Yesterday we hauled the second load of boxes to the storage shed we have now in Cody, WY. We know driving across Wyoming in the winter is always met with some sort of driving challenge. Yet it’s also absolutely beautiful. And, as a photographer, I snap along the way from the passenger’s seat.
This shift to a smaller scrapbook has been a pretty smooth journey this year. What I originally thought would work smoothly, did, but wasn’t quite right. So it adjusted and changed – as most things do. I had nearly filled the album and in order to continue on the second half of the year with the goal of adding in more of a Project Life/Pocket Page Protector approach, I needed a second album.
So, looking at the colors I had on hand, I painted a second binder using Martha Stwart’s craft paint (cloud) and when finished was stunned at how well it works with the title page paper (sorry, can’t think of the manufacturer right now – but will add it here as soon as I can dig that info out) and the Seafoam Project Life kit. Add in Tim Holtz’s Antique Linen ink, and I think we have a winner.
The next thing was to decide on a size. My last post on this shows that process. In the end, I decided to mainly stick with 6.75″ as the widest I’ll put in the album. That allows a bit of room at the top (and the side if I choose) for Tabbed Dividers. Whipped up the shape files and cut them out on the Silhouette and added in the months.
And, I decided to go with Becky Higgins’ 6×12 page protectors cut down to size to be the base for each week. I can add in the journaling on the Field Journaling notebook paper or other paper cut to size, or I can add in the custom cut pocketed page protectors.
One thing I like about going with the 6×12 page protector cut to size is that I can just add in memorabilia as the week goes on and figure out how to add it in when working on that week. And, I can slip the Binder Calendar Jotters in as the week finishes on the other side. Some weeks I have them completely filled and others not so much, but I love this summary of the week.
Near the end of each month, Ali Edwards offers a challenge to document your day in more detail: A Day in the Life. For July, yesterday was that day. I mainly took photos with my cell phone (except for the moth photos here), and jotted down what I did throughout the day on a couple of sheet of the Field Journaling paper.
It’s funny, when you really pay attention to what you do throughout the day, and are held accountable by the documentation, you notice more of what you do as you’re doing it. This to me is at the heart of why I document. It helps build the habit of being in the now. That’s field notes. Observe and document what you observe. Be fully present in now.
The follow up – processing the photos and writing the words to go with them is the chance to examine, reflect and savor. This is when connections are made, growth has an opportunity and gratitude can come flowing in. This is a field journal. Working on the final product, or an in-between step like this one is for me.
Really, that’s the difference between field notes and a field journal. And it’s why this process works for scientific observation as well as keeping a photo journal or scrapbook. The system works. How involved you make it is up to you and your intent. This monthly challenge from Ali is a perfect way to try it out. She also holds a challenge of Week in the Life. This year it’s set for Sept 9-15. You’re welcome to join in, too.
Here’s much of what I captured from yesterday – right now plunked down into a template, though I’ll likely do something a bit different in the end – something that fits in the small size of journal/scrapbook I use.
1. The shadow of the Earth setting in the west.
3. So many moths under the shop light today!
4. First Emerald Moth seen this year.
5. The long-neglected garden is getting some help from a neighbor
6. But I’m pleased with the way the nasturtiums are doing
7. And the begonias.
8. Sigh. Messy craft room which needs attention.
10. Desk Work: Geyser Notes (daily project that will develop into something more at some point)
11. Cleaning the craft room got more small custom page protectors done than cleaning. I’m ok with that.
This summer while at my Mom’s house, I found myself once again pulling out some of the old ‘scrapbooks’ – documentation done by ancestors. So many had documented their lives in one way or another. My Great Uncle Ralph had a theater in Longmont, and later built the one still standing in Estes Park, documented his ‘exploitations’ – advertising schemes for various movies.
His work caught the attention of those creating the old silent movies and he kept their correspondence. The man was a genius (literally) and he kept the details on his ideas. He documented that part of his life. I especially love that he printed up personalized journaling paper.
Oh, and by the way, check the ‘adjustable binder’ in that first photo – very cool idea.
I picked up another journal of sorts from another ancestor, my Great Auntie Elma. She kept 5 year diaries, ones that had about an inch of space to write for each day. She kept it short and sweet and didn’t necessarily fill in the space every day. One was a 5 word story. Five little words that was enough for Mom to recall the whole thing. “Dayton’s bird died. Got another.” Needless to say, the replacement bird didn’t fool Dayton one bit.
