Wednesday, July 29, 2015

See? I do things.

I promise, I have been meaning to post! It is not always easy, as internet is spotty at best out on the road. Yes, I am on the road and am behind on my days. I thought on Saturday that I would try to post once a day every day this week. And today is Wednesday and I am just now writing.
 
I thought I would share some photos from the road, or in this case, the water. Yesterday, we cruised through Lake Powell (also known as the flooded part of Glen Canyon). Usually, the trip is just an hour and a half and then we go on our merry way.
 

 
Except, then we got a call. Well, the captain got a call. Another boat's steering went out. Rather than have their 98 passengers paddle, they called our captain to see if we can pick them up.
 
 
So we did. It took an extra 15 minutes or so, but between the crew members of both boats and the patience of all passengers, we completed our rescue mission. (Ok, ok, maybe that may be a little dramatic...)
 
 
Every once and a while, I get a few moments to myself. So after a day that started at 5am, I enjoyed a local amber ale, a kale salad (POW!- it packed a nutrient punch), and some light reading about the slave trade in the eightteenth century.
 
 
My days are busy and I have little time to think about anything beyond what I need to do next for the tour. But sometimes I take a moment to appreciate my surroundings. Last night, along with a nearly full moon, I watched oranges and purples battle each other as the sun set. Ultimately, a starry night won.
 
 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Small Fires Happen

"Small fires happen."

When my friend was talking about things I cook up, she meant figuratively. I also meant it figuratively when I said "as long as I don't burn down the kitchen!" And we laughed. She probably didn't know it, but her reply about small fires served as words of encouragement. Small fires do happen.

I have been playing with my color pencils. Fire is hard to capture.
Recently, I have seen quite a few folks around me who are clearly struggling with where they are in their life. I struggle with it, too, sometimes. We thought we would be somewhere else, doing something else, living someplace else. We made choices that brought us here and sometimes we feel like here is not where we want to be. And when small fires happen, it feels like the end of the world. The small fires feel like they engulf us because we fuel them with our own doubts. The sooner we accept that these small fires happen, the sooner we can put them out and move along.

I think it is important to keep "cooking things up." The more often you try things in the kitchen of life, the more often you are going to start small fires. The more often you start small fires, the better equipped you will become to deal with them. The better equipped you are to deal with life's small fires, the more you can experiment in the kitchen. Maybe this is not the best example of life's cycles, but it is what I have been pondering.

I never want to stop trying. I never want to get so caught up with the "oh, I wish I had" that I forget I am still alive and opportunity is waiting for me. So here is to today's small fires! May you appreciate them in the moment and later be able to see how they helped shaped your future.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Forever Amazed by Technology

I like to imagine throwing my computer out the window, sometimes. That tends to happen when the device does not do exactly what I want exactly when I want it. I forget how magical it is just that technology like this exists.

The other day, I needed to print something from my laptop. I was downstairs, my printer was upstairs. I knew both devices had Bluetooth capabilities, but I had not actually used the two together before. I was lazy enough to give it a shot. I pressed "print," selected the correct printer, and waited. A moment later, a message popped up about the ink status of my printer and asked if I wanted the document in black-and-white instead.

What? What was that? My computer was effectively communicating with my printer? I clicked "yes" and ventured upstairs to see the result. There it was, glowing in the plastic printer tray... a piece of paper with my words, my very own printed document. My brain exploded! Everything on my screen traveled through space to become a document on a different floor!

When I was five years old, I was floored by the idea of a fax machine. At a local science/children's museum, there was a room with fax machines set up. Kids got to draw on a paper, fax it, and then see that their drawing was replicated across the room. My little five-year-old brain broke after I saw my drawing appear across the room. How could that happen?! I examined the cords and decided there was no way a paper rolled up could fit through the wire. The whole concept was likely scientifically explained, but I would always chalk it up to some form of magic.

Bluetooth is a technology that I still vaguely understand (and yes, it has been scientifically explained to me). It ultimately gets filed in the "it's magic!" part of my brain and I cease to be amazed by technology. Now, watch this. I am about to press a button and this will post to a floating magical webpage and you will get to read it from anywhere in the world (with internet access)! How is that not amazing!?

It is the little amazements that quell that urge to throw things when technology acts imperfect.   

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rebellious Fire Alarm

RWOOOOW RWOOOOW RWOOOOR.

Think of the shrillest, loudest, most piercing noise you can imagine. Now add another 50 decibels. That was the sound of the fire alarm in our hotel the other night. It startles one into a state of awakeness that forces the brain to go from rational to whoa. In this case, the alarm started at 2:54am. It continued until 3:06am. That 12 minutes of constant alarm felt like 48 minutes.

Now, over the past few weeks, I have been reading "The Hunger Games" series. Semi-futuristic, the plot essentially rests on the foundation of The Capitol (government) against The Districts (tribal groups) through the eyes of 17-year old Katniss. Katniss is fierce. Katniss is awesome. The books are good. I usually avoid all things super popular culture, but stumbled in to these. You should read them.

Anyways. I am in the midst of reading these and may have fallen asleep while reading one. No big deal. In fact, I fall asleep reading a lot (a product of graduate school). So when that alarm went off the first thought that popped into my mind was:

OH NO. THE CAPITOL IS HERE AND THEY WILL CRUSH THE REBELLIOUS DISTRICTS.

Immediate follow up thoughts included the violent death of Katniss and the horrible victory of the Capitol. It only took another half a minute for me to remember: This is not my bed. This is not a book. I am in a hotel and in charge of a group of people.

The shrill alarm distracted me from thinking clearly (although, it being 3am did not help) and I found the items I thought I would need in the event of an emergency: my wallet, my room key card, shoes. I left my room with the intent of finding stairs and walking down, when I realized I had no idea what direction would take me to a stair well. I was about to return to my room to find my map when the announcer came across the loudspeaker that the alarm was a false alarm.

Aw, thanks, guys.  Turns out the whole thing started because somebody left their shower running with hot water and the steam activated the alarm. Our lesson? False fire alarms are not enough to overpower the strength of The Rebellion. Or something like that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

this is what we call "fat and happy"

Did you know it is possible to gain eight pounds in two weeks? It is. I could be in the opposite-of-weight loss commercial. I toured New Orleans and south Louisiana for two weeks and I gained a half pound a day. AND that was with regular use of the hotel-provided treadmills. This is what happens when you have to decide between French toast, beignets, and eggs benedict for breakfast. Hmmm. Should I kickstart this 14-hour day with 2,000 calories of deliciousness, 2,200 calories of deliciousness, or 3,000 calories of deliciousness? Well, the eggs are protein, so they'll be good for me...

Do not misinterpret my jest as complaining! This is legitimately the first of first-world problems, I know. I love that I get to eat amazing breakfasts and that I have no dishes to clean up. I love that my coffee cup stays warm. I am on my fourth week of these tours so now the staff recognize me and some know to bring the orange juice and coffee when they greet me with a smile. And I love every minute of it.

Am I happy about the extra poundage? You bet. They were earned. That's why God invented elastic.

Now off to my morning visit to the hotel workout room to battle my half pound today. Maybe I can leave this week only three pounds heavier.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Magical Places

What makes a place magical? I grew up visiting Disneyland and understood that as a special place (ok, maybe a manufactured special place, but still special). Some might even call it "magical" (heck, the commercials for Disney experiences are founded on the idea that Disney is magical). How about places that don't have "imagineers" working to provide a magical experience? What makes those places magical?
 
I currently have a job as a tour guide in south Louisiana. I know, I know. I am surprised I am here, too. No need to dwell on the past or what I am doing or how I got here; all you need to know is I am excited for the experience, the job is a very good one, and my life is going well all around. Now this tour guide job is really more of a tour director of a tour throughout south Louisiana, starting and ending in New Orleans. I am writing this from my super plush hotel room, in fact. I even got a fruit basket upon arrival. It's fancy.
 
Now that we got that sort-of-crucial set of details out of the way, I can get back to my original question. What makes a place magical? Prior to my arrival here, I spent a few days with in-laws up in rural Wisconsin. That place was magical (and I don't just mean because of the abundance of cheese and beer). The undulating landscape rolls on and on and on into seemingly infinite hillsides. County roads pass one picturesque farm after another. Waterways and small lakes stitch these properties together to create a place bursting of greens and golds. And the atmosphere provides for some of the most stunning skyscapes I have ever seen: stormy skies, clear skies, foggy skies, sun rises, and brilliant sun sets. I suppose my historian self is also intrigued about the families and former settlements that make up the history of the place.
 
That is all magical to me. I don't know what made it that way, though. It just is.
 
Today's task upon arrival to the Big Easy was to orient myself with the city, especially with the routes and stops and hotels and restaurants for the tour. Tomorrow is the big first day officially and attendees will be arriving for their first day(s). So I did my first set of walking mid-day. Then another round. After I thought I had settled into my hotel room for the evening, I could see the sun was setting out of my window and decided to walk one more stretch as the sun sank into the horizon. And it was magical.
 
The humidity creates a feeling so that it seems microscopic beads of water gather in every individual pore. Just a full sixty seconds in this environment makes you aware of individual pores and the sweat that is about to drench clothing. That dense air also means each breath taken is velvety. The magic rests in how every body around the city feels it, too. We collectively just move slower. Except this is still a major city so while people may mosey, the traffic flies through the narrow streets, adding to the street noises. It stays busy and easy-going simultaneously. So many people (on a Monday a night!) crowd the streets and while that in itself is not magical, everybody is seeking something different. The historic buildings serve as the stage- beautifully colored props that please the eye. Then the players come out! On a Monday night, some folk have comfortable summer clothes, some look like "tourists" complete with fanny packs and visors, some have rolled up their blue collared sleeves and are looking to relax after a day of meetings, some have dressed to go out to the renowned five star eateries that seem tucked in around every corner. Everybody's plot weaves into this story that is New Orleans as they experience magic.
 
I don't even know if those things are what makes this place seem magical. These elements contribute to the vibrancy, to the hum, to the magic, but they do not complete it. Maybe it is in me and in each of the other beings that walk around here. Maybe it is just in us and up to us to find it and embrace it.
 
Jackson Square
Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House- I would be remiss if I did not incorporate the pirate lore somehow on my pirate blog.
 
A sunset view over the French Quarter


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Forever in my Garden

If you knew me as a kid, you knew I liked the opposite of dirt. I did not like to go outside. I did not like to get dirty. I did not like the sun, nor sweat, or air. I liked a quiet corner of a library. In part because of my mobile upbringing, I understood "seasons" as weather. Gardening was more or less out of my peripheral understanding of life. Funny to think that, now, as gardening is very close to the center of my understanding of life.

Here I am, at the end of my third decade on this planet, and I love dirt. Dirt means I can play. Dirt means I can grow. Dirt means I can relax. Dirt means I can play in my garden. On a very small scale, dirt means I can eat. As much as I can with my crazy schedule, I try to spend time in my garden digging the in dirt. Especially on cool mornings, I get my daily thrills seeing each day's progress of a plant's lifecycle- especially the fruit-bearing plants. I get to eat those!

I love seeing the bud where I know a flower will bloom. And when a miniature globe peaks through and overtakes that flower, it takes everything I have not to shout "looooook! looooook! another one!" Today I noticed a grape-sized watermelon on the vine and nearly keeled over in joy. I enjoy watching the daily changes. Regardless of what I feel like is happening in my life, time marches on as evidenced by my garden. "Seasons" have greater meaning, too; weather plays only a small part of this concept of "season."   

I know what those flowers mean! 

Look! A baby tomato!

Look! Teenage tomatoes (they are still not quite mature enough to be considered adults).

We rent our property, so I had to use my 3' x 6' space with care.
Flowers, tomatoes, and watermelon vines that are now taking over my lawn.
I am okay with that.
I do not know where this life will take me. I just know I will forever keep a garden.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Day of Cleaning Ahead (so I write instead)

All of the final "to-do" things are left at the old place: minor knick knacks need gathering, place needs a thorough cleaning. That's what I am supposed to do today. All week I was excited for the all-day cleaning spree. 1) I like to do deep cleaning, as it makes me feel like I have accomplished something. 2) This is like a monkey on my back and once we are completely clean, we will be completely free. (We don't have to be out until June 14th, but I don't want to wait until the last minute). And now that my cleaning day has arrived, I am feeling a little apathetic about the whole process. Eh, who cares? We still have a week, right?

No.

I have to get myself together and make it happen. I thought maybe if I sat at my computer for a moment (in my awesome new place, at my awesome new desk space), I'd get myself inspired. Nope. I just gotta go do it and get it done.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Warming up my Brain

I am sitting on my (new) back porch, sipping on my (mostly) warm coffee, letting my (foggy) brain wake up. I imagine the workings of my brain as something from the interior of a cartoon clock, with cogs and springs and puffs of smoke when it starts working. We moved into a new place, complete with a back yard and patio, about two weeks ago and have been settling in. Today is the first day in a long time that I haven't had anything major to do (no work, no deadlines, only one load of laundry). So I am allowed to take some time to let my brain wake up. It's nice.



I try to convince myself that I can "get in a groove" once [fill in an imaginary event] happens. I'll start doing this more once this stops. I'll maintain a better schedule once I do this. When it boils down to it, I am just not a groove kind of person. (Note: I did not say "groovy"). While in school, I systematically clung to the idea that I was working towards a grooved life. I had a solid year with a solid "groove" after grad school. I spent that year looking for the next non-groove thing to distract me. I am not meant for grooves.

In my new place, I have space. Ask my mom, I like to explore the space. In my space I have an "office." My old desk in my old place was good, but now it is wonderful. I can't hear my neighbors yelling. It doesn't smell funky. Never underestimate the power of natural light through windows! And now I have an extension of my office through my back door and on a plastic Adirondack chair on my patio. The sun lights up the sky, but the towering trees rustle their proctection from the heat. I can think clearly, freely, and openly in my extension of my office before heading back to my desk where I can channel my thoughts into deliberate letter formations that create words that inform ideas I like sharing. 

As always, I struggle to maintain my balance of remembering my past while looking to my future while appreciating this moment. Maybe it is an impossible thing, but I sit here with a mind to be able to do those three things. I think about that as I fuel my day with the parts of life that is beyond coffee. Well, with a little bit of coffee, too.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Is it plural or possessive? That seemingly makes a difference.

I feel there is a societal push to laud your mother louder than everybody else does on Mothers Day (or is it Mother's Day?). "Everybody! I did not spawn from the Earth! Rather, I came from the loins of my mother! Isn't she great?" I have a hard time publicly sharing all that. Especially the loins part.

I know several people around my age who don't have mothers with them here anymore. That is heartbreaking. I know several people around my age who grew up with severe strains on their relationships with their mothers, some even growing up with abuse. That is heartbreaking. I know several people my age who want so badly to be mothers, that are loaded with motherly instincts, and can not conceive. That is heartbreaking. So I tend to keep quiet on Mothers Day, because I know the day represents forms of pain for some folks, for people I know and care about.

Unfortunately for my mom, it publicly looks like her kids (well, at least the eldest) don't celebrate Mothers Day at all. We've outgrown the finger painted cards from our youth and now face the aisles of "MOM" in early May. She has been mom for nearly three decades! But then again, she is a mom every day of the year. And she raised her kids to show humility, so it is hard to brag about Mom when she taught us not to brag. She contributed making my siblings and I into who we are today, but most Mothers Day cards are sappy and don't quite say it right. They don't say, "between you and me, you are a great mom and we don't have all the words to say how much we thank you and love you because there aren't enough words." They don't sell those cards in August when an opportunity might pop up to celebrate a mother after the holiday.

I am blessed to have my mom and I know that. I am blessed that I have both parents. I am blessed both parents had cool moms (and that I still have cool grandmoms). I am blessed to have mother(s) in law, as well. And I am blessed to have motherly figures. God saw that I'd needed a lot of help on this planet and provided me with many mentors and guides and motherly-like figures. They don't make cards for those folks and those folks don't get "days," but they count.

I love my mom and and grateful God gave me her. And I hope she understands ultimately she doesn't need one special day because she has them all.