Off-Kilter

It’s been an interesting few months. I think. I mean, I don’t really remember. My days have gone by quickly, too quickly to count. That usually happens when you’re having fun. I haven’t been having fun. As I mentioned last week, I’ve missed things. Reality and I have parted ways, it would seem, and I’m trying to get it back. I had an idea for this week, something light and humorous, but I didn’t write it down; if I don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. I did, however, do something I haven’t done in entirely too long – went out with my camera. I just got back, actually, and am in the process of downloading to see what I got. I tried out my new monopod. I find that after a while, my hands aren’t as steady as they used to be. Not sure what that is, if it’s age or indirectly related to the PKD or what, but pictures that I could take a year ago, or even in the first half-hour of a shoot, I can’t. Not without some stabilizing tool.

Oh, don’t worry, I won’t recount the exciting details of the download, or provide a timeline of the editing, and selection. Instead, I’ll just show.

It took quite a bit longer than I expected. I got distracted. The monopod, by the way, did help in some instances.

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Smale Park fountain, near Carol Ann’s Carousel, Cincinnati, OH
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Smale Riverfront Park near Carol Ann’s Carousel. Cincinnati, OH
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Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati, OH
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Great American Tower and Ballpark, Cincinnati, OH
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Smale Riverfront Park and the Roebling Suspension Bridge, Cincinnati, OH
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Downtown Cincinnati from Mt Echo Park.

There were frustrations. My knee has been acting up – it’s gone out on me twice in the past couple weeks so far – and my camera sensor needs to be cleaned, but I managed to make myself leave the house and enjoy myself. Not long, it was getting hot and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, but long enough.

Maybe next time.

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Finally, Suddenly August

It’s storming right now, lightning flashing, thunder rumbling, and I’m enjoying a healthy breakfast of gummy bears†. Been a few days since we’ve had one. It was bound to happen; we’ve had a series of warm*, sunny days, and at some point a cool front was going to blow through, which inevitably means storms. Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from going back to sleep. If it were a little later in the morning (wasn’t quite 5:30), and if I lived in a different part of town, I might have grabbed my camera and searched for a place to try and capture it. Not really sure where I’d go, to be honest, it’s not something I ever tried to capture here.

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Serpentine Wall at the end of June. River’s gone down a bit since then.

I took a long weekend. Too many things in my head, in my world, to deal with right now, I needed a mental health day. So I took two. Friday I slept in until 7:30 (Ooh!), and didn’t leave until time for the wine tasting. I couldn’t miss that. Really poor turnout, not sure what happened there. There were four people left at twenty to six; it was weird. Still, I stayed. What else did I have to do? Stomach hurt, not sure what that was about, hips have been bothering me, because I’m too fat for them (it’s more than that, but that’s not helping), and I was exhausted because I’d been exhausted for the past three weeks, but I wanted to go deal with people for a bit. It happens.

Saturday I met a friend for lunch at one of the many restaurants in OTR, one of my favorites, and hung out for a bit on the Serpentine Wall. We even rented a surrey, with the fringe on top‡. I did not have my camera with me. I also didn’t on Sunday, when I was at my niece’s bridal shower. It was hot. Really hot. Not complaining, the alternative is cold. I’ll deal with the walking-out-the-door-and-wondering-why-you-bothered-to-shower feeling over freezing. Today should be exciting; I’ll either do laundry (have to go to the laundromat), or re-watch Mr. Robot. It’s a good show, intelligent. It would never last on network television since it requires actual thought. I could also see about binging on Supernatural. I guess it depends on whether it clears up, and if I feel like having a day where I don’t move. Been over an hour since I got up, and it’s still storming.

In my personal world, there’s some activity for my future that I’m trying to resolve. Employment thing, been trying to get an answer and haven’t, yet. There’s also the aforementioned weight, and trying to find something I can do for exercise. I can’t do exactly what I did last time I needed to drop some serious pounds because of the kidneys. Function means I can’t do the first part of the diet, size means I’m limited in exercises. Yoga, for instance, is out of the question. All the bending would make me nauseous very quickly. Walking for a couple miles does that, too, for the same reason (disturbing the “twins”). Have to find something; this isn’t working for me.

I’m stalling. I wanted to write something about all that’s gone down this week, with the Sam Dubose case in particular. Judging from out-of-town friends’ posts on the day of the decision, the media had us on the edge of our seats, ready to explode. They completely ignored the fact that all the protests up to that point were peaceful. UC closed for the afternoon on that day, and some businesses in the area as well, even going so far as boarding up their windows. To be fair, once the video was released, if they’d come back with any other verdict, it might have gotten ugly. The prosecutor, Joe Deters, who’s not known for his racial sensitivity, felt there was no other option. Without the body cam footage, Tensing would have gotten away with what was cold-blooded murder. Especially since there were witnesses, other officers who came on the scene later, ready to believe their peer’s story, easy to do with no competing story, since the other witness was dead. They were not charged with anything. Not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, they supported Tensing’s story. On the other hand, the human memory is very plastic. Memories can be replaced, if reinforced enough. Doesn’t matter what you saw, it’s what you believe you saw. So I don’t know.

I am not happy. Let’s get that out of the way right now, I am not happy. Indicted for murder, a police officer with a positive history has lost his livelihood because of behavior that did not fit with previous experiences. It does show the difference in the way people are treated based on skin color, something a lot of people are still unwilling to acknowledge. Our own president has faced a ridiculous amount of disrespect from people unwilling to admit that very thing. I don’t mean the ones who just don’t like his policy, and couldn’t care less about the color of his skin, but the ones who pick some irrational, baseless reason to not like him, like where he was born (Hawaii – doesn’t matter, his mother was a US citizen), or claims about his religion (Constitution doesn’t require presidents to be Christian – he is, but that’s irrelevant), or other things that have nothing to do with policy or governing. So, while I am grateful justice was done, that something went the way it should, I am not happy. One man is dead, two families are destroyed.

We have other issues as well. We have children getting shot for no obvious reason. A little girl, 4 years old, outside with her family at a block party, was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting. This has become too common. Some would believe the best thing is to incarcerate everyone. That does nothing but give them more skills when they’re released for parole or due to overcrowding. Redirection, in many cases, would do wonders for this. Yes, there are some who need to be incarcerated, who are completely unrepentant, and nothing anyone says or does will change it. Others have been misled. There are gangs. The disenfranchised are looking for somewhere to belong, something that gives them control over their own lives – or the semblance of it, anyway. Not everyone is willing to roll over and take it, not everyone has the strength to stand up and change it. There has to be an alternative. As more people with money move out of the city limits, the income drops. That’s why the revitalization of OTR is so important, to bring some money back in town. It needs to be done correctly, though, with a mix of economic levels, not just rich and poor.

See, this is why I was putting this off. There are too many things in my head, too many disjointed thoughts to speak coherently on this subject.

I know there are people who refuse to see the forest for the trees, who will not believe they are part of the problem. The fact of the matter is, we live here; we’re all part of the problem. Until we’re willing to acknowledge that – a majority, at least – then nothing will change. Not for the better, anyway.

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It’s in there, just have to make the effort to see it.

I’m gonna go get some actual food, now. The bears weren’t cutting it.
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†Haribo Gold Bears, the good ones. Not as good as the ones from Germany, which I can find at Jungle Jim’s, but still the best. I don’t go to Jungle Jim’s all that often – it’s entirely too easy to walk out with $100 worth of food that you aren’t sure what to do with.

*And by “warm” I mean hot with humidity that you could scoop in a cup and drink, air so thick you could cut it with a knife, feels like inhaling hot cotton. Are there places in the US that feel worse than that on a regular basis? Probably. No, not Florida; been there, wasn’t impressed.

‡It was a little short on horsepower – it was a bicycle surrey, so we provided the horsepower. Want to find out just how out of shape you are? Rent one of those and ride up a small hill. Surprisingly, I was not sore the next morning. I may have found something I can do for exercise.

Just a Bit Absurd

I’ve mentioned a few times – although I’ve tried not to belabor it – that work has been more than a little stressful and draining. I missed two weeks, I know, and I’m sorry. Two weeks ago, I had worked a lot of hours in a very short time, and I was all but useless Saturday and Sunday. Last week, I was in North Myrtle Beach. I had a post written, and intended to publish it from there, but I forgot. So, I posted it yesterday. This is the post for this weekend.

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The view from the front balcony. All rooms had a beach view. Might not be perfect, but it was a view.

I didn’t have my camera with me all the time, and there were a couple of incidents where I regretted that lack. Who, though, would think of taking the camera with them on the way to the liquor store?

It’s vacation time, and when I’m on vacation, I do enjoy an adult beverage or two. For me, it’s just something to do when I’m having fun. Not necessary, just an option. Without the Friday wine tastings at the grocery store*, it would be months between beverages.

This was a family vacation, so most of my immediate family and associated hangers-on were there. A few couldn’t make it. My younger brother was planning a trip to the liquor store, because it was far cheaper than the bar at the resort (duh), along with his girlfriend and their daughter. My father opted to join as well. It was within walking distance, and it wasn’t ridiculously hot and humid, so a walk sounded just fine. Now, I may or may not have mentioned, but my family is rather large. The immediate family et al came to around 35 people. We had five different suites in three different buildings. Three rooms in my building, on the same floor, one in the building next door, and one in a building across the street. My sister (S2†), her oldest son, his wife and their son, and her other two grandsons were in that one. She had a balcony with an ocean view, and happened to be on it when we crossed the open courtyard between building 2 and building 3. She saw us, we waived; my brother (S6) called her and let her know where we were going, and she decided to join us. Well that’s fine, we can meet her out front.

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View from the other side of the front balcony/walkway.

We get to the elevator in my building and I head up to the room. Since we’re waiting for someone else, I decide to change out of my swimsuit. While I’m gone, the youngest two sisters (S8 & 9) meet up with my father, and decide they’d like to come along as well. They just want to change, first. My father decided to wait for them. Plan to meet out front as before. No problem. Now this is getting to be a large group.

On the street-side of our building, I found my brother, his girlfriend and their daughter – in a stroller – waiting as well; S2 joined us not long after. We were just waiting for my father and the youngest two sisters. While waiting, S2 got a phone call from either S1 or S3; her grandsons were in the lobby of her building, to be picked up. Okay…so now we’re going to have two more children with us.

S2 goes off to pick up her grandsons. We wait. S6 (brother) senses his daughter getting restless, so he goes to walk her around. Now it’s just me and his girlfriend. At this point, I’m thinking this has gotten to be a much bigger event than originally planned. It had gone from just a quick run to the store to a small procession. I mention the absurdity of it all and S5’s GF humors me. She’s finding it a bit absurd herself. Little did I know…

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The beach at dawn, footprints in the wet sand as the tide goes out.

We happen to look toward the garage across the street, and see someone coming. We recognize S2, because we know what she was wearing. Then we notice S3 is leading the pack. Yes, pack. S1 was bringing up the rear, along with her stepdaughter. In between were not just two of S2’s grandsons, but the young (grand?)daughters (I didn’t ask. Meant to, just didn’t) of her current beau, S3’s son and S1’s youngest two, her granddaughter, her stepdaughter, whose name is the same as mine – that doesn’t cause any confusion – and her daughter. They’re coming along; it’s time for them to take a walk anyway. It’s only a few blocks, and they could use the walk to burn off some energy. I start laughing. Procession? This has become a parade! We now have two children in strollers, and 8 more on foot, all under the age of 10 (or maybe 12). Altogether, we end up with 10 adults, 10 children, all heading off to the liquor store. No real incidents with any of them, just a slower pace. When we crossed the street, we briefly ran into two of S1’s older daughters, D1‡ and D3, D1’s fiance and D3’s friend (no other kids her age). For some reason, they didn’t want to join us. Can’t imagine why.

Keeping everything straight? Yeah, me either. Just pretend; that’s what I do.

Our little troop walked through groups of people dining at restaurants along the way. The general reaction was amusement when they realized the size of our little parade. On the way back, we walked down the other side of the street, and through different crowds eating outside. S1’s D3 and friend saw us and joined us again, briefly. She wanted to show us her henna tattoo. It was nice. Got smudged, though. It was a little crowded, you know.

We crossed the street and crossed again, passing a little amusement area, with rides and an arcade. The rides weren’t open yet, but we paused to see how much it would be, since it was in walking distance, and would give the kids something fun to do. It was suddenly rather quiet, and we began looking around, realizing for the first time that my brother, his GF and their daughter, along with all of the walking children, had wandered off. We knew they wouldn’t come to any harm with him, but we were kinda wanting to know where they were. As we passed the arcade, we see is GF poke her head around and wave us on. He’d taken them to the arcade and given them all tokens; they were playing Skeeball when we found them. That was the point when I regretted not having my camera with me.

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Shortly after sunrise. I watched the sun creep up over the buildings. Got a nice series of shots, too.

We stayed a little longer. One of my other siblings got the kids started on a claw machine. The oldest one was rather adept, so she played it for them. There were rubber balls in the machine, and it wouldn’t do but that every kid had one. As I understand it, they went back a couple days later.

Finally, each kid not in a stroller played Skeeball at least once, and each kid, even the ones in the strollers, had a new ball to play with. At last our parade was ready to move on. We marched back, having to rescue a few balls in the process, with one child-induced casualty (she chewed the ball and made a hole – it deflated), and one ball that made it across the street. I got that one. The cars on the road were nice enough to stop for me while I went after it. No one ran into the street, although a few were horsecollared to keep them from doing it. Grab what you can.

That was…an experience.

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*I go for the company; the wine is incidental. Well, the first time it was for the wine. Oh, and the food. The woman who runs the tasting I attend is also a chef, and she tries out recipes to match the wines.

†S2 = sibling 2. I’ve found a numbering system to be more useful. I can number by sisters and brothers, or just number the total. I’m sibling 4 regardless how it’s counted.

‡D1 – descendant 1, her oldest. She has five of them. Four of them came on the trip, three are under 18.

Rough

It had been almost 20 days since I went out with my camera, for fun or profit.

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Dandelions gone to seed, Alms Park, Cincinnati, May 5, 2015

If it were December, or February, that would make sense; the cold and dark get to me every year. It’s May, though, and there have been a lot of beautiful days in that time. I didn’t even go out with my camera on my birthday, and that day was gorgeous! I was up and dressed; got my license renewed, had breakfast out, stopped in a bookstore, hours yet, before I had to be anywhere, and I came home instead, sitting inside, in front of my computer.

That tells me I’m unhappy.

Not just a little unhappy, either, but shading into depressed. I knew that, if I’m honest, but I haven’t had the energy to deal with it.

Even the weekends weren’t a reprieve. By the time Saturday rolled around, I had just enough energy to get out of bed and make breakfast. I only left the house when I absolutely had to. If my license and tags hadn’t expired last week, and I didn’t have friends who’d invited me to the symphony, I daresay I’d have spent my entire birthday in my house, not talking to anyone. Well, not no one, I’d have answered the phone when people called to wish me a happy birthday.

I’ve had days off here and there, but none of them were vacations; they were all sick days. There was a nasty cold, for instance; it started off like a particularly bad allergy attack, and took out my Easter weekend. Most recently, there was a sharp, sudden back (flank) pain with a slight fever that had me concerned about a possible kidney infection. I felt better by the end of the day, but I was still sore. I do have a real one coming up, a family vacation, and I still have to figure out how I’m getting there. Driving myself seems silly. Not to mention uncomfortable. Besides, I’d want to get my car into the shop to fix whatever makes my car squeal when I turn on the A/C or defroster. Without research, I assume it’s some sort of belt that needs replaced.

Of course, then I have to find someone to take me to work or home from the garage, and back to the garage when my car is ready. We have a concierge service through work that will do things like take your car to the garage, but I wouldn’t make anyone drive my car. No driver’s side mirror, so I’ve had to improvise. It broke off when the F350 hit me and caved in the driver’s-side door back in 2007. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I had to drive that from Tulsa to Colorado Springs. That was a bit nerve-wracking.

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Flowers reaching for the sun, Eden Park, Cincinnati, May 24, 2015

Where was I? Oh, right, sad, tired, depressed, affecting whole life, making things harder than they have to be, sapping all my energy and will. Typical for the winter, very atypical after about mid-March, the vernal equinox. Once again, I do have my suspicions for what is fueling this, and I am trying to figure out how to change, but there are entirely too many times when I feel completely alone. No one to really talk to. Not about this. So I continue to go through the motions of life, and try to recognize the bright spots when they come along.

Easier said than done.

Sunday morning, though, I woke up and felt pretty good. The sun had just risen, and I was alert. I left the house a little after 7, camera bag slung over my shoulder, and decided to look for an early morning vista to shoot. I hadn’t felt that drive to take pictures for a very long time. Even three weeks ago, when I last went out, it was forced. Glad I did, of course, but it shouldn’t have started out as a chore. This is what I do to relax, after all, a way for me to shake off the stress of the day. Instead, I drag myself home from work, maybe stop somewhere to get dinner, generally not particularly healthy, or find something at home that I can stick in the oven and remember before it burns, also generally not especially nutritious, stare at the computer, either hanging out on social media or, more commonly, play some solitary game where I don’t have to interact with other human beings, get to bed, and do it all again the next day.

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The Ohio River from the Eden Park Overlook, Cincinnati, May 2015

The “fake it ’til you make it” school of thought is a valid one, truly. You have to be committed to it, though, and have to be able to recognize when it’s time to do something more, when just pretending isn’t cutting it. The last several weeks – months, really – have been a complete blur. I wrote this during the sermon yesterday at church. I was listening, it was about Pentecost and the origins of the church, and it was interesting, but I had to get this out, and since we would be singing once the sermon ended, I needed to do it quickly. Kinda feels like open verse.

Been in a fog, a coma, for several months, now.
Days passing unheeded, unrecognized, slowly, quickly.
Life continues apace while my oblivion persists.
Occasional flickers of life appear –
here, a smile, there, a tear, a touch of joy, mirth, grief and pain,
only to slither away just as the veil begins to lift.
I am not happy right now.
There are many things conspiring to keep me where I lay,
leave me to rot on my own,
life ever so close, and yet, just out of reach.

Bit dark. Dramatic, even. Like I said, verse.

I really did go out with my camera yesterday, though, before church. And it was therapeutic. For a moment, to use my own overblown words, the veil was lifted, and there was peace. Even though the park was trashed – there are grills there, and every weekend, especially when it’s warm, it’s packed – it was peaceful. There was one lone city employee attempting to make a dent in the garbage strewn about the place, poking his pointed stick at things and lifting them to the trash bag in his hands. He must be efficient, though, because that’s the worst I’ve ever seen it look, by a long shot. Usually it looks nice there. The city puts out extra trash cans for people to use, and they still leave garbage all over. Granted, the trash cans are also full, but still. Complete lack of respect.

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The smog dome – significantly less than even ten years ago – makes for some interesting colors. Eden Park, Cincinnati, May 24, 2015

Enough of that rant. Suffice it to say, I need a change, and it needs to be big. I have an idea of what that may be, I just haven’t yet figured out how to make it happen. Well, that’s not completely true, I have laid some groundwork, it just hasn’t paid off yet. I’m back in a holding pattern, with few viable options at hand. The trick is not letting that get to me. Today’s plan – it’s the final day of Taste of Cincinnati. I haven’t been, yet. The family members who would go have already gone, so it’s just me. Not as bad as it sounds, it’s usually just me. I almost prefer it that way.

Number 112

It’s May. Finally, suddenly, it’s May. I realized this past Thursday or so that for the last several weeks, I’d been spending my time in a fog, and I haven’t figured out quite why. I have a guess or two, but I don’t like either one, since I can’t do much about them. I’ve been slowly cutting things in my personal life, things to do that are either ill-timed for me, or just too draining, so that perhaps I can be less exhausted, and have more energy to do things like go out with my camera. Yesterday, for instance, would have been a perfect day to do just that. I didn’t. I’d thought about going around and shooting the route for the Flying Pig, which just started maybe 10 minutes ago (50 minutes? I can’t remember what time it started). If I can get it together in time, I may do that this morning, since the route lies on my way to church. And if I wanted to go to my grocery store, I couldn’t. Not the way I’d normally go, anyway, since a fair chunk of the route is also in the race. As is one of my alternate routes. Actually, the other one I’d go to, which is only slightly farther, is also blocked off. I suppose there are some benefits to living on the west side.*

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Magnolias in the rain from April. Ault Park, Cincinnati

Apparently a couple of big things happened yesterday while I was avoiding the world.† There was a fight last night between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Apparently, Mayweather won, and pay-per-view went out.

Oh, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a new daughter. Won’t lie, kinda excited about that. I was hoping for a girl. Thank goodness for the generation before, with Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson. Brought up the TV readiness of the royal family. Okay, that wasn’t nice. The Queen was an attractive young woman, one, and two, that’s not what’s important. The Queen is also a very strong woman, and has a great deal of love for the people she rules. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not paying attention. Anyway, her middle name is to be Diana if I’ve heard correctly. I don’t care so much about the name, just so long as part of it *is* Diana.

At least, that’s what I heard on the news just now. I should know better than that – it’s far less distracting for me to listen to music than watch news, and I’ve decided I do want to get some shots of the race before church. It’ll be too late after. I’ll charge up my battery to make sure I don’t miss anything. Nah, I didn’t use my flash last weekend, should be fine, right? Sure.

Friday was a celebration day at work, a play on the name of my employer. It’s an annual thing that usually means a day of not getting much done at all. You work while you can, but there are limits. After all, there was cornhole‡ to be played. Lost. By a lot. Oh, and Pictionary, which we almost won. Good that we didn’t, since my partner wouldn’t have been able to continue anyway. I had things to do, too. That one was a bit closer. I was almost relaxed yesterday. Didn’t know what to do with myself. I have a theory about my high level of fatigue on Saturdays – spent the rest of the week so tense, when I don’t have anything causing tension, I’m lost and don’t know what to do with myself. My body is confused, if you will, so accustomed to the pressure, that when it’s missing, there’s exhaustion. I know it’s not my health – recently had my quarterly checkup, and it’s all pretty much the same as it was three months ago. It’s been so stable that we’re going to every four months instead of every three. Hopefully it stays that way through all of next year, or at least through next June. Choir’s going to Florence, Italy, and I’d like to be there. Have to start saving now, of course.

