Word and Image

Flowers

Right gear

Last summer I got a full frame mirrorless camera and a real macro lens. Oh no! More lessons! No… But, I will show off my gardening skills. Flowers are great subjects. Instant garden – get plants. I pick the plants for the potential color and subject material. Macro has added a new dimension of interest. There is a fine line between focus, detail, and image.

And, my spider is back. It made a web in front of my windowpane once again. Macro?! Look closely. Do you believe I got a shot(s) as it was spinning its web!? Serendipitous! I saw it in the edit. But, I can say that I guessed it was weaving a web from its movement and behavior. Focus was a trick. But, hey!!


Hype

While I dove in Saudi, the Sony RX100 was touted as the best point and shoot underwater camera ever! Ok, a bit of hyperbole, but, it was well regarded. I did not pull the trigger and get one. I was committed to my investment in the Canon G7. I succumbed to the hype in 2018. The first pictures: new car; selfie; construction in progress; flower; cat; food. It is a great camera. I wish I had been able to use it diving. It is certainly more versatile than my iPhone. Punchline? I’d do it again.


Intrigued

Puzzled? Me. The picture in my catalog stopped here. A kid skateboarding. Nice. It’s Christmas time. Shorts. Warm weather. Ummmm… got it! We were visiting California and my favorite daughter. Ahem, technically I have several daughters now…

Walking the dog? I guess we did. I would never have remembered without the proof of a picture.

California? We have visited more than once. I have no other context in which to remember which trip? Clues? Breakfast!? It’s always sunny. There are always flowers in bloom. We have never been during summer, so, the beach is relatively uncrowded. I like California… to visit.


Update

No, no, we did not get another cat! This is a long frustrating tale of woe that has a twist and happy ending. Sort of. Back up your stuff… on your computer. Everything fails, eventually. I have had external hard drives (more than once) go south for no particular reason within the two year warranty – mostly Seagate – and I got replacement drives no questions asked. Go figure. I back up my Macbook Pro with an external drive, one only. I backed up on 4/2 and 4/5.

Apple cheerfully offered to upgrade OS from Big Sur to Monterrey for free. The upgrade downloads from the internet and then Apple installs the new OS. There was a catastrophic glitch that occurred at start-up after the upgrade. No upgrade. Complete crash. Dead! Recovery mode, I followed the steps. I loaded up the backup external drive. Disk Utility repaired the Macbook hard drive and external. The files and backup on the external disappeared. Major catastrophe! At least one year’s data just disappeared from my Macbook. Weeks! Weeks later, I recovered the external backup using Free! Recovery programs. They are free until you try to recover a file, then they cost $$.

Happy ending? After weeks, I got all the recovery backup files from Time Machine onto another external drive. Ready to recover back to 4/5? I plugged in the original external backup where the files were lost. Voila! The files were back!?? Another six hours ensued. The Mackbook was recovered to 4/5. I lost data and changes for about 20 days. Pfewf!

This was a very nasty surprise! And, it is a cautionary tale. “Backup your stuff.” Of course! I was stupid. I did not expect my back up drive to fail. Mistakes were made. I won’t do this again. My photos are backed  up on five redundant external drives of different brands. Nuts! Who knew!?

After that long tale of computer woe, it is only still spring as I write and lament. “Instant garden” in my containers does not happen without work. It costs $$$. But the color and beauty lasts for many months. It is definitely worth the effort. Each year brings new arrangements depending on what the nursery has when we visit. Marigolds are featured this year. Colleen dyes with the flowers. Last year I upgraded my macro lens. Let the photo ops begin again!


Recovery

Instant garden. Color! It’s good for the summer into fall. I try to choose flowers that bloom all summer and will provide cheer and photo-ops. The Asiatic lilies will fade quickly, but the bang is worth it. Marigolds are for Colleen. She will do natural dying with the flowers. Eh?

Part of recovery has been getting out once again. We combine it with one of Colleen’s favorite activities – eating out. I am just getting better – slowly. Spring rolls! There is/was something appealing on that day to eat some crispy hot ones. Shhhh, while I was still ill in bed, Colleen got me McD. Yup! Big mac and chocolate shake. Hey, it helped.

Colleen was busy. She’s good. And, fast. She wove a baby blanket. She picked the fiber and color pattern. She wound the warp, picked out the weft, and wove this gorgeous blanket for our new granddaughter in just a few days. If you ask me, that is simply just amazing! Me? I watched with utter admiration for the process.


Predictable

High school offered computer programming. It was novel at the time. I hate computers. I sit before one for hours on end. I am an avowed end-user. Computers do not think as fast as I do. They always screw up or make me wait. Wait, waiting, ahem, tap tap tap your knuckles on the desk…. You live with a smart phone and wish they were dumb. They take great pictures. Pick a necessary function: see or talk?! Digital photography is a pinnacle of computer tech. That (technology) much is seamless. Meanwhile, I gotta make a call… So many subjects (thoughts), too little time.


When

I compose about one post a day. I admit to being ahead of myself. It’s still April was I write today. Ha ha. Colleen laments that I do not compose long emails to her since I returned from Saudi (years, ago). Oh well. Things change. Or not. I still find that I write for you – Colleen – now. You are the inspiration, the muse, of my posts. I never did expect to intertwine my life so completely. Ginny pointed it out. Letting loose is not so easy. Or, you just let go. Either way, there is that weight that pulls with gravity and that feeling of falling free to wherever life takes you. Heavy? Ponderous thinking? I am just recalling your recent lament once again. No regrets. These days I go with the feelings. No one orders me and I am not at the random utterly chaotic beck and call of the ER. I still (occasionally) sleep restlessly because my id persists in raising unbidden anxiety. It’s hard to relax when I have always been wary and on high alert.

Peace reigns… after a fashion. There is beauty and serenity in the world. You will read my thoughts in about a month. We will smile. I will hug you. That is the best part, to be able to hug you at will, now.


Context

Lessons! Really! Don’t want ‘em. Don’t need ‘em. I don’t care.

Three views same flower. Two are easy. Point down. Point from the side. But, tilting the camera? It goes against the rules of making your “horizon” wonky! Don’t do it! Oh! Yeah! Sure! The only thing I will add is that it is counter intuitive. Counter intuitive!? That’s for me!

Posing a cat – ?! Huh?! No silly, you don’t pose a cat. They don’t pose, either. You put the camera lens in front of their eyes. Yup! Like salting a bird’s tail. Make sense? When you try it, all sorts of things happen… some good. Or, a goofy pose. Poor Elle! Sorry, kitty. Willow has hooded eyes and requires flash to show his pearly greens. Big, wide open, eyes helps a lot.

Then, there are those cats, who refuse to cooperate. They never look in the camera. They never let me close in front of their face. I am so happy to get the eyes that distractions like the plastic in front is ok! Yes, sometimes, you just gotta settle for what is there.


Pick one

Too numerous to count… I have so many pictures that have and hold significance to me. Some, held very pleasant surprises for me when I finally developed the slide. I tended to shoot the roll of film and store it in the freezer accumulating about 64 rolls to develop in a gallon kit of developer. Since I shot about a hundred rolls a year, this meant a massive developing session about once a year. Yes, there was no instant review of your work; duplicates occurred infrequently as well. And with that preamble, I did indeed get the occasional “keeper!” Que? Well, you know it when you see it. Each picture a story, I apologize for leaving you hanging. I strive for succinct posts… not enough time. By contrast, one hundred rolls of slides (before 2004) is about 3600 slides/year, and digital images last year exceeded 100,000 using at least four different cameras.


Curious

You just don’t stop suddenly. Suddenly, I stopped – taking slides, pictures with film. I transitioned over a period of about a year after receiving a Canon G3 digital camera from Lisa. The DSLR digital cameras were thousands of $, upwards of $5 to $10K! Too expensive! I was wealthy enough, sure. But….

And then, the Nikon D70 arrived just about, right about this time of day/month/year in 2004. It came as David’s graduation commenced. And, I never shot another slide afterwards, just like that! …I eventually threw away a lot of slide film from my freezer.

