Welcome Home

I love to wander neighborhoods, photographing an interesting chair on a front porch, a bunch of flowers on textured steps, or a colorful front door. You get a glimpse of the personalities that live inside in those welcoming spaces.

But my porch? Not so interesting. I mean, I know what goes on inside the house, so there is no mystery there. The architecture is nothing exciting, being a mid-90’s vintage. Sure, there is often a flower or two planted, but it wouldn’t catch a photographer’s eye. 

Until last weekend, when I walked out my front door, leaving it open for my husband to follow, then looked back. Oh my goodness, there was a photograph there! 

What suddenly made it special? It’s the combination of our flowers and plants, partially there by planning and partially there to protect them from being eaten by a certain orange cat in our family. It’s the freshly painted red door, and the harmonious scene inside. It’s the texture of the wet concrete steps, the spots of color in the flowers, and the scattered leaves on the door mat. It’s lived in and loved and wholly ours. Wait long enough, and you will see my husband or son coming out the door. Maybe a cat tentatively peeking around the corner, until we chase him back inside.

It brings home something I realized in my travels around Europe. Early on, I thought the beautiful flowers on doorsteps I would see around quaint little towns were for the tourists. But when I would find flowers in a hidden back alley courtyard, or see a farm house on a lonely country road bursting with blooms on every window sill, I knew it was for a different reason. It was for the enjoyment of the people who live there, pure and simple. It’s a little personal message to the family, whispering “come back soon” when departing and “welcome home” at the end of a long day. It’s evidence of life, thoroughly loved and well-lived, inside. 

I know, because I have that kind of front porch. Took me a while to see it.

Have you ever wondered how or why I came to use only my iPhone for photography? I’m sharing my reasons over on the f4 studio blog right now. Come visit!

Home, Again

Ahhhh, home. There really is no place like home, is there? Sunday we arrived home from a week-long Spring Break trip to Washington, DC. It was a great week filled with history and art and making fun memories. And, as fun as it was, it was still so, so good to get home. So good to sit in my chair, sleep in my bed, snuggle with my pets. It was nice to visit the president’s home, but, fancy as it may be, it has nothing on my little home.

White House Washington DC Kat Sloma Photography

A few years ago, when we first moved to Italy and were in the first blush of a new adventure, we had this idea on the table to take a year off sometime in our future and travel the US. We thought we could live out of our camping trailer, homeschool our son, and go wherever the wind took us. I would photograph and blog. An internet connection, a few clothes and a map, that’s all we would need, right?

Wrong. For me, at least.

What we learned in Italy, with all of the travel we did in those two years, is that we need a physical home base. I am a homebody. We all are, in my immediate family. I need to have my space and my time in that space. I need a place I can store and display the things I collect along my journeys. A place I can mess up and clean up and walk around. It doesn’t have to be a big space, but it needs to be a place with an address. A place I can return to after my adventures.

I was reminded of this, as I arrived home this week. It doesn’t matter where home is, but I need to have a place to return.

Home, again.

What You Don’t See

Ahhhh, summer.
Sitting in the backyard, watching evening come on.
A peaceful moment.

Is that what you see in this?


I see that, but it’s not quite the whole picture. What you don’t see is that the fence is about to fall down, and it’s been that way for years. You don’t see the power lines and drive-through coffee place behind our house, along with the sound of the traffic on a busy street. You don’t see me, laying on the couch, binge-watching Arrested Development because I was so worn out from my seven mile hike that morning. Yes, I’m proud of the “seven mile” part of that, but the rest could all be cut.

So that’s what I did. I saw this potential photo out the back door and went out and framed it the way I wanted to see it.

I do that a lot. I focus in on what I do want to see, the good stuff, and ignore the rest. It helps me in creating photographs, because I’m always evaluating what should be in and out of the frame. The more I can get rid of distractions or unneeded elements, the better the photograph. It helps me in life too, because I focus on the many things I really want to do and the few things that need to be done regardless, and release the stuff that doesn’t really matter. The fence is falling down? OK. It hasn’t fallen down yet. It’s not a danger to people or property. So I’m not going to worry about it. When it does fall down, we’ll take care of it. It’s out of my mind otherwise.

Some might call this denial, or turning a blind eye to reality.

I call it a philosophy.

You see, I believe you can focus on the good stuff, and be happy, or you can dwell on the bad stuff, and be forever depressed. It’s all in where you choose to look, and what you choose to see. We always have choices. Sometimes I can’t help but see the bad stuff, and then I still have a couple of choices to make: Does it need to be dealt with, and does it need to be dealt with NOW? Sometimes, the answer is, Yeah, I need to deal with this now. But many times, the answer is: It’s not so important right now. Or even, it’s not so important ever.

This doesn’t mean I don’t see or deal with real, hard, painful, messy things, ever. I do… when it’s important. But it doesn’t have to be all the time. It doesn’t have to be “just because” it’s there. It doesn’t have to be a way of life, always down in the muck. Thinking, If I just do this one last, hard thing, I will be happy. That doesn’t work.

You have to be happy first, regardless of all of the muck. And to be happy, for me, often means ignoring the muck. I watched this great TED talk this week, which helped me realize my approach to life is not just denial but a healthy outlook. Take a quick watch – it’s 12 enjoyable, laugh-filled minutes:

Aha, I thought. I’ve shifted the way I frame the world over the last few years, allowing myself to focus on the positive, and it explains a few things. It explains why I’ve been happy at my job, while other people around me are swirling in the worry and stress of what might happen. It explains why I was so much happier when I stopped watching the news a few years ago. It even may explain why my art comes out the way it does – usually positive and showing the beautiful in the world around me – even when there is a fence falling down, or power lines, or a traffic-filled street. I just cut out the stuff I don’t want to see.

You might think I’m lucky, that this is just naturally the way I’m wired. I think that is partly true, but it’s also true that I’m wired for achievement. For accomplishment. For seeing the work that needs to be done and making sure I do the work first, check it off my list, and then focus elsewhere. It’s taken a conscious effort on my part to shift toward focusing on the good stuff first, and ignoring the muck.

I want to see the good stuff, so that’s what I choose to look for. That’s what I frame with my camera, that’s what I write on the blog, that’s what I share with you.

And what you don’t see? That stuff… it doesn’t even matter.

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A Gift

I’ve been given a gift. There was no fanfare, no gift wrap, and no card that accompanied this gift. It gently settled into my heart and soul last night, as I was getting ready for bed.

I was listening to my husband and son laying on the bed, reminiscing about a trip they took together to France to see a stage of the Tour de France. As they calmly chatted and laughed, I realized that I no longer feel sadness and longing in my memories of our time in Italy. Our whole family has felt the sadness and longing since returning home, but they had only fondness in their conversation.

It was then I realized the gift I had received. Through all of my recent work on letting go of expectation and filling the space with intention, I have found acceptance. Acceptance of where I am now, along with acceptance of the joyous experience that was my time in Italy.

Each memory of that time is now it’s own precious gift. Not to be hoarded with longing, but treasured and held up to the light with joy. To be felt again, but from where I sit today. To be seen in a new perspective.

I have received an amazing gift, to be able to enjoy the memories now while also enjoying the now. I have a smile on my face and in my heart today.

In The Picture

This photo is over a year old, taken last April in Italy. I’ve had it sitting in my edited images folder, just waiting for the perfect moment to use it. Now I know I was waiting for today, because here it is, perfectly representing the gift I’m writing about. While it’s not a recent photo, so I don’t quite meet the criteria for {in the picture}, there was enough symmetry with the timing of the link up, the post and the connections in the photo I thought I would share. The gloves were knitted for me by our {in the picture} hostess, Urban Muser, while we were Mortal Muses together. The Muses had a running internal joke that winter about fingerless gloves, another precious memory that brings me joy. Thanks Christy.

Hello… Spring?

We woke up to snow yesterday. Where we live in Oregon, snow is unusual. A bare trace of snow will cancel the schools. Snow in March? Unheard of.

But I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood, capturing the mix of the seasons. I hope the spring flowers survive!

I found this guy, waiting at the bus stop. I wonder if his bus made it on time?

A New Love

I have a new love these days. It came at me out of the blue, unexpected. I’m learning to play the guitar. Not just any guitar, but my Dad’s 1950’s Gibson.

Sometimes life throws us a curveball. Through some twists and turns, the guitar came to me in January. My brother, the only one who played, inherited it after my Dad passed away in 1995. Now it’s come to me for safekeeping.

I have so many memories of my Dad playing this guitar. Listening to him play 50’s and 60’s country-western music. Singing along to “Country Roads” by John Denver and “Sing a Song” by the Carpenters. Hours spent on Saturday nights watching TV at a certain house, while my Dad played music in the basement with his friends. He had this guitar my whole life, even before he married my Mom in 1969. It was a tiny piece of him we were able to keep after he passed away.

My Dad and the guitar in the 1980's

If you had asked me, two months ago, if I would be learning guitar today I would have laughed at you. What guitar? Who has time? I would have said. But when this piece of my history arrived and I put my hands on the guitar I knew it couldn’t stay in its case. I knew I had to learn. It’s like a living thing; it needs to be played. And by playing it, I feel closer to my Dad than I have in a long time. As I learn to play the chords I wonder how he managed to use his very large fingers to play them. I wonder how and when he got this guitar, why he chose this particular one. And I miss him, even more.

My guitar-playing friends seem to love this guitar. It’s a ~1956-7 Gibson ES125 hollow-body electric. Don’t know that that means? Don’t worry, neither did I a couple of months ago. It’s an early electric guitar, and little tiny piece of guitar history. A big piece of my personal history, growing larger every day.

I was surprised at how comfortable it is in my hands; how well it seems to fit me. I find that I like having music in my life again. Making music again. (I played flute years ago.) I always like learning something new, but in this I’m a true beginner. I can see how far I have to go, to even play a song. But I’m working on it. Working a little bit everyday, through the sore fingers and the awkward pauses to play the chords right and someday, I’ll be able to play a song or two.

And you know what? Surprise of all surprises, I’m loving every minute of it.

PS – Today is the last day to enter the Market/Wheels Giveaway! I would love your feedback as I prep for my exhibition, and you could win a matted print for giving it. Visit this post here for the details.