Cat-Cloud Lady

Ohio River Sunset

I take pictures. Probably too many.

In fact, I'm slightly concerned that if I die in a freak accident, whoever finds me will turn on my phone, hoping to find a contact number, hoping to find some trace of family- next of kin- hoping for some sort of proof that I lived...

and all they will find are pictures of clouds.

And that's weird. 

I don't want to go out like Cat-Ladies do.

You know.

"The cat lady died." "How sad." "Yeah, I heard the only way anyone knew she was dead is that her cats sent out an SOS message." "Well, yeah, she didn't have any friends... all she had was cats."

The poor person who finds me will think the same thing. "Daughter? She had a daughter? Nope. I'm pretty sure all this lady had was a creepy obsession of clouds."

I don't want to be the creepy cloud lady. But I fear I am turning into just such a woman. I told you that my friend and I took a road trip from Santa Fe to Dallas. I probably didn't tell you that I added an entire hour to the trip by asking her to stop so I could take pictures... of seemingly nothing. Empty fields with a single windmill. Sunrays bursting out of a patch of clouds hovering over a dry, dusty oil field. Flowers. Stray, ugly flowers.

Recently, before diving into a study of scripture, she and I were sharing coffee with our girlfriends on a porch near a busy parking lot. Within a matter of minutes the clouds above our heads collided with the setting sun to make a beautiful mural of cotton candy, swirly, rich, sad, majestic strokes of beauty.

"Excuse me," I said while I excitedly fumbled for my phone, "I have to go get pictures of those clouds."

As I walked off, I heard my friend say, "She does that. She takes pictures of clouds. That's kind of her thing."

I'm such a cat lady.

And the thing is- I'm not even a real photographer in the same way that I am not even a real singer.

I'm ashamed to say that I could not read a note of music to save my life.

I don't sight read. I don't have any vibrato in my voice. I don't know what key I sing songs in. I don't even know how many keys there are. I don't have proper breath control and I don't do any of the right things to get ready for shows. I don't warm my voice up. And though the voice doctor told me I needed to forever swear off caffeine, wine, chocolate, whistling and milk... I still find that the best way to get myself ready to go on stage is by drinking a double-tall, extra hot, mocha with extra whip cream. And I will never stop whistling.

I take pictures the same way. On my iPhone. Which usually has a lens that is covered in a film of Annie's goldfish or apple juice. Gruby-finger-osmosis covers the lens for so long I'm unaware it's even there. And I use the word "lens" lightly. It is the only lens I am familiar with. My sister has a fancy shmancy camera. I could sell it and pay rent for two or three months. It's real nice. But I wouldn't know how to use it... to me it looks like a big, black, clunky monster. It gives me the willies.

I just sing. And I just take pictures. And I just write.

I could be a lot better at all of them. If I had discipline and structure and a wee bit more education, perhaps I could even shine. But I'm not terribly interested in being an expert at anything. There are lots of experts. Rightfully so. Someone has to be a "real" singer. A "real" photographer. A "real" author. They are worthy and high artistic callings. And the people who master the ins and outs of their crafts fly to places that perhaps I will never see. And they bring the rest of us with them. I have relinquished the pages of fame and history to them.

But me? I have accepted my plight as a simple person who lacks a bit of discipline or proper know-how and makes up for it with a propensity to live with my eyes open. To live without holding back. To go for it...

even if I don't reach it the proper way

the way someone more qualified than me might.

That's how my pictures get here. I just go for it. I take pictures. I don't stop to think about how silly it is that I think I am taking professional pictures- with the best of them- on my iPhone 3G. I don't think how absurd it is that I'm scurrying out of coffee meetings and pulling over on the side of highways to take pictures with my dinky camera and dinky knowledge of how to properly shoot a picture of a flower or a sunset. I don't think that way.

In fact, most of the times, I don't think.

I do. I act. I capture and bottle it up and let it come back out.

And I do so because...

well,

I like it.

So maybe I will come across like the cat lady. But you know what? She probably really loved those nasty, gangly little cats. All 37 of them. Just the way I love my cloud pictures. All 370 million of them.

So- I hope you enjoy browsing through my pictures. I'm an amateur. But, in my book, that's an ok title to have. Amateur.

Whatever you are an amateur at... 

remember, sometimes you have to

Do it without thinking. Love it. Embrace it.

You don't have to be professionally trained. You just need a little passion. 

To see more of my pictures, visit my flicker site. Click on this link or copy and paste: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34136456@N08/