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3.18.2014

Bookworm? Nah.

A few years ago, Sister-in-law K gave me, maybe it was Hank, a book. I was grateful for the book and had every intention of reading it at the time she gave it to us. But, I'm slow at getting around to reading books. I'm the kind of person that won't quit till the job is done, so, if I'm going to read a book I want to  read it from cover to cover without stopping. That, is a luxury of my youth.  I made a goal for spring break to finish a book, which I'm happy to report I did finish, a day after the fact but I did finish it, and I am the better for it.

My preferred reading genre is murder-mystery, it's fluff reading I know. The book I read this past week is a biography, I like reading about other people's lives (who doesn't? think of the popularity of blogs :)) Biographies are windows into the times and lives of the person being profiled, I tend to put myself in their place as I read, wondering how I would have dealt with some of their obstacles and trials.  This time though, I couldn't put myself in the person's place, it was too painful, too stressful, too sad, too anger-raising. Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, it is well written, and I am in awe of the man profiled. I read this book:


Are you familiar with it? It's the story of Louis Zamperini, a WWII bombardier and POW in a Japanese concentration camp.  As I read I was humbled by his will to live, his will to overcome, and his willingness to change. I was angered at the injustices of humanity and the horror of war. I now more fully understand the expression 'war is hell'. 

Books can bring change in our lives, the bible changes lives, as does the Book of Mormon, and this book has brought change to my way of thinking on what is truly a hardship and what is a mere inconvenience. Having a flight delayed/canceled, inconvenient. Seeing a loved one suffer, hardship. My perspective on life and its trials has shifted, for the better I hope. If you haven't read Unbroken, you should, your life will be the better for it. I warn you though, it's a tough read, not the flow of words, but the atrocities of war are hard to swallow. We are told that unless we study history we are apt to repeat it, I  hope we never repeat another world war. 

3.16.2014

Adventures in Travel

Today is the last day of Spring Break. Sigh. But, a break from work means a trip to visit Larry and Rocket Man. The flight to PHX was uneventful, boring actually. The trip home was the antithesis of the first. 

I look out the window about half way through the flight and see the splendor of the world from seven miles up in the air, rivers, lakes, little itty bitty irrigated farmland, and clouds. Big, white, puffy clouds. The kind that when you look up at them from the ground are big, dark, puffy clouds. 


As we get closer to DFW, I see even more big, white, puffy clouds.



As I taking the beauty of the cloud formations, I'm thinking this might not bode well for us making our connecting flight to TYR. 

Checking the time, I sense we should hear at any moment the ding that indicates that the flight attendant will be telling us that 'the captain has turned on the seatbelt sign as we prepare for our final approach to DFW. Please return to your seat and put away any items you may have taken out from the over head compartment.' But that's not the case. I hear the ding but instead of the flight attendant, it's the captain. Hmm, no bueno. He informs us that because of severe weather at the airport we will be in a holding pattern until told to do otherwise. So we circle around for forty minutes or so.  Once again the captain comes on but this time he tells us that we've been diverted to Austin until the weather clears. Wow, I've never been diverted. I'm kind of excited to see what happens when a plane is diverted...others on the plane, not so much.

Thirty minutes later we land in Austin.



And we were not alone in our diverted-ness.


Ever wonder what happens when a plane is diverted? Nothing exciting. The plane is taken to a remote part of the airport and you just sit and wait. And wait. And wait. The ground people brought snacks and water so we'd have something to munch on while we waited, that was about as exciting as it got. As we waited, there was a passenger who insisted that his friend was telling him that planes were landing and taking off, I decided to do a little checking of the weather. My findings...


Uhh, I was good with being diverted. Better safe than dead I say. 

After another while I checked if we'd be able to make our connecting flight to TYR. My findings...


Oy. Hank and I discuss our options, hope to get a spot on the next flight out, stay at the airport overnight, (uh, no), get a hotel and hope we can get a flight in the morning (possibly), or rent a car (mmm, maybe).  I check on renting a car, oh boy. Very expensive to get it at point A and then leave it at point B. We're hoping for getting on the next flight.

The captain comes back on at seven forty five and says we can return to Dallas. Yay! My silver lining was this beautiful sunset as we were taxiing to take off. 


And this ominous shot as we got closer to DFW.


Soon enough we were flying over Jerry's Palace, aka Cowboy Stadium, aka AT&T Stadium and Ranger's Stadium.


Because of the merger between American and U.S. Airways, our flight out of PHX was on U.S Airways. Because they used to not be a part of American, U.S. Airways' terminal is way out in the middle of nowhere. We had to traverse the bowels, literally, of DFW to get to the Skylink to get to a gate agent. Nice walking work out. Once we found a gate agent we found out that all flights to TYR had left for the day and the likelihood of getting out on the first flight the next day was slim to none. She asked if we could drive to our destination because if we could, we would be reimbursed for the rental. Bingo! One more long walk and we boarded the shuttle to the car rental center, the lone passengers I might add.


