Friday, September 26, 2014

Realistically speaking...

I try to set realistic goals for myself when it comes to projects.  As I continue to gain experience, my estimations on time do improve slightly... but one can never contend for the unexpected delays in life, even when you add a "buffer zone" in your estimation.

For scrapbooking, I've reached the point where I'm editing photos from 2008 for the digital scrapbook.  If I want to reach my original goal, I'd have to complete this, plus 7 more years of scrapbooks, plus a few vacation albums (because I took too many photos to fit in the regular annual book) by New Years.  This is not happening, but I'm not too disappointed.  I have at least made some good strides forward in this project, and have settled into a groove.

Going back through the photos has been an interesting journey... there are whole events that I cannot recall, even with the photos sitting directly in front of me.  And yet, other photos trigger memories of very small and specific events - the dinner I prepared that night, the 2.5 hour wait for the ferry to cross Puget Sound and how the bathrooms at the ferry terminal smelled like wet dog.  It is interesting how my mind is wired.

As motivated as I am to complete these books and get caught up (if for no other reason, just to prevent the swiss-cheese holes of memories for future books) I realistically re-set my goals to keep in mind that the holidays are coming.  Halloween, G's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years... it all passes in a whirlwind of family visits, decorations up and down and up again, parties, projects related to the holidays, and oh so many big fancy meals (with all the associated dishes to clean afterward)

Maybe before I turn 40, I can get caught up.  Maybe that will be my present to myself? That gives me another 3 months past the holidays... or maybe that's what I should ask for as a birthday celebration - just a nice 4 day retreat someplace where I can finish my books.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Been way too long...

New computer... new schedule... and a renewed commitment to digging myself out of my Hole of Non-Communication.  So I'm attempting, once again, to return to blogging, though the entries will likely be brief - hopefully they won't be so fleeting.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Snow Birding

This morning we awoke to a land of white... the snow which has been attacking Portland for days finally crept it's way up to our neck of the woods.  It is little more than a passing thought, however, as the temperature was only cold enough to snow overnight, and quickly climbed above freezing before noon today.  It was an ideal time for me to head out into the yard with my camera, as the backdrop was a solid lovely white yet the temperature was relatively mild.  I donned my snow gear and shuffled out with my 300mm lens, pausing to listen for chirps or wing movement.

I've noticed that robins do not visit my feeders at all, yet any time I mow the lawn they tend to appear right behind me to take advantage of the newly exposed undergrowth land.  The same was true this morning, only I found the robins bouncing about in the patches of lawn left by G having made snow angels earlier in the day.  As I observed the robins and adjusted my exposure for the bright snow, this robin jumped up to the very edge of one of G's wings to scope things out.

Through the gate and around to the back, I stopped to observe some of the action around my feeders.  We have a resident song sparrow who frequently visits among a flock of juncos.  This morning she was on her own, I found her resting atop of the wood pile on the back edge of the property.

She seemed to be resting, fluffing up her feathers for warmth, so I did not want to disturb her too much by coming too close.  She watched me, though did not seem to go into any high alert mode as long as I stayed back along side one of the trees.

From that vantage point I noticed a thrush at the base of the feeders under the trees.  I attempted a few shots, but with the thrush in the shadows and the white yard in the backdrop, all I could achieve were silhouettes, and the thrush bailed before I could adjust my settings.  He flew first up into the trees, then across the yard to the feeders next to the house.  I traced my tracks back around the edge of the property to the side path, then across the yard towards the chairs in the center of the yard, attempting to use them as a blind.  They were ineffective, being too short to hide behind, and of course I made a lot of noise in the snow.  The thrush enjoyed some seeds at ground level, every so often poking his head around the flower pot to see where I was at.  He was easily startled, though, and made a dash up to the trees.  As I walked away from the trees, towards the house, the thrush came down and landed on the same wood pile as the sparrow.  Now with the forest in the back drop, the lighting was just right so all I needed to do was turn to capture a shot of the bright thrush.

By this time my toes were beginning to feel the chill, so I headed in to warm up with some hot coffee and late-morning yoga.  It was lovely to spend a Sunday morning seeking out signs of life in the wintry silence.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Comprehend and Move On

A couple years back I experienced an unpleasant period of time where I learned that looks can be deceiving... and seemingly lovely and fun people can turn out to be toxic, pathetic bags of douche.  Having been locked into and dragged through a couple of different quagmires, and finally reaching the other end, I've spent the last 6 months trying to readjust to the new "normal" of life.  This is a life freer of the negativity, stress, drama (real and manufactured), confrontation, and nightmares, however this is also a life laced with the underlying stench of the quagmire experience.

In other words... there are residual effects on my behavior after those experiences, and my initial reaction to a given situation can be more reactive than is most likely necessary.  The most prominent example of this is what I call my "bullshit meter" - this internal meter is, more often than not, on a hair-trigger sensitivity level these days.  If I detect a whiff of "this person is full of shit", "this person is selfish", or the worst... "this person is being passive-aggressive"... red flags fly in my mind and my patience drops to zero.

In some instances this isn't that bad of a thing.  I most definitely stand up for myself far better than I did 4 or so years ago, but on the other hand I don't really enjoy the anger that bubbles up as an accompaniment to the recognition of bullshit.  Ideally I would like to be able to simply see it for what it is and deal with it accordingly, minus the rise in blood pressure.  So I have spent the last 6 months or so thinking about this quite a lot, and I have been working on ways to mentally step out of a given situation, take a few deep breaths, and determine the best course of action.  I ask myself, "is this situation worth my time and effort to engage in?  Will anything positive come out of this?  Or do I just add another mark to the 'bullshit' column and remove myself from further hassle?"

Through conversations with good friends, I have refocused my energies on more positive philosophies.  One such wonderful philosophy is this:

"We do our best, and then we let it go."

There is only so much of yourself you can offer to any given situation, and at some point beyond that it is no longer in your hands, nor in your control.  I cannot count how many times in the last year that I have taken a deep breath, let it out slowly, and repeated those words to myself.  The difficulty is in recognizing the point in which to remove your white-knuckled grip from the current position, realize you truly have done all that you can and all that could be expected of you... then let it go and hope for the best.

In a recent discussion, the idea of "forgive and forget" was brought up to me.  Maybe that would help me feel better, if I could "just forgive and forget."

Even before the quagmires I was never a fan of this philosophy.  For one thing, if we "forget" everything, are we not doomed to repeat it?  I don't want to hold grudges by any means, but there is a limit to how often one can (for example) be an hour late to dinner, and if everyone just forgets about it all the time then they are doomed to have cold soup every time they invite Her Tardiness.  Forgive the lateness if you feel like it, but rather than forget about it maybe remember that they are always late and pad the invitation for next time.  Learn from history.
Additionally, forgiveness to me equates to "I understand why you did it, and I'm OK with that, let's hug it out and grab some coffee."  If you truly feel OK about it then great... but there are things in this world which are simply unforgivable.

That's not to say I don't seek to understand where the other individual is coming from.  In fact I am probably curious to a fault in that I will mull things over and ask repeated questions in an effort to understand exactly why someone said the thing they said, or did the thing they did.  Once I comprehend the why, then I reach that crossroads of decision; to continue to put effort into this situation to find a solution, or take another path.  In either case, my goal is to 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.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Photography Site Update: Butterfly Gallery

I've decided it would be a good idea to combine my Photography goals with my Communication goals, and communicate an update to my photography site.  I finally took the time to look up all the names of each species of butterfly so that I could complete and publish this Butterfly Album update