2017 Recap and 2018 Plans

2017. Politically…bleh. But, on a personal and professional note it had a lot of highlights.

  • I went to Yellowstone National Park for the first time and experienced -25F temps…
  • I went to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. I saw polar bears and penguins and lots and lots of beautiful ice…
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  • I went to beautiful Assiniboine Provincial Park and photographed in weather from overcast and snowing to blue skies and dry…
  • I turned thirty…
  • I got published! Multiple nonfiction pieces, and my first short story sale: linkies here
  • I finished my novel…
  • I pitched my novel at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference to two fabulous agents, and they asked for pages!…

I’m probably forgetting some things, and there are others that I can’t quite share yet, but overall, a big year for me.

Going forward…

Week 1-Open Posting

Week 1- Open Posting. A shot of Lake Magog and the mountains surrounding it. Taken in September 2017, a few days after the featured photo up top.

I’m going to focus on only one photography challenge, the Bob Noble one (not sure how well that link will work as it’s a closed facebook group, but I think people are still welcome to join?). I made it a about 2/3 of the way through the 2017 challenge. The schedule is more relaxed this year, which will hopefully help me get all the way through it.

This year, a personal photography goal is to get through processing photos from my trips. I have a woefully neglected smugmug site where I’ll be putting some photos, as well as some on my facebook page. I haven’t been on flickr much so I’m hesitant to point people there to see my photos.

2017 was the year I devoted to the Tempest Challenge, where you “take One Year off from reading fiction by straight, white, cisgender male authors and instead read fiction by authors who come from minority or marginalized groups.” I very much enjoyed this challenge and could/should devote a post to my picks from the last year. I highly recommend it.

This year, I’m doing two reading challenges that somewhat overlap. The Book Riot 2018 Read Harder challenge, and the #BadAssReadingChallenge2018 (facebook group). A tentative plan for the blog is to do monthly recaps of what I’ve read. I got back into comics/graphic novels during the Tempest Challenge, and am happy to see a few themes in the Book Riot challenge devoted to them.

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Onward into 2018!

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A Roundup of Links

Let’s be real–you’re all here because you want photos. Here’s a polar bear from my recent trip to Svalbard, Norway.

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Happy now? I took 2400+ photos on the trip and have barely scratched the surface on culling or processing, so it’s going to be a while.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick roundup of links for some of my recent essay publications.

“My Family Isn’t Built By Blood,” an essay on the representation of adoption in speculative fiction. Available in the Invisible 3 anthology co-edited by Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj.

“From Able to Disabled: Seeing Disability on FOX’s ‘Bones,'” an essay that expands on my earlier blog post about how acquired disability and the grieving process is represented on the TV show “Bones.” You can find it at The Learned Fangirl.

“Disabled or Just Broken?” published as part of Uncanny Magazine’s Kickstarter campaign for the Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction special issue. This essay will also appear in the issue when it comes out next year. The Kickstarter has already reached its second stretch goal! Please consider backing this amazing project.

We’ll close now with Sleepy Bear.

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Invisible 3 Cover Reveal!

Psst. My name is on a thing. Huge thank you to Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj for this opportunity. My essay on the representation of adoption in spec-fic will appear in the third installment of the Invisible anthologies, due out soon. Click the link to see the cover and list of contributors.

Invisible 3 Cover

My apologies that the blog has been a bit quiet as I have news I’m bursting to share but have to be vague on the details for now. I recently signed the contract for my first pro short story sale to a SFWA-accredited market! More details to come when I’m able to share them.

In photography news, I’ve been plugging along in both weekly themed challenges, but am lagging behind when it comes to the Dogwood one. I’m still behind on getting all the photos from my Yellowstone trip edited (and rather unmotivated since I hate processing).

Here’s a funky shot of one of my angelfish for the Bob Noble challenge. Week 21: Shoot something ordinary and make it extraordinary. Not sure it’s “extraordinary,” but I like how almost bug-eyed the fish looks from this head-on angle.