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View of the Ohio from Eden in the rain last weekend. Eden Park, Cincinnati

Well. I did wash my dishes, and I wrangled the air conditioner into the window yesterday, which is a bit of an ordeal. I even managed to do it without hurting myself, which I always think is a good thing. The long and the short of that is I’d like to have energy on Saturdays to do things I want to do, not just things I have to do. I have to be careful, though, not to isolate myself. Entirely too easy to do, and not helpful. I am still a little sad that I missed yesterday. It looked like it was gorgeous, and we’re in the time of year where those are going to get fewer and farther between. This week will be 80 and above, and I don’t know if you’re aware, but we have a little humidity here in our Ohio River Valley (and Great Miami, and Little Miami, and Mill Creek, and Duck Creek – it’s a bit damp), and it can get unpleasant. I’ve been in Florida in the summer without AC, and I wasn’t impressed.

Now I need to get ready to leave. I have to make breakfast – the places where I’d normally stop if I were in a rush are also along the Flying Pig route. Mile 22 has been marked out in honor of Lauren Hill, fittingly enough. She might have been from Indiana, but it’s still part of the Tri-State, and she’s still ours. I know the story went national, but no way it was anywhere as important as it was here. It still surprises me when I see something so local go national. Devon Still and his little girl, Leah, were a local story that went national as well. The Republic of Cincinnati is a big bigger than I realize, sometimes.

It’s been about an hour; the runners – at least, the ones who intend to win – should be near here soon. I need to go meet them. And find an alternate route to church. And a place to park. That’s in the middle of the route, too. Yay, detours. Maybe next week, I’ll have some photos to share. I still have to eat, though, and bathe, all the things that make it easier to be around me. Plus, we’re going to be crammed in the loft today with some instrumentalists. Doing a Bach piece that will keep us there through the entire service, and it’s going to be warm.

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*The East Side/West Side thing isn’t anywhere near as big a deal as it was up through a fair chunk of my life, but it still comes up. and yes, I also still get lost once I’m west of Vine street. Some East Side mental block, because it’s not that difficult. Except Delhi. Delhi is insane.

†Not quite fair, I was also doing things in the house that needed to be done.

The American Cornhole Association is based just to the east of here, in a suburb of the city. I don’t remember ever seeing this much when I was a kid, and certainly not called cornhole, but apparently it snuck up somewhere while I was in Colorado. Now it’s EVERYWHERE!

Kings and Things

This week, I used a lot of spoons*. Not wasted, just a lot of them. There continues to be stress at work, but I’m trying to change that. No, there were other things. Sunday afternoon, I went to see an updated Cosi Fan Tutti at CCM, set in the middle of the 20th century, sung in the original Italian, updated translation displayed above the stage. They quoted Beatles songs and used slang from the 60s and 70s. It was pretty cool. I especially adored Despina. Sure, I knew her, but that’s beside the point – she was still good.

The Lion King, presumably official.
The Lion King, presumably official.

Tuesday evening was the big show. The Broadway touring company performing The Lion King. I thought it was phenomenal. Apparently, how well they did depends on the night you were there. A friend of mine went the next night and thought it was a bit flat. I had a seat on the floor, on the aisle. I had the money, and an available discount from my ArtsWave membership, so I got my orchestra seat. I prefer to sit on the aisle because I want at least one guaranteed armrest, and room to look around the person in front of me. I’d forgotten that some parts of the performance go through the audience, including the initial procession. The show does follow the movie fairly closely. It begins with a call for the subjects to see the dedication of the new prince, Simba. The callers sing out to get everyone’s attention, and they come from everywhere in the Pridelands to see. In this case, they come from the lobby up the aisles. There were giraffes and zebras, gazelles, an elephant, and on my side, a rhino. I haven’t begun to figure out how to describe that moment, when you see a puppet, a costume, and a person (or four in the case of the large elephant) walking down the aisle. Your rational mind knows it’s not real. It’s not even designed to look real, but to be a representation. It feels real, though. The woman playing Rafiki was brilliant and hilarious, Scar was an ass – perfectly so – and Mufasa was majestic. The wildebeest stampede was unnerving; the way they staged it, the wildebeest kept getting closer and closer. Again, not realistic, obviously tricks of the trade, and yet realistic. They made every effort to make the show resemble the movie, to the point where the characters were expected to sound like their movie counterparts. Jeremy Irons’ oily, sardonic speech patterns with Scar were echoed beautifully, I thought, and the audience recognized that. He got as much of an ovation as Mufasa and Simba(s) at the end. Reminded me of a couple guys I dated or wanted to. There’s a reason I’m single…†

Butterfly Magnolia_0094a
Random daffodil because I couldn’t think of where else to put it so it made sense. Hope to get out today.

A friend of mine works the show, so I got a backstage tour, too. Another friend of mine happened to be there that night, which I didn’t know until I texted the first friend to set up a meeting. We all know each other. Same high school. Getting to see the costumes up close was fantastic. Standing on the empty stage was difficult. I know it’s hard for me to watch choral performances unless I’m involved; whenever I see them, I want to be singing, not just listening. Much as I enjoy seeing a good performance, I’d rather be in it. Well, I used to do theater, too. Stage makeup does have a distinct aroma, with a hint of motor oil. For me, it’s also as calming as sniffing a can of Play-doh.‡ I’ve missed it, quite a bit. There are a lot of community theater groups around here. Somehow, this little provincial town grew a fairly decent artistic community. Haven’t figured that out, yet, but there is a ridiculous amount of talent around here. If I didn’t have my choir, I’d consider it. Consider, probably not do. I lose too much energy at work, and I need to have enough to clean up around here so it’s at least livable if not spotless. My choir takes energy, but it’s only a 2x a week commitment on average, with summers off. It helps a lot, so it’s worth the energy.

