Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ArtPrize: I'll be there in 2015

For 21 days my "Tiny Cranes" miniature origami entry was displayed in the front window of the Grand Central Market and Deli on Monroe Center NW.

When I showed up the first two days to answer questions about my work ArtPrize visitors let me know that I should be demonstrating how I make cranes. And they wanted to see the size of the square of paper I start with to make such tiny cranes. "This is ArtPrize! We're spoiled!" one lady good naturedly informed me. LOL. I obliged. On day three is when the magic began.

When visitors would see the little dish of unfolded origami paper some of them would ask for a piece, disappear, then return offering me an origami they made.

What began with three origami on day three became. . .

A "Made by ArtPrize Visitors" collection of 43 origami 16 days later! It was the most amazing interaction I never anticipated when I registered for the competition back in April. A lot of people know how to make one thing, and as they handed it to me they'd say "This is the smallest ________ I've ever made" because I'd only brought small 1.5" squares of paper. Some visitors went home and made me things and brought them back later. Others pulled out paper of their own and one grabbed a napkin from the counter and made me a water lily. It was pure magic.

That's my collection. I'm planning to turn them into a mobile to save as my souvenir of my first ArtPrize experience. I'll photograph each one and blog about the mobile once it's done.

The art is a bit stretched due to my use of a wide angle lens.

I was not the only artist hosted at the Grand Central Market. There were 12 of us total. This picture gives you an idea of how people wander in to see the art. They used their cameras to photograph favorite pieces and vote using text messaging and smart phone apps.

But what about beyond the Grand Central Market?

There were two entries that caught my eye when I first looked at every entry on the ArtPrize website.

This was INCREDIBLE. Artist Russ Barragan carved this octopus from a piece of alabaster. For ten years. Seriously. I didn't get to meet him but a woman who had lunch near me did so she filled me in on how long it took him to finish this piece. I told a lot of people to walk over to the Fifth/Third Bank to see it even before I'd had a chance to go see it myself. One boy had on an octopus t-shirt so I figured he'd enjoy it.

There's something about beautifully carved stone that will always evoke Italy and the Renaissance. I didn't need to meet Russ to know he is a true artisan. Congratulations to him on accomplishing such a stunning creation.

The other entry that intrigued me was a painting by artist Eric Wieringa titled "The Leap." I loved it the moment I saw it. The thing is I was drawn to it before I read his Artist's Statement about what the piece symbolized. Once I read it it clicked that I liked it so much. Wonderful how one can connect with art on a visceral level. If this doesn't describe my life, and particularly this year, I don't know what does:

"This painting was intended to depict mans struggle to be free. "The Leap" is a visual metaphor about faith, meant to empower anyone who is pursuing a dream. For me personally, this painting represents my desire to experience a transformation, to escape darkness and live beyond the proverbial grey. This image expresses my belief, that in the midst of overwhelming fear, doubt and uncertainty, great things are possible for those who leap into light."

The only thing that would have made this painting speak even more clearly to me would have been if the person had been a woman with long black hair. LOL

There were other competitors I met along the way but guess what? They weren't competition. They were comrades.

Many came by the market and when they saw me sitting there they introduced themselves. I asked about their entries and when I finally took three days off to visit ArtPrize myself my list of things to see was the art of as many of the artists I'd met in person as I could.

Michael Duran was a standout. His entry was an incredible illustration of ant titled "The Walking Dead." While I can't say I'm really into zombies I was amazed by his attention to detail. Friendly, offering helpful suggestions of how to generate more interest in my entry, and often taking my postcards to put them out where more people would find them, he is a class act and I'm glad our paths had the opportunity to cross so that we could become friends.

Roy Lichtenstein's "Down The Rabbit Hole II" was a whimsical fountain just across the street from the Market. Roy is a man of many talents. Well, at least two that I'm aware of :)

He makes fountains and also made the menu origami elephant I featured on Instagram and made me a star out of two one dollar bills and another elephant out of cute, green, origami paper. I'll feature them both in the future visitor's origami mobile post I mentioned earlier.

I met Brian McNulty early on in the competition but didn't have time to make it to see his entry until almost the end. Until I met him I didn't even realize that songs could be entered in ArtPrize. The St. Cecilia Music Center hosted dozens of musicians who had to enter in the "Time Based" category. It seems like a separate music category would be beneficial as music is very different than other types of performance art. You can read about his entry "Country Alright" and find the link to it on iTunes on his ArtPrize profile page or CLICK HERE to hear a sample and purchase it on broadjam.com.

