Stately

Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Back Yard Visitors

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


This morning Arya ran to the patio door and got into "hunting" position. I figured it was a bird or a squirrel, but we had three opossums hanging around.

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They were just hanging around, nomming the flowers. Arya was fascinated. I shot these through the glass door with my long lens. I didn't dare open the door for better shots. Paul shot some video, which will probably end up on Facebook.



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3/22/2021 10:46:58 AM
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Shooting (Pictures) In The Back Yard

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Things are starting to green up a bit here in North Texas. Most of my readers (maybe both of you!) know about the winter weather we had last month. We probably got close to a foot of snow, and the power was mostly out for a couple of days. I'm still not sure if all of the plants that were overwintering in the garage survived, but everything is out on the patio, and some plant life is emerging in the yard. Seemed a good opportunity to take some pictures. So let's see what I got!

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All of the 'nip died, so I replaced it last week. 

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A succulent on the patio.

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Lichen, and one sign of a tree bud.

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From the wax leaf in the front of the house. You can see some of the damage the leaves took during the storm.

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Dandelion, with bee.

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Dandelion, without bee. All gone to seed. A bit of a metaphor for my life, methinks.

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A wild herby/weedy thing in the back yard.

So there ya go! It felt good to get outdoors and shoot some pictures. I must do it again sometime!


Filed under: Pictures            
3/10/2021 4:05:23 PM
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The Big(ish) Year-End Wrap-Up

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Well, 2020 was a year. I'll grand you that.

It started great, at least for us, when we took a cruise in January to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. That was our first cruise, too, so it made for a fun week. (A recap and lots of pictures are here for the clicking.)

I got to attend one small convention in February. FrogCon was held at the TCU library. It was a one-day event, but a lot of fun. The staff were enthusiastic and at the time, they wanted to do it again. I hope they can at some point.

Because it all fell apart in March. I predicted early on that the mortality rate of the virus would drop as we got more testing kits out. I'm so sorry to say that was wrong. It still seems to be at around 1% for where I live, but some areas are far worse than others. Some are better. Nationwide, the response has been a disaster. 

I'm fortunate that I can work from home, but the convention business dried up a lot of income, not only for me, but for many of my friends and colleagues. I was able to pivot to making masks, which means I was able to salvage the year financially. It's not going to be much of a profit. Edmund Blackadder's mustache shop did better. But hey, at least I didn't get visited by Robbie Coltrane to show me how horrible my ancestors were. (And no, I don't think they were horrible.)

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But hey, nothing but the best in this house!

If you've come expecting a giant brag about how I did all the baking, redecorated the house, etc., you can go away. 

2020 was both a horrid dumpster fire and a small opportunity for reflection and renewal. I had the opportunity to do things without constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for the next person to drop a festering hot project in my lap. (And yes, that choice of words was deliberate.) You see, because I have a more flexible schedule, everyone thinks I can take up the slack for them or drop everything to help out or whatever. Hey, I like to help out, but there comes a point where I'm spending so much time on everyone else's stuff that there is no time for me to get anything done.

If anything positive came out of 2020, it was that I was able to accomplish a few projects that had been simmering more urgently on the back burner. I finally got most of the craft room mess tamed! Since I wasn't able to attend conventions, I started a YouTube channel. That's been a major learning experience, and one plan for 2021 is to improve upon that. I've also been able to make some more plans to help carry the business through the pandemic, and I look forward to starting on that.

The novel is still going in fits and starts, but I had a breakthrough yesterday. I'm really slow at this, I will admit. However, there's a good feeling when I figure out why I can't move forward and how to fix what isn't working. I have this funny feeling that I may stumble for quite some time yet, but then the damn will break. And that's okay. I'm not putting a lot of pressure on myself to make a deadline. 

2021 needs to be the year I learn to say NO. It's hard to do. I grew up the oldest kid, the daughter of the Girl Scout leader. When someone else fell down on the job, I generally got "voluntold" to finish it. I was the one who dug the latrines, set the fires (for cooking! In the fire circle!), washed the communal dishes, and so on, all because it had to be done. Because somehow, I managed to get the blame if it didn't happen. And taking the blame has become my superpower! So yes, this is rooted very deep in my life and it is very difficult for me to make this change. So it's not a resolution, because I refuse to set myself up to fail. Change doesn't come overnight, unless your name is Ebenezer Scrooge. Or Ebenezer Blackadder.

And hey, that about brings all this full circle. 

Thank you to everyone who supported me this year, either by buying masks or just being there for me. You all made a difference. Drink's on me. Yes, I spilled it all over the place. But hey, you probably didn't want any Nurse McCready's Surgical Bruise Lotion anyway.

See you all next  year!

Filed under: Life            
12/30/2020 2:44:42 PM
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Meowy Catmas!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


It's that time of year again! Here's the 2020 Catmas card!

The Catmas card tradition started in 200-. Holy Bast! We've been doing this for twenty years!


Filed under: Cats   Catmas         
12/8/2020 5:51:24 PM
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On The Patio

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Boy, is it ever humid outside! I shot a bunch of photos, and here are some of the best:

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A just-emerging bloom on an Oncidium orchid.

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A Phalaenopsis orchid. (The orchids live in the bathroom window, but I brought them outside for the shoot.)

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This is a keiki on the phal. If I can manage to take care of it properly, I will be able to eventually separate it from the mother plant and have another orchid.

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The bird bath fountain. I managed to mostly stop the motion on this one.

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The fountain going at full blast. I have to admit it looked much better in the viewfinder.

I got some decent shots today, but am glad to be back indoors.

Filed under: Pictures            
9/6/2020 11:02:17 AM
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Writing Progress

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Yes, I'm still working on the novel, but it's slow. One of my biggest problems was getting my main character into an investigation. It was reading like a bad Mary Sue. You know the type: She shows up, bats her long, luscious lashes (all the better to show off her unique shade of violet eyes) at the man in charge, and she's instantly put in command. 

To be honest, it wasn't that bad, but without going into details, there was a distinct lack of motivation, or solid reasoning behind the actions my characters were taking. This makes for a horrible story. 

The epiphany came as I was brushing my teeth. Not that oral hygiene had anything to do with it, but my brain was definitely drifting while polishing each tooth. "Epiphany" may be too strong a word, for this problem has been percolating in my brain for a long time. 

My background in writing is more in journalism and short stories, and there's a major difference in plotting between short stories and novels, and I'm probably preaching to the choir on that one. I've had serious trouble wrapping my head around a novel-length work, and progress has come in fits and starts. But progress it is, and I'll take it! 

The old dog is learning some new tricks.

Oh, wait! The cats inform me that I shall not speak (or type) of the d-word, and if I had only listened to Daenerys' plaintive meows yesterday, it would have been clear that she wasn't begging for treats, but informing me exactly what I needed to know to break through this barrier. Okay, it was interspersed with cries for treats, but is it her fault that it took twelve hours for it to sink into my brain? Of course, it's also clear know that Arya wasn't begging for skrtiches this morning, and that the head bonks were her way of telepathically ramming the idea home in my brain.

But of course! 

The cats have presented me with a deal. They'll help me with the book, but there must be a large container of treats on signing, and then treat royalties on sales. The large container is not an advance on royalties, but single up-front payment to cover past assistance. Arya will scratch my hand so I can sign in blood.

They drive a hard bargain. I wonder if Petco is open?

(Comments are still closed for technical reasons. You may comment on the Facebook post, though.)

Filed under: Writing   Cats   Humor      
7/22/2020 9:48:56 AM
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Photos On A Humid Day

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


I think it may feel more humid outside than it really is. There's an air quality alert and the cottonwood is still flying, so I decided to wear a mask to protect my asthmatic lungs.

Anyway, I got a couple of good shots. The first is a single wed wose. How womantic.

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This is a macro shot of a leaf in a DIY bird bath. The bath hasn't attracted any birds, but it has attracted bugs. I found some larvae in it the other day. I have a fountain "thing" on the way to see if I can get the water moving. I'll let y'all know how it works.

I did like how this one turned out!

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Thank you for visiting!

Filed under: Photography            
6/7/2020 10:48:33 AM
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I Made A Thing

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett



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5/27/2020 4:21:45 PM
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Morning Photography

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


So, here we are on lockdown day eleventy 47ish.

I'm getting good use out of my macro attachment. I should pull out my tripod, but it's so windy I don't think it's going to help a lot.

Anyway, here's a set of pictures.

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This is the same jalapeno blossom I posted the other day. Nope, it didn't last very long, but that's okay, because that green stuff you see inside is the beginnings of a pepper. There are two peppers in progress on the plant, and I hope both of them grow to maturity.

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And eeek! Another spider! I'm pretty sure this is another benign banana spider, but this one has set up shop on a web between a succulent plant on the patio table and a nearby chair.


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Also, just in the last day or two, the succulent has sprouted a bloom! I'll keep an eye on it and post pictures. Some blooms last longer than others, so we'll see what we get on this one.

Okay, that's all for today. If you like what you see here on the journal I would really appreciate your support. Please consider buying me a cup of coffee.

Filed under: Pictures            
5/13/2020 11:08:31 AM
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The Last of the Stereograms

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


The last of the sterograms, with various views and humorous photos, like this view of what some thought would happen if women got the vote.


Filed under: Nostalgia            
5/12/2020 12:52:06 PM
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