Saturday, June 11, 2011

Birding with Kelly... AKA Red and the Peanut

Imagine my delight when I received an email from Kelly, of Red and the Peanut, letting me know she'd be visiting Hilton Head Island real soon! I sooo love meeting blogging friends :)

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We met at Pinckney Island Wildlife Management Area and off we went to Ibis Pond. Kelly has a keen eye and pointed out many a bird treat.  The first was a Boat-tailed Grackle nest built within the cattail reeds - a beautiful, deep structure constructed from dead cattail reeds and woven into living cattails.

Kelly captured this sketching moment for me :) My scope is just in front of me. I love sketching with a scope. My sketching combines both blind and modified contour techniques.

The Grackles were flying above us sounding like helicopters. Just as I was about to move on, I saw a Grackles beak rise above the side of the nest!

I moved a bit more to the left and started to draw a pair of White Ibis. One was perched above and to the left of a nest, the other laying on the nest. Just when I was going to start sketching the Ibis on the nest, they traded places. Dang... But, it was fun to see the changing of the guard :)

Then I spotted two juvi Tricolor Herons with fantastic 'bad hair' heads. Oooo they are so fun!

We moved around to see the more densely populated trees. Just amazing. Kelly said the bird numbers are actually down from her visit here last year.  We are in the midst of a drought which directly affects nesting. I can't believe how much the cattails have filled in the pond since my visit in 2009.  It's a wonder there's any open water. 

Kelly of 'Red and the Peanut'
Wait until you see some of the shots, Kelly got. She has such a great eye! Be sure to check out her blog.

Here's a taste of what we were viewing...
White Ibis

This short video of Little Blue Herons, Egretta caerulea, shows adults flying in to feed their babies.  Immature Little Blues are always white. Their feathers will start to darken after their first spring. You can distinguish them from Snowy Egrets, Egretta thula, by noting coloration of their beak (pale grayish green) and legs (pale dull green). I shot this with my little Nikon Coolpix.  I so love this camera :) Kelly's doing most of the narrative. She's so funny!

And, the completed journal page... I added color at home.
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It was so good to finally meet you, Kelly!! Y'all come back so we can do this again :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wood Stork 2

I think 'Flaps Down' would be a good title for this.  How about you?

This is the image for the back of the T shirt.  They should be printed and ready by the end of the month. I'll post the finished product then.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wood Stork

I'm currently working on Wood Stork illustrations to be used on a T shirt for a summer camp.

This will be on the front, upper left side. This is fun :)

Stay tuned for the image for the back side!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tank Mates

I work at three jobs - Nature Artist and Workshop Instructor as my business and Coordinator for Spring Island's Nature & Arts events.  For the most part I work out of my home but when I have to go into 'the office' it's located at Spring Island's Nature Center. 

I pinch myself every time I cross the causeway to Spring Island. It's a 3,000 acre nature preserve with a residential community that's been carefully woven into the natural landscape.  I'm continually inspired by the beauty there.

When I enter the back door of the Nature Center I walk past tanks occupied by various snakes and at the end of this room is a large tank containing two baby American Alligators, a constantly hungry Terrapin and a couple of Chicken Turtles.

On this day I witnessed a special treat.... A baby gator lounging atop of two chicken turtles.  I walked slowly toward the tank but didn't dare get too close. My co-workers are getting used to me taking an art break :) And, being conscious of 'the clock' I sketch really fast.... great practice :) I added color today. Below is the original sketch.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Full Flower Moon

On the eve of May's full moon, Rob and I were walking the dogs along holes 17 and 18 of the neighborhood golf course when the moon rose above the tree line.  It was so lovely with the reflection on the small pond that runs between the 17th fairway and 18th tee. I decided this is where I wanted to  paint the full moon.

Now, I know the moon rises later each night but somehow didn't think it would be pitch black when it did!  We arrived around 8 pm. I sketched the glow from the sunset.  We waited and waited. I took the golf cart back to the house to get my flashlight. Still no moon.  Finally we saw it peeking from behind the trees. In my boredom I had started to paint the foreground, but in reality when the moon came up the only brightness in the landscape was the reflection on the water, the sky and the clouds around the moon.

