plural noun: Americana
- things associated with the culture and history of America
Today is Americana. Flags, concerts, roadside signs, and kitsch. I certainly don’t know whether the American flag is a symbol of patriotism or of conservative Republican politics anymore. Rebel flags symbolize the Civil War never ended. White supremacy? Political signs assiduously avoid party affiliation in an attempt to build name recognition. When did that happen? And then there is just plain kitsch. The chicken at Royal Farms symbolizes its roots as a chicken farm and restaurant.
Blue tint, out my car window; I could correct it. But, nah! “See the USA in your Chevrolet… la da da, da da, da da, da da da….”
Not! Life is never the same. We finished a kitchen renovation. What happens if you don’t like the color? Now, for the backsplash – I was gonna tackle that job. Experience? None! Ha ha. Confidence or stupidity? Easy! Except if, the tiles are not fitting the wall height or width, and, there are outlets to cut around. Oh boy! The weather! It’s always fun. Clouds, color, the moon all provide ample opportunity to capture a good image. Why are there always telephone poles in my images? Flowers?! Too numerous to count. While renovating we had to eat out. Eh? You know who likes to eat out!
We’ve been here nearly eight years. We tried once a few years back. But we failed. It was closed because of the cold during a winter’s day. So, finally, we gave it another try. We were out of options or bored. It’s the only British place around. I mean fish and chips and mushy peas and sticky toffee pudding. Yes! Colleen adores mushy peas. Really! We hit all the favs. I got coconut shrimp. What’s not to love? A mini cooper in the foyer!? We had a good time. We will return. It just took so long to pull the trigger to try the place.
We had an interesting night. It was dusk into night. We were traveling home. The moon rose thru the clouds. The clouds were the same color as the sky. There were no clouds? I have never seen this. It was neat. We never did stop the car. I shot thru the windshield while paused at traffic lights. Nuts! We got to the beach. Colleen calls it moon path. I got it. It was not so easy. The night was dark. Of course. The settings were hard to adjust. I used manual to choose. Oh drat! I got the better shots on auto. Hey! It was an interesting night.
… new dress? Huh? Well, we found a new dress. I help. Colleen lets me suggest and she decides. It has nothing to do with the classic enquiry, “Do I look fat in this dress?” (enquire simply meant “ask,” while inquire was used for formal investigations)
Dinner out. Alas, this restaurant, this one is closing permanently in a few days. Oh boy! We almost didn’t come here. Lucky! Too many insurance claims for the owner. We had dinner: appetizer, main, and dessert. Maybe not (usually not) dessert, but it was the last supper…. I guess dessert was the better title. Peanut butter pie. Mmmmm.
Scotland! I owe Colleen a return trip. Our flight was canceled at the onset of the Covid shutdown. It rains a lot in Scotland, hence the same rain jackets throughout. This time we will take more rain gear. The thistle is a Scottish national emblem. Cat? Shhh… not mine. We cannot pass a bookstore without stopping.
Ah! Revival? I have resurrected my old blog site Photocritical. In case you clicked on it in the past… I have recently begun to post there once again. Thank you all who have followed and visited this blog. Meanwhile, I am making a shameless plug for you to have the opportunity to see other photos.
Eight pictures six cats. We are doing a kitchen renovation. The cats are kept free and separated from the workmen. I got two or three (cats). They are spooked. Strangers! So, they hide. The others are with Colleen and want to see. They are ready to go explore the doings. Sort of. Several want out. Freedom! And Feather? She has steadfastly remained hidden under the couch since the doorbell rang.
By the time this post goes live it will either be a great success or…. (Keep your mouth shut, declare victory.) It was a long time coming. We updated the kitchen. We kept the cabinet boxes and just had the cabinet face done over. The appliances are all new, now. It took years. One appliance died followed by another and… The last to go was the oven/microwave. That was $$$. Combine two appliances and you pay $$$ for the pair.
The counters are clear!! That will never happen again! Ever! But we will try. Ever resolute we will try not to store back all the clutter we have not used since the stuff went into the cabinets. Sentimental!?!? For sure! After all it is hard to get rid of a yogurt-maker we haven’t used in eight years. We eat yogurt all the time.
