Monthly Archives: May 2013

Crabtree Falls

Last weekend I finally got to participate in a hike with the SNL crew. I am always busy doing photography things on Saturdays, and with kickball on Sundays, I get left out. But I was off Memorial Day weekend, and the crew headed up to the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway for the 1.7 mile hike up Crabtree Falls.

Let’s start with the drive itself: we rolled down our windows partially out of necessity, since my air conditioning doesn’t work, but also out of pure enjoyment. Josh drove, and I relaxed. It was quite a trek out there, but it was a beautiful drive with lush green trees and a shady, winding road.

We met the rest of the crowd at the hike and loaded up on bug spray. I got attacked by mosquitos last week — to the tune of 27 bites on my legs. It was brutal. It turns out they don’t sell my cure-all bug bite cream, After Bite, in the U.S., so I spent about two days in misery before we finally found something that worked to make the itching stop.

We headed up the trail after packing our backpacks, setting up cameras and filling water bottles. The base of the falls was incredible, but it kept going up and up. Each stop was more stunning than the last. We ended up following a family with three fluffy dogs, all trekking through mud. By the time we were at the top, they were no longer white. It was hilarious.

On the way, we stopped and climbed on some rocks. I took a ton of pictures (obviously) and we rested a while on the flat rocks at the top before deciding we were all too hungry to hang around. On the way down, we saw the cutest chihuahua lugging a backpack up (we were pretty sure it had two cans of beer on either side).

Back at the parking lot, we had a picnic before heading off our separate ways; us trying unsuccessfully to camp with a few others.

It was an awesome day, I can’t wait to finish Humpback Rocks after Josh and me’s failed attempt a few months ago when it was still frozen.

Annalee

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Self Instructed

For a journalist without a newspaper, I sure am busy today. I’m taking in another awesome Creative Live workshop, this time with Doug Gordon, another amazing wedding photographer based out of Long Island. He’s doing a three-day workshop on his wedding workflow from camera settings to lighting, to posing and the business side of things.

The only reason I have time to type this at all is that my workshop took an unexpected break because it started raining in Seattle.

I’ve also been refreshing myself on Associated Press Style by taking a bunch of quizzes (which are actually going pretty well), working on my Dad’s website (www.kootenaygunshow.com) by buying his domain, doing dishes and getting my hair done for the Look3 Photography Festival Volunteer Sneak Peek tonight.

In my time off, I’ve really been learning a lot, which is more than I could have expected. The Creative Live workshops have been great, I wish I would have discovered them earlier. I plan to soak up as many of them as I can while I have the time. I have run into a traffic jam though; do I continue with Doug Gordon, or jump to Compositing tomorrow? Decisions decisions!

Can’t wait for the Volunteer Sneak Peak tonight! I have to cut out early on my workshop, but really I’m leaving a photography workshop to go meet other photographers, so I think it’s a pretty fair trade off.

Annalee

Incendiary

My little corner of heaven in Jasper, Alberta, summer 2011.

My little corner of heaven in Jasper, Alberta, summer 2011.

This is a new type of post for me. What I have never told you, is that when I read fiction, I do so very slowly. It can take me months, even a few years to finish a book. The number of months in general relates to how much I love the book. I mean Harry Potter, those babies were finished in weeks. The Dragon Tattoo series I slayed in a summer, in my papasan chair in Jasper with a glass of white wine and the bees buzzing in my tomato plants on the deck.

Back in March, Josh and I checked out the Green Valley Book Fair and picked up about $30 worth of books between the two of us. You are probably thinking wow! You might have gotten a book each, but that isn’t the case, because the Green Valley Book Fair is absolutely wonderful, it’s where strange editions go to retire, and we picked up about six books each.

It took me a really long time to settle on anything beyond the cookbooks, but I ended up picking up two novels, both of them blue in colour. Yes, I am one of those people who judges a book by its cover, and that day, I was into blue.

To cap off an awesome Memorial Day Weekend on Monday, Josh and I sat out in our backyard with the birds, voles and squirrels and both read. I finished up Incendiary by Chris Cleave, and he got into A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I was envious in that Josh motored through his. Everytime we’d check in with each other he’d have finished off another 50 pages, and I was still drilling away at the final 30 of mine.

But anyway, I was reading, and I was loving it. I mean, I really, really loved Incendiary. For the past few months I’ve been towing it everywhere. Since I haven’t been working, I have been designated the Wild Wing Cafe Seat Filler, and I often go there an hour early, snag a seat and a beverage and tuck into my book as I await a table for 10.

The book is about a young mother whose family are killed in a terrorist attack. She tries to heal herself by writing a letter to Osama bin Laden, hoping to make him feel the agony and despair her life has become. It was such a good book. The final pages were so vivid and real to me, that I could picture modern day London in the complete chaos that Cleave described. At one point, the woman is floating down the Thames clinging to an overturned boat. She falls asleep and waked up beneath the Tower of London — which was very close to where my sister and I stayed in 2008 when we went to Europe. She describes picking through the brown river, the mud, and herself vomitting as she tries to get out of the water. It was so clear in my mind — I imagined as if I was doing it.

Cleave brought London to its knees in the final scenes of Incendiary, but he also made me realize how quickly a civilized nation can crumble into caveman antics, not caring about its fellow man. It spoke a lot about recent events. When tragedy happens, why is civilization forgetting about it, moving on without changing anything? Should we not wonder why it happened, and wonder what we can do to prevent it from happening again?

Incendiary was a really, really good book, and for someone who can take months to read a fiction novel, I can definitely recommend this as a three-month adventure. That’s like, my second highest rating. The Dragon Tattoo series was a great crime story, but Incendiary made me pause long after I’d finished it.

Can’t wait to get started on my second blue book. Blue is a good colour for books, evidently.

Annalee

Tossing and turning

When I work as a journalist, I have nights where I’ll wake up at an ungodly hour with a lead or catchy paragraph stuck in my head, and I convince myself that I can’t go back to sleep until I write it down. Usually I would have a big unfinished story back at the office waiting for me in the morning, and often it was something I was very proud of.

Well tonight that is happening to me — only I have no big story on my desk, and no newspaper to report to in the morning. But I have this blog. I can report to this blog, and so here I am at 12:54 a.m. and I am writing because my brain was stuck in writing mode. I am also in the living room, because I was tossing and turning and typing away with the light on, all the while poor Josh (who has been up since 6 a.m.) was trying to sleep. So I moved my restless party out to the living room.

Celebrating our permanent residency status application being granted.

Celebrating our permanent residency status application being granted.

I have many new things to report, and an absolutely overwhelming number of individual blog posts that could be done on these various things. I’ll start with the most important. That is the fact that on Wednesday, May 22, my application for permanent residency was granted by USCIS. Five days before that, I got my work permit, so I don’t even have to wait for my green card in the mail, I am employable.

The last week has been really crazy, obviously. The immigration appointment was in Fairfax, VA. and while I feel that USCIS would frown on me revealing any of the details, I can surely tell you all about my fractured mind leading into our interview.

I wasn’t nervous, rather anxious to get it done. We sat in this big room. I had dressed up in a nice shirt and my favourite skirt, and Josh was wearing something nice too. I looked around this big room, and realized I was among some of the most stunning women I’d ever seen. They were incredibly fashionable: One beautiful African woman was wearing a bright green dress with a creamsicle coloured pullover, and high heels. The woman across from us, a Brazilian, was wearing a tight fitting black dress with short sleeves, and black pumps. Another woman was wearing a similar little black dress with a belt and leopard print high heels.

I celebrated further on Memorial Day weekend with an America-sized cupcake.

I celebrated further on Memorial Day weekend with an America-sized cupcake.

