Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I've been planning on doing this post for months, but now that I'm finally doing it, I feel really weird.

Here's what happened: This summer I was walking a lot, and while the audiobooks helped keep the walks interesting, sometimes I would still bring my camera along for even more incentive. The neighborhood I walk in is so pretty with flowers and trees, and in the evening everything is glowy and inspiring.

Bringing my camera on walks isn't super convenient, but I've done it a handful of times since May. I'm always fairly self-conscious about taking pictures in unlikely places, and I don't typically do it in front of people, but of course some people probably see me from their houses. Actually, I know for a fact this is true, and you can read a little story about it at the end of this post.

Anyway, there also happens to be a lot of cats around (surprise!), and I came up with the idea to photograph as many as I could, and then present them here in my blog. That's all fine, but now that I'm doing it, I feel like the odd camera lady. I bet some people refer to me like that in their homes (maybe OCL for short?), where I can't see them. But sometimes our favorite hobbies make us do weird things, and what's done is done. Here are some cats.

I should probably note that I'm not even a cat person. In fact, I don't think I'm really a pet person at all, but cats in particular have their annoying habits that make me not want to own one. Photographing them is different.

I just noticed the Keds in the background. Are they cool again, or did I time warp back to 1989?

Special treat: Renton, WA cat!

Can I help you?

A very large cat. This was actually the first time I've seen a deer while out on a regular neighborhood walk.

This cat seems like a stray, but he/she is very friendly.

So friendly that it was hard to take pictures because he kept coming too close.

This was the only time I've been approached about my neighborhood picture-taking. After photographing this cat, I continued my walk around the cul-de-sac when a woman walked out of her house.

WOMAN: I don't mean to seem rude (or did she say "weird"?), but may I ask why you're taking pictures of my neighbor's house?

ME: (Expecting her to say "cat" instead of "house"), I was taking pictures of the cat.


ME: Not that that's any less creepy.

WOMAN: No, that's fine. I thought you were photographing her house and I wanted to check...she's not there, so...

ME: Oh, no just the cat. (And I'll start planning a burglary stat.)

She wished me a good night, and part of me wondered if I should explain more about why I was photographing a cat, but I just felt embarrassed and exposed. The good news is that I never walk through that court--it was just a last check for cats before I put together this post. So hopefully I'll never see her again.

And that is part of why I feel weird about this post. The end.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July leftovers

I've taken photos here and there but haven't really done much with them, so I'm going to post a few from the past month here. Enjoy this exclusive look at never-before seen photos!! Well, most of them.

WARNING: There are a few snake photos below. I know some people hate even seeing pictures of them (for some reason?), so I'm trying to be nice. :)

Sometimes I take pictures of people's pets when they aren't looking.

Sometimes I take pictures of animals' children when they are looking.

There are some really vibrant hydrangeas in my neighborhood. I had a little mini-daydream the other day about planting tons of hydrangea plants into a big garden so that when you took pictures from a distance (a helicopter, let's say), it looked all blotchy with shades of pink, purple and blue. People would come by just to take pictures to turn into computer wallpapers. And then I would bring iced tea to the helicopter pilots.

The other day I got into a snake conversation (a snakeversation, you might say) with one of my coworkers. Her son has a python and I used to have a red-tail boa. One thing led to another and we arranged for her son to bring the snake in to work so I could get some photos. And here he is! This particular photo isn't all that wonderfully-lit, but it took many tries to get a photo of the tongue in focus.

This python was only about 4 feet or so, and you can get an idea of his size here. I didn't ask permission to post this coworker's photo, so I just cropped her out.

We posed him in the mail boxes.

Which were apparently very comfortable. Nap time!

This is part of a park I visited in Bellevue, WA (Mercer Slough Nature Park). You can see downtown Bellevue back there.

And that's it for now! See you tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Side Benefits of Travel

[This photo kind of gives me a headache.]

In the past month I've taken three trips (two weekend road trips, one longer plane trip), and they've gotten me thinking again about the traveling process and why I do it. The primary reasons people travel are pretty obvious: vacation, to see people and places, to take care of some business, etc. But in the days leading up to my trips, I usually feel stressed and start wondering if it's worth it. I've had to remind myself of how the entire experience will benefit me both immediately and beyond the duration of the trip. In the end, most of the time I do feel it was totally worth the effort and expense. I thought I'd talk about a few of the less-addressed reasons traveling can be a positive experience, at least for me.

1. It's a great incentive to get things in order. I don't always succeed, but I prefer to leave my place somewhat tidy when I leave. No one wants to come home to the smell of garbage or dirty dishes that have been in the sink for three days. I can be kind of slacky about certain chores, but attaching a meaningful deadline and incentive kicks me into gear a little better.

2. Same for the car. Before road trips, I'm more likely to check on my tires, the oil level, and the general cleanliness of my car. It's too easy to put those things off when I'm only driving around town each day.

3. More audiobook time. I generally travel alone to get to my friends/family, so I have the freedom to choose what I listen to on the way. It's always nice to plow through a couple of audiobooks that are soon to be due back to the library. It's enjoyable multitasking, and it's nice to get lost in a book for longer than the 15 minutes it takes to get to work.

4. The world looks different from an airplane. I take plane trips about 2-4 times per year. They are generally more stressful to prepare for and manage than road trips, and sometimes I feel really cranky about having to deal with airports. But almost every time I get up in the plane, something happens to my outlook on various situations. I guess looking down at earth (I'm a window seat kind of girl) makes problems seem smaller and people nicer. I often do a lot of thinking about life and God, and I will get a little boost of hope or inspiration about my goals or different avenues I'd like to explore.

5. Sometimes leaving home is more important than the destination. We're all different, of course, but I have recently been learning how much better off I am when I get out of town on a regular basis. I don't always have a terrific time on trips, but one thing they give me is a chance to leave Salem (or wherever I'm living). Physically removing myself from reminders of life-as-usual is important for me, even if I end up having a draining or annoying time wherever I go (not typical, but it happens).

6. Traveling makes you better at traveling. If you've made the same trip several times, you've probably noticed how it has evolved and been refined to make it less of a hassle and more enjoyable for you/your family. I've driven up to the Seattle area several times, and even just in the past 2-3 times I have realized more of what works best for me. Certain luggage is more suitable. Filling up my gas tank at particular points makes the trip go more smoothly (even if it's a bit more expensive). Leaving at such-and-such time is best for traffic and my energy level. Having a special meal/treat on the way home makes the end of the trip less dreadful. Even little things like which shoes I wear and how I carry my bags in the airport (Purse first, backpack second!) can make getting around more or less annoying. And even though I do enjoy the occasional early-morning start to a trip, I have come to accept that I'm a lot happier and less stressed when I plan flights and drives at reasonable hours. Creating a good system makes each trip less and less daunting.

7. Coming home. There's not much to say about this--you all know how good it feels to be back in the comfort of your home, bed, town, car, bathroom, kitchen, etc. Sometimes one of the best parts about a trip is how it helps you appreciate normal life.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Where was the last place you traveled?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Beavers! 7 posts in 7 days!

Last night I finally got clear photos of a beaver out of water! They still aren't the best, but the fact that you can clearly see him and his tail make them a million times better than any of the others I've taken when the beaver was like 100 feet away. This one got out on "my" side of the lake, and I grabbed my camera and got several photos. Many were blurry because it was so hard to focus in the low light and through the trees, but here are two that turned out decently (if you ignore the noise from being at 1600 ISO on a camera that doesn't handle that very well).


In other news, I have decided that next week I'm going to attempt to post here every day. Another blogger I follow is doing that this week, which didn't work for me, so I'll begin on Monday. (I know Monday isn't the first day of the new week, but doesn't it feel like it is?) My posts may not have a lot of photos, but a little something about me/life lately.

Do you want to take on the challenge with me? You don't have to write on each day--no one will know if you write a couple at a time and schedule them to post on separate days. One of the reasons to do it is so you aren't obsessing over your posts, but learning to quickly write up something short and sweet for the purpose of checking in and connecting with others. See the above linked post for more reasons to do it. If you're in, please comment here and tell my readers a little something about your blog so they can go over and check it out during your week of posts!

Here are some ideas for what you can post about:

  • Books you are reading, or books you read in the month of July
  • A summary of your typical day/week
  • Pictures and thoughts about your home
  • Some of your lesser-known dreams and wishes for your life
  • A little about your personality
  • Something about your family, siblings, etc.
  • Talk about your hometown
  • Talk about your travels--where you've been and where you'd like to go
  • Post a self-portrait or any other "photo of the day" by itself
  • Talk about what got you interested in blogging

And there are about a million other ideas--those were all just off the top of my head. Of course you can also just stick to posts that match your usual blog content, if you'd like.

Talk to you next week!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trip photos (part 3)

I forgot to say thanks for the well-wishes regarding my health the other day. On Saturday I woke up with extreme dizziness/vertigo. I've never experienced anything like it, and it was horrible. It was like being reallyreallyreally car sick, and I had to lay very still. I'll spare you the other details, but eventually I was much better, but slept a lot of the day away. It was frustrating that part of my weekend was devoted to feeling crappy, but at least it was just on Saturday.

This is the last set of photos from my trip. Most of these are from the butterfly pavilion at the botanical garden in Albuquerque. Enjoy!

I guess they're mating.

I love this butterfly SO MUCH (I want to marry it), but it would not sit still for me. Its wings were continuously flapping when I tried to photograph this angle, so this was the best I could do.

I still need to look it up. I'm sure it's some species that is only found deep in the forests of South America or something.

This butterfly is a little rough. I can't tell if it's born like that or if it got into a butterfight.

My beautiful niece taking pictures. She was the only one of my nephieces who seemed to enjoy being in the pavilion longer than a few minutes. Some were creeped by the butterflies flying around, some just got bored, but K hung out with my sister and me while in here. It was fun. I think she got some good pictures.

I like this butterfly--nice colors.

This butterfly stayed on a woman's leg as she walked around in the pavilion, so on her way out the workers had to shoo it off with their magic butterfly wand.

Closeup--it looks like it was just spray-painted. Maybe all of the butterflies were painted and they're just tricking us into thinking they're exotic? Maybe they're all just plain black naturally.

Some of the chrysalises they had hanging up. It's not only interesting how different they are, but you can kind of tell the stage they're in compared to others.


These poor (Owl?) butterflies have the misfortune of dull coloring as well as a chrysalis that look like a dead leaf. Sorry guys.

While observing the one in the last picture, I realized this one was just coming out of his chrysalis! Their bodies are all pudgy at first, but they release some liquid (that looks like blood--ew) and look normal after awhile.

Lots of semi-freshly hatched butterflies.

We took a break in the aquarium to cool off while my sister got lunch. These rays were fun to watch.

After a picnic lunch, I brought out the bubble supplies again.

I really liked her outfit--very summery.

One more visit in the butterfly pavilion. This butterfly was on a man's shoulder, so I took a quick photo before telling him about it.

These cool birds were in there, too.

Another butterfly hatching!

He looks about ready to be released.

Later that evening, my nephew and I took a walk and watched a storm moving in.

When it got dark I got the tripod out and tried more lightning photography. The pictures turned out better this time, and I realized a better way to take them that I wish I had thought of earlier on. Anyway, I was happy with the photos I got, and glad that my nephew was there to keep me company.

My best lightning shot of the trip.

I was really glad it was stormy on many of the nights I was there. So fun!

I had a good trip overall. I got to do most everything I wanted, and of course the main reason for going was to see my sisters and their families. It's bittersweet because seeing everyone always makes me feel a little lonelier when I go back home. Plus I tend to analyze everything I said and did, worrying about how I handled various conversations and situations with my nephieces. I have this fear of them remembering me for the times when I'm careless with my words or behavior. I've already apologized to my 6-year-old niece (through a text to her sister) for speaking somewhat harshly to her when she wouldn't listen or do what was being asked, and she apparently responded like she had no idea what I was talking about. :P I'm glad. I tend to be overly anxious sometimes.

Okay, now this post has turned into a confessional. I just want my nephieces to know how much I care about their feelings, even though I'm human and don't always show it. Maybe my sister can pass that on to them sometime(s). :)

Speaking of my sister (the one who reads my blog): thanks so much, R, for hostessing once again. It's nice of you to take me places and let the other kids come over so I can get plenty of time with everyone! I know that having a guest can be tiresome and throw off your whole routine, even if it's your sister. Know that I appreciate your time!


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