I am putting in a glass tile backsplash. I can’t wait to cut tile around the outlets. So much fun!! And yes, there was time for games before the real work started.
Today is a series of non sequiturs. Bugs? Caterpillars? They walk into my pictures and jump onto my camera sensor on the way to my memory card. See the fine hair detail on the bug? There’s not much detail in the caterpillar. Was it me or the worm? Colleen made a cobbler from fresh picked white peaches. Yum! Cats preoccupy our attention. I am charged with getting their pictures. It’s a specialty. Cats do not pose on demand. Ever! Clouds? Lately the clouds have been distinct against a bright blue sky. Great! Flowers? Macro lens and super detail. The featured flower gives me the impression it is waiting to devour an unsuspecting bug that wanders into its maw. So many pictures so little time…
It’s magic. I got a camera that knows to compensate for low light. I just have to compose the image and press the shutter. Ok, there is more to it than that. But for the sake of this post I need only discuss the critical moment. The camera does the heavy lifting for me.
The critical moment? It seems that patience is the most important issue. Start early and go until you are past prime. I am after color. The blaze of orange just before the sun rises above the horizon… Unfortunately, dawn comes at an early hour. I am fond of sleeping. But, old age has a way of getting me into bed early and rising before dawn. It works!
How much is enough? I never know. It’s not a competition. Photo op? How many shots do you take? This was my second time seeing Quinn. I won’t see Noa or Quinn for a while. They live far away. I shot throughout the day – about 7 hours. Colleen shot. Jules shot. Jeff shot with my camera. We got 2000 images. Do you think there was a good one? Sure! From a certain perspective the day was a success. A great success?! I think the moments will be more precious as time passes.
Speaking of…. We have a beach cam. I monitor it from my Mac from home. Too lazy to go to the beach for sunrise? Not every day is guaranteed a great sunrise. I am lazy. The moment of truth? Things start off slow and always go forward. So timing is the key. You miss the moment and you cannot go backward. This particular morning I started early. Sunrise is always different – in so many ways. Folks gather to watch. There is always someone down on the sand. The glow builds until the sun crests the horizon. Voila. Another sunrise. Another day. Good morning!
Well, I made a cake for Jules’ birthday. Lisa did too. See! See the difference! That’s a cake! It took Lisa three days to make it. Mine was a few hours work. See! I laugh. I never represented that I could bake. And I still don’t! The thought was what counts. And we blew out the candles…. Lisa was still at work. Yes, some of us do … work. And Noa is eating lasagna. She had to finish her dinner before cake. And, Quinn was asleep, in case you were wondering where she was at dinnertime. And the pose (Quinn’s) was composited to show a smiling baby. Hey! My cake was for real!! Ha ha. There’s cake. And then, there’s cake!
Birthday. It’s Jules belated (one day) birthday. Birthday cake! I made carrot cake. The bastards! The icing in a can only covers about half the cake. Why?!! So, we bought two (cans). Noa asked for cake all day long as soon as I brought it thru the door. Now! Dinner, dessert, birthday cake, the moment was upon us. Candles! Light the candles, blow them out, eat cake! Nope! Not happening! Sad, not really, Noa was told to eat/finish her dinner first. No tantrum. She ate dinner and then had cake. … all gone! What good discipline. Ya gotta admire modern parenting!
Ya gotta love Jane. You are only as good as your filing system? Jane asked, “ You took this picture in Dec 2017. I want an enlargement framed.” Well, you know that specificity resulted in a series of queries about which picture and the fact that I take a lot (of pictures) about 7,000 a month….. The result is the beach erosion shot. I looked at the metadata – img_2008. Easy!! Go to the external drive where all the images of this number could be – about 400k images worth…. Nope, nada… the metadata was incorrect. I got a nice sunset?
It won’t happen via database or searching Dec, 2017 files. How about manually visually checking? Well, it would help if I had the correct year. Nope. Jane could not remember the exact year when I tried to pin her down a bit more. Jane?!?!!!!
We were in our brief Cracker Barrel stage. The cats sleep on Colleen. Dave? Nice hat, it was for Xmas. I don’t think he ever wore it again. When was Soph this small?
