March Came…and Went

without a written word. Well, from me, anyway. I might have given brief thought to writing – emphasis on brief. I wrote in other ways, though, in the form of lots of texts with my sisters (just two of the three). We had the biggest secret to keep from the other sister, and we had a blast talking about her behind her back. We didn’t say anything bad – well, not too bad (cue wicked laugh). And it all culminated in a fabulous surprise birthday party. We caught up with family and old friends (not necessarily age old, but haven’t-seen-in-a-long-time old), laughed until we peed, and kept the awesome servers at the restaurant busy, more than a little confused, and probably wondering if we were for real. Trust me, we’re as real as real gets. In the best way possible. Having three sisters to share life with is the best gift imaginable. We do our best being geographically separated, but I could do with more frequent hugs from my silly sisters. Oh, and before you ask (but maybe not before you wondered), no brothers. My dad is long since over the irony, but he could have used some sympathy back when he had four girls under the age of eight while trying to run a farm.

Five days after the birthday celebration, we had to say goodbye to my uncle. One of the dearest men on the planet – he was kind, devoted, smart, and funny as they come. And he was my dad’s best friend. My heart hurts thinking about my dad missing his friend.

The day was heart-wrenching, yet wonderful. It was bittersweet as my big, amazing family and the many, many friends (folks, there were more people there to pay their respects than the church could hold) remembered my uncle with funny stories and gobs of hugs and wondering how many years it will be before we see each other again.

Until we meet again, my sweet uncle, rest in peace. And when we do meet again, my first play will be a creve (flat-tire) card. May you have your Roue de Secours ready!

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Squeezing Every Drop

When you live in the PNW, sunshine is a commodity – not in the porkbelly-tradingplaces kind of way, but definitely in the high-value kind of way. This is our second winter in the Portland area. Last year was one of the wettest winters on record. (I’m not making this up just because I hail from a dry climate. See this: http://koin.com/2016/02/23/portland-having-wettest-winter-ever/). So, thinking we had that bad boy behind us, I was prepared to endure a “regular” PDX winter. You know, the typically gray, rainy-but-not-ridiculous, kind of winter. Apparently, records are meant to be broken two years in a row. This was yesterday: http://www.oregonlive.com/weather/index.ssf/2017/02/record_feb_16_rain_pounds_port.html

My last post was about Snowpocalypse/Snowmageddon (I always envisioned the real end of world event to involve more heat), so in addition to the buckets of rain, we’ve also had plenty of snow – of course that was the record-setting, Portland-never-gets-snow kind of snow.

My rather long point being that when the sun shines this time of year, you squeeze every drop out of that golden sphere of awesomeness. And it doesn’t really have to be bluebird sunshine. A “I can see hints of blue in that gray and it’s not raining” sun is plenty effective. Today is that kind of day. People sprout when the sun shines. They end their 3-day pajama fest and shower and put on real clothes. They sit on the patio at the coffee shop, even though it’s shy of 50 degrees. I’m about to go test it out, and I might even break out the sunglasses.

Speaking of testing it out, we’ve become dronists (not a real word – for now, but rolls off the tongue better than “people who fly drones”). Here’s a cool video of the inaugural flight: https://youtu.be/6Szk3ggRcus. Drone pilot: Dave. I just watch (sometimes he lets me put the propellers on). Oh – and he wrote and performed the music, too. I’m lucky like that.

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That little thing that looks like a bug is the drone hopefully not getting lost out over the Oregon Coast near Manzanita.

Snowmageddon 2017

Snowmageddon 2017. PDX Snow 2017. Winter Storm 2017. It sounds like it should go down in the annals of history right along with the Dustbowl or the Blizzard of 1978. It was dark and blustery and we huddled under blankets and watched the snow fall and fall and fall some more. Before we knew it, we were buried under eight inches of snow. (Where’s my crying laughing emoji?) We would be housebound for days. We didn’t really huddle under blankets. Nice visual, though. The housebound thing was real.

