Monday, January 31, 2011

No Clock, No Worries, No Post

A vacation day, a new lens and an open road.

I'm practicing retirement today.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Out Back

Winter may be kicking us around, but there are still signs of life in nature. If you look closely.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Littlest Cowboy

I’m rather happy that True Grit got nominated for several Academy Awards. I thought it was a great movie, and I truly enjoyed it even though I’m not a huge fan of westerns like Hubby is. I think the soundtrack contains one of the best versions of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms that I’ve ever heard.

Even Hubby, who is a dyed in the wool John Wayne devotee who didn’t believe a remake could touch the original, really liked the new version of the movie. In fact, we’ve chatted it up quite a bit since we saw it at the theater a few weeks ago. Where as chatting it up includes laughing about one of the funnier moments from Teen Angel’s early years.

When she was about four years old, we were shopping in a mall just outside of Louisville, Kentucky. Hubby was watching Teen Angel romp and snort around the little playground inside the mall while I was doing my best to buy out JC Penney’s clearance rack. The playground was rather crowded. Toddlers were clamoring around and playing with each other while a group of parents watched closely. Always one to make a playground friend, Teen Angel was doing her best to interact with the other children. They were playing some kind of game that involved chasing each other. In her usual dramatic fashion, Teen Angel climbed to the top of the ladder on the slide, waved her imaginary sword and in the loudest voice she could muster uttered that famous John Wayne line from True Grit that she had apparently heard on one too many occasions at home, “Prepare to die, you sons of B*****s!” Which brought the whole playground to a quiet halt with plenty of glares from the other parents. And with his pride in shambles, Hubby quietly picked her up and decided it was time for a food court break. Or a restroom break. Or any kind of break from the playground games. In fact, they came looking for me soon afterward to find out if I was done.

And that, my friends, is why the Hula-gen’s can never go back to the Elizabethtown Mall. Well, that and the famous Who Farted incident, but I don’t know if you’re ready for that post, yet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Like 'Em

While traipsing around the woods behind my house this past weekend with the macro lens, I stumbled across the most interesting little plants. I say stumbled because I literally tripped on a vine and grabbed a branch to keep it from whacking me in the head. The branch was attached to a tree that was covered in lichens, and I thought visually they were very intriguing.

Which prompted me to read up on them a little. And that prompted me to share my new found information with you. Because that’s what bloggers do, they share. And share some more. Until they’ve over-shared. So here you go, ten things you may or may not know about lichens.

1. They come in many colors. Most of the yellow ones are poisonous.

2. The form of a lichen is determined by the genetic material of its fungal partner. Sounds a lot like marriage to me.

3. Some lichens are gelatinous. To which I say, “Eww”.

4. Most are asexual. Calm down, Sean Hannity, they don’t want to get married.

5. That makes me wonder what I’m looking at here.

6. Lichens are often the first to settle in places without soil, making up the sole vegetation in some extreme environments such as high mountain elevations. Some survive in deserts and others on frozen soil of the Arctic.

7. The European Science Agency has discovered that lichens can survive unprotected in space.

8. There is an ongoing lichen growth problem on Mount Rushmore that requires the employment of mountain climbers to clean the monument. Does that mean somebody regularly picks Thomas Jefferson’s nose?

9. Different kinds of lichens are sometimes eaten. In northern Europe they’ve been cooked as a bread, porridge, pudding, soup, or salad. Northern peoples in North America and Siberia traditionally eat the partially digested Reindeer Lichen after they remove it from the pouch of caribou or reindeer that have been killed. I don’t want to eat anything found in an animal’s pouch.

10. The hair on these lichens makes me laugh like a middle schooler.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On It's Way!

Hooray! Hooray! It’s on its way.
The lens I’ve saved for should be here Friday.
A year of scraping and saving my loot,
Twelve months of waiting. Rooty, toot, toot!

Daily, I wait by the window with glee,
In hopes the UPS man will come to see me.
He should show up this week in the big brown truck
With a gold Nikon box that costs lots of bucks.

I did without stuff for a whole dadgum year
To save for the lens that makes me cheer.
The 70-200 with a cool f-stop
That sucks in the light and makes pictures pop.

Oh, the things I will shoot, the places I will go,
The pictures I’ll take in sun, fall and snow.
Sunsets and flowers and birds and bees,
Portraits and landscapes, maybe even cheese!

I’ll shoot the world, or at least my backyard,
And make lots of prints and nice greeting cards.
I’ll shoot weddings and seniors and a few wee tykes,
And through the hills and woods I’ll take nature hikes.

I must take good care of this nice piece of glass,
I cannot trip with my camera and bust my yass.
I must treat it with love and lots of good care
‘Cause I won’t get another unless I sell my hair.

It’s a treat for sure, and I cannot wait,
Hurry up Mr. Mailman, drive across those states!
Look for my house. It’s the one with brick and red,
And a Hula on the porch standing on her head.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

iheart Faces Photography Challenge-"Innocent Wonder"

I call this one, "Hanging on to Every Word". And I can't decide which I like best, those big blue eyes or those cute little fingers.

For the other entries, you can hop over to here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Photo Friday Challenge-"Trees"

I never, never, ever center anything in a photo. Well, almost never. This was one of those times. This photo always makes me think it should be made into one of those posters with inspirational sayings, like something profound about being different from other folks or standing tall in the face of adversity. All I know is that it was dadgum cold the day I took it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You didn't hear it from me, but.....

It snowed here again today. Just an inch or so. But in this part of the country that’s enough to start the looting of bread and milk at the grocery store in a manner fitting Sherman’s army. Fortunately, we’re not big milk drinkers in our house and I bought three loaves of wheat berry bread last Friday for Hubby’s poker night sandwiches with the boys, so the Hula-gen’s should survive this little winter blast just fine. AND get plenty of fiber.

My distaste for winter weather is well documented on these pages, so I shall refrain from typing anything that makes my brothers and sisters in the north roll their eyes. Nothin’ makes a Yankee more annoyed than someone south of Indiana whining about a few centimeters of snow. Sorry, we have a weak constitution when it comes to freezing weather and snow. Now a good old fashioned tornado? That’s something we can sink our three teeth into.

I have been very consistent in my running in the last few weeks, so I really wanted to run today. All morning I watched the snow fall and dreaded the idea of running in the cold, wet weather. In between all of the phone calls and memos my head was all, “Run, skip it. Run, skip it.” I finally decided I should just suck it up and give it a whirl. I figured if it was really horrible I’d circle a few blocks and head back to work. By the time I reached the locker room that voice in my head was, “Skip it, skip it, SKIP IT!” And finally, a big, “Are you CRAZY?” That voice in my head is a noisy wench. And lazy, too. I thought the best way to shut her up would be to layer up and then just hit the door in a run before I had time to weenie out of running. I threw on two layers of running pants, two shirts, my gloves and then tucked my hair into a hat and ear warmers to keep my head dry. I was wishing I had my trail shoes ‘cause as Lt. Dan says, you need to keep your feet dry and don’t get killed, which oddly enough is good advice for running on the streets of this town amid soggy weather and a host of stupid drivers.

I burst out the door and hit the street, and tried to remind myself that folks in Minnesota run in this kind of weather every day. Except I’m not from Minnesota. It was cold. And windy. And wet. I concentrated on staying focused on my pace and not the weather. I also kept looking down to keep from splashing into a puddle because of the whole wet feet thing. The tap, tap of my feet sounded in my head as I found a comfortable pace and put block after block behind me. I turned a corner and the wind hit me in the face at full force. I looked at my shirt and saw that it was speckled with snow. I kept moving and told myself to soak it in. Savor the moment, Hula. Enjoy the miracle that is snow. Isn’t it beautiful? But my head was whining, “But it’s COLD.” And then something clicked. I’m not sure why or how, but the voice in my head shut up, and I noticed how quiet my surroundings were. The traffic was less than usual, and the streets had a nice silence to them. The snow had covered enough ground and scattered little sparkles along fence tops and lawn decorations to make it really pretty. Instead of looking at the snow, I really began to SEE it. And enjoy it as it drifted from the sky and onto my shoulders. I rounded Fountain Avenue, and the chimes on the Methodist Church began ringing a hymn to mark the stroke of noon. And it was one of those moments when I felt very in touch with nature and very spiritual. And I didn’t notice the cold anymore. In fact, I felt inspired to run well. I did the four miles I had time for within my lunch hour and finished quicker than usual. It was a good run. A beautiful run. I didn’t mind all of the stares I got from drivers thinking I was crazy. And I really didn’t mind the snow. I truly enjoyed it.

Just don’t tell anyone. A Hula Girl has a reputation to uphold.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Word of the Day-"Sloth"

Pronunciation: noun \ˈslȯth, ˈsläth also ˈslōth\
Origin: Middle English slouthe, from slow slow
First Known Use: 12th century

Synonyms: idleness, indolence, inertia, shiftlessness, laziness
Antonyms: drive, industriousness, industry

Definitions: 1. a: disinclination to action or labor: indolence b: spiritual apathy and inactivity “the deadly sin of sloth”

2: any of various slow-moving arboreal edentate mammals (genera Bradypus and Choloepus) that inhabit tropical forests of South and Central America, hang from the branches back downward, and feed on leaves, shoots, and fruits — compare three-toed sloth, two-toed sloth

Used in a sentence: “Hula THOUGHT about running five miles this afternoon and she THOUGHT about taking some nature pictures, but what she DID was nap on the couch like a three toed sloth. And it was good.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

These Boots Were Made For Talkin'

And they're screamin' fun. For several years I've wanted a pair of red cowboy boots. Not loud, trashy red. Just a nice worn red that I can wear with jeans. After digging around in every local western store and Tractor Supply, I finally had to order them off the internet. They arrived last week, and I love 'em.

Let the sassiness begin!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today's Headlines-In My Own Words

Go Gabby! We're all rootin' for you!

You hit all of the right notes last night, Mr. President. Now, take that spirit back to Washington and put it to work on the budget. We've got an economy to fix.

Ted, we're still rootin' for you, too. And those of us who have dealt with a loved ones' addictions are relieved that you took the step we suspected all along that you needed to take. You just couldn't let it go, could you Sarah? I'd like reimbursement please for the shoe I broke when throwing it at my TV yesterday. You didn't cause Ms. Gifford's shooting, but I'll tell you like my mama told me, sometimes you just need to sit down and shut up.

Speaking of sitting down and shutting up...Snookie, your fifteen minutes is up.

Did you think we actually believed you when you lied about the Botox?

And Britney honey, you might want to get a new do before the new album is released. We're rootin' for you, too, but girlfriend needs to get that hair UNDER CONTROL.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hula-gen Family Fun Fact #82

Hula sometimes loves an icy cold soda early in the morning. As she's aged and her various body parts have started moving south she has switched from the fully load stuff to Coke Zero and only imbibes twice a week. But it's a relationship that started very early.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taking Care of Old Folks

If you care for the elderly or someone with a disability or chronic illness, you know how important good resources and a support system are. Sometimes, it’s just difficult, and you need a little help. Part of the work in taking care of someone is acknowledging when you need help and being humble enough to accept it. It took us a little while to get humble, but when we did we were glad. I want to share a couple of resources with you today that have been a God’s send for us in our efforts to take care of Papa T. They might be of help to you too one day.

For all practical purposes, Papa T. is blind. Every now and then he sees a little light or the fuzzy outline of someone or something, but on most days he sees nothing. It’s something he was told as a young man would eventually happen to him, so he expected it at some point in his life. In fact, he planned his life around it. It’s why he chose teaching and educational administration as a profession instead of staying on the family farm where he would have been very content. He knew he needed a career that would position him for a good pension and allow him to continue working as his eyesight diminished. He’s a smart man. But expecting it didn’t make it easy when it finally happened. It’s been very difficult for him to accept as it permeates his entire life.

One of the things we did when his vision went really south a couple of years ago was to contact the local office of the Kentucky Bureau for the Blind. He was hesitant to do it because he felt like he was accepting some kind of state aid, but we convinced him that after paying taxes for sixty years, he was certainly entitled to take advantage of this one service. So he did, and they were wonderful. They came to his house and provided him with two different kinds of canes and showed him how to use them. They also hooked him up with a watch that speaks the time every half hour and other utensils that helped him to sign documents and papers without scrawling across the entire page. They would have taught him Braille, but he resisted that, much to our dismay. Oh well, you pick your battles.

Our goal was for him to be able to function around the house on his own, and the employees of the Bureau were very patient and respectful in teaching him ways to get around. REALLY patient, if you know what I mean. They also set us up with a service that allows Papa T. to borrow a special CD player that allows him to listen to books on tape. They have a lending service that mails him books and magazines every couple of weeks, and he returns them when he’s finished. It’s a library for the blind, and they have a gazillion titles to choose from. Right now he’s working on some Louis Lamore westerns, ‘cause he LOVES Louis Lamore. The books on tape and listening to the University of Kentucky football and basketball games on the radio are his two favorite pastimes, so this service allows him to continue the reading he so enjoyed before he lost his vision. We had to get him some headphones though ‘cause he was driving Mama J. crazy with the volume on his radio and CD player. She couldn’t care less about the Wildcats, so the headphones are a nice compromise.

