Sunday, November 30, 2008

The layered New York sky

This morning, I caught a glimpse of the sky across from my grandparent's house and noticed how it seemed like layers of colored stone. I'm not sure if the picture caught the colors that I was actually seeing, but it was definitely worth a chance.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What the world lost

What the world lost tonight was a friend. Someone who could always make me smile, someone whose laughter was contagious, someone whose hugs were filled to the brim with love. What the world lost was the kind of person who would do just about anything for you. The kind of person that cares about the your smallest hurts and your tinest victories. The kind of person who delights in simple things, like a beautiful summer day or flowers blooming just outside your door. What the world lost was a person who knew how to have fun, a person who knew what family means and brought so many people into her own family with love and joy and patience. What the world lost was a person who knew what strength was, who showed us everyday what it means to be courageous, faithful, and true.

Maybe only a few of us knew her, but you don't get a chance to know too many people like that. And if we carry on that strength, faith, and love that she showed in her life, the world will be a better place.
Judy, I'm going to miss you terribly, but your great faith in our Lord Jesus Christ has truly changed me and I'm going to keep on living knowing that we'll meet again. That now, you don't have to be in pain anymore. And that someday, we'll be together in the presence of our creator...and we will praise Him for all He has given us. Be at peace, my good friend.

How do you take a picture of a feeling?

The world is full of artists, poets, musicians, people who paint the world through their imaginations, perceptions and feelings. But how do you take a picture of a feeling? How do you use photography to describe all that is going on inisde you? I don't know that I can answer that question just yet. Although today, I will try anyway.

I'm losing a very good friend of mine to cancer. Someone who has been stronger physically and spiritually than anyone I have known. Today, I feel like a light is leaving the world and so those of us left behind may be just a little bit in darkness. Even though we know that this light will not be leaving us forever, its leaving will make us feel dimmer, like a shade is resting on our shoulders. We know the sun will shine again. It just might take a little while before we feel that warmth on our faces once more.
In my apartment, I have a little sun room with windows all around. Outside the windows is a large tree that takes up one side of the view. My picture to today is at dusk and I'm zooming in and out while using a f20 aperature setting. This is a picture of what I'm feeling: it's dark, there are shadows and mist, but there is also light trying to filter through. That is the best I can do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey coma r us

What a massive turkey coma I am having :) But it is also nice to spend a day in joyful sluggishness. I never get a chance to get engrossed in a book these days, so my picture today is of two I am reading. Saga I finished yesterday after only 2 days of reading. It is a science fiction novel about a game that humans clip into...only to find that the game is not really a game but another world. Very interesting and I had already read the first book, Epic. Not a bad read. The second one is Inkheart and I am reading it because the movie is coming out in January and I might take my 7th graders to go see it. It is a fantasy novel about a man and his daughter. The man has the power to read characters out of a book. They actually come to life more or less. I'm not awfully impressed with this one; the idea is a good one, but the writing is sort of all over the place in my opinion. It isn't believable in the sense that the plot is weak. Either way, reading and relaxing is so nice right now. Maybe, just maybe...I'll get to work on my own book later today or tomorrow :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A beautiful sight to wake up to

(Picture is best viewed if you click on it to enlarge!)

Despite today having started on the wrong foot for me, I have contiuously gone back to a sight from earlier this morning. At the house my boyfriend has bought to fix up, I was on a mission to clean up a flood disaster and I happened to glance at the snow covered hills of the backyard and see two large horses grazing on the hill. The snow was lightly falling all around me and it was such a calm and beautiful sight, that it has carried me through some difficult moments today.
I think it is the moments of peace and tranquility that I can best remember and be thankful for what I have in life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Night time photo...ugh!

I am not so good with this nighttime photo thing. Just can't get the swing of it all! This is main street Johnstown. The lighter parts of the picture are the lighted snowflakes. Oh well, I'll try again tomorrow:)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why don't we have fur on our hands?

With the cold weather lately, I finally had to break down and get some gloves. This has to be the best invention ever...gloves that have free fingers when you want them, and snuggly mittens when you want them. Truly, this is a sacred invention for busy women everywhere. So I've got little time with parent conferences in about 45 minutes...but I'm stealing Steve's hand idea anway. What are these hands holding? Is it potential of creativity? Is it the mystery of existence? Or is it the expectation and joy of warm fingers? You decide! :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Barn Fire

Okay...there wasn't really a fire! But this morning, on my way to the early church service, the combination of thick snow clouds and sun was too tempting to pass by. Then, after I had left, the snow started falling and it was so fluffy and pretty. I love pretty snow:) It's been a restful day for the most part and I'm looking forward to the fast approaching holiday time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A beautiful retreat house

Today, I went with other consistory members of my church to a day long retreat at a facility in Schoharie. It was a beautifully renovated house with comfortable sofas, plush chairs, a kitchen and dining room and everything else you could want. The house was a very relaxing atmosphere to get work done in. What captured me most was the pattern of this chair and how the morning sunlight seemed to be drawn to that little corner of a small library.

I also liked the window seats so I did a self portrait of me reading my bible. It is still morning and the sun is trying to filter in through the shades.

Probably the best picture though was even earlier this morning when I met my mom before driving up there. She lovingly heated up a corn bag for both of us and we posed together with our freezing cold bluish purple toes!

Please help if you can!

I just spoke with a contact in Africa...the village I went to needs help. If you think times are tough here, you can only imagine what it is like there! Please go to this link and help if you are able. I'm trying to raise $1100 in 26 days through this website!

If I don't raise all the money, then your donation will be erased.

Thank you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Old friends, new memories

Sometimes in life you meet a person and you experience something together and then you wonder...will I ever see that person again? Did God bring them into your life for only a short period of time? I've been home from Africa for nearly 4 months now and it still seems like just yesterday, I was sleeping in a tent in the bush under a brillant star speckled Zambian sky. Today, I got to see an new "old" friend from Africa and make some new memories. Simeon is from Vancouver and went on the trip to Africa as part of the Launch Out Ministries trip. While in Africa, there were a few people I felt spiritually close to, people who had similar feelings about things that I did, people who were just on the same level as I was. Simeon was one of them and he and his friend were driving through New York State today. So we had dinner and got to relive our Africa adventures, talked about current things in our lives and just had a great time. I guess you never know what surprises God has in store for you. Sometimes, I think he does bring people into our lives for a short time. Other times, those people become our friends, our sounding boards, our companions. Either way, it is amazing how many people we will come into contact with during our lives. People of all nations, classes, races, beliefs...I don't believe that happens by accident or coincidence. I believe we are given opportunities to connect with one another and sometimes, every once in a while, you think about those connections and how they have made a difference in your life.

Today, I hope you remember a connection you have with someone...or make a new connection! Today, I hope you are thankful for the people around you, for how they touch you and for how we are all connected as members of the human race!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jumping for joy

The Student Council members joyfully loaded up the truck this afternoon with over 3500 cans and boxes of food! I wanted to try a motion shot, so afterwards, I asked them to jump while I took the picture. There are definitely things I could have done better. I knew I wouldn't be able to post their faces as I don't have parental consent. So here are their legs and feet leaving the ground. If I was lower to the ground, I think it would have looked better, but they were so enthusiastic! What great models:)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mama's cooking

I went to see my grandmother (mama) in Amsterdam tonight and watched her cooking. I love the way she cooks and the things she cooks: rice and beans, pastelles, empanadillas...all the good Puerto Rican foods I love:) Here, she is simply cooking some pork and potatoes and making me a salad. You can never go to mama's without eating something. I also caught a glimpse of the evening sun peeking through her front door.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Agents of Change

My favorite quote ever has to be Ghandi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I was thrilled when student council decided to adopt this slogan for our new tshirt design. So today, I wasn't really thinking all that much when shooting these pictures from the annual food drive. But then, looking back, I saw this picture with the food and the slogan all at once:
I wonder if these kids realize the importance of what they are doing with their lives now. I wonder if they know that their efforts and help in gathering food and supplies for the less fortunate are helping to do just what the slogan says: change the world. I've always been a firm believer in change happening from within. We can't change our world unless we change ourselves. I've also been a firm believer in the fact that sometimes I might be the Bible a person sees in their day. I try to live my life that way, showing the love of God through what I am doing. But today, I was the one being shown love through a bunch of middle school kids working together to help others. They're not flashy or clever or even particularly good, but today, I feel like I've accomplished something with my photos. I'm showing the world that just a little bit of good goes a long way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Too tired to think!

Came home from school, washed some dishes,

folded laundry,

And looked for a picture to take: This is some old CDs that I am throwing away with a higher aperature. Too tired to think beyond that!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Personification galore!

Today the wind was running, jumping, skipping, thundering...a whole slew of personification, and I, being a poet, was loving every minute of it...ah, except for the minutes I spend in transit from the car to the house, the car to the store, the car to church, etc. Okay, anytime I was out in the wind, I wasn't a happy camper. It's chilly out! But I was trying to catch the wind doing some of its magical work out there. I couldn't get the camera to cooperate fully. I did however, get a nice shot of the leaves before the wind sent them flying. I was trying to catch them in mid-flight to no avail. Oh well, at least I got a shot. I'm still going! Not gonna throw that towel in until I've exhausted every possible shot!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Two Cents

Actually, there are Pence and Rand and other types of "cents" in here as well! I was cleaning things out this morning and I came across my passport holder. As I dumped out its contents, I came across this picture. Figured it was worth a shot. Not much else to say...I'm totally exhausted!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A day of differences...and beautiful clouds

The Mix It Up Day at school I thought was very successful. The video presentation went off without a hitch which was good and the kids didn't complain too much about having to sit with different kids than normal. Wouldn't it be great if we could train ourselves to see things through new eyes everyday? I tried on the way home from school. Most people would view clouds as a negative thing, especially big dark greyish ones. But I tried to see them in a different way today. So here is my attempt for the day. Instead of grey gloomy clouds, I see the light shining through, I see the promise of the new day, and I see new horizons.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Light in the Darkness or the Darkness in the Light?

Two things happened today that make my blog title for the day hard to decide on. Firstly, The Light in the Darkness: I was paid a compliment by a fellow teacher who told me he has never seen the kids enjoy poetry in 7th grade. But they are! To be honest, because of the nature of this particular class, I was starting to doubt my abilities. I've actually been questioning myself the last few weeks, wondering if I'm a good teacher, wondering if the people who stood up for me have been disappointed in my abilities after fighting so hard to get me here. That compliment was the Light, along with the fact that my struggling students are actually enjoying an art form most people consider to be dead!

Then, The Darkness in the Light: How the HECK did it get dark out so quickly?!? I'm leaving home in the dark and arriving back in the dark. UGH! I hate that part:)

Anyway, my photos today are representative of my focus...completely out of whack!

Sneak preview: The Tolerance video (turn your speakers on) I'm playing tomorrow for the middle school, made by Tech YES kids and myself. Forgive the rap music, but the message in this song is perfect for the kids:)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beauty within destruction

I did a lot waiting today. Waiting to catch the weather this morning, waiting to get the projector working for my lesson, waiting for my mom to get home to give me allergy shots. I had 4 separate meetings today from 2:45pm to right now and in between there was brief snatches of waiting, thinking, wondering....

I found two shots of seeming destruction and beauty. It's amazing how things that are destroyed can be so alluring and catching to the eye and the soul. In both shots, there is a sense of hope: a little yellow flower in the left corner by the wagon (can you see it?) and the sun peeking through the clouds. I love the tree growing out of the ruins!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stuck inside

A break from school is always a nice thing. But today was a tough day and a really tough picture day. So, I went alittle artistic. Here is a a neat old sign with some filters to make it look more authentic. It's not much, but it's something.

Here you go Steve!

Steve recommended I post an Africa picture once in a while, so here is my first one (or two!)

This is the african sunset over the Zambezi river bording Zambia and Zimbabwe. Because I was leaving a few days before most of the other trip participants, Kayley and I travled to Livingstone all by ourselves and camped out for the last two days. We decided on my last night to take a dinner cruise on the Zambezi River where we saw wildlife and this fantastic sunset. Imagine...I still can't believe I was a world away, on famous river on a foreign continent!

The second picture is Victoria Falls. The point and shoot camera I had didn't do much for me here, but at least it's a shot. Through all the mist, we actually saw some Africans at the top of the falls bathing. Something you definitely wouldn't see in America!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Amazing Time Machine of Johnstown NY

Tonight, the group went to a little museum outside of Johnstown. Honestly? This place is like walking into a time machine. Each room is so delicately, beautifully set up with memorabilia beginning in the 1960's and retreating back into time. There is a barber shop, an ice cream shop, a motor garage, a book's like walking into Smallville! I couldn't believe how many precious artifacts this man and his wife had. I certainly can't do it justice with my pictures.
These were just a few of the ones that I liked best.
I'm glad you thought of this idea, Trish.
I really needed this tonight!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In search of inspiriation

As you already know, I love being outdoors and I dread the coming winter because it's hard to be outside during the cold and snowy season. So today I drove around until I came across something that I really loved. The camera didn't capture really what I was seeing, but I love the two types of water: the stillness of a pond on a hill and the excitement of the rushing creek far off in the distance.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Candles and wild animals

Had to wait until dark to take these pictures. I got to thinking about Steve's artistic images and the elephants (that was my favorite mural from his set) and I remembered a hand carved box I got from Africa with the big 5 on it. In case you didn't know, the big 5 are the Lion, Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Rhinocerus, and the Leopard. Because of its nature, I thought light shining through the animals would be pretty. I put a single small pillar candle inside the box and then watched the light dance! I truly do miss Africa. It has been 3 months but I still feel its hold on me :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Welcome to the Jungle

Well, another day has passed and another weekend is at the doorstep. The only time I have been remotely close to a jungle-like atmosphere was in Puerto Rico. I went there two years ago with my grandmother and visited the only rainforest on America soil. El Yunque is a beautiful, pristine forest in the mountains near Luquillo. The plants and trees are like wet, green giants slumbering against the mountainside and overlooking the white sands and turquoise shores of the island. A ranger explained to me how to get to some little known waterfalls in the heart of the forest and I set out alone (my grandmother was worried!) for an adventure. Walking through the enormous ferns, vibrant trees and plants, I felt as though I was in Jurassic Park. Everything misty, damp, and fragrant with the smell of tropical flowers and mossy earth. Suddenly, there I was, standing in front of not one, but three beautiful, untouched waterfalls. And to complete the intense peace and beauty I was feeling, it suddenly started to rain. This rain was so pure and warm, it is unlike anything I have ever felt. I felt as though heaven was washing over me. The water was so light and free from any pollutants, or at least that was the sense I had got. I stood there and let the brief shower cleanse me, listening to the plants answer the rain back. Today, I'm feeling sad, almost buried in my own "jungle" of STUFF. So I let myself drift back to that moment of peace and suddenly, I remembered that I had to water my spider plant. Here is a close-up of the spider plant after watering, a sort of reminder of that jungle experience in Puerto Rico...and a silent prayer that the other jungles would go away.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feet of Genius

Here is a picture from my writing workshop field trip today. These are the feet of lots of great kids from Fort Plain, Canajoharie, and Fonda while sitting around and talking about poetry and creative writing. I was so proud of my kids for sharing their stuff and being brave enough to put themselves out there like that. Now, I am totally exhausted and ready for a big dinner and a long nap!

More feet, anticipating the arrival of the bus.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I a"door" these pictures

So I ran into Trish today waiting for a CSE meeting and she, very coyly, tried to persuade me to reveal what my post would be today:) However, her superhuman powers were useless against my iron will to win the coveted photo trophy. I used my reverse osmosis mind power to get her to give me an idea instead!
Well, Trish, I didn't really like th mailbox picture, but I did see, probably for the first time, how cool the door handles are at my apartment. Here is what I came up with. I chose the black and white to give the pictures more of an older feel and to hopefully make the craftsmanship stand out. I also used an "old canvas" filter on two of the photos. What do you think?

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