I know, if you’re not a left-coaster, you too are probably laughing and wondering why on earth eight inches of snow would cause such a fuss. But, here’s the deal: Portland metro has like two snowplows and no salt. Well, they borrowed some salt from Seattle. Apparently, Seattle didn’t need their salt that week. So, less than a handful of plows and salt with limited distribution options spells disaster. If you’re ever in Portland and one of these rare snowstorms blows through, DO NOT DRIVE. It won’t go well for you.

As luck would have it, I (meaning my husband) found my awesome snow boots just a couple of weeks ago. They’re so warm and cozy, so I was just itching to lace them up and go out in the snow. Last year (in Denver), I would have just gone to work, like it was any regular day of the week. But, I decided to embrace the craziness that Snowmageddon 2017 brought to our little corner of the country by capturing some scenes for the history books.

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Getting an early morning snap before the scene was marred by boots and skis
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Who knew people had Nordic skis handy?
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The population of snowpeople increased exponentially overnight
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A snowball fight broke out after a family photo shoot
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Only Jeeps dared navigating the streets.

Pretty scenes from a not-too-common event that absolutely wreaked havoc on the area. If I had school-aged kids, I might have not had enough wine to make it through. Seriously, kids were having a blast and parents were having to spend vacation days to be home with them. Wine emergency if there ever was one (after the littles are in bed, of course).

After the snow, it rained. And rained. Rained even more. That’s more like the weather I was just starting to get used to.

Seriously, though

WordPress lets me know how long it’s been (16 days if you were counting – bless your heart) since I last posted my musings. That was much longer than I intended, and I made a few attempts that just didn’t feel right.  You know, musings is probably a strong word. The last thing I want to do is sound too deep or take this too seriously. And, that quickly brings me to my point.

While pondering (sort of like musing, but maybe not as deep) my apparent inability to truly grasp anything by the horns and bring it helplessly to the ground, I had a bit of a revelation. I was watching yet another video on how to focus and become less distracted, all while increasing my creativity. I am totally jealous of have a fair amount of respect for the guy in the video, because he lives and works in the space that I very much want to be in. I’m committed to going through the courses – mostly because I paid for them and I just hate seeing good money go to waste. I mean, I could have bought some really nice boots, instead. Forfeited boots aside, my respect is based on the premise that he actually is the person he wants to teach others to be. He’s created the art to prove it. Not your average internet snake oil salesman.

Oh right, the revelation. While watching the video, my eyes were wandering and I found myself just catching the salient bits. I wasn’t taking it seriously. I started daydreaming about other classes, workshops, seminars I’ve paid for (or others have paid for) and recall having the same attitude. Subconsciously, I think I didn’t want to give an impression that I didn’t already have a firm grasp on the subject matter (right? why would you go learn about something you already know? duh).  No notes, no questions, just answers for the few people around me who were sadly less informed than I was. I’ve spent all the years I can remember living on the surface because I’m afraid of going deep. I thought it was because I didn’t have a passion, but I don’t believe that’s it at all. How can one find a passion if they just touch the surface and don’t bother to peel back the layers and discover all the glory underneath?

Because I’m afraid I won’t like it. And, I’m afraid I won’t be good at it. And that makes me uncomfortable. There are some activities I don’t take part in because let’s face it: not gifted. Long-distance running (short-distance for that matter), calculus, operatic singing, banjo, ski-jumping, and catfish noodling are not on my Nailed It! list. If I’m being honest, I’ve never tried banjo (it just looks sooo hard), and catfish noodling is just no. I’ve tried golf – like it, but not gifted – except for that one hit every round that even Paula Creamer would be proud of (when she was 5), that makes me think there’s hope for golf. There are too many other things to mention that I’ve tried and had reasonable success with. And those are on my been there, done that t-shirt. But I didn’t give any of them a fighting chance to steal my heart.

Still, there are some horned beasts that keep dancing in front of me; teasing and taunting and daring me to wrestle them down.to.the.ground. I’ve learned how to dance and keep time and generally co-exist with them, and it’s just so peaceful. But I want to conquer. And that will take more than surface living. It will take commitment, work, probably a few tears, and just really taking it seriously.  At some point, maybe I’ll even be able to put something on my Pinterest Nailed It! board. And if I don’t nail it, I’ll just enjoy it for what it is. There are other beasts to conquer.

