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Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Need a Break

There's a lot going on in my life, like an unfathomable amount of obligations, events, meetings, work, and much more.  Right now I am just too exhausted to sort through my countless photos and collect my thoughts.  So, I'm taking a break for about a week.  Just a week, but its much needed.

When I come back I am anticipating some big news and a lot of changes!  You'll just have to wait a week or so to hear about it.  In the mean time I will still post/update this month's Photo Assignment and announce the winners and a new Photo Assignment on February 1st.  I will also be posting everyday on my 365 project

Enjoy your week!

- Jen

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Something Different I Noticed

Since we've moved there's be a lot of things that our old house had that this one doesn't.  The cabin had land, privacy, seclusion, and trees in our front yard, but I found one thing that this new house has that the old cabin didn't, litter.

This is a Wal-Mart bag that found itself all the way into my backyard the other day.  Its something that never would have materialized anywhere near our cabin unless we ourselves threw it outside.  Since we've lived here we've had soda cans thrown in our driveway and empty soup cans tossed on our front lawn.  Seriously, empty soup cans.  Who does that sort of thing?  My car is constantly filled with wrappers and stuff, but tossing it out the window never crosses my mind.  Its a huge reminder that we now live in a completely different place.  

I am by no means a green, tree hugging, hippie, but cleaning other people's garbage off my lawn really bothers me.  Actually, it makes me not like living anywhere near civilization.   The next time you feel the urge to toss something out of your window or let soda cans roll around in your truck bed until they blow out driving down the road think about where it lands.  No one wants someone else's trash in their yard.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thanks New Hampshire!

I am sure you are familiar with highway tolls and the lane demarcations directing you where to go based on your method of payment.  EZ-Pass to the left, coins and cash to the right.  Have you ever wondered what would happen if you end up trapped in the wrong lane for an EZ-Pass when you in fact have no EZ-Pass and therefore cannot pay the toll?  Well, I just found out. 

Here's what happened: 

About a month ago we went to the airport to pick up my little sister.  On the ride back home I was doing a great job of playing backseat (rather passenger seat) driver.  While fiddling with my phone I glanced up when we were approaching the tolls.  Rather than taking in the entire scenario and let Shawn drive I frantically told him to switch lanes, declaring that we were in an EZ-Pass lane and needed to move over to the left.  Shawn tried to get a word in saying he was in the right lane, but I was positive we needed to switch lanes so he did.  Three seconds later we were firmly between two cement barriers in an EZ-Pass lane with cars lining up behind us and no escape.


I laughed.  Shawn did not.  "What the heck do I do now?!"  He said as he stopped the car in the middle of the toll.  Cars behind us started honking.  "I told you I was in the right lane in the first place.  Now how the heck do I pay the stupid $1 toll?"  

I still laughed, which did not help the situation.  So Shawn ignored my laughter and began to slowly creep forward through the toll.  As soon as we crossed some imaginary line buzzers and bells began to go off wildly.  It reminded me of that scene in Coyote Ugly. Realizing then that we were drawing an ungodly amount of attention to ourselves I demanded that Shawn hammer down the gas pedal and drive off as fast as possible so we could avoid having a photo of my car taken.  I was full of logic that evening.  Who was I kidding, we were going slow enough that they could have taken a high resolution version before Shawn hit the gas and we retreated back to the safety of Vermont where there are NO TOLLS.  

Nope.  Not one.  And that is why Vermonters screw up simple things like driving on turnpikes and through tunnels. 

So a month went by and my fear of getting a ticket in the mail dwindled and was forgotten.  I really had no idea what would happen if you drive through without paying.  Maybe they give you a freebie for your first offense?  Then a letter from the State of New Hampshire DOT arrived in the mail.  Since I don't have any vehicles registered in the Granite State I immediately knew what it was about, the tollbooth.  They had sent me a ticket after all....

However, when I opened up the letter I was surprised.

Yup, two bucks.  The state of New Hampshire is actually quite nice!  And I honestly don't mind paying a 100% processing fee this time.  Almost fifty percent of that has to be postage.  I'm pretty sure they're still losing money on the deal.  

So now you know what happens when you don't pay a toll, at least the first time!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dodging Trains

I'm sitting in class taking an exam.  There's an hour and a half allotted for the exam and I finish it in thirty minutes with an awesome score of a 92%.  (These days we take our exams on a laptop right in class and they are graded instantly)  So, left with an hour of time where I can either sit quietly in my chair not causing any distractions until everyone is finished(yeah... not so much)  or I can leave the class for an hour and venture out with my camera. 

Obviously I chose my camera.

I decided to head downtown to the railroad tracks, because there's always something photogenic with trains and I had a hunch for an idea for the next word in my 365 project.  That project is really making me head out to unusual places more often, even if it means parking my car in a sketchy part of town wandering around the rail yard amongst parked train cars and, apparently, traveling trains. 

While taking a couple photos I heard a whistle in the distance.  The tell tail horn of a train approaching an intersection.  I was standing on one set of railroad tracks amidst almost half a dozen more and had to wonder which set of tracks the oncoming train was on.  With it still out of view, around a corner, whistle blowing, I couldn't tell where it was headed so I knew I needed to get away from where I was.  Suddenly I was in a real life game of frogger in a rail yard instead of a highway. 

The snow was knee deep, thigh deep in some places, with a thick half inch layer of sleet crust on top.  It made moving anywhere a slow process.  Knowing that the 80mph traveling Amtrak train also shares those very tracks with slow moving freight trains I wondered, as I heard the train whistle grow nearer, but not yet into sight, if I had enough time to even get out of the way.  The swift Amtrak train might not afford  me enough time to break through the deep, crusted snow and get to safety.  Fear began to creep up my spine.  For the first time since I can remember I was legitimately concerned about my safety while out with my camera. 

It sounds silly, but the last thing I thought I'd encounter in my short time in the rail yard was a train.  It's not like its the Chicago rail yard here.  Trains seldom are on the move, only once or twice a day.  My timing was impeccable.

With the train yet approaching I made a decision to bee-line it for the nearest set of trees about 50 yards away.  The trees divided the rail yard and separated several sets of tracks.  I could stand amongst the trees and watch the train pass me by. 

I leaped and bounded through the snow.  Breaking through the hardened, rough crust hurt my thighs and shins, but I ignored the discomfort and concentrated on reaching the tree line.  As I got closer I could hear a  low rumbling, but still not see a train.  I wondered, where could this train be coming from? 

Then, as I reached the trees and could feel a vibration in the air, the train appeared.  It was on the other set of tracks on the other side of the trees I was hurrying towards.  Turns out I had been rushing towards the train rather than away from it.  So, I quietly stood amongst the branches and waved at the engineers as they passed by me.  Both of them waved in returned, but looked half startled to see a random woman along the side of the tracks in the middle of nowhere.  I'd be a little weirded out, too. 

When the train had passed I smiled and returned to my car, happy to have not really been in any danger in the first place, but the fresh sense of fear did ground me.  One just shouldn't mess around in a rail yard, especially in knee deep snow.  

...but, for the record, I did get a good photo for my 365 project. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where Have All the Emergencies Gone?

If you have followed my blog for a while, or read my bio, or looked at the photos in the sidebar, then you know I am a firefighter and EMT.  In the past my blog has been filled with stories, photos, and recounts of various experiences, but not lately.  Not since we've moved.  I've been displaced, distracted, and down right busy. 

In truth, I haven't been on an ambulance or fire truck in well over a month.  It makes me sad, in a way.  I feel a lack of spontineity and chaos in my life that I so desparately crave.  So much of myself has been defined by my work in emergency services that in the move taking us a hundred miles from my fire station and ambulance squad I feel like I've lost a part of myself.  

