Word and Image

Archive for November, 2018


There was a game I played once upon a time. You controlled an ant colony and the goal was to get into the house…  We got ants! I’ve had them before in Manhattan. Once a year in the late spring they would march across the floor and counters from one end of the apartment to the other… literally in one door and out the other.  It was a migration or like an old worn caravan trail. They’d parade for a week or so and disappear till next year. I never could figure out where they originated. And we never did eradicate them. Now I have another batch. They showed up in my house. Ant traps. Nah! They walked around and under but not into the traps. Boric acid? It seems to have worked. This stuff is 4% of the active ingredients (much of the rest is inert) in the ant traps. So I went to the pharmacy and got straight up boric acid for a few bucks. I laid it down thick enough that I could see white spots on the ant heads. They definitely got it. I’m still waiting to see if they go. If it wasn’t happening on my counters as we speak, I’d be laughing too…. I hate bugs.

Epilogue: The stuff works – boric acid. Ant traps are way to slow for me. A day later (after boric acid), the numbers were drastically reduced. And a few days after that they were gone. Unfortunately, ants are showing up in other areas of the house too. So far boric acid is working wherever else I have tried to treat. Sometimes it helps to read the label on things (ant traps) you buy. I still have plenty of powder. And all cats are accounted for.

High jump

My cats rule! My walls are not crooked. Ha. I built this chair rail for Willow. He likes to jump to the counter ledge. He can do it in one standing leap. He’s better than any human high jumper I ever saw. The only downside is that Willow likes to use his hind claws to assist. That has left a horizontal dirt mark on the wall. I could wash or repaint. But I figured that the rail would give him an assist and we all go away winners. Yes, I know it doesn’t quite match and there are no chairs here. But look, I attached it without any hardware (screws) showing. After I put it up, Willow hasn’t jumped to the ledge again.



At a certain age they tell you to downsize. You can’t take it with you. You are allowed to look. How about a Welsh chicken coop cupboard? Never seen one till now. I didn’t know I wanted one. This was a monster piece more than 10 foot wide. Put your dinner in the coop and you don’t have to go out later to catch it. Rabbit, chicken, it’s been done before. They wanted $thousands.


A small town. I can’t remember which. Go there. There is native American art. It’s a town of few stores. Few enough people find it. The prices are high. Why not? There’s simply very little traffic.

Garish porcelain?  I neglected to image an oyster plate. We learned they come from France. The valuable collectable ones go for $hundreds. Now you know too. I don’t want one. I don’t much care to eat oysters. Green Hoosier glass? It’s not depression uranium glass. No value. About $9 on eBay. Just looking. I don’t have room on the shelf. I guess I’ll build some.



After my last post: one image. Ha. There are plenty of beautiful women. This is a standout. Does she know it? I think it was her complexion that caught my eye. Or? It was an instant. An image or two. I couldn’t help it. She’s outstanding in a way that one appreciates art. I was with the one I love. Don’t get any other ideas. This was art. The love of your life is an entirely different concept.

I have deju vu dreams. Really. And periodically I see the scenario replay in real life. Just like the dream… i once dreamed of a woman I was instantly madly in love with. I awoke and knew in my heart I would have left my wife for this woman…. Oh the guilt!! The dream has never come to pass…. luckily, I remain alive. I’m pretty certain I would not leave the one I love for another. Certain! Very!

How many?

Someone the other day asked how many pictures do you have? How many are on display? What do you do with your images? Share. I share a small fraction. I hardly print any. And there are a few on the desktop of my computer. Screensavers?


The other how many question is: how many images do you shoot? How many of the same subject?

I can’t really answer. It turns out the last image was the best? Or it was random? Or I lost interest? There’s no answer. More images means more choices. It means more editing. I’ve been shooting a lot more with digital being so easy to shoot. There’s not too much downside. Memory cards are not expensive. Why not delete immediate failures? One image is enough. It is akin to deleting all of your rejects. But, a hard drive takes so little space.

I shot another series of bugs. I hate bugs. And I especially hate big bugs. Less is more. I should just post one single image and then editorialize. This is a photo blog. And if I don’t show you more examples the images will be on my hard drive never to be seen. Good strong images one and all. One image, whittle it down to one image?


Selling “Stuff”

Oyster cans. Empty! Yup! Empty as in they have been eaten (the oysters) and can is empty. Empty! How much will you pay for an empty can? $59? Huh! Ha! Really!? Nope. Just looking thank you very much. There are plenty of empty tins to be had for a lot less. Personally, I prefer the product to the container. Wouldn’t you?

Seen on the bottom. At least take off the original sales sticker before you try to stick it to me. Ha ha. Idiot! And no, it’s not a sugar shaker. Dumb and dumber…

Dumping. We haven’t seen green glass Sunbeam glass. Someone must have come across a lot of it and dumped it upon the market across several stores on this particular day. I remember the brand. The bread was not memorable. The glass was forgettable. Nope. It’s amazing what they made and tried to sell.

