Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some of the family at Christmas.

Some of the family at Christmas.

My brother's family, my mother, and in the background you can see my husband, bleary-eyed and disinterested in participating in picture-taking. We started the holiday at 8 a.m. at my parents' house - the kids very kindly agreed to wait until then to start ripping into their presents.

Merry Christmas!

Taken on a Nikon D40.

Photo originally taken on December 25, in Celebration, Florida.

Photo posted on December 26, 2009.

Friday, December 25, 2009

We put up our Christmas tree with a little help from Mickey.

We put up our Christmas tree with a little help from Mickey.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and a happy day to those who celebrate otherwise.

Today I had two Christmases, many lovely gifts, five hours riding in the car, one very excited little niece and one equally excited little nephew, a hearty breakfast of ham and cinnamon rolls lovingly made by my mother, a wonderful meal anxiously (and also lovingly) prepared by my sister-in-law for the first time for the holidays, and a cat coming home after two days missing.

Best of all, I had my family, whom I cherish.

And I also had photography! A photo or two will be forthcoming on my Flickr account


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays.

"It's Christmas Eve. It's-it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we-we-we smile a little easier, we-w-w-we-we-we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be."

-Frank Cross, from Scrooged (1988)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An army of Kiss Cookies.

An army of Kiss Cookies.

Ah, kiss cookies, how yummy you taste. My least favorite thing about baking is that I eat what I bake. Tomorrow it's cheesecake and Nutella pie making day (are you surprised? Our families like the baked good-eating ruts they are in).

I am going to make my husband take a bunch of these to work tomorrow. Hopefully whoever is there likes Kiss Cookies.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ron on his 74th birthday.

Ron on his 74th birthday.

Today is my father's 74th birthday. We had a quiet little celebration at my parents' house. My eldest nieces even drove up from my hometown in southwest Florida to visit. My dad tuckered out pretty early on in the day, but I am sure he managed to enjoy the Nutella Pie I left behind.

Happy birthday, Dad. Love you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My hard drive died, so here is a photo of me from back when I was a happy person with a working computer.

Enjoying the late afternoon sun.

This is a picture of me from a couple of weeks ago (and also the picture I used on the back of my moo cards), back when I was still carefree and had a working computer. Oh, how I miss those days!

My hard drive died on Friday. My wonderful husband did his best to revive it, but the best he could do was pull my files off of it. Which of course, I am insanely grateful for. So now we're trying to decide what to do next - just replace my hard drive? Get me a laptop? I have a four year old Powerbook that I have loved to pieces but has never had the processing power to handle the stress I put my desktop through when I'm editing photos, writing and doing research. So, get me a laptop and dock it at my dual monitors for when I want to do my heavier computing tasks? That's certainly the most (horrifyingly) expensive option, but it's also probably the most sensible for the long term. We're also thinking about getting a NAS to back up our data, which is a great opportunity for my husband to geek out.

Okay, enough emotional catharsis through writing, and on to the photo.

This is Straight Out Of the Camera. I went out in my backyard and played with sunlight. Depending on which direction I faced and how I angled my camera, I got some really neat effects. This one turned out with warm colors, and my hair looks very dark here. I had white balance set on auto because I got tired of re-measuring everytime I turned around, but on this one, I think it would have been useful as it would have toned down the warmth a smidge.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mara and Franco's wedding reception.

Mara and Franco's wedding reception.

Last Thursday, I served as a bridesmaid in Mara and Franco's wedding. It was an honor to stand by them as they said their vows. In the midst of alternating happy tears and laughter, they did a reading from Corelli's Mandolin by Louise De Bernieres that I had never heard before:

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion... That is just being "in love," which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident."

Thank you for letting me be a part of your wedding, Mara and Franco!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honeymoon: Rob looks out at Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Honeymoon: Rob looks out at Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark.Honeymoon: Rob looks out at Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark., originally uploaded by Victoria Shade.

Ah, you are going to see so many photos of my husband with the back of his head towards me. I enjoy taking photos of people - I like the capture the moment, the feeling, their existence in that very slice of time. Unfortunately, my husband is not a fan of having his photo frequently taken, so I have to try to be a little sly. I fail a lot as stealth is not one of my strongest traits, so there are many pictures of his hand in front of my camera lens.

But here he was jetlagged and enjoying the view from our room. We left Orlando around 2 p.m. on Saturday and landed in Copenhagen around 9 a.m. Sunday. When we arrived at Hotel Bethel on Nyhavn Road, it was too early for us to check into a room. Quite honestly, I passed out at a little table we waited at in their dining area.

Rob enjoyed the view and I enjoyed my picture taking for a few minutes before we promptly passed out in a jetlagged stupor. They were a wonderful few minutes, but boy, sleeping was pretty wonderful too.

Taken on a Nikon D40.

Photo originally taken on September 13, 2009, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Photo posted on November 3, 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Groom-To-Be peeks in on the bridal shower.

The Groom-To-Be peeks in on the bridal shower., originally uploaded by Victoria Shade.

I love, love, love this picture. Right place, right time, and the lighting was even kind of cooperating. And you all already know how I feel about bokeh, so the focus on him and the blurry makes me go "yay!"!

My friend Mara is getting married in a few weeks, and her bridal shower and bachelorette party were Saturday. Her maid of honor, Amber, was completely rocking the shower, and in my role of bridesmaid I just did whatever Amber asked and took whatever opportunities I spotted to help out. The rest of the time I was - you guessed it - taking pictures.

This was during the gift opening portion of the bridal shower. Franco, Mara's fiancé, appeared in the corner of my eye. Quite the surprise, since I wasn't expecting him, but I ran with it and started snapping away. He ended up going into the room and hanging out for a bit before giving Mara her wedding gift - a spinning wheel. Mara's done knitting for years now, and thanks to Franco's gift she will be able to make her own yarn! I may not know much about knitting, but Mara was so happy that she did a little dance, so this must be major.

Congratulations and best wishes, Mara and Franco! I am so very much looking forward to being in your wedding in just a few weeks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Honeymoon: Want to be on the plane, not looking at it.

Honeymoon: Want to be on the plane, not looking at it., originally uploaded by Victoria Shade.

And the honeymoon recap officially begins! We went on a fantastic two and a half week honeymoon a little under a year after we got married - and let me tell you, it was a nice way to do it. Although we both could have used a bit of a break after the wedding, we would have been too strapped for energy and money to enjoy the vacation the way we were able to be waiting until the right time for us.

And we did it right, all the way. We booked a 13 night Royal Caribbean cruise that took us from Copenhagen, Denmark all the way to Athens, Greece (including a stop in Tunis, Tunisia, so Rob can now say he's been to Africa!). Our ports were:

Copenhagen, Denmark
Amsterdam, Holland
Brugge, Belgium (port was Zeebrugge)
Paris, France (port was Le Havre)
La Coruña, Spain
Málaga, Spain
Tunis, Tunisia
Valleta, Malta

Now be honest with yourself, have you ever seen as diverse a cruise itinerary as that? I certainly haven't. We jumped on booking our reservation. We usually had a day at sea inbetween ports, so we had time to rest and relax before gearing up for the next stop. We traveled from Northern Europe through the Mediterranean without having to focus on travel logistics so we were able to simply enjoy our ports.

It was a beautiful honeymoon. And some of that you will see as I go through posting our photos highlighting the trip.

This particular photo I took at the Orlando International Airport as we were waiting to board our first flight of the trip. Rob was looking out the window at our plane, giddy in his own quiet way. I was channeling my giddiness by documenting the moment.

Taken on a Nikon D40.

Photo originally taken on September 12, 2009 at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida.

Photo posted on October 22, 2009.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The power of the sound of a baby whining.

I love dooce's blog because she's funny. (What can I say, that's all I ask for from my entertainment people, make me laugh. Now!) Her second baby is now four months old, and boy, dooce is even funnier when she's sleep deprived, but she's also mean-spiritedly aiming to give you seizures and make you prone to violence by listening to a clip of said four month old baby whining.

I was playing the audioclip on my laptop, and my husband, who was 1) on the other side of the house and 2) raiding in World of Warcraft with 3) his headphones on, jumped up from the computer to check on me because he thought I must have been in pain or having a nightmare.

That is the power of Marlo's whining.

Oh dooce, your blog posts even lead to funny times in my own home. You are GOOD!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Discovery Space Shuttle Launch at Kennedy Space Center.

Discovery Space Shuttle Launch at Kennedy Space Center.

Tonight after 26 years in Florida, I finally saw my first space shuttle launch.

It was spectacular.

This is straight of the camera except for slight straightening (no tripod, what can I say).

Taken on a Nikon D40.

Photo originally taken on August 28, 2009 in Titusville at Kennedy Space Center.

Photo posted on August 29, 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It should not be this difficult to find a pretty camera bag.

Really, I am shocked at how difficult it is to find an attractive camera bag. We have the INTERNET. We have We have etsy. We have fifty bajillion amateur photographers out there like me who want to integrate their cameras into their daily life.

So why on earth can't I find a bag that can fit this need?

What I want? I want an attractive camera bag that isn't black, have enough room for my Nikon D40 and a spare lens, and doesn't look like a camera bag.

You know what most camera bags look like? Black. Bulky. Painfully rectangular. And instantly recognizable as a camera bag. Which isn't great if it's something you want to be able to tote everywhere with you.

I've been searching high and low, and the following is the list of options I've found to be available. I'll admit it - I even looked at diaper bags as an option (although none ended up being included here).

Lowepro seems reasonably priced and gets really great reviews. Sadly (for my convenience and my walet), I just can't appreciate the aesthetics for my lifestyle.
Search hard enough for pretty camera bags, and eventually you'll stumble upon Crumpler. Think twice before you go to their website as it's terribly flash-heavy. I think the 5 Million Dollar Home would suit my purposes well and leave enough room for me to use the bag as a purse as well. This style of bag would have been a great fit for me when I was doing the academic thing and got to run around in jeans and t-shirts all the time. Unfortunately, I can't picture myself carrying this bag to work, and it's also more than I would like to pay.
Jill.e Designs comes closest to the design in my head - their bags are actually pretty. They're a little on the larger side and not exactly my sort of pretty - they vaguely remind me of big brand names like Coach or Louis Vuitton or...those are the only two I can think of right now. I'm not much for those bags. I don't think I've ever spent - or wanted to spend - more than $40 on a purse. And if I thought Crumpler was expensive, then boy did Jill.e teach me I was wrong! But still. Jill.e. Pretty AND functional.
Perhaps at this point you're wondering what I use now. I use my purse. My husband shakes his head at this because I'm not the most graceful of people and my purse is not the most padded of carriers. So when I stumbled upon Domke inserts, I thought I might have found my solution. Already have a bag? Just get a domke insert, put it in your bag, and then put your camera in the insert in the bag. Since it's just a padded insert and not an entire bag, the price is very nice.
Unfortunately, what I would really like is smaller than the smallest Domke insert for a DSLR (there are smaller inserts than the one pictured, but they are just for lenses). If they could just chop off those two slots on the right... Sigh.

As I continued exploring Domke's offerings, I found out about a more versatile product: protective wrappings. Folds down flat when not in use, and can be wrapped around your DSLR when it's in the bag of your choice. Handy! I'm concerned it will be too bulky for me to tolerate every day, but I'm hoping it will be perfect for traveling, since we've got our belated honeymoon coming up next month.

No perfect solutions here, at least not for me, but some very solid options. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Monday, July 27, 2009

There he goes.

There he goes., originally uploaded by Victoria Shade.

My dad is disabled. I know the politically correct protocol is to say he is a person with disabilities, but while I use that language for others thanks to the training ingrained in me during my time as a Disney cast member, it just never sunk in for when I talk about my dad.

He had a couple of strokes, one massive, back in 1975. He was in a coma for a couple of months. The doctors didn't think he would make it. But he did. Doesn't sound like a remarkable story, does it? But for my family it was, and for me even moreso, because I was conceived a few years after his strokes.

When I was a baby my family would go bicycle-riding. My mom would strap me into the baby chair on the back of her bike, and then she would strap in my dad on his bike by duct taping his paralyzed right hand and right foot to his bike.

When I got to elementary school, I knew my dad spoke differently than others, and that he walked slower, but I also knew he was always there to pick me up from school and he always wanted to hear about my day. I will always cherish how interested he was in me, who I was becoming as a person, what I thought about anything and everything, what I liked, what I wanted to do, how I was feeling, and how proud he was of me, .

Over the years, his health has declined further, for different health reasons. Foot surgeries. Cancer. Old age. Now he doesn't even leave his room at my parents' house more than a couple of times a week.

This picture was taken during one of our last outings. My parents' house is wonderfully close to downtown Celebration, so walking down to the barber shop was no trouble at all. Nothing made my dad feel better the way a good haircut will do.

Now he's not able to go out to the barber shop.

Love you, Dad.

Taken on a Canon PowerShot SD700 IS.

Photo originally taken on October 25, 2006 in Celebration, Florida.

Photo posted on July 27, 2009.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Holidays = fireworks + food.

I'm on a boat., originally uploaded by victoriashade.

Happy belated 4th of July, U.S.A. citizens (and anyone else who wants to celebrate it)! We kept it quiet by doing lunch with a friend and hanging out at the house. No fireworks, which is a-ok with us since the boy isn't much for crowds and I've seen enough Disney fireworks to make everything else pale in comparison.

This picture is actually from the 4th of July three years ago. Click here from a photo towards the beginning of the evening.