Week 21- Something Ordinary Made Extraordinary

A Recap of Some Photography Adventures

How is it already mid-February? My 2017 started off with me getting what I thought was a really bad cold, but in hindsight it was probably the flu from hell that seemed to be everywhere in Washington. I recovered (mostly) in time for my trip to Yellowstone with Jared Lloyd (I went on the wild horses workshop with him last spring), and co-led by Doug Gardner. They’re both fabulous and if you’re looking for a wildlife workshop I can’t recommend them enough. They’re excellent photographers as many photog workshop leaders are, but they’re also excellent teachers—which some photog workshop leaders are not. For my fellow writers, it’s similar to how just because a person can write well doesn’t mean they’re automatically a good editor.

I haven’t managed to get through all of the photos I took (a few thousand…), but I have a few to share. Yellowstone in the winter is so fun and pretty! And cold, imagine that. I’d never been to Yellowstone before, or in negative degree temperatures, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Since my only frame of reference for “cold” was the 16-17 degrees Fahrenheit I’d experienced during undergrad out in eastern Washington, let’s just say that -20, -25F on our first morning in the interior was eye-opening. Actually, icicle-on-eyelash-inducing.Photo courtesy of Jared Lloyd Photography.

Frosty Morning

Also, don’t be the person who forgets her snow pants in the hotel on the first morning. Frolicking around in Polartec 200-weight pants when it’s -20F out is a poor life decision.

I’m compiling an album that you can find on flickr, and will eventually get one up on facebook. We saw plenty of wildlife despite the heavy snow in the interior. Bison are everywhere, which can actually make it challenging to get an interesting photo of them. The first morning where it was super cold was pretty lucky for us, because you need the temps to get down that low or lower in order to get images where the bison are covered in hoarfrost. Which was the kind of shot at the top of my list to try and get. Pretty happy with it.

Frosty Bison

Bison don’t quite have the “look of eagles” that horses possess, but they make a good go of it.

The Look of Eagles, Bison Version

We were also really lucky to see a long-tail weasel in its winter phase coloration. Apparently only the short tail weasel gets to be called an ermine when it turns white. Photographing this guy was an exercise in frustration because he was so fast, small, fast, white on white, did I mention ridiculously fast? For legs that are only a few inches long these things can fly across the snow. We were fortunate to get about 20+ minutes with him as he hunted for rodents sleeping under the snow.

Long-tail Weasel

Others that I don’t all have up yet are foxes, river otters, coyotes, bald eagles and a bunch of other birds, bull elk, bull and cow moose, mule deer, bighorn rams…and I’m probably forgetting some others.

Week 6- Anything Blue

On the writing front, draft zero of the novel is nearly done. If all goes according to the outline (ha!), then there’s three chapters left. I was able to get into session 3 for Rainforest Writers in early March, so the plan is to have the draft done and start typing it up (2/3 of it have been handwritten because I’m weird like that) at Rainforest. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve never been to the Rainforest retreat/workshop before, or Lake Quinault, and I’m looking forward to both the writing and photographic opportunities.

Onward to 2017

Took a look at my “resolutions” blog post from January, and thought I’d do a bit of a recap/goals for next year. As far as my resolutions for 2016 went…well, the blogging once a month almost made it. I think I missed twice, but also posted more than once a few times too. So, let’s call that one fulfilled.

The Writing Goals. I did succeed in having at least two short stories on sub at all times. Yay. As far as the whole, have an entire draft of the novel written and polished and out for querying. HAHAHA. I’m a sweet summer child. In fairness, I ended up scrapping the novel I’d started earlier this year, and started fresh in May. I’m almost finished with the last chapter in the second act, and according to my outline, Act 3 chugs right along. Not that the outline has changed…a lot…during the process… I wanted to have at least the second act finished by the end of the year, but I’ve been hit with a nasty cold/fever and there’d probably just be pages of characters sitting around being pissy that I’d have to fix in post. I wrote a tiny bit of flash, but that’s a goal that will carry over into next year.

