Sunday, May 29, 2011

California keeps me busy.

Alright! I have a lot to say! I will try to keep this post from raging out of control and becoming excessively long.

Also, in the interest of keeping on track with all of the things I have to do this week, these photos have been batch edited which means they don't look as good as they could. Regular posting quality to resume next week!

Andrew had a table full of gifts for me, including 
these very beautiful and fragrant lilies :3

I truly had every intention of blogging last Sunday in order to keep with my once a week schedule, but it simply did not happen. Since my arrival to California and Andrew I have been super busy. He's been on vacation, so we're using up all of our time to run errands, go places and do as much stuff together as possible before he's back to work on Tuesday :[

He is an excellent grills-man. Lots of burgers over here!

Cinnamon muffins, yum. Also, dirt cups a.k.a. 
mud puppies, as Andrew had decided to call them.

I've been compiling pictures all week to put into this post. I'll do what I can to remember all the good stuff, but so many good things have happened that I'm bound to forget something! Currently I am being face attacked by a weird form of allergy. I was really hoping that I wouldn't have allergies down here, but alas, that is not the case. I have been sneezing a lot for the past few days and my nose has been hurting as though I was punched in the face. Yesterday I went to bed with my entire face hurting from sinus pressure, bleagh, and this morning the back of my throat hurts and feels swollen. I know it sounds like I have some sort of head cold, but I'm 95% sure it's allergies. We'll see I guess.

The pool table, very classy in blue felt. I expect
that I'll be taking many more photos of it.

Andrew is highly encouraging of me taking photos constantly, yay!, so I've been bringing my camera everywhere again. I haven't done that in a while because my back and shoulders were starting to hurt from carrying so many items at once. In an exciting turn of events, Andrew is willing to carry my bag when we go places, meaning I am free to bring my camera and my back won't hurt! Happy days!

One of my gifts was this spectacular
orange moose, and I quite like him.

In immediate camera related news, Andrew has a nice Canon dSLR. He's interested in video, but has encouraged me to use his camera as much as I want. I have a Nikon and I have for the past four years. I have sentimental feelings for it and I don't like the idea of abandoning it for a Canon. With that said, his camera is undeniably nicer than mine. It's a newer camera in general, and Canons have bigger sensors and his does video, which would just be nice to have from time to time.

In front of Disneyland and the construction 
area of California Adventures.

Last year (after returning to Washington from visiting him for my spring break, actually) I dropped my camera bag and it broke my camera, which was terrible, and also damaged my 80-200mm lens. I had the camera repaired, but never got around to fixing the lens. I have a mid-range zoom that came with the camera when my mom bought it, a 17-55mm that has served me well. I usually use my 50mm or my 24mm anyway. I've been using the 17-55mm a lot though because I've been in a variety of new situations where I won't know where I'll be in relation to my subject. Anyway, sometime while in Ireland my 17-55mm started to act up. Sometimes it wouldn't zoom out all the way, and sometimes it wouldn't telescope back in. It also started to experience issues with focusing, in that it simply wouldn't. Removing and reattaching the lens to the body of the camera fixed that problem. I just dealt with its sometimes inability to zoom in and out.

He thought I'd really enjoy the jellyfish of the Sea series of these Disney Vinylmations, 
and he was right! He waited until my arrival to actually get it for me though, just in 
case I preferred a different one. It's so neat! Also, me looking deranged in the 
eatery area of the New Orleans district of Disneyland!

While Andrew and I were in Disneyland on Wednesday the lens decided to quit for good. The focusing mechanism is completely gone. I can't even get it to manually focus. That was a severe bummer in terms of timing, to say the least. I'm sure I can get it fixed, but at this point I'm not sure if I'm going to. My camera still works, but now two of my lenses are gone. I don't have the higher end of the 50mm and 24mm options, and I'd like to upgrade everything anyway. I wish I had a camera that did video, and a larger sensor and higher ISO tolerance would be simply wonderful. Andrew already has those things... in Canon.

Ice cream from the Burr-bank place in California 
Adventures. I love it so much, and it was really hot out!

