I'm obsessed with taking photos of the local wildlife, particularly birds. So I'm going to begin posting the story behind the photos as well. Because many photos involved me yelling, "Stop!" and maniacally bursting from the car, camera in hand, fumbling with the on-switch and zoom, tripping over rocks and poison oak, in hot pursuit of feathered subjects who are, understandably, now long gone. I imagine the birds have become accustomed to my antics, rolling their eyes when they see me coming. They seem to be on a mission to thwart the crazy camera lady, taunting me with their, uh, ability to fly. Away.
I am admittedly limited by my own bumbling inexperience, not to mention my camera. But still, it's tricky to capture the essence of living, moving, flying things, with half a second shutter-lag. But the Panasonic Lumix does have 10X zoom, so that's pretty fun for the time being. Our first bit of extra cash has already been earmarked for a new battery and lens for Boyfriend's Digital Rebel. Maybe by then my skills will match the abilities of the tool.
Look, everyone - here comes the point of this post!
Hummingbirds are some of my favorite subjects - they're tiny, living, breathing jewels. They're also about 20 times zippier than your average bird, so it is a rare treat to catch them with my camera. I usually settle for simply watching them from our screen porch.
A few weeks ago Boyfriend and I discovered a new way to interact with our little community of buzzing, aerial artists. That particular evening, we filled our hummingbird feeder at prime feeding time. Boyfriend was swarmed by the usual crowd of 10-15 little jewels on his way out to hang it up. So he hung out and I took this video. In the past we've seen them hit the ground, the screens and each other as they duke it out for a place on the feeder. Watching from the screen porch is one thing, standing in the midst is another experience entirely.
View the gallery of stills here.
Boyfriend: "I don't think this smells right - will you tell me if this steak smells okay?"
Me: "You want me to smell your meat?"
Me: "No, but I will still love you, despite your affection for stinky cheese and smelly meat."
Have you ever really thought about what you'd consider to be a few of your most prized possessions? And I don't mean your kids, your dog, your hubby or wife. I mean stuff. And before you get all high and mighty about not really needing any stuff, really think about it. There's got to be at least an item or two that you never thought you'd have to give up, even in the worst of conditions, isn't there?
I just wrote that animals don't count, but many of you know that I had to give up my young horse last month, due to my finanacial situation. That was tough, but I'm holding on to the idea that I may just get her back someday, so it's okay. But shortly after her departure, still more cash was needed to prevent our bank accounts from collapsing, so I began the torturous liquidation of what I'd thought of as my most prized possessions - the most treasured pieces of remaining horse tack and equipment I had left. My saddle, my show bridle, and my show harness. All hand picked for their quality and uniqueness, the things I thought I would be handing down to my children and grandchildren. Because one of them might be born with the horse bug, like me.
But alas, it's just stuff, right?
I need to preface this post with the fact that I've been making an effort to be more open with my parents ever since my divorce "came out of left field". Same with my decision to quit training horses and start designing websites.
But it's a struggle, and like any overachieving, first-born child, I want them to be proud of me. I want them to love me. I want them to think I'm great. And I want them to know who I really am. But I'm not always sure all of those things can be reconciled.
"So, Mom, I want to show you a project I've been working on, a new website." I'm nervous, about to reveal EVEN MORE OF THE REAL LISA to my mom. No turning back now...
"Okay, you want me to go there now?"
"Yeah, are you near the computer?"
"Uh huh. How do I get there?"
"Go to the top of your web browser with your cursor and type in Girlbert dot com. G-I-R-L-B-E-R-T dot com. It's a blog, so I'm going to use it to write about things that are important to me. And I have a recipe section so that I can put recipes online, and readers can submit recipes, hopefully, I'll collect..."
"Oh, that's Heather Armstrong."
"Wh-what?" She was browsing the front page of my site, where I had just posted a picture of myself and my favorite blogger at her book signing. But I'm not following just how my midwestern, non-web-browsing, baby-boomer mother knows about Heather Armstrong.
"Did you get her book?" Or her book, It Sucked and Then I Cried.
"Did you get your brother one? Because he can't find one in London. He can't even order one from over there."
"Yes - did he tell you about her?"
"Yeah. But we heard her on WGN radio, too. She's pretty funny. Tells it like it is."
Huh. Lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of This Whole Internet Website Blog Thing. Dooce found my mom.
Thursday, Boyfriend and I (okay, mostly me) got a wild hare and decided to drive down to LA to a book signing by my favorite blogger, Heather Armstrong of dooce.com. Reading her blog is actually what inspired my own, and now that things are starting to roll a little bit on girlbert.com, I thought it would be fun to meet her and introduce myself.
I'm such a dork - I may as well have been meeting the Dalai Lama, I was so starstruck. I tried to use the ride down to come up with a good question - Boyfriend kept asking me, "Are you going to ask her anything?" I couldn't come up with a thing, but I figured I'd just tell her I started my own blog, and reading her blog inspired me to do it. I was going to get my picture taken with her and write about it on my blog, it was going to be great!
We arrived at the bookshop just after seven, and the place was packed. Heather was toward the front - I bought her book, then we made our way to the back to get a spot to listen. Oh, good, I'll have time to think of something to ask while standing in line. Suddenly the question-and-answer was over, and she was on her way to the back of the store to sit down and sign books. Wait, I was already there! So there I was, first in line to get my book signed, and I hadn't worked out what I was going to say. Here I was about to meet someone who had inspired me to start writing, to open up about my life, and...
"Are you Erik?"
"Wha - oh - no, I'm not. That's my brother...he actually turned me on to your site a couple of years ago." Brilliant.
"A boy? Wow, I don't have many boys reading my site." Wow, she's really pretty in person...say something!
"Yeah, he really likes it." Genius. Act normal! Make eye contact!
"Well thank you so much for reading, and thank you for coming."
"Thank you so much. Good luck and travel safe." But wait - you forgot to mention the weather, you idiot!
Boyfriend and I rounded the corner and I stopped. "Oh, man, I kinda got all flaky-like."
"Yeah, you kinda did."
"Shoot - I forgot to get my picture with her!"
"Do you want to stand in line again?"
"Kind of...but that's so dumb. And I think I want my own book, too."
"Will you regret it if you don't?"
So we did. We bought another book and stood in line again. And the second time, I got my picture taken, but the dialog wasn't much improved. I did manage to spit out the fact that I had started my own blog, but forgot to mention that I was inspired by her. I think I started to say it, but my brain censored it at some point with, "Shut up! She doesn't care about that. She's probably tired and just wants you to get the hell out of there!"
This is the ongoing battle between my optimistic self and the part of me that wants to curl up on a dark cave somewhere and hide from the world. The world that could judge me, that could think I'm wrong, that I would feel inferior to. Even though the same world could support me and love me, I assume the worst.
So Heather Armstrong is signing her books at a bookstore, she's probably like anyone, humbled and surprised that someone would look up to her and admire her and BUY HER BOOK, of course she's going to be nice to me. And I may as well have just let her kind words lift me up. But I didn't, I assumed that she would judge me and I stumbled fearfully through what could have been a networking opportunity.
So this is exactly what has inspired me to write, that just like Heather, I struggle with things that paralyze me, things that would roll off a normal, sane person. Things that would bounce of a person without crippling her with social anxiety. So I choose to write about it. Because I can't be the only person who's struggled with anxiety, depression and the fallout of a divorce, just like Heather's not the only person who's fought the demons of chronic and post-partum depression. Just like Heather has chosen to share her story, I want to share mine. If only to show myself that I can.