12.31.2009

Hank - The story


Hank was a puppy mill dog. Though he's only been a live a bit over a year, he's had little exposure to the outside world - to people, new dogs, and the wonderfulness that is living with a mom and dad who are going to shower you with treats and squeaky toys.

Our journey so far has been intense. We've just passed Week 2, and with it has come some progress. For the first week, Hank's fear allowed him only to sit on the floor, cower, and hide his face. He'd press his little black nose in to anything that was in front of him - totally avoiding both me and the Drummer. He didn't move for hours, barely ate or drank, and had to be forced out the door to try and use the bathroom.

Walking was the first key to Hank's progress. We started really pushing him out the door, and walking him with a lot of speed and purpose. At first, though he followed us, he'd cower when anything passed- people, cars, etc - and sometimes, he'd flip around, jump, and try to escape his collar. I combated this with simple leadership. Eventually, he let that go and continued without the fear.

The second key has been exposure to people and dogs. The more time we spend at other houses with other people and dogs, and with others here, the more he opens up. He is inquisitive and gentle with new people and animals - although he's quick to correct when necessary. He follows me wherever I go if there are others around.

He has begun to bond to me, which has come with both rewards and challenges. He has not bonded with the Drummer, so he perceives him at times to be a threat to our pack. He will growl at him, when he comes home or comes too near to me. Of course, we're working on this - but it remains a little funny to me that anyone think of the Drummer as a threat :D Hank is not aggressive, but fearful and not confident, so the protection comes along with that. He'll progress.

I have been really unable to write about this process until now. I have been overwhelmed with the emotions and trials of this process. I knew that he would be damaged - quite damaged - but I didn't know that it would have been this bad. There were times when I thought I didn't have the strength to work with him, when I didn't know where to start.

I've always known it's better to rescue a dog - but with rescue, you get emotional baggage that you didn't install. This dog was damaged by some jerk somewhere else, and he's only acting on his fear of what's been done in the past. We're uninstalling some major issues and this will take major time. On the other hand, this dog would have been euthanized in the shelter, because no one would have taken him home. We're giving Hank a second chance at life, a young life, and with time and patience, he will make it.

I have been frustrated because this dog doesn't speak - english, of course - and while that's obviously just frustration, I've been lead to better understand the universal language of energy. Trying to give out the best possible kind, not only to Hank, but to those around me. That's the real key to his success, and mine, actually. I have a feeling that by the end of this journey, I will have learned more than just how to really rescue an abused animal.

Hank in Green

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12.15.2009

Hank

Originally, I planned to write a blog about Hank's arrival process, how he got here, and how he's doing, but I'm too exhausted. I will probably write more later, but right now, I'm just not able to do it. Instead, I'll show you this quick photo of him, so that you can send him all of your happy thoughts and love , so he may become comfortable and realize that he's home for good now.

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12.09.2009

This, that, and the other thing

I wanted to share a few photos I took of the front yard yesterday while collecting some images for a final project. I really loved these.

Twins


Color and Geometry


Fall raindrops


Autumn

It's been FREEZING here for the past three weeks, and today, the third day in a row I had the heat on most of the day, I was feeling like I was back in the Midwest again. The Drummer and I went out to do errands and seriously had to get home quickly because we were just miserably cold.

It feels more like this!

Minneapolis

Except, we're still 2k miles away from family, so no thanks, Mother Nature - you can bring the California back now. :D

If you read my earlier post today, you know that we've been approved to adopt our dog. He will be arriving here in the Bay Area either Sunday night or Monday.

We're super excited - well, I'm excited - I think David is, too, but I imagine he's a little overwhelmed on what will happen, since this will be his first time owning a dog. I think once he's here, it will be easier for him to adjust.

Because we had to do a home visit with the rescue group to be approved, I've already stockpiled a bunch of dog items to make our house look "dog friendly". Thankfully, the pet store offers me a great deal on supplies - so, he'll be rather spoiled. The two most important things haven't arrived yet - his crate and his heated bed :D Those will be here tomorrow.

It's a little sad in the house without rats. Sad and quiet, with some extra space. I miss the girls but have already gotten emails from their new owners on how wonderful they're doing. I do feel good that the amount of time and attention we put in to the ratties will be beneficial to their new owners.

This final picture is to show you "the dog shelf". Do not let your attention wander to the large stain on the floor - that came with the apartment :D Instead, you'll see a wicker basket with a toy on top. That basket is full of stuffies, to be chewed and destroyed and strewn about the house soon. It used to be the record shelf, but I advised the Drummer to put them up high away from doggie teeth. Voila! Room for doggie toys and other supplies.

Dog Shelf

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12.08.2009

Approved

The Drummer and I have been approved for adoption! We will be finalizing details today, and I'll let you know when we'll be expecting our new child.

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12.05.2009

Living this kind of life

As December begins, we're approaching the deathiversaries of two people whose lives impacted me greatly. They are two completely different people, from different places, different times, and with very different stories.

Both of these people left in what was, so far, the darkest period of my life, when I was in despair for clarity and direction. These two people's stories ended the exact opposite of each other - one with chance, one with a choice. I sat there in between; trying to be thankful for what little control I had; my good health, my talents, the things my hard work had given me. I found some comfort in the dusky, foggy clarity that kept my life from ending like his.

A few weeks after my second friend's death, I changed. After the most difficult grief was subdued, I embarked on a new journey fueled by the understanding that this is MY life. I am able bodied, intelligent, and a citizen of the free world - and until any of those things change, I am in control of my destiny. I get to decide.

Now, a year later, I'm in a different place. I'm not the girl I was last year at this time, but the path of my life is still in need of a lot of work. This week, particularly, I'm in a creative drought. I have finals due and a massive marketing campaign to design with regard to my business, and neither are getting done. I haven't photographed anything lately. I haven't even been blogging.

I know that these weeks happen, to everyone. I know that I'll probably end up finishing my finals on time, and hopefully, they'll be Ok. I know that I'll pick up my camera again. It's just that now, while I'm in the hole, it's dark.

The Drummer and I went back to Minnesota to stay with his parents for Thanksgiving. While we were there, we visited the Art Institute, which is a gigantic museum filled with works from ancient to present. I love visiting art museums, obviously, and I've been to a few great ones. This visit, however, made the other experiences seem tiny in comparison. I browsed ancient Chinese ceramics, Japanese block prints, Gallileo's writings, and even a real reproduction of the Doryphoros. Of course while the Doryphorous's creator, Polyklietos, and Gallileo are famous and known by most people, much of what I saw there was without a known artist. The works were on exhibit because they are symbolic of times, of movements, important ones, that defined and inspired in myriad ways. These artists may have been well known and beloved in their times; they may have been nobodies. Regardless, they probably never imagined their work being studied and implored by millions of people thousands of years later. Most of the time, they didn't realize they were innovators. They simply lived and created.

For awhile after our visit I was feeling overwhelmed by all the inspirational work I'd seen. I think most artists feel that way - that you want to take from what you've seen to make your work better, but that those artists were masters you'll never be. While walking through the museum I thought I'd come home and create, create, create, but it's actually had the opposite effect.

Two days ago, the Drummer and I went to Target for a few things. The particular Target was a different one than we usually visit, and is designed in the same fashion that the Target by my old job in Redwood City was. We visited the frozen food section, and continued on toward the Christmas candy and supplies on the right followed by the electronics, and the toys and baby supplies on the left. I looked to the right and saw a cardboard display holding lots of different bags of M&Ms - regular milk chocolate, peanut, almond, dark chocolate, and a Christmas specialty - mint. I was then slammed with a a memory - still very vivid, of work friends and I milling that aisle a few weeks before Christmas, two years ago. There was a life-sized pony in the left aisle across from us, built for little girls. My friend Jason picked up the mint M&Ms in disgust.

"These are TERRIBLE. Mint should not be here. Ever."
My friend Ray let out a subdued giggle. "Oh no, how terrible". We always made fun of Jason because he was black and white about everything. This guy hated vegetables, and was absolutely against even eating a pizza that had ever held a veggie, removed or not. He was extreme about his opinions.

I, on the other hand, LOVE mint.

Other things transpired in that aisle, that visit, things that include white fudge covered Oreos, Spiderman action figures and Wii games. It wasn't a visit out of the ordinary. Yet since standing there, in front of the Mint M&Ms, I have been back there, that day.

Those are the things, in the end, that you can't tell someone you'll remember. That you'll miss. I know he probably never imagined that I'd hear his voice so clearly in the aisle of a Target.

We build our lives based on expectations. While there's definitely differences in the exact expectations for different people, the basics are always the same. Success. Notability. Happiness. Long life. Good health. Love. Money. We live our lives with respect to the expectations in which the world runs on. We judge each other and ourselves based on these expectations, regardless of where we started or stopped.

I went to a friend's birthday party last night. She's a dear friend, and one that doesn't have very much self esteem. She's beautiful, funny, and brilliant - she was the Salutatorian of her class this Fall when she graduated from Pharmacy school. Now, she's a Doctor. She told me, almost in passing, that she'd applied to many schools to do her residency - with letters of recommendation from her mentor - UW Madison, UM, Stanford, UC Davis, Mayo Clinic, and a few more. She then scoffed that she wasn't getting her hopes up. I know she'll get one of these jobs. But standing there, she really believed that she has no chance. She's not just trying to get praise. I felt so much pride for her, because I love her like a sister, and to see her making this awesome life for herself makes me feel so incredibly happy for her. She stood there, a Doctor, a non-believer in herself. I stood there feeling like a worthless pile of shit. I haven't even finished college, and she's a doctor. She'll go on to make great money, do something she really enjoys, and live close to her family - who are amazing. I felt like an insignifigant flea with nothing to offer and no real future because I don't deserve it.

This morning, something startled me to visit Emilie's blog. I read many of the posts from November and December...the end. Part of what made her death so shocking was really the fact that a week before hand, she wrote this. I don't think any of us who weren't near her understood how much she was suffering, because she wrote with this fervor for life that was unwavering. She wrote with a passion that most of us with decades in front of us to live don't have. She accepted that her life path would take her in a different direction than others. I have read this article that she wrote for the Catholic Spirit many, many times. That article alone has helped me to understand faith in God, as people should see it, and how I can respect their opinion. And, apart from that, it can be interpreted for someone like me, an Atheist, as well. She's basically saying, what if we let go of what we cannot control? What if we put those things in the care of "the man upstairs" and concentrate on being what we are? Living the life we have?

Maybe Emilie didn't understand it, but long before she wrote that article, she did. She accepted that she was going to die, and her life path was different from those around her. Joy, to her, would be different. Happiness and success - to a young woman with terminal cancer - were not impossible because of a shortened time on earth. They were just different. Found in different places, made absolute in different ways. So many of us read her blog and expected to see pain, anger and sadness because that's what we think someone should feel when their life won't be the standard, the norm, what's expected. Instead, we found someone who had defined her own life in acceptance of what chance had given her.

For the rest of us, it might not be that easy. We don't even know what our life path will be. We, for the most part, don't know when we'll die, how much time we have. We don't know how long our family will be with us, or our friends. We don't know if we'll lose our health in some way that changes us. We don't know if the world will end. My friend Jason didn't know when his suffering would end, and he didn't realize that so much of it wasn't in his hands. He lost track of his life path, and because he was judging himself by someone else's standards, he made the choice to end is. I wonder - had he met Emilie, or someone like her - would he have done differently?

I don't have control over those things. I only have control over what I am, and what I do. Can I do what Emilie did? Let go of what's chance, and put those parts of my path in the hands of whatever makes those decisions? Can I live this kind of life and define success as it pertains to me rather than the greater world? Can I accept that this kind of life is equipped with the difficulties and dreams within me? That I might not start or end like them, so I can't expect that any part of my path will be like theirs?

I know, it sounds easy. But do you really understand it? Have you really accepted with living your kind of life is? Are you making the most of it?

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12.01.2009

Knock on Wood

Well, I know that it is not a good idea to talk about things before they are written in stone, but I'm going to go ahead and give you a little peek at something I'm working on.

Now, I might have mentioned in the past that the Drummer and I would be welcoming a new addition in to our family. I may have also mentioned that we'd have to move in order to do so, but some things have changed with our landlord (she decided she loves us) and we'll now be staying at the current apartment and the bringing new "child" in to our family sooner.

Now, I must say before going forward, there are only two things that are certain now. 1 - we ARE getting a dog; 2 - it WILL be hairless. What is not certain is that this dog will be the one, however, we're hoping he will be, and it's looking more and more to be true:



He is an American Hairless Terrier, he's a year old, and he's a rescue dog.

I don't expect you to croon over how cute he is, because I know some people don't love the hairless thing. He's not a cuddly poodle or happy golden retriever, but that's because the Drummer is allergic to all that fur. I, on the other hand, think he's adorable. I love uniqueness, and these dogs are definitely that. They're also active, long-lived, and pretty small and good for traveling with us.

Anyway, we're in the adoption process now, so wish us luck that this little guy will come home to us before Christmas. I don't want anything else!

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11.20.2009

Updates

Hmm, well, it's been awhile since I posted, so I'll make this sort of an updates posts for anyone out there who has been wondering what I'm doing while not blogging.

My friend Sara came to visit. She's one of my oldest and dearest friends. We had a great time seeing the sites and catching up. There's a lot of things I could say about our visit, but I haven't really been able to create the words on how I'd begin to describe it. There are people in the world, and from what I can see, very few people, who really "get" you, to the point where you can kind of do things and just exist and know that the person you're with is enjoying them the same way. She's one of those people.

Woah.

Sara learning how cold the Pacific is, while walking the beach in the Marin Headlands

Sara and the Redwoods
Visiting the Muir Forest, where there's quite a few ancient Coastal Redwoods

_MG_0433
Hanging out at sunset at Ledson, one of my favorite Sonoma wineries.



grapes
Sara stole these from a vine along the road!

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David and I had been apartment hunting for about the past month. I love moving, but I hate trying to find the right place. They always look better and bigger on Craigslist. We saw some real trash, and a couple of OK places - but overall, the apartment we have now is a great deal, and we're going to stay here. There are other developments on this front but I am not going to discuss them in detail now, because I don't want to jinx anything. I will update soon.

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I have been busy with photo work and design work. I will share some photo slideshows soon, but for now I have been busy working on my 2010 lookbook, and branding materials for my photography business. The lookbook is a price list and portfolio of my work that will be getting printed and bound. I hope to share it with all of you at some point, as I'm very proud of it.

I'm sort of in a corner at this point because about half of my gear is broken. My backup camera and my flash need repair (thankfully if I hold it while I'm shooting, it works, sometimes) , and my portrait lens was destroyed in a tragic incident. None of these things can I right now afford to fix/replace. So, send me positive wishes of getting some good work so that I might be viable to run the business with the gear I need.

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The Drummer and I are going to visit his family in Minneapolis for Thanksgiving. I am sad to not be going home for Christmas, but it should be fun to travel for a different holiday.

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11.04.2009

Family: a Five Act Play and the Case for Gay Marriage

I grew up in a small, primarily white town in middle America. I got a sub-par education at a school more focused on the Football season than the Ivy League. I was raised secular by a Catholic woman who never finished high school and an man who never went to college who never really loved each other, but produced me and entered in to a loveless and destructive marriage that lasted roughly one year.

