The Rambler

Weather forecasters are saying we’re in for another 9 years of drought.  Nine years!  Yowzers!  I was talking to Hub about our yard and how we really need to explore xeroscaping because there just isn’t going to be any water to spare for water-thirsty grass.  As long as we can get rid of the nasty Hackberry trees in the back yard, I’ll be happy.

Speaking of the nasty Hackberries … I spent the better part of the early afternoon sawing away at this past week’s storm damage.  One of the trees split in half and so I wanted to be sure to get the loose branches cleared from the tree.  Next up: hack the branches into smaller pieces so the trash guys will take them.  Hub wasn’t too happy with me when he saw all the branches stacked in the back yard.  His concern was I could have been hurt by falling branches.  A reasonable concern, but I did take precautions and stayed out of the way of everything that could possibly fall on me.

The weather is cooler today than it’s been over the past several months and so I definitely enjoyed spending time outside during the day and not breaking a sweat … even with all the sawing and hauling I did.  Nice!

Headed upstairs to pull out my NYIP lessons after I finished clearing the storm damage.  It’s been several months since I’ve even pulled the books & CDs out and so rather than picking up where I left off, I thought it best to refresh my brain and start from the beginning.  I can’t believe how much I’d forgotten!  So, while the facilitators were discussing the photos in the lessons, I popped open my photo folders and started evaluating my work since I started my classes.  I can definitely see improvement in my shots.  With regard to the 3 questions, I can honestly say I have several that have nailed them.  This makes me feel better about what I’ve been producing than I did before I restarted my unit.  I’m eager to complete the first unit and submit my project for evaluation.  Shouldn’t be too much longer before I can do that.

Hub & I have a freelance job to work on.  It’s an outside assignment for his sister.  She wants a portfolio of photos of the missions in the area.  It’s been so smokey and hot lately.  Hope the air will start to clear once the “cold” front blows through.  I’m kind of excited to start it but want to make sure we’ve got everything in place so I can get the shots I really want.

We headed over to Gruene a couple of weeks ago and I headed out to Landa Park last weekend by myself.  I got some good stuff from both outings, but that’s not what my sister-in-law asked for, so I’m not even going to show it to her.

Have the Florida-Alabama game on.  It’s not going the way I hoped it would.  Always sad when the Gators lose in the Swamp. 😦

I’ve been thinking about next month’s half marathon and my very sore & blistered toe and how I’m going to crank out 9 miles tomorrow.  I’m taking Tuesday off to take Carl to the doctor and so I’m seriously thinking I’m going to move my long day back two days and swim tomorrow.  But the weather’s turned so lovely and cool and I don’t want to pass up a chance to run tomorrow morning.  Maybe I’ll do 3 and then head to the pool.  I plan to ride on Monday.  The hard part for me is the discipline in following through on my plan.  I can do it.  The question really is … WILL I do it?  I’ll have to let you know on Wednesday.

I’ve got a triathlon in February to also train for and I haven’t been in the pool or on my bike in a long time.  Time to crank my training into gear to incorporate both races.  I have an 8k at the end of this month.  Wrote a question on the race director’s wall asking to verify the location.  Was pretty disappointed when I went back to see if there was an answer and saw that my question had been deleted.  If the race fee was refundable, I’d pull out of the race because of their rudeness.  Unfortunately, race fees are rarely refundable.  So I’ll show up, have fun with my friends, head home, and really think long & hard before signing up for a race again produced by that krewe.

It’s going to be a tough week next week at work.  I set a pretty ambitious schedule for myself.  I’m sure I can get everything done that I’ve planned.  The reward will be sleeping in next Saturday.

I mean, hey Saturday’s going to be a special day and I want to enjoy my reward.  After all, you only turn 48 once.

A Week in the Life

Last weekend kicked off with a fairly relaxing Saturday of puttering around the house, tidying up, and mentally planning for the next week of work.  Mum & I had a Silver Stars game to go to that night and I was really excited about the Jars of Clay concert after the game.  I was also very excited about the Pilot’s arrival Monday afternoon.  Mum, Da, Hub, & I were planning to celebrate the Pilot’s final flight as a Naval Aviator with him and the flight crewe Monday night.  I was looking forward to capturing all of the festivities for posterity.  All-in-all, Labor Day weekend promised to be relaxing and fun.

The game was good even though the Stars lost.  One word to describe the concert: FANTASTIC!  It was a great worship concert and listening to Sophia share her testimony really spoke to my heart.  I even saw a very good friend after the concert: my high school Campus Life director!

Little did I know that the Lord was using that sweet, sweet time of worship and fellowship to prepare my heart for what lay ahead.

