If you build it

Good evening where ever in the world you are. Today I set my website Your Pain is Showing on the world as I need help. Part of the reason that it took so long was my own insecurities. However, I knew it was time to start moving forward with it before I talked myself out of doing it. I am hoping to meet other artists and people that deal with chronic pain or illnesses or grief. Only four years ago my hubby was recovering from surgery for colon cancer and I remember that he had only been home a short time when he picked a guitar up and started playing. I noticed he played often when I knew he was hurting. That always stuck with me and didn’t really think that I was using my hobby to relieve pain. Now I realize that yes, I was using my camera to drown out the pain and sometimes help when I was out watching hubby’s band play. Sometimes I am uncomfortable around people and yes, social anxiety can be painful, sometimes crippling. Anyhow, here is a short video explaining my story and the goal of the pain project. However, I am becoming more social when I am out even as painful as it is. So my hobby has helped in many ways.

These are some of the photos I have taken in the past two years.

If you are reading and you are interested in helping or would like to be included in the project, you can contact me here or email info@keenfern.com. I am not looking to profit on this or anyone’s pain. My goal is to raise money for the Cauda Equina Foundation. This group is making strides in educating physicians to the red flags of this syndrome. Everyday, there are people silently or maybe not so silently suffering from this Syndrome and have been waiting to be properly diagnosed. I was one of the people and waited over 10 years for relief. Honestly, there were times that I was amazed that I woke up in the morning as I had tried to drown out the pain with what ever drug and vice I could get my hands on. Luckily for me, interventions helped and luckily I intervened for myself just prior to surgery when I demanded to see a different doctor who finally got me to where I need to go for the right treatment.

Thank you for reading and I hope to find some artists out there to interview and showcase on the site. People that would like to get their story out there and show off their work, sing their songs. Where ever you are have a good night and sleep well.

March On

Hello there and good morning or good day where ever in the world you are. Thank you to the new subscribers and all the readers that stop by for a visit! I am still trying to figure out me and the blog and the direction that it will be going. Last August was an exciting month as I recall. Yesterday, I posted photos from a JBLZE concert and today as I look through more files I see that last August was very busy. The Ghosts of Kelso had a few gigs and I had I traveled to Federal Way, Washington to see my niece get married. I do need to start studying these as I will be shooting a wedding in September for the child of a dear high school friend. I spoke with her Mom a few weeks after my surgery and she asked the question I get from many of my friends and family, “How much do you charge for a wedding?” We talked for a bit and I happily agreed to photograph the wedding as she mentioned that her daughter liked the photos I took of a friends wedding. In my head I already knew what the cost would be and how many hours I would need to put into it. It was going to cost nothing but my time and effort as cards prices are dropping. I could never charge a family or friend, ever!!! The memories that I hold from high school and of the brides father are priceless and I thank him and his wife for being my friend through all the years and miles. Just the fact that they are inviting hubby and I to their daughters wedding was enough of an honor. I really would like to visit the area before the wedding to get a feel for the layout and lighting during the wedding time and the reception so I can be sure to get any issues out of the way. Why am thinking about this and preparing. I am not a trained wedding photographer nor am I planning on making a career out of it. Below are photos from my first attempt at shooting a wedding, again, that also was for a high school friend.

That day, I was all over the place. I worried about getting in the shots of the other photographer that was a complete surprise to me when I arrived to take her photos. She must have been a pro as she was all up in the areas that I wanted to shoot. So, me used to having to shoot photo on the sly at concerts, I went into stalker mode and started shooting from the outskirts of the wedding. Really, as I look at these photos, I am looking at candid memories not staged or posed. Like when shooting live music, I can never tell an artist to “hold that pose please.” I love when I actually capture a natural pose and it tells a story.

Then a few weeks later I traveled with my hubby to Idyllwild as he was playing with the Ghosts of Kelso, the night before the wedding. I must add that we also were in attendance for Country Night because Neil Morrow was playing at Lit Lounge and I wanted to check it out. I just found the card! I thought it was lost when I spilled coffee on my desk, glad that the card survived. Below are a few from Neil Morrow’s show.

The next night we traveled up the 74 to the Idyllwild Brew Pub. During that summer, California had been on fire. The Ghosts had a one of their gigs at the Brewpub canceled as the fires in their area were getting out of control. I prayed for all those that we had met the past times GOK had played either there or at Idyology. It was sad driving through the burned areas and seeing the scorched trees but it was good to know that we were going back to a business that was not affected. To any of you reading this, that little town is still in recovery and many of their businesses have been affected. If ever making plans to see California and you are in the area do check out Idyllwild and all their businesses. You will be happy you did.

