Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Of Cats and Cads

The Japanese men's gymnastics team is a bunch of whiners, and I wish Great Britain had won the silver!  AND based on their removal of the YouTube video I linked to yesterday, it's obvious the Olympic Committee fails to realize the advantages of using social media to its fullest in marketing the games.

Now that I have that off my chest:  Look who's decided he wants to be a Hula-gen.

A few weeks ago he was scrawny and anti-social and wouldn't come near us.  Now?  He's decided he wants to stay.  Not only does he lay on top of and under my work car, he can often be found hanging out in the garage.  He will also nuzzle us and beg for his dinner.  He LOVES to have his head rubbed, and he's no longer scared of the camera.  Thank goodness, 'cause it's kind of hard to live in this house unless you're used to having your picture taken.

It's amazing what worm medicine, some food and a whole lot of lovin' will do. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

I woke up this morning and suddenly remembered how tired I get during the Olympics.  Tired because I can't get to bed at a decent hour during the games.  There are essentially two kinds of folks, those who don't care much about the games and those who watch EVERY.  LAST.  MINUTE. OF. EVERY. SPORT.  I fall into the latter category.  I will stay up every night until the primetime coverage ends, even if the broadcast is about table tennis and field hockey.  I officially took control of the TV remote when Hubby nodded off in the recliner yesterday afternoon, and I won't give it up until the games are over.  In fact, I'm carrying it in my pocket right now.  Not really, but I thought about it.  He doesn't give up the remote without a fight.  And then when he does, he whimpers.  He will spend the next two weeks sighing and moaning about my extreme Olympic viewing.  Although, I noticed last night he wandered back into the living room in time to catch the men's 400 swimming relay final and Gabby's floor performance.  Psst.  He loves Gabby.  AND Saturday, while we were in the pool, he turned the TV in the Man Cave to NBC and kept sticking his head in there to watch the women's beach volleyball matches.  However, his interest in that has more to do with the outfits than it does the actual sport of volleyball.  Our deal?  I don't make cracks about his volleyball watching, and he doesn't say anything my swooning over the male swimmers.  And divers.  And gymnasts.   Michael Phelps AND Ryan Lochte?  Ladies, it's a banner year at the aquatics center.

It's kind of ironic since I hate to watch televised sports (except ice skating) at any time other than the Olympics.  In fact, one of the reasons I married Hubby is because he watches no organized sporting activities on television.  In college, I dated a guy who spent his entire weekend watching football and baseball games.  He didn't come up for air until Monday morning.  And while that was just one of the many issues in our doomed relationship, I swore I would never date another man who scheduled his meals and bathing times around halftime shows.

The Olympics are different from regular sporting activities.  So many athletes from all over the world are gathered in one place to compete.  Regardless of their backgrounds, the political issues at home or their religious beliefs, they compete in a spirited but peaceful way.  Granted, some of them want to win because it means financial support for their family back home or that they won't be shamed into obscurity by their country's leadership.  They come together for two weeks of digging deep to prove to themselves and others who is ultimately the strongest, fastest or fittest in their field and for the most part, it is done without any fighting.  It gives me a bit of hope for world peace. 

It also makes me think I can be an athlete.  Today, when I was running at lunch, I felt like I could go farther and go faster than I normally do.  When I see athletes train intensively for four years and push themselves beyond believable limits, through pain and injury, to win, it makes me think I can win, too.  I forget I'm a middle aged woman with a weak ankle and poor mental stamina.  They make me want to be better.  They make be believe I can be better.

Most of all, I love the drama.  You see, with normal sports coverage, it's generally about the act of the sport itself.   With the Olympics, the networks spend months preparing background stories about the athletes, and when the games finally take place, we get to hear about the struggles they've had getting to this point.  We hear about the financial issues and extreme sacrifices that the athletes' parents make in order for their kid to chase this dream.  We learn about health scares and family tragedies.  And the dream chasing plays out in front of us in the course of two and a half weeks.  World champions fail to make the cut by hundredths of a point, past medal winners miss the podium by a few inches and injuries take their toll.   But underdogs come from behind, dark horses surprise us and athletes from impoverished countries who train with practically nothing, including shoes, soar to the finish line.  It's a wonderful soap opera that unfolds before our eyes, night after night.  I love the athletes who compete, knowing they'll never win but giving it their all anyway.  I adore the runners from third world countries who would never admit to eating better at the Olympic village than they've probably eaten in months or years.  And I just love watching someone's dreams come true.  I love the laughter.  I love the tears.  I jump up and down off the couch when Team USA wins, I hold my breath until the swimmers touch the wall and I cry with the mamas in the stands who can barely watch their grown children compete because the stress is just too much.  It's the best reality TV ever. 

