No Snow Expected this Winter

Suffering from the heat? Search your archives for some cool shots of winter for today’s Sunday Stills challenge.

#SundayStills, #winter

No Snow

Foggy skies

For days

#Haiku by Marsha Ingrao

On a winter day in Central California, it rains one day and fog rolls in for the next three or four days. The temperatures rarely fall below freezing within Woodlake’s magic circle of foothills. When they slip too low, wind machines roar all night beating the polar air to save the orange crops.

An early December morning on the way into Woodlake for a Kiwanis meeting.

Sometimes you have to pull over and snap pictures of our beautiful foothills. Winter is the best time to photograph them because the air is clean of dust.

Netted peach trees

This scene arrested me and I pulled my car over and captured the clouds and the netted trees in January. You can’t see the foothills past the netting and the clouds.

rows and rows of netted trees

The Kaweah Delta Valley was home to hundreds, probably thousands, of oak trees when the settlers came in 1852. In the winter for a couple of months the oaks are bare and eerie. Mistletoe grows unencumbered by any grooming efforts. Most of the trees have been left to their own devices since the Yokuts Indians quit harvesting acorns in the 1800s.

By February, the still bare oak stands alone in the field but without the stormy sky and with the grass starting to green up, it bears the hope of new life and another year.

Valley Oak stands guard over grassy field where happy cows live.
Our foothills and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains.

I hope you enjoyed the winter life in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

For more #Sunday Stills visit Cathy Ryan, Picture This, standing in for Terri Webster Schrandt.

If you host a photo or writing challenge, and would like an interview on Always Write, please contact me. I look forward to your comments. 🙂

#Cee’s B & W Challenge: Feet

Would you want to walk in their shoes? Check out these feet.

#Cee’s Black and White Challenge

Two feet

Six feet, stand off

Claw feet, web feet, spikey

Toes, my feet, your feet, stand alone

As friends

Cinquain – Marsha Ingrao

Gatorland 101 Watch Your Feet

I learned in one of my photography classes that amateur photographers have a tendency to cut off feet when they take pictures. Oops. Now I am more aware of feet, but I still do it. Thanks for the reminder, Cee.

Here are some photos I took in Gatorland when my neighbors and I went two years ago.

“If you so much as open your mouth while I’m talking to you, I’ll claw you right off this ramp.”

I don’t think I’d be talking such brave talk if I was standing on the ramp with a gator. Birds feel safer than we do here because alligators are their friends and protectors. Their friends keep out raccoons, snakes and other predators that might otherwise devour the eggs and chicks. 

“Hey, my feet do not stink! You’re feet stink.”

What in the world are they all trying to find? Bird stew isn’t on the menu.

“A little to the left and down a bit. Ah, that feels great. I could just take a nap.”

This alligator is getting a very expensive massage. We were all invited to come down and give it a try if we wanted to. The four of us decided against it.

More Information on Gatorland

14501 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32837

Hope you enjoyed my Gator Tale. For more black and white feet check out Cee’s photo challenge for this week. Get ready for horns next week.

Related Posts

If you know someone who hosts a writing or photo challenge, please contact me. I am compiling a list of challenges. I don’t want to leave people out. If you want to host a challenge, read some of the interviews of hosts who do and what they do to be successful.

Have a great week!

Everyday bits and bridles.

This is a reblogged post, for those of you new to blogging. That means I didn’t write it, but I loved it enough to share it on my blog. Anne’s Lens-Artist Challenge post on everyday things this week inspired me. I live in cowboy country, but don’t ride, so this post about the equipment she uses every day is one that I want to remember. The photography is fabulous, too. Amazing post. See if you think so, too. 🙂


This week the Lens Artists photo challenge comes to us from Patti and she has asked us to feature Everyday Objects. So here are some things that are everyday objects for me and my horse Biasini. First of all here is a photo of Biasini in his double bridle, so called because it has two bits, a snaffle and a curb, and two reins.

I will now give you some photos of parts of that bridle. Here is the browband. I chose the crystals to go with Biasini’s coloring.

Here is a photo of three curb bits. The one Biasini uses is currently on his bridle so it is not in this photo. But it is most similar to the one on the left in the photo. I have kept all the bits I have used over the years, both curbs and snaffles, because I never know when I might…

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#Cinquain Poetry: Reach Your Destination with Maps

Map out your thoughts about maps, or borrow mine then write a cinquain with me. See where your mind travels.

#OneWordChallenge – nothing

Examining the Topic

We take maps for granted – shame on us. Many of us barely remember how to read a map. We follow along with our car on the dashboard which is always going straight up, no matter what the direction. We check out a location on the map by spinning our cursor so that we can go on a virtual tour which includes street names imprinted on the roads.

Wiki how

Writing the Poem

Who knew there were so many styles of syllabic Japanese poetry? Even though I gave a cursory nod to cinquain and haiku poetry when I taught fourth grade, all I remember is that haikus had something to do with nature.

There’s more to it. Some forms work well with emotions, some with nature. I can’t keep them all straight in my mind.

When I saw Tuesday’s prompt of “Maps,” I panicked. Definitely no emotions in a map for me unless I’m lost. Then I’m angry. There’s no way I can go down that road, Siri. It’s one way and cars are coming! Quick pull into a parking lot! (That happened to me at night in South Bend, Indiana, where I’d never been, late at night – like around 8:00 pm, with my frantic brother in the passenger seat.)

They are not an act of nature, although hurricane and other weather maps chart acts of nature. Firemaps pinpoint the fires.


Colleen gave me some guidance, so I’m sharing it with you, for those of you who are new aficionados like I am.

Marsha, I would begin with a form that appeals to you the most. The cinquain would be a good one to start with. The rules are more forgiving than the Japanese forms. Work with this form for a couple of weeks. Make the last line of your cinquain the most important. This is where you change your focus away from the drama of the first four lines. That last line should be a surprise. To begin, try making a list of the things that the word “maps” make you think of. You know, like traveling, unknown journeys, etc. Then, work with your syllables on, click the workshop tab. The program counts the syllables for you. (I use my fingers, but we won’t go there.) Let me know how you are getting along. ❤

Colleen Chesebro


Eighteen- O – Four

Hand drawn map, squiggly lines

Imagine Lewis and Clark with


Dirt trails

End at raging river, no bridge 

Cliff ahead, make U-turn

Imagine It


Cinquain & Reverse Cinquain = a Mirror Cinquain

Lewis and Clark

Marsha’s Map Brainstorm

Maps – brainstorm – writing – outline, road maps, floor plans, old maps, land ownership, businesses, topography, squiggly lines, drawing, hand-drawn, satellite, car zooming down road taking pictures, war map, Google, Bing, 3 D, MapQuest, cartography, charting location, live traffic, dynamic imagery, arrival time,

Colleen’s Cinquain Cheat Sheet

CINQUAIN: A cinquain is a form of shape poetry that looks great centered on the page. The required syllables needed for each line give it a unique shape. The cinquain (aka the quintain or the quintet) is a poem or stanza of five lines.

The Crapsey cinquain is a five-line, non-rhyming poem featuring a syllable structure of 2/4/6/8/2. Choose words that create drama which builds into the fourth line. Remember the turn occurs on line five, the most important line. This is where you change your focus away from the drama in some interesting way. Surprise your readers!

The Crapsey cinquain has seen several variations by modern poets, including:

Reverse cinquaina form with one 5-line stanza in a syllabic pattern of two, eight, six, four, two.
Mirror cinquaina form with two 5-line stanzas consisting of a cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain.
Butterfly cinquaina nine-line syllabic form with the pattern two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two.
Crown cinquaina sequence of five cinquain stanzas functioning to construct one larger poem.
Garland cinquaina series of six cinquains in which the last is formed of lines from the preceding five, typically line one from stanza one, line two from stanza two, and so on.

Related Posts

Contact Me

If you know of someone who hosts a writing or photo challenge and would like to participate in my interview series on challenge hosts, feel free to email me at

Why Cee Neuner Has Successfully Hosted Photo Challenges for Twelve Years

Selfless, encouraging, not afraid to try new things, Are those qualities you want in your life? See how Cee Neuner has developed those qualities in her photo challenges.

Always Write Interview Series #8

#Bloggers Hosting Writing and Photo Challenges

Hi friends, I’m Marsha Ingrao, editor of my hobby blog, Always Write, a blog to serve like-minded bloggers and participate in my  hobby of blogging.

My guest this week doesn’t need an introduction if you’ve been following photo challenges for a while or are one of the 1,500,000 views she’s had on her blog. Like many of those who have been interviewed, I cut my blogging teeth on WordPress Daily Photo Challenge and Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge and Odd Ball Challenge. I miss that one since many of my photos are odd balls.

Since she’s from Oregon, where I went to high school, college, started working and got married, I’ve always felt a special bond knowing some of the places she goes to photograph.

Cees Fun Foto Challenge – ships

What prompted you to begin to host a writing/photo challenge?

I started hosting photography challenges on a website that was basically for photographers, before I started my blog.  So when I started my own blog and saw that individuals could host a challenge on WordPress, I started my Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. I just like to encourage people to take photos and have a lot fun with photography.  That’s how I came up with the name.

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it help photographers?

I host for a couple of reasons.  I find challenges gives me an incentive to go out and take photographs year around.  I like finding photos that fit different topics.  It has really expanded the range of photos that interest me.  I started out basically taking flower photos, now I shoot all sorts of things.

On the Hunt for Joy Challenge – Brighten up dull chores.

The other reason is that I want to encourage people to take more photos.  We develop our eye for photography the more we take photos.   

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says it takes 10,000 hours of working in a craft or profession to become an expert in it.  I’ve seen many bloggers turn into outstanding photographers over the years, because they keep practicing their passion for photography. To me, witnessing this new passion in someone else is pure joy. 

One of the very first challenges I took part in called for pictures of purple cars.  I had never shot cars before, and I live in a small town so the odds of seeing a purple car weren’t good.  I kept my eyes open, though, and actually found a couple of cars to shoot.  It was so much fun that I’ve continued to shoot cars, motorcycles, planes, trains… topics way beyond the flowers I was used to.  It opened up my world.  And the adventure continues to this day.

Fun Foto Challenge – orange car

By the way, shooting automobiles is fun and challenging, especially show cars.  They are always polished to a high shine and the reflection takes some working around.  It can be hard to keep your reflection out of the photo, or fun to include sometimes.  Cars have angles that are unusual and you have to move around them to get a good shot.  I love to go to car shows.  The people are always friendly, the photography is great fun to do and you can learn a lot about composition, lighting, reflection, and staging.

How long have you been doing this?

Hosting challenges?  About 12 years or more.

How much time does it take? 

Hosting challenges does take time.  More time than I care to think about.  I really don’t count the hours, because I do it for fun.  In 2008, I had to quit work due to illness and I’ve not worked since.  I had just gotten into taking photography rather seriously, since I bought a pre-DSLR camera.  It was as close to a “fancy camera with lenses” without having to change lenses.  I felt like a grown up taking photos, and some of the photos I took with that Sony camera are still some of my favorites. I now have a full frame mirrorless Sony A7III camera with multiple lenses.

Anyhow, back to the question.  My blogging takes up about 3-5 hours a day.  Some of that time is hosting my challenges and the other times I’m finding challenges that I can participate in and share my photography.

What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

I keep lists of topics I’ve used over the years so I don’t repeat them too often.  I keep up my challenge pages weekly.  I really don’t plan ahead of time what photos I will use for my challenges.  I wait until the morning of my challenge and put my post together.  I’m not a writer, so finding photos and writing a short description is all I need.  

On the Hunt for Joy Challenge – Go “eye bombing.”

I try to find a variety of photos that match the challenge theme, and hopefully give ideas for those who get stuck with a topic.  I like to encourage people to “think outside the box”, and to look at things with new eyes.  I’ve seen other challenge hosts over the years make their topics too narrow, too specific.  I feel it eliminates possible participants right away.  For me, the fun of being part of a photographic community is sharing, learning, stretching what we do.  It’s a craft, and the more we practice it, the most interesting our photographs become.  You start really seeing the world with new eyes.  

How do you follow up with your participants?

I actually try to go out and comment on each blogger’s post to my challenge. I want them to know that I took the time to visit their blogs and actually look at their work.  I know I probably miss some people, just because of the high volume of responses to my challenges, but I try to touch everyone.  I follow a lot of bloggers and rely on my email so I can catch most of their entries.  I also go through the pingbacks on my blog daily and try and catch them that way as well.

How did you attract people to participate? How do people usually find out about your challenge? Are you a part of a group on social media that picks up your challenge and promotes it?

Fortunately I’m pretty popular on WordPress, so people tend to find me easily.  I really don’t know how they find out about my challenges.  I think it is because I run some popular challenges and new people find links to my blog that way.

Years ago WordPress ran a weekly photo challenge.  I participated in that challenge all time.  When I first started blogging, I would go through all the pingbacks and hit like on every single entry and oftentimes would comment.  I actually still do that from time to time on other people’s challenges.  It is a way of getting to know new people and photographers.

Is your challenge like a club where you put a widget on your website or embed something on your post?

Flower of the Day Challenge

I do have banners for all my challenges. If bloggers want to add them to their entry or for blog side bars, they are free to do so.  I encourage them to add my challenge name in their tags.  None of this is necessary, though, to participate in my challenges.

On the Hunt for Joy Challenge

Do you determine winners? If so, how?  What do you do with the entries?  – I’m thinking of what Cee does with her awards. (LOL – You  are my frame of reference!)

I don’t determine a winner.  Photography is an art that speaks to the heart and eyes.  A photo I really like because it touches my soul might not speak the same way to someone else.

I have just recently started featuring bloggers each week on my Fun Foto and Black and White challenges. [I did this way back when I started my challenges.] By featuring them, I’m giving them more exposure to a wider audience.  I really try to feature bloggers who are new to my challenges or new to blogging.  I also like to acknowledge bloggers who have joined in playing with me for years.  I have even created a banner that say “featured blogger” on them.  

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge – heads and facial features

I keep a detailed list of who I recently have featured, so people are not featured too often.  I pick six bloggers out of each challenge, so there are people who do get featured more often, just because they play weekly.

My hope for this is that people start talking to other photographers and help grow their own communities.  I know when I get a conversation going with a blogger, I tend to feel closer and more connected to them.  

What about a Facebook Group or Page, or a group in other social media? 

I really don’t use Facebook at all.

Do you post or promote the results or links anywhere?  Nope.  I have a FB page and Pinterest page, but I use them strictly to show flowers and my Pick Me up posters.  Most people don’t even know I exist other than my blog.

Flower of the Day

Cee’s Personal Story

I did not ask Cee to share her personal story, but she has done so on her blog in a couple of places. Her story adds another layer of admiration to what she does for the Photo Challenge world.

“On March 23, 2001, my life changed forever. It was the beginning of the nightmare of Lyme Disease. What we thought was stomach flu turned into a 40 day coma and brought me to the brink of death.


At first we didn’t think anything of it. I thought I had the same stomach flu that had been going around my office at work. But then I started having difficulty breathing, so Chris knew that it wasn’t stomach flu and called the paramedics. Before we could reach the hospital, they had to pull the ambulance over so that they could intubate me. I had lost the ability to breathe on my own. As my lungs failed, that started a whole cascade of failures.

Upon entering the hospital, my blood sugar was 1,400. Normal is 100 and death usually occurs around 1,000. When the paramedics came, I was still walking and talking. I had no history of diabetes before this. We didn’t know it at the time, but my pancreas had already shut down. My body had become acidotic, and was dissolving itself. I was bleeding internally. My kidneys also failed, so my body lost its ability to filter out toxins. The doctors didn’t think I’d live through the night…” Read the rest on her About Page.

Cee’s Challenge Home Pages:

On the Hunt for Joy –

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge –

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge –

Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge –

Cee’s Purple Car Collage 

Fun Foto Challenge – purple car challenge

Thank you for joining me here at Always Write to learn more about Cee Neuner and her many splendored challenges. I’ve been honored to have her as my guest today and I look forward to participating in more of her challenges in the future. Please join in.

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