Just checking in

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So I’m feeling pretty guilty about not having appeared here for months (!) after being so gung-ho about blogging regularly again. After a bit of reflection, I realize that I was mostly enthusiastic about others blogging regularly again.

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I’ve been busy with the new job, of course, and busy sitting on my butt in the air-conditioning. This knee thing has really thrown me for a loop and I’m just now getting to feel better after a month of physical therapy. Why that dopey doctor I went to didn’t recommend it for me, I don’t know. I’m just glad I decided to be proactive after suffering for 3 months with barely any progress and so grateful to have good health insurance to pay for it. It’s really made all the difference in my ability to function like a regular person again. We’ve planned a camping trip this weekend and I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to hike without pain.

Other than work and physical therapy, I haven’t done much so far this summer other than try to avoid the heat. I still don’t know how people stand it here – I’ve got major cabin-fever! We’re sharing season tickets for the Braves and have been going to a couple of evening games each month. We’re discovering new favorite places to have breakfast on the weekends. We’re eating ice cream more often than is probably healthy. My brother and his family came to visit for a couple days at the beginning of July – it was super great to see them and to show off some of the fun things we do here in the A. I’ve been reunited with my dog Luka from that other life and just last week said goodbye to the senior shelter dog, Sadie, that we adopted only four years ago.

I bought myself a new camera lens – a super wide angle – and look forward to playing with that in the future. J and I went out the weekend that I bought it to take some photos of the tall buildings in midtown Atlanta, but ended up at the High Museum of Art as a way to escape the heat and enjoy some free air conditioning. I’m not much of an art museum type, but I enjoy the High and it’s folk and modern art. The photo that accompanies this post was taken there.

I plan to be back here in a couple days to share some memories of Sadie – once we’re back from camping in the mountains where hopefully it’ll be cool!

A my name is Alice

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When was the last time you jumped rope?

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I loved it as a kid, not as much as roller-skating, but more than playing cops-and-robbers with the neighborhood boys. The problem was, there were never enough of us girls, and the boys were too boyish to jump rope, so we (my best girlfriend and I) had to make do by tying one end of the rope to a garage door.

:-(

I remember doing it on the playground at school, too – waiting in line for my turn, the silly songs we sang, and the occasional challenge to try double-dutch, with two ropes swinging in opposite directions.

Do schoolgirls still jump rope at recess?

A couple weeks ago I came across a group of young girls – they were an official neighborhood competitive double-dutch team – during a sort of street festival here in Atlanta called “Streets Alive”. The lady in the photos was having so much fun – and I imagine was remembering her own childhood just like me – that it made me want to give it a go. But for my bum knee, I’m sure I could have done it!

Sweet memories.

Wildflowerin’ gone bad

He who limps is still walking. ~Stanislaw J. Lec

I love wandering in the woods to find the first sleeping plants that awaken from the forest floor. It’s something of a rite of spring for me, despite the fact that I no longer have to suffer through a cold northern winter. Many of these spring ephemerals, as well as being beautiful, are important food sources for the first foraging butterflies and bees that emerge. Many are even downward-facing to better serve the insects that cruise the forest floor.

A couple weeks back we took an impromptu Friday evening walk to the nature trail at Stone Mountain Park; a friend had mentioned that it’s one of the best local places to see a few of my favorites. It’s an easy 3/4 mile trail that meanders beside a stream. It was lovely; the azaleas were blooming and as a bonus we saw our first Louisiana waterthrush of the season! Timage2here were many blooming mayapples – so hard to photograph nicely – and some pink lady slippers that I want to go back to check on. I found foamflower, I think, though it’s much taller than what I’m used to seeing in NJ. The common name comes from the delicate white flowers that look like foam. I love the extra long pistils on the flowers that rise above the white petals like little golden crowns. Books say that these flowers were often presented by Greeks as tokens of their love.

We also found green-and-gold which is another favorite. It blooms in shady woodland places. So pretty! I believe it’s in the aster family, so you know pollinators love it. We finished off our easy evening hike by deciding to head off the nature trail and into the forest proper. We didn’t gimage1et very far before we had to cross a wet area where the stream ran across a bunch of flat rocks. Despite being extra-super careful when crossing those slippery, moss-covered rocks, I managed to fall and twist up my leg. Bummer! Two weeks later and I finally worked up the courage to see a doctor today… the pain wasn’t going away and walking/sleeping/sitting haven’t gotten any easier. I have to go back for an MRI, but the chance is that I’ve torn a meniscus.

:-(

I’m studying up IMG_6814on knee anatomy (in between wildflower guides!) and hoping that rest and time and the brace the doctor gave me will fix it up. I welcome any suggestions for how to include/disguise this hideous-looking brace in my professional attire. I hope next time I’ll be more careful; wildflowers are a risky habit to have!

Writing the whys

4-21-16I recently prompted our group of Comeback Bloggers (isn’t that a great name?!?) to think about why we each started blogging however many years ago. It’s an interesting question for me to think about because it relates to why I stopped blogging regularly and also to why I’m a bit hesitant to dive back in to it.

I could easily claim that blogging was solely an outlet for self-expression and a way for me to share my thoughts or engage with others. I might also say that writing helped me to understand myself better and that my blog provided a “scrapbook” of sorts to reflect upon. All of those things are true, or mostly so. I’ve certainly learned over the years that I write to find out what I think. Anybody who knows me personally will agree that I’m not usually a big talker; I’m never quick to jump in with my opinion. The process of writing, which I approach fairly methodically, helps me to clarify how I feel about things. Mostly I think that I write to find out what’s true.

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. ~Sholem Asch

I started blogging on a whim and as a way to occupy myself in the evenings, but quickly found it to be a respite from what was otherwise a good, but disconnected life: a good job, a good husband, and good people that I called friends, but meaningful and thoughtful experiences were few and far between. The daily discipline of dreaming up something to write about or going out and doing something worth writing about ultimately led me to look into many a dark corner and to re-examine the choices I had made in life. As I came more and more to rely on the kindred spirits I had found through blogging, I felt the lack of depth in my real-time relationships even more completely. It’s a strange thing to discover that your blog is your own best source of information about yourself, as well as a catalyst to discussion for your loved ones. I found myself wondering why we all couldn’t just talk to each other without this electronic medium serving as an intermediary. It was also strange and pretty sad to realize that it was easier and safer for me to share my most important and deeply felt parts with strangers.

Blogging changed my life, honestly. Through blogging, I wrote my way out of one life and into another. These first couple years here haven’t been easy and I’ve not had the courage to write about it or the life I left behind. I’m afraid of what writing about it will tell me about what I think and really feel. I’m afraid of the turning inward that writing requires because it means I’ll be turning my back, so to speak, on the people around me, in favor of this anonymous platform. And the truth is, many of us are not so anonymous to one another anymore. I worry, too much sometimes, about who my audience is and what you’ll think about what I might write. I worry that I have nothing left to say. I worry that I take too many words to say nothing of importance…

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At any rate, I’m going to give this a go again, with a couple trusted friends for encouragement, and see where the reflection leads. Hopefully I’ll find myself somewhere good.

Do you miss blogging, too? Want to join us? Get in touch!

Calling all zombies!

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So!

A couple of friends on FB have been lamenting the demise of our blogs. We all seem to mostly agree that, coupled with life changes or varying degrees of laziness/lack of interest, the popularity and ease of Facebook put the final nail in the coffin of what was a very happy time in our lives. All the writing. All the sharing. All the feels.

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We miss blogging and we miss our blogging community. Some still blog regularly, some occasionally, some never do – but a couple of us have decided to give it a go again and see if we can’t get back some of the magic that we used to share here, in this way. Isn’t that exciting?!?

Wonderful sweet Jayne suggested that prompts might be helpful to get our writing juices flowing again, if need be. I like the idea of prompts, so long as they’re not too restrictive, or too predictable. So in thinking about it and considering how much we all seem ready to write / talk / make excuses (?) for why we STOPPED blogging, it occurred to me that an interesting prompt might be to think and write about why we STARTED blogging. Others of you may have already addressed this at some point in your blogging career, but I don’t think I ever have…

So what do y’all say? Can this prompt lead you somewhere interesting? Will you join us as we try to resurrect our dead or dying blogs? Zombie Bloggers Unite!

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Comment here if you’re in!Β  We’ll promise to read and give feedback; that has to be part of the bargain if we’re to feel like a community again.

Many, many thanks… I’ve missed you!

Ahem

IMG_6684-1I feel so rusty at this, so awkward. It’s not so much because actually doing it feels funny, but more because of the contrast between how unfamiliar it feels to be here, and how entirely natural it used to feel.

