Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Musings

I have mused, countless times, on how lucky I am to know such fine people.  It can be someone from childhood, high school, college, employment, mutual friends, and the world of the arts.  When I go to that final adventure, I will go knowing that I have known love with my fellow beings, and that we made this mutual journey a meaningful one with our shared experiences, our sumptuous dinners by candle light, our walkabouts to capture the perfect photograph, our music making around a campfire and earnest hand written letters through the years. 

I have been disappointed by friends as well, of course.  Some calamities are fixable, while others are not worth the time and effort to recover.  I say, "Adieu" and know that while the friendship lasted, it brought me great pleasure.  Some I still agonize over in restless dreaming or 2:30 a.m. awakenings.  Those come with less frequency, and I like to believe that one day the unsettled feelings will fade away completely.

One of the great wonders of being my age is that I am still discovering new friendships, and earnestly cultivating them.  One of these is with our friend Ted Grant, a photojournalist with 60 years professional experience under his belt and many, many awards to show for it.  This past week my husband and I travel to British Columbia to spend a few days with Ted, something we've been planning to do since Ted came to visit us in California a few years ago.  Talk about your salt of the earth fellow who tells it like it is! 

We told stories over glasses of scotch (his is very peaty and thoroughly disgusting) and chocolate covered cherries.  We love to hash out what makes for a good photograph, and what stinks about some modern photography.  We have our opinions.

My husband and Ted have known each other a long time.  They knew each others' wives, they collaborated on photographic projects.  They go way back and I am the newcomer.  Be that as it may, Ted has never made me feel anything but welcomed, loved, and appreciated.  We easily fall into interesting and intimate conversation and I treasure our talks.

This trip, we visited Butchart Gardens to view the fall color.  Imagine, my second fall color trip in two weeks!  This place is out of this world.  Even in the pouring rain, which is what we experienced.  We tried to wait it out over coffee and snacks, but it became apparent we were going to have to suck it up and get out there.  Luckily, our hosts keep a ready supply of clear plastic umbrellas.  Off we went, encountering sullen toddlers, over-tired 8 year-olds, and hordes of Chinese tourists with their cell phone cameras.  Lots of selfies, don't you know?  Selfies with all the grandeur around us?  Really!

We flew home on a 6:00 a.m. flight, which required rising at 3:30 a.m.  We told Ted to please please sleep through it all, but he insisted on sending us off.  That is a true friend.  It was a memorable visit with an honest and true human being.  Our friend.  One of many that I have had the pleasure of knowing in my lifetime.  He gives me hope that life can be long and productive; one can encounter adventure and discoveries at any age.  He accepts invites to speak for various groups and impart his experience and knowledge.  He loves connecting with audiences and individuals.  He has a lot to give to others, and has always mentored young folks.  An exemplary existence. 

So, yeah, his friendship warms my soul.  Aren't I the lucky one?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Musings

This is a strange time.  My nightly dreams are full of fright and fight.  I'm angry in the awake world
as well.  I am disheartened by Der Drumpf, angry at him, angry at his campaign.  As more women come forward, my heart sinks and my fury grows.  The current nomenclature is that these stories "trigger" me, and they do.  I am uneasy with the term, and used to scoff at college kids who were 'triggered' by words they heard on campus.  Grow up, I thought.  Toughen up; you'll never make it in this harsh world if you don't.

A particularly moving piece, Grab Her, got me remembering many many incidents that I endured, and that girls I knew endured.  I don't dwell on these memories, in fact many of them have been safely locked away all my life.

When I was 11 years old, developing breasts and wearing a bra, the boys at school would sneak up behind me and vigorously pull on the back of the bra, causing it snap against my skin.  They made jokes about breasts and felt entitled to pull on my underclothing.  It got so bad, that my parents switched schools for me.  Bullying with an extra sexually menacing twist.

At 13 or 14, when visiting my best friend, her dad would make comments about my breasts.  He'd say to his daughter when he answered the front door, "Oh, ______, Tara and her sweater lumps are here!"  This made me feel deeply ashamed and I wanted to crawl into a dark space and hide.  I can hardly believe he felt entitled to comment on my body.  But it was in jest, right?  Hahahaha.

Around this same time, girl friends of mine were telling me of being raped by boyfriends who got tired of waiting for sex.  So they just took it.  It was frightening to hear how powerless they were.  How much danger they were in.  And in the end, it was "just one of those things."  If you didn't want to be raped, just don't make-out with guys.  Simple solution.

At 16 or 17, I was assaulted by the boss' son.  I got pissed off, screamed and struggled my way out of being penetrated against my will, but the episode left me terribly shaken.  Later, I would learn there was a bet as to who in the company could 'get' me first.  It was a game the men were playing.  A sick, cruel game.

In college, I applied to the photographic arts program and was required to show my portfolio to the head of the department.  At our meeting, he slowly looked through my work, saying nothing.  Then he said he felt I wasn't ready, and that I should 'work' with him and 'develop a personal relationship' with him in order to improve my chances.  Like many women when we hear these outrageous words, we cannot believe we heard what we thought we heard.  I mumbled something about needing to get to class, gathered up my work, and split.  The next term, there was a visiting professor in the photography program who was reviewing portfolios.  I took her mine, virtually unchanged from the first review, and she was very complimentary and readily accepted me into the program.

All my life I have been taught, by observation, to be wary of men.  My experience is not  unique among women.  As I've grown older, women have shared their horror stories with me:  molested by an uncle, gang raped at a college party, raped by a father, raped for hitching a ride, raped for walking home from work in the dark.  How is it that this kind of criminal behavior still flies under the radar in 2016?

Every time a woman comes out with her Drumpf story, I am horrified.  I am also glad that they have found the courage to speak out.  His denials ring hollow.  I know who I believe, because I know that kind of man.  I know how, as a victim, every cell in your body tells you to hide what happened to you.  You are ashamed, and afraid, and you keep your mouth shut.

The court case wherein an adult woman accuses Drumpf of raping her when she was 13, is scheduled to get a hearing in December of this year.  December?  Really?  We can't find a way to hurry this along before the election?  What if this monster wins the Presidency and then is found guilty in court of rape and of threatening the victim and her family (allegedly).  What then?

How do we work our way out of this hateful cultural situation where too many men feel entitled to commit crimes against women?  We stop it on the sports fields.  We stop it in the classroom.  We stop in it our homes.  We stop it in the work place.  A full-on campaign a la the campaign against cigarette smoking.  We empower women to speak up when assaulted, we assure them that their stories will be heard.  We respect them in the hospitals, the police station and the courts.  We stop sexualizing women at every turn:  news anchors, runway models, lingerie advertisements, the list goes on and on.  We teach respect.  And hey, Amy Schumer, I love you dear, but stop doing photo shoots where you are the half naked buxom bombshell, okay?  We get it: round women are sexy as hell.  Move on.

Women don't share these painful stories for 15 minutes of fame, as the GOP criminal claims (lock him up).  We share because we see a menace among us and we share because we want to shine the light on the predators.  We are going to change the culture.  And we will not be silent anymore.

Friday, October 14, 2016


We went away for this week, to the Eastern Sierra.  It's incredible that, as a native Californian, I'd never been down Hwy 395.  Up north, it skirts Nevada, dips into it a bit, and then takes you to a vast and open landscape that is truly awe inspiring.

We went to see the fall color, which was abundant and glorious.  We stayed in Mammoth Lakes with a friend and several new friends, in a condo.  It was a friendly group, and we agreed to not discuss politics, which helped immensely.  We were there to indulge our creative photographic impulses, and that we did.  The guys we were with are great technical, mechanical masters at their art.  It was instructive to listen to their talk.

At 8,000 feet we were out of breath.  I had been experiencing asthma for the previous week, so it was a bit of a stretch for me to go up in altitude, but my desire for adventure and beauty outweighed by wheezing lungs.  I took it slowly, used my medical tools and pushed through.

Mono Lake was a great surprise -- I had no idea how big it is.  When drop down from a hill and get the first glimpse of it -- WOW.

We also made it to the historic town of Bodie, which at one time was a gold and silver mine town, with 60 bars and probably as many cat houses.  It is a rich source for photographers, and I'm not at all sure I captured it well (still editing photos) but it was great to finally go there and walk around.

The park opens at night during the full moon and is a popular event for photographers. 

There is a cemetery as well (as one would expect) but we were too bushed at that point to have a look.  Next time.  We love cemeteries.  Such a rich history there.

We drove home a day early, as there were dire forecasts of 100 mph winds and big rain coming into the area.  Our fellow shooters stayed and the aforementioned winds didn't really kick up, so they had an additional day of shooting.  In any case, we were pooped out due to altitude and travel, and are happy to be home now.  The rain is falling here and that makes me very happy.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, October 7, 2016


Crusoe, here, really knows how to chill on a Friday.  He's my favorite celebrity dog.

What a week.  I spent a lot of time in bed, hopped up on drugs for a bout of asthma that just wouldn't quit.  First time in 2 or 3 years, and it's thrown me for a loop.  It also makes me remember how healthy I've been over the last few years, and how grand that is.  We take it for granted.

Today is my husband's birthday.  I've been too sick to go out and get him anything, but chest willing, I'm taking him to dinner tonight.  A little over a week ago, he and I went to the senior living place that turned my folks down (after wooing them heavily and enthusiastically).  We spoke to the head person, had a productive meeting, and my parents followed up yesterday.  Like magic - poof! - they were offered an apartment, on the spot.  So, they'll think on it over the weekend, but I think they're going to take it.  Cross fingers.  Mother's decline is significant enough that I've been exceedingly worried about her care, and dad's burn out.  I had a "come to Jesus" talk with them a couple of weeks ago and let them know I was at the end of MY rope with their indecision.  I'm feeling hopeful for the first time in months.

Meanwhile, Matthew bears down on Florida after killing people in Haiti and Cuba, and there are folks IN THE FLOOD ZONE who refuse to leave.  One fella sent his family away, but in the interview said, "I'm going to stay and protect my property."  Great.  The family will lose their property and their husband/father.  What a plan.  I don't understand people like this, but let's be honest, I don't understand most human behavior.  Dogs are more sensible.

Lucy has been at my side, in bed, this entire week.  She is the ultimate lap dog, and if you're stationary for any reason, she's there to suck up to your warm body.  She's a comfort. 

 To my friends in the US, Mexico, France, UK, Canada, Australia, Spain, and Latin America (it's a small world after all):

Have a great weekend!