While not a crane this heron photograph titled "In the marsh" by Patricia VanPortfliet was a must see on my list. The day she dropped by the Market we chatted for a while and it was then that I decided I would go visit the art of every artist I met. It was one of the first pieces I went in search of when I finally took a few days off to tour the ArtPrize district. Hosted at Georgios Gourmet Pizza the pizzeria shots are to give you a flavor of the range of venues where one can view art from restaurants to museums.

I first met the sister of "45 Mickeys" artist Barbie Felsk while they were having lunch at the Market. While chatting with me about the cranes she mentioned her sister had an entry. After lunch she brought her sister over to meet me. She gave me her card and that's what led me to walk a mile to the Boardwalk Condominiums to see her piece that took a year to create comprised of 45 Mickey Mouse silhouettes all hand drawn and detailed.

On the way to the condominiums we passed by a church with an ArtPrize sandwich board on the sidewalk. So we popped in and were treated to multitude of pieces. That's how ArtPrize is. You can see more art on your way to see art.

Later that day we took a break at the Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge. The business had been yarn bombed both in and outside as well as up and downstairs.

One of the most incredible things we saw wasn't even a part of ArtPrize 2014. This mosaic was on the side of a building facing a parking lot. The face is mirrored. I loved it! When I got home I did a Google search to learn more about it and discovered it was created by Chicago muralist Tracy Van Duinen and his team and was the second place winner of ArtPrize 2011. That it is still there gracing Grand Rapids and enthralling the public is a testament to ArtPrize itself.

While I loved "The Pond" by the Kroeze Krew I couldn't help but want to see it outdoors with a blue sky, or bare naked autumn trees as backdrop behind the individual wooden raindrops. I found the surface of the pond itself mesmerizing. The detail, the "bounce" of the droplets, was so creative and unexpected.

They were one of a handful of other artists that created a "touch" zone. This one was signed for the vision impaired though I suspect curious fully sighted people enjoyed the tactile experience of running their fingers along the swirls of wood just as much.

Congratulations to "Intersections" the People's Choice Grand Prize Winner

Right out of the gate Intersections (top left in the picture above) was a crowd favorite. I did appreciate and experience artist Anila Quayyum Agha's entry and artist's statement:

"In the ‘Intersections’ project, the geometrical patterning in Islamic sacred spaces, associated with certitude is explored in a way that reveals it fluidity. The viewer is invited to confront the contradictory nature of all intersections, while simultaneously exploring boundaries. Continue..."

In all of life there is good and bad. Ugliness and beauty. Her work showed hundreds of thousands of people part of the beauty that represents Islam. Her presentation was flawless and I was happy to receive her message.

I have to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone at the Grand Central Market and Deli, to the artists and visitors who made me feel so incredibly appreciated and welcomed, to Fred for making me the Tori my cranes hung from, to Michelle for coming all the way from Australia to be part of my experience, and to my 7 new Michigan friends and neighbors who made the drive down to Grand Rapids to be able to vote for my Tiny Cranes and see them in person. My first ArtPrize experience was perfect because of all of you!

So next year. . .

Historically there are a select handful of larger venues where, if one's entry is worthy, it has much better odds of making it into the finals simply because of the large volume of visitors that visit them. While many have encouraged me to pursue being hosted at one of those venues next year I have to say after touring them in person I've decided to stick with where I'm happy in a smaller, more intimate, venue where I have the luxury of having one-on-one exchanges with the visitors who take the time to stop and chat.

I've already been invited back to the Grand Central Market & Deli next year and will be there perched in the front window with new sets of tiny cranes most likely depicting cultural icons and holidays of Japan. A lot of people accused me of having "too much fun" and/or "the most fun of any artist at ArtPrize." I'd have to agree with them on both counts. And I'm already ready for more. See you there in 2015!

Friday, November 21, 2014


The strangest thing happened to me earlier this year. Not once but twice I was involved in hit and run car accidents, two Fridays in a row. Because of that I've created the hashtag #HARF though I've never posted pictures of either incident on Instagram. It's kind of like #TBT (Throwback Thursday) only less fun, more scary, stressful, and bad.

The first time I was a witness. The second time I was a victim. The reason I'm sharing these stories with you is to implore people to get involved when you see an accident take place.


The first time I was just pulling into a shopping mall parking lot. In the mostly empty lane before me I immediately noticed two things: A car was coming towards me in the left lane to exit the lot out the main driveway that I'd just entered. And to the right a truck was about to back up. I expected him to go slowly but saw him start reversing at a high rate of speed. The woman never saw him coming he came out so fast. I leaned on my horn in an attempt to warn him to stop but it didn't even phase him. His rear bumper collided with her driver's side door with a sickening crash and crunching noise.

Instead of stopping he pulled forward, turned right, and made a mad dash to exit the lot. Which meant he drove right past the front end of my car as I was still entering the lot. The woman who was hit, she and I made eye contact. Her expression basically said "What the hell?" I hope my expression back was "I know!" and with that I drove forward, passed her car, and drove through the parking lot parallel to the street. I exited out a second driveway and the next thing I knew I was behind the truck that hit her at a red light.

I stopped far enough back to leave myself room to go around him in case he noticed me and stepped out of his car. While we waited for the light I got out my camera and got a crystal clear picture of his vehicle make, model, and license plate. The light turned green and he turned left so I followed as I called 911. "DO NOT FOLLOW HIM" the operator firmly told me. Twice. I was certain he didn't know I was following him but complied and returned to the scene of the accident as officers were already enroute.

I found the woman who'd been hit sitting in the parking lot. She was on the phone with someone describing to them what had just happened. She wasn't just trembling, her entire body was shaking uncontrollably from head to toe and she was crying and just looked so alone. I told her I got the driver, showed her the picture, sat beside her, and held her hand until the police arrived.

Long story short, the lady was injured, her car heavily damaged, and while the police located the vehicle a month later they still hadn't located the driver who was on the lam. When I found out I wished I had followed the truck that day. I'm certain the police would have been able to arrest him directly from the vehicle if I had. I'm not saying I'd have pursued a hit and run driver at high speed, or risked my own safety but I'm certain he didn't realize I'd seen the accident so if I had followed him until the police could intercept him, in this particular case, I wouldn't have been in danger and they would have caught the person responsible.

Weeks later I received a kind note from the lady thanking me for getting involved. I hope she has healed and the driver was located and arrested.


Exactly one week later, the next Friday, I was at an intersection in the left turn lane stopped at a red light. At that point I felt like my life was falling apart. I was basically on my own, kind of homeless (living from my trailer), Squash (the kitty cat) had died two months earlier and I'd just lost Kitai (my dog) a few days earlier when *CRUNCH* someone ran into me from behind as I waited for the light. I did not get out of the vehicle. It wouldn't have been safe to do so as it was a fairly busy intersection. While I continued to wait for the light to turn green I could see the driver in my rearview mirror. Good enough that I knew exactly what they looked like as far as their facial features, hair style and color, ethnicity, and approximate age.

When the light turned green I turned left and pulled over. The driver who hit me? Cruised by slowly, looked me in the eye, then sped up and took off. *ARGHHHHHH* I couldn't believe it. The worst part was there were cars behind them so I wasn't able to follow. As they sped away I called 911 and pulled out to follow them when I could.

I told the dispatcher my location and gave a description of the car. "What make was it?" She asked. One thing I don't know are car makes or models. If identifying car brand logos was a category in Jeopardy, I would not be a winner. I told her the color and that it had a logo emblem that looked like the Olympic rings, only silver. "An Audi?" She asked? "I don't know" I replied. But if you show me an Audi logo I can tell you then.

The operator said she could send an officer to me to take a report or I could go to the police station as I was in close proximity to it at the time. I told her I'd rather keep driving around looking for the car as it was heavily damaged on the front end with a crumpled hood so I'd know it if I saw it. She said "That won't be necessary, we think we know who it is." Huh? So, I went to the police station and waited for an officer to take my statement. That's when I realized my car wasn't damaged at all. Strange, I thought to myself considering the damage to their car.

Finally a dispatcher told me that they had apprehended the person who they believe hit me and would I be willing to go out to ID the car? Um, YES! So, I drove back to near the scene of the accident to find not one patrol car but a half dozen cars, in addition to multiple motorcycle units as well. "This is weird" I thought to myself as I pulled into the auto body repair lot. Yup, the driver had attempted to drop their car off to have the damage repaired before they got caught.

Here's what I learned: Before hitting me the same driver had caused a different hit and run injury accident earlier that morning and had fled the scene. The driver was on their way to the auto body repair shop (just down the street from their home) when they ran into me. As it turned out the police in the neighboring city were searching for this person and the local police (where I was hit) were too because the driver lived in their jurisdiction. A witness got the license plate at the first accident but I was told nobody saw the driver. My 911 call helped the local police to apprehend the driver as they then knew the direction and street the car was on.

