Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I LOVE this!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Lightning

This was taken last night near Spanish Fork on Arrowhead Trail. My friend Tim shot this one, and the next, aimed straight up above us, which is why you see water droplets on the lens, blurring out some of the bolts.

From Arrowhead Trail, looking at the lightning striking over Payson.
All of the following were taken Saturday night. It was an amazing storm.
I was parked out West of Payson, out Utah Ave., and just past the train tracks, aiming the camera toward Genola. Some people have mentioned that they dislike the pole in my shots. I kept it in some of the photos to give some composition and to show that this extreme weather is happening right in our backyard.

Lucky number seven?

I'm sort of fascinated by lightning photography because it is a little challenging, but also because it gives you the chance to really view a lightning strike, whereas, in real time, you have about a millisecond to see it as it happens.

If you see any of these you really like, feel free to let me know. Or, if you really don't like one for one reason or another, I welcome constructive criticism, as an aspiring photographer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Late Night Lightning Storm

I have this fascination with lightning storms and, a goal of mine is to capture some lightning, but in that oh-so-perfect shot. I have yet to nail it like i want to but, here are three pics I got at between 1:30 and 3:00AM. The first one isn't too great, but it shows you all of the many tens of branches of a lightning bolt. The light at the bottom left is just a street lamp. All of these were taken from the spit at Lincoln Beach, Utah Lake State Park, UT.
This one is a little better. It took me a while to get the camera all dialed in so it was performing about how I needed it to. At first, I had the f number too big and, apparently, the ISO too low. Maybe my camera just isn't good enough because, I've read people online shooting lightning at 100 ISO. But my sensor wasn't picking up much at 200. So, I had to bump that up to 800 for these. I have a lot to learn. There aren't many lightning-shooting experts, and I don't have any photographer friends who've shot much of it so, I'm probably on my own to get it figured out. Here's hoping for another great storm soon.
I couldn't seem to get away from the wind and the rain, in order to stay set up outside, on the ground. So, I was doing the best I could inside my car. My tripod definitely isn't the best and, it doesn't fit real well on the passenger seat where I had it. But, that was the way things went tonight. As you can see, the way I had it set up on the passenger seat, it was more than slightly off-kilter; the bottom of the frame in the 3rd pic is some distant land on the left and the surface of Utah Lake on the right. This shot could have been so much better, had I been able to set up on the ground with everything perfectly set for a nice landscape shot. Oh well; I think it's my best lightning shot to date. I won't quit trying to get that perfect shot, somewhere down the road.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Said I'd NEVER do one of these again...

The very handsome couple.

Decided to shoot my friend's small wedding ceremony yesterday, even though I had sworn never to do one again after my first go at it. But it was for a good friend and I made clear there was to be no pressure on me; I'm NOT the wedding photographer; just a guest who happened to have his camera. It was beautifully set on a bluff and overlooking a very pretty little valley. Some of you will certainly recognize the area. It was actually inside a cemetery, which seems bizarre on its face. But it's actually just a pioneer memorial and, while there are many small headstones, I don't think there are people actually buried there. Could be wrong. Anyway, it was a beautiful day, albeit hotter than blazes, and the small ceremony was perfect.

Congratulations, You Two!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Lord, beer me patience."

Speaking of beer, I haven't been down to the cemetery to drink O'Douls with my mom since the first time. I have been to her grave site a couple of more times, but just briefly. I had Jericho with me last time, which makes it tougher to really concentrate down there. But really, he makes it easier to be down there. I can kind of talk myself through things, by talking to him; telling him that this is now one of Grandma's houses and that she lives with Jesus. Am I convinced though?

I'm still having a difficult time really facing this. Maybe I'm afraid it's just too hard, or that it's going to hurt just too bad. So instead, I avoid it. I think about my mom, but very superficially, meaning, I picture her alive for a second at a time, and then I shut it all out, never wanting to come face to face with what is real. I frustrate myself, but I accept the fact that I may be just too weak right now.

I went to my first therapy session last Thursday, which was good. So many people want to be there for me right now, and I'm so lucky to have so many good, loving and caring people in my life. The thing is, I just never have much to say. The conversations usually go like this:
Friend: "So, how are you holding up?"
Me: "Um...I'm doing OK, how are you?"
Friend: "Good. So how's your family hanging in there?"
Me: "Um...Pretty good, I guess."
Friend: "I just want you to know I'm thinking of you and am here if you need anything. Do you need anything?"
Me: "Um...thanks. I can't think of anything at the moment."

Have you ever heard anyone say to you, "Life has lost its taste, its smell, its feel?" Well, a lot of days, that's how it is. It's just very....gray. And not the good, rich color of gray that's on our walls. But a cold, empty, meaningless gray. It kind of gets me down and keeps me down, usually for 12-24 hours. When it happens, I think I can be a bit of a jerk. I am sorry if any of you have caught me on these days, and I know some of you have. Please be patient with me. Know that I so appreciate you and your friendship and your trying to help. I just sometimes have nothing to say, literally. Like I actually cannot put into words anything, because I really don't feel anything.

It was good talking to my therapist; it helped me to be able to actually tell someone that I feel nothing; that I feel just numb and like I'm avoiding the new reality of my life. It was nice to be able to let out a few of my frustrations, as well. It's hard not to feel bitter sometimes; angry at God for allowing my mom to suffer for so many years; angry at friends or family who I thought should have been here to help after Mom died; angry at doctors who were never well enough connected to their patient to ever have a shot at making things better. It's just good to...feel.

I have a hard road ahead; this became clear as the therapist (we'll call him Bob) tried to lay out some things I should expect. He said that I am numb; that I've sort of wrapped myself up in a cocoon to protect myself. He said it's normal, but that I will probably become a complete mess in another month or so. (Yeah, he actually used the word 'mess.') He suggested I cut my school load back, because he's sure I'm not going to do as well as I need to in my classes. (Not sure what to do here; I need to get my classes done.) He said that I will never feel the same again; I'll never be quite the same again. And as for my relationships, he told me to expect one group of people to come closer and overwhelm me with their love and friendship. And the other group will pull away, being now uncomfortable with the new me and with the idea of death altogether. So, I guess I can't get too mad at people; it's natural; it's bound to happen, he says.

One thing he told me, which I really liked, is that, when I do begin to fall apart, and when I sort of strip off that protective cocoon, to just let the emotions that come wash over me; that I should let them just envelope me like a wave and just...feel everything. Now, the falling apart thing doesn't sound like fun, especially that I'll be a mess for around 2 years before I begin to sort of get passed the pain. However, I'm so frustrated with the way I'm acting now; the way I'm just sort of avoiding reality and building these stupid cocoons, the prospect of really dealing with the loss of my sweet mom, and really feeling that, and beginning to maybe try talking to her, and really start living my life with some meaning again, is exciting. Ugh. Everything I'm saying sounds so weird.

I need to be patient. This is my new reality; this is the path down which I must go. I hope I can get through these next two years with some kind of grace, coming out a better, wiser, more compassionate human being; and a better husband, father, brother and son, to BOTH of my parents.

Anyway, I'm aware that so many of you are thinking of, and praying for me and my family. I am so blessed. If I seem stand offish, or curt, or just out of words for you, on a given day, I apologize. I've just nothing to say right then. But know that I think of all of you often, and know that I am lucky.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You might think I'm crazy

A picture of my mom (left) and her sister. My aunt died about 2 years ago. Mom never got over that. I'm happy at the thought that they are likely hanging out again, smiling down on their loved ones.

Well, there's a lot on my mind lately. Some of which, I talk about, some of which I don't. With my mom's death, I am really trying to handle everything in a good way, though I already know I'm not in some ways. I should be talking about everything with the people I love; instead, I mostly would rather keep it inside, and pretend that everything is fine. At the same time, I want to deal with it openly; I just wonder if that will come as time goes on.

When I wrote my talk for Mom's funeral, I had so much on my mind; so much I wanted to say. I struggled though with what would be appropriate; I wondered what words would honor my mom the best. I tried not to make it about me; it was her day. And I hope, as we talked about our love for her, that she was there, somewhere, listening with a peaceful smile on her face. There was a lot that, ultimately, I decided not to include in my talk. And while I think I made the right choice to omit that which I did, I still think about those things, so I want to write them down, so I can have them for later. And maybe I want to share some of it; hoping someone's ears might relate.

Though we're not sure, we think it's possible that Mom said goodbye to the world on the night of the 11th, rather than the morning of the 12th. This doesn't really matter, does it? But what I'm about to share gives some perspective on why it matters to me. When I came home on the night of the 11th, as I walked toward the apartment, I heard a raven calling. I looked up, and there on the light post near my van, was a raven. It was calling, though I obviously don't know what it was trying to communicate. The reason this is odd is that I hadn't remembered seeing ravens around downtown, and I LOVE ravens, for various reasons, so it definitely caught my attention this night. After thinking, "Hmm...that's different," I continued on my way upstairs, forgetting about the black raven on the light.

The next morning, the 12th, as I headed out the door to my van for work, that same raven was still there, still calling. And I thought it bizarre, but also enjoyed seeing him. Well, after a couple of hours at work, I got the news of my mom's passing and left the job site to come home. The rest of it, most of you already know.

I know you're asking yourself, "Is he going to somehow tie all of this together so it makes any sense?" Yes, I am. If you know me, you know I love wild things, the animals, the mountains. You know I especially love Alaska and wolves. Well, in my studies of wolves for over a decade now, I've become fond of ravens. You see, ravens and wolves are part of what is termed a "symbiotic relationship," meaning they count on each other for survival, to put it simply. Ravens are scavengers and they follow the wolves, knowing they'll eventually get to pick the leftovers off of old elk, moose or bison carcasses. Biologists now believe the wolves are following the ravens as well. Ravens have been observed calling to the wolves and telling them where to find prey. So they work together. To some people, this is no big deal. To me, it's all the more fascinating.

Anyway, while living in Alaska, I learned about Northwestern Native folklore and symbolism. I loved the tribal paintings of ravens and I would often pick up books and browse the native lore about ravens. So here is where I'll tie it together. In much of that native legend and lore, Raven has several roles. One of the most important is that he is a creator. But one of the darker legends is that he is a messenger of death. Was it coincidence that the raven was in our parking lot? I don't know; maybe. But maybe not. That he was there, calling while I was walking by, and the only one around, on the night of the 11th and the morning of the 12th is strange at the very least. Personally, the symbolism isn't lost on me.

I decided not to include that in my talk. I figured the meaning would be lost on about everyone. I think Mom might have gotten it, if I had explained it to her. She wasn't superstitious; she was "a little sticious." But it really probably was best to keep the raven bit out of the funeral and just throw it somewhere into the great abyss of my blog. So there you go. Think I'm crazy? That's OK. I probably am.