Word and Image

Family

Revival

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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.


You don’t see this

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.


Lately

What’s up?

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…


In the books

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.


Cake?

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!


No cake for you

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!


This one

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.


Likes games

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.


Lessons

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

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.


Azalea woods

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.


Go away! Again

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).


One day

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.


Pin me down

Need a date? 2003. Canon G3. It was my first foray into digital camera thanks to a gracious gift from Lisa. Smart – Lisa. She saw the future. I was still heavily invested in film and film cameras. Too soon Kodak faded and disappeared in the rear view mirror.

In the space of a month I shot Ginny and Pat, my dog Nellie, sights of NY, and at Jule’s track meet. Ask me how I pulled off the selfie? Tripod and timer? It wasn’t hand held. Cellphones were not yet iPhone for years to come.

Meanwhile I was caught up building a cabinet and drawers to house my slide collection. Twenty six drawers, enough to house the current collection and for many years to come – which would be only one more (year). I overbuilt! It was a fun project and the kids helped me enormously. The completed project holds some but not all. Alas, the collection never grew much more. Film was gone in a year for me. I got a lot of drawers that sit empty waiting for slides that never came. It’s bittersweet. Digital images have far surpassed my film consumption in many fewer years than it took to accumulate my collection of slides. Progress? Improvement? Better? Worse? For the most part I think progress is/has been good. Here, Colleen and I have had a fierce recent debate over the earth and the environment and the preservation of natural resources. Stay put or go back? We, just like time, are always moving forward. We discuss and we agree for the most part.


Antique

Some days it is about the story rather than the image. An antique is something older than 100 years. Short of that it is vintage. Ha ha. We are vintage. Less than 100 for sure! But what constitutes old in the eyes of the court? That would be older than 70. That is the age cut off for jury duty – older than 70. Hey hey! Finally! I can thumb my nose at the jury duty notice. Ahem? Too old? Demented? Feeble? Infirm? Dunno, just check the box and decline service. Done.

Meanwhile a variation on an old joke: What’s the worst thing about being a grandpa? Eating (sleeping) with a grandma. Chuckle laugh groan – nope, not this one. She loves to eat out. And, I love her! No more jury duty anxiety. We earned it! Cheers!

For illustrative purpose – that is Spice eating a butterfly. Eewww! And why is it that angels play harps? Just wondering? Moreover, when they picked me for jury duty, I gratefully declined. And, no, I did not say Colleen was old. Hardly! They did not call upon her….


Scene at the antique store

What is it? Seen it? Need one?

I had an early Kodak instamatic camera back in 1965? It was the “100” model and shot 126 film. I got it and we went to the NY World’s Fair in Flushing, NY. Old soda? Can you drink it? At these prices? How about a sewing box? Need one? Dirty or clean? I guess the clean ones sold out. It’s a winder. Wind what? For what? Elephant pottery. Use? Dunno. New! In the box! Food mill. It’s a bargain, you don’t see them around nowadays?

Nostalgia? Memories? We go to the antique store and find more stuff we don’t need and didn’t know we wanted and didn’t know we missed. Fun. But, no.


A year ago

It seems so long ago… but it was but a year ago. I was on a quest for a good pizza. It was not easy and did not come for a good long while. We discovered Milton. So? It’s been there for a long time already… Flowers on my deck, they are the same and they are different. The black-eyed Susan were abundant. Perennial plants, they did not come back robustly again this year. Peas was a brand new kitten that came home with us. Donna had a different wig. Mozzarella and tomatoes, a summer classic is usually served in one dish together. The lighting is stark. I guess that is why the image caught my eye. The selfie: I just got a throwback Canon G3, my first digital camera. The original went lost and missing. Not too bad, except I got old. It’s a year later and I am still seeking a good pizza.


About 100 a day

It’s still a challenge. I chase the elusive quintessential “great” shot. There are many good shots. But the one I seek seems to be just out of sight, touch, range…. Good? You bet! Will I ever get “it?”

