Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Happy Halloween!

Frenzied day at work trying to have everything squared away for tomorrow's day off (holy day of obligation). Rush home to pack up and head over to a friend's for dinner and trick or treating. Now home and working on house stuff.

We learned this morning that a dear friend from our Corvette club passed away unexpectedly. M called with the news as I wasn't logged in to my personal email, and I sat stunned for a moment before bursting into tears. Damn. Things won't be the same without her.

(This isn't our pumpkin. We discovered it while trick-or-treating tonight and thought it was great. Zoe's joke this year? Knock knock. Who's there? Boo. Boo who? Don't's only a joke!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012



I love that she loves school as much as I loved school. And I love how her school is more than just a school. It's a community. A family.

She hops out of the car each morning happy and excited. Ready for whatever the day brings. She adores her teacher and her friends, and she loves the older girls at her school who love her right back (it's rare to attend a school or church function without a gaggle of 7th or 8th graders surrounding her at some point).

Despite her world being a bit upside down right now with this temporary living arrangement, she seems to be thriving. Really, what more could we ask for?

Monday, October 29, 2012



Since I have stairs to my basement now, I can go down there. (I don't do ladders.) It's cavernous. It will host epic gatherings where people can eat, drink and be merry while playing pool, ping pong and poker. It will be wonderful.

Once it is done.

We are making progress on our major items, and our builders are moving steadily forward (the north side of the house is nearly half bricked!). I am hoping that after we get the cabinets, vanities, counters, plumbing and lights straightened out, it'll get a little easier. Yeah, we need to choose paint colors and stuff like that, but different colors don't come with a variety of prices like wall mount faucets, so that should be not such an ordeal. Maybe.

I have heard from many, many people how much work it is to build a house. I watched my parents build two. I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what to expect.

I was wrong.

Holy cow, was I wrong. Building a house is like having a second, stressful, full-time job. What should be fun (I get to choose everything myself!) turns into a nightmare of negotiation once you find out how much everything you want costs. It becomes "I choose this. No, okay, that? No? How about this? Still too much? Hmmm, okay, what about this?" It's excruciating to people who are highly decisive.

We're getting there. This, too, shall pass. Or so I keep telling myself.

Sunday, October 28, 2012



Pumpkin patch with three 7-year-olds
Girl Scout Troop Leader training
Zoe's classmate Build-a-Bear birthday party
Pick up our disaster of a house
Laundry. Laundry. Laundry.
House research, review, discussion & decision

We are both so tired, yet forging ahead because the house stuff is unrelenting. Must get through. I keep telling myself it's worth it. I look forward to evenings there where we have nothing we MUST do. I would say I look forward to boredom, but we have so many creative projects pushed to the back burner (photography! Christmas!) that I doubt we will ever experience boredom again. Which is not such a bad thing, now that I think about it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012



Today we:
Weighed in.
Played/coached/cheered/photographed a soccer game.
Went grocery shopping.
Picked up birthday cookies.
Wrapped birthday presents.
Went to a birthday party.
Went to another birthday party.
Got ready for tomorrow's birthday party.
Cleaned up the yard (leaves! acorns!).
Dressed up like a nun, a monk, and a pumpkin.
Had fun at trunk or treat.

What a great day!

Friday, October 26, 2012



Expensive day, today. I had the Corvette repaired (good as new!) and picked up my 17-55 f/2.8 lens, back from the shop with its new, working focus ring.

Although my bank account is significantly lighter, my world is somewhat in order again. Now I just need to stop breaking things.

As I moved through my day, I was much more conscious of seeing, really seeing, what's around me. Even with the 365, I haven't been great at gathering images lately. Some days it even felt like a chore to find something to shoot.

This may yet be the best take-away from my retreat. The regaining of my sight.

Thursday, October 25, 2012



I'm home. Desert cacti to rain-drenched fallen leaves. It's good to be back, even though a little piece of my soul remains out in Palm Springs, or rather in the spirits of each one of my shutter sisters. Just like last year.

This year was a different experience. Not better or worse, just different. The location was new, and offered far more eye candy for me (less nature, more man-made treasure!).

Plus, I'm not the same person I was a year ago. I really, truly needed this creative retreat, this time to reconnect with photography in the best possible way. For the first time in months, I shot creatively with the Nikon, and went full manual. I set the f-stop and shutter speed for each one of my images, taking time to carefully compose. It showed in my editing each night: far fewer images to wade through, and little to no exposure adjustments. It felt good. It reminded me all over again why I love photography, why I need photography.

I return realizing that it is impossible to maintain that level of creative output, at least right now. But I can try to hold on to that feeling, that slowing-downness that comes with creating a solid photograph. I can look forward to January, when the house should be done and we can move back into our own home, and our lives can return to normal.

In the meantime, I have a little bundle of prints, treasures to remind me of that feeling, and that experience out in the desert.



Another big day, involving tutus, Chucks, Polaroid cameras and Impossible Project film, editing, printing (and printing and printing), a vintage store, cocktails, Moo card trading, and more.

Tomorrow I come home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012



Totally blown away by color yesterday. Incredible day that began with rising before 5 to catch the sunrise that led to being on the go for nearly every moment after. Was so tired late last night that I didn't post correctly, so here's the fix!

Having an absolute blast. This is feeding my soul and centering everything inside again. I'm realizing how much I miss shooting and editing due to the construction process. I'm looking forward even more to the house being done so I have time for photography every day again.

If it were up to Zozer, our house would be painted like this hotel.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



New doors opening every moment here. Learning much, laughing much, and shooting like mad. The downpour of creativity feels awesome after the draught.

Monday, October 22, 2012



Took this yesterday. Forgot to post in my excitement.

Sunday, October 21, 2012



I'm back in California, about a year after my last "photography camp." While I'm not entirely sure what to expect, I'm definitely more at ease this year. Different location, different agenda, new friends. But also some old friends, women for whom I've developed a deep affinity, respect, and collegial love.

This journey is more than just photography. This is about reconnecting with myself, finding my own happiness within instead of thinking it's the responsibility of others.

It couldn't come at a better time. With the new job, the new house, Zoe's activities and everything else we do, the first sacrifice is always ourselves.

So here's to a great week of photography and shared experience and laughter and exploration. Here's to a week of discovery and affirmation and iphoneography and Polaroids and Nikons. Here's to clicks and shares and support and understanding. Here's to finding my way home at the end, both literally and figuratively.

It's gonna be awesome.

Saturday, October 20, 2012



Late posting tonight. Packing for Palm Springs (Shutter Sisters Oasis - my women's photography retreat) and trying to get things prepared for the week ahead for M and Zo.

Still a ton left to do, but I'm strangely calm about it. It'll get done when it gets done. And it will get done. It always does.

After a few proddings today, I took 45 minutes to walk around the campus to shoot the fall color with the Nikon. Damn. It felt good to shoot with a real camera again. I'll call it a warm-up for this trip.

Shout-out to Schiller's. Since my 17-55 f/2.8 won't be back from repair until Tuesday, they offered to lend me a "comparable lens" at no cost. When I got there today I hoped to score something reasonably fast. What did we find in the case? A used 17-55 f/2.8.

Sweet. I'm all set!

Thursday, October 18, 2012



He's watching the Cardinals game. Huge Redbirds fan.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



The only reason I saw this fantastic sunrise this morning is because I was once again ensuring that I'm in no danger of winning any Mother of the Year awards.

After dropping Zo off at school I hurried to work. I was halfway across campus when my cell rang. It was the school secretary.

"Hi. Zoe has a field trip today and her teacher called the office. She doesn't have a sack lunch. Are you, uh, still in the area?"

Oh shit! So I ran back to the car to speed home and make a PB&J with a baggie of wheat thins.

As I was waiting on the overpass, facing the opposite direction I normally do in the morning, I saw this. And then it wasn't so bad that I totally messed up.

(In my defense, she lost one of her top front teeth this morning. This was a big event, so I figure I was distracted. Yeah, that's the ticket.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012



I could have used a bright orange warning cone this morning. Or men waving lit directional sticks. Or flashing lights. Or a warning beep. Anything. Something.

I could have used that when I backed the Corvette out of the driveway.

And right into the giant recycle bin that I had placed there myself.


(Yes, I damaged the car. Yes, we both freaked out a little. Okay, a lot. No, we are not getting divorced. Yes, we are laughing about it. Although that took a couple hours. He now has earned an unlimited supply of "get out of jail free" cards and I will never live down hitting what has got to be The World's Largest Trash Can.)