Read More. I’ve read a lot more this last year than in previous years, I think. What I might do is start keeping a list of what I finish in 2017 so I have hard numbers to look back on. I have a ton of YA and novellas stockpiled, so 2017 might be the year to tackle those. I was terrible and didn’t do any reviews on goodreads…bad me. It feels kinda weird reviewing books of people I know/might know in the future. Fellow writers, do you have this issue? I need to make an account that doesn’t use my name.

Weight Goals. So, that was a total fail. Oh well. I think I gained two or three pounds over the last year. I think I also need to accept that the way I exercised in my teens doesn’t apply anymore. I’m not too down about this “failure” though because I’m not upset with how I look, and I’ve accepted that post-accident my activity levels can’t be the same. Also, I should probably eat out less. Should. Might. Maybe.

2016 was a great year in exploring my new hobby: photography. Had a blast on two big photo trips, both of which I covered earlier in the blog (wild horses in NC, and the Palouse). 2017 should also be an exciting year when it comes to photography. I have two trips already booked: Yellowstone in mid-January, and Norway in June. I’ve got some photography goals for next year which include two separate weekly themed challenges. Even though I petered out about halfway through the Dogwood52 2016 challenge, I am much more inspired by the “advanced” 2017 challenge list. I’ve also joined a second challenge run through facebook, put on my photographer Bob Noble. It looks a little more relaxed and personal than the Dogwood one since the group will be capped at 150 people (sitting at I think 110 now). As a way to try and stay motivated and keep the blog active, I’ll probably start doing roundups of the photos taken with notes about the images on the blog.

The writing goals from last year pretty much all carry over into this year. I’d like to do a few more writing-related posts. I’ve said before I’d “review” some of the online classes I’ve taken (Gotham, LitReactor, Cat Rambo), and I’d like to get those written. I’d also like to do a post on my slush reading experience (I’m a slush reader for Uncanny Magazine).

Hard to think about weight goals right now when things like breathing and swallowing hurts (curse you, cold) but I’m going to vary up the workout routine more, try and get some more HIIT workouts in, etc. Finding workout videos and routines I can do post-accident has been a process, but I’ve started doing more barre workouts and like them a lot.

Ok, this ended up being longer than I expected. Off to drown myself in tea. I leave you with my first photo for the Dogwood2017 challenge: tell a story using the Rule of Thirds compositional rule. Cogwheel loves watching the fish get fed. Thankfully, we’ve never had a cat that tried to go fishing (though both Beth and Cogwheel have fallen in).

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Anniversary Trip to the Summit House Restaurant

 

Husbeast and I celebrated our five-year anniversary last weekend with a trip to the Summit House Restaurant near Mt. Rainier. It’s a bit of a trek out there, but the drive is pretty and it was a gorgeous day. We got there a little early and checked out the base area of the resort before taking the gondola up. There’s a gift shop (with lots of high SPF products—yes! Snagged some lip balm with SPF +30) and a café, though the café was closed for a wedding. Looks like there are some nice hiking opportunities in the area too, though we didn’t investigate. Restroom facilities are located at the base, and I don’t know if there are any up at the Summit House. I commented to Husbeast that there are a lot of “don’t feed the wildlife” signs, but I didn’t see any animals—not even birds. More on that later.

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The gondola ride is fun, and Husbeast managed it fine despite not being fond of heights. You’re fully enclosed and it’s actually surprisingly quiet once you get away from the landing/receiving points. I can also report that it goes at a pace conducive to hatching Pokemon Go eggs. It’s not entirely ADA friendly, but Husbeast didn’t have a problem with his forearm crutch. The gondola can come to a complete stop if need be, so someone capable of standing transfers with a mechanical/folding wheelchair may be able to make it work. The gondolas themselves are pretty spacious, and the gondola operators were all respectful and accommodating.

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Food was pretty good, and this is the first place where Canadian Husbeast gave the poutine a passing grade. He only needs to go to 6,872 feet to get it again. Pictures of the mountain didn’t turn out great because it was super hazy that day and I didn’t have a polarizer.