I spent the first few years of my life wondering where my Dad was. I spent the first 10 years of my life moving from apartment to apartment, my aunt's trailer, or my Mom's next boyfriend's couch. When that boyfriend got my Mom pregnant, and then proceeded to abuse her, we moved in to a one bedroom apartment where we shared a bed. The night my Mom went in to labor with my brother M, my friend's Mom came to pick me up, and proceeded to try and explain to my 7 year old self and my 6 year old friend that babies came from the cabbage patch. The next morning, I was taken to visit my Mom, and my new brother, and that night my Mom and I shared the "couples dinner" that is a gift to the parents of each new baby born at that hospital. During our dinner, my brother's Dad burst in to the hospital room, demanding and cursing my mother. He broke in to our house and blamed me. Custody battles ensued, and I testified, at age 7. A year later, he threw my Mother off his porch, breaking her arm. They were awarded joint custody, and my brother lived with us one week, and his Father the next. These two individuals, these two parents, who never married but produced a child together, raised that child for 16 years without ever speaking in person, without once making a joint decision until the day that his father left him at my Mom's house, at age 16, and told her "you can have him. I don't want anything to do with him anymore. I'm done."

My sister J was born when I was 10, to my Mother's new boyfriend who moved in with us a year before. My brother M was three. This boyfriend started like all the others - nice and interested - but by the time I was finishing middle school I feared for my mother's life - and mine. He worked long hours and came home late only to begin rousing, violent fights with my mother over money and infidelity. I stepped in many times, once to remove his hands from around her neck. When I was 14, he threw me into a large framed print, breaking the glass against my head, and later, to the ground with my arms twisted behind my body. My Mother denied it. I moved in with my Dad. This boyfriend later blamed his continued emotional abuse on me and my place in the family on my choice to leave the house. When I was 17, and my mother was 40, my brother K was born. When I was 18 and my mother was 41, my Brother J was born. I drove her to the hospital, because this boyfriend was at work. I could describe to you these two years, how this went, but I can imagine by reading this far, you already know. Following the birth of my brother J, the relationship began to crumble. Three children was too much for this boyfriend, who never wanted kids, like he'd told my sister - he wanted my Mom to have abortions. He wanted my Mom to abort her, and the boys. It was right around the time that K was born when he had "the affair" - the one he secretly rented his own apartment for, in the city he worked in, the one he lied about until she finally kicked him out when I was 21. My brother M was 14. My brothers J and K weren't out of diapers. He skips his child support, sees his children once a month or less, and has not, since leaving, spoken to my brother M - the 18 year old he helped to raise from the age of two.

For the past 5 years of my life, I have watched my mother and her children live off her salary as a waitress. I have paid bills for her. I attended court with her, when he said he couldn't pay child support. I've cried for my sister, for my brothers, and paid for new shoes, field trips and instrument rentals. I've cried for myself, when I felt the stress of my place as their big sister, the one who isn't there, who can show them that life doesn't have to be like this. I have watched the cycle - my mother, her sisters, my cousins, my siblings - continue.

Thankfully, my Dad's re-entry in to my life also brought my Stepmother, who has been a driving force in my life. She and her family - who took me in as their own - became my family, though we weren't related through blood. I am estranged from my maternal family, and thankful for the ones I acquired through marriage.

When I was 22, I married the Drummer in a secular ceremony. Most people said we were too young. He brought me in to his family, one that scared the daylights out of me when I first met them. Married parents, who seemed happy to be married. A full sister who married and produced planned, absolutely loved and beautiful children who know me as their Aunt. Aunts and Uncles and cousins who celebrated together, in the SAME HOUSE! These people have become some of the most important people in my life, who have taken the time to know me, understand me, and support me in ways that still come as a pleasant surprise. They individually will probably never quite know how much the small things they've done for and with me, that might seem normal, have been extraordinary to me and my life. The Drummer taught me to trust, and loved me harder when I was scared. He taught me that cycles don't have to continue - that love can exist, that family is something I can have, even if it is just the one I create. He gave me somewhere to go - someone to depend on, who will always be there even when things are bad. We've had hard times, difficult spots in our marriage, but when I think about this family we have made together, I want every person on earth to have it. I want every person, if they want to, of course, to be able to be loved and give love, to create and be a part of a family regardless of what life has dealt them.

Family, to me, is relative. I say this because my family is 1/3 blood and 2/3 marriage.

My story is only one of of which illustrates the fact that one man and one woman does not a happy family make. One man and one woman created me, an unwanted, unplanned child who changed the path of that one man and one woman's life. The gender of my parents could not change their emotional unpreparedness to raise a child, or make their marriage successful. Furthermore, my Mother's subsequent relationships, all that were between a man and a woman and produced children - were failures for the same reason.

If this one story is only one of so many, why should we believe that marriage is only for couples that consist of a man and a woman? Why should we believe that two men, or two women, who ARE prepared for parenthood, who ARE prepared for the emotional contract that is lifelong companionship and family creation, are an abomination and destructive to the institution of marriage? Doesn't it seem, in fact, that marriage and family are more about the individuals, rather than their gender or their religion or how they are related by blood?

When I began writing this post, I wanted to discuss statistics. In a country where the overall divorce rate is near 50%, a recent study found that in states where same-sex marriage is legal, the rates are lower - therefore showing stronger marriage retention in those places. Another recent study concluded that fewer Atheist marriages end in divorce. I wanted to bring up the fact that out of my close-knit group of middle-high school friends, only two had married parents, making broken heterosexual families the norm. These are just numbers, just case studies, and I know that no mind will be changed by statistics alone. Yet, considering these quick facts - doesn't it seem like "traditional marriage" means "likely to fail"?

With the voter's rejection of Maine's Marriage Equality Law last night, 31 states have now banned same-sex marriage. I could rant now for thousands of words on why this is a rampant and embarrassing blow to human rights, but I've already done that. I cried in 2006, when my home state of Wisconsin passed legislation to ban marriage equality, and have protested and fought and cried again here in California with the legalization and following passing of Proposition 8. This IS a violation of human rights and Constitutional rights, and there's no room for debate.

I've left religion out of this post until now because as an Atheist, my opinion is formed on my humanist ideals rather than any religious teaching. I do not know what the bible says about homosexuality. I do not know what the Koran says about homosexuality. I do not know the logistics of any religion's stance on homosexuality, because it doesn't matter. The United States of America was created on the separation of Church and State. As an Atheist, I am horrified when I read news stories of other Atheists or citizens taking away free worship rights from religious people. I think freedom of religion means exactly that - freedom of religion. You practice how you want, I practice how I want. It also means that if your religious belief factors in to your political opinion, it will infringe on someone else's freedom of religion. Banning Gay Marriage because it is religiously wrong to you is the same as banning marriage between two people of another religion. This is not a Christian nation. It's not a Muslim nation. It's not a Jewish nation. It is America, and all are free to practice and live without discrimination.

But now, for me, this battle has become personal. Personal because I'm sick and tired of "Save Marriage: Protect Families" movement telling me that traditional marriage and family should be saved from the infiltration of same sex couples. Traditional marriage - with it's 50% failure rate and this generation of children like me - should not be praised or called an institution. It's an embarrassment and a failure, one that needs to be saved from itself. The American Family is dying, and these people crying "Save Marriage, Save Families" are taking away the chance for GBLT people to create families, support their partners, and adopt and provide financially, physically and emotionally for children. Why would you ever think that was right? Why are we so busy being self-righteous when what we really need is to make marriage and family the norm, for all people?

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10.26.2009

Fall

web

Every year, I miss Autumn in Wisconsin. I miss the smells, the cool, brisk air, the colors - these things do not happen here. There are oak trees that shed their leaves, and are currently doing so, and that's a nice little piece of the season.

I can't believe it's the end of October - 2009 has gone by so fast. I remember spending the last month and a half of 2008 cursing it and waiting for it to be over. Here we are, in the final months of this year.

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10.25.2009

one of those weeks

Devil Dog

This is Felix, my friend Samara's pitbull/great dane/lab mix puppy. It was a "right place, right time" type of situation.

I am just not having a good week. Most of it is self-induced. My head is fuzzy and I'm totally lacking any ambition or getup-idness to finish the myriad tasks I have on my plate. I feel overwhelmed not in that stressed way, but in the way that I simply ignore everything and put myself in to an imaginary world where I don't have to think about my real responsibilities. Certain things happening around me are leaving me wishing that I could move forward with certain life events and future situations, but then I'm unable to make a clear workflow for getting to those points, further fueling the cycle.

This, along with other symptoms and situations now indicates to me that I'm in a down cycle, in which my functions are really affected by depression, as it presents in me. The older I've gotten, and the more time I've spent working on my cycles and trying to bridge the gaps between mania and depression, I have been able to eliminate a lot of the negative thinking patterns associated with depression, where things get really bad - rebellion, anger, suicide, and the general inability to understand how the person who is depressed is not the person who is normal. I have gained a very clear and powerful sense of self worth and importance (which must be separated from self confidence) that always helps me to see that life itself is very important, and I as a person am very important. I am proud of that. However, those things haven't eliminated the depression - just made it evolve, thus sometimes seeming foreign to me when it occurs.

I don't ever want to use manic depression as an excuse. In fact, despite overwhelming evidence and fact as well as a family history, I spent much of my life denying it - and still now, when things are bad, find a reason to blame my self-aware stupidity instead of an environmental and genetic disorder. Unfortunately, a major symptom. That's probably the main reason that I've had such a difficult few years, years of self-exploration and development in which I'm forced to face the really, REALLY ugly side of this condition. It's not an excuse, because I AM in charge, even when I'm depressed. I am in charge, even when I'm manic. There's no one who can make decisions for me, or be inside my head, or make it easier for me because this is life and we're all responsible for ourselves, even if it's a tougher assignment. And that's really the choice. I can stand up and figure shit out, or I can cry and live in an unhappy prison of my brain. Really, I feel this query is no different than the one everyone on the planet is faced with. Just slightly tilted.

I was listening to Philosophy Talk this morning, and interestingly enough they were discussing the topic "how important is self identification?" Such an ideal subject for my morning. The interesting antidote on the table was Alzheimer's patients, who often have a different take on how they see their future self being treated at 40, and how their 70-year old Alzheimer's mind sees that differently. They are the same person, one argued, but the disease has incapacitated the person beyond what they are, therefore, the person they were before Alzheimer's should be trusted. Not true, said another - do we trust what the infant or toddler versions of ourselves say when we're 25? Or the 25 year old at 40? No - these are evolutions in personality, and even though we are the same person, those evolutions also change our identity and should be taken into consideration, even if they a a far cry from the normalcy of the past person.

Herein lies the true painful realities and debated realities of mental disorders. Are these perceived illnesses simply personality, different than those of most? Are mania, depression, anxiety, etc. no different than generosity, selfishness or trustworthiness? Our identity?Are these horrible symptoms caused by our brains simply being wired in a certain way, one that can be re-wired without the aid of drugs? Can we just accept, take responsibility for what we are, how we are, and change what we want to change? Should we be held responsible for doing so? When are we just a lost cause?

I struggle with this. I remember my Grandma, who was sick, though I didn't realize the full implications of her disorders until she was living her final days. I loved her. She was loyal, loving, and generous with her time and money. However, she was unstable. One day she'd come to our house with bags of stuff - toys for me, household supplies for my mom, whatever she'd felt like we needed. Once, she brought me a Beta fish and tank with supplies, for no reason other than she knew I'd love it. Soon after, my Mom would be trading shifts with my Aunts on trying to get her out of the bathtub, where she'd stay for days in a crippling depression. I'd ask how she was feeling and she'd answer, "not good. I'm just feeling very bad, not good." My mom would spend hours on the phone, discussing medication with her doctor - the giant ziplock bag of pills she was prescribed often had adverse reactions to each other, and she'd go back and forth through different brands, trying to find the right cocktail. Unfortunately, she never did.

I have so much. I have a wonderful, wonderful husband who understands me, loves me for it, and gives me the support I need. I am creative, and talented at certain things. I think I'm fairly intelligent and focused on becoming moreso. I have some great friends in many places, a couple of loving family members and fantastic in-laws. I live somewhere culturally and creatively diverse where almost anything is possible. I have a home, a car, and a bed to sleep in.

I get so entirely frustrated during times like these, when the depression, the fuzziness, the carelessness that goes along with it compromises both the things I've worked for and the ability to see what I have. I am tired of fighting, tired of struggling and tired of explaining myself.

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10.24.2009

another point of view

love in the morning

Little things sometimes tell stories.

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10.22.2009

Peek-y

I posted a new blog at my photography website, www.nissanicole.com, but for anyone who doesn't check that out, I am also posting a little peek at my last wedding of the Summer. I will post a slideshow when I'm finished, but I wanted to share this picture with you.

Diana and Jeff

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10.19.2009

it's three o'clock...do you know where your chili is?

There's a number of things I should watch on Tv at 3 a.m. while I'm up working and need someone talking in the background to keep me awake. I'm a pretty big fan of crappy television; Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, random childbirth shows and HGTV have always been favorites of mine. However, for the past few months I find myself spending most of my crappy tv watching time on the Food Channel.

I am on my own journey of learning to cook, so a lot of the shows are really helping me be more confident in choosing certain ingredients and trusting myself in the kitchen. I have become wholeheartedly obsessed with Iron Chef America, which is sort of what I try to do every night - pick something and then make a meal out of it :) Anyway, I know I'm sort of late to this party, but I'm totally hooked, people. Bring on Kitchen Stadium, please.

Now, that being said, I have also decided that I can only watch Food Network when I'm eating. Otherwise, I drool all over myself watching these amazing cooks create food I'd pay $40/plate for in Vegas. However, I have not been following this rule.

It's almost three, and I'm just finishing my second episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The first episode was chili, and the second is Chiles. Let me tell you about this show. I watched it for the first time while in Minnesota visiting my inlaws, back before we had cable at home. Stupid Bobby Flay decided to challenge a baker whose specialty was Blondies. I had never had a blondie prior to watching this episode, but once he was done making them the irresistible dessert of the century, I spent weeks - yes, WEEKS - trying to either find blondies or make them, both of which I failed at.

Since we're on the subject of Bobby Flay, can I just say, does this man make ANYTHING that doesn't make googly eyes at me through the TV screen? What is this! The dude prepares anything from fennel to lamb chops and I'm drooling all over myself. Yum.

I intended to upload a photo of Bobby flay with said chili, or blondies (ughhhh) but I couldn't find a good one. Instead I found these fantastic shots of Bobby cooking with Barack Obama on Father's day. How amazing is this? The charisma might be too much, though. You want to believe that those two serious faces have to mean that Obama's explaining his stance on health care or sending more troops to Afghanistan. I bet, however, that Bobby's telling Obama his secret recipes and explaining why a good piece of sweet corn can lead to world peace.

Alright, back to work for me.

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10.17.2009

unlikely composition

Sometimes, I hate the piles of stuff on my desk. Then sometimes, they look like this.

office yarn

How can I clean that up?

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stay tuned

oddball

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10.14.2009

the patience to be inspired

You may have noticed the new digs. Something happened with the blog template I was using in which the photos disappeared from Flickr and I was getting some odd error messages, so I reverted back to using a basic template. I went with a one column template because It will look cleaner and more interesting for the photos I include in posts. All of the other stuff that used to be on the sides of the blog is below, at the bottom of this page.

composition and contrast

I haven't blogged for awhile, so I decided to sort of dip back in by posting this lovely picture and talking a little about my inspiration and implementation as a photographer and artist, because I think that this particular image is sort of exemplary of it. Maybe I'll do similar posts once in awhile with some hints, it sounds like it might be fun.

This is a new location, one I've been looking for since I started doing portrait work. It's a little park in Crockett, California, where there's a giant, dead hill perfect for staging anything you want. The model is Nicola, one of my dearest friends who lives in Germany but spends Summers in the USA, and has come to visit me in California for the past three years. She's amazing for that. Anyway, she was totally interested in doing some fun photo shoots, and we spent most of her visit doing just that.

I did not shoot this picture in black and white. I think I saw it that way, but taking the photo is just the beginning. Now, I'm pretty firm on a couple of things when it comes to photography - one, I do not like overly posed and falsely-lit work - I do not carry lights to my jobs and I don't do a whole lot of posing (as those of you who have posed for me know). Of course, I do a little posing, but it's usually sort of suggestive rather than forceful. I believe that the best photos come from natural smiles, natural eyes, and natural poses. Some people don't agree, and that's fine - those people won't want me to photograph them.

When I took this picture of Taylor and C, I can still remember Taylor's tone of voice. I said "hold her by her waist and act as if you're going to set her down." She asked me more questions, and I didn't answer, and I was already in position to take the photo so I didn't go near her. She said "you mean like this?...um, ok...."
First Birthday

And the photo speaks for itself. It's that little bit of guidance that goes a long way. My shoot with Nicola was very similar. I was standing, as you can tell, really, really far away from her, at the bottom of the hill. I told her to jaunt around in that fantastic dress. She did. This was my favorite of the few I took, in which she's looking at me but moving herself in a natural way. (I think in her head she knew I wanted her to run, since I had been asking her to do more of it all week, hehe)

The second rule I have about photography is: tricks should be used to make an image what it should be...not what it isn't. I don't have crazy rules about not adjusting work, or totally adjusting work. Some things I leave very much as they come out of the camera, save for a little bit of sharpening, and color adjustment. Some images, like the one of Nicola, I process heavily.

When the photo is in color, there's so much happening...the sky, the model, the bushes and their pattern around the photo, the grass and it's random composition, and the varying color - The grass in shades of brown, the sky in shades of blue, the model's hair, dress, skin, lips. None of that is important, however, in this shot. What is important is her composition - the way she's standing, the way the line is drawn across the horizon, the size difference between the small bush on the left, the middle, bigger bush, and her body. The gradient between the dark sky at the top of the image and the lightening toward the horizon.

Not only is the photo black and white, but I used Photoshop to create heavier contrast - making the model much darker- to highlight her shape while still giving her some definition. The final image, to me, is one that makes you ask..."where is she running? Where is she? What is her story?"

All of these things combine to be the art that I strive to create. It's also the art that comes naturally to me, that I'm learning to trust in to create itself with my hands and my eyes.

I also want to help everyone out there see it, too, in their own photos. Our world is one massive composition. How you choose to frame it, light it, change it...is all up to you. There's nothing different between a person who takes snapshots and a person who takes photographs besides the way you use your eye. There are fancy tricks of course, that take time to learn, but a great photo can be taken with any camera, in any light, with any subject. It's all about feeling what's happening in the shot and allowing it to show itself in your photo.

I think the world moves too fast, sometimes. I am guilty of this - I have way too much to do and i often end up getting in trouble because I can't finish everything I want and need to. I'm an impatient Aries with ADD, and so far, the only thing that slows me down is photographing something that requires me to be patient to create.

So, my final word and request from you is: the next time you're using your camera, slow down. Stop for a minute and really look at what you're capturing. How should the image be, in the end? I think you'll be happier with the results and pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish.

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10.04.2009

The Holidays are Coming...

If you're here in California, it's time to give me a call or email so we can schedule you for your family Holiday photos.

Additionally, if you book a Holiday photo session with me between October 1 - December 5, I'll personally hand-design custom Holiday photo cards for you to send to all of your friends and family.

If you are in Minnesota and interested in working with me, it is very possible. I will be in Minneapolis the week of Thanksgiving, and may be available for a shoot or two. If that's you, please email and we'll work something out.

Looking forward to telling your story.

CARD

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9.30.2009

If I'm not here...

I'm here.

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9.27.2009

Noise

If a tree falls in the forest when no one is around, does it make a sound?

Answer: yes, but only the tree has heard its own death.

There's so much noise, and so little thought. So much judgment and so little compromise.
People talking for the sake of talking, keys tapping. Saying nothing.

I have found this finally exhausting.

What's the point of putting yourself there when the community you thought existed around you is really nothing but noise?

Or, maybe I'm just not good at interpreting what isn't.

It's easy to hide inside the facade of what you call yourself on the Internet. What your avatar looks like, how you phrase your sentences, what people you follow and who follows you.

In the end, you realize it's high school all over again and you're stuck wishing you had brand name jeans.

I'm too old for this. Switching off the light until I find a reason to contribute.

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9.22.2009

September 22, 2006

My Wedding, 9/22/06

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9.21.2009

Sneaky Peek

diana

The bride from this weekend's wedding. She was gorgeous. This is the first image I processed, just to give ya'll a little something to look at.

Please excuse the lame watermark. My Macbook died, and I haven't pulled my Photoshop brushes off yet to install on the big computer.

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9.18.2009

Ugh.

I feel bad, actually, for not writing, because there are so many things going on that I'd like to write about. However, Mercury in Retrograde has totally pushed me in to craptastic month of crap. So, here's a quick update on my life.

  • My classes are going well, so far. I feel much less stressed about time and organization this semester, so far, due to a few changes Ive made in my attitude. It also helps that David is busy and that he is unable to lure me away from school work. I'm excited for the classes I'm taking, and trying to make the best of it.
  • I miss my husband. He is so busy, and I love that he's doing this, especially because I've seen him light up in ways that I have not seen for a long time, but ugh! I miss the little things. However, I'm trying to concentrate on what I'm doing and supporting him so that once this is finished, we can move on to the next step.
  • I have been cooking, but I haven't been posting mainly because my Macbook died last week and computer time in this house has been a stressed issue. Thankfully, I managed to jerry rig it to handle simple things, like Internet browsing. It's likely an issue with the hard drive, so it will be sent in to Apple for servicing soon. Until then, all of my photo work must be done on the big computer, and like I said...time is not on my side. (That's David's!)
  • Oh, did I tell you my Macbook died? And that's not the only thing. I also managed, in an idiotic, but not surprising move to participate in a fall that killed my backup camera, the lens it was wearing, and my flash (also on board). That group right there is a giant portion of my equipment, so the situation is pretty tragic. I just spent a nice chunk of money on equipment rentals for the wedding I'm shooting tomorrow, and luckily, Sara sent me her camera to use as a backup (she's AMAZING) I've got to make the decision on whether or not fixing my backup camera will be worth it. I'm very conflicted on what to do at this point.
  • Our household is kind of sad this first week without Suzanne. As if it needs to be said, but it's the tough thing about pet ownership. I usually nurse the wounds by bringing home a new little one, but we'll be making a different addition to our family next Summer that will likely bring our rat ownership to an end. So, no new rat babies from here on out. At least for now!
  • I have a couple of weddings and other shoots to share over at my photography blog, and I promise that within the next week or so, I will share them. I hope that you're visiting that site as well.
  • My band, Oddball Parker, will be releasing an EP the first week of November. I am very excited to share this work with you guys when it's ready.
  • New stuff for this fall: I will be offering family photo sessions and custom-design photo Christmas cards in one big package. More details on this very soon. Aside from photography, I'll also have a giant bunch of new jewelry items (including glass pendants) for Christmas shopping.
  • New stuff for next Summer: I will be booking weddings in Wisconsin/Minnesota, as well as family portraits, and senior portraits. I will elaborate on this more soon, but I'm super excited to begin planning.
Hope there's people out there still reading.

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9.12.2009

R.I.P. Suzanne

Suzanne

Suzanne, who was the biggest, baddest chick in the family, went on to rat heaven last night after battling an upper respiratory infection for the past two days. The illness worked very vast and was unresponsive to antibiotics.

She was a character - an old meanie, but always the first to come when I called her. I miss her very much already.

Suzanne and Agatha were the first rats we brought home and today I'm reflecting on how important they were to me, how much their love helped me, and all of the good times we had together.

R.I.P, Suzanne. May your days now be filled with yogurt drops, noodles, and cozy paper piles.

David and Suzanne

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9.07.2009

radio silence

  • Yes, I'm still doing Weekly Menu. I will resume posting them mid-week.
  • The Drummer is back in school. His schedule is very, very difficult and the next year will be very, very hard for us. Luckily, there is an end in sight, and we fully intend to stick it out and get through it together.
  • I'm back in classes as well.
Unofficially, things are good. Things are bright.

I've started posting on Tumblr. If you're there as well, please follow me.

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8.29.2009

Visitor


My good friend Nicola is visiting for the week, and we're keeping busy. She's great - she's come to see me now three years in a row - which is wonderful times a million.

We're going thrifting today for a couple of photo shoots.

Something wonderful happened yesterday.We swam. In the ocean. Which I haven't done since I moved here to California four years ago. I know - it's ridiculous - but the combination of friends who don't like to swim and my aversion from wearing a swimsuit have cause this long hiatus of one of my favorite activities. Thankfully, a good friend and an OK swimsuit have changed things.

Now, I think it will be hard to keep me out.

More later.

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8.24.2009

The Dr.

I'm pretty excited to say that one of my good friends, who I lovingly call K-Pax (and no, I've never seen the movie) has completed her final licensing tests and is now a pharmacist. Yay!

I'm really proud of her, because she is a great person and deserves a wonderful, happy life. She works harder than most people I know, and it payed off - she finished second in her class. I know that she's got a really, really bright future.

We had a small party for her on the night of her final test. I have been jokingly promising her that I was going to bring her an Ace of Cakes cake, which obviously, was something I couldn't really do. So, I decided that I would do the next best thing - create my own crazy cake for her.



I think it turned out pretty well. I'm most proud of the cake's shape, created using my new set of hinged baking pans. They're great - instead of trying to pry out the cake after it's pulled from the oven, the pans have a hinge on the side, which, when released, pulls the form loose and drops the bottom of the pan out. I love it. I honestly can see myself baking cool cakes every week with how easy it was. David and I also had a fun time creating all the pills out of fondant.

The inside of the cake was one layer of Red Velvet, one layer of Yellow, with a whipped vanilla and white chocolate frosting sandwiched between. It tasted alright, but in the future, I'd really like to learn to make cakes from scratch.

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Weekly Menu - Sunday August 23


Tilapia Rigatoni with Avocado and Mango

Now, before I get started, don't give me any lip about once again eating pasta. I'll be honest in saying we eat a lot of pasta 'round these parts, because it's cheap, and we like cheap.

Anyway, on with the recipe!

What's in it:

  • Two flanks of tilapia, pan cooked in lemon juice, veganaise and black pepper with a hint of olive oil
  • Rigatoni pasta
  • (almost) from scratch pasta sauce, made with tomato puree, fresh garlic cloves (minced), cayenne pepper, red peppers and white onion (minced) and kosher salt
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced mango
This is a super, super easy recipe that I made up basically on the fly last night. I knew prior to cooking that I'd be making tilapia with pasta, but I have been watching a lot of Iron Chef and other Food Network shows recently which gave me the experimental bug. I wanted to create a couple of different tastes within the plate. This is super experimental for me. It's like colors - some match, and some go. The latter is the real challenge - with the real payoff.

The pasta sauce you get at the grocery store always tastes really sweet to me, which, is good, but for the sake of this experiment I wanted something that took on a different personality. I used kosher sea salt to give it a pop-your-tastebuds savor, cayenne pepper to create a bite at the middle of the tongue, and super fresh, super minced garlic cloves to explode at the end. I added peppers and onions for a little texture.

White fish is difficult to cook. I'm pretty impatient with the burner, so I end up putting the heat too high and ending up with unevenly cooked fish. Lately, however, we've been getting a good deal on frozen tilapia that really tastes pretty good when added with something. It's given me more time to practice my craft and thankfully, I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Aside from being touchy in the pan, white fishes are also often difficult when it comes to taste. Some whitefishes, like Catfish, have a great natural flavor, but Tilapia is NOT Catfish. I have struggled with how to get it tasting as I'd like it to. So far, my favorite method is to smother the unthawed slabs of tilapia in a bit of Veganaise, and top that with a bit of black pepper. I then fill the sautee pan with lemon juice, adding a drop of olive oil for flavor. I keep the burner down, around 6, and cover the fish while they cook. The lemon juice really helps to bring out the flavor of the fish and keep it moist instead of flaky.

Now, in order to create some compliments, I sliced an avocado and a mango. I know everyone reading this blog has had avocado, but if you haven't had mango...you should do it right now. It's the sweetest, most wonderful fruit on the planet. The sweetness of the mango and the thickness of the avocado made the tomato sauce almost to wonderful to even imagine.

My favorite part about this meal was creating my first pasta sauce. Tomato puree is so inexpensive, that it's actually a cheaper and fresher way to cover noodles. I will be trying some different things in the coming months.

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8.18.2009

Weekly Menu - Tuesday, August 18 2009

Vegetarian Chili

I love chili. It's one of my favorite foods - technically. However, throughout my life I've looked for ways to get around a couple of key things that most people's chili includes - kidney beans and hamburger. I never liked kidney beans. They are horrid, almost as bad as peas. But that's another story.

Honestly, when I finally started cooking in my early 20s, I almost jumped for joy when I realized I could make chili without those things! I enjoy this recipe, which I sort of pieced together from outside sources and my own trial and error.

What's in it:

  • Two Red Peppers, chopped
  • Two Green Peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 White Onion, chopped
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1/2 Zucchini
  • 1 can of Corn
  • Three whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Can tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • three taps basil
  • a few crunches of peppercorns
  • pinch of sea salt
The measurements for the above spices are rough. I generally work with my brain, my hands and my taster when it comes to spices in anything - I feel it out as I go. It is important with veggie chili that you get the paste nicely seasoned before you cook, though, because the absence of meat definitely leaves some room for flavor.

I cook the chili in my wonderful, wonderful slow cooker on high for about 4 hours, ideally, and then another two on low.

Now, before you complain about the monochromatic pictures, please know - I planned on topping our chili off perfectly with a dollop of Vegan Sour Cream. However, I forgot to pick it up :( Thankfully, we've got a ton of leftover chili that will serve as tomorrow's dinner, and I'll be making sure that I make a trip to the Natural Foods Market!

Weekly Menu is my attempt at creating a weekly pescatarian dinner menu on Sunday night night and sticking to it for the whole week. I'll post the basic recipe, preparation, and photos of each meal daily - please hold me accountable! I'm rallying around my many recipe books to try out new ingredients, spices and scenarios.

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8.17.2009

Weekly Menu - Monday, August 17 2009


Spaghetti and Garlic Bread


This is just garden variety spaghetti, but it's my spaghetti - my combination of my favorite ingredients and what I plan on passing down as the best spaghetti ever to my children.

What's in it:

  • Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti
  • Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce
  • Boca Crumblers Veggie Burger
  • Red Peppers, sliced
  • Portabella Mushrooms, chopped
  • Sweet Yellow Onions
The garlic bread is also my "secret" recipe, which is probably no different than anyone else makes it. I don't care, though, OK? I grew up on nothing but tv dinners and goulosh, so learning to cook like a real person is a big deal for me.

