Author Archives: Olivia Fulmer

About Olivia Fulmer

I am the OliviaIrene of OliviaIrene Photography. I am a photographer, a teacher, a story teller. I use this space to tell stories of life, family, and faith through words and images. I'd love to share your stories as well. Join me in this journey.

When “Something” Is Missing

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I’m sure you know the feeling.  Something is missing, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Life is busy—job, family, chores, errands. . . . The list is endless. But still, “something” is missing.

For me, it’s been creating things. Oh sure, I’m creating lesson plans and activities for my classes all day long, but that’s for other people, and not for me. I come home in the evening, and I do knit or crochet while I’m supposedly watching TV. That is creating something. I’m working on the last square of the blanket I’m knitting (I miscounted—made only nineteen when I needed twenty!).  I’ll start putting the border rows around the last four squares and joining them to finish the blanket. So far, it looks like it’s going to be HUGE! But even though, the knitting has been relaxing, it didn’t fulfill the thing that’s empty.

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This week at the Academy, we started the two week “mini-mester” during the electives period (third period, from 10:00 to 10:48 a.m.). I offered to teach a photography class. I’m not sure how much photography students are learning, but we are doing some shooting. I take my “big girl camera” out with me; the students are using their phones. I send them out with a very loosely structured assignment—find a unique way to photograph things; look for lines and shapes; photograph color. . . . Nothing too technical, but something fun. Monday was a washout—it rained all day (hard, heavy rains!). Wednesday was beautiful! We went to the Tent market near the school. Oh, the color and textures! And the hibiscus! Or should it be hibisci? The employees had just watered the flowers and plants, and there were water droplets everywhere. The cantaloupe presented its roadmap to me, and the tomatoes were beautifully red. On Friday, we walked the Main Street area. I set myself the task of focusing on lines and repetition. I forced myself to look. One of the students said that it was hard for her to be inspired by “assignments,” that she needed to go out and be “inspired.” She reminded me of Christine Valters Paintner’s ideas from Eyes of the Heart, to be ready to receive images while walking with the camera.

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I think I know what has been missing: my camera and using my photographic eye. I have not been looking at the world, or as Paintner says, gazing at the world with soft eyes. I have not been allowing myself to receive images.

This year has been a “first year teacher” experience for me—returning to a secondary classroom full time in a new school after six years away. I have been in a state of overwhelm. The result has been that I have made time for receiving images with the camera, for taking the time to play with them in Photoshop to (try to) create art. I know that this has to become a priority in the future. This week has allowed me to get behind the camera and be an artist again. I don’t feel quite so “empty” this morning.

Now, I need to work on finding time to write regularly!

Spring Break

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What do you do when you go out for a photo walk only to discover that the camera batteries are dead? I had just enough “juice” to change the white balance and the shooting mode. The last time I used the camera was to shoot a school pageant in the gym, so I had the shooting mode set to continuous and the white balance to auto because gym lighting is notoriously bad and hard to get right, at least for me.

Well, I just turned myself around, put the camera back in the car, and started walking again, pretending I did have the camera. I looked for things I would shoot if I had the camera. I paid attention to the light and shadow patterns of trees, tree limbs, and leaves on the pavement. I noticed the color of the leaves, and the contrasting greens against each other. I watched the ospreys soar in spirals overhead, their bodies black against blue skies. I noticed the fallen blooms from the trumpet vines. I walked with my eyes open (at least until my legs began to give out. I actually pushed myself a little bit too far after having a medical procedure yesterday).

Sometimes, walking without a camera makes it easier to see things. I can go back tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. Yes, I know the lighting will not be exactly the same as it was today, but there will be something new to notice.

I think that’s what I like about photography. It teaches me to see things I might not notice otherwise.

I did manage to get some pictures of the sunrise at church Sunday morning before the Easter sunrise service began. After the service I went out to the prayer garden to take a few pictures of the trees that were blooming. The cherry was in full bloom with some red leaves beginning to show. The palm was also blooming, at least I think that’s what it’s doing. It’s a funny looking bloom, though! Oh well! It is spring here in the South. Tomorrow, IMG_4285IMG_4290IMG_4292IMG_4293I

will try again. I may even go hiking in a state park in the mountains with at least one of my sons, who is also out of school on spring break.

One Little Word 2017

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In January, I chose the word DARE as my one word for the year. Something happened along the way. I sort of dropped out of following the word through the year.

But then, something else happened. I dared to go back to full-time teaching! I started a new job with Newberry Academy. I took on the head of school’s “dare” to teach/advise the desktop publishing class, aka yearbook, something I’ve never, ever done before. And I “dared” to teach world history. Keep in mind, I am a certified ENGLISH teacher. I’ve never taught a social studies class before in my entire career.

I love it! I love teaching in a small, intimate private school. I know my students—and am getting to know their parents on a first name basis. Seriously. Of course, I discovered that I’ve taught some of the parents before in my life as a public school teacher. And then, there is the one student whom my own son taught when he was the middle school band director in town! That’s a sobering thought. . . . I have a son old enough to teach middle school students who are now my high school students.

This year, as I looked at Ali Edwards One Little Word class and wondered momentarily whether I should take it or not—and I am—my word came to me:  GROW.

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Odd.  I will be sixty years old in February 2018. And I feel I am still growing.  I talked to the head of school last week and told him I’d like to take the AP certification course this summer. He’s willing to pay half tuition. I believe it will “grow” me as a teacher. Besides, I haven’t taken a formal literature/education class in more years than I can remember. I am looking forward to professional growth.

And I signed up for the “graduate” course with Emma Davies and A Year with My Camera. I want to grow as a photographer. I will be teaching my yearbook students more about photography next year so that we get some really interesting story-telling photographs for the yearbook.

I want to grow as a creative person. I want to grow my writing. I haven’t put much effort into my novel in the last weeks. I plan to do that during this Christmas holiday break. I am going to live up to my word that I won’t answer any emails until I go back to school on January 3. Nope, I just won’t do it.

There is the old saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” Well, I may not “bloom” this year, but I do intend to grow—personally, professionally, creatively.

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I Miss My Camera

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But it hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s sitting right there on the piano bench (where else would a camera sit, right?).

I just haven’t picked it up in a couple of weeks.

I have been “too busy.”

You see, I started a new job this week. I left my comfortable position at Remington College, teaching one or two classes a day, four days a week, four weeks at a time with four or five weeks off between mods, to teach full time for a small private school closer home. Instead of leaving home at 8:00 in the morning, I’m leaving an hour earlier. Instead of leaving work by 2:15 or so, I’m leaving well after 3:30, sometimes closer to 5:00. Instead of teaching adult learners, I’m teaching 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 year olds! Yeah, everything from middle-school English to senior English, with World History and Desktop Publishing/Yearbook, thrown in just to keep my life interesting. And it is interesting.

But still, I miss my camera. I miss having the freedom to pick it up regardless of the time of day to play.

I miss being able to ramble whenever I feel like it.

I miss the creative element of being a photographer and an “artist.”

Perhaps, when I get used to my new schedule, I’ll figure out how to work in the photography.

But for now, I will study. I will develop a new rhythm. I will simply miss the camera.

The Third Quarter Has Begun

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I realized I have not written since June.  So much has happened since my last post, namely I am leaving my part-time teaching position to take  full-time teaching job in a local private school beginning in two weeks.

This is the year of living daringly, of taking chances, of stepping into new possibilities.

Moving back into secondary education is definitely something I had not expected to do, though the possibility has always been there. And now that I think about it, I am ready to take this dare.  It will certainly be a challenge with six preps, including two things I’ve never done before professionally: teaching World History and advising the school yearbook/Desktop Publishing class.  I said the head of school (aka headmaster) suckered me into the latter assignment.  But seriously, I would not have accepted it if I had not wanted to give it a try.

Going from teaching four days a week to five, teaching for four weeks with a month off between mods, will certainly take some getting used to!  I will have to figure out ways to keep up with my creative pursuits and my photography in different ways.  I will also have to figure out new ways to work in practice time at the piano.  Jack’s wedding will be here before you know it!

I hadn’t given the word of the year much thought in the last couple of months, but somehow, I think the dare was working in the background. I realize that I have been out of the secondary classroom for six years.  I will have to re-evaluate what I have been doing for the last few years at Remington.  I will have to re-learn how to relate to teenagers and preteens (I will have that one class of squirrelly seventh graders! In a way, I am looking forward to teaching those middle-schoolers!) And I will have to give myself the pep talk almost daily that I can teach World History.  (It’s just another form of ELA, right?  Reading, thinking critically, analyzing, synthesizing. . . . )

And so, a new school year begins. . . . .

Besides, this new teaching job gives me an excuse to shop the school supplies and office supplies and find really neat stuff to use!

Making Changes

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Time passes.

Things change.

I’ve changed.

And I’m making changes on my website and blog.

I have trouble with consistency in publishing here in this space. I’m working on that, though. Teresa Robinson introduced me to an interesting book, called Refuse to Choose. The author defines a group of people known as Scanners, folks who have a wide range of interests, multiple projects (including reading) going on all at once, and a tendency to drop a project before it’s completed. I don’t know how many of those I have around the house—along with books I haven’t finished and the like.  I think I am a Scanner.

I started my Scanner Daybook last night. Of course, at 9:00 in the evening, there was no way I was making a run to WalMart to buy an unlined, hard cover sketch book to use for my Daybook, so I pulled out a new, unused composition book. I keep a steady supply of those on hand. I have multiple composition books for different things, and none of them are filled up (except the ones that I use for my morning Bible devotions and prayer journals).

I’m working, too, on simplifying things here in this space, decluttering it as it were. This will be a site under construction for a while as I sort things out.

Procrastination: Putting off today what you can do tomorrow

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Or can you?

Yesterday, I walked around the ponds, headphones on, water bottle slung over one shoulder, step tracker clipped on my shirt. I was out for exercise.

That did not stop my roaming eye. As I walked up the powerline right of way, I saw another purple flower—a Maypop blossom! (Some people may call them passion flowers.) These vines grow wild in these parts. After they bloom, they bear fruit. I’ve heard you can eat the fruit, but I never did. When I was a child, I played with Maypops, using sticks to make animals out of them.

When I saw the flower, I was excited! But I was midway through my second lap, and I did not want to interrupt the momentum of the walk. I did not go back for the camera.

I lost the opportunity to take the photo of the purple passion flower//Maypop blossom. Surely, it will be in bloom tomorrow. . . . .

Well, here is what is looks like today.

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It is beginning to close.  It’s a strange-looking thing at this stage.  The good news is, that while I was taking this photo, I saw that there are a few more buds that haven’t opened yet. I will be watching these so that I can get the picture.  And I will be watching for the fruit, too. I may even make a Maypop animal!

Here are some other things I saw along the walk around the pond today.

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Roses in the backyard

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Wild blackberries beginning to ripen

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An interesting bent tree

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The grand oaks that line one side of the dam between “Herbert’s” pond and Gramps’s pond.

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Mushrooms, moss, and fallen leaves—an interesting combination of textures. (No, I did not stage this.)

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Red trumpet vines.

All I have to do is keep my eyes open.

By the way, I’m not exactly upset with myself that I didn’t go back and take a picture yesterday. I carry the memory.