It was nice to be back at the Idyllwild Brew Pub. The staff is amazing and the food is equally as good and the patrons, however, my draw to Idyilwild is the people. We have met some of the grooviest people and so happy and relaxed. Some of my favorite shots of the Ghosts have been taken there and they include the patrons. Here are a few shots from that night.

We left there that night and arrived back at homebase around 1:15 AM. My flight was leaving at 7 AM from Palm Springs airport and I was flying alone as hubby had to work. I too had to work. I had requested time-off but when our store lost an employee I took up the slack and cancelled my time-off. I had planned on staying in Seattle for a few days to check out the area as I had never been there. Maybe next time. The first flight was to San Francisco. On that flight I met another female videographer and hopefully we will be in contact again as she does some amazing work.

The whole 24 hours was a blur. Below are some of the shots from that day directly from the card.

One day, hopefully soon, I will return to Washington State. If Federal Way was that pretty I can only imagine what the rest of the state looks like.

It is funny how during that time, I was worried about the flight because I knew I would be in pain but if I would have just sat back and tried to quiet my pain, I would have missed so much. Life happens and there is no stopping it. When your time is up it doesn’t care about you dreams and unaccomplished goals. So I am going to taste exotic foods and indulge in Krispy Kremes when ever I can and shoot. I am sure I will have photos of it or not. I am not saying that this is the cure-all, it just works for me. I wonder what other people do to quiet the pain in their lives?

To you reader have fun where ever in the world you are. Smile, laugh and keep dreaming…Sending a cosmic hug to one that needs it 🙂

Dances with Mainecoon

Good morning and happy Friday! Life really is what you make it and not just some inspirational quote you see on social media. At least it works for me as I do not wish to push my beliefs on anyone. This morning I just completed a full half-hour in the pool. My physical therapist is working with me to get my core strengthened to help alleviate the weeble-wobble feeling I get when I am walking. Someone, please invent wheelie-bars for people like me!!! I don’t understand the process of the laminectomy as it as been almost twenty years since my surg tech days and I really never scrubbed in for any ortho or neuro surgeries as those were considered off-limits to us students. Part of me wanted to bust open a medical book and start dissecting the parts of the surgery that I had. The best way to explain it is like from my belly button up, everything feels normal. However, everything below my belly button seems foreign and I am slowly getting reacquainted with this new body and it’s split personality. Sometimes when I am listening to music I just want to get up and dance and sometimes I do. Most of the times my dance numbers are limited to less than 30 seconds but have been getting longer each day. Also, I am getting better at standing up and working at my computer. I can stand for about 5 to 6 minutes and honestly, if this is what playing a piano feels like them maybe I should start studying piano as I really would like to learn at least one musical instrument in my life time. To you my fellow Cauda Equina Syndrome survivors, I see and read about your pain and I hope that you find something that means something to you, something that helps you forget about the pain. Something that helps you forget the pain even for a little bit. This may only be true for me but joy and laughter are the best pain killers that anyone can peddle. This may be why I am so focused on music as it does bring me joy and is sometimes very soothing. I wonder if these artists know that their words, chords and melodies set off emotions and memories. That sometimes they inspire us to move and dance and exercise. All these thoughts that rattle around in my 49 year old head as I work on my two projects, take random photos like the ones I took this morning and focus on my recovery.

It feels so good to be able to swim back and forth doing the breast-stroke. Today I also started including freestyle laps. Once upon a time, 1984 to be exact, I joined the Duarte Parks & Rec swim team. I still remember Herman our coach and his porn-stache. I still wish I had a photo of him.

That was taken at the Duarte City Pool in 1984.

So much was going on the summer I joined swim team. It was 1984 and Los Angeles was hosting the Olympics. That is where I met a few people that luckily for social media we arre still in contact. Afternoons during that summer were filled with 100s, 400s and the dreaded 1600. I think the 1600 was 81 or 82 laps in that 25 meter pool. Sometimes when we did something that the coach did not like he would make us tread water in the deep end with our heads and hands held out of the water. If one person failed and their shoulders and head went below water the coach would add on a minute of tread time. I thought about those times today as I tread water as exercise and not as the punishment that it once was. Honestly, during those punishments I used to daydream about being a water ballerina as synchronized swimming was getting popular during that time. Funny, now I look back at the time as a great prep for what was to happen in my life. It taught me to keep my head above water but have good time doing it. During my swim this morning I was thinking about the two times that I took my camera into the Fantasy Springs Event center without a press pass. I have been studying the photos lately because on September 1, 2019 I will go to the ticket booth and pick up my passes. This time I get to take my cameras in and get to shoot without worries of getting tossed. I almost forgot, The Boss- Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band came to the Los Angeles Coliseum for four nights in 1984. That was my first ever concert. No wonder why I was hooked. That concert lasted 4 hours and to me, it will never be long enough.

The above photos were shot at the Jason Bonham Zepplin Experience (Evening) 8.3.18 at the Fantasy Springs Concert & Event Center. Our tickets were in the 9 rows from the stage. I was able to sneak in two lenses. The above photos are not edited except for some cropping. The area I was sitting in was packed and when people would stand up I couldn’t get a clear shot. No worries though as this was me just practicing until one day my dreams come to fruition. When I am out shooting I like to get clear shots of the musicians hands and of the instruments. Also, I really like shots of the bands interacting with each other. Good band interaction usually makes the sound so much better. All of these photos are straight out of my Nikon. Could they be better, yes, of course. However, for a novice such as me, I think I am heading in the right direction.

Oh yeah, all these photos are taken with my Nikon D3400. Yes, I am using a camera that has been called non-pro, starter camera, blah blah blah. The only thing wrong with that camera is that the user (me) needs to tighten up my cleaning and care of my equipment. So far I have noticed in my getting to know my Sony A7 (mirrorless and full-frame) is that I have to make more adjustments that seem foreign to me when peering through the viewfinder because I am looking at a digital picture of what I want to shoot not the actual subject. It is almost like I am looking at a TV monitor. All this means is that I have to practice each and everyday. Also, coming up in September is the last time that Sarah Winchester will be performing at the Lit Lounge with the band Country Nation. She will be focusing on her own project and I look forward to hearing more. Hopefully, I will be super strong and will be able to move around the floor and get some great shots. I really can’t thank her enough for her support as well as the bands support. Speaking of Sarah, I am still not happy with the last shoot. I wasn’t ready for it both physically and mentally. If all goes well I may have one more shot at trying to get a few portrait and art shots.

Time to get back to my projects as I took a small needed break to clear my head. Now to focus on that and writing my story for the pain project. I really don’t want to focus on me, I would like to find an artist that I can feature. One that is using art as way to outshine the pain. I know that person is out there. All those photos, the ones from before and after my surgery helped me forget about my pain for little bit. I know people that I am acquainted with one FB and IG don’t see me as disabled and that is how I want it to remain. I am not my illness. I am Michelle, wife, mother, gramma, melophile and aspiring artist, nice to meet YOU! By the way, What is a Dixie Chicken? Sorry, having an ADHD moment…

To you reader, thank you for getting to the end of this therapy session. Smile, laugh be wild and free! Adventure awaits!!

Don’t you, don’t you?

Good morning and happy Wednesday! I know I complained about the hot weather yesterday but it really wasn’t too bad, thanks to a monsoon. I don’t think it got over 110 yesterday. This weekend, I was included on a group message from my high friends and I loved reading about the memories we had of a certain party, my first house party that I attended to be exact. Thank you Spotify, it just started playing Cinderella and the song Shelter Me, and yes, we all need a little shelter to get us by. The statement couldn’t be truer from time to time when you try to distance yourself from a space invader but they still find ways to creep in. Oops sorry about that, sometimes though, my fingers type without me realizing they typed something. This is why two hours later I am editing this post. Ugh.

Back in 1986, I was a Sophomore at Duarte High and a little bit of a Hell-raiser, just a little bit though. I really just wanted to fit in. I was lucky though as I had some pretty spectacular friends. I love seeing social media posts from these friends from time to time. We again casually mentioned that we need to have a reunion and hopefully that thought comes to fruition. We are all in or nearing our 50’s but the funny thing is, I still feel like that goofy, f’d up 16 year old kid that used to smoke cigarettes behind the band room wall and sometimes in a tree behind the wood shop. I did have some psuedo-wild parties at my house whenever my parents would go away for the weekend or I was brave enough to pull off micro-house parties as my parents used to play poker every Friday night with their friends Kitty and Ralph. I remember that as soon as my Dad’s car made a left onto Broach Ave the living room would be filled with my friends. They literally just showed up and like “poof” they were there. If the party was not at my house it was at another girlfriends house or where ever we could party without those pesky adults around. Sometimes we partied in the riverbed or this empty lot next to my girlfriends house. I miss those days. You knew who your friends were and we all kind of protected each other in what ever way we could. I was never really a cool kid. Truthfully, I was jealous of my girlfriends that got to wear make-up and had nice clothing. Honestly, we were not that poor. My Dad worked very hard but we just ended up on the wrong side of the tracks. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford those cool clothes I just didn’t want to be like everyone else and my parents would never let me wear make-up and when we went school clothes shopping my mom was probably buying what she thought she would look good in. Anyhow, the circle of friends that I ran with didn’t care, they liked me for me, at least I hope they did. The stories I could write, I won’t as they need to be left in our memories were they can be wild and free just like we were back then. To you reader, hope you have happy teenage memories. I just went through old FB photos to see if I had any from high school but I got stuck looking at photos from a 2013 trip to Pozo Saloon in Paso Robles, CA to see Willie Nelson with an old school “frienenmy”. I don’t quite recall why we had ill feeling towards each other but it so nice to re-connect with her and become friends, again.

It was hot when we arrived in Pozo and I remember I had been in so much pain from the long drive. Willie was closing the show so we headed out to the venue after the festival began. We parked about 2 miles, honestly it many have only been a quarter mile but it felt like we walked in that heat for days. I had brought my Sony point and shoot but was too afraid to take it with me as I didn’t want to have to walk back to the car if I were told that I couldn’t bring it in. Well, big mistake on my part! All we did to get into the event was flash our paper tickets and they waved us in. Palm to face moment right there! In the last photo of the scaffolding, there is a women sitting with her legs hanging down and she has her camera! I watched in awe as she climbed up and down the scaffold so gracefully. Also, we met some interesting people that even helped get us back to my Rav4. I remember watching and listening to Willie and I was in awe. He was 80ish at this concert and it he gave me that need push to keep going cause if Willie can still roll so can I. Oh yeah, that was the first time I heard Devil Makes Three, wish I would have recorded a song from their set, dang.

Luckily, I posted a few photos on FB as I lost the memory card that had the photos from the Sony. Some day, I will make it back to the Pozo Saloon. There are several concerts and events there through out the year. It is a pretty special place. It made the concert seem intimate although there were thousands of people there. The guys that we hung out with on that trip were on a “guy weekend”. They were old friends and close to our age but a little older than her and I. They said they had been going on trips like these every year since their young adulthood. There is just something about those connections you make in high school. Some of good, some of it bad but whatever it is, I know that all those moments made me, well me.

The video quality sucks because it was taken on my phone. The audio is a classic. Willie told a cute little story about the song Superman. I found it under another YouTube channel that I have and forgot about.

As I mentioned yesterday, the heat is starting to kill my plants so I have been taking lots of photos of my sunflowers. The photo above I manipulated as I wish I had that many growing. Now, I have digital sunflowers that will never die. Ugh, the geek in me…back to my day…and more memories…

I call this one Burst.

Oh to you readers, thank you for the visit and have a lovely day. May you get to your destination safely.

To you, creeper, please just stop. There were guys like you in high school, college or that I worked with in my career in accounting. I don’t know what you are overcompensating for but keep me out of it, please and thank you!

Face plant

It is oh so quiet here this morning and on 90 degrees at 5:06 this morning. Slowly trying to get a routine going. Wow, Spotify just loaded Bob Seger’s version of Shame on the Moon. I love the lyrics and had never really just read them only sang along as I do to most songs I hear.

Till you’ve been beside a man
You don’t know what he wants
You don’t know if he cries at night 
You don’t know of he don’t
When nothing comes easy
Old nightmares are real
Until you’ve been beside a man
You don’t know how he feels

Once inside a woman’s heart
A man must keep his head
Heaven opens up a door
Where angels fear to tread
Some men go crazy
Some men go slow
Some men go just where they want
Some men never go

Lyrics by Rodney Crowell copied from Lyricfind

However in a few hours I will probably be lamenting and singing out “Shame on the Sun”. Yes, it has been that hot. Yesterday the high in Palm Springs was 121 a new record for that day. I only cried out “I am melting” a few times. I have lost a few plants because of the heat and need to McGuyver a self-watering system to keep the rest of my green-children alive. Bad enough, I have seen in news reports that a swarm of locust may be heading our way. Hopefully, they like the neon of Las Vegas and stay there as that is where the swarm was reported. Oh, the joy of gardening! They say gardening is relaxing, you know.

Oh oh here is another good song to start the morning. Shake Your Money Maker a song written by Elmore James. The version that I am listening to right now is the Black Crowes version featuring Jimmy Page on guitar. All I can say is yes, sometimes you gotta shake your money maker. I linked a copy of Youtube video of this song so you can listen for yourself.

I know it is easy to complain about the heat when the temp get this high but I must say, this hot weather does make my bones feel good and it gets me to the pool to exercise so I don’t want to knock it too much. Speaking of that, it is time to go and start the day.

Thank you for stopping by and where ever you are stay cool!