Nov 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Festivities: The Antidote of Gratitude

Thanksgiving Festivities: The Antidote of Gratitude

“Gratitude is the antidote. It is useful in combating a variety of diseases, from something as vague as the discontents of civilization to something as specific as personal grief. Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude, and I am always willing to celebrate it.
Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle, 11-27-2008

Antidote: something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts, says my dictionary. Right now I could use an antidote for anxiety. Seeing my grandson, Evan, sitting with his laptop in the recliner, counting the days (six), until the first corrective hip surgery that will relieve his immobility and his pain. After it heals some, then the second hip surgery. And then he will be able to resume his interrupted old life. For which I will be everlastingly grateful.

It makes me happy to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and to be with Evan.

“I like food,” says Evan. Me too. The six of us have made significant inroads into the gigantic Costco pumpkin pie. As well as the divine pumpkin-ginger-cheese-pie that Laurie brought. A festival of pumpkin. A festival of family.


Thanksgiving Festivities: Thanksgiving Dinner with Yellow Flashlight

Thanksgiving Festivities: Thanksgiving Dinner with Yellow Flashlight

My ex, Larry, insisted on closing the curtains that screen his dining room from the neighbor's house. The house where Spider and Diamond live. Cats. This meant that the light in the dining room was "atmospheric"--meaning, dark--requiring candles to dine by (which, for Larry, was the idea); a flashlight to provide light to make pictures by; and a miniature tripod to enable the Kodak to shoot pictures in focus. All because of the light.

I am full. Full, full, full. Too full. I hadn't planned on being so full. I don't know what happened. Larry was concerned about his belly being as exposed as it was for the picture. I said, "But, Larry...that's Thanksgiving!"

Happy Almost Un-Turkey Day, photo fans. Be well.

Love, Laurie

Nov 26, 2008

NEW THEME: Thanksgiving Festivities

I thought it would be appropriate for the next theme to be Thanksgiving Festivities.

I like food

Nov 25, 2008

String: String Stories


Used to be that a package you mailed had to be wrapped in layers of heavy brown paper and tied securely with twine, a coarse, 2- or 3-ply string. Now you can’t use string. You have to tape your packages, because Post Office regulations say that string can cause problems, catch on edges of things, and isn’t secure. Oh.

Birds, however, continue to find string quite useful for building nests. Not every species does, but the Tufted Titmouse, Pygmy Nuthatch, Purple Martin and European Starling use string for nest construction, as well as tufts of stray cat fur, cigarette butts, cellophane and molted snakeskin.

A House Finch does not use string. It often nests in wreaths on doors.


String: Evan With String

String: Evan With String

Evan lent an eye for this "string" portrait. I was interested in making string from something other than conventional string. From something found around the house--which has been my M.O. lately. I missed my chance to make a portrait of the "Necklace of Lights" strung around Lake Merritt near work. I could never stay late enough, nor leave work early enough to capture the sparklers ringing the lake at dusk. So I settled for rubber bands instead.

Evan's got a pre-op tomorrow at Kaiser Santa Clara. In another week, he'll be in surgery. After that, recovery. Hallelujah! On with the show.

Love, Laurie 

String: Warm and Cold

This was another situation where my powerful blind-you-in-the-eye lamp came in handy. I was a little nervous that if I put all the strings on the lamp, they would start to burn, and the bundle was pretty hot when I took it off after the shoot. When I combined the warm lamp light to backlight the string, with the cold light from a flashlight to emphasize the hairiness of the string, it made for a really interesting picture.

Nov 22, 2008


The next theme is "string". Literal, or not.

Stay well, photo fans!

Food Fantasies: Keep It Simple

I had thought I might invade Andronico's and make a panorama of their chocolate section--or their bulk candies--or the ices and sorbets in the frozen food section. But because I work 9 to 5, I settled on what foodstuffs I could find upon stumbling into my ex's kitchen at the end of the day. I mean, that I like. Which required that I halve five onions for the shoot. And baste them with Canola oil--no--Olive oil, and bake them in the toaster oven--no--convection oven--no--broil them in the convection oven. At 400 degrees.

While I was arranging them on newspaper, I thought, "Gee! I could be a food stylist!" But then I thought, "No. I've tried enough things in life; time to go down a different road. But actually, I might have a new career. A job--TBA. Which doesn't require slicing onions. 

Happy Thanksgiving, photo fans.

Love, Laurie  

Nov 21, 2008

Food Fantasies: Mountain of Deserts

Food Fantasies: Mountain of Desserts

To climb the Mountain of Desserts there are no consequences—no arterial Clog, no concerns with Avoirdupois, no outbreak of Pimples, Hives or Rashes, no Gastrointestinal Complications.

I join a throng of mountaineers at the ready to conquer this peak, my gear at hand. An easy climb to the Pudding Outcrop. Will I choose the rice pudding, flan, trifle or bread pudding with rum sauce? I nibble at each, then progress to Sundaes, digging in my crampons between banana splits and chocolate fudge sundaes topped with drifts of whipped cream. I rappel across the Pie Crevasse, pumpkin, marionberry, peach a la mode. I will savor them on the descent. Up I go, cutting steps with my ice axe into Cake Cascade: chocolate fudge, carrot, cheesecake. I taste and compare. Almost to the top, Pastry Apex, bear claws with almond paste, cheese Danish and sticky buns illuminated by the golden glow of sunrise.

Eureka! I’ve reached the summit, Cone Peak, studded with Nestles’ Drumsticks, delectable scoops of vanilla ice cream with caramel or chocolate centers set in waffle cones, glazed with dark chocolate, dipped in chopped nuts. I pull one from the snow and ice. Another springs up in its place. That first bite, and second and third, glorious!

Love, Ama

Nov 20, 2008

Food Fantasies: Uncoffle my Waffle

When I read "food fantasies", I had no clue what to do, especially because it's so much trouble just to get into the kitchen. So I decided to just wait and see what was placed in front of me. Conveniently, at the beginning of the day, Eggo waffles were served! I saw how the little crevasses had a much thinner wall then on the ridges. It also has many interesting bubbles. In the end, I got my lamp, stuck the waffle on it, took some pictures, then syruped and ate my subject.

Nov 19, 2008

Botanical Findings: Among the Rocks


Among the rocks and trees, they thrived,
twenty-nine species of ferns I planted
before our daughter died.
The intricate Polypodium, Polystichum, Pellaea;
their laddered fronds, minute brown sporangia,
the tender curl of emerging crosiers.

We tended her until she left us.
The ferns, forgotten, shriveled and died.
Only the hardiest persevered:
Western sword fern, Button Fern, Cliff brake,
California polypody and the Little Hard Fern.

This year, the seventh November we mourn her,
my husband and I sit in our restored rock garden
amid an extravagance of chert and basalt,
wildflowers receding into earth for winter’s duration.

Twenty-four species of ferns now thrive.
Red Admirals and white Cabbage butterflies persist,
the Anna's hummingbirds standing on air.

Our next Bloggers Three theme is: Food Fantasies!
Have at it!


Nov 18, 2008

Botanical Findings: Behind the Face

This theme was all about looking at nature in a whole new way, therefore, taking unusual pictures with different points of view. I should be going after my grandmother (Ama) but i couldn't wait to post these so I'm taking advantage of this blog's lack of rules and I'm going out of order. The first picture I took is of the back of a sun flower (the stem is running up). It's interesting to know that so much beauty is hiding behind the yellow face of the sun flower.

The next picture I took was of a dying plant; it's leaves brown and crispy. Most people over look the plants who are past their prime, but if you really take a second to examine the intricate patterns and colors that we just call "death", you may be surprised...

Nov 17, 2008

Botanical Findings: The Downtown Corridor

I have a temp job assisting a Northern California HMO department prepare for an audit. We're actually in the middle of an internal audit--like some kind of litmus test for the real thing...involving you-know-who...which, we are told, will descend upon us sometime within the next two years. When I will not be working there anymore. In the meantime, the Accounts Payable Department is a regular stop: invoice heaven.

