Word and Image

Posts tagged “Family

Chicken-heart

My daughter terrorizes me. As long as we are being truthful… we, too, have a complex relationship. She has accepted Colleen in my life only reluctantly. I now have a present wife and an ex-wife. I never thought that would be the case. They get along as well as one might expect. Our common meeting point is granddaughter Noa. For the sake of seeing her, we dance around. I accept that as the price. It was a non-negotiable price. Stuck? You bet! I attest the dynamics are complex. Detente!


Summer of Reunion

…feel like you been behind bars? Covid’s done?! Summer convention: Colleen’s family has been coming to the beach forever. Decades and decades. I am new to the mix. Fun?! There is a strange dynamic. The older generation is gone now. This is Colleen’s family – her siblings and her daughter and grand kids – mixed in with her favorite cousin. There are always the missing persons, who could not be present. And, there are complex group dynamics in play. If you look closely at the ‘bee sting’ shot you can see who’s constipated – Bruce. (From here, the text was heavily edited to protect the innocent.) Ha? Eh? Me? Don’t burn your bridges – nuke ’em.

Neurosurgeons are collectively super-conservative and stuffy. At our national convention a well known and well regarded colleague got up from the head table at the annual banquet. He pronounced the group to be staid and boring. And, then he proceeded to hang a spoon from his nose. (Bruce was president of his state medical society?) I have taken this to heart. Don’t ever think yourself too important. Stay humble and keep a sense of humor about you. Get a grip! Laugh, live, love. We are all here for a short time.

Correct etiquette is to say nothing. No one’s precious feelings will be hurt – to which I say, speak. I certainly have and there are those who wish I had not. Stories spin, the truth dies with you. It was never in my nature be quiet and proper. I never embraced the “big lie.” At least my point of view is not still a mystery.


Fun

Welcome! Summer! Family reunion. Group pictures. I’m shy. I do not like to herd a crowd around. Herding cats is hard enough. Everyone is good natured. The promise? Posted online, the memories are priceless. I have never been serious. Did you notice? So, after the formal group shot – someone always has their eyes closed – I ask for something more. Raise your hands, do a bee sting look, whatever, it’s pretty funny. Now, we’re having fun! Otherwise, it’s boring group shots. I will admit that every once in a while, I get a 5 star smiling pic.


Turning the page

At this point I have a goal: to teach Colleen to dive. It probably won’t happen. There are too many things going on in our lives. Once upon a time I taught Dave to dive. Jules, Dave, and I had a magical New Year’s in Saudi, where we dove and the kids did their first night dive. First time: it was a thrilling introduction and a memory we uniquely collectively share forever. For a time, I dove every weekend. I still have my dive gear and the camera housing. Likely, I will not use it again. Sad. But, I saw and recorded some amazing things – a hermit crab laying eggs? That’s not something you see – about as rare as hen’s teeth. Nowadays, in retirement, I’m shooting flowers, pets, and people. I still subscribe to a Dive magazine online – free! The photographs are stunning. It reminds me that I will probably not dive every weekend and that my photo underwater skill is static in the face of so many new developments. Wistful? No: one door opens as another closes. Change is inevitable and things never remain the same. I love my life; it rhymes with loving my wife… and cats.

Jen came up with the term ‘Bee sting’ look. Well, she taught the term to me. Purse your lips. Ok! Look. Try it! Bruce does not play along. Constipated? The generations are changing. The gen above us is gone as we will soon be. This summer’s hope is to imbue our kids with the desire to return.


Crazy

How often do you shoot a group and someone has their eyes closed? I shoot a lot of pics in hope that everyone looks good. Someone (me) is always wanting. How did/was I get goaded into doing a moon shot? And then, I asked everyone to just raise their hands. Eyes closed, I just clicked the shutter. Neat! I’ll try this again. Too much staid! Not enough fun! I guess no one else will volunteer to “moon” in this crowd.


It happens once a year

Another year, happy birthday Jules. The IPhone message comes with balloon effect! A family – lovely daughter, husband – and happiness; I spent the day and did not get the ‘shot’ the one or two outstanding shots that are wow. Oh well, another day, but those days are fewer and fewer these days when we live so far apart. I wish you all the best now and forever. These images no matter what will live on in/on the ‘net for a long time to come. I will be gone before too long. But I will always love you just as I remember the day you were born.


