Tag Archives for " photography "

Sep 14

Things I Don’t Understand: Hatred of Selfie Sticks

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts



I don’t get why some people are so violently opposed to people taking pictures with selfie-sticks. How is that any more or less offensive than photos taken the normal way…with one of your group always left out of the picture? Perhaps those opposed would rather you bug them to hold the camera and take the shot? Or they like it when a scammer offers to do it and then runs away with the camera? Or…what? Why is it any different than someone taking photos of everything except themselves?

Maybe they’re so angry because they’ve experienced the selfie-stick also being used as a weapon, much like I’ve seen some parents use strollers. I’ve been blocked, run into (always the shin), kicked (hard little kid shoes!), and had entire lanes of traffic backed up for miles by someone using a stroller as an “it’s all about me” card. Yet I haven’t seen the blatant hatred for them. Perhaps it’s because there might be a child in the stroller and it’s hard to hate a child, since obviously they’re captive and have no control of the situation.

Maybe there’s a gang of selfie stick wielding maniacs running rampant through tourist areas, whacking people in the head, shoving them out of the way or even sticking said stick into places it shouldn’t be. There might even be a selfie-stick fetish group. They probably have meetings where they talk about exact ways to, well, use the thing.

I haven’t actually seen anything like that but maybe I don’t hang out in the right areas. I’ve seen plenty of people taking photos, though. It’s never bothered me unless they take so long I can’t get a shot of my own. But usually people are pretty polite about such things.

Why is it suddenly offensive if I’m in the shot too, as opposed to simply taking a quick shot of the scene sans people and shuffling on? As I’m often alone, the only way I’ll ever have proof that I’ve been somewhere is if I use a selfie-stick. Why shouldn’t I do that? Perhaps I don’t matter. Perhaps they’d rather I didn’t exist. That’s the message I get when others post those “look how rude this person is” memes featuring a happy couple smiling before a selfie-stick.

I’m wondering if those so worked up about it are, perhaps, a tiny bit jealous that they don’t own one, too?


Sep 17

The Great Chicken Caper

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts



In the realm of things-that-only-happen-to-me, I present: The Great Chicken Caper

Lately I’ve been trying to cook healthy lunches for hubby to take to work. The meal I’d planned for Friday was a chicken flatbread type of thing. Tasty, with wheat crust. All I had to do was cook the chicken and add some other easy toppings. I should point out that this isn’t the first time I’ve cooked chicken. I love chicken. We have it quite often, and I’ve learned a way to make it come out super juicy and delicious on the stove top, using a pan, a little butter and water, and a lid. So that’s what I set out to do.

I was in the middle of cooking said chicken when the hubby came home, and we started talking. I continued to cook, half looking at him. When I had the chicken browned on both sides, I grabbed a lid and put it on there, then turned my back on it. It should have been fine. It’s supposed to cook for 10 minutes like that. I’ve done it many times before.

What I hadn’t done before was use a lid that didn’t fit the pan.

When I turned back to check on the chicken, the lid had fogged over, so I tried to lift it off to see underneath.

It wouldn’t budge.

As in, not one fraction of a hint of a move. I tried again. Nothing. I peered at the lid, and realized that it had sunk down into the pan a good quarter of an inch, where it used the steam and heat to seal itself so completely that nothing was escaping.

I won’t list the swear words. You can imagine them, I’m sure.

I tried everything. I turned off the heat. I yanked, pulled, tugged, cursed, begged, pleaded. I banged, cajoled, ran it under cold water so I could get my hands on it better, which only seemed to make it worse. I know, cold causes shrinkage. But you try prying a super hot lid off a scalding pan! Finally I set it aside, and gave up. Disgruntled, I left the pan with the now lost chicken on the counter. I’d deal with it in the morning, I figured.

The next day, I ignored it.

And the day after that.

The day after that, hubby mentioned that perhaps I should deal with the pan, one way or another. But this is one of my favorite pans, and throwing it out made me kinda ill. This wasn’t a cheap pan. It’s Avalon. And the lid obviously went to another pan that would need it, someday. I tried to think of different options. Throw the whole thing out? Painful, but a quick ending to the problem. Take a hammer to the lid and try to break it, thereby at least saving the pan? Risky, what with shards of broken glass flying around and all, but possibly better than tossing the whole thing. I love that pan. I wanted to save it. I wanted to save the lid too. Maybe if I heated the whole mess back up, the lid would unseal? Not sure. I missed that part of science class.

Another day went by.

That’s when a certain aroma started to drift from the pan. Strange, since the lid was sealed so tight that you couldn’t stick a sliver of a needle between it and the side of the pan, but the smell managed to make its way out just fine.

Have you ever smelled rotting chicken?

At this point I was too afraid to try to release the seal, because if I could catch a whiff of odor with the lid on, imagine what it’d smell like off! But…it’s my favorite pan.


Finally, I got out the hammer. I put a towel over the lid to catch the broken glass.



It didn’t break. But it felt like something shifted.



Stench wafted up from the pan. I checked under the towel to see if I’d cracked the lid. Nope. The lid on one side had gone even further into the pan, with the opposite side now sticking up over the edge. Excited, I lifted the lid off. Not even a scratch on it. Talk about tough material! I’m guessing it’s probably not glass at all, but some sort of alien material from Septune Minor.

Of course, the excitement at having saved both pan and lid quickly gave way to consternation. The smell. I haven’t encountered a stench like this since…well since the time I left chicken in a freezer and the freezer died, basking the chicken in Texas garage heat for days.

