Friday, September 30, 2011

Location Location Location

At some point, people WALKED here and decided that this was the place to settle down.

Sacred Datura (Jimpson Weed)

Montezuma Castle

The workers/rangers in this shot were gathering wood samples to determine the type of wood used in construction. When asked if they had a goodbtime up there, they said always.

Road Trip: Day 5 The Last Big Push

Today was the last long day of driving, New Mexico to Arizona. Our route continued along Route 40, which is the historic Route 66.

Route 66 is a huge tourist attraction in and of itself. I'm not sure if the road was famous before the TV show or because of it. But I love the idea of a pair of buddies traveling the open road and helping people in trouble.

It made my day to help Tommie and Keith, an older couple who were dealling with a little car trouble.

Our trip is a bit of a blur. We passed several trucks carrying enormous wings--I think they are for gliders. We passed signs for discount meteorites and petrified trees.

We stopped at one scenic overlook, where I tested my tablet's ability to take panoramic shots.

Finally we reached our goal--reuniting Ana and Steve-the-Dog with Ana's fiance. (I'll call him Luke.) What better reason to drive 3,000 miles than love?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Road Trip: Day 4 OK TX NM

Today was a good day. Reports from home were encouraging. I'd had a good night's sleep and breakfast at the hotel was very tasty.

We left very early--around 7AM. Our route took us into and through Oklahoma, across that square bit at the top of texas, and into New Mexico.

We stopped for BBQ along the way. It was awesome. Round-Up seems to be frequented by the locals--usually a good indicator of where to eat. The ribs were cooked with a dry rub that was delicious and spicey. The BBQ sauce was served on the side. Great BBQ can be a religious experience. This was damn close.

I enjoyed the changes in landscape today as we followed part of what was old Route 66. Oklahoma wasn't as flat as I had expected--there were some rolling hills that made for a lovely drive. Texas, on the other hand, was flat but I was impressed with their wind farms.

New Mexico gave us an amazing sunset with just a sliver of moon above.

I am still without my laptop so more pics will be posted later. But here are a few to get you going. I need some sleep.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Road Trip: Start of Day 4

Trying to haul myself out of bed to get an early start.
The sun is coming up. I can tell, even with the curtains closed because, outside, birds have begun to sing one-by-one.
I forgot they did that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Road Trip: Day 3 It's All Handled

When I packed for this trip, I tried to account for a variety of possible circumstances, incidences, and emergencies we might meet on the road. I gifted Ana a fire extinguisher for her car. I packed the first aid kit from my car and clothes for a variety of climates and temperature swings.

I was not prepared for an emergency at home.

Wookie called last night to report a huge water issue at home. The flooding had done a lot of damage.

It was one of those times when you know who your friends are and we have many. My brother in law came right away and helped Wookie deal with clean up. Good friends Mark and Rich said they'd be over today.

Paul's computer was damaged. Mine was already down. Today two of my celebrant friends offered me loaner computers.

There were hours where I debated going home. Ana figured out several flights I could take from a variety of stops.

Wookie said I should stay. He's got it handled. When I checked in this evening he and Rich were laughing and having dinner. Lots left to do but he's got it handled. (Yes, I am repeating myself. )

Travel details for today: Tennessee. Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock.

It's a blur.

Tomorrow, we continue west.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Road Trip Day 2

No pics today. My mac won't start. I freaked out about that for a while before we got going.

Today, we went from West Virginia to North Carolina. Saw Charlotte, West Virginia, blue mountains, a rainbow, and Tamarak Tourist Center-- where local artisans sell their crafts. All amazing. Saw some great pottery. I'm feeling inspired.

Tomorrow is the most ambitious travel day. We're headed west. Will try to remember to take some pics with the tablet to show you.

In the mean time, these post cards might give you an idea.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Road Trip Day 1

I hate leaving.

Once I am on the road, I’m okay. I’m in the moment. I’m “on vacation”—whether the trip is a vacation or not.  But the days leading up to the trip are a blur of packing and unpacking, sorting, skimming, and trying to make sure I have everything I need (or might need) without bringing “too much.”

What I brought--not including
the 24 inch duffel with my clothes. 
I had gotten used to people asking “do you really need that” till Wookie and I found each other. He’s always been accepting of my packratish tendencies.  Now I can add Ana* to the list of those who appreciate my packing genius.

Wookie taking me
to the rendezvous  point
This is the first time we’ve traveled together and one of my biggest worries was that she would feel I was bringing too much. Instead my stuff was greeted with “we’ll make it fit.”

And so we did.

Ana, Steve* the dog and I set off a bit later than we planned but we hit the road today and its been a good day.

Wookie worked an event in New York today, so that’s where I met Ana. 

From there we drove back in New Jersey, through PA, Maryland, and finally came to rest here in West Virginia.
The first leg of our route was mainly I-78.

We covered a bit over 500 miles. Saw some lovely countryside, the usual assortment of farm animals—mostly cows, and a few deer.

Saw many farms like these. I love red barns.

I don’t have many pictures from today because one shouldn’t take pictures while driving. There should be plenty of pictures tomorrow though—at least that’s my plan.

Mandatory self portrait. 

*Names changed to protect the identity of "Steve" the dog and his person--mainly Steve-- because my cats are jealous of this trip and, should his identity be revealed, Rosie might start mailing him fur balls. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

80s Pupil

So, today I was packing for my road trip. Have I mentioned how much packing for a trip stresses me out? It’s easier to move entirely. That way I have everything I need with me. So of course, on the day when I am supposed to finish packing and prep for a wedding, there is unscheduled drama.

Some Background

The eye in question.
(Taken a few weeks ago.)
I’ve been having issues with my right eye. It started with a tiny tare of the cornea, which was treated and healed quick enough. After that, it was a plugged up tear duct. (Did you know that’s actually where tears drain to and not where they come from? I didn’t.)

So that’s been getting better. Only a little irritation now and again, which is why I put a few drops of Visine in my eye this morning. I thought maybe I had a cat hair or something in my eye and I wanted to flush it out.

The Drama

So I’ve been staring at my eye every time I pass a mirror for 2 months through all these little problems. I had looked several times this morning with nothing much to notice till around 1:30.

My right pupil was dilated and the left was…not. I said to Paul, “I have a problem!”

I’m trained in first aid. I’ve had a few weeks of EMT training—I didn’t finish but I know enough to be worried when I see something like this.

I called the Eye Doctor to see if I should go to them or the ER. They said I could come in. Wookie ran a quick neurological exam before we got into the car.

My EMT Wookie is my hero. He was amazingly calm gathering up my eye drops and getting the car—all the while deciding which hospital I should go to if needed, who has a fully staffed MRI, etc.

It's good to have your own EMT on hand.
Here he is at his graduation.
On the way, I emailed my Saturday wedding ceremony to two of my colleagues with a note that I might have an “emergency” and they would be contacted if needed.  I was worried.

At the eye doctor, Wookie sat next to me and distracted me while I waited. He made me laugh and let me whine a little about how this was not what I wanted just before my trip.

They called me in. The tech asked about eye drops and said that sometimes eye drops have weird effects.  She did an exam and then left to get the doctor.

Wookie and I waited. Maybe feeling a little better, but not saying what we were worried about.

Finally the doctor came in and looked me over again. He said there were three possibilities. Wookie may remember the first two. (It’s good to have someone with you at the doctor’s office—someone to remember the things your own emotions block out.)

He said it wasn’t the first thing—I remember him saying ganglia, and nerves and palsy. (I love the word ganglia! It sounds fun, stringy and not at all scary.)

He said it wasn’t the second thing, an aneurism—The word my mind had been searching for when I saw my eye…the word Wookie had been biting his tongue on while he made contingency plans, plotted routes to the hospital in his mind and probably rehearsed what he’d says when he brought me in.

The doctor said it was most likely 80s Pupil.

That’s what I heard, at least. He explained the test for it—diluted drops of some stuff that would not affect my pupil if the dilation were caused by options one or two.

He put the drops in my eye and asked if I had any questions before he stepped out. I asked him to spell 80s so I could Google it. He said Adies. Here is what I found out.

When the doctor came back, he said I shouldn’t go nuts with Google. Wookie and I both laughed and said it was too late. (I have to wonder if it’s a physician’s nightmare, knowing that your patients can look up the medical terms they spout out in the time it takes them to stick their head out of the door and order up a test.)

So here I am, with a weird neurological thing that may occasionally make me look like I have a head injury—but is really nothing to worry about. Just what I needed. Though I am grateful that it was not any of the scarier alternatives.

©Cristina Kollet 2011
Wookie and I joked around, but I know both of us were worried. This is all just one more reason I need a break.

Excuses, Excuses

So I’m finally packed. I had a bunch of other errands to run today, which I will squeeze in tomorrow.

I was supposed to send an email out today and Wookie reminded me about it. I said it had totally slipped my mind and this was his response.

“Oh, the whole I may have had an aneurism excuse. Biggles used that last week.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Road Trip!

When I was a kid we went camping every year.

My parents, my little sister, and our two small dogs would pile into a car with every available inch of space inside and on top packed full and tied down with camping gear. We would be out of touch while we were away. No way to reach us but to call the ranger station. Payphones our only means of calling while we were away. Nothing to guide us but paper maps with a carefully highlighted route.

I am amazed by how much has changed within my lifetime. I am not sure what I would do if I suddenly found myself back then. When I leave the house for coffee, I carry an arsenal of technology that, in the 70s, NASA would have envied. Between my phone and my tablet I am reachable and traceable by any number of methods. I have maps at my fingertips that show me sattelite views and traffic. Between these two devices I have two GPS units with multiple navigation apps--and that is not counting the actual dedicated GPS for my car.

Camping memories from the 70s. I'm the tall one.
Between my phone and a couple of little red Nikons, I usually have enough digital cameras on me to document every event in my life several times over in stills and video. And thanks to the wonders of digital media, I can take hundreds of pictures a day. A far cry from the little 110mm camera we had when I was a kid with it’s little film cartridges. We had to wait till we got home and then wait some more for those pictures to be developed.  I have the option of sharing my pictures almost instantaneously.

I am going on a road trip. 

My friend needs to get her car and her dog across country. I'm going to help her get there and get a much needed break along the way. When I was growing up, a trip like this would have meant being totally unreachable. Today, my husband, AAA, and 911 are all as close as the phone in my purse. Thanks to Skype, I'll even be able to see Paul and meet with prospective clients. 

In some ways, driving thousands of miles will be no different than going down the block.
My phone/GPS/Camera/Video Camera/Concierge/Tri-Corder...
in a picture I took and edited 5 minutes ago.
The flip side of the convenience though is knowing that my daily barage of social media and email will also follow me. I will pick and choose what gets to interrupt my trip. But the truth is that I have become acustomed to being there and responding, often immediately. I have to wonder if pretending to be unreachable will be more stressful than actually being so. I guess we’ll see.

We’re going from New York to Phoenix. Our route is not strictly planned, though we have a date by which we need to arrive so I can fly back. It’s going to be an adventure and, dear readers, I may just take you all along for the ride.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In Short, My Husband Rocks!

Originally this was a much longer post, but I think that was way more detail than anyone would be interested in so I will get to the important parts. 

Saturday was my first “double”—two ceremonies in one day, in two different locations, the first involving my PA system. It was going to be a lot of running around and coordinating.

Despite having a migraine the night before and waking up with a headache, Wookie was there. He was great, as usual at the first ceremony—setting up the PA, coordinating with the DJ use of the limited number of electrical outlets at the outdoor location, and snapping pictures, then packing up the PA while I hunted down the necessary parties to get the paperwork signed.

It was a very busy morning and his work should have been done when we arrived at the second ceremony. I wasn’t supplying the PA for that one. He should have been able to hang out, till I was done with nothing to do but snap a few pictures of the ceremony. Instead, when there was a problem with the DJ’s PA and no mic for me, it was Wookie to the rescue. In about 15 minutes he had the PA up and tested and mics for me and the two singers.

When my mic failed, I only had to speak a few lines without it. I just stuck my hand behind me and he was there, sneaking in with a new mic. It was all but seamless. AND he got pictures of the ceremony.

Finally, because the ceremony started very late, he packed up the PA in the dark while I, again, tended to the legalities—marriage license, etc.

There was a lot going on with that second wedding. People were late due to traffic, we were losing the light, tension was high. But thanks to Wookie, the couple was able to have a ceremony their guests could hear. I didn’t have to worry about anything, the moment I said there was a problem, he jumped in to fix it—leaving me to deal with other issues like discussing backup plans and making sure everyone was ready for their part in the ceremony.

He really saved the day, not just for me, but more importantly for my clients and their guests. I could not ask for a better partner. I’m the Celebrant, but Inclusive Ceremonies wouldn’t be what it is without my Wookie. 

The Aqua Wookie in his native environment. His amphibious nature makes the Aqua Wookie a superb SCUBA Instructor as well as sound engineer, roadie, assistant, sherpa, and photographer for weddings and other ceremonies.
I would not be doing the work I love if not for him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not Quite Ready for Socks

I woke up this morning to find that autumn had arrived. This is my favorite season, but I prefer the gradual transition of seasons I remember from my youth where one started to notice little changes, a slight tinge to the leaves, flowers blooming less frequently, a little nip in the morning air that was forgotten by the time the sun reached it’s apex.