Happy

Happy… birthday. Happy!? I hope I have made you as happy as you have made me so. In a simple collage we have the essence of it all: cat, food, travel, spinning, beach… together. Good time?! Yup! Favorite cat? We all have a special one. Ha! Not really. If a picture is worth a thousand words… I hope you will know how my feelings are in this collage. Happy?…. as the cow jumped over the moon. Happy? … my wish to you.

Flag? Symbolism? Meaning? Interpretation? Philosophical? Deep? Poetic? … Nah! Spontaneous. It was eye catching as I edited… gestalt. Ah! And flowers….


Follow me

Depending on punctuation this can be a command or interrogative. To those who follow this blog, it doesn’t matter. You are already included in being notified about my posts. If someone does a basic search on WordPress, I am not immediately noticeable. ?? I don’t list myself in category or tag under “photography.” I did a casual search today and realized the omission. Now, begins the experiment to find out if this blog is noticed more. The rest – tags and category – may not have much relevance beyond letting me search for older posts. Let us see.?!


Mission failure

Some days you don’t feel like you got what you came to photograph. It was bright sunny and the contrasting light did not allow me to get details of the eyes. All day! Sure, there were serviceable shots. But, it was a failure by my standard and expectation. No do overs! Alas! Drat! Double drat! I won’t make the mistake again. But, it was a lost opportunity. I’m used to a very high percentage of good shots. Once again, I learned from my mistake. All day! The light remained contrasty. The best shots were not mine. I should have known, and once again, I learned. It was Jules who got the shots of the day.


Unexpected image

Diplomacy. Not my strong suit. Present & former wife – we all survived the encounter. They were cordial. We were there, for my daughter, the common point: and, of course, Noa, the youngest grandchild. At least we are civil; I/we had always intended to be so. A peace offering: Colleen gave Lisa a spinning wheel she was not using. We were making space: a new wheel will soon arrive. Either way, it worked out for the good. It was a strange day on many levels. It ended peacefully. One never knows. Strained? Tension? Nah!


Writer’s block

I could hardly be accused of being cramped. I keep saying there are too many images  and not enough time. The cameras give me technically sound shots. I used to shoot 36 images (film) per day. Now, it can easily be 700 images (digital) in a single outing. Philosophically, less is more?! One image? Sure. But, it’s so much more illustrative (fun!) to share the backstory (ha!) on what’s doing.

Look to home when you need inspiration? My cat Feather has replaced Peas in the basket in order to occupy space and ambush Peas (in her former favorite spot). After Barb cut down my passion fruit vine, the new one and its flower is a surprise brilliant red. Sometimes things happen for a reason (photo op). Meanwhile, you will see Chestertown illustrated. It was a charming town, an over the top excellent find by Colleen, who loves history, shopping, eating, art, and above all, all things “charming.” We could not have had a better day with our clothes on. (Shhh, she wasn’t sure about the dress length; she wore shorts beneath.)


Good one?

I give up. Currently, I cannot cull, edit, and choose a single image from among the myriad of good ones I have in my collection. So, I cheat. I use a gallery and sneak in multiple images, sometimes, even “repeats.” How else can I share the fun? Every time I see the flower with the “tongue” I think of the Rolling Stones. Water, it’s a universal favorite. No matter, it’s all good and keeps getting better… well, at least it’s always changing.


Having fun…?!

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.


Ticks and bees

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.


By the way

It’s the same ole… picture. Why take it again? You have that already? Over and over… I take the same picture of the same subjects… and they are always different… or not. Sometimes there is something almost ethereal. There’s a slight difference from before that transcends…. We are on the flight path from BWI PHI and IAD – Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC. Isn’t it swell that the jet paths cross over our heads north and south? Ethereal, they diffuse in minutes. We are between here and there, the middle of nowhere.

I take pictures of Colleen. Shhh… do I love here because she looks so good or does she look so good because I love her? Don’t ask. Don’t know. And, flowers? Sometimes there’s a glow, an angle, a softness of focus – that subtle difference between ooh and aah. Is there? a difference? Some days I am good. And, on others I feel like that “blind squirrel” lucky enough to get a nut.


