Friday, April 11, 2008

Blogging is Empowering!

Through my blog, I can analyze my life, get ideas from others, develop strategies and discuss them, and then I can talk about my progress! And I know that some other people have learned things from my blog, too.

I love all of the comments from my ydy's blog entry! Jim, I don't know if I know you; I do know a Jim, and I wonder if it's you. ;) You're right that I cannot be scheduled very strictly. That's because I'm a nomad. I can't get involved in things that require me to be in a particular place for long, because .. I'm not going to be there!

I would like to get into "real" artistic media. I've always been more of a doodler than a sketcher, but that is not because I don't like to sketch. And I do play the piano a bit, though I don't know if people would actually want to hear me play! LOL I actually care more for people than to subject them to my playing. ;)

Maddy.. she is um.. trying to get better about jumping on people, but she still has a way to go. I don't think that she'd be good for being a therapy dog. People would NEED therapy after spending much time with her. :D

Becky, I'm glad you told me not to beat myself up for not wanting to get out. I realize that I need to just mellow, and that is going to take time. And the time I take now is not wasted, because I'm using the time to HEAL. I think that healing sometimes requires some quiet time with computer games. ;)

Lynell, I love your story about Jack Kilby! I have not eaten at a counter since I've been alone. I should try that. Every day might be an issue for me, because I think I'd put on weight, if I ate a good meal every day at noon.

Now.. I'm not actually shy. I am fine with other people -- friendly and funny, and people like me. I think that I'm probably better with others than I was when I still had Michael, because he overshadowed me.

My problem lies in just getting out of the house to begin with. Once I'm out, I'm good. Travel .. is fine, once I'm out the door.

And tonight I ventured out to do some shopping! That's right. I left the house at 5:30 pm.

First I went to Jones Photo to pick up the prints that I'd ordered, and they turned out GREAT! Having printed a few things on laser printers, and seeing my stuff printed in magazines and books, this is such a great option. This ain't Walmart, folks. Walmart prints are nowhere near this good. This is a Tucson photo lab which uses actual humans to make the photos, and I am just amazed by the work they did. The colors are vibrant and rich.. and true to what I gave them. I guess that says something about the calibration of my monitor, too.

The cool thing is that anyone can order prints and have them sent. Jones Photo has an interface that's very straight forward to use, and their prices are comparable to using your own photo paper and ink on your own printer, but the results are FAR better. And if you don't want to deal with shipping, try a real independent photo lab near you.

After I picked up my fab photo prints, I went to the mall. I leisurely shopped, looking for slides for my neck ring, clothes.. and just stuff.

One sales woman made me chuckle, but not till after I left the store. I am looking into the display cases at various things, not pausing for long at any one case. When I got to one particular case, the woman came over and said, "The things in this case are 50% off."

She had done nothing to establish what I was looking for, what I liked or did not like. I wonder if anyone ever buys something just because it's 50% off?! That seemed to be the assumption that she was making!

I bought a couple of cute shirts from Ann Taylor Loft (on deep discount), and then headed over to the Food Court. A slice of pizza with pineapple and pepperoni. Not hot.. not great at all. Bought a brownie and leisurely walked back through the mall.

I found a place that I'd visited before with Ione, and where I'd seen a clock I liked. I bought it tonight! It's a sun for the bathroom and it's perfect. I put it up when I got home.

Again, there were no spotlights on me. Nothing bad happened. I sort of had fun, and I had shopping successes. I found my car with no trouble, because I had paid attention to where I parked when I went into the mall. (That was always Michael's responsibility!)

On a sad note, my friend Jack called to tell me that his Dad died this evening. He was 92 and had taken himself off dialysis, so there was no surprise, but I know that this has been a difficult few weeks for Jack's family. :/

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Facing my fears

Those of you who know me through Photoshop are probably thinking, "Janee? Afraid? Noooo.." I've always charged right into photography, art, Photoshop without any regard to those I-can't notions. I push buttons with abandon!

But those of you who know the real me see a different person. I'm somewhat boxed-in. I have gotten to a point where it is difficult for me to venture out of my house, out of the Village alone. In fact, I believe I can count on one hand the number of times that I've left the Village by myself this season.

And it's not just since Michael died, either. For the past several years, with the single exception of my walking, I stayed home until he got home. Then we went out. I very rarely went shopping alone, even for groceries.

One thing I do know about fears is this: The first step in overcoming them is recognizing them. I just read a fine article on 5 life-changing ways to overcome fear. This guy is smart and his ideas are concrete and reasonable. And I'm taking it to the bank. The steps are, in brief, these:
  1. Take small steps.
  2. Find motivation to lose the fear.
  3. Learn to see failure differently.
  4. Live in the now.
  5. Be willing to redefine yourself.
I took a small step this morning. After my walk with Maddy, I took her back home and then went -- alone -- to breakfast! I went to The Good Egg and had orange juice and a pancake with granola and strawberries.. and real maple syrup! Here's a photo. I should have had the server take a pic of me with my food, though. It would have been a bit more interesting, perhaps!

Now, of course, I'm back in my cocoon, doing email and Sudoku on the computer! Small steps. . .

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hiking on Mount Lemmon

Yesterday was hiking day! What was left of the Hiking Club (Duane, Herb, and I) went hiking on the Marshall Gulch Trail (part of it), forming a nice little loop. We went 4 miles with a challenging enough amount of up.

For those of you who are a bit familiar with the Catlinas (Dave!), note the Catalina Highway and also the Ventana Canyon trail, which I've highlighted:



The day was beautiful, but, since it was up at close to 9000 feet, it was cool -- perfect! One factor that made the hike interesting was the fire.

In June and July of 2003, there was a fire that burned 85,000 acres in the Catalina Mountains, destroying much of Summerhaven and devastating much of the forestland in the area. For more on the fire, see these dramatic photos.

I wasn't here for the fire, but on our hike, we did see some of the results of this fire -- huge trees burned. Many were still standing, but many more were down, lying across our trail. This necessitated climbing over, sliding under, or hiking around the magnificent trunks. We all had charcoal marks on our legs and pants.

Duane and I ate lunch on this magnificent rock. Herb took these photos:

After the hike, we went to the Cookie Cabin to indulge ourselves in some delicious big-as-your-head cookies. :)

And then last night, Eddie played acrobat, falling asleep on one of the high beams in the cottage:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Greenspace How-to

Hi, everyone!
I really appreciate your great comments and helpful suggestions. Sue, I know that you're right about focusing away from myself. With all the travel that I do, it's kind of hard to get involved in volunteer work, though. I really don't want the commitment that entails.

But I have been thinking about reviving my Art Challenge, which is something that I do online and can do from anywhere I can get an internet connection. It's hugely rewarding for me to do that, because jolts me and others to do art that we wouldn't otherwise do.

The Greenspace piece -- I'm glad you like it! :) -- I'll see what I can remember about how I did it. The cool thing is that, even if you follow my directions exactly (and I hope you don't), your art will be different from mine! Yours will be your own.

I began with a blank canvas. I put my Gradient tool into Difference Mode and created a 3-color gradient that I really liked. With this kind of art, the colors are somewhat unpredictable, though.

Then I dragged the tool around on the canvas at angles, till I liked what I saw.

The next part, I was playing around with filters. The one that gave me that sparkly look that I love is, believe it or not, Filter > Texture > Mosaic Tiles. I used a small size of tile, and a low number for grout width. Be sure to view this at the size you are planning to output, because that will matter!

I played around with other filters, but was not happy with what they did. One thing that I like to do is to duplicate the original layer, do some filter effect, and then combine this new layer with what I have already done, using a Layer Blending Mode.

Ok so then I was not happy with the contrast, so I used a Curves Adjustment Layer to pump it up.

Then I was not happy with some blue striping that was in there, and the green was too saturated and light. So I used a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer, running the Hue slider through all its colors. Always do this! You may like what you see! I did. I desaturated the piece a bit, too.

Finally, there was a stripe of black just below the green, and I didn't like it. It occurred to me that the piece overall was too dark, and I'm trying to push myself OUT of the darkness. So I duplicated the layer (again) and cloned some of the orange part into the black area, using a neat scatter brush, sampling often, to avoid patterning.

I did a Replace Color Adjustment Layer, too, to tone down the magenta up in the top left. (Yes, that was magenta!) I like the sort of surprising color that I got there and it spoke to me of joys to be discovered!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Digging out my Photoshop

Well, OK, I didn't really have to dig it out. I've been using Photoshop to crop, color correct, and adjust tonality in my photos that I've been posting for you. But today I was having a look through my folders. I looked in the one for 2008 > Artwork, and it said "This folder is empty." Those of you who know me know that this made me sad!

So I did some playing around, and here's the result:
I titled it Greenspace.

Other than that, I did a bunch of email, played some Sudoku, and essentially chilled. The stupid thing is that I really wanted to go on a hike with the Meetup group, but I just plain chickened out. Once I get out, I do fine with other people. It's just hard for me to get OUT. I tell myself that I can do what I want, and that I don't want to go. But .. I do want to go places. I want to meet new people and experience new things. I feel as if this is a real fear, and I want to somehow jar myself off-center and fix this.

Thanks, John, Kathryn, and Becky, for your understanding and love. I know that I'm flaky right now and that I make some stupid decisions and assumptions. But I think it's wicked for these folks to treat me as they have. I miss my friends. And, with the exception of one or two, they are not here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I'm proud to add Sudoku to my blog page! Of course, it's just another way to feed my own addiction, but it's also for those of you who are, or who may become, addicts too!

My muscles are finally feeling like they're on the mend today. I did go to the pool and the hot tub, enjoying the water and the movement and talking to people. The annoying part was seeing my friends all assembling for a party -- one that I was not told about. Then he showed up and I knew why I had not been invited. Those folks don't invite him and me to the same parties anymore -- not since word got out about our "affair."

This "affair," of course, never happened. He and I have been good friends for 3 seasons now at Far Horizons. We did share a whisper or two at a party. But I guess the word got out that he and I were together too much, and that bothered folks.

This feels like junior high. I just wonder how long they're going to go on not inviting him and me to the same things. Sheesh. I wonder, if I had a party and invited him, his wife, and the "others," if anyone at all would come. I'm scared to try.

I really need to get out of here. I need to do things outside of the park, with people from outside of the park. I've joined a hiking group consisting of NO ONE from the park! I have not actually gone on any hikes yet, because I'm still too sore, but I will.

I also am going to leave here soon to head back to Indiana, where I hope there is less drama than here. I'm seriously dreading going back to my house, but I think I can deal with the stress. I may deal with it by tearing the house up and then hiring someone to fix it for me. :D