Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happy one year, cedar suite entries!

Oh, cedar suite entries, how I've neglected you! In May, you celebrated your one year anniversary and I missed the opportunity to write about it.

When I started this blog in May 2013, I wanted to try to post at least three times per month. And now I've gone and only posted once in April, and not even once in May. "Tsk, tsk, for shame," as my mother would say (she'd say it slowly, in a low voice, and she'd add a stink eye so you'd know you were really in for it).

I can only offer up these (fairly valid) excuses. My youngest is in the last bits of high school and making plans for moving onto a college campus. That business takes thought and planning, plus all the "stuff" that happens end-of-year for high school seniors. I know I'm no mother of the year, but I like to be around for as much of that as I can.

Maybe bigger is that I started a new job at the beginning of May, and not to put a glowing, golden-rosy hue on it but it really is the job of my dreams. The company is growing, values the input of its people, and is run by smart, talented people. I work closely with a great guy--a former co-worker with whom I already had an unmatched working relationship. Yep, almost a month after my start date I'm still pinching myself. It's that terrific.

Beyond all that goodness, because of the rough winter and too many things going on, we didn't get to open our beloved Cedar Suite until mid-May. The first visit of the season there felt like, as usual, a homecoming.

Of course, because of that other project I've tasked myself with and that I'm really sticking to, I'm out every day at whatever time I can squeeze in with my camera. So while I'm forgetting sometimes to document with words, I'm documenting with images. It's something. I'll take it.

So here are some photos from Cedar Suite just last weekend, and happy birthday to this blog!

First beach walk, my daughter's feet on blackened sand

The dune grasses, starting to green up

Not happy about posing, as usual

From the deck

Neighbor's cool driftwood, my selective-focus lens

Selective-focus sunset

Coloring session, my daughter and the neighbor

My kids

My dancing daughter

My two, plus one

Sunset kendama session

Faffing in the meadow

The "Keep Out!" house still stands! Barely.

Dog footprints

Because I'm never sick of sunset shots


Monday, April 21, 2014

Nest nearly empty

It's been an odd month.

It began as a way-too-busy month. As my workload started to clear up a bit, though, I realized that I am starting to feel, well, for lack of a better term... old. My youngest turned 18 at the very end of last month. My oldest turned 20 in the middle of this month. Those are such hugely transitional ages, you know? Transitional for parents, too, as we have to navigate a new way of parenting our newly-minted adult children.


If you're not far past those ages yourself, you know what I mean. You probably felt suddenly on your own, or at least more in charge of your choices and decisions somewhere around 18, 19, 20. But in some ways you still really need your parents. And if you are the parent of young children or burgeoning teens, you know these days are coming but you don't want to think about them just yet. Your kids won't need you so much some day. It's a fact.

Athough it's been a while, I vividly remember my own transition to adulthood. At 18 I went away to college, and then at 19 switched gears (and colleges) and moved to Chicago. I remember talking on the phone (long before cell phones) to my mom almost every day. I couldn't wait to get away from her--and once I was gone I realized just how much I really needed her. Anything good that happened, I couldn't wait to call her. And she was the first one I called when anything went wrong. When I got tricked out of all the money I had in the world ($80) on the elevated train on my way to school one day, I called her, sobbing hysterically. I could practically feel her hugging me through the phone and it didn't seem so horrible after that.

Although it was my mom I counted on for emotional support, I knew my dad was right there with her. And he has more than taken over as consummate supporter in my mother's absence. I do know how lucky I am to have him around, especially as my children move into adulthood. I don't know what we'd do without him.

As a parent of young adults, I know now that my mom probably had to fight back multiple urges to come to Chicago and rescue me every time I called her with even the hint of a sob in my voice. I bet it was a Herculean effort for her, because that woman was a rescuer (injured birds, lame squirrels, wounded bats, etc.). Thank goodness for that trait. I sure knew I was loved.

Anyway. I hope my kids know that they are loved, even if I don't do it all correctly as we transition into these new relationships with each other. It's interesting, challenging, a little sad, a lot of wonderful.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring. Finally! (Still crossing fingers, though)

I have been fairly plowed under by the lengthy winter (boo hiss) and by a steady stream of work (yippee!) this month, but I am starting to think about when we can get across state and get the cottage opened. I know the ice is starting to melt on Lake Michigan, but I don't trust it's safe enough to get the plumbing going just yet. I know the heartache of burst pipes and wish never to experience that again! But it's almost time, and I really can't wait.

But until then I've been shooting outside as much as possible. Even in suburban settings like metro Detroit there is beauty and nature, and I'm trying to be out in it, and really see it, as much as possible.

There's a nature preserve in the neighboring city and it's actually really beautiful. They've done a nice job of boardwalks over the marshiest areas, and little scenic outlooks and an occasional bench. It's small, but there's lots to see. I've ventured in twice in the past week, once with a friend on a bitter day with a somewhat menacing sky; the other on an evening just before my photography class at a local high school--very convenient since the preserve is on the grounds of the school.

And to the south is Lake Erie Metropark. Larger, still marshy, with paved trails for biking, running and walking. This, too, is really beautiful and highly explorable. I've never slowed down as much as I have been lately to look beyond the first view of something. It's worthwhile stuff, this slowing down.

I spent a few hours here as an escape from work on an early evening this week, then came back with my daughter over the weekend. She makes a great subject.

So, the thaw has begun. I saw some green things poking out of the ground in the last few days--the early crocuses, I think. Spring really is coming, and after that, summer. Summer! I can't wait.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Class outing at the park

I'm taking a photography class. I've learned a lot on my own, but I'm learning quite a bit in class and enjoying meeting and talking to others with the same obsession passion. While shooting, we shared tips and shooting spots and discussed each other's images, which I find really helpful. I like shooting alone, but the feedback brings another element that I think can only make me grow.

Today instead of meeting in the classroom, we went to a local park to shoot the buildings, (frozen) pond, puddles, sky, shadows, birds, each other, etc. Here are a few of my favorites.

Light, shadows, reflection, angles

Crossing sign in puddle

Waterwheel, building, shadows

Blue-eyed puppy in carrier (almost too much cuteness to bear)

Fence and shadow

Fishing for something in this puddle

Grooming in reflection

Floor of the covered bridge, shadows

Goose, stopping to pose

Duck, duck, duck (no goose)

Clock reflected in puddle

Red-winged blackbird

It may not feel like spring yet, but I found enough color and brightness today to hold me for just a bit longer.

But seriously, hurry up spring.


Monday, March 17, 2014

March is the new February

I'm obsessed with thoughts of being able to be outside and not be freezing. This March has felt like winter is not terribly interested in giving up its grip on us just yet. And it's hard to even imagine at this point, when Lake Michigan is still mostly frozen, that it will ever be warm enough to be at the cottage and barefoot on my sandy beach, let alone have body parts comfortably immersed in the water.

Then again, there were a few teaser days earlier this month, and tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 40s. But shouldn't there be daffodils and crocuses peeking out of the thawing ground right about now? I say yes, yes that should be happening! There should be opportunity for a walk downtown without freezing, with sun on my face and footwear that is not boots. I'd like to be in the mood for ice cream again someday.

I'm not complaining, really I'm not. Okay, well, maybe I am. Like everyone else in Michigan, I am totally over winter.

But let's look at photos instead, because even though it's been a crazy, arctic winter, I have been out risking life and limb (or maybe just fingertips) to take pictures, because in addition to being obsessed with the weather getting warmer, I'm kind of obsessed with my camera.

Last Friday I picked my daughter up from her co-op house and we drove across state to surprise my dad in St. Joseph, an idyllic little town on Lake Michigan. We took a short drive from his place to the beach, where my dad stayed toasty in the car and my daughter and I ventured out onto a pier to take photos of the other pier--the one with two lighthouses on it. The two-lighthouse pier has been well photographed this winter because up until not too many days ago, the outer lighthouse had been frozen over. In pictures I saw, it looked all furry with ice, like a giant polar bear. Very cool! In my pictures, no furry polar bears. Just lighthouses.

South pier, frozen lake, my daughter in foreground

North pier, inner and outer lighthouses, neither of them polar bears

Still frozen south pier, romantic couple (aw!)

Moon through power plant, Benton Harbor, as seen leaving town

The very next day, I went for a run with a girlfriend and we stopped to photograph one of the many groups of swans on the Detroit River. Swans are beautiful, yes, but cooler still are all the eagles that have been hanging around southeast Michigan. We don't normally have bald eagles in metro Detroit, but they've come 'round because the Great Lakes have been so frozen. Lucky us!

Two in tree at city park on the river, last weekend
Juvenile eagle, island in Detroit River (and my 365 photo for today)

And to balance out all the nature and loveliness, I ended the weekend exploring with another friend and her son. We planned to go to Historic Fort Wayne, but something else caught our eye on the way. It was a shopping cart, actually, lying on its side in some ice on a lonely, mostly abandoned street. Half a block away was this strange industrial graveyard and we got lost shooting the flotsam and jetsam on this weird and beautiful (in its own way) site. Very safe, wide open, no one in sight.

Car among ruins

Looks like it shouldn't be standing

Barbed wire on roof line

Last stop, Ren Cen (that's the Ambassador Bridge, too)

Empty water tower

Maybe April will behave better. I'm going to pretend that spring really is coming. I want to start showing photos of buds on trees, green things poking up, smiling people. You know, spring-y, happy things.

Who's with me?