Friday, February 26, 2010

Random oddball details

Okay, I'm a little restless on a Friday night. Starting to feel like I may be fighting off sickness with everything in me; my body is so tired, but I can't stand the thought of going to bed at 9:20 on a Friday night. I can't waste a Friday night. Only have 52 of them this year. Don't mind sharing a few Mondays along the way, but not a Friday.
Three sick folks in my house, not counting me. I feel the headache now. I've already had two rounds this year. The first turned into a chronic cough that lasted six weeks. I never get sick, at least not in recent years. This winter has been different.
Anyway, thought I would come up with a few uninteresting facts about myself. Interesting to someone I hope.
I am left handed, but I eat with my right hand. This may be a learned rite of survival when I was younger, banging elbows with a much older and wiser family member to my left. You see, everyone was right handed except me. A young lefty next to a hungry, older family member gets hurt when the elbows start flying at meal time. I only need my chicken leg popped out of my hand one time. Survival instincts take over at an early age, and I quicly switched hands.
My son Robbie was born a lefty, and he still is in some respects. I remember one day, I'm thinking around 6 or 7 years old, he told me he needed a new ball glove. He decided to start throwing right handed, and he started hitting right handed. I felt a little abandoned, but hey, he does pretty well.
I can figure batting averages in my head. Guess it's from all the simulation games I used to play, plus I'm kind of in to statistics anyway. Should have been an accountant I guess. 2 hits in 7 at bats? .286.
I was on TV one time. Back in the day, when I was a kid, I went on the Tubby & Lester Show, somewhere in Atlanta, and got to walk up to the fake window and get my brown bag full of candy and bubble gum cards. Tubby & Lester were copying Abbott & Costello.
I was in a school bus wreck back in first grade. A pretty big impact, several kids were hurt, including teeth missing, etc. No seat belts. My complaint was I couldn't find my lunch. We were supposed to go on a field trip.
I caught a foul ball at a Braves game when I was a kid. Got a pretty nice ovation, and I'm sure it looked pretty good compared to the Braves infield back in those days. Reached my hand up and barehanded it, then got Ted Turner to sign it.
In school, stating in 4th grade, I plated French Horn through 12th grade, then a semester in college. I also played trumpet in marching band from 9th-12th grade, and then in church for a few years. I run the sound board in church now.
I can hold things in that bother me, and I can do it indefinitely I've found. I'm the one that shouldn't be backed in a corner, but so far it hasn't happened. I can also be very open with someone if allowed to be.
Things I really enjoy include, but not limited to: photography, outdoors stuff, tent camping (haven't done this in quite a while,) going to the beach and walking along the surf day or night, a good road trip, driving through scenic places and stopping along the way, quality family time, writing, reading (no, not 'rithmatic,) sunrises and sunsets, extreme weather (I would enjoy being a hurricane hunter or an oceanographer,) a gentle soaking rain if I'm under a porch and don't have to get out in it, convertibles, church, time with like minded friends, enjoying the beauty of nature, holding hands, ping pong, swimming in the ocean, a good burger off the grill. And many more.
I have never hunted. No interest whatsoever, but turn me loose in the woods with a camera.....
I have a touch of dyslexia, especially if I'm tired. Not enough to really make a difference, but don't ask me to help you with math if I've had a long day. I remember a college test I took; exhausted, I drew graphs a mirror image from what they should have been.
I get, on average, 6 to 6 1/2 hours of sleep per night. I sleep on my side. Sleeping on my back is a bad idea for me; I tend to get choked. I remember sleepwalking twice: Once in Florida at my grandparents when a few of us spent the night outside in a camper. Good thing I stayed clear of the canal. Second time, my mom, with knife in hand, found me asleep in the car, with the door exiting the house standing wide open. I didn't remember a thing.
This will take a part two; I can't remember all of my weird habits in one night because they seem pretty normal to me. But we're all weird in or own way, so I don't feel bad.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chapter One