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It’s like returning to anything, I suppose. The yoga mat, or healthy eating… we don’t slip right back in where we we left off – or at least I don’t. It’s more like returning from a trip, maybe a long one. Abroad. I bring back treasures and memories, something tucked in my pocket, photographs, experiences that I hadn’t had before. I’d like to think I’m richer for this time away from regular blogging, but I doubt it.

At any rate, Atlanta really knows how to do Spring! Everything just comes into bloom at once. I wish I could bottle the crazy combination of daffodils-azaleas-dogwoods-cherry trees-forsythia-viburnums that is Spring here and send it to my friends who are still threatened with snow in the north. I wonder if we don’t appreciate the change in seasons more when it comes slowly? I used to think March was the worst… but here there were even a couple days when it was in the mid 80’s and I was left looking for shade beneath trees that hadn’t leafed out yet!

What’s blooming in your part of the world?

Snowy

snowyConsidering all the time I’ve spent in Florida the last couple years, you’d think I’d have seen a snowy plover by now, right? Well, I FINALLY got my life snowy at the end of last year when we spent Christmastime at Cape San Blas on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Cape San Blas is one of my favorite places on the “forgotten coast” – not too many people, no condos or hotels, and a 30 minute drive to a decent restaurant or grocery store. My kind of place!

I very nearly stumbled over this bird! It was so totally camouflaged in its winter plumage (and so tame!) that, were it not for its movement, I never would have seen it. I wonder how many others I’ve stumbled past without ever seeing…

You might notice in my photo that the bird is banded – only one leg is visible – I found out that this bird is a regular winter resident at St. Joseph’s State Park on Cape San Blas, but that it breeds elsewhere.

Snowies are sweet birds – small and plain compared to the piping plovers I know so well – but pretty similar in their habits. And like other Florida birds, exceptionally tame. I wonder why that is?

Steaming consolation

Split-Pea-Soup-2Hot soup on a cold day is the greatest of comforts, isn’t it? This particular soup is a favorite; it’s a vegetarian split-pea that’s simple and comes together quickly. What makes it special is how I garnish it… olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and smokey Spanish paprika. Served with a crusty bread, it’s an unexpectedly delicious wintertime meal.

I never really liked split-pea soup until this recipe. My mother-in-law used to send over a jar at least once a month and I dutifully ate it, but never enjoyed it. She made it with ham, as is usual, but I think the ham flavor was the turn-off for me. If only I’d known that the simple addition of lemon and smoked paprika could’ve transformed it into something wonderful!

It lasts for always

peepermarch09 Peeper the rabbit died today. She was pretty old and quite shabby, but I loved her just as much today as when she was splendid and new. I’d loved most of her whiskers off, the pink linings of her ears had gone gray, and her brown fur was falling out. She even began to lose her shape and scarcely looked like a rabbit to anyone but me. To me she was always beautiful and very, very Real. Love is real and it lasts for always.

If you’ve read The Velveteen Rabbit, you’ll know how happy I was to give her my heart all these years so that she could become Real. I will miss her.

Just shooting

IMG_5639Since being back in Atlanta, I’ve gone out with a couple local photography groups to participate in meet-up events; I’m doing this to meet new people and hopefully find new, interesting places for photography, but also to maybe learn some proper photography techniques.

We went a couple weeks ago to photograph an abandoned Astroturf factory and later in the day visited Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens. The gardens are a dizzying, dazzling maze of sculptural monuments, embellished outbuildings, found-object assemblages, and elaborately painted signs, all interconnected by a series of inlaid concrete walkways. I visited there a couple years ago and was happy to find the gardens in better shape than last time. There’s even a new visitor’s center (and a much expanded “gift shop”). It’s an interesting place and worth a visit if you’re in the area or have a particular interest in visionary or “outsider” art. This summer while in NJ, we took a day trip to Philly and visited the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, which have a similar feel, but on a much crazier scale.

At any rate, what I enjoy most about meeting and shooting with other photographers is the opportunity to see how each of us approaches photography differently; we all share photos on Instagram (via a common hashtag) and it’s really interesting to see the various perspectives and points of view of others in the group. We’re a diverse bunch, with varying skill levels from novice to professional. If you’re interested (and on IG) check us out with #atlantaurbanphotowalkers.