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Oh, and remember the “don’t feed the wildlife” signs? The reason resides up at the Summit House,  and people completely disregard the signs: saw a woman dump a pile of seeds in front of her so she could video her kid trying to pet the chipmunk.

Not an inexpensive day trip once you factor in the drive and gondola fee on top of the food, but it’s a fun excursion for people looking to get out of the city.

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Race Day

Ok, that’s a misleading title because it’s not actually about racing. But it kind of is, so work with me here. I missed blogging last month and will try to make up for it with dual posts this month. Going with more photography adventures, so expect picture heavy posts.

I have an uber Awesome Aunt who has always been big on gifting “experiences” rather than things as presents. For Christmas last year, she gifted a “race car experience” to my brother, who we’ll call Little Brother: Race Day 274and he finally scheduled the date and went out to the track yesterday. The website encourages photography, so off I went to watch. He got to bring a friend, let’s call him Friend K:

Race Day 208(not to be confused with the Intrepid K mentioned in previous posts). The company is Rusty Wallace Racing, and uses the short track at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA (it’s almost fair time! Yay). Unfortunately, there’s a tall chain link fence blocking off the track from the grandstands, and visitors aren’t allowed in the pit area (duh).

Race Day 036But, if you climb to nearly the top of the grandstand then you can get an unobstructed view of the cars for about half the track. No cool pit shots or of the cars coming straight on, but this was a great opportunity for me to practice panning. Also a good exercise in controlling shutter speed. The sweet spot in getting detail on the cars but with motion blur on the wheels was tight, and got worse as my arms got tired from holding the camera up. All shot with a Canon 7D Mk 2 with a 100-400mm lens at 400mm. Used a polarizer for the panning shots.

The company had I think 7 cars, and anywhere from 2-4 on the track at a time. The doors don’t open like conventional cars, so the drivers get to climb in through the window.

It’s not a large track so the cars can’t get remotely close to NASCAR speed, but they seemed to have fun gunning down the straight.

Car racing isn’t really my thing, but this was a unique photo opportunity. Awesome Aunt does it again with the cool experiences.

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I’m Not a Landscape Photographer. Also, Dog Photos

Squeaking in here on the last day of June. Oh, and happy belated birthday to my blog. Somehow I’ve managed to blog somewhat consistently for over a year! Finally got some of the Palouse photos edited. Prints available at my SmugMug site: https://jaimeomayer.smugmug.com/. Fair warning: this will be a more picture-heavy post.

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Had a great time over in (at?) the Palouse in eastern Washington with some of the Muench Workshops guys. Our fearless leaders were Mike Brandt and Randy Hanna. Going east of the mountains during a hot spell was a bit rough, but for the most part we were shooting at times where the heat was tolerable (by my “I hate the heat and live in Seattle for a reason” standards). I was also lucky to spend the workshop with a great group of fellow photographers that were friendly and easy to get along with. This was a different experience than the last workshop I was on photographing the wild horses, and eye-opening. I’m new to photography as a hobby—I decided to “get serious” about it back in December and signed up for an online course. Being a noob, I’m still trying out photographing all sorts of subjects instead of carving out a niche. But, I’m beginning to think that 1) I’m more of a nature and wildlife kind of person, and 2) I can scratch landscapes off the list. I like looking at landscape photos, and it’s nice to be out on location and all, but sitting around for two hours waiting for the horses to do something interesting never felt boring. Spending the same amount of time waiting for the right cloud to be behind a barn…yea, it’s not the same. There’s just something about getting up at 4am and then being on location for the next two or three hours, and I’m like…so, barn’s still there. Not moving.

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Or, yep, those rolling hills, not going anywhere.

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The workshop leaders thought it was amusing that I’d tend to get bored and go photograph something like bees…

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…or sit on the ground during all the waiting.

