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Archive for January, 2010

I know it seems like I haven’t been writing much for the past couple of weeks and that’s sort of true. You see, the thing is, I write for client’s and occasionally they would really like for me to concentrate on their priorities and well, ya know, not my own. Also, since in order to get the client’s I often have to write really long, tailored proposals I have to prioritize that writing over this. (Good news though, the proposal paid off! New client and a great project coming up for the next 6 months or so!!) And sometimes good clients who are just trying to either save money or believe that someone who knows subject matter is better than someone who knows how to write, call me up because they realized through experience that believing the latter can really screw up the former. In other words, their person wasn’t producing quality work and someone had to fix it. That someone, in this instance, is me. In between all of this I’ve had a couple of personal writing projects and, oh yeah, trying to have just a little bit of a life with my Beloved and my beloved friends. 

So, words, words, words have filled my head and my fingers but I have also endeavored to stay true to my camera and for the most part, am succeeding with only a minor hiccup or two here and there. 

First, this week’s Project 365 lessons: 

  1. When in doubt, whip it out! I caught a couple of really cool photos this week of things that I didn’t think were either going to work or that interesting. Not all of them made the cut here, but they are in my files and really, quite nifty.
  2. Personal integrity has to be monitored every f*#kin’ day. One day, I missed taking a photo and I swear the weirdest thought entered my mind — “Should I just use another photo from another day? I mean after all, I’m in the same damn places.” Good god, I scared myself. The answer is obvious, of course not! It’s a damn personal project for my own freakin’ enjoyment and growth! Yet there it was. Right in my head. Me — the fuckin’ paragon of integrity and virtue — and I’m having subversive thoughts. Fortunately, character won out but there’s an evil little imp still kicking in there somewhere. Gotta stay frosty.
  3. I love vistas. I didn’t realize how much I just love the way the world looks until one day I opened my “dumping” folder and saw shot after shot of horizons, scenery, trees, lakes, flowers, sticks, etc. Not many people in my photos. I wonder if it means anything?

 That said, without further ado, I present week four: 

Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 — A bad freakin’ day 

On Monday, I launched myself into a writing project that had been on my mind and climbing up my back for a while. I was on a roll too. The words and the story just flowed and I was IN THE ZONE! Bliss, I tell you. Bliss. Then, after four hours of so of total concentration, final spell check, grammar check, umpteenth proof read, review and approval by my Beloved I was ready to present the work for public consumption — AND MY COMPUTER ATE IT!! Actually, the on-line program I was working in ate it but never-the-less that sucker was gone for good. I raged. I actually cried. I went through the Five Stages of Grief, then finally accepted reality and realized I would have to start over the next day. Then to add insult to injury, I went to my karate class hoping to punch and kick my frustrations out only to remember that classes start an hour earlier the last week of the month. 

At that point, this was the only thing left to do. 

25-365 -- One of those days

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010 — A night with the girls 

I have a fantastic friend in town and on occasion we call each other at the last-minute to meet at our local wine bar for drinks and chit chat. She and I are very similar in many ways and I just love hangin’ with her. On this particular night, her Mom and one of her mother’s friends were there, as was pretty much every mover and shaker in my little town. It seems that the local Historical Association, of which I used to be a board member, finally paid off a pretty big debt and was celebrating. There’s nothing like walking into your favorite haunt, surrounded by good friends and great acquaintances alike, and watching faces light up when they see you. I’m a lucky, lucky girl. 

The shot is another of my “candlelight through glass and liquid” shots. I don’t think I ever tire of this type of image and I have no idea why. 

26-365_A Night with the Girls

Another interesting thing about this evening — completely unprompted by me — my girlfriend’s and a couple of the other local ladies within earshot told me that they think my Beloved Mike is, in fact, hot. Not in the “oh, he’s a nice, responsible man” way, but in the “if we weren’t married and/or if he wasn’t married to you, we ladies would definitely take a carnal interest.” Shrieks of not-very-chaste and definitely un-“ladylike” laughter filled our little corner of the bar. Gotta tell ya something, I LOVE that. Now maybe someone else might be jealous or worried or insulted or, or, or who the fuck knows what unflattering and unpleasant emotions go through people’s minds, but not me. He IS hot. And I consider their comments nothing but a compliment to him and an ‘atta girl!” to me. 🙂 It’s also nice to be a full, functioning person sometimes and not have to keep a veneer of civility plastered to your face. Keep ’em comin’, ladies! 

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 — Glass Pond 

As promised, I’m going to probably end up with 30 to 40 shots of this particular pond just off my biking trail by the time the year is over. This morning, the temperature was in the mid-60s — a little cool but not cold — and the sky was a hazy overcast and the wind was completely still as I started to whoosh by this image. There was almost no one on the trail that morning and I was pretty much by myself the entire ride, passing only a few of the regulars. I ended up riding the bike a little way up the gravel trail in order to shoot the picture from a different angle and ended up hanging out there for about five minutes; but it felt like thirty. It was so completely still and almost silent (except for the damn constant traffic noise from the highway about half a mile away) that for a few minutes it seemed like time really did slow down. Awesome. 

27-365_Glass Pond

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 — Uh, I got nuthin’ 

This was the day without a shot. I should have taken a photo of my pajama clad legs while I was sitting at my desk in front of my computer wondering how in the hell the person who had submitted the crappy script I was reading had the brass boobs to actually turn it in to her client and then CHARGE them for it. Oh. My. God. It was incomprehensible. It was grammatically and semantically a mess. It made no sense what-so-ever. I am still stunned but the sheer audacity of the piece of shit that the woman submitted with the phrase “I really have no idea what you’re looking for here.” How about competence? How about textual beauty? How about effectiveness at conveying concepts and fucking ideas? 

Anyway, there was noooooo picture. 

Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 — First Camellia 

Camellia’s are such a stereotypical Southern flower I knew when we finally landscaped our yard that I’d be including a variety or two. I’ve started with two plants of this white version. They are tucked under a sweeping Drake Elm and flank two massive Peace Lilly plants, who are currently struggling to recover from some nasty cold damage. The Lilly’s were covered, but those plants are just so tender….  The Camellia’s are also backed by a thick Viburnum hedge, next purple Ruellia, yellow Allamand, and close to a massive variegated Hibiscus. Towering above is 60′ – 70′ Lobloly Pine tree and a 40′ – 50′ Feather Palm that Mike and I planted as a pup. Add to the cacophony some variegated grasses, a huge Sago Palm, and a few other hardy weeds and a delicate little white flower about the size of my fist can get lost. But not this one. I spotted it across the damn lawn while I was zipping out on my bike that morning. There it was. White and proud and perfect. This little flower make my freakin’ day, I tell you. 

First Camellia of the season

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 — Lake Apopka, old Dock and Harbor 

I spent Saturday completely re-writing the aforementioned crappy script. I still had to go to the grocery store and get my nails done since Mike and I had an evening at a local club planned. Again, this scene is just on the other side of the block from us so I whipped down for a quick pic on my way to the salon. 

What you’re actually looking at here is a historic dock and harbor. In the 20s and 30s our little town was a very large producer of vegetables and citrus. Before the railway became, one of the primary ways to transport goods and people through Florida were the rivers and lakes. Fruit and vegetables would be loaded on to boats and small barges here, then transported north through a series of canals connecting Lake Apopka with the St. Johns River, and finally to the seaport in Jacksonville.   

And now it’s a park. Of course, there are a few folks who think we should tear out the little harbors because the City has to maintain them  — and because, oh my god, what if someone falls off the bridges? — but quite frankly, those people are idiots. Why we should destroy something so unique and beautiful becomes some cheap-ass bastards haven’t mastered the art of not falling down, I can’t imagine. I almost hope they do fall off the bridges where the alligators can at least solve part of my problem by removing them from my community. Of course, then some idiot will suggest we get rid of the poor ‘gators. Sheesh. 

30-365_ Lake Apopka harbor and walking bridge

Well, that’s the week folks! Hope you enjoyed view from my Dogged Pursuit of Happiness!

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And we’re still running with the Project 365 initiative! So far, I haven’t missed a day, but have come damn close; some photos look like they were shot at midnight for a reason. More lesson’s learned so far:  

  1.  There are wayyyyy more things to take pictures of than I ever realized. Beauty is abundant; interesting things are abundant; time is limitted. Take the fuckin’ picture anyway. This chance isn’t coming back. Same can be said of lots of things.  
  2. Many of the photos aren’t what they seem. There is way more to the story than I can, or in some cases want, to divulge. The same can be said of people.
  3.  iPhones take pretty good photos and I think its limitations helps to improve the shots. No zooming, no adjusting for light, no flash. The only thing that drives me nuts is it isn’t “point and shoot” in that there is a HUGE lag between “deciding” you want to take a picture of something the “shutter click.” I’ve been able to capture things that are still, but moments are elusive and often lost.

So without further ado — Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010  

We live in the perfect neighborhood in a practically perfect little town. I shot this one block from our house on the shore of Lake Apopka in Florida. (Side note — Lake Apopka is in the process of being renewed after years of pollution that almost killed the lake. A slow process, but an important one.) It’s a city park as well as the public boat ramp, the City auditorium, the City pool, etc. are all located right here. They have concerts in the park and shoot off the 4th of July fireworks from here every year.  

I took this at sunset looking across the boat ramp. Mike and I often come down here just to catch the sunset, which, by the way, you can also see out our front door.  

17-365 Lake Apopka, January Sunset_01-17-10

Monday Jan. 18, 2010  

A couple of blocks from our house, we have a “Rails to Trails” park where bike-riders, joggers, tri-athletes, etc. all come to enjoy making their bodies do something. In addition to running through the center of our little downtown, it has some GREAT scenic places as well.  

This is a little pond, just off the trail, with a gravel running/walking path around it. It’s winter and right after a recent freeze so the plants are barely hanging in there. This was the first day this year I was able to get back out there on my bike. I usually ride 5 or 6 days a week, so expect to see something like this a lot as the seasons change.  FYI – there are plenty of alligators in this pond as well! Thanks to being in Florida and Lake Apopka just a few hundred yards away, it’s wise to keep your eyes peeled around here!  

18-365_West Orange Trail Pond_01-18-10

Tuesday Jan 19, 2010  

 Same pond, next day. a little earlier.  Like I said, get used to seeing this one.  

19-365_West Orange Trail Pond_01-19-10

 On another note, the bike ride is part of my fitness routine but also part of my spiritual and relationship routines as well. Mike and I usually ride together unless one of us is unavailable and on this morning, it was just me. On these days, it really is about soaking it all in — experiencing the air, the day, the thoughts that come and go, the ideas, the emotions, the memories. 

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 

I’m very lucky to travel for my work and to work at some of the coolest places and with some of the most interesting people. I had to go to Miami to review a script with a client. This shot was taken in the courtyard between the Museum of History, the Museum of Art, and the Library. FYI – This piece is a collage, not a painting and it is over 30 feet tall. The sun was setting and the colors jumped off the wall. I didn’t do any color tweaking here.  

2-365_Outside the Miami Art Museum_012010

 Just as a reference, here’s a picture I took in early December of the same piece but at a different time of day. Check out my Honey, lower center and slightly to the right.  

A big-ass piece of art... right out there for God and everybody to see. Dec. 2009

 Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

I have a favored friend who graciously allows me to come to her home from time to time to socialize, talk politics, sex, and money and just hang out with a real cool group of friends. The gal in the photo is a bonus. The daughter of one of my friends, I’m pleased to think of her as my friend as well. She is an amazing young woman with a true gift for photography. And cool, funky hair. And she plays a mean game of cards. Don’t be fooled, this girl is a bad-ass.   

21-365_A Friend_012110

  Friday, January 22, 2010 

This is one of those nights when I didn’t stop to take a picture during the day and ended up with self-portraiture. This is a partial photo of the tattoo on my thigh. I gave the artist one of my old acting headshots and told him what I wanted — me as the Grim Reaper. If you want to know more of the story, read here. I LOVE my tattoo.   

22-365_My Tattoo - CU - greywash -- Classic_012210

 PS — If you’re one of those annoying souls who can’t look at a tattoo — a permanent and in my case beloved piece of art forever and happily attached to my body — and not utter the dumbass phrase “I usually don’t like tattoos but….” please STFU. Would you look a person in the face and say “ya know, I usually don’t care for red hair and freckles but they’re OK on you.” Jeezus.  Future tip for you folks: if someone proudly shows you something and you don’t prefer it, smile and say something along the lines of “My, that’s really interesting.” If you’re feeling particularly gracious add something like “Tell me about it.” Honest to goodness, you’d think some people were born in a freakin’ barn.  

Saturday, Jan 23. 2010  

The story behind this bird bath is, like so many things, too long to tell here. But to sum up: we found it, in pieces, laying in the yard when we bought our house eleven years ago. It was just broken, cheap, gray concrete and we could have replaced it for about $15 dollars. Instead, we bought $30 worth of concrete adhesive, another $25 – $30 of concrete stain, and I put that sucker back together and stuck it in the yard for the birds. Now that we’ve COMPLETELY RENOVATED OUR HOME AND YARD, creating the Southern Living home of my dreams, the cheap-ass bird bath is where? Right in the place of honor — proudly centered in front of the front-freakin’-door. Oh, and it’s broken again. When the guys were putting in the new sod they knocked it over and broke the basin off the pedestal. Right now, it’s just balanced up there. But the birds love it. No taste, those freakin’ birds.  

23_365_The Birdbath_012310

    Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010 

Another find. This Staghorn Fern is enormous. It’s about seven feet across and about 18′ – 20′ in diameter. It, too, we found lying neglected in the yard when we bought the house. We made a new hoist for it (you can see a little bit of the chain to the left of the lower hole) and hung it from one of our Oak trees. Again, the local fauna can’t leave things alone. The holes you see were actually put there by the squirrels; basically, they’re created a nice, home-y, comfy condo for themselves in there, the little bastards. The fact that it looks like a face and that face appears to be saying “Hey, uh, Stasha, go fix me a sandwich” is just icing on the cake.  

24-365_Staghorn Face_012410

And that’s it, Ladies and Gents! Another week in the life! There were lots of other photos that didn’t make the cut but I want to leave you with one bonus from my self-portrait session. I was trying to take a picture of my neck, chest and the piece of costume jewelry I was wearing but it wasn’t turning out the way I hoped. But then I noticed the bruise on my left breast in this picture and yes, it’s an example of what I was talking about in my last post, put there by one of my karate partners. if you look closely, you can also see one near my collar bone. Little badges of honor.  

Project 365 reject - Cheap jewelry -- but the shot is cool for other reasons.

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For those of you who aren’t aware of it, it hurts to get punched in the face. It’s also not a lot of fun to take a knee to the thigh or a kick to the tits. But take it I do; and no, I’m not an abused wife, masochist or BDSM aficionado (though as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with the latter two if that’s your thing).

You see, I fight as part of my karate training. I’m not very good at it — sparring, that is — but I suit up, shut up, and get my butt in the ring with grown men (and one other woman) and do my best to kick their asses. Every now and then, I land a really good punch and a few times I’ve knocked a few of ’em down. Or maybe they tripped. Who cares, I still got the credit! — and that part I LOVE.

We usually fight in two-minute rounds which doesn’t sound like a long time until you’re a minute and thirty seconds into it, wheezing like an asthmatic, and trying to remember to “block AND punch,” or “block AND kick.” On the edge of the ring is Sensei, shouting out every damn thing you’re doing wrong, “Keep your hands UP!” “Don’t let him back you into a corner!” “Follow up with a kick! A KICK! Jesus, you have feet! Remember!!! Ai, yi, yi!!” (Sensei is Puerto Rican and the former US Army Martial Arts Champion and all around bad-ass.) 

When Sensei is in a particular mood or when we’re testing for the next belt level, we fight the gauntlet. One person takes the center ring then the rest of the classmates and the two black-belt assistants (10 people total) fight that one person, 30 seconds at a time. So that means, one person fights continuously for 5 minutes all the while getting a fresh, non-tired opponent every thirty seconds.

I definitely get bruised and a couple of times I’ve gotten bloody. So far it hasn’t happened to me, but a few of my classmates have thrown up either as a result of a well placed kick or general exhaustion.

Which all begs the question — why? Why on earth would I do this to myself?

It’s a good question, and here are a few thoughts:

I love it because it scares the hell out of me. I KNOW it is going to hurt; and I get in there anyway. I know my opponents are bigger, stronger, and often better than me; and I face off against them anyway. I know it is unlikely that I will ever compete in a tournament or actually be IN a “real” fight; and I work hard to get better anyway.

I love it because it makes me stronger. Not just physically, which it does, but fighting increases my mental toughness. In addition to the fear, when you get hit, the pain starts a cascade effect of chemical reactions in the body. The first thing I have to overcome is choosing “fight” over “flight.” I have to decide to fight back therefore over-riding years of social conditioning that taught me to run away from things that make me uncomfortable or difficult or painful. Looking through my raised gloves, protecting my face, I see the jab come straight in; step and lean back, the fist pops my head back but then I explode forward into the red zone to return a front kick into his ribs.

I love it because it makes me more calculating and less reactionary. When someone is punching and kicking you, the first reaction is to simply lash out, swing back, and try to connect a fist or a foot with some soft tissue, and that’s a good way to lose and lose fast. You have to watch your opponent, see what he’s going to do, predict what is coming your way. You have to learn quickly what he does over and over and what opening he usually presents because we all present an opening sooner or later. He always fakes two steps, lift and fake, lift and fake. After the second fake he brings up a rear leg roundhouse. I turn in and take the kick to the gut as he over steps the angle, leaving his chest wide open for side kick. When it’s there, you have to attack it.

I love it because it calms my mind. A person purposefully hurting you usually causes anger. Again, it’s a chemical and justifiable reaction when someone is trying to hit you but one you CAN control; you don’t have to get mad even though it’s easy to do. The more of their moves that connect the calmer I have to be; in fact, I often try to focus to the point that time slows down so I can see the kick coming, block it with my left forearm, while pulling power from the ground up through my leg, butt, and back, down my arm and returning a vicious right cross.

I love it because we learn from each other even while we’re hurting each other. My partner is my opponent, not my enemy. He too, is a student and though often more adept than me, he is learning as well. He tries but can’t always pull his punches enough not to send my flying backwards on to my ass and sometimes lands a hard punch square to my face mask. I sometimes flail back, landing punches to the face or below the belt. We know the problem is a lack of skill not a lack of intelligence and certainly not a lack of character. Hands up, palms out. We back up, breathe deep, and circle around looking for our next opening.

I love it because it isn’t soft or nurturing. Sensei’s encouragement is aggressive and no holds barred. He has no interest in being supportive and he isn’t going to be nice. “That hurt? Well don’t just stand there and take another! Hit him!” “Good one! Make ‘im feel it. Don’t let  him think he shouldn’t be afraid of you.”  When coaching my opponent, “Don’t worry about the fact she’s a girl, get your foot up there!” “Strike harder, she’s not made of glass and if she is, tough shit! That’s her problem, not yours!”  

At the end of two minutes (or five!) I usually have spit running down my chin because the mouth protector is hard to swallow around; my body is dripping with sweat; I have at least two or three new bruises, usually on my thighs or shoulders, where there is no padding. My partner and I touch gloves, bow, and leave the ring where we then slide down the wall into a semi-sitting/squatting position to remove our head-gear. We catch our breath, drink some water, then stand back up to cheer on the next two combatants.

Every time I spar, every single time, I get better. And the improvements carry over into life. I face down fears, especially painful ones, head on. I am mentally and physically tougher in all my dealings, whether it’s dealing with the beaurocrats at City Hall or with an obnoxious sales clerk, I stand my ground. In an argument or a debate with the same beaurocrat or clerk, I look for the opening I need and when it is presented, I attack. I no longer easily accept someone else’s limited responses as an appropriate response. I rarely get mad at “opponents” or people who are standing between me and getting results. I am not reduced to anger by someone merely striking out at me verbally. I don’t expect my partners (husband, friends, and general acquaintances) not to hurt me. They are learning too. But I do expect them to get better, and to pull their punches. If they don’t, then they aren’t partners. I don’t listen for gentle encouragement, but instead hear an inner voice shouting out to me from ring-side, “Get in there, Stasha!! Kick some ass!”

I don’t worry too much about taking names though. I’ve learned it slows down the ass-kicking.

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Two down; fifty to go! So here’s the second week of Project 365 and a couple of pics that didn’t make the cut.

What I’m learning:

  •  The iPhone takes some pretty damn good photos.
  • So does my Kodak Easyshare.
  • It’s easier to remember I have a camera than it is to remember to stop and take the picture.

 

Sat. Jan. 9, 2010 — A Night at Vue 

Mike, my Beloved Guitar playin’ hubby, has been asked to sub in another band. On Sat. eve we went to a local club to check out the band to see if he’s interested (yes, he is) and it turned out to be a great night! Wine for me, gin and tonic for Mike, I didn’t (and he doesn’t) smoke! Music, dancing, laughing, saw a few folks we know. Overall, fantastic. Mike and I hadn’t been to a club (except for one other back in Dec.) in a long time. (iPhone) 

9-365 -- A Night at Vue

 Sun. Jan. 10, 2010 — Power_Fantasy of Flight 

A friend and client of ours happens to own the largest private collection of vintage aircraft in the world. Another good friend happens to be his chief mechanic who rebuilds, rehabs, and repairs the planes and engines. This engine is for a Benoist Flying Boat and will be part of a display commemorating the first commercial flight that took place in Tampa, FL in 1914. (iPhone) This is the shot I used for Project 365: 

10-365_Power - Fantasy of Flight

That happened to be the day that the surprise I wanted for Mike’s birthday (Jan. 4) finally came together. Our friend who owns the collection, Kermit Weeks, does demonstration flights and I’d asked him if he could take Mike up on flight. Good man that he is, he said “Yes!” The plane for this little adventure is WWII fighter trainer called a Texas T-6 (among other names). Here’s a photo of a very happy husband after his flight. Oh, and by the way, I am “the best wife ever!” (iPhone) 

A happy hubby!

 Mon. Jan. 11, 2010_ Indulgence #1 

I have several indulgences and this is one of ’em: I LOVE tub baths. I have candles, wine, chocolates, and a book (in this case “The Brass Verdict” by Michael Connelly, actually a signed copy!) and I will soak in it for hours. The room by the way, is also pretty cool. I designed it for our home renovation. The tub is a second-hand find that Mike and I restored and re-enamled. The vanity is a piece of reclaimed granite that we found at local granite company’s bone yard; the supports under the granite are twisted rebar that a friend of my father’s, a metal-smith, made for us; the sink was the cheapest thing they had at Home Depot. Tuned out pretty cool, I think. (Kodak Easyshare) 

Tues. Jan. 12, 2010_More Tools 

These are more of my “tools.” I track what I eat and no, I don’t really consider it a hardship. But since in order to eat between 1k and 1.2k caolories per day, you HAVE to know exact amounts. I know some folks think that’s pretty restrictive to measure all your food, but to me, it’s a comfort. I know EXACTLY what the f*#k goes in my mouth, so when some moron doctor tries to say “Are you sure you’re not eating more than you should?” I don’t feel bad when I knock his teeth down his throat. (Kodak Easyshare) 

12-365_More Tools_011210

Wed. Jan. 13, 2010 — Stained Glass #2 

This is a segment of another stained glass window in my house, this one’s in the stairwell. They are wonderfully cool, but I have to say I had nothing to do with putting them there; they came with the house. This window also faces West, but because of the way our house is built, it’s hard to see from the street. It’s kind of a secret window. (iPhone) 

13-365_Stained Glass II_011310

Thurs. Jan. 14, 2010_Almost in the Pocket 

Mike and I had spent the afternoon at the rehab center (nice name for “nursing home”) visiting his rehabing Dad. Afterwords we decided to check out a little sports bar on that side of town that we’d heard about and shoot a round or two of pool. We rarely do this! LOL I was stripes; he was solids. And THIS is how I set him up for the damn shot! (iPhone) 

14-365_Almost in the Pocket_011410

Fri. Jan. 15, 2010 In Zella Lee’s China Cabinet 

This is from my china cabinet. The pieces you see, as well as the cabinet, are from my maternal grandmother who I blogged about. I took the shot through the curved, blown glass cabinet front and love that you can see the lights from the chandelier as well as the french doors in the reflection. (iPhone) 

15-365_In Zella Lee's China Cabinet

Sat. Jan. 16, 2010 – The Case 

We have a fantastic French restaurant and bakery in our little Southern downtown. Once a week, after a bike ride, we like to stop here for breakfast. I usually don’t eat this for breakfast though! They also have fantastic crepes, Quiche, eggs, OMG it’s sooooo good! (iPhone) 

16-365_The Case_011610

Well folks, that’s all for now! I promise to have another written post up soon but been a bit busy as of late. Will get back to the writing thing soon!

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First a quick update on the Dad(s) situation. You read that right, we’ve now got TWO of them off-line. On Wednesday evening this week, we found out my 81-year old Father-in-Law (FIL) fell and broke his femur. Great googley-moogley, what the hell!? Anyway, FIL is currently unable to walk and has just been transferred to a rehab center/nursing home where hopefully the bone will heal and in a few months he’ll be able to walk again with a cane or walker. Right now he can’t and boy, does it suck. Another reminder of what we all get to look forward to in our “Golden Years” he says.     

This shot didn't make my Project 365 cut. It was also taken at Mama and Daddy's house.

Daddy finally got an appointment with a neuro-phychologist who confirmed what we already know (memory and verbal centers damaged) and we’re hoping to start working on a new plan. However, there was one worrisome bit — this time when asked who the president he said “Osama.” Mama told him he was off by a letter but it’s still troubling. He had been getting this question right though we weren’t sure if it was because he remembered or because he learned. Either way, it’s a bit of a set back.   

By the way, I highly recommend “My Stroke of Insight” by Taylor if you know anyone who’s had a stroke.    

But enough of all that for now! Back to me, me, me!!   

In response to a great idea by my buddy Hubman, I’ve decided to participate in Project365 where you commit to taking and posting a photo every day of the year for one year. I don’t have a fancy camera, just my iPhone and my old 4 mega pixel Kodak Easyshare but never-the-less, I’m in. Rather than posting here everyday, my plan is to put up the week’s photos on the weekend. (Oh, and I didn’t get anything for Jan. 1 so I started on the 2nd.)   

Click here to see this week’s photos. Enjoy! (more…)

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[Jan. 4 2010 — Odd thing just happened. This post disappeared from WordPress so I’m reposting it. Apologies to all of you who already read it and commented. I’ll try to find the comments too.]

And 2009 is….. outa here!! Enter 2010! Not to slag on ‘09 or anything, but damn! But before I get into all of that — an update on Daddy

The good news!! – He appears to be recovering some of the usual thought processes but also his sense of humor. He even jokes about it, “Let’s head over to church and see who else I don’t remember.” Names and past events are a problem but he is certainly able to engage. 

The bad news – The personality shift is very apparent and, if not permanent, will take a while to recover. He will engage in conversation but only if you engage him first. Otherwise, he’ll sit in silence. His curiosity and desire to explore and expand his understanding of people and places is simply gone. He’s “Daddy-lite” so to speak. 

And that’s part of the problem with wrapping up a year on such a crappy note. You look back through a haze of negatives and the only things that seem to stand out are more items that match it. 

Well, to hell with that. 

On New Years eve, as my Beloved and I sat on our back porch, drinking vino and otherwise recovering from the week and year, I decided to focus on only the good things that came out of the year and I must say, it was quite a cool list. And since I’m not much of a “resolutions” kinda gal, I decided that my plan was to identify what really worked for me last year and to do more of it all the while making note of those things that I realize no longer serve a purpose, and cut that shit out wherever possible. 

So with that in mind, a few highlights: 

Oct. 2009 -- Testing for my Green Belt in Karate. Yeah, I passed.

I conquered a demon last year — body image. After four decades of self loathing, I’d had enough and discovered I didn’t have to wait until I was thin happy with my body to start enjoying it. I still don’t think I can accurately describe the positive change this even brought to my (and Mike’s) life. With that in mind, in 2010 I plan to remain vigilant on this. It’s possible this monster isn’t dead but just resting will creep back into my life. I will not let that happen in ‘10. I will visit more nude resorts when I have the time and write about the experiences; I will buy and wear attractive and sexy clothes; I will flirt shamelessly and will welcome the attention that it brings. I’ve earned it.  

SIDEBAR: After the body-image epiphany I actually lost about 20 pounds. Yippeee! I plan to lose another 20 – 30 in 2010. But here’s the thing — in 09 I discovered the only way it works for me. 1) Total caloric intake daily average:  1000 – 1200. 2) Total caloric expenditure per day [exercise and base metabolism]: 2200 – 2400. 3) Gross average weight-loss per week: 1/2 to 1 pound. You read that right, cowkids; it takes having an AVERAGE caloric deficit of roughly 1000 – 1200 calories per day for me to lose almost a pound in a week. Sucks, doesn’t it?  

I also realized that event did more than conquer fat-fear, it proved to me that I can conquer any fear, any self-imposed limitation, without any help from anyone. Mike and I’ve talked at great length about how much it hurt that he can’t or won’t embrace something that finally works for me. He says he’s ambivalent about it. But I don’t want to go explore this new and awesome experience with an ”ambivalent” companion by my side so my option is to continue on alone or to forgo it altogether and once again wait for someone else’s “approval” to live my life fully. In his defense, he says he’s perfectly fine if I go solo but I’m not sure how well that will stick if I start to develop friendships, spend money, and otherwise create a separate life from him. I’m also pretty sure it won’t work for me. He is my Beloved, and to know that he doesn’t want to be with me sucks the joy out of any activity. It’s a fuckin’ rock and hard place and I don’t know how it will resolve in 2010. 

Another highlight was getting published. Now I’m a writer/producer by trade but my work doesn’t show up in print magazines. However, I wrote an article for “N” Magazine (FYI – for some reason the formating on this article is awful. I swear, I didn’t write it that way!) based on my trip to Cypress Cove and was even paid for it! (A whopping $50 but who cares?! I had a byline! Wheeee!!!) In ‘10 I plan to write more and expand beyond my work and blogging life.  

Speaking of blogging, the Dogged Pursuit is a major highlight of ‘09. The feedback I get is fantastic (who doesn’t like to be told they’re wonderful?) but more than that is its effect — on my and on others. For me, I’m clearer. Writing here helps me focus, plan, and place a critical eye on the bullshit that espouse every day. I think I am a better writer. I know I am a better person. But that’s small potatoes compared to the effect it’s had on others. For those of you who’ve found something useful on these pages and have let me know, thank you. I’m so very glad you found something of use here beyond just “Hey, did j’a see what Stasha said this time! Da-um!!”  If something I wrote here resonates with you, I’m glad I was able to give it a voice. I’m also glad when it helps us both see that we are not alone. I’m going to continue with the long form format and am going to revise my target number of posts down to just one a week. I’d originally planned to do 3, but that’s too much for your humble  servant. (Curse your productivity, Joan!) 

Speaking of productivity, I realized that while I did a lot of things last year, I could’ve done a lot more. I spent a lot of well-worth-it hours reading blogs, reading books, learning and generally exploring new concepts and ideas that for reasons explained in other posts, I’d missed most of my life. But in ‘10 I think it’s time for a little more action. I’m not a TV watcher per se (except for a couple of favorite Tivo’d shows) and there’s no reason I can’t get a few more things done.Reading and learning is swell ’n all, but doing is sooooo much better! So, in addition to more writing, organize my damn photos! They’ve been in plastic bins for years. Also, now that all of my grandparents are gone, I’m going to do the same with the mountains of old photos we’ve found around the houses. If I can accomplish this in a year it’ll be a freakin’ miracle but my work in museums has taught me much about the importance of archiving your history. Wish me luck on this one. 

Moving on, I also had some fantastic individual days last year and several stand out — too many to detail here — but they did have a couple of things in common. 

April 2009_ A refuge in Wyoming. What a day.

First, they were all spent getting to know people. One day in particular I spent on a wildlife refuge in Wyoming with an uber-awesome park ranger. She took me on a 5-hour tour and it felt like we were the only two people on the freakin’ planet. In that time we chatted about life, nature, work, art, etc. and it was time well spent. By far one of the best days not only of the year, but of the past several. More of this please. I also expanded our local circle of friends. We had more dinner parties and I invited people we wanted to know better; we attended regular parties (one group in particular — Nutsy, anyone?), we met more friends and neighbors for drinks at our local watering hole. I’m also making a wide range of interesting discoveries in the blogosphere –fascinating and wonderful people. Some are old friends I never really knew until I started reading their blogs, others are folks that have reconnected with me and we send private emails back and forth now, still others are new and growing friendships with people who are at the same time radically different but remarkably similar to me. More, more, more please!! 

Jan. 2009 Hancock Shaker Village Massachusettes. Beatiful! But cold!!

The second thing about most of the aforementioned ”great days” was they included my camera. Now I’ve never been great at taking pictures; not because the shots don’t turn out, but because I forget to take them. But I’ve gotten some fantastic images this past year and want to take more. My beloved was going to get me a new camera for my birthday but we can’t find exactly what I want to I’m going to continue with my old 4 mega pixel Kodak and iPod but I’ve decided to follow Hubman and Emmy’s example and participate in Project 365 this year. I may do a post a week here with the week’s shots all at once rather than once per day. I’ll still try to upload daily on the Flicker site, but we’ll see how that goes. 

The second to last most wonderful thing about 2009 was the intensely increased communication between my Beloved and me. Though a complicated series of events, we became closer, discovered what real honest marital communication feels like (both good and bad) and consequently have become much closer and more committed than ever before. That’s not to say that all is hunky-dory fairy-tale story perfect around here. In what marriage is it ever? But I certainly want this part of who we are to continue growing. On the more challenging side, it is intensely difficult and frightening to share your inner self with someone, even someone you love and trust. The potential for hurt magnifies right along with the potential for understanding. It’s worth it, but it still hurts. It also means laying bare your innermost desires, dreams, hopes, and fears before someone to ridicule or be repulsed by. It also means offering them an oportunity to help you make them come true. And for you to do the same for them. What an awesome responsibility. What a frightening sense of vulnerability. 

And finally, full circle, to Daddy’s stroke and Granddaddy’s death. The latter was a longtime coming, and his passing was life-changing but also a relief. The former was a bolt out of the fucking blue and I’m still reeling. But both are a continuing reminder that our lives are short and unpredictable. That memories and the people and events that make them matter and are very, very fragile. That relationships are everything. The experiences make up the sum of your life. That now matters more than then; and that you (me, you, us) matter more than them — those who would limit us, those who mock our dreams, those who embrace ignorance, those who peddle fear. 

July 2009 Mt Airy, NC - On the road of life, how can you beat this?

So in 2010, I am not resolved to do any more than to simply do more of what seems to work. I will work harder, play more, be more aware in my travels, more eager to embrace all the good that comes my way. I will deal with challenges in the only way I know how, one day at a time — and be more attentive to the beauty and grace that appears to follow me around. I will love my friends more and will continue to hold my Beloved close to my heart as we journey on together. 

Happy New Year! 

Stasha 

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