Walkabout Down Memory Lane

I may have mentioned I started walking to work this spring…

 

Ok…so I’m kinda obsessed, and ya’ll get to share.

This morning, I was passed by a commuter on roller skates.  She was a middle-aged lady, wore a fairly standard backpack, and sported a bright pink helmet with matching knee and elbow pads.  The wheels on her skates may have matched the bright pink of the rest of her ensemble, but had been darkened slightly from use.

She was also on the street – which is a hell of a lot smoother than the sidewalk I was currently pounding.

I had to giggle just a bit – but not loud enough to put her off her stride.  I’d hate to cause an accident with my rather hard-to-explain mirth.

See – I did the roller skate thing a long time ago.

Remember wavy

Look out!!!! It’s the ‘memory shimmer!’

I officially became a teenager in the tender year of 1980.

but I’m still 29 thanks to ‘female’ maths

In this year of big, permed hair, screen-printed satin jackets, and eye-blistering neon-colors – one of the biggest social gathering places for those newly minted teens was the skating rink.  There, you could blithely roll your heart out on a stretch of perfectly level, perfectly straight, and perfectly clean poured concrete, while the punk music blasted out of the speakers and stage lights flared, spun and flickered across the painted expanse.

All your classmates were there, too…doing what teens do worst – attempting to flirt with the opposite sex.

Well, except for me.  I was more interested in actually skating.

At this age, I didn’t yet understand the biological Human directive to form pair bonds…

I had a pair of rink skates.  Not the little metal numbers you had to screw onto your shoes (although I owned a pair or two of those, too…) – but a real pair of above-the-ankle leather boots with the wheel assembly permanently bolted onto the hard sole.  I dressed ’em up with hot pink wheels, neon-purple, sparkly laces, and pink/purple puffballs strapped to the toes.  I even had a bright blue satin jacket with the rink’s name screen-printed across the back.

The rink was within walking distance of home, and I went there every chance I could.  Not that there were a lot of chances in 1980.  The parent’s divorce was final, and Mom had moved back to the ‘ancestral’ part of Wisconsin with my and my little brother in tow to work a 2nd shift job in a nursing home.  Guess who got the responsibility of making sure I and my little 10 year old brother had food at night?

I can still wield a can opener with the best Olympiads!

So 1980 was memorable, if only for the year I got my first ‘real’ skates, learned how to heat up cans of food, and realized I had little awareness of or interest in the whole boy/girl attraction thing.

I loved my skates though…they represented freedom & frivolity!

Now…I’m just gonna fast-forward through the remains of the 80’s.  The fashion trends are starting to make a comeback, anyway, so why remember when I can just look out a window and see the same stuff on the street?

Yea!!!  I’m 20.  Out on my own for the first time eveah!  Just me and my wits against the rest of society!

Damn…this sucks.  

A broken-down car, some mother-fu*k3#! stealing my bicycle, less than $50 in the bank, a tiny efficiency apartment with a lecherous landlord, a job waiting tables in an extremely depressed segment of the US…

Yea…I had to walk to work.  But, unlike now…back then I resented having to do it.  I’d rather have had wheels.

Can you see where I’m going with this?  I HAD wheels – my old trusty freedom-loving skates.  And, unlike the bicycle that went off on its own, the skates I could bring inside the restaurant for protection against the tender mercies of the more ‘unsavory’ elements in town.

So I skated to work once…

 

 

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ONCE!

It didn’t go so well.  First…I was out of practice.  Second, the sidewalks had cracks and pits and ankle-breaking perils (sticks, small stones, various debris) randomly scattered about.  Third – curbs.  Do you know how difficult it is to step off a curb with wheels strapped to your feet???

Lastly – there was traffic.  Both other pedestrians and actual cars.

There were no cars in the Skate-Rink…and everyone rolled the same direction.

Welcome to real life!

 

I did survive that trip in to work…sweaty and shaking but intact and unbroken.  At the end of that shift serving grouchy people burgers & fries…mopping up various spills and cleaning tables that the public left incredibly messy – I didn’t even bother lacing the skates back on.  I just looped ’em over my shoulders and walked back to my little shelter.

I don’t think I ever wore my skates again.

 

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Get on my Lawn!

For quite some time, now, I have a segment of my walk where I abandon the solid concrete and put feet on the ground itself.  I feel by doing so, I connect just that much better with our Earth.  Connecting with nature (even the tiny bits you find in your standard city) is something that speaks beyond words.

There is this long swatch of grass bordering the railroad tracks and the river.  Because it’s this close to the tracks, it’s considered the domain of the city (you can’t build that close to the tracks because…well…when rail accidents happen, they tend to spread their destruction), and thus, is fair game for any walkers who wish to wander.

So…I leave the pavement at the beginning of this swatch, and tromp across a narrow band of green with the river on one side, the street on the other, and the tracks once the river bends north to swing around Bethesda Park.

Right here…the little red line…is part of my walk home.

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The trees along this stretch fan out and over the grass, giving me a bit of shade.  The breeze comes up from the river, giving me a bit of relief from the (usually) hot sun.  It’s here that I offer a bit of blessing, and a bit of homage, to the Fox River.

I honor the Fox River with a bow and a few soft words of admiration when I come up to this point on my homeward journey, because water is life, for which I am grateful.

The Natural has taken it upon itself to give a little something back to me.

Raspberry bush

I have been graced with a tangle of wild raspberry bushes under the canopy of trees bordering the river.

I take one or 2 berries a day…just a bit of sweetness for my walk.  I leave the rest.  So far, the bushes haven’t been stripped by any foragers…either of the 4 legged or 2 legged kind.  I feel it’s a bit of a secret understanding between the Natural and I – and a tangible display of our mutual acceptance of each other.

 

Three Line Thursday Contest

For more of Becky’s posts – see the link under

Becky Cummings Flicker page

It’s just a little ditty – you only get 30 words.  It’s been a while since I visited Grace at her place on the ‘net – it felt a bit like going back to a well-loved natural spot.

If you’ve the time and inclination – come lay down some ink on her site.

 

Here’s what I gave today:

 

Absorbing the message from the voice of the Natural
Allow silence. Welcome solitude. Accept…Alone.
You cannot drown in the stillness of yourself.

 

Green…things. Sleeves Optional

Sunset Park mapAbout a week ago – I had a rather dramatic event at work.  The boss lady put her foot down, rather hard, and a metric ton of resentment came oozing out from my position under the sole.

We occasionally rub each other the wrong way, as can happen when any 2 humans associate…especially when the diametric is one of superior/underling, where the underling thinks the superior is anything but…

I still have the ear of HER bosses, though, as they are in my office and she’s all the way on the west coast – so we’ll all get on a phone conversation at some time in the future and hammer out yet another compromise.

Just another one of them days…

ANYway – by the time I was done with the work day – I had managed to bleed some of the frustration I’d amassed from the morning’s hostilities – but there was still a great deal of negative energy to dispel.

Enter:  A new Greenspace.

It’s funny – this place is one I’ve been driving past for almost 7 years.  It’s greeted me on the way in to work; it’s been there on the drive home.  It’s a patient thing, as most of nature is, simply being natural in all the turning seasons until I was ready to make its acquaintance.  It’s a great swath of grass, bush and tree bracketed on one end by the Fox River, and associated with both the Glacial-Drumlin State Trail (which ambles its way across the south-central portion of Wisconsin) and the Fox River Trail, which is pretty Waukesha-centric.

a IMG_3861 clean grass

A brisk walk across this greenspace will get you far enough away from the city streets to have the river’s movement drown out most of the human noise.  It doesn’t have play equipment, ball diamonds, or any other ‘sports’ related things that attract kids, as it’s part of the Fox River sanctuary – and has to be left ‘unimproved.’

Ah…human arrogance in all it’s glory – thinking we improve on nature…

It was green, and brown, with sprinklings of pink and white and red from the flowering trees – a space full of sunlight and fresh, spring-green grass, with the scent of the river caressing the breeze.  It is a space heavily Earth-centric – but still retaining a healthy tie to water.

In short – it was a space I didn’t realize I had been looking for, but after an energizing meditation session on the grass, learned I’d desperately needed.

All it all, it’s a perfect place to continue learning how to listen to the nuances of this fantastic little ball of blue and green we live on, instead of just inhabiting it.

The Dirty Dozen

Tempest teacup crop

2014 to 2014. RIP little buddy…

Have I mentioned lately that I was infected with the photography bug a few years ago – and that as a result, I suffer from an obsessive desire to point various lenses at strange, twisted, ordinary or really beautiful things?  That this illness additionally manifests as an almost manic need to show these images to everyone who can stand a chance-encounter with my blog or my Facebook page?

There.  Photography is a disease.  Does that make my camera a drug?

Last year, after the frenzy of Christmas had died away to the cold doldrums of January in Wisconsin, I started browsing the web to alleviate the boredom.  The trouble started when I found my browser looking at cameras.

When all else fails…blame the computer!

Big cameras…complete with big price tags.  Cameras with them scary interchangeable lens systems and multiple menus and complex books for how to operate them.  In February, I dragged my credit card out of my wallet, and made it (well, the company who issued it, really) rather happy by using it to adopt a Canon Rebel.  Since then, I’ve had a lot of fun pointing it at the aforementioned strange things.

Now…here comes the hard part.  Going back through the files in my computer, I’ve chosen the “Dirty Dozen” – my 12 favorites, shot with the new camera.  These are the ones that I Ooooooh’d and Ahhhhh’d over when I saw what I’d captured in the small view screen, and continued to get all Oooey-gooey over when they came out of the camera and onto my computer screen…

Of all these shots – only one was manipulated beyond simple straightening or cropping in ‘shop…and even that one was merely a simple change of background.  No colors, pixels, or lighting adjustments were made to any of the Dirty Dozen.

Do you know how HARD it was to pick only 12????

The first one is obvious – I see it every time I take a look at the T&T.  This is the shot that started the blog…got me back into writing…and eventuA Tempest and a Teapot copyally, introduced me to all of you.  This is the only picture in the group where I did major adjustments in ‘shop – I took the teapot on the rocks, clipped it from its original background, and dropped it in front of the waves.  Both teapot and wave images were by my hand, taken on the same day, at the same location – which is why they fit well together – I didn’t have to balance lighting values.

AIMG_0633This next one was the inaugural launch of the Canon – the SQO and band-mates had a show in Mid-March – their first live event in over a year.  the Canon was primed and ready to catch fantastic images!

This is actually a shot taken when the headliner band was on stage – a group called the Black Moods based in Tempe, AZ.  They actually toured all the way up here – in the uncertainty of Spring in Wisconsin (yea, I was impressed) to introduce themselves to the world.  This is actually a shot of the lead singer’s hair, as he flipped it around behind the mic.

A WE Energies

Let’s go a bit further in the year – June.  June 13th, to be exact.  Friday, June 13th.  We had a full moon due to come up that night, and those who follow the heavenly bodies declared that this would be a yellow, honey-colored globe rising.  Thus…the Honey Moon.
I celebrated this celestial event by heading to the same beach where the T&T shot was taken – this time at night.  While I was waiting for the moon to make her appearance, I squeezed off this fantastic reflective shot of the Electric Company plant.

A Dave holding the moonAnd when the moon finally rose?  I had the SQO capture the whole thing in his hand.

Sadly, this was the end of the little teacup featured quite heavily in the early days of the T&T on Google –  Friday the 13th reared its ugly head, and caused the teacup to shatter on the cement walkway.

A bird Feeder Close

Skipping forward another month – we have a family thing every year in July up at my Dad’s place on Lake Reinhart.  I did get coerced into taking some of the stilted, stiff, wooden family groupings (which weren’t even considered for the Dirty Dozen) I detest, but then I got to aim the lens at nature and the landscaping.  Three of this day’s shooting made the list.  This one is a favorite bokeh shot.

A pump and Drops FramedDad built his own ornamental pond in his yard, and decked it out with a small bridge, fountains, and ancient, rusty outdoorsy things.  I’ve always had an obsession with water and reflective surfaces, but in this shot, I didn’t focus on the water in the pool, instead concentrating on the spray of fluid jetting up from the fountain.

A Fireball 4

The last shot from the reunion at the lake was my oldest son.  He used to skateboard until an unfortunate spill from his board resulted in breaking his ankle in 3 places.  While I had hoped he would find a nice, safe hobby to replace throwing himself high in the air, allowing gravity to drag him back -hard- to the ground, he took up spinning bundles of Kevlar, soaked in kerosene and set on fire, around his body as he danced.  Seeing though this wasn’t enough to give me a mild heart attack, he attempted again to halt my bodily functions by actually spitting flames.

At one point in the day, he discussed how his hobby was not as hazardous as skating.  The reply?  “Dude…you’re breathing fire!”

a IMG_2985

And speaking of fire – in September, the kid’s fire tribe held their last meet of the year.  Because I had shared the fire shot from the lake widely on Facebook, I was invited to point the camera at their group as they played with flame.  Out of that series, this one, and the one below, made the ‘Dozen.’

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After this shoot, I realized one major thing.  The shots taken earlier in the evening were great – as the night wore on, shots were less likely to be sharp – the reason?  Fatigue.  The arms start to get tired holding the camera up, and start to shake.  When taking shots in a dark location – any shaking is transmitted to the image.  Off I went to the ‘net in search of a new rig – the shoulder harness.  I can’t wait until the spinners do their thing again, as I’ll be ready to be steady throughout the night.

IMG_3287October rolled around, fading the greens of summer to the autumn palette of tans, reds, browns, and yellows.  I took one final stroll down the Waukesha Riverwalk and up Main Street to catch the Autumn feeling.

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And, finally, November.  The Feastaval.  I have to include this one in the ‘Dozen,’ because I absolutely love the shadow which appeared in the light of the staff…it’s sharp and crisp and painfully in focus.  The staff’s path created whirlpools of vibrant color.  a IMG_3442 crop

**Whew**

I’m spent.  Reviewing all the shots I’ve taken over the last year, even narrowing it down to ONLY the Canon shots, and then having to pick the best of the best…let’s just say I won’t be volunteering for any judging anytime soon.

I new It!!!

A Fractal Glass

The Daily Post serving another photo challenge I find irresistible:

It’s the first photo challenge of 2015, and the theme is “new.” Cliché? Perhaps, but clichés develop for a reason. For many of us, the year’s beginning is time to take stock of the past and plan for the future; this week, let’s get excited about those plans by celebrating what’s new.

IMG_0180What’s new?  Well, lots of stuff is new.  I got a new bra – but I’m not going to take pictures of it (you can thank me later!).  There’s about 6 inches of new white stuff on the ground.  Someone on Facebook posted a new meme, had a new political rant, picked a new fight with a new person, or posted a new picture of a new mod they can vape on.

Oh…let’s not forget the new -14 temp that goes along with winter in Wisconsin – it certainly made venturing out to this first Monday of the work-year a bracing morning experience!

We all love ‘new.’  The word speaks of something not-before-within-our-sensory-field.  Yea…excitement!  Something we haven’t come into contact with before.

Although…if New and Improved Tide gets any more ‘New and Improved’ … it’s going to dissolve your clothing…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I see new stuff every day.  The clouds in the sky haven’t put out that exact patterning ever before.  The people around me haven’t been in that configuration prior to this meeting. Look!  New footprints in the snow!

The lead-in photo above is a new frost-pattern I captured on my window just the other day…which reminds me…my landlord really does need to think about replacing the windows in our building.  What made this photo really pop are the Christmas lights in the window of the building across the driveway.

It doesn’t take a resolution at the beginning of the calendar year to find new stuff – it just takes being aware of your surroundings.

I’ll leave you with a movie quote from Joe vs. the Volcano – one that, decades later, I’ve tried to incorporate into each and every day:

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.