Fun in the Sun
It’s neither sunny here, nor fun.
As a matter of fact, I’m in the middle of intercept slope forms, functions of graphs, and linear equations.
Good stuff. And look! Only 24 more to go!
I want my Mom. 😦
Tonight, I paid $109 of Mom’s electric bill: I surprised her, because she was behind and in a hard place.
And here you are. You could be loving her, truly loving her. Instead, you seek my hurt- my destruction- and it delights you to break your own Mother’s heart.
Let me tell you- hell will find you tonight. And death will come upon you as a whirlwind, because you have turned away from the love of God.
And let this be a testament against you for you are full of hypocrisy and harm. DEATHEATER.
He’s from the wrong side of the tracks.
You do not want to mess with this cat.
And this is his happy face.
Canon Rebel Xti
50 MM 1.8 II
The Bird Whisperer
Canon Rebel Xti
50 MM 1.8 II
From today’s test run:
J and I took the new camera out for a spin. We went to one of our favourite hangouts- the abandoned leather factory in a neighboring city. Just as I’d predicted, the kit lens was pretty much useless. I stuck with my 50 MM for most of the day. (I like the way it mimics film with added depth.)
I’m not sure there aren’t bodies in there somewhere…
Josh, checking his camera settings (and yes, that’s actually the Canon G3- long considered a dinosaur. Still a great cam for a P&S).
We had to be quick in there. J led as I followed:
There were all sorts of goodies in there. 🙂
J shoots blindly into the dark- 6 second long exposure.
And of course, our trip just wouldn’t have been a typical trip without a visit from our local police!
That’s right. Drive away, sir…
Everything was frozen solid today.
J didn’t seem to mind. The concrete was so slick he could skate easily. We always have a great time. 🙂 .
Taken earlier in the day. Those pants are just wrong.
My favourite from today- the outside of the abandoned leather factory. (Semi HDR)
The New Toy has Arrived!
I’ve been shooting with a crappy 4 MP camera for so long that I’d forgotten what a DSLR was like! Although I’m sure I ordered the 60 D (quite sure of it), I received the 600D- the T3i. It’s a slight step down- very slight- and the customer service was a total nightmare (42nd street photo in New York), I’m happy with the quality of the T3i and it’s not worth the hassle to return it and haggle with the (very rude) owner. He asked how I was doing, and I let him know that I had a blazing migraine. Instead of making the call brief, he went on to tell me that he’d received three parking tickets that morning and so he too “had a migraine”. Not funny! He then went on to try and upsell everything. Pretty fricking tacky.
He told me that I’d ordered the wrong speed memory card, which I clearly hadn’t- I ordered exactly what I wanted, and he continued trying to upsell the order, saying, “Alright, but when the memory card doesn’t work…yada yada yada..” Are you serious?! He also neglected to send me a confirmation email so there was no way to dispute or confirm the exact order. Nice.
I received the camera today, and just as I imagined, the memory card worked perfectly, etc. He was a real piece of work, and I’m quite sure I’ll never order anything from him again.
Apart from all of that, I’m tickled to be shooting with an 18 MP. cam. 🙂
Canon Rebel Xti/50 MM 1.8 II/manual/self port.
More photos later. I’m heading out to take this puppy for a spin!
Helping the Homeless
Tonight, J & I went on another brandy walk. Now, before you go and start thinking that I have an alcohol dependency, consider that in days past, I would kick back a fifth of whiskey with the girls and end up on the other side of Indianapolis with a raging hangover, wondering how I got there.
I’ve scaled back to the reward of 1 shot per quarter mile. That’s right. Much like a horse and carrots, I’m rewarded with brandy. Do the work- you get a shot! I’ve found that this actually works where walking in the frigid cold is concerned. Rather than thinking you deserve a few shots “just because”, it’s much more gratuitous and effective if you actually “do something” first, then give yourself a shot. After a while, you become trained that “doing the work” gets you the “reward”. And it’s not a bad reward if you don’t exceed 5 shots or so. More than 5 on a regular basis and you’re setting yourself up for dependency.
I received a letter today from a head official in my community:
Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. there is a meeting on homelessness in the Mayor’s office, can you come? It is going to be interesting and the truth about homelessness in this community needs to be told. Feel free, I will be there and I would love for you to come. It is in the Quadrangle in City Hall. Let me know if you are coming. We are revamping and want to use all the pictures, is that ok? The design will basically remain the same but stats, twitter, etc. will be added. Hope you all are doing well. Take care. [Name omitted for confidentiality purposes]
This is great news and I’ll tell you why.
I’m an x-resident in that particular homeless shelter. I was there 13 different times in my life. I saw and mentally recorded numerous accounts of people “using the system” for their benefit, not only that, many people using their food stamps for currency, trading “up” on drugs for 1/2 on the dollar. Meaning, if a quarter bag is $60, they would buy it for $120 of food stamps. I saw this over and over again.
You will never know the inner workings of a systems unless you get down in the gutter with the people and get your hands dirty. I do know what I’m talking about because I was there, with the people, for many years. The difference between me and many homeless people is that I’m passionate about “change”. If you don’t grab the reigns of life and believe you can make a difference, you never will.
And we all have the capability and strength to make a difference- some of us haven’t been taught that yet.
So, I’m pretty stoked that I’ll be joining one of the top dogs of the city for a meeting with the mayor discussing the homeless and change. The “higher ups” have the master’s degrees and know the ins and outs of diplomatic exchange, but I’m from the street, and I have a double masters in life. I’m able to share with them some things that their degrees will never teach them. And what an honour! I want to do what I can to make a difference in my city.
I built a website for my community:
I took all of the pictures, I did all of the write-ups, I built it from scratch. For the past few years, I’ve paid the annual fees to host it- it isn’t much, but I feel good knowing that I’m doing something for my community. If you are reading this, and feel like you can make a donation, however small, to the website above, there’s a donation tab inside the link there and believe me when I say, every penny counts.
New Camera on its Way
I remember last year, having to sell my whole rig to pay the rent and buy groceries.
Canon Rebel XSI
Lensbaby Composer Pro w/ Double Glass OpticsZ
Lensbaby + Sweet optic 35
(kit) 18-55 MM/75-300
50 MM 1.8 II (prime)
Lens reversal adapter/coupling ring
Extra batteries + charger/neck strap etc. etc.
It broke my heart to have to do that, but considering it allowed me to take care of my family through some very difficult times, I don’t regret the decision and would do it again if I had to. During all of 2012 I’ve shot with a 4 MP Canon Power shot, and for a serious “artographer” as myself, that has been difficult.
I’ve recently received the remains of my Financial Aid for school, and after paying (the school) back $1,380, my mom $500- brother $500- along with a few more chunks of hundreds here and there (bills, etc.) I had just enough left over to order another DSLR: Canon EOS 60D 18 MP. After shooting all year with a 4 MP- I cannot wait to have an actual DSLR in my hands again!
I ordered one that came with the kit (18-55 standard lens) which pretty much sucks as a lens- but, with a bit of experience and know-how (of which both I possess) you can pull off some pretty good shots with one. I’d be a fool to not order a 50 MM 1.8 II prime lens- it’s $100 brand new, which is pennies compared to other lenses, but the 50 MM makes an excellent portrait lens with considerably good bokeh. For those that may be reading this that have no idea what bokeh means, it’s a Japanese word that actually means “senile” or mentally foggy. Photographically, it translates as the super blurry parts of an image, apart from the focal point or subject, and it’s usually in the BG/background, but there is also what I call “reverse bokeh”, and that’s when you have a sharp focal point with a super-blurred FG/foreground.
Another attractive feature the 50 MM offers is that it’s a fixed focal length- there’s no zooming to be had. That means, if you want to get a close-up shot of your subject or subjects, you have to actually walk up to them. The 50 MM captures a field that equate to a 35 MM and it’s the closest thing to capturing a scene that your eye actually sees. You can’t go wrong with a 50 MM- ever- and it’s a great lens to take on trips, etc. because although it captures a subject beautifully regarding macros, it also makes an excellent landscape lens- many people don’t know that.
Here are two examples below, both taken with a 50 MM 1.8 II:
Sketch, one of the many cats we’ve owned over the years:
The Longest Dream (Perrin Park/Indiana)
Not too shabby for a $100 lens. Some of my favourite lenses are the Lensbaby Composer Pro (double glass ops), Sigma 17-70 (great walk around lens- it’s a wide angle on one end and a macro on the other- excellent lens), Sigma 10-20 (super wide) , and there are others, but the 50 MM prime remains at the top of any lens I’ve ever used. This lens is an absolute must have for any advanced amateur and pro, for that matter.
I should be receiving my goodies in the mail within the next week. I’ve spent the last 8 years developing my own unique style, a style that’s recognizable to most of the people who know my work, and I’m considering posting a few tutorials in the areas of layering, mastering your lighting (in camera- and in post processing) and developing a trademark style that is unique to your personal preferences. I’ve had many requests over the years but have just been so busy- hopefully I can do that sometime soon. (We’ll see.)
It’s another busy day and I’ll be filling mine with housecleaning, lots of school work and supper to cook.
Interval Notations and Honey Brandy
Good golly what have I gone and gotten myself into?
It’s 2:24 a.m. and typical as ever, the house is alive and buzzing as if it were 3 p.m. Brian and Brianna (sorry Brian…) -Brianna and “Bob” are in their room doing God knows what- I hear occasional screams, back and forth- I have no idea what they’re going on about in there…
“Lotus Flower” (Radiohead) plays on my speakers and Brian…I mean, Bob is dancing around the kitchen-head poking in and out of the fridge. It’s possibly the coolest chill song ever. You really should give it a listen- it always puts me in a super good mood, no matter what:
I’m quite sure he’s higher than a kite- Mr. Yorke.
You know I love you, Tom. My kids think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
(I do too.)
Bob puts his hand on his head, shakes his hips and tries to moonwalk.
“Dude, you did not just do that…” I say to him.
He smiles at me deviously, revealing more of his gnarley socks.
Tomorrow is a full day and I have no idea what I’m doing up at 2:30 a.m. I’m supposed to wake up at 7:00 a.m. and hit the prayer closet, then read a few chapters from the KJV. I have sadly slackened off lately.
Consider this. We take care of our bodies- we bathe, we try to eat good so we can live longer. But why do we want to live longer? Especially those that hate to live. I’m not one of them- I love life- and think there’s something to be gained from pain.
But we do what the television tells us to do. It says work out- we work out. It says “be pretty- feel sexy”- we are pretty and sexy. And so on.
But what do we do for our spirits? Our souls? I scratch my head and search for an answer. It’s been too long. I’m not uneducated in spiritual matters. I’ve just gotten lazy. So, I’ve decided that tomorrow I will wake up exceptionally early and pray. This clashes with my honey brandy tonight though, and I’m feeling particularly stressed out, so I’m having a few shots.
I just know this. Whenever I rise up early in the morning and pray, I feel directed. I feel stronger and my day has purpose. I need to get that back.
“Reckoner” rolls out of the speakers now…
“You are not to blame for bittersweet distractions…dedicated to all human beings…”
From Zero to Hero
When I first met J, he had long hair well past his shoulders. He was a total stoner, just as I was, and was fresh out of a foster home: he was 18. My brother had brought him over one night, looking for some Klonopin (of which I had plenty at the time) and sort of left him on my doorstep. My brother was inebriated and wandered off into the night, having left his friend behind.
I had lost two of my children to the system some 14 years before, due to a series of tragedies, and so my heart really went out to the guy when he shared with me his story. His mother had been murdered when he was only 7. His Dad died of a heart attack when he was 14. He was sent to live with his grandmother afterwards, who treated him unkindly, and from there, he was placed in one foster home after the next. I was still fighting for the return of my own children at that time, and when we compared notes, we soon realized that our stories were strikingly similar, except he was “the kid from the foster homes” and I was “the parent fighting for mine to return”; nevertheless, we shared the same feelings, ideas, notions, beliefs, struggles, and hopes. It was obvious that there was an age gap- 18 years to be exact- and I thought, at best, we would become friends who shared a spectacular understanding of loss and life.
We talked for the next three days- without sleeping. We smoked a lot of weed and bonded entirely. We both knew that we had “found somebody” who could truly understand our paths, both past and present. We discovered that we were both Christians, and singers/songwriters/musicians. We were also both French and Indian (native American).
As I learned more about this amazing guy, I realized that he had a gift in the areas of endurance and overcoming tragedy. I hadn’t yet learned many lessons that he had learned, and at some an early age. I followed him like a shadow, studying his easygoing manner, his very slow and methodical way of speaking. I noticed that he never spoke without giving what he said much thought. I on the other hand, often stuttered and, especially in his presence, was tongue tied and gushed out any ole thing my brain was thinking at the time. I completely lacked finesse and grace.
I was also extremely hot-headed. If somebody pissed me off, I was ready to roll- and I do mean roll. J and I weren’t by any means “an item” but we grew close and formed a unique bond. I taught him the ropes in photography; how to compose a shot and the importance of exposure and lighting. He soon became my apprentice and model. I painted a huge set of butterfly wings on my wall and he became my living butterfly. (They made for very interesting pics. 🙂
The weeks turned into months, and the months years. I grew to love J with all of my heart, and have never known a love so strongly, apart from my children and parents, but this was a different kind of love altogether. I’ve learned so much from him, as he has from me. We quit smoking pot ( 5 years ago) together, and we quit smoking cigarettes together around the same time. We quit drinking whiskey together and somehow, we’ve worked the worst out of each other and have polished up our best parts.
When we first met, we were both aimless, bleeding wounds in life. He’s been able to comfort me, and repair some places in my heart and soul that were dying. I’ve been able to care for him and give him the nurturing and love that he’s craved for many years.
Although he was riddled with unspeakable horrors as a child, he was able to become an outstanding academic student, which has rubbed off on me entirely. We’re now both college students and can call each other a “life partner”. We’ve literally grown up together. Saying that J is a “boyfriend” is somewhat insulting. He’s so much more. If he were my husband, there would be labels and expectations and such. We share a unique friendship, but with a love and respect much stronger. I’ve often told him that I would rather be dirt poor, living in a cardboard box with him, under a bridge, than to have a fine mansion without him. And it’s true.
And that’s the funny thing about love. It’s such a precious thing in this world; when it comes to you, you must hold it like a child, cultivate it, and care for it like the most delicate of possessions. In five months, it will have been 7 years since J showed up at my door.
“I love this little pitty…and this little pitty….and this little pitty….” J says, grabbing my toes and smiling at me. I return the smile, my heart swelling and burning with love.
Who knew it would take an 18 year old kid to make a woman out of me?
(And such a trainwreck of a person to make a man out of him.)
We’re not the same people were were years ago. We’ve merged into the same being in a way. We can give each other one look and say so many things. He picks things out of my head almost constantly- verbatim- and that’s really freaky, but so very neat. I feel like the very threads of our souls are intertwined. I speak much slower now. 🙂 And I always think before I speak.
My little car is falling apart, and so I’ll be getting another soon. I told J that I will give him this one when I do- it can be his fixer upper. He just replaced the alternator and the battery, and I love the way he stands here, holding his prize (like a caveman) – the beast- conquered.
Life can change so quickly sometimes. One big earthquake can bring a nation to its knees and everything you have today can be gone tomorrow. I think of these things daily. I can’t speak for tomorrow, but today, love is not only in my life, but it rules it. I barely have two pennies that I can rub together, but J’s love has made me a rich woman.
And I’ll take love over money, any day…
Glutton for Punishment
By now, I’m guessing that I like to take on far more than I can handle. I like the pressure and I like to be challenged. I added two more classes to my course load (Earth Science and Health Psychology), as if Public Speaking and Pre-Calculus weren’t enough. It will be an interesting semester for sure.
If all goes well, I’ll be able to intern this summer at a substance abuse clinic (or behavioral health facility) and possibly graduate before the fall semester, where I’ll return to work on my bachelor’s in Sociology. Perhaps I’ll minor in Criminal Justice, but I’m not sure yet.
I don’t want to fit into a little box and do what everybody else does, I know that. I want to specialize in particular areas and develop programs and such. We’ll see where the road leads. People don’t understand why I don’t want to use my talents (singing, composing music, etc.) in a bigger way, such as- on a stage. But I have no desire to ever “be famous” – it’s sickening what the world does to people, and what they allow to be done to them. Famous people have almost no rights! They’re not allowed to speak freely- lest they lose “fans”- they’re not allowed to do what they like when it’s all said and done. They sign a contract, and they’re bought and owned, no longer freely their own person. There’s nothing attractive about that to me- not for all the money in the world.
Besides, people want to worship other people, and there are some that love to be worshipped with lots of “followers”. Gag.
It all sickens me…
I like what Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
That’s part of the reason I despise Facebook and Twitter so much. People feel the need to tell the world what they’re doing 24/7. (Get over yourself already!) I call it being “Facebook Famous”- and there are millions of wannabees.
The world seems full of marshmallow people these days, blowing powdered sugar up each others’…noses. Flattery…super-sweet cynicism with an extra batch of exclamation points. They leave their calling card “great shot!” (etc. etc.) and few really take the time to actually “comment” on things these days, or critique something with heart. What are they after? I will tell you. They want to be noticed. Simple as that. “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” So they go around, commenting (in two or three words “drive-by comments”) or better yet (note the sarcasm) they’ll simply press the “like” button and hope that they’ll receive a reciprocal “like” and perhaps gain a new “follower”. It all just makes my stomach turn.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with following a blog. I do follow a couple myself. I just really can’t stand the whole “I have 1,565 Facebook friends and 500 people are “following me!!” <<<< Take a freaking leap off of a cliff already and swim in the sea of reality for a while. Shut your internet down for a month or two- get away from everybody in the world- and just sit among the trees- listen to the wind and do some soul searching. The superficiality of social networking has really gotten on my last nerve, along with the egos of all who devour it.
I think I’m done with my rant…
the day started out with me taking J to his appointment with his lawyer. We had 15 minutes to rush to our neighboring city to make his court appearance. The car was…dead. I’m guessing it was the battery. I urged J to run around the corner to a bar and see if he could find anyone with jumper cables. Luckily, he came back moments later with a guy from Firestone, who happened to have a battery pack and was able to start the car. We made it to court, and naturally, when we returned, the card was dead. Again. So, I called AAA and had somebody give us another jump.
“This won’t be the last time you see us,” I said to Eric, the AAA guy.
And it wasn’t.
Right around the corner, ole Betsie started coughing and sputtering; she barely made it over to the side of the road, convulsing at a mere 2 MPH, but- we made it to the curb. I sent J into the closest building to call – you guessed it- AAA. We waited for 45 minutes and were finally towed home.
So now we’re homebound for the next week until we can get another battery.
The bad news is that we’ll all have cabin fever, no doubt.
The good news is that we have toilet paper.
Unlike some people, I don’t count my wealth in coins or dollars. No, I count it in T.P.
When I have a heap of fresh, new rolls- I swear I feel rich.
Yes, my life really is so simple that I can be happy when I have toilet paper…
My toilet paper rose-
[Back in the day, the girls in jail loved ’em.]
I suppose I could say it’s been a crappy day, but no…it’s been a great day. Just…adventurous.
Things could always be worse.
I try to remember that.
New Beginnings and Homemade Pasta
I can hardly believe school starts in the morning.
It’s 2:54 a.m. and J and I are sitting at the table drinking tea. We’re getting ready to play Annagram Magic (I love anagrams) online. I celebrated last night, after a dedicated week of (rabbit food) fruits and vegetables with intermittent fasting, with a dinner of:
homemade pasta (with thyme, parsley, and basil mixed into the dough) in lemon, butter, garlic sauce
mussels in white wine and garlic
pan seared shrimp with chile, honey, and garlic
mixed greens (mustard/collard) and julienne red, orange, and yellow peppers sauteed in E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil) imported from Italy with a shot of balsamic vinegar
Finished off with ribeye steaks
I am a mean cook. 🙂
J & I made two plates and took them over to my mom and brother’s house. I love to feed my family. There’s almost nothing that makes me happier than cooking a delicious meal and passing out the plates. 🙂
Josh is here, holding a plate of the homemade pasta.
Brianna teases Josh and asks him when Rumspringa will be over. (That’s for Amish people.) He does look a bit Amish these days- I adore him. 🙂
The pasta was super easy to make (Ahem….Heidi and Brianna…).
Take two cups of flour and four eggs- and mix it. Mix in some herbs if you like. (Or garlic powder, paprika, rosemary, oregano, etc. )
Beat the heck out of it for 5 minutes.
Roll it out (you can even use a can good like I did).
Slice it into thin strips with a pizza roller.
Throw it in some boiling water for 8 minutes or so.
Voila. That’s it. Really simple. Top it off with any sauce you like.
I’m off to play Annagram Magic.
So this is day four of my radical crash “diet”. Hell week is halfway over and I’m feeling really good! I’m actually down 5 or 6 lbs. and I can’t believe how much stronger I feel. I’m more agile, more energetic, emotionally pumped and feel like I have a portion of my sense of humour back. I don’t feel like I’m slowly dying every day- I feel like I’m on the right track.
Day one, I was only allowed to eat fruits.
Day two- vegetables.
Day three- fruits and vegetables.
Today, Brianna, J, and I went to Outback Steakhouse and I stuck with my glass of wine and house salad. I’m not going to punish myself if I have fattening salad dressing. My common sense tells me that I’ll balance things out if I go pump out a mile at the track. So…
although it’s freezing cold outside, and pitch dark, J & I are headed out on a brandy walk. A brandy walk is pounding out a mile at the track, and then relaxing with a few shots as a reward. I do feel a bit more disciplined than I did a week ago. I have boundaries that I can’t cross, and I appreciate them.
When I get back, I have to down some Dragon’s Blood along with a hard 20 minute workout on my abs and 10 minutes on the Gazelle. Nothing is over the top- it’s all in moderation- I’m not in a race. It’s a lifestyle change, and it’s a gradual process.
But I see differences already. And I’m stoked. 🙂
Off to the trak…