Friday, August 25, 2017


I met my goal this week of getting to the gym three times! Yay for me!  (I'm focusing on the positive, here, folks.)  Today I really worked hard and pushed beyond what I thought I could do.  Such a great feeling of accomplishment.  It doesn't always happen that way, so when it does, it makes me super happy.

My friend Kathy sent me this great photo today, which was taken on our trip to Cuba.  Fran is photo bombing me.  I haven't seen Fran since the trip, but I'd sure like to.  She is an extremely kind and generous woman, with great photo talent.

Perhaps we'll meet again someday in a workshop with Peter Turnley.  Love to go to his Paris workshop.  He knows the joint inside and out, having lived there for the last 40 or so years.

Steve and I are working on a book of our Cuba photos.  All black and white.  I've made one book, but this one will be more comprehensive and adding his work to mine will make it a more substantial piece.  It will be available on for all those who are interested.  Stay tuned.

Our trip to North Africa is something to look forward to.  We think that maybe in 5 years it may not be safe for Westerners to travel there, so we've got to do it now.  The whole idea of Morocco was a fluke, but once the notion took hold, whoa.  We've got our books to read in preparation, and a friend stopped by yesterday to drop off another photo book of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia hilltop towns.

As photographers, and lovers of the countryside, we are truly excited!

As Texas is bracing for the hurricane, we are bracing for record high temps over the weekend.  103 and 106 degrees.  Jeez, I thought we were past this.  Tomorrow early there will be full scale military style watering in our yard.  We lost plants earlier in the summer due to high temperatures, and I do not want a repeat of that.

We harvested the entire crop of figs yesterday.  Grand total of TWO.  WTF?  Second year of fruit.  Maybe next year will be our jackpot.  That's the way it is with fruiting plants and trees.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  We've got quite a number of olives on our trees this year.  I'm going to let them stay on the trees a bit longer so the majority of them turn a very pretty shade of purple.  They are labor intensive to brine (each olive must be scored across the top) and while the green ones were okay, I'm looking for a deeper flavor.

Growing edibles is hard work.  I'm amazed at friends who harvest all kinds of fruits and veggies in their own gardens.  Some friends enter their bounty into county fairs.  And win!  They have more energy than I do.  It can be extremely satisfying, which makes the work a pleasure instead of a drudge.  But these days, meh, I'm not so enthusiastic.

Hope you have a good weekend, and for my friends in Texas I hope you are safe!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Musings

Here comes the sun...and there it goes.  I'll be watching the eclipse on PBS or the NASA site.  We had a partial one a few years ago, and while it was interesting, I just can't get all super hyped up about it.  It's a natural phenomena and cares not what we on earth think about it.  I think of all the people gathering to watch this thing, choking the roads with cars, cramming into farms turned into campsites.  I suppose its a good thing the farmers are making money from this whole thing.  I don't begrudge them.  Just. Not. Feeling. It.

This song is kind of where I'm at these days. It's frankly all too much. I was telling my husband we need to take a trip and go someplace with no access to media, phones, etc. I do realize I can, and should, abstain, in the here and now. But I am sucked into it. I need discipline imposed from the outside.  This is true with so many things!  Why can I 'perform' when when required from outside sources but not so much when it is strictly up to me?

Since I've returned from Colorado, I have hardly gone to the gym.  And the resulting inertia just feeds on itself.  So, I told my husband that I want to go back to a M/W/F routine, no ifs and or buts.  We I had to be accountable to my trainer, I went and I worked hard.  I know how good it made me feel.  Why isn't that enough to keep me motivated without a trainer?

Ack.  Feeling the blues, my friends.

It's not all bad.  I've had some very interesting conversations on Face book, mostly around racial issues.  We all know we're shouting into our own echo chamber, but sometimes there is a difference of opinion or thought that really can be explored if people are willing and respectful.  When that happens, it gives me hope.

