Category Archives: VA

Light, to me …

is much more than simply the absence of darkness.

I watch it.

I chase it.

I adore it.

The golden hour, and there are two, are my favorite times to be alive.

I didn’t take courses in photography, though I wanted to.

I learned through trial and error.

Light is unforgiving.

If I miss the perfect moment, it doesn’t offer a do-over.

It is Edwardian in its boundaries and doesn’t allow room for foolishness.

I love that about it.

It is constantly changing.

Sometimes, it is indescribable and others completely intolerable.

It gives what it gives; therefore putting the burden of catching it on my shoulders.

It keeps me centered.

It makes me yearn for something that, to a layman, is intangible.

As a photographer, however, I understand the language of the light and revel in it.

It is what fuels me, sustains me, makes me who I aspire to be.

I work as a nurse so I can be a photographer.

It is all I ever wanted to be and the light, inexplicably, seems to understand that.

I’m a child of the Creator and He has given me an eye for His magnificence.

I am, beyond description, blessed.

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Light, in every season, in several circumstances and with unimaginable awe makes me fall, literally, to my knees in thanksgiving.

I adore and will, as long as I have breath in my body, seek the light.

It is HIS gift to me and I praise HIM, through photography, for it.

Amen.

Old Man Winter …

is on the warpath.

I guess this is the moment where he shows everybody just who is in charge.

I feel a little guilty complaining about the possibility of single digit temperatures while other places are looking at negative double digits on the mercury scale.

But only a little.

Cold is cold, wherever you are.

Here in Southwest Virginia, single digit temperatures are rare.  We don’t usually have to worry about getting frostbite on our fingers and noses as we walk from the house to the car.

It is a bit of an adventure, actually.

As a photographer with a healthy dose of wanderlust, this gives me a taste of winters elsewhere without actually going anywhere.

Not that I don’t want to go.  I mean, experiencing a Minnesota winter or feeling the wind chill in Chicago would be quite the thrill and, ones I hope to experience first hand at some point.

Ice fishing and snow shoes are things that live and play in the back of my mind just as dreams of July in New Orleans and August in Dallas make me swoon.

Live like the locals live, see it first hand, feel the heat or the cold or the rain or the snow or the wind.  That is part of what being a photographer is about, at least to me.

I want not only to see the things God created, but to feel them, immerse myself in them, find my coping mechanisms as I’m challenged by the diversity of His wonders.

It makes me who I am and I’m cool with that.  Being born a Sagittarius was just a bonus.

For now, though, stay warm folks because Baby, it’s going to be cold outside.

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There is something about rain …

the sound of it, anyway, that is mesmerizing.

I love it.

I find myself getting lost in it.

The soft sounds or the heavy, torrential pounding that a good storm can produce.

Imagine my joy when I recently learned that there is a musical instrument that can make the sound of rain.

It is called a rainstick and, as with all things that are new to me, I had to find out more about it.

What is it?  Where does it come from?  What is it made of?  What makes it work?  How does that sound get inside?

I asked all of these questions and went in search of answers.

I found them.

I was told only that the sound of rain in a friend’s musical composition was made by a rainstick which he described as “a percussion instrument that lets pebbles cascade over small spikes”.

With that image in mind,  it was hard for me to imagine something other than plinko.  You know, drop the disk and let it bounce off spikes and hope it falls into the slot you were shooting for.  It is a game, one of pure chance, and I was not about to be satisfied with that.

After researching the rainstick, I found the history of it to be most fascinating.  So fascinating, in fact, that I almost forgot why I was looking it up to begin with.

As it turns out, the origin of the traditional South American rain stick isn’t known, not definitively, anyway.  Indian tribes in Chile, Peru and Mexico all lay claim to having invented them, and one compelling theory contends that African slaves who arrived in the New World during the Spanish occupation brought them.

The euphonious sound of the traditional rainstick were supposedly once thought to have the power to bring rain and was used in prayer ceremonies among the Aztecs as well as others.  The sound was so lovely, however, that it made its way into the making of music, something that is as old as time itself.  Music.  And, now that I think about it, rain, as well.

The rainstick is made primarily from the dried Eulychnia acida, or Capao cactus after it has lived a long and healthy sixty plus years.  The “arms” are harvested, dried, cleaned and  hollowed out.  Spines are pushed into the hard body of the cactus and many very small stones are sealed inside.  When the instrument is inverted, the stones cascade along the helically spaced spikes making the sound of rain. (There are likely other varieties of cacti that rainsticks can be fashioned from, but Capao came up consistently in my research.)

Ingenious.

As with everything else, however,  it had to be classified, reclassified and sub-classified.  It is now known to be part of the percussion/shaken idiophone family.  The shaken part is, as any music nerd can likely tell you, a sub-category of the idiophone.  Me?  I had to look it up.

I listened to the piece that drew my attention to the instrument over and over while writing this post.  I listened to it because it is brilliantly done and pleasing to the ear.  The fact that is was written by a friend was coincidental, but he doesn’t need to know that I found such favor with it.  Don’t take my word for it, though, take a listen and judge for yourselves and then decide if you can live out the rest of your life without owning your own rainstick.

I decided that I couldn’t.  I’m expecting it in the mail by next Friday.

It has been a long few days …

or has it been weeks?

I haven’t posted anything new.

No blog posts.

No photographs.

Nothing.

I have been in a holding pattern of sleepwalking, nightmares and erotic dreams that leave me confused, wondering and bewildered …

and all the while, trying my very best to make it, without losing my cool, through the seemingly endless days and eventful nights.

I have had patients cry on me, their families strike me, people pulling at my heartstrings which are linked directly to my tear ducts and during all of this, trying to find out if I am to blame for something I had no control over.

I wonder if I have severed a crucial friendship and have already began to mourn the loss of it.

I have a way of ruining beautiful things because I rarely feel worthy of them.

I have slept outside, sent messages I wasn’t aware of and tried desperately to hold it together.

A difficult few days, indeed.

But tonight changed all that.

It came a storm.

A big one, with lots of lightning and torrential rain.

Normally, during such an event, I would be set up on the porch with my tripod and camera, but this time was different.

This one wasn’t to be documented and photographed.

It was to set my spirit free.

And it did.

I stood on the porch with my jeans and t-shirt, getting soaked.

But as time passed, I wanted no earthly barriers between me and the blessing that God was giving me.

A cleansing.

A fresh beginning.

Letting the past be past and bygones be bygones and memories no more than a blip on my radar.

One piece of clothing after another was discarded until I found myself standing nude and vulnerable under the rain, with the lightning flashing, the thunder bellowing, echoing between the mountains and valleys …

tears running down my face.

I prayed to a God that I had decided had forgotten me.

He hadn’t.

I think He was just waiting for me to remember Him.

It was frightening.

It was freeing.

I was liberated from the hold this world had on me.

I was, for that span of time, one with nature and the God who created it.

I still struggle with the emotions and thoughts in my head, but He designed my brain and is well acquainted with my mindless and sometimes senseless ramblings.

He doesn’t hold them against me and so I won’t hold them against myself.

Not everyone believes in my God.  I don’t find fault with them.  I know what I know, they know what they know.

I can only be who I am and, despite all my faults, and they are many, I feel at peace.

And despite that, my friends who don’t believe in my God like me anyway.

I am humbled by that.

Just  as I accept them, they accept me.

With our differences of opinions and thoughts.

It is irrelevant.

Isn’t that what it was supposed to be like?

Love one another?

Are my thoughts still burning through my head? Yes.

Do I still sometimes feel out of control? Yes.

Do I have someone to share the thoughts and emotions with? Yes, and I am thankful for them.

Do I wonder if I am making the right choices? Yes.

Following Christ doesn’t mean that everything is just peachy.  In all honesty, it is the opposite.

I don’t do it right, I never have, but I hope to at least encourage somebody along the way.

And selfishly, I hope to be encouraged.

I wonder sometimes if I am nothing more than the punching bag of the universe.  I don’t mind it if it keeps someone else from suffering, but every now and then, it wears on the soul.

And then, an incredible storm comes, I stand in the rain, and all is right again.

The circle of life.

It is what it is what it is what it is.

It is what we make of it that counts.

So make it count.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

One of the longest weeks on record …

is happening now.

In real time.

I was so disappointed this morning when I woke up to realize it was only Thursday.

I fell asleep on the couch last night and woke up just in time to get in bed before nine-thirty.

My body was convinced I was dead since I haven’t been in bed before midnight in months.

But I wasn’t dead … just exhausted.

And it isn’t even a full moon.

The Harvest Moon comes in September.

God help us all.

I have sleptwalked (is that even a word?  I don’t think so, but I’m past worrying about vernacular correctness), twice this week and once, spent some time (how much time is still undetermined) sleeping in my back yard … not camping, as in sleeping bag, campfire, guitar player, roasting marshmallows, but …

On.

The.

Ground.

With the spiders and other things that creep in the night.

Never, I heartily assure you, is it a good feeling to wake up outside when you started out inside and then wonder how you actually made it to the yard without falling off the porch and breaking half the bones in your body.

I am, it seems, fairly agile in my sleep and maneuver as well or better as when I am awake.

I now have nightmares about my nightmares.

Scary.

And then …

I  hit a deer on the way to work yesterday and in doing so, messed up my car enough to put it, for the moment, out of commission.

The deer, other than a probable bald spot (this deduction coming from the amount of deer hair on my car), seemed no worse for the wear.

It is the first time, ever, that I have hit a deer.  It made me cry right before it made me puke.

Never mind that the deer jumped up, looked directly at me as though cursing me to hell and back then bounded over a fence, I was physically ill.

Twice.

The September raptor migration along the spine of Clinch Mountain is coming up and I need my convertible to completely enjoy the experience of driving up the mountain.

Top down.

Wind in my face.

Sun on my skin.

These are things that are of utmost importance to me.

My weekend warriorness (again, not a real work, but whatever) kicks into gear once Autumn gets here.  Five  A.M. never seems quite so early on Autumn Saturdays as it does when I get up during the week to go to work.

Go figure.

Two of my sweet little patients have passed away.  It takes me about two minutes to fall in love with them.

I have said before I am too softhearted to be a nurse and yet … well, here I am.

I haven’t taken a photograph in over a week.  Not because there hasn’t been anything to photograph, for each day offers something magnificent, but because …

I don’t even know.  I don’t have a good excuse.

I am too tired to even try to come up with an excuse.  Judging from the posts and messages from facebook friends and tweeps, I’m not the only one feeling the weariness.

It’s been a busy, busy, busy … well, you get the picture, week.

Ok, let’s be real here, a busy month.

My teacher family and friends are wishing they were, even now, at retirement age.

Talk about wishing your life away.

But even though I am exhausted, I am thankful.

I am more thankful than I am tired and that makes up for all the other stuff.

Most of the time, anyway.

Autumn is Southwest Virginia

Autumn is Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

Autumn in Southwest Virginia

On the first day of June …

I went to my favorite place … Little Stoney Falls.  Once I got there, however, the parking space was full of cars.  I was in no mood to share MY falls with all these people, so I simply turned around and moved on.

I took the long way around to get there to begin with, for what better way to spend this magnificent day than driving around with the convertible top down and the music playing?  From there, I took the long way around again and wound up in Coeburn, taking the turn for Flag Rock and the High Knob tower.

I lost myself in thoughts and dreams as I drove up the curvy, winding mountain road.  It was one of those perfect days where the sky is blue, the clouds are white, the weather is warm and the light is magnificent.

While I did stop at Flag Rock and was bewitched by the beauty of the mountains, the blooming rhododendron and the sheer beauty of creation, I bypassed the High Knob tower.

There is no longer a tower there and the trees had grown up the last time I visited making the view nearly nonexistent.

I just kept driving.

Over the mountain.

The dirt road in front of me, the dirt road in back of me, the forest on either side and the incredible sky above.

At some point, I did get behind another car and found myself, once it was said and done, covered with a layer of dust.

Small price to pay for driving along with the top down and all of nature surrounding me, filling my head with dreams and images; I was in another place for that space of time.

I ended the day with a stop by the cemetery to talk to Jim about this, that and the other thing.  It seems that my visits there over the past few weeks have done wonders to balance my spirit.

I have things to say and no one, in particular, to say them to.  I talk to the sky, the wind, the grass, the birds … and I talk to him.  Nobody knew me the way he did.  I doubt anyone ever will again.

But that is neither here nor there.

It was a lovely day and I am grateful.

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Taking stock …

and re-evaluating my thoughts, emotions, feelings, friendships; things in general.  I find myself in an odd position.  This time of year is very difficult for me.  I have, since the death of my husband, taken at least one day near his birthday, which incidentally, is tomorrow, off from work.

I never know how I will wake up … it could be the “well, just another day” mode, or the “hysterical, uncontrolled, inconsolable sobbing” mode.  So, I avoid contact with the human race during that time because I am most unpredictable.

I know that I am not the only person who faces such days with this outlook.  I would love to say that I am free from the memories, thoughts and flashbacks.

Actually, I could say that.

But I would be lying, and I am a terrible liar.

If I have learned anything, it is that it is good to know yourself.  I think I have that one nailed.  Unfortunately for my family and friends, I remain an enigma.

Sigh.

It makes me feel a bit disconcerted that, after all this time, the birthday of someone who has been dead for years still has the ability to effect me in this way.

Don’t roll your eyes.  Of course I loved him and miss him.  But over three years later?  Give me a damn break already …

I had planned to spend the day at my favorite waterfall and then at a lake that holds special significance to me, however, due to an appliance malfunction, I will be at home.

Might as well cook, since I’m going to be here anyway and possibly reap the side benefit of being able to torment the appliance deliveryman with the smell of red sauce simmering on the stove.

I can only hope that he doesn’t find me sobbing like a child.

How awkward would that be?

Either way, I will get through the day and be thankful for many things.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t lament over the things that hurt me, but those are less frequent than the blessings.

There is no point whatsoever in ignoring the white elephant in the room.

I miss my Jim; my Jamie.  I miss seeing his sweet smile on his birthday. I have not, as odd as it may seem, dreamed of him even once, since his death.  I suppose, on some level, I am grateful, for I would hate to wake each morning tormented by the past.

I am not big on torment … or pain … or sorrow.

Life goes on and we either live it leave it.

I choose to live it.  Even when it makes me sad for without sadness sprinkled throughout, how could I truly embrace the joy.

I am a Sagittarian optimist.  I am, even as the tears threaten to fall, looking for the silver lining.  The tears will still fall.  My heart will still mourn.  My thoughts will still stray.  But at the end of the day, I will believe that everything will be ok.  And it will be.

Glass. Half. Full.

It’s just the way I roll.

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