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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Awry Away

It’s okay if you want to skip this one; it’s turned into a bit more of a journal entry than anything else. Neither a hint for help or a ploy for pity. Your patience, however, is appreciated.

I’ve added some photos if you’d rather scan a bit. – LM


 

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“Big Mac” bridge across the Ohio

Last weekend didn’t quite go as I had planned. There were so many things I was going to get done, including writing, that just didn’t happen. A bit of fatigue and overwhelming stress didn’t help any. I’m hoping for some good news next week. I’m hoping to get back to myself. I still haven’t been out with my camera much at all. I do go to the wine tasting, which is my non-work socializing for the week, but my memory is shot. For instance, I missed a memorial that I wanted to attend last night. I noted it, but not anywhere that I remembered. That’s been my head, lost. Too many things on my mind, not enough things that I want to think about.

I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about. The ideas in my head – and there were many – have disappeared almost completely, leaving me with tantalizing wisps, hints of greatness buried by an overwrought mind. I considered taking a break for a month, get things straight, but I was concerned that it would turn into six months, and that’s not something I wanted. I don’t fit anywhere, I don’t have anything I thought I would by now, I don’t have much in the way of close friends* to just be with. I don’t have any support at home; I just have me, and I suck at being supportive. In many ways, I’m becoming less comfortable in my own skin, instead of more, which is the direction I should be going, have been going for the past couple of decades. I don’t know the last time I did something I really wanted to do, something that usually brings me joy, or at least peace, without having to think about the consequences. I did go out for fun a couple weekends ago, with one of my dearest friends, and the whole time I thought of the physical toll it was taking, and how I wish I’d thought to bring a camera of some sort. Basically, I wasn’t as present as I would like to have been. It did spur me into working out a bit more aggressively, though, so that aforementioned physical toll wasn’t as great, so there’s that. It’s harder for me to see the beauty in the world right now, and that bothers me. I’m in limbo. That’s the long and the short of it. I’m lost, and I don’t know where I am or where I’m going. I think…I think something has finally broken, or at the very least, is teetering on the edge. Something always has to give, and I’m afraid it’s me. This is where my mind is, this is what makes me unfit for human consumption.

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Walking under the Purple People Bridge. Cincinnati, OH
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Pigs DO fly in Cincinnati, OH
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A little peace, a little hope. Cincinnati, OH

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*Let me make this clear – I have friends, people whose company I truly enjoy, with whom I could spend all day, and have. That’s not what I mean. I mean someone I can talk to when my world sucks, who knows when to be silent and when to be snarky, when to give advice and when to let me rant. Someone who understands me.† Those have always been hard for me to find, even when they’re right under my nose (which intellectually, I know I have), and the best is over 1,000 miles away. And if she has any sense, she’ll head to the Pacific Northwest, which would make her even farther away, but a damn sight happier.

†My own trust issues come into play here. I’ve been burnt far to many times. It would be easier for me to learn to ride a unicycle with a passenger than to allow someone see me. “Me” has been shot down and shut down so many times by people I thought I could trust, I don’t let her out much.

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.

The One Who Knocks

No, I’m not a desperate chemistry teacher. I’m talking about opportunity. The opportunity I took advantage of at the end of March may well be bearing fruit. Another opportunity – an opportunity to do something that would make me much happier – is coming. And it scares me silly. I’ve never done something so hard. I know I can, that’s not the concern. It’s just that I’m intentionally challenging myself, and I am a bit afraid of success. What if I succeed accidentally? How will I repeat what I did? I could be discovered as a fraud, barely capable of doing what I said I could do, much less of accomplishing even more? No, success is more frightening than failure. I can fail with aplomb. Failure is my bread and butter. I learn from my failures, as everyone should. I learn what not to do, what I should have done, what I could have done, and where to go for answers.

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Where does it go? Won’t know until you walk it. Alms Park, Cincinnati May 2015

Still, I’m tired of thinking “what if.” Moving to Colorado was a spectacular failure. No, really, it was pretty sweet. It didn’t end the way I would have preferred – a triumphant return with great stories and a wealth of experiences, and enough money to hold my own until I could settle into a job that would make my heart sing, but it was worth it. If I had the chance to do it all again, with the exact same result, I would. There was a lot of growth with that move, and I got to meet people who didn’t automatically ask what school I went to. I got to learn my own limitations, and what I could truly accomplish with the tools at hand. Yes, it was a failure, and yes, it was spectacular.

I daresay that helped me to get where I am now, on the precipice of opportunity and change, anxiously awaiting the result, instead of shying away, cowering in terror. If I don’t take the chance I’ll never know what could have been, and I’ll regret. I’d rather not have regrets; not for something I could have avoided. Reservations, sure, but not regrets.

