22 November 2012


Thankful for family and friends, near and far on this beautiful autumn day.  

Thankful for all that I have and all I am able to give.

Blessings all around to you and yours, wherever you may be today.

11 September 2012

We Remember 9-11-2011.

15 August 2012

Fair time

So was it just me, or did you all get sucked into the weeks of Olympic goodness too?  I love watching those games.  I could have helped NBC with much better TV production choices - because who needs THAT much beach volleyball?  But really, such good times by all those wonderful athletes!   The soccer and gymnastics teams? Wahoo!!  And I can never be too impressed by the sync diving folks.  Seriously, how much work is involved perfecting those dives and then doing them together?!  Now I can't wait for the next round of winter games too.

My personal weekend activities were not quite as exciting, but we did get in some nice family time and catching up with old friends.  Jody and her daughter took me to a local fair near their house.  It was a perfect afternoon of giggles, games and cotton candy.  That last part was my choice!  Jody and I met eons ago when we were mere pups in graduate school.  We've held on through the years, even when they moved to England for a few years.  It was lovely to visit them there too.  They introduced me to some of my now favorite places to travel.

Here are a few shots of Taryn enjoying some of the kiddie rides.  She contemplated trying one of the bigger ones (she was big enough), but in the end thought it might be a wee bit too scary without her big brother along to keep her company.  He and Dad were on a scouting weekend, so this day it was just us girls.

The sun was pretty strong and some of the rides caused shadows across the face, but I attempted to adjust the lighting and such.  I should probably read up on how to edit those types of problems better.

I think this was one of my favorites, she looks happy, but is still holding on tight as the merry-go-round cruises by her Mom and I.

I hope you are sneaking in a few more summer memories as we fly toward fall.  The heat has lessened here the past week and it is glorious.  As I walked to lunch today I thought of a phrase my friend's mother loves to say "if the weather was this good all the time, we couldn't afford to live here!"

01 August 2012

Getting back up

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine who is training for a half marathon.  I was more of a 5k girl myself - charity events mostly because I could get motivated for those.  I don't run anymore and shockingly, miss it a little.  In late 2001 while teaching a full contact self-defense class for women, I felt a sharp searing pain down my right leg.  I finished the class (we were doing kicking moves) and then told my boss I was done working until I could see a doctor the next day.  I learned from a series of doctors and tests that I had torn my outer tendon (near the ankle) and separated all of the ligaments in my foot from the bones.  In case you wondering, yes that hurt as much as it sounds.  Apparently I was an overachiever that way.  I had surgery in 2002 and while I recovered well after months of physical therapy, additional medical complications caused me to never regain complete range of motion.  Over the past 10 years, I have also lost more muscle control of that ankle.

So when the neurologist suggested this cool new carbon-fiberglass-Kevlar item, I was all for trying something new.  This is used for a variety of reasons, including longer distance runners that may of lost some of their muscle or nerve response over the years.  Basically, there is a "foot" that slides under the liner of your shoe, and the composite part slide around the front of the ankle (so you don't roll it) and up the front of the calf.  It has padding and adjustable velcro straps to fit along the leg.  It weighs 6 ounces - I'm not kidding, the shoes are heavier.  The design is made so you walk heel-toe by rebounding the foot for you.  The first time I walked across the room relatively normally I was shocked.  I didn't think that would ever happen again.  The first couple days I wore this I felt like I was almost bouncing.  I could totally see how helpful it would be for runners.

After a couple weeks of "break-in" period, I can walk better than I have in years.  My ankle and calf muscle not-so-silently protested the first few days because they thought they had retired 5 years ago!  Not so.  I'm not sure if I will gain any strength while using this, but I'd be happy with less loss of current usage.  I do plan on trying it on a bike trainer and jogging on a treadmill as well.  I will need the support because I still have really poor balance, but using the bars on a treadmill could get me back to the cardio level my docs keep talking about! Stay turned.

Yesturday I went shoe shopping, which has been challenging for the past few years.  I was able to find some comfy and stylish Clark's that work just fine with both this and my dress pants.  Who knew?  The guy at the shoe shop was actually really interested in how it all worked and thought it was genius.  I wanted to share my experiences with this because our society spends a great deal of time impying we all need to be perfect, when clearly that is not the case.  We just need to be happy and part of that is helping each other find our way - in our own way.

There is a woman who has been keeping a blog and Facebook page about using one of these to run half marathons.  It's called Get Back Up! On the Facebook page many people post how they have been able to get back to things they love doing, now that they have a little power assist. The company that makes it is Allard which is based in Sweden - in case you or someone you know needs wants to check out their cool inventions. 

Out for a walk now...

26 July 2012

I believe

A quick post tonight because I have to pack for a road trip and clean the house - because who wants to come home to a messy house?  The week flew by without me finishing items on the "to do" list.  Oh well!  I made this for some friends.  I used one of my favorite rose macros and layered on a phrase I saw in a store somewhere.  I thought it was very comforting for all kinds of things.  I hope you had a good week and look forward to coming back with more fun after the weekend.

22 July 2012

A baby no more

When I first got my camera, many of my friends were having babies.  So, I took photos of a few, but Baby A was the first try at getting portrait like shots.  They were rough, but she was cute, so really that counts for everything.  Here's one of those early shots - coloring, lighting and focus all wrong.  

This weekend we tried again with a toddler A.  And even though she wasn't really in the mood, I think we got a few great shots.  She was pretty entertaining and there was no crying, so I call that a win.

I think the one above is one of my favorites, but really I was happy with everything.

Ok this pose - totally spontaneous and adorable.  
All of these from the weekend are adjusted with Pioneer Woman's actions - love those!

The one above was taken from a pretty good distance and then cropped in.  She was getting tired of playing model and was running around the garden area.  I just kept shooting and got a few nice ones.

Here she was sitting with Mom, but I loved the head shot so much, 
I edited it to just her.  Mom gets to be in the next one, on the bench.

And finally, the look that indicates we are done with the camera for today - Ha!

I hope you enjoyed attempt two of the adorable photo shoot.  I do see great progress in the final shots and Mom and I think if we do it with a little more frequency, she'll get used to it and be more comfortable.  She's pretty great with people in general, but after a long day it can be hard.

18 July 2012

Bits 'O my summer so far

I thought I'd throw a few things together in this post.  Some fun events and a summer treat.  First, ladies night out - this time dinner and a Barry Manilow concert!  We were blessed with a box and had a great time singing along with the crowd and Barry.  Not a huge crowd, but it was located in an arena venue, so all the little purple lights that were handed out made it look really cool.  

Another fun adventure, breakfast with the President of The Ohio State University.  There were about 100 folks there and we all made new friends while enjoying a nice (EARLY) meal.  I chose to not shoot a crowd photo, you know because we were eating and who really likes to see that shot?!

A little speaking engagement I threw in my already overbooked week in May.  I'd tell you what it was about, but then I'd have to... ok, just kidding.  I talked about some software I use in my work and how it applies to large scale events and in-progress emergency situations.  Clear as mud, right?  

And a yummy summer treat I stumbled upon, southern sweet tea for the Keurig coffee makers.  You just put a regular tumbler with ice and brew like you would normally, a perfect iced tea!  You can find them online or use a 20% coupon at Bed, bath and beyond (and free shipping on these if you don't live near a brick and mortar store.)  Not a product endorsement, just a fun find if you like tea.

Have a great day!

14 July 2012


While I was on my little hiatus, I attended a couple different memorials.  One for my friend Heather and one for police week.

First, I met up with friends and family in Marietta, Ohio to celebrate Heather's birthday, the first time without her.  She was a triathlete and when she got sick, many people talked about having a run or a bike ride to raise money for her bills.  She made us all promise that we would never make anyone run on her behalf!  So we had the first annual HeatherZG 0 k.  No running, just good memories, good stories, and some margaritas.

It was a sunny day, so it seemed a little extra sad to go to the cemetery in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  A time usually reserved for family fun and weekly errands, the events of the living.  I had thought of driving out there so many times over the past few months, thinking that maybe seeing the plaque in the ground personally might help me feel closer to her.  But I never made that drive until this day.  We stood around the grave, sharing our thoughts, a few feelings, generally just wanting her to know we were there.  One of the group had put a Margarita in the water bottle from Heather's last tri event.  We passed it around to share and sprinkled some on the grave.  We talked about how much Heather would like that we were together and Wendy poured the last of the drink on the ground, including the ice.  We joked about how Heather was an ice cruncher and she would have been mad if we hadn't shared it all with her. 
Just then, in the full sunny day, it started to lightly rain.  If there was ever doubt she was there, it was gone at that moment.  We all quietly stood in the rain and smiled.

On the shirts her sister had made.

In May, I attended a police memorial.  May is National Police week in the U.S.  Not every one can make it to Washington, DC for the main event and large memorial, so many smaller ones are held throughout the nation.  This one had officers speaking, a police horse, a laying of the wreath and bugle player off in the distance. 

(I took about 30 different shots of this wreath, it was so gorgeous in person.  Many macros and some cluster shots.  I will use them with some flag shots for future events.  I also sent some to the event planner so she would have one to take to the florist each year.  It helps in getting exactly what they want for this ceremony.)

09 July 2012

In the Navy!

My friend Abbie has had a few challenging years.  So, a few months ago she decided to find more meaning in her life and signed up for the Navy Reserves!  This is a test of endurance for most, but as a second career and her age not being in the 18-22 year old range, she is looking at an even more difficult path.  I applaud her dedication, her running over the months to build up strength, the changes in eating habits to encourage a more healthy existence, and the mental toughness she'll need to push through.

Here's a grainy photo of Abbie and I at her send off party.  She's been happier than I have seen her in years as she looks forward to this new place.  The first few months of basic training will be the worst, but after that we'll be able to write and email her again.  I know we all wish her well and expect nothing but success!  Congratulations Abbie and well done!

03 July 2012

Happy 4th of July! (and some memories)

(Still one of my favorite first shots with my Nikon.)
Fourth of July was always a big deal where I grew up.  We lived in a neighborhood of about 250 families, where everyone knew everyone else and it was a good thing.  The day would start almost before the sun was visible, with truck fulls of kids (and some adults) driving around making as much noise as possible with pot lids, bull horns, and whistles to get you up.  Then, there was a kid's bike parade, with crepe paper draped on every available surface, sparkly objects were woven into the wheel spokes and red, white, and blue tassels were on the end of the handlebars.  Some of the kids were big enough to ride, some were pushed on trikes by their parents or siblings.  It wasn't a long parade...unless you were 4 and you had to pump you little legs the whole way!  This went on rain or shine, with the sunny days being more fun, but the rainy ones getting everyone colored and festive by the crepe dye early in the day.

The parade ended at the "meadow", which was the grass space in front of the beach and the lake.  The celebrations were kicked off in earnest by a heartfelt singing of the national anthem and one BIG firecracker from the island.  There were booths set up for food, soda, and beer.  Games included egg carry, water balloon toss, and capture the watermelon.  The watermelon game was something you almost have to see to believe.  They grease it up, throw it in the lake and then teams attempt to get it to their dock first.  The winning team then wrestles it out of the water, busts it open and shares with everyone.  There were team sports - softball, volleyball, and tennis matches.  There was a talent show, which brought many a tear of laughter to your eyes!  There was much swimming and catching up with friends from school, neighbors who had to move out of the area and had come back just for this day, and then in the later afternoon - nap time for the kids.