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Yes, getting low makes for a nice, different perspective. Also, spoiler alert, but contrary to popular opinion, my “get low” approach wasn’t so much of a “it must be easy for the short, young(ish) person” as it is me not being able to kneel or crouch after the car accident a few years ago. Sitting is easier. Especially since I FORGOT my freaking Walkstool at home. That thing would’ve been so nice to have on hand.

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I think my favorite part was the night shoot where we practiced astrophotography. That was the part I was most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. Of course, shooting on a crop sensor (I use a Canon 7D Mark II) with a 24mm lens while standing next to a guy with a full frame camera and a rented Zeiss 15mm lens that is nothing but gorgeous—it has a way of making one feel inadequate. Actually, I think everyone in the workshop, including the leaders, were feeling the Zeiss envy. But, I’m still happy with my photos, and seeing how the light-painting technique is done was cool.

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In non-Palouse related news, I can finally post a few shots I took of this cutie pie, Gambit, who is co-owned by my sister and her roommate. Did the photoshoot to get some shots for said roommate’s birthday, which has now passed, so no risk of spoilers.

I never wanted to get into portrait photography since I vaguely hate people, but pet portrait photography I can dig. Consider this my hanging out a shingle. Rates to be determined.

Wish my cats would be more willing models.

Photo Adventures with Wild Horses

Ok, I know some might quibble with me calling them “wild” rather than “feral,” but whatever. They’re one of the oldest herds in America and have been surviving hurricanes and island living for centuries and I’m calling them wild. Nnnyaaaah.

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I’m back from a trip to Beaufort, NC where I spent a week photographing the wild horses that live at Rachel Carson Reserve. The workshop was led by Jared Lloyd, and was a triumvirate of fun, informative, and exhausting, but in a good way. I heard some interest about prints, and I have a bare-bones website (https://jaimeomayer.smugmug.com) up if people would like to peruse some of the “picks” I’ve accumulated.

There were two other lovely ladies on the workshop with me, and we were fortunate to be based out of a house on Front Street, which runs right alongside a narrow creek that separates “Carrot Island” from the residential area. Several times you could look across the street and see horses out grazing. It also meant that we had a nice and short walk from the house to the boat. Jared is a fun guy and is both an excellent teacher and photographer, and all four of us got along well. Which was great, because those 5am jaunts out to watch the horses sleep all morning could’ve been really awkward otherwise!

There are around 40+ horses at Rachel Carson, with what seemed like half of them being what I came to think of as the “waterhole herd.” There are several spots on the island where the horses have dug down for drinkable water (the photos of horses in water is actually saltwater from when the tide comes in and floods a big section of the island), but the waterhole herd tended to hang out around an area that has fresh water on a (relatively) consistent basis. Jared had referred to the waterhole herd as a bit atypical for wild horses, and after being around them (and the others on the island), you can see it. There were three separate harems in the waterhole herd, but they’re all more or less ok with living in close proximity to one another and hang around as one big herd. There were still squabbles…

…especially if one of the stallions decided to test his luck and try to get too close to one of the other guys’ mares, but overall they live together with a weird truce in place.

They dig down pretty deep!

Contrast that against the more typical, “fringe” herds, who tended to have much smaller harems (2-4 others compared to anywhere from 5-8 of the waterhole stallions), and kept their distance from each other as much as possible. The fringe groups were much more watchful and on alert if they saw other horses, and tended to keep to themselves. However, they all need to drink water daily, and that sometimes meant coming into close contact.

One of the fringe stallions is Wavelength, who lost his mares to a stallion called Cyclops (he only has one eye) last year. Wavelength is interesting because his staked out territory is along the coast all the way across the island from where the waterhole herd tends to hang out, and he swims out to grazing areas rather than walk the long way around.  For him, we did all of our photographing from the boat, which made for some cool shots with high key water/sky backgrounds.

