2014 January : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

The Same Sight, Different View

Growing up in New Mexico, I was used to being around a certain amount of wildlife. I knew from an early age: Stay away from rodents (bubonic plague), keep off the snakes (bitey) and if you happen across a bear, well, nice knowing you.

Ok, just kidding on that last part. Kind of.

My dad and brother were both avid hunters and I spent more than my fair share of time in the mountains and wilderness of New Mexico. Still some of my best memories.

I live in the Bay Area now, which is a huge urban area (seven million and counting!) that is surrounded by lots and lots of open land and wildlife.

When wildlife happens to wander into areas where a lot of people hang out, insanity ensues. It seems most folks weren’t raised with both a healthy respect and a dose of circumspect when it comes to wild animals.

I got to thinking about this because just two days ago, while running late to a meeting at work and trying to find a spot in a cramped parking lot, I narrowly avoided hitting both a white Honda Civic and a rather grumpy wild turkey.

And I don’t mean the kind of wild turkey that comes in a bottle.

The Honda (who was taking their half out of the middle of the road) just kept going but the turkey gave me a fair piece of its mind. I nodded knowingly and muttered “sorry turkey” and kept rolling.

When this happened, I remembered that about six months ago, we received an all employee bulletin regarding the turkeys that are running a bit rampant on our main facility.

Here is the text of that bulletin, with identifying information redacted:

Recently, an employee got too close to a wild turkey, and the bird flew up and brushed against her. The incident serves as an important reminder that the turkeys are untamed animals and need to be given space. Allow at least 10–15 feet of clearance, try not to turn your back on the birds if they are close, and do not feed them.

It sort of paints a visual picture for me of some lady sneaking up on a turkey and it going all hockey style hip-check on her.

Of course, I laughed my butt off when I got that bulletin because, well, sheeyah! Leave the wild things alone. I quickly emailed it to my best friend who passed it along to her husband and two kids because, coincidentally, they were turkey hunting in New Mexico (and not having much luck).

And since we have so many turkeys and deer and lots of other wildlife here at my place of employ, we also have mountain lions who think a nice turkey dinner and a nap is the right idea.

So while I’m enjoying lunch today and thinking about life, and my coworkers who are batbonkers crazy, I came to some conclusions.

1) People are weird.

2) Not everyone was granted the education I had regarding wild animals or animals in general. Though for the most part I think they mean well.

3) Don’t touch the bitey things.
    3a) Most animals will bite, even the tame ones.

4) Turkeys are not very agile. Skinny legs and big old body are all out of proportion. Still, I’m glad I didn’t hit that gobbler. That might have been sad.

5) Man I could go for a turkey sammich right about now. Anyone else?


Ok. Back to work. I’m headed out on foot to the next meeting.

Maybe I’ll have a brush with a turkey?

How exciting.






Not my photo, but taken at my place of work






Photo from the Bay Area Bird Blog.




I Bet I’m Not The Only One

I started writing today thinking about how crazy or wacky I am regarding the topic of this post.

Then I realized something. I bet I am not that crazy. I bet I am not the only one that has felt this way.

Here’s the scoop:

I have found that if I take my lunch to work, I have a much better day. My office is situated in an oddball industrial slash office neighborhood. It is an area that is rapidly gentrifying.

While we do have some nearby places to go and grab lunch, and on certain days food trucks, the choices are not robust. Also, I work in the far back corner of an office building that is a converted warehouse. It takes me about ten minutes at a brisk clip just to walk to the front door.

This means if I don’t have a lunch packed and I am super busy, I end up with no lunch.

No lunch makes Karen a very cranky girl.

In the New Year I have been working a lot harder on bringing my lunch so Karen is a less cranky girl.

That’s just good for everyone.

Sometimes I lack imagination when making lunches and I eat the same thing day after day. But if it’s good food, then all is well. I’ll eat it and become a manageable and reasonably peaceful person.

When I am able to get my lunch packed the night before that is even better. Oh how I love myself on those days.

