A Thousand Pictures

One of the best ways to preserve photographs is to create photobooks.  It is also one of the most expensive.  However, people are more receptive to look at your work in a book than a photo album or heaven forbid, a slide show.  Nothing can chill a heart faster than “Let’s look at slides of my last vacation!”, unless of course, you signed up for a guided tour beforehand.

In the 70’s if you saw someone haul out the 500 lb. slide projector after dinner you were in big trouble.  Worse, your Mother dusts off the album of you in your diapers and plops down beside your beau.  Yipes!

A picture is worth a thousand words, but for some, a thousand pictures is worth only one word.

Monty Python had a fabulous take on this: “Here’s Ted beside the house…and there’s Ted in front of the house, and oh, look!  There’s Ted behind the house…” while the captive audience tears up and throws each handed picture away.

One of my Mothers favourite photo albums was pictures of people she went on a trip with to Portugal.  She couldn’t remember who they were, she was just happy to have had so many friends at once!  Mom loved to be adored, she was a bit of a diva.

I loved a photobook a friend did of her trip to Africa.  It was so good I requested some of the photo’s for myself.  Others however bring their books out as bragging rights to exotic places I’ll never get to see.

Perhaps the worst bragging rights belongs to Professionals, who being paid to give a talk on their chosen profession, begin the talk with slides of their pregnant wife.  Eeewww!

The absolute worse case belongs to a sales rep who came to our business with an album of his wife giving birth.  In colour.  He insisted we look at every picture (and there were a lot) while he gave us a running commentary.  Ugh!

And then there was the man who dropped off a photo album for me at my office, which contained pictures of women in bondage.  Sorry – but that did not go unpunished, I reported him.

So come to think of it, all my photo’s of Sam, sunsets, forests, lakes and the odd awful selfie don’t seem so bad after all.  I won’t make you look at all of them.  Maybe, just one….or two…

Vega Bound

A brand new 1974 Chevrolet Vega station wagon was the first, and only car I ever owned.  A gift that I drove for the next 12 years with love.  Quarter panels were replaced, entire car repainted once, the in-line 4 engine replaced by a blue Buick V-6 (now she flew!), and that beautiful little car took me everywhere!  I cried buckets when I had to let it go.

Those days I loved to drive.  I would leave for work early just to take the scenic route, and often did not come home until way past sunset.  I loved the road.  I loved cars.

Though I never had the pleasure of owning another vehicle, I rented one nearly every weekend.  Mom and I explored every road that presented itself.  Fond memories of back roads through heavy forests, encounters with wildlife, including a moose!, discovering pristine lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls, and roads that seemed to go on forever.

Despite the pleasures of quiet drives in the country, I was also very fond of muscle cars and drag racing.  I date myself with reference to nitro funny cars and modified stock, the glory days of Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, Grumpy Jenkins and the like.  Spent weekends glued to the stands at such events as Sanair, Indianapolis and the Gatornationals, and every summer Sunday at Luskville.

Over the years I kept my love of automobiles barely alive and was saddened by this.  My Mother died and I stopped driving, boyfriends with cars that took me canoeing, camping and on weekend getaways have gone.  My income too small to support a vehicle and hope to retire too.

I lost touch with the modern vehicle until last year, I decided to rekindle my automotive affections and attended a car show.  I spent my time looking under hoods, listening to sales pitches, and exhausted myself eyeballing beautiful works of metal, glass, plastic and fiberglass art.

I fell in love with a white Jaguar XE and could have sat in that car all day.  My finger prints are still etched on the steering wheel where they pried them off.

A Chevrolet Traverse also caught my eye.  A real SUV, not a glorified hatchback, that caused me to dream of hauling camping gear, canoe and paddleboard off into the sunset once again.  Ah, to dream.

Alas, with all this fantasizing, the best I could do was subscribe to Automobile Magazine for 3 years and read it cover to cover.  A most excellent written drive!

Maple Heart

Every year, end of May, early June, the maple trees on our property rain down thousands of helicopter seeds.  Great quantities accumulate on the roads and pathways, creating a loud grating sound when rearranged by wind, shuffled through by feet and sadly, crushed under tires.

And every year I carefully select the plumpest, most ready seeds and plant them.  Typically I plant 20, or slightly more, my ability to limit myself dwindles as the end of the seed season does.  There is very little soil in the city, and I see potential lost in each seed that fails to find soft ground and perishes to the elements.  I wish I could give every seed the opportunity to experience being a tree, if only for a summer.

Great joy to watch them split their skins and send up miniature versions of their future selves within 3 days of touching soil.  In a few days they are already several inches tall and pushing hard to shed their shells.  I assist sometimes on those whose casings refuse to yield, and instantly two plump cotyledons spread out and seem to sigh.

Those fresh young shoots are ravenous for sunshine and in a short space of time I have my own miniature maple forest on my balcony.  I love to watch them grow.  Being pot bound they seldom get higher than a foot, but they have magnificence holding their leaves proudly out, two by two at 90 degree opposites.

I try to overwinter them, but they are wild things and need the outdoors.  One survived 3 years with me and was about 4 feet tall, but the rest perish.  Currently several have leafed out, which brings me joy commonly reserved for June.  Sadly they don’t make it, no matter how much love and attention I give them.  I dream of having a place to plant them outside, where onlookers would not question my activity or ultimately have me fined and hauled away!

My love for maple trees began at an early age.  At home a lovely sugar maple blessed my bedroom window view.  We had all kinds of trees, plants and flowers on a half acre of land.  Dad rescued a little red maple from a store and planted it on our front lawn.  I was out there every day watering and talking to it until it became one of the largest trees on our lot!

During a storm my bedroom view maple broke, and Dad was out there the next morning mending it.  He was worried I’d lose my tree!  He affixed two large diverging branches together with a bolt and chain so the wind would not further damage it.

My little pot bound home grown maples will never get that large, but I care for them dearly.  Summer is still a long ways off, sunshine scarce and the air in the apartment definitely not spring quality.  All of my plants suffer the winter blahs and some give up.  But I keep a careful eye on those tender young maples and hope they see one more season at least.

Black and White

My shelves are overflowing with albums filled with black and white photographs of days long gone; of my Mother, Father and family.  Slowly they are being scanned to computer and archived into acid free portfolios. However this is mostly a future retirement project as it is very labor intensive.

A nostalgic love affair for the 1950’s and 60’s photo’s, film and TV has consumed me, a result of too much winter and a longing to return to my youth.  My childhood was a joyful time even in black and white.

I cherished my first camera, a bulky black plastic box with a round view finder, black strap on top and cylindrical film canister you had to load onto a reel.  Suburban flora and fauna captured in still life; squirrels, birds, the pet cat, my Mom’s elaborate flower gardens.  I’ve come a long way since then into the age of digital, but I pine for those black & white film days.  It was bulky, messy and time consuming, but darling.  I miss the hands on work of creating black & white photo’s.

When I took photography at College in the 1970’s we developed our own film.  Definitely a labor of love.  Colour developing required very expensive equipment and none of us could touch it until we mastered the black & white techniques.

I was also quite the TV and movie buff in my early years.  In this booming age of technology I have been fortunate to revisit much of this on DVD.  They do look better on a big LCD screen than the curved grey glass of our old black & white TV!  Many films and series have stood the test of time.  I was raised on long slow films so I can endure them.  Modern films bore me with jumbles of fast moving snap shots of non stop action that lack cohesion.  Nothing can beat a good story, in film, photo or black print on a white page.

On top of my bookcase is a favorite black & white photo of my Brother and Dad ready to leave on a fishing trip.  There is something about the tones and details of the greys, blacks and whites that is so pleasing to my eyes.

This is very strange to love black & white because most of my art works are very bright collages of near neon colour.   And I do love colour photography, yet . . .

There is definitely a mood to black & white that you can’t replicate in colour.  It evokes an emotion that takes me back home.

Perhaps when I retire I will pursue black & white photography once more, maybe even film!  Give my senior years a mood!

I can try to recreate some of my lost youth, but it all seems so long and black and white ago.