Sunday, October 23, 2016

Are you prepared?

The Cascadia subduction zone.
Image from the New Yorker
Last summer, the New Yorker published the article, The Really Big One, about the great Cascadia earthquake which will hit the northwest at some point in the future. The consensus is that it will be a big earthquake, the questions of "how big" and "when" can not be answered.

That fall, we watched an excellent Oregon Field Guide special, Unprepared, on OPB. This special showed the magnitude of destruction that we might be in for, and at the same time, how unprepared Oregon is for such a disaster. We will not rebound like Japan did after their recent earthquake, nor will our coastal communities have advance warning and be able to effectively escape the resulting tsunami.

Also last summer and fall, the northwest was on fire. We watched as wildfires burned through Washington and Oregon. The Canyon Creek fire ended up burning over 110,000 acres, while the three largest fires in Washington burned over 500,000 acres. Many people were evacuated from their homes as the fires raged.

These events made me think about our own preparedness. I realized emergency preparedness wasn't just about a potential earthquake, but would serve us well for other emergencies, like fires, floods, snow or wind storms that might knock out our power (and hence, our water) for a week or two, a chemical spill on the freeway which runs past our house, or even some sort of terrorist attack. Being prepared for emergencies can also help us out during a personal crisis -- keeping plenty of gas in the tank, a small stash of cash on hand, and a first aid kit in the car are all acts of preparedness which have come in handy in the past.

An aerial view of Minato, Japan, March 18, 2011, a week after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami
(Photo by the US Navy).
After reading and watching, and attending a preparedness fair in town last fall, D. and I created an "emergency box" which we placed in the garage. It will be handy to grab on the go, and also shouldn't get too buried during an earthquake. We've got sleeping bags prepared, a solar charger, a radio, and a water purifier. We bought first aid kits for both of our cars (which came in handy last summer when I fell during one of our outings and scratched myself up). We picked a rendezvous point in Eugene should an emergency happen while we are at work. And we took down the big picture that hung above our bed, 'cuz it would seriously hurt if it fell on us during a quake.

We could do a lot more.

We've talked about getting spare shoes in the car so it will be easier to walk the 20 miles home if we have too (and which will come in handy if the car breaks down and we need to walk for help), and I've thought about the best way to get home, since we cross several bridges which would undoubtedly be damaged during a big quake. We've talked about strapping down the water heater so we'll potentially have a reservoir of drinkable water. Since I do a lot of canning, we've got plenty of food in case of a flood, but the jars wouldn't survive a tumble to the floor. We have three cats and only two cat carriers. A spare set of clothes in our emergency box would be handy, especially if something happens in the middle of the night which had us fleeing the house in a hurry.

As school is winding down (only 6 weeks to go!), my mind if coming back to being prepared, aided by the recent news that I've been hearing.

So, I'm curious, what have you done to be prepared for an emergency?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Nicked Plant

[Note, I originally wrote this in the spring of 2011, probably on my lunch break at work. I am guessing that I intended to finish it up at home that evening. That never happened and I just found it in my drafts. These are good memories, so I'm posting it now.]

I nicked a plant today -- a little penstemon growing in the crack of a rock wall. It was so pretty and will look so lovely in our yard. I don't nick a lot of plants, but I've been known to, and I come by the trait honestly.

During my mom's memorial service, my cousin reminisced about the time we went to a botanical garden in Vancouver BC. Of course, you're not supposed to nick plants from botanical gardens, and, of course, you're not supposed to bring undeclared plant items across the international border. However, when we got home, my mom proceeded to empty seeds and plant starts out of her pockets. 

Mom and I at the botanical garden in Vancouver BC.
I wonder how many seeds were in her pockets when this pic was taken.

During that same time, one spring day during my sophomore year, Mom picked me up from high school (as she did pretty much every day that year -- my first year in a new school). I got in the car and she had a devious smile on her face and a hand full of envelopes. She informed me that we were heading up to Peace Arch Park -- an international park straddling the US/Canadian border -- to gets seeds. Mom was all prepared, with ample envelopes and a ball point pen. She pinched seeds while I wrote descriptive information on the outside of the envelopes and kept watch.

