Why this blog?

To understand why this blog was created and where it got its name, start here

Friday, August 5, 2016

Photographing the stars

I'm learning more and more about photography. Last night seven members of my photo club drove to Lost Lake at the foot of Mt. Hood to try and capture the Milky Way.

We arrived in time for sunset, took a few photos, and then waited around for it to get completely dark.

We chatted, nibbled some snacks, and checked our camera settings; comparing notes regarding ISO, aperture, and exposure settings.
Finally! The time we'd been waiting for - as the Milky Way gradually appeared, accompanied by some satellites, airplanes, and a few meteors.
What fun! I can hardly wait to do it again.

Monday, June 27, 2016

My itinerant lifestyle

I'm packing again. I'll move out of my place and into a different  house in Portland on Friday, July 1st. My unusual living situation requires it. I have been renting a lovely, fully equipped apartment in a perfect location for 10 months each year since September 2014. However, the owner of the apartment returns to Portland from Los Angeles each summer and reclaims her apartment to get away from the heat of southern California.

That's not a problem, I responded when learning of these terms, I'll just return to my native Colorado to reconnect with family and friends and enjoy the summer in Boulder. And I don't have to move out completely,  I can put away my personal effects and leave them in boxes in the basement.

But this year is different. I won't leave Portland for the summer. I've found a house-sitting gig not far from my current place. A friend will be traveling to Scotland for two months and she would like someone to watch over her home, sort the mail, and occasionally drive her car so that it won't suffer from disuse. There are no pets to take care of and no houseplants to water - so I won't be tied down to a rigid schedule. Furthermore, the house is in a historic Portland neighborhood filled with large beautiful homes. And the icing on the cake? It's not far from a vibrant commercial neighborhood filled with interesting shops and restaurants.

I'm thrilled. I'll have a new neighborhood to explore.

But Elaine, isn't it hard for you to pack up and move all the time? Don't you want a place of your own?

Well, yes. I sometimes wish I didn't have to put my books away in boxes, sort through my clothes and  decide what I need while packing everything else away. I do lose a little sleep as I get used to a different bed and have trouble finding things in a new kitchen and new neighborhood.

And sometimes I wish I owned my own place with a view of the mountains or the city lights or both.  I would love to have beautiful modern furniture, my own art on the walls, a well-equipped kitchen, and space enough for entertaining. I would live near parks, shops,  and restaurants that would provide everything I want without needing to drive my car. Finally, I'd like to live near my son so that I could enjoy a future grandchild.

But housing has become terribly expensive in Portland. It's a seller's market with buyers (and renters!) going to extraordinary lengths to bid on the few houses or apartments that come available. I do keep my eyes and ears open - just in case something comes up that I can afford. But with a limited fixed income and no job, I am unwilling to blow what's left of my savings on a home. And my current apartment, even though I live here for only 10 months a year, meets my needs perfectly.

I prefer freedom. Freedom to travel, freedom to explore, freedom from THINGS. I don't want to be tied down by possessions. I like the discipline of keeping my life simple. My "things" have no hold on me.

I think it keeps me humble. And it certainly gives me flexibility: I feel free to live in Boulder or Paris or Portland or wherever my heart desires, needing only what I can carry in a suitcase.

My decision to live in fully equipped houses with furniture, linens, and artwork that I haven't chosen wouldn't work for everyone.

But so far, since I moved out of my home in Boulder in 2008, leaving behind everything except my clothes and books; it has worked for me. I spent four carefree years living in Paris and traveling in Europe with no furniture, mortgage, or household repairs to worry about.

My attitude, my needs, and my desires may change in the future. But for now, from the first of July until the 7th of October, I'll be sleeping in other people's beds, looking after other people's houses, and exploring new neighborhoods. What an adventure!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lan Su Chinese Garden

I happened to stop by Lan Su Chinese Garden yesterday afternoon, just in time to capture a few images from the Chinese New Year celebration.  It was a completely unplanned visit but a very lucky one!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

A rare break in the incessant rainy weather  provided a good excuse for our our photography club to take an excursion to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. The garden opens at dawn - awfully early to wake up on a Saturday morning - but worth it to catch the morning light.

It's still too early in the season the see the rhododendrons in all their glory, but there were plenty of other things to shoot.

Friday, February 19, 2016

New Zealand

Today is the 8th anniversary of a major turning point in my life. On February 19th, 2008 my plane touched down at Queenstown, New Zealand. I was accompanied by nine other women from my hometown in Boulder. We had signed up for a "LifeCraft Journey for midlife women" which was designed to help us find answers to two fundamental questions: "What do I really want?" and "How do I create it?"

The trip came during an unhappy period of my life when I knew I needed to make changes and possibly end my marriage, but didn't have the guts to do it. During this journey of discovery I was surrounded by an amazing group of women who provided a nonjudgmental sounding board as I poured out my feelings and explored my options. This trip, and the love and coaching by Carol, Nancy, Colleen, Robin, Ginny, Jackie, Terry, Barb and Laura helped me find the clarity I needed to define what I really wanted, and to make some difficult decisions. And then they supported me as I created a new life.

Thank you for being there! I'll be drinking a toast to all of you this evening!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

40 Years ago today . . . .

Philippe was born . . .
And my life changed forever . . . . . . for the better.

Happy Birthday Philippe!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Luck or diligence?

My friend Sonia recently wrote: "I love your photos. How lucky (or is it diligent?) you are to find such subjects." I've been pondering Sonia's compliments the last few days. Then, this morning I looked out the window to see a thick blanket of fog covering the neighborhood. What to do? I had several options: get in the car and drive to the river where the fog is usually thicker to capture the city's  bridges; walk to nearby Laurelhurst park; or simply stay snuggled in my warm bed? I chose the middle option and jumped out of bed, got dressed, and grabbed my camera - not even stopping for a cup of coffee. Maybe that's diligence?

I quickly discovered another element: experimentation. I noticed the interesting effects of car's headlights shining through the fog and tried to remember techniques I learned in class to capture movement. I experimented with the camera's controls, adjusting aperture and shutter speed to achieve effects such as this.

That also took patience! I decided I wanted a pretty "frame" for my image. So I found an angle and background that I liked and then waited for someone or something to enter my canvas. One thing I've learned is that a static landscape immediately becomes more interesting with a person or an animal to give it movement and dramatic tension.

Photography is also about paying attention: learning to notice small things such as spiders' webs or droplets of dew.

And finally, there is the element of luck! You've seen these photos before, but I treasure them because I got lucky and caught something unexpected.

A cat on a leash?