Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mock---ing---bird, now…

Everybody have you heard?

Yesterday morning, I pulled into my parking space at work, dragging my tired butt out of the car - typical for a Monday morning. As I’m walking towards the door, I notice a bird hovering slightly behind me, over my left shoulder. I was thinking to myself, ‘please don’t poop on me’. The next thing I know, it dive bombs into my head. I immediately recalled the Seinfeld episode where a bird flew into Elaine’s head and she became paranoid that she had a big lollipop head. Of course, I freaked out, hoping it wasn’t trying to peck my eyes out and ran into the building in a fright. Being pooped on, it turns out, was the least of my worries.

I made it inside, set my stuff down, trying to calm down. A few minutes later, my boss came in and I noticed he looked a little disheveled. He stopped in front of my office door and I said, “Did you get attacked by a bird?” He said “Yes” and laughed. I admitted that I too, had been the target of this little creature and wondered if there was a nest nearby.

Our co-worker soon joined the conversation and pointed out that the bush directly in front of my parking space is the home of 3 newly hatched chicks. They are so cute! I managed to get one photo of the nest before I got dive bombed again. I got several great shots of Mama Mockingbird using a 300mm lens. I never appreciated magnification so much until then.

This is the look I got right before the second attack.
From what I’ve read on the internet, it seems that I may need to wear a helmet to work for the next several days.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Running with Scissors

Started two blog posts over the weekend: one on aging and another about a Seinfeld episode that reminded me of my father. They shall remain in posting purgatory until I can make them funnier. I know, Seinfeld is already funny, so what's the problem? It's complicated, trust me; anything involving my dad is never easy unless humor is injected. Sometimes the funny is hard to find where he's concerned. The aging post was about how I innocently purchased something online, which resulted in a flurry of senior citizen retailers badgering me via email.

Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I am thoroughly sick of TV. I am not equipped with the male mentality of clicking the remote indefinitely or watching mindless drivel. There must be something worthwhile that’s funny, educational, or animal-related, or I have no interest in watching. Meandering into the study, I decided to ponder how I spend my free time. Snuggling with Sparky and a blanket, I settled into the cozy leather recliner to look out the window and think. Of course Izzy soon became jealous, so it ended up being the 3 of us, which caused some quarreling until everyone found their place.

I came to the realization that my mind is constantly being fed through TV and internet, rendering me practically incapable of having my own creative thoughts or allowing me to express myself. This revelation was disconcerting. Maybe that’s why I’ve sought out photography, instinctively realizing that I need to create, produce, DO. Idleness is not my friend.

Double D came in and sat down at the computer across from me to research the laptop he wants for his birthday. He was moving at a snail's pace along the internet superhighway (remember that term?), so I instructed him on how to perform rudimentary searches and showed him how useful “tabs” are on our browser. This allowed us some time for brief snippets of conversation. With the idiot box on, simply talking and engaging with each other is not required, so this was a nice change.

During a lull in conversation my eyes scoured the bookcase and landed on “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs. Purchased several months ago, I had attempted to read it and only lasted one chapter due to trouble focusing. Started the book around 2:00 in the afternoon, left to run a few errands, picked up where I left off on my return, and at 3:00 the next morning I finished the last page. 304 pages y'all!! Disturbing, funny, compelling, gross, wicked and shocking are some of the descriptions that come immediately to mind.

It gave me enormous satisfaction to finish the book. The last time I read a book all the way through in one day, I was probably a pre-teen devouring “Gone With the Wind” or “The Yearling” – my two favorite books as a child. About 5 years ago or so I read “Memoirs of a Geisha” in a matter of days. Oh, and David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day” was a fun, funny, quick read. There are so few books I find worthy of my time anymore.

Two weeks ago my doctor upped my thyroid medication. Known problems with an underactive thyroid gland are the inability to focus and depression. Since starting the new medication, I feel more alert and energetic than I have in years. I detest western medicine and that I must take this chemical, but if it makes me feel better, I will get over it. I have a new hobby, books to read and places to go! Is it the medication or is it Memorex? To be continued....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Miss The Fruitcake Lady

Did you know that Edna Marie Faulk was the aunt of Truman Capote? She died in 2006 at the age of 95. Her "Ask The Fruitcake Lady" segments are hysterical.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Obsession

ob·ses·sion
–noun 1. the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
2. the idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself.
3. the state of being obsessed.
4. the act of obsessing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My eyes have turned into camera lenses. Weird. I can no longer watch a movie or view the outside world normally. This may very well qualify me as "obsessed".

A wonderful time was had yesterday at Heard's Natural Science Museum with Double D, Autumn, and her friend, Jay. Although I didn't see many birds, we still managed to get some great shots of squirrels, butterflies and trees. We also saw a snake, and a frog that was chillin' in the water.
I shot mostly on Av mode (aperture priority), which means that I selected the aperture and the camera decided which shutter speed to use. Yes, I am finally getting it! On my next outing I will do the opposite where I choose the shutter speed and let the camera select the correct aperure. Afterwards, it's interesting to look at certain shots and see what the camera chose for that particular setting. Eventually, I hope to get to the point where manual mode is less daunting. Oh, joy. I'm so happy with my new hobby. I only wish Texas was more scenic.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Juno is Mine

Yesterday I had the unpleasant task of shopping at one of the huge discount chains for a few personal items, when what should enter my field of vision, but a huge display of DVDs for JUNO. My heart began to beat wildly (fear? excitement?) when I realized that I had not rushed out on Tuesday to buy it hot off the shelf.

Now why would I enter fight or flight mode when there were at least 50 beautiful, brightly colored packages with the lovely vivid orange stripes on display and not one soul around them? Did I think that suddenly the radars of 100 other shoppers might go off at the same time, where I would unexpectedly find myself in a brouhaha to be later broadcast on the local evening news. In high definition no less? 'Cause I would have engaged in a brawl if necessary, let me tell you.

Honestly, I don’t know where these peculiar feelings originate. I can be so high-strung at times. Gathering my wits, I calmly walked over to the display, reached for the deluxe version on the right, then quickly veered to the cheaper version on the left, and no one got a bloody nose.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

%#&*@!!)))!!!

Shutter speed, aperture setting, Av mode, Tv mode, ISO...GAH! Will I ever get it? I am able to comprehend what each element is supposed to achieve independently, but trying to figure out how they integrate based on my surroundings is something else. I have never wanted to learn anything so badly! I keep waiting for a profound revelation, something to click inside my brain so that I can ultimately understand the mechanics of this apparatus.

Feeling somewhat at war with my camera, I snapped a few pictures, edited my mistakes in Lightroom, and then studied on the internet for hours last night to determine what I was doing wrong. There was one web site that gave remarkably clear explanations with graphic illustrations which helped, but I still feel like I'm groping around a pitch black dungeon with only a child’s birthday cake candle for illumination. Methinks this is going to require my brain to effectively shift past first gear and THINK. The last test I studied for was my Vet Tech license a few years ago and I got a 92 on that, so you would think I could do this! And medicine makes me queasy - not my best subject by any means. I am determined to conquer this!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rotten

Izzy is incredibly attached to her daddy, so the other day I asked her jokingly, “Where’s yo daddy?”

Based on her explosive reaction, you would have thought I detonated a firecracker under her butt. She started twirling around excitedly, barking vociferously as if to say "Yes, yes, I want my daddy! Where? Where is he?!"

When he failed to materialize, she was beside herself with indignation. Each bark, garbled as it may have sounded to an outsider, had an unusually distinctive sound. I honestly thought she was trying to form words. If a dog bark interpreter existed, it would be verified that she was giving me an ultimatum: EITHER PRODUCE HIM NOW OR DIE.

This pitiful display went on for several minutes. I could have continued on with my fun, but unfortunately she had involved the other three dogs, which could have resulted in ear drum damage. Besides, I don't want the neighbors to think I'm running a dog pound out of the house.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Digital Love

Friday night I bit the bullet and purchased the Canon EOS Rebel XTi DSLR. I love the hefty feel of this camera. Although I am slightly intimidated by it, I have an intense desire to master it. After only one outing, I am already lusting over lenses, filters, software, and other extras I will need to fully realize the beauty of photography.

Armed with my new camera and very little knowledge, I went to the Dallas Arboretum with my daughter and her friend yesterday. Out of almost 300 pictures I kept half, and these are the only ones I truly love:


Monday, April 7, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Returning To My Roots?

Last Sunday, Double D and I visited St. Matthais' Anglican Church on the recommendation of an acquaintance. Double D said it was described to him as a combination of Catholic and Protestant. How timely, since I had strangely but privately been thinking of returning to Catholicism. *gasp*

Originally, St. Matthias was Episcopalian when it started in 1960. Early last year they declared themselves part of the Anglican Communion, separating permanently from the Episcopal Diocese. From Wikipedia: The Anglican Communion considers itself to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and as being both Catholic and Reformed. For some adherents it represents a non-papal Catholicism, for others a form of Protestantism though without a dominant guiding figure such as Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli or Wesley. For others, their self-identity represents some combination of the two. The communion encompasses a wide spectrum of belief and practice including evangelical, liberal, and catholic.


The High Mass I attended at St. Matthias seemed more Catholic than the Catholic masses from my childhood, complete with incense, candles, and a healthy spattering of holy water. The service was stunningly beautiful and worshipful, which is something I have missed, and lately has become a real sticking point with me. Attending numerous Baptist and Presbyterian churches in our area, there seemed to be no genuine attitude of reverence. It always felt like I was attending a weekly social, with singing for entertainment, followed immediately by a 20-30 minute sermon, and a collection of dues. Who can possibly focus mind and energy on God when one is busy socializing, singing, and being preached to? I know many feel the worship comes from singing, but that alone doesn’t do it for me. Suddenly, the rituals and the quietness are necessary for me to completely focus and they are surprisingly comforting. Who knew I would ever want that again? I have to wonder what has caused this change in me, and just as I’m having these pangs of missing the Catholic Church, someone would tell us about St. Matthias. Hmmmm…

Over the last 30 years, I rejected Catholicism based on certain doctrines I believed to be incorrect, or at least lacked strong support from the scriptures, such as the excessive worship of Mary, praying to the dead, and repetition of prayers. If St. Matthias does not hold these doctrines as truths, there might be hope for me yet. Certainly, as I research and reacquaint myself with their practice of the ancient rituals, I now see the beauty in it. No church is perfect and there will always be things I disagree with. I just have to determine which aspects, if any, might be detrimental to my spiritual welfare. I have a lot of questions for the priest at St. Matthias and I hope he can answer them adequately, because I am exceedingly weary of bouncing from church to church. In fact, I had given up altogether of finding a church to touch my heart and soul, which was quickly becoming disillusioned with organized religion as a whole. Amazingly, Double D is open to the idea. I love that he is willing to put his staunch Baptist upbringing aside so that we can explore this new way of worship.