Which brings me to this video.  If you missed it last night, check it out.  This is exactly how I would be if my child were competing at the Olympics.  Watch for dad's reaction at the very end.  It's priceless. 

PS....news outlets, please STOP putting the results at the top of your homepages hours before I get to see the tape delayed events.  You're spoiling the surprises and I'm already tired of running around with my fingers in my ears, singing la la la la or trying to quickly scroll to the bottom of the page before I inadvertently find out something I don't want to know yet.   

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Okay, I More Zoo Picture

This is exactly what I wanted to do, too after about two hours at the Nashville Zoo in 105 degree weather Tuesday.  I was afraid climbing into the flamingo pond and dunking my head in the fountain might not go unnoticed though.  And there I would be, adding the zoo, to the list of places I've been asked to leave.

Friday, July 27, 2012


The Nashville Zoo has a new baby giraffe.  All together now, "Aaaah".

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!

Our trip to Nashville was fun, fun, FUN.  We sweated our fannies off at the Nashville Zoo Tuesday morning in 105 degree weather.  The only thing hotter than us was the elephant's butts.  It was enjoyable though, and Hubby was a good sport about waiting at every exhibit for me to take 1,621 pictures.  Then it was off to the hotel to shower and change before dinner and the concert because we had sweat right through our underwear, and frankly, that's no way to see a show.  We figured the folks in Section 106, Row L, seats 3 and 6 would appreciate it if we cleaned up before rolling into the arena. 

Dinner was good.  I ate my weight in crab legs, and then we scampered on down to the arena just in time.  The concert was outstanding.  Sometimes those older performers can be a little long in the tooth, but not these guys.  Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart may be in their 60's but they still got it.  Their voices were strong.  Stevie was looking exceptionally good for 64, and Rod still knows how to work his fanny.  Hand to God, he moves as much and as well as he did when I saw him live in 1987.  In fact, the only difference in his approach to his shows these days are the big pictures of his grandbabies that he displayed on the big screens.  Yes, the man who brought us Do Ya' Think I'm Sexy in the 70's is now bragging about his grandkids.  And we all oohed and ahed because most folks in the audience had grandbabies, too.  Too funny.  By the way, his encore was a cheeky version of Do Ya' Think I'm Sexy while wearing a cowboy hat and a somewhat unbuttoned shirt.  If I die tomorrow, I'm ready to go, ladies.

The arena was packed with middle aged women like me who think he's still hot (see, it's not just me), and the whole evening was a trip down memory lane.  He sang all of his very best songs with an acoustic section smack dab in the middle of the concert that featured a few members of the Nashville Symphony.  Have I Told You Lately That I Love You and others.   Lovely, just lovely.  Stevie's encore?  Landside.  Lovely, just lovely.

We hit Broadway after the show, and piddled around a little downtown.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I just love Nashville.  It has the best people watching after dark when all of the wannabe stars and the homeless singers hit the streets, singing and playing on street corners.  And there are more tight skirts worn with boots than Little Jimmy Dickens has spangles.  It's why we call it Nashvegas.

We did find a nice hotel room at a decent price, for the two of you who were wondering.  I highly recommend the Millennium Maxwell House.  It was very clean and less than half the price of the Holiday Inn Express.  It was also quite a bit cheaper than the few downtown hotels that still had available rooms.  The Maxwell House is about a five minute drive from downtown, and they had a free shuttle to the downtown area, so that saved us cab fare, except on the way home after the show since we stayed downtown waaay past the last shuttle ride back to the hotel.  The Maxwell House is connected to the coffee by the same name, and it has a great history, so check it out sometime when you're Googling around on the internet.  I won't use up space here for that.  I'll just tell you like your mama did when you were a kid and asked her what something was and she said, "Go look it up!"  Seriously, go look it up.  It's kinda' fun.  Oh, and the hotel has a life sized statue of Jack Daniels in its bar (there is a connection between him and the hotel).  Did you know he was only 5'2"?  There's your trivia tidbit for the day.

Now it's back to work and back to getting stuff done around the house.  Mount Washmore was waiting on me when I got home, and the garden was full of tomatoes that needed picking.  Our tomatoes are rolling in.  So much so, that it's a little hard to keep up with them.  It's been so hot, and the tomatoes have been so plentiful that my diet lately has pretty much consisted of very few meals.  Instead, I just wander into the kitchen when I get hungry and eat a bowl of cherry tomatoes.  (We picked about five gallons of them this past week.)  I do that until my colon screams, "Enough FIBER already!"

This weekend will be an opportunity to relax a little, catch up on some pool time and edit some wedding pictures.  Here's hoping it cools down a little, although cooling down means the upper 90's at this point, and that's not really cool.  That's just less hot.  I'm not whining about the heat.  I promise.  Given the choice between garden tomatoes in 105 degree heat or a big heavy coat in 30 degree weather, I'll take the tomatoes and heat.  My colon might beg to differ.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The RoboWash

Given my love of demolition by neglect, I've been trying to keep my eyes open lately for things around me that are falling apart.  Things that perhaps I haven't noticed even though they were right under my nose.  While roaming around an old building the other day, I wandered into the adjacent alley and then onto a piece of property that used to be an old car wash.  Now, I run by this property frequently on my lunch time runs, but there's a lot of vegetation on the street side of the property, and I never realized what was behind those weeds and vines until I approached it from the back.  I couldn't have been happier to stumble on that sad old car wash.  I'm not sure what that says about me.  Technically, I was trespassing, but I just couldn't help getting a little closer.  And then a little more close.  I tried not to touch anything or stay very long, but I loved the RoboWash.  Is that weird?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rod Stewart - Sailing

Our annual summer concert tour is off, albeit a little later than usual.  Hubby and I are in Nashvegas where I am celebrating my birthday by indulging my 35 year crush on Rod Stewart. 
Photo Courtesty:  FanPop

And while I understand he's an acquired taste, he will forever reign as my first and longest running rock star crush.  Many years and many wrinkles later, the flame still burns as brightly as it did when I was in seventh grade.  And if I get hit by a bus any time soon, please make sure my peeps play the song below at my funeral.  And I'm not even kidding about that. 

By the time this posts, I should be waving my lighter in Bridgestone Arena.  Or is that a cell phone?  Do they even allow lighters in arenas anymore?  Where do I buy a lighter?  Am I showing my age?  Should I just be quiet now?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Flyin' By

I won't start off by saying how fast the weekend flew, but it surely did.  We spent Saturday afternoon in the pool, went out for dinner and then went to Teen Angel's roller derby bout.  Follow that with church on Sunday, a visit from my parents and some photo editing and poof!  The weekend has once again slipped from my fingertips.  As I floated around on a raft Saturday, trying not to dehydrate in the smothering heat, it occurred to me that summer is half over, and that makes me kind of sad.  A lot of folks around here have said they can't wait until this record hot weather breaks and fall rolls around.  I'm not one of those people.  While I don't exactly enjoy sweating through my underwear by 8am every day, I still prefer the heat to cold weather.  And I love the freedom and fun that summer brings.  She's like a red hot teenage romance:  fast, furious, fabulous and over before you know it.  And there I am every October, counting the days until I can go barefoot again.  What can I say?  My heart's in Barbados. 

The next few weeks will be fun though.  Hubby and I head to Nashville tomorrow for a concert and a little fun.  We plan to go by the zoo where, as Hubby says, he will look at animals and I will spend HOURS dragging a camera around taking pictures of anything that blinks.  In 100 heat, meaning we'll need to clean up a little before going to the show so, we decided at the last minute to spend the night which sent me into a three hour search online for a hotel room that didn't cost an arm and a leg.  Most everything was already booked, which meant a great Priceline deal at a four star hotel probably wasn't going to happen.  And the Holiday Inn Express got a little big for its britches and wanted $383 for a one night stay.  For that, I'd drive the two hours home after the show and skip club hopping on Broadway.  Who do they think they are at the Holiday Inn?  Their free hot breakfast isn't THAT good.  I finally snagged a room at $150 about five minutes from downtown that has  a free shuttle to and from the downtown area, which will save us cab fare in the long run, so it worked out okay, but not before I gave up way too much of my life to Hotwire, Hotels.com and VRBO.  By the way, if you want to pay $200 a night, you can snag a pretty swanky condo in downtown Nashville.  I did not want to pay $200.   

This Saturday we have tickets for the Crosby, Stills and Nash show at our local performing arts center, so we will hippie it up this weekend, and then in a couple of weeks, Teen Angel and I will head to Louisville to see Mumford and Sons.  And while I'm probably a little too old to be sayin' this, I'm just going to declare those guys the hottest thing in boy bands these days.  Oh, and I like their music.  They're the best thing to come out of Europe since cannoli. 

