SoapBoxville 2.0

June 27, 2015

Of Raccoons and a Big Storm or Y’all Just Ain’t Gonna Believe this $%*^

Filed under: General Ramblings — Tags: , , , , , — Carol Anne @ 1:46 pm

Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Murphy’s Law dictates, anything that can go wrong, will.

raccoon in a trap

You're adorable, but you can't live in my attic

Apparently Burns and Murphy are wise and prophetic men, I took the month of June off from Facebook and Twitter because I believe Social Media stifles creativity and long-form writing. I took the month of June off from social media because I wanted to work on restoring my concentration, and to work on updating and reviving Soapboxville.

I was doing just that through the Blogging 101 course on WordPress, when Cupcake Kitty woke us at 4am Monday morning to alert us to sounds in the ceiling. What was making the unsettling sounds coming from the attic? Ghost? Vampire? Zombies? Raccoons? Ding! Ding! Ding! Give the gal in the flowered hat a prize. You guessed it, raccoons. There are raccoons living in our attic. At this point I’d take the ghosts over the raccoons, exorcists are probably cheaper than exterminators.

It took until Tuesday afternoon to even get anyone out here, and because as an infant I was cursed by the bad weather gods (I always bring the bad weather, plan a vacation with me, you’ll see.) four hours after the trap was placed on our roof, what was first thought to be a tornado but has now been identified as straight-line winds of 70mph tore through the area bringing down our back and side fences, a tree in our backyard, and some branches in the side yard. Blessedly the trap stayed on the roof and Wednesday morning we awoke to one trapped raccoon on the roof; we rejoiced, we danced, we waved our hands in the air like we just don’t care. We thought, “This nightmare is quickly on its way to being over.” Oh, if only we knew.

back fence down
What’s Left of our Back Fence

I awoke at 5:30am Thursday morning to find a second raccoon in the trap on the roof. Because I didn’t want to wake the neighbors I quietly rejoiced, went back inside, back to bed and slept the sleep of someone with delusions of anything ever being easy and on the right track. I slept two peaceful hours (the sleep of a fool) until it was food o’clock and time to feed Snowball and Cupcake Kitty. I was on my way outside to take a photo of the second trapped raccoon when the hubs came in to tell me the trap was empty and broken. That’s right, the second raccoon escaped. Have you ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Here is where I had a full-on Clark W. Griswold tantrum/meltdown.

So on day four of the raccoons in the attic fiasco and day two of the great trapping fiasco (Sensing a pattern here?) one raccoon was trapped and taken away and two were still on the loose in our attic. The Orkin guy arrived and said he’d talk to his supervisor about what to do about the defective trap putting the whole process a day behind. The process being, us paying an upfront fee for them to come out, put traps on the roof, check the traps each day and take away and release the captured raccoons for five days; after those five days they charge $95 a day to come out to fill and check the traps and hopefully remove the trapped raccoons in them.  (We really need this to be completed in the 5 days, REALLY.)

Friday morning dawned with now two empty traps. Our daily visit with our friendly Orkin man brought about the information that they don’t work on weekends so the two traps on our roof will remain baited with food and open until Monday morning when our friendly Orkin man will come back and once again set them to spring closed if a raccoon goes in them. Monday is day five; a supervisor will be out to speak to us on Monday or Tuesday about an additional day based on the defective trap. I’m skeptical that at least one of them will never get back in a trap after being caught in the defective one for a few hours.

So here we are, Saturday afternoon, six days into the raccoons in the attic fiasco with at two or more raccoons living in our attic until at least Monday night. And; that peaceful month to focus, write, create, and update Soapboxville? Gone. With any luck I’ll pull myself together next week or the week after and get back down to the business at hand.

June 21, 2015

The Sounds of My City & Suburban Silence

Filed under: Blogging — Tags: , , , , , — Carol Anne @ 6:54 am
The Schuylkill Expressway

Long Exposure of the Schuylkill Expressway at night

Day 9 of Blogging 101 asked us to expound upon a comment we left on a blog on day 8; during which I’d commented on a post by Karen from Up the Country Lane; she wrote about the sounds of her country silence. In response, I wrote that I wasn’t sure what I would do with that depth of quiet and that although I have days when I long for a deep abiding silence and stillness I’m not sure I would ever be able to get used to that level of silence after a lifetime of the cacophony of sirens, incoming planes, and the traffic of city and suburban life. She wrote, even in the deep silence of the country there is noise, fluorescent lights, the hum of the fridge, and noisy Blue Jays manage to break the quiet calm of the bucolic hamlet. (I actually kind of love my backyard Blue Jays, but they are definitely the noisiest of the backyard bunch.)

Blue Jay with an Attitude

Hey where are those peanuts you promised?

I was ruminating on these thoughts when I remembered how silent the city is when heavy snow is falling. I lived my first 24 years of life in a house on the flight path to Philadelphia International Airport; the 3am plane flying so low the shelves in my bedroom shook. But whenever really big snowstorms closed the airport entirely and cleared the streets of traffic there was a fantastic silence; allowing the distant far off sounds of traffic lights changing color, train whistles from the 25th Street bridge, and the whirring of plane engines warming up to filter in to our consciousness. Now, I’m not a big fan of run of the mill snowstorms (talk to me when I’ve had to shovel 4-5 inches of snow off of the driveway), but there’s something poetic about big snowstorms bringing a whole city to a complete stop. It’s a peace and quiet calm that only those who’ve lived in places like Philadelphia understand.

Brrrrrr

Iced tea on the patio anyone?

But yet, as I sit here reminiscing about the quiet calm of Philadelphia during big snowstorms I can’t discount or overlook the truth that in the days following 9/11 I longed for the comfort of the familiar din of the constantly overhead planes and helicopters that provide the soundtrack of my daily life, it was eerie and uncomfortable without them. When I pray for peace, and silence, and stillness I forget to give the comfort of familiar sounds their due weight. It’s 6am and the helicopter is landing at the hospital across the street, the air conditioning just clicked on, the refrigerator is running, in the distance a dog is barking, and in an hour my cat will be meowing for her breakfast; I can hear the traffic from the main road getting started for the day. On most days I don’t even notice these sounds, they are my white noise and surprisingly my comfort; they are the sounds of my daily life and more beautiful and comforting than I understood before reading and ruminating on Karen’s own ruminations about her country silence.

June 17, 2015

Stepping Out of my Photographic Comfort Zone

Filed under: Photos — Tags: , , , , — Carol Anne @ 4:18 pm

Okay class, today we’re going to play show and tell. Since starting this Blogging 101 exercise I’ve told you I love taking photos, hell it’s even in my About Soapboxville page, but I haven’t shown you any of my photos.

Make no mistake about it; these are not, by any means, the best of my bunch. Practice makes perfect and I almost never get to take portrait photos, my normal photographic focus is landscapes, and oceans, and the occasional city skyline when I get the chance.

The following photos represent me being brave and stepping out of my comfort zone, they represent what is now becoming a passion. Shooting portraits is hard; people expect things of you, landscapes do not. People expect things like well-composed, bright, and clear photos they can use for things like engagement announcements, their yearly photos with the Easter Bunny, and beautiful photos of their beautiful newborn baby girl. You don’t have to worry about disappointing oceans, there is nothing I’d rather not do than disappoint anyone.

Foot

This first photo is from my very first portrait shoot, which was an assignment for the digital photography 101 class I was taking two years ago. One of our last assignments was to shoot portrait photos, so using Annie Leibovitz’s Disney Dream portraits as my inspiration I enlisted my best friend, headed out to a local park and spend a wonderful afternoon shooting photos of my beautiful best friend in a beautiful gown.

Engaged Love Hands

This second photo is from an engagement photo shoot I did for my then soon-to-be sister-in-law and brother-in-law at Love Park in Philadelphia. Not wanting to disappoint them with mediocre photos I bought a new camera and learned to do spot color in Gimp to add color back in to this photo.

Lunch with the Easter Bunny

This next photo (above) is probably one of my most proudest achievements. With two weeks to go I was asked to be the photographer at a fundraiser Lunch with the Easter Bunny benefit for a local girl suffering from Leukemia. The professional photographer wasn’t available to shoot the photos so I was asked to pitch in and take the photos. People were paying for these photos, this was a first for me so I freaked out, bought my first speedlight, and read, read, read, and read some more, then practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. I was so worried about disappointing the families paying to have their children’s picture taken with the Easter Bunny or hurting the fundraising effort by providing substandard photos. As it turns out, buying that speedlight was a great idea because as it turned out the photos with the Easter Bunny station was set up way in the back corner of the room with no lights at all.

