Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's new, 2015?

It didn't take long to realize how much I was missing my 365 photo project. And it didn't take long to settle on a new project. This one is a joint project, and I'm really excited to share a journey like this with my friend Jane. If you're so inclined, you can check it out right here.

I went to California for work two weeks ago. It was kind of silly to bring my camera, but I did bring it and I carried it around with me every day although I really didn't have the opportunity to use it at all. I should have known that. But oh, California... you are enticing to a midwesterner, with your temperate climes and your lack of dirty slush on the roadways. My boots stayed pretty, I never once wore a coat, and I got to see the sun rise over your mountains. 

One of only six California shots. Dinner at a
vineyard in a gorgeous, candlelit room.

Other than that it's still winter in Michigan, and since I bought a knee-length down coat I refuse to partake in bitch sessions about the weather. Why I've never acquiesced to the call of a long winter coat, I'll never know. It is a mighty good thing.

Thus far my coat has kept me warm on an icy lakeshore...

...and on a snowy hike...

...and while almost sliding down an embankment to a frozen marsh below.

One of my favorite things about January in Michigan is the annual North American International Auto Show. My dad used to take my brother and I every year, and while we never bought new cars in our household when I was young, Matt and I collected every brochure we could get our hands on at the show and pored over those things for days afterwards. I was always enthralled with the color chips. I guess I still am, because I had to get up close to the finishes on many of the cars when I went this year. The matte finish is pretty interesting, but I was seeing a lot of pearly finishes, too. Anyway, I still won't be getting my hands on a new car anytime soon, but I really love to look. And shoot. That, too.

Kinda sexy.

Sweet, and in my eventual price range (maybe not this model...).

The one I really wanted.

I think what I may most be excited about this month, though, is a roll of 400 ISO film that I have just sent out to be developed. I pulled out my old Minolta X-700 and took it for a spin, and I am giddy with excitement over the possibilities. Why? Good question. Film itself is pretty cheap, but developing it well is not. With my digital SLR, I know exactly what I'm getting because I can see it, instantly. I don't know what's going to come back from that developed roll--and that's kind of intriguing. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

This is definitely not another list of New Year's resolutions

Oh, I just adore lists!

Especially lists of things I say I'm going to do, and then I don't. Because, you know, I'm a busy person. But really I should just admit the truth--I'm a free spirit. I'm a total flake. I go with the wind. I become smitten and unsmitten. I make lists and don't do half the things on them.

I'm lobbying for the idea that this isn't even a bad thing, okay?

But anyway, I made a list about this time a year ago of things that sound a lot like New Year's resolutions, but aren't. Just because I say so, they aren't. Nevertheless, I actually kind of wanted to do all those things, but only got to a few. Souffle? Ha! Never happened. I'm still a lapsed runner, didn't make it to Manhattan, either (although that's happening this spring for a certain someone's 21st birthday celebration), did not fix the Sunfish, nor did I acquire another sailboat I was dreaming about and, you guessed it, didn't get any home organizing done.

Oh, but I did paint and redecorate my office. That's a biggie. I want credit for that one.

I did, however, complete a 365 photo project and take a photography class. Which shaped quite a bit of my 2014, but that's for another post, maybe. And I liked the whole "project" thing so much that I'm going to do another (not sure what yet) for 2015.

So in honor of my love of lists and the beginning of another year, I offer up a list of things I'd like to accomplish, this year or really whenever, in no particular order.

Do some of the other stuff on last year's list.
You know, like that souffle. And the thing about forgetting.

Take more photos.
Duh. I have to list things I know I'm going to do, okay? And I want to learn more photography techniques. And shoot in some new places.

Start to learn to speak Italian.
What? I can dream.

Plan a long weekend of camping and hiking.
None of that sissy camping, either. I'm talking tent, pack-in pack-out kind of camping. 

I'm serious about the running thing, by the way.
I may have gone and committed to running half of a half marathon as a team with my friend Eileen in March. It used to be that half of a half was something I wouldn't even have to gear up for--an everyday kind of run. At this point I'm kind of starting over. I'd like to be at least comfortable, if not speedy, for this half-half, so I better get started on this one.

Cook more.
I love cooking! With both kids gone, I've kind of gotten out of the habit and Jim has taken over. I should help.

Get borrowed things back to their owners.
Are you missing your food container? Chances are I've got it.

Keep being in love with things.
Turns out I am a lot like my mom--an optimist, a nature-lover, a beauty-seeker, an art lover. She let music and beauty move her, often to tears. I spent years trying to stifle this and it turns out it's no use. I will fall in love with the trees, I'll fish that struggling bee out of the tumbling waves of Lake Michigan, I'll cry for that dead squirrel in the street. It's humanity, not weakness. I'm there.

Start another project.
Not sure what yet, but involving photography for sure. Jane and I discussed a self-portrait a week project, which makes me nervous but is intriguing. Stay tuned. 

So goodbye, 2014. You were downright good to me. Here are just a few of my favorite photos from the year (but really there are a ton more that I love--I don't have an exact number, but I think I took around 50,000 photos over the year, and that is a LOT to go through!).

My daughter Bella, feeling springy in the spring
My son Dex, or, his feet
"You like my hat? I don't."
Nature in black and white
Found in the woods
I may have been trespassing here...
What are you hoping to achieve in 2015?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanks, thanks, and more thanks

Very fortunately we were able to spend Thanksgiving weekend at the cottage. The weather made it only a little challenging, but challenging weather brings great beauty to the west side of Michigan. Our kids and their guests arrived safely and we did our Thanksgiving on Friday, our traditional risotto plus a pared down offering of sides (so we, and by "we" I mean mainly Jim, wouldn't be cooking all day), plus pumpkin pie.

For me it's a bittersweet weekend because I know that come Sunday when we drive away the place gets winterized and there's no going there for several months. It's necessity. It still stinks. I get cagey and start thinking about it in January. But I vowed to not let my impending sadness color the weekend. Plus, I had a lot of shooting to do.

Friday the wind was calm and a light snow fell all morning and into the afternoon.

Saturday, some blue colored the sky and the sun showed up a few times; the wind wasn't too wild and the snow just started to melt. I visited my favorite lighthouse and ogled some boats on their perches in the marina in town.

By Sunday, the snow was nearly gone and the temps were rising, so I went out to do a little exploring just as the fog lifted.

I didn't want to miss going to the dunes and I secretly hoped we might catch a glimpse of the snowy owl that watched us from several spots as we hiked this weekend last year, but no such luck. Still, the Silver Lake sand dunes are just gorgeous. I like them best like this, with no foot or recreational vehicle traffic. I am starting to realize just how much I love big, vast areas of nature where no one is around for miles and miles.

Anyway, we toasted and celebrated and I didn't get mushy in front of my kids. But, I'm oh so very thankful this year.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Catching up, and what's next

Well, it's true, I've neglected this blog in favor of my photo project, which has been an interesting and enlightening run. I've learned a lot about photography, what I like and don't like to shoot, how I like to go about the shoot and the processing, and that I get itchy and disappointed when I don't have something amazing to shoot (and let's face it, that can't happen every day). I still have a lot to learn, of course, but this journey is the best I've been on in a while.

So that project ends at the end of the year, and since I've stuck to that and neglected this, maybe a better idea is to merge the two. I could commit to a blog post a day. This way, when I don't feel like I have a thing to say, I can post a photo. When I don't have time to shoot, I'll have to think of something to say. And some days I might have lots to say or lots of photos to post. And if I've got nothing to say and nothing to shoot... I don't know, a haiku? Short video? Bad drawing? I'll have to sort that one out. But stay tuned if you're so inclined.

I'll admit, part of my neglecting this blog is that I don't have much to say that feels important enough to write about. Not that nothing going on in my life is important--not at all. My kids are doing some pretty awesome things, but those stories are their stories, not mine. I've been fortunate in that the people I'm lucky enough to have in my life are well and healthy. So, okay, I could mention that our roof sprung a leak in the spring and our basement flooded in the summer. And that my youngest moved to a city apartment and started college, sending me into a weird funk for a couple of weeks (totally over it, but it's still weird that both my kids are gone). But those are completely normal, everyday life things. I had a terrific summer; I'm still trying to get to every new restaurant in Detroit (there are so many! and really fantastic ones!); I caught up with some old friends in Chicago for a very whirlwind weekend this fall; I re-did my office, which has made me infinitely happy; I've seen quite a bit of my dad and also got to see my brother in person recently; I still don't feel comfortable dancing (but wish that I did).

Last I wrote here it was high summer. I had a good stretch at the cottage in early summer, but then had to vacate for renters again, so I missed some of the best of the summer. I was back on and off in August, but again rented a few weekends in September so I wasn't there as much as I wanted to be, and a few October weekends had to suffice. And now, well, it's just about Thanksgiving and the house will be closed up soon and I'll start obsessing about when I can be there again. That's just the normal order of things.

So I've just been living. And I don't mean to sound apathetic--I'm really not. I'm happier than I've been in a long time. Maybe I'm afraid of advertising that, like saying it louder than a whisper or something will make it all go away. So, let's keep it under our hats and all.

But here's what I've been doing this fall.

The eagle that hangs out on our beach, Labor Day weekend
Labor Day sunset over Lake Michigan
Sunset over Detroit from Belle Isle in September
Late September, camp boathouse on Stony Lake
Edison's Lab in Greenfield Village, early October
Firestone Farm pig, Greenfield Village, early October
Unloved home in Boyne, October
Country road exploring with my friend Jane, October
Abandoned silos in the sun, October
Late fall, the little lake behind the cottage
Farmland near the cottage, late fall
Art Institute, Chicago, early November
Tourist stuff, downtown Chicago, early November
More exploring with Jane, mid-November

And there you have it, my fall in a nutshell.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hi, summer (or, high summer)

How does time sneak away from me like this? Too easily, apparently.

Tell me you're just like me--you can't keep up. You have trouble remembering the last time you sat and read a book in the sun. Did you pay that bill? You haven't even started on all the projects you intended to get done this summer. Please, please, we're so alike, right?

I don't know how normal people do it, but I'm still trying to figure it out. Busy, busy, too busy. Let's all take a breather.

So I spent just shy of four weeks at the cottage and went back to suburbia in mid-late July. Then a quick overnight back at the cottage, and now a little more time here before I have to leave my beloved cottage again for a few weeks.

Thus far this summer I've worried while my youngest and some of his buddies drove to Yellowstone (he made it safely back). Now the oldest has an opportunity to also see Yellowstone and she leaves upcoming week's end, so I'll have that to worry about as well. Of course I'm thrilled for them both and even a bit jealous--but they are at those ages where you have to do these things, explore and travel. And I'm settling in to my new job. So, yeah, that's where summer has gone.

But, it's high summer now and the best things about that are:
  • Sweltering, oozing heat
  • Peaches
  • Queen Anne's Lace, absolutely everywhere
  • Bees (not the stinging part)
  • An excuse for wearing very little
  • Sweat (what??? It's good to sweat)
  • Overflowing farmers markets
  • Sun tea
There's lots more, of course. But I'm sitting on a deck under a market umbrella; music drifts out from the house; a jet ski hums; I hear laughter and conversation from next door; only the gentlest breeze makes the heat not too much to bear. For the first time in a while, I've no desire to do anything more than this, just what I'm doing. It's enough.

This is just a little of what I've seen and experienced thus far this summer. Still lots left to see and do.