Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

IMG_5534

Growing up, I’d never heard of Dorothea Lange. There were no Women’s Studies courses in the 1960s. We knew about Doris Day and Eleanor Roosevelt and sometimes I’d dream about marrying a prince like Grace Kelly – hey, she was born in Pennsylvania like me. And there was always Brigette Bardot and Marilyn Monroe just in case I aspired to be a sex symbol? On second thought, I really wanted to be a comedienne like Carol Burnett.

But Bob and I wanted to see the Frist exhibit of Dorothea Lange before she left the building – the museum is the actual/original Art Deco Nashville Post Office and always amazes me. The exhibit is scheduled to close this weekend so we boogied downtown the other afternoon; I’d admired Lange from the moment I heard about her, a photographer who documented the real human toil of the Great Depression. https://fristartmuseum.org/calendar/detail/dorothea-lange

I wasn’t expecting to cry. I was so moved by her images of families displaced by the economy and dust bowls. Lange is famous for her portraits of migrant women, both white and black which was unusual in itself, but when we got to the pictures of Japanese families sitting, patiently waiting to be deported to internment camps, surrounded by their bags, I wept.

The children had government ID tags on them.

I was touched because I knew that feeling, displacement. It was in my bones and it has never left me.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

“Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer,
I was taken by a photograph of you.
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more,
But they didn’t show your spirit quite as true.”

Those lyrics from Jackson Browne’s song “Fountain of Sorrow” have been playing through my mind lately. We were heading into the home stretch of unpacking boxes and settling into our party farmhouse when Bob decided it was time to digitize our mountains of old pictures – the Bride’s 9th birthday party, the Rocker’s Middle School birthday trip to the Liberty Science Center with the Twin Towers hovering in the background. Eighth Grade graduations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, my little cheerleader and my little ice hockey player.

Every single important event had been chronicled, and sometimes just random moments, like an impromptu trip to DC, or a drive back to the Berkshires, under sparkling amber trees with old friends.

I tried to look at myself objectively, did I look happy then? Or was I rushed and angry because I’d completed the grunt work and didn’t want to “pose” for a picture? What possessed me to don a Groucho Marx nose for a beach birthday party? We have lots of doubles because the second set of pictures were free and you never know who might want one.

A friend sent me a picture of herself, hanging clothes out on a line in the 70s dressed in bell bottoms.  I loved pinning up my clean, wet clothes to the sun, and still love it today even though there is no clothes line outside my city house. I guess Bob never saw fit to catch me hanging up diapers, or maybe he was always working on wash day.

I had a sense during that sweet young motherhood time, a feeling that this was just about the best it would ever be. I’d started writing for a newspaper, pecking out words during naptime and at night after the children were asleep. We had feminist consciousness raising young mom playgroups where we shared our secret mothering tricks and helped each other after each new birth. I used to sew baby elephants that would attach nose to tail across the new baby’s crib.

It was a lifetime ago, and yet it was just yesterday.

“I found some pictures where I still had dark hair,” Bob just said. And my hair looked different in each frame because strawberry blonde hair cannot be captured by a camera. Sometimes it looks like mahogany, and sometimes it looks white. Now that I’ve let it go grey, it actually is a blondish/white!

I’m reading a remarkable book by our local bookstore’s blog editor – “I Miss You When I Blink,” by the very blonde Mary Laura Philpott. It’s part memoir, part humor, and all heart. Following in the footsteps of Bombeck and Quindlen, she talks about her mother quizzing her in First Grade for a spelling bee, and she mentions how mothers always take the blame for our failures. She is, however, smart enough to know how nature can pounce on nurture. She was probably a Type A from the get-go. Philpott is still young by my standards, in her 40s, young enough to remember First Grade.

Her book has me literally laughing out loud! “She’s refreshingly honest and very funny, especially when, at a much-anticipated kid-free dinner party, she finds herself in an endless “momversation” (my term, feel free to borrow) on the subject of chicken salad. Boiled or baked? Shredded or chopped? Grapes or no grapes? To salt or not to salt? I chortled as Philpott fumed through dinner: “I had to concentrate to keep from shaking my head no no no, to keep from yelling, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP . . . Fifteen minutes in, I wanted to scream, ‘Is anyone having some genuine feelings about something? Does anyone have something fascinating or funny or weird to discuss?’”  ”https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/you-know-that-funny-friend-you-look-for-at-dull-mom-parties-here-she-is-in-book-form/2019/03/29/cf43b17e-49ba-11e9-93d0-64dbcf38ba41_story.html?utm_term=.b9b497aebabc

We’ve all had those “momversations.” Seriously, if you know of any other Type A out there, this one’s for them.