Anyhow, this morning I woke up groggy and tired. It’s already been a long week.

As I struggled to break the surface of fatigue and start my day, I remembered that I needed to make my lunch.

It’s Thursday which means most of the good eats in the fridge have already been eaten, and there wasn’t much left that looked good.

The one bit of leftovers we have is something I have eaten for the past three days in a row, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

So it was time to be creative, and creative isn’t something I am in the small dark hours of the morning.

I saw that we still had some of this really good bread that The Good Man had bought. Ok, yum.

I poked around the fridge to see if I could put anything into a sandwich.

Hey, I have a fresh jar of pickles! There is some tasty cheese! Still have a tomato for slicing and some sprouts for fiber and a few other good items. Hey, we still had half an avocado left. SCORE!

This made me so happy. I laid out the details on the countertop and hand crafted one hell of a good-looking sandwich. I did this thing up like an artist in her studio.

When it was completed, I carefully wrapped it up in wax paper, cut it, and wrapped it again, then put it in my lunch bag.

Now here’s the crazy-not-crazy part.

Now that I have made this delicious sandwich for my lunch, I can’t stop thinking about it.

All the way on the ride in to work I was thinking about eating that sandwich. Mouth watering, full anticipation. Oh yes. Gimme my sandwich!

Now!

Sammie sammie sammie sammie sammie is all my Pavlov brain is giving me today.

It’s about 10:30 and I have had a little breakfast but still all I can think about is that damn lunch I packed.

Gimme!

I have work to do and real world grown up decisions to make and I have to be a boss and employee but damnit, all I can focus on is my sandwich!

I will do my best to wait until noon, but I’m not making any promises.

I’m not the only one, right?

___________________


Edit 1: You know who really loves a good sandwich? The British. It’s like a religion to those folks. I should write a whole post on that.


Edit 2: It’s now 12:40 and this sandwich is *delicious*. Worth the wait? Of course. Worth the OCD? You know it. Happy tummy!









Image found here.




And I Was Completely Sober

That is a great post title. It really is. I could go anywhere after that.

But I have something in mind and I promise I am sober as a judge as I tell my tale. (Then again, I know quite a few judges who like a little splash in the coffee mug.)

Yesterday afternoon, during the joy of a holiday from work, I went outside to take some photos. My photography club is back in full swing and this month’s theme is black & white or contrast. I had already taken one photo that I really love and was looking for my second. We get two entries each month.

Lacking any good ideas, I went outside to see what I could see, snapping here and there and everywhere to find something.

My skills in black and white photography aren’t that good (I like color), so I was shooting lots of different things so I could learn and enhance my ability.

About an hour into my backyard photowalk I remembered that around the corner is a magnolia tree in full bloom. I think the unseasonably warm California winter has confused the poor tree.

I headed over to take a look and found it still blooming, so I snapped and snapped lots of photos. I set up shots. I fiddled with my camera. I enjoyed the late afternoon golden light.

And then as I looked at these flowers through my viewfinder, I realized something…….

Some of the magnolia blossoms have faces.

Below I present my evidence.

This was the first face I saw. I thought it was just a one off:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


But wait, there was another. Less obvious, but definitely a face:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


And another. This one I thought looked scary at first. The more I looked, the more it seemed to be laughing with leafy arms spread wide open:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


And another, this one more cranky:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


Then this one, with a little bit of a surprised rounded O face:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


I call this one the Picasso as it takes a little to see it and the face is a bit askew:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


Then I noticed that Laughy and Cranky seemed to be having a little party together:



Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014


Everywhere I looked, there were little magnolia faces looking back at me. Grumpy ones and happy ones and wilty ones and crazy ones. Little sweet smelling blossom faces everywhere my eyes fell.

I giggled with the joy of it all, reveling in the ridiculously silly ways of Mother Nature.

Then a couple pushing a stroller walked by. They looked at me from the sides of eyes, wondering at the crazy wild haired lady laughing with the tree.

