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A Post About Myself (*cringe*)…

I’ve said it before, but I love the wide-open feeling of a new calendar year. I don’t make resolutions or think of it as a way to make a fresh start for anything big, as that can happen any time of the year. But I do like to sort of take stock of things, particularly in my work. The fall season is always busy for me and then is quickly followed by the hustle and bustle of the winter holidays. After it’s all finished, I enjoy this early January quiet in my professional life to think of new things I’d like to try and new projects I’d like to start in the coming year.

One of my goals for this year is to finally try and take the advice that I’ve been given many times: share more of who I am, what I care about and what my life looks like with all of you. So in the spirit of that fresh start and wide-open kind of freedom, I thought I’d start with a list: 5 things you might not know about me. It feels a bit self-indulgent to write a post all about myself, but here it goes anyway…

1. I love to swim.

No, I really, really love to swim–pools, lakes, rivers, oceans–I love them all. I swam competitively as a kid and now I swim on a practice team for adults (it’s called a masters team, but I am in no way a master!). However, no matter the setting swimming simply brings me joy. I love cold water, bobbing in the waves, diving deep and listening to the quiet of the water, swimming far out from shore and floating on my back to look at the sky. Swimming has my heart. And I could obviously go on and on about this, but I think you probably get the idea.

Getting ready for my first ever open water race, summer 2023.

2. I moved to Madison sight unseen.

I definitely love a good adventure and a leap into the unknown, but when my family and I moved to Madison in 2017 I really pushed those character tendencies toward their limit. My husband and I knew we wanted to move, he got a good job offer here and after talking to a friend who grew up in Madison we thought, well, let’s give it a try. After he’d already accepted the position, we came for a weeklong visit that February to find somewhere to live and while I was excited, it was a bit of shock to realize that I had agreed to actually live in this unknown place. I’d lived my whole life in the west and southwest and really had no idea what the midwest or Madison would be like.

Of course, I’ve subsequently come to love this wonderful city and am immensely grateful we landed here. I like to keep this example in my metaphorical back pocket as proof that impulsivity is sometimes a good thing. 🙂 (When you see me next, ask me about the thematically related story of how we bought a new car while on vacation!)

In our dining room, not long after moving into our Madison home.

3. I used to live in a pene-exclave.

And here you might ask what exactly a pene-exclave is. As it relates to cities or towns, it’s a community you can only access via another country or territory. You can read all about my favorite pene-exclave and former home, Point Roberts, Washington, by heading to its extensive Wikipedia entry. But if you don’t feel like reading all that here’s your tldr: the border between the US and Canada was drawn in a straight line and no one seemed to notice until all was said and done, that that straight line placed the very bottom tip of a peninsula south of what is now Vancouver, British Columbia, in the United States. That border line cut Point Roberts (or Point Bob, if you want to sound like a local) off from the contiguous U.S. and makes it impossible to access it by road without traveling through Canada.

It is an unbelievably beautiful 5 square mile peninsula, surrounded by gorgeous beaches and full of quiet forests. Living there was an adventure, in so many ways. We crossed the border between the US and Canada at least once per day and even though we lived in a very rural community, the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Vancouver was only about 45 minutes away. If you discount the significant commute times, it was in many ways it was the best of both worlds.

Sisters in Point Roberts.

4. Greyhounds are my brand of dog.

I’m guessing there are people in your life who are faithfully committed to a specific type of something. It could be cars, clothes, restaurants, electronics that they choose over and over again. In my case, I hold an incredibly deep (dog)brand loyalty for greyhounds. Yes, it is true that they are completely ridiculous dogs. They need to wear coats in the winter, they don’t do well in the heat, they have breed specific medical needs, their thin skin tears like paper, they are soooo dramatic (just google “greyhound scream of death” for examples), but they are absolutely the best dogs ever. They are calm, gentle, great with kids, boundlessly loving, champion snugglers, silly, playful and run with an unbelievable beauty. My husband and I have had four greyhounds in our time together: Callie and Susan who are both deceased and our current dynamic duo, Frances and Gloria. All of them are/were uniquely perfect greys. I think we’re in it for life.

Frances: forever finding that sunshine.

5. I never thought I’d be a photographer.

I love photographs and have since I can remember being able to appreciate art. And I’ve taken photos as a hobby for much of my life, but high-school-senior-me would never have possibly imagined that photography would end up as her profession of choice. I studied foreign languages and history as an undergrad and English Lit in grad school and I had every intention of continuing along that path as I transitioned out of school and into the big wide world. But as we all know, life often doesn’t turn out as we envision when we’re young and so here I am, camera in hand. And although I didn’t plan on becoming a photographer, I am remarkably lucky that the circuitous road I’ve walked so far in life led me to a career that I love.

Madison WI Photographer
Me in 2017. Baby-wearing and finding my reflection in windows of the Chazen.
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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI