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Monday, June 24, 2013

P52: Week 24 - A good weekend of shooting...

This was a much better week, despite feeling homesick. At last I've started to feel comfortable in the new job. Actually had a few days where I didn't have to bring work home. So by Friday, I was charged up and ready for the weekend and anxious to get out and take pictures. The last few months with the job search and move, I just haven't felt very creative. The desire to shoot was there, but I honestly was not 'seeing' anything. Photographers' block? Or just plains exhaustion? Probably a combination of both.

Sunflower
(taken outside the South Park
Health Food store-AKA 'DQ')

But this week I was ready! But where to go? I spent some time looking online for some destination, but was coming up blank. Then, I found a photo club in Charlotte!  They were having a photo walk the next day at the Lansford Canal state park in Catawba, SC. Only an hour away. Sweet! Signed up and made my plans for Saturday. I left with what should have been 1/2 hour to spare. Nope. GPS and the address from the website, led me to an empty field. ARGH! After asking around, I found I was only 6 miles from where I wanted to be...Welcome to the South! After breaking the sound barrier on some back country roads, I made it in time. I met up with the group ( a great group of people by the way) and off we hiked.

God Knows Where, Catawba, SC.
The goal of the hike was to shoot spider lilys. But it turns out that the peak season ended the week before. We did spot a patch but it was out in the middle of the river. Too far for any of our lenses, and too deep to wade out. So the group trudged on in search of something else to shoot. I decided to give it the ol' college try. I came to get pics of spider Lily's and I wasn't giving up that easy. I was going to find some way to get out across the river. I could try to wade, but what about my gear? I've been known to be accident prone and didn't want to drop it in the drink. What's an Em to do?


So I took off my sneakers, and crossed some small riverlets to a little island. Still not close enough. Waded out a bit more, but too deep. I turned and spotted a few lillies downstream not too far from shore. So I went back and trudged thru the woods, stepping on thorns and sharp rocks, got caught up on vines, etc. I even brushed up against a burning bush. Man they sting.. I haven't had that happen since my days searching for my golf ball in the woods on the 9th hole at Pheasant Ridge. Yeah, that happened once or twice. But I digress. Anyway, I'm out here stumbling thru the brambles, walking over bones.. (yeah Bones-Do I hear Banjo's playing in the woods?)

It was at that point that I said to myself "They build paths for a reason"..and yet I'm out here in the middle of who-knows-where, bleeding, and stinging. That's ok...I was on a mission! Anyway, I made it to where I only had to wade out 20' from shore just past my knees. And got this:

Spider Lilys *
* No equipment got damaged during the shooting of this picture...

I never did find my group again, but we messaged back and forth online later in the day, sharing pics and stories. I was happy to find a good group to join!


Sunday, was a day of rest. Drinking coffee and reading on the deck, followed by 2 hours of ironing. (Ok, not all rest), photo editing, and blog writing. This week there was all this talk on the news about a Supermoon on Sunday. So I planned on shooting that Sunday night. I have some software from TPE.Com (The Photographers Ephemeris), that shows you where the sun and moon will rise and set. It helps you plan your photo shoot, where to stand for such and such a shot, etc). So I planned on going uptown and getting the moon coming up over the skyscrapers.
Duke Energy Building
Moonrise was at 8:55pm, so I planned on getting there at 7:30 an scoping out a good spot. Then, while watching the news they said "Hey, did you see that super moon last night?" It was at 1:55 AM. COME ON! Are you serious? Did I miss it? It was the night before. I went uptown anyway, and waited...And waited...And waited. Too cloudy. No moon at all! But I wandered around and took pics of the town anyway.


I headed home around 9:45pm, and 1/2 way home, this gold bit of light peaked out from the clouds. I figured I just go home and shoot it from my deck. But the clouds were back out and there was nothing to see till about midnite. And it wasn't super at all. Just plain average. But it gave me blog material!

Ok, it was sorta Super!
It was a good weekend of shooting, and I'm glad for that. And now, back to work planning my next shoot.
Have a great week gang!
Em
Where we'll watch the Patriots win on Nov. 18th

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

P52 Week 23 : My Out Of Body Experience...

With the exception of weddings and funerals, I haven't been to church in about 20 years. That is until yesterday. I kept looking up, expecting to be struck by lightning.  Organized religion just doesn't do it for me. Like politics, I just want people to keep their opinions to themselves. Or at least stop trying to cram it down my throat. I have my reasons. And I do believe in HIM. And I believe that if you are a good person, that should be good enough. But I've been told I'm going to HELL if I don't BELIEVE. But it is that kind of thinking that just turns me off. In any event. I haven't been since my kids were very young. That was until yesterday.


 
My new boss asked me 2 weeks ago week if I would like to go to church. And I said, "No thank you. I'm not a church-goer." And he asked me again this past Friday. And I said "No Thank you". And he immediately asked again. I thought about it a second, and thought "New company, new boss.. He is asking me to join him. I figured that it wouldn't kill me, and might do me some good. So I said "Sure, where is your church?" He told me, and we planned on meeting for the 11am service on Sunday.

On Saturday, I went hiking along Lake Wiley. First time I've really been out in about 2 weeks since I slipped and pulled my leg. It was an easy 2 mile hike, and I spent a lot of time stopping and taking pictures. I know it is all Gods handiwork. And I appreciate and marvel at the beauty all around me.


I really enjoyed this hike because I'd stop and talk to other people. Or they'd stop and look at what I was shooting. People are SO friendly here. I love it! Folks here don't seem to be in such a rush, and they love to chat. Despite this lovely day, I still said to myself many times "I can't believe I have to go to church tomorrow".

Anyway, Sunday came, and I dreaded going...Thought about backing out. But my word is my word. So I went. And got to the Church and saw about 500 cars..Ug. I was there early. Too early perhaps because I kept thinking. 'Go home..." But I managed to get out of my car and go in. And again, people were very friendly. The church was broken up into 2 big rooms, and I couldn't find my boss. So I sat by myself, and chatted with the folks around me. And you know, the service was ok. I enjoyed the sermon. But, church as a whole wasn't doing anything for me. Anyway,  I went. I survived. It didn't kill me. And that's that.


Now a couple of hours later, I went out for a bike ride. Saw a park on Google earth called Freedom Park in Charlotte. It was 5 miles from me, so I decided to really test my leg and go for a ride. Now when I got to this place, I really thought I was having an out of body experience. There were so many walks of life in this park. Whites, African Americans, Spanish, Asian, straight, Gay. Everyone just getting along, and playing, picnic-ing, bike riding, walking, flying kites, and laughing. This was what heaven was to me. Just everyone getting along and living life. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. 



I had a good time riding around and exploring. I followed a trail for a few miles, and it happened to lead me to the park with the view of the skyline, that I showed a week or so ago. Hmm, I'm really getting to know the area! 


After a bit of exploring, I figured I'd better get back home. I checked GPS on my phone and saw a shorter way back home than to retrace my steps.  So, I headed on my merry way. Every now and then I'd stop and check the GPS. And voila! Phone dead..Em Lost. No one around...Good grief. Guess I don't know the area as well as I thought I did. Well, it took me about an hour and a half to find my way home. Good thing about the trip was that half of it was down hill. Unfortunately, the other half was up hill. But the best part was that I lost 4 pounds on my ride! I had gone about 15 miles, and the leg felt good. Woo hoo!

Anyway...It was an awesome weekend. Oh, by the way...I made sure to tell my boss that I was at church yesterday and figured that he must have been in the other room. He said "Oh, I didn't go. How was it?"
SON OF A B....! ;-)

So, unless I get struck by lightning, or fall down another hill, or fall off my bike, or nearly poke my eye out (Oh yeah hon...I didn't tell you about that one..did I?) , then I'll see you back here next week!

Have a simply beautiful week!
Em

PS. Does this ball make me look fat?





Monday, June 10, 2013

P52 Week 23 - Much Ado about Nothing...

When last we left our hero, he was all hobbled up after having a typical Swanson day..this time by twisting his leg up bad. Well, it has been getting better but it was a loong week, not being able to get out and get some exercise...Personal diagnosis is that I hyper-extended my knee (way to far)..
Other than going to work every day, I did manage to get out a bit this weekend. I probably over did it, but I HAD to get some errands done. What did I have to do???
Well I HAD to find a guitar store (Howren Music)  and get some new strings for my guitar...I haven't picked it up much since my Canon took up my free time. Felt real good to plug it in and play..


And I HAD to go find a camera store (Biggs Camera)...Didn't buy anything, but now I know where it is! It wasn't a wasted trip, because there was a park across the street and I had a semi unobstructed view of the downtown skyline. 

Not a great shot, but for once there weren't telephone wires in the way. 
And note to Sue (who I miss badly and can't wait for her to get here)...there is a farmers market next to Biggs Camera, so we can go shopping together on the weekends. :-)
The final killer of Saturday was going to Walmart to get a cheap lamp to tide me over until the rest of our stuff makes its way to NC. That bit of shopping wore me out...So much so that I fell asleep early that night in my easy chair...with the lamp on...Woke up early Sunday. Tried unsuccessfully to go to bed but said the heck with it and went out early in search of something to shoot.
Went down to Piedmont row near my office and found lots of cafes with open tables...You can never find a seat during the week. But on a Sunday at 6 am, you can have your pick of tables...


'Course, nothing is open that early, but you can get a seat!
I really went down to this area because of the buildings all around a courtyard and fountain..It's really pretty and I wanted to try a 'Little Planet' kind of panorama...Didn't turn out that great, but it was my first attempt.

.
If you want to see how to do this, check out this link at PictureCorrect

As a last shot, I just wanted to show the crazy clouds that rolled in the other night. I was picking up some Chinese food at my new favorite restaurant. 1 minute there were Blue skies and 5 mins later, the skies were BLACK! I was afraid I wasn't going to make it home before the clouds opened up. But I had to stop and get some shots! I'm especially glad that I stopped because I found the ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE (or so they claim).


I'll check that out next weekend and see if it is my new 2nd favorite restaurant. I hope my leg heels fast because I'm going to put on 10 pounds very quickly at this rate. 

Ok, gotta get some real work done now. Lot of deadlines due tomorrow at the office...

Have an awesome week gang. Miss you!
Em




Monday, June 3, 2013

P52: Weeks 20-22: Father Forgive me...

Or rather, Islanders forgive me..it has been 21 days since my last blog-fession...

   So, how you do-in? What's new? Didja think I died or dropped off the face of the earth? Well, I have had some things to do and unfortunately photography was not at the top of the list. Hope to resolve that issue over the coming months. Anyway, I'm down in the land of warm people and warm weather. Down where the state's motto  is "Esse Quam Videri" (Latin for "To be, rather than to seem").  Pretty cool I think!

Welcome to NC, Em!
  Let's see, where last our hero left you, he was leaving his working home of 15 years at DSCI. After that came a few crazy days of packing...Loading up a Budget truck, towing the Car, and moving to Charlotte! I headed off for the wild frontier on the 16th, drove 12 hours and stayed in Virginia at my buddy Russ's place. Then on the 17th, I headed off for the final 6 hour leg of the journey. And it somehow took 10. Par for the course for me. Let's see: 2 hours in traffic due to a broken down car (on the other side of the highway!), and 2 hours because I could not find my hotel! GPS would not help! Tried calling for directions, but a language barrier between myself and the Indian hotel manager proved useless. I had to stop and ask a cop for directions.The cop helped me out. Thank you Charlotte PD! Turns out my printout of the hotel address was smudged and I was reading it wrong. My bad. And my apologies to everyone at Garmin GPS, and the Charlotte street sign workers,  who I cursed profusely. :-)

Yeah...Welcome, Indeed..... :-(
  Anyway, I arrived at the hotel late on the 18th, and passed out. And after getting a good nights sleep, I spent Saturday filling up a 10x16 storage unit,


then going to my least favorite place in the world (Any grocery store),

Ok, Maybe grocery shopping isn't that bad after all!

and then finding where my new office was. It was 4 miles away. On Sunday, I looked for an apartment. Problem is that there are thousands in Charlotte. And they all look good from the outside. This was going to take some time. Matter of fact, I was thinking it could be a full time job. I had a couple of potentials, but everywhere I drove, I saw one that looked better.  I was thinking I may be at my hotel longer than I planned. On Monday the 20th, I started the new job at Agdata . Whirlwind few days for sure!

Your's truly outside the new office.
   Anyway, I am very happy where I work. I'm on a team of about 12 people, and I'm amazed at the collaboration, sense of teamwork, and kindness that I'm surrounded by. I'm in a good place! Of course, it's only been 2 weeks, but I've got a great feeling about the company.  A new buddy from work suggested an apartment complex downtown where he used to live. I checked it out, and loved it! There were 2 vacancies. I applied and got in!  On the 24th, one week after heading out from New Hampshire, I was in a new home. 1 1/2 miles from work!! Sure beats the 50 miles I used to have to drive in NH! Only had to drive 1000 miles to get to this point, but it was well worth it! I'm right in the middle of all the action in the South Park section of Charlotte. Now I just need to get my honey down here. Sue is back home trying to sell our house and trailer.(Anyone interested in living in Gilford or Weare?)

The New Digs (2nd Floor)



   What else have I been doing? Well in my spare time, I've been buying furniture (Slept on a sleeping bag on the floor for a week), and moving stuff from storage to the apartment. I've been riding my bike, and walking every day. Trying to get in some sort of shape before the HOT weather gets here...And before the HOT wife moves down...I've gone to University of North Carolina-Charlotte to look at their botanical gardens.

At the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens
I've been to Speed Street in downtown Charlotte where they hold outdoor concerts in honor of the Coca Cola 600 Nascar Race.

Redneck Mecca.. The NASCAR Hall Of Fame

Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick (And Host) at Speed Street

And I've gone hiking. Actually, the hiking was yesterday at The Pinnacle at Crowders Mountain State Park. Took an hour to hike UP the mountain, and 2 1/2 to get DOWN...Why? Well I slipped on some leaves, did a split, and think I pulled or tore every muscle in my leg. I could actually feel (Maybe even heard, the ripping). Don't think it was tendons, because I'd be screaming, right? Anyway, it hurt and I was scared. I found a stick and hobbled down. I'm feeling better today, thank you very much. Funny part was, when I was leaving, I heard some woman tell her husband "Now be careful and don't hurt yourself". And he replied "I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself". I went over and told him, "Yeah that's what I said to my wife when I told her what I was doing....Now I have to call her and tell her I hurt my leg". We both chuckled, and I limped over to my car and started the long hour ride home.Not chuckling any more...
   So now I'm on Advil and an ice packs, and I've had to cancel my Barn dancing lessons for tonite...Shucks.

Eagle soaring over the Pinnacle
The Pinnacle at Crowders Mountain State Park
Well, that pretty much brings you up to date on what the ol' Em-ster's been up to. With any luck, I'll stay out of mischief and be back next week for another thrilling episode of  "For the Love of God, what the heck has Em gone and done this week?"

Stay tuned!
Em