The Writing Struggle

As I read a post today on my Yahoo Group, “Life_Story_Projects, I thought about how I’m
struggling with the first draft, of getting “MORE” words on the page, and I struggle keeping my attention on editing my work. It’s
ALL a bit of a challenge for me, but I do love seeing written pages- I admit that my page count increase is what keeps me going, or
even keeps me thinking about keeping going sometimes! LOL

For me this is a life-long project, and I think the lack of deadlines works against me being productive at times! That’s one
reason I really want to do a teleclass workshop on autobiography. For everything good I have accomplished in my life I have needed a
very firm structure, and serious accountability for my productivity-whether that was for weight loss, writing my first “novel” in a
month, or for my autobiography pieces.

I also struggle somewhat with the bigger purpose of my autobiography. At 35 I don’t have children (hubby and I spoke about
that one again last night, and again, no conclusion- sigh) and since I have no interest in publishing my “mundane” writing (of course I
find it interesting, but it’s definitely not fodder for broader public appeal!) I sometimes wonder in the end what my purpose is.
For now, I just do it for the love of expressing myself on paper.

Right now I’m trying to journal more often. I was proud of myself to have journaled my vacation story. I did it just a day after our
trip, while it was fresh in my memory (you can see it on https://njheart2heart.wordpress.com) and I enjoyed recounting the
moments on paper ūüôā For me, these little details are the stuff of bigger writing- I write it, I scrapbook it, I do my holiday letters
based on it, and hopefully will integrate it into my life stories as well.
Oh gee, I just gave myself a bit of a pep talk, and now I want to go and find something else in my life to write about! ūüėÄ

Maine Vacations, Part II – 2008

Maine, 2008

Our second trip to Maine was different from the first, but just as extraordinary. We visited the sites that so charmed us last year; West Quoddy Head and Head Harbor (East Quoddy) lighthouses, the Roosevelt Estate, our back yard (amazing in itself), the gift shops, and the jetty in Lubec into the channel; It was all amazing, all over again, but we saw them all in a sometimes familiar, but always different light then our first looks. At East Quoddy, instead of directly walking up and down and up and down, to the lighthouse island, our first visit was in the dark on our first night out. It was an unusually quiet night, very calm, and the eerie red light from the lighthouse, and the huge, mysterious (due to weather conditions – very foggy), unidentifiable ship that slowly made it’s way from behind the lighthouse off toward Johnson Bay were both interesting in their own rights. We saw a familiar site at a very different time, and it made it seem altogether new.

At West Quoddy Light, we spent more time in the museum, Ted studying the exhibits closely, me chatting at length with “Ginny”, one of the volunteers, whose grandparents were the first of her family in the area, and whose father was one of the last lightkeepers before the lighthouse was automated. We hiked more than last year, making it all the way to the intersection of the Coastal and Thompson trails. We chose to go inland on the Thompson trail on the way back; the coastal trail had been pretty rugged with numerous muddy spots, and although we considered taking the trail out to Minzy field and walking the road back to the lighthouse, it started raining and we decided to take to the shelter of the inland Thompson trail. Good choice and within 1/2 hour I was able to photograph a cool scene of the sun shining through the trees in a little opening, which was blanketed with fog and bordered by rain droplets which were hanging on to the trees after the storm had passed.

Our back yard was primarily Ted’s “hunting place”, where he gained his first experience of doing his own mussel gathering. He happily slipped through the rockweed littered rocks and slogged through the thick intercoastal mud searching for the delicacy with a big pot in one hand, steadily picking over 4 dozen mussels (which later got him sick, not realizing just how many he had eaten!).

One night, the stars were so beautiful we didn’t want to come down from the top deck. Instead of craning our necks, we borrowed the futon cushion from indoors, and laid on our backs viewing the gorgeous dark sky, bright milky way, and delightful shooting stars when they fell at those rare and special moments.

We ate dinner at the same two restaurants most of the week (there aren’t a lot of choices in Lubec and Campobello) but this time enjoyed full conversations with waitresses at the Lupine Lodge and host/hostess Dave and Suzannah Dale at the Home Port Inn. The food was great, the conversations very satisfying.

Deer Island was reached solely by a simple but fascinating car ferry set up. Ted and I explored the main roads of the 7 mile long mostly wooded island, ate at one of the few businesses and spent some extended time in a quiet cove of cold clear water and a cool close-by cliff. We spent an equally quiet but fascinating time on a local wharf; where I spent the entire time taking detailed pictures of the pier, boats, and gulls, and Ted sat on a bench soaking up the afternoon sun and dozing for 1/2 hour. It was a lovely, out of the way expedition, wholly unexpected and totally gratifying departure from our previous locations.

Back at East Qouddy we spent yet more time NOT going to the lighthouse, but hanging out at the land bridge, picking up rocks and studying the sea vegetables and other life-forms. Ted made an awesome observation which I was absolutely thrilled with- there on the edge of the bridge, in a jumble of rocks and seaweeds, was a really large sea star, a beautiful light peachy color, clinging to one of the rocks with bent legs as the water washed over it. I was mad at myself for only bringing my compact camera down to the bridge, but did my best to catch several good shots of the awesome and lovely sea creature. Only on our third and final trip to the island’s northern tip did we finally climb down the stairs, over the land bridge, up the stairs, across the first island, over the bridge to the second island and down the stairs to the rocky land mass that finally brought us to the lovely historical Head Harbor Light, with it’s traditional red cross on white background. There we remembered our light room tour the previous year, gazed out at the water for whales (no luck this time) and picked our way around the island, enjoying the details as well as the big picture. Less photos from me (though still a lot!), more time gazing, and a healthy dose of relaxing with the sun, sky and shore. After we got back to the bridge we spent 45 minutes just hanging out again at the land bridge, this time watching the tide make it’s relentless path towards coverering the access bridge during high tide. Our only motivation for leaving too soon to see it cover over, was because the whales were waiting for us on our whale watch with Captain Riddle’s team.

The whale watch was quite different this year; more people, less commentary from “Captain Jack”, the father of the actual “Captain Riddle”. An old fisherman I’m sure, although he didn’t say, he spent little time chatting and more time initially speeding, then quietly sputtering along the waters in search of the ultimate whale gathering. We passed eagles (a pleasure I hadn’t had yet this year) and Cormorants (who were readily visible just about everywhere on the water), and of course took a trip to the little island where the seals were playing, their heads bobbing about, eyeing us more out of curiosity then fear. The highlight was his success and our delight, when he managed to get right in the middle of a circle of finbacks, which were feeding on the unusually calm, glassy waters that day. Many mediocre pictures and a few “keepers” later, we headed back to shore, happy for the chance to get close and personal with the ocean wildlife, even if we were no more educated than when we hit the waters in that speedy little boat.

The Bold Coast Trails were definitely a BOLD endeavor this year. Last year we enjoyed a relatively easy, 1.1 mile hike to the edge of the coast and a great promonitory of rock, jutting out into the waters, one side, the open sea, the other, a narrow, deep crevice of rock which endured the punishing waves as they crashed into the tight space time and time again as the tide rolled up. What started out as a casual curiosity for what lay on the other side of the rock wound up becoming a full 6 mile loop trail, 3 of which were along the rugged rocks of the coast. The sights were gorgeous; around every curve in the trail was another amazing display of sharp rocks meeting ferocious waves and the foam and the sea spray was uniformly impressive each and every time we witnessed it. However, with too little water and not as much time to complete it (since it was not planned) not to mention no actual map on hand to refer to where the trail was going, we were exhausted at the end, dying of thirst and entirely happy to be done with any major trails for the week (this was on Wednesday, so we only had two full days left anyway). We were proud of conquering the trail, but were once again reminded of the importance of planning for the unexpected, even if we were only intending an easy excursion.

Throughout the week we drove to various nooks and crannies on Campobello Island. We took a long walk along the beach at Herring Cove and especially enjoyed walking around at Liberty Point, where last year the wind was so gusty that we barely had 10 minutes to get out of the car, be tossed around by the wind as we spied the corners of this spot, then retreated back to the warmth of the car. This day was the opposite- sunny, relatively warm (though still breezy- it’s always breezy on the ocean¬†side of the island), and we took plenty of time to wander about, reading the park signs, checking out the sea from all angles, and walking casually along the gangplank-like observation deck which literally sat directly above the deep waters. Ted had a special fondness throughout the week of hopping on the huge rock piles along the coast during low tide. I toggled between carefully balancing among the gray giants and standing back, a bit fearful of the fierce and VERY cold sea below (the water is ALWAYS cold there and a person can die of hypothermia in 3 minutes if he loses his footing). One day was a bit of a wash, since the sunny/overcast weather finally gave way to a full rain and fog. We did a lot of slow driving through the car trails of Campobello, with frequent stops to get out in the soggy weather to get a quick view of the sights before us and a few token photos to say we’ve been there (the quality of which was severely compromised due to the bad conditions). Still, we enjoyed our travels and my highlight was getting close to Channel Light, another lighthouse which was an inaccesible “sparkplug” style structure, which I adoringly called “Sparky”.

Another new activity which I had read about last year but hadn’t been able to squeeze into our schedule,¬†was a tour¬†led by a local tourguide service. I was thrilled to find the schedule of “Lubec Tours” early enough in the week that I chose my favorite, an introduction to the “intertidal” ecosystem.
Shelly, a 3rd generation “Lubeckian”, took us on a personalized van tour of three different beaches. As we walked along the shore in our borrowed goloshes, she showed us many, many creatures and plant forms along this diverse habitat, from the shrimp-like scuds and their homes under the rockweed, to the shallow burrowing clams, to the invasive foreign “green crabs”, one of which was hiding in a pool within a huge rock. Ted was happy to learn about more than four different kinds of plant life that were totally edible, and taste tested 3 of them on the spot, while I enjoyed slopping around in the mud, skimming the beach for “treasures” and taking ID photos of all our finds. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and “Lubec Tours” went on our “highly recommended” list.

On our last afternoon, we tried to revisit some of the spots on Campobello which we had previously tried to enjoy in the bad weather. We did get another look down at Cranberry point, but it was again brief since the weather changed quickly. To our wondering eyes, we did witness the literal rolling of fog from the water over the land, which was so intriqueing that we got out of the car and stood there, feeling as though we were being engulfed in a cloud. The visibility went from about 1/2 mile to 20 feet in a matter of minutes, and our appreciation for the fishermen of the area grew exponentially as we witnessed the scary prospect of getting stuck at sea in the midst of such a weather change.

The biggest surprise and delight of my trip came totally unexpectedly. One morning, I left the house in the car while Ted took his time getting ready. My purpose was to go to the location where it seemed the schedule of Lubec Tours would be located and to sign up if possible. Finding that building locked, I ventured down to the main street, where I had seen the posters last year. Though I did not find the tour organization, I did wander into a gallery/historical museum of sorts. The door was open so I walked in and looked around for several minutes before someone actually found me. I had picked up a few postcards to buy and asked the woman to help, which she did. She brought me to the front desk where she rang up my purchase while mentioning that I was lucky to get in- that they were officially closed that day, and had just been moving some chairs and such around in preparation for a meeting that evening. As we chatted happily, me about our vacationing, her about the gallery, she had mentioned an event with many photographers and I responded by mentioning how I had just finished reading a book at the house called “Downeast” by a photographer named Frank Van Riper. Well, to my great surprise and amazement, Rachel pointed to the gentleman that moseyed up to the front with us, and had been standing slightly behind me for a minute and said “and here he is”… I was dumbstruck!! Here I was, telling her how much I loved this book, and the author himself was casually standing beside me!! Of course we shook hands, traded cards (his business and my contact) and I was able to get Rachel to take a few pictures of the two of us. Frank, who was based in D.C., but who had a place in Lubec which he and his wife stayed at seasonally, was very down to earth and friendly. I was pleased as could be to have met the man, and it was his mention of a possible photography workshop next year that made me consider the possibility of breaking my record yet again, to do a repeat vacation in the same place, three times in a row! (and of course I had to buy one of the few books left for sale, an autographed copy bought at that same gallery. )

Our second trip to Maine was filled with suspense, thrill, quiet, relaxation, tension, endurance and beauty, among other things, and we again fought our depression as we headed back from our lovely haven in “downeast”.

Weight Watchers Begins Again

Well, here I am again.¬† Today will be my first Weight Watchers Meeting in several months.¬† I am reminding myself that this is a good thing as well as necessary for my health.¬† I just hope and pray I haven’t gained ALL the weight back which I had lost in the last year before I stopped.¬† It’s so true that WW is a lifestyle, and a lifetime committment.¬† I need structure.¬† I need accountability and without it most of my best intentions stay intentions instead of actual habits.¬† Goals are good, but you have to be able to adjust your goals as you go. For me, once I got to a certain point and was feeling good about myself, I lost motivation for my final goal, and without that, I lost sight all together for the “I want it now syndrome”.

So, here I go.  One step at a time. One day at a time.  Hopefully 1 consistent pound at a time!

Nothing to say – or just busily distracted?

So, here I am again.¬† I’ve been neglecting this¬†site¬†ever since leaving for vacation.¬† My primary¬†justification¬†was the need to concentrate on saving, backing up and working with the “gazillions” of¬†digital photos I took on my awesome vacation¬†to Maine, Sept. 1-9.¬† ¬†I have sooo much to say, so besides the photo workflow being ridiculous, I’ve also been attempting to journal what I experienced during my trip.¬† I’ll start posting¬†a bit at a time¬†shortly.

I wrote an interesting response to a fellow Flickr member.¬† I had commented on some of his photos, which were the first set of photos that looked comparable to mine in quality/interest.¬† He was responding to my comment about a particular photo, saying¬†that he knew it would look a lot better with some creative editing in a photo program, but said that he “still” felt it was like “cheating”.¬†¬†Here is my response, which I thought was interesting since I hadn’t really thought about it much previously:

“I’m with you on feeling like you’re cheating with Photoshop, but kudos that you even HAVE a photo editor and know how to use it- something I do not yet have!!¬† That’s the one serious drawback of digital photography- it’s no longer about just working to get the best photos at the moment… now you have all this other stuff going on as well.¬† How can someone who has equal photography skills be competetive with their work with someone who also has the computer tools and skills that can turn even a great “normal” photo into any piece of art she/he cares to?

Funny, I never expressed that before, but it definitely rings true as I write it.¬† Not that it’s
not wonderful to have the tools, but it’s a different skill set, so when it comes to comparing, we digital photographers have to be sure we are comparing apples to apples, not apples to pomegranates :)”

So that is my life and thoughts for the moment.¬† I’ll post some Maine photos over from Flickr to follow.¬† Please feel free to take a look at the rest of my pics!¬† http://www.flickr.com/photos/njheart2heart

Current affairs

Here is a quick “what am I up to this week” entry.
I am enjoying publishing to my very first weblog, aka “BLOG”. I’ve posted a few posts in there already, topics including “a little about me”, a review of my current book reading project (called Spirit of Discipline by Richard Foster), and a couple entries based on a journaling prompt site.

Tonight I’ll stop by my local meetup group to trade elements for a “Page Swap” I signed up for. For those who are scrappers, or those interested in scrapbooking, this particular swap has an interesting twist. There are 12 participants (actually it’s open to 12, and there are 11 signed up), and the coordinator has listed 12 different element that make up a page layout (a page layout is two pages facing each other and visually related to one another so you look at both pages as one piece). Elements include solid cardstock, vellum, a title, fiber, round eyelets, shaped eyelets, and a decorated photo mat, amongst others. Our theme for tonight’s swap is “BEACH”, and I am supplying 10 round eyelets per participant that are related to the topic (meaning beachy colors). It’s a great idea and I look forward to driving home with a complete layout kit where all I have to do is supply the photos and glue it all together!

As for heritage projects- I’m going to my parents house in PA this weekend. Grandma is at my parents house during the summer months, and I should ask her some heritage questions!

I am going to be working feverishly to put together some page kits and type up the accompanying journaling for my project to be completed at a scrapbook weekend next weekend (17-19th). During the “Stampin Up” weekend with Jen Peel, I’ll be concentrating on finishing our (my hubby and I) 2006 vacation (Boston and Vermont), album and also would like to complete an album on our mini-vacation to Harpers Ferry WVA Memorial Day weekend of this year (that was a FUN trip!) so that preparation will keep me busy over the next several days.

Other news: I am greatly enjoying my wonderful (and expensive!) new digital SLR camera (Nikon D80), which has greatly boosted my photography capabilities, and will be purchasing a long telephoto zoom lens to go with it before we go on vacation in Sept. (to Maine- looking forward to that trip!). I’m crossing my fingers hoping to photograph one or more moose!

My current goal

I am getting sooo excited!
I have been saving my “personal cash” in my account for almost a month now, and my next paycheck will bring in enough money for me to purchase my current goal:

During my vacation in Maine, from September 1-8, 2007
I am enthusiastically practicing my growing camera skills with my brand new

NIKON AF-s VR 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED telephoto zoom lens
attached to my D80 digital camera.

I am catching wonderful shots of birds, small mammals and even moose while hiking in the nearby parks and preserves with my husband!

Celebration of Discipline Part III

In the next two sections, Foster covers the purpose of meditation and common misconceptions.
The exercise of meditation, when it becomes habit, becomes ingrained in our everyday life. It moves from being a “law” to a “spirit” and instead of a highly impersonal theological idea, becomes a “description of daily life”. He is quick to point out that there is a proper attitude which balances the intense intimacy, with the deepening understanding that God is to be respected for his power.

I found the clarification of the first misconception to be most gratifying, since I often despair at having a ready answer for why my faith is different than other religions. Foster points out that Christian meditation is not just a matter of emptying ourselves, of detaching from the world and even our own personalities, but rather clearing our minds and hearts to allow God to FILL us with his Spirit. He cites the passage where a man who was saved by one evil spirit, becomes overwhelmed by many more because he did not then “fill his houses” with goodness. My thought is “evil loves a vacuum”

Foster states that Christian meditation, properly used, detaches us from the distractions of our busy world in order to clear the way for a stronger “communication system”. It is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. It is a tool to draw us closer to the heart and mind of God, in both the little matters of our individual lives, to the bigger issues of community failures…

More tomorrow….

Celebration of Discipline Part II

So, I got through my sense of decrepitness (hmm.. wonder if that needs a spell/grammar check?) by avoiding it with lots of busy fun this weekend.. which comes to my next reading; Meditation, part I:
Foster starts this chapter with a pointed remark; “In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness”, he will rest satisfied”.
Wow. How many of us are guilty of these behaviors? And thus is his point, that we are sadly lacking in the consistent discipline of “listening and obeying”. Foster goes through several paragraphs of examples of characters throughout the Bible who “listened to God’s word”, reflected on God’s works, rehearsed God’s deeds, and ruminated on God’s laws, among others. He points out, through Psalm 119, that a believer’s focus on obedience and faithfulness to God that sets Christian meditation apart from other types. Foster also reinforces, as he stated in the introduction, that the people of the Biblical era knew the ways of meditation and scripture (unlike our modern generations). He also pointed to our ultimate example, Jesus during his own ministry, citing many verses that communicated his tendency to withdraw on his own in order to seek, listen to and commune with God the father.
Foster then goes on to define meditation as, simply stated, the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word. He pointed out through more biblical examples how throughout the continual wavering of man’s history, God still calls to us and still longs to respond to even our feeblest attempts to relate to Him. Together, these paragraphs form the biblical foundation for meditation.

Computer programs working together

Yay! I’m soo excited!¬† I’m a fanatic about “integrated products”, and I’m now set up so that my offline journal (The Journal) , online photo host (flickr) and this weblog now all work with each other!¬† This is the first step to my enthusiastic writing habit!