Somewhere in the midst of those activities, we still need to have a get together with certain family and friends that we haven't seen in a while, and by the time we work that in, Labor Day will be upon us and the leaves will start to fall off the trees.  The ones that aren't already dead from the heat and dropping now, anyway.  Summer.  She's a beautiful thing.  A beautiful fleeting thing that pushes me down the road at break neck speed every year and then dumps me beside the road in a heap, wondering what hit me.  I need more summer y'all.  At least three more months of it each year.  Or four.  No, maybe five.  Six?      

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm Gonna Need More Paper

My Bucket List keeps getting longer and longer.  After seeing this video, I'm officially adding "Traveling to Alaska or Northern Canada to Photograph the Northern Lights" to my List.  I think this is so cool.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Sunflowers: Part Deaux

I see some symmetry and starkness in this batch, which is a little unusual for me.  I normally don't like things to be very orderly or plain.  Much to my neat freak husband's dismay.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back to the Sunflowers

The blooms in my favorite sunflower fields aren't nearly as large or tall as they usually are, probably because we've had so little rain this summer.  Like much of the midwest, we are in somewhat of a drought.  And I don't know if it's because the blooms aren't so grand or if I was just looking for a different perspective this time, but when I was snapping photos Sunday, I seemed to be fixated on the ladybugs that were climbing all over those sunflower plants.  What can I say?  I love a good bug picture.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When do I Sign up for Social Security?

Today is my birthday.  I am 48 years old.  I'm  forcing myself to declare that to the blogging world so as to prepare myself for finally being able to accept my age by the time I turn fifty.  Which is not for another two years, I might add.  Accepting my age is not easy for me.  In fact, I'd like to ignore it all together.  The age part, not the birthday celebrations.  Alas, I know it's best that I accept it and roll with it, so I'm starting now since it will take the next 24 months to soak in that I am on my way to AARP membership.  Gulp.

But let's not focus on that, shall we?  Tomorrah's anotha day, Rhett.  Let's just talk about the fun stuff.  Like the surprise that awaited me this morning in the kitchen.  When I rolled out of bed at 5:30am, I found a sweet little box, with a card, a couple of cupcakes and a floor full of balloons, compliments of the sweetest daughter a mother could ever want. 

She knows how much I love a surprise, even a tiny one, and she did not disappoint.  She set it all up after she came in from work late last night, and I was snoozing just a few feet away in the adjacent bedroom.  Lucky for her, I sleep like the dead.  My favorite part?  Other than the upside down Red Velvet cupcakes?

And the stainless steel bracelet that has the Paris subway routes etched on it?   (Fitting don't you think, since my phone got mugged from me there?  Helloooooo, Gambetta Station. )

It was all of the handwritten messages on the balloons.  All I can say, is she knows me well.  Oh, and I failed to take a picture of the one that said, "fart" on it.  That girl knows how to make me laugh, she does.  Who has the best daughter ever?  Hula, that's who.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

They're Back

The sunflower fields near my house are in bloom again.  Their annual display of summer glory is in bloom.  They are not as plentiful nor as big and bold as they usually are. Likely because of the drought conditions we've had for most of the summer.  The flowers are shorter, smaller and more sparse than they've been in years past, but they still delight me to no end.  I'm not sure I can explain why.  And I'm not sure my friends and family truly understand why, but they humor me and go on about their business.  They treat it the same way I treated geometry in high school.  They don't try to understand the reasoning behind the facts.  They just accept them and roll with it. 

I started getting texts and Facebook messages from people recently, telling me that the flowers were blooming.  And a good thing, too.  They're a little early this year, just like everything else.  And I've been so distracted by bible school and paying photo gigs that I might not have realized it until they had begun to wilt, were it not for those people who care enough about me to make sure I knew.  Although, it's a bit like buying crack for a drug addict.  Enablers, that's what they are.  Sunflower enablers!  Ha!  God bless them, there are worse things to be.

I drove by those fields a week or so ago when I heard they were blooming, just to see for myself.  And since then I've thought about them almost every day.  And as exhausted as I was Sunday afternoon, and as behind as I was in household chores, I dropped everything for a half hour or so (okay, maybe an hour) to take a few pictures.  I was afraid they would start wilting before I had another chance to go there, and that would be unacceptable.  Simply.  Unacceptable.  This window of opportunity comes just once a year.