The police didn't realize I'd seen the driver. I gave a physical description of their suspect during which some of them were clearly happy that I could. "Would you mind identifying the suspect for us?" they asked. But then they couldn't get the person out of the patrol car because they were too intoxicated. At 11:00 AM. When they couldn't get them out of the car they asked if I'd go over and take a look inside. I felt like saying I'd do it if I can yell at the person and give them a piece of my mind too. I was really furious. I'd been dealing with so much upheaval, loss, pain, and despair the last thing I needed was to be hit by a car driven by a drunk driver.

I successfully ID'd the person and left.

Later I realized it was a good thing I hadn't got out of my car in the intersection after the collision. Being drunk, if the driver had attempted to flee at that moment they very well may have run over me in the process.

Months later I sent an inquiry to the District Attorney's office asking what had happened with the case.

The driver took a plea bargain. Instead of facing all counts (I believe there should have been three. There were two counts related to the first accident, mine would have been the third.) they faced a lesser charge. The end result was 45 days in jail by pleading to 1 hit and run charge (instead of three), probation, mandatory alcohol and drug abuse classes, their license was automatically suspended, and they paid fines in the form of $2,000. I was glad they didn't get away with it completely but felt that their sentence should have been tougher. Jail time I don't think would have made as big of an impact as community service, like instead of 45 days in jail they should have received 6 months of community service on weekends. I also think they should have been charged a much higher fine. And they are being sued in civil court by one of the other victims they injured.

This was the person's first offense so all in all I guess justice was served.

But it took witnesses to make that happen.

So, if you ever have the chance to be a witness don't think about it, just do it. And if you're ever the victim do your best to keep your cool and look, really look, at everything about the vehicle and person in the few seconds you're able to. It could make a huge difference in prosecuting an offender.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter mosquitoes

There are two words you don't often see together.

The other day I posted on Facebook:

"It's freaking snowing here and guess who got a mosquito bite? One guess. Did you guess me? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Even as the polar vortex'ish weather is hitting the Midwest I shovel snow and continue to wage war with my summer nemesis. One friend found it hard to believe a mosquito had bitten me the night before. He thought it must have been a chigger. Then he admitted he doesn't even know what chiggers are. He just likes the word.

So when another mosquito was zzzzzzzzzz'ing around me last night I took this picture of it to prove there are still a handful of them still lingering and living (well he was recently living right before I took this picture) in Michigan. I used a magnifying glass for detail when I took this shot with my phone camera but then ran it through two instagram filters to make it less detailed because it looked kind of gross.

This kind of ruins my plan for living in the Midwest. While most people here plan tropical destination getaways in February my plan had become to only stay here during the winter. Following the first mosquito sighting in the spring/summer I've been saying I'm going to take off in The Glampette and not return until a neighbor calls in the fall to tell me the first frost hit and all of the mosquitos are dead. If they're still around in 20º temperatures I don't know if I'll ever be able to come back at all :P

Am hoping this is the last one for 2014.

And while I always feel bad killing them, it was a lose-lose for this bugger. I mean my only other option is to catch and release them outside, where it's currently 21º (F). So, he/she wasn't the luckiest of bugs. Not like the tobacco hornworms I rescued this summer. But that's a post for another day. I even have close-up, icky, pictures of the big, green caterpillars to go with it. I bet you can't wait to see them!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter is here

This morning I awoke to the first real snow of the season. I saw animal tracks around the house that I'm guessing belong to a raccoon as they made a beeline for the garbage can (that it can't get into) then continued on. Everything was covered in a new fallen blanket of white. I have to admit I felt a rush of delight that everyone is telling me will not last. They may be right but for today it was wonderful.

And from the living room window I spotted this chubby little squirrel in a tree. I grabbed my camera with the 140mm telephoto lens and got this shot before he scurried further up and away. I'll have to keep my 300mm lens handy in case I see him again.

Just yesterday before the snow began I saw a cardinal. I've always wanted to take a picture of a red cardinal in a tree covered with snow. Looks like I'll have my chance in the coming months.

Hoping to have many more photos of the wildlife that live all around me. At night I've heard the coyotes, once they were frighteningly close and it sounded like they caught something right outside my window :( But the cardinals and blue jays would be nice to photograph as well as the deer. I was told to wake up early, right at daybreak, and I might see them wandering through the yards and driveways.

I almost ran over a cottontail rabbit a few weeks ago. It darted out in front of my car at the last possible moment when I was driving home from ArtPrize one evening. I've found rabbits are hard to photograph in the wild unless you find one tucked away. Then they would rather sit motionless than make a break for it.

One last thing. I am not a lover of exercise. I do however love functional fitness. So I enjoyed shoveling the front porch and back deck and made a path around the yard and side of the house. Best workout I've had in ages. Again, we'll see if my enjoyment lasts.

