An Adventure: Moving Experiences

This is going to be a very, VERY quick post to let you know that a) I haven’t dropped off the map, and b) the reason I haven’t posted lately is because I couldn’t find half of my stuff or take time to surf the internets because I just MOVED!

I suppose I should have used boxing gloves. Get it? HA! I crack myself up…

Yep, plenty of things have gone wrong so far, but I found some of the important stuff–toilet paper and the cable outlets. (That sounded weird. Have I mentioned sleep deprivation as a side effect of moving?)

So, stay tuned for future updates as I unbox more stuff that I need to have in order to function. (Where in the world are my paper towels? Oh, right. Bedroom closet. Next to the electric bug zapper. Right where they should be. Yikes…)

An Observation: Nature Walkin’

It’s easy to take natural beauty for granted. As a photographer, however, I am always looking for a unique angle. Most of my photography comes from Arkansas, and The Natural State truly lives up to its nickname. The choices in a single setting are just as varied as the state’s geography itself. What kind of story do I want to tell with the picture? How can I frame this differently? Am I missing something?

Speaking of “missing something”…we go nature walkin’ ’round these here parts. The “g” on the end of the traditional pronunciation of “walking” is unnecessary in Arkansas. I guess it’s in the spirit of the pronunciation of the state name itself. You know…you drop the last letter when you say “Arkansas.” However, don’t you DARE try to spell it without the “s.” When it happens, it’s not pretty.

As seen in New Mexic.

Batesville, Arkansas is a very picturesque community. The historic homes downtown are postcard-perfect in many ways. The churches are equally as fascinating.

Late afternoon in September. Ahh.

Oh, and I did mention nature, so I suppose I should show you some nature. Batesville is situated along the White River–an excellent photography location for all of you shutterbugs out there.

Nice September day along the White River at Batesville, Arkansas.
Looking towards the bridge along the White River at Batesville, Arkansas.

Guess what?!? It’s also possible to find natural beauty in an urban setting, and a quick trip across the state line to Tennessee can offer up some great opportunities. The clouds in these photographs created some great backdrops for photography along the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee.

Isolated storms, the bridge, a barge, and the Mississippi River. If you turn to your right from this vantage point, you’re looking directly into downtown Memphis.
Towering clouds over the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee.

Of course, if you’re interested in really getting close to nature (in a controlled-ish sense), you should give a drive-thru safari a try. Yes, you can pay to let animals stick their tongues out at you as you cruise at a steady five miles-per-hour. But, the photography is fun…as long as the animals don’t try to eat your camera. I caught up with this rather tall giraffe in Alamo, Tennessee at the Tennessee Safari Park.

Oh, you makin’ fun of me? Well…you’re too tall. So haha. Enjoy getting rained on before anyone else does.

I suppose the drive-thru safari is more like nature drivin’, to be specific. Where are some of your favorite nature photography locations? Leave a comment!

A Question: How Am I Not Bald?!?

I have lots of hair. I have to have lots of hair. Otherwise, I would be completely bald by now. In fact, I’m having a hard time figuring out how I’ve not been completely bald from a very young age.

One trip around the house with my vacuum cleaner and I collect enough hair to assemble a small fur-bearing mammal.

scared tim burton GIF
Oh, wow. You’re…cute.

I suppose that’s normal for someone who’s getting–shudder–older. I still have plenty of it attached to my head, though. Very thick. Always has been. Hairdressers usually give up trying to completely dry it before I leave the salon after a trim.

When I was young, I’d listen to the comments from my mom about how much I shed, but my hair was still really, really long and thick. I wouldn’t mind having that hair back again, because it still held some socially acceptable styles and a little bit (entire can) of hair spray usually took care of any issues.

Yes, I’d like to place an order for my thirteen-year-old-self’s hair, please.

I’d like my flexibility back as well, please. (But not that couch. No, no. That’s where Herb Tarlek’s sport coats went to die.)

I don’t dare say I’d like to be my old self again, though.

Think about it.

It’s just another expression I question.

Why would anyone want to be their old selves? For starters…

a) I think that when people say that, sometimes they mean their “younger” selves, because–let’s face it–you probably wouldn’t really, literally want to be your “old self,” unless you’re five years old and haven’t a clue about the mystical wonders of adulthood that await (see also: bills, responsibilities, opening hard-to-open jars by yourself), and…

b) I’d like to think that being restored to factory settings isn’t always the best thing. Maybe there’s an upgrade, and you’re still in the beta testing phase. Perhaps you’d rather be a newer version of yourself…Sara 3.0, or something. You know, work out the bugs.

Anyway, back to the hair…

I recently read an article that said that the haircut I’ve worn for the majority of my life is actually in style for the time being. Perhaps I should clarify…the way my hair wears me has come back into style, because I sure know I can’t make it adapt to trends these days. So, I have to wait around for decades at a time for it to become part of the in-crowd.

Seeing as how I pick up so much of it everywhere, I guess I should be glad I still have it at all.

An Observation: Impressive Stuff

Group behavior intrigues me. No, no…behavior in general intrigues me.

If you think about how you behave alone–say, in your car when your favorite song starts playing on the radio–that’s not necessarily the same type of behavior you would put on display at a company lunch meeting.

When you were a kid, however, you either amplified that type of behavior in front of your friends to try to impress them…or completely suppressed your hidden, burning love of belting out a Gloria Gaynor tune that would become your karaoke anthem in the years ahead and…ahem, yeah. (Moving on.) In other words, you probably tried your best to be anyone but yourself.

Lest I go too far off the psychological deep end with this, though, let’s keep this discussion shallow. For entertainment purposes.

When I was in junior high, my school installed the most impressive machines any of us had ever seen on a school campus–soda machines. At least, it appeared that way. In fact, to see everyone’s reactions, you’d think no one at our school had ever seen a fizzy, carbonated cola drink in a can IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.

If they’d been selling these here Bacon sodas, then I’d have been impressed. (Chill at six degrees.)

Kids were running around at lunchtime tossing a football with one hand and hanging on to a soda for dear life with the other one. The lines at the soda machines were longer than the lines for actual lunch. Never mind that most of us brought sodas to school in our bags for later or that lots of kids would show up first thing in the morning with one.

Apparently, the idea of buying one from the new doohickey plugged into the wall was all the rage.

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I observed this phenomenon as a seventh-grader–as it was happening–yet I still brought quarters from home for the soda machine (I needed all the cool points I could get…I was tired of being picked on).

So…does anyone else out there have an experience or observation that compares to this? Let me know!

As I said, behavior intrigues me.

A Relic: Tele-Port(able)

My mom came over recently to help me clean out some closets and organize a spare bedroom. She opened up a closet while I was in another room and discovered one of my ancient treasures.

“Hey, where’d this TV come from?” she asked me through a wall.

I went into the bedroom and looked at what she had found on a shelf.

“Oh, yeah. That. I won it in a drawing several years ago,” I said.

“I didn’t know you ever had anything like this,” she replied.

“I’ve had it for twelve years.”

(When I say something like that, it usually has the effect of ending a conversation, because I’m notorious for being able to tell someone the exact date they told me my earrings didn’t match my shirt, or something else equally insignificant.)

The television was a very small, portable, black-and-white battery (or adapter) operated gadget with one antenna and–but wait, there’s more–a radio receiver. I won it in a door prize drawing at a required, mandatory staff meeting at work and immediately made the joke that I’d use it the next time we had a tornado. Everyone laughed, because in Arkansas, that possibility is always just around the corner. The “big switch” to all-digital programming was still a few years away, so it was still operational.

“Have you ever used it?”

“Yeah, during the ice storm. Nothing else was working.”

See, based on past experiences, a tornado or a severe thunderstorm was the event most likely to knock out power in my little corner of the world. However, in 2009, just a few short months before all-digital programming would take over the airwaves, Arkansas was hit with a massive ice storm that knocked out power for weeks in some locations. I was lucky that mine came back on within twelve hours, but my new flat screen television didn’t have the capability to pick up a television signal over the air.

That was when I remembered the little portable television. I pulled it out of the closet, plugged it in, and became one of the few viewers of local television during the first week of the storm’s aftermath.

Nowadays, it’s a relic. I could use the radio if I wanted, but the television is useless unless I decide to buy a digital converter (I think), which isn’t exactly worth the trouble.

I guess I could just carry it around and pretend like it’s 1989 or something. Since we all carried portable televisions around like boom boxes back then…umm…yeah.

I’m just jamming to…well, nothing. But I look like one of the cool kids, don’t I? (Am I doing this right?)

A Photographic Memory: The Grand Canyon

I recently started going through some older computer files to see what I might have overlooked in my photography collection. I determined that a) there’s no real way to overlook photos of something as majestic as the Grand Canyon, b) I had a few of them that I had overlooked in a way, and c) technically, I was actually overlooking the Grand Canyon when I took the photos, so now I’m just confused by my own words.