More December? Different years? After all, it is Jane. Did I mention she has a completely different logical thought process than ordinary women – aka “ditzy!!” Ya gotta love her. She throws non sequiturs like comedy punchlines. Lucy and the football, I bite every time. Oy!
As I said, “briefly” – Cracker Barrel – once more. We were in DC – the one and only – when I first got this camera. The “img_” indicates the file Jane seeks came from this camera. She swears I took the picture without any other backup collaboration. I remember beach erosion and taking pictures of it. Where? When? My database does not come up with any key words – nor’easter, storm, erosion, etc. Venus rising from the sea? We stayed in a mansion in Elkins one Xmas. Claw foot tub, it wsa picturesque, and, cold!! I was about as surprised as you (and her) to find this picture in the December collection. And, I found that I had bought the silly hat a couple years earlier. Jokes can sometimes take a while to get to the punchline – I don’t think he ever wore it, again.
Meanwhile I never did find the picture Jane wants. I probably never took it. Who knows?
As for December – I have been in a lot of places – Elkins, Colorado, Arizona, California, Washington DC, Saudi Arabia, Ohio; Cracker Barrel, Grand Canyon, Eddie Bauer… An I have been with great beauty, family, friends, and my dearest Colleen. This partial list tells me that December has been a fun month full of surprise and adventure thanks to Colleen, who always seems to have an idea and a plan. And thanks to Jane I am still looking for that picture.
Endearing. Colleen loves games. She asked me early on when we met whether I liked to play games. Little did I know… She loves it. Fun! She’s a good sport about it. She gets immersed in the play and everything else falls away. Win or lose matters not. It is just the fun of the play. I did not think they could pull it off. But both kids slept and Noa was good enough to let us play when she was awake. A newborn sleeps – a lot. So Quinn was never in the game. Colleen had such a good time.
Noa? Nary a problem. She’s reached the right cute age now. She has a million dollar smile and mischievous nature just like grandpa. The only problem for her is that I am bigger.
Is it picture or story? I did not see who took our picture over Jules’ shoulder. Colleen or Jeff? Brilliant. I see this happen infrequently. Picture in picture. Neat! I guess in this post the pictures illustrate the story. Ordinarily it is the picture that inspires the anecdote. Well, it’s entertainment no matter how you look at things.
What works? At least there are choices to choose from. Ummm, never end a sentence with a preposition. English, seventh grade, Miss Digman. Oh boy… I can hear her admonishment now.
Smile, focus, gaze directly into my lens…. I wish. As I shoot a way, I create choices in my edit process. It’s good to have choices to choose from. (yeah, yeah, another proposition)
Composition. I had a friend Charlie. He loved the pictures to show the whole thing (child). But focus (take a couple meanings) can cut different ways. No matter what, it is critical. Looking into my lens has it’s advantages too. No complaint. It’s good to have choices. Maybe the title should have been “choices?”
Time flies. Patience was never my forte. Today’s news reported reviving dead pig cells – after death! My my! One last visit before every one departs for home. We made a long road trip, a day trip, to see the grands. Cute! It is bittersweet. We don’t see them often and will not see them for a while now. They grow up so fast! It’s already autumn and every one has returned to their school routines. Will it ever be routine? Covid is among us still. Plot and plan, who flies/drives next? Parenting is so different nowadays. Grandparenting? It’s hard work, just go with it.
Photography? In the old days I might have been content to take a couple pictures of the day – slides – and a group picture at some point. Film cost! So, at most a roll (of 36) or two. Four would have been extravagant. Do the math. I did nearly 2000 shots. Digital is free. Memory cards are cheap. Go for it. It was a memorable day. Here were representative shots of start and finish.
… picture you took in December, 2017? Jane. You gotta love her. She asks innocent questions as though magic occurs regularly. I got a lot of pictures that I take every year. In 2017 I took 45, 000 images. Ok!? December, easy right?! No. She could be referring to any other picture I took and that showed up in some context in December, 2017. For instance I might have posted said picture to my blog and it came from some other time? I have a good database and file system. I can look at images in multiple ways and can usually find anything. But!?! I need a clue. Jane gave me sparse clues without context. So I have no idea what pic? She could not send me a copy. It’s easy to copy anything you see. She could even take a picture of what she saw. She has an iPhone. Nope. It would not send. ???? Ok. I give up. Maybe some day????
Meanwhile, in my files there were these two iconic shots that had a copy date from December, 2017. They were taken many years before in Cape Cod when I ran away from home. (That’s another story.) The house is gone now – torn down in the name of progress and revenue $. Nope. Not the one, I shall await Jane. Or, she didn’t care enough to try harder and forgot about it all.
Winterthur. Springtime. Spectacular! We should do this more and again. We never do. There is always so much else to do and so much to see. I live near the beach and don’t go to walk there nearly as often as we should.
The azaleas are in full bloom. Peonies, rhododendron, and the hydrangea all contribute to the colorful display. Mr. DuPont would be happy to know his garden legacy is so appreciated. We certainly felt privileged to be there among his blooms planted so long ago that others would benefit so many years later.
Time has passed. 9/11 was more than 20 years ago. I remember the morning in New York City vividly. I was in my kitchen looking south toward the WTC and saw smoke rising. Soon enough the tragedy of the day unfolded as I shot slides from my rooftop as the buildings collapsed. I waited in disbelief as I waited for the buildings to reappear from the smoke. No building so massive could simply collapse. I am heartsick to this day.
Last year? Indian powwow. We attended. Had I forgotten 9/11? We were reminded amid the pomp and pageantry. A flag on a fire truck flew over the venue in tribute to the day and those we lost but have not forgotten.
Pearl Harbor happened before I was born. For many years in my childhood, the day was remembered. Memories fade. The remembrance of “infamy” is not so vivid nor talked about any longer. I wonder. Primary memory: I was there. Or? Collective sadness: it happened and great loss occurred.
9/11 – it was clear blue sky day, then and now.
I sit here thousands of miles away writing today. It is about racism in America. Colleen and I experienced white supremacy up close in Kingman a few years ago. We were stopping for lunch and the internet recommended Mr Dz. Great! We were ignored when we walked into the restaurant. Ignored! The auto dealer’s window next door said it all. Silently. There was a man inside who glared at me as I parked and got out of the car. If looks could kill…. He simply glared “go away” in the strongest terms body language and facial expression ever could do. Even Collen was spooked. She urged us to get out of “here” right now! Naturally I lingered long enough to take a few photos. My ignorance was rewarded inside Mr Dz. Zero star review. Same for the town. We will not be stopping there again. Ever! It’s mutual.
Small town? How do you capture its essence. A few pictures of downtown would be a start. The flavor can be caught in a few storefronts. It helps to get a shot of the name of the town on a sign. After that it was a bright sunny day. Watch your exposure. How do you know a town is unwelcoming? Did you ever have a bad feeling? Have you ever had bad dreams?
This bad dream caught my eye again as I scrolled my photo catalog this morning. It evoked a gut reaction given the times we are in right now. Seditious insurrection and lies are being flung about in denial of reality. You decide. It’s still America. I know what I see(n).
I cruise the garden for photo ops. I sit and photo the dawn and dusk out my window. I get a gallery’s worth of pics. My cats are not exactly cooperative. The key is to focus on their eyes. They won’t look at me. Boring. Me?! Ha ha! Bugs come and go. They fly in and I shoot. Water? It rains and I water. It’s another opportunity. Life is pretty peaceful right now. I hope it stays that way.
It depends on how you say it and where you put emphasis on the words. There are multiple meanings. Jane responded she liked the triplets. ?? dunno? Meanwhile, how much fun can you pack into one day?
We took the slow road up US 9 to get. Sometimes, it is about the journey and the scenery. One mansion and gardens, one farmer’s market, one museum, and dinner! Wonderful! Behind every great man is a woman – a great one! That’s what the tour guide said. Antics? Triplets?? Whatever! It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be fun! And, so it was! Priceless!
Scheduled? No. Unplanned? We had a loose framework – tickets to Nemours and a dinner reservation at either end. In between we made up our own adventures. I love it when a plan works! I changed into khakis for dinner. You cannot see I am without shorts at dinner. Neat trick! Still, no socks.
Antics? Triplets? Photoshop for better or not gets us to an old trick which is amusing or not. Sometimes good and others not so. I just go with it. It fools some and not others. There was never any pretension of skill, only fun.