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On Civility

May 20th, 2018

You know, I’m in a mood lately. I have to stop watching the news. It’s just too depressing. And I’m becoming an angrier person. This is not right. This is not me.

There are many forms of addiction and I have somewhat become addicted to the news. This is not healthy, especially lately. There’s too much hatred and bigotry being outwardly expressed now. It used to be that people were polite to each other even if they held distasteful beliefs about others in private. They might talk about you in a negative way when walking away from you but they wouldn’t call you a horrible name to your face. That’s no longer the case. Whether you consider yourself a conservative, a liberal or a moderate in your political views, there is no excuse whatsoever to judge a group of people by their ethnic heritage, nor is there any excuse for judging an individual before you know anything about them based on their appearance, their race, their lifestyle choices, or their religious beliefs. This is basic stuff people. Nor is it ok to belittle someone and put them down, call them an idiot if you don’t agree with their point of view.

I can’t believe some of the crap being spewed on Facebook, and I’m talking about from adults, especially older adults. What gives you the right just because you disagree with someone to call them an asshole or an idiot? What give s you the right to proclaim your point of view is the only one that counts? Why do you not care about other people at all? In other words WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

For those of you who participate in this trolling behavior, GROW UP. You’re not the be all and end all of social commentary protocol. You are just mean-spirited and miserable. Get over yourself and start acting like an adult.

No rain in my bathroom any more and other excuses

August 27th, 2017

I have a fan on my bathroom ceiling that stopped working a while ago because water got in through the vent on the roof and fried the motor. Thank goodness it didn't cause a fire, but after that, I had to put a bucket under that vent when it rained because it would slowly drip on the bathroom floor due to what I can only guess were rotten boards under my roof shingles. Finally, after a winter of kicking the bucket, we got a good estimate and got a new roof - or at least re-shingled and had the leaky part replaced.

Story of my life lately. I take care of the major repairs, but I cant motivate myself to clear out the basement (that nobody ever sees so who cares?) that is full of broken exercise equipment (including a treadmill) and other junk - boxes of old vinyl records and broken computers and lamps. And I cant get myself to do a major book purge - my one hoarding tendency. There has been a small pile of books in my entryway hall for a few months now destined for the library, and theres no snow on the porch finally, so whats my excuse? There are books upstairs on my three giant bookcases I have not touched since I got them and probably will never read. OK, as a visual artist, I can see the need to have several reference books, but lets face it, in this digital age Im never going to have a darkroom, so why would I need a book on developing my own film? and Ill never teach myself Norwegian (a goodly part of my ethnic heritage) so why do I need a book on Norwegian grammar? I will also never make my own paper - but somehow I really want to keep that one because I actually read it and find it interesting.

We wont mention the two or three duplicates I have of some books because I forgot I already bought them. Good thing Amazon has that little Purchased on. with a date above a book when you look at it now.

Lately, Ive been purchasing field guides so I can identify the tree or butterfly Ive photographed and Im finding those useful, but they are on one of the piles on my bedroom floor because there is no place to put them on my book shelves. This has to be remedied.

About 6 months ago, I brought out some books that I've had for several years about professional photographers in various genres - fashion, closeup, wildlife, portraits, and I was appalled at how bad these photos were. The portraits book is still impressive and so was the landscape book. Im keeping those two, but what did I do with the three disappointing ones? Did I put them in the pile by the door? No, of course not, I took them back upstairs.

I know I probably have some hoarding tendencies. My father (as I found out the hard way when he died) was a bit of a hoarder. Heck, I still have old flip phones and my blackberry in the closet even though I haven’t used it for three years now and its BROKEN, but my worst addiction is books.

I was going to go out with the camera either today or tomorrow, but its kind of cloudy today, so I think I will wait until tomorrow when the sun is supposed to stay our all day, and Im going to grit my teeth and add to the pile by the door. Maybe even put some books in my trunk. One step closer to breaking the addiction.


August 27th, 2017

Sell Art Online

I’m planning on joining my local art association soon and I have a few photos printed to mat and bag for their store. I have close to 3,000 images to choose from so I was having a hard time deciding what to print.

I printed about 25 of my favorites and put them in a portfolio for further consideration. I have been thinking this entire time I should have printed this one. I should have printed that one.

This morning I had a realization. You may read this next part and say Well, DUH!, but Im almost embarrassed to write this. I thought You have some photos that have sold more than one time. Why don’t you print and mat those! Wow, where has my brain been? Several of my local photos have sold and the lady in the store said they sell a lot of local images. I didn’t print any of those.

