Sunday, January 31, 2010



Funny story - this organizer traveled with me for quite a while. I used it to track travel expenses  and remember birthdays, etc... 256Kb - imagine it!!

Of course, eventually it was replaced by newer, bigger (as in memory, not physical size), slicker PDA's, but I still kept birthdays and anniversaries in it and got it out at the beginning of each month to see who was celebrating. The batteries have died once again and I think I'll let it go this time. I have transferred the dates-to-remember to my Google calendar and although this dinosaur has sentimental value, I think it's time to say goodbye.

Or... anybody have any CR2032's lying around?

Friday, January 29, 2010

three-a-day, four-a-day and as needed for pain

I had foot surgery a couple of days ago, so my wings are clipped for a few weeks. I've been stuck in bed but I have all of my gadgets at my fingertips: phone, netbook computer, TV, camera, Kindle, my gun and two fat cats. (Not to worry about the gun... there are no small children in my house. No big children either, for that matter.)

I don't like taking medicine at all, but I have no choice. There is just enough pain to keep me on schedule with the pills. It will all be better soon. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

leaving a trail of megapixels

The sun was shining and I hadn't shot anything in infrared for a while...

I like infrared... it strips away some of the riff-raff in a scene and lets the good parts stand out. Hmmmm... if we could do that 'in real life'; squint our eyes and see only the good, the positive, the beautiful and let all the negative crap disappear. Ha!

I must confess... when someone tells me they have read my blog, I sorta get the deer-caught-in-the-headlights face. Because what I write here is straight out of my head and heart. I don't write for anyone else. I don't write in this journal to communicate with anyone. I write things down so I will know what I think. (That is from a quote by someone else, but I can't for the life of me remember who).

(Except for the fiction - which at the moment consists only of "The Pen".)

So anyway, that is my disclaimer, the fine print if you will. What you read here is what I think and feel and it's not always pretty or poetic or even grammatically correct.

Other business:
Monte Stevens posted an interesting list - cameras he has owned. So I sat down and compiled my camera history :

Pre-historic: I had an assortment of little 110 pocket-cams and a Polaroid or two.

Minolta SRT 101, film
Pentax P&S, film
Kodak - I can't remember the model, but it was one of the early digitals.
Sony F505
Sony F707 - I still have this camera and I keep it ready for Infrared photography (see photo above).
Fuji S2 Pro
Fuji S3 Pro - probably the best portrait camera ever
Nikon D300
Nikon D700 (current camera and I'm very happy with it)

The earliest photo taken by me, that I still have:

This was taken on a senior class trip to Washington D.C. - I wish I could remember which museum!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


In the book I am reading, there was a mention of a line from "Moby Dick" which began with the phrase "At last the anchor was up...". It occurred to me that is how I am feeling these days. Grieving is a bit like being held motionless, while the rest of the world sails onward.

But lately, it seems like I have begun to make progress in moving forward. The small steps have me taking deeper breaths... feeling as though the anchor's hold is weakening.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

at my fingertips

This little basket on my desk holds items that I need to do something with or get my hands on quickly or just not forget.

Everyone needs a magnifying glass.. the fine print gets ever finer as I age.

My photography post card... I need to update it (I think). The photos include examples of people and sports, but I think I need a fine art photo as well.

A card showing details of a friend's art show opening... I hope I can make it!

A calculator... easy to reach but solar powered, so if the room light is dim it doesn't work. Hence, I can only calculate during the day.

A luggage tag from my trip to South Africa... well some things are there just for the memories.

A Thank You card from someone I never met... I read about a tragic auto accident a few years ago - the young wife and her two small children were killed after dropping her husband off at work. Her car was struck as she pulled back onto the road. I sent a check to help cover the funeral expenses.

A program card from Melissa's funeral... Melissa was the daughter of a good friend. I have taken family photos for them many, many times over the years. The front of the card has a photo of Melissa that I had taken a couple of months before she passed away at age 32.

Monday, January 18, 2010

thinking back

... about warmer and happier times.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Pen - A Short Short Story


My friend Monte Stevens posted a photograph of a beautiful pen and in the description, he noted that it was just like one he had found once and eventually lost. I commented that I thought it was a great idea for a story - a pen that "finds" people, records their stories for a while and then finds someone new.

Here is my short, short story.

Part One

Tracy was hurrying, trying to take care of the final plans for her holiday. First, she had to get the travel documents and then go to the bank to get some cash and travelers checks.

As she opened the door of the travel agency, something caught her eye. Under a chair was a shiny, sliver pen. It looked like the kind of pen that might have been given as a gift for a special occasion. She picked it up and asked if it belonged to anyone in the office. No one claimed it. She examined it for an engraved name or initials. Finding none, she held on to it as she went to the front desk to pick up her tickets and itinerary.

One week later, she was sailing along the coast of Martinique, lounging on the deck, sipping a rum drink and writing in her journal. This trip was meant to… what? Mend a broken heart? Forget about someone who, less than a year ago, had seemed like someone she could share her life with? He was someone who made her laugh. Someone who invaded her every waking thought. Yes – he had some issues. But he was still the most fascinating man she had ever met.

As she wrote in her journal, she stopped to look at the pen she was holding. It was the pen she had found at the travel agency. She wondered if the owner had come back later, looking for it.

The message alert on her cell phone beeped and she looked at it for a long time before picking it up to check the message. “CALL ME… PLEASE” She put the phone and her pen down and took a long sip of her drink.

A week later she was headed home – a five hour flight to New York. Ah well, the time would be spent making plans… wedding plans! After filling out the customs form, she put it and the pen into the seat pocket in front of her. When the plane landed at JFK, she grabbed the customs form but the pen had slipped out of sight and she forgot all about it.

Part Two

Six months earlier, David been laid off from his job. He had been with the company for thirteen years, but that didn’t seem to matter. Whole departments were being drastically reduced and several satellite offices were being closed and their functions brought back under the corporate umbrella. He had heard about the cutbacks, but thought with his length of service, that his job was secure.

He spent the next several months looking for work; attending job fairs and sending resumes to any job ad that even remotely matched his expertise and qualifications. He took night classes to bring his business skills up to date. He’d had a few interviews, but nothing had materialized into a solid job offer. Then he got a call from a former employer. They wanted him to fly to Iowa for a second interview. He had already had a telephone interview and apparently had given enough right answers to get him to the next level.

On a hot Texas Monday morning in July, he boarded a Delta flight to Cedar Rapids. He settled into his seat and reached for the airline magazine to pass the time. As he pulled the magazine out, something fell to the floor. He looked down, saw a silver pen and picked it up. It was a beautiful pen and felt comfortable in his hand. He flipped the magazine over and wrote his name on the back, to see if the pen still worked. He put the pen into his shirt pocket and sat back to relax for the remainder of the flight.

Two weeks later, he was signing employment papers and finalizing details for his relocation to his new job. As he signed the last form, he stopped and looked at the pen he was holding in his hand. It was the pen he’d found on the plane. He smiled and thought “Must be a lucky pen!”

That evening he was checking out of his hotel, heading back to Texas to get everything in order for the move. He reached for his pen to sign the bill and it wasn’t in his pocket. He searched through his briefcase and his computer case… not there.

Part Three

The man was standing on the highway overpass, waving. As the cars passed beneath him, the travelers inside could read the sign he was holding: “Jesus Loves You”.

He wasn’t there very long before the Banks County patrol car pulled up and turned the blue lights on. Did he know it was illegal to stand on an Interstate overpass? No sir, he did not. How did you get here? I walked, sir. Well, let me give you a ride in to town and stay off the highway!

Jack didn’t have a home… hadn’t in a very long time. His marriage had ended six years earlier after he came home from Iraq, suffering from severe PTSD. He had drifted in and out of towns all over South Carolina; finding shelter for a time and then moving on… usually after an altercation with someone in one of the homeless shelters.

The police officer dropped him off in the middle of town and he sat on a bench, trying to decide where to go, what to do next. He couldn’t go home – wherever home was. He didn’t really remember a house or an address. He had about ten dollars in his pocket and figured he could get something to eat and still have money for a bus ticket to Anderson.

He stood up and while trying to decide which direction to go, he looked down and saw something shiny on the sidewalk. It was partially hidden by some trash, but he bent to pick it up. It was a beautiful silver pen… must have been special to someone, somewhere. He looked around, didn’t see anyone nearby and slipped the pen into his pocket. Then he started walking in the direction of the nearest shelter.

That evening, after eating a hot meal, he settled onto his cot to sleep. He closed his eyes for a few minutes and tried to let the days and years slide away. If only he could clear his mind to focus on the present, he knew he could figure out what he needed to do next. Before sleep could overtake him, he remembered the pen that he had found that afternoon. He took it out of his pocket and got a scrap piece of paper from another pocket. He wrote his name, what he thought was the current date and his former wife’s name and address… at least the last place he could remember.

Part Four

Lesley would never get used to Christmas in L.A. It was hard for her to get into the holiday spirit with the warm weather, palm trees and everyone running around in shorts and tee shirts.
She wasn’t the stereotypical L.A. girl: she didn’t have long blonde hair, she didn’t wear high heels to the beach and she sure didn’t drive a $50,000 convertible. On this day, her flip-flops slapped through the sand as she tried to find a quiet spot to sit and… think? plan?

She settled into her favorite, well-worn lounge chair and removed some things from her tote bag: a book, a small camera and a notepad. She always took things to keep her mind busy; she had trouble letting her mind rest for more than ten minutes. The camera was there to catch any “Kodak moment” that might present itself. Lesley was a self-described “serious amateur” photographer and so she always had at least one camera with her at all times.

She leaned back in her chair, took a deep breath and closed her eyes. It had been a busy week at work and she hoped to get some mind-clearing relaxation before the frantic Christmas season took over every waking moment.

She listened: to the waves, to the gulls, to the kids playing in the ocean. She concentrated on her breathing… in, out, deep, even breaths; in with the good, out with the bad. She sneaked a look at her watch. Surely she had been there at least thirty minutes. Nope – more like five. She sighed. “Okay, let’s at least get something accomplished”, she thought. There were holiday lists that needed at least a first draft. She picked up her notebook and reached into her bag for a pen. She pulled out a silver pen… the pen. It was the pen that had been delivered to her along with the few personal items that had been found on Jack’s... in Jack’s pockets… when he was found.

She hadn’t seen Jack in years. They had been divorced for more than six years when he was found dead in a small South Carolina town. Her name had been in his pocket, so they sent all of his things to her. His worldly possessions amounted to his military ID tags, a wallet with three dollars inside and the silver pen. She looked at it now and thought about how incongruous it was with the man whose life had spiraled downward after coming home from Iraq.


A single thread… woven into and out of the lives of several people. Each of us touches many lives as we go through our days. It might not be a visible connection, but a ripple that we create with what we say and do which will, as it reverberates ever outward, affect others in unseen and unintentional ways.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A photo-a-day keeps the focus away...

I was midway through my seventh year of taking and posting a photo every day when the process became too stressful. Panic would set in when I'd realize late in the evening that I hadn't posted a photo for that day. That is neither a learning nor a creative frame of mind.

When I began PADing in June 2003, I hoped to train my eyes to see possible compositions everywhere and hone my technical skills - in order to know what settings and lenses were best for the scene I was shooting. I think I've accomplished both goals. I know I now see photos everywhere. And my friends and family have become accustomed to me stopping to snap the odd or unusual... "Why is your mother taking a picture of grass growing between the cracks in the sidewalk?" "(son shrugs)That's my mom.". I keep at least one camera with me at all times. The dedication to the project has made me a better photographer on the whole. But it has not allowed me to narrow my focus and find my photographic center. I have so many photos in so many online galleries that the good ones.. the ones that truly are my best work, are lost in the barrage of 365 photos a year (not including the extras!). Like firing a machine gun, I have pointed my camera at anything and everything in an effort NOT TO MISS A DAY!

With the (self-imposed) pressure off, I can now focus my attention and my camera on making a photograph for the right reasons.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the write stuff

This is a hand blown glass pen that I found several years ago in a shop in Tennessee. I don't handle it often as I would be heartbroken if I accidentally dropped it. But it really does work - the ink fills the grooves on the nib.

Does anyone write letters anymore? I hope so, but I know I seldom do... the cell phone, email and Facebook are my primary means of communicating with family and friends. And for ease and expediency, those are quite efficient. Even when I do use the regular mail, it's usually to send a check or photo and I rarely include more than a sentence or two on paper.

I kept a hand-written journal while I was in South Africa, but the notes I made were more a means of record keeping - places, dates, people - than long paragraphs on my journey... sadly.

Will I make an effort to do more hand writing? I doubt it. I make too many promises to myself in this blog as I recognize my shortcomings and wish to make amends. But every so often, I will take this pen out of its box, admire the beauty of it and then put it back in a safe place.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

porte folio

I have often wished I had the opportunity to attend a workshop... but the workshops I'm thinking of require that I submit a portfolio. And there where I get stopped in my tracks. I have thousands of photos and I could probably choose a few hundred that I'm very happy with. But a portfolio is more than that (at least as I understand it)... if I may borrow from The Luminous Landscape:


Portfolios can be used to show the results of specific photographic endeavors
and present one’s work up to the time a portfolio is created.

Approached that way portfolios are easier to assemble and far less daunting or frightening. It also becomes clear that there can be many uses for a portfolio, each one tailored to different goals, purposes and audiences.

For example you can create:

– A portfolio that includes photographs from a single camera format (35mm, medium format, large format).

– A portfolio which includes only black and white or sepia photographs .

– A portfolio of images which are radically different from your “regular” work and which will surprise your audience.

– A portfolio of images created over a specific period of time. This can be a short time (a one week photo trip for example), a specific year (2002, 2003, etc.), or another specific time frame.

– A portfolio of photographs all taken in a specific geographic area.

One of my resolutions (I hate making them, but they are a way to start anew in areas that need renovation) for 2010 is to develop my photographic style... to make photographs that I would want to put into a portfolio - one that would hopefully get me accepted into a workshop.

Friday, January 08, 2010

winter in the south

Winter in the South is usually very mild, but occasionally we get a snowfall (or worse - an ice storm) once during the season. The event usually causes everything to shut down.. mainly because we don't dress for it, we don't know how to drive on it and we don't have snow tires and all that stuff for our vehicles. Last night we had snow.. about a half inch where I live. The schools are all closed because of black ice on the roads. Yawn...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


I usually keep this tool in my camera bag. For obvious reasons, I didn't carry it with me when I was traveling and I missed it. I also left behind my Swiss Army knife and I needed it several times too.

You never know when things might need a bit of persuasion.

Monday, January 04, 2010


It's been cold enough that the fountain stopped flowing and the water froze inside the basin. The wire pattern is a chicken wire cover that is in place to prevent squirrels from falling into the water where they can't climb out due to the curve of the bowl and... they die. There's nothing worse than going to scoop the leaves out of the water and finding a dead squirrel. blech!

Here is a photo of the fountain in Spring...

and here is another wired-ice photo from several years ago...