These were some of the last shots from my film camera. We lived in a nice house, apartment, in Manhattan. I was with Jules at one of her last track meets; she want over to rugby soon after. I was still documenting. I was curious as to the last shots I took with slide film.

I still have my film cameras. My lenses, too, are still functionally fit for my digital cameras. Nikon finally changed the F mount to the Z, but there is an adapter. While the rest of the world shoots iPhone, I happily shoot digital (camera). The cost of a digital image pro-rated over the cost of a 256gb memory card makes digital nearly free when compared to the cost and development of film! That works just fine for me.


Hail hail

When does it hail? Pretty much never, around here. It was sunny on the other side of the development, about a mile away. And, we were deluged with a fierce round of hail that lasted minutes and began melting immediately. Meanwhile, I got another photo op! Spring was in bloom. No flowers were hurt in the making of these pictures. Forsythia? I say it now. I say it again. Forsythia are gorgeous when they bloom. And for the rest of the year they are a very ugly bush. But, for beauty, they are wll worth the show at this time of year. Hail, hail!


Reads plaques

Knowledge and information feeds curiosity. Colleen is full of it. She tries to read each and every plaque. She is always learning something new. She and I are complementary. I am “photo op.” I get the pic and she remembers the facts of the place. California coast, I like the concept that a picture can be a thousand words. We’re a team, seeing, and, always learning. It takes time to read plaques; I get more time to get my photos.


Cheer

I’ve been morose. Ok! Enough!

I hate bugs. Ha ha. I love a good BLT! And, I especially love them when Colleen made it for me. Mmmmm…. Flowers never fail to cheer things. Ready! By the time this post is published, summer will be on its way.

Last year, about this time, I was engaged in scanning my collection of slides, once and for all? It was a huge daunting task. I was running two scanners – don’t ask, again – and two laptops. It went faster than one and took forever to complete.

Red, it perks me up. Time to go have a BLT. Yes!


Crunchy

The last time? 2018 – crunchy granola set. I say it in the most wistful way, for Colleen adores the Common Ground fair. It was our second visit. And, then, the Covid pandemic hit; its canceled ever since. Produce, sheep, bourbon barrel maple syrup … and a spinning demonstration, it was full of photo ops. I now know, much more about spinning wheels. For instance, I can spot a Schact ladybug wheel. Ha ha. They are all castle wheels? I can say my eye is more practiced in spinning, and, you don’t care. Alas, a sheep is still a sheep. I can only tell you that this batch is not ready for shearing. Maybe the fair is on again this year? Maybe.


i…

iPhone.

It is not my primary camera. The current photo catalog (incomplete) has 400k images. There are about 3k iPhone shots – less than 1%. Dave uses it as his primary camera. I shot a few pics for rapid (instant) upload to family. I get an occasional selfie. Some pics are taken of me… occasionally. I put pictures on my phone to share. My point?! My last iPhone upgrade was the iPhone 7. We are up to the iPhone 13. I got the new SE to take advantage of the 5G network. The new SE looks exactly the same as the (good old/ancient) 7; the protective cases are exactly interchangeable. (The new box is smaller – ha ha.) Change comes slowly. If you want a better camera, get a better camera. My phone is not a camera. Oh! The cats (pics) are from my camera.

Ha ha! I am a confirmed “hoarder.” !!! Nuthin’ gets thrown away. ?? Will I ever need the box again? The last one (iPhone box) came out the closet from six years ago…. Nut! And, I shoot redundantly – to be sure I have at least one serviceable shot. Digital is free?! I’m tossin’ the boxes. (Cringe!!)


Indeed

Spring. I don’t have to get photos of flowers from my garden. I can do it at Winterthur. We are members. Someone else does the hard work and gardening. I just take the pics. How sweet! We are so lucky to be able to wander and enjoy. Of course, dinner out is a great way to finish. We skipped dessert. And, in the car, I dipped randomly into my M&M stash to pull the Ukraine colors. Nuts! Staging a selfie without a tripod takes a bit of skill. It recalls the cover for some indy rock band, in this case, absent a title. Eh? “Mom and Dad rock – on.”