Instead, I feel like autumn is a house guest who, while eagerly anticipated, managed to catch an earlier flight, arrived a day early, and was found sleeping on my couch in the morning because the guest room wasn’t ready yet.

Yesterday I wore a tank top and a skirt of light cotton—my barely-there uniform of summer. Today I was scrambling for my sweats and long sleeved shirt. Just moments ago, I went downstairs to find my hoodie. This is too much change to take in all at once.

My hold out is footware. I spend most of the summer wearing as little on my feet as possible. I live in my sandals and my most recent purchase, a bright orange pair of Croc-like clogs. I bought them at the beach for four dollars a couple of weeks ago. I love them in all their garish beauty.

I’ve decided that, since they are a fall color, they will be acceptable to transition to the next season. They will alternate with my sneakers (my official footware for any season not summer).  And for the time being, I will hold out on wearing socks for as long as I can.

After all, who knows, maybe later it will warm up again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I don't Waste My Ideas...

I overheard this in the supermarket today.

Little boy to his dad: Remember, I don't waste my ideas. You should listen to me Dad, because if you don't, you'll be wrong.

I have no idea what he meant, but I just love the very idea of not wasting one's ideas.

The boy was, maybe, 5 or 6. He spoke with such confidence, as if whatever idea he had shared with his father was some sacred wisdom that he wouldn't share with just anyone. Or maybe it was that he wouldn't waste his time thinking up ideas that weren't important.

Either way, maybe we should all ask ourselves if we let our own ideas go to waste.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zen and Tacos

I am a multitasker by nature. The advent of smart phones and tablets have only exacerbated that habit.

Add to those gadgets the waterproof cases I found at the SCUBA supply store and I have found myself free to watch YouTube videos and TED Talks in the shower and to blog from the dinner table without fear of ruining my phone by spilling soda on it.

Whether or not this is actually a good thing is still up for debate. But there is an exception to meal-time multitasking. Tacos.

Eating tacos requires a certain amount of mindfulness. It is difficult to assemble a taco one-handed while typing with the other. Even more difficult is eating one without wearing some part of it if you are not paying attention. (Especially if you are like me and all of your shirts are all super attractive when it comes to stray food particles.)

So, if you're feeling a little over-taxed and looking for a break from multitasking, then I think tacos are the way to go for dinner. Then again, even as I wrote this, I found myself thinking that using a meal as an opportunity to take a break is, in a way, multitasking.

Oh well.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Counts as Fruit

Oops! Posted this to my Celebrant blog and it was up a couple of hours before I realized. Blogging and sangria don't mix.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

52 Weeks of Photos, Week 3 Perspective: High Angle

I didn't have much time to shoot this week. The challenge for Week 3 was Perspective: High Angle.

It took a few tries to get this shot. It's not easy to shoot left handed, holding the camera over my head while trying not to screw up the piece I've just trimmed; but I'm very happy with it.

©Cristina Kollet 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

52 Weeks of Photos, Week 2 Lighting: Reflective/Reflections

Last year I participated in a photo challenge--52 Weeks of Photos onAltDotLife. At the beginning of the 52 weeks, a list of topics (one for each week) was posted. Each week participants would submit their photos and then vote on their favorites. I even won a few times.

Well, it's starting up again--this time without the voting. Last time I didn't manage to participate every week. This time, it's my goal to submit a photo for every week.

I didn't take as many pictures for last week's entry as for week 1. I started with this picture, which was initially an attempt to take a picture of my eye to check how it was healing. (I'd scratched it and was taking drops four times a day.)

Before you get too impressed with my ability to take a picture of my own eye, it's cropped down from this--I have several shots where I didn't even get close to my eye. 

When I saw the reflection of the window, I thought I might use the picture for Week 2.
After Hurricane Irene took over the week, between preparing and dreading, and moving things to be in the "safest" areas of the house, my photos found a new focus.
I liked this one, with light reflecting off the stop sign and the remnants of Irene in the background.

The picture I ended up choosing was a surprise I found when I downloaded the pictures on my camera.

This was before Irene hit. We were running some last minute errands and generally checking out the area and how people were preparing. I stuck the camera out the window to catch Target's boarded up entrance. 
I love how the window seems to reflect the darker skies we were waiting for.

Week 3's topic is Perspective: High Angle. I think I got a good shot today, but you'll have to wait till next time to see it!