Nov 19, 2014

A Lesson In Stepping Out

While we were in Nepal, Wonder Boy, Frankenstein, Outside and I all took a chartered plane ride past Mount Everest. We had figured that this trip would be the closest we would ever get to the Himalayas and that none of use was likely to ever hike to Mount Everest. But a plane ride? Well within all of our skill sets.

We woke up early so we could be flying at first light. I had seen photos from a friend's trip and she had gone on a similar flight. Based on her photos, I was excited for the photography opportunities. I had my camera ready to go!

When we got on the plane, I was disappointed to see that my window’s view was partially blocked by the plane’s wing. But with careful careening of my neck, I could still get a wing-free picture. In between snapping shots, I tried to take in the view. To absorb everything I was seeing. But just like the window was blocked, my mental state was partially blocked by my singular focus on getting some pictures.

I’ve been going through my pictures from the trip and have learned a valuable lesson. While I was busy trying to take good photographs, I should have been more focused on the great view. Because you know what? My raw photos aren't good. They are streaked and blurred by whatever was on my plane window. The plane’s wing makes many appearances.

Heavily edited in Photoshop, I have some that look okay. But I'm not sure any of my handful of photos match in beauty, even close, what I know I saw.

A view of the Himalayas, as seen from a flight by Mount Everest.

That leads me wondering if I got my money’s worth. Or at least everything I could have from the experience. I’m not sure. If I didn’t, though, it’s my fault. The flight wasn’t about what I could see through my viewfinder. It was what I could take in and embrace. That flight was about seeing individual homes in remote areas of the Himalayas. It was about getting as close to Mount Everest as I’ll ever be. It was about being in awe, and a little incredulous, of anyone willing to climb those mountaintops. It was about seeing Mother Nature in one of her finest acts.

That flight was about a singular experience. I regret that I wasn’t able to step out from behind my camera for a while longer and enjoy it more.

That’s a relatively inexpensive lesson for me to learn, in the grand scheme of things. The same thing applies to me hiding behind my phone screen being “social” or sitting behind a computer screen “interacting” with people. Not everything has to be captured and documented. Not everything needs proof. The experience might be so much better than any of that and all the proof I need is stored in my head.

Nov 17, 2014

Peculiar and Fabulous

I’ve been intending to write a review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and the follow-up, Hollow City, for some time now. I enjoyed the books so much but I don’t know how to adequately describe them.

I enjoyed the stories in part because they were not at all what I was expecting. Even the genre was different than I had anticipated. I’m fascinated by how the author, Ransom Riggs, used old photography throughout the books. I couldn’t help but wonder what came first – the images or the stories. I hope it was the images because it makes his creative process so much more unique to me!

I think I could make some attempt here to describe to you what Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City are about. Or, I could do you a bigger favor and just instruct you to go read the books. Learn nothing about them beforehand. Dive headfirst into the story and be prepared to be transported to a wonderfully peculiar place.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.

Nov 12, 2014

Peanut Butter Overload

Forbidden Fruit(y Pebbles)

In this edition of the Forbidden Fruit(y Pebbles), where I enlist my family and friends to go back and taste test all of the cereals our moms wouldn't let us eat growing up, Wonder Boy and I sample Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch and Reese's Puffs. What will they be like as adults? Will they be as good as we suspected? Or, were our moms right all along?

Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch

At least Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch really does taste like peanut butter.
Have you had this cereal before?

Wonder Boy: No
Me: No


As a kid, what did you think it would taste like?

Wonder Boy: Peanut butter heaven!
Me: Warm toast topped with melted peanut butter.


Now that you've tried it, what do you think it tastes like?

Wonder Boy: It was everything I thought it would be. It lives up to the crunch!
Me: I was pretty dead-on. It tastes like warm toast topped with melted peanut butter topped with a healthy coating of sugar.


Was your mom right or wrong to not let you eat this?

Wonder Boy: She was right, probably. This is not good for you.
Me: She was definitely right. This doesn't taste healthy at all.


Other Comments:

Wonder Boy: I think this is a keeper, but I want to see how it stands up to Reese's Puffs.
Me: This is better than I expected. It doesn't taste like breakfast but it's still pretty good.


The Verdict: We both approve!


Reese's Puffs

Reese' Puffs have only the slightest taste of delicious Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Have you had this cereal before?

Wonder Boy: Yes, but as an adult.
Me: No


As a kid, what did you think it would taste like?