He mentioned us consolidating to Canon a while ago, and I've been agonizing over the thought ever since. I love my Nikon! I've had it for so long! I'm so familiar with it. But Canon is better for video, and he wants to do video, and he already has the nicer equipment. It's a daunting thought. I will continue to think.

Since my lens broke this is the only picture we have of the two of us 
together in the park on my first day as an annual pass holder!

Yesterday we went to a camera shop that he thought I would enjoy (and boy did I) and he bought a used 50mm 1.4 for his Canon. Holy. Crap. I have a 1.8 for my Nikon, and wow oh wow, the 1.4 is just that much different. It was very exciting. I spent the day with his Canon just getting used to it. The controls are different enough from Nikon that I have to stop and think way too hard to do what I want to do, but that's just a muscle memory thing. The pictures are so nice... >.>

Really tasty mini cupcakes from the supposed best cupcake
place in the world. These flowers were outside of Sammy's
Camera, where he bought the 50mm 1.4

I have a lot of pictures of around the house. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen because it has a lot of windows and doors; it's a great open space, and it also has the pool table. It is a very pretty pool table. We've played fairly regularly and I'm not great but I'm not oh-my-gosh-horrible. They all played at college and Andrew is generous with tips and advice. I enjoy myself!

Flat, wide, huge roads.

On Wednesday the 25th Andrew and I went to Disneyland! I am now the proud owner of an annual pass! We can go whenever we want :D He had a pass holder invite to ride the new Star Tours ride early (it opens on June 3rd, I think?), so we went that day and got my pass and enjoyed the park. I've never been in Disneyland with a lack of urgency before. We were able to wander leisurely and do whatever we pleased without concern about missing anything. We can go whenever we want! He has been enjoying the park for the past two or three years, but it's quite new to me!

Andrew writing down our extensive order for the 2nd floor cafe of Ikea.
They were having an 'eat for free' event where the cost of your meal
would be deducted from the total of your home furnishings purchase.
He had big plans to take advantage of that in a serious way.

It's off season so the park is only open until 9 pm right now, but we stayed the whole time. Near closing we sat on the bench down Main Street and people watched. Andrew likes to sit there and look around but it's usually occupied. It was really nice. By this time my stupid lens was broken, so I have no photos of that. We ended up walking back to the parking structure instead of taking the tram. I sound so redundant here and in person because I keep saying, 'It was nice' but it was. It was nice to walk down the dark and quiet street of Disneyland with Andrew. I'm really glad to be in California.


Our bedroom here is in a serious state of flux. He did as much as he could before I got here (he and his housemates moved in in March or so) but he also wanted to leave a lot of things until I arrived so we could decide on things together. Very sweet of him. We've just about finished hanging photos, and my bookshelf is now painted and next to my desk! He gathered a lot of great little items so that we could start a bunch of craft projects. He paid attention while I talked about all of the things I was finding on pinterest. So sweet. We've started a few projects but haven't finished any yet. Pictures will follow!

More food.

I can hardly keep my brain on any thoughts right now even though I'd love to fill in the whole week. I'll do better next Sunday :)

Drinks and even more food.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Farewell dinner.

I regret that this entry doesn't contain any particularly stunning images. The weather this week has been quite disagreeable and I have spent most of my time sitting indoors looking forlorn. Oh, and reading.

On the whole I've been extremely distractible; I'm gearing up to leave in a mere five days. I haven't been bringing my camera with me (again), although this has been in an attempt to protect the books that I've been reading. They get beaten up rather badly by the presence of my camera and it makes me feel bad.

With the weather being rainy, windy and finger-freezing, coupled with my linear focus on my departure to LA this Friday, I've hardly spared a thought for blog content. Truly any photo thoughts have been dedicated to what my entry will look like next Sunday once I'm in LA with Andrew. Expect self-portraits of me smiling.

All of these factors combined couldn't completely halt the flow of, 'but what about this week's post?' thoughts. And so, as a better than nothing entry, I present cell phone images of last night. These serve as a documentary of the lovely evening I had with my co-workers. I believe I have referred to them as Philip and Aurora in the past, so I will continue to do so.

Bummed I only get one dinner here, but it was a spectacular one!

On Tuesday of this week, Aurora and I simultaneously asked one another if the three of us (three being Philip, but he wasn't present at this time) wanted to have dinner Saturday night. What a serendipitous moment! I told her that I loved Italian food, and hadn't forgotten that she mentioned there was a great place in Salthill called Da Roberta's. So she made a reservation for seven p.m. Saturday (last night) :D

The menus impressed me.

The three of us proceeded to have a wonderful time! Da Roberta's was a nice Italian place, crowded and friendly and a little on the expensive side. The two of them insisted on buying my meal, which was incredibly nice of them. The whole night was quite leisurely; we ate slowly, had plenty of conversation and even bought dessert!

I'm going to learn to make bruschetta. 

I had quite a bit of fun poked at me from them, seeing as I'm a very plain and simple eater. The menu was rich, varied and intricate. While looking over the options I thought of how many people I knew would revel in the decadence, and really I just wanted something simple :] I teetered briefly on ordering a pizza, but in the end decided on lasagna. I also had some spectacular bruschetta. It was worth feeling like vomiting afterward.

Huge fancy plates!

Dinner culminated in dessert, which I already mentioned, and that very rarely happens for me. When we entered the restaurant I saw the dessert case and spied a particularly succulent looking piece of chocolate fudge cake. It was at that moment that I decided I needed to order a dessert, no matter what I had for dinner. Once the dessert menu was looked over, I became super excited because I saw that they offered profiteroles.

This lasagna was amazing.

I have never had profiteroles, but I've wanted to try them since last summer. There's a scene in Half-Blood Prince where the characters are eating delicious looking desserts, and I assumed that it was vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup. I was informed that they were, in fact, eating profiteroles; a French dessert consisting of puff pastries filled with cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup.

Aurora's seafood pasta had a teeny tiny octopus. T_T

They. were. amazing. One of the most satisfactory desserts I have ever eaten in my life. I hope I find a place that serves them in LA. I don't imagine that should be too tall of a request.

Profiteroles as they were presented to me.

Covered in chocolate. I went to take a picture of the empty container after I had 
devoured all of them, but the waitress took it away before I could!

After the hefty and excellent meal, we took Philip's bike to Aurora's house so that he didn't have to chain it up on the street, and then we went to have a drink at a place called Oslo's. At least I'm pretty sure that's what it was called. The rest of the evening was just as pleasant and enjoyable as dinner was. After one drink we went across the street to an 'amusement center' consisting of a large-ish arcade and a casino. Philip really wanted to play pinball (he kept singing 'Pinball Wizard', which was fantastic).

We played the middle Spider-man one.

We played head-to-head pinball, well I guess technically head-to-head-to-head (ha!) and Philip won by a rather large margin. I, in turn, lost by a rather large margin. *shame* But that's OK! Afterwards Aurora and I played two rounds of air hockey and we both won once. I love air hockey so much! Philip had a bad run-in with a busted Guitar Hero machine, and then we all played a game of pool.

You can see Aurora's arm there. Yay pool!

Unfortunately, I caused a spectacular loss for Aurora and myself. It had been an extremely long time since I'd played pool (I really can't remember the last time) and it was a sad show. The loss was entirely my fault, seeing as I sunk the eight ball while both teams had two balls left. Ah well. It was still fun!

The night ended with a few more drinks back at Oslo's and continued fun conversation. It was great to finally get an evening out with my co-workers who I have spent the last three months with. So, in that tiny way, this entry is slightly relevant to my photo life. Ha!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

To my mother.

Welcome to the Mother's Day edition of my blog! I've been pondering all week what I'd be posting about today and I was drawing a lot of blanks. Then a few days ago people started changing their facebook profile pictures to shots of them and their mom's. I thought this was a nice gesture, and it got me thinking about how legitimately bummed I am that I'm away from my mom today. I sent her a card (hope it got there on time!), but that really doesn't feel like enough. 'What can I do?' I asked myself, and then (as a bit of an inspiration from the facebook thing) it occurred to me that I could dedicate today's blog to my amazing mom. I set out on the town yesterday with the intention of capturing images of the things I see here everyday that remind me of her, just to let her know that even though I'm half a world away, I am still thinking about her all the time.

My beautiful mother.

So, without further ado, I present: things around Galway that remind me of my mom!

The first thought in my mind was flowers. My sister and I usually buy flowers for our mom. If I remember correctly, she really likes white roses and lilies. I had hopes of finding a flower shop or patches of blooms around town. I was met with severe disappointment. There's a low brick wall down from my house, and every seven feet or so there's a square section filled with dirt and a small flower. So, sorry mom. No nice flower pictures for you. I hope you can accept this mediocre thing instead.

Fortunately, I believe that the rest of the blog will more than make up for it :)

While I was bending down to these flowers, attempting to capture something nice in the harsh light, I was accosted (in a friendly manner) by the most gregarious stranger-cat that I've ever met.

At first I was apprehensive, I don't know for sure that he's owned by someone else and I'm not too keen on fleas and rabid strays (ha). I see him in the backyard all the time and he likes to meow at the sliding glass door. It's tempting to let him in, but I never have.

After he proved to be a big softie who just wanted to love me, I decided that he definitely reminded me of my mom. She is, after all, practically a crazy cat lady <3

It's really hard to take pictures of cats that stay within a foot of you.

Guess I'm his property now.

Looooove meeeeeeeee.

Shortly after I took this he actually ran *into* my lens.

He heard a noise. Or perhaps he saw a bird. Either way, this is about the time he lost interest in me.

I had a really nice time snapping away at this pleasant feline. I bid him a good day and, with renewed spirits after the flower let down, continued on toward town. The flowers were really just a generic idea, because I had a few other things in mind as well that were a bit more personally relevant.

After a Friday night.

Just at the edge of my neighborhood I spied this. No other glasses. No alcohol containers. This thing didn't even appear to be broken in anyway. Wine glasses automatically make me think of my mom. She's an aficionado in my mind (but maybe that's because I know nothing about wine), but I'm pretty sure she'd never drink in the bushes on a patch of dirt. ...pretty sure

Only twenty feet away. Coincidence?

I paused in front of this laundromat. I wasn't sure why, really, because I haven't gone to one in a long time. And we have definitely had a washer and dryer at the house for as long as I can remember. I know that back in the 90s my mom (along with every other adult at that time) had a serious issue with shoulder pads and dry clean only fabrics. So she was frequently dropping in and out of the dry cleaner for her business clothing needs. There was a laundromat next door to it. 

That's when I realized why this building really made me think of my mom. It's story time!

When I was around... six or seven I got very sick and threw up all over the room that I shared with my sister. I mean, truly all over. Exorcist style. (fun fact: I still vomit this way :D) So obviously all of the blankets on our beds needed to be washed. The next day my mom and I went to the laundromat to get the washing all done at once. I still wasn't feeling well, and I remember falling asleep on the newly washed blankets that were folded up in one of those rolling baskets. :] It tickles me to think about being that tiny. Sorry about that mom, but it makes for a fairly nice memory for me, hehe.

Not just nationwide, but worldwide.

I'm pretty sure that no one actually enjoys Dominoes, but people certainly still eat it. I didn't know it was international, but there it is.

Anywho! When I was... I don't know, maybe twelve or thirteen my mom worked at Dominoes as a third job. That's right. Three jobs at once. She didn't do it for very long (that I remember, anyway), and she certainly used that time to beat (verbally, of course) into my sister and me the importance of tipping the delivery person.

One day my sister and I were home in the evening. There was a knock on the door and we asked who it was (because we knew not to open the door to unknown persons!). We hear a response, 'Pizza!', and we open the door to find our mom standing in her Dominoes finest holding pizza and soda. That memory always makes me smile.

Again, I had no idea this was international!

TJ Maxx, TK Maxx, different letter but totally the same company. Also, one of my mom's favorite places to shop! She is one high class lady, and, like all sensible humans, she loves a good bargain too! Family trips to TJ Maxx are always a lot of fun. My sister will invariably find a jock strap that has a picture of a man's ass on the back of the packaging (true story), my mom will look at the most hideous purses that I've ever seen and insist on asking for my feedback even though she knows I think they're ugly, and I will bemoan the fact that I can't buy fun cheap bras because no one ever has my size.

We always leave the store with a cart that is far fuller than it should be, and all of us eyeing the packages of Moose Munch that are in the impulse section.

I love family trips to TJ Maxx.

I've never ridden in a taxi as many times in my life as I have since being in Ireland. Now that I live in town I don't have need of them, but last summer I used them almost every weekend. It got expensive. 

But this isn't about Irish taxis. This is about Seattle taxis and their terrifying drivers.

In December 2006 my mom, sister and I spent a weekend in Victoria B.C., just us girls. We had a great weekend, and after riding the Clipper back down to Seattle we needed a taxi to take us to the ferry to get home.

Now, there are a lot of things that could have contributed to why this driver was so crazy, but the simple fact remains that he drove straight past the ferry terminal and when we pointed that fact out to him, he flipped a U turn and proceeded to drive straight past it again. My mom yelled at him to stop and he simply slammed on the breaks in the middle of the road. My sister and I sprang out of the car and grabbed our luggage from the trunk as fast as we possibly could. It was both terrifying and hilarious.

Brown Thomas

What we have here is an extremely expensive and high class department store. Even if I could afford something from in there, I still wouldn't buy it because none of it is my style. I went in there once while it was raining just to look around. Stuffy. Expensive. Maybe even pretentious. Brands that are exorbitantly over priced and popular. 

It's the kind of place that my mom would go into just for fun, just to look around. She'd think it was a good time to check out the Coach purses and admire the (fugly) shoes. And she's right, with her it would be fun :) She'd egg me to try and find something to try on, maybe even something to buy for me if she were feeling squirrely enough and we were on vacation.

I was confused the first time I saw this.

I don't wear Tommy Hilfiger, and (to my knowledge) have only once owned something from this company. That something was a pair of shoes.

It was Christmas when I was maybe... thirteen or so (somewhere between eleven and fourteen, I can't remember!). I unwrapped a package to reveal a Tommy Hilfiger shoe box. I stopped, concerned that I had accidentally opened someone else's gift. I looked up at my mom and said, 'Is this for me?' and I was completely serious! I didn't wear any big brands, not really. Turns out it was a pair of black and white shoes that looked very similar to Converse. They were indeed for me. Cracks me up every time I think about it.

 Expensive shoes and purses.

I'd never paid any mind to this store before yesterday. I was walking down Shop Street with hawk eyes, locking onto anything that immediately said, 'mom' to me. All it took was one glance at the leather purses and 115 euro shoes for me to stop and take a few pictures.

My mom is a classy lady. I don't think I'll ever subscribe to her taste in shoes and/or purses, but she certainly has a sophisticated style and taste all her own. Well, when she's not rocking band t-shirts and jeans, that is <3 Mom you are so diverse and awesome.

Last summer I was scouring the city to find a nice gift for my mom. I popped into every single shop in Galway (that may be a hyperbole) to find something for her. This shop had a lot of great things, but it was too expensive.

It was filled with all manner of lovely clothing, purses and shoes. Jewelry, dishes, glasses. Figurines and trinkets. I wished very badly that I could have bought something for her here, but most of the things that she would have loved were 70 euros or more, and I couldn't afford that. Still can't, actually :( But, when I pass this everyday, I think of how much she'll enjoy looking around in there when she and I get to be in Ireland together for a trip someday.

This one is pretty simple. Just a wine bar. It looks classy and almost dive-ish. It makes me remember when she briefly worked at that tiny wine bar in downtown Poulsbo. 

One time (was I in junior high or high school...?) my friends and I stopped in and visited her while she was working. We sat and chatted and drank soda. That little restaurant was right on the water in Poulsbo, and whenever I take the boardwalk for a stroll I pass it and remember that day. Mom, you are everywhere.

I will miss this food so much.

Alright, so this one is a little strange.

I don't think my mom is really that big of a fan of french fries (or 'chips' if you're not American), and even though she likes seafood I don't know how she feels about fish and chips. I should ask her. Mom, let me know, 'kay?

McDonagh's reminds me of my mom because of something that happened the first time I ate here last summer. I was on the hunt for delicious french fries, and a friend told me to go there and order fish and chips. I told him that I didn't like fish, and he informed me that they served chicken too.

Feeling positive and hungry, I marched into the famous McDonagh's. I was not prepared for what happened next.

Anyone that followed my blog during my stay in Ireland last summer will probably remember the first time I ate chicken at McDonagh's. I waited for my food in the crowded restaurant, looking around nervously at the tables overflowing with people and wondering where I would sit. My food was handed to me and I looked down in horror at the on-bone chicken on my plate. I don't do well with boned chicken. I prefer my chicken boneless. 

I edged onto a table bench and stared at my plate some more. I was hungry, alone and nervous, surrounded by strangers and completely clueless as to how I was going to eat my food. I thought of my mom and all the times she's helped my sister and me remove meat from the bone and how patient she's always been with our squeamish natures. I don't know how she's dealt with it for so long. I gathered that positive, motherly nature energy and began to hack away at my chicken, determinedly removing the uh-mazingly delicious chicken from the bone. I made a huge mess and I was so proud of myself.

So whenever I pass McDonagh's (or go in and eat) I think of how proud my mom would have been to watch me eating all by myself. I can't wait to take her there someday.

This one is pretty self-explanatory as well. I've already stated that my mom is a classy lady; she loves her some diamonds and gold. Although, I'm glad to say that she finally 100% migrated to platinum instead of hideous yellow gold. Bleagh.

There are a lot of fancy and expensive jewelry shops here and every single one makes me think of my mom wearing her jewelry, glinting in the sunlight and smiling. She worked hard for her pieces. It may just look like something expensive to other people, but I remember when her diamonds were tiny and clouded. I know their progression as we went from quite poor to the nice (but not extravagant or rich) life that we have now. They're a testament to how hard she works, how determined she is and how far she's come.

As far as wine goes I am just a lost cause. Mom loves wine (as previously stated), and whenever she gets something new she asks if I want to try. I pretty much always refuse. They all taste the same (horrible) and smell the same (gross). I know that they don't actually taste and smell the same, but they do to me. It's odd because I have a fairly keen sense of smell, so perhaps the delicate differences are lost in the general overpowering 'wine' scent. Either way, it's not an enjoyment for me.

Although, this brings me to another story that was scarring and could perhaps explain my disdain for wine scent.

This takes place when I was younger, probably sometime in junior high. My mom was enjoying a glass of wine in the evening and I was sitting with her. I complained that the wine smelled bad, and to demonstrate I decided to take a really deep inhale through my nose. She, on the other hand, chose that moment to give a tremendous exhale through her mouth to share the wine scent in all of its overpowering glory. For those that are paying attention, this means that I received a blast of wine breath into the vacuum that was my nose. 

It was horrible.

'XL' bag my ass. I already ate them all.

The last photo I have for today is a bag of Easter edition peanut M&Ms. My mom, well my whole family really, is a huge fan of M&Ms. They're in the house fairly often, and the frequency has increased ever since my sister had her son over three years ago. Elijah really loves them. However, they're most notable around the holidays. My mom seems to have a soft spot for the Christmas edition M&Ms, and our cup runneth over with them during the month of December.

While grocery shopping yesterday I was on the hunt for some M&Ms and I came across the last of the Easter bags. I smiled as I pulled a bag down, thinking about my mom excitedly coming home with holiday colors during various months of the year.

During my walk back to the house I tore open the bag and began popping them into my mouth. I smiled and thought about how much my mom loves them. And then I cried. And cried and cried. I must have been quite the sight, walking down the street with grocery bags, headphones, M&Ms and tears. Pretty sure if anyone had asked, a simple, 'I miss my mom' would have had them nodding and sending me on my way.

So, happy mother's day, mom. I hope you enjoyed the best gift I could come up with considering the ~4500 miles that are between us today. I love you!


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