He always enjoyed the newspaper, especially the sports pages, so Mama J.’s been reading it to him daily for months. She gets tired of reading it word for word, and his diminished hearing means she sometimes has to shout when reading aloud, so that didn’t always work well. Then we stumbled upon a better solution. The National Federation of the Blind has a service which allows you to dial a toll free number and choose any number of newspapers on tape from around the country to listen to. You can set up a favorites list, adjust the volume and listen to every paper in the nation if you like. Mama J. dials it up, gets it going, hands Papa T. the phone and then goes about her business without having to worry about shouting the latest high school basketball scores across the living room. It’s a sweet deal. In fact, sometimes she picks up the other phone and listens to the local newspaper with him so she doesn’t have to read it to herself. We LOVE this service, and it has enriched his life in a big way. Little things mean a lot when your world beings to shrink, ya’ know. I can’t say enough about this service. It’s free, and all you have to do is get your doctor to sign the appropriate form for you. They are also sending him a bible on tape soon.

A couple of other tidbits we’ve learned along the way that really don’t have anything to do with blindness are to have a good relationship with your local pharmacist and use school resources. Papa T.’s and Mama J.’s insurance requires them to order their medicine from one of those online pharmacy companies, which usually works okay, but every now and then there’s a glitch. We have a wonderful neighborhood pharmacist who is a great resource for information and a time or two has filled a mini prescription of medication that the online company screwed up and caused a delay in delivery. In fact, about four years ago, Papa T. went to Cincinnati for a four day trip without any of his medicine. At a loss, I reluctantly called the pharmacist at home on a Saturday night. Her husband called her on her cell phone at Wal-Mart where she was shopping, and she drove to the pharmacy and faxed his prescriptions to a Cincinnati Walgreens. He had his medicine in two hours. You don’t get service like that from a chain. We sent her flowers.

Also, recently we started using flash cards with Papa T. He knows his memory is fading, but as he says, he’s going to fight like smell to keep it as long as he can and wanted some exercises for his mind. We went to the local educational store and bought a bunch of trivia cards for middle and high school students that cover history, science and the arts, and we drill him on those subjects daily. We try to do it in a fun way so that he enjoys it. There will come a day when they don’t work but for now they’re working well. Kind of like a lot of other things around here, but hey, you just gotta roll with the flow and try not to drown in the big waves.

Oh, and don’t forget that old folks love little folks. It’s good for their soul, even if they can’t see them. The touch is enough.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

iheart Faces Photography Challenge-"Smiles"

For all of the other great entries, you can go here. I mean, where else can you click on that many smiling faces?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why I Love Ted Williams' Story

You had to have been under a rock to miss Ted Williams' story this week. He's the homeless man who is getting a second chance at redemption thanks to a Columbus, Ohio news reporter who stopped and taped the golden radio voice Ted advertised on his cardboard sign beside a busy highway. After years of addictions and livings on the streets, he's getting job offers and has been reunited with his 90-year old mother. Their honest, touching interview on the Today Show this morning had me shedding tears. Happy, warm tears. I have soaked up every report of his progress this week and smiled every time I watched something about him.

I love his story, for the same reasons everyone else does. It's just a feel good story of a man who has big opportunities for the comeback of a lifetime thanks to the curiosity of a news reporter and the viral nature of the internet. But it's more than that. To me, his story is about hope. Despite all of Ted's run-ins with the law and his battle with addictions, he kept his hope for better days alive. And it paid off.

There's a quote by someone whose name I can't recall that goes, "Never destroy a man's hope. That may be all he has." I believe in that. After all, what are we without hope? It's what drives us to study years for cancer cures or to work at feeding children in starving nations. It pushes us to invent things that make life better. It propels us forward, day in and day out. I've never been without hope, so I can only imagine how defeating it must be to be without it. And I often think about it because of my sister-in-law's suicide.

Many times since her death, usually when I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep or in quiet moments around the house, I wonder what made her lose hope. I try to nail down that one thing that finally caused to her say enough. I run through the various aspects of the last few months of her life, even the final days, and wonder what caused her to stop believing there was a reason for her to go on. It's a dangerous mind game to play because it always leaves me feeling very hollow. And guilty. What could I have said that could have made it better? I'll never know.

Our words have such power, and maybe there was something I could have said or done to make her feel like sticking around. On the other hand, perhaps, there were things I said in the past that actually kept her from giving up previously. It's hard to know. What I do know is that our contact with people can be very powerful, whether we realize it or not, especially for people struggling with demons such as depression or drugs and alcohol. The reporter who stopped to hear Ted Williams' voice said he never imagined the way this story would spiral into a such a big deal and propel Williams into the opportunities that have come his way in recent days.

I suspect we all have contact with folks that result in good things we don't even realize. Wouldn't it be neat if we all took more chances on the Ted Williams' of the world? I wish him the best and hope to hear in a few years that he's still doing well in the world of broadcasting and making his mama proud. I love Ted's story becauses it gives ME hope that good things can happen in a heartbeat, if we expect them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hula-gen Family Fun Fact #329

In 1976, Hula joined the rest of the Franklin Lancer Band in numerous parades in celebrating this nation's bicentennial with homemade knickers, white stockings and tri-corner hats.

