Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Everything but the kitchen sink

My writing is going well so I thought I'd take a few minutes out to catch up on things.

First off, I've now written 12,647 words of my novel and am still going strong. Yeah! I've settled into a rhythm of writing and the story is beginning to take shape. I'm really enjoying the freedom to let my characters evolve as they will and a plot is emerging. I have to admit that I was really doubtful that this way of writing would suit me. I'm generally a planner. I like to make lists and even though I don't always accomplish what's on my lists I find they help me prioritize and focus. When I started this novel without a plot outline or character bios I feared this thing had danger and potential disaster written all over it. I'd liken it to trying the trapeze without a net when you've never been on a trapeze before. Definitely a situation to be avoided. But the farther along I go, the more confidence I get. I feel like I'm spinning a pretty good tale. So far. It's still early and I may be eating my words next week (week 2 is usually the hardest to get through) but for now, I'm happy :-) I've added a participation widget to the left column on my blog so you can follow my progress if you care to.

Canon EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (Photography)
OK, so what's all this gibberish? This is the new image stabilized zoom lens I got for my birthday last week. It has a new home on my Digital Rebel and we're getting to know each other little by little. This is a great lens but its taking some getting used to. For one thing, it's big. And heavy. But I'm getting used to that. I may have to start doing some upper body weight training to get really comfortable with it but hey, I need the exercise anyway, right? I'm just kidding. While the lens is much bigger and heavier than my previous lens it really isn't all that hard to get used to. I just became accustomed to carrying around my little (and I mean little!) ELPH and relative to that the Rebel with a zoom takes a bit more effort to handle. But boy is it worth it. It takes great pictures (better than me ;-) !

Orchard Lake Campus (Photography)
I made a trip out to the Orchard Lake campus (our Polish University) Sunday. It was great weather for taking pictures and that campus is very picturesque. It was also the day of the presentation on amber. It was a great opportunity to try out the new zoom lens, indoors and out. I started outdoors with photos of some of the buildings, the grotto, views of the lake and the quadrangle. Then I moved indoors to the Galeria. I got there early, about an hour before the presentation was to begin. Pretty much had the place to myself. The amber collection was absolutely exquisite. I took lots of pictures of the amber :-) Virtually all of the amber was behind glass and I don't yet have a polarizing filter for my zoom lens so if you check out the photos you'll see some glass glare. I also have some depth of field issues to address, but that's the sort of thing you have to get used to with a new lens. I had a chance to speak with the presenter, Patty Rice, PhD. She's very nice and very knowledgeable on the subject of amber. I've heard her speak before and she gives a very interesting presentation. She has a new book out and was doing book signings. Along with selling a companion CD to her book, she was also selling amber bracelets. I also saw peeks of the Polish art that is usually on display at the Galeria and made a mental note to get back out there soon to photograph that artwork.

This is my favorite piece from the exhibit; a doll embellished with amber.

The Peasants (Reading)
I'm really enjoying this book. I'm learning so much about the lifestyle of my ancestors in rural Poland in the 1800s. I find it both entertaining and enlightening. Reymont is a wonderful writer. It's no wonder he won a Nobel Prize for Literature. The book is sectioned by seasons. So far I've read Autumn and am roughly half way through Winter. Interesting characters, compelling story line, colorful descriptions, all make for a great read.

Over the years as I've researched my family history forwards, backwards, and every which way, I was fortunate enough to find family members living in Poland, Sweden, Ireland, France and Germany (and other parts of the U.S. too). These family members have been my richest sources of information on the history of my grandparents' families and what happened to those that stayed behind in Poland and didn't immigrate to the U.S. What I found most fascinating was that some of them had saved letters and photos sent to them nearly a hundred years ago by my grandparents and even passed them on to their children who also saved them. I've been sent some of these pieces now and then and was always touched by the generosity of those who would share them with me... and moved by the faces of my grandparents in their prime and my parents as small children. In yesterday's mail I received a virtual treasure chest of such items from a first cousin once removed living in Germany. I was moved to tears when I opened the large envelope and pulled out many pieces of my grandparents lives that I had never seen before. My heart is full of joy.