Love Makes a Family

And this last photo is of my very beautiful newborn baby cousin’s feet being cradled in her mommy’s and daddy’s hands. I could have done a better job with this one; I accidentally cut off some of her daddy’s hands.

So, there you have it class, my new but not often indulged passion, portrait photography.

June 11, 2015

Blogging 101 Task #4 — Identify My Audience

Filed under: Blogging — Tags: , , , , — Carol Anne @ 11:49 pm

Are you my audience?

*looks up with big, pitiful, pleading eyes*

Did that just evoke a small pitiful orphan in rags asking, “Are you my daddy?” Yeah? You too? You’re probably my audience because we share similar sensibilities and senses of humor.

Now then, getting down to business. This exercise asks us to identify our audience; to really reach for the stars and identify just who we really, REALLYwant to read our blogs.

Well…


If I’m pipe dreaming and REALLY reaching for the stars, I’d very much like the editor of the New York Times op-ed page and whomever it is at Random House that gives book deals to new writers to read my ramblings and recognize my incredible (I’m a legend in my own mind, don’t’ you know?) talent and give me my own column and a book deal. Seriously, call me I’m ready, willing, and able.

But… All that said


I want you to be my reader. There was a question I forgot to answer in my introduction post, why I publish a public blog rather than keeping a private journal. I write a public blog because I want to be part of the public discourse. I want you to read along and say, “Me too!” Or, “OMG! What the hell is she thinking? Is she sniffing glue? She couldn’t be more wrong.” In my mind I’m a sit down with a cup of coffee and read along blogger.

Is your 81-year-old father sick and slowly dying of heart and kidney failure? Are you sad and scared? Did you just watch CNN’s amazing look at the television programs of the 1970s? Are you all choked up because these wonderfully written and colorful characters were real parts of your childhood? Did you have a brief obsession with reality TV until you realized reality TV is just people yelling at one another? Do you think the Democrats have no real contenders for the 2016 presidential race? Do you wonder with a sick fascination how many more Republicans will pile in to the 2016 primary race clown car? Did you wipe the kitchen counter down tonight with a Christmas dishtowel and realize that you haven’t bought new dishtowels since they were given to you in your wedding shower wishing well 19 years ago?

Yeah, I want you. You, the one with the leaky eyes, sentimental heart, and weird sense of humor; listening to an iTunes playlist that includes Bill Haley and the Comets, Kid Rock, The Sundays, Janis Joplin, the Blue Man Group, and The Killers? Yeah, you, you’re my people (bonus points if that brings to mind the little brother in Varsity Blues). You’re the people I want to read along with, laugh along with, question the sanity of society along with, and yes, even sometimes cry along with me. You, you’re my audience.

Now, if anyone knows the guy at Random house I won’t be angry with you if you tell him to give me a call. I’m just sayin’.

Blogging 101 Task #1 — (re) Introduce Myself

Filed under: Blogging — Tags: , , , , , , , — Carol Anne @ 1:36 am

do something that scares you every day …  (really? do i have to? do the 7 surgeries and 32 radiation treatments count for a lifetime of doing something that scares me every day?)

a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step … (and about a thousand bucks, i don’t have a thousand bucks, my single step leads out to the mailbox or to the couch to watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix.)

go big, or go home … (define big. can’t i go home and sit on the couch without having first gone big? my big is finally washing those four loads of laundry i’ve ignored all week.)

Have you ever noticed that the big bloggers have big personalities and big lives?

Yeah, I’m not that woman, and I’m definitely not that blogger. Nope. Not me. I’m an average woman leading a thoroughly average life. I’m a wife to a very understanding hubby, I’m a mom to two beautiful, albeit very uncooperative, cats; I’m a former resources editor, and I’m a (so far) three-year cancer survivor.

I’ve been working on a non-bucket list bucket list alternately titled, “Shit I Ain’t Never Gonna Do.” On it are things like skydiving, wrestling crocodiles, walking on hot coals, and/or snake handling. I’m afraid of fire, heights, spiders, elevators, and drowning, so if you’re looking for danger girl she definitely doesn’t live here.

I’m sarcastic, snarky, curious, wordy, and occasionally articulate and insightful. So if you’re looking for a really clumsy sarcastic blogger with strong opinions on just about everything, and who finds herself wondering what became of everyone’s common sense then I’m probably your new blog reader addition.

Here at Soapboxville 2.0 you’ll find lots of photo posts, lots of disjointed rambling posts about the world going to hell in a hand basket, and the occasional well-thought-out essay on topics near and dear to my heart like politics and the new fall season on TV.

April 21, 2015

Musings on a Tough Semester

Filed under: Soul Baring Ramblings — Tags: — Carol Anne @ 12:00 am

I’m tired. This has been a really long and humbling semester. It has been a very long time since I’ve had to struggle through learning something. The last time I took a math or science class it was 1988 and my sophomore year in high school. I’m an insane perfectionist and I often choose to not tackle anything I don’t think I can excel at or intimidates me.

When I first started at MK it was intimidating to be the only one who wasn’t college educated and I was asking for and actually doing a job I wasn’t trained for, but as time went on I got good at my job and gained confidence. So it’s been at least 12 or 13 years since I’ve had to jump in with both feet and either sink or swim and I was a lot younger back then. I’d forgotten how intimidating and humbling it is to not know how to do something or to not just be intrinsically good at something.

I’ve felt small and stupid and less than since this semester began. The professor hasn’t exactly been prompt in grading our work so Id not’ have any of my grades for the second section labs nor do I have the grades for the labs I’ve turned in for this section so there’s a great deal of uncertainty, which if you know anything about me you know totally unhinges me. The perfectionist in me wants and needs an A, the realist in me knows that I need a C so I’ll be able to transfer the credits to a four-year college, the hopeful part of my soul hopes for a B but there are are 60 lab points and 50 assignment points sitting out there unassigned and ungraded. 110 points are the difference between passing easily and failing miserably.

I’ll take the last test and last quiz tomorrow and that’s another 125 points out there.

I’m really at my stress limit. I can’t wait for this class to be over.

April 10, 2015

Writing 101: Forgiveness in 100 Words

Filed under: Blogging,Fiction — Tags: , , — Carol Anne @ 1:37 pm

I am participating in Writing 101 on WordPress.com

“You and me, we’re okay, you’re forgiven,” read the note scribbled into the sand. Scribbled safely away from the tide, the note lingered there for days. Each evening I saw her come and light the candles around it. Each night I watched her sit there sobbing; until regret, time, tide, and the salty sea air extinguished each candle. And then one day the tide came in higher than normal and washed the note away, she didn’t come that night nor did she any evening after that. I never saw the lonely woman again. I hoped she too had been forgiven.

Writing 101: 3 Songs, Lots of Emotions

I am participating in Writing 101 on WordPress.com

This started out as the reply to exercise three, which was supposed to be about three of my favorite songs. The exercise directed to just empty my head and write about the emotions connected to these songs. I was sort of stumped because at the time I couldn’t think of three favorite songs. I have so many and I love music so much I wasn’t sure I could pick three. And so I started with “Name” by Goo Goo Dolls and wrote about how the words of this mournful tune whispered in my ear while listening to my headphones on a SEPTA bus on my way to work. The words seeped in to my soul and have remained there. I thought perhaps I would stick with just writing about this one song and call it a day. Because really it just resonates with me to this day. It still makes me cry every time I hear it.

I still had time on the clock and I searched my heart and mind and then it happened, “Galileo” by Indigo Girls popped in to my mind. And I remembered it was the lyrics to this song I posted the day after finding out that the possibility existed that after the first round of 32 radiation treatments there was still cancer there. (FYI: Blessedly, a follow up MRI in October confirmed all the cancer was in fact gone.) Here is where all the emotions connected to that song and that moment came rushing to the top. And it was here where I walked away from this exercise. I thought to myself, how did I get through the day and the days and weeks that followed? How did I wake up every morning and live my life? How did I make it to October?

