Meaning

I thought I’d try early morning again, since that seems to be when my brain is the least cluttered. Right this moment, I’m trying to hang on to a dream I remember from shortly before I woke up. I was in the street with a bunch of people, and we had all of our stuff out on display for some reason. I don’t recall it being a yard sale or festival or anything, we just had our stuff out. One of my friends from college was there, too. As far as I know, she’d never featured into any of my dreams before. Anyway, she’s a sweet, adorable person, bubbly, with a wicked sense of humor. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been married.

Crack in Time
This is just crack in the fabric of time I spotted over Palmer Park, Colorado. Whovians should recognize it…

So we’re out in the street, talking about our stuff, a couple of dogs walking in between everyone, when a – hmm, what’s a good collective noun for this – swarm of witches, traditional Halloween witches, black pointy hats, flying on brooms, cackling, swoops by and lifts a few things. Well, that was irritating, but they were gone before we could do anything. Just as things are getting back to normal, another, larger swarm swoops in, but they don’t just fly through; some of them hover, taunt us, threaten us, take more of our things. We try to stand up to them. The first person – my friend from college, in fact – is struck down with a blast from the hand of one; we are momentarily cowed. Another dismounts and comes over to where I’m standing, takes something with some meaning to me, and gleefully smashes it on the table in front of me. I object, quite loudly.

This angers them. Instead of lashing out at me directly, however, they take one of the dogs away. A gurney covered in steaks – good cuts, too – is wheeled into the middle of the street. Beneath the steaks is a person. It’s starting to fade a bit, so I don’t remember if it was one of them, to be resurrected, or one of us on the street. Might have changed from the person who was struck down to one of them to be revived. The dogs that are left are curious, because there’s the smell of fresh meat all over the place. We, on the other hand, are horrified. The person on the table is not whole, but will be cobbled together from all those steaks, and a brain from the dog they captured.

Then it gets weird.

That’s the last dream I remember. Usually when I can remember my dreams, it means I didn’t sleep well. Some of the dreams I recall are just too weird to understand, and seem they can be nothing more than my mind roaming free; others, like this one, seem to be open to interpretation. Unable to get my mind to shut up and let me go back to sleep – really pretty common for me – I let it go, bubbling away, determining if there is any meaning that can be extracted, and deciphering what that might be.

The last dream I recall that had me thinking included a very pregnant person. Extremely pregnant. Like a month overdue. The baby was more than large enough to be born; looking at her belly you could see its feet and legs and elbows and head whenever it moved. I can’t remember the rest of the dream, other than to say there was a bit of relief when she finally gave birth. What I can remember is it was mentioned that this could represent a major change in my life, something that has already drastically altered my future, or is about to. I can’t remember who it was that was pregnant, either, but I recall it being someone important, and the fact that it was a huge event, and very, very late, factored into the conversations. Then there was buzzing again and I rolled over and woke up. Get congested when I lie down, makes me snore a little. I sleep on my stomach, so Breathe Right strips don’t really work for me. The real thing lasted longer than the store brand ones I tried – those didn’t even make it to lights out – but eventually, they do come off long before I wake up. Also, there’s my window air conditioner. Small house, it shakes the whole place when the fan speed is high enough – medium. That could also be causing the buzzing.

Alms Sky_0118a
Sunshine after a storm

But I digress.* The pregnant woman possibly means a major change, one that is traumatic and positive, and incredibly past due. The one with the witches means there is something stopping me from going forward, something I perceive as unavoidable, inevitable, powerful, and not very nice. Both of those do apply in my life, quite easily. It’s pretty obvious that it’s something that’s been preying on my mind for some time. I do have a very good idea what both of them are referring to; it’s a tricky situation. There are so many things involved, so many moving pieces, that “just do it” doesn’t work. I have to try and prepare for this future that is coming, heeding the warnings of my past. Money would help. A lot.

So I suppose in the immortal words of Roonil Wazlib, I’m gonna suffer, but I’ll be happy about it.

I’m off work this coming week. Friday is a holiday anyway (Independence Day), so I only used three vacation days, and a day I got for donating at or above a particular minimum to ArtsWave. That’s not why I did it, the day is just a bonus far as I’m concerned. Even though we have a vibrant arts community here, every little bit helps. This donation is the way I can.  That reminds me, I need to see if this also means discounted tickets to a new opera that’s being performed here in a couple weeks. If I see no other this season – and I’m broke enough that I probably won’t – I want to see this one.

Well, whaddaya know? Writing first thing in the morning does help. Less than an hour^, and I believe I’m done. When I wait and do it later in the day, it takes hours. That’s a large part of why I haven’t posted on Wednesday in a while; by the time I get home from work, I’m exhausted, fresh out of energy. But now, my day is just beginning, as is my week. New choices to be made, new opportunities to explore, time to rest, to recover, to visit the Museum Center. I want to see the Diana exhibit; I really didn’t want to go on a weekend. I doubt it would be as crowded as it was for the Dead Sea Scrolls – thanks to the kindness of church friends and a cancelled date, I got to go not only with a group of friends and people I knew, but with a very knowledgeable leader who gave us more than the audio tour ever could – but I expect it will still be crowded. Other than that, I have plans for Friday morning/afternoon, and Saturday is going to be very busy indeed. Two grill-outs, one right after the other.

One day this week, I’d like to greet the sunrise from one of our parks. I’m in a valley here, so I don’t see the sun until it’s well up. The moon, either. Just light filtered through trees, showering us with what’s left after traveling over higher, often wealthier, places.

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*I had to say it at least once
^Not counting the proofreading and editing. Yes, I do proofread before I post.

Lacuna

Lots going on, much stress little energy, so on and so forth. Something had to give; unfortunately for me, it was the things I enjoy – writing this blog and taking photographs. I haven’t been out with my camera in almost two weeks. It’s summer for crying out loud! Officially so today. I need to do something about that, not let it go on any longer.

Alms Sky_0022b
Heavy rains and temps in the upper 80s. Bit steamy when the sun finally came out.

As you might know, I do a bit of photography. Because of that, I notice things like light and shadow. I think most visual artists do. Occupational hazard. If you don’t notice, not really sure how you accomplish anything. Something I’d noticed when I moved back to Ohio from Colorado was the way the sun – particularly in the summer – brightens up the area. It’s quite a bit more humid here than it is in Colorado. The air out there is thin enough, it can’t hold much water at all. It rains at 50% humidity. Here, on the other hand, the air is plenty strong enough that even at 100% humidity, it’s not necessarily going to rain. Miserable then, because when that happens there’s also rarely a breeze to move it around, unless it’s just blowing across the ground, lifting the heat from the sidewalk, because it just wasn’t radiating enough heat.

Gets a little unpleasant.

Anyway, what I’d noticed is how the humidity affects the quality of the light. I figure the humidity in the air acts much like a magnifying glass does*; the best word I can think for it is sharp. When it’s really humid, if you pay attention, it almost seems that you can see individual water droplets. Each one of those has a little light from the sun in it, a pinprick of energy and heat, magnified by the sheer number of droplets in the air.

That’s the best way I can explain it. It makes the light more golden, regardless of the time of day, providing a coloring I only saw at sunset or sunrise (I did see a few of those) in Colorado. Even when it rained, which wasn’t often, I didn’t see it after it stopped. Not enough moisture in the air, I guess. I haven’t figured out, yet, how to make that work for me.

With all those tiny droplets and their tiny point of energy from the sun, just hanging there, not moving, it gets oppressively hot. At least, that’s my theory. I suppose I could actually look that sort of thing up and see how accurate it is, but I don’t wanna. Any atmospheric scientists out there want to comment? No? Okay. If you change your mind…

Sometimes I think out loud^; gets a little weird.

For instance, one of the things that’s crossed my mind most recently – it has in the past, too, if I’m honest – is what is my alignment? Lawful Good? Neutral Evil? These are important questions.+

I've gotten different results, but this one came up most.
Loki is Chaotic Neutral IMO; in most incarnations anyway.

If I were a made-up person – a topic for another discussion, perhaps – would I be one who follows the rules/laws because they are the rules/laws, and without them there would be anarchy? Would I do what I could to get what I want, regardless of the consequences to others? Would I be the type of person who does good even if it is breaking the law?

Well, because this is the internet, someone has already made such a test. Naturally, I had to take it to see how I shake out. Gotta admit, not particularly surprised with the result.

True Neutral

Pathfinder Alignment Test

True Neutral or Neutral Neutral, is called the “Undecided” or “Nature’s” alignment. This alignment represents Neutral on both axes, and tends not to feel strongly towards any alignment. A farmer whose primary overriding concern is to feed his family is of this alignment. Most animals, lacking the capacity for moral judgment, are of this alignment. Many roguish characters who play all sides to suit themselves are also of this alignment. Some Neutral characters, rather than feeling undecided, are committed to a balance between the alignments. They may see good, evil, law and chaos as simply prejudices and dangerous extremes. Mordenkainen is one such character who takes this concept to the extreme, dedicating himself to a detached philosophy of neutrality to ensure that no one alignment or power takes control.

I did mention the fatigue and exhaustion, right? Well, it’s affecting my attention span, too. There’s a reason I preferred to write these first thing in the morning instead of the middle of the day. I do have some time off coming up. Not going anywhere, but I do have a few things I’ll be attending. My HS alumni picnic, for instance. Special kind of family, that. Some of us have some incredible life events since graduating, but there was something special about that place that defined our lives. A lot of valuable life lessons learned there, and in a relatively safe environment that nonetheless taught us about disappointment and loss, social politics, and how to work effectively with people you can’t stand. I was always a bit jealous of those who got to be there from 4th grade on.

Well, I have work to do. It’s Saturday; it’s the first day of Summer in the northern half of the globe. The longest day of the year. Go out and enjoy it – it’s all downhill from here.

 

Alms Sky_0009a
Grab a basket, have a picnic. Enjoy the first day of summer.

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*Because surely no scientist in the history of the world ever considered how water behaves like a magnifying glass and increases the focus of light or anything.

^Think out loud, type out loud, potato, potahto.

+Fly, Geek Flag, fly!

Summertime

Last night, I re-watched the Pixar movie “Up.” I was inspired to write about Pixar movies, and how they’ve gone downhill since the acquisition by Disney. Before they just worked with them. There were a few movies that came out after, but all had been worked on before – Ratatouille, 2007, Wall-E, 2008, and Toy Story 3, 2010. Those weren’t the only three, but they were the last three I’d seen that still looked like Pixar, unmolested and pure. I watched Cars 2 and Brave – they felt empty and sad. Monsters University looked like little more than an attempt to give the money tree one more shake; at least that’s how it seemed from the previews. Won’t be seeing that one until they show it on the Disney channel. As for Planes, Pixar wouldn’t even put their name on it. Looked like Cars in the sky; according to one friend with younger kids, that’s pretty much what it was. A bit on the pathetic side.

Garden of the Gods - Kodak Easyshare CX7330
Kinda looks like radiator springs, right?

I’ve seen the Muppet movies since Disney took over, and they’ve lost something, too. The original three Muppet movies had a little something for all ages, much like the television show did. There was a lot for the kiddies, and a gag or two thrown in for the adults that the kids wouldn’t get for another decade or so. Not dirty, just more complex. Well, the show had a few that were a little smudged, let’s say.

Time was, Disney was the gold standard for entertainment. Now it’s just about gold. The Princess and the Frog, that was a good Disney movie. It wasn’t like Shrek, full of popular references that will mean nothing a couple decades from its release (Robin Williams’ Genie did that a few times when he was ad libbing), but a classic. Brave tried to be a classic, but Disney’s heart wasn’t in it. Proven by the fact that as soon as they could, they changed Merida from a pre-teen girl into a story prompt for Rule 34*.

Pixar was making classics, movies without pervasive contemporary references, movies that stand up to the test of time. If Disney were still that company, it would have been a match made in heaven. That is, if neither Jeffrey Katzenberg (now of DreamWorks) and Steve Jobs (now of the ether) were involved.

Instead, Pixar has been neutered, and Disney has become a cash register. I want the Pixar who gave us the Toy Story trilogy, who taught us how to love a hunk of scrap metal watching a videotape of Hello Dolly, who made us wonder if having a meal prepared by a rat – as long as it went through the dishwasher – would be so bad.

Trust me, that’s far more interesting than what I’d written before. It was boring me. Anyway, the past couple weeks have been more exciting than I’d like. In transition at work, going from supporting one region to another, from an emerging market to an established one. The difference between the two is night and day. At one end, the company is trying to make a name for itself in a seemingly saturated market. At the other, I don’t generally have to repeat the name of where I work to the third-party companies I deal with, because everyone’s heard of it. The switch between the two is a bit on the challenging side, but any change is.

Aside from that, though, I replaced two tires. I had a rear tire that had gone flat a few times. I’d used the flat fix, and that gave me a few more weeks, but it didn’t last. My front two tires have been bald for years. Amazing what you’ll put up with when you’re too broke to fix stuff. I’d planned to just replace the rear two tires, and put the oldest/newest one back on the car as a spare. It was a spare before. The manager thought it might be better to switch out the front two tires and repair the flat one. Once all that was done, I learned something – even on dry roads, tread makes a difference in drivability. The tech who did all the work came up with an 11th hour suggestion of using one of the old tires as a spare, since my spare was actually the blown tire I had gotten in Colorado, when that one kept going flat. The shop was already closed for the evening, and the tire was off the rim, so what I have is a tire in my back seat, and a blown spare on my car. Nice. Can probably find someone in the family to help take care of that.

Alms Sky_0175b
The clouds were retreating – Alms Park

Thursday morning I had another unpleasant surprise. I went out to start my car and got a sick-sounding beep, a few clicks, then nothing. There was a little pause and my radio tried to come on, but that was it. Tried again, listening to everything, hoping it wasn’t something expensive. Having grown up with used cars, older ones at that, I’ve grown attuned to the little clicks and pings of my car, and can usually pinpoint the source. Being female, it helps to be able to tell when a mechanic is selling you a bill of goods^.

Fortunately, it was the battery. Unfortunately, it meant I was going to be late to work. I called my sister, and she was able to come give me a jump, so I could get to work. When I turned the key once I’d parked, I felt it die. I knew that car wasn’t going to turn over again without help. I knew it was coming, that it was just a matter of time; I expected a little more warning though, y’know? Just the day before, I’d gone to work, stopped at home to pick up my camera, and headed out to a park to try and catch the tail-end of the weather. It had been raining all day, but whenever the sun came out, it was obnoxiously hot (which reminds me of another topic I’ve not been able to flesh out – the intensity of the sun in very humid air), so once I got back into my car, I had the AC on. Absolutely nothing in there hinting at a dying battery.

After work, I called my sister again. She sent my nephew to jump my car once more. I drove home. I cleaned the terminals as best I could and tried once more. Nothing but that sad beeping – a little stronger with the clean terminals, but still sad – and a delayed radio. I tried to take the battery out myself. I don’t have the right tools for that. Very frustrating. Called my brother-in-law, and we took a field trip to an auto store, battery in hand. Long story short, my car starts again.

Could have been worse – replacing my alternator was almost three times as much as I spent on both battery AND tires.

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*Just in case you’d rather not look that up, it’s just an internet rule that says if it exists, there’s porn of it somewhere. Be mindful, for instance, of the search terms used when you’re looking for My Little Pony.

^That’s right, I speak in 1950s from time to time.

Time in a Bottle

Mt Echo Hoops_0289a
View of the western side of downtown Cincinnati

For the summer, at least, it would seem I’ve given up on writing on Saturdays. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It means I’m busy doing something else, instead of sitting at home writing. Today I’m sitting at home because 1) I’m tired, 2) my feet are killing me, 3) I have photos to edit, and 4) I have ribs to cook. These are important things. My feet are sore from years of abuse, between shoes and excess weight, added to the wonky hips and back already; I have to find the paper with referrals for podiatrists. This getting old thing sucks.

So, now what?

It’s been four weeks since my tooth extraction. The hole is filling in, which is weird. Can’t help but imagine all these little fibers of gum being thrown from one side of the chasm to the other by teeny mountaineers, making the hole whole again. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

I’m still reeling from the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou. I don’t know why, it’s not like she’s the first major personality in my life to pass, and she surely won’t be the last. It wasn’t even a shock, really. Just two days before, on her Facebook page, she’d mentioned that she had to cancel an event due to a medical emergency, with doctors suggesting she not travel.

Maya Angelou
May 26
An unexpected medical emergency caused me the greatest disappointment of having to cancel my visit to the Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game ceremony. I am so proud to be selected as its honoree. However, my doctors told me it would be unadvisable for me to travel at that time. My thanks to Robin Roberts for speaking up for me and thank you for all your prayers. I am each day better.

Why has that hit me so hard? All I can figure is so many of the figures I grew up with, looked up to, are aging, and reaching the point where their bodies simply wear out. Hers wore out. Still, I’m here. Bruised, broken, at times beaten, but here. I go on.*

Mt Echo Hoops_0016a
A group of people working together to create an atmosphere. No one trying to be the star, but allowing others if they so chose.

Dr. Angelou’s passing usurped the original topic of that day, the event I attended put on by Cincinnati Flow Arts and Drum Circle. It’s something I’d been meaning to do, not so much to be there and hoop or dance or “be,” but to photograph and observe, in an atmosphere where I didn’t feel like I had to hide to get the shot I wanted. It was an interesting evening. I actually hadn’t planned on going anywhere. It was Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day, and a few days from the end of the month, so work was a little – chaotic. Tuesday is my day to stay until 5, so usually I come home Tuesday really worn out. This past Tuesday was no different. Plus, it was warm. Really warm. Mid-80s warm. And humid, because that’s what it does here. August is going to suck. Never did like August. Well, okay, I take that back, I do love August nights. Especially later in the month. Nothing like sitting outside listening to the creatures in the trees chirping and singing away, no breeze to disturb them, the earth cooling, the moisture dropping out of the air that has become too cold to hold it. Still warm, still humid, still summer – a sultry night, where the air caresses, rather than clings, the last dying gasp of summer. Heavenly.

Right, event.^

It was steamy, not quite oppressive, although I’m far more sensitive to heat than I used to be, which is incredibly frustrating. I turned on my computer to spend the evening in the AC, shrugging the day off my shoulders, maybe kill some barbarians or something. I’d just gotten home from a mechanic; a tire that’s been going flat for a while finally gave up the ghost. They didn’t have the size I needed, so I had to go back on Wednesday and spend money I really didn’t want to spend on something I desperately needed years ago. So I got on the computer, looking to visit with friends and see what’s gone on in the world. There was an invitation from my brother to attend that evening’s hooping and drumming celebration. My flattening tire had been inflated at the garage, although it was still in need of repair or replacement (wound up with repair – there were three nails in it, apparently), and my front tires, bald as Picard, waiting to be replaced. Didn’t really give those much thought, since I’d been driving on them like that for so long. I was more concerned about the rear one. My last misgiving about leaving the house, driving across town to an event outside faded as I was walking out the door with my camera. I knew where I was going, and I knew who was over there, and who was likely to be there. I knew that if for some reason, I couldn’t drive my car, I wouldn’t be stranded.

So I went.

2014-05-27 Mt Echo Hoops_0036a
Photo my brother took with my camera

It was still pretty light out. This time of year, we don’t have complete darkness until after 9. Headlights are needed by about 8:30, but not really before. I had some time to wait. See, one of the reasons I wanted to go – the main reason, if I’m honest – was because when it’s dark, the lights come out. Not the ones on the pavilion, the ones on the hoops. It was an opportunity, I thought, to practice long-exposure photography without a tripod (because I didn’t think to grab it). I was going for the visual stimulation, not the community or sense of peace and rightness that the others wanted. Thing is, when you find yourself in a community, a welcoming group with the goal of acceptance and even love, it kinda rubs off a little. I did shoot a bit, I even joined the drummers for a moment or two, while my brother borrowed my camera.

The crowd was surprisingly diverse. That may mean that people are starting to loosen up expectations. It probably also means I have some preconceptions to work on.

Finally, it started to get dark. I’ve taken longer exposure photos without a tripod or any other resting place for my camera. Sometimes it’s necessary; can’t use a flash everywhere. Plant your feet, tuck your arms at your sides, take a breath, hold it, aim, shoot, breathe. The heavier the camera, or longer the focus, the trickier it gets. Generally, anything longer than a quarter of a second is probably as slow as you want the shutter to go. Make up the difference with the ISO (equivalent to film speed), and if at all possible, aperture size (smaller number, bigger aperture). I think my patience paid off.

Mt Echo Hoops_0100a
Still early, but dark enough for the lights to come on.

 

Mt Echo Hoops_0199a
This is why long exposure.
Mt Echo Hoops_0262a
This young lady was fun to watch. I’m sure I have a couple dozen photos of just her, with and without the lights.

All in all, even though it made the next day difficult – remember to drink water when it’s humid and hot – it was worth my effort, worth my time. I’ll be going back to other events throughout the summer. The photo ops are great; I really liked the environment.
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*I used to write a lot of poetry. Not much of it rhymed. It wasn’t bad. Probably couldn’t make a living with it. Anyway, it seemed wrong to not conclude with a somewhat poetic final statement.

^Thinking about that blog renaming thing again.