I started to feel rather inadequate. I looked down at myself, and realized I had a big coffee stain on my shirt from the drive up. I looked at my shoes: simple flats. I mean they are one of my favourite pairs, but they were flat when all the girls in the room were wearing heels. I pointed this out to Josh, and he shook his head and continued on reading, but my weirdness was well underway. Our conversation went something like this in a hushed whisper:

Me: “Look at their shoes, Josh!”
J: “What?”
Me: “The shoes, look at them!”
J: “What about them?”
Me: “All the women are wearing high heels. I’ve always wondered where women actually wore high heels to, I mean where it was practical to wear high heels, and it turns out, it’s here! It’s the immigration office! That’s where I’m supposed to wear heels!”
J: “Ummmhmmm.”
Me: “That means I could have worn my blue leopard heels. I could have worn them and fit right in.”
J: “You can wear them whenever you want, you know.”
Me: “No I can’t. Only here.”
J: Ignores me.

So there you go ladies with flat feet, I have solved the mystery of when we are expected to wear high heels. Or was this only ever a mystery to me?

Love,
Annalee.

Lean on

I’m learning to ask for help. To reach out. It’s something I’ve never done before. I have been fiercely independent all my life, and I think it has something to do with going through high school without having a boyfriend, and perhaps because of the bullying I experienced.

I learned to lean on my family, but I’m not a person who asks for help, especially from strangers. Josh has been teaching me that it’s okay to ask for advice and expertise from others, and, it’s such a good way to launch yourself into something you’re passionate about. As I’m trying to launch a career into photography, I’ve quickly realized (especially in the last few days) that I have to reach out to people who already have the knowledge. It’s the best way to learn. But I also have to reach out to people who may be willing to take a chance on me, because how else will those people find me? How else will I build up my portfolio?

This all started with enrolling in a Creative Live workshop with Scott Robert Lim, an absolutely incredible photographer whose style is so simple I can’t believe I never thought about it. He travels around the world shooting weddings, and that means his gear has to travel with him. So he developed his style using off camera flash with standard speedlights. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for, and two days into the workshop I’ve learned so much, I fear my brain might explode by the end of the three days. But in a good way!

But it’s so simple, and Lim is a great teacher. I’ve taken eight pages of notes so far. The only downfall is that I lack some of the gear at the moment, but with so many notes, I’m sure once I can get my hands on a flash transmitter I’ll be ready to go.

Anyway, it’s been an exciting few days. I’ve met some really great people here in town and things are rolling.

Annalee

Green

My iPod had a meltdown this afternoon before I went out on my attempted run. I say attempted because I haven’t been feeling well the past few days, and I went running without checking the weather before hand. Turns out it’s 29 C and a few intervals in I started feeling a bit dizzy, so I ended up walking. But hey, I got out, and it was beautiful.

Because the iPod was on the fritz I brought my phone with me to time myself, and once I started walking I started taking pictures of all the wonderful things that made me smile along the way. There were a lot of them — especially the squirrel that was camera shy.

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Not so faithful fan

I’m a Canucks fan. Yea, I just felt your shudder, and saw in my head your sympathetic look. But yes, I am a Canucks fan. Right now, as I wait for the Canadiens and Senators to finish up in overtime, I am not waiting eagerly for the Canucks to start.

In fact, I don’t want them to start at all, because if they don’t start, then they can’t lose. And if they don’t lose tonight, they do not get ousted in four for only the fourth time in franchise history. If they don’t play at all tonight, we can’t blame Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider. We can’t start the course of “Next year!”

I don’t want to wait for next year. I want the damn Canucks to come out and play like they want it. I want them to take a page out of the Canadiens’ and Sens’ book and play some good, scrappy, old-time Canadian hockey. But they’re not going to do that.

Every game in this series I have said to myself, “they HAVE to win.” They have to. They cannot lose. And it’s not because they’re so good, it’s because they have to, for the sake of my sanity and my continued faith. They have to win. They have to advance.

I was about to continue on, but then the Ottawa Senators scored. We’re minutes closer to the game.

This is the dialogue that followed in our living room:
Me: “That’s one hell of a comeback.”
Josh: “See, everyone can comeback!”

I appreciate him trying to give me hope, but I’m a battered, saddened Canuck fan. Can I simply switch my allegiance to the Senators? The truth is, I’d love to, but it’s not that easy. I can’t abandon a team, because I’m not that kind of fan. When the Canucks are eliminated tonight, I’m going to quietly sip my wine as Josh tries to point out the positives in the situation. They will probably be: “Atleast Burrows scored X amount of times!” “Well now it’ll be easier to trade Luongo to the Lightning!” “They all like golf, right?”

Sigh. The game awaits.

Annalee.

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Where the heart is

My favourite mountain, Mount Fisher.

My favourite mountain, Mount Fisher.

I’d be lying if I said my transition to life in Virginia has been easy. Even though it’s beautiful here and my life truly is amazing since I’ve finally begun living with the love of my life, I still find myself longing for the mountains of British Columbia. Especially when I see beautiful pictures of the snow capped Rockies transitioning to Spring.

There is something about the mountains that call you home constantly. I know, I know — Virginia has the Blue Ridge and the Appalachians. But they are so very different from what I’m used to.

My idea of a mountain is rocky peaks, blue against the even bluer sky, with a few clouds just for depth. Mountains to me are meant to be skied for longer than five minutes before you hit the base again. Mountains make road trips take forever, but you never really mind because you just count your blessings that you get to drive through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Mountains make a camping trip peaceful and quiet. Mountains carry a bit of risk with large wildlife like bears, but they also at the same time offer the chance to see such an incredible creature in its natural habitat. Mountains, to me, are home.

The Rockies aren’t my home any more, literally. But they will forever hold my heart, and I will always, always return to visit. In the meantime, I’ll explore the so called Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains with an open mind.

However, I will always feel like I’m cheating on my first true love — the Canadian Rockies.

Annalee

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Timeless

My Mom and I had an in depth conversation about iconic music over bubbly wine. It was all spurred by the fact that Bob Dylan is coming to town in August. We got to talking about what it truly means to be an iconic artist. I want to see Bob Dylan because his music is timeless. Is current music coming out right now really timeless?

I don’t think so, but I believe there are some exceptions to that rule. I thought maybe I should think of what I think is iconic that will last the test of time. Will my kids listen to Nicki Minaj? I hope to hell not, although I admit she’s a guilty, alone car singing pleasure. Since I still can’t think of any truly iconic bands from the 2000s and up, here’s what I grew up on, and will always listen to.

Punk:

  • Rancid: This punk band is timeless. I listen to their older albums and it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time. Key albums are Let’s Go, …And Out Come The Wolves and Life Won’t Wait.
  • Against Me!: This band is undergoing so many changes, and I’m really excited to see what their next album will sound like, since lead singer Tom Gabel came out as transgender. For me, I will always love their music, and I think Laura Jane Grace’s courage and strength is inspiring, to say the least. It seems like the other members are dropping like flies in the past six months, but I really, really hope they continue on. Their lyrics and raw power on stage are something I want to see for years and years to come. Key albums for me, Reinventing Axel Rose and White Crosses.
  • Bad Religion: Every album this band puts out is forever played on repeat on my iPod, in my car, etc. Much to the chagrin of anyone around me. I’ve seen them live, and they sound like a recording. They are so good. Key album is The Process of Belief which features my favourite song of all time, Epiphany and of course Sorrow. Damn it, now I gotta put it on.

Rock:

  • Gord Downie performs in Cranbrook.

    Gord Downie performs in Cranbrook.

    The Tragically Hip: Oddly enough, this band that’s been around since before I was alive is a recent addition to my music collection. Now I don’t know what the hell was wrong with me all those years. I guess it’s because my parents weren’t big fans, so it was never played around me all that often. Now, I listen to them all the time, and even got the chance to see them live in January. Gord Downie is a strange, strange man.

