Friday, December 30, 2011

iPhone iDeas

I love playing with my iPhone, and if forced under threat of paper cut torture, I would probably admit that I am somewhat addicted. I would only say "somewhat" because there are apps that I can do without. Heck, there have been tons of apps that I have uploaded and then deleted within just a couple of days.

But I could not live without iPhoneography. Okay. That was melodramatic. Let me rephrase: I would profoundly miss iPhoneography if I no longer had access to it.

I play with iPhone pictures all the time. I snap pics of my little guy constantly. I view the iPhone as my point-and-shoot camera since my real one is too big and clunky to just throw in my purse or pocket. I take self-portraits and glam myself up when I need a confidence boost. I love taking pics of things that I normally reserve for my real camera just to see how they look.

And I love experimenting! I think that's one of my favorite aspects. I don't have to follow any expectations or rules; I can just have fun!

One fun series of photos I put together started with me just playing with Hipstamatic as we drove down the road. I was setting it to take pictures using random settings for the films and lenses. I would stop after each shot and see what the image looked like.

Then I got this one:

And I thought, "Ooh! Very post-apocalyptic!" And anyone who knows me well knows that I just love that sort of thing! So I stayed on that setting and snapped another shot:

And another one...

And another one...

And soon I had what would amount to a couple of film rolls of images. To me, they speak of aftermath, of a world gone silent, of a futile search for what remains of humanity.

I'm mulling over the idea of putting them all together in some sort of photo book. I'm trying to decide if I want to add words, or if I want the pictures to speak for themselves (especially if I use a really good title and introduction).


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Me: An Allegorical Journey

I think that, in order to move on to the next stage of one's life, one must clean out the attic and throw away the impediments of the past: fear, anger, frustration, self-doubt. All of those things that hold us back and prevent us from becoming.

Becoming what? Becoming what we want to be, who we deserve to be.

2011 was a whirlwind year for me, but there were bouts of extreme negative feelings for me, as well. For all the happiness and blessings in my life, there were moments of serious frustration.

So, it's time to clear out the attic of my soul. Perhaps by doing that, I can prepare myself to move on to 2012 with clear vision and purpose...

Opening the latch to the attic and pushing open the little doorway prompts a shower of dust to fall over us. We shake it off and push through, shining our light across our surroundings. Boxes are scattered everywhere. Most are cardboard boxes, but there are a couple of pieces of old luggage, some milk crates, and there seems to be a heavy safe back in the furthest recesses of the attic. The milk crates are open and easy to go through, so we'll start there.

The first one is full of clocks. Alarm clocks, stopwatches, wall clocks. Each one missing hands or simply stopped and never restarted. They represent the time that has been wasted and the time that was never successfully found. They'll be the first to go, except for one. At the top of the pile is a gold pocketwatch. It is engraved with a bird in flight. Opened, it reveals a perfectly clear face and hands that are still ticking away. On the back, another engraving: "It's your time to soar." We'll keep this watch and use it to find and make the time we'll need to be creative in 2012. Sliding it into our pocket, we hand down the rest of the crate. One down.

The next box we come to is closed. When we open it, we find that it is full of needles, those needles of self-doubt that stab into us when we get new ideas or want to try new techniques. Or when we simply want to create. Many of the needles are rusted; they have been used already. But some are fresh and sharp, ready to go to work on our psyches. We pull out one needle, examining it in our fingers. Not this time, we think to ourselves. We carefully grip it and bend it into a circle. Let self-doubt stab itself for a change. We push this needle into our pocket, and the rest of the box is handed down the steps to be thrown away.

Pushing through some cobwebs, we find a laundry basket overflowing with socks. As we start to sort through, we find colorful socks in the most amazing patterns. Excited, we start to sort through further, hoping to find mates to each of these socks. Time wears on and we become frustrated. Our efforts are proving fruitless. Then we realize it. We have discovered frustration. Frustration at not finishing things. At not finding what we're looking for. Well, we have wasted enough time with that. We throw all the socks back in the basket, and slide the basket across the attic floor. It falls through the trapdoor and lands below with a satisfying whump! There'll be no more of that frustration in the year to come.

