Sunday, 29 June 2014

Week Twenty-Nine: OK, Do This

So a fellow photography enthusiast (he's rather better than I) recommended an app called OKDOTHIS, which is all about inspiring people to do more and flex their photography muses. If you are interested, check it out here. I went all projecty on it and it made for an interesting inspiration challenge. See the results below.

Day 1 (197): 23rd of June
This day's Do was to "Go on a walk and create a floral arrangement from the flowers that you forage." Admittedly, I did not go all that far on my walk, but I did indeed make an arrangement. And a cat who was trying to assist in my endeavours eventually wandered off to clean his face in disgust (in the background of the shot).

Merry. Not much more to say.

Day 2 (198): 24th of June
Poking around in the available Dos, I found one that asked me to "Go all Nat Geo on your backyard." In an effort to not call pictures of cats or flowers Nat Geo material, I looked closer and found this guy. No idea where he came from, but there he was, just chilling.

Day 3 (199): 25th of June
Tea time. Easy, and right up my alley. This Do just said "Tea Time (tea cups, tea leaves, tea dresses and parties... Show us your best depiction of tea). I have one or two or fifty mugs in my cupboard, so I chose a selection of the ones closest to the front. Plus a particular favourite type of tea, my tweazers and bag holder, and even the kettle in the background.

Day 4 (200): 26th of June
I used to carry around a notebook all the time. Now I mostly just use them at work. The Do for today asked that I "Let us peek inside your notebook," and luckily I had one full of unclassified things sitting on the sofa. Note the awful penmanship...

Day 5 (201): 27th of June
"Shoot the sun through foliage." Ok. That I can do. All iPhoneto, this one (didn't have the fancy cam with me). And really, I squatted down by a bush, and shot looking up.

Day 6 (202): 28th of June
Today I was torn. I elected to follow the "do of the day" which was "Roofline Envelope: Upside down symmetrical pitched rooflines that are cropped to look like envelopes." However, the rugby game in the evening deserved to be featured - especially because the NATO team actually won. So I dug and founf both "Rugby" and "Action photography. Take a photo of something or someone in motion." My roofline is really an upskirt of my eaves, but close enough.


Motion / action. Gosh I miss playing rugby...

Day 7 (203): 29th of June
Wanted to keep it simple to end the week, and found a Do that only asked for "A picture of something that means the world to you, but nothing to anyone else." Pretty simple, what with Flipper still following me around the world. He's been with me since my English grandmother gave him to me before she died (I was maybe five?). Such a nice bloke, Flipper is. Not the best photo, but full of love.

Lots of iPhoneto work this week. Partly because the OKDOTHIS app is on the phone, and partly because the mobile shots just sometimes looked better. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Week Twenty-Eight: The Personality of a Hamper

One personality quiz determined that I am a visual thinker (I think in pictures). That is probably closest to the truth, as demonstrated by my chronic flight of ideas and ability to only really remember faces (rather than names). This week I learned that a good friend (and one of the nicest people I've ever met) has been revisited by that jackass known as cancer. Several years of remission and now this uninvited jerk shows up and causes a ruckus. You may or may not know him, but if you're reading this, please send him your anti-cancer mind bullets. As my mind has not been terribly focused, I thought I'd let totally unscientific internet personality tests write the blog for me.

Day 1 (190): 16th of June
Apparently my mental age is 27 (the test is shooting a bit high). Thus I think I already understand life and know what I want from it, but deep down am not that sure. Mentally I'm almost a true adult but not just yet - am still at that stage of being a little (a little?) confused. I've a feeling that will persist for some time. More interestingly, my dragon type is a Hydrophius (Water Dragon), which can change shapes, though it spends most of its time as water itself. If one is a Hydrophius, one is a gentle, but powerful, go-with-the-flow kind of person. I watch over from a distance, and spend much time on thoughts and whimsy. Not too far off. Here is a dragon in water (on my living room floor, thanks to sideways rain coming in under the door.

Day 2 (191): 17th of June 
What does my favourite Star Wars character say about me? I've got two. If I like Ewoks, I'm apparently kind of a libertarian. I'm a proud nonconformist, and don’t mind showing love for something that other people dismiss as lame and corny (well that's certainly true). I value hard work and community, and don’t particularly care for technology or government (hmmmm...not sure about that part). On the other hand, if I like Yoda, I want to be wise (so you're saying I'm not?). I hold teachers and authority figures in high regard, and hope to one day share my wisdom. I have little patience for people who have a lot of excuses, and only respect people who can prove themselves as capable and responsible (ok - you've got me there, quiz).

