Thursday, August 30, 2012

I had a baby!

Posted by Amy Baranski

Hello blog! I'm happy to announce that Babeski is a Boyski! Last month I labored and delivered our darling son, Japhy River.

His name comes from one of the main characters in the book, The Dharma Bums written by the beatific writer Jack Kerouac, and recalls a journey my husband and I had climbing Desolation Peak in the Northern Cascades a few years ago. At the peak of Desolation is a fire lookout where writer Jack Kerouac stayed during the summer of 1956.

Japhy came to us full term and nine days before his estimated due date. A tiny baby and with all parts intact he was born at home in a pool of warm water. From the time my water broke (in a nearby restaurant) to the time I held him in my arms he took only seven and a half hours to arrive. It stands as one of the craziest and most blessed nights of my life. Darling Japhy.

He's a dream.

"And suddenly I saw the Northwest was a great deal more than the little vision I had of it of Japhy in my mind. It was miles and miles of unbelievable mountains grooking on all horizons in the wild broken clouds, Mount Olympus and Mount Baker, a giant orange sash in the gloom over the Pacific-ward skies that led I knew toward the Hokkaido Siberian desolations of the world. I huddled against the bridgehouse hearing the Mark Twain talk of the skipper and the wheelman inside. In the deepened dusk fog ahead the big red neons saying: PORT OF SEATTLE. And suddenly everything Japhy had ever told me about Seattle began to seep into me like cold rain, I could feel it and see it now, and not just think it. It was exactly like he'd said: wet, immense, timbered, mountainous, cold, exhilarating, challenging. The ferry nosed in at the pier on Alaskan Way and immediately I saw the totem poles in old stores and the ancient 1880-style switch goat with sleepy firemen chug chugging up and down the waterfront spur like a scene from my old dreams, the old Casey Jones locomotive of American, the only one I ever saw that old outside of Western movies, but actually working and hauling boxcars in the smoky gloom of the magic city."Now I was beginning to see the Cascades on the northeast horizon, unbelievable jags and twisted rock and snow-covered immensities, enough to make you gulp. The road ran right through the dreamy fertile valleys of the Stilaquamish [Stillaguamish] and the Skagit, rich butterfat valleys with farms and cows browsing under that tremendous background of snow-pure heaps. The further north I hitched the bigger the mountains got till I finally began to feel afraid. I got a ride from a fellow who looked like a bespectacled careful lawyer in a conservative car, but turned out that he was the famous Bat Lindstrom the hardtop racing champion and his conservative automobile had in it a souped-up motor that could make it go a hundred and seventy miles an hour ...
"The fellows who picked me up were loggers, uranium prospectors, farmers, they drove me through the final big town of Skagit Valley, Sedro Woolley, a farming market town, and then out as the road got narrower and more curved among cliffs and the Skagit River, which we'd crossed on 99 as a dreaming belly river with meadows on both sides, was now a pure torrent of melted snow pouring narrow and fast between muddy snag shores. Cliffs began to appear on both sides. The snow-covered mountains themselves had disappeared, receded from my view, I couldn't see them any more but now I was beginning to feel them more" (The Dharma Bums, 222-223).

Photo Project: Day 29

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Watering the gardens.  I love how the kale looks as big as Talullah!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Photo Project: Day 28

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Yesterday, I cleaned out my storage unit in the basement.  We went from having huge basements all to ourselves when we owned/rented houses in the past.  Now, living in an apartment, we had to consolidate (or get rid of) everything that doesn't go into our living space to fit into one 11x5 space.  I clean it out about twice a year, and in between those times, things just pile up everywhere and you can't even walk into it.

This cleaning started because I need to have binders for school, and I knew I had a lot of binders holding old school or home records from Baltimore that could be emptied out and re-used.  I cleared out 10 binders worth of old information, as well as three boxes of random papers.  I recycled all the documents from buying and selling homes, read through old love letters from Jamie, admired a few saved pieces of artwork from the kids, read through pregnancy records from our first child, as well as a few old journals from that time in my life.  It was a cathartic day.

Photo project: Day 27

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Salad.  It's what's for dinner.  If only it had been more in focus.  Sigh.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Photo Project: Day 26

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Home again, home again.  Back to washing everything by hand..good bye dishwasher at that amazing vacation home.

Photo Project: Day 25

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
On many levels...a guilty pleasure of mine.  Target Popcorn.  But it's only 300 calories per bag!  Every time my friend goes to Target, she brings me home a bag.  She's the best!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photo Project: Day 24

I really do take it a 7:20 pm. Everyday, when my alarm goes off, my kids it 7:20??? Yes! Yes, it is!!

Photo Project: Day 23

Went wine tasting today. So, so lovely.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Photo Project: Day 19

I missed day 18! I think. I am on vacation and loving every minute of it. I am blogging via an app on my phone, so it's hard for me to navigate and keep track. But one things for sure, Lake Chelan is offering stunning scenery for photography month!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Photo Project: Days 16 & 17

These demonstrate two things: the blog has offered my daughter an opportunity to find one of her passions and we eat too much pizza.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fields of Joy

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I am leaving town tomorrow for a week, on vacation!  As excited as I am, I find myself stressing about every little thing.  Did I spend too much money on food?  Did I buy enough food?  Did I buy too much?  What if I forget something?  Shit, I forgot the feta cheese...damn, that meal will suck without it.  What if I don't get my dishes clean before we leave?  Shit, I forgot my step-father-in-law's birthday last week and he's going to be here in two hours...what in the hell am I going to get him?  How could I forget his birthday!
"Let's wander slowly through the fields, the fields of joy." - Lenny Kravitz

My mind races on and on.  I am cranky with my kids.  Cranky with my husband.  And my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth together.  All of this...because of a vacation!?!

What am I doing to myself?  Am I the only crazy person out there that does this?  I think in the world I do a fairly good job at keeping up this calm, cool and collected front.  In fact, I guess I am that person most of the time, until it all comes falling apart.  Falling apart to the tune of such a trivial song.

It's time to be joyful and thankful.  Everyone just stop for one moment, right now.  Stop and be thankful for what you have.  Stop yelling at your kids, your husband, or beating up yourself.  There's got to be some grain of a reason for gratitude and I challenge you to find it.  Right now.

I don't want to be that cranky person.  That jealous person.  That stressed out Mama.  As I near this mile-marker birthday (turning 40! can I get a what what!), I am realizing more and more, that it is simply a choice.  Every time I feel my jaw clenching with stress and anger, I can choose to let it go. Even if it's only releasing the muscles in my jaw, physically, training myself to let go of that tension.

I want to be thankful.  I want to be joyful.  And I want to let the times of stress wash over me, so I can embrace true anger and sadness when they arise, go through it and then keep walking.  I know it's hard in our fast paced, gotta have and do everything, lifestyle.  But every once in a while, I am reminded to slow down...and I am inviting you to do the same.

PS.  Thanks for listening to my process/rant...I hope in some way it is helpful.

Photo Project: Day 15

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

What do two twelve year olds do with a box of straws and leftover pegboard from a headboard crafting session?  Make a modern art installation, of course!  This is what my daughter and her bestie created, and it now hangs front and center in our living room.

Of course, at first, when I walked into the room and saw crap (art supplies in their minds) everywhere, I did freak a little.  I ranted a little about cleaning up after themselves, and thought about if these items were recyclable, because that was where this crap was headed after they were done.  When they finished, and after they took down the beautiful artwork I had hanging on my wall, they hung their piece.  And that's when it hit me, this crap is ART!  It's been there ever since.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Photo Project: Day 14

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
The latest attempt at getting my kids to be helpful around the house, $1.00 per Fast 15.  Here's to hoping a list of possibilities becomes endless.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Photo Project: Days 12 & 13

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Both photos were taken with the $1.99 app I bought yesterday.  I think it sucks.  There were other shots that were way worse.  Perhaps I just need to learn how to use it, but it proves to be difficult in that you have to hold the iPhone still for so long while it analyzes and takes two photos in succession.  Or maybe I just don't have an eye for what a good HDR photo could be.  I'll keep on trying.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Here are some other pictures from this month, not taken at the magic time of 7:20pm for the Project.  And don't forget to post some of your pictures on our Facebook page.  I am offering a prize to the picture with the most "likes".  (Prize yet to be determined, but believe me, it'll be good!)
I got lucky and snapped a picture right as Tony Hawk was up in the air during his ride in the skate bowl at Jefferson Park.  

This is my family at Alki Beach one evening, at sunset.
Kids dancing to "I Whip my Hair Back and Forth" at a block party we attended.  The photo turned out a little grainy, but I feel like it captures how fun the evening was.
I love the way the water is captured in this photo.  
During one of the many beautiful days we have been having here in Seattle, I took the kids to a water park in town.  This photo was my first attempt with the HDR filter.  HDR, or High Dynamic Range, photography was recommended to me by a reader.  He told me about a great website that offers a tutorial, only it sounds like you have to buy an expensive software.  Last night I downloaded an app for $1.99 instead.  I know it offer what the $100 version does, but I am going to give it a try today.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Photo Project: Day 10

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
This is a bowling pin from Tallulah's 6 year old birthday party.  Everyone signed it as a keepsake for her to remember that bowling party I forced her to have.  Sometime in the past year, it organically became a headband holder in our bathroom.  I don't think anyone had a creative idea about it, I think it just happened out of laziness.  "I don't want to put this headband away.  Oh look, it fits on this bowling pin.  Perfect."  But don't ask me why the bowling pin was in the bathroom in the first place...who knows.  At least she got something out of that crappy party she had to have because of her Mom's blog.

Other than that story, there doesn't seem to be anything special about this photo.  At all.  The colors are bland and frankly, it makes my bathroom look like a gym locker room.  But there is something in the plainness of it that draws me in.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Photo Project: Day 9

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
The smoking man, Day 9.
 Last night at 7:20, I could find nothing worth photographing.  I looked everywhere around my apartment, and took a number of photos.  There was nothing inspiring, or artsy about any of them.  No stories.  No life lessons lurking through the iPhone lens.

Then, about 10 minutes later I decided to try again.  So what if it was past 7:20!  I felt like such a rebel, breaking my own self-imposed rules.  I looked out the window, and there he was, the "smoking man."  There is this guy that lives across the street and he consistently comes over in front of our apartment to smoke...even after being asked not to.  Mostly he sits on the bench our neighbors put out front and puffs away.  Other times he has been known to lie upon the grass and smoke, propping himself up with one arm or flat on his back gazing upwards to the sky.
My best attempt from 7:20 pm, a pile of matched socks.
He often looks sad.  I am so curious about him.  I want to know his story.  But still, I don't go and ask.  In a way, I like having peculiar people around me.  I get to make up my own stories, write little novellas in my mind about their life.  Thank you, smoking man, for keeping my creative mind limber.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Photo Project: Day 8

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
How many times do you wish you had a "BACK SPACER" button?  For your life?

Some days I feel like I want one.  And then I realize, that if I just deal with the perceived drama instead of talking about to every person that crosses my path, the drama is really just life teaching me something I need to learn.

Believe it or not, I actually did take a typewriting class in High School.  With real typewriters.  And when it comes to typewriting (not real life) I was always happy for the back space button...and the invention of the automatic white-out button too.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Photo Project: Day 7

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I ran outside in search of day 7's photo.  I was delighted to find these little snails all encircled about each other, perhaps, sleepily lazing about after gorging themselves on Amy's only ripe strawberry in her garden.  

Oh, and guess what?  Inbox update: 0 emails, 0 unread.  I am free at last!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photo Project: Day 6

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Day 6's photo is of a metal bowl that we use all the time...mostly for big salads and for popcorn.  And we have lots of opportunities in our home for both of those.  It was a gift from friends for our wedding. I know I said I don't really have any things that I treasure, but it does make me happy to have this useful bowl.

When I first glance at it though, it kinda reminds me of an ultrasound photo.  See the upside-down shape that looks like it could be a profile in the upper left corner?  Not that I plan on recommending ultrasounds unless medically necessary, but it does get me excited to be a midwife.  In just over a month, I will be starting my life changing education.  I will be meeting my classmates, women that I will grow exponentially with over the next three years.  Somebody pinch me, I can't believe it is really happening.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Photo Project: Day 5

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Day five, and more soccer.  But this time we were watching the Sounders whoop LA Galaxy's butt.  No matter how cute Beckham is, his team stood no chance against the Sounders.  We beat them 4-0!
 The sunset was absolutely amazing last night.  It gave such a beautiful glow to everything, and although these last three shots were from well after the 7:20 alarm, I wanted to share them as well.
This is one of my favorite sights in Seattle.  I love this clock tower.  I love driving north on I-5 and seeing it in front of the Sound and the Olympic mountains.  
The reflection of the clock tower.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Photo Project: Day 4

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Can you tell where I was yesterday at 7:20 pm?  Leave your guess in the comments.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Photo Project: Day 3

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I was at a soccer field yesterday for day three's photo.  This was shot was taken of my son's friend's soccer cleat.  The reason for taking this shot was because between games (the one where, as Levi put it, "they got spanked" and the one, where they did the spanking) Levi and his friend went to the Family Fun Center around the corner.  While there, they had the good fortune of meeting Eddie Johnson of the Sounders!!!  The scribble you can see on the shoe is his autograph.

I was, of course, jealous I was not there.  For one, I love celebrity of any kind.  I know, terrible, right?  But it's true.  And this guy is pretty attractive.  Bummer I missed it.  With the odd lighting and the fact that I cut off the tip of the shoe, this photo is no consolation.

On the other hand, we did get to meet up with Justin Bieber at the Southcenter Nordstrom.  So, not a bad day after all!  You know how my whole life is inspired by the Biebs, right?  Here's a shot of Tallulah with my guru.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Photo Project: Day 2

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Yesterday at 7:20 pm, I was making salve.  This is what it looks like in the pot, all melted down and ready to be pureed into tins.  I like the warmth of color in this shot.  I also like the contradiction of the sharp lines that are reflected in the fluid nature of hot oil and beeswax.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Photo Project: Day 1

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
(You better read the whole post, because you could win something.  For real!)
My first project is going to be to take a photo at the same time every day.  Yesterday I picked 7:20 pm as the time of day.  I remember once that Amy told me the lighting can be nice later in the day.  Or was it in the morning?  Well, anyway, I am not doing 7:20 am, because I usually still have my pajamas on at the time.  But perhaps this could be a motivating force, to get back into being an early riser.  Yes, I do like that.

Both the times, am and pm, happen to be times when I am most likely to be home.  Does that offer enough variety?  Do I really want a bunch of boring photos of my apartment?  "Hey, here's my toilet!  And tomorrow, you'll get to see map of the world I made in Montessori when I was 4!"  Well, this could just be part of the challenge...maybe taking a walk in the evening or finding unique ways to see things around my home in a new light.
Eh, after all that, I will stick with the original 7:20 pm.   Here is the photo from yesterday, Day 1.  I ran out to the front of my house in the middle of making dinner and snapped a shot of the contrast between the beautiful blue sky and the industrial looking scaffolding that obstructs my view of that aforementioned sky.  Seriously, for the past few weeks, I have been looking at gray windows from the plastic covering.  The one time of year when it is gorgeous in Seattle, and I can't see a damn thing but gray.  Oh well, it's all good.  I mean, I can at least walk outside.

Join me?  Anyone?  You can pick your own time of day.  Just be sure to post your photo on our Facebook page.  I'll give away a prize for the person whose photo gets the most likes.  Let's make the prize something really special, like that map of the world I am going to photograph on Day 13!  Psyche.  Just kidding.  I'll find something better.   

What's in your Inbox?

Posted by Melissa Baumgart 
I mostly get junk mail in my inbox.  My friend tells me to change my email more often, but I find an odd sense of pride in keeping the same email address for nearly seven years.  Plus, I am the last person to remember to update everyone's constantly changing emails, and thereby am always sending things to the wrong address.  So, who am I to now ask the same of others?  And so, at current count, even after hours of deleting last week, my inbox stands at 5480 emails.

This morning, as I was lazily deleting a few of the day's trash, a TED TV message was among them.  And while I have, at times, been touched by a TED clip here and there, I usually ignore or delete the emails.  Today I opened it, and clicked the link...and watched the video.

It was about photographs, so I was interested, given this month's focus.  After the video started, I realized it was about sentimental photographs.  I almost stopped watching.  I don't feel that way about things, about stuff...even photos.  You know how people ask the question, if you knew your home were burning down, what would you grab before running out the door?  My answer is always the same - nothing but my family.  I can live without everything else.  I don't need all those photos and things, I have my memories.

But I watched on.  And although, I think I would feel differently, I was moved by the stories of families that lost nearly everything in the tsunami that occurred in Japan last year, and how much their photographs meant to them.  People volunteered to retouch damaged family photographs, bringing them back to their original state.  For one man turning 40, the childhood photo of his family was the one thing that remained of his life before the tsunami.  Everything else had been destroyed.

As I sit comfortably in my home, and declare that I wouldn't need to hang onto any of my "stuff", not even a photograph, I have no idea what that man went through.  I may not think I would have any treasures to hold onto, but I am glad that he does.

For me, this month of photography is about creativity and exploring what life looks like through a camera lens.  What different things we all see when asked to catch a glimpse of life in still.  But for others, photography is about capturing meaning and precious moments in one's life.  Perhaps I can find a way to blend the two.

Current Inbox count: 8402 -  I just realized that 5481 number is for unread emails only!  What am I holding onto?  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Oh Snap!

Posted by Amy Baranski and Melissa Baumgart
Welcome to Photography Month!
We are happy to be dropping our paint brushes and picking up the cameras!  While July brought us our first "Readers Choice", it did not bring much productivity in the way of painting a mural.  And, as always, that's OK with us.  Life happens.
I (Melissa) picked Photography, not because I had never done it before, but because I wanted to explore it new ways.  I was interested in getting creative with photography and trying new projects with it.  Thoughts were: to take a photo at the same exact time everyday, or take one photo every hour for 24 hours.  You know, something challenging.
I (Amy) broke my camera over a year ago.  But since, Christmas, I have become an iPhotographer with my iPhone.  In truth, the camera function and the camera apps are the reason I purchased the iPhone (aside from the fact that I needed unlimited text messaging to maintain my friendship with Melissa).  I look forward to exploring the iPhone camera apps further and dipping my toes in the DSLR world by using my husband's camera.  I, too, would like to take on some challenges like a photo a day.  
We would really love it if readers would visit out Facebook page and post any photos you take throughout the month as well!  Let's all motivate each other to look at life through another's lens.