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Oh no!

Yesterday was our middle school robotics group's first competition. All the other schools at the event were high school level, so we went knowing that it was "for the experience" and, possibly, to open their eyes and to inspire them to what is possible in robot design. It was my first time seeing VEX robots in action. I knew a good bit about this year's Sack Attack challenge from my work at Science Buddies. But I haven't been involved in the robotics club at all. (He's at that age!) So it was interesting to see what they had done and what others had done, given the same challenge and design and game objectives.

Once I decided to go, I responded to the query for a photographer. If no one else had offered, I said, I would shoot the event. "Are you a professional photographer," was the reply.

You know how I responded in my head!

I explained that I don't have the best camera (wish I could afford an upgrade) and that I am not a professional... but that I know what I am doing and have experience. How else do you respond to that question when you are an amateur, a hobbyist, someone for whom photography is one of many, many half-studied and loved creative pastimes?

So I went. I felt self-conscious. I shot.

And... I failed.

I was so disheartened this morning to pull up the day's photos and find that though things looked fine on-screen while I was shooting... the lighting indoors was more of a challenge than I had realized. Far too many shots are less crisp than I would like. The kids were constantly in motion tinkering with the bots, and so there are far too many with blur (of hands). Ugggh. Just so disappointing. And I hate to even show the set. When I told the robotics member... he, too, was disappointed. That was interested... that's the kind of comment that sends me wondering... disappointed because he will be embarrassed they are not great? Disappointed because he wanted to be able to show off what I could do? I just don't know.

How many times can I wish for a different reality -- on that would bring a camera upgrade? Every time I think we are back on track, the ground falls away again, and I find myself scrambling to keep perspective on whether or not I can even make ends meet. A camera is not a necessity.

Maybe next time I should just say no (or not volunteer).

I was not blogging or podcasting last year when a similar moment happened. But that time... my shots turned out fine, fully of story and tone. That time... led me to go ahead and say yes this time.

It was a very long day. We planned to be there just a few hours, home just after lunch so that I could have an afternoon of sewing while the kids absorbed themselves in minecraft and the science fair display board sections were typed up (hopefully not in that order). But at 4PM, the qualifying rounds were just ending. It was a very long day of standing around and, mostly, waiting and doing nothing.

I was so tired when I got home, I did something really indulgent and odd, something I used to do when I was 20-something. I had buttered popcorn and chocolate-covered toffee for dinner. There ya go!

Colors Day 6

S logs

O Camera

A CameraDay 5 - A Sunday.

The school auction happened at the end of Day 4. With only a few weeks before the deadline, we started working on a collaborative donation. After much debate about which colorway to use, we settled on what felt safest, the one we felt might draw the attention of "this" audience. We donated a collaborative wall hanging in Asian fabrics and gold tones. The other colorway, our first choice, was bolder, brighter, and more graphic. In the end, we made both so that we could decide with bird in hand, and as a result, a new series was born. The piece we donated was Number 2 in our "My Line" series for 2012. It's a pretty piece and marked some new trails for us in terms of the way we approach line and the way we intermingle our pieces and approach the "canvas" of a quilted piece.

In the end, however, it wasn't the most successful auction experience. (The auction itself did very well.) I realized mid-morning (the day after) that the auction had left me feeling a bit out of sorts in thinking about our work. It took a bit of time Sunday morning -- and some cream of wheat -- to snap myself out of it. I burned off a lot of energy pulling out bins of fabric and sorting and resorting, always trying to reclaim plastic bins to use for new projects and finding treasured bits and pieces that were "just right" for the projects we have underway right now.

My head (and some bins) cleared a bit, I was ready to tackle the third "row" project we had planned... rooster and chickens. We've done roosters and chickens before. It was one of our early projects, in fact. But it's been a while -- and that quilt is long gone to a good home. Like the food palette, the roosters fall in a similar range (at least the way we do them) and occupy a color palette in which we love to work. It's exciting and bright and bold and cheerful. It was good that these colors were just beginning to march across the wall as I refocused and got ready to work. We got a lot done.

Then we headed to the beach where it seemed oddly like summer. It was bright, but beautiful. There were many photos, much sea glass hunting, and a good bit of fresh air. A quick trip to the grocery yielded some necessities, including roses. And then we hit the local Squat and Gobble for dinner.

Rocks 2011 Feb

There are rocks... and then there are rocks. I've been thinking about rocks... and about maps... and about topography... about the lines that connect and guide... lines that lead forward and trail behind. Much of that will hopefully find its way into the next episode of the CMP--even as it informs a 2012 yearly project, one that will evolve and take shape month by month, but one that has origins in the symbolic nature of mapping. I always hate to spill my stories on the blog if they will be part of a podcast. You really don't need to read/hear it twice, right? So I won't over-explain the rocks here. But I also know that there are times when all I want to do, really, is curl up into the space of the blog and write my way out. I fear the words may be cast to the wind. I fear the words may have little meaning. I fear that because there are only slivers of me to go around that I have little worth sharing. And yet in writing, I know that I've taken action--moved. In such moments, the words are familiar and inviting. Maudlin thoughts, I think. But the rocks are good, the result of an unexpected discovery of a really beautiful spot to walk, to search, to simply be. (I am thankful that someone introduced us to this space--a free place to spend a few hours.)

I don't always bounce out of pitfalls with grace, I know. And in between rock finding, I have let myself wallow in the fact that not everything turns out as we might wish, no matter how optimistically we go into it or how "due" for a change in luck, an upswell in the currents of fate, we might seem to be. Some of my wallowing took the form of poking around Amazon looking at new and want-to-see books. Here are a few that caught my eye--some of which, thankfully, I was able to put on reserve at the library.

When I am able to find the space within from which to create--I will have found the genesis of a new thread on the map. I know I have to embrace all that is, but there is such quiet around me.