Hustle and Bustle

It’s been pretty quiet – on the blog front at least.  I haven’t updated you in a couple of weeks, but trust me when I say it’s not because there hasn’t been anything going on.  It seems like I’ve been running hither, thither, and yon (as my mother says) for the past month.  I have a wonderful pinterest project to share with you, and a couple of recipes that you simply must hear about, as well as some other odds and ends to share, but in the meantime I’ll tease you with some photos of my various goings-on of the past few weeks.

 

There was some more of this:

Lots of this:

And all kinds of this:

 

In a nutshell: motorcycles, dogs chasing things, and lots of plants popping up all over my yard.  More later!

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5 Tips for How to Be a Spectator and Still Have Fun

I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this.  I mean, we’ve all been spectators at some point in our lives – and I mean the kind of spectate-ing where you’re watching a friend or family member perform, compete, exhibit, or otherwise publically make use of a skill set or talent that you do not possess and most likely wouldn’t even know about if said loved one didn’t inspire your interest.  For instance:  I love college football games.  As in Love.  If I had a friend or family member playing for my team, and they requested that I come out to support them, I wouldn’t even have to change my plans because I’d probably already be there anyway.  But it’s a little different when your loved one has a passion for something that, while you can appreciate their enjoyment, you don’t necessarily want to join the team yourself. 

I’ve mentioned my husband’s hobby to you before – he has a real passion for going fast, more specifically on motorcycles.   He participates in motorcycle Track Days, which are sponsored by various groups, such as NESBA or STT.  In short, the race tracks that are uber-appealing to motorcycle riders (Road Atlanta, Barber Motorsports Park, etc) are available to be rented out for weekends when they aren’t hosting races or events, but the prices are so high that it wouldn’t be practical for an individual.  So the riding organizations rent the tracks and then sell riding privileges at prices that are much more accessible to the masses.  It’s actually a really great environment for the riders – they get to talk shop all weekend with like-minded enthusiasts, and they get to ride really fast in a safe situation. 

Jacob is totally in his element at track days – he loves to ride, and he’s really good at it.  Me, not so much.  I’m an excellent passenger, and I love to ride with him (at a more sedate pace, of course), but at track days, I don’t really have a role.  I can help unpack the trailer and set up our canopy and such, but besides that there’s not much for me to do unless I want to get on a bike myself.  And it’s not the most spectator friendly sport – the tracks are made to be like a winding road, so they go through wooded areas, up and down hills, under bridges… If there is a viewing area, you may see the riders coming for a moment, and then zoom they’re gone.  After we had attended a couple of track days and I got over the excitement of seeing something brand new, I started to get a little, well, bored.  I really love to see Jacob having so much fun, and I love that he wants to share this experience with me, but it doesn’t change the fact that while he’s out there riding, I’m just standing around watching him whoosh by once every two minutes or so.  After nearly three years of attending track days, I realized that I sort of made my own role so that I could be there to support Jacob, and at the same time stay interested and engaged in the activity. 

I would guess that a fair number of you have friends or loved ones with a hobby that you don’t, or can’t, share a passion for. And it can be hard to show enthusiasm when you’re just not having as much fun as someone else.  I’ve made a list of a few tips that helped me in just that situation, and I’m passing them on the hopes that some of you may be able to find a little more enjoyment in being a spectator.

  1. Get involved!  What do you love to do?  Is there some way that you can incorporate your hobby into your loved one’s activity?  I love photography, so I started bringing my camera along to the race track, and now I look forward to track days almost as much as Jacob does.  I was able to learn a whole new style of taking pictures – there’s nothing like trying to get a perfectly sharp photo of someone who is zooming by you at 150mph to make you really good at sports photography.  But maybe you love to cook, and you could provide snacks; or you’re a born leader and have some ideas for improving the event.  Join the group or committee that runs the event and give yourself a reason to be invested in the activity.   You’ll find that both you and your loved one will enjoy it more if you’re enthusiastic about being involved.
  2. Bring a friend.  I had so much fun at the first track day we attended, but after the new wore off, my interest started to wane.  When we had friends join us for a weekend, I was able to show them the ropes and explain things, and it was a lot of fun watching someone else experience it all for the first time.  And it never hurts to have someone around to talk to in a slow moment.
  3. Socialize.  This one is kind of hard for me to do, since I sometimes feel out of place, but it’s always rewarding when I make the effort.  You’re probably not the only spectator there, so talk to the person next to you.  Chances are, they’ve had similar feelings if they’ve been watching the same thing you have, and they may welcome a conversation to relieve their own boredom.  And if they’re not bored, then you definitely need to talk to them, because enthusiasm is contagious
  4. Do some research.  Take some time to learn a little bit about the sport or activity that you’ll be attending.  If you don’t know the rules it’s hard to follow the action, but also, just knowing some background information can help you become involved in the conversations around you.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about motorcycles at this point, because Jacob is so into them and I like to talk to him about it.  So when we’re at the track and I’m standing there with five or six riders all going on about their steering dampeners, or their rear suspension, or the particular tire compound they’re running that day I can at least follow the conversation, and even join in occasionally.
  5. Make an effort.  This one is really important.  And it may be the hardest thing to do.  I know how hard it is to try to be enthusiastic about something that you could care less about – but that’s the thing isn’t it?  You clearly do care about your friend or family member that you’ve gone out the support, or you wouldn’t be there in the first place.  But it takes real effort to find some enjoyment for yourself in the midst of being supportive.  You have to look for a way to involve yourself.  You have to entertain that friend that you invite along.  You have to be friendly and sociable to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and you may have to step outside of your comfort zone to engage a stranger in conversation in the first place.   But that small effort may open up a new door for you – you may find a new hobby for yourself, or make a new friend, or reconnect with an old one.  If nothing else, you’ll probably learn something new, and you may even find an interest where you didn’t know you had one.

The fact is, a good attitude can go a long way.  If you open your mind to the possibility of a good time you’ll be much more likely to find one.  So try to keep a positive attitude, dear readers, and if all else fails, bring a good book and a [insert beverage of choice] and you’ll be just fine.

Road Atlanta

Ohmygoodness, readers, I may be in love.   I picked up this bad boy on Friday, and I’m not going to want to say goodbye.   I used Aperturent.com to arrange my date; I picked up  my new companion for a weekend away, and we had the best time.  OK, fine.  I’ll just explain so you don’t have to follow all my links (although I encourage you to check them out, since I did have such a good experience).   I’ve mentioned once before my husband’s um, shall we say fast paced?, hobby – he’s into the really fast motorcycles.   The good thing is that there is a safe outlet for that – because, trust me when I say you do not want anyone you care for to go that fast (Jacob’s top speed this weekend was 175 mph!) on the road.   There are several organizations, such as NESBA and STT, that sponsor track days around the country so the speed demons among us can indulge their need for speed safely (well, saf-er, anyway).

What does this have to do with my date this weekend?  Well, most of the tracks are surrounded by fences, railings, barricades, etc to keep spectators off the tracks, and the riders in.  And they’re road racing tracks, so they’re set up like a curvy road through woods, fields, etc.  It’s hard to get close enough (safely) to take any decent photos.  The track at Road Atlanta, where we were this weekend, is 2.54 miles long, but it’s set up very conveniently for spectators and, ahem, amateur photographers.  There are roads all around the track perimeter and the infield so I could drive from one vantage point to another pretty quickly, but you still can’t get very close in most cases.  My 24-70mm lens just wasn’t long enough to let me get very many good, dramatic shots.  And thus, my date:  I rented a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L IS lens, and it was awesome.    I was able to see far enough down the track to tell when my husband was coming so that I could set up and track his movements with the camera to get some really great action shots.   And the lens was long enough to enable me to photograph from places that would have been too far for my 24-70mm to even make out who I was shooting.   I really enjoyed being able to join in the track day fun – I don’t ride myself, so I’m usually along for the ride when we go, and it was really nice to have something interesting to occupy me while Jacob was out doing his thing.  Do let me know what you think of these photos; you can find the whole set here on flickr, and I’d love some feedback.

High speed sports like this aren’t the easiest thing in the world to shoot – I took 693 photos over two days; of those I kept 477, and of those I only chose 78 to edit and make into a collection.  Trial and error, good equipment, practice, and a good amount of luck played a big part in getting any decent shots, and I thought I’d do a post in the next few days on the techniques and equipment I used.  If you have any specific questions, just drop me a line.

Happy Monday, everyone!