Wonder Boy: Reese cups being my kryptonite, it should live up to expectations.
Me: Like a Reese's peanut butter cup, I hope!

Now that you've tried it, what do you think it tastes like?

Wonder Boy: Peanut buttery chocolate goodness.
Me: One bite and I'm done. This is gross. I get hints of Reese's cups, but so, so much worse.


Was your mom right or wrong to not let you eat this?

Wonder Boy: Definitely wrong!
Me: Right. Thank you.


Other Comments:

Wonder Boy: I want to rub this cereal all over my face.
Me: How can I get rid of the taste in my mouth.


The Verdict: I'm not sure Wonder Boy is a valid judge of things flavored like peanut butter and chocolate... He loves both while I'm split.

Nov 8, 2014

A Letter to the Many Cats in My Life

To Adagio and Notorious B.I.G.,

There are so many reasons I should not like you. Addy, I regularly wake up to your nose being about an inch away from mine, your hot cat-food-smelling breath in my face. I know you're just checking to see if I am awake because that's the only acceptable reason for my hands to not be petting you, but it's a little creepy. Biggie, you're brain must be the size of a peanut because you do so many dumb things, such as the recent dental-floss-hanging-out-of-your-butt incident and your insistence on still looking for more dental floss to eat.

And yet.

I am filled with joy when it's my lap you choose to sit on while we watch TV or my chest you want to sit on at night. I love watching you chase after invisible bugs or that red dot you will never catch. I apologize excessive for the hugs and for loving to dress you up so much, but you both look so darn cute in a necktie or band t-shirt.

Pretty soon and I am going to be spending some time at home recovering from some medical stuff and I'm already plotting ways to make it so you can still be by my side. This afternoon I'm heading out to buy a bed tray so that 20 pounds of cat can't jump on me, but can still curl up alongside me. I know cats get a bad reputation for not being as loving and as attentive as dogs. But Addy and Biggie, I've seen you be both and I'm expecting you to step it up over these next several weeks!

The Big Lady

Adagio is a rescue cat that's turned into the sweetest old man.
Adagio used to be quite ornery but he's turned into the sweetest old man.
Biggie is handsome and he knows it.
We adopted Notorious B.I.G. several years ago from a rescue. He's full of personality!
To the series of outside cats living in our yard, currently including Bolt and Winston Churchill,

I don't know how you survive outside winter after winter. You'd know I'd bring you inside! But that has failed too many times. So me and Big Man put food out for you and watch in awe as you chase off raccoons to protect your turf and your dinner.

I wish you would see my garden as a beautiful patch of flowers and not as a giant litter box, but it warms my heart when I see you belly-up in a spot of sunshine.

This winter sounds like it will be a cold one. You're already bulking up (do you ever stop bulking up?) so I think you'll be okay, but know that there will be plenty of food and a warm Snuggle Safe waiting on the back porch for you.

The Lady Who Terrorizes You By Periodically Bringing You Inside

This is Bolt, so named because when he sees you, he Bolts.
This is Bolt, so named because when he sees you, he Bolts.
Winston Churchill is a new addition and has not yet been agreeable to a photo shoot.

To All of the Cats at the Rescue,

When I met Wonder Boy eleven years ago, I was not a fan of cats. Then I met his two guys and started to change my opinions. In 2005 when I started volunteering at the animal rescue, I was completely won over and now qualify as a crazy cat lady. I'm happy that for one day a week I get to have 50-100 cats. I'm also relieved that I don't have to carry too much guilt about not taking you all home with me because you all either find your way into wonderful forever homes or have a squadron of volunteers giving you more attention than a lot of people receive.

Since volunteering at the rescue, I've met some of my best friends, human and animal, and learned a lot about caregiving. I no longer flinch, too much, at getting poop on me. I know the terror of bathing a kitten and giving cats medicine but can do those things relatively easily now. I've also learned about the collective power of a group of people all dedicated to the same mission and that's pretty amazing.

Volunteer night is my favorite day of the week. It's the only time I know I can expect to hold an entire litter of kittens on my arms, get head butts and pet the seemingly stand-offish but gloriously soft Reba.

Love you all,

Some of the cats from the animal rescue at which I volunteer.
Some of these cats have been adopted since their photos were taken.
See all of the cats looking for forever homes from the animal rescue at which I volunteer.

This post was inspired by A Letter to My Cat by Lisa Erspamer, a collection of letters penned by celebrities to their furry friend. Join From Left to Write on November 10th as we discuss A Letter to My Cat. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.