Ghost Church

How do you film a ghost? Good question. Good answer. …’cause I don’t know. It’s not easy. The questions begs an answer. There’s not much to see… or to effectively record. I suppose that’s the answer too. Confused? I might yet be buried here. It’s a former church site that has been designated a national historic landmark property but they did not landmark the building. The church was collapsing. The solution? Ghost church. I’ve never seen nor heard of one. It’s surely different. It’s in the middle of nowhere. So, I doubt there will be many folks visiting. Now you know about as much as I do without resorting to an internet search.

Follow up: They painted it. I have mixed feelings about the paint job. It does stand out. I suppose it might even look spooky on a moonlit night.


walid copy

I commented in another post once, that I had worked for a madman. It seems that I have had a way of being close to history. I was shocked to read about my former boss in the NYT. It details how he is incarcerated by the Saudi crown prince for crimes unspecified. I don’t quite see the point of the article. One could speculate along many lines of thought. Walid was a wealthy man. For that there is a common thread. Follow the money. Walid had some cock-eyed beliefs, some good, some questionable. For that he could certainly draw scrutiny and criticism. It’s a small world. If not for the fact that I worked there and knew the man, I would not have given the article another thought.

The “message from God” came to me when they tried to blow up the American embassy in Jeddah within an hour after I passed by at 3am one night in 2016. I was on a plane home shortly after. Never be the last one to leave the party. And, believe in the omen presented to you. I am/was not high enough on the food chain, but “the nail that sticks up, gets hammered.”

Scene at the beach

I found it curious that the gull sat on the sign. He let me take his picture. So, I did. It was a beautiful sunny day. I’m glad to see the gulls are following the rules.


Chew – Hide

I got this cat post when the girls – Feather and Spice – came. I planned to return it. It was, in my opinion, a low use toy. I was forbidden. It got some use, occasionally, from time to time. Then the twins arrived. They’ve been all over it. It turns out that I was wrong. If you look you can see the price on the price tag. I really had intended to return the thing. I guess not, now.

Have you ever seen a baby close its eyes and assume you cannot see him? Our cats hide behind the sheer curtains and presume they are hidden. Elle is not fooled at all. I guess it depends upon which side of the curtain you sit.



Laugh if you will. I was with a Russian trainer in Saudi. She was tough as nails and stronger than any of us guys in her group. It was taboo, I’m sure, to be taking a class from a woman. But the CEO was in the class. And the doors were locked. Meanwhile, Elle is shy. But on occasion she just does some odd and funny poses. Even on my best day I can’t do this pose.


We were leaving the pool area. My last two shots. Yup. Facing the wall? Were they bad or just asocial? How about this revival meeting? I have lots of questions. But I did not stay to ask them. Maybe I should have tried to discover the real story.

Would you believe this?

I thought I had taken a fantastic picture. I thought I had a hummingbird! Nope! I was promptly corrected out of hand – hummingbird moth. Really! Did they make up that ID? It was a correct identification. Never heard of it! Apparently, a lot of other people have. It was kind of spooky bizarre. I caught the shot as the bug was hovering over the flowers. I got exactly these two shots that were good enough to post. I’m pretty amazed myself. I sent to the kids. Immediately, David responded that he had seen them in Joshua Tree park. I’ve been there. I did not see them. Oh well, sometimes I discover new and amazing things to find that others know all about it. This was a lot of fun to find and share. And I can say that I have never seen this before. You may feel free to “ho hum” now.

On her phone………….


Build a Bear had a sale. I didn’t know. It was pay your age. That would be over $60…oh! kids… $3. The place was mobbed. The stores and website closed down from sheer volume. The wait at the door was 1 ½ hours according to the store and 5 hours according to disgruntled customers. We didn’t wait. My story? We returned the next day. We waited 40 minutes. It takes time to stuff a bear. The woman in line behind me was 40 minutes on her phone and never looked up. Would she have noticed the line the day before? On a mission, do it!

Bounce Flash


This was a product of my newfound knowledge about bounce flash. You can easily read about the technique so I won’t extend this post to explain. The lighting is even. There are no shadows. We are used to light in all color. But this is more or less daylight balanced. The light is less blue than the snow light you can see thru the window. Flash is specular and harsh associated with sharp shadows. The overall result is pleasing with bounce flash. It works. I’ve done it. There are limitations to using the technique. When it works the result is great. It’s part of my knowledge. Use at your discretion. I add a dig against iPhone; you can’t bounce flash. As for me, I don’t use a big flash on my camera much any more. But you can be sure that professionals do.



Here’s an iconic picture I’d wish I had a do over. It’s actually an historic memory. I’ll explain. I took a photography course with the International Center for Photography, one of the only two courses on photography I ever took. This course was game changing for me. I learned the technique of bounce flash. That’s another story. The instructor gave us each a roll of Polaroid instant slide film. The purpose was to get immediate feedback rather than wait for film development. It was a two-day course so a long turn around was not an option. I experimented with the excess film. “The smile” was the result. Unfortunately, the film media is crap. It does not scan. There is nothing you can do if your film is awful. The product did not last long on the market. Meanwhile I have this great shot and can appreciate the image but not as much as if I had shot it on proper film. Salvage strategy? The slide scanner had too many defects in the reproduction. What to do? I went to the bag of tricks in my head. Problem solving by experience and experimentation – photograph the slide. Yup. The reproduction lacks detail but the result is a smooth transition of color without the lines and grain of the film overwhelming the picture. It worked. At least it is less worse. I can live with the result.

