I’m Back!(?)

Well, it’s probably too soon to tell. This is just my first day of a two-week vacation after all. You know what they say about good intentions. Could be another couple months until my next blog post, but we’ll see.

I’ve made myself a list of vacation projects and that in itself is probably not a good start to a vacation. But if I don’t make a list (who doesn’t love lists?) I will waste away the time doing nothing but surfing on my phone.

And on the subject of surfing, I was thinking the other day about how I go from one hobby to another, not really sticking with one long enough to really master it. Remember my paella manifesto? Or my pottery lessons? If you don’t it’s because I never really stuck to either of these long enough for anyone, not even me, to see what that was all about. Is this because of a short attention span? Do I get bored easily? Maybe a little of both.

Because like I said earlier I really do like making lists, here are just some of the activities I’ve tried:

  • photography
  • playing guitar
  • youth sports photography
  • journaling (Morning Pages)
  • bullet journaling
  • blogging
  • making paella
  • pottery
  • crocheting
  • reading
  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • gardening
  • and the latest, baking

relic cameraSome of these have stuck around longer than others. Photography, of course, is one activity that is not so much a hobby but a way of looking at the world around me. I will always have a camera (although the one on my phone gets used regularly since it’s always with me) and I do pick it up now and then.

 

I love to cook, but the quest to perfect the paella is now just a desire to enjoy a good seafood dish every now and then. Now I’m thinking more sweet than savory. I’ve never baked much that didn’t involve a convenient box mix, but from the first episode of The Great British Baking Show that I stumbled upon while browsing Netflix, I was hooked. I’ve watched almost all of them now and my Pinterest board for “Breads, Sweets, and other Treats” keeps growing.

Crocheting was fun as well as challenging. It seems to be more of a fall and winter activity but I’ve put it on my list for the next two weeks because I would like to crochet some Christmas gifts this year.

depth

Pottery was fun too though. I should take another class. I’ve never been to formal yoga class but I’ve found a YouTube channel I like and whenever I feel the need I pull up one of Adriene’s videos and stretch the kinks out. Zumba is still a weekly activity and I would love to do it more than once a week regularly.

I watched a video a couple weeks ago about how to “Create an Amazing Life” and one suggestion was to be a lifelong learner. Try different things. Acquire new skills. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to have an amazing life by trying new things and seeing what sticks.

How about you? Is there anything you’ve tried that you’d like to get back to? What new hobby are you into? Maybe there’s something else I need to add to my list!

 

Hello, old friend

img_9296It’s been a long time since I last spent much time with you, my friend. I’m afraid I’ve been uninspired. The events (or in some cases the anticipation of events that never happened) have robbed me of any motivation to do more; be more.

But I’m going to try.  The camera’s out of the bag. I’m not expecting to suddenly find inspiration around the next corner, but I’m definitely not going to just stumble over it.

As a start, here are a couple of shots from the last time I tried to do anything creative with my trusty camera. It’s a shot of our dear friend and luthier extraordinaire, Thom Schiff, in the back corner of his workshop. I don’t think he always works in the dark, but he does tend to do his best work in the late night hours.

Hopefully it won’t be another year before you hear from me again.

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee right now, I’d tell you about the exciting day I had yesterday. We’d been hearing rumors for a couple of months, and then were advised a couple of weeks ago to sign up for one of the training sessions offered. What were we being trained on? So glad you asked. How to survive an active shooter situation.

In preparation for the drill but ahead of the training we were given these instructions:

  1. Do not bring any weapons inside the building.
  2. Do not call 911.
  3. Do not tackle or attack the police officers.

OK now, first of all, I understand we have a right to carry in this state. But the thought that some of my co-workers might be packing on a regular day is not comforting at all. And do they really have to tell us not to actually call 911? I wasn’t expecting anyone to get so caught up in the excitement that they forgot it was just a drill. I was a little confused by #3. Why would we try to tackle the police? But then I realized that by “police” they meant the police officer who was playing the “bad guy” role. During the training they told us that if we chose to defend ourselves, to just put two fists up in the air. This would be the signal that if this was a real situation we would be engaged in some kind of physical battle.

Based on what I saw, I think most people decided to flee the scene. We were all on edge, waiting for the shooter to make his move. During the training session they repeated a couple of times that the drill would take place in the afternoon. Should have known they were trying to catch us off-guard. The “attack” began a little after 11 am. I didn’t hear shots fired, rather I heard a sudden commotion down the hall and as I jumped up from my chair I saw everyone dashing for the exit near me. I looked quickly to see if Doug was at his desk and he was headed my way with everyone else, headed for the door. I moved quickly to join everyone and then heard shots and everyone picked up speed. We ran to the door and kept running once we got outside. I joined the group heading for the tree line and hid behind the trees. I guess in a real situation we would have kept running, but we all stopped there and waited. Every once in a while we would hear more shots fired. Still, we waited, looking for signs of the response team. Turns out they were already there and caught the shooter in about eight minutes. Those eight minutes felt like at least half an hour.

How would I have responded if this had been real? What would I do if this happened while I was grocery shopping? Or attending an event with large crowds and no place to hide? I have no idea. I don’t think I’m any more ready now for those situations than I was before the training or this drill. I might be slightly more prepared for a workplace shooting only because now I have taken inventory of my surroundings and evaluated exit strategies and places to hide. Don’t have anything at my desk with which to defend myself, but I guess at least I know that much now. But what happens if the “bad guy” is already inside?

Think I might need another cup of coffee.

Written for WordPress’s Finding Everyday Inspiration course. Day 11: A Cup of Coffee

The Sunday Post: Why I write

If we were having coffee this morning, it would be “magic coffee.” After sleeping in on this cold Sunday morning, we decided there really was no good reason for us to leave the house today. Groceries can wait until tomorrow — we have leftovers we can warm up for dinner. Which brings me to the “magic coffee.” After finishing up our first batch of coffee with our French press, we enhanced the second pot with a few special ingredients (we’re partial to the Blitzen). With Alexa providing some background music via Pandora’s Burt Bacharach station, it was a relaxing way to spend a Sunday morning.

So here I sit on the couch in my pajamas, and I’ve just signed up for WordPress’s Blogging University course: Finding Everyday Inspiration. The first assignment is “I write because…”

I’ve tried to write every day since this past summer when I started the “Morning Pages” routine. I’m pretty sure I can count on just one or two hands the number of days I’ve missed since starting. Some days it’s just one page, but I’ve been pretty consistent.

But why do I write?

I guess I write because it’s another way to exercise my brain and creativity. I’m not a great conversationalist. I’m not a great writer either but when I write I can edit myself into someone who sounds a little more intelligent, maybe, or come close to expressing how I really feel about a subject.  When I write I have time to carefully consider the words I put down.

This isn’t the case with my Morning Pages, though, when the goal is just to write whatever’s on my mind for 30 minutes without thinking about it too much. This first assignment is along the same lines:

Today, tell us: why do you write? Set a timer and free-write for 15 or 30 minutes without stopping.

(So, if this post seems a little unstructured and even more ramble-ish than usual, I have a little bit of an excuse.)

I guess writing gives my voice, my spirit, a little more confidence. Taking a photograph that reflects a vision I saw in my head does the same. These two acts breathe a little energy into my body, my soul.

All right so maybe I’ve had enough “magic coffee” for today. See you next time!

Written for WordPress’s Finding Everyday Inspiration course. Day 1: I Write Because…

The Sunday Post

Tonight I don’t really have anything in particular to write about, but as I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing, taking pictures, taking care of myself, I thought it might be a good idea to just write a “weekend coffee share” type post today. Before you click away, here’s a pretty picture to look at:

Twilight Hummingbird
Friday nights

Last Friday after work we had already settled in for what’s become our Friday night routine: movie night (usually a double-feature) with a dinner spread consisting of hummus, crackers, cheese, orange wedges, and tequila. (I highly recommend this, by the way. Great way to unwind after a busy week.) I noticed that the light outside was quite unusual and had an eery quality to it. We watched our movie a little while and then Doug suggested I go out and take a picture. There wasn’t a whole lot out there; I didn’t have any flowers blooming, and everything just seemed too ordinary. Until he brought his guitar out.  I’m afraid the two dozen or so pictures that I managed to get before the light was gone do not do it justice.

As I said earlier, I’m trying to get back in the habit of doing things that are good for the soul, good for the body. It’s not easy to do when there are so many things on your mind. Family issues, office drama and politics, plus financial concerns are all detractors from a creative life. It’s getting better though. While the situation has not changed much in the last couple of months, I do feel a little better this week about one particular situation. I’m hoping there will be progress on that front soon.

I’m pretty proud of having completed four photo challenges this month. I got up for an early morning shoot. I’ve written in my Morning Pages journal every day this month and am currently on a 30-day streak. I’m drinking more water. I took a MixxedFit class for the first time this weekend and am considering doing it again soon. Baby steps, maybe. Still progress.

 

The Sunday Post & Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, it would probably be at Hyperion Espresso and we would be sitting outside, enjoying today’s beautiful spring weather. We wouldn’t be sitting outside at my house because there we’d have to listen to all the power equipment being used by my neighbors. Because it is such a nice day and so everyone is catching up on yard work. Or cutting down all the trees in their yard for some reason.

No, if we were having coffee it would have to be somewhere downtown where we could sit and relax and do a lot of people-watching. I love to try to guess whether someone is a local or from out of town. And by “out of town” I mean not a city resident. I’ve been both so I’m not saying one is better than the other. It’s kind of funny but there are so many people who live not far from “downtown” and they have no idea how to get around in our tiny little downtown area. I used to be one of them until not too long ago.

I lived in the downtown area for about 5 years. Before that I was in the suburbs, and that’s where I am now. I’m in a great big subdivision with amenities like a pool, tennis courts, lots of trees, and schools almost in our back yard. Those amenities are great, but we’ve never used them. As much as I love swimming pools you would think I would spend a great part of my summer at the pool. But at the risk of sounding quite a bit elitist, I much prefer a private pool. Without a bunch of kids splashing and yelling, and no one there to wonder at my nerve to wear a bikini. I used to think I wanted to live in a neighborhood like this, where we could make friends with the neighbors and have each other over for dinner. But if your neighbors aren’t friendly, or maybe they feel a sense of loyalty to the previous residents of our home (who still own the house), then you’re just living in a place where you have to put up with loud neighbors and their loud mowers and weeders.

In just over a year we have to move. Our landlords gave us a three-year lease and they plan to come back their house at the end of the term. So we know we’re moving. The big question is where to go. Back downtown? It would be great to be able to walk to the library, the coffee shop, the butcher, our favorite restaurants and bars. Choices are limited downtown though. Parking is very limited. And that’s no small issue. You’re probably familiar with some of the videos that go viral every once in a while showing a woman trying to park. Stereotypical and unfair to most women, yes. But they kind of apply to me and my parking skills. So we need a place with either off-street parking, or some kind of designated parking area. For two cars (for now, anyway). And when we lived downtown we did complain about parade traffic, football game traffic, and the neighbors there weren’t always the greatest (although it did get a little better when one particular neighbor was forced to change his address to one behind bars).

So our other choice is not in another suburb, but “out in the country.” We could end up somewhere a little out of the way but with an easy drive to and from work. A little house with lots of privacy and space between us and our neighbors. A small place that wouldn’t take all day to clean. But then we would be back to having to drive everywhere.

I think when it’s time to get serious about looking for a new place it’s going to come down to the house (or apartment). As long as it has all the basic elements we’re looking for, the location will end up being secondary. I guess that’s the downside of renting a home. We could be moving quite a few more times, so we’ve already started thinking about downsizing our “stuff” and paring down furniture. When we moved here we got more “stuff” because we had more rooms and needed to fill those rooms. But we moved here for my son, who is still in school. This location put him near his school and his friends. He’s graduating the same month our lease is up.

This time next year is going to hectic and stressful. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it. And I know the next twelve months will be gone in a flash. Wish us luck.

 

 

Consider Yourself Invited

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask you to come with me next week to check out The Adaptations.

What’s that? You have no clue who or what I’m talking about? I guess that’s to be expected since they’re a brand-new act and are just preparing to play their first formal gig together next week.

If we are friends on Facebook there’s a good chance you have already grown tired of my posts and video shares from their practices at the local open mic night in downtown Fredericksburg. But what’s a proud wife to do if not promote her husband’s new musical project?

The Adaptations acoustic duo Fredericksburg
The Adaptations

You may remember me talking about his musical aspirations and frustrations. After all this time and so many changes in both our lives over the last few years, not-so-tireless efforts to build something meaningful and creative, persistence is finally paying off. We knew that it was just a matter of time before late nights at Open Mic would lead to a connection with other musical souls looking for something more. Just over a month ago Doug and Eve sang together for the first time and realized they could possibly make that “something more” happen.

For me, it’s been fun and exciting to watch this develop. Since I have no musical talent whatsoever, the only way I can contribute is with my camera and my marketing skills. And so my friend here I am sharing their website, Facebook page, and videos, and hoping I’ve not bored you to tears yet. If you’re in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, I invite you to come and hear them live on April 19 at the Bistro Bethem where they are participating in the 3-Act Showcase, or the following month at the Colonial Tavern Home to the Irish Brigade (May 24) where they will have their first solo show. You can find out more details on the website or on Facebook.

In the meantime, here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at a recent rehearsal that gives you a small glimpse of what they’re like. Enjoy and be sure to check back here (or on their site) to hear how the shows went (if you can’t make it in person, of course).