It didn't stop there though. I recall her pinching seeds from a lovely columbine in the Fred Meyer nursery (while I kept watch), and nicking sedum starts from a walkway at a plant nursery. In fact, she had a whole sedum garden mostly from plants she had pinched from here and there. I now have starts from many of those sedums growing in my yard.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

One Photographer: Inspiration

[Backstory: Earlier this summer, I cleaned up my computer files which involved going through my LCC class files, including a plethora of images for my "Image Communications" class in the spring of 2014. Better than the images, I found an essay I wrote for that class about a photographer I found inspirational. For me, reading the essay and viewing this photographer's work was inspirational all over again. And it had to do with flowers so it fits with my renewed focus on photographing what I love. Here's the essay, modified a bit.]

One Photographer: Byron Jorjorian 

I selected as my professional photographer, Byron Jorjorian, a fine art photographer whom I found while Googling nature photography, more specifically abstract wildflowers. According to his online biography, Mr. Jorjorian has been a photographer for over 30 years, with images appearing on cards, calendars, posters, and advertising as well as such publications as National Geographic and Outdoor Magazine.

I was attracted to Mr. Jorjorian’s photography for several reasons, including his beautiful macro flower photography, his wildflower and nature abstracts, and his landscapes. These are all the types of photographs which I enjoy taking. I think there is a lot to learn by looking at his body of work, especially since I see that he has taken photos of landscapes which have caught my eye in the past, but which I have had difficulty executing well. However, for this paper, I’ll focus specifically on his abstract photography, since that is what brought him to my attention in the first place.

Abstract Photography 

While working on my photo shoot at Bake Stewart Park, I happened to take an abstract flower photograph during a slight breeze. I loved the effect and would have reworked my final exhibit to focus on abstract, breeze-assisted macro photography if time had allowed. However, playing with this idea just a little bit, I realized it was going to be rather complicated so I quickly shelved the idea as something to play with later, on my own.

Inspirational abstract by Colette Kimball

However, I did do a Google image search of abstract wildflower photography, and discovered that while there are tons of images of wildflowers online, there are very few wildflower abstracts. This is how I found Mr. Jorjorian. This breezy photograph by Mr. Jorjorian  is somewhat reflective of my original abstract.

"Abstract grass pattern" by Byron Jorjorian

His work also inspired me to think about other ways to create nature abstracts, like abstracts created with macro photography, such as this spiky one, which is obviously a plant-based.

"Abstract closeup of Agaveby Byron Jorjorian

This image plays on light, perhaps shining through a leaf.

"Circle of light and iris leaf" by Byron Jorjorian

Mr. Jorjorian also has some more colorful photography which I I find especially appealing. The colors are bright and pronounced, and are obviously plant-based, but I’m quite sure how he produced the images, I suspect he moved the camera ... 

"Abstract of forest in the fall" by Byron Jorjorian

"Tulip Flower Abstract"  by Byron Jorjorian

"Abstract of a field of flowers" by Byron Jorjorian

"Abstract image of tree in the fallby Byron Jorjorian

... or changed the focal length as we did in class.

"Sunlight streaming through Trees and Grassby Byron Jorjorian

I also appreciated Mr. Jorjorian’s use of landscapes to create abstracts, such as this field of blue flowers using a striking blue sky to off-set the field:

"Hillside covered with blue flowers and grass with a blue sky above by Byron Jorjorian

this morning shot along a smooth sand dune:

"Sand Dune silhouette at sunrise" by Byron Jorjorian

and this sand dune shot which also uses shadows:

"Undulating and flowing abstract of sand dunes and sky " by Byron Jorjorian

I also realized that some of my own work (like the “morning light” photograph that is part of the media art student exhibition) might be considered abstract. 

"Morning Light" by Colette Kimball

Mr. Jorjorian has done similar types of photographs:

"Maple tree abstract of fall color" by Byron Jorjorian

"Abstract reflection of fall foliage in stream" by Byron Jorjorian

[Now that I have "Design Fundamentals" under my belt -- a class which I should have taken before I took Image Communications -- many of these images have new appeal to me. I can see how the contrast of light/dark, spiky and round shapes, and flow of color lead the eye. I hope to get out my camera again this weekend. It's been a while, and I feel inspired!]

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 skin cancer, 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.