Sunday, 14 December 2014

Week Fifty-Three: A Year and a Day

Now, this was not meant to be an entire week of photographs, and as such it is not. What follows are the final (i.e. 365th) day of the Year of Thirty, plus the first day of Thirty-One (i.e. my birthday). Also there are a number of random thoughts and observations, purely out of my sickness-addled mind.

Day 1 (365): 8th of December
Much shorter trip to London this time, but just as fun as always. Birthday treats to oneself are a great thing. The weather keeps strangely cooperating with me on these sojourns, so I must be doing something right. Honestly, though it was a bit chilly, it only rained one morning, and the rest of the time it looked like this. 

As this was my departure day, I had a well planned travel schedule to get me to Gatwick in time to spend a bit of time (and money) in World of Whiskeys. Sadly, Thameslink was not in on my schedule (or perhaps it was and was having a bit of fun). This train was stuck and motionless at my station, which meant both north and southbound trains had to use the one open platform. As I watch the expected arrival time for the next train to Brighton slide ever further into the future, my planned purchases of booze slid ever from my grasp.

In the end I made it to the plane just in time. And because Life has a sense of humour, we pulled away from the gate and were told by the captain that we'd be sitting there for a while due to a broken ATC radar in Milan. One hour, more fuel and a new flight plan later, we made it out, and I got to see the sun set over the clouds at 30k feet.

Day 2 (366 or 1): 9th of December
So I say it's my birthday. Happy Birthday to me. As the sun set on my first day as a 31 year old, I thought a great deal about Deep Things (and a greater deal about Silly Things). And thankfully, had a friend to make me dinner and celebrate a rather unremarkable birthday (no one cares again until one turns forty). Got to take His Lordship home as well, and now get to focus on getting him back into live-outside-again shape. If ever there was a cat that wanted just to live outside, Merry is that cat.

Lovely drive home in the waning light.Seriously, if you've never taken an iPhoneto over the steering wheel whilst driving at 120 km/h, I highly recommend it.

10th of December. Felt rather naughty going a whole day without taking a photo. Kind of like liberation, but I do genuinely enjoy taking photos. At least now the pressure is off and I can focus more on taking the photos I really want, rather than just because I have to.

So after a year and a day as a "thirtysomething" I've come to some interesting conclusions. Firstly and foremostly, I still have no idea what being a grownup is supposed to look like. I've reached the point in my life where hearing a news report about a "28 year-old mother of three" makes me scratch my head at the very thought of what I was like at 28 and how horrible I'd have been as a mother of three (and still would be at that). The world has shifted a great deal in the last couple of years, and I find myself less equipped than ever to even think about being responsible for another human. Life is cluttered enough on its own, you know?

Secondly though not necessarily forelessly, Things are remarkably interconnected, and in ways that still don't make a huge amount of sense. By that I mean to say a theme of Being Thirty (or maybe just of 2014) is one of pushing limits. My car and my body were both pushed to their respective limits on the second day of the year, when some anonymous Italian slammed into the backside of my poor downtrodden vehicle at great speed, proceeded to leave the, and later attempted to file a claim for damages against me. Nearly a year on, Gertie is slowly coming to pieces even after the repairs, and my back has only regained about 80% of what it was before. Besides my spine, my face literally took a beating when a drunk Irishman smacked me in the face in Dublin. I'll not go into the story, as it is a bit ridiculous. Even my foolish heart took its share of lumps thanks to that ability people have to have a go with others' emotions. Then there's Work. The dreaded Job. It is one that I love doing, but it unfortunately results in long days, and in people loading seventeen things on my plate, fully knowing that I can only do ten of them, and expecting only half to get done. Not my preferred MO for leadership, but what can one do?