I was suddenly anxious and upset and I just shut down. I’m not sure the person I am today could be the person I was four years ago. I went back and reread a few of the blog entries that followed and I can’t imagine how I was that strong and resilient. Truth be told, I haven’t read back on many of the 365 Days of Carol Anne posts, but I do believe they are my best writing ever. I freely, openly, and fearlessly wrote my truth on a daily basis for an entire year: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the even uglier. It’s been almost four years since that day, but in that instant, while working on this exercise, I was transported back to that August morning in the neurosurgeon’s examining room, and all the fear and sorrow and loss that I felt came rushing back at me like a tsunami and ran me over like a steamroller.

I know this was supposed to be about our three favorite songs and the emotions connected to them but this writing exercise, which is now two days late, became so much more and took on a life of its own so it took me a few days to actually work through the emotions and put pen to paper and commit this to the web.

Oh, and for the record and to actually complete the exercise, I’ll add “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison as the third favorite song. I heard it during a lovely scene in the movie “Immediate Family” and fell instantly in love with this beautiful song.

April 8, 2015

Writing 101: Where Would I Go?

Filed under: Blogging — Tags: , , , , — Carol Anne @ 1:06 pm
"Sunset in Cape May"

Sunset at Sunset Beach

I am participating in Writing 101 on WordPress.com

If I could zoom through time and space at the speed of light I would go to the ocean: my ocean, Sunset Beach, Cape May, New Jersey. I will always go to the ocean. It’s where I am most whole and most at peace. Standing on Sunset Beach at Cape May Point at the end of the world before Mother Ocean fills me with the belief that I am part of the infinite universe. It is here, at the end of the land, wrapped in Mother Ocean’s comforting embrace where I believe most deeply in God’s grace and glory.

Here at the southernmost point in New Jersey you can watch the sun set below the horizon without an obstruction. The sun dips below the horizon as day fades into night. The quiet and stillness of the moment when the dark overtakes the light and blue hour begins is awe-inspiring. It could very well be my imagination but at that moment when the darkness settles over the island the world stops spinning and a hush and stillness blankets the land. All is right with the world for a few fleeting quiet moments.

April 6, 2015

Writing 101: 20 Minutes to Write and Unlock My Mind

Filed under: Blogging — Tags: , , , — Carol Anne @ 1:57 pm

I’m participating in Writing 101 on WordPress.com

Twenty minutes to sit here, write, and unlock my mind. I really hope I get to see this Writing 101 exercise through. I signed up for this exercise and Blogging 101 back in September and my father fell seriously ill and my grandmother-in-law passed away in the same 7 days. September turned in to this surreal nightmare of a month, the likes of which I would not wish on anyone.

In addition to missing out on this exercise I missed out on Photography Week on Creative live and a free portrait photography shoot I had planned in the park to practice my portrait photography skills. I really hope it’s a quiet and peaceful spring and I can complete this exercise, finish this semester’s Earth Science class with a good grade, and the weather finally warms up so I can get back out birding and walking and visiting the ocean.

Yesterday I was reading spring and summer bucket lists. (Can we come up with a better name for this? Please and thank you.) Of course I have original ideas for my own list, but I saw two on other people’s lists that I think I will add to my own; blowing bubbles and flying a kite. I’ve never flown a kite so this now ranks high atop my spring/summer to do list.

A few things I’d like to do before spring gets too warm and too buggy are to get back to Jake’s Landing to do more birding and to get back to Cumberland County to go to Heislerville to find Turkey Point and Matt’s Landing. I’d also like to finally make it to the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge in Philly before it gets too buggy around here. (I don’t do bugs.)

I really hope to make it down to Cape May before the spring migration season is over. It was such a brutally cold February and March and it’s turning out to be a rainy April. I’m really sick of being cold, wet, or stuck inside. I can’t wait to take more walks at Palmyra Nature Cove, and Red Bank Battlefield, and out at Riverwinds. I want to go back to Morris Arboretum to see the cherry blossoms when they finally bloom later this month.

Spring has been a long time coming this year and it seems like it’s been light years since last September when I first missed this exercise. Bright sunshine and flowing words and creativity would be a nice respite from the cold, dark months that have sapped my creativity.

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