Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Being an Introvert

I'm an only child.
I am an introvert.

When I began kindergarten my mom went back to work.  I would go to a neighbor's house after school, but as I got older I was able to stay in our apartment by myself after school.  I remember loving it~~being alone in my apartment.  Is that weird??

When I was in high school and my parents felt comfortable leaving me home alone at night, I would just about be giddy when they went out for the evening.  I never said so to them, I'm not really sure I recognized the feelings myself at the time, but I didn't feel lonely or abandoned or scared.  I felt at peace.

I was painfully shy as a child and I never really got over my discomfort of being in a large group of people, especially if I didn't know them.  I didn't know and still don't know how to do "small talk".     I was, and still am, always glad when the event is over.

During my college years (living in a dorm with other girls) and during my years of raising children (with all the chaos connected to that) I didn't get much alone time.  But I missed it.  Desperately!

One occasion stands out in my mind.  When my last two children were young we were eating dinner one night.  I was physically tired and mentally weary.  I looked at my husband and said something like, "I really need some alone time, could you take the kids out this Sat and let me stay home alone".

As I was speaking I could see his eyes begin to glaze over.  He had absolutely no comprehension of what I was saying and he obviously couldn't wrap his brain around the idea of me wanting to be home "alone".

Having said all of that, there are times when I want to be in large chaotic groups, I'm happy to be on the clean-up committee at church, I can joke around with the person behind me on line at the supermarket, etc.  I come away from those experiences refreshed.  But then I want need my solitude.

I used to think there was something wrong with me~~one minute I wanted to be in the center of the experience and then almost the next minute (it was never really that extreme of course) I would be craving solitude and silence.  I often wondered if I had a split personality...

The other day I read a post on facebook that I wished I had read, oh, so many years ago. It comes from the Huffington Post, written by Alena Hall and published in Nov 2014, entitled,
"10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With the World".  
Each one of the following points has a paragraph or two explaining exactly what is meant:

1)  They withdraw in crowds~~guilty
2) Small talk stresses them, while deeper conversations make them feel alive~~guilty
3) They succeed on stage--just not in the chit-chat afterwards~~not sure about the stage part, but guilty about the chit-chat
4)They get distracted easily, but rarely feel bored~~guilty
5)They are naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented & solitary careers~~guilty
6)  When surrounded by people, they locate themselves close to an exit (in the paragraph that follows she states that they go so far as to only sit in aisle seats on planes)~~guilty
7)  They think before they speak~~not so guilty
8)  They don't take on the mood of their environment like extraverts do~~so/so
9)  They physically can't stand talking on the phone~~guilty now, not so much when younger
10)  They literally shut down when it's time to be alone~~guilty

And the piece de resistance of the entire article is the following quote:

"Solitude matters, and for some people, it is the air that they breathe"

Vs 13-14 of Psalm 139 say, "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." 
I  need to think on that more often.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Gingerbread House Project

For years and years I used to think, "awww look how cute those Gingerbread Houses are, I should really do that project with my grandkids".  Well, the truth of it is I HATE don't really enjoy doing crafts and every time I thought of doing the project I quickly put it out of my mind.  And it was easy to do that because I never mentioned it to the kids, so they weren't expecting it.  

Then last year (2013) I took the plunge.  I didn't make the gingerbread but I did make the goop to hold the house together.  It was my first time and it was almost a FAIL.  I purchased the graham crackers and all the candy to use for decorations.  The kids were great even though the crackers kept breaking and the goop was almost too thick & stiff to use well.  The results:  pretty good.  And they had a great time.

This year I mentioned to the kids that we could do the houses again, but I kept putting it off hoping they had forgotten.  Well....no such luck.  I found out that at least one of them kept wondering when we would do the houses.  So I was convicted and humbled.  I had made a promise, of sorts, so I had to keep it.

I certainly didn't want to go through the effort of making the goop again, so I set out to look for kits.  They're so stinkin' expensive, but I managed to find a place that was running a sale.  Throwing financial caution to the wind, I bought three kits.  There!  That was done.

I made a date with the kids (no easy feat considering their busy social lives) and we got to the job of putting the gingerbread houses together yesterday, a mere 4 days before Christmas.  They were so good about it.  So creative.  Each one was different from the others.  It's such a blessing to see that they have their own minds/opinions/creativity and that they don't need to depend on each other for ideas.  They inspire each other, but they march to their own drummers.