The botanicals along the way provide 
relief while navigating the Downtown Oakland corridor, and pop up along the path between my office and Accounts Payable three blocks away. I make the AP pilgrimage three times a week to collect construction invoices for the audit. The hike is both a blessing and a curse: at times I'm grateful for the chance to get out and breathe. At other times, it's a grind sliding back and forth between two monoliths framing a job that is not, as they say, "a good fit." Photographing the jog's a change, though. For the better. Thank you, photo fans.


Nov 16, 2008

Somewhere I Don't Often Go: Outside

In my wheelchair, rolling just outside my back door and on to the back porch, I felt out of place in a way. I felt like I didn't belong out where things happened, because I have been inside for so long. It's strange to think that a place that most people buy to be protected by the world is what's keeping me from being more connected with the world. As gnats started to swarm, I realized that, yes, I love being outside but, no, not at dusk when I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

My absolute favorite time to be outside (especially when I have my camera with me) is the golden hour, when the sun is setting and everything is illuminated with this wonderful glowing light.

Someday I'll take that perfect golden picture...

So the next theme of the week (well, really it's only a few days but whatever. "Of the week" sounds better than "of the next few days") is Botanical findings. The object is to look at the subject in a whole new way, apart from just pointing and shooting. This will give us a chance to look at plants and other shrubbery in a whole new way: new angles, new textures, new colors. Experiment. Try to look at the botanical in a whole new way!

Portraiture by Evan at Seven

Evan took these pictures of me (Ama) and his grandfather (Baba) when he was seven. They are my favorite portraits. The one of me scanned washed out. The original's exposure is fine. I knew way back then that he would be a fine photographer! This photo should be part of my original blog, but I didn't know how to upload a picture until Evan told me how, just now.

Nov 15, 2008

Somewhere I Don't Often Go: In the Bedroom

Somewhere I don't often go is my old bedroom. I moved out when Evan's dad and I separated in 2003 about a month before Christmas, and into a tiny room just off this one, which sits beyond the open door.

The birthday garland is something I strung up for fun; it supports the Mexican tin ornaments I used to collect, and still hangs in the bedroom. I left it behind for Evan's dad, who uses it to anchor his thoughts when he wakes up mornings.

The blinds in the room are rarely open--even now, I think--because they look out onto a neighbor's kitchen, and it's uncomfortable swimming nude in a fishbowl.

That's my old bedroom. Where I rarely go.


Nov 13, 2008

Somewhere I Don't Often Go: Evan's Existential Query

Evan pedals into my study on his tricycle, with his mother, Laurie.
"We want to tell you something funny," he announces.
"We're going to buy Evan new shoes," Laurie begins, "so I ask him to bring me his shoes to put on. I look at his socks. 'My goodness, your socks are so dirty!' I exclaim."
Evan giggles. "Then I say, 'What's the world coming to, Cratchit?' "
Then we all laugh our heads off!
Evan was 4-1/2. I'm his grandma, Ama. How wonderful to have our children and grandchildren take us to places we've never been, right in our own houses!

In the beginning, there were three...

I am writing to you from a power recliner where I've been sitting from 9 AM to 10 PM for the last 30 days. I am diagnosed with a femoral acetabular impingement (it sounds worse than it is, but my case is actually worse than average), so I basically can't walk until I get surgery, which is a little less then a month away. I started this blog for three reasons: 1) to create an outlet for all my pent up creativity, 2) because I want to get to know my mother and grandmother and their photography techniques more than I do now, and 3) because otherwise I'm going to fail my photography class at school.... but the first two reasons are the most meaningful...

For the next few months, my mother, my grandmother, and I will post journal entries and photos that reflect the given theme for the week and a brief description of the photo taken.

The first theme is Places you don't frequently go (in or around your home or elsewhere)

Good luck and good shooting!