It's hard to explain how much joy I get from sitting on the ground in the middle of those blooms, snapping away and listening to the hum of all the bees buzzing around the pollen filled blooms.  Just me and the bees, and the occasional bird.  If I'm lucky, no one else shows up, and I can get lost in my solitude.  A good friend drove by Sunday and saw me out there.  She teased me via text about it, and I got a good chuckle out of it.  I supposed I could be a little embarrassed at my addiction, but I'm not.  Unless you travel to remote corners of the world, there aren't many places in your own backyard these days where you can hide in plain sight and enjoy God's handiwork without being bothered.  I don't think deep thoughts when I'm there.  I just absorb and create.  And renew my soul. 

When we were in Paris last year, we got to see some of Van Gogh's paintings, including one Sunflower painting.  As I stood there, looking at his work, I felt like I understood his fascination with them.  After all these years of seeing them in print and not giving them a second thought, I finally pondered what he was thinking when he painted those flowers.  Was he as fascinated by their form and brightness as I am?  Did they give him, a man torn by depression, the same kind of joy they give me?   Standing in the Orsay Museum, I wished I could see him in person and shout to him, "Dude, I get it!  I totally get it!" 

Pictures to come soon.   

Monday, July 16, 2012

Whistle While You Work

Do weekends get shorter when you get older?  Is that some kind of aging thing that old folks forget to tell you about?  It seems that every Monday I sit at the computer wondering how to write about how busy the weekend was.  In fact, I think I said that very thing last Monday.  And maybe the Monday before that.  It seems as if the world spins extra fast between Friday night and Sunday night.  It surely did this past weekend. 

I had a wedding shoot Saturday, so I went to the rehearsal Friday night.  That's always my chance to get the lay of the land and see what kind of obstacles are ahead the next day.  Churches are notoriously dark, which makes shooting during a ceremony difficult, especially once they do things like dim the lights and light candles.  Romantic it is.  But if you're not careful, you'll end up with a lot of blurry red photos.  I have a huge fear of blurry red photos.  HUGE. Gigantic.  Bigger than JLo's butt kind of fear. 
The rehearsal is also a chance to see the plans for the ceremony.  The key to getting all of the necessary wedding shots is to anticipate the next move so you can be in the right place at the right time.  Things can change rapidly when ring bearers don't go down the aisle, preachers give errant instructions to guests and relatives sit in the wrong pew.  You have to be on your toes, which is why I wear flats and pants and know where all of the side doors are.  The potential for disaster lingers from the beginning of the ceremony to the end, so the way for me to stay calm is to do all of my planning on the front end.  I'm glad to say it all went well.  The couple was just adorable, and since I know them personally, it was a real pleasure and privilege to be a part of their big day.  And even though it rained outside during the ceremony, there was a big beautiful rainbow that appeared shortly after they threw open the church doors for the receiving line.  Sweet.  I wanted to photograph them standing under the rainbow, but that would have meant stopping the receiving line and putting the bride and groom in the rain.  I figured that wasn't such a great idea.  But I really wanted to.

I flopped into bed late Saturday night, only to roll out of bed early to run the AV system during the early service, Sunday school and second service at church.  There was lunch, an attack on the mountain of laundry in the laundry room, dinner to cook, tomatoes to pick in the garden (10 gallons) and things to get ready for the new work week.  I snuck away for about forty minutes to shoot pictures at the nearby sunflower fields because they are in bloom (YAY!!!!!!!) again.  I was afraid I'd miss them if I didn't make a point to get my patookus down there this weekend.  I shot, shot, shot all the live long day and ran back home, only to find that Hubby had called some friends to see if they wanted some tomatoes and they were on their way to our house.  Only they didn't show up until 9pm.  They left at 10:10pm, and while it was a great visit, I looked at the clock and said, "Self, what on earth just happened?  Wasn't it just Friday?  Did you have a weekend?  Do you really have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning?"  It was just crazy to think that two and a half days could fly so fast.
So here we are.  At Monday.  I'm hoping to catch up on all kinds of mundane chores during the next few days.  And to edit some pictures.  A lot of pictures actually.  I have the wedding shots and a maternity shoot I need to edit.  And right now, I have two expectant mamas who are close to giving birth, which means newborn shoots are right around the corner.  I'm on baby watch, which is fun, fun, fun, but it means I can't get behind now, or I'll be really behind when those little papooses are ready to have their picture taken.   It is work yes, but it's also my travel money.  All of my photography money goes into the "Trip to Italy" jar.  Which is why I may be tired but I just keep singing Whistle While You Work and imagining myself floating on a gondola in Venice....for a whole weekend.       

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Pink Ones

Sometimes when I have the urge to shoot some pictures but don't have time to wander around the countryside or go very far, I hop out the back door and just use what's handy.  Right now, it's the wildflowers at the edge of the garden.