2020 – A year behind glass

Hey there 2020, I’ve spent so much time silently glaring and swearing at you it’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end. Like many of you I’ve read and followed each ugly news story knowing I need to stop the doom scrolling but it’s tough to turn away from so many stories of sorrow and outrage. I’m taking baby steps toward more positive online interactions, dipping my toes back into Instagram and reaching out to friends I’ve not connected with in far too long hoping the simple exercise of looking for share worthy moments reminds things weren’t terrible and frightening all the time.

One thing stands out to me today is how much of this year has been lived behind or viewed through glass. Windows, electronic screens and yes, even wine glasses have become our new connection points bringing both joy and frustration while also framing of some of my favorite photos from the past 12 months. In classic Northwest Frame of Mind style let’s take a look.

February 29th, Leap Day, was the last time John, Ryan and I attended a large gathering, spending the afternoon at a wine tasting event filled with fresh food, live music and plenty of lovely wine. COVID was a nervous whisper in the background, no one was sure if it would really change things, but we were starting to consider stocking up on a extra groceries and maybe staying home for a few weekends just to be safe.

Three months later we were still home every weekend watching the world transform into a strange and scary place. As essential workers our days were condensed to quick commutes (no traffic) and changed workplaces filled with the new norms of masks, sanitizing stations and very few coworkers. All of this left me with very little to see that was new so I turned my gaze back to happier days and picked some favorite photos for artistic makeovers. All editing done through a screen on my iPad.

By July a few areas of our state reopened for small gatherings and we decided to risk a trip to the islands. We rented a house, filled our car with a weeks worth of groceries and took the quietest summer ferry trip I’ve ever experienced. A normal travel year meant 3-4 hour waits to board a boat, then windswept walks along the outside upper decks while sailing to our destination. This year there were no lines, half empty boats and loudspeaker recordings announcing we weren’t allowed to leave our cars for the duration of the trip. The silver lining was a front row position where we could watch the water through our windshield. Safe in our bubble, behind the glass.

We had a lovely week, sleeping in, hiking on quiet trails, skipping rocks on empty beaches and on our last night away I took this photo from the car window as Ryan drove us back to the rental for one final sunset BBQ.

We remained close to home for the rest of the summer, avoiding crowds and trying to make simple life feel fun while hoping we could escape the small circle of our new reality for some fall hiking. Wildfire season put a stop to that as you can see from this photo, taken from my dining room window at noon on September 12th. With air quality ratings in the very unhealthy/hazardous range our last month of potential PNW sunshine was spent inside, in front of windows and more screens.

The end of summer meant election season was front and center and with it came more changes, this time to my volunteering plans. I usually spend hours in September and October phone banking and canvasing for favorite candidates and in 2020, with so much on the line, we had planned to spend most weekends in October getting out the vote. I still logged plenty of volunteer hours but this time they were spent virtually as a member of both national and state level digital outreach teams. Yep, more screen time. Most of our chosen candidates won their races though and on November 10th John, Ryan and I toasted Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as they were announced President Elect and Vice-President Elect.

My final image is the December photo that inspired this year-end post. Once again I was inside looking out but an evening of couch time, quietly editing photos on my phone while John and Ryan watched tv left me with one image I really liked. Thoughts of a years worth of views filtered and compressed through lenses, windows, mirrors and screens came together and here we are closing 2020 behind two layers of glass, facing forward with the past in a mirror. Cheers to a brighter, clearer, safer and happier 2021!

Illustrate

Interesting phenomena occur when two or more rhythmic patterns are combined, and these phenomena illustrate very aptly the enrichment of information that occurs when one description is combined with another.

Gregory Bateson

We’ve spent the spring inside, unable to visit parks, beaches, wide open spaces.. This sudden onset of an unwelcome new-normal pushed me to reevaluate favorite views through a changed perspective, searching for new techniques to create images more appropriate to where we find ourselves. An artistic shift to renew, reuse and recycle as I view our natural surroundings through the surreal framing of present time and social distance instead of the past-normal habits of easy travel and casual conversations.

Representations of natural elements and the dynamics of family connections have shifted to focus on color and emotion instead of traditional photo realism. An opportunity to capture singular feelings of mystery, nature, freshness and color. We’re staying home together yet looking out to a new, changed future.

Filled with contradictions I have pages of ideas and images to share but these budding stories conflict with an equally sharp need for privacy. For safety in the quiet solitude of home, my carefully controlled space. I want to go exploring, leave the boundaries of my yard, but I also want to stay inside just a little longer. The desire to re-engage in public life warring with the desire for privacy. It’s hard to find a middle ground when everything shifts by the hour.

As I work through my own conflicting thoughts I’m spending time immersed in two different creative styles and techniques expressing different emotions. Green, lyrical and peaceful balanced with red, bold and loud. Moods and emotions complementing this time of intense change and growth.

Letting the days go by

Kalaloch Beach, WA

And you may ask yourself, well

How did I get here?

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Hello, I’ve missed you all! Last spring I didn’t think taking a short break would lead to anything more than a chance to catch my breath but here we are, catching up after more than a year and quite a few changes. I’ve had a lot of time to think about if I wanted to return to blogging, wondering if I had anything unique to say in these strange times and I changed my mind multiple times yes/no/yes/no/maybe but one constant was the fact that I couldn’t stop hearing The Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime. I took it as a sign.

You may ask yourself

What is that beautiful house?

You may ask yourself

Where does that highway go to?

And you may ask yourself

Am I right? Am I wrong?

And you may say yourself

“My God! What have I done?”

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Seven years ago I was an excited newbie, unsure if anyone would be interested in my Pacific Northwest photos but I had experiences I wanted to share and a desire to try something new. I learned a lot, met some truly wonderful people and slowly but surely grew my audience. At my peak I was posting seven days per week with an engaged audience and felt like I’d really found my stride.

Life goes on though, I ran short on time to take new photographs, home improvement projects were put on hold and I came to rely on the WordPress weekly photo challenge for interesting blog prompts. The task of meeting a random word or phrase with something relevant to my niche of family, travel and PNW scenery was fun for me and when it ended I’ll admit I felt a little lost. I know a blogger should be able to plan their own material but again, I liked the challenge aspect and when this ended my enthusiasm for the platform waned. I’ve continued to share photos and comments on Instagram and Twitter but the longer form of illustrated posts and storytelling wasn’t where my heart was.

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Look where my hand was

Time isn’t holding up

Time isn’t after us

Same as it ever was

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Before my break I tried to return to the photo-a-day format that had worked so well in the past but life got in the way. I made a huge career change, leaving the industry I’d been a part of for 25 years, family members faced renewed health challenges, chapters ended and new doors opened. Each piece brought new demands and left me with little free time for independent thought or, if I’m being honest, even time to step outside and take a photo. The things that had held me creatively engaged for so many years seemed out of reach. For most of this time I simply hung on and kept moving forward, taking care of what was right in front of me while trying to keep my head above water.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down

Letting the days go by, water flowing underground

Into the blue again into the silent water

Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Some things have settled, some I’ve grown accustomed to and some I’m resigned to wait out but finally, I’m feeling the need to rejoin aspects of my past that fed my creative side so here I am brainstorming how to share interesting content while keeping the process fun. I’m looking forward to writing again, using words for more than business correspondence and quick conversation but the (self-induced) pressure of returning to my old style and posting calendar has held me back from fully committing to a return. It all felt too hard and not authentic as our life has changed and my creative outlook adapted.

Letting the days go by

Same as it ever was

And here the twister comes

Here comes the twister

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Just because I haven’t posted here doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about blogging though, my old habit of keeping lists and journal notes for inspiration has continued, now I’m looking to them for direction and clarity of purpose. I have pages filled with one word blog prompts, thoughts about why I started Northwest Frame of Mind and notes-to-self about finding my own voice and being emotionally honest with words. I suspect many of these will appear here as I work through what makes me happy and how I can share something of value in a very crowded space. My posts may be infrequent but they will be authentic and I’ll continue to frame each entry with a PNW focus as it’s our home and a thing I love. My hope is as I continue to explore a few of you will trust me enough to follow along.

Kalaloch Beach, WA