(photo credit: Betsy F. Mast)
In the evening the neighborhood roads would be covered with cars bumper to bumper of visitors from near and far.  In later years we had to have people come in through a designated entrance to the community and keep a list, as to keep out too many people that would make the fire marshall nervous.  We would all grab folding chairs, blankets, bug spray (really important after a day of perhaps a wee bit too much sun and then sitting near a water source at night), longer pants, and flashlights.  We would make the walk from wherever we lived in the neighborhood back to the meadow and stake a claim on the perfect spot to watch the fireworks display.  They shot the fireworks from across the lake, with some sparkler ones on the island.  You could always tell when the island ones were about to start, because the guy lighting them would strike the match and then dive away into the water for his own safety!  This wasn't a large city display, so the firecrackers were a little further apart, but that made us appreciate them all the more. It gave us time to discuss and debate which were the prettiest, the most interesting.  Some of the little children would be wearing big headphones to try and block the noise (*raises hand*) and others would sleep right through the later portions of the act.

When the finale was completed and all the memories had been made, we packed up and walked back home.  This is where the flashlights were important.  We didn't have street lights or sidewalks in our neighborhood and we had many, many full grown trees.  We hoofed in home almost as part of an evening parade, saying goodbye to each other as we reached each respective house.  We lived there long enough that I could have walked home in the complete dark and found my way, but having a little light is always nice.

This neighborhood still has a version of these celebrations each year and now some of the children I grew up with are the parents who own the homes.  The lake photo is from one of those folks, a high school friend of mine raising her family a couple streets over from where I lived and where her husband grew up.  Cheers!

(An earlier story about the Lake, if you're interested.)

01 July 2012

Heaven shines through

This was the morning sky on the way to work this week.  The rays (toward the bottom) were much more pronounced than it seems here, they were gorgeous.  I didn't have my Nikon, so the iphoto has to suffice.  It was a beautiful peaceful way to start the day.  Especially considering our week ended with 82 mh winds and rain, taking out power to 1M people in Ohio.  No complaints from me though, as it could have been so much worse.  We'll clean up and search for the items blown around the neighborhood!

30 June 2012

Royal Mail

It's not every day I get mail from the Queen!  Here is my Diamond Jubilee tea caddy, all the way from London.  I realized I probably would not be making it to England this year, so I ordered this to add to my tea tin collection.  It's quite lovely and came packed tightly with plenty of stuffing for protection.  The tea is yummy too!  Looking forward to enjoying this while I plan a trip for next spring - I hope!

26 June 2012

Finding my path in spirituality class

I have been in academia a long time, some may say too long.  While I have really enjoyed most of my coursework through the years, once in a while I hit a class that isn't all I hoped it would be.  I think this time around I might have set my hopes too high for the class to deliver.  The group was small, which should have been a benefit to the discussions about spirituality.  Unfortunately, it was also a younger group of students, with many still in the "I must impress the teacher with my ability to recall the reading" view, not ones ready to tackle a potentially challenging topic of spirituality.

Another aspect of the class that was well-meaning, but distracting was all of the "hands on" opportunities the professor kept coming up with.  Here you see folks in a labyrinth.  This can be a truly relaxing approach to zoning out of the distractions of everyday life and becoming present.  However, with 14 people in the small spaces, moving at different paces is just distracting.  I'm sure I will go back to this space (it's not far from my office) when I am alone or perhaps with one other person and walk it again.  For those interested in the history of the labyrinth, find the wiki link here.

Other adventures included yoga (see the photo below), an Asian tea ceremony, an astronomy presentation and a drum circle. With a little more formal discussion prior to or incorporated with any of these events, would have made the class really good.

On the up side, and in joining with the Soli Deo Gloria Party, I would like to share what I did get from this class.  Some of the assignments were reflection papers related to the readings of different spiritual writers in religion and education.  I have reached an age where I have no problem sharing things about my life, challenges, and feelings, even with assignments such as these.  As the weeks progressed I wrote about the sudden death of my friend last fall, the dissatisfaction I have with the direction my job is going, the mental exhaustion of trying to keep too many balls in the air, and my desire to return to a simpler life.  It probably took me 6 of the 10 weeks to realize that my heart was speaking to ME through these assignments. 