Background

Focus would be helpful. I learn from imperfection. The background is often ignored in favor of the subject. Distracting elements will sink you every time. The last thing I check before pressing the shutter is my background. Simply moving a few degrees will change the mood. And, it would help if the camera focused on my main subject. Autofocus is too easy. And, I remain ever hopeful it will compensate for my laziness. Eh?! Otherwise it wouldn’t be lessons to learn.


Insanity

… doing the same thing over and over … hoping for a different result. We got another fleece to wash … spin. Yes, nuts! It’s spring, time to plant. Eating out is good. Colleen took flight on St Pat’s day. We had a reservation. 30 minutes later we were seated. It was a local place, definitely not worth the effort. Dinner with the cousins, priceless. And, the cats keep getting images into my camera.


Random

Iconic, shots of my life, random, culled from previous posts. Inspired? I was. I was not allowed to publish a shot we made in the museum. Copyright. Ok, I will respect it, though I have it already, too late. It was (not this one) an Andy Warhol classic too. I am inspired ala Rocky to hold up my bike on the closest I ever got to a “Century” on that day – 96 mile ride. Beloved Patch, a heilan coo, spring tulips, Whistler’s mother in Paris. I have lived a pretty nice life. It’s not how you start… yada yada. I do not deny that I have been very lucky, very fortunate… very, you name it. I have seen beauty. I have loved beauty. I have lost. I have loved. I love. If there is forever, I will love you Colleen.


Ritual

So much to say, I could write an essay or an editorial. No! It’s not my mission…

We buried Ray (next to Patch) in a box shipped with sheep fleece. Smell? The cats loved boxes – to climb/play in them. And, Ray had a favorite gerbil/toy and I had recently found it behind a cabinet. He would hide his toys and not tell us so I could retrieve it for him. Ray was so happy to have played with it again. Mike brought over a rose. We (God) had a special sunset that day. The ceremony in the backyard was simple – Ray in a packing box with his gerbil. Grief, grieving, it’s a funny thing. We miss that little cat so much. Cats grieve too. Yes, that’s Nutley with the sad sad eyes. He misses his brother. We are hugging Nutley extra close.


Oh, no!

Saved. I almost passed Valentine’s Day without a post for my beloved. Colleen would be my present and most favorite wife. I got a favorite cat… Silly! Yes, she is above all my cats. I was able to put something together from… gee, it’s been a long pandemic. And, honey, I brung you flowers! Flowers! In a few scant weeks we can start planting again. And, yes, I will be with my one and only Valentine. Sorry, I just gotta smile to myself. Life is full of unexpected blessing some days.


Almost… oops

Colleen is so understanding. There is no competition. She’s a “good” person. No jealousy. Oh sure, there is protectiveness. Am I making sense? Another birthday! I love that iPhone sends balloons when you type it. Happy! I did not miss yours – birthday. It just took a moment to realize I almost passed it by. Have a great day!


Wander thru my mind

No! No Freud today! It’s merely an exercise and lament. When I’m dead, someone looking thru the image catalog will have no reference to time and place. I have a database that will inform. Sure. But, I look at a series and piece together my past memory. The waterfall? I haven’t a clue to what or where. But the adjacent images on the same day, tell a story. I was in Amish country. Someone told me an eagle had nested among the powerlines. There was an image in an Amish market. The African daisy was on sale outside the door. I got some. And the clincher was an Amish farmer plowing the field. For me, in my mind, an image is the trigger for memory. By itself the image might mean nothing to the viewer. To me? it is the anchor to a memory of the day. It’s not photographic memory in one’s sense of genius and it is, most definitely, in my own mind. Convoluted? The brain is like that.


We need a little Christmas

The annual Winterthur Christmas decorations never fail to cheer us. Impressive?! You bet! The tall ~ 25 foot tree is decorated with dried flowers from the grounds that are picked and preserved all year long. Amazing. Simply amazing. I garden. I am not up to the task of doing as this dedicated staff performs year long. The culmination is a tree stunning and unique. We count ourselves very fortunate to see it once more. We have tried to share this with members of the family. The true experience is being there “in person” to appreciate the tree’s majestic scale. Thank you!