Thursday, October 31, 2013

PHC: Cross Country in the Bigger Picture

Every month, Kat Sloma hosts a photography practice she calls "photo-heart connection," which encourages photographers to review their month's work and choose the one photo which most touches their heart and speaks to their soul. This month was hard for me because my October SLR memory cards are pretty much full of photographs from cross country meets and my iphone camera roll contained nothing very inspiring.
So, I looked at my running photos again, and I remembered this photo and why I love it so much. It's Clara, looking strong as she enters the chute on her way to the finish line. I remember that she passed two girls in the chute because she was coming in with a hot, fast kick. There's her coach Stephanie on the right (in the orange shirt and sunglasses) yelling that yes, she can catch those girls. And there's her friend Ashley (with the orange shirt and pom poms) cheering her on, excited by just how fast Clara runs. 
And when you look closer, there's more. Ashley is wearing an orange cast because she broke her leg at the very first meet of the season and has not been able to run this year. Yet she shows up at every meet to cheer her teammates on. And next to her is her mother! Also there to cheer the team on, even though her kid isn't even competing. Because the bigger picture of cross country is the team and community and family connections we've made. There's new friends and a strong team who really support each other. 
But for me, there's even more. Last weekend, Clara traveled about 350 miles with her team to southern California to run in a huge invitational meet. I emailed my brothers and sisters who live down there and asked if they wanted to drop by and watch her run (even though I wouldn't be there). And they showed up in force! There were seven of them, with signs saying "Go Clara!" and "HMB XC!" Paul flew down, and his parents went to the meet as well. My one brother who couldn't make it called after the race to see how she did. You see, the bigger picture of cross country for me also includes the fact that all three of my brothers ran cross country in high school (and two in college). They love the sport and were thrilled to go see Clara run in the same invitational they remember competing in when they were (much) younger.
When I look at this photograph of Clara, I see more than a really strong fast competitive runner (although I do see that, too). I see where she fits in the bigger picture, in the web of life which surrounds us all. And that makes my heart happy.
Thank you Kat for sponsoring this wonderful photography practice.
To check out the other photo-heart connections from this month, click on this link.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #43

A quick and funny pair of look up//look down photos this time to symbolize my hectic week: looking up at the soap bubbles during a "Rainbow Wash" car wash and down on some interesting sidewalk graffiti on the way to work.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sneak Peek from my creative weekend!

I'm enjoying a long, productive weekend. Yesterday, I had a wonderful lunch with an old friend at a tea shoppe with great food (but painfully slow service). It's also a polo/tack shop and has a beautiful garden, so at least it was a pleasant wait. Later in the day, I spent time watching Clara run, using the computer feed set up by the meet, and texting with my brothers and sisters who there watching her in person. She did great and the whole team finished very well.
Creatively, I completed the base pages for my December Daily, 2013 album. I'm only posting a little sneak peek today because I'll reveal the whole thing the weekend of Nov. 8-10 when I participate in the blog hop for Jennifer Grace's Frosty Festivities!
You can read more about the Frosty Festivities free blog event here. You can also enter to win a great paper pack from Glitz Designs, so pop on over and see Jennifer
Today, I'm going to do some computer work with my photographs, so I can order prints and to create some fresh blog posts, plus I'll make a few cards. I'm hoping to squeeze some time out to finish my Learn Something New Everyday/Faces album, but I also have some actual work to do and I'm going to watch a friends' son in a high school play tonight! I'll keep you posted on my progress. What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Off the Clock

It's Thursday afternoon. I just dropped Clara's bags off at the High School and hugged her good-bye before she boarded the bus to Southern California. Her cross country team is making the nine hour drive to compete in a huge cross-country meet tomorrow. As an added bonus, they will visit Disneyland on Saturday (Disneyland!) before heading home on Sunday. Paul left for the airport earlier this morning. He's flying down to watch her run and to visit his family. 
So, I've got a long weekend to myself. And I've got plans . . . work plans, social plans, creative plans.  
And I could get started this afternoon. 
But instead, I change out of my work clothes, pour myself a glass of wine and relax in front of the T.V. I take the dogs out for a walk, enjoying the cool of the early evening.
I'll get lots done this weekend. 
But, for now, I'm off the clock. Doing what I want. And enjoying it immensely.
When was the last time you let yourself go off the clock?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #42: Homecoming

Homecoming is a traditional celebration in American high schools, which takes different forms at different schools. At our high school, the celebration includes a week full of activities that culminates in a Friday night football games at which the Homecoming King and Queen are crowned. Alumni are invited back, but for our school, that's not a major part of the festivities.  The school does get decorated in pumpkins (including along the roof line), and the four classes (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior) compete in a variety of spirit competitions, including a skit, a dance/lip sync, a relay race and a mural that goes up in the gym.  The theme for this year's Homecoming was public service, and each class was assigned a group (freshman were doctors; sophomores were firefighters; juniors were police; and seniors were the armed forces).  I was really happy (and a little surprised) when Clara said that she had gotten a bunch of her friends to sign up with her to do the class mural.
For this week's look up//look down photo pairing, then, two photos from Homecoming 2013: looking up at the pumpkins on the roof line and looking down at the sophomore class mural in progress (the High School mascot is a cougar, in case you're wondering why there's a great big cougar in there!).
And I'm wondering, is Homecoming a tradition where you are? If so, how is it celebrated?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

1 Photo, 20 Words: Trucks in a Row

Spied these trucks while walking shelter dogs. 
Their retro feel caught my eye.
If you like them, tell me why.
1 photo, described in 20 words is a meme started by Abi and a great way to keep my hand in the blogging world while I'm super busy with real life. Thanks Abi!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Simple Moment: A Changing of the Guard

It was a long photo shoot. We got here right after school and struggled with flat, grey light for the first few small groups. When we finally assembled the whole team together on the bluff, the sun broke through. My friend Becky smiled broadly as we shot the team and then hustled through all the individual runners. We lost light just as we finished the last few buddy shots.
I turned to capture the radar tower overlooking the ocean and empty bluff.
Last year I helped Becky shoot the soccer players on the soccer field. This year, I'm helping her photograph the cross country runners out here on the bluffs.
I stop to contemplate the shift from focusing on Henry's high school experience to Clara's. There's a distinct changing of the guard. And tonight, on this bluff, in the waning light, it's all good.
To check out other simple moments from October, click on this link.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #41: Second Chances

Saturday morning (early), I rolled out of bed to take Clara to a cross country meet. Curious as to why she wasn't the one waking me up, I shuffled into her room and found her sound asleep. She's generally an early riser and particularly on meet days when she can't wait to join her friends and conquer a new course. I could tell by the absence of happy chatter (replaced by complaints and a few tears) that she really wasn't feeling well.  And truthfully, she had been feeling kind of punky for a few days. But, it was going to be her first time running "Crystal," an important course for league and championship meets. And her first time at the three mile distance which will be used as "official" times for various purposes.   Plus, we had promised a teammate a ride to the meet. So, I jollied her along, pushed her into the car and drove her to the meet.  Shortly before her warm up time, she threw-up. Everything she had eaten in the last 24 hours. Everything.  Not totally unexpected. But disappointing none-the-less.
We are returning to Crystal Springs this afternoon for one of those important league meets. She's feeling much better and is excited (though a bit nervous) for the race. It's a second chance to make a good first impression at Crystal, and I'm hoping it goes well.
Before we left on Saturday morning, I snapped a few pictures on my iphone. Perfect for this week's installment of look up//look down (the accidental meme created by Helena).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Storytelling Sunday (on Friday): Crocheted Quilts

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been super busy. I thought I would not have time to participate in this month's Storytelling Sunday blog circle, sharing stories about the precious things in our lives. But then I read this awesome post from Sian and decided there was no reason not to participate (even if I am a little late). To see other participants from this month, go to this link.
So, a very simple post about the crocheted quilts made by my abuelita. They are warm, indestructible and, well, homey. When I was growing up, one of these was on every bed in the house. I have a green and yellow one on my bed right now. My mom gave me this pink one when I moved out, and it's on Clara's bed right now. And you know what? She loves it. Because there's something special about a quilt. I have been thinking about this post, ever since I read this quote on my friend Deb's blog:
After all, a woman didn't leave much behind in the
world to show she'd been there. Even the children
she bore and raised got their father's name. But her
quilts, now that was something she could pass on.”
 ~ Sandra Dallas
Are there any special quilts in your life?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stolen Moments of Creativity

I have been really busy lately. . . work stuff, home stuff, cross country stuff. It's all good, but it's all been keeping me away from my blog, from visiting your blogs, and from grabbing big chunks of time to create. But, even in the midst of all this work, I have stolen a couple of moments of creativity to share with you:
Moment #1
We have finished dinner, and Paul has gone downstairs to rest after having cleared the dishes.  Clara needs some help getting started on her homework, but before we can start, she gasps. "Mom, look at the sky!"  An amazing sunset is developing.  We grab our iphones and post photos to instagram. The sunset continues to develop. "Whoa!" she says. It just keeps getting better and better. We post more photos but eventually run out of witty captions to add.  "You should get your real camera, Mom." So, I do.  Homework can wait.
Moment #2
It's been an unseasonably warm weekend. It was over 81 degrees yesterday when we hosted about 2,000 runners for a huge high school cross country meet. I spent ten hours on the field, most of it working in the first aid tent.  I helped runner after runner as they collapsed from heat exhaustion at the finish line. I half-carried them to a chair in the shade, gave them a cup of water and placed an ice bag on the back of their necks before returning to the chute to see who else needed help. So, today, I'm enjoying a well-earned nap.  Or, I would be if the dogs would stop bugging me. I finally give in and open the door to let them out.  The air is hot, humid and full of bugs. Dragonflies make slow, lazy circles around the yard. Although I'm a bit unnerved by their presence, I grab my camera and wade out into their midst. I still have the long lens on my camera from yesterday's meet, and I capture one dragonfly mid-flight. Sometimes it's good to be brave.

Look Up//Look Down #40: Fully into Fall

Fall is a beautiful time of year here on the coast, and we are sometimes treated to fantastic sunsets.  It is also the time of year to harvest pears.  So, I thought these two photographs would be perfect representation for this week's look up//look down (a meme hosted by Helena). What does Fall look like where you are?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Becky was here, pt. 1: Henry

As I blogged about earlier (in this post), my friend, the amazing photographer Becky Ruppel came over to take some family portraits before Henry left for University.  I promised that I would share the results, and Becky has graciously given me permission to do so.  She took so many great photographs that I'm breaking them up into several posts.  This post will focus on the portraits she took of Henry (though the one of Clara and Henry, above, may be my favorite of the entire shoot).
This one is Paul's favorite. He likes photographs of people smiling. And Becky captured a perfect smile here.  Becky also took some fantastic photographs of a more serious Henry:
(Becky doesn't like the soft focus in this one, but I'm crazy about the colors and textures)
(I love Henry's expression and the background in this portrait)
Becky also took this portrait of Henry standing in the backyard (I love how she lighted it and how smart she was about posing this when she saw the soccer ball out back):
I think this last one may actually be my favorite. There's something about the little smirk on this face which captures him so well!
That's it for now. I'll share the ones featuring Clara and the ones of the whole family in future posts. But I am curious if you have a favorite out of this batch.  In particular, which one(s) would you order to frame and hang on the wall?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #39: Home Improvement

So, while I was in Oregon, I left my daughter Clara and my husband Paul to fend for themselves. I expected that they would get by with the minimum requirements for the week - getting to school; doing homework; eating; watching the dogs.  Instead, they decided to undertake a few home improvement projects! They worked on painting the living room and repairing/replacing lighting in the laundry room, front hall way, and master bathroom. The projects aren't quite done, but they sure will look good when they are! Looking up at the new lights in the master bath (still needs some dry wall) and down at the painting drop cloth. Thanks Helena for suggesting this fun weekly photo meme.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Month in Numbers, Pt. 1: Cross Country

Number of Cross Country Meets: 4
Number of First Place Team Victories in Varsity Invitational Meets: 1
Number of First Place Team Victories in Frosh-Soph Invitational Meets: 1
Number of Second Place Team Finishes in Varsity League Meets: 2
Frosh-Soph Individual Finish: 3rd place.
Number of runners in that race: 233
Typical length of race: 2.3 miles
Average mile pace: 6:30
Varsity Individual Finishes: 6th out of 83 racers; 6th out of 84 racers; 9th out of 98
Yes, she's fast.
My month in numbers is the brain child of Julie Kirk. You can find similar posts here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

PHC: Where are you now? Where are you going?

September 2013 . The start of a new routine, the start of a new phase in my life. . . . 
Where am I now?
I am standing in a covered bridge outside Cottage Grove, Oregon. The smell of wet wood and damp earth comforts me; gentle light streams in from the side; soft, organic colors and strong sturdy lines surround me.
I am standing as a 50-something woman who has seen her oldest child off to college . . . no longer a boy, not quite a man; a professor with a pile of articles to write this academic year; a wife with a husband who is a cancer survivor still undergoing maintenance chemo; an artist armed with her camera and a paintbrush.
Where am I going?
I see a bright light at the end of the tunnel, softened a bit by greenery and mist.  I see a new routine beginning at home. More time to focus on raising our girl; more time to focus on getting back into shape. Time to recognize and appreciate the changes offered in the cycle of life.  Time to embrace the new season. 
Kat Sloma's Photo Heart Connection encourages photographers to review their images each month; to choose the one which makes the strongest connection to their heart and soul; and then to write about the image. I'm sharing mine today (please click on the image to see it larger and in more detail). You can see other photographer's images at this link.

I'm Back!

Hi Blog friends,
Just a quick check-in to say that I'm back from dropping by boy off at college and my short blog break. I'm looking forward to getting round to read what you've been up to and to posting all kinds of art and photos and stories over the next few weeks! 
Come back tomorrow for my Photo Heart Connection for September - I took it the same place as these hearts. Any guesses where they're from???