There's no question in my mind that I have a slight attention issue.  I jump from thing to thing quicker than a fly poops on your skin after it lands.  Now, most of the time this is somewhat of a problem.  When I introduce myself to someone, by the time they tell me their name I have already started to think about the picture that's hanging on the wall behind them or the fact that I forgot to buy deodorant when I was at the store.  I also have been known to walk away in the middle of a conversation because I forgot I was even having a conversation; my mind had already moved on to what jewelry I was going to wear the next day.  

However, there are a few times where I am actually pleased as punch that I can't stay focused on one thing.  It allows me to get a freakish amount of things accomplished at one time, it has given me a fairly decent sense of humor, and it has resulted in some photographs being taken that I cherish. 

Whenever I look at the folder of pictures after I download them from my card, I can't help but laugh.  It's like I can read my mind when I look through them.  It starts with pictures that make sense like people looking and smiling or the action of an event unfolding.  Then, all of a sudden random, odd pictures start showing up and I can tell that I was pinging. 

The thing is sometimes those "pinging" pictures tell emotions or capture a moment better than the "sensible" pictures.  For instance, this picture is of fruit pizza (you are all saying, "thank you Captain Obvious" right now but I'm ok with that).  It's not an earth shaking picture but everytime I look at it I think about last Easter and how Grandma sat and cut all of those grapes in half.  Last spring is about the time she started to go down hill and she was having a great day; we were laughing, joking, and enjoying each other's company.  She even asked me if I was Japanese that day.  I told her no.  The fruit pizza making was one of the last times I felt like Grandma was Grandma and I love this picture because it brings that right back to me.   

Now this one is definitely not a high quality picture, but it makes me laugh out loud everytime.  I snapped it when I was taking Christmas pictures of my best friend's kids.  They are two and one and were not having it.  Best friend was getting frustrated so I grabbed this stuffed pig from the floor and said, "Hey watch this, here's your Christmas card."  Of course the pig sat still and smiled and the goofiness of the moment took just enough of the edge off the kids.  It turned out best friend didn't have to use the pig card. 

This is from an awesome day of creativity; it brings me right back to drinking a fruit smoothie and painting pottery.  It's simply a heart happy picture. 

This one seriously takes the cake for being the oddest picture I've ever taken.  It's from "Happy Trails."  The horse trip to the Badlands that was an amazing time with Mom, Sister Pister, and some friends.  We didn't have modern amenities so this was breakfast on the grill.  It's not that I absolutely love french toast or bacon, it's that I absolutely love that we lived simply for a weekend. 

This is my nephew, or I should say, this is the back of my nephew's head.  He really is a little farm boy already who loves to play with anything animal or tractor.  And that ear sticking out?  I can't even handle it! 

Most pictures from Christmas are of people with their gifts or of family spending time together, but this picture reminds me that Christmas is also a time when I need to slow down, take in the moment, and remember the reason. 

Another "Happy Trails" snap.  The rustic log cabin against the Badlands; well, they go together better than vacuuming and dusting.  And that's a serious amount of togetherness. 

The Bible in this picture was at a wedding reception I shot.  Every woman who has been married in the bride's family since the 1920's has signed their new name in this Bible on their wedding day.  I found this out after I had taken the picture.  What an awesome keepsake. 

These cakes are from my niece and nephew's birthday party.  They are proof of how great of a mother my sister-in-law is.  I mean seriously...look at those bananas! 

My niece just might have some of my pinginess.  No, it's more than a just might situation; she does.  I love her for it.  This was a quiet moment in our playing and being crazy; she was so proud of that little lady bug. 

Uffff...I actually get a little ticked looking at these Yahtzee cards.  One is mine and one is my uncle's.  He thinks he is "The King" of Yahtzee (he also is "The King" of the BS); we had the same score when we both added the first time.  I was beyond excited to have tied, but he just couldn't accept it so he re-added and turned out he actually won.  Kills me! 

Dear Attention Issue,

I don't thank you for making me look like an idiot sometimes, but I do thank you for giving me a different outlook on life.  I don't thank you for the "neutral incident" at the car wash (that's a story for another day), but I do thank you for my ability to do a crazy amount of multi-tasking.  It's a hate/love relationship I have with you.  The above pictures are the love part of the relationship...enjoy them Attention Issue because tomorrow?  Well, tomorrow I just might hate you. 




I love North Dakota.  Seriously, I do.  We are in the middle of a little breezy day.  Really it's just a walk in the park.  I woke up at four o'clock this morning to check cancellations and keep an eye on the weather.  No cancellation for this girl so off I went...good thing I didn't get far; my phone rang with the news of a late start.  Whoo hoo!  At least I'll be able to travel in the daylight I thought to myself.  So back to my house I went to drink some more coffee and watch music videos.  Then, it was time to leave for the second time.  The light did not help.  Not one little bit.  But, I'm not the kind of person to just not go to work so I kept going. 

I changed my route three times.  I had a nervous breakdown.  I couldn't find the road.  I cried.  I prayed.  I talked to my vehicle.  I called my family.  I called my boss seven times.  I called his boss (my big, big boss) one time.  I lost my mind.  I had another nervous breakdown.  I hear from the big, big boss that no work today after all.  Perfect. 