In any event, I took them around the time I was just getting started with more serious photography, so they leave a lot to be desired. However, it’s nice to look back on what you’ve done to see how far you’ve progressed with time and practice…although now I just want to go back for a do-over.

grand canyon GIF

Another factor in my “I-Just-Want-A-Do-Over” thought is that this was on the return leg of a road trip to Las Vegas. By the time I was able to get to the Grand Canyon (for the second time in my life), the weather had taken a turn for the stormy. IN JULY. Yes, I managed to find a storm in the middle of the desert. IN JULY. (Did I mention that it was July?) So, I didn’t get to stay as long as I had hoped to stay.

Anyway, the Grand Canyon is one of those treasured locations that everyone should have the chance to see in person. I’m just lucky enough to have seen it TWICE in my lifetime because I was along for the ride. I was also lucky that I was old enough to truly appreciate it the second time around…and that I had a really good camera, even if I was in the VERY early stages of learning about photography.

The colors, the contours…it’s just a stunning view from any angle.
You can see the clouds building in the distance. I decided against being struck by lightning to get the perfect photo. I think it was a good choice.

For more information about Grand Canyon National Park, here’s the link to the National Park Service website. (If you plan to drive and have trouble finding it…umm, it’s a really big canyon. Just trust your instincts on this one.)

A Technological Throwback: Typewriter Time

Back in the fall, I ordered a copy of the Tom Hanks book Uncommon Type: Some Stories. The book is a collection of short stories that all have a common thread…each one features a typewriter in some form or fashion.

I’ve always liked typewriters, even if I was a little frightened of some of their mechanics when I was a kid. (I think I was afraid that if I put my fingers near the ribbon, someone would accidentally hit a key and leave a permanent letter on my hand. That probably helps to explain why I’ve never gotten a tattoo.) At my high school, the typing classroom was filled with electric typewriters. I can still hear the clicking…

I usually end up with some kind of new gadget each summer. This summer, my “new” technological acquisition is a manual Remington typewriter.

It’s just my type.

This is a Remington Quiet-Riter with a case. A very HEAVY case, I might add. I suppose you could call it an analog laptop.

Now, for all you kids out there, a typewriter is a machine that you use to type words directly on a sheet of paper. If you make a mistake–depending on the model–you are stuck with it. Autocorrect has no say in whatever crazy mistake you–yes, you–make.

phone fails GIF
…and you can’t blame autocorrect. It’s all on you.

So, if you’re going to use one of these things, you might want to do a thorough review of your and you’re and which word is applicable at the appropriate time.

With that being said, it’s amazing how much I had to re-learn in order to use a manual typewriter. For starters, I thought my typing skills were pretty good. And they are…as long as I have a backspace button. (I’m the fastest draw around on that backspace button, but it does little good when you’ll just be typing gibberish since you can’t erase what you’ve already butchered. Correction fluid is your friend.) Also, the apostrophe was not where I expected it to be, and I’ve discovered that I have to type much slower. If I don’t, the keys have a tendency to get a little tongue-tied.

Will it replace my computer? Not in this day and age, but I am using it to try my hand at creating unique greeting cards. If I use it for too long, though, I might re-develop some old habits that would need to be corrected when I return to the computer…

typewriter GIF
DING!

I’m sure I’ll be using the typewriter sparingly, but it does show me just how far we’ve progressed technologically in a relatively short period of time. And, much like the stories in the Tom Hanks book, it brings back images of a simpler time where we were much more connected…despite our current level of perceived connectivity.

An Observation: “Real” Ice Cream

This is an ice cream sandwich.

I couldn’t seem to wait five whole seconds to take a bite.

It’s no ordinary ice cream sandwich, though.

Nope, according to the box, it’s made with real ice cream. REALLY, REALLY, REAL ICE CREAM.

Naturally, this claim made me pause and think.

Does the fact that it’s branded as real ice cream mean that ice cream is a naturally occurring substance? I’m envisioning a breed of dairy cow indigenous to the Arctic Circle producing frozen milk (and somehow producing refined sugar and vanilla–naturally–at the same time).

It’s an udderly preposterous idea.

cow GIF

I don’t know that I’ve ever had fake ice cream, although the cows should be happy to know that I’ve been carrying authentic imitation leather handbags around much longer than I’d care to admit.

Still, what constitutes real? In the simplest terms of the word, if it exists, then it’s real. Perhaps it’s a tool the company used as confirmation that consumers aren’t imagining things; however, I don’t suspect that too many ice cream marketers are terribly concerned with their customers having existential questions about their product. (Granted, if you leave one of their ice cream sandwiches out in the heat for a few minutes, the ice cream part won’t exist for very long.) I know that I don’t tend to get too philosophical in the frozen foods section. My overriding feeling in the frozen foods section is guilt and shame with each sugary box o’ goodness I pile into the cart. Matter of fact, that’s my overriding feeling during the entire grocery shopping experience.

shopping GIF

Nothing like overthinking a snack. For real.

An Observation: Nailed It

I broke a nail.

That always bugs me.

Before you start thinking, “Geez, how vain can she be? It’s just a nail. Get over it…” allow me to fill you in on some background information.

You see, I was born with the capacity to grow teeth. Two sets of them, as a matter of fact. The first ones started falling out when I was around five years old.

“Don’t worry,” I was told by a well-meaning adult (without a degree in dentistry, I might add). “You’ll get permanent teeth where those used to be.”

“Really?”

“Yep. Just don’t keep running your tongue through the space where the old one was, or the new one won’t grow back.”

scared dog GIF
NOT the best advice…

With the discovery that I was going to have plenty of teeth, a nervous habit was part of the package deal—nail-biting.

I began biting my nails around the same time I started reading. (I don’t think the two are necessarily related, but when you start reading the newspapers as a toddler, it’s bound to increase your stress level to nail-biting capacity.) I don’t remember many instances from my childhood in which I was satisfactorily able to scratch an itch.

And it’s all because I had teeth and a nervous disposition.

Fingernails are advantageous for a number of reasons besides itch-scratching. They can be used for scratching off potentially lucrative lottery tickets, they can double as a flat-head screwdriver in a pinch, and they have the capacity to bring together a cross-section of society to gossip in harmony and unity through a ritual known as a manicure.

If I put the clipping under my pillow, will I get a dollar? At least a quarter, right? No? What a rip-off.

I did save money on my high school prom because I didn’t have long enough fingernails to require a manicure. Still, I had always wondered what it would be like to have beautiful nails. My curiosity, however, was not enough to defeat the lifelong habit.

Then, wouldn’t you know it, my teeth intervened again…in a different manner.

Teeth GIF
Calm down there, teeth.

When I was in college, I had to have a root canal. (It would be the first in a series of root canals that have since made manicure costs appear minuscule.) Due to a number of factors, my bite shifted slightly when the permanent crown was affixed to the offending tooth. All of a sudden, my primary nail-biting teeth no longer functioned as nail-biting teeth.

At first, I didn’t know if I should have taken my concern to the dentist.

“Excuse me, I need to schedule an appointment. The reason? I can’t bite my nails anymore and it’s driving me crazy.”

(That’s really right up there with someone under house arrest complaining to the police that they can’t easily slide through open windows at night on account of the ankle bracelet. I decided to let that one go.)

However, the years that followed have been years of unprecedented growth. I never knew I had such lovely hands when actual nails were attached to the ends of my fingers. I’m a musician and I’ve even turned down opportunities to take up the guitar more seriously because I would have to cut my nails.

So, yes, it’s a big deal to me when I break a nail these days. They represent a habit I was successfully able to overcome through willpower and sheer determination. (Well, okay…physical limitation is the more accurate way to describe it. It worked, though. The determination thing just makes for a better story.) Yes, it’ll grow back. Yes, I’ll just have to deal with the asymmetry for a little while.

But, it’s not so much an issue of being a little vain as it is an issue of complete and absolute vanity. They’re my nails and I want them to look pretty. So there you have it.

A Follow-Up: Still Learning to Crochet

Back in March, I issued a challenge to myself and my students. I told them about persistence and practice…and then found myself telling them I was going to finish crocheting a scarf by the end of the academic year. (Here is the link back to the original post so that you can see where my skills were and why I issued the challenge.)

Well, here we are.

Take that, challenge!

Congratulations to me…it’s a scarf!

Is it perfect? No. Is it a functional scarf? Well, I managed to sweat while I was wearing it (it is May), so I suppose it does its job quite well. Plus, it’s a fun color. Who doesn’t like fun colors?

It’s relatively short, I had to unravel it more than a few times, and the number of stitches may vary from row to row…but I managed to start figuring out how crochet works.

Beyond that, I’m just thrilled that I was able to make my point. (Whew!) While this will likely end up in the pile of projects that I look upon with pity a few years down the line, it’s proof that I can and did learn the basics of crochet. (You should have seen some of my first knitting projects. Oh, wait…you can. Here.)

I hope that anyone who is reading will also realize that in order to master a skill, you have to keep at it. I’m going to need to practice a LOT more than this to be allowed to declare myself a real crocheter.

So, what should I make next? (Rectangles only for now, please. After all, I’m still learning.)