Tag Archives: photography

Looking Ahead Seven Years

It is often said, plan for your future. Everyone is supposed to have a 5-year plan and a 10-year plan. I recently read something that asked where you anticipate your life being in seven years.  

Strange number, but what the heck. What will your life be like in 2027? What do I anticipate for mine?

I know things can change on a moment’s notice. The best laid plans change and before you know it you are doing things you did not anticipate, living in a manner you did not anticipate. Where will the next seven years take me?

LOOKING BACK

I started by thinking back seven years, to 2013.  At that time, I was married, working full time as a paralegal, and my husband, Ron, and I had applied to adopt our granddaughters that had been taken by CPS. 

Between then and now CPS fought the adoption and won, the children were adopted by strangers. My husband developed cancer and lost the battle in December 2015. At that point I thought I would need to remain working full-time until retirement age. My plans included downsizing into a condo or smaller home.

I had begun putting that into motion when in 2019 I had the opportunity to come on board with Paul. I retired out of my full-time job as a paralegal and hit the road.

I now live full-time in a motor home traveling throughout the United States and Canada with Paul. I work part-time ghost-writing blogs and selling my photography online through Fine At America. Paul and I have a YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! about our adventures.

So, where will I be seven years from now? 

LOOKING FORWARD

Seven years from now I hope we still be traveling, but it is possible we may decide to settle somewhere. I hope to travel as long as possible. There is a long list of places I have never been and would love to see. By 2027 hopefully most have been crossed off the list.

If we are still rolling on four wheels, great. If the majority of my time is not spent on travel I may be living somewhere in a park model. Why a park model? Because RV parks are active, people come and go, and there are lots of activities. They do not have the seclusion of a house or condo.

I assume I will still be ghost-writing blogs as a part-time income. It is fun, interesting, and a good source of remote income. Seven years from now I will not only be doing that, I will also be doing regular freelance work writing articles for magazines and doing copy-writing for businesses.

I began a book a few years back then stopped working on it when life got chaotic. Seven years from now I will be a published author of that book, and possibly others. I am hoping it brings knowledge to the country about the way CPS destroys families. It is a sad reality of this country.

Seven years from now I will still be shooting photographs and selling them on Fine Art America, just like I do now. I will be processing thousands of photographs taken during my travels that I never found time to work with. My online gallery will have grown from 1,000+ to 7,000+ photos. The YouTube Channel, Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! that Paul and I started in 2020 will have several thousand subscribers and we will still be uploading videos of our travels onto it.

The big clincher, seven years from now I will reach my full retirement age. Will I have already taken my social security, will I apply then, or will I decide to wait and take it at age 70? Time will tell. That is something that will be determined based on my circumstances as time goes by.

So where will I be seven years into the future? Pretty much where I am now. Traveling, writing, and taking photographs. I am enjoying life, why change it? 

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5 Problems With Social Media

The most frequent use of our phones is social media. The average person picks up their phone 58 times per day, which includes sending or looking at text messages, checking email, placing calls, playing games, and social media. The total daily time spent on smart phones averages between three hours fifteen minutes to four and a half hours on their phone every day.

Social media is addictive. I became multi-connected for the purpose of promoting my photography and writing. The most addictive for many is Facebook, with a few others close behind.

What are the problems with social media?  Let’s take a look.

1.         Addiction

Social media is used for everything from personal connections to business promotions. It has become a necessity of life. The problem is many people are unable to walk away from it, even for a short period of time. Those are the addicts.

You see them everywhere. Have you ever been in a restaurant where people are sitting at a table together, but everyone is on their phone? Why are they unable to put down their phones and converse with each other?

We all know people who if you make a comment and tag them, they respond immediately regardless of whether it is morning, night, or the middle of their workday. They can’t resist the “ping” that tells them they have a notification for something.

Addiction came to my attention recently when I responded to a political question on Facebook. The poster said, “you didn’t answer within 12 hours.”  She had a time limit on when anyone could give an answer!

That shows she is addicted to social media and assumes everyone else lives their lives wrapped up in it as well. I hadn’t looked at Facebook posts within that amount of time so my answer was, to her, invalid due to being “late.”

I will admit, I sometimes will “share” things to Facebook without going into the program, so I probably fall into a posting habit trap.

2.         Brain Saturation

Social media is a means of sharing information that 50 years ago no one cared about. Do we really need to know that someone is out to dinner and where? Do we need to see a photograph of what they cooked for dinner? Is it important we know they got their hair cut, had a pedicure, got new glasses or went to the doctor?  

That is there life, not ours. This is the type of useless information we now know about everyone we are connected to. We are all guilty of sharing those tidbits at least part of the time. Probably now more than ever due to social distancing orders. Social media is now providing us with human connections that we are unable to get on a more personal level.

3.         Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction

While this is a benefit during the Covid-19 pandemic, it also creates social distancing. Zoom meetings are a wonderful way of connecting from the comfort of your own home, and remote work is great, especially when you live on the road as I do. The concern is whether we will become withdrawn from society as a whole.

Will face-time phone calls replace getting together? Will we remain socially distanced by having our conferences and meetings held remotely, or will we return to in-person gatherings that require more forethought and planning?  Hopefully it will become a combination of the two.

I think the virtual meetings have benefits. There are those who are unable to make it to in-person meetings due to health or distance. Those virtual meetings add personal human connections to their lives.  However I also think nothing can replace in-person interactions we have without the assistance of a computer or phone.

4.         Cyber-Bullies

Social media brings out the hostility in people. When you are not looking at someone face-to-face it is much easier to be rude. This has happened frequently during the presidential race, most likely inspired by our own president using social media to cyber-bully everyone from people in his own administration to leaders of foreign nations.

I have been called racist, old, a murderer (when discussing right-to-choose re abortion), idiot, ignorant, etc. all because of my political views. Would those same people have said those things to my face? Most likely not. Have I said things on social media I most likely would not have said in person? Yes.

The point is, social media provides a protective barrier that allows people to let down their guard and be rude to people in a way they otherwise would not be. This is especially true because the majority of people are connected through groups, etc. to people they never have and probably never will see in person. If you wouldn’t say it in person, you shouldn’t say it on social media.

5.         Personal Privacy

There are people that post all their personal issues online. If they have a fight with their spouse, it is out there. If they have an encounter with someone at the grocery store, they rant about it online. Have a dispute with your neighbor, it is out there for the world to see. Your child runs into a problem at school, everyone on Facebook knows about it.

People have lost their desire to keep private matters private. They no longer consult with their best friend for support, they now post it on social media for 200 of their closest acquaintances to chime in on and/or share with their social media acquaintances.

Everyone should give consideration to the delicacy of the information they are sharing about their personal relationships prior to posting.

So Where are We Now?

Social media is here to stay. We are a cyber-connected world now, and if you haven’t embraced it thus far, eventually you will be forced into it. The world revolves around our ability to be online for banking, paying bills, work, and communicating.

What social media platforms are you connected to? What are your favorites? What is it you like about them?  Enjoy cyber-life, but don’t forget about real life in the process.

My Social Media Platforms:

I invite you to check out some of my pages and subscribe to my blog and/or YouTube channel.

Facebook Photography Page – I share photographs I have available for sale, sometime videos I have posted onto YouTube, and other tidbits of information on my Times Gone By Photography Facebook page.

Facebook Grace Grogan, Writer Page – Where I share links the genealogy column I write for The Lakeshore Guardian, links to my blogs that are posted here on WordPress, and other things connected to writing.

Fine Art America – this is the place to view all my photographs I have available for sale, which can also be placed on various items such as shower curtains, throw pillows, mugs, beach towels, tote bags, etc.  

Fine Art America – Ron Grogan – This is the page my deceased husband had for viewing and selling his photography, which I continue to manage

Pinterest – a collection of tidbits, including links to my writing and photography

LinkedIn – my business profile, I also share my photography, blogs and genealogy column here. https://www.linkedin.com/in/grace-grogan-0870a433/

WordPress – this is where you will find my personal blog, Life is a Melting Pot 

Instagram – This is where I post photos, mostly pictures taken with my cell phone or older photos from the past.