Mum called around lunchtime Sunday to share that the Colonel was being called back to Afghanistan.  This time the deployment is for a year.  And, she said, he was due to fly out in a little over a week.  What???  How is this possible?  After all, he JUST. GOT. BACK a few months ago.  Didn’t he?  Reality: he’s been back in the States for almost 18 months.  But still!  I needed time to absorb what Mum had just told me.  I promised her I’d call the Colonel, hung up the phone, and cried about the seeming unfairness of it all.  I know it’s his job.  But still!  (yeah, I’m saying that a lot …)  So I called the Colonel and got his voice mail.  I imagine he had a lot to take care of.  Namely: spend as much time as he could with the Princess.

Got in some awesome worship time while I logged my miles both Sunday and Monday morning.  Bad part was the blisters.  I was forced to lay off my feet the majority of this week just to let them heal.  Think I’ve got another prevention and am eager to try that theory later this morning.

I had a great time with the Pilot and the crewe Monday night and stayed up late editing photos so I could send them out to him as well as post a few in Thru Lisa’s Lens.

The Pilot's final flight as a Naval Aviator ~ September 2011

I’ve basically spent the past week in a very raw emotional state.  So joyful and happy for my oldest brother and the milestone he just reached and so sad and anxious for my youngest brother and all that is soon to take place.  My middle brother, the Spook, thank goodness, is doing well and all is quiet on the Western front for now.

I didn’t begin sharing the news about the Colonel with my colleagues until Thursday.  I told one colleague that I’m just going through the motions.  I’m very thankful for being crazily, impossibly busy: for me, it’s very therapeutic.  All those feelings and emotions I had prior to his first deployment have come flooding back with a vengeance and I have to keep reminding myself that FEAR is simply False Expectations About Reality.  I can’t always stop the fear from creeping back in.  Things are very different about this deployment than the last.  That in itself scares me.  I remember spending every waking moment of his last deployment with fear nagging at the pit of my stomach.  I can’t do that this time.  I’ll keep him lifted in prayer and look forward to seeing him when he returns.

And so my family has entered a new season.  A season we’re very familiar with and one that military families all over the country are in:  One of prayer, of worship, of hope.

Stay safe, Colonel.  We’ll see you soon.

The Colonel & me prior to the Chupacabra Trail Run ~ July 2011

Top 3

If I were to rank this Spring Break out of all my Spring Breaks, it would definitely be in my top 3.

Why, you ask?  Well …

Ms. BQ’s Spring Break send-off was to be sure and get some miles in.  My initial plan was to spend the first weekend cycling and complete a virtual marathon during the week.  Good news! I’ve knocked out 31 miles since last Saturday and I haven’t even begun to peddle today.  And that doesn’t even include last week’s little boo-boo.

My first "battle of the bulge" wound

Cupcake Marathon 2011 3/14-3/26/11

I, knowing myself, knew that the more time I spent in the saddle, the more confident I’d be on my bike.  True to form, I’m gaining confidence each time I take my bike out.  I even ventured out on my own yesterday!

I’m not “thrillin’ on the downhills” yet, but I’m getting there.  Maybe by next weekend?  Who knows! 🙂

According to plan, I headed out the door early Monday morning to complete leg one of the Cupcake Marathon.  In hindsight, this was something I shouldn’t have done because I managed to aggravate my foot injury and wisely opted to refrain from any more foot mileage through at least the rest of the week.  I notified the race director on Friday that I had to pull out of the marathon.  He shared that he was sorry to hear my news but did want me to know that he’s got another cupcake marathon planned for the fall in addition to a pizza triathlon for later in the year!  Triathlon –  sweet!  Pizza – meh.

So, what was it about this Spring Break that ranks it so high among all my Spring Breaks?  Truthfully?  It’s because I was active. And I learned a few new things.

Mum & I took our annual trip on Monday and headed up to the LBJ library in Austin.  After we wrapped up our tour, I took her to lunch at TGI Friday’s on the (Colorado) river and we had a scrumptous meal!

Bust of LBJ at library's entrance

LBJ's favorite phrase (paperweight on Ladybird's desk)

Part of wall-length mural below the presidential archives

Mum & I spent a lot of time in the library looking at artifacts, reading placards, learning things never or seldom found in textbooks.

For instance, Ladybird graduated from the University of Texas (hook ’em!) and hoped to become a teacher in an “exotic location, like Alaska or Hawai’i.”

We also learned that Ladybird & LBJ had a beautiful relationship.  Their letters to each other are mounted throughout the library.

And did you know that LBJ received the Silver Star (WW II) and was the first Congressman to go active duty?  I know I didn’t know this before we went to the museum.

Mum & I also sat and listened to excerpts from some of his speeches.  LBJ was a funny man.

One little tidbit that I’m sure you tatertots didn’t know about me.  I used to work with one of LBJ’s grandsons.  It’s true!  Back in the days before I became an educator, I worked in one of the world’s largest law firms (international contract law … yawn)  Anyway, the associate that worked closest with my partner was … you guessed it, Lyndon Nugent.

And that, tatertots, is my “6 degrees.”

Actually, my “6 degrees” is former president Bill Clinton, but that’s a story for another day.

Hub & I headed over to Missions Espada & San Juan Capistrano during the week and we were blessed with a very knowledgeable park ranger who shared with us more nuggets neither of us knew previously.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission Espada

Ironwork over well at Mission Espada

Dam at Mission Espada

Ranger Flowers (should have taken his picture, but Hub & I were so rapt with his stories, I forgot) shared that each of the missions had a specific function.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is the southernmost mission and was tasked with raising livestock.  The fields where the cattle grazed are still there.  Empty, but still there.

Mission San Jose (we didn’t go there this trip but Mum & I did a few years ago) was where grain crops were grown, harvested, & milled.  It’s the largest of the mission compounds and the mill is still in operation, albeit for demonstration mostly.  If memory serves, you can purchase flour ground at the mission.

Mission Concepcion was primarily for worship.  It’s located closer into town and almost directly across from St. Peter’s & St. Joseph’s children’s home. (There’s another story here, but that’s also for another time, tatertots.) Hub & I didn’t go to Concepcion this time.  We will soon, though.

Mission Espada, Hub’s favorite mission, produced textiles.  The acequia (aqueduct) from the San Antonio river still flows around the back of the mission.  Nuns still reside at the convent at Espada and the open courtyard to their living quarters is filled with many beautiful and bright flowers.

Out of respect for their privacy, I didn’t take any pictures of their residences.

Mum & I had tried to find the Espada dam a couple of years ago but we weren’t successful.  I told Hub I didn’t want to leave this time until we found it.

I’m so glad we did!  The acequia runs along the top of the bridge from the river down to the missions.  Ranger Flowers shared that there was a V-shaped tool that the settlers and missionaries used to get the water to flow into the channels they created.  Even with everything being so primitive, the technology used to get the water to where it needed to go seemed pretty advanced (to me).

Our missions trip was pretty interesting and very educational.  Not to mention, I got some pretty good shots!

One of the true highlights of the week, though, was Hub’s & my bike ride from McAllister Park to Los Patios on Friday.  Since I’m not willing to aggravate the foot, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the local cycling sites studying trail and road maps.  The first one Hub & I tried was along the Salado Creek greenway.  It wasn’t too hard (meaning hilly) and it was a great way see parts of San Antonio in a new light.  There was one part of the trail that unnerved us both:

Salado Creek greenway

This one mile stretch of boardwalk is only about 6 feet wide.  For a person that had fallen off her bike just a few days before, I wasn’t going to take any chances!  I have to admit, after the first .75 miles, it became “just” a path to ride.  Oh, the picture is from the Cycling San Antonio site.  I wasn’t comfortable enough to stop riding and snap a photo.

We got to Los Patios a lot faster than either of us had anticipated and we were actually disappointed that we had found the end of the trail as quickly as we did.  How’s that for progress! 🙂

Full moon in perigee

By far, the absolute best moment of my week was getting outside last night and taking pictures of the moon.  I actually wasn’t going to do it but Hub, God bless him, wasn’t going to let me not.

I wasn’t happy with my initial shots (took about a dozen, came in & uploaded them and promptly trashed them) and remembered that NYIP had sent out an article on how to photograph the lunar eclipse we had about a month ago.  I found the article, noted the camera settings, and returned to the back yard.

Would you believe I took this one without using a tripod?  Neither did I!  It’s true, though.  In case you’re interested, this particular shot was done in ISO 400, f16, 1/1000.

So there you have it, tatertots.  Spring Break 2011 was pretty darn good.  I head back to work tomorrow, have a full day planned and need to figure out how to baby the foot in the process.  But I’m not complaining!  I had a great time this past week, made even better because I got to spend it with my Mum & my Hub.  May we all be so blessed!

All photographs in this blog, except the Salado Creek greenway, are the property of Lisa Alvarado & LM Stillvarado Photography

When you carry three, what’s one more?

Sunrise over Schertz

Have you ever noticed how spectacular the clouds are during a sunrise or sunset?  I have.  Haven’t had my camera with me except one time.  All the others, I’ve simply been a witness to the majesty around me.

I took this picture about a month ago.  I can’t imagine what my neighbors were thinking: here I was out in my backyard in my pajamas & slippers snapping pictures of the incredible show in the sky.

I used one of my Christmas gift cards to buy a smaller camera bag.  Da asked if I had a tripod in it.  He laughed when I pulled one out. (It’s a tabletop tripod, silly!)

I bought the bag so that I could start keeping my camera with me all the time.  I’ve happened across so many incredible moments I wanted to capture and have been without my camera.  It’s frustrating, really, to only be able to remember my favorite shots and have nothing to be able to look back upon.

I’m blessed to have a job that allows me to travel throughout the city each day.  I need to get past my fear of someone taking my stuff and take my camera with me wherever I go.  Heck, I carry several bags with me from campus to campus.  What’s one more?