Sunday, March 28, 2010

Camera Play

I recently upgraded to my first digital SLR camera--my dad's old Nikon D50 (he upgraded to a Nikon D90).  I have a whole bunch to learn, but thankfully, Dad has a whole bunch to teach me.  And a whole bunch of really cool lenses to play with.  I thought I would share a few pictures (yes, my definition of "a few" is vastly different than other people's) from around the house, garden, and arboretum with the different lenses I've been trying.  You can click on any of the pictures to see the larger version.

These pictures were taken with the kit lens, the Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens:

These pictures were taken with the super-cool Nikon 105 mm f/2.8 micro lens--on a very overcast afternoon, no tripod, and no working knowledge of what I was doing (Dad wasn't around and I was just playing):

And these pictures were taken with another great lens, the Nikon 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 with Vibration Reduction:

I think the 18-200 mm with VR lens will probably be my choice for all-purpose shooting, including most of my flower photography.  But I love, love, love the cool effects you can get with the 105 mm.  You can see more great photos Dad has been taking with the 105 mm lens over at his Flickr site.

Now aren't you glad I only shared a few pictures?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary

A year ago today, I decided—mostly on a whim—to become a blogger. Two weeks prior, my wise friend Rachel had suggested I start a blog. And I thought she was crazy. Me? A blogger? Oh, the idea had crossed my mind before, but only in the "wow, I wish I was the type of person who blogged" kind of way. Because I didn't think I was that type of person. I had a hard time keeping up with my real life—I couldn't imagine trying to write about my life at the same time, all the while making it interesting or at least mildly entertaining for my readers. And really, would anybody actually want to read about my life? I wasn't convinced.

But my friend's suggestion had planted a little seed in my mind. Over the ensuing days, I began working on an art project, and at some point during that process I suddenly had this overwhelming desire to share what I was doing. I didn't just want to share the finished product but also the journey it took to get there. And that's when I realized that I didn't have to write about my life, I could have an art blog instead!

I was excited. I started signing up for a blog that same day but was stumped on what name to use. Eventually I settled on "Growing Is Beautiful"—a phrase taken from the art project that had inspired me to become a blogger. It seemed perfect. After all, this was an art blog, wasn't it?

You are probably laughing by this point. I am, too, actually. Because I really and truly believed I was starting on art blog. I was going to post poems, photos, crochet projects, paintings, gardening adventures, and all that jazz. Because I was an artist. And this was my art blog.

And it's true—I am an artist. But this is not an art blog.

In fact, it never really was. Oh, I have certainly posted plenty of poems, photos, crochet projects, paintings, gardening adventures, and all that jazz. But even in my very first blog post, I did that thing I was so sure I couldn't do. I wrote about life. Not in the way that many people do, chronicling the events and day-to-day happenings of their lives. But I wrote about the experience of life, little snippets of insight found amidst the hard business of growing and learning.

Believe it or not, it took months for me to look back and realize what had been true from the first day: This was my life. This was my story. This was me.

I didn't think I had anything to say. I didn't think I could write in a way that would be meaningful to anyone. I didn't think it would change my life.

But I was wrong.

And I have never been so glad to be wrong.

Thank you for walking this road with me. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for "liking" my posts on Facebook. Thank you for sharing life. Because after all, this isn't an art blog—it's a life blog. And I'm thrilled you're here to share it with me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ask Me to Stay

I don't know what it means
When you stand aloof
Arms crossed over chest
Eyes watching me from afar

It's as if
You are waiting for me
To say
Something, anything
To awaken your compassion
Or compel you to act
But under the weight of your gaze
I can barely speak at all

Who are you?
You are not the one I love
Or is that loved—
Past tense
Something that was but no longer is

Why won't you speak to me?
I don't care if you yell
Or tell me everything I lack
I just need to know
If you are here
If you are going to stay
If you are—
hope against hope
—still the one I loved

I want you to be the one I love—
Present tense
Something lost and now found
Something that is and will be

If you ask me
I will stay
Please ask me to stay

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why Climb Mountains?

For the view, of course!

Last month, I spent a few days with my family at Mt. Rainier just enjoying the beautiful weather and playing in the snow.  We went cross-country skiing (most of us for the first time), inner-tubing, and a little bit of hiking/snowshoeing.  Believe it or not, I didn't pull out my camera until the last day.  I guess I was too busy falling down. But during our short hike on that final day, I couldn't resist these amazing views.

Here is the view from the parking lot at Paradise:

Here is the same view after hiking a little ways up the trail:
Worth the effort?  Um, yeah.

One of my climbing buddies (aka, my dad):

More view:

Straight trees, sloping ground:

Tree icicles--you didn't expect me to resist a macro photo opportunity, did you?

Dad admiring the view:

More view (notice the unknown snowshoer in the bottom right):

The summit of Mt. Rainier, with the wind whipping snow off the top:

My other climbing buddy (aka, my brother):

And one last look at the gorgeous view:

Well, now that I've finally posted these winter pictures, I think I'm ready for Spring to arrive in a few days.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Ruins

Every day this week, I've listened to the same song. It's a Bebo Norman song entitled "Ruins." There are many things I love about this song, but it is the words of the bridge that keep running through my head:
Let my ruins become the ground you build upon
Let my ruins become the start

Let my ruins become the ground you build it on
From what's left of my broken heart

Because in so many ways, my life is in ruins and my heart is decidedly broken. There have been countless losses over the past couple of years—many of which I wrote about in my New Year's post. And just as I emphasized in that post, there are many good things that have come from these losses. But they are still losses.

Lost relationships.
Lost intimacy.
Lost hopes.
Lost dreams for the future.
Lost familiarity.
Lost clarity.
Lost independence.

They are still losses.

And I am still grieving.

For reasons I don't understand and can't fully name, my grief has been more raw and more overwhelming in recent weeks. I am clinging to the hope that somehow, some way, someday this grieving will give way to healing. And as I long for the time when God will redeem every loss and rebuild it into something beautiful, this will be my prayer:

Oh, God, let my ruins become the ground you build upon.

(I've added the song to the top of my playlist in the right sidebar if you want to hear it.)