Rob was able to capture me painting while holding the flash light.  I'm always amazed at my little camera and what it can pull off :)

Here's what I got done before the bugs got too hungry.

I'm working with watercolor paper that I've cut down to 7.5 x 11 inches and folded these sheets in half. One of these days I need to bind the pages together.

The sunset sketch is on Fabriano HP and the full moon is on Fabriano soft press.  I like lettering on the HP surface the best so I kept that side free for the moon's name.

All of our spring flowers have long since bloomed but I thought the traditional full moon name was appropriate with the Southern Magnolias blooming in all their glory.  I finished off the pages today, adding the magnolia blossom and lettering.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Tide

Revolted this morning and took an hour for me :) I had in mind to create a fresh, airy watercolor like one of my favorite artists, Charles Reid, does.

Well, my heavy pigmented self came out instead :)  Fun to be out plein air painting none the less!

The tides have been especially high the last few days.  There's a full moon tomorrow and it's really pulling some force with the sun on our ocean waters! Spring tides happen at the time of the full and new moons and high tides are extra high and low tides can be extra low. 

The marsh grass is greening but last season's dead purple shoots are all you see at high tide.  Beautiful colors in the marsh these days - especially at low tide.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New Field Trip Scheduled

 A call to all past students - I finally have a Field Trip scheduled :)

May 18th · 10 am to 2 pm

Where to go? Why the ever so lovely neighborhood of Habersham in Beaufort, SC.
Great Southern architecture, living fences and beautiful grounds.

Gain experience sketching architectural details - great practice for travel journaling. 
Don't worry, there's plenty of Nature's inspiration there, too!

I will demonstrate an easy way to handle perspective and share other techniques.

Space is limited to 10 participants, so please contact me quickly. 
Click here for more information and images from Habersham.

Registration ends May 14th

See photo's from past Field Trips here

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Heritage Golf Tournament • Day 3

I so love the Live Oaks that separate holes 13 and 14 at Harbour Town Golf Links. Heck, I love Live Oaks period!

We arrived quite early so we could set up our chairs at this beautiful spot. I should have started to paint the view then but instead we walked down 12 to 11.

Along the way I spotted a  Sabal Palmetto that made me salute nature. Given the chance, a seed will grow... no matter that it's on a tree's trunk!  Hmmm, we humans share this same trait. We can grow and flourish no matter our circumstances :)
A fern (spleenwort?), Virginia Creeper vine and Wax Myrtle tree/shrub were sprouting from several crevices on the palms trunk. Such a wonder.

I started the painting above but then we needed to head back to holes 2,3,6 and 7 so we could catch the leaders.  I took a reference photo of the scene with my iPod. You can see the trees way off in the upper right. I love the feature of being able to enlarge an image with the touch of my fingers :)

At least this gave me a bit of reference to continue from. Between the photo, the shapes that were laid in and my memory, I was able to complete the page while sitting at our next location. Well, all but the tiny blobs (people) in the bleachers.  I needed gouache for them as I was a bit too generous with the green of the bleachers.  Not to mention the flag's pole was white! Once home, the gallery and flag stick were painted. Thank goodness for opaque paint :)

Here is a shot (again with my iPod) of the painting before we moved.  Not much there, but enough.
We normally don't attend the tournament on Sunday. The crowds are way too heavy and it gives us a chance to recover. Play can be hard work!

Congrats Brandt! You had a great round :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Heritage Golf Tournament • Day 2

As bad as the sky looked, we only got a little bit of rain. Then in typical HHI fashion, the sun broke through and an ever so lovely day emerged.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Heritage Golf Tournament • Day 1

Every year that we can, Rob and I attend the PGA golf tournament on Hilton Head Island. The home to this event is Sea Pine's Harbour Town Golf Links.

This is the 43rd year for the tournament  and it no longer has a sponsor. Verizon ended it's contract last year. Rob and I can remember MCI as the sponsor prior to Verizon. Hopefully a company will step up and keep this much loved event running. What would spring be without the Heritage?? Not to mention the hit the area's economy would take and the losses charities would suffer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Visiting Artist II ... My Lodgings

After a 4 hour drive on Monday morning, an hour to regroup, then a presentation to the 5th and 6th graders, followed by preparation for Tuesday's classes and an early dinner with Alice and Brent at the Pita House (yum!), I made my way to the Mann's residence to stay in their guest cottage called... The Cabin - a log cabin that was built in the 1700's, deconstructed and moved to this location in the 1940's. When reconstructed, all the original materials were used and modern conveniences added.

Have the words 'spoiled rotten' been said enough in my last post??

I was greeted by 'Yellow Dog' - not his real name but he so reminded me of Yellow Dog in the old movie Funny Farm with Chevy Chase. What a joyful way to be greeted by a loving, must lick you to death, yellow lab!

The family was off at their kid's baseball games and I had instructions to make myself at home.

I walked along the brick path, under the arbor covered in blooming Yellow Jessamine, past blooming Azaleas and a Dogwood tree to the front porch of the cabin.  The screen door was wide open, inviting me in.  I opened the very thick cabin door to this lovely family room.  Pinch me!!

Around to the left I found this bedroom and a good sized bathroom.

 Yes, the bed's as comfy as it looks :) Feather pillows, down comforter and beautiful quilted coverlets.

There's a kitchen with all the modern appliances... in stainless steel no less! A stocked refrigerator.... oooooh, I thought, Rob is going to be jealous that he missed this treat!! How to sound nonchalant during our call when I'm bubbling with excitement?

Upstairs is one big bedroom with the old fashioned slanted ceilings.  Just delightful!

I grabbed my art bag and made my way back out the front door to sit in the yard and paint this lovely piece of heaven.

I had time enough to get a light wash of the scene down before the Mann's arrived. Jacob, Elizabeth and their three delightful boys greeted me and welcomed me into their home. What gracious hosts.

I was delighted that the cabin portrait came out to my liking. Wednesday, I found a rustic frame at the local Michael's, matted and framed the painting and presented it to the  Mann's as my thank you gift. There were squeals of delight. My heart still sings :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Visiting Artist

This week, I have the extreme honor of being a visiting artist for grades 5 through 8 at Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, SC. This is my first residency at a school. I know I've nothing to compare this experience to..... but,  I can honestly say they have set the bar very high.  Wow! The red carpet is out :)

Alice Ballard,  a ceramic phenom, is the head of the art department at CCES middle school.  We met while she was a visiting artist at Spring Island. I was immediately drawn to her work.... it's richly organic and I knew that our love of the natural world would somehow link us together. 

We talked about our individual methods of journal keeping and she asked if I'd ever considered being a visiting artist at schools.  That thought had been playing around in my mind for quite some time.  You know, I am always amazed at how a twinkling of an idea plays itself out and comes to fruition. You never know who will cross your path and the effect they may have on your future, or you on theirs.

I expressed my interest to Alice.  She shared that the school she teaches at has had many visiting artists come work with the children.  "Who would I contact, I ask?" "That would be me, she said."  After a proposal, approval and months of planning, here I am.

Alice has created an excellent program for the middle school. She and Brent Roberts have tapped the creative juices of their students. I am amazed by the talent these kids are putting forth. In a time when the Arts are being cut from so many budgets, I applaud CCES for their determination to provide their students with a balanced, well rounded and meaningful education.

It's been a whirlwind.  The energy level needed is a new experience for me. After my first full day of classes, she who never naps was out!!

This is the school's garden. I told you I've been spoiled!!

I can't wait to tell you about my lodgings!  Yes, definitely spoiled rotten :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah

Back in March, Rob and I spent a lovely afternoon walking along the manicured trails of the Oatland Island Wildlife Center.

The second feature along the trail was an area where two Sandhill Cranes reside. I didn't want to leave!

They walked over from the far side of their area to right below the bridge we stood on. A few more people came a long and the cranes let out a sound that made all of us jump!  Goodness, they are loud!

