Writing Prompt Wednesday 10/23/13

This week has been painfully long. Not really sure why, it just has. All day Monday, I was sure it was later in the week. In fact, about midway through, I’d have bet every dollar I had that it was Wednesday. Really. I figure part of it is the whole ‘changing season’ thing, which, as I mentioned previously, is difficult for me. The rest is a lot of stuff going on personally. There’s stuff I can control, and stuff I can’t. I’m trying to focus on the stuff I can so I don’t become immobilized by the stuff I can’t, and everything becomes overwhelming. Oops, too late.

Photowalk 388b
From October 5th’s Photowalk

When I woke up Saturday morning, the plan was to do laundry in the morning, and go out shooting pictures that afternoon. The weather didn’t cooperate, and my mood didn’t help. I did neither. I stayed inside the entire time. I did go through photos I’d shot the previous Monday, finally, so at least there’s that. I could do without the dark and cold, but I love the changing leaves.

I was off Monday for the federal holiday. I think I mentioned that before. That morning, I had a physical scheduled. Which reminds me, I need to check for results on the website. That afternoon, I had another appointment. That gave me about three hours in between, to eat (I had to fast for the blood draw) and kill some time. I decided it would be a good time to visit Eden Park, see what the trees looked like. It was a federal holiday, but most people still had to work, so it wouldn’t be crowded. Perfect time to see what I could do at the Overlook, or maybe enjoy a less-crowded Krohn Conservatory. Except the Krohn is closed on Mondays. Well, they’re open Tuesday through Sunday – they need a day to take care of things I guess.

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Haven’t been able to figure out what this is.

Still, I only had two hours by the time I got there, and a trip through the Krohn would have seriously eaten into that time, so I suppose it wasn’t a bad thing. Instead, I spent my time in the area around it. I started off with flowers beside it, flowers that were perhaps the last blooms of the year, attracting all sorts of nectar-loving creatures. I saw four different types of bees. I managed to get pictures of three of them. I got the fourth, too, but it was too small to show up (sweat bee). I was a little impressed with the shots I got, if I’m honest. Thing is, after the first ten or so, it wasn’t so much about the pictures as it was the time spent in the sun, thinking of nothing but the next shot, trying to catch bees on the move, trying to look as non-threatening as possible (there were a lot of them), living in the moment.

When I started, I didn’t realize it was closed; I had some helpful patrons who were there for pretty much the same reason I originally thought I was, who found it was closed. His wife had the day off, too. I don’t know, maybe she was a teacher or a government employee. Not Federal, of course, although they would have been off for the day, too. Lots of time to kill when you’re furloughed. No, I’m not going to get into that; ugly period of time, still lots of lies and half-truths out there, and it doesn’t change the fact that we’d probably do well to start from scratch and find people who – while strong in their convictions – are willing to compromise, work to find what is best for the whole country, not just their constituents. Still toying with the idea of starting a petition, requiring Congresspersons to wear a jumpsuit covered in patches showing who’s sponsoring them.

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This one is kinda neat AND kinda creepy

So I was starting with the flowers and the bees. It was sunny, and a little warm, even. Sort of miss that – I had to scrape ice off my car yesterday morning. Once I heard the Krohn was closed, I took a moment to decide what I would do. I stayed with the flowers and the bees. Not the whole time, but quite a long time.  I walked past the front entrance, looking just to be sure. There were people inside, but they were likely volunteers, helping with maintenance. The front doors were locked, definitely locked.

The large patch of flowers and bees is on the eastern side of Krohn. To the west of Krohn is the magnolia garden, where I’ve taken a good shot or two. Of course, it’s October, so the magnolia blooms are long gone. The leaves on the trees hadn’t turned, yet – they were still a shiny green. The trees had fuzzy green buds all over them, though; magnolias to be. Depending on how winter went, it will be about six months, give or take a week, before they would bloom again. I intend to be there.

So anyway, it’s been a difficult few weeks. I’m going to stick with that as the reason why it’s been so difficult for me to keep my promises to myself. As compensation, I offer this video of a little girl dancing to the beat of her own tune, much to the delight of the audience. The original video has been marked private, and comments have been deleted, because the owner, who wants credit, doesn’t quite understand how that works.

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Photowalk 343a
From 2013 Worldwide Photo Walk – Lytle Park, Cincinnati

I haven’t been very good at keeping a few promises to myself, lately. One of which, obviously, was the writing. Well…when the weather starts to be more often cold than warm, and it becomes more dark than light, I find it hard to keep a lot of promises to myself. Best I can do is to promise myself to get out of bed, bathe, eat, and go to work. The rest this time of year is gravy. I do love fall, I really do. I don’t like what comes after it; I spend a lot of time being miserable. I know the change of season affects everyone. But, as in many other things, not everyone responds the same.

Part of it may well be self-imposed, since I’m well aware by now how this time of year affects me, but not all. I do try to be up and about; I wouldn’t be able to get out and enjoy the crispy leaves, the smell of their death fresh in the air, the trees promising more after their rest. Oh, and the apples. How I LOVE going to an orchard on the side of the road and just picking a sack of apples picked from the trees just out back. Of course, as more corporations take over farms, fewer and fewer of these are purely family operations – most just can’t afford that anymore – but it’s still a nice little illusion. Makes me think of one of our northern suburbs, Mason. Before I moved to Colorado, I worked up there. Nasty commute – I-71 was undergoing construction through that area, so it turned a bad commute into an awful one. The area isn’t built for the amount of traffic it sees, either, so most people avoid it, particularly during rush hour, if they can.

While I was working up there, it wasn’t too overdeveloped just yet. I could drive down the road about a mile and hit a farm or two. And when I remembered, and timed it right, there was one that sold produce out of their home, right off the screened-in porch. They had a couple of mini schnauzers. Thanks to the dog I grew up with, I have a soft spot for mini schnauzers, so that was just a nice little bonus for me. They sold whatever was fresh that time of year. Silver ear corn right around September, beautiful apples right about now. I don’t know what else they sold throughout the year, because I never remembered in time. It’s gone, now. Across the street from there is a generic strip mall, full of stores you can find anywhere, laid out the same as just about anywhere. That strip mall in Mason is almost identical to a new one in Briargate, a suburb of Colorado Springs. The only significant difference – you can see Pikes Peak from the one in Briargate. Otherwise, it might as well be the same place (as I say often, the homogenization of America continues apace).

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First set of photos with my new camera.

Some of the best times with my mother were this time of year. She loved the fall. She couldn’t really tolerate the high heat, especially once the MS started taking over. Until then, though, we would go on road trips just for the leaves and the orchards. My father takes a lot of snapshots so he can save his memories. Mom did that too, but she also took photos for the beauty of the shot. One of my friends posted a self-portrait showing her hands and a camera over her face, saying that was how her children were likely going to remember her. I mentioned she looked just like my mother, except her forehead said “Minolta.” She loved photography, and when she wasn’t trying to talk me out of pursuing it in any sort of way, she would take the time to show me things. I learned about aperture and shutter speed, and tricks you can do with each, from her. Processing film was too expensive for me, though, so I didn’t get to experiment as much as I’d have liked. This is one of the best things about digital photography, I think. Otherwise, I do prefer film. Digital is rigid. No matter how many pixels your photo has, there is a point where it’s just a dot. They’ve gotten MUCH better, but it’s still there. With film, those sharp edges aren’t there. Still, too expensive, even moreso with the popularity of digital over film.

Now I have two digital cameras I use – one is my last point-and-shoot, a very good camera for its class, and one is my DSLR, almost the bottom of the line. Gotta go with what you can afford, you know. The camera I really want costs more than I spent on my current one for just the body. And used is tricky – quite often, they’ve been abused by their previous owners and there may be something in there that just doesn’t work the way you need it to. It’s a risk. Might be worth taking, though. Lenses are another story. Those get very expensive, too. For now, I am happy with my setup. It’s mine, and it is good enough to get started. I want to buy my next camera with money I earned from my photos.

Speaking of, the opportunity for showing is sort of on the back burner right now. They only do it one night a week, and it’s the one night I’m already committed to something very important to me, necessary for my own mental health – my choir. I didn’t realize how important it was to me until I didn’t have it anymore. Not didn’t have it but it was available, just didn’t have it at all. Shortly before I left Colorado Springs, I auditioned for the Colorado Springs chorale. I needed to practice, desperately, but I didn’t have access to a piano or accompanist. What I sang didn’t matter so much as how, and I sang half a pitch high. I’d been practicing without music for so long, I transposed it up. They tried other things, too, and knew that I could definitely follow a pitch when it was given, just needed to practice with someone. The director asked me – not recommended, not suggested, but asked me – to get with a voice teacher so I could get a little more practice, then come back and audition in six months when they held the next auditions. They don’t do that – usually when you blow an audition, they say “thank you, we have all we need.” That flubbed audition gave me a bit more confidence in myself. It’s still not easy for me to sing solo, but it’s a lot easier.

And again, this time of year, all my energy is put into functioning. Luckily, I have a number of friends who know what this season can do to me, because it does it to them or to someone they love. They won’t leave me alone, even when I want them to. Gets annoying sometimes, but it’s worth it knowing there’s someone out there who will come knocking on my door if they don’t hear from me in a while. I had that in Colorado, too, but it was just one person, dealing with her own complicated life. We didn’t always have the energy to check on each other. No, I will gladly take all those days when they irritate me (because on those days, everyone irritates me); it reminds me that someone is paying attention, and someone does care.

Satyr But Wiser
Pretty special when you can make a satyr blush…

Speaking of, I need to get breakfast and a shower. I’m going to the Ohio Renaissance Festival with one of them later today. Seems to be becoming something of a regular thing, since I’ve been with her for the last two years. Getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I’m really looking forward to it.

Writing Prompt Wednesday 10/03/13

It’s been an interesting two weeks. Well, ‘interesting’ in the (alleged) Chinese Curse sort of way. Last week just got by me completely, and I’m not sure why. There’s a bit going on personally, some good, some bad. For instance, Monday, I discovered I am violently allergic to one of my friends’ perfume. The amount she wears is minimal, and doesn’t bother me unless I’m close. Spray a lot of it, and I can’t breathe. Not right away, of course, but within I wanna say 20 minutes. It was actually bad enough that I went home for the day. I tried to stick it out for an important department-wide call at 3, but I was getting dizzy from lack of oxygen. Figured I could either leave on my own, or be carried out. I didn’t have my iPad with me, and my Galaxy tablet wasn’t fully-charged, so spending time in an ER did not appeal…

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To cheer myself up a bit: A blanket my father made for his future granddaughter. He’s good, isn’t he?

I also am looking at putting photographs on display. My brother was kind enough to check around and see who he knew in the arts community – after looking over my work and telling me what he thought (MAJOR confidence boost). Anyway, I’ve been in touch with the person who runs an art night at a local bar. I have to make some prints, and fast. I’m realizing how far behind I really am on my editing; I still haven’t completed my shots from Daytona over a month ago. Well, season’s change, days get shorter, and I lose energy.

That’s what I’m fighting right now, actually; bit of melancholy in my world, making it more difficult to function. I’m aware of it, making it a bit easier to watch and even head off the worst of it, but it seems life is conspiring against me. At least, that’s how it feels. That’s actually one of the bigger clues that I’m on the way down. How do I head it off? I force myself to go out, spend time with friends, even if I feel miserable. Especially if I feel miserable. I have friends who understand that and who don’t try to cheer me up, but they’re there, and their presence means more than anything at a time like that. Yes, I had to do the there/they’re/their thing. I wasn’t gonna, but I’d already used two of them, so…

Fountain Flare
Not from the Photowalk, but it is from the point-and-shoot I used.

This Saturday, for instance, is the Worldwide Scott Kelby Photowalk. I did this a few years ago when I was living in Colorado. I was the only one in the group with a point-and-shoot (albeit a good one), but I was out there for that very reason. I wanted to show what a point-and-shoot could do. Hubris, anyone? It was fun, and I learned a bit and tried new things. That’s what really mattered.

Oh well, back to the prompts. I had to choose another one – the one I first picked, I’d already used. I might revisit some of these anyway, just to get a feel for where my head is at different points in my life.

Prompt 321 – Amy Tidwell and Jason Engler meet on an airplane. One of them becomes resigned to his or her fate.

My attention span is non-existent, now. It’s just not there. There are sleep-deprived two-year-olds that can pay attention better. I think…well, it’s taken me a while to get this far, and I don’t seem to be able to progress any further. Closing in on two hours, now. I think it’s time to cut bait. I will save this prompt for another time. It’s supposed to be fun, not something I only do because I have to do it. Not tomorrow – I have choir rehearsal tomorrow, and before that, I have someone I’m helping to learn how to read music. Which reminds me – I need to put something together for that.