I'm sitting here once again, trying to rewrite chapter one of my completed horror/suspense novel, reading over the same words that look as though they're chiseled in stone. Or maybe they're glazed over with a clear substance that is somewhat opaque; clear enough to see, but cloudy enough to where I really don't pick out the substance any more. For some jaded reason it all reads fine to me, but not to others.
Chapter One of any book we write is generally a failure, once we look back in retrospect. I'm not talking about writing only, but life. Looking from the outside it's much easier to see the flaws.
I can see this will turn in to a two part writing project; the Nyquil Nightime is beginning to wear me out. This cold has lasted long enough. My mind is starting to get detached from reality, and I'm fighting sleep like a baby. I'm bad about doing that. Goodnight, all.

2/20/10: I'll try this again. No Nyquil tonight, the cold seems to be about gone. Need something for the sore muscle in my back, so a muscle relaxer will be in order. Later.
Did an engagement photo session today; got to walk one of my favorite short trails close to home (part of the session,) and got to drop the top on the car on the way home, after the wind blown hair didn't matter. Nice day. Finally, some pretty weather.
Back to Chapter One. The beginning. Like my session today, the beginning is tough to get through. I spent the first of the session connecting with the couple, learning the language, watching for clues. Conversing, forming a bridge of trust so they could open up and relax. And yes, this was a couple I know well. I never expect the first group of images to be the best. It's like writing in a way. I have to see what works and what doesn't, whether it's a story or a couple I've never photographed.
Ever dream of going back in time with the knowledge you have now? Not necessarily knowing which stocks to buy or even who to date (not suggesting that should change if you could go back,) but the little things you pick up through trial and error, all of which add up to a big deal over time. Facebook has allowed people my age to reconnect with friends and acquaintances, most whom I have not seen in many years. The little things have added up for some. Years of life carve their own peculiar artwork in a person, a little at a time.
The beginning sets the stage for the whole story, so it all begins here. Yeah, we can start over, and most of us do at least once. Or twice. But a carefully crafted beginning can be the beginning of a great story, with loads of good things in the middle, and a nice ending. At least that's how it works in my book.
I remember when I first got really interested in photography, back around 1988. I bought my first SLR from a friend. Not a Canon or Nikon, but an all manual camera made by Sears and Roebuck. I still have it, being the packrat I am. When I first started working with the camera, which did absolutely nothing automatically, my photos were pretty bad. I knew nothing about exposure and I did not own a light meter. I got lucky on a few shots here and there, and just had fun with it. I remember a few years later after Susie and I got married she made a comment that she didn't know why I kept wasting money on film and developing, the pictures were always bad. Well, she was right, I never got Chapter One started on the right leg. I took a mail order photo class, learned how to use the camera, and my work finally started to improve. I rewrote Chapter One, beginning a few years down the road. I'll bet I missed some great shots those first few years.
We can't rewrite the past as we all know, but might as well learn from it and rewrite when necessary. Hopefully we can glean something from those lost years, but if not, rewrite. It's called a fresh page, or in my case, a new Word document.

An Unexpected Turn

I thought of an old friend a few days back; no rhyme or reason, but a barrage of thoughts entered my head. It seemed so real. Like warning bells.

Something feels very surreal when you hear the news. An avoidable death, self inflicted, no warning whatsoever. What goes through the mind in those last desperate moments? Could it be the last few days, or is it cumulative months and years? I can remember the days past of fun, friendship, laughter, so much to live for. Something happened, and I can’t quite put the pieces together. I just don’t understand.

Life has a way of wearing down the spirit, a heartbreak at a time, a disappointment here, job loss there. A relationship that pulls every breath of life out of you, or so it seems. We don’t need one catastrophic event to pull our love for life down; on the contrary, it’s much easier to slowly weave its way downward, one disillusionment at a time. It’s like waking up one day after straying, over time, from your true beliefs and lifelong passions. How did I get here? How did I get this far away from home? Where are the fences I depended on for so long, to keep me on the right path?.

Disillusionment: To lose naïve faith and trust.
Desperation: loss of hope and surrender to despair; a state of hopelessness leading to rashness .(Webster’s)

Death seems an easy option sometimes, an ending to a period of suffering that seems destined to go on forever. The anguish, however, doesn’t end there. How many other victims are yet to surface following a suicide? The family must somehow cope with the loss, and questions that will always remain unanswered.

A mother affects generations to come, for good or for bad. Fathers do as well, but a mother’s love is so precious and heartfelt. The touch of a mom’s love on her child passes to the next generation, through what is passed down. How can a child cope with the loss? Was it selfishness, or something deeply rooted that reached a culmination before anyone saw it approaching?

It takes little time to complete the task at hand. Pull the trigger, slash the wrist, whatever the method of choice. Sadly, if we could somehow require every suicide victim to have a holding period of twenty four hours…… time to think it over; look in to those kind, caring eyes of a loving parent, spouse, or child; talk to a friend who really cares, if only they knew; wait and find out his/her worst fears would not have really have come to pass…..I wonder how many times it would not happen. Those that throw out hints are begging for help and attention; the ones that are full of despair and lacking in faith leave no clues before or after, they only leave unreciprocated questions.

Somehow a romanticized view has emerged; imagine the funeral, so beautiful with the flowers, my favorite, how did they know? The words, oh my, everyone misses me so, if things could have only been different. It will be okay, I’m free now, no more pain. I love you too..

What a tragedy, to believe such a notion. The grieving will be about getting beyond the anger. How could he do this to his family? What will they do? I guess he didn’t care about them at all. Why did she not care enough to be there when her girls receive their diplomas down the road? When they walk down the aisle on perhaps the biggest day of their lives, their wedding day? How could she not care? What an idiot, look at what he’s done to his parents; they both loved him unconditionally. Why didn’t he talk to someone? No one feels sorry for him..

Perhaps she did care, but let the perfect storm brew in her life, unattended. Life can reach a point where you see no way out, whether it’s financial problems, a relationship, health issues, or a bevy of smaller things that lead up to a cataclysmic event.

Can’t live without him, but after you’re gone, he’ll find someone else. I’ll never get out of this financial mess.. Others have, through time and discipline. I’m just so tired, I wish it would all end…..

Without faith and hope, any one can reach this place, and not have an answer. Those that choose to live life on the wheel of fortune, scattering the way of the wind, have nothing tangible to hold on to during their lowest point.

Many of us have had fleeting thoughts in our periods of darkness that remain locked away in a secret chamber somewhere, deep within the recesses of our mind, inactive, yet unresolved. I have thought from time to time how much easier it would be to let a person enter my mind for a moment, to understand how I feel or think about them, to understand how I see the world, through my eyes. But I wonder if my friend would somehow steer into that hidden, locked chamber, seeing the inner parts that aren’t to be revealed, ever. The fleeting thoughts that were subdued, the mistakes that we sometimes have trouble forgiving ourselves for. The little things that can add up to a big thing over time, if allowed to take root and grow.

Everyone needs that special place to go during their trials and periods of desolation. For some it’s a place of prayer; sometimes it’s a close friend that not only understands, but can finish those tough sentences that you are struggling with, reaching for words. Time is also a good healer, if we only allow it to come to pass. Have you ever looked at someone precious to you, maybe a child, parent, or good friend, and flashed back to a crossroad in your life? Think of what you would have missed if your decision had led you down a different path.

My personal wish is that if someone I am within arm’s reach of ever arrives at such a low place in their life, he/she will ask for my help, if I can make a difference. Reach out to someone; Life is too precious. The seasons of life come and go, and spring always follows our winter time. A time for planting and renewal, and hope.

Do they all feel alone? .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

High hopes

This morning my 13 year old daughter, Maggie, was up finishing up her homework at 5:30. No one told her to, she just set her alarm and got started. She's talking about going into the medical field, which will be new for our family; she will will have to be a trendsetter. Her school average is upwards of 99.
My other daughter, Marissa, is also doing quite well in school. She's 13 months younger, and hasn't talked about what she wants to pursue yet. Her average is also in the high 90's.
My 18 year old son, Robbie, is in his second year of college with a GPA of 3.87. He is also now talking about the medical field.
My wife and I have not tried to push any of our kids in a particular direction career wise, although we comment where it's appropriate. What we're seeing, I believe, is the result of their watching our business adventures (sometimes misadventures for sure,) and the fact that we've shown them you don't have to settle for average. There is more than finishing high school, getting a job, and getting married. Not that those are bad things; I think they're all good. But why not prepare for your own future instead of depending on someone else? The excuses come easy as to why you're going nowhere, but they won't amount to much at the end of the day. It's much easier to prepare early on, as opposed to after you get your own place, get a job, and the monthly bills that always follow.
The highs and lows will be much more extreme when you step out, but life is also much more satisfying. I guess it's not for everyone; but remember, it's easier to endure a little pain after a failure than the pain of regret later on for things you never did. After it's too late.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Back to the Basics

I spent today trying to nurse a sore lower back, a result of a photo session I had last Sunday with a very active 18 month old (at least that's where it started, with all the crouching down and laying on the floor, you name it.) At least I rested my back in between photo sessions of the marvelous backdrop created by yesterday's snowfall. Unusual for these parts to get 6" of snow. My drive home yesterday evening was anything but ordinary; I did get home without incident, but a few tense moments with wheels going in the wrong direction made for an interesting 21/2 hour drive. Took my parents 4 1/2 hours to get home. I managed to get some nice photos.
Interesting how perspectives can change so dramatically. Business hasn't been exactly good the past two years, and while I don't consider myself a quitter by any stretch, I'm ready for some r&r time, doing things I enjoy, spending time with family and friends. They're the ones that stick by close when things get tight anyway, right?
I figure tomorrow I'll spend some time writing, but mainly spend time with family. It's Valentine's Day, in addition to being Sunday. That's getting back to the basics for me. Love the adventure of being an entrepreneur, but you gotta run home and touch base sometimes, where everything is stable and predictible. If only for a season.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hiking on 1/30/10

Had a nice day enjoying the outdoors in the North Georgia mountains/the Tennessee border. Went with a friend of mine, Tony Foushi, for an all day hiking/photo op.
We figured we would go as far noth as possible, considering the 1/2 foot of snow the mountains were supposed to get. We managed to reach our planned destination, and we even took the scenic route through unnamed, unpaved mountain roads, although at higher elevations the gravel road became a bit dicey, especially with the light rain we enjoyed the entire day, turning the road into a muddy trail. In places the drop off to our right was pretty severe, so the road was of concern, especially when an oncoming vehicle, usually a Jeep or other type of 4WD, met us on the narrow road. With snow and ice on the road's edges, passing was a chore.
Had so many beautiful photo ops along the way; at one point we turned around to revisit a nice waterfall at the road's edge. Tony got out of the truck and directed my backing up to ensure I didn't go over the edge of what was a cliff at this point, and it was this way throughout the higher elevations.
When r\we reached a crossroad at the top, where we could go on four directions (counting the way we just came from,) we realized only one option was open. The trail we wanted to take had a warning sign; only 4WD. Tony, knowing these roads well, said we needed to heed the advice, in consideration of the steep down hill descent, plus the fact that particular road ran along the ridge line, which meant droppoffs on both sides of the road in places. The trail that went further noth was out of the question, due to terrain and the certainty of deeper snow. Ice was already hanging on tree limbs and shrubery at this elevation, so going higher would have been a mistake. I want to take the higher trail at some point; it goes deep in the woods according to Tony; he has met mountain men on this trail.
Our only option was to go back down the way we came up. We then took Hwy 411 a short distance, and headed toward Jack's River Trail.
This is Tony's favorite trail up here, and I can see why. It follows the river, with numerous small waterfalls that crash down the side of the mountain and spill into the river. Hiking this trail means walking through the stream of water as it feeds into the river. With a steady rain all day, but not heavy enough to park my camera gear, much standing water existed along the trail. Opportunity to be boys and splash in the water if we liked, although the thought of dripping wet socks in the mid 30's temps did not sound enticing. Maybe in the summer. Had to scale rocks in a couple of places, walked through sections of what looked like a wooded forest, enjoying the sights and sounds of the river throughout the hike.
I was bundled up in a fleece pullover, a hoodie, and a leather jacket over that. The sole purpose of the jacket turned out to be protection of my primary camera; the secondary camera stayed in the gear bag I carried. One photo exists of me on the trail. I look like a space alien with the garb on. No way it will ever be posted.
Ran across a couple groups of campers; had their tents set up, enjoying the scenery.
I have photos on my Facebook page from the trip under the "Winter 2010" folder. There is so much more to see in the area, we'll be back soon.
As we reached the truck, a nice snow began falling, as if on cue. We decided to drive a little further up the road, and saw a beautiful waterfall on the right. Just past the falls, a red sedan was spinning its frnt tires in a mud hole, hopelessly buried in the mud. A guy was standing on the hood, a woman in the driver's seat, trying to drive. The sun was quickly disappearing w/no cell phone service, and two babies were asleep in the back. We pulled them out using a chain, and they were on their way. We turned around and headed home, enjoying a heavy snowfall on Hwy 411 for a time until the temps rose a few degrees.
As we left, we looked over our lunches/dinner we had packed, and I gave Tony one of the two sandwiches my wife had made. We then threw everything else in the console, and had a nice buffet between us.
All in all, quite an enjoyable day.