Hope y’all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. I’ve always said the Flapper did the very best she could. Losing my father when I was 7 months old, then almost losing her own life in a car accident 3 months later. She was a strong and resilient woman and I see her qualities still in my own children, in their determination, chutzpah.

She waited for me to return of my own free will, and I will always be grateful for that. Here I am in my early 40s. Why did I choose a peplum dress? It was the 80s.

IMG_5461

Read Full Post »

I love seeing the flood of Back-to-School pictures on my Facebook feed. First graders and first year in high school, they all look so fresh-faced and eager; but I guess if your child has been dreading the start of school, well, the first day might be different. Maybe she/he has experienced bullying? Or maybe, the sheer number of school shootings has them worried, do they really feel safe at school?

Not to worry, Betsy DeVos is considering using our tax dollars to fund arming our teachers and training them to carry guns… against all sane advice to the contrary from law enforcement, pediatricians and teachers’ unions. Our children are now practicing “active shooter drills” the way we had fire drills.

Our government has also approved a 1.8 million dollar grant for “School-Age Trauma Training,” ie to teach kids what to do to help their wounded friends. First Aid for First Grade. And now, bless our hearts, the Department of Education is considering using federal money set aside for “Student Enrichment” to fund gun-toting teachers.

I thought student enrichment meant field trips or maybe a special gifted and talented program? Maybe some band instruments? How about after-school-programs???

I was student teaching when Columbine happened. I’d gone back to graduate school and was placed in a middle school for a year. I remember the shock in the teacher’s lounge, a place I rarely visited. I remember the way the disaffected loner students retreated further. That feeling of helplessness, foreboding. Columbine happened nearly two decades ago, and here we are.

Those of us who do NOT watch Fox News on a feedback loop day after day may be wondering how we can continue, as a nation, to allow school tragedies like Newtown and Parkland to continue unabated. I was surprised to read that the DOE has already allowed teachers to carry guns in 14 states! The stranglehold of NRA money fuels a corrupt system that is uniquely American. Out of 23 countries with the highest-income in the world, the USA stands near the top of a deplorable list: 82% of all gun deaths – 90% of all women killed by guns – and 92% of all children killed either accidentally or on purpose by a gun.

Media reports of school shootings capture headlines, the way a lone suicide with a handgun never will. And yet, suicide is the most prevalent reason young people die in this country. But the heck with universal background checks and banning assault weapons or stopping loopholes in the law that allow spousal abusers to purchase firearms. Let’s just put more handguns in school, shall we? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45288773

Betsy, Betsy, Betsy please reconsider your boss’ insane idea.

IMG_3117

 

 

Read Full Post »

Is this the Year of the Dog, or the Year of the Bird? Last night, a gorgeous picture of a Boykin Spaniel popped up on my Instagram. Liver colored, with soulful eyes, droopy ears and curly fur, it looked just like my very first dog. She was the sweetest, most lovable creature ever, although maybe everyone’s first love takes on a special significance over time.

The Boykin’s photo was courtesy of a National Geographic photographer I’m following who is shooting a series called the #yearofthedogs. His name is Vincent J Musi, “…a trusted friend to animals everywhere.” He doesn’t just capture their distinct personalities, he tells you a little bit about his encounter – like how much the dog may have drooled, while noting that he’s also drooled back in the day. It’s a witty and wonderful start (or end) to any day!

Meanwhile, in the middle of my Monday, I found myself at the Animal Hospital with the Bride and Groom’s older dog, the much loved G-man. I just happened to be playing super heroes with our L’il Pumpkin when I noticed Mr G really digging into one of his paws. Upon closer inspection there was blood on his dew claw; so without further adieu, we headed to the Vet. At that point the Love Bug came home from school and wanted to keep us company.

Her level of empathy is amazing for a 5 year old.

I’ll dispense with the gory details, Mr G is now wearing the cone of shame to keep him from tearing off his bandaged leg. The hardest part will be keeping the new puppy from trying to attack him, um play with him. Maybe I should visit our friend Robin’s pet store, “Come, Sit, Stay” to find Mr G a special treat?