Grandma Lyndall (my favorite photo of her above) kept journals – stenographer’s notebooks, or whatever was at hand. She kept journals for most of her life – seems she jotted down a few lines each day. I want to go through those more. She was so very good at capturing the little stories of life.
During WWII, news about the men in service filtered down to the store she and Grandpa ran. They put the news up for all to read, and that turned into The Huntley Horn – a newsletter Grandma and a couple of her cohorts produced and sent out to the service men with bits of news from home and the most current addresses for each of the men so they could stay in touch as well. My mother compiled these into a book that I still pull out at times and sift through.
We have an entire box of appointment books that belonged to my Grandfather. I just peeked at them, and I’m not quite sure yet how much that was documenting his business and life and how much was simply reminders for him, but they were all saved.
I have always felt a need to document life somehow. In part, I think it must be genetic.
But there’s more to it than than just genetics. A friend recently told me about a gathering of friends who discussed this. My answer came out so fast that it surprised me a bit.
“It helps me make better choices.”
When documenting life on a regular basis, I pay attention to my own life and the things that work and don’t work. Scrapbooking helped me to shift my thinking from the negative things going on to the positive ones. It’s much more enjoyable to create a gratitude journal than a griping journal – though a private griping page or two is sometimes very carthartic. Documenting helps me more clearly remember – and helps me go back and check things when I don’t remember accurately or clearly enough.
As I’ve been working through the photos I took on our last vacation, and starting to put together an album/photo book of it, I found myself sad that I didn’t capture some of the things that helped define each day. But then I look at the notes and there it is. Some of it will be just words. Other parts maybe won’t make it in.
But it’s all good. There is no right or wrong here. Just what is – and the choices before me now of how to spend the day. Have a good one!
It feels good to be home long enough to get a handle on where things are, phenology-wise. We arrived home from our trip to already be well into the monsoon season – and it’s been a good one so far. Beautiful crisp mornings give way to the warming of the day that builds clouds. They drop rain in the afternoon and evenings, cooling it down into the 50s for a good night’s sleep. If the pattern holds true to years past, the monsoons will let up sometime in August, giving us the warm days (and still cooler nights) where things will start to cure out.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching the moths under the shop light each morning – not taking photos of everything, but getting a good sampling of which varieties show up. Usually the wall of the shop is pretty well covered each morning. But the other morning, we had hardly any. At first I thought it was just the rain overnight – and that had an impact, I’m sure, but the lack of them continued even after nights of no rain.
Then the other day while sitting on the deck reading, I found myself noticing a whole heap of birds around – all of them pretty much silent except for some bluebird fledgelings. Even the usual noisy Steller’s Jay was quietly working its way around a tree. I know they’re supposed to be silent while nesting, so maybe that’s at least his or her excuse. I noticed a host of Pygmy Nuthatches, chickadees and a few others including a Cordilleran Flycatcher (formerly known as a Western Flycatcher). The day before I saw a Western Tanager less than a quarter mile up the road from the house. Getting up early the next morning, I noticed the early birds catching the moths on the shop.
What brought in all these birds now? The hatching of the Spruce worm moths (reminder to self: write down that they hatched on week #29 of 2013).
Almost every spruce and fir tree around is full of them – but not quite as full as last year. Watching the birds feasting on them in all various stages has helped to knock down their numbers a bit. I’m sure we’ll still lose a few spruce trees to them, but others might make it through with the help of the birds.
Finally, I can announce that 8 Months from today, or…
- 20,995,200 seconds
- 349,920 minutes
- 5832 hours
- 243 days
- 34 weeks (rounded down)
Mike will be eligible for retirement. All those years of paying into the Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association that took such a chunk out of the paychecks is now going to pay off in the gift of a new career direction for him and a continuation of the one for me, but living more of the lifestyle we both want.
On this vacation we both thought about and talked about this exciting next step and all the changes it will bring. The plan is to move to Cody, Wyoming to be closer to my mom (and, of course, the geysers). It will be a bittersweet move – leaving good friends that have become like family and jumping out into the unknown – well, mostly unknown. Dad grew up in Cody, and our family spent many summer vacations there. Mom and Dad moved there in 1994 to be closer to my grandmother. Cody is as much a hometown to me as anything else. We’ve tried to move in the past, but got very clear messages that we were to stay put. Doors we peeked at slammed shut. This time, however, we take a step and doors open wider. We take another step and more doors open.