Electronic Media and other notes

Today's methods of communicating are so different from the past, and really, so impersonal. We can, however, reach out in so many ways it's possible to talk, when otherwise you'd be trying to catch each other, however long it takes. I say it's impersonal because you aren't hearing the voice, you aren't seeing the face. Type in a quick note, hope it reaches the intended person.
Had a funny moment today sending text messages to my wife, Susie. I sent a note about how cold and dreary the day was, my ears were frozen, had to pump gas, etc. Her response was "I love u 2." I responded "that's what I meant. wish we were snuggled under the covers, all warm and happy." Here response sounded like her sense of humor, which I think she got from me, in part over the years. She typed "Whatever dad." What I did not realize is Susie had our 13 yr old daughter reading the texts, sitting across from her, and passing it on to her. After my next text, I found out later she handed the phone to her mom and told her to read it herself (nothing bad, but I guess she didn't know what was next, I don't know.)
My point is, we may not know who's really behind that keyboard sometimes. Not saying we need to go back to the old days of nothing but landline calls and letters, but it's worth saying. And what about the hand written letters? I treasure the few I receive, usually a note in a Christmas card. Nothing like someone taking the time to handwrite a truly hearfelt letter. But I suppose you can do the same thing on a pc now, and it's a whole lot easier to edit. And e-mail arrives much quicker, right?

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Inspiration

I'm going to start blogging, probably weekly, about things more personal to me; random thoughts at times, just to let off tension maybe, to put things down that I can't quite figure out in my head because it gets all jumbled up with the other stuff. Maybe the real me will come out at times, who knows.

I like to write at night. I have a completed novel that was written over the course of a year, and it's still in the polishing stage. My inspiration for the book came from a dream I had going on two years ago. An old house, an odd family looking at it, an even stranger real estate pro trying to show the place. I jotted down a few notes that night, and decided no long afterwards that this would make a good story. Interesting how everyone is a good writer at first. Lots of rewrites, a critique group the past six months, and I am now starting to get it.

Writing, along with photography, is my great escape. Not that I want to get away from my life, at least not the majority of the time. I have a good life, I'm blessed, I have a wonderful family and great friends that care about me. But sometimes life gets frustrating, and it helps so much to have an escape; a secret place, somewhere to hide away from everything and collect my thoughts, maybe reel in my sanity for a moment. Writing allows this break from reality, if only for a brief period of time.