Twitter – I am not a frequent user, but do share my videos, photographs, and blog here.   https://twitter.com/glgrogan?s=03

YouTube Channel – Rolling Thru North America Travel With US! is a joint page with Paul Cannon and contains videos and slide shows of our travels throughout North America.

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DOCUMENT YOUR PART IN HISTORY

I look around, the place has more people than normal for this time of year, but it is still pretty well emptied out. Why wouldn’t it be? Who wants to stay where the summer temperatures go as high as 120° Fahrenheit?

Yet, here I am. Our original plan was to leave here at the beginning of April and visit several national parks and scenic areas through several states before heading to Michigan to visit family. Then head south and west again, hitting Sault Lake City and Colorado Springs for photography and RV conferences before going for a three-month stay on South Padre Island, Texas, followed by winter back here in Yuma, Arizona.

Those plans have been crushed by the Coronavirus shutdowns. We have extended our stay here in Yuma until at least August 3rd. We are trying to secure reservations in Michigan for somewhere between mid-August to early October, but so far have not had any luck. The state is still locked down and the few campgrounds that are open do not have long-term spots available.

Time will tell if we travel, where we will be, and when we will get there. When you live full-time in an RV, campgrounds are an essential part of life.

We are living through an event that will be written about in history books. Have you recorded your stay-at-home location and changes in lifestyle? Have you noted the schools closing, people doing work-at-home because businesses closed, hospitals overrun with patients, people wearing face masks and gloves to protect those around them?

If you have young children, have you recorded their thoughts on what is going on around them? These are memories that may be forgotten over time but will be important to future generations.

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Paul and I are hanging tight in Yuma, Arizona. I walked around the park and took snapshots of the camp, documenting the place that was full when we arrived in February and is now almost empty. A lot of the people here in the winter are Canadian snowbirds who were ordered to return to Canada in March or lose medical insurance due to the pandemic.

So where are you? Have you documented the event? Leave me your comments below.

Stay Safe!

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Twists and Turns

We all experience them from time-to-time.  The twists and turns of life created by things we aren’t expecting or choices we make.   It is what we make of them that determines our destiny and happiness.

My life was a whirlwind of twists and turns for several years, with the culmination being my decision to sell my home and the bulk of my possessions, leave my job prior to being of retirement age, and live and travel on the road full time in a motor home.  LIFE IS A MATTER OF CHOICES

When I made that decision I knew I would need to find some type of remote work.  I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a spousal pension from my deceased husband and some savings/investments to help me float through the beginning of this, but not enough to sustain me long-term.   I plan to live a long time and my investments need to support me in old age!  Income on the road is a must.

I have always loved writing, and one of my goals when I set off on this was to expand my writing career.  When you travel throughout the United States and Canada, travel articles for magazines is a good possibility.   The income generated from that is not steady enough to support this new lifestyle, and so I continued looking for part-time remote work.

I applied for and was accepted on a contractual basis to be part of a pool that writes ad-scripts for radio advertising.   This is giving me some good experience, but is more of a pocket-change job than a lucrative career, so I continued looking.

I joined The Barefoot Writer, then signed up for a course on becoming a copywriter with American Writers and Artists, Inc.  I had not even started the course when two days later I received a response to another contractual job I had applied for and have now accepted to write marketing blogs for various companies.

As part of a pool of copywriters I am obligated to complete five assignments per week.   This includes research and writing a marketing blog that meets the clients specifications and the company’s QC requirements.  I look at this as a wonderful opportunity to make money while that is compatible with the instruction I am getting from my copywriting course.

I’m sure the time spent learning to juggle work, class, travel, and photography in a time-efficient manner will leave me twisting and turning. Now, if you are a long-time reader of this blog you know that I am a photographer and sell my work on Fine Art America.  I am also looking to expand my sales avenues for my photography, so add another matter to my juggling act.

I am starting off 2020 with a juggling numerous things that are the culmination of the twists and turns of my life.  Here’s to what should be a very interesting year!

Please comment:  What are the twists and turns you are juggling?  What are your plans for 2020?

 

 

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Dreams + Action = Reality

How often we have a dream of something…a place to travel, an advancement in career, weight loss, or a lifestyle change.  Often whatever that dream may be seems so far off in the distance that we feel it is unachievable.   The problem is that we fail to create a plan of action.  Without a plan the dream is impossible, because without action the reality of the dream will never be achieved.

Some people formulate plans in their head.  Other people, like me, make lists and cross things off as accomplished.  Some are able to just dive in and start working without a plan of action.  Whatever works for you is fine, as long as it works.  Too often when a task seems overwhelming it is easy to let it slide; even if you have the list you never act on it.  Other times set-backs can throw us off balance or cause a backwards slide.  When that happens get your footing and push forward.

The Distance between dreams and realityI am dealing with dreams in various aspects of my life, and the reality is I have been slow in taking action, but every small step I make gives me a feeling of accomplishment and the desire to push forward….I just need to start doing it at a faster pace!

Each of my dreams deals with a different part of my life.  Each has a different game plan.  Each will be worked on and accomplished at different speeds, and some may need to be put on hold while I push to accomplish others.  That is okay.  Even putting some on hold can be part of the overall plan of action.  The important part is to act on the plan.

So, what are my Dreams + Action = Reality goals?

Asset Control:  This sounds strange, but I have inheritance money and/or assets that have not yet been distributed to me and I need to take whatever steps necessary so that all items are under my control.  I also have property and a motor home that I want to sell and need to push stronger to get those sales accomplished.  Once I have achieved those things, my asset control goal will be accomplished and I will be able to better fund my investments for a higher yield, which has a direct effect on my retirement funds.

Downsizing:  I decided some time ago that I need to downsize, and I have talked about it quite a bit, but the “action” part has been slow in coming.  This is most likely because it will be a tremendous change.  I will have to get rid of an overwhelming  amount of items accumulated over a 34 year marriage, sell move from my 4-bedroom colonial with the plan to purchase a 2-3 bedroom ranch-style condominium.  I am finding the action part is both time consuming and somewhat emotional as I will need to part with numerous possessions.  However, after cleaning out my parent’s home following their demise and having listened to several friends also go through the same thing, I realize that the majority of this stuff is not anything my kids are going to want and is just taking up space.  This is my number one priority and the first “dream” I have to make a “reality”.

Retirement:  Being a widow retirement can be very close, within the next three years, or in the distant future.  My full-retirement age of 67 is still ten years away.  My goal is to land somewhere in the middle, around age 62-63.  I know I cannot afford to stay in this house once I retire, and so the push to downsize is a necessity as much as a desire.  The sooner I downsize the faster I can save more money toward my retirement dreams and/or another dream.

Travel:  There are a lot of places I have not been to but want to see, both in this country and others.  While working I want to start taking short trips and seeing a bit of the country.  Once I retire I want to be able to travel much more extensively.  I am even debating whether I want to go ahead and fulfill a prior dream my deceased husband and I had…full time RV.  A friend of mine just started on his adventure, and in helping him get ready to head out I felt the desire come back to hit the road myself.  I have learned that  there are a lot of women driving Class A motor homes and towing vehicles, living the full-time life all by themselves  If they can do it, why can’t I.  Time will tell.

Writing and Photography:  These are both things I do now, but my life has been rather hectic the past few years and I do not have as much time for either of these areas as I would like.  I hope that once I have downsized, and most definitely once retired, that I can devote a considerable amount of time to both of these areas.   I have a book started that I plan to finish and other ideas bouncing around in my head for additional books.

As you read this you may have realized that my dreams are related to each other.  I need financial control of all my assets to achieve my other goals financially.  I need to complete the downsizing prior to retirement.  I need to retire to obtain more time for writing, photography, and travel.  Dreams + Action = Reality.  I better get busy!

I hope that while reading this you have started to formulate dreams and plans for action in your head.  What are your dreams?  I would love to hear about them in the comment section below.