And Sebastian – thanks for the inspiration.

 

 

Being Social Medialess

I was having a conversation the other day with my biggest critic supporter, and he asked me a question that made me think for a while. I mean, I don’t think I spoke for an entire minute.

I love photography. I probably don’t love it enough, though. More on that later. But, I really do enjoy taking an interesting picture – particularly of a landscape, cool architecture, or a cityscape – and then losing myself in Snapseed to make the photo really pop. And then I post it. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. And I wait. For likes, comments, followers. This phenomenon has altered my life. I won’t go + or – on that for the moment.

This photography thing (I’ve heard it referred to as a bug, passion, obsession, etc.) manifested itself in 2010 on a trip to Italy. I decided to get a decent camera, (the definition of decent has changed dramatically since then) because we were going to be exploring such an epic landscape. I blogged about that trip and posted pictures every day and I got amazing feedback from dozens of readers my friends and family. I did what any self-respecting decent camera owner would do. I decided I needed a really decent camera. I mean, my photos were that good (I have a bachelor’s in sarcasm, so don’t argue with me).

Really decent camera in hand, I took pictures, studied, practiced, learned, attended seminars and in two months time, decided I was a pro and quit my job two months after that. I had no clients, save for the few sympathetic friends who were nice enough to gamble on my new business. I asked for advice and was encouraged by no one. It’s probably somewhat like the kid from rural Idaho who had a lead in the school play and decided to descend on Broadway shortly after graduating. The biggest difference is that I had a really good job and gave it up. He’s waiting tables at a crappy diner. One of us has an income. It’s not me. (Note: I’m not trying to sound like Negative Nellie here. Just tossing out a potential nugget of wisdom to folks who might want to unwisely follow in my footsteps. You should give it at least three months, instead of two.) And, before you go blaming people who didn’t exactly say “you go girl,” the finger is pointing back at yours truly. I didn’t believe it any more (probably less) than they did. I just didn’t know that I didn’t believe it at the time.

Somewhere in the midst of my becoming a world renown photographer, I discovered the agony of social media. I could post my creations on Instagram and reach thousands hundreds forty people at a time. And why would I do that? Because. Sorry – that’s the best answer I can come up with. What I didn’t know is that I would meet new people from all over the world that I now consider to be dear friends, and if when I go on another international adventure, I won’t hesitate to arrange a meetup with any one of them. I hope they know I would be happy to do the same on this end.

What did he ask? I can hear you yelling at your phone – wishing I would quit rambling and just spill the question already. Here it is: “Would you still take pictures if you couldn’t post them on social media?” See? I couldn’t answer. I took me some time. Eventually, I said yes. Because it’s one of the ways I express myself. But still – what do I do with the finished image? I make calendars for friends and a couple of kind souls have purchased prints and placed them on their garage living room walls. I make memory books for family members. And yes, I still do a photo shoot now and again, and those clients happily download the images.

And post them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

The PNW

The Nerve

It took me five days to get up the nerve to share my first blog post. Of course, I had to run it by my spouse, kids and sisters to make sure I wasn’t making an enormous social blunder. They said they liked it!

I’m crying laughing, because if you can’t get your family to lie say nice things to you, then your issues are much bigger than being afraid of what strangers will think. I don’t think they lied. I hope.

The Story

In the first post, I left you wanting more. Let’s pause for a sec and decide whom is wanting more. Tricky. I could have meant that I’m creating a literary cliffhanger that will leave you breathless until I continue my story. Let’s just say that probably didn’t happen (and if it did… well, it didn’t – I’m pretty sure). I could have meant that I’m just finished for the day and part of the story is that I want more. We’ll go with option 2, although, I really meant for it to be option 1, but I know that didn’t happen. So, 2nd one.

Back when I was a baby – hahaha. No! I’m not going back that far. The interweb doesn’t have that many pages for me to write on. Anyway, one year ago exactly, in December 2015, my spouse, handsome in his driving cap, walked into the security line at Denver International Airport; destination Portland. He had a big backpack and his composition book and his favorite pens and a smile. And a big wad of nerves, to be sure. New job. New city. Overwhelming newness while leaving behind family, friends and all things familiar.

