Tuesday, October 15, 2013

the wetlands through the insufficient lens of my iphone

lately the hubby and i have been trying to get a bit healthier and shed some extra pounds. we used to enjoy riding our beach cruisers around town, but they were stolen last year. (sad face) i had an older beach cruiser stored at my folks' house so we brought that home, but what fun is going beach cruising by yourself? "honey, i'm home. your turn to go ride the bike by yourself." i realize some people do like to ride solo, but we like to do things as a team for fun and encouragement. then, my hubby had the great idea of getting one of those stands to turn it into a stationary bike. it works great and we've been (almost) consistent with riding it. today, however, we just weren't feelin' it. i suggested we go for a walk instead. ok, where should we walk? our 2 favorite places are the wetlands and the beach. we were having trouble deciding (not an unusual occurrence in our house) and thought we'd flip for it. at the last second, i said, "wetlands!" i'm glad i did.

before we left i had a fleeting thought of taking my big camera, but decided, nah, it's heavy and bulky, my iphone should suffice. we started out on our trek and the first thing we saw was 5 turkey vultures. 1 was guarding and feasting on a corpse of some kind and the 4 others were watching and waiting. are you kidding me? we see turkey vultures all the time, but 5 of them? together? feasting? ugh. why didn't i bring my freakin' camera? i love how the one on the bottom is guarding it with his wings open like, "nothing to see here, move along." here is a crappy iphone shot of them

then, we turned around and saw about 20 brandt's cormorants sunning themselves on a log. we've seen them on the other side of the wetlands before, but not this close. crappy iphone picture #2

to the left of them were 2 beautiful american white pelicans on a little patch of earth. of course, pelicans are no rare site in huntington beach, but white pelicans? i only recall seeing one other one and that was while i was volunteering in the wildlife care center. crappy iphone picture #3

we continued walking and here's where not having the camera really hurt. we saw a super rare reddish egret. i know that's what he was because a couple of years ago we were walking along and some birders with one of those gigantic telephoto lenses (drool, want!) were kind enough to point him out to us and we got to see him do his goofy fishing dance. if you've never seen a reddish egret dance before, you should youtube it, it's pretty funny. we didn't get to see him do his dance this time, but he was standing near 2 great blue herons so we had a nice size and color comparison. he must stop by every year on his rogue migratory route. here is the wondrous bird in all his crappy iphone camera resolution glory.

and, just to add insult to injury, as we were leaving the wetlands, we saw an osprey (on the left) and a turkey vulture (on the right) sharing a tree branch. what? you've got to be kidding me! it's like the wildlife all said, "karen's coming without her camera, do some epic shit today!"

it was a beautiful day none-the-less. we got some good walking exercise in, saw some really beautiful creatures against gorgeous, bright blue water and a cloudless sky and i got to spend quality time in nature with my hubby. i really can't ask for any more than that.

and really, i have nothing against the iphone camera. i rarely take my big camera anywhere with me anymore because i can usually get a pretty good shot with the iphone. after all, it's not like i sell my photos or anything, i just like taking them for memories and to share with friends and family. today was just one of those times i really wish i had brought the big one.

here are some other shots of birds that were nice enough to be in a range better suited for the iphone camera capabilities. a snowy egret, a great blue heron and a great egret and great blue heron together.

Monday, May 20, 2013

let's get serious for a minute

after being offered a job that i was really excited about starting, it was revoked. it was not the fault of the person who hired me, but of corporate politics and a bad economy. unfortunately, i had already quit a part time job i was working and cancelled and got refunds for all the steps i had begun for the business i was starting. this one is for all the people that think i'm "taking everything so well" and that i have a "wonderful attitude" through it all. you can't see the tears streaming down my face as i post some of these positive things to the internet.

it's also to the people that think they can't take another day of whatever it is they are going through. hold on. i'm not going to say it gets better because i'm not sure i believe that. i mean, it will get better, but let's be honest, it's fleeting, it's gonna get bad again, too. we've just got to try and not get too wrapped up in either side of the curve.