The turmoil we are in now may eventually lead to greater democracy, greater equality, greater justice.  I just have to believe this.  It may lead to institutional change that will advance the welfare of every American, not just whites.

But, yeah.  This shit is exhausting. 

Grab a good book.  Retire to the hammock under the Cedar tree.  That's my game plan.

I'm currently reading Fragments of the Ark by Louise Meriwether.


See you on Wednesday.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Musings

President Lyndon Baines Johnson once argued, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Damali Ayo, that wonderful woman, has five steps that anyone can do to help end racism:

  1. For white people:
    Admit it: You have a race. So does everyone. Use the words “white people”. Know that racism still goes on in America and you benefit. Know that your opinions are shaped by the white experience.
  2. Listen: When a person of colour trusts you enough to tell you about an experience with racism, just listen. Do not try to explain it away or somehow make it better.
  3. Educate yourself: Read up on racism on your own, in books and on the Internet. Read books and see films by people of colour. They are part of your country, you should know this stuff. But please do not ask people of colour all kinds of strange questions!
  4. Broaden your experience: But only after the first three steps! Go alone to events and places where most people are not white – not as a tourist but to break out of your limited whitebread world. The same with your friends: you should have good friends from all sorts of backgrounds.
  5. Take action: When someone says something racist, point it out, even if it is your friend or your mother. Be gentle but firm, civil but direct. Coming from you as a white person it will have a much bigger effect . The same with the media: write a letter to the editor and say that you are white. At work and at school push for a better mix of people – it is better for everyone, even white people.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Musings

My husband gave me this fantastic magazine a couple of days ago:

Ms. Mitchell has been on the scene for a very very long time, and thank goodness.  Her work has been one of the most influential musical and artistic/poetic experiences in my life.  I think the first album of hers I purchased was For the Roses.  It would be awhile before I listened to her first albums, Song for a Seagull being the first.  I'm listening to that this morning and am transported by her genius.

I first heard the song "Michael from Mountains" from Judy Collins' album Wildflowers, 1967, when I was a mere 10 years old.  Side two contains another Mitchell classic, "Both Sides Now."  Dad bought that album, for himself, and I instantly fell in love with it.  Little did I know at the time about this singular songwriter would become so important to me.

She spoke to my adolescent dreams, in poetic language that went to the heart of things I was already feeling but could not articulate.  Here I was, a creative, artistic young woman in a family who (I felt) did not understand me at all.  Like many teens, I dreamed of a life like none that I had known.  Many of my fantasies were romantically idyllic, but isn't this the way with hormones and inexperience?  It's the stuff that dreams are made of, and propels one into independent life.  Her self awareness and empathy with the human condition were especially compelling to this girl.

"Song To A Seagull"

Fly silly seabird
No dreams can possess you
No voices can blame you
For sun on your wings
My gentle relations
Have names they must call me
For loving the freedom
Of all flying things
My dreams with the seagulls fly
Out of reach out of cry

I came to the city
And lived like old Crusoe
On an island of noise
In a cobblestone sea
And the beaches were concrete
And the stars paid a light bill
And the blossoms hung false
On their store window trees
My dreams with the seagulls fly
Out of reach out of cry

Out of the city
And down to the seaside
To sun on my shoulders
And wind in my hair
But sandcastles crumble
And hunger is human
And humans are hungry
For worlds they can't share
My dreams with the seagulls fly
Out of reach out of cry

I call to a seagull
Who dives to the waters
And catches his silver-fine
Dinner alone

- J.M.

Pure poetry.  Along with Leonard Cohen, also Canadian, perhaps one of the best musical lyricists/poets of my time.

Thanks to Steve for giving me the magazine (he knows how I love her) and sending me on this magical journey back in time.

My dreams with the seagulls fly
Out of reach out of cry

Friday, August 4, 2017


This week I watched a powerful documentary called Embrace.  It is one woman's journey to discover why women in general feel so wretched about their own bodies.  My husband watched it, too.  The ideas in the film are nothing new to me, but it is the first time in a couple of decades I have really delved into the ideas presented.  The film was a gut-check.  I cried a lot.  It hurts to see how we hate our bodies and try to live up to some non-existent ideal.  Men fall for it as well, and get extremely cruel and judgmental about a woman who doesn't match the ideal.

As a teenager, I rebelled against the images presented by Seventeen magazine, Cosmopolitan, and others.  I resented the emphasis on women's bodies, and I resented the unwelcome comments that men dished out to me daily.  Daily. 

I wore baggy overalls, let my body hair grow, did not wear make-up.  I probably felt better about my body in those days.  I was flipping the bird to the norm, and it felt good.  Which reminds me, we watched the Janis Joplin biopic "Little Girl Blue" this week.  Talk about flippin' the bird!  My appreciation of Janis came after her death in 1970.  I was in eighth grade, and my musical tastes were much more Top 40 in those days.

She lamented that she was not a "pretty girl" even though she knew that doesn't mean dick.  She had talent, smarts, and fearlessness.  Of course she was also very sad and lonely most of the time.  So here we have this mega talented musical pioneer, who was insulted over her looks and her up front honesty.  Nobody likes a smart girl.

The universe seems to be conspiring to bring me a message this week, and the topper was a video about a woman with a rare autoimmune disease that will dramatically shorten her life.  Some arshole criticized her few gray hairs and told her she looks 70 years old.  The video was fantastic, and I'd share a link if they provided one, but no.  My takeaway from the video, apart from my admiration for this wondrous woman, is that men DO THIS SHIT ALL THE TIME.  By THIS SHIT I mean feel entitled to comment on a woman's appearance.  Like, WTF?  Who the hell said it was okay to invade a person's space with your hateful comments?  Why do you feel the need to do this?  If women spoke like this to men on a regular basis, you'd better believe men would be insulted.

And then, kids, this happened:  I was on FB looking up some photographers from my past and quite by accident came upon a former photo teacher from college.  He was the guy who reviewed my portfolio to ascertain whether I should be admitted to the photography program.  He wasn't impressed with my body of work, but he was impressed with my body (I guess).  He suggested that if I wanted into the program I would need to develop a "personal relationship" with him.  I was stunned.  I think I left my body for a second there.  I grabbed my portfolio case and left his office.  I considered filing a complaint, but shit, I was 21 years old and I had no witnesses.  Who was going to believe me?  So, I find this jerk off on FB and I sent him a personal message telling him how horrible that experience was for me.  40 some years later I finally found the courage to tell this man what a pig he was.  I found myself feeling fear,  wondering if he was going to have a hateful reaction to my email.  Then I laughed/cried because 40 years later I'm still afraid of this guy!  Heaven help me!*

So, my dreams this week have been full of scenes inside of houses, busting up the furniture, taking a sledgehammer to the brickwork, going full out destructo.  The dreams are revealing to me just how angry I am.  About all of the above.  I thought I worked through the shit decades ago.  Apparently not.  Hehe.

I scream into the wind, boys and girls, I scream

Despite it all, and thank heavens, there is such goodness.  My grandson turned six years old this week.  My daughter took this amazing photo of the kids, exhausted, at the Jersey shore.

My husband and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary tomorrow, and three years of being in our home.  He loves me and I love him.  Big.  Here is a fun picture he took of me living out loud.

May you live out loud, and fuck the bastards anyway!

*The Pig did NOT admit me to the program.  I waited until the next term, when a visiting lecturer, a woman, was reviewing portfolios.  She loved my work and I was admitted.  With a very limited number of teachers in the program, I did have to work with this guy over the next two years.  I was intensely uncomfortable around him the entire time.  I watched him with the female photography students, usually wondering who had been harassed by him, or who felt compelled to comply.

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...