Lots to do in 8 months – all of it exciting, nerve wracking, scary, as well as fun. The only thing I’m fully sure of is that I’ll document this story as much as possible.
…the crab apple trees are in bloom,
as are the Serviceberry bushes and more.
…leaves on all the trees are popping out like mad.
…the air is full of the scent of newly opening lilac bushes,
and full of the songs of birds pairing up,
and the morning songs of those already feeding babies
(half of a shell of a robin’s egg was found today).
…the irrigation ditch is full and the battle is on between tree owners
and those that might like to use them for a home, or a dam.
…tree swallows are debating about a nest box,
swooping around and tentatively landing to see if it is available.
…people are outside in their yards, sprucing them up,
waving to neighbors, enjoying the warmth.
…a killdeer fakes a broken wing as I drive by,
making me wonder if the nest location is the best one to have found.
…the days are growing longer and warmer, yet the nights are still cool.
And T is for Thank You for your patience. I’ll get those new products up in the store just as soon as I can. I’ve been a bit distracted by a sick dog of late who is going to be fine. Our 12 year old girl, Taylor, is going to be with us awhile longer. I put together a page about it today in relatively little time. I’m getting faster at this hybrid stuff (paper + computer). No matter how it’s done, it still comes down to documentation and story.
Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it. ~Julia Child
This past year I’ve spent time reading much on Julia Child – just wanted to learn more about her and how she accomplished all that she did. I came across the above quote in one of the books and scribbled it down because that’s the secret about following your passion.
The other secret, though, is contained in the books that share her methods on how she became such a great cook. She took notes. Field notes, if you will. Repeating a recipe umpteen times with notes on what worked and what didn’t – her observations – and (I imagine) thoughts on what to try next.
Simply jotting down observations deepens your interest in literally any subject you find you’re passionate about.
But where to start?
My ability to record life in words really started back in the 8th grade (some of you already know this story). In 7th grade, I was friends with Diane – another tall girl who towered over everyone else in the school. There were three of us who actually could see each other literally standing out in the crowd walking through the halls between classes. The other tall girl, though, was a grade or two ahead of us. Just sticking up like we did made us into a unique, unspoken group.
But the summer after 7th grade, Diane’s father was transferred to Japan for his work. We wrote each other letters. And somewhere along the way, we started a friendly competition to make the next letter longer than the last, until we reached 300-400 pages of regular notebook paper. Many of the teachers asked to see what I was always scribbling about. I reluctantly showed them, and they wisely all pretty much ignored it – though a couple of them told me I had to at least keep my grades up to keep writing during class. Fair enough. They knew the value of simply writing.
What those reams of pages filled with the nonsense of Junior High did, though, was form the habit of documenting life. And that’s the best way to keep field notes; make it a habit.
The notes I keep now
I have tons of interests – many of which have stemmed from just paying attention and the result of being a life-long learner. I keep lots of notes on lots of things, but the main focus for me now is kept on my other blog, Geyser Watch. I keep tremendously interested in my passion for the Geysers of Yellowstone through the notes I keep. That blog still has much growth to come to it, but on the opening day of the winter season, I decided to keep a notebook of the Geyser Times as well as the weather and other observations that weren’t certain enough to post to Geyser Times that I noticed. I wanted to better know if a particular geyser wasn’t logged because it didn’t erupt or because the weather was so bad, it couldn’t be seen. And I wanted to easily see the notes added in by others.
I wanted to put these observations online back then, but I knew myself well enough to know that I needed to form the habit first – to make sure I could add it into my morning routine. That time also gave me better insight as to what needed including and what could drop by the wayside. That habit shifted from the notebook to online and now gets updated daily on the Daily Geyser Notes page.
So how do you start keeping field notes?
- Find something you’re passionate about.
- Find a place for your thoughts and observations to land. (notebook, computer, ipad, whatever works)
- Make it a habit. Daily at first, until it’s fully integrated into your routines. (routines are just habits linked together)
It feels a bit silly at first, until that collection starts to build page by page, observation by observation. Make it a habit and you’ll not only develop good field notes but you’ll keep your passion for the subject strong. Once you do this for any area of interest, it easily translates to other interests.