jjmaccrimmon: (Me - Fragments (Side))
Ah Father's Day has come and mostly gone.

Today (really this entire weekend) has been surreal. Friday and Saturday, Tammy's friend Cass came by to work on quilts and socialize. Cass has MS but it hasn't slowed her wit or humor. If anything it's probably sharper. While she was over Saturday, she started gloating about a sword she had and how heavy it was. I brought an old friend out of storage to introduce her to it - Bane. 'Rhinobane' is my heavy rapier and was for many years my primary rapier. It weighs and handles like a true period weapon. Cass was duly impressed.

Also on Saturday, my mom drove down to visit us from Louisville. She was coming to treat me to a Father's Day dinner and then take Brenna for a week long trip to the Gulf coast. They need the bonding time. Brenna will only have just so much time to make memories with her like this. As for the early Father's Day dinner, Macaroni Grill and mostly cheerful banter.

Today (Sunday), I got up at 6:30a. Why?! We have a large sand pile adjacent to the privacy fence that needs to be replaced. The sand and the moisture it held in, rotted out parts of the fence. To replace the damaged areas and not waste time or money, the sand needed to go. Back to 6:30... other than to see Brenna and my mom off on their road trip, I got up to pry open the damaged section of fence and make it available to the person who responded to a Craigslist advert offering it to whoever would carry it off. At 9am, "Jason" on his 8 year old son, came by and we started filling sandbags. Chris and I helped him fill 100 - 50 lb capacity bags. In about and hour time shoveled approximately 2 and 1/2 tons of sand. I may be overweight, but I still have strength and endurance. They want to cart off all the sand in the back which will help us fix the drainage problems and other problems the sand has been causing.

By 11 we were sitting in Cracker Barrel for a nice Sunday brunch. After eating and letting it settle, Tammy went to a sewing gathering but didn't stay long. The morning's activities wiped her out for several hours. Later on, Chris and I had a little father son time that he'll not soon forget. I took him for his first driving lesson. He stalled the car a few times, but after about 15 minutes and several gentle reminders, be was driving in an abandoned parking lot near the house. I was genuinely impressed by how fast he picked it up.

After the driving lesson, we picked up the lumber and accessories we will need to fix one of the damaged sections of the sand pile side fence. After dropping the supplies off, we ran some needed family errands then came home to watch a movie together. I should be exhausted but I'm feeling pretty good and bouncy still.

I can't help but think of my late step-father Chuck as I reflect on this day. Other than my grandfather, Chuck was the strongest and most positive father figure I could have asked for in my broken childhood. I think they'd be pleased with out things have turned out for me as a father figure myself.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
So what why update here when I have Facebook, Fetlife and such..? Why update here when the owner of the SUP is one of Putin's cronies (the reason I let my paid account expire btw)? This system is so freakin' antiquated that transferring entries and comments to say Blogger or a LiveJournal emulator would take months.

History and memories...

It's hard to let some aspects of my past go. LiveJournal is one of them. I have so many of memories and emotions tied up in this journal, it's hard to let them go or move on in some respects. Much of this journal is wrapped around my struggles and joys of living in SoCal. I documented the aftermath of my first marriage and the loss followed it. I turned to a loose circle of internet friends and associates here as sounding board and it grew into something more. LiveJournal became my first publishing platform and was where I documented so many adventures. Those photos, explorations, shows and events helped me reopen my eyes to the beauty and the joy I felt as a child. I saw the world anew through the lens of a camera.

When the joy went out of SCA events in Caid, I turned to my camera, my journal and my friends here. When I couldn't afford to do things as a single parent, I took my kids out on some amazing and wonderful adventures exploring abandoned and frequently historic places. Those stories and photos feel like yesterday.

And then there was Angie.. I've been gone from SoCal for over 6 years now, and I still think of her every day. Time has healed my heart so many of those memories, those thoughts and feelings are warm and even longing. Yes, I still miss her and doubt I'll ever forget her.

LiveJournal contacts and associations helped me when I got to Huntsville. Some of my long term friends and connections over the years here are from those early connections.

Moving down the path (less traveled)..

So this bring me to the here and the now. When I moved here in 2008, I never expected to become a manager in my day job. Never fathomed that I'd be called a subject matter expert in it either. I watched my daughter not only survive high school, which she dreaded, but move along to become an outstanding Fine Arts major at her University. She'll be a Senior next year. I've watched my son go from a soccer player to a sprinter running with the high school varsity track team as a freshman. He's also on the A-B honor roll and tested in the top 1% of the country in in math and science. The step-son is doing well in school and in advanced placement courses, but his habit of acting then thinking is disturbing.

Tammy's medical condition isn't worsening, but isn't improving either. She's taken herself off all her medications in order to purge herself and eliminate the possibility of unforeseen interactions. She's trying to fix a healthy diet but the fatigue and pain is limiting her. Her fading memory is even more disturbing.

Hadn't meant for this to be an introspective post, but there it is. I'm here. I'm alive. I'm not going to guarantee I'll be posting here regularly, but I'm not gone. Life is keeping me busy.
jjmaccrimmon: (Me - Headshot)
Just a quick message. Due to work schedules, we will not be going to DragonCon at the end of the month. Add that to several other recent issues and I'm frustrated beyond words.

Speaking of work, I was nominated for an Agency wide honor / recognition. 30 contractors out of a workforce of over 7000 were nominated. I wasn't selected but wow. I think that's why I'm covering the projects they've been assigning me to.

Photo wise, I'm nearly caught up on photo work. I have a wedding to edit but I'm waiting on their selections. I have a shoot this weekend and next. This weekend has been in the works for 6 months and there was drama getting to it. The following weekend is a paid gig. After that, I'm putting down the camera for a while. First off, it needs to go in for repairs. Second, I have projects around the house I need to work on.

Speaking of unnecessary drama, the house in Lancaster is finally empty of tenants. We have to clean it up and make some minor repairs and I will sign the closing papers. This will free me from the place.
jjmaccrimmon: (Me - Headshot)
Wow it's been a while. Not intended either... Life has that habit of sneaking up on me and running off with my spare hours and days.

Let's make this a quick update as I try to play catch up (and let the anti-virus scans catch up to the computer).

If you didn't catch the news, the Lancaster house is finally up for sale. We've had a few hits in the last week or so, but the offers fell through. I expect to have a solid offer within the next month if things keep going this way. Why sell it? I never intended to be an absentee landlord when I had to move away from SoCal in 2008 (OMG it's been THAT long?!). I didn't have the choice in the matter. It was rent it or lose it entirely. I've struggled hard to keep making payments and lost thousands of dollars on the place due to bad renters. Another reason I'm selling it is the memories. Some are very bad, some are good, but many are too intense for me to ever move back into it. When that day comes again, I'd rather have a place where I have a bit more quiet and privacy.

The kids are doing well. Brenna has decided that she wants to work on pottery and ceramics as her degree emphasis at college. I swear I haven't seen her this happy and upbeat about doing something with herself and her future since she was 9. The work she's done is pretty incredible so far. Chris is having mild issues with classes. This was the first report card in which he's gotten C's or lower in several classes. I wonder if all the games and on-line distractions are affecting things or whether the after school activities are instead. What after school activities you ask? Track. My little boy who nearly died of asthma and pneumonia is running track (sprints mainly) very competitively for his middle school. He's also learning to play bass. The boy's got some serious skillz there too.

Work has been going well, though this constant Federal budget crap is getting seriously old. As a Federal contractor (day job), I'm constantly tired of wondering whether we're going to lose or keep our contracts. That being said, I must be doing something right. I was recommended for a 4.5% pay raise when most people only were recommended for 3.0 to 3.5%. HR cut everyone's recommendation down by 1% across the board so I got 3.5%. I also got a bonus from the prime contractor for the many compliments. The other benefit is I've been moved into a job where I will be working with industry executives for high level test reviews. Without going into details, I'm working my tail off.

Photo stuff has gone well. I just did a shoot with a teenage model for a second shoot. Her parents were there and were happy with how I'm working with her and the manner in which the shoots are drawing her out of her shell. We're planning a very creative special effects set with her and my regular make-up artist in May. I've also had a number of local and regional business opportunities for shooting. Another local body painter (former photog) also approached me about hosting a workshop to display his work with my photos. That's next weekend.

Frolicon was also this weekend. The adult/fantasy/educational convention for debauchery was a blast. Once again, I shot as a staff photographer and presented two classes on abandoned site photography. Unfortunately I went solo. I gave my wife the choice between this event and a quilt show in April. She took the quilt show. I contented myself chatting with many old friends and making some cook new ones. Showed a few rope tricks and made some new contacts. I also worked my ass off. I shot approximately 2000 images in 4 days. I have already deleted 400+ images and expect to drop more. I have to give the Con my top 100 photos by next Sunday. Given how much I worked, I did bruise/torque a knee. I'll heal.

I'm going to start a new workout routine by the end of the week. I don't like the shape my body's gotten into and I want to be more trim and fit by this summer. I have the feeling that I'll need to be in better shape by then no matter what.
jjmaccrimmon: (Me - Headshot)
Quiet home and time to write a bit.

Well been trying to sit down and write for the past week but it's been chaotic at best. When I last left off, I mentioned I'd done a grand tour of northern Alabama. I ended up needing to drive back to Birmingham on the following Tuesday right after work. I got a call from one of my friends who's modeled for me in the past. Brittany is a new age gypsy, sweet natured, a bit hyper and searching for direction. She's literally wandered the country for the past few years since I first met and shot with her but never stayed long. When she went to San Diego last summer, she had a spiritual awakening that was remarkable. Upon her return to B'ham, we shot a set at the Moss Rock Preserve and talked about her changes in attitude, in character and how much happier she was with her new found spirituality. It was wonderful to behold.

When she contacted me following a visit to Kansas City to meet a boy she'd been corresponding with, she was hurt and heartbroken by him. He'd not been the person he'd seemed and she decided to come back to Birmingham. The only problem is she's lost the place she'd been staying at there. Yes, we took her in. She's been with us for a little over a week and a half now. She's cooking for us 3 nights a week. Brittany is a vegetarian so those meals have been pretty healthy and tasty. She helps clean, do the dishes and cleans her room regularly. Tammy been teaching her to sew and so far Brittany has completed two pairs of pants and a sash in less than a week. She also got a job the first day she was here. I don't know how long she'll be with us, but so far, she's been wonderful.

While the house remains quiet and I still have the mind to write, I'll speak of two more things. Yesterday Tammy and I road tripped to Knoxville. We went to visit with and pick up some goodies from Sandra Jacqua. She was trying to find a good home for Scott's / Don Njall's old 1931 Stromberg Carlson (shortwave/am) radio set and it looks like a project worth working on. Much to my surprise, she also handed me Njall's old marshalling staff and asked if I wanted it. Both items are in the garage and I'll be accessing what needs to done to bring them up to speed. If the radio can't be restored, I'll set about retrofitting an AM/FM digital set inside.

Tomorrow, I'll have a whole series of abandoned site images. I've been a bit inspired lately to edit more shots. I'm also a bit disgusted with myself to not posting some of these much sooner. I've still been exploring and shooting, but the editing process has been the glitch and the hold up to me.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
I've been trying to spend a bit of time for myself lately but I'm failing. Between the US Thanksgiving holiday, lot's of driving, family (real and adopted) and dealing with medical mayhem; I'm actually bit worn down and even a bit depressed.

To explain...
For those not following the story on Facebook, I hurt my right hip a few weeks ago diving to catch one of our dogs. The husky got loose and well it was the only way to catch him. Until two days ago, I was walking with a very distinct limp. it was bad enough that I thought I'd cracked something. It's better now, but over the holiday, it was rough then. I'm thankful for fast healing.

Thanksgiving week
On Monday evening, I drove down to Montevallo to pick up Brenna and bring her back for the holiday. On the drive back, she unloaded on all her pent up conversation which was expected. From there, the plan was to visit my mom the Wednesday before Turkey Day, stay overnight, have a Thanksgiving luncheon and drive back that night. The trip to Louisville was complicated by traffic and the pain in my hip, but went decently. Right after getting to my mom's, we got a call that the person dog sitting for us, lost the key to the house. Fortunately we managed to get ahold of Amy and she gave them hers. We visited with my mom and had a wonderful Thanksgiving lunch at KT's in Louisville. After dinning and chatting we packed up to head back to Huntsville. I gave the kids the option to stop briefly at the aunt Charlotte's but they were exhausted and just wanted to go home.

Anyhow, the drive home was milder than the drive up. The bad part was the cumulative effects of 16 hours of driving over 4 days wiped me out. We had been planning to drive to Atlanta to see our friends in Creature Feature play. They are touring with Birthday Massacre. Though Tammy went out to shop in the Black Friday crowds, I stayed on the couch and could not get motivated to drive another 3 hours (one way). Instead, Tammy and I went out to see "Wreck it Ralph" and retired for the evening.

Now as I'm mentioned medical mayhem, some of it was induced, some is on-going and some is accidental. Tammy's fibro is chronic and causes her to move in bed at night - a lot! Around 3am Sunday morning, she moved a little too much and my face got in the way. She hit me hard enough in her sleep that we were afraid she broke bones in my cheek. Obviously it woke both of us up woke I awoke seeing stars (moons and clovers). I was a wreck the rest of the day. She had to take Brenna back to college and I nursed a migraine most of the day. I've slept in the spare bedroom the last few nights in order to heal and rest.

I mentioned family as an issue. Our 'adopted' daughter Amy has elected to move out. During their September trip to visit their dad in South Carolina, Amy and her sister bonded heavily and decided to move in together. I believe there were some other factors, but she's not wanted to communicate those. Since returning from that visit, she's mostly been staying at her sister's but most of her stuff has been here. We finally told her she had to pack out or come home. Although she said she'd pack up this week, we have yet to see her. I'm conflicted about her leaving. Not only do I miss her, but I don't see it as her best choice (work, school and social-wise). I'm powerless to stop it.

One last nasty surprise
Last weekend, despite the migraine and exhaustion, I decided to check my bank due to some funny calls we'd been getting all weekend. When I looked at my account on-line, I discovered that my bankcard had been compromised. Someone had been using it to buy games and upgrades at Steam.com and Valve Software. It started out in early November, but on Thanksgiving Day they went nuts. $180 in purchases had already gone through and another $400 was pending. Needless to say, I immediately called the bank and started a fraud investigation. My account was protected but it also meant shutting down the card and dealing with changing various accounts that rely on that card #. Bottom line is check your accounts. This came from a company that my son Chris plays games at. We have bought stuff from them (from games to upgrades). I'll be filing a police report once the final totals are settled.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
Just feel like it from time to time.

I keep telling myself and everyone else, I'm going to update more and life keeps jumping in front of traffic and I have to chase it down to keep it from getting hit by a bus.

Family - Chris is overseas visiting his mom and seems to be having fun. His grades came back and pretty much had straight A's for 7th grade. He's now gotten very tall for a 12 year old (5'7" already) and growing. He even has the wisps of a mustache. Brenna's home from college and working on a B average. Now we're trying to figure out how we're going to afford sophomore year. My step son Michael is also doing decently well too.

Work - there's too much of it? I'm apparently the go to person at my full time engineering job. Its scary when you consider that as a contractor in the place I work, I don't have the authority to tell anyone to do the stuff they need to do. When I don't come home brain drained from that, I either can look forward to a heaping helping of photography related work (catalog sets for small businesses or private requests). I took my assistant and well adopted daughter (for all practical purposes) out to a local rock show and showed her some of the finer techniques. The bands loved having two professionals shooting their gig. When not dealing with that job, I'm helping Tammy try to keep our sewing machine store afloat. Oh yeah, when BERNINA USA closed all their corporate stores, like hers, we were recruited to open it as a dealership. Yeah, we bought the store...

On another note, I've been increasing hearing the siren's call from California. Soft and steady but there none the less. Little things keep reminding me of the place and the people there. For example, two weeks ago a pair of F-16s came roaring over my house. I've not seen an F-16 in four years here, let alone two running in full afterburner. Reminded me of Edwards. Songs keep popping up on XM Satellite radio that are not part of the normal rotation. Even the insanely hot weather here now. It's a dry dusty heat.. Sound familiar? I won't even go into the dreams and visions. Too many people already question my sanity. I keep wondering if it's a sign of things to come or my past calling me back. Don't know... It's like lingering over an old photo. I have to live in the now while treasuring the good memories of then.

SCA - nada. I've effectively stopped playing in the past 6 months. Despite my best attempts to get motivated and go play, it's just not there. Either the weather thwarts my desire to go to events, or I'm dealing with work related scheduling issues (it hurts trying to be in three places at once), or I'm dealing with things at home. In each case, my motivator isn't powering up. I'm not going to fool myself and force the matter. I'm probably going to play at the edges for now and at least stay engaged but not be the active SCAdian I once was.

Misc. My Sony Alpha 350 is slowly giving up the ghost. Its got over 40,000 exposures run through it and some of the functions aren't working the greatest. Some of it can be fixed with a cleaning and service (which I'll do soonish) but much of it is wear and tear. I found a great deal through Amazon for one year no interest financing so I jumped on it and bought a new Sony A65 medium format digital camera. It is incredible. It's got the same incredible color as my old cameras but its faster and more sensitive in low light. I'm still learning its in's and out's but I'm a happy camper there.

There's a quick update. I'm not sure who's left out there beyond a few regular readers and several passers by. If it's any consolation, I do read through the friend list posts pretty much daily. I comment here and there where time and available brain cells still permit.
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OMG, I have this fond dream of relaxing, updating on life, posting photos and being creative. The reality is I'm now so busy that I frequently pass myself in the halls. I'm now scheduling when I need to make my schedule.

Too much...

Heading back to work from lunch shortly.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
Alrighty folks, I'm alive but that's about it. This has been one helluva week. For those of you not following me on Facebook, I dropped a few bombshells.

1. While moving furniture out of storage, I may have torn a muscle in my shoulder. Last week the doctor merely thought it was a bursa (cushions in the joints). Instead it's been hurting for the better part of two weeks and not in the joint. Because of this, I've been in a sling and expect to have an MRI in the next week or so.

2. Remember the car accident this summer. The attack tree and the XTerra having it's front end mostly ripped off?.. Well the car certainly remembered. There was apparently additional damage that they didn't find. Specifically, a radiator hose was knocked or worked loose and leaking fluid. Unfortunately, it was doing so onto the alternator. I got into work Thursday and the car died, horribly. It had to be towed to the shop that did the work. Fortunately, I was already in contact with them about the leak and the cause. I merely didn't know that it was where it was. The shop thinks it will be covered under the old claim.

3. There's news on the house front. In California, the tenant abandoned the house. Given this, it means I don't have to pay a lawyer to get them out. Sadly, I'm still out several thousand dollars. I'm still looking at selling it, but the realtors don't seem enthusiastic about the prospects. Tammy's house has been attracting interest and maybe it will sell before the end of January.

4. Speaking of Tammy, she got some extremely bad news from her company this week. Without giving away privileged info, they may be consolidating her company and closing the store. No timeline is available, but it was a huge shock. On that same note, they called her today and effectively offered her two positions working directly for corporate. This is a massive opportunity. She also is discussing with investors the prospect of opening her own store.

5. Given everything, I've pretty much stayed close to home and avoided shooting. Because of the shoulder, editing is pretty much out of the questions without substantial pain.
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As noted on Facebook, Friday I got to watch the Carrier Classic (college basketball game). This was a Veteran’s Day (Armistice Day) event that was played on the deck of an active US Naval vessel (USS Carl Vinson) in San Diego harbor. I’ve got to say, I was impressed to see a full court surrounded by stands with over 7000 seats, tents for both teams as lockers/changing areas and a press booth. While the game was fun, I was marveling at the views in the background. The sight of San Diego in the background, the coastal mountains and in the other direction, and the absolutely stunning sunset over the Pacific made me more than a bit homesick for southern California. I guess it’s true that time and distance eases the pain and frustrations of the past. While Alabama is my home now, part of me will always long for California and someday I will go back.

I’ve contacted USAA and I’m going to see about the feasibility of getting the old house in Lancaster sold. Keeping it as a rental has not worked out well at all. I can’t afford this drain on my finances (especially since I really have never recovered from the financial hit in 2008). Realistically, I’m not sure we can sell it and break even. I’m not underwater, but with many houses in the area still being foreclosed, it’s driven the prices down. If it stays as a rental, I need a better class of people in it or a guaranteed rental check. Given the economy and what I’ve heard about how Lancaster has declined, I’m not sure that’s entirely possible either.

As for the rest of this weekend, it was a mixed bag. While Saturday was a slow paced day where Chris and I went to a local anime convention (Mini-Hamacon), yesterday was full of work. I am hurting this morning. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been slowly re-doing the guest room in our new house. I say slowly because the funds aren’t readily available. We’ve repainted the walls (except for the baseboards), drilled the floors to remove most of the squeaks, stripped the 50 year old varnish (with chemicals requiring a gas mask) and yesterday was ‘sanding day.’ I rented a large commercial sander with vacuum from Lowes to make the finish even and keep the job quick. Did I mention that the sander was large (100+ lbs heavy, bulky and not transport friendly)? While it got the job done in a matter of an hour, my back and shoulders are not happy today. Now I only have to stain the floor (if necessary) and put down polyurethane to finish up.

In addition to working on the guest room, we also raked the front yard yesterday. We have a number of oaks and maples in and around our yard. The recent cold snaps and wind pretty effectively filled the front lawn with a thick coating of brown, crisp, swirling leaves. Tammy and Chris raked everything to the street and I filled ten 30 gallon bags with leaves. The crisp breeze and smell of the leaves was intoxicating enough that I didn’t mind the constant bending and stooping to stuff the bags. Tammy actually paid for the effort though. Her back and shoulders were a mess today.

Work continues to be challenging. I was shifted from long range planning and scheduling to help on analysis issues. It’s a more defined position and certainly more familiar.

On a surprising note, I weighed myself for the first time in several months yesterday morning. Since I haven’t ‘worked-out’ in months, I was expecting to be reminded that I was out of shape and overweight. Instead of seeing the scale reach into the mid-240’s, I was stunned when it only made it to 226 lbs. I guess I have been eating less and keeping active. It really was a pleasant surprise.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
On Tour or events in the area:

October 30th
The Huntsville Zombie Walk. Gather at the Clinton Street Garage at 2pm.
Whether you’re a freshly killed body or a risen corpse, shamble down in your finest funerary attire. It doesn’t take a lot of braaaaaaaiinnsss.. to support this a charity event. Just bring a bag or cans of pet food to donate to local animal shelters.


November 5th
Rasputina plays at Crossroads Music Hall, Huntsville. Doors at 8pm; tickets $13.50


Where’s JJ?

Folks, I’m still alive and out here, but I keep discovering that less and less of my time (and money) is really mine. Let’s see, where to start...

Huntsville Home –
We’ve been steadily plowing through the various repairs and modifications to the house we moved into in July. For example, we’re still working on finishing the guest bedroom. There, the painting is 99% done, carpet is out and we’re doing the last repairs on squeaky floors. Likewise, we pulled the carpet out of the basement studio. As it came out we discovered they installed it over the original linoleum tiles which also have had to come out. Many were loose, stained, cracked or damaged. In about a week or less, I’ll arrange to have commercial grade carpet put down there. I’ll also be installing the first set of track lights in there this weekend. The place has been keeping me very busy.


The “other” Huntsville house (Tammy’s) –
A few weeks ago, we agreed to have vinyl siding and such installed. The job is done and looks pretty good. The hope is the renovated outside, will allow us to get the house on the market and sold in a few months. If anything, I may make it a more attractive rental. Either way, we need the income.


Lancaster house –
I swear about this place a lot. Remember that we had to evict the previous tenant this time last year? Guess what, we’re about to file the papers to do that to the current one too. She hasn’t paid rent for September or October. This one had been good, but when her mom was killed in a traffic incident (hit & run) Labor Day weekend, she completely fell apart. She believes that she’s going to get an insurance settlement soon, but hasn’t figured out that the insurance and legal issues will take months. Months I don’t have to wait. Needless to say, this has once again stretched my finances to the breaking point. I’m only paying essentials and even stretching out payments. It’s damn’d frustrating, but until the housing and job market gets better, I don’t think the place will sell.


