Monday, December 21, 2015

Battle Ground

This last fall I went to "The River Through Time" in Emmett, for the first time. A group of historical reenactors gather to showcase different times in Idaho history.

I took the photos from that trip and made a slide show for the annual Boise Camera Club Christmas party.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving Adventure

First, let me say, "Thank you," to more people than I can name. Thank you for all the kind and encouraging words, your thoughts and prayers, and your concern for my health. I have such a large circle of friends - I feel so blessed.

Tuesday last week, thinking I was having another kidney stone, I went to my urologist. They examined me, gave me a prescription, and I went home. The pain killers that are normally effective with kidney stones, weren't working at all. When my dad came to check on me, I said, "I think I need to go to the ER."

I told them the same things, thinking that I was having an unusually difficult kidney stone. In fact, with all the kidney stones I've had (14 I think), this pain was beyond anything I've ever felt. The ER staff was great throughout the whole process. After some CT scans, they discovered there was no kidney stone. Instead, there was a bleed in my stomach muscle - the rectus abdominus to be specific. My blood had gotten too thin and one of the blood vessels had sprung a leak (I'm pretty sure that's a medical term). There was an 8x18 cm pool of blood, and that was causing the pain.

They immediately counteracted my blood thinners, started fluids and platelets, and moved me to ICU. It was a really difficult few days - really difficult. After some more scans, they discovered I still have a blood clot in my leg, and now I have one in my lung. Since I was off the blood thinners, clots became a big concern, specifically the one in my leg. To keep that one from moving into my lung, another doctor inserted a VCF (vena cava filter). I now have platinum in my body, and as everybody knows, platinum is better than silver, gold, even titanium. Platinum makes me a much more impressive and valuable person now.

On top of everything else, while I was in the ICU I experienced a really high heart rate. Several times it raced to 180 bpm. The staff was very concerned, and I'm not sure they ever figured out exactly why it was happening.

After one more night in a regular room, I was able to come home on Friday. It felt so good to get out of that hospital. Don't get me wrong: the staff was great. The doctors, nurses, and aides were caring and kind. I appreciate all they did. Hospital beds, on the other hand, are horrible. There was no position in which I could be comfortable. I basically got no sleep and no rest for three days, and almost no food during that time. I had no appetite.

But now I'm home. Today for lunch I had some saltine crackers and applesauce! I can't say it was delicious, but it was nice to eat again. And I can't even describe how nice it is to sleep in my own bed again, with my own king size pillows, and body pillow, and a room without any hospital sounds.  It's going to take some time to catch up on my sleep deficit, but I'm working on it.

Next week I'll be making appointments with several doctors, to follow up on the adventure. My prescriptions will have to be adjusted, but I will get back to normal. Next week I'll also start figuring out how I'm going to pay for this adventure. I can't even imagine how expensive this will be. ER + ICU= $$$$

The new prescription for blood thinners is nearly $400 for a 30 day supply, instead of the $10/month I have been paying. There are some options that will need exploring and I know everything will work out.

I could not have made it through this without the support of my family. They give so much to me: time, energy, transportation, funds, caring, love and so much more. They almost all came to visit me in the hospital. Janae, my niece, didn't come to visit, but that was so selfless of her. She has a cold and I have a compromised immune system, so her staying away was the best thing.

Throughout this ordeal I was reminded of something. I'm definitely an emotional person. I've known that for a long time, but I don't always remember it. When I get fatigued, my emotional regulation weakens. When mom, dad, Susan, Steve and Pastor Grant walked in to pray for me, I almost lost it. It was just too overwhelming. Since coming home, it seems to have gotten ... more so. Watching anything online - tv show, commercial, video - anything that is the least bit cute or sweet or sad or happy, I'm overcome with emotion, ready to cry. I don't know exactly why but I've learned it's better to just go with it and not try to control it.

Again, thank you all for your caring and love. I am truly blessed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

What Rivers Mean to Me

Outdoor Idaho does so much for photography in Idaho.