Thirdly, though firstly and secondly were quite a lot, is that dreams are a wonderful thing, and not something to be ignored, squandered, or taken for granted. This year I did rather a lot of crowdfunding, and discovered that there is something really quite special about helping another person realise his or her dream. The perks one gets are fun as well, but mostly it's cool to be a part of a creative project. One day I hope to have the wherewithal to realise my own dreams, but for now, supporting the dreams of perfect strangers (and the occasional old friend) will have to do. Dreams are what keep us going; even if we don't have a clue how to get there, the thought that we might just do it is often enough.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Week Fifty-Two: Things Need Done

Almost done with this thing. Only a couple days until the birthday. Turns out back in Week 14 of this blog thing I managed to mess up the numbering of the days. Sadly, that was only the first of several cascading number issues, resulting in this week initially ending nowhere the 364 that is correct. Figures I'd not catch on until the bloody end. Now have to go back and fix many weeks of wrong days. Oh, and putting in another plug for the Birthday Campaign.

Day 1 (358): 1st of December
So I have this list. It moves from page to page as things get crossed off, but it never seems to go away. It just inches its way through the notebook, wending amongst the doodles and bits where I've splashed tea. On the way home, it seemed as though someone had lit Naples on fire. The whole region was awash in smoke and smelled like a pile of burning logs (surprisingly enough, not like burning Detritus). Made the clouds look quite cool though.

Sunset through smoke is always neat.

Day 2 (359): 2nd of December
It turns out a mind that is rather active is not good bedfellows with Adequate Sleep (pun intended). That list I mentioned yesterday? Keeps growing and changing and not having any part of this whole Getting Things Done plan of mine. Should really end one's year on a high note, no? Never one for doing as one should, I've decided it will be more fun to stress myself into oblivion so when people hear it is my birthday, they assume I'm turning 45. Silly unnecessary trip to the other base. But got to see more mad armageddon clouds.

Day 3 (360): 3rd of December
Got a birthday email late last night from the grandparentals. Now, some might be upset that one's own relations have one's birthday off by a week, but as I am the most rubbish at remembering anyone's birthday (including my own...honestly, I've nearly missed my own a few times), I'm hardly one to judge. Gives me a surprise happy note in the inbox. And were this blog not in existence, I'd take it as a reminder to myself to not toodle on and forget that 9th December is significant for more than just the Butkus family. Drove into a freak hail storm just as I arrived at home. Nothing like the feeling that someone is dumping gravel on one's less than perfect soft top. This is really what the sky looked like.

This is what Week 14 looked like. Where it all went wrong. And I forgot how numbers work.

Day 4 (361): 4th of December
Company holiday party this evening. Cat carrier to fetch before so Merry can go to the vet (I know) tomorrow. Sitting in the usual airplane crossing traffic. Gotta love it. Best timing ever. Getting in the way of Doing Things. Bloody Alitalia.

This is much improved over WorserFence.

More mad clouds. But portending of Bad Things. Update: holiday party was a smash. And by that I mean some car windows were smashed and many doors opened to nick many things from many cars. Thanks, Pozzuoli. People ought to have known better than to leave anything in their cars, but still.

Day 5 (362): 5th of December
Big Plan to the Merry to the vet today was utter failure. He must've known or sensed what I had planned, because he never showed up. Not in the morning, and not in the evening. And I did such a great job of Getting Things Done. Felt I was on a roll. Now it'll have to be done before going to the airport in the morning, which will add loads of stress and things and may not be feasible. Grrr. Fool Cat. OOh...Pretty Sky.

Day 6 (363): 6th of December
Thank you, London, for being you. Now, I'm not one for Big Cities. In fact, I usually avoid them like deep and meaningful relationships. Did I say that out loud? I mean to say like adult wardrobe choices. That wasn't any better. Fine. I avoid them. Leave it at that. But Town is always so welcoming. I don't even hold a grudge about the whole burgling my government phone business from last time. One can hardly blame a whole city for the action of one Artful Dodger. I love the Blackfriars area. Has an interesting rough beauty to it.

Many Santas on the steps of St. Paul's. Apparently for some mad pub crawl. In the whole area there must've been at least a thousand (fine, maybe two hundred) people in fancy Santa dress.

But St. Paul's itself was lovely, as usual.

Day 7 (364): 7th of December
Lovely typical December day in London. Bit soggy, bit cloudy, bit chilly. But not unpleasant. And as usual, a refreshing change. Thus the soggy rooftops.

This is out a window in my hotel room. At least I can run away in a fire...

Many Things on The List this week, and it's unlikely The List will get smaller anytime soon. I guess this is what that whole Being a Grownup business is all about. 

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Week Fifty-One: Thank Goodness

Winding down on the 365 Project. Life is all about positives and negatives. And the occasional neutral. Generally, I like the neutrals, but I'm not averse to moaning and complaining about things I cannot control or change (blame it on the celtic blood). This week I'd like to at least attempt to focus on the things for which I am thankful. Firstly, progress on my charity: water campaign. Secondly, the simplicity of my life.

Day 1 (351): 24th of November
Well, it's been a while since the last time I had a Monday that was so incredibly Monday. Started the day by not noticing that I'd forgotten my boots until I'd been at work for a while. This caused a decision point: take an hour out of my morning to go home and collect said footwear (and in so doing lose the prime parking location), or spend about $80 and buy a new pair (and deal with the New Boot Effect all day). Three guesses which one I chose. Hint: it's the second option. Because as Scottish as I am about money, sometimes the laziness bloody mindedness work ethic wins out. Also forgot my tea tin, but thankfully had a backup stash. Then got loads of taskers, and one of them requires counting up "man-years" for FY14 and projecting "man-years" for FY15, FY16, and FY17. What happened to the man-hour? What exactly is a "man-year" anyhow? Apparently for a civilian it is 1880 hours. For us poor fools in the military, it is something rather larger. But why cannot we just use a calculation that requires less mathematic prowess? What am I thankful for today? Let's see. Tomorrow is Tuesday (i.e. not Monday), so I'm thankful for that.

Day 2 (352): 25th of November
My official, government-issued mobile phone was pickpocketed (along with a bunch of cash) when I was in London last, and in order to get it sorted, I have to file a police report with the local security. Seems so counter-intuitive, as the event happened in another country, and there is nothing to be done for it. But we do need our paperwork, I suppose. Today I'm thankful for books. The stories I've read in the last three decades or thereabouts have made me the person I am today (for better or for worse).

Day 3 (353): 26th of November
Haven't yet brought it up, but while I was on the boat last week, a castle was constructed around my desk in the office. It still stands and has been given the name Castle Carruth after the ancestral beginning of the Crothers line. Not that there was ever a real Castle Carruth, but it is a nice idea. The thing will have to come down eventually, as part of the structure is made of boxes of printer paper. There have been mumblings about getting a photo taken and maybe taking it down sooner. I hate to destroy something constructed out of creative inspiration, but may be overruled. Today I am thankful for great storms. Leaving early to go watch a reenlistment, I drove into a great torrent and watched through the windows of the event as the sky tried to wash away the sins of the world (quite a task). The aftermath of storms in old volcanoes is pretty neat.

Yup. Another rose. This one at Carney Park.

After the big, mad, torrential storm...

And when one takes the wrong on ramp, sometimes one has to go a really long way round. But it makes for a nice sunset view.

Day 4 (354): 27th of November
A lovely Thanksgiving day. No internet, thanks to the storm yesterday. Love the cyclical nature of my life. Thankful for excuses to eat massive amounts of food with no one judging (just comparing quantities consumed). Thankful for the idea (and memory) of watching football whilst digesting (games all start rather late here... silly time difference). Thankful for lovely chats with parental units (sorry for calling at 0730 local...). Also thankful for this scenery.

This as well.

