Weekly Photo Challenge: Door


A gate with a knob counts as a door, right?

This GRILLO door opens up to a little alley beside the GRILLO shop near Baltimore. My family and I spied the store from across the street, at an Italian restaurant we stopped at after a very long drive. We spent awhile throwing around theories about what it could be. A shop that sells grills for cooking? A specialty shop that sells grillz?

Of course we’re all morons and “Grillo” is just a family name and had nothing to do with the stores contents. It was, in fact, a pretty swank jewelry store. So there you go. I guess it still could be a grillz store but I doubt it. Which is sort of disappointing, to be honest.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Door.”

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

The Muses are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They are the personification of the arts, science and literature. In countless works were they called upon to guide the creator in their deeds; to inspire them, to make them great. I can say with total assurance that I’ve never received the divine blessing of any ancient goddesses and if I had, I probably wouldn’t talk about it.

These days, a muse is simply a creative stimulus; it can be anything that inspires a person. Artists, designers and creative individuals of all careers have rewarded people with the prestigious title of “Muse”, all throughout history. Nowadays it’s not un-common for anyone with open eyes to experience something that acts as a constant fountain of ideas. It isn’t about divinity, rather an open mind to the world immediately around you.

There’s no one specific thing that I could call my muse. Instead, there are plenty of subjects I find myself revisiting time and time again.

Things like:


My home. I’ve spent a lot of time in the same little area and I still find things to photograph and enjoy. Although I’m pretty critical of it, I’ve been able to cultivate my own unique appreciation for the place I’ve been raised. It doesn’t hurt that through a camera lens, I get to pick and choose what my home is to me and leave the rest conveniently out of frame.

Also:


Nature. I consider myself lucky to live in a place with no shortage of pretty things to look at, and no one does ‘pretty’ quite like Mother Nature. I don’t know what this is a picture of even, I just like to look at it. The living land around me is a constant source of motivation; something so easy to appreciate, even without understanding it.


Dandi-Poofs get a special mention for being practically synonymous with my childhood/happiness in general and for being plain fantastic. If you can’t understand why that is just by looking at them, then I don’t know what to tell you.

I also gravitate towards:


Animals. There’s a special thrill that comes from photographing something living that you can’t control or direct. It feels like more of an accomplishment somehow; extra credit if you succeed at this in the Literal Wild. I blame Pokemon Snap for the delirious rush I get whenever I take a great photo of an animal, and really for my love of photography in general. Thanks Nintendo!


Birds are extra special. They come in so many different “flavors”, if you will. Flamboyant ones like the peacock and flamingo (or those guys with the feather mohawks!), elegant ones like swans and cranes, proud eagles and falcons, and even hilariously silly ones like the spoonbill. Birds are just the greatest. There’s a reason that the act of simply watching them is considered a legitimate pastime and hobby.

They aren’t the only things with wings that I love, however. I also really like:


Insects. All of them really, but moths in particular. They’re basically butterflies’ unpretentious cousins. They come in a crazy range of patterns and colors, some of which I can’t fathom being useful camouflage in the wild. Not to mention their many sizes and adorably fluffy bodies–the feathery antennae are a charm point as well! They also have super hairy legs which makes me happy for reasons I don’t quite understand and try not to think too deeply about.

Last but not least:


The things I love the most will always have a place on my camera’s memory card. I certainly don’t think I’m special in this regard, and this one should be pretty self-explanatory.

WordPress Photo Challenge Pingback: “Muse.”

Weekly Writing Challenge: Ice, Water, Steam

“What does it mean to be the same thing in different forms?”

My answer? ‘Not a whole lot‘ yet, ‘Everything‘ at the same time.

This idea that we are multifaceted beings, things of depth and dimension; capable of change or consistency, is not unique to us. All things in life work this way; all things grow and change, but keep a little of what they were. After all, our youth, our beginnings, are our bedrock and soil. We build and grow upon our past into something else, hopefully something better. Something that contributes to the world. Humans aren’t made special by this, but it’s incredibly important.

If we think of things in thirds; like we are ice, water and steam, then the idea of our childhoods, adulthoods and elderhoods surely come to mind. With it, so does our past, present and future. These three aspects of ourselves are the Big Three, the triad of who we are; the three individuals made into a whole that will be remembered by the world.

As a woman, I could delve deeper. I could spend time talking about The Three Faces of Eve; the Child, the Wife and the Seductress. There is this idea that women fall into one of these three categories: the spritely, innocent, child-like girl; the wise, calm, gentle home-maker; the sexually liberated, experienced, independent woman. Any well-crafted character, any human, will be parts of all three. Then there are the Hecate sisters. Without getting into the history of the triple-goddess, she represents the Maiden, the Matron and the Crone; Waxing, Full, and Waning. They too speak of these three aspects of womanhood, mixing the idea of the Three Faces of Eve into only slightly more complex traits.

We are all of these things eventually, but can we be all at once? Can we change from one to another with relative freedom?

No, we may be made up of water, but we aren’t as easy to change. The Elder and Crone may keep their childish curiosity or the Maidens love-ripe heart, but she will never be able to free herself of the burden of her losses and curated wisdom. That time, that innocence, that person, is untouchable and unobtainable. Just as I can’t reach into the future to my elder-self full of knowing, I also can’t recapture the worry-free, oblivious girl of my youth.

Water flows freely into one form of matter into the next and can transform back again. We aren’t so malleable. We need to pay damn close attention to the people we turn ourselves into, because part of that will always be with us. If we’re like ice, we need to be careful not to crack. If we’re steam, we must remember not to lose ourselves. If I am water, I have to steady myself onto the path I want, not just the one of least resistance.

We are not three definite things at once. Instead, we are an amalgam of everything we experience at every moment and eventually that will lead us into a form of ourselves that our past selves wouldn’t recognize; there is no going back. I can only make who I will be into someone better than myself and my past.

 

WordPress Writing Challenge Pingback:  “Ice, Water, Steam.”

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature


Water is powerful. It is both gentle and strong. It makes up the majority of everyone and everything. It has a hand in many of nature’s deadliest disasters. It sustains us and our earth, without it, we are but dry bones.

Coming from Virginia, or “The Land of Mercurial Weather”, I have experienced a lot of nature’s different forces. It sometimes feels like we Virginians are at the mercy of almost any and all of Mother Nature’s various whims, with exception to maybe sandstorms. There is no desert in Virginia.

But water plays the biggest part here, as I suppose it does everywhere. From the carpet of dew outside every morning to the Summer thunder storms to the coastal hurricanes, Virginia enjoys its fair share of water. My photo here shows the small part of water that I deal with the most; it’s clinging to every surface after the downpour, almost as if apologizing for any havoc it may have caused just before.

I love that no matter what it was doing before, after it’s gone, everything looks so vibrant. Squall or gentle shower, water is my favorite force of nature.

WordPress Photo Challenge Pingback: “Forces of Nature.”

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Intricate

Intricacy is defined by its complexity or detail. A lot of things could be considered intricate even if they aren’t always outwardly so, like people. Some things are only understood as intricate by people who have an intimate knowledge of that thing, like music. I chose to show an obvious intricacy, one that is plain to see but sometimes hard to appreciate, the intricacy of old architecture.

This photo was a quick shot of some very high windows of an old building in Atlanta, Georgia. I only barely noticed them from where I stood across the street and it made me wonder why people put such effort into something so hard to actually appreciate. All the same, I’m glad they did.

I suppose at the end of the day, that’s what’s at the heart of intricacy. It’s an expression of excellence and patient planning, something whose creation is every bit a piece of art as the finished product. It almost doesn’t matter if no one else is able to see it.

WordPress Photo Challenge Pingback: Intricate

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

This is a photo I took recently while out on one of my walks. I brought my camera along because it’s finally looking (and feeling) like Spring here in Virginia so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to take some great pictures.

I like this photo way more than I was expecting myself to. I took some decent shots of the flowers close up and on angles, and they were okay too, but this one from above shows off how the flowers spiral around each other as they grow, giving me a greater glimpse of natures architecture. I think it’s pretty rad.

Also, one thing I didn’t notice until just recently–there’s some kind of bug situation happening near the bottom left corner, just photobombing it up. I . . . really don’t know what is happening there.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

cul·ture

noun

1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

2. that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.

3. a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.

4. development or improvement of the mind by education or training.

5. the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: the youth culture; the drug culture.

That is the definition of culture according to Dictionary.com. I am inclined to believe it is accurate.

Knowing this, I have to admit I am not a thoroughly cultured person. I’m pretty open-minded, I’m intelligent enough, I watched a lot of Britcoms growing up and I like to read, but I’m certainly not cultured.

This is not for a complete lack of trying though. I have traveled to the glorious city of Monterrey Mexico on three separate occasions, all for around a week long. Monterrey is gorgeous and by far one of the most awe-inspiring places I’ve seen in person–I’ll have to remember to share some of my photos with you all. Just trust me, going from small town in the east to a GIANT, mountainous city faaaaar south? Quite the “culture shock”.

But this brings me to the photo I chose for this photo challenge. Shame on me, but I don’t recall the lady’s name, probably because I don’t speak Spanish very well or, you know, at all. She was, however, one of the most memorable people I met in Monterrey, and in a city with a population of 4,080,329 in just 2010, that’s saying something. There’s a lot to take in.

I met her on my third (and so far last) trip there. She was waiting outside the hospital; her son had been in a construction accident and had been in the hospital for months. She still sat outside and waited though, abandoning the rest of her life to be nearest to what mattered. Like many others who were unsure of their loved ones fates, that’s all she could do.

We spoke, we ate, she prayed for her son and all the other people in the hospital with me, and I was able to snap this picture of her as she laughed at a joke my translator made. She may have been pretty solemn when we first met, full of concern for her son, but seeing her smile like this let me know that hers is a face that’s used to smiling.

I am not very cultured. I went to Monterrey to learn more about God, mostly I learned things about myself, but I did take away with me some of Monterrey’s spirit and culture.

I remember the bustling city, overripe with life. I remember learning how to tell someone’s wealth by what kind of objects they fortified the walls around their land with. I remember the quieter places that I got to live, hidden away between the mountains. I remember getting lime popsicles from the OXXO down the street. I remember tasting Joya for the first time. I remember eating the best oranges in my life, straight off the tree. I remember visiting all the must-see locations and bumping elbows with all sorts of tourists. I remember the giant Mexican flag flying proudly, and myself taking refuge in the shade it provided. I remember the cooling waterfall at the end of the most depressing carriage ride in existence. I remember exploring caves carved into the side of the mountains. I remember the mass graves. I remember going to the outskirts, squatting grounds and trash heaps made into makeshift homes. I remember building those people homes. I remember feeding them, playing with their children, getting to know their families, telling them stories and feeling honored to be able to speak to a group of strong, passionate women like the lady I took a picture of above.

I remember being overwhelmed and crying myself to sleep on my allotted bunk bed as I stared out into the city outside my window.

But that is not what I truly took away from my experiences in Monterrey or the experiences with the people of Monterrey. No, the overall impression I got from them and their way of life was that they were unapologetically joyful.

Despite everything, every hardship and mountain in their path, they were always capable of such intense happiness. The people of Monterrey live life, and I mean really LIVE. Whether it’s for their family, friends, lovers, their country, their dreams, or the dreams of those that they care for, the people of Mexico took all the bad thrown at them and lived each day for the good. I saw that every moment I was with them.

The joy, that’s what I think of when I think of their culture. Everyone was so open, so willing to talk and share what little they had and rejoice in what little that would be given to them, and in the face of uncertainty, they still knew how to laugh.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Blue and orange contrast is by far my favorite contrast.

I went around my personal stomping grounds and spied all of my favorite blue and orange items and kind of cataloged them. For the longest time I’ve loved the color blue in all its shades and hues, it just calls to me. Orange always did the opposite–I just don’t like it, it’s obnoxious and used for warning signs for a reason. Together though I think they make something far lovelier than the two could achieve on their own.

Partnership has been on my mind a lot lately–not in a romantic way, just how we can all compliment each others personalities and work really well as a team, even when some of us have obnoxious orange personalities.

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day In My Life

Everyday starts out pretty similar–feed Tip-Tup the turtle (A.K.A Scourge of the Gods) and take Amarillo the cactus out to get some sunshine. From there, things usually stay on a simple course that may change depending on the day.

Usually my cats demand I attend to their needs–petting, feeding, watering, letting them roam around murdering everything in sight–that sort of thing. I also put up with a lot of shit from those outdoor cats that like to hang around my back porch like this is some kind of club. Slash gave me a real “wtf?” look as I stumbled out into the afternoon light, all haggard and sleepy, taking pictures of my cactus. She’s named after Slash from Chrono Trigger by the way, meaning that she’s pretty much a push over, but still likes to be a punk.

Dang cats.

Luckily someone made coffee fairly recently so I didn’t have to zombie-struggle through making a pot for myself. It was a bit of an odd thing though, since there was in fact coffee left and no one in my house. I live in a four bedroom trailer with five other people–I kind of notice when I’m alone.

It was nice.

Then I did all my lady business in the bathroom. Never you mind what that entails.

Saw myself in the mirror, looking a mess, but my plans for this Saturday didn’t pan out so I don’t care! Too high off the sweet, sweet nectar of the gods to be upset about that hair.

Not Pictured: Me geeking out over the Saturday morning cartoons I recorded.

Got my lappy out in order to reconnect with the world a little–I just can’t feel like my day has started until I’ve poked, tagged, tweeted or liked something.

Then it’s time for the walk, I like to walk. I tend to take short walks so all of our dogs and cats and such don’t get too tired when they follow (and they will) but depending on the weather I sometimes like to take a longer route through the woods and back, just for the heck of it. The good news is that it is finally LOOKING like Spring around these parts in VA. It seriously snowed just last week so this is a pleasant change.

Found a feather on my walk. We have a ton of birdies around here–the big flesh eating kind–so I find a lot of feathers. They are, in fact, not rainbow hued. It is sad.

Mr. Pants was on the porch when I got back home–looking all rough and angry like he always does. That cat is not alright. Ever. He is perpetually grumpy and unfriendly.

I love him.

Finally people were home by the time I got back. Neither of them noticed I actually got a photo of them. They would not be happy about it. I give no care. Have to have proof that the other people I talk about living with actually exist. These two in particular (my mom and grandmother), cooked dinner tonight as they usually do and it was pretty legit. I meant to take a pic of the entire thing once it was all done but uh, I sort of forgot in the moment and just ate. Asparagus was good though!

My mom also hooked me up with a lemon ginger ale which is slowly becoming my drink of choice. I’m kind of craving one right now. . . Anyway, drank that fizzy, fruity deliciousness as I pretended to be interested in the college news while I ignored uninvited guests. Uninvited? Uninterested. Being rude is a two way street.

Enjoyed the hell out of the newest Coheed and Cambria records. One song even has horns in it all Ska-style. It makes my heart sing.

Of course as I went out onto the back porch to get some fresh air (and maybe sing a little) I got shot the evil eye by Flea, the prettiest little porch kitty. He/she is named after Flea from Chrono Trigger mostly because it shows up with Slash a lot and that’s how it goes in the game (There’s an Ozzy and Magus, too!) and Flea’s gender is debatable in-game and I really haven’t got up close and personal with this cat yet so I don’t really know what’s going on back there!

The rest of my day was hours of HGTV, the new season of Doctor Who and picking out what to wear for Easter. A small portion was dedicated to getting some actual work done. Fun work though! Projects for friends and some writing, small things just to keep everything in motion.

It’s really not a bad day, overall.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

I can’t think of anything more physically symbolic of a promised future than a bridge.

It’s an assurance that you will get from one place to another–across rivers, ravines, chasms and any other trouble we humans come across. We get together, put our minds and creativity to work and make bridges. We work so hard to create this solution, this promise, so that others don’t have to.

We are amazing.