Its not a permanent adjustment, though.  I can honestly only fit so much in my daily schedule and still succeed at my final semester in nursing school.  What I don't want to do is join a new squad and not have the time I need to dedicate to it.  So for now, I am moonlighting very rarely at my old squads way up north. and my next shift isn't until the end of February.  Maybe then I'll have more emergency stories to tell or maybe I'll figure out how to include where I currently work (at god awful vampire-ish hours) in my blog.  There are some interesting stories there, for sure...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

On a Mission

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the afternoon driving around looking for something very particular, a weather vane.  You know, one of those metal things depicted with a random farm animal, arrows, and cardinal directions indicating wind direction  perched atop a barn?  

Yeah, that's how I spent my afternoon.  Perfectly normal, right?  ...ok, maybe not.   The darned things are actually hard to find, especially in places where you can get close enough to photograph.  By the time I found on that sort of fit what I was looking for I had wasted plenty of gas, time, and was irritable.  It all had a purpose, my 365 photo project. See, there really was a logical reason for the bizarre search. 

Since I began the project two weeks ago I realized just how much a commitment it really is.  I've got enough commitments going on right now with school, work, and something else that popped up recently and is overcrowding my schedule even before I even add in this photographic obligation.  Some days I really enjoy it, when I envision what will perfectly fit the randomly generated word for that day and quickly photograph it, and others I loath it.  Those days it feels more like a pounding obligation or an overdue assignment.  

Yesterday was one of those days, but despite such days I shall keep plugging along. 

If I don't the project will only be part of a whole and not something special, not something finished.  Plus, I kind of laugh after the fact thinking about the silly stories with each photos, such as the drive across two states that took two hours just to find a photogenic weather vane.  That, my friends, is the eccentricity that makes the whole thing worthwhile. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sweet Winter Serenity

Like many of you there is snow in my front yard.

...and backyard, and side yard.

A lot of it.  

I had nothing to do all day

Except watch my neighbors's snow removing efforts

And the flakes slowly fall outside my windows.

Apparently 49 of the 50 states have some form of snow, all but Florida (yes even part of Hawaii has snow on it right now).  That's my kind of winter.  And being that I have to work or attend school five days a week I am every so thankful that this snow storm happened on a day I can wistfully watch it rather then be in the thick of it, like the last one.  My thoughts go out to those of you who didn't get such a blissful snow day like I did! I lift my mug of hot chocolate to you.   

Since this storm affected much of the country how was your winter weather experience?  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Risks A Photographer Takes

When I am out taking photos I always seem to find myself pushing the envelope and ending up in precarious places to get great photos.  If I think a good photo is at stake I will go almost anywhere to get it, including places that may not be entire safe (or at all safe).  I've been stuck inside electrified fenced-in fields with bulls, across a river with no dry way to get back, and, most recently, caught on thin ice. 

That peninsula of ice jutting out right there is where I decided I just had to go to get a photo of a covered bridge just behind me.  I had scoped out the area and there was no where else acceptable that offered the kind of view I wanted.  Nothing else would do besides that platform of ice hanging over a rushing river of nearly freezing water. 

I gingerly tapped my foot on the platform first and then, when I didn't feel any resistance or cracking, stomped several hard stomps with my boot.  Clomp Clomp.  Thud Thud.  Safe and sound, it seemed.   A few more steps and I was dead center in the river, exactly where I wanted to be.  The covered bridge was in perfect view so I snapped several photos, pleased with my risk taking. 

As I turned to head back to the safety of dry land I heard a tell tale sound.  Craaaaaccckkk!  and then Thud! Gush!  as my two legs plunged down towards the river below. 

Almost Jesus-like I seemed to not touch the water and somehow stepped back onto the ice without falling in.  I laughed as I realized I had adverted disaster, or at the very least, a wet and uncomfortable car ride back home since the river is only about two feet deep. 

I found the safety of dry, snow covered land and walked back to my car.  When I reached the warmth of my car I cranked up the heater and took a moment to view the fruits of my risky traverse across the ice and see if what I captured was worth it.  I was pleased with the results.

If you don't take risks you'll never end up with something worth sharing and a story worth telling
That's not the kind of life I want to live. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great TV Debate

Now, don't judge me by this story.  Keep in mind that every single marriage has had stupid, illogical arguments for one reason or another where it doesn't matter if you're really right or wrong even if you may be wrong.  This is one of those...

Something as simple as a television shouldn't cause a marital argument, but boy howdy can it. What should have been a nice Christmas gift turned into a stand off between husband and wife. Don't you love it when stupid things like that happen?

My mother-in-law called a week or so before Christmas and talked to my husband. She was asking about the layout of our house and the kitchen and whether or not you can see the television from the kitchen. "Not really, well, sort of depending on where you are I guess" he replied. I zoned out of the conversation and forgot about it until we received our Christmas gift when we drove up for a visit. A television.

When I saw it I smiled and graciously thanked my mother-in-law, but inside I began thinking "What the heck are we going to do with another television?"  We already had two perfectly good televisions and no room or need for a third.  While my mother-in-law clammored on and on about the gift and how she had talked to Shawn about it I stewed inside and smiled outside.  A storm was brewing and on the ride home the tornado touched down...

"Where do you think we should put that television?" I asked Shawn.  I knew that whatever his answer was I wasn't going to agree.  

"Well, my mom got it so we could put it in the kitchen."

"There's not anywhere in the kitchen to put it and no way to hook it up if its in there.  Plus, why would you want a television in the kitchen?  You can see the one in the living room from certain places already."

"We could put it in the bedroom then."  

"No.  I like the television we have in the bedroom and it works fine.  What would we do with that TV if we put the new one in there?  We have no use for three televisions in a house as small as ours with just two people."

"Well we need to put it somewhere.  My mother bought it for us."

"I refuse to use it just because your mother bought it for us.  We don't need it.  I wish you would have told her that."

"I told my mom we could put it in the kitchen."

"No.  We aren't having a television in the kitchen.  You can clearly see the one in the living room if you're by the fridge or the table.  There is no need or room for one in there.  What you should have told her is that we don't need one before they spent all that money"    (harsh, huh?)


Both of us stewed silently the reset of the ride home and when we arrived at our little house the television came inside and sat in its box on the floor right next to the door.  Shawn thought I was inconsiderate for not wanting to use his mother's gift.  I thought he was being impractical for feeling obligated to do so.  Seeing the box sitting there on the floor was a constant reminder of our disagreement every time we left or came home. 

A week went by.  We thought nothing of the television and it blended into the surroundings of the house almost as much as our kitchen table.  It stopped being a reminder and became something almost akin to furniture.  And then his mother sent him a text.  "So where did you decide to hook up the television?"  He replied "We haven't yet."   I tweaked exclaiming that she would surely think I was the one holding up the installation of her Christmas present.  Of course I actually was, but that wasn't the point and I didn't want her to think that.  She was suppose to believe my blissful facade of pleasure and joy when she gifted the television to us and never think anymore of it.   

Then, two days later, his mother called saying she was 'unexpectedly' near our home shopping and wanted to come by and see the house.  Suddenly the television in the box sitting next to our door was a big and blaring beacon of our argument right there for all to see and there was no way we could avoid her stopping over.  Certainly, while giving her a tour of the house, she would wonder where her television was so I began to brainstorm.

Finally, we both came to an agreement about what to do with the television.  It could go in our partially finished basement where we have put all our exercise equipment.  There, what a simple idea we both thought, we can exercise and watch television at the same time.  I hoped his mother would find that placement acceptable even though it wasn't in the kitchen like she had intended.  

When she arrived his mother complimented the house and, after making the short tour, she immediately asked where the television was.  "In the basement." Shawn said nonchalantly.  My mother-in-law just said "oh, ok." and that was it.  The television wasn't brought up anymore.

It would have been a whole lot easier if she just bought us a gift certificate and each a fleece like last year.  Everyone can use a fleece and you never can have too many... unlike televisions.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Are You Sure I'm Not in Med School?

My books for my final semester (that begins Monday!) arrived in the mail yesterday, more than three hundred dollars worth of finely printed paper bound tightly by cardboard and card-stock.  I chose to only purchase the bare essential required textbooks despite a list containing over a dozen textbooks. 

That's them, all my brand new books towered on an end table.  The bare minimum of required books for one semester.  I can't comprehend learning everything in all of these books, let alone the other 'recommended' books I chose to forgo.  I've come to believe that the textbook market is a complete racket.  A library of medical texts fill one of my bookshelves.  I'd consider renting books except I'm a prolific highlighter and occasionally a closet nerd and return to my texts with various queries.

I haven't seen what medical students have to purchase for a semester first hand, but I am willing to bet that nursing textbook requirements are at least equal to, if not greater.  If you've ever stayed in a hospital for a length of time or had multiple visits then you know that its nurses who provide much of the care and call most of the shots.  It is the nurse that watches over the patient and notices minute changes, reporting them to the doctors, and then suggesting treatments to which they agree. No wonder we must know so much...  

My real problem is going to be getting all the books to class.  The 1800 page Medical-Surgical book won't fit in my backpack with any other book.  Apparently, I will have to find another method to carry my books to school.  Wheelie suitcases anyone?  I may seriously begin considering that as my only option.  Wouldn't that be cool?  Not...  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Bloggies!

Have you heard of the Bloggies before?  Well, they are the equivalent of the Oscars for blog writers.  Last year the Pioneer woman was nominated for several categories, including best blog and I wasn't even on the radar.  This year I really hope to change that and that's where all of you come in.

You, my readers, commenters, and friends are the ones who have to nominate me for a Bloggie.  Just like the Oscars there are several different categories you can nominate a blog for such as Best Blog, Best Photography Blog, Most Humorous Blog, and Best Kept Secret Blog, just to name a few.

I have no fancy dreams of being 'Best Blog' amongst the greatest of great bloggers such as The Pioneer Woman or The Bloggess with thousands of fans, but I would be honored to be nominated for another award, especially the Photography award.  I know its probably weird asking for nominations, but think of it as campaigning. :-)

To nominate me to any category simply visit the Bloggies website and click on the categories you like to nominate me for on the left side of the screen.  Or you can directly nominate me for Best Photography Blog. 

Three different blog nominations are required to submit a nomination.  If you are at a loss of who else to nominate you can consider these other bloggers:

Best Overall Blog: The Pioneer Woman
Best  Kept Secret Blog : Life of a Firefighter's Wife
Best Canadian Blog: Hydrant Girl and her Firefighter
Most Humorous Blog: Hyperbole and a Half

Don't foget to check your email and verify that you're human after voting! 
It may go to your junkmail

If I were to win a category I will personally thank every single one of you!  That may take the entire rest of the year, so maybe I'll have to come up with a better idea, which may be in the form of a special giveaway.

Recognize this farm?  Its pretty famous in Vermont and, actually, New England. You'll hear more about this farm later on, because I have something very fun in the works that this farm will be a part of.  Just hang in there, you'll see!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Not a Millionaire Yet

In case you were wondering I am not a millionaire, yet.  Although, like tens of millions of other people across the country, I tried to change that last night with a ten dollar investment. $355,000,000 is hard to refuse.

But don't worry, like the rest of you I didn't become an instant millionaire.  One person in Idaho and one person in Washington state split the jackpot.  I, on the other hand, didn't even win my money back.  Heck, I only matched one number out of all five chances we bought.  Thanks for holding in there for me number 4, but it was all for naught, or rather, all in fun.  It just would have been an awful shame if I missed my chance to be catapulted out of debt and into financial security for the rest of  my life.  Seriously, I can't even wrap my mind around that much money. 

There's always that question; what would you do with that much money?!  To be honest I don't have any grand plans other than to pay off our debts, donate to the fire department here in town, the fire department in Island Pond, my rescue squad back north, and give a little chunk of money to the town of Island Pond itself.  Then we'd sell our home and move back out into the middle of nowhere.  I'd find a place in town to open a photo gallery and spend the rest of my time taking photos and volunteering as an EMT.  Man, that sounds like bliss. 

Did any of you play?  If you would have won 355 million dollars what would you do with it? 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January Thaw

I am not even sure winter actually came. You can't call one snow storm that has now receded to a mere three inches of compacted slush winter so I am not even sure you could call this a January Thaw, because I don't even remember it freezing.

A random haywagon on a hill in Pomfret, Vermont.
This winter is giving me horrible flashbacks to last winter, where in mid-January it rained and then we succumbed to four months of mud before greenness finally broke through the brown silt. Snow never seemed to grace our doorsteps thereafter.  Hopefully that is not what is on the horizon for us this winter. While I do not believe in global warming (I have several meteorological friends who both support and refute the topic leading me to be skeptical of their disagreence) I am worried that this winter is washed up, or rather warmed up, before it even begins. 

Surely there must be somewhere in this country covered in a fresh blanket of snow where people are quietly sipping hot chocolate in their warm houses contemplating the frost growing on their window panes.  Not here... but I hope somewhere the seasons are as they should be!

While it looks bleak, I refuse to give up hope, even while looking at the glaring green grass sprouting in spots in my backyard.  There's snowmobiling and sledding to be had! I'm holding out for another nor'easter, which might not take that long, because there is one in the forecast for this weekend!  Boy, am I excited! Yeah, I've forgotten about all the unpleasantness of hindered travels, horrible driving, and back-wrenching shoveling already... 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Not so Trendsetting Snooki and Some Television Vomit

Some how the Jersey Shore seems to wrap its way into almost everything.  
I swear its a plague.

Pillaging through an old bin of photos one jumped out at me, a Victorian woman's portrait neatly wrapped in cellophane labeled $2.  On the back was a date, c. 1880.  The photo look like the hundreds of others piled in the bin except for one distinguishing factor, the hairstyle.

Looking at the bumped-up hair made me laugh, because one person in particular came to mind seeing a hairstyle such as this.  Did you notice a clue in the name of the photo company "Snook" on the bottom of the print?.

I can't make that coincidence up...

Can you guess who I am thinking of?

I would have sworn that this hairstyle originated on the shores of Jersey some horrendous summer not long ago, but apparently its been trending for over a century.  Who would have thought?  I don't imagine Snooki did.

And speaking of Snooki...
In case you missed probably the biggest pile television vomit on New Years Eve check out the cast of Jersey Shore, an idiot drunk MTV host, and Snooki being lowered twenty feet in a Plexiglas ball carrying a red cup at midnight then check out this video.

You're welcome for that.  And they wonder why Times Square refused to allow such nonsense...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Heralding the New Year!

I hope your New Years is as Bright and Shiny as mine!

Stark, New Hampshire

What kind of person drives forty minutes one way out of the way to take some photographs on a bitterly cold night?  I should have to answer that question...   But its things like that that are always worth it!  Even if the photos aren't amazing (like I would've loved a bit of moonlight in this photo) its the experience, the adventure, and the journey spent seeking out moments like this that are just as great.  I resolve to have this next year be full of such journeys.  Full of back roads, crinkled map pages, and filled memory cards.  

What about you?  What do you resolve to do (or not do) on the beginning of this new year?

And Don't forget, there's more newness today!

My 365 Project

The New Monthly Photo Assignment