Day 5 (355): 28th of November
What I'm not thankful for: Black Friday when I need to use the public WiFi. And when the place is crammed with people who don't speak English but feel free to take advantage of lax NEX entry policies to fill their bags with as much discounted merch as possible. Am definitely thankful for quick responses from landlords (a rarity, I must say) who bring Telecom guys to poke around and chat on phones and come to the conclusion that the problem is the ADSL line as a whole. Such a delight to come down from my shower to find such a sight. Even better is when Telecom guys say "una settimana" until it is fixed, but then landlords make faces and exasperated noises and Telecom guys say "due, tre giorni, maximo." In a strange way, am a little thankful for this little guy, except when he is high maintenance and requires assistance in refraining from eating his own leg.

Also thankful for roses.

Day 6 (356): 29th of November
Also not thankful for the phrase "that's just the cat's meow." Unless, that is, the phrase is being used to express the sending of one on a massive guilt trip. But even then, all I think of anymore as regards a cat's meow is the godawful little gutteral noises that come from a cat in pain (or just fed up and feeling needy). Guh. But this is the week for positive things, so I'm thankful for rain that holds off until after I've finished bringing the wash in from the line.

The normal fall shot (though it's winter).

Day 7 (357): 30th of November
End of the month. End of a long w/end. Gosh, how boring is my life. Spending excessive amounts of time and energy looking after the fool feline. Probably not even doing it right, but I have to do something, and he cannot be trusted to not make things worse. Ugh. Thank goodness for Twin Peaks marathons. Though I have to say, the cat has good taste, as he keeps staring fixedly at the screen at important moments. Besides fantastic old TV shows, I'm thankful for the little details in life. The mornings we wake up fully rested (rare things, indeed), the perfect cup of tea in the morning, the spider web I didn't notice until I was editing this photo.

The little flower that blooms in the sunshine and hides in the dark.

Oh, Life. I am thankful for you. In all of your goods and others. You are a colourful beast, and never cease to entertain. And exasperate, but that's why you're you.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Week Fifty: On a Boat?

Most of the week on the boat this time. Not much of it properly underway, and not as much of it as was originally planned (thanks, there, higher-ups). A little insight into the naval goings-on for a girl on shore duty. Oh yeah, not much traction yet on the charity:water campaign (thanks, family and friends, for the enthusiastic response). Wow, that was a trifle passive aggressive, but ah well. So here's another plug for the thing. Not asking for a huge amount. Any you feel like donating is grand, as all donations are matched by Keurig. My Birthday Campaign.

Day 1 (344): 17th of November
My how time flyeth past. A bit broken-recordish, but rightfully so. Every time I stop and look up, another week has gone by and I'm not entirely sure where it ran off to. Someone really ought to keep me in the loop on these things. Makes one feel all at sea. This shot started like any other sunset shot via iPhone, but then in post I didn't feel like getting too technical, so I just blurred and sepia-ed the lower part. Seemed like a good idea at the time. The colour contrast at least is a bit different. You decide how well the bit works.

Day 2 (345): 18th of November
Up to the boat. Love me some Gaeta. As I've said before, it is a bittersweet thing to come up here to embark on the good ship Whitney. Such a nice place, so it makes a great change of scenery, but it reminds me that we used to be stationed up here in a nice building on the hill  just above the ship. Living up in this neck of the woods would be so much better. Even the drive up is relatively serene. Particularly when that trip starts at 0700. Nice skies.

Not such a bad side of this part of Italy.

And finally the mighty ship herself. In this light she doesn't (really) look like the fourth oldest active ship in the Navy.

Day 3 (346): 19th of November
The rest of the gaggle finally got on board today, so thus began the dance to get senior folks' computer accounts sorted and point out important features such as the toilets and wardroom and gyms. Someone had the bright idea to schedule several meetings in the morning, prior to the arrival of the masses. I thought about attending mine, and just having a good chat with myself at the table. It was suggested later that in that case, I'd at least have minimal arguments, but I pointed out that I can argue with myself better than anyone else I know. It might have made for an interesting side show. This is my room. Note the EEBDs (Emergency Escape Breathing Devices). And the lack of really neatly made beds. Thank goodness no one bothers to inspect officer rooms. Not that this is half as bas as my rooms were on the carrier. Those were decorated and personalised to the max extent possible, because my roommate(s) and I were stuck living in them for many months on end. This one will house me for a few days at the most.