 

 

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Cycle Through Life

As we go through life we develop habits, a way of doing things.  Some of them are our own, some of them are done to accommodate the likes/dislikes of those around us.  As we cycle through life those things change.

We develop likes and dislikes, ways of doing things, and personality traits from our parents, grandparents, siblings, other relatives and friends as we are growing.  Then we become adults and move away from those we have grown up with.  Some move away to attend college, some branch out on their own, living the single life, and others, like me, leave their parent’s home when they marry.   Each of those different events will impact the individual person and their overall personality.51bdc659e738f0ad63064c508af86513

I grew up in a small town far away from distant relatives, I left my parent’s home when I married just before my 21st birthday.  With my marriage I moved about two hours away from home.  The person I married was not controlling, but he was nine years older and had far more life experiences than I.  He had served overseas in the military, been married and had a child, and purchased a home.   Looking back I adapted to his way of doing things more-so than he adapted to mine.   He paid the bills, serviced the cars, did home repairs, and was the driving force in any major purchases.  I was more willing to keep things as they were, to more or less “make do” with what we already had.  That is how we lived for 34 years until he passed away in December 2015.

When he passed away I was living on my own for the first time in my life.  I spent a couple years in a bit of a vacuum, going through the motions of life without really experiencing it to its fullest.  I learned to do things I had never done before, such as yard work, getting cars serviced, and paying bills.  You could say in that way I grew during that period of time, but I didn’t really evolve, I simply functioned.

With the help of a friend I began to re-evaluate where I was at and what changes I needed to make.  I took a good look at the investments I had, and the company my husband had us with was not making me any money, in fact after paying the service charges I had lost money over the course of the two years since his death.  I’m not a math person, but I’m not stupid.  I needed a new financial advisor and I followed the recommendation of a friend and made a change.  It has been a good one and I feel my financial future has a more positive outlook.

What-you-dont-have-you-may-gainIn looking at my investments I also took a good look at my living expenses v. income and realized that while I am making my bills with the assistance of my husband’s life insurance, I can not really consider that “living in the green.”  Let’s face it, the life insurance savings won’t last forever, and living month-to-month is not the way I want to spend my retirement.  I also realized that I can not retire and continue to live where I am at.  The decision, I need to downsize.  Now there is a lot of stuff in this house that I must sort, decide what to keep, what to toss, and what to sell.  That will take some time.  I would like to be out in six months, a year is more realistic, and it may take beyond that.  However the longer it takes the more money I am spending on this house that I could be saving or using for more fun things.

Fun things.  I am going to do some fun things this year.  For the first time in about three years I am going to take a real vacation.  I have to admit, once I made the commitment, put down the deposit and booked my airline flights I had some difficulty sleeping for a couple nights, but now I am looking forward to it.  My first international flight on my own, I will be flying to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the Calgary Stampede and spending 11 days out there.  I have a friend who will meet me in Calgary.  We will be staying in his motor home and taking in some of the scenic sights of the area, doing photography in addition to attending the Stampede.  It should be an awesome trip and I am looking forward to it.

I have a girl’s weekend planned in Mackinac City.  The weekend is a yearly event with my sister and two cousins, and we always change locations to keep it interesting.  There is also the possibility of another weekend trip into Canada with a friend, but that one is only tentative at this point.  59caa4c54b27d61f6a921ea8a3146eb4

So, where am I in the cycle of life?  I am in a growing stage.  I have broken free of the “me” that I was when married and becoming the “me” that I am as a widow.  I have started to walk around my house doing a visual inventory.  “That was him, it goes.”  “That is me, it stays.”  Sometimes it is “That was us” and with those items, some will stay and some will go.  When I move out of this house it will be a good, clean break and I will be continuing the ride as I cycle through life.

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Matthaei Botanical Gardens

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  If like me you enjoy taking photographs of flowers and/or nature, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Matthaei has several options to fit everyone’s needs or desires.  There are several trails that are open sunrise to sunset seven days a week, plus the conservatory, garden store, lobby and display gardens are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Admission is free; they do have a donation box inside the conservatory, and there is a reasonable parking fee of only $1.50 per hour or a maximum of $5.00 per day.  With the size of the venue I opted to pay the daily rate immediately._DSC6631

I arrived at 8:30 am.  It was quiet, with only a few people quietly walking out onto some of the trails.  I grabbed my camera and tripod and decided to walk the Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, which circles Willow Pond.   This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, which they estimate to be a ten minute walk.  I meandered slowly, taking pictures and stretched it into almost an hour, taking time to sit down a couple times on benches that were available.

The difference in time is whether you walk like the average person or walk like a nature photographer, skimming the area for possible subjects to photograph.  Doing so can make a fast walk take quite a while and is why I prefer to partake in such places either alone or with other photographers who understand the time frame needed to fully enjoy the area.

I decided to do the outside gardens first, and in looking over the map not only did I not go up into the Children’s Garden, but I also missed the Perenial Garden, Grower’s Garden, MiSo House and Bonsai and Penjing Garden.  I started in the Gateway Garden, a relaxing spot with benches, rocking chairs and fountains.  I took photographs of flowers there, in the Marie Azary Bock Garden and in the Sitting Gardens before meandering down the Commons, which are bordered by two other gardens on the east and bench seating on the west.

The commons leads you into the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden.  Here you will find chipmunks scampering back and forth amongst the plants and sometimes climbing up on them as well, but trying to capture them in a photo is difficult.  They are quick little guys!  Once I completed my photo rounds of the herb garden I strolled between that and the perennial garden and went through a vine/plant covered tunnel which led to the opening of the children’s garden.  I had the option of going up into the children’s garden or taking a nature trail around the children’s garden.  What I opted to do was take a short trail not shown on the map into the Oak Openings Garden.

There was nothing to attract my photographer’s eye in the Oak Openings Garden with the exception of wild strawberry plants that had begun bearing fruit.  It was the bright red of the fruit that grabbed my eye as I looked down to scan the ground for photo subjects.  I followed the trail through the Upland Woodland Garden and across into the Wet Woodland Garden.  Unfortunately the hot weather we had been having left nothing  wet, it was, on that day, better termed a dry woodland.  Nothing caught my eye for photographs, so I proceeded into the Great Lakes Garden, which led me into one end of the Prairie Gardens, then the Coastal Gardens and back up where I started in the Gateway Garden.   Unfortunately a group was there partaking in the rocking chairs or I would have grabbed one for a nice relaxing break.

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By now I had been wandering for a few hours and decided to take a snack break before visiting the Conservatory.  One thing to keep in mind, the conservatory does not sell meals, only a limited selection of snack food, candy and beverages.  If you plan to be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for several hours you may want to consider packing a cooler with beverages and lunch or snack food.   I had not planned that far in advance, so I purchased a small trail mix and flavored water.  There are one or two small tables where you can sit inside to consume your snack, and there are also tables available outside on the deck.  Food and beverages are not allowed inside the conservatory.

The Conservatory has three main areas, the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Desert House.  Here you will find many plants and blooms to view and/or photograph.  On this day there was a water Lilly in full bloom, Cocoa trees, pineapples growing, sausage trees with their “fruit” hanging in abundance, and numerous other flowers and plants.  The Desert House has the majority of their cactus growing in raised display beds, making it easy to enjoy and photograph the wide variety.  I’m sure this was also done to preserve the fingers of little ones who may be touring with their parents.  Some of those cactus spines are pretty long and wicked looking!

I spent about five hours touring the trail, gardens and conservatory, and I didn’t see it all.  Keep in mind I was walking slow, took several rest breaks on the numerous benches that are available throughout the property, and was taking photographs.  The average person might tour it at a much faster pace.

