out the car window at fields of crops and thought again of the tiny creature that played a role in the success of agriculture's bounty.

Even as the day came to an end and I prepared for bed, my mind returned to the value of bees as I slathered on my homemade lotion, concocted of oils and beeswax.

The bottom line here is that play a far greater role in our lives than we often reflect upon. So for today, we will promote the humble bee and its environmental contributions with some super clipart collections.

iCLIPART.com Bee Illustrations

iPHOTOS.com Bee Images

Clipart.com Bee Images

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's Almost Time for Back to School. See Shiny, Happy Student Faces from iPHOTOS.com

Photo of a happy little girl wearing a backpack for back to school
"All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think." — Ken Robinson

The 'S' word has been finding its way into conversations increasingly of late. First there was the discussion with our daughter regarding the near-future plans she and her family have in place. Listing those leisure activities,  brought the realization of how soon back-to-school time was going to be here. An educator in a Junior Kindergarten classroom, she declared, with no little amount of shock,  that in just a few weeks she would be "back to reality".

Our son, who is currently vacationing at our summer spot, remarked this past weekend that he might not stay in this place of respite for the whole week. A teacher, he noted that it's just about time to start planning for the upcoming term, then commented that his brain might not give him the calm he needs to enjoy too much of a sojourn at this point in the summer.  He knows his obsessive qualities would preclude any ability to relax so assumed he'd probably cut the idyll short in favour of beginning the work he knows is ahead of him.

Social conversations are also moving in the direction of back to school.  At parties and picnics, friends with kids in university and college are talking about tuition and lodging; others with post-secondary students in their family are pondering course selections that will enhance future goals and dreams.

Photo of a young man with a laptop in a library
At Vital Imagery Ltd. we are hearing often  from teachers like my son, who are already in work mode and looking for the right resources for their lesson plans and assignments. The needs vary, but the message remains unchanged.  It's time to get back in the education game,  to ease summer out of play and get down to business.

Obviously, there's still plenty of time left to relax before the real work begins. There are weeks left in which families can sneak away on vacations and focus on nothing more than sand, surf and campfires.  There are oodles of long, lazy days ahead to be whiled away at the beach;  evenings still offer sufficient balminess to inspire outdoor games into the late hours.

However, the signs that youngsters will soon be heading back to academia are there if we care to notice.  Baseball diamonds have quieted with most little league teams all played out. Soccer fields are silent with tournaments over and the season's winners decided.  Even the excited hoots and hollers from energetic youngsters in the swim at area pools have diminished as the heat of summer fades.

Soon, the same boisterous, high-spirited sounds will be coming from school playgrounds during recess and lunch breaks. Hallways will welcome back the sounds  of exuberant youngsters returning from their extended layoff.  Classrooms will again be enlivened by the energy of youths at work and in discussion.  Gymnasiums will fill with shouts and laughter. And teachers and administrators will again be challenged with the responsibility of nurturing supple young minds.

University and college campuses will come to life, too, as adults, young and old,  return for that final lap in their academic ride.

So as we think about saying goodbye to our 'unofficial' summer, and hello to back to school, this collection of pictures from iPHOTOS.com shows eager students of all ages.

iPHOTOS.com Student Photos