So, I stopped wondering "what if" I could change things and started changing them.  I decided that there was never going to be a better time to do the work involved with re-setting my life.  I learned that while I value the work I do now and find it very important to the community I serve, I am no longer the person that needs to do it.  I need to go back to helping students succeed in becoming the positive citizens we hope will move forward.  I missed seeing that moment when the light goes on in their head. (And let me tell you, some days it takes a long time before that happens!)

Some of the practical parts of this change include actively seeking out a new position, whereever that may take me.  Which then leads to selling my current place, which of course meant I finally had to tackle the storage of years worth of memories and stuff.  I have done a good deal of it so far and will continue as I job search.  I f I haven't found anything by spring, I will attempt to sell the place anyway.  It's a gorgeous place, but I can live in half the space comfortably and could use the difference in cost of living to do more traveling - which is really where my heart lies.

It's clear to me now, that the purpose of me choosing this class was to open my own heart and mind to what needed to change and to find the strength to do the work.  It will continue to be a challenging path, but one I truly believe I should be taking at this point.  Thanks for sharing in my journey.

24 June 2012

A big day

My Grandmother had her 95th birthday in May.  We all headed to where she lives to have some food, fun, laughs, stories, and cake!  I saw friends and cousins I hadn't seen in a while.  We talked with Grandma's "baby" brother, who is 91 and caught up with everyone.  This is the second grandparent to reach this age and overall my family members have some serious longevity. 

Here's Gram, showing off some of her candy haul.  'Cuz really, when you reach this age, you get to eat pretty much whatever you want.  She does try to stretch them and shares with friends.  She had both chocolates and hard candies, you know, variety is the spice of life!

One of my favorite snapshots from the day, my niece and BIL taking some photos of their own.  She is totally into using a camera and at other events has been going around the room and snapping away.  Occasionally we have some floor and ceiling shots, but really, she's pretty good!

21 June 2012

Hello again sweet friends!

When I paused to collect my thoughts for a few weeks and get some things done, I had no idea I would be gone so long.  I have many wonderful stories, events, and photos to share, but I will spread them out and not overwhelm you!

I realized once I started getting down to it, that many things in "my house" needed to be ordered.  Not just the physical items, although we'll get to those in a second, but also the stress and emotional items I'd been stuffing in boxes and piling on shelves around the place (and in my head).  So, I got down to work, sorted, trashed, sold, gave away, dealt with, and moved forward.  It was exhausting - and I haven't felt this good in years!

My neighborhood had a multi-house garage sale.  I took this as a sign it was time to finally attack the storage spaces I had been ignoring for years. You see, I had available space so I filled it and didn't really have to look at it, so it was easy to walk away from the mess.  I realized as I drug things out I hadn't seen in years, that some of it was the emotional baggage attached to the items.  They symbolized a past life that I needed to let go.  They brought good and sad memories, but mostly lightened my load when I could see floors and walls of closets again.  I donated bags of clothing, books, took 4 file size boxes of paperwork to the shred-it day (where you drive up and they take the boxes out of your car, hand it to the nice person working the monster shredder truck, and *poof*, all your important identifying info is gone), and hauled the rest to the garage for the sale.  Here's one shot as proof:

I had taken some great advice from some of the professional garage-salers I know and got ready for an early Friday crowd.  As I was setting out the signs in the morning, a couple folks circling the neighborhood followed me home and waited for me to open the door.  Then we were off running!  It rained off and on all morning, but I was still very pleased with the turnout and items taken to be enjoyed elsewhere.  Saturday it was sunny and breezy, just a really gorgeous day, which is why I didn't notice my pasty white skin turning into this, until it was too late:

After my success of both cleaning and purging my old baggage, I decided to buy some new luggage and renew my passport for future travels! 