2023 25 David smile

The follow up: David and I remember this shot. We tried to recreate it again years later. It’s a good photograph. But it’s not the same as the original in its spontaneous smile and warmth. Close but no cigar.


1857 08 David Jane wrapping.jpg

The best part of Christmas? The after party. We kind of overdid it in the gift department. Conspicuous consumption. Guilty. Sorry. It was overcompensation for a childhood in which we each got exactly one present each year. The consequence of it all was that there was actually some serious cleanup required. Sometimes it was not as seriously undertaken as I might have wanted. Why bother with presents when the wrapping could provide so much entertainment?


Look what I’ve done! The concept and planning have been going on for more than a year. The base was built in one afternoon back in December 2017. Then the project sat in the garage until August 25. From then on the bookcase was slowly assembled. The biggest problem was wrestling large pieces of wood. The assembly was painstaking. It’s solid. It’s straight. It’s huge. You might ask, why hoard all of your old medical books? I am retired. It’s not like I’m going to start working again. There is still space remaining for more though I would sorely like to downsize. I read ebooks now. Otherwise, the paperback collection would be considerably more. Hey! It’s pretty. Finished. Next project? Yes, there will be a next project. Meanwhile, some might question the notion of starting with something so big. At last, after considerable time (years) I feel like I’ve moved in.



I’m happily exhausted. This has been a project in the works for a long time. It’s been a project in progress since the summer. So, for months the house has been a mess. Each step was painstaking. No mistakes!! Only perfection would do. It has to look professional. Otherwise – failure.

I’m cheap. In the past other craftsman have built bookcases in my homes and I have paid handsomely (very). This time I decided to do it myself. The wood was expensive. Sure! But the construction? I spent countless hours working on each step. I had a rough plan. And then I built it to fit the space, right down to the inch. Yes, there was some last minute adjustments in order to fit the pieces into place. Yeah, try and persuade a sheet of 4’X8′ plywood to move a millimeter or two. It’s easy to move it an inch. It’s the last few mm that determine perfection. Yes, there are errors. It ain’t brain surgery! No one dies. It’s unfinished yet. That’s the one big difference. Everyone expects you to finish brain surgery the same day. Now, that’s pressure. Think of it another way: it’s all in the finish…


1930 32 David Bill cards

No, Bill did not return for a rematch with David. This was some sort of card collection. Kids would collect cards of some sort. It was not baseball but some kind of fantasy game. David was demonstrating. Bill was demonstrating amused ignorance at what makes little ones tick. And now it has become my turn. There are enough grandkids around that I don’t understand things like Minecraft. I’m probably even spelling it wrong.


2474 05 David Bill othello

Even in this out of focus shot you can surmise that Bill is concentrating. Othello is devilishly easy to learn. The strategy is a bit more complicated. And if you don’t pay attention you can easily lose. I’ve played the computer and it’s often touch and go. It took me a while to get the strategy and win >50%. David got it. He was beating Bill consistently. And then, Bill tried to win. And he lost. Imagine getting beat by your pipsqueak grandson. He stopped playing. He didn’t want to get beat anymore. He? The loser would be Bill.


2019 09 David cards

This would be David playing cards with Audrey and Lila. They were indulging him? He was seriously beating them. Can’t you tell? Cute! It makes me smile to see his devilish grin behind the cards. And did you notice he has all the cards in front of him. Luckily no money changed hands.

It amazes me how my photography is a memory anchor. I remember this shot and can tell you who was there and can’t be fully seen. There are shots I’ve taken and don’t remember too. Memory is not like a computer. I wish…

Fast forward… we played Catan with Dave the other night. He won. He has always had a good grasp of games and strategy. I’ve always been older (Ha!) and it dawns on me, that he grew up and is better than me.


If I have to explain the symbolism, you are lost. Okay! The recent election is just sinking in. No one came away happy. It was not a clear cut Democratic victory. There was something for everyone. In these days of endless spin our fear(ful)less leader spun out of control with his remarks and lies about the grand republican victory. Nope! There, so far, has been a 35 seat gain in the House of Representatives. That would be greater than at any time since 1974 after Nixon resigned. Resigned!… ahead of his own impeachment and conviction. See any parallels? Democrats don’t feel much better about things. Outright repudiation will have to wait. At least the madness is  at a stop. It cannot be reversed outright. The games have begun and the 2020 derby is starting. Blue? Wave? Investigation? Can you say, “Here are my tax returns.” Yeah, say goodbye, you lying sack of …


1102 24 Julia shuffleboard

Jules was born in Manhattan. City kid. She did not like grass. In bare feet she hated the feel of grass. It was quite a surprise to me when she refused to step off the shuffleboard court. And then I realized what a wonderful baby sitter we had. Put her on the court surrounded by grass and no need to worry that she’d run off. It didn’t last long ‘cause her mom didn’t trust to fate. I had to keep watching Jules like a hawk.