Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Another Awesome Event Hosted on the Porch That Hugh Swore I Would Never Use

Seriously! Back when we were designing the plan for the remodel of our house, and I was begging and pleading for the addition of a porch, Hugh adamantly refused; he said we would never use it and that it would be a waste of money that could be spent in other areas of the house. I disagreed, pointing out the many, many ways that we could use such a space. I think we all know that I won that battle, and, I think we all know that the porch has since become a central meeting space for people visiting our home.

I think that the key to a healthy marriage includes not saying "I told you so", but; I totally told him so.

Anyhoodle, Sunday evening, we hosted dinner for friends visiting from Germany. Patrik was an exchange student back in 1981, and Oscar and Emily hosted him for a year. Since then, he has stayed in contact with the family (helped along most recently by Facebook). His last visit to the States was back in 1995, when Hugh's sister got married, so it was high time for him to come back. His wife, Anya, joined him, and, it was delightful to visit with her; we discovered a shared love of wine and, oddly enough, Little House on the Prairie (we've both read all of the books in the Ingalls series and part of their trip included a stop at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Iowa, which, according to her, made Anya's life complete).

Anya was blown away by the porch, exclaiming that it was "Like something out of Hollywood", which, makes sense when you consider the lack of outdoor living space available in Germany. We chatted about the unique culture of the American porch while enjoying a charcuterie board and bottles of Pinot Grigio (me) and Pinot Noir (Anya) and Hugh grilled up a feast, including elk steaks (a fond memory for Patrik), salmon steaks (Anya is a vegetarian who also eats fish), and chicken (hello, have we met?). We also served fresh, locally grown sweet corn, my famous mock Caprese salad, and, for dessert, locally grown peaches, grilled and topped with ice cream and whipped cream.

After dinner, we took our drinks to Hugh's Man Gazebo, where we spent the remainder of the evening enjoying the fire pit and gazing at the stars.

This is the part where Hugh says "I told you so", since I mockingly argued that he would never use his Man Gazebo, back when he was slaving over its construction. Sarcasm is another key element of a good marriage. You know, in my experience.

Patrik and Anya are here for the rest of the week, and we are hoping to spend a bit more time with them, possibly on the porch. Possibly in the Man Gazebo. Who knows, at least we are covered either way.

I told you so.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Every day this month, I have walked underneath a banner, hanging over the hardware store door; I assumed it was another sale banner.

 It was not.

That's right, we are midway through the month in which our family business has been declared BUSINESS OF, and I had not a clue. My powers of observation are to be envied, are they not?

Hugh, it must be noted, failed to inform me of our elevated status, leaving me to discover the fact on social media. That's...actually not that unusual. To defend himself, he pointed out that large banner that I have, in fact, not only wandered underneath, but, expressed annoyance of the streamers dangling from the ties and brushing my head. Every day. For half a month.

Yes, well...

Moving on.

To celebrate this prestigious honor, we have contracted with Chris and Jana to bring The Ice Box to the store at the end of the month; we are going to serve snow cones and lemonade to the community as our show of appreciation. It should be a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, and, of The Ice Box, yesterday, Petticoat Junction hosted its first annual harvest festival. The event was held downtown, and, since I actually knew about it in advance, I was able to assist Hugh and the rest of our staff in manning a booth in front of the store. We offered free popcorn, sold sodas, and had a putting game wherein customers could putt for a discount of up to 25% on purchases made that day.

Chris and Jana were there with The Ice Box, which gave me ample opportunity to gush about how well the wedding photos were coming along (the kids got back from their honeymoon yesterday and will get the photos this week, so, I'll be posting more soon), as well as a chance for Boomer to eat plenty of shaved ice, which is one of his favorite things; in fact, I believe he now recognizes The Ice Box and knows that Chris will hook him up because he started drooling before we were even halfway across the street on our way to greet them.

Come on, lady! Booms needs a hit

Speaking of drooling (another smooth segue between topics! Who knew I had it in me?), Hugh and I purchased our lunch from the paella vendor, and, can I just say, Oh, My, God! It was amazing! Who would have thought that they could get authentic paella (organic, at that!) in Podunk Petticoat Junction? We're moving on up, folks!

While the festival lasted all day, I needed to head home shortly after lunch, so, Hugh and I took a quick tour of the other vendors, stopping at one of the local farmer's stands for peaches, which we will be grilling for dessert later tonight, when we host Oscar and Emily and some old friends, who are visiting from Germany (more on that tomorrow). We checked out the beer garden, visited with some of the other locals, and then Boomer and I went back to the house, where I spent the better part of the day cleaning the porch and house, in preparation of that dinner that we are hosting.

