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Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

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.

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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

 

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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

 

 

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Here in the South, children go back to school very early. Maybe it’s our agricultural roots, but for some, backpacks are already packed, the yellow buses are rolling, and all the papers that must/be/signed have been returned to the school administration. I wonder if parents still have papers to sign, or have they gone paperless too?

For all my Northern friends, who insist that summer will last through Labor Day goshdarnit, here is a six worded memoir of summer so far.

My butterfly tree is done blooming, but the white hydrangeas are alive with golden monarch wings: Breathtaking photo copy

Sometimes, a Grandpa misses his little Love Bug, he takes to the sky for a quick trip to Nashville: Enchanting photo

On these wonderfully crisp mornings, the sleeping porch becomes an oasis of bird song and sun:  Musing IMG_1480

To prove that aging isn’t a dirty word, one Great Grandma tackled the wonders of the digital age:  Gratifying photo copy

Not wanting to be left behind, the local sport club’s pool beckoned for fun joint-pain-free exercise: Energizing  photo copy

And a fifth tooth has appeared in my dose of almost daily Baby Bug pictures, with bagel/on/nose: Captivating  photo copy 2

Hope your summer has been wonderful so far!

 

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Progress. It’s here to stay; technology races further ahead than most of us can imagine. How to stay at the cutting edge, how to know what’s next. Should we get the smaller “Tablet,” the thinner “Laptop?” One of my first newspaper articles in the 80s came about because I was tending a wood stove while Bob was carting his first “At-Home” computer up the stairs to his office. The juxtaposition of these two events piqued my funny bone. Bob likes to tell the story of the man who sold buggy whips.

He made the best, most beautiful buggy whips around. Just the right length, real leather, with handles that were oh, so ergonomically correct. The problem was it was 1896 and Henry Ford had built his first Quadricycle. You can see what’s coming, right? “And as the Quadricycle began to attract public attention, investors were intrigued. With the backing and influence of the mayor of Detroit, Henry Ford incorporated his first automobile company, the Detroit Automobile Company, in 1899. It had a short life, but Henry Ford’s career as an automaker had begun.” Who wants to be the buggy whip guy at the dawn of the automobile age?

Warning – Bob stop reading now! I just heard about a book I think I’ll be stuffing in Bob’s Hanukka stocking. “The Disappearance of Darkness” by Robert Burley http://darkness.robertburley.com is about the end of the analog photography era. When we were first married, Bob always longed for a dark room in any house we looked at. It didn’t have to be much, maybe a closet, a place where my amateur photographer could develop his film. It seems truly amazing that in the last 7 years Eastman Kodak has gone from being a top Fortune 500 company to a buggy whip. Steve Jobs was the Ford of our day.

Video stores and record stores are closing, maybe even bookstores? When you can make a memory book of photos for a Great Grandma, then type a little more and have my holiday cards done sealed and delivered (thank you Shutterfly); if our music can come from a cloud, what’s next?
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It’s turning out to be a very slow day. First I woke up to Ms Bean barking on the back deck, and looked out to see another hot air ballon coming our way through the morning fog. Can you see the mountains starting to turn orange?

Then I started researching New Zealand. http://www.newzealand.com/us/Places/?cid=p:con:us:specialinterest
Why? Because we had a lovely dinner last night on the mall with a new Emergency Physician Bob is recruiting from Richmond and her husband and some friends, and we talked about New Zealand. They were lucky enough to have been there and have me convinced it is the next place to see! Of course, it’s the last place on earth where an ancient nearly extinct lizard can be found, so…
http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/10/16/163015959/tough-old-lizard-to-face-grave-romantic-troubles-say-scientists

And then, I started making a new Shutterfly book. How the hours just whiz by when you’re combing through baby pictures. Shhh, it’s a secret, but a certain Great Grandmother believes that pictures need to be held in one’s hands, and not viewed in small phones or on computer screens! I love Shutterfly, even though their constant barrage of emails can be off-putting. http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books

So don’t hate me because I’m procrastinating. Yesterday I showed up at the Albemarle County Office Building and voted early for the first time in my life. I’ll be in Nashville when our nation goes to the polls. It’s an important election! We women want our grand daughters in Brag Books – not binders after all!

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“We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place,” said President Obama. And I remembered how, almost ten years ago, I had never heard of that country, I had never heard the words Taliban or Al Quaida or BinLaden. We lived on a peninsula, a short ferry ride away from Wall Street. The Rocker was in high school. He drove out to Sandy Hook with his friends to sit on the beach and watch the Tower’s smoke billow down the shipping channel. The Bride had just graduated college, and was working in DC, when I called her to warn her about the planes. The longest hour of my life was waiting to hear she had walked back to her apartment and was safe.

So seeing these pictures, across from our Free Speech Monument, was riveting. Like my friend’s daughter who wrote, each day, the names of our fallen soldiers like a stencil around the border of her room. Like hearing that photographers would not be allowed to document the return of fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base. Flags could fly on cars and bridges, but a picture of a flag embracing a coffin might be too much for us to bear?  

Yes, the drawdown is a good thing. But artists must continue to hold our politicians accountable – make music, write screenplays, take photographs – draw our attention to the real cost of war.

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