Thursday, October 30, 2008
I park under a cluster of maple trees each day in the parking lot across from my school.
I’ve watched the color of their leaves change little by little each day.
A few days ago, the leaves began to fall.
I found several them inside of my car yesterday because I’d left the sunroof open.
Today, as I walked to my car, I found myself wading in a dry, crunchy sea of rust, orange, magenta, and amber. Words just can’t express how much I love the sound they make as I stir through them—like etchings of memory on the tablets of time.
I remembered crawling into piles of these leaves when I was a boy and finding a candy bar some unlucky trick-or-treater had dropped while cutting through our yard the night before. Ah yes, the leaves bring back good memories.
As I climbed into my car, I looked at a few of these lone travelers who’d found refuge on my windshield. I took their picture before sending them whisking away yet again into the autumn winds.
Why is that?
Because today is the day my photography website is 99% completed.
What? Are you serious?
Yep, just like a chemistry final.
Can I look at it now?
No, I just updated the main page with a message announcing that Saturday is the day.
Why not put it up tonight or tomorrow? Why wait until Saturday?
Well, tomorrow is Halloween…I don’t want anything to take from one of my absolute favorite holidays, besides there are a few more ‘tweaks’ I need to do before I want to show it to the world. When you think about it, you’ve waited this long right? What are a few more days?
Good point. So, what are you changing?
Well, I gave my sister a ‘sneak peek’ at the site for any recommendations she had. She did offer up a few suggestions of things I could do so as to make the site a bit better…friendlier.
So, are you going to do anything to kick off the new site?
Oh, there’ll be something…it will be cool.
What do you have planned?
Check back on Saturday and you’ll find out. I also hope everybody will let me know what they think of the site. A lot of time, money, and hard work have gone into bringing my photography to the masses. It’s exciting really. To be honest, I want to publish it right now, but then it will be a bummer because it’s more or less the dress rehearsal, not the actual performance.
You mean, some of the buttons might not work properly?
That’s EXACTLY what I’m saying. Some of the ‘lines’ of code might not be just right. Heck, even when I publish the thing there will undoubtedly still be a few errors here and there…I’m counting on my friends to point these out so I can fix them…that way, I won’t look like an idiot to the world at large.
Saturday it is. What a red-letter day.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Another part of me warns that the website still isn't complete yet and people are waiting.
I choose to listen to the voice of reason.
There will be another sunset tomorrow.
Monday, October 27, 2008
What? You have no plans?
Well Congrats! You’ve just made some!
Wait, what is it I just planned?
The Thursday night 6:00 “Hocus Pocus” big screen event!
What? You mean the movie is returning to the theater after nearly fifteen years?
Yes, it is. To the Teachinfourth Underground Cinema to be exact.
Well, how can I come?
Well, hopefully you’ll drive…oh, you mean to get in?
Just knock on the door...and say, “Halloween rocks!”
Yep, we’ll let the digital projector and home theater system do the hard part.
Should I bring something? You know, Halloween treats? Stuff like Cobweb Cookies and Harry Potter Punch?
If you want to. However, remember that this is an invitation, not an expectation.
What if nobody shows up?
Well, then I'll be watching the movie all by myself.
How do I find the place, Teachinfourth?
Well, if you don't already know the address, mention it in the comments section and I'll be sure to email you the coordinates so you can look it up on Google Earth and find your way from there. It'll be just a few seconds before you'll be clicking your heels and you and Toto will be right here.
Rock on, Halloween!
See you on Thursday.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This past week I was invited to be the ‘featured storyteller’ at a cub scout pack meeting by a friend of mine who’s a den mom. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to be more than perhaps half-a-dozen boys jammed into a small room…several of which who attend my old school.
I was assured that I would know many of them, so I agreed to this little venture.
Well, it turned out to be a pack or two, some Webelos, and their families as well.
I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t nervous, because I was.
When it came my turn to stand before these people, I decided to treat them just as if they were a class of fifth graders.
As I started the story the room became silent instantly, and remained that way for the entire fifteen minutes I’d been given. As I looked out on the faces in the crowd, I saw three past students from years gone by. They all were smiling…they had known what a story from ‘Mr. Z’ was really going to be like.
I am so glad that somewhere along the line, I learned to do voices for the books I read and the stories I tell. It makes the biggest difference in the world.Image from: http://www.packsonline.com
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
What does this mean? What is he saying? Why did he say it?
While I cannot speak for Mr. Thoreau, and I guess it really isn’t that important to me, I know how this applies to my own life…
I was with a friend of mine tonight. We went out because of a life-changing event in the pathway she is walking. This event is not necessarily a good thing.
As we talked this evening and enjoyed our dinner—as well as each others’ company—I couldn’t help but think about the simple pleasures I have in this life. The things about me which I often take for granted. I hope you will forgive my indulgence by mentioning a few of these varied bits and pieces…
- Eating spoonful of cookie dough, as the sweetness of it beckons you to fetch a glass of milk.
- Walking on a brisk afternoon as the scent of autumn wafts about on the breeze.
- Watching a sunset as it sets the sky ablaze in an orchestra of color.
- Wearing a brand-new pair of flannel pajamas, and feeling the warmth of a blanket wrapped about you on a frosty night.
- The smell of freshly-baking bread and eating it, fresh off of the loaf, with little wells of melted butter like lakes on its surface.
- Talking to a dear friend for hours on end about nothing in particular—and enjoying each others’ company with so many common experiences we’ve shared.
- Watching the stars above you, as they watch you back on a warm, lazy summer night with an ensemble of crickets lulling you into slumber.
- Listening to that song…you know the one…the one I haven’t heard it in such a long time and then suddenly, there it is again. I love it even more than the first time I’d heard it.
- To shoulder a backpack and head out into the lonely windswept desert hills and not see another soul for days on end. It’s just she and I.
You might say that tonight was yet another reminder to me that life is meant to be lived deeply—and to the fullest.
“Live life so completely that when death comes like a thief in the night, there will be nothing left for him to steal.”
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I recently had the privilege of doing a photoshoot for an incredibly fun family.
The first day they dressed in 70s clothes. I couldn’t believe just how unbelievably cool this was.
The next day of shooting was a more ‘updated’ session in the realms of fashion.
These are a few of my favorites...
I feel I need to write this entry for all of those who do not feel that they are who they should be—those people who feel that they are not living up to the expectations of their families, their God, their workplace, themselves…
I used to go to the gym back one upon a time ago. I remember being pretty devoted for quite a while. I’d be up at 5:00 A.M. and would get in a session before work nearly every day—there were also days I’d go back to the gym after work and hit the treadmills or stair-steppers.
Like I said, that was once upon a time ago.
I suddenly stopped going. Life got busy, and I found myself pressed for time—time which I did not have.
It was several weeks before I was finally able to make it back to the gym—and this was only for a short 15-minute visit.
I was berating myself for not having stayed longer, and for just how terribly I was doing. Later, when I was with a friend, we were having a discussion and I mentioned to her how I just wasn’t doing as well as I should in regards to the gym.
My friend looked at me and said, “Well, you’re doing a lot more than you were yesterday, which was nothing.”
These words have stuck with me throughout the past few years, and I find them reverberating in my head—quite often to be honest.
There are times in all our lives when we find ourselves lacking in one or more areas. Perhaps we aren’t eating quite as healthy as we should be, perhaps we are feeling that we aren’t spending as much time as we should with our families, maybe we’re disappointed with ourselves because of our seemingly-lowered spiritual levels, or maybe we didn’t complete that project which has been begging for our attention for quite some time.
Always know that tomorrow is yet another day—a day without mistakes in it. I’m not saying to only live for tomorrow, but instead know that it is a new start. By doing just a bit more than we already are—even just a little bit—is doing more than we’re doing now…just remember to take it bit by bit and don’t let discouragement overwhelm you.
A wise man once said that it is by doing little things that great things will ultimately come about.
By eating one less cookie than you normally would have, by putting away just one stack of papers, by walking for one song on your iPod...all of these things are milestones in the sense that they are all perhaps more than you were previously doing.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I look at it and feel two things at once.
First I have a feeling of distinct pride—this is my baby. All of the photographs on the site are mine (well, maybe one or two my mom took years ago). The work on it is mine. The layout was my idea. I built a hefty portion of the site.
The second feeling I usually have after this is one that the site isn’t quite as professional as other photographers’. I also think of how many hours have gone into this thing…to start off with a basic idea drawn out on paper, and then flesh this out to a complete website. What if it ends up being yet another project which was a waste of over a hundred hours and ends up in the scrap heap?
Those are my thoughts while standing on the threshold of near-completion.
So, what is left to be done?
Add Paypal buttons and options for each print on the site.
What? That’s it?
Yep, that is it.
I tried to add in the code for one photo early today and totally messed up the layout. Not just kind of messed up the layout…I trashed it.
Each image button has to be created with prices and options on the Paypal site, and then the code needs to be added in manually for each button on my webpage. When you’re looking at doing this 137 times (one for each image) there is still a lot of work to be done. I also need to wait for my programmer to have time to check all of this out, after all, I will just mess it up at this point if I try to do it again…How do I know this? Well, I already did.
So, when will the completed site finally be up? Well, I was hoping it would have been tomorrow. Now it seems more likely that it will be sometime next week.
Delays, delays, delays.
I guess I have been living far too long in the push-button, fast-food, microwave society where everything needs to be done by yesterday. I feel the same way about this little venture.
I certainly hope that nobody finds themselves disappointed with the final project.
Heaven knows I vacillate from day to day with it.
P.S. Just for being so patient, here is a preview of what the site will look like (at least one of the pages). Thanks for sticking in there for the long haul.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I know what you’re thinking…
I decided to go to bed around 7.
I woke up at midnight. However, my headache was gone.
I stayed in bed until almost 2.
I couldn’t sleep.
I got up and started to work on my website.
It’s looking great.
Still a lot of work ahead though.
I made cinnamon rolls.
I was hungry.
Still working on the website.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
On an average day, I have to sit down with at least one of them to have a talk about being kind to or patient with those around them…for some reason they just can’t seem to get along all the time.
I make sure they’ve eaten their lunches, that they wash their hands after going to the bathroom, and that they pick up after themselves when they make a mess.
I read to them nearly everyday. I do a half-a-dozen voices for the chapter book we're reading. They break out laughing every time the Earthworm talks in James and the Giant Peach. If ever I tell them that we don’t have time to read that day, they panic. Reading is important.
We gather as a group and sing together while I play the guitar. When I remind everyone not to pick their noses, they giggle.
Today I had one boy who wanted me to feel his forehead because he was sure he had strep throat and wondered if he had a temperature.
I had 12 of the kids try to sit right next to me at lunch today. When I moved down the table, so did they.
Today I had to have a talk with one of them about cheating; how that putting down answers when we're correcting isn't right. Another boy got the pep-talk during recess so as to start doing his homework on a consistent basis.
I listened to stories about what they did with their friends, the best part about the weekend, and the book or movie they’ve just finished.
I try to get them all to do their best. Lecturing doesn’t seem to work, so I try building them with the “you can do it” speeches. Some of them do not seem to listen, however, most do.
I try not to feel judgmental when they tell me things I’d rather not know.
I care about them all.
I am their teacher.
Monday, October 13, 2008
It was just us two…and an iPod full of Nickel Creek tunes.
The invigorating, chilled air caught in my lungs like snatches of broken fear, as the milky-white light illuminated everything it touched.
The city lights below me twinkled, and from down by the overpass, a spotlight shone like a beacon…pointing upward to remind me where heaven was. How I wanted to ascend that beam, and reach the moon.
But alas, I am the ground.
When you’re flyin’ high, take my heart along.
I'll be the harmony to every lonely song,
That you learn to play.
When you’re soarin’ through the air
I'll be your solid ground.
Take every chance you dare,
I'll still be there,
When you come back down.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Six things people wouldn’t suspect about you.
They have to be true…
Oh, well, here we go…
1. I bit my nails ever since I was 5. I stopped only three years ago.
2. During my first six years of teaching I only had one sick day…and that is when I had a kidney infection and the doctor ordered me to take the next day off so I could be sick and really enjoy it. By the way, it was horrible.
3. I have been able to juggle butcher knives for the past 12 years. I still have all of my fingers too.
4. I can’t stand to eat any type of melon. They make me want to start throwing up.
5. I will often read books aloud—even when I’m not reading to my class. And yes, I still do use voices.
6. I’ll drive across town if the item I need is cheaper there. If I can save a few bucks, I’ll usually do it.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I have no control.
The website is coming along nicely, and it has been a headache as well. I will say that my code-writer, Shawn, has been doing a great job for getting images up on the site. There are a few things which need to be done, however, before it can be accessed by the general public.
I do have a new “coming soon” image which might be a bit more aesthetically pleasing than what was there before. I guess I am hoping that if I throw this tidbit to the wolves, they'll stay off my back for just a bit longer...
I really need to stop promising things.
I guess it would be so much easier to just quit my job and then I would have plenty of time to work on endeavors such as this…
Of course, if I want to eat, I probably should keep my day job.
On a lighter note, I do have one ticket for the 8:00 ComedySportz show tonight and another for the 10:15 show. If you’d like either one, just make it known. Sorry about not mentioning it sooner but I was really hoping to get out of the show tonight to work on the website.
It isn’t going to happen.
Oh, and Nettle, you'll probably like the image...
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Sorry I have been away for a few days.
To be honest, I missed you all. I missed writing. After all, it seems that I don’t write anymore unless it is for work or for blogging.
While I won’t try to sugar-coat anything, I do know that many of you are curious as to what happened this weekend up at Sundance. While my sister tended to focus on the positive end of the experience, I instead decided to attend a pity party where all of the presents were for me.
I shut off my phone for two days.
I didn’t head to the blogging world to read up on anyone
If I’m being honest, a part of this was because of just being tired. Another part was because I had a lot to say, but didn’t feel like writing any of it down. The final part is that I just wanted a break for a few days.
Oh, and the amount of sales this weekend didn’t even cover the cost of the fee to have ‘spot’ up at Sundance.
There, with all of that said and done, let us instead move on to much more interesting things…such as the website.
So, will it REALLY be ready on Saturday like I promised?
To be honest, I don’t know. I look at it and there are a lot of empty spaces still. I am a bit nervous about that. I need to get a few more items uploaded (and written) so that will undoubtedly be tomorrow’s endeavor as I don’t feel much like working on it today.
Tonight I instead am listening to Nickel Creek and baking cookies.
Yeah, I’m so domestic, aren’t I?
Actually, the cookies are not for me. They are for a class who is bound and determined to have 100% of them turn in completed assignments. After trying for over a month, they finally did it for the first time today. You could feel the excitement in the room…mostly because they all broke into cheers and there was a lot of high-fives being passed around—as well as praise being slogged in every direction.
Ah, the subtle ways of a teacher to get his students to do their homework.
I just hope the ball continues to roll and does not lose the momentum it has now gained.
Time will undoubtedly tell as today slips into tomorrow.
I have nothing else to say as of the time being. However, I am still hopeful that the website will do something…
Make tons of money of course…
I’d also like a rocket…
Perhaps a nice, big bag full of gold too…
Maybe a pony…
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Yes, I still have a lot to do; however, it’s starting to come along.
If you live in the area, and would like to come, I’d love it if you’d stop by and see my work “live.” It looks so much different when presented matted and framed. I, like a proud father, have been looking out at all of my creations - I love them all (though some more than others).
I guess you could say that I am biased.
The festival runs 10:00 - 4:00 both Saturday and Sunday. I know…it’s Conference weekend. I guess you could say that I am a heathen.
If you make it, I’d love to see you. If not, there’s always next year.
By the way, the website is coming along and will probably be online next week (prep for the festival is eating up my time…plus being a full-time teacher takes its fair share). I know I promised this week, I hope you’ll all forgive me.
Until I am able to return I remain respectfully yours,