What is it about dogs? Almost every picture I have of me as a child has me standing next to, or holding a dog. The Flapper’s first child, my half-sister Shirley, the one I never knew, used to raise Welsh Corgis. Of all the dogs in the AKC, I too chose Corgis to adore when my children were little, never knowing that Shirley felt the same way. German Shepherd dogs hold a special place in my heart, and let’s face it, ANY and ALL rescues, like Ms Bean and G-Man.

My niece Lynn breeds the regal Scottish Deerhound, a breed known for their sweet temperament. She’s in that category of Best in Show dogs, traveling the country with a plethora of hounds in the back seats. Come to think of it, Shirley’s daughter Karen loves to travel with her canine companions too! Hmm, now that’s a children’s book!

Every other dog you meet in Nashville is a Frenchie! I loved Musi’s photo of a French Bulldog named Larry, who is friendly in a “take over the world” kind of way. Y’all know my Francophile ways, so a Frenchie might just fit with us whenever and where ever the wind blows. Having one pup in a city townhouse is enough for now.

But I digress, because I was wondering about 2018 now that we are 3 months in, and it seems that this isn’t the Year of the Dog, even though I’m a dog addict. It’s the “Year of the Bird!”

“National Geographic, National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations join forces for 12 months of storytelling and science to examine how our changing environment is impacting birds around the globe.”

However, I wasn’t entirely wrong because according to the Chinese calendar 2018 is the Year of the Dog! Loosely translated we should all have “prosperous wealth.” I’m OK with that, because a house isn’t a home until it’s covered in fur. Maybe my next post will be about birds, and the way Ms Bean just plucked one out of the air!? Happy Birding everyone!

Awwww poor G-Man.

IMG_2497

 

Read Full Post »

The photographs I have left of my Father, who died when I was a baby, are in black and white. As are my baby pictures, stuffed into a bag in an album that has lost its binding. The Flapper gave me to her friends, my foster parents, after her automobile accident because her only other choice would have been an orphanage. My sister Kay was already taking care of my two brothers, and they had to go back to school, so who else would take care of me?

Nell only had one child, and her daughter was in nursing school when I arrived in Victory Gardens after the War in 1949. And so I was raised by a grandmother figure, as Nell was already in her 50s. And she catalogued my childhood lovingly, pasting black and white pictures with tiny black paper edges onto every page. Only my memories conjure up the white and pink explosion of the dogwood tree outside our kitchen window, the red and white tile in the one bathroom, the green grass under my feet with the white sheets billowing above.

Our TV was in black and white, and after school I would walk home from the bus in my maroon plaid Sacred Heart School uniform, to catch Nell watching Art Linkletter on Kids Say the Darndest Things. A small piano stood in a corner with brass feet and hard white teeth. Our first dog was black and brown, I remember sitting on Daddy Jim’s feet while he read the black and white newspaper, and smoked his pipe after work. I would lean back on his knees and stroke the dog’s fur, listening to his critique of the day’s news. Maybe this is when I thought I might have something to say about world events? clr-on-tricycle-20170127

When we view history through a black and white lens, we lose something of the nuance. The tone is off, and it becomes harder to relate to something that happened so long ago. It creates the distance we need to survive certain tragedies, like my Year of Living Dangerously – my psychologist brother Jim’s description of 1949. Which is why finding this photographer, Marina Amaral, is like finding a jewel in the coal dustbin of time.

Amaral’s passion is restoring and colorizing old black and white pictures. And I found a picture she posted online of a child, a Czechoslovakian girl who was the same age as my sister Kay in 1949, when she died at Auschwitz in 1943. Her name was Czeslawa Kwoka; and I remembered Nell’s given name was Kosty, which was probably changed at Ellis Island. On Amaral’s webpage, you can move a line back and forth over the child’s face, and bring color to her cheeks and blood to the cut on her lip.

“Color has the power to bring life back to the most important moments,” http://www.marinamaral.com

Today more than ever, on Holocaust Memorial Day, we must remember that the Holocaust started with the rhetoric of hate, and the silence and indifference of the rest of Europe and America. And we must vow to resist in any way we can, and we must say her name, Czeslawa Kwoka.

Photograph courtesy of Marina Amaral.

c3lknnqw8aath7x

Read Full Post »

 

Daddy Jim and Corky

Daddy Jim and Corky

My very first dog was a black dog, his name was Corky. He was named after the County my foster/father/Daddy Jim’s ancestors were from in Ireland, County Cork. I’m not sure how he came to reside in Victory Gardens with us, but he was my constant companion and set the stage for the rest of my life – a life that always had a canine presence. In fact, until Buddha died, we were mostly a two-dog family. Either you are a one OR a two/or/more dog family, and we were definitely the more the merrier.

