Photo of the Day: Flower shop

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Photo of the Day: There’s something back there…

This morning the sky around the volcano was striated – bright gray-white on top and dark gray-black on bottom. It started slowly but there appeared a deep red glow in the darkness, like the glowing embers in an almost dead fire. To me it looked like fire mixed with the black smoke from a fire-breathing dragon (I just finished watching the first season of Once Upon a Time), the volcano being the humps of its back and shoulders.

The color got brighter and more intense with the clouds rimmed in red and looking like they were being singed when as quickly as it appeared it was gone. From a blast of crimson to a white-gray monochrome in a matter of minutes.

I’m really glad I got to see it.

 

P.S. If you’re going to get tired of seeing photographs of Mount Vesuvius you’d better tell me right now so I can get over the loss of readers sooner rather than later.

My green thumbs

Oh, hello. You’re still here? Well thanks for that, I know I’ve been really bad about writing anything recently nor have I kept up with posting photos. I have no excuse other than I’m lazy. And lame. And perhaps in some kind of creative slump. Nothing exciting has been happening lately other than my trans-Atlantic trips. You haven’t missed much.

An update on my tomato plants: they’re growing. They have tiny green tomatoes on them. You didn’t know I had tomato plants? Well I do! I grew them from seeds back in early August and they seem to be doing okay. *knock on wood* Greg is convinced they’ll keeping growing for a long while since Naples doesn’t get the super cold of winter like other places. In fact, it rarely gets down to freezing so they could go for a couple more months. I guess. Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The rest of my plants are doing well although the Vinca finally kicked the bucket. I’m pretty sure they came with some kind of disease because they didn’t last very long and certainly didn’t look healthy. The lilliputian Zinnias that I also grew from seeds are going strong and sprouting new branches all the time. Probably the most healthy looking of all the plants would be the Begonias and some succulent type flowering things that I don’t know the name of. Apparently they love it here and require little to no care at all. The same goes for the Begonias. I’m tempted to buy more of them just because.

Yesterday while walking around I came across a plant vendor with a single yellow Mum in a pot. Initially I didn’t think I wanted it but since we’re unlikely to really feel any evidence of Fall temperature-wise for another couple weeks I decided it would at least make it feel like Fall in other ways. My hope is to find another one, or maybe a couple more, to bring some longer-into-cool-weather-color to the balcony since I have no idea how long the rest of the blooming plants will last. It’s all a bit of a guessing game.

Most people with balcony or rooftop or even window gardens seem to gravitate towards the green succulent plants that offer interesting shapes but not much in the way of color variety. I’m not opposed to those types of plants but they’re not as cheerful or sunny as flowers so I tend not to go for them as much. I’m sure part of the problem is finding someone that sells flowering plants, I haven’t come across many, and most people don’t feel like taking the time to grow things from seeds.

At the last planting with Casey Trees this past Spring I was teamed up with two girls that had moved to DC from other places. This is fairly common in the city and usually doesn’t get much notice from me other than the basic “where are you from originally?” type questions. Since I knew I was moving to Italy I figured this was a good time to ask how they handled uprooting their lives. Their answers were pretty standard – meet new people, volunteer, go to museums, find a job, etc. etc. But one of the girls said something interesting after I explained how much I was going to miss planting trees, she said that everywhere she’d ever lived she found room to plant her own garden. At her previous apartment she’d done it on the fire escape. Before that she’d rented a plot of land in a co-op. It didn’t have to be very big, just a few pots and containers, but it meant that she had someplace welcoming and familiar to go to in a city that she didn’t know as well. I guess I really liked that idea because I get excited when I think about my little garden and look forward to adding new things to it. My goal is to get a little table and chairs so I can actually sit out there and enjoy it. If anyone ever asks me about how to handle moving so far from everything familiar I would definitely tell them to start their own home garden, they certainly wouldn’t regret it.

Creating confidence

There are things about Italians that I don’t understand and probably never will (not using AC even though you have it installed in your house, trying to protect their children from getting a cold by dressing them in 20 layers of clothing when it’s 70 degrees outside, straddling the lane markers on the highway, double parking at a 45 degree angle and then walking away from the vehicle, eating dinner at 9 o’clock at night) but the one thing I really want to become an expert on is their self-confidence. They don’t seem to have any real doubts about who they are and that confidence shows through in what they wear and how the carry themselves.

I know I’ve talked about this before but in the past few months I’ve decided that I want to be more Italian, not in the ways I don’t understand but in the way I want to: I want to be more self-confident and I want it to show through my wardrobe. I’ve always secretly loved clothes (though I love shoes more) but never felt confident enough to wear things that other people wore. Part of the problem is that I don’t know how to take a compliment. It has always bothered me when people say I look pretty, or they like my outfit, or whatever. It’s not that I didn’t want the compliments I just never know how to respond without seeming like I was expecting the compliment.

When it comes to my current wardrobe I err on the side of comfort over style and tend to look more cute than pretty. I’ve been mistaken for an 18 year old which isn’t necessarily a bad thing except when you’re meeting your husband’s coworkers and they wonder (perhaps jokingly, perhaps not) if you’re his daughter. In high school there were a couple girls who, unfortunately for them, looked like they were in their late 20s when they were probably only 16 or 17. When I was 18 a girl that was younger than me asked me if I was over 12. She was serious. I was seriously close to punching her in the face but managed to restrain myself.

Because I usually choose comfort over style I tend to stay away from clothing that is constricting or not cotton based. This severely limits my options and it’s been a hard habit to break. Why would I want to wear scratchy fabric when I could wear nice soft cotton?

That being said if there was ever a place where taking fashion risks would go relatively unnoticed Italy is it. Although Paris would probably be the ideal location but I don’t live there.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about this to help me get over it. I can’t be the only girl that has this issue, right?

Camera lust

This post isn’t about anything except the fact that Canon just announced a new full-frame 6D camera for roughly $2100. Reading through the features it sounds pretty cool:

It packs a 20.2MP full-frame sensor, and an 11-point autofocus system with a single cross-type sensor. The native ISO range is 100 to 25,600 (expandable to 50 to 102,400), and Canon claims it’ll focus in lower light situations than any of its previous shooters. It has a Digic 5+ processor, the same as its more expensive brethren, shoots at a maximum of 4.5fps in burst mode, and boasts environmental sealing against dust and splashes. For video folks, it shoots 1080p video at up to 30fps, and 720p at up to 60fps. There’s an SDXC slot for memory, and it uses the existing LP-E6 battery type (which works with 5D Mark II and III, 60D and 7D), and on top of everything else it’s Canon’s first DSLR that incorporates GPS and Wi-Fi radios into the body, rather than requiring the purchase of costly add-on equipment. – Darrell Etherington, Tech Crunch

There are some down sides. It doesn’t have the same focusing ability of the 7D, the burst shooting is only 4.5fps, and the viewfinder doesn’t actually show you the full-frame of what you’ll be photographing. Still for the price tag it seems like it would be a pretty good deal.

That being said if I had the money I’d still go for the 5D Mark iii simply because it has more to offer. Am I a photographer that needs such a high performing camera? No, but like any consumer I’m willing to purchase outside my skill level with the (probably delusional) hope that it’ll help me improve. Of course it doesn’t really matter what camera you’re using if you’re not good at capturing interesting subjects but it sure as hell makes it a lot more fun to have the best you can afford.

Photo of the Day: Serenity Now

The little beach at Calvert Cliffs State Park was so quiet and serene, I could have spent all day there. The sun was warm, there was a light breeze, and the water temperature was perfect. If there is a heaven I hope it’s just like this little beach.

 

Always on the go

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, hence the lack of posts here, and it’s starting to take its toll. At the moment I’m still in Maryland; I extended my stay for a week so I could go through the rest of my clothes and mail my winter stuff to Naples. When I left I’d packed mostly summer gear with very little cool weather stuff so with the temperature dropping it was necessary to go through the rest of it. Of course it’s not like I have the best clothes anyway and most of this stuff I’d prefer to just get rid of but that’s another story.

Before Greg and I got married I would fly to Italy and stay for 3-4 months at a time. With only two long-haul flights a year I had no problem getting on a plane and dealing with the 8-9 hours of discomfort. In the past four months I’ve done four long-haul flights and I’ve been having a hard time with it. Yes, I know, the decision to fly back and forth was my own but that doesn’t make it any easier. Coming back to MD this last time the flight was nine hours and required us to fly around the remains of a hurricane. My seat was at the very back of the plane and to say it was bumpy would be an understatement. I’ve never been a fan of turbulence but it’s getting more difficult for me to stay relaxed through it. I hate that I have this anxiety, it feels like such a failing on my part. I know there are other people that don’t like turbulence but they seem to deal with it better than I do.

My logical brain knows what turbulence is, the problem comes from the lack of the control over the situation. I don’t want to be flying the plane but, I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. The other issue is the fact that we’re over water. Rational or not I feel like if something were to happen over land we could reach an airport relatively quickly. That’s not the case over the water. Taking a couple Advil PM helps a little because it makes me tired but sometimes I wonder if an anti-anxiety pill would be a better option. Either way I need to work on how I handle my anxiety.

I know some of you let me know on Twitter how you deal with flying anxiety but if you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear about them.

Photo of the Day: Calvert Cliffs State Park

I took the dogs on a four mile round-trip hike in Calvert Cliffs State Park. I didn’t realize it was so far from the parking lot to the beach. The dogs were dragging on the way out and Jack puked after drinking salt water but they had ample energy on the way back. They were comatose in the car on the drive home, I kept waking them up to make sure they were still alive.