What a giant brain mishap. Ok, so Im going to use up some more ink and print the stuff that has SOLD already. Sometimes I need a 2 x 4 to the head, you know?

Confessions of an Obsession Part 6

August 27th, 2017

I have mentioned my book-hoarding tendencies in previous blog posts. Yes, Im still a book hoarder. Sort ofI once spent two days searching for a thin book on composition that I thought I might have gotten rid of and which people were asking $75.00 for on Amazon resellers. When I finally found it, I put it somewhere I could always find it. I forget right now where that is. I may have to look later for my own peace of mind.

But I digress. I have way too many books for 4 wall-to-ceiling bookcases and three more short book cases which left 3 large piles on my bedroom floor. My bedroom is about 13 x 15, so its not tiny and the piles were against the wall by my side of the bed and on the other side of the tall bookcase, and not actually in anyones path, except when the piles by the bed would fall over, then it was hard for me to get into my nightstand.

Please, before I go on, I must insist I do read everything I buy. Well, almost everything I buy. Ok, at least half of what I buy, but a lot of things are strictly reference, and you don’t read those cover to cover - Audubon field guides and knitting pattern books, for example.

Being dismayed by the number of piles in my bedroom and the number of books shoved into a wall nook in my daughters old room, which consists of two shelves probably 3 1/2 feet deep and 3 feet wide (more suited for extra linens than books), I decided it was time for another purge. I had slowly built a few piles up in the short hallway by my front door, that were slated to go out. I started piling books there maybe 6 months ago.

This week, the piles by the bed and the piles by the door finally got to me. I cleared off the second shelf in my daughters room - now my guest room - and took some of my keepers up there. Im proud to say, I only filled a fraction of that shelf. I put several more books from this shuffling around by the front door so there were 4 significant piles there, and Friday, I took every single book out to my trunk and filled it completely - at least 150 books, consisting of books I had read, books that were out of date, books that were not what I expected when I ordered them, and yes, the occasional duplicate I had because I had forgotten I already owned it (maybe 2 or 3 of those).

Pathetic, I know.

Yesterday I drove to the local Meijer, which has a drop box in the back of the parking lot from Book world or World of books - cant remember the name exactly, and put each and every book in that slot - well, except I rescued two books I just couldn’t part with, but thats pretty good for a book hoarder, yes? I mean, Im looking for some kudos here or a well done. Not looking for someone to say you still have a problem. That was at least 150 books I put in that bin. So give a girl some credit. Ive taken over 200 books to the local library as well over the last couple of years. I worked long and hard hours to get all those books so if you try to take away the ones I really wont part with, there will be a bit of resistance. Ok, a LOT of resistance.

To close, I will say I am an amateur for sure. I watched an episode of Hoarders last week (it was a rerun, I had seen it before) about a couple who had approximately 400,000 books in their house. You had to walk sideways between the book cases. How their floors didn’t collapse, I have no idea. The city was going to be inspecting their property so they decided they needed to do something about the hoard. When the show was done, they had removed over 20,000 books from the living room and kitchen ONLY (this house had several rooms). Apparently they have been working on purging slowly ever since.

Ok, I maybe still own 300 books. Lets see, 24 book shelves times 20 books average per shelf - thats 400 books. Plus the overflow (theres still a pile between my dressers) and on one shelf in my guest room) so maybe 450 books. These people had 400,000!! I cant even imagine that. It takes me an hour sometimes to a find book I want to refer to but that should be much easier for me now that most everything is on a bookshelf. I don’t know how these people could even remember what they actually owned.

We wont discuss the few books I have in the closet in my sons old room. At least I don’t have any shoved under the bed. Well, I don’t THINK I do..

The Threads or Self Importance VS Self Awareness

August 27th, 2017

I have been enjoying discussions in the forum threads for the most part since I started participating about a year after I joined the site. I wrote a blog similar to this a while back when someone started a thread with a rather blanket statement at which I personally took offense. Since then, when someone puts forth an idea or asks a question, or makes a blanket statement about something, I'm familiar enough with the personalities involved after reading their contributions in most cases for well over a year, to either want to engage in a dialogue with them, tell them politely they are an idiot (not in those words, of course) or just ignore them completely so they will hopefully shut up and go away.

Please note - I'm not being sarcastic in this particular blog post. I'm not irritated, offended angry, frustrated or anything else. A lot has been written lately in the discussion threads about how we cannot read body language or see facial expressions or hear vocal inflections in someone's typed comment, so I just want to make it clear to anyone who reads this blog they should take it as intended - that is a light-hearted and amused look at personality types and the way they come across in the social areas here. Also, when I use the pronoun "he" it's meant in the generic sense, only because we have no neuter pronouns in English. There are women who fall into these categories as well. I also know there are well-known categories of web personalities - these are just my take on those I have encountered lately.

The "Normal" Contributor

This type of poster may start a thread asking for advice or posting a somewhat abstract question asking for a lively and/or serious debate, and responds to each contributor, even the insulting ones, with humor, reason and restraint in order to keep the thread on topic and to not let it turn into a free-for-all allowing the not-so-restrained personalities to take over and turn the thread into a food fight.

The Blowhard

This person comes into a thread just to argue. He generally doesn't stick strictly to the narrow parameters of the topic as originally posted but feels he has to expand the discussion beyond the scope of what was put forward and he makes "pronouncements" about how things should be without any phrasing such as "in my opinion" or as I see it in response to any counter arguments or opinions stated. This personality often repeats the same statements 20 different ways throughout a discussion thread to the point where the rest of us are finally rolling our eyes and wanting to tell this person You really do love to hear your own voice, don’t you? Why don’t you just go bake some cookies or something? this poster joins in almost every thread, even if its a subject he knows nothing about just to hear himself type - so to speak.

The Wise but unintentionally (or perhaps sub-consciously) Condescending poster

There are those here who have many years experience at the subject being discussed and can make substantive contributions to said subject, but cannot help but introduce the subtle put-down into their statements directed at one of the other contributors such as you’ll realize after you do such-and-such for as long as I have that you’re wrong about what you just stated - often stating this without having any idea at all how much experience the person they are speaking to has in the area in question. Ive had people do this to me personally, and I love to come back with Ive been doing such-and-such for over 40 years, and I DO know what Im talking about, (thank you very much). Some of these people also make pronouncements that other people do not know how hard what they do is, when any of us in any discipline know NOTHING is easy, simply by the fact that we’ve lived. Theres no need to keep telling people over and over you’ve walked on hot coals and suffered greatly to get to where you are, just to negate someone else’s statement and to imply the other persons contribution to the thread doesn’t matter because they don’t have the exact same life experiences. This type of poster perhaps does set me off a little more than some of the others, because unlike the "blowhard", who can be easily identified, this poster, in the attempt to appear humble, shows subtle contempt for others and/or the need for acknowledgement in his/her accomplishments and is not humble at all despite protests to the contrary, and is clearly patronizing even if it is a subconscious behavior on their part.

The Intellectual but Ineffectual Writer

I haven’t seen this type too much lately, but there have been those contributors who come across like self-perceived intellectuals with run-on sentences that are hard for anyone to read no matter their level of schooling, some containing grammatical errors making their entire post read like Lewis Carols Jabberwocky. Most of the time, whatever point they are trying to make gets lost in the attempted complexity of their sentence structure and a mass of unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and this persons post just disrupts and slows down the rest of the thread while the rest of us stop to try and figure out what the heck they are trying to say.

The Tongue in Cheek One Line Contributors

I like these guys. They can smell out BS quicker than most people here and know when to throw in that one-line zinger that generally wont get them banned from the forum, but is their way of saying to the previous poster you have got to be kidding me - do you really expect the rest of us to take that seriously? I often wish I had thought of what these guys have just said that so aptly tells the original poster they are being an A-hole.

The Whiner

These are people who come into the threads only to complain about how lousy the site is because they haven’t sold anything or there is an aspect of the site they think should be changed and they go on a rant about how inconvenient this or that is and they don’t understand why it was set up that way finally stating that they are taking their toys and going home. Im personally kind of amused at these people and Im also glad I don’t live with one of them because they sound like that personality type that complains about EVERYTHING. It's ok to point out a bug or a feature that is not working as intended, but some people take these things waaay to seriously. Theres also a category of whiner who takes offense at perfectly innocently posted contributions of other members and reads personal insults into a post and reacts almost violently. (Im not talking about reacting to the wise but condescending poster type - thats different). I was the recipient of one such attack a long time ago to what I thought was a reasonable and non-judgmental statement. I quickly apologized in that case, but Ive since come to realize you really cant avoid insulting this type of person. This type of person hears you say Good morning and reacts by asking What do you mean by that??.

There are a few other types of contributors here, but for the most part (and in my humble opinion - smile, wink), the posters who I consider to have some mild to extreme personal issues fall into one of these categories that are not the normal contributor category. Im sure anyone reading this could probably come up with a few more.

