Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 214: Heading Back into the Drink

OK, I've decided. There's more of a learning curve for diving (as it should be) than I expected, but I really want to do this. One of the things I really like about scuba diving is that it's actually DOING something. It's not just another window into others' lives.

I've worked out my own "Scuba Diving Remediation Plan" and am going to repeat the pool portion of the certification program before I do the open dives again. I may not be able to do the open dives this fall (at least not around here :) )

But part of my remediation plan means my knee has to get better. I went to my MD and he said I have a meniscal tear. Meniscus schmiskus! He gave me a set of exercises, which I've started, and I'm hoping to head back to the pool next week for snorkeling back and forth, back and forth, during lap swims. Once I think I can do it, I'll start water aerobics again.

And the pool portion of the class is going to involve my driving to Fargo (about 70 miles away) Sept 4, 5th and 6th.

Maybe I won't be able to do it. But I'll find out by life letting me know rather than second guessing this and just saying "I can't."

Anybody else watching shark week on TV this week? Lots of cool scuba diving!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 212: The Road Back Home from Long Lake

The area around Long Lake, which is near Lake Itasca, MN, is so beautiful. Had we been there at night, we would likely have heard loons.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 211: Roadside Oddity

Just another roadside oddity. As Doug and I drove away from the lake, heading back to the hotel and ice for my knee, we stopped occasionally for a roadside photo. I couldn't quite walk to get into position to change angles, but we were entertained by the interesting things along the way. My sweet DH was willing to stop anywhere I asked! I have no clue what this is. . . it could be farm equipment. . . . it could be something all welded together to be some kind of art sculpture.

Thank you, everyone, for the suggestions and perspectives yesterday on my Scuba Fiasco. Now, I'm thinking along the lines of IF I were to pursue certification, what's my Remediation Plan. I know I wouldn't just sign up for another open water dive; I'd want to do a few things to move me closer to being more comfortable with this.

P.S. Don't you just hate it when you try to type. . . and you have the hiccups?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 210: Knowing When to Fold 'Em (Scuba)

Things did not turn out as I'd hoped at my Scuba open water dive this weekend, and I'm doing some soul-searching and serious thinking about what I want to do.

This is Small Potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but I have to level with myself about what's realistic and wise when you're just a week or two shy of 55 years old. And live in a land-locked state with infrequent chances to even be where scuba diving would be available.

Doug and I went to Long Lake this weekend and I was pretty excited about this part of the dive training. It was to be the first time out of the pool (other than the Mexico trip), with 4 dives in the lake. I'd worked hard on reviewing written materials, having the technical details down in my mind, doing water aerobics, and doing laps in the pool with the snorkel, mask and fins. I even watched videos of some of the skills on You-tube to ease my way into some competence with this.

Long Lake, MN Look at all this gear!

You would not believe how hard it is to get these wetsuits on!

Putting on the fins is a two person, coordinated, effort.

That's me to the right of the center. Me and many, many pounds of gear.

The instructor is trying to help me establish neutral bouyancy and get the correct amount of weight added to my gear. He's literally standing on my feet while I fall back under water.

Snorkeling to the float; I'm in the bottom right. Already, I'm having trouble with the position of my snorkel, the bouyancy of my wetsuit, and water leaking into my mask as I mess with the snorkel.

This is where my attempted descent and undoing occurred.

But I was really thrown by the wetsuit and its level of bouyancy. Snorkeling out to the float in the lake felt very unstable. But then I really struggled with the descent. Once you let all the air out of your bouyancy device (a jacket with air in it), you're suppose to sink. I wasn't sinking. And my fins kept floating up behind me, and I compounded the problem by floundering around with my fins (which makes you go up and not down), and somehow also flooding my mask. At this point, I started to panic, couldn't get my mask cleared and kept swallowing water, and then surfaced.

I told the instructor that maybe scuba just really isn't for me after all. The instructor, who is very good, was reassuring and willing to help me calm down and try again, or take a break on shore and he'd help me individually with a descent. He later reminded me that once I got below the surface, the water pressure would have compressed the suit enough that bouyancy wouldn't have been so problematic; it's while you're on the surface that you struggle the most with controlling movements. So I headed back to shore, but didn't know the proper way to exit the water. I got very close to the shore and stood up with all the gear on (a 40 lb tank, and about 30 lbs in weights!, as well as the rest of the gear.)

I felt this snapping in my knee and it twisted out. At this point, I pretty much knew my diving was over for the day. But as I sat on shore waiting for my husband to come back and the rest of the group and instructors to return, I thought more about this. The lake water was not anything like what I'd hoped. The visibility was really bad; it was hard to even see the person right in front of me. And realistically, these would be the lakes I'd get to scuba in maybe once or twice each summer.

Maybe once a year (although likely less) I'd get to go on a trip to a more tropical place, and see all these really cool fish and ocean life that I saw while I was in Mexico. You don't need extremely bouyant wet suits in Mexico. But I live in North Dakota!

Doug doesn't scuba, (and I was a Terrible salesperson for him this weekend!). I have this fantasy of getting to go diving with my kids (2 of them have gotten certification), but how often would they even be able to go diving or take trips as they launch into their young adult lives? Or want to with their mom!

And I actually like snorkeling more in some ways. The only thing I really like more about scuba, strangely, is getting to play with the equipment, and maybe the "boasting rights." (as in, "when I was on the bottom of the ocean, I saw a creature that has a mustache just like yours!") Ok, maybe not that.

Which brings me to this point as well. I really don't NEED to know how to scuba dive or have this as a hobby. Scuba diving is really interesting and exciting, but so are other things. Like photography. And there's plenty of equipment I can play with in photography! And if I don't do scuba diving, I'll have more of a chance to buy photography stuff. And at 55, how many more years could I do this anyway? I know that in diving, the 50s are actually a fairly frequent point at which people learn to do this (kids launching and all), but in ND??????

But sometimes I want my life to be less "Andy (Andrea?) of Mayberry" but not quite "Biker Chick" (with apologies to Biker Chicks).

Interest in diving did get me going to the pool to do water aerobics, doing the lap swimming with the fins, snorkel and mask, and I'll probably sign up for adult swimming lessons in the fall (because maybe, after all, I really should know this as well :) And if next summer, I really, really still want to do this, I can start the pool portion of diving over and make sure I really have the skills down before heading out.

What are your thoughts about all this? Oh, and by the way, my DH took these photos. . . .

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 209: They're HERE!

(Quick, someone cue the Jaw's soundtrack) The zucchini are coming!

Lulling us into complacency by their nice, small size. And Doug and I are in Bemidji this weekend, while I do my scuba open water diving for the PADI certification. Who knows what kind of Multiplying and comingling and growing these unsupervised zucchini will be doing while we're away. . . .

Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 208: More of Dianna's Roses

I decided to rework these photos and tone down the "pop". I like them better, but I think their actual color is still somewhere between yesterday's and today's. I added a bit of a crackle filter to the third.

And here are some of Dianna's roses. . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day 207: Day Lillies

Do these seem overly-popped to you? Day Lillies from the garden. . . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 206: North Dakota Summer Sunsets

Sunsets can be quite beautiful in ND, and this isn't even harvest yet, when the particles in the air make for even more intense sunsets.

Just some cool clouds as the sunset. I drove to the edge of town, but didn't get there quickly enough and the sun was already rapidly dipping beyond the horizon.


With a vivid action, slightly cropped, and some sharpening:

Vivid action, slightly cropped, sharpening, and a bit of texture added:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 205: Various Processing of Fountain

I felt like playing with actions today, so here's a picture of a little fountain by a restaurant in our town. I used the EZ action Saddle on the first one. . . .

. . . Pioneer Woman's Fresh and Colorful action on the second. . .
. . . and EZ action Acid Wash on the third.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 203: Before the Rain, During the Rain, After the Rain

This is the Farmer's Market in our town, and where we sold Rhubarb Pies this weekend for a fundraiser.

Unfortunately, we just had a lowly center spot with with no shelter. And the rain came just after we set up. But I did have an umbrella in my car! And I rigged the umbrella up against the easel.

All the pies got put under the tables to protect them, and eventually Doug went home quickly to get large black garbage bags to cover them with for more protection.

This is a shot from under the umbrella. Kind of dreary. . . no one to buy the pies, and see the drops of water coming off the edge of the umbrella?

And back and forth we went, pulling the pies out, putting them back under the table, all morning long!
We sold 37 of the 38 pies! I'm planning on having a piece of pie tonight! With vanilla ice cream, of course.

But I have a question for all of you. . . I started with these photos as RAW photos, and then applied the RGB color profile when I opened them with CS3, I did an initial defog, then a color pop and sharpen. After this and saving them to a jpeg file, I converted the color profile to sRGB, resized and saved for web.

In the past, I haven't been saving to web with the sRGB color mode (profile?) And I hadn't been defogging initially. I find this all rather confusing but am trying to learn. .. . . What processes do all of you follow?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day 202: MMMMmmmm, Pie! Lots of Pie!

38 Rhubarb Pies! Is there no end to the talents of this man? He baked 38 pies, prepared by women in our church, on Friday.

These were pies that got sold today at the Farmer's Market in town, to raise money for a youth mission trip in August.

Tomorrow, I'll post a few photos from the Farmer's Market. Very few, because it poured rain while we were out there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 199: Dianna's Rose

About 4 years ago, Dianna planted a rose bush in our yard. It generally produces only about 5 or 6 roses each year, often just one at a time, but they're quite beautiful. And I love how much Dianna watches for the roses to appear. She's generally not that interested in the flowers in our yard. . . except for this one. Sometimes it reminds me of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and the single rose that grows in this old city lot.

And I wanted to share this writing by Maya Anjelou:

enough money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own even if she never wants
to or needs to...
something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her
dreams wants to see her in an hour...
a youth she's content to leave behind....
a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
retelling it in her old age....
a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black
lace bra...
one friend who always makes her laugh... and one who
lets her cry...
a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone
else in her family...
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a
recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored...
a feeling of control over her destiny...
how to fall in love without losing herself..
when to try harder... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY...
that she can't change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..
that her childhood may not have been perfect...but its
what she would and wouldn't do for love or more...
how to live alone... even if she doesn't like it...
whom she can trust,
whom she can't,
and why she shouldn't
take it personally...
where to go...
be it to her best friend's kitchen table...
or a charming inn in the woods...
when her soul needs soothing...
what she can and can't accomplish in a day...
a month...and a year..."
Maya Anjelou

And one last note: check out the little campaign video I added to the top right. It irreverantly pokes fun at them all, and I couldn't resist it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 198: Barb's Terrible Horrible Very Bad No Good Day

Some of you have asked about how my sister-in-law Barb is donig since her surgery, and I'm very happy to report that she continues to improve! I described Barb's day back in May when she came to Brian's graduation as "horrible", but something you should know about Barb is what an incredible optimist she is! Dollars-to-donuts, she'd see the positive in her being hospitalized and finding out she needed the aortic valve replacement. Me? I'd grump and whine with the best of 'em! Barb's been going to cardiac rehabilitation twice a week and gradually noting the steady, but of course, too slow, move toward improvement. This is the same sister-in-law who was on our nightmarish houseboat vacation with us last August--- when my brother hit a rock, and we had to be rescued from the boat in the dark by Mad Max. Some say Doug and I should be avoided on vacations, but I want to point out that nothing bad happened to Brian, Dianna and I this past May in Mexico!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 196: The Joy of Family

Doug and I live far away from extended family. We don't get to see our relatives very often, so when there is a chance to see them, it's quite an event for us! We think about it for months, anticipating it, and then just grieve when it's over, knowing that we aren't likely to see these loved ones again very soon.

So, when one of our kids does something like graduate from college, of course we're proud that they graduate. But secretly, and selfishly, it's really a Big Deal for us because sometimes we can coax relatives to come to where we're at! (And trust me, getting them to come to ND over the years hasn't been exactly the most compelling, luring, vacation hot-spot in the universe! Ask MaryAnn someday about the mosquito invasion that threatened to abduct her entire family.)

Anyway, MaryAnn, my sister, Bill, and their two children, Joyce and Andy, came to Brian's graduation in Missouri.

Here's another scrapbook layout of a few pictures of the visit. (Click on it to make it larger.) I'm wanting to make sure I really have some of these scrapbooking skills down in CS3, so repeated the Now We're Rockin' lesson 2 again with just a few different papers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 195: Pick Me!

Hooray!!! The weather pixie is back!!!!! She was gone for a good month or so because of a fire at the server site. Now you can see how chilly it is here today for July! And we had 45 mph wind gusts.

Asman font; KPertiet Papers, pin & overlay; JSprague grunge frame & 4 square template

This is from lesson 2 of Now We're Rockin', a digiscrapping class at Digiscrapping is so much fun, and such a great step-by-step guide through it is through Jessica's classes.

I'm repeating my lessons in the class to learn CS3, and I'm really liking CS3! Now (other than the price!) I'm wondering why I took so long to learn it!

Does anyone work with Bridge rather than the organizer in Adobe Elements? I haven't looked at Bridge enough yet, but I'm wondering if it also has a tagging function. Anyone know?

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 194: Graduation and CS3

I just downloaded CS3 and am experimenting with it. It's going to take me awhile to learn all its cool features, and so I'm repeating Jessica Sprague's Now We're Rockin' digiscrapping class, watching the videos that are using CS3 rather than Elements. This is a digiscrap page using a picture from Brian's graduation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 193: Summer Bounty

Doug's amazing garden! Look at all this cool stuff he's planted! We'll get to eat lots of these wonderful things over the next several months.

I know we'll have 5 different types of tomatoes, kale, lettuce, 4 different types of peppers, oregano, cilantro, carrots, radishes, leeks, basil, 3 different types of thyme, onions, chives, rosemary, and of course, zuchinni.
Unlike last year, I'm always just slightly skeptical now when he hands me something and says "taste this." Last year, after a particularly bitter morsel of something leafy, after I was done spitting it out, I asked him what it was.

"I don't know. I was hoping you'd know. It was just growing in the garden from last year, so I left it."

We're pretty sure it was a weed, so now, I wait till he tastes things first before I eat them! :) Right in the front of the bottom photo is some lavendar. . . we won't eat this, it's just pretty and smells wonderful!

And thank you for all the wonderful comments yesterday; I really, really appreciate it! Most of the time I'm kind of, well. . . . invisible!