Sunday, May 24, 2015

Change is the only constant

My dad often said this when I was growing up (as I'm sure many dads do), but in the next breath he'd grumble about change. My dad is not a complainer, never has been--but he always seemed to have an agreement with change in which he embraced the occasional bit of it, but fought other changes with a sort of quiet fervor. Things have slowed down for my dad now and I don't think he experiences too much change these days. I should ask him, but I imagine he's grateful for that.

I am my dad's daughter, but I think I am better about my feelings towards change. I get itchy without it. Sometimes I need to throw some balls up in the air and see where they land. Just for a mixing up of things. But like my dad, there are some changes that I cannot fathom. The cottage is one. I have this recurrent dream that fingers of land are built (like Dubai's Palm Islands) about a half mile off the shoreline in front of our beach, and that buildings and homes and businesses now reside there. They've stolen our horizon, our views, our sunsets. To see beyond them, we have to paddle to one of the few breaks in these finger islands to get through, and even then we have to pay a fee. A fee! For the view I've enjoyed my entire life! I wake up in a sweat.

But here's the thing I like about change. It breeds new thinking. It presents a glimmer of idea, a chance for creativity. Like a blossoming. Like spring.

And speaking of spring and the cottage, here it is and here I am and I am grateful for the (mostly) non-change.

Oh, wait. Here is some change:

I started this blog two years ago with a post about the "Keep Out" house. For the last two years I have said this house, which I have been watching deteriorate my entire life, is not long for the world. This winter was too much for the front of it, which was still standing last summer. Yesterday when I drove by the crows circled above it like vultures, which was exciting and creepy. As I walked around it, one would occasionally light on the last part of the roof that was still standing, but mostly they all flew above probably waiting for me to leave.

And the good stuff that didn't change (whew):

 Plus some walk in the woods stuff:

And from a hike on the local cross-country ski trails:

See? All sorts of stuff blooming, all kinds of opportunity for inspiration.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's still winter

And I'm still trying not to complain, but I'll be honest, I'm getting eager for spring.

I'm easing up on a few commitments in order to take a little bit more time for family. I want to see my dad more, and with both kids gone, I want to make time to be available for them--when they have time/want to see me. So while it feels kind of weird for me to back off a little, it also feels really right. I work hard and that's not going to change, but it's time to be a little selfish. So there it is.

Aside from that, I'm trying to shoot despite the difficult temps, and have been signing up for photo tours and workshops whenever I can. And honestly, it's easy to shoot in nice weather and we tend to think that those other three seasons are more beautiful because they involve so much more color. But I defy anyone who looks closely, beyond the whites and the grays and the browns of winter (which are beautiful in their own right), to tell me that there is not beauty to be found in a Michigan winter. 

Purple and blue sky, moonrise

Country, grain silos, riotous sky

Too cold to finish this snowman, Metropark

Anna B. Scripps Conservatory

Anna B. Scripps Conservatory

These last few photos are from my beloved marsh at Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, taken this evening. It was about 5 degrees and I just couldn't stay out as long as I would have liked. The cool thing about the marsh in winter is you can explore areas that are usually too wet to walk through, but then it's too cold to cover too much ground without starting to worry about frostbitten fingers.

Marsh grasses, dried flowers

Fishing area, Lake Erie, frozen

Marsh, trees, big sky

Playing with depth of field, plant on snow

I can't get enough of these

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 answered 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. I guess I'll see what develops (sorry, couldn't help myself).

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.