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Life Changes

swainsons-2I honestly have no idea where to begin.

That statement rings true on several levels. First, I have no idea where to begin telling this story. Perhaps I shouldn’t even tell it. There are people who read my weblog who will be surprised, maybe disillusioned. I don’t think that’s my role.

Second, I truly have no idea where to begin. I have been released from my professional engagement. I have few ties to this geographic location and now no professional ties. I can go anywhere I want.

Third, I do not even know where to begin the process of finding work again. I’m not even sure I want a job. Maybe the thing to do is strike out on my own and work for myself. I have no idea whether there is sufficient demand to keep me busy enough.

Life Changes… That phrase can be read at least two ways. Life changes. It does. The one thing about living is that it is dynamic, not static. Moments pass, turning into minutes, hours, days, weeks, ad infinitum. It is the way of this existence and nothing is constant.

Then again, there are life changes. These are also discrete points in time when big changes happen — I call them watershed events, because there is a crossing of a threshold, a topographic divide, from one state or place to another.

Sometimes, both events occur — as a result of a single event or closely-space multiple events.

I think I’ve been crossing a watershed for a couple of years now. Wife’s death was a huge change for me. It literally turned everything I worked for all these years upside down and left me bereft, not only of Wife but also life purpose. I was transformed from husband-provider to widow, abruptly.

Early this year, Young Son moved to his own digs. This is part of his growing-up experience and a necessary thing. It was also not optional. I knew that he needed this, whether he knew it or not. Now I can be proud of him again — he’s working, going to school, mostly providing for himself. These are good things and vital to the move to adulthood.

So, now I’m left with this house that is much bigger than I need. I am now self-employed and my current workload is insufficient to maintain my cash burn rate. I need to make some changes. I need to figure out what I’m to do and where I am do to it.

I have a lot to do. I’d better get after it.

Healing

Ki Sleeping Peacefully, HealingFriday afternoon, the Girl and I were out in east Carson City near the Carson River looking for some geocaches. We found the one we were looking for near the Mexican Ditch, I signed the log, and then called her back to me to return to the CacheMobile. When she crossed the fence, she snagged the low wire that was on the ground and lacerated her lower right leg. I checked it and there were a couple small gashes, but not a lot of bleeding.

I checked them a couple more times over the weekend, then decided Sunday morning to call her vet. The wounds weren’t closing and I knew they’d take forever to heal without a suture or two. So, they worked us in.

When we arrived, the tech reviewed Ki’s records and suggested we go ahead and do her annual review. I mentioned her two skin cancers and that the vet indicated we should probably just do it all in one swoop so she would only be subjected to anesthesia once. After the office visit, the on-duty vet agreed and so I left her there.

I knew I’d be lost without her, but I had no idea just how anxious I would become. I did everything I could think of to distract myself, short of buying a bottle of whiskey and numbing. I wasn’t really productive Sunday afternoon, but I got part of the irrigation system working and started the process of taking care of my yard for the summer.

The vet called me about 2030. She was in recovery, doing fine, and I could either leave her overnight (without additional charge) or retrieve her. “I’ll be there at 2100,” I said.

I took her discharge instructions, got all the medications assembled, and then carried the poor baby out to the 4Runner. She was so groggy, unhappy, and felt poorly. I could tell all these things. I put her on her mat in the back seat after an abortive attempt to settle her in the front seat pan where she usually rides. The ride home was challenging, but I put on the overhead light and tilted the mirror so I could see her. We made it fine.

She didn’t want her bed on the floor; she wanted it on the sofa, where she usually has it. (I shut the bedroom door; she didn’t need to be jumping on and off the bed. Yes, my dog sleeps with me.) It’s an easy step up to the sofa for her, so I thought that would be fine. I also got my pillows and a blanket and prepared to sleep on the sofa with her.

She really wanted me close. She wanted the comfort and reinforcement that we derive from each other. I tell people all the time that we are both rescues. It’s true.

I really felt badly for her last night. She was so uncomfortable. I wondered whether I did the right thing by bringing her home instead of leaving her in the vet’s care. I guess I won’t ever know.

She groaned and whined most of the night. I felt her stirring in her sleep and could sense her discomfort. I slept off and on. It wasn’t my first time sleeping off and on with someone I love.

But, she woke more like herself this morning. She was stiff and sore, I could tell. But she was ready for breakfast and I opened a can of wet food, gave her some of it with her kibbles, and gave her the medications that will speed her healing.

We took a short walk at noon and she seemed better. I know that some modest exercise will be good for her. She slept off and on most of the afternoon. I spent much of my day on her, just sitting with her or being close. We are like that anyway.

We walked a mile this evening and she did well. I needed the walk and I think that the movement will help keep her skin stretched and supple. The vet took a lot of skin from her skin cancers.

So she’s healing. Her physical wounds will be healed in a couple of weeks. In the process of reflecting on her treatment and healing, I thought on my own. I realized that I’m still healing from Wife’s loss. I’m healing from the departure of a dear friend and my dog’s trainer. I don’t think I’ve begun healing from my change of employment status from employee to self-employed, yet, but it’s impending.

Healing is good. It takes time. It takes work and an investment of positive energy. I also think the being mindful of the need and the process is important. I am still learning, after all.

Happy Pi Day, Belatedly

Light-Up PiI’m running a day late and a dollar (or two) short. But, I wanted to write about Pi Day before too much time gets away from me.

Every year I remember Pi Day (among a few other special days). It’s a fun reminder about the beauty and power of mathematics. One definition for pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is one of the transcendental numbers, that is, it is an infinite sequence of non-repeating digits. Fun stuff…

There are a number of celebrations for Pi Day, but this year I elected to go to a geocaching meet, Pi Day with the Professor down in Gardnerville. I would meet a few geocachers, celebrate a moment of transcendence, and collect a geocaching souvenier. So the Girl and I packed out a bit early to scout some locations for landscape photographs on our way to Gardnerville.

