Sunday, July 31, 2016

Getting back in the groove.

I was starting to get worried. Here we are at the end of July and I hadn't done any canning yet. To make it worse, we have very little left in the pantry to eat from, a jar of pickles, a jar of tuna, and maybe about 5 jars of tomato jam.

This weekend that changed, I picked up 10 lbs of peaches and while shopping for them at the Coast Fork Farm Stand, I started talking with a woman who had figs and I bought 5 lbs of figs from her (and got some tips to get our figs to be more productive).

I got 7 1/2 pints of ginger-peach jam put up yesterday, and today 11 1/2 pints of fig jam and several jars of peach pie filling.

It felt good to get back in the groove. I had a failure with some fig preserves, but regrouped and got the fig jam done. We had a tad bit left over and ate it this evening with cheese and crackers. Delish!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Big C

Some time this spring, I woke up in the morning with a red, irritated area on my forehead. It was in the same spot that I had had a previous (negative) biopsy, but I knew that this time, something had changed.

It took several months to progress through the medical hoops – a referral from my primary care physician, approval from my insurance, an appointment with a dermatology nurse practitioner for a biopsy, the lab work, a positive result, and a follow-up with a surgeon who confirmed that I have melanoma, the most common, most mild kind. I have an appointment this coming week to have it cut out; no follow-up procedures are necessary. It hasn’t given me much worry and I haven’t really talked about it much. It seems so minor compared to illnesses some of my friends have had.

Last week, though, I donated blood. Part of donation process is a medical history, and every time I've donated I mostly answer “No” to a list full of questions. Until this time, though, when I got to one that asked, “Have you ever had cancer?”

It made me pause. This one little spot, which will be gone very soon, has indeed changed things.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

3 more to go

Last fall, my mantra became "only three more to go." I had three more classes until my "1 year certificate" was complete. While school had been going well while I was unemployed and taking 2 classes a term, once I switched to taking one class a term it started taking forever to feel like I was making any progress.

Some time, late in the term, I realized that with three more classes, at one class a term, and taking summer off, that meant I wouldn't be done until December 2016 -- more than a year away. It was a crushing blow.

Winter term started and I was in Video Production 1. It is a pretty exciting class -- from my perspective -- learning to take good video, checking out all sorts of gear, and putting it together in Adobe Premiere. The down-fall is that taking good video requires a team, and teamwork gets complicated. Add to that a rather disorganized instructor and a crappy team for my final project and the term did not go well. Towards the end I was pretty much convinced that I was going to "take some time off."

Luckily, at the same time, I was actively working with two different advisers to get my transcripts recorded (so that all my intro classes from the UO back in the 80s would fill my basic math and English requirements) and also get all my class substitutes filled in.

When I mentioned to D. that I needed a break, she said something like "but you've only got two more classes left!"

So I agreed to enroll spring term and give my class a try. If it felt like it would be easy, I'd stay, but if it felt like another taxing class, I'd drop it before I was charged tuition.

The class was 3D animation -- think animated movies and video games. In case there are any doubts, animation is NOT easy, it takes a tremendous amount of work to get something designed and animated. But my instructor informed us on our first day that he would "leave no one behind" and he didn't expect anyone to have to do work outside of class. It felt like it could be done. I also told myself, repeatedly, that I seriously don't need to give every class I take every amount of energy that I can, and 3-D animation -- something I have absolutely no interest in pursuing in any form in the future -- was one I could relax on.

It took a bit, but I did relax. Initially I spent a couple Friday afternoons working independently to figure out the program (called Maya). And I got used to being the slow one in class, constantly asking questions and asking for help. (That was a shift for me too.) Finally, the term is over and I am very much looking forward to a summer doing what I want to do, and learning what I want, when I want.

I'm also looking forward to getting back to this blog.

A couple different people have asked me this year about the Multimedia Design Certificate program. Did I think it was worth it. I do, of course. It is exactly what I was looking for when I started the program. The skills I've learned complement the skills I already had and further my career goals.

I've also enjoyed being creatively challenged in many different realms, and as the program is winding down, I've enjoyed seeing how the learning is all coming together to be greater than a sum of its parts.

One of the things I hope to do this summer is share blog posts about each of my classes. It'll be good for me to go back, look at what I've done, and see it come together in a place besides my mind.  I've also been working the flower photography when I have a chance. And, my veggie garden is looking good this year, I want to share that too! And write. I want to write.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Photography Garden vs. Garden Photography

Three different focuses for my photography this weekend and this is what I've learned -- I can do photography or I can garden. I can't do both. Upcoming weekends I'll need to practice moderation and prioritization. But for now, here's what I've been playing with.

Macro photography

I love this type of photography! I learned last term that even when I'm not in a class that requires "gear" (like this term) I can still borrow it from equipment checkout. (You know what an addiction that can be!). I borrowed a great macro lens this weekend and got a few shots with it. I wish I'd gotten more, and after pricing the lens, you can bet that I'll be checking it out for free some time in the near future.

