Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In the nightmare realm...

The other night I woke from this nightmare...
...I'm on a ship of some sort with my family.  It is larger than a ski boat, smaller than a cruise ship, though it had several levels and a captain and crew (perhaps a large yacht?)  We were supposed to be out in the ocean.  I was on one of the upper level decks, not the top level, speaking with D when the entire ship began to fall, like an elevator.  It did not tip, it simply went off the edge of whatever water we were on (imagine Wile E. Coyote running off the cliff several feet horizontal to the land before falling straight down)  D and I raised up from the floor, I saw items that had been on end tables lifting up as well, and we reached for each other... trying to hold hands so we could brace for impact together.
Normally the "fall" of the nightmare is the end, and people wake up before impact.  In this case, I went all the way through the fall, somehow landed without injury on the softer side of the carpeted floor, and jumped up.  I yelled up a staircase to ask what the hell the captain was doing running the ship so close to a drop in elevation like that.  It made no sense that the water would drop suddenly in the middle of the ocean, so I looked out the window and saw we were near cliffs, like a waterfall.  Where did the waterfall come from?  I looked down to the water below, it was night and there were spotlights shining down to the light blue water.  I saw a person swimming.  I yelled up to the captain to stop and save the swimmer, he said he didn't need to as all the passengers on our ship were accounted for.  He wanted everyone up on the bridge.  I entered a hallway that had a railing which looked down to the levels below (now it looked more like a cruise ship)  I could see into the rooms one floor below, they were filled with water.  The lights were still on, I could see several bodies in the water, seated in booths as if they were still waiting for dinner, but they were clearly dead.  One woman had her back to the window, she wore a redish-orange shirt and had long blond hair which floated up around her head, her arms floated up and down with the movement of the water, yet she remained somewhat seated (although floating) in her booth.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Waiting on the burn...

As the old year has come to a close, I'm launching into my fresh New Year clean-up with projects and projected projects.  I begin with backing up my cell phone photos and most recent photos so that I can clear the camera SD cards for future shooting.

As I progress on the digital scrapbooking, I've found myself slowed by the scattered nature of having shot with multiple cameras over the years.  All my photos are organized by date, but then subdivided by camera.  Most of our "people" photos were shot with point-and-shoot cameras, and most of my DSLR were scenic or wildlife, however there are some people shots buried in my DSLR files as well.   And then there are the cell phone images. This would be less of an issue had I been keeping up with scrapbooking as I offloaded images, or if my computer had a hard drive large enough to hold 600GB of images all at one time. As it stands now, I find myself having to import the point-and-shoot photos a year or two at a time, and then dig through the external hard drive to find the "people" shots in my DSLR files.  (At least for 2009 the DSLR shots are in jpg so there is a preview in the folders... somewhere around December of that year I switched to shooting all RAW format, so I'm going to have to dig using Adobe Bridge to find all the people photos.)

As to the burn... here is my photo back-up process.

Although I tend to offload my images from the SD cards to my computer regularly, I do not delete them from the SD card until they are fully backed up twice.  I first burn the images to DVD-R's, then offload the images to my external hard drive organized by date and camera.  By this time I usually have 3 copies of the RAW images, one on my computer, one on DVD, and one on the external hard drive.  It it time consuming and seems like overkill, maybe, but I've had to recover more than one set of photos from the DVDs when my old external hard drive corrupted the images during the transfer.  Once all the images are backed up twice, I reformat the SD cards and I am good to go.

I dream of the day when I can come back from an outing, offload the images shot, edit them the following weekend, and then update my site and/or update the current scrapbook.  Until then, at least I can blog while I wait for the CD's to burn.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Reflections and Resolutions

Reflections on 2014:
I set myself some lofty goals last year around this time... it is time to reflect, take notes, and move forward.
My Food Goals: Cook more from scratch and become more consistent in cooking leafy greens better. 
I feel I did a decent job with this goal.  I did cook more from scratch, although leafy greens continue to be a challenge (unless one counts salad).  This year I should be able to plant a proper, fresh garden in the spring, and my sister happened to have given me a garden planning book for Christmas which I have already begun to mark up with sticky-notes.
One thing I have learned about myself is that if I buy extra foods which can sit in a pantry, they will tend to sit there until they rot... however if I cook all the extra foods when I cook the main meal, the leftovers will hardly ever go to waste.  In particular, extra veggies can almost always find their way into my lunch, augmenting a noodle dish or quick can of soup.  

My Activity Goals: More inversions and challenges in yoga
I certainly attacked this goal, to a fault.  After bruising the cartilage on my right foot in the spring, I had to cut back on cardio which impacted my foot.  I turned to the more challenging Yoga II class for nearly all my physical training.  I loved the challenge of it, I certainly became stronger, but ironically I slowly became less flexible.  The class was an hour long twice a week, and she worked us until the very end of the class, leaving little to no time to stretch. I worked out a third morning doing additional strength training specific to the inversions I was attempting to achieve, and for a while went back to Hatha Hot Yoga once a week as well. So long as I continued the Hatha Hot Yoga, I maintained decent flexibility... however I stopped the weekly Hatha in August and as a result everything from my rib cage to my knees tightened and shortened, bringing back the old familiar sciatica.  By the time I returned to Hatha in mid-September I could no longer sit in Hero's Pose (translation: my thigh muscles were so tense I was unable to sit on my knees with my butt between my heels - which is a pose I've been able to do all my life) Then my Yoga II teacher left the gym and was replaced by two different teachers with vastly different techniques, and the abrupt change in style, combined with the tension and back pain, forced me to rethink my schedule.
I continue to practice yoga at home in a gentle way, targeting the stretches for the psoas and obliques, and I've gone back to strength training on the TRX (minus squats, which aggravate my hip) I have really fine mobility, it is just sitting which bother my back and hip, though I'm gradually able to sit for longer periods of time without any major adjustments.
So... better balance in my physical activity is the focus from here on out.  Handstands are fine, so long as I have the proper time to stretch as needed.

My Crafting Project Goal: Catch up on scrapbooking
This did not happen, though I made good headway.  The last physical album, 2003, is nearly completely designed.  I have only to complete December's photos and then the album will be ready to be glued and assembled.  In the digital realm, I'm currently on 2008.  I ended up having to publish two albums for 2007 due to the high volume of photos I took on our first trip to Disneyland.  The sorting and editing of photos has taken longer than I expected it to, and it is clear that an hour and a half once a week is not enough time for me to fully catch up on this project.  

My Photography Goal: Complete the update of my website and maintain editing/uploading new work
I did update my site a few times over the past year, however I'm still not caught up.  We had one large vacation in April of 2014, but other than that we did not travel out of town much at all, concentrating instead on local day-trips and being close to home for house projects.  Due to the lack of travel, I've a relatively severe lack of interesting shooting to edit, so logically I can assume that I should be able to catch up on this goal in the coming year.
I'll add that I want to find new perspectives in my photography, and really narrow in on what I enjoy shooting.

My Communication Goal: Cut back on unimportant distractions and remember that Blogger Exists
I did not achieve this goal nearly as much as I would have liked to.  It is on the list again for this year.

Comprehend and move on; life becomes far happier when you are able to wash off the stench of quagmires and distance yourself from the toxicity and negativity that others produce.
This was not officially one of my resolutions from last year, but was a thought which rolled around in my mind quite a lot as the year began.  Washing off the stench of the quagmires is easy enough, my problem was my mind would wander back to them frequently in an attempt to comprehend.
How can you comprehend something someone has done without having a conversation with them about it, and how can you have a conversation with them when you've determined that talking to them will only do you harm?  Every so often, in my distant observations, the questions would crop back up in my mind... "why did they do this?" "what do they think this is accomplishing?" and I debate with myself... is my burning curiosity worth opening up the can of toxic worms that would surely come along with opening this dialog?  The answer was always no, and so the questions are left unanswered.
And then I realized... when people build up their own false reality in order to make themselves feel better, you really cannot trust their answers anyway.  They are lying to themselves, what makes me think they are capable of being honest with anyone else?
So really it comes down to this: comprehend as much as is possible, realize that not all puzzles will be solved, and move on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yoga lessons

I remember back around... 2006 or 7 or so... when my back went out.  I'd had "episodes" many times over the years, but that one was the worst, I honestly thought I'd broken something. going from laying down to standing up took at least 2 minutes, and even then the most I could do was a sort of bent-leg-lean-forward as if I were about to dive from a platform.  My hips were tilted one way, and my ribcage the other, making it look as though I were a partially melted snowman whose torso was about to slide off to the ground. After visits with chiropractors, sports medicine doctors, and physical therapists, the collective diagnosis was a combination of issues.  I have a type of scoliosis where the base of my spine is twisted and curved, my body compensated for it by putting all movement in one spot on my spine, my muscles were shorter on one side of my back than the other due to the compensation, the twist causes pinching in the disks, and all in all if I moved just the wrong way then a nerve would get pinched, sending shooting pain down my back and IT band on the left leg, and the muscles would lock up tight to prevent pressure on that nerve.

The good news was, nothing was really "broken".

Up until then I'd had no idea that muscles could pull bones this way and that, I thought skeletons were rather static and I was stuck with the curve.  My doctors, however, were convinced I could reverse the effects of the scoliosis through training. Over the years I worked with my physical therapist and trainers at the gym to try to even out my back.  Through core and upper body strength training, and a lot of yoga, I've been able to make great improvements on flexibility, mobility, strength, and "balancing the load".  When I stopped having "episodes", I stopped thinking about muscle structure, and what muscle tension could do to the body.  I had a pretty good balance of strength training and flexibility training, so I didn't have to think about it much.

I've recently been reminded of the power of muscles when I began getting twinges.  My back didn't go out fully, but just walking around a store with my purse over my shoulder would cause a very annoying pinch in my back (same spot as always) and I would have to constantly stop, put the purse down, and twist this way and that to get it to stop.  I couldn't understand why this was happening, I'm training more than ever now... I've been working on an advanced yoga class and steadily gaining core strength, able to hold arm balances far longer than I ever have before.  I also felt like my clothes weren't fitting quite right, the hips seemed to be a little out of whack and I just all over felt really short.  (I know I *am* short, but even shorter than usual)  I spent one night laying in front of the TV stretching this way and that, and managed to briefly "unlock" whatever it was, and spent one blissful day without a twinge in the world... then I worked out and it came right back.

It was frustrating as all get out to try to locate the source of this newly reborn pain.. for weeks I concentrated on opening hips and stretching psoas (because that was the culprit in the past) but it never seemed to be quite enough.

Then last week our yoga instructor ended class with a very basic stretch... (no time to photograph myself doing it, but here is an example that is better than I can put into words)

In the past I could do this stretch all the way over... meaning that top hand would be grabbing my toes and my head would rest on my knee.  Last week?  My hand hovered at about the height this photo shows.

I actually said "Oooooohhhh! DUH!" in class (though not loudly)  I've been concentrating really hard on core strength for inversions, and I haven't stretched my sides AT ALL FOR WEEKS.


Yesterday after yoga class ended I went off to the side mats to do a little extra stretching... I took this pose and held it for about 20 very slow breaths, pulling in with every inhale, and leaning further with every exhale.  I slowly let gravity do the work, and eventually got to the point where my fingers met my toes (still not grabbing them though)  I did the same on the other side (left side is much tighter than the right) and was surprised by how long it took me to return up to a normal seating position... I actually had to lay flat on my back after that and catch my breath.  The result though, was a marked improvement after just having done that once.  I could sit in chairs and cars much easier yesterday, without tension on my spine, and I even woke up feeling taller this morning (although that could easily be all in my head)

At any rate... this is clearly a stretch I need to incorporate daily.

It seems that the more yoga I do, the more yoga I need to do.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Scattered and stunted

Last night I was telling D... "lately I've felt very inarticulate."
His response: "Really?  Can you describe what you mean?"
Me: "Well... no... that's sort of the problem."

I found that amusing.  But truly, lately I've felt unusually scattered, inarticulate, and forgetful.  I'm accomplishing things, though at the end of the day I can't quite remember everything that I did accomplish, and along with every accomplishment there is a "but you forgot to..." item right there next to it on the list.  I've had headaches more often, which I try to alleviate with coffee in the mornings and water throughout the day, but they still slow me down.  E-mails are taking me much longer to write than they should, and when someone speaks to me in person my responses feel so random and choppy.

Maybe it is the full moon/ red moon phenomenon we just experienced?  Maybe I burned up all my words composing that long (and as of yet unanswered) e-mail to the transportation department?  Perhaps I just need more sleep?

I'm looking forward to this weekend, where it will be too rainy to mow the lawn, and I have no particular set deadlines for any projects.  In the last couple of weeks I have managed to switch my digital life onto a new laptop, finish the big year-end for work, collect all the ingredients necessary for both my costume and G's (minus potentially buying new boots for me, although shoes are so hard to fit me that I can fall back on my existing hiking boots if necessary), fully decorate the interior of the house for Halloween, host the neighborhood Ladies Bunco Night at my house (complete with costumes), grab lunch with some fellow middle-school-moms who I haven't had time to visit with since August, and attend every one of G's badminton games.  Oh, and I taught myself to read crochet patterns, because it was just bugging me when I see them on Pinterest and don't understand them.

Having costumes done and the interior of the house decorated gives me the ability to breathe a little and enjoy this fall holiday.  Our plans are to get out to an expansive and beautiful pumpkin patch this weekend to pick out our carving pumpkins, and with that, the main running around shall be complete (prior to the halfway mark of the month!  A new record!)

I am hopeful that this outing will also fan the stunted sparks of my photography.  After having backed up and re-sorting all of my work for the computer switch, I've realized how little I've managed to get out and shoot in the last calendar year.  It is understandable, while I would love to plan photography-specific outings, they never do seem to pan out... so my general M.O. is to carry my gear with me on family outings and find something to shoot along the way.  This year we had precious few outings, due to a large yard project, and issues with our bird's health (she is fine now, no worries!) and the few times we did head out they were in kayaks, which meant no big camera for me.  It is probably beneficial for me, given how far behind I am in editing what I shot back in 2013, I feel creatively stunted. 

I recently received an email for a photography seminar in Seattle, and I'm seriously contemplating going, although I'm unfamiliar with the presenters and the subject matter might be redundant.  On the one hand, a refresher course in visualizing composition might breathe some life into my muse, on the other hand I might get anxious spending an entire Sunday at a basic seminar when I could spend those hours out shooting.  I'm still hashing out the pros and cons of it, but as I think about it I'm also reminding myself that I have a lovely book about landscape photography (which I purchased from photographers whom I do admire) that I have yet to read.  It might do me some good to crack that open in the evenings, and spend daylight hours in the field instead of a library.