Anyway, good show, bittersweet backstage tour.

Wednesday and Thursday, I had meetings that could help change my future, both with people in a department I’d like to be. I like my employer, I just don’t care for my job. I’d rather stay with the same company if I could, but I need a change. I have to change.

Perfect illustration.
Perfect illustration.

There’s not much else, really. Fabulous show, meetings for progress, choir rehearsal…oh, and a new trailer for a little fantasy, beginning on a desert planet with space debris. I might have watched it a few times since Thursday evening. Just a few, barely into the double-digits.I remember my concern and consternation when I first heard Disney had the rights. Are they going to Disney-fy it, or are they going to stay true to the admittedly simplistic formula? As long as it works, right? I’ve still got a bad feeling about this◊, but I’ve learned that no matter how jaded, how disappointed with life, the Star Wars fandom are really optimists. Think about it – The Phantom Menace was only okay, and Attack of the Clones caused me traumatic amnesia. Revenge of the Sith was the best of the three, and it had its own issues (pretty quick transition from whiny kid to evil killer, for instance), and yet we are still excited – cautiously optimistic, really – about a new movie. We write our numbers on a white board at work, so that we can make others on our team feel inadequate and hopeless. I may have turned one of my zeros into a Death Star…

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*Helpful little metaphor. It’s not my everyday life, but it does help explain why some days, when I’ve done nothing, I will continue to do nothing. I’m exhausted!

†As I’ve noted, if he’s kind to children and animals, respectful of human life, compassionate, employed, and able to care for himself, I’m apparently not interested. Psychopath? Ooh, baby!

‡Stress-reduction technique. Scent is a powerful tool in memory and relaxation. At my last job, someone observed that when she sniffed Play-doh, she felt herself relax and think a bit more clearly. I tried it too; it works. It’s tied to memories of innocence and peace and fun. A number of us had small cans of it at our desks so we’d have it available when things got really rough.

◊I couldn’t help myself. Someone did note on another video, however, that they didn’t use it quite right in the prequels. In the original trilogy, it was when things were going as they were supposed to, but something still felt off; in the prequels, it was when they were very obviously in trouble. Yay, obsessive fandom!

Just About

Sunday again. I had plans for the day. Church in the morning, laundry in the afternoon. I washed my hair instead. Of laundry, not church. Singing keeps me sane, so that, I make sure I do. Another week at work best left unspoken. Wednesday I had a hair appointment – gotta cover those grays* – but that was about as exciting as it got. Yesterday, I got my brakes repaired. I’ve had that car since 2001; I figured by now, I probably needed them taken care of. It had been mentioned to me a few years ago, but I didn’t have the funds to do anything about it. I do now, so I did. Not going to be replacing my car any time soon (thanks, student loans), so I have to keep it running. Next thing you know, I’ll get my oil changed more often than once a year. I still haven’t driven it 100,000 miles, by the way. Apparently, wherever I go, it’s not very far from where I am.

Ault Evening_0108b
Another from a couple weeks ago. Shot this one blind, as it were.

While I waited for my car to get looked at, then repaired, I issued myself a challenge; I challenged myself to find something interesting along the stretch of road where I was, something interesting to photograph. There are no homes right there, nor are there factories. There are stores and restaurants, urgent care facilities and power lines. Lots of power lines.

I thought about other things to write about, much like last week, but I didn’t really dig into them much. On CBS Sunday Morning today, they did a story about Bela Fleck and his banjo playing. It reminded me that the banjo was inspired by an African instrument, which they mentioned a little later in the article. It reminded me about some of the way speople shoot themselves in the foot, ignoring experiences because it’s just not done in their tiny world. I was ready to rant on that for a bit, but it was going to be nothing but a rant, not productive, probably make me angry. Much like the special I started watching on hurricane Katrina on Saturday. I watched Mockingjay On Demand instead. I have until 7 tomorrow night to re-watch. Probably will, since Once Upon a Time has jumped the shark. Cruella deVille, Ursula the sea witch and Maleficent? Really? Fire up the speed boat and don’t forget your water skis.

Not as warm today, but still lovely, I drove around with the top down. The sun was out. I think it was in the mid-40s about then. As I’ve said many a time, that’s what heaters are for. All my rants melted away, so I’m left with a post and no burning need to write anything. Whenever that happens, I default to photos. So, a few from yesterday, experimenting with a place only a mother could love.

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Fallen hydrant on the side of the road.

 

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Contradiction

 

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Number, please.

 

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Turkey vulture between the lines

Have a good week!

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*For years, I didn’t color. I was fine with the silver strands coming in. They’d been coming in since I was 15, so they were familiar to me. Still, they started to multiply, and not in any sort of pattern. So, they’re gone now. Besides, it’s one evening of pampering and wine.†

†The wine is secondary, just like it is on Fridays when I go to the wine tasting at the grocery store. Then, though, rather than the pampering, it’s about the company and the food.

I Ate’nt Dead

Not easy to learn, the Haydn, but so worth it.
Not easy to learn, the Haydn, but so worth it.

Last weekend was busy. My choir had our Lenten concert on Sunday afternoon, a church service that morning, and a dress rehearsal on Saturday. After a long week at work, and a rough moment or two recognizing the 10th anniversary of my mother’s passing, I didn’t have energy for much else. Throw in the time change, the loss of an hour, and it was all I could do to function. It went well, I think, our performance. The audience leapt to their feet at the end, different from the usual reaction of the few who stand up for every performance, and everyone else eventually rising. The soloists were, of course, spectacular, as was the orchestra. The audience was a bit sparse, but I think part of that might have been the time change, part the weather. It was lovely outside, sunny and warm; I didn’t put on my jacket when I left, and I drove with the top down, of course. It was probably not above 50 degrees (10 C), and a little breezy, but that’s what heaters are for.

I have a few things rolling around in my head right now; I’m afraid a decent segue is out of the question today. Shall we press on?

2015-03-11 Ault Evening_0268a
Near the end of the daylight at Ault Park, March 11, 2015

Meteorological spring has sprung, as of March 1st. It rained. Well, it’s spring; I’m definitely not complaining. This past Wednesday, I left work after a particularly stressful day and grabbed my camera. It was nearing sunset, and I wanted to get something showing that spring was on its way. I considered areas where there might be new life springing forth. There’s a shrub or tree outside the door at work that’s been pushing forward new branches for a few weeks now. There’s even a leaf on one of them. But it’s dark, and it’s limited, and I wanted something more. I thought of going to one of my favorite spots – reminding myself that there are SEVERAL places just on this side of town I could explore – but I saw the sun sinking and made a last-minute decision. I headed to another of my favorite spots, Ault Park. It was close. I spent a good two hours there, I think, just shooting, decompressing, working on becoming whole once more. I played with the light, which is what you do with a camera, and I think I came up with some interesting things. That wasn’t the point, though; I was relaxed, as though I’d just had a steamy hot bath and massage. The winter had been long, cold, unpleasant, and near the end, full of snow. I’d gone out for fun once in November, once in January, and once in February. That’s all. It’s not enough. I’d planned to go out today, see what I could get of the Ohio river above flood stage, but I got caught up in other things instead. It’ll flood again, that’s what it does. Hopefully not that badly; it seems the vast majority affected this time are the ones usually affected, which still sucks, but it’s not that odd. It’s not 1937, after all. Or even 1997.

Ault Evening_0064a
Pavilion pillar at Ault Park

I have notes about what I wanted to cover – zero-tolerance policies, the impending season, fatigue, and late bloomers (more in-depth than above). As I said, much rolling around in my head. And yet…

I was stalling. Terry Pratchett passed away this past† Thursday. Completely unmentioned in the US media, all over British media and my Facebook newsfeed. Yeah, my friends have excellent taste. See, I knew, as did most fans, that Sir Terry was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, and that it was just a matter of time. Still, it was no less shocking when he did pass. I discovered him in 1997, I think, when, after years of reading Piers Anthony’s Xanth books, I was ready for something else. I’d heard of him, of course, just hadn’t gotten around to reading anything. I didn’t pick up the very first book, it wasn’t available. Instead, I picked up the first book I could find, which I think was Lords and Ladies*, featuring witches and wizards and elves and rude earthworks. And I read. Before I even finished reading it, I bought all the books I could find, and afford. Some months I could only get two, thanks to bills and low pay. There were gaps that took years to fill. I think I literally squealed when I saw the first three books for sale, and at a special price of $3.99. The new publisher was looking to get people interested again, and probably figured out the lack of early books was hampering them just a bit. Discworld doesn’t necessarily have to be read in order, but it can help with some of the stories. I’ve had to replace two of them so far, because I’ve read them so often. I usually start the series once a year. I haunt bookstores looking for a paperback° that I haven’t gotten yet, and snatch it up on the spot. They’re not that easy to come by, you know.

But see, he didn’t just write about Discworld; that was only his most famous stuff. I also read Good Omens, which is about the Apocalypse. Well, the attempted Apocalypse, anyway. If you’re easily offended, move on; if not, though, if you like a good bit of (religious) satire, I highly recommend it. As with his other stories, it is at once funny, touching, and deep. It makes me think, still, as many times as I’ve read it. A master of the written word, and I do not say that lightly, everything he wrote makes me think, even as it makes me laugh, or cry.¤

So once again, my world is saddened by yet another light snuffed.
Terry Pratchett - TheAustralian Ripples Quote

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†For the grammatically challenged, I will point out that there are indeed words that sound similar but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Passed and past are no more the same word than they’re, their, or there are.
Okay, I feel better now.

*It might have been Masquerade, too. It was nearly 20 years ago, give me a break!

°Here’s the thing – the first books I bought were all paperbacks, and there was no chance whatsoever of getting them in hardcover. I can’t very well have part of a series in paperback and part in hardcover, now can I? Unless it’s a book signing; then I have two copies, a signed hardcover, and a reading paperback. Which reminds me, I still have two Hollows books to get.

¤Collections of quotes, from his book, and his own mouth.
The Telegraph – 50 Best Quotes
Buzzfeed from 2013 – 26 Quotes
BBC America – 30 Quotes

Sorry…

Not feeling well today. I really need to get back in bed. I might be better tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath. So, some old photos, since I haven’t been out for fun in over a month.

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Sunny fall day. Almost any time the sun is out, people come out too.
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One of my favorites from a November 2013 Workshop session.
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Same fall day, same park as the first photo.
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I need to get up in the morning; the moon is in a perfect spot for me before 8 right now.
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Downtown from Mt Echo this past May

 
I didn’t want to leave you hanging. See you next week.

Missing

Missed a couple days, sorry about that. Last weekend I was in Columbus, and writing a post on my tablet did not appeal. Yesterday I was just exhausted, and still had plans for the afternoon. I didn’t go to church this morning because I hurt. I don’t think it’s from yesterday, I didn’t do anything unusual, I think I was already tired and sorry. Well, I was a bit sore on Friday, so I guess that makes sense. Yes, kidney thing. If anyone tells you there’s no pain with PKD, tell them they’re wrong, and all their degrees don’t make them right.