Thanks, guys. You may irritate me, you may insult me, you may put me down, you may disparage my work and you may disagree with me, but you certainly also keep me entertained.


July 1st, 2017

Ah, a three-day weekend! What every traditionally employed person waits for. It’s here an I’m in the middle of it. Although I generally don’t exhibit any ADD behavior, give me three days off in a row and I bounce into walls. I can’t figure out what to do with myself until the weekend is almost over. So I sit and think “Should I read? Should I go out with the camera? Should I just watch tv? Should I stare at my navel?”

I could always clean my house, but what fun is that? I did go out with the camera yesterday and will probably go out again tomorrow, but today here I set watching “Say yes to the dress.”

Why is it so hard for me to pin down what I want to do in my free time? I would go out with the camera, but the skies are that kind of high-clouds hazy blue I don’t really like. I’ve also run out of ideas as to what to shoot around here, so I got on the internet and typed in “Things to photograph in Saint Clair County”. There was a list of a few things they considered photogenic including a few historic homes and some locations I have already photographed, but the list actually also contained a couple of drainage ditch bridges. Really? I’ve seen those bridges and I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would hang a picture of these concrete monstrosities on their wall.

Maybe sometimes it’s ok to not have a direction. Maybe I should just let this ship sail wherever it takes me. As log as it doesn’t sale over to the vacuum cleaner or the kitchen mop, I’ll be fine.

The Shoulds

July 1st, 2017

You know when you were growing up, ladies, and your mother told you “You have to get your work done before you can play”? How does one shake that off? I “should” get off my rear end and vacuum. I threw out a dead plant a couple of days ago, and I swept up the dead leaves of said plant with my little carpet roller-sweeper thing - you know, the kind they use in restaurants to sweep up crumbs - but I’ve been starting at the dead leaves right against my door wall ever since. I “should” get out my regular vacuum cleaner and use the hose attachment to suck up the rest of those leaves, but I don’t feel like it.

It’s very foggy this morning, and I “should” grab my camera and go down to the river to shoot the old pilings in fog, but I’ve done that from every angle I can think of already so I don’t feel like it. Besides, it’s so foggy on the river when it’s like this, I can’t get any shots of the freighters. You can’t even see them in this weather even though they are close to the docks.

I “should” get in the shower right now, but I don’t feel like it. I’m not going anywhere today so I’ll wait unit later.

I “should” do some online work, I’m slightly motivated to do that, but I don’t feel like it right now. Maybe later.

I “should” get the Christmas tree out - it’s small so it only takes me about half an hour to get it out and set it up and decorate it, but I don’t feel like doing it right now, so maybe later.

I “should” do the laundry. We went to our son’s house in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving and all that travel laundry is in the basket, but I don’t fee like doing it, to maybe tomorrow.

So what am I left with here? I have not made a blog post for a couple of months, so I “should” write one. I guess that’s what this is.

The quantum physics people say that “thoughts are things”, so maybe if I think about sucking up those leaves and getting out the Christmas tree and doing my online work and showering and getting some shots of the foggy docks and doing the laundry, it will all get done - let’s test that theory and see if it works, shall we?

Oh, yeah, here’s my blog post. Got something accomplished today. Yeah!

Connecting with your Subject

July 1st, 2017

Connecting with your Subject

Throughout my photographic journey, I've come to realize, as everyone else who makes art realizes, I connect with some subjects and not with others. I'm partway through the book "The Zen of Creativity" by John Daido Loori and I'm enjoying it very much. His description of connecting with your subject before you shoot it brought very much to the surface what I was trying to do before, but I was previously doing it on a subconscious level.

I'm now consciously developing a relationship with an old dock downtown where I live, along with some old pilings around it. I've shot that dock from every angle I can think of. I have not, however, had enough guts to climb out on the other old dock next to it because even though I can swim, that water is frigid and I don't want to have to replace my camera equipment. Heaven only knows how strong that dock is.

I'm taking photos of this old dock and the one next to it in every season and in every weather condition and the water around them is an entirely different color depending on the time of day. Sometimes the water is green because it's overcast and the algae on the retaining wall and the rocks and the old pilings gives the water its color. When it's afternoon and sunny, the blue sky overcomes much of the green and the water is a beautiful blue. Sometimes the color lies in between. My favorite condition of all, however, is when the old docks and pilings are in dense fog. They seem to be floating in space and are quite other-worldly. The only thing that shatters the silence and peacefulness at the shore in very dense fog is the occasional freighter horn. Trust me, if you don't hear the thing creeping up on you and she sounds that horn while she's going by before you see her, well, you had better not be right at the edge of the dock because you may end up in the water from an involuntary startle response.

But back to my dock, I suppose I should not have favorites, but like Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree, I favor the poor broken dock over his more in-tact cousin. I get more comments and views on the more "perfect" dock, but my poor broken friend gets more of my attention every time I go there.

On a happy note, someone finally bought the historic inn right next to these beautiful old reminders of boating past, and is going to restore it. It has been vacant for a few years and needs some work, but the buyer is supposedly motivated to keep the charm and eventually open it for business again. I will be very happy to see the inn come back to its former glory - it's on the National Register of Historic Places - but I can't help but wonder what he will do with the old docks. Will he have them removed? Will my rickety old friend be taken away and replaced with something shiny and new? People used to dock there on a summer day to eat at the hotel dining room after a day out on the river. Since my friend is broken and unstable, I think he will probably be replaced, but until then I will continue the relationship and when he's gone, at least I will have several portrait of him to remind me of his silent, stately beauty.

The Liberation of Aging

July 1st, 2017

The Liberation of Aging

I am getting older and as any older person can tell you it's quite common to get to a point in your life when you reassess some of the things you have done all your life and finally you say "Why am I doing this?". I Have what a lot of older people have which is a condition whereby my eyes are continually dry. I also have slightly darker skin under my eyes than the rest of my face, which is a family trait. I have for more years than I can count worn cover stick (makeup for under the eyes for you guys out there who are not up on your makeup terminology) and in the last two or three years, I've found that my eyes are sensitive to it and get irritated and even dryer.

Last week I shook off that last holdout of feminine vanity and forsook the cover stick which was the last vestige of makeup I was still wearing. It was liberating. Although I'm not ready to stop wearing a bra in public or stop bathing and washing my hair, I found that nobody ran away from me in horror or stared because I was not wearing cover stick. In fact, I don't look that much different without it unless I've been deprived of sleep for 24 hours, in which case I do look like I have gone a couple of rounds with Mohamed Ali.

The older I get, the less I care what the outside world thinks about me and I'm finding it exhilarating. I have nothing bad to say about older ladies who wear a tasteful amount of makeup, but I see far too many women in their 60s and 70s piling it on thicker every year making a person afraid to give them a kiss on the cheek or a cheek to cheek hug for fear of having to shower afterward. We will not discuss in detail the look of base makeup and powder accumulation in wrinkles (shudder).

Too many "mature" ladies are trying to hold onto their youth and to appear attractive to the opposite sex. I think what they don't realize is if a mature man is attracted to you it has nothing to do with your face (or very little anyway).

My husband has not noticed any difference in my appearance, and, indeed, I've worn less and less makeup every year until last week when I finally started going facially "naked".

Now you many think this blog entry is kind of silly and unimportant in the grander scheme of things, and you would be partly right, but just stop and think for a minute about the stuff that controls you instead of the stuff you control.

I no longer worry about what people think of me when I lie down on the boardwalk by the river in town to take a photo of a dew-draped spider web in fog along the railing.

And I do it now with a naked face.

Rocks and Trees

July 1st, 2017

Rocks and Trees

I'm infatuated with all rocks and trees. I take at least five photographs of trees every time I go out with my camera. The problem comes in when it's time to describe what I've captured. I am botanically stupid. I have tree field guides but some trees look a lot like others and I can't always distinguish. I WANT to study trees - their usual habitats, their characteristics, the varieties around the world, but there's only so much time in the day and I'm still fully employed.

I also never met a rock I didn't like. I have several photos for sale of the beautiful lichen-covered granite in Acadia National Park - images of the stunning red rock formations near Sedona, Arizona and several other rocky locations through the country. I know slightly more about geology than I know about trees simply because geology has always fascinated me and I've actually read more about it.

It's hard when you become fascinated by a subject and you don't have time to study it well. I hate being "outside looking in" so to speak. I want to actually know what I'm talking about. It would be nice to be able to remember everything you read about everything. I could read a field guide one time in that case and actually know what I'm looking at when I'm out in the field.

This is just a small lamentation about what I have not had time to incorporate fully into my life. For now, I will just content myself with capturing the beauty and mystery around me with my camera, and if I live to be 100, perhaps I can squeeze in some learning along the way and have a deeper understanding of what I'm seeing through the viewfinder.


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