To get a good photo of fireworks, a tripod and a long exposure are the ideal. Well, I was on a boat, and I just had my little Canon point-and-shoot, so that was not happening.

This photo was taken toward the end of the Magic Kingdom's 4th of July fireworks show. Not only were the fireworks set off at the theme park, but they were also set off in the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of MK. It was for this reason that our boat was sitting in Bay Lake, behind the Contemporary and near Wilderness Lodge.

It was a beautiful show and great time spent with friend, but I admit (with bias) that I love IllumiNations more.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My necklace.

My necklace., originally uploaded by victoriashade.

Posting this from my new photo journal. I love the regular Flickr account, but I post a TON of pictures there. So with this new account, I am first going back through my archives and posting only my favorite pictures. Right now I am at the beginning of 2006, and I am aiming to post five pictures every other day. I'm honing my photoshop skills along the way. Once I get caught up to the present, I will then be able to challenge myself by taking new photos (which I'll be doing all the while long, but you get the idea).

I don't think I could ever put it more simply and effectively than to say that this is my necklace. I have an unusual attachment to this piece of jewelry, and in fact regard it less as jewelry and more as a talisman. It was given to me by my mother when I was 13. A couple weeks before, I had discovered a strange lump in my neck, and my doctor decided it should be removed since it was in an unlikely spot for swollen lymph nodes. It was outpatient surgery and my first horrible experience in my life with general anesthesia. We had been driving home when my mom felt compelled to stop at a store to buy this religious relic for me. Thinking back, it's a bit bizarre - we were (and are) not religious people, and I was napping in the back of the car thanks to the aftereffects and medication from the surgery. But she did it, and she purchased me a relic of St. Padre de Pio, who was not actually a saint at that time, having been canonized only just a few years ago in 2002 (on my birthday, as a matter of fact). St. Padre de Pio was famous for experiencing the stigmata on multiple occasions, and in this relic you can see a scrap of fabric that supposedly contains some of his blood from one of these experiences.

My mother, the long since lapsed Catholic, gave this to me. Whether or not you believe in it, someone, somewhere does. That gives it power. For me, the power comes from the fact that my scared mother wanted to give me something that I could hold on to in the face of uncertainty, whether it be medical or whatever else life would throw my way.

I love this necklace. I try not to think about the inevitability of life and how I might lose it someday. It is my most treasured possession, but the fact is we truly possess nothing, not even our bodies. Everything is lent to us and it's up to us to take as good care of everything as we possibly can, but sometimes even that is not enough.

Taken on a Canon PowerShot SD110.

Photo originally taken on December 2, 2005 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Photo posted on June 27, 2009.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My requirements for a dog

Rob, that funny husband of mine, seems convinced that I will love a dog. People, I am a cat person. But Rob has had both dogs and cats, and he seems convinced that once we have kids that a family dog will become part of the equation as well. Unfortunately, my history with dogs isn't as positive as his. When I was a kid, I was run down by a labrador. A labrador! Aren't those supposed to be one of the friendlier breeds? And I wasn't doing anything but running around with my friend in her yard. LAME. I also once walked a shih tzu and it randomly went crazy and bit a man who walked past us. Yeesh. So dogs have made me skittish ever since.

If I were to ever have a dog, here are my requirements:

1) I am not afraid of it.
2) The cats rule it and are not made anxious by it.
3) It does not drool.
4) It does not jump on me or other people.
5) It does not shed worse than the cats.
6) It does not bark much.
7) It is trained to understand and respond appropriately to "no, sit, heel," and so on.

It should probably be cuddly and not bony in order to have a better shot at me ever loving it. Unfortunately, Rob wants a big guard dog. That doesn't sound cuddly.

I'll think of more requirements.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My days at Disney.

I worked at Disney as a cast member for 5 years and loved it. I started on the College Program and then transitioned to various seasonal positions. My final position was the best, in my biased opinion - I worked evenings at the Yacht and Beach Club, driving a group around the Epcot canal waterway system to see the Epcot IllumiNations fireworks.

I got my first recommendation on my LinkedIn page. Someone I used to work with at Disney when I was driving the pontoon boats for private parties to see Epcot IllumiNations, said the following:

"I have worked with many different people while at Walt Disney World over the past years. Some very dedicated, and some just looking for a paycheck. Victoria is one of the few who truly believed in the Disney magic and whether on stage or back stage, she was always a positive force. She was always cheerful, bright and very guest orientated. She is an asset to any company that is lucky enough to have her."

I squealed the happiest of squeals when I read that. I will never stop missing Disney, and if the right opportunity ever presented itself, I would return. I miss playing at Disney too - I haven't been in several months.

That will be rectified soon. I sent the boy a Google Calendar invite for a day at Disney next weekend, after we've wound down from Easter weekend.

(Yes, this is how my husband and I roll when it comes to event planning in our marriage - the geeky, organized way.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I love you.

Last night the boy husband went to see Mamma Mia with me at the local botanical gardens Date Night, even though he detests musicals. Today I got two free magnolia trees that are taller than me, that we drove to our house in a truck that a coworker lent me. Later this week, another coworker who happens to be an expert on landscaping is going to come over and help us decide where to place them and give us ideas for what to do with the rest of the yard. Once we finished hauling the tree home, we hit up the local diner for a late breakfast, then went home to nap. The afternoon was spent lazily putzing around on the computer and watching television. Eventually there was ice cream.

You know what? Life is good.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Matt and Maddy

It's a hazy memory how I stumbled across Matt Logelin's blog, but I am extraordinarily glad that I did. I came across it shortly after his wife, Liz, died a day after giving birth to their first child, Madeline. His writing was so raw and honest, I couldn't help but read it all. And I kept reading. I can't tell you how many posts I've sent to various people for one reason or another, or how many times I've called to Rob from my office shouting, "You have to see this picture of Maddy!"

He recommends that you start here at this post.

In the year since his daughter's birth and his wife's passing, Matt has taken his experiences and found a way to benefit families going through similar situations. He created the Liz Logelin Foundation, and I recommend you check it out.

Once you're worked your way through that, I recommend you skip ahead nearly a year to this post which contains a video of Matt and Maddy during a photo shoot. Beautiful video. The happiness on their faces is exquisite.

I also recommend the video because of the song. Amy Seeley's "Walk To The Park" is my current favorite, soothing me on this rainy day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Kelly's Choosing Losing and the iPosture

I know, I know, I've been languishing on the posts. Right now I'm dealing with yet another sinus infection, and I've been averaging about one of these a month for the past several months. My doctor and I have been chatting quite a bit lately, you know, what with my being in physical misery and all.

Anyway, my totally amazing Captain of Awesomeness, Kelly, has a blog that has really been taking off. It's a healthy living blog called Choosing Losing, and it chronicles her pursuit of a healthier life along with reviews on products and entertainment geared towards that niche.

And sometimes you can even win some of those products she reviewed. Check out the iPosture giveaway on Choosing Losing! I can win an iPosture, an intuitive electronic device designed to improve posture, and so can you! Click here for contest details!

Dude, I want to be shocked by a device that reminds me to sit up straight. I will completely admit that I am slouching right now as I type this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Meg Crofton inspires hope for those working and coping with a chronic illness

My job drives me crazy at times, I feel ill-suited for some aspects of it, and my body is taking a beating with it, but it has its perks. I get to meet and work with some amazing people.

Today I got to go to a private speaking engagement with a group called Women of the Boardroom. This quarterly breakfast featured Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World Resort, as its speaker. She was truly phenomenal.

One of her nieces has been staying with her for the past month as she pursues a job shadowing opportunity in nursing. As part of the program, she had to keep a daily journal, and in an effort to bond with the girl, Meg began keeping a journal as well. Beyond simply recording her daily thoughts, she reflected back on the past 30 years of her life to cull significant moments and life lessons.

The one that struck the strongest chord in me was one of her final stories, "Remember to bring joy into your life." In this, she revealed that when she was 30 she was diagnosed with what she would only refer to as a condition. She took medication to control it, and for years, it worked okay, but not well enough for her to feel truly healthy. Until the time came when her white blood cell count dropped dangerously low, and it was determined she would have to permanently discontinue the medication. Her condition flared back into life.

Meg decided to cope by balancing her life. She became realistic about her limitations and stopped traveling in her role as Vice-President of Disney Company's Human Resources Department, a role in which she was responsible for 90,000 cast member across the globe. She began exploring Western medicine, out of what she called "desperation." She spent several months taking more time for herself, more time with friends, more time to rest, drinking medicinal teas, getting acupuncture, and basically exploring the new life she was trying to build. And it worked. She found a way to cope with her life without her medication.

I have never, ever heard a leader speak about having a chronic illness before. The past few months of working full-time have left me utterly dejected at times when my body feels at its worst, screaming in pain, refusing to cooperate and take me where I feel I need to go. Part of me felt like crying as I heard her tell this story, but an even bigger part of me was overjoyed.

Granted, everyone is different. I do not know what her condition was or any of the other circumstances of her life that have a great bearing on how she handles being chronically ill. But to hear her speak publicly about this was inspirational.

Thank you, Meg.

I wish so badly that I had recorded her speech.