My 10 Best Posts of 2014

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The end of the year approaches, and with it, time to wrap up the old and welcome the new.  Here are my 10 favorite posts from 2014.  (Okay, if you actually count them, there are 13.  It’s my lucky number.  So sue me.)

Sedona, AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Sedona, AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Never Enough– Why we’re all great the way we are.

Top 10 Reasons to Go Camping– I think this one is kind of self-explanatory.

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Moved to Arizona– Also self-explanatory.

V is for Villains– All about what makes a villain great.

Words Matter-  Why it’s important to be mindful of what you say.

Old Things and Abandoned Places– They whisper to you… can you hear them?

I’m Having A Good Time, And Have The Pictures To Prove It!- Why taking pictures of everything we do might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

I Bet 99% Of You Won’t Repost This– My thoughts on Facebook’s version of the guilt trip/ chain letter.

10 Lessons on Friendship From Dogs– What my dogs have taught me.

Trust Issues- Many people seem to have trust issues, so how do you get past it?

It’s A Loud World– My thoughts after getting my first set of hearing aids.

Wait.  Why Am I Supposed to Care About That Again?– My thoughts on what really matters in life and friendships.

Master Yoda, Is the Dark Side Stronger?– Bullying, Star Wars, and the secret weapon of the light side.

Thanks for stopping by.  Here’s to an excellent 2015!

I’m Having a Great Time- And Have the Pictures To Prove It!

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Being the Harry Potter fan I am, I’m fond of Daniel Radcliffe.  Yes, I realize he’s not really a wizard, but it’s hard to separate them.

You never hear that much about him, mostly because he seems pretty grounded and avoided the child star curse.  He’s just a guy who does stuff.  I read a recent interview with him, and the following quote really stood out for me:

“It’s an interesting thing: The internet isn’t about having a good time — it’s about showing people you’re having a good time. When you go out to bars and clubs, nobody’s actually dancing or enjoying themselves; they’re all taking photos of themselves at the bar so that later on they can say, ‘I was there, wasn’t it great?’ It’s crazy.”- Daniel Radcliffe

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before.  Every time I go on Facebook, as a matter of fact, I wonder for maybe a second or so, “Why is everyone having more fun than me?”  And I think I finally realized, maybe they’re not.  Maybe I just don’t take pictures of all the fun stuff I do.  I don’t update Facebook with: “I just blew through 50 pages of Man’s Search for Meaning, woo hoo!” complete with photos and the ubiquitous selfie.

I read an article that said that people are having more trouble forming memories because of the rampant picture taking we do.  By looking at things through a lens, instead of better remembering them, we remove ourselves from them.  In my house, we’re in the habit of no cell phones at meal times.  I’ve been trying to see something awesome, like when I’m hiking, and resist the urge to whip out my camera phone.  The picture never looks quite the same anyway, so if I sit there and drink it up instead of photographing it, maybe I’ll enjoy it more.

I love pictures as much (or more than) the next guy, but I’m trying to be where I am.  I try to just do what I’m doing without giving into the urge to document every step I take.  It can be hard.  I love taking pictures, and I have a nifty camera with me at all times!

I don’t think that picture taking is a positive or a negative.  I just think that we should strive to do all things in moderation, and picture taking is definitely one of them.  I love digital cameras because I can snap as much as I want to, but there comes a point when it actually intrudes on the experience, instead of adding to it.

So where do you weigh in on the whole picture taking thing?




Leaving A Mark

Before I left for my vacation, a friend and I were discussing picture taking.  He commented, “Oh, don’t worry about it.  I’m sure there are a million photos out there of whatever you want a picture of.”  Maybe that’s true.  But they wouldn’t be my photos.  One of the things I like about pictures, much like writing, is that they allow a glimpse inside another person’s perception.  Maybe there are a million glacier photos, but in that moment, I saw it differently than other people did.  No one can see it exactly the way I do.  Maybe others have better pictures, but it’s a view through someone else’s eyes, which is exactly what I don’t want for my vacation photos.

Humans always have the urge to mark things that they’ve touched.  Bathroom graffiti, hieroglyphics, art, tattoos, architecture.  These are all ways of saying, “hey, I was here!” Even Mother Nature leaves a mark.  Water wears away at rock until the marks can’t be erased.

Cruising to Tracy Arm Glacier.

Cruising to Tracy Arm Glacier.


Although perhaps my photos aren’t important to others, being able to snap that picture in that moment is important to me.  No one wants to look at all 3000 pictures I took on my vacation, but there will be times I’ll enjoy looking back at them as a way of remembering.

I’m awful about picture taking.  I see something interesting and snap.  Then snap again.  And snap some more.  The great thing about digital photos is that I don’t have to take just one or two pictures and hope they turned out okay.  I can see immediately if they did or didn’t, but I can also just keep snapping.

The fact that I just owned up to taking 3000 pictures on vacation may lead you to believe that I was glued to my camera, but I swear, I wasn’t.  I like to hold my camera up to snap, but look at what I’m looking at through my own eyes.  That’s why many of my pictures might not be centered correctly or might be crooked.  I don’t always look at what I’m snapping.   Yes, I want it “on film,” but I also want to see it firsthand.  After all, I want to live it.



IMG_1236I recently rediscovered my love of printed pictures. Back in the days of film cameras, I used to take pictures in to be developed all the time. After I got my first digital camera in 2001, I just stored my pictures on my computer, which was nice, but not the same as putting albums together.

A few weeks ago, I was in Walmart and had an inspiration… Places still developed (printed out) pictures. I did some research, and found that Snapfish had a good reputation and was pretty inexpensive. I lucked out; when I started loading pictures onto Snapfish, there was a sale going on: 99 pictures for 99 cents. With shipping, I paid $7.50, which I still thought was a good price.

The pictures arrived in my mailbox in just a few days, and they looked pretty good to me. They’re not the crappy pictures I’ve tried printing at home. My only caution is that when you checkout, they ask if you want your pictures resized to 4×6, or if you want the original digital sizing. I chose it both ways, and I recommend keeping the digital sizing, as some of my 4×6’s came back with heads cropped off.

Overall, it was a great experience. I haven’t tried any other photo services, but I’m happy with Snapfish and they always seem to have something on sale, so I’m going to stick with them. Give them a try if you’re tired of only having digital photo albums.


Goodbye 2012! A Year in Pictures…

2012 wasn’t a bad year, but it certainly wasn’t the best year I’ve even had.  Even numbered years seem to be less successful for me, and odd numbered years seem to be a little better.  I’m excited for 2013.


In 2012, I finally got my yard done and started a garden…


I went to the Renaissance Fair, and saw a really great rainbow.


I went to a counseling conference in San Francisco, walked around, and got some great pictures.


I did quite a bit of hiking. I love the desert!


We drove to Payson to watch the solar eclipse. It was a lot of fun.


More hiking. I impressed myself with this picture.


I grew some really big cucumbers.


I learned to shoot.


We had some phenomenal lightning storms.


I went home to PA and visited family.


We got rained out of camping, and went to Jerome for the weekend instead.


… and I got a couple of great kaleidoscopes.


We painted our bathroom and hallway.


We painted our loft…


And I started a major project, repainting and updating some cabinets.


All in all, it’s been a good year. I’m looking forward to an even better 2013. Happy New Year, everyone… Stay safe!

Incredible Photos

Yes, I took this photo, and it has not been edited in any way. Super cool, right?

It’s no secret that I love pictures and use them for inspiration.  I recently found National Geographic photos sent in by readers, and they’re incredible.  I thought I was a pretty good amateur photographer, but after seeing these… yeah, I’m not.  But that doesn’t mean I like taking pictures any less!

Check them out for yourself, for the eye candy, for the inspiration, or just because.  They’re awesome!

I found this really interesting article on how to take better portraits.  It gives some really good advice, some of which I knew and some I didn’t.

Here’s an article to check out on landscape photography.  Both of these articles give good basic information without getting too in depth or being overwhelming.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

Hello, and welcome to today’s weekly photo challenge.  I wanted to do something really cool for this one, but I just didn’t come up with anything I liked.  So, I’m posting an old picture.  My friend and I went to Vegas in August 2010 and were fooling around with perspective style photos in the Bellagio.  They have a really awesome indoor garden with large bugs, garden trowels, etc.  Here’s one of our foolin’ around pics.

Friday Writing Prompt- A Few Of My Favorite Things

Growing up, the Sound of Music was one of my all time favorite movies.  I thought Julie Andrews was the coolest and prettiest woman ever.  I can still sing most of the songs and often do burst into random song.

Today’s writing prompt is about your favorite things.  I focus on a lot of dark, dismal, and absurd on today’s blog, so I thought we could use some puppies and rainbows.  Make a list of your (or your character’s) favorite things.  You can expand on what these things mean to you (or your character), or just leave it as a list.  It’s meant to be a random list of things that make you (or your character) happy.  It can vary from little things like that first cup of coffee in the morning to big things like family.  Try to be specific, and find at least ten.

These are a few of my favorite things:

1.  Rainbows- No, seriously.  I love rainbows.  We seem to get a lot of them here in Phoenix, my guess is because it’s always sunny, even right after it rains.

2.  Riding in my convertible with the top down and music blaring- Preferably something like Nirvana or Garbage.  Yeah, yeah, I know Kurt Cobain killed himself, but how can anyone be sad when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is blasting?

3.  Fireworks-  They’re pretty, they’re bright, and they’re up against a night sky.  I love huge fireworks displays, and in the summer, I’m lucky enough to see one most weekends.  My main office is near the baseball stadium, and after a game, which happens to coincide with when I’m getting done work, they shoot off fireworks.

4.  Old books- I don’t just mean really old books, like 100 years, I mean worn out books that have been well-loved.  I was in Fossil the other day, looking at purses, and I saw a display of old looking books with the covers ripped off.  I asked about them, and the salesclerk said they ripped the covers off to give the store character.  *shudder*  I like books that have come by their old-ness honestly.

5.  My family- This includes my husband, my parents, my close friends, and my dogs and cats.  It’s great to be surrounded by love.

My mom was not happy when I painted a smiley face on her toe, and then took a picture!

6.  Pictures- Old ones, new ones, snapshots, posed photos, black and white, faded, color… I love them all!

7.  Flowers-  The brighter, the better.  I love the English garden look where everything id jumbled together in a riotous tangle.

8.  Philosophy- There’s nothing I love more than having philosophical discussions on all sorts of taboo topics, with someone who doesn’t get upset or angry when our opinions disagree.

9. Being creative- Writing, painting, taking photos, whatever the creative medium, I love it.  (I just wish I could draw… even my stick figures mock me.)

10.  Painted toenails- I’m not much for painting my fingernails as they chip pretty quickly, but I love painting my toenails all sorts of crazy colors.  It’s like a happy secret hidden in my shoes!

Coming Home

I’m almost always excited to come home after a few days away, even when coming home is tempered with a little saddness that my vacation is over and I have to get back to cooking my own meals, letting the dogs out… I mean in… no, out… back in… get out!, doing laundry, and all that other fun stuff that comes with real life.

Even though today isn’t Monday, it felt like it with my slow moving sluggishness.  I suppose that could have something to do with not really being invested in sleeping while I was on vacation.  After all, there’s so much to see and do, who wants to sleep?

I’m home now and I’ve finally gotten off  my duff and started doing all that stuff, including posting this to my blog.  I’m going to upload my pictures later today and will be posting most of them to my Facebook page.  However, those pictures will be trickling on to my blog here in various forms.

Ciao for now!

San Francisco in Pictures

Yesterday, my conference ended at 2, and we went exploring. A friend took us to Berkeley. Between C.R.E.A.M., the bookstores, and the secondhand shops, I was a happy visitor.

San Francisco is an interesting mix of old and new, building up and breaking down. There’s graffiti and broken windows. Homeless and half torn down buildings.

There’s also energy and street vendors. Artists and musicians. Thrift stores, ice cream shops, and record stores.

We walked the half mile uphill from Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street late last night. It was possibly one of the most painful (my poor calves!) but wonderful experiences I’ve had. I’ve driven down Lombard Street, but it’s not the same as walking it, stopping to look at the street, and being able to look down on the city and waterline from high above.

Last year, I set a goal of adding more pictures to my posts. I think photos make posts more fun and interesting, as well as seeming more complete. I haven’t done as well with it as I’d like, mostly because I don’t have enough “random photos,” pictures of everyday objects. Well, here in San Francisco, I’ve begun to remedy that. They have some of the most interesting objects to photograph. Keep an eye out!