Chris and Jana stopped by briefly after the festival ended (last event of the day was a street dance); they were exhausted, but, had made out like bandits, clearing almost $1,000, which, for an initial $25 investment in fees, was a pretty good return. Maybe they should be the business of the month; at least Jana would be aware.

And that's it for yesterday! For now, I need to get busy editing wedding photos, preparing my house for company tonight, marinating steaks and chicken for dinner, and, finishing up my book work at THE BUSINESS of the MONTH.

I only have two more weeks, people; gonna milk that for all its worth.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Doing What I Love and Loving What I Do

It's been almost a week since the wedding and I am slowly culling down and editing the 3000+ images that I shot. I am pleased with what I captured, especially the nighttime shots from the reception dance, as I was using a new flash and flash photography is definitely outside my comfort zone.

I'll share more of the wedding pictures once the kids have had a chance to see them (I'm posting sneak peeks to their social media accounts while they are on their honeymoon), but, in the meantime, I'll walk through the day, as I recall it.

Shortly before two on Saturday, Queen B and I loaded the Tahoe with my equipment, including three cameras, two flashes, five lenses, six spare batteries, a light reflector, and several assorted battery chargers. Our first stop of the day was Starbucks, where we fueled up on caffeinated beverages and went over the timeline for photos. When we initially talked about the timeline, Johnna and Darren didn't plan on doing a First Look, but, after assessing the light during the previous night's rehearsal dinner, had decided that a First Look would increase the chances of getting good portrait shots, so; I quickly drafted a new timeline and wanted to make sure Queen B was familiar with the changes so that she would know which shots she was responsible for capturing.

Oh, wait...have I not mentioned that Queen B was my Second Shooter? No? That's ok; I hadn't mentioned it to her until earlier that day, either. To say she was surprised would be a slight understatement. To say she knocked the job out of the ballpark would be a VAST understatement, and, I am now convinced that she must join me on every wedding, from here on out.

I should probably mention that to her at some point. Ha!

Once we were appropriately caffeinated and Queen B had been adequately debriefed, we headed to the venue, where we started a ten-hour long marathon of posing, shooting, re-posing, shooting, catching candid shots, and, herding family members away from the bar and into line for family portraits (biggest challenge of the entire day, hands down).

When the happy couple finally made their getaway-through a tunnel of sparklers and well-wishes- my feet were killing me, my arm was tired from toting a camera around all day, and I was hungry and virtually mummified from dehydration. And it was totally worth it for shots like this...

...and this...

...and this...

It will take another couple of days to finish the editing and to package the images, along with some sample prints, but, a one-week turn-around time for wedding portraits is practically unheard of, so, I'm also patting myself on the back for that. I'm doing a lot of self back-patting, truth be told. I feel really good about where I am at with this little side hustle of mine, and, with each event I photograph, my confidence grows and grows.

In a perfect world, I would ditch Day Job and spend all of my time and energy on photography, but, since we don't live in a perfect world (even crappy insurance is expensive, y'all!), I'll just continue to take my opportunities as they arise and thank God for having the chance to say that I am doing what I love and loving what I do.

Just like the country song says.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

We Are Framily!


(plural framilies)

  • (slang) A group of friends who are close like a family
Blend of friend and family

This is the definition that I found online, and, while it may accurately define the word, it fails miserably to capture the emotion involved in doing life with people who are as close to you as blood kin, minus the DNA.

Who could have known, when I first met Jana, almost 21 years ago, that we would forge a bond that would not only endure, but flourish into a lifelong connection between two families? That we would spend years together, sharing adventures, supporting one another through challenges, raising five kids who come as close to being siblings as could be? 

Not me.

But, this I do know: in this life, there are people who we are meant to find. Maybe we knew them in some other life, on some other plane of existence, whether in heaven or on Earth, maybe we are only meant to know them here; the details are unimportant. What truly matters is that we find our tribe; that we connect to the souls who are meant to complete us. For my family, that is Jana and Company.

It's been a pleasure and a privlege to watch our babies grow up together, and, I cannot wait to watch them all as they continue to grow, to change, and to evolve into the people whom they have always been meant to be. 

Our framily grew by one this weekend, and, God willing, it will continue to grow as the years pass by (My money is on Kaley Bug and her young man being the next to the altar). I can't think of anyone I would rather watch that happen with than my Jana Bobanna.

We are framily, indeed.

Monday, August 12, 2019

It Happened! It Finally Happened!

What happened, you ask? A day at the freakin' pool happened! Finally! After an entire summer of wishin' and hopin' and plannin' and failing! It happened!

It could not have come at a better time, either; my week was long, busy, physically and emotionally taxing, and, quite frankly, exhausting, so, to be able to relax in and around the water was a Godsend. The fact that I got to do it with my whole family was especially sweet.

So, how did it all go down? Hugh, Queen B, the Man-Cub and I, exhausted from two days of wedding festivities (more about the wedding itself in an upcoming post!), found ourselves with nothing scheduled on Sunday. We were all tired, sore (well, that was mostly me; twelve hours on my feet, toting heavy camera equipment takes a toll), and in need of a reprieve from the heat and humidity of Petticoat Junction. So, we loaded up the car and headed for the mountains, to a small town known for its natural hot springs.

We stopped for brunch on the way, finally arriving at the pool a bit before noon. The weather was perfect, with the sky alternating between bright sunshine and cool cloud cover, with just a sprinkling of refreshing rain.

The hot springs features several pools, each with a different temperature, so we were free to switch between super hot and bracingly cool, dependent on our whims. We spent the better part of the day soaking, relaxing, and enjoying being alone together for the first time all summer, which, since the Cub was scheduled to fly back to Hawaii this morning, was really important to us.

When we were done swimming, we headed to the historic downtown area and wandered around in the shops before driving through Hooterville, where we met Oscar and Emily for dinner at the local Chinese restaurant.

Today, I am also a lot less sore than I would be if we hadn't soaked in the hot mineral springs, and, since I had to put my baby on a jet plane at 5:00 this morning, being as pain-free and relaxed as I could possibly be was necessary (and, yes, I miss him already). And, since a day by the pool featured on every Bucket List I made for the past three months, I was ridiculously happy to put a big fat check mark next to it today.

I wouldn't turn down another opportunity to spend another day by a pool if one should materialize before the official end of summer, though.

Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Save the Meat!

Not really a sentence one expects to hear at a rehearsal dinner, but, more important words were never uttered given the circumstances. And, what were the circumstances, you ask? Well, picture this: $700 worth of catered food meets a freak micro burst of wind and a poorly erected tent.


It looked like this; Jana and I picked up the food for the rehearsal dinner at around 4:30. The dinner was scheduled to start at  5:00, so we booked it back to the venue to set up the buffet line, decorate the tables, and prepare to serve 70 people.

The tables were under a large tent, complete with side walls lining three-quarters of the space, so; one would assume that we were safe from inclement weather.

Did you just hear that laughter? That's Colorado, giving us the middle finger.

Anyhoodle, we had just gotten the buffet table set up, compete with chafing dishes full to the brim with beans, rice, Mexican chicken, queso, and warm tortillas, when a burst of wind picked up the side of the tent, hitting the buffet table and tipping it over.

People, I have never seen Jana move so quickly in my life, except, I saw it all unfold in slow motion. One second, we were laughing and smiling at our gorgeous accomplishment, and the next, she was slow-motion leaping onto the table while screaming "Noooooo.....not the meeeeeeat.....!"

And this is where I get stars in my eyes as I tell you that Jana is my ultimate hero; not only did she manage to save all but one chafing dish of beans and rice, but, she somehow managed to avoid burning herself on the Sterno cans and she did it without getting a single spot of food on her clothing.

Stars. Eyes.

Luckily, we had plenty of backup beans and rice, so we were able to quickly reset the buffet table while Hugh led the charge in staking down the tent (why it was not staked down appropriately in the first place would be a question for the rental company), and, the rest of the dinner went off without a hitch, followed by the rehearsal, which was also flawless.

After the rehearsal, Jana, Chris, Kaley and her young man, Queen B, Hugh, and I rendezvoused in Petticoat Junction, where we collapsed on the porch and indulged in some well-deserved adult beverages. Jana had a mini mental breakdown, but, in my experience, that's to be expected at some point in the whole wedding process, and, the porch is a great place for therapeutic services, so, the day ended on an emotionally stable note.

Which, brings us to today; wedding day!

The wedding is being held at the same venue as the rehearsal dinner and the weather is expected to be similar to last night's weather, which gives us some idea of how the actual wedding and wedding dinner will go, so; I'm ridiculously happy that I'm not involved in that endeavor, I assure you. On the bright side, if an unexpected gust of wind should threaten the wedding cake, I know a certain Mother of the Groom who has the cat-like reflexes to save the day.

And I loves her.