Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 13Sept20

The Kid and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.

“If you see anything you’d like me to take a picture of, let me know.”

“How about this tree?”

It’s a nice tree. And I like the howling coyote on the window grate in the background.

I really like this tree. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and the palo verdes are still just so cool.

“Mom, I bet you want a picture of me walking up here, because that’s the kind of person you are.” I’m not entirely sure what kind of person that is, but yes, I would love pictures of you walking up there…

“Look, there’s a cat by that house.”

“Take a picture of it, Mom!”

“I want to take a picture of the cactus.”

“Take a picture of the cat, then take a picture of the cactus.”

Nearing home, I noticed the remains of a sign post in a yard that I’ve walked by at least hundreds of times. I’m always surprised by what I don’t notice…

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 6Sept20

I love the desert. “I wouldn’t go there; it’s just brown everywhere,” a friend back east told me before I moved out here.

It’s different, for sure. And beautiful. In the seasons when more plants are thriving, it’s more conventionally beautiful. Even now, as a brutal-even-for-Phoenix summer is gasping its last breaths (we hope!), and most plants are not thriving, there’s a beauty about it.

Maybe it’s because I know that when the weather cools and rain comes (will rain ever come? It’s been a very dry monsoon…), many of the plants that appear dead will come back alive. (Zombie plants?)

Maybe I’ve just developed an appreciation for dead plants. Who knows? I’m just still in awe of the flora and fauna and landscapes here, whether in full bloom or dried up.

So when The Climbing Daddy suggested we go hiking this morning, taking Sir Nikolas Cameron along with for photos after hiking, I was game.

Of course, the most famous of the local cacti is the saguaro. Rabbits like to snack on their bases, and birds peck holes and make nests in them, finding safety from the sun and predators.

I love the saguaros and their imperfections:

Another thing I love about cactus? Dead cacti, leaving behind just their skeletons. I can’t get enough of cactus skeletons.

Maybe it was a cholla? Not sure.

Also? Cactus has three acceptable means of pluralization: cacti, cactuses, cactus. Fun!

There are always at least a few things that aren’t plants that are interesting to shoot. On this trail, it was this interesting bit of rock (“Mom! That looks like a face!”) and one of many bolts on a sign at the trailhead.

I love the layers of mountains. I’ve shared a couple of photos of Four Peaks before. Here they are again, trying to hide behind the ascending foreground. When I eventually learn editing, I’ll be able to have a photo similar to this with the foreground properly exposed. The camera can’t do it on its own, and I can’t do it in post. Yet.

The Climbing Daddy was at the (west-facing) kitchen sink the other night and suggested he take over making dinner and I go out with the camera to capture the sky. I got a bit of it.

Enjoy the beauty in the bits around you, and I’ll be back next week!

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 30Aug20

This morning, wanting to take some photos but also feeling very lazy and uninspired, I said to The Kid, “Hey! I haven’t taken pictures all week. Do you want to make a scene with your LEGO that I can take pictures of?”

He was enthusiastic! After setting a few parameters on size, he went to work and came back with a mountain with a crown of clouds in a jungle. After seeing a shot of it, he added two trees in the background. Then took the backdrop to his work space and added a cloud. Finally took the mountain to add a waterfall and a river. The low shot of the river is his favorite (left side, second from the bottom).

While he took parts and modified them, I took pictures of other things on the porch (where we were shooting).

We have quite a few potted plants. Most of them are plain old terra cotta pots, but only because outfitting the whole lot of them in pots like this isn’t cost-effective. A couple of pots at a time, the yard will be transformed…

And the errant extension cord…

We have an outdoor papasan, and in an effort to keep it usable for longer, it has a cover. The Kid is endlessly delighted that water beads up on it and he can race the beads across it just by tilting it. So we played with water just a little.

Finally, there was a shot from last week that I forgot to share! I had been out in the front yard, attempting pictures of lightning. I didn’t get any that were worth sharing but I did get a neat shot of our front door before I came back inside.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 23Aug20

People who exercise a ton on the weekends and not at all during the week are often called Weekend Warriors.

Lately, I’m a photography Weekend Warrior.

Last weekend, I had the honor of photographing this cutie pie. She lost both her front teeth, and her mama was lamenting the loss of school pictures this year.

They’re not school pictures, but they’re pretty cute.

Last night, we had a rainless lightning storm. I’ve never tried to shoot lightning before, and all of my photos came out very dark, a combination of user error and the lightning somewhat obscured by clouds. I had them here initially and decided that if you need to crank the brightness on your screen to see anything besides a black rectangle, perhaps they’re not worth posting…

A friend has an amazing huge saguaro in front of her house. Unfortunately, two of the arms broke off. We’re hoping the rest of the plant can stay healthy. (The image at the top of today’s post is my favorite from this lot.)

Their yard has other plants as well—mostly cactus.

I’m always impressed by the tenaciousness of desert plants, especially with this summer’s record heat (and not much relief in sight yet).

Posted in exercise, mental health, mindset, parenting, physical health, podcasts

Running with The Kid

The Kid has an enormous amount of energy.

To be honest, it’s exhausting.

But it’s who he is and, for the most part, it’s good for him. As a general rule, we all are too content to sit. He often can when he needs to and the rest of the time? In motion.

He received a small indoor trampoline for his birthday last fall, and while not aesthetically pleasing, it was a welcome addition to our living room. He used it frequently.

By mid-July, the beginning of our 5th month of shelter-in-place, I noticed that his energy was waning. He was more content to sit and almost never used the trampoline. Easier for me, sure, but a definite red flag.

School started online in early August, and while he doesn’t have hours upon hours in front of the computer, he does have hours of school work, and no playground to run around on.

This is not evidence that we need to go back to school. This is evidence that I need to do more to keep him moving.

I decided to bring him in to my morning running routine. We started with a plan of two weekday morning runs per week and one run on the weekends. We chose a short loop in our neighborhood dubbed The Cat Lady Loop and two mornings each week, we’d go out and run three quarters of a mile. He can usually do that distance without complaint and we didn’t need a ton of time to get it done.

We did two runs as planned that first week, decked out in bathing suits so we could swim for 10 or 15 minutes when we got home.

Over the weekend, we ended up hiking instead.

The Kid has a couple of podcasts he listens to regularly, including one called The Big Fib. The Big Fib is in the midst of a several-part series and he was anxious to hear the next episode, telling me he couldn’t wait until Thursday when it was available.

Thursday morning last week, I downloaded the new episode onto my phone and we listened to it while we ran a new route.

Together, we easily went just over a mile without any of the usual “this run is too long” complaints.

“Mom! That wasn’t even hard!”

In our post-run swim, we talked a bit and he suggested we go three mornings before school instead of just two. At first, we decided Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but then we decided to change Friday to Thursday. So we could listen to the new episode of The Big Fib on our run. The episodes and our time running nearly perfectly line up.

Yesterday, we easily ran a mile while listening to the new episode. Wednesday, without a podcast, we ran a mile on a new loop, as yet unnamed. No problem.

This weekend, we’re going to try the Starbucks loop (without a stop for a drink)—1.6 miles. He’s done it quite a few times with a fair amount of walking. I will definitely bring podcasts for that one but with him running more consistently, I’m curious to see how he does compared to last time, maybe a month ago.

This week, his energy is higher. He’s bouncing on his trampoline again. He’s walking around to tell stories again.

I’m relieved. And I’m happy to have a morning running partner. Even if we’re only running a mile.

♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

As an aside, here are the podcasts he listens to:

  • The Big Fib
  • Brains On!
  • Smash Boom Best
  • Big Life Kids Podcast
  • Eat Your Spanish
  • Tumble Science Podcast
  • Wow in the World
  • Stories Podcast
  • Storynory
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian