Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Time To Move On

2015 was a strange year - there was loss, sadness, violence, things that made you realize that life can change in the blink of an eye. There was also adventure, wisdom, and events that made one realize what was most important in life.

Let's start with January shall we. Of course, the best way to do that is through pictures.

Tony and I spent a late afternoon photographing (naturally) and above are a couple of shots from that particular day in January.

At the end of February we lost a dear friend and client - author, Barbara Bickmore. We miss her terribly, but she lives on in her books. RIP dear friend.
Tony and I spent a beautiful February day on Whidbey Island. We found this wonderful beach on the west side. Here are a couple of photos from that day.

March must have been a bit busy.

My friend Kathleen Kaska and I did a talk for the Skagit Valley Writers League. We make a pretty good team, if I say so myself.

Tony and I spent an evening looking for a field of daffodils at sunset, instead we found a field of snow geese.

We did our usual Sunset at the Bridge. This particular night was brilliant in color and a tugboat graced our images just as the sun was setting.

We went to visit a friend in Lynnwood and decided to make a day of it, so we drove down Whidbey and caught the ferry to Mukilteo.

The highlight of April was our trip to Oregon. We took Betty (our little 91 yr old) to visit her god-daughter, Jill, in Fall River (just outside of Bend, OR.) While Betty and Jill took a day to visit friends, Tony and I took off and went to a bucket list destination - The Painted Hills. The weather was moody that day - rain, sun, snow, rain, but it only added to the drama of the area.

April would not be complete around here without some tulip photos from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Due to the warm weather we were having, the season was very early and ended early.

May seemed to rather uneventful, but that's okay. The days were getting longer and we had such glorious days of beautiful lighting.  One of our favorite places to photograph is Dakota Creek Industry in Anacortes. They build and maintain large ships.

Tony's mother passed away in June. She was living in Texas and unfortunately Tony was unable to go visit her.

In June, Tony and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. My how time flies.

Tony taught his first Long Exposure class in June.

To celebrate Tony's birthday and also Father's Day - our son and daughter-in-law, and my sister and her family came up and we went hiking up at Artist Point. It was a gorgeous day and special time spent with family.

In July we always go to Shipwreck Days in Anacortes. Downtown turns into a HUGE flea market and it offers so much to photograph.

Here is Tony getting his wheat.  He was sitting amongst the wheat fields at sunset trying to capture that perfect image.

In August, we had a unusual wind storm that knocked out power, so what are photographers to do? They gather their equipment and go out to take photos.

September was an exciting month for me. I self-published my first children's book- An Adventure with Peter and Penny in Hudson Bay. The photos in the book are from my friend Joan Silling, who passed away from cancer in 2014. The book includes fun facts about polar bears, and the story is told from the cubs point of view. The book is great for kids between 3-11, but adults are really enjoying it. It is also on Amazon.

Another highlight in September was a visit from our youngest son, Chris. He lives in Colorado, so visits are usually sporadic and short, but oh so sweet.  And, of course, since this seems to be a photography family - we had to go out shooting.

October was a mix of blessings and sadness.

The month started off with one of my photos winning a Washington State Ferry Photo Contest - the prize was a behind the scenes tour of a ferry.  I was so excited. This is the photo that won.

It got a lot of news coverage, including a large front page spread in our local newspaper.

We did our behind the scenes tour on the new Samish Ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island. We spent most of the time in the pilot house with the Captain, we also got a behind the scenes tour of the whole ship, including the engines room. All I can say was it was incredible.

Here is Tony and I with the Captain.

And here is the amazing engine room crew.

I also got to call into Seattle Traffic to let them know our whereabouts.

Tony and I took one last trip to Artist Point before the season closed off.  Here is Tony taking a photo.

Here is the photo Tony was taking.

In the middle of October, our little 91 yr old (Betty) got sick with an infection. It was touch and go. She spent two weeks in the hospital. As her health care power-of-attorney, and her friend, I spent a lot of time next to her bed side as we began a long battle of trying to get the infection under control. In November we had to put her in an assisted living facility and on hospice, thinking the end was near. She is now off of hospice and somewhat stable. She is still weak and needs help for a lot of her physical needs, but she is doing therapy and giving it her best shot.

It was a reminder that life can change for any of us so quickly. Today we take it one day at a time and are grateful for the time we have.

As we closed 2015 - I try to reflect on what was wonderful about the year and what to be grateful for, but to be honest, I am just so glad it is over.  It seemed like the last few months of it were a mix of tragedies, violence in the world, and loss for so many. On December 29th, right before midnight, a 4.8 earthquake shook things up in our little part of the world - it was almost as if the universe needed to send out one more reminder that things change. As we move into 2016, change will happen, it's inevitable, but with change sometimes comes opportunity and growth. So here is to 2016 - may it bring you opportunities and growth.

I end 2015 with immense gratitude - for our two sons, who bring such joy into our lives, to Betty (our 91 yr old) for her support and generosity and becoming a part of our family, for my sister Mica and her family - you are all so special, and for the amazing and supportive community in which we live

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Shut The Damn Door Already...

I am a firm believer in the saying, "One door closes and another one will open." Or, the saying, "Things happen for a reason."
My problem is that sometimes I just don't pay attention to the door trying to close. It practically has to slam shut before I get the hint.

Some people walk away from the closed door as soon as it closes and walk right through the open door, proceeding on, no matter what.  Me – I tend to ignore it.

Some (meaning me,) try to keep going through the 'closing' door, while ignoring the now 'open' door. Even if the door closing is a door I really should avoid, I will still try to go in, while ignoring the door that is opening - regardless of the opportunity it presents. I am not sure if it is stubbornness or if I am just too afraid? Sometimes, I am just clueless.

With me, most of the doors have to slam shut, not just once, but sometimes several times, before I finally get the hint not to go through it anymore. Not only does it have to slam shut, it has to turn the key and lock it up tight, so no matter how hard I try, I can't break in. And then, I probably will still ignore the 'open' door, until someone pushes me through it.

What this really means is: I am not listening to my intuition, to my instincts. Even when they are SCREAMING at me to quit, move on, get out–I ignore them. Sometimes, the bad stuff (no matter how bad) is more comfortable then the unknown.

Today, a door shut. It didn't exactly slam shut, it was more of a quiet-go-away-leave-me-alone kind of closing. It was a door that should have shut, I knew in the back of my mind it should close, but instead of me listening, I waited until someone else closed it for me.

I keep telling myself that I will learn, I will pay attention, but I haven't – at least not this time.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beware of Saturday the 13th

Traditionally we've been programmed to be wary of Friday the 13th, personally I find that day to usually be one of my best days. It is Saturday the 13th that we should be afraid of. Throughout the years, it has been Saturday (not Friday) the 13th that is typically a bad day – at least for me. And, Saturday, June 13th started out to be no exception.

  • The day started off by getting out bed, believe me that was a feat all by itself.
  • Next, the laptop didn't want to work. Couldn't get online, programs would freeze. Finally I had to do a hard shut down and put the damn thing away.
  • Husband decides he wants to be a pain – and not in a could way, which led to arguing. 
  • This particular Saturday the 13th – a family outing was planned with my sister and her family, and our son and daughter-in-law. Sister showed up late and went to the wrong location for the meet up.
  • Son forgot to bring a long sleeve shirt, so decided he needed to go to a store to shop.
  • I had a headache (from arguing with the husband.)
  • Son had a headache.
  • Nephew had a headache and sinus infection.
  • Sister had a headache.
  • Brother-in-law had a sprained ankle.
  • Niece was tired.
  • Who knows what the husband was feeling (we weren't talking.)
  • We decided to take the scenic route to Picture Lake and Artist Point, which meant Hwy 9 North out of Burlington. Just outside of the little town of Acme, a flat bed truck had lost some bales of hay onto the highway causing traffic to slow to a crawl (this ended up being a blessing.) One of the young men was on top of the bales of hay on the truck, was trying to restack them, we passed them without any issues, but when our son went to pass the truck, the young man fell of the truck, landing on the pavement right in front of our son's truck. Luckily the young man landed on his butt and had jumped up quickly, and our son had a quick reaction causing him to swerve, which meant he barely missed hitting the young man. In the meantime, I am watching the whole thing in the side-view mirror and my heart stopped. 

The day, that felt like one-not-so-good-thing after another, ended up with a wonderful picnic in the mountains and a gentle hike to calm our souls (and minds.)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I AM NOT Egotistical, or So I Tell Myself

Most of the time I think of myself as not having much of an ego. At least that is what I tell myself. I have always assumed someone with a large ego, was someone who thought only of themselves.

I have been rereading, Eckhart Tolle's book, The New Earth. There is a section in about how complaining, resentment and grievances feed the ego. Something I have been doing a lot of over the past few years.

In one paragraph it says, "And what is a grievance? The baggage of old thoughts and emotions."

I have found that as I get older, I don't forgive (or forget) as easily as I did when I was younger. I tend to hold onto my grudges a lot longer. I find I have no patience or tolerance for certain situations, or certain people. I blamed my grudge-holding on a series of events that have I gone through, mostly by the actions of others, or perceived actions of others. I was also blaming it on menopause (and still might), but according to Mr. Tolle, maybe I should blame it on my ego?

If I am reading this book correctly, my ego must be a bit large, no wonder it is such a nuisance. It has also become a hindrance to how I live my life, more importantly – how I feel about myself, and my life.

One thing I have found frustrating while reading this book is – he doesn't really tell you 'how' to deal with the ego. He gives a lot of examples of what the ego enjoys and lives off of, but not how to control or deny it. At least, not in a way that I can comprehend.

Am I egotistical? I suppose it someways the answer to that question is - Yes. But, then aren't we all?

Maybe once I get through menopause I can let go of those 'old' grievances and therefore deny my ego its supper? At least that is what I tell myself...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nothing Else Matters

I am a worry wart. Have been since day one. I fret about the future and worry about the past.  As I grew older, I have tried to condition myself not be a worry wart but it's a hard habit to break. Logically I understand the power of positive thinking, but it's a difficult thing to do for someone like me.

The other day we were driving through the farmlands on the way to town, a drive we have done so many times. On the radio, a song was playing, the lyrics were "Nothing Else Matters." The song (normally sung by Metallica), was being sung by a woman and I got lost in the lyrics. As I listened, I realized she was right, Nothing Else Matters.

I was gazing out the car window and the evening light was lighting up the hills. The trees, full of Spring growth, were swaying in the breeze as if dancing to the music, and the farmlands were rich with the beginning of new crops. I found myself awestruck by the glorious beauty whizzing by as we drove down the highway. The lyrics were right -  how could anything else really matter?

Why fret about the past, why worry about the future, when surrounded by the beginning of new life and the beautiful landscape that God has generously surrounded us with.

I have lived in this amazing valley for ten years now and I have enjoyed its mix of water, islands, farmlands and mountains, but it wasn't until that moment, while listening to that song and my mind opened up, that it hit me - how blessed we really are. It is the here, the now that matters.