BTW, see that flower? It's the first plant I bought with the explicit purpose of gardening for photography. I even planted it in a pot so I'd have easy access!


So, I'm a little obsessed with this flowers-in-ice idea. I've played with it over the last couple of weekends, and I can see that it is going to take a lot of work. Learning how ice forms, how it impacts the plants inside it (hint, flowers aren't too keen to get frozen!), and then taking photos of the reflective ice is going to take a lot of playing and experimenting. Luckily, that is something I enjoy doing.

Still life with flowers

I'm thinking about entering some photography in an art competition. My contribution, of course, will be with flowers. This idea took a couple photo-shoots, as my first composition ended up not working well. These however, seem to be a little out of focus. More learning here.

The upshot in all of this, I'm moving forward with my photography garden idea. I need to spend more time actually gardening if it is going to work in the long term. But I'm moving it forward, which feels good.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Photography Garden

"Summer Rain" taken summer 2015.
It struck me after my last post about gardening specifically for flower photography that I had just taken a complete shift from my thinking last summer, in which I was getting down on myself for taking flower photos and not branching out. Back then I felt like I was limiting myself.... limiting my creativity and limiting my learning. At the turn of the new year, a photographer that I follow on Facebook posted in her blog about three things that improved her photography in 2015. One of those things was setting a goal, her goal was this: "I will work at honing my landscape photography skills by hitting Bandon beach at least 100 times in 2015." Over the year on Facebook I saw her many landscape photos, they were often of the same rocks down by Bandon, from different perspectives, different times of day, different compositions. And I realized that if she can learn from going to the same place over 100 times a year then I can continue to learn from flower photography.

I turned to the internet and created a board on Pinterest specifically for gathering images of flower photography. With a few simple Pinterest searches I now have a full board which I continue to add to. Looking through it this morning, it was clear to me that there is nothing limiting about flower photography.

Follow Colette's board Photography Garden on Pinterest.

As I look through and consider the photos using the design fundamentals I learned last fall as well as throughout my time in the multimedia program, I am re-energized. Do I have a goal? No, nothing beyond "I will take flower photos and feel good about it."

I like the idea of focusing on something -- the flowers in ice are beautiful, the flowers posing as food are cute, doing "still lifes" with flowers with a historical bent has appeal, as does recreating botanical prints in photography. What perhaps has the most appeal is doing a little dabbling in everything to see what happens. I'll need to work on lighting and composition, brush up on my editing techniques, and begin to turn a critical eye to the flower photography that I see, noticing why it works and why it doesn't.

"Still Life with Lilacs" taken Spring 2014.

As an addendum... I just created a new label on this blog "Flower Photography 2016" so as I continue to blog -- hopefully about my actual photos! -- I can track my progress.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Flower Gardening

My interest in flower gardening disappeared many years ago and these past couple of years, my time in the garden has diminished significantly as well, but today I had an idea.

I took these photos at Oregon Imaging in Eugene this afternoon, when I was in for a routine mamogram. They are like a lot of the photographs I see at various medical-related rooms. Flower pics! 

So what if I planted a photography garden? Plants put in primarily to be photographed?

So, yeah, this is a tree. Not really something for a "photography garden" but inspirational for me just the same.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Together, with Friends

Another term and more art projects are dominating my mind. This term it is "Design Fundamentals," a class that I should have taken early on in my LCC multi-media design career. Instead I am taking it now, near the end.

Before I talk about my first project, I'll talk about my second, which is due on Tuesday and which I pretty much had completed last Tuesday (after spending a lot of time on it last weekend). Tuesday after class, since it was almost done and there was no reason to bring it home for a couple days, I left it in my art locker along with most of my art supplies and another project which isn't due until the end of the term but which was about 45% done. Image my surprise.... disgust ... and general disbelief when I got to class on Thursday and discovered my lock gone, my project gone, and all my supplies gone. Thieves. They got about $100 worth of supplies plus robbed me of many hours of work which I need to re-do. I am trying hard to put it past me, and not let the thieves take more from me than they already have. I had to re-group and spent much of yesterday re-doing my project. It's hard to get excited about it, but I think I've learned what I was supposed to, which is what is important.

Together, with Friends

Luckily they didn't get my first project, which was personal, and which I was excited about from the beginning. It was a multi-panel photo collage, where we used such design principals as hierarchy, direction, and unity.

My project along with several others from our class.
Luckily, in the weekend in which I was supposed to envision the project and take photos, our friends Sarah and Susan were up for Race For The Cure.

As you can see from the photograph, the project is intentionally black and white. At first I was going to add some spot color (which would have been allowed), a little pink here and there. But in the end I liked it black and white. It took the emphasis off the breast cancer aspect and put it onto the friends, and the support of friends, which was my overall theme.