Friday, June 24, 2011

America The Beautiful



America The Beautiful

I pulled this video from the vault and revamped it a bit. It originally was used as the credits for a much longer video. However, I felt that not enough people got to hear the wonderful harmonies of the United States Air Force choir. The photos were all licensed Creative Commons from various locations.

Enjoy!

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Steve's Digicams Article - Flash Photography (or NOT)

My Steve's Digicams article for June 2011 is now online. In this article I explore the reasons FOR and AGAINST using the flash, also the proper usage of the flash for optimal results. If you've read my columns in the past, then you can rest at ease that this is NOT a technical tutorial on lighting distances and expensive flash methods. Instead, I give simple ideas that just might have you less afraid to utilize your flash again.

Flash Photograph (or NOT)

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Rewards of Gardening

Sometimes gardening brings great rewards. Oh, it's a lot of work. In the summer months, if we do not have regular rainfall, time is required for watering. Even drought-tolerate plants occasionally need water. In the winter, surprising to many, our yard can get really cold. One winter the temperature fell to 16 degrees (Fahrenheit). At those times, cold-sensitive plants must be shielded or moved. My husband and I have walked great distances toting potted plants in and out of our garden shed, and I have done load after load of laundry, washing blankets covered in dirt, leaves, and mulch.

Threadwaisted Wasp
Threadwaisted Wasp

It can become frustrating. No one wants to work outdoors when the temperatures are 97 degrees (F). My husband has carried many a heavy bucket of water into the field. There is also the weeding and trimming to do. But generally speaking, I like gardening. I love planting seeds, just to see if they come up. I find digging in the dirt a therapy; it is peaceful. I don't mind the annual fall clean-up, where dead plants are removed and the beds are returned to a more structured shape. Yes, gardening is work.

Horace's Duskywing Skipper Butterfly
Horace's Duskywing Butterfly

But gardening in the end is about the reward. It is sharing the beauty we have grown there with others. It is reaping the vegetables that we've sown. It is sitting with friends to watch the butterflies. Yet the greatest reward is all the smaller bounties that come from the garden. So much LIFE is found there. It's all the bees (who knew there were so many species?), wasps of many shapes and sizes, multiple colorful butterflies, even the crickets and grasshoppers, that I am fond of the most.

Bee on Zinnia
Bee on Zinnia

And, most especially, it is the hummingbirds! All our time and efforts come to complete fruition in the early mornings and late evenings as our two (male and female) feathered friends buzz past us, moving from flower to flower. It is then we hold our breath, willing them to stay as long as possible, that our all efforts become worth it.

Female Ruby-throat Hummingbird
Female Ruby-throat Hummingbird


If you'd like to see more of this year's garden, visit my Webshots.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Secret Holocaust

"The Secret Holocaust Diaries"
by Nonna Bannister, Denise George, and Carolyn Tomlin

The Secret Holocaust

I read a lot of books, and I do not feel obligated to comment on all of them. However, now and again one crosses my desk that moves me more than the others. These are the books I learn something from. I come away afterward knowing more and thinking a lot more about myself. This book, the published diaries of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, is one such book.

Any account of the Holocaust should move you. It was a horrible, dark time in the world's history, and one that it is virtually impossible to wrap one's mind around. Like all school children, I was taught about the events that surrounded it, how it affected the world, and the genocide of the Jewish people. Yet in reading Nonna Bannister's personal account, I learned so much that I still did not know.

Nonna Bannister was born Nonna Lisowskaja in the Ukraine. She grew up as Josef Stalin was taking power and communism began to come into effect. I admit, past a very basic knowledge, I was ignorant of the more personal effect of this time in history. It's easy to read a general historical account where death figures are given and its another thing entirely to read it in the words of someone who was there. And yet, this someone was at that time a child. Her child's eye view made it all that much more poignant.

When World War II broke out and Germany swept into Russia, Nonna's family found themselves thrust into the midst of it. Here again, was something I had heard of - how Germany broke the non-aggression pact between these two countries, only to find themselves frozen, starving, and unable to accomplish their task. But put it on a personal level, in the words of one family whose love for each other cannot stop the greed of man, and it is horrifying.

The story descends from her happiest of childhood memories to a scene where her elder brother is gone, sent away to prevent his being placed into the communist army. Her father, found hiding in a basement, has been beaten, his eyes carved out, and her mother is left scrounging amongst the emptied homes of people who have fled the country, to find a place for them to live, food for them to eat, and firewood to warm them in what was the coldest Russian winter. Eventually, there is nothing left. Their relatives are killed when Soviet trains are bombed, and Nonna watches her father die, sees a German soldier plunge his knife into him just to prove he is dead. All I could think was, "These people were not Jewish." I had never considered how high was the cost to other races of people, like the Soviets.

Nonna and her mother, in the belief that it would be better for them, voluntarily left their homeland and to live in work camps in Germany at places like Flossenberg. (I had never heard of Flossenberg before reading this book. It is well worth your time looking it up.) Here they are eventually separated and just weeks before the liberation of Germany, her mother is killed following an illness brought on when her arms and fingers were broken in a fit of Nazi rage. When the war ends, Nonna alone was left of her family. Yet the truth is that she was not alone because this happened to so many others.

Nonna Bannister hid her diary and her photographs throughout the war, and even after the war, after she married in 1951, she never told her story to anyone not even her spouse. This book is the result of her own translations of her diaries. (It includes the authors' additional historical notes.) Following her death, the original pages of her diary were never found. Her family supposes they were somehow buried with her.

I encourage you to read this book, but not for entertainment, nor because it is a literary-genius work. No, read it so you will learn something, so you will be grateful for what you have and to help you remember what others have given up.

There are a selection of Nonna Bannister's images online, which can be viewed at this link.


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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blackeyed Susans

A year ago, I planted from a seed packet a few Blackeyed Susans. Eventually, I had this small patch of them in my garden to admire for the season. The season ended and I did my usual garden clean-up, removing dead and decayed plants, but careful to toss any dried seed heads back onto the soil.

As a gardener, you never know from year to year what will sprout. Some years there is a lot of one particular plant and others very little of it. I like the constant surprise, the never knowing. Well, this year I am inundated with Blackeyed Susans. From that one tiny circle of blossoms, I have an entire flower garden full of their happy, yellow faces. They have sprouted all across the bed, in multiple locations.

They are the cheeriest of flowers. I simply cannot photograph them enough, so here is my view of their beauty for you to behold.

Black-eyed Susans and Coneflowers

Blackeyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans

Blackeyed Susans

Blackeyed Susan and Mint

Blackeyed Susan

Here is a video.


For more Views from My Garden, visit my Webshots.

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Champion

And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:13-15 RSV)

There is a song called "The Champion," released in 1985 and sung by popular entertainer, Carmen, which tells the story of Jesus' victory over the devil from the perspective of a prize fight. I can remember seeing him perform it in person at a local church-sponsored concert. It's a fantastic journey into the art of storytelling. Yet there is truth to the thought behind the song.

If you define the word "champion," one source states, "Someone who has been a winner in a contest," or, "Someone who is chosen to represent a group of people in a contest." Another gives it as, "a person who has defeated all others in a competition," and then as a verb, "to support; defend." This same source has a definition I particularly like, "A warrior or knight who did battle for another, esp a king or queen, to defend their rights or honour." The word itself comes from a Latin root meaning, "battlefield."

Now, all that is fascinating and a lot of food for thought, but I want to extend the analogy even further and take you more into the mind of the King James Bible translators. In the Medieval world, a champion was one hired to do combat for the rights of another. There were champions dating back to Roman times, but the typical romantic ideal comes from the time of William the Conqueror. It was what we'd today call "a duel." One party would fight another until either one was killed or he called out, "Craven," which in effect was, "I give up."

The battle could be because of any number of things, land disputes, a crime, etc., and was recognized as legal. You could choose either a trial by jury or a "trial by combat." Following the battle, the defeated foe was "declared infamous, deprived of the privileges of a freeman, and [made] liable for damages to his successful opponent." In extreme cases, the loser was sometimes hung, given he had survived.

This brings me back to the opening verses from Colossians 2. There is more to Jesus' resurrection than just an empty tomb. Jesus defeated the devil and all that the devil stands for. He became for us our champion. He legally settled any claim the devil had over us. In the King James Bible, it says He "spoiled principalities and powers." (v15) This thought is again a bit archaic in our modern thinking, but essentially it means they were made useless. (e-sword.net)

Useless means "not serving any purpose." Think about that! Poverty is useless. Sickness is useless. Fear is useless. Anything the devil has tried to "put on" you is useless, it serves no purpose for you, for Satan has been completely defeated. What? Did you think Jesus did a half-way job? No! He "triumphed" over Satan...OPENLY. He didn't hide what He'd done. In fact, he displayed it. He made of Satan a "public example," saying, "Look here at what is useless, at what is futile!"

Now, I know that the world is full of sorrow and many troubles; death surrounds us every day. But we are to be like the man of Psalm 91:7-8, sitting in heavenly places, made inaccessible (AMP) to what the devil desires to do in our lives. We shouldn't roll over and accept things! No, Satan is defeated! As all the world falls around us, God has sent us a champion, Jesus, who defended our honor and restored to us the rightful place in His kingdom. It's legal, and it's yours!

"But," you say, "How do I get there? How do I come to this place of peace and joy, safety and happiness, victory, and deliverance?" Through determination. Through prayer. Through daily meditation in the Scriptures. Through faith in what Jesus has done for you. Through confession of God's promises.

Stand up today with the redeemed and "say so!" Victory is found in praise and worship. Joy is found in your rejoicing!

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy. (Psalm 107:2)

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Suzanne
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.