Our first married dog was a German Shepherd named Bones. He was named after the doctor on Star Trek of course, and because Bob’s first dog’s name was Doc and well, because he was a skin and bones stray when we found him at the pound. He loved porcupines, and to our utter astonishment couldn’t stop chasing them in the Berkshire Mountains. Shepherds are supposed to be smart dogs, but our Bones just never gave up despite many needles to the snout.

Anyway, over the years we seem to have adopted brown dogs, except for the Bride’s first dog, a tri-color (black, brown and white) Corgi, and Buddha, who was 100 pounds of long, fluffy, pure, white Samoyed-mix fur. With the exception of Corky, I’ve never owned a black dog. Here is our current canine

Brown Bean Burrito

Brown Bean Burrito

The Rocker's First Dog

The Rocker’s First Dog

The first time I heard about the troubles with black dogs was a few years ago when the Bride and Groom adopted their first married dog, a black Shepherd-mix rescue in Nashville. “He was going to be euthanized,” she said, “because they told me that nobody wants black dogs.” Maybe it was because she was going through her Trauma rotation at the time, that I didn’t give it another thought.

Until I heard about this MA photographer, Fred Levy, who has made it his life’s mission to showcase black shelter dogs for all the world to see.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/black-dogs-project_n_5037181.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000010

Through doing this project, I’ve found that it’s really important to share the idea that there are always so many dogs in need of a good safe home, regardless of what the dog looks like,” Levy told HuffPost. “Maybe someone will see this and consider the gravity of owning a pet, no matter what color it is.”

Who knows, the syndrome is called “Black Dog Bias,” and maybe it started with the superstition against black cats? I know my Irish Nana didn’t even like a black bird to fly in front of her. I get the fear of American Pit Bulls, although I don’t agree with it. I truly believe a dog, any dog, is what its owner makes of it, along with centuries of breeding to make it fetch or swim or herd or whatever. We had to train our Corgis not to nip at children’s ankles when they run, after all that will only do for cows. I asked Bob on a recent outing to get some fresh air, if he wanted to walk through the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA (CASPCA) and look for an older black dog. http://caspca.org

He said, “Maybe next time.”

Photography by Fred Levy

Photography by Fred Levy

 

Read Full Post »

It’s all over the news. The Royal Couple has posted their very first family portrait, with little Prince George all swaddled in sunlight and the Royal dogs (not Corgis btw) posed like bookends. And as usual, this new Royal Dad and Mum are doing things their way. Breaking with tradition, royalswithdogs202way-2d70d30b93779950a5f74576222866817a37caec-s4-c85

“The pictures were taken by Kate’s father, Michael Middleton, in the family’s backyard. The casual images are a departure from the royal tradition of hiring professional photographers for baby portraits.” http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/20/213761688/prince-georges-first-official-photos-break-with-tradition

And this made me think of what the common folk do, at least here in America. We used to run to Sears, or another big box store, to have a suitable portrait done of our wee ones. But this year, for the first time in 60 years, those smiling baby faces behind cloth clouds will be no more. Sears and Walmart unexpectedly shut down their portrait studio operations. “To take the family to a portrait studio in 2013 was akin to taking it to a phone booth to make the day’s calls or sitting it down in front of the Betamax for movie night,” according to Jason Notte on MSNMoney.

So I thought I’d share with you this morning the family portrait I received, along with hundreds of the Bride and Groom’s Facebook followers, this past weekend. They have been faithfully cataloguing the Love Bug’s growth with monthly shots by her semi-professional photographer Dad. But at this wedding in Denver of a high school friend, someone “snapped” or more likely touched this lovely triptych in a botanical garden.  1098150_10201464515316824_686007004_n

DIY has never been easier in our digital age; Apple, Shutterfly, Photobucket, Google and Snapfish make taking and sharing photos simple and painless. I overheard a young girl of about 11 asking a boy if he had “…an Instagram?” He replied yes, he does. Her quick retort, “How many followers do you have?”  And so it begins…

I don’t have lots of Instagram followers, probably not as much as that little boy. But I did get the Groom’s eye view of his family from this weekend, and it always makes me smile.photo

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: