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!