The forecast is for more snow tonight and tomorrow. I'll keep taking pictures. I can't help myself :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

5 million blooming tulips in Michigan? I'll be there!

I've learned a lot of things about Michigan in the short time I've been here. Last year I learned about the "yoopers" and the "trolls." This year I learned about "Hollanders."

There are strong Dutch and Danish influences in Michigan. I did go to the Danish festival for a few hours this summer, but only recently learned more about the Hollanders. I'll admit I've always been a bit confused about why people from Holland are called Dutch. Then I found out they are also called Hollanders. And that while Holland is part of the Netherlands, people use the two names interchangeably. Um. OK. Yeah. That's not confusing at all. LOL

Here in Michigan there is a city named "Holland" and guess what I found there? Tulip bulbs, wooden shoes, and Delftware at Veldheer's.

The thing is, Veldheer's doesn't just sell delftware (Dutch Pottery) and wooden shoes. . .

They make them there! From scratch! Visiting their gift shop is shopping and a mini manufacturing tour combined as the work areas are behind large glass windows so you can see how everything is made.

The Delftware in particular left me a bit slack jawed as I comprehended that the pieces are molded onsite. Later I read online they make 400 different pieces of Delft.

So first they mold the pieces. . .

And then they paint them in a finishing room.

And then they're put out in the gift shop for people to purchase.

And if wearable wooden shoes and Delftware aren't your thing. . .

You can choose from an assortment of wooden shoe-like products. For instance the soft and fuzzy wooden shoes bedroom slippers or tiny wooden shoe key chains.

But this is what I came for. The Garden Center. That's where the tulip bulbs are! I've loved tulips since I was a kid since we had a few that would come up each spring. When I got older and discovered Parrot tulips and the frilly Peony tulips I was hooked. Sadly, in California they aren't perennials because it doesn't get cold enough in the wintertime.

Though that doesn't stop everyone from planting them as annuals. Remember Rich Santoro aka The Bulb Guy in San Jose? I blogged about him two years ago when he planted over 5,900 tulip bulbs in his backyard that he then opens to the public to enjoy each year.

At Veldheer's I wasn't disappointed. There were rows, and rows, and rows, full of bins of tulip and many other types of flowers bulbs. Eeeeeeeek! I was like a kid in a candy shop! So many to choose from. There were two main criteria I had to use while shopping: How much would they cost? And how many holes did I want to have to dig to plant them? At only $1 a bulb I decided to get about 8 varieties.

Turned out I didn't dig holes. I dug trenches. The bulbs need to be planted 6" deep and 6" apart. I also amended the soil with a compost/manure mixture, added some 12/12/12 fertilizer and black dirt, then mounded the dirt back up over the trenches.

Now I have to wait until spring to see if I did everything right. And hope the deer don't eat them. Apparently they love tulips. And maybe the voles too.

The first snow came a few days ago and dusted the ground. I was thinking of my tulip bulbs buried 6" down, all set, nice and cozy for the winter.

This is what Veldheer's looks like from the road. You can't miss it. If you love tulips you should come visit in mid to late April when the tulips and daffodils begin blooming or the first week of May to attend "Tulip Time" when visitors come by the millions to see the millions of tulips in bloom. I'm hoping to be there. I'd love to experience 5 million tulips in bloom. Parrot tulips, wisteria, peonies, and water lilies are my favorite flowers.

Along with tulips in the spring from June 1st to mid October Veldheer's has a 10 acre perinnial garden filled with thousands of Dutch lilies, daylilies, peonies and other rare perennials. I saw one windmill from the parking lot but there are others as well as a herd of American Bison. I read on the website you can catch a glimpse of the bison from the parking lot but if you pay an admission fee you can see them close up.

They even have space for RVs to park summer, fall, and winter. Sounds like I need to take The Glampette and head to Holland next year. BTW, I'll soon be posting about a recently discovered winery I'd like to visit just south of Holland. Maybe I can visit both at the same time during a mid-summer or early fall getaway.

To visit Veldheer's here's some helpful info. View more on their website linked below.

Veldheer's Garden Center & De Klomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory (website)
12755 Quincy St.
Holland, Michigan 49424 U. S. A.

616-399-1900 or 616-399-1803

Hours (EST)
9:OO AM to 5:00 PM - Mon/Fri
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM - Saturday
Closed - Sunday

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

World Origami Days Oct. 24th - Nov. 11th

You can learn all kinds of things from the internet. Until I joined and began actively using Instagram I had no idea there was such a thing as World Origami Days.Turns out there's a 2 1/2 week period each year from October 24th through November 11th that are internationally celebrated as World Origami Days.

