Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I hate digital cameras

Yes, I really do.

I've been wondering lately who the wacko was that invented the darn things. I must ring him up and mention my pain and agony with his product. Obviously, he (I am sure it's a he) is laughing all the way to the bank as he has fully transformed an entire industry by making film cameras obsolete and pushing his invention to take its place. Oh, yeah, he is living large in a palace by the sea eating bon bons while the rest of us suffer.

Here's why I hate digital cameras. I am a right-brained creative type. I have no patience for technical stuff. No memory for learning the processes that have anything to do with computers. For heaven's sake, it's taken me three months of blogging to figure out how to do a link on a word and it was right in front of my eyes every time I logged on! Any type of thing where I need to have a system of organization is lost on me. I am visual. If I have seen it, I remember where it is if it is on my desk. It doesn't have a special name or a special folder, it has a location that is over on the right upper side of the desk or the left under that.

Herein lies the issue at hand. Digital photography was not made for right-brained creative types. Sure, we can take some amazing photos (and I do--really). Okay, let's be honest, we take thousands of amazing photos. In the olden days when there were no iphones or ipods or itunes, I would pull the cute little cartridge of film out of my camera after I had taken 24 pictures. I would take it to my local Target or put it in the mail and send to a place like Snapfish. I would know that in an hour or a day, my lovely photos would be printed and waiting for me. I could take them home, pour over them, slap them into my photo box for future scrapping and be so happy. No, they weren't always perfect and I missed some shots that I thought would be perfect, but there was only 24.

Did I mention that we take thousands of photos?

The number 24 is never spoken in these parts now unless Dan wants to watch the show and kicks me off of the good TV.

Now I have to do all the work. I only remember to upload when I turn the camera on and it is almost full. Of course, I am always somewhere very important and more pics need to be taken so I swap out for another memory card...which is almost full. When I return home, there is the choice of watching American Idol or uploading photos.

Hmmm...did I mention how great AI is? Should I do a link?! Okay, no.

Once I force myself in front of the computer, go to my photos, I start to scream. My filing system is not the way I want it and I can't find that particular picture that I took when Zach was 9 years old on vacation because everything is in weird files. I need to upload to Costo for prints, I need to burn CDs from my hard drive (yes, I do have two), I need to photoshop some pictures, I need to rename files...did I mention that I haven't uploaded the memory cards since after Christmas? Yeah. That, too.

I am so far behind that I do not want to sit down and begin work because it overwhelms me. Heck, I could care less about scrapbooking all of them--I am not one of those women--but I just crave a bit of organization in my photo life. Detail work is not my forte and makes me insane. And no, I do not have a Mac and I am sure that is the answer to all my problems. I have the books--Photo Freedom and have read Ali's blog and Cathy's blog and I know how others do it. But I cannot get these systems to work for me.

So that is why I hate digital cameras. Sure I feel like a professional with the amazing pictures I have. But I hate the rest of the work that comes along with that. No pain, no gain? Self-discipline? Do I have to?

It all makes me very grumpy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Scared of the Dark

After torrential rain on Saturday, Sunday's bit of rain seemed tame by comparison. As the afternoon wore on, the day turned into a lovely evening complete with blue skies and nice temps. And then the power went out. For the second week in a row, the house became silent for no apparent reason and candles became our only light source. This time though, Dan became the hero and hooked up the generator since Consumer's Power seemed to be keeping the future moment of repair a secret. Many others had the same idea and the street soon became alive with the rattle and roar of gasoline-powered machines. Lights began popping on one by one.

Zach was back and forth to his friends house checking on progress and helping Dan set up our power source. I was surprised when he breathlessly decided to come into the living room and sit with me. Grabbing the blanket on the couch he reported that he was scared. I thought one of his friends might have said something to begin this line of thinking, but it wasn't that. He didn't know what brought the feelings on but wondered if I felt the same. No buddy, not this time. We have food and water, a generator that works, lights that blow away the dark and we are all safe. He then proceeded to ask a million questions about electricity and how it all works--Zach's typical way of processing. Thankfully, Dan came in then and helped fill in the gaps (Uh, there were many!).

We never could get to the source of his fear so we let him sleep in his sleeping bag in our room (next to Dad's side of the bed) to help him feel better. Of course, 30 minutes after he went to bed, the power came on again...

This time, I wasn't afraid.

But I do remember a time though when I was very afraid. In 2001, as days went by after September 11, I felt fear in the pit of my gut. I had a toddler who did not know why he couldn't watch Blue's Clues on TV since his parents were glued to CNN for more details of the attacks. I remember shopping at the grocery store for non-perishable items to store in the pantry and stocking up on water. I think of the many meals where I barely touched my food because I was sinking into a depression. Visions of having to escape--something, but what?--out to the fields behind our house left me terrified (I am visual to a fault). I carried happiness around the house in order to be calm in front of my baby. Fear? Yeah, it was there. Fear of the unknown certainly was causing it, and I was in a desperate search to gain back control of my little world.

I felt that fear again this morning as I listened to a Dr. explain swine flu and the perceived epidemic that we could have soon. But this time, many years after 9/11, I think I am a bit stronger. I fought back against that gnawing at the pit of my stomach as I listened to the radio and I do it as I type. I don't want to give in to it. I refuse to let fear run my life as it does in others. There are people close to me that consistently let fear overtake them and then pass that along to others. They live in such dread that fun and living life and celebrating get squashed in the "what ifs."

As I told Zach last night, God is in control of each situation in our lives. He knew the minute that the power would turn back on. He knows every detail of our lives. He simply asks that we trust him. Trust that he is involved deeply in our lives and that his presence will sustain us when we doubt. And when we tremble. And when control is out of our reach.

Please, God, give me that faith every day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Velvet Cake Hair

During this season's American Idol, a girl named Allison Iraheta (okay, just figured out how to do a hyperlink--very exciting) has moved all the way up to the Top Five. She's only 16 and had the funkiest pink/red hair that you have every seen. One of our local deejay's, Todd Chance, calls her "Red Velvet Cake Hair Girl." It makes me laugh.

But it also got me thinking about food, of course. And I decided that I had never eaten Red Velvet Cake before. What a travesty! But then our fabulous friend, Oprah, published a recipe for Red Hot Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream in the February 2009 issue of the magazine. It's from a new cookbook called Baked and there is a Brooklyn pastry shop of the same name.

I had to try it. We are having friends over tomorrow night to play Guitar Hero World Tour (I am sure that will bring some stories!) and so in honor of Red Velvet Cake Hair Girl, I've been baking the cupcakes tonight.

It's been puzzling though as to why the recipe calls for cider vinegar! This is not an easy recipe to be sure, lots of separate bowls and special things to do. And oh my--so full of fat. Come on people, it uses buttermilk and shortening and butter...YUM. I will make the icing on Friday since I ran out of butter tonight. Yeah. Good for weight loss.

Anyway, I needed to know about the cider vinegar thing, so I googled it and this terrific article on the cake's history came up from the New York Times (I'm getting good at the hyperlinks!). I guess something about the combination of cocoa with the vinegar causes it to go red, then it is supplemented with red food coloring. My recipe called for 2T but I ran out, and so it only got half of that. Oh, well, I don't like to use red food coloring anyway. But the cakes are amazing!

A lovely little treat for a fun night.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sound of Laughter

As I walked outside for lunch today, I smiled at the sound of laughter from the school behind my office. The teacher had called the students inside and their voices filled the air.

Ah, recess in the spring. I was immediately transported back to my younger years and how I had loved those sweet moments outside and away from the classroom.

My elementary school belonged to a church and our playground was a parking lot. There was a swing set off to the side and someone would draw out several hopscotch and four-square areas with chalk. A small field was next to the parking lot on one side and there was always plenty of butterflies and bees flying around. That field was where I saw my first patch of lily-of-the-valley and smelled their wondrous scent. I looked for them every spring once I had discovered where they grew. On another side of the lot was the pastor's residence which had a deep green yard and a huge shade tree. The pastor had a dog--a gorgeous and good-tempered miniature collie who adored kids and stayed in the yard like a good boy with only cement parking blocks as a barrier.

I was a quiet and shy girl growing up (people probably won't believe me knowing how I act now!) but I would often keep to myself at recess. There was nothing better than sitting on those cement blocks under the tree and petting the dog while gazing at the pastor's house and on down the street. It was a tree-lined road with beautiful white houses from the fifties, all nice and tidy with those terrific green lawns. I would imagine myself living in one, dreaming about the mysteries behind the doors. I was always excited to see if the pastor's curtains on the side window were open and I could see inside. There was a round glass lamp in the window and in my mind, I decorated the whole room around that one piece.

On a good day, I would venture out to play with my friends. Candy was my best friend and we would make elaborate outlines of house on the ground with sticks and rocks. We would pretend many things in those rooms from meal prep to entertaining to decorating (I see a theme here). Exciting times until others wanted to join in or a stupid boy would wreck it.

As we got older, there were more dramatic moments of not getting picked for teams (over and over again, I would be last) or the discovery that boys were kind of cute. Many conversations on that black top were about Ponch and Jon from CHiPs, wondering what they were like and pretending they were our boyfriends. And there was always the jumping, jumping, jumping of hopscotch or the bounce of that red rubber ball at four-square.

One momentous day that I see very clearly 30 years later, is the time that one friend taught me the words and tune to "Let's Get Physical" by Olivia Newton John. We sang it out loud to practice and deep in our hearts we knew it was wrong. It was a rock song after all. Not until years later did I discover the true meaning of the song and why it was possibly wrong to sing it. A stunning moment. In my naive Christian school state...I had thought it was talking about exercising. It's true.

As the days warm up this spring, take a moment to drive by a school mid-morning and remember. There may be some great times from your past that come rushing back.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Little Deer

Every day while driving to work I have the potential to see creatures from the animal world. After all, we pretty much live in the country so we will happen upon deer grazing in a field or a crane flying low in the sky.

This morning, I rounded the corner...and what to my wondering eye should appear but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer! Okay, so I didn't see the sleigh but I can guarantee that I saw more than eight deer. How about 25 or so? Yep, as I drove I looked ahead and saw three deer poised near the road. I slowed down and realized that there were rows and rows of the things. All in a type of triangular pattern with one deer in the lead (roadrunner, I presume) and the rest fanning out behind--first three then six, etc. I slowed way down because heck--I am not stupid. That many deer would crush me should they be so stupid as to trot across the road. They decided not to go forward and instead all turned quietly around and threaded into the woods. No one was really hopping or leaping, just filtering through the trees and gone. Wow.

It reminded me that a few years ago on that same curve, I had a buck cross the road in front of me. Super wow. I slowed down to get a glimpse of him perhaps on the side of the road. As I stopped, I realized that he was STANDING RIGHT THERE. Gulp. We stared each other down eyeball to eyeball for a few minutes and then he jumped away. I had almost begun to sweat it out that he didn't like me and I would soon be on one of those "When Animals Attack" specials!

We often see deer in our own yard and they are truly gorgeous (the pics above are from my backyard). For awhile we had a one-legged deer that could actually bend down to eat even though she was missing her front leg. We've had twins and more than one very large group go through. I even saw a buck back there once, too. I might add that my husband has never seen one near ticks him off. Ha!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I recently discovered Kal Barteski's blog and art ( I am in love. She is a mom of two and an amazing artist. I love her philosophy of life and the energy that she brings to her days. If you read her blog, you will see very quickly how every day has a plan. Every day has a goal.

I was frustrated at myself today for my lack of energy and motivation. It could have been because of the weather--I got a mini sunburn on Saturday and then today it turned very cold and rainy. It might snow tomorrow and Wednesday!

Today was also Dan's first day at his new contract job. He will be living in Flushing, Michigan for five days and then be home on the weekends--for 4-6 weeks. I am so proud of him, but know that this job might not be truly where his heart is leading him. He wants money coming in and this will help. It may work into a full-time job where he can work from home most of the time and for that opportunity, we are grateful.

It definitely made me feel melancholy today.

There is a lot that Zach and I will need to re-establish as we manuever this world of "just us" for awhile. Today in true Kal Barteski style, I wrote my To Do list for this evening. And I am proud to say that I did most of it! I even exercised inside on the eliptical machine--what a concept. :-) And blogging...and changing the sheets on my bed...and a load of laundry (got 2 done!)...and fixed the garage door (stuck on manual when we lost power overnight)...and fixed the internet that was down...and exercised. Oh, yeah, I mentioned that but I am very proud of myself. YAY!

And like a good mom with a pre-teen, I took away Zach's Nintendo DS when he kept telling me "no" for something. Gotta start out the week on the right foot and reminding him of the rules will help me stand my ground, making life smoother later. Sigh.

Okay, I didn't want to go to bed late on the first night of the week, but well, I am.

Tomorrow--new day, new mood. Go!