What's in it:
  • Fresh bakery sourdough baguette
  • Freshly chopped garlic cloves (2)
  • Olive Oil
  • Light Butter
  • A touch of salt, pepper and paprika
How do I do it?

Let me get one thing straight: I suck at cooking pasta. By that I mean, the boiling and cooking of the noodles. I cannot get it right. I think it's patience, really. I do find that adding salt to the water helps to keep the noodles less sticky AND adds a nice flavor. We eat wheat spaghetti, because it's better than the enriched white stuff, and doesn't cost much more. I've learned to really love the flavor of the wheat, but it does cook differently - less time in the water. It also tends to get stickier on its own.

While the water is boiling, I prepare the garlic bread. The sourdough loaves I use for this are really huge, so one half is enough for two people. I take 1/4 olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Smart Balance, and freshly chopped garlic cloves and heat them up until they're a nice smooth liquid. Then, I pour it over the bread - making sure that the cloves are spread out (they're powerful!). Once that's complete, I crack a few black peppercorns over the whole thing, add a little sea salt, and toss the whole thing in the oven to toast at 300 degrees.

Red peppers and sweet yellow onions are amazing. Well, I like any onions or peppers - but, for spaghetti, I like to use the yellow onions and red peppers because they have a sweetness to them that works well with the tomato sauce. I love finding the right onion and right pepper for a recipe - it's fun to enjoy the differences between them.

Anyway, for the spaghetti, I use a plain old frying pan with just a dab of vegetable oil and a lid. The veggies should be soft, not crunchy, so the steaming that happens with the lid on really gets them tasting scrumptious. Once they've gotten almost completely soft (you can tell by checking the color - darker = softer), I toss in a few chopped pieces of portabella mushroom. The mushrooms don't need much time at all to cook. And what's better than a portabella? Not much.

Once the veggies are cooked, I toss in the Boca crumblers (faux meat) to warm. The crumblers are pre-cooked, so they just need a few minutes in the pan. There are lots of different kinds of faux meat products out there, but I love Boca - it's got the best taste. After the crumblers have warmed, I add the spaghetti sauce, turn the heat down to simmer, and add garlic powder, cayenne pepper, basil and rosemary.

The bread takes about 15 minutes to toast, so if it's in the oven as I'm starting the boiling water, it is finished by the time everything else is. I usually end up getting it in too late and waiting for it, but it is worth it. Fresh garlic bread is wonderful, smells wonderful, and tastes wonderful.

As you can tell, we're garlic people. And pepper people. Bring it on.

So, there you have it - my "Secret" spaghetti and garlic bread. I'm launching Weekly Menu with an old favorite, but just wait - I'll be mixing old favorites with new and uncharted recipes as time goes on.


Weekly Menu is my attempt at creating a weekly pescatarian dinner menu on Sunday night night and sticking to it for the whole week. I'll post the basic recipe, preparation, and photos of each meal daily - please hold me accountable! I'm rallying around my many recipe books to try out new ingredients, spices and scenarios.

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And now, your originally scheduled menu

Things are changing around our household. The Drummer is going back to school next week to obtain his education credential, after which he'll be free to teach English, should he choose to do so. I will be back in school as well. We'll both be working full-time and trying to continue our other activities outside of work and home, so time will be minimal. Very minimal.

It's not so bad. It's only two semesters, and once those two semesters are over, many new life decisions will be made and things will change again, for the better.

Anyway, with that being said, I've decided to try a new process around here to A. save money B. eat healthier and C. spend less time worrying about what dinner will be. What's that new process, you say? Well, I'll be planning our meals for the week on Sunday night, making sure that the necessary ingredients are in stock, and sticking to the plan.

I've tried this before, and I failed. It's not that I don't want to...it's just that I failed. This time, I really want to make it work. So, I'm going to blog about it - and hope that my readership at large will hold me accountable.

Please? :D

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8.09.2009

Patience, The Way I See It

There are days, like yesterday, when something simple, a song or a memory or similar reminds me of who I am, who I have become naturally, in my soul (not at large in the world). Those days, I can find a little bit of patience in the daily grind of responsibility and bills and emails and struggling. Patience in knowing that someday it won't be like this, someday - one day, I'll have paid the dues that beat me down now, finding a prize in what stability means to me. These days I feel like those dues are worth every cent, even at the price of the sweat and blood and tears it costs.

Patience, sometimes a virtue, sometimes a skill. By force, I'm working on the latter. The fear of unfruitful patience is simple and complex all at the same time; a vortex of thought and punishment that results in knowing patience only pays when you're willing to work for the prize.


Because this is the way I see things.

rose

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8.06.2009

Wasting Time

I have a lot to do. So much, in fact, that I've gotten myself tangled in one of those lack-of-organization-causes-explosion webs were I'm afraid I don't even know where to start.

So, what's the best way to get out of a web like this? As far as I can see it's doing something completely unrelated to hopefully clear out the head and take a step forward.

I figured, hey, why don't I work in a medium that I never use to create something new. Over the weekend we walked through a lot of galleries and the MOMA, which all focus on paintings,something I never really tried to do (save a few continued attempts with watercolor). I bought a canvas and pulled out my acrylic paints, brushes, and forgot about the world for the past three hours.

Here's where I am so far:
_MG_8424

There are three things you should be able to note from the above picture of said painting in progress.

  1. I have been drawing female faces for most of my life. It's "the" thing I draw (the only thing)
  2. I have a favorite artist, and you can tell.
  3. I have no f'ing idea how to paint with acrylics (note unsuccessful shading on forehead and neckline) but it sure as hell doesn't work like colored pencils.
Do not ask me about the lack of an eye. I will get there. In all my years of doodling I have still never conquered the t-scale of creating two eyes at once. I think this is because I spend an ungodly amount of time simply crafting the first eye that I get afraid of how to duplicate it. I am working on it.

However, now I'm wondering if I should keep it that way. What do you think? One eye?

Anyway, I'm enjoying myself. Hopefully, it gives me the push to get some stuff done. I need it.

****NOTE: If you've been wondering where all the photography is around here, it's because you aren't visiting my new professional website and blog, located here. Please do - I'd love to see comments on the work I share there. Please contribute, it makes me happy to hear from you! ****

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7.19.2009

blue bird


Taylor gave this bird to me, and it is very special. Well, I have two - and they're both special. She's been on a search for a particular bird, a very rare and special bird that has a particular meaning to her. These are similar, but not the right color - therefore, she gave them to me (since I also love birds). For some reason, I feel special because she passed them on to me. It might mean nothing to her (except for that she's getting rid of extra birds!) but to me, they are a connection to her. We don't see each other often, and she's dear to me, so knowing how special these birds are makes me feel closer by having them near.

I have tried to photograph them a million times. Tonight, I got it right.

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7.13.2009

I'm Taking the 30 Day Challenge

I'd been contemplating the purchase of a copy of Wii Fit for six months (having starting to covet it during the impossible Christmas shopping season) before learning about the newer and seemingly more popular fitness game EA Sports Active. Now, my motivation for purchasing a fitness-centric title was driven completely by my desire to find a game with an adequate workout capable of burning some calories - so I was excited to hear that EA Sports active was recieving higher ratings than Wii fit for intensity and results. Additionally, it is cheaper and doesn't require the Wii Balance Board for use. Happy with what I was reading, I went out to my local Gamestop and picked up the game.

From EA:

Designed around the standard Wii Remote/Nunchuck tethered controller configuration, EA SPORTS Active's interactive fitness program is more focused on physical activities than previous 'fitness' titles for the Wii, but still challenges you to have fun while developing a more healthy lifestyle. Separated into the three sections of workout, nutrition, lifestyle, and other activity, the user's experience begins with a pep talk from Bob Greene which quickly transitions into the beginnings of action as players set up profiles, choose a virtual personal trainer and enter baseline data like age, weight, gender, fitness goals, etc. Although the nutrition, lifestyle, and other activity sections add a holistic element facilitated by a mix of surveys and data input, building fitness through physical activity is the driving force behind EA SPORTS Active and as such the meat of the content resides in the workout section. Here players will find dozens of themed strength training and cardio workouts which can be customized as you choose and linked into circuit traning routines. These routines are introduced and monitored by your personal trainer, and allow for ongoing player motivation via real-time feedback on your workout form, an approximation of calories burned and the ability to adjust levels of exercise intensity.
Getting started with the game was really simple. The leg band fits easily to hold the nunchuck, and upon startup of the game, you're prompted to begin your 30 day challenge immediately - well, after choosing your avatar.

I did my first full workout yesterday, and my second today. I'm doing the 30 day challenge on medium/intermediate (there's easy/medium/hard). My first workout included running/walking, lunges, boxing drills, bicep curls, shoulder curls, and inline skating. Today's workout included some of yesterday's drills and a few change outs, including tennis, tougher lunges and different shoulder exercises. Now that I'm finished with my second day, I can say that I'm really loving the workout experience EA Sports Active has to offer. Not only am I hurting, but my workout was intensified from yesterday's workout (adding calories burned), and I know I can't cheat the system. The game's workout journal tracks my progress, rates my performance, and updates me on what I can expect for tomorrow's workout.

Let me say this: I hate running. With a passion. In earlier years I have been more fit than I am now, and I hated it then, too. I feel it has something to do with my treetrunk legs and the lack of speed and agility they provide. That being said, when I saw the track in front of me on the screen...I cringed with memories (you know, the smell of rubber, the pins and needle legs because Mr. Webster "doesn't think it is too cold to run on the track", and the bi-yearly stress and embarrassment that accompanied The Mile). I will do anything to get out of it. But, I tried it. And it wasn't terrible.

My only concern thusfar is the inconvenience of the nunchuck's cord. Twice, while running, I've unstrapped the leg strap when the nunchuck cord slipped under the velcro. I also managed to nearly strangle myself with the cord while doing the shoulder presses. I've been advised that there's a wireless nunchuck, but I'm hesitant to spend another $30 on Wii hardware.

Oh, and I almost forgot - the Drummer is doing the 30 Day Challenge as well! He's also on day 2 and feeling the burn. (And his avatar is cute. )

I desire a fitness regimine that will help me to get to a more comfortable weight and fitness level. I've toyed with the idea of a gym membership of and on, but I don't enjoy flashing my sweat and sharing equipment with other people. And, let's face it - the idea of preparing and then driving to the gym is less than appealing. I'm hoping that the positive experience I've had so far with EA Sports Active will push me to continue, adding workouts along the way. Getting the experience of a personal trainer and a multi-terrain workout from my living room is truly a fantastic perk of technology. Let's hope I can stick with it!

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7.07.2009

Four-legged Lonliness

I'm having what I imagine most women go through when their friends and family start having children - when they are either unprepared or unable to have their own. My sadness, however, isn't caused by my lack of human spawn.


It's caused by my lack of a four-legged one.

I grew up with a dog. We always had one - from my first puppy, a rambunctious beagle named Augie, to Sassy, our cocker spaniel, and then Boogie, the cocker spaniel/labrador/golden retriever mix who lived out the most important years of my life with me. (He has since passed.) Now, in between those dogs were countless fish and parakeets - our house was a house where pets were.
If you're a person who grew up with a pet; had one around most of your life, you'll understand what I'm getting at here. A dog is like a family member. He/she must be loved, paid attention to, fed, disciplined and cared for much like any human. In return, a dog provides unrelenting, non-stop unconditional love that surrounds you and hugs tight even when all the humans in your life let you down. A flapping tongue loving eyes are always there to greet you.
(I'm writing this mostly about dogs because that's what I've had most often; cats are also similar in their contribution to life. I'm slightly jaded because I had to leave my one and only cat, an orange tabby named Legolas, behind when I moved to California. He was truly one of a kind, and I miss him so very much. )
Human relationships take work. They feel stressful and while they are rewarding generally, they are painful. This is accentuated for someone like me, a sort of outcasted socially awkward girl who'd rather work on whatever project she has than spend a night out with acquaintances and people she doesn't know.

I have a less than ideal relationship with any of my family members (aside from the Drummer), and that's something that's both environmental and locale. I don't get to exercise unconditional love, and I don't get to receive it often, either.

My heart hurts for a companion who doesn't talk, change, or need me to listen to their problems. A friend who simply needs to be fed, and requires me to move my myself out of a depressed mood to walk him to the dog park. A warm body that curls up next to me and doesn't get sick of it.

Now, you may ask, what is keeping me from adding this furry family member to our current household?


Because the landlord says so.

We love our apartment. We love our landlord. And it is currently driving me insane. I get it - rental owners want to keep any pet related damage at bay - but do they realize what kind of damage a three year old can do with a sharpie and a toy truck? Kids are far more destructive than a small breed dog. It's silly.

And well, now is not the time for the Drummer and I to be looking for another apartment. I'm trying to be positive, thinking toward the not-so-distant future when we make bigger decisions about where we live. Because the next time we move? No pets is a no go.

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7.06.2009

Pet Photos!


I'm currently offering $50 sitting/processing fee (prints purchased separately at cost) for pet portraits! What does that include?

  • 1.5 hours of shooting time, at your home or a park where you feel comfortable
  • Your post processed images on DVD for virtual use, and access to my proofing lab for printing your choice of sizes!
Please contact me right away if you're interested in working with me to create some lovely memories of your pet! Please pass this message on to any other pet owners in your life as well!

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7.04.2009

...and then they kicked some *#&

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

[Signed by] JOHN HANCOCK [President]


New Hampshire
JOSIAH BARTLETT,
WM. WHIPPLE,
MATTHEW THORNTON.

Massachusetts Bay
SAML. ADAMS,
JOHN ADAMS,
ROBT. TREAT PAINE,
ELBRIDGE GERRY

Rhode Island
STEP. HOPKINS,
WILLIAM ELLERY.

Connecticut
ROGER SHERMAN,
SAM'EL HUNTINGTON,
WM. WILLIAMS,
OLIVER WOLCOTT.

New York
WM. FLOYD,
PHIL. LIVINGSTON,
FRANS. LEWIS,
LEWIS MORRIS.

New Jersey
RICHD. STOCKTON,
JNO. WITHERSPOON,
FRAS. HOPKINSON,
JOHN HART,
ABRA. CLARK.

Pennsylvania
ROBT. MORRIS
BENJAMIN RUSH,
BENJA. FRANKLIN,
JOHN MORTON,
GEO. CLYMER,
JAS. SMITH,
GEO. TAYLOR,
JAMES WILSON,
GEO. ROSS.

Delaware
CAESAR RODNEY,
GEO. READ,
THO. M'KEAN.

Maryland
SAMUEL CHASE,
WM. PACA,
THOS. STONE,
CHARLES CARROLL of Carrollton.

Virginia
GEORGE WYTHE,
RICHARD HENRY LEE,
TH. JEFFERSON,
BENJA. HARRISON,
THS. NELSON, JR.,
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE,
CARTER BRAXTON.

North Carolina
WM. HOOPER,
JOSEPH HEWES,
JOHN PENN.

South Carolina
EDWARD RUTLEDGE,
THOS. HAYWARD, JUNR.,
THOMAS LYNCH, JUNR.,
ARTHUR MIDDLETON.

Georgia
BUTTON GWINNETT,
LYMAN HALL,
GEO. WALTON.

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