This one seems to be taking quite a bit longer to write. I’ve distracted myself several times over the past few hours. Perhaps what it really is is thinking about the future – my future – and what it means.* Would it have been nice to experience this twenty years ago? To have an idea of what I really like to do? My life would be completely different if I had.  I’d have experience and maybe able to call my own shots, name my own price. Would my life be better? Ah, now there’s the rub. I don’t know. On paper, it looks like it should be, but I don’t know. Maybe I burn out before I’m 40. Maybe I start to half-ass my job, and maybe I get fired. Maybe I can’t get rehired anywhere. Maybe I’m homeless, because I’m too ashamed to ask my family for help. I don’t know. That’s the biggest reason I try to stay away from “if only.” That way lies madness.

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Memorial compass, with a touch of sun in the west. Alms Park, Cincinnati, May 2015

Much continues to go on in the world. People die, some by their own hand or the hands of others, some from disasters both natural and man-made, and for some, it’s just their time. Recently, I learned of a death that hit a little closer to home. A long time ago, near the end of the last century, I was redefining myself. I didn’t realize this was something that was going to happen every few years or so, but that’s neither here nor there. Two years prior, I’d attended a church event for the first time in several years. The Presbyterian (PCUSA) General Assembly was meeting at Riverfront Coliseum (different name now, but that doesn’t matter; it’s always Riverfront Coliseum to me), and because of the structure of the Presbytery, there were sessions open to all. Pretty democratic, Presbyterians. I sat in a room with thousands of others, all sharing a moment of just being, being a part of something so big. I’d realized I missed that. I wanted it back in my life.

For the next two years, there were some pretty significant changes in my life. In that time, I looked for a new church home. I had to get over my initial terror and discomfort, of course, but I managed. I’d found one that I was comfortable with, but the congregation was small. Someone had mentioned a fairly active church in town, in a very nice neighborhood. I was nervous about going, thinking I’d stick out like a sore thumb. One Sunday, I worked up the nerve to go. Within five minutes, I’d felt I’d found it, my new church home. The congregants were kind and welcoming, interested only in seeing my interest. There was no awkwardness, no discomfort. It fit.

Then the choir sang.

If I’d heard them first, I probably would have ignored anything that seemed negative, at least for a while. I have been in a choir off and on for probably 25 of the last 35 years. I wasn’t while I was in Colorado, although in my last months, I did audition for one. My audition wasn’t great, but they did something they usually don’t – asked me to try again at the next audition in January.  By the time January had rolled around, I knew I would have to leave, so I didn’t, but, like going to the General Assembly, I understood that I was missing a piece of me. Hearing this choir was the final decider. This is where I would stay.

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The Ohio River peeks through the greenery, highlighted by the sun. Alms Park, Cincinnati, May 2015

The following January, I managed to make myself go to the first rehearsal of the new year. I was terrified. Here were all these people who knew each other, had known each other for upwards of 30 or even 40 years, and this director who, though not particularly tall, is very imposing. That was one of the best decisions of my life.

There’s a point, I promise.

After some event or other, we had a choir party. There were beverages of an adult nature. I’d brought a bottle of White Zinfandel. I wasn’t much into wine, and hadn’t really tried any. One of the choir members, Tom Mooney, objected. He lectured me, in the nicest way possible†, on the flaws of my wine choice, and directed me to other options. His sharp wit and kindness endeared him to me almost immediately. I looked forward to seeing him every week, and was happy to call him friend. His advice was always sound – and not always about wine – and his charm infallible. When I left for Colorado in 2001, I knew he would be one I would definitely miss.

I was gone for 10 years. In my head, of course, nothing had changed here, but time doesn’t work that way. Quite a bit had changed. For one thing, everyone was older. Minds weren’t as sharp, hands less steady. Changes in the way the services were handled affected everything. Overall for the better,  but the traditional service saw fewer of the younger members. People who were in the choir when I’d left were no longer singing. Including Tom. He’d been fading recently, was in hospice care last week, and Thursday, he was gone.

If I could stomach it, I’d have gladly raised a toast of White Zin in his honor. Except that thanks to Tom, that stuff tastes like Kool-Aid to me, entirely too sweet. So, at Friday’s tasting, I toasted him with a fruity, floral white blend.

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*Hi, how’s it goin’? No reason, I’d just noticed there weren’t any footnotes yet. Felt weird.

†Make no mistake, though, it was a lecture.

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.

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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!

_________________________

*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.

Ault Fall_0027a
Sunny fall day. Almost any time the sun is out, people come out too.
Bridal Workshop - Amanda 150a
One of my favorites from a November 2013 Workshop session.
Ault Fall_0121a
Same fall day, same park as the first photo.
Lunken Moon_0041a
I need to get up in the morning; the moon is in a perfect spot for me before 8 right now.
Mt Echo Hoops_0006a
Downtown from Mt Echo this past May

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

Enoughism

Intern Wedd_0157a1
From this spring. An unplanned moment, the ones I love so much. The photos I took Thursday won’t be shared until the couple themselves have seen them.