I'll be back later in the weekend to bring you more from my time away - it involves cake, adorable people, traditions and tributes, ladies night out, stories from the past, and the wrap up of my spirituality class. Until then...

16 April 2012

time out

It's official, I have more to do these days than I have time in the week.  

I'm not exactly sure how that happened!  

I love sharing my adventures with you all and will be back at it in a few weeks.  In the meantime I do hope to pop into your blogs when possible and share your fun!  

Enjoy Spring,


10 April 2012

SOOC flowers

Joining a SOOC challenge today over at pullingmymaskoff.

I really enjoy the paper-like quality of the white flowers and the pretty blue of the ground cover flowers.  I appreciate how the gardeners used all of the available space, but didn't crowd anything.


09 April 2012

spring pop of color

One of the best parts of spring is when the tulips in front of my work building pop open.  There are thousands within the median and it makes everyone's day start beautifully.  This year there was a surprise, multiple colors!

In years past there were only white and red, which is also beautiful, in its own way. 

Kudos to our fabulous grounds staff!  


04 April 2012

everyday miracles

These are the buds and blooms on the tree I walk by every day into work. 
 I shot these last week on a perfect sunny day, with blue skies, and a summer like breeze. 

I was using my 35mm prime lens and enjoy the results very much, as these are all SOOC.

Of course, that fact that they are perfect little miracles to start with, helps a lot!

Have a happy day!


28 March 2012

spirituality and education

I am taking another graduate class this spring, for a variety of reasons.  I seem to have spent so much of my life in a classroom that it's more comfortable to me than lots of other places.  I have this last degree still hanging out there and although I have plenty of coursework completed, I haven't quite finished the required "book report", so I'm keeping my grad status active with this course.

The class is spirituality and education. (I'll explain the photos a little later on, enjoy them as I ramble).  I chose this class partly because I've taken just about everything else offered in the program and partly because I could use a little spiritual intervention to break up my work days right about now.  My job has been transitioning, due to changes in need at work and changes in society behaviors.  OK, admittedly that's vague, but trust me when I say you'll sleep better not having the details.  I used to get to help people directly, but now my role is more removed, analytical and on-demand.

So I signed up for this 3 hour break in my week.  I had a pretty good idea about the instructor without ever meeting him.  Again, lots of time in the classroom, so when he ordered a book that was old enough to not come in e-format and there was no syllabus in my e-mail the week before the session started, I knew we were going to be flee flowing a little more than past coursework.  I was right.  He was the quintessential theology/education professor from his plaid button-down shirt and khakis all the way to his sandals.  With enough enthusiasm to last more than the 3 hour time block allowed.

Guest Heart Thursday photo
The professor emphasized that this was a class about spirituality, learning and our stories.  Which is what made the absence of the introduction exercise so interesting to me.  Usually we go around the room, give a little background about ourselves, explain why we chose to be there, etc.  Nope, none of that this time.  We did spend a little time in small groups (uugghh) talking about a couple personal history points, but nothing too detailed.  I'm even more curious now at how "our stories" are going to evolve.

Say hello to my little friend!
So this brings us to the floral display.  About 2 hours in, the professor decided that because it was the perfect spring day in the midwest, and that we could never count on when the next one would be coming, we should appreciate it for what it is.  That is, be in the moment as it presents itself today.  So, the class hopped a bus and headed to the other side of campus to visit the gardens.  The only instructions were to be alone (not chat with each other, which was harder for some) and be in the moment.  I'm pretty sure the earlier lecture about not using your phone during class was supposed to apply here as well.  However, for me, focusing on the new blooms, fresh baby leaves and little critters to be found with my camera IS the way I am in the moment.  So I just went with it and took these shots as I wondered through the garden that is about 1 block in length.

I am optimistic that I will find some new meaning and lessons through this adventure.  I'll probably be sharing more along the way. Maybe we'll even get more opportunities to enjoy spring's gifts!