I started with my first digital image in 2003. My first camera was in 1965. My first slide… first black and white Tri-X I loaded myself… Let’s stick to digital. I think I have about 700k digital images going back to 2003. I’m not bragging. The calculation is that the numbers amount to about 100 images a day since 2003. Not many, not a few, it’s a steady number and staggering at times. Many days I take nary a single photo and on others it could be hundreds and hundreds. Cost is no longer a limiting factor. It boils down to subject and opportunity. I have good gear and just try to be in the right place at the right moment. I will accept any and all good luck. Ooooo! Ah! Yes!


Hullo, g’bye

The family has been gathering for a very long time in this place at this time. Call it reunion. It happens annually. There are fulltime residents/relatives close-by in disparate branches of the family to make massive gatherings of 40 or more. Is it hello? Or good-bye? The picture could go either way. Too soon! Younger. Older. The groups change. It’s all bittersweet. Hugs and kisses. Wave!


Late

Lest anyone would forget – we got married. Colleen said we would never attend the 50th High School reunion unless we were married. We’d lived together about five years. So, we did – get married. We had a house full of summer guests. We left them. They did a great job of clean-up. Pfewf!!

50th High School reunion – we were late to the first event. Ha ha, we got a standing “O” when we arrived late. It seems everyone knew our story. I had not attended any reunion since I left and moved to NYC. Colleen has been back off and on. She has friends and has kept up. Me? Absent without a word. Somehow, I tend to stand out especially among this crowd. A good time was had by all. Can you imagine walking into a room full of old people and wondering when did we get old? Some of us became grandparents. Mostly, we all had successful careers and many of us were retired. Wow! Who’d have thunk it! Time flew. I am at peace with the outcome of my life. At the end of the day if you can say you are happy, that would be the ultimate measure of success. Colleen and I did alright to find each other and to watch each other’s back at the reunion.

Late? Late to the party? I guess it would depend upon your perspective as to whether a happy ending is good no matter when it occurs.


Sorry, I’m standing…

We go to museums. We have fun. The opportunity presents. I take advantage. We get something a little different. If this inspires you…. I don’t bother strangers. We pose one at a time and then the composite is done in post processing. Ok?! If not, sorry. It ain’t perfect. Does it matter? Too many questions. I smile each time I post these to the family. Some in the family may question my sanity. Since my head injury, I have not been in my right head. But, then again, I been doin’ this longer than that.

Disclaimer: No sisters were harmed in the making of these images.

Note: Rauschenberg did White panels in 1951, MOMA, worth $15 million in 2014. White paint on panels, imagine that!!?? He did black panels too. Whoa! Genius! The Emperor’s New Clothes, Hans Christian Andersen. I had to look it up….


I remember this one

I remember taking the pic of this flower. We – I was rushing along the pool edge to get to the other side… this would be a grab shot. I just fired off a couple frames and didn’t stop.  Specifically, we were visiting Winterthur. A nice day, a very nice day was had by all. We did the garden tram tour. And, I made Colleen and Lee stand on the stairs for which Lee was reluctant – camera shy. I cut off their ankles. Did you notice? The pond view with three flowers had potential. Alas. It did not translate as anything special in the edit. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. Hey! Ankles would’ve been better.


Good-bye

…… till we meet again. It ain’t great photography. But it’s poignant and a keeper. We will remember good-bye for a long time to come. It breaks my heart. Snapshots. I carry a camera. You have your phone. We commemorate small moments to future remembrance. Profound? Nope, just fact. We miss them already. Caveat: keep a camera close and handy at all times. Do not be shooting said camera while driving – like I did.


Who’s missing?

Missing? Ha ha. It’s cats and flowers. I simply have too many. Flowers are available in great quantity, too numerous to choose one above the others. Cats, I have seven. Try to herd them together. Nope, not happening. The best I can do is to get some individual shots (of the cats) and usually I will not see them all at the same time. Feather is smart enough to avoid me when she wants to hide. Smart cats? Oh, yes! May I also “point” out that the family responds to command and suggestion differently as is amply on display here. They are cooperative but can be hard to herd together too.