We got excited because near the end of our trip, Wavelength appeared to have gotten one of his girls back from Cyclops. Yay! But, wild horses, remember? We also had the sad privilege to see him lose her the following day. They headed inland for water, and by the time we zipped around in the boat and got out to try and photograph them at their waterhole (a different one from the waterhole herd), Cyclops had reclaimed her and Wavelength was far off, swimming back to his marshy area. Hard to say what happened for certain, but we were guessing that the mare got too far in front of Wavelength and at some point he decided it wasn’t worth it to fight Cyclops again and headed back. Cue the David Attenborough narration about the instinct to breed being a constant struggle, and one that this little horse has lost.

HoofprintsWhat you can’t really tell from the photo without something better for reference, is that these horses (ponies really, 11-maybe 15h (I didn’t see anyone on Carrot Island that tall)) have huge hooves for their size. They’re short, stout, and built to last for island living.

We had a bit of a slow week compared to Jared’s previous workshops, as the horses tended to hang out around the waterhole for most of the morning. They got a little friskier in the afternoon, but not as much action as one might have hoped for. Then again, that’s how we knew we were photographing wildlife. Getting up before sunrise and spending the next few hours out sitting with the horses was a nice change for me from sitting behind a computer for most of the day. Crouching in the water when the tide was up, fighting off the evil little snails that have a sneaky way of getting into your shoes…yea, not so much. But being in the water and photographing the horses moving through it is what makes these particular herds so unique.

I have another photo workshop at the Palouse with the folks behind Muench Workshops in early June, so hopefully I’ll have some nice landscape photos to show y’all in a few weeks. I thought I’d have more time to write during the off-hours on the photo workshop, and I guess I did have the time but lacked the energy. Very little progress was made on the novel. I even took a nap! I hate naps. However, I got a lot of reading done. Perhaps Palouse will be different. Meanwhile, I’m trying to churn out some words while I’m home.

 

Photography Fun

A bit of a photo-heavy post here recapping some of my recent photography adventures. Currently mulling over a writing-related post so that will come in the next weekish or two. The novel is finally underway (yay), if also a bit slow-going. First chapter down!

But, on to photography fun: Things I Learned…

Things I Learned Pretending to be a Wedding Photographer

A dear friend of mine had a small courthouse ceremony the other day and asked if I’d take photos during it. Of course, I said. Ermagurd what do I do? I thought. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials, tips, and blogs full of advice and “## Things Every Amateur Should Know About Wedding Photography.” So I did some reading, though not a ton of it was relevant since this was a small, informal ceremony. It helped that Dear Friend is very understanding and it’s not like I had a contract with a bridezilla to deliver perfect wedding memories.

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The main thing I learned pretending to be a wedding photographer is that…I’m not cut out to be a wedding photographer. Based on the experience of my own wedding, plus ones that I’ve attended, a good wedding photographer is unobtrusive. They crouch, kneel, climb up high—whatever it takes to get the good shot, without getting in people’s way. The good ones can slip up to the aisle, quietly kneel down next to a row of chairs, get the shot, and back away. The bad ones go into the middle of the aisle and block the guests’ view. Or get in people’s way. Basically, they’re not unobtrusive. Then, there’s me. “Quietly” doing anything like “kneeling” or “crouching” doesn’t happen anymore post-car accident. I’m working on being able to go down on one knee, but it’s one thing to kneel on a yoga mat that’s on top of carpet, and another to try and do it on hardwood floors. I’m also not comfortable being, shall we say politely pushy, to get the shot. Good thing this wasn’t a “real” shoot because I wasn’t in position to get the first kiss. Also a good thing that the couple was happy to kiss again 😉

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All in all, a fun event and a happy one, but not something I’d want to do “for real.” I much prefer candid shots over poses, and think we got some good ones.

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Things I Learned Climbing a Mountain

Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit—we only climbed partway up the mountain. Elevation was around 1850ft on West Tiger Mountain. Dear Friend and I have been meaning to go on the Poo Poo Point-Chirico Trail hike for a while now, but between the weather and random things coming up we kept getting delayed. Last week we finally made it out, and it was a hike full of the glorious and the awful. Glorious: the weather was great—I think it hit the low 60s toward the end of the hike, nice breeze, beautiful views. Not a crowded hike, but we saw many other hikers and there’s a friendly sort of, as Dear Friend put it, hiker solidarity that happens on the trail.

