Camera Thoughts

I’ve loved cameras since forever. My first camera was a Kodak and took cartridges and flash-cubes, and with it I learned how to frame a picture.

I still have that little camera. There are a lot of good memories in it.

Later, my parents purchased my first Canon AE-1 for me. It was my camera through all my photography courses in college and I found a zoom lens that became my favorite lens to keep on my camera. I used the AE-1 so much that I wore out key components, purchased my second AE-1, and went on taking pictures with my favorite old zoom. I miss that old, pre-autofocus, pre-digital 70-210 zoom.

We all get older, and technology changes. The first auto-focus cameras were slow. I could focus and shoot faster. But the sharpness of my vision decreased a bit and the auto-focus improved and I added an autofocus Rebel film camera. I enjoyed that camera for a long time.

The day came when getting film developed was becoming mail order only and even the pros were turning to DSLR’s. At that point, 20 years from my first SLR, I stepped into the “modern age” with a Canon D30 and a somewhat slow zoom with image stabilization. Good system for its time. I am still using it. However, with a good lens on it, this is 3 pounds in the hand and only 3 megapixels.

We age and a heavy system becomes painful to use. I found myself using the camera in my iPad. Fun with that huge screen, but no camera for me.  I cannot NOT take pictures anymore than I can stop writing stories. I snap quick shots with the iPad camera which weighs a smidgen over 1 pound.

I had to face reality. Unless I could find a good camera that did not cause me pain my days as a photographer were over. Enter an article on Facebook (good old Popular Photography) with a pro talking about the virtues of the new category of a “bridge camera” and how he used them in his professional work. I read the article and started looking into cameras.

I looked at DSLR’s. I have been a user of the system I own for too long not to consider upgrading the body and keeping my current lenses.    Still too heavy, but the new DSLR’s are an interesting bunch. I briefly considered a three generation old used DSLR but decided the weight issue made that a problem.

I am considering a bridge camera with a magnificent zoom lens and HALF the weight of my too heavy DSLR. It has my favorite functions from the SLR, 12.8 megapixels but a smaller sensor, and non-SLR abilities like PANORAMIC.

Dear Lord, there are times when decisions are complicated. Please help us to understand what we need to do the jobs now and in the near future. Amen. +

Mother Mary Angelica 1923-2016

The Klingons have a saying, “Today is a good day to die.” Like Saint John Paul II, Mother Angelica was called home on Easter.  Like St. John Paul II she demonstrated a deep love for Christ, and the Church. She suffered her illnesses, offering them up to Jesus, and she cherished her life. Her example was such that many came to the fullness of the Faith because of her. Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, was for Mother Angelica, “a good day to die.”

Mother Angelica, Foundress of EWTN, age 92, died on Easter Sunday.

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.”
~ St. John Chrysostom, Easter Homily

All the years I watched EWTN and loved the feisty nun from Ohio, I loved the clarity of her vision, her no-nonscence approach to scripture and church teaching, and her bold proclamation of Christ. She did not compromise the faith in any way. She loved the Church, she loved the bishops, but she refused to obey when such would put her at odds with Christ. Her example was heroic. Many persons were positively impacted by her work, for examples read HERE.

I particularly loved the discussion of Mother Angelica by Church Militant TV’s The Download. I watched those years and she was amazing. Her zeal was and is an example to me. She left no doubt that her love and allegiance was to Christ through His Church.

Her experience with having to turn her television station over to the laity, to keep it from being destroyed by bishops whose lives were less than what they ought to have been, strikes me as the reason why God directed St. Josemaria Escriva to set up his movement so that the work was owned and directed by lay persons who only turned to the movement for Faith formation so they could better serve Christ in their independent work.

Sadly, EWTN isn’t what it was under Mother Angelica, and I gradually stopped watching it. Luckily, her example inspired others and woke them up, so there are ministries that are in the spirit of her work, like Church Militant Persons who, like Mother Angelica, are unafraid to speak up and tell it as they see it.

As my godmother said the other day, “Jesus said “By the fruit, you will know them.” Seems to me that He wanted us to be ‘fruit inspectors”.”

Mother Angelica was a very savvy ‘fruit inspector’.  Requiescat in pace, Mother Angelica. My soul is better for your having lived.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the example of Mother Mary Angelica. Thank You for the formation in Catholicism many received because of her. Please grant us the grace to carry forward a bold proclamation of the Faith like she did. Memory Eternal be hers. +Amen.

Easter!

CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!!!!

I spent Lent this year discerning the directions I have been going, the use of my skills and talents and experience, and I’m read to implement some changes around here.

First, I’m going to blog more Catholic Home Schooling. The reason for that emphasis is the diocese once more sent out wonderful Easter greetings in the form of an advertisement for the Parish schools in our diocese. But as always, ignoring the VALID CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WHICH ARE HOME SCHOOLS.

CATHOLIC Home Schools get pretty much lip service or a slap in the face in our diocese, so it is time I stopped wishing I could get a job facilitating Catholic Home Schools and just get going doing it to the best of my ability.

Second, I purchased a new Camera. There ought to be more photos on this blog. In fact, there may be a theme change in the near future to shift over to a much more visual blogging experience.

I’ve training in photography but being busy with graduate school and then more children came along and my DSLR is nearly 20 years old and so far out of date there wasn’t even any way to compare it to ANY of the new cameras, let alone the new DSLR’s. In the intervening years, carpel tunnel has limited how long I could use my 3 pounds of what used to be fabulous camera. The new camera is half that, and a bridge camera instead of a full DSLR. It has enough of what I loved in the DSLR’s with a Leica lens built in– good glass, 12.8 megapixels, and half the weight. I would have loved a larger sensor, but compared to my old camera this little baby outperforms it to a crazy degree. I can hardly wait!

Third, I intend to put some focus on the many kid oriented things we do around here. There will be some things about American Heritage Girls– for after my waiting and waiting for a Catholic parish to start up a troop it occurred to me that maybe God was waiting for ME to get active and DO IT.  So I started the ball rolling a few weeks ago, and God sent me several awesome ladies right off, and we have been working hard ever since. I plan to invite them to guest post too!

Dear Lord, thank You for Lent and Easter. The gifts You bestowed on humanity through the work of Jesus on the Cross are without number or limit. May You be glorified forever and ever, Alleluia! Alleluia! +Amen. 

 

Getting distracted vs. blocked

I’ve been blogging on the virtues inherent in “tidying up” which includes the goals of getting rid of clutter and excess.  When these goals are not being met, there are reasons. Sometimes we get blocked from the plans we make, sometimes we get distracted. Most of my plans are somewhat dependent on my husband’s work progressing and leaving me spaces to transform-that would be blocked. Sometimes I get distracted by tools I think I need but could probably work around–that is distraction. So, here I sit, still not doing much in the way of images for my blog and I feel tool-blocked but I am probably mostly distracted.

Tool-blocked is the state of being where one lacks an essential component for the work to continue–often a particular tool, hence the name. In my case, I need two things. I need hubby’s projects to wrap up and begin to clear space for me to work and I need a camera. For the blog, the camera is a tool, but I have other tools that can do portions of the task. So really, the only blockage is the lack of spaces. I must be patient. Patient is a problem for me.

Distracted means I think I need the camera and while there is evidence that it is needed, there is also evidence that I could live without it as well. So, I think my needing a camera is a distraction.  I have a 20 yr old digital SLR and it works but it is only 3 megapixals and heavy enough to make my carpel tunnel flare up. I have an iPad with camera which is light and easy to use but the image quality is limited by the tiny sensor and limited lens.

I’ve been angry about feeling blocked getting frustrated, and depressed in turns. I’m sad right now because I had these lovely plans that only required my husband to remove things that belonged elsewhere, which I cannot relocate myself, and leave the space open. I tell myself to be patient. I would rather scream.

Other than that, it is mostly about getting rid of things I don’t use, don’t want, and which take up space better left open. I want to blog on success. So far, there hasn’t been much success. I should give up fussing over what I cannot control and do something I can do, even if it is so small it makes no visible difference–at this time. Anything, even if it makes no difference now, will help later on when the blocks end.

The entire camera bit is a post all of its own. I should write up my rambling back and fourth camera debate and post it too.

God bless!

Dear Lord, please help us all to get rid of what we do not need to free up space in our own lives and to free us to give more to others who are in need. Amen.+

Thoughts on Two E’s

Someone asked me why I cheer for every single person I see succeeding in any way. I had no pat answer for her, and this began me thinking.

Why DO I cheer, even for the other team? Why am I delighted at every single story of someone making their mark or accomplishing their personal best? And figured out that it boils down to the impact of Excellence and Envy on our culture.

I cheer because every person’s success enriches not only them, but me as well. We strive toward goals as individuals, but our efforts impact not only ourselves but everyone around us too. In impacting the people in our lives we set off ripples that impact our entire culture.

Each person who reaches for perfection (an impossibility this side of heaven) will achieve some degree of excellence. Every person who achieves excellence is adding to and enriching their community and culture. The individual achieves excellence as an individual, but the culture is collective.

We rise collectively as well as individually every time an individual achieves. Or to say it a different way, Individual Achievement feeds the common good.

In the West, the individual has been richly rewarded for achievement of excellence. Sometimes with fame, often with cash, and this is a great thing for that individual! It is also a great thing for our community. When a person rises, it nearly always includes competition. Every winner sets a higher target and encourages everyone to work a little harder and become a little better. The individual winner pulls the culture collectively UPward.

So your win is my win too. I do not get the blue ribbon, or the big check, but I get to be part of a culture where higher achievement is rewarded and so the culture will rise.

Sadly, Envy has replaced cheering for the winners in too many cases. Envy says that the individual winner has taken something from the community, from the collective culture. THIS IS WRONG THINKING!

Envy leads to taking from those who achieve excellence to give to those who did not achieve excellence. Envy punishes excellence! Envy destroys cultures and we can see our own country dying as a culture thanks to Envy.

So I cheer for the individuals who are succeeding, I cheer for the teams who are succeeding, because it is by way of the winners that the culture collectively can rise. Without the individual winners– the culture will die. I choose excellence over envy.

Dear Lord, please forgive us for the times we have exhibited envy and help us to seek excellence in all things.

The Walls of Constantinople

I just watched a wonderful TED talk on the significance of the Walls of Constantinople to the West.  I enjoyed that this video is both concise and clear. The only criticism I have is that those fleeing Constantinople did not only go to Rome, but to many other major cities. It was not so much the crusaders who brought the culture and knowledge from Constantinople to the west as it was the Eastern Romans themselves. Most of our books call them Byzantines, but they knew themselves as Roman.

Go watch the video. Use it as part of your Church History or Ancient History unit studies.

Consider this: Constantine introduced the organ to the west, so Church music owes much to the Byzantine empire.  The Chants of Constantinople influenced church music and resulted in Gregorian chant and other chant forms in the West.

Let us be sure to teach history to our children so that they understand its importance, and that they know the truth of what occurred. The Eastern Roman Empire was the center of culture for nearly a millennium.  THEY built the libraries and cities of Byzantium, and it was their work that was co-opted by the Ottoman during the so-called golden age of islam. The Byzantines were creative and CHRISTIAN. They led their time in architecture and when someone points to a dome on a mosque– you tell them they got that technology from the Byzantine Christians.

Dear Lord, thank you for the Eastern Roman Empire’s role in protecting Christendom and making the Renaissance possible. Help us to learn history so that we understand its value.  +Amen.

Tidying my Office–Before

Post 2 on my struggles in housekeeping.  Today, I continue with step one in THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo. My office is currently in our RV, which is also under renovation.  The good side of using the RV as my office is it gives me ample time to figure out what I want changed in here, and what things belong in here and which do not.

Right now my desk looks like this:

my desk photo

It is a bit cluttered. I like having the family photos on my desk. I feel good having them there. The only family member missing is my eldest who keeps ducking my request for a photo.  The icons are also very special to me.

Now, I hope to eventually have an AFTER for not only my desk, but for the entire office:

my office

The baby seat moves around a lot, but I had to put her somewhere while I took the pictures and that spot was easy.  Clearly, this is a cluttered working space. There are things here I love, and things here because I need them, but there are also things that I suspect do not belong in my office at all.

I certainly hope this book I am reading helps me to get rid of what is correct to remove, but keep what is correct to keep. I have this huge anxiety that I will somehow toss something essential and end up in a pickle because something I need is not there.

Like the pile of papers– what if I get rid of the wrong thing? How can I be sure I am finished with it? What to do with the papers I need to hold onto? What if I am wrong? What if later I discover that something that in the moment I decide is unneeded is actually important to keep?

I am a basket-case in many ways.

Now I would like to get rid of the old cork board. But I actually don’t know if it is covering a hole in the wall or not. It is a used RV and didn’t come with much history– only that it was a mobile office for a police force in a nearby city and somehow nobody but my husband bid on it(probably because it had five desks, a non-working refrigerator, and no real kitchen).  We have torn out some things, and there is a space for a two drawer refrigerator, and another space which will eventually have a two drawer freezer and some counter space. This will give a tiny but useful kitchen. The sort that would be perfect for my coffee pot!

So I sit and visualize how I want to live in this space. It is useful as preparation for the next step.

Dear Lord, please help me to get rid of all the right things, and to give away or sell anything that needs to go. Please help me over-come the anxiety connected to this effort. +Amen.

CONVERGENCE

THE LIFE-CHANGING ART OF TIDYING UP is all about beauty. The ordinary beauty we make for ourselves in our homes. Yet in a culture that devalues beauty, attempts to define it down to function, and links the value of everything to the money it can produce, our lives are filled with clutter and ugliness.

Returning to my original discussion of the loss of beauty in our culture see how wrong the culture has this entire concept?

“What is beauty?” is a question that this culture is as ill-equipt to answer as Pilate was to answer his own, “What is Truth?” There is only one source of Love in all its perfection, only one source of Truth in its fullness, only one source of Beauty in its complete form–and that source is one source. God, the creator of everything out of nothingness, one being in three persons, a mystery beyond the human mind’s ability to grasp, is the origin of Beauty. The creator of beauty defines it.

So, what IS beauty? It is not, as I have shown in the past weeks, merely function. Good design, excellence of function, these are elements in beauty but not the entirety of it. Aesthetics plays a part. An object may have attributes not part of the function that increase the beauty.

IMG_1339           IMG_1336

For example: a crock for making pickles, sauerkraut, or dilly carrots does not have to be beautiful to be functional. The paper plate does not need to be pretty to be functional. Yet, there is beauty that does nothing to improve the function, yet adds to my pleasure in using it.

Lack of beauty is ugliness. A meal that is not beautiful is ugly. A home that is not beautiful is ugly.

The loss to our quality of life is astounding when we neglect beauty and yet we do not fight our cultures insistence that we only develop those skills in our children that can make money.

I shall keep on seeking ordinary beauty. I seek beauty in the washing of the sink. I seek beauty in the doing of the laundry. I seek beauty when making sauerkraut from scratch. I seek beauty every time I practice the art of tidying up.

Dear Lord, please help each of us to change our attitudes about beauty. Help us to reject the false measure of a paycheck or the incomplete measure of functionality. Help us to recognize and embrace beauty and share it with the people around us. Help us to show love by creating beauty. +Amen.

 

Everyday Beauty VI: Revisiting my office

I am now thinking about the effects of beauty on my workspace. At this moment, my workspace is a mess. I have a number of things I love on this desk. However, it is difficult to enjoy them fully when the space is so cluttered. I “see” my office without the paper clutter. I see my office with shelves. I see the cupboards with bins in them that make pulling out what I need easier. As it stands now I have to struggle to get to what I need. If there were bins, then I could pull whatever bins I needed to get to what I need– of course that requires a clear categorization of the contents of each of the bins.

I think if I took the first aid cabinet and added two small bins to sit on the large one–then put the less often and extra first aid items in the larger bin, and set two small bins on top, one with oral medications (head-ache, stomach, etc) and the other one for cuts(bandaids and ointments or sprays for the skin) that would make that cabinet useful and easy–and remove the first aid stuff from my desk drawers!

IMG_1395

I have need of some means of handling books that I must have at hand.  I have need of some means of handling the papers! I have sheet music, and printouts of articles for my research, and notebooks– all need to be close at hand, easily accessed, and NOT in a pile on my desk!

I honestly do not know how to do this.

I can honestly say that the icon, pencil holder, pictures, autoharp, colorful pots, each brings me joy. I can say that there are quite a few things on my desk that do not bring me joy at all.  I need the articles and sheet music, but I need them where I can get to them, where I can find them, and right now, well, it is not working efficiently and this clutter negatively effects my writing.

Dear Lord, please help me learn how to handle all my materials so that I can find them. Please help me keep my desk-top free of clutter and wonderful to use. +Amen.

Ordinary Beauty VI: health

Our culture does not value beauty beyond its relationship to function or earning power. Girls are taught to pursue careers and earn good money; they are taught to develop a career before they consider marriage and family. Men seek wives who can add a solid second paycheck; men used to seek wives who had the skills to create a beautiful home for a family. There was a time when the beauty created by home makers was valued. Girls were taught the skills and could expect to have those skills valued.  Those days are long gone.

Our culture glorifies the career by high value on earning ability and almost no value at all on the work of creating the ordinary beauty of a home that nurtures the health of a family.

IMG_1219(Salt brine fermentation of cabbage, carrots, diakon radish, and various fresh spices)

Health suffers for lack of beauty.

The skills of cooking from scratch, from natural, whole foods do not increase a paycheck. Meal creation is an art and a skill; meal creation produces ordinary beauty. Without the beauty of good cooking there is a decrease in health and an increase in obesity.

Sports are a form of beauty. Athleticism has become a spectator sport, rife with drugs and scandals. The skill of a batter, the skill of a pitcher, these were beautiful once. Playing team sports was something almost every child did– and they were active outside everyday.

Children and adults created a beautiful community when they came together to play games. Jumping rope taught cooperation and the drive for excellence. Jumping rope was beautiful. Baseball taught the beauty of working together to a goal and how to value the contributions of others. The competition taught the beauty of success and how to use failure as a stepping-stone to improvement.

Dance is a form of beauty that aided physical and social health. People gathered together to enjoy movement and music. Beautiful music that went with beautiful dances like Waltzes and Tangos.

IMG_1398(a folk instrument called an autoharp, with several colorful crocks of fermenting sauerkraut)

Music is a beauty that used to bring people together in an active way. People did not only listen to music but they MADE their own beauty with it. Fewer and fewer people play any instrument well enough to share it.

Our culture tells us that if we cannot make money with music, dance, sports, cooking, then we should not waste time learning to be good at it. We are telling our young people that beauty is only worth working at if we can turn it into a paycheck.

Dear God, please wake us up to the value of beauty. Teach us to love the work of becoming good at something that enhances quality of life, health, and community but will not ever make us any money. Teach us to love beauty enough to make it and share it with others. +Amen.