Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hidden Star (SOTC 55/365)

Lacecap Hydrangea in Pink II (SOTC 54/365) by gina.blank
I have felt lately as if I've been lacking both time and opportunity to work on my photography with the same frequency as is typical of the spring and summer months.

I was reflecting the other day on how I have slowed down my "Straight off the Camera" project, and I realized that I really never would have made it at a photo a day. My new roles and responsibilities at work this year have taken me on quite the learning curve. I was also been involved in a small group through church that provided much opportunity to search the heart with my Creator--always amazing, but often exhausting. I have had to be more intentional about where I've been putting my post-work energies. And when I'm running low on energy, my recharge time has looked different--the work and learning and growing has felt so big, and the recharge time has thus needed to be SO quiet.

That being said, I made a wise decision near the beginning of the year to purchase an annual pass to the Muttart Conservatory. I had a hunch that it would be a great place both to take photos on a frequent basis, as well as seek a little solace after work, when the crowd is thin [enough to tune out], and I can claim a bench in the tropical pyramid with a good book.

Realizing that I was due for a visit, I committed my late afternoon to exploring the latest colourful arrangements in the feature pyramid (with a short visit to the tropical pyramid, always a visit to the tropical pyramid!).

The hydrangeas were in bloom, and for an hour, I had the entire space to myself. Few other patrons strolled the building so near to closing, and they were clearly occupied in other areas. It was quiet, photographic bliss.

I need more days like this.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Snap Pea Experiment

Last year, I was a little bit inspired by this video:

I mean, not so much in the area of becoming an activist for an Edible Edmonton (though I think that would be really cool, and I would totally participate at whatever level I could). But more in using even my own space differently to maximize the way I grow food.

I already have a raised bed garden. When I saw the video last year, most of it had already been harvested, and the season was nearly over. But it got me excited for what I could do this year.

I've added several flower pots to my back yard to house herbs and vegetables. I cleared the front garden beds of their flowers, dedicating the space under the cherry bushes entirely to strawberry plants. But the thing I was most excited about was the snap peas. I decided to plant my snap peas (and some sweet peas) along the chain link fence lining my driveway, instead of in the raised garden like I've done in the past. It was a bit of a risky venture, given that the dirt is not exactly top-quality potting soil. Sandy with a bit of clay, I added some nutrient-rich compost soil to the mix, sowed my seeds, and hoped for the best.

Everything in the garden has been coming up over the last week or so, and wouldn't you know, the snap peas are, too! ...Looks like my snap pea experiment is a success!

New Journeys and Fond Memories

"Ok. Stopping. Damsel officially in distress."

This was the text I sent out, from the side of the highway in rush-hour traffic, the day that Aubergine finally died. She had leaked a lot of coolant, and my mechanic friend and I thought I could make it to his place so he could look at her.

She didn't make it.

My friends came and rescued me, we picked up a trailer, and towed Aubergine back to their place. After a quick look under her hood, I was given my options: I could repair/replace the leak and engine--which would cost more than she was worth--or consider getting a new car a few months earlier than planned.

I signed a DNR on Aubergine. Filled the online donation form for the Kidney Foundation. And prepared my bank account to go car shopping.

The whole experience was a mixed bag of feelings.

Is it weird to say that I grieved my car? Maybe not so much the physical car as much as all the memories and experiences associated within. ...Okay, maybe also the physical car.

I was aiming for September. That would be when I would get a new car. I had anticipated one last summer with Aubergine. A few more months of driving home from work with the windows down and the radio up. Iced coffee in the cup holder instead of hot. A child in the back a couple times a week, excited to go to the best spray park in the city. One more road trip to Saskatchewan. And in a single, overheated engine moment, all those visions became a grey cloud of unknown.

Over the course of the next seven days, I drove seven different vehicles. I borrowed two friend's vehicles to get to work, to the dealership, and run errands. I test drove two different cars. I was pleasantly surprised with the Dodge Dart, so I bought one. In red, even. But soon after driving it off the lot, I realized it was missing features that I was promised it had. Non-negotiable features. I was allowed to drive this car for the next few days while the dealership fixed their mistake, but it was clear that this car would not be a keeper.

The keeper turned out to be grey. And used.* But it had a ton of extra features that I would be getting at no extra cost. And as this was now day seven of not having a car I could call my own, I decided to cut my losses on the colour, and finalize the sale of the grey one. Driving him off the lot, I was admittedly a bit neutral towards him. He still smelled like the previous owner. He shifted a little differently than his red cousin. He was charcoal grey. It was a quiet ride home.

Truth be told, I wasn't all that fond of Aubergine when I first got her. I had spent the previous several years driving around in shiny, red cars, and the car my ex and I had had before her was quite a bit more luxurious (a luxurious lemon, but nevertheless...). Aubergine had a few nice features, but it took me a while to get over the loss of heated seats, a sunroof... and she was eggplant purple with a tan interior. Let's just say, it took some getting used to.

Clearly, Aubergine grew on me.

Early on, I remember the ball head on her gear shift was a little bit loose. Bored at red lights, I would often twist the ball head left and right--just something to keep my fingers busy. At some point, she had been in my mechanic friend's care for the day (tire rotation? Mysterious noise? I don't even remember). When I was driving her home, I came to a red light, and out of habit, gave a little twist. No give! My friend had obviously noticed it when he was driving, and tightened it for me. While I attempted to twist the ball head a few more times, the habit was quickly dropped, and I never really thought about it again for the next five years.

The Dart and I are slowly getting to know each other. He's not a bad little car. He still smells like someone else. And I don't know his name yet. But he likes the same music I do, willingly brings sunshine and fresh air in through his sunroof, and has already proved himself in the bags and boxes I've had to transport over the last few days.

Driving him home the other evening... I'm not even sure what made me do it, but I was waiting at a red light. My hand was tapping gently on the ball head to the beat of the song in my speakers. In the midst of that, my fingers grasped the ball head, and gave it a twist.

It's a little bit loose.

Yup, I think this car might grow on me.

* Considering the Dodge Dart didn't exist before this year**, 'used' is a relative term. It's still a 2013 car, just with a few extra kilometres on it.
** A footnote of my footnote. Can I do that!? I just learned that the Dodge Dart actually DID exist before this year. WAY before this year. My mom informed me, "I believe a Dart was one of your dad's first cars." ...Apples clearly still falling from trees, even when I didn't know the apple was growing.