We did it! We did! We managed to have Christmas in five locations! We are the seniors. They are supposed to come to us? Ha! We were in fours states. I believe we achieved a state of grace. (How about, altered state?) It was work. It was fun. Our parents were bystanders. We are not! Bring it on! We did.
We have an extended family. We managed to catch up with multiple family groupings this holiday. It’s been nutty. Covid and whatnot has conspired to make it hard. In a mere moment plans changed. I was so punchy I did not know where or to whom half the presents were destined. At every stop I was inaccurate. I had packed for groups that broke up and met as different parts in different places. Confused? You bet! We were sleeping in one spot and cooking in another. At least I got a haircut and changed shirts. There were a lot of moving parts. Fun? We all had a good time. We must have had fun for me to still be writing about it a month later. All that I can attest, looking back, it was easier to herd cats!!
Epilogue: Omicron is among us. We did not escape unscathed. Members of the extended family pictured herein caught it and were tested positive. So far, all are fine. Those shots really work. Or, we are just plain lucky. My (neurosurgery) department motto was always, “Better to be lucky, than good.”
PPS: All is well. We were, indeed, lucky!
It is said that we are just “staff” to our cats. Ha! They certainly have free reign. Free range? Do as you (my cats) will. They are, for the most part, careful to step around all things breakable. Only Willow has a tail that has a mind of its own. He knows how to walk about with chaos in his wake. Have I ever considered that we might have one cat too many? Nope.
This is a tale. Ha! Colleen saw a pink juicer a long, long time ago. We have been to many antique stores since (years!!). We have never seen another. I presume she did not buy it when first seen, because it was too $$. Oh! The waiting! Don’t they sell them? They sure don’t make any! I caved. This past autumn I went on eBay. Voila! Delivered! Done! Ah! She said I was so sweet! We haunted antique stores this Christmas for Santas and other such Christmas bargains. This shop, we almost did not go into. It was the end of the day; we were tired; and, how many antique stores can one wander into? Damn! Sitting pretty! Right there on the shelf! A pink juicer! The price was reasonable. It was almost surely coming home with Colleen at about any price! And who knew there was a pitcher that went under the darn thing?
You win. You lose. We have not lost… any cats. And we are pretty much safe with ornaments (too)… so far. We got some retro ornaments. Nice. It’s nostalgic. Ha! I/we never had ornaments that looked like this when we were kids. Bargains. One Santa was a little as a $1. I made the Santa blocks. Ok, “V” is for Victor. The other letters? Dave? “U, K, B??” Huh?! And where is “C” for Colleen? I’m in deep trouble if she figures out the names of old girlfriends?! For, now I will stick with the glow of that “found” pink juicer!
I’m perfect. And, I’m the first person who will tell you so. Not, nope! Your family keeps you honest. In this case, my wife, Colleen. She said the pic we printed was not good. Color balance was chiefly the culprit. She could not articulate all the mistakes. I’m perfect and argued, “How can it be bad?” Wrong! She was right. I improved composition and color. It’s not perfect. Yeah, yeah. But, better. It was hard to get those cats to jump up and sit for another photo. But then again, I’m the dad.
Dawn or dusk? If you have no orientation, it looks the same. You must know where to look, east or west. We had quite a year around here. Coming or going? We lost one and added two – cats. It was a year of sorrow and of joy. In the midst of this, Covid raged around us. Our experience pales in comparison to a pandemic which killed hundreds of thousands. The vaccine came, then the booster was available. Half the population is currently vaccinated. The unvaccinated group remains a large source of ongoing Covid infection… and death. People gather now and take off their masks in an effort to believe/pretend the pandemic is now over. It’s not over. At the beginning of the year we had no access to vaccination. Now we are triple vaccinated. We have come a long way. Have we? It’s been a hell of a year. Which way out? I cannot say. Ummm… no, we still have eight cats. And, yes there are nine pictures. It would appear Colleen loves Nutley most. Happy New Year.
Sometimes I think Colleen and I have a lot of time to catch up. That is to say – what would have had happened if we had been together fifty years? Shopping? Oh boy! The candy store is now, an antique store. We don’t buy candy. But… in an antique store Santa and Xmas is fair game. Gifts – the nativity went to a cousin. Snow globe – for Noa’s pleasure. The stone tablet, now painted – was ballast for ships coming to New Orleans. We scored a German pyramid ornament. Rare indeed to see; we have two now. Oh boy! Santa? Yes, Colleen decided to collect ones she liked. Oh boy! It means that they all don’t come home with us. The beneficiaries? My cats love siting scrunched up in boxes and baskets that we get. Yeah, yeah, I cannot blame Colleen alone; I have been guilty of a purchase or two. How about a light up Mexican style kitchen scene?
But, of course! From our family to you and yours, we wish you a safe and healthy holiday. It’s been another eventful year. We lost a cat – Patch. We gained two cats – Tillie and Peas. Peas was an afterthought. We mistakenly left Tillie’s sister behind at the pet store. My bad. You cannot replace a lost cat – for (darn) sure. …but we had an extra food bowl…. Now the table is full once more. Happy and merry to you all. We are both fortunate and happy to wish you all the best. YES, they all jumped up on the table and lined right up. Didn’t you realize? I herd cats!
A lot changes. A year ago during the height of Covid we went on a quest for a Christmas tree that took us to the perfect tree in a tree farm. We cut it down. Guilt! On many levels this was such a nice tree that lasted a month and was then taken to the curb. We went artificial tree this year. This has its own associated guilt. We’ll see. During Covid I made an estimated 26 Nantucket style baskets. They make/made me happy. I have had mixed reviews on their quality. In looking back, it has been a long and eventful year.
Hey! I just built the giant bookcase! That one! The one behind us. Do you remember when Ray was a kitten? Well, you can tell. How do you know? I can (tell). Don’t we look the same. No one has aged. We are at that certain age when you are between young and old. We’re old. I don’t feel old. I’m glad I don’t?? look old. Can you believe I built that bookcase moments ago? It took a while to find a pic of the finished product. Can you imagine going through 400 thousand pics one at a time? … me neither.
We got home after our extended road trip in New England. For near 30 days I shot about 1000 images a day. The enthusiasm/productivity dropped significantly when we got home. I did not download or transfer files for nearly a month. Ok! The experiment? What number of images accumulated in one month’s time. it’s not a fair experiment. Note: I try to shoot images in one camera or another once a day. Inspiration was low. Cats are always a good subject. But…? In November, I shot near 2000 images – the whole month. ?! in other years when I was younger, this would have been my yearly output. Film was expensive! I was cheap! And I had a day job! No excuses now. I am on social security. Digital memory is practically free. And, all I got is time on my hands. Sweet! Maybe we should get another cat or two?
Bored, in a funk, lazy, drifting? All of the fore-mentioned? Uninspired? Ah! Always appear positive. Ok! We spin and weave. It is about all things fiber. There is nothing boring there. Weaving stuff is all over our house. I kid Colleen lovingly. Me? Tech takes up little space. Ha, right back. My gear fills drawers, shelves, cabinets, and closets. Otherwise I shoot (images) my cats. What do you say to the lighting of Nutley and the sink? Product placement! Apple and Willow. Or, I shoot flowers. My pictures are pretty – good. I try – to get better. I’m good. It’s all relative. There are plenty of photographers who are better. The good news – I am the best in my house. Recycle? As I said at the beginning, I was uninspired; some of today’s shots are recycled. Ya gotta admit, Peas is cute!
We(in the USA) would often joke about the hospital as “Mecca” or a “Taj Mahal.” It was purely derisive as a term of imperfection in our condition as virtual slave labor while employed as interns and residents. Here’s another non sequitur. I received a model of my hospital in Jeddah – a commemoration of what? It was in a case and the elaborate model was laser cut glass?? I don’t know. The object has disappeared. Maybe it will surface once again. Who knows? Who cares? It was a model of ego demonstrating the opulent architecture of the owner, the son of a wealthy jewelery fortune family, who built this hospital as a tribute to their wealth and ego. Unfortunately, he was imprisoned and tortured during the recent turnover of kings. Mecca? Yes, and, no, on many levels. And, my cats, Lulu and Cassie, were feral cats that I befriended and then had to abandon as I left Jeddah. Sad! Leaving? Not sad at all to leave. But, once upon a time I worked in “Mecca.” I wonder what became of the cats?
We are officially full – in this house. Carol makes fun how much “stuff” we accumulate. We are gonna need a bigger car – this thought occurred to me more than once during our trip. So, I/we shipped home three big boxes. Fleece and fiber compress. You can’t keep it compressed forever. Like a fart, it expands to fill the room it is released into. And the beer! It rode in the car. I don’t drink. Ha ha. The cats were happy to see us once again. Nutley settled into a basket of yarn. Spice got into a bin, too small, next to the beer. The living room shows a partial series of spinning wheels. How many does one spinner need? Another fleece(s)? Bags and bags covered the table. OMG. Good and rare one and all, we have a collection of fiber you don’t go and find easily, if at all. I suppose I will have to start spinning again… and drinking beer…. for the team.
Thanksgiving is about family. Sure, the eating part plays a big role. But, having family near is important. We have family scattered across the USA from New York to California and many points in between. Scattered would be the word. I have one child who has no permanent address. Hey, cats are family too! The good news is that I don’t have to go far to chase down a picture of them all. Did I tell you we have eight (cats)?
We are away. Mike and Jen (cousins) watch the cats. Catgate? Peas – the cute, innocent – is fodder (as in, dinner) for Spice. Her sister, Feather is a bystander but, accomplice in crime. Tillie, the (Peas) sister is fine. She entered the house growling from the start and all the other cats think she is crazy. Ray has no skin in the game. But, he is intensely curious. So he has entered the gated compound at will. Unfortunately, he cannot get out. Why? Well, at least the Maines (cats) cannot leave either. Peas is safe. It’s a puzzle. The bottomline? Peas is safe. No cats were harmed in the telling of this tale. The saga continues. Maybe not in your house, but, this is a big deal in ours.
(See: previous, 9/29) I have it! … the solution! Problem solved! Ha ha!! Hardly! But… maybe?!?? This would be, like the fourth or fifth iteration. Each previous try has failed to keep cats from passing through, around, or over the gate. (No tunneling allowed!) The list and ways of escape are too numerous to mention. In this latest version, a new barrier has been placed along the banister, and, slats have been added between those of the the primary gate. The width of a cat’s whiskers is the measure of how wide an opening a cat may pass through. It proved to be misleading, hence, the need to revise the previous construction. Fortunately, I have plenty of wood. I DO NOT have – a lot of patience! Finally! No one has escaped or entered, at-will, in the past 24 hours. (It took the squirrels a few days to…) Go ahead and laugh! The construct does not look half-bad. It works. (So far) And, no cats were harmed in the making of these pictures.
A la Watergate, similar but not the same. In this case, I needed to keep cats separated and apart. Long story short, the Maine coon cats are pummeling poor Peas. Maines can suddenly be aggressive. They stalk and pounce poor Peas. It’s ugly! Hence, the gate. They need to be separated to maintain peace and serenity for all (ESPECIALLY COLLEEN!!). There is a height extension at the top of the gate. … because Ray and Nutley could jump the gate and then over either way. They taught Spice and Feather the trick. Neat. Smart cats! Tillie? She is small like her sister Peas. She simply walks through the balusters. Great! And, !@#@$$ drat! I have placed barriers with offsets to the balusters. Now, let’s see. This is a work in progress. I recall a time when I thought I could thwart squirrels on my bird feeders. Oh well, now, we feed the squirrels and birds. Hey squirrels gotta eat too. Maybe Peas will get larger and better at defending herself?