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The not-so-great: well, Dear Friend is a few months pregnant now and this wasn’t the best trail for a couple of noob hikers to attempt. We made it up, but it’s a gain of 1700ft within just short of 2 miles. As we neared the first launch point (paragliders tend to hike this trail often in the spring-fall), the breeze picked up, and it’s a bit unnerving to see the trees swaying and hear the branches cracking as they bump each other. I’ve already had a tree fall on me, don’t need to repeat that experience. None came down while we were there, though there were plenty of fallen trees on either side of the trail.

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The views from both launch points are awesome.

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The awful part: for me, going up the trail was fine, whereas Dear Friend thought it was torture. We were switched for the hike back down. Thankfully I had trekking poles because otherwise I’d still be inching my way down. The trail is mostly rocky, some are wider, flatter, step-like things that aren’t too bad, but other parts of the trail are an uneven nightmare. Descending was really hard on my ankles in particular, followed by the knees. So, I learned that I’ll need to evaluate future hikes’ elevation gain and assess accordingly because even though the length roundtrip and the ascent weren’t a problem, getting back down was sucky.

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Things I Learned Attending the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Ok, that title’s a stretch, but anywho. Well, first thing I learned was don’t go to the garden show two hours after a monster hike, ugh. However, it was a nice show, though I thought the theme, America the Beautiful, was a bit…I don’t know, I guess vague would suffice. I’m not saying America’s not beautiful, but it’s a big place. Most of the exhibitors went with Pac Northwest themes, which I like because 1) I live here for a reason, & 2) I like green.

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Really, what I learned from the garden show is that it’s an awesome place to see cute ideas for the dream writer’s cottage/shack/retreat. Sadly, I don’t have the pictures I took from last year’s show (they were less-than-great phone shots anyway) because there were some really cool standalone shed-type structures, but this year had some gems too.

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I love the idea of the dedicated writing space. It’s a sort of romantic, dreamy ideal that I love to pieces. The notion of it, anyway. Thing is, I’m enamored with the idea of being spirited away for weeks or months to do nothing but write. I mean, that sounds so awesome, right? Nothing else distracting me but writing, I’d-get-so-much-done. The words would just flow.

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Then I wake up and, you know, remind myself that I’m an adult and know myself well enough that there’s a reason I say that I like the idea of it. I do, it sounds great, but in reality it’s something where the fun factor would wear off really fast—for me. I’m a homebody. I pretty much already have a dedicated writing space…my desk. And, yea, I get distracted sitting at it, but here’s the thing—as much as I like to think that I need a big block of time to get into the groove during a writing session, say 4 hours, I’ve learned that realistically I write in bursts. I’m way more productive if I have a focused 30-45min session (sometimes longer depending on the situation) instead of sitting down with 4 hours of “free time.” If I sit down thinking I have 4 glorious hours, other stuff finds a way to come up. I’ll fall into a social media time suck, or the cats will need snuggling, or maybe I should go practice the violin, or I need to catch up on some reading, or…you get it.

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Actually, this one is probably more along the lines of a writer’s budget.IMG_2316-HDR

There were a lot of cute small spaces that could work as writing spaces, and I adore them. But, at least when I’m in the first draft phase, they’re just an idea that I have to like from afar. In the revision stage, well, now we might be getting somewhere. But, let’s not put the cart before the horse.

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The Dogwood 52 challenge is in its 8th week! Still going strong. Had a quick family vacation in Vegas last weekend and got my Week 8 shot- Landscape: Wide Angle/Panorama. This is a 3 picture stitch of the Colorado River during a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon the husbeast and I went on. Taking off in a helicopter is way more fun than in an airplane. Just sayin’. More photos are on my flickr page.

Week 8- Wide Angle or Panorama