I drove home.  I changed routes only once (my head is not just a hat rack).  I had a nervous breakdown.  I couldn't find the road.  I cried.  I prayed.  I talked to my vehicle.  I called my family.  I didn't call my boss.  I didn't call the big, big boss.  I found my mind.  I took some pictures. 

I only took pictures when it wasn't so bad.  I'm not crazy enough to take pictures when I can't find the road.  Now, that would be just plain ridiculous.  I also didn't stop or get out of the vehicle to take pictures for the fear of getting slammed into.  That would also be plain ridiculous.  So these are through the window. 

Hello lovvaaa.  Yellow line -- I heart you.  Seriously, more than my toothpaste even. 

Ok, yep, it might have reared up again.  I put the camera away at this point.  I swear. 

It "cleared" up again for a minute.  Tree out there -- I feel ya.  Standing all alone, facing the world.  You can do it Lone Ranger.  You can. 

I've always wanted to try those self portraits in the rear view mirror and really, why not try that in the middle of a blizzard?

I said to myself.  "Self.  This is not a good idea right now."  So I quit that nonsense...until I was safe in my driveway.  This is my I fought the blizzard and won look. 

Please ignore the eyebrows.  I was supposed to have a hair appointment/eyebrow wax this afternoon.  Yeah.  That's not going to happen.  Unruly eyebrows unite! 

I then realized I had actually bitten a little hole in my lip during the white knuckled, jaw clenched drive.  Sweet.  Did I mention I love North Dakota?



People of Haiti -- my heart is with you.  It's at times like these when I realize that my little stresses in life are nothing.  I have a warm place to live, food, clean water, a job, a family, and the list goes on and on.  I'll take my little everyday issues because they tell me I'm living.

I went to visit my neice and nephew (and their parents of course) this evening to get some good family time in.  I couldn't help but giggle at their young, carefree spirits.  My neice is quite the little firecracker and my nephew is an easy rider.  Firecracker was reading me a Fancy Nancy book and using words like compromise, heirlooom, and extravagent and then would look up at me and say, "That means..."  Easy Rider was running around with a blaze orange stocking hat perched on his head, sunglasses on his face backwards, a play screwdriver in his left hand, and his CAT cell phone in his right hand, all the while telling us he was going to work.

It's during moments like those when I realize just how good life is.  Even though it can be a gong show at times, it's still sweet.  Crazy weeks and all. 


The Seniors of 2010

I had the honor of shooting three seniors this year...taking their picture, not actually shooting.  Three was the perfect number this year between grad school, writing my thesis, mowing my lawn, emptying my dishwasher, you know...life gets busy!  They were all unique in their interests and styles and were such a good time. 

I'll start with Elizabeth.  She's a vibrant thing who just jumps in with both feet.  We fought mock-10 winds the whole day, but she was a trooper.  She also found me quite entertaining which is always nice.

Next was Jessica, actually she was a friend of Elizabeth's who came along for pictures too.  She's a girl who stays true to herself...I could just tell the minute I met her.  Also, she has one blue eye and one brown eye which is amazing!  She told me when she was a kid it wasn't so amazing to have that going on.  It was then I realized my first assessment of her was correct...strong girl.   

Last, but certainly not least, was Ian.  Ian is a boy who loves his cows.  I seem to end up taking pictures of boys and their cows quite frequently.  Good thing I have a lot of experience in the cow area because they end up sniffing me and trying to run me over while I'm taking the pictures.  I forgot my flash in the pasture with Ian's cows and what followed was an interesting conversation between myself and a cow while I snuck slowly and carefully up to the cow in a half squat, half walk, real graceful like move.  It went something like this...
"Ok, little mama, I'm just going to creep up next to you here and grab that flash that's two inches away from your hoof."
"I just need you to not move so you don't crush my flash."
"Mooo (head swing), moooooo."
"Ok, mmmhhmm, yep, I'm almost there.  You are so pretty (I was pulling anything out at this point).  Please don't move."
"Oh, I'm right here..."
Then, I proceeded to carefully reach down and grab my flash and skidaddled outta there real quick!  I told Ian next time I was charging extra for cows.

Obviously the last picture was taken at a later date.  Ian's mom promised me a pontoon ride at the lake this summer with some yummy beverages if I came and took pictures of Ian with his hunting gear after the first snow.  It was an offer I couldn't refuse.  She also promised that this time I wouldn't have to sweet talk any cows. 



There’s this new twist on New Year’s resolutions going around...it’s called “Word of the Year.” Basically, you pick a word that is going to be your inspiration for the upcoming year.  I’ve always been one that enjoys a twist so instead of doing resolutions for 2010, I picked my word.


It’s the first word that popped into my head when I thought about where I wanted to focus my energy.
I want to serve others by lending a helping hand when needed.
I want to serve myself by making wise choices about my own life.

When I think of the word serve, I can not help but think of my Grandma. My family has been missing Grandma since September. I miss her everyday. For real. I had no way of knowing the true magnitude of her presence on my life until her physical presence was no longer.

Grandma was the epitome of the word serve.  She straight up would help anyone before herself. The most impactful set of memories I have involve Grandma and Mrs. Cox. Mrs. Cox was an older lady who lived in our small town when I was growing up. She had a developmentally disabled son who most were afraid of. Mrs. Cox was odd; she lived in what could be considered a shack, she was a hoarder, and her appearance was disheveled.

Mrs. Cox had no vehicle. She and her son were outcasts. They were poor. They were alone. They had no way of getting groceries and other household goods.

Grandma saw this need and grandma filled this need. Grandma took Mrs. Cox and her son to town a couple times a month. She would take them wherever they needed to go and I know she paid for many of their needs out of her own pocket. I know this because Grandma took me with many times on her trips with Mrs. Cox. I was young, probably around five or six, and I vividly remember people staring at us. It never fazed Grandma a bit. She would just say to me when I was scared of Mrs. Cox and her son, “Amy, they are people and they need our help.”

Whenever we would get back to the small town, Mrs. Cox would always invite us in because even though she had her struggles, she was not lacking in gratitude. Grandma would not bat an eye and accept the invitation into her home.

I was sitting on Grandma’s lap, scared and judgmental when Mrs. Cox would ask me questions about how old I was or what I liked to do. I would try to not answer or look down when I answered. Grandma would say, “She can’t hear you, you better say it again.”  I wonder if Grandma knew just how much she was teaching me through her actions.  I sure hope so. 

When Grandma was slipping away from us, all I could keep thinking about was her hands.  Her serving hands.

The last time Grandma held my hand, I captured the moment.  I wanted to treasure it forever. 

I sat down that night at my computer and wrote this for Grandma.

Grandma left the physical world the next day.  As I was driving home from work, this was the sunset.  I knew the beauty and fierceness of it was no coincidence.  It gave me peace to know she was home. 

My word of the year for 2010...
Because of the impact of this lady.


My Letter

Dear Garage,

I know you are out there somewhere.  We just haven't met yet.  I'm sure you are wishing for me just as much as I'm hoping for you.  I think we could have the perfect relationship; you could keep me warm and I would drive all over you.  I hope to hear from you soon.   

Not so patiently waiting,
Garageless in North Dakota



The holiday season is gone for another year.  It's time to get back to routine and regular life.  I'm pretty sure that means I am going to have to get up before 9:00, put the junk food down, and quit going out on the town like I'm a newly minted twenty-one year old.  Ahhh...let's just have a silent moment.  Ok, I think I can move on. 

Of course The Christmas isn't just about getting and giving gifts, but it's still enjoyable to get and to give every once in awhile.  I didn't walk away from The Christmas empty handed; I got a fabulous new camera bag, some sweet gift cards, a "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster from Sister Pister (I'm trying not to think that was a hint), etc... 

But, bar none, the most meaningful gift I received was a handmade quilt from Mom. 

I actually think even Dad-o helped some.  He's good like that; a farmer by trade, the man also is one heck of a gourmet chef and will help Mom with all of her projects...only in the winter though! 

Mom put in many hours to create this HUGE quilt.  I will treasure it forever.  The quilt...not the hours.  I feel like she was thinking about me and all of the joy I have brought her over the years.  Maybe she even thought about some of the times I haven't brought her so much joy over the years.

Either way, it's nice to know that Mom loves me enough to make me something that isn't just pieces of fabric put together...it's pieces of her and my relationship.  Most importantly, it's pieces of her.  And, what better gift could there be than that. 

I am a middle child and have all of the middle child tendencies.  Because of this, I have to share what I gave to my parents.  I picked out my favorite candid photographs that I have taken over the year of our family and made collages.  I had them printed with a metallic finish on matboard so they don't need to be framed; they are all 11x14 and I think if you click on them, you can see them larger. 

One focused on my brother, sister-in law, their two, too cute for words, kiddos, and their ranching way of life.  A couple of the pictures from working cattle were captured by my cousin, Brian.  Have to give credit where credit is due.

One focused on our family's harvest.  Harvest is my favorite season.  We all band together and do what it takes to get the job done.  I even dumped trucks in heels one evening after working a full day at my real job.

One focused on a trip that Mom, Sister Pister, and I (along with some other friends) took this summer.  We loaded up the horses, left running water, make-up, men, hairspray, and most modern conveniences behind to stay in a one room cabin in the North Dakota badlands.  It was an AMAZING time of riding horse, laughter, testing personal limits, and bonding.  We called the trip "Happy Trails" and it is going to be an annual thing. 

One focused on Sister Pister because she is still in high school and lives at home.  She doesn't have that stylin' senior picture headshot on the wall yet.  It doesn't hurt either that she is extremely beautiful and takes a great picture.  She loves her horses, maybe even more than she loves me.  It's still up in the air. 

The final one focuses on everyone, in all of our craziness, from all year long.  It makes my heart happy. 

Mom and Dad-o seem to like them; Mom's been showing them to everyone, even the UPS guy.  They don't compare to the quilt, but I hope they will provide a way to remember all the goodness that was 2009.