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…

😉

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!

IMG_6145

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.

😉

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!

:-)

Comment here if you’re in!  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!

622 miles closer to the perfect summer job

Today’s sunset at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

So I guess I finally have enough of my ducks in a row to tell you all about my plans for this summer…

I’m going home to NJ!

The perfect summer job landed in my lap… I’ll be working for NJ Fish and Wildlife to monitor and protect beach-nesting birds.

Piping Plovers!

Least Terns!

American Oystercatchers!

Please don’t anyone pinch me… I don’t want to wake up if this is a dream!

: )

I set out early this morning with my bunny and my African violets and after 12+ hours in the car, we’re all feeling pretty bedraggled.  I took the shortcut across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to spend the night on the Delmarva Peninsula and will meet the ferry to Cape May in the morning. It’s beautiful here (and there’s still “sweet tea” available!) and I was treated to Brown Pelicans and frolicking dolphins this evening when I stopped at the scenic overlook on the bridge to stretch my legs. Plus, I can smell the sea again… But it’s cold! I started the day with the AC running in the car and ended it with the heat blasting.

Some Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers are already on eggs… I’m hoping to arrive on the beach with the Least Terns. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to get started and share this adventure with you…

Heggie’s Rock

Heggie’s Rock Preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and is yet another example of a granite outcrop community, much like Arabia Mountain. I was curious to see it because it’s said to be the most pristine of Georgia’s flat rock outcrops.

So last Saturday, I went along on a special guided tour meant for “serious” photographers. I was concerned with not being “serious” enough, of course, but no one checked my credentials.

: )

Granite outcrops are difficult places for the plants that try to make a life there. The temperatures are extreme and there’s not much soil. In fact, the plants arrange themselves into zones according to soil depth. The hot, dry conditions foster plant life that dramatically differs from that of the surrounding forest… many are perennials that grow very slowly; others are winter annuals that survive the desert-like summer months as seeds.

Many of the winter annuals have adaptations like whitish hairs to reflect sunlight and smallish leaves that reduce surface-area water loss; others, like the Elf’s Orpine (pictured here and above) are succulents that store water in swollen leaves and stems.

This environment was a first for many in our small group of “serious” photographers; this lady earned innumerable points in my book for forgoing the tripod and getting down on her belly in the dirt to make her photos!

(Instant friend.)

Mosses and lichen dry out and darken (or turn silver like this one!) but immediately turn green with moisture. We tested this out with our water bottles; the response was almost immediate.

Unfortunately, there was no “serious” plant person in our group to tell me the name of this one.

There’s something in the experience of an outcrop that’s very difficult to convey in a photograph; a wide-angle view mutes the beauty somehow, but the color contrasts feel lost without the context of the whole expanse. I dunno… I love the contrasts of texture and color in this pic. That’s enough, I guess!

Occasionally, there’s a brighter view where the soil is deep enough to support it. Just ahead of the woody shrubs, the yellow blooms are Rabbit’s Ear, I think.

The Elf’s Orpine is the star of the show, of course. The environment here is very, very dry but the blooming things still manage to arrange themselves artfully among the lichen-covered rocks.

Pretty, no?

I’d really like to know what this stuff is… any guesses?

Another artful arrangement… especially interesting because you can “see” the soil depth based on the plants that are growing… the unnamed plant in the deepest part of the solution pool, leading to the Elf’s Orpine blooming in the dry sand on the right, and the lichen covering the bare granite.

Pretty.

Pretty with pinecones.

: )

I love the weird moonscape of granite outcrops here in GA; I love how stark they are and I especially love how surprising the color and beauty can be when you get down on your belly to find it. I love The Nature Conservancy for putting this place behind a fence to protect it for all of us “serious” folks to enjoy.

Heggie’s Rock is open to the public on a limited basis… check here.

Please go; it’s beautiful!

A counting

There’s 92 species of birds on the list for the year already; some favorites are American Pipit, Loggerhead Shrike and Wilson’s Plover. I’ve never kept a year list before. I don’t generally “do” lists, but thought it might be entertaining for a while. I’m wondering what a reasonable expectation for the year might be… 200? 250? Any additional birds will accumulate slowly until Spring, unless of course there’s travel involved. 2013 was a good year for new birds for me and I took a couple nice trips that added to my (only in my head) life list.

 

In February, we went to Sanibel Island, Ding Darling NWR, Cape Coral and Ft. DeSoto. The weather was crappy and the drive was interminable, but I hope to get back to that area sometime. Lots of neat birds…

Common Ground Dove – easily overlooked, but striking when they show their rusty wings.

Monk Parakeets feeding in the same field we found this Burrowing Owl; hard to say which felt more unlikely to this Jersey Girl.

: )

We also saw Nanday Parakeets and a Long-billed Curlew on that trip. Talk about impossible to imagine birds!

This Vermillion Flycatcher was probably the least expected bird I added to my nonexistent life list last year – just gorgeous! A friend of a friend on FB gave me directions to a town just west of Tallahassee and I found it in the exact tree where he said it would be – imagine!

I’ve no idea what new birds 2014 holds for me…

10/100

We went wandering over to Apalachicola this afternoon to look at the shrimp boats there and found this gentleman first. He came over to tell us about the bald eagle he sees around the marina. I thought maybe he was the watchman, but no, he said he’s camping out there beneath the maritime museum building until they give him a job. He told us he’s worked on fishing boats in Alaska too, so I figure he can handle the Florida cold.

This photo is #10 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at Flickr 100 Strangers or www.100Strangers.com

Ghost signs

I’m happy to finally have a name for these faded advertisements that I like to photograph. I find them painted on falling-down buildings along rural roads and in the old parts of sleepy Southern towns.

Wikipedia, my source for everything that I didn’t know had a name, says they were most common before the Great Depression and that the artists who painted them were known as “wall dogs.”

In some places, there’s an effort to preserve or restore them. Oftentimes, they just fade away like so much history.

I’m not even sure, myself, where I took these couple photos, but for the last one. On the way to somewhere else is all I remember.

This one is a favorite, simply because I get to see it most often. It’s on the way to Tallahassee and, despite many tries, I’ve yet to get a photo that I like.

Apparently, other people like to photograph these old signs, too. And if you’re so inclined and have some favorites, you might consider adding them to the Ghost Sign Project so other people can find them, too.

Sunday in the Park

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows they’re being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.

– Richard Avedon

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/richardave531391.html#m1zZipxLsc3qOGGX.99

A couple weeks ago I went to Sunday in the Park at Oakland Cemetery here in Atlanta. It’s billed as a Victorian street festival and includes music, food, and an artist’s market. I went mainly for the picture-taking opportunities, expecting to want to photograph inside some of the spectacular mausoleums (opened up just for this event), but instead and as usual, got sidetracked with people photos. The folks in “period garb” were fun, but I especially liked the steampunk couple!

Art seen (in progress)

The Living Walls conference is back in Atlanta and we spent the afternoon the other day wandering around the city trying to see all the murals. Many of them are in out-of-the-way-for-us neighborhoods and some of them we pass by almost every day. Getting out to see them and appreciate each for its distinct style was a fun project for a steamy summer afternoon.

Of particular interest were the murals that are being painted in the Summerhill neighborhood that surrounds Turner Field. We’re there quite often for Braves’ games and, like the CNN article implies, it’s a pretty sketchy place. It’ll be nice to have these sad-looking abandoned buildings transformed with color. Stay tuned…

Is this a look or what?

I think the ribbons on her ears are a nice touch.

Sadie’s embarrassed by them.

I like them and think she looks adorable.

Jay, the good sport who walks her in the park, thinks they’re ridiculous.

He was ready with a story should anyone ask:

“They’re antennas; she’s actually a robot.”

I like that, too.