A suitcase catches our eye. It is black with bands of leather across the top. The leather bands are attached to buckles which latch to keep the suitcase secure. The buckles have rusted shut, but the leather is cracked and worn. It only takes a couple of strong tugs to break them free. Opening the suitcase, we find it full of photographs. Each photograph is a frozen memory in time. Rather than flipping through them with the excitement of precious memories, we gasp at the stab of pain we feel in the pit of our stomachs. For these are the photos of those memories that bring us sorrow. The memories of the injustices we've endured. Of the people who have hurt us. Some of the pictures are old, practically crumbling to pieces. We take a couple of them in our hands and grind them together, watching them turn to dust. We can let those memories go. Other pictures are new, their colors too bright and their memories too sharp. They are the ones that hurt the most. We look at them and wonder how we can ever let them go, ever forget the images before us. We can't.

But we can do something else. We sort through and pull out the memories that haunt and hurt us the most. With these in hand, we close the suitcase and send that to the garbage with the rest of the boxes we have already gone through. The pictures we pulled out, we will keep. Not to remind ourselves of the pain, per se. But to remind ourselves that we are strong. That we survived. And that bad memories make the good events in our lives resonate and shine all the brighter. We will put these images in scrapbooks surrounded by all the happy images of our lives. The bad memories will be forced to diminish and fade and crumble to dust as we add more and more happy images to our books. We set these pictures aside, satisfied that we can move on.

A single photo lays on the floor before us. It fell out of the suitcase before we closed it. Tentatively, we reach out and pick it up. Brushing dust off its surface, we see our own face. It is faint, faded. On the back is scribbled one single word: Afterthought.

We sigh. How often have we felt that way, like an afterthought? Sometimes even worse, an afterthought that never comes to fruition, that is never...thought at all. How many times have we been overlooked? Underestimated? How many times have people forgotten our feelings because we appear so easy-going? We think of all those times--the forgotten invitations, the overlooked plans, the stolen ideas, the trampled-on feelings--we think of them, and we weep.

Tears coat the picture in our hands, blurring and fading it more, like pieces of ourselves are disappearing more and more. Our hands tremble and we are tempted to crumple the picture up in our hands. But that would wipe us out altogether, we fear.

So, we smooth it out, wiping the tears and more dust from the once-glossy surface. We see a frame in a nearby stack and we put this picture within the confines of wood and cardboard and glass.

We will not forget the woman in this image. We will feed and nurture her. We will stand back and smile when her inner light burns brightest. We will envelop her and protect her when no one else realizes that they need to do it. We will be her champions and her guardians, and we will remind her that she is not an afterthought to herself. That she matters. And we will guide her down new paths of discovery and self-discovery in the year to come.

We hug the framed image to our hearts, and we look around the room. There is still a great deal of work to do here. Much that needs to be done. But we have started the process. And for today, that is enough.


Monday, December 26, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #17: C'est Moi!!

I hate getting my picture taken; I really do. I'm hypercritical and see every little flaw. I prefer to be the one behind the camera...and as it turns out, I actually have a strange affinity for taking self-portraits. Maybe it's knowing that I have the power to instantly hit "delete" that appeals to me. Bad picture? Good-bye!

This week's iPhoneography mission was to "Grant yourself permission to make a self-portrait every day this week only." And that strange little lump of vanity that dwells somewhere deep in my heart was super excited!!

Day One:

I was post-dye by a day or two. Those nasty white hairs were taking over me head, so I reached for the box of hair color. I was trying a new brand. Because I had a coupon. Three minutes in, I was rinsing like crazy and praying that I didn't look like Carrot Top. Phew! Success!! Whites were covered and a nice, light reddish-brown was the result. Success!!!


Please Don't Be Orange...

Day Two:

Monday!! Yeah...That pretty much says it all...

Get Me Out of Here!!

Day Three:

I was feeling silly that Tuesday morning. Christmas break was looming on the distant horizon, and I knew that the woe of Monday was history. So I played. Just a little.

The Zombies are Marching!


Day Four:

Sometimes, I dislike Wednesday as much as I dislike Monday. It just seems like getting over that "hump" is such a difficult task! I often wish that schools could have bankers' hours on Wednesday: done at noon. Wouldn't it be nice?

I Can't Do This Anymore

I Wanna Be a Rock Star

Day Five:

Sinus headache. Epic.

On the Edge and Sinking

Day Six:

It's Christmas Eve!! We have a standing invitation to my father-in-law's house that night for a surf and turf dinner. This year, because Christmas fell on the most inopportune day, Sunday, we planned Christmas with my parents during the day on the 24th. As I started to get ready around 9:00, I got a text from my brother asking where we were; they were hungry and were holding breakfast until we got there. I went into panic mode! I thought that we were just showing up whenever! And now that text?! Augh!!!!

I started scrambling! Flinging on makeup and trying to gain control of my out-of-control hair.

Then, one final text. "No problem. Take your time." It was a joke. That's what I get for bullying my baby brother when we were kids, I guess....


Day Seven:

Christmas morning. My husband and I were up early. So while we waited for our little guy to wake up (8:30), we enjoyed coffee and peace. It was a nice quiet start to a day filled with noise and glee and excitement!

Good Morning Virtual World!

This mission was pretty fun! Most of my pics were snapped in the midst of my morning routine, and it was nice that I didn't have to worry about when and where I was going to fulfill the mission. It was just a matter of pointing, clicking, and moving on!

So now, it's time to be moving on to the next mission!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas has changed. And it's all because I get to see it through the eyes of a child again!

I remember Christmas when I was a kid, especially when I was old enough to know about my parents' role in the holiday. My siblings and I would go to bed, but I would lay awake. I'd listen to my parents making trips up and down the hallway. I'd stretch my ears to the living room to hear paper and tape and laughter. I'd listen for that last trip down the hallway and wait until stillness had settled around the house.

Then, I'd slip out to the living room, flashlight in hand. I wasn't snooping, per se. I just wanted to see if we'd be having a merry Christmas. I don't know how they did it; time were often very tough at our house, but my parents always made sure that our Christmas would be full of the magic of Santa's visit.

I'd go back to bed, and I would lay there. And lay there. And lay there. It was usually pushing midnight before I could calm my excitement and fall asleep.

I would be awake again by about 3:00, waiting for the sound of my parents. Living on a farm, they were always up around 4:00 to go to the barn and do the morning milking and chores. It seemed like hours would pass before I would hear their alarm clock. Mom would be the first out the door so she could start feeding the calves. Dad would follow in what, again, would seem like hours.

For a couple of minutes, I wouldn't move, just to be sure that they hadn't forgotten something. I didn't want them to return to the house and find me already up! Not that they would have minded; it was just part of the routine!

Then, sure that they were doing chores, I'd slip down the hallway to the living room. Sometimes, my little brother would already be there; other times, he would come out of his room as I passed by.

We would stand there and stare. Mom and Dad would've turned the lights on already, and the gifts would be illuminated in the glow. The rule was that we were forbidden to touch any of the presents. And believe it or not, we adhered to that rule. That didn't keep us from doing acrobatics, trying to crane our necks to read the gift tags that Mom always hid from our view!!

Then, we'd open our stockings, the one thing we were allowed to do without our parents. There'd often be an "Open Now" gift sitting on the couch, a new card or board game to keep us entertained. Eventually, my sister would stumble down the hall, eyes bleary, and we would wait for her to open her stocking before tearing into the new game. (There was that one year when we had to wake her up at 8:30. She'll never hear the end of that!)

After a while, it would near 7:00, and we would start watching for our parents to walk up the hill to our house. They'd come in the door, and the three of us would yell, "Merry Christmas!!"

Dad's eyes would twinkle and he'd be wearing his "Smith smirk". He'd stretch and yawn before saying, "Well, we're going to take a nap before opening presents..."

The three of us would yell, "No!" and he would laugh. Mom and Dad would go clean up, change into some comfy clothes, and again, we would find time slowing down while we waited for them to join us.

Finally, they would return to the living room. They would open their stockings, and then they would begin handing out the presents one at a time, so we could each bask in being the center of attention and could show off what we had received.

It was a time of magic.

I love that I can now share that magic with our son. He's starting to get the concept of Christmas this year, but I think next year is going to be the start of his true understanding and excitement. I so cannot wait!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #16: The One that Almost Got Away

I was very excited when I saw this week's mission:

Mission #16: Record words and phrases that speak to you in public places.

This was going to be so cool!! I started scouting around school, finding some really cool shots. My week was busy, so I decided that I would snap my pics on Friday during my prep period.

Except I ended up physically restraining a student during a near-fight and my chance to snap pictures got consumed by attending to that situation. THEN, I got home only to find that my dad had been admitted to the hospital with a bad infection in his finger. Which could seem small but infections have a way of spiraling out of control these days. And while his seems to be under control, the fate of his finger is still undetermined.

So I've been visiting him every day. Bringing along the little guy for laughs and a care package of games for distraction. And my iPhone for one last ditch effort to fulfill the mission...

Where Do We Go? And What Do These Things Mean?

I'd Like to Speak to the Engineer About How to Get Off This Thing

The Only Word That Matters

Waiting for Joy

Distracting Grampie

Where Do I Start?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

I've Got the Blues...In a Good Way!

This week's iPhoneography mission? Awesome!

Mission #15: Find something blue.

Awesome, why? Because blue is my favorite color. Granted, I pay as much due reverence to the right shades of purple, but blue has the bigger space in my heart. It reminds me of so many things that I love: blue skies, blue jeans, "You're my boy, Blue!" (the movie Old School), forget-me-nots, and the list goes on. My bedroom is blue; my truck is blue. When I buy Hubby shirts, they are generally blue.

It's not quite an obsession, but I'm definitely a fan.

So, I kept my eye out for things that were blue this week. My first shots were of the sky; it was wonderfully blue (on the days it wasn't raining), and a blue sky just makes me feel that all is right with the world...

Blue Skies, Shining on Me
(Native camera and PhotoToaster)

Into the Blue

Midnight Blues
(Native camera and PhotoToaster)

I didn't want all of my pictures to be of the sky. That seemed sort of like cheating. So I resisted the temptation (and believe me, it was hard), and I looked for a couple other things that were blue. Among the shots that I took that I actually liked was the next one: the drum kit in the band room. The little guy loves to play it, and I love this listen to him pounding on those drum heads in what is almost a steady rhythm already!

Beat the Blues
(Native camera and PhotoToaster)

As much as I like to get dolled up on occasion, I am really a blue jeans kind of girl. I couldn't, therefore, resist a shot...

Old School Blues
(Hipstamatic's Newest Pak)

And finally, even the little guy got in on the action. I have several game apps that he likes to play with on my phone. Among them, of course, is the prerequisite "Thomas & Friends" apps. The newest one has coloring pages of some of the new engines. My little guy must be going through a Picasso stage; he only colors each page in one color. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I was going through my album and discovered that he had (somehow magically) saved this image for me. Good job, pal!!

Blue Belle
(Screen shot)

All pictures aside (heh), winter and the holiday season can be the cause for the blues for some. I know; I've been there myself. I can't offer a cure for that other than a promise that if you open your heart to it, life does get better. The blues can just become beautiful shades of a color instead of the shade of your heart...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Heart Full of Love

Deck the Halls
(with Beer Works coasters...)

Ah, Christmas...

As Nick gets older, Christmas becomes more and more magical.  I can't wait until Christmas morning this year. I think it is going to be so full of wonder and joy and love that I may explode from all of it.

It is important to my husband and I, though, that he learns about generosity. He is a much beloved little boy, and there is a tendency to spoil him since he is, for now, the only grandchild.

Knowing that to be the case, Mark and I began to think about the way to teach him generosity. One of my colleagues attends a church that, as part of its missions projects, supports a local homeless shelter. Each year, my colleague asks people to support the children in the shelter by purchasing Christmas presents for them.

The year that I was pregnant, we began to participate. We purchased gifts for two children that first year. Each year since then, we have tried to purchase for a little boy that is Nick's age. With the exception of one year, though, we always end up purchasing for an extra child. I force myself to stop at two. We can't afford to buy for all of them...though if we ever win the lottery that will change.

This year, we chose two kids again. A four-year-old boy who asked for Thomas toys was the first choice; the second choice was a seventeen-year-old girl who only wanted Bath and Body Works and a bathrobe.

Who can deny gifts like that?

In preparation, we sat Nick down and told him that there was a little boy who didn't have a house. Santa wouldn't be able to visit him, so we needed to buy him presents instead.

I wasn't sure if Nick would "get" it. Boy, was I wrong.

Up until last night, when we bought the gifts, Nick kept asking, "When are we going to buy presents for the sad little boy with no house?"

This morning, he told me that we had bought the present last night and that the sad little boy could be happy now. I told him how proud I am of him, that he was so generous and kind. I said to him, "Nick, you have a big heart that's full of love."

He looked up at me, pondering. "Mommy? Do you have a heart full of love?"

Oh yes, I do. And I know who much of that love is reserved for...

First Letter to Santa!

What he dictated to me...No wonder I love this kid!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #13: Breakfast? What's That?

This week's mission nearly didn't happen. And here's why:

I don't eat breakfast.

I know; I know! It's the most important meal of the day! It jump starts your metabolism! It gives you the energy to get through your day! It prevents you from making poor food choices later in the day!

I know all those things, but it doesn't change the fact that I don't eat breakfast. It's not that I'm against breakfast. I love breakfast food, especially the more savory foods. But when I eat too early in the day, I feel sick. If I can wait until after 8:00, or preferably after 9:00, it's all good. Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of teaching class at that point, so having breakfast then is pretty much impossible. That, and my lunch is scheduled for 10:40. I just consider that to be brunch, so that's my first meal of the day.

Which brings me around to this week's mission: Mission #14: Study the color and shape of your breakfast.


I had a bagel and some veggie cream cheese in the fridge, so I forced myself to make that one morning and I snapped some pics. Do you know how gross bagels and cream cheese can look in pictures? It didn't help that it was 6:30 in the morning and the sun hadn't risen and my kitchen lighting is equivalent to that of the middle ages. That breakfast was gross!

And it was forced. I don't normally eat that every day. So I scratched those pictures and went for my morning reality...

Coffee Time
(Hipstamatic: Lucas AB2, Blanko)

Singing Its Praises
(Hipstamatic: Lucas AB2, Claunch 72 Monochrome)

Good Morning

A Sidelong Glance with Longing

Drink Up

I'd say more, but I see that my current cup is empty. Time to get a little more...

See you for next week's challenge!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #13: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

This week's mission had the potential to be a real challenge. The mission was to "Go someplace you've never been" which could have been difficult to play out given that it was a holiday week. I had a plan (never a good idea) which never came to fruition, but then I remembered that Saturday was the big Wilcox family holiday party. Unlike years past, we didn't converge on anyone's house or the church for the dinner. This year, we rented a room at the Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, PA. Along with the buffet, they have a gift shop. That's where I fulfilled my mission...

We had to follow the lighted path to get to the end of our mission
and get our family all together...

Terribly fierce bears barred our way but we bribed them
with honey and hugs and they let us pass...

Gilded trees lined the path and confused our senses...

Our confusion grew and we were sure that we were lost
in a strange world from which we could never find our way back...

Then we saw respite ahead! A land of sugar plum fairies!

The Gingerbread Man assured us that we were following the right path...

We found treasures beyond reason!

We pushed our way through the glittery forest that blocked our way...

Faeries giggled as we approached their cottage, our destination...

Success!! Four generations of Wilcoxes in one room!

(Okay, so the last picture wasn't taken with my iPhone, but I had to share it)

We had a wonderful (though too short, as always) day together. I am so proud to be part of such a large and loving family! We are truly blessed!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

iPhoneography Mission #12: Let the Weeds Get a Little Out of Control

I was so excited to see the next iPhoneography  mission: "Let the weeds get a little out of control." How perfect! I'm known for having black instead of green thumbs! And my overgrown, wilted, and dried out front yard is proof!

It's also the perfect spot to meet this mission head on!

I used the native camera to take the intial shots, and I took them quickly because it is freezing outside! Once inside and warmed by the fire, I processed all the images using Photo Toaster, which is becoming my favorite iPhoneography tool! My first image is of some mums that dried out. The rest are some sort of bush that the landscaper put in a couple of years ago. I don't know what they are, but they worked well for this mission!!

Beauty Fades


Gone By


The End of Things to Come


I love these missions! I love that they give me a chance to step outside my norm and take pictures of things other than barns. Not that I don't love barns, but it's fun to do something different sometimes!

On to the next!!