You know, once that smell is in your house…I’m not sure a firehose of bleach can get it out. I’m still trying. Windows wide open, Febreeze sprayed liberally several times a day, baking soda in the garbage disposal. I washed the pan six times so far.

The moral of the story is, don’t put a smaller lid on a pan with steaming things and then turn your back on it.


Aug 25

Going Bananas, or Why You Should Read The Fine Print

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts



I hate grocery shopping. There, I said it. I hate everything about it. It starts with a build up of tense anticipation as I try to figure out what the heck we’re going to eat for the week. I don’t like to cook, for starters, and trying to figure out meals just makes me feel inadequate. I’ve tried all kinds of things to help with this chore but nothing changes it from what it is…a chore.

Then comes the drive to the store, which if done too late in the day results in sitting in traffic with a lot of other people running chores and then fighting over a parking spot with people I swear to you have never driven a car before. They seem baffled by the concept of turn signals, and brakes. I know, everyone is in their head trying to remember what the heck they came to the store to get and oblivious to everything around them. Like the lady who left her cart in the middle of the road because she couldn’t be bothered to finish taking it to the designated holding spot, or even to the curb where so many park their carts.

Once I get into the store it’s like driving in a derby. Carts flying everywhere, people stopping mid-lane to ponder, kids screaming and running up and down the lanes in endless loops. By aisle two I usually run out of patience and decide that we’ll eat cereal for the week, because that’s the aisle I’m on.

So you can imagine when I discovered PeaPod (a service by Giant grocery stores), I was very excited. I can shop for my groceries online? Make a list over the week of things I need and have someone else gather the stuff and put it in bags? Sign me up! All I have to do now is drive over and pick it up. No going inside, no standing in line at the register. The chore now takes 15 minutes instead of two hours or more. Yay!

So there I am, building my list for the week, casually clicking to add things to my virtual shopping cart. Strawberries? Yes please. Hot dogs? Of course. Bananas? Why yes, they go well with peanut butter. We also use bananas in smoothies so I usually get five or six, to make sure I have enough for a few days but not so many they go bad before we eat them. I clicked five into my cart and moved on.

The thing about shopping online is that you get no real idea of sizes. I mean, sure, they list that it’s “24 ounces” or whatever, but if you aren’t looking at a physical bottle you really have any idea how much that is? And there’s often things in fine print that, let’s face it, everyone ignores.

Imagine my surprise when I saw them loading enough bananas for a zoo full of monkeys into my car.

“I didn’t order that.”

“Well, it says here on this list that you did.”

“No, I…”

By now I’m sure you’ve all guessed where it went wrong. For the last two months, I’ve been ordering bananas by the “each”. Five bananas. This time, they’d changed that tiny word to “bunch.” And then whoever loaded the bags obviously couldn’t count, because we are now the proud owners of six bunches of bananas. And bunches, you know, can range anywhere from four bananas to six or eight.

“You got kids?” The clerk grinned at me.

I shook my head numbly. It’s just the two of us. We can’t eat that many bananas. But I’d ordered them, and paid for them, so I took them away with me. It was a great sale, by the way. The entire load of bananas cost me $7. Not bad. I wonder if people will think I’m crazy if I start handing out bananas in the square?

Peapod is a wonderful thing. You should try it. You should also really, really pay attention to the tiny letters next to the price. Unless you just love bananas. In which case, come on over. I have plenty.

Aug 11

Gathering Storm

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts



Last week I spent an exciting two days in Newport News, VA at a photo shoot.  I went to get shots for a book cover I’m designing (no, not mine), but while I was there I hoped to get shots that I could use for artwork in a scheme I’m cooking up involving scenes from the Xannon series and a calendar. I’ve been trying for quite awhile to create art that reflected the vision in my head, but so far haven’t really succeeded. It’s definitely a work in progress.

While I was there, the lovely lady who modeled for me agreed to extra shots just for me to use as art. And of course, I also managed to capture the scene around me. I giggled with delight over the weather. Nature was on my side and gave me a fantastic sky to use as a backdrop. Seriously couldn’t have asked for anything better, and I can’t wait to play with all the images I captured that day. This one is just a tiny taste. If you’re signed up for the newsletter, you’ll see the first of many I’ve created from this trip, featuring that gorgeous sky. Sign up now, because those images won’t appear on the blog. They’re only available to subscribers.

And maybe one day a calendar. Who knows.



Mar 05

Windows To Imagination

By Melinda VanLone | Imagination



Guess what day it is! Guess What. Day. It. is!

I bet you’re all hearing that commercial in your head right now. You’re welcome.

It’s the middle of the work week! Bet you thought I was going to say something else. Maybe Lasagna Day or Pancake Day…wait, that was yesterday. Anyway, today I’m starting something new. I’ve been thinking about this website and the direction it should take, and  I thought that what I really want to do besides share my stories with the world is share a little bit of visual story to go with them. So I’ll be doing an experiment. Usually my photography reflects truth as I see it around me, wherever I happen to be. But as with my writing, truth can be a little dull and ordinary. I’d like to sprinkle a little magic into it.

And these days there’s really nothing to stop any of us from throwing a little magic into the mix to create a window to the imagination that lets our inner child come out to play. Sometimes all it takes to spark that imagination is a picture that  takes us to another world if only for a minute. That’s what I hope to bring to you. On Wednesdays. Because, you know…it’s Wednesday!

As you look at the image, I hope you let your imagination roam. Go on, try it. Take a good look at the photo. Tell me, what’s the story?



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