Personal stuff in brief –
We’re probably having a friend move in with us “officially” this weekend. Amy was originally one of Brenna’s friends from high school. Over the last year, Tammy & I forged a friendship that endured after Brenna left for college. In June, I took her on as a photography assistant / student and she’s accompanied me on a number of shoots recently. Given that her family lives way out in the back country and that they’re in worse shape financially than we are; we decided jointly to offer her a place with us. This wasn’t all my decision; it was a family discussion and decision. After previous experiences with housemates and long term guests, I wouldn’t have made the offer except that she’s impressed me. She’s motivated to better herself, willing to help us around the house and she gets along with all of us. If anything, the extra set of hands around the house is a very welcome benefit.


Photography –
I’m making some fundamental changes. Yes I’m still shooting. That being said, I’ve done a shoot of some manner or form over the last couple weekends. I’m also getting product delivered to models and catalogs. The difference is the method. First, I’m sending most images out via www.DropBox.com which is an FTP site. It means I don’t have to pay shipping for CD-Rs or wonder if they’ve gotten to the intended recipient (I’ve had my problems with packages going into oblivion over the last few years). Second, with certain exceptions, the modeling images are going out unedited for review and so the subject can select images they like or want. Too many times over the years, selecting images to work with has been too difficult. Either I don’t think they meet my standards or I think they ALL look incredible. Normally I want the added input and feedback. Since only the model and I have access to the images (thru DropBox), I can be assured of privacy and copyright security as well. Third, my motivation has been returning to be able to work on artistic shots. Given that, I’ll start posting nature, abandoned site and other art shots again to my blogs in a few weeks.


Halloween –
The house is mostly decorated. The graveyard is built and figures are out and set up. Lighting and the fog machine will be tested tonight and tomorrow. I’ve got some minor adjustments and additions but I think we’re in good shape for the weekend. The nice thing is the neighbors are also decorating or at least supportive. I’ve gotten more than a few positive comments. Costuming for myself and Chris is now the challenge. I’ll work that issue today. Tomorrow is Tia & Chris’s party and Sunday is the Zombie Walk downtown.


An odd note,
I tend to take hints and messages from the powers that be thru the music I hear and the things that reach out to grab my attention. Over the past few days, I've increasingly noticed more and more references to California and to some extent to Angie. Since she appologzed and I'm not complaining about the past, I'm wondering what it all means.
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Creative block and stress are awful. I say this as both have been rattling my cage for the past few weeks. They’ve been a big reason behind why I’ve been away from blogs and cutting back on more than a few activities. Because the two subjects are potentially self perpetuating, I’ve been trying not to think of the ‘need’ to do certain things or the responsibility to post. The need to take care of family, pay bills and make the new house function will always be there. Worrying about how to pay for it, shouldn’t be as all encompassing. All this brought to mind a quote I saw from years ago: “Stress is the mental confusion caused when you restrain yourself from choking the shit out of someone who really needs it.”

While stress can give me a competitive & creative edge, too much was killing me. Pushing it to the side has helped. My creative muses have again been whispering nice things to me. This changed after weeks of them shouting for me to leave them alone for a while. I wouldn’t be attempting to write this if I wasn’t feeling a bit creative. That being said, I’m working on getting myself back in the flow without resorting to mayhem.

I cancelled or rescheduled a number of activities and shoots in the coming months to give myself some breathing room. While I’ve kept a few shoots and planned trips on the schedule, I’m forcing myself to be much more selective in when I’m available. No more of this having to schedule myself hour for hour even on the weekends.

I think another thing that irked me and helped set this frustration to a boil was responsibilities. Chris has added a number of activities to his plate and taken time from me. Michael has added more to his plate (including Scouting), which required me to step up and volunteer to be Den Master when no-one else would. In addition, I’ve got an endless plate full of house repairs and modifications which I’ve been steadily working on. No this wasn’t unexpected, just necessary for getting the house the way we want it.

Speaking of the house, I’ve been trying to get a lot of delayed work and eased projects completed before it gets too cool. For example, we’ve ripped out the carpet from one bedroom and discovered the (nice) hardwood floor below. We’ve now painted three of the bedrooms, hung pictures in the living room and hall (more to go upstairs). I’ve repaired all three toilets in the house, replaced a shower head and more. On the plate yet to come:
• Prep and install a door to the studio downstairs
• Pull carpet from the studio area
• Install track lights in studio
• Fix squeaking floors on bedroom level
• Set-up and build shelves in garage
• Replace both thermostats (modern HVAC systems outside but old style gear inside)
• Sand and oil the roll-top desk which had been in Brenna’s room (I need a place to work on bills)
• Hang shelving & curtains in Christophe’s room

Can you tell there’s been and continues to be a bunch going on around the new house?..

The house in Lancaster continues to be a burden. My newest tenant had been great. Paid rent on time, notified us about repairs needed and was a refreshing change of pace following “Josephine.” This is unless her mom was killed by a hit and run driver around the first of September. Between funeral expenses, mourning and the investigation, I haven’t seen rent for September or October. That has stressed our finances. On top of this, Tammy doesn’t have a tenant in her house here. We’re getting siding put on it in order to help sell the place, but it all costs money.

More to come..

Brenna
My new assistant / house guest
Photo activities
Halloween plans
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I wrote something substantial. It’s not been planned, it just didn’t happen. Between life events creeping up on us, trying to get the new house up to speed and other associated mayhem; blogging fell gently to the wayside for the time being. Writing, as my muse, wasn’t one of those things that needed, wanted or remotely desired being active. It merely hid in the closet napping and avoiding the general mayhem of the rest of our world. Now as things are slowly and (mercifully) steadily winding down, the muse has awoken fitfully from slumber, stretched its wearied and unsteady limbs, and now smells that change in the air that may signal fresh creativity.

Updates (in short);

1. Brenna is off to college now. In fact, we’ve made a second supply run to Montevallo yesterday to provide her with her new bank card and my old printer. She seems to be happy with college life thus far and her room-mate situation.

2. Speaking of driving to Montevallo, it was a challenge. The heavy rain, wind and low visibility made for less than pleasant conditions. In fact, south of Cullman, Tammy and I had to detour off into the boonies because the interstate highway was closed. A tractor-trailer jackknifed and blocked several lanes of north and south-bound traffic. It added an extra hour to our drive home.

3. Chris is also adjusting to new realities in the house and at school. He’s discovered he has privacy and quiet time unlike before. He’s been exploring various science (chemistry and physics) videos and wants to experiment at home. While I’m happy to foster that intense interest, I now have to find him some safe outlets. He’s also growing increasingly confident and talented musically.

4. Speaking of the house, we’re getting ready to repaint the “guest” room and probably pull out the carpet from it as well. The house is in relatively good shape but there are signs all over of many less than high quality projects done by the previous owners. The carpets appear to have been non-professionally installed. Likewise several closets have finishing and edge coverings that were miss-measured and even more poorly installed. I do have another ceiling fan to put up this evening and I bought a set of track lights to install in my (eventual) studio as well.

More to follow shortly
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
Alighty then. I haven't died or become a hermit following my step-father's passing. Mixed in with everything, we were also closing on a house and preparing to move. Yesterday, we finally got all the cabling installed for the net and I am no longer relying on just my Droid to post. I will begin posting again regularly as things settle into place in the hous(if I'm on too much it limits what I unpack).

I would like to thank everyone for the kind words and well wishes sent. It really meant a great deal to me.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)


Charles Algood (far right) at my daughter's high school graduation. Chuck passed from this world unto the next tonight at approximately 11p Central time (US). He was my step-father and will be deeply missed. I will be off-line for the next few days.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
My stepfather is probably passing in the next day or two. I'm going to be off line for a while.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
As announced on my facebook page, it's good news / bad news time. The good news, my mom and step-father FINALLY got married. The bad news, he's dying (end stage emphysema).

The rest of the story..

Chuck has smoked and drank heavily for the last 25 years of his life. While many in the family tried to get him to moderate, he didn't. It was his choice. It doesn't mean I agreed with those choices but they were his. I've considered him my step-father for that entire time and I'll love him dearly no matter what his choice was.

According to my mom, he's recieving hospice care and most likely has weeks to live. I say this not in sadness but in celebration of his amazing life.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
I keep trying to sit down and actually write something sensible and sane, but my words diluted and unable to form. Between the recent storms, the evacuation and subsequent recovery efforts; I'm still trying gather my thoughts. It doesn't help that I'm also feeling increased pulls from family, work, other blogs and commitments that draw me away from writing, setting up a web-site or much else.

The biggest things going on right now:

In two weeks, my daughter (my little girl) graduates from high school. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. She's grown up and is showing some remarkable signs of maturity. For example, while we stayed at Tammy's grandmother's house, Brenna was polite, helpful, soft-spoken and genuinely sweet. Tammy's family all were very impressed with her. I still can't fathom that I have an 18 year old who's going to college in the fall.

On that same note, Chris is hitting puberty and growth spurts with a vengence. At 11 1/2 he is already wearing the same size shoes as me and stands 5'4". His voice is starting to warble and crack intermittently as well. I'm going to have to replace clothes he's outgrown again very soon.

Michael is also surprising me with how much more willing he his to express himself intelligently about things. The medication he's taking for ADHD is helping him to focus, be thoughtful and recognize things he didn't before. I'm pleased with how his personality seems to be developing too.

Career wise, I still don't know what's happening with our contract, but at this point, no-one else seems to either. Last month I recieved my fourth bonus in 3 years. While this is absolutely incredible (to me), I'm still more interested in knowing that the company will keep me on with them if we don't win our contract. On the actual work side of things, I'm attached to three different engineering projects. The most current should send me out to California again in June and July.

On a similar note, a very good friend of mine in California lost his job recently. It was mainly due to a personality conflict, not his remarkable skills. I'm writing this to echo my support for him and hopes knowledge that he'll bounce back to even greater heights soon.

The house search went on hold following the storms of April. I think I'll e-mail the realtor after this to let her know we haven't disappeared. We've got a series of places we'd like to look at and will go from there.

More later

Photo-wise... wow, that's going to be an entry all to itself I think.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
This is where JJ sits down and finally plays catch up from last week and makes plans for the next few weeks ahead.

The Lancaster House
As noted very briefly, I have a new tenant in my house in Lancaster. She’s paid in the full security deposit and first month. This lady seems nice and very thoughtful. It’s nice having the income coming back in again. Now I can start catching up from the bills “Josephine” left me with. The final tally for the previous tenant was $5000 for the judgment, plus nearly $250 in unpaid utility bills, $300 for cleaning and $700+ in repairs. I’ve gotten none of it – yet. I’m going to go find the biggest, nastiest, most aggressive debt collector I can find.

The Huntsville House
Tammy and I have started seriously looking into moving. We’re looking at either getting into another rental or buying a place. I’m not entirely comfortable about buying given the instability in the contracting situation, but I know I don’t want to spend another year in our current place. The place we’re both the most interested in is a 3000 sq ft., 3 bedroom, 2 bath house a little further south of our place. We already know the bathrooms need to be enlarged (& modernized), carpet replaced in several areas, and we need to modify a room/garage into an additional bedroom. It certainly has the space plus some to spare. All told the house has 6 garage spaces (2 car detached garage, 2 car attached but remote entry, and 2 garages in the house with direct entry). The place has immense potential but will require substantial modifications and repairs.

Shows and Events
Last week was huge for the kids and I for events. Last Monday, Brenna and I drove down to Birmingham, to see, hear,.. experience Beats Antique live. About a week or two before the show, I contacted the group’s tour manager and asked if I could shoot the performance. They gave me an all access pass to photograph the show. I provided my ticket to [livejournal.com profile] leliel and [livejournal.com profile] sabre0link also joined us. Before it was over, I’d gotten over 800 images the camera. Without a doubt, it was one of the most amazing and incredible small venue acts. Zoe, David and Tommy are great people and I was very happy to work with them. If you happen to have the chance to go to one of their shows, GO!

On this past Saturday, Chris and I drove up to attend Iris Faire (SCA event) in the Nashville area. I didn’t quite know what we were driving into on many levels. The weather that had battered the region on Friday had spawned extremely high winds and more than a few funnel clouds. As we neared the event site west of Nashville, we saw damage and trees down everywhere off the sides of the road. As the very strong cold front was centered on central Tennessee, it stayed windy and very cold throughout the day. I was happy to chat with Don Njall and Lady Allesaundra at the event. I’m glad that I did, because he clued me in further on who the “former ex-” was who was spreading foul rumors – Vikki (my ex- student). More on that later in the notes.. I also learned that by some manner I’d offended or bothered someone at a previous event, so I sought out the right folks and made apologies and begged forgiveness. I still don’t entire know the what, when and how I did anything, but I felt awful that there was any misunderstanding.

Event wise, I fought in the rapier tourney for the Silver Iris. I lost my first bout because I was more than a bit distracted. After refocusing, I fought my way to the finals where I lost. After only one practice in four months, I felt slow and sloppy, but it was a great tourney none the less. I opted out of the second (“Poison Iris”) tourney and spent time with Chris so he could attend the Chainmaile class they were holding. It was a fun event.

We left the event around 3pm and drove back to Huntsville in order to attend the performance of April Smith and the Great Picture Show. The Huntsville Swing Dance Club brought April and her band into town for the first time since I had helped host her last year. The show had close to 100 in attendance and many of those folks danced during the three live sets. I was stunned when April publicly thanked me alongside the organizers of this show. She explained to me later that she really appreciated that I’d introduced her to Huntsville and the incredible art and music scene here. Sadly, don’t expect any photos from me from the show. The Swing Dance Club had already contracted a photographer and videographer, plus the show was at the Flying Monkey. Nuff said about that venue.

Photo stuff
This is going to be a very busy 30 to 45 days ahead. I have three or four model shoots coming up. Two are catalog sets, one is fetish and there’s a newcomer TF set. Sometime in May, I’m also trying to get a weekend trip to Gulfport so I can work with Doll again. Brenna graduates on the 20th of May and I expect to shoot a few frames of my daughter getting her diploma.

Perhaps the biggest photo event is coming up next week. I’ll be shooting as a staff photographer for Frolicon in Atlanta, this weekend. It looks like there’s at least 8 other photographers covering the event so this should be a bit less stressful / exhausting. As mentioned in the previous message about Frolicon, I guess I will let one other cat out of the bag. When I was originally offering my services to the staff, they asked if they could use one on my art photos for the event badge. If things have gone well, one of my photos and models will be seen and worn by all the attendees.
jjmaccrimmon: (Default)
I've had several posts mostly ready, but due to my son's being down with the crud (broncitis and sinus infection) I've not been on-line much. This week should be a little better.

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