  1. Their shows are always produced so well, as evidenced by literally hundreds of awards
  2. They host a monthly contest on their Facebook page. Each month, for years now, photographers around Idaho have posted images to their page. The best images of the month are chosen as the Iconic Idaho photos. There are some really talented photographers here in Idaho, and Outdoor Idaho helps promote photography in Idaho.
  3. Outdoor Idaho solicits photo essays from their friends. I wrote and submitted an essay about what rivers mean to me, which is now published on their website.

After publishing my book, which was two years ago, I haven't done much writing. I've written a few things here and there, a blog entry or two, but nothing that requires much thoughtful consideration (as evidenced by how this blog sometimes rambles). I decided that in order to be a better writer, I obviously need to write more, and more intentionally.

As an adjunct professor for the NNU counseling program, I've been doing site visits at internship sites. I observe the intern in a session and evaluate them according to a rubric. I added a written summary of my impressions of each intern. It was an interesting exercise for me, to learn how to articulate each intern's strengths and weaknesses, without repeating myself in every summary.

I've been writing book reviews for the Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) Counselor's Bookshelf. The reviews are limited to 2500 characters, so I have to be clear and concise while still summarizing the value of each book for counselors. That's been a good writing exercise also.

I even wrote an essay on leadership for CSI. The entries will be evaluated and judged, and there will be a winner chosen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I even wrote a short story for the Boise Weekly contest - super short in fact. The story has to be exactly 101 words.

I have several ideas about future books, but those will be a long time in the making. I'll let you know when the next book is available.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Award Winning Tomatoes

Back on October 3, I participated in the Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk. There were several Boise walks; I chose the walk centered around the Capitol building in Boise, which has a farmer's market close by. Even though I've been to Boise on a lot of walks, there's always something new to photograph.

Each walker submits one image to their local leader, who then chooses a winner from the local group. This was the image I submitted.

Paul, our local leader, chose my image to move on to the next round. In the next round Scott Kelby chose from among all the winning images (about 1000) to find his top ten images, and a grand prize winner.

Surprise of surprises for me - this image made the top ten! I think it demonstrates that interesting photos can be found anywhere, even on a table top at a farmer's market.

The rest of the winning images can be found here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Creating New Habits

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted anything since June. I knew it had been a while, but that's a really time to go without having something to say. Of course that's the kind of blogger I am. There are bloggers out there who make a living out of posting every day, or even several times a day. I just can't do that, and no desire to share that much. I think if I tried, most of what I posted would be worthless drivel. So I post when something strikes me as post worthy.

For the past 5 weeks (only 3 weeks left) I've been participating in the Whole Life Challenge. It's been a challenge, creating new habits, trying to give up the old, unhealthy habits. I haven't responded to the challenge as well as I would like to have, but I'm definitely becoming more aware of the things I did without being intentional about the activities. I'm clearly an unhealthy eater, as demonstrated by my over-weight-ness. I haven't weighed during the challenge, but I'm sure I haven't lost any weight, which is disappointing. Although I shouldn't be surprised - I've eaten too many of the restricted foods (according to the challenge rules) and not enough of the recommended foods. And when I do eat the good foods, my portion control is poor.

And yet, I'm becoming more aware and making changes. In the past I was most successful when I diligently tracked my food and my activity. So I'm doing that again. I've eaten some food that shouldn't be consumed by someone trying to be healthy, but I recorded them - calories and fat and sugar, etc. And there have also been times that I didn't eat something because I didn't want to record it. Apparently it's a good incentive for me.

In November, I'll be adding another tool to help create healthy habits: a fitness tracker. I'm the kind of person who tends to do a lot of research before I buy something. There are so many fitness trackers out there, how does one choose?

I found one that I think is going to help, that will track all the activities that I regularly do. The MOOV Now. It's priced well, has a lot of attractive features, and I have to start somewhere. I guess I'll see how it turns out. And if you use that link above (or this one: ) to buy, I get $5 off mine.

Here's to a healthier me - eventually.

P.S., If you're interested in the Whole Life Challenge, there will be another one starting in January.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Golf is Hard

You may know that I used to be a golf professional (not a professional golfer - there is a difference). I worked at a local course, teaching lessons, taking green fees, rerounding carts, etc. I left the golf business to return to graduate school, and when I did my time spent playing golf decreased.

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the golf became even more scarce. I'm sure at one point I went more than 2 years without touching my clubs. Now, I'm back to playing again. I play 3 or 4 times per year now. And my game is a LOT different than it used to be. I no longer know how far I can hit a club. I have to swing more slowly, and more weakly, because my hand strength is so restricted by the RA. My stiff joints also affect my range of motion.

And yet, I'm back to enjoying the game. I have fun now. I lost that feeling for a long time. It's not about the score anymore; it's about being with people I enjoy, smelling the newly cut grass, feeling the solid contact of ball and club, listening to the sound of the ball in the hole.

Friday I played (for the second time this year) in the NNU Legends of Golf tournament. Since we were playing a scramble format I knew there wouldn't be much pressure on me. I could play easy and let the other guys hit the aggressive shots. However, I ended up hitting the ball harder than I should have. Somewhere in the first few holes, I hurt my left arm. Thinking back, I can't identify the particular shot that caused the injury. I probably should have stopped after the first 5 or 6 holes, definitely should have stopped after the first 9, and did stop with three holes left, just putting on those holes. Those last three holes, I couldn't even hold the club. I had to putt one handed on the last hole because the pain in my left arm was so great.

At the end of the round I could see the swelling in my arm. It wasn't until Saturday night that I realized how significant the injury was/is.

That is an arm-size bruise - all the way from my wrist to my elbow. Pretty isn't it?

I can't turn my hand to the outside, I have no grip strength, and I can't rest that arm on anything.

I will definitely play golf again this year, although it might be a few months before I try again. And next time, I'm going to remind myself to swing easier, grip more lightly, and protect my body. If you're my playing partner next time, please remind me of these instructions.

As for the tournament - we won a dozen golf balls for finishing in 3rd Net. Of course they're yellow golf balls and I don't know if I can play with yellow golf balls - but still, we won something.

On a completely different note, I was also teaching a graduate counseling course this weekend. As a former school counselor, I enjoy being able to interact with the next generation of school counselors. I'm confident that these future school counselors are going to impact students, families, schools and communities in an amazingly positive way. They are a great group of capable, insightful, passionate students. I'm so proud to have played a small part in their education and growth as counselors.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What is it about being judged?

I can't figure out judging, and by judging I'm talking first about judging in photography, specifically having my images judged. Herein lies a dilemma. I have people tell me that my photos are good, that I'm a talented photographer. And these compliments and encouragements are not just from my family. Not that I don't appreciate their compliments, but they're my family. They love me so their opinion of my art (or anything else I do), is affected by their feelings for me.

And these compliments are not just from fans of my photography. There are people out there, friends and acquaintances, who like my images. They don't have training in photographic technique, and they're not qualified to assess the technical aspects of my photography.

I'm getting compliments from more than these two groups of people. There are really talented photographers (much more talented than I), who think highly of what I do. I trust that their opinion is not based on their feelings for me, neither is it an untrained opinion.

And yet (the other side of the dilemma), when I submit images for judging, or enter a contest - my images are judged as mediocre, average, ordinary. Sometimes the images are determined to be slightly above average, but they are never exceptional. The images never live up to the compliments that I get. I submit what I consider some of the best work I've ever done, and the judges tell me that I've submitted an unexceptional, boring picture.

So who do I listen to? The judges? Or the people?

I much prefer listening to the people. My friends and family may be untrained, and unable to assess the technical aspects of an image, but I find much more satisfaction in their opinion than the opinion of a judge.

For a time, I quit submitting altogether. I told myself it was because I didn't need the feedback. Then I submitted for a time, but submitted without a score, telling myself that the score didn't matter. Then, after encouragement from some talented photographers, I started submitting (for score) and entering some contests.

Once again, I'm tired of being judged. I don't care about the score and don't care about the accolades. Or do I? I'm finding it difficult to answer that issue. Do I care or don't I? It's a good issue for self-reflection, and I think until I determine the answer, I won't be submitting images. I will be showing my work, to friends and family. Maybe I'll just be deceiving myself by not accepting critique from "expert" photographers/judges, but I don't mind living with a little self-delusion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Downtown Nampa Photowalk

I'm teaching a photography class for the Nampa Rec Center. Saturday I took the students downtown for a field trip. We made sure to explore the alley ways. I find them more fun to explore than the store fronts. Even so, downtown Nampa has some beautiful buildings.

I started out the day, alone before sunrise, photographing the new Nampa Public Library. I think it's a gorgeous building. This first image is a stitch of about 30 images, and I like the result. I think I still need to work on the yellow interior colors - it's just not the right color. But the stitching worked really well.

I don't very often create images like this, but when I was playing with one of my plug-ins, this double exposure treatment jumped out at me.

The students were shocked that I would touch this chair. But it wasn't in the right spot so I had to move it.

Light painting, shadows, tree, light pole, blank wall - it wall works together.

My favorite bike shop.


Black Magic Canyon - Return Trip

I think Black Magic Canyon is one of those places I could photograph every day, for years and years, and never run out of new things to find. Dan Mottaz and I went down shortly after my solo trip. It was a good day shooting. Even though I'd been in these sections of canyon before, the light this time was different, the shadows and highlights different, the textures different and the results different. And I think this set of images is better than the previous ones I've taken there.

Clearly I prefer monochrome images for the BMC textures and shapes. However, sometimes the colors are so intriguing, the result just has to be in color. I like this first one for the contrast between the cool blue background and the warm coppery foreground. There are some forms in the canyon that are sharp, pointed, almost knife-edge like. But there are also these smooth, curved forms that are so organic.

I'm not sure how this image came out so golden, but I love the result. It must have been a combination of the light we had and the reflecting light off the canyon floor. This one took very little post processing.

There are several things I like about this one.
1. It's a small detail. Even I, who spends too much time looking for small details, almost overlooked it.
2. The color/warmth contrast between the blue and gold.
3. The diagonal line that creates energy from a subject that is decidedly not energetic.

Back to the monochrome. The lines and shapes are what always draw my attention.

Yes, I placed (and balanced) that rock there.

And this one too

 Two views of the same formation, each with slightly different perspective, and different feel.

These last two I had printed and are now hanging on my walls. The final image might be my favorite of the day. Of course that could change tomorrow - such are the tastes of an artist.

Nampa Tractor Salvage

Obviously I'm not a consistent blogger. Of course that mirrors my real life: I don't have much to say most days, and I don't have much to blog most days. But I have taken some photos lately that turned out really nice, so I'm going to catch up.

Back on March 7, Don Johnson arranged for a small group of us to visit Nampa Tractor Salvage. They've been in business for decades, but the need for tractor salvage is disappearing. Mike, the owner, is trying to figure out how to get out of the business, but the price for scrap metal is so low, he can't sell. We photographers were tasked with documenting all the great equipment before it disappears completely. It was a fun day, full of shapes, textures, lines - all the details that get me photographically excited.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorites from the day. While I normally try to do some commentary on the images, I'm not feeling particularly commentary-ish today. Feel free to critique each image yourself.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Black Magic Canyon 2015, Part 6

This the final part of this series, but it's not the last you'll see of Black Magic Canyon. Dan Mottaz and I went down again and I got some more great images. In fact, looking back at this series, I think the next series will be better.

Of course that happens often to me. I look back on something I photographed last year, or last month and think, "What was I thinking? I could have done a much better job.

These images focus on edges. The lighting I had this particular day lent itself well to strong contrast: bright highlights and dark shadows.

These last two images are my favorites (and I think the best) from the whole day. I love the mystery of them. They're abstract, and yet still have a rock-like quality to them.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Black Magic Canyon 2015, Part 5

Although most of the images in this series have been monochrome, let me throw in a color one (and the matching B&W). For me, the shapes, lines and textures of Black Magic Canyon are best revealed in monochrome. I have quite a few color pictures, but even as I look through the catalog of images, it's the monochrome ones that most stand out to me.

Which of these do you prefer? Color or black and white?

I like the highlights and dark shadows of the canyon.

There are two diversion dams (that I know of) on the Big Wood River. This is the northern dam. Industrial architecture can be so beautiful, despite its seeming lack of beauty.