Word and Image

Photobackstory

Photography: The story behind the image

Latest

Heroes

It’s a small field. There are about 3700 neurosurgeons in the US, not too many more than the average daily kill from covid. It’s unlikely you have heard of any, much less, those who are heroes to me. Yasergil, Heifetz, Cloward… Ransahoff. Yasergil and Heifetz pioneered early aneurysm clips that revolutionized how we treated the berry (time bomb) aneurysms in the head. Cloward pioneered the anterior cervical decompression and fusion. He kept his donor bone in his refrigerator in his home at one point. Ransahoff, was my training director. His contribution was to teach me judgement – when to operate, how far to go, when to get out. He famously had a penile implant, facial plastic surgery, and finally committed suicide when his memory was failing. I saw these men in their later years too. Fame had been pushed aside by younger surgeons for progress as they were left behind to grow ever more frail. It’s life’s cycle. But once upon a time, I walked among giants. I never expected to be fortunate enough to be among them. They were authors and teachers in places far from me. Yet, here we were, once.

Scripted… not

About the last thing my life is about, is scripted. Pretty much all that we (Colleen/me) do, is spontaneous. There is a loose outline (sometimes). And we have a list of things we like to do. Otherwise, very little is scheduled or planned these days. Appointments are few. You can’t get into the bank without an appointment. The library remains closed. My point? I was thinking life is a disorderly Jackson Pollack painting these days. I searched for an illustration for this post before realizing, life is like clouds, never repeated, fleeting, and always different. Beautiful.

Mmmmmmm

From the start to finish all you heard from Colleen was “mmmmm” in one form or another as she slowly savored this Napoleon. It was so touching. She loves my cooking and is so kind. On this occasion, an infrequent occasion (that I bake), she just adored my baking. (It assures that I will live here another year.) We made lemon curd. Yes, if you have lemons – two bags (mistake) – make lemon curd. It would not thicken. Long story short, we finally got it to do so. And I found marscarpone cheese in the market – lemon marscarpone cream! Napoleon, anyone? I have scant experience with puff pastry. Prick the dough with a fork to keep it from rising too much. Hey! That didn’t work! Lemon curd, marscarpone cream, berries (four kinds), and powdered sugar, what could go wrong!! I will treasure the “mmmmm” for a long time. Of course! We tried one before we took them to New Year’s dinner. Who’s counting? Baking is very precise – measure, cut, timing, shape, and appearance. Who cares?

Laying pipe

We went down to the beach to find the federal replenishment program in full swing. How to they do this? They pump sand onto the shore, pristine sand, from about a mile offshore using pipe to carry the sand to the beach. They lay all this enormous length of pipe. Bulldozers spread the sand pile, and, instant beach! I have mixed feelings about the process of messing with Mother Nature. But without the Feds, I would otherwise be on beachfront property about a mile from the current beach.  Erosion can be impressive. The last replenishment saw the beach raised about ten feet higher. Shhh… this enormous project is akin to shoveling … against the tide. I’m still a mile from the ocean front. Does iPhone face recognition work with masks? …’cause we’re headed to the bank next.

Hanging out

Why? The red bellied woodpecker hangs from the feeder. To have a faster getaway? ??? Dunno. He’s a rare sight worth a photo. And the cardinal and blue jay are not common either. They are skittish. We only seem them infrequently and for a few seconds. It’s their version of bird fast food. Eat and go. Another conundrum: the red bellied woodpecker has a grey belly and a red head. There is a red headed woodpecker that is different from this one.

Happiness

Happiness is a warm spot. Elle loves to be by the portable radiator, and, in front of the window is a plus. Nutley does guard duty warding off the squirrel. He is always on alert and at the ready. Right?! Willow has found a soft warm spot in our comforter. Our cats are “indoor” cats. It means no outdoor excursions without supervision. I have escape artists. Ray’s winter outdoor privileges are rescinded.

Camera and my mind’s eye

Sunset is tricky to image. The camera automatically wants to meter the field and washes out the gorgeous colors. You have to fool it into doing what you envision/see. I’m lazy. No, not Photoshop. I use my wits to outwit the camera’s metering. Hey! It works. It’s otherwise too much to search out manual settings. The book cover photo is mine, not the book or title. Hey! They found the picture on the internet and used it! (with permission) Nice! It’s not a living, but I have sold a few pics. Not four, a few.

Paper or box?

Story or illustration? The bottom two pics are to melt your heart – if you are a cat lover (or not). The rest illustrate the story. One good image would do. But I’m lazy and didn’t try to narrow it down. A new box is always certain “cat” entertainment. Everyone (cat) has a go. Climb in and claim your spot. There is no pecking order. First in…. Ok there is an occasional territorial dispute. In a pinch, a bag will do as a cat container. And the wrapping tissue, this was a whole new experience. The paper was a hit. They tossed it around all day … till it was shredded. Yes, a box, send more boxes!

Faith

I must have thousands of images of Patch. Of course! Find one. That’s not so easy. I cannot show you how he liked his “treats.” But, I can show you his favorite basket. He liked his comforts – nestling on the down quilt on our bed. Colleen adopted him before we met again. And though he was her cat, he was our cat. We remember him with smiling, in all the little unspoken wonky habits he kept.

The quintessential image? Patch had a look. He had a partially lidded look. He never seemed to look me straight in the eye. There are people I know whom I look in their eyes and there is deeper thought behind their eyes than what they reveal to the world. Patch had that look. You will see what I mean when tomorrow’s post is published; my other cats engage my look so differently.

Symbolism. Lisa once commented that religion and church were for the symbolism of birth, death, and marriage. Without faith, one gives up symbolism that drives much of the ceremonies of life. (We {Lisa} were married by a judge on a house boat.) On the day Patch died, I saw symbolism in the snow geese at hand. It was a stark cold rainy day. The rain was angel tears? Today the sun finally rose, a promising cold crisp winter morning. It is the third day. I want to believe in a higher spirit. It lifts my heart to know someone I loved is at peace. And, I’m hugging Colleen extra tight today.

The raw emotion I am feeling is not usually on display. I prefer a more irreverent bit of wonky humor on the world around me. The rest is private and only comes out rarely. The last time, was when I connected and wooed Colleen after five decades of separation. Indeed, I am holding tight to her, and more so with appreciation that she is my “one and only.”

Fly away, home

Patch was down with a fatal illness. The other cats seemed to understand. They all gathered in solidarity on the bed with him. Empathic? I don’t know. We have three sets of identical twin cats. They are identical enough that face on, I cannot tell who’s who.

It was a stark cold winter morning when Patchie passed away. It was wet rainy – angel tears. This is the basket he loved to sleep in for the greater part of every day. His twin, Willow, said good-bye. Afterward Patch lay in his basket as though he were asleep. And indeed, he was, now, truly at peace and not suffering. A field of snow geese were feeding in the field next to the vet’s office. Rest in Peace, Patch. Fly with the snow geese. You are free. We loved and love you.