Sunset Whim_0085a
Eastern Cincinnati and Dayton (?) Kentucky as seen from Eden Park.

I have a few things on my mind right now. Nothing huge, just trying to figure out how I’m going to get to Vienna next June with my choir, and what exercises I can do to lose weight so it’s not so uncomfortable flying all that way. Not really a good enough reason, since I’m still not sure I’m going to be able to pay for the trip AND the flight yet, but it is a reason, and if it motivates me, I’ll take it. No, yoga is not an option; kidneys are too big, too much bending and twisting makes me nauseous. Sore too, but nauseous is the worse one. I hate being nauseous. Makes it hard to eat, and I have enough trouble doing that as it is. I suspect that part of my weight problem is the crap I eat, but the other part is I may not be eating enough. Counter-intuitive, I know, but if you eat too few calories for too long, your body goes into starvation mode and starts hoarding. I can’t eat a lot at one sitting – no room. Kidneys take up a lot of space, squish and move other organs and innards. If I eat too much too quickly, I get, well, nauseous. and violent heartburn. I take Prilosec regularly for that. Not daily, just every other day or every three days, but it makes a difference. Pepcid stopped working for me a while ago.

Sunset Whim_0120a
Eden sky while the sun sinks below the horizon.

What an exciting post, all about the gastrointestinal issues caused by my PKD. Tell you what, I’ll go back to the week before last, which did not involve a single GI conversation.

Fall showed up with a vengeance a couple weeks ago. I had to wear two layers some days, and spent an entire day in a pullover at work. I don’t do cold. That Tuesday, the 14th, it had been disgusting and rainy all day, dark, gray, and cold. People were miserable. Just as I was leaving work to go home, though, the sun decided to make an appearance. Since I’ve been making a concerted effort to get back out there with my camera, something that brings joy to my life, I did just that. Stopped at home, picked up my camera, and headed out for Eden Park, to see what I could do with the sunset. It was still chilly, but I didn’t care – the sun was out, and the clouds were spectacular. Since it was a weekday, there probably wasn’t going to be much in the way of crowds, and there wasn’t. I got to take my time and look around, stare at the sky, watch the ducks (not many) and the people (even fewer*).

The sun had finally sunk low enough that I couldn’t see it, and it got even colder, so I decided to head home. Thought I’d make a quick stop, though, pick up some apples, since I was out. Something happened, though. No, nothing bad, but only because I kept my head. Sitting at a traffic light, waiting for the signal to change, I looked to my left. The clouds had parted once more, and the sun was visible in the sky, large and orange, and sinking. I had to find a place to stand! I couldn’t stay where I was because, well, traffic, but I got through and found a place to pull over. I missed the sun itself, but I still caught the sunset. I had a few moments where I forgot I was holding a camera, and I just stared. What an incredible moment that was! And I even remembered to go back to the store and pick up apples; I was a little proud of myself for that.

Sunset Whim_0166a
Yes, the sky really was that color.

What an incredible event to catch! That weekend I spent with friends, including a karaoke evening in a fun dive bar. If I lived in the area, I could see becoming a regular. Had to be the most diverse bar I’d ever seen outside of a culturally-sensitive TV show. I had no idea that existed in this state. Our Over-The-Rhine area is being redeveloped, with nice restaurants and restored buildings, but the diversity is still missing. Oh, the original residents are still in the area, but they’re not participating in the revitalization. That’s for those with disposable income, something they tend not to have. But that’s for another post.

I did make a run back home for church. We were installing a new minister, and had a choral piece commissioned just for that. Written by Dale Warland, which is kind of a big deal, it was a beautiful piece. Simple and elegant. It’ll get performed again. Bit of excitement, though, I needed gas. Desperately. I didn’t realize how desperately, though, until I passed a Sunoco station on I-71. When I passed that exit, it looked like I probably had a good 30 miles left, so I should be fine. Maybe 2 miles out, the needle on my gas gauge dipped into the space between the white line that says you’ve got a way to go yet, and the red line which says you better hope there’s a station at the next exit, and the next exit is within a mile or two. It wasn’t – I mapped it when I got home. That Sunoco station was about ten miles from the BP station I found at the next exit. Thank goodness it was open – the next nearest station that I could have gotten to was 13 miles away. My tank holds about 14 gallons – when I filled up, I got 13.28 gallons. I’ve never let my gas tank get that low, so I was more than a little nervous. Especially being in the middle of nowhere Ohio on a Sunday. *shudder* Won’t be doing that again!

Spring Grove with Hennigan_0072b
Oak leaves mid-transition.

Yesterday I went out shooting with a former teacher of mine (still weird to call her by her first name). It’s fall, trees have begun to change, and she’d ask to go along next time I went out for fun. Planned, that is. This is the first planned outing I’ve had in quite some time. I like shooting with others – they help me see things I might otherwise miss. Definitely a good idea. We went to Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum. If you’re ever in Cincinnati, you should make that a place to visit. Sure, there are graves all over the place, but the grounds are spectacular. People really do use it for photo shoots – I’ve seen women in wedding gowns and seniors in formal dress, and when I was doing my younger sister’s engagement photos, I had to work around a photographer doing some family portraits. There were photographers doing portraits yesterday too. It was too beautiful out not to. Although, strong sun actually makes it harder to get a good shot. A brightly overcast day is perfect. Even light, few shadows.

A good time was had by all.

Spring Grove with Hennigan_0035a
Reflection of the trees in one of Spring Grove’s many ponds. Lakes? Body of water, okay?

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*That’s right, fewer, not less. It’s a countable amount. If pressured, I could give an actual number of people, assuming I counted. There were maybe five.