July Camping

Camping Eleven (246 of 213)

In July we went camping.  It was our first Colorado camping trip and we had a great time.  We went to Eleven Mile State Park.  I don’t even know how to describe where it is, but it’s on the other side of Pike’s Peak.  The reservoir runs along a river fed by snow melt.  The lake has Northern Pike, Salmon, Trout, Bass, and Crawdaddies.

Camping Eleven (204 of 213)

Yes, that’s right Crawdaddies, Mudbugs, or crawfish, the little red delights that are often found in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras.  They were in season when we got there.  Some of the park rangers were having a weekend seafood boil.    We were surprised to say the least.  Unfortunately, our boat is broken, and Shane had to take it to the shop after we got home.

While the kids and Shane went fishing, I walked around camp, and took some pictures of camp. I found one of the Colorado Springs Rocks.  The staff from a beauty salon in town had hidden rocks throughout the park.  There were a lot of song birds too.  The top two pictures posed for me on the picnic table.  The other bird and rabbit were regular visitors to our campsite.

 

And flowers galore!  We took hikes on the third day through the pine and birch trails.  I have traded tropical flowers for wild flowers.  Succulents, red poisonous berries, and other fragrant flowers.

 

And of course a new toy.  I sucked it up and bought a super wide angel lens.  It took perfect pictures of the landscapes around our camp.  I could get full mountains without turning my camera all sorts of different directions.  I still haven’t figured out astrophotography.   But hopefully I will be able to take pics when I get out of the hospital.

Camping Eleven (153 of 213)

And we had our security system.  She LOVED sleeping outside, and getting in touch with her wild side (chasing ground squirrels and birds).  Thor didn’t pose for me.  He would walk up to me every time I put up my camera.  The only time I can get a good picture of him is if I am at the end of the yard, and he’s running towards me.

 

Week One: 52 Week Challenge…

I signed up for a few weekly challenges this year– a weekly photography challenge, a weekly writing challenge, and a weekly savings challenge…  I decided to combine the weekly writing and photography challenge, posting both items on my blog.

Each photograph tells a story, sometimes they are long stories, sometimes they are short ones.  That’s what makes photography, painting, drawing, and even mosaics I do– art.  I decided this last year that I shouldn’t stress about making money with art, that I should do it for the sheer joy of it.  Same thing with my writing.  I should write for the sheer joy of writing.  I read a book a few months back that said, “The best way to de-clutter your life is to hold something, and ask yourself, if it brings you joy.”  I decided to do that with my hobbies…  Life is to short not to do something that brings you joy!

So the story– 11 months ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer.  I am told that it is chronic, and not likely to go away.  I will be on and off chemotherapy for the rest of my life.  I intend on that being a long time, but who knows.  I have no symptoms of cancer, the side effects of treatment are a different story– I can no longer run (due to skin issues), I cannot be out in the heat, fatigue, and digestion issues.  I decided a few days ago, instead of laying in bed waiting to die, I was going to do things I enjoy.  So here’s the first picture from the Dogwood Photography 52 week photographic challenge :).

photochallengeweek1

What The Hell, I Might As Well

IMG_0607

I am making a list.  Kind of like Santa Claus, but kind of not like Santa Claus.  It’s called my  “What The Hell, I Might As Well…” list.  It’s not really a bucket list, as I have accomplished most of my bucket list items– I ran New York City Marathon, went scuba diving in Guam, climb Pike’s Peak, saw a few celebrities (including a celebrity crush– Hugh Jackman in New York), I saw a Broadway Play, watched the sun rise, swam with dolphins, been in the Empire State Building…  This list is arbitrary weird things I always wanted to do:

  1. Write a Star Wars Novel.  I know that it will never get published.  I’m going to publish it on a fan fiction site.
  2. Publish a chick lit novel.  I wrote it, but I got to pitch it to a publisher.  I don’t know quite how to do that.
  3. I would like to go to another foreign country.  I don’t which one yet, I was thinking Africa, but my oncologist said I can’t go to Africa.  I asked at an appointment if I could travel while on treatment.  He said, “I don’t see why not, it’s not like you’re going to Africa.”  DAMN…. SHOT DOWN.
  4. Drive a sports car as my primary mode of transportation.  I want a Mustang.
  5. Get paid to do something I love– like having someone buy a picture I took, maybe sell my novel.
  6. Own another puppy.  I want a red Siberian Husky with blue eyes.  Love my pups, but I want that darned red Sibe.
  7. Live in a big city again.  Tired of these quiet little rural cities.  This one is about to be checked off.
  8. Build a house from scratch.  I want to design my next house.  I want funky colors in my bedroom, I want a bathroom with a huge glass window made by Angela (Big Orange House).  I want my photographs framed and put up all over the house.
  9. I want go get soaking wet in a thunderstorm.
  10. I want to see Niagara Falls, or Carlsbad Caverns again.
  11. I want to go to the Academy Awards, or Emmy’s, or Golden Globes– something to dress up for, and meet people– I know it’s the strangest ass thing, but I want to go to it.  I love movies.  I have been in two, it might be cool to be in another, or a television show…

That’s about it.  What’s on your What The Hell, Might As Well list?

How An Air Force Tradition Turned Into A Fun Crafty Art Project…

IMG_0202

It’s tradition in the Air Force to donate something to the squadron, usually a piece of artwork.  A friend of mine (actually my neighbor) is an incredibly talented artist and she does these amazing glass work using recycled glass.  I wanted to commission her to make something for our squadron, but unfortunately she was too busy with other commissions, and she was outside of our meager price range.  I attempted to contact other artists in the region, but no one was willing to do what I was looking for.  So I took to the internet, and ordered the supplies I needed to build a mosaic of my husband’s squadron patch.  Due to me not quite knowing the readership of this blog, I won’t be posting the finished product yet.

Anyway, I needed so many tiles, that I ended up with a severe surplus of tiles, and grout.  So I made another project for my son’s school.  They just were donated land at the local college, and just did a ground breaking last month.  I made a puzzle piece mosaic.  I needed to buy even MORE tile to complete that project.  At the end of it, I had over 7 containers of glass mosaic tiles, glue, and grout.  I found wooden canvases at Michael’s.  So I started making more mosaics.  It’s fun, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s something I probably will end up selling on Etsy, for those people who don’t have the time, or energy to do cool decor in their own home.  Anyway, if you want to try making a mosaic wall hanging (or any other type of mosaic, here’s how you do it):

What you will need:

Tiles  ($14.99)

IMG_0197

Grout and Mosaic Glue ($7.99 for the grout, glue is $14.99– not pictured):

IMG_0201

Grout Snippers ($9.99):

IMG_0199

Wood Canvas ($13.99)

IMG_0196

To make:

  1. Draw a simple design…  For the V, I also bought 12X12 letter stencils.  For the starfish, I took a starfish and traced it twice on the wood.
  2. Select, and arrange the color tiles you want.  The more circular the design the more you will have to snip the tiles with the snippers
  3. Glue the tiles down, and let it dry 2-3 hours.  This part of the project is the longest.  Make sure you have strong hands, because the glue is thick.  Also wear gloves, because it hurts when you peel the old glue off…

    IMG_0192 IMG_0191
    The Starfish and “V” initial before grouting

  4. Mix grout and spread it on the design.  This is also relatively time consuming part of the project.  Make sure all the visible wood has plenty of grout.  I put it on really, really thick, and spread it with a plastic putty knife.  Let dry for 30 minutes
  5. Sponge off with a damp (not soaking wet, but not dry) soft sponge, and old towel…

    Finished products:

    IMG_0194 IMG_0202
    The “V” one is with black grout, the starfish is white grout…

The Book

IMG_0101

I am not talking about the first book, or the second book, I’m writing; I’m talking about the book pictured above on my nightstand.  This summer has been an adventure for me, and it is not been a pleasant adventure.  It started out with a phone call from my mom, stating that my dad had had a massive heart attack.  The phone calls following that one phone call had confirmed that my dad had lost his battle with heart disease, diabetes, and obesity that had plagued him since he was in his forties.  After that, the summer was a blur.  I went from one thing to another kind of in a zombie state.

While I was in Orlando burying my dad, I restarted my second novel, I had been working on it kind of half assed all spring.  The first novel, I put down on the desk, and I have not touched it.  I became obsessed with finishing the second novel.  When I got home from Orlando, I struggled with everything.  I struggled to get up in the morning, I struggled with meaning in my life, and I struggled with some of the decisions I had made.  I started to even resent some of those decisions, and I felt completely powerless.

In July, my husband told me that he was going TDY the first week of August to fly, and then he was going to say good-bye to one of the Technical Sergeants working in the squadron that was leaving Oklahoma City to greener pastures, and he said that we were going to come with.  He took us to Shreveport, and we spent the days he was flying going bowling, at the SciPort, and then we went swimming at the base pool.  Before the bowling alley opened the first morning we were Shreveport, I decided to make a Target Run.

Growing up in Minneapolis, I have a love-passionate love for Target.  Needless to say that at most bases south of the Midwest the Targets are scant and rare.  You have to travel quite a distance to get to our favorite store.  There is a Target right outside of the base at Shreveport, so the kids and I ventured to Target.  I walked the aisles.  I didn’t know why I wanted to go Target in the first place.  Ryan shares my love for Target, perhaps we ventured there to get him a shirt, which we did.  I promised Sophie a toy of equal value to his shirt.  She picked out one of those old school 1980s coloring relief fashion designer toys.  I remember owning one as a child.  She was absolutely enamored with it.  I walked through the grocery section, looking for Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar Popcorn (my weakness), and snagging a few boxes of fruit snacks. I then remembered I needed to pick up a gift card for someone, so we ventured to the gift section.

Target has a new aisle of dorky little gifts.  I remembered that I had bought a gag gift for the Holiday Party last year there.  It was a coffee mug that changes when you put hot water in it.  When the hot water hits the mug, a Great White Shark appears to be eating swimmers.  I saw that mug, and laughed at it.  Then the book caught my eye.  I picked it up, and turned it over in my hands. Shrugging I put it back down.  My daughter asked me about it, and I think I told her that it was a journal of some kind.  She shrugged too.  Ryan picked it up and put it in the basket.  I picked it up again, I think I was frowning, and I paged through it.  Something told me I should grab it.  I don’t know why.  It was the only book like it in the whole aisle.  I picked up a few blank journals.  I usually buy a journal and only half way fill it.  I put the journals down, and picked up the book.  I paged through it.  I put it back in the basket, shrugging again.

I checked out.  I thought about sending it to my mom.  It would be something she would appreciate.  It sat at the bottom of my backpack.  We got back from our road trip.  It took me several days to unpack.  The book was left untouched.  School was starting in a few days, my husband was preparing for yet another TDY, and I was back to struggling, resenting, and trying to adapt to my new normal (my parents and I are close, so this is tough loss for me).  I set the book on my nightstand, waiting for the perfect time to send it to my mom.  The time never came.  I will probably send it to her untouched, as I flipped through it, I decided that it was the perfect blog fodder.  The writing prompts are genius.  So for the next 642 days, I will be writing between 500-1200 words on the topics in the book.  Perhaps it will help me break the writer’s apathy I have (I don’t really call it writer’s block, as there is no block, namely it’s 100% apathy)…

Lent Day 31-32: On vacation!

IMG_2849

Yesterday was a picture taking frenzy!  We went to Sea World, which I have huge mixed emotions about .  I loved Sea World as a child, I was always fascinated with Dolphin and Killer Whales.  Originally when I was younger, I had wanted to be a trainer at Sea World, a meteorologist, and a writer.  Unfortunately, only a few of those dreams come true, and after I had watched “The Cove,” I was decidedly against anything to do with Sea World.  My children love it, and it’s a place where they can learn about sea animals and learn about conservation.

IMG_3053

So of course we saw this lovely mainstay of Sea World.  The shows had changed completely from when I was a child.  The trainers are no longer in the water with the animals, so the shows are now just displays of the whales seeking revenge on unsuspecting tourist sitting in the front rows.  They splash the audience in the first 15 seats relentlessly.

IMG_2980 IMG_2976 IMG_2991

Personally I go for the aquariums.  The creatures in the aquariums are second to none, and I have figured out how to take pictures of the creatures without it looking like I am taking pictures through the glass.

IMG_2996 IMG_2863

Birds are common in both Busch Gardens and Sea World parks…  They are some of my favorite subjects, probably because their wings are clipped and they are used to posing for photos.

IMG_2867

And the kids had a blast feeding the sting rays.  I love paddle boarding in the bayous and seeing the rays swim up to my board.  Of course the water is not that clear, and I am afraid to take my camera with me.

IMG_2963 IMG_2982

I love the Dolphin show, and I was happy to hear that Sea World was addressing the some of the claims from the movie the Cove.  Though I would like to see the Dolphin in the wild, I understand that they are in the aquarium.  The trained dolphin at Sea World are no longer from the Japanese Cove, they were a product of a mass stranding, and cannot be returned to the wild due to health concerns.  Unfortunately, once dolphin are exposed to humans, they don’t usually return to the wild.