Indie:

  • Taking Back Sunday: Next to Bad Religion, TBS are my favourite band of all time. I can’t live without all of their albums, but for me there is one song that has always stuck with me, and that’s New Again. I hope to get a tattoo with lyrics from that song. The album of the same name came out at the perfect time in my life, when I really, really needed to feel New Again.
  • Tegan and Sara: These two sisters are incredible song writers, and their harmonies and matching voices are second to none. Their latest, Heartthrob is such a departure from their usual soulful indie rock, but I love the change. Albums I can’t live without are The Con and Heartthrob.

Pop:

  • Britney Spears: I’m sorry, Madonna. I’m a Britney fan. She’s the queen, relinquish the crown already. I can’t pinpoint an album, because I usually just listen to whatever, but if I had to pick one Britney album to live with for the rest of my life, it would be Femme Fatale.
  • Lady Gaga: This isn’t even a guilty pleasure. I’m proud of it. No specific album, either.

Country:

  • Shania Twain: Okay, so country is not my favourite genre. But what I do love when it comes to country, I love a lot. Shania is number one on my list. I can’t wait to go to Vegas and see her. I know I’m going to end up going alone, but I don’t even care! I remember being a young girl singing Man I Feel Like a Woman so loud. I even sang That Don’t Impress Me Much in a talent show in middle school once. It was terrifying! Come on Over is my favourite album of hers. 
  • The legendary Steve Earl performs in Cranbrook.

    The legendary Steve Earl performs in Cranbrook.

    Steve Earle: This is a shared love with my Dad. I surprised him last year with tickets to his show. I turned on Copperhead Road when we finished up the greenhouse for the day, and Dad leaned back and said “Stevie!” I snuck ahead of the line and got the best seats in the house, when I surprised him with the tickets I’d never seen him so happy. Of course Copperhead Road and Guitar Town are classics, but his newer stuff is awesome too, like I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.

  • Johnny Cash: This is again a favourite of Dad’s, but Mom’s too. I can’t single out an album, but Josh’s Greatest Hits is a great compilation to have around!

I can probably think of a million more bands and artists that belong here, but without these musicians, life wouldn’t be the same.

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Lucky in Life

I am an unlucky person. I remember when I was a kid I won a stuffed Easter bunny or duck or something, and for a long time that was the only thing I’d ever won in my entire life. Years later, when living in Jasper I won a water timer for a garden — but I didn’t have a garden. How unlucky is that?

I eventually did find a use for the water timer. Dad and I built a greenhouse last year and it actually ended up being the key piece that pulled it all together. Dad was stoked. So, there’s a bit of luck.

I decided a year ago or so that I needed to improve my luck simply by putting my name in the hat more often. I mean, you can’t have good luck if you don’t expose yourself to the good and bad, right? So I started entering contests. I have so far, won nothing, which confirms my lack of luck.

But I am lucky in life, even if the odds are against me all the time. I’m happy, I have a wonderful boyfriend, awesome friends and family, I have a great, rewarding career (when I’m working, that is) and much more. So maybe the fact that I can’t win anything in a draw or on a lottery ticket doesn’t matter.

Well I want to increase my odds for one particular contest, at the moment, and so this post was inspired. A very incredible photographer named Sarah Ann Loreth posted on Facebook the other day about a SnapKnot contest to win either a Canon or Nikon camera body, saying she enters all the time just in case. And so, I followed in her footsteps. I entered and now I eagerly await not being chosen. Man would I ever love a Canon 5D Mark III. I can honestly say it would change everything. I’d never put it down. So please, please! Luck, improve yourself. If I win this one, I will never need any more luck ever again.

Speaking of Sarah Ann Loreth, this brings up another topic entirely. She is amazing! I love her work and how creative she is. I love her simpler photos the most. Anyway, you should check her out. While you’re at it, visit her friend Joel Robison.

Big thanks to the SnapKnot wedding photography directory for offering this great camera giveaway!

Annalee

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