I would like to go back and walk some of the trails I chose to skip, plus with anything growing outside the gardens and trails are a constantly changing canvas with growing seasons and weather.  If going they do recommend appropriate footwear for walking the natural areas and that you stay on paths due to poisonous plants such as poison sumac and poison ivy growing in natural areas.  The Massauga rattlesnake also inhabits the area.  I did not encounter any slithering reptiles, but did enjoy the “music” of unseen frogs as I walked around the pond.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area I highly recommend a visit to University of Michigan’s Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Playing With Wine

I needed a still life photo for the monthly competition in the Blue Water Shutterbugs Camera Club.  and with limited mobility I had to utilize what I had on hand…a wine basket I received as a Christmas gift.   It was a fun time setting up and shooting the photographs, with both good and bad moments:

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Photo by  Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

The Good:  The French wine, Lindt chocolate, my wine glasses and fresh raspberries went together nicely to create a still life image.

The Bad:  I had to open a bottle of wine to put in the glasses for the shoot (well, maybe this has some secondary good to it).

The Good:  I used Leelenau Cellers Raspberry wine instead of the higher alcohol content of the French wine I received as a gift.

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The Spill:  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

The Bad:  I had to drink the opened wine after the photo shoot, and with little food in my stomach I was feeling pretty good (maybe that isn’t a bad thing, a little buzz can be fun).

The Good:  I really like the raspberry wine, which smells like fresh raspberries when you uncork it, and at least had the forethought to put some dinner in the oven.

The Bad:  While doing the shoot and re-arranging the set-up one of the glasses tipped over, spilling wine on my table.

The Good:  It was the glass with the least amount of wine in it, and the spill gave me an alternative set-up to try.

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Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

The Bad:  With red wine there is always the risk of it staining, and I was leaving it spilled on the table to take the additional photos.

The Good:  No stains!

The Bad:  I was having so much fun I took way more photographs than I needed.

The Good:  I enjoyed the time spent shooting and ended up with a usable photo for the competition.

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The Selected Entry: Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2017

 

 

The Bad:  I drank the entire bottle of wine….do I have to count the calories?

The Good:  The photo was well received when judged.

The Bad:  Now I’m itching to go out and shoot more pictures, which wouldn’t be bad if I wasn’t so grounded waiting for my ankle to recover.

The Good:  It is in my future!

 

Motto of the Story:
Have a Good Day, Drink a Little Wine, Shoot a Few Pictures and Enjoy Life!

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Filed under food, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography

Traveling Solo

Memorial Weekend was not the first time I have ever traveled solo, but it is the first time I have done so since the passing of my husband in December 2015.  It was a good trip.  It was a fun trip.  It was a relaxing trip.  It was a lonely trip.    Rather than elaborate in paragraph form, I decided to do a list of bullets, highlights various activities, thoughts, and observations.

 

  • Destination Sault Ste. Marie via Newberry, Michigan.  For those who do not know, these cities are in Michigan’s upper peninsula and are a 5-1/2 to 6 hour drive from my home.
  • Even though I set the cruise control at 74 instead of my normal 85 I still made the trip in the projected six hour time frame going to Newberry on Saturday morning, and that included two stops along the way.  I made it home from Sault Ste. Marie in 5-1/2 hours on Monday with three stops along the way.
  • For those of you who do not know, I have a son in Newberry Correctional Facility and was going to visit him.  I was very surprised to find that it was not busy at all with visitors.  I had anticipated a wait due to the holiday weekend, but was pleasantly surprised to find I could get in right away.
  • Stopping along a two-lane road near a wooded area in the upper peninsula to shoot, from a distance, a large group of trilliums results in an attack of nats, no-seeums, or baby flies (I was told they were all three of those things).  The invasion was so intense that just getting in and out of my car resulted in a large quantity inside, which I was then rolling down the window and trying to shoo out as I drove away.  Maybe it would have been better had I not been wearing perfumed lotion?

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    Trilliums along roadway. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • Drinking a margarita with my meal resulted in me going from being a good tipper to an exceptionally generous tipper, but I’m sure the waiter was happy.
  • Having a GPS in the car is great, especially when it tells you your hotel is in one spot, which is a hotel under construction.  After placing a phone call you find out your hotel is about 1/2 a mile farther down the road and on the opposite side of the road.   However it did have a handy landmark – across the street from Walmart, and next to the State Police post.  Hmmmm, I never once saw a State Police vehicle the entire time I was there.
  • No-leak ice pacs will create a puddle in your fabric insulated lunch box if they thaw completely and will leave a stream behind you when you attempt to carry it.
  • On Sunday morning all the country music stations, actually almost all the radio stations in general, are either talk shows or church sermons/music.  I found a rock station out of Traverse City/Kalkaska playing music, so of course I had to crank it up and dance my way from Sault Ste. Marie to Newberry for my second day of visiting with Patrick.
  • My favorite place for breakfast in Newberry had several new books by local authors, but I only selected and purchased one.  That is what I most often buy when I travel, books written about the area in which I am visiting and/or by local authors.    I also purchased a book in a gift shop in Sault Ste. Marie by another local author.  DSC_9246
  • It is great to discover that your cousins from the Traverse City area happen to be visiting Newberry as well and you are able to get together for an impromptu dinner and chat for a couple hours.
  • I am a chicken when it comes to setting up my tripod and taking photos in the dark on an unlit street when by myself in an area with which I am not familiar when by myself.  I never gave it a thought when Ron was with me.
  •   The International Bridge looks awesome at night lit up in red, white, and blue, but I have no pictures (please refer to my previous post above).
  • At America’s Best Value Inn an accessible room is truly accessible.  When I am staying at a location where I am unsure on whether or not they have elevators I will book an accessible room to make sure I am not climbing stairs alone with my suitcase, etc.  (I have a very bad ankle).    Usually “accessible” is a room that is on the main floor or not far from the lobby or elevator, but beyond that nothing unusual.  The one in Sault Ste. Marie was wheelchair accessible, had a wooden floor, a fully wheelchair accessible shower, and a raised toilet seat.   Of course the best part was a king size bed, which I had all to myself.
  • I greatly overestimated how much time I would have in the room to read and/or write and packed way more items than needed.
  • The Tower of History in Sault Ste. Marie provides a nice view of the entire city and locks.  There is a small museum on the main level.

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Tower of History.  Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • There is an island, Sugar Island, that is accessed by ferry that would be interesting to explore on a future trip.  It is inhabited by a small amount of people and also houses some businesses, but is also supposed to have nature areas.
  • It is hard to access and walk the areas near the water and locks when downtown.  The park where the locks are located is gated, has a security entrance, and closes at 9:00 pm.  The park itself is quite large and features two stories of viewing platforms for watching ships/boats go through the locks.  Unfortunately I missed seeing any go through.
  • Lockview Restaurant has very good fresh whitefish that can be ordered done in five different methods.  I chose broiled and it was very good.
  • Patrick informed me that Street Outlaws is an awesome program.  Monday night was a season premier that was two hours long.  I did enjoy the parts I saw, but unfortunately fell asleep and missed a good portion of the races.  It was rather cool that they were racing Detroit in that episode.
  • My ankle is impacting my decisions on what I do or do not do, which means it is affecting my day-to-day quality of life.  If it does not improve by fall I think I will need to go in for a consultation with my surgeon and likely have an ankle fusion done over the winter.  As someone who is terrified of surgery, that statement and acceptance of the likely need is huge.
  • I am a much more conscientious spender when traveling alone than I was with Ron.  This does not mean I was previously a spender by nature, quite the contrary.  I was and am more likely to put off doing things, whereas Ron was always more likely and willing to buy or do whatever he or I wanted and figure out how to pay for it later.  I guess he was either a good influence or a bad influence, depending on how you look at it.
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    Sault Ste. Marie and International Bridge.   Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • I need to plan a longer stay to do and see some things I want in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Buying a bag of fresh on sale at the fudge shop is good.  Munching on it to stay awake all the way home and in the process eating the entire bag is not.  I had a miserable stomach ache later to remind me not to make that mistake again!

Overall I had a fun time this weekend.  I managed to traverse the city at night without getting myself horribly lost.  I forgot to take my book with me for the times I was dining, so utilized social media to keep myself entertained instead.   My first weekend trip as a widow was fun.  It was relaxing.  It was lonely.    The next one will be better.

 

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Filed under decisions, exploration, habit, handicapp, Holidays, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, travel, Upper Penninsula

Shall We Elope?

Life spins and churns, twists and turns, and in the process dreams are born, moments cherished, and desire becomes reality.  Such is the case with a friend of mine who after spending more than twenty years widowed and single married the man of her dreams.

Wedding wishes, preparation, anticipation, and anxiety all come into play when anyone gets married.  We are used to watching young people plan big, elaborate weddings, and there is excitement in that type of a “production.”   This was different.  It was two adults with children and grandchildren planning a small, simple, elopement with tidbits of details that added to the fun and uniqueness of this blending of their lives.

Planning to have an outdoor wedding in Michigan during the month of April is always gutsy.  They decided they wanted to get married on the covered bridge in Frankenmuth, a popular location that is a unique, small town atmosphere and also a popular tourist destination.  Being that it was two hours from home they needed to search and find a pastor to perform the service.  They checked on use of the covered bridge, booked a motel and made arrangements for early check-in, arranged for a second witness, and made plans for photo locations.

Then a week before the date the couple held their breath when snow crept over the state.  All was not lost.  The day of the wedding was warm and sunny, comfortable for the bride in her sleeveless dress, a bit warm  for the groom in his suit.  A perfect day, perfect weather.

Vicki held to tradition.  The morning of the wedding I received a text message asking if I had something she could borrow.  She had the something old, something new, and something blue.  She wore a bracelet that belonged to me for her something borrowed.    I attended the event and served as witness/matron of honor and photographer.

I met Mark and Vicki at their motel and after Mark dressed and I had taken a couple shots of Vicki helping him with his tie, he left to meet us at the bridge.   I helped Vicki with her dress, we took a few preparation shots, and I was shown a gift she had purchased for her new husband.  It was fun, girly, and relaxing all at the same time.  We arrived on location to find Mark chatting with the pastor and her husband.

 

Photos by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

Vicki had been worried about finding an appropriate dress, but she did and made the purchase.  Then after reflection decided there was nothing wrong with her purchase, but it lacked the pizazz that one wants for their wedding day.  She kept looking and ended up with a lady-like, age appropriate, knock-him-off-his-feet dress.  How do I know, because I was walking with them and Mark looked over at Vicki and said “you look good, you look really good!”  He was right, she did.

Rather than use the bridge, which was dark and cool, for their ceremony they opted to stand near the water overlooking the bridge.  Prior to vows the groom, who is in a band, sang to the bride.  Vows were spoken, rings exchanged, and of course the traditional kiss.   The marriage license was signed, then they posed for a few photographs before we went to lunch.

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Fried Ice Cream Deluxe – Yum!  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

When in Frankenmuth the tradition is to go for chicken dinner.  Traditions are made to be broken, and when you have a small elopement instead of a over-the-top wedding, plans can be adjusted on a moments notice.  How many brides and grooms do you know who have their wedding dinner in a tiny Mexican restaurant?  Well I know one, and it was great.  They were even presented with a huge, free fried ice cream because it was their special day.

After lunch we shot a few more photographs and then the happy couple went for a horse-drawn carriage ride around town.  The end of a perfect day leading into a perfect night, and the beginning of a perfect union of marriage.

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Their first adventure as husband and wife. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

 

 

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Filed under celebration, decisions, events, Family, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, spring

My First Easter

It is funny how traditions with couples and/or families develop over years.  What is crucial to one couple is unimportant to another.  Being the  first year without my husband, people anticipate that certain dates may be hard, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.  However those were “Hallmark” holidays that Ron and I rarely paid attention to, so my first year solo on those dates causes me no emotional stress.

This is my first Easter alone.  The weekend looms ahead of me like some dreaded dark cavern.  Why?  Because that is a weekend Ron and I generally did things.  For years when our kids were growing up we would drive to Belle Isle and visit the Aquarium and Whitcomb Conservatory.   There were years we traveled, years we stayed home.  Generally we were out and about at least one of the two days taking pictures.   Once we had grandchildren we put together Easter baskets for the children and had an egg hunt inside our house.  Easter has always been a fun weekend for us.

This year I have no one to share those things with.  My daughter, her boyfriend and her three children will be over on Sunday for the kids to get their Easter baskets from me, but not until around 7:00 pm because her oldest son is spending the holiday weekend with his father.   I have contemplated driving down to Belle Isle, driving around my area to take photos, or just staying home to clean and organize.  To a certain degree weather and the condition of a sore ankle will play into those decisions.    I don’t feel enthusiastic about any of it.

Building a new life takes adjustment.  It means accepting change.  Maintaining tradition.  Letting tradition go.  Freedom to make changes.  Keeping things the same.  Doing things you’ve always done.  Doing things you never did.    Building a new normal.

As I spend my first Easter alone creating whatever will become a new tradition, a new normal, I hope all of you have a fun-filled weekend doing whatever it is that makes Easter weekend special for you and your loved ones.

HIPPITY HOPPITY HAPPY EASTER DAY!

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Filed under celebration, Coping, Family, habit, home, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, memoir, spring

35 Years of Shooting

Planning the Celebration of my husband, Ron Grogan’s life includes a slide show presentation.  My best friend, Vicki, came to visit and we spent a weekend going through 35 years of albums and photo boxes to come up with a selection of possible photos of Ron for the slide show.    My daughter located songs I wanted to use and I put them all together, but there was a glitch.Ron with 150-600 Harsens Island 2015

When I put the three soundtracks and the photos together I ran into a problem of too many photos for the length of music.  Then I counted.  There were  150 photos beyond the ending of the last song.  What a nightmare to cut.  Every photo seemed important, at least it was to me.  I did cut, and then when I got down to about 25 over I contacted my daughter with the name of another song to add.  After that I had to tweak the presentation, adding photos, removing photos, looking for the perfect mix.  I still haven’t finalized.  I continue to replay the show and make adjustments.

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

Ron loved life, family and photography, and that is what I wanted to capture.  The essence of how he spent his time.  It has been, overall, a fun project to do.    Years of smiles captured on film.  Years of memories, some I had forgotten about.  Sometimes you realize the more things change, the more things stay the same.

From the time I met him in 1980, a solid majority of photos of Ron showed him with a camera in his hands.  We sold his photographs at arts and crafts shows in 1982-83.  Things were different back then.  Only on occasion did someone have a tent, most people, us included, just sat up out in the open.  Ron hand cut mats in intricate designs for his photos.  It was a fun time.  We stopped doing art shows once we had our first child in 1984 and didn’t resume selling our photographs until after we moved to St. Clair County in 2004 and jointed the Blue Water Shutterbug Camera Club.  However, photography was always a part of our lives.  From the time our kids were small we put cameras in their hands, and they grew up taking photos too.

0411 Ron on pictured rocks cruise-1 2014Ron had a saying,  “Change Equals Growth.”  As people view the slide show I have put together I hope they see the many changes, the growth that has taken place in Ron’s life.  Changes in his camera, clothing, hair length, and hobbies all captured with the wonderful art of photography.

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Unable to Shoot–a Photographer’s Dilema

Nikon-D750-2I am a photographer.  I have an attachment to my favorite camera, which is a Nikon D750 that I received at Christmas.  My husband and I both upgraded to them at the same time.  Two weeks ago I was taking a walk and it started giving me a beam of light across all my pictures, then locked up and gave me an ERR message.  A quick check of the owner’s manual on my phone told me that such a message means it must be sent in for repair.  What!  I have to ship it away!Nikon D80

That is exactly what I did, I took it in to the Camera store to be sent in for a warranty repair.  The shutter had locked up.  Now every photographer has a backup camera, and I have mine…the D80 I was shooting with prior to the D750.  Ron (husband) was leaving for a trip and made sure my batteries for the D80 were charged, and he took one charger with him as he carries a D90 for backup.  We weren’t worried about not knowing where the other charger was, as I had my D750 to shoot with anyway.  Then it locks up.  Now I’m not doing as much shooting because I am trying to preserve battery power.

PhotographyWhat I can’t figure out is where the charger went.  I swear I will never let that man put away anything important again.  One year he handled hiding a Christmas present for our son, we didn’t find it until almost a year later!  Now he knows he put the charger in a box, doesn’t remember what box, doesn’t remember where the box went.

So, that is my past two weeks.  The frustrations of a photographer who has temporarily lost their favorite camera and is trying to preserve battery power on their back-up as they have no charger.  It has to get better from here…

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Filed under hobbies, Photography

Trilium Trek

          The trillium is a delicate, small, wildflower that blooms in the spring.  They can be found in white, pink, red, and the very rare painted variety.  Since 1980 the only sightings of the painted trillium in Michigan have all been within a 30 mile area of St. Clair County.
          Knowing that they were in bloom, my husband, Ron, and I went out on a search for painted trillium a couple weeks ago.  They are located in a wooded nature area.  Although I have not used bug spray in years, when you open the car door and the mosquitoes are coming inside you know precaution is needed.
          When you haven’t used bug spray in a while, there are a few pointers to remember.
          1.  When misting your face make sure you keep your mouth shut — that stuff does not taste good!
          2.  Spaying the majority of your body does not prevent mosquitoes from finding the spot you missed.
          3.  You will find out you forgot to spray an area at a most inopportune moment, such as when bent over taking a photograph and one decides to bite you on the backside through your jeans.
          4.  Evidence of a poor spray job may not become evident for hours, such as when you look in the mirror and realize the small section on the back of your arm from you elbow to wrist is covered in mosquito bites — 27 of them to be exact.
          Not that I’m admitting to any of the above, but knowledge does come from experience.  Of course a pain-endured labor does have its just rewards.  We found all three kinds of trillions, a slug, a toad, and a few other items to photograph.  A pleasant morning photographing nature.

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Filed under bugs, flowers, nature, Photography

Living The Quote

We see them on Facebook.  Those little “images” of quotes that make you laugh, smile, or remind you of something about yourself or others you know.    I love those quotes.  I will spend time searching for them on various topics, saving them so I can repost them later.     Here are a few thoughts, quote style.

Trip over nothingI was born a klutz, there is no other explanation and as a result this quote fits me perfectly.  I can live in a house for years yet forget where the walls are and walk right into them.  I even walked into a clear glass window at the mall one time, thinking it was the exit from a store.  Just like in a TV show, full force impact with the glass, glass shakes, people stare, I feel stupid.

I even fell at my own wedding.  I stepped down from the alter, put my foot into the hoop of my wedding gown and although my husband tried to hold me up, it was useless and I went to my knees.  Luckily I am the type of person that laughs when embarrassed, so those wedding pictures of me coming down the isle show a huge laughing smile.Friends - best friends - don't talk every day but when do its as if you never stopped

I have a best friend who fits this quote perfectly.  We live three hours apart and maintain our friendship through occasional get-togethers or phone calls, but the majority of our contact is via email.  We became friends in 1978 and have had periods in which contact was almost non-existent, but when we re-connected it was great and we were not at a loss for words.

Photography - a love affair with lifeMy husband and I are both photographers, and anything and everything is a photo subject.  I believe photographers do have a love for life, and the ability to see beyond what the average person sees.

A non-photographer will take a walk down a path and enjoy the view and nature.  The photographer will walk that same path and find small, overlooked objects to photograph.  Fungus on a tree, moss on a log, spiders spinning webs or butterflies on weeds.  Photographers have a keen eye for seeing what others pass by.  I have started out on paths with people I know, but they ended up far ahead of me because I kept stopping to take pictures.  A lot of the items I captured with my camera they admitted they never noticed.

nothing is really lost till mom can't find itMoms have the ability to locate the lost, misplaced, items of life.  When my kids were young I would get a call at work, “mom, where is my __________?”  You know what the amazing thing is — I usually knew!  Why is it they are in the room and/or building where they item they lost is at, but I can find it through a telephone wire faster than they can find it standing in its location?  Why? Because I’m a mom!

walk in my shoes and end up at barMy husband and I have endured many things throughout our 33 year marriage.  Some people know what we have encountered, others have no clue.  When I met him he was in the midst of a very nasty divorce, we went through an entire custody trial regarding his daughter, we raised two children with ADHD, children who got into legal trouble, a severely injured grandchild and the dealings with CPS and DHS that followed, our son’s termination of his parental rights, our attempt to adopt our two granddaughters and the battle with DHS, health issues, and multiple other things.  A friend once said when you read my Christmas newsletters you have no idea the turmoil that is brewing beneath the surface.  I think the quote “walk a mile in my shoes” should be taken to heart with anyone you deal with, because you may not really know what they are coping with below the surface.motorcycle - you haven't lived till grin and bug

I used to ride motorcycle, until an unfortunate accident five years ago  made that impossible.  I do miss it though, and I think people that have never ridden do not understand what they are missing.  it is an intense sense of freedom and relaxation that cannot be met my any other means.  I must say this quote reminds me of the times when I have captured a bug in my throat — and why is it always when cruising down an expressway at 70 mph, never on a surface street where you can stop and force it down with some water out of a saddle bag.    Swallowing bugs is just one of the side “benefits” of riding motorcycle that does not accompany other fun activities.

I can’t believe I have already shared six quotes, and there are so many more I would like to share that fit into my life.  They will have to be saved for another time and place.  However I do want to remind my readers of my favorite quote, the one that hangs on the wall in my house, the one on which this entire blog is based.Life is like a camera

Never forget that Life is like a camera.  The quote that hangs on my wall of this saying is accompanied by photographs that depict each statement, and the display can be seen on this website.  Simply click on the link Life is Like A Camera to view it.

Quotes - Life Isn't about Quotes about lifeIf all else fails, search through quotes and find one that fits your life, makes you smile, or stirs a memory.  After all, there are quotes about everything, including the fact that Life isn’t about Quotes About Life — or is it????

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Filed under assumptions, children, communication, Coping, decisions

Husband, Marsh, and Porta-Potty Challenges

Before heading onto the  boardwalk of Magee Marsh Ron and I made a pit-stop at the gift shop area.  Because hours are spent walking the boardwalk, taking pictures and observing birds I made a trip to the porta-potty while Ron headed to the gift shop.  The difference, this year I was prepared for the porta-potty challenge, at least I thought I was.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

Last year I pulled out a sheet of toilet paper and notice a “shadow” on it, and turning it over discovered a huge black bug on the backside that scared the crap out of me (well, not literally), causing me to throw the toilet paper on the floor.  This year I pulled out a strip of paper and checked it over very carefully.  I was happy to find it bug-free.  I then watched a small spider come down from the ceiling and land on my purse, which I had carefully hung on the sanitizer dispenser.  Of course the dropping of the spider led me to look up, where I spotted a large spider on the ceiling.  Does the Magee Marsh porta-potty dislike me?  Can’t I use it without a bug problem coming up?  Apparently not.  The sacrifices of a photographer who needs to utilize the facilities before heading out to capture some bird shots.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

I exit the porta-potty and enter to gift-shop where my husband, Ron, had gone.  He is standing in the check-out line when he sees me come in the door and immediately says “would you like a T-Shirt?”

He is purchasing a large poster and a T-shirt.  Where does he plan to put the poster?  We have no available wall space left.  His answer “I’ll take something down.”

Great!  I wonder what item gets demoted for the promotion of poster showing the various types of Warblers.  Time will tell, because he’ll have to get it framed first.  Now the T-shirt, whenever I see a new one of those come into the house or in his hands to purchase I just laugh.  Why?  Because the man could probably wear a different T-shirt for the next 90-120 days before having to do laundry.  Granted a few of them may be showing their wear, have paint on them or a few holes, but for the most part they are good, nothing wrong with them T-shirts from various places and festivities.  However, we would not want him to feel deprived of a Bird Week shirt from Magee Marsh, so the purchase was made.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Magee Marsh is located in Ohio and is a great place for photographers and bird watchers. It is where Warblers gather each spring before flying over Lake Erie on their migration north in the spring.  Unfortunately we were a bit early and there weren’t many birds at the location yet.  It was a nice, warm day on the boardwalk, and if you look around you can usually find things to photograph, such as moss growing on a log, or a turtle sunning himself in the sun.

