Highlights

The hummingbirds have been out in force. I counted four of them this afternoon, dive bombing each other out of the magnolia and pine trees by the patio. I’ve been having a lot of fun sitting outside after dinner with my camera, attempting to photograph them. They’re such fast little creatures, squeaking indignantly at each other, always on the look out, never resting. They’re one of my favorite things about summer.

So are these guys.

Dave and I have photographed a couple bike races over the last couple weeks, and we have another one coming up this Saturday. It’s been hot, but the cool shade along the bike trails helps out immensely.

I love these next two pictures. The dirt of a hard days’ work at the tire shop where Joe works combined with the gentle cupping of the blueberries in his hands; the strength and defiance of Meghan’s stance during a practice session atop a parking garage one evening a few weeks ago. I had these ideas in my head and my kids helped me make them come true.

There’s just something about water that speaks to me. Being around it, being in it, hearing it gurgling or roaring near by triggers something inside me. I’m not sure what that thing is, but I turn into an excited little kid on summer vacation. Time seems to stand still and happy memories of days spent cooling off and playing at the city pool as a kid fill my head.

I took a trip out to a local kayak park last Friday and happily waded about, shooting this kayaker having his morning work out. I think David and I are going to paddle board down this river as soon as our weekends become a little less busy. I stayed for an hour and shot nearly 1,000 frames.

Like I said, I lose all sense of time when I’m around water.

David and I have begun planning our summer trip to Montana. We leave July 27 and will be gone for almost two weeks. Some mountain bike friends of our are riding in an enduro race being held in Big Sky, Montana and we thought it’d be fun to go up and photograph them. We plan on cutting up through Kansas and hitting western Nebraska (an area that we’ve been curious about, thanks to photographer Bill Frakes, whom we both follow on Instagram), before crossing over into Wyoming. From Wyoming, we’ll hit Yellowstone Nat’l. Park and Grand Tetons Nat’l. Park before finally reaching Big Sky, Montana. This’ll be our first trip sans children, our first Big Trip, in almost 26 years.

And it’s a good thing because our trip list consists of all kinds of photo gear, tripods, a fly fishing pole, a mountain bike, cooler and running gear!

But first, there’s the Bella Vista Enduro Race, a senior portrait session, hair cuts, a doctor appointment and everything else that daily living requires.

But oh, we are counting down the days!

On Life, Podcasts and List Making

I’ve recently taken up listening to podcasts as I run and while driving around town doing errands. I’ve never been one to enjoy listening to others talk, preferring music to listen to as I pound the pavement in the mornings, but these last few months, I’ve found that podcast help take my mind off the task I’m doing at the moment, whether that be running seven miles or running to the cleaners.

I’ve got about eight podcasts in my music library, but the three that I listen to the most are The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show, The Make Light Show by Karen Walrond, and The Candid Frame by Ibarionex Perello. They’re all full of creativity, uplifting your life and photography. Jarvis and Perello regularly have various creatives and photographers on their shows talking about how they got their start in their own personal field and/or personal projects. It’s fascinating to hear other artists talk about what brings them joy and satisfaction.

Walrond often has shorter shows, but she has interviewed other artists and entrepreneurs, too. It was during one of her podcasts that I was listening to on my way to the dentist Tuesday morning that really got me thinking. She was talking about following your curiosity and about list making, something that I spend far too much of my time doing. The first list she talked about was called a “Love List”. A Love List is a list where you write down every single thing you love:

if you love to plant flowers, write that down

if you love to paint, write that down

if you love texting, write that down

if you love eating, singing in the shower or watching Netflix, all those get written down.

The Love List should consist of everything you love, be it silly or serious. Some of the things on my Love List include daydreaming, baking, bumblebees, running, horse racing, coffee houses, making a mess, naps, paddle boarding, Civil War battlefields, traveling, a tidy house, throwing rocks in the water, laughing, cooking shows, exploring, hiking, list making, kayaking, thrifting, the Flint Hills of Kansas, being curious, new notebooks and campfires. I’ve got tons more, but those are just a few of the things I absolutely love right now. I know I’ll add more, but this is a start.

The other list Walrond discussed is something called a Life List, somewhat of a Bucket List, and I’ve been going to town on this one and having a ball. On your Life List, write down things you hope to do during your life. She suggested to dream big, but also to dream small to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your Big Dreams. These are meant to be fun activities to do during your life time, and it’s okay to go overboard in your dreaming . . . that’s why you have smaller, achievable dreams coinciding alongside the larger ones.

I sat down Friday afternoon with a notebook and a pen and began dreaming. Some of the things on my Life List are:

  1. learn how to tap dance

  2. run the Pikes Peak Half Marathon in 2020

  3. master making a home made pie crust

  4. travel to Mongolia

  5. take a cake decorating class

  6. ride an elephant

  7. visit Legoland in Denmark

  8. take a hot air balloon ride

  9. meet Donna Hopkins & Cathy Sly in person

  10. photograph ballet dancers

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The point of both these lists is one, find out what it is that makes you curious (the Love List) and two, what is it that inspires your curiosity (the Life List) and then . . . just begin.

A Golden Afternoon

I spend far too much time working, tweaking, trying to perfect a photo in Photoshop Monday morning, only to give up in disgust and order the other photo that I liked better to begin with and call it a day. I hear the birds calling to each other outside, the little Carolina wren especially singing her heart out in the sunny blue skied world and I make a command decision. I throw wet clothes in the dryer, set it for an hour, stuff water bottles, my camera and the dog’s leash into my backpack and load up Langley, lifting her into the back of my car because she can no longer manage the big jump up, telling her that she made a really good effort and to mind her head as I slam the door shut.

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We hike for what seems like hours, playing in creeks, finding the first wildflowers of the season, exploring new trails and meeting other hikers and explorers and mountain bikers, all of us overjoyed at the beautiful day that has been gifted to us after such a long, dreary and colorless winter.

Langley runs far ahead of me on the trail, so far that I sometimes lose sight of her and just when I grow a tad bit concerned, here she comes flying back to me, bouncing around my feet like a bunny rabbit, a big grin plastered on her face from ear to ear. She loves these trails, always wanting to go further and further, nose to the ground smelling country smells, smells different than the town smells she meets up with on our afternoon walks. Here at Mt. Kessler she can run and be free and be the dog that she knows she’s meant to be. If she was younger and didn’t have such bad arthritis in her hips, then yes, I would hike as long as she wanted because I love the trails, the smells, the flowers, the fresh breezes and the freedom of all responsibilities that Mt. Kessler offers. But I also know that we eventually have to turn around and hike back to the car, and with Langley’s hips and the fact that she has no idea how to pace herself, that might take a little longer. I cup my hand and pour water into it for her to drink, her bright pink tongue slurping up the water and tickling my hand. She looks up at me, grins and runs off, back to the trail ahead and finding more smells, more crevices to investigate, more creeks to splash around in and play.

After calling after her several times and clapping my hands, she comes barreling back to me and I explain to her that we need to head back to the car, that it’s getting close to her supper time and we need to get back home. She looks a little confused, but I tell her that we can come back out another day and she falls behind me, letting me lead the way for the first time that afternoon. The sun is casting her long golden fingers through the bare branches of the trees above us as we reach the parking lot. I wipe down the dog, asking her if she had fun and what a good hiking companion she is. She sneaks a quick lick on my nose and I pick her up and put her in the back of my car once more. We’re both quiet on the way home, all the windows down so Langley can smell the smells and stick her head out the window like dogs do, her black velvety ears flapping in the wind.

She and I both sleep hard that night, both of us worn out from the day’s adventure.

A good kind of worn out.