(Last Saturday night he left the moon roof open on the ZoeMobile. All night. While it rained. Today I wrecked The Dream Car. Together, we are an unmitigated disaster. Which means, as usual, we are perfect for each other. And running way, way too fast these days.)

Monday, October 15, 2012



Three Chilean women came to visit our campus over the last week and a half. They wanted to learn how we run our school and maybe get ideas to take back with them. We met their first day on campus, and I explained my role and showed them our various communication technologies. They asked lots of questions and I answered them, enjoying the different flow of conversation as one who was well-versed in English translated for the other two.

After that, we saw each other frequently around campus, at noon prayer, and in the dining hall. They were always smiling and I liked our little chats as we crossed the grounds from one building to another.

Today, their last day in the US, they stopped by my office to say goodbye and to thank me for my time. And they presented me with this tiny mug with the Chilean flag. It's sitting on the top of my bookshelf now, and every time I see it I'll remember that I have three friends in Chile.

How cool is that?!

Sunday, October 14, 2012



Today was my day to take care of some Girl Scout troop leader duties. I completed two online training courses and researched/registered for a third that can't be done online. I also got a handle on how much work it is to be a troop leader. This could easily be a full-time job, if one was so inclined.

Since I already have a full-time job, plus my part-time effort to build a house, I will not be so inclined.

However, immersing myself in Scouting stuff for much of the day reminded me of how much I loved Girl Scouts when I was growing up. And why I signed up to bring this experience to Zoe.

I'm visiting the Girl Scout store tomorrow to pick up some things for our troop. I'm hoping I don't totally geek out and buy everything they have.

Saturday, October 13, 2012



New shoes! New shoes! And they even have green on them!

(It's the little things.)

Friday, October 12, 2012



Thursday, October 11, 2012



Wednesday, October 10, 2012



I have a front door. I had to open it to get into my home this afternoon. It was a surreal feeling, in the very best possible way.

We stood in the great room, slowly turning and taking it all in, all the windows and doors. Zoe said softly, "It's starting to feel like a real house, Momo."

Yes, yes it is.

(My idea of going to bed early last night was foiled by work and house plans. I call it a success as I hit the pillow at 1 am rather than 2 like the night before. It looks as though I'm heading in the same direction tonight. What's sad is that I got more sleep during finals week in college. I'm too old to be regularly pulling this shit.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012



My little foray into the wee hours of this morning meant I was incredibly prepared for the day, and too tired to be very productive throughout it. Oh, the irony.

So tonight I'm going to attempt to go to sleep before 2 am and not worry about being prepared for much of anything.

Surely there has to be a happy medium, where I'm reasonably prepared AND have energy to get things done. I just haven't found that spot yet.

In the meantime I'm getting a little couch time and watching my favorite candle burn. It feels pretty good.

Monday, October 08, 2012



So it seems my cabinet and counter fabricators aren't in the best part of town. My hope is that this less-than-desirable area = lower lease or mortgage payment = lower prices on my cabinets and counters.

The names of the house goodies we are selecting kill me. So far, we have:
Amaretto bricks
Chocolate window trim
Caviar cabinets
Ruby reflections counters in the kitchen
Apple martini counters in the bar

I think they give these extremely expensive items fun names to distract you from the price. "I'll take caviar cabinets for $20,000, Alec!"

I would quickly grow jaded if we weren't choosing exactly what we want for the home we are building together. As it stands now, I get pretty darn excited about amaretto bricks.

Sunday, October 07, 2012



Saturday, October 06, 2012



Over to Trenton, IL this morning to look at more lights at yet another lighting distributor. Very cool stuff, and we're learning more and more each time, but I'm ready to move on now. Getting tired of lights. And appliance discussions.

Quick stop to pick up birthday gifts for Zoe's friends' birthday party, home to wrap, then zoom to drop her off after mapping the address and learning the family lives considerably out of parish boundaries (which we hadn't calculated into our travel plans - oops). M came home and did the yard while I got gas, had two chips in the Zoemobile's windshield repaired, ran an errand and got her delayed birthday party tentatively set up at Build-a-Bear. Home to shower and change, then we were off to a big party hosted by the Dean of Academics from the school at which I work. It was very cool. We then picked up The Bug, came home and got her showered and in bed. Now it's time for me to review my materials for tomorrow, as I'm doing the children's liturgy. (Yes, they let me do that. Trusting parishioners!)

Tomorrow we have Mass (see children's liturgy duty above), then Zoe has a soccer game. Home to change, then back to my campus for the fiftieth anniversary dedication of our church, complete with another Mass with the archbishop and a reception.

Who said weekends were for rest?!

Friday, October 05, 2012



This week flew by. I still can't believe it's Friday night. The end of the week. I am thoroughly wiped out, nuthin' left in the tank as M is so fond of saying. Therefore, it is time to fall asleep. And by fall asleep I mean pass out before my head even hits the pillow. I shall dream of soaring architecture that takes my breath away, of windows not delivered due to rain, of lights in the showroom we visit tomorrow...I shall dream of moving into my own home, and of knowing peace there...

Thursday, October 04, 2012



Really, I can't get enough of this architecture. And the skies lately have been amazing.

My own personal architecture is progressing. Basement floor poured today, windows delivered tomorrow, bricklayer begins Wednesday, roof nearly done. It gives me the same feeling as when I see this church, and it makes me happy.

I think I must've been an architect in a previous life. Or I'm a frustrated architect wanna-be now!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012



It's excruciating to watch these two posture and attack and obfuscate and deflect and, sometimes, just flat out lie.

Are any of us really learning anything here? Are they really changing anyone's mind? Doubtful on both counts.


I think I'll make some pretty pictures and wait for the fact checks to be released tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012



I have it, and it is truly a gift. I will not be embarrassed about it, or ashamed of it. I will not apologize for it. It is part of me and it is who I am. It makes me a better wife, a better mother, a better friend, a better PERSON.

I can't figure out why people are so squeamish about faith. Or God or Jesus or whatever.

Because at its essence, at its very core, it's simply about love.

And what on earth can be so very upsetting (off putting, frightening, terrible, fill in your adjective here) about that?



It finally feels, and looks, like fall.

This is my friend JoAnne, walking away after our brief chat at the end of my work day. She is a special person and I'm blessed to know her. She has seen more tragedy than most people, and leans heavily on her faith to cope. She's optimistic and a straight-shooter all at once, and she's not afraid to call BS on anyone, even a monk.

This post was going to be another whiny gripe, a splash in the pity pool. But when I see this picture of JoAnne I realize that I don't have a damn thing to be upset about.

I will, however, admit to being very, very tired. We both are, so we are working on cutting back on our commitments. We are stepping back into member-only roles in our Corvette club effective Dec. 31 as a start. I love my volunteer work for the club but something's gotta give. I'm also looking to reassign some, ahem, household duties. After 15 years of beating my head against M's budget spreadsheet, I am stepping back. I will retain bill pay and checkbook balancing, grudgingly.

Numbers do not come easy for me, in case you haven't noticed. It's not intuitive. M can look at a bunch of numbers and they all just make sense in his head. I look at them and it's like using a German dictionary to translate French. I struggle each and every month, and it's the most painful chore I have. I'd rather scrub the toilet.

We had decided early in our marriage that I would do this budget thing so as to avoid me being one of those clueless wives who are up a creek when something happens to their husband. I'm guessing after 15 years I've got a pretty good handle on the situation. I know things like when I got the ZoeMobile in 1999 I could fill the tank with premium gas for $18, whereas now I average $55, at Sam's, for the "cheap stuff." I have given our logins and passwords to our credit card accounts, bank accounts, and retirement accounts to my husband more times than I can count because he forgets. I have the bill cycles pretty well lined up, and I know the dates for all the automatic paychecks and monthly debits. I know where all the paperwork is (he hasn't a clue).

It makes me wonder if HE wouldn't be up a creek if something happened to ME. Hmmm.

It feels good to start letting stuff fall away. Especially with so much else going on with The House.

I had lunch with my old boss the other day. He asked what my career path is at my new job, and what are my options for advancement. I said, "There aren't any. I'm at the top of where I can go there, except for adding more staff to my team. And I am really, truly okay with that." I love my job, and I can't believe they pay me good money to do it. I don't have to travel so I won't miss my kid growing up. I have a flexible schedule. My soul is nourished daily. What else could I need?

So here we go, streamlining and refining and simplifying. It'll be even better once we are through construction.

I'm looking forward to reclaiming my life, and everything falling into place.