Renewed Resolution

When I’m out in public I tend to be an extreme introvert. I rarely look at the people around me or look the cashier in the eye at the grocery store. It’s partly a function of the society we live in. People just don’t talk to others anymore. It’s the same in many neighborhoods. Neighbors don’t talk to each other or even know who lives right next door.

But the “everybody’s doing it” mindset shouldn’t become an excuse. I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to talk to strangers, ask how the cashier’s day is going before they get a chance to ask it during their scripted monologue, and wave to my neighbors when I see them outside. It gets noticed. Most people actually do want to talk and be talked to. They just fall prey to societal norms like everyone else. 

We’ve gotten so used to only interacting online that we’ve forgotten how to do it in real life. Or we’re just too scared. We’re afraid that others will react negatively to our minor outpouring of humanity. I like to wave at drivers in my neighborhood but I’m always afraid they won’t wave back or they’ll think I’m weird or something.  So I often just look at the ground and avoid the whole scenario. What a waste of an opportunity to be kind to someone.

These days it takes real effort and determination to engage other humans. How sad. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Avoidance just a self-perpetuating habit. We can break it by simply going against the grain and opening ourselves up to others. I’m not big on new year resolutions but I’m ready to use this new year to double my efforts to reach out to others and improve relationships. You can do the same. 

You Just Can’t Win

Today I was checking out at the grocery store and the clerk said the credit card scanner was going to ask me if I wanted to round up to the nearest dollar to help fight children’s hunger. But the card reader never asked.  It just said thank you, please remove your card.

Then the clerk saw that my receipt wasn’t rounded up and she gave me a scowl as if to say “what a jerk! You probably want children to die!” You can’t win these days.

Nothing to Say

Lately, I’ve been working on a few photography projects that have been taking up most of my extra time. This has been great but it does keep me from concentrating on this blog. Once I’m done with work and photography related things, I usually am too tired to put anything down here.

I’ll get back to it at some point but for a few more days at least, I’ll probably only be posting short form or pictures. It could be worse.

First Sprouts of Spring

Every year I try to grow at least a little bit of my food. Sometimes it’s just one or two things in pots and sometimes it’s a full blown garden. Last year I built a raised bed garden and went a little wild growing winter squash. This year, I’ve steered clear of squash and am focusing on some early cool weather vegetables like snap peas, radishes and brocolli.

The other day I saw the first sprouts of the year popping up through the soil. I’m sure a couple of months from now I’ll be grumbling about having to water and weed every day. But until then, I’ll be enjoying seeing the new life coming up and anticipating it growing into something I can use. Oh, and I’ll also be futilely trying to keep my dog from walking through the bed.

Tactile Warning Devices

This is a tactile warning device, also-known-as truncated domes. Truncated domes are a much better description since they actually are domes with their tops cut flat. They are meant to be a warning to anyone stepping on them or rolling over them that they are about to enter a street or parking lot.

However, the word tactile means a sense of touch. Unless you are down on your hands and knees, running your hands across the truncated domes, you’re actually feeling them (through your feet or bottom), not touching them. So the phrase “tactile warning device” is not entirely accurate. I just thought you ought to know.

42

Last week I celebrated my 42nd birthday. If you’re familiar with the work of Douglas Adams, you’ll recognize that my age is actually the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. The answer may not be entirely accurate but it does help inspire an upbeat attitude about being this particular age.

I’m way past the age where I expect to get birthday presents from anyone except myself. But, like anyone else, I still enjoy it when others recognize the fact that God has allowed the earth to shuttle me around the sun one more time by giving me something, no matter how trivial.

My family did not disappoint me in this. My youngest son who is 11 at the time of this post, drew me an amazing picture of a bird landing on a branch. I think he is getting better all the time but this picture shows that he is already pretty good!

My oldest son (15) got in on the action as well. He gave me a coupon good for a birthday gift to be made any time I want it. The funny thing is, he couldn’t bring himself to make one then on my birthday! He’s getting good at punting things. Next, I expect him to work on his delegation skills and outsource making my gift to fiverr when I call in the IOU.

My wife is always consistent when it comes to my birthday. She knows I’m fine not receiving gifts but she always manages to find something anyway to make me feel special. This year she presented me with two books that I keep borrowing over and over from the library. If I borrow something two or three times, that’s a pretty good indication that I could benefit from owning it.

The first book is The Painted Art Journal: 24 projects for creating your visual narrative by Jeanne Oliver. It’s a great book on mixed media and creating personal stories through art journaling.

The other book is Geninnes’s art: birds in watercolor, collage, and ink: a field guide to art techniques and observing in the wild by Geninne Zlatkis. Geninne is an amazing artist and I love her bird paintings. This book is great because it breaks down the process Geninne uses to develop her work. It’s very inspiring especially since I already like drawing and painting birds. Hopefully, this book can help me take my art to a higher level.

So all-in-all it was a pretty successful birthday haul. But presents aside, I had a great time spending the beginning of my next year of life with the people I love.