Their toddler girl said to me, “Look! I have a Hello Kitty on my pocket!”

I replied, “You sure do!”

That toddler understands. She gets me. To a child with a Hello Kitty on her pocket, the lady laughing with the tree is just fine. Quite normal. To be expected.

I’m so glad someone understands.

Meanwhile, I’ll never look at a magnolia tree in quite the same way again.


_________________


(side note: I believe the most definitive magnolia photo I have ever seen was taken by my friend and fellow New Mexican, Avelino Maestas. I knew whatever photo I would take of the magnolia blossoms would pale in comparison to the photo I used as my phone’s wallpaper for well over a year. Salud, Avelino!)





All photos © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014 and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with a Canon G10 and touched up a bit in Photoshop.




Hey, Not Too Bad!

Yesterday, as I blathered on and wrote a blog post and then decided I wanted to nab a selfie that

1) didn’t make me look like an old hag

and

2) showed off a rare day when my hair was rockin’ (sadly, it was a one day only event) I found myself contorting, head tilting, and generally being weird.

And that was before I had the camera turned upon myself.

At the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with the selfie that I captured yesterday. Respectable enough. It took a lot of work to get that one decent photo, however.

In snapping my own self, I remembered a tutorial I put together a few years back. I still use all of these tips and tricks. Even when The Good Man grumbles at me while self photographing. (he’s not a fan of the selfie)

So hey, I figured I would share again. Here it is, for your fabulous selfie-know-how edumacation.

Enjoy.

______________________________

Your Mobile Phone Camera And You
Originally posted December 21, 2011

Ok, look. Facebook finally got me. Like a hungry, persistent mountain lion, it pounced on me, grabbed me by the throat and took me down.

Anyhow.

As I’ve been spending more time in the cavernous Facebook labyrinth, and seeing a lot of pages and a lot of faces, I’m starting to notice a trend.

Remember the infamous MySpace pose? That’s the self-photo taken with the camera above you, eyes looking up but chin down. Sometimes called the Princess Diana pose. Yeah, I think we’ve all seen plenty of that pose.

But that’s so over now.

The pose I’m seeing a lot of these days is the in-the-car self-photo.

Yup. Hold the phone way out to one side and snap a shot of yourself in the driver’s seat.

Post it.

Magic.

Look, I fully understand the need to look good in our Facebook profile. An old boyfriend or girlfriend from college might show up or something. None of us wants to look all haggity.

Believe me, I get it.

So what’s with the in-the-car profile photo and how can we make it better?

I will now dig into my deep and (not so) closely held secrets of the art of photography and perform a public service.

Ya wanna know why you like that photo of yourself in the car?

Two words: Natural light.

We ALL look better in natural light. When you are in your car, good ol’ fashioned sun comes pouring in through all the windows. Real sunlight makes you look hot.

I’m not kidding.

So assuming you want to have a nice photo of yourself on your Facebook page without your steering wheel in the background, and assuming you are all alone or too shy to ask for help, and assuming you want or need some advice on self portraiture…..


Here’s Karen Fayeth’s tips for a smoking hot profile self-photo:


Either get outside or if you have a nice sunny spot in your house filled with natural light, go there.

Next, what would be a nice background? How about a wall with a fun pattern or a wood fence with character? Sit down and lean back against it. Sit up straight! No slouchy here because we’ll all see it.

Make sure the sun isn’t shining directly in your face. That will make you squinty. Then make sure the sun isn’t directly behind you. That will make you halo-y and a dark shadow. It works best if it’s a sunny day but you are in shadow, or the sun isn’t directly on you. An overcast day is even better. That diffused light is majorly hot.

Hold your phone camera out at about eye level and a little off center. If you hold it above your eyes, you’ll get that eyes-up MySpace look. If you hold it below, now you are looking down and no one likes a double chin in their photo.

Seriously, no one.

Keep your chin up but not too high. Keep it at normal level as if you are looking straight forward.

Keep your elbow slightly bent. Don’t straight arm it or you will see your arm in the photo. Here’s an example.

Relax your face. Don’t force the smile. Try thinking about something that makes you laugh or smile naturally. Think about that time your buddy slipped and cartwheeled on the ice. Or think about how much your love your kid/spouse/dog/whatever. Something that tickles your funnybone and makes your eyes twinkle.

Look into the lens. Don’t look at the screen. Don’t look off to the side. Don’t look up. Don’t look down. Locate the actual camera lens on your phone and then look that lens square in its little lens eye and snap the shot.

And then another. And another and another and another and another.

Don’t be shy about taking A LOT of photos. You are looking for one good one among the many that make you go “uh, no”. It’s every photographer’s little secret. Take lots of shots.

Wait! Don’t just upload that one photo you like right from your mobile phone to your Facebook page!!!

Pause.

Look at it on a bigger screen. Download it or email it to yourself and look on a regular monitor.

Check out the photo and crop it down if you want. Look in the background ALL AROUND you in the photo to be sure there isn’t something weird going on back there. (be especially alert for dogs pooping, kids barfing, etc. Check out This is Photobomb for a sense of what I’m putting down here. That site is totally not safe for work.)

Then, if you are happy with the photo, go ahead and make it your profile photo.

And wait for the compliments to roll in.

Oh, and one last piece of advise: Fer chrissakes, no duckface!

No photos in the mirror either.



Sooo many things wrong with this technique. Good light though!




Image found all over the web. If it’s yours I’ll gladly take it down or give credit, at your request. Thanks! I found it here.




Stymied

I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write.

Yes, that’s a good old-fashioned trick now isn’t it?

What to write about when there is nothing to write about?

Oh, sure, there are an infinite number of things to write about, but all of those fabulous ideas seem to be on the wing. None are alighting on my brain and fingers and soul and pouring ideas into me so I can flow them out onto the keyboard.

Maybe it is because I am too content? Don’t they say really great art comes from pain?

I am just off of a very long and much needed holiday break from work. I have just had lunch. I slept really well last night.

My hair even looks great today.

I’m not kidding. Gaze upon those locks lying in the place I asked them nicely to lay.




Let’s not chat about what I had to do to get a good selfie while at work.
I work in an “open plan” office. Yeah. Just…don’t ask.



Wow. I mean, things are kind of going my way which is GREAT for me but terrible for me the artist.

The only thing grinding my gears today is that I want to write a beautiful, meaningful, magical post.

I want to say some words that I read later and think, “I wrote that?” and then go, “Yeeaaah, I WROTE THAT!”

That is so cool. I love that feeling. It’s a dopamine rush like no other.

But alas what I have so far today is a lot of words about making words and none of those words transcending the screen and taking flight.

Poop.

Yes. I said poop. And I am not sorry.

Ok, over 250 words into this thing and I need to save it before this goes into the mental rubbish bin and I shrug my shoulders and give up and eat another cookie.

Oh, did I forget to mention cookies? Yeah, I have those today too.

I mean can this day GET any better? Not by much, honestly.

So shall I write words of joy and sing songs of happy?

It seems readers like so much better to read tales of woe and pain and hubris and pathos.

Went and got all Greek on ya there, didn’t I?

So maybe I break the mold today. Separate from the pack. Do something different.

Something that means something to me today.

Hello. Welcome to Tuesday, the Fourteenth of January.

I am in an exceptionally good mood today, and being happy makes for uninteresting reading, but for a very knockout day.

I feel so good I want to share it. May your Tuesday be as awesome as possible as well.

Break from the pack and REALLY enjoy your day. Do it just to spite the haters, the grumblers and the cranky pants of this world.

I dare you.






Image of me, by me, Copyright Me, 2014. Don’t go mucking around with my photo of me, damn it! Taken with an iPhone5, the Camera+ App and loads of vanity. But look at that hair!

Goldfish image found here.




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