It was a fun gathering and I was there before 9:26AM. That’s the other fun part of this particular Pi Day, yesterday, at 9:26:53AM, it was Pi Day to nine decimal places (3.141592653). This occurs only once each century, and the next one will be in 2115. I will not be there for that one.

Unfortunately, the noise and energy in the small coffee house was too much for me. I left not long after the special time, saying thanks and goodbye to my fellow lovers of the outdoors and the scavenger hunts known as geocaches. It was fun, but it was also time to get home and get after other tasks.

It’s Alive…

selfieAfter what seems like forever, my weblog is again operational. At least, it appears to be and to be without the hack I discovered over a year ago.

After such a long time without writing here on a regular basis, I’m not sure what to do with my space. I still have 11 years of archives in another CMS to parse and do something with. I intended to bring those bits into this CMS, but now I’m not so sure.

There are more tales to tell, that is certain. There is a lot of history over the last year and change as well. I have thousands of new images. I have thousands of words.

But, I think I’ll go in a different direction, at least for awhile. I think that instead of an online, public diary, I’ll use this space to write about music, photography, engineering (at least hydrology), and education. My theme will remain random ruminations, but the topics will be a little less personal and a little more technical. I guess we’ll see.

Lost

Which Way?

Here is a capture from morning walkies a few days ago. The snow was still on, although it was melting down here in the valley. One of the neighbors had put up a sign. The wind blew it over and the snow covered most of it. All that was exposed was this portion. For some reason, this caught my eye. The capture was made with the Nikon D300 and a micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.

The Selfie

selfie-at-70mphIt’s funny that making a self-portrait took on the coined work selfie sometime over the last few years. Photographers make self-portraits in a number of ways and have probably since photography began. Most of the time it requires a camera on a tripod or other self support that is fired remotely.

I used to use a bulb release that pushed a bit of air that activated a plunger to release the shutter. I’ve also use self-timers with my cameras. Now it’s more common to use a wireless remote because many cameras are equipped with wireless receivers. (My Sony NEX-5N has an infrared receiver, for example.) With a mobile phone front-facing camera it’s trivial.

Probably about 15-years ago, I made this capture with a Canon Elph APS film camera. I was riding the bike at 70 mph on my way home to Lubbock. The sun was setting. I stuck my hand in the tank bag, put the Canon’s lanyard around my write, turned it on, held it at arm’s length, and depressed the shutter. I took a couple of frames to be sure I got a decent capture.

This is one of my favorite self-portraits, or selfies. It was a fun capture near the end of a long day’s ride and something unique to my history. That’s a good thing.

Nobody’s Home

nest
On walkies the other afternoon the Girl I paused by this empty nest we see almost every day. I believe I had the Bausch & Lomb 100mm f/2.3 mounted on my D300. I probably used a stop of about f/5.6, which is a sweet spot for this lens.

Bausch & Lomb

fp1fp2My friend Les loaned me this old Bausch & Lomb 100mm f/2.3 lens. He added a Nikon F-mount and focusing helicoid to it. I took it out and spent some time with it. It’s obvious from the image at the right that the lens is a bit soft wide open, but is much better by f/4 or f/5.6. That is shown in the second image below, that was shot at about f/5.6. The background is not quite as pleasant, but the image is much sharper.

The image quality is quite good and the bokeh is pleasant (smooth). It’s a good lens. The iris fascinates me — so many blades. So the aperture is nearly circular throughout the full range of stops.

It’s a really neat piece of vintage glass.

Valentine’s Day 2014

Lost LoveWife and I always celebrated St. Valentine’s Day, although it never was a huge thing for us. I think we saw it as another opportunity to celebrate being together and to do something a little special for the kids.

I dropped the ball this year and let the day creep up on me. I know my kids are all old enough that they no longer need a heavy dose of sugar from their dad. But I still remember the day and the celebration of close relationships that it represents.

Happy Valentine’s Day, all.

Support Group

locksI went to the bereavement support group for the second time today. There were about eight women and two men. That told me something right away (well, a couple of things actually). They asked me to introduce myself, so I did. Same for the other male.

The coordinator had a couple of printed packets she wanted to work through. So, she started and then gave each person there an opportunity to say something regarding each topic. She asked people if they’d done their homework.

Some of the widows there are quite close to their loss. Many of them lost their loved one a couple of months ago. A few of us are farther out. I think all of us are trying to accommodate our new status.

We shut down after about an hour and a half. The women gathered about to visit. It is the way of women to deal with their grief by sharing it in this fashion. Most men prefer to deal with grief in private (where it’s safe) and by doing things. That’s one of the big things I learned in my reading.

I’m also a lot farther down the road than most of the folks there. I don’t mean that to be bragging — because I don’t have it all together. But I did the work to address my loss and am still doing the work.

As I left, I thought “This really isn’t for me. Maybe it would have been six or nine months ago, but not any more.” I still have work to do and I have a good idea where that work is. But I don’t think I need the group to do that work. I just need to keep my eyes forward, deal with my grief when it rises, and continue working out my plans. I think it’s going to be more about deciding what I want and then executing that from here on forward. I can do that.

Edit: Since finishing this piece, I got started thinking again. I left the meeting this afternoon feeling pretty good — as in buoyed. I wondered about that in the context of what I learned by going through this second meeting. I finally figured out that what made me feel good was making a life-decision. I decided not to attend more meetings. They aren’t the right thing for me to do.

Then I figured out that when I make a life-decision that is both logical and feels right, I feel better. I get a boost from making a decision… taking an opportunity that I perceive to be moving forward. This is a good thing and I’m glad for the little boost.