i'm writing this as i'm coming off of about a month long depression. that's essentially losing a month of my life because every waking moment meant misery. yes, i've had a few distractions through it and maintained fairly well at them, but for the most part it meant crying uncontrollably while being physically unable to get myself off the couch. i would talk to myself and tell myself i needed to get up and do something, anything and i would muster up enough energy to stand up. and where would i go? to bed. that was my life for a month. bed to couch to bed and back again. just getting from room to room was a struggle.

if you don't suffer from depression let me try and explain it. it's a dam really. my "normal" days mean my dam is doing its job. i can put everything behind that dam and live a decent life with a husband who adores me and i adore just the same. but then with the snap of a finger something happens. one morning you wake up and realize your dam broke. i'm not talking a hole that you can patch where water is just trickling out (after all, that happens even when the dam is working), i'm talking your dam is completely fucked, gone, like it never existed. so everything you've been putting behind that dam, all the hateful thoughts toward yourself, all the insecurities, all the doubts, all the mistakes you've made and irrationalities you've dammed up all come rushing at you like a tsunami. there's no where to go. you're stuck taking the full force of it and it knocks you right off your fucking feet.

depression is not someone being sad. depression is not something someone can snap out of. depression is not someone trying to get sympathy. depression is all consuming. depression hurts both mentally and physically. it comes with headaches, nausea, loss of appetite and literal aches and pains. your body feels 100 times heavier than normal and moving your appendages takes intense effort. it hurts, too to know how much you are hurting others around you. the last thing i ever want to do is hurt anyone else, especially my husband.

thankfully i have a very supportive husband that understands what i go through and offers his love and support. i haven't been that lucky in all my relationships. i've been called crazy more times than i can count and i'm sure a lot of you have, too. we're not crazy. we're not. our brains just work differently and sometimes it skips a cog and breaks down for a bit until the gears get lined up again.
but, i have to say, i realized something. if there is anything good about depression it's this: when the fog of your head clears, you are re-born in a sense. you get to see and feel and taste and hear things that you haven't in a month or a week or...
i took a walk. a long walk. i am fortunate enough to live at the beach and i walked from my apartment through our natural wetlands wildlife sanctuary to the ocean and back. along my way i noticed the cactus blooming and realized how i could relate to that. here is this thorny, scary looking plant with the most beautiful blossom growing off of it. that's how i feel. my bloom is in there, but i have to endure all these sharp needles to get through to it. sometimes it takes a couple of days and sometimes the growth is so thick it takes a whole month.

so, i don't know if this has helped anybody or made any sense to anybody, but i hope so. it's been hard for me to even post it. depression is one of those things you're not supposed to talk about. how moronic is that? one of the best things you can do for depression is talk about it. if you are the one struggling with depression, please hold on. it will pass and you will get to experience all the wonderful things again if only for a while until your next episode. cherish those moments, but don't get so wrapped up in them that you think it will always be that way. continue to take your meds, be cautious and don't have false hopes that it's magically going to get better and you'll never be in that situation again, but also take the time to enjoy the happiness while you have it. and if you have never struggled with depression, i hope maybe you understand a little more what someone you love may be going through. don't take it personally. it's not about you, it's about them.

now go hug somebody.

Friday, March 8, 2013

keep the faith

today has been... wow. as you know, i've been working on starting up my own dog walking business. i've been working on it for weeks and had everything in place. the last step was getting my marketing materials ordered and into people's hands. thankfully, when i tried ordering my business cards and postcards last night the website failed, cause it turns out i won't be needing them after all...

you may remember i worked for a place at the end of last year called BH North America that sells fitness equipment. i did graphic design for their marketing department and i loved it there. it was one of the best working experiences i have had (next to working at The Press, of course!) well today, i was going about my business and i got a message on facebook from both of the people i worked with at BH saying that they tried my phone number and couldn't reach me so to call them asap. i did and my old boss, Julie, offered me a full-time job! i was floored. i immediately started crying tears of joy and disbelief. i worked with Julie and Sean from the beginning October till the end of December and leaving was such a sad day. Julie (who fought right up until the end to keep me) assured me that if anything ever came up she would call me right away. i knew she was good for her word, but i didn't expect anything with the economy the way it is. well lo and behold, she came through. 

for i know the plans i have for you, declares the Lord. plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - jeremiah 29:11

honestly, i'm still in shock over the whole thing. i had completely given up on full-time work, i just regarded it as a thing of the past and i was going to have to make my own future. so now, here i am with a business in the works and an offer for full-time employment. what to do? take the job, of course! 

i have to admit though, i'm a little sad that i won't be walking dogs anymore, i really did enjoy it. and it's been fun getting a business going, but at least i didn't have many clients yet (thank you, Daphne for being so understanding when i had to cancel your walks!) and now, i feel i'll have a confidence i didn't have before because i know that if things go south, i can make it on my own. i started a business, i have that skill now and if need be, i can do it again.

so, today proves to me, never give up, never lose faith. i make it a point to keep my posts on facebook positive, but it's been a rough year and a half.  i've spent a lot of time down in the dumps. my supportive, loving husband can attest to that. being out of work and not knowing where my next paycheck was coming from was rough and stressful, but i tried everything i could. i've baked cupcakes, i've done freelance graphics, i've walked dogs, no one can accuse me of being lazy or not trying. i'm just so thankful that i can feel like a productive member of our family again. God is good and prayers are answered. have a blessed night everyone.

edit - a few days before i was supposed to start i received a call saying my start date was going to be moved back a week. by the time that week was over i was told i wouldn't be working there after all. it's business, i can't take it personally, the budget just wouldn't allow it. it is disappointing, definitely, but life goes on. that wasn't the place for me after all. my time will come. i've grateful for them trying to hire me back at all.

Friday, March 1, 2013

yikes! yay!

i'm doing it, i'm starting a business! after doing graphics for 20 years, i've decided i need a change. i've been waking dogs for a company for a couple of months now and i absolutely love it! the dog walking part anyway, the company i'm working for, not so much. i've run into a lot of disorganization, misplaced keys, lack of information and the worst part, i'm hardly given any clients. am i really expected to live on $18 a week? so, as one of my favorite quotes says...
"if you don't like something, change it. if you can't change it, change your attitude." ~ maya angelou 
well, turns out i can change it! i can work for myself! i realize it's going to be tough to get clients at first, but i believe if i'm willing to put in the work, the clients will come. i'm going to give myself a year to become successful. if at that point i'm a failure, i can re-evaluate. but, we're going to think positively and say it will be awesome!

ever wondered what goes into starting a local, home based business in california? here are the steps i've been taking:

  1. check the database of fictitious business names (fbn) to see if what you want is available and if it is, file an fbn with the county. i went with OC Pet Services. once you file, you then have to publish it in a local newspaper for 4 consecutive weeks. it is then good for 5 years. - for my newspaper friends, i have my own legal! i went from proofreading them back in the day to actually publishing one... i've come full circle.
  2. get licensing through the city. this is a flat rate for your first year of business. i think after the first year, it is based on your business profits.
  3. get insurance and bonding. insurance is obvious, but bonding is basically a way to protect yourself if say a piece of jewelry comes up missing at a house you've entered. it makes it so that the client has to prove that you were the one that took it, not just that you happened to be in the house and it came up missing so you must have taken it. since my business requires me to be in homes without supervision, i opted for bonding. it looks professional on your stationery and website, too
  4. get a logo, website and hosting for your website. i'm lucky in that i am a (former) graphic designer and my husband is a web designer, so these were not difficult for me to get. i did decide to save my hubby some time, though and purchased a wordpress template that i can just update with my information. (website tk)
  5. purchase software to keep all of your financial records, purchases and profits in order.
  6. get business cards, postcards, flyers and get them in people's hands!
so, wish me luck! i'm off with checks in hand to finalize everything and get started. it's so exciting and downright terrifying at the same time. but, i think i'm just tough enough (or is it stubborn enough?) to do it! thank you in advance for all your prayers, crossed fingers, good mojo and whatever positive vibes you can throw my way :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

bow wow WOW!

i started a new job this week... dog walker! i am working for an actual dog walking/pet sitting company, not just on my own. (yet?) i went and got pet CPR and first aid certified and have been anxious to get started. today i learned, be careful what you wish for, lol.

i started with a 2 hour walk with a sweet, older golden retriever. i got there and let myself in the backyard to discover there was a dog, but no leash. normally, i actually go into the houses, but this one i just went in the side gate, the house was locked. i was in an unfamiliar place and hadn't seen a pet store on my way in. and i figured going to buy a leash would take time out of her walking appointment which i didn't want to do. i called my co-worker who said get down on your knees and reach into the dog door, sometimes there's one there. 2 wet, muddy knees later, still no leash. thankfully my co-worker was down the street and ran an extra leash over to me to use. looks like i need to get some spare leashes.

i went home for a little over an hour and did some freelance graphics work and mapped out the consultations i had set up for the evening. i thought i'd be smart and map them all from each other to the next and take screen shots so as not to use my data plan while i was out.

i got to the first of the three to find out that it wasn't a normal apartment, it was a high-rise apartment with a doorman and a key fob to get up the elevator to the 8th floor. i tried the fob and nothing. tried again, nothing. darn. i went up to the front desk and said my fob wasn't working and i needed to get up to walk some dogs. she looked at me like i clearly didn't belong there and asked, "who are you here to see." shit, i didn't know the owner's name, i was doing a last minute favor for my co-worker. "hold on, i have to call and find out." i told her the name and it turned out i needed the other set of elevators. aha. once inside, i got to meet two of the cutest, tiniest chihuahuas! i spent 15 (potty break) minutes with them and had to get going to meet up with my co-worker for a consultation at the next place.

i got out to my car and pulled up the screen shot map i had saved earlier. i had 14 minutes to get there and it was 17 minutes away. that's ok, i'm a california driver, i can make it! i had to make it because in the email i had received, the boss specifically said "be on time!" i drove like i did when i was in my twenties and got to the street right at 6:00. now to find the apartment number. up the street, down the street, can't find it. i see a guy getting his mail "is this such and such address?" yes "do you know where such and such number is?" it should be that one. "thanks!" nope, not that one. crap. i text my co-worker and tell her i'm out front on blah blah street, but i can't find the number. she says blah blah street? you're supposed to be on yadda yadda street! i text her back, "oh shit! i'm in the wrong place, this is my next appointment." only i didn't text her back, i texted my boss. nice.

so, i jump in the car and head over to the actual place i'm supposed to be, you know the one where i wasn't supposed to be late? i got to the street and couldn't find address numbers anywhere. there were huge apartment complexes and construction going on. i drove around in three circles before i called my co-worker and said, i'm lost, i can't find any numbers anywhere! she kept me on the phone and guided me in. it was now 6:30. my appointment was at 6:00. thankfully, it was a 20-something girl so she was cool about it. i apologized for being late and she apologized for me getting lost. all was good. i met her adorable yorkie and friendly kitty and i was out the door on my way back to the place i had just come from. 

thankfully i mentioned to my co-worker that i could not find the apartment for the place i was headed over to (and had just arrived from) and she said, "oh, you need to call and have them let you in the gate." gah! why hadn't anyone mentioned a gate? 

so, i drove back over (got there on time!) and called the owner to let me in the gate. i met her rambunctious 2 year old vizsla (hadn't heard of that breed, but she's beautiful!) and her 12 year old american bulldog/boxer with hip dysplasia and cancer. i learned how to give him his meds and what to feed him. poor guy. i assured her i would text her lots of pictures while they were away so she knew he was ok and happy.