There are two kinds of people you find at the Marsh this time of year.  The photographers, like Ron and I, with our camera’s and large lenses to capture photographs or the true bird watchers who are carrying bird books, check lists, and binoculars.  Both are friendly groups, so a nice mixture to share space with.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

About half way around the marsh my bad ankle started causing me problems, with pain shooting from the ankle up to the knee.  We were almost at the end when my wonderful husband did his best to take my mind off the sore, swollen and throbbing ankle.  As I was standing with my back to him, sore foot off the ground and one hand holding the boardwalk rail for balance, Ron swung his camera around to take a photograph of a bird up in a tree.  Sounds simple and uneventful, doesn’t it?  Only one glitch, in the process he clobbers me in the back of the head with his 150-500mm lens,  I hear an “oops” and he is off and shooting.  Luckily the head only hurt for a few minutes after I hobbled my way to the end of the boardwalk and sat down on a bench to wait for him to finish.

We get in the car, and as we start to roll down the long exit road from the Marsh I look at him and say “For future reference, hitting me in the back of the head with your camera lens did not draw my attention away from my sore ankle.”

Ron has it duly noted, but makes no guarantees it won’t happen again.  Such is life with a photographer, the shot must come first, but as I am also a photographer I understand the process.

Photographs by Grace Grogan are available for sale on Fine Art America.

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Filed under birds, bugs, nature, Photography

What Makes a Volunteer?

What is it that causes some people to volunteer repeatedly?  They are active in everything, always jump in to lend a helping hand, and juggle several volunteer positions, full time jobs, and other obligations.

Why is it some people never volunteer?  They will joint an organization, but never go beyond the membership stage.  Even when the organization is in desperate need of assistance, they refuse to lend a helping hand.

I have been a volunteer in a variety of organizations over the past 30+ years.  If you belong to several organizations you find that it is always the same people that volunteer, always picking up the slack while others sit idly by.  What is it that causes this difference in people’s willingness to give.  Why is it some people can juggle huge loads and always take on something else, while others are overwhelmed with one or two things?

This has been on my mind for several reasons.  I belong to the St. Clair County Family History Group.  A few years ago our treasurer passed away unexpectedly, and no one was willing to step up and fill that persons shoes.  After a year one person said she would do it — the only reason she hadn’t volunteered before is because that is the type of work she does for a living, she held other committee positions, and was hoping someone would step up to the plate and take the position.  No one did, so Sue stepped in and has done a phenomenal job for years.  Sue made an announcement in May 2014 that she and her husband were planning to retire and move to Michigan’s U.P. within 1-2 years and that she would no longer be able to handle the position of treasurer.  She announced early so that if someone wanted to take over and have her handy to answer any questions and walk them through the steps while she was still in the area, that would make the transition easy.  No one volunteered.  She has now submitted her “formal” written resignation to the president.  I am wondering, actually doubtful, if anyone will volunteer.Volunteer - Make  a Life by What we Give

Now you may wonder why I don’t take the position.  The reason, I already hold a board position as Vice President, plus I am Newsletter Editor for the club.  I also try to manage the website, a position that was emptied and no one took over.   I am not good with the website and have been asking for about four years for someone to take it over, but no one has.  I announced a year ago that I was willing to hand over the VP position, which only requires you to run the meeting in the event the President is absent, which has never happened in the past 11 years I have been a member, and once a year you put together the Annual Report – a booklet of all the committee chairs annual reports.  No one volunteered and so I continued in that position.   In the same club we have another member who is moving out of state and has announced that her board position and committee chair position will be vacant.     That means we now have two board positions that need to be filled and two committee chair positions that need to be filled immediately.   I have my doubts that there will be anyone who steps up to the plate and takes on the openings, because we have other committee positions that have been vacant for years.

I am also a member of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club and have held various positions over the years, the most recent was as Member at Large — a board position that is relatively easy to have.  The Vice President of that club is moving out of State and had announced that his position would be vacant and someone would need to take over.  Every month before the meeting begins the VP walks around and solicits three members who have had the training to serve as part of a 3-judge panel for the photo competition that month.  The person also has a short 30-60 minute commitment once a week to pre-judge the photos submitted, making sure they are suitable for the categories they have been submitted into.  A relatively easy position with low commitment.  I was not going to be at the meeting in which the elections were taking place, but let the leaving person know that in the event no one volunteered I would take over.  Need I mention that I am now Vice President of the BW Shutterbugs?

I have spent most of my adult life volunteering in various organizations.  When my kids were young I was active in the PTO, serving as secretary for 6-7 years, chairing a committee that gathered and added grocery receipts from a particular store to raise money for the school, chaired a prize committee for the annual carnival, chaperoned field trips and volunteered in the classroom from time to time, all while holding down a full-time job.  I also was co-leader of the girl scouts, leader of the Tiger Cubs, secretary for a collectible club, and in addition to my full-time office position sold Tupperware.  My kids were involved in karate, scouting, AWANA and dance. Oh, I almost forgot, I volunteered in the nursery at the church we were attending.  If I could do that with two young children at home, why can’t people who are retired and have no young children at home dedicate some of their time to an organization?

This past weekend I attended a workshop where the purpose was to handcraft items that will be placed in gift boxes.  Those boxes are donated to hospitals to be presented to parents who give birth to stillborn babies or whose babies die shortly after birth.  They include gowns for the baby to be buried in, tiny stuffed animals, blankets, hats, etc.   A very important and much needed item so I dedicated my Saturday, from noon to 9 pm to help out.  While I was at the workshop someone asked me what I do in my free time.  I guess when you put it all in a list, it overwhelms some people.

What do I do?  I am Vice President and Newsletter Editor of the St. Clair County Family History Group, Vice President of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club, I write a genealogy column for The Lakeshore Guardian, I am an opinion columnist for The Times Herald, I have a weekly blog, I am writing a book about our families dealings with DHS and trying to adopt our granddaughters, my husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and we both have photos in a local art gallery, for sale in a local hospital, for sale at a couple local stores and we both have websites on Fine Art America, plus a business Facebook page, Times Gone By Photography.    In addition to that I work full time as a paralegal, and my hobbies include scrapbooking, reading, photography, and genealogy.

When people say I should relax, eliminate some of those items, I respond “Why?”   If you don’t have a wide range of interests and activities life becomes boring.  I don’t want to reach my old age and have nothing to look back on, regrets that I didn’t do things, or be bored in retirement because I have no hobbies or interests to keep me busy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can do the couch potato in front of the TV just like everyone else.  Then I realize that the things I want to do are sliding away and I get busy again.  My “chill time” gets me re-energized for the next round of activity.

What makes a volunteer?  Why are some people willing to plunge right in wherever needed and others always spend their time on the sidelines, observing but never fully participating?

Are you a volunteer or an observer?  What are your reasons for the position you take on volunteering?

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Filed under Activities, events, friendship, hobbies, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, time, work

Pinback Paradise

When someone suggested I start a blog I found it a bit of a daunting challenge.  That was mainly due to my misconception of what a blog required.  When I realized that I don’t have to post on a daily basis and that I don’t have to stick with just one narrow topic I knew I was up to the challenge.  Now all I had to do was pick a title for the blog.  I wanted my title to fit my life, and because my Life Is Like A Camera I needed something to fit that description and so Life is a Melting Pot was born.

Life is Like a Camera.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is Like a Camera. Photo by Grace Grogan

I can’t believe it has been 10 months and 50 posts since it all began.  I have written about fun topics, emotional issues, vacations, and life in general.  Hopefully you have all gotten to know me a little better over the past few months.

When it comes to my life, It All Began in the Cherry Capitol of the World, but Yesterday’s Bar Pick-up tells the story of how I met my husband.  We have enjoyed many activities over the years, vacations, having kids, boating, jet skis, mopeds, and motorcycles, accidents and cancer.   It’s been 33 years, well sort of 34 takes a look back at our marriage and Life Altering Impact after a car ran a stop sign and broadsided me when I was on my motorcycle.

As I was completing high school I did not follow my true career interest, Why Didn’t I do It?  Instead I became a secretary, which caused me to reflect on the Evolution of a Clerical Worker.  Now I wonder Who Am I? as I take on the roles of paralegal, writer and photographer.  Of course everyone has many aspects to their personality, and that is why I love Songs About Me and found a Blog Bonus – A Perfect Quote that I shared with everyone, even though I soon found myself Caught in a Tornado

Patrick and his girls - Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

Patrick and his girls – Kiley, Katlyn, Kae-Lee

With The Power of Emotion I dealth with the loss of one of our granddaughters, Kae-Lee Joy Grogan, who we were trying to adopt but instead was awarded to her foster care parents for adoption.  I dug a little deeper into that story when I talked about Attempted Adoption:  An Emotional Whirlwind.    That story has yet to end.

In the meantime life moves on, and let’s face it You are a Guaranteed Winner when you experience the Backyard Exploration of a 3-Year Old and enjoy a Thanksgiving that includes Tossed Turkey and Dog Food.    Let’s Get Prepped for education because although we all have a Haunted Past we can enjoy a bit of nostalgia because Everyone Loves a Letter.  Modern technology makes us realize the benefits of  Letter v. Email and how with all our modern conveniences we should not be Running Out of Time. 

Who's out there?  Photo by Grace Grogan

Who’s out there? Photo by Grace Grogan

We should all Preserve the Memories of our lives because Looking Out My Front Door at snow on leaves that have not changed color makes you realize the the Wild Weather Past and Present is not something new, but something you may want to remember.  After all, Putting a Spin on Things can help you take an artistic, creative look at what might at first glance appear to be Delightfully Drab.   That is why I enjoy participating in the World Wide Photo Walk and a passion of mine is strolling through old burial grounds doing Cemetery Shooting.    It is important to enjoy the beauty around us everywhere, keep it beautiful so we never again have The Crying Indian. 

Reflections in Nature - Photo by Grace Grogan

Reflections in Nature – Photo by Grace Grogan

Life is never dull in My Crazy Week where I have been known to wonder Where Have All the Spiders Gone then dissapointed to find out They’re Back after which I felt the need to enjoy the amusement of a 3-year old and 8-year old saying goodbye to them in Blog Bonus-SpidersHowever those creatures are not the only ones to enhance our property, after all, we have Master Bath Guests.

I’m not what I would call a political person, but wondered if my thoughts about undocumented children being brought into this country were Cold Hearted and Cruel or Realistic.  I know that first impressions of people are not always accurate and discussed Impressions v. Reality while not hesitating to Toot My Own Horn about a column I had published on problems with the foster care system.

As I traveled this summer I found that my decision to finally invest in a smart phone challenging but in the end realized that I’m Hooked when it allowed me to take movies and post pictures instantly during our vacation.  I love a Blue Water Summer  but have to admit that Vacation Planning is something I enjoy doing and can lead to a wide range of adventures and learniing how things can be the Same but Different, including a weekend on an Uninhabited and Unconnected Island or a spring day on the Magee Marsh Bird Trail. 

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me.  Photograph by Grace Grogan

Scared the heck out of me as I was zoomed in to take a photograph when he started straight at me. Photograph by Grace Grogan

As the year wound down we enjoyed New Life with the birth of our newest granddaughter, Alexandria Louise, enjoyed a Merry Christmas and ended the year by Kicking 2014 Goodbye as we started the new year with Slippery Surgical Stress and are now looking forward to Good Things in 2015.

With that we end this Pingback Paradise reflection of my first 50 posts to this blog.  I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse back, maybe linked into some of my old posts and enjoyed a read you may have missed during the past 10 months.

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Filed under career, decisions, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, Photography, travel

Merry Christmas

My Christmas Tree.  Photo by Grace Grogan

My Christmas Tree. Photo by Grace Grogan

Wishing Everyone a Merry Christmas.

This year we had family Christmas with my sister, her daughters and grandchildren on the 21st of December, followed by Christmas with my daughter, three grandsons and daughter’s boyfriend on Christmas Eve.  All previous years Caroline came

Caroline with her three children, Alexandria, Corbin and Austin; Linda with her two Children, Aiden and Marney.

Caroline with her three children, Alexandria, Corbin and Austin; Linda with her two Children, Aiden and Marney.

over with her kids on Christmas Day after they had opened gifts at home, but this year we had to make different arrangements.

Our oldest grandson, Austin, was leaving at 9 pm Christmas Eve to spend the rest of his Christmas vacation at his father’s house. This created a bit of a dilemma as my daughter’s boyfriend, Rob, had to work the morning of Christmas Eve, so it raised a problem with when Santa should arrive. The solution – Santa came to our house, left a note explaining why all the gifts were here and not at their house.

Corbin and Austin

Corbin and Austin

Once Rob was out of work they all came over to our house, arriving around 2 pm for pizza and gift opening. This worked out perfect as Austin was then able to go home and play his new and #1 gift wish, Skylander, before leaving to go to his dad’s for the rest of his Christmas break. Corbin, who will be 4 on the 30th of December, was thrilled with his Thomas The Train tracks, his fire engines and cars.  He is a kid that likes anything with wheels, but his number one love is trains.  Alexandria, just born on the 12th of December slept through the entire event.  She looked adorable in her “Baby’s First  Christmas” shirt sleeping away.

Ron and I waited until the gang had left before we opened our main gifts for ourselves — new Nikon D750 Cameras and gear.  Since we had no children in the house or gifts to open on Christmas morning, we were able to spend the time figuring out our new cameras and getting them programmed the way we wanted.

I hope all of you had a fun-filled Christmas celebration.

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Filed under children, Family, grandchildren, Holidays, Life is a Melting Pot

Cemetery Shooting

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

The quietness envelopes you. A light drizzle of rain can add to the atmosphere. The headstones are old and weathered, some no longer can be read. Some are sinking into the ground, barely visible but still maintained by loved ones of the modern day with flowers or flags beside them. Ancestors who are not forgotten but are sinking into the ground forever.  There are headstones with elaborate carvings, statues signifying the importance of the person or an affluent  family.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2014

Grave of Chester Haight.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Grave of Chester Haight. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Look at the dates. One hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, walking on ancient burial ground. What were their lives like back then? What was the ceremony like that layed the person to rest at this location? What was the reason for their passing? Life spans were not as lengthy back then. What did they accomplish in such a short time on earth?

Crawford Settlement Burying Ground.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Crawford Settlement Burying Ground. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

The most heart wrenching are the baby plots.   Infants, toddlers, and children laid to rest at such a young age. What caused them to pass before their life had begun? Was it childhood diseases that no longer exist? An accident? Why do so many children die at such a young age?

These are the things that go through the mind as you wander old cemeteries. That is why I love shooting pictures at cemeteries. They are peaceful, calming, and are wonderfully interesting places to take photographs.

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Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

I like to stop at old cemeteries when by myself.  Most people think I’m a bit crazy to enjoy wandering a cemetery for an hour or more taking photographs, only to leave that one and drive to another. I have visited as many as four cemeteries in one day, each one with something different to offer.

I hope you enjoy my cemetery photographs. If you ever want to take a peaceful walk, stroll an old cemetery. Don’t go to a modern one, they lack  personality. Pick an old one with ancient, tall headstones, weathered with age, and enjoy a relaxing stroll.

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2013

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Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

 

Almost lost but not forgotten.  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

Almost lost but not forgotten. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2013.

 

 

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Filed under exploration, genealogy, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography