I started out my day by being whaled in the head and hand by a tennis racket. You see, Peter was trying to hit the ball for Miles and miscalculated his distance from me. Whammo…I doubled over in pain, as Peter looked more horrified than me at the thought of what had just happened. The playtime outside was meant to be a little moment of reprieve. His keen observation that I looked strung out this morning over a variety of issues put his nurturing side into action, so outside we went. The sting of agony lasted well over 20 minutes. In that 20 minutes, Peter guilty conscience led him to disclaim that he would never keep his room a mess again, or make me wait outside in the cold with him as he waited for the bus. Peter hadn’t realized that I wasn’t mad at him; I was just in too much pain to properly express it. He sat me down on the couch, ran for an icepack and played the good doctor. We had 15 minutes before we would hear the inevitable rumble of the yellow school bus, so he cuddled close to me on the couch. As the sting subsided, it became clear that in some cock-eyed way I was fortunate even if I had a massive egg growing on my head. From the moment he woke up, he showed affection, despite my grumpiness. He knew the fresh air would bring out my happier side and with the mishap, he also knew how to mollify my pain. It is easier to “just keep swimming” despite life’s trials and tribulations when love is present in your life. When you give love, you get love even if it comes topped with an egg on your head.
Listen to the clip to hear a jingle from my favorite movies. I guarantee it will make you smile.
When you join a photo club it seems like everyone(except me) captures perfect birds, butterfly's and flowers. I am often amazed at the nature photographer's ability to wait and wait to get the perfect animal shot. One of the guys in the club can make a bird look so amazing you wonder if he has some secret handshake with them. For me, taking bird photos, is, well, for the birds. Patience doesn’t run in my family, so neither will spectacular bird portraits. Usually when I come upon a bird they simply take flight as they have in this photo. Fortunately for me, the light on the farm that day was so spectacular that I got 29 ½ bird portraits. I love how each bird is in a totally different stage of flight, wings flying everywhere. It kind of reminds me of people making the mad dash for the early morning special at Walmart on Black Friday. Something about this photo is oddly random, which is why I probably like it. The stripes on the camper, the mud on the truck and birds causing a ruckus, it’s perfectly mismatched. The colors make me hungry. If it were turned into a black and white photo, it could get that Hitchcockesque feeling. Take a look up in the sky today and see a flying miracle; it may inspire you some way. Ever wonder if we inspire them?
It's pajama day! Kate was so excited because she gets to sleep a little bit extra this morning. Today, there will be no tearing apart of any dressers looking for something to make you feel like you fit in. Woo Hoo! At school today, bed-head is encouraged! One of the only benefits I remember from catholic school while growing up was the fact that I didn't need to make the dreaded decision of what to wear every day. I'll admit that the knee socks and a nasty plaid skirt never helped me get a boyfriend, but there were a lot of other girls in the same boat with me trying hopelessly to stay afloat. The transition from dressing your kid in get-ups from The Children's Place to Hollister can be an expensive and daunting for a parent. I long for the days of the crunchy tunic shirts that Kate wore as a little tot. Now all I see are skinny logo T's and tank tops. Have you ever walked into Hollister and noticed that all they sell throughout the year is tank tops? Don't they realize that we live in the northeast? Why is it always so dark in that store? Maybe it's so we don't see the pricetags. So where's the miracle in this entry ? It's in the the pajamas. Kate doesn't have the pressure to fit in today. She can bring the comforts of home to the hallways of middle school. Maybe I'll have pajama day too. PJ's and hot chocolates are some of the biggest perks to doing work out of home in front of a computer. Perhaps the corporate world should adopt Pajama day. Everyone would probably get more accomplished or at least be more relaxed as they kick off the high heels. I have only known one person (that's you Patti) that achieves style greatness each and every day. The rest of us non Jackie-O's must depend on wearing pj's as long as possible to avoid the inevitable style disaster. Chris was wise in choosing a job where you get to be comfy in scrubs all day, a more uniform style of pajamas. As Kate waited for the bus I asked if I could get a photo of her to commemorate PJ Day. She granted me permission as long as I left before the bus came. She didn't want to feel mortified having her fellow bus riders see her mom in her pj's. I had to laugh at the irony because she was also in her pjs. It looks like it's going to be another vexing day of parenting. Good thing I'll be comfortable in my pj's.
Good morning Middlefield....and Durham, NY and LA and everywhere in between. This morning, I was awoken by the steady stream of sleepy-eyed children taking a groggy b-line for my bed for a few minutes of cuddle time before life got in gear. Looking out the window, we all share the same gift of the sunrise and a new day ahead. How today unfolds is mostly of my own doing, but what makes it interesting is what I don’t have control over. What I have always enjoyed about life are the things that we don’t expect at our doorstep. As I take a quick look at my wall on Facebook, I can see all sorts of emotions coming from friends. The range is huge, some posting weekend photos from their first semi-formal, while another grieves the untimely death of a murdered friend. As the shock of the latter post settles in, it becomes clear that as we see people throughout our day, we need to be more sensitive to what they may be going through. From one single line sound-bite, it’s hard to get the whole story. I smile as I read a few more: “Finally home, thank God”, “Hello my name is ___, and I’m a sugarholic.” Others vent on the weather, their cell phone bills, their tournament picks, or about a bad haircut. Finally, I see a post that sums it all up. It says, “When will it all make sense?” As we all try to figure that out today, I hope we all enjoy making sense of our nonsensical lives. Kate’s advice to me this morning while we lounged in bed, “Mom, when nothing goes right, go left”. I look at her and smile from the inside out and hope we’re headed in the right direction.
Choosing a topic....The T-rex ?>
What will I study? It is an age old question. There is so much going on out there that it is hard to decide. I waffled over it and now my kids do too. History, art and education were my college choices. But even during the studying years there was feeling that dug deep questioning my decisions. Is there one perfect thing? Even though the subjects don't directly relate to photography, my senses tell me that they had their worth. The history major allowed me to see the importance of capturing our own unique history through a lens, while the art history major helped teach me how to compose it. After working with 6th graders over the past 2 months teaching them about portraiture and photography my education credits feel validated. My point here is that all of our past experiences effect what we are doing right now. Even if you studied to become a lawyer, you can someday become a policeman and use your understanding of the law to make you better at your job. Anyone's current success is directly related to our past efforts. All of this comes to surface as Peter worked on choosing his spring project work. No different than many of us when hit with the question of what to study, his mind began to spin. What could be so important to dedicate all of this time he wondered? My guess is that these decisions are difficult because there are just so many cool things out there. As I dug deep in my hard drive, visual proof of his study ideas come to light. His life experiences helped make these decisions for him. He pondered over a few topics, The T-Rex, George Washington and rocks. Sure enough, the computer spits out those photos. Trips to visit all three of these topics helped pique his interest. From a person that learns through visual perception, my travels have ultimately made my decisions for me. Perhaps, Peter thinks in a similar way. After much deliberation and a start over, he picked rocks as the geologist in him surfaced. It's not surprising that the t-Rex didn't cut it in that he never went through the dinosaur phase as a little tot. I guess learning is much like a family tree where everything is linked to each other and their historic connection is undeniable. What I write or take a picture of today will somehow effect tomorrow, even if I'm not sure how. Making it all count, that's the lesson learned.
or George Washington ?
The geologist in him wins...he chooses to study rocks.
Recently, 1100 high school kids were polled asking what is the most important ingredient to success in life. The poll came back with 84% thinking that family relationships were the key to future success. So what can we do to try to reach the pinnacle of family oneness? It starts with a fact I learned last night. Did you know that the Greek nation Anthem has 158 verses? I learned this as we sat down and shared dinner together. The dinner table is a place where the minds meet and things get figured out. It has been proven in this house that the food doesn't even need to be very good to have a good conversation, although it does help to keep everyone at the table longer. Last night over a hearty bowl of pasta, my husband informed Peter's friend, "Did you know that this pasta was made from real angel's hair? They sweep it off the ground at the angel barber shop." All of the kids start cracking up. The conversation keeps swirling. Peter then suggest that people with peanut allergies should stay away from dynamite because of the fact that one of dynamites ingredients is peanuts. Fascinated, I asked how he knew that and he tells me he read about it in a book of list. Kate then peeps into the conversation, "You can cage a swallow, can't you, but you can't swallow a cage, can you?" Apparently this book had many palindromes to add to our conversation. I am never surprised when Kate comes out with interesting stuff because she reads so much, that her mind is chock full information. Dinner is long gone and the kids make funny faces at each other and giggle. They finish by taking their last sip of milk and try to get away with wiping their face on their sleeve, before Chris catches them in action. The bowls get thrown into the sink and they are off. Chris and I chat about the grown up stuff and then he is off to prep his bike for next the next morning's commute. So what just happened here? We filled up the tank, but we also filled up our glass of happiness. Where the glass may have been half empty before dinner, it is now half full. We have gathered our ingredients for what comes tomorrow simply by being together. Maybe that poll is right and I go upstairs with my mind full of palindromes. "Oh no, Don Ho!", I think to myself, it's time to go to bed.
The man behind the best dinner table conversations.
Coming home should always be joyous occasion especially when you have a happy drooling dog to greet you. However, over the past weeks every time I walk up to the front door, I get this deep sinking feeling of what awaits me. Yesterday, behind the wagging tail, my affectionate drooler had left his unmistakable teeth-gnawed mark for the world to see. As always the problem becomes mine to handle because he has a fetish for my stuff. Recently, Miles has taken it upon himself to take his anxiety-ridden joyrides out on anything that has “mommy’s” smell. He has a penchant for delectable rubbery shoes, my work out t-shirts, and may I just say…woman’s underwear? So what do you do with a creature that loves you more than the world that wants to eat your world? In a Christian society it had been said many times to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Does this mean I should go and chew up his rawhide because he chewed up my favorite hiking shoes? So I guess I’ll be going to the store to purchase a massive, Clifford the big red dog, super-sized crate for my sweet little guy. It may also be time to start doing some long runs again to tire him out and help calm his overactive imagination. Some tough love will be on tap in the Schulten house. My shredded house aside, he is love in the purest form. His miracle is in his unabated affection. Like any prodigal son, we still welcome him with open arms despite his shortcomings. Like many of his canine brother hood, and I can name quite a few, this is just their way to say, “I love you”. Miles, just say you’re sorry and tomorrow will be another day.
When does photography evolve from a hobby to a quest? When you get up well before sunrise to travel 300 miles to try to learn something. Hopefully, someday a photographer will appear out of the shadows of this self--portrait. As I kiss the kids goodbye in their groggy sleep, I hope today's journey is worth the day away from them. I am pretty sure this odyssey will be well worth it and if not anything else, a good adventure.
It happens often. I am supposed to do something mundane like go to the supermarket, but rather I throw my camera in the car looking for a photo adventure. The freezer is designed just for days like this when food is low priority. Yesterday I came upon this barn on Rte 17. What drew me into the scene was the hay that looks like the sea leading up to grand Newport mansion. Typically on stormy looking days, I like to emphasize the clouds in a photo opportunity. This leads me to wanting to create an HDR style shot. HDR is achieved by stacking photos taken in the same spot at different exposures so you end up with interesting lighting effects. I cursed myself as I realized I left my tripod in the closet. Photographers never stop trying to make the photo that perfectly defines life. Since I have started writing this blog, what has become equally as important as taking the clean shot is telling its story. As I see it, this barn has a distinct sadness to it. The clouds seem to add to the melancholy feeling and I have blued them up to help express this feeling. As I entered the field a sign stood hammered to a fence telling of the barn's numbered days. The sign mentioned a public hearing from a couple of years back that was planning for the development of 25 homes in the barn's place. The beautiful field wrapped it's golden arms around this senior member of the community that would someday be gone. As I walked around the barn the view completely changed. Someone had thought enough to provide its front with a facelift, while the back simply crumpled into the past. Its aging body was showing signs of wear even though it kept a fresh layer of make-up applied for everyone to see. For some reason, the people around her have forgotten her usefulness. Now they would rather have many dwellings of 3000 square feet with radiant heat and internet access throughout. Yet she still sits with her story kept to herself as everyone zooms by. Like a senior citizen living in a eldercare, I felt guilty knowing that the world spun round her and she was lonely. In my head I vowed to call my 97 year old grandmother when I got home. Upon departing, the reality was clear that her time was short. I felt better in seeing her and saying thank you. Her beauty is forever etched in my mind and this image will help keep a memory of her as she becomes a thing of the past.
Listen to music from the hatch
As the morning hours progressed, the usual things happened: got the kids out to the bus, edited photos, sent out emails, nothing novel here. Throughout, I was incessantly bonked by Miles's nose, a daily occurrence that keeps me teetering on the edge of insanity. When my employment opportunities vary from day to day, there are some days that call for the ultimate time waster, Netflix. While sitting at home today on this rainy day it became clear early on that Netflix would morph my day into night. To defray the guilt incurred by too much TV, I jumped on the rowing machine and rowed to episode 1 of the final season of Lost. From there I got sucked in and one episode after another flew by. I slid on the rails of the erg long after the workout was done clicking next after each episode with reckless abandon. Perhaps I am one of the few left on the planet that doesn't know the solution to what is really happening to the beleaguered castoffs. It has become somewhat clear that their are two alternate realities going on. But, as I sit here, I become aware that there may really be no end to this story. Lost is about being, well....lost. I think the plan of the producer was to give us enough information to keep us coming back for more, while sequestering us in a fog where no full answers really come to light. It's like being doped up on NYQUIL where your get to sleep, but it's full of weirdness. So many personalities from Lost can be seen in our own little community. We all have a Hurley that we know and love. All of us ladies wish we looked like Kate. We would like to mirror the good of the perennial boy scout, Jack, but in reality, wish we could do as we damn well please like Sawyer. I can often relate to Desmond. He is a free thinker who believes in the good in this world. While the optimism is his glass overflows, "Brother" Desmond has a grim responsibility to press the button and keep the world from blowing up. Around here, I often get the feeling that if I don't press that dastardly button every 108 minutes, my little world of Schulten would explode. Come to think about it, that would be a good job for my nose bonking, button pushing dog. Which character would you be? The characters are so well written, that at any given time throughout the series, we can see ourselves in each one. It's amazing if you think about it. The miracle of Lost comes in the fact that all of the characters are connected in some way and it brings to light, that so are we. After Peter finished his homework last night, he caught my bug and Netflixed the very first Lost episode. Two hours later he too was sucked into the Lost abyss wondering what the smoke monster was? Sometimes I miss the days of MASH when you laughed at the punch-line and knew the war would end someday. Because of shows like "LOST" we ride on a roller coaster of never ending emotion. So much for escapism. May you always find your way and if you do become lost, "I'll see you in another life brother!"