From the Origami USA website:

"October 24 is the birthday of Lillian Oppenheimer (1898-1992), who founded the first origami group in America. She was also one of the founders of the British Origami Society and OrigamiUSA. A dynamic woman, she was delighted in the magic to be found in a piece of paper and wanted to share it with the world.

November 11 is Origami Day in Japan where the paper crane has become a symbol of peace."

To commemorate World Origami Days I decided to fold a koala bear. Partly because it's from another part of the world but mostly as a small gesture of appreciation to my friend Michelle who came all the way to Grand Rapids to see my Tiny Crane origami entry in ArtPrize this past fall.

Sitting in my MI garden with my Australian friend Michelle :)

The thing is Michelle lives in Australia. She did have business in NYC first (showing her art) but then she made a side trip over to MI making her my first official visitor since I arrived earlier this summer. So this little koala is in honor of her and all of the origami artists all around the world, past and present.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tungsten vs Fluorescent vs LED photography lights

My brain is feeling a bit wrecked today. I've spent days researching which lights are the right lights to use to create pictures of my origami cranes to use to create product lines of t-shirts, prints, greeting cards, etc.

While I love shooting with natural light, it's not always going to be the best/most convenient choice. Of the three types of studio lights I've been considering (tungsten, fluorescent, and LED) there are pros and cons with each choice. So many that I can't decide which is the right choice for my needs.

I swear, the more I research the more confused I'm becoming.

Also while a light tent/shed (aka table top white box) would be good for close up shots, my mobiles are approximately 30" in height so I won't be able to use a tabletop box for everything. So, I've also been looking at softboxes.

The types of images I want to create are similar to the ones I created for my ArtPrize collateral. Shooting on a clean white background. . .

As well as close ups with simple backgrounds like this:

And this. . .

If you have any opinions about the type of light or brands of lights, kits, or bulbs you'd recommend they'd be appreciated. You can leave them here in the comments, email me, contact me through my website, or on Facebook if we're friends there.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The colors are gone and winter is on its way

This is the road home. I get to drive beneath this canopy each time I return to the house. It's gorgeous with and without leaves. I think it'll be even prettier covered with snow.

In just two weeks the leaves on the trees went from green, to yellow, to gone.

But before they were all gone they did this. . .

And this. . .

And this.

Autumn in Michigan did not disappoint. The cool brisk air, the brilliant colors, that smell of the fallen leaves, I'd missed all of it the 27 years I lived in California.

As the season grows colder the clamoring of the naysayers grows louder that I won't make it through the winter here.

But, I always point out that I grew up with snow in Eastern Washington state right along the Idaho border and delivered newspaper foot routes for six years as a kid. I probably weighed about 70 lbs and wore a double sided canvas newspaper bag that was heavily laden with papers beginning when I was in the sixth grade. Slogging around in the snow six days a week after school (even in the wintertime) I don't think anything Michigan can serve up for winter will be worse than being a paper kid back in the day :)

Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wild about Wild

Yesterday I saw the movie trailer for Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" starring Reese Witherspoon. It opens December 5, 2014. I am so excited! I can't wait to see it. Or maybe I can.

The book stirred up a lot of feelings I could relate to. At some point in our lives we all reach crossroads. Do we continue on the road we know? Or do we take a road less traveled? Do we dare to lose our way? To take a chance? If we let go of the things we know what will will we find at the end of the journey? Happiness? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Ourselves? Or will we simply be all alone left with nothing?

You may recall I read and reviewed the book Wild here on the blog late last year after my friend Tracy gave it to me as a gift. Tracy now calls me "Wild Stacie." She saw parallels in Cheryl's experience and the journey I began last year. Where Cheryl chose to hike 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, alone, with no experience back packing, I chose to travel almost 15,000 miles across the country and back (twice) as well as other shorter trips with my tiny travel trailer, alone, with no experience road tripping, rv'ing, or camping.

Now my biggest question is will it open where I am on December 5th? Or will seeing the movie on opening day require a drive to the city (Grand Rapids) and if it does will I want to see it enough to drive there through snow? Because I'm certain there will be snow by then. The last time I drove in snow was 27 years ago. It's been a while. If I don't feel like tackling the road conditions I can always wait until the movie is released on DVD, order it online, and have it shipped directly to me. I guess my adventurous days may be on hiatus until spring.

A lot of people have asked me how I'll handle a winter in Michigan. Lately I've been thinking I may tackle it like this woman on the satire news website "The Onion". . . LOL

Friday, November 7, 2014

Safety I never had to think about before: Hunting Season

It's been cold here in Michigan. One morning I woke up and it was 27º (F) outside. Not that I felt it. I didn't go out until later in the day when it had warmed up. But I did buy this hat. Not to stay warm, but to stay safe.

Lately there's been a lot of big *BOOMS* outside. Turns out it's hunting season. Well, it kind of is all year round (for certain animals) but lately the booms have been a lot closer to the house.

Quite frankly I was shocked to see the plethora of wildlife that one can see (or hunt) in Michigan listed on the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) website. It's a rather huge list of game and fur animals that one can hunt or trap in season and with a valid license.

Not wanting to be mistaken for a:

Deer, Muskrat, Mink, Raccoon, Fox, Bobcat, Badger, Fisher/Marten, Beaver, Otter, Coyote, Bear, Cottontail Rabbit, Snowshoe Hare, Crow, Elk, Goose, Pheasant, Quail, Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Squirrel - Fox and Gray, Duck, Coots, Mergansers, Teal, Snipes, Rails, Moorhens, Wild Turkey, Woodcock, Opossum, Porcupine, Weasel, Red Squirrel, Skunk, Ground Squirrel, Woodchuck, Feral Swine, Feral Pigeon, Starling or House Sparrow

I figure I better wear my bright hat (and maybe get a matching vest) so that if I go out looking to shoot the same animals with my camera, or for a walk in the woods, I don't end up as a cautionary tale on the news.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Time Machine'tastrophe

You may have noticed lately there haven't been a whole lot of pictures on my blog. Well, this post is all about why. It's full of angst but it's not a pity party. It's so you never make the same mistake I made when it comes to backing up Time Machine on your Mac if you have a Mac.

Here's what's been going on in my world. If I told you every detail you'd tear out your hair and run screaming for the hills or want to hug me and say "Hang in there, you'll make it through this."

(BTW I'll add photos when I figure out how to use the new Adobe Photoshop I may or may not have successfully installed today.)

A few weeks ago I took my computer to an Apple Genius Bar to drop it off to be serviced. The screen display was separating from the casing of one of the bottom corners when the lid was closed. Not a huge deal but I hadn't closed the laptop in months because every time I did it made the problem worse. So, following ArtPrize I thought I'd finally take it in to be fixed. I was told to back up because my hard drive would be replaced in the process.

Now, let me say there are ways in which I'm geeky, but this was not one of them. I did what I was told to do. I went and bought an external hard drive. I plugged it in, I ran Time Machine, then I scheduled my drop off appointment.

When I got to the store I asked my Genius if there was any way to see if the hard drive had backed up properly? I wasn't sure it had so I brought it with me in case there was a way to see. His reply, with a shrug of his shoulders, was "Not really." I asked "So you just hope for the best?" To which he replied "Yes." I was told it would take 3-5 days and someone would contact me when my computer came back.

They did call within 5 days. "Great" I thought to myself. I went and picked up my computer and brought it home. That's when I realized I had no idea how to get the data from the hard drive back into the computer. A call to Apple and 30 minutes of being on hold was all it took to get going. Once the reinstallation ran I was stoked. Until I noticed all of the grey question marks in my dock. "Hmmmmmmmmmm, that's not good" I thought to myself.

Before realizing why the applications hadn't been backed up I tried to trouble shoot. I got on Google. I read forums. I ran migration assistant. I called Apple and was again on hold forever then on the phone so long we finally had to give up because I had an appointment I couldn't miss. The person there offered to schedule a call back for me, then discovered their system was down. I considered having my mom send the other back up I'd made of my computer in June and had left with her in case anything had happened to my computer while I was on the road on my way to Michigan.

And then, by chance, I discovered what went wrong.

Long story short, years ago when my hubby had set up Time Machine to run at the house he had deselected backing up my applications. I'm told that's normal, that people often do that to save back up time and storage space. But, I didn't know that. And it wasn't visible when I'd launched the Time Machine icon on my desktop. What I did realize later was that when I asked the Genius at the store if there was a way to tell if the computer had backed up properly he could have simply launched Time Machine, clicked on the "Options" button, and we would have seen right there and then that none of the applications had been backed up. I blame him. My friend Dana said it's as much my fault because it's my computer but I disagree. I told Dana I am not the expert. The Genius was the expert I was paying hundreds of dollars to to fix my computer. That I asked him point blank and he either didn't want to or didn't know to check the Time Machine Preference options was (imo) his responsibility as said expert.

So, after a lot of wasted time digging through boxes of my stuff I found most of my installation cd's. Some worked but others didn't on my current OS. Most critically I needed my Adobe suite of programs like Photoshop and Dreamweaver, which is why my posts the past few days have been lacking in photos. I decided to make the leap to the new-to-me option by Adobe, their Creative Cloud which is where you pay a monthly fee to license their programs. If nothing else it keeps you up to date and would give me the additional program "Lightroom" which I think I'm going to need moving forward when I create my product lines from the images of my origami artwork. So, I called Adobe and signed up. Happy ending? Noooooooooooooooooo. . . Silly me.

Turns out my OS was old. Too old to run Creative Cloud. I was four OS's behind still running Snow Leopard. So I had to install OS X Yosemite. It took days. It wasn't like I could just hit the download and install links, I had to waste a day on a failed attempt then learn the difference between memory and storage and figure out what I was short on then make room. I also had to figure out how to find my activity viewer. Each of theses tasks took at least an hour or many hours. I kept telling myself it was all for the best. Soon I would be current and I'd stay current and this would never happen again. So, my second attempt to install Yosemite worked.

It was time to install my Creative Cloud programs. This was well over a week after picking up my like-new computer from Apple. Had I known then what I know now I would have opened a bottle of wine and put a straw in it at this point.

I am now 48 hours into trying to get the programs I purchased onto my computer. After downloading and installing the Adobe desktop app, nothing worked. Surprise. Ugh. I got on Adobe chat this morning and was instructed to de-install everything that had been installed. This took another huge chunk of time. We then reinstalled the program at which point chat disconnected us and I was on my own again. I waited for the installation to complete and same thing. Nothing. This time I called in by phone. The technician said he would be able to get the programs on my computer in 10 minutes. I think it was closer to an hour and ultimately he had to take control of my computer using remote access to get things to work.

All told it took hours and roughly 30 steps between the chat and phone interactions to get things running. Currently two programs have made it onto my computer so far but they are taking a ridiculously long time to download.

I haven't even tried to launch them. I don't think I can handle the frustration if they don't work. I'll wait for tomorrow to do that. Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it. If the programs don't work someone is going to have to talk me out of putting my laptop under the tire of my car and running over it. That's how frustrated I've been the past couple of weeks. If I do run over my computer I'll take a picture of it but I won't be able to post it here because the very act will mean my Photoshop is still not up and running.

The moral of this story is if I never post another photo you'll know why :P Oh, and make sure your Time Machine is set to back up everything. Especially your apps or you'll be playing the same ugly, seemingly never-ending game of outdated technology dominos I've been forced to play for the past two weeks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Writing in the space between TMI and being too private

NaBloPoMo Day #5 Writing Prompt:

Do you feel you have found your voice on your blog? What techniques have you tried to develop your voice in your writing? What are some characteristics of your personality in your writing?

I think I've always written in my own voice on my blog. From day one I've written as if I'm talking to a friend. I imagine they're sitting right across from me and we're chatting and whatever I'd say to them is what I type on the keyboard. It's also why sometimes my punctuation may not be correct. I add commas and question marks when I would pause when speaking or when I'd raise my voice at the end of a word, not necessarily at the end of a sentence.

My personality. I am generally a calm, positive, empathetic person. I care about everything. People, animals, nature, the world. When I write I do my best to make the world a better place for everyone and everything. Well, everything but mosquitos and fleas, but everyone and everything else.

As my blog has matured my willingness to share more about myself has expanded beyond where it began in 2006. Back then I was very careful to not overshare, to be public while retaining as much privacy as possible. Over the years I've found myself willing to be more open simply because there are conversations that need to happen but don't because they're too painful, or people are uncomfortable talking about them, or we simply don't know how to talk about them. Now I go there, to the places beyond, or perhaps beneath the fun and flirty topics I first wrote about. There, to the places that are dark but need to be illuminated. Time and my own life experiences have made me more willing to be more open with my readers. In general I've realized life is too short to do less when I have the opportunity to do more. If my experiences can help others in any way to find happiness, courage, strength, inspiration, or even patience then I'm glad I have a platform that allowed them to find my stories.

Years ago a couple of people accused me of being too positive and sugar coating things in my writing. Maybe they were right though my motivation was always that there's so much negativity in the world I didn't want to add to it. The thing is, life is full of a variety of emotions and experiences ranging from happiness, joy, elation, courage, loneliness, sadness, pain, loss, and despair. My blog is now a more whole reflection of my life and that completeness has liberated me both in my writing as well as how I choose to live each day.