Seven Prompts and a Whopper of a Sunset

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a winter hike.

It might look cold, but the temperature was actually about 50º. Little Elk Creek has become one of our favorite go-to hikes because the trail is mostly level with a gradual incline and the canyon is sheltered from the wind. It was a little slippery due to the packed snow and ice in spots, but our hiking poles helped. Neither of us fell, which is a win in my book.

And then, when we got home, we were treated to one of those sunsets so gorgeous, many of the neighbors were outside snapping pics. Just like me.

All in all, a pretty great day.

You might recall I started the year with grand expectations. “I’m blogging every day this month!” I declared boldly…but three days into Bloganuary, I had a change of heart. Fickle fella that I am, three days after that, I had another change of heart, but didn’t mention it at the time. Too many readers expressed relief that they were off the hook for 31 days of posts.

Hey, now…!!

Nah, that’s okay. I get it. There have been times when I’ve stepped away from the blog for a few days, only to groan out loud when seeing a dozen new posts upon my return. I love y’all, but I’m sure you understand.

However, I did kind of regret bailing out of Bloganuary, because I’ve found a lot of the prompts to be interesting and fun. I follow several bloggers who have been participating and have been enjoying their posts while mentally composing my own responses to the questions.

I’ve decided to revisit some of those prompts, in the words of Jesus Jones, right here, right now. (Hey, maybe that’s the record Pope Francis was stealing!). These will be condensed versions of what I would have churned out, I’m sure.

What does it mean to live boldly?

Embrace change. I have never been afraid to cut my losses, whether in relationships, jobs, or homes. Leaving the comfort of the PNW after almost a quarter-century and moving to South Dakota, halfway across the country, is a great example. Luckily, Tara has the same mentality. We both quit our jobs and headed out into the Great Unknown because we believed our life would be better out here. Giant roll of the dice, to be sure, but everything worked out even better than we hoped. Because we lived boldly.

Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

I could write about defeating diabetes or successfully navigating a long-distance relationship, but I think the fact that I became a writer out of sheer force of will is probably my proudest accomplishment. I knew I had the talent, but completely lacked any experience. Somehow, despite having a B.A. in advertising, I wound up working in customer service positions for years after graduating. Was laid off twice. Took a desperation call center gig. Floundered through almost two years of unemployment. But I came up with a plan and I scratched and clawed and fought like hell to do what I was always meant to. 95% hard work and 5% luck got me here. I should blog the whole story sometime.

What do people incorrectly assume about you?

People always think I’m some kind of goody two shoes. I have an honest face, I guess? I’m not saying I’m a closet serial killer following his Dark Passenger or anything, but I’m no angel, either. I’ve done things I’m not proud of. Did other stuff I am proud of but that might raise an eyebrow or two.

What do you like most about your writing?

My ability to incorporate humor into my writing. I’m forever pushing the envelope at work and it’s beginning to pay off.

What makes you laugh?

Scrubs. Tundra. Curb Your Enthusiasm. El Arroyo signs. Pratfalls. “That” kind of humor, whatever “that” is.

If you could, what year would you time travel to, and why?

1992. I was a young college grad, and the world was my oyster. Cellphones didn’t exist yet and computers were an expensive novelty and it was great. Don’t get me wrong; I love technology, but oh how I yearn for those simpler times. If it all disappeared tomorrow I wouldn’t shed a tear. The ‘90s just rocked. Kurt Cobain was still alive. Layne Staley was still alive. Hell, in ’92, Frank Sinatra, George Burns, and Jimmy Stewart were still alive, and Betty White was a spry 70 with three decades left. It was the best of times, it was the best of times.

What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

I love photography. I am by no means a professional, but I think I’ve got a decent eye for composition. Choosing a single favorite photo is an exercise in futility; photographs appeal for many reasons beyond the technical. Many of my faves evoke a sense of nostalgia for the happy memories they bring when I look at them again. This isn’t The One—it’s impossible to narrow my choices down to a single all-time favorite—but I love the wow factor.

I’ve always been a weather guy, and few things get me more excited than a good ol’ fashioned summer thunderstorm. I’m fortunate to live in a place where we get some pretty intense storms, usually between May and August. They build up over the Black Hills and move eastward. The sheer amount of lightning that accompanies some of these storms is amazing. It will light up the sky nonstop, literally every single second, for 30-45 minutes easily. Makes for some fun evenings!

What I like best about this photo is that it isn’t doctored in any way (other than a little editing to bring out the colors). A lot of lightning photos are “stacked,” which basically involves combining multiple images into one for dramatic effect. It’s pretty cool. Here’s a blog post that talks about how it’s done, if you’re interested. My photo is not stacked; all that lightning was coming from a single cloud bearing down on us. It really illustrates the power (and beauty) of nature! I was standing in our backyard, watching this storm roll in right at sunset. June 4, 2020. It was a particularly wild weather day; this was the third round of storms, with hail, gusty winds, and torrential downpours. I geeked out for hours that day.

The funniest part of all? This isn’t even technically a photo. It’s a frame I exported from a video. Taken on my phone, no less. Capturing lightning with a camera is very difficult. I should know: I tried for years. The video trick makes it so much easier.

Anyway, that was a fun wrap-up. And there’s no such thing as Blogebruary, so back to our regularly scheduled programming.

29 thoughts on “Seven Prompts and a Whopper of a Sunset

  1. I’m the opposite of you–I took January off from blogging! I didn’t mean to, I just got busy with other projects (one of them being childrearing during a Pandemic) and had some injuries and other health issues (nothing serious, still dodging COVID). Started three different posts and maybe I’ll have one by Lunar New Year (Tuesday).

    Love the lightning photo video. Eyeing your snowy hike enviously.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you’ve mentioned that it was 50F on that walk. I saw the lady in the photo without a jacket and I got cold for her. Somehow, I’ve never been able to enjoy snow in a warmer type of weather. Maybe one day…

    #Bloganuary had been a rollercoaster for me. Definitely out of my comfort zone, but hey – it is what it is and I gave it a try.

    The photo of lightning is pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I contemplated doing a post a day in January, so you got farther along than I did. I like that you found some questions that called to you. Some days answering is the best way to keep blogging. Love the Little Elk Creek photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never gave Bloganuary a second thought, even though I’m usually up for a challenge. I leave my daily blogging for April – that’s quite enough of a challenge for me even though I share the posts on my co-hosted fiction site. I have tucked a few of them away for blogging on in the future.

    Your photos are fab – the sunset and the lightning in particular & I admire the route of your hike (even if my knee gave me a tweak just in case I was thinking seriously about anything like it). One day, post replacement surgery, maybe then. I certainly hope so.

    I’d pay good money to read the full blog post on what people incorrectly assume about you though 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your favorite hiking spot looks very serene; nice that you had 50 degree weather.

    I could possibly commit to write something every day; short and sweet that is. Wait is my blog even considered writing?
    But, reading blogs and reading them thoroughly (not just looking at the pictures and saying SO PRETTY) takes time. I’m one of those who doesn’t like to post more than I can read. Does that make sense? I know. I’m weird.
    I liked your prompt answers; I learn more about Mark each post!
    Oh, and that photo of the lightning: SO PRETTY!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I try to be as open a book as possible.

      “Reading blogs thoroughly takes time.” Amen to that! It’s why I only follow people whose writing truly interests me. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time.

      Liked by 1 person

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