Once again, life has gotten in the way of intentions. I’ve been tired and sore, worn out from all my goings on, and I’m afraid something had to give. There are things I’ve wanted to do that I just haven’t been able to* – this past Thursday, for instance, I planned to go to my stepmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. I had shot a wedding earlier that day, which was an excellent use of my time, I thought, but by the time it was over, everything hurt, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was even a bit nauseous, making eating something I probably wouldn’t have appreciated, despite the fact that it would have been good. Frustrating, that. It could be the time of the year – I tend to have less energy as the light of the days grows shorter – it could be my regular job, it could be the constantly shifting weather. It could, of course be my own health, a temporary downturn, which is also not unusual. Focus on the “temporary.” Nonetheless, I opted to sleep rather than write last Saturday, and last Sunday, well, I still had no energy. On the up side, I now desperately need to do laundry. Hmm, guess that’s not much of an up side, is it? Well anyway, I know what I’m doing after breakfast today.

On the 20th of this month, I got a call while I was at work, early in my day. My aunt, my father’s oldest sister, had passed. It wasn’t unexpected, she’d been ill, but it was still difficult. I spent the rest of my day in a fog. I really don’t remember much of what I did. I only knew that there was a possibility I would have to take time off for a funeral, and it would be an all-day affair. It was yesterday, the 28th, a day I already had scheduled off. The occasion was both sad and joyous, a celebration of a life well-lived, and a congregation of family members, some of whom I hadn’t seen since I learned to drive. We’re planning to go to the Festival of Lights at the zoo tonight, my first cousin and first cousin once removed and I. She’s my age, the younger one. Actually, she’s older.ˆ My cousin has her camera, so that should be fun. I think you know by now how much I enjoy sharing that experience.

2013-03-23 Homegoing 046a
From my grandmother’s repast in 2013. Sadly, the sharp-dressed man in red, my uncle Lee, is no longer with us.

After hearing about my aunt, my mind went to a dark place. Not a bad one, just dark. I had little energy for the things I wanted to do, including write. I didn’t have the reaction I usually have when I’m ready to write. Normally  when I wake up in the morning, I have a song in my head. A fragment, a hook, a refrain, or even the whole thing, if I’m lucky. On the mornings I plan to write, though, I have words. The ideas flow through like water, a stream of consciousness, and I have to somehow catch it. That didn’t happen last week.

The plan was to riff on a sermon I’d heard the previous week, presented by a guest pastor† at my church. It was about enough; he called the practice “enoughism.” The gist is that we divide what we have, our belongings, our food, our water, our finances, not so that everyone is the same, but so that everyone has at least enough. It’s somewhere between socialism and the free market system, although I’m sure there are plenty who would gladly argue how it truly is one or the other, passionately defending their positions. Passion is great, but it means nothing without valid information, and that is nearly impossible to find if you won’t listen to any opinion but your own.

He talked about justice, about love, and about enough. He explained how, in his mind, justice is love, and love, justice. Now on the surface, that seems a bit harsh. Here’s the thing, though: He differentiated types of justice. The type we’re accustomed to in the US, and in many parts of the world, really, is retributive. The goal is to punish whomever we determine to be in the wrong. It’s of precious little benefit to anyone – the wrongdoer has no other options because he has no other skills once he’s been released, depending on the type of crime, the job market is significantly narrower already, and even among those jobs he could have, many simply will not hire him. That doesn’t give anyone a chance to make good, to change their ways, to become someone better. It happens, sure, but just as with the child who pulls herself from abject poverty to become someone special, it’s rare. So very rare.

Cincinnati Zoo
Sometimes it’s easier to add a different species to “Us” than a different member of our own.

The justice he meant is distributive justice. It’s the type of justice he believes Jesus meant. Not that everyone should have the same, but that they should have enough. Working a full week for 40 hours should give that worker enough to live on, to eat, to have a roof over their heads, to put clothes on their backs, and maybe even have some to put aside for a rainy day. Making sure someone has enough, that is a show of love, of kindness, of humanity. Justice is love, and love, justice.

How I see it takes it a step further. If there is a person who is homeless, who is hungry, who has all but given up, that person needs more than food or shelter or clothing, that person needs to know that she is a person. We are social creatures; this is something that we as human beings should be doing. We take care of those who can’t take care of themselves, lift those of our tribe who have fallen, carry them with us rather than leave them behind. Once they are no longer a part of our tribe, though, they become “Them,” and no longer worthy of our support. Our tribes have grown, not only in size, but number. It’s a large, scary place, this world, and it’s easy to be afraid. Once we allow that to take over, once we permit fear to make our decisions, then we also allow the ostracization of those who we fear are no longer “Us.” The “Them” has increased as our world expands. People in our own country, our own states, our own neighborhoods, don’t have enough, and because they are now “Them,” they likely never will. And that, I think, is a great tragedy.

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*I had a side note, but then I got distracted with something else, and I forgot what my tangent was going to be.
Yep, I had to make a footnote for that.

†John Dominic Crossan – soon as he opened his mouth, we knew he wasn’t from around here. His website doesn’t give much, but he does have a few bits and bobs online.

^Six whole months, sure, but that counts!

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.