Because Hula's legs were too scrawny for the sexy twirler boots. Oh, and she couldn't twirl.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Have you ever stood on top of a dam?

In 32 degree weather?

And then turned right around and saw two, count 'em TWO bald eagles?

Sometimes, I think I have the best job in the world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Playing Around

The local photography club theme this month was isolation. Fine by me. January makes me want to hibernate. Oh, and am I the only one who has to fight the urge to explore rundown buildings? The more delapidated it is, the more curious I am. Mama says I'm just nosey.

Monday, January 3, 2011

And We're Off!

2011 is underway. Honestly, I can’t believe 2010 is over, but then, I’m still reeling over my *(%#th birthday, and that was six months ago. Sometimes, I have to stop and think about what day of the month it is, and then I put on my best old fart voice and declare, “Whew, where does the time go?” Time flies faster than I can move these days, and frankly, it’s a little disturbing. When your life is more than half over (unless I live to be 93), you start feeling some pressure to get some stuff done. I want to see the Eiffel Tower while I’m still able to go the top. I don’t want to be the old women sitting on the bench below, holding everyone else’s purse while they all ride to the top. I also don’t want to be the one carrying the spare roll of toilet paper in my purse, but that’s a post for another day. A new year is before me, and I feel obligated to declare some goals. Not resolutions, because those are too difficult to keep. Just some goals to work toward.

For instance, I’d like to improve my photography. This means getting some help from various photography friends on lighting and exposure. This means you, Glen H. I would also like for it to include an 18-70mm f2.8 lens, but that means doing a few paying gigs, which is fine by me. The shoots I did this past year were great fun. I just don’t want them to intrude too much on my summer pool time.

Speaking of pool time, the man cave/pool project is nearly finished. It appears we will be hosting some 3,791 people who have invited themselves to our house this summer. We don’t mind. That’s what we built this entertainment area for. I just need to start saving now for all those hamburgers I’m going to be grilling this summer. Here’s hoping we don’t scare the neighbors into thinking we’re even worse than the party hounds who live up the street.

I would like to get more serious about running longer distances. I have dabbled with it irregularly in the past couple of months, but as mama says, it’s time to quit fiddle fartin’ around and just do it. I’d like for this to be another half marathon year, but we’ll see. Right now, I’m struggling to find time on the weekends for long runs. I’m going to have to do some juggling to make it work, but I’m really going to try. I’ve had three really good consecutive running days, so I’m optimistic today. I don’t know why I’m so much better in really cold weather than warm weather. Perhaps, because I just want to get it over and get back inside.

It will be a year of special moments. Teen Angel graduates from high school in the spring and then there’s college. The heart of this mother is feeling the squeeze of Teen Angel’s independence right now, but overall I’m very proud of the young woman she has become, and I look forward to enjoying the moment she tosses that cap into the air. The week prior to graduation we are traveling to New York City for her senior trip. None of us has ever been, so we’re very excited. I’m not sure New York is ready for the Hula-gen’s, but we’re going to find out. I can’t wait to take pictures there! Naked Cowboy, get ready. Prepare to be worn out with photos of the big city about the end of May. I’d like to take Teen Angel to Europe this summer, but it just depends on the cost. It’s very iffy right now. I haven’t found a decent deal yet, but I’m still searching. We’ve never been to Europe, and it’s high time we went. Also, on New Year’s Eve next year, Hubby and I will leave for a short Caribbean cruise with my cousins. Thanks to daddy’s huge family, I have fourteen gazillion cousins, spread out around the United States. Even though we have an annual family reunion, we really don’t get to see each other much, so we’ve decided to cruise together, and we’re really looking forward to it. We got a really great deal by booking more than a year in advance.

In the meantime, we shall work to stay healthy, try to be kind to each other and to others and work hard to take care of those around us. As the folks at the Army used to say, we want to be all we can be. And hopefully, there won’t be any major injuries along the way. It looks to be an interesting year, and I am hopeful we will use it wisely. Here’s a toast to health, prosperity and maybe a half marathon. Oh, and to the three painters I passed on the sidewalk while running today…I could HEAR you. And even though I’ve always found it rude for men to comment aloud about a woman on the street, the fact that you thought I had a nice boo-tay’ did get my year off to a good start. Just don’t let it happen again. Unless of course I’m feeling a little old.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

iheart Faces Photography Challenge-"Favorite Face of 2010"

For the other entries you can hop right on over to here. And enjoy.