And now, we’ve been in Portland for a year. PDX, Rip City, City of Roses, Bridgetown, Little Beirut, Stumptown. Little Beirut? I don’t know of a town with more nicknames. I’ll use PDX to save space. People, this place is beautiful. It’s green. The grass never turns brown! Even after the trees lose their leaves, they stay green, because moss grows on them. I can drive an hour and a half in any direction and be in a completely different landscape (likely in a body of water, but maybe a snowdrift).

PDX is part of a larger abbreviation called PNW (or Pacific Northwest for those of you who might have ignored geography in 4th grade). This part of the country(s) is serious eye candy. There’s no point in chewing gum here, because your mouth will probably always be open. P.S. I had to (s) country, because Canada gets to claim the PNW, as well. And, even thought it’s technically the PSW of Canada, it’s still really the PNW when you think of the Pacific coastline of North and South America. Enough about geography. Plan a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

So YES! Good move. Mostly. Which brings me to the blog and its purpose. I spent a few months acquainting myself with my new surroundings – taking pictures, entertaining visitors, trying to remember which direction is which, scoping out the best grocery stores, exploring the city center, a couple of trips to the coast, trips up the Columbia Gorge. Then, it was time to get a job.

I’ve been gainfully employed for longer than most of you have been breathing, so I wasn’t worried about getting a job here. Denver and Portland are pretty similar as far as the corporate landscape goes. I pictured something like 1. update resume 2. search some job boards 3. send resume to some awesome companies with a rock star cover letter 4. wait a reasonable amount of time to be notified of my impending interview 5. nail the interview and accept the position.

Aside from a 3-month contract position in a call center, it’s been crickets. I do, however, have a lot of emails from companies that assured me my resume is impressive. I felt mildly ok about it after two or three rejection letters. I mean, after all, my resume is impressive. Cough. A dozen rejections later, I now know that someone in Human Resources got a hold of that “impressive resume” term and tweeted it to all the other Human Resources people in the PNW. Busted.

The Blog

New city. No job. Socially cautious individual. Three ingredients for limited human interaction. Some days, I haul my laptop to the coffee shop to work on my novel catch up on Facebook and browse the job boards and caress a warm chai. And watch people. It helps just to know they’re there. I’m not giving up on the job, but while it’s December and nobody wants to think about anything except chestnuts roasting on an open fire, I figured out a way to talk to people without talking to people. Opus 57 was born.

Opus 57

First Post

Opus 57 is a beautiful composition by Chopin. If you haven’t heard it, you should Google it and take a listen. There are actually multiple Opus 57s by various composers. None of them – not even Berceuse – have anything to do with the blog title. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

And, just to make sure I am using the term correctly, I searched “blog” on the interweb and found this:

blog
bläɡ/
noun
  1. a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

I love the pronunciation guide for blog. I think it requires you to stick your tongue out while saying it.

So, three criteria for a blog:

  1. Regularly updated. Criteria not met. It’s the first post. I plan to improve on this.
  2. Run by an individual or small group. Criteria met. I looked in the mirror this morning, and there was no one behind me.
  3. Written in an informal or conversational style. Met? Subjective, I think. But, I plan to embrace the intent of conversational style. I’m not going to worry about proper composition structure. Any posts that actually have an introduction, argument and conclusion, in the right order… well, that would be unintended. (Grammar and spelling are another matter – I care. Please don’t even get me started.)

So, why the blog? I’ll save the long story for another post. The study guide version is this: I get to talk to people without talking to them. So brilliant, right? This should strike a chord with you introverted types. Ok – I admit that only seven or eight people will read this, and they are probably related to me, but I’m planning to grow that to at least 10.

It’s so tempting to tell my whole life’s story right now, but that would take so long, maybe 10-15 minutes. So, I will leave you now wanting more.

Teaser: I’ve recently relocated to the PNW. It’s beautiful here. I’ll share the gorgeousness from time to time.

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