Tuesday, March 31, 2009

'tude tuesday: in the heat with a bluejean girl

It's just been one of those days where you have to get back to basics and forge ahead. Steve Perry and Neal Schon helped me do just that today after I found my old "Escape" cassette tape hidden way back in a drawer. This is my favorite Journey song ever, because it's totally rad.

Being a Bay Area teenager, I, of course, saw them live at multiple Bill Graham/Day on the Green concerts. I also worked at a pizza restaurant frequented by the likes of the Journey boys and Huey Lewis. Anyone remember Papa Vito's on Greenfield Ave? It's where I first played both Frogger AND PacMan. Oh! And at the Marin County Fair I once stood in line for the "Zipper" right near Neal Schon. He was foxy and unmistakable in those 80's shades and denim vest.

See? The day's getting better already.

Monday, March 30, 2009

flagrant, exhausted

I've been a baaaaaad blogger yet again, but I'm finding time slipping away from me like most other people I know. Even though the days are longer now, there's so much catching up to do.

Let's see. It's too early in the morning for me to blog on a coherent theme, so here are some random bits and bytes:

Got highlights put in my hair a few months back (first time in decades - the stylist was all, "Your hair. It's so virginal."), because it was the heart of winter and something needed to be done to lighten the mood. Anyway, they needed to be touched up recently, so I went back to the salon last week. I emerged a few hours later looking like a Vegas showgirl (my hair, anyway - not anything below it). I tried to just sort of roll with the platinum look - I really did. But after enough people took one look at me and said things like, "WHOA. Blonde," I got the picture. So, I went back for some "low lights," and it's all better now.

What else...Um, in doing some research for a potential upcoming project, I'm back to reading Marguerite Duras. Anais Nin and Milan Kundera will be coming up soon on the reading list, I figure, but here are some lines from The Lover that caught my eye: "At the age of fifteen I had the face of pleasure, and yet I had no knowledge of pleasure. There was no mistaking that face. Even my mother must have seen it. My brothers did. That was how everything started for me - with that flagrant, exhausted face, those rings around the eyes, in advance of time and experience."

It's very sparse prose, this book about a young girl's "awakening" in prewar Indochina, very chopped off in chunks and blocks, short paragraphs here and there, a complete jumping around in time. "Digressions within digressions" was how one of my beta readers described a manuscript I wrote a couple years ago. So, I suppose I didn't handle that time jumping as well as Ms. Duras.

Okay, here's one more quote, totally unrelated (but I like it): "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." - Hellen Keller

Friday, March 20, 2009

it's here, it's here, it's here, it's here....

It's finally HERE!!!!

Tonight marks the beginning of spring! The season of new life and rebirth! The moment when the day and the night are equal in length (if I'm understanding the definition of equinox, that is - feel free to flog me if I'm not).

I've been practicing my bokeh since Wednesday:

Clearly, I have more practicing to do (it would help if I could get my foreground subjects in focus for one). But, hey, I was working without a tripod. At least it's a start, and I think I have the basic idea down.

This morning a dear friend from my son's toddler/pre-school playgroup days came by with her kids, and we spent a few hours catching up, marvelling at what the passage of time does to the relative size of young'uns and walking the property to scope out the best place for me to start some raised beds. And tonight we will be celebrating the beginning of spring here at Casa AWAAR by reinstating our nightly, pre-bedtime porch time. So, if you're anywhere within a hundred mile radius of the San Francisco Peaks (with their rapidly melting snow blankie) come join us on the porch swing. It's like Grandma's feather bed John Denver sang about in that it holds more folks than it looks like it might.

Viva the Vernal Equinox!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

w.o.k. wednesday: three things

This is strictly off-the-cuff and has not been long deliberated since I'm down with a cold, but here are the three foods I'd want with me if I was stranded on an island somewhere or if Armageddon happened and I was the only one left (not the ideal scenario, obviously): dark chocolate, red wine (okay, technically a drink and not a food - and I'd need orange juice to put in it, since I'm pretty redneck that way (which maybe would count as a fourth thing)) and San Francisco sourdough.

Here are the three non e-books I'd want: Cold Mountain, Gilead and the Bible (NIV, annotated).

Here are the three movies (assuming, of course, that I had a portable DVD player and an endless batteries): The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Jerry McGuire and Gone with the Wind.

Here are the three toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, my homemade soap

Here are the three pieces of technology: a Kindle (with a good supply of books, obviously), my iPod, my laptop.

What are some of your three things?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'tude tuesday: bokeh

So, I was thinking I should save this post for fotog friday, but maybe I'll just have to have some of my own examples ready to feature here at AWAAR by then.

Here's the thing. I've been thinking about what really makes me drool, photo-wise. And while -yes, let's just admit it, shall we? - pictures of Hugh Jackman generally do the trick, it's more the qualities especially droolable photos have in common that I was pondering. And one of those qualities is bokeh, which is when the subject stands out in sharp relief against a background that is out-of-focus to the point of being pretty much decorative only (think super shallow depth-of-field, and you'll get the picture)...

like here...

and here (though I would like to see a little PhotoShop unsharp mask and more color saturation applied to this one).

And of course, the awesome Pioneer Woman has some nice bokeh featured in her photo tutorials. She highlights Bakerella whose Wii cupcakes...well, they take the cake (and first prize for allover bokeh numminess).

My desire to achieve the same in my own pictures has led me all over the Web and all over my D80 user's manual. There's one forum for Nikon users in particular that has been especially useful in helping me figure out some of the limitations and upsides of the particular lenses I've been trying to use. All I know is this: I have to grab hold of this information while I'm receptive to it. Being a 90% (in my estimation - I don't do percentages well) right-brained gal, the days when I can process technical details are few and far between. Today just happened to be one of those days when I was all about technical attitude at altitude, so we'll see what I'm able to do to with it.

Oh, and a Facebook Update! Man, that place is scary - in a good way, mostly. It's been only a couple of days, but I've already gotten in touch with three old friends from high school (plus lots of other folks I see/talk to regularly). And I can totally see how it can become addictive.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I am officially part of the Facebook herd as of this weekend.

Somehow, I feel so....so...un-unique. But also exhilarated, because just think of all the FRIENDS I might collect....

But also a little pinchy in the gut, because just think of all the potential REJECTION...

Gah! It's like not being able to find my locker on the first day of seventh grade all over again.
(Is that a zit I feel forming right on the tip of my nose?)

Anyway. No biggee - and it's not like I really CARE or anything - but friend me, if you're on Facebook, too, yo: I'm using my maiden name on there, which is Nicole McInnes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

word of the day: impetuosity

As in "SocioPoliticalEconomic impetuosity: I has it."

Tender hugs in advance to my many leftie friends. Y'all know who you are, and you know I love you. But I just couldn't resist posting this gentle, loving Miltie smackdown. It's an oldie but a goodie.

(Ducking the onslaught of flamethrower fire, wadded up Obama '08 bumper stickers and rotten vegetables in 3...2...1...)

The five-part Ayn Rand interview posted on YouTube is excellent as well. While I disagree with much of what Rand espouses, I somehow admire her almost shockingly staunch defense of her position - and Donohue did a great job. The whole thing also gets surprisingly touching at the end, if you dare to watch all the parts.

Oh! And 15,000 hits on AWAAR? How exciting is that? Of course, I sure as heck don't see anywhere near 15,000 COMMENTS on here. Anyway, it's widely acknowledged that I need to get out more, and 15K is nothing to blogs like dooce, PostSecret, etc. Still. I got a little thrill. Call me impetuously dorky.

Friday, March 13, 2009

fotog friday: the aussie gals

It's hard to believe that Lizzie is officially no longer a pup. She turned a year old about a week ago, so no more excuses are allowed...for ransacking the bathroom wastepaper basket...for peeing on the carpet...for shredding every blanket I put in her kennel...for sticking her nose and tongue where they ought not be. Why do I have a feeling she won't heed the one-year rule?

Then there's SheDog, the ancient Aussie gal who will be fourteen in just a couple of months. Sigh. I remember when I could hold her in the crook of my arm like a baby. I took this picture of the two of them last fall. Such furry little menschs. I love them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

w.o.k. wednesday: a poster of rasputin and a beard down to his knee

By golly but it's been a heck of a day. It started with a failed Internet connection and a resulting missed Hour of Great Importance (at least in the Small Picture version of things), and it ended with about 18 people in my house for the monthly 4-H community meeting due to our original meeting place having fallen through at the last minute.

Then there was the really odd, two-hour-long conversation with Verizon Tech Support and the really deep conversation with a friend about love and loss and motherhood and womanhood.

It's days like this that make me thank my lucky stars for the cool Poetry student from way back in my NAU teaching days who introduced me to the Indigo Girls. What was it I read recently about a young woman who had to assure her anxious mother that she really wasn't a lesbian: She just really liked the IGs' songs?

And I don't mind telling you that I popped an old worn-out cassette into the 4 Runner's tape deck and belted out a mean harmonization of this one on Old Route 66 this morning. Because days like today - days when you feel about as far away from fine as you can get - call for nothing less.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

happy b-day,


Maybe you can take a day off from sending bad guys to a world of hurt.

Don't know why I got such a kick out of this.

A Roundhouse kick, that is.

Monday, March 09, 2009

spring trim

Thursday, March 05, 2009

a sigh for Rihanna

Don't get me wrong. I love her. Love her voice, love her look, love her vibe, love the Soft Cell sampling in this well-known song of Rihanna's.

But this thing with Chris Brown? Come on. And it's not like I'm all bent out of shape about the example she's setting for girls and women everywhere, because I know it's my job as a mother to educate my daughter (and my son, for that matter) that people can only treat you the way you allow them to treat you. And if you allow them to abuse you - whether it's psychologically, emotionally, verbally and/or physically - that's more than likely what you're going to get.

Keith Ablow had some, I think, extremely valid points about the whole syndrome for which Rihanna is pretty much the current poster child. I especially found myself nodding at this observation: "Men who abuse women aren’t usually one-time offenders. They lack the internal restraint necessary to control their impulses, or they harbor deep resentment toward females (often rooted in experiences and emotions from when they were much younger) or their behavior and judgment is impaired by alcohol or illicit drugs."

No sh*t.

All I can say is, You're right, Girl. It's definitely not healthy for you to feel this way. And tainted love is putting it mildly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

w.o.k. wednesday update

Here are the rink pictures I promised...just a few of the things I think of when I think of ice skating (other than the time I opened my knee up on a protruding nail when skating as a youngster...or the time my mother de-pantsed the guy skating in front of her while desperately reaching for something to grab onto for balance...).

Behold the feet of a teacher and her charges:

...and said charges flailing at a vain attempt to gain purchase on the ice:

...and the cuteness overload that is a single, pink monkey glove:

...and the sheer joy of ice lounging:

...and, finally, the awesome, manly power that can be known by one name and one name only:


So, who can tell I've been working on taxes all day?

w.o.k. wednesday: the rink

Okay, first I feel the need to type a bit of a mea culpa for being such a terribly bad, awful, neglectful blogger and not posting anything since FebruaryFlippin'24th. Let's just say time in general has been escaping me lately and leave it at that (M53, stop that snickering).

So, I'm hoping to create today's post in two parts, because I haven't yet taken the pictures I want to post here. Here are some hints, though. The lighting will be funky, and there will be ice involved. It will be a good lesson in indoor lighting with the D80, so hopefully I'll get some decent shots.

My daughter will be finishing up her first session of ice skating lessons this evening, and I've promised her McDonald's afterward as a special treat. The thought makes me visibly shudder, prissy food purist that I've become. But she's been working really hard at conquering her solo skating fears, and she really wants the Littlest Pet Shop Gray Squirrel that McD's is apparently giving away with the Happy Meal. So, it's a done deal.

Son will be thrilled, too. Not enough kids signed up for his skating level, so he has basically spent every Wednesday evening for the past several weeks doing free-skate. He's a mini Evil Knievel out there: Couldn't care less about splattering on the ice like a starfish dropped from the Empire State Building - just scrambles back up and off he goes. Ah, for those rubbery bones of youth.

So, check back later to see what Nikon and I were able to come up with.