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Day 18 - A Place That Matters to Me

I'm funny about places. I don't have a favorite one, which is something I find almost troubling to think about. When asked where I would choose to live if I could live anywhere in the world, I can't come up with an answer. Mostly, I think I'm pretty good at appreciating wherever it is I am living at the time (with a couple of notable exceptions; I hated Bakersfield and the East Bay). I love living in Sonoma County, but do I want to stay here? Sure, I guess . . . unless something takes me to a new area and then I'll probably love that, as well.

Which, I guess, brings me in a round-about way to the place that really does matter to me the most: home. I have had a lot of homes - probably more than most people. I've lived in numerous cities, in five U.S. states, and on two continents. I am fortunate in never having been truly homeless - I've always had somewhere to go at the end of a day, even if it was a place I'd never seen before. I don't think of myself as a "homebody," although I do love being at home. Funnily enough, one of my very favorite things to do is travel, and when I'm going somewhere interesting I don't mind being away from home for long periods of time (I think 6 weeks is the longest trip I've ever taken). When I'm not traveling, though, I mostly enjoy being at home. I'm not one for random day trips in the car, or going to the mall just to have something to do. I'd just as soon stay home, unless there is some persuasive reason for leaving.

Sometimes I wonder why I feel this way, considering that my childhood home wasn't a particularly happy place for me. My parents were not the best caretakers, and there was a lot of shouting and resentment and coldness. I spent a lot of time in my room, with books. But for some reason, I still didn't get an urge to go somewhere other than home. I think part of what I like about home is that all my stuff is there. I suspect this is the main reason I don't like hanging out at the homes of other people that much. If I get the urge to do something - knitting, playing guitar, reading a certain book, doodling around on my computer - I like knowing that those things are available, something I can't count on when I'm away from home. I also like being surrounded by my things (of which there are probably too many; I do struggle against a hoarding urge inherited from my mother; mostly, I'm winning), and one of the things that makes a place truly "home" for me is when I put things up on the walls. So I can look at the artwork and statues and bric-a-brac and books I've collected, and it somehow helps me feel secure. And I always prefer sleeping in my own bed - with my own pillow! Oh, how I love my pillow - to sleeping somewhere new.

Plus, home is where my son is. For the next few years, anyway. :)

I hope I haven't dodged the original intent of this question. I didn't mean to, and if the powers-that-be want an answer to an actual tangible place that matters to me, I'll say the polar ice caps (because if they melt, that's going to lead to a whole world of pain for our species and many others). I also really love Scotland. And Italy. And the Florida Everglades. And the Sonoran Desert. And Utah. And Australia. Okay, so there really are a lot of places that matter to me. But ultimately, my very favorite is "home."


Day 17 - An Art Piece

Georges de la Tour did several versions of "penitent Magdalen" paintings; I've seen two or three of them, and think they are so gorgeous. De la Tour was a master at painting light, and the way it plays with the darkness. Actually, the first de la Tour painting I fell in love with was one of a young Jesus and his father, doing carpentry. Of the Magdalens, the one in the Louvre is my favorite, aesthetically, but I like the one in Los Angeles more, just because it came as a surprise to me. Connor, my mother and I had gone to see the King Tut exhibit at LACMA. Afterwards, we wandered through the main museum, because our King Tut tickets let us in for free, and I discovered this painting:

I was so happy to see her, unexpected like that. And to think, such an amazing painting lives in my home state of California.
[With this post, I'm caught up with 30 Days of Me posts]

Day 16 - A Fanfic

I don't read fanfic. I read a few Harry Potter fics back in the day, but found that it was often difficult to find good ones (and the bad ones can be so very, very bad it's a scary proposition to wade out and start reading things at random). I don't write fanfic, either. I have four original works of fiction laying around unfinished if I get a bug to do some writing of my own. I have, however, written some filk. An entire musical, in fact. Some of you here will probably remember it, but what the heck. Why not post it here as a blast from the past, since it fits this category somewhat?

I wrote "Hogwarts Story" back in 2003. It is an "Order of the Phoenix" musical, set to the music from "West Side Story." There's original artwork, and everything!




Day 14 - A Photo That Makes Me Angry/Sad:

This is a photo of my maternal grandparents' wedding. I makes me sad for so many reasons: For my grandmother, who died this past year. For my grandfather, whom I never really knew, even though he lived only a couple of miles away from where I grew up, until his death in 1980. For their child, my mother, who didn't have a happy life; and for myself, and the ways in which my mother's unhappiness shaped certain things in my own life. For how happy they look in that photo, and how young, and knowing how their marriage and their lives turned out. For her beautiful dress, made by the sister-in-law who hated her and said horrid things about her often. For World War II, which might have changed my grandfather for the rest of his life, turning him into a abuser. Or maybe he was an abuser before the war. I'll never know, and that, too, makes me feel sad.

Day 15 - A Photo That Makes Me Happy:

This photo of me and Connor was taken on our cruise to Alaska. I really did have a wonderful time on that trip - Connor and I had a wonderful time together - and it makes me happy to remember it.


Fairy Penguin - Day 13 - 30 Days of Me

(I'm a couple of days behind, because of traveling home from southern California, but I'll be caught up again soon)

Day 13 - A Photo I Took

As many of you know, I take a lot of photos. To put it mildly. I have tens of thousands of photos in Aperture, and I haven't even managed to import all of them yet. And that doesn't include photos I took before I got my first digital camera in 2002. So, choosing just one was a challenge. In the end, I decided to go with this photo just because I am still so happy that it turned out as well as it did.

This was taken on Kangaroo Island, in Australia, in 2005. I was walking on the beach in the morning, by myself, when I heard something growling at me from the rocks which separated the beach from the hillside above. When I finally pinpointed the sound, I aimed my camera and got lucky with this shot of a Little Penguin - probably a female protecting her burrow and not at all happy about me wandering by so close. Also known as Fairy Penguins, this is the smallest penguin species, and they are incredibly cute. This is one of my all-time favorite bird sightings, one I would never forget with or without the photograph.


Public Enemy #1 - Day 12 - 30 Days of Me

Day 12 - A Photo of Me Taken More Than Ten Years Ago

I decided to go back a bit farther than ten years . . . here is a photo taken in the early 80s - 1984, IIRC. That's my very first car, and yeah, I was blonde. :D

Public Enemy #1


July, 2010 - Day 11 - 30 Days of Me

Day 11 - A Photo of Me Taken Recently

I had to choose between a few different ones: a photo of me on our recent Alaskan cruise, a photo of me fossil hunting in the desert, or playing guitar at our campsite. In the end, I chose this one because turtles are COOL! If you're wondering about the black thing on the turtle's back, it's a radio transmitter. This gravid female had been captured the night before and given an ID number, weighed and measured, and fitted with a transmitter. Then, she spent the night in my car. This photo was taken right before she was released back into the lake the next morning. Then, over the next few days, her radio frequency was monitored each evening in the hopes of finding her out of the water and laying her eggs.

July, 2010:

Day 10 - Whatever Tickles My Fancy

It's another day where I get to pick what to write about, so I'm going to write about my very favorite "things." It's more of a category, I suppose, rather than something specific, but what I love most in the world are animals.

I have loved animals as long as I can remember, and in a way it seems odd to come out and say that, because for me, there was never a time when I wasn't fascinated with animals and I think for large parts of my life, I just assumed that everyone else felt the same way. I mean they're just so COOL, why on earth wouldn't people love them? Sadly, not everyone does. (I say "sadly" because I think a lack of love and respect for other animals on the part of humans is a major contributing factor to the overconsumption of resources that is happening now on our planet). Really, though, what's not to love? There's an animal to tickle just about anyone's fancy - whether you like things that are furry and cuddly, or scaly, or feathery, fast or slow, majestic or humble, maybe a little bit (or a lot) scary. Or just plain cute. Animals are the reason I am majoring in biology - because I want to help conserve them and their habitats, and becoming a scientist seemed the best way for me to do that. Read more...Collapse )
Day 09 - A Song That Makes Me Cry

There are actually quite a few songs that make me cry. And movies, and books, and sometimes random things I see on the television. I cry easily for what I guess could be called "sentimental" reasons. I always have, and assume that I always will. I kind of hope I will, anyway, because I think for me the alternative would mean I'd become horribly jaded (which I struggle with at times anyway).

There is one song in particular, though, that really gets me just about every time I listen to it:

"Slipping Through My Fingers" by Abba

Part of me cringes in horror at using an Abba song to answer this prompt. (And I'm expecting to be mocked for this - yes, I'm looking at you Mike :D). I spent a lot of years not liking Abba, because all I had to go on were images of their *cough cough* flamboyant costumes and having heard "Dancing Queen" a few too many times. Then I saw "Mamma Mia," and thought it was quite clever, and actually developed an appreciation for Abba and their music.

As for the song itself, well, I think it elicits in me what is probably a fairly universal feeling of regret, or wonder about whether or not I'm actually making the most of my life, and specifically with the finite amount of time I have with my son before he grows up and starts an adult life of his own. So, yeah, this one makes me cry just about every time I hear it.

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I'm losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she's gone there's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can't deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
(Slipping through my fingers all the time)
Well, some of that we did but most we didn't
And why I just don't know

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile


Day 08 - A Non-Fictional Book

The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley

I wasn't sure how to choose a non-fiction book about which to write, so I went to my LibraryThing page and pulled up all the books I've ever given 5 stars (the highest possible rating; I only give these out occasionally). Of the non-fiction that appeared there, this is the book I've spent the most time with, by far.

I've used several birding field guides over the years. My first was the Golden Guide, and then Peterson's Eastern. When I got my first National Geographic guide, I fell in love and that quickly superseded even Peterson. And then David Sibley released this guide. From the moment I had it in my hands, I felt like I'd found my One True Love, and I've never looked back. 

This guide is beautiful. It has all the basic things I like in a field guide - it's illustrated (I vastly prefer illustrated guides over those with photos, which is why I've never been fond of Audubon guides); the text is clear and helpful, and the maps are on the same pages as the descriptions and color plates. But mostly, I love love love the illustrations. No one artist could ever capture the best possible illustration of every single bird, but I think Sibley comes close. His illustrations tend to match most closely what I see when I'm out in the field. I don't know if this says more about him, or me, but whatever the reason, I adore this book. There are many field guides - many excellent guides, I might add - on the market, but this is by far and away my favorite, and the one I would recommend to anyone who just wants one guide for North America. 
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