Latest, greatest

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.


A few

Way back in the beginning… back in 2011, I started this blog. It was free. Free is for me! I’m not selling anything. No $ either way, in either direction. Not true, I pay a fee for extra memory (on the site) nowadays. There are ads, a few, not my doing, not mine (ads). Essentially, free. Followers, a lot of commercial WordPress sites these days, fishing for business. Followers, a few, to whom I imparted the blog address. There are few enough followers who have found me from around the world. But indeed, there have been visitors from around the world. Ah, the power of the internet! I do not seek fame. I merely share thoughts and photos. I’m better than average and less than great. I am not the best in my family but better than most. My own kids have produced 5 star pics on their iPhones! It’s not common, so, the body of my work is technically better. But, then art was never about quantity. Quality can show up in a single image. Colleen’s kids – Emma has more photography experience. But, even Jess and Ian have shown that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Even though I take great shots, it’s just not every day. But every day, I take shots.


Mission

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!


Eyes

Focus – eyes. If the eyes are in focus, just about anything else is forgiven in a portrait. The image is an edit discard if the eyes are not focused. If you stand back far enough everything looks in focus. Up close – focus is critical to the success of an image. Have I said focus is important? In a family of ten it’s important to be focused. Ha ha! I did a go around the house and got everyone’s eyes, mine included. (I chose to be upside down.) I suppose this is photo lesson 101. Focus!


Déjà vu … again

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.


Travel day

If you take away no other information, Colleen loves to eat out. It’s a bread stick! …but sublime. What a smile! Travel day – it’s the long ride to or from. We usually squeeze in an antique store or two. Some are high end “curated” – i.e. expensive! – and others are more practical – fun. No matter what, there’s always a lot of what you don’t need or didn’t know anyone else would ever buy – an electric cow milking machine? Shepard and sheep? Empty tin cans? Iron skillet? Oh, the things you find! Herd immunity? And the smile (eating out)… priceless!


Jane-d!

We just experienced Jane(d) again. This would be a follow up to a recent post on this very subject. Never take a photo of someone while they eat. (They look funny – ridiculous.) Jane loves to eat out. She loves to try everything on the menu – if only she could. She ordered tacos. I do not believe she has ever eaten a taco and probably misheard the waitress. She was surprised enough to ask what it was they placed before her. And she did not eat it. She took it home to die in her refrigerator until after we left. Ditto – the dessert. It was a mango parfait. The baker came from the kitchen to ask how she liked it. Jane said it would have been better with fresh mango to which the baker replied she had used a fresh mango puree. Insert foot…. Colleen and I thoroughly enjoyed dinner. I pretended Jane ate everything and was pleased as well. That would be my story and I’m sticking with it.


Irish

This would the the “luck” of the Irish on Colleen’s side. We almost had a yard sale by the side of the highway in West Virginia in the absolute middle of nowhere. We had a low tire warning signal and the right rear tire was losing pressure at about a pound per mile. I made it to an exit off the highway with a gas station. And we got directions to a tire place about 7 miles down a twisty winding country road. I had just about lost faith in the directions when the tire shop came into view. Of course, it was “worst case scenario.” The nail hole at the tread rim was leaking enough that we could hear it. The tires need to be matched. That is – you need four matched tires on this particular model car. So, four new tires: they just happened to have our size. And, we were back on the road after about an hour’s delay. This would be considered way better than the alternative scenario. Irish! Colleen has Irish in her heritage. I feel so lucky! Coincidence? Colleen met a guy waiting for his car to be serviced. She and he knew common people all around the state. You just can’t seem to go anywhere without running into someone….


July 4th

We don’t. We don’t July 4th. Not much anymore. I have mixed feeling, since living in Saudi and having gone thru the Trump years. For us the flag is now associated with the conservative “big lie” Republicans. Sure enough, we ran into a bunch in our conservative town on this day back years ago. Frankly, it’s sickening. Rah rah. Democracy is demonized and the flag never felt more like the connotation of “love it or leave it.” I don’t feel much like a part of that “gang.” When did America stop opening its arms to the “tired, poor, and huddled masses? It’s just so hard to cling to any hope. Colleen is an optimist. She will never give up believing in “good.” I will do so because she is my hope.