What type of woman am I? According to the internet, I am a true independent woman. I love and live for accomplishing goals on my own. I don't like to rely on others for things I can do by myself, but I also know there's no shame in asking for help from time to time (doesn't mean I do it). I take great pride in my many accomplishments (hmmmm). I'll settle for my many photographs. 

Day 3 (192): 18th of June
If I were a trendy food, what would I be?  If a quiz is to be believed, trendy foods probably aren't my thing, so I go for something that's a twist on a classic: beer. I'm a great balance of chill and party. I probably would have just as much fun staying in watching TV as you would going out to a club. That is rather close to the mark. I've little tolerance for things like quinoa and kale smoothies. Another quiz thinks I'm specifically a hefeweizen, which means I'm hard to brew correctly, am fun-loving and sweet, but surprisingly strong. Once people take the time to get to know me, almost everyone loves me (not sure about that). This is not a hef. And it didn't quite fill the glass. Blast.

In a totally off the mark (I think) moment, the quizmakers in the sky think others perceive me as sunshine. I am a very kind and fun-loving person. People are drawn to my bubbly personality (gahahaha). I get along with anyone and everyone and people love to be around me (cannot type that with a straight face). I am an optimist and have a winning smile (no-ish and yes - thanks, orthodontics). I simply glow (now you're just being funny). Stuff the quiz; this is sun the way I like it.

Day 4 (193): 19th of June
In honour of having finally seen the new film, my X-men character is apparently Wolverine. I am a fierce, mean, killing machine (totally - I can kill me a burger or pizza). I have a big heart and even bigger claws (meh, ok). Most days I just want people to leave me alone (true), but when someone's in danger, I will be the first to rally up the troops (or just barge in with no plan at all). In related news, I am also an American Black Bear. Found throughout the forests of North America (I wish), I am the most American of bears. When I'm not being the mascot of the University of Maine or warning about the dangers of forest fires, I like to wander through the woods seeking berries, insects and the occasional fish. Or in my case, wear 49ers jerseys (and be not black at all). 

In another rather daunting figure comparison, my Pulp Fiction character is Jules. I'm a cool dude capable of bad things. But when the universe directs me to something profound and new, I listen. Those moments of  clarity keep you grounded (and alive). Words to live by: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of the evil man (and sometimes cat).

Day 5 (194): 20th of June
Despite the security of my present job, I clearly cannot do this forever. So, Internet, what job should I have? I should be a writer. I have a skill for language, my imagination is vast and I am artistic and creative (well, maybe autistic). My brain is just overflowing with ideas, and all I have to do is get a piece of paper and share it with the world. I was born to turn words into magical stories. This I can get on board with. I do love writing. But really, what if I were TARDIS'ed to the Wild West? What then? I'd be a Cowboy. No regular job for me! I like to feel free, roam the open desert, get  my hands dirty, and come back to my lovely wife (I've heard those are useful) at home. So I should put that cigar in my mouth and step outside - the horses are waiting for a ride. A Cowboy Writer... Ok, I'm game.

And as that cowboy writer, what ought my hair colour be? With the Strawberry Blonde hair color, my warm, funny and outgoing personality will pop right out (so long as that is all that pops out). People will see me as I really am straight away: a loving, curious and adventurous person. Whew. Don't have to change it. Thanks, genetics! But yes, this is an odd photo (and not the oddest one I took in the session...)

Day 6 (195): 21st of June
In honour of recently watching the finale of Game of Thrones, I do wonder which woman from the show I am most like... And apparently it is Ygritte the Wildling (was hoping for Mother of Dragons, but I'll take the ginger). I'm a free spirit, strong and independent (and ginger). I don't take orders from just anybody, but I might let my guard down for the right person (unless he knows nothing; in that case I shoot him). So who would that right person be? The winner is The Hound. Turns out I have a thing for bad boys, scars, and probably have the urge to live a carefree lifestyle. This monstrous hound of a man might seem scary, but every once in a while I'll see his soft side. Hmmm. Alright. Ygritte is totally a fox (and ginger). The Fox and the Hound? Anyone? Anyone?

And who would we fight as an unbeatable pair as we roamed Westeros? My arch nemesis is - Gwyneth Paltrow. I must not trust Gwyneth Paltrow. She could be in my home right now, hiding in my cupboard, waiting with a freshly blended green smoothie in hand, ready to destroy me. Perish the thought. Must not let this happen. 

Day 7 (196): 22nd of June
To close out the week, we shall look at where I belong. I travel so much and never seem to settle, so where is it that I ought to live? The quiz thinks Ireland (Okay, I'm in). I'm outgoing, confident, and magnetic (or introverted, self-deprecating, and awkward). I can make the best out of a bad situation (true), and can make fun of myself at the same time (more true). Though Ireland may be small, it packs a punch, from music to literature to architecture - not forgetting the scenery. Pour a Guinness (meh), throw on some Pogues (yes!), and pull up a chair. We're only just getting started.

But if my Irish self were to flee to America and attempt the Oregon Trail, how would she die? Oh my. I guess it would be dysentery (how unpleasant). But I ought not be ashamed, for this is a classic death. If I spent more time purifying my water and properly cooking (ha!) my meat, things might have turned out Okay. But I just could't resist canoodling with that cutie in the covered wagon. Damn.

What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Week Twenty-Seven: Once Upon a Mountain

One upon a mountain, a gallant young Naval Officer spent the majority of a week teaching a course in Bavaria. Despite the somewhat long days and long walks to and from the class location, it was a highly restorative week. Teaching something she enjoys to people genuinely interested to learn is such a rewarding experience. Here's hoping more of these trips are in her future. The world needs our hero(ine). International liaising and things, you know...

Day 1 (183): 9th of June
First day of the class and I'm seriously questioning my sanity in climbing the bloody mountain on Saturday. Between the twenty minute walk from the hotel and the lack of air conditioning in the classroom, my back was rather cross after the first hour of instruction. The only recourse was to go back to the hotel after the rest of the lectures, drug up and pass out. Gosh I'm a wimp.

But the flowers were so pretty...

Day 2 (184): 10th of June
There is something about Bavaria that makes me feel as though I've stumbled across a film set in progress. I keep looking for the camera crew that must certainly be just out of sight. It's the sort of place where one can hear actual cowbells on actual cows. Walking to the base in the morning was celebrated with a soundtrack like a metallic waterfall. One might think there was a stampede imminent, but the constant racket is just from grazing calmly on a hillside. Who knew. My breakfasts with bacon and Michael Jackson (on the radio-thanks, German rock station) are followed by strolls through landscape out of some famous painter's daydreams. I can suffer through this as long as I am needed. Even with the churchbells every fifteen minutes.

Honestly. Look at the scenery.

Really, just look. Like a set. You can really find parts of O-gau that exist completely in monochrome. Totally bizarre.

Day 3 (185): 11th of June
As one walks through the lanes of this quaint little haven for nature and dirndls, one may feel as though one is viewing candidates for high honours at the Chelsea Flower Show. The amount of effort put into the average garden is truly impressive. Maybe it is just for show and to keep the whole Bavaria picture going, but any rate, it is marvellous and distracting enough to cause fits of clumsiness. What is this odd thing? The whole bush together is amazing, but I've no idea what to call the clawy flowery thing.

Even the weedy bits draw the eye. These are the tiniest little daisy things I've ever seen. Each face is the size of a dime.

Day 4 (186): 12th of June
Damn, I have to leave too soon. Our heroine (yes, there's a heroine... do keep up) has so much left to do, but alas the call of duty rings ever true. So many more meals to conquer and beers to sample. So many more mountains to ... erm... well... observe from a safe distance or from a nice gondola. But in the meanwhilst, there is this little guy.

And this view. Really rubbish, eh?

It is hard to take good photos of people's gardens without looking dodgy. But Lupins!!

Day 5 (187): 13th of June
Last night's storm ought to have made the pollen in the air go away, but the flora around here seems to have taken the rain as a cue to produce more of the sneeze-inducing stuff. The other result was a simply gorgeous morning with low clouds rolling over the mountain and the colours even more vibrant than before. Best part about summer is that the sun is already high in the sky by 0600. In this case, that is also the time that the previously mentioned bells in the Catholic church a block away give the village a wake up call. Probably something the locals don't even notice any longer. Like the trains that crash through my grandparents' tiny town several times a day. Back in Naples, it is time for more fireworks. Must learn to take better fireworks photos.

But the full moon looks rather neat through the misty clouds.

Day 6 (188): 14th of June
Another Saturday back in Naples. But someone else is cooking dinner and all I have to do is arrive and be my oh so charming self and drink Pimms. Shame about the view though...

Not sure what to say about this. Just, well, Naples (OK, Pozzuoli).

Day 7 (189): 15th of June
Happy Father's Day! Apparently Italy did well in some soccer-related international event. It certainly explains the wallpapering of the Naples region with Italian flags and the fireworks in excess even by Neapolitan standards. Any rate, it is getting late and my internet is lame. Here is a lemon from my tree.

With that, the travels of our intrepid protagonist come to a close (for now). We'll see you again next time. 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Week Twenty-Six: Blithering to Bavaria

I turn to others (mostly dead others) this week to say what I am perfectly capable of saying. They just have better names and as such their way of saying things is better. The week started in dreams and ended in Bavaria.

Day 1 (176): 2nd of June
“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
How about this illusion? Who knew there was a rather cheeky face in the washing machine?

Day 2 (177): 3rd of June
“It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss; volatile spirits prefer unhappiness.” (George Santayana)
There is certainly a volatile spirit in the door handle, too. Creeeeepy....

“By object is meant some element in the complex whole that is defined in abstraction from the whole of which it is a distinction.” (John Dewey)
Is this an abstraction? At least there are no faces in the tumble dryer.

Day 3 (178): 4th of June 
“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” (Ron White)
That has nothing to do with this photo of the moon. Unless the party is under the waxing moon.

Nor has it anything to do with this one of some pins. It's the year of the horse, folks. Get with it.

Day 4 (179): 5th of June 
“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” (Anatole France)
Is the path of a Naval Officer beautiful? Sometimes, certainly. 

“A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Sing it, Ellie! Being as how it is my mum's birthday today, that is fitting. She's as strong as they come. Happy Birthday, Mama! I am who I am because of you.

Day 5 (180): 6th of June 
“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” (Mitch Hedberg)
Gone to Bavaria. Yes, that is a bit of Germany, but don't tell the locals. They'll get their lederhosen in a bunch. Gosh it's nice here. So green and mountainy and summery and sleepy. And I'm in a quaint but quite nice B&B called Hotel Fux. Yes that is really the name. It means Fox. But yes, I know. People are so nice. And things are so simple and quiet and ordered. Bless the German mentality. This is the view from my balcony. Big cross on top of big turtle-headish mountain.

Day 6 (181): 7th of June 
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” (Mark Twain)
Do you want to build a sn- hang on, sorry... Do you want to climb a mountain? Of course I do. Because I am ridiculous. That thing I photographed yesterday? The one with the rocky bit and the cross? Why not. I've a couple days to kill in Bavaria and nothing else to do. Besides it's free and the weather is nice. Ready for a slew of photos? So nice and zen in the woods.

Even when those woods are on a rather intense slant. Why did I decide this was a good idea?

Even this tree wants me to turn around. "Back that way, silly thing. That way is down. Haven't you sweated enough?" Yes, I was doing my celebrated impression of a whore in church. Sorry, I mean to say a woman of the night in a house of worship.

Around this point I got adopted by a family of germans going at about my pace. Though really I think they mostly were concerned I'd kill myself without supervision. In the words of every Star Wars character ever, "I have a bad feeling about this."

Last little respite before the final climb. Again the temptation to turn round and go back. Only 45 mins back down (by the way, it took me just over two hours to get up here...) but only 20 mins more to the top of the peak... why not.

Didn't make it to the toppest top. Largely because of the omigawd pain in the spinal area. Also because the last 70 feet or so of climb was pretty much vertical. And my celebrated impression of a Bavarian mountain goat was a bit, erm, nonexistent. And I was wearing these.

Not too bad for a girl in pain. Got back down in almost exactly 45 minutes, mostly driven by the prospect of a soft bed and pain killers. But I made it farther up than I expected. To the shoulder just there by the top. Gosh this picture makes it look much less intimidating...

Day 7 (182): 8th of June 
“Our intelligence cannot wall itself up alive, like a pupa in a chrysalis. It must at any cost keep on speaking terms with the universe that engendered it.” (William James)
There were grand plans in place in order to keep on speaking terms with the universe, but instead I opted to keep on speaking terms with my spine (which still has not forgiven me for yesterday). Probably a boring proposition and one that is robbing me of a valuable experience, but really I think I'll stick with not being in any more pain than the usual. Standing up and going for food is a grievous enough prospect... I mean, look at the sad face on the pastry... I don't want to make that face.

See? Honestly. How pathetic. (But also so tasty - probably why it's sad.)

More of Bavaria to come. Consider the end of this week as a teaser for next week, which will be rather the opposite (i.e. mostly Bavaria with a close out w/end back in dear old Napoli).
“You tell 'em I'm comin' and hell's comin' with me!” (Sheriff Earp)