Day 4 (347): 20th of November
Properly underway this morning. I wasn't convinced we'd really pull away from the pier, but in fact we managed to get on the road, so to speak. I have a roommate who I kind of know, but I don't get the feeling she likes me all that much. And she spends rather a lot of time sleeping. Early morning meetings are one thing, but going to bed at 1800? Is ten hours really the going norm these days? I leave for work every day at 0500, and the earliest I fall asleep is 2230. I guess I'm just odd. NO comments on that statement are needed thanks very much. Check out the scenery outside. This is the view from the starboard sponson (that's like a deck on the side of the ship).

Different camera settings. Not too shabby.

Day 5 (348): 21st of November
A day for culinary brilliance. They do feed us well on this ship. And not much money. Three squares for a week costs all of $70. For snack we realised the proper dipping chips were AWOL (thanks, night shift), so the Cool Ranch Doritos had to substitute as a vehicle for the queso. And how they did. After a breakfast of eggs, bacon, french toast, and sausage (all covered in garlic Texas Pete's), and coffee cake, and a lunch of chicken fingers, salad, fries, coffee cake, and cookies, I burgled PB&J fixings for dinner. Such a healthy way to live, no?  I've decided I want the person responsible for the Deadwood soundtrack to do the score for my life. As it is, my dreams have pretty decent tunes, but my day to day needs a good musical treatment and the soundtrack for the much-missed Deadwood is about the right speed. For the longest time I wanted Danny Elfman and/or Curt Smith to do the job, but now I want something different. Not that my love of both those individuals has lapsed; they still have a place in my heart, mind, and dreams. This is a shot of my semi-cyanotic hand (and this is after I'd run it under the warm water in the sink). It gets a bit chilly on board a floating tin can.

You can almost pretend these are normal flip-flops on a sandy beach, rather than shower shoes on blue stateroom carpet. Another change from a carrier room. Those had no carpet.

Good to know which liferaft is mine. But really, I'm on #31 so...

The water on this trip has been like glass. We might as well be pierside as little as the boat has been listing about.There is nothing so soothing as the sound of crew-served weapons shooting into the night. Makes a perfect backdrop to the serenity of a night on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Day 6 (349): 22nd of November
Shafted a day of no commute, prepped meals, and easy living. That said, it will be nice to do crazy things like laundry and not going to meetings on w/end mornings. Pulling back in to Gaeta, the sea state remained the same as it has to whole trip. Look at that surface. An iPhoneto, so bear with me.

A bit hazy this afternoon, but still such a gorgeous, warm (for November) day.

Day 7 (350): 23rd of November
Certain felines have been gimping about noisily, attempting to garner sympathy. And dammit if it's not working. Turns out a tiny piece of an anti-inflammatory in the food seems to be working. Stupid cat. Pretty morning sky.

Leafy thing.

And lemons. Because, well, lemons.

Seems this week was more iPhoneto heavy than usual. Not necessarily for the best, but I kept finding myself in places with no Olympus (and often no Moment lens). Guess I'll just have to hope the intent behind the pics speaks louder than the low quality of the iPhone.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Week Forty-Nine: Doctors and Dingbats

Quick plug for an opener. I'm turning 31 next month, and will be closing out the 365 project. To celebrate, I've pledged my birthday to charity: water in lieu of asking for pressies. If you'd be interested, check it out. This week is fun stuff heavy at the front end, but a bit weak for the rest of the time. These things happen.

Day 1 (337): 10th of November
I think I need to dye my beard blue or something. As part of the Haj to Cardiff, made it down to Cardiff Bay and the Doctor Who Experience. What a time. Had fangasm after fangasm and even made the occasional undignified noise of delight. Was supposed to take a tour of the current TARDIS set, but due to filming or some other lame excuse, they had to cancel. Tried to point out that I do a world renowned impersonation of a church mouse, but alas they did not buy it. What follows is a mad assortment of just a few of the photos from the Experience and Cardiff. Enjoy.

Wonderful way to be greeted at the entrance.

The exhibits that follow the tour are pretty fangasmarific. Proper old sets.
Proper old companions. Tried to treat the photo to a oldification.

AAAAK! Sorry. I'll just...

Mehhehehe. Gaahh! You can still see the bits that got a bit singed in the explosion...

Gvahgahablah! The DOOR!!! THE DOOR!!!

Sorry. That was bad. THE FACE OF BOE!!! AWWWW

Really. Not sure what came over me. Just going to calm down... But!

Outside. Outside is better. Wait! I know that restaurant! Must have Turkish for lunch.

Silly but sweet and a little sad. Poor Ianto. Every lovely fictional character deserves a shrine.

Day 2 (338): 11th of November
Lovely day in London to close out this trip. Remembrance Day, Veterans' Day, and the anniversary of the day my grandmother died in 1988. Here's the story for the day. Was wandering in Hyde Park near Albert Hall, and a little guy asked me for the time. I obliged, and as I did, he took my hand and told me I had a colourful, artistic aura. This then led to fifteen minutes of this bloke telling me all sorts of things about myself. And I think he's been in my head or something, because he was freakishly on the mark. Said I need to do the things I want to do. Said I want so much but don't know where to start. Said the pain in my lower back is tied to the thing or person (maybe an ex-boyfriend?) that is emotionally draining me. Hmmm. The things that happen in London. Hello Magpie.

Hello Squirrel.

Hello Ponies.

Ahhh fountain at the Italian Gardens. Something Italian that doesn't drive me to drink.

Day 3 (339): 12th of November
Back to the grind, though it is always odd to have a Wednesday act like a Monday. Thought about calling it Mendsday, but that sounded too much like Mensday, which either sounds like a day for the dudes, or an awkward celebration of Female Issues. Tried Wonday, but as the day was hardly the top of the standings, it seemed a bit to obviously ironic. And the last thing one needs is obvious irony, right? Only one shot today. Cool sky.

Day 4 (340): 13th of November
Spent most of the day listening to "academics" to prepare for an upcoming embarkation, but really the lectures piped over the computer speakers did more to confuse me about the whole ordeal. Learning about logistics, "best practices," Command and Control, and Cyber things was truly a thrill to end all thrills, but what really took the prize was the bit about targeting. By the end of it, I realised I have no idea what I do for a living. Pretty impressive work, that. A lecture that is so convoluted and poorly presented that it leaves experts baffled and perplexed about the very nature of their field, is a lecture for the ages. Driving home took too long so I had to grab the sunset via iPhone on the way.

And came to find the tree outside my kitchen all gone. My landlords are rather chop-happy of late.

Day 5 (341): 14th of November
Really hate having to get work done on the car. Not even because it is rather pricy ($250 to replace two tires...are they made from panda skin?), but just because of the Neapolitan flare for making things harder. Mission accomplished, though, so now dear old Gertie can be street legal again. Also meant I got to veg at a cinematic showing of a cute kids film Big Hero 6, which I'd never even heard of, but which was rather charming. Got some Moment shots on base before the show.

Not great, but not too bad.

Day 6 (342): 15th of November
All the traveling makes for disaster areas. The house is always a bit messy, but at this point it was truly horrendous. All better now. And got to torture Merry with the Terror Sucker Monster, so that was fun. Only one shot today. Flower hiding from the cloudy day.

Day 7 (343): 16th of November
Last night as I enjoyed my champions dinner of Easy Mac and Coors Light in front of a roaring Gilmore Girls binge, I realised I'd managed to travel in time to my university days. All that was missing was a bean bag, a papasan, a Target lamp, and my old roommates. Funny old world.
Yesterday's flower is a bit happier this morning.

Finally got a yellow thing to not be washed out. Maybe I'm learning. Probably not. Am a bit thick.

Obviously rained last night.

Quite the ramble this week. But this funny old world will have that effect on a person.