so, it was a pretty crazy day. i'm sure i'll get the hang of it as it goes and i'm downloading a better map app as i type this. so far though, it's a cool gig. i get to meet animals and the people that love them, i get lots of exercise in beautiful areas, i get to see inside apartments and houses i've driven by and wondered what they must look like inside, i get to take care of animals and assure their parents that i'll take good care of them and they can have fun on their weekends, and i get paid for it! not too shabby. 

however, this weekend i have 15 appointments...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

sugar skull exchange

so, i'm participating in another art exchange. this time, instead of cards, it's sugar skulls! i made mine out of fimo and painted on it a bit, too. i realized when i'm painting on something tiny like that i don't breathe! here's the process...

the eye impressions were made with the end of a paint brush,
the nose was made with a toothpick

tiny petals and flower also made with fimo

used a toothpick and black nail polish to paint the insides of the eyes, nose and mouth

also used a toothpick to dot the paint on

i thought it needed a little something more, so i made a lily leaf to put the face in.

i then glued a pin back on it and she's ready to be mailed off to Louisiana! 
i hope my exchange partner likes her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

why i'm glad i forget my reusable bags sometimes

after putting it off for months, i decided i was ready to tackle weeding my overgrown, neglected garden and backyard.

you like those weeds don't you? this is after having cleared the entire area out twice. once to lay newspaper down and when that didn't work, again to lay down 2 layers of weed cloth. a lot of good it did me! so, after months of watching them all grow back, i started round 3.

i began with a small rake and was careful not to pull up the weed cloth underneath as i went. i picked up what weeds i could and then sprayed the whole area with vinegar, being extra careful not to get any on any of the plants i wanted to keep.

making progress!

and check out the root on this guy. that one felt good to muscle out of the ground!

next, i thought since i can actually get to the garden, i'll harvest what has continued to grow with no help from me. i got quite a haul.

including a beet almost as big as my head!

a couple of days after the vinegar soaked in (and my muscles had a chance to calm down and stop screaming at me every time i moved) i went back to it.

now that all the weeds were dead and picked up...

(this is why i'm glad i sometimes forget my reusable bags!)

...it was time for the fun part! i decided i didn't want everything to go back where it was before because i had learned a little about placement from last time. last time i went more for how it looked than actually being able to reach things in my above-ground garden. this time, i was going to leave plenty of room around it so that i could get back there to do things like weed and spread coffee grounds (fertilizer) and egg shells (slug repellent) without having to contort myself around another potted plant i had in the way. i also wanted to put my pepper plants into cages to get them up off the ground. i didn't realize just how big those suckers would get and they are trailing all over the ground inviting every ground crawling bug to munch away at them.

so, now i have potted plants and extra pots, what shall i do with them? stack them! i put the extra pots in the corners with the plants on top. now i don't have to look at empty pots laying around and it raises my plants up off the ground.

one of the things i'm happiest about is i'm finally getting my mandevilla to grow up the pallet i nabbed out of the dumpster. i realized it was twisting around the tomato plant i had next to it, so i carefully unwound it from there and wound it around some string i attached to the pallet. i'm hoping to get lots of beautiful, red flowers on it this summer. the humming birds will love it!

so, after a few days and a lot of hard work, i have a nice clean garden again. my pepper plants are in cages and thriving, my succulents look healthy and my mandevilla is climbing. oh happy day!

(the surfboard is there to deter our garden loving cat from squeezing under the fence)

as i was working, i had a funny realization. i talk to my garden and the spiders and other insects that live there. out loud. i told my tomato plant not to take it personally that i was ripping him out of his planter. i told him, it's me, it's not you, i didn't take care of you properly. i think i broke up with my tomato plant! later i put my head through a spider web and apologized to the spider for destroying his home. maybe i'm a little too close to nature, lol.

things i'd like you to take away from this post:
1. vinegar is a great weed killer and it won't hurt the environment, pets or wildlife
2. coffee grounds make a great fertilizer. i think with my peppers, it may have been too good!
3. egg shells sprinkled around the base of your plants will keep slugs away
4. don't be afraid to get dirty and try things. you'll never learn which plants work well in your garden if you're not willing to make a few mistakes along the way.

happy gardening!