Monday, November 18, 2013

Suddenly an Autumn Age

After some wind and rain across our region yesterday, I opened the door this morning to our gorgeous  Japanese maple, glowing in flaming red. Everything glistened and glowed in the early morning light, still damp from the rains. It had somehow turned a brilliant red over night. Suddenly, hadn't it? Because how could I have missed it otherwise?

How did I not notice until now?

A few days ago, I noticed for the first time a new wrinkle cutting across my upper cheek. It follows a completely new and original path across earlier smile wrinkles, not part of my rays of crowsfeet, but a graceful curve flaunting its independent creasing. It's another smile wrinkle, but... how did it get there and where is it going?  It seemed to have appeared overnight. And suddenly it's middle age.

How did I not notice until now?

I've been "enjoying" such signs for some time now: the slanting light, the colorful trees, and the creaky pops of my knees and neck. It's not too bitter or frosty yet, so an extra layer or stretch keeps things running smoothly, so no worries. It's not that I have not seen the signs, but these new signs? Ah, so the portents are true. It really is the Autumn Age.

Maybe it's just that noticing this one new thing (or maybe it's an old thing that presented itself, waving it's hands for attention) highlights the state of being. Ah, so this is where I am now. Cool. Amazing, weird, a little scary, but cool. Brilliant, in fact. Beautiful, even. But really new. Cheerfully blazing new-trail new.

The tree and me, waving our hands at our present state. Hey! It's present me!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

While I've Been Gone: Late Autumn Cool Things

Hi! *waves*
I supposed you've all been wondering where I've been. The answer: head first in my graduate program. Wow, does that ever take up huge chunks of time and mental space. So writing and photography (and reading for pleasure) have fallen to the wayside somewhat.

A few cool things I have been enjoying between projects:

Reading for classes. Yes, there is a lot of interesting material I'm required to read. It's just that there is so much of it! Some of the most interesting books have been Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by cognitive neuroscientist and childhood development expert Maryanne Wolf, also The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea, a beautifully and poetically told tale of a harrowing subject, and more mundanely, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson. I'll spare you the more technical texts. Like Best Practices in Early Elementary Literacy - whoo!

My iPad. For a Powertools for Educators class, I was required to acquire a personal mobile device. After some muttering, I chose an iPad. I  was not entirely happy about having to take on an additional digital device at the time, but now I love it! It's like a reader and app device all in one. It's so easy to check weather or look up something quickly. There's imperceptible bootup time. It has loads of fun and interesting apps. I will not lie - I have at least a few different Angry B!rds apps. Also a ton of educational apps, language learning apps, and my fav calorie/exercise tracker ever: MyFitnessPal. Also things like Crunchy Roll, an outlet for all episodes anime, including...

Polar Bear Cafe! This animated series uses some anime conventions such as emotive markers in the visuals and audio, but is more laid back and less weird than some anime I've seen. It's not for kids, really, but the characters and situations are sometimes so funny and ridiculous that I keep coming back for more episodes. It features a wise but pun-enamored polar bear who runs the cafe, a lazy panda enamored with all things panda, and a blunt and feisty penguin (except when he's smitten with a lady penguin who works in a bakery), along with myriad other human and animal characters. I'm especially fond of the grizzly who runs a biker bar and gets into arguments with penguin. Actually, I think I love penguin best of all.

Running. I've been attempting to run again. Well, I can't say that is something I actually enjoy.  I don't run for pleasure, and I certainly don't run for bragging rights. I'm pitiful as a runner, yet my need to actually use my expensive running shoes keeps me going back out, and the shoes seem to keep me well-aligned so that I don't have many pains to complain about (other than the exertion itself). I'm all about the intervals, alternating running and walking up and down my neighbor hills. And I come home looking like a tomato. But I enjoy having run, and thus keeping my fitness levels up. And then I can put into the MyFitnessPal app for additional reinforcement.

I can call MyFitnessPal as its own category. Rather than attempting to track intake and outgo on paper or spreadsheet, this cool app allows you to see what your daily and weekly budget looks like in progress. I like the weekly and daily views and the graphics. I like that you can find and enter half a sn1ckers candy bar if you have to, or enter a recipe of my own choosing. Positive reinforcement for the win!

Autumn light. A half moon with a visible face. Willow oak leaves spiraling through the afternoon sunlight. Holding onto my kitty cat for another day.