Friday, August 18, 2017

Post-travel balance

Last week was our much anticipated and planned-for family trip to attend DCI and watch D's performance in his almuni corps..  It was not what I would call a "family vacation", in that D had rehearsals or performances scheduled for the entire week, and as a family we only spent about 24 hours together without a performance schedule.  However, while D was busy with his schedule, G and I filled our time with museums, concerts, Broadway shows, and other tourist attractions.

I dubbed it the "Magical Mid-western Music and Cultural Tour".  G's friends made us t-shirts.  It was awesome.

As with any trip, the time leading up to departure was filled with prep work, which diminished any hope of fun project time.  Throughout the prep and during travel, however, my mind's wheels were ever-turning with new ideas on projects, and perhaps more importantly... organizing my thoughts for the projects I already want to do.

Some are travel related, and I would consider to be extremely long-term projects that I have longed to have come to fruition.  

After contemplating my extensive smashed penny collection (which dates back to my early childhood) I've now come up with a display plan: create a silhouette of a state as a background, mount the pennies from that state on the background, and frame.  (alternately I could paint the state on a canvas and adhere the pennies, but I'm not sure how well they would stick)  

For my pin collection... stamp various travel stamps onto canvas, decoupage/paint over the stamps with sepia-toned paper/paint (to diffuse the sharp stamps and give the canvas an aged look) and pin the pins to the canvas, perhaps grouped by geographical location.

The idea of geographic groupings is beneficial in two ways.  A: it gives the display a sense of how much time or how many visits I've had to a particular location.  B: it makes it easier for me to check the collection over before I go to visit that place again, to avoid duplicates (this is more of an issue with the pennies than the pins, but helps in both cases)

I also have a patch collection, which will likely end up being on some kind of quilted wall hanging, but I don't have a particularly clear vision of how I want to do that, so the wheels are still turning (though I'm making notes)

I've also worked up an idea that is a grand surprise for D and a few of his friends... not that I have a wide audience but I will keep it under wraps until it is complete and presented. But I am incredibly excited about this project and it will probably jump ahead in my project queue.

While the beginning of our trip was packed with activities and events, the latter days had a lot of "hurry up and wait" moments.  I took advantage of these long pauses in activity to begin to organize my thoughts for all these project ideas - including projects I've already started - and I've listed them out in a document that is accessible through my computer and my phone.  I've had too many days where I've had some blocks of time to work on something only to draw a blank as to where to place my energies... and then by the time I go to bed an idea comes to me and I think "Oh shoot, I could have gotten that one thing done!"  I'm hoping an updated list will help avoid those lost opportunities.

I've also implemented lists for household projects... I dub these "need to do's" (as opposed to my projects "want to do's")  I've often found myself so easily consumed by the need to do's that, by the end of the day, I have no time for want to do's, because I feel like if I don't do the need to do's now, I'll forget to do them later.  By writing them out, though, I can read them all over, decide which ones *really* need to be done now, and assign the others to a waiting list... giving me a little more balance with my time to fit in some want to do's.  As I complete my typical post-trip need to do's (laundry, unpacking, etc...) I'm lining myself up to jump right into my want to do's.  Fingers are crossed that this blog will showcase great leaps of activities in the coming weeks.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Scrapbooking and Pinhole

When it comes to hard copy scrapbooking, I work in stages.  I spread out my images or ephemera, figure out the background color for the pages, then start to poke at the layout, add in decorative elements, make a note for the journaling, then stack the finished pages in a 12x12 holder.  At some future point I will sit down and have one long gluing session for all the finished pages, and that part of the project is relatively portable in case I want to emerge from the art room and glue pages while watching a movie in the other room.  

One of the challenges I face when walking away from my hard copy scrapbooking for too long is that it is sometimes difficult to remember where I left off, or what my intentions had been with the pages I was making.  This is made especially difficult if I've scooted the unfinished pages to the side to use my table space for some other quick project (birthday cards, plant markers, mouse ears... )  It is because of this that I tend to let the scrapbooking sit for long periods of time... because even if I could steal 10 minutes for the art room, my work space is usually so disheveled that it would take me 30 minutes just to figure out what I could spend my 10 minutes doing.

Over the past couple weeks, though, I managed to take enough time out to re-organize my work space and remind myself where I was (by laying out all my "finished - not glued" pages) and where I was headed with this album.  

Post-it notes are helpful, as my mind gets scattered in between project times.

So, headway has been made in layouts, and I now have a larger stack of pages-to-be-glued in the 2004 ephemera album.

My other challenge is that I'm still trying to *only* use the paper and supplies that I already have, which is at once limiting and liberating.  Limiting because I know that manufacturers are constantly putting out amazing and adorable page accompaniments; liberating because I'm not spending hours meandering craft stores looking for adorable and amazing page chachkies.  At any rate, I really want my ephemera collection to speak for itself and to be the decorations surrounding the photos to complete the story.




I had a pinhole outing which, at the time was quite satisfying... I felt very self-congratulatory that I'd simplified my process and enjoyed the experience of slowing down my compositions, calculating the exposures, and being "in the moment".  Then I went to drop my film off at the lab and it was finally brought to my attention that I'd exposed two rolls of color negative film, not the two rolls of color slide film that I had calculated for.  With all the effort I'd been trying to put into my process, this was a seriously ridiculous bit of oversight.  The wrappers for the film are not even the slightest bit similar (Kodak is bright yellow all over, Velvia is silver and blue)  I chalk it up to having not regularly used slide film in well over a decade, also that other than the two rolls I shot in May, I had not ever used 120 sized slide film at all.  So the wrapper alone didn't trigger any realization of the film type other than "this is not Ilford, so this is color".  I just didn't bother to read the film label and ran on the assumption that the only color film I had was slide film, forgetting that I'd tossed the last of my Kodak color negative film in my camera bag along with the B&W.

Thankfully the exposures were not horribly off... I basically exposed for the film speed, but without the proper correction for reciprocity failure, so everything is a little underexposed (outside of my 5 second exposure, which was close enough to correct).  And some of the images were experimental anyway... I'm rather happy with how this abstract came out:

I set up the tripod on the deck of the ferry on our ride from Kingston to Edmonds.  There are actually small boats on the water in this shot, but the action blurs them.  The San Juan Islands are the blur on the horizon.

After still contemplating my 2018 calendar, I ran a quick unscientific poll online to see how people might feel about a calendar with a mix of B&W and color images, and the unanimous answer was "Do it!  That would not be weird at all!" I also have more pinhole images than I had realized, because I'd forgotten that I filed my scans from my vacation with my vacation photos on my hard drive, not with the rest of my film scans.  I need to make a final decision on how I want to organize my files... either keep all the scans in the film folder and make a note in the vacation folder that there are also photos on film, or vice-versa.  I haven't decided which way makes more sense, but consistency might help me to feel less scattered.

My goal is to get a few more good pinhole outings in before the end of the summer.  The challenge is finding someone who has enough patience to hang around while I make long exposures.  While I have no problem with the idea of going out by myself, it is probably not the safest choice for me to wander down distant hiking trails lugging camera gear all alone.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rapidfire 6 Week Update

I've had this needling feeling in the back of my mind reminding me that I was behind on blogging, but I didn't realize it has been over a month.  I wondered how I could have possibly fallen that far behind, then I scanned back through my photos for my recap and realize I truly have been quite busy, and I've accomplished quite a lot over the last 6 or so weeks.  So here is a rapid fire update:



Cherry Creek Falls - pinhole shot
In early June, D and I participated in a couple of weekly step challenges, so we opted for hikes instead of trips to the gym.  One hike brought us to Cherry Creek Falls, where we paused for about an hour so that I could grab some pinhole shots of the falls.  My original goal for this year had been to collect enough color images to do my 2018 calendar in pinhole shots, however as the summer is now halfway through, I have my doubts that I'll have 12 good images to use for this year, so I'm contemplating another theme for 2018, and perhaps 2019 will be pinhole.  It all depends on what kind of outings I can get in before October.

LOTR and embroidery
I've been taking advantage of the longer days to be outside in the yard for as long as I can, which leaves me less time for evening crafting before I'm too wiped and need to go to sleep.  When I do sneak in an evening or two, I have fun with it.

ALL THE POTS.
Around the end of June we finally finished planting all the plants.  For now.

Lake Union Panoramic Pinhole
I made it to the June meetup with my pinhole photography group, which took place around Lake Union in Seattle.  It turned out to be the hottest day we've had this year (and is still the record thus far for the summer) and I found that my whole "I don't feel like shooting much in 95 degree heat" feeling is as strong in the states as it is in Jamaica, so I didn't shoot the volume that I thought I might, but I'm pleased with the images I did grab.  I finished up the roll from my panoramic pinhole camera, and my fisheye plastic camera (which had 9 year old film in it!) and ran my first roll of E6 through my Graflex pinhole.  With the help of a new app I found that calculates reciprocity failure I managed to get my first roll of E6 exposed correctly!

THE FOUNTAINS ARE DONE!
4 YEARS, so many changes, so many new ideas, so many "oh, look what the fountain store has in stock now!" moments.... I have a difficult time finding the words to describe how elated I am that they are DONE.

Embroidery on the deck
In honor of my mom's birthday, I parked myself out on the deck to work on my bird quilt (from the pattern I inherited from her mom, using the thread I inherited from my mom)  It was a lovely evening.

Photo Editing - this is from Kauai in January 2017
Due to having to drive G around to various things this summer, I've had some "sit in the coffee shop with your laptop" time, which I've been using to catch up on photo editing.  I'm nearly through with our winter trip to Kauai, which will almost bring me up to speed with all my DSLR because I've hardly shot anything this year outside of birds in my yard.


The garden is coming along nicely
Most of the vegetable starts that I bought from the local super-fancy-expensive nursery either wilted away or have simply been stunted.  The big plants you see are all from other plant stores... so next year I won't bother with the super-fancy place at all.  

A view from the back side of the garden
It might be difficult to see, but I have three laser-cut hummingbird sculptures on the wall of my garden... I bought these in the summer of 2012 and have been waiting to find the right home for them ever since.  The pots in this shot are home to three of my tomato plants that I started from seeds and thought would not survive, but these guys just didn't give up... so here they are, caught up to my other starts in height and starting to show signs of bearing fruit.  


Plant markers
I had the idea for these plant markers back in May, and didn't finish them until last week.  Unfortunately the hot glue didn't hold on the markers that were hit directly by the sprinklers, so perhaps next year I'll figure out something that lasts longer.

In scrapbooking, I just have one or two photos to add to my 2011 digital album, and my 2012 photos are nearly all edited.  I just got back to the 2004 ephemera album last night, where I'm working my way through a set of vacation photos from late October of that year.

These are the highlights of how I've spent my crafting time over the last month and a half, in between end-of-school-year events, hosting out-of-town family over holidays, and helping to teach G to drive. I've also enjoyed some much needed meditative down-time in my yard, fitting in yoga in the mornings and lots of sipping coffee while bird watching.  Sometimes I get more than birds in the yard... like this morning's visitor...
Most mornings I sit on my porch with my coffee in one hand, and my camera with the big zoom lens in the other.  As a result, most of my photo shooting this summer has just been of wildlife in my own back yard.  With the combination of busy week-day schedules and a great desire to just... *be*... in the yard, we've had relatively few excursions outside of this immediate view this summer.  On the one hand that means I probably will not fulfill my goal of having a large enough variety of pinhole photos to create a calendar this year, but on the other hand I'm hoping this means I might catch up on editing and posting to flickr, and if I don't collect enough images by the fall then I'll be well armed to come up with a different theme using my digital shots this time around.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Project Updates in Gardening, Stitching, Scrapbooking

My blogging has waned as the weather turned for the better this spring.  The sunshine and promise of warmer temperatures has been inspiring me to keep my desk time to a minimum so that I can maximize time outside to wrap up the largest parts of our now 4 year long yard renovation.  I'm happy to report that I met my goal of getting my properly built vegetable garden area in place as of Mother's Day Weekend.  
I had a tomato garden last year, which sort of tapered off from the boardwalk/patio path down to the yard below.  D finished building up a retaining wall for me on the far side of the garden earlier in the spring, so that by May 13th I was able to amend the soil and put my vegetable plants in the ground.



Tomato, cucumber, snap peas, eggplant, jalapeno, strawberries, and several squash is how we started.

Over the last couple weeks, while the plants stretched their roots in their new home, I worked on tidying up the final details of the surrounding area while also completing some larger projects involving the water feature and planting several pots around the yard.

My original intention had been to put at least some of my herbs into the garden space, however we overbought veggie starts, and I'm also not sure of which end of the garden I want to put perennials, so for now the perennials will stay in pots around the yard.

Herbs and strawberries on the left form an arch around the sprinkler control boxes, which covers the boxes but leaves easy access.  This weekend I'll be adding the drip lines to the pots.  The garden box against the brick wall houses our lettuce and fennel... I've been calling this the salad bar.  I might consider moving the strawberries into this box if we decide to put the lettuce in the big garden next year.


About 3 weeks of growth in the garden, the strawberry pot is protected from birds with a pop-up bird net, the tomato, cucumber, and snap peas have supports to grow, and my decorative rock and lavender is in place along the wall.

All this extra time in the garden has left my hands tired by the end of the day, so my embroidery has slowed.  I have completed two of my 4 Eastern Bluebird blocks, and am close to finishing block#3.  


As the yard work turns from projects to maintenance, I should have more time in the evenings to get in some stitching.


In the world of scrapbooking... my project room has been overlayed with short projects and supplies which need to be straightened and put away before I can get back to progressing on my ephemera albums. My digital scrapbook for 2011 is nearly complete (I need only to pull one still photo from a video clip and then spell-check the whole album and it will be done)  I've begun collecting and organizing the digital photos for the 2012 album.  The process is a little slower for this year because I  began shooting more film in 2012, and including photos from those cameras involves a bit of digging through and organizing old scans.  My current plan is to proceed with the standard annual albums until I am "caught up", then go back and do the vacation albums.  I should have more consistent blocks of time this summer to work on them, as I plan to find a cozy coffee shop where I can plug away at it while G is in her driving school.

Monday, May 15, 2017

An Unexpected Mystery Envelope #5

I received another mystery envelope on Saturday, which was again at the 2 week mark from the last envelope.  Photos and summary are after the jump to help avoid spoilers.