Our trip began at ten thirty Pacific time and ended at one o'clock Texas time. It was long but it could have been worse. I will close with a pic of Rocket Man because, well, he's too cute not to include in this post. 

3.04.2014

March Madness

March was very lion-like in its arrival this week.  Deceptive too.  Saturday, its first day here, was very lamb-ish, a balmy seventy five. I laughed at the forecast of winter like weather within twenty four hours. March had the last laugh.

Sunday after church it began to rain. Eh, no big deal. Then the temperature dropped, a lot. The rain began turning to freezing rain, oy. At 6:40 p.m. there was a flicker, flicker, flicker and then this...for the next thirty eight hours. 


Freezing rain + no power = a weather day from work. Yay! Hank stayed home too. Here's what awaited us after we dressed and ventured out.




Yoga trees practicing their downward dog pose. I fear they will never strike tree pose again.





As I was snapping away, there was a crraackk behind me. I thought it was another branch falling, there were so many. I turned in time to see, but not capture, a tree falling. This tree.  All sixty feet of it. 


To say it got cold is an understatement, well, cold for my Little Corner of Texas. Even the cardinals were wearing their finest puffy coat.


Today was clean-up day. As we worked I noticed that as damaging as ice storms can be, there is a beauty that is unsurpassed.  Everything had a Martha Stewart-getting-ready-for-a-party look.








Mr. Sun struggled to make his presence known this morning, once he did though, things began to thaw out pretty quick and then he went out with a bang.






It's been crazy cold this year, hopefully this lion-like March Madness will be the last of it. Before I know it, the Texas heat will be here, next week maybe, and then I'll long for the cold. Never satisfied, are we?

2.15.2014

Snippets

Things that have been on my mind...

The weather.  It's been cray-zee!

One day this,


two days later...sixty eight and windows wide open. It's been like this most of the winter, literally freezing one day, then warm and sunny a few days later. Crazy, I tell you, crazy.


The Winter Olympics.

Oh the moaning and groaning of the conditions at Sochi. Really? I mean, must the 'Ugly American' be so pervasive? So things aren't perfect, what party is? Have these people not ever thrown a party and had a few things go wrong? We're not all Martha Stewart perfect. I'm sure there were imperfections when the U.S. hosted this party but we didn't hear about that, now did we. Okay, enough of that. On to this:

Did you see the U. S. play Russia in hockey? Oh, my!! I don't understand anything about hockey, other than little puck has to go in the net for a point to score. The team with the most points wins. If there's a tie at the end of regulation time, you go into overtime, still tied, you have a shoot out. I was on pins and needles. Wow! Awesome.

photo cred: Doug Mills New York Times

My new hero, Noelle Pikus-Pace. What an amazing athlete.

photo cred: Getty Images

Not familiar with her story? Read about her comeback and her silver medal run

The Biggest Loser.  

So much has been said about the huge amount of weight this year's winner lost, I won't weigh in on that (sorry about the pun). I used to watch the show, hoping for motivation, inspiration in my never ending quest to lose weight. More often than not, I'd find myself dejected and depressed after watching an episode. Why can't I lose eight pounds in one week? How do they do that? I want what they have! So I quit watching, it help me not feel like a loser for not losing humongous amounts of weight in a short period of time.  But the damage is done. 

My battle with the scale seems to be my lot in life. There are periods where I feel confidant no matter that I'm overweight and there are times when, well, all I wan't to do is crawl into a hole and never come out because, seriously, our society values the thin and beautiful much more than any other. It's a daily struggle. On the weight losing wagon and then off, on-off, on-off, on-off, right now I'm on. It's not any easier this time around, every weekly weigh-in I hope for that magical Biggest Loser eight pound loss but instead I find a pound lost or a stay the same.  And, in my mind I hear the Biggest Loser host and trainers saying "ah man, what did you not do this week that you only lost a pound". Then, I review my week, look and my food log and see that I did everything right and still the BL magic doesn't happen. I hate that show. In a month's time I've lost eight pounds, I should be jumping for joy, right? But no, I feel disappointment, to the point that I want to give up. But, I can't I've made a commitment to myself, hopefully this time I'll stay on the wagon long enough to see miraculous results, even if it takes a year or two. 

My students.

When did parents decide that being a parent was too much of a bother? Why, why, why do parents quit on their children!? I don't care how difficult a child might be you don't throw them out on the streets. Here's a wake-up call, when you choose to become a parent it's a commitment to another human. I know how challenging teenagers can be, I'm with them five days a week eight hours a day and then, sometimes on the weekends, I'm with them some more. They are not dogs that can be thrown out because they become a bit of a burden. Okay, enough of the soapbox.

Sunsets and sunrises.

I'm obsessed with them.  Mother Nature has been in fine form too.


And that's what's been on my mind.

1.20.2014

Not Ready for National Geographic

Two weeks back at work and already a day off...life is good! You'd think that I'd sleep-in on day such as today, seems the norm for most, sleeping in on a day off. For some reason my circadian rhythm doesn't allow me to do that, which is fine, too many things to do to stay in bed past 5:30. Crazy, I know. 

I decided to take advantage of my early morning weirdness and head out for some one-on-one with the rising sun. It's been a while since I wandered the nether regions of the ranch in the wee hours of the morning. Mr. Sun did not disappoint.



After a few minutes of looking east, I turned to the west. Not as vibrant but beautiful nonetheless.


When I would take early morning walks with Dog a few years back, we'd often encounter wildlife. I'd sometimes berate myself for not having the camera with me. This morning I thought 'hey, V this is perfect. you have the camera, you're in a somewhat hidden area, wait quietly and you'll capture some wildlife on film.' So I waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

Evidently, the coyotes didn't deliver the memo that I'd be hanging around ready to take free portraits. Dang. In my hour of waiting, I managed to capture:

A fish coming up for breakfast.


Two ducks taking flight.



Some fungi on a stump.


And five vultures catching some rays before they headed off to find some dead carcass.  


I was freezing by the time I decided to head back to the house. Forty five degrees is not freezing but factor in a stiff breeze and I was ready for warmth. I'm not quite ready for National Geographic to come calling, how do they do it?!

Crossing the bridge back to our side of the ranch I glanced back and saw this


Mr. Sun never lets me down. I also had the bovine army standing sentinel on our side, crazy cows. 



I need to be better prepared on my next foray into wildlife photography, hot chocolate, socks with the shoes, little things like that. I just know there's a deer or coyote that's ready for its close-up.

1.19.2014

Twenty Years..

I watched Sleepless in Seattle this weekend. Next to You've Got Mail, this is one of my favorite movies.  I guess it's the Hanks/Ryan combo that does it for me, or maybe the Nora Ephron story line. No matter. As I watched I came to the realization that things have changed exponentially in twenty years. Twenty really isn't that long, is it? Maybe it doesn't seem that long because I've lived those twenty years or maybe it's that I'm getting older, hmmm...

So what's changed?

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, well that's obvious isn't it. Older, more seasoned but they were adorable weren't they?

Telephones. Oh, my. Cord on your phone? Really? 

Computers. Were the keyboards really that loud??!! And the neon green letters on the monitor?! And the monitors, oh my. Do you remember DOS? 

Airports. Pre 9/11 you went all the way to the gate to wait for your arriving people...and you got to see them off at the gate. I miss that. Dang terrorist!

Headphones. No white cords coming out of the Walkman back then and they went all the way over your head from one ear to the other, although, those are back in vogue.

I found it interesting that TCM was showing it. TCM is reserved for the old movies, you know the ones, It Happened One Night, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Rear Window. I suppose twenty years could make a movie a classic, at least the style and theme of Sleepless in Seattle are those of the classics. 

Is twenty years really all that long ago? Or, is what they say about time flying by as you grow older really true...don't answer that :).



1.05.2014

...there's a bathroom on the right

Procrastination has become my middle name, at least where blogging is concerned. Perhaps I will make amends and do better but then again...

One of my intended posts for December was to show the breathtaking beauty of the full moon last month. If the skies were clear in your area of the world, you know what I mean. Over a two day period it was almost as if I could reach up and pluck that beautiful white orb out of the sky. 

I really did intend to show you the beauty, I have the photos to back me up on my intent. Here, let me show you.

This was Miss Moon on the fifteenth, no filter just her in all her glory.


And here she is the next morning, a bit higher in the horizon but beautiful nonetheless. Again, no filters or editing.


On the sixteenth I happened to out and about around the time she began to emerge from the other side of the world. Unfortunately, I didn't have a tripod ready so the clarity is not what it could have been. 


While taking the above picture I had the Creedence Clearwater Revival song where the chorus says 'there's a bad moon on the rise' playing in my head which then caused me to remember what Hank used to think it said 'there's a bathroom on the right'. Yeah, I don't know either.

Coming back home from my out and abouting I saw the Miss Moon a little higher in the night sky and figured that if I used the car hood as a tripod I might get a couple of interesting shots. Tell me what you think.



I love photographing the sun and the moon, especially in the winter as the air is clearer. I relish waiting for just the right moment to capture the glory of God in his creations. However, often what I see and capture on film (er, flash card) are not the same. Nothing can compare with seeing nature in its natural state...but it's sure fun to try and interpret what I see.