I sketched and painted for a bit then we made our way to see the Bobcat..... very well hidden.

On to the Red Foxes.  Yes! From there we walked to the Birds of Prey area. By then. the no-seeums were having they're way with us!
We saw the Center's herd of White-tailed Deer and then moved on to see the pack of Gray Wolves.

You can observe the wolves from a bridge that overlooks their area or you can go into a building with one-way glass. Both vantage points were exciting as it was feeding time.  Nothing like seeing the pecking order of a wolf pack first hand.

Our last stop... the American Bison.  Wow! Pappa is one big dude!!

We were on our way back to the parking lot and I just couldn't stand it... I had to go back to see the cranes again :)

So, a few more crane sketches to surround the Bison :)

I've been hoping to finish these pages with color using the reference photographs we took... hopefully soon.  Then I'll add some more words. The crane page is begging for a calligraphic touch :)

What a great place to practice fast sketching! I can't wait to go back :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Fast Four Hours...But Oh So Fun!

Click for a larger view
Rob and I are lucky to have had two weekends in a row where we spent time at Hilton Head National Golf Course.  Yesterday I joined him as he played a round of golf with our former neighbor.

What fun! I sat in the cart with my journal, watercolors, waterbrush and pen making fast sketches as we made our way around the course.
There were a lot of people playing, creating slow play on a few holes, giving me more time.

Years ago, HHN is the place I was first introduced to Fox Squirrels. They are not shy and don't mind if your ball lands closed to them. They are large and slow and have great coloring.  Some are gray with black heads, white ears and nose, others are all black with light ears and nose. I just want to pick one up and scratch behind its ears like a kitty - oh ya, that will happen!

The Fish Crows were out in force. How I love to hear them - especially on the golf course. They have uncanny timing to call out their famous 'Oh, oh' when someone is about to hit their drive. Too funny as it really messes with golfer's heads!

Dragonflies are out! I saw 3 types and several Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies around the blooming azaleas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Azalea Time

For something different, Rob and I went to Hilton Head National Golf Course so he could hit golf balls on the practice range and I could sketch some different scenery.

We love this course. There are no houses around it and you really feel like you've escaped into the wild.

The driving range has woods on both sides and water near by. At one point I counted four Osprey calling and swooping in the air.

We set up on the right side of the range. The azaleas were a blaze under the canopy of trees. We arrived around 11 and stayed until 1. It always amazes me how 2 hours spent doing something you love can feel like 24! I was ready to take on the world once again :)

I took my time with this little piece. I'd watched Mr. Cardinal and a Mocking Bird flit around in the bushes. They must like sharing the same territory as we have the same combo of birds in our bushes.

I'd paint a bit then get up and watch Rob practice while the paint dried. Patience with watercolors is fruitful. Sitting in nature, ever so wonderful and necessary!

Yea!! I managed to save the lights!! I'm still pinching myself - this has to be one of my best plein air paintings I've done. Happy, happy girl :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Supermoon and Sweetleaf

Please click to enlarge image
It wasn't until days later that I found out March's full moon was dubbed 'Supermoon' due to it's closeness to Earth.  Well, what to do? There was no room left on the full moon page and I had already sketched and painted the Sweetleaf snipping!

The border around the Sweetleaf page became the extension of the full moon page.  Not exactly what I had in mind for the Sweetleaf, but then just because it's my journal doesn't mean I have total control :) That's part of the fun of journaling!!

I found the Sweetleaf trees/scrubs scattered along the cart path of number 10 at our neighborhood golf course.  I'd been hoping that the coming of Spring would help me ID more trees along this path. If you remember, when I  was working on the Sketchbook Project, I counted 20 varieties. I was thrilled when the flowers of the Sweetleaf caught my eye. I so love adding new-to-me-plants and trees to my list! This particular small tree needed special attention due to its unusually shaped trunk.

I did this quick sketch around 5 pm, Saturday afternoon. I wanted the tuft-like cluster flowers to show off since I really didn't achieve their look on the previous page. I used pastel pencil on toned pastel paper. I stroked the pastel with my waterbrush - my set of Derwent pastel pencils act like watercolor pencils but have the opaque qualities of pastels.

I then sprayed fixative over the page. Some of the white flowers weren't standing out so I then used a white Neocolor II crayon to add the final touches.

The other common name: Horse-sugar comes from the fact that horses and cows love to graze on these sweet leaves. My tree book also says that fruit, described as small dry drupe, will form in the fall. Oh goody, more to look forward to!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Moon

Everything has a yellow cast to it here in the lowcountry. The clear glass top tables on our porch now look like they're opaque light yellow.
Some are saying it's the worst they've seen the tree pollen.

I do like to use the Northeast Native American names for the full moons I sketch and have been wondering, of late, what the local Native American's named the full moons.  I've not been able to research that yet but I'm sure they would agree that March's moon should be named after the time when tree pollen covers the land :)
I love full moon eves.  The moon looks big and it rises when there is still plenty of light. I will try again next month to capture the the beauty.  This poor page became very overworked.....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


This little tree seems to light up for miles. It's perched on the hill beside the driving range in my neighborhood. I planned to include it in my initial Spring page in the previous post, but couldn't contain myself. This beauty needed a page of its own!

Rob was having a golf lesson, I sat in the cart and did my favorite thing :) The entire page was created there.  I checked the weather when we returned home.  I thought it was at least in the mid 60's as I was in the sun  and out of the wind....but not.  Only 59 with a strong ENE wind.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring's Color Song ~ I

So many colors popping, so
little time....

Join me as I build this journal page.

This is the start to my salute to Spring.

Saturday, on the early evening dog walk down the cart path on 10, I saw Yellow Jessamine and Sweet Gum trees starting to pop. It was beautiful. The last rays of the sun were hitting the trees.  It was the perfect time to sketch.... Drat. Dogs to walk, dinner to make.... rain in the forecast for Sunday.

I was up and out at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The ground was wet but I caught a break between showers. I wanted to have plenty of time before the golfers made the swing to 10. It was so windy that I had to put the chin strap down on my Tilly so it wouldn't fly off my head! I made a bee-line to the Jessamine then on the way back to sketch the Sweet Gum buds, my eye caught a Sparkleberry bush with new leaves just beginning to pop. This tardily deciduous shrub like tree still had old leaves and a few berries hanging on.

The wind really started to whoop it up - usually a sign that the rain is about to come - so I snipped a Sweet Gum bud and headed for home.  Once in the door, I quickly deposited my sketch bag, harnessed the dogs and out we went for their morning constitution. We maybe made it 10 yards from the house and the rain hit. Basenji's hate the rain. It was a real quick walk :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Been A Good Year For Press

I am honored and blushing... Hilton Head Monthly has this article in their March 'green' issue.  Thank you HHM!!

 Capturing nature: A Bluffton woman teaches the art of nature journaling

E-mail Print
Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.
A group of budding artists sets up its chairs in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, paper and watercolor pencils in hand. But though the work they produce will be works of art, these aren’t experienced artists — just people drawing and creating nature journals for themselves, and the joy of it.

Artist Pam Johnson Brickell, a Clemson University-certified master naturalist, teaches a series of nature journal workshops at the Society of Bluffton Artists Gallery and at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort. Creating a nature journal is a way to capture the bounty of the world, she says, a way to relax and take in the essence of the environment, a means by which you can record and hold onto images that inspire.

“Imagine, years from now, pulling a sketchbook from the shelf and knowing that it will reveal your intimate experiences with nature, time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life,” Brickell says. “Any given page will transport you back in time, enabling you to feel the breeze on your skin, smell the aromas of the salt marsh or recapture the awe you felt when an egret blessed you with a close encounter.”

Brickell stresses that students who take her workshops aren’t professionals — just regular folks drawing for themselves. They begin by taking watercolor pencil techniques or sketching techniques workshops and move on to field trips in places such as Sea Pines Forest Preserve, the Church of the Cross, Fish Haul Creek Park or Jarvis Creek Park.

Student Harriett Selva lives in Lexington, Ky., but spends several weeks a year on Hilton Head. A veteran of several workshops, she says Brickell “makes us believe that we all have some worthy ability to create. Through Pam’s instruction I’ve learned to see colors, shapes, and shadows that I never noticed before.”
Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.’Selva says one of her favorite field trips was to Fish Haul Creek on a foggy morning. “We sat on the beach and painted a scene looking out on Port Royal Sound with large rocks in the foreground. Pam helped us to see colors and shapes in all of that gray,” she says.

On field trips “the only things you need are a chair, watercolor pencils and paper,” says Brickell. Students can choose what they wish to sketch or paint, which can be anything from a broad landscape to a single plant. Throughout the field trip, Brickell will offer advice and tips on technique, but more important, she says, is that her students learn to see and appreciate the natural world.

“You find that you totally lose yourself in the environment. Everything around you disappears and you forget the stresses of the day,” said Brickell. “The world opens up its bounty when you learn to see. A tree, plant or animal that’s long been named and cataloged can still be discovered for the first time.”

Thank you, Sally!!  This is beautifully written :)
Harriett.... you are terrific! Keep journaling!
Allison, great photography!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snow Moon

As stated in my previous post, I was a tad excited to capture the full moon rise but horizon clouds got in the way. I had a perfect spot by the marsh picked out and it was close enough that I could walk from our condo.

After dinner, the moon was just rising over the trees out front.  It was way to dark for me to toddle off to my spot by the marsh so I parked my folding chair on the front walk way. A snippet of the first condo building made for a good left corner frame. The buildings have green metal roofs.  When the moon is high overhead the roofs have a wonderful shine.

The name Snow Moon was given to the February moon by Native American tribes in the northeast. Rightfully so, as February is the time of the most snow. I also learned that it's sometimes referred to as Full Hunger Moon.

My quest to find what southeastern tribes called this moon took some digging. The Cherokee tribes territory in Georgia, North and South Carolina didn't really encompass the Coastal Plain of SC. But, they called the February full moon the Bone Moon and held a yearly ceremony to honor the dead. The native tribes of this area were called the Yemassee. Hopefully I'll have more info on them another time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Colors and Observations

This page started as a memory sketch and ended with a plein air watercolor sketch while waiting for full moon to rise on the 18th.

 I've been so taken lately with the contrast of colors in this mid-February and mid-winter landscape. The grasses; both lawn and marsh have reached their most dead and dull coloration. The blue of the water on sunny, blue sky days is absolutely brilliant and such a shock to your eyes. Red maples started to pop a few weeks ago so I splattered some red on the page :)  It will mean nothing to someone who may  thumb through my journal in years to come, but I will know :)

It was a beautiful day on the 18th, in the low 70's... a real tease. I was looking forward to painting the rise of the full moon. The dogs and I went for our afternoon walk around 5. I heard peepers!!! Woo Hoo!

I arrived at my chosen location to capture moonrise a tad early. Luckily it was just a bit away from the condo and when horizon clouds were too thick to see the actual rise, I gave in and return home to fix dinner. I'd much rather paint! I kept going outside to make sure I wasn't missing the moonrise. No....  We ended up eating dinner, cleaning up and then I went outside to paint.  By 8 pm the moon was hanging over the trees on the near horizon. The temperature was in the mid 50's. It was so nice to finally not fight the cold while painting. The image you ask?  It's coming... Another day, another blog post :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine's Message For You

To all my 'Sisters' of the heart and all my art 'Sisters and Brothers'... Happy Valentines Day!

It was glorious here today.  A tad chilly this morning but by 11 a.m. all I needed was a sweater vest as my jacket. It was breezy but soooooo sunny.  This was our day off and we played outside as much as we could. While Rob practiced hitting golf balls on the range I took a walk with my plein air purse to sketch 'The Sisters' once again. This time plein air and this time for me :)  At 2:30 it was 70 degrees!!

I hope love has, in some way, touched your heart today :)