The camera does what it will. The difference between great and ho-hum is making the camera do your bidding. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t work out as I’d like, most of the time. Good? Bad? It’s mixed. The detail in the dragonfly eye is stunning, especially enlarged and up-close. You can see “hairs” in the flowers. But, though there be motion and blur and reflections, other images still work. For my cats, I find that sharp focus on the eyes is key. Maybe it’s not for you, but, I’m ok with the surprises I find when editing. It’s fun. I’m not shooting for money. Fun would be work. Nope. Strictly amateur, I get a free reign to shoot for the pleasure of good images amongst the lot.
Portrait photography – the first rule – focus on the eyes. From the start, when I did film photography, it was always focus (manually) on the eyes. Nothing else is as important. Cats feel threatened when you point a big lens at them. It’s like a big eye. The cat does not like it. Mine, they are resigned. I have pointed so often that the lens is familiar. It’s still not easy. The skill is in putting the lens in front of their eye so it looks as though they are looking at you. Ha! And, salt on the tail, will catch a bird! It ain’t easy. But then again, if it were, all my pictures would be perfect. Right?
I had a dream. Anne, a girl, an old friend, one from the third grade, was in it. I hugged her. I have been wondering about Anne since the eighth grade, when I last saw her. Oh, the guilt, to hug an old girl, friend. I’m married. Happily, again, now! Carol laughed. Ginny – isn’t this the reason you go to confession? Impure thoughts? Colleen, shrugged. She knows I’m hers. (she got my signature, what there is of it, on the “certificate.”)
Trapped? (in the basket, see Willow, the cat) Nah! Nope!
Cats? I should learn, take a lesson, be more like them…
Flowers? Every day, I bring … I think that I am so lucky to be in this place at this time…. Ginny laughs at my openness. There is truth – Colleen and I are having fun. It’s not hard to see at all.
I dreamt about posting/blogging. Yeah, weird. I never did that before. The old question arises. Am I shooting for the blog? Or, are my shots “worthy” photos? Technically correct, many of my images are good. But, worthy? Goofy! Goofy? My garden – I discovered a tick (looking at the flower picture) after the shoot. Ha! I thought it was a spider. Wrong! And, long gone, there is no finding that tick. Now, I have to worry about my cats. Bee? Almost, but no cigar. The focus missed by just that much. Alas. Focus!? Ah, an antique store with old cameras. Wonderful, but, they are film. Collector’s item? No, more like they are dust collectors. Covid is pretty much done. There are no rules any longer. We are half masked, or, not. Brain coral celosia? Close, but not quite, I am still working on focus and lighting. Poor Peas, the calico kitten, has her own problems. She’s cute. The older Maine coon cats are jealous? They keep jumping her! I mean pouncing, hissing, loud, mean, ambush type altercations. So, ticks, are a problem but not foremost among what I think about.
But what have you done for me today? Time moves forward. The moment passes and you can never go back. You can look back. Smile or regret, it’s up to you. Shhh… I like kittens. But, they grow up. We all age. But, I love you more, because of it. It’s in the “knowing” not the image.
Gestalt theory emphasizes that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. That is, the attributes of the whole are not deducible from analysis of the parts in isolation. The word Gestalt is used in modern German to mean the way a thing has been “placed,” or “put together.” There is no exact equivalent in English.
And, there is no equivalent way to pick one photo over another. It’s an unknowable feeling that comes as you edit. “That’s it” the one! I have to say that I am most fortunate to be able to say that I had a choice and that I have choices. Yup, I gotta a lot of beauty around me these days.
Cats? Family? Memory? Fine photography? The original mission was to post nice photos and give a back-story comment on the image. I stray, being a diary, commenting with humor, and posting pet pictures. They are good photos. Lately, they are current; I have so many old pictures to share, not enough time. The feedback via likes and comments is meager. Do I care? I appreciate feedback; but it doesn’t matter so much as the fact that I have an outlet for thought and deed (image). It’s been a work that will linger on the internet for a while. Am I striving for immortality? Hardly! Do I shoot for myself?… or to blog? Sometimes, it’s a bit of both. Clearly? Nope, the mission is blurred by the fact that I make the rules and I never met a rule I didn’t try to break. No matter what, it’s always about an image that inspires me. I was never serious. I am? Humor will always creep in along the edges. Fun? You bet!
As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.
Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.