Thursday, September 30, 2010

Four Seasons

On the very last day of summer I remembered to run down to my favorite little pond and snap a picture of it so I could have a photo of that spot from all four seasons within a year. I’m not sure why that became important to me, but at some point after I took the first one last Autumn, it did. I may frame the four photos together because I find it interesting to compare them side by side.

When I took the “Summer” picture, I found that the little boat that sat in the same spot on the far bank for so many months had disappeared. I think the owner moved it out of the way to do some dirt work on that side of the pond. He has no idea how much that disappointed me. However, I think it adds a little mystery to the foursome when you put them all together.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Picture Perfect

Teen Angel and I have been taking her senior pictures off and on during the past few weeks. We took several of them over Labor Day weekend, but then I had to put them on hold while I did a bridal shoot and dealt with other odds and ends. She and I shot some more pictures this week, including some at the bakery where she works. I currently have about 300 photos to sort through, cull and edit, but so far my favorites are the ones we took at our last stop yesterday evening. It was the perfect setting, and the dwindling sunlight was at its absolute best when we arrived there.

For the past month I had searched for a junkyard where we could take the photos of Teen Angel in her prom dress. I liked the idea of surrounding her and that fancy dress with a bunch of junk. However, I had trouble finding a good old fashioned junkyard. It seems there's been a push in western Kentucky in the last few years to clean up the junkyards. I was about to give up when Hubby found the perfect spot just a couple of miles from our house. He has a buddy who has a radiator repair business, and next to Billy's business sits this old building with a rusted out car and a pile of junk. I scouted it out, deemed it perfect and screamed, "DON'T!" when Billy said he was about to tear down that old building and clean up that corner. He was more than happy to put off that chore until we shot our pictures, and I have to tell you I'm going to be a little sad to see it go when he finally gets around to knocking it down. It's just a perfect backdrop for portraits.

By the way, the rings she is wearing are her class ring, my class ring and Sissy's class ring.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What it is, Man

Just when I thought time couldn’t move any faster, it picks up pace. Time is moving at warp speed for the Hula-gen’s right now. It’s not really because of extracurricular stuff. It really has more to do with fitting in the day to day stuff while managing Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s care. Out of respect for their privacy, I will forgo most of the details, but I will say that we have entered into a higher level of care giving that at times is almost overwhelming. I could blog for hours on that situation, and it would be very therapeutic to do so, but I won’t. I just accept that this is life, real life. It is hard and exhausting, but we take each day as it comes and recognize that making decisions about their future care is a process that unfolds at a pace dictated by the ups and downs of their health. That sounds quite PollyAnna-ish and makes it appear as if things are just hunky dang dory, so let me assure you there are plenty of days when I want to pull my hair out strand by strand or stand on the roof of the house and scream until I have no voice. Popeye always said, “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.” Well, it is what it is and that’s all that it is, but most of the time we’re okay with that.

The last few weeks rushed by us, and this week will be no different. It’s a little unusual in that I had a large event at work yesterday I had to plan and execute, I am shooting more of Teen Angel’s senior pictures (at the bakery) this week and shooting pictures at a wedding this weekend. I’m also shooting someone else’s senior pictures next week. Those are all things I truly enjoy doing, so it will be very fulfilling. That’s something I can really use right now to keep me sane inside the insanity. On top of that, the Hula-gen’s are in the process of making some big decisions regarding our future.

We are an inch away from deciding whether or not to build a detached garage that would include Hubby’s coveted Man Cave. (Are we remodeling gluttons or what?) We are also gathering estimates on a pool and will either pull the trigger on that or put it to rest in the next week. I am pondering making an investment in some photography equipment that would allow me to do some wedding and senior picture shoots throughout the year. I’m still working on my skilz, but I think I’m at the point where I can do enough of those shoots successfully each year to make enough travel money to keep us in vacations. There are many places Hubby and I would like to go, and we’re not getting any younger. We want to get on the road before the arthritis renders us unable to ride horses in the Grand Canyon. I truly love photography, even though I’m still pretty new at it, and I think doing some paying gigs would fund my equipment needs for the fun stuff and help us see the world a little sooner. In the midst of all of that, we are trying to narrow Teen Angel’s college search and get her prepared for all of the applications and scholarship searches that are imminent.

It’s just a lot to do right now. It’s all important, and it all requires a great deal of thought. For about a week now, my head has been about to explode by the time I go to bed, and thoughts roll around in my noggin until I fall into an exhausted slumber. It makes me think of that scene near the end of the movie Parenthood where Steve Martin imagines himself on a roller coaster and fights the urge to throw up. Our lives are a bit of a roller coaster right now, but it is what it is and that’s all that it is. And we’re okay with that.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hula's Favorite Billboard This Summer

For weeks I have driven past this billboard on my way to work every morning, and it never, and I do mean NEVER, fails to make me smile.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Say Cheese

This little guy was on the back deck of our house last week, and God bless him, he had to suffer through the blinding flash on my camera a gazillion times. He kept staring at me and turning his head as if to say, "Dude, is this what it feels like to be Britney Spears?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The One Where I Pretend to be Sandra Lee And go Semi-Homemade

I’m not in the habit of posting recipes, but I have to share this one with you because it’s so easy and so great. It’s a little something I whipped up the other day, and I call it Holiday Tomato Bisque because that sounds way better than Some S**t I Threw Together At The Last Minute. This is one of those things that tastes homemade but is really just a mixture of store bought stuff sitting on the shelf. In my mind, that qualifies for a blog post and inclusion in the band boosters’ next fundraising cookbook.

This creation came about over the Labor Day weekend when we suddenly found ourselves with an invitation to an impromptu cookout. That in itself was exciting, since we rarely do anything holiday-ish on a summer holiday. We don’t spend the weekend in the Hamptons, dahling, and we don’t take the sailboat out for one last tour of the bay. We usually end up grilling a few burgers, taking a nap and watching six hours of the John Wayne movie marathon on TMC. Prepare to die, you sons of b*****es! That’s Hubby’s favorite John Wayne line. He likes to shout it at the TV if there are no children around. And I suddenly realized I’ve already used two profanities in this post. Hmm. What's up with that?

As we quickly got ready to go to the cookout, I remembered that I had two senior citizens to feed. As I didn’t have time to make much, and I didn’t figure they were game for tuna salad a second time that week, I decided to fall back on a good old favorite, soup and grilled cheese. However, I had only one can of soup, which is rare because I ALWAYS have canned soup. I started thinking about how I could stretch that can and tossed together the ingredients I’m about to share with you. When it was finished, I tasted it, hoping it would be edible. It was so darn tasty, I couldn’t believe it. The little bits of tomato and the texture make it taste like homemade bisque you chopped up and cooked for a couple of hours. It literally took about ten minutes, and that’s counting the 2.5 minutes I spent searching for my good saucepan. This recipe made enough for Mama J. and Papa T. with a smidge left over. You can double it and easily feed four or five people if you serve sandwiches with it. Try it the next time the weather’s cool, you’re stuck in the house watching True Grit and you can’t be bothered with feeding your peeps a real meal.

Ingredients: 1 small can condensed tomato soup, 1 regular can of Italian style diced tomatoes, tomato juice from concentrate and cream.

I’m not kidding, that’s it. And please ignore the fact that the cans in my picture look kind of squattie. I was in a hurry when I took the picture. I had PLANS for goodness sake!

Directions: Mix the soup and tomatoes (do not drain tomatoes) in a saucepan and add tomato juice until the mixture is the consistency you like. It should be a little on the thick side. Stir and heat this until it simmers. Add enough cream to take the edge off the acidity of the mixture and to give it a smooth taste. The soup will be an orange color. I added about a fourth of a cup, but who am I to dictate how much cream you should use. If you want to get jiggy with it, you can add more. Heat the soup a little longer until the mixture is good and hot, but not boiling and serve. If you have some croutons, you might toss those on top. I like it with Clubhouse Crackers, but then again, I'll eat anything with Clubhouse Crackers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When I Am Old

When I’m old:

I shall stay up late reading good books.
I shall not underestimate the power of words.

I shall write every day.
I shall not assume someone wants to hear what I have to say.

I shall travel to as many places as my budget allows.
I shall not wait for wealth before I start my journeys.

I shall skinny dip in the backyard pool.
I shall not be ashamed of my ragged worn out body.

I shall share a bottle of wine with good friends on a regular basis.
I shall not substitute substances for friendships.

I shall dance every time I get the chance.
I shall not step on the toes of others just because I’m old and can make demands.

I shall wear stylish hats.
I shall not wear a cloak of disappointment over dreams not achieved.

I shall take pictures every day until my eyesight fails.
I shall not forget that faith requires believing in the unseen.

I shall play with children.
I shall not suppress my inner child.

I shall grow old, but I shall not grow up.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Laundry Can Wait

I think so many times we miss things because we simply aren’t looking for them. We’re in a hurry, and we pass by the most interesting things because we’re focused on the task at hand or getting somewhere. Through photography, I’ve learned this past year that the most fascinating things are right under our nose if we take the time to notice them.

Saturday morning, I was doing laundry when I stopped and glanced out our patio doors and spied some really large mushrooms in the backyard. Hubby had knocked them down once, and they came back with a vengeance. I almost kept walking, but then I noticed they were covered in dew, and the sun was sparkling off their round caps. They seemed to have a brownish cast to them, and I was intrigued. I wandered out into the wet grass in my flip flops and pajamas and took a closer look. They were magnificent. The sunlight was just right, so I ran inside and grabbed my camera. I’m glad I did.

Their shapes and colors were beautiful.

I loved the crispness of their gills. And the glittery dots of dew on top were as if they were sweating melted copper.

They reminded me of crème Brule.

I loved the way this single dew drop teetered on the edge.

The edge of the caps had these interesting little beads on them.

And as I lay on a towel in the wet grass and gazed through the lens I kept imagining a little leprechaun climbing on top of a mushroom and washing his face in the morning dew.

I got way behind on my laundry, but goodness gracious think of what I would have missed if I hadn’t taken the time to look among the blades of grass. For that, my dirty socks can wait.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rated "M" For Mature Audiences

I debated whether or not to post about this, and then I finally decided that I would in the interest of keepin' it real as they say. Besides, we must all laugh at ourselves every now and then. I'll just warn you that this post is a little naughty, as mama says.

I'm always taking pictures of somebody or something. Sometimes in a very obvious way. I try to be respectul of the situation and the subject, but it can be a little embarrassing for Hubby to find me laying on the ground or climbing on vehicles or furniture to get a shot. I get some strange looks that are probably well deserved. I get some dirty looks, too. Not everyone wants his picture taken. I get it. No problem. It usually doesn't bother me much. Usually.

Tuesday night, when we were in Nashville at BB King's, listening to the band, the band decided to walk down into the crowd and have some fun. They spread out in a circle around us and took turns playing solos, trying to outdo each other as the spotlight highlighted each one. Well, Hula and Hubby were right in the middle of the crowd, and the band was all around us. In fact, the lead singer/guitar player was right beside me. As in so close to me I could have given him a Pillsbury Doughboy poke in the belly button. The spotlight was thrown back and forth between the band members, and I was having a big time taking pictures because they didn't seem to care and other folks in the audience had their camera phones going. I wasn't in the band members' faces, but let's just say you couldn't miss me.

The lead singer was playing to the audience by showing off some superb skills and playing with Hubby's beer bottle.

I was snapping away, right in front of him. Picture, picture, picture. And then he surprised me by playing the guitar with his teeth. It happened so fast, I didn't get the shot. When the trumpet player took over the solo, the singer looked at me and said, "Are you ready?" He was offering me a second chance. I said, "Sure!" and got all lined up and focused. There I am right in front of him, ready to go. Seconds later, the spotlight landed on the lead singer again. And me. Just me and him. He nodded to me. I nodded back. I was ready. And then...and the whole crowd watched...he played the guitar....with his what can only be described as a very suggestive way. I snapped the photo instinctively, but I was so dadgum surprised I moved and got a fuzzy picture.

Oops, the joke was on Hula. And while the full house at BB's laughed and clapped and my face flushed sixteen shades of magenta, he did it again. Staring right at me. I looked at Hubby, and he gave me a You Kind Of Asked For It look. I gamely snapped off a couple of other photos, laughed with the crowd and then sat down and died a thousand deaths.
Oh, the ways we artists suffer for our craft.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where in the World is Hula?

On the road, behind the lens and covered up at work. It's been another whirlwind week, and I looked up today and said, "Blog? Blog who?" Time is flying at warp speed again. This week included wrapping up a special project at work, celebrating Papa T's birthday and taking a road trip to Nashville. I also did a bridal shoot at an old house in town that was fun, fun, fun, but I can't post any photos just yet because we can't let the groom see the bride until the wedding. More on that after October 2nd. Much more.

The highlight of the week for Teen Angel was a trip to Nashville for the Nickelback concert. She and a buddy went to the concert while Hubby and I walked around downtown Nashville, visited a few hot spots and listened to some great music. I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I love Nashville. It's just a fun place to be.

The architecture downtown gives hints of the city's past.

But there's a mix of old and new woven throughout the ten blocks of Broadway that feed the heart of downtown. Like the old feed store across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe. Even the signs on the various honky tonks and stores are a mixture of old and new. Dingy and bright. As always, we spent a little time window shopping before dinner, laughing at hokey souvenirs and soaking up the atmosphere that oozes shades of the city's country music legends from the 50's, 60's and 70's. A walk on Broadway always leaves me with the urge to buy bright red cowboy boots, and one of these days I'm going to do just that.

One of the things I like best though, are the musicians and bands that fill the bars with their songs and dreams of making it big. The big glass windows and open doors on most of the places allow the tunes to spill out into the street and give you a rear view glimpse of those dreamers. Some are twangy. Some like to rock. And others are kind of bluesy.

The most interesting to me though are the ones who don't have a paying gig, other than collecting tips in the street. They dot the street at all times of the day and night, sitting inside the doorways of empty storefronts and along the curbs. Some appear to be homeless, like the dirty couple playing a guitar, spoons and a tambourine taped to a tapping shoe. I would have taken their picture, but the angry looking man with the tattoos on his face who was sitting next to them was somewhat intimidating. I could have studied them and photographed them all night long. What leads people to that kind of life, I wonder.

Our favorite band during this trip was the house band at BB King's Blue House. They were fantastic. Hubby and I sat there for a long time, eating dinner and listening to them play. We jammed and clapped and reluctantly called it an evening when Teen Angel texted us a message about her concert ending.

The drive home ended about 1am, and we were all tired the next day, but it was a good time in the middle of the week. I don't want to do it often on a school night, but it was a fun way to break up the week. And the walk downtown gave me the idea for a hook for a song chorus. Now all I need to do is write the rest of the lyrics. Nashville makes everyone want to be a star.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Among Hula's Guilty Pleasures

Kid Rock.

Despite all of his whiskey lovin' and boobie bar hoppin' ways, I loves me some Kid Rock. I find his music to be surprisingly insightful and appealing in a rather bawdy and unrefined way. But then again, I've always had a weakness for bad boys.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Butterflies are self propelled flowers."-R.H. Heinlein

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. ~Carl Sagan

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~Maya Angelou

We must remain as close to the flowers, the grass, and the butterflies as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are. We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them. It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it. Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Through The Lens

My daughter wonders why I’m so slow when taking her senior pictures. Until she is a mother she will never understand how long it takes to absorb the beauty and complexity of a creature you have birthed and raised and the bravery it takes to set that creature free as that time nears.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Watch Your Step

The Hula-gen’s are backdoor people. We use the backdoor to go in and out of our house all day long. Sometimes we use the patio doors, but we rarely use the front door. In fact, when the doorbell rings we give each other that, “What’s that?” look. Our backdoor is a busy place, and the steps are a snapshot of our days. If you pay close enough attention to that door and the steps leading to it, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how we spend our time.

You see, we don’t put away the shoes we use most. They sit on the steps in a neat little fashion, ready to go whenever we are. We never wear shoes inside the house. We just like them to be ready when we are. I’d like to say this has never resulted in me tripping over them and stumbling down the steps, but that would be a lie, and mama says to never tell a lie ‘cause it’ll bite you in the arse. In fact, it’s a dadgum miracle I haven’t broken a bone while dashing down those steps. However, we like our shoes there, and there they shall stay. In fact, in a couple of months some snow boots will likely join them. Bah humbug.

1. My slip-on yard shoes for walking the dog in wet weather. Bought for $3 at a clearance sale at New York and Company. They are ugly as homemade sin but perfect for navigating wet grass.

2. Hubby’s flip flops. Used for everything but yard work in the summer. I make him put on real shoes for mowing because the father of a friend of mine once cut off his toe mowing in flip flops, and they had to dig around in the grass to find the toe. I do not have a strong enough stomach to search the grass for a toe. Did you know they even made flip flops in a size 13?

3. My #2 pair of running shoes. The #1 pair stays in my locker at work because I do most of my running at lunch time. The #2 pair was a little less expensive than the #1 pair, but I still could have adopted a Russian orphan for the price of those stinkin’ shoes. And trust me, they do stink. (See previous post.)

4. Hubby’s tennis shoes. Used for yard work and knocking around town. Some strange lady at a hamburger joint recently asked him if she could use them for skis. Rude!

5. Teen Angel’s Rollerblades. She skates most evenings when the weather is nice.

6. Teen Angel’s Crocs. These are for traipsing around the yard in wet weather. I’ve been known to steal them when my yard shoes have gone missing.

7. Teen Angel’s black flip-flops. For traipsing around the yard in dry, warm weather. She obviously cares nothing about supporting her arches. Ah, youth.

8. Teen Angel’s white flip flops. Because she likes to be color coordinated even when she’s just goofing around the yard. Ah, female youth.

9. My black flip flops. Used in dry warm weather for just about everything. These have arch support because my feet are old.

If you ever come to our house, don't bother with the front door. Come in through the garage. Just watch your step. I don't really have a strong enough stomach for broken bones either. That whole bone sticking through the skin thing really grosses me out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Word of the Day-"Frantic"

Main Entry: fran•tic

Pronunciation: \ˈfran-tik\

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English frenetik, frantik — more at FRENETIC

Date: 14th century
a archaic : mentally deranged
b : emotionally out of control

: marked by fast and nervous, disordered, or anxiety-driven activity
— fran•ti•cal•ly\-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
— fran•tic•ness\-tik-nəs\ noun

Used in a sentence: "As Hula undressed at the gynecologist's office, she suddenly realized that the old tennis shoes she had haphazardly thrown on that morning made her feet stink to high heaven, and she frantically began trying to wash her feet with paper towels and antiseptic hand soap in the tiny sink before the nurse came back into the room."

*Here's hoping THAT'S not on some kind of security tape.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is it me or are the days getting shorter?

It feels like ages since I've actually written anything here. I've posted a few pictures and a video or two but my writing time and blog reading has been slim in recent days. I feel like we haven't really visited with each other in a while.

Last week was crazy busy. I had the busiest work week I've had since the ice storm. There were receptions for dignitaries to plan, preparations for a groundbreaking ceremony involving the governor and a two day blood drive. Not to mention a wild day at the office with everybody in a ten mile radius trying to pay their electric bill before the holiday. Nobody wants their electricity cut off during a barbecuing holiday. Then there was the screw up in Papa T.'s medication order, a doctor's appointment and a funeral for a beloved uncle in the midst of everything. I tried my best to pace myself, but there was no getting around the fact that there was much that HAD to be done and a short amount of time to do it. I feel as if my wheels are tied on by rubber bands and one's about to snap. Lord help us, if the wheel comes off. I'm not braggin', but I'm the only Hula-gen on Hubby's side of the family worth a flip in a disaster, and I don't have the energy to play Scarlett to everyone's Prissy. Let's just pray that all stays calm in the near future.

The month ahead will likely fly as it's already shaping up to be full. Teen Angel has midterms (already!), we're taking her and a friend to a Nickelback concert in Nashville, I have a bridal shoot, a wedding shoot and I need to work on Teen Angel's senior pictures. I think we may take a few when we're in Nashville next week. Maybe some with her guitar in front of Tootsies. How fun would that be? In between, there are doctor's appointments for Mama J. and Papa T. and followups for Mama who had thirty stitches on her face when some precancerous skin was removed, and she's had the dental work from hell this summer. Nothing like losing 35 pounds 'cause you can't eat.

September will likely fly, but hopefully the weeks won't fly as fast as this past one did. We need some time to breathe deeply and plan. Plan for the holidays, Teen Angel's college applications and some travel next year. Psst. I think the Hula-gen's are going to New York in the spring. NEW FREAKIN' YORK!!!! More on that soon, but for now lovelies, I must focus on the immediate and as Jimmy B. says, "Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on." Whew. Could someone bring me a margarita?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Come Monday

I want a do over. A do over for June, July and August. The summer has gone too fast. Faster than usual. Yes, it was a scorcher, and the autumn lovers are clamoring for cooler weather. The evenings are already starting to change here, and the daylight sunshine has a slightly different cast if you look closely. Summer is almost over, and I can't believe it's gone.

No matter how hard I try to slow things down, the days are just spinning too fast right now. I know that one day soon I will look up and Teen Angel will be away at college, and Mama J. and Papa T. will be gone and our days will be slower. But right now the days are slipping by at a pace that's faster than I like. If I can't get a do over, I shall simply hang on and savor the moments as best I can.

I hope your last summer holiday is a good one. That it's filled with great fun, good friends and family and whatever music pleases your ears. This summer ode will be on my playlist this weekend, and I shall toast the sunshine and another summer well lived.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Photo Friday Photography Challenge-"Round"

From a charity softball tournament I helped to organize back in June, when it was hotter than Guam around these parts. My team still hasn't forgiven me for picking black t-shirts for their uniform.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On Hula's iPod This Week

My iPod is a big ol' mess. It has everything from metal to blues to old gospel recordings by Elvis. I put it on shuffle each day on my way to and from work, and I never know what's going to pop up. Sometimes The Rolling Stones follow CeCe Wynans. Amy Winehouse sits next to ABBA, and once in a while, Jerry Lee Lewis gets a little Middle Aged Crazy on there. It's a real potpurri of stuff, and I like it all, fairly loud.

My favorite artist to shuffle up so far this week is Maura O'Connell, an Irish folk singer based in Nashville, who puts a bluesy contemporary twist on folk. I first discovered her by stumbling onto one of her CD's in Sissy's stuff that we sorted through after Sissy's death. I love Maura. And let's just say that if we sang this kind of music at church, I'd never be still on Sunday mornin's.