The final results.  

I'm free for about 363 days!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Basketball Game (#3,782, or so it seems)

I had the pleasure of taking the grandson to his BB game this afternoon.  We got there in plenty of time...actually we got there pretty early and the other game was still only in the 3rd quarter.  I pro-actively remembered to pack my kindle in my camera bag, so I sat in the bleachers and read for a while.

But then I noticed this beautiful mural that covered one entire wall at one end of the court, depicting all kinds of sports.  It is really quite the mural so I had to take a couple of photos.

For some reason I'm having a difficult time of photographing this guy's games.  I don't remember struggling so much with the other grandson.  I had to really bump up the ISO and I think I was being too conservative.  Also, the kids are often clumped together, so it's tricky trying to get a shot of any individual player, or it could be that I'm just bad at photographing sports.  Hmmmm, maybe it's a combination of all 3 things.

Anyway, I was able to get only a few images of the boy and the one below might just be the best of the lot.  The others are good "for the record" images, but that's about it.  I wonder how the newspaper photogs do it--wish I knew someone to ask.

I changed the image into bw to see how I'd like it.  I definitely like it.

BTW, below is the final score...  (we were the guests) The grandson made two baskets.  He was happy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Special Christmas Service and High ISO

 Every December my church holds a special pre-Christmas Sunday evening service.  That service took place two days ago. We sing many Christmas Carols from the hymnal, there is a lot of other music and Scripture is read chronicling the prophecy of and the birth of Christ.  Following the service there is always a food reception, the reputation of which precedes the event and spreads far and wide.  

I always go about an hour early. That way I can photograph to my heart's content without interfering with the somber but joyous nature of the event.  I refuse to use flash though and because the service takes place at night when there's no ambient light from outside, I have to bump the ISO up pretty high.  Even after all these years of using a digital camera and experimenting with high ISO and knowing how good the cameras of today are, I still almost hyperventilate when going past 800 or so.

But I had to go high in spite of my stubborn innate resistance. So I tried 1200--no good.  Then 1600--no good.  Then 2000--still no good but getting close.  Finally up to 2500 and knew I didn't have to go any higher.  Whew, I was getting nervous.  My camera is excellent at those ISOs, I need to learn to relax and just go with what's necessary to get the images.

It was a great evening and I'm pretty happy with the images.  They'll be a nice addition to the church history scrapbooks.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cranberry Cream-cheesy Bars 
(otherwise known at Starbuck's as Cranberry Bliss Bars)

I have been waiting FOR.    EV.    ER.   to make these things.  Well, maybe not that long, but definitely for a long time.  I discovered them about 5 years ago when I first began frequenting Starbuck's on a fairly regular basis, especially when in Hawaii where there's a Starbuck's on every other corner.  They only sell them during the winter a little before and a little after Christmas.

They are Amazing!!!  Like, over-the-top it's a good thing these are so expensive or I'd buy and eat many more amazing.

Then a friend of mind, actually a friend of my daughter's who used to come to the house when they were in high school, began posting that she was making and selling these scrumptious bars along with other goodies, as a fund raiser for their adoption efforts.  

Of course I purchased some and oh, my goodness, fell in love with them again.  I'm not sure it's the exact recipe that Starbuck's uses, but it's close enough to call it a SCORE!!!

Over the years I've thought of contacting the girl to see if she'd be willing to share the recipe and finally put feet on my dreams this year.  Last night I made them.  Now....I don't usually cook, bake or do anything else constructive/productive at night because, well, I'm a morning person as I mentioned in a recent post, and once noon comes & goes I'm pretty much off the clock.

But I really wanted to try these bars.  Really wanted to as in "I'm going to make them now even though it's 7 pm and I'd rather be sitting on the couch editing photos".

And really....they are as scrumptious as I thought they'd be.  So now the struggle begins:  do I eat one every time I get the notion?  do I eat just half at a time?  do I resist 3 out of 4 times?  or do I just eat them and not make them again for a long time?

Well, the verdict is out on that.  I'll get back to you about it sometime, or maybe not.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Victorian Stroll

The rumor is true.  Winter is here.  

If you couldn't tell by the weather, you'd know by the fact that the Troy Victorian Stroll took place this past Sunday.  It's always the first Sunday of December and it's the only Stroll in the area that takes place during daylight hours, a fact that makes it pretty enticing to go to take photos in spite of the cold.  

No matter how many times I've been there, I still get confused about exactly how to get there and where to park.  But....as I was driving into the Stroll area, there, right in front of me, was a car pulling out of its parking spot.  Voila, I parked and we were on our way.  

There weren't as many people in period dress as in past years, but it was still fun.

These photos were taken in color and they are great that way.  Santa's in his bright red fluffy suit and his elf is in bright green with red accents.  But for some reason I thought I'd convert these two images into bw just to see how I'd like them.  The verdict:  I like them!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Stuffed Peppers for Dinner

Once upon a time my children were young.  Once upon a time I cooked dinner 
These days that's hard to believe.  

As the kids got older/needed me less/had their own schedules/weren't home at mealtime very often, I cooked dinner less and less.  It got so bad that the question of the day was, "are you making dinner tonight mom?"  
More often than not the answer was "no".  
They practically cheered when I did make dinner.  

Now that the kiddos are completely grown and gone and it's just me and my husband, I really have to force myself to get into the kitchen and use the culinary skills I once had.  If it were up to me, I'd eat salad and cheese & crackers every night.  But once in a while I take pity on my hubby and force myself to make an actual meal.  

Today was one of those days when I kind of enjoyed making dinner.  I'm a morning person and I prefer doing all this prep early in the day.  (once noon has come and gone I consider the day to be a wash and nothing much constructive gets done).  

So...not only was I able to get these great stuffed peppers put together while my enthusiasm was way up there on the motivational scale, but I was able to photograph my creations while my tummy was still content from breakfast.  Score!!  All I had to do at dinner time was throw some grated cheese on top, stick them in the oven to heat them through and put a salad together.  Score again!!!

And voila!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

There used to be many more of us.  When the kiddos were little there were about 16 gathering for family events.  Now the kids are grown and gone.  It's sad, but that's what kids do.  They grow up and often they leave.  That's the point for parents--grow them up and send them out.

It doesn't stop those of us who are left behind from feeling nostalgic about "the good old days".  But the 7 of us still had a good time yesterday.

Thanks go to Norman Rockwell for the inspiration for this image.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Morning

It's Thanksgiving Day, 2014.  There's much to be thankful for, the primary thing being that there's a God in heaven Who has everything under control even though it seems like this country and this world is spinning wildly into oblivion.  God has His plans and they can't be thwarted.  All that is happening is by His permission and design...

A couple of days ago I made some French bread.  This morning I had an epiphany and decided to make French toast with the remaining French bread. So yummy.

After I took a few photos of the bread cooking, it occurred to me that I could take some photos of the meal itself.  So I quickly got things set up (too quickly I'm afraid because after I was done and looked at the photos, I realized what I could have done better--but hunger was motivating me to hurry) and made a few images.

I finally had the chance to eat, and it was as good as I had anticipated.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Some Time in Albany

 A friend and I decided to go to downtown Albany to photograph the architecture at dusk.  It was supposed to be a nice day, but as we began the drive the rain started.  Even though we were a little discouraged, we were determined to keep going since we had cancelled the same fieldtrip last week because of the rain.

When we arrived it was still raining but the Egg sheltered us and in just a short while the rain stopped.   There's not much more of a story to this.  We photographed until it was almost dark and we were cold enough that it wasn't enjoyable any more.

I think the rain was a blessing in disguise because of the interesting shiny patterns left on the ground.  

Still some nice color on the trees in the background

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Carving The Pumpkins

Tonight was one of those rare occasions when all three of the younger grandkids were free (the oldest being away at college). They are soooo busy and between their schedules and mine, it's an intense juggling act to find a day when we're all available to spend some time together.

After gathering them all up, we came to the house and they headed straight for the legos while I cooked some pizza for dinner.  Then we got down to the serious business of Carving.

Carving.   The.    Pumpkins.     

They did it all themselves.  Very impressive.

Halfway done


Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Monday

Some friends and I have started another blog on Wordpress (expressyourselfwithphotos.wordpress.com)
At the moment there are three of us participating and we each have one day a week when we're supposed to post at least one photo.  Monday is my day, and for the first time since we began, I remembered and actually posted.

I despaired this morning of finding an image, but as I sat in my living room and looked at the windows with the sun shining for the first time in many days, I noticed the shadows and knew I had discovered my image of the day.

The I started playing around with another object and came up with this next image.

It was such a beautiful day outside I finally decided to take a drive and see what I could see.  I didn't expect much since I took the exact same route I've taken so many times before when I've come home with nothing.

But today was a little different.  All the leaves on these particular trees are gone and the sun was low in the sky so the light was beautiful.  There's just something about the bare trees in the Fall...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Random Fall Images

The first two images were taken from the overlook at Vroman's Nose.  I dragged my feet that day leaving the house, so by the time I got to the top it was almost noon which is one of the worst times of day to take photos on a sunny day. The blue sky was a nice reward though.  The view from this location is always stunning and I certainly wasn't disappointed  when I arrived at the top of the trail.

Another day my friend and I took photos of the house of a friend of hers.  It was another beautiful day.  There were a lot of photo ops on the property.

Friday, October 17, 2014


The other day I was driving to town when I noticed the beautiful fall foliage colors off to my right.  For some reason the colors have sneaked up on me this year.  I know they've been pretty brilliant in other areas, but it seems like it happened all of a sudden here.  

Anyway, I stopped the car and grabbed a couple of shots with my point and shoot since that's the only camera I had with me.  This image isn't one of the best compositions, but it surely shows off the colors.

Today was our hiking day.  We originally wanted to walk the trails in a preserve near Albany.  When we were about 10 minutes into the trail, I looked down and there were about 6 ticks walking up my pant leg.  ICK!!!  I said, "I'm out of here", and the others agreed.

We went to plan B which was a stop at Plotterkill hiking trail.  By then then day had turned really beautiful and the walk was great.  

When we finished with the Plotterkill walk, it was late afternoon.  We decided to make an early dinner stop at Panera's.

So once we got past the tick situation, it was all a win/win day.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Simplicity of Illumination

This past August some photo friends and I visited this house that is under renovation.  I can't even begin to explain the situation since I don't totally understand it myself.  But the house is one of those  old farmhouses that rambles on and on.  It's possible that it was once a nursing home or a home for mentally challenged adults.  It has so much personality and we were set free in it to photograph to our heart's content.

When I first saw this scene, the lights weren't on.  I took a few photos and then decided to plug the lights in.  The lights give it a peaceful comforting look I think.  I really like it.  I think I'll use it for a notecard.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stonehenge, Baker Street & Buckingham Palace

Things have been very hectic these past few days.  The last couple of days of the bus tour included a LOT of riding and, unfortunately, each stop was way too short.  The last stop we made before arriving back in London was at Stonehenge.  Totally amazing and even though there were a gazillion people at the site, the way they had it roped off made it fairly easy to get some shots without the other tourists being obvious.

We arrived at the London hotel in late afternoon.  Sybil, her mom, her daughter and her friend all decided to go out and shop.  Scott and I stayed in.  Around dinner time the two of us found a sushi take-out and brought some dinner back to the hotel.  It was a nice relaxing evening and the food was really good.

Sunday morning we got up and had breakfast, then I went out on my own and Scott & Sybil left to do their thing.  I found my way to Buckingham Palace in time for the changing of the guard.  Actually, I got there an hour early, but there were already probably thousands of people waiting.  I found a space right up front by the road and stood next to a very nice couple from Boston.

Considering how long we had to wait, it was fortunate that it was a beautiful day--probably around 70 with a sweet breeze blowing.  

Marching through the street before the changing of the guard.

After the horses and the guards paraded past us, they all went into the area between the gate and the castle where the actual changing of the guard took place.  There was no way to get near the gate to see it because of the jam of people already there, so I just consoled myself with the photos I was able to get from my position.

The main entrance to Buckingham Palace

After the crowds began to disperse, I was able to get near the gate.  There are two guards, one on either side of the main door to the castle.  Each would intermittently do their routine of marching back and forth in front of the castle and I was able to get some shots of that.  

I then returned to the hotel to meet the others for our trip to our B&B for the last two night of my stay in London.  We took a cab and arrived mid-afternoon.

I grabbed my camera and headed out to find Sherlock Holmes' flat at 221B Baker Street.  That address doesn't actually exist, but there is a storefront which houses a small Sherlock Holmes museum